Morning shootaround — Dec. 6


VIDEO: The Fast Break — Nov. 5

NEWS OF THE MORNING

Steph Curry, the biggest entertainer of this generation? | Jerry Colangelo not ready to hand Kobe a Team USA spot | Paul Pierce speaks on the struggling Clippers

No. 1: Steph Curry, the biggest entertainer of this generation? Steph Curry is on the verge of winning back-to-back MVPs (and maybe championships) if this keeps up, as the Warriors rolled into Brooklyn for Sunday’s game riding a 21-game winning streak to start the season. And Steph is the league’s leading scorer — he had 44 against the Raptors on Saturday — and doing plenty to keep the Warriors in the win column. Question: Would you put him into the Hall of Fame right now if he suddenly retired? I had that discussion with a few writers the other day. Another question: Where does he rank, right now, in this generation? From an entertaining standpoint, Tim Kawakami of the Mercury News is ready to elevate Curry at or near the top:

That’s the unique power of what Curry is doing these days with the 20-0 Warriors — it’s far beyond his team affiliation or the normal demographics of this sport.

He’s NBA Elvis. Today’s Jesse Owens. He’s the new thing that blows away all existing limits and boundaries.

So yes, the victories are important. Last season’s championship and Curry’s MVP award were crowning milestones, no doubt.

And Curry’s poise and grace throughout it all — his connection to his teammates, coaches and fans — serve as the largest exclamation points to his ascension.

But as a cultural barometer, the specific Curry Moments — most recently, his incredible 28-point third-quarter performance Wednesday in Charlotte — are essentially stand-alone landmarks.

We watch. He plays. The night turns electric.

Brent Barry, a 14-year NBA veteran and now a national TV analyst, says his 9-year-old son asks him one thing every afternoon: “Is Steph playing tonight?” And on Wednesday they were another witness for Curry.

“He won’t miss games,” Barry said of his son, “just like Steph won’t miss shots.”

The NBA, of course, is not lacking for immense, compelling talents — starting with LeBron James and continuing through Kevin Durant, Tim Duncan, Russell Westbrook, Draymond Green and James Harden, among others.

But there is something different about Curry right now, in his prime (27, in his seventh NBA season) and accelerating his game well past even last season’s MVP dominance.

As future Hall of Famer Kevin Garnett suggested a few weeks ago, Curry is treading upon sacred NBA territory — where only Michael Jordan recently has tread.

With Curry and the Warriors at the forefront, lethal long-distance shooting has become basketball’s most potent force, and Curry proves it every game. “Like Michael Jordan was a whole other thing, this guy is his own thing,” Garnett told reporters Nov. 12. “It’s beautiful for basketball.”

Curry, who scored 40 points in only 30 minutes on Wednesday, now has six games of 40 points or more this season. The last player to do that in his team’s first 20 games: Jordan in 1986.

But this is not close to the same thing, because Jordan and Curry represent different levels of NBA invincibility.

In his prime, Jordan attacked the rim and defied gravity; Curry seems to exist in a dimension without it.

He just calmly places himself and the basketball wherever he wants while all other players whirl and tumble haphazardly around him.

NBA legend Jerry West, a Warriors executive, said the most notable part of Curry’s career track is that he works so hard in the off-season and keeps taking enormous strides.

“I think he’s going to create a new kind of player to be honest with you,” West said. “I think before it’s all said and done, here’s a guy that’s going to make his own place in history in a completely different manner than these other players have done.”

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No. 2:   Team USA boss Jerry Colangelo not ready to hand Kobe a spot — You would think there would be lots of sentiment to put Kobe Bryant on Team USA in Rio next year purely because, from an accomplishment standpoint, Kobe has earned the right to be seriously considered. Call it a career achievement award, and also, as an American, Kobe has been at the forefront of international basketball from an active player’s standpoint. Anyway, not so fast. Jerry Colangelo said Kobe must earn a spot, which is hard to imagine Kobe doing at this stage of his career. Sam Amick of USA Today sat down with Colangelo about Kobe:

Colangelo, who barely missed his chance to take Bryant in the 1996 draft when he was running the Phoenix Suns, certainly has a soft spot for the future Hall of Famer. He discusses not only the Olympic decision here, but their relationship and a few memories inspired by Bryant’s retirement announcement.

Colangelo on Bryant’s interest …

“When I was approached originally about Kobe’s interest in potentially playing in the Olympics — this goes back early last summer, I guess, or spring — and the concept being that it would be great to end a career, win a gold medal and ride off into the sunset. That was just thrown my way by his agent, Rob Pelinka. I just took it in and I said, ‘Rob, I don’t rule anyone out, but it has got to be based on performance because there’s so many people who want (to be on the team) — everyone wants to be on the roster.’ So he says, ‘Well, absolutely, and that’s how Kobe feels. He wants to earn it.’ Well then a month later, the two of us were in New York at an NBA function, and Kobe and I had a chance to visit, and we talked about the same thing. He reiterated his interest, but also the fact that he didn’t want any gifts, that he wanted to — if he wasn’t capable of earning it, by his performance, then that was that.

“So just recently, with his announcement of retirement, some people have come back to me (on the topic). Nothing has changed for me. Again, the same criteria exists, which is (a player’s performance) this season. So we’ll just look at this season. And I know where he has struggled, and it’s not the same…but there are some people having really outstanding years.”

