Friday And-1 Links: Rajon Rondo is better on national television

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Here is our regular look around the NBA — links to stories worth reading and notes to check out (stuff that did not get its own post here at PBT) — done in bullet point form. Because bloggers love bullet points like I like a good IPA. Which is a lot.

• It’s not a myth — Rajon Rondo is verifiably statistically better on nationally televised games than others.

• Speaking of the Celtics, here is a great feature on D.J. White and his path to Boston and the NBA. Which is a heck of a trip.

• It’s not just the Celtics, there are a lot of green NBA St. Patrick’s Day jerseys. The Bulls one is cool. However, if you’re a Lakers fan and buy a green Lakers pullover you need help. And a lesson in history.

• In the first question of his chat, NBA CBA guru Larry Coon gives a great breakdown of teams options with Andrew Bynum. He said Bynum’s contract will be a real test of the new CBA — will a team give him a max deal despite concerns about his knees? I think the answer will be yes, but they can get protections. Coon lays one of those out that makes sense to me:

An Exhibit 3 (prior injury exclusion) that lets his team waive him if he’s unable to play as a result of his (specific) prior injuries. (This is what the T-Wolves have with Brandon Roy.)

• I’m going to be up front here — Adrian Dantley is one of my favorite all time NBA players. The 6’5″ guy who could post up long before some guys like MJ and Kobe made it trendy. Deadspin tells us he’s still working — as a crossing guard. No, not for the money (he has plenty of that still, the man is legendarily frugal) but because it helps cover his insurance. Which brings us to the question of why the league doesn’t have some sort of insurance for former players, but we don’t have time to discuss how that will never get approved even though it would be the right thing to do. Bottom line, Adrian Dantley is a crossing guard.

• Could Deron Williams make the Nets the best team in New York?

Sports fans get the worst tattoos.

• An interesting look at the 2008 Rockets team that won 22 games in a row. The other three teams to break that streak are the title teams of he 1971 Milwaukee Bucks and the 1972 Los Angeles Lakers. We’ll see with the Heat. But that Rockets team was just not that good and lost in the first round, they are the outlier.

Box Score Replay is a cool technology.

• You probably knew this, but Magic GM Rob Hennigan and OKC GM Sam Presti are tight.

• Some drat prospects you will not see in the NCAA Tournament, by ESPN’s Chad Ford (behind the ESPN pay wall).

• By the way, March Madness is hard on your company’s computer network.

• The Nets sent Tyshawn Taylor and Tornike Shengelia to the D-League.

• Finally, LeBron James threw down a few dunks pregame in Philadelphia (he slowed down on that since the silly controversy).

Damian Lillard dismisses playoff expectations as pressure, says it insults regular people

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The Portland Trail Blazers have had a disappointing season thus far. The team is just 34-38 before their game with the Los Angeles Lakers on Sunday, and they’re battling it out for the last spot in the Western Conference playoffs with the Denver Nuggets.

This comes as after expectations rose greatly following the 2015-16 campaign which saw the Blazers finish 44-38, good enough for the No. 5 spot in the West.

Portland has looked better after trading Mason Plumlee to Denver in exchange for Jusuf Nurkic, but it might be too little too late. Meanwhile, team leader Damian Lillard isn’t bowing to the idea that last season’s good fortune raised the bar so much that it put undue pressure on his team.

Speaking with Sporting News, Lillard said he thinks the idea is really more about pressure vs. challenges.

Via SN:

Pressure, nah. Fam, this is just playing ball. Pressure is the homeless man, who doesn’t know where his next meal is coming from. Pressure is the single mom, who is trying to scuffle and pay her rent. We get paid a lot of money to play a game. Don’t get me wrong — there are challenges. But to call it pressure is almost an insult to regular people.

Look at the Wizards, they were kind of on the same wave as us. Didn’t even make the playoffs while we did. Now this year they’re the second-best team in the East. The adversity made them better. It can make us better, too. What I come from and my background made me who I am. As comfortable as I am with the good times, I’m also comfortable in adversity. Yeah, I might feel some type of way when somebody comes for me or says my name. But when it’s all said and done, it ain’t gonna rock me.

