Tim Duncan could extend championship reign to historic length

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Long after a championship team has finished its run, it’s always entertaining to look back on the cast of characters and research the question: Where are they now? One team particularly interests me.

The starting point guard became a head coach and has done it long enough to get fired. Twice.

The starting shooting guard has served as an assistant coach so long, he took a sabbatical this season.

The staring small forward has worked as a color commentator longer than his NBA career lasted.

The starting center waited the required amount of time and then was elected to the Basketball Hall of Fame. Heck, he’s been enshrined as long as he had to wait.

And the starting power forward, well, he’s playing for the NBA title once again.

Fifteen years after Tim Duncan won his first NBA title – starting with Avery Johnson, Mario Elie, Sean Elliott and David Robinson – the Spurs superstar is four wins from another. No other player on that 1999 San Antonio championship team has even been in the league the last few years.

Yet, not only is Duncan still playing, he’s excelling.

A lot of external circumstances have changed – Dominique Wilkins was still in the NBA and Bill Clinton was still president when Duncan won his first title – but Duncan has remained one of the steadiest elite performers in NBA history.

I don’t know who the Spurs’ best player is now. I’m tempted to say Kawhi Leonard.  A lot of people would probably answer Tony Parker. But Duncan is as good a response as any.

In 1999, the same debate raged. Was Duncan or Robinson San Antonio’s best player?

Between, there has been little doubt. Duncan has performed at Hall of Fame levels, ensuring the Spurs remain at or near the top of the league.

Currently Duncan, who won his last title in 2007, has gone eight years between championships. That’s pretty impressive. Just 25 players in NBA history – including two current players, Kobe Bryant and Derek Fisher – have done that.

But if the Spurs win the championship this year, that would put Duncan in even more rarified air.

Just nine players have gone more than 10 years between winning championships. Just two have gone more than 15.

Here they are with their first championship team, number of years between and their last championship team – plus where Duncan could fit with a title this year.

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Abdul-Jabbar was still humming along, winning four titles while playing excellently with the Lakers more than 10 years after his first with the Bucks. But Parish was a benchwarmer on the Bulls long after his Celtics peak.

Duncan falls somewhere between, though much closer to Abdul-Jabbar.

And if the Spurs win the championship this year, Duncan should fall closer to the greatest of the all-time greats when discussing his legacy as an individual player and career-long winner.

Michael Beasley fouls out in 10 minutes, gets standing ovation (VIDEO)

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Michael Beasley hasn’t played all that much for the New York Knicks. The journeyman forward is 10th in minutes played for the team, and is a bench contributor at this stage in his career.

Beasley appeared to be a bit overexcited to get some run late in Sunday’s win over the Atlanta Hawks, 111-107. Having played just 10 minutes in the game, Beasley quickly racked up three fouls in the span of one minute and 45 seconds.

That earned him his sixth foul — the others were picked up earlier — and a standing ovation from the Madison Square Garden crowd after his disqualification.

Via Twitter:

Support your guys, NBA fans, even if they’re out here getting DQ’d after scoring one point and grabbing two rebounds.

Kobe Bryant gave a 30-minute pep talk to the Eagles before Rams game (VIDEO)

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Kobe Bryant is just about everywhere during retirement. We’ve talked before about how his post-playing career revisionism is one of the greatest works of sports marketing currently underway.

Of course, Ol’ Bean has to take some days off from being a “storyteller” and that includes cheering on his hometown Philadelphia Eagles. Bryant was born in Philly and lived there for various parts of his childhood, of course going pro directly from Lower Merion High School, located in a nearby suburb.

So despite the return of the Los Angeles Rams, it appears that Kobe is still an Eagles fan through and through. He apparently even spoke to the Eagles for half an hour before the team practiced in California on Friday.

Bryant also gave the world a little video message.

Via Twitter:

The bummer news for Eagles fans, of course, was that it was Philadelphia QB and MVP candidate Carson Wentz who was hit high and low on Sunday, and the team fears that he has torn his ACL.

Kobe is looking pretty thick in that jersey. Maybe they should work him out and see if he can’t beat out Nick Foles for the starting job the rest of the season?

Watch Victor Oladipo score a career-high 47 points vs. Nuggets (VIDEO)

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Victor Oladipo was sent from the Oklahoma City Thunder to the Indiana Pacers along with Domantas Sabonis as part of a major trade for Paul George.

Boy, Pacers fans have got to be glad things have turned out the way they have.

Oladipo is having a career season in terms of scoring, rebounding, blocks, 3-point shooting and field goal percentage. His advanced stats look good too, as Oladipo’s efficiency per-100 possessions in many offensive categories have seen a rise to go along with his box score bump.

On Sunday, Oladipo scored a career-high 47 points in an overtime win against the Denver Nuggets, 126-116.

Oladipo’s performance was incredible, adding seven rebounds, six assists, two steals, and a block to go along with his 47 points. Oladipo shot 15-28 from the field, including 6-of-12 from 3-point range, and added 11 points from the free-throw line.

Watch the full highlights of Oladipo’s performance in the video above.

Rumor: NBA executives think Rockets have shot at signing LeBron James

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LeBron James is now rumored to be headed to about 29 NBA teams this summer when he can opt out of his current contract and become a free agent. Earlier this week, we heard rumblings that LeBron could be interested in sharing a Los Angeles Lakers roster with Dallas Mavericks center-at-large Nerlens Noel.

Now we’re hearing that NBA executives think the Houston Rockets have a chance of nabbing The King in the summer of 2018.

All aboard the Banana Boat.

According to USA Today’s Sam Amick, both the Rockets themselves and rival execs think Houston is a real landing spot for James thanks in part to how well they are playing this season. James Harden is having another MVP-caliber year, and Chris Paul has played beautifully in his return.

Via USA Today:

While James has made it clear that he won’t deliberate his uncertain future until the Cavs’ season is complete, there is strong belief in Rockets circles that they’ll have a legitimate shot at landing the four-time MVP this summer. Rival executives also believe the Rockets will have a real chance. And once you really look at it, when you get past all the noise about the Lakers and even the compelling case for the up-and-coming Philadelphia 76ers, it makes all sorts of sense.

The only team we haven’t heard connecting rumors about is the Cleveland Cavaliers themselves. LeBron — whose family lives in LA — recently bought a new house there and all signs point to James heading to the Western Conference. Well, unless he goes to the Philadelphia 76ers, of course.

Then again it felt like a certainty that LeBron would head to the New York Knicks nearly a decade ago, an idea that seems hilarious in retrospect. The NBA is weird, and if LeBron dips from Cleveland expect it to get even weirder.