Kurt Helin

BEIJING, CHINA - OCTOBER 15:  Yao Ming (R) former NBA basketball star talk with Shaquille O'Neal during the 2014 NBA Global Games match between the Brooklyn Nets and Sacramento Kings at MasterCard Center on October 15, 2014 in Beijing, China.  NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and/or using this photograph, user is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement.  (Photo by Lintao Zhang/Getty Images)
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Shaq, Iverson, Yao among basketball Hall of Fame candidates

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SPRINGFIELD, Mass. (AP) — Shaquille O’Neal, Allen Iverson and Yao Ming are among the first-time candidates on the ballot for the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame.

Michigan State coach Tom Izzo and former women’s star Sheryl Swoopes are also among the candidates announced Monday for the class of 2016. The finalists will be announced on Feb. 12 during the NBA’s All-Star weekend, and those being enshrined will be unveiled April 4 in Houston before the NCAA championship game.

O’Neal and Yao became eligible last week when the Hall amended its eligibility procedures, making players eligible after four full seasons of retirement. It was previously five years, which meant they were six years removed from their playing careers when they were enshrined.

The full list of candidates is available at http://www.hoophall.com

Hear Iman Shumpert’s emotional 911 call after his child’s home birth

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As a father who has been in three delivery rooms for the birth of my daughters, let me say I have no idea how I would have handled what Iman Shumpert had to do, helping his fiancée, singer Teyana Taylor, through the birth of their child while in the bathroom of their home. But probably not as well as he did.

Above is the tape of the 911 call in this case, and you can hear how emotional and understandably a little scared Shumpert sounds. The tape comes via The Daily Mail. My favorite part may be the 911 operator, who is not only calm but also annoyed at the start and got after Shumpert a little to get him task.

Shumpert said on Good Morning America Monday this was his best assist ever.

Shumpert later posted this on Instagram.

We have successfully started our very own family! 💂🏾🐞🐺👶🏾!!! 2015 has been capped off with a grand finale! Our beautiful daughter is finally here and doing well along with her beautiful mother (my fiancé!!!). This is definitely the best assist I've ever recorded in my life. We were indeed terrified until I finally saw her hair…then the fear left and i kinda just knew what to do! Our bathroom is forever sacred lbs! People always tell me there is no greater gift than fatherhood and I finally understand the feeling. I'm not too proud to say I cried endless tears of joy for my first born. Thank you @teyanataylor for this gift and for turning our houses to homes, you are truly special in every aspect! My smile still hasn't left since her first breath! Thank you to all those that have sent positive vibes our way. You all are deeply appreciated! #iknowyallwassickofourmaternityshoots #yallstillloveus Cue the Gnarls Barkley – smiley faces. Mommy carried you. Daddy delivered you. 12.16.15 we love you June bug! #meettheparents

A photo posted by Iman Shumpert (@imanshumpert) on

Bucks prep for life without injured coach Jason Kidd

Jason Kidd
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ST. FRANCIS, Wis. (AP) — The Milwaukee Bucks are about to experience another unique test.

One of the youngest teams in the league will have to play without coach Jason Kidd as he recovers from right hip surgery.

It will be up to Joe Prunty, a longtime NBA assistant, to lead the Bucks while Kidd is out. Kidd has said he hopes to return to the office in a couple weeks, though it’s unclear when he might be able to coach in a game again.

There is no doubt that he’s still in charge, though.

“Trust me, as soon as soon as we are able to be talking with him, we’ll definitely be in touch,” Prunty said Monday.

Kidd was scheduled to have surgery in the morning in New York.

The Bucks made the announcement after a 101-95 win on Sunday in Phoenix that wrapped up a four-game Western Conference road trip. Kidd, 42, said the injury dated to his playing days and his second stint with the Dallas Mavericks between 2008-12.

The pain has been become chronic, and periodic cortisone shots were no longer helping, Kidd said after Sunday’s game.

“The pain has been to the point where I can’t function. I’ve taken all the medicine that I can do,” Kidd said.

The task of leading the Bucks out of their early hole in the Eastern Conference falls on Prunty, who is in his 20th season in the NBA and his third year working with Kidd. Prunty assisted Kidd in Brooklyn, then followed Kidd to Milwaukee when he took the Bucks job last season.

