Three things to know: Kyrie Irving pushing hard for Kobe Bryant NBA logo

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The NBA season is in full swing, and we will be here each weekday with the NBC Sports daily roundup Three Things to Know — everything you might have missed in the Association, every key moment from the night before in one place.

1) Kyrie Irving pushing hard for Kobe Bryant NBA logo

The Jerry West inspired NBA logo is iconic. It’s instantly recognizable — both here in the United States and internationally. Maybe just as important to the NBA, West never asked for a penny in compensation (he doesn’t even like it and would prefer the league change it).

Kyrie Irving has an idea for what that change would look like.

He backed that stance after the Nets blew out the Magic Thursday night, as Malika Andrews reported at ESPN.

“Kobe Bryant. Logo. Yes. Needs to happen. I don’t care what anyone says…

“I want that to be something in history that is changed forever, that our generation was part of that change. And if that means that I have to lead that forward and get the conversation going, then great.”

“I think he deserves it,” Irving said. “I think his family deserves it. I think we deserve it as seeing greatness personified as Mamba. And anyone that’s coming into the league should know that that’s the example that was set.”

This idea came up a year ago in the wake of Bryant’s tragic death, but the traction didn’t last. Irving is working to revive it.

Successful major international business brands — and make no mistake, that is what the NBA is first and foremost, a business — are hesitant to change their logos. The NBA will be no different. It feels it has its “golden arches” or Apple logo — one look and you instantly recognize the NBA logo. It also doesn’t cost the league a cent. The NBA has something it feels works.

There may be a change, but it’s going to take a huge groundswell and a long time to push change on a league that likes to bask in its traditions — it still has divisions, even if they don’t matter in the final standings. Change will be slow. But not impossible.

2) Denver loses in the most painful way possible

“What are you doing?”

That cry rang out across Denver as fans watched the final seconds of their team’s latest loss — this one felt like a punch to the gut.

The Nuggets were down by two against the Wizards, 112-110, in the final :30 seconds. However, Denver got a stop, then Nikola Jokic made the smart play tipping the ball out to Jamal Murray, who led a 3-1 break with five seconds remaining. Denver just needed a lay-up to send the game to overtime.

Instead, this happened.

To his credit, Murray owned his mistake.

Murray had 34 points and shot 6-of-11 from three in the game. None of that is what we will remember.

Bradley Beal dropped 33 for Washington, which has won 6-of-7 and remains in the chase for a play-in game spot. Rui Hachimura added 20 points, and Russell Westbrook had a 16-10-10 triple-double.

3) Ja Morant is special, and if you don’t play defense in front of him he’s amazing

Get Paul George a membership to the Ja Morant fan club.

“He’s just fun to watch,” George said after Morant led Memphis to a 122-94 rout of the Clippers. “There’s no other explanation. He’s so athletic, gifted, agile. I could compare him to like Derrick Rose with his explosiveness & ability to shift his body & move in the air. He just makes highlight plays after highlight plays.”

High praise. Morant looks especially good against the matador defense the Clippers played all night — Memphis had 72 points in the paint. Through his mask, you could see how angry Clippers coach Tyronn Lue was postgame.

“They got downhill on our pick and rolls all night,” Lue said. “We tried to blitz, we tried to zone. They just constantly got into the paint — 72 points in the paint, that’s gotta be a damn-near record…

“We gotta [play better defense] and the guys that don’t do it, we’re gonna get somebody in that’s gonna do it.”

The Clippers are finally healthy and rolling out their preferred lineups but have gone 1-2 with that group (to be fair, one loss was to an outstanding Brooklyn team). Lue knows his team needs to build chemistry and grow in a way last season’s team did not. Lue is going to push them.

Memphis looked rested and it showed. They had a balanced attack, and Tyus Jones dropped 20 off the bench.

The teams play again tonight in Memphis, a back-to-back. We’ll see how the Clippers come out.

Donovan says Lonzo Ball’s recovery has ‘been really slow’

Milwaukee Bucks v Chicago Bulls
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Watching the finger-pointing and heated moments between Bulls’ defenders on Wednesday night as Devin Booker carved them up to the tune of 51 points, one thought was how much they miss Lonzo Ball‘s defense at the point of attack.

Ball had a second surgery on his knee back in September and the team said he would be out at “least a few months.” It’s coming up on a few months, so Donovan gave an update on Ball and his recovery, and the news was not good for Bulls’ fans. Via Rob Schaefer at NBC Sports Chicago:

“It’s been really slow,” Donovan said when asked about Ball’s rehab. “I’m just being honest.”

