Kobe Bryant, Tim Duncan, Kevin Garnett are officially Hall of Famers

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It may be the greatest Hall of Fame class in history.

There may not have been a lot of suspense — the shock would have been if these three did not get in on the first ballot —  but Saturday it became official:

Kobe Bryant, Tim Duncan, and Kevin Garnett are Hall of Famers.

They were elected on the first ballot in a deep class that also includes Tamika Catchings, Rudy Tomjanovich, Kim Mulkey, Barbara Stevens, Eddie Sutton, and longtime FIBA executive Patrick Baumann.

It is Kobe’s election, months after his tragic death in a helicopter accident, that draws the most emotion.

“Obviously, we wish he was here with us to celebrate, but it’s definitely the peak of his NBA career,” Kobe’s widow Vanessa Bryant said on the broadcast announcing Kobe’s enshrinement. “Every accomplishment he had as an athlete was a stepping stone to be here.”

“No amount of words can fully describe what Kobe Bryant meant to the Los Angeles Lakers,” said Lakers co-owner and governor Jeanie Buss. “Kobe was not only a proven winner and a champion, he gave everything he had to the game of basketball. His fierce competitiveness, work ethic and drive were unmatched. Those qualities helped Kobe lead us to five titles – and have now brought him to the Hall of Fame, where he will be enshrined with the greatest to have ever played the game. No one deserves it more.”

Kobe’s resume was nearly unparalleled: Five-time NBA champion, two-time Finals MVP, 18-time NBA All-Star, 11-time All-NBA First Team, the 2008 NBA MVP, nine-time NBA All-Defensive First Team member, he is fourth on the NBA All-Time scoring list, plus Bryant earned two Olympic gold medals.

One of the few guys who can put up a resume anywhere close to that is Tim Duncan, the face of a two-decade San Antonio Spurs dynasty. He is a five-time NBA champion and three-time Finals MVP, two-time NBA MVP, he was a 15-time NBA All-Star, an eight-time NBA All-Defensive First Team member,  Rookie of the Year, and Duncan is the only player in NBA history with 1,000 or more wins with one team. At Wake Forest, he was a three-time First Team All-American and won the AP College Player of the Year award.

There also was never any doubt about the resume of Garnett: An NBA champion, NBA MVP, 15-time  All-Star, nine-time NBA All-Defensive First Team selection, Defensive Player of the Year, and he has an Olympic gold medal.

“It’s just the culmination, just the culmination,” Garnett said on the broadcast of the announcement. “You put countless hours into this, you dedicate yourself to the craft, you take no days off, you play through injuries, you play through demise, you play through obstacles, give no excuses for anything, you learn, you build, this is the culmination.”

“This is an honor so well deserved. We congratulate Kevin on being selected to the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame,” Timberwolves owner Glen Taylor said. “From the day we drafted him in 1995, we knew there was something special about him that Minnesota had never experienced before. I’ve watched Kevin grow on and off the court and will forever be grateful for his contributions to the Timberwolves organization. He was beloved by our fans in a way that only few players experience and will always have a place at Target Center.”

Those three alone make this an insanely good and distinguished class, but it goes beyond them into other deserving people. Also elected to the Hall of Fame are:

• Tamika Catchings. A WNBA MVP and champion, she is a 10-time WNBA All-Star and won four gold medals with Team USA.

• Rudy Tomjanovic. A legend of the Houston Rockets, he is the only person in NBA history to score 10,000 points as a player and win 500 career games with two championships as a coach. He coached two Rockets teams to titles and the 2000 Olympic team in Sydney to gold.

“Congratulations to Rudy T on his well-deserved and long overdue selection to the Hall of Fame,” said Rockets owner Tilman J. Fertitta. “As a longtime Rockets fan, I admired Rudy’s tenacity as a player and loved watching his attention to detail in coaching the back-to-back championship teams in the 90’s. Heart of a champion! This is an exciting day not only for Rudy and his family, but for Rockets fans everywhere.”

• Kim Mulkey. She coached the Baylor Bears to three national titles, and she won one herself as a player.

• Barbara Stevens. The coach of Division II powerhouse Bentley University, she is the fifth coach in NCAA women’s basketball history to reach 1,000 career wins.

• Eddie Sutton. He coached four schools to NCAA Tournament and won more than 800 games as a college coach.

Wembanyama encore: 36 points, 11 rebounds, 4 blocks against Ignite

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Victor Wembanyama is for real.

And I don’t mean real tall, although he is that, too. Check out this image of him next to Rudy Gobert, who is a legit 7’1″.

Wembanyama is for real like a genuine generational talent — in his second game against the G-League Ignite he had 36 points, 11 rebounds, and four blocked shots.

That comes off his 37-point performance in the first meeting where he hit 7-of-11 3-pointers and had five blocks.

To be clear: That is 73 points, 15 rebounds, nine blocks, shooting 9-of-18 from 3 (and 22-of-44 overall) across two games against a good talent level. And he is 18 years old.

Everyone in and around the NBA has been trying to come up with player comps — Kristaps Porzingis, Ralph Sampson, Tim Duncan — but the reality is Wembanyama is one of one.

