Dan Feldman

395562 02: Former NFL star O.J. Simpson talks with one of his defense attorneys on the first day of jury selection October 9, 2001 at a Dade County courtroom in Miami, FL. Simpson, who was acquitted in 1994 in the murders of his ex-wife and her friend, is on trial for allegedly attacking a motorist in the Miami suburb of Kendall, Florida in December of 2000. If found guilty, Simpson could face up to 16 years in prison. (Pool Photo/Getty Images)
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Pat Riley story via Jeff Van Gundy: O.J. Simpson slowed Bronco chase to hear Game 5 of 1994 NBA Finals

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If you watched the fantastic documentary “June 17th, 1994,” you know O.J. Simpson’s low-speed Bronco chase coincided with Game 5 of the NBA Finals. Another excellent TV show, “The People v. O. J. Simpson: American Crime Story,” dramatizes Simpson’s car chase.

Pat Riley – who coached the Knicks against the Rockets in the 1994 Finals – apparently has a story that adds details. Jeff Van Gundy, an assistant to Riley in 1994, relayed it during ABC’s telecast of Game 4 of this year’s Finals.

Van Gundy:

That summer, Pat Riley always went back out to LA. He had a house there. And he ran into the driver of the car, A.C. Cowlings, at a car wash. They both were getting their cars detailed, and A.C. Cowlings knew Coach Riley peripherally, waved him over and proceeded to tell them the story of why they were driving so slow was, O.J. wanted them to hear the end of the game on the radio before he pulled in. And when Coach Riley told us that story, I was mesmerized by what really goes on. I could just see him having the gun to his head, saying, “Turn up the radio, A.C., so I can hear the last few minutes.”

There’s a saying in journalism: “Too good to check.” It means a story is too tantalizing to research its veracity.

It applies here.

NBA Finals will be longest since at least 1984 — ever if they reach Game 7

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CLEVELAND — If it seems like these NBA Finals have lasted awhile, there’s a reason for that.

They have.

A variety of factors led the NBA to build some extra days of rest into the schedule for this year’s title series between the Golden State Warriors and Cleveland Cavaliers. If a Game 7 is needed on Sunday night, this series would need 18 days to go from start to finish – and that would match the 1978 NBA Finals for the longest championship round in major U.S. sports history.

Even the 1989 World Series, which was interrupted by an earthquake for more than a week, didn’t take that long.

“It’s been beneficial for me for sure,” Cavaliers guard Kyrie Irving said. “I hope my teammates can say the same. That four-and-a-half-hour, four-hour flight coming from the west coast and getting adjusted to the time, it can take a toll on your body. But I love the extra day. … I know the NBA and I know the fans would like to see all of us at our best, and that extra day is beneficial.”

So the Cavs aren’t complaining.

But the Warriors aren’t exactly thrilled.

“With our team it’s `strength in numbers,”‘ Golden State’s Andre Iguodala said, with a nod to the team’s motto that touts how deep the Warriors are compared to other clubs. “So I don’t know if it goes against us being that the other team can get rest and they don’t use as many bodies. The schedule is what it is and you just better be ready to play.”

When Game 6 rolls around Thursday, it’ll be the 15th day of the series – which is how long the last seven-game finals took in 2013, between Miami and San Antonio.

The only instance of teams having one day between games was for Games 3 and 4 on June 8 and June 10. Every other game in the series is being preceded by two off days.

Warriors coach Steve Kerr says he’d prefer playing every other day.

“I understand we’re doing this to stretch it out and have more media sessions or whatever,” Kerr said. “But I just think every other day is the way it should be.”

This series is already assured of matching the longest in the NBA since the 1984 Finals, which went 17 days and had two long early breaks before going to an every-other-day format later in the series. The first 10 days of that series between the Boston Celtics and Los Angeles Lakers saw only three games played, while four games and three cross-country flights were squeezed into the final seven days.

The NBA went to the 2-3-2 system instead of the 2-2-1-1-1 for the finals a year later. It brought back 2-2-1-1-1 for the finals in 2014, and tinkered with that formula for the extra rest this year.

