Pau Gasol and Marc Gasol (R) watch as th

Record 45 current NBA players to compete in FIBA World Cup

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When Paul George went down with a season-ending injury during USA Basketball’s showcase in Las Vegas, many wondered how players would react, and whether or not they might choose to sit out international play in the future, foregoing the risk while saving themselves for the rigors of the NBA season instead.

Some may indeed consider things more carefully moving forward. But just about everyone who was already committed this summer decided to stick it out, and the result is a record number of current NBA players slated to compete in the FIBA World Cup which begins on Saturday.

From the official release:

A record 45 current NBA players will be featured on national team rosters for the 2014 FIBA Basketball World Cup, up from 44 in 2010.  The tournament features a record 75 players who have played in the NBA.

The World Cup will showcase 17 former NBA draftees whose rights are currently held by NBA teams, bringing the total number of current NBA players, former NBA players and NBA draftees participating in the tournament to a record 92.

Twenty-one of 24 national teams feature at least one current NBA player, former NBA player or NBA draftee, and 22 NBA teams are represented on national team rosters.

The stars of the league might decide to skip the Worlds in future seasons, but only a handful are good enough to be selected for the Olympics, and lesser events like these are the only chance for many players to represent their respective countries in international competition.

The entire list of players with NBA experience who (as of Aug. 29) are scheduled to compete in the FIBA World Cup is reprinted below.

The following is a complete list of current NBA players on 2014 FIBA Basketball World Cup rosters: 

COUNTRY

NBA PLAYER

NBA TEAM

Argentina

Luis Scola

Indiana Pacers

Argentina

Pablo Prigioni

New York Knicks

Australia

Cameron Bairstow

Chicago Bulls

Australia

Matthew Dellavedova

Cleveland Cavaliers

Australia

Dante Exum

Utah Jazz

Australia

Brock Motum

Utah Jazz

Brazil

Anderson Varejao

Cleveland Cavaliers

Brazil

Tiago Splitter

San Antonio Spurs

Brazil

Nenê

Washington Wizards

Croatia

Bojan Bodgdanovic

Brooklyn Nets

Croatia

Damjan Rudez

Indiana Pacers

Dominican Republic

Francisco Garcia

Houston Rockets

Finland

Erik Murphy

Cleveland Cavaliers

France

Evan Fournier

Orlando Magic

France

Nicolas Batum

Portland Trail Blazers

France

Boris Diaw

San Antonio Spurs

France

Rudy Gobert

Utah Jazz

Greece

Kostas Papanikolaou

Houston Rockets

Greece

Nick Calathes

Memphis Grizzlies

Greece

Giannis Antetokounmpo

Milwaukee Bucks

Lithuania

Donatas Motiejunas

Houston Rockets

Lithuania

Jonas Valanciunas

Toronto Raptors

Mexico

Jorge Gutierrez

Brooklyn Nets

Puerto Rico

J.J. Barea

Minnesota Timberwolves

Senegal

Gorgui Dieng

Minnesota Timberwolves

Slovenia

Goran Dragić

Phoenix Suns

Spain

Pau Gasol

Chicago Bulls

Spain

Marc Gasol

Memphis Grizzlies

Spain

Ricky Rubio

Minnesota Timberwolves

Spain

José Calderon

New York Knicks

Spain

Serge Ibaka

Oklahoma City Thunder

Spain

Victor Claver

Portland Trail Blazers

Turkey

Omer Asik

New Orleans Pelicans

United States

Mason Plumlee

Brooklyn Nets

United States

Derrick Rose

Chicago Bulls

United States

Kyrie Irving

Cleveland Cavaliers

United States

Kenneth Faried

Denver Nuggets

United States

Andre Drummond

Detroit Pistons

United States

Stephen Curry

Golden State Warriors

United States

Klay Thompson

Golden State Warriors

United States

James Harden

Houston Rockets

United States

Anthony Davis

New Orleans Pelicans

United States

DeMarcus Cousins

Sacramento Kings

United States

Rudy Gay

Sacramento Kings

United States

DeMar DeRozan

Toronto Raptors

The following is a complete list of NBA free agents on 2014 FIBA World Cup rosters:

 

COUNTRY

NBA PLAYER

MOST RECENT NBA TEAM

Australia

Aron Baynes

San Antonio Spurs

Brazil

Leandro Barbosa

Phoenix Suns

Mexico

Gustavo Ayon

Atlanta Hawks

Philippines

Andray Blatche

Brooklyn Nets

Serbia

Miroslav Raduljica

Los Angeles Clippers

 

The following is a complete list of former NBA players on 2014 FIBA World Cup rosters*:

