Friday And-1 Links: James Harden sued for allegedly punching a Lakers fan

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Here is our regular look around the NBA — links to stories worth reading and notes to check out (stuff that did not get its own post here at PBT) — done in bullet point form. 

• James Harden is being sued for allegedly punching a Lakers fan. First off, I know how annoying Lakers fans can be but you still can’t just haul off and slug them. It’s the law. Anyway, his alleged incident happened outside an LA nightclub when the Harden was in an SUV, rolled down the window to greet fans, the heckler says he yelled that Kobe owned him, so Harden punched the guy. There were no criminal charges, just a lawsuit from the alleged victim. Take this with a whole lot of salt, who knows what the reality is.

How little Div. III liberal arts school Pomona College came to rule the NBA — that is where Spurs coach Gregg Popovich, Hawks coach Mike Budenholzer and Grizzlies GM Jason Levien are from. So is Sports Illustrated’s Chris Ballard who wrote this story. So is my wife, who found me this story… but that’s not why I’m running it. Well, not the only reason. It’s a really good story.

Great bit of work by Tom Haberstroh at ESPN — while Andrea Bargnani’s shooting numbers are not terrible, the team’s defensive numbers and really just about every measurable stat falls off the chart when he is in the game. That includes Carmelo Anthony’s shooting — when Bargs is off the court Anthony shoots as well as he did last year.

• If you haven’t heard Brian Shaw tell the story of the car accident that changed his life, you need to.

• How the Memphis Grizzlies got their grit and grind back, via Sam Amick at the USA Today.

• There may soon be a new basketball league out there, made up of recently retired NBA players.

• Jerry West, in praise of Oscar Robertson.

• Danny Green loves snakes.

• Leandro Barbosa has signed to play in his native Brazil, but his deal does have an NBA out.

• Former players union head Billy Hunter used to invest union money with a company called Prim Capital, the owner of said company has now pled guilt to defrauding the union.

• The NBA is now partnered with Diageo — the makers of Ciroc and Crown Royal — for a sponsorship deal. So expect to see a lot more of those brands’ ads during games (among other places).

• The NBA is working in Nigeria with Hall of Famer Hakeem Olajuwon, as well as Africare and ExxonMobil, to create a program called “Power Forward” — a youth engagement initiative that will use basketball to develop health, leadership and life skills in Nigeria. Sounds like a good cause, I hope it finds success.

• If you ever wanted to own socks with images of Allen Iverson, Dominique Wilkins, Shawn Kemp, or  Anfernee Hardaway/Shaquille O’Neal on them, well, just follow this link.

Matt Barnes announces retirement from NBA after 15 seasons

Associated Press
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When too many fans think of Matt Barnes, they think of the guy who tried to fight Derek Fisher, the nightclub incident in New York, the guy who was a pest on the court and racked up more than his share of technicals and fines in a 15-year NBA career.

Ask Barnes former teammates about him, and they loved him — off the court and on. He was the quintessential guy you wanted on your team and hated to play against.

Barnes announced Monday on Instagram that his 15-year NBA run was over.

Barnes won an NBA title with the Warriors last season, and he played well for the team after signing in Golden State — Kevin Durant went down with a knee injury and Barnes stepped up his role and play. He earned that ring. However, this season there seemed to be no fit for him in the league.

Barnes was drafted in the second round out of UCLA by the Memphis Grizzlies and went on to play for nine teams during his career. He was the guy teams turned to for a spark off the bench — both because he could shoot the rock and because he played a fiery, emotional game. Barnes finished his career averaging 8.2 points and 4.6 rebounds per game.

I’m going to miss him. While he had a rough exterior and was plenty chippy on the court, off the court he was one of the more thoughtful basketball interviews out there — ask him about the game and he gave smart, calm, intelligent answers, not just clichés. He was active with charities and gave of his time and money, it wasn’t just a tax write off. I wish him the best and know he’ll enjoy life after basketball.

