Jordan Bell’s drunken championship-celebration journey

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J.R. Smith congratulated Nick Young as a kindred spirit in championship celebration.

Smith might have had the wrong Warrior.

Jordan Bell has been living it up.

He drank plenty of champagne after Golden State completed its sweep Friday:

He showed just how much champagne he drank during an interview:

He pledged to keep the party going during Tuesday’s victory parade – while, of course, drinking more champagne:

He ran out of Hennessy at the parade, but found a fan eager to share:

He turned up for another interview:

And, in a fitting end, he fiddled with an air conditioner on live television as he desperately tried to cool down:

What a ride!

Kobe Bryant’s advice to LeBron James: ‘Got to figure out way to win’

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Kobe Bryant has the Michael Jordan seal of approval because, for Kobe, it was all about the rings. That was his identity, that and the killer instinct. Kobe’s legions of fans love them the “count the ringzzzzz” argument, context be damned.

So when Bleacher Report’s Howard Beck asked Kobe about LeBron and his next step, Kobe pointed to LeBron needing to add to his jewelry collection.

“All I thought about as a kid personally was winning championships. That’s all I cared about. That’s how I valued Michael. That’s how I valued [Larry] Bird. That’s how I valued Magic [Johnson]. It was just winning championships. Now, everybody’s going to value things differently, which is fine. I’m just telling you how I value mine.

“If I’m Bron, you got to figure out a way to win. It’s not about narrative. You want to win championships, you just gotta figure it out.”

Well, that’s vague advice.

Which brings us to the “what more can LeBron do with this supporting cast?” portion of the discussion. Other former champions interviewed by Beck for his article cut LeBron some slack. If beating a juggernaut Golden State Warriors team requires big games from J.R. Smith and Rodney Hood, well, one man can only do so much.

Not in Kobe’s world.

“Phil (Jackson) used to say this thing to me a lot, when I was doing a lot on the court,” Bryant said. “He’d say, ‘You have to do less.’ And I’d say, ‘Well, my teammates got to step up more.’ Phil would say, ‘Well, it’s your responsibility to thrust the game upon them.'”

It’s one thing to thrust the game upon Shaq and Pau Gasol and Robert Horry and Derek Fisher and Rick Fox and peak Lamar Odom, and it’s another to thrust it upon Tristan Thompson and Larry Nance Jr.

Another thought here: Is Kobe advocating LeBron bolt Cleveland for a better supporting cast. Remember in the mid-2000s when the supporting cast around Kobe was a lot of Kwame Brown and Smush Parker — Kobe demanded a trade. The Lakers never followed through on that request, instead trading for Pau Gasol and getting the Lakers back into contention, but Kobe was not above moving on to get a ring.

What Kobe had that LeBron never did was ownership that could be trusted in the form of Jerry Buss. He knew how to run a professional organization, take the right gambles at the right time, and build a dynasty. Dan Gilbert… well, he knows how to use the comic sans font. Kobe has those ringzzzz as much because management put a winning team around him as anything he did. Nobody can win a title alone in the NBA.

Just watch LeBron the past few weeks to understand that.

(As an aside, if LeBron comes to the Lakers the fans there will never embrace him the way they did Kobe, but that’s a discussion for another day.)

Swept, sad and still starving for another title, what’s next for LeBron James?

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CLEVELAND – LeBron James sat in his locker, covered by more ice than clothing and his right hand – which he injured while punching a whiteboard following the Cavaliers’ devastating Game 1 loss – wrapped. He hunched his towel-covered head into his left hand. He leaned back and slumped in his seat, the towel still hiding his face, and sat that way for several minutes.

LeBron looked beat.

By the Warriors, by the burden he carried leading an underwhelming supporting cast to the NBA Finals, by the weight of his second Cleveland tenure possibly ending.

Will he use his player option to leave the Cavs this summer?

“I have no idea at this point,” LeBron said after Golden State swept Cleveland in the NBA Finals. “The one thing that I’ve always done is considered, obviously, my family. Understanding especially where my boys are at this point in their age. They were a lot younger the last time I made a decision like this four years ago. I’ve got a teenage boy, a pre-teen and a little girl that wasn’t around as well. So sitting down and considering everything, my family is a huge part of whatever I’ll decide to do in my career, and it will continue to be that. So, I don’t have an answer for you right now as far as that.”

A few days ago, LeBron spoke candidly about why he left the Cavaliers in 2010 – because the team wasn’t good enough. Tonight, he addressed why he returned in 2014.

