Through three games of the NBA Finals, LeBron James is averaging 16.3 points a game on 38.9 percent shooting — the best player on the planet has looked average (well, for him).
And passive. In Game 3 Tuesday night with the Spurs packing the paint and having defenders playing a step off him in isolation, LeBron settled for the jumpshots the Spurs wanted him to take. Credit Kawhi Leonard and Danny Green for being at the point of a good Spurs defense, but LeBron didn’t challenge that defense. The result was an ugly 7-of-21 shooting night with zero free throw attempts. And an embarrassing Heat loss that in part flowed out of that.
“Well, honestly I just have to play better,” an up front James said after the game. “I can’t have a performance like tonight and expect to win. I’ve got to shoot the ball better, make better decisions and I will get into the film and see ways that I can do that. I’m not putting blame on anybody, I’m owning everything that I did tonight.”
With Chris Bosh unable to hit midrange jumpers he nailed all season, and with Dwyane Wade slowed and the Heat playing off him (they are almost ignoring him on the perimeter to pack the paint), the Heat need LeBron to be the best player in the game today. They can’t win otherwise. While his instinct is to pass out of the double and take the open shot when he gets it, now it is time for him to put his head down and get to the rim.
When LeBron attacked Tuesday night he was fine — he hit 5-of-7 shots within 5 feet of the rim. But the Spurs made it hard to get those shots while daring him to shoot from the midrange and beyond. LeBron took the bait and hit 1-of-9 from the midrange and 1-of-5 from three. During the season he was a solid outside shooter (43 percent from the midrange and 40.6 percent from three) but that shot has deserted him in the finals. He’s not making up for that by attacking the rim.
“I have to do better,” LeBron reiterated. “If I’m better we’re better and I have to be better. I’m putting everything on my chest and on my shoulders and I have to be better. My teammates are doing a great job and I’m not doing my part.”
The Spurs are not going to change what they are doing or who they are doing it with. It’s up to LeBron to solve this himself. Do that and the Heat can even this series Thursday night, but one more game like this and Miami is going to be in a hole it will not be able to dig out of.
Kevin Hart and Dwyane Wade are friends, although the two have hammed it up for cameras over the years as purported enemies from time-to-time. The relationship between the two has always been jocular, and the recent joke Wade played on Hart was no different.
As Hart saw his way to Miami this past week to play a show in American Airlines Arena, Wade showed up to his team’s home building to give Hart a special gift.
Hart tried to play it off like the jersey was a gift for his son, Kenzo, who will turn 1 in November.
Looks like Kevin is the comedian but Dwyane’s the one who got jokes.
Ben Wallace was a four-time All-Star, four-time Defensive Player of the Year, and NBA champion with the 2003-04 Detroit Pistons. Wallace’s final season in the NBA was in 2011-12 during his second stint with Detroit, and since then he’s not been in the eye of the general public.
Wallace made nearly $90 million during his time in the NBA, and his retirement at age 37 should have set him up to find new challenges and enjoy the rest of his life. But according to Wallace, life without basketball was extremely difficult in the two years following his final NBA game.
In a recent article in The Undefeated, Wallace detailed his trip into depression in the years following his retirement. Wallace said that he lost weight, and felt as though he had no purpose.
Via The Undefeated:
“Basketball is sort of mind-controlling,” said Wallace. “It takes you on a journey of extreme highs and extreme lows. It almost makes you need it. One day I can go out and get 20 rebounds and tomorrow I can come out and get seven or eight. Now, you’re sort of waiting for the next time to prove yourself. When you retire, you start feeling left out, no one’s really checking on you, you ain’t getting no phone calls that you used to get. Then you start to get low, but there’s no game tomorrow to lift you up, so you just keep sinking and sinking.”
Wallace has since rebounded from his darkest days, seeking out help through friends and re-involving himself with basketball. Wallace reached out to the likes of Rick Carlisle, Mike Woodson, and Doc Rivers, all of whom helped him dip his toes back into organized basketball.
Wallace is now part-owner and chairman of a G-League team, the Grand Rapids Drive, and stays busy as the owner of an RC car company.
The stigma around mental health discussions in the NBA has slowly started to fade with the help of several current stars. It’s great to see Wallace speak about his problems openly, and that he’s been able to find new purpose in his life.
Lance Stephenson is already mixing things up in Los Angeles. The Lakers wing got into an altercation with Golden State Warriors backup Quinn Cook during a preseason game this week, and was ejected after throwing a punch at Cook’s head.
Meanwhile, the NBA reviewed the tape and determined that no other discipline would be necessary, including any toward Stephen Curry or DeMarcus Cousins.
Ever vigilant, a league is particularly sensitive to players leaving the bench area during an altercation ever since Game 4 of the 2007 playoff series between the Phoenix Suns and San Antonio Spurs in which Robert Horry hip check Steve Nash into the scores table.
The league review the tape and found that both Curry and Cousins took steps off their bench. However, neither will be suspended thanks to how the league views the actual dust-up between Stephenson and Cook.
The two stars will not be reprimanded because the league did not deem the activity of Lakers guard Lance Stephenson and Warriors guard Quinn Cook as being an “altercation,” sources said.
Had Curry been disciplined, he would have been forced to sit out Tuesday’s anticipated season-opener at home against the Oklahoma City Thunder, and Cousins would have served his suspension once he returned from an Achilles injury.
What this appears to mean is that the league saw the ejection as a one-sided swing from Stephenson and nothing more.
Plus, it would be hard to imagine the season starting without Curry on the floor for the Warriors.
There’s no doubt that you have watched countless hours of former NBA player Charles Barkley on “Inside the NBA”. Often bombastic and always opinionated, Barkley stands as one of the more controversial talking heads on that show.
There’s no doubt that Barkley is very good at his job and the role that he plays. But would he make a competent NBA general manager?
That’s the question many have after Barkley revealed that he thought he was going to take over the top management spot for the Orlando Magic in 2017.
Speaking on the radio in Chicago this week, Barkley said that he interviewed for the position and was sure he was going to be the man for the job.
Barkley would have certainly been an interesting choice. One can only imagine the roster construction and theory behind any squad he would cook up.
Meanwhile, that teams get close to hiring former players to do anything at a top level — coach or GM — remains incredible. His co-host Kenny Smith had interviewed for the Detroit Pistons job this summer, but didn’t get plucked. These are all corporations valued at more than a billion dollars, and yet they give more weight that’s due to guys who have played in the league.
Elton Brand for the Philadelphia 76ers makes sense, having worked in player development and been the GM of a G-League team before his hiring. Hell, Vlade Divac worked in basketball administration for a full decade before becoming the Sacramento Kings GM, and that’s not working out so hot.
But Chuck and Kenny? Entertaining as all get out on TV, but shaky choices for top GM spots.
NBA teams stay doing NBA team stuff.