NBA stars shoot threes to raise $500,000 for Sager Strong Foundation in touching moment

3 Comments

NEW ORLEANS — The spirit of Craig Sager is strong during All-Star weekend in The Big Easy and he’s going to get a spot in the Hall of Fame, deservedly so.

After Eric Gordon won the Three-Point Contest, he and the other finalists Kyrie Irving and Kemba Walker stayed on the court to shoot threes to raise money for the Sager Strong Foundation — they would shoot threes for a minute and for each make the foundation would get $10,000. Then they brought out help — Reggie Miller, James Harden, DeMar DeRozan, DJ Khaled, and others to knock down shots. That raised $130,000.

Stephen Curry tried to push that to $500,000, but it was Sager’s son that actually did it (with an assist from Shaquille O’Neal).

It was a touching moment for a great cause.

Eric Gordon returns to New Orleans and reminds locals he can shoot, wins Three-Point Contest

Leave a comment

NEW ORLEANS — After playing five injury-plagued seasons in New Orleans, where he was frustrated and a common whipping boy of fans by the end, Eric Gordon heard a smattering of boos every time he walked up to the racks in the All-Star Saturday Three-Point Shootout.

Then he reminded those fans why he the Pelicans signed him and paid him big cash — when healthy he can shoot the rock.

Gordon, now representing the Houston Rockets, won the NBA Three-Point Contest on All-Star Saturday night. He had to go to an “overtime” extra shootout round to beat Kyrie Irving for the title.

“Well, no, it’s not really weird,” to win in New Orleans, Gordon said. “I am used to these rims here. I’ve been here for five years. I’ve always been a pretty good shooter. I’m just happy to win it, just to win it.”

Did he hear the boos?

“Yeah, I heard a little bit, but I’m not worried,” Gordon said. “I was focused on trying to win. That’s all that matters.”

Golden State’s Klay Thompson, the defending champion in this event and heavy favorite to repeat, did not even advance out of the first round.

Gordon has been hot from three all season, hitting 38.5 percent from three and hitting more total threes than anyone else in the league. He’s healthy and happy in Houston and Mike D’Antoni’s system, and his play has him as the leading candidate for Sixth Man of the Year.

Gordon set the tone in the first-round with a score of 25  (players shoot 25 threes from various spots around the arc, with some balls designated for two points, called “moneyballs.” Kemba Walker with 19 in the first round as he was draining money balls from the right corner, while Irving came through with 20 to top him. Klay Thompson couldn’t match that with 18 and the defending champion was out in the first round. Kyle Lowry’s cold shooting of late continues with an event-worst nine points. Wesley Matthews was not as hot as the Mavericks of late and had just 11 points, C.J. McCollum had just 10, while Nick Young had a respectable 18 but it wasn’t enough to advance.

That advanced Gordon, Irving, and Walker on to the final round. Walker was slightly off his first round with 17 points in the finals. Irving got hot with the moneyball rack and put up 20 points again. Then Eric Gordon matched it with a hot middle to racks, so they had a shoot again. 

That Final round saw Gordon stay just a little hotter.

 

Tracy McGrady, Tim Hardaway, Chris Webber headline Hall of Fame nominated finalists

NEW ORLEANS - DECEMBER 26:  Tracy McGrady #1, Rafer Alston #12 and Yao Ming #11 of the Houston Rockets wait during a timeout against the New Orleans Hornets on December 26, 2008 at the New Orleans Arena in New Orleans, Louisiana.   The Hornets defeated the Rockets 88-79.   NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and/or using this Photograph, user is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement.  (Photo by Chris Graythen/Getty Images)
Getty Images
3 Comments

NEW ORLEANS — Tracy McGrady was one of the great scorers the NBA has ever seen. There was once a time when the debate was “McGrady or Kobe,” he was that good and went on to be a two-time NBA scoring champion, an All-NBA player multiple times, and a seven-time All-Star.

And now he’s on the cusp of being in the Naismith Basketball Hall of Fame.

“This isn’t a dream come true because when I was a kid I didn’t even know what the Hall was,” McGrady said.

McGrady was one of the Hall finalists announced on Saturday in an event surrounding the NBA All-Star Game. He, Tim Hardaway and Chris Webber headline the North American class for the Hall. Who will be voted in gets announced at the NCAA Final Four in April.

Also, legendary TNT sideline reporter Craig Sager and the New York Time’s Henry Araton will be honored with the Hall’s Curt Gowdy Media Award.

During his playing days, McGrady knew how to put on a show.

But the Hall announcement humbled a man not exactly known for that side of his personality.

“This is so surreal, I’m only 37 years old, I’m not old,” McGrady said. “For me to be up for this, I still, can’t fathom it.

“This is unbelievable, and I was truly shocked… on our show (ESPN’s The Jump) Rachel (Nichols) told me the news, I was extremely shocked about it. Seriously. I didn’t think I was eligible at the time, and here I am as a finalist. I’m nervous about what’s to come.”

Joining him near the top of the class was the crossover king Tim Hardaway — the other two-thirds of the Warriors Run TMC — Chris Mullin and Mitch Richmond — are already in the Hall. Hardaway is a favorite to join them, and his influence is still felt in the game today.

“One of my favorites was Tim Hardaway,” All-Star Kemba Walker said this weekend when asked who he watched and idolized as a youth. “Another small guard, and I just loved the way he played. There’s a lot of similarities in our game.”

Here are the other nominees.

• Chris Webber, the former Michigan standout who was part of the best Kings teams in that franchise’s history. Webber was an NBA Rookie of the Year, a four-time All-NBA player, and he averaged at least 20 points a game for nine consecutive seasons.

