Kurt Helin

MIAMI, FL - NOVEMBER 17:  Kevin Garnett #21 of the Minnesota Timberwolves looks on during a game against the Miami Heat at American Airlines Arena on November 17, 2015 in Miami, Florida. 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:  (Photo by Mike Ehrmann/Getty Images)

NBA family reacts to retirement of Kevin Garnett

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His intensity. His work ethic. His intimidation. A big man who could step out and face up, then knock down the jumper.

Kevin Garnett has left a legacy in the NBA like few others. He was as influential on future generations as any big who has come through the sport — he helped change the NBA.

Friday KG made it official, he is retiring. And the tributes came pouring in.

“Kevin Garnett is one of the fiercest competitors our league has ever seen. He held himself to the highest standard of preparation and performance for a remarkable 21 seasons,” NBA Commissioner Adam Silver said. “On behalf of the NBA family, I thank Kevin for his sustained excellence and the enormous impact he’s had on the game.”

“Everything changed the day Kevin arrived in Boston” — Wyc Grousbeck, Boston Celtics owner.

Warriors to break out Run TMC-era ’90s throwback jerseys this season

warriorstmc
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Until the past couple of years, the Run TMC era was the most entertaining and one of the greatest eras of Golden State Warriors basketball. Even if it lasted just two years. Tim Hardaway, Mitch Richmond, and Chris Mullin — with Don Nelson pushing them as coach — brought up-tempo basketball and some playground to the Bay Area.

This season, the Warriors are going to honor that era with some throwback jersey nights, the team announced Friday. From the official press release:

The new Crossover alternate uniform harkens back to the “Run TMC” era Warriors of the early 90’s and features the very same diagonal lettering worn by the team then, mixed with the color scheme and design of the jerseys the team wears on the road now.

The Warriors will wear them for six games this season, all on Sundays:

Sunday, October 30th at Phoenix
Sunday, November 13th vs. Phoenix
Sunday, January 22nd at Orlando
Sunday, March 5th at New York
Sunday, March 26th vs. Memphis
Sunday, April 2nd vs. Washington

I like the look, although the Run TMC crew’s best season was 44 wins and a second round exit. These Warriors expect more than that.

warriorstmc

Westbrook on police shootings: “Something has to change”

OAKLAND, CA - MAY 30:  Russell Westbrook #0 of the Oklahoma City Thunder looks on prior to Game Seven of the Western Conference Finals against the Golden State Warriors during the 2016 NBA Playoffs at ORACLE Arena on May 30, 2016 in Oakland, 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.  (Photo by Ezra Shaw/Getty Images)
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OKLAHOMA CITY (AP) — Russell Westbrook is a multi-millionaire basketball player, far removed from the rough community he came from in the Los Angeles area.

When the Thunder All-Star learned about the recent police shootings of Terence Crutcher in Tulsa and Keith Scott in Charlotte, his mind went right back to his old neighborhood.

“Me growing up in the inner city and being able to see different things on a night in and day in, day out basis – it hit home for me, just being able to see the different things that’s going on globally, and giving people across the world an opportunity to see it,” Westbrook said at Thunder media day on Friday. “Now, it’s getting to a point that there’s something that needs to be changed in that aspect. I’m going to use my voice as much as possible to relay that aspect.”

Crutcher, 40, was shot Sept. 16. Police say the unarmed black man was shot by a white police officer, Betty Shelby, who has been charged with manslaughter. Tulsa is just a two-hour drive from Oklahoma City. Westbrook said the impact goes way beyond the incidents themselves.

“A lot of people don’t realize the families of all these young men,” Westbrook said. “Their mothers, brothers, sisters, uncles. I think it’s very important that we understand how the families feel throughout these situations.”

Westbrook said he plans to use his platform to help find solutions.

“Me, being an African American athlete and having a voice, I think it’s important that it’s important that I make a stand that something has to change,” he said. “I think that — obviously, I don’t have an answer. Nobody has an answer. If that was the case, we would have fixed it. But it’s important that we try to figure out what we can do to help improve the things that’s going on.”

Keith Lamont Scott, 43, was shot in Charlotte on Tuesday by a police officer. Both men are black. Thunder player Anthony Morrow, who is from Charlotte, was shaken by the shooting in his hometown.

“Obviously, I’m sad, that being in my own personal city,” he said. “It’s a very unfortunate, sad situation. It’s a sad and unfortunate time that we’re in right now. It really hit home with me with it being Tulsa, then the next day, Charlotte. It’s just something that, we’ve got to continue to pray and try to find the right answer or medium, because right now, it’s kind of all or nothing. So I’m praying for my city and Tulsa and everywhere else.”

San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick has chosen not to stand during the national anthem, saying he wouldn’t show pride in the flag of a country “that oppresses black people and people of color.”

Earlier this week, NBA players received a memo from the league and the National Basketball Players Association saying both were working on finding substantive ways to “take meaningful action” and effect “`positive change.”

Neither Westbrook nor Morrow revealed whether they would stand for the anthem. Morrow said he has no issue if an athlete protests.

“If you’ve got a voice and you’ve got a stage and you feel like expressing yourself, I totally understand that,” he said.

Thunder general manager Sam Presti said Wednesday that, though he’d prefer the players stand, he respects their right to free speech.

“We want to learn how we can help them take the symbol (flag) and try to create platforms for action,” Presti said. “And I think that’s one of the great roles that any organization can play, especially here in Oklahoma City, which is great, given our relationship with the community.”

