Report: Wizard’s Drew Gooden to play for Finland in World Cup

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Things I did not know before today: Drew Gooden is half Finnish. As in he has citizenship in Finland.

His father, a former professional basketball player, met his mother while playing in Finland, something he told ESPN’s Jemele Hill a few years back (hat tip to Eye on Basketball).

By the way, Finland is playing in the FIBA World Cup coming up, and it’s not exactly a country deep in high level basketball talent. So…

That is Jorge Castillo of the Washington Post confirming something ESPN’s Fran Fraschilla mentioned during the USA Basketball blue and white scrimmage on Friday night.

Gooden was waived by the Bucks after the 2013 season and was without a team last season until the Wizards gave him a couple 10-day contracts. He found a home playing with the bench group of the Wizards — his shooting helped space the floor as Andre Miller was dishing the rock — as they started to make their run last season before Nene’s return. Gooden’s game will blend well enough in international ball… plus it’s Finland. It’s not like they have a ton of better guys hanging around.

Finland, the world’s 39th ranked team, made the World Cup as one of FIBA’s “wild card” selections along with Brazil (ranked 10th), Greece (fifth) and Turkey (seventh). Finland was taken in front of China, Russia (2012 Olympic bronze medalists) and Germany (among others) for a wild card spot.

How did such a low seed vault over all those other teams to get a coveted spot? Well, they did have four wins at EuroBasket. But really it’s that they travel well and had the backing of Rovio (the makers of Angry Birds) — basically, they were going to make FIBA money at the venue.

Nice to know that FIBA has some FIFA in them. Can we expect the next basketball World Cup in Qatar?

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.