<span class="vcard">Dan Feldman</span>

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.

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

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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.
 (Photo by Maddie Meyer/Getty Images)
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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.”

Report: NBA suspending Matt Barnes two games for Derek Fisher incident

Derek Fisher, Matt Barnes, Russell Westbrook
Associated Press
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Update: The NBA officially suspended Matt Barnes two games for “engaging in a physical altercation with and threatening New York Knicks’ Head Coach Derek Fisher.”

 

Grizzlies forward Matt Barnes reportedly drove to the home of his estranged wife, Gloria Govan, and attacked Knicks coach Derek Fisher, who’s dating her. Then, Barnes reportedly texted friends he beat up Fisher and spit in Govan’s face.

The NBA investigated, and the results are in.

Adrian Wojnarowski of Yahoo Sports:

If the reports are true, Barnes committed domestic violence. He allegedly used physical force to assert his dominance over his estranged wife.

Then, Barnes blamed Fisher for telling.

Barnes ought to feel fortunate he got just two games. That’s the result of this story being spun as a childish dust-up between Barnes and Fisher – not domestic violence.

Most unrepentant domestic abusers in professional sports get harsher penalties in this post-Ray Rice world.

NBA: Marc Gasol incorrectly denied chance at go-ahead FTs against Hornets

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The Hornets snapped a three-game losing streak Saturday with a 98-92 win over the Grizzlies – and a little help from the officials.

Memphis trailed Charlotte by one point with 1:45 left when Marc Gasol posted up Cody Zeller. Gasol missed, but the NBA’s Last Two Minute Report says Zeller should’ve been called for a shooting foul with 1:43 remaining:

Zeller (CHA) makes contact with Gasol’s (MEM) arm that affects his layup attempt. LHH shows contact to the arm prior to any contact with the ball

Obviously, we don’t know how the game would’ve played out had this been called correctly. But it was still a one-possession game when the Grizzlies began intentionally fouling – a tactic that gave the Hornets an easy six points.

Don’t look at the six-point margin and assume this call meant nothing. It was far more significant than that.