UPDATE 7:35 PM: Udonis Haslem not only was in uniform but got time starting in the second quarter for the Heat. He picked up two quick fouls, plus a technical foul for arguing the calls (the second was iffy).
So, welcome back.
6:02 pm: The Miami Heat are up 2-1 on the Boston Celtics, but their success has come despite the play of starting center Zydrunas Ilgauskas. Every time Ilgauskas has been on the floor, the Heat have gotten torched: according to basketballvalue.com, Ilgauskas has the worst +/- of any player in the playoffs by a stunning, stunning margin.
How bad have things been for Ilgauskas? When he’s on the court, the Heat have been the worst team in the playoffs. When the infinitely more athletic Joel Anthony, Ilgauskas’ backup, has been on the court, the Heat have been the best team in the playoffs. Clearly, some changes need to be made to the Heat’s front-line rotation, but Erik Spoelstra appears to have few options. Anthony can’t play 48 minutes a game, Erick Dampier hasn’t been in the playoff rotation, and Jamaal Magloire is Jamaal Magloire.
But help might be on the way for the Heat from an unlikely source: Udonis Haslem, who hasn’t played in a game since injuring his foot on November 20th. Haslem is one of two players who played on the Heat team that won a championship in 2006, took a pay-cut to re-sign with the Heat last summer, and was supposed to be one of the Heat’s key supporting players. Haslem will be active and in uniform tonight, and according to Ethan J. Skolnick of the Palm Beach Post, Haslem is ready to go, saying that he’s “in good shape,” but “isn’t sure how many minutes he can play.”
Obviously, the Heat have been able to do well enough without Haslem, but his return would be a huge benefit to them if he’s anywhere near 100% and doesn’t disrupt the chemistry. The Heat can’t do any worse than they’ve done with Ilgauskas on the floor, and while replacing Ilgauskas’ minutes with minutes for Haslem makes the Heat smaller, daring the Celtics to win by posting up Shaquille and Jermaine O’Neal isn’t the worst defensive strategy. Erik Spoelstra has some tough decisions to make, and whether or not he makes the right rotation choices could mean the difference between the Heat going back to Miami with a 3-1 series lead or a tie series.
Anyone else getting weary of the spin wars between the Kyrie Irving and LeBron James camps?
Irving thinks LeBron and his camp leaked the trade report and are trying to drag his good name through the mud. LeBron — the man who led the way in teaching other players they should take control of their destiny and where they play — is angry that a player took control of his how destiny and is about to leave him high and dry. Right now both sides are trying to control the story — does Irving really envy Damian Lillard and John Wall‘s roles over his own, or is that spin? — while fans come up with trade proposals. (No, a Kyrie for Carmelo Anthony trade is not happening.)
About the only thing that is clear is that this relationship is beyond repair. As evidence, we bring you the latest bit of spin, this from Stephen A. Smith’s sources, which are almost certainly are in the LeBron camp.
The full quote was: “If Kyrie Irving was in front of LeBron James right now, LeBron James would be tempted to beat his ass.”
I imagine if they were face-to-face right now it would look like every other NBA “fight” — they would push each other then make sure other guys jumped between them and held them apart so they could jaw but not actually have to throw a punch.
Right now, the fight between them is the sides trying to control the narrative.
No doubt LeBron is frustrated, he is in the legacy building part of his career and the Cavaliers were the consensus best team in the East with a shot at a ring next season. No Kyrie — almost no matter who Cleveland gets back in a trade — means the Cavs take a step back (while the Warriors and every other team in contention got better). LeBron feels hurt and a little betrayed and is spinning that.
Irving is within his rights to ask out. There are certainly a variety of reasons he wants out, but at the top of the list is he wanted to control his own destiny before LeBron left next summer (probably) and Kyrie was left as the star on a team built to go around LeBron. Not that Cleveland did anything wrong, that is exactly the kind of team the Cavaliers should have built, LeBron will go down as an All-Time top 5 player, and this team brought Cleveland its first ring in 54 years. That doesn’t mean Irving can’t read the writing on the wall and want out.
For now, the drama will not stop between these two — nor will the spinning.
The Minnesota Timberwolves are doing some work on their home arena, the Target Center, and it just so happens they had a special brick layer that got them started in 2013.
That extra helper was none other than comedian Dave Chappelle.
The team released a video on their social media platforms this week featuring Chappelle taking a bunch of jumpers on their floor in 2013. With a shot form somewhere between Shawn Marion and Stephen Curry, Chappelle wasn’t exactly a long range gunner.
I mean, it seems a little ridiculous to put up a video of the guy from four years ago hitting bricks and equating that to helping you remodel your home arena, but I feel like Chappelle can probably take it.
Either way, good work by the social team over in Minnesota.
Last summer, just before going to camp for the Rio Olympics, Draymond Green got into some kind of altercation with Michigan State University football Jermaine Edmondson. Green allegedly slapped him during this. Green was arrested, but the prosecutors had better things to deal with, so Green’s charges were reduced to a noise violation, where Green had to pay a $500 fine and $60 restitution fee. Because it was a civil infraction, there is no “guilty” or “not guilty” plea entered. And that was the end of it.
Or so we thought.
According to Marc Spears of ESPN, a civil suit is about to stem from this.
Golden State Warriors forward Draymond Green, facing a civil lawsuit believed to be tied to an incident last July in which he allegedly slapped a former Michigan State football player, is confident things “will be resolved soon.”…
The expectation from Green’s camp is that the lawsuit is in response to a sequence of events last July that culminated in Green allegedly slapping then-Spartan player Jermaine Edmondson. The alleged slap followed a verbal dispute outside an East Lansing bar in the early morning of July 10, 2016, and was preceded by an encounter two nights earlier allegedly involving Edmondson, his girlfriend, Green and two of the NBA star’s associates.
I’m not going to speculate on the validity of the claim, or the motive for the suit, I was not hanging out in a Lansing bar last July and I am not in the plaintiff’s head.
I can say, as someone who spent years as a young reporter covering courts and police, these kinds of cases are tough for the plaintiff to prove his/her case and get paid. While in a civil case the standard to reach drops to “a preponderance of the evidence,” the plaintiff has to prove damages. The fact prosecutors wanted nothing to do with the case usually is a sign it’s a difficult case to make.
Larry Nance Jr. is now a professional athlete for the Los Angeles Lakers, but back in 2003 Nance was just a 10-year-old kid with a dream of playing in the NBA.
During that time, Nance was apparently a pen pal with a U.S. soldier named Bianca Snow. Snow recently posted old letters from Nance to social media that shows the interaction between the two.
It’s pretty cool to see a moment in time like this.
The letters read as follows (transcription via SB Nation):
March 19, 2003
Dear U.S. Soldier,
My name is Larry Nance. I have 1 sister, 1 brother that annoy me all the time. My dad played in the NBA.
Thank you for fighting for us in the war. You must be brave and miss your family.
I hope you get home soon and see your family soon. Good luck.
Dear U.S. Soldier is the war almost over? Where is Saddam? How are you? I’m fine. Thank you for writing back. Where are you?
Are you good at basketball? I like the Lakers too they are wining there series with the Timberwolves. Who is your favorite player? Mine is Shaq. Who do you want to get LeBron James? I want the Cavs to get LeBron, that is because my dad played for the Cavs. His number is retired in the Gund Arena.
And again Thank you!!
Nance saw the post on social media and responded to Snow, inviting her to a future game.
Pretty neat stuff.