Nene does a lot for his native Brazil. He goes back every summer and donates both money and his time to charitable causes, when he retires he said he plans to return and work at a church down there.
But what he doesn’t do much is play for the Brazilian national team. He did it a couple times since he came to the NBA 11 years ago — including the 2012 Olympics in London, where he aggravated his plantar fasciitis, which lingered through last NBA season — but he’s had issues with the politics of the team as well as with the level of insurance covering the players.
When he returned with the Wizards for a game in Brazil, his country mates let them know he was frustrated — Nene got booed.
The Washington Post talked to Brazilian basketball legend and Hall of Famer Oscar Schmidt about it — and Schmidt sided with the fans (hat tip Eye on Basketball).
“That’s not my fault,” Schmidt said when asked about Nene’s reception. “Everybody knows what he’s done. If you don’t want to play for national team, don’t talk about your country. Ever.”
Nene didn’t seem bothered.
“I don’t have to defend myself because I didn’t steal, I didn’t kill and I didn’t rob.
“Sometimes people try to create a bad situation when one doesn’t exist, but I know everything was the best that could be done,” Nene continued, speaking through a Portuguese interpreter. “I’m here as an example. I know I’m a role model to many people. What I was able to conquer, the people can’t take away from me. That’s one of the reasons basketball has a problem developing in Brazil, but I’m sure that in the future it will be able to grow.”
What can we take away from this? Fans everywhere can show crazed nationalism and expect players to do anything to play for their country when most of those same people would do the exact same thing the player would in those shoes.
By the way, the Wizards lost the game to the Bulls 83-81. Derrick Rose did not play, which frustrated some Brazilian fans.
Paul George – who told the Pacers he’d leave in free agency, prompting them to trade him to the Thunder – expected boos in his return to Indiana.
Pacers fans delivered.
They’ve also booed him every time he has touched the ball, which will certainly persist.
WASHINGTON (AP) — Point guard John Wall was in the Washington Wizards’ lineup Wednesday night against the Memphis Grizzlies after missing nine games with a sore left knee.
Coach Scott Brooks said Wall would play in the mid-20-minute range, perhaps a bit more.
The Wizards (14-13), currently in first place in the Southeast Division, went 4-5 in Wall’s absence.
“He such a force offensively,” Brooks said of Wall. “He’s a two-way player and he’s one of the few guys in the league that can find open 3-point shooters going 100 miles an hour in transition.”
Wall, 27, is averaging 20.3 points and 9.2 assists per game.
Pacers general manager Kevin Pritchard was widely panned – including by me – for trading Paul George for Victor Oladipo and Domantas Sabonis.
Oladipo and Sabonis are killing it while George has underwhelmed.
Upon George’s return to Indiana, Pritchard took the opportunity to gloat. The Pacers general manager recently liked these tweets (hat tip: Matt Ellentuck of SB Nation):
This is petty – and I love it. Pritchard earned the victory lap.
Paul George has been pretty open about his plans.
He told plenty of people – including the Pacers – he planned to leave for the Lakers in the summer of 2018. Even after the Thunder traded for him, George spoke of the lure of playing for his hometown team.
Of course, George also left the door open to re-signing with Oklahoma City. He proclaimed he’d be dumb to leave if the Thunder reached the conference finals or upset the Warriors.
So far, Oklahoma City (12-14) doesn’t even look like a playoff lock, let alone a team capable of knocking off Golden State or reaching the conference finals. So, cue the inevitable speculation.
Sam Amick of USA Today:
Rival execs still expect Paul to head for the Lakers in free agency
Do these executives have inside information into George’s thinking, or are they just speculating based on already-available information? Some executives are incentivized to drum up the Lakers threat, because they want to trade for George themselves now. If these executives insist George will leave for Los Angeles regardless, they might pry him from Oklahoma City for less.
There’s also a theory George is hyping his desire to sign with the Lakers so a team would have to trade less for him. That got him to the Thunder for what looked like a meager return (but hasn’t been). It might get him to a more favorable situation before the trade deadline without hampering his next team long-term. Of course, this theory isn’t mutually exclusive with George actually signing in Los Angeles. It could just get him better options to choose from this summer.
Surely, the Thunder are trying to parse all this noise. If their season doesn’t turn around, they should explore flipping George rather than risk losing him for nothing next summer. But they should also be wary that he’ll bolt for Los Angeles at first opportunity just because rival executives predict it.