NBA announces League Pass pricing for 2013-14 season

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There was a little bit of a rumbling (read: a mini-freakout) from a section of hardcore NBA fans on Tuesday, when a mass email was sent out from the league in error that announced a skyrocketing of the price to purchase League Pass for next season.

The service that allows access to watch all most regular season games either over the internet or through your local cable provider is essential to NBA junkies, and after the small amount of hysteria that went down in response to the emailed announcement, the league confirmed its pricing for the service for the 2013-14 season.

The Premium full season package that includes all teams will go for a $189 early bird price, and will be $199 after Nov. 5.

The 5-Team Choice Package (broadband only) is $129.99 early bird, and 139.99 after Nov.5 The mobile package to watch games live on your cell phone or tablet will be $49.99.

These prices are in line with what was charged last season, and it’s fair for the offering. There have been wide-ranging complaints about the quality of the service — games being “unavailable due to technical difficulties,” not every game being offered in HD 100 percent of the time, and shaky quality of broadcasts — but overall I found the service to be of more than serviceable quality the majority of the time.

My issues with League Pass are more about the games that you can’t watch via this service.

The limitations are extremely frustrating, and include the following:

Games televised on NBA TV are not included in League Pass broadband (i.e., NBA TV must be purchased through your cable operator in order to view these games): This doesn’t seem like a fair exclusion. If it’s NBA TV and I’m paying to watch NBA games, then those shown on this channel should be available through my League Pass broadband account.

Games televised on TNT, ESPN, or ABC are not included in the League Pass broadband package: This one doesn’t make sense, because if the games are offered technically for free over the air, I should be able to see them over the league’s broadband service as one of its paying customers.

League Pass broadband archives all games for later viewing, which is fantastic. However, the ones shown on the previously-mentioned networks aren’t included, and my local team’s games are both blacked out live and are not available via the archive service. As a journalist who attends my local team’s games in person (or is traveling to see games in other cities), if I forget to set the DVR for whatever channel the game where I live happens to be shown on, I’m unable to watch when I get home or the following day.

Of course, I understand why these restrictions are in place. The NBA is trying to get more people to watch its games on these networks that pay the league billions for broadcast rights, and isn’t trying to get fans to cut the cord with cable by offering its product by itself for a flat rate price.

(Full disclosure: I literally only turn on my television to watch live sports in real time. I would definitely drop my cable subscription if I could pay whatever to watch 100 percent of NBA games online.)

But if the NBA wanted to do right by its fans, it would find a way to distribute those dollars wherever they need to go behind the scenes, and provide the full compliment of its games to its customers for one flat rate, in one simple online solution.

Watch the Knicks and Lakers make every shot for 2 straight minutes of game clock

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Tuesday night’s game between the New York Knicks and Los Angeles Lakers was a good one, with the teams going-back-and-forth all night. In an OT game that came down to the wire, a sequence in the third quarter was perhaps indicative of the kind of contest it was in Madison Square Garden.

Starting with a little more than six minutes to go in the third the teams traded eight consecutive baskets while MSG rose to an accompanying fever pitch.

The whole sequence was pretty hilarious, and lent to that feeling you get sometimes while watching competitive NBA games of complete exhilaration.

Via Twitter:

The gap spanned from Kentavious Caldwell-Pope‘s missed 3-pointer with 6:21 left to Brook Lopez‘s missed shot with 3:51 to go.

New York wound up winning in OT, 113-109.

Joel Embiid says he thinks people are about to start hating him

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Philadelphia 76ers have been the Twitter darlings of the NBA for the past few years. Thanks to former general manager Sam Hinkie and the tanking process, guys like Joel Embiid have become even more admired now that the team is in the hunt for a playoff spot.

Of course, players like Embiid are part of the generation that is always online, and the fact that they play in the NBA doesn’t keep them from participating in social media with their contemporaries. Embiid has a great Twitter feed, and is often out on it trying to get dates from the likes of Rihanna while trolling other NBA stars on Instagram.

Of course, as we’ve seen with players in the past, good fortune does not always shine forever. Indeed, conscious of this fact, Embiid as much to ESPN’s Ramona Shelburne during a recent interview.

