Kurt Helin

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Dwyane Wade on LeBron this summer: ‘It’s his decision and I don’t want nothing to do with it at all’

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There will be no more pictures of Dwyane Wade and a teammate on Instagram telling LeBron James to join them in South Beach. No more recruitment. No more LeBron in Miami.

LeBron can be a free agent this summer (if he opts out as expected) and has to make a decision once again. Maybe he decides to stay in Cleveland, maybe he goes to Houston or Los Angeles or Philadelphia or wherever. Just don’t expect Dwyane Wade to recruit him, as he did before. Here is what Wade told Jorge Sedano during an interview at AmericanAirlines Arena, via Ira Winderman of the South Florida Sun-Sentinel.

“No. No, I don’t have anything to do with it, none of that,” Wade said …. “One thing I know is he makes his own decisions. So when we get to that point, hopefully, he takes a good look at the place he’s at and gives that real consideration and then goes from there.

“It’s his decision and I don’t want nothing to do with it at all.”

About the only thing we know for sure about LeBron’s decision this time around is there will not be a 30-minute ESPN special announcing it.

That and now we can rule out a return to Miami. Which was never really in the cards anyway, unless LeBron pushed his way back there, because the Heat would have to do some serious salary cap gymnastics to make it all work.

LeBron is on his own with this one. He will get to the end of this season (whenever that is for him and the Cavaliers), survey the landscape, and make his call. Plenty of teams will come knocking, but LeBron is going to make his call this time without any recruitment from Dwyane Wade.

Chris Paul and James Harden, on the other hand…

NBA players step toward equality in limited edition sneakers

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LOS ANGELES (AP)— When LeBron James stepped on the court wearing mismatched sneakers in the nation’s capital, it wasn’t a fashion statement by the NBA’s most popular athlete. The message was clearly emblazed in gold on the back of his kicks, one white and one black: Equality.

Sneaker enthusiasts around the world eagerly await NBA All-Star weekend when new and limited editions of the latest shoes make their debut, but the month leading up to the highly anticipated shoepalooza is often used to make a social statement.

Starting with Martin Luther King Day and coinciding with Black History Month, players and companies honor the past and create dialogue about the future through footwear.

“I just think it’s more of a paying homage to people that paved the way before me,” Warriors forward Kevin Durant said. “It’s much more than just shoes. It’s more so of a memorial more than anything.”

Nike, which started building Black History Month campaigns in 2005, has created an entire theme around equality.

Kyrie Irving‘s fourth signature shoe has the word repeated over and over in black over a white body with a red and green outsole. There are multiple Air Force 1 models with “equality” on the body, and the Jordan line has been involved from a flyknit Air Jordan 1 to player-only editions of the Air Jordan 32.

Jonathan Johnson-Griffin, the global senior creative director of Nike Basketball and Olympics, says they also wanted to celebrate the Pan-African flag, leading to a red, black and green motif featured on several models that didn’t specifically include the word “equality.” He believes the messages are especially pertinent during divisive times epitomized by the violent demonstration in Charlottesville, Virginia.

“Equality is the north star that we want to celebrate in sport,” Johnson-Griffin said. “We feel like people feel a lot more equalized in sport than sometimes they do outside of sport. We want to celebrate the many chapters of that idea and many different dimensions of how we can celebrate equality. And BHM is a really iconic one.

“When you see LeBron making a statement around equality, that’s a big invitation to everyone to come celebrate who they are.”

Nike isn’t the only apparel company celebrating Black History Month. Last year, Adidas honored Arthur Ashe on the James Harden, Damian Lillard and Derrick Rose models. A 2018 collection wasn’t created, but Lillard’s “Dame 4” has an edition that honors the Harlem Renaissance with nods to the Apollo Theater and Savoy Ballroom.

“When I can have something like the Black History shoe that’s close to home, close to my heart,” Lillard said, “it’s always good to be able to tell that story through the shoe.”

Players across the league have been seen wearing a variety of custom shoes in the last month touching on the theme. Utah Jazz rookie Donovan Mitchell wore a pair of Dame 4s with “I HAVE A DREAM” on the side and a closed fist on the toe box on MLK Day. Russell Westbrook recently wore his first signature performance shoe featuring a red, black and green colorway.

The movement is about more than just selling shoes. The Nike Equality campaign encourages people to get involved in youth organizations such MENTOR and Peace Players.

James, who has been extremely outspoken about social causes and injustices, knows he and many other players can spread those messages through footwear.

“You want the narrative to be sharp because you want to inspire people through that narrative,” Johnson-Griffin said. “It’s almost like when you curate an amazing museum exhibit. The narrative that you create should be a very meaningful and impactful one. We want to give people an opportunity to be part of that narrative.

“The BHM line is about inspiring, making an impact on sport and changing the world. … We want to celebrate people that are doing it and want to inspire people to do more of it.”

