Few people can represent both the diversity and opportunity in the United States like Kareem Abdul-Jabbar.
So he makes an interesting and smart choice as a United States Global Cultural Ambassador, something Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton named him on Wednesday, the White House announced.
He will soon be going to Brazil in his new role, trying to strengthen already strong cultural bonds with the land of Renaldo and Nene. Next week he will be there meeting with some of the less well off youth of that nation and discuss the importance of education, social and racial tolerance, cultural understanding, and using sports as a means of empowerment. Of course, there will also be basketball clinics, Kareem is the NBA’s all-time leading scorer, six-time NBA champion, six-time MVP, 19-time All-Star, owner of the most devastating shot in the history of the game, and the man behind a legendary movie role as co-pilot Rodger Murdoch.
“I am excited and honored to serve my country as a Cultural Ambassador for the U.S. Department of State,” said Abdul-Jabbar in a released statement. “I look forward to meeting with young people all over the world and discussing ways in which we can strengthen our understanding of one another through education, through sports, and through greater cultural tolerance.”
Kareem is a complex person, not one that fits neatly into our predefined boxes of what a sports star should be. That rubs some people the wrong way, and he is not by his nature a person who loves the public spotlight on his private life. But he is a person committed to the promotion of education. He’s an author, helped make a documentary about the Harlem Rens — combining his love of African-American history and hoops — and is a man who has taken advantages of the opportunities granted him to live a full and interesting life. To me, that makes him a great ambassador of our American culture.
Ray Allen left the Celtics on bad terms in 2012. He finished his career with the Heat in 2014.
But Allen apparently could have come back with Boston in 2016… if Kevin Durant signed there first.
Allen, via Darren Hartwell of NBC Sports Boston:
“I had a conversation with (Ainge) and I told him this was my last-ditch effort. I would’ve went back,” Allen said on WEEI’s “Ordway, Merloni & Fauria” radio show.
“This was when Kevin Durant was a free agent. He was thinking about going to Boston. And I said, ‘Hey, if you guys land Kevin, I would certainly look at lacing them back up one more time and try to make something good happen here in Boston.’ “
This is a fascinating “what if?” – for the Celtics on the court and for Allen’s legacy in Boston.
But it also probably didn’t come close to happening. Durant said his top two choices in 2016 free agency were the Warriors and Thunder. Even Allen himself said he never neared a comeback.
Still, it’s interesting – after all the animosity – Allen even spoke to Celtics president Danny Ainge about returning.
Remember Luigi Datome? He spent a couple seasons with the Pistons and Celtics.
He makes an appearance in this wild video featuring Fenerbahce coach Zeljko Obradovic (warning: profanity):
A partial transcript the best I could muster:
YOU’RE GOOD GUYS. IN YOUR EYES, YOU’RE GOOD GUYS. F— YOU, EVERYBODY! F— YOU, OK!
F— YOU, GIGI DATOME. OK? SHAME ON YOU. AND YOU…
Festivus isn’t for another month, but someone is already ready for the airing of grievances.
To facilitate a trade from the Rockets to the Suns last summer, Ryan Anderson reduced the guarantee of his 2019-20 salary by $5,620,885. Anderson barely played in Phoenix, got traded to the Heat, barely played in Miami and got waived. He again signed with the Rockets this summer.
Now, after barely playing in Houston, Anderson will continue his odyssey elsewhere.
Shams Charania of The Athletic:
Anderson was guaranteed $500,000 on his minimum-salary contract this season. By the time he clears waivers, he will have earned $434,704. So, assuming Anderson goes unclaimed, Houston will be on the hook for the remaining $65,296.
This might end the career of the 31-year-old Anderson. Once a premier stretch four, he no longer stands out in a league where 3-point shooting has become a common skill for power forwards. He’s also a major defensive liability.
Before Rockets general manager Daryl Morey’s tweet sparked an international geopolitical firestorm, it created a fissure in Houston. Rockets owner Tilman Fertitta quickly tweeted that Morey didn’t speak for the organization. It was a harsh public rebuke that led to major questions about Morey’s future in Houston.
Especially because there was already concern about the Fertitta-Morey relationship.
Kevin Arnovitz of ESPN:
Though a couple of NBA executives speculated Morey might have greater difficulty attracting marquee free agents to Houston, few said that his ability to perform his job would be affected beyond having to placate Fertitta, a shotgun marriage that sources close to the Rockets have considered a tenuous fit since Fertitta bought the team in 2017.
Morey has been operating like someone who doesn’t believe he’ll be in Houston long-term. Morey traded the Rockets’ last four first-round picks. He traded multiple distant-future first-round picks and took on significant future salary to upgrade from Chris Paul to Russell Westbrook. Morey also gave a three-year-guaranteed contract extension to a 30-year-old Eric Gordon.
To be fair, Morey has also been operating like someone whose team’s championship window is closing. That could also explain repeatedly mortgaging Houston’s future. It’s difficult to parse the difference.
But the costs incurred to contend now have veered toward paying later than paying now.
Morey has kept the Rockets out of the luxury tax – a detriment to their on-court ability, but a boon to Fertitta’s wallet. There’s no reason for Morey to operate this way if not directed by the owner. Yet, Fertitta has claimed the luxury tax didn’t influence roster decisions. That’s totally unbelieve, but if taken at face value, Fertitta was throwing Morey under the bus for downgrading Houston’s roster.
It’s easy to read between the lines and see a disconnect between Fertitta and Morey. This is only corroboration, and considering Arnovitz describes his sources as “close to the Rockets,” it’s particularly persuasive.
But Fertitta signed Morey to a five-year extension earlier this year. Fertitta also stood by Morey during the China-Hong Kong controversy, calling Morey the NBA’s best general manager. Whatever problems between the two, Fertitta continues empower Morey in significant ways.