Tuesday’s List of 13: Nobody asked me, but……..[/I][/B]
13) You hear a lot of cruddy things about people these days; here’s something nice about someone, Joey Votto of the Cincinnati Reds.
Votto is the Reds’ biggest star; when a 6-year old boy in Cincinnati had cancer this past summer, Votto visited the kid, without wanting publicity, and tried to make the kid feel as good as possible as this horrible disease took its toll. He helped in a fundraising event for the boy’s family that the Reds sponsored- he contributed $10,000 of his own money.
The little boy passed away 10 days ago; Votto was at the memorial service, again not wanting publicity, but in this age of negativity, how can you can not talk about such a nice person?
12) Detroit Lions’ QB Matthew Stafford is on pace to get sacked 61 times this season; the last NFL QB to get sacked 60+ times in a season? Jon Kitna, also of Detroit, back in 2006.
11) Maryland fired its athletic director, in part because the guy tried to get the AD job out at California, and Maryland’s school president wasn’t happy about that.
10) Rams play Arizona in London Sunday, but they’re staying in Jacksonville until Thursday, to get solid practices in, as opposed to doing tourist-type stuff in England. Different teams have taken different approaches to the London games; we’ll see how this works out.
9) New York-Houston playoff game Friday was the first time ever that the two cleanup hitters in a playoff game were the starting shortstops.
8) Cubs’ pitching coach Chris Bosio takes a while to the walk to the mound, but with good reason; he has a broken ankle, and is wearing a boot on his foot.
7) 37-year old Damien Wilkins has been out of the NBA since 2013, but he made the Indiana Pacers’ roster this season— good for him.
6) Nebraska hired Washington State AD Bill Moos as its new athletic director, which may be bad news for both football coach Mike Riley and basketball coach Tim Miles, both of whom have been struggling to win as much as the wealthy boosters would like.
5) Ike Iroegbu played an exhibition game for the Clippers last week with no name on the back of his uniform; he had arrived in LA just a few hours before the game. Clippers cut him over the weekend; he is probably headed to the G-League.
4) Golden State Warriors may have found itself a steal in Oregon alum Jordan Bell; the 38th pick in the draft scored 29 points in 49 minutes in the preseason.
3) When Cavaliers’ JR Smith drinks coffee, he puts in 8 creams and 8 sugars in each one. Not a lot of room left for the coffee.
2) 49ers released LB NaVorro Bowman last week, a once-great player who is still good enough to play in the NFL. He signed with Oakland Monday.
1) Chiefs were at the last NFL team to lose this season; last time the “last team to lose” won the Super Bowl that year? The 2006 Indianapolis Colts
Not a lot to go on for the first 7-10 days, until these teams get some games under their belts. I’ll give you what relevant information I have:
Cavaliers won five of their last six games with Boston, beating Celtics in 5 games in playoffs LY. Road team won five of last six series games. Celtics lost four of last five visits here, but went 3-1-1 vs spread in those games (over 4-1). These teams made a big trade in offseason; Irving is now a Celtic, Thomas is out with an injury.
Golden State won 8 of last 10 games with Houston (7-3 vs spread); under is 6-1 in last seven series games. Rockets, who now have Chris Paul, lost four of last five visits to Oakland (2-3 vs spread). Warriors probably get their championship rings tonight, which can be a distraction.
[B][I]LeBron questionable to face Irving, Celtics in Cavs’ opener
October 17, 2017[/I][/B]
INDEPENDENCE, Ohio (AP) LeBron James may miss Cleveland’s opener Tuesday night against Boston because of a sprained left ankle.
James injured his ankle in practice on Sept. 27 and played in just one exhibition game. He participated in the team’s morning shootaround, and a team spokesman said it will be a game-time decision whether he faces the Celtics. James is officially listed as questionable.
James took some outside shots but did very little lateral movement when the media was permitted to watch the Cavs work out.
It’s hard to imagine James missing the first opener of his career and a chance to play against former teammate Kyrie Irving, who was traded this summer to Boston after telling Cleveland owner Dan Gilbert that he wanted out. James and Irving had a sometimes rocky relationship during three seasons together, but they made it to three straight NBA Finals and won the title in 2016.
[B][I]The 10 things to know going into this NBA season
October 17, 2017
Happy New Year, NBA.[/I][/B]
The 72nd regular season starts Tuesday night, when Boston heads to Cleveland and Houston goes to Golden State. Fans in Cleveland will boo Kyrie Irving, fans in Oakland will cheer the Warriors’ latest championship banner and the march toward April will finally be underway.
