By Hook or By Crook, Kawhi Leonard Gave the Lakers Exactly What They Deserved in Spurning Them for the Clippers
I don’t think Kawhi Leonard’s intention was to do anything other than put himself in the best possible position to win both now and later as the number one option for a team located in his beloved Southern California. He clearly accomplished just that in proving that robots are, indeed, en route to outsmarting and exterminating all of us by quietly forcing the hand of two separate franchises, while leaving two others lying in the lurch, to make an 11th hour trade that involved a record-setting return. At the end of the day, it's possible that the biggest reason the Lakers thought they had a real chance was because they convinced themselves they had a real chance, as the insertion of an exceedingly silent, ball-dominant assassin next to Anthony Davis in the LeBron James' media circus never made any sense whatsoever.
That, however, doesn't make the collateral damage caused by his decision, with that being the complete compromising of the Lakers' superiority complex, any less sweet. I have a hard time believing that Kawhi Leonard had sticking it to Bron on the brain when he was playing hard-to-get with Jeanie Buss while going door-to-door around the NBA in trying to recruit a second star player to the Clippers...
However, if one were to plot out a maniacally meticulous plan of attack on the insufferable entitlement of an organization that couldn't be bothered to show a baseline level of competence in expecting a third transcendent talent to just fall in their lap? Well, I'm not sure they could craft a better backstabbing than the one that Kawhi Leonard just pulled off in leading on the Lakers for nothing more than leverage in making the Clippers more competitive.
Uniting two stars who, in consecutive years, more or less told LeBron & Co. to piss in the wind despite both having an obvious affinity for Los Angeles, and doing so in a form and fashion that brought the most formidable of foe in-house? With the way his free agency played out, eventually leaving Rob Pelinka to pick from the scrap heap of what was left over of the mid-tier free agents he missed out on by chasing the dragon that is star-power (which he did a decent job of, in all fairness), you'd think Kawhi Leonard was seeking vengeance after being Don King'd by Klutch Sports. I'm not sure his plan was as devious as it was determined, but reminding the Lakers of their most recent free agency failures by going above and beyond to have them call home the same building in a less prestigious uniform is how you pour gasoline on a dumpster fire in showing a legendary organization the error of its current leadership.
Kawhi Leonard sent the Lakers their reality check by choosing to both join and actively reinforce the deeper, more complete roster in Los Angeles while putting his trust in the city's most accomplished coach and executive. Whether they deposit said "check" or refuse to withdraw their head from their ass in continuing to live in LaLa Land remains to be seen. Regardless, they are currently the second-most flexible franchise in their own arena due to dumbass decision-making that couldn't possibly have done less to earn the services of the most deadly three-headed monster in NBA history.
It never made any sense for Kawhi to subject himself to a high-profile power struggle for possessions. The Lakers being unable to see that while going against the wishes of the introverted player they had targeted in aimlessly leaking baseless bullshit like they lost control of their organizational bladder tells you pretty much everything you need to know. They are a franchise that's been made spoiled by LeBron and his team choosing to make them relevant in prioritizing local interests outside basketball. They are a franchise that can't seem to wrap their head around AD only finding his way into purple and gold because they got desperate in giving up the entirety of their future for a 7-foot pawn on Rich Paul's chess board. Lastly, they are a franchise that was dead ass wrong in thinking they had some sort of right to a player who needs not to be part of such a shameless sideshow to win championships in Los Angeles. Long story short, the Lakers got what they deserved in the Kawhi sweepstakes...which was absolutely fucking nothing.
Look, if Kyrie Irving, who was raised in West Orange, is just trying to pander to the regionally protective and overtly proud New Jerseyians that still call themselves Nets' fans by speaking so glowingly of "home" then...well...it's working, and well enough for me to ignore that he did so while crossing (up) the Brooklyn Bridge. I'm of no illusion that the Meadowlands would have been able to outmaneuver the mystique of MSG in gaining the the NBA spotlight of two simpatico superstars simultaneously. However, if Ian Eagle says Kyrie has contacted him to reminisce about running around Continental Airlines Arena in awe of Jason Kidd & Co. then that's exactly the type of gospel that can make me reconsider a reluctance to organized religion that compares favorably to ye' who shall not be named's skepticism of the government...
That said, one flat-Earth truther's affinity for his old stomping grounds (...or a place a borough and change away from them) wasn't my main takeaway from his upgrade to Carmelo's "I'm coming home" video. Instead, my takeaway was that Kyrie Irving is...::cleans out ears and turns up volume::...currently happy?!
If his tenuous and bipolar tenure in Boston is any indication, that could change with the wind of one media member blowing hot air, but man - if working alongside his friends helps the NBA's foremost idiot savant keep that same cosmic energy then the New Jersey Nets of Brooklyn could have big, big things on the horizon. So long as he reallocates the time he would have spent getting ludicrous leadership lessons from LeBron to self-preserving his sanity, the team he's joining should be markedly better while his running-mate rehabs. If he just keeps that third eye on the prize and his young teammates out from under any and all cross-borough buses then the insanely deep and developing roster Sean Marks has assembled should only incrementally improve by leaps and bounds over the next few seasons.
