Video: Lions wide receiver celebrates touchdown in Cleveland with a LeBron chalk toss

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It’s no secret that Cleveland fans didn’t react well when LeBron James used a nationally televised, hour-long special to effectively stab them in the heart last summer when he announced his “decision” to join Dwyane Wade and the Miami Heat in South Beach. So it’s probably not surprising that professional athletes who play sports other than basketball would try to use this to their advantage.

Witness Nate Burleson of the Detroit Lions, in the following video clip, doing exactly that. After making a tough catch in the back of the end zone during a preseason game in Cleveland, Burleson decided to celebrate by mimicking LeBron’s famous “chalk toss” to the nearby fans.

Those end zone fans, known as the Dawg Pound, are supposedly as rabid as they come in NFL circles. Who knows if they care even remotely as much about LeBron James and the NBA, but no matter. The message was certainly received by many fans throughout the stadium, as well as those at home catching the game on television.

Burleson has a thing for basketball, apparently, because he told the Detroit Free Press (via EOB) about another idea he had to remind Cleveland fans of yet another painful memory in the city’s tortured sports history.

“See, I had a plan. I had two celebrations planned. I was going to catch the ball, get up, do the shot by (Michael) Jordan (against the Cleveland Cavaliers in the 1989 NBA playoffs) and the three pumps. I’ve got it all down. I’ve seen it like a million times.

“But then when I got in the end zone, I was waiting for the ref, and then when I looked at the crowd, the Dawg Pound went crazy. They were cussing me out, talking about my momma, so I was like forget that. Where’s the powder at. Voom.”

The Jordan shot over Craig Ehlo would have been epic, but let’s face it: that happened 22 years ago. Bringing up LeBron probably hits harder emotionally, given that we’re just one year removed from “The Decision.”

[via TBL]

Akron store already selling “Stay Home 23” shirts, hats as LeBron decision looms

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We’ve seen this movie before.

There is all sorts of buzz around the league that LeBron James has one foot out the door in Cleveland. While people around LeBron denied he the rumor he is “100 percent” leaving, good luck finding any league source who thinks he is staying put next summer. Nothing is set in stone, his options — including staying — remain open, but we’ve all been down this road before.

The hometown fans are going to do their part to urge LeBron to stay.

Fan sentiment has some pull with LeBron (he came back to win the city a title). However, what matters more is a sense of a plan to keep the Cavaliers as title contenders for the coming years — and that is more than just Dan Gilbert paying the tax. The Cavs did nothing this summer that got them closer to beating Golden State, and while they swung for the fences with Paul George, what they really needed was wing defenders and athletes, and they didn’t get those either. Luc Mbah a Moute signed a one-year deal for the minimum somewhere else. Instead, Cleveland overpaid Kyle Korver.

Despite all that, the Cavs remain the team to beat in the East. If Cleveland gets to the Finals — LeBron’s eighth in a row — and they win or make it close, he may see staying as his best option. A season can be a lifetime in the NBA in terms of shifting attitudes. Still, I wouldn’t bet the rent on it.

Marshall Plumlee gets camp invite, partially guaranteed contract from Clippers

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The Los Angeles Clippers have 14 fully guaranteed contracts on their roster, plus a partial guarantee for DeAndre Liggins (who likely is on the roster opening day). They also are pretty much set at center with DeAndre Jordan and Willie Reed (plus when they go small they can play Blake Griffin there, something I wish they’d do a little more).

That said, Doc Rivers — just a coach now — needs bodies for camp, so in comes former Duke star and Knick Marshall Plumlee, reports Adrian Wojnarowski of ESPN.

Plumlee played in 21 games for the Knicks last season, logging a total of 190 minutes. He bounced between New York and the D-League Westchester Knicks, when down he averaged 12.3 points and 9.8 rebounds a game.

He’s not making the Clippers’ squad (barring injury), but he could show well and get noticed by other teams. Over the course of a season, there will be a need for bigs as guys go down injured, Plumlee is getting a chance to show how his game has developed. And he makes some money in the process.

Kawhi Leonard is smiling, and that confuses Manu Ginobili (PHOTO)

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Much like Kevin Durant, it appears that Kawhi Leonard is having a great summer.

In fact, this appears to be the Summer of Kawhi Smiling. Which, according to one of his longtime teammates, is a bit confusing.

When the Spurs posted a photo of Leonard with a big old grin on his face to their Twitter feed recently, San Antonio legend Manu Ginobili responded asking the team whether something was up.

Specifically, Ginobili said that he had seen more photos of Leonard smiling in the past two days then he had in six seasons as a teammate.

Via Twitter:

You can leave an anonymous tip about why Kawhi Leonard is smiling so much by contacting the produce manager at your local H-E-B.

Kobe is the Lakers’ all-time leader in steals (and other trivia rookies don’t know)

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“He played 20 years … I mean, yeah I guess.”

That’s what Los Angeles Lakers rookie Lonzo Ball had to say in this video after learning that Kobe Bryant was the all-time leader in steals for his franchise. You have to hand it to him, it is a little surprising. Even more surprising is that Bryant has 220 more than Magic Johnson at No. 2.

In a video posted to YouTube by Complex on Saturday, rookies tried to answer questions similar to the one Ball pondered over, like what team drafted their head coach, who the NBA all-time leading scorer is, and what day the first game of the season starts on.

A lot of the responses were pretty funny, including the guys getting wrong what year Adam Silver became NBA commissioner. Poor David Stern has already been forgotten about!

Meanwhile, Ball looked the sharpest. He’s going to come in handy when the Lakers play pub trivia.