After seemingly years of hype, Tiago Splitter got a very cold reception to the NBA.
He was trying to cover Blake Griffin on the right low block when Griffin put a lighting-quick spin move on him, went baseline and threw down a monster dunk that brought the crowd to its feet.
There’s talent in Europe, but not the explosive athletes you see nightly in the NBA like Griffin. It was a fine how-do-you-do.
If Splitter did not come in as a hyped European player you would have said he had a solid first game. A workman like game. He had a dunk to get his first basket (assist from Manu Ginobili), finished with two points, two rebounds and a +4 in 10 minutes. Some will expect more, but Gregg Popovich warned against that.
“It’s kind of funny how this all evolves,” Popovich said. “Everybody knows he’s a pretty good player. He was an MVP in Europe and they won this and they won that and he’s experienced. Then all of a sudden it got into, ‘well, you got another big guy who can step out and shoot those threes.’ Well, this kid never shot a three in his life. Where did all this come from?
“This isn’t the next Tim Duncan, this is a blue collar guy who is a good rebounder, a good defender, high quality worker, a blue collar guy. This isn’t a throw him the ball and go score 24 tonight.”
Splitter did some nice things. He fought Griffin for a rebound and ended up with a tie ball. He ran floor well on defense with DeAndre Jordan. He got the ball in the post and a smart kickout to Ginobili in the corner, who whipped it on to Gary Neal for a three.
It was a solid, blue collar performance. And if the Spurs can get that consistently they will be much better off for it.
The release of NBA 2K17, the latest edition of the popular 2K video-game series, is less than a month away. Players are starting to get their likenesses in the game, as well as their player ratings, and tweet them out. Magic forward Evan Fournier wasn’t too happy with the way his came out.
Fournier’s countryman Rudy Gobert got in on the fun, too, changing his Twitter avatar to Fournier’s screenshot and encouraging others to do the same. He even created a hashtag for it.
At least they’re having fun with it.
On Friday, the Jazz traded German center Tibor Pleiss to the Sixers along with two second-round picks for Kendall Marshall. The big draw of the trade for Philly was the picks, and Pleiss is not expected to stay with the Sixers, according to Comcast SportsNet Philadelphia’s Jessica Camerato.
Pleiss had a forgettable season with Utah, and the Sixers have a glut of bigs including Nerlens Noel, Jahlil Okafor, Joel Embiid and Dario Saric. It would have been virtually impossible for Pleiss to crack the rotation, and it’s unlikely another team picks up his contract, which has $3 million guaranteed this season.
As a Jordan Brand athlete, Russell Westbrook is under the same Nike umbrella as former teammate Kevin Durant. But his latest Jordan spot, released Friday, has a very pointed tagline: “Some run, some make runways.”
Given the circumstances, it’s hard to interpret that as anything other than a reference to Durant signing with the Warriors and Westbrook signing an extension with the Thunder.
For two decades, Kobe Bryant saw everyone and everything as an obstacle to overcome: The Pacers, Sixers, Nets, Magic, Celtics, Tim Duncan, Gregg Popovich, Smush Parker, a torn Achilles. It didn’t matter. Kobe’s work ethic and drive had him rising above it all.
His focus hasn’t changed now. Kobe was on the Jim Rome show, and the topic of the new-look Warriors with Kevin Durant came up, along with the “woe is me” attitude of some players (and plenty of owners and GMs).
“I would have thought less about myself if I looked at that move and said, ‘That’s unfair,'” he said. “If you’re a real competitor, you look at that and say, ‘OK, lace ’em up. Let’s go. I don’t care how many players you have over there; we’re still going to take you down.'”
Easier said than done to make that happen, but that attitude is the only one to have if you think you have a chance. You can be sure LeBron James is thinking that way and telling his Cavaliers teammates the same.
We’re going to miss Kobe.