Dan Feldman

Jimmy Butler tells Bulls to turn off Christmas music so he can shoot free throw (video)

6 Comments

Tired of Christmas music yet?

Jimmy Butler was when the Bulls played it during his technical free throw last night.

Heat celebrate Shaq’s impact ahead of jersey retirement

MIAMI - MARCH 7:  Shaquille O'Neal #32 of the Miami Heat reacts to tangling with Ben Wallace #3 of the Chicago Bulls on March 7, 2007 at the American Airlines Arena in Miami  Florida.  NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and/or using this Photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement.  (Photo by Eliot J. Schechter/Getty Images)
Eliot J. Schechter/Getty Images
2 Comments

MIAMI (AP) — Dwyane Wade still remembers when he initially heard the rumor that Shaquille O’Neal was coming to the Miami Heat, and how his first reaction was disbelief.

And then came the 18-wheeler that carried O’Neal to his arrival in Miami, as he happily fired a squirt gun at throngs of screaming fans.

“We had a vision to be a championship team,” Wade told The Associated Press on Wednesday, “but it wasn’t for real for real until Big Fella came and pulled up on that truck.”

A grand celebration was had on that day in July 2004, the franchise’s first of three NBA championships followed two years later, and the Heat will give O’Neal their version of an ultimate thank-you on Thursday night when they raise his No. 32 banner to the rafters. He will be the third Heat player to get such an honor, joining only Alonzo Mourning and Tim Hardaway.

“I said `I promise I’m going to bring a championship here,”‘ O’Neal said. “And we did.”

Fittingly, the Heat will fete O’Neal at halftime of a game against the Los Angeles Lakers – who have also retired his number.

“He changed the direction of our team,” Heat President Pat Riley said. “He brought an absolute legitimacy to our franchise. And when we won the championship I think it sort of took us over the top. He deserves to be honored by having his number hanging from the rafters. It’s not just out of respect. It’s because of what he did for us.”

The NBA is permitting a longer-than-usual halftime for the ceremony, in which Riley and O’Neal will be among the speakers. O’Neal won his first three titles with the Lakers, then got his fourth in Miami to make good on the promise he made when he stepped out of that truck to deliver a championship to Heat fans.

And, in a nod to that infamous arrival, the Heat will have an 18-wheeler bearing the “Diesel Power” artwork that greeted him 12 years ago at the arena.

“Big Fella in Miami changed everything,” said Wade, who’s now with the Chicago Bulls but will one day have his jersey hanging next to O’Neal’s in Miami. “Changed everything for everyone.”

O’Neal appeared in 205 regular-season games over parts of four seasons with Miami, averaging 19.6 points and 9.1 rebounds. But his impact stretched well beyond stats; he helped turn Heat games into events, and did so while not impeding Wade’s rapid rise to superstardom.

There were some well-documented troubles along the way. When Stan Van Gundy stepped down as coach in 2005, part of that decision was believed to be related to his relationship with O’Neal. And when the Heat traded him to Phoenix in 2008, O’Neal blasted Miami’s personnel – including guard Chris Quinn – along with the team’s medical and athletic training staffs.

Quinn is now an assistant coach with the Heat. And O’Neal’s jersey banner will sway next to one for Ron Culp, a revered figure in Heat history and the team’s athletic trainer from 1988 through 2008.

“It was not personal,” Riley said. “Shaq was impeccable with his word. He came down here and said `We’re gonna win a title, Coach.’ And we won a title. … No hard feelings, at all. I’m an Irishman and I forgive.”

So with that, all is forgotten, all is forgiven.

“Next to Dwyane, I’d have to say he’s probably the best teammate I ever had,” Heat captain Udonis Haslem said. “Just showing us how this NBA life works, how you can have fun and enjoy it but stay out of trouble and win games. He put so much confidence in his teammates. He really was the great Shaquille O’Neal.”

Haslem was a second-year undrafted player when O’Neal arrived, and remembers hearing that an undersized power forward like himself wasn’t the sort that would work well with a still-dominant center.

O’Neal let Haslem know right away to ignore such talk. Haslem wound up playing a huge role in Miami’s 2006 NBA Finals victory, and is still so revered by O’Neal that he wants him to join in the ovations from the crowd on Thursday night.

“The first thing when I got with Big Fella, he said, `I’ve been watching you, I like your work ethic and I can win with you,”‘ Haslem said. “A player like that has confidence in you, how could I ever question that?”

Nerlens Noel ‘got the chills real quick’ as 76ers chanted for him (video)

4 Comments

The 76ers built a roster with Nerlens Noel, Joel Embiid and Jahlil Okafor. Noel pushed back.

Philadelphia general manager Bryan Colangelo said Noel was too young to dictate terms. Noel pushed back.

The 76ers played Noel just eight minutes in a game. Noel pushed back.

Philadelphia coach Brett Brown removed Noel from the rotation and downplayed thoughts of sympathy.