Prunty said he will continue to call offensive plays, while assistant Sean Sweeney will draw up the defense.

“Our system is our system,” Prunty said. “There’s not an intent to make any changes at all.”

Youth, defense and depth were the hallmarks of the Bucks’ surprise run to the playoffs last season.

At 11-18, the Bucks have had more problems early on this year. Defense was a problem in the opening weeks, though the team has been better in that area of late.

Injuries at point guard to Jerryd Bayless and Greivis Vasquez have sapped the team of backcourt depth. Three-point shooting has also been an issue.

The Bucks did welcome back forward Jabari Parker after he missed last year with a knee injury. Center Greg Monroe has been a welcome addition, especially offensively, after arriving as a free agent from Detroit.

The ideal Bucks starting lineup, which would also include 21-year-oldd Giannis Antetokounmpo, wouldn’t have a player older than 25.

“I think if we can put together whole games, not having lapses, I think we can be pretty good,” said forward John Henson. At 24, he’s another key member of the Bucks’ core.

The up-and-down season has included home wins over NBA powers Cleveland and Golden State, and a road loss last to the Los Angeles Lakers, one of the worst teams in the league.

Perhaps Prunty can get a few tips from the Warriors’ Luke Walton, that team’s interim coach while Steve Kerr recovers from back surgery. Golden State under Walton started the season an NBA-record 24-0 before the streak was snapped earlier this month by the Bucks.

“It wouldn’t be bad for Joe to take what Luke has done,” Kidd joked.

Even-keeled and composed, Prunty isn’t viewing his shot on the sideline as a showcase for himself.

“Absolutely not. I don’t know what other people are going to think, but for me this is about the Milwaukee Bucks,” he said.

He’ll make his debut on Wednesday when the Bucks host the Philadelphia 76ers.

PBT Podcast: D’Antoni’s back, Bulls unhappy, Hall of Fame, and Star Wars

Mike D'Antoni
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I believe there is a law that if you have a podcast right now you must discuss the new Star Wars movie. Serial probably will get to it next week.

ProBasketballTalk’s own Sean Highkin has seen The Force Awakens, and in the middle of the podcast tries to give us all a review without spoilers. Fortunately, mostly he and Kurt Helin talk NBA news including Mike D’Antoni being on the bench for the Sixers, Jimmy Butler wanting more out of Fred Hoiberg in Chicago, and the Hall of Fame nominees — Shaq and Iverson should be locks. Of course, the conversation gets to much more, including NBA players who shock you with how big they are in person.

As always, you can listen to the podcast below, or you can listen and subscribe via iTunes.

Kobe’s top five players he went against includes Jordan, LeBron

LOS ANGELES, CA - JANUARY 15:  Kobe Bryant #24 of the Los Angeles Lakers greets LeBron James #23 of the Cleveland Cavaliers after the game on January 15, 2015 at Staples Center in Los Angeles, California. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this Photograph, user is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. Mandatory Copyright Notice: Copyright 2015 NBAE (Photo by Juan Ocampo/NBAE via Getty Images)
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When you think about all the great players Kobe Bryant has gone against in his two decades in the NBA, you have to appreciate how hard that would be to narrow down to just five guys.

But Kobe was asked to list his toughest five, and he came up with a heck of a list, via Baxter Holmes of ESPN.

For the record that’s three guys from early in his career — Hakeem Olajuwon, Michael Jordan, Clyde Drexler — and two guys at the peak of their powers now in LeBron James and Kevin Durant.

If you have a problem with this list, well, first off it’s Kobe’s opinion so you can tell him how his 20 years experience in the league and keen basketball mind are wrong. From our armchair, we can certainly make a better list (*cough*). Second, all those guys are studs and current or future Hall of Famers.

Drexler may be a guy some younger fans sleep on, because he didn’t necessarily put up the highlights that someone like Tracy McGrady did. But Drexler is a Hall of Famer who was key to the 1995 Houston Championship but before that had been an essential part of the excellent Portland teams of the late 1980s and early 1990s, including making it to the Finals in 1990 (falling to the Bad Boy Pistons). Drexler is a 10-time All-Star, five-time All-NBA, hard to defend wing that was a guy Kobe had to get by early in his career. He belongs on that list.