Kurt Helin

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NBA sends memo to teams calling for end of “mocking and/or ridiculing” of opponents, officials


A few weeks back the Memphis Grizzlies were in Portland for a game, when Chandler Parsons airballed a three. The people manning the official Portland Trail Blazers Twitter account decided to have a little fun with that.

After the game, Parsons took it personally and fired back.

Then C.J. McCollum got involved, and it went back and forth.

There have been other such exchanges. Twitter seems the perfect medium for snark, and official team accounts often poke fun at each other, but sometimes the jokes cross a line. The NBA league office wants that to end and sent a memo detailing such to every team, reports Tim MacMahon of ESPN.

The NBA sent a memo to all 30 franchises this week regarding rules prohibiting the “mocking and/or ridiculing” of opponents or game officials by teams on social media. The memo from NBA deputy commissioner Mark Tatum stated that some recent social media postings on official team accounts had “crossed the line between appropriate and inappropriate” and cited concern that “such conduct can result in ‘Twitter wars’ between players that can cause further reputational damage and subject players to discipline by the League.

The memo cited three specific examples of material that would be inappropriate for posts on official team accounts:

· Disparage, belittle or embarrass an individual opponent or game official;
· Mimic or impersonate an opponent or game official in a negative manner; or
· Criticize officiating or the NBA officiating program.

Official team social media accounts will fall in line behind this rule. Because they have no choice. The question becomes where the league draws the exact line — team Twitter accounts poking a little good-natured fun at each other on gameday is entertaining, and one of the things that works well on Twitter. Team accounts already always spin the team in a positive light, but you don’t want it to become sanitized. It shouldn’t be all puppies and rainbows, a little edge is good. Just not too much. It will be interesting to watch the league try to draw that line.

There still will be plenty of bitter, crossing-the-line snark from fans to make up for it.

NBA, Take Two partner to form NBA 2K eLeague

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NBA 2K is one of the most popular video game franchises on the market. eSports leagues are packing arenas nationwide with fans.

The NBA sees the opportunity, so the league is partnering with Take-Two Interactive Software — makers of the NBA 2K video game series — to launch an eSports league based on the NBA 2K series. It is set to begin in 2018.

This would be the first official eSports league operated by a professional sports league in the United States. The goal is to have 30 NBA 2K teams, each owned and paired with an NBA franchise. Those five-man teams will play head-to-head through a five-month season, then head to the playoffs and eventually a championship series.

“We believe we have a unique opportunity to develop something truly special for our fans and the young and growing eSports community,” NBA Commissioner Adam Silver said in a statement.  “We look forward to combining our best-in-class NBA sports team operators with Take-Two’s competitive gaming expertise to create a brand new league experience.”

The one key difference between the league teams and the NBA 2K you play at home is actual NBA players will not be represented in these 2K games, rather the avatars will come from the players themselves, based on their preferences and styles.

However the league will sell tickets — eSports tournaments for other games fill NBA arenas across the nation — and have merchandise for the teams. There are a handful of NBA owners — and a couple of players — who have investments in eLeague sports teams, this is just a smart progression of that process.


Spike Lee had Carmelo Anthony’s back: “I’ll pack Phil’s bags for him”

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Carmelo Anthony has been booed recently in Madison Square Garden. There is a segment of Knicks fans ready to move on from his era and make Kristaps Porzingis the center of the New York universe, and they see Anthony’s level of play and refusal to be traded as an impediment to that inevitable change.

However, there is also a segment of Knicks’ fandom that has Anthony’s back and understandably sees management as the issue — Phil Jackson has been the problem, not Anthony.

Count courtside regular and Knicks superfan Spike Lee among the latter group, via ESPN.

“I’ll pack Phil’s bags for him,” Lee told Tencent-ESPN’s Steve Zeng….

“I think I still believe in Carmelo, but Phil Jackson is making it very difficult for him,” Lee told Tencent-ESPN on Wednesday.

Carmelo Anthony has taken a lot of criticism over the years — and most recently from Phil Jackson — about his ability to lead the Knicks anywhere near title contention. He didn’t evolve into the kind of leader that Jackson had with Michael Jordan or Kobe Bryant. That may be true, but Anthony also has never had anywhere near the quality of teams around him MJ or Kobe did when they were winning rings — and that is on management. Not just Jackson, but the GMs going back a couple of decades, which kind of all swings back to owner James Dolan. We can debate if Anthony’s style of game — too much isolation on offense, not a lot of focus on defense — could have lifted a team to a title, but we’d be speculating because the Knicks never gave him a roster that could begin to answer that question.

Spike Lee has a point. Anthony wanted to be a Knick and played hard for this team. Fans should appreciate that.

That said, Anthony’s career arc and Porzingis’ career arc are not going to intersect anywhere near a title, either. The idea that it is time to find a new home for Anthony and retool the roster to fit Porzingis’ skill set is a logical one. Jackson has just handled going about it in the most soap opera way possible.