Shaq on free throws: ‘I told Rick Barry I’d rather shoot 0% than shoot underhand’

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Rick Barry famously made 90% of his free throws while shooting underhand.

Shaquille O’Neal infamously shot just 53% on his free throws, inspiring hack-a-Shaq.

Why didn’t Shaq use Barry’s technique?

Shaq, via Emmanuel Ocbazghi, Noah Friedman and Graham Flanagan of Business Insider:

Shaquille O’Neal: Because it’s boring.

Business Insider: But it’s been proven to be somewhat effective.

O’Neal: No, it’s not. It’s not proven. Just ’cause a couple guys did it doesn’t mean anybody can do it.

I told Rick Barry I’d rather shoot 0% than shoot underhand. I’m too cool for that.

O’Neal is somewhat trying to protect his larger-than-life, jokester image. But he’s also speaking to truth.

Barry would have been a good free-throw shooter overhand, too. Shooting underhand wasn’t necessarily going to fix Shaq’s problems at the line. Just because it worked for Barry doesn’t make it a “proven” technique.

Yet, every poor free-throw shooter – from Shaq to Andre Drummond to Andre Roberson – has been pestered about shooting underhand. It might be the right form for some players, but it’s no silver bullet.

Report: George Hill unhappy after Scott Perry promised him, Zach Randolph, Vince Carter that Kings would compete for playoffs

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After a recent Kings loss, George Hill tweeted:

Reading too much into vague tweets is often folly, but Hill hasn’t looked happy in Sacramento. Despite signing him, Zach Randolph and Vince Carter last summer, the Kings are 8-18.

Tony Jones of The Salt Lake Tribune:

These are vets brought in to help a young team, and according to sources, were brought in with the promise of a team aiming to be playoff competitive.

But that promise was made to them by Scott Perry, who since left Sacramento and now makes personnel decisions for the New York Knicks. So the direction of the franchise has shifted since Perry left. An organization that brought in veterans aiming to win now is aiming to lose.

Not surprisingly, Hill isn’t happy, according to multiple sources

The Kings aren’t bad because they shifted direction after Perry left for the Knicks. They’re bad because they lack talent.

This team was mostly assembled by the time Perry departed, and it looked lousy. To whatever degree Sacramento is emphasizing youth post-Perry – Garrett Temple, Randolph and Hill rank in the top four in minutes – the won-loss record wasn’t changing much.

If Hill, Randolph and Carter didn’t know that, they have nobody to blame but themselves. Smart veterans like them should have understood the bargain they accepted.

Hill ($40 million guaranteed over two years), Randolph (two years, $24 million) and Vince Carter (one year, $8 million) took the money. In exchange, they’re stuck on a bad team. And that’s fine. Many of us prioritize salary in career decisions.

But now they’re dealing with the downside of that arrangement – grinding through a long, losing season. It’s disingenuous to sulk and blame Perry (though, if Perry pledged a team realistically competing for the playoffs, he overpromised).

Unfortunately for everyone involved, Sacramento isn’t making rapid improvement overnight. So, something might have to give with Hill’s mood.

Tristan Thompson: Cavaliers’ stated 3-4-week timeline for my injury was never realistic

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When Tristan Thompson suffered a calf injury early last month, the Cavaliers announced he’d miss 3-4 weeks.

More than five weeks later, Thompson still hasn’t played.

Tom Withers of the Associated Press:

Thompson:

Who said that was the real timetable? They told you guys three to four weeks. That was never the case. The first week, I was on crutches the whole time. So, there was no chance. So, I don’t know. I don’t know who told you three to four weeks. For that, I’m sorry.

Thompson sounds close to returning, so this issue should pass. But teams are usually conservative in these estimates so as not to expose their players to criticism for not working hard enough in rehab. Thompson was left hung out to dry here.

Maybe Thompson, who’s famously low-maintenance, doesn’t mind. But if a 3-4-week timeline was never realistic, I wouldn’t blame him for resenting the Cavs.

Poor communication on injuries might not be limited to only the 76ers.