After the Pacers took Game 2 from the Heat by defending well enough to get LeBron James to turn the ball over on consecutive possessions with the game on the line, Gorge Hill was asked if there was any player in the world more dangerous with the ball in that situation.
“Yeah, it’s only like one person that’s more scarier than that and that’s God,” Hill said. “I’m sure if we’re looking at him in the face, we would be very nervous. I’m sure he can make all the plays that we want people to make.”
James did turn in a somewhat otherworldly performance, shooting 70 percent from the field on the way to scoring 36 points, while pulling down eight rebounds and finishing with three assists and three steals. But he wasn’t buying into the hype, especially after costing his team a chance to win the game with miscues on those final couple of possessions.
“I’m nowhere near close,” James said. “I made two mistakes tonight. That hurt our team. And that hurt more than anything. Let my teammates down. They expect me to make plays down the stretch, and I had the ball with the opportunity to make a couple of plays and I came up short. That burns.
“But the best thing about it is this isn’t college. It’s not one loss and you’re done. I have another opportunity to get better in Game 3, and if I’m put in that position again, to be able to learn from it.”
The Pacers will fully expect James to be better than ever in Game 3, and to come out to try and do everything he can to make up for how this one ended. Despite his comments, Hill may not be in full idol-worship mode when playing against James. But he and his team are certainly very cautious in their approach in dealing with the one of the game’s best.
“LeBron is a great player,” Hill said. “He’s the MVP for a reason. “He’s one of the best that ever played this game. He’s a big focal point. We know that he’s up there probing the floor and looking at everything. We can’t just focus on him. We have to focus on the people around him, because he’s a great play‑maker. He has our full attention.”
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.
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.
Adams was lucky, KG had a reputation for going harder at foreign-born players with his trash talk and intimidation. Then again Adams is not the kind of guy prone to be intimidated.
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.
A couple of his Detroit players — Reggie Jackson and Marcus Morris — said they backed the 49ers quarterback. Here is what the never shy Van Gundy said about all of it, via Vincent Ellis of the Detroit Free Press.
“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.
It was the last game of the group stage of the 2000 Olympic basketball tournament at the Sydney Olympics, the USA was taking on France, another USA win on its way to another gold medal.
But what we all remember is this one play — Vince Carter dunking over the 7’2″ French center Frederic Weis.
Best. Dunk. Ever.
Weis was never the same.
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.
Hat tip to nitramy at NBA Reddit.