If the players are just posturing about this overseas thing, they’re putting their all into it

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If you’re not really going to Europe but you want it to seem like you are, this is the playbook. Release lots of media info, get one big guy to go, tell every reporter who asks that every member of your side is “considering it” and do as many exhibitions in other countries to generate revenue as you can. This is the perfect play to con people into thinking you’re serious about doing it.

It’s also the exact same playbook if you’re actually, you know, going to Europe. Or China. Or the Philippines, since apparently you’re a god there.

There will be no telling until players actually sign elsewhere, or don’t. But reports are coming out, like the latest from Sports Illustrated, that the players are serious about these offers, that there’s more to it than just individual players chasing salary money. It’s about hitting the owners where it hurts to move them off the hard line, it’s about leveraging the endorsement money, capitalizing on the tax-free status, and taking a cohesive approach. From SI: 

It’s the unofficial kind, of course, but sources on the players’ side confirmed the obvious in recent discussions: This isn’t merely about making money, but enjoying a slice of autonomy and sending a message to the owners that their league could be forever changed if they don’t start moving off their draconian collective bargaining mark.

According to one agent of a bona fide NBA star who said he is learning more about this new landscape every day, this is just the beginning. While so much of the public focus is on the individual players and where they might sign, there are private discussions about adding components that could make it even more appealing for the game’s stars to follow in Deron Williams’ path.

via NBA stars looking abroad in earnest – Sam Amick – SI.com.

We’re left to decipher whether this is rhetoric or actual movement, if we care. The reason we should care is that if this is rhetoric, and it is revealed as such, it’s yet another nail the owners will put in the players’ coffin. If it’s real movement, if it’s legitimate, it’s an actual strategy that might work. If it works, the owners might feel a shiver up their spines in those comfy, seat-warmed recliners of theirs. That can move the league off the front line and into the negotiations tent, which is where this thing should be kept anyway.

The big issues revolve around whether this is feasible. Most believe it’s not. It’s incomprehensible. How can a player risk his career like this? Well, considering they don’t have a career if the owners don’t get off the line, that’s not so much of a risk. The teams won’t actually pay the players, right? So they’re all going to fail to pay, all of them, all at once. Thats’ the idea?

This is becoming more possible every day, in theoretical terms. But skeptics won’t start to believe it until they see backs in jerseys in foreign languages. Only they’re not foreign there. Okay, you get what I mean.

WNBA team rehearses ring ceremony at practice of team it beat in Finals

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The NBA does petty very, very, very, very, very, very, very well.

The WNBA is trying to give the NBA a run for its money.

The Minnesota Lynx and Los Angeles Sparks have met in the last two WNBA Finals, the Lynx winning last year and the Sparks winning the year before. Minnesota hosted Los Angeles in the season opener Sunday, and the Lynx unveiled their banner and presented players with rings.

Before that, while the Sparks were practicing in Minnesota, the Lynx played their video for the event.

Holly Rowe of ESPN:

The Sparks beat the Lynx on Sunday, but I don’t think that’s enough to override Minnesota’s power move.

Kobe Bryant on Kanye West’s comments: “What the hell are you talking about?”

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Kanye West, the President Trump backing hip-hop star, drew a lot of backlash for his comments on TMZ:

“When you hear about slavery for 400 years — for 400 years? That sounds like a choice. You were there for 400 years and it’s all of y’all. It’s like we’re mentally imprisoned.” 

Mentally, maybe in some cases. But more so physically, with guns and whips and attack dogs and a whole lot more weapons that were all on one side. Nobody chooses slavery.

Tuesday, Kobe Bryant surprised a group of about 300 high school students at WE RISE — a 10-day pop-up festival dedicated to sparking a movement for change in the mental health system — in Downtown Los Angeles. One of the students asked him about Kanye’s comments. Kobe is not down.

“I’m sure (I feel) the same way everybody else here in this room feels. What the hell are you talking about? I think that was my reaction as is everybody else’s reaction….

“The thing about our country is that you have the right to say whatever it is that you want to say…that’s the beautiful thing about living in a democracy. I think, for him, he’s one of these entertainers that’s always in a constant state of growth, he’s always challenging … himself, doing a lot of questioning internally himself…so I just take it for what it is and completely disagree.”

If I need to explain to you why Kobe is in the right here, you need to take a basic American history course again.

Good on Kobe for his comments. More importantly, good on Kobe for taking the time to promote mental health awareness.

“It’s easy for us as people to kind of ignore the emotional side of it,  especially when it comes to things that deal with negativity, things that deal with insecurity, things that deal with fear,” Kobe said. “It’s very easy to take the fear and just push it down, try to act like it doesn’t exist. The reason why it starts with imagination is because you first must imagine the life that you want to have. You must first imagine what it is you dream of becoming.”

Kobe did that, and now he’s got an Oscar. Oh, and a few basketball awards, too.

PBT Extra: LeBron, Cavaliers even series but Celtics far from dead

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If you want to make the case that the Cleveland Cavaliers are in the driver’s seat of the Eastern Conference Finals after sweeping two games at home, you’re in a good space. It’s a best-of-three and Cleveland has the best player on the planet on their side.

However, I still like the Celtics to hold on and win in seven.

I get into it in this PBT Extra, but the Celtics looked like a team that figured things out in the final three quarters of Game 4 (they just couldn’t make up for a disastrous first quarter), and they still have two games at home.

Either way, this feels like a series going the distance.

Did the Warriors deal Rockets a knockout blow in Western Conference finals?

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The Warriors beat the Rockets by 41 (!) in Game 3 of the Western Conference finals Sunday.

Biggest playoff win in Golden State franchise history.

Biggest playoff loss in Houston franchise history.

Biggest playoff loss ever handed to any team as good as the 65-17 Rockets.

“At the end of the day, it’s one win,” Warriors forward Draymond Green said. “It doesn’t matter if you win by 40 or if you win by one.”

Maybe it matters more than Green is letting on.

Golden State was the 17th team to -win a playoff game by more than 40 points. Of the previous 16, 15 – including the last 14 – won the series:

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The only exception came in my favorite playoff series of all-time, the best-of-three 1956 Western Division semifinals:

  • Game 1: St. Louis Hawks 116, Minneapolis Lakers 115
  • Game 2: Minneapolis Lakers 133, St. Louis Hawks 75
  • Game 3: St. Louis Hawks 116, Minneapolis Lakers 115

So, teams to win a playoff game by more than 40 are 15-0 in best-of-seven or best-of-five series. Will the Rockets buck the trend?

They can make adjustments. Maybe Houston’s strong regular season – better than any above blown-out team’s – indicates a rare capability to recover from this. Andre Iguodala‘s injury hurts Golden State. Teams sometimes make historic comebacks from blowouts, including against the Warriors.

But that Golden State ran toppled the Rockets so decisively in Game 3 suggests the Warriors are hitting a gear Houston won’t keep up with.