With NBA Playoffs looming, Portland should have kept their heads

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Portland, Oregon may not be a big fancy city, but one thing it does have is incredible basketball fans. Smart, passionate, devoted NBA basketball fans. The collective IQ at a Blazers game is probably higher than the average. But last night it plummeted to Neanderthal levels, and it’s got nothing to do with getting mad at the official.s It’s when they did it.

Last night during the Blazers-Mavericks game, fans became so incensed at a series of what a vast majority of people would call bad calls, things got a little out of hand. Ticky-tack control fouls, foolish technicals, absurd unevenness, and pretty much one of the worst balances of the season, officiating wise. Yet, probably not the worst, and even if so, something that happens routinely in the NBA. And Blazers fans, with where they’re at, have to keep a calm head.

They did not.

As Blazers Edge covers expertly in their recap, fans started throwing things on to the court. Okay, not cool, but that’s nothing too bad. Worthy of ejection if busted, and not acceptable, but that happens about as frequently as these types of games occur. But they also started throwing things into the Mavericks’ huddle.

Too far.

I’m not going to waste your time or mine on why this unacceptable, the possible dangers of doing so, nor am I going to mention the words ‘Ron Artest” or “Malice at the Palace.” But let’s just all agree that throwing things at people is a good way to get things out of hand in a hurry.

But if we’re looking for a long-term effect of this, try this on for size.

The Blazers may be screwed come the playoffs. Sure, there are a handful of regular season games between now and the postseason. But the real consequences will come in the playoffs. With that kind of atmosphere, in what will probably end up with a series against just those Mavericks they played DodgeBeer with last night, or the Los Angeles Lakers.

You know, because LA doesn’t usually end up on the positive side of the officiating.

The Blazers fans have now set a tone that the refs have to respond to. And respond they will, most likely in the form of setting an early tone, delivering quick fouls and technicals, to make it clear that such behavior will not be allowed again. They have an obligation to set a tone, and while the officials have seen their fair share of these kinds of incidents, their hand is still forced in this instance.

Which is bad news for the Blazers. They need a scrappy first round. They need to rely on heart and ability, because their talent is severely limited by injury and other factors. They are in a position of needing to play the kind of game the officials now cannot let go because of their behavior last night. You create an environment of chaos, and unfair or not, the riot police is going to come to restore order and put people back in their homes.

Maybe I’m wrong. Maybe the tantrum the collective of Blazers fans (and personnel) will needle the refs to go back the other direction. But if they find themselves with Dirk Nowitzki or Kobe Bryant at the line 40 times in a round one game, they’ll have to deal with the fact that they, at least partially, were at fault.

The season of unfortunate circumstances for the Blazers continues.

Stephen Curry explains trash talk with LeBron James at end of 2018 Finals Game 1

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LeBron James had been a dominant force in Game 1 of the NBA Finals, but he was a frustrated man at the end after the legendary J.R. Smith blunder at the end of regulation, and the fact the Cavaliers still had a timeout at that point. Rarely does an NBA Finals feel over after one game, but LeBron had been brilliant and pushed that Cavaliers team as far as he could, and they still lost in overtime. It was crushing.

LeBron showed his frustration at the end of OT (the video is above). With the Warriors up double digits and just :30 seconds left in the extra period, Stephen Curry went in for a layup at the end of the shot clock and LeBron slid over and skied blocked it. Then the trash talk ensued — between Curry and LeBron, then with Klay Thompson stepping in and jawing at LeBron.

What went down? Curry talked about it on The Bill Simmons Podcast (as transcribed by Drew Shiller of NBC Sports Bay Area).

“It was an interesting moment …I was hot because I was trying to finish out a possession, I think it was less than a minute left, I didn’t see him coming over from the weak side so I tried to do a little soft scoop layup and he pinned it. Then he stared me down and he said something to me.