I somehow have more faith in Kevin Durant making a full recovery from a crippling injury that's crapped on the course of plenty of promising career paths than I do in Kyrie Irving's ability to maintain his current mood or keep to catering to his crazy while off-the-clock. However, if "home" (or something like it) is truly where his heart is and said heart is set on making things work with a team he grew up enamored by then he should (...being the operative word) be far from the only person bouncing over to Brooklyn with basketball on their brain and a smile on their face.
TL;DR: Don't worry Kyrie, as you can leave that to Nets' fans, just please be fucking happy.
Dame Lillard Called Bullshit on Enes Kanter's Claim That the Blazers Only Gave Him 6 Minutes to Decide on His Future
You know what? I'm going to go ahead and say that Enes Kanter made the right decision in turning down the Trail Blazers, because - despite a couple impressive postseason performances - it's very clear he learned nothing during his time as one. He's always been a bit overly dramatic, especially online, but to have spent time with Damian Lillard as your teammate and not think he's not going to take a no-nonsense approach to any nonsense directed at the franchise for which he plans to forever man the front lines is just plain old stupid.
To be clear, Dame is absolutely right in saying that 45 minutes is hardly an eternity when it comes to deciding on the fate of your future, but business doesn't give a fuck about your feelings and, at the end of the day, the NBA is one of most cutthroat. I'd expect a journeyman of a 10-year veteran to have realized that by now.
To be honest, while I generally don't like to go this route, you're fighting a pretty steep uphill battle if you're trying to play the victim of time's essence in deciding which city you'd like to live lavishly in while playing a sport professionally. Mix in an exaggeration that makes your choice of where you'd prefer to surpass $100 million in career earnings seem as difficult as deciphering which cord to cut in trying to beat the clock to defuse a bomb and you're really setting yourself up to look silly. Never mind doing so at the expense of a team led by one of the NBA's most formidable flushers of all bullshit.
Free agency is referred to as a frenzy for a reason. With all due respect, that reason is immeasurably more important than where a playoff-run rental like Enes Kanter plays defenseless basketball for the next two seasons.
The Warriors are Unofficially "Retiring" Kevin Durant's Number, In Case You Were Wondering Exactly How Guilty Their Conscience Is
To be clear, I have absolutely no idea how guilty the Warriors organization should feel about letting Kevin Durant make an appearance in a must-win game that ended up costing him a full season of his prime and the certainty of his future as one of most transcendent talents in basketball. I'm quite sure there was plenty of inquiring minds mending together to make an extremely difficult decision that ultimately spelled disaster. While I definitely think some were swayed by the situation, even more so after listening to Andre Iguodala's story, I highly doubt all of them were only acting in the best interest of Golden State's dwindling chances at winning a third straight championship.
That being said, I think I have a pretty good idea of how guilty the Warriors' organization does feel, as the idea of "retiring" a player's jersey after three seasons, no matter how successful, is laughable to say the least. I can understand not immediately giving out the number of your back-to-back Finals MVP to some schlub off the street, but going out of your way to express exactly how off-limits it is in a press release the day after he asked "where Brooklyn at?!" in telling you "thanks, but no thanks"? Especially when you could just not say anything and easily go a decade without anyone voluntarily requesting to wear a number as unsightly as 35? That seems to be about as desperate a play/ploy for good will as...well...blubbering all over yourself in a postgame press conference while deflecting from a devastating injury by giving a sermon on the sainthood of the person who suffered it...
Simply put, Kevin Durant was a mercenary. He may have been a good person, a great teammate, and a quality leader in coming within one "calf strain" and two wins of being the most valuable part of a 3-peat in Golden State, but he was still a mercenary. Mercenaries don't get special treatment. Unless, of course, they are still owed payment for services rendered. KD rendered a hell of a lot in being left without time restriction in putting his career in jeopardy on behalf of a team that was, for intents and purposes, already beaten. Therefore, if the Warriors really want to settle things in the court of public option they should get to work on immortalizing him in bronze outside every gate of their new arena. Everyone already knows what they are doing in shamelessly kissing his ass as he limps out the door anyway. Might as well do it right by offering up more than some half-assed and likely unnecessary hold on the #35 disguised as a grand gesture.
Jimmy Butler Either Loves Miami or Loves Masochism, As I Can't Think of Any Other Reason He Would Turn Down the Sixers Max Offer to Sign With the Heat
I'm starting to think that Jimmy Butler's favorite song might be 'Only Happy When it Rains', and that's not so much an acknowledgement of his new city's on again, off again relationship with precipitation as it is an observation that he seems pretty damn content in being perpetually pissed off.
