Update: Police say OKC shooting not tied to Thunder game; Arrests made

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UPDATE #4, May 23,  11:26 AM: Police have made a second arrest in the case, a 17-year-old minor.

The first arrest was of 19-year-old Rodney Hill. No charges have been filed but both are being held on the complaint of shooting with intent to kill.

UPDATE #3 9:45 PM: Oklahoma City Police have made an arrest in the case. From the AP:

Police say Rodney Hill was taken into custody Tuesday afternoon, but no other details have been released. Capt. Dexter Nelson says the shooting didn’t appear connected to the playoff game, which Oklahoma City won to advance to the NBA Western Conference finals.

Basically, it looks like a fight outside a bar escalated and there just happened to be thousands of people around exiting a game. It had nothing to do with the team. Still the Thunder will be under pressure to step up security for future games.

UPDATE #2 5:13 PM: Oklahoma City Police are now saying that the shooting was not related to the Thunder game at all. From the Associated Press:

Police Capt. Dexter Nelson said Tuesday that there have been no arrests in the Monday night shooting. Nelson says witnesses reported seeing a group of females in an altercation with a group of males just before the shooting about 11:30 p.m. Monday.

Men and women fighting? I thought that only happened in New York?

Obviously (even before this report) this was not on the Thunder, this was on people who look for trouble and used this as an excuse. Sadly, it happens everywhere (see: soccer hooligans). That said, the Thunder said they would work with police to up their security for future games, including Thunder Alley where games are shown outside the arena.

UPDATE 8:45 AM: The final tally was eight people injured — seven of them shot and one person was critically wounded, plus a pregnant woman was punched in the abdomen — according to the Oklahoman. There have been no arrests in the case. Yet.

The incident took place just a few blocks from the arena where the game was played. Police estimate there were about 5,000 people in the area when the shooting took place. The area is where a lot of people park or go out after the games. There have been growing crowds — in addition to the packed building about 5,000 people watched the game on a big screen outside the arena, an area called Thunder Alley. The shootings did not take place in the arena or Thunder Alley but did involve the crowd from the game.

It’s unfortunate this kind of thing happens, but it’s not unprecedented. For example, the Lakers used to show playoff games on a projection outside Staples Center when it first opened more than a decade ago (the Shaq/Kobe Lakers era) but stopped after fan violence following a win.

2:27 am: Multiple people have been wounded by gunfire near the Thunder’s arena in downtown Oklahoma City in the wake of the Thunder win over the Los Angeles Lakers. A win that sent them to the Western Conference Finals.

From the Oklahoman:

Multiple people were shot downtown shortly after the Thunder game let out Monday night, police said….

One person was shot in the back, another in the upper arm and a third in the hand, according to police radio traffic. Victims are still turning up to hospitals. The victims’ conditions are not yet known.

Two suspected shooters are in custody at the Bricktown Harkins Theater, Oklahoma City police Capt. Lisa Camacho said.

We don’t have a lot of details yet, we don’t know about the suspects or their motives. That said, there no excuse. It grows frustrating to see every time a team wins — hockey in Vancouver, college basketball in Lexington and the list goes on around the world — there seems to have to be violence afterwards.

PBT will update this as we get more information.

Report: Spurs exploring Chris Paul pursuit

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The Clippers are taking the Chris Paul-to-Spurs rumors seriously.

And apparently so are the Spurs.

Marc Stein of ESPN:

The San Antonio Spurs are exploring the feasibility of making a free-agent run at All-Star point guard Chris Paul, league sources told ESPN.

San Antonio must complete three difficult objectives to land Paul:

  • Clear cap space. Even if they trim their roster to Kawhi Leonard, LaMarcus Aldridge, Pau Gasol, Danny Green and Tony Parker, the Spurs would still have to dump two of them to clear max room. Can they convince Gasol to reverse course and opt out, maybe re-signing at a major discount? Would they trade Parker, who has meant so much to the franchise? Would they deal Aldridge or Green, players who would make major contributions to a Leonard/Paul-led team?
  • Convince Paul to accept a projected max of $152 million over four years rather than the projected $205 million he could get over five years from the Clippers. Although the annual difference is just $3 million and Paul could sign another deal in four years, it’s unlikely he recoups that at age 36.
  • Convince Paul to leave big-market L.A. for small-market San Antonio. Remember, Paul forced his way from small-market New Orleans then ascended into one of the NBA’s biggest endorsement stars.

The Spurs boast a fantastic basketball culture, and Leonard and Popovich make great partners in a championship chase. There are reasons San Antonio is gaining traction with Paul.

But there’s still a lot for the Spurs to overcome. Will they? At least they’re trying rather than just dismissing the plot as unfeasible.

Cleveland GM David Griffin: “I hope everybody says we have no chance”

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The Golden State Warriors are heavy favorites to win the NBA title. According to bovda.lv, bet $100 on the Warriors to win the title and you get $41.7 dollars. Bet $100 on the Cavaliers and you get $200. And that number is likely to get worse for Warriors fans.

The Cavaliers are okay with that. They like being the underdogs. Look at what GM David Griffin said in a televised interview after they eliminated the Celtics in Game 5, via Cleveland.com.

“I hope everybody says we have no chance,” General Manager David Griffin said during a TV interview following the Cavaliers’ 135-102 win Thursday night against the Boston Celtics, clinching a third straight NBA Finals appearance.

