Chauncey Billups: Joe Dumars apologized to me

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Chauncey Billups and Joe Dumars had a falling out after the latter traded the former to the Nuggets in 2008.

Billups wanted to retire in Detroit, and though his hometown Nuggets weren’t a completely undesirable destination, he just signed a long-term extension with the Pistons.

But those ingredients alone don’t warrant bitterness. Players getting traded is part of the business. Billups, whose ambitions include becoming a general manager, should understand that.

So, it’s still not clear exactly what contributed to the rift, but Tom Friend of ESPN provides some clues:

Though he has been traded three times before, it still stings. At the team hotel, on Nov. 2, Dumars and the coaches are staying right down the hall from him, but no one invites him down for a goodbye chat. Then, on the morning of Nov. 3, before the shootaround, it becomes official: Chauncey to Denver.

He’s going home again, but he calls Piper and tells her it feels bittersweet. “I’ve been through some dark alleys with them dudes, man,” he tells her. “They’re my brothers.”

He begins packing at the team hotel, when there’s a knock on the door. It’s Hamilton and Prince, the trio together one last time. They embrace, cry, laugh and reminisce. They call Ben Wallace, a Cavalier now, and put him on speaker phone. Wallace tells them, “I told you how they are.”

For what it’s worth, Ben Wallace returned to the Pistons after that. Billups and Dumars reconciled at some point in 2012 or earlier, too. Their relationship further healed when Dumars signed Billups earlier this month.

Billups on Dumars, via Vincent Goodwill of The Detroit News:

“I just needed to hear him apologize for how it went down, to kind of stand on it, and he did that,” Billups said. “As a man, I can’t do anything but respect that.

“Because I had to know it was nothing personal, it was what he thought was a good business move. But we had a personal relationship. I forgave Joe for all of that and we moved forward. I’m great.”

This is a side of Dumars that Pistons fans haven’t really seen. As the Pistons have struggled through five straight losing seasons, Dumars has mostly remained in the shadows.

That might be the best course of action for someone who wants to avoid the spotlight – and Dumars, who built the 2004 championship team, certainly doesn’t owe any fans an apology – but Dumars’ approach also leaves fans feeling disconnected. A little forthrightness with the public could go a long way in repairing the Pistons’ reputation in an area where people have limited disposable income and other options how to spend it, just as it helped repair Dumars’ relationship with Billups.

Dumars has made mistakes, with Billups and with building a winning team. Billups appreciated Dumars admitting that, and fans would, too.

Of course, more than anything else, fans would appreciate a winner. Maybe Billups’ arrival will help the Pistons become one, and then nobody would mind Dumars remaining behind the scenes.

LeBron James once saved someone while snorkeling with Dwyane Wade

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LeBron James is one of those guys who seems like he can do it all. He’s been league champion, league MVP, and Finals MVP. He’s an international marketing icon. He’s the best basketball player of a generation.

Apparently, he can also save people from the water like a dang superhero.

The recent article published on Vogue about James and his wife Savannah, the author shared a story told to him by Gabrielle Union, actress and wife of Dwyane Wade.

As Union tells the story, during a snorkeling trip in the Bahamas, Lebron noticed one person wasn’t back in the boat at the end of the session.

He then leapt in to bring them back.

Via Vogue:

As I prepare to say goodbye, I am reminded of a story Gabrielle Union told me about LeBron. Union and her husband, Dwyane Wade, with other friends and athletes, were out snorkeling in the Bahamas a few years back. Some, including Wade, were ocean-shy, city-born and not as strong at swimming as LeBron. (“LeBron, it turns out, is Aquaman!” Union says.) Eventually, the group got out in the water, though at the end of the swim, when everyone was back in the boat, LeBron took a count and noticed a man missing, immediately diving back in. “He literally brings our friend back, like something out of an episode of Baywatch,” Union says. “Because he’s that guy, and when you see that, you know he is not going to leave these at-risk kids behind or an NBA player snorkeling. He’s that guy who dives in.”

Lebron James: that dude.

Watch the 10 best plays from Andrew Wiggins’ 2016-17 season (VIDEO)

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This upcoming season will be a huge test for Minnesota Timberwolves guard Andrew Wiggins.

After a couple years of steady improvement, it appeared that Wiggins started to level off in his third season. Yes, he increased his 3-point shooting percentage but dips in his free-throw rate and VORP were a tad disappointing considering his usage even as he contributed more points per-game. Many in Minnesota expected him to be a superstar, and now it’s possible he ends up simply as a perennial rotation guy.

Still, the new season for the Timberwolves should be pretty interesting as they have added new pieces to the roster, including former Chicago Bulls star Jimmy Butler.

The video above includes 10 of Wiggins’s best plays from the 2016-17 NBA season. Hopefully Wiggins will be able to build on this type of play as the roster around him and gets better and expectations rise.

Report: Clippers to offer GM job to Thunder assistant Michael Winger

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Doc Rivers no longer has the hammer on trades and player moves in Los Angeles, that has been wisely handed over to Lawrence Frank, the team’s new president of basketball operations. He has Jerry West as a consultant — who will have the owner’s ear — working with him.

Frank now has a new right-hand guy, one of the better respected, up-and-coming front office people in the league, reports Adrian Wojnarowski of ESPN.

The LA Clippers have offered Oklahoma City Thunder executive Michael Winger its general manager’s job, league sources told ESPN. A deal could be finalized soon, league sources said…

Winger, 37, has spent the past seven years with Oklahoma City, working closely with Executive Vice President and GM Sam Presti.

ESPN’s Thunder reporter Royce Young chipped in with this.

This is a good hire by the Clippers, bringing a smart young executive from a well-respected organization into the fold to help energize their front office.

This past summer the Clippers lost Chris Paul (traded to Houston, because he was leaving as a free agent otherwise), locked up Blake Griffin long-term, and now have to decide on a future direction. DeAndre Jordan has a player option next summer, do the Clippers want to max him out or move another direction? The Clippers need to inject some younger, more athletic players into their roster and move out of the win-now, trade youth for vets mode Rivers had them in. The Clippers have done a poor job developing young talent and using that to supplement their stars (something teams like the Warriors and Spurs have done well over the years).

Winger should help change that dynamic.

LeBron James’ best play from every game in 2016-17 (VIDEO)

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I’m not sure it’s possible to argue that LeBron James is not the most important player in the NBA, even in 2016-17.

Yes, others have won the MVP award in years past, but each and every postseason you understand just how important LeBron is to every roster he is on. NBA players even voted him as the player they would most secretly want on their team.

That’s why it’s pretty easy to galvanize that opinion when you watch a 20-minute highlight video of LeBron’s best plays from each game of the past season.

Summer is upon us and even preseason seems like a long way off. Thankfully, we will be able to get to see plays like this here in what feels like the near future.