As the referees reviewed a foul call late in the third quarter of Game 5, Heat coach Erik Spoelstra called Norris Cole toward the bench to offer instruction.
Pacers forward Lance Stephenson joined the conversation, and Spoelstra looked none too pleased.
Invading opponent’s huddles happens – nobody has done it better than Marcin Gortat – but I understand why Spoelstra is upset. Lance is a pest, trying to get under everyone’s skin. Whether that’s blowing in LeBron James’ ear or calling out LeBron publicly, Stephenson is not afraid to toe the line or maybe even cross it right into a discussion between a Miami coach and player.
After the game, LeBron was asked about Stephenson’s antics. Watch how he inflects the word “professionals.”
I don’t really – I mean, I’m just here to play basketball, man. All the extracurricular activities, I don’t really get into. I mean, I’m just trying to win. We need one more game to get the Finals. That’s my only concern. We put ourselves in a position to win tonight, and as competitors, as PROFESSIONALS, that’s what we are. At the end of the day, we put ourselves in a position to win. All the extra, whatever Lance wants to deal with, I don’t really care about that.
I’ve been impressed how LeBron and Dwyane Wade have answered questions about the Pacers’ ridiculousness with straight faces. You don’t think part of LeBron just wanted to rail on Stephenson for the pain he is? But LeBron and Wade keep taking the high road.
So, I love that very slight emphasis on “professionals.” Excellently and subtly done, LeBron.
The release of NBA 2K17, the latest edition of the popular 2K video-game series, is less than a month away. Players are starting to get their likenesses in the game, as well as their player ratings, and tweet them out. Magic forward Evan Fournier wasn’t too happy with the way his came out.
Fournier’s countryman Rudy Gobert got in on the fun, too, changing his Twitter avatar to Fournier’s screenshot and encouraging others to do the same. He even created a hashtag for it.
At least they’re having fun with it.
On Friday, the Jazz traded German center Tibor Pleiss to the Sixers along with two second-round picks for Kendall Marshall. The big draw of the trade for Philly was the picks, and Pleiss is not expected to stay with the Sixers, according to Comcast SportsNet Philadelphia’s Jessica Camerato.
Pleiss had a forgettable season with Utah, and the Sixers have a glut of bigs including Nerlens Noel, Jahlil Okafor, Joel Embiid and Dario Saric. It would have been virtually impossible for Pleiss to crack the rotation, and it’s unlikely another team picks up his contract, which has $3 million guaranteed this season.
As a Jordan Brand athlete, Russell Westbrook is under the same Nike umbrella as former teammate Kevin Durant. But his latest Jordan spot, released Friday, has a very pointed tagline: “Some run, some make runways.”
Given the circumstances, it’s hard to interpret that as anything other than a reference to Durant signing with the Warriors and Westbrook signing an extension with the Thunder.
For two decades, Kobe Bryant saw everyone and everything as an obstacle to overcome: The Pacers, Sixers, Nets, Magic, Celtics, Tim Duncan, Gregg Popovich, Smush Parker, a torn Achilles. It didn’t matter. Kobe’s work ethic and drive had him rising above it all.
His focus hasn’t changed now. Kobe was on the Jim Rome show, and the topic of the new-look Warriors with Kevin Durant came up, along with the “woe is me” attitude of some players (and plenty of owners and GMs).
“I would have thought less about myself if I looked at that move and said, ‘That’s unfair,'” he said. “If you’re a real competitor, you look at that and say, ‘OK, lace ’em up. Let’s go. I don’t care how many players you have over there; we’re still going to take you down.'”
Easier said than done to make that happen, but that attitude is the only one to have if you think you have a chance. You can be sure LeBron James is thinking that way and telling his Cavaliers teammates the same.
We’re going to miss Kobe.