The offseason was loaded with changes. Carmelo Anthony and Paul George went to Oklahoma City, Gordon Hayward and Irving went to Boston, Isaiah Thomas got sent to Cleveland, Jimmy Butler is now in Minnesota and Paul Millsap calls Denver home. That’s seven All-Stars who moved, a record for an NBA offseason.
Every coach who started last season will start this season. That’s an NBA first.
Here are 10 things to know about the NBA season now that is here:
10. QUICK STARTERS[/B]
San Antonio, Toronto and Miami will likely start 1-0 – because under current management, San Antonio, Toronto and Miami almost always start 1-0. Spurs coach Gregg Popovich is 18-2 on opening night, Raptors coach Dwane Casey is 7-1 and Heat coach Erik Spoelstra is 7-2. Spoelstra has started 1-0 in each of the last six seasons, the longest such run in the NBA. A coach in need of a 1-0 start? Try New Orleans’ Alvin Gentry. He’s dropped five straight openers and is 2-9 on opening night. Brooklyn, Orlando, Milwaukee and Utah have the league’s longest current opening night losing streaks, starting 0-1 in each of the last four seasons.
[B]9. FROM DISTANCE[/B]
Last season was the third straight where the NBA’s team single-season 3-point record fell, starting with Houston (933 in 2014-15), Golden State (1,077 in 2015-16) and Houston again (1,181 from 2016-17). Between the Rockets, Cleveland, Boston and the Warriors, four of the five highest single-season 3-point totals in history came last season. Don’t expect the 3-ball to go away anytime soon, either.
[B]8. LEBRON’S MARKS[/B]
LeBron James’ list of milestones is about to get longer. He comes into this season 1,213 points shy of becoming the seventh NBA player to reach 30,000, meaning it should happen by about the All-Star break barring any extended absence. He’s also on pace to eclipse the 8,000-rebound and 8,000-assist marks this season. The only other player in NBA history with 25,000 points, 6,000 rebounds and 6,000 assists is Kobe Bryant. James already has all those numbers, and counting.
7. WHERE’S THE DEFENSE?[/B]
In 2014-15, half the league – 15 teams – held opponents under 100 points per game. Two seasons later, San Antonio and Utah were the only teams that managed the feat. The league’s planned crackdown on traveling this season might help, but it’ll be interesting to see if defensive numbers improve in this era of 3-point-reliant, pace-and-space basketball.
[B]6. MAYBE MINNESOTA[/B]
Think about this, with apologies to fans in the Pacific Northwest: There have been more NBA playoff games in Seattle over the last 13 years than in Minneapolis. This will finally be the year that changes. The Timberwolves, who last reached the postseason in 2004, should return this spring even in a loaded Western Conference with Karl-Anthony Towns, Andrew Wiggins and new addition Jimmy Butler leading the way.
[B]5. SPURS CHASE HISTORY[/B]
If the Spurs win 41 games this season – a safe bet – it’ll be the 21st consecutive season where San Antonio finishes the regular season at .500 or better. That would tie the NBA mark in that department, matching the feat set by the Utah Jazz from 1983-84 to 2003-04. The Spurs set a record for consecutive winning seasons last year with their 20th. (Utah was 41-41 in 1984-85.)
[B]4. DIRK’S LONGEVITY[/B]
Dallas’ Dirk Nowitzki enters this season 31 games away from passing Kevin Willis for No. 6 on the NBA’s all-time list. At 48,673 minutes, he’s also within striking distance of No. 5 Elvin Hayes (50,000), No. 4 Jason Kidd (50,111) and No. 3 Kevin Garnett (50,418).
[B]3. STEPH WATCH[/B]
Stephen Curry will have just turned 30 when this regular season ends. And by then, he legitimately could be No. 3 on the NBA’s all-time 3-point list. Curry starts this season No. 10, and at his current pace will pass Ray Allen for the top spot sometime in the 2019-2020 season.
[B]2. NEW DEADLINE[/B]
No longer will the All-Star Game be overshadowed by talk of who’s getting moved where (like last year, when DeMarcus Cousins was traded to the Pelicans while players were still in locker rooms in New Orleans immediately after the game). The trade deadline will now be 10 days before the All-Star break, so this season that means Feb. 8.
[B]1. AND THE WINNER IS …[/B]
How can anyone pick against Golden State right now? The Warriors will get their third title in four years, which is the easiest prediction possible. So we’ll finish this with some probably less-than-chalk picks: LeBron James is going to reclaim the MVP award, the Rockets will have a game where they connect 30 times from 3-point range and Charlotte’s Steve Clifford will be coach of the year.