To be clear, I'm totally fine with a player prioritizing quality of life over quality basketball. It's just that Jimmy Butler hardly strikes me as the type to plop down on the 142 million dollar, state tax-free bag he just secured and enjoy sitting South Beach-side while calmly resting on his laurels as a great veteran player on a middling team whose cap is as strapped as its potential. In fact, his career speaks to him taking a much more, shall we say, incendiary approach to how things go down when they aren't quite looking up basketball-wise.
I guess I can see Philly having too many young, developing mouthes to feed for an overly proud player to picture himself staying there as nothing more than a complimentary option throughout the remainder of his prime, but Miami as the alternative? I'm sure him and Pat Riley will get along swimmingly in chastising everyone who doesn't come within a BPM or two of hustling their way into a heart attack during any given practice. However, that on-court marriage between a hyper-competitive malcontent and an unworthy roster is so obviously asking for trouble that I can't but think Jimmy Butler only agreed to it because he derives pleasure out the process of messy divorces.
Harrison Barnes Celebrated Signing His 85 Million Dollar Extension With a Pic of Him Bricking a Jumper, Which is a Hilarious Commentary on NBA Free Agency
Contrary to what some bungee-less conclusion jumpers on the internet may think, Harrison Barnes didn't accidentally post a picture of him missing a jump shot nor was he intentionally making light of how profitable his career has been relative to his production.
âWhat he did do, however, was unintentionally make light of how profitable his career has been relative to his production. All you really have to do is read to see this was clearly supposed to be a spiritually-driven narration on persevering past your failures and remaining unconditionally confident in yourself. That's not exactly the type of social media celebration I would have chosen after cashing in on another 85 million dollars, but it's also not one that's entirely senseless.
That said, as I find the Bible to be largely senseless, I can't help but laugh at the objectively funny visual aide that Harrison Barnes chose to go along with his excerpt, as it makes for quite the indictment of the mystifying money monsoon that it is NBA free agency. Teams that stand next-no-chance at contention just holding their form on long shots that will serve as a swing-and-miss the second the ink dries. I think Harrison Barnes is worth what he got relative to the market, but only because the market when it comes to shameless summer spending on supplementary talent is absolutely insane. So much so that the following might be the only better portrayal of it...
Finally. That admittedly feels like a weird word to use in reference to the comeuppance of a franchise that relocated from New Jersey seven years ago and almost instantly made a devastatingly dumb trade that paralyzed the team in basketball purgatory while suffering through it's unforgiving aftermath. However, the truth of the matter is that the Knicks have basically been begging to be overshadowed in their own city for ages. So much so that the Nets' rebuild, that was pretty quick relative to the complete lack of lottery picks that a team so demonstrably bad should have been privy to, put them in a far, far better position to make entice top-end talent than the most stupefyingly self-important organization in sports. It took a bit longer than he would have hoped, but Jay-Z's words just went from punchline to prophecy, as "little brother" made big brother's dream his reality - albeit one that is about 14 months from true fruition - in sending Knicks' fans scrambling for the shattered remains of their superiority complex from mere miles away...
The key word in that prophecy, of course, being management. With that of the museum of mediocrity that is "The Mecca" being entirely incompetent in a way that's long shown itself throughout every level of the Knicks' organization, it was somehow more likely than not that James Dolan would let the Knicks get lapped in relevance in their own city. Tough to deny that that's exactly what he's done, as it was he who led the season-long suckfest at the feet of Kevin Durant before only choosing to change his stance on paying top-dollar for damaged goods when the goods in question were an all-time great...
Make no mistake, this is a massive win for both the Brooklyn Nets and the team-building process. That said, it's also a demotion-to-the-G-League worthy 'L' for a franchise that crapped away an unfathomable competitive advantage in a media market that should realistically be entirely their own. Kevin Durant, Kyrie Irving, and - to a much lesser extent - DeAndre Jordan could easily be bringing the magic back to MSG, be it not for MSG making a mockery of itself. The long-held belief of both the Knicks and their fans that if you can make it there then you can make it anywhere isn't entirely untrue, but I hardly think Frank Sinatra was referring to extinguishing an organizational dumpster fire when harmonizing (not to be confused with harmonica'ing) about the mystique of Manhattan.
Obviously, there is plenty of risk that comes with putting your young team and selfless culture in the hands of an objectively insufferable asshole, who just lit the fuse that led to the implosion of a somewhat similar roster, for a year while his 32-year-old running mate recovers from an injury that has all-but-ended plenty of promising careers before. It's just a risk that any team would be stupid not to take, as Kyrie Irving eventually falling back into the Robin role (in which he ended a 50+ year championship drought for the city of Cleveland) to KD's Batman (at even 75% of his former freakishly talented self) is a recipe for title contention.