Donovan added Ball has not necessarily suffered a setback. The Bulls knew this would be an arduous process. But he also noted that Ball is “not even close” to being cleared for contact or on-court work.

Ball had his first knee surgery in January and the expectation was he would be back and 100% by the playoffs. However, Ball’s knee didn’t respond well, and he was eventually ruled out for the season. Things didn’t improve over the summer, which led to the second surgery. How much do they miss him? The Bulls were 22-13 with him last season, and he averaged 13.1 points, 5.4 rebounds, and 5.1 assists, a game. However, it was his defense that was most crucial.

There is no timeline for his return. Which is not good news for Chicago.

PBT Podcast: Timberwolves without KAT, get Luka some help

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Minnesota has stumbled out of the gate this season, and now they will be without Karl-Anthony Towns for around a month with a calf strain. Just how much trouble are the Timberwolves in?

Corey Robinson from NBC Sports and myself discuss that and then get into Giannis Antetokounmpo‘s Team USA vs. Team World matchup — does Evan Fournier get the world team in trouble? Who guards whom?

From there, it’s time for Corey’s Jukebox and some New Orleans jazz for Zion Williamson. Some Mavericks’ talk follows that — Dallas has put a big load on the shoulders of Luka Doncic, and while he’s playing like an MVP it’s a long-term concern for the Mavericks and their fans.

You can always watch the video of some of the podcast above, or listen to the entire podcast below, listen and subscribe via iTunes at ApplePodcasts.com/PBTonNBC, subscribe via the fantastic Stitcher app, check us out on Google Play, or anywhere else you get your podcasts.

We want your questions for future podcasts, and your comments, so please feel free to email us at PBTpodcast@gmail.com.

LeBron calls out reporters for asking him about Kyrie Irving but not Jerry Jones

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Within days of Kyrie Irving being suspended by the Nets in the wake of a Tweet promoting an antisemitic film (and his initial refusal to apologize for it), Irving’s former teammate LeBron James was asked about it. He had to deal with the controversy, saying, “I don’t condone any hate to any kind. To any race.”

At the end of his press conference Wednesday night after the Lakers beat the Trail Blazers, LeBron scolded the assembled press for not asking him about the 1957 photo that surfaced of Dallas Cowboys owner Jerry Jones outside North Little Rock High School while white students protested the integration of the school when they had been quick to ask about Irving.

“When I watched Kyrie talk, and he says, `I know who I am, but I want to keep the same energy when we’re talking about my people and the things they’ve been through,’ and that Jerry Jones photo is one of those moments that our people, Black people, have been through in America. And I feel like as a Black man, as a Black athlete, someone with power and with a platform, when we do something wrong or something that people don’t agree with, it’s on every single tabloid, every single news coverage. It’s on the bottom ticker. It’s asked about every single day.

“But it seems like to me that the whole Jerry Jones situation, the photo, and I know it was years and years ago, and we all make mistakes, I get it. It seems like it’s just been buried under, like, `Oh, it happened. OK. We just move on.’ And I was just kind of disappointed that I haven’t received that question from you guys.”

Irving and LeBron were teammates in Cleveland and won a ring together, there was a direct connection (plus Irving had been linked to the Lakers in trade rumors over the summer).

However, there was a connection between LeBron and the Cowboys as well. LeBron was for many years a very public Cowboys fan (despite growing up in Browns territory). It came up as recently as October, when LeBron was on Instagram Live promoting his HBO show with Maverick Carter “The Shop” and he said he had stopped rooting for the Cowboys in the wake of Colin Kaepernick’s peaceful protests, “There’s just a lot of things that were going on when guys were kneeling. Guys were having freedom of speech and wanting to do it in a very peaceful manner…. The organization was like, ‘If you do that around here, then you will never play for this franchise again.’ I just didn’t think that was appropriate.”

When asked about the photo, Jones said he was a curious 14-year-old who was watching and didn’t understand the magnitude of the moment or situation.

Watch Russell Westbrook drain two buzzer-beaters against Blazers

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The Portland Trail Blazers had to know it was not their night when Russell Westbrook knocked down a buzzer-beating step-back 3-pointer just before the half.

Westbrook wasn’t done, he had one more buzzer-beater in him at the end of the third.

Westbrook wasn’t the only guy in the building draining half-courters — for the second-straight game a Laker fan knocked down a half-court shot, this time to win $25,000.

It was a good night all around for the Lakers and their fans at home against the shorthanded Trail Blazers. They got 31 points from LeBron James, plus 27 points and 12 boards from Anthony Davis. Austin Reaves added in 22, and the Lakers took control in the third and cruised in for a needed win.