Dan Feldman

PORTLAND, OR - MAY 10: Gregg Popovich of the San Antonio Spurs makes a point to Manu Ginobili #20 of the San Antonio Spurs in the second half of Game Three of the Western Conference Semifinals against the Portland Trail Blazers during the 2014 NBA Playoffs at the Moda Center on May 10, 2014 in Portland, Oregon. The Spurs won the game 118-103. 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 Steve Dykes/Getty Images)
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The time Gregg Popovich lectured everyone for Manu Ginobili’s hustle, including scolding Ginobili

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Manu Ginobili is one of the greatest international players of all time, and it has been a treat to watch him play for Argentina in these Olympics. We’re nearing the end for the 39-year-old Ginobili, who signed only a one-year deal with the Spurs this summer.

Want to better understand Ginobili before he retires? Read this fantastic profile of him by Zach Lowe of ESPN. It’s chock full of analysis and anecdotes, including my favorite:

Toward the end of an early September 2007 pickup game involving Spurs and visiting free agents, Ginobili dove through three players to retrieve a loose ball and flung it to a teammate. That player scored, and Popovich, watching, stopped the scrimmage even though it wasn’t over.

He gathered everyone and asked them: “What does that play mean to you?” Popovich told them Ginobili wanted to win more than anyone on the floor, and that if the Spurs wished to repeat after their 2007 title, they would all need to play that hard. Popovich walked away, and everyone thought the speech was over. Suddenly, he turned: “And Manu: It’s f—ing September. Never do that again in September.”

Again, I HIGHLY suggest reading Lowe’s story in full. The examination of the evolution of the Gregg Popovich-Ginobili relationship alone makes this worth reading, and there’s plenty more fun stuff.

Kyrie Irving says he was ‘very serious’ about playing for Australia – until Team USA’s Coach K stopped him

RIO DE JANEIRO, BRAZIL - AUGUST 10:  Kyrie Irving #10 of United States moves the ball against Matthew Dellavedova #8 of Australia during a Preliminary Round Basketball game between Australia and the United States on Day 5 of the Rio 2016 Olympic Games at Carioca Arena 1 on August 10, 2016 in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil.  (Photo by Elsa/Getty Images)
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Team USA escaped a close call with Australia yesterday thanks in part to Kyrie Irving‘s clutch fourth quarter.

Oh how differently it could’ve gone.

Michael Lee of Yahoo Sports:

Irving was 17 and mulling over an invitation to play for Australia – the country in which he was born and spent the first two years of his life – on its under-18 team. Coach Mike Krzyzewski, in the middle of a Team USA tenure that has resurrected America’s supremacy in the game, then told the youngster he needed to think bigger.

“It was very serious,” Irving said of how close he came to playing for Australia, which would’ve later made him ineligible to play for the nation where he grew up. “It was a legit thing, until Coach K intervened. He strong-armed me. As a young fella, he did tell me I had a chance to be a part of something bigger than myself. He said, ‘You could be the starting point guard on the U.S. Olympic team.’ I never thought it would happen as soon as it has, but I had aspirations and dreams of being a guard on an Olympic team.”

Irving was born in Australia while his dad played professional basketball there, and he holds dual citizenship. It would’ve been reasonable to pick Australia, because there was no guarantee Irving would develop into a player worthy of making the superior Team USA.

In hindsight, Irving would’ve just upgraded the Australians’ strongest position. They already have Matthew Dellavedova and Patty Mills at point guard. The Americans have a bigger relative need at point guard with Stephen Curry, Chris Paul, Russell Westbrook, Damian Lillard and John Wall skipping the Rio Olympics.

Good thing for Team USA that Irving and Krzyzewski share such a strong bond.

Report: Knicks scheduled to open season at Cavaliers

NEW YORK, NY - MARCH 26:  LeBron James #23 of the Cleveland Cavaliers and Carmelo Anthony #7 of the New York Knicks battle for position during their game at Madison Square Garden on March 26, 2016 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 Al Bello/Getty Images)
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Carmelo Anthony made a reasonable prediction, but he went 0-for-2.

Anthony predicted the Knicks would face the Bulls – with all the Derrick Rose, Joakim Noah and even Dwyane Wade storylines – on either Christmas or opening night. But New York is reportedly scheduled to play the Celtics on Christmas.

As for opening night?

Ian Begley of ESPN:

It’s unclear whether this would also be the Cavaliers’ first game.

The Cavs opened with the Knicks two years ago, LeBron James‘ first game back in Cleveland as a Cavalier. New York won that one, but it wasn’t a sign of things to come. The Cavs finished 53-29 and reached the NBA Finals. The Knicks ended up 17-65.

So, this would be a high-profile game with New York’s market and all the big names on both teams. Just don’t read too much into the single early result.

Venezuela outlasts China in men’s basketball

Venezuela's Nestor Colmenares (43) drives to the basket pat China's Sui Ran (5) and Yi Jianlian (11) during a men's basketball game at the 2016 Summer Olympics in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, Wednesday, Aug. 10, 2016. (AP Photo/Eric Gay)
AP Photo/Eric Gay
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Venezuela men’s basketball coach Néstor García smacked his forehead, grimaced and paced – unable to believe his team’s foolishness.

Fortunately for the Venezuelans, they survived it in a 72-68 win over China on Wednesday.

Up four with 3.8 seconds left, Nestor Colmenares – who led Venezuela with 16 points and five rebounds and added four assists – fouled Zhou Peng on a 3-point attempt. With a narrow path to victory opened by Colmenares’ blunder, Peng missed the shot. That effectively ended the chance at a hard-fought comeback after Venezuela built a 25-10 first-quarter lead.

This was probably just a matchup to determine the order of fifth and sixth in the six-team Group A – a hallow accomplishment. Just the pool’s top four teams advance.

But Venezuela still gets the pride of an Olympic victory. The next step is beating another nation. Venezuela, which also qualified for the 1992 Games, is now 3-0 against China and 0-7 against everyone else.

Yi Jianlian scored 18 points and grabbed 10 rebounds to lead China, which has now lost 10 straight Olympic games dating back to 2008.

After opting out of Nets contract, Shane Larkin signs in Spain

NEW YORK, NY - APRIL 13:   Delon Wright #55 of the Toronto Raptors guards Shane Larkin #0 of the Brooklyn Nets during their game at the Barclays Center on April 13, 2016 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 Jeff Zelevansky/Getty Images)
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Shane Larkin opted out of a contract that would’ve paid him $1.5 million next season.

I thought he’d get a small raise, but he was undoubtedly taking a risk.

It doesn’t appear it will pay off.

Euroleague.net:

Laboral Kutxa Vitoria Gasteiz has found a new point guard, Shane Larkin

In a market favorable to backup point guards, I’m surprised Larkin couldn’t find an NBA job.

He has shown flashes, looked far better as a distributor and outside shooter last year and is just 23. The Nets might a poor excuse for an NBA team, but he ranked fifth on Brooklyn in minutes and started 17 games.

Nobody wanted him as a third point guard?

Maybe it’s his hands.