Morning shootaround — Aug. 15


VIDEO: LeBron helping out kids in Akron

NEWS OF THE MORNING

LeBron supports 4 years in college | Mixed messages from Team USA | Bad form in Rivers’ self-challenge | Kobe schools D’Angelo (smiley face)

No. 1: LeBron supports 4 years in college — OK, our headline is a little bit of a tease. The idea that LeBron James, arguably the greatest preps-to-pros NBA player ever, might be advocating for young prospects to attain their college degrees could make for an interesting sports story. In this case, though, it makes for a fascinating story, period, because James’ focus is not on future NBA performers – it’s on regular kids from his hometown of Akron, Ohio, who otherwise not attend college at all. We’ll assume he’s getting a volume discount and not paying retail, per this piece on ESPN.com:

The NBA star has partnered with the University of Akron to provide a guaranteed four-year scholarship to the school for students in James’ I Promise program who qualify.

The scholarship will cover tuition and the university’s general service fee — currently $9,500 per year.

According to the Akron Beacon Journal, as many as 2,300 children could potentially benefit from the scholarships.

It’s the latest example of James, who often refers to himself “as just a kid from Akron,” giving back to a community that helped raise him.

“It’s the reason I do what I do,” said James, who announced the program Thursday while hosting an event for students at Cedar Point Amusement Park. “These students have big dreams, and I’m happy to do everything I can to help them get there. They’re going to have to earn it, but I’m excited to see what these kids can accomplish knowing that college is in their futures.”

The university and the LeBron James Family Foundation are still finalizing the criteria for the scholarships. The students will have to graduate from high school within Akron’s public school system, achieve standard testing requirements, and fulfill a community service obligation.

James has had a long-standing relationship with the university. As his celebrity soared in high school, James played many game on the school’s campus, and the four-time MVP deepened his connection with Akron soon after he turned professional.

“It means so much because, as a kid growing up in the inner city and a lot of African-American kids, you don’t really think past high school,” said James, who bypassed college to jump to the NBA. “You don’t really know your future. You hear high school all the time, and you graduate high school, and then you never think past that because either it’s not possible or your family’s not financially stable to even be able to support a kid going to college.”

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No. 2: Mixed messages from Team USA — There’s no denying that USA Basketball has come up with a formula for success, built by managing director Jerry Colangelo and men’s coach Mike Krzyzewski and driven by the commitments it requires from the NBA’s best players. But there were several mixed messages put out by the time this week’s mini-camp and intrasquad scrimmage in Las Vegas were completed. “Everyone hoping to compete in the 2016 Rio Olympics had to attend” … except maybe not Kobe Bryant or Derrick Rose. “Some players will be permitted not to play in the scrimmage Thursday” … except then participation was made voluntary and so many guys opted out – 20 of the 34 on this week’s roster – that organizers had to truck in four more NBA players just to flesh out the Blue and White squads to nine men each. There seems to be some slippage going on in what words like “mandatory” and “commitment” mean, as kicked around in this CBSSports.com report, and it opens the door for other players to test the program’s vaunted culture in the future:

Earlier this week, USA Basketball chairman Jerry Colangelo said that because Derrick Rose chose not to attend minicamp this week in Las Vegas, the Bulls star would not be considered for Team USA’s Olympics squad for Rio 2016. In the same interview session where he revealed that he’s interested in Kobe Bryant returning for a final run with the team (despite Bryant also missing the minicamp), all of a sudden, Colangelo says he’s open to it.

“I always said you never shut the door entirely on anyone. I mean, why? To prove what? Was I disappointed Derrick [Rose] wasn’t here? Sure. Because, we want the best for him. We want the best for him. We want him to get back to the level that he once was. So let’s just see how things go in the future.”

OK, this doesn’t seem cool. Colangelo made a big deal to everyone saying how in order to be considered for Rio in 2016 you have to attend this minicamp. It was mandatory. So a bunch of players dropped what they were doing and shuffled out to Las Vegas in the middle of their offseason to run some drills and have some meetings. Most were happy to do it, and that’s a testament to the culture that Colangelo has helped build.

At the same time, many did so because Colangelo made it clear that attendance was mandatory. Now, on top of him saying that he’s not going to hold minicamp next year and that instead the team will simply be chosen, all 12 spots, it turns out that the players didn’t actually need to attend anyway. Rose didn’t attend, and he can get in if he stays healthy this year. Bryant didn’t attend, same deal.

