Kurt Helin

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Grizzlies guard Jordan Adams getting cartilage transplant

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MEMPHIS, Tenn. (AP) — Memphis Grizzlies guard Jordan Adams is having cartilage transplanted into his right knee, the one he had surgery on last August after tearing the meniscus in an offseason workout.

The Grizzlies announced that the transplant was being performed Wednesday at the Hospital for Special Surgery in New York by Dr. Riley Williams.

Adams played two games before hurting cartilage in the same knee. He had surgery Jan. 12 before a lengthy rehab program trying to return to basketball.

But he couldn’t play without pain, and Adams and the Grizzlies’ medical staff decided the guard needed a cartilage transplant.

General manager Chris Wallace called the surgery “difficult news” and said the Grizzlies hoped the procedure would help the 22nd pick overall in the 2014 draft out of UCLA return to the court.

Draymond Green says he’s a “terrible teammate” for getting suspended, Warriors would have won with him

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CLEVELAND — LeBron James was able to get comfortable and had his best game of the Finals in Game 5. Kyrie Irving was able to get to the rim and finish, and he had the best game of his career in Game 5. The Cavaliers won and stayed alive, forcing a Game 6 back in Cleveland.

Daymond Green blames himself.

“I let my teammates down not being in the game, regardless of whether I want to say, “Oh, man, it wasn’t that much,” or whether someone else wants to have an opinion and say, “Oh, it wasn’t that much” [or] “I shouldn’t have been suspended…” Green said Wednesday before practice. “At this point it doesn’t matter anymore, we lost Game 5 and we’re here for Game 6 and I have to be better and not put myself in a position, to where it isn’t a decision, and there isn’t an investigation….

“I have a strong belief that if I play Game 5 we win. But I didn’t because I put myself in a situation where I wasn’t able to play, and I thought my teammates fought, didn’t play well and with six minutes to go still down just six points. They continued to battle and battle, now it’s on me to come out and help that battle.”

Green was suspended for an accumulation of flagrant fouls. He can argue (and lose) the one about catching LeBron James down low, but he also picked up one for body slamming Michael Beasley with one second to go in a game in the first round, and that lapse of judgment was part of the reason he sat.

After being assessed an after-the-fact Flagrant 2 foul for his kick to the groin of Steven Adams in the last series, Green played a tentative Game 4 and was not nearly as effective. He said he has to be himself but be smarter walking the line and not stepping over it Thursday.

“I think I’ve got to come out and play my game regardless,” Green said. “But there are those little fine lines where you just know you can’t cross them. It’s not every play that you’re close to that line. It’s a basketball game, so there are only certain plays where you are. I just have to make sure that I’m well composed when those situations come about, that I control my emotions, that I channel that energy and use it in a positive way to help my team and not in a way to where I may feel like it helps me as a person, me as a man, but hurts my teammates. That’s irrelevant.

“He knows that if he gets another flagrant he misses Game 7,” Warriors coach Steve Kerr said. “He’s well aware of that. I’d be shocked if anything happened on that front. I think he feels bad enough as it is about missing Game 5. He’s not going to put himself at risk of missing another game.”

In a surprise to absolutely nobody, Green is confident this will be the final game of the series.

“We know the formula,” Green said. “We know the blueprint. We know that it’s not easy, though. In order to do it, you have to be locked in from the jump, and I think guys understand that. I have no doubt in my mind guys will be ready to do that.”

To a man the Cavaliers said having Green back doesn’t change their situation.

“We know that’s their money line-up, when they play small with Draymond at the five,” Cavaliers coach Tyronn Lue said. “It’s not really a big difference of preparing for that.”

“I think they’re pretty confident in what their game plan is,” Richard Jefferson said. “Their game plan got them up 3-1. We were able to come out, obviously, when they’re down a guy. We were able to come back and get a victory there. But I think they’re still pretty confident. I’d much rather be in their position than in our position, so I don’t think that they’re going to change their game plan.”

The bigger difference will be no Andrew Bogut, who is out with a bone bruise in his knee.

“It’s bad news for our team,” Kerr said. “Boges has made an impact in this series first couple of games. I thought he was really impactful. Last two we played him fewer minutes, but still he’s a defensive presence at the rim and rebounder, and a great passer. So we’ll miss the minutes that he’s been giving us.”

“It’s tough not to have Bougs out there,” Green said. “He anchors our defense a lot of the time. Very smart, very good passer on offense, great facilitator. So I mean, it’s not like a loss where you say, ‘oh, it doesn’t matter.’ It definitely matters.”

Cleveland will not wear black, sleeved alternate jerseys for Game 6. If there’s a Game 7 however….

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CLEVELAND — When the Cleveland Cavaliers came out for Game 5 of the NBA Finals in their black sleeved alternate jerseys, it turned some heads. Aside the funeral color, this was the jersey where back in November LeBron James was so frustrated with them (and his shooting) he ripped the sleeves midgame.

With some alterations — literally — the new look worked as LeBron went off for 41, Kyrie Irving matched him, and the Cavaliers won to force a Game 6.