[B][I]Rude welcome: Irving set for return to ‘rowdy’ Cleveland
October 17, 2017[/I][/B]
CLEVELAND (AP) Kyrie Irving is coming home to where his NBA journey began six years ago.
There will be familiar faces and new sounds.
Traded to Boston this summer after he demanded the Cavaliers deal him so he could escape LeBron James’ shadow, Irving will make his regular-season debut Tuesday night with the Celtics against his former team – and fans who loved him but may no longer be as adoring.
When Irving takes the floor in Quicken Loans Arena, the All-Star point guard will likely get the kind of reception he was accustomed to when he visited Boston or Golden State or Detroit while playing for Cleveland.
However, following a turbulent summer – including his recent slap at Cleveland’s athletic appetite – he’ll be greeted with boos, taunts, heckles and other unpleasant vulgarities. There will be some cheers, but they might be hard to hear.
Cleveland has some sports anger issues these days. After the Indians were knocked out of the playoffs much earlier than expected, and with the Browns a winless train wreck, Cavaliers fans need to blow off some steam.
It will be directed at Irving, who downplayed his visit.
”It’s just hoops man,” he said. ”I’ve been in Game 7 in San Francisco (Oakland), playing in a high-intense environment. There’s no blocking out the noise or anything like that. It’s going to be there whether I like it or not. It’s going to be rowdy in there. It’s going to be a great game opener, like it was the last six years when I was there. It was the same getting used to the unbelievable Cavs fans that cheer on the Cavaliers and now I’m coming in as an opponent, trying to get a W.”
The Cavs have planned a video `thank you’ for Irving, who made the biggest shot in franchise history – a step-back 3-pointer in the waning moments of Game 7 of the NBA Finals that lifted Cleveland to a title, the city’s first in 52 years.
The tribute is undoubtedly deserved, and it may have provided some closure for Irving and Cavs fans still smarting from him wanting to abandon a team that has been to three straight Finals and is penciled in for a fourth.
But last week, Irving fanned flames when he said he was excited that his career has taken him to Boston, ”a real, live sports city,” implying Cleveland wasn’t one.
Irving’s comeback was already going to be one of the NBA’s top regular-season games, and his comment took it to another level. Irving understands there’s some animosity toward him, but he’s not going to get caught up in how other’s feel about his decision to leave.
”The excitement and the energy is there but I think everything extra has been created by outside influence,” he said. ”I don’t know what that reality is. I don’t necessarily concern myself with that because if I do, I’d really be doing myself a disservice and my teammates a disservice of trying to figure whether or not I want to give some distractions or specific people energy in terms of what they’re or what they think about what is going on.”
While Irving’s return could be unruly, it won’t compare to what James experienced in 2010, when he came back to Cleveland as a member of the Miami Heat after bolting his home state as a free agent a few months earlier.
Cleveland was seething, and James endured a night of hatred he’ll never forget. To this day, James rattles off ”December 2, 2010,” like it it’s one of his kid’s birthdays.
On the eve of Irving’s return, Cavs coach Tyronn Lue said his former guard will get just what Cleveland fans feel he deserves.
”We’ve got the best fans in the world and they’re going to do whatever they see best,” he said. ”Whatever decision they make, that’s the right one. Because they’ve been behind us for three straight years, since I’ve been here, they’ve always made the right decisions. So whatever they decide to do, I embrace whatever they do.”
Like everyone with the Cavs, guard J.R. Smith was disappointed when Irving asked out. But he respects him for wanting to make it on his own.
And as for defending his former teammate, Smith may have gotten in the first insult of many too come.
”We just got to put bodies in front of him,” Smith said. ”Hopefully he dribbles so much he gets tired.”
[B][I]Silver and MJ: 1 man’s NBA garbage is another man’s beauty
October 17, 2017[/I][/B]
NEW YORK (AP) Adam Silver’s NBA has endless action and daily drama.
That’s the offseason.
Then the regular season starts, and some of the intrigue ends.
Most predictions again see Golden State and Cleveland standing above their challengers for a fourth straight season, a pattern of dominance that even has Michael Jordan fearing a league where 28 teams are ”garbage.”
The NBA commissioner isn’t worried. Silver believes great teams are good for business, the way Jordan’s Bulls were in the 1990s and the way Stephen Curry’s and LeBron James’ teams are now. The commissioner says any of them can be beaten, too.
”Sometimes it’s just the nature of things, but I’m confident that given some of the moves that our teams made in the offseason that there’s no doubt there are multiple teams gunning for the Warriors and for that matter gunning for the Cavaliers this season as well,” Silver said.
