Kurt Helin

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Robert Horry says Hakeem Olajuwon is best center he ever played with. Yes, better than Shaq.

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Robert Horry was in the middle of a couple of decades of some of the NBA’s best teams — the 1990s Rockets, the early 2000s Lakers, the mid-2000s Spurs — which is how he went on to rack up seven NBA rings. His fearlessness in big moments earned him the moniker Big Shot Rob.

He also played with three of the games’ greatest big men ever — Hakeem Olajuwon, Shaquille O’Neal, and Tim Duncan. No way to choose the greatest among those greats, right?

Wrong. Horry told Mundo Deportivo it wasn’t hard at all, part of a Q& A (translation help from Google translate).

You played with Hakeem Olajuwon, Shaquille O’Neal, and Tim Duncan, three of the greatest big men in NBA history. I guess it’s difficult for you to say who’s the best…

No, no it’s not. It’s very easy.

Who’s the best then?

‘The Dream’ (Olajuwon) was the best. He had everything they had the other two, but more. For example, The Dream could do everything he did ‘ Shaq ‘ but also got free throws. And the truth is that the other two learned from Olajuwon, who was the best center and the best power forward history. What defines these bigs is not what they could do but what they could not do. And The Dream could do everything.

Because of the passage time — and that we associate the 1990s with Michael Jordan — Olajuwon can get overlooked. But you will never find a more polished, higher IQ big man than him. He was more than “the dream shake,” he had counters for his counter moves. He was next to unstoppable.

There’s a reason all of today’s bigs (not to mention guys like LeBron James and Kobe Bryant who work in the post) make a pilgrimage to Houston to work out with Olajuwon — they know there is a lot to learn there. He is the guru.

And he deserves a seat at the table with the best ever.

(Hat tip Hoopshype)

Tom Thibodeau doesn’t expect Nikola Pekovic to play in training camp

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The bigger question becomes, will Nikola Pekovic ever play serious minutes in the NBA again? Any minutes?

Pekovic played in just 12 games last season (and 31 the season before that) as foot injuries have sidelined him. With Karl-Anthony Towns front and center, the Timberwolves have moved on. Their front court rotation also has Gorgui Dieng, Cole Aldrich, Jordan Hill, and maybe Kevin Garnett if he decides to play and not retire.

Coach Tom Thibodeau doesn’t sound like he’s expecting anything from the 30-year-old Pekovic.

Considering the rotation already in place up front for Minnesota, it’s hard to imagine Pekovic getting any run unless he came back fully healthy, moving very well, and he became a defensive force inside. Which sounds very unlikely.

Pekovic is still owed $23.7 million fully guaranteed this season and next.

Chris Bosh says he felt “written off,” told his career was over by Heat doctors

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Chris Bosh‘s campaign to get the Miami Heat to clear him to return to action on the court with them continues — and this time with words challenging the team doctors. Not so coincidentally right before the start of training camp.

Bosh has missed the end of the past two seasons due to a blood clotting issue that can be life threatening if left unchecked. Bosh said came out of that with ordeal with a health maintenance plan and a rekindled passion for basketball — now he wants to get back on the court. However, Heat doctors have yet to officially clear him to play at the start of training camp.

In a documentary for The Uninterrupted — one directed by Bosh — he says that he felt written off by the Heat doctors who told him his career is over.

“Seeing the team doctors, they told me that my season is over, my career is probably over and this just happens, this is just how it is. I felt right away that I was written off. It was (claps his hands like a blackjack dealer leaving the table) put it to the side matter-of-factly. If a doctor tells me, ‘Hey that’s it and this is how that is,’ and I don’t buy that. I have the right to disagree with you.

“I know inside me I have a lot talent and a lot of ability. I have it. I know I have it. It wasn’t a matter of if I play again, it was when. So we took the bull by the horns.”

Bosh has been undergoing physicals with the team, reports Ira Winderman of the Sun Sentinel.

Bosh wants to play again. He has consulted with doctors who put together a blood thinning drug regimen where the drugs would be out of his system by game times. The Heat clearly are not comfortable with this and, while they are willing to welcome him to camp, they have not cleared him to play. If he were cleared, it is not known whether there are restrictions on his minutes or travel, or whether he would push back against those restrictions.

With Bosh on the court the Heat are a likely playoff team in the East. He is huge for their offense, having averaged 19.1 points and 7.4 rebounds per game, shooting 36.7 percent from three, and he had a PER of 20.2 last season. He was selected by the coaches as an All-Star last season (but he couldn’t play in the game due to the blood clots returning, and he did not return to the court last season). If the Heat can get an independent doctor to say Bosh is permanently disabled and unable to play professional sports, the team could get his $75 million remaining off the team books (although Bosh would still get paid, that money just wouldn’t count against the team’s cap).

This is all going to come to a head in the next couple of weeks. One way or another.

Kings’ Willie Cauley-Stein talks about his path to NBA in new video

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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.

Kevin Love talks about UCLA roommate Russell Westbrook, thermostat wars

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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.