Kurt Helin

Wahlburgers Coney Island Preview Party

Bulls’ Jimmy Butler talks about how Mark Wahlberg inspires him


Mark Wahlberg has come a long way, from Marky Mark to the star of “Boogie Nights” to the guy who was nominated for an Oscar in “The Departed.” Not to mention being an executive producer on “Entourage” and “Boardwalk Empire” while co-owning a chain of hamburger joints.

Wahlberg and the Bulls Jimmy Butler met a couple of years back when the actor was in Chicago filming the latest (but unfortunately not last) Transformers movie. They played some pickup, hit it off and are still friends.

It was a relaxed Butler speaking to the media out in Las Vegas at the Team USA mini-camp — signing a five-year, $95 million deal will put you at ease, I guess — and he talked to Sam Smith of Bulls.com about his relationship with Wahlberg (hat tip Ball Don’t Lie and Blog a Bull).

“From where he’s come from, he’s taught me so much,” Butler said. “What he’s been through to where he is now, we are kind of on the same path, just a little bit different. All this adversity where he is now….

“More than anything he doesn’t care I am an NBA player,” said Butler. “He just wants me moving in the right direction. He’s a role model for so many people. But I look up to him for the way he is with his kids, his family. And the way he treats his entourage (the successful HBO series and later movie was loosely based on Wahlberg). Everybody respects the guy because he treats you with respect. That’s how I want to be known. I want to treat you all with respect….

“The dude is an incredible dude,” said Butler. “He is one of the most genuine people you can be around. He works hard, studies the scripts. He just finished up Deep Water Horizon, but he’s probably on two scripts from now because that’s how his mind works. He’s actually the one (that) got (me) waking up at 5 o’clock and working because that’s what he does, wakes up 4:30, 5 and he reads (scripts) and then he goes works out and starts his day.”

I don’t know much about Wahlberg, but if Butler is getting that much out of their relationship, then good for him. Both guys had rough upbringings and made something of themselves. That’s a good foundation for a bond.

And Butler, say hi to your mother for me.

Kevin Durant says don’t believe thousands of rumors to come about his free agency plans

Miami Heat v Oklahoma City Thunder

Kevin Durant is the franchise changing, super-elite free agent next summer that every team is dreaming about.

While logic would tell you Oklahoma City remains the clear frontrunner, fans and executives dreams of free agency are not based in logic. Teams are planning just in case; fans are daydreaming and trying to talk themselves into why Durant wants to be a Wizard/Knick/Laker/Sun/whatever.

Which means there will be roughly 82,429 rumors between now and next July about what Kevin Durant wants to do as a free agent. Kevin Durant wants you to believe none of them, something he told Ken Berger of CBSSports.com.

Along with Matty Ice [Thunder PR man Matt Tumbleson], I’ve got two people that I trust with my life, my agent and my manager, who’s my best friend as well. I trust them with my life. So if you hear sources or anything, don’t believe it if it didn’t come from them. I tell them everything. We bounce ideas off each other. We collaborate on a lot of different things. They give me advice. so throughout this year, if you hear sources from anybody, it’s not true, unless you hear it from Charlie Bell, Rich Kleiman or Kevin Durant.

Of course, this will be about as effective as the Zune.

Other executives will talk, other agents will talk, and these conversations will become reports that will spread around the league. Durant will try to ignore them and stay focused on winning with a finally healthy Thunder roster. Certainly, how this season plays out will impact both his ultimate decision and the rumors.

Bottom line: Kevin Durant doesn’t know what Kevin Durant is going to do next summer. He knows how he is leaning, he knows what his priorities will be (after money, he’s a max everywhere although the Thunder can offer another year and larger raises), he knows the guys he wants to play with and the ones he doesn’t. But he can’t predict how things will look next July, an NBA season can feel like a lifetime.

So take the rumors with plenty of salt. But know they are coming in waves.

Martell Webster as stretch four? Wizards may try it next season.

Washington Wizards v Cleveland Cavaliers
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When the Washington Wizards tip-off next season, they will have Marcin Gortat at center and Nene at power forward.

