Bucks reportedly opening season at home for first time since Michael Jordan’s rookie year

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The biggest news about the Knicks’ schedule leak is the absence of a Christmas game.

Their reported opener – at the Bucks on Oct. 28 – is of only minor importance in New York. Sure, there are storylines – Greg Monroe facing the Knicks after spurning them in free agency, the Knicks hoping this a battle for playoff position, etc.

But in Milwaukee, it’s definitely a big deal.

This will be the Bucks’ first opening game at home since 1984 (hat tip: Chris Herring of The Wall Street Journal).

As you can imagine that’s the NBA’s longest streak – by a huge margin:

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In their last season opener in Milwaukee, the Bucks beat the Bulls, 108-106. Terry Cummings led Milwaukee with 34 points, and Orlando Woolridge scored 29 for Chicago. A Bulls rookie named Michael Jordan, playing his second NBA game, added 21.

So why hasn’t Milwaukee opened at home since?

Herring in a 2013 article:

In the Bucks’ case, there is no market bias with the league’s schedule-makers. Instead, the Bucks have all but forced the NBA to give them road games to start each season. Team owner Herb Kohl—whose purchase of the team, in 1985, coincided with the beginning of the streak—wasn’t immediately available for comment. But in an email, Bucks spokesman Dan Smyczek said the “simple answer is [that] we like having a weekend home opener.”

That makes business sense. In the past 10 years, the Bucks have drawn 11.6% more fans—1,740 people a game—to Saturday home games than to games on other days of the week, according to Stats LLC. That is the third-largest boost in the league, trailing only the Charlotte Bobcats and Washington Wizards.

The club’s scheduling oddity—which illustrates every small-market team’s challenge in drawing fans to games—is one of many that Matt Winick, the NBA’s senior vice president of scheduling and game operations, has to accommodate each year.

Before each season, all 30 NBA teams submit a calendar laying out when their arena will be free of concerts or other events so they can host a game. But the Bucks always list their first available home date as a Saturday. As such, with NBA seasons beginning in the middle of the week, Winick is forced to schedule Milwaukee on the road to start.

The Bucks have new owners, Wes Edens and Marc Lasry. That alone could explain the shift.

The NBA is also trying to reduce the number of four-in-fives. The more teams limit their available dates, the more difficult schedule equity becomes. The league might just have a reduced tolerance for the Bucks saying they can’t host a game during the season’s first few days.

Either way, Milwaukee fans will learn – or, for a select few older ones, re-learn – the excitement of playing at home to begin a season.

Rudy Gobert says France’s bronze medal ‘means everything’

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Some countries, like the United States, don’t really care about the World Cup. The 2019 FIBA World Cup in China was perhaps evidence of that, with Team USA not even bothering to medal.

For countries like France and players like Rudy Gobert, the World Cup is a chance to show that their nation is one that is coming forth as a place to be reckoned with when it comes to basketball development.

France recently took home third place in the 2019 Cup, and for that the Utah Jazz center was grateful. Speaking to reporters after their win over Australia, Gobert said that grabbing the bronze “means everything” to him and to France.

Via Twitter:

That’s some pretty moving stuff from a guy in Gobert who we know is someone who wears his emotions on his sleeve.

Bernie Sanders says LeBron James is the GOAT over Michael Jordan (VIDEO)

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Everyone has an opinion about who is the greatest player of all time between Michael Jordan and LeBron James. Most folks still seem to pick Jordan, although it’s been hard to argue with the type of player that James is in a vacuum outside of measurements like championship rings.

In any case, we now have one more person who has tossed their opinion into the ring of public consciousness. Democratic presidential candidate Bernie Sanders has now said that he believes that LeBron is the GOAT thanks to his public service.

Via Twitter:

“I think LeBron has been willing to do what a lot of athletes are not and get involved in the political process, put money into education, and I respect that.”

James has certainly done a lot politically, socially, and as an activist. He’s supported things like entire schools, and he’s been on the bleeding edge of NBA activism against things like police brutality.

Jordan has also done his part, including a recent pledge for $1 million in funds to aid Bahamanian hurricane relief. Folks like to bag on MJ for his purported “Republicans buy sneakers, too” comment, but it’s unclear whether he actually ever said or felt that.

In either case, it appears that we know who Sanders thinks is the GOAT. Next someone should ask Elizabeth Warren if she would have taken Kobe or Shaq in 2004.

Watch Zion Williamson snap the head off a golf club (VIDEO)

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As any good golfer can tell you, the key to getting a pure ball flight is figuring out the idea of compression. Instead of scooping the ball off the ground, the idea is to hit the ball first and use the ground to compress the dimpled object between the earth and the clubface.

And while New Orleans Pelicans rookie Zion Williamson probably isn’t concentrating on his golf game heading into his first NBA season, it looks like the idea of compression isn’t lost on him.

As the Pelicans held a golf event this week, Williamson was filmed snapping the head off of an iron while taking a shot off the tee box.

Via Twitter:

It’s hard to tell from this angle, but it looks like Williamson has a pretty solid swing. I’m extremely jealous of the amount of lag he has at the return parallel position on the downswing.

Someone get this guy a stiffer shaft or something. I can only imagine the kind of havoc Williamson is going to inflict on NBA rims this year if this is how the man golfs.

James Harden on Russell Westbrook pairing: ‘We’ll figure it out’

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There has been some doubt that James Harden and Russell Westbrook will be able to fit together with the Houston Rockets this season. Both players have matured quite a bit since their time together in Oklahoma City with the Thunder, and now there are real questions about Westbrook’s ability to fit next to just about anyone.

Like Westbrook, Harden is a ball-dominant guard, and we still don’t know the long-term plan for Coach Mike D’Antoni. Houston has real championship hopes, but they could also look much different in a year or two.

Still, Harden and Westbrook have known each other since they were 10 years old. They grew up together in Los Angeles, and are at least very good friends. To that end, Harden says that he believes they will be able to figure it out even if the first year together has bumps along the way.

Via GQ:

It’s like, yo, we’ll figure it out. Everything isn’t necessarily going to be smooth at first, there are going to be ups and downs, and that’s part of an 82-game season. Hopefully by the end of the season, we’ve caught a rhythm and everybody is on the same page going into the playoffs. That’s all you can ask for.

That’s a pretty reasonable outlook to have at this juncture. The NBA is constantly changing, and it’s possible that these two guys could have such a personal connection that their on-court conflicts end up being negligible.

It’s another new era in Houston as they try to capitalize on the Golden State Warriors’ injury issues.