NBA official is robbed, then shows compassion to family-friend thief

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If anyone would be bitter and heartless, you’d think an NBA official would have cause. They spend most of their time getting yelled at and denigrated. Fans, players, coaches, officials, the NBA, media, you name them, the refs hear abuse from them. Nothing is ever good enough and a great call by an official will be lucky just to get a two-second mention during a broadcast.

So when a family friend robbed NBA official Mark Wunderlich recently, after years of Wunderlich helping the young man out and getting him into All-Star games and the like, you’d expect him to react coldly. Not the case. From the Chester County, Pennsylvania Daily Local: 

Jardine, of West Goshen, pleaded guilty on Thursday to charges of burglary, criminal conspiracy and related charges for engineering a nighttime break-in at Wunderlich’s Westtown home with another man in June 2010. He was sentenced as part of a plea agreement to 11½ to 23 months in Chester County Prison, although he will not be eligible for parole until he has served at least 15 months of the sentence.

Normally, a 15-month prison term would have to be spent in a state correctional institution. But according to Assistant District Attorney Ann Marie Wheatcraft, who prosecuted the case, Wunderlich had requested that Jardine be kept from that fate.

“He was very specific,” Wheatcraft told Common Pleas Court Judge Anthony Sarcione in proposing the plea agreement she had worked out with Jardine’s attorney, Robert J. Donatoni, of West Chester. “After all this, he still likes the defendant. He did not think he would make it in state prison.”

via Local NBA referee’s house robbed by son’s friend – dailylocal.com.

That’s a pretty phenomenal show of kindness from someone who doesn’t outright deserve it. Granted, he’s still pressing charges, since considering the young man’s addiction, he’s clearly incapable of controlling himself and could use some sort of corrective measure (as well as counseling). But to try and keep him out of a tougher situation in state prison, to speak on his behalf at all is a pretty compassionate approach towards someone who betrayed him like that.

A sad story, but a lesson that it’s not always necessary to take a hard line in every measure of life.

 

(HT: IamaGM.com)

Magic’s Aaron Gordon skies to finish amazing alley-oop (VIDEO)

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Aaron Gordon may not have had the best dunk contest this year — apparently drones and dunks don’t mix well — but the guy can still get up and finish with the best in the league.

As he did on this alley-oop against Detroit.

Elfrid Payton had to throw a lob that would get over Andre Drummond, but how many guys in the league can get that high, reach back and finish that? Damn.

Former Hawk Pero Antic’s celebration accidentally punches teammate in face in Eruoleague (VIDEO)

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Former Atlanta Hawk Pero Antic is now playing for Turkish powerhouse Fenerbahce, in case you were not aware.

Fenerbahce was facing Anadolu Efes in a EuroLeague game, it was tight late and former NBA player Ekpe Udoh was at the free throw line for Fenerbahce. He missed his second shot, but the rebound caromed out-of-bounds off an Anadolu Efes player. Antic was pumped.

Maybe a little too pumped.

Ouch.

That was Nikola Kalinic, by the way, the guy Antic now owes dinner to. Kalinic would like the dinner more than the hug and kiss he got from Antic right after the play.

Also, Anadolu Efes held on to win 80-77.

(Hat tip to Ball Don’t Lie.)

James Harden helped recruit Lou Williams to Houston

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The Lakers had been shopping Lou Williams around in the run-up to the trade deadline, the only question was would they get a first-round pick for him. Rumors around the league say that Houston had offered them one weeks before, it was on the table, but the Jim Buss/Mitch Kupchak front office held their cards close and hoped a better deal would come through.

While all that was going on James Harden decided to ease the process and did a little recruiting calling up Williams, the sixth-man guard told Shams Charania of The Vertical at Yahoo Sports.

“When James called, he asked me if I was interested in playing with them,” Williams told The Vertical. “I told him that I loved the Lakers, but James and them have a group that fit my personality, fit how I play. He said he was going to make it happen.”

Williams then laughed, sitting on the edge of a visiting court following a recent practice. “I’ve heard that before, so I didn’t really put stock into it,” Williams told The Vertical. “I guess James did put the word in, and the team made it happen.”

We all know what happened, Jeanie Buss removed her brother and Kupchak a few days before the trade deadline, Magic Johnston stepped in, called around, and quickly pulled the trigger on a trade that sent Williams to Houston (the Lakers also got Corey Brewer). Williams has averaged 14.5 points per game and had some strong performances with the Rockets, although he’s still finding his groove with the team on the court. Still, he’s been an upgrade for the Rockets’ bench.

Harden knew he would be, so he did his part to make sure it happened.

Take a look back at just how great Shaq was with the Lakers (VIDEO)

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Shaquille O’Neal was as dominant a force as the NBA has ever seen.

His peak years came with the Lakers, when paired with Kobe Bryant one the court — and Phil Jackson manipulating both of them — they won three titles (and arguably would have had more if they stayed together). Those Lakers teams were one of the NBA’s great teams.

Friday night, the Lakers unveil Shaq’s statue at Staples Center. Take a look back at some of Shaq’s Lakers highlights.