Following the first Team USA training camp practice in Las Vegas, the media scrum around Derrick Rose was bigger than anyone else — bigger than Kevin Durant (then still with the team), Coach K, everyone. It wasn’t even close. And pretty much everything was a variation of the same question:
“How are your knees feeling?”
Those questions have continued after he looked good in practice, after he missed time due to soreness, after his role has decreased from starter to coming off the bench, after limited minutes in games, after questions about if he even should really be on the team.
Rose’s reaction? Those questions aren’t going to go away no matter what he does.
That’s what Rose told Marc Stein of ESPN in Spain the day before Team USA tips off in the World Cup against Finland.
Rose is going to need to put in minutes during the tight schedule for Team USA (and every other team) the first week of the World Cup. One of Team USA’s biggest advantages is depth — the guys at the end of the roster are top NBA players (your “worst” guard is DeMar DeRozan, who is a stud). But everyone is going to have to play.
Rose is right. Come the season he could play 30+ minutes night and not miss a game and the first question after every game will be “How are your knees feeling?” Until he does it for a season and a playoffs, it will be the main question he faces. And even after that it may be the second one.
Right now we’re all trying to read the tea leaves — limited games in an unusual setting don’t provide real answers. It’s small sample size theater. What you think those exhibition friendlies say about Rose really says more about what you think of Rose’s future than anything else. Team USA may be a great place for Rose to shake off the rust and push through the pain that comes with any comeback, but nobody can read much into how he is really feeling. Anyone who says they can is selling something.
We’ll get a better sense from the World Cup tournament.
But the real answers will not come until late October. And December. And February. And beyond.
As of tomorrow, training camps around the league open, and all the focus goes to the 2016-17 season.
For fun, let’s look back one more time at last season — the 50 top circus shots of last season.
Stephen Curry driving the lane and throwing up prayers once he draws contact (and hitting them), there is Russell Westbrook throwing the inbounds pass off an opponent’s back, and so much more. Enjoy. Then let’s get on with next season.
Kevin Garnett intimidates people. In the machismo-fueled world of professional sports nobody comfortably admits they were intimidated, but in the wake of Garnett announcing his retirement, a number of players stepped forward to say exactly that. And that KG trashed talked them fearlessly.
Oklahoma City’s Steven Adams found a way to avoid that — tell KG he didn’t speak English.
Adams was lucky, KG had a reputation for going harder at foreign-born players with his trash talk and intimidation. Then again Adams is not the kind of guy prone to be intimidated.
Athletes are injecting themselves into the needed national conversation about race, violence, and policing in this nation. That has taken some very public forms, including LeBron James, Chris Paul, Dwyane Wade and Carmelo Anthony speaking at the ESPYs, and Colin Kaepernick taking a knee during the national anthem and leading others to do so. Some NBA players likely will follow Kaepernick’s lead.
Pistons coach/GM Stan Van Gundy likes seeing players speak out.
A couple of his Detroit players — Reggie Jackson and Marcus Morris — said they backed the 49ers quarterback. Here is what the never shy Van Gundy said about all of it, via Vincent Ellis of the Detroit Free Press.
“I’m encouraged by the fact of what some of those guys stood up and did at the ESPYs and had a conversation,” Van Gundy said. “I’m really proud of the fact that we have guys that not only see the problem, but want to try to do something about it…
“To me, in some ways, (police brutality is) just the most visible to focus on and it goes to deeper inequities in our criminal justice system, our education system so there’s so much to focus on,” Van Gundy said. “I think it’s great that we have players that want to be part of that conversation, and a lot of players that want to go beyond the conversation and be part of the solution.”
Van Gundy has been telling his players part of that solution is to vote.
The players union and NBA sent out a release saying they wanted to work together to create positive change, but details are still vague on what that might be. The only thing we know for sure as we head into the NBA season — with as divided a nation and election as anyone can remember as a backdrop — is that some NBA players are going to try and keep the conversation going.
It was the last game of the group stage of the 2000 Olympic basketball tournament at the Sydney Olympics, the USA was taking on France, another USA win on its way to another gold medal.
But what we all remember is this one play — Vince Carter dunking over the 7’2″ French center Frederic Weis.
Best. Dunk. Ever.
Weis was never the same.
In an impressive career — two-time All-NBA, eight-time All-Star, hours and hours of crazy highlights — this is always going to be the highlight at the top of the list. So we will use the anniversary of this dunk to look at it one more time.
Hat tip to nitramy at NBA Reddit.