Author: Kurt Helin

Virginia Tech v Ohio State

LeBron James spoke to Ohio State football before Virginia Tech game. That didn’t end well.


I don’t know what LeBron James said to the Ohio State Buckeyes before they took the field Saturday night, I just know he shouldn’t save that speech for a big Cavaliers game during the season.

LeBron is Mr. Ohio now, the king loved by all now that the prodigal son has returned.

To capitalize on that, Urban Meyer invited him to speak to the Ohio State football team before a nationally televised game Saturday against Virginia Tech that the Buckeyes were expected to win. From WSYX’s Clay Hall:

Except that things didn’t go as planned — the No. 8 Buckeyes lost to the unranked Hokies. Virginia Tech led early, Ohio State came back to tie the game 21-21, then the Hokies scored 14 fourth quarter points to get the win.

LeBron didn’t stick around for that part.

Here is email that forced Hawks’ owner Levenson to sell team

Bruce Levenson

Here’s the thing the NBA doesn’t want to discuss: What Hawks owner Bruce Levenson phrases poorly in the email below, what he uses no euphemisms in discussing, is something a lot of NBA front offices have discussed. Why do you think there is a dress code for NBA players attending games?

Levenson is selling the Hawks following an email he sent in 2012 that he self-reported to the NBA and led to an investigation. Jeff Zillgett of USA Today shared the email in tweets.

Levenson said this about his comments:

“If you’re angry about what I wrote, you should be. I’m angry at myself, too. It was inflammatory nonsense. We all may have subtle biases and preconceptions when it comes to race, but my role as a leader is to challenge them, not to validate or accommodate those who might hold them.”

This race issue is something the NBA has tried to deal with and get past since the 1970s, this email was certainly not a step forward on that account.

Following bigoted comments from 2012, Atlanta Hawks owner agrees to sell team

Bruce Levenson

When the Donald Sterling racist debacle went public with the TMZ released audio recording, Atlanta Hawks owner Bruce Levenson released a statement advocating a zero tolerance policy on such comments.

The problem is Levenson himself made some questionable comments, something he admitted in a statement released Sunday.

“In trying to address (Hawks attendance) issues, I wrote an e-mail two years ago that was inappropriate and offensive. I trivialized our fans by making clichéd assumptions about their interests (i.e. hip hop vs. country, white vs. black cheerleaders, etc.) and by stereotyping their perceptions of one another (i.e. that white fans might be afraid of our black fans). By focusing on race, I also sent the unintentional and hurtful message that our white fans are more valuable than our black fans.

“If you’re angry about what I wrote, you should be. I’m angry at myself, too. It was inflammatory nonsense. We all may have subtle biases and preconceptions when it comes to race, but my role as a leader is to challenge them, not to validate or accommodate those who might hold them.”

In the email Levenson talks about how African-American centric the Hawks crowd is, how they struggle to attract the white 35-55 demographic, and how they need to make steps to get those white fans in the building. He said he thought the black crowd was scaring off the whites who might buy season tickets and he discusses plans to make the crowd whiter.

In the wake of those comments — which Levenson self-reported to the NBA — he has agreed to sell the team, something confirmed by NBA Commissioner Adam Silver in a statement.

“Following Bruce Levenson notifying the league office this July of his August 2012 email, the NBA commenced an independent investigation regarding the circumstances of Mr. Levenson’s comments.

“Prior to the completion of the investigation, Mr. Levenson notified me last evening that he had decided to sell his controlling interest in the Atlanta Hawks. As Mr. Levenson acknowledged, the views he expressed are entirely unacceptable and are in stark contrast to the core principles of the National Basketball Association. He shared with me how truly remorseful he is for using those hurtful words and how apologetic he is to the entire NBA family – fans, players, team employees, business partners and fellow team owners – for having diverted attention away from our game.”

This came after a meetings in New York on the issue, according to Adrian Wojnarowski of Yahoo Sports.

Levenson and Michael Gearon purchased the Hawks back in 2004 for $208 million. While the team will not sell for the Clippers ridiculous $2 billion, it likely will sell for well more than triple what they paid for it (predicting the sale market is hard but the smaller market Milwaukee Bucks sold for $550 million, this sale will comfortably best that number). That likely makes the move to sell a lot easier for Levenson.

