Hakeem Olajuwon regrets describing Dwight Howard as ‘raw’

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If there’s one thing we’ve learned about Dwight Howard the person through his last season in Orlando and during his ill-fated stint with the Lakers, it’s that he’s extremely sensitive to anything that can be perceived as negative that’s being said about him, in virtually any context.

Howard has been working out with Hakeem Olajuwon since joining the Rockets this summer, and Olajuwon at one point described Howard as still being a “very raw” talent.

That probably didn’t go over so well with Howard, despite Olajuwon, now a team employee in Houston, having no ill intent by delivering those comments.

Nevertheless, we can’t have the ultra-sensitive Howard being unhappy in Houston before he even plays his first regular season game there, so Olajuwon publicly went ahead and backpedaled from his initial assessment.

From Mark Berman of MyFoxHouston:

During the interview with FOX 26 Sports Olajuwon took time out to “correct” quotes that were recently attributed to him in a story where he reportedly said Howard is “raw.”

“That was insulting,” Olajuwon said. “The guy’s been in the league for 10 years. Every time I work with him, I see him train, I’m more impressed to see how much talent and how far he can take it.

“So how can you say that kind of player is raw. I was very upset because that was insulting to me and to Dwight.”

It’s unclear whether Olajuwon is upset with himself for making the comments, or if he’s disputing them entirely and is upset that they were wrongly attributed to him.

Either way, it’s not great press for Howard and the Rockets.

If Dwight remains so sensitive that he can’t read or hear honest assessments of where he is professionally from one of the game’s all-time greats — who, by the way, has been charged with trying to improve his game through coaching — then the Rockets will be no different than the Lakers or the Magic in terms of places where Howard is unhappy with how he’s publicly portrayed by those around him.

Now, Howard hasn’t said a word in response to Olajuwon’s initial remark, so this is (obviously) purely speculative. But there’s no reason for Olajuwon to backtrack on a relatively harmless comment like this unless he heard about it from someone — either in the Rockets front office, or from Howard himself.

Remembering Notre Dame, Laker legend Tommy “the hawk” Hawkins

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Tommy Hawkins passed away recently at the age of 80.

The former NBA player was the first black athlete to earn All-America honors in basketball at Notre Dame (he still holds the school’s total rebounds record), was drafted in the first round, and went on to have a 10-year NBA career playing for the Minneapolis/Los Angeles Lakers as well as the Cincinnati Royals. Los Angeles fans may also remember him as the long time director of communications for the Los Angeles Dodgers after his playing days ended.

The NBA put together this well done video look back at Hawkins’ career.

Celtics’ Brad Stevens said early September tests will show if Thomas ready for camp

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Isaiah Thomas said he expects to be ready for the Celtics’ training camp next month. The guard’s All-NBA season came to an early end in the playoffs when he aggravated a labral tear in his right hip initially suffered back in March. At least the injury did not require surgery.

Players are also about the worst judges of when they will recover from an injury. They pretty much all think they are invincible and will be healthy faster than doctors predict.

Coaches tend to be more pragmatic. Take Boston’s Brad Stevens, who told Chris Mannix on The Vertical Podcast that tests in a couple of weeks will show if Thomas is ready for camp.

“He has another follow-up and another scan in the early part of September. Obviously, it’s been a lot of appropriate rest, a lot of rehab. There have been some good strides here certainly in the last month or few weeks, but we’re not going to know that until after that early September timeframe.”

The Celtics are understandably going to be cautious with Thomas, while Thomas wants to prove he is healthy and has no ill effects from the injury as he enters a contract year (one where he expects to get PAID). Also, the Celtics could use him in camp as they start to figure out how he and Gordon Hayward can share playmaking duties.

Still, from the outset, the timelines have suggested he should be ready for camp in late September. Coaches are just cautious on these things by nature.

Allen Iverson predicts LeBron James will win MVP

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LeBron James has four NBA MVP trophies in his case. (Does he keep that case in his home in Akron or the one in Los Angeles… that’s a question for another day.) Only Kareem Abdul-Jabbar (six) and Michael Jordan (five) have more.

Could LeBron James add a fifth to his case this season?

Allen Iverson said yes at last weekend’s Big3 playoffs in Seattle.

LeBron was fourth in preseason odds to win the MVP at 15/2, behind Russell Westbrook, Kevin Durant, and Kawhi Leonard.

To me, LeBron could be a good bet. If/when Kyrie Irving is traded, the chances of LeBron getting the MVP go up. If LeBron puts up impressive numbers (again) and leads a depleted Cavaliers team to a top two seed in the East, he is certainly going to be in consideration. And should be.

It’s a long season, and personally, I think you need to get midway through the season before seriously considering the year-end awards. But history says LeBron will be in the mix, and Allen Iverson could be proven prophetic.

Phoenix Suns with quality solar eclipse joke on Twitter

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With the cooler-than-I-expected solar eclipse on Monday came a lot of bad solar eclipse jokes on Twitter. Because that’s what Twitter does. Especially the NBA Twitterverse. We knew a lot of “where on the flat earth will Kyrie Irving watch the eclipse?” jokes were coming.

There were a couple of good ones, however.

Appropriately, the Phoenix Suns won the day.

One personal favorite here, an old meme that never goes out of style.