Kurt Helin

LeBron James

LeBron gives game-worn shoes to young Celtics fan with brain damage


It was a classy move.

It started with the Boston Celtics, who were hosting the Cleveland Cavaliers Tuesday night, and also honoring Aaron Miller, a 16-year-old with who has overcome brain damage to play two sports at a local high school, something Chris Forsberg detailed at ESPN.

In the second quarter of Cleveland’s 89-77 win, the Celtics honored Aaron Miller, who the team said had undergone thousands of hours of surgery and physical therapy in efforts to overcome a medical condition doctors believed would paralyze him for life. Miller now competes on the basketball and golf teams at Newton North High School.

That’s an inspiring story. It caught the ear of LeBron James, who reached out to the teen twice during the night.

Coming out of a timeout after Miller was acknowledged with a standing ovation at half court at TD Garden, James sought Miller out courtside for a brief interaction. After the game, James returned and gave Miller his game-worn sneakers.

“I wasn’t able to hear the whole story because I was in the game and Coach was drawing up the play,” James said. “But I looked up by the JumboTron and I saw what [Miller had] been through and where he is now. I think the doctor said he would never walk again or talk again. … I looked up there and right from there, it became so much more than basketball.”

That’s bigger than LeBron’s 24 points on the night. For all the triviality we can get stuck obsessing over around the NBA, for all the stories of bad deeds that get too much attention, it’s good to put stories like this out there. This is the stuff that shows how sports can inspire, and how human nature can be a tremendous force. It’s the kind of thing we should acknowledge.

It’s just LeBron, a lot of guys around the league do more in the community than is realized, or than is covered.

Dwight Howard on rumors he’s unhappy: “People make up lies and rumors”

Dwight Howard

If you’re a member of the 12-14 Houston Rockets, should you be happy? This was a team mentioned as a potential contender preseason that has a bottom five defense, has looked lazy at times, got its coach fired, and on Tuesday night lost to Sacramento.

Now have come the rumors that Dwight Howard was unhappy being second fiddle to James Harden in Houston. When asked about that after the Rockets’ loss, Howard fired back in no uncertain terms, via Jonathan Feigen of the Houston Chronicle.

“I haven’t said anything to anybody about anything,” Howard said. “People make up lies and rumors. That’s never been my focus. I’m trying to get these guys to play better and get myself to play better.

“People are going to say what they got to say to get a story out. People are always going to come up with some rumor and lies. That’s what it is. I can’t focus on that. And I don’t want my teammates to focus on that….

“I want us to win,” Howard said. “We had two upsetting losses. We’re all frustrated because we know we can play better. I haven’t said anything to any reporter or to anybody about being unhappy. That’s only noise. All the other stuff is lies.”

Howard has been the lone Rocket playing hard on defense for stretches this season — Kevin McHale said Howard was one of the few players trying to keep him employed. He should be frustrated with this teammates and Harden for their play and effort on that end this season.

But he’s not going to get a lot more touches, particularly because he often wants them in the post. Howard has had 77 post possessions this season and is shooting 39.6 percent on those. Or to put it another way, he scores just 0.7 points per possession on post-ups. He, unfortunately, doesn’t tune out Shaq and the other pundits who tell him he should get the ball in the post like they did — the game has changed with zone defenses, you can’t just dump it in the post every time down anymore and be successful. Even with his bad back, Howard is more efficient as the roll man — he shoots 58.6 percent and the Rockets score 1.06 points per possession when he gets the ball back as a roll man. But that’s happened just 36 times this season, less than Clint Capella on the same play.

That’s not to absolve Howard — he’s part of the problem in Houston.

But if he’s not unhappy with how things are with the Rockets this season I’d be more concerned.

Five Takeaways from NBA Tuesday: Is anybody happy in Houston?

Dwight Howard
Associated Press

If you didn’t watch the four NBA games on the slate Tuesday because you were busy stuffing your face with carbs, I understand. We’ve got you covered. Here are five things to know from an NBA Tuesday.

1) Is anybody happy in Houston? Not after loss to Kings. Dwight Howard was rumored to be unhappy in Houston, not enjoying taking a back seat to James Harden. Howard denied those rumors vehemently, but I’d be more worried if he were happy with how the Rockets are playing right now. Or how he is playing on offense. Tuesday night, Howard got fewer touches than Trevor Ariza (Howard had 48) and got off just seven shots, hitting two on his way to four points (foul trouble was part of that). Six of his seven shots were contested. Howard’s opposite number at the five, DeMarcus Cousins, had 26 and 12 on the night, leading a Kings team that controlled the boards and played hard (without the suspended Rajon Rondo). The Rockets turned the ball over 22 times and lost to the Sacramento Kings 107-97. This tweet from ESPN’s Calvin Watkins sums up Howard and the Rockets well.

Or, there was this that paints another accurate picture of the Rockets: Down 15 points with about five minutes left in the game, must-follow NBA analyst Nate Duncan wondered if the Rockets were about to pull off one of their late-game comebacks — this team tries hard the final six minutes or so of games. They are talented enough that it gets them wins. Not this time. Not often enough. Coach J.B. Bickerstaff was so concerned Tuesday that he showed both Howard and Harden the bench trying to light a fire under what has too often been a team playing disinterested basketball. At this point in the season, it’s fair to question if that message was heard, and even if it was will the results last more than two games? What should worry Rockets fans is that their climb back into the West playoffs (they were 12-12 before two losses this week) came during the soft part of the schedule. That is about to end. And the unhappiness in Houston could be growing in the coming weeks.

