2010 NBA All-Star T-Mobile Rookie Challenge and Youth Jam

Charles Barkley, Reggie Miller not so much with standing united


The NBA veterans at the end of their careers say that the reason they’re so committed to holding the line, particularly that 53 percent line, is to protect the players that came after them. The players who have already gotten their tipoffs in and are out of the game? They’re a little bit more realistic in terms of what’s happening and how this thing ends.

First we have Charles Barkley, who has done a rash of interviews (SHOCKING INFORMATION) lately and did an interview Friday with Phoenix radio. He’s not exactly critical of the commish and his tactics against the union.

Barkley on the owners: “They’re not going to let us become like baseball where we have the haves against the have-nots. That’s why we have the best commissioner in sports. . . David Stern is trying to do what’s best for the small market teams.”

Barkley on Amar’e Stoudemire and Carmelo Anthony talking about starting a new league:“That’s right up there as one of the stupidest things I’ve ever heard. That’s right up there with new Coke.”

Barkley on Commissioner David Stern’s proprieties: ” No. 1, have a hard cap. Secondly, have better revenue sharing. Or get the owners 50-50 (BRI split). It’s going to be one of those three ways to be honest with your. They can forget the way things are going now, that they’re going to let all these stars play and kill these small-market teams. I can promise you that or they’re not going to play at all.”

via azcentral.com blogs – Coro’s Orange Slices – PaulCoro – Charles Barkley talks lockout.

There are a couple of things here. One is that Barkley’s not necessarily criticizing the union, he’s just stating what he feels is a fact. For Barkley it’s not whether the players should have to give up so much, it’s that there’s no way to avoid it. Second, you might want to remember that Barkley is great friends with Michael Jordan, who he credits with a vast majority of the popularity of the NBA. With Jordan on the owners’ side, it’s curious that Barkley would be taking this approach, unless his relationship with Jordan has led him to believe the commitment from ownership to scuttle the ship rather than surrender it.

Meanwhile, there’s Reggie Miller, who spoke alongside Barkley in a television interview earlier in the week. Barkley noted the players have to accept 50-50 or there won’t be a season. Miller? He’s in the same mindset.

“If you listen to (Player’s Union head) Billy Hunter’s words when he said, ‘because of the economy, I don’t think the league or the owners want to lose the season,’ well they (the owners) absolutely do want to lose the season,'”Miller, speaking on NBA TV’s “Game Time” Tuesday. “In 1998-99, we weren’t in the middle of an economic downturn. We were coming off some of the biggest ratings ever with Michael Jordan retiring with the second of his three-peats.The fan base was there and the TV ratings were there in ’98-’99.”

Asked how many games he thought would be played in 2011-12, Miller said 50 — the same number that were played in the ’98-99 season.

via Veterans of last NBA lockout, pundits Reggie Miller, Charles Barkley feel owners don’t want to play season | NJ.com.

The players sure could use the biggest stars of yesteryear standing with them, but those guys are paid by NBA.com and its partnership with Turner. Plus, they’re not speaking ill of the union, they’re just saying there’s no way to avoid it. The owners have the leverage.

And they intend to use it.

76ers tie NBA worst with 0-18 start after loss to Grizzlies

Matt Barnes, Nik Stauskas, Jerami Grant
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MEMPHIS, Tenn. (AP) — Zach Randolph had 17 points and 11 rebounds to lead the Memphis Grizzlies to a 92-84 victory over Philadelphia on Sunday, sending the 76ers to their record-tying 18th straight loss to start the season.

The Sixers have lost an NBA-record 28 consecutive games dating to last season and at 0-18 matched the New Jersey Nets’ start in 2009-10.

Mike Conley led the Grizzlies with 20 points, while Matt Barnes and Jeff Green finished with 13 apiece as Memphis won for the seventh time in the last nine.

Isaiah Canaan led the Sixers with 16 points, while Robert Covington and Hollis Thompson scored 12 points apiece. Jerami Grant finished with 11 points.

The Sixers led 76-71 with 7:38 remaining and Memphis fans were booing their team. But the Grizzlies went on a 15-1 run to retake control of the game, with Randolph scoring eight points in the rally.

Byron Scott: Kobe Bryant “at peace” with decision to retire after season

Kobe Bryant
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LOS ANGELES — Kobe Bryant was never going to go quietly into that good night. He would rage, rage against the dying of the light — and torn Achilles, knee ligaments, shoulders, and everything else holding him back.

But now, the end is near, and Kobe will face the final curtain at the end of this season. And he is at peace with it, if you ask his coach.

