Los Angeles Lakers center Dwight Howard speaks during a press conference at the Lakers practice facility in El Segundo, California

Sounds like Dwight Howard has to win James Worthy over

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Lakers legend James Worthy will be the analyst on the Lakers next season, expanding a role he had before as Los Angeles moves into its massive new cable deal on Time Warner Cable SportsNet in Southern California.

But while most Lakers fans were ecstatic at getting Dwight Howard, Worthy said he was not that impressed during a conference call with the media about his new gig Thursday. Quotes via the Los Angeles Times.

“I wasn’t a fan of Dwight Howard,” Worthy said … “there was too much conversation.”

“Who said this, I don’t like this coach. To me, that’s nonsense,” Worthy said. “Your job is to come in and play and deal with the situation that’s there.”

Then there was the whole thing where Howard didn’t want to come to Los Angeles at first and basically had to come around to the idea as other options dried up.

“I was a little bit taken back. I think I heard him say … if the Lakers drafted him, he wouldn’t take it,” Worthy said. “I knew that was gibberish.”

No doubt, Howard handled his exit from Orlando about as poorly as he could have. But this is more than that. This is a generational thing, in the same way Charles Barkley and Michael Jordan piling on LeBron James after the decision was in part generational. Things were very different with the media and NBA coverage when Worthy came out of college.

Plus, Worthy was fortunate, drafted on to a championship team already that had Magic Johnson and Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, not to mention a strong supporting cast. It’s as cushy a landing spot as a No. 1 overall pick has ever had. He didn’t need to find other guys to team up with to win, he walked right into that situation.

To suggest that players in the past didn’t try to force team building is to ignore reality back to Abdul-Jabbar forcing his way out of Milwaukee and back before that. It happened. It just didn’t get the 24/7 coverage of every detail (thanks to blogs like this one) that Howard’s exit did. Our perceptions of everyone — Magic, Worthy, Jordan — would be different if they were under the current media microscope when they played.

But in the end, Worthy is a company man. The Lakers insist upon it with their broadcasters. So when he takes to the air, expect him to talk about what a great addition Howard is — which certainly is true on the court — and how he can be a part of the Lakers family. This will be about as negative as it gets.

Sunday is 16th anniversary of greatest dunk ever: Vince Carter over Frederic Weis

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It was the last game of the group stage of the 2000 Olympic basketball tournament at the Sydney Olympics, the USA was taking on France, another USA win on its way to another gold medal.

But what we all remember is this one play — Vince Carter dunking over the 7’2″ French center Frederic Weis.

Best. Dunk. Ever.

By anyone.

Weis was never the same.

In an impressive career — two-time All-NBA, eight-time All-Star, hours and hours of crazy highlights — this is always going to be the highlight at the top of the list. So we will use the anniversary of this dunk to look at it one more time.

Hat tip to nitramy at NBA Reddit.

Hornets coach Steve Clifford suggests allowing teams to advance ball in final two minutes without timeout

Steve Clifford
AP Photo/Chuck Burton
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The final minutes of a close NBA game rank among the best moments in sports – which is pretty remarkable, considering frequent stoppages interrupt and impede enjoyment of the game.

Clutch play. Timeout. Clutch play. Timeout. Clutch play. Timeout.

Coaches should probably call fewer timeouts, because drawing up a play also allows the defense to set. But timeouts give the offense the option of advancing the inbound spot into the frontcourt, a key advantage. So, teams will keep calling timeouts.

Unless…

Steve Aschburner of NBA.com:

For Charlotte’s Steve Clifford, the ability in the final two minutes of a game to advance the ball without requiring a timeout to be called could speed up the action. That has been used on a trial basis in the D League and in Summer League, and several coaches felt it worked well.

“The game is at an all-time high in popularity, but a lot of people complain about the last two minutes,” Clifford said. “I think it would add a different dimension but it would also be a good thing in addressing our biggest issue.”

Not that the coaches would be willing to lose any of their timeouts, though. They just wouldn’t save them specifically for that purpose.

I’m here for that.

I’m unsurprised control-seeking coaches want to keep all their timeouts, and reducing those seems unlikely, anyway. The NBA pays its bills through commercial breaks.

Would moving those advertising opportunities earlier in the game pay off? Audiences are probably larger in crunch time, but an action-packed closing stretch could hook fans and grow overall audiences. It’s always a difficult decision to forgo maximizing immediate revenue in pursuit of more later.

But I’m fairly certain fans would appreciate the change, which is at least a starting point in considering it.

Kyrie Irving feels validated after hitting game-winning shot to bring title to Cleveland

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Back in July during the pre-Olympics USA Camp in Las Vegas, I asked Kyrie Irving what had changed for him, what was different for him after winning an NBA title. His answer was about the doors it opened, the possibilities that suddenly felt available to him. A month after winning the title he still seemed a little overwhelmed by the experience, and he hadn’t fully processed it yet. Which is completely understandable.

Now, as training camp is set to open for the Cavaliers and their defense of that title, Irving clearly has gotten used to being a champion — and he feels validated. Look at what he told Joe Varden of the Cleveland Plain Dealer.

“Yes, my life’s changed drastically,” Irving told cleveland.com Saturday, during Irving’s friendship walk and basketball challenge downtown for Best Buddies, Ohio — an organization that gives social growth and employment opportunities to people with intellectual and developmental disabilities.

“It’s kind of, you’re waiting for that validation from everyone, I guess, to be considered one of the top players in the league at the highest stage,” Irving said. “That kind of changed. I was just trying to earn everyone’s respect as much as I could.”

It’s amazing to think of the impact one shot — Irving’s three over Stephen Curry with 53 seconds left in Game 7 — can have. If he misses, there is less pressure on the Warriors to answer with a three, maybe they come down and get a bucket inside for two (one could argue they should have done that anyway rather than hunt for the three), from there maybe the Warriors win. If so, that could change everything from Kevin Durant‘s summer plans to what the Cavaliers’ roster looks like today — there’s a good chance Cleveland’s lineup would have changed if they lost to the Warriors two Finals in a row.

One shot can have that kind of impact on a player, too.

Kyrie Irving was one of the top five point guards in the NBA for a while, a score first guy but one who had some floor general in him and got some steals. A lot of time seemed to be spent focusing on his flaws defensively and passing. But with that shot, he feels validated. If he carries that confidence into next season, the Cavaliers just got better.

Check out top 50 plays from Kevin Garnett’s Hall of Fame career (VIDEO)

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First Kobe Bryant. Then Tim Duncan.

Now Kevin Garnett. The Hall of Fame class in five years is going to be stacked.

But before we move on from Garnett’s announcement this week that he is retiring after 21 years in the NBA, let’s look back at his greatest plays (compiled by the folks at NBA.com). Enjoy this for 11 minutes rather than watching your NFL fantasy team flounder. Again.