Author: Dan Feldman

NEW YORK, NY - FEBRUARY 15: John Wall (L) #2 of the Washington Wizards  and the Eastern Conference talks with Kyrie Irving (R) #2 of the Cleveland Cavaliers and the Eastern Conference during the 2015 NBA All-Star Game at Madison Square Garden on February 15, 2015 in New York City.  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 Elsa/Getty Images)
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John Wall on ranking fifth among Eastern Conference guards in All-Star voting: ‘It’s a joke’

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John Wall started his first All-Star game last season, but he slipped significantly this year’s first voting leaderboard. The top 10 Eastern Conference guards:

Wall, via J. Michael of CSN Mid-Atlantic:

“It’s a joke” Wall, who didn’t make one mention of his strained right ligament in his knee, bruise on the same knee, high right ankle sprain and bone spur, told CSNmidatlantic.com after his 15th double-double. “I played like horseshit the first month and a half but I still was averaging like 16 and eight. That’s not bad numbers.”

“I guess it’s the record. No offense Kyrie, he’s played (three) games,” Wall said. “If he was healthy he probably would be in that position because he’d be playing well. I can see him there because that’s how talented he is.”

My criteria for choosing All-Stars differs from most. I’d pick whichever players would be most likely to help a team win that day. So, the fact that Irving has played just three games wouldn’t harm his candidacy in my book. (Judging which players have had the best seasons — which very much includes availability — should be for All-NBA teams.)

That said, I can see why Wall is upset. He has played every game, sometimes through injury, this season. Meanwhile, Irving (not by his own accord) has taken his time returning. Wall, reasonably, wants to be rewarded his that.

For now, I’d choose him over Irving, who’s still getting his legs under him. But that could easily change by the All-Star game, as Irving should only continue to improve.

Passing Wall doesn’t mean I’d vote Irving to start, though. It’s difficult to find a reasonable set of criteria where I wouldn’t pick Lowry and Butler right now. They’ve been awesome this season, and I think it’s sustainable. Irving has the talent to top one of those two, but he has major work cut out for himself.

Likewise, Wall faces a tough road just to make the game as a reserve. He remains a very good player, but he’s turning the ball over too much and defending worse than last season. Not that I’d pin the Wizards’ 14-14 record on him, but that’ll make it harder for him to beat players like Wade (if he somehow loses his hold on the starting spot), DeRozan, Thomas and Reggie Jackson. Even using my criteria – which doesn’t directly reward team record at all – at least a couple of those players rank ahead of Wall.

The exact order might be a little off, but Wall ranking fifth among Eastern Conference guards in All-Star voting seems closer to right than a “joke.”

If you’re a Comcast subscriber in Washington, you can stream tonight’s Wizards-Clippers game here.

George Karl cuts off press conference: ‘I’m done. I’m frustrated’

WASHINGTON, DC - DECEMBER 21: Head coach George Karl of the Sacramento Kings  looks on in the second half of their 113-99 loss to the Washington Wizards at Verizon Center on December 21, 2015 in Washington, DC. 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 Rob Carr/Getty Images)
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George Karl was in a pretty foul mood after the Kings’ 98-94 loss to the Trail Blazers yesterday.

Sacramento committed 23 turnovers and blew a double-digit lead – to a team missing Damian Lillard.

Karl was despondent throughout his post-game press conference. After talking talking about his team’s miscues, the Kings coach declared “I’m done. I’m frustrated” and left:

Karl’s frustration was evident in his answers to earlier questions:

It’s not Karl’s words so much as the sounds he made between them. This is the stuff nightmares are made of:

Who would’ve thought coaching a team with DeMarcus Cousins (five turnovers) and Rajon Rondo (eight turnovers) would be so trying for a coach?

If you’re a Comcast subscriber in Northern California, you can stream tonight’s Kings-Warriors game here.

Russell Westbrook dances himself into zone before Thunder-Nuggets game (video)

at Staples Center on December 23, 2015 in Los Angeles, California.  NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this Photograph, user is consenting to the terms and condition of the Getty Images License Agreement.
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Was there any question Russell Westbrook was ready for last night’s Thunder-Nuggets game?

Westbrook posted 30 points, 12 assists and nine rebounds in Oklahoma City’s 122-112 win.

His dancer partner, Cameron Payne, wasn’t so bad either with six points, four rebounds and two assists in 12 minutes.

