Kurt Helin

Brooklyn Nets V Detroit Pistons

Kevin Garnett took Mason Plumlee’s crab cake, gave it to Reggie Evans because “veterans eat first”

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This is about the most Kevin Garnett story ever, as relayed by new Blazer and former Net Mason Plumlee on ESPN.

You heard that right. The Nets were on a team plane last year when Plumlee got to order food first because the youngsters boarded before the vets. KG was having none of that. He took Plumlee’s crab cake, gave it to Reggie Evans — because veterans eat first — and then made Plumlee play the role of flight attendant and serve all the vets.

And Plumlee laughs about it now.

Consider this a heads up, Karl-Anthony Towns. All the lessons are not on the court.

The time Jon Stewart was a color commentator for a basketball game

Jon Stewart
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Late night television is about to undergo a huge shift — Jon Stewart is walking away from The Daily Show. More people may have watched when Jimmy Fallon took over The Tonight Show from Jay Leno (and Fallon kills it in that gig), but nobody has been more influential than Stewart.

That would be the same Stewart who once was the “color analyst” on a basketball game.

Not exactly a traditional game — 1993’s MTV Rock n’ Jock basketball game.

If you’re too young to remember, MTV used to put on softball and basketball games featuring professional athletes and musicians on the same court. So that means in 1993 you got Oliver Miller and Flavor Flav. Then there were made up rules. And Tiffani Amber Thiessen was a GM (she can be anything she wants, including a celebrity chef). So it was incredibly serious, obviously.

The play-by-play broadcaster was Steve Albert, the current Suns’ broadcaster, who recounted his experience working with Stewart on the Suns’ official Web site.

Jon Stewart? Whatever happened to him? I guess he peaked with MTV Rock N’ Jock and just couldn’t get a break after that!

But seriously, I kind of remember that experience working with Jon in generalities. I guess I could go back and look at the tapes but they’re the old Jurassic Park VHS type and on top of that, they’re packed away in a box in some storage closet gathering dust. I know, you’re saying: well why aren’t they in The Smithsonian where they belong? I’ll look into that.

Jon was an up-and-coming comedian at the time but one of those guys who had the “it” factor. You knew he was destined for something special. But of greater significance to me was his humility and the way he carried himself. He was a true sports fan, very respectful of yours truly as a play-by-play announcer and seemed genuinely thrilled to be my color commentator. For a situation that might have been somewhat foreign to him, he handled it like a pro, like he’d been doing it for years…knowing exactly when I was supposed to speak as well as when it was his turn to speak. And when he spoke, he was usually witty and funny.

We both knew our roles. I stuck to the play-by-play, with a hint of sarcasm. He listened well and reacted to things I said with a lot of enthusiasm and, of course, a lot of humor. In all due respect, for a few hours, I sort of sensed perhaps how Dean Martin might have felt working with Jerry Lewis, Carl Reiner with Mel Brooks, Bud Abbott with Lou Costello. It was an honor and a privilege and an incredible learning experience sparring verbally with one of the great comedic minds of our time.

Forget the VHS tapes — there is YouTube. Enjoy Stewart’s performance and the entire game.

Devin Harris says he wishes DeAndre Jordan had handled situation with maturity

Las Vegas Summer League Behind the Scenes
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Mark Cuban says he has moved on. The Dallas Mavericks organization moved on and went out and got Deron Williams and Zaza Pachulia.

Still, the DeAndre Jordan mid-stream reversal is the story of their off-season.

Dallas fans haven’t all moved on — wait until the Clippers visit the American Airlines Center — but in an interview with Earl K. Sneed of the team’s official Web site, reserve point guard Devin Harris summed up the feelings of many around the team:

The problem for Dallas is now they are a team battling for the eight seed in the West next season, a team without a clear path to return to the Finals while Dirk Nowitzki can still contribute. Not that Jordan alone was going to make that happen, but he was a big step down the path (along with signing Wesley Matthews, who stayed with the team).

What Jordan did was fully within his rights — it may have violated the way things are usually done, but he can change his mind any time up to signing the contract. Cuban and the Mavericks admit that.

