D.J. Foster

Jeremy Lin speaks about playing in the shadow of Linsanity

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No matter what happens from here, Jeremy Lin’s unexpected rise to prominence with the New York Knicks two years ago will always be one the greatest stories in sports. Lin was the Vince Papale of hoops; the real life Rocky of the hardwood. It was impossible not to get caught up in Linsanity, just as it was impossible for Lin to meet the expectations that followed afterwards.

It’s an odd thing to continue your career after you’ve already had your greatest moment, isn’t it? Some guys might believe their own hype and fizzle out, and some will endlessly search for a way to recapture it. But part of what made Jeremy Lin’s story so wonderful is the humility he’s shown throughout it all.

Lin’s season last year was a letdown, but it kind of had to be. As Lin told Ian O’Conner of ESPN Radio, that required an adjustment.

“One thing I have to remind myself is I just turned 25 years old, and to be honest I really have only been playing consistent basketball in the NBA for a season and a half, if that, and so I’m very young in my career. And because the expectations of Linsanity are so big and the shadow is so large … sometimes I have to take a step back and remind myself the journey has just begun.

“I don’t have as much freedom or the usage rate that I had in New York. I have to learn how to play a little more off the ball, how to cut better, how to shoot better, how to defend better. There are a lot of holes in my game, and I’ll be the first one to admit that. … It’s just a matter of trying to become better and repair and improve. Teams know what my strengths and weaknesses are now, and I don’t have that element of surprise anymore.”

Via ESPN.com.

A lot has changed for Lin since those couch-surfing days in New York, and it very well could be true that he’ll never escape the shadow of Linsanity. Maybe that’s okay. After all, it’s hard to imagine that becoming a global phenomenon like Lin did was ever even fathomable enough to dream up in the first place. But you know what probably was always in Lin’s dreams? Sticking in the NBA, having a successful career, and having a shot at holding the trophy once the final buzzer of the season sounds. All that is still in play for Lin, even if Linsanity isn’t.

Brook Lopez says he is 100 percent healthy

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Considering the age and injury history of the Brooklyn Nets starting five this season, managing minutes and injuries should rank pretty high on the list of priorities for head coach Jason Kidd. Even though there may be some concerns heading into training camp about Deron Williams’ ankle or the minutes racking up for Paul Pierce, Kevin Garnett and Joe Johnson, the Nets have a good chance at starting the season with a clean bill of health.

Foot surgeries can be scary for men of an extremely large nature (ask Zydrunas Ilgauskas), but it sounds like everything is right where it belongs in Brook Lopez’s right foot.

#Nets C Brook Lopez, who had a screw replaced in his surgically-repaired right foot over the summer, says he’s 100% healthy, ready for camp.

— Ian Begley (@IanBegley) September 21, 2013

That’s some great news for the Nets. Although the regular season feels like nothing more than a formality for such a talented team, this group could use as much time on the floor together as possible, especially with a new system and coach in place.

Lopez built a lot of momentum last year after putting together his best season yet, and so long as he can stay 100 percent healthy as he says he is now, the Nets have a shot at hanging with just about anyone in a seven-game series.

It’s a long road to the postseason, but it sounds like Lopez will be starting off on the right foot. Sorry. I’ll see myself out.

Magic Johnson: “Michael Jordan is the Greatest One-on-One Player”

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Ask one of the greatest players of all-time if he could beat someone else one-on-one, and you can usually predict the answer. Professional athletes have to think very, very highly of themselves. You can’t be one of the best if you don’t think you are. It’s just how it works.

That’s why you don’t see many elite athletes come out and say, “I would lose because he’s better than I am” and just leave it at that. Even when they’re retired.

Magic Johnson almost did, though. He came super close.

When Magic Johnson was asked who would win a game of one-one between him and Michael Jordan, he didn’t hesitate.

“Michael would win. That’s not my game. My game is assisting, setting up my teammates. Michael’s the greatest one-on-one player. I couldn’t go out and drop 60 like him, but he couldn’t run a team like I could.”

Via Jon Becker of the Midland Daily News (hat tip to Hoopsworld.com)

Magic was heaping on the praise for Jordan and showing some impressive humility, but then he almost seemed to have an epiphany halfway through, like, hey, I’m Magic freakin’ Johnson.

And let’s make something clear: Magic is right. He couldn’t go out and drop 60. He couldn’t even drop 50, as 46 points was his career-high. It just wasn’t in his blood to play that way, even on the nights he couldn’t miss.

And while Jordan could run a team in the sense that he’d handle all of the scoring and pass once (if?) he was slowed down, he was never the distributor Magic was. In 1251 career regular season and playoff games, Jordan registered double-digit assists only 94 times.

Both players stuck to their strengths, and their careers worked out pretty okay, I think.

But while we’re here, in standard one-on-one rules (make-it take-it, game to 11 by all ones, take-out on all fouls) give me prime Yao Ming over everyone. He’s about a foot taller than Jordan, he could shoot from range if he got bored of slowly backing down in the post, and he’d get every rebound and make MJ shoot from distance. Michael Jordan ain’t stopping Yao once (if?) he gets the ball, you know?

These are the things we think about in the offseason, of course. Can real actual NBA games start soon, please? Pretty please?

Josh Childress Invited to Washington Wizards Training Camp

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Remember him? Josh Childress became a basketball pioneer of sorts when he left behind big NBA minutes with the Atlanta Hawks in favor of a bigger paycheck overseas.

Childress spent the prime of his career playing for Olympiacos in Greece, where he signed an unprecedented 3-year, $20 million dollar contract back in 2008. Childress has been back in the NBA the last three seasons, albeit in a much more limited role than he occupied before he left for Greece. Childress appeared in just 14 games for the Brooklyn Nets last season before being waived.

After turning down a deal to return to Greece, the 30-year-old small forward has accepted a training camp invite from the Washington Wizards.

It’s a curious fit, if only because the Wizards already have 15 guaranteed contracts on the books. Perhaps Childress is being brought in to push this year’s second round pick Glen Rice Jr. or perhaps replace 2011 first round pick Chris Singleton, who will be out 6-8 weeks with a foot injury. With Otto Porter, Martell Webster and Trevor Ariza already on the roster, it doesn’t seem like wing depth should be a primary concern.

When you also consider that Emeka Okafor is out indefinitely, the invite for Childress becomes even more strange. Are the Wizards really comfortable trusting Kevin Seraphin, Trevor Booker and Jan Vesely to handle the load in Okafor’s absence? Maybe so.

How France Advanced: Tony Parker and Clutch D (Video)

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In the EuroBasket semi-finals, France was finally able to conquer Spain in overtime, thanks in large part to Tony Parker’s big 32-point performance. Parker is just one of many NBA players racking up big minutes this summer, but when you watch these games, you begin to understand how important it is to these guys to represent their home country.

While Parker deserves a great deal of the credit for France advancing to the championship game tomorrow against a surprising Lithuania squad led by Toronto Raptors big man Jonas Valanciunas, check out how well France defended Spain’s last possession. That’s what you call suffocating defense.

We’ll see if Parker and France can keep it tomorrow in the final game of the 2013 EuroBasket tournament.