Via ESPN:

People love you at the beginning,” Embiid explains. “But at some point they’re gonna start hating you. LeBron. Russell Westbrook. All the superstars. Even Steph. He’s so likable. He does nothing wrong, but some people still hate him. It just comes with the nature of it. I’ve seen it.

“I feel like I’m about to go through it. I think it’s coming. People always want something new.”

The ups and downs of how NBA fandom changes the perception of certain players is fascinating, and some even try to directly manipulate that. And indeed, while Embiid is certainly hilarious on social media, the best thing to keep fans at bay will be him staying on the floor and playing games for the Sixers.

Let’s hope that keeps happening and nobody turns on him anytime soon.

Gregg Popovich says he was ‘guilty of over-coaching’ LaMarcus Aldridge

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LaMarcus Aldridge has been much better for the San Antonio Spurs this season. This comes after a tumultuous offseason in which it became clear that Aldridge was unhappy with his time in Texas.

That information came to light over the summer, and indeed both Aldridge and Spurs coach Gregg Popovich sat down to have a discussion to work out their differences in preparation for the upcoming season.

The results have been stupendous, with Aldridge playing better than ever in San Antonio despite the team lacking star Kawhi Leonard. Aldridge is averaging career highs in points per-100 possessions, which makes sense given his career-high 119 offensive rating.

Apparently part of Popovich’s change in dealing with Aldridge was how he coached him. Popovich told NBA.com recently that he made the mistake of over coaching Aldridge, saying that the veteran didn’t need as much guidance as young star players did when they came to him in the past.

Via NBA.com:

“We broke bread a few times, talked about it, laughed about it, discussed what we thought needed to happen, and frankly 95 percent of it fell on me because I made an error in trying to change him too much. That might sound odd, but he’d been in the league nine years and there’s one way he plays on the offensive end and feels comfortable with. I tried to turn him into Jack Sikma, told him I was going to teach you how to play on the elbow, go on the wing, face up. It was confusing for him. It really didn’t fit his style of play. I was guilty of over coaching in a sense.

“We came to an agreement on what had to happen. Well, on defense, I told him ‘I’m going to get on you like I do everyone else. But on offense, I don’t even want to talk to you. When they double you, kick it. Other than that, you be LaMarcus Aldridge.’ You see the result right now. He’s happy, confident and kicking everybody’s butt.”

Now that everything is sorted for the Spurs, we just have to watch out for them as they gain momentum heading into 2018. Leonard made his debut for the season on Tuesday night against the Dallas Mavericks, and as a publication time he had nine points in 10 minutes.

God help us if Gregg Popovich has finally found a way to make the mercurial LaMarcus Aldridge happy and pair him with a fully healthy Leonard.

Raptors’ Jonas Valanciunas offers advice to Ball brothers on Lithuania

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Lithuania is a hoops-mad country.

The Baltic nation has fewer people in it than the Seattle-Tacoma metropolitan area, yet it has three players in the NBA right now — Jonas Valanciunas, Donatas Motiejunas, and Mindaugas Kuzminskas — and has put 11 players in the league total (such as Zydrunas Ilgauskas, Arvydas Sabonis, and Sarunas Marciulionis). The country has won three bronze medals in the Olympics ( 1992, 1996, and 2000). It’s Lithuanian league also has been the launching pad for Celtics’ Aron Baynes to make the NBA.

Now the Ball brothers LiAngelo and LaMelo are headed there on professional contracts.

One of those players — the Raptors’ Valanciunas, had advice for the Ball brothers, speaking to ESPN.

“They’re getting themselves into a great opportunity. Lithuania is beautiful country… We have great basketball history. We’re such a small country, but we have many, many great players. Our basketball school is good., so they chose a really good school. They just gotta work hard — it’s all about working. You can be as good as you can be by working. Talent is one thing, but work you put in, that’s gonna show up.

“If they have any problems, let me know. I can help them out.”

Good luck finding anyone around the NBA who thinks this ends well, especially those who know the Ball family. They are sending a college freshman and a high school junior to a small city in a former Soviet bloc country with a very different culture, that will be a major adjustment. The coach doesn’t speak English and his former American players have not spoken highly of him. The Lithuanian league itself has men — far more physically developed than the Ball brothers — and is known for a physical style of play. It’s also known as a league where the players have a reasonably high hoops IQ and don’t like undisciplined players.

But if LiAngelo and LaMelo have any problems, they can call Valanciunas.