Jordan now owns the Charlotte Hornets, one of perhaps 25 teams in the NBA with little-to-no hope of winning a title this season – or maybe anytime soon. The Hornets have just one All-Star, not nearly enough to compete when the Warriors have arguably four top-20 players, and the Cavaliers restocked around James with the likes of Dwyane Wade and Derrick Rose after Golden State’s romp last June.
”I think it’s going to hurt the overall aspect of the league from a competitive standpoint,” Jordan told ”Cigar Aficionado” magazine about multiple stars joining together on the same team. ”You’re going to have one or two teams that are going to be great, and another 28 teams that are going to be garbage. Or they’re going to have a tough time surviving in the business environment.”
Silver understands the comments, given Jordan’s competitiveness, and acknowledges that ”at the end of the day we sell competition and we want to have as many competitive teams as possible, but sometimes it just happens that again, combinations of certain players come together, they’re well-coached like those Bulls teams were in the `90s.
”He’s obviously frustrated that his team isn’t being talked about as a potential champion this season and I think it’s just that. He’d love to win and he’s frustrated,” Silver said. ”Having said that, Michael also happens to be the chairman of our Labor Relations Committee and nobody is suggesting we have the perfect system here or that over time we can’t make it better. And that’s something we’ll continue to look at.”
While Silver downplays Jordan’s concern, it does have merit.
So the league has made changes, in part, to make the regular season more meaningful.
Silver can fine teams who sit out healthy players during nationally televised games, and the lottery system has been tweaked so that teams will have less incentive to lose on purpose in hopes of having the best odds at landing the No. 1 pick.
Silver is interested in doing more. He likes how international soccer teams can play in multiple leagues or tournaments, giving them more avenues to a championship. He sees that as a potential midseason opportunity teams and their fans could embrace, knowing they wouldn’t be playing for the big prize in June – though it would require changes to the regular season schedule and All-Star break.
”We like the way things are and it doesn’t go just to a long regular season, but there is that notion that there should potentially be other things that teams are playing for, rather than 29 teams being disappointed at the end of every season,” Silver said.
He was encouraged by the teams willing to take their shot at the Warriors this summer, from Houston acquiring Chris Paul to Oklahoma City trading for Paul George and Carmelo Anthony. Boston took Kyrie Irving away from Cleveland for its chase of the Cavaliers.
But there is a sense that none of those moves puts any of the teams on the same level as the Warriors.
”The only thing that can derail them is an injury and to me if one (Warrior) goes down I still think they’re the favorites,” Hall of Famer and TNT analyst Reggie Miller said. ”If two go down then I think it’s a lot closer, those two being Steph and/or Kevin Durant. But injuries aside, if they stay healthy I hate to say it, it’s not even close.”
Even coach Mike D’Antoni, whose Rockets will play the Warriors on Tuesday night after Silver gives Golden State its championship rings, doesn’t rate his team with the champs.
”They’re clearly ahead of the pack. It’s going to take us to get up there,” D’Antoni said. ”… It’s not like you will ever be a favorite for a long time over those guys unless they either slip or we come up a notch or two.”
Silver believes the Warriors’ dominance is something to admire, not dread. He headed up NBA Entertainment during Jordan’s run of six championships, when overseas broadcast partners demanded as many Bulls games as possible. The worldwide interest is even higher now, with last season’s ratings soaring even despite fewer postseason games than usual, thanks to the Warriors winning all but one of their series in a sweep.
”The Golden State Warriors have set an incredibly high bar and it’s the best basketball that I think we’ve ever witnessed in the history of the NBA in terms of the aesthetic beauty of the game, style of the game, and it will take other teams time to catch up,” Silver said. ”There’s no doubt about it.
”But at the same time, we have in one league the collection of the very best players from the entire world and some of the most competitive people on the planet, and so I have no doubt teams will step up this season.”
[B][I]Spurs’ Popovich labels Trump ‘a soulless coward’
October 17, 2017[/I][/B]
SAN ANTONIO (AP) San Antonio Spurs coach Gregg Popovich has called President Donald Trump “a soulless coward who thinks that he can only become large by belittling others” in response to Trump’s comment Monday that former President Barack Obama and other commanders in chief “didn’t make calls” to families of fallen soldiers.
Former Obama staffers and a spokesman for former President George W. Bush pushed back on Trump’s comments. The White House press secretary said that Trump wasn’t criticizing his predecessors.
