Yao Ming is expected to officially announce his retirement Wednesday at a press conference in China. (And good on the NBA league office for clearing Rocket officials to go to the event in spite of the lockout).
As you read this, Kobe Bryant is in China, the latest of his annual trips to China to promote the game, the NBA, his brand and Nike. Kobe is the biggest American-born player in China, leading the way in jersey and shoe sales for years. (He also has his own Web site for China and his own charitable foundation for the country.)
It was inevitable that Kobe would be asked about Yao, and the New York Times has his response.
“In terms of opening up doors for Chinese basketball players to come to the NBA, or for the youth here in China to believe that it’s possible to achieve the dream of being an NBA player, all that started from Yao,” Los Angeles Lakers guard Bryant said.
“The movement that started in the NBA of the influx of European players coming to the NBA was started by Vlade Divac, Dino Radja and those guys.
“Even that movement didn’t have the impact and magnitude that Yao Ming has had. And on top of that, he’s just a heck of a basketball player to boot,” Bryant, who is in China on a promotional tour, added.
Kobe and his Lakers had some great battles with Yao and his Rockets, something our own Matt Moore looked back at over the weekend in his RetroBall series.
This has got to put a damper on the whole DeMarcus Cousins trade thing for New Orleans Pelicans fans. According to multiple reports, Omri Casspi — who was part of the trade that sent Cousins to Louisiana — has broken his thumb. The sharp-shooting forward will be out 4-6 weeks.
It’s disappointing news for the Pelicans, who could certainly use Casspi’s 3-point shooting ability. Casspi is shooting 38 percent from deep this season, and while the Pelicans make enough threes per-game they are near the bottom-third in percentage.
Casspi would have been a real help for Alvin Gentry’s offense, but for now it appears they’ll have to make do without him. Casspi should continue to occupy a roster spot for New Orleans, given his expiring contract and the fact that even if the Pelicans make a run for the playoffs they won’t be in a situation to add to their lineup since they won’t expect to get very far.
The good news out of New Orleans on Thursday night? Despite a loss to the Houston Rockets, Cousins nearly dropped a 5 x 5.
The race for the No. 8 seed is on.
New York Knicks guard Courtney Lee should have known better than to try to dunk this. Everyone in the arena knew better than to try this on LeBron James.
Then again, if players stop trying to do things like this, we won’t get videos of incredible chasedown blocks by Mr. James.
It’s a real catch-22.
Actually, you know what? Keep it up. Keep trying this on LeBron. I want to keep watching dudes get rejected.
I’m getting tired of writing this story.
Or this one.
Or this one.
Draymond Green — an excellent basketball player who has an unstoppable, basal need to kick everyone near him — has once again let his feet do the talking.
Let’s take a look at the tape to see what sort of hijinks ol’ Dray has got himself into this time.
In the last nine months, Green has hit or kicked James Harden, Marquese Chriss, Kyrie Irving, Allen Crabbe, and Steven Adams (twice).
The league has decided not to act with any strength on most of the incidents, the most recognizable of which came when Green hit LeBron James in the NBA Finals, causing him to miss Game 5. At this point, there doesn’t seem to be any consequences for Green, which is the exact reason why we keep seeing him kick dudes.
It’s wack, I’m tired of seeing it, and you should be too. See you all here the next time Green kicks at somebody. I’m sure it won’t be before too long.
DeMarcus Cousins, Anthony Davis, and the New Orleans Pelicans will take some time to mesh together. In his first game with New Orleans, Cousins saw a difficult opponent and massive deficits against the Houston Rockets. But there was some glimmers of hope.
Cousins, for example, had a productive statistical evening. The former Sacramento King put up 27 points, 10 rebounds, 5 assists, 5 steals, and 4 blocks — just one swat shy of the rare 5 x 5.
Plus, he had this sweet block on Rockets star James Harden:
The Pelicans lost to the Rockets, 129-99, but it’s going to be fun to watch New Orleans battle it out for the 8th seed in the West.