Albert Belle is now the voice of reason. Which also means the end times are upon us, so prepare yourself.
Belle — the ill-tempered power hitter for the Indians who left for a big contract, and who knows what it is like to be booed by Clevelanders — is hoping everyone acts like adults when LeBron James and the Cavaliers come to Cleveland Thursday night, as he told the Plain Dealer.
“My advice to LeBron is to take the high road and act professional,” said Belle. “I hope the fans do the same. I don’t want them to embarrass themselves on TV. I’d like to see everybody hug and kiss before the game and then the fans can boo the heck out of LeBron during the game.”
He’ll get his wish on the booing. Belle got booed and worse. He left Cleveland for the big money contract in Chicago with the White Sox in 1997 — and for Belle’s homecoming someone had rented a plane so he could drag a derogatory message over the stadium. But that wasn’t all.
“It was crazy,” said Belle. “They were throwing batteries. Someone threw a pair of binoculars.”
It could happen again, although everyone is hoping that is not the case. Even Belle.
DeMarcus Cousins grew up in Alabama, played collegiately at Kentucky and now plays in New Orleans.
So, yeah, the Pelicans star has an opinion on Confederate statues.
Cousins, via TMZ:
“Take all them motherf*ckers down,” Cousins said … “Take ’em all down.”
These statues glorify people because they fought a war against the United States in the name of preserving the racist institution of slavery.
Not whom I want to honor, either.
Kevin Durant knows something about star teammates not always getting along.
So, the Warriors forward is not freaking out about the disconnect between Kyrie Irving and LeBron James and Irving’s subsequent trade request.
Durant, via Chris Haynes of ESPN:
“It’s just a regular NBA problem, right? A lot of teams have gone through this before,” Durant told ESPN. “They’ll figure it out. That’s a great organization, a championship organization. They’ll figure it out.”
“It’s not the end of the world,” Durant said. “Both of those guys won a championship together. They love each other. If Kyrie wants to do something else, that’s on him. I’m sure whatever happens, it’ll work out for the best for both of them. But it’s just a normal NBA problem. It’s just two big stars that it’s happening to.”
Durant is definitely right in the larger sense. Teammates spat and requests trades more often than we realize. Remember, both Irving and the Cavaliers probably prefer this never became public.
But I’m not sure Cleveland will figure this out with the ease Durant suggests. David Griffin, who had proven so adept at putting out these fires, is gone. LeBron’s free agency looms. This could be extremely destructive to the Cavs.
The fact that this “regular NBA problem” became public only intensifies it – and raises it something greater.
Jordan Mickey – the No. 33 pick by the Celtics in 2015 – became the first second-round pick in memory to sign the year he was drafted and receive a higher initial salary than first-round picks.
He’s keeping the checks coming.
Shams Charania of Yahoo Sports:
Mickey will be the Heat’s 16th player with a standard contract, though Matt Williams (unguaranteed) will likely be waived to meet the regular-season roster limit.
I’m not sure where Mickey fits on this team, which already has several bigs. Hassan Whiteside, Bam Adebayo and Kelly Olynyk will likely play ahead of him. Miami also has A.J. Hammons (who might be just dead salary) and Udonis Haslem (who might provide nothing more than veteran leadership).
The Heat could just see Mickey as someone they can develop. At that point, how he fits into the current roster doesn’t really matter.
Mickey – 6-foot-8 with a 7-foot-3 wingspan – is a mobile defender with nice timing for blocking shots inside. He even possesses a work-in-progress 3-pointer in his arsenal. There’s plenty for Miami to help mold.
The players union released its long-anticipated long-overdue awards, and there are some doozies. First of all, I still can’t figure out what Chris Bosh – who was announced as the “host” of the Twitter-released awards – has to do with this. But let’s get to the actual winners.
Here are the major awards, with the traditional award/Players Voice equivalent:
No surprise Westbrook won both MVPs. He deserved them. Still, James Harden could’ve hoped for a split result like in 2015, when Stephen Curry won actual MVP and Harden won the players’ version.
There’s obviously slight differences in the other categories. I think Green had the best defensive season and deservedly won Defensive Player of the Year, but I also think Leonard is the NBA’s best defender and therefore deserved this honor. I would’ve picked Andre Iguodala for Best off the Bench (and Sixth Man of the Year, for what it’s worth), though that’s a minor quibble. But how on earth did Joel Embiid not win Best Rookie? He was the best rookie in years, let alone this season. I picked Brogdon for Rookie of the Year based on his overall contributions in far more playing time, but there should have been no question about the best rookie.
The union also released several awards without a corresponding NBA honor:
- Comeback Player of the Year: Joel Embiid
- Hardest to Guard: Russell Westbrook
- Clutch Performer: Isaiah Thomas
- Global Impact: LeBron James
- Player You Secretly Wish Was On Your Team: LeBron James
- Most Influential Veteran: Vince Carter
- Best Dressed: Russell Westbrook
- Best Social Media Follow: Joel Embiid
- Coach You’d Most Like to Play For: Gregg Popovich
- Best Home Court Advantage: Warriors
LeBron winning Player You Secretly Wish Was On Your Team has to be an implicit slap in the face to Kyrie Irving. I’m glad to see Thomas and Carter deservedly recognized.
Lastly, the union awarded a Teammate of the Year on each team:
Dirk Nowitzki won the NBA’s Teammate of the Year – which is voted on by current players after a panel of former players selects nominees – then didn’t even win for his own team here? That’s just weird.