Popovich has been an outspoken critic of Trump, but tells The Nation magazine that Trump’s comments Monday were “beyond the pale” and “as low as it gets.” He calls Trump “a pathological liar in the White House, unfit intellectually, emotionally, and psychologically to hold this office and the whole world knows it.”
CLEVELAND (AP) Boston’s Gordon Hayward broke his left ankle just five minutes into the season, a grisly injury that overshadowed Kyrie Irving’s return to Cleveland and the Cavaliers’ 102-99 win over the shocked Celtics on Tuesday night.
LeBron James scored 29 points – 13 in the fourth quarter – in his most extensive action in three weeks because of a sprained left ankle. He also fed Kevin Love for a critical 3-pointer with 46.3 second left to put the Cavs up 102-98.
Irving, who asked to be traded this summer after six seasons in Cleveland, had a chance to tie it with a 3-pointer at the horn but missed. Irving then shared a warm embrace with James, his teammate for three seasons.
Irving finished with 22 points for the Celtics, who overcame an 18-point deficit in the third and led with 2:04 left.
Love had 15 and Derrick Rose 14 in his debut for the Cavs.
[B]ROCKETS 122, WARRIORS 121[/B]
OAKLAND, Calif. (AP) – Kevin Durant’s baseline jumper swished through the net just barely too late, and the Rockets rallied in the fourth to beat Golden State on the night the Warriors received their championship rings.
The Warriors had one last chance with 10.6 seconds left and Durant came up with the ball after Stephen Curry had missed. Durant and the Warriors thought they’d won and confetti began to fall when the two remaining officials – the third got hurt in the fourth quarter – reviewed the play and said Durant’s shot was after the buzzer.
Trevor Ariza’s 3-pointer with 2:09 remaining pulled Houston within 119-118 then Patrick McCaw hit a baseline jumper immediately after Golden State’s timeout. James Harden made a layup and PJ Tucker hit two free throws with 44.1 to make it 122-121.
Nick Young came off the bench to hit six 3-pointers and score 23 points in a brilliant Warriors debut, Curry scored 22 points and Durant had 20 after a slow start. Klay Thompson added 16 points.
Chris Paul had four points on 2-for-9 shooting in his Rockets debut, while Harden scored 27 points and Eric Gordon 24 for the Rockets. Houston opened the fourth with a 9-0 run to get back in it.
[B][I]NBA notebook: Celtics’ Hayward suffers fractured ankle in opener
October 17, 2017[/I][/B]
New Boston Celtics star guard Gordon Hayward suffered a fractured left ankle after he was bumped in the air by LeBron James and fell with his leg pinned under him in the first quarter of the NBA’s season opener against Cleveland on Tuesday.
Hayward, 27, who signed a four-year, $128 million contract in the offseason with the Celtics, was trying to convert a lob pass from Kyrie Irving when he and James ran into each other. Hayward immediately called for help while his ankle was apparently dislodged.
The Celtics huddled in prayer and new Celtic teammate Irving had to be consoled while medical personnel stabilized Hayward’s leg. He was carried off the court on a stretcher.
[B]–James[/B] was in the starting lineup for the team’s season opener against former Cleveland star Irving and the Celtics after being questionable with an ankle injury.
Cavaliers coach Tyronn Lue announced that James would play roughly 90 minutes before the game.
James has been hobbled since sustaining an ankle injury after stepping on the foot of rookie forward Cedi Osman during practice on Sept. 27.
[B]–Miami Heat guard[/B] Rodney McGruder underwent surgery to repair a left tibia stress fracture.
McGruder, 26, is expected to begin rehab in one week and a timetable for his return has not been announced.
He was ruled out indefinitely on Oct. 12 after being diagnosed with the injury.
[B][I]Mirotic’s face broken in scuffle at Bulls practice
October 17, 2017[/I][/B]
Chicago Bulls starting power forward Nikola Mirotic sustained what the team called “maxillary fractures” after being punched in the face by teammate Bobby Portis in a practice altercation.
According to the Bulls, Mirotic likely will require surgery.
The Chicago Tribune reported the injury would keep Mirotic out for a minimum of a few weeks.
ESPN reported that Mirotic charged at Portis twice before Portis threw a punch and connected with Mirotic’s face. Mirotic dropped to the floor and lay there for several minutes before getting up. He was taken to the hospital and released later Tuesday.
The Bulls are evaluating disciplinary action, and ESPN reported Portis would be suspended for multiple games.
Just before the start of training camp, Mirotic, 26, signed a two-year, $27 million deal that contains a team option for the second season. He has averaged 10.8 points, 5.3 rebounds and 1.2 assists over his 218-game NBA career.
