Nike Basketball unveils All-Star edition shoes for LeBron, Kobe, and Kevin Durant (PHOTOS)

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Nike Basketball unveiled the All-Star editions of the signature shoes for LeBron James, Kobe Bryant, and Kevin Durant earlier this week, and the style and color choices will undoubtedly be coveted by sneaker collectors worldwide.

While they’re not quite as amazing as last year’s Galaxy collection, there’s still plenty to like about the 2013 versions that the players will wear during the NBA’s star-studded midseason exhibition.

From the official release:

“The mission control center in Texas, widely know by its radio call sign “Houston,” provides the creative inspiration for a special collection of shoes for Nike Basketball’s fearless leaders LeBron James, Kobe Bryant and Kevin Durant.

“Space exploration defies practical reality. To launch into space on a mission to reveal the unknown can be mind-boggling.  Extraterrestrial species, undiscovered planets, new constellations – there is no limit to the potential for discovery. These unlimited barriers also apply to Nike Basketball’s design philosophy- – no limits, no restrictions, rooted in exploration and discovery.”

LEBRON X

“An indestructible force originating from fictional Nike Space Program (NSP) planet NSP-LJ6, LeBron James’ dominance was born from the volcanic surface in the planet’s mantle. He is rumored to have journeyed to earth on a meteor made of the galaxy’s hardest substance – black diamonds.

“Technical benefits of the LEBRON X shoe include full-length visible Nike Zoom cushioning, dynamic Flywire technology and Hyperfuse construction — a trilogy set to unleash its fury in Houston.”

KOBE 8 SYSTEM

“Engineered to the specifications of Kobe Bryant’s Houston mission, with origins rooted on a planet marked as NSP-KB24. The Ice Mamba circles the volatile surface as guardian of the five rings. The wise veteran is known to strike with moves that leave his opponents frozen.

“Built for Bryant’s lightning speed and precision, the KOBE 8 SYSTEM shoe is Nike+ Basketball enabled for the first time and this shoe also features Nike Zoom in the midsole insert. Nike Engineered Mesh upper and tactile traction complete the shoe.”

KD V

“Identified as Dark Matter, the biological and molecular breakdown of this figure remains a puzzle for scientists. Early readings of its origin, NSP-KD35, have sent back conflicting reports of a planet that is simultaneously solid, liquid, and gas – properties that make his game adaptable to any situation.

“Joining with Bryant for their quest to lead the West to victory, this KD V shoe is designed to the specifications of Kevin Durant’s Houston mission. The KD V features the combination of Nike Zoom (forefoot) and Nike Air (heel) cushioning along with Hyperfuse upper and dynamic heel support.”

Check out the photos below, and let us know which is your favorite in the comments.


Nike Basketball 2013 All-Star collection

Knicks’ Joakim Noah has expected shoulder surgery to repair rotator cuff

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NEW YORK (AP) — Knicks center Joakim Noah has had right shoulder surgery to repair his rotator cuff, a procedure that could sideline him until training camp.

The Knicks say Noah had the surgery Wednesday at the Hospital for Special Surgery in New York, performed by Dr. David Altchek.

The team didn’t give a timetable for Noah’s recovery, but coach Jeff Hornacek said late in the season that if Noah had the operation, the recovery time could be five months.

Noah had an injury-plagued season that ended early when he was suspended 20 games by the NBA for violating the league’s anti-drug policy. There are still 12 games remaining on the penalty that he will have to serve next season when healthy.

Noah had surgery on his other shoulder last season, limiting him to 29 games in his final season in Chicago before signing a four-year, $72 million deal with New York.

PBT Extra: Pacers offseason moves starts with Paul George question

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Larry Bird, when not delivering All-Star Game bids, should be spending his time lighting candles and praying in churches all over Indianapolis that Paul George makes an All-NBA team.

If PG13 makes the cut, Bird’s job this summer becomes more clear: Offer George the designated player max extension, get him to sign the deal, then get back to building a contender around him.

If George doesn’t make the cut, things get much tougher for Bird. I discuss all of it in this new PBT Extra.

