Kurt Helin

Wizards unveil new Stars & Stripes alternate uniform

Leave a comment

A stars and stripes uniform worn by the team playing in our nation’s capital on the nights it honors members of the military? Sounds like a good fit all around.

That’s what the Washington Wizards are doing, unveiling the new uniform on Thursday.

The primary change is the stars down the side of the jersey, while the shorts has the stripes.

It’s a clean look; I like it.

The Wizards will wear the stars and stripes six times:

Fri., Nov. 11 vs. Cleveland Cavaliers
Wed., Dec. 14 vs. Charlotte Hornets
Wed., Jan. 18 vs. Memphis Grizzlies
Fri., Feb. 10 vs. Indiana Pacers
Wed., Mar. 15 vs. Dallas Mavericks
Tues., Apr. 4 vs. Charlotte Hornets

Shaq on Collin Kaepernick: There are “other ways to get your point across”

Getty Images
21 Comments

Jabari Parker has Collin Kaepernick’s back. Stephen Curry wouldn’t go that far but applauded him for taking a stand.

Hall of Famer Shaquille O’Neal — whose father served in the military for years — doesn’t see it that way. Here’s what he said in an interview on Fox and Friends on Fox News (hat tip 24/7 Sports).

“I don’t know Colin, but again, to each his own. I don’t really have a say on it, but I would never do that. My father was a military man, and you know, he protected this country. Uncles are in law enforcement, you know, they go out and work hard every day.

“Just, (there are) other ways to get your point across.”

“My question is, how come you didn’t do it last year? Or how come you didn’t do it when you first entered the NFL?”

As Dave Zirin pointed out on Twitter, back in 1996 when Mahmoud Abdul-Rauf wouldn’t stand for the anthem before NBA games because he saw the flag as a sign of oppression, Shaq was only one of a handful of athletes who supported his right to this protest. (Steve Kerr was another, just as an aside.) I’d be curious to hear how he views this as different.

Two other quick thoughts. One is simply that Shaq has his right to his opinion on Kaepernick’s choice, but nobody should oppose his right to protest. Second, Shaq got sucked into doing what Curry more skillfully avoided, making the issue respect for the flag and not the issue of treatment of minorities in this country that Kaepernick wants to discuss.

 

Pat Riley says he has no regrets about Heat summer… well, one regret

5 Comments

Regrets. He’s had a few. Then again, too few to mention.

Even at age 71, Pat Riley is not a guy who spends a lot of time looking in the rear view mirror. He’s looking forward and he likes is optimistic about the future of his Miami Heat. He has no regrets about the past. Well, save for how the Dwyane Wade thing went down.

That’s what he told the Palm Beach Post‘s Tom D’Anglelo:

“No apologies, no regrets – except for one – no tears,” Riley told me today, obviously referring to losing franchise icon Dwyane Wade to the Chicago Bulls. “Good luck. We move on. Players come and go, but franchises move on.”

Was Riley channeling Jerry Reinsdorf with that last statement?

Franchises do move on — but they don’t win without the right players. The Heat don’t have thier rings without Wade, Shaq, and LeBron James. The Spurs aren’t the Spurs without Tim Duncan, no matter how great their management has been. Red Auerbach isn’t remembered the same way in Boston without Bill Russell and Bob Cousy. The game of basketball is such that the elite players have a massive impact on the outcome of a game, more than a quarterback or a clean-up hitter.

This time, moving on for the Heat may not be quite as smooth.

51 Questions: Does Chandler Parsons have the talent to change the Grizzlies’ course?

chandler parsons grizzlies mavericks
3 Comments

We continue PBT’s 2016-17 NBA preview series, 51 Questions. Between now and the start of the NBA season we will tackle 51 questions we cannot wait to see answered during the upcoming NBA season. We will delve into one almost every day between now and the start of the season (we’re taking some weekends off). Today:

Does Chandler Parsons have the talent (and health) to change the Grizzlies’ course?

For three consecutive seasons, the Memphis Grizzlies had won at least 50 games and were a tough out in the playoffs. They seemed just some shooting away from being a contender. However, last season the Grizzlies slipped to 42 wins, and there was one simple reason: Injuries.

