Author: Brett Pollakoff

Randy Foye, Arron Afflalo

Blazers’ Arron Afflalo hits the corner three to beat halftime buzzer (VIDEO)

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This was just some beautiful execution by the Blazers to end the first half of Saturday night’s win over the Nuggets.

They had just 2.5 seconds to inbound the ball and go the length of the floor to get a shot off, and they made it look all too easy.

The pass was on point, and Nicolas Batum wasted no time in getting it to Arron Afflalo in the corner, who calmly drained the open three before the buzzer sounded.

Enes Kanter rips Jazz, calls his time there a ‘three-and-a-half-year frustration’; gets booed by fans

Utah Jazz v Los Angeles Lakers

The Thunder traded Reggie Jackson at the deadline, as part of a three-team deal with the Pistons and the Jazz that sent Enes Kanter back to OKC.

We knew Jackson was disgruntled.

But after the Thunder’s shootaround Saturday in Utah, we now know that Kanter was similarly displeased with his previous situation.

From Aaron Falk of The Salt Lake Tribune:

“I think it wasn’t just a one- or two-game frustration; it was a three-and-a-half-year frustration,” Kanter said.

Asked what those frustrations were, Kanter responded: “I would say almost everything.”

Kanter admitted that he “didn’t bring it every night” on the basketball court while with the Jazz and said he has enjoyed a revitalization since joining the Thunder.

“I think the difference is probably I like playing basketball there,” Kanter said. “That’s the most important thing. Never liked playing basketball before in my NBA career. That’s my first time I start like playing basketball there, for my team, for the fans, for my teammates, for coaches, everybody. That’s the first time.”

There’s a lot to digest with what he said, and without specifics, it’s difficult to begin to take sides.

Kanter is being honest that he’s far happier with the Thunder, but it’s unclear as to exactly the reasons why. OKC has a track record of recent success, while the Jazz struggled in every season Kanter was there.

His per-game averages since coming to OKC are career-bests: 17.6 points and 10.8 rebounds, to go along with 56.7 percent shooting in 16 total appearances. But the lineup data shows the team is better with Kanter off the court than it is while he’s on.

We want athletes to give candid answers when asked questions like these, so I don’t have a problem with anything Kanter said. Jazz fans obviously see things differently, however, so it wasn’t a surprise when he was booed Saturday night in Utah the moment he took the floor.

Michael Jordan hits step-back jumper while playing pickup hoops with Tom Brady (VIDEO)

Michael Jordan

On the anniversary date of two of Michael Jordan’s most iconic NBA performances, it’s only fitting he hit the court to show some friends that he’s still got it.

Jordan was spotted in the Bahamas playing some pickup ball with New England Patriots quarterback Tom Brady and professional golfer Keegan Bradley, and in the one brief video glimpse we get of the action, Jordan (of course) drains the step-back jumper, and calls for the and-1 in the process.

20 years ago today, Jordan had his famous “Double Nickel” game at Madison Square Garden, where he dropped 55 points in a win over the Knicks.

(Jordan Brand even released a remastered retro version of the Jordan X sneaker today to commemorate the occasion.)

25 years ago today, Jordan scored a career-high 69 points in a win over the Cavaliers.

[via Barstool Sports]

Lakers coach Byron Scott says opposing players have told him during games they’d ‘love to be in L.A. next year’

Byron Scott

The Lakers have never been shy about their stated plan to quickly rebuild the team into one that can contend for a title. The problem has been that no star-level free agents have been willing to cooperate as of yet.

L.A. watched players like Dwight Howard and Pau Gasol leave for greener pastures, and were unable to lure others like Carmelo Anthony away, despite having the necessary cap space last summer to sign a max-level player to the roster.

Byron Scott believes that may change very quickly, specifically because players have told him they want to play for him next season — and have done so while competing against the Lakers during games this year.

From Mark Medina of the Los Angeles Daily News:

“You have a lot of free agents out there who would love to play for us. They’ve been making it pretty clear,” Scott said. “You have guys during the games come by the bench saying, ‘Hey Coach, I would love to be in L.A. next year.’ That makes you feel good there are players out there that want to be here. I think a lot of it has to do with the fact that we’re taking it in a different direction. They know this organization and the history of the organization is going to be back.”

Scott would not name any candidates because of tampering rules. Nor would Scott disclose how many potential free agents expressed those sentiments to him during games. But the direct and indirect feedback from those players prompted Scott to express confidence.

There’s plenty to chew on, here, but most of it doesn’t translate into anything tangible — at least not yet.

We don’t know the level of talent of the guys Scott is referring to, and we also don’t know what their salary requirements might be, whether or not they’re restricted free agents (making them far more difficult to acquire), and whether those in the Lakers front office would even be interested, for a variety of reasons.

It is a positive that guys have reached out, however, and the way the last few summers have gone for this franchise, that’s at least a place to start.

NBA, Pacers issue statement in response to Indiana’s Religious Freedom Restoration Act law

Adam Silver

The NBA and the Indiana Pacers released a joint statement on Saturday in regard to the Religious Freedom Restoration Act that was recently signed into law in Indiana.

The official release:

“The game of basketball is grounded in long established principles of inclusion and mutual respect.  We will continue to ensure that all fans, players and employees feel welcome at all NBA and WNBA events in Indiana and elsewhere.”

Additionally, Pacers owner Herb Simon stated:

“The Indiana Pacers, Indiana Fever and Bankers Life Fieldhouse have the strongest possible commitment to inclusion and non-discrimination on any basis.  Everyone is always welcome at Bankers Life Fieldhouse.  That has always been the policy from the very beginning of the Simon family’s involvement and it always will be.”

The reason for the release is that the legislation has been widely criticized as one that could legalize discrimination.

From the Huffington Post:

Indiana Gov. Mike Pence (R) quietly signed legislation Thursday that could legalize discrimination against lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender individuals.

The Religious Freedom Restoration Act would allow any individual or corporation to cite its religious beliefs as a defense when sued by a private party. But many opponents of the bill, which included business leaders, argued that it could open the door to widespread discrimination. Business owners who don’t want to serve same-sex couples, for example, could now have legal protections to discriminate.

This was a smart decision by the league to take a proactive approach, and make it publicly clear that it won’t be a part of anything that is discriminatory in nature — no matter what the law allows.