“And I was like, ‘That’s what we’re really on right now? We’re about to win and you’re worried about mean-blocking my shot and talking trash?’ And then the whole Tristan (Thompson) and Draymond (Green) thing happened and I went back up to him and I was like, ‘Yo, what’s up? Is this really what we’re about right now?’

“And he was like, ‘I gotta do that to make sure my teammates know I’m a mentor’ and it’s a part of his leadership and that type of deal. And I was like, ‘I don’t want to be the sacrificial lamb for your leadership.’ (laughter). Come on man, that’s messed up.”

There was nothing wrong with what LeBron did — the clock was running, the game was still on, and he made a play. Doesn’t matter if the game was decided, Curry decided to take a shot and LeBron stopped it. And LeBron was frustrated, so he talked a little.

Now, LeBron’s in the West with the Lakers. Last season Steve Kerr talked more than once about the challenge of keeping the Warriors focused, motivated, and building good habits during the grind of the regular season. You think LeBron in the Warriors’ division might help with that a little this season?

Dwyane Wade warns Jimmy Butler to stop commenting like that on photo of his wife, Gabrielle Union

Maddie Meyer/Getty Images
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Jimmy Butler stays having no chill.

Not when his teammates don’t match his level of competitiveness. Not when his coach eases up. Not when a fan gets too demanding.

And not when Gabrielle Union posts this photo to Instagram:

💧

A post shared by Gabrielle Union-Wade (@gabunion) on

Butler commented:

Then Butler posted an unrelated video to his Instagram captioned “The good, the bad, and the ugly,” on which Wade replied:

Wade and Butler – who both played at Marquette then were teammates with the Bulls – are friends.

At least, they were.

Clippers owner Steve Ballmer: ‘We’re moving to Inglewood come hell or high water’

AP Photo/David J. Phillip
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The Lakers and Clippers share an arena in Los Angeles, which – as everyone understands it – means the Clippers play in the Lakers’ arena.

That doesn’t sit well with Clippers owner Steve Ballmer. So, he wants to get a new arena built just for the Clippers in Inglewood.

And cost, legal red tape and lawsuits aren’t going to stop him.

Helene Elliot of The Los Angeles Times:

“We’re moving to Inglewood come hell or high water,” he said of a proposed arena near the site of the stadium being constructed for the Rams and Chargers. “We gotta have a house. So we’re working on a plan to get our own house. We want to get our own house. It turns out the way this works in L.A., which is much beloved to me, that if you start now you might be done in six years.”

Ballmer is probably used to getting what he wants. I doubt he backs down here. It should be noted some of the legal and public relations push back on the plans comes from funding via the Madison Square Garden group (owned by Knicks’ owner James Dolan), which five years ago sank $100 million into the Lakers’ old home the Forum to refurbish it into a major concert venue. The new Clippers building would be just a couple blocks away from the Forum.

This also at least partially explains why the Clippers insist on remaining competitive. Local politicians are less likely to greenlight a new arena for a tanking team.

Juan Carlos Navarro retires

AP Photo/Seth Wenig
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It took Juan Carlos Navarro a long time to try the NBA.

It didn’t take him nearly as long to determine the league wasn’t for him.

The No. 40 pick in the 2002 draft, he finally signed with the Grizzlies in 2007. But after only one season as a backup guard in Memphis, he returned to Europe.

Now, his standout career in Spain is ending.

Barcelona release:

The club hereby announces that Juan Carlos Navarro shall be forming part of its basketball structure from the 2018/19 season, as established in the contract signed in September 2017, now that he has retired from active sporting duty.

Most NBA fans will never realize how talented Navarro was. He was a good score-first point guard at a time many teams still wanted a more-traditional point guard. Unhappy on a losing team in a foreign country, he didn’t try to find a workable solution.

Instead, he starred in Spain, out of sight of American fans – except international competitions, where he reminded everyone how good he was.

We should appreciate Navarro’s impressive career. We can also wonder about the “what if?” surrounding him and the NBA.