LeBron James, peacemaker with Cleveland.
Not that the wounds there can ever be fully healed, but he’s trying. He extended an olive branch Thursday, again saying he handled leaving poorly and he would someday consider returning. At least he’s trying to say all the right things.
The Heat are in Cleveland to take on the Cavs Friday, and here are LeBron’s direct quotes, via Brian Windhorst of ESPN’s Heat Index. Starting with him answering if he would consider a return to the Cavaliers.
“I think it would be great, it would be fun to play in front of these fans again,” James said after the Heat’s practice Thursday at Quicken Loans Arena.
“I had a lot of fun times here. You can’t predict the future. Hopefully you continue to stay healthy. I’m here as a Miami player and I’m happy where I am now but I don’t rule that out in any sense. If I decide to come back, hopefully the fans will accept me….
“I don’t hold grudges, I hold them a little bit but I don’t hold them that long,” James said. “(Cavs owner Dan Gilbert) said what he said out of anger. He probably would want to take that back, but I made a mistake, too. There’s some things I’d want to take back as well. You learn from your mistakes and move on.”
Is there anything LeBron does rule out, that he doesn’t flirt with? He might do the dunk contest, he might return to Cleveland, he might eat at Lola Bistro after the game. Or he might not. Frankly, he likely will not do any of those things. (Although he should eat at Lola.) He keeps his options open.
James isn’t going anywhere soon — his legacy rests with the Heat now. He has to win titles (multiple) there to reach the levels he seeks. There is no turning back from the decision now. He has two more years on his deal with an option for two after that, and he’s not leaving in that span.
But could he end his career back with the Cavs? Could he and Gilbert make up? Stranger things have happened.
Giannis Antetokounmpo grew up hocking wares — clothes, sunglasses, whatever — on the streets of Athens, Greece. He easily could still be living there, the tallest salesman in a poor part of a country with high unemployment and real challenges.
Instead, he is a multimillionaire living comfortably in the United States, and is one of the 10 best basketball players in the world — and still improving. In a few years we may well be saying he is the best player on the planet.
Antetokounmpo will be telling his story on the legendary television news magazine 60 Minutes this week, and the show released a clip. Check it out.
We’ve all seen this situation before at every level of basketball: A team down three points gets fouled in the final seconds and has two free throws, so the shooter aims to make the first free throw then miss the second and create a rebound he or a teammate can grab then throw back in to tie the game. It works about as often as an NFL Hail Mary — either the shooter makes the shot anyway or the defense gets the board — but what other choice is there?
Nobody has ever pulled it off as well as Paulinho Boracini of the Brazilian league team Cearense.
Intentional or not (and I lean not), he banked the second free throw off the rim toward the corner, ran it down himself and hit the game-winning three.
Damn. That’s impressive.
(If Boracini and Cearense sound familiar, you win the award for “watching too much Knicks preseason basketball” because they played New York in a 2015 exhibition.)
MILWAUKEE (AP) The Milwaukee Bucks say Giannis Antetokounmpo is doubtful for Friday night’s game against the Chicago Bulls with a sprained right ankle.
The All-Star forward got hurt in the second quarter of a 127-120 loss on Wednesday to the Los Angeles Clippers when he appeared to trip over teammate Shabazz Muhammad under the Bucks’ basket.
Antetokounmpo is fourth in the league in scoring at 27.3 points a game.
Anfernee Simons spent the last year playing high school basketball. But because he did so as a fifth-year prep after technically graduating from high school last year and turns 19 in June, he’s eligible for the NBA draft.
Following a path taken by Thon Maker and considered by Jonathan Isaac, Simons – as expected – is turning pro.
Jonathan Givony of ESPN:
Anfernee Simons will forgo his collegiate eligibility and declare for the 2018 NBA draft, he informed ESPN.
Simons informed ESPN that he will sign with agent Bobby Petriella of Rosenhaus Sports Representation
Simons looks like a mid-first-rounder, though his range is quite wide considering how large of a jump he’s making. Teams can learn relatively more about him in workouts and interviews.
A 6-foot-4 shooting guard who specializes in scoring, Simons is quick on his feet with a quick release off the dribble – with range from beyond the 3-point arc to an impressive floater game. Those floaters will be important, because Simons isn’t nearly strong enough for the NBA. He’s also a lackluster passer, though because of physicality concerns, no team will count on Simons to run an offense anytime soon, anyway. He’ll have time to develop as a distributor.
By signing with agents, Simons loses his college eligibility. Drew Rosenhaus, a big-name football agent, isn’t certified with the National Basketball Players Association. Petriella’s only NBA client has been Diamond Stone, a 2016 second-rounder who’s out of the league. They’re all in this bold venture together now.
As the NBA considers changing its draft rules for young prospects, Simons will be an interesting case study. He obviously meets the draft-eligibility requirements in the one-and-done era, but he’s also jumping from prep-school competition to the NBA. The league’s strength and nutrition programs should serve him well. His overall development could influence the wider debate.