“You allow guys to get rest, you allow guys to get recovery, which in turn allows us to put a better game on the court,” Cleveland’s Richard Jefferson said. “It allows us to play at a higher level.”

 

Kings unveil new uniforms (video)

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The Kings are moving into a new arena. They have a new logo.

And now they have new uniforms.

The above video shows them, and the team’s official site has more details.

The home and road uniforms are somewhat similar to the previous versions, but everything – the lettering, numbers and striping – is much more simple. That’s a major improvement from the wonky designs of recent years.

Sacramento will have another all-purple uniform in addition to the road uniform, and the major difference is having “SAC” vs. “KINGS” across the front (and the additional revenue from selling more jerseys).

The eye-catching addition is a black alternate with a pattern of curvy lines designed after the S in Sacramento’s flag. I’m not the biggest fan, because the gray waves look substantially different outside the flag’s other elements, and the flag has only one S as opposed to hundreds interlocking. They look better from a distance, and the cover of Ss might grow on me..

And, of course, the Kings kept the baby-blue throwbacks – a good and easy decision.

Overall, the new uniforms don’t stand out. For the Kings, that’s progress.

Now, about a new culture

Report: J.R. Smith opting out of Cavaliers contract

OAKLAND, CA - JUNE 13:  J.R. Smith #5 of the Cleveland Cavaliers goes up for a shot in front of Harrison Barnes #40 of the Golden State Warriors in Game 5 of the 2016 NBA Finals at ORACLE Arena on June 13, 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)
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J.R. Smith could’ve made $6,399,750 this season. Instead, he opted out of his contract and is making just $5 million this year on his new deal.

Smith could make $5,375,000 next season if he exercises his player option. This time…

Chris Haynes of Cleveland.com:

Cleveland Cavaliers sharpshooter J.R. Smith will allow his player option deadline of June 16 to pass in order to become a unrestricted free agent this summer, league sources informed cleveland.com.

Smith should get a raise this time. The salary cap is skyrocketing, and Smith has another season of steady focus and production under his belt. He isn’t having the finest Finals, but his defense has improved over a larger sample.

I’d bet on the Cavaliers re-signing him. They won’t have enough cap space to get a better alternative, and they can use Smith’s Bird Rights to exceed the cap.

Also important: Smith now shares an agent, Rich Paul, with LeBron James. That’s a major difference from last year.

Report: Chinese draft prospect Zhou Qi agrees to buyout that will let him join NBA in 2017

PERTH, AUSTRALIA - MAY 29:  Lucas Walker of Australia drives to the basket against against Qi Zhou of China during the 2014 Sino-Australia Challenge match between Australia and China at Challenge Stadium on May 29, 2014 in Perth, Australia.  (Photo by Paul Kane/Getty Images)
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There’s plenty to like about Zhou Qi.

He’s tall (7-foot-2) and long (7-foot-6.5 wingspan). He has a nice feel for blocking shots. His touch with the ball adds intrigue.

But he’s reportedly signed in China for five more years.

At least there’s now a solution to that problem.

Jonathan Givony of Yahoo Sports:

Seven-footer Zhou Qi has reached an agreement with his Chinese team, the Xinjiang Flying Tigers, that will allow him to buy out his contract and join the NBA in 2017, his agent, Alex Saratsis, told The Vertical.

After much back and forth, Zhou’s representation in China and the U.S. secured a buyout that will allow him out of his contract at the conclusion of next season for the maximum league mandated amount permitted, which is $675,000. With that hurdle now past him, Zhou will look to find an NBA team that will guarantee to select him in a favorable spot, likely in the first round, with the knowledge that he will join the franchise after an additional year of seasoning in China.

Zhou is rail thin. He needs to add so much strength, anyway, teams probably won’t mind stashing him for a year. Some might prefer he progress under their trainers and nutritionists, but it’s probably not a deal breaker.

He’s a borderline first-round pick, though that’s a range with a lot of variance this year. Someone could snag him in the teens, or he could fall well into the second round.

A team with multiple draft picks might even prefer his delayed timeline for joining the NBA. Looking at you Celtics, 76ers and Suns.