Is it “bad” if LeBron James, Dwyane Wade, Carmelo Anthony and Chris Paul don’t tip?

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Step carefully, children. We’re near the edge of a dangerous ledge.

So NBA players not tipping is not a breaking story. It’s been talked about for ages. Fairly often it comes with certain racial implications that are fairly well documented (or at least claims thereof have been). But instead of going down that road, let’s start with how this is currently relevant. On Jason Whitlock of FoxSports.com’s podcast, a well-respected Las Vegas columnist shared the following story, as quoted by IamaGM.com:

“People at the Cosmopolitan said when Chris Paul had his bachelor party here last month, he had LeBron in and the whole gang.  They were comped well into the morning.  The word is that they never left a tip for any night that they were out getting comped.  We’ve heard that about LeBron, that’s been common.  I’m sure you’ve heard the nicknames that Michael Jordan and Scottie Pippen had out here.  The dealers called him  “Hoardin’ Jordan”, and Pippen was “Scottie No-tippin’ Pippen”.

via Las Vegas insiders claim that NBA superstars (LeBron, Melo, Wade) refused to tip at Chris Paul’s bachelor party | IamaGM.com.

So that’s fun.

There’s no point in getting into the racial implications, because this is a basketball blog and I’m not a well-tenured professor on race relations in this country, plus I’m definitely not here to make any sort of high and mighty or insightful headway using this ridiculously stupid topic that could be inaccurate. From a practical perspective,  even if the racial implications did create a cultural divide based on an income gap, you would think that would be somewhat effected by the millions and millions (and millions) of dollars these guys started making when they were 18-21. They make so much that to tip, even at a standard rate of 20% for meals and however you determine drink tips (I always heard a buck per drink plus 10% on the tab, but then, I drink in tiny, terrible bars that usually have Natty Light on tap), isn’t going to so much as phase them. Money means nothing to them, that’s pretty obvious from their lifestyle and approach to spending (they’re not wasteful, but we can tell from media reports these guys like to have a good time). So then there’s this question.

Do they not tip because it’s an ethical decision, or is simply a case of oversight and being inconsiderate?

You’ll remember Mr. Pink from the Quentin Tarantino classic “Reservoir Dogs” not tipping out of principle. It was his contention that it’s the service staff member’s choice to work in that profession, and that they shouldn’t be rewarded extra simply for doing their job. It should be noted that in all likelihood Mr. Pink is shot at the end of the film. I believe this is what LeBron James would refer to as “karma.” Is it the case that James, Anthony, and Wade, who are treated like gods nearly everywhere they go, who are waited on hand and foot, really don’t tip because they don’t feel it’s right? Or is it more likely a simple oversight wrought of arrogance? You have to think it’s the latter.

Even if there was an ethical reason for the players not to provide a reasonable tip, it would be overshadowed by the sheer amount of money they have and the service they demand. But maybe that’s the key here. What if the service really was that bad? What if they did not receive the sterling personal attention they were expecting?

Even still, a small tip should probably be considered. Maybe they just thought it was added onto the bill. In that case, shouldn’t you leave something additional anyway, considering the amount of time and attention your party no doubt drew?

One more thing. The idea that this is an NBA-general thing is definitively not true in my experience. A few years ago I spoke with the waitstaff at the Cheesecake Factor at Ceasar’s Palace in Las Vegas (I was broke and in Las Vegas for work, this is what you end up doing). The staff there told me how Rasheed Wallace would routinely eat at the bar while his wife shopped and that he always tipped exceptionally well. Same story for Shaquille O’Neal, and Donte Greene. Kobe Bryant is known to be a decent tipper as well. So it’s not everyone. But these guys, apparently, are the exception.

This should help James and Wade’s public opinion greatly.

Also, who doesn’t tip at a bachelor party? Seriously, guys. It’s a bachelor party. You’re supposed to show off and be nice to everyone because you’re acting like morons.

Dwight Howard on Hornets’ coach Clifford: “It’s a great feeling when somebody believes in you”

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Dwight Howard‘s game is much better than his reputation among fans.

He’s not the Defensive Player of the Year/All-NBA/MVP candidate level player he was back in Orlando, but Howard is still one of the best rebounders in the game, he’s strong defensively, and he’s an efficient scorer inside. He’s a quality center, if he plays within himself and is used well. His perception as a guy who does not take the game seriously and held back Houston and Atlanta in recent years has validity (he plays better in pick-and-roll than on the move, but wants the ball in the post), but the idea he is trash is flat-out wrong. He’s still good.