“I came back because I felt like I had some unfinished business,” LeBron said.

Did leading Cleveland to its first championship in 2016 finish that business?

“That’s a trick question at the end of the day,” LeBron said, “and I’m not falling for that.

“It made me even more hungry to continue to try to win championships, and I still want to be in championship mode. I think I’ve shown this year why I will still continue to be in championship mode.”

The Cavaliers showed how they are not. They traded Kyrie Irving against LeBron’s wishes and whittled down their return for the star point guard to spare parts and the No. 8 pick – a valuable asset, but one that didn’t help the 2018 Cavs compete in these playoffs.

At times, LeBron’s weak supporting cast appeared to drive him mad. He vented at his teammates during a Game 4 timeout, and he melted down on the bench before Game 1’s overtime as he learned details of J.R. Smith‘s blunder. And, as we discovered, LeBron carried his frustration into the post-Game 1 locker room and tried to channel it through a whiteboard.

Gesturing while answering a question tonight, LeBron raised his right hand above the table and revealed a cast. The sound of cameras flickering overpowered the room.

“You guys like this brace, huh?” LeBron said, cracking a smile. “You guys like this cast, huh? You want me to sit it right here for you?

“Pretty much played the last three games with a broken hand.”

It hurts now, but LeBron has been through too much – 15 seasons, eight straight NBA Finals appearances and now six Finals losses (behind only Jerry West’s eight and Elgin Baylor’s seven all-time) – to totally sulk through this latest challenge.

LeBron knows precisely what that challenge is. It was down the hall covering itself in champagne while LeBron sat silently at his locker and contemplated.

Finally, LeBron emerged from the locker room and turned right down the hall. Unaware LeBron was headed toward the interview room rather than leaving, a security guard called from behind that LeBron and his group should go another way to avoid crowds. LeBron stopped to sort out the confusion. Turns out, he was going the best way to the interview room, and he kept going.

After his press conference, LeBron walked out of the interview room and made a pointed turn toward Bill Russell. LeBron leaned down to embrace the legend in his wheelchair.

Then, LeBron headed straight for the exit.

Cavaliers have no answer for Kevin Durant or Warriors, who win to go up 3-0

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Cleveland has no answer for Kevin Durant.

Neither do 28 other teams, but the Cavaliers’ problems with him get exposed on the biggest of NBA stages. So do their other defensive issues, such as the inability to switch cleanly off the ball.

For the second straight year in the NBA Finals, the Cavaliers came out with force in Game 3 needing a win to avoid going down 0-3, only to have inconsistent defense and Kevin Durant do them in.

And Durant worked them with cruel efficiency.

Durant had 43 points on 15-of-23 shooting, 6-of-9 from three, including the above dagger, plus 13 rebounds and seven assists to lead the Warriors to a 110-102 win. The victory has the Warriors up 3-0 in the series, a deficit no team has ever come back from in the NBA Finals. Game 4 is Friday night in Cleveland.

“Some of those shots, I don’t think anybody in the world but him can hit them,” Warriors coach Steve Kerr said of Durant.

KD wasn’t the Cavaliers’ only problem. Maybe not even their worst one.

For the second straight game the Warriors off-ball movement — such as their split screens, or the Warriors just slipping a screen — confused a Cavaliers defense that is trying to switch everything but is not defensively disciplined enough to do it. The result was a lay-up line for the Warriors — they had 37 shots at the rim in the game. Many of those uncontested. Whenever the Warriors needed a bucket, it seemed they could get one at the rim (or just throw the ball to KD).

Just got to be better,” Cavaliers coach Tyronn Lue said tersely when asked about the defensive issues. 

Those shots at the rim made up for the fact that Stephen Curry and Klay Thompson were off their game, combining to shoot 7-of-27 overall and 3-of-15 from three.

If the Cavaliers can’t beat the Warriors on a night their shooters are this off… it’s a bad sign. But there are a lot of bad signs in Cleveland now.

The Cavaliers wasted another strong game from LeBron James, who racked up his 10th NBA Finals triple-double — 33 points, 11 assists, and 10 rebounds. Every other active player combined have three. There are just 27 of them total outside of LeBron.

LeBron was brilliant early in the game, being aggressive and attacking downhill, getting into the lane and not settling for threes. LeBron’s first 12 shots all the paint. He eventually took six threes, hitting just one, but he was carrying this team. He got a little help this time with Kevin Love scoring 20 and knocking down threes.

