Every time he steps on the court in a road arena, LeBron James hears boos. That was to be expected in Cleveland. Everyone knew it was coming in cities such as New York where the fans wanted him and he chose to take his talents elsewhere.
But it has become more than that — James is hearing boos in every stop. He’s hearing them in restaurants. He’s hearing it from fans of teams that had no shot and didn’t even go after him. He has become a villain to many.
NBA Commissioner David Stern told Jason Whitlock of Fox Sports he’s no fan of those boos.
I don’t like it. I think that it’s theater. I don’t think he’s really viewed as a villain. I think people love to either love or boo the Yankees. You either loved or booed Kobe and the Lakers. People used to love or hate the old Celtics. I think it will morph into the Heat being one of our really elite teams. And people boo the elite teams when they come into town to beat up on the hometown team….
I don’t mind it if he’s booed in the context of the dominant team he’s playing for. I think that I’m not sure people know exactly what they’re booing. Are they booing because he left Cleveland? Certainly they’re doing that in Cleveland. Are they booing him because it took 18 minutes for “The Decision” to say where he was going? Yeah, probably. Are they booing him because he’s part of a team that people think is too strong for their home team to compete with? Probably more so. And that will fade, and then they’ll boo him because he’s a member of the high-performing Miami Heat.
In the wide-ranging interview, Stern also talked about LeBron’s comments on contraction, or the retraction of his comments on contraction, or whatever it is he wants us to think he said.
As soon as I saw that commentary, I said, “This young man is going to wish he hadn’t raised the subject,” and I felt badly for him.
Stern goes on to define the talk of contraction not really as an issue of talent — with 85 foreign-born players in the league the depth is there for the current 30 teams — but rather a matter of economics. Can teams survive in some of the league’s smaller markets, and how much money should the larger market teams pay in revenue sharing to keep those teams afloat? That is an issue for the owners to hash out, but it is directly tied to the Collective Bargaining Agreement negotiations as well.
Maybe if we could boo the CBA negotiations, that is something Stern would be okay with.
LONDON (AP) — NBA Commissioner Adam Silver says the safety and security of players will always be paramount for the league after New York Knicks center Enes Kanter did not travel to London for his team’s game against the Washington Wizards.
Kanter said he feared he could be attacked or killed over his opposition to Turkey President Recep Tayyip Erdogan if he were to travel to London. Istanbul-based newspaper Daily Sabah reported that an arrest warrant was issued for Kanter by Turkish prosecutors on Wednesday.
Silver, speaking ahead of Thursday’s game, says “it was never a suggestion from the league that (Kanter) was not welcome on this trip.”
“There are significant issues that he is dealing with, and I recognize that for the NBA, by virtue of the fact that we’re a global business, we have to pay a lot of attention to those issues as well,” Silver says.
Kanter, who has frequently criticized Erdogan, had his Turkish passport revoked in 2017.
The good people of England could use a break from the dumpster fire that is Brexit, so the NBA came to town to entertain with
their very best… their biggest stars… the teams that were willing to go, the Knicks and the Wizards.
But the Londoners got to see one unusual ending.
The Knicks were up 100-99 thanks to a Noah Vonleh hook shot, but the Wizards had three seconds to try to get off a game winner. Scott Brooks designed an interesting play, with Bradley Beal starting in the backcourt and sprinting into the frontcourt, and when the defense moved to him as the likely shooter he passed to Thomas Bryant rolling down the lane, he put up the finger roll and…
That was a goaltend by Allonzo Trier to my eyes — the ball is just starting its downward trajectory, and it may have been over the cylinder (in an NBA arena there would have been an above-basket camera with a better angle on if it was over the rim, but that did not seem to be available in London).
The Wizards — who owner Ted Leonsis said will never tank, so forget about them trading away assets at the deadline — have won 3-of-4 and are 6-4 since John Wall was sidelined with his foot injury, with a +3 net rating in those games. Washington is now just two games out of the playoffs in the East and GM Ernie Grunfeld does not believe in tanking, so expect them to make a push.
Which is why wins like this matter.
The Golden State Warriors — the two-time defending NBA champs, the team on top of the Western Conference with the best offense in the NBA — are about to get a whole lot better.
Nobody really knows.
What we know is DeMarcus Cousins is scheduled to make his return to the court on Friday night against the Clippers in Los Angeles. Cousins missed the end of last season and all of this season recovering from a ruptured Achilles.
I get into all of it in this PBT Extra.
As NBC’s Tom Haberstroh pointed out, the history of big men bouncing back from this injury does not bode well for Cousins. On the other side, Cousins was so skilled, if the Warriors can get 75 percent of the old Cousins it will be an upgrade over Kevon Looney and give Golden State a guy who can exploit mismatches.
On paper, the Warriors should get better with Cousins in the lineup. But nobody really knows.
Spurs president-coach Gregg Popovich said in 2015 he made a commitment to newly signed LaMarcus Aldridge, presumably to coach through the five-year contract he signed in 2014.
That contract will expire after this season.
Popovich, via Marc Stein of The New York Times:
“I don’t know the answer,” Popovich said when asked about his plans for next season in an interview Wednesday
Maybe Popovich is legitimately undecided about his future. Maybe he has a firm plan and was just being dismissive because he didn’t want to discuss it publicly. There’s obviously a massive difference between the two, but it’s difficult to parse from only his quote.
Popovich will coach Team USA in the 2019 FIBA World Cup and 2020 Olympics. That responsibility means a lot to the Air Force veteran. Some have even speculated he’ll retire from the NBA after this season to prepare for his USA Basketball duties.
In the meantime, Popovich remains one of the NBA’s top coaches. He has helped San Antonio turn around its season, building a strong offense around mid-range shooters DeMar DeRozan and Aldridge and getting everyone on enough of the same page defensively to be reasonable on that end. The Spurs aren’t a great team, but they’re good in ways that have Popovich’s fingerprints all over them.
Popovich could continue to succeed in the NBA for the foreseeable future. The question is – with Tim Duncan, Tony Parker and Manu Ginobili gone and Popovich nearing age 70 – how much longer he wants to do it.