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.
Craig Sager couldn’t be in Rio covering the Olympics for NBC, his cancer wouldn’t allow it. That didn’t stop Team USA from reaching out to him before they left. Or from Nike designing a sweet pair of shoes for him.
Now there is good news on his battle against leukemia — he will have a third bone marrow transplant, according to his son Craig Sager II.
This is fantastic news for a man and family who have been through a lot. Hopefully, this treatment is a step forward for Sager, a man beloved by everyone around the NBA.
The Oklahoma City frontcourt is crowded. Enes Kanter and Steven Adams will start, and they will have Nick Collison, Ersan Ilyasova, Domantas Sabonis, and now Joffrey Lauvergne behind them.
Which likely means Mitch McGary‘s done as a member of the Thunder, according to Royce Young of ESPN.
McGary has battled injuries his two seasons in the league and got on the court for only 72 minutes total last season for the Thunder (he played in more games and put up solid numbers in the D-LEague). He was not part of the future there regardless. He’s an undersized five trying to play the four and what he brought as a rookie — energy — was not enough as a sophomore.
McGary will make $1.5 million this season. He may be tough to move because he’s suspended for the first five games he’s eligible to play next season for failing the league’s drug policy (five games is the standard suspension for testing positive for marijuana three times). Maybe a team looking to develop players will give him a shot, but there is little trade value for him.
If you can knock down a 19-foot shot, then a 15-footer should be easier. Right?
Apparently that — and just basic muscle memory — is the latest attempt to improve Dwight Howard‘s free throw shooting. And, he seems to be knocking down those shots.
It’s not hard to see the logic in this approach.
The challenge is form and reps are not the problems for Howard — or DeAndre Jordan or Andre Drummond or others — when it comes to hitting free throws. Anyone who says “why don’t they just practice the shot” doesn’t pay attention, these guys put in a lot of work on the shot. Pregame and in practice (I’m Los Angeles based), Jordan probably hits 65 percent from the line. At least.
The problem is mental. That can be a tougher hurdle to clear. Maybe taking 19 footers and knocking them down will have Howard feeling more confident at the stripe this season.
But we’re going to need to see it to believe it. Just like we’re going to have to see a rejuvenated Howard in Atlanta before we believe this season will be different from the last few.
Until this season, Jason Thompson had never been to the playoffs. He spent seven seasons in Sacramento before getting traded to the Warriors last offseason, and then signing with the Raptors midseason when Golden State waived him to make room on the roster for Anderson Varejao. His NBA days appear over, at least for now. International basketball reporter David Pick reports that Thompson has agreed to a deal to play in China.
Since the CBA’s season ends in March, Thompson could theoretically join an NBA team for the stretch run next year. But he didn’t appear to have much interest on the free-agent market this summer.