Damian Lillard: ‘I haven’t thought about stepping away’ from USA Basketball in wake of injury to Paul George

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The horrific leg fracture suffered by Paul George at Friday night’s USA Basketball Showcase in Las Vegas has raised questions as to the future of the NBA allowing its stars to participate in international competition.

Mavericks owner Mark Cuban thinks it’s insane for league owners to risk their investments like that, and has felt that way for many years. While teams and owners may use George’s injury as a catalyst to have a serious dialogue on the subject, it remains to be seen whether or not the players themselves will have a change of heart.

Damian Lillard, who is participating in USA Basketball this summer, says that we can count him among those who have no intention of abandoning the international competition anytime soon.

From Chris Haynes of CSNNW.com:

“Any time you have superstar in this league go down like that, it’s something you don’t ever want to see again,” Lillard said to CSNNW.com via phone Saturday night. “It was tough to see, very emotional. Unreal, but out of respect for P.G. and his family, I think we just need to stay away from that topic. We don’t want them reliving that terrible incident.” …

Despite George’s gruesome leg fracture that will likely keep him out the entire 2014-15 season, Lillard says he has given thought of removing himself from consideration for Team USA’s 12-man roster headed to the World Cup in Spain at the end of the month.

“Nah, It’s a part of the game unfortunately,” he said. “It’s a risk any time you step out on the basketball court. I haven’t thought about stepping away [from Team USA]. I’ll stay in.”

Lillard’s response is extremely level-headed, especially coming so quickly after the incident that he was on the court to see happen in person.

But as Cuban and others have noted, players have nothing to risk because their NBA contracts are 100 percent guaranteed against injury — whether it happens in international play, or in a pickup game somewhere else.

Until that part changes, the majority of players already involved with USA Basketball will likely share Lillard’s stance. The only thing that might change that is players choosing to value their NBA legacies above all else.

Elfrid Payton slams chasedown block on LeBron James (VIDEO)

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LeBron James is usually the guy handing out chasedown blocks. He’s famous for them, and has carted out his signature move in the biggest moments of his career.

He’s also not used to having his own shots blocked from behind, and certainly not by opposing point guards.

Enter Elfrid Payton.

During a play halfway through the first quarter against the Orlando Magic on Thursday, LeBron was on a drive to the hole with Elfrid trailing far behind.

Thanks to a pinch by two Magic defenders, LeBron had to try and use brute force a bit deeper in the paint than he wanted to.

That allowed Payton — running at full speed — to catch up and pin The King on the glass.

Cleveland still got the best of the Magic, as Isaiah Thomas hit a clutch free throw to win the game with 11 seconds left, 104-103.

All-Star Joel Embiid doesn’t need Rihanna: “On to the next one”

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For about as long as we can remember, Joel Embiid has famously thirsted after Rihanna on Twitter. Fans have tried to boost his standing with the singer, but it apparently that has not been enough.

In 2014, Embiid mentioned on social media that a “famous girl” — presumably Rihanna — told him to “Come back when you’re an All-Star.”

Well, today is that day.

Embiid is a starter out of the Eastern Conference, and on Thursday night he had his chance to speak to Rihanna (or whomever) via national TV on TNT.

Did Embiid decide to reach out to this famous person? Apparently he’s off it.

Via Twitter:

This is like that scene from Private Parts when Howard Stern hits No. 1 and he tells Paul Giamatti’s character to get lost.

Embiid had the chance to curve Rihanna (or whomever) and took it. Long live The Process.

Here are the weirdest NBA All-Star voting results for 2018

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NBA All-Star voting is over, and now we have the results. The starters are in, and what’s left is for us to wait until they announce the teams after they are picked in double secret ceremony.

Of course, the NBA did release the full voting results via their PR website this week, and as such there are some head scratchers. My boy Patrick Redford over at Deadspin did an excellent job rounding up some of the players who got exactly one (1) vote from other players.

The gag here is that these guys presumably voted for themselves.

Of course, what I found most interesting was actually the guys who got multiple votes from their compatriots without being All-Star caliber players.

My favorite list of player-voted non-All-Stars includes: Michael Beasley (4), Gordon Hayward (2), Boban Marjanovic (2), Jahlil Okafor (4), Quincy Acy (2), Tyler Zeller (4), T.J. McConnell (2), Elfrid Payton (2), Zaza Pachulia (3), Taj Gibson (6), Zach Randolph (5), Maurice Harkless (2), Deyonta Davis (3), Lonzo Ball (9), Mike Conley (3).

There’s a whole smattering of guys in there who either didn’t play enough, aren’t stars, are injured, or who aren’t very good.

That multiple players took time to vote for these guys really speaks to the frivolity of the NBA All-Star Game. At least outside of player contract incentives.

Bring on February!

LeBron James throws behind-the-back, nutmeg pass for assist (VIDEO)

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LeBron James is one of the best passers the NBA has ever seen, but even this is too hard to believe.

During Thursday’s game between the Orlando Magic and Cleveland Cavaliers, LeBron through a ridiculous behind-the-back pass that nutmegged Orlando’s Aaron Gordon.

The result of the play was a bucket for Dwyane Wade.

Via Twitter:

I mean, that’s just … insane.