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Monday And-1 links: An oral history of the Dream Team

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Here is our regular look around the NBA — links to stories worth reading and notes to check out (stuff that did not get its own post here at PBT) — done in bullet point form. Because bloggers love bullet points like Texans love barbeque.

• If you read just one thing today, make it An oral history of the Dream Team at GQ, put together by my man Lang Whitaker. Fantastic stuff.

• Another great read, a profile of Stephen Jackson over at Grantland.

• One final great read, about the basketball hero system at Deadspin.

Were there UFO’s circling Jimmer Fredette’s wedding? Sure. And they were piloted by Tupac and Elvis.

• Referees working the NBA finals will wear number 57 on their jerseys to recognize NBA referee Greg Willard who was recently diagnosed with pancreatic cancer. Great gesture.

• There is a James Harden beard on a building in Oklahoma City. As there should be.

• Watch out for people saying “small market Oklahoma City getting to NBA finals a sign of parity/better economics in the NBA.” No. Not close. The Thunder roster was built under the old system. Good management is good management.

There’s a report that the Celtics are going to go after restricted Spurs free agent Danny Green. The Spurs will match.

• Celtics big man Jermaine O’Neal tweeted he is going to go to Germany and get the Kobe knee treatment.

• I’ve been as quick to throw dirt on the grave of Derek Fisher as anyone, but he really helped the Thunder and foiled Gregg Popovich in the WCF.

What would you be willing to give up in a trade for Rudy Gay? Not as much as Memphis wants, probably.

• We’ll see what happens going forward, but whatever it is the Celtics “big three” will have left their mark on the NBA.

• DeMarcus Cousins says he wants to use his USA Select team experience to come back a better leader. The Kings brass hopes for that, too.

• Lance Stephenson could be the Pacers sixth man next season.

• The Cavaliers may make a run at Michael Redd this summer.

• Owner Ted Leonsis wants to get the Wizards’ practice facility.

Meet the new Hawks, same as the old Hawks.

• There will be 8 million of these stories before the draft and they are almost all meaningless — Hornets GM Dell Demps is open to moving the No. 10 pick for the right price. Of course he is. Every pick in this draft (except No. 1) and nearly every player in the league could be traded if you come with an over-the-top offer. That’s very different than saying it’s likely.

• By the way, the Hornets might take UNC’s Tyler Zeller with that No. 10 pick they are trading.

• Sacramento mayor Kevin Johnson has been re-elected. Which is good for whatever is left of the effort to build an arena in Sacramento. Of course, he was never the problem with that deal.

• Another big free agent this summer — long time NBA writer Peter Vecsey is leaving the New York Post soon.

• The NBA is going to telecast it’s first ever Social Media Awards.

Karl-Anthony Towns fakes out Luke Babbitt with spin move (VIDEO)

ATLANTA, GA - NOVEMBER 09:  Karl-Anthony Towns #32 of the Minnesota Timberwolves reacts after hitting a basket against the Atlanta Hawks at Philips Arena on November 9, 2015 in Atlanta, Georgia.  NOTE TO USER User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, user is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement.  (Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images)
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Since he came into the league, Karl-Anthony Towns‘ offensive footwork has been unusually advanced for a rookie. He showed off his impressive moves again on Monday night, getting to the basket around Luke Babbitt with this spin:

Kobe Bryant throws down old-man breakaway dunk (VIDEO)

INDIANAPOLIS, IN - FEBRUARY 8:  Paul George #13 of the Indiana Pacers defends against Kobe Bryant #24 of the Los Angeles Lakers in the first half of the game at Bankers Life Fieldhouse on February 8, 2016 in Indianapolis, Indiana. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using the photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. (Photo by Joe Robbins/Getty Images)
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Once upon a time, Kobe Bryant was one of the best in-game dunkers in basketball. Age and injuries have sapped him of his explosiveness, which makes it rare these days that he dunks at all. On his final trip to Bankers Life Fieldhouse, Pacers fans got a special treat of sorts, even if it was nothing like what we’ve seen from Kobe over the past two decades.

NBA local television ratings up, led by spike in Warriors viewship

PHILADELPHIA, PA - JANUARY 30: Klay Thompson #11, Draymond Green #23, Harrison Barnes #40, Shaun Livingston #34 and Stephen Curry #30 high five one another in the game against the Philadelphia 76ers on January 30, 2016 at the Wells Fargo Center in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. (Photo by Mitchell Leff/Getty Images)
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Everyone wants to watch Stephen Curry and the Golden State Warriors.

Local television ratings for Warriors games on Comcast Sportsnet Bay Area have spiked 120 percent since last season, according to data compiled by the Sports Business Journal. An estimated 209,000 people tune in to CSN Bay Area for the games (plus the numbers of subscribers streaming Warriors’ games through CSNBayArea.com also has spiked this season).

It’s all part of an overall upward trend in ratings for the league, although about half the league’s markets have seen ratings fall.

Overall, as the NBA enters its All-Star break this weekend, the league’s local telecasts are up 6 percent year over year, according to Nielsen. Eleven teams have seen gains in their local ratings this season, while 15 have dropped. Denver Nuggets games on Altitude are flat with last year….

Golden State’s average rating is high enough to rank third in the NBA, an impressive achievement for a big-market team. Three of the top four teams as measured by ratings play in small markets: Cleveland, San Antonio and Oklahoma City. Additionally, with a league-best 209,000 households on average watching Warriors games locally this season, Golden State is far outpacing the New York Knicks for their games on MSG (160,000 households) and the Cleveland Cavaliers for their games on FS Ohio (141,000).

Interestingly, ratings for the Lakers are down 16 percent year-over-year, despite this being Kobe Bryant‘s final season, according to the report. That impacts the Lakers in that their massive cable television deal with Time Warner does have ratings ties — the Lakers could get a little less out of this deal than anticipated. Still, the average Lakers’ broadcast draws 92,000 viewers, fifth largest in the league.

LeBron has Cavaliers ratings up 36 percent over a year ago. The three biggest drops in ratings percentage wise are Atlanta (33 percent), New Orleans (33 percent), and Washington (34 percent). The average Pelicans game draws 7,000 viewers, according to the report.

That discrepancy in local television viewership — and the money that affords teams in local television deals — you can be sure is something the owners will fight about more in the upcoming Collective Bargaining Agreement discussions. There already is some sharing of that revenue, but as the gap grows you can expect a push from smaller markets to grow that sharing model (the only time rich owners suddenly want socialism in their lives). Expect the players’ union to bring it up as well when the owners cry poverty.

 

Love returns to Cavaliers’ lineup after missing 1 game

Cleveland Cavaliers' Kevin Love, right, drives past Phoenix Suns’ P.J. Tucker during the second half of an NBA basketball game Wednesday, Jan. 27, 2016, in Cleveland. The Cavaliers won 115-93. (AP Photo/Tony Dejak)
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CLEVELAND (AP) — Cleveland Cavaliers forward Kevin Love will return to the lineup Monday after missing a game because of a bruised left thigh.

Cleveland hosts Sacramento on Monday night.

Love sat out for the first time this season on Saturday in a win over New Orleans. He was injured in the third quarter of Friday’s loss to Boston and didn’t return.

He is averaging 15.9 points and 10.5 rebounds.

Love participated in Monday’s shootaround. He is nearing a pair of career milestones, needing three points to reach 9,000 and three field goals to hit 3,000.