Kevin Durant latest player to slam officials, says “he was looking to try to tech me up”

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UPDATE: Kevin Durant felt differently on Tuesday.

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There’s always going to be some tension between players and referees — one side is trying to enforce the rules, the other is trying to bend them as far as they can to their advantage. It’s the nature of the game.

However, tensions between referees and players are impacting the game every night. Those tensions are at an all-time high (at least in the last few decades) and the fallout from all of it changes the game.

Kevin Durant was ejected in the fourth quarter of the Warriors win Tuesday night for arguing a call, his fourth ejection this season — he had just one his entire career before this season. KD said that referee James Williams was gunning for him, and told his side of the story to Chris Hayes of ESPN.

“Well, the first half, I was dribbling up the right side and I made a left-to-right cross, and he said I carried,” Durant said. “I kind of let that go. I asked him where he got the carry from. He said I froze the defender, and I said that’s what the crossover is for and that’s why I do it, to freeze my defender.

“And he tried to make a bunch of excuses, and I told him he was wrong, and he went into halftime probably with an attitude. So the second half, his whole thing is like he’s trying to get me…

“Look at my first tech,” Durant said. “I got the rebound and I dribbled the ball hard, and he teched me up. He was searching for me. He was looking to try to tech me up to get me back because he’s still in his feelings from the first half. That’s what’s been going on around the league the whole year. A bunch of that. I got to keep my head a little bit, but I was upset. I’m a human being too. I get upset.”

The referees are not allowed to speak to the media and tell their side of the story. However, Durant was ejected after he starred down referee Brett Nansel after a no-call on a drive to the basket, then (according to Haynes) yelled: “Why the f— that’s not a foul?”

That gets to the heart of what referees say privately — players have become more aggressive and less civil toward them, at least one player complains about every single call in the game, the league used to have their back with fines and suspensions for language and other abuses but they don’t anymore, so the referees have to take control and police the game themselves. Durant was emotional and demonstrative all game, should he be allowed to do that and curse at officials, showing them up, without repercussions?

There’s been a crop of young referees coming into the game, and where there used to be a dialogue between players and officials that has changed. That’s why the league brought in Monty McCutcheon to help oversee and train officials, to help improve this dialogue, but it’s going to take more than that. The players are right, the referees have been too quick with the trigger this season, the officials have to let the players vent some and have a dialogue. But the players have to know that the way they have protested calls — and seemingly every call — wears on both officials and fans. It was not much fun to watch the Chris Paul/Blake Griffin Clippers most nights in part because that team didn’t think it committed a foul for two seasons and complained about all of them. Both sides have valid points. We’ll see if the All-Star weekend meeting between representatives of the players and referees union can help alleviate some of the pressure.

Report: Mike Woodson close to joining Suns coaching staff

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The Phoenix Suns are bolstering their coaching staff. After spending most the 2017-18 season under interim head coach Jay Triano, Phoenix finally settled on Igor Kokoskov as their top man.

Now, it appears they’re adding some veteran talent to the front row.

According to ESPN’s Marc Stein, the Suns are in talks to bring former New York Knicks coach Mike Woodson in as Kokoskov’s right hand man. Meanwhile, ArizonaSports.com is reporting that the decision has already been made to hire Woodson.

Via Twitter:

Woodson, 60, was last on the bench with the Los Angeles Clippers from 2014-2018. He was head coach of the Knicks from 2012-2014, and helmed the Atlanta Hawks from 2004-2010.

This is a smart hire for the Suns, who have needed some legitimacy after firing Earl Watson just three games into the season this year. Phoenix has been in a bit of a freefall since letting Jeff Hornacek go in 2015. Indeed, despite for one outlying 48-win season in 2013-14, Phoenix hasn’t been a very good team in this decade.

With a solidified coaching staff and the No. 1 overall pick in the 2018 NBA Draft, there’s hope yet for the Suns. Now, the question is who they take with that pick. Luka Doncic? Deandre Ayton? The draft continues to intrigue.

Andre Iguodala out for Game 4 Tuesday vs. Rockets

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“When we’re right, when we’re playing how we are supposed to play, Andre’s right in the middle of it. His defense and being smart, making good decisions. Andre is one of the guys who seems to set the tone for that for us.”

That’s Warriors coach Steve Kerr on Andre Iguodala

The Warriors are going to have to be without that tone Tuesday night, Iguodala will miss the game with a knee contusion.

This is a blow to the Warriors, who have started small with Iguodala through the first three games of this series. The Warriors have been 4.3 points per 100 possessions better with Iguodala on the court through the first three games of this series.

Expect Kevon Looney or Nick Young to start, with the rest of the minutes divided up between Shaun Livingston, Jordan Bell, and David West.

Whatever Kerr and the Warriors go with, expect James Harden and the Rockets to attack it.

 

WNBA team rehearses ring ceremony at practice of team it beat in Finals

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The NBA does petty very, very, very, very, very, very, very well.

The WNBA is trying to give the NBA a run for its money.

The Minnesota Lynx and Los Angeles Sparks have met in the last two WNBA Finals, the Lynx winning last year and the Sparks winning the year before. Minnesota hosted Los Angeles in the season opener Sunday, and the Lynx unveiled their banner and presented players with rings.

Before that, while the Sparks were practicing in Minnesota, the Lynx played their video for the event.

Holly Rowe of ESPN:

The Sparks beat the Lynx on Sunday, but I don’t think that’s enough to override Minnesota’s power move.

Kobe Bryant on Kanye West’s comments: “What the hell are you talking about?”

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Kanye West, the President Trump backing hip-hop star, drew a lot of backlash for his comments on TMZ:

“When you hear about slavery for 400 years — for 400 years? That sounds like a choice. You were there for 400 years and it’s all of y’all. It’s like we’re mentally imprisoned.” 

Mentally, maybe in some cases. But more so physically, with guns and whips and attack dogs and a whole lot more weapons that were all on one side. Nobody chooses slavery.

Tuesday, Kobe Bryant surprised a group of about 300 high school students at WE RISE — a 10-day pop-up festival dedicated to sparking a movement for change in the mental health system — in Downtown Los Angeles. One of the students asked him about Kanye’s comments. Kobe is not down.

“I’m sure (I feel) the same way everybody else here in this room feels. What the hell are you talking about? I think that was my reaction as is everybody else’s reaction….

“The thing about our country is that you have the right to say whatever it is that you want to say…that’s the beautiful thing about living in a democracy. I think, for him, he’s one of these entertainers that’s always in a constant state of growth, he’s always challenging … himself, doing a lot of questioning internally himself…so I just take it for what it is and completely disagree.”

If I need to explain to you why Kobe is in the right here, you need to take a basic American history course again.

Good on Kobe for his comments. More importantly, good on Kobe for taking the time to promote mental health awareness.

“It’s easy for us as people to kind of ignore the emotional side of it,  especially when it comes to things that deal with negativity, things that deal with insecurity, things that deal with fear,” Kobe said. “It’s very easy to take the fear and just push it down, try to act like it doesn’t exist. The reason why it starts with imagination is because you first must imagine the life that you want to have. You must first imagine what it is you dream of becoming.”

Kobe did that, and now he’s got an Oscar. Oh, and a few basketball awards, too.