Tyronn Lue finally gave Rodney Hood a chance — the mid-season acquisition’s chemistry with LeBron has been iffy, but in a series where the Cavs need shot creation he is their second best at that. He rewarded Lue with 15 points and a strong game.

But it wasn’t enough in a game where the Cavaliers just have to try to outscore the Warriors because they can’t get stops.

Game 3 had the start the Cavaliers dreamed of — Love hits a three, J.R. Smith hits a three, more importantly the Cavaliers corralled three offensive rebounds and forced three Warriors turnovers. It led to 16-to-4 early run for Cavaliers.

But the Warriors are just never that easy to put away. Golden State started 0-of-6 from three, but one by Klay Thompson and one by Durant sparked run that eventually tied the game late in the first quarter.

Durant was making his “don’t forget about me for Finals MVP” push in the first half. He kept the Warriors close with his shooting (well, that and the off-ball movement that continues to lead to lay-up after lay-up for the Warriors).

Durant had 24 first-half points on 7-of-10 shooting, the three other Warriors All-Stars shot 4-of-18 and that included Curry and Thompson shooting 1-of-9 from three. The Warriors were down just six at the half.

Then came the expected third quarter Warriors run — up-tempo play, some threes raining down, the layup line continued, and the Warriors had an 11-point third quarter lead at one point that shrunk to eight by the end of the quarter, but that was enough to have the Warriors up 83-81.

LeBron and the Cavaliers made their push in the fourth quarter, but the Warriors scored on their final six possessions of the game and it summed up the night: Curry wide-open lay-up, Curry open three, Andre Iguodala dunk, Durant three, Draymond Green dunk, and then eventually a couple of Curry free throws.

The Cavaliers don’t have answers for Durant or the Warriors motion, and this series is now all but over.

LeBron James: ‘I was kind of a little bit still in shock’ as JR Smith dribbled out clock

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CLEVELAND – LeBron James put himself back in the moment of Game 1 of the NBA Finals, J.R. Smith boneheadedly dribbling out the clock with the Cavaliers and Warriors tied at the end of regulation. LeBron motioned Smith toward the basket then desperately tried to call a timeout before the fourth quarter ended.

“I don’t know if I had enough time because I was kind of a little bit still in shock of what was going on at that point in time,” LeBron said.

He didn’t. Time expired without the timeout granted, and LeBron went to the bench.

A viral video later emerged showing what happened next. LeBron and Smith sat in a tense silence. When Cleveland coach Tyronn Lue came over, LeBron asked whether the Cavs still had a timeout. Lue informed him they did, and a pained look came over LeBron’s face. LeBron leaned back in exasperation, leaned forward to bury his head in a towel, sat back and crossed his arms bitterly, clenched his lips and look around, yelled something, put his hand in to cap a huddle happening next to him then took the floor for overtime.

“Damn cameras,” LeBron said when told today of the video’s popularity.

LeBron explained he was unsure whether the Cavaliers had any timeous remaining and feared a Chris Webber situation, calling a timeout with none left. If LeBron had, the Warriors would have gotten a technical free throw and a chance to win in regulation.

But LeBron certainly didn’t look relieved to learn he didn’t nearly make a huge blunder. What had him so upset?

“It was just knowing that we had an opportunity to have another possession, even with the offensive rebound,” LeBron said. “It was just – it was just a heartbreaking loss.”

Of course, the loss hadn’t been determined yet. There were still five more minutes to play.

But Cleveland played as if already defeated and lost by 10, sparking questions of whether LeBron should have done more to rally his teammates before overtime.

“We’re in the NBA Finals. I mean, how much more picking up of teammates do you want me to do?” LeBron said. “I’m in the NBA Finals, looking for a championship.”

Could Smith have used a pick-me-up from the Cavs’ leader? Probably. It’s easy to say Smith should have locked in on his own, but encouragement from LeBron would have been powerful. Yet, LeBron also needed to ready himself in an emotional moment.

This is LeBron’s burden. He’s absolutely carrying the Cavaliers, and it’s still not enough.

At least he’s handling the criticism for isolating himself before overtime of Game 1 in stride.

“Me? Me being criticized? Nooo,” LeBron said. “You’re saying I got criticized for something, right? I don’t believe that. Not me.”

LeBron said that with a smile – quite a different look from the most memorable moment of the Finals so far.