2013 NBA Finals - Game Seven

Gregg Popovich to reporter in postgame press conference: ‘Good Lord. And they pay you, don’t they?’ (video)

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Correction: Upon closer listening, it sounds as if Popovich said “it’s” rather than “you’re” “not worth much.”

Games in the Spurs-Thunder series have been decided by 17, 35, 9, 13 and 28 points – and in the lone single-digit game, the winning team led by 20 late in the fourth quarter before surrendering a meaningless run.

Despite five blowouts, the series is as close as possible with San Antonio holding a 3-2 lead.

That’s quirky and somewhat interesting, but I have no clue how to explain it. If only there were a basketball genius fielding questions whom we could ask.

After the Spurs won Game 5, a reporter asked Gregg Popovich about the string of big wins by both teams.

  • Reporter: “Five games, five blowouts. To us who don’t really know the game, how do you explain that?”
  • Popovich: “You’re serious? You really think I can explain that?”
  • Reporter: “In simplest terms. I know you can. The question is, will you?”
  • Popovich: “Good Lord. And they pay you, don’t they? They pay –”
  • Reporter: “Very little.”
  • Popovich: “Thus the question. It’s not worth much.”
  • Reporter: “That’s why I’m not up there.”

I hope the reporter wasn’t offended, though Popovich’s words – even with his laugh – were way out of line. I know I wouldn’t have been offended, because this is who Popovich is. He’s a jerk to the media. A long history of him acting like this might mean we shouldn’t take his retorts seriously, but normalizing them doesn’t make them acceptable.

To make matters worse as the exchange continued, the reporter clearly thought Popovich used “can’t” in the same way he says he “can’t” explain his tactical adjustments – as a synonym for “won’t.” But, in this case, I legitimately believe Popovich truly meant “can’t.” Of course, Popovich made no effort to get on the same page as the reporter, instead opting to belittle him.

Another reporter followed up and again asked whether Popovich can explain the series producing five routs. This time, Popovich answered:

No. There’s no way. I have no clue, honestly. I think every game, it’s a different animal. It really is. We talk to our team about that all the time. You have no clue what’s going to happen, how a team is going to come out, whether they’re going to be lethargic or hold the ball, don’t hold the ball, get 50-50 balls or don’t get 50-50 balls. The game is played once it begins, and adjustments start.Both sides are going to make their adjustments, whether it’s substitutions or changing pick-and-roll defenses or who you want to go to, how many minutes so-and-so should play. All that happens when the game starts. There are plays, there are calls, there are runs that happen that make momentum stop or get extended.  And then a lot of it has got to do with players making shots on a certain night, and it can go in either direction.

What do you know? Popovich had a reasonable reply in him all along.

Mike Krzyzewski: Team USA having too much fun, needs to tone it down

OAKLAND, CA - JULY 26:  DeMar DeRozan #9 of the United States Men's National Team looks on during a break in the action against the China Men's National Team during the second half of a USA Basketball showcase exhibition game at ORACLE Arena on July 26, 2016 in Oakland, California.  (Photo by Thearon W. Henderson/Getty Images)
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Mike Krzyzewski hates fun (even more than he admits).

So, the coach wasn’t thrilled after Team USA’s exhibition win over China, which included DeMar DeRozan nearly 360-degree dunking on someone.

Marc J. Spears of ESPN:

I want to see Team USA make highlight plays. Dunk from the free-throw line. Shoot from halfcourt. Throw behind-the-back passes. Show up weaker competition.

So, it’s hard for me to get behind Coach K’s criticism.

But I also want to see the Americans win gold medals in the Olympics, and I’ll blame Krzyzewski if they’re not adequately focused.

Fair? Not one bit.

Doesn’t change what I want, though.

Report: Kevin Durant told Russell Westbrook he’d re-sign with the Thunder

OKLAHOMA CITY, OK - MAY 28:  Kevin Durant #35 of the Oklahoma City Thunder and Russell Westbrook #0 look on prior to game six of the Western Conference Finals against the Golden State Warriors during the 2016 NBA Playoffs at Chesapeake Energy Arena on May 28, 2016 in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement.  (Photo by Maddie Meyer/Getty Images)
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Kevin Durant said he had to distance himself from Russell Westbrook entering free agency. Yet, Durant listened to the Warriors recruiting him all season and had clearly been interested in Golden State for months.

The writing was on the wall.

Except, a few days before taking meetings in the Hamptons (which led to signing with the Warriors), Durant dined with Westbrook.

Royce Young of ESPN:

Three weeks ago, Kevin Durant’s sitting there at dinner, telling him “Hey, I’m coming back, man. Don’t worry about it.” And now, Russell Westbrook has been kind of thrown into this in having to decide his future a summer earlier than expected.

Kevin Durant, more so than even that, was telling people, “Hey, yeah, I mean I’m coming back.” Like I said in there, a week before Kevin Durant sat down in the Hamptons, he was in Oklahoma City ready to make an offer on a multi-million-dollar house. So, the guy was pretty serious about coming back, and then things turned rather quickly for him to leave. And there’s no doubt that the organization felt a little bit burned by this.

Maybe Durant said that. Maybe he meant it in the moment. Maybe he was just trying to appease someone he didn’t want to let down. Maybe he was unclear. Maybe Westbrook read too much into a more clear statement.

There’s a lot of room for imperfect recollection/interpretation. We’re dealing with human beings.

Likewise on the house. Who says Durant was “ready” to make an offer? That’s an awfully difficult assessment to make outside his head. Just as the Celtics had a list of players Durant wanted them to add, it seems he was preparing for all contingencies. It’s hard to nail down rather he was house hunting because he was certain he wanted to stay in Oklahoma City or whether he just wanted a new place if he stayed in Oklahoma City.

So much of what we know about Durant’s process for picking the Warriors suggests a rational decision. He considered them for months, met with multiple teams, conferred with his inner circle then made a choice.

If Durant told Westbrook or anyone else he’d re-sign with the Thunder, that obviously changes the equation. But I’m left wondering:

How many people in Oklahoma City heard what they wanted to hear rather than what Durant actually said?

How many people are incentivized to paint Durant as impulsive, because the alternative — Durant thoughtfully deciding the Thunder weren’t his best option — indicates deeper flaws in the franchise?

Watch Carmelo Anthony put up 16 points in third quarter on China

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Kyrie Irving, Klay Thompson, Kevin Durant, and DeMarcus Cousins are pretty much locked in as four of the Team USA starters come the Olympics. But who gets that fifth slot, the one for a wing player? Paul George? Jimmy Butler?

Don’t be shocked if Carmelo Anthony gets that slot.

He helped make his case Tuesday, scoring 16 in the third quarter alone on China in an easy Team USA victory in a pre-Olympics exhibition. Mike Krzyzewski likes to reward veterans, and ‘Melo is one of the old guy leaders of this team who has collected two gold medals already. Don’t be surprised if ‘Melo is a starter in Rio (Draymond Green started Tuesday, but only because the game was at Oracle Arena and Coach K likes to give guys a bigger role in front of the local crowds where they play).

DeMar DeRozan just missed spectacular in-game 360 poster dunk (VIDEO)

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Can a missed dunk attempt be brilliant?

DeMar DeRozan says yes.

The Toronto Raptors guard almost pulled off an in-game 360-dunk over a defender during the USA’s latest rout of China in an Olympics tune-up game. How impressive was the dunk? Ask LeBron James.