LeBron James proposes to longtime girlfriend Savannah, who accepts

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2012 seems awfully different from 2011 for LeBron James. He’s entered this season different in a lot of ways. There’s less arrogance. He and Wade are no longer taking questions at a podium after every regular season game. He’s no longer fixated on the negative forces wishing him ill will for “The Decision,” which he has openly admitted to regretting. He’s working in the post more, he’s working as a distributor more, he’s making smarter plays and playing harder. And on Saturday night, he made some changes to his personal life, too.

Word spread like wildfire Monday morning that James had proposed to his long-time girlfiriend Savannah Brinson Saturday night at a lavish birthday party for James a day after turned 27. Chris Paul and Heat owner Micky Arison both tweeted their congratulations.

 

Happy for my brother @KingJames and sis @SavannahRB on their engagement!!! Extremely happy for them and the good times to come #HappyNewYearSun Jan 01 06:06:50 via UberSocial for BlackBerry

 

 

Congrats to Lebron. @KingJames and Savannah so happy 4 u guys.Sun Jan 01 06:07:30 via UberSocial for BlackBerry

 

So that’s about as official as it gets.

I’m going to pause and let you get all the jokes about how this is the only way LeBron gets a ring, and about how Savannah should be worried he disappears at the altar, and all that out of the way. I know you have a lot of them, just get them out of your system.

There will be a lot of talk about how this coincided with Kobe Bryant getting divorced. But there’s absolutely no reason to compare the two. Outside of the obvious differences (Kobe was much younger when he was married, James deliberately waited a very long time even after having two sons — who his very much involved with as a father — with Brinson), there’s this. Every relationship is different, every relationship is complicated, and every relationship is none of our damn business. These things are news, now, and that’s fine, here’s your post on it, we hope the couple has a long and happy life together. But beyond everyone’s favorite pastime of sniping at James, he’s an actual human being, and no matter how arrogant he may come across as, no one deserves to have as happy moment as the day you propose to someone you love be sullied by jokes and mean-spirited garbage. These things matter, yes, even more so than a ring for Cleveland or Miami or anyone else.

It’s a sign that James may be maturing, along with other telltale signs, but the truth is we don’t know. We’ve never known LeBron James and we probably never will.

But seriously, how big do you think the rock is?

Damian Lillard on leaving Trail Blazers for super team: ‘We would win it, but what is the challenge or the fun in that?’

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Kevin Durant left for the Warriors for many reasons. LeBron James left for the Heat for many reasons. Anthony Davis and Paul George forced their way to Los Angeles for many reasons.

Those are life-altering moves. Nobody does something so consequential for a single purpose.

But whether or not it intended, each of those stars took an easier route to a championship. That’s just the reality.

Damian Lillard, on the other hand, has done so much to elevate himself then pull up the Trail Blazers with him. Lillard has often touted his loyalty to Portland. He showed it by signing a super-max extension that locks him in through 2025.

Lillard, via Adam Caparell of Complex:

“To leave, what did I invest all this time for just to leave, you know?” he says. “If I go play with three other stars, I don’t think that many people would doubt that I could win it. We would win it, but what is the challenge or the fun in that?”

I disagree with Lillard’s certainty about winning a title if he teamed with other stars. Not every perceived super team has won. A championship still must be earned. It’s not easy.

But it would be easier.

It also probably wouldn’t be as rewarding.

Durant has admitted winning a championship with Golden State didn’t fill the void he thought it would. Maybe for other reasons, but it’s easy to see the Warriors’ talent advantage as a reason. He joined a title contender and made it even better. He didn’t build that team. Perhaps, a championship with the Nets would mean more to him.

Lillard is less likely to win a title by staying Portland. I think he knows that. He enjoys the city, and the $196 million he projects to earn on his four-year extension doesn’t hurt, either.

But if Lillard ever wins a championship with the Trail Blazers, it would be so gratifying. That’s what he’s chasing.

