Author: Kurt Helin

Shaquille O'Neal

Shaq takes shots at Lakers, Clippers during Justin Bieber roast


The point of the Comedy Central event was to mock Justin Bieber. Which is about as difficult as making a Nissin Cup of Noodles. There seemed to be a lot of celebrities, not professional comedians, in on this one, probably because the comedians prefer a challenge.

Shaq was among the celebrity roasters, but he veered off the main topic to poke fun at the Los Angeles basketball teams.

Making fun of the Lakers brings us back to the Cup of Noodles, but Shaq fired shots at Chris Paul, who was in the audience.

For Shaq’s sake let’s hope this was recorded a month ago or so (it likely was) because the Clippers have won seven in a row and have looked pretty good lately.

The shot at the Lakers was slow pitch right down the middle of the plate.

Hat tip to Matt Moore at Eye on Basketball, who never misses anything Bieber related.

Celebrating the bond between Spurs, San Antonio

Lupe Lemos

Every NBA city’s relationship with its team is a little bit different.

Celtics fans wear their green passion on their sleeves (or on the shamrock tattoos they when it’s too warm for sleeves). Lakers fans get poked fun of because of the celebrity culture, but the reality is in a transient town love of the Lakers is one of the few generational bonds for the average Los Angeles resident. Warriors fans feel they are finally being rewarded for years of loyalty through bad ownership (the previous regime).

San Antonio’s love of the Spurs is something unique.

San Antonio isn’t a small town — it’s America’s seventh largest city — but it has the feel of one. And that small town feel meshes perfectly with the Spurs personalities and brand of basketball, something Travis Hale tries to explain in a fantastic long-form piece at NBC’s Sports World.

Translated, “puro” means “pure,” and it is the single-word battle-cry to describe life here. For all our struggles, challenges and pitfalls, life in San Antonio is pure. And, regardless of race, income bracket, or neighborhood, all San Antonians take a measure of pride in our puro. The Spurs have their own identity, their own beautiful brand of basketball. San Antonians have a uniqueness, too, and that fierce independence so alive in both has made the love affair strong. The blue-collar city beautifully pairs with her blue-blooded basketball team….

The Spurs recent accomplishments are well known. Five NBA titles in the last 16 years and a slew of Hall of Fame players have called San Antonio home. But here’s a little-known secret: The Spurs are so much more than banners and shimmering, golden Larry O’Brien trophies on display. Sure, the championship seasons are fodder for the best memories. But more than anything, those banners serve as validation for a city whose inhabitants often feel overlooked in favor of the larger, shinier cities in the state….

Just before midnight, after the Spurs defeated the Heat and won their fifth title and the last of the press conferences had wrapped up, I walked out onto the court. The floor was covered in confetti and people, but it wasn’t fans or VIPs who were celebrating. It was the ushers and vendors and paid staff of the AT&T Center taking pictures and making snow angels in the piles of confetti on the floor. It was employees of Spurs Sports & Entertainment, celebrating an NBA championship on the hardwood of the AT&T Center late into the night. It was all the people that make the machine run, but few ever see. It was the Spurs Family. The nameless, faceless “little people” that make the big things possible.

Go read the entire story. It’s impossible to ever truly define and entire large city in one bit of writing. But this story comes as close to defining the intricate relationship of San Antonio with the Spurs as you are going to see.

Phil Jackson asks Knicks fans to “remain optimistic”

New York Knicks v Los Angeles Lakers

Did Phil Jackson just ask New York Knicks fans to be optimistic? This rings of the end of Monty Python’s “Life of Brian” where the cast sings “Always look on the bright side of life” while being crucified.

It’s been a historically bad season in New York. The Knicks are 14-60 — that’s both the worst record in the NBA and the most losses in Knicks franchise history.

Jackson felt he needed to address the Knicks season ticket holders as the team approaches the draft and free agency, and did so in a letter and video that ESPN got a hold of. Of course, Jackson tried to put a positive spin on things in what was essentially a pitch to season ticket holders.

“While I know this has been a challenging season for our team on the court, I can also tell you that everyone in the organization is working tirelessly to get our Knicks back to a place where we are once again competing at the highest level,” Jackson said in a video message…

“We have made key roster moves to free up significant cap space that will provide us greater flexibility to acquire talent in this summer’s free agency,” Jackson said. “And for the first time in many years, we expect to have a top pick in the NBA Draft this June. These are key steps to building a roster of players that have both the talent and character to win in New York and who, alongside Carmelo Anthony, will become a team that can become a consistent winner.”

Jackson also tweeted out this:

Phil Jackson deserves credit for this: Unlike previous years the Knicks didn’t squander assets to look for a short-term fix that got them into the playoffs but hurt them long term. That has been standard operating procedure for the Knicks under James Dolan for far too long. Rather than bottom out at all in a rebuild, they would trade picks and young players to bring back guys who got them into the playoffs, but never made them a contender.

That alone is good reason for Knicks fans to be patient. As for optimism… good luck selling that in New York. But things can and should improve.

The Knicks have Carmelo Anthony (hopefully healthy). They have what will be at least a top four draft pick, plus young players they like such as Tim Hardaway Jr. and Langston Galloway. They have cap space — not only to chase stars, who likely do not come (Marc Gasol and LaMarcus Aldridge, for example), but also to round out the roster with quality, high IQ players who can fit in the triangle offense. This year’s roster — which Jackson had a hand in building — was a terrible fit for the offense Derek Fisher was installing. The Knicks need to get the kind of veterans who can move the ball and shoot that fit in the triangle. Then they need to get better buy-in from Anthony on the offense.

The Knicks are not poised for a one-year leap to contenders, but in the East they could make the playoffs next season with the right summer moves. They could build a foundation that would intrigue top free agents in 2016.

This summer we start to see if Phil Jackson really can do this job. And if he does his then we get a better sense of if Derrick Fisher can coach this team and system.