Willie Cauley-Stein was born with the tools to become an NBA player — he is an athletic, bouncy seven-footer. He won the genetic lottery.
But that alone does not get one to the NBA, in his case as a key part of the future of the Sacramento Kings. It’s a road with a lot of detours and pitfalls that could have taken the boy from a small town in Kansas other directions. He talks about all of it in a fantastic new video autobiography for Vice.
Freshman year college roommate dorm stories are rarely dull. Why the computer at your college decided to match you up with a slob who left half-full food containers around the room and on his bed for days, plus drank too much but never quite found the bathroom when getting sick, is beyond any of us. However, it seems to be a college tradition.
Kevin Love‘s freshman roommate on the road for UCLA wasn’t quite that bad. It was some guy named Russell Westbrook. A guy who already had way more style than Love.
But the best story is how the two fought like an old married couple over the thermostat, Love wrote at The Players’ Tribune.
You know the Curb Your Enthusiasm episode where Vivica’s character is sick in bed and Larry keeps adjusting the thermostat? That was me and Russ.
Our thermostat battles would go something like this….
“Minimum 74,” he’d say.
I needed the room cold. Around 68 was perfect.
At night, Russ would jump up from bed and turn the dial way up — and then five minutes later I would sneak over and turn it back down.
One time I offered a compromise — “How ‘bout 71 degrees?”
“Seventy-three,” Russ replied. “Final offer.”
Westbrook and Love are close to this day, though fortunately they do not have to share a room. (How that UCLA team, which also had Darren Collison and Luc Richard Mbah a Moute, didn’t win the NCAA title is still a mystery; I guess blame Derrick Rose and John Calipari.)
In the piece Love also talks about meeting John Wooden and why he just made a massive donation to UCLA. It’s worth the read.
Stephen Curry will probably always wince when the memories of Game 7 of the 2016 NBA Finals come up. After a regular season where he helped lift his team to 73 wins, on the biggest stage of the game it was LeBron James and Kyrie Irving who were making plays late, while Curry couldn’t shake loose from Kevin Love. The Warriors lost Game 7 on their home court, and Curry was hunting threes late despite going 4-of-14 from deep that game.
That’s going to eat away at any competitor. Curry told Sam Amick of the USA Today he’s not over that loss, but he’s using it as motivation.
“I still haven’t gotten over Game 7,” Curry told USA TODAY Sports during a break in the shoot (of a commercial). “That’s something that will stay with me pretty much forever, for good and bad reasons. Obviously you hated the feeling, but it’s also a motivator to come back even stronger and try not to have that feeling again.
“I’m at that point now where I can try to fuel any kind of terrible nightmares or thoughts about Game 7 into motivation for how I’m going to prepare myself for this year.”
Finals losses have fueled many a player and team (think San Antonio in 2014). Curry is certainly no different. It took him a little while to start turning the loss into fuel — he admits in the article he was down for a while — but he has come around and now wants his shot at redemption.
Hunger and desire are not going to be the questions for Golden State this season. Figuring out how to blend Kevin Durant into this star-laden team, and how to win consistently despite the loss of depth the franchise gave up to get Durant, are much bigger issues.
But likely ones Curry and the Warriors solve by the time it matters.
Caris LeVert shows promise, which is why the Nets traded to select him at No. 20 in last June’s draft (he was part of the Thaddeus Young deal with Indiana). LeVert is a 6’7″ two guard who can shoot the rock — 45 percent from three at Michigan last season — who has the potential to be someone who can create shots off the bounce for himself and others.
He’s also had foot issues that have ended each of the last two seasons early.
The Nets are going to take their time bringing the rookie along slowly, reports Chris Mannix of The Vertical at Yahoo Sports.
Brooklyn is going to start Rondae Hollis-Jefferson at the two, with Joe Harris backing him up. They are in no rush — it’s not like LeVert is going to vault this team into the playoffs — the Nets can bring him along slowly. See if new coach Kenny Atkinson can develop him.
But they can’t find that out until they make sure LeVert is healthy and this foot issue us not chronic. Sounds like the Nets will wisely take it slow.
Another unarmed black man has been shot and killed by white police officers.
This time, Terence Crutcher had his hands up when police arrived at his stalled out car on the highway near Tulsa, Oklahoma. Dashcam and helicopter footage show a man with his hands in the air, but officer Betty Shelby chose to use deadly force and go for a kill shot (while another used a taser at the same time). Then rather than administer first aid Crutcher bled out in the street while being largely ignored.
The video and story have gone viral on social media and a number of NBA players have responded including Russell Westbrook, Dwyane Wade, and Chris Paul.