“Obviously the team we’re playing is as good as you can possibly put together, it’s going to be an unbelievable battle for us, but I think [the Cavs] love battling together. The greater the odds, the better we seem to play together. We really do rally around each other in that sense.”

There is some truth to that.

There’s also a difference between that truth and slowing Stephen Curry and Kevin Durant. How the Cavaliers are going to do that will be the interesting part of these playoffs.

Detroit’s Van Gundy honored for cooperation with media, fans

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AUBURN HILLS, Mich. (AP) — Stan Van Gundy of the Detroit Pistons has won the Rudy Tomjanovich Award, which honors an NBA coach for his cooperation with media and fans, as well as excellence on the court.

The Professional Basketball Writers Association announced the winner Friday. Van Gundy was one of five finalists for the award. The others were Steve Clifford of the Charlotte Hornets, Mike D’Antoni of the Houston Rockets, David Fizdale of the Memphis Grizzlies and Brad Stevens of the Boston Celtics.

Dwane Casey of the Toronto Raptors won the award last season.

No surprise: It’s Cavs-Warriors in the NBA Finals, again

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OAKLAND (AP) — Here they go again.

For the third straight year, it’s Cleveland and Golden State in the NBA Finals. The 2016 champions versus the 2015 champions . The first “threematch” – rematch of a rematch – in league history. It’s the matchup most expected, the matchup most predicted, and probably the matchup the Cavaliers and Warriors wanted as well.

Let the hype, and the waiting, begin: Game 1 isn’t until June 1.

“I’ve been very blessed the last few years to be a part of this league and play on the big stage,” said Cleveland star LeBron James, who has now reached the Finals for the eighth time – including each of the last seven years. “But we’re going to enjoy this for a couple more days before we have to lock in on that juggernaut out west.”

The Cavaliers and Warriors split their two meetings this season, both winning at home. Cleveland won by one on Christmas Day, Golden State prevailed by 35 on Jan. 16.

Golden State led the league with 67 wins this season and is a staggering 27-1 in its last 28 games – including a perfect 12-0 in the Western Conference playoffs, the first time a team has gone this deep into an NBA postseason without losing. Cleveland, which seemed sleepy at times in the regular season, went 12-1 in the Eastern Conference playoffs that ended with a win over Boston on Thursday night.

“Playing in this league, you can’t take anything for granted,” Warriors guard Stephen Curry said. “Thirty teams suit up every year trying to get to this point, and only two teams do. So you have to appreciate it. … We need to understand the privilege that we have and the opportunity that we have to play in the Finals again, to have the opportunity to win a championship.”

Already, the back-and-forth is underway.

Cleveland coach Tyronn Lue was quoted earlier this week saying he thought Boston’s offense was “harder to defend” than Golden State’s. Countered Golden State acting coach Mike Brown, when asked about it Thursday: “That’s his opinion. It’s cute.”

And there will be reminders of the Halloween party that James threw for the Cavaliers last fall, with “3-1 Lead” – a nod to what the Warriors lost in last year’s Finals – prominently displayed on the drum set.

Much more of that sort of that will likely follow over the next week, filling time before Golden State plays host to Game 1. But there’s also a clear respect level between the clubs as well.

“The best team in our league the last three years,” James said of the Warriors. “And they’ve added an unbelievable player in Kevin Durant this year. So it makes it even more difficult. They’re going to challenge us a lot, offensively, defensively, mentally, physically. We have to be ready for the challenge.”

For James, the Finals are an annual rite.

For Durant, this trip ends a five-year wait.

Durant’s only other time in the Finals was 2012 when he was with Oklahoma City. The Thunder lost to Miami in five games, a series that made James a champion for the first time.

At the very moment where the clock ran out in that series, the person James was embracing was Durant – telling the then-Thunder star, his offseason workout partner at the time, how proud of him he was.

“Hopefully,” James said that night, “I don’t continue to have to run into him.”

They’ll collide again, starting next week.

Durant’s decision to leave the Thunder for Golden State as a free agent last summer meant the Warriors went from mere overwhelming favorites to win the West again to super-duper-overwhelming favorites to win the West again. They got a big scare in late February when Durant had a left knee injury, but he’s back and the Warriors have rolled since.

“It’s a little different, definitely. I can’t lie,” Durant said, when comparing the 2012 Finals trip to this one. “I went when I was 23 years old, and it felt like the Western Conference Finals was almost like the championship. Just getting to that point, you know how hard it is and how much work you put in to start the season. So it’s a little different now, obviously. We have a bigger goal in mind.”

The storylines are many. Can James win his fourth ring? Can Durant win his first? Will the Warriors be haunted by letting last season’s 3-1 lead slip away? Will they become the first team in NBA history to go undefeated in a postseason? How will Golden State guard Kyrie Irving? How will Cleveland try to contain Curry?

There’s also the irony that Brown, the first coach who took James to an NBA Finals in 2007 – Cleveland was swept by San Antonio – will now coach against him, likely in the same leading role he’s had for Golden State since head coach Steve Kerr was forced to take a break because of continued problems with his surgically repaired back.

“I don’t care who you’re playing, to make it to the NBA Finals, to win your conference finals, it’s a big task,” Brown said.

The biggest task awaits.