Be it Spencer Dinwiddie, Caris LaVert, Taurean Prince, Joe Harris, Jarrett Allen, or even Rondae-Hollis Jefferson, the Nets put together a playoff-level team that was simply a superstar or two away from becoming a championship-level team. Meanwhile, the Knicks pissed away money on contracts that were more inflated than clown shoes in continuing to run an absolute circus of an operation on a wing and a prayer (See: trading a unicorn for cap space). Take out the alleged allure of a building that hasn't hosted a truly meaningful basketball in decades and this decision seems all-too-easy. From the Sean Marks on down, Brooklyn was a better basketball situation and for that reason they have a basketball team whose intrigue and potential is so exponential in comparison to the team whose city they just took over that it managed to rewrite the harrowing history of the Celtics' heist.
The Rockets are Looking for Reinforcements to Help Cure What Ailes Their Volatile Locker Room, and Have Reportedly Settled on Trading for...Jimmy Butler?
Would you look at that? The Rockets went and took the name right out of my mouth. Well, at least I assume that's why I was left speechless upon reading this report.
Who needs to be brought in to cure the temperamental locker room of a team led by clashing personalities and explosively opposing ideologies? Why, of course, it's Jimmy Butler! With Chris Paul being unable to get through to a superstar who has unlimited organizational support in playing however selfishly he sees fit, it only makes sense to double-down on difficult blowhards who demand accountability. I can't think of a more perfect way to motivate the most stubborn scorer in the NBA to share the ball and exert the excess effort on the less celebrated end of the floor than tag-teaming him with the most overbearing of peer-pressure. If I know James Harden like I think I know James Harden then people taking turns screaming in his ears for 82 games is what will really bring the cutthroat competitor out of him come playoff time!
In all seriousness, I think it might behoove the Houston Rockets to slap the calculator out of Daryl Morey's hand and enroll him in a chemistry class. Dude is so caught up in the math of basketball that he's completely forgotten that it's a team sport played by those with very distinct egos, emotions, and playing styles. I do rather enjoy the mental image of someone who would gladly die diving for a loose ball rolling his burning retinas while watching James Harden throw himself to the ground like he had just been shot between the eyes by a light brush against his wrist and CP3 bark at an official like the whistle was only discernible to the ears of old dogs who are fresh out of new tricks. However, to think that such an inevitable scene is fitting of a championship caliber basketball team is to think that the relationship between a dried-out forest, a fire, and a can of gasoline is a fruitful one.
Unless the assumption is that everything is already destined for ashes anyway, in which case I would applaud the Rockets for sacrificing their sanity in acting solely on behalf of the sadistic fans of a sports' soap opera, this simply doesn't add up in any non-analytical way.
The Torch of New Orleans' Sports Could Soon be up for a Passing if Drew Brees' Gift to Zion Williamson Is Any Indication
I don't want to hate too hard on Anthony Davis here. After all, in many ways, him becoming a villain in New Orleans after spending year and year personally flourishing on a floundering team that greatly needed a reality check has inherently made Zion Williamson all the more galvanizing to a city that might soon be in need of another "savior". Rich Paul depositing that reality check by trying to...ahem...Klutch the Pelicans by the balls mid-season really woke the front office up to the fact that their franchise was largely seen as a farce.
More importantly, it presumably inspired the organizational overhaul that got kickstarted with the hiring of an accomplished exec like David Griffin and got put into overdrive by some prosperous ping pong balls. The Pelicans no longer being treated like a second-class citizen internally has made the external shift in optimism all the more possible, and it's impossible to know if things would have been so quick to change if not for the embarrassing public spectacle of the Anthony Davis saga.
That said, while also taking into consideration the imprisonment of the moment, the aura surrounding this 1st overall selection as opposed to that of his premier predecessor just feels so much different. Anthony Davis both was and is a transcendent talent in his own right, but as the forward-facing ambassador for a long-suffering franchise and the city they call home, Zion Williamson appears to have a Drew Brees-lite type "it" factor.
Lord willing, the circumstances surrounding the arrival of the current torch-carrier will never again be replicated, as his impact was unimpeachable for reasons far beyond a resurgence in sport. However, I don't think #9 is merely "passing it on", figuratively speaking, because he's on his last leg as an elite arm in the NFL or because he received strict instructions to go out of his way to be overly complimentary to make the newest member of a tight-knit community feel welcome. I'm probably unwrapping far too much from a gift that required no ripping or tearing. Still, if I can see that Zion Williamson has the rare mix of personality, potential, and magnetism that can make him a larger-than-life figure both on and off the court then surely so does the regional diplomat of a future HOF quarterback that implied as much in a message that, in an already large frame, made mention of an even bigger picture.
I don't know that the Pelicans can ever come anywhere close to reaching a Saints-like level of importance in New Orleans, as Sundays are basically a cult-like spiritual experience in and around the parish that lays claim to the insanely excitable church that is the SuperDome. However, their stars might soon have the capability to shine somewhat close to as brightly throughout the city and that alone would be a massive shift in the right direction for what's been, until recently, a red-headed stepchild of a professional basketball team.
Of All the People to Question the Warriors' Treatment of Injured Players, Golden State Surely Considers Andre Iguodala an Unpleasant Surprise
Well, after watching Mr. Myers kiss Kevin Durant's entire ass throughout a oddly tearful postgame presser that pointed more fingers at those outside than inside the organization that told their best player he couldn't possibly make his injury any worse on the same day he eventually sacrificed a season of his prime to an achilles tear, I think the general consensus from this clip has to be...
A role player like Andre Iguodala admitting to being medically misled through media manipulation in the process of being pressured to play against a crappy Cleveland Cavaliers' team that realistically stood little chance of beating the Warriors with or without him is bad enough in its own right. What it implies about what KD might have faced as a soon-to-be free agent of a savior to a team that was on the brink of NBA Finals elimination, however, is substantially worse.
Whether or not the decision to play in Game 5 was ultimately in the hands of the consummate competitor in question, one of the most well-respected veterans in the league, who shouldn't have a bone to pick with the franchise that's paying him 17+ million next season, just added quite a bit of context to what already had the unfortunate feel of guilt-born blubbering...
Fact is, if you think the Golden State Warriors had any responsibility to clearly lay out all the risks without laying the peer pressure on thick then they probably didn't fulfill it. I thought to be the case before, and hearing someone who has had a wealth of success in Golden State speak to his own personal experience with being pushed to play through duplicitous means certainly didn't change my mind for the better. Never mind disavow the legitimacy of the following report...
The Rockets' Twitter Will Let Giannis Finish, But Not Before Reminding Everyone Who Might Have Forgetten That James Harden Scored A Lot This Season
I got to be honest. I don't really have a problem with the Rockets having a pre-drafted list of James Harden's personal accomplishments, that could have been summoned up with something as simple as "did you know he scores...like...a lot?" ready if their superstar (who didn't even bother showing up last night, mind you) missed out on winning a 2nd straight MVP Award. Team-run Twitter accounts are meant to pander to the most fanatical of followers, so being shamelessly biased and insecurely defensive about the one-man team it's devoted to, even if comes off as giving the most egregious "well, actually..." to Giannis' historic season, is kind of fitting of its job description.
Now, to post it while the actual MVP, who is universally beloved enough to make James Harden look like Judas by comparison, was on the verge of leaking all over himself in talking about what his dearly departed father and the rest of his family meant to what has been a selfless and meteoric rise to superstardom?
Needless to say, I've certainly seen better looks. Again, I get why it was posted, but when it was posted is a different story. Maybe, just maybe let the ultimate overseas success story give what was almost guaranteed to be a heartwarming speech and have his well-deserved moment in the spotlight. After all, doing the social media equivalent of screaming "what about us?" like 'us' wasn't last seen melting under the spotlight as their former MVP once again went MIA in another massively passive postseason moment was, ironically enough, bound to flop in embarrassing fashion when introduced to an always unforgiving internet.
Doc Rivers' Reaction to Mike Budenholzer Winning 'Coach of the Year' Over Him was so Classically Doc Rivers
I'd say that in most cases we'd expect head coaches to plaster professionalism across their face when dealt disappointment during something as subjectively selected as Award Show winners. As the strategist behind the young team with the best record in basketball, it's tough to be too surprised by Mike Budenholzer winning 'Coach of the Year' anyway, so you'd think the disgust would be a little less undeniable in the expression of someone who definitely served as worthy competition.
That, however, simply isn't who Doc Rivers is a person, so if absolutely nothing else, I appreciate how on-brand a reaction that was from someone who has never suppressed his emotions or agreed with a single judgment call that didn't go his way. Had the presenter at the time happened to be wearing a whistle around his neck, we might well have been the Pavlovian Rottweiler in Doc Rivers come out during an award show freakout capable of making Taylor Swift drop the mic and Kanye West feel second-hand embarrassment.
For that reason, I'm pretty proud of the guy for merely being caught looking like he smelled some shit on his lip for two seconds by a camera guy that knew damn well what he doing. After all he did in making a gift out of the present in getting to Game 6 against a full-strength Golden State with a roster that was undercut by a management team that had their sights set on the future, I understand his outward objection. Even though I ironically wouldn't be as willing to give a pass to an NBA coach that hasn't broken me down and made me immune to his barking throughout years of shameless bitching.
Anthony Davis is Employed by an Incompetent Organization, And for the First Time in a Long Time it is Not the New Orleans Pelicans
Ya know, I can't help but wonder if Anthony Davis is a fan of irony. I know he's a fan of the idea of playing alongside another transcendent talent in LeBron James during a convenient time in which the league has been busted wide open by the dethroning of a damaged dynasty, but is he a fan of irony? Make no mistake, the conclusion to his messy, drawn out divorce proving symbolic of the Pelicans' finally figuring it out in the front office in moving him to a franchise whose The Office-esque parody of a front office makes the one that largely wasted his limitless talent for seven years look competent by comparison is a prime example of it.
