David Stern says league will discuss adding goaltending calls to instant replay list

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NBA commissioner David Stern wants the NBA to do away with goaltending as we know it, and adopt the international rule which would allow players to touch the ball as soon as it hits the rim. The competition committee has fought him on this issue, and it’s not one that’s likely to change anytime soon. But at the very least, the league is going to discuss adding goaltending calls — especially those made in game-deciding situations — to the list of reviewable plays.

Stern was in Phoenix on Tuesday to take in the game between the Suns and the Spurs, and met with the media for about 20 minutes just prior to tip-off. When asked if there were any plans to expand instant replay, he offered up his thoughts on the goaltending rule as it currently exists, and discussed the nuances of implementing any changes.

“Our competition committee has the final word on these matters, but I think there’s going to be a very robust discussion about goaltending … which, I’m not going to mention LaMarcus Aldridge and the Portland game,” Stern said.

The game Stern spoke of involved Aldridge cleanly blocking a late-game layup attempt from Kevin Durant, but the referees ruled it a goaltend, and that sent the game into overtime where the Blazers went on to lose. The league issued a statement admitting the call was wrong, but it was too little, too late for a struggling Blazers team that was deprived of a win in regulation.

“What we want to do (with instant replay) is get it right, without killing the flow of the game,” Stern said. “My proposal, which doesn’t get any respect at all,  is to eliminate basket interference. It hits the rim, adopt the European rule — it’s in play. You know, ‘Is the hand just over the cylinder? Or not?’ Why task the referees with that? Just do it the European way. It’ll make free throw misses more fun too. But that’s not something that I have been successful on.”

This isn’t the first time Stern has mentioned his push to adopt the international rule on the matter. But he made it clear that his opinion is the minority one among those who make these decisions, so it seems he just wants to ensure that the current rule — since it impacts points scored and could potentially decide games, as it did in Portland — gets interpreted correctly, with the benefit of a second look if the situation should warrant it.

But when is that, exactly? Stern said that there’s a growing sentiment to make these types of plays reviewable only in the last two minutes of a game. The problem there is, of course, the fact that doing so might send a conflicted message.

“It’s ironic with how many of our fans would be satisfied in doing more just in the last two minutes,” Stern said. “And that’s something that we sort of resisted, but we’re getting pulled along. Because it counts the same in the first two minutes as the last, and we counsel our officials that a foul’s a foul (no matter when it occurs). And sort of saying, ‘oh yes, but the last two minutes is different,’ is sort of an interesting route.

“But, it’s true.  Our fans are saying the last two minutes should be treated differently. So we’re going to look at it, and see what’s going on.”

Stern talked about a system where coaches could throw a challenge flag similar to the way replay is handled in the NFL, but discounted it at the same time, pointing out that it places an unfair disadvantage on the team that just got the ball and is heading down the court in transition.

So that won’t be happening, and apparently, a complete change where the league does away with the current rule altogether won’t be happening, either. But goaltending seems to be an area that the league has focused on, and it will likely be a topic that finds its way into the instant replay system in the very near future.

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.