Shaq on DeMarcus Cousins’ technicals: “That’s called passion”

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DeMarcus Cousins plays physical and he plays hard. That’s going to earn him some technicals.

The problem is when Cousins thinks the calls against him are unfair (and that happens a lot) he can’t just let it go. Either he keeps going harder and retaliates against a player or he chirps at the official (if not outright gets in their face). His reputation means he doesn’t get the benefit of the doubt often, but he brings that on himself. Last season all that earned him a league-leading 16 technicals, a suspension for having more than 15, and $70,000 in fines.

Kings minority owner Shaquille O’Neal stuck up for Cousins and used another word for what is going on — passion. He likes the Cousins mean streak. That’s what he told Dime Magazine in a Q&A at Rucker Park in New York.

“I tell him, ‘be yourself and dominate.’ First of all, if you don’t put numbers up, nobody’s going to look at you. Now that people are looking at you, you have to make them respect you. Sometimes when you do crazy stuff, nobody’s going to like it. But you can’t tame that passion. I want my big man to be mean. I don’t want my big man smiling all the time, so I don’t mind. All the greatest players were angry, and they talked all the time. Charles Barkley, myself, so many others. But we also put up numbers, we were positive and did the right things in the community.

“Cousins will get technicals, he’s going to argue with the referees. That’s called passion and you never want to take a guy’s passion away. And not every guy has passion. I know, because I can give you five big guys right now who don’t have passion. I won’t tell you, but you know who they are.”

Playing a little bit angry is certainly okay, that passion just can’t overwhelm you rational judgement.

Cousins has said it before, when he feels wronged he just cannot let it go. He has to be heard, he has to react. That’s the part that he’s got to overcome (and he has improved on). It’s not how he plays the game, it’s the reaction when things don’t go his way. He doesn’t need to be Zen about it, even Kareem Abdul-Jabbar wasn’t, but you have to take that frustration and channel it back into the game.

Cousins talent is unquestioned — it’s likely to earn him a spot on Team USA this summer. But if he’s going to start leading the Kings up the ladder in the West (along with Rudy Gay) they need him on the court. Not back in the locker room, or playing carefully as to avoid another technical.

Report: Knicks to interview Kenny Smith for head-coaching job

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The Knicks are casting a wide net in their coaching search.

It’ll apparently include a familiar, though surprising, name.

ESPN:

TNT analyst Kenny Smith will interview for the New York Knicks’ head-coaching job on Friday, a source told ESPN’s Stephen A. Smith.

A quality organization, the Rockets, interviewed Smith (in 2016, before hiring Mike D’Antoni). So, this isn’t proof of the Knicks’ oddball thinking. (There are plenty of better examples, if you wish).

Steve Kerr opened the door for former players to go straight from TV to being an NBA head coach without having any coaching experience. He’s been a smash hit with the Warriors.

But Kerr was also the Suns’ general manager before Golden State hired him. Smith has no front-office experience.

So, it’s tough to judge Smith, whose role on television is more to entertain than inform (though he does both). He’ll have to really wow in his interview to get the job.

But at least he has that opportunity.

Pacers coach Nate McMillan slips and falls while arguing call (video)

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Nate McMillan slipped up in his handling of Victor Oladipo‘s early fouls during the Pacers’ Game 2 loss to the Cavaliers last night.

Then, the Indiana coach literally slipped while arguing that LeBron James should have been called for offensively fouling Lance Stephenson.

LeBron James: Reporter warned me about question on Gregg Popovich’s wife before live TV interview

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In her on-court interview with LeBron James following the Cavaliers’ Game 2 win over the Pacers last night, TNT sideline reporter Allie LaForce asked him about the death of Gregg Popovich’s wife.

LeBron appeared emotional as he gathered his thoughts.

That prompted some to criticize LaForce for ambushing LeBron on a sensitive subject on live TV. But that’s not what happened.

Uninterrupted:

LeBron:

I’m not on social media right now, but I was made aware through some friends through texts that a question was asked to me postgame, and a lot of people feel I was blindsided. That is absolutely false. Allie LaForce told me that she was going to ask the question and if it was OK.

And once I started talking about it, once we were on air, actually my emotions kind of took over. And that was just my emotions coming straight from my heart about the late Erin Popovich.

It’s unfortunate. It’s a tragic loss. My thoughts, my prayers, once again goes out to the Popovich family, to Gregg, to the Spurs family, to the whole Spurs fan base.

And also guys, please get off Allie LaForce’ back, because she followed the proper protocol and she warned me. So, get off her back, man. She’s very professional, and she does a great job at her work.

Like I said, thoughts and prayers to the heavens above. We all know the man above never makes mistakes, even when we question it. But it’s a sad, tragic time right now for the NBA family, and we’re all praying and hoping for the best.

It would have been surprising if LaForce hadn’t done that. Somewhere between nearly nobody and absolutely nobody in her position is trying to embarrass players.

PBT Extra: If Portland is going to turn series around it starts with Damian Lillard

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This was the year the Trail Blazers were going to break through. They were defending better as a team. There was some depth on offense. And Damian Lillard was playing at a level that will get him on many voters’ MVP ballots.

Instead, they are down 0-2 to Anthony Davis and New Orleans, having dropped both games at home to open the series. Portland is on the verge of being bounced in the first round for the third time in four years.

If Portland is going to turn this series around, it starts with Lillard, something I discuss in this latest PBT Extra. C.J. McCollum needs to get more buckets, Jusuf Nurkic needs to contribute more on both ends, but for Portland it all begins and ends with Lillard and it’s on him to start the turnaround.