Utah state rep introduces bill ‘honoring Donovan Mitchell over Shaquille O’Neal’

Jazz star Donovan Mitchell
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Shaquille O’Neal told Donovan Mitchell in an interview, “You don’t have what it takes to get to that next level.”

That struck a nerve.

Not on camera with Mitchell, who replied, “Aight. That’s it.” The Jazz guard said a couple years ago he was uncomfortable no longer being the underdog, and his stature has only risen since. Shaq’s comment provided the fuel Mitchell seeks.

But plenty of people are eager to defend Mitchell – especially in Utah.

Utah state Rep. Kera Birkeland even filed a resolution “honoring Donovan Mitchell over Shaquille O’Neal.” The bill:

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HOUSE RESOLUTION HONORING DONOVAN MITCHELL

2    

OVER SHAQUILLE O’NEAL

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2021 GENERAL SESSION

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STATE OF UTAH

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Chief Sponsor: Kera Birkeland

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7     LONG TITLE

8     General Description:

9          This resolution honors Utah Jazz All-Star Donovan Mitchell.

10     Highlighted Provisions:

11          This resolution:

12          ▸     recognizes the exemplary service of Donovan Mitchell to the Utah Jazz and the

13     Utah community; and

14          ▸     suggests consideration of making the “Spida” the official state arachnid.

15     Special Clauses:

16          None

17


18     Be it resolved by the House of Representatives of the state of Utah:

19          WHEREAS, the Utah Jazz are a beloved part of the Utah community and the National

20     Basketball Assocation (NBA);

21          WHEREAS, in Utah, we support our players when they face awkward abuse during

22     post-game interviews disguised as pep talks;

23          WHEREAS, the claim by Shaquille O’Neal (Shaq) on January 21, 2021, that Utah Jazz

24     All-Star Donovan Mitchell Jr. (Donovan) doesn’t have what it takes to get to the next level is

25     even less accurate than his 50.4% playoff free-throw percentage (slightly worse than Donovan’s

26     88.1%);

27          WHEREAS, the Jazz eliminated Shaq and the Los Angeles Lakers from the playoffs in


28     1997 (4-1) and 1998 (4-0);

29          WHEREAS, we are not talking about 2000, 2001, 2002, or 2006 right now, the years in

30     which Kobe Bryant’s Los Angeles Lakers and Dwayne Wade’s Miami Heat won championships

31     for Shaq;

32          WHEREAS, Kazaam has a 5% rating on rotten tomatoes;

33          WHEREAS, Shaq under-develops his hot takes almost as well as his 1990’s “Shaq Fu”

34     video game;

35          WHEREAS, Shaq correctly described Donovan as an elite scorer, given that in just his

36     third NBA season during the 2020 playoffs, Donovan became the third player in NBA history

37     to have at least two 50-point games in a single playoff series (joining Michael Jordan in his

38     fourth season and Allen Iverson in his third season);

39          WHEREAS, on the same night that Shaq disparaged Donovan, Donovan made his

40     600th three-pointer earlier in his career than any other player in the history of the NBA;

41          WHEREAS, as of January 26, 2020, Donovan has drained 1995 field goals, 604

42     3-pointers, and 894 free-throws;

43          WHEREAS, Donovan Mitchell is more than just a scorer, having grabbed 982

44     rebounds, swatted 79 blocks, and picked 306 steals for the Jazz, as of January 26, 2020;

45          WHEREAS, it is hard to pull down rebounds when All-Star Rudy Gobert is on your

46     team, grabbing more rebounds than anyone else in the league as a two-time defensive player of

47     the year (more than Shaq’s zero), one-time league leader in blocks (more than Shaq’s zero), and

48     four-time All-Defensive 1st Teamer (more than Shaq’s zero);

49          WHEREAS, although Shaq’s “skill” was being bigger than everyone else, Donovan has

50     progressively succeeded through talent, dedication, and constant effort;

51          WHEREAS, the following immortal words, once spoken by Bill Walton, apply equally

52     to Donovan, “He is a champion of basketball and of the human spirit as well”;

53          WHEREAS, Donovan has provided backpacks, school supplies, and most importantly,

54     his time, to Utah students;

55          WHEREAS, Donovan launched the SPIDACARES, a foundation to empower women

56     following the example set by his mother and sister; and

57          WHEREAS, Donovan has consistently demonstrated his decency by freely and

58     abundantly giving to local communities and charities while volunteering his time to help his


59     fellow Utahns:

60          NOW, THEREFORE, BE IT RESOLVED that the House of Representatives of the

61     State of Utah recognizes the exemplary service of Donovan Mitchell Jr. to the Utah Jazz and to

62     the people of the great state of Utah.

63          BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED that the House of Representatives consider making the

64     “Spida” the official state arachnid.

65          BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED “Aight. That’s it.”

This is pretty funny – especially the last line. It’s just well-done enough that I’m indulging Birkeland’s bid for attention.

But I’d still prefer politicians focus on things that actually matter, especially in a time of crisis.

Suns, Crowder agree he will sit out training camp while they seek a trade

Jae Crowder does salsa dance in Suns-Lakers Game 6
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Jae Crowder wants out of Phoenix and the Suns have been looking for a trade to accommodate that.

It hasn’t come together, so the Suns and Crowder agreed he should sit out training camp while they find one (this team does not need another distraction in camp).

We knew this was coming because Crowder himself announced it a couple of days ago. While he deleted the Tweet, nothing ever completely disappears online.

Two quick thoughts on this news.

