The NBA’s plan to put gold tags on the back jerseys for all franchises with NBA championships seems sort of cool and mostly inconsequential.
But it did lead to one big question: Will the Oklahoma City Thunder honor the 1979 Seattle SuperSonics’ NBA championship?
For the most part, the Thunder have built their own identity in Oklahoma City, a strategy made easier by heavy roster turnover around the time of the 2008 move. But might ignoring the title be seen as a(nother) slight to Seattle?
There’s no perfect way to handle this. Which way will the Thunder go?
Cody Stavenhagen of The Oklahoman:
Christopher Arena — the NBA’s vice president of outfitting, identity and equipment — told The Oklahoman in a phone interview Monday the Thunder will not honor the Seattle SuperSonics’ 1979 NBA title with the league’s new championship tags.
This is the right move.
The Thunder, after an acrimonious split with Seattle, have distanced themselves from their Sonics legacy. I bet Oklahoma City would even give a new Seattle franchise, if there ever is one, the Sonics’ history and records, a la New Orleans and the Hornets.
If Seattle would have gotten a new team before Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook led the Thunder to a championship, would they have removed the gold tag? That would have been ridiculously awkward. Better to just avoid the problem now.
When the team wins a title in Oklahoma City, add the gold tag. Until then, save it for the next Seattle franchise.
The Cavaliers think they were close to trading for Paul George, a text message away from completing a three-team trade with the Pacers and Nuggets that would have sent Kevin Love to Denver.
But Cleveland could’ve ensured itself George, whom Indiana ultimately dealt to the Thunder. All the Cavs had to do was send Kyrie Irving to the Pacers.
Brian Windhorst and Zach Lowe of ESPN on The Lowe Post podcast:
- Windhorst: “I know that around the draft and in the Paul George talks, the Cavs were not willing to make Kyrie Irving available for Paul George.”
- Lowe: “We can say on this podcast: The Pacers offered Paul George for Kyrie Irving. That’s a thing that happened, according to people that we’ve talked to.”
- Windhorst: “Multiple times.”
Even if the Cavaliers knew of Irving’s unhappiness – maybe they did, or at least should have – while George was still in Indiana, this would have been a bad trade for them.
Irving is locked up for two more years, and George is on an expiring contract. That simply makes Irving more valuable than George, who – like LeBron James – could have walked in a year. George is ineligible for a reasonable contract extension, and there’s so much buzz about him joining the Lakers.
Now, if the Cavs were more on top of Irving’s trade request when George were still available, maybe they would have more aggressively tried to bridge the gap. Perhaps, Indiana could have sent another player or draft pick.
But Cleveland shouldn’t be kicking itself over not dealing Irving for George straight up.
LeBron James reportedly wants to fight Kyrie Irving over the guard’s trade request.
But sometimes, people continue to work with those whom they dislike. LeBron partnered with Cavaliers owner Dan Gilbert again and again, after all.
Might LeBron realize keeping Irving is Cleveland’s best chance to win another title? Could LeBron put personal feelings aside in that pursuit?
Joe Vardon of Cleveland.com:
Irving has asked for a trade and James is eager to see him off.
This might explain why the Cavs appear so gung-ho about moving Irving. LeBron usually gets what he wants in Cleveland, especially in a contract year.
It’s not too late for LeBron and Irving to reconcile until a trade is completed, but with LeBron welcoming Derrick Rose, they just move further from that possibility.
Damian Lillard was making the rounds on a media tour Monday, and at virtually each and every stop he was asked about Kyrie Irving and Carmelo Anthony. We told you about Lillard’s recruiting pitch to Anthony.
One of his stops was with one of my favorite radio shows, Bill Reiter’s Reiter Than You on CBS Radio. Lillard talked about what players owe teammates when they try to push their way out of town.
“You owe your teammates first because those are the guys that you spend the most time around that you have relationships with, more so than anybody else,” Lillard said. “And also the fans because they are part of your team. They’re the people that come and cheer for you and support you as much as anybody. So I think they’re the two groups of people that you owe the truth. They deserve to know the truth in where you stand and what your plans are.”
Hard to argue with that.
Of course, honesty can lead to some bad blood. If Kyrie Irving went to his teammates and the fans in Cleveland and said, “Look, LeBron James is leaving in a year, and I don’t want to be the guy holding the bag, so I’m forcing my way out while I can” how would that go over? It’s the truth — or maybe the largest part of the truth, there is never just one thing — but it would rub a lot of people the wrong way. And Irving would get roasted in the media (more than he is already).
It sounds good to be honest, and a lot of guys try, but they have talked themselves into that narrative before they sell it everywhere else. Everything is spin, to a degree.
By now we have all seen Golden State Warriors shooting guard Klay Thompson brick that dunk attempt in China, right?
Here is the link to the video if you haven’t seen it.
Well, teammate Stephen Curry was also in China this week and decided to do a little mocking of Thompson’s missed dunk for the crowd.
It was all in good fun, and of course we all know about the Warriors team culture. Glad that Curry and Thompson can jab at each other like this.