Larry Bird is never a guy to pull punches.
After the Pacers got run out of the building by the Heat Tuesday night the Indiana team president didn’t hold back speaking to Mike Wells of the Indy Star (via twitter).
Larry Bird: “I can’t believe my team went soft. S-O-F-T. I’m disappointed. I never thought it would happen.”
Bird chose not to elaborate… not that he needed to. That was a punch to the gut. Bird is as fierce a competitor as the game has ever seen and his team backed down when punched in the mouth.
Miami came out angry, looking to take revenge on the Pacers and Indiana looked like a team without playoff experience. Which they are. Indy was overwhelmed and once Danny Granger went down with an ankle injury they fell apart worse than the plot of “Matrix: Revolutions.” It wasn’t pretty.
We’ll see what kind of fight the Pacers come back with in Game 6, although if Granger is out it may be moot.
Everything LeBron James does and says gets magnified and scrutinized.
So when he put out this photo on Instagram standing shoulder-to-shoulder with Tristan Thompson and the caption “get it done” it seemed a message to the Cavaliers.
LeBron clarified that on Sunday, saying this has become a distraction, and the message was for both sides to bend, as reported by Dave McMenamin of ESPN and Chris Haynes of the Plain Dealer.
When Thompson didn’t sign the qualifying offer he surrendered a lot of leverage, the Cavaliers don’t have to raise their five-year, $80 million offer — but reportedly they still would, a little. Thompson and his agent Rich Paul have pushed for a max contract, but that’s not happening.
At some point, the two sides will come to an agreement. For the Cavaliers, this is a distraction, their star is unhappy with that, and ultimately if they are going to make a title run they need the energy and rebounding Thompson brings (even if it is just off the bench). For Thompson, he can’t make up a year of lost salary, he has to come in and start getting paid at some point.
The two sides will get it done. Eventually. Likely before the season tips off.
China has secured the ninth and final Olympic men’s basketball berth awarded this year.
China earned the bid to the 2016 Rio Games with a 78-67 win over the Philippines. 2016 first-round draft prospect Qi Zhou had 16 points and 14 rebounds, setting up the Olympics to be his big introduction to American fans.
Former NBA player Yi Jianlian won tournament MVP by averaging 16.7 points, 8.8 rebounds, 1.4 assists and 1.2 blocks per game.
This will be China’s ninth straight Olympic appearance.
The Philippines, who got 17 points from Andray Blatche in the final, will still go to an Olympic Qualifying Tournament next summer with a chance to reach Rio.