chris paul

Players boycotting playoff games in protest of Donald Sterling was never a real option

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Adam Silver handled the Donald Sterling situation about as perfectly as could have been expected, imposing a lifetime ban on the Clippers owner along with detailing plans to force him to sell the team, thereby exiling him from the NBA altogether.

In case the commissioner had come down less forcefully on Sterling, the players were reportedly considering boycotting games — a move that may have seemed impactful today, but in the long run, would have been extremely short-sighted.

The Warriors detailed their plan, and on paper, it seemed incredibly dramatic. But we’ll never know whether or not this might have actually happened, and honestly, it wouldn’t have made a whole lot of sense.

Donald Sterling is the league’s longest-tenured owner, having purchased the Clippers for $12 million back in 1981. That’s more than 30 years as an NBA owner, while players are often fortunate if their careers last even a third as long.

That’s one reason a boycott would only have served to hurt the players themselves.

Chris Paul and Blake Griffin have very few years where championship contention is a legitimate reality, and this happens to be one of them. The West is as wide open as ever, with teams like the Spurs and the Thunder both struggling to advance against lesser first round opponents.

L.A. already has essentially forfeited a playoff game against the Warriors by allowing all of this Sterling nonsense to become a distraction, and a boycott by ether team would only serve to make this first round series even more difficult to win by either side.

Players’ careers are finite, and the opportunities to contend for a title are even more limited. Sterling’s remarks were awful, and it has to be incredibly difficult for the players to focus under these circumstances. But no one signed up to play specifically for Sterling — he may own the Clippers, but players came there either through the draft or free agency simply to play basketball at the professional level for one of the league’s 30 teams.

Maybe in Dallas, free agents choose to sign on with the Mavericks because of Mark Cuban, and how active he is in his team’s pursuit of a winning culture. But most players have very little interaction with ownership, so in the case of the Clippers and the Warriors, they need to be a little more selfish.

The reality is that the players are playing for themselves — their personal legacy, or their personal future earning potential. Choosing to sit out of playoff games in some form of protest would only damage those goals, and would have little impact on anyone else. For that reason, a boycott of any kind was never a real option.

Thankfully, the league’s response was of the appropriate strength so that the players never needed to seriously consider it.

Kobe Bryant with spin move around LeBron James (VIDEO)

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The game itself went about how you’d expect one between a title contender and a high lottery team to go — the Cavaliers 120-111 win over the Lakers was never really in doubt.

But the fans in Cleveland wanted to see some vintage Kobe Bryant, and they got it late when he spun around LeBron James and hit the reverse lay-up.

LeBron had 29 points on the night, and Kyrie Irving had 35. Kobe finished with 17 and got a standing ovation from the Cleveland crowd.

Suns’ Markieff Morris, Archie Goodwin get in scuffle on the bench

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Just another magical day in the Valley of the Sun, where clearly Jeff Hornacek was the problem….

During an early timeout in the Suns’ game at Golden State, Markieff Morris tried to explain something to Archie Goodwin, who is seated. This conversation gets heated quickly, and teammates eventually have to step in and separate the two teammates.

The Suns have shopped Morris around as the trade deadline approaches, this isn’t going to help his value.

We should find out more about what happened after the game ends, although I’m sure both sides will play it down as “nothing.”

Kawhi Leonard drains game winner to beat Orlando (VIDEO)

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This is how much Gregg Popovich trusts Kawhi Leonard on offense now: Tie game with 13.3 seconds remaining, and the play design is a 1-4 flat isolation for Leonard. It’s the kind of play teams will call for LeBron James or Kevin Durant. Popovich just called it for Leonard.

And he was rewarded with a game-winning bucket.

Leonard finished with 29 points, LaMarcus Aldridge had 21, and the Spurs head into the All-Star break with a 45-8 record, on pace to win 70 games this season. And that still would only get them a two seed.

Hornets’ Michael Kidd-Gilchrist suffers shoulder dislocation, leaves game

Michael Kidd-Gilchrist
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Michael Kidd-Gilchrist had been back just six games after suffering a torn labrum in the preseason that required surgery. The Hornets had won four of those six, were playing improved defense, and looked like a potential playoff team in the East.

Now this.

He went straight to the locker room and did not return to the game (the Pacers got the win).

You can see the injury above. In a scramble for a loose ball, the Pacers’ Ian Mahinmi falls on MKG’s arm, dislocating his shoulder.

We don’t know the severity of all this and if MKG is going to miss time beyond this game. But it isn’t good.