Dan Feldman

CLEVELAND, OH -  JUNE 20: LeBron James #23 of the Cleveland Cavaliers hoists the trophy as he gets off the plane as the team returns to Cleveland after wining the NBA Championships on June 20, 2016 in Cleveland, Ohio. (Photo by Jason Miller/Getty Images)
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LeBron denies Ultimate Warrior shirt had anything to do with beating Golden State

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After leading the Cavaliers to the 2016 NBA title, LeBron James deplane in Cleveland wearing an Ultimate Warrior shirt.

What a perfect way to celebrate overcoming a 3-1 Finals deficit to top the 73-9 Warriors.

But LeBron says it wasn’t directed at Golden State.

LeBron, in a Q&A with Alyson Shontell of Business Insider:

Shontell: You were wearing an Ultimate Warrior shirt when you got off the plane. People loved that — well, or hated it. Be honest: Did you pack that before you won game seven? How’d you wind up wearing that shirt?

WATCH: The story behind the Ultimate Warrior T-shirt

James: Well, it’s funny because my wife bought [it earlier]. She asked me who my favorite wrestlers of all time were, and I told her Sting, “Stone Cold” Steve Austin, Ultimate Warrior, The Undertaker, and Ric Flair. Those are some of my favorite guys ever from growing up.

So, one day I get home from practice, and there are these T-shirts laying in my bedroom, and my wife purchased them from a store. I packed them all throughout the playoffs. And the shirt that I had on to come home in, I wore in Vegas, and my teammates sprayed me with Champagne. It got soaking wet, so I had to throw it in the trash, and the only other shirt I had in my bag was my Ultimate Warrior T-shirt.

Shontell: The only one?

James: That was the only one because all our bags were underneath the plane. So the only one I had was the Ultimate Warrior T-shirt that was packed in my travel luggage. And that’s what I put on. Everybody thinks it was set up that way, but it really wasn’t. It kind of worked out that way.

Shontell: But what if you had lost? That shirt would not have been on if you had lost.

James: That would have been the T-shirt I’d have had on still. Or I could have done the J.R. Smith and not worn a T-shirt.

Suuuuuure.

Thunder sign Semaj Christon after two years of controlling his NBA rights

DAYTON, OH - MARCH 18:  Semaj Christon #0 of the Xavier Musketeers drives against Desmond Lee #5 of the North Carolina State Wolfpack in the first half during the first round of the 2014 NCAA Men's Basketball Tournament at at University of Dayton Arena on March 18, 2014 in Dayton, Ohio.  (Photo by Gregory Shamus/Getty Images)
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The No. 55 pick in the 2014 NBA draft, Semaj Christon has allowed the Thunder to maintain exclusive control of his NBA rights since draft night without paying him a dime.

No more.

Christon has twice rejected the required tender, a one-year contract (surely unguaranteed at the minimum) a team must extend to keep a player’s draft rights. Once, it was to play for Oklahoma City’s D-League affiliate for a low salary. Last year, Christon likely got a raise by going overseas.

But now, the point guard from Xavier is forcing the Thunder to give him… something.

Thunder release:

The Oklahoma City Thunder signed guard Semaj Christon, it was announced today by Executive Vice President and General Manager Sam Presti.

There are two realistic possibilities for this deal:

  • The Thunder gave Christon a small guarantee as an enticement to play for their D-League affiliate after they waive him in the preseason. That money – often $25,000-$125,000 – matters greatly to a player like Christon.
  • Christon took the required tender, knowing he’d likely get waived in the preseason without receiving any salary. At least this way, he’d become an unrestricted NBA free agent. He could still go to the Oklahoma City Blue, but if he played well – as he did two years ago in the D-League – any NBA team could sign him.

The Thunder already had 15 players – the regular-season roster limit – with guaranteed salaries, including three point guards: Russell Westbrook, Cameron Payne and Ronnie Price. It’s extremely unlikely Oklahoma City makes room for Christon.

But, one way or another, he’ll be in a better situation after training camp.

Pistons assistant coach Tim Hardaway charged with drunk driving

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Former NBA All-Star and Pistons assistant coach Tim Hardaway is facing drunk-driving charges.

Jermont Terry and Derick Hutchinson of ClickonDetroit:

Court records show his blood alcohol content was .17.

These court records obtained only by Local 4 reveal back in April, Hardway was stopped and charged with “operating with high blood alcohol content.”

Hardaway is fighting the charges but until then, his driving privileges are limited. Records show he “can travel for business purpose only” and is required to use “Soberlink with testing twice a day,” in which a camera records if he’s sober.

Hardaway was a finalist for the Basketball Hall of Fame last year.

Bulls’ Nikola Mirotic says he’s ‘good’ after knee injury

RIO DE JANEIRO, BRAZIL - AUGUST 21:  Nikola Mirotic #44 of Spain reacts during the Men's Basketball Bronze medal game between Australia and Spain on Day 16 of the Rio 2016 Olympic Games at Carioca Arena 1 on August 21, 2016 in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil.  (Photo by Elsa/Getty Images)
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Only the Spurs (known for their international focus) and Jazz (built off the same front-office tree) had more 2016 Olympians than the Bulls.

Chicago sent Jimmy Butler (Team USA), Nikola Mirotic (Spain), CristianoFelicio (Brazil) to Rio. For a moment, it appeared only two of the three would return healthy.

Mirotic injured his knee when he banged it against Aron Baynes‘ in the bronze-medal game. But the Chicago forward says he’s fine.

Mirotic:

A stretch four, Mirotic will be crucial to the Bulls this season. He’s their only projected starter who’s an above-average 3-point shooter for his position.

All those spacing concerns about Rajon Rondo, Dwyane Wade and Jimmy Butler? The burden falls heavily to Mirotic to alleviate them.

This was a major injury Chicago couldn’t afford – and apparently avoided.