Iman Shumpert debuts for the Knicks… and it was pretty good

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When Iman Shumpert was drafted, Knicks fans got excited.

That’s pretty normal, right?

Now, here’s where the story diverts into two tales. On the one hand, you have normal fans. “Hey, maybe Shumpert can contribute and eventually start.” Or, “Wow, he’s got great athleticism and an all-around game, he could really be a difference maker, eventually.” Then there’s the “I’m telling you, the guy is special and is going to be Rookie of the Year and an All-Star.” The first group of fans denies that the second group of fans exist, for the most part. But go take a look in the scary wilderness of the internet, and you’re going to find them, loud and clear. And while there are certainly lunatic fans among any fanbase demographic, Knicks fans, based on the whole New York thing… they have a special flavor to them. It’s endearing really. But it’s out there.

Funny story, though. Shumpert debuted against the Nets in a preseason game today, and he was much closer to being in-between the two estimations than he was to bust level. Shumpert scored 16 and showed pretty much everything you want to see with regards to what the Knicks need from him, short of point guard playmaking ability.

Shumpert is going to be a two-guard, barring some sort of dramatic development in ball-handling and playmaking. But he’s going to be a crack spot-up shooter, and a player that can provide offense when the defense collapses on the Knicks’ stars, or if Amar’e and Melo are on the bench. More importantly, however? He’s active and long on defense. In a key sequence Saturday, Shumpert slapped the ball out of a distracted Deron Williams’ hands into the backcourt, then snatched it and finished with a layup. It’s exactly the kind of play the Knicks need to make things easier for their team with all the pressure on a shortened talent scale.

Shumpert had a good game in his first preseason tilt against a fairly wretched Nets team. But he also showed enough to start building a movement. He looks to be a good player, and for Knicks fans, that’s enough to get excited about.

Remembering Notre Dame, Laker legend Tommy “the hawk” Hawkins

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Tommy Hawkins passed away recently at the age of 80.

The former NBA player was the first black athlete to earn All-America honors in basketball at Notre Dame (he still holds the school’s total rebounds record), was drafted in the first round, and went on to have a 10-year NBA career playing for the Minneapolis/Los Angeles Lakers as well as the Cincinnati Royals. Los Angeles fans may also remember him as the long time director of communications for the Los Angeles Dodgers after his playing days ended.

The NBA put together this well done video look back at Hawkins’ career.

Celtics’ Brad Stevens said early September tests will show if Thomas ready for camp

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Isaiah Thomas said he expects to be ready for the Celtics’ training camp next month. The guard’s All-NBA season came to an early end in the playoffs when he aggravated a labral tear in his right hip initially suffered back in March. At least the injury did not require surgery.

Players are also about the worst judges of when they will recover from an injury. They pretty much all think they are invincible and will be healthy faster than doctors predict.

Coaches tend to be more pragmatic. Take Boston’s Brad Stevens, who told Chris Mannix on The Vertical Podcast that tests in a couple of weeks will show if Thomas is ready for camp.

“He has another follow-up and another scan in the early part of September. Obviously, it’s been a lot of appropriate rest, a lot of rehab. There have been some good strides here certainly in the last month or few weeks, but we’re not going to know that until after that early September timeframe.”

The Celtics are understandably going to be cautious with Thomas, while Thomas wants to prove he is healthy and has no ill effects from the injury as he enters a contract year (one where he expects to get PAID). Also, the Celtics could use him in camp as they start to figure out how he and Gordon Hayward can share playmaking duties.

Still, from the outset, the timelines have suggested he should be ready for camp in late September. Coaches are just cautious on these things by nature.

Allen Iverson predicts LeBron James will win MVP

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LeBron James has four NBA MVP trophies in his case. (Does he keep that case in his home in Akron or the one in Los Angeles… that’s a question for another day.) Only Kareem Abdul-Jabbar (six) and Michael Jordan (five) have more.

Could LeBron James add a fifth to his case this season?

Allen Iverson said yes at last weekend’s Big3 playoffs in Seattle.

LeBron was fourth in preseason odds to win the MVP at 15/2, behind Russell Westbrook, Kevin Durant, and Kawhi Leonard.

To me, LeBron could be a good bet. If/when Kyrie Irving is traded, the chances of LeBron getting the MVP go up. If LeBron puts up impressive numbers (again) and leads a depleted Cavaliers team to a top two seed in the East, he is certainly going to be in consideration. And should be.

It’s a long season, and personally, I think you need to get midway through the season before seriously considering the year-end awards. But history says LeBron will be in the mix, and Allen Iverson could be proven prophetic.

Phoenix Suns with quality solar eclipse joke on Twitter

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With the cooler-than-I-expected solar eclipse on Monday came a lot of bad solar eclipse jokes on Twitter. Because that’s what Twitter does. Especially the NBA Twitterverse. We knew a lot of “where on the flat earth will Kyrie Irving watch the eclipse?” jokes were coming.

There were a couple of good ones, however.

Appropriately, the Phoenix Suns won the day.

One personal favorite here, an old meme that never goes out of style.