It’s been the barstool debate of the day around the NBA — who is on your Mt. Rushmore of the NBA?
LeBron James gave his (Magic Johnson, Larry Bird, Michael Jordan, Oscar Robertson) then awakened the legions that want to hate him by saying when his career was over his face should be on that mountain.
Stan Van Gundy says it already should be.
Like the rest of us, Van Gundy struggled to narrow it down to four when asked about it on the Amani and Eytan Show on NBC Sports Radio Tuesday night.
“Man, you’re talking four guys on Mount Rushmore. So, for me, I got Wilt Chamberlain and Oscar Robertson there for sure, Michael Jordan and, probably… yea, I’ll put LeBron there.
“Look, you could probably throw a lot of other names at me and I’d say ‘yea,’ it’s tough. Really it’s tough. How do you leave out Kareem Abdul-Jabbar? How do you leave out Magic Johnson? How do you leave out Larry Bird? How do you leave out Jerry West? We could go on and on, guys like Elgin Baylor, when you’re trying to get it to four guys it’s going to be hard. But on mine, yea, I’ll go with Wilt, Oscar, Michael Jordan and LeBron. That’s at least as good a four as anybody else is going to put up there.”
Here’s my question about the NBA’s Mount Rushmore: Does it have to be just players? If not, doesn’t David Stern or Red Auerbach get a spot for how they influenced and changed the game?
It’s hard to narrow the list down even if it is just players. Personally, I’d go with Magic, Jordan, Kareem and Bill Russell as players, but I’m not fully comfortable with that small a list. When it’s all said and done will LeBron be in that group? Maybe. He’s going to go down as the best athlete to ever play the game, but he’s in his prime now and we don’t know what the resume will look like when he hangs it up. A few years after he does, that’s when we can talk legacy with him.
Like I said, there are better reasons to criticize Phil Jackson than him saying his priority was the Knicks and that he had discussed trading Kristaps Porzingis.
Jay Williams of ESPN:
A top-15 draft pick told me the other day, because we were involved in this out of this conversation about Phil Jackson and the Knicks, and he said, “Phil Jackson was falling in and out of sleep in my workout.”
Yes. “Falling in and out of sleep at my workout.” This is what this guy told me.
Especially given Jackson’s salary and reputation for not being a diligent worker, this story is too good to check out.
The NBA’s invitations to the draft are a good indicator of when players will get drafted. The league samples executives, who are more likely to be honest here than in leaks to the media, about how they rank players. So, the list is worth monitoring.
The players who will attend tonight’s draft nearly match the leaks – with one exception. O.G. Anunoby is going, and Harry Giles isn’t.
Here are the players who will be at the draft – a reasonable placeholder for the players most likely to get picked in the top 20 – via A. Sherrod Blakely of CSN New England:
Jonathan Givony of DraftExpress:
Harry Giles declined his invite sources told DraftExpress.
Did Giles decline his invite because, with his extensive injury history, he feared falling too far? Or did he just prefer to watch elsewhere?
Was Anunoby simply 21st on the NBA’s list of players to invite? Or was the league too unsure of his medical status to include him until getting a stronger grasp now?
I don’t know, but the possibility that Giles could slip or Anunoby is more secure alters my perception of their draft stock (Anunoby up, Giles down).
What has Phil Jackson actually done? He discussed trading Kristaps Porzingis with other teams and called the Knicks, not Porzingis, his priority. That’s it.
At face value, this is fine. It’s what devoted executives, not always Jackson, should do.
Jackson hasn’t traded Porzingis for meager return. He hasn’t traded Porzingis at all.
Everyone up in arms should take a deep breath.
Adam Himmelsbach of The Boston Globe:
David Aldridge of NBA.com:
I wouldn’t rule out the Knicks trading Porzingis. The No. 1 pick got traded, after all. I wouldn’t rule out them trading Porzingis for too little return. Look at Jackson’s track record running the front office.
But wait until they do before bashing Jackson for not understanding Porzingis’ value.
There are plenty of better reasons to criticize Jackson, including overseeing the toxic culture that led to Porzingis skipping his exit interview and setting this latest “crisis” into motion. Publicly discussing trading Porzingis won’t endear Jackson to the budding star, but the problem is how it reached this point. Players in sound organizations can handle this. Jackson has engendered little confidence from his players, the distrust existed well before this round of trade talks.
Lonzo Ball doesn’t play for the Lakers. LeBron James isn’t a free agent.
But they’re headed that way – and Ball is already embracing it.
The Lakers are expected to draft Ball No. 2 tonight, and rumors are heating up about LeBron leaving the Cavaliers in 2018.
Why should LeBron join Ball in Los Angeles?
Ball on ESPN:
LeBron, I like to win. I know you like to win. I think our games can help each other out a lot. Any time you want the ball, just let me know. It’s going to be there.
Ball was asked to to pitch LeBron, so it’s not as if Ball is out here talking so brashly on his own. But answering the question was a rookie mistake.
Besides, I’m not sure Lonzo Ball can undo the bad blood between LeBron and LaVar Ball.