Over the course of the majority of the first half of the season, Lance Stephenson’s improved play was a huge reason that the Pacers got off to such a strong start. He was a triple-double threat on seemingly a nightly basis, and played under control and within his team’s system.
By the time Indiana’s season was over following Friday’s blowout Game 6 loss to the Heat in the Eastern Conference Finals, Stephenson had gone rogue, and had resorted to tactics that had little to do with basketball in the final two games of the series.
Pacers president Larry Bird condemned Stephenson’s odd decision to blow in the ear of LeBron James in Game 5, and head coach Frank Vogel expressed a similar sentiment following the whole host of things that Stephenson tried to do to mess with his opponent in Game 6.
“It’s tough to say,” Vogel said, when asked if Stephenson’s antics hurt more than they helped. “I don’t think it’s ever good … what’s everybody call it? Tug on Superman’s cape. I don’t think that’s ever good. But I’ll take Lance Stephenson’s competitive edge. Like I said, I just don’t think it’s good to tug on the cape.”
Heat coach Erik Spoelstra wouldn’t even discuss Stephenson afterward, saying only, “We’re playing for something much bigger than that guy” when the subject was broached.
Stephenson showed he can play this year, and could be a real asset to a team with the right amount of veteran leadership in the locker room capable of keeping him in check. He also showed why general managers around the league will be extremely leery of handing him a high-dollar, long-term contract in free agency this summer.
Good on Latrell Sprewell for doing this, poking fun at his image.
It would have been funnier with P.J. Carlesimo, but David Robinson is a quality contrast. Well done, Priceline.
Carmelo Anthony has the hammer — he has a no-trade clause in his contract. If he doesn’t want to be traded, he’s not getting traded. End of story.
Also, he loves New York.
So when he went on SiriusXM NBA Radio Saturday and was asked about the trade rumors linking him to Cleveland, ‘Melo shot those down.
There were exploratory talks involving Kevin Love going to Boston — the Knicks might have been the third team in such a deal — but the buzz around Toronto (where the NBA World has gathered for the All-Star Game) is those talks have stalled. It’s not impossible that they are revived, but don’t bet on it.
The Cavaliers are a win-now team, and if they move the floor-spacing Love they need to bring in pieces that get them closer to a title. They don’t see that now.
As for Anthony, he re-signed in New York and said he wanted to be there (and get paid.). While there may be people in his camp that think him moving on would be a good for his career, the man himself doesn’t want to go anywhere. And Carmelo Anthony has the hammer.
TORONTO (AP) — LeBron James is amused over all the fuss that accompanied Tyronn Lue getting the chance to coach the Eastern Conference in Sunday’s All-Star Game.
The honor typically goes to the coaching staff of the team leading their respective conference at the break, provided that staff didn’t also coach in the game the year before. So when the Cleveland Cavaliers fired David Blatt and promoted Lue from his assistant spot to being the coach in charge, that meant Lue also got the All-Star duty.
And while it might seem strange to some, James was quick to point out Friday at the All-Star media day that Lue “would have been here anyways, even if coach Blatt was still our coach.”
James has been criticized for what many presume to be his role in Blatt’s dismissal, and the four-time MVP says he isn’t letting that perception bother him. He also didn’t take the bait when asked to describe differences between Blatt and Lue.
James’ answer: “Their height.”
For the record, Blatt (6-foot-3) is listed to be about three inches taller than Lue.
TORONTO — Kobe Bryant has been loyal to the Lakers for 20 seasons (if you ignore some “trade me” tantrums along the way). He’s also been über competitive.
Those same qualities are what he most appreciates about Dirk Nowitzki.
Kobe talked a little Dirk during his All-Star media availability Friday.
“Dirk and I have always had a great relationship because we’re both extremely competitive. Also both extremely loyal to our teams,” Bryant said.
“I’ll tell you a story about Dirk. He was up for free agency, and I knew what his response was going to be. But out of respect, everybody’s looking around at all these free agents, I felt I’d shoot you a text, if you want to come to L.A. He goes, ‘I would love to play with you, but Dallas is my home. This is my team. I’m not leaving here.’ So he and I think a lot alike in that regard.”
Nowitzki’s last couple free agencies have been mere formalities, nobody around the league thought he would leave Mark Cuban or Dallas. The only questions were money and years — in 2014 the Lakers reportedly offered the max to Nowitzki, who took three-years, $25 million from Dallas so the Mavs could rebuild their roster. It’s all part of that loyalty — and it’s worked out, Nowitzki and Cuban have a ring.
Kobe’s respect for Nowitzki was clear when Dirk nailed a game winner against the Lakers this season, Kobe just nodded his approval from the bench.
One of the best things the past couple seasons about Kobe, and especially this season with just about to retire Kobe, is that he is giving honest answers. He doesn’t care what people think. That leads to honest moments and great stories.