The Grizzlies had 28 players come through their roster over the course of last season, an NBA record. Guys were going down faster than a Lord of the Rings movie. And it wasn’t just back end guys, key players out injured. Marc Gasol missed 30 games with a broken foot. Mike Conley missed 20 games with Achilles tendonitis (and still got a record NBA contract). Zach Randolph missed 29 games and looked like a guy losing his race with Father Time.

To change this course, the Grizzlies have turned to a man who had two right knee surgeries in the last 18 months.

Does Chandler Parsons have the talent to change the Grizzlies course? Yes.

Does Chandler Parsons have the health to execute that change? That’s what the Grizzlies are betting on.

Parsons brings more than a pretty face, he brings what the Grizzlies have needed on the wing for some time. First, he’s strong on the catch-and-shoot, and he is a willing shooter from beyond the arc — he shot 41.4 percent from three last season until his injury (for his career he’s 38 percent from three). When Conley is running the pick-and-roll with Gasol or another big (Brandan Wright, perhaps) opponents can’t help off Parsons or they pay.

More than that, Parsons is also a second ball handler on the perimeter for the Grizzlies. For years the shooters the Grizzlies brought in (who never quite panned out) didn’t have this dimension. Parsons can create his own shot. All the weight of shot creation no longer falls on the combination of Conley’s drives and Gasol’s passing. Part of the reason Parsons chose Memphis over Portland (for the exact same $94 million contract) is the chance to get the ball in his hands more often. Parsons is going to be handed the keys to the offense far more in Memphis than he saw in Dallas.

Finally, Parsons is also a solid defender, so that part of the Grizzlies’ identity will not change with new coach David Fizdale. Memphis has strong defenders in Conley and Tony Allen on the perimeter, Parsons will defend some threes and fours (depending on matchups) but has shown he can do this fairly well.

It’s easy to picture a Grizzlies team where Parsons is the key third offensive player that opens things up for Gasol and Conley. Parsons can play the three or a small ball four and that gives Fizdale lineup and matchup options.

With Parsons, on paper, the Grizzlies return to being a 50-win team that is a tough out in the playoffs. He may have a pretty face, but he’s a perfect fit for “grit ‘n grind.”

The only question is can Memphis keep Parsons and the rest of their stars on the court?

Gasol skipped the Olympics and reportedly is doing well with his rehab, but foot issues and big men are a scary combination. Was Conley’s Achilles tendonitis a one-off thing that needed rest, or the first signs of a guy who will battle this for years as his body starts to slow down over the course of his new deal? How much does Zach Randolph have left in the tank? A guy whose game has always been below the rim can age fast when he loses half a step.

Then there is Parson’s surgically reconstructed right knee. Two seasons ago he had hybrid microfracture surgery on it, then last season he tore the meniscus in the same knee. He has done is rehab and says he’s good to go. Still, is the knee stable enough to take on a larger load for 82 games?

Memphis could have looked at last season and said “it’s time for a total rebuild,” torn the team apart, traded for picks and young players, and moved on from grit ‘n grind. They didn’t. They finally got the wing shooter and shot creator they have been seeking for years, and they got the rest of the band back together.

Parsons has the talent to lift the Grizzlies up.

Whether or not his body will let him do it is the question.

Karl-Anthony Towns does get out the vote PSA for Minnesota

Leave a comment

Minnesota isn’t considered a swing state this election, polls show it solidly in the Hillary Clinton camp, but that shouldn’t lessen the efforts to get people out to vote. The goal in this nation should always be to get as many people as possible voting and involved in the democratic process.

Which is why Karl-Anthony Towns doing a get out the vote PSA for the state of Minnesota is a good thing (you can see it above).

Hat tip to The Undefeated for finding this.

However, in the article, I think writer Clinton Yates misunderstands history a little. He talks about this being part of a movement of athletes speaking out more on social issues lately and says he couldn’t imagine an NBA player doing this PSA a decade ago. As SB Nation’s Tom Ziller pointed out, back eight years ago when Barack Obama was elected there was a lot of political interest and involvement from players who saw a big stake in that election. This trend has been coming for a while. And it’s a welcome change from the “I avoid politics as not to damage my brand” attitude that too many athletes had for too long.