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No. 3: Bad form in Rivers’ self-challenge — We’ve all come to understand the role that confidence and even ego play in how far a person can take some natural ability and hard-earned prowess. The days of athletes – or artists or innovators or anyone else, frankly – having to hew the “Aw, shucks” line of false modesty are long over. We get it when someone says he or she aspires to be the “GOAT” (greatest of all time), that’s it a highly effective method of motivating oneself. But what even the most brash among us need to remember is that it remains bad form to call out or put down others while issuing such self-challenges. That’s a line L.A. Clippers guard Austin Rivers crossed on Twitter the other night. Fueled apparently by seeing the “extras” who were summoned to help out at the Team USA “Showcase” scrimmage — Arron Afflalo, Terrance Jones, Amir Johnson and Elfrid Payton, with C.J. Watson listed initially but scratched — Rivers’ comment as framed by SheridanHoops.com veered into arrogance:

It’s quite possible that Rivers’ eyes lit up when he saw C.J. Watson on the roster. Kidding aside, it’s tough to see where Rivers is coming from as far as saying he’s better than many on the roster, given that he hasn’t shown a whole lot during his first three years in the league (bare in mind, he’s not comparing himself to superstars like Stephen Curry and James Harden, who weren’t a part of the showcase).

To be fair, he was never quite enabled by Monty Williams – the only coach he has ever played for before being traded to the Clippers last year by his father Doc Rivers. Under his father, Rivers shot a career-high 42.7 percent from the field and had some shockingly good performances in the playoffs that actually made you wonder if you’ve had it all wrong about the guy.

Objectively, Rivers probably isn’t better than most on the roster from Thursday as of right now. Still, if that’s what he wants to believe, there’s nothing necessarily wrong with that, particularly if it drives him to want to become better (that clearly is the case if he wants to become MIP).

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No. 4: Kobe schools D’Angelo (smiley face) — This one is pretty self-explanatory, a moment or two between new teammates Kobe Bryant and No. 2 draft pick D’Angelo Russell played out in social media. Apparently inspired after watching some of former NBA All-Star and scoring champ Tracy McGrady‘s exploits, Russell lavished some Twitter praise on the former Orlando and Houston star. Bryant then reined in Russell’s enthusiasm a bit:

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SOME RANDOM HEADLINES: Michael Jordan’s name and image are worth millions, and yet a bootleg grocery ad didn’t sell much meat with it. … Minnesota’s Andrew Wiggins probably has been working out harder than you. … If you’re still digesting the massive NBA schedule served up all at once Wednesday, here’s a primer on the best of the best that might help. … Clippers forward Blake Griffin, not bad as a power forward and a commercial pitch man, talks about yet another role: Web site story editor. … Griffin, in case you missed it, also had some of the most interesting thoughts among the Team USA players who talked about the relative appeal of Olympic gold medals vs. NBA championship rings. …

28 Comments

  1. Dubsfan says:

    Sekou, it was nice that you explained what a GOAT is, but the article would have been better if you explained what a MIP is!

  2. lolman says:

    lebron nice move, i’m sure this is an heart one, not a ‘look what i do” move.
    rivers stfu, kobe same thing.
    team usa, sure you will be fine.
    who is HOTHOTHOT for the season to begin

  3. Leon says:

    People forget that in the NBA chemistry is very important, Tracey was a good scorer but to say that he was better than MJ, KB, LBJ. is a very big stretch one he never played defense, two he had very low stamina and couldn’t last going down the stretch in most of the games, then if you look at the number of games played he wouldn’t even be considered. The knock on Rivers is unfair because he needs to get playing time and even on his fathers team there was very little time. He can play and if given the right opportunities I think he will be a fine player. For those that think Kobe was not as good look at his highlights he is the player you want on your team if you want to win. He often willed his team to win either offensively or defensively in many cases both ways much like MJ did and if you pay attention to records and stats MJ and KB are 1 and 2. If Kobe is healthy I have know doubt that he will be playing for the USA team. I think people need to pay attention the year the Lakers with this young team might just make the playoffs if Kobe is Kobe.

  4. Surely this qualifies as irony... says:

    … Kobe isn’t even the GLOAT!

  5. ralph says:

    KOBE IS THE GOAT! IF TMAC WAS NEVER INJURED HE WOULD OF BEEN EASLY TOP 5 offensive player . kobe way better on deffence. KOBE IS TE TRUE GOAT HE HES NO FLAUD IN THE GAME OF BASKETBALL! PERIod!.

  6. vincent says:

    what’s in his link? the page is gone.

  7. Bruh says:

    Bruh Austin Rivers is straight up TRASH, Victor Oladipo may not be able to shoot nearly as well but in clutch situations i’d take him over Rivers. NO argument, we all saw what happened when Rivers tried to be clutch in the game against the Rockets I mean the dude fell on his face. Oladipo made a clutch 360 dunk (wide open, but still better than falling on his face) and is a way better defender. NO contest.

