Kurt Helin

Atlanta Hawks v Cleveland Cavaliers - Game Four

David Blatt on LeBron James bench actions: He “always put the team’s success beyond his”

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Whether because he was focused on doing everything he could to win, or because he doesn’t respect David Blatt (or a little both), LeBron James came off as dismissive of his coach at times this season. LeBron said all the right things, but his actions told a different story. In the Finals LeBron was chirping when Blatt would make a decision he didn’t like, he made Blatt redraw one inbound play, he talked to assistant Tyronn Lue at critical moments more than Blatt. If you don’t think his teammates don’t notice all that, you’re kidding yourself.

So how does Blatt feel about all this?

Blatt was basically asked this during his press conference Thursday, and gave an answer that shows he knows where the power lies, as reported by Joe Vardon of the Cleveland Plain Dealer.

“He is our best player,” Blatt said of James. “He’s the league’s best player. He’s a winner. He’s a proven champion. I think it’s important that he feels empowered and at the same time that he knows that he’s very much a part of this team. And I think he’s exhibited that, and always put the team’s success beyond his.”

And…

“Now if he has felt that he has what to say and wants to impose his will in terms of influencing in a positive way on those around him, that’s a good thing,” Blatt said. “That’s a good thing for all, and I certainly encourage that and certainly respected the fact that LeBron’s heart was in the right place.”

 

The Cavaliers say that the Blatt and LeBron relationship is all good now, that the stories are just selling sensationalism.

To me, it all feels a Détente. LeBron thinks he can work with this, at least for now. Plus, if Blatt gets axed this summer, after coaching a team in the NBA Finals in his first year in the NBA (something he admitted was a steep learning curve), the blood is all on LeBron’s hands. And that’s not his style.

Rather, the Cavaliers will upgrade the roster, and see if Blatt and LeBron can take this team one more step next season.

Andre Iguodala thought LeBron James would get Finals MVP

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If I’d had a Finals MVP vote, I would have cast it for LeBron James. I would have been in the minority, but to me he was clear and away the best player in the series — heck, it’s not even an interesting series without him. We’ve already laid out LeBron’s case.

Andre Iguodala — who won the trophy — was with me. From Diamond Leung of the Bay Area News Group.

Iguodala was not a terrible choice. He would have been third on my list — Stephen Curry was ahead of him for me — but Iguodala was a great narrative. And so long as you let media members vote, the guy with the story will always win.

Doc Rivers: If you knew the trades Donald Sterling killed “you would fall off your chair”

File of Clippers owner Sterling sitting as he watches team play Knicks in NBA game in Los Angeles
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Clippers GM Doc Rivers has some work to do, because his offseason moves last summer tied the hands of Doc Rivers the coach come the playoffs. This is a team on the cusp, it just needs a couple pieces to be a scary contender.

Now Rivers feels he can go out and do that. He can follow his vision for team building. (Whether Lance Stephenson should be part of that vision is another question.)

Owner Steve Ballmer is writing the checks and giving Rivers freedom on the basketball side that owner Donald Sterling did not before. Here is what Rivers told the Los Angeles institution that is Fred Roggin (on the Beast 980 sports talk) about life under Sterling.

“This is really only my third year but you can make a case this is our second year if you know what I’m saying. If I someday wrote a book and told you a couple of the trades we had in the first year that we didn’t do because of other reasons, you would fall off your chair.”

Rivers should sit down with Mike Dunleavy and Elgin Baylor over some beers and swap stories on how Sterling killed smart plays, or let great free agents go, or just generally cut his basketball people off at the knees.

It never hurts to remember what a terrible sports team owner Donald Sterling was. He was (and is) and worse human being, but he was a wretched owner. Sterling killed trades that might cost the billionaire a little money, or traded away players he liked. Remember, one time his courtside seats, Sterling heckled Baron Davis — and Davis was his starting point guard.

And when you’ve got a person like Sterling as the owner who has a voice on roster moves, well, you get what you exepct.

Now, let’s move on from talking about him and start complaining about the Clippers new logo. As if that’s a real problem.

 

 

Phil Jackson congratulates Warriors, doesn’t mention three pointers

Phil Jackson
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Knicks’ Grand Poobah Phil Jackson did the classy thing Thursday, congratulating the Golden State Warriors on winning the NBA championship.

Steve Kerr is of course mentioned because he was a player for Jackson back with the Chicago Bulls back in the Jordan era.

Of course, the Warriors won the title with a historic playoff barrage of three-point shots, which should answer Jackson’s last question.

(For the record, Jackson’s point was that that you needed penetration to open up the three, you shouldn’t just gun from the arc. Which is, of course, correct. But to suggest that’s what analytics calls for shows a shallow grasp of the concepts. The point is to value the three because of the benefits it provides. The best teams in the playoffs like the Warriors and Rockets (and the Spurs a year ago, and the Heat before that) don’t hunt threes, they value them and make them a priority, but they fit in with what are basic basketball principles. I think Jackson realizes that, but he can be a cranky old man at times.)

Draymond Green celebrates title with one massive bottle of champagne

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If you’ve put up a triple-double in an NBA championship deciding game, you deserve to celebrate with a 15-litre bottle of champagne.

So you go, Draymond Green.

David Lee and Festus Ezeli also were in on this, I mean you can’t expect Green to finish that by himself.

This may be becoming a thing, Dirk Nowitzki was doing this back in 2011.

(Hat tip to the fantastic Dan Devine at Ball Don’t Lie.)