Author: Kurt Helin

Oklahoma City Thunder Media Day

Report: Thunder rookie Mitch McGary out six weeks with foot fracture

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The Thunder drafted Mitch McGary out of Michigan at No. 21 last year hoping they could develop a pick-and-pop big man out of him down the line. Minutes for rookies are hard to come by on contending teams, but in Wednesday’s preseason game he had 14 points on 7-of-14 shooting, a good start. McGary landed in a good spot to develop and maybe grab more run as the season goes on.

Now that development is taking a step back.

McGary has a fracture in his left second metatarsal and will be out about six weeks, the team announced Thursday. The injury happened in Wednesday night’s preseason game against the Nuggets.

That will have him back somewhere around Thanksgiving or a little before.

For a rookie trying to scrape is way into minutes, this is not good. But he still could be part of the long-term future in OKC.

Heat, Cavaliers players told not to do “goggle three” celebration in Brazil, where that is flipping someone off

Oklahoma City Thunder v Houston Rockets

When NBA players make a big three (and often a not big three) they celebrate — there are flying jets ala Jason Terry, guns that are holstered, some self chest pounding (think Kevin Garnett), a few others.

And there are the three point goggles, as you see modeled in the photo to the right by the most famed practitioner of it, James Harden.

Miami and Cleveland are in Rio de Janeiro for a preseason game to spread the gospel of the NBA to the South America but both teams have been told not to do the three goggles celebration after a big shot in Brazil.

Why? It’s the equivalent of flipping someone the bird here stateside. My man Chris Haynes of the Northeast Ohio Media Group filed this story (likely before tasting the Rio nightlife).

Holding up the “three-sign” or the “three-goggles” in a certain way while in Brazil could be mistaken for “f— you” or “f— off,” I was informed.

The NBA sent the Cavs and Heat a memo with a list of questionable gestures that shouldn’t be used in Brazil, we’re told. The last thing anybody wants is for the stands to clear immediately after a player nails a 3-pointer.

The Heat and Cavaliers players likely can comply (LeBron James has been known to use the gesture, but a global marketing icon like himself knows how to stay away from that kind of controversy).

Now, Harden as part of Team USA at the 2016 Rio Olympics…. that will be something to watch.

Blake Griffin shows off improved jumper with three point range. That’s not fair.

Golden State Warriors v Los Angeles Clippers

Midway through the first quarter of the Clippers first preseason game Tuesday, Blake Griffin slid into the right corner while the play started out top. The Warriors defense pretty much ignored him that far from the basket so Chris Paul whipped a pass to Griffin, who quickly went up with a smooth jumper and drained the corner three.

For the game Griffin was 9-of-17 shooting, but 7 of those nine makes were jump shots, a shot that seemed smoother than a year ago. The guy who was knocked by some a couple seasons back because “he can only dunk” has developed an outside shot that is a legitimate weapon, and this season may have expanded that range out to the three point line (last season he took just 44 threes all season and hit 12).

That’s not fair. He’s still just as explosive, he can still put the ball on the floor and finish over anyone. It’s just that now if you lay back to take away the drive he’s make you pay with the jumper. Griffin clearly worked on the shot over the summer and said this about it to Ben Bolch of the Los Angeles Times.

“It’s just the confidence, really,” Griffin said. “When I’m open, I’m going to shoot it because you just feel like it’s going in. But I’m not strictly a jump-shooter now. I have to do the things I used to do, the things that got me here.”

We’ll see how often Griffin really goes to this shot. Doc Rivers isn’t sitting around thinking, “We should use Griffin as a stretch four and keep him out of the paint.”

But you have to respect that shot from him now, which will space the floor, opening up driving lanes for Chris Paul and room for DeAndre Jordan to work in the post.

This is exactly the kind of step you need to see from contenders looking to get over the hump.

Cavaliers release pregame hype video (there’s plenty of LeBron)

Cleveland Cavaliers Media Day

This is the one-minute video that will show at Quicken Loans Arena before the Cleveland Cavaliers are announced at each home game this preseason (apparently there will be a new one for the regular season).

It what was maybe an homage  the Wizard of Oz, it starts in black-and-white with shots of Kyrie Irving, Kevin Love and Anderson Varejao (not to mention iconic shots of Cleveland) but goes to full color when they cut to LeBron James back in a Cavaliers uniform.

It’s going to be a wild season in Cleveland.

Forbes: LeBron James has most valuable athlete brand in sports

LeBron James

LeBron James is worth a lot of money.

We all knew that, but Forbes Magazine wants you to know it’s A LOT of money. Forbes released “The Forbes Fab 40: The Most Valuable Sports Brands of 2014,” a list that has Nike at the top. Which makes sense.

But when you get to athlete’s personal brands, LeBron has moved to the top of the list, past Tiger Woods.

This year the top spot belongs to LeBron James, who will be rejoining the Cleveland Cavaliers after fours season and two NBA titles with the Miami Heat. James pulled in $53 million off the court during the past year and his brand is worth $37 million, which is the amount his endorsement and non-basketball earnings exceeded the average of the top 10 off the court earners in the NBA.

LeBron’s return to Cleveland is going to jack that up even further — his approval ratings have gone up, which is good for the brand and good for sponsorship. This number is likely on the low end.

But sure, he needs to do away with the max contract limits.

Here’s your full list of the top athlete brand values from Forbes (check out the story for the team brands, company brands and event brands):

1. LeBron James ($37 million)
2. Tiger Woods ($36 million)
3. Roger Federer ($32 million)
4. Phil Mickelson ($29 million)
5. Mahendra Singh Dhoni ($20 million)
6. Usain Bolt ($19 million)
7. Cristiano Ronaldo ($17 million)
8. Kobe Bryant ($15 million)
9. Lionel Messi ($12 million)
10. Rafael Nadal ($10 million)