Veterans say there are sometimes bounties in NBA

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It’s not exactly the same as Gregg Williams and what is going on with the New Orleans Saints, but a couple of veteran players interviewed this week say the idea of bounties offered for hitting and hurting an NBA player are not unheard of.

Cedric Maxwell, who played 11 seasons in the NBA (most famously with the Celtics) told CSNNE.com of one case — and he named names.

“We did it in the NBA. We had a guy, Len Elmore, used to love to take charges,” Maxwell said. “He’s an analyst right now for CBS. You might want to hear this Len. We had a bounty on you. If you stepped on his chest, you got paid.

“Every time he tried to take a charge and you stepped on him, you got paid,” Maxwell said. “What are they going to do, come back and fine me now?”

Well, I’d never put it past David Stern to try. Maxwell added there was no financial incentive to do this, it was just something the team set out to do.

Charles Barkley was on the Dan Patrick Show radio broadcast Monday and told his own story.

“One time…” Barkley said, although he would not incriminate the player targeted or the team he plays for. “We were getting beat by 30 points, back, this was in my Philadelphia days. I’m a firm believer if a guy shoots a three that you knock his ass as far in the stands as you possibly can. We were getting beat by 30 or 40, I can’t remember, and this guy was shooting threes and running up and down the court, and I said ‘Hey, we got to hurt that guy right there.’”

Clearly these cases do not rise to the level of what is being discussed around the NBA (or has long been rumored about and taken place quietly in the NHL). Those are sports where hitting is part of the sport and it is the intent and motives (and motivations) that are in question. But on some level it has happened in the NBA.

Rockets bench hams it up over Andre Roberson missed free throw (video)

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Russell Westbrook might not want to talk about his supporting cast distinctively, but it’s a real issue for the Thunder, who trail the Rockets 3-1 in their first-round series.

Even Andre Roberson, who has impressively defended James Harden, brings a glaring weakness: free throws. Roberson is 2-for-17 from the line in the playoffs, including 2-for-12 in Game 4 yesterday. Houston even repeatedly intentionally fouled him late.

It was agonizing for all but the most partisan Rockets supporters – though even Houston’s bench, while at least implicitly mocking Roberson, appeared put off that he missed yet again.

Isaiah Thomas: ‘Mentally and emotionally, I’m not here’

AP Photo/Charles Rex Arbogast
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Isaiah Thomas previously explained his emotions in a statement, but the Celtics guard spoke publicly yesterday for the first time since the death of his sister in a car crash just before the playoffs.

Thomas, via A. Sherrod Blakely of CSN Northeast:

“Mentally and emotionally I’m not here,” Thomas said after Game 4, the first time he has spoken publicly since his sister’s death. “So I just feed off of what the guys give me. They give me a lot of confidence. I can’t do it without those guys. They believe in me. Being here is what makes me sane and makes me feel somewhat normal through these tough times.”

Thomas has played well for Boston, which won twice in Chicago to even its series with the Bulls, 2-2. It’s remarkable considering the heavy emotional burden and extra travel, going to Seattle for his sister’s funeral then joining the Celtics in Chicago.

His teammates have clearly rallied around him, and that surely helps. But I can’t even imagine how he’s simultaneously handling such a tragic family situation and the biggest games of his career.

Kyrie Irving knocks flamingo from Pacers fan’s hands (video)

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Pacers super fan Matt Asen brings his lucky flamingo to each game.

He also annoyed the heck out of Kyrie Irving by trying to hand it, rather than the ball, to the Cavaliers guard.

James Harden reveals he’s playing through ankle injury

AP Photo/Sue Ogrocki
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James Harden didn’t lead the Rockets in scoring in their Game 4 win over the Thunder yesterday.

He didn’t even rank second – or third.

Nene, Eric Gordon and Lou Williams each outscored Harden, who scored 16 points on 5-for-16 shooting, including 0-for-7 on 3-pointers.

What happened to the Houston star?

Calvin Watkins of ESPN:

Houston Rockets star guard James Harden said he has been hobbled by an ankle injury that occurred in Game 3 of this first-round series against the Oklahoma City Thunder.

Harden made the revelation to ESPN’s Lisa Salters after the Rockets’ 113-109 Game 4 victory on Sunday afternoon.

“It was pretty tough; we don’t make excuses,” Harden said in a news conference when asked about his health. “We just try to go out there and get the job done. You build trust, and trust in your teammates all year long. When there’s moments like this, guys step up and they did tonight. We have another opportunity in a few days to go out there and win on our home court, and we’re going to have to get off to a really good start.”

Many players are grinding through injuries this time of year. Is Harden’s exceptionally bad? There’s no way of telling from the outside.

But he didn’t look quite right in Game 4, and if he’s hobbled, that opens the door slightly wider for Oklahoma City to come back from its 3-1 deficit.