Yao Ming being considered for Hall of Fame through international committee

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Shaquille O’Neal, Allen Iverson and Yao Ming are on the Basketball Hall of Fame ballot a year sooner than initially expected.

But Yao faces an easier path to enshrinement.

Despite spending a majority of his career in the NBA, Yao was nominated through the international committee, which can directly induct him. He’ll be judged against players like Vlade Divac and Toni Kukoc – hardly the bar set with the North American committee.

Shaq and Iverson are trying to enter the Hall through the North American committee, which names finalists. Then, another committee chooses among the finalists. Shaq and Iverson – whose career accomplishments easily top Yao’s – should clear that two-step process.

But Yao would have had a tougher time. Luckily for him, he won’t have to deal with that.

This exemplifies my problem with the Hall. It values diversifying the backgrounds of its members rather emphasizing their accomplishments. Why should Yao’s playing career face less scrutiny because he’s from China than Shaq’s and Iverson’s? They all spent the relevant portions of their careers in the NBA.

Similarly, too many players are enshrined for excelling at lower levels. The numerous paths to the Hall leave the NBA undervalued.

At least Yao proved himself a quality NBA player.

If only that’s how he were being judged.

Here’s a full list of nominations:

Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame Class of 2016 Ballot

* Indicates First-Time Nominee

North American Committee Nominations

Mark Aguirre (PLA)

Geese Ausbie (PLA)*

Bill Bertka (COA)

Junior Bridgeman* (PLA)

Irv Brown (REF)

Maurice Cheeks (PLA)

Terry Cummings (PLA)

Lefty Driesell (COA)

Hugh Evans (REF)*

Bill Fitch (COA)

Cotton Fitzsimmons (COA)

Darell Garretson (REF)*

A.C. Green (PLA)

Tim Hardaway (PLA)

Del Harris (COA)

Robert Hughes (COA)

Allen Iverson (PLA)*

Tom Izzo (COA)*

Kevin Johnson (PLA)

Marques Johnson (PLA)

Bobby Jones (PLA)*

Jerry “Tiger” Jones (COA)*

Gene Keady (COA)

Rollie Massimino (COA)

George McGinnis (PLA)

Gary McKnight (COA)*

John McLendon (COA)*

Danny Miles (COA)

Sidney Moncrief (PLA)

Dick Motta (COA)

Swen Nater (PLA)

Shaquille O’Neal (PLA)*

Mark Price (PLA)

Glenn Robinson (COA)

Lee Rose (COA)

Bo Ryan (COA)

Jack Sikma (PLA)

Steve Smith (COA)*

Fred Snowden (COA)

Eddie Sutton (COA)

Reggie Theus (PLA)

Rudy Tomjanovich (COA)

Chris Webber (PLA)

Paul Westphal (PLA)

Women’s Committee Nominations

Leta Andrews (COA)

Jennifer Azzi (PLA)

Rebecca Lobo (PLA)

Muffet McGraw (COA)

Susie McConnell (PLA)

Pearl Moore (PLA)*

Kim Mulkey (COA & PLA)

Harley Redin (COA)

Theresa Shank (PLA)

Marianne Stanley (COA)

Barbara Stevens (COA)

Sheryl Swoopes (PLA)*

Wayland Baptist (TEA)*

Theresa Weatherspoon (PLA)

DIRECT-ELECT CATEGORY

Early African-American Pioneers Committee Nominations

Clarence “Puggy” Bell

Sonny Boswell

Zack Clayton

Chuck Cooper

Bill Garrett

Inman Jackson

Clarence “Fats” Jenkins

Bucky Lew

Dave Minor

Hudson Oliver

Cumberland Posey Jr.

Al “Runt” Pullins

James “Pappy” Ricks

Paul Robeson

Eyre Saitch

William “Wee Willie” Smith

DIRECT-ELECT CATEGORY

International Committee Nominations

Tal Brody

Jackie Chazalon

Vlade Divac

Nick Galis

Semen Khalipski

Vladimir Kondrashin

Toni Kukoc

Yao Ming*

Aldo Ossola

Amaury Pasos

Dino Radja

Manuel Sainz

Togo Soares

Ranko Zeravica

Marcos Leite

DIRECT-ELECT CATEGORY

Contributor Committee Nominations

Marv Albert*

Al Attles

Dick Baumgartner*

Marty Blake

Vic Bubas

Wayne Duke*

Harry Glickman

Marty Glickman

Curt Gowdy

Tim Grgurich

Mannie Jackson

Tom Jernstedt

Johnny “Red” Kerr

John Kline

Red Klotz

Jerry Krause

Jack McCloskey

Johnny Most

Dennis Murphy

Joe O’Toole

Billy Packer

Jerry Reinsdorf

Zelda Spoelstra

Jim Valvano

Donnie Walsh

Frank Walsh

DIRECT-ELECT CATEGORY

Veterans Committee Nominations

1936 US Olympic Team*

1964 State Dept Basketball Ambassadors

Zelmo Beaty

Ron Boone

Sid Borgia

Carl Braun

Frank Brian

Joe Caldwell

Mack Calvin

Charles Eckman

Leroy Edwards

Leo Ferris*

Clarence “Bevo” Francis

Buck Freeman

Donnie Freeman

Travis Grant

Bob Grody

Joe Hammond

Robert Harrison

Flo Harvey

Cam Henderson

Robert Hopkins

Lou Hudson

Warren Jabali

Jimmy Jones

Freddie Lewis

Jim Loscutoff

Loyola of Chicago

George McGinnis

Ray Mears

Donald Moore*

Willie Naulls

John O’Brien

Philadelphia SPHAS

Mel Riebe

Glenn Roberts

Holcombe Rucker

Kenny Sailors

Fred Schaus

Charlie Scott

Kenny Sears

Frank Selvy

George Senesky

Paul Seymour

Charles Siler

Talvin Skinner

Ken Suesens

Tennessee A&I

Dick Van Arsdale*

Tom Van Arsdale*

Willie Wise

Max Zaslofsky

Rozier, Washington, Ball help Hornets rally past Heat 122-117

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CHARLOTTE, N.C. (AP) — Terry Rozier scored 31 points, P.J. Washington had 27 and the Charlotte Hornets stopped Miami’s three-game win streak with a 122-117 victory over the Heat on Sunday.

LaMelo Ball scored 13 of his 19 points in the fourth quarter as Charlotte improved to 7-16 at home. Gordon Hayward was a perfect 7 of 7 from the field for 20 points.

Rozier also had seven assists and six rebounds. He was 11 for 19 from the field, including a 5-for-11 performance from 3-point range. He made two buzzer-beater 3s at the end of quarters.

Jimmy Butler scored 28 points for Miami, and Tyler Herro had 24.

The Hornets, who have been hampered by injuries all season, have won four of six for the team’s best stretch of the season. Washington believes it’s a reflection of the team getting healthier.

Charlotte’s projected starting five to begin the season is finally back on the floor and appears to be starting to mesh.

“Everybody is back and everybody is healthy – and that is a major difference,” Washington said. “At the end of the day we have to keep going the way we are right now.”

Hayward has struggled with shoulder and hamstring issues, limiting the team’s highest-paid player to just 24 games.

Sunday marked his best game in months.

“He’s playing confident and getting easy baskets and just bullying guys down low,” Washington said. “He’s playing great basketball and I expect that of him every night.”

Whether a now healthy Hornets team can make a playoff push remains to be seen, but coach Steve Clifford remains optimistic.

“Getting ‘Melo and Gordon back, obviously you’re a different team,” Clifford said. “If we can get into playing set groups then we’ll have a good chance to hopefully put some good stretches together. (It helps) when they know who they’re playing with and they know where the shots are coming from.”

The Heat led 62-58 after Rozier banked in a 3 from the midcourt logo to close out the first half.

Miami went on a 10-1 run to start the third quarter. Herro knocked down two 3-pointers to help the Heat open a 13-point lead.

But Charlotte came storming back behind Washington and Rozier, who began knocking down shots from deep.

Charlotte pushed the lead to 12 with 5:54 left on a turnaround jumper by Rozier.

Miami rallied with a 10-0 run. Kyle Lowry found Bam Adebayo inside for a layup to cut the lead to 108-106.

But Charlotte had another burst as Mason Plumlee got the ball after Rozier won a jump ball and drove to the basket for a score. Ball canned an open 3-pointer to put Charlotte back up 114-106 with 1:50 left.

Washington’s rebound and score off his own miss kept Charlotte up by seven and Plumlee dunked off a pass from Washington to put the game away in the final minute.

Charlotte shot 54.2% from the field and scored 25 points in transition. The Hornets also outrebounded Miami 47-36.

“They have had a lot of injuries but when they have been fully healthy, this team can score much different than their numbers may suggest for the season,” Miami coach Erik Spoelstra said. “We did not step up defensively, they got a lot of easy run-ups that quickly changed the momentum of the game.”

Bulls’ Lonzo Ball “nowhere near playing,” could miss entire season

New Orleans Pelicans v Chicago Bulls
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“I’m trying to stay positive, keep my hopes up. I would love to play. I would never count that out.”

Lonzo Ball tried to put an optimistic face on his recovery from a second knee surgery, but he was realistic and put no timetable on a return.

Bulls coach Billy Donovan was more realistic, speaking Saturday before the Bulls took on the Magic. Via Julia Poe of the Chicago Tribune.

“He’s made some progress, but I’d be the first one to tell you he’s nowhere near playing,” Donovan said. “He’s just not. Because he’s not running on a consistent basis. When he can get to that place where he can do that consistently and be able to come back the next day and do it again, do it again and do it again — I think you’ll feel a little bit more optimistic.”

