NBA players, union happy with Silver’s action against Sterling

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Adam Silver brought the hammer down on Donald Sterling — and that made the NBA’s players and its union very happy.

“Today, the players believe the commissioner has done his duty,” said Sacramento Mayor Kevin Johnson, representing the union, at a press conference in Los Angeles (televised on NBA TV) minutes after Adam Silver’s press conference ended. “On this day Adam Silver is not only the owners’ commissioner, he is also the players’ commissioner, and we’re proud to call him our commissioner.”

It what seemed like more a pep rally than press conference at points, Johnson and a series of former and current players — Steve Nash, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar and more — praised Silver for giving Clippers owner Donald Sterling a lifetime ban, fining him $2.5 million and starting a process that will force the sale of the team from his hands.

“Throughout history, sports has played a pivotal role in advancing civil rights — Tommy Smith, John Carlos at the 1968 Olympics. Great leaders like Muhammad Ali, Jim Brown, Arthur Ashe, Jason Collins and our very own Jackie Robinson,” Johnson said. “I believe that today stands as one of those great moments, where sports once again transcends. Where sports provides a place for fundamental change on how our country should think and act…

“The players spoke, they acted and they were listened to.”

Kobe Bryant put it this way.

In case you thought the union didn’t have any teeth behind its requests, union executive committee member Roger Mason Junior said if Silver had soft-pedaled this there would have been a boycott tonight.

“Additionally I reached out to other players around the league and made it clear that the players were ready to boycott the games if this kind of action was not something Adam Silver felt was necessary,” MasonJr.,. “I’m happy to come here today and say that as players we are very happy with the decision, but we’re not content yet. We want immediate action, we want a timetable form the owners as to when this vote is going to happen, but we feel confident that with Adam Silver’s urging, and obviously we’ve heard from a lot of owners around the league, we think this is something that can be handled quickly.”

MasonJr., the only one who sounded like a union leader on this day, asking for followup.

But in a league that was facing sponsors bolting and a potential player revolt, Adam Silver stood up strong. And the players have his back.

Watch Michael Jordan’s best highlight from each of his playoff runs (video)

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I’ve become a sucker for this highlight format.

Jazz deny rumored promise to draft D.J. Wilson

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Michigan forward D.J. Wilson said he’d stay in the draft only if he’d go in the first round. Yet, despite not doing any on-court work at the combine, the borderline first-rounder remained in the draft beyond the withdrawal deadline.

What gives?

Rod Beard of The Detroit News:

Kyle Goon of The Salt Lake Tribune:

NBA teams sometimes promise to draft a player. They never reveal that before the draft. So, Utah’s denial doesn’t mean much – even if it’s true.

The Jazz were the last team to give Wilson a full work out before he injured himself in a Spurs workout. So, this rumor could be based on circumstantial evidence rather than leak of a Utah guarantee.

Wilson would make sense for the Jazz, who could see their payroll bloat if they re-sign Gordon Hayward and George Hill (and maybe even Joe Ingles). They could move Derrick Favors, an interior who doesn’t exactly fit with Rudy Gobert. Wilson would give Utah another option with Trey Lyles as developing stretch fours behind Boris Diaw. (Utah could even move Diaw and count on Lyles/Wilson to emerge sooner than later.)

Watch LeBron James’ top highlight from each of his postseason appearances (video)

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LeBron James and Tony Parker are the only players to play in the last dozen postseasons.

(If you’re wondering, Manu Ginobili missed the 2009 playoffs due to an ankle injury.)

It’s fair to say LeBron was a bit more spectacular than Parker in that span. As LeBron enters his seventh straight Finals, the NBA released this awesome video showing LeBron’s best playoff highlight from each year:

There’s no entry for this year. Here’s betting it comes against the Warriors in the NBA Finals.

David Stern: We thought we could re-work Chris Paul-to-Lakers trade until Mitch Kupchak ‘panicked’

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NBA commissioner David Stern – acting as New Orleans’ owner representative, he says – infamously vetoed a potential Chris Paul-to-Lakers trade in 2011.

But that didn’t close the possibility of Paul going to the Lakers.

The New Orleans Hornets (now the Pelicans and not be confused with the current Charlotte Hornets), Lakers and Rockets tried to rework the three-team trade that would’ve sent Paul to the Lakers, Pau Gasol to Houston and Lamar Odom, Kevin Martin, Luis Scola, Goran Dragic and a first-round pick to New Orleans. But talks fell apart around the time the Lakers dealt Odom to the Mavericks.

Stern on Nunyo & Company (hat tip: Harrison Feigen of Silver Screen & Roll):

In fact, in the course of the weekend, we thought we could re-do the deal. We really thought that Houston would be ready to part with Kevin Lowry, and we had a trade lined up for Odom that would have gotten us a good first-round draft pick – not we, but my basketball folks. But Mitch Kupchak at the time panicked and moved Odom to Dallas. So the piece wasn’t even there for us to play with at the time. So that was it — just about what was good for the then-New Orleans Hornets.

Remember, Stern – roundly criticized for his handling of this episode* – has blamed the Lakers and Rockets for the lingering perception. This could just be him again trying to shift responsibility.

*Somewhat fairly, somewhat not. Owners veto general manager-approved trades often enough, and Stern was acting as New Orleans’ owner after George Shinn sold the franchise back to the league. But Stern had an agenda as commissioner. He never should have assumed such a large conflict of interest. What he did with the Paul trade was reasonable for an acting owner, but because Stern was also commissioner, it’s fair to question how much New Orleans’ interests and how much the league’s interests factored into the decision-making.

But let’s take Stern at his word – that he and the Hornets thought they could re-do the trade and send Paul to the Lakers. That doesn’t mean they were right. Maybe the Lakers and Rockets (who had Kyle Lowry, not the “Kevin Lowry” Stern named) were never going to part with enough to get Stern’s approval.

And maybe New Orleans didn’t properly convey its interest in still completing a deal. Perhaps, Kupchak acted reasonably by trading Odom to Dallas – for a first-round pick, a deal Mark Cuban would ultimately regret – rather than wait around for the Hornets, who eventually sent Paul to the Clippers.

It’s easy to blame Kupchak, but he might tell a different story.