There are a couple of reasons that teams hire full time media relations people and now hire their own reporters for their team Web sites, and driving traffic to those sites (so they can appease sponsors/advertisers) is just a part of it.
The bigger goal is to spin the narrative the way they want. It’s exactly what the Obama and Romney camps will do after Wednesday’s debate, except in our case it’s about the far less important topic basketball.
Reading the tweets out of all the reports at Knicks camp the big spin seemed to be “forget about Jeremy Lin, we’re not talking about him, but look what great shape Raymond Felton is in.”
Felton played pretty well with the Knicks a couple years ago, when he was running the Mike D’Antoni pick-and-roll with Amare Stoudemire all the time. That seems like eons ago. Felton was shipped out, landed in Portland then was unimpressive for the Blazers last year. And he owned up to why, tweeted Brian Mahoney of the AP.
The Knick went with one of the media day cliches — “We’re not talking about the past, we’re looking forward.” Jeremy Lin who? The Knicks are trying to turn the page on him but his popularity in New York makes that challenging. The questions will keep coming (especially if Lin plays well in Houston).
So the Knicks pushed hard on the “look what great shape Felton is in, he’s going to be great for us” angle. I don’t doubt that he comes in ready to play in much better shape.
The question of how good he is for them remains to be answered — Felton’s coming into an offense that ran through Carmleo Anthony last year and now may see more Stoudemire in the post. We need to see if Felton has got his groove back, and if he has how he meshes with this offense. If there is one thing the Knicks need, it is to figure out how to mesh this offense. Felton could be a key for that and if he can get it to work the Knicks look a lot better.
But for now — Felton’s in shape!
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.
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.
Did anyone ever fire up NBA 2K9 back in the day, decide to be the soon-to-be-champion Lakers, look at a roster with Kobe Bryant, Pau Gasol, and Lamar Odom then say “I’m going to be Luke Walton”?
D'Angelo Russell says he did.
The Lakers young point guard has praised the new Laker coach at every turn — Russell and Byron Scott did not get along, the point guard is much happier now — and that includes talking about Walton’s playing days to Kevin Ding of Bleacher Report.
“I told him I remember playing with him on (NBA) 2K; I used to always play as him. I’m a fan. I’m definitely a fan. Because he was a point forward. I can’t speak on Elgin Baylor and all those guys, but my era, I know he was a point forward.”
Really? NBA veteran and current analyst Stephen Jackson called Russell out on that.
Jackson has a point.
What is with the ridiculous, unrealistic Philadelphia 76ers rumors of late? Last I checked recreational use was not legal in Pennsylvania. Not that the law is stopping anyone.
The latest silliness follows this logic:
This summer the Sixers made runs at veteran guards such as Jamal Crawford and Manu Ginobili (and they forced the Spurs to pay up for the Argentinian to keep him).
The Cleveland Cavaliers and J.R. Smith are in a staring contest, and Smith remains a free agent.
The Sixers have more than $22 million in cap space still.
No. Not happening.
Or, we could have just asked Smith who has said he is not talking to other teams and doesn’t want to play anywhere but Cleveland.
I can get why Sixers management would want to bring a veteran and beloved, hard-working pro such as Ginobili in to lead and mentor a young team. Does Smith bring that same demeanor? I get that Smith in Cleveland has developed his game, and that he has matured and backed off his hard-partying ways (he gets a hall pass for the days after winning a championship), but is Smith the veteran you bring into a young locker room?
Can we move on from the ridiculous in Pennslyvania? Well, probably not until after the election, that is a battleground state.