I don't want to speak on behalf of the self-awareness of a 7-foot freak of nature that let himself be paraded around as nothing more than the most precious of pawn by Klutch Sports. However, Anthony Davis has to see the self-deprecating humor in Rob Pelinka and the Los Angeles Lakers salary crapping their pants in failing to realize that they had yet to open up enough space for another max contract in acquiring him, right? He's definitely in a better position to win now and win big in front of much fuller crowds, but he's also in a position to become quite the punchline in wanting nothing more than to be tasked with throwing buckets of water on the Lakers' dumpster fire of dysfunction.
LeBron, AD, and - to a lesser extent - Kyle Kuzma make for an unconscionably formidable front court, but whatever help they might be getting isn't coming from the men and women running a complete circus of a shitshow. As far as I could tell, mismanagement was one of the main reasons for Rich Pau...I mean, Anthony Davis' trade demand in the first place. Therefore, he better hope he doesn't finish in second place or worse if he doesn't want to be mocked for defiantly deviating from the now ridiculously reinforced 'Road to Zion' just to run directly into the same type of dead-end that he did his damnedest to avoid. Simply put, if organizational stability was high on his list of priorities then, in waving off David Griffin to go from Dell Demps to Rob Pelinka, his list of priorities is still laughably unfulfilled and in a fairly familiar way.
The Fact That I Can't Immediately Dismiss This Story Tells You All You Need to Know About Kyrie Irving
To be as clear as the day is long, let me first say that the only person I'm less likely to take at their word than Doug Gottlieb is...well...Doug Gottlieb when he's making a guest appearance on the Colin Cowherd show. To put it lightly, I'm suspicious of this story's validity.
That said, it speaks volumes to the quirkiness of subject that my suspicion is based entirely on the source, as opposed to the flat out foolishness of a tale that would seem tall if not for featuring the NBA player who is most likely to come off as dumb in an exaggerated effort to sound smarter than he is. As someone that fears Kyrie Irving might come to Brooklyn and be late to the Nets' home opener because he let the universe guide his path to Barclays Center after turning off his location to go MIA to the all-knowing eye, I can't entirely dismiss this as fake news. Whether or not it's true is actually kind of irrelevant, because it being even mildly believable in a "sounds about right" sort of way is a problem in and of itself.
I don't know for sure that he was walking around the Celtics' facilities asking people for their personal meaning of 'government' like he was conducting a verbal admissions test to Tinfoil Cap University, but Kyrie Irving is way out there and it's not because he accidentally stepped off the edge of the Earth. Rather, it's because, much like someone opening their eyes as wide as possible to fight off exhaustion, he tries so incredibly hard to be woke that he's ironically one step away from being asleep at the wheel. Just his Instagram captions alone are proof of someone who makes for an odd mix in being a type of pretentious that you can't help but pity.
Obviously he's still an insanely talented basketball player, despite what his percentages from this postseason might show, but he'sone that is just a little too close to giving up his hoop dreams to pursue the type of "truths" outlined in rarely viewed but oddly convincing YouTube videos.
Skip Bayless Seems to Think There is Some Truth to the "Report" of James Harden Leaving Practice in Tears After CP3 Made Fun of His Man-Boobs
Incredible. Just simply incredible. It can't imagine it gets anymore satisfying than watching the consummate troll wander aimlessly into the internet's unforgiving forest of fiction only to get the wool pulled over his eyes by a much more creative troll. A patently ridiculous "report" that reads as though the reigning NBA MVP has basically been a tumultuous teammate's mood swing away from receiving an atomic wedgie at any time throughout the last two seasons? Talk about having your britches beat off you in your own game.
I honestly don't know what I appreciate more, that the current age of social media allows us to trick contrived public personas into sounding even more incredibly stupid, or that the current age of the NBA (that would be best labeled as "rebellious teen") is just dramatic enough for something so egregiously satirical to be taken at all seriously.
Either way, the combination of the two just got the most shameless of sports' personalities to utter "man boobs" on-air with 100% sincerity. For that I will eternally grateful, as it shows exactly how much we...ahem...milk narratives, such as that of Chris Paul being an insufferably big-mouthed bully...or that of James Harden being a soft and lazy lactater...or that of the both of them sharing the same backcourt would create an inevitable fight fit for 5th grade recess.
If only Skip Bayless had finished reading the entirety of the thread, preferably in that same dumbfounded/stern/disappointed tone...
The Rockets Have Reportedly Had "Preliminary Talks" About Trading Chris Paul, Which is Executive-Speak for "Short Conversations"
TheAthletic- The Rockets have had conversations around Capela — and had preliminary conversations about All-Star Chris Paul, including discussing Paul deals with teams that have the necessary cap space to absorb his three years and $125 million after the free-agency moratorium in July, league sources said. Rockets GM Daryl Morey said publicly that the team does not plan to trade Paul.