First, it means Cameron Johnson will start at the four, something that was likely anyway as the Suns look to add shooting to help space the floor.

Second, this news does not help the Suns’ leverage in getting a trade. It’s understandable that Crowder didn’t want to be in camp and that the Suns didn’t want the distraction, but now everyone knows the pressure on the Suns to get a deal done and they will lowball their offer.

There are a few potential landing spots out there. Crowder hinted online he would welcome a return to Miami, and the Heat need help at the four after P.J. Tucker left for Philly. The Heat would base a trade around Duncan Robinson, but to make the salaries match the Suns would have to throw in another player — Dario Saric, Landry Shamet, Cameron Payne, Torey Craig or after Jan. 15  — and that seems unlikely.

Atlanta, Dallas, Chicago, Boston (but it’s tough to make the salaries match up), and even a team like Minnesota could work. The challenge is the Suns are a win-now team and will want a player who can help them this season and all those teams are in the same space. Right now there may not be an offer available. As camps open and teams start to understand what they do and don’t have, a deal could come together.

Crowder will be home waiting for that to happen, not with the Suns team.

Giannis Antetokounmpo says Stephen Curry is the best player in the world

WhatsApp's "Naija Odyssey" New York Premiere
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Giannis Antetokounmpo is at the top of pretty much every “best player in the world” list right now.

Except his own.

For Antetokounmpo, the best player in the world is the one that leads his team to the title, so today, it is Stephen Curry (hat tip to Lance Allen of NBC Milwaukee).

It’s easy to see where Antetokounmpo is coming from, but basketball is a team game. The best player may not be on the best team, despite his skill set, and that team may not win. Curry was spectacular in leading the Warriors to their fourth banner since he arrived, he’s near the top of the best in the world list, but it’s not all about winning.

The takeaway from what Antetokounmpo said is how much he wants to win — he wants a second ring.

The Bucks enter the season as one of the favorites to win that ring, but it’s going to take a lot of things going right for that to happen.

Including Antetokounmpo showing he is the best player in the world.

 

Is Matisse Thybulle ready for a big step forward with 76ers?

Pregame of Philadelphia 76ers vs Miami Heat
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Matisse Thybulle brings a valuable NBA skill to the table — he is an elite perimeter defender. Two-time All-Defensive Team in three years in the league.

But when the 76ers got up against Miami in the playoffs, Thybulle’s role shrank dramatically. While Doc Rivers needed his defense, Thybulle’s lack of an offensive game became a problem — the Heat largely ignored him and helped off him, allowing Miami to muck up the Philly offense (he was limited in the Toronto series because he was not vaccinated and could not play in road games). The 76ers tried to solve that problem this offseason by bringing in DeAnthony Melton, Danuel House and P.J. Tucker — solid role-playing defenders who can contribute on offense, too.

Thybulle wants to be part of the solution, too, and told Keith Pompey of the Philadelphia Inquirer he spent the summer focused on his offensive game.

“I’m really proud of what I did,” Thybulle said of his offseason. “I’ve worked harder than I’ve worked. And I had a meeting with [Sixers coach Doc Rivers] early this week and was telling him I feel more bought in than I’ve been before.”

No doubt Thybulle put in the work, we will find out soon if it paid off — and if that will get Thybulle paid.

Thybulle is entering a contract year — the 76ers can extend him up until Oct. 18, after which he would become a restricted free agent next summer. Thybulle said his goal is to remain in Philadelphia (and he’d like an extension).

“At this point, I would always want to stay in Philly,” he said. “And if it’s up to me, that’s always going to be my choice.

“But considering that I’ve realized the reality of how far out of my control it is, if I do get traded or something does end up happening, I can look at myself in the mirror at the end of the day.”

With a win-now Sixers team, Daryl Morey may be in a wait-and-see place with Thybulle, letting the market set his price next offseason. If he signs now, it will likely be on a team-friendly deal (but maybe one that still works for the 25-year-old).

If Thybulle gets on the court this season and shows an improved offensive game, one where he can make teams pay for helping off him, his price goes up and there may be multiple teams bidding for his services next summer. And Doc Rivers would be happy in the short term.

It’s up to Thybulle to prove it now.

 

Markelle Fultz will miss start of training camp, at least, with broken toe

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The basketball gods continue to turn their backs on Markelle Fultz.

A torn ACL had limited him to 26 games over the past two seasons, but he was healthy and ramping up to a larger role this season with a young and interesting Magic team. Then came the news he fractured his left big toe during a training session. As a result, he will be out for at least the start of training camp, the team announced. From the official announcement:

“He has been placed in a walking boot and his return to play will depend on how he responds to rehabilitation and treatment. Fultz suffered the injury during a preseason workout prior to returning to Orlando and imaging confirmed the fracture.

He will not need surgery, according to the team.

Fultz was set to split point guard duties with Cole Anthony, this injury means RJ Hampton could see more run at the point for now. Fultz should be able to return either during the end of the preseason or early in the season.

Fultz was the No.1 pick in the 2017 NBA Draft but never found his footing with the 76ers (in part due to injury). However, since getting out of that spotlight and allowed to develop in Orlando he’s been a solid rotation point guard when healthy. Last season in 18 games he averaged 10.8 points and 5.5 assists a game, and while he’s still not an efficient shooter he can run a team.

How Anthony and, eventually, Fultz will work off the ball as rookie Paolo Banchero gets the opportunity to create more offense will be just one of the interesting things to watch with this Magic team this year. We’ll have to wait a little while to see Fultz.