Lillard made clear he’s not criticizing stars who chose an alternate path. He’s doing what’s right for him, just as they did what was right for them.

His quest should earn him plenty of fans. For everyone who disliked Durant joining Golden State because it offended their sensibilities of how a title pursuit should work, Lillard is a great foil.

Andre Iguodala recalls Draymond Green doubling Kevin Durant in practice: ‘he was mad … We was tryna win’

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Devin Booker complained to his opponents for double-teaming him during a pick-up game.

That has sparked a Great National Debate: Is it right or wrong to double-team during pick-up games?

Kevin Durant:

That’s a reasonable conclusion. The primary defender is missing an opportunity to work on his defense by getting help. But I also think it fails to address the main point. Booker wasn’t complaining to help the defender. Booker wanted the ideal training environment for himself, the offensive player.

How should the offensive player feel about it?

It’s a reasonably interesting question that’s getting taken far too seriously because the NBA is in a dead period. But to give it more juice, let’s add the Kevin Durant-Draymond Green relationship to the equation.

Andre Iguodala:

Durant:

It seems Durant can laugh it off now, but this story feeds into what so many people think they know about these players – that Green is a relentless competitor (accurate) and that Durant is soft (inaccurate).

NBA players spend so much time playing basketball. Sometimes, it’s helpful to face game-like conditions, where double-teams can happen at any point. Other times, it’s helpful to have more-relaxed conditions.

I don’t know enough about Booker’s pick-up game or the Warriors’ practice to say what was appropriate in each.

Report: Executives expect Thunder to say they are not trading Chris Paul (but they are)

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It’s all about leverage.

Right now the vultures are circling the Oklahoma City Thunder, hoping to get a free meal. Everyone knows the Thunder are moving into a rebuilding mode and want to trade Chris Paul for picks/young players, so other general managers — the vultures — are throwing out lowball offers hoping to get a steal of a trade. And by steal we mean making the Thunder throw in a first-round pick as a sweetener to get CP3 and the three-years, $124 million left on his contract off their books.

Oklahoma City’s response? Say “we’re not trying to trade him” and be patient. Here is how Brian Windhorst phrased it on ESPN’s The Jump (hat tip Real GM):

“Here’s what executives expect to happen: they expect the Thunder to put out a message that we’re not looking to trade Chris Paul…We want him to work with our young guys. Because they don’t want anybody to think they’re panic-trying to trade him, and they want to hope that somebody has something happen where they need Chris Paul,” said Windhorst.

Royce Young, who covers the Thunder for ESPN, added that he believed the Thunder would hold on to Chris Paul rather than surrender a draft pick.

This is the smart play. CP3 is still a top-flight point guard in the NBA, even if he has taken half a step back, and there are at least eight NBA teams going into this season thinking they have a shot at a title, and a few more looking at deep playoff runs. Some team is either going to realize they are not as good as they thought they were, or are going to suffer an injury, and be looking for an All-Star level player and replacement. Enter the Thunder and Chris Paul.

What this ultimately means is expect this to drag out. Not just through the summer and through training camp, but maybe all the way to the trade deadline.

Not a ‘tattooed guy’: Larry Bird wants mural changed

Associated Press
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INDIANAPOLIS (AP) — Larry Bird likes the mural but not the tatts.

A lawyer for the former NBA star has asked an artist to remove certain tattoos from a large painting of Bird on an Indianapolis multi-family residence. The tattoos include two rabbits mating on his right arm and a spider web on a shoulder.

Artist Jules Muck painted Bird in a blue basketball uniform. It’s a replica of a 1977 Sports Illustrated cover when he played for Indiana State.

Attorney Gary Sallee says Bird “needs to protect” his brand and “doesn’t want to be seen as a tattooed guy.” Muck says she adds things like tattoos to her art to avoid creating a complete copy of a photo.

She says she’s trying to reach an agreement with Bird’s representatives.