It seems almost too easy to link to a famous video clip of an NFL head coach mocking the very mention of the word playoffs, when his team was playing nowhere near a level that would suggest that as a possibility.
But that might have been a legitimate reaction for some when hearing the news that the Lakers — yes, the same team that has had a season so disastrous that the word catastrophic doesn’t even feel strong enough to describe it — have officially been eliminated from playoff contention.
After suffering yet another historic loss, this time at the hands of the San Antonio Spurs, the inevitable became conclusive when L.A. was mathematically disqualified from reaching the postseason.
From Mike Bresnahan of the Los Angeles Times:
The Lakers (22-44) were officially eliminated from playoff contention after experiencing another brutal night on defense. Who knew their victory over Oklahoma City on Sunday would become the miracle of the NBA season?
No need to stop just yet. The Spurs’ victory pushed the trio of Tim Duncan, Tony Parker and Manu Ginobili past the “Showtime” group of Magic Johnson, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar and Michael Cooper for second-most regular-season victories by three NBA teammates (491).
In addition to the former Lakers trio being surpassed in career wins by the current Spurs one, San Antonio recorded its largest margin of victory against the L.A. franchise (34 points) since a 32-point win in 1977.
It’s been a season of humiliation for a Lakers team that has largely avoided that feeling for the vast majority of its existence. At this point, these milestones teams are recording against them are simply adding insult to injury, but it will all come to a merciful conclusion on April 16 now that the playoffs are formally out of reach.
Everything LeBron James does and says gets magnified and scrutinized.
So when he put out this photo on Instagram standing shoulder-to-shoulder with Tristan Thompson and the caption “get it done” it seemed a message to the Cavaliers.
LeBron clarified that on Sunday, saying this has become a distraction, and the message was for both sides to bend, as reported by Dave McMenamin of ESPN and Chris Haynes of the Plain Dealer.
When Thompson didn’t sign the qualifying offer he surrendered a lot of leverage, the Cavaliers don’t have to raise their five-year, $80 million offer — but reportedly they still would, a little. Thompson and his agent Rich Paul have pushed for a max contract, but that’s not happening.
At some point, the two sides will come to an agreement. For the Cavaliers, this is a distraction, their star is unhappy with that, and ultimately if they are going to make a title run they need the energy and rebounding Thompson brings (even if it is just off the bench). For Thompson, he can’t make up a year of lost salary, he has to come in and start getting paid at some point.
The two sides will get it done. Eventually. Likely before the season tips off.
China has secured the ninth and final Olympic men’s basketball berth awarded this year.
China earned the bid to the 2016 Rio Games with a 78-67 win over the Philippines. 2016 first-round draft prospect Qi Zhou had 16 points and 14 rebounds, setting up the Olympics to be his big introduction to American fans.
Former NBA player Yi Jianlian won tournament MVP by averaging 16.7 points, 8.8 rebounds, 1.4 assists and 1.2 blocks per game.
This will be China’s ninth straight Olympic appearance.
The Philippines, who got 17 points from Andray Blatche in the final, will still go to an Olympic Qualifying Tournament next summer with a chance to reach Rio.