Olajuwon pulling for pupil LeBron James in finals

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LeBron James’ post game took a leap forward this season.

With the Heat not having a traditional scoring threat on the block, LeBron James has moved more to the post (particularly early in the season.) He took 13.7 percent of his shot attempts out of the post this season and shot 50.4 percent from there and drew the foul on 9 percent of his attempts (stats via MySynergySports.com). Those are good numbers.

Some of that success came from working with legendary big man Hakeem Olajuwon down in Houston. When reached to see if he was following his star student, Olajuwon said he was pulling for LeBron in the finals. From Chris Tomasson of Fox Sports Florida.

“If he relaxes and just plays his game, he’ll be fine and I think (the Heat) win it,” said Olajuwon, who said he has become like a “big brother” to James in the past year…

“You look at a lot of the moves, and it was unbelievable to watch,” said Olajuwon, speaking Monday by phone from Jordan about having seen that Game 6 last Thursday in the Middle East. “The way they were executed it was a joy to watch because I know that we worked on that, and to see him using it at a most crucial time. He is in a comfort zone, and he is doing it how he is supposed to do it.”

LeBron may find it tough to operate in the post against a Thunder team that can bring bigs like Serge Ibaka and Kendrick Perkins over to help. But if LeBron draws a double in the post he is one of the best passers in the league and that could be trouble for the Thunder.

But he learned from the best. Like most things with the Heat these playoffs, it’s a matter of executing consistently under pressure.

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.