Winderman: NBA fun police enter the building with handshake timer

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It is a curious thing, this NBA of ours.

On one hand, it seemingly is all about the marketing, the highlight mixes, the creation of a cult of personality.

On the other hand, there has to be structure, order, decorum.

Or so the league now says, with the new edict that players must be ready for the opening tip within 90 seconds of the end of introductions.

On one hand, it all has gotten a bit much, and for more than jumping chest bumps at the scorers’ table, teammates falling down like bowling pins, the slapping of every hand of every statistician on press row (including the supposedly neutral timers), and, yes, even the powder tosses.

Ninety seconds certainly is long enough to complete just about any reasonable pregame ritual, including Dwyane Wade dunking his head upwards through the rim and then turning in all four directions to salute the fans.

But once the fun police enter the building, as the NFL has learned, they tend to stick around.

It seemed as if we had moved beyond the NBA’s fashion police, and what constitutes dress jeans.

And, yes, we still have players forced to watch from the locker room when deactivated without a suitable sports coat on hand (although teams now stock them just like those uppity restaurants with their pilled blazers).

But it’s not as if 90 seconds after introductions fans are seated, ready to go. With the increase of lounges around the league, some barely make it to their seats by the end of the first quarter, leaving late in the second period to be at the front of the line at the bar.

If loosely enforced, fine. Television, after all, pays the freight and their formats have to have some semblance of timing.

But how many times does that extra pregame television feature bump into the start of the game anyway?

Beyond that, the introductions, themselves, have gotten over the top. Before a playoff game or a Finals moment? Fine. But high drama before Game No. 38 in January against the Kings? Yawn.

Basketball players embracing the joy of the sport should be welcomed.

Their individual moments should be embraced.

Even the ones that last 91 seconds.

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.

Hawks sign two-way Tyler Cavanaugh to standard contract

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ATLANTA (AP) — Rookie forward Tyler Cavanaugh, who originally came to Atlanta on a two-way contract, has signed a multi-year deal with the Hawks.

Cavanaugh has averaged 5.5 points and 3.2 rebounds in 19 games, including one start, since signing the two-way contract on Nov. 5.

Cavanaugh, from Syracuse, New York, played two seasons at Wake Forest before transferring to George Washington, where he averaged 18.3 points and 8.4 rebounds last season. He was selected the National Invitation Tournament Most Outstanding Player in 2016 after leading the Colonials to the NIT title.

 

Carlos Boozer announces retirement

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Carlos Boozer went from being known as a gritty second-rounder to an overpaid defensive liability.

In some ways, that’s the ultimate success story.

Now, after playing last season in China, he’s walking away.

Boozer on ESPN:

I’m officially retired.

The Cavaliers drafted Boozer with the No. 35 pick in the 2002. After he spent a couple productive seasons in Cleveland, the Cavs declined his cheap team option to make him a restricted free agent – with an agreement he’d re-sign at a reasonable rate if you ask them, with no handshake deal if you ask him.

Boozer bolted for the Jazz, who gave him a six-year, $68 million contract. He made a couple All-Star teams and helped Utah reach the conference finals.

Then, he went to Chicago on a five-year, $75 million contract after the Bulls struck out on LeBron James, Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh in 2010. The Derrick Rose-led Bulls never broke through, and Boozer was often the scapegoat.

Chicago amnestied him, and he spent his last NBA season with the Lakers three years ago.

Boozer was a pretty good player paid like a very good one, and that didn’t endear him. We mostly remember him for accidentally punching a referee below the belt:

Painting on hair:

And yelling “and one!” after nearly every shot.

For a while, it seemed the 36-year-old Boozer wanted to play another NBA season. But he finally could no longer find a front office eager to pay him.

It’s only fitting that he was denied that last “and one!”

Nikola Mirotic, Bobby Portis still not talking off court

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The Bulls are 5-0 since Nikola Mirotic returned from an injury suffered when Bobby Portis punched him in the face during a preseason practice. Mirotic and Portis are both excelling individually, and Chicago has outscored opponents by a whopping 34.3 points per 100 possessions when those two share the court.

Jack Maloney of CBSSports.com:

When asked if the two former combatants have spoken yet, Mirotic said, “We did on the floor. We’ve always spoken because we need to have good communication.” As for whether they’ve talked off the floor, however, Mirotic was succinct in his response: “No.”

I guess Mirotic hasn’t completely moved on, though he said he did. But that’s fine. How could someone get past a teammate punching him in the face?

Importantly, this is becoming just a regular NBA problem. The extent of that practice punch was practically unprecedented. But plenty of players have loathed teammates while making it work on the court. That happens more than people realize.

Mirotic and Portis can make this their status quo – at least the on-court cooperation. I’m not convinced Chicago will keep winning like this.

Watch Kobe Bryant’s ‘Dear Basketball’ short film (video)

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Kobe Bryant announced his retirement in a letter called “Dear Basketball,” which was made into a short film.

Now, on the day the Lakers retire his Nos. 8 and 24, you can watch it. It’s quite beautiful: