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Book: LeBron James tweeted about doing other activities to cover for watching Warriors last season

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LeBron James has long downplayed a Cavaliers-Warriors rivalry, not wanting to compare the teams or acknowledge the glaring pettiness between them.

Yet, Golden State practically became appointment viewing last season. The Warriors marched toward 73 wins (breaking the Bulls’ 72-win record), and matchups the Spurs (who’d finish with an even better point difference per game than Golden State) were particularly anticipated.

Not that LeBron seemed to care.

While the Warriors were blowing out San Antonio in January, LeBron tweeted:

As Golden State toppled the Spurs in April, LeBron tweeted:

But LeBron apparently did care.

Return of the King” by Brian Windhorst and Dave McMenamin:

He didn’t like admitting he was keeping such a close eye on the Warriors, to do so would give them a bit of a mental edge. In fact, as the season unfolded, he sometimes posted on social media during Warriors games, commenting about shows or movies he was watching as if to imply he didn’t care about Golden State. It was all a cover; he cared deeply.

James knew Kobe Bryant was going to retire before Bryant made the official announcement in late November. When James came back after home games or on off nights after his kids went to bed or he was on the road in a hotel, he wanted to watch Bryant play in those West games that started at 10:30 p.m. He wanted to savor Bryant’s final days and even take some notes—someday that would be him on the swan song.

But he couldn’t help himself. His eyes would wander to the channel with the Warriors game. What were they doing? Often it was blasting another opponent, their drive both impressive and depressing to James. Whether it was their continuity, their talent, or their desire to shut people up about the “lucky” narrative, they were playing together like a philharmonic. Late in those nights James couldn’t help but compare, and he didn’t like how the Cavs were measuring up.

This context makes it even more interesting how LeBron occasionally blurted out concerns the Warriors – saying they looked hungrier than Cleveland and were the healthiest team he’d ever seen.

LeBron’s (attempted-to-be-quiet) obsession with the Warriors paid off with a legendary individual Finals and Cavs championship.

Will LeBron hit the right notes again this year?

Disclosure: I received a promotional copy of “Return of the King.”

Raptors’ DeMar DeRozan fined $15,000 for criticizing referees

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The Raptors lost to the Warriors on Saturday, and DeMar DeRozan – despite his own brilliant performance – was irked.

The Toronto guard seemed particularly upset about a review of an out-of-bounds call in the final seconds. After initially giving the ball to the Raptors, officials said it touched DeRozan while he was out of bounds and granted Golden State possession:

The NBA’s replay guidelines say (emphasis mine): “Referees can only initiate a review on a called out-of-bounds play (for example, not one where an out-of-bounds might have occurred) and only those involving doubt as to which player caused the ball to go out (not those, for example, where a player stepped on the line).”

DeRozan

I mean, it’s frustrating being out there feeling like you playing 5-on-8. It’s just what it feel like, period. Some of them calls was terrible, period.

I thought you couldn’t even do that. I’m not even a referee, and I know that rule. So, somebody correct me if I’m wrong.

The NBA corrected him in the two-minute report, saying “After communicating with the Replay Center, the ruling on the floor of Raptors possession is overturned and the Warriors are awarded possession because the ball touches DeRozan’s (TOR) leg while his body is out of bounds before Curry (GSW) knocks the ball out. Referees were able to review two aspects of this out-of-bounds play since they were part of the same sequence.”

Then, the league fined him.

NBA release:

Toronto Raptors guard DeMar DeRozan has been fined $15,000 for public criticism of the officiating, it was announced today by Kiki VanDeWeghe, Executive Vice President, Basketball Operations.

The comments were made following the Raptors’ 127-125 loss to the Golden State Warriors on Saturday, Jan. 13

Saying “5-on-8” seems to be a secret code word for getting fined. I’m not sure whether the rest of DeRozan’s comments would have gotten him fined, but that phrase almost certainly did him in.

Kyle Lowry on plan to meet Ben Simmons after ejections: ‘Put it this way, I was back there’

AP Photo/Rich Schultz
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As Kyle Lowry and Ben Simmons were ejected late in the 76ers’ win over the Raptors yesterday, the players appeared to challenge each other to meet in back.

Lowry eagerly left the court and headed through the tunnel. Simmons appeared much more reluctant at that point.

Despite a report of a confrontation in the hallway, Simmons said nothing escalated, as he went to his locker room.

Michael Grange of Sportsnet

TKO.

Warriors complained of no hot water in showers in Cleveland

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The Cavaliers are clearly frustrated.

Did someone in Cleveland take out that frustration on the Warriors after they beat the Cavs last night?

Chris Haynes of ESPN:

Players were complaining about there being no hot water in the visiting locker room showers. When they walked in, they could be heard screaming in discomfort. Most of the players emerged shivering from taking a quick wash-off.

“Man, they got to do something in ‘The Q.’ Somebody call Bron!” Kevin Durant yelled, referring to LeBron James.

No one seemed angry; the situation was more humorous.

That’s the right approach. Whenever the hot water is out in a visiting locker room, the finger is pointed at the home team for sabotage. Sometimes, heating systems just fail.

Giannis Antetokounmpo assists fastbreak dunk with football-style long snap (video)

AP Photo/Nick Wass
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Giannis Antetokounmpo is scoring more in the post, the basketball analogue of football’s trenches.

Apparently, he’s taking the comparison to the next level.

In the Bucks’ win over the Wizards yesterday, Antetokounmpo played the part of a long-snapping center to set up Khris Middleton in transition.

NBC Sports Washington: