Vince Carter taught Warriors rookie Harrison Barnes a bit of a lesson as the first half came to an end at Oracle Arena on Thursday, and we’re all a little better off because of it.
With the Mavericks playing for the last shot of the half as point guard Darren Collison dribbled down the clock at the top of the arc, Carter hung out in the corner, and appeared to be reaching down to check on an injury that may have occurred on a previous possession.
As it turned out, Carter was just fine.
Barnes checked on him a couple of times, but decided that Carter was indeed banged up and was going to sit this play out. So naturally, he went to help and double Elton Brand once he received the pass in the paint from Collison.
That’s when Carter made his move, cutting baseline and going up for the wide-open, two-handed slam dunk after receiving the perfect pass from Brand.
To be fair, Carter did appear to be in some pain, as evidenced by the fact that he made sure to come down gently from the rim before delivering his motorcycle-style celebration a little more softly than usual. But Barnes now knows that as long as a player remains on the court, he needs to be dealt with defensively — even if that player is acting like he’s too injured to participate.
Back in July during the pre-Olympics USA Camp in Las Vegas, I asked Kyrie Irving what had changed for him, what was different for him after winning an NBA title. His answer was about the doors it opened, the possibilities that suddenly felt available to him. A month after winning the title he still seemed a little overwhelmed by the experience, and he hadn’t fully processed it yet. Which is completely understandable.
“Yes, my life’s changed drastically,” Irving told cleveland.com Saturday, during Irving’s friendship walk and basketball challenge downtown for Best Buddies, Ohio — an organization that gives social growth and employment opportunities to people with intellectual and developmental disabilities.
“It’s kind of, you’re waiting for that validation from everyone, I guess, to be considered one of the top players in the league at the highest stage,” Irving said. “That kind of changed. I was just trying to earn everyone’s respect as much as I could.”
It’s amazing to think of the impact one shot — Irving’s three over Stephen Curry with 53 seconds left in Game 7 — can have. If he misses, there is less pressure on the Warriors to answer with a three, maybe they come down and get a bucket inside for two (one could argue they should have done that anyway rather than hunt for the three), from there maybe the Warriors win. If so, that could change everything from Kevin Durant‘s summer plans to what the Cavaliers’ roster looks like today — there’s a good chance Cleveland’s lineup would have changed if they lost to the Warriors two Finals in a row.
One shot can have that kind of impact on a player, too.
Kyrie Irving was one of the top five point guards in the NBA for a while, a score first guy but one who had some floor general in him and got some steals. A lot of time seemed to be spent focusing on his flaws defensively and passing. But with that shot, he feels validated. If he carries that confidence into next season, the Cavaliers just got better.
Check out top 50 plays from Kevin Garnett’s Hall of Fame career (VIDEO)
Now Kevin Garnett. The Hall of Fame class in five years is going to be stacked.
But before we move on from Garnett’s announcement this week that he is retiring after 21 years in the NBA, let’s look back at his greatest plays (compiled by the folks at NBA.com). Enjoy this for 11 minutes rather than watching your NFL fantasy team flounder. Again.
D’Angelo Russell said he used to play as Luke Walton on NBA 2K; Stephen Jackson calls that crap
“I told him I remember playing with him on (NBA) 2K; I used to always play as him. I’m a fan. I’m definitely a fan. Because he was a point forward. I can’t speak on Elgin Baylor and all those guys, but my era, I know he was a point forward.”
Really? NBA veteran and current analyst Stephen Jackson called Russell out on that.
I can get why Sixers management would want to bring a veteran and beloved, hard-working pro such as Ginobili in to lead and mentor a young team. Does Smith bring that same demeanor? I get that Smith in Cleveland has developed his game, and that he has matured and backed off his hard-partying ways (he gets a hall pass for the days after winning a championship), but is Smith the veteran you bring into a young locker room?
Can we move on from the ridiculous in Pennslyvania? Well, probably not until after the election, that is a battleground state.