Rodman being basketball ambassador to North Korea barely makes his craziest Top 10

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Dennis Rodman — Hall of Fame basketball player and Hall of Fame wild personality — is back in the news. Actually, I’m not sure the legendary Piston and Bull (among others) was really ever out of the news. But he’s making headlines again as he is in North Korea?

For fun, let’s take a look at Rodman’s 10 craziest moments (or the ones I picked out of hundreds of options, anyway).

10. Dennis Rodman goes to North Korea as a basketball ambassador. Rodman in a country testing nuclear weapon missiles, I don’t see what could possibly go wrong. This is happening right now, in 2013, as Rodman is there with three Harlem Globetrotters as basketball ambassadors. The idea is to break down barriers by having Rodman teach basketball clinics and play some pick-up games with the North Koreans. All for a Vice Media production to air on HBO in early April. Again, I can’t imagine this going poorly.

9. The movie “Double Team.” If you’ve never seen Rodman’s 1999 action movie with Jean-Claude Van Damme, do not rent it. Stay away. You can do anything short of taking up smoking with those two hours and your life will be better for it. Rodman did win a lot of awards for the film — it was a Razzies hit.

8. Rodman dresses in wedding gown so he can marry himself. To promote the book “Bad As I Wanna Be” Rodman said he was bisexual, dressed in a wedding gown at a book signing and said he was going to marry himself. He said he got $10 million for the book and the stunt, by the way, so think about what you would do for $10 million before casting blame here.

7. MTV’s “Rodman World Tour.” Back in 1996 MTV had this idea that having Dennis Rodman traveling the world and meeting other celebrities would make a great show (this was before MTV figured out it was cheaper and better television to just throw a few unknown a****** in a house together). The show was generally filled with awkward moments and meetings with the likes of Jay Leno, and Whoopi Goldberg.

6. Rodman kicks a photographer in the… groin. There are many moments of Dennis Rodman just losing it on the court, but this moment is one of the most famous and replayed.

5. Rodman dates Madonna. It was short lived, just a few glorious months in 1994, but this was the ultimate strange celebrity couple. It filled the tabloids and would have minted TMZ millions if it existed back then. Rodman said during their relationship Madonna wanted him to get her pregnant. I think we can all be thankful that didn’t work out.

4. Rodman enters the wrestling ring. Back in 1998 he joined Hulk Hogan and whoever else in the rogue New World Order where he wrestled against Karl Malone. Not surprisingly, Rodman was actually pretty good at the fake wrestling thing.

3. Rodman saying Larry Bird was overrated because he was white. This was early, pre-tats, Detroit Pistons Dennis Rodman saying what frankly to this day is strongly believed by some in the African-American community. Of course, Rodman said this after Bird’s Celtics just beat his Pistons in the 1987 playoffs. It’s also not true. Ask Magic Johnson about it. You don’t finish with career averages of 24 points, 10 rebounds and 6 assists per game with three rings and three MVPs because of the color of your skin.

2. Rodman headbutts a referee. Nope, you can’t do that. Rodman was with the Bulls in 1996 and was ejected late in the first quarter of a random regular season. And he snaps — he headbutts the referee, rips off his jersey, knocks over a Gatorade container then leaves. Best part of the video is the bemused Phil Jackson.

1. The night Rodman slept in a car in the Palace of Auburn Hills parking lot with a shotgun on his lap. That really happened and he discussed it in his book “Bad as I Want To Be.” Clearly Rodman was and is dealing with serious mental issues in his life and that leads to scary moments like this where he said he contemplated suicide. Rodman was rich and famous but said he felt empty inside. He didn’t kill himself, what he decided that night was he needed to stop being who other people wanted him to be. He was not going to be phony; he was going to be himself. And that led to a lot of the moments above, Rodman being Rodman.

James Harden helped recruit Lou Williams to Houston

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The Lakers had been shopping Lou Williams around in the run-up to the trade deadline, the only question was would they get a first-round pick for him. Rumors around the league say that Houston had offered them one weeks before, it was on the table, but the Jim Buss/Mitch Kupchak front office held their cards close and hoped a better deal would come through.

While all that was going on James Harden decided to ease the process and did a little recruiting calling up Williams, the sixth-man guard told Shams Charania of The Vertical at Yahoo Sports.

“When James called, he asked me if I was interested in playing with them,” Williams told The Vertical. “I told him that I loved the Lakers, but James and them have a group that fit my personality, fit how I play. He said he was going to make it happen.”

Williams then laughed, sitting on the edge of a visiting court following a recent practice. “I’ve heard that before, so I didn’t really put stock into it,” Williams told The Vertical. “I guess James did put the word in, and the team made it happen.”