I'm not going to hate too hard on this report. When you've got an asset as distressed as a 34-year-old, perpetual pain in the ass who is somehow only going to become more oft-injured with age, you really have no other form of recourse than to do and/or say anything to exaggerate its value. For that reason, I understand Daryl Morey floating his name on the trade block like that trade block won't be abandoned in an entire ocean of its own as Chris Paul collects the NBA equivalent of $125 million in social security while incessantly bitching at James Harden like he's the son he's eternally disappointed in...
That being said, the usage of "preliminary talks", as if said preliminary talks aren't similar to those that you might have with a stranger at a bar before she takes the drink you bought her and disappears forever, is absolutely hilarious. Making it sound as though only the details need to be hammered out when the devil is more alive and well than ever before in those details is just laughably misleading.
Something tells me that if Daryl Morey manages to keep you on the line, by hook or by crook, long enough for the FBI to figure out your whereabouts, he considers you officially complicit in preliminary talks regarding the acquisition of his most expensive and annoying anchor. So long as the phone call doesn't end extremely quick with an abrupt click, you're in the market for a middle-aged malcontent. So much so, that I wouldn't be half-surprised if those that made the mistake of picking up haven't had to go through a 6-step process to unsubscribe from daily e-mails reminding them that Chris Paul is on the clearance rack.
I don't know that the Rockets had much of a choice when it came to extending CP3 in hopes that he'd help them win a championship before contaminating the team, but they might have even less of a choice when it comes to keeping him on a catastrophic contract that's gotten worse every single second since it was signed.
Kyle Lowry Started a Resounding "5 More Years!" Chant, And Kawhi Leonard Was More Unfazed Than Humanly Possible
Unbelievable. Simply unbelievable. We're in an age of the NBA in which fans are at their most investigative in finding any little easter egg that might hint at a player's mindset and/or potential movement. Yet, any easter egg to be uncovered might as well have been hidden by a career crook as the only reaction that Kawhi Leonard was willing to offer up as reading material to millions of people in attendance to honor him as much as the franchise he carried to new heights was the most hollow of hardcovers. Seemingly the whole damn country of Canada, never mind the city of Toronto, begging for his acceptance, and the only NBA superstar capable of doing so remained entirely undeterred in expression.
Hell, even his Uncle Dennis got wrapped in the emotion of the moment and threw up five fingers, that might eventually be seen as a wave goodbye if his client does end up leaving for sunnier skies, but the client in question? Hardly an acknowledgement of the countless people pleading for even a pea-sized indication of impending commitment from someone whose smile and posture were having none of anything that could even be remotely interpreted as a reply. Other than that dethroning his second dynasty has helped him rediscover that thing most people call happiness, I haven't the slightest clue what Kawhi Leonard was thinking in that moment. That makes it all the more amazing that he has yet to have driven his actual wife to the nuthouse in dating outside his marriage to basketball, as his intentions are impossible to unearth from under an impenetrable poker face.
P.S. The machine. It...it...it's...SELF AWARE!!!
Arena INsecurity: The Sheriff's Deputy That Got in a Shoving Match With Masai Ujiri Immediately After The Raptors Won the Title is Pursing a Battery Charge
CBC- U.S. authorities will push for a battery charge against Toronto Raptors president Masai Ujiri after the executive was accused of pushing and hitting a sheriff's deputy in the face as he tried to get onto the court when his team won the NBA title in Oakland, Calif., a police spokesman said Friday.
Moments after the Raptors won their first NBA championship Thursday night, Ujiri allegedly assaulted a local police officer at Oracle Arena, the sheriff's office said.
A spokesperson for the Alameda County Sheriff's Office said Ujiri was making his way to the court when he was stopped by a sheriff's deputy and asked for his credentials.
"This deputy had no idea who [Ujiri] was," Sgt. Ray Kelly said in a phone interview.
Ujiri didn't have the credentials on him, Kelly said, adding that the former NBA executive of the year then allegedly pushed the deputy out of the way in an effort to get on the court.
"Our deputy pushed the man back and told him he couldn't go onto the court," Kelly alleged. "At that point, the gentleman pushed our deputy again, and during that push his arm struck our deputy in the jaw."
He said at that point NBA security intervened and Ujiri was able to get onto the court. A local television station, NBC Bay Area, shared video from the immediate aftermath of the alleged incident that appears to show another man separating the deputy from Ujiri, who is then led onto the court by Raptors guard Kyle Lowry.
Kelly said that rather than arrest Ujiri on international television, the department decided to take the "high road" and file a misdemeanour complaint to local prosecutors. He said the officer was not seriously injured in the alleged incident, but did complain of pain in his jaw.
"We'll be submitting a report to the Alameda County district attorney for complaint of battery on an officer," he said.
Asked about the appearance of a well-known executive being held back from celebrating a historic win with the team he built, Kelly said optics were of no concern.
"There is a credentialling policy that the NBA has in place. Everybody from the top executives all the way down ... know that you must wear credentials to get on the court," he said. "We would expect more from a team president."