Fans to vote on “Best Dunk,” “Best Assist,” other categories handed out at NBA Awards show

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Fans are going to get their say at the NBA Awards Show, coming June 26 on TNT. Drake will be the host, and we to come up with an under/over on the number of players Drake gives a bro hug to during the ceremony.

That’s the night the NBA will hand out its Most Valuable Player, Rookie of the Year, Coach of the Year, and every other major postseason award — except for All-NBA Team, which has to come earlier. The media have already cast their votes for these awards.

Where the fans get to come in is the fun awards, categories created just for this event:

• Dunk of the Year
• Best Style
• Block of the Year
• Assist of the Year
• Game Winner of the Year
• Top Performance of the Year

The NBA already narrowed down the list of choices for each category to three, and voting opens tonight. Just go to  www.nba.com/nbaawards and cast your ballot, or on Twitter or Facebook just post the #AwardName and First/Last Name of their winner (for example, #DunkOfTheYear  Larry Nance).

These awards should add some energy — and good highlights — to what has the potential to be a stuffy event. It’s a bunch of NBA players in suits in a ballroom in New York, this is going to feel like a branding event at times. The NBA is hoping the fans can liven it up.

Here are the categories, with the hashtags for voting:

#DunkOfTheYear
• Los Angeles Lakers’ Larry Nance, Jr. vs. Brooklyn

• Minnesota’s Zach LaVine vs. Phoenix

• Oklahoma City’s Victor Oladipo vs. Atlanta

#BestStyle
• Cleveland’s Iman Shumpert
• Chicago’s Dwyane Wade
• Oklahoma City’s Russell Westbrook

#BlockOfTheYear
• San Antonio’s Kawhi Leonard vs. Houston
• New York’s Kristaps Porzingis vs. Brooklyn
• Miami’s Hassan Whiteside vs. Toronto

#GameWinnerOfTheYear
• Cleveland’s Kyrie Irving vs. Golden State
• Oklahoma City’s Russell Westbrook vs. Denver
• Phoenix’s Tyler Ulis vs. Boston

#TopPerformanceOfTheYear
• Phoenix’s Devin Booker 70-point game vs. Boston
• Houston’s James Harden nets 53-16-17 triple double vs. New York
• Golden State’s Klay Thompson scores 60 in three quarters vs. Indiana
• Oklahoma City’s Russell Westbrook with most points in a triple-double, 57-13-11, vs. Orlando

#AssistOfTheYear
• Golden State’s Draymond Green to Stephen Curry to Kevin Durant
• Denver’s Nikola Jokic with no-look pass
• LA Clippers’ Chris Paul with wraparound pass

Report: USC’s Elijah Stewart intended to declare for NBA draft, forgot

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Declaring for the NBA draft is like declaring bankruptcy: You can’t just bellow it and expect it to take effect. You actually have to fill out the paperwork.

That’s why USC’s Elijah Stewart wasn’t among the 192 early entrants to the 2017 NBA draft.

Jonathan Givony of DraftExpress:

Stewart:

Givony’s report will do little but embarrass Stewart. It’s unlikely Stewart would’ve been drafted, and he likely would have withdrawn to return to USC for his senior season. Perhaps, he would’ve gotten helpful feedback from the NBA before that point, but that’s minimal.

The real problem, though, isn’t Stewart’s inattentiveness, to whatever extent is exists. It’s that the NCAA won’t allow players to maintain eligibility while having an agent.

If Stewart had proper representation, there’d be no questioning whether he intended to declare for the draft. His agent would’ve handled it, one way or the other.

If the NCAA were truly about educating players, it’d allow them to have guidance from experienced professional agents. Agents don’t have to conflict with amateurism (not that amateurism is a worthy goal, anyway).

But teaching players is not the NCAA’s true goal. The NCAA prioritizes keeping its cartel in tact and money flowing to coaches and administrators.

Agents might steer players from that corrupt system entirely or at least help them leverage their immense power to gain better compensation than a wage-fixed scholarship.

This incident should spark discussion about the unseemly lengths the NCAA goes to to protect its money-makers from its revenue-generators. Instead, it’s much easier to make Stewart a punchline.