Could lockout hurt NBA charity efforts when season does start?

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The NBA really stepped up both its charitable efforts and the public relations machine promoting those efforts after the “malice at the Palace” brawl back in 2004. The league had serious image issues with many thinking that all NBA players were thugs ready to punch fans. Things like NBA Cares are designed to counter that image.

The league is taking another PR hit right now for this ridiculous lockout. When it ends, community involvement from players will be part of the image rehabilitation effort.

Except the players may want no part of that, reports David Aldridge at NBA.com.

There is incredible anger among players just under the surface. Anger at having to give up hundreds of millions of dollars, of course, but also anger stemming from their feeling that they aren’t being treated as partners by the owners, but as employees… But that anger, no matter what side of the divide you are on, is real, and it threatens to do great damage to the league well after the lockout is over. I cannot tell you how furious players are that this lockout continues….

Over and over in the last two weeks, I have heard the same refrain from players and agents, from big markets and small ones, max guys and minimum salaried guys. You can forget asking about community service work. You can forget asking for cooperation for NBA Cares. Basketball Without Borders? Don’t even ask…

And one agent intimated that players who would normally try to gut their way through injuries and assorted other hurts now will wait until they’re 100 percent before returning to the court. Why should they jeopardize their careers, the agent asked, when the owners obviously care nothing about them?

Ugh.

Most players have a certain number of team appearances written into their contract (the have to do a preset number of charity events a year with the team). Many players have gone will above and beyond that trying to help the team, league and the community.

But if the players feel like 9-5 employees, they are going to start punching the clock like them. Once they are out the door they will stop caring about the team and league.

Just another ugly spinoff from this lockout.

Watch highlights of Shaquille O’Neal’s statue unveiling outside Staples Center

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Kobe Bryant said “Thank you. I learned so much from you as a player.”

Jerry West said he loved him like a son.

Jeanie Buss said “No one celebrates a championship like you, but please no more asking Mark Madsen to dance.”

The Lakers unveiled a new statue for Shaquille O’Neal Friday night, one flying high over a Staples Center entrance, and the stars were on hand for the event. Phil Jackson was there making Snoop Dogg jokes. Shaq and Kobe were sharing laughs. It was a big night for a big man with a big personality. And a big heart.

Check out the highlights above.

Report: Knicks’ Joakim Noah to be suspended 20 games for violating league drug policy

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Joakim Noah hasn’t set foot on an NBA court since Feb. 4, and his season was all but ended when he had knee surgery at the end of February. Last summer, Phil Jackson took a $72 million gamble on an aging Noah that has not worked at all, and left New York with an anchor of a contract for three more seasons after this one.

Tomorrow it will be official Noah is done for this season, but not because of the Knicks or his injury.

During his recovery, Noah violated the NBA’s drug policy and will pay for a 20-game suspension, reports Adrian Wojnarowski at The Vertical at Yahoo Sports.

Noah tested positive for an over-the-counter supplement that is prohibited under the outgoing Collective Bargaining Agreement, league sources said.

Noah, 32, is expected to serve 10 games of the suspension to finish out the 2016-17 regular season and 10 games to start the 2017-18 season, league sources said.

The National Basketball Players Association’s investigation concluded that Noah hadn’t “knowingly or willingly” violated the policy and cooperated fully with the league’s probe, league sources said.

According to reports, this is not a substance banned in the new CBA that kicks in July 1, but was covered in the previous CBA. Over-the-counter supplements could be something put in his regular workout recovery drinks that he was unaware of, although we are unsure of the details.

Traditionally, the player has to be healthy enough to play before the league starts the suspension. Noah has been out for more than a month, but if a league doctor says he is healthy enough to play the then the clock on the suspension can start. The 10 games this season is no big deal for the Knicks, he wasn’t going to play anyway, but the 10 at the start of next season could sting (depending on how they plan to use him).

 

 

Devin Booker drops 70 points for Suns in loss to Celtics (VIDEO)

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Phoenix Suns guard Devin Booker is just 20 years old. He’s a League Pass favorite, and indeed he should be a favorite in Phoenix for years to come. On Friday, Booker dropped 70 points — yes, 70 — in a loss to the Boston Celtics.

Booker’s 70 points is the best outing of the season. It also made him the youngest player to ever reach 70 points.

His final stat line, as you might imagine, was ridiculous. Booker shot 21-of-40 from the field, going 4-of-11 on 3-pointers and a whopping 24-of-26 from the free-throw line. The Suns phenom also grabbed eight rebounds to go with six assists.

Despite the loss to Boston, 130-120, it’s still an incredible milestone for Phoenix and for Booker. There’s a bright spot out there for the Suns.

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.