The executives who orchestrated the two biggest turnarounds in the NBA this season — Pat Riley of the Miami Heat and Gar Forman of the Chicago Bulls — will share the NBA’s Executive of the Year award.
Well, privately they probably share this about as well as two 3-year-old girls in a room with one Princess Ariel doll. But publically they will say nice things. And Riley got screwed in this vote, but we’ll get to that in a bit.
There were 30 votes from team executives (you can’t vote for yourself, insert your own Riley joke here) and both Forman and Riley got 11 votes. John Paxson of the Bulls finished third (we assume one of his votes was from the Clippers, who would like to choke Vinny Del Negro themselves).
Riley got robbed here.
Make no mistake, Forman did a fine job, he brought in coach Tom Thibodeau, which was the biggest step in the turnaround of the team. Well, that and drafting Derrick Rose, which was lottery luck. Forman also brought in Carlos Boozer and filled out the rest of a good Bulls roster.
But Riley… look, you may love to hate the Big Three, but to pull that off was a brilliant and ballsy move. He had to take huge risks, clear out loads of cap space, convince everyone to go with the plan, get them all to sign for less so that Udonis Haslem and Mike Miller could be brought in. (Okay, so Miller proves he’s not perfect.)
Riley lapped the field as executive of the year. That he didn’t win shows how other executives around the league feel about him more than anything. Watching his team jell the last couple weeks, Riley doesn’t care what they think.
The Lakers initially called LeBron James day-to-day with the groin injury he suffered on Christmas.
He missed more than five weeks.
Maybe he should have sat even longer.
Karen Joubert, via Complex Sports:
Maybe LeBron returned too soon. This injury allowed that, even if it put him at risk of reaggravation if not fully recovered.
Maybe LeBron just healed especially quickly. Even among world-class athletes, he is an elite athlete.
Maybe Joubert is exaggerating. People tend to do that with LeBron’s body.
There’s plenty of room for interpretation, but it sure looked like LeBron was still hobbled.
What does this mean for LeBron and the Lakers going forward?
The pessimistic spin: LeBron did lasting damage to his body by returning so soon. This (failed) attempt to get the Lakers into the playoffs this season will undermine him in the future.
The optimistic spin: LeBron has still been excellent these last few weeks. If he gets fully healthy during his longest offseason in 14 years, he should be even better next season.
Kyrie Irving spent his first six seasons with the Cavaliers. He developed into a star with them. He won a title with them, even hitting the championship-winning shot.
With Irving’s Celtics playing in Cleveland tomorrow, Irving reflected on his time there.
Jared Weiss of The Athletic:
Irving is so clearly over the Cavs.
He was probably over the Cavs even while playing for them.
The Lakers have had a rough season.
Last night went pretty well, though – especially for one fan.
The Lakers beat the Kings, and this fan swished a halfcourt shot to win $45,000.
The Lakers need more outside shooting. Maybe they could turn to some of their fans.
Giannis Antetokounmpo is undeniable.
Watch this video. He’s the only Bucks player in sight on the court. All five Cavaliers appear. Antetokounmpo dunks anyway.
He dribbles past Jordan Clarkson then through David Nwaba and Tristan Thompson. Nik Stauskas and Brandon Knight are shading close enough to narrow his potential path. None of it matters.
Antetokounmpo scores inside unlike anyone anyone we’ve ever seen.