Morning Shootaround — Feb. 24


VIDEO: The Daily Zap for games played Feb. 23

NEWS OF THE MORNING

Kobe on Collins and courage “domino” effect | Oden’s makes waves, first start for Heat | Clippers finally get what they need … win over the Thunder | Wizards turn to veterns for help down the stretch | A “shoe war” over Lillard?

No. 1: Kobe insists Collins courage will have domnio effect – Making history surely wasn’t on the mind of Jason Collins Sunday night, as he became the first openly gay athlete to suit up and play in one of the four major American sports. All Collins, of the Brooklyn Nets, was trying to do was earn his 10-day contract keep and help his team win. Whether he likes it or now, though, Collins is taking groundbreaking steps that will generate what Los Angeles Lakers superstar Kobe Bryant called a courage domino effect across the landscape. Marc J. Spears of Yahoo! Sports explains:

“His impact [Sunday night] is greater than what people think,” Bryant told Yahoo Sports before the game. “You look at it from the context of having the first openly gay player. But they missed the domino effect that it has way beyond sports.”

Collins, now in his 13th season, was a free agent at the time of his announcement and the Nets were the first team to sign him. Bryant said his initial reaction to Collins signing with Brooklyn was, “It’s great. Let’s hoop.”

Along with having an impact on the gay and sports communities, Bryant says the news teaches the youth “it’s OK to be yourself” and will motivate people from all walks of life.

“It’s fantastic. It sets an incredible precedent,” said Bryant, who is currently out of the Lakers’ lineup indefinitely with a knee injury. “I think the most important part about it, what I’ve learned on the issue is that one person coming out is showing this type of courage that gives others that same type of courage.

“It’s dealing with a lot of issues for kids who are afraid to be themselves. Afraid to be themselves because of the peer pressure that comes with it. A lot of these kids have depression issues or they’re being teased from other kids for being different. You wind up seeing a lot of suicides, kids injuring themselves and getting hooked on things that they should not be hooked on.”

On the impact of Collins’ first game, Bryant said: “There is a kid out there who … is going to say, ‘Jason gave me strength in dark moments to be brave. He gave me courage to step up and accept myself for who I am despite what others might be saying or the public pressures. He gave me strength and bravery to be myself.’”

Collins, who was scoreless in 10-plus minutes of action, said in response to Bryant’s praise, “That’s along the same lines of what I would say to every other professional athlete. … Realize that there is support there waiting for you. That’s the only thing I can say about encouraging people to be their true self.”


VIDEO: Jason Collins waxes on his season debut with the Brooklyn Nets

***

No. 2: Greg Oden’s first start for Heat (sans LeBron) ends with a win – Greg Oden made some news of his own Sunday, earning his first start for the Miami Heat in their win over the Chicago Bulls. The former No. 1 overall pick reached yet another milestone in his long journey back from what once appeared to be career-ending knee injuries. His start came without LeBron James in uniform, the Heat superstar sat out with that broken nose suffered against the Oklahoma City Thunder last week. But this day was about Oden and his milestone, writes Joseph Goodman of the Miami Herald:

Oden’s big-picture perspective is unwavering.

He’s just happy to be here.

“For me, each game getting better and walking off healthy — they’re all milestones to me,” said Oden, who is attempting to revive his career after a series of knee injuries. “It has been a long road, so every one is a good one for me.”

Sunday might have been the best of all. He started his first game since December 2009 and played nearly 13 minutes in Miami’s victory. During his brief time in the game, Oden matched up against Bulls center Joakim Noah and had five points and five rebounds.

“He’s an active player for someone that big,” Heat coach Erik Spoelstra said. “He makes multiple efforts, he gives you extra possessions and he’s very intelligent, so he has a pretty good grasp of what we want and how we want to play already.”

With LeBron James out with a broken nose, Spoelstra went to Oden for his size inside against the Bulls and also to keep the Heat’s second unit somewhat intact. Chicago is one of the league’s most aggressive rebounding teams and it showed early. The Bulls held a 32-19 rebounding advantage after the first half.

