LeBron James came to South Beach to find his pure love for the game again, to recreate the best times of his life.
It was really the best explanation of all when the theories flew around about why he chose to take his talents to South Beach — the time James most enjoyed the game was when he and his close friends in high school dominated on the court and ran together off it. They had fun. This was a chance to recreate that on the biggest of stages.
That provides some context to LeBron’s comments to the Palm Beach Post about what the Heat need to do to get on track.
“There’s only so much anger that can take care of a ballgame,” James said. “You still need to go out and play. We need to play with the confidence we had earlier in the season. We need to have more fun. We are lacking two things, that is having fun and having a little bit of swag right now. We are not playing with the same atmosphere, pride and fun as we did early on in the season when we were playing some good ball.”
Of course, that’s a chicken or egg thing, isn’t it?
“I think playing a high level will help,” James said. “Fun can be taken out of character at times. You can say a team is having too much fun when you are winning, that these guys are not serious about the game. I really don’t believe in that for me, personally. That’s how I play the game of basketball. I have a lot of fun with it. It has helped me get to the point where I am today as a professional athlete. I don’t think I have brought that to the team thus far.”
Later, he added: “We are not having fun at all.”
Winning is fun, losing is not. It’s a universal truth. But is having fun what is going to get the Heat to rotate better on defense? Get them to make some off-the-ball cuts on offense? Well, if it’s not fun it might be Pat Riley’s brutal practices. So they better hope it’s fun.
Von Wafer was the quintessential gunner without a conscious during his six NBA seasons. He never saw a shot he didn’t like.His propensity to shoot rather than make the right basketball play is why he bounced around the league for six seasons. Well, that and his locker room fights and throwing of chairs and the like.
Wafer looks back on that and winces.
And he went to Twitter to beg for another chance, despite not having been in the league since 2012. The message came after a tweet showing part of his last workout.
Wafer is now 31 and last set foot on an NBA court in 2012, having played in China, Russia, Puerto Rico, and the D-League since them. We’ll politely call his comeback attempt a longshot.
But a guy who can shoot the rock asking for one more chance? We know there will be worse and stranger camp invites.
(Hat tip Ball Don’t Lie).
There are a handful of true game-changing players in the NBA. Not max players, there are a chunk of those, we’re talking “you can build a contender around him” guys. Kevin Durant is one, and he is headed to Golden State.
Stephen Curry is another. And he is a free agent next summer. So many teams — including one contender — are ready if the Durant/Curry relationship goes south, reports Ric Bucher of Bleacher Report.
Again, there are not many Curry level players; teams should have a “what if” plan. Including contenders.
That is very different than saying Curry is going to leave the Warriors — nobody around the league sees that as likely. Nobody expects a “poisonous” Durant/Curry relationship. Everyone expects Curry to re-sign for the max with the Warriors. The man just recruited Durant, now he’s going to bolt?
But like a Boy Scout, a team is always prepared. So they should have that plan, just don’t count on it for a primary option.
Rudy Gay complained about how the Kings are handling the trade rumors swirling around him.
Sacramento general manager Vlade Divac, via James Ham of CSN California:
“He has my number,” Divac told CSN California. “If I do something, I will call him. Obviously, if I didn’t call him, we didn’t do anything.”
“Look, I was a player, 16-17 years in the league, nobody called me everyday and tell me what management is doing,” Divac said. “Management was doing their job. If something big happened, they called and told me. Obviously, nothing big happened (so) I’m not going to call anybody.”
I suppose Divac can take that tack. He’s obviously not obligated to provide Gay regular updates.
But the Kings already have a reputation for putting their players in bleak positions. This doesn’t help.
Even if Divac feels calling Gay is going out of his way, so what? The alternative — Gay either coming to training camp unhappy or spreading word of Sacramento’s mistreatment of players to his new teammates after a trade — is far worse.
It’s not enough for Divac to just wait for Gay to call him — especially because Divac might not be as reliable with the phone as he thinks.
The National Basketball Players Association has talked for more than a year about covering medical expenses for retired players.
Today, the union announced a formal plan.
The National Basketball Players Association (NBPA) announced today that its player representatives have voted unanimously to fund health insurance for all retired NBA players with at least three years of service in the league. This program is the first of its kind among North American professional sports. It also exemplifies the NBPA’s focus on the health and welfare of its current, retired and future members.
“The game has never before been more popular, and all the players in our league today recognize that we’re only in this position because of the hard work and dedication of the men who came before us,” said Chris Paul, NBPA President and nine-time All-Star. “It’s important that we take care of our entire extended NBA family, and I’m proud of my fellow players for taking this unprecedented step to ensure the health and well-being of our predecessors.”
The unanimous vote – which took place during the NBPA Summer Meeting in New York on June 26 – established a multi-faceted health insurance program through UnitedHealthcare, the country’s leading health benefits provider. The current proposal includes:
Retired players with between three and six years of NBA service time but who are not yet eligible for Medicare would be offered a plan that includes medical, hospital and prescription drug coverage with modest out-of-pocket costs for deductibles and co-pays;
Those with between seven and nine years of service would be offered the same coverage with even lower out-of-pocket costs;
Retired players with at least 10 years of service would be offered the same coverage as the seven-to-nine year players, and would include coverage for their entire family;
Retired players with three-nine years of service who are eligible for Medicare would be offered a $0 deductible and $0 co-pay plan along with a low-cost prescription drug plan; those with 10+ years of service to receive this coverage for themselves and their spouse.
The open enrollment period for retired players would begin this fall, with coverage beginning on January 1, 2017.
This is a good thing.
It also could become a bargaining point in Collective Bargaining Agreement negotiations. Should current players face the entire burden of insuring retired players, or should owners split the cost? (The fact that the question is even being posed paints players in a positive light.)
But back to the bigger point: This is a good thing. It’ll help retired players who need it, retired players who helped position the current generation to afford this. Kudos to the union for stepping up.