Dan Feldman

SPRINGFIELD, MA - AUGUST 8:  David Stern is hugged by Earvin 'Magic' Johnson  during the 2014 Basketball Hall of Fame Enshrinement Ceremony at Symphony Hall on August 8, 2014 in Springfield, Massachusetts. (Photo by Jim Rogash/Getty Images)
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David Stern: Another NBA player besides Magic Johnson, diagnosed after retiring, contracted HIV during my tenure

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Yesterday was the 25th anniversary of Magic Johnson retiring due to HIV.

In his famous press conference, Johnson addressed leaving the Lakers as David Stern sat at his side.

Stern, who served as NBA commissioner from 1984-2014, said this wasn’t his only experience of learning a player tested positive for HIV.

Bill Oram of The Orange County Register:

Stern said he knew of one other NBA player to contract HIV during his tenure as commissioner, but that the diagnosis came after the player’s career ended, was not made public, and that the player has since died.

If another player tested positive for HIV, Stern said, the public might not even know about it

“There’s not necessarily a reason to announce,” he said, “and if you asked me do I think that amongst all of the professional athletes in the country or the world, whether there are other HIV positive athletes, I think there probably are.”

It is a sign of the progress Johnson has fought for that a player could keep his medical issues private if he so chose.

Mark Cuban offered to let ESPN host Mavs.com content, reporters fly on team plane

DALLAS, TX - MARCH 01:  Mark Cuban of the Dallas Mavericks during the first half at American Airlines Center on March 1, 2016 in Dallas, Texas.   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 Ronald Martinez/Getty Images)
Ronald Martinez/Getty Images
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The Mavericks revoked the credentials of two ESPN reporters, Tim MacMahon and Marc Stein.

Dallas owner Mark Cuban said he’s trying to prevent media companies from using computer-generated content rather than human-written stories – which doesn’t pass the smell test. Cuban wants humans rather than computers creating articles, so he removed access for two humans?

This probably reveals more about Cuban’s actual motives.

Tim Cato of SB Nation:

Cuban pointed to the lack of coverage on ESPN’s Dallas Mavericks home page after the team’s season opener in Indiana, a game which MacMahon missed for a trip to Memphis (where Chandler Parsons went after leaving the Mavericks this summer).

“When a fan goes to a Mavs page and the only coverage is a wire service or eventually an automated summary, one highlight and a tweet, that hurts all stakeholders,” Cuban wrote.

Cuban has offered to fly ESPN reporters on the team plane to cut costs, something the Dallas Morning News currently does. He also said he suggested ESPN host Mavs.com content during games they couldn’t cover in person. Cuban said ESPN rejected both ideas. (An ESPN spokesperson declined to comment when asked for confirmation.)

A fan getting bare-bones Mavericks coverage from ESPN doesn’t hurt all stakeholders. It hurts the Mavericks, Cuban and Mavericks fans. But it doesn’t hurt ESPN, which has finite resources and is more often directing them away from Dallas and toward teams that generate more interest.

The Mavericks (1-5) have gotten bad and dull. It’d be great to cover all their games in detail, which MacMahon did in prior seasons. But ESPN has determined his writing could be more useful elsewhere.

Essentially, Cuban’s interests and ESPN’s previously overlapped more. Now that they’re less aligned, Cuban is agitating to get his way – even if it means spiting himself in the short-term.

It won’t work.

His idea of ESPN hosting Mavs.com content is a non-starter. Despite a TV contract with the league that creates conflicts of interest, ESPN has developed a brand based on more independent coverage than simply running propaganda written by someone paid by Cuban.

In the same vein, accepting a team-provided flight is probably a bridge too far for ESPN. Many media outlets refuse gifts from people they’re covering, and a free flight crosses that line for ESPN. That a credential – essentially free entry to an event that costs others hundreds of dollars – doesn’t cross the line shows how arbitrary these lines can be. But ESPN has to set its standard somewhere.

ESPN wants its reporter, MacMahon, to sometimes cover the Mavericks and sometimes cover other teams. (Stein, who is Dallas-based but has long focused nationally, is mostly just caught in the crosshairs.) Cuban wants an ESPN reporter to cover the Mavericks exclusively.

Cuban’s solution? Make it as difficult as possible for an ESPN reporter to cover the Mavericks at all.

Again, it won’t achieve Cuban’s desired outcome.