“We knew the minutes would be short for Greg still — 10 to 12 minutes — so we figure that [it would] be best to get him in that starting lineup,” Spoelstra said. “We get to keep our rotations somewhat similar.”

Oden said he could have played more than 13 minutes, which is a positive sign for the Heat. He is expected to be an important piece in the playoffs, especially against teams such as the Bulls and Indiana Pacers, which feature big frontcourts.

On a contending team for the first time in his career, Oden is following the lead of his more experienced teammates and Oden’s health is returning just in time for the Heat’s playoff push.

“They’ve all been through this before,” Oden said. “This is one of my first times going through this. This is that push you’ve got to get for first place. That’s what we are aiming for right now the next push is going to be when the playoffs come.”

***

No. 3: Clippers finally get that much-needed win over The Thunder – The Los Angeles Clippers fancy themselves a championship team, as do the Oklahoma City Thunder. The Clippers, though, needed a win over the Thunder, on the road, to legitimize their claim. And they finally got that Sunday, solving their Thunder issue on the big stage and sending a message that they are indeed going to be a part of the power mix in the Western Conference playoff chase. As Broderick Turner of the Los Angeles Times reports, it was long overdue:

The Clippers needed this.

A 125-117 victory over the Oklahoma City Thunder at Chesapeake Energy Arena on Sunday carried restorative powers for a Clippers team had been unsuccessful against the NBA’s elite on the road.

The Thunder owned the league’s best record — until the Clippers’ victory took their opponent down a peg to 43-14, percentage points behind Indiana (42-13).

The Clippers won with all five starters scoring in double figures. Jamal Crawford led the way with 36 points, but Matt Barnes (24 points, seven rebounds), Blake Griffin (20 points, seven rebounds, six assists), DeAndre Jordan (18 points, 12 rebounds) and Chris Paul (18 points, 12 assists, eight rebounds) all played significant roles.

“It’s definitely a good win for us,” said Paul, who played despite a sprained right thumb. “We were on the plane [Saturday] flying here and we were just talking about how we hadn’t beat any good teams on the road, and this would be the perfect time to start.”

The Clippers lost here earlier this season. They also have lost at San Antonio, Miami, Indiana and Portland, teams that rank among the best in the league.

The Clippers have won at Houston, but that was only one win against five road losses against the top teams.

Now the Clippers have a victory against a Thunder team that has lost only five games at home all season. They also have their first win since the All-Star game, after stumbling out of the break with losses to San Antonio and at Memphis.

“It was a very important win, especially having dropped our last two,” Griffin said. “This win was big for us. We haven’t really made a statement on the road. We’ve won some games, but we haven’t won big games. So it was terrific for us.”


VIDEO: Doc Rivers talks about the Clippers’ big win in OKC

***

No. 4: Wizards turns to veterans for help down the stretch – Trades and injuries have a way of opening doors for NBA veterans this time of year and the Washington Wizards are not different. After their work on deadline day, the Wizards had a new point guard in Andre Miller and an opening for a few minutes for guys like Al Harrington and Kevin Seraphin. An injury to Nene created even more space for those two veterans and they answered the call for Randy Wittman‘s team. Michael Lee of The Washington Post with the details:

Kevin Seraphin couldn’t get overly concerned when he saw Nene crumple to the ground in pain, then hop off the court and through the tunnel toward the Wizards’ locker room on his good, right leg. Coach Randy Wittman called on Seraphin immediately after Nene went down with what the team is calling a sprained left knee in the third quarter of the Wizards’ 96-83 win over the Cleveland Cavaliers on Sunday. Seraphin had to be ready.

“Yeah. I saw him leave, but when we’re in the game, we have to be focused on the game,” Seraphin said.

The Wizards (28-28) were only up by three points at the time of Nene’s departure and they have typically become flimsy when their most gifted big man is unable to finish a game. Washington squandered a 10-point fourth-quarter lead when Nene was ejected with roughly three minutes left in Oklahoma City, lost in overtime to Milwaukee when Nene strained his right Achilles’ tendon, and suffered a controversial defeat in Houston after Nene fouled out late in the fourth quarter.