• Sydney Moncrief, the two-time NBA Defensive Player of the Year, an All-NBA player, and a five-time All-Star known then as what would now be called a two-way player.

“I grew up under Eddie Sutton, where if you didn’t play defense you didn’t play. Then I played under Don Nelson, where if you didn’t play offense you didn’t play,” Moncrief said. “So I guess I had some good teachers.”

• Rudy Tomjanavich, the former Rockets coach who also coach USA to gold in 2000.
• Rebecca Lobo, college national champion, gold medalist, and one of the first stars in the WNBA.
• Hugh Evans, who spent 28 seasons as a referee and officiated more than 2,000 NBA games, then served as the Supervisor of Officials for the league.
• Bill Self, the Kansas coach who won a national championship with that program in 2008.
• Bo Ryan, the Wisconsin coach who won four Division III national titles before turning Wisconsin into a powerhouse.
• Rollie Massimino, the legendary college coach who led Villanova past Georgetown to a national title in 1985 and well as four other Final Four appearances.
• Robert Hughes, a legendary high school coach from Texas who won 1,333 games over 47 seasons.
• Muffett McGraw, the coach of Notre Dame’s national powerhouse women’s team.
• Kim Mulkey, the Baylor women’s coach who led that program to two national titles.
• The Wayland Baptist University women’s team from the 1950s that was a groundbreaking program for the women’s game.

Kemba Walker wants East to roll out five point guard lineup in All-Star Game

NEW ORLEANS, LA - FEBRUARY 17:  Kemba Walker #15 of the Charlotte Hornets speaks with the media during media availability for the 2017 NBA All-Star Game at The Ritz-Carlton New Orleans on February 17, 2017 in New Orleans, Louisiana.  (Photo by Ronald Martinez/Getty Images)
Getty Images
Leave a comment

NEW ORLEANS — How’s this for small ball? A lineup of Kyrie Irving, Isaiah Thomas, Kemba Walker, John Wall, and Kyle Lowry?

Walker wants Eastern Conference coach Brad Stevens to do it Sunday night in the All-Star Game.

“I hope we can get all five guards out there at once,” Walker said Friday. “I’ll play center if they need me to.”

Walker, who officially and generously is listed as 6’1″, playing center isn’t likely. But it is good to see the five quality point guards in the East all make the roster, there were concerns one of them could have been left out in the name of roster balance.

Walker just missed the cut last year, and now in his first All-Star Game he is just trying to soak up the environment around the event.

“I’m excited, I’m really looking forward to spending the weekend with the fellas, and my family,” Walker said…

“You know we compete all year, especially against each other. Especially before (the All-Star Game), there’s chatter about who is going to make it and who’s not, you’ve got to one up the other guard. Now that we’re all here, all on the same team, it’s going to be fun.”

When the fun weekend is over, Walker returns to a Hornets team that is dropping fast, having lost 10-of-11 and having fallen out of the playoffs. Their defense has suffered, and on the offensive end it feels too much like Walker against the world — he needs more consistent help. But with the Hornets just 2.5 games out of the playoffs, Walker is holding out hope.

“We still have a fighting chance to get back into the race, we’ve just got to clean some stuff up and get locked in and hopefully we can get back into that playoff race,” Walker said. “But we’ve got to change and change really fast.”

Russell Westbrook, Stephen Curry betting favorites to be All-Star Game MVP

OAKLAND, CA - MAY 30:  Stephen Curry #30 of the Golden State Warriors and Russell Westbrook #0 of the Oklahoma City Thunder stand on the court in Game Seven of the Western Conference Finals during the 2016 NBA Playoffs at ORACLE Arena on May 30, 2016 in Oakland, California. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement.  (Photo by Ezra Shaw/Getty Images)
Getty Images
1 Comment

Predicting the NBA All-Star Game MVP is like predicting a roulette spin, it could land anywhere. Everyone in the game is talented and knows how to score, nobody plays any defense, so whoever wants it has the chance to go get it.

However, of course, there are betting odds.

And gamblers are leaning toward the obvious choices of Russell Westbrook and Stephen Curry to win the All-Star Game MVP. Here are the latest odds for the top 10, via Bovada.lv.

Russell Westbrook (WEST) 7/2
Stephen Curry (WEST) 6/1
Anthony Davis (WEST) 13/2
Kevin Durant (WEST) 7/1
James Harden (WEST) 7/1
LeBron James (EAST) 7/1
Kyrie Irving (EAST) 15/2
Giannis Antetokounmpo (EAST) 11/1
Kawhi Leonard (WEST) 15/1
Isaiah Thomas (EAST) 15/1

Of course, we’re talking gambling, and you can bet on anything. Here are the odds for the Saturday night events:

Slam Dunk Contest
Aaron Gordon (ORL) 5/8
Derrick Jones Jr. (PHO) 5/4
DeAndre Jordan (LAC) 8/1
Glenn Robinson III (IND) 9/1

Three-Point Contest
Klay Thompson (GSW) 11/10
Kyrie Irving (CLE) 4/1
CJ McCollum (POR) 8/1
Eric Gordon (HOU) 9/1
Kyle Lowry (TOR) 9/1
Nick Young (LAL) 9/1
Wes Matthews (DAL) 11/1
Kemba Walker (CHA) 11/1

Skills Competition
Isaiah Thomas (BOS) 2/1
John Wall (WAS) 9/4
Devin Booker (PHO) 4/1
Gordon Hayward (UTA) 8/1
Anthony Davis (NO) 10/1
Kristaps Porzingis (NY) 10/1
DeMarcus Cousins (SAC) 15/1
Nikola Jokic (DEN) 15/1