“It was so matter of fact, and he was so at peace with (the decision),” Lakers’ coach Byron Scott said of when Kobe told him this season would be it. “After I thought about it, I felt better about that. It wasn’t like he was agonizing over it or anything, it was like ‘I’m announcing I’m retiring’ and just kind of went on from there.”

Bryant told Scott before anyone else in the Lakers’ organization, and told him sometime Saturday (when the Lakers played and lost in Portland).

“I said, ‘what?’ He just told me at a very awkward time; we started laughing about it,” Scott said. “He said ‘you looked like you were saying ‘what they hell are you talking about’ but it just caught me off guard.”

It’s been an ugly season for Kobe, his body can no longer do what he expects of it — he can’t get the separation, the lift needed for his shoots. He was shooting 31.1 percent on the season going into Sunday’s game against Indiana, and he started 1-of-11 from the floor Sunday night. Yet he kept gunning.

“I gave up hoping he would change his approach 15, 18 years ago,” Lakers GM Mitch Kupchak said. “He is what he is. And I’m thankful for it.”

Kupchak added hoped this decision would ease the pressure on Bryant.

“I would hope that he has more fun, and appears less frustrated, and also gets more appreciation,” Kupchak said. “He’ll get it at home, but on the road too, because people will have to recognize this is his last year and they are watching one of the all-time greats.”

Kobe got plenty of appreciation from Lakers’ fans on Sunday night with a massive ovation when he was introduced. Kobe had wanted to avoid a Derek Jeter style farewell tour, but with that announcement and the Lakers playing 13-of-17 on the road in December you can bet there will be some of that.

“One of the best ever to play the game,” Pacers coach Frank Vogel said pregame. “I don’t know if there’s any one moment, just throughout the course of his career you didn’t want him to have the ball in his hands with the game on the line, period. Because you knew he was going to beat you.”

No doubt Kobe goes down as one of the game’s all-time greats — five-time NBA champion, MVP, two Finals MVP’s, 17 All-Star Games, and that’s just the tip of the iceberg — but what Scott ultimately wants is Bryant to leave the game on his terms.

“What I want from Kobe is basically his last game to be able to walk off the court, wave to the fans, and be able to go into the locker room standing up,” Scott said.


Here is Kobe Bryant’s letter given to every fan at Lakers’ game Sunday

Los Angeles Lakers v Portland Trail Blazers

LOS ANGELES — In a classy move — and one done in a very Kobe Bryant tone — every fan coming into Staples Center Sunday night to see the Lakers take on the Pacers received a letter from No. 24.

Inside a sealed black envelope, on quality, embossed paper, was this letter from Bryant (photo below):

When we first met I was just a kid.

Some of you took me in. Some of you didn’t.

But all of you helped e become the player and man in front of you today.

You gave me confidence to put my anger to good use.

Your doubt gave me determination to prove you wrong.

You witnessed my fears morph into strength.

Your rejection taught me courage.

Whether you view me as a hero or a villain, please know I poured every emotion, every bit of passion and my entire self into being a Laker.

What you’ve done for me is far greater than anything I’ve done for you.

I knew that each minute of each game I wore purple and gold.

I honor it as I play today and for the rest of this season.

My love for this city, this team and for each of you will never fade.

Thank you for this incredible journey.

It speaks to Kobe’s mindset over the years that he talked about the fuel from the rejection of Lakers’ fans motivating him. As a Los Angeles native (and former Laker blogger), let me tell you there was precious little rejection of Kobe from this fan base. There were questions and doubters early on, but even when Shaquille O’Neal was seen as the driving force of the team Kobe was beloved in Los Angeles. Something that continued through his trial in Colorado — Lakers fans have almost always had his back.

But Kobe finds fuel everywhere. Which is why he is a future Hall of Famer.


Jahlil Okafor tweets apology for recent off-court behavior

Jahlil Okafor

The off-court incidents have been piling up for Jahlil Okafor over the past month: first, an incident captured on video that showed Okafor getting into a fight with a heckler early Thanksgiving morning; then, a report that Okafor had a gun pulled on him in a previous incident; and finally, this morning’s report that the Sixers’ No. 3 overall pick in this June’s draft had been pulled over in recent weeks for driving 108 miles per hour in Philadelphia. Together, they aren’t a good look for the rookie.

On Sunday afternoon, Okafor apologized for his recent behavior in a series of tweets:

The recent incidents involving Okafor are surprising—going into the draft, he never had any red flags for maturity or off-the-court issues. He’s certainly saying the right things after the fact, and he’s only 19, so hopefully this is nothing more than a small rough patch where he’s made some bad decisions, and not an indicator of things to come.