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LeBron James with two hand dunk, then double-clutch dunk vs. Mavs (VIDEOS)

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LeBron James had 13 first half points against the Mavericks, and he got a handful of them by going to the rim and throwing it down hard.

Above, there is the two-hand slam from midway through the first quarter.

Just about a minute after that, LeBron got up and threw down the double-pump finish off the sweet feed from Kyrie Irving.

 

Lakers’ Luol Deng posts letter: “I am a proud refugee”

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Luol Deng was born in Wow, a city in what is now South Sudan. It was then, as it is now, a war-ravaged nation with a majority Muslim population. Deng left there at the age of five and now has dual citizenship with England and the Sudan, plus he has lived and worked in the United States for many years.

Sudan is one of the countries listed in Donald Trump’s executive order that suspended entry to the United States for 90 days for people from certain nations with mostly Muslim populations. The NBA had concerns and reached out to the State Department about what might happen to him or the Bucks Thon Maker (also of the Sudan) should they leave the country then try to re-enter.

Monday, Deng posted this letter on Twitter.

Deng has support, the NBA family — a global family — has universally condemned Trump’s travel ban: Steve Kerr, Gregg Popovich, Stan Van Gundy, Raptors president Masai Ujiri, Kyle Lowry, Rondae Hollis-Jefferson, Jeremy Lin, Enes Kanter, Kenneth Faried, Stanley Johnson, and former players such as Steve Nash have all come out against the ban.

Kings’ DeMarcus Cousins will not be arrested, prosecuted for New York night club incident

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In the not too distant future, Kings’ wing Matt Barnes is expected to turn himself in and face charges for a December nightclub incident in the Chelsea area of New York.

DeMarcus Cousins was at that nightclub at the same time, but he will not be charged in the incident, reports Marc Stein of ESPN.

Sources told ESPN.com that Cousins has been “cleared of all wrongdoing’ by authorities after a Dec. 5 altercation at a Manhattan club that resulted in teammate Matt Barnes facing misdemeanor assault charges.

The players’ lawyer, Alex Spiro, confirmed to ESPN on Monday that Cousins has been cleared but declined further comment.

Cousins is not completely past the incident, both he and Barnes have already been sued in civil court over the altercation. One of the plaintiffs in the case alleges Cousins punched him, something Cousins’ people have denied.

There were reports more than a month ago out of New York that police in the city were close to arresting Sacramento’s Barnes for what happened during the Dec. 4 altercation at a Chelsea club where he and Cousins had gone. Barnes’ representative claimed any actions by his client were in self-defense. However, video of the incident reportedly shows Barnes as the aggressor and choking a woman, it was the argument between Barnes and this woman that started a bigger fight in the club, according to police reports.

Report: Orlando “picking up” efforts to move Serge Ibaka before trade deadline

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The Orlando Magic are shopping center Nikola Vucevic around before the trade deadline, seeing what they can get for a center with a solid offensive game, but not a guy part of Frank Vogel’s vision of the future.

However, he’s not the only Orlando big man available.

Serge Ibaka is also being shopped, reports Sean Deveney of The Sporting News. Considering Ibaka is a free agent to be on a struggling team that likely will have trouble re-signing him next summer, Orlando needs to try to get something for him.

League sources told Sporting News that the Magic have picked up their attempts to move Ibaka ahead of next month’s trade deadline, eager to ensure that they come away with some return for a player who does not figure to be in Orlando long. Ibaka will be a free agent this summer. There is no chance of a Bismack Biyombo trade, not after the Magic paid him $70 million for four years this offseason….

Ibaka, 27, has been productive, with 14.9 points, 6.8 rebounds and 48.6 percent shooting from the field (38.3 percent from the 3-point arc), but he has not had the level of impact on the team’s defense the Magic had hoped. Ultimately, the team will have to shift third-year forward Aaron Gordon from small forward to power forward, Ibaka’s current spot.

