Creators of “The Decision” stunned by backlash (and other details of event)

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On the eve of a lockout that — if it does end up costing games — will kill the momentum around the league, let’s look back at the thing that helped create all that momentum and the increased ratings: LeBron James’ Decision.

The television show sparked interest from casual fans that carried over to increased television ratings this season, increased attendance and a real uptick in popularity of the NBA. Sure, much of it may have been people tuning in to root against the Heat (and thereby adopting Dirk Nowitzki as their own), but there is no doubt that is part of what fueled the increased interest in the league.

The backlash of The Decision caught the creators of the show by surprise, they told Zach Lowe of Sports Illustrated in a fascinating look at how the production of the show came together.

(Mark Dowley, former partner at the William Morris Endeavor agency who helped set up the show in Greenwich): We got a lot of grief for it. A good deed never goes unpunished, you know? LeBron is an exceptionally bright young man. No one is taking advantage of LeBron James. And Maverick Carter is a very bright guy. I’ve done deals with them since and we’ll do deals with them in the future. Everybody can hold their heads up high. The only people who know best about how they felt [about the criticism] are Maverick and LeBron. There is no way they enjoyed a lot of the aftermath. I do know morally and from a socially conscience standpoint, they know they did something good (for the Boys & Girls Club).

The guy who really got wronged was Jim Gray. The whole original idea was Jim’s and Ari’s and Maverick’s. I thought Jim did a hell of a job. He’s quite a gentleman. This was sports, after all, not U.N. wartime reporting. People just got a little nuts over it.

Gray only got wronged if you thought the idea of announcing where a basketball player would play next season in an hour television broadcast was a good idea in the first place. It wasn’t. Instant reaction in the public at the time — before anyone knew where LeBron was going to play, just the reaction to idea of a special to make the announcement — was an obvious precursor to the backlash that followed. The fact nobody else helping put this together anticipated this kind of reaction speaks to how in touch they really are with the feelings of fans.

Go read the entire SI report, there are fascinating details on the event itself. How LeBron did not sign autographs for the kids at the club (he was on too tight a schedule, people say) and how the kids really flocked more to Kanye West anyway. How Greenwich was chosen because it was seen as neutral ground. How it was apparently the Greenwich police that leaked the location that those involved had tried to keep secret.

In the end, those involved are proud of the money raised for the Boys & Girls club. And that is no doubt a noble cause and the money has and will be put to good use.

And the NBA has seen a bump in business in part because of it. Does all of that end up making it a good idea to do The Decision? I personally still can’t convince myself it was.

Watch NBA draftees try to identify pop culture from the ’90s (VIDEO)

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Millennials are the last kids to have grown up without constantly having a phone in their hands. The internet was not always available much of that generation, and that’s shifted largely for Gen Z. It’s a curiosity not just to consider the real social skill impact of mobile communication being a constant for kids born after 1996, but for how they intake media and pop culture as well.

Enter the 2019 NBA draft class.

In recent video posted by ESPN, 2019 draftees had to name pop culture items from the 1990s. Present were things like the Easy-Bake Oven, Super Nintendo, music group Destiny’s Child, and movies like “Boyz n the Hood”.

This is where my understanding of how folks intake pop culture really falls apart. Particularly because what I assumed was widespread knowledge was apparently… not.

Many of the draftees couldn’t identify the Super Nintendo system, one of the most popular video game systems of all-time and one that was re-released in miniature “classic” form in 2017. Even further, several couldn’t identify Destiny’s Child, with Beyonce standing front and center. Beyonce!

Most surprising? Nearly all shown in the video could identify “Good Burger” a Nickelodeon skit from “All That” that was turned into a movie in 1997.

For reference, just four of the first 30 players selected in the 2019 draft were older than 22. That means none of them were really old enough to have lived through the skit-into-movie phase of the Keenan Thompson-Kel Mitchell vehicle (as yours truly did).

It stands to reason — for the uninformed — that if you could identify a Nickelodeon movie from 1997 you could identify Beyonce (who headlined Coachella just last year) or a fanny pack (a very “in” fashion accessory in 2019 as a cross-body bag for men).

Via Twitter:

People on Twitter were noticeably upset, particularly with the draftees’ inability to identify Outkast. That doesn’t really surprise me, as I’m not sure Outkast is as timeless as people from my generation think it is. But how can you not identify a Super Nintendo? Andre 3000 and Big Boi sold 25 million records together. They’ve sold 49 million Super Nintendos worldwide. Haven’t these dudes been clicking around on the internet since they were six years old? It feels like a Super Nintendo should have crossed their timelines at some point.

I’m not from the ‘60s or ‘70s but that doesn’t mean I couldn’t identify a Lite Brite or a Rock ‘em Sock ‘em Robots if need be.

Pop culture and how people intake them is so interesting. This video baffles me.

