Adam Silver had been David Stern’s right-hand man so long, I initially wondered whether Silver would carve his own path as NBA Commissioner rather than just continuing what Stern set in motion.
Would he be comfortable altering Stern policies? Did he even disagree with Stern’s policies?
It seems Silver has already answered those questions. He’s only been on the job a couple months, but he’s already making his mark.
In a departure from Stern’s top-down authoritative approach, the NBA is now releasing to the public memos sent to referees.
The latest memo, released today, is on verticality:
We have noticed that defenders have been turning sideways when jumping to defend an oncoming offensive player on drives to the basket. This is illegal and referees are being instructed to call this a blocking foul. While we commonly discuss verticality in the context of secondary defenders inside the restricted area (see restricted area and verticality reminder further below), this change will apply to defenders turning sideways while in the air whether inside or outside the restricted area on drives.
You can read the full memo, which includes links to videos of plays that should be now called blocking fouls.
The league also released every other memo sent to officials this season. The topics:
Transparency is usually good, and in this case, it definitely is. Fans who spend money, directly through ticket sales and merchandise and indirectly through advertising, on the NBA deserve to know what’s happening in the league.
Kudos to the Silver regime for going this direction. Referee memos can be a bit trite, but there’s no good reason not to disclose them. Hopefully, this is just a sign of progress toward even more transparency.
Russell Westbrook might not want to talk about his supporting cast distinctively, but it’s a real issue for the Thunder, who trail the Rockets 3-1 in their first-round series.
Even Andre Roberson, who has impressively defended James Harden, brings a glaring weakness: free throws. Roberson is 2-for-17 from the line in the playoffs, including 2-for-12 in Game 4 yesterday. Houston even repeatedly intentionally fouled him late.
It was agonizing for all but the most partisan Rockets supporters – though even Houston’s bench, while at least implicitly mocking Roberson, appeared put off that he missed yet again.
Isaiah Thomas previously explained his emotions in a statement, but the Celtics guard spoke publicly yesterday for the first time since the death of his sister in a car crash just before the playoffs.
Thomas, via A. Sherrod Blakely of CSN Northeast:
“Mentally and emotionally I’m not here,” Thomas said after Game 4, the first time he has spoken publicly since his sister’s death. “So I just feed off of what the guys give me. They give me a lot of confidence. I can’t do it without those guys. They believe in me. Being here is what makes me sane and makes me feel somewhat normal through these tough times.”
Thomas has played well for Boston, which won twice in Chicago to even its series with the Bulls, 2-2. It’s remarkable considering the heavy emotional burden and extra travel, going to Seattle for his sister’s funeral then joining the Celtics in Chicago.
His teammates have clearly rallied around him, and that surely helps. But I can’t even imagine how he’s simultaneously handling such a tragic family situation and the biggest games of his career.
Pacers super fan Matt Asen brings his lucky flamingo to each game.
He also annoyed the heck out of Kyrie Irving by trying to hand it, rather than the ball, to the Cavaliers guard.
James Harden didn’t lead the Rockets in scoring in their Game 4 win over the Thunder yesterday.
He didn’t even rank second – or third.
Nene, Eric Gordon and Lou Williams each outscored Harden, who scored 16 points on 5-for-16 shooting, including 0-for-7 on 3-pointers.
What happened to the Houston star?
Calvin Watkins of ESPN:
Houston Rockets star guard James Harden said he has been hobbled by an ankle injury that occurred in Game 3 of this first-round series against the Oklahoma City Thunder.
Harden made the revelation to ESPN’s Lisa Salters after the Rockets’ 113-109 Game 4 victory on Sunday afternoon.
“It was pretty tough; we don’t make excuses,” Harden said in a news conference when asked about his health. “We just try to go out there and get the job done. You build trust, and trust in your teammates all year long. When there’s moments like this, guys step up and they did tonight. We have another opportunity in a few days to go out there and win on our home court, and we’re going to have to get off to a really good start.”
Many players are grinding through injuries this time of year. Is Harden’s exceptionally bad? There’s no way of telling from the outside.
But he didn’t look quite right in Game 4, and if he’s hobbled, that opens the door slightly wider for Oklahoma City to come back from its 3-1 deficit.