On sacrificing a spot for Bryant based largely on the sentimental component and the fact that a) the 12th man won’t play much and b) Team USA will be heavily favored to win gold regardless of who fills that spot …

“Let’s just put it this way: on one hand, you have what you just proposed. On the other hand, if someone is left off the team, like Kawhi Leonard or Paul George — and I’m just using names — for that purpose, then you have to weigh that fairness, to some degree. That’s all. So it’s not an easy call, and it’s one that I don’t have to make for quite some time. And I’m going to stick to that. I’ve got plenty of time. With out further ado …

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No. 3: Paul Pierce says the Clippers need time — We’re all surprised by the Clippers struggling in the West. This is a veteran team, one with a dynamic duo in Chris Paul and Blake Griffin, one coached by Doc Rivers. And yet, Paul Pierce, the championship-tested forward who was brought in to add a killer mentality to the locker room, says the Clippers need time to get it right. Um, OK. Gary Washburn of the Boston Globe has more from The Truth:

The Clippers were 10-9 through Friday, 9½ games behind the undefeated Warriors. What’s more troubling is that the Clippers’ struggles have occurred despite a home-heavy schedule. Los Angeles has played the most home games in the NBA, yet it can’t gain any consistency, getting drubbed by Indiana on Wednesday after a three-game winning streak.

Pierce has seen this before. The 2009-10 Celtics were the fourth seed in the Eastern Conference before making a run to the NBA Finals. He is hardly one to panic, but there appears to be so much pressure on Chris Paul, Blake Griffin, and DeAndre Jordan (none of whom have played in an NBA Finals) to carry the Clippers to unprecedented heights.

“I know we got the talent in here, we got all the pieces to put it together,” Pierce said. “People don’t understand we put together eight, nine new players. So it’s not always going to be easy like the team we put together where the chemistry is there right away. We’re still trying to find our chemistry but we know that the talent is here and what we’re capable of.

“I think everybody understands that we’ve got the talent that could do something special.”

Pierce has been a team leader and voice of reason, attempting to hammer home the message that championships aren’t won in November and December, and slow starts are sometimes indicative of a team that needs more time to develop cohesion.

“We’re experiencing [tough times] but the key is not getting frustrated,” he said. “Not getting bored, not getting tired of one another. Just keeping everybody’s spirits up. It’s a long season. We’re going to be a different team in another month or two months from now and a different team once playoffs come. Understand that it’s a process.

“These guys are who they are but I’m still going to be me, get to practice early, get my shots up, get my weights in, that’s going to be me until I’m done.”

As in his previous two stops after 15 years in Boston — Brooklyn and Washington — Pierce is off to a slow start. He is shooting 31.8 percent from the field and averaging a career-low 4.8 points. Murmurs that Pierce was done could be heard last year with the Wizards before he warmed up in the second half of the season and became their best clutch shooter.

“Physically I feel great,” Pierce said. “Doc does a really good job; I haven’t played a lot of minutes. I haven’t had to really deal with the physical grind of the practices. My body feels good. I just want to be able to leave this game on two feet, walking straight.”

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SOME RANDOM HEADLINES: Wizards center Marcin Gortat will miss some time due to his mother’s illness … The Blazers are doing something bold and going with Noah Vonleh, who once was a lottery pick, as the starting power forward … Here’s a name to remember for Sixth Man of the Year candidate: Will Barton, who is turning heads in Denver … Meanwhile, the guy who might be the best at coming off the bench, Isaiah Thomas, has a big fan in Celtics coach Brad Stevens

29 Comments

  1. johnnytc1 says:

    no Kobe, you retired you had your time. thanks for the memories. I hope you stay home and enjoy the olympics. please take da king with you. we don’t want him disgracing the USA like he does his team and management. he might get tired and ask to sit out some games.

  2. Hca9 says:

    Hello? Time for the overrated coach to step aside.I don’t know why no one is even questioning it. The guy won once with the original Big 3 and he becomes a elite coach? Sorry – get Luke Walton . 22-0

  3. sanjay says:

    gsw may not lose at all this season. they do not have 20 mil plus pay roll guy. this let them have a balanced team where every guy is very athletic and fast and young! they can knock down shots at any time. the nba is soft and they have no idea how to guard curry. the guards are normally less intelligent than him and not so nimble and now it is getting exposed. So there is no stopping curry. He can shoot 15, 3 points and make them at will– with eyes closed from 30 feet!

    i have not seen any guy keeping him checked all his minutes. There is no double teaming him and let others make the shots. this is only way to stop this rampage. But the solution wont be found so soon as there is no personal to guard him at this point.
    It looks like GSW is walking away with the trophy without losing a game at all this season!

  4. Andrew says:

    Kobe is a legend, no doubt, bu he doesn’t deserve a place in All Stars, let alone Olympic spot. It’s funny last time, collengelo asked him to play in Olympic, he turned it down, but now Kobe asked for it, sorry, pleaded?!? That’s what life is. Grab a chance, when u still had it. Like u said u r the 200th something player in the ranking now. Lakers had a chance to give his salary to someone else more worthy, but he took it for himself, not thinking about the organization, which has been crippled. LA is no longer lakers, but clippers. Nevertheless, he is still a legend.

  5. Antonio Perez says:

    you are blaming the poor man ,when is clearly not his fault , look at the frustration is his face , that tells the story , no player it doesn’t matter how good you are can play with all this emotions and problem going around in his head , Michael Jordan was great but the wizard were a bad team and they wasn’t at Jordan level that’s why Jordan didn’t win any championship with the wizards much less got to the playoff even having the great Michael Jordan in the team , well this is exactly what is happening to kobe right now , his team is not good enough the same goes for the coach