Winderman: It’s time for an NBA Hall of Fame

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OK, exhale. No, not from the disappointment that was the NCAA men’s championship game (Butler apparently couldn’t hit the exit on its way home, either), but rather from the Basketball Hall of Fame announcements.

Teresa Edwards, Goose Tatum and Herb Magee but no Reggie Miller, who didn’t even make it to the final round of balloting?

OK, enough already. Why isn’t there an NBA Hall of Fame?

There’s a Pro Football Hall of Fame that essentially is the NFL’s shrine.

There’s a Baseball Hall of Fame that is almost exclusively Major League Baseball.

But the NBA continues to share quarters with anyone who has achieved enduring success by tossing small ball through large hoop.

Here’s the issue:

There is a Women’s Basketball Hall of Fame in Knoxville, Tenn. It bills itself as “the only facility of its kind dedicated to all levels of women’s basketball.”

There is a College Basketball Hall of Fame in Kansas City. It boasts, “You will immediately recognize that greatness lives here.”

There’s a FIBA Hall of Fame for international players in Alcobendas, Spain, “to preserve the heritage of international basketball.”

But Google “NBA Hall of Fame” and you wind right back in Springfield, Mass., at the Naismith Hall.

There you can find Sergei A. Belov, Carol A. Blazejowski, Kresimir Cosic, Joan Crawford (seriously), Drazen Dalipagic, Forrest S. DeBernardi, Anne T. Donovan, Paul Endacott, and, well that just gets us through the “E” portion of the inducted-players list.

There is no doubt that basketball success comes at all levels, all nationalities and genders.

But for an entity such as the NBA that so tries to distinguish itself among the major sports leagues, there’s something about following Goose Tatum on the podium, even if the next inductee is Dennis Rodman. Ditto for when Pat Riley had to sit through Dick Vitale’s history of his dipsy-doo dunk-a-roo life (Baby!).

No, the NBA is a large enough global brand to have it own hall of fame.

So let’s get this straight: Vince McMahon has his own (WWE) Hall of Fame and David Stern doesn’t?

No, don’t desert the Naismith Hall, but appreciate that NBA basketball is like no other brand of the game and deserves to be branded as such.

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.

Hours after game-winning tip, restaurant told Giannis Antetokounmpo he had to wait

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Giannis Antetokounmpo was the toast of Milwaukee Sunday night: With the game on the line after a Boston comeback, he tipped in a missed Malcolm Brogdon lay-up that proved to be the game winner. (Jayson Tatum was in good position for Boston, he tried to move Antetokounmpo out of his rebounding spot, it just didn’t matter.)

Well, you would have thought Antetokounmpo was the toast of the town, but when he went to BelAir Cantina (a chainlet of Mexican restaurants in the area) he was told he had to wait. And wait. To the point he eventually left.

As you might imagine, the 6’11” Antetokounmpo walking into a restaurant a couple hours after tying up the series with the Celtics drew fast attention on social media. So did the fact he couldn’t get service.

First, good on Antetokounmpo for not pulling the “do you know who I am?” line. He was reportedly unassuming and just left after a while. No hard feelings, his girlfriend later tweeted this out.

As for BelAir Cantina, I kinda get it — I worked my way through college as a waiter and bartender. The restaurant got slammed, everyone working there was in the weeds, and things fall through the cracks. It happens.

But when the 6’11” toast of the town walks in, he cannot slip through the cracks. Cannot. Rather than social media posts about him not getting served and walking out, there would have been pictures all over of him eating the lamb barbacoa or whatever. It’s good for business. If you give the man a little special treatment after the game, nobody is going to complain (except the people who were going to complain about everything anyway… in that sense working in a restaurant was good preparation for me to use Twitter someday).

 

 

Kevin Durant apparently likes Instagram comment critical of Russell Westbrook (photo)

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Last summer Kevin Durant tweeted and deleted that the Thunder’s surrounding cast around him and Russell Westbrook was lacking when he played for Oklahoma City. Those tweets – another criticized Thunder coach Billy Donovan – appeared to be intended to come from a burner account, but Durant said he actually meant to send them from his own account.

Now, he apparently liked an Instagram comment with the opposite message about Westbrook. (I say apparently, because I can’t verify the authenticity of these screenshots, but they at least pass the initial smell test.)

“Like” is Instagram’s word. Maybe Durant uses the function for a different purpose – to note a comment, rather than endorse it.

Perhaps, Durant misread the conversation. The comment he liked rejected the notion that the Thunder were “subpar,” but it criticized Westbrook for them not living up to their ability. Perhaps, Durant focused on the comment sticking up for Oklahoma City overall and missed the part about Westbrook being the shortcoming. Skimming that conversation, it’s a plausible mistake.

Maybe Durant just actually hit the like button. It’s easy enough to do.

Or maybe Durant and Westbrook haven’t really gotten less hostile toward each other. Maybe Durant meant to like this from a burner account.

Those nefarious possibilities are the scintillating ones.

After getting crushed for those tweets last summer and repeatedly downplaying his feud with Westbrook, the Warriors star clearly wanted to move on from these storylines. But all those questions have suddenly reemerged. Perhaps for legitimate reasons, perhaps for benign ones. But we won’t know more about Durant’s intent until he answers to this.

Amir Johnson on South Beach: 2006 Pistons ‘let the streets beat us’

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Amir Johnson is a savvy veteran on the young 76ers.

On the 2006 Pistons, he was a scarcely used rookie straight out of high school.

But he was learning lessons he’d apply to his current role.

Tim Reynolds of the Associated Press:

Philadelphia heeded Johnson’s advice. The 76ers won Games 3 and 4 in Miami to take a 3-1 series lead.

The Pistons went 0-3 in Miami during the six-game 2006 Eastern Conference finals. There was little shame in losing to those Heat. They pushed Detroit to seven games in the 2005 conference finals and were – with Dwyane Wade transcendent while Shaquille O’Neal remained in his prime – even better the following year.

But too much partying is a major charge and a somewhat surprising one. The Pistons were led by the same veteran core – Chauncey Billups, Richard Hamilton, Tayshaun Prince, Ben Wallace and Rasheed Wallace – that made the previous two NBA Finals and won the 2004 title. They’d been around long enough to know better.

Gregg Popovich to miss Spurs-Warriors Game 5

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Spurs coach Gregg Popovich has missed Games 3 and 4 of his team’s first-round series against the Warriors following the death of his wife, Erin.

Unsurprisingly, he won’t coach the Spurs as they leave San Antonio for Game 5 tomorrow at Golden State.

David Aldridge of NBA.com:

Popovich should take all the time he needs. Ettore Messina is capable as acting coach, and Popovich being with his family now is more important anyway.

This will probably be the final game of the series. Up 3-1, the Warriors are the better team and at home.