Udonis Haslem speaks of his mother to inspire Heat teammates

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Udonis Haslem’s mother died this summer. Damn you, cancer.

Monday afternoon, with the Heat’s 2006 championship trophy in the room along with just the players, Haslem spoke about it. Passionately. And moved his teammates.

Haslem was close to his mother, he spent a lot of time by her side in Miami this past year as she got more ill and more ill. The Palm Beach Post asked the last time he saw her smile.

“When she learned I was coming back to the team,” Haslem said.

Haslem, the long-time Heat player, was named co-captain along with Dwyane Wade. He spoke to the team from his heart Monday, being raw and truthful with them in a way rarely seen in an NBA locker room.

“There’s only one way we’re going to get this done, and that is together,” Haslem said, adding, “What I want guys to understand is it’s not just about basketball for me, or else I would have gone somewhere else. And other guys could have done the same thing. I don’t want (anything) to come between us and winning an NBA championship that we can control. That starts with everybody being vocal, everyone being leaders, not just me and Dwyane.”

Unlike the stars of this team, Haslem was not blessed with an NBA game at birth. He earned it. He had to go to France to play after the University of Florida, he had to drop 70 pounds and work on rounding out his skills (in college he was a back-to-the-basket center), plus finding what he could be exceptional at. He worked hard at his craft. He was passionate about it.

Starting in 2002, he earned a spot on the Heat. Now he has a chance to help earn his second NBA title, and he doesn’t want that to slip away. He wanted his teammates to understand his passion, and what needs to be done.

LeBron James told Fox Sports Florida the team got that.

“Udonis is a real heartfelt, pure person,” James said. “With the passing of his mother this past summer he has a lot to play for. It’s difficult when you lose a loved one and wish that she could be around this moment. We have to, as players, make sure we understand what type of year this could be for him and have his back all year.”

Jazz boost international bona fides with new minor-league coach

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SALT LAKE CITY (AP) — Martin Schiller has been named coach of the Salt Lake City Stars, the Utah Jazz’s NBA G League affiliate.

Schiller previously served as an assistant coach of MHP Riesen Ludwigsburg in Germany and replaces Dean Cooper. He was an assistant coach for the Artland Dragons from 2010-15.

Schiller has also been an assistant coach on the German National Team since 2015, where he worked with Jazz assistant coach Alex Jensen.

Schiller hails from Vienna, Austria, and Stars vice president of basketball operations Bart Taylor lauded him for his international experience and player development background.

The Jazz organization is known to have close relationships with the international basketball community. The Jazz currently have eight international players.

Kyrie Irving will wear No. 11 with Celtics

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BOSTON (AP) — Newly acquired guard Kyrie Irving will wear No. 11 in Boston because the Celtics already have retired the numbers he wore in college and with the Cleveland Cavaliers.

Irving wore No. 11 at two New Jersey high schools before switching to No. 1 at Duke. He wore No. 2 with the Cavaliers for the first six years of his NBA career.

The Celtics retired No. 1 for founder and original owner Walter Brown. They retired No. 2 for former coach and general manager Red Auerbach.

In all, the Celtics have retired 21 numbers, with Paul Pierce’s No. 34 next in line for the TD Garden rafters.

 

PBT Extra: Cavaliers’ new GM aces first big test with Kyrie Irving trade

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Everyone in the NBA — heck, nearly everyone living in the Western hemisphere — knew Kyrie Irving wanted out of Cleveland. That should kill the Cavaliers’ leverage and make it hard to get enough quality back.

New GM Koby Altman — the guy thrust into the job when David Griffin was shown the door — pulled it off brilliantly.

That’s what I talk about in this new PBT Extra. With Isaiah Thomas and Jae Crowder, the Cavaliers remain the team to beat in the East this season. The Brooklyn Nets pick gives them flexibility going forward, whatever LeBron James decides to do next season.

First time at the plate in the big leagues and Altman crushed it to straight away center field.

Cavaliers-Celtics deal first offseason trade involving players who just met in NBA Finals or conference finals

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The Cavaliers and Celtics played in last year’s Eastern Conference finals. The teams were widely expected to meet there again.

Yet, Cleveland and Boston just completed a blockbuster trade – Kyrie Irving for Isaiah Thomas, Jae Crowder, Ante Zizic and the Nets’ 2018 first-round pick.

That seemed odd.

In fact, it’s unprecedented.

That is an incredible fact, one which speaks to LeBron Jamescachet. The Cavs are emphasizing this season, LeBron’s last before a player option, by loading up with veterans Thomas and Crowder. With LeBron still reigning in Cleveland, the Celtics are delaying their peak by acquiring the younger Irving.

Adding to the intrigue: the Cavs and Celtics are still favored to meet in this year’s conference finals. At minimum, they’ll face off in a(n even more) highly anticipated opening-night matchup.