  8. George says:

    Tmac in his prime was more talented than Kobe. What made Kobe a better player was that he never took a play off on offense or defense. Tmac always took plays off on defense. Now for the person that said they would take Tmac over Kobe, I could understand, I would too, atleast on offense. Now to say that you would take him over MJ, wow that is true insanity. Tmac definitely could have been a hall of fame player, unfortunately his career were shorten by injuries.

  9. Kwame Brown says:

    Wow, Austin Rivers is clearly better than me, but aside from that he isn’t too special

  10. Kal says:

    T-Mac is healthy in 2009? Kobe only has 4 rings..

  11. TKaminaga says:

    Love TMac – just a shame that his career was marred with injuries. Has the height, the length, the athletic abilities, the skills & the will – was on bad teams unfortunately.

  12. Kobe is top five greatest of all time. How dare u say most ppl are better than him

    #Mamba got ringsssss

  13. Eric G says:

    I believe Tmac was the better player when Kobe and him were in their prime

  14. anothercavsfan says:

    Tracy McGrady may not be the GOAT, but he’s many people’s favorite of all time, mine included.

    I’ll take T-mac over LBJ, Kobe , and MJ any day of the week. Watching T-mac try to will his underdog teams past the first round of the playoffs year after year was something that was both exciting to watch and also something I found inspiring (sometimes you do your best and still fall in life but it’s all about the struggle and you’ve just gotta keep trying).

    It’s unfortunate that his career was limited by injuries, but (in my view at least) it takes nothing away from his greatness.

    And one of my favorite NBA highlights of all time was his crazy 13 points in 33 seconds against the Spurs. It’s the perfect example of NBA being “Where amazing happens”, and it made me love the game that much more.

    T-mac should be inducted into the hall of fame for that highlight alone which they’ve turned into one of the best NBA ads of all time.

  15. reggohllabam'i llabehtemevig says:

    there won’t be any shocking the world coming from the flakers. time to retire kobe

  16. Nick says:

    Austin Rivers wouldn’t even be playing if it wasn’t for his father. He is terrible on defense – looks like his feet are stuck to the floor – and mediocre at best offensively. In my opinion, Doc’s move to get his son was purely selfish and not in the best interests of his team.

  17. Space Cowboy says:

    That same guy you guys are clowning and saying he isn’t better than any of the players on that list, was a MVP candidate in college and has squared off with NBA players since he was 16. He crossed over and scored on John Wall when he was a senior in high school, so stop all the disrespect. He is definitely more TALENTED than CJ Watson and Arron Afflalo who are NBA vets and have defined roles that they play well. The potential is there. He needs to refine his game; stop dribbling so much and make one or two moves on your opponent rather than 3 or 4, be more consistent shooting, make better decisions with the ball and finish better with your left hand. The thing he doesn’t understand is that in the NBA if you’re not a superstar then you need to define a role for yourself. Austin doesn’t have a role, but he’s suited to come off the bench, slash, and score. He doesn’t have great size at the 2 which is his natural position and he’s not particularly explosive so it’s not going to happen overnight. I’m not going to say he’s better than any of those guys but I don’t have a problem with him wanting to prove that he is. He just probably should’ve kept his comments to himself.

  18. angasmo says:

    Rivers, always a whiner and complainer during games!! Not nice. Be humble for a change.

  19. birdie says:

    Good point about the mixed messages. Neither Kobe nor Rose should be allowed to play, since neither showed up. And neither is as good as other available players anymore anyway.

  20. Lucas says:

    I had a buddy try and tell me Austin is good. One game one one series. That’s it besides college. He hasn’t proven anything. I bet prigioni plays more than rivers next year.

  21. rico says:

    If Austin Rivers (or anyone else) thinks that Austin Rivers is better than anyone on that list they are higher than I am…

  22. Money Mike says:

    I have absolutely NO problem with Austin Rivers feeling like he’s better than those guards who played in that scrimmage. He averaged 16.8 points and 3.5 rebounds per 36 minutes on 37.1% three-point shooting in 14 playoff games last year. Afflalo, Elfrid Payton, and Victor Oladipo don’t have nearly his resume. Afflalo is closest after posting per 36 numubers of 11.7 points and 3.4 rebounds on 25.8% three-point shooting in 35 playoff games. CJ Watson’s playoff stats read similar to Afflalo’s. So, as bad as people might think Austin Rivers is, Afflalo, Oladipo, Payton, and Watson are not better than him.

  23. Ruggerman says:

    Austin Rivers ….. by opening your big mouth, you put a target on your back ! YOU will have to bring more consistency every game; not just when you feel like it to run with the players you said you were better than. Personally, I don’t think you can do it !

    • Mike says:

      He had 1 good game in the playoffs and now he thinks he is good? I hope he can back it up this season, if not Doc needs to trade him, no idea why he even wanted him in the first place. Oh wait, they are father and son.