Report: Kawhi Leonard ‘seriously considering’ re-signing with the Raptors

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Kawhi Leonard won another NBA championship with the Toronto Raptors this season. We are now in the thick of the offseason, with free agency fast approaching. That means we are waiting to see what Leonard will do from here on out. Will he return to the Raptors? Or will he take another suitor—potentially the Los Angeles Clippers?

As expected, Leonard has reportedly opted out of the final year of his deal and become an unrestricted free agent.

The good news for Raptors fans is that Leonard is reportedly interested in staying in Canada long-term. Toronto can offer him a 5-year, $190 million contract.

Via Chris Haynes of Yahoo:

The appeal of returning home to Southern California is enticing to the two-time NBA Defensive Player of the Year, but with the trust the Raptors built while Leonard led the franchise to its first NBA title by upsetting the Golden State Warriors, rival executives view his current team as the favorite to land him when the free-agent negotiating period begins June 30, sources said.

What NBA stars want and do is anyone’s guess in 2019. It’s hard to predict where these players will end up signing until the moment the ink has dried on the paper.

Many felt as though it would take a championship for Leonard to remain with Toronto past the season. That’s exactly what he delivered, and the team around him appears to be poised to dominate the Eastern Conference should he stay past this year.

Chaos in the NBA is always fun, but Raptors fans have stuck in with this team for a long time and it would be nice to see the “little” guys win one for once. We have already seen Anthony Davis force his way to Los Angeles, and not every major star needs to be centered in New York or L.A.

Kawhi should stay, and I hope he does.

Stephen Curry regrets behind-the-back pass to Klay Thompson in Game 7 of 2016 Finals

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Golden State Warriors star Stephen Curry is a 3-time NBA champion, and headed to the Hall of Fame. He’s also a 2-time MVP. With that kind of pedigree, he doesn’t have much to regret in terms of his NBA career.

But there is at least one moment he wishes he could get back. Most would assume that it would be the failed breakdown against Kevin Love in the 2016 NBA Finals, when Curry was unable to get around the Cleveland Cavaliers power forward in the final minute of Game 7.

But apparently the one regret from Curry’s career was another crucial moment from that Game 7.

Speaking to the New York Times, Curry said that he wished he had been more careful with the behind-the-back pass he sent to Klay Thompson with around five minutes left in the fourth quarter. It was a turnover out of bounds, and a crucial one at that.

Via NY Times:

“The only regret I do have is the behind-the-back pass I threw in 2016 in Game 7,” he said, referring to a crucial turnover with just about five minutes left in the game, which the Warriors lost. “That’s literally the only regret I have in terms of how I’ve played, and that comes with wins and losses, right? I’m cool.”

Curry and the Warriors have been careless with the ball at times, and are usually one of the highest turnover teams in the NBA. But it’s also that kind of passing that allows the Warriors to move the ball around the arc, and there’s been some discussion about whether those things are mutually exclusive.

In any case, Curry said that he could have easily gone around Love if he wanted to. Love didn’t necessarily agree with that, but no doubt Curry doesn’t regret his decision to shoot a three — he still got a clean shot off that nearly went in. Sloppy turnovers in the final five minutes of a closeout Finals game? That’s another thing altogether.

Rumor: D’Angelo Russell may be open to signing with the Lakers

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D'Angelo Russell didn’t leave the Los Angeles Lakers under good terms. Things went sour between the team and the former No. 2 overall pick, and he was promptly shipped off to the Brooklyn Nets in 2017.

Russell is about to enter free agency, and rumor has it if the Nets decide to sign Kyrie Irving, he will not return to Brooklyn. The high-scoring combo guard will have plenty of suitors, but the Lakers were not expected to be on Russell’s list.

However, according to a story by Bleacher Reports Eric Pincus, there could be some discussion between Russell and L.A. with Magic Johnson now out of the picture.

Via B/R:

Russell’s breakup with the Lakers wasn’t pretty, but it’s difficult to hold grudges in this league. With Johnson gone, some close to Russell have indicated he may be open to the idea if Brooklyn isn’t in the picture.

That’s certainly an interesting idea from a social perspective. But Russell is going to be spendy, and the Lakers won’t have as much money to spend as they previously thought thanks to Rob Pelinka failing to put stipulations about proper timing into the Anthony Davis trade.

Whomever the Lakers decide to add next to LeBron James and Davis, he will need to be a shooter. Russell had a better season from beyond the 3-point line last year, but he has shot better than 35 percent from the arc just once.

I’m not sure that’s a good enough indicator of future performance for a team like the Lakers. The next two seasons will be the most reasonable window for the James-Davis tandem to grab an NBA championship. If Russell can’t be relied upon, it could throw the whole thing out of whack.

Really, the rumor of Russell being open to heading back to Los Angeles is just another story to file under the “the NBA is wild” column.