The Mavericks are not enough of a draw to demand more coverage. It’d be far easier to cover them less given the impediments to finding interesting storylines, though I still expect ESPN to cover Dallas a reasonable amount.

I also expect Cuban, with pressure from the league office and other media, to eventually acquiesce. The bigger question is just how much coverage he costs his team in the interim.

Paul George fined $15,000 for kicking ball into stands

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Pacers star Paul George is pretty frustrated.

This might make him feel a littler better.

NBA release:

Indiana Pacers forward Paul George has been fined $15,000 for kicking the ball into the spectator stands, it was announced today by Kiki VanDeWeghe, Executive Vice President, Basketball Operations.

The incident, for which George was assessed a technical foul and ejected, occurred with 1:42 remaining in the third quarter of the Pacers’ 111-94 win over the Chicago Bulls on Nov. 5

I’m a little surprised George wasn’t suspended considering the ball hit a fan.

I believe George didn’t intend to hit the fan, but that’s what happened. George invited that unfortunate outcome by recklessly kicking the ball.

George might not be thrilled to lose $15,000, but the fine is deserved. I suspect he’ll be happier he can remain on the court and help get the Pacers back on track.

Pacers’ Paul George: ‘There’s no trust, there’s no chemistry, there’s no belief. We’re kind of just lifeless right now’

CHARLOTTE, NC - NOVEMBER 07:  Paul George #13 of the Indiana Pacers reacts to a call during their game against the Charlotte Hornets at Spectrum Center on November 7, 2016 in Charlotte, North Carolina. 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 Streeter Lecka/Getty Images)
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Paul George entered the season talking about winning MVP, challenging LeBron James for Eastern Conference supremacy and the Pacers scoring 115 points per game

It took fewer than five games for George to be so frustrated, he kicked a ball that hit a fan.

Indiana’s latest setback, a 22-point loss to the Hornets, has George fuming.

George , via Nate Taylor of IndyStar:

“We’re all out of whack,” George said. “There’s no trust, there’s no chemistry, there’s no belief. We’re kind of just lifeless right now.”

It’s worth taking a step back. The Pacers are 3-4, hardly debilitating. Indiana had high expectations after Larry Bird revamped the team, but 3-4 isn’t that bad, and neither is a one-game losing streak.

Still, the Pacers have shown structural problems that should concern them. Point guard Jeff Teague has struggled mightily after Indiana traded George Hill for him, and that’s handcuffing the offense. The defense is bad at everything but forcing turnovers, though at least that risk-taking strategy generates fastbreak points.

Solving these issues won’t be easy. For now, the Pacers should hope they stay afloat in the playoff race while they address their deficiencies, and so far they’re doing that. It’s not nearly time to panic yet – unless the competitive George is doing more than overreacting to a small sample of mediocrity. If he sees deeper problems that we don’t and is referring to those, Indiana could be in store for hard times.

But I tend to think this is more likely about expectations and George’s perfectionism. That said, even if that’s the case, he can’t let his dissatisfaction lead to a toxic culture. He must help his teammates channel it into improvement.

Josh Smith signs in China

joshsmith
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As training camps opened, 12-year NBA veteran Josh Smith clearly stated his goal – to remain in the NBA. Smith, via Shams Charania of Yahoo Sports:

“My main goal is that I am an NBA player,” Smith said. “Being able to go overseas, people are professional, but the NBA is what I have built myself to do. I’m still hungry. If I jumped to leave my NBA chances behind, I feel it would’ve been an act of desperation.

About that…

Asia-Basket:

Defending champion Sichuan Blue Whales (CBA) agreed terms with 31-year old American forward Josh Smith

This wasn’t an act of desperation. This was an act of reality.

NBA rosters are full, and nobody seems to have much interest in Smith. He’s on the wrong side of 30, too often a pain in the locker room and coming off a dismal season. He was forgettable with the Clippers aside from a heated argument with an assistant coach then just lousy with the Rockets after a midseason trade. That he couldn’t recreate any success in Houston, where he was up and down in 2014-15, is telling. Remember, he became a free agent to join the Rockets in 2014 only after the Pistons ate an unprecedented amount of salary to waive him outright.

Smith will try to build a case for joining the NBA after the Chinese Basketball Association season ends in the spring. Roster dynamics could be more favorable to him then. He’ll also earn some money in the interim.

I wouldn’t rule out Smith playing in the NBA again. Not even close. But there’s a reason he’s not in the league right now.