 

Lonzo Ball likely out until after All-Star break

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Looks like Lonzo Ball will not be part of All-Star weekend in Los Angeles.

Ball has been out with what the team has called a sprained MCL in his knee for the past 13 games, and he has played in just five games total since Christmas. While he practiced with the team on Tuesday and reportedly looked good, the Lakers are not bringing him back until after the All-Star break.

Which means while he is picked for Team USA in the Friday night Rising Stars challenge for All-Star weekend, he almost certainly will be sitting this one out.

Ball is a big part of the Lakers’ future, they are not going to the playoffs this season, there is zero reason to push his return and risk any further injury. This is the right play.

The league will pick his replacement.

It just sucks, because watching Ball’s passes in the defense-free zone that is the Rising Stars game would have been a blast.

Sixers’ T.J. McConnell racks up triple-double coming off bench

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T.J. McConnell had never had an NBA triple-double before.

No Philadelphia 76er had ever had a triple-double coming off the bench before.

Check those two off the list.

McConnell had 10 points, 10 rebounds, 11 assists and threw in six steals to lead the Sixers to an otherwise sloppy win over the Knicks. It’s a great story, McConnell was undrafted out of Arizona, an underdog who has found his way as a solid backup point guard in Philly. When he got the triple-double with a rebound late (1:05 left in the game) the Sixers bench went nuts and the crowd chanted “T-J.” It was a fun moment that the McConnell earned with a lot of hard work.

Three Things to Know: Steve Kerr turns time-out coaching over to players for night

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Every day in the NBA there is a lot to unpack, so every weekday morning throughout the season we will give you the three things you need to know from the last 24 hours in the NBA.

1) Steve Kerr engages players by letting them run huddles, draw up plays vs. Suns. I first noticed it during a first-quarter timeout: Warriors coach Steve Kerr handed the whiteboard where he draws up plays over to Andre Iguodala, then stayed out of the huddle. The players ran the show, with Iguodala in the coach’s chair.

It continued all night as Draymond Green,, David West, Stephen Curry and others took turns “coaching” the team during breaks in play. Kerr had the night off and front-row seats for the game, although he did not order a beer from the waitress working his section.

The reasoning behind the move was simple — Kerr has said repeatedly over the years this is the players’ team. Not his as coach, not the GM’s, not the owner’s, the team belongs to the players, and he needed them more focused than they had been.

It seemed to work as the engaged Warriors blew out the Suns 129-83. Stephen Curry led the Warriors with 22 points, nine rebounds and seven assists, while Omri Casspi (who started for Green due to a sprained finger) added 19 points. The Warriors shot 58.4 percent to the Suns’ 34.7 percent.

Kerr isn’t the first coach to pull this trick — Gregg Popovich did something a couple of weeks ago. It’s a long grind of an NBA season, the Warriors will be focused during the playoffs, but Kerr needs to keep their attention during the season. Little moves like this work.

Was this disrespectful toward the Suns? Maybe. I’m sure some Suns players and their fans thought so. But this is the NBA not U6 AYSO soccer — if you don’t like something, play better and make them pay for it. Otherwise it’s on you.

2) Zach LaVine makes the play — steal and game-winning dunk for Chicago.
Let’s set the stage: It’s a tie game, 101-101, with 15.2 seconds and Orlando about to inbound the ball at midcourt after a timeout, the Magic looking to steal a win or the road.

Jonathan Simmons attempted to inbound the ball with a bounce-pass to Shelvin Mack as the veteran guard broke out toward center court — but the athletic LaVine picked his pocket, raced down the court and threw down the game-winning dunk.

The Bulls have won 2-of-3 after their seven-game losing streak.

3) Jazz beat Spurs on the second night of a back-to-back, win streak reaches 10. Donovan Mitchell is a stud. Like should be leading your Rookie of the Year balloting stud. Like future (and maybe current) cornerstone player in Utah stud.

Like the guy who takes over a game late vs. San Antonio and leads Utah to its 10th straight win stud. Mitchell had 13 of his 25 points in the fourth quarter and sparked the Jazz win.

Everything is coming together for Utah. Rudy Gobert is healthy and the defense is elite again. Jae Crowder, acquired from Cleveland at the trade deadline, had 14 points off the bench and played well. Joe Ingles continued his run of fantastic play and had 20 points. Derrick Favors is playing better next to Gobert — something that has not always happened — and he had 19 points. Utah is getting it done with great teamwork at both ends.

Utah now sits 1.5 games back of New Orleans for the eighth and final playoff slot in the West. Two games separate six-seed Portland and 10-seed Utah — anyone in that group can get in with a strong last 25 games (or so). Utah should feel good — Cleaning the Glass sees them as the ultimate sixth seed, and fivethirtyeight.com says the team now has an 89 percent chance of making the playoffs. Doing that with all the injuries this team has had should earn coach Quin Snyder some Coach of the Year consideration.