Report: NBA labor talks also signal the rise of Adam Silver

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The NBA lockout, despite what both sides will tell you, has been and is as political as it is financial. It’s about contrasting positions of what is best for the league, what is ideologically acceptable to both sides, about who can break who. It’s about infighting and contingents and warring factions within factions. And it’s also about the future, not only for the league, its owners and players, and how the two organize their finances, but who will be the decision makers for the NBA and NBPA for the long-term.

This is David Stern’s last CBA rodeo. He’s said as much. With his retirement closing in, the work has begun to start grooming his heir apparent. From CBSSports.com:

With the cadre of longtime owners loyal to Stern having dissipated — replaced by the hard-charging Dan Gilberts and Robert Sarvers of the world — Stern is a CEO whose past in the NBA is a lot longer than his future. His heir apparent, deputy commissioner Adam Silver, is the one who will be around for the majority of the new owners’ tenure, and perhaps even the bulk of the new collective bargaining agreement.

Just as Stern has from time to time ceded the public spotlight to Silver, who also has taken a prominent role in the labor talks, the players have seen a clear leadership shift away from Hunter, for 15 years the executive director of the National Basketball Players Association, to union president Derek Fisher.

via Shift toward NBA’s future makes Silver, Fisher key negotiators – NBA – CBSSports.com Basketball.

For most fans, life without Stern is inconceivable. He’s been the backbone of the league for 27 years, has shepherded its growth through the Magic-Bird era through the Jordan Dynasty, the dark times of the early 2000’s and the league’s newest golden age. But the owners may be faced with a more concerning reality. Losing Stern means uncertainty as to how the future of the league is negotiated. Having Silver lead the charge on this deal could help soothe some concerns from owners about the long-term future of the league and its CBA.

How is this relevant? If the owners have no faith that the next commissioner will be able to negotiate from a position of strength, they may push for a ten-year deal only with the union. As that hurts the union the most, the lockout would be prolonged as the players try and fight off the advances of the league. But if the owners can be persuaded that they are in good hands with Silver, a shorter or more standard six-year deal could be what comes out of this. It gives the owners a new precedent, but also lets the players live to fight another day when economic conditions aren’t as severe.

No pressure, Mr. Silver. It’s just all riding on you.

Watch Paul George lose JR Smith, put Cavaliers guard on skates with crossover

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Game 4 between the Indiana Pacers and Cleveland Cavaliers was hotly-contested in the first half. The Cavaliers led, 58-52, after two quarters.

But one special play came when Indiana’s Paul George put JR Smith on his heels, with the Cavaliers guard reeling back some 10 feet after a pull-back crossover left George alone at the 3-point line.

Via Twitter:

You might say George pushed off with his left hand, but you could also point out that Smith then turned a flop-like head kick into an actual blown defensive assignment.

Cleveland completed the series sweep on Indiana with the win, 106-102.

Kobe Bryant’s new Canvas video is brought to you by the letter O (for Obsession)

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Kobe Bryant’s Canvas series returned to our television screen on Saturday. The Sesame Street-like videos center around finding a place to draw motivation from in order to, as the most recent video says, dominate the will of your opponent.

They’re … weird.

They are also extremely Kobe-ish in that they stay true to the former Los Angeles Lakers great’s internal vision of how to play basketball.

The last one we saw was all about finding a musecage, and using your dark thoughts to propel you to win. This one is all about obsession, and how that emotion separates those who like to win from true competitors.

I’m personally all for these videos. They are maybe a little cheesy, or single-minded, but that’s sort of the point. It accurately reflects Kobe, which is something you don’t often see from retired players trying to transition their brand from player to former player.

Isaiah Thomas scores 33, Celtics beat Bulls 104-95 to tie series

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CHICAGO (AP) Isaiah Thomas scored 33 points, and the Boston Celtics beat the Chicago Bulls 104-95 on Sunday to tie their first-round playoff series at 2-all.

Boston blew a 20-point lead, but Thomas keyed a third-quarter run that put the Celtics back on top after Chicago briefly went ahead.

Gerald Green made four 3-pointers on his way to 18 points, helping the top-seeded Celtics return the favor in Chicago after dropping the first two games at home. Al Horford added 15 points and 12 rebounds.

Game 5 is Wednesday in Boston.

Jimmy Butler carried the Bulls with 33 points and nine assists. Nikola Mirotic and seldom-used Isaiah Canaan each scored 13 points, but Dwyane Wade finished with just 11.

Canaan made his first appearance since April 10, with Bulls coach Fred Hoiberg searching for help at point guard with Rajon Rondo missing his second straight game because of a broken right thumb.

The Celtics led by 20 in the second quarter and were still up 10 in the third when Chicago scored 12 straight. The Bulls went ahead 65-63 on Robin Lopez‘s hook shot with 4:35 left in the quarter.

Thomas answered with back-to-back layups and scored 10 points in a 12-0 run that gave the Celtics a 75-65 lead, and they withstood a push by the Bulls early in the fourth.

With Thomas and Green each scoring 16 in the first half, the Celtics carried a 57-46 lead into the break.

Butler led the Bulls with 17 in the half. But the offense struggled in a big way with Rondo unavailable. Jerian Grant started and went to the bench after about five ineffective minutes. Michael Carter-Williams then picked up two quick fouls, forcing the Bulls to go with Canaan in the first quarter.

The Celtics, meanwhile, led 41-21 early in the second quarter. But things started to turn after Canaan stole the ball from Marcus Smart and scored on a layup.

Smart feigned throwing the ball at Butler. The two came nose to nose, resulting in technical fouls for both players, and the Bulls started to shoot their way back into it.

Mirotic hit a pair of 3-pointers and scored eight in the quarter. Bobby Portis cut it to 52-42 with his basket late in the half, and Butler hit two free throws with 22.6 seconds left to make it 57-46.

RONDO FINED

The NBA fined Rondo for attempting to trip Boston Celtics forward Jae Crowder from the bench in Game 3. Crowder jawed at the Bulls’ bench after hitting a jumper and Rondo extended his leg as Crowder walked by.

TIP-INS

Celtics: Thomas was just 1 of 9 on 3-pointers but made 12 of 13 free throws.

Bulls: Butler made 19 of 23 foul shots after failing to get to the line in Game 3. … Canaan was inactive for the first three games.

LeBron James swats Thaddeus Young on yet another chasedown block (VIDEO)

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LeBron James is The King, but he’s also the king of chasedown blocks in the NBA. During Sunday’s Game 4 matchup with the Indiana Pacers, the Cleveland Cavaliers star dropped the hammer yet again on an unsuspecting opponent.

The victim this time was Pacers forward Thaddeus Young, who was out on a 2-on-2 break with LeBron trailing.

To be honest, Young should have known better than to try this.

Via Twitter:

Cleveland completed the series sweep on Indiana with the win, 106-102.