This is interesting to hear an NBA player say out loud. One, because I’m not sure I entirely believe it. You can have pressure without it having to be something that threatens your overall wellbeing.

Then again, maybe we’re arguing linguistics here. There’s definitely a different emotion from, say, trying to make sure you make rent and aren’t evicted to the street vs. trying to make the NBA playoffs. If one emotion is being defined as pressure, it makes sense to call the other a challenge.

It’s also interesting to hear an NBA player speak in those kinds of terms. There are a few guys around the league who seem to be relatively grounded and give out quotes like this from time-to-time. The absurdity of the NBA — playing games, making millions, and having folks worship you — would easily bend reality for most of us.

In any case, the challenge of making the playoffs for Portland is not going to be an easy one to overcome. Going into Sunday’s matchup with the Lakers, the Trail Blazers are a game behind Denver for the final spot.

Portland will face Denver on Tuesday, March 28 in perhaps their most important game of the season.

Kobe Bryant’s “Musecage” is like if Sesame Street had an NBA film room (VIDEO)

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Kobe Bryant’s video “Musecage” aired on ESPN on Sunday, and it’s one of the craziest things I’ve watched on an NBA broadcast. That includes watching Kobe’s own alley-oop to Shaquille O’Neal in Game 7 of the 2000 Western Conference Finals.

Someone on Twitter called it a “drug-fueled Muppet nightmare” but that’s selling short how remarkable the video was. In it, Kobe delivered a message about finding motivation as a young basketball player alongside a talking “Lil’ Mamba” puppet.

But here’s where it gets good: this video was made true to Kobe’s own person. Despite the happy, glockenspiel-laden background music with puppet accompaniment, Kobe’s message in “Musecage” was to use the dark part of your psyche as motivation to conquer your enemies.

I’m dead serious.


It doesn’t get any more Kobe than that.

The first video ends with Kobe’s advice to Lil’ Mamba, who goes off to become strong by using the dark musings as his fuel. Meanwhile, the second video talks about — and I’m not kidding — tactics James Harden and Russell Westbrook use to defeat their opponents in the pick-and-roll.

It’s like if Sesame Street was also a film room session.

Needless to say, all 10 minutes of Musecage are incredible. I don’t mean that in any sarcastic way, either. Bryant has been working on his Canvas series for a while, and his message shines true to the person we’ve known for the last two decades.

Use your happy feelings to push yourself? No! Use self-doubt as a motivator to Jawface your way through to six championship rings.

He debuted the original episode on Christmas Day, and it too had a kid-friendly feel.

I literally cannot wait for the next edition in this series.

Mark Cuban on Blake Griffin’s fall vs. JJ Barea: “We sent flowers to his family, condolences”

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The Dallas Mavericks and Los Angeles Clippers got into a bit of a scuffle the other night during their game. Clippers big man Blake Griffn and Mavericks PG JJ Barea tussled, with Barea earning a Flagrant 2 and an ejection for putting his hands on Griffin’s neck and pushing him to the ground.

It really was a sight to see, whether Griffin flopped or not.

Meanwhile, Mavericks owner Mark Cuban was asked about the incident and responded with some heavy sarcasm that feels par for the course.

Via Twitter:

Griffin does have a bit of a reputation for acting and flopping, and Barea is hilariously undersized compared to him. Then again, the throat is a vulnerable area. Who knows if the fall was real or fake?

I’m just glad Cuban has a sense of humor about it.

Watch Derrick Rose leave Patty Mills standing still with eurostep, huge dunk

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New York Knicks point guard Derrick Rose still has some explosivity left in his legs. Against the San Antonio Spurs on Saturday night, the former MVP left Spurs guard Patty Mills standing still on a thunderous dunk.

The play came in the fourth quarter with Rose on the break and Mills the only Spurs player defending the basket. Rose had a full head of steam, and it appeared Mills was going to for the charge call.

Rose then craftily eurostepped his way around Mills, leading to the jam.

San Antonio beat New York, 106-98.