Portis, 22, a 2015 first-round pick by the Bulls, averaged 6.9 points and five rebounds over 126 games the past two seasons.
[B][I]76ers set for No. 1 picks to make debut
October 17, 2017[/I][/B]
PHILADELPHIA (AP) Joel Embiid braided his hair for a fashion statement and got his basketball shorts in a bunch over his latest minutes restriction on opening night.
Embiid styled his hair like former Philadelphia 76ers great Allen Iverson and was as outspoken as him, too, using some profanities describe coach Brett Brown’s decision to confine his minutes to the teens in the opener Wednesday against the Washington Wizards.
Embiid’s career has been defined by injuries and limited minutes in the games he’s been healthy enough to play. Brown often started his press briefings last season with the magic number of minutes that Embiid, the 7-foot center, could play. Eight months after minor surgery to repair the meniscus tear in his left knee, Embiid still isn’t ready to go 25, 30, heck, even 20, minutes in his first regular-season game since January.
Brown and the Sixers are still handling their $148 million man with care – even if it makes Embiid mad.
But Embiid will start against the Wizards in a game where the Sixers will become the first franchise in NBA history to have two No. 1 overall draft picks make their debut in the same game: 2016 pick Ben Simmons will start after missing last season with a broken foot and 2017 pick Markelle Fultz will serve as one of the top reserves off the bench.
Yes, the first pick is a second-teamer, in large part because of shoulder and knee ailments that limited him to two preseason games.
The franchise player is irked over his limited playing time.
The No. 1 pick with the herky-jerky shot is a bench warmer.
The mood in Philly?[/B]
Nothing but optimism for a franchise that has real playoff hopes for the first time in six years. Brown told the Sixers in one of his first speeches in training camp that he expected them to make the playoffs. True, ”Trust the Process” has become every bit a tired catchphrase as ”Cash Me Outside,” but whether fans agree ”The Process” is over because the team no longer tanks or that it won’t end until a championship is won, this much is certain: Philly is all in on the Sixers.
Ticket sales are booming, sponsorship deals are up, and fans may empty pet rescue shelters with their frivolous celebratory ritual of raising cats after each victory.
The fun only goes as far as Embiid’s brittle body allows.
Embiid, who played 31 games last season, said he should play at least 30 minutes to start the season. He missed his first two NBA seasons because of surgeries on his right foot and is understandably antsy to prove he is one of the elite players in the NBA.
Mike Dunleavy, who coached four NBA teams, was awed the first time he saw Embiid in 2014 at a pre-draft workout held by former agent Arn Tellem.
”This guy was a cat,” said Dunleavy, in his second year at Tulane. ”You watch him play, how quick he was off his feet. His ability to shoot the ball with range, run the floor and do the things I saw him do, we haven’t seen a guy like this in a long time.”
In an era of extreme 3-point shooting, pick-and-roll reliance and guard dominance, Embiid has shown prowess as a big man who can stretch the floor.
”He’s one of the greatest talents I’ve ever seen,” Dunleavy said.
The Sixers can’t wait to find out over a full season.
Jerryd Bayless starts for the 19-year-old Fultz, with Embiid, Simmons, Robert Covington and $23 million free agent J.J. Redick rounding a starting five that seems like a Hall of Fame lineup compared to what Brown had when he was hired in 2013.
The Wizards’ aim is much higher: The franchise is trying to win 50 games or reach the conference finals for the first time since Washington did both back in 1978-79.
”I’m ready for it man,” guard Bradley Beal said. ”This is going to be a big year for us.”
John Wall, a perennial All-Star, Beal are the 1-2 punch in the backcourt Fultz and Simmons hope they can become.
”These guys that we’re playing tomorrow, they’re going to be good,” Beal said.
[B][I]Blazers open without CJ McCollum
October 17, 2017[/I][/B]
PORTLAND, Ore. (AP) The season opener for the Portland Trail Blazers has come with an unexpected twist: The absence of starter CJ McCollum, who is suspended for Wednesday’s game at Phoenix.
The suspension was handed down Saturday. McCollum was disciplined for leaving the bench when Portland’s Caleb Swanigan and the Suns’ Alex Len tussled in the fourth quarter of a preseason game last Wednesday night – coincidentally in Phoenix.
McCollum didn’t engage anyone after taking a few steps onto the floor, but leaving the bench area merited the penalty under NBA rules. So he will be a spectator when the Blazers open the season against the Suns. He’ll also lose some $164,000 in salary.
