Kurt Helin

Terrible news: Craig Sager says his cancer has returned


After twice missing time to battle leukemia, and twice getting stem cells from his son Craig Jr., Craig Sager and his unmistakeable bright suits have been back on the sidelines of NBA games this season working for TNT. Even Gregg Popovich was happy to do sideline interviews with Sager after what the respected reporter went through.

Tuesday night on HBO’s Real Sports, Sager announces that his cancer is out of remission and back for a third time.

What is next? This is from the trailer released for the show (which can be seen above).

“Uncharted waters. I’ve already had two stem cell transplants. Very rarely does somebody have a third. So I have to maintain my strength, so I can go through this….

“Still kicking, still fighting. I haven’t won the battle. It’s not over yet, but I haven’t lost it either. There have been some victories and some setbacks. I still have to fight it and I still have a lot of work to do.”

Sager is scheduled to continue working with TNT through the end of the month, although it’s unclear if that will change.

The man is a fighter and I look forward to many future rounds between him and Popovich.

Report: No suspension/fine for Howard on Stickum incident; teams get memo


From the start, this was the most likely outcome.

Dwight Howard was caught putting Stickum on his hands — then it got on the ball — during the Rockets’ loss to the Hawks over the weekend. At the time no foul was called, just both benches were warned that the substance is not permitted in the NBA. Howard said he did this every game and didn’t think it was a big deal.

The league has investigated, and there will be no suspension or fine for Howard, reports Shams Charania of The Vertical at Yahoo Sports.

While some people around the league wanted to see the Rockets punished for the incident, former Nets executive Bobby Marks (also of Yahoo’s Vertical) had the more consensus opinion.

Howard had used other, allowed products, and has said he likely will just go back to those rather than the spray.

If Howard and the Rockets are looking for another bright side, the Thunder’s Steven Adams thinks no stickum might help Howard at the free throw line.

Rockets’ Dwight Howard upset by being called a cheater


OKLAHOMA CITY (AP) — Dwight Howard is surprised and disappointed that he’s being labeled a cheater.

The NBA is reviewing the Rockets center’s use of a sticky substance on his hands during Houston’s loss to the Atlanta Hawks on Saturday. Atlanta’s Paul Millsap complained about the ball while shooting free throws with 3:36 remaining in the first quarter. Howard had made a layup before Millsap’s free throws.

Howard said Monday that he doesn’t understand what all the fuss is about.

“I just think that it’s getting overblown, like I’m doing something crazy,” he said. “But again, I’ve never been a cheater, never been the type of player that has to do something illegal to win. It’s upsetting, but I can’t control it now.”

After the incident, referees gave warnings to each bench and then approached the scorer’s table, where they were directed to a can covered with white tape. The can was removed, and one of the officials told the scorer to alert him if it was seen again.

Howard noted that many players use sprays and powders on their hands during games.

“I’ve been using the spray for the last five years,” he said. “I never hid the spray. I never did anything to try to hide what I was doing. It was just something to make my hands dry.”

There was no penalty issued during the game. Rockets coach J.B. Bickerstaff said the league interviewed him Sunday night, but he hasn’t been notified of any disciplinary action. The Rockets play the Oklahoma City Thunder on Tuesday.

Bickerstaff was surprised that anyone asked about the can, and by reports that the team tried to hide it from the officials.

“Every time Dwight goes into the game, it’s the same routine,” he said. “It was no cover-up on my part.”

Bickerstaff said Howard has done nothing wrong.

“He’s never run to the back in the locker room to try to trick anyone,” he said. “It was never brought to our attention. No one’s ever said anything to us about it. If you go back, you can watch every single one of our games for the past three years, it’s (the can) there. So we were obviously surprised by the attention it has drawn.”

Follow Cliff Brunt on Twitter: http://www.twitter.com/CliffBruntAP

PBT Podcast: Jonathan Abrams talks new book about high school to NBA generation

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Kobe Bryant. Kevin Garnett. LeBron James. They are the most captivating players of the past couple decades in the NBA.

Leon Smith. Lenny Cooke. Taj McDavid.

You probably don’t know who they are. What ties them all together is they all went straight from high school to the NBA in a decade starting in the mid-1990s. Many others not mentioned at the extremes when on to have solid careers (Jermaine O’Neal, Tyson Chandler, Al Harrington to name a few).

Jonathan Abrams new book “Boys Among Men” takes a detailed look at the high school to NBA generation at all levels, and he joins NBC’s Kurt Helin to discuss that trend, what happened to the players, and the future of the one-and-done rule.

As always, you can listen to the podcast below, or listen and subscribe via iTunesdownload it directly here, or you can check out our new PBT Podcast homepage, which has the most recent episodes available. If you have the Stitcher app, you can listen there as well.

Anthony Davis says he played through torn labrum for three years, will miss Olympics

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This is surprising. And sounds a little disturbing.

Anthony Davis has been shut down for the season due to needing surgeries on both his knee and shoulder. He’s going to be out of action for about five months, but before going under the knife, he spoke to the media Monday.

And he said this shoulder issue has been there for years. From Justin Verrier of ESPN:

I’m not a doctor, and I’m not going to play one on the Internet. I don’t know the severity or all the impacts of Davis’ torn labrum, or if there was further potential damage from him playing through it. A minor tear in the right spot can be played through. However, from the “don’t mess with a franchise cornerstone talent” perspective, three years seems a long time to let that go and not have an operation.

Davis also made official what USA Basketball feared.

Somewhere Mike Krzyzewski took a short break from preparing Duke to face Oregon and shed a tear. Davis’ athleticism and rim protection is a perfect fit with Coach K’s USA Basketball philosophy — we have better athletes with you, and we’re going to use that to overwhelm you with pressure and pace. Not that having to sub in DeMarcus Cousins and others at the five is going to hurt the USA’s gold medal chances (the USA’s third team likely wins gold), but nobody is as an ideal fit for the system as Davis.