Kurt Helin

Top 5 plays from Day 1 of EuroBasket

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If you spent Saturday watching college football and not the opening day of EuroBasket hoops, we understand. EuroBasket will be around all week, for when you’re not watching tennis or the NFL.

Let us bring you the best highlights of Day 1, courtesy FIBA.

I don’t know why the block at No. 4 isn’t higher, but Orlando Magic rookie Mario Hezonja is making some plays. As is our old NBA friend Rudy Fernandez.

Kobe, Jordan, Magic make Kevin Durant’s all-time starting five

USA Basketball Men's National Team Training Camp
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Kevin Durant is busy touring Europe and talking to a variety of media to promote the KD8, which launched last July. That means a lot of interviews with interviewers asking some interesting questions

On that list is an interview with Spanish NBA site NBA Maniacs, which asked Durant what his all-time starting five would be. Here’s his answer, via Google translate with a little help (hat tip to Matt Moore at Eye on Basketball).

Well, good question. I would stay with Magic Johnson as a basis for their exceptional height, vision and be a triple-double machine. As guard Kobe Bryant is a legend and five-time champion. It’s been half-life in the NBA! Michael Jordan like three. Sorry for Larry Bird, but I have to let him out for Kobe. As a power forward is difficult, between Karl Malone, Tim Duncan … I stay with Tim Duncan . For longevity, the securities and the impact it has had and still has on the court. And Shaquille O’Neal as a dominant center.

That’s an impressive five.

You could try to argue that to make it mesh you need more of a John Stockton-like pure point guard, but Magic broke the mold at that position and in my mind is the best ever at the slot. I love that he went with Tim Duncan — he is the greatest power forward ever. Center is a position with so many good options — Kareem Abdul-Jabbar would be mine, Bill Russell can be in there — but there was never a physical specimen at the five like Shaq.

Notice that there is no LeBron James. Or Durant, but only MJ would likely choose himself.

Lookin’ good — check out our new design at ProBasketballTalk, NBCSports.com

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Sometimes, you just want a new look.

You may have noticed, we’ve got one here at ProBasketballTalk and NBCSports.com. This was more than just getting a new hairstyle, this is an entirely new look top to bottom — and trust me, this is all good stuff.

Maybe the best news — we now have a true mobile site for PBT and NBCSports.com. This was maybe the thing I heard most from readers commenting to me on the old site. Now, if you’re checking Twitter on your phone and see a story link I tweet out you want to read — and I’m sure that’s 95 percent of them *cough* — you’ll roll to a mobile friendly site that is easy to read on your phone. NBCSports.com is now an adaptable, responsive layout for four different screen sizes — desktop, tablet portrait and landscape, and mobile.

Also much requested and good news, there’s a drop-down menu (just below the scoreboard, to the right of where it says “Pro Basketball Talk”) that lets you sort news by team.

Also, PBT isn’t going away but now has been folded more into the NBCSports.com NBA page. The PBT team will still bring you all the news, notes and analysis you could want from all around the NBA, but now you’ll get more — such as key stories from the Comcast SportsNet writers covering NBA teams. There’s Monte Poole with the NBA champ Warriors, A. Sherrod Blakely on the Celtics, J. Michael on the Wizards, and the list goes on and on — their best work will now be integrated right into the story stream on the NBC NBA page.

A few other changes you may notice:

• Articles now will scroll one after the other down the page — read one PBT story and you can scroll straight into the next one (if you want to see the comments on a story, just click that link and they pop up).

• A scoreboard ticker for those on desktops and tablets.

• Everything you can stream live through the site, via NBC Sports Live Extra, is there on the left-hand side of the page, so you’ll see it instantly and be able to jump right in.

• The amazing and up-to-date player news such as injury reports, transactions, and stats from Rotoworld, will be more prominently displayed throughout the site.

Change is often good — and these changes are great for you and how most of you like to consume this site and your NBA news. We are now more reader friendly — especially if you are on a smartphone.

Check it out and tell me what you think.

D’Angelo Russell says Kobe Bryant is “mentally on another level”

2015 NBA Rookie Photo Shoot
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The big headlines involving Lakers’ rookie D’Angelo Russell and Kobe Bryant this off-season came from an innocuous comment about Tracy McGrady and Kobe’s amusing Twitter reaction.

But the Lakers drafted Russell No. 2 because they saw a little Kobe in him, in the way he approached the game. They saw the mentality that helped make Kobe a star.

Russell threw out the first pitch at Dodger Stadium recently (he threw a strike) and before he went out he talked with Serena Winters of Lakers Nation about his mentality and what he sees in Kobe (hat tip Matt Moore at Eye on Basketball).

“I always preach, I didn’t get here from being the most athletic guy, the fastest guy, the tallest guy, or the strongest, I got here from my mind.”

And, that’s also what he respects so much about Kobe Bryant.

“That’s something when I watch Kobe interviews or listen to Kobe talk, he’s mentally on another level, when I listen to him, I relate to that.”

Russell is saying the right things, although following through with a Kobe-like mentality is different from talking about it. We’ll see where Russell ultimately falls on that scale.

It’s been discussed plenty that Russell didn’t have a great Summer League, that he was trying to do too much, and he struggled to catch up with the speed of the game. It’s also almost meaningless — plenty of players who had rough Summer Leagues had good seasons, while the list of Summer League MVPs who didn’t do much in the league is long. What matters is what Russell learned and how he grows from that experience. Can he apply those lessons when the games get real in late October?

That will be the true test of his mentality, because the learning curve for point guards in the NBA is steep.

Tony Parker talks about playing for legacy with Spurs, France

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When you talk about the greatest European players in NBA history, Tony Parker’s name has to come up. He’s a four-time NBA champion including one where he was Finals MVP (2007), a six-time All-Star, four times All-NBA second team, plus he has a European championship where he was the unquestioned leader of the French team.

At age 33, he is back defending that Euro title starting today (Saturday).

You can bet Gregg Popovich would prefer Parker be back in San Antonio prepping for the season in a lower-risk environment, but Parker told ESPN that playing for this title is about his legacy, and he can’t pass it up.

“My idol was Michael Jordan,” Parker said. “He was always motivated to get better. Lots of people have asked me, ‘Tony, why do you continue to play for the French national team? There’s nothing to prove.’ But I’m motivated, to play as long as possible, to use my talents for as long as possible and to push my limits.

“You look for things to motivate you. There’s history you can look at. There have been many great teams that have come before you: Yugoslavia, the great teams, Spain [now]. They’re a super example for us. … Perhaps in 10, 15, 20 years, we’ll have inspired the basketball players of France.”

Parker is the best player ever to come out of France (a country that had 10 players on NBA rosters at the start of last season). When the discussion turns to the greatest European player ever in the NBA the first answer is usually Dirk Nowitzki, and with good reason. But Parker should be mentioned in that same breath.

Now, he says, “it’s an honor to be in a conversation for the best European player in history. You don’t think of that when you start. You have all the names, guys like [Toni] Kukoc, [Drazen] Petrovic who stood out in European basketball. It’s bizarre to think of someone from France being near No. 1.”

It’s not as bizarre as it used to be, which is part of Parker’s legacy.