After Luol Deng completed a three-point play to bring the Cavaliers within 73-72 with 93 seconds left in the third quarter, the Wizards were once again in danger of letting a winnable game get away from them. Then, Wittman put veteran Al Harrington on the floor and he made two huge shots – a driving layup and a three-pointer – to send the Wizards into the fourth period with a six-point lead.

“I was just looking for an opportunity. I was ready, obviously, the situation with Nene allowed me to do a little more,” Harrington said. “It’s tough. He’s been playing some great basketball, so that was tough to see. Hopefully we can get him back sooner than later, but guys got to step up. I think we got enough guys that can do that.”

Harrington didn’t score for the rest of the game. But Seraphin came through with two huge, 10-foot jump hooks to push the Wizards ahead 82-74 early in the fourth quarter.

“He’s capable of doing that,” Wittman said of Seraphin. “The more he simplifies his game the better. Sometimes he likes to trick people, and we got to get him just to be simple. That’s his move and he does it very well. Big couple of shots he hit.”

Harrington finished with two rebounds and an assist and tried to extend the lead but missed a three-pointer and Wittman replaced him with Marcin Gortat. “I thought Al gave us a big lift in the second half. He was panting like a dog out there but we got to continue to get him rounded into shape,” Wittman said of Harrington, who played just 31 seconds the night before against New Orleans as Nene matched his career high with 30 points.

***

No. 5: It’s gotta be the shoes for Portland’s Lillard – Portland All-Star point guard Damian Lillard made waves with his busy schedule during All-Star Weekend. There could be more waves on the horizon where he is concerned, courtesy of a budding tug of war over his shoe company. It’s been a while since a battle between shoe giants made noise in the NBA, but Lillard’s story is about to get interesting as Adidas and Nike get ready to tussle over the young star. Chris Haynes of CSNNW.com provides the minutiae:

Lillard, 23, has a profitable rookie shoe endorsement deal with adidas, though that could change abruptly due to clever language in his contract.

Being that he took home the 2012-13 NBA Rookie of the Year award, became an NBA All-Star and reached other unique incentive clauses in his first two seasons, Lillard will be able to opt out of his shoe contract at the end of the basketball season and either renegotiate a more lucrative deal with adidas, or open negotiations with Nike, Brand Jordan, Reebok or Under Armor, league sources informed CSNNW.com.

Another source that’s vastly briefed on Lillard’s situation added, “There’s no doubt about it, he’s opting out.”

Rival shoe companies have been well-versed on the matter for months and are expected to make competitive offers, but CSNNW.com is told that Nike stands the best chance of luring Lillard away from adidas.

Adidas is in no position to lose their accomplished young standout point guard.

Chicago Bulls point guard Derrick Rose is currently viewed as the basketball face of adidas. However, his string of knee injuries in addition to the fact that he has only participated in 49 games in three seasons has adidas apprehensive he can remain the company’s headliner.

In 2012, Rose signed a multiyear deal in the upwards of $200 million.

Lillard hasn’t missed a game in his one and half years as a professional and the way in which he carries himself on and off the court is without glitch if a company seeks to market him as the face of a national corporation.

***

SOME RANDOM HEADLINES: Sunday proved to be a great day/night for quite a few players from around the league. that lists include Kevin DurantJamal CrawfordGoran DragicRudy GayDanny Granger is still MIA for the Sixers on the practice court. The buyout has to be negotiated if he plans on moving on without suiting up in Philly … The Commissioner speaks on openly gay pro athletes … Harvey Araton of The New York Times weighs in on Collins, too, and the impact he can have going forward

ICYMI(s) of The Night: Thomas Robinson showed up and showed out for the Trail Blazers in so many ways …


VIDEO: The Thomas Robinson affair folks

39 Comments

  1. Nicole says:

    I completely agree with the completely with the previous poster. Eventually, (fingers crossed) we will view each other without the filters that we use heavily today.