But their moves this summer show that when one of those two sits (specifically Nene) the Wizards will embrace going small, as they did last playoffs when they blistered the Raptors in the first round. (Small-ball was less effective against the Hawks.) Washington let Kevin Seraphin walk to the Knicks this summer and replaced him with guys like Jared Dudley, a stretch four. (Paul Pierce left, but it was Otto Porter’s time.)

What about Martell Webster?

He may play some stretch four, too. But he is going to have to earn those minutes, notes J. Michael at CSNmidatlantic.com.

Webster played some (at the four) when he began his career with the Portland Trail Blazers and the Wizards have floated the  possibility of using him there when — if? — he can work his way back onto the court.

The challenge, of course, will be cracking the rotation that already has Drew Gooden, Jared Dudley and Alan Anderson expecting to log a majority of the time there behind Nene when the Wizards go to small-ball lineups.  Webster, who is 6-7, played in just 32 games last season which was his least since the 2008-09 season. It also was the first time since then that Webster didn’t log a start.

The challenge for Webster — and the Wizards as a whole — going small is on the defensive end. As Matt Moore pointed out in an interesting piece at CBSSports.com, the Wizards three-point shooting and offense was much better when they went small, but the Hawks defense neutralized that somewhat. Worse yet the small ball Wizards simply tried to outscore teams, their defense suffered. That can sometimes work, against certain lineups, but it is not a long-term solution. Look at it this way, the Warriors are champions because they can go small without sacrificing defensively (thanks to Draymond Green — that’s why he’s getting paid more than you, Tristan). That is hard to replicate.

Webster is going to have to stay healthy then actually knock down threes to see the court as a stretch four — you don’t help space the floor if nobody respects you from three.

But as the Wizards go small more often — at least we expect Randy Wittman to go small more — Webster will get a chance to prove he has a role with the team, and in a small-ball NBA.


Miami’s Justise Winslow signs with Adidas

2015 NBA Rookie Photo Shoot

Adidas may be getting out of the NBA uniform game, but they are opening up the checkbook to stock their roster with quality players that will get the public’s eye. Most notable this summer, they landed James Harden, pulling him away from Nike. He joins stars such as Derrick Rose, Damian Lillard, and John Wall, not to mention up-and-coming players such as Andrew Wiggins.

Now you can add Justise Winslow to the mix.

The No. 10 pick of the Miami Heat, he signed a shoe deal with Adidas, the company announced.

“I’m excited to be a part of adidas,” said Winslow. “I loved playing in their basketball shoes at adidas Nations and what they’ve been doing with Kanye and Originals is changing the game. I pride myself in being the best player on the court and having unique style off it and adidas will definitely help me do both.”

Adidas Nations is the shoe brand’s big annual high school player camp and games, where many of the nation’s top young ballers come play.

Winslow looked good at that game, then in the draft landed in a spot where he should get some run and be a key part of what the Heat do this season. Winslow’s game showed it needs work at Summer League, but his athleticism and defense are things Erik Spoelstra will put to use well off the bench immediately. Plus he can dunk and will show up on some highlights from the start. He could grow into a quality player in a popular market.

Which is just what Adidas is looking for.


From Bad Idea Jeans file: Guy gets Kobe, Jordan tattoos on his calves

Kobe Jordan tattoo

Full healed tattoos/Tatuajes totalmente curados

A photo posted by Santi Monky Macchio (@el_mono_tatuador) on

From our files of people who make terrible life decisions — the “Bad Idea Jeans” file — we bring you this bit of body art:

The heads of Kobe Bryant and Michael Jordan, facing each other, on this man’s calves for all eternity. Under it simply says, “I love this game.”

I have a very laissez-faire attitude about life and what body art people choose to go with. It’s your body, make your choices. That said, we can all agree some choices are poor — this would be example 1A.

As he ages, this man will wear shorts less and less often. I’d bet it ruins at least one potential relationship (can you imagine the first time his date sees this?). It’s actually some pretty good artwork, very impressive likenesses, so I guess kudos to the artist, whoever he/she is. But really, shouldn’t you have talked him out of it?

Hat tip to Darren Rovell.