Because Ibaka is a rental, the Magic are not going to get much in return. Teams that want him — and that’s not nearly as high a number as it was a couple of seasons ago — aren’t going to surrender quality assets to get a player they can just try to sign this summer (and would need to re-sign if they trade for him).

“They’re asking too much,” one front office executive said. “(The Magic) would probably like to make a few moves there, but Ibaka is the one they’re really pushing because he is going to leave. But they have had too high a price. They want a young player and a pick, two young players — you know, a package that can get them back some assets. They’re not going to get that. Not for three, maybe four months of Serge Ibaka.”

By the way, your first thought upon hearing this trade rumor should have been “didn’t Orlando give up Victor Oladipo and a lottery pick that became Domantas Sabonis to get Ibaka?” Yes. At the time we said that meant they had to be committed to re-signing Ibaka, but now the team has understood that well may not happen. And so they are scrambling.

Orlando management has misjudged how their players would fit — they have talented guys, but not ones that mesh together — and most of where the team stands right now, well out of the playoffs in the East, falls on front office and the roster construction. Errors such as Ibaka, and stocking the frontcourt so Aaron Gordon could play the three, when he had more success as a four last season.

While Gordon has shown flashes at the three and defended well there, he’ll admit it’s been a rough learning curve. In an ideal world he’s a four that can play a little three depending on the matchups (but the Magic need better perimeter defenders before they let Gordon defend fours regularly).

 

Stephen Jackson admits he smoked marijuana before a few games, played high

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During the long grind of the season, the NBA is about recovery. It’s why getting players enough sleep — changing travel schedules around, canceling shootarounds, etc. — has increasingly become a focus of NBA teams. Sleep is the best thing for recovery.

Would marijuana use help with that? Would it be less toxic to players’ systems than some of the pain killers they take now? I’m not a doctor, I’m not about to play one on the Internet, but it’s an interesting discussion.

Former NBA star Stephen Jackson said he thought it was helpful while joining Michael Rapaport’s podcast “I AM RAPAPORT” where Jackson also said Don Nelson was cool with the players smoking off the court, and sure he did play high a few times. (Hat tip to CBSSports.com’s James Herbert for the transcription.)

“Listen, man, one thing about basketball, it’s no PEDs, no steroids, it’s nothing like that,” Jackson said. “From my experience in the league, players that I’ve been around, guys don’t even really drink — some guys do drink, some guys don’t smoke. I think it’s a higher percentage of guys that smoke than drink. I know coming in, especially in my time, everybody smoked. After games, when I came into the league, there was only one drug test. And that was in the beginning of the season, in training camp. You knew when it was coming. You could smoke the rest of the season. That was the good days.

“A lot of guys do it because that’s the best way to relax,” he continued. “You take so much stuff to get up for the games, and guys don’t like taking all those pills and stuff to heal. Go home, smoke your blunt, man. You’ll sleep good….

“I can’t speak for nobody else,” Jackson said. “Me personally, I’ve done a lot of s— before games sometimes and still was out there to go out there and be productive. I just gotta be real, you know, it’s been a couple games where I smoked before games and had great games. It’s been some games where I smoked before the game and was on the bench after three minutes, sitting on the sideline, saying, ‘Please calm down, this high has to calm down.’ I done shot three shots that went over the backboard.”

Jackson said Don Nelson used to talk openly with the players about marijuana use. I doubt he had those conversations with Gregg Popovich.

And Jackson tells a good story.

You’re living in a bubble if you don’t think a few players in every professional sport on the planet play high sometimes, as well as get high off the court/field/track. That doesn’t make it common anywhere. If you think it happens more in the NBA than the NFL or top European soccer leagues, that speaks more to your perceptions and biases about NBA players than it does reality.

However, as marijuana continues its march to being legal in the United States — it will be, despite what some in power now may want to see, look at the age breakdowns of who supports and opposes it becoming legal — it is something all sports leagues are going to have to deal with. It’s never going to be okay with the leagues to have players take the field high, that’s an injury liability, but as attitudes toward off-court use change leagues will need to change.