Keri Hilson

Keri Hilson believes she and Serge Ibaka shared tears of joy following his emotional comeback


Keri Hilson, the singer famous for “Pretty Girl Rock,” was not sitting on the Oklahoma City Thunder bench in the closing minutes of the Thunder’s Game 3 win over San Antonio. But she believes she knew how Serge Ibaka – who’d just turned in an incredible, injury-defying performance – felt.

Hilson, who is dating Ibaka, spoke to Sam Amick of USA Today:

Hilson can’t prove it, but she’s sure that Ibaka was crying on the bench underneath that towel that covered his head in the final moments of Game 3. Happy tears all around, to be sure.

“I was so proud,” Hilson said. “When he was crying here on the bench — I believe he was crying — I was crying too. It was emotional because I saw how just yesterday and the day before yesterday to see that he was on crutches, he was in his brace. I know he played through pain, I don’t know how he did it, but he did it.”

How did Ibaka make this miraculous comeback?

Hilson elaborated on how she and Ibaka’s sister, Rachina, helped the Thunder forward. Amick:

But when Hilson hopped a plane came straight from Atlanta in the days after Ibaka was injured back on May 15, the look on Serge’s face said it all about how much work they had to do here.

“As soon as I heard, I didn’t feel comfortable being anywhere else,” Hilson, who is based in Atlanta and Los Angeles and met Ibaka through a mutual friend, told USA TODAY Sports. “Even though he didn’t say it, I knew he needed me. I needed to do anything I could to put a smile on his face. He didn’t have a smile on his face all week. It was very hard. It was really hard. He’s one of the most dedicated people I’ve ever seen in any field, one of the most dedicated people I’ve ever been able to witness. (Rachina) was as much his nurse as I was. She cooks. I do the TLC and cook a little bit. We had to be there for him.”

Ibaka did not return alone. He has a locker room full of adoring teammates behind him.

Kendrick Perkins, via Adrian Wojnarowski of Yahoo Sports:

“The best teammate I’ve ever played with is Kevin Garnett, but Serge is right there behind K.G., No. 2,”

Kevin Durant, via Royce Young of Daily Thunder:

Ibaka clearly has support coming from all directions. That’s so fly, it’s a little bit scary. (Sorry.)

PBT Extra bold prediction previews: Don’t expect more wins in Toronto

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After winning the Atlantic Division then getting thumped in the playoff two years running, the powers that be in Toronto decided it was time for a change.

The added DeMarre Carroll and made shifts to make this a more defensive-minded team, all because of dreams of playoff success (which for the Raptors would be making the second round). What this changeover is not going to mean is an improvement off the 49 regular season wins the Raptors had last season — they sacrificed some scoring to get this defense, and there is a trade-off.

That said, I still expect the Raptors to win the Atlantic. Maybe they make the second round of the playoffs (way too early to make that call).

How many regular season wins they get — and if they win a postseason series — for me is going to come down to if Jonas Valanciunas takes a step forward. Kyle Lowry and DeMar DeRozan will be strong, Carroll is an upgrade, but the big man in the middle will be the hinge for everything.

Mike Budenholzer smirks at lawyer calling Thabo Sefolosha ‘NBA superstar’

Mike Budenholzer, Thabo Sefolosha
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The funny part, via Robert Silverman:

The substantive part:

NEW YORK (AP) — NBA player Thabo Sefolosha, who was arrested outside a New York City nightclub in April following a confrontation with police officer, has a character “of the highest order,” his head coach, Mike Budenholzer, testified Thursday.

Taking the stand as the final defense witness in Sefolosha’s trial, Budenholzer described the Atlanta Hawks guard-forward as “highly intelligent” and a “hard worker.”

When asked by defense attorney Alex Spiro to describe his character, he said it was, “of the highest order.”

“Thabo is of the highest character,” he said during brief testimony in Manhattan Criminal Court.

The Swiss national is charged with misdemeanor obstructing government administration, disorderly conduct and resisting arrest charges stemming from a confrontation with officers outside a trendy Manhattan nightclub early in the morning on April 8. He has pleaded not guilty.

Officers testified this week that Sefolosha and former teammate Pero Antic repeatedly disobeyed their orders to move off the block and away from a crime scene that had been established following the earlier stabbing of another NBA player, Chris Copeland, and two women.

One of the officers also said Sefolosha lunged at an officer with his arm extended but was intercepted before making contact, eventually taken to the ground and arrested.

Sefolosha has testified that he was complying with orders and moving up the block as a particularly aggressive officer screamed profanities at him.

His attorney has argued that his client was singled out by the officer, who is white, because Sefolosha is black.

Sefolosha testified Thursday that he was trying to give money to a panhandler before entering an awaiting car when he was grabbed by police. He said his leg was kicked in the scuffle and he was taken to the ground, handcuffed and hauled to a police precinct. He suffered a fractured right leg, which forced him to miss the playoffs.

The case is the second one involving high-profile athletes accusing New York Police Department officers of wrongdoing this year. On Wednesday, the city agency charged with investigating police misconduct substantiated claims by former tennis star James Blake that an officer used excessive force when he took him to the ground last month after mistkaing Blake for a fraud suspect.