Follow Cliff Brunt on Twitter (at)CliffBruntAP

Kevin Garnett makes it official: He is retiring after 21 NBA seasons

Kevin Garnett
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Next stop: Springfield, Mass.

Kevin Garnett, a power forward whose athleticism and skill helped redefine the position, has made official what had been reported all Friday: He is retiring. Here is his post on Instagram, saying he is thankful

To be continued…

A video posted by Kevin Garnett (@tic_pix) on

KG’s resume reads like a red carpet to the Hall of Fame: NBA champion, NBA MVP, Defensive Player of the Year, nine-time All-NBA, 12 times NBA All-Defensive team, 15 time All-Star, and the list goes on and on. All of that doesn’t do justice to a man who was one of the most influential bigs on future generations the game has ever seen.

That class in five years with Kobe Bryant, Tim Duncan, and KG, that’s going to be an induction ceremony.

51 Questions: Is Dennis Schroder ready for his starting role with the Hawks?

BOSTON, MA - APRIL 24: A detail of Dennis Schroder #17 of the Atlanta Hawks' hair during the third quarter of Game Four of the Eastern Conference Quarterfinals against the Boston Celtics during the 2016 NBA Playoffs at TD Garden on April 24, 2016 in Boston, Massachusetts. 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 Maddie Meyer/Getty Images)
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We continue PBT’s 2016-17 NBA preview series, 51 Questions. For the past few weeks, and through the start of the NBA season, we tackle 51 questions we cannot wait to see answered during the upcoming NBA season. We will delve into one almost every day between now and the start of the season. Today:

Is Dennis Schroder ready for his starting role with the Hawks?

This season, the spotlight in Atlanta will be on the big guy in the middle making his homecoming. Dwight Howard, with all his potential and all his questions, will be the man with a three-deep hoard of media members around him every time he speaks. He’s the guy who will get interviewed on TNT pregame. He will be the face of this team for many. Howard is the lightning rod.

But he’s not the biggest key to the Hawks season.

If the Hawks are going to stay a team that has home court advantage in the first round of the Eastern Conference playoffs, here is the question that matters most:

Is Dennis Schroder ready to be Atlanta’s starting point guard?

There are follow-up questions there: Can Schroder adjust his game to fit coach Mike Budenholzer’s ball-sharing style better? Can he turn the stretches of game-changing play into something consistent? Can players such as Paul Millsap adjust to Schroder’s style of shot creation?

For the past couple seasons — when the Hawks won 60 then 48 games — Jeff Teague was the point guard setting up the offense, Schroder came off the bench as a change of pace (and at times the two played together). Teague created shots off the pick-and-roll and was good about moving the ball to the hot hand — Millsap, Al Horford, Kyle Kover, whoever. Teague is more of a classic point guard who fit well with Atlanta’s team-first system.

However, in the clutch down-the-stretch moments of Games 1 and 4 of the Eastern Conference semifinals last season (which the Hawks lost to the Cavaliers), Budenholzer turned to Schroder. Now he’s turned to Schroder full time.

Schroder brings a different style. A more aggressive style based around his quickness with the ball. Schroder is more shoot first — except his shooting needs to improve. Schroder shot 32.2 percent from three last season, and the undersized point guard shot just 52.8 percent inside the restricted area. He doesn’t draw a lot of fouls on those drives, either.

Schroder uses the pick-and-roll differently than Teague, the young German prefers to pound the ball more and probe with his dribble when he comes off the pick. That’s probably fine with Howard, who seems to hate to come out and set high picks then roll (even though that’s his strength) because of a warped idea that big men need to ball in the post.

The questions about the new point guard come down to this: Schroder isn’t as quick a decision maker in the half court as Teague, and his decisions often weren’t as good (they were looking for his shot, not others). That has to change, and he has to be more consistent if the Hawks are going to succeed.

On the other end of the floor, Teague was smart and steady, a quality defender. Schroder is undersized, struggles against big guards, plays aggressively and likes to take gambles for steals (he uses his length that way). The Hawks were 4.7 points per 100 possessions better defensively last season with Schroder on the bench (although there is noise in that number, how Schroder does with the other starters and Howard protecting the rim behind him remains to be seen).

It’s not hard to see why Budenholzer felt it was time to give the keys to Schroder. As nbawowy.com tells us, when Schroder, Korver, Millsap and Kent Bazemore were on the court together last season, the Hawks outscored their opponents by 12.8 points per 100 possessions (it should be noted Horford was on the court for the majority of those minutes). Overall, the Hawks outscored their opponents by 6.9 points per 100 possessions with Schroder on the court last season.

Echoing that kind of success for Atlanta this season is going to mean adjustments from everyone. Schroder has to be willing to give up the ball more readily and be a better facilitator in the half court. Coach Mike Budenholzer needs to modify his offense to play faster and more to Schroder’s strengths, plus blend in Howard (who plays the five in a very different way than Horford did on both ends of the floor). All of that is going to take some time and compromises.

The Hawks are all in on Schroder — his backup is a 32-year-old Jarrett Jack coming off an ACL surgery, he’s not taking over the job. It is Schroder that has to go from playing just more than 20 minutes a night to leading a team with playoff expectations. He can’t just do it in flashes anymore, and he’s going to have to compromise parts of his game to fit with his teammates. Starting and being a spark off the bench are very different roles.

Mike Budenholzer has bet that Schroder is ready for his turn in the spotlight.