2) Rudy Gay had the dunk of the night. The Rockets might not have been having fun, but the Kings sure were. That includes Rudy Gay, who starts the break, gets the ball to Omri Casspi, who gives it back for a monster slam the Rockets certainly didn’t think was fun.

3) Cavaliers handle Celtics, but Iman Shumpert suffers groin injury. The Cavaliers keep on winning despite the fact they just can’t get healthy. Cleveland took charge of the game in Boston with a 17-2 run in the third quarter and went on to win 89-77. LeBron James had 24 points, Kevin Love 20. Another quality win for the Cavaliers. But the bad news is just-returned Shumpert tweaked his groin. After the game, Shumpert said he was fine but the Cavaliers said Shumpert is out Thursday when the Cavaliers take on the Thunder. Not good.

4) The Bucks beat the Warriors last week, fall to the Lakers this week. Last Saturday night against Golden State, there was a crispness, an energy to the way the Bucks played, particularly on defense. That must not have boarded the plane with them from Milwaukee. The Bucks — without Greg Monroe — were listless and a step slow on defense. Kobe Bryant looked young(er) and had 22, while rookie D'Angelo Russell showed off some pick-and-roll skills on his way to 19 points. There wasn’t much to like about the Bucks’ performance. Maybe Giannis Antetokounmpo, who had 15 points, six rebounds, and five assists and was just solid all around. Michael Carter-Williams had 19 points but needed 18 shots to get there. They better bring more energy against the Clippers on Wednesday or that will get ugly fast.

5) Larry Nance Jr. made a poster and John Henson was in it. Everyone talks about young Lakers D’Angelo Russell (who looked good running the pick-and-roll Tuesday), Julius Randle, and Jordan Clarkson. But another LA rookie Larry Nance Jr. has impressed as well — he looks like a future rotation player in the league. Don’t take my word for it, ask the Bucks and John Henson.

Kobe scores 22, leads Lakers’ 113-95 rout of Milwaukee

Kobe Bryant, Jason Kidd
Associated Press

LOS ANGELES (AP) — Kobe Bryant had 22 points and six assists during the Los Angeles Lakers’ 113-95 victory over the Bucks on Tuesday night in Milwaukee’s first game since ending Golden State’s 24-0 start to the season.

D'Angelo Russell had 19 points and seven assists as the Lakers took a 22-point lead in the third quarter and cruised to their second victory in 15 games, improving to 4-21 in Bryant’s farewell season.

Michael Carter-Williams scored 19 points for the Bucks, who played without leading scorer Greg Monroe in their first game since snapping the Warriors’ 28-game winning streak dating to last season.

Monroe was a late scratch with a sore left knee for the Bucks, who have lost 10 straight road games.

The Lakers pushed their lead to 18 points in the third quarter on a four-point play by Bryant. Moments later, Los Angeles was up by 22 – its largest lead at any point in the entire season.

Lou Williams scored 16 points, while Julius Randle had 14 points and 14 rebounds. The Lakers had a season-high 26 assists and produced seven double-digit scorers for the first time this year.


Bryant had a productive, relatively efficient game in the Lakers’ return to Staples Center after a 1-7 road trip. He also got the fourth quarter off after playing in his 11th game in 18 days.

Bryant shot an air ball on his first attempt, but later hit four straight to finish the first quarter with 10 points. He hit three 3-pointers and finished 7 for 15 from the field, building on his improved shooting in the past four games.


Bucks: G Greivis Vasquez will be out for three to four months after having knee surgery Tuesday. … G Jerryd Bayless isn’t on the trip due to a sprained ankle. … Bucks coach Jason Kidd played alongside Bryant in the 2008 Beijing Olympics. “To share that stage and win a gold medal was a lot of fun,” Kidd said. “His work ethic, his ability to perform and raise the bar each year or each game, that’s what made him special.” … John Henson had six points while starting in Monroe’s place.

Lakers: G Jordan Clarkson returned from a two-game absence with an ankle injury. … Rookie Larry Nance Jr. threw down a high-flying dunk on Henson in the third quarter.


DeMarcus Cousins’ manager ejected after slapping Jason Terry’s arm


DeMarcus Cousins had a big night Tuesday night. With Drake looking on from courtside the Kings’ center scored 26 points and grabbed 12 boards leading the Kings to a 107-97 win over Houston.

Cousins’ manager Andrew Rogers didn’t have as good a night — he was ejected.

It happened because of a third-quarter play, reports the Associated Press. Sacramento’s Ben McLemore had a steal and was racing out for a breakaway dunk, and the Rockets’ Jason Terry was trying to run him down. As McLemore scored, Terry tried to slow himself down and put out his arms as he sped toward the fans in the first row under the basket. Rogers reaches out and in the video above you can see him slap at Terry’s arm. That caused Terry to turn around and words were exchanged.

When it was all done Rogers was removed from his front row and thrown out of the building, according to multiple reports from the game.

If you’re someone around the Kings’ right now, try not to add to the controversies for a while. Please. This is all getting a bit ridiculous.