Some – including McCollum – questioned the suspension, given that he isn’t a brawler at all, it was a preseason game, and the action wasn’t menacing.
Nonetheless, he took full responsibility for his actions.
”You never want to miss games, especially like that to start the season. You work so hard to prepare for the season, you go through a lot of preseason games that don’t mean anything and then you miss a regular-season game because of an incident that you weren’t even involved in,” he told reporters following practice Monday. ”There’s nothing I can do about it now but more forward and learn from it.”
McCollum averaged a career-best 23 points per game on 48 percent shooting last season as half of a formidable backcourt duo with Damian Lillard, who had a career-best average of 27 points per game, along with 4.8 rebounds and 5.9 assists
The Blazers beat the Suns 113-104 in last Wednesday’s game, finishing the preseason 5-1.
Phoenix is in rebuilding mode, with coach Earl Watson guiding the development of 20-year-old burgeoning star Devin Booker and promising rookie Josh Jackson, alongside steady point guard Eric Bledsoe. The Suns went 24-58 last season, second-worst in the league.
Celebrating the franchise’s 50th season this year, the Suns haven’t made the playoffs in six years, the longest drought in franchise history.
The Blazers went 41-41 last season and made the playoffs, where they had the unfortunate luck of facing the eventual champion Golden State Warriors in the first round.
Portland got off to a poor start last season but saw improvement with the arrival of center Jusuf Nurkic, who was able to quickly develop chemistry with the rest of the team. He averaged 15.2 points, 10.4 rebounds and 1.9 blocks in 20 games with the Blazers, who were 14-5 with him in the starting lineup.
Nurkic was injured at the end of last season, and appeared in just one of the playoff games against the Warriors.
The 7-footer, known as the Bosnian Beast, shed about 35 pounds in the offseason to become more agile. He suggested that in the talented Western Conference, the Blazers could become the NBA’s Bad Boys, drawing inspiration from the Detroit Pistons of years past.
McCollum said it will be tough for the Blazers in a loaded Western Conference topped by the Warriors. But Portland could draw inspiration from two seasons ago, when the young squad of underdogs surprised the league after the departure of four starters.
”We need to be competitive, we need to have a chip on our shoulder, we need to be accountable for our actions, our words and our preparation each day,” he said. ”Everybody has gotten better in the Western Conference, especially in our division. There aren’t going to be any easy nights.”
[B][I]76ers’ Fultz gets to make NBA debut at Wizards close to home
October 18, 2017[/I][/B]
WASHINGTON (AP) Markelle Fultz gets to start the next chapter of his career in a familiar setting.
The No. 1 pick in the draft will make his NBA debut for the Philadelphia 76ers on Wednesday night at the Washington Wizards, about a half-hour from home. Fultz grew up in nearby Upper Marlboro, Maryland, in Prince George’s County and played at DeMatha Catholic High School in Hyattsville and will have many friends, family members and former coaches in attendance.
”Being able to have his first game in his backyard, I’m so happy for him,” said Keith Williams, Fultz’s AAU coach, trainer and mentor. ”It’s perfect. It couldn’t have worked out better.”
Not wanting to throw Fultz ”into the fire,” Sixers coach Brett Brown is easing the 19-year-old in by bringing him off the bench after missing portions of the preseason with shoulder and knee injuries. Fultz will be just the third top pick since 2003 to be active and not start his season opener, joining Anthony Bennett and Andrea Bargnani.
Fultz said he’s OK with the decision to come off the bench and considers opening in Washington ”almost the best thing that could happen” to him. Expectations are high on the University of Washington product, so starting in his backyard is a substantial positive for Fultz, who was cut from his high school team as a sophomore and came back to become a blue chip prospect.
”The world’s going to spin pretty quickly here,” DeMatha coach Mike Jones said. ”Sometimes things are going to seem like they’re a blur to him. Him being able to get started on that journey here in front of a lot of people that supported him and looked up to him I think is a great thing.”
Fultz will face 2010 top pick John Wall, and Williams hopes Fultz doesn’t feel too many jitters in his first pro game. Because Brown said Fultz ”didn’t play” enough in the preseason, perhaps getting to come off the bench eases some of the pressure.
”At the end of the day, I want to do whatever I got to do to help my team win, so if that’s coming off the bench, I’m fine with that,” Fultz said. ”Just contribute in any ways I can.”
Fultz is joining a young Philadelphia team featuring Joel Embiid and 2016 No. 1 pick Ben Simmons, who will also be making his NBA debut after missing all of last season with a foot injury. The 6-foot-4, 195-pound Fultz is expected to share the ball-handling duties with Simmons, and there’s plenty of intrigue about how he’ll handle the jump.