Howard wants to change his reputation, rewrite the final chapters of his career, and told Adrian Wojnarowski of ESPN that Steve Clifford’s Charlotte Hornets are the place that is going to happen.

“The other places I was, the coaches didn’t really know who I am,” Howard told ESPN. “I think that they had perception of me and ran with it. Cliff knows my game. He knows all the things that I can do. I’m very determined to get back to the top. It’s a great feeling when somebody believes in you. They aren’t just saying it; they believe it. It really just pushed me to the limit in workouts: running, training, everything. I want to do more.

“In Orlando, I was getting 13-15 shots a game. Last season, in Atlanta, it was six shot attempts. It looks like I’m not involved in the game. And if I miss a shot, it sticks out because I am not getting very many of them. But I think it’s all opportunity, the system. I haven’t had a system where I can be who I am since I was in Orlando.”

Howard averaged 8.3 field goal attempts per game in Atlanta, which is about five a game below his peak. Last season 75 percent of Howard’s shots came within three feet of the rim — is is not there to space the floor, however, he can still move fairly well off the roll and is a good passer for a big.

Last season, 28 percent of Howard’s possessions came on post ups, and he averaged a pedestrian 0.84 points per possession on those. On the 21 percent of shots he got on a cut, he averaged a very good 1.36 PPP. When he got the ball back as a roll man (again on the move), it was 1.18 PPP. The challenge long has been Howard is better on the move but doesn’t feel involved unless he gets post touches, and if he doesn’t feel involved and engaged he’s not the same player.

Maybe Clifford can make this all work with some older plays where Howard feels comfortable.

Charlotte, with Howard in the paint and on the boards, should get back to being a top 10 NBA defensive team, not the middle of the pack as they were last season. Clifford is better than that as a coach, and Howard is an upgrade in the paint (on both ends). Charlotte should be a playoff team again in the East.

But it all will come back to Howard. Fair or not. And Wojnarowski is right, this is Howard’s last best chance to write the ending he wants to his career.

Friday afternoon fun: Watch James Harden’s 10 best plays from last season

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James Harden had a historic season in Houston.

Since it’s Friday afternoon and your sports viewing options consist of watching guys about to be cut from NFL rosters try to impress, why not check out Harden’s best plays from last season. It’s worth a couple minutes of your time.

Mavericks sign Jeff Withey to one-year contract

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Jeff Withey‘s ex-fiancée accused him of domestic violence, but he was not charged.

That frees him to continue his basketball career, which he’ll do in Dallas.

Shams Charania of Yahoo Sports:

The Mavericks could use another center, even if they re-sign Nerlens Noel. Salah Mejri is the only other true center, though Dirk Nowitzki will now play the position.

Withey is a good rim protector. Just don’t ask him to do anything away from the basket.

Dallas annually brings excess players to training camp and has them compete for regular-season roster spots. Whether or not his salary is guaranteed, Withey will likely fall into that competition.

Marc Gasol: If Grizzlies don’t share my goal of continued growth, we might have to revisit things

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The Grizzlies’ Grit & Grind era has ended.

Zach Randolph signed with the Kings, and Tony Allen appears likely to leave Memphis, too. The Grizzlies are prioritizing younger/cheaper players like Ben McLemore and Tyreke Evans.

Marc Gasol via Ala Carta, as translated by HoopsHype:

I’m very ambitious and I’ve wanted Memphis to be a great franchise. We’ve grown a lot the last 6-7 years, but we have to keep growing. If this is not lined up, maybe we may have to revisit things.

Gasol has been loyal to Memphis, and his first wish is probably winning there. But Giannis Antetokounmpo put it well: Teams must also do right by their players. Gasol is 32 and doesn’t have much time in his prime left. I see why rebuilding wouldn’t interest him.

But what will he do about it if the Grizzlies don’t prioritize the present? They made their push last summer with a max contract for Chandler Parsons, but because Parsons can’t stay healthy, that deal only inhibits team growth.

Gasol is locked up for two more years before a player option. He doesn’t have much leverage. This is part of the reason LeBron James keeps signing short-term contracts. Gasol doesn’t have the same ability to steer his team in his desired direction

On the potentially bright side, rebuilding teams often don’t have much use for 32-year-olds guaranteed more than $72 million over the following three years. If the fit devolves, Memphis becomes more likely to trade him.