There were all sorts of whispers (and in some corners, some very loud talking) last season about how Dwyane Wade is getting old and starting to slip.
I’m not sure why — his points per game dropped three to 22.1, but he set up teammates more and turn the ball over less, and his PER went up. He missed a few games due to injury, but that happens. Let’s put it this way: Is a guy who averaged 22.8 points per game in the playoffs on a knee that needed surgery after the season really looking old and diminished?
None the less, people are whispering and Wade is being asked about it, but he told Ira Winderman at the Sun Sentinel he was done talking about it.
“You know what I’ve decided,” Wade said recently. “I’ve just decided not to comment on it any more.”
Well, except for the part where he told you how much that talk pissed off the 30-year-old, who missed 16 of 66 games due to a variety of injuries.
“Any time someone questions you, it’s going to bother you if you have any kind of competitive nature,” Wade said. “It fuels you. You want to see what you’re made of in a sense. You want to come back and not only answer the bell, but do a little bit more than expected.”
Wade’s style of play — few sacrifice their body like him — leads to him getting little nagging injuries over the course of the season. Which for the Heat means they are going to rest him more, they are not playing for February. But to suggest that means he is slowing down is a leap it would be a mistake to make. When healthy, or even close enough to get on the court, he can dominate games. Just because he chose to defer to LeBron James more last season doesn’t mean he’s fading. Make that call at your own risk.
As of tomorrow, training camps around the league open, and all the focus goes to the 2016-17 season.
For fun, let’s look back one more time at last season — the 50 top circus shots of last season.
Stephen Curry driving the lane and throwing up prayers once he draws contact (and hitting them), there is Russell Westbrook throwing the inbounds pass off an opponent’s back, and so much more. Enjoy. Then let’s get on with next season.
Kevin Garnett intimidates people. In the machismo-fueled world of professional sports nobody comfortably admits they were intimidated, but in the wake of Garnett announcing his retirement, a number of players stepped forward to say exactly that. And that KG trashed talked them fearlessly.
Oklahoma City’s Steven Adams found a way to avoid that — tell KG he didn’t speak English.
Adams was lucky, KG had a reputation for going harder at foreign-born players with his trash talk and intimidation. Then again Adams is not the kind of guy prone to be intimidated.
Athletes are injecting themselves into the needed national conversation about race, violence, and policing in this nation. That has taken some very public forms, including LeBron James, Chris Paul, Dwyane Wade and Carmelo Anthony speaking at the ESPYs, and Colin Kaepernick taking a knee during the national anthem and leading others to do so. Some NBA players likely will follow Kaepernick’s lead.
Pistons coach/GM Stan Van Gundy likes seeing players speak out.
A couple of his Detroit players — Reggie Jackson and Marcus Morris — said they backed the 49ers quarterback. Here is what the never shy Van Gundy said about all of it, via Vincent Ellis of the Detroit Free Press.
“I’m encouraged by the fact of what some of those guys stood up and did at the ESPYs and had a conversation,” Van Gundy said. “I’m really proud of the fact that we have guys that not only see the problem, but want to try to do something about it…
“To me, in some ways, (police brutality is) just the most visible to focus on and it goes to deeper inequities in our criminal justice system, our education system so there’s so much to focus on,” Van Gundy said. “I think it’s great that we have players that want to be part of that conversation, and a lot of players that want to go beyond the conversation and be part of the solution.”
Van Gundy has been telling his players part of that solution is to vote.
The players union and NBA sent out a release saying they wanted to work together to create positive change, but details are still vague on what that might be. The only thing we know for sure as we head into the NBA season — with as divided a nation and election as anyone can remember as a backdrop — is that some NBA players are going to try and keep the conversation going.
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.
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.