Author: Kurt Helin

Phoenix Suns v Los Angeles Lakers

Kobe Bryant responds to ESPN article with basically a shrug (VIDEO)

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It’s been the “hot take” sports story of the week, Henry Abbott’s ESPN article saying free agents don’t want to come play for the Lakers because of Kobe Bryant.

Kobe was asked about that after the Lakers’ preseason overtime loss to the Suns Tuesday night and he basically shrugged. Kobe took the big picture view, as you can see from the video above, courtesy Shahan Ahmed of NBCLosAngeles.com.

“Understand that it’s a cycle and things are never as good or as bad as they seem in the moment.”

Those are the words of a veteran. One who is unconcerned with what is written about him. Kobe is comfortable with who he is, and if others are not — including free agents — he sees that as on them, not him.

Timberwolves’ fan’s 90210 spoof is brilliant (VIDEO)

Minnesota Timberwolves Media Day
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If you don’t love Beverly Hills 90210… then why did you click this link? Move on.

For the rest of us normal people, we know seminal television (or at least a good guilty pleasure) when we see it. What was brilliant was this video by Marcos López combining the iconic show with everyone’s favorite young and fun team.

The Ricky Rubio bit really looks like it should have been part of the show’s open.

(Hat tip That NBA Lottery Pick)

Bulls’ Jimmy Butler has sprained thumb, could miss start of season.

Atlanta Hawks v Chicago Bulls
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The Bulls open their season next week against the Knicks and then the Cavaliers. That means Jimmy Butler was going to draw Carmelo Anthony then LeBron James (at least for key stretches of the game).

Which makes this really bad news.

Butler sprained thumb will have him out for the rest of the preseason and maybe the start of the season, the Bulls announced Tuesday.

If Butler is out feisty veteran Kirk Hinrich will get the start and we may see a little more Tony Snell than usual.

That’s not bad, and the Bulls are one of those teams that plugs guys in, plays physical team defense and doesn’t miss a step. But Hinrich is no Butler (well, except for the sweet goggles).

Hopefully Butler doesn’t miss much time. Too early in the season for all these injuries around the league.

Daryl Morey sticks up for James Harden’s defense, says YouTube video “unfair”

Houston Rockets Media Day
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That video is something of an NBA YouTube legend: More than 11 minutes of James Harden’s painful defensive flubs. The thing is, it doesn’t cover all of them, and one could have added to the video with moments of Harden’s play with Team USA this summer at the World Cup.

Rockets GM Daryl Morey hates that video and told Sam Amick of the USA Today just that (hat tip Eye on Basketball).

“For whatever reason, it has taken on a life of its own,” Morey says about the criticism about Harden’s defense. “You’ve got people doing a 10-minute YouTube clip that everyone references, and I just ask anyone, ‘Take your worst 10 minutes from your job the last year and just take those worst 10 minutes and put them in a YouTube clip.’ I’m guessing it wouldn’t come out very well for anybody. That, to me, was completely unfair. That bothered me in a big way. Without context, you can grab 10 minutes of anyone and make them look like (expletive). I think reality TV proves that.”

Morey has a point… but only up to a point.

All the videos have led to the impression James Harden never plays defense, and that’s not true. He plays stretches of solid (not great, but solid) defense, but those never seem to last. It’s more a matter of focus and effort, he just doesn’t seem to care on that end.

Harden admitted to Amick he needs to focus more on his defense this season.

“It’s not a matter of whether I can or can’t play defense,” Harden says in an interview with USA TODAY Sports. “It’s just a matter of me focusing for 48 minutes throughout a game and making sure that I’m always alert on both ends of the floor … It’s up to me to go out there and show my leadership, to show that I can play both ends of the floor at a high level and just do it. If I have that approach, we’re going to go a long ways.”

Harden has said that before this preseason. If the Rockets are going to take a step forward this season — win more than 54 games and get out of the first round of the playoffs — it’s going to take a defensively focused Harden.

Which is why nobody is really predicting that.

Report: Nets minority owner puts his majority share of Barclays Center up for sale

Brooklyn New Arena
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The talks that might have sold a piece of the Brooklyn Nets and a lot of their home the Barclays Center to the owners of the Los Angeles Dodgers fell apart fairly quickly.

But that doesn’t mean the Nets’ owners stopped looking. Bruce Ratner — the former Nets majority owner who still has a piece of the team — is still trying to unload is 55 percent share of the arena, reports the Sports Business Journal.

The venue ranks as the most popular arena in the country, based on ticket sales for concerts in the first six months of the year, according to Pollstar. And beginning next year, in addition to the Brooklyn Nets, it will be home to the NHL’s New York Islanders….

The arena has more than $30 million in annual cash flow, investment banking sources said, adding that such an amount would translate to a top valuation of $750 million for the arena.

It is possible Nets owner Mikhail Prokhorov, who already owns 45 percent of the arena, could buy up the rest. However, as he was looking to shed part of the team and arena in a potential sale, it doesn’t seem he wants to take it on.

This also will all be tied into the Pacific Park development (formerly known as Atlantic Yards), a commercial and residential development project of which the Barclays Center is an anchor (bringing a lot of activity and people). Ratner and Prokhorov both are part of the investors in that development as well.