Kurt Helin

Stephen Curry drawing huge crowds in China, pimps Under Armour shoes

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It’s a traditional summer part of the job for the NBA’s biggest stars — LeBron James, Kobe Bryant, Kevin Durant, etc. — a tour of China to promote the game and help sell shoes in the world’s biggest market.

Now Stephen Curry is there with Under Armour, the sportswear company gaining some ground (limited, but some) in the basketball shoe market on the back of their bright star. The Finals loss did not diminish his luster.

Darren Rovell of ESPN followed Curry on part of the tour and filed a report:

Curry leaves hotel in Guangzhou. Fans cheer “CURRY! CURRY! CURRY!” and compete for his autograph as he walks to the car that will take him to a basketball clinic. Curry feels the crush as he enters his car and security pushes fans back.

Of course, there are pictures.

Passion. Drive. Hard work. #SC30AsiaTour

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Learning how to make some Dim Sum and Spring Rolls in Guangzhou, China 🍽

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Dwyane Wade said his purpose in Chicago is “bigger than basketball”

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Dwyane Wade has come home to Chicago in part because Bulls’ management was embarrassed not making the playoffs and they are counting on the three-time NBA champ, the 12-time All-Star, to turn things around.

Wade wants to do much more than that.

He is coming home to a city torn apart by violence — one where his cousin, Nykea Aldridge, was shot pushing her stroller down the street — and he wants to take steps to end the cycle of violence, he told George Stephanopoulos on “Good Morning America.”

“My purpose for being back in the city is bigger than basketball. Basketball is a big part of it, of course; it’s what I do for a living,” said Wade, who signed last month with the Bulls. “But I think my purpose at the end of the day hopefully is to come to Chicago and be a part, be a voice that can help bring people together…

“Now I’m back in the city of Chicago — I’m back for a reason,” Wade said. “I played 13 years in Miami. Now I’m back in the city, let me see what I can do as one person to help lend my voice and help shed light on the tragedy that’s going on and find a solution to start the process of making change.”

Wade talked about the role of police and legislatures in making that change a reality.

“They are fighting a war,” Wade said of Chicago police. “And they can do a lot better, but they can get more help, as well, to do better. There’s other cities that have way tougher gun laws. We have weak gun laws.”

The Chicago PD released a statement in response to Wade’s interviewing saying they are fighting a war on crime but that they do need help in that battle.

It’s going to take a lot more than Wade to change the cycle of violence in Chicago, but that change will need leaders to help push it along.

If Wade can be one of those leaders it will be an accomplishment bigger and more important than anything he has done on the court.

Eric Bledsoe, Devin Booker lead Suns working out in Phoenix this summer

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It’s Labor Day weekend, which on the NBA calendar means players get together for voluntary workouts with teammates to get in shape before training camps open in about three weeks.

That is certainly the case in Phoenix, where a team that hasn’t made the playoffs for six seasons (and isn’t projected to this coming season) tries to round into form. Eric Bledsoe, Devin Booker, and the big names are leading the way in workouts at the Suns’ facilities, according to Paul Coro of the Arizona Republic.

Suns players Eric Bledsoe, Devin Booker and Alan Williams have spent nearly all of their offseason training in Phoenix while most of their teammates have been in and out or have trickled into Talking Stick Resort Arena in recent weeks. Since mid-August, there have been enough players to run five-on-five, full-court games on weekdays with the help of visitors such as Phoenix native and Philadelphia 76ers guard Jerryd Bayless.

“We take it as a good sign that they have a chance to go anywhere and they choose to be here,” Suns General Manager Ryan McDonough said.

It is a good sign. It certainly beats the alternative. But the Suns have had this same good sign the past couple of seasons and it didn’t translate once the games mattered.

The Suns added a couple of veterans this summer — Jared Dudley, Leandro Barbosa — to go with a young roster that has potential but needs time to develop. How far this team can go this season rests on the shoulders of Bledsoe, who only played in 31 games last season due to injury. They need him to be a shot creator and a force on the court, and if he’s back this team improves off last season. His health matters more than preseason workouts, but the fact he is part of them is one of McDonough’s good signs.

Agent says Spurs signed Argentina’s Nicolas Laprovittola for training camp

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The Spurs have had their eyes on Nicolas Laprovittola since the Rio Olympics, where he was Argentina’s backup point guard.

They got their man, Laprovittola has signed a deal to come to camp for the Spurs and compete for the 15th and final roster spot available, his agent said on Twitter, via the San Antonio Express-News (and confirmed later by Marc Stein of ESPN).

The Spurs will have three Argentineans at training camp after the agent for Nicolas Laprovittola announced Friday his client will join fellow Rio Olympians Manu Ginobili and Patricio Garino.

Agent Carlos Prunes said via Twitter that Laprovittola “will participate in the preseason of the Spurs” and is scheduled to travel with Garino to San Antonio this weekend.

Laprovittola averaged 8.2 points per game on 35 percent shooting in Rio, hitting 33 percent from three. He had 21 points against Spain on 5-of-14 shooting because he got to the line 11 times.

I was more impressed with Argentina’s starting point guard Facundo Campazzo in Rio. However, the Spurs have been so good identifying and developing diamonds in the rough we will wait and see how things go with Laprovittola.

That will be three Argentinians in camp for the Spurs. Of course there is the legend Manu Ginobili, plus they are bringing in rookie forward Patricio Garino.

Oh, there are lobs: The Clippers Top 10 plays of last season

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The Clippers have moved away from the “lob city” moniker recently.

But when you talk about Clipper highlights, there are going to be lobs. Nobody throws them as well as Chris Paul, and nobody finishes them like DeAndre Jordan. Throw in some Blake Griffin and Jamal Crawford highlights, and you have something worth watching on a Friday night. Besides college football.