It’s no secret that Richard Jefferson was one of last season’s biggest disappointments. After being traded to the Spurs in the 2009 offseason, Jefferson had one of the worst seasons of his career, averaging only 12.3 points and 2.0 assists per game on 46.7% shooting from the field and 31.6% from beyond the arc.
However, the Spurs showed faith in Jefferson this summer, giving him a four-year, $38.8 million deal after Jefferson opted out of the final year of his contract. And after an offseason filled with hard work, Jefferson is ready to prove to the Spurs that they didn’t make a mistake.
After nine seasons in the NBA, Richard Jefferson decided it was time for a makeover. His shot needed an adjustment, his footwork needed improvement, his low post game needed work. So he disappeared into the gym and emerged after the summer with a new look.
Spurs coaches are raving about that look and the effort required to get it. “Richard has an incredible basketball resume, but he came to the gym a week or two after we finished the season and it was Basketball 101,” assistant coach Chip Engelland said. “For him to embrace it is a testament to his professionalism. We’re real excited.”
Jefferson spent weeks on his game in San Antonio, New York and Las Vegas. He went to the gym for two-hour morning sessions, followed by two-hour afternoon sessions, and that doesn’t include personal conditioning. “Richard committed himself to improving his game this summer. In addition to logging many, many hours on the court, he devoted a significant amount of time working on his body,” assistant coach Chad Forcier said…
…”It’s very uncommon for a player to look at himself so introspectively and understand what is needed to get back to a championship level performance like he was at when he was in New Jersey,” Pop said. “He had lost some of that focus, some of that discipline. For him to decide to get that back shows respect for his teammates, respect for the game, the respect that he wants for himself.”
Like Popovich said, it is rare for a relatively old dog like Jefferson to be so willing to learn new tricks. Hopefully Jefferson’s re-dedication to the game isn’t just training-camp hype, because the Spurs are going to need a bounce-back year from him next season.
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.