Kurt Helin

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Watch the Top 10 plays from the 2016-17 NBA season

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Trust me, this is better than watching preseason football.

The NBA.com people compiled the 10 best plays from last season — there is a lot of Cleveland and Golden State, not surprisingly — and it’s an entertaining four minutes. You’ve got time for this, it’s Saturday.

LaVar Ball accepts Ice Cube’s challenge, will play in Big3 Sunday

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Back in May, Big3 co-founder and promoter Ice Cube jumped on the “LaVar Ball will respond to anything” bandwagon and challenged Lonzo’s father to come out and play in a Big3 event and hit a four pointer. (If you haven’t been paying attention, the Big3 league has some four-point spots on the floor beyond the three-point arc.)

LaVar has accepted — and said if he hits a four Ice Cube has to buy Ball’s AAU team all Big Baller Brand shoes.

https://mobile.twitter.com/Lavarbigballer/status/896113949933948929

I’m a little surprised all-talk LaVar is stepping on the court, but it will make games Sunday at the Staples Center in Los Angeles a little more interesting.

Also this week, Charles Oakley is going to suit up and play, plus Snoop Dogg is performing at halftime of one of the games. That’s the one thing that may top Red Panda at half.

Ish Smith says Pistons point guard Reggie Jackson is looking like old self

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There were a number of reasons the Detroit Pistons took a step backwards last season, but at the top of the list was Reggie Jackson. He was battling knee tendonitis, only played in 52 games after missing the first couple months of the season, and when he returned he was a step slower and his chemistry with Andre Drummond was gone. Stan Van Gundy started to lean on journeyman Ish Smith because the team was better with Smith out there.

Detroit has plans to return to the playoffs this coming season, but they will need more out of the point guard spot to do it. Smith told Vince Ellis of the Detroit Free Press that Jackson is looking good — like his old self.

“He’s out there in California enjoying himself, but he’s getting better,” Smith, the Pistons’ backup point guard, said at the news conference to unveil the team’s new uniforms. “He’s getting back to the Reggie Jackson everybody knows and loves.”

Stan Van Gundy hopes so and is going to spend some time with Jackson soon.

“He’s doing well and feeling good, and I think feeling confident too,” Van Gundy said. “Things are going in the right way so I’m going to go out there some time in the next couple weeks and spend some time with him.”

Van Gundy said they have changed Jackson’s off-season protocol, slowly ramping him up for the season to make it easier on his knees and get them the rest they need. Smith seems to think it is working.

Van Gundy has also shopped Jackson around and searched for another point guard, don’t expect that process to stop either. If Jackson is healthy, he’s easier to trade.

Dennis Rodman: “Popovich, he hated me”

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In between stints winning titles with the Detroit Pistons and Chicago Bulls, Dennis Rodman was a San Antonio Spur. This was the pre-Tim Duncan Spurs, led by David Robinson, and is back when Gregg Popovich was a front office executive, not the coach.

It was also the time Rodman started to let his wild side show. It’s when he started dying his hair different colors throughout the season, the tattoos and piercings started to come out, and Rodman began to “be himself.” That led to clashes with Popovich, who was the GM Rodman’s second season with the Spurs.

Rodman does not have fond memories of Popovich, something he told Joe Buck on Buck’s interview show “Undeniable” (hat tip San Antonio Express News).

“The city kind of embraced me, but what’s his name, Popovich, he hated me,” Rodman said. “He hated my guts because I wasn’t a bible guy. They looked at me like I was the devil.”…

While on the show, Rodman complained that he felt like a victim during his latter stages in San Antonio. He remained on the team until he was traded to the Chicago Bulls for Will Perdue after the 1995 playoffs.

“I said my god,” Rodman said. “Am I the same guy that helped get David Robinson a scoring title and MVP? Am I the same guy that averaged 19.3 rebounds per game for you. And I the same guy we won 68 damn games? Am I that same guy, but you guys don’t like me?” Rodman said. “So I said, ‘OK, trade me,'”  he said. “They traded me to the damn Bulls.”

For the record, it was 62 wins that season and Rodman averaged 16.8 rebounds a game his second season with the Spurs, he’d averaged 17.3 the season before, both times winning the NBA rebounding title.

Popovich has shown since he will tolerate a lot of different personalities, he can work with different religions and beliefs, so long as the player is committed to basketball. Rodman was coming out of his shell and discovering things off the court, and it was the sense of commitment — while Popovich was working to build the Spurs’ culture — that was the issue. Rodman clashed with Popovich — Rodman was suspended the first three games by the team, then took a leave of absence, and when he returned was suspended again. Later that season he missed some time due to a shoulder separation suffered in a motorcycle accident.

At that point, the Spurs didn’t have the kind of locker room leaders needed to keep Rodman in line. But the Bulls did. So that trade worked out for Chicago to the tune of three more titles.

The Spurs… they turned out okay, too.

 

 

 

Nick Young, Ice Cube want to see Kobe Bryant play in Big3 next year

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Kobe Bryant back on a basketball court, tearing up his peers like old times? People would pay to see that.

As a fan of the man, Nick Young wants to see that happen again — in the Big3 League. That first-year league wraps up its regular season Sunday at the Staples Center in Los Angeles (games will be broadcast Monday on FS1), and when you’re talking basketball in LA, you are still talking Kobe’s world. Young, now a guard with the Golden State Warriors (yes, Nick Young may well end up with a ring), told TMZ he wants to see Kobe play Big3.

“If you can get Kobe, man… I wanna see that happen,” said Young.

People would pay to see Kobe be Kobe again (and they would tune into the broadcasts), which is why Big3 co-founder Ice Cube told TMZ he wants to see Kobe in the league.

“I hope his competitive juices get to itching him and he wants to come into the league, score 50 and win the game. We hope he’ll play one day. We expect to have big names next year and hopefully Kobe will be one of them.”

One thing the Big3 seemed to learn in its first year is something the NBA has mastered — stars sell tickets and bring in viewers. People may love basketball, they will play it, but if you really want to be a draw, you need stars. Allen Iverson was the Big3’s biggest draw this season (he was suspended last week after going AWOL in Dallas the week before, he is expected to be in Los Angeles).

Kobe would be a draw. However, after watching him leave the sport with injuries three of his final four seasons, and considering he seems happy having moved on with his life, I’m not sure he comes out to play. We’ll see.

Nick Young is right though, it would be fun.