Scoot Henderson — the G-League guard projected as the No. 2 pick in the 2023 NBA Draft — played just five minutes in this game after bumping his knee while guarding Wembanyama. He was taken out of the game and X-rays found a bone bruise, he did not return. He is officially day-to-day the team announced.

Wembanyama and his Metropolitans 92 got the win in this rematch, 112-106.

Draymond Green not expected to miss any games, Warriors to handle discipline ‘internally’

2022 NBA Summer League - Golden State Warriors v New York Knicks
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Draymond Green is not expected to miss any games for punching teammate Jordan Poole during an altercation during practice, Warriors GM Bob Myers said Thursday.

That’s not to say he is escaping any punishment, it will just be handled internally, Myers said.

Green showed up at Chase Center and apologized to the team and then left, he did not practice with the Warriors, reports Monte Poole of NBC Sports Bay Area.

“Draymond apologized to the team this morning, Jordan was there in the room, I was there in room with the team, the coaches, the players and we heard that,” Myers said.

Whatever punishment the Warriors are handing down to Green, it will not include missing games, Myers said.

Coach Steve Kerr added, “I expect [Green] to return on Saturday and get back at it.” That implies a couple of days suspension, likely with a hefty fine.

Kerr was also quick to shoot down the rumors of Poole having an “attitude” around camp as he comes up on a massive contract extension. Stephen Curry echoed that, saying those reports are “absolute BS.”

The Warriors have seen their fair share of Draymond Green incidents over the years, and as a locker room and franchise they know how to move on from it. While this made headlines, the Warriors will shrug it off and move on.

Miami, Milwaukee have their eyes on Jae Crowder

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The Heat and Bucks don’t just have interest in the same player. They’re looking to replace the same player.

Two years ago, P.J. Tucker helped Milwaukee win their first championship in a half-century. Last season, he helped Miami lock up the top seed in the East and make the Conference Finals.

With Tucker in Philadelphia, both the Heat and Bucks are looking to fill the void with a different lockdown enforcer that can stretch the floor.

Jae Crowder and the Suns agreed that he won’t participate in practice as the team looks to accommodate his trade request. In a recent ESPN+ article, Zach Lowe made it clear that both Miami and Milwaukee are interested in pursuing a trade for Crowder.

“The Bucks have internal interest in Crowder as that Tucker replacement after getting into the recent Jerami Grant and Bojan Bogdanovic discussions, sources say. They will search all season for one more piece.

“The Heat have interest in Crowder too, sources say, but finding matching salary is tough until Dewayne Dedmon, Caleb Martin and Victor Oladipo become trade-eligible in the winter. Martin might start, and the Heat are optimistic Oladipo can play a huge role.”

Grant and Bogdanovic were traded to Portland and Detroit, respectively. The Heat may struggle to find a trade that works since Phoenix probably won’t want to take on Duncan Robinson’s contract. Dedmon, Martin and Oladipo will become trade eligible on January 15th.

Crowder has a history with the Heat, as he helped them make the NBA Finals in the bubble. He helped Phoenix make the NBA Finals two seasons ago and then helped them finish with the best record in the NBA last season.

LeBron says Wembanyama is an ‘alien’ and a ‘generational talent’

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There was a time when LeBron James was the “it” kid coming for the NBA — a freakish athlete like nobody in the league had seen. A player the size of Karl Malone with the quickness and skills of an elite point guard.

Now the “it” guy is Victor Wembanyama, the 7’4″ mold-breaking big out of France — and LeBron is impressed.

“Everybody’s been a unicorn over the last few years, well he’s more like an alien,” LeBron said after the Lakers’ preseason loss to the Suns in Las Vegas. “I’ve never seen, no one’s ever seen anyone as tall as he is, but it’s fluid and as graceful as on the floor…

“His ability to put the ball on the floor, shoot step-back jumpers on the post, step-back 3s, catch-and-shoot 3s, block shots. He’s for sure a generational talent. And hopefully he continues to stay healthy, that’s the most important for him personally, and as you could tell he loves the game. He was smiling a lot while playing the game last night. I think it was the two best players in the draft on the floor last night and they both did their thing.”

Wembanyama is projected to be the No.1 pick in the 2023 NBA Draft, just ahead of point guard Scoot Henerson, who scored 28 points with nine assists of his own leading his G-League Ignite to a win over Wembanyama’s Metropolitans 92. Wembanyama scored 37 points in the game, hit 7-of-11 shots from 3, had five blocks and a few other shots changed because of his length (7’11” wingspan) and the threat of his block.

Wembanyama and Henderson face off again tonight in a second game between the Ignite and Metropolitans 92 just outside Las Vegas in Henderson (9:30 p.m. ET on NBATV).

Wembanyama will play, with his agent telling ESPN there are no plans to shut the No.1 pick down to avoid injury and protect his draft status. “He’ll never agree to that. He wants to compete and get better,” Bouna Ndiaye said.

LeBron looked back on his time as the “it” player and said simply, “thank got there wasn’t social media” at the time. It’s a different world now, but game still recognizes game.

And LeBron recognizes it in Wembanyama.