Jared Dudley says knee pain held him back with Clippers last season

Jared Dudley

Jared Dudley with the Clippers may be the textbook case of a situation that looked great on paper and not so much when he got on the court.

Dudley was better than some bitter Clippers fans give him credit for — he hit 43.2% of his corner threes and his team defense was solid as usual — but he struggled to shoot from most other places on the floor, he struggled to defend when isolated on more athletic threes, his passing was unimpressive, and his rebounding was nonexistent. His game just regressed and he was supplanted by Matt Barnes as the season wore on. You knew he would get moved this summer and he was.

Part of the reason? His knees were bothering him with tendonitis (which was known around the team last year), something his new Milwaukee coach Jason Kidd talked about to the Journal Sentinel.

“We need (his veteran presence) in the locker room as much as we need him to be himself on the court by defending and knocking down threes and being part of the team.” (Kidd said.)

Dudley said last week he struggled with the Clippers in part due to a pair of knee injuries.

“Every athlete goes through it,” Kidd said. “You’re going to have some injuries; you’re going to have a down year. But it’s how you bounce back. You get another opportunity and we look for good things from him.”

What else is Kidd going to say?

And maybe Dudley can grow into the veteran mentor role on a team loaded with young talent — Giannis Antetokounmpo, Jabari Parker, John Henson and Larry Sanders, among others. The Bucks need that.

What Kidd needs to take away from Dudley’s last season is that he can’t lean on him for 30 minutes a night, tendonitis is something where you need to get the player some rest. Doc Rivers really never gave Dudley that early in the season (when he did later Dudley didn’t respond). Kidd knows the kind of rest his veterans need, he’s been there, he can run the younger kids more.

Pelicans’ Austin Rivers: “This is my year”

Monty Williams, Austin Rivers

Last season Austin Rivers took a step forward in every aspect of the game, all the way up to “almost serviceable backup guard.” That may sound a little harsh, but watching Rivers play his rookie year two seasons ago was harsh. Last season his finishing at the rim got better (but still needs work), he became good at catch-and-shoot threes, his defense improved (but needs work), even his free throw shooting got better (although, shockingly, it still needs work). He got thrust into more minutes when Jrue Holiday got hurt and Rivers by the end of the season became a guy you could play against the other team’s reserve guards and usually hold your own.

Now entering his third season, Rivers says he’s ready to make another leap.

Rivers has been healthy all off-season and said all the right things about taking the next step, speaking to John Reid at the Times Picayune.

”I was constantly working the entire summer,” Rivers said. ”I gained 10 pounds and I’ve got stronger in my upper body. This is my year….

”I’ve strictly worked on mid-range and getting my body stronger this summer,” Rivers said earlier this week. ”I’ve got both of those things and I’m ready to prove and show people that this year.’’

The midrange game is something that needed work, it’s a key reason Rivers had a well below league average true shooting percentage of .482 last season (missed free throws hurt here too). Rivers has a good first step to go with great handles, so he gets into space or to the rim well. His problem was he’d pull up for midrange shots and clank them, or he’d get to the rim and draw contact but wouldn’t finish (53 percent shooting inside 3 feet) or hit his free throws (63 percent). Getting stronger to absorb some contact would help, and he’s got to knock down the freebees.

Rivers needs to improve just to fight for his minutes. Holiday is back and healthy and he will be the starting point guard. Behind him it will be Rivers and Russ Smith battling for minutes, with Jimmer Fredette in the mix too. Last season Rivers got minutes at the two (about 21 percent of his playing time) but if Eric Gordon and veteran journeyman John Salmons stay healthy those minutes will dry up.

The bottom line is the Pelicans with Anthony Davis are poised to make a leap this season into playoff contention in the West (I think they can make it if any of the teams above them in the deep West slip a little). This is a team on the rise and if Rivers wants to be there for the ride the former No. 10 pick has to prove it now.

Rivers needs to establish himself as the backup point guard on this team because the Pelicans have decisions to make about what to do with him long term. In a couple years he could hit the market as a restricted free agent and if he wants a little security and bigger pay checks his game has got to take some more steps forward.