Three things we learned Wednesday: Knicks saga just gets weirder and weirder

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If you tried to pitch this New York Knicks season as a reality television show, would the executives laugh you out of the building because it’s unrealistic? Just a thought as we break down the takeaways from last night around the NBA.

1) Just when you thought things couldn’t get stranger with Knicks, Charles Oakley gets ejected from MSG, arrested.
Well, at least you can’t blame Phil Jackson or Carmelo Anthony for this part of the saga. However, the downward spiral into madness that has become the Knicks season picked up serious momentum Wednesday night.

Former Knicks enforcer Charles Oakley may be loved by the team’s fans, but he has had a rocky relationship with the franchise itself over the last decade plus — he has criticized the organization publicly, particularly owner James Dolan. So when Oakley got a ticket and showed up to Wednesday night’s game against the Clippers, sitting just a few rows behind Dolan, it raised some eyebrows. From there the official account (via the team and NYPD) is that Oakley was verbally combative and insulting to Dolan, security showed up, Oakley resisted and even shoved a security guard, and at that point he was thrown out of the building and arrested, all while Phil Jackson tried to calm him. Oakley was charged with misdemeanor assault and criminal trespassing.

Oakley’s version of events is that he bought a ticket and was just sitting there quietly when security came up to him and asked him why he was there — that Dolan wanted him thrown out for no reason. That’s when the confrontation started, and things got physical, because he refused to leave a seat that was his.

This part of the saga isn’t over as Oakley will have court dates coming up soon, he will have lawyers, and James Dolan will have his name back in the paper for something other than his band again.

Also, the Clippers (still without Chris Paul) beat the Knicks, while more Jackson/Anthony drama filled the air with Anthony not wanting to be forced out of town. Oakley is just a part of the spiral down this season has become in Madison Square Garden.

2) Cavaliers’ “remember we own the East” tour continued with win over Pacers (while Raptors, Celtics lose). The Indiana Pacers had won seven in a row and were one of the hot teams in the East. They had done that thanks to very good defense — best in the NBA over the seven games of the streak — and the one thing they were doing better was defending the arc, taking away three-point chances for opponents.

Enter the Cavaliers, who got 36 threes up as a team, led by Kyle Korver who was 8-of-9 from deep. Throw in 29 from Kyrie Irving, 25 from LeBron James, and the fact as a team the Cavaliers shot 62.9 percent between 3 and 23 feet from the rim, and you get a 132-117 win where the Cavs offense overpowered that Pacers defense.

Adding to the reminder the Cavaliers own the East, the Celtics fell to a Sacramento Kings team playing without the suspended DeMarcus Cousins 108-92, and the Toronto Raptors lost to the Minnesota Timberwolves 112-109 behind 31 points from Andrew Wiggins.

Interesting test for the Pacers on Friday against the hot Washington Wizards.

3) Injuries piled up: Bucks’ Jabari Parker, Nuggets Kenneth Faried join the list. A couple of what could be critical injuries came up on Wednesday night around the league. Milwaukee’s Jabari Parker has been having a borderline All-Star season averaging 20.1 points and 6.1 rebounds a game went down with what appeared could be a serious knee injury. If he’s lost for any stretch of time it’s a real blow to a team currently two games behind Detroit for the final playoff slot in the East.

Elsewhere, Denver big man Kenneth Faried rolled his ankle, left the game, then was seen leaving the arena on clutches. Faried has played well for a Nuggets team trying to hold on to the final playoff slot in the West.

Charles Oakley on ejection from Knicks game, “I didn’t say anything to (Dolan)”


Things were as ugly off the court for the Knicks Wednesday night as it has been on the court recently.

Popular former Knick Charles Oakley got into a fight with security guards and was ejected from Madison Square Garden during their game against the Clippers Wednesday. It was an ugly scene where the police told reports Oakley was cursing at team owner James Dolan — Oakley has been very critical of the Knicks owner  — Oakley had to be forcibly removed. He was ultimately arrested and charged with three counts of misdemeanor assault.

Oakley, of course, has a different view of what went down, as he told Frank Isola of the New York Daily News.

“I was there for four minutes,” Oakley said late Wednesday night. “I didn’t say anything to him. I swear on my mother. They came over and wanted to know why I was sitting there. I bought the ticket. I said why do you guys keep staring at me. Then they asked me to leave. And I said I’m not leaving”

From another Daily News story.

Oakley told me that he purchased his own tickets and was seated two rows behind Garden Chairman James Dolan. When several Knicks officials became aware of where Oakley was seated, security guards approached Oakley and asked him why he was here.

The Knicks released a statement.

As always, the truth lies somewhere in the middle of the competing narratives.

It’s just more drama for the Knicks is a season that is spiraling down the drain.