  2. The Voice In The Distance says:

    Even if people focus on Jason Collins’ sexuality positively it is still being focused on. Ideally one day regardless of nationality, race, creed, sexuality or any other stigma people will just see each other as people. Unfortunately with the essence of humankind this will never happen

  3. Blazer Fan says:

    Wish you all the best Greg. I hope Brandon Roy can do the same. Once a blazers, always a blazers.

  4. okc2014 says:

    Can we talk basketball, please? I guess I’m the 2nd person who noticed how Kobe Bryant diverted everyone’s attention by making comments about subjects other than the facts that he won’t return, and his team is the WORST in the Western Conference. How low can you go?

  5. dget2 says:

    with 13 years in pro ball all Jason has to do is come out gay….ha-ha . What kind of moral does it set our kids …(“with no punch on his sexual orientation n fantasies”), wonder why so many fines n so called be a role moral for kids hoopla!.
    I would have my kid idolise Jason for balling skills than any thing else, after all its little I can pay back for the blood n bone of REAL star!

  6. Dito says:

    Whether Kobe is sincere or not his answer/message is a good one. Also hoping GO stays healthy. Anyway lets get past all that, the real basketball is right around the corner, lets talk playoffs

  7. for scott this is the first time he said to the public hes gay
    he never tell anyone hes gay while hes on the nba
    hes brave for telling who he really was!

  8. hellon says:

    So,Jason Collins is gay and he is playing in NBA….so?Who the hell cares?BTW he is still tougher than Pau Gasol….

    • hdsnake867 says:

      You’ve got that right. I will say that the whole time Jason Collins played in the NBA, my gaydar never went off. It goes off all the time when I’m watching Pau Gasol play. Maybe not very scientific, but it works.

  9. Agudo says:

    Oden seems to be a very humble person, who grabs every challenge with both hands when it is placed in front of him by Heat management. I wish him all the best, not because I’m a heat fan, but because his personal story is very inspiring. This is a man who could’ve crawled under a boulder a died, given the bad luck he has had in the past. But, he continuely stood up and fought when ‘experts’ said that it was the end of him. Keep fighting Greg, you’re an inspiration to us all.

  10. I wish the wolves won last night

  11. Scott says:

    Was Jason Collins gay when he previously played in the NBA. If so, what is the big deal?

  12. dustydreamnz says:

    I’m stoked for Greg Oden too. It was not his fault he has copped endless bagging for being injured which he couldn’t help.

  13. lol says:

    Btw imagine if Collins was signed by Kobe’s team, hahah both in the same team that would been priceless…

  14. hdsnake867 says:

    It’s really good for professional sports and the NBA in particular for Jason Collins to come out and be playing. Now, to complete this whole coming out process, I’m waiting for Pau Gasol to make his big announcement.

  15. re514 says:

    1/2 kids struggling with a gay lifestyle were sexually molested by an adult of the same sex. Kids are not afraid about coming out, they’re afraid of the repressions of telling on the predator messing with them. Why is Kobe, such a gifted athlete and mind, talking that politically correct hot mess — that’s just not true! If you’re a real friend to a gay person you will not support them lying to themselves.

    • mrhegemony says:

      You have absolutely no idea what you’re saying, because there is literally no proof to validate what you’re saying. The truth is that sexual molestation is the problem of the molester and not the children themselves. Do you understand that what you’re saying is full of hate and vitriol?

  16. Bruce 15 says:

    I agree with u remnant I don’t think he Collins should be actin gay…… Come on Kobe

  17. LS says:

    Kobe sounds like an idiot.

  18. Ohms says:

    Let me get this straight.. A huge womanizer who isn’t even a real father to his daughters and consistently cheats on his wife is telling us about morals, values and courage? Come on Kobe stick to shooting the ball and show some morals and values yourself before you feel like it’s ok to speak up.

  19. celtic533 says:

    Plus the players get fined for using profanity but now the NBA is promoting this whole Jason Collins thing just to get publicity because theyre the first league to have one.Like seriously the guys terrible at basketball.I watched him play for the C’s last year and im so glad they traded him.

  20. mee(a)t says:

    I love seeing Greg Oden playing. It is just fun seeing this guy getting another chance at doing what he wanted to do and not let an injury hold him back for all these years.

