Kurt Helin

Eurobasket reaches round of 16, here is the bracket


Lose and go home — and miss out on the Rio Olympics.

That’s where things stand as EuroBasket heads into the 16-team knockout stage — the two teams that advance to the Finals get their ticket punched for the 2016 Olympics in Brazil, the next five are in the qualifying tournaments (which will have a lot of teams and wild cards. If you’re wondering who is left, here’s what the brackets sort of look like.

Saturday (Sept. 12)
Latvia vs. Slovenia
Greece vs. Belgium
pain vs. Poland
3 p.m.: France vs. Turkey

Sunday (Sept. 13)
6 a.m.: Croatia vs. Czech Republic
8:30 a.m.: Serbia vs. Finland
12:30 p.m.: Israel vs. Italy
3 p.m.: Lithuania vs. Georgia


Sept. 15
Latvia/Slovenia winner vs. France/Turkey winner
Spain/Poland winner vs. Greece/Belgium winner

Sept. 16
Croatia/Czech Republic winner vs. Serbia/Finland winner
Israel/Italy winner vs. Lithuania/Georgia winner

From there you’ve got a Final Four.

If you’re looking for favorites, France and Serbia are teams to watch, Spain is a traditional powerhouse but they have looked vulnerable, and watch out for Italy.

Draymond Green thinks Warriors still title favorites


Why can’t Golden State repeat?

Did San Antonio add LaMarcus Aldridge? Yes. Should the Cavaliers and Thunder be healthier? Likely. Are the Clippers and Rockets deeper? Yes. But that doesn’t mean that the Warriors cannot hang out with Larry O’Brien again, it just means the mountain to climb is that much steeper. And a lot of prognosticators are picking those other teams.

Daymond Green doesn’t get that at all, as he told the USA Today.

“I’m definitely fired up,” he said. “Obviously people are going to say what they’re going to say. You know everyone says ‘Oh, such and such was hurt (with the Cavs in the Finals),’ or ‘this (guy) was hurt’ or ‘the Spurs got this person’ and ‘the Cavs got this.’ That’s all fine and dandy. At the end of the day, we’re still champions. I didn’t need anybody to think that we were a favorite coming into this season to win it again. It is what it is. I want to win it again anyways, and that’s enough motivation for me.

“People are still going to come at us like we’re the defending champs. There won’t be any nights off. There won’t be any easy nights. Everybody’s going to be up for us. That doesn’t change.”

When the Spurs won the year before, Gregg Popovich expressed concern that the problem was human nature — earn a title and players naturally take their foot off the gas pedal. Stephen Curry told me not to expect that from the Warriors.

“We’re all competitors, we’re all proud of what we did last season, but once you enter a new year, we’ll get our rings on opening night, and that’s the end of the celebrating of what happened and you look forward to the next journey, the next goal, which is to win another one,” Curry said.

“I’m hopefully going to lead that charge, and we have such a great core of guys that are young and hungry and want to relive that intoxicating feeling of winning a championship. You look at the history of the league, you understand how hard it is to win one, but the challenge of winning multiple is something that I’m happy to be gunning for now, that I’ve got one under my belt. But that’s the mission.”

Any rational prognosticator is going to have the Warriors in the mix — they just won 67 games then won  title, if you don’t think they can win another you’re doing it wrong. But they also did catch a lot of breaks in terms of health last season, and it’s fair to wonder if Lady Luck will smile on them again. (Any team that wins a title catches a few breaks.)

Also, the West got deeper, and just because some people think the Spurs or Cavaliers — or Warriors or Rockets or Thunder or… — are going to win is not an insult. However, if you need that to motivate you, go for it.

Ex-Jazz Doctor: D-Will thought he didn’t need coaching

Utah Jazz v Houston Rockets, Game 7

Deron Williams and Jerry Sloan played the feud— to the point Sloan quit and D-Will still got traded. Williams thought the grass was greener elsewhere, but Avery Johnson is not always the answer to your dreams.

How bad were things? Check out what former Utah Jazz physician Dr. Lyle Mason told Salt City Hoops (hat tip Eye on Basketball):

…the personality conflict grew between him and the coach, and eventually it became impossible for the two of them to stay. When the coach quit, management still decided that it was best if he went somewhere else.

Deron was the opposite of Stockton: Deron could not handle the coach calling any plays. He wanted to call every play. I’ll never understand why that was such a big deal, that if the coach called one play, he was going to run another one, which he always did. And that was part of what really drove them apart, was that Deron just decided he didn’t need coaching, and Jerry obviously thought otherwise.

He goes on to say Williams was always kind and liked the idea of raising his children in Utah, he just couldn’t get along with Sloan.

Much like Shaq and Kobe, that was an immature version of D-Will in those years in Utah. Both he and Sloan said later they could work together again. The Williams that will suit up in Dallas this year may have lost a step physically but is going to blend in much better as a teammate than he did in Utah.

At least Rick Carlisle better hope so. Ask Rajon Rondo, Carlisle likes to call all the plays.



Why it’s overdue: Spencer Haywood finally enters HOF

1 Comment

Finally, a wrong has been righted — this weekend Spencer Haywood enters the Hall of Fame.

Why it’s overdue you see in the video above.

Haywood was a phenomenal player. He averaged 20.3 points and 10.3 rebounds a game over his career, was a five-time All-Star, the ABA’s MVP in 1970, and he has both an Olympic gold medal and an NBA ring (1980 Lakers). But that’s not the biggest impact he had on the game.

It was Haywood who sued the NBA to allow players to leave college early to enter the league. The went all the way to the Supreme Court, which sided 7-2 with Haywood. He paved the way for everyone, including Kobe Bryant and LeBron James, to enter early.

Here’s the NBA’s tribute video:


Shaq: Went easy in practice to save energy for games

Los Angeles Lakers' center Shaquille O'Neal (L) la

It was one of Kobe Bryant‘s big beefs with Shaquille O’Neal — Shaq didn’t go hard in practices, didn’t work hard in the offseason to prepare himself. Kobe’s work ethic is legendary (Phil Jackson said better than Jordan’s) while Shaq pretty much just rolled out there and dominated.

That was by design, according to Shaq. He was channeling Allen Iverson.

Shaq did an interview for “In Depth with Graham Bensinger” that gets released this weekend where he talked about his notoriously soft practice habits.

“In the words of Allen Iverson, ‘We talking about practice?’ Did I work hard in practice? No. Never. And let me tell you why. The guy that I’m playing against, they’re under me. So to try and show that they’re worthy of being an NBA player, they would touch me up. So it was my philosophy… I’m not gonna get touched up twice. I’m not gonna get beat up at practice and in the game. So I will chill in practice and I’ll give you all in the game.”

While he was on a roll, Shaq also said he used to tweak Kobe just to motivate him.

“I had to figure out a way to get him to perform at a high level. And I realized that we were the same people – we don’t like criticism and we turn it into motivation… [Kobe] was a guy that I know if I talk smack, he’s going to come out and try and score 50. I think it worked perfectly.”

Well, maybe not perfectly, but the duo did rack up some rings. But I find it hard to believe this was all Shaq going Phil Jackson/master motivator.

Check out the full interview when it comes out, there are other vintage, no-filter Shaq comments as well.