Don’t assume Erik Spoelstra knows how all this is going to fit together.
He’s spent all summer thinking about what the Miami Heat will look like next season — and as head coach he has some say in the matter — but he told Ira Winderman of the Sun Sentinel he wants to let the action on the court tell him what to do.
That starts with the starting lineup.
“I don’t have those positions inked right now,” he said. “I have a pretty good idea of three of my starters. And from there, a lot of it will depend on chemistry, dynamic and how the team comes together…”
“One of the things going into camp is it’s not going to be conventional all of the time,” he said. “And when I’ve talked to the players this year, I don’t want to box the players into a quote, unquote position. We have players here that can play multiple positions, that are versatile.”
This goes back to the idea of LeBron and Wade playing some point, for example. Or Bosh at the five and LeBron at the four in a speed lineup. He’s got a 400-page playbook of ideas. Literally. Spoelstra has options, and he’s spent the summer thinking about them.
He’s got options on defense, too.
He again plans to work a zone into his defensive approach and even met this summer with Syracuse coach Jim Boeheim, a leading proponent of the alignment. “He talked about how zones work that much better when you have more talented players, with more IQ, more of a feel for the game, more ability to cover ground, that it’s even more dangerous then,” Spoelstra said.
How the Heat come together is going to be an interesting basketball experiment.
As of tomorrow, training camps around the league open, and all the focus goes to the 2016-17 season.
For fun, let’s look back one more time at last season — the 50 top circus shots of last season.
Stephen Curry driving the lane and throwing up prayers once he draws contact (and hitting them), there is Russell Westbrook throwing the inbounds pass off an opponent’s back, and so much more. Enjoy. Then let’s get on with next season.
Kevin Garnett intimidates people. In the machismo-fueled world of professional sports nobody comfortably admits they were intimidated, but in the wake of Garnett announcing his retirement, a number of players stepped forward to say exactly that. And that KG trashed talked them fearlessly.
Oklahoma City’s Steven Adams found a way to avoid that — tell KG he didn’t speak English.
Adams was lucky, KG had a reputation for going harder at foreign-born players with his trash talk and intimidation. Then again Adams is not the kind of guy prone to be intimidated.
Athletes are injecting themselves into the needed national conversation about race, violence, and policing in this nation. That has taken some very public forms, including LeBron James, Chris Paul, Dwyane Wade and Carmelo Anthony speaking at the ESPYs, and Colin Kaepernick taking a knee during the national anthem and leading others to do so. Some NBA players likely will follow Kaepernick’s lead.
Pistons coach/GM Stan Van Gundy likes seeing players speak out.
A couple of his Detroit players — Reggie Jackson and Marcus Morris — said they backed the 49ers quarterback. Here is what the never shy Van Gundy said about all of it, via Vincent Ellis of the Detroit Free Press.
“I’m encouraged by the fact of what some of those guys stood up and did at the ESPYs and had a conversation,” Van Gundy said. “I’m really proud of the fact that we have guys that not only see the problem, but want to try to do something about it…
“To me, in some ways, (police brutality is) just the most visible to focus on and it goes to deeper inequities in our criminal justice system, our education system so there’s so much to focus on,” Van Gundy said. “I think it’s great that we have players that want to be part of that conversation, and a lot of players that want to go beyond the conversation and be part of the solution.”
Van Gundy has been telling his players part of that solution is to vote.
The players union and NBA sent out a release saying they wanted to work together to create positive change, but details are still vague on what that might be. The only thing we know for sure as we head into the NBA season — with as divided a nation and election as anyone can remember as a backdrop — is that some NBA players are going to try and keep the conversation going.
It was the last game of the group stage of the 2000 Olympic basketball tournament at the Sydney Olympics, the USA was taking on France, another USA win on its way to another gold medal.
But what we all remember is this one play — Vince Carter dunking over the 7’2″ French center Frederic Weis.
Best. Dunk. Ever.
Weis was never the same.
In an impressive career — two-time All-NBA, eight-time All-Star, hours and hours of crazy highlights — this is always going to be the highlight at the top of the list. So we will use the anniversary of this dunk to look at it one more time.
Hat tip to nitramy at NBA Reddit.