Could Ball be out for the entire season? Donovan again, via K.C. Johnson of NBC Sports Chicago:

“My guess would be – there’s not been a specifically set date – my guess would be I think we get through the All-Star Break, I think there would probably be everybody sitting down to talk about length and time of the season, how realistic is it for him to get back, if he could get back what would the minutes look like, is it not worth having him back just because it’s too much?’’ Donovan said. “I think everything, at least in my conversations with medical about him, have always been geared towards helping him get back to playing. Certainly once you get out of the All-Star Break, with the amount of time that’s left, basically you’re at the end of February. You have all of March and not even two weeks in April, so you start to get to that point where I think there will be some conversations of, ‘OK, if he’s still not close to playing, what’s the plan moving forward?’”

Ball has undergone multiple knee surgeries. The first was in January 2022 and the expectation at the time was he would return for the playoffs, but his knee didn’t respond well during rehab. That led to a second knee surgery, and recovery from that is going slowly as well. It leaves the Bulls in a tough spot, they miss his defense and his being a floor general on offense as they have struggled to a 23-26 record this season that sees them sitting as the No. 11 seed in the East.

Pelicans Trey Murphy III reportedly invited to participate in Dunk Contest

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We knew three participants invited to the All-Star Saturday night Dunk Contest: G-League fan favorite Mac McClung, the Portland Trail Blazers Shaedon Sharpe and the Houston Rockets’ KJ Martin.

The fourth slot in that event will go to the Pelicans’ Trey Murphy, reports Andrew Lopez of ESPN.

No doubt Murphy can throw it down with the best of them.

The Dunk Contest will headline All-Star Saturday night, Feb. 18, from the Vivint Arena (soon to be the Delta Center again). The event will be broadcast on TNT.

The Dunk Contest is the Saturday night headline event, but it has fallen flat in recent years. Adding a G-League dunker and young, bouncy athletes such as Murphy, Martin and Sharpe could make this one entertaining. However, what fans really want to see — what made the Dunk Contest must-watch back in the day when Jordan, Kobe, and Vince Carter were doing it — is the stars. There will be no Ja Morant, no Zion Williamson, and no Anthony Edwards in this contest.

LeBron James NBA all-time scoring record tracker

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Kareem Abdul-Jabbar has held the NBA all-time scoring record at 38,387 points since he retired in 1989. It is one of the most iconic records in sports and one thought by many that would never be broken, but LeBron James is on the verge of breaking that scoring record and doing it at age 38. How many more points does LeBron need to take over the scoring record? When is it projected to happen? Let’s break down the latest numbers (this will be updated after every Lakers game until the record is set).

How many points does LeBron James need to set the scoring record?
117

Abdul-Jabbar career points: 38,387
LeBron career points: 38,271

Lakers’ upcoming schedule:

Jan. 30 at Nets
Jan. 31 at Knicks
Feb. 2 at Pacers
Feb. 4 at Pelicans
Feb. 7 vs. Thunder
Feb. 9 vs. Bucks

When is LeBron projected to set the all-time scoring record:

LeBron is averaging 30.2 points per game this season, at that pace he would set the record on Feb. 7 at home against the Oklahoma City Thunder (if he does sit out Monday against the Nets, as the team announced).

Since he turned 38 (on Dec. 30), LeBron has averaged 35.2 points per game, which would see the mark broken at home against the Thunder.

News and notes on LeBron’s quest for the record:

• The Lakers have officially listed LeBron (and Anthony Davis) as out for the game Monday night in Brooklyn. That is the first game of a back-to-back for the Lakers, and they have rested LeBron in half of those for most of the season. This will push back the date he breaks the record, making it likely it happens at Crypto.com Arena.

• LeBron scored 41 points — and felt he should have had a couple more — in the Lakers’ overtime loss to the Celtics Saturday on national television.

• Sixers Doc Rivers on what impresses him in LeBron’s run to this record: “LeBron has done it so differently to me [thank Kareem]. Because LeBron is not a natural scorer. LeBron is a playmaker. He got criticized early in his career for making the right decisions. And the fact that he’s now about to break the scoring record, it really points out his greatness.”

• LeBron scored 20 points in the Lakers’ win over the Spurs, a game in which Anthony Davis returned from injury and Rui Hachimura made his debut as a Laker after being traded from the Wizards.

• What has Kareem Abdul-Jabbar said about LeBron passing his record? There has been a bit of frostiness between the two men, but Abdul-Jabbar was gracious in comments to Marc Stein back in 2021 about the possibility of his record falling: “I’m excited to see it happen. I don’t see records as personal accomplishments, but more as human achievements. If one person can do something that’s never been done, that means we all have a shot at doing it. It’s a source of hope and inspiration. Roger Bannister broke the four-minute mile back in 1954. Since then, not only have 1,400 runners beaten that time, but the new record is 17 seconds less. We all win when a record is broken and if LeBron breaks mine, I will be right there to cheer him on.”