 

COUNTRY

NBA PLAYER

MOST RECENT NBA TEAM

Argentina

Walter Herrmann

Detroit Pistons

Argentina

Andres Nocioni

Philadelphia 76ers

Australia

David Andersen

New Orleans Hornets

Australia

Nathan Jawai

Minnesota Timberwolves

Brazil

Alex Garcia

New Orleans Hornets

Brazil

Marcus Vinicius

New Orleans Hornets

Croatia

Oliver Lafayette

Boston Celtics

Croatia

Damir Markota

Milwaukee Bucks

Croatia

Roko Ukic

Milwaukee Bucks

Finland

Hanno Möttölä

Atlanta Hawks

France

Mickael Gelabale

Minnesota Timberwolves

Greece

Andreas Glyniadakis

Seattle SuperSonics

Iran

Hamed Haddadi

Phoenix Suns

New Zealand

Kirk Penney

San Antonio Spurs

Puerto Rico

Carlos Arroyo

Boston Celtics

Puerto Rico

Renaldo Balkman

New York Knicks

Puerto Rico

Daniel Santiago

Milwaukee Bucks

Senegal

Hamady N’Diaye

Sacramento Kings

Serbia

Nenad Krstic

Boston Celtics

Slovenia

Uroš Slokar

Toronto Raptors

Spain

Rudy Fernandez

Denver Nuggets

Spain

Juan Carlos Navarro

Memphis Grizzlies

Spain

Sergio Rodriguez

New York Knicks

Ukraine

Pooh Jeter

Sacramento Kings

Ukraine

Slava Kravtsov

Phoenix Suns

Craig Sager and his flashy suits return to All-Star weekend

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TORONTO (AP) — The All-Star game in New York was a little less colorful last year.

Craig Sager, the TNT sideline reporter known for wearing flashy suits, missed the NBA’s annual midseason gala for the first time since he started doing them in 1988. Another bout with the leukemia he’s been battling for the last few years resurfaced, and Sager was forced to sit out while undergoing more treatments.

Sager considers the All-Star festivities the most important weekend of the season for him, and so it pained him to have to watch on television while receiving his treatments.

“It was hard for me not to be there, but I had to address my health,” Sager said. “To be able to get that in remission and be able to go through this year, it’s going to be extra special for me. I’ve really been looking forward to this a long time.”

That’s right. Sager is back for All-Star weekend in Toronto this year.

He spent the week leading up to it in Houston receiving his monthly treatment, which included a blood transfusion, to make sure he was healthy enough for the trip. Once he arrived in Canada, he was easy to spot.

“I just saw him,” Spurs coach and longtime foil Gregg Popovich said after the Western Conference team practiced on Saturday. “His suit spoke to me. It blinded me for a second.”

It’s been an emotional run for Sager, the longtime fixture at NBA games. He has needed two bone marrow transplants and still has to make those treks to Houston once a month. He has returned to the sideline for games this season and is feeling so well that he was scheduled to do both the Saturday night activities that include the 3-point shootout and the dunk contest as well as the game on Sunday.

“I feel great. Got my weight back. Got my strength back,” Sager said. “I’m back to playing golf.”

Two of his youngest children – daughter Riley and son Ryan – will be with him on the court this weekend serving as a ball boy and ball girl.

And of course, Sager will do a round with Popovich on television during a quarter break on Sunday. The two have turned the sideline interview into a passion play,

“He’s been an iconic figure in the NBA. He does a great job,” Popovich said. “His sense of humor is obvious. we have a lot of fun going back and forth with that. To have him back where he belongs, obviously we’re happy for him and his health. But for the league it’s great too, because he’s a fixture that everybody enjoys.”

Sager called the support he has received from Commissioner Adam Silver, coaches, players and fans “humbling” and said he was looking forward to coming back to his favorite event of the season.

“It’s been very uplifting, very therapeutic,” Sager said. “Very supportive on their part. That really has been very helpful to me, my treatment and my drive to get back.”

Kevin Hart, Draymond Green get in All-Star Saturday three-point shootout

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TORONTO — This is going to come up in the Golden State locker room.

Right before Klay Thompson and Stephen Curry put on a three-point shooting exhibition, actor/comedian/self-promotor Kevin Hart came out and challenged Draymond Green to a shooting contest. Green was ready to go. They did the three-point shooting contest, and Green put up a total of 12 (which would have been dead last in the actual three-point contest, for the record).

Then Hart stepped up — and tied him with 12 points.

Steve Kerr, if you’re ever looking for a lineup to go REALLY small….

Other All-Stars pay tribute to Kobe Bryant’s legacy

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TORONTO — This is Kobe Bryant‘s weekend.

