Kurt Helin

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James Harden: “I’m excited about what D’Antoni brings to our team”

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Jason Terry has a new show on SiriusXM NBA Radio that debuted Wednesday, and the veteran guard reached into his contact list and pulled up a good one — James Harden.

The All-Star guard and his Houston Rockets had a disappointing season, missing the playoffs with a defense that could kindly be called porous. That meant changes, starting with Kevin McHale getting fired mid-season, and interim coach J.B. Bickerstaff not being brought back after the season. Now in comes the run-and-gun style of Mike D’Antoni, which fits the style management wants to play but will mean significant roster changes are needed.

Harden is pumped about the change, he told Terry in the interview, as transcribed by the Jonathan Feigen Houston Chronicle.

“I’m excited,” Harden said on Sirius XM on Wednesday. “I’m excited about the opportunity. I’ve been hearing great things about him, what he brings to our team. Obviously, our assistant coaches (Jeff Bzdelik and Roy Rogers) as well. A new beginning and I’m excited about the opportunity…

“I’m excited about what D’Antoni brings to our team. (Assistant coach Jeff) Bzdelik is a great defensive-minded coach coming from Memphis who is going to help our defensive schemes. Then the players we’re going to get, it’s set up as a great season for our team next year.”

Excitement is a good beginning. Next season needs to start with Harden showing up in much better shape, and with a much more focused commitment to defense. The changes in the Rockets need to start with him.

Terry told Harden on air the bearded one should be a great fit in the D’Antoni offense because he is a playmaker, not just a scorer. Harden’s going to have the ball in his hands — which is what he wants — and he will have control of the offense, he just can be a ball stopper.

That Harden is excited is a good first step toward the kind of changes the Rockets need.

Shaq was an undercover Lyft driver — and some people didn’t recognize him

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When Shaq walks into a room, you know. Not because of his big, playful personality — although he certainly has that — but because the man is just massive. He’s 7’1″, pushing 350 pounds, and when he shakes your hand his fingers come way up your arm. He’s also a fact that is all over your television — he’s a crossover media personality known by many.

Yet, when he wore some ridiculous disguises — and used some terrible accents — a couple of people did not recognize him as their Lyft driver, as you can see in the video above.

Lyft has done this before with famous sports stars — most notably Danica Patrick and Jerry Rice — but it’s a little easier to disguise them than the massive frame of Shaq. Still, a bunch of the passengers seemed fooled. Somehow.

The Big Lyft Driver makes for a funny video.

Check out NBA 2K17 covers with Paul George, Kobe Bryant

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What we told you may be coming on Wednesday is now official:

Paul George and Kobe Bryant are on the covers of NBA 2K17.

The people at 2K Sports made it official via Twitter on Wednesday night, complete with pictures of the cover.

It’s a fitting tribute to George, who has bounced back from a horrific leg injury to be one of the league’s biggest stars and best two-way players. George led the Indiana Pacers to the playoffs, where they pushed the Toronto Raptors to seven games. He was an All-Star and All-NBA third team averaging 23.1 points and 7 rebounds a game.

And Kobe, well he still sells. Can’t blame 2K for going with him one more time.

Sager surrounded by family for memorable return to Wrigley, sings “Take me out to the Ballgame”

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CHICAGO (AP) — Craig Sager carried around a picture from his childhood with Billy Williams, and he showed it to the Hall of Fame slugger in the home dugout at Wrigley Field. He introduced his family to Cubs manager Joe Maddon and posed for a group picture with the iconic outfield serving as a backdrop.

This was no ordinary night, even for the beloved TNT broadcaster.

The 64-year-old Sager, who is being treated for a recurrence of leukemia, threw out a ceremonial first pitch before his hometown Cubs faced the Los Angeles Dodgers on Wednesday. Dressed in a white suit with a blue shirt and a red and blue tie, Sager swapped out his jacket for a home Cubs jersey with No. 14 and his name on the back before throwing to first baseman Anthony Rizzo, also a cancer survivor.

He also led the seventh inning stretch rendition of “Take Me Out to the Ballgame,” which you can see above.

Are LeBron James and Stephen Curry rivals? They don’t think so

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LeBron James vs. Stephen Curry.

That is how this NBA Finals will be marketed, a tradition for the NBA dating back to Magic vs. Bird. The NBA markets personalities over teams, so you get Jordan vs. Stockton/Malone, or Kobe vs. Duncan, and on down the list. Now there is LeBron — the biggest star in the game over the past five years, both nationally and internationally — and Stephen Curry, the guy who has stolen that crown. Their teams meet in the Finals for the second straight year, both have a lot of legacy on the line, and you can feel loathing in the air.

Or not.

Both guys played down the idea of a rivalry the day before the NBA Finals tip off.

“I don’t think me and Steph — when you talk about rivalries, you talk about Carolina-Duke, you talk about Ohio State-Michigan,” LeBron said. “It’s hard to say LeBron and Steph. If there’s a smaller scale or another word for a rival.”

“It’s really annoying for me to be — that’s not what I’m playing for, to be the face of the NBA or to be this or that or to take LeBron’s throne or whatever,” Curry said. “You know, I’m trying to chase rings, and that’s all I’m about. So that’s where the conversation stops for me.”

There may not be animosity between LeBron and Curry, but both have a legacy points on the line here.

Curry and the Warriors won last year, took personally the idea that had been a fluke, went out and won 73 regular season games, but if they come up short now they will be seen as a team that couldn’t finish off that run.

LeBron has been in Samsung ads for a year telling us how it’s all about “winning one for the ‘Land” and that ending Cleveland’s championship drought. By going back to Cleveland he bet part of his legacy on winning a title there, and while he doesn’t have to win it this year, he will need to eventually and there are only going to be so many swings at the piñta.

So there is pressure.

Just don’t call it a rivalry.