Kentucky Derby’s finish recalls controversial end of Game 1 of 2018 NBA Finals

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Think back to the end of Game 1 of the NBA Finals last year and the first thing to come to mind is the legendary J.R. Smith blunder as he dribbled out the clock in a tie game, sending the contest to overtime. The Warriors won that extra session, the Cavaliers were emotionally crushed, and the series was already all but over.

However, after that game in the Cleveland locker room, it was not Smith they were complaining about (mostly), it was a controversial overturn of a charging call on Kevin Durant with :36 seconds left in the game, which upon review was changed to a blocking foul by LeBron James. The Cavaliers thought the referees cost them the game before Smith got his chance to do it.

Saturday’s controversial ending to the 145th Kentucky Derby brought that moment to mind — a video review that changed the outcome on the sport’s biggest stage. At this point you know what happened in the Kentucky Derby: Maximum Security led wire-to-wire but rounding the turn heading into the home stretch he veered sharply out of his lane (his jockey said because he was spooked by crowd noise) and into the path of other horses, impeding them. The race stewards spent a lot of time in front of the video review, ultimately deciding Maximum Security did violate the rules, giving the race to Country House, a 65-1 shot.

It was the first time in Kentucky Derby history that the horse that crossed the finish line first was not declared the winner.

The racing experts can decide if that was the right call — and watching the NBC broadcast, they did not all agree on whether it was or not — but it shows just how much video replay has become a part of sport. And a part of the controversy, part of the post-game debate. Just ask Manchester City about it. Video review of borderline plays is now just one more thing for fans and media members to argue and complain about.

It was for the NBA last June.

If the referees had upheld their original call, it would have been Cavaliers’ ball up two with :36 seconds left, not a guaranteed win but Cleveland would have been in control. Instead, Durant hit two free throws to tie the game. It changed everything.

“I thought I read that play as well as I read any play in my career defensively,” LeBron said of the play. “I seen the drive, I was outside the charge line, stepped in and took the contact. It was huge play. Huge play.”

The officials had to start the review to see if LeBron was inside the restricted area, but once they look at it the referees were allowed to change the call if the block/charge ruling was seen as incorrect. Cleveland’s argument — and it’s a legitimate one — is that there was no question if LeBron was in the restricted area, he clearly was not, so this play should never have been reviewed.

It was. The call was overturned. The NBA’s Last Two Minute report the next day backed the referees’ decision.

The Warriors went on to sweep the Cavaliers — Golden State would have won the series whatever that call — and that, combined the blunder of J.R. Smith, relegated the controversial review call to the back burner. Maybe it shouldn’t.

But just wait, another review controversy will come along soon enough in the NBA to bring that debate back to the front burner.

Minnesota signs undrafted rookie Naz Reid to multiyear deal

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MINNEAPOLIS (AP) — The Minnesota Timberwolves have signed rookie center Naz Reid to a multiyear contract, upgrading the two-way deal they initially gave him before a strong performance for the team’s entry in the NBA Summer League in Las Vegas.

The new contract, completed Thursday, all but ensures that Reid will be on the regular-season roster, after going undrafted out of LSU.

Jon Krawczynski of The Athletic broke the story.

The 6-foot-10, 250-pound Reid averaged 11.9 points and 5.4 rebounds in 18.6 minutes over seven summer league games against other clubs largely composed of rookies and second-year players. The Timberwolves’ team reached the championship game.

Reid averaged 13.6 points and a team-high 7.2 rebounds in his lone season at LSU, which reached the Sweet 16 of the NCAA Tournament.

Bulls bring back Shaquille Harrison on one-year contract

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Shaquille Harrison started last season as an afterthought at the end of the Chicago Bulls’ bench. Then, because Cameron Payne was not good and Kris Dunn got injured (and was really not that good, either), Harrison got his chance — and took it. He was a defender Fred Hoiberg and then Jim Boylen could trust, and he played in the final 72 Bulls games last season at almost 20 minutes a night.

He will be back with the Bulls next season, the team announced.

While not announced, this is a one-year minimum contract. The Bulls waived Harrison back on July 6 as they remade the roster, but Harrison played one game at Summer League for the Bulls and they decided to bring him back.

Harrison is a Boylen favorite — he plays hard and defends well — and while minutes will be harder to come by behind Tomas Satoransky and Coby White, Harrison is a guy Boylen wants on the bench.

Dunn is on the roster at point guard, too, but the Bulls are rumored to be looking to trade him and his $5.4 million salary. Chicago will likely have to throw in a sweetener, like a decent second-round pick, to make that happen.

Nike countersues Kawhi Leonard over ‘Klaw’ logo

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“My mind on my money and my money on my mind.”
—Snoop Dogg

Nike and Kawhi Leonard are going to court over control of his “Klaw” logo, and it’s all about money and brand.

Leonard left Nike last season, eventually signing with New Balance, and he wants to be able to market his Klaw logo as part of his line with his new company. Leonard and his representatives sued Nike for control of the logo, saying Leonard came up with it in his own drawings.

Nike has countersued and said Leonard did not design the logo. Tim Bontemps of ESPN had these quotes from the countersuit itself.

“In this action, Kawhi Leonard seeks to re-write history by asserting that he created the ‘Claw Design’ logo, but it was not Leonard who created that logo. The ‘Claw Design’ was created by a talented team of NIKE designers, as Leonard, himself, has previously admitted…

“In his Complaint, Leonard alleges he provided a design to NIKE. That is true. What is false is that the design he provided was the Claw Design. Not once in his Complaint does Leonard display or attach either the design that he provided or the Claw Design. Instead, he conflates the two, making it appear as though those discrete works are one and the same. They are not.”

TMZ posted the designs.

I’m not about to guess what a judge would decide in this case. Most likely, this gets settled one way or another.

Meanwhile, New Balance is trying to come up with a new slogan for Leonard and his gear. King of the North is now out after his move to the Los Angeles Clippers this summer.

J.R. Smith reportedly meets with Bucks to talk contract

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After five seasons in Cleveland, the Cavaliers waived J.R. Smith. The 34-year-old veteran wing is not part of the Cavaliers future, and by waiving him before the guarantee date they only had to pay him $4.4 million of this $15.7 million salary.

That makes Smith a free agent.

He sat down with the Bucks on Thursday, according to Shams Charania of The Athletic.

The Bucks can only offer minimum contracts at this point.

Smith will turn 34 before next season starts and his skills are in decline, he shot just 30.8 percent from three last season. The Bucks will likely start Khris Middleton and Wesley Matthews on the wing with Sterling Brown, Pat Connaughton, and Donte DiVincenzo behind them. They have the roster spot to make the addition. The questions are does Smith fit, does he want the small role that’s really available, and how often will he wear a shirt around the facility?