In what will be his final All-Star Game, he has been an absolute rock star in Toronto — huge ovations, huge crowds (of fans and media), and cameras trained on him everywhere he goes. The weekend has been a celebration of one of the game’s all-time greats and a storied career.

Over the course of the weekend, nearly every other All-Star has been asked about Kobe and the impact he’s had both on the game and on the players, personally. For many of them, this is personal, the younger NBA players grew up idolizing him. Here are a sampling of their responses.

James Harden (Houston Rockets):
“He’s been my idol growing up, my basketball idol. Like I said, just watching him play meant everything to me. So this is his last year, and he’s going to retire, and there’s going to be no more Kobe Bryant playing basketball, it’s kind of sad. It’s kind of sad about that, but at some point he had to go.”

Kyle Lowry (Toronto Raptors):
“He’s the Michael Jordan of our era. He’s the most competitive player we’ve played against, and the thing he’s done throughout his career and the things he’s done to change the game, to motivate the players is unbelievable.”

Chris Bosh (Miami Heat):
“Kobe, this is his weekend. I know he probably would never say that or admit that, but, yeah, he’s one of the iconic players of this — greatest iconic players this league has ever had. He’s had such an imprint on our childhood. I know he had an imprint on my childhood. And then I was in that mix where I was a kid, and then I was trying to figure it out in the NBA, and next thing you know you’re competing against him. So, it’s been crazy.”

DeMar DeRozan (Toronto Raptors):
“I grew up watching the Lakers. I grew up watching him his whole career and getting a chance to have a relationship with him and kind of, you know, patterned my game after him so to speak, so definitely speaks volumes.”

Russell Westbrook (Oklahoma City Thunder):
“Me growing up in Los Angeles and being able to see Kobe, obviously he’s one of the greatest players to play the game. It was a true honor to be able to learn from him. It’s a great experience to be able to learn different things from him, not just on the floor but off the floor as well and very different experiences.”

Tyrone Lue (Coach, Cleveland Cavaliers):
“When I first got there (playing for the Lakers) he was still young. He was Kobe, but he hadn’t been a starter yet. And that third year of his career, that was my first year, Rick Fox went down, and he stepped in and took a starting role. But just seeing the film he watched all the time, the players he was talking about, the Oscar Robertsons, Michael Jordans, the Magics, he knew from day one who he wanted to be like. He knew that to be the best, you had to work hard. That’s what he did every single day. Not one day did I see him take off.”

Paul George (Indiana Pacers):
“He was just fearless. He’s a champion. To get to where you want to get to, you have to put the work in. His work ethic is one thing that he has. That’s the reason why he’s so great.”

Paul Millsap (Atlanta Hawks):
“The only thing I can remember is him always beating us when I was at Utah in the playoffs. We always had to try to overcome the Lakers and Kobe Bryant and just could never do it.”

John Wall (Washington Wizards):
“Basically, the Michael Jordan of our era is what I see with all of his dedication to the game, his competitive drive. He’s one of those guys that always wants the ball in a tough situation. No matter the circumstances, he believes in himself, no matter what.”

Aaron Gordon (Orlando Magic):
“I watched Kobe growing up and watched him in the All-Star Game. The impact he’s had on my basketball game and in my life and so many other people, it’s really big. It’s astronomical. That’s Kobe. That’s the man.”

Draymond Green (Golden State Warriors):
“He’s meant so much to the game. Growing up in the era that I did, Kobe was that guy. So to play in an All-Star Game with him, I mean, that’s special. I grew up a Kobe fan, so it’s something that’s really special.”

C.J. McCollum (Portland Trail Blazers):
“He’s had a huge impact (on me). Obviously for us, he was the Michael Jordan of our era, a guy we watched. He emulated Michael. He had a lot of the same fadeaways, sticking out his tongue, winning championships. Just a sense of self to understand exactly what it takes to be successful. So for us, he was a guy I looked up to. His work ethic, his understanding and he knew how to bounce back from losses and shooting air balls in the playoffs as a rookie to hitting game winners.”

Watch it again: Epic dunk contest duel between Zach LaVine, Aaron Gordon

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TORONTO — I am always hesitant to say a player/team/situation is one of the best of ever because the history of the NBA is filled with greats. We tend to overstate how good something current can be.  That said…

That was one of the best dunk contests ever.

Zach LaVine and Aaron Gordon put on a show for the ages. Gordon had the best dunks of the night (in my opinion), but LaVine is consistently amazing, every dunk he does is flat out ridiculous.

Officially, LaVine won. In reality, we all won. Enjoy watching it one more time.