Orlando Magic v Boston Celtics, Game 6

Winderman: Will coaches pick four Celtics for Eastern All-Star reserves?

4 Comments

Thursday night merely is the show.

No actual work is involved, as the results of fan balloting for All-Star starters are revealed.

Then conference coaches take over from there, having to fill out ballot for the seven reserves in each conference (Commissioner David Stern selects replacements for any injured players).

This year, it will be a particularly challenging task for those in the East.

And an intriguing one.

Given seven slots to select reserves, could Eastern Conference coaches actually use four of them to select Boston Celtics (Doc Rivers is spared such a conundrum, because coaches cannot select players from their own teams on their ballots)?

The fans could have made it easier if Rajon Rondo or Kevin Garnett or Paul Pierce were voted in as starters. Then the majority of coaches’ selections would not have to be from the same team.

But in a conference so bereft of All-Star talent, how can East coaches not do just that?

Getting beyond Dwight Howard, LeBron James, Amare Stoudemire, Dwyane Wade and Derrick Rose, you try finding four other Eastern Conference players more deserving to spend Feb. 20 at Staples Center than one of Rondo, Pierce, Garnett and Ray Allen, especially considering how the Celtics have dominated the conference to this stage, falling behind the Heat for a total of only two days since the start of the season.

Seriously, go ahead.

Al Horford? Fine. Chris Bosh? Certainly. Joe Johnson? More on reputation than anything else at this point, but reasonable.

But then what (one coach wondered Thursday whether Joakim Noah had played enough to be considered)?

Four Celtics and three Heat out of 12 spots? It’s not a conference, it’s a tag team.

The problem is among the other teams in the East with winning records (and there aren’t many of them), it is difficult to find another suitable name from the Bulls (Carlos Boozer?), Knicks (Raymond Felton?), Magic (Jameer Nelson?) or Hawks (and that’s likely conceding two choices to Atlanta).

And from the bottom feeders, would anyone truly feel comfortable making a case for Danny Granger or Andre Iguodala or Brook Lopez?

Perhaps in a year the NHL is moving to a fantasy draft of All-Stars, the NBA should take heed. Because the leftovers in the West likely will trump one or more at the end of the East bench.

As it is, the reserve ballots distributed to coaches over the next week might as well be colored green.

Ira Winderman writes regularly for NBCSports.com and covers the Heat and the NBA for the South Florida Sun-Sentinel. You can follow him on Twitter at http://twitter.com/IraHeatBeat.

Enjoy 50-best circus shots of last NBA season

Leave a comment

As of tomorrow, training camps around the league open, and all the focus goes to the 2016-17 season.

For fun, let’s look back one more time at last season — the 50 top circus shots of last season.

Stephen Curry driving the lane and throwing up prayers once he draws contact (and hitting them), there is Russell Westbrook throwing the inbounds pass off an opponent’s back, and so much more. Enjoy. Then let’s get on with next season.

To avoid trash talk, Steven Adams told Kevin Garnett he didn’t speak English

Kevin Garnett
4 Comments

Kevin Garnett intimidates people. In the machismo-fueled world of professional sports nobody comfortably admits they were intimidated, but in the wake of Garnett announcing his retirement, a number of players stepped forward to say exactly that. And that KG trashed talked them fearlessly.

Oklahoma City’s Steven Adams found a way to avoid that — tell KG he didn’t speak English.

Brilliant.

Adams was lucky, KG had a reputation for going harder at foreign-born players with his trash talk and intimidation. Then again Adams is not the kind of guy prone to be intimidated.

Pistons’ Stan Van Gundy “encouraged” by players speaking out, protesting social issues

CLEVELAND, OH - APRIL 17: Head coach Stan Van Gundy of the Detroit Pistons yells to his players during the first half of the NBA Eastern Conference quarterfinals against the Cleveland Cavaliers at Quicken Loans Arena on April 17, 2016 in Cleveland, Ohio. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. (Photo by Jason Miller/Getty Images)  *** Local Caption ***Stan Van Gundy
3 Comments

Athletes are injecting themselves into the needed national conversation about race, violence, and policing in this nation. That has taken some very public forms, including LeBron James, Chris Paul, Dwyane Wade and Carmelo Anthony speaking at the ESPYs, and Colin Kaepernick taking a knee during the national anthem and leading others to do so. Some NBA players likely will follow Kaepernick’s lead.

Pistons coach/GM Stan Van Gundy likes seeing players speak out.

A couple of his Detroit players — Reggie Jackson and Marcus Morris — said they backed the 49ers quarterback. Here is what the never shy Van Gundy said about all of it, via Vincent Ellis of the Detroit Free Press.

“I’m encouraged by the fact of what some of those guys stood up and did at the ESPYs and had a conversation,” Van Gundy said. “I’m really proud of the fact that we have guys that not only see the problem, but want to try to do something about it…

“To me, in some ways, (police brutality is) just the most visible to focus on and it goes to deeper inequities in our criminal justice system, our education system so there’s so much to focus on,” Van Gundy said. “I think it’s great that we have players that want to be part of that conversation, and a lot of players that want to go beyond the conversation and be part of the solution.”

Van Gundy has been telling his players part of that solution is to vote.

The players union and NBA sent out a release saying they wanted to work together to create positive change, but details are still vague on what that might be. The only thing we know for sure as we head into the NBA season — with as divided a nation and election as anyone can remember as a backdrop — is that some NBA players are going to try and keep the conversation going.

Sunday is 16th anniversary of greatest dunk ever: Vince Carter over Frederic Weis

2 Comments

It was the last game of the group stage of the 2000 Olympic basketball tournament at the Sydney Olympics, the USA was taking on France, another USA win on its way to another gold medal.

But what we all remember is this one play — Vince Carter dunking over the 7’2″ French center Frederic Weis.

Best. Dunk. Ever.

By anyone.

Weis was never the same.

In an impressive career — two-time All-NBA, eight-time All-Star, hours and hours of crazy highlights — this is always going to be the highlight at the top of the list. So we will use the anniversary of this dunk to look at it one more time.

Hat tip to nitramy at NBA Reddit.