Dan Feldman

Kevin Durant apologizes for acting like ‘diva,’ ‘jerk’


OAKLAND, Calif. (AP) — Kevin Durant is apologizing to referee James Williams for behaving like a “jerk,” using an expletive to describe how he acted during a victory against the Knicks on Tuesday night when the NBA Finals MVP was ejected late for a second technical.

While Durant had yet to hear from the NBA on Wednesday, he said he is prepared for whatever fine he receives. He also plans to say sorry in person the next time he sees Williams and vowed to handle himself more respectfully next time.

“I wish I had handled that better obviously but it was kind of a heat-of-the-moment for me. I could be better. It was a great learning experience for me though,” Durant said after practice. “… I wasn’t getting picked on last night. I was being a diva last night. I’ve got to just own up to it. I watched it when I got home. I was wondering why he was coming at me so hard but then I watched the plays I was like, `Yeah, I looked like a jerk out there.’ It was bad. Luckily we won and we can move past it and I kind of owned up to it. I’ll be better next time.”

Durant had 14 points, a career-high 14 assists and two blocks before his ejection with 2:50 left in the 123-112 win, then criticized Williams publicly afterward.

“Kevin knows he should not have said what he said after the game,” coach Steve Kerr said Wednesday. “But this has been such a big topic this year. It does seem like maybe there’s a little bit more relationship stuff than there used to be. I don’t know why, I don’t know why that is. I know the best officials to me are the ones who will talk to me and I also know they deserve my respect. And I’ve snapped a couple times this year and said some things that I shouldn’t have. So it’s a matter of trying to maintain composure and dignity and you still have to be able to complain about a call and the ref needs to be able to accept that he’s wrong sometimes.”

Durant said he initially became upset with Williams for a carry call in the first half on a left-to-right crossover move Durant has put so much time into perfecting that “it irritated me.”

“I can’t react like that,” Durant said. “I wish I could apologize to James because that was definitely out of my character.”

Durant said once he watched the plays that earned him the technicals, he saw he behaved inappropriately.

He also believes the tension between players and officials will simmer down once everybody has a better grasp on this season’s rules changes.


Rumor: Jason Kidd, Jabari Parker weren’t speaking when Bucks fired coach

AP Photo/Aaron Gash

I don’t trust Jason Kidd when he said Giannis Antetokounmpo offered to try to stop the Bucks from firing the coach.

Maybe Antetokounmpo said it just like that. But Kidd isn’t a reliable source for Antetokounmpo’s words, which – as Kidd relays – just so happen to flatter Kidd.

However, Kidd clearly connected with Antetokounmpo while coaching him, which was incredibly important. Kidd’s bonding with Antetokounmpo was the biggest point in the coach’s favor.

But Kidd apparently didn’t share such a close relationship with all his players.

Ryen Russillo:

Eric Nehm of ESPN Wisconsin:

All of this aligns with frustrations Parker has expressed with ESPN Wisconsin in the past about finger pointing and a lack of positive reinforcement from Kidd.

In short, Parker wasn’t the only Bucks player to express frustration with Kidd during his time in Milwaukee. He made some of his relationships with players incredibly difficult.

Matt Velazquez of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel:

Parker dismissed those notions with a laugh and a shake of the head.

“With those reports, I take it that they are using me as a scapegoat,” Parker said at Menominee Nation Arena. “I’m not a threat right now, so they target me because I am an easy piece. With where my life is, I try to focus on myself. I have enough problems in trying to get back. That’s not me to put my energy to wish bad upon others.”

As far as his relationship with Kidd, Parker said the two talked every day, conversing “every time in the gym when I crossed paths with him.”

“He was my coach for four years and it’s always been a good relationship,” Parker said, mentioning that he was surprised to hear the news Monday. “Any coach in a head position, we’re going to have disagreements, but most importantly he helped me. That’s what I look at. I was saddened to hear the news because that’s the only guy I’ve known so far (as head coach). I reached out to him (Monday).”

Parker’s agent, Mark Bartelstein of Priority Sports & Entertainment, echoed Parker’s statements, saying the reports he had seen were not true.

“Were there times where there was frustration? Yeah,” Bartelstein said. “But that goes on with every team in every locker room at all times. Jason was tremendously supportive of Jabari in getting healthy and his rehab and encouraging him. I know Jabari greatly appreciated that.