  21. Michel says:

    Kobe’s a liar. Wasn’t he fined $100K for using a gay slur last year? hypocrite.

    • celtic533 says:

      They’re all hypocrites.Its fashionable to be pro Jason Collins right now.It shows how “humane” you are.

      • celtic533 says:

        I also fail to understand how the word gay is used so openly and not sensored like the F word etc.If telivision,radio,professional, want to mantain their decency so much, using it doesnt make much sense cuz the real meaning of it is worse than the other words.

      • slider821 says:

        haha celtic you try so hard to sound reasonable but your hatred shines right through. The word ‘gay’ is profanity? And it’s meaning is worse than ‘other words’? Flawless logic from a closed mind.

      • mrhegemony says:

        Gotcha, so it’s “fashionable” to not espouse hatred that leads to suicide and murder. Good to know.

  22. propagandyo says:

    propaganda here we go !
    kobe, silver, the nba, gay lobby.. lol all of this is so honnest, jason collins.
    for me you don’t have to have a different statu, different laws, a special spotlight on you and on the gays.
    your sexuality is your strictly personal business and is not related to basketball in any way.
    so now what, you want a different contract ? different calls from the refs ? 1 free throw = 2 points ?

    • mrhegemony says:

      Funny how propogandyo conveniently forgets that there ARE different statuses, different laws, and special spotlights…that are all ANTI-gay (check out what Arizona just did). Any time someone says that “sexuality is your strictly personal business,” forget that heterosexuality is all over the place – on billboards, in TV commercials, in the movies, on the radio.

      Of course, to people like this, it’s only propaganda if you disagree with it. Otherwise, it’s called “normal” (which, of course, is propaganda). If you’re so secure in your sexuality, why do you care whether or not people are publicly gay? Much less care so much as to post a comment about it?

    • mrhegemony says:

      Propogandyo is conveniently forgetting that there ARE different statuses, different laws, and a special spotlight…that are ANTI-gay (see what Arizona just did). The fact of the matter is that there are so many more pro-straight laws and policies in this country than there are pro-gay anything. It’s fascinating how people begin screaming the moment someone different simply tries to gain equal rights and protection.

      Whatever happened to “Love thy neighbor” and the Golden Rule?

  23. whats up says:

    News flash!…Lost Angeles Lakers last in the west !!
    Hey, Am I the only ONE IN THE WORLD who noticed that? When was the last time the Lakers were LAST IN THE WEST?!
    Not a word about that? You like statics dont you? lol

    • JustTheStr8Facts says:

      Isn’t it wonderful? Seeing them at the bottom is priceless! Gonna be fun watching the Pacers pummel them tomorrow.

  24. The Remnant says:

    Reading Kobe moralize about the greatness of coming out falls a little flat with all his adultery. Where do our standards come from, ourselves? With that thinking you can justify anything. It seems that the only thing that is considered wrong in our society now is calling something wrong. The truth is Jesus can get anyone out of any sin, I’ve been there and I’ve seen it. I pray for Jason and Kobe and America to find the truth in God.

    • Dolemite says:

      I pray for you to find a relationship with a God that doesn’t so conveniently share your bigotry.

      • celtic533 says:

        every time someones tries to straighten the minds of the people (PUN INTNDED) he is called a bigot.Hes totally right and although im not christian I agree with The Remnant so stop calling him a bigot.

      • slider821 says:

        celtic533: Remnant defined a mans sexual orientation as a sin. That is called bigoty plain and simple. Keep justifying your prejudices however you must in order to sleep well at night.

  25. lol says:

    Doc looks depressed. Man being a coach is a torture. Even worse for the coach of Brooklyn Nets were chaos is gunna dominate their lockeroom everytime someone drops the soap.

  26. lol says:

    Houston shouldn’t ve let him go. I guess it was to make space for d12 but then again, how much does he make a season$? I’d let that Greg Smith dude go, he is useless as…..

    Good player for the Trailblazers. This dude has a lot of potential and talent in him but somehow it didn’t come out yet. He played at every team he been to a few good games but he has to be consistent.