Nike unveils All-Star shoes for Kobe Bryant, Kevin Durant and LeBron James

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Nike Basketball unveiled its lineup of special edition colorways that LeBron James, Kevin Durant, and Kobe Bryant will be rocking for All-Star weekend in New Orleans. As always, the colors and patterns of the 2014 NOLA Gumbo League Collection were inspired by the city hosting the celebratory midseason exhibition.

From the official release:

“Nike Basketball is paying tribute to the unique flavor of New Orleans with the 2014 NOLA Gumbo League Collection, including three shoes: LEBRON 11, KOBE 9 Elite and KD VI.  A “gumbo” in the cultural sense, New Orleans is an eclectic mix of characters, music, cuisine and art.”

LEBRON 11 GATOR KING

source:

“Inspired by the fearsome alligator, the king of the bayou, the LEBRON 11 Gator King is a bold expression of royalty and power. Gators, often a symbol of protection in New Orleans culture, influence graphic textures throughout the shoe.  Invisible to the naked eye, hand-drawn patterns come to life as the Hyperposite bucket of the shoe glows in the dark. The musings of majestic color in deep purples, greens and gold are derived from the “Rex” – king of carnival celebrations.”

KOBE 9 ELITE MAESTRO

source: Reuters

“Nike Basketball pays tribute to the masters of Jazz in its birthplace.  Like great jazz musicians who play instinctively, Bryant brings a similar improvisation to his game. Paying homage to this classic genre and some of its greatest musicians, the KOBE 9 Elite Maestro uses accents of brass in the upper. A glow-in-the-dark outsole pops at night, just as the jazz clubs swing into action. The upper includes additional, secret glow-in-the-dark symbols.”

KD VI ILLUSION

source:

“Not everything is what it first appears to be in New Orleans.  Similarly, Durant defies the perception of a near seven-footer – an illusion of sorts.  His limitless scoring range is redefining the perception of a forward. Celebrating the magic of KD’s versatility, the KD VI Illusion showcases hand-drawn patterns on the upper emulating Durant’s fluidity on the court. A glow-in-the-dark outsole also represents the “spark” of KD’s game.”

All three models will be released at select retailers on Feb. 14. Check out the full gallery of images below, and let us know which is your favorite in the comments.


Nike Basketball 2014 All-Starslideshows

Suns GM Ryan McDonough: Eric Bledsoe hair-salon claim about tweet was unbelievable

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Eric Bledsoe reportedly requested a trade from the Suns before the season then tweeted yesterday:

Clear message?

Apparently not.

After sending home Bledsoe today, Suns general manager Ryan McDonough explained his rationale:

The hair salon! What a wonderful excuse.

Is it true? I’m not going to call Bledsoe a liar. It might be.

It’s also probably true that Bledsoe isn’t long for Phoenix.

Report: Suns send Eric Bledsoe home, expect to trade him

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In a shocking twist, the Suns firing Earl Watson did not end the dysfunction in Phoenix.

Chris Haynes of ESPN:

John Gambadoro of Arizona Sports 98.7:

Adrian Wojnarowski of ESPN:

Bledsoe:

That is a first-rate tweet by Bledsoe. It’s great that he’s having fun with the wild situation, because the rest of us sure are amused peering in.

This was always going to be a long season in Phoenix, but things got out of hand in a hurry. The 0-3 Suns have been outscored by 92 – the worst three-game start in NBA history by 16 points. Now, comes the fallout.

At 27, Bledsoe was getting to be a little too old for a rebuild centered on Devin Booker, Josh Jackson, Marquese Chriss, Dragan Bender and T.J. Warren. The Suns could have dealt Bledsoe in the offseason. Now, they’re negotiating from a position of weakness.

Bledsoe is a good starting point guard when healthy. He’s earning a reasonable $14.5 million this season and due $15 million in the final year of his contract next season. There should be suitors, and Phoenix can gain long-term assets while stepping up its tank.

But this sure seems like a crisis-control move more than anything else.

Willy Hernangomez ‘mad’ about falling from Knicks rotation

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Knicks president Steve Mills started his second tenure talking about rebuilding and listed Willy Hernangomez as a core piece.

But Hernangomez, coming off an All-Rookie first-team season, barely played in New York’s season-opening loss to the Thunder– drawing scrutiny.

Then, he didn’t play at all in a loss to the Pistons – eliciting a strong reaction from Hernangomez himself.

Hernangomez, via Fred Kerber of the New York Post:

“The same. I’m still mad,” Hernangomez said. “I cannot help the team win if I’m sitting on the bench. Two games in a row. It’s tough. I have to wait my moment. I cannot say nothing more.”

The Knicks are moving in different directions. Management is talking about building for the future. Coach Jeff Hornacek, who was hired by previous president Phil Jackson, is trying to win now.

There’s a fine line between developing Hernangomez through playing time and making him earn his minutes. Enes Kanter and Kyle O'Quinn might be better right now.

But being marginally better this season won’t get the Knicks anywhere meaningful except lower in the lottery. On the other hand, even on rebuilding teams, winning is most important to a coach’s job security. Earl Watson implemented the Suns’ tanking scheme, and look where that got him.

Hornacek is backed into a corner, and now one of the team’s most important young players is publicly expressing his displeasure. It’s the latest troubling sign in a locker room already suspicious of Hornacek.

Report: Eric Bledsoe requested trade from Suns before season

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Suns guard Eric Bledsoe tweeted yesterday:

In light of Phoenix’s 0-3 start and Earl Watson getting fired yesterday, that sure looks like a trade request. Still, there’s risk in making assumptions about vague tweets.

John Gambadoro of Arizona Sports 98.7:

Why wouldn’t Bledsoe want out? The 27-year-old is in his prime and stuck on a young team that would rather tank than play him.

It’ll be interesting to see how Bledsoe explains the tweet. He previously paid lip service to his situation in Phoenix, but it appears he’s ready to open up. On the other hand, public trade requests typically draw fines from the NBA.