Winderman: After lockout, preseason games look pretty good

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How much do we miss the game? This much: We’re actually looking forward to the start of the preseason.

Yes, in this space a week ago we said the process is too long, that it shortchanges players who spend the month working without pay (with the NBA calling to remind that 50 percent of revenue generated in the preseason goes to the players, as revenue under the new collective-bargaining agreement).

But after having nothing at this time last year due to the lockout, the gradual roll out of the league allows for plenty of time to sample in between NFL and college-football fare.

So what’s about to commence? Here’s what:

Friday, Celtics vs. Fenerbahce Ulker in Istanbul, Turkey: Kevin Garnett gets an early chance to further complicate international relations. Word is he already has forgotten the phone numbers of all the Fenerbahce players, as well as Ray Allen’s. Fenerbahce says that’s a shame since they’re nice to talk to on the phone.

Saturday, Nuggets vs. Clippers in Las Vegas: Now what possibly could go wrong with sending a pair of NBA teams to Vegas for an exhibition, including one that features JaVale McGee? Think of it as a return to the original “Hangover.” Wondering how many players the Clippers will be able to round up after the fact to take to China and how the Nuggets are going to be able to get that lion out of their hotel suite and back to Mike Tyson’s house.

Sunday: Magic vs. Hornets in Mexico City: And this is an attempt by the NBA to promote the game internationally? Or are they trying to keep the league’s top teams out of harm’s way?

Sunday: Warriors vs. Lakers in Fresno, Calif.: What if Steve Nash’s first pass as a Laker isn’t to Kobe?

Monday, Real Madrid at Toronto: Flash back to 2005 when the Raptors lost to Maccabi Tel Aviv. Another humbling NBA preseason moment on the horizon? It sort of would be like Barca losing at home to Toronto FC.

Oct. 10: Pacers vs. Timberwolves in Fargo, N.D.: They’re playing in the FargoDome. That is all.

No, matter. It’s as close as we’ll come to real hoops until Oct. 30, and the mere fact they’re bouncing balls anywhere puts us ahead of where we stood last year at this time.

Ira Winderman writes regularly for NBCSports.com and covers the Heat and the NBA for the South Florida Sun-Sentinel. You can follow him on Twitter at @IraHeatBeat.

Tiago Splitter announces retirement

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Tiago Splitter was so effective in his role for the Spurs during their playoff run to the 2014 title – 19.1 PER, .239 win shares per 48 minutes, +7.5 box plus-minus. It gets forgotten, because he twice lost his starting job that postseason.

Limited by a late start in the NBA and injuries, Splitter’s prime was short and ill-timed. He was a traditional center just as those were going out of style.

But for moments in the right matchups, he provided a major boost to a championship team. That was the peak of a seven-year NBA career.

HoopsHype:

Tiago Splitter announced his retirement at the age of 33 in an interview with SporTV.

Splitter just couldn’t get healthy. He missed 150 games over the last three years with the Spurs, Hawks and 76ers.

Drafted No. 28 in 2007, Splitter remained overseas for a few years and built hype and intrigue. He signed with San Antonio and started alongside Tim Duncan for a couple years. The Spurs later dumped him on Atlanta to clear space for LaMarcus Aldridge – a sign of Splitter’s success. He earned about $47 million in his NBA career.

J.J. Redick apologizes for saying what sounded like a slur for Chinese people

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76ers guard J.J. Redick explained saying what sounded like a slur for Chinese people – he was tongue-tied. But he didn’t actually apologize, and that bothered many.

Now, he’s getting that part right.

Redick:

Maybe Redick really did just stumble over his words. Based on the inflection, it certainly sounds possible.

Maybe he thought he was being funny then got caught.

He’d respond now the same way now either way. Maybe it’s just unfortunate he’s caught up in this. Maybe he’s using plausible deniability to get away with something.

I don’t know, but it’s good he apologized. People can apologize for accidents, and it usually helps make everyone feel better and move on.

Adam Silver: ‘Sounds like’ NBA All-Star draft will be televised next year

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NBA commissioner Adam Silver said the point of the All-Star draft wasn’t to create a new TV event, but a better All-Star game. He even pointed out Stephen Curry favored not televising the draft this year.

But All-Star after All-Star – from captain LeBron James to last pick LaMarcus Aldridge – expressed a comfort with the selections being known. Good thing, because most of the draft order leaked, anyway.

So, will the draft be televised next year?

Silver, in an interview with Ramona Shelburne of ESPN:

I was misinterpreted the other day, because people thought I was diming Steph by saying he didn’t want to televise it. I have no idea whether he wanted to televise it. What he said after the decision came not to televise it, he said let’s give it a chance to see if it works, and then if it works, then we’ll televise it. So, I said I agree with him. But I don’t know whether he was for or against it.

By the way, I’ll take as much responsibility. When we sat with the union and we came up with this format, we all agreed, let’s not turn something that’s 100 percent positive into a potential negative to any player. But then maybe we were overly conservative, because then we came out of there, and the players were, “We can take it. We’re All-Stars. Let’s have a draft.” So it sounds like we’re going to have a televised draft next year. But I’ve got to sit with LeBron and all the guys in the union and figure it out.

Overly cautious is right. This year was a missed opportunity. But the more important thing is getting next year right.

It sounds as if the NBA will.

Twitter reaction All-Star pre-game, Fergie’s national anthem vicious, priceless

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LOS ANGLES — In an intensely polarized nation, few things unite Americans anymore. Sunday night the NBA and its All-Star Game broadcast gave us one of those unifying forces — a pre-game run-up so bad it was universally panned.

The NBA is lucky the new format seemed to work and we had a dramatic, actual basketball game to talk about, helping us move on a pre-game show that, to put it kindly, simply did not work.

It started with a roughly 20-minute singing and dancing skit that was supposed to be about comedian Kevin Hart’s journey to being an NBA player (I think that’s what it was, anyway, it made as much sense as the movie “Wild, Wild West”). It felt forced, was not funny, and just dragged on and on. Even a Kardashian thought this was terrible television.

And that wasn’t even the worst part of the pregame, nor the part that sparked the most outrage online.

Fergie’s sexy, slow, bluesy rendition of the national anthem became the lightning rod.

Charles Barkley joked on TNT that he “needed a cigarette” after the Black Eye’d Peas’ singer’s performance. Shaquille O’Neal jumped in quickly to defend her (“Fergie, I love you. It was different. It was sexy. I liked it.”) as the broadcast quickly pivoted away from that topic.

Twitter was not so kind, and Draymond Green‘s face caught by camera’s during the anthem became a quick meme.

Twitter had a field day with Fergie’s rendition.

Now, let us never discuss this All-Star opening ever again. Please.