This time, 76ers fans pushed back.

Jessica Camerato of CSN Philly:

On Tuesday, the crowd called out “we want Nerlens” in favor of the center making an appearance. When he checked into the game, the fans amped up their reaction to a standing ovation (see video).

Noel, as he put it, “got the chills real quick.”

“I just really want to thank the fans for how they have supported me through thick and thin this whole process, these last four years, period,” Noel said. “That meant a lot to me. It’s something I’m very appreciative of.”

Noel is seemingly becoming a symbol for the fans who’ve lost patience with The Process (Sam Hinkie’s rebuilding strategy that was so entrenched, it’s still going). But he didn’t accomplish much Tuesday, scoring four points in seven minutes in Philadelphia’s 108-93 loss to the Pelicans.

No matter how they juggle their big men, the 76ers will probably lose. There’s no easy answer here.

Noel surely appreciates the fan support. He’d probably rather just leave Philadelphia, though finding a satisfactory trade partner could be challenging.

Joe Ingles assists with halfcourt outlet pass – from his back (video)

Leave a comment

Hustle to get a steal. Gritty play to dive on the floor. Intelligence to throw the pass.

Joe Ingles is w – wonderful. He’s wonderful.

Draymond Green: New CBA doesn’t do enough for low-end players

OAKLAND, CA - NOVEMBER 09:  Draymond Green #23 of the Golden State Warriors reacts after making a shot against the Dallas Mavericks at ORACLE Arena on November 9, 2016 in Oakland, California. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement.  (Photo by Ezra Shaw/Getty Images)
Ezra Shaw/Getty Images
21 Comments

Draymond Green appeared unhappy with the new Collective Bargaining Agreement, and he revealed why he gave that impression.

He’s unhappy with the new Collective Bargaining Agreement.

The Warriors forward elaborated on his dissatisfaction with the new deal. He stressed two major points:

  • He’s not complaining on behalf of himself. He doesn’t believe he should earn more – and even indicates he, as a star, should earn less.
  • He has no issue with the Basketball Related Income split. Owners and players will continue to split revenue about 50-50.

So what are his problems?

Green, via Anthony Slater of The Mercury News:

It’s about me being frustrated for other guys. When we go in these negotiations, guys are overlooked. I think it’s more about helping these guys be in better standing than what it is for an All-Star or top two or three guys on a team. Those guys will always be taken care of.

It’s not even necessarily that it’s a higher minimum salary. There could be different structure to have not as many minimum players. Right now, there’s like a max and a minimum and a couple in between. I think there could be different structures to help those minimum guys make more and not be a minimum player.

Because without all 15 guys, yeah, you can be an All-Star, you can be a nice player. But without these guys, you can’t practice, you can’t get a sub, you can’t go through 82 games playing 48 minutes a game. If you get hurt, nobody’s there to step in for you. Every guy matters and I think every guy should be taken care of in the grand scheme of things.

My complaint is not one of everybody is not making a good living. It’s that there is a good living in this for everyone, but for some it can be better. How do we help elevate those guys who are on the lower end of the totem pole? I think that should always be a focus. That’s my argument. It’s not to come off as everybody is not living good. No. You’re living pretty good if you’re in the NBA. I don’t want someone to look at me and say that I am inconsiderate about everyone else’s life outside the NBA. I grew up in a household where my mom made $16,000 a year. I know the struggle. I know how to keep those things in perspective and I do keep it into perspective. But I do look at things in a business standpoint and I do understand how much money is going around the NBA on a year to year basis. Within that realm of how much money is going around, you can elevate those guys.”

I don’t want to be this guy that tries to raise this awareness that makes us go into a lockout and makes fans miss a game. I don’t think that’s always necessary either. At the same time, I think some guys in this league can be better taken care of. I want to be a voice for them. To help them be better taken care of.

Green is right. The new CBA definitely benefits stars.

But it also creates 60 new player jobs in the form of two-way contracts, increases minimum salaries to a historically normal percentage of revenue after they dipped this season and expands retirements benefits that are particularly important to low-paid players.

Green is directing his criticism at his fellow star players. By approving the BRI split, Green is accepting how money is divided between owners and players. He just dislikes how players will divvy up their share.

Interestingly, Golden State teammates Stephen Curry and Andre Iguodala are vice presidents in the union that helped put together the CBA, and Green is the Warriors’ player representative. But as he said, Green isn’t upset enough to oppose ratification. So, voicing his concerns can serve only as an attempt to alter the long-term paradigm.

It’s important to remember stars have already made concessions. The existence of an individual maximum salary ensures stars earn less than a free market would dictate, leaving more money for other players. That’s a practical necessity in a league where sub-star players easily outrank stars and each player gets a vote on the CBA.

Maybe highly paid players could give back more. Green obviously thinks so. But the last three CBAs have helped mediocre players at the expense of stars. The new one will continue to help mediocre players with the additional concessions coming from the middle class.