When team USA scrimmaged this summer, Kobe Bryant often lined up opposite Russell Westbrook to guard him. To challenge him. And in vintage Kobe fashion, he talked a lot of smack.
Did you watch the first half of the Lakers loss to the Thunder Friday night? When Westbrook went off for 27 points and hit five three pointers in the first 24 minutes? Think he was a little fired up? Combine that with Westbrook being covered by Chris Duhon and you have a point explosion.
Ric Bucher of CSNBayArea.com says both Westbrook and Kevin Durant have a little extra motivation against the Lakers because Kobe wouldn’t stop talking during the Olympics.
…source says the Black Mamba talked relentless smack during the Olympics that the Thunder stars weren’t going back to the Finals after the Lakers acquired Steve Nash and then added Dwight Howard right before the U.S. played Spain for the gold medal. Kobe also made a point of guarding Westbrook during practices and pumping him up, the theory being that he wanted to incite Russ to bump heads with KD over who the team’s best player is. (If you think that’s too conspiratorial to be real, you don’t know Kobe.) KD, in particular, got tired of hearing him. For what it’s worth: KD and Westbrook’s combined 69 points is the highest single-game total they’ve posted this season.
I’d take this with a little salt. Durant and Westbrook were fired up to play the Lakers and lately the Lakers defense looks like it consists of cardboard cutouts of the players. They were likely to have a big night no matter what.
But is it really hard to picture Kobe pushing and pushing and the more mild-mannered Durant getting peeved?
I bet Kobe wasn’t talking much Friday night. He’s got his own problems to worry about right now.
Nothing is crazy in the world of sports, especially not traditions where you literally raise your pet cat above your head every time the Philadelphia 76ers win a basketball game. Nope. Not crazy. It’s simply part of #RaiseTheCat, a social media trend that has taken over Sixers Twitter.
It all started when 76ers rookie Ben Simmons shared pictures of his two Savannah cats on Instagram. They are gorgeous, expensive hybrid animals, and you know the Internet loves them a good ol’ cat.
Philadelphia has gone 8-2 over their last 10 games, and one Sixers fan decided to start a social media wave of his own after each W way back near the start of the season.
With the Sixers winning more games, there’s been more photos of cats to go around.
The trend has finally caught on, with other Sixers fans using the hashtag to proclaim their jubilee after the team wins.
And of course, Simmons himself had to finally join in:
I love Basketball Twitter.
(h/t SB Nation)
INDEPENDENCE, Ohio (AP) LeBron James says Gregg Popovich taking over as coach of the U.S. Olympic team will be a factor in whether he plays in the 2020 Tokyo Games.
James has won two Olympic gold medals, but he skipped last summer’s Rio de Janeiro Games to get rest after leading the Cleveland Cavaliers to an NBA championship. On Saturday, James said Popovich “factors a lot” in his plans going forward with the U.S. team.
James was asked about Popovich, San Antonio’s longtime coach, before the Cavs hosted the Spurs.
James considers “Pop” the greatest coach in NBA history and called him a “great mastermind of the game of basketball.”
Popovich is replacing Duke coach Mike Krzyzewski, who led the U.S. team to three consecutive gold medals.
It was rumored this week that the Detroit Pistons and Minnesota Timberwolves were mulling a trade that would send Ricky Rubio to Michigan and Reggie Jackson to Minnesota. Now, Pistons head coach Stan Van Gundy says that isn’t happening.
Nor was it a real offer that was even on the table.
In a video posted to the Detroit Free Press, Van Gundy went off on one of his classic fireside chats — the kind that involves profanity — on how he sees the NBA as it works.
Warning: NSFW language ahead.
While the whole thing is worth watching for the Van Gundyness of it all, here’s the meat you’re looking for:
All these rumors and stuff look I mean know it’s fun for everybody and you’ve got some source somewhere and it’s also all bullshit. Im not denying that discussion — they take place all the time – -that’s a lot different than considerations. Somebody says ‘Hey would you consider Ricky Rubio for Reggie Jackson that discussion might have taken pace. And clearly we didn’t make that move. We wanted to see if they’d go [Michael] Gbinije for LeBron.
Van Gundy said he didn’t know if the specific Jackson-for-Rubio discussion even happened, saying that Pistons president Jeff Bower only brings him trades they are actively considering.
Meanwhile, Van Gundy confirmed that he did text Jackson after his agent made contact with Bower.
“This is the crazy season. We’re not trading you for Ricky Rubio,” said Van Gundy about his text to Jackson.
The NBA league office fined Washington Wizards assistant coach Sidney Lowe $5,000 — and the team an additional $15,000 — for his role in distracting a New York Knicks shooter during a game this last week.
Now, the league has issued a warning to teams: make sure you’re practicing good bench etiquette, or we’re coming for your wallets.
According to ESPN’s Zach Lowe, the NBA sent a memo to all 30 teams on Saturday reminding them to remain on their own bench in accordance with league rules. Obviously that means no stepping onto active basketball courts:
So what are coaches needing to confine themselves to?
Official NBA rules state simply:
The coach’s position may be on or off the bench from the substitution box line (closest to the coach’s bench) to the baseline. A coach is not permitted to cross the midcourt line and violators will be assessed an unsportsmanlike technical foul immediately. All assistants and trainers must remain on the bench. Coaches and trainers are not permitted to go to the scorer’s table, for any reason, except during a dead ball.
Like we see with preseason points of emphasis, it’s possible we see additional fines in the weeks to come. Several coaches enjoy toeing the line (literally) to see what they can get away with and how far out on the court they can stand. Tom Thibodeau immediately springs to mind.
Or, it could go the other direction. Perhaps we see more coaches sitting back, respecting their distance?
Hopefully we just don’t see any more of them trying to close out on opposing shooters.