However, this circus ended up being an extension of Jordan’s personality — he’s fun-loving, and not always the most mature guy in the locker room. He’s 27, he doesn’t have to drive a mini-van and act like he’s 47. He’s a good guy (from my limited interactions with him), and he should be enjoying all Los Angeles and life have to offer. But his personality was all over how this series of events went down, and he should have at least called Cuban as it was happening and explain his change of heart. That would have been the adult thing to do.

Now, we should all just move on… well, until the Clippers come to Dallas.

Things Pau Gasol thinks are funny: Him, Kobe finishing careers with Barcelona

FBL-US-BARCELONA
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There is 0.000001 percent chance of this happening (go ahead, use your Dumb and Dumber line here), but I found this tweet too funny not to pass along (plus, it’s August, what else is there to talk about?).

At this point, I seriously doubt Pau Gasol — or, for that matter Marc Gasol — decide to finish out their careers returning to play a year or two for Barcelona in the Spanish ABC League and eating some Escalivada. For them, however, it remains a faint possibility.

For Kobe Bryant? Are you kidding me?

Yes, he spent part of his formative years in Europe while his dad played there, but those were some of his dad’s peak years. Kobe isn’t going to pull his daughters out of school and away from their friends for a year like that to extend his career (he’s doing pretty well financially). Moreover, he’s not going to play for a year at a lower level of competition than the NBA just to grow his brand — he doesn’t need to add EuroBasket champion to his resume. Even if he were going to sell out overseas, he’d go do it in China, where he all but walks on water (and sells more shoes).

As much as Gasol found this amusing, I find it funny somebody even bothered to ask him.

Kenneth Faried focused on defense this season

Oklahoma City Thunder v Denver Nuggets
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Last season Kenneth Faried came in on a high — he had been the full Manimal for Team USA at the World Cup, and he rode that to a four-year, $50 million extension. But while Coach K liked and knew how to use Faried, Brian Shaw was a different story. Shaw asked Faried to do things on offense he couldn’t do well, kept changing his role, and the coach was understandably frustrated with Faried’s defense, so he jerked his minutes around. With that Faried’s trademark energy came and went.

Faried looked better under interim coach Melvin Hunt (after Shaw was let go), averaging 15.4 points, 9.7 rebounds and shooting 52.5 percent in the final 19 games of the season. Faried showed off an improved post-up game and that fueled his famous energy on the glass and around the court. New Nuggets coach Mike Malone needs to harness that Faried, the one Coach K found (although that USA team was loaded with other players that were a higher priority for defenses, giving Faried space to operate). If the Nuggets are going to get out and run more (as Malone has said) then Faried should thrive, he can finish the break or sprint to the post and be effective either way.

Faried said his focus this season is on the other end of the ball. From Chris Dempsey of the Denver Post.

“My defense, I’ve focused on that,” Faried said in a phone interview from Johannesburg, where he played in NBA Africa Game 2015 on Saturday. “I’ve been watching film on guys that I consider my toughest matchups, and I’ve been able to dissect them so that when the season comes around I’m able to guard those players — and become the player I want to be, and that’s hopefully defensive player of the year one day and first-team all-defense.”

 

Faried has the physical tools to be a solid defender, but the manic energy that served him well on the other end of the court was both missing and just misguided on defense. It improved last season, and if Faried can continue to turn that around he becomes a much more valuable player.

And a more valuable trade asset.

Faried was shopped around all summer, and you can be sure Denver isn’t done seeing if there is a suitor for him. The Nuggets want a locker room culture change and moving Ty Lawson was just step one, Faried could be on the move as well. He makes a lot of money and is an undersized four — one who has started to show he can be more than an energy glue guy — and the Nuggets think there will be a market for him.

In the past, when Faried has been on the trade block his play has noticeably dipped — he’s not been able to compartmentalize his life and keep the off-the-court stuff from impacting his play on it. Maybe he has matured and gotten used to that side of the NBA business.

Malone got the most out of DeMarcus Cousins in Sacramento, he may be able to do the same for Faried. If so his trade value goes up — as will the difficulty of the decision for the Nuggets because maybe he will fit with their future.

Especially if his defense improves.