Alonzo Mourning’s career retrospective and Hall of Fame speech (VIDEO)

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Alonzo Mourning was part of the 2014 class inducted into the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame on Friday, and there was never any doubt that he would be deserving of the honor.

Mourning played 15 seasons, the last five of which came after taking a year off to battle a life-threatening kidney disease. He came into the league with the Charlotte Hornets, but will be remembered by most for the 10-plus seasons he spent with the Heat, and winning a title in Miami in 2006.

More than just contributing statistically, Mourning embodied all of the qualities that Pat Riley valued most, and was the locker room leader from a team culture standpoint.

Here’s Mourning’s Hall of Fame career retrospective video:

And highlights from his speech can be viewed in the clip below.

 

Stephen Curry: I wanted Knicks, not Warriors, to draft me

Stephen Curry
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Stephen Curry‘s agent and father tried to steer him to the Knicks during the 2009 NBA draft.

They weren’t acting autonomously.

Curry on “All The Smoke” podcast:

I wanted to go to New York and thought I was going to New York. I was in the draft in the green room like, oh, get to the eight spot, and New York can get me.

Instead, the Warriors picked Curry No. 7. The Knicks took Jordan Hill at No. 8.

Curry’s sentiment was understandable. Golden State had made the playoffs only once in the previous 15 years. The Knicks hadn’t been much better lately, but at least they offered the glamorous New York market.

It worked out well for Curry, whose agency even made last-ditch efforts to convince the Warriors to pass on him. He blossomed into an all-time great player on a team that gave him an incredible supporting cast. Curry has won three championships in Golden State and says he wants to retire there.

The Knicks, on the other hand, have largely struggled since. They were above average for a few years, but that’s it. Hill washed out after eight unremarkable NBA seasons.

Curry in New York is an interesting “what if?” Would he have overcome that franchise’s deep-seated problems?

Fortunately for him – and contrary to his initial hopes – he never had to find out.

Once again fans pick LeBron James, Giannis Antetokounmpo to be All-Star captains as starters announced

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LeBron James and Giannis Antetokounmpo remain the kings of the mountain — on top of the standings and on top of the popularity contest that is NBA All-Star voting.

But the game’s young stars — Luka Doncic and Trae Young, in particular — are climbing fast. Both of them came in second in the fan vote.

The NBA has announced the starters for the 2020 All-Star Game and it features a mixture of the expected veterans and some new faces.

The captains are LeBron and Antetokounmpo for the second consecutive year. Next week the All-Star Game reserves will be chosen, then in two weeks the captains will pick their teams. (If you want to know who myself and Dan Feldman of NBC Sports think should be the reserves — and the starters, because we had different choices for the East — check out the latest PBT Podcast where we get into the ASG rosters, as well as Zion Williamson‘s debut.)

The All-Star Game format remains the same as it was the last couple of seasons: The two captains — LeBron and Antetokounmpo — will select their teams playground-style live on a TNT special NBA All-Star Draft Show Feb. 6 (a week before the game). First, they will choose from the pool of starters (listed below) then from the pool of 14 reserves (seven reserves from each conference, selected by the coaches and announced next week).

Here are your All-Star starters, chosen by a combination of fan votes (50 percent of the total), media votes (25 percent) and player votes (25 percent).

WEST
Guard: Luka Doncic (Dallas)
Guard: James Harden (Houston)
Frontcourt: LeBron James (L.A. Lakers)
Frontcourt: Anthony Davis (L.A. Lakers)
Frontcourt: Kawhi Leonard (L.A. Clippers)

EAST
Guard: Trae Young (Atlanta)
Guard: Kemba Walker (Boston)
Frontcourt: Giannis Antetokounmpo (Milwaukee)
Frontcourt: Pascal Siakam (Toronto)
Frontcourt: Joel Embiid (Philadelphia)

A few notes on these selections:

• The fans voted Brooklyn’s Kyrie Irving second among East guards, but he finished sixth in both the media and player ballots, and that dropped him out of a starting spot.

Jimmy Butler was fourth in the fan vote for the frontcourt and third in the media vote, but was not in the top five of the player vote and so he fell behind Siakam for the chance to start.

• LeBron got the most votes of any player, the seventh time he has had that happened.

• When LeBron steps on the court in Chicago it will be his 16th time as an All-Star starter, passing Kobe Bryant for the most in league history.

• Team LeBron is 2-0 in this pick-your-team format and he will be looking to keep a perfect record.

• Doncic and Young give the game two 21-and-under starters. The last time that happened? Back in 1998 with  Kobe Bryant and Kevin Garnett.

Damian Lillard was third in guard voting among the fans, players, and media.

Paul George and Nikola Jokic were fourth and fifth among fan and player votes (they flip-flopped positions), but the media had Jokic fourth and Rudy Gobert fifth.

• Here are the voting results in more detail.

Report: Knicks front office gave team playoff mandate this season

Knicks owner James Dolan, president Steve Mills and general manager Scott Perry
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Phil Jackson embarrassed the Knicks by stating they’d make the playoffs then falling just 21 games short in 2014-15.

New York’s management avoided that mistake this season. President Steve Mills and general manager Scott Perry set no clear postseason expectations.

Publicly.

Ian Begley of SNY:

Privately, though, expectations for the 2019-2020 Knicks were set during the team’s first official meeting. Members of the front office addressed the players in the meeting and conveyed two distinct messages, according to SNY sources familiar with the discussions:

1. They said, in no uncertain terms, that they believed that the Knicks were a playoff team and anything less than that was a disappointment.

2. Players who were entering free agency in the summer of 2020 were told that they would be judged much more heavily on the team’s win-loss record than their individual play.

There can be value in setting high expectations and challenging people to meet those expectations. Perhaps, telling players to focus on team success – not individual play – could have brought everyone together.

But managing a team full of players in contract years is a delicate dance, and New York failed spectacularly.

The Knicks started 4-18 then fired David Fizdale as coach. Fizdale didn’t distinguish himself, but he wasn’t the underlying problem, either. New York’s roster just wasn’t good enough. Pretending otherwise clearly added pressure then dysfunction.

At this point, the Knicks (12-33) must realize they’re headed toward another lost season. All preseason postseason goals are off the table.

This will be New York’s seventh straight season outside the playoffs. Perhaps, Mills will pay the price for this mess.

But whoever runs the front office, James Dolan will remain the owner. Dolan sometimes has unrealistic expectations. When the Knicks lose, he gripes. Infamously, he ordered Mills and Perry to address the media after a game this season, instantly casting a cloud over the rest of Fizdale’s tenure.

These problems start at the top.

PBT Podcast: Zion Williamson’s debut, and who should make NBA All-Star teams

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Zion Williamson‘s debut lived up to the hype — at least 3.5 minutes of it did.

What can we take away from that first game? That’s what myself and Dan Feldman of NBC Sports discuss in this latest PBT podcast. We get into some of the big questions of the night: Was Alvin Gentry wrong to pull him out in the fourth quarter? What can we expect out of Zion going forward? And can the Pelicans make a playoff push?

After that, Dan and I break down our All-Star choices, including who we think should start (the fans got it right in the West, not so much in the East, in our opinion) and who should be the reserves in both conferences. Sorry Indiana.

As always, you can check out the podcast below, listen and subscribe via iTunes at ApplePodcasts.com/PBTonNBC, subscribe via the fantastic Stitcher app, check us out on Google play, or check out the NBC Sports Podcast homepage and archive at Art19.

We want your questions for future podcasts, and your comments, so please email us at PBTpodcast@gmail.com.