”I know he’s a strong, athletic point guard that brings a lot of toughness to the game,” Wizards coach Scott Brooks said. ”I like what I’ve seen so far, regardless of limited playing time. But he has great size. He has great size, and you can’t teach that. He’s a strong point guard that’s going to have a bright future.”
Williams thinks Fultz, if given opportunities, could average 18 to 20 points a game as a rookie. After seeing Fultz think the game beyond his age, Jones has high expectations for him.
”He’s capable of being one of the best guards in the NBA,” Jones said. ”Every year he’s going to get better and better and better. I know that’s his goal, and I’ve learned through the years to never bet against him. I know that he wants to be the best player he possibly can be, and with each passing month of this season, his rookie year, he’s going to push himself to that.”
[B][I]Michael Jordan scores again, this time with his Jumpman logo
October 18, 2017[/I][/B]
CHARLOTTE, N.C. (AP) Michael Jordan is showing he still has the ability to score big – even though he hasn’t played in nearly 15 years.
The Hornets owner’s latest slam dunk off the court might come by way of the NBA’s new uniform contract with Nike.
Since the Jordan Brand is a Nike subsidiary and the namesake of the six-time NBA champion, the Hornets will be the only NBA team to wear the Jordan Brand ”Jumpman” logo on their uniforms this season. That would appear to be a merchandising windfall.
After the switch from Adidas, the other 29 NBA teams will wear the Nike ”swoosh” on their uniforms.
Charlotte’s All-Star point guard Kemba Walker loves the idea of the Hornets being a slightly unique – and knows it’s because of Jordan.
”I mean, he’s the GOAT (Greatest of All Time),” Walker said. ”Everybody loves MJ. Everybody loves the way he competed and the way he carries himself.”
Especially off the court.
There isn’t a player in the league who doesn’t want to emulate the NBA’s greatest pitchman.
Though Jordan was not made available to be interviewed for this story, others praised his savvy and longevity.
Oklahoma City guard Russell Westbook is a representative for the Jordan Brand, which sponsors 21 active NBA players. Westbrook is soaking up as much knowledge as he can working with Jordan.
The reigning league MVP said he’s tried to use what Jordan has done with marketing skills as a model for his own success.
”He set himself up, not just on the basketball court, but in business,” Westbrook said. ”…. He set himself up tremendously – his kids, his family – by doing the right things on and off the court.”
Jordan last soared through the air in the NBA in 2003. But even now, at 54, his marketability doesn’t seem to be tapering off.
Forbes Magazine estimated last December that Jordan has made $1.7 billion since leaving the University of North Carolina in 1984 – more than any athlete ever.
The vast majority of his wealth has come from marketing, since Jordan earned just $93 million during his playing career.
It’s led all led to Jordan being able to call his own shots – like exclusive use of the Jumpman logo.
”Well, he does own the team,” Westbook quipped. ”He gets to pick that for sure.”
Hornets forward Marvin Williams, who like Jordan played college basketball at North Carolina, said he knows the uniforms will be extremely popular with NBA fans simply because of the ”international symbol” Jumpman has become. The logo features a silhouette of Jordan leaping through the air, his legs scissored with a basketball outstretched in one hand.
”That symbol – I have seen people have it on their clothes, their cars, tattoos,” Williams said.
Larry Miller, president of Jordan Brand, said the logo represents greatness ”so it’s a natural fit to have it on the uniforms of MJ’s team.”
”Aligning his team and his brand brings everyone in the Jordan family closer together,” Miller said in an email to The Associated Press, ”and it’s a win for both organizations.”
The Hornets recently opened an expanded team store at their downtown arena and are still receiving new Jumpman merchandise, but it’s not staying on the shelves very long.
Hornets executive vice president and chief sales and marketing officer Pete Guelli said the team is expecting a ”substantial increase” in merchandise sales.
”Being the only Jordan Brand team has a number of inherent advantages,” Guelli said. ”It is also our first formal connection to our owner and allows us to explore additional extensions around that unique alignment.”
History indicates it should be a profitable connection.
Williams said Jordan is more relevant now than ever.
”Obviously people knew who he was when he played, but when you see a 5- or 6-year-old kid walking around with Jordans on, and know who Michael Jordan is, but have never seen him play,” Williams said. ”I have teammates that have never seen him play but know about everything he has done. It speaks volumes not only to what he has done as a player in his career, but it speaks a ton to what he has done post-basketball as well.”