We all know what happened, Jeanie Buss removed her brother and Kupchak a few days before the trade deadline, Magic Johnston stepped in, called around, and quickly pulled the trigger on a trade that sent Williams to Houston (the Lakers also got Corey Brewer). Williams has averaged 14.5 points per game and had some strong performances with the Rockets, although he’s still finding his groove with the team on the court. Still, he’s been an upgrade for the Rockets’ bench.

Harden knew he would be, so he did his part to make sure it happened.

Take a look back at just how great Shaq was with the Lakers (VIDEO)

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Shaquille O’Neal was as dominant a force as the NBA has ever seen.

His peak years came with the Lakers, when paired with Kobe Bryant one the court — and Phil Jackson manipulating both of them — they won three titles (and arguably would have had more if they stayed together). Those Lakers teams were one of the NBA’s great teams.

Friday night, the Lakers unveil Shaq’s statue at Staples Center. Take a look back at some of Shaq’s Lakers highlights.

 

Warriors’ Matt Barnes on facing Kings: ‘I’m trying to kill ’em’

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The Kings were very good to Matt Barnes.

They signed him to a two-year contract worth more than $12.5 million when it seemed he wouldn’t come close to that on the market. Then they waived him, allowing him to receive all his salary and escape basketball hell for the Warriors, who make him much happier.

Yet, he’s going into tonight’s Golden State-Sacramento game with an edge.

Connor Letourneau of the San Francisco Chronicle (hat tip: CSN Bay Area):

Matt Barnes holding a grudge? Why, I never.

Surging Heat have playoffs in sight after dreadful start

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MIAMI (AP) — They have won 24 times in their last 31 games. They put together the NBA’s longest winning streak this season, a 13-game run that was beyond surprising. They are on the cusp of doing something never accomplished in NBA history.

This Miami Heat comeback tale has been an epic one.

And now comes the toughest part – finishing the job.

None of the other 125 teams in NBA history who started 11-30 or worse made the NBA playoffs. The Heat, with 10 games left on their regular-season schedule, are in position to change that. They held the second-worst record in the league in mid-January, are tied with San Antonio for the best record since, and hold a one-game lead over Chicago and Detroit for the final Eastern Conference playoff spot entering Friday’s games.

“These guys want this so bad,” Heat coach Erik Spoelstra – a reluctant coach of the year candidate who cringes when players lobby on his behalf – said Thursday after a loss to the Toronto Raptors. “They want this opportunity to be in the playoffs. We’ve fought, scratched, done everything we possibly can to put ourselves into a position to fight for it.”

More fighting and scratching awaits.

Of Miami’s final 10 games, a stretch that starts Sunday in Boston, eight are against teams still battling for either a playoff spot or playoff positioning. The only two exceptions are a home-and-home next week with New York, which earlier this season was seven games ahead of the Heat in the standings and now are eight games behind Miami (35-37).

“We’ve dug ourselves out of a deep ditch,” Heat center and NBA rebounding leader Hassan Whiteside said.

True, but they’re not on firm playoff footing yet.

Under normal circumstances, Whiteside almost certainly would not have played Thursday. He needed 13 stitches to repair a cut in his right (shooting) hand on Tuesday, and a similar injury two years ago left him sidelined for three games.

Not only did he start Thursday, he led the Heat with 16 points and 14 rebounds. Afterward, he had icepacks strapped to both of his knees, covered his right hand in a clear plastic bag so the stitches wouldn’t get wet in the shower, and had his newly sprained left ankle wrapped.

“He’s a tough dude,” Heat point guard Goran Dragic said.

He hasn’t been the only one.

Factoring in that Chris Bosh‘s on-court tenure with the Heat was declared over when he failed a physical in September, Miami has had at least two players unavailable to play in every game this season because of health reasons. Since Jan. 1, it’s been at least three every game – and often more.

A huge blow came last week when shooting guard Dion Waiters sprained his left ankle. He’s at three missed games and counting, and the Heat offense has struggled since.

“This is that time of the year,” Spoelstra said. “Everybody is feeling it, so this is the mental toughness we have to get to.”

The Heat have no practice Friday, though most players will be in the training room for treatments. Practice resumes Saturday, preceding the flight to Boston. And then Sunday, the 10-game sprint to the finish begins.

“I want our guys to enjoy this,” Spoelstra said. “I don’t feel that we’re putting any undue pressure, but everybody will feel like when they lose that the world is collapsing. This playoff race is still going on. And I think we need a day to get away from it, to decompress and to get back to work on Saturday.”