What’s love got to do with it?
For all the talk of the love of the game by both sides in the NBA lockout (“basketball never stops”), the fans are not feeling that love. Fans do love the game and pay to watch it be played. Right now the owners and players are having raw emotional fights about money and freedom of player movement. That doesn’t feel like love.
Former NBA player John Amaechi was on the Dan Lebatard show last week, primarily to talk about the scandal at his alma mater Penn State. Kevin Arnovitz at TrueHoop watched the interview as it turned to hoops. (As a reminder Amaechi came out as a homosexual after his NBA playing days. He was in no way accused of wrongdoing as part of the Penn State scandal.)
Amaechi talked about the NBA lockout and motivations for players. When asked what he missed most about the NBA he said “the paychecks,” which is a topic Amaechi talked about in his memoir. And while fans want to think their favorite players take to the court for the love of the game, that is not usually the case.
People who think you need to love something in order to do it don’t understand fundamental human motivation. That’s not how it works. To me, this is one of the huge hypocrisies that sports people perpetrate because it’s good for marketing. It’s this idea that … they convince everybody they love it so much that they’d do it for nothing. And yet nobody does it for nothing. Two leagues have been locked out … and players have agents to make sure that every year they make more, even though what they make is more than anyone can possibly conceive of — what they make in a month is more than anybody can possibly conceive of.
Ask the players right now in the NBA. “If you loved the game, would the season be eroding, knowing that you’re still going to make a gajillion dollars a year?” Really?
There are a lot of players who do love the game, and some who like it. There are players in the NBA who love the lifestyle and money and that is their motivation. In reality, it’s a mixture of all of it for most players — the money and the game and the lifestyle go hand in hand, so they work at their game to keep it all going.
It’s just a reminder not to think of this as love, but to think of this as business. Because in the end that’s what it is — the business of a game, but still business.
It’s what the playoffs are all about — win or go home Game 7s. Pressure, drama, unlikely stars Sunday is going to have it all. Here are a few things to watch:
1) Can Miami’s jump shooters have another hot game? Dwyane Wade got the headlines (and he earned them) for his Game 6 performance (everyone except purple shirt guy was impressed), but the real key for the Heat to force a Game 7 was they were hitting their jumpers — or at least enough of them. In their three losses, Miami shot 33.7 percent from 3 feet out to the arc, but in Game 6 the Heat shot 43.5 percent in that range, plus knocked down eight threes. The Hornets have packed the paint all series, when the Heat hit their jumpers they win. It’s that simple.
2) Does Kemba Walker have one more big game in him? Walker was fantastic in Game 6 (37 points), and he’s been very good in the Hornets’ victories. He’s going to penetrate and get some shots inside eight feet, but will he be able to finish? And, more importantly, will he hit his threes when they pack the paint on him? If Walker has a huge game, Charlotte very likely moves on.
3) Is Toronto too far into their own head? No team has more pressure on them to advance out of the first round than Toronto after two previous years of getting bounced in the first round, and they will feel that weight at home in Game 7 against Indiana. Will Kyle Lowry and DeMar DeRozan step up with big games in the biggest moments of their careers, or will they succumb to the moment and the Pacers defense? For all the Xs and Os that do matter in this game, how the Raptors handle the pressure will be key.
4) Can the Pacers again get a few quality minutes when Paul George sits? In the Pacers comfortable Game 6 win, George got a rest in the second quarter and the Pacers were +5 while he sat. That was a huge step up from Game 5, where the Pacers were -18 when he was out for less than 7 minutes. If Indiana — by playing some starters such as Myles Turner — doesn’t have a huge bench drop off when George rests a few minutes their odds of winning go way up. We know Paul George can handle the moment.
The second round was supposed to be when things got exciting. Instead, the San Antonio Spurs put on an absolute clinic at home, blowing out the Oklahoma City Thunder, 124-92 to take a 1-0 series lead.
Just about everything went in for San Antonio, particularly for LaMarcus Aldridge and Kawhi Leonard, who combined for 63 points. How dominant were they?
Aldridge in particular got anything he wanted against the Thunder. Oklahoma City’s stars were quiet, with Kevin Durant scoring just 16 points and Russell Westbrook 14. San Antonio controlled the game from the start and Oklahoma City never recovered from the opening punch.
It’s hard to imagine Durant and Westbrook are this ineffective again, and hopefully the rest of this series will be a little more competitive. But the Spurs did what the Spurs do, and did nothing to shake the feeling that they’re the favorites to win the west, now that Stephen Curry‘s status is unknown.
ATLANTA (AP) A year ago, Atlanta’s magical season ended with a resounding sweep by Cleveland in the Eastern Conference final.
Now, the Hawks have another shot at LeBron James and the Cavaliers.
Feeling confident after an opening-round victory over Boston, the Hawks returned to practice Saturday to begin preparations for the best-of-seven series.
Game 1 is Monday night in Cleveland.
The Hawks were the top-seeded team in the East last season after a record 60-win campaign. It didn’t do them much good against the Cavaliers, who steamrolled Atlanta in four straight games.
Even though they slipped to 48 wins and fourth in the conference, the Hawks actually sound a bit more confident heading into this matchup, largely because of their improved defense and rebounding.
For the second consecutive year, the Warriors have lost their lead assistant to another team. When the Pelicans hired Alvin Gentry during last year’s playoffs, Steve Kerr promoted Luke Walton to associate head coach and added former journeyman big man Jarron Collins to the bench. Now that Walton is headed to the Lakers as their next head coach, the Warriors will go outside the organization to find a replacement, according to ESPN.com’s Marc Stein. And one name that will likely not be in the mix is David Blatt, who very nearly became an assistant under Kerr in 2014 before being offered the Cavaliers’ head job.
Given Walton’s success this season as interim head coach while Kerr recovered from back surgery, this will undoubtedly be the most attractive assistant job in the league.