Dave McMenamin explains how the black jerseys came around again and why the good luck jerseys will not be worn for Game 6 in a story at ESPN.

So Cashman called up a friend of his, Becky Zielinski, who works as a seamstress for the Cleveland Browns, and asked her to look into making some alterations on James’ jersey. She had experience over the years with quarterbacks who preferred to wear tight-fitting uniforms while having a looser fit around the shoulders and armpits to provide them greater range of motion to make throws. She made the same alterations for James….

The NBA does not allow the home team to wear a dark-colored uniform from their jersey set during home games in the Finals — so the Cavs will be wearing either white or gold jerseys for Game 6. But should Cleveland force a Game 7, there’s a good chance James & Co. will be back in black once again with a title on the line.

Maybe the Warriors should break out their black alternates for Game 6 on the road. Maybe it will help Stephen Curry‘s shooting.

It’s official: Andrew Bogut out 6-8 weeks with bone bruise, will miss rest of NBA Finals

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CLEVELAND — If you’re looking for a bright side, Andrew Bogut will not need surgery.

But after a collision that left the Austrailian big man rolling around on the ground grabbing his knee, it was hard to expect him back in these NBA Finals.

After reports leaked out a little before (broken by David Aldridge of TNT/NBA.com) the Warriors have made it official: Bogut is out for the remainder of the NBA Finals. From the official press release:

Warriors center Andrew Bogut, who suffered a significant impaction injury to his left nee during Monday’s Game 5 of the NBA Finals, underwent an MRI yesterday in the Bay Area. The MRI revealed the impact resulted in bone bruises to the proximal tibia and distal femur. He traveled with the team to Cleveland for Game 6, but due to the remaining length of the NBA Finals and expected recovery time, a minimum of 6-8 weeks, he will miss the remainder of the series. The injury will not require surgery and he is expected to make a full recovery.

This will force Steve Kerr to alter his starting lineup, where Bogut has been a fixture.

There have been calls for him to start Andre Iguodala over Bogut for a while now — why waste time, go straight to the death lineup, when Draymond Green is at center the Warriors are +51 this series — but Kerr has resisted that up to now. He could start Festus Ezeli or Anderson Varejao (a little dig at the Cavs if he does the latter), but even if he goes that route expect the Warriors to go small early and stay small for much of Game 6.

NBA employee takes leave of absence to train for 2016 Rio Olympics

COURTESY OF MARVELLOUS IHEUKWUMERE
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Usually when people first meet Marvellous Iheukwumere, the conversation is about her first name.

Or the topic turns to her job out of college working in the NBA league office.

But she’s taken a leave of absence from that job to train for the Olympics, where she is trying to qualify as a sprinter for Nigeria. Seth Rubinroit of NBCOlympics.com wrote a fantastic feature about her, her journey as a child from Nigeria to Texas, how she fell in love with the NBA, and her quest to make it to Rio. Here are just a few hightlights:

“Her name describes her perfectly,” said Mark Tatum, the NBA’s Deputy Commissioner and Chief Operating Officer. “She is a marvellous person in every single way.”

When she started high school at Liberal Arts and Sciences Academy in Austin, Iheukwumere focused on basketball. The track coach, LaBoris Bean, happened to be in the gym during basketball tryouts, and noticed that none of the other girls could keep up with Iheukwumere during the three-man weave passing drill. He encouraged her to run track when basketball season ended. She agreed, despite never having seen a track meet.

Tradition called for freshmen to run for the junior varsity squad. In her first meet, she received the baton in last place on the anchor leg of the 4x200m relay. Without much difficulty, she passed the seven other competitors and crossed the finish line first.nStunned, the older students demanded that Bean move Iheukwumere up to varsity. He did not need much convincing.

She went on to run in college at Columbia — despite being recruited by track powerhouse Arizona State, she opted for the better academic school — and while there worked in the NBA’s summer internship program. That evolved into a being part of the NBA Associate’s program, followed by a full-time job offer.

However, she is on a leave of absence to chase her Olympic dream — with the full blessing of the NBA.

She moved to Phoenix and ALTIS, an elite training center and home of several Olympic champions, including hurdler Aries Merritt and long jumper Greg Rutherford. Iheukwumere calls the facility, which features two theatres and an executive chef, “an athlete’s heaven.”

After a nearly two-year break from competition, Iheukwumere is still striving to match her top times from college. Her personal best in the 100m is 11.63 seconds, and 23.54 seconds in the 200m. In 2016, she said her season’s best is 11.73 seconds in the 100m and 23.60 seconds in the 200m….

To qualify to go to Rio, Iheukwumere needs to meet the Olympic standard in either the 100m (11.32 seconds) or 200m (23.20 seconds) by July 11. Two Nigerian women have already met the Olympic standard in each event, according to tilastopaja.org.

She also needs to finish in the top three at Nigeria’s Olympic Trials, July 7-9. She finished fifth in the 200m at 2014 Nigerian Nationals.

If she can make it, Adam Silver will have a good reason to watch a sport other than basketball in Rio.