Victor Oladipo shares joyous draft night with father

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NEW YORK – Victor Oladipo’s incredible rise, from a high school backup to the No. 2 pick in the NBA Draft, has come with a complicated relationship with his father in the backdrop.

Tonight, the father – who rarely, if at all, attended his son’s DeMatha High School games – came to the forefront.

“I tried to bring the whole DMV with me,” Oladipo said. “I got my sisters, my mom, my agent. And my father actually came today, which means a lot to me, as well. It was hard for him definitely to come to a lot of my games, but for him to be here tonight is an amazing feeling.”

Oladipo spoke about how his family once viewed his basketball playing as merely a hobby.

“I don’t even know if my family still knows what’s going on,” Oladipo said. “I know they’re happy. I know they’re happy for me.”

DeMatha basketball coach Mike Jones has always maintained Victor and Chris Oladipo share a loving relationship, but any outsider can see it sometimes shows in strange ways. Jones has been close to Oladipo – “the whole ‘earned, not given,’ he is the epitome of that,” Jones said – and spent the last 48 hours with the former Indiana star.

“I was joking earlier, I kind of felt like I got drafted too, ” Jones said.

It’s the type of joy Oladipo has shared with not only his immediate family, but his extended family like Jones and former Indiana teammate Cody Zeller, who was drafted by the Bobcats with the No. 4 pick, much higher than many expected.

“I’m not surprised he got picked where he got picked,” Oladipo said. “I was cheering just as loud as everybody else.”

On a night most draft picks look like they’ve reached a lifelong goal (because that’s usually the case), Oladipo carried himself with an extra outward happiness.

Jones, who learned Oladipo had a hidden talent the night of his senior-year banquet at DeMatha, thought Oladipo would even display it during his televised interview immediately after the Magic picked him.

“I totally thought he was going to break out into song,” Jones said. “And he would have had this whole place rocking  had he done that.”

Victor Oladipo’s practice dunk better than anything he – or maybe anyone – did in dunk contest (video)

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Victor Oladipo has grown into far more than just a dunker.

In fact, in Saturday’s dunk contest, he didn’t look like a dunker at all.

The Pacers star missed all three attempts of his first dunk, and a Black Panther mask was by far the biggest draw of his second. Oladipo was eliminated after the first round.

Maybe Dennis Smith Jr. wasn’t the only eliminated dunker who left something in his bag. This Oladipo dunk – 180 degrees, throwing ball off the backboard with his left hand while in mid-air, dunking with his right hand – while preparing in Los Angeles was awesome.

Larry Nance Jr. had the contest’s best dunk. This would have rivaled it.

Pelicans owner Tom Benson hospitalized with flu symptoms

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METAIRIE, La. (AP) — New Orleans Saints and Pelicans Owner Tom Benson has been hospitalized with flu symptoms.

A statement released Wednesday by the NFL and NBA clubs says their 90-year-old owner is resting comfortably at Ochsner Medical Center, a hospital which also serves as a major sponsor and which owns naming rights to the teams’ training headquarters.

Benson has owned the New Orleans Saints since 1985 and bought the New Orleans Pelicans in 2012.

In recent years, Benson has overhauled his estate plan so that his third wife, Gayle, would be first in line to inherit control of the two major professional franchises.

 

Report: Seattle hosting Kings-Warriors preseason game

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Kevin Durant spent his rookie season in Seattle, before the SuperSonics moved to Oklahoma City and became the Thunder. He has said Seattle fans deserved to see him grow up in the NBA after supporting his promising start.

They’ll get their chance.

Ailene Voisin of The Sacramento Bee:

The Kings and Golden State Warriors have scheduled a preseason game next season in Seattle, according to multiple league sources.

The Oct. 6 meeting between Northern California teams will be the first NBA game in the Key Arena since the Sonics moved to Oklahoma City after the 2007-08 season and became the Thunder.

This game will be loaded with storylines. Not only Durant, but the Kings considered moving to Seattle a few years ago. And of course, the return of NBA basketball to Seattle.

At some point, Seattle will get its own team again. For now, this preseason game creates intrigue there.

Report: Kawhi Leonard cleared medically, seeking second opinion

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Spurs coach Gregg Popovich said he’d be surprised if Kawhi Leonard played again this season, a stark reversal from just a month ago. Back then, even while announcing Leonard was out indefinitely with a quad injury, the San Antonio coach said Leonard wouldn’t miss the rest of the season.

What’s going on?

Adrian Wojnarowski of ESPN:

After spending 10 days before the All-Star break in New York consulting with a specialist to gather a second opinion on his right quad injury, All-NBA forward Kawhi Leonard bears the burden of determining when he’s prepared to play again, sources told ESPN.

Leonard has been medically cleared to return from the right quad tendinopathy injury, but since shutting down a nine-game return to the Spurs that ended Jan. 13, he has elected against returning to the active roster, sources said.

The uncertainty surrounding this season — and Leonard’s future which could include free agency in the summer of 2019 — has inspired a palpable stress around the organization, league sources said.

At first glance, this sounds like Derrick Rose five years ago. Even after he was cleared to play following a torn ACL, the then-Bulls star remained mysterious about when he’d suit up. His confidence in his physical abilities seemed to be a major issue, and he was never the same player since (suffering more leg injuries).

But the Spurs famously favor resting players to preserve long-term health. They seem unlikely to rush back Leonard. They might even sit players who want to play more often. And Leonard isn’t Rose.

Still, it’s clear something is amiss in San Antonio. Maybe not amiss enough to end Leonard’s tenure there, but the longer this lingers, the more time for tension to percolate.