Should you have to lead your team to victory to make it into our nightly three stars tribute?
I say no. But it helps. If you are someone like Carmelo Anthony on Wednesday with 31 points and 9 rebounds in a losing effort, you can still make the list. Well, he didn’t because I put a couple of guys who did get wins ahead of him. But you theoretically can make the cut. Also with good nights but not making the grade Wednesday were the Kevins —Garnett (27 points, 10 rebounds), and Durant (25 points, 7 rebounds). Guys just had bigger nights. Sorry. So here are the guys that made the cut tonight.
Third Star: O.J. Mayo(28 points, 5 assists)
O.J. Mayo was the model of efficiency in a quality win for Dallas over Portland — 28 points on 11-of-14 shooting, 3-of-4 from three and a +15 on the night. He did a lot of scoring damage in the first half — 20 of his points came before the break — but in the second half he did a good job of drawing the defenders and moving the ball to the open man. And for a night the Mayo/Dirk Nowitzki pick-and-roll was an impressive thing to see. That’s a took I expect to see Rick Carlisle go to more and more over the second half of the season.
Second Star: James Harden(36 points, 12 rebounds, 7 assists)
See, you can still make the top three if your team loses, you just have to put up some big numbers. James Harden did that and did it most when it counted — he had 16 points in the fourth quarter as he tried to lead the Rockets on a comeback. All game Harden pretty much did what he wanted, it just wasn’t enough as he didn’t get all the help he needed (no team shuts down Jeremy Lin quite like the Heat).
All those stats up there and we leave off blocks — Wade had two, including one on Harden with 11 seconds remaining to ice the game. Wade seems to get up for taking on the challenge of Harden (the heir apparent to Wade’s “best two guard” in the game mantle) and you saw it from the start when Wade had 11 points in the first quarter. Wade was attacking the rim — he got to the line 13 times — and of course it’s not a Heat game unless he goes Joe Flacco and hits LeBron James with a length-of-the-court pass.
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.
To avoid trash talk, Steven Adams told Kevin Garnett he didn’t speak English
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.
Steven Adams reflecting on Kevin Garnett's retirement. Said he pulled the "no English" card when KG tried to talk to him: pic.twitter.com/uUVgisG4vb
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.
“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.
Sunday is 16th anniversary of greatest dunk ever: Vince Carter over Frederic Weis
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.