LeBron James
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LeBron James says watching son play broke gameday routine

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Has LeBron James prioritized playing with his son over winning?

That question has swirled around the league, especially with LeBron signing with the Lakers – a move his friend Dwyane Wade described as a lifestyle decision. Even LeBron’s agent, Rich Paul, didn’t emphasize winning when comparing LeBron’s move to Los Angeles with him going to the Heat and back to the Cavaliers.

Yesterday, LeBron watched Bronny play in Springfield, Mass., then drove to Boston to play the Celtics. The Lakers lost by 32, and LeBron acknowledged the 180-mile roundtrip disrupted his game-day routine.

LeBron, via ESPN:

I’ll break every routine in my life for my family. Listen, if the guys is with me, they’re going to make sure I get back safe. But my routine was broke today. But I can care less about it if I’m seeing my family, my wife and my daughter and my kids. So, it’s a unique opportunity to see my son live play that close to where I’m at. So, I can care less about this. This right here is all secondary when it comes to my family. So, nothing else matters.

Does LeBron still want to win? Of course.

But it’s also impossible to summon the same hunger he had when chasing his first championship and then trying to win for Cleveland and cement his legacy. Priorities change. At age 35, LeBron has a different perspective on work-life balance than he did when he was younger.

LeBron will undoubtedly face criticism for saying this. It’s easy to tell someone else – especially someone on a team people cheer for – to put his job ahead of his family. It’s much harder to put your own job in front of your own family.

This is why it was absurd for LeBron to question his Lakers teammates last year on whether basketball was the biggest thing in their life. It’s not the biggest thing in his life!

Listen to former NBA champions reminisce about a title run. They often crow about how devoted they were to the team, putting all other distractions – even family – aside. It’s admirable until you consider how disturbing it is.

There will always be players hungrier than others for a championship. That’s their advantage in basketball (at least until they burn out), though not necessarily life.

It doesn’t sound like that’s LeBron right now.

Will he shift more attention toward the Lakers in the playoffs? Probably. It’s easier not to give full focus for a regular-season game, especially with the Lakers four games up in the Western Conference.

But LeBron’s family isn’t disappearing come April, May and June. He’s going to care about his wife and children rather than be totally consumed with his job. And he’s not going to apologize for that.

Arizona State leading scoring Remy Martin declares for 2020 NBA Draft

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Arizona State junior Remy Martin has declared for the 2020 NBA Draft:

The six-foot point guard took on more of scoring role in his third season with the Sun Devils than he had in his first two seasons. Martin averaged 19.1 points per game on 43.2% shooting from the field. Martin also dished out 4.1 assists per game, after averaging 5.0 assists as a sophomore.

Arizona State’s leading scoring may just be testing the waters, as he’s expected to go undrafted. NBA scouts have concerns over Martin’s size at the NBA level. One concern is his ability to hold up defensively, as NBA point guards are trending bigger and bigger in recent years.

As a smaller guard, Martin was one of the players who could have benefited from the traditional pre-draft process. With in-person workouts on hold, and potentially cancelled entirely, players have limited opportunities to improve their draft stock. Teams may be drafting off previous in-person scouting and off of tape.

NBA players reportedly to take part in televised NBA 2K tournament Friday

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If we can’t watch NBA players on the court, at least we can watch them control their digital selves and teammates in a live basketball tournament.

ESPN plans to broadcast an NBA 2K tournament with only NBA players at the controllers, a story broken by Chris Haynes at Yahoo Sports. The hope is to have it air Friday, with the players competing from their homes around the country.

The NBA is planning a players-only NBA 2K tournament that will feature the league’s sharpest video gamers and it will be broadcast on ESPN, league sources told Yahoo Sports…

Players competing against their peers in the comfort of their own homes could offer a distraction for fans who are missing the game and a little competition.

The league is still finalizing some details for the tournament, but each team is expected to have a representative, sources said.

Esports are incredibly popular and growing as a spectator sport, both in person and on Twitch and other platforms. With there being a pent-up demand for sports programming, this seems a smart attempt to draw eyeballs. Even people who are non-esports viewers could tune in just to check it out, because it’s that or rewatching Tiger King.

You can bet that if it works, we will see a lot more of it in the future.

(Inside baseball note: I would love to see the emails/texts flying around ESPN about Yahoo breaking a story about what is coming in their network.)

 

Shaquille O’Neal: I had no idea what was happening with Joe Exotic of Tiger King

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On a recent episode of “The Big Podcast with Shaq” former NBA superstar Shaquille O’Neal said that “he had no idea” what was happening at the zoo run by Joe Exotic. Joe Exotic was recently made famous through the popular Netflix documentary “Tiger King: Murder, Mayhem and Madness”.

Footage of O’Neal appeared in the first episode of the show and was shown taking photographs with the animals.

The documentary also showed a cut of O’Neal on TNT saying “Shoutout to Exotic Joe. I got two more tigers.”

On his podcast, O’Neal explained:

“So we go in there, and it’s a beautiful place, and the character that was there was Exotic Joe. We’re there and I dropped some donations for the tigers’ foods and all that. We take pictures with (the) tigers. We went back a couple times. Then we go back another time and we found out that he’s involved with all the stuff, and then, actually, I stopped going.”

Joseph Maldonado-Passage, also known as Joe Exotic, was sentenced to 22 years in prison after being found guilty of 19 different charges. Those charges included murder-for-hire plot, illegally selling endangered species and other animal-related offenses.

O’Neal clarified that he never bought any animals, but often donates to charities that help animals. He also made it clear that he’s not friends with Joe Exotic, nor anyone involved in the trade of endangered species.

“I don’t harm tigers,” O’Neal said. “I love tigers. I love white tigers. Do I put donations to these zoos to help these tigers out? I do it all the time. Do I own tigers personally at my house? No. But I love tigers. Listen, people are going to make their own opinions, but, again, I was just a visitor. I met this guy — not my friend. Don’t know him. Never had any business dealings with him, and I had no idea any of that stuff was going on.”

Report: Brooklyn Nets looking to hire a blue-chip head coach

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When the Brooklyn Nets and Kenny Atkinson parted ways in early-March, the team installed Jacque Vaughn as the interim head coach.

According to ESPN’s Brian Windhorst that’s a short-term appointment. On his podcast “Brian Windhorst and The Hoop Collective”, the reporter said the Nets are looking to hire a coach with a track record of NBA success.

“One of the things that has been expressed sort of the grapevine, that’s the way I’m going to say it to protect myself from the aggregators, is that Durant and Irving would like a blue-chip coach. I don’t know what this says about the way they thought about Atkinson, but they want a big-name coach.”

Names linked to the Brooklyn opening are Tom Thibodeau, Mark Jackson, and both Jeff and Stan Van Gundy.

Atkinson leaving Brooklyn was a surprise, considering he had led the Nets back to the playoffs in 2019. That success came after a three-year rebuild. That process was kicked off when general manager Sean Marks hired Atkinson to lead the on-court development. Under Marks and Atkinson, the Nets developed several players who had been given up on by other teams.

Brooklyn was 28-34 when Atkinson was let go. The Nets had gone 2-0 under Vaughn before the NBA suspended play in mid-March.