Grizzlies’ Greens block two Lakers dunk attempts in three minutes (video)

BOSTON, MA - MARCH 11:  Jeff Green #32 of the Memphis Grizzlies looks on during the game against the Boston Celtics at TD Garden on March 11, 2015 in Boston, Massachusetts. 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.
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JaMychal Green had an excellent spike block of Lou Williams on a driving dunk attempt, but the ball went to Nick Young, who made a 3-pointer:

A few minutes later, the Grizzlies’ other Green, Jeff Green, ensured Young didn’t get another easy look:

Ex-Globetrotters star Meadowlark Lemon dies

PHOENIX, AZ - MARCH 19:  Meadowlark Lemon arrives at Muhammad Ali's Celebrity Fight Night XVII at JW Marriot Desert Ridge Resort & Spa on March 19, 2011 in Phoenix, Arizona.  (Photo by Michael Buckner/Getty Images for Celebrity Fight Night)
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SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. (AP) — Meadowlark Lemon, the “clown prince” of basketball’s barnstorming Harlem Globetrotters, whose blend of hook shots and humor brought joy to millions of fans around the world, has died. He was 83.

Lemon’s wife and daughter confirmed to the team that he died Sunday in Scottsdale, Ariz., Globetrotters spokesman Brett Meister said Monday. Meister did not know the cause of death.

Though skilled enough to play professionally, Lemon instead wanted to entertain, his dream of playing for the Globetrotters hatched after watching a newsreel of the all-black team at a cinema house when he was 11.

Lemon ended up becoming arguably its most popular player, a showman known as much for his confetti-in-the-water-bucket routine and slapstick comedy as his half-court hook shots and no-look, behind-the-back passes.

A sign of his crossover appeal, Lemon was inducted to both the Naismith Basketball Hall of Fame and the International Clown Hall of Fame.

“My destiny was to make people happy,” Lemon said as he was inducted into the basketball hall as a contributor to the game in 2003.

Lemon played for the Globetrotters during the team’s heyday from the mid-1950s to the late-1970s, delighting fans with his skills with a ball and a joke. Traveling by car, bus, train or plane nearly every night, Lemon covered nearly 4 million miles to play in over 100 countries and in front of popes and presidents, kings and queens. Known as the “Clown Prince of Basketball,” he averaged 325 games per year during his prime, that luminous smile never dimming.

“Meadowlark was the most sensational, awesome, incredible basketball player I’ve ever seen,” NBA great and former Globetrotter Wilt Chamberlain said shortly before his death in 1999. “People would say it would be Dr. J or even (Michael) Jordan. For me it would be Meadowlark Lemon.”

Lemon spent 24 years with the Globetrotters, doing tours through the racially-torn South in the 1950s until he left in 1979 to start his own team.

He was one of the most popular athletes in the world during the prime of his career, thanks to a unique blend of athleticism and showmanship.

Playing against the team’s nightly foil, the Washington Generals, Lemon left fans in awe with an array of hook shots, no-look passes and the nifty moves he put on display during the Globetrotters’ famous circle while “Sweet Georgia Brown” played over the loudspeaker.

He also had a knack for sending the fans home with a smile every night, whether it was with his running commentary, putting confetti in a water bucket or pulling down the pants of an “unsuspecting” referee.

“We played serious games too, against the Olympic teams and the College All-Stars,” Lemon said. “But that didn’t stop us from putting the comedy in there.”

Lemon became an icon in the 1970s, appearing in movies, including “The Fish That Saved Pittsburgh,” numerous talk shows and even a stint in the cartoon “Scooby Doo,” with Scatman Crothers doing his voice.

After leaving the Globetrotters, Lemon started his own team, The Bucketeers, and played on a variety of teams before rejoining the Globetrotters for a short tour in 1994.

Lemon spent the last years of his life trying to spread a message of faith through basketball. He became an ordained minister in 1986 and was a motivational speaker, touring the country to meet with children at basketball camps and youth prisons with his Scottsdale, Ariz.-based Meadowlark Lemon Ministries.

“I feel if I can touch a kid in youth prison, he won’t go to the adult prison,” Lemon said in 2003.

He never lost touch with his beloved sport. Lemon said he rose every day at 4 a.m. and, after prayers, headed for the gym to run sprints and practice shooting.

“I have to keep that hook shot working,” he said.

Born in 1932, Meadow George Lemon III – he lengthened his name after joining the Globetrotters – didn’t have money for a basketball when he was young, so he rigged up a makeshift hoop in his backyard in Wilmington, N.C. Using a coat hanger and onion sack for the basket, he made his first shot with an empty milk can.

Lemon first contacted the Globetrotters before his high school graduation and joined the team in 1954. He missed a game in 1955 because of a bad bowl of goulash in Germany, but that was the last one. What followed was a run, by his calculations, of more than 16,000 straight games that took him to places he never could have imagined.

“I was one of the most fortunate athletes that ever lived,” he said. “I was able to watch history.”