“There was no rift between Jabari and Jason that had anything to do with this decision. This was just a decision that the Bucks organization made for whatever reasons they made it. It had nothing to do with Jabari, I can tell you that.”

I doubt the Bucks fired Kidd because of Parker. That seems like a straw man Bartelstein is beating down. Teams generally don’t fire coaches to appease a player who has accomplished as little and have as tenuous of a future as Parker, whose stock has dropped due to significant injuries.

What I find much more believable: Kidd’s overall relationships with his players contributed to his firing. Parker isn’t the root of contention, just an example of it.

Kidd’s rotations often changed suddenly and without apparent reason, giving stability-craving players opportunity to grumble. Kidd held old-school principles that sometimes suppressed players. For example, Parker was once pulled from the starting lineup for sharing details of a team meeting with the media.

Again, though, that’s just an example of what sounds like a larger issue that fits into the even bigger overall assessment of Kidd.

Rajon Rondo belatedly given tech for throwing towel in air as Bulls missed game-winning FT attempt (video)

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The Pelicans beat the Bulls in a double-overtime thriller Monday, but Chicago nearly won in regulation. Justin Holiday drew a foul on a 3-point attempt with 0.3 seconds left in the fourth quarter and made the first two free throws to tie the game.

As Holiday attempted the third, Rajon Rondo – who has kicked at opponents and tried to high-five them to break their focus – threw his towel into the air from the bench. Holiday missed, and New Orleans won in extras.


Can you imagine the uproar if that technical foul had been called on the floor and Chicago got an extra free throw?

As is, the late technical foul and accompanying $2,000 fine is well worth however less likely Rondo’s towel toss made Holiday to convert and how it bolster’s Rondo’s reputation as someone who will do whatever it takes to win, no matter how silly.

Joel Embiid and Lonzo Ball headline Rising Stars rosters, but only one should

AP Photo/Chris Szagola

Joel Embiid is keenly aware people will eventually grow tired of him.

This oversaturation will contribute.

In his second season with the 76ers, Embiid is a – deserving – All-Star starter. He’s a very good player and a known commodity. He’ll be celebrated during the main even of All-Star weekend Sunday.

And also in a sideshow Friday.

The NBA released rosters for the Rising Stars Challenge, with rookies and sophomores divided into teams by nationality:



NBA release:

The NBA’s assistant coaches chose the rosters … with each of the league’s 30 teams submitting one ballot per coaching staff.  Coaches selected four guards, four frontcourt players and two players at either position group for each team.  They also picked a minimum of three first-year NBA players and three second-year NBA players for each team.

The head coaches for the…Rising Stars will be the lead assistant coaches from the 2018 NBA All-Star Game coaching staffs.

I renew my annual plea to exclude sophomores. They’re too established to draw interest in this exhibition simply by playing, and, for the same reason, they don’t care enough to compete entertainingly.

There’s still mystery about many rookies barely more than halfway into their first season, and that would draw interest. People would prefer to see more of players like De'Aaron Fox, Milos Teodosic, Jonathan Isaac, Bam Adebayo, Jordan Bell and Josh Jackson – who all got squeezed out for second-year players.

My dismay with the format is even stronger this year, with such an impressive rookie class. It’s a wasted opportunity for the league.

But if you want to see Embiid care even less than he will during the All-Star game, tune in Feb. 16.

Rumor: Isaiah Thomas led Cavaliers’ accusations of Kevin Love

AP Photo/Jim Mone

Several Cavaliers reportedly accused Kevin Love of faking illness to leave Cleveland’s loss to the Thunder early Saturday and miss practice Sunday.

Who would make such an allegation?

The first guess was LeBron James. He drives the Cavs’ discourse, and he has directed ire at Love many times over the last few years.

But maybe it was actually Isaiah Thomas, a friend of Love dating back to their AAU days together.

Frank Isola of the New York Daily News:

A source told The News that Isaiah Thomas led the charge against Love

Whether or not this report is true, it’s not good for the Cavaliers.

If it’s true, that means the tension in Cleveland is so high, even longtime friends are going at each other. That’s obviously an undesirable culture.

If it’s false – assuming Thomas didn’t leak inaccurate information that paints him in an unflattering light himself and trusting Isola at least to cite someone positioned to know, which I do – it means someone else tied to the Cavs smeared Thomas. Again, that much finger-pointing is toxic.