NBA players part of new Christian sports apparel company

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There are some very devout Christians playing and coaching in the NBA. Maybe the most visable is Warriors coach Mark Jackson, who also is minister of a church in Los Angeles. But the NBA does not have a guy whose faith is so tied to his persona as is the case with Tim Tebow.

But some of those players — including the Knicks’ Jeremy Lin — have found a new way to wear their faith in public. Literally.

Minnesota’s Anthony Tolliver along with D-Leaguer Lanny Smith have launched a new Christian sporting apparel line, as he told the Associated Press.

Lin is a big supporter, wearing Active Faith wristbands emblazoned with “IJNIP” — In Jesus’ Name I Play — during games. And the two friends have already recruited Golden State Warriors star guard Stephen Curry and San Diego Padres pitcher Micah Owings as investors in a company that is owned exclusively by athletes.

“It kind of blew up on us overnight and it turned from something that me an Anthony were working on growing step by step to something that turned global,” Smith said.

Sports apparel is a tough market to penetrate — it’s a crowded field. But as far as I know this is a different approach, one that might both appeal to a segment of the market and cut through the clutter.

Plus, there’s not much better or bigger marketing these days than Lin.

But Tolliver says it’s not about that.

“I never, ever, in a million years thought I would be involved in a clothing company,” Tolliver said. “I was like nah, I would never do that. This is something that’s way more meaningful than just making money.”

Friday afternoon fun: Watch James Harden’s 10 best plays from last season

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James Harden had a historic season in Houston.

Since it’s Friday afternoon and your sports viewing options consist of watching guys about to be cut from NFL rosters try to impress, why not check out Harden’s best plays from last season. It’s worth a couple minutes of your time.

Mavericks sign Jeff Withey to one-year contract

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Jeff Withey‘s ex-fiancée accused him of domestic violence, but he was not charged.

That frees him to continue his basketball career, which he’ll do in Dallas.

Shams Charania of Yahoo Sports:

The Mavericks could use another center, even if they re-sign Nerlens Noel. Salah Mejri is the only other true center, though Dirk Nowitzki will now play the position.

Withey is a good rim protector. Just don’t ask him to do anything away from the basket.

Dallas annually brings excess players to training camp and has them compete for regular-season roster spots. Whether or not his salary is guaranteed, Withey will likely fall into that competition.

Marc Gasol: If Grizzlies don’t share my goal of continued growth, we might have to revisit things

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The Grizzlies’ Grit & Grind era has ended.

Zach Randolph signed with the Kings, and Tony Allen appears likely to leave Memphis, too. The Grizzlies are prioritizing younger/cheaper players like Ben McLemore and Tyreke Evans.

Marc Gasol via Ala Carta, as translated by HoopsHype:

I’m very ambitious and I’ve wanted Memphis to be a great franchise. We’ve grown a lot the last 6-7 years, but we have to keep growing. If this is not lined up, maybe we may have to revisit things.

Gasol has been loyal to Memphis, and his first wish is probably winning there. But Giannis Antetokounmpo put it well: Teams must also do right by their players. Gasol is 32 and doesn’t have much time in his prime left. I see why rebuilding wouldn’t interest him.

But what will he do about it if the Grizzlies don’t prioritize the present? They made their push last summer with a max contract for Chandler Parsons, but because Parsons can’t stay healthy, that deal only inhibits team growth.

Gasol is locked up for two more years before a player option. He doesn’t have much leverage. This is part of the reason LeBron James keeps signing short-term contracts. Gasol doesn’t have the same ability to steer his team in his desired direction

On the potentially bright side, rebuilding teams often don’t have much use for 32-year-olds guaranteed more than $72 million over the following three years. If the fit devolves, Memphis becomes more likely to trade him.

Celtics to retire Paul Pierce’s number after Cavaliers game in February

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The Celtics already said they’d retire Paul Pierce’s No. 34.

Now, we know when.

Celtics release:

The Boston Celtics announced today that they will retire Paul Pierce’s No. 34 after a mid-season game against the Cleveland Cavaliers on Sunday, Feb. 11

After? That’s apparently in response to a new rule that penalizes teams not ready to play after a 15-minute halftime. These ceremonies can drag on, and nobody wants to cut Pierce short. I wonder whether this will start a trend of number retirements coming after games.