This is just sad. It's one thing for a sheriff's deputy to let his authority complex get the best of him in somehow being unfamiliar with one of the very few faces that absolutely needs on the court after the conclusion of the NBA Championship. That's bad enough in its own right. However, taking that mistake a step further by doubling down on an alleged absence of credentials, that can clearly be seen clutched in the hand of Masai Ujiri throughout the entirely of the altercation, and crying victim of "battery" after ending up on the ass end of nothing more than a complete misunderstanding of a shoving match?
Well, that's sufficient enough proof for me to say that this security guard, aside from any other potential wrongdoing, failed to fulfill the most basic of his job responsibilities in being the most insecure person in all of Oracle Arena.
I don't want to make things about race, because that's a deep conversation that requires far too much nuance. That said, these two instances both took place in the same building within the same week...
1) A very white and largely unknown minority owner of the Golden State Warriors shoved an active athlete, in Kyle Lowry, during an NBA Finals game then casually sat comfortably back down in his courtside seat before kindly and respectfully being asked to leave on his own accord minutes later...
2) The very black and largely recognizable President of the Raptors enthusiastically tried to get on the court after reaching the apex of his life's work as a longtime NBA executive and ended up getting into a physical altercation with law enforcement before, ironically enough, that same Kyle Lowry reached out and dragged him into a celebration for which he was a main honoree.
Again, I'm not going to definitively say that race played a huge role, but I'll leave it to you to attempt to draw alternative conclusions. After all, I can't think of too many other factors that can adequately explain such an eye-popping juxtaposition. Never mind the utterly shameless lack of understanding displayed by an officer that still refuses to swallow his pride and let one of two black men a top an NBA front office fully enjoy an incredible accomplishment after reaping the ultimate reward of his unprecedented risks.
Winning Finals MVP Meant so Much to Kawhi Leonard That He Forgot/Left The Trophy at the Podium After His Postgame Press Conference
Nothing if not symbolic. Hilariously fitting of a player that returned from a suspicious season off and led the entirety of a championship run like it wasn't as much of a redemption story as it was the conducting of business that's as usual as the refilling of an empty coffee pot, but mostly symbolic.
While many found themselves more enamored with debating whether or not Steph Curry would get the media-manipulated monkey off his back by adding a Finals MVP to his extensive trophy case, Kawhi Leonard mechanically engineered a near-unanimous heist (Hubie Brown, you good fam?) of it just to leave it sitting on a table like a complimentary bottle of warm water. If that doesn't speak to just how unwilling he is to be about the (incredibly entertaining) bullshit of basketball as a coldblooded competitor with the one goal of winning then I don't know what the hell does.
We're talking about an award that represents a Jordan-esque performance that willed his team to a peak previously unknown in toppling a dynasty and defining a legacy. Yet, I'm honestly not convinced that Kawhi Leonard forgot the Finals MVP trophy as much he just couldn't even be bothered to pick up something that didn't have the word 'Spalding' stamped on it.
I don't know if a species of Black Mamba whose assassinations are silent and that wouldn't be caught dead counting his rings with his fingers has been discovered as of yet, so I'll just assume that dude is a different breed. Judging from its apparent disinterest in all things shiny, it's safe to say that it's one that can only be satiated by success despite not giving a half of a damn about sinking its fangs into the glitz, glamor, and gold that comes with it.
Take a Hike Drake, Because 'Plant Guy' Was the Real Star of the Show in Toronto's City-Wide Celebration of the Raptors
I have to be honest, I love this dude, and that's saying a lot of someone that typically finds disturbing the appetite for destruction that long-suffering sports' fans seem to develop while amidst the chaos of absolute ecstasy. This is where environmentalists should close their eyes, because I think there's something about the relative harmlessness of matter of factly plucking a small tree out of the ground with the interior decorating of an NBA superstar at least satirically in mind that I can't help but find endearing. Plant Guy, with his 'Kawhactus' in hand, was so delightfully drunk and deadpan in explaining the intent of his pro bono grooming of Toronto's garden that I can't help but feel drawn to his cause.
And ya know what, oddly enough, no can say whether or not he contributed to the cause of
getting 'The Klaw' to dig in north of the border for the foreseeable future. If we know anything about Kawhi Leonard it's that we know almost nothing about Kawhi Leonard. I'd say it's about as likely that he is a fengshui aficionado as it is that he's interested in actually leaving his residence to eat free meals in...::robotic gasp::...public. Maybe the thought of uprooting greenery on his behalf plays to a love of fellow largely lifeless organisms and counts enough for him to spurn Southern California and consider rooting himself in Canada for the next 4-5 years. Almost definitely not, but you have to think out of the box when trying to persuade someone whose entire personality appears to packaged in one. Might as well attempt to warm his house to feel like a home before his blood turns back cold...
Regardless of whether or not they end up being in vain, I appreciate Plant Guy's efforts. After all, his ability to sarcastically(?) elaborate on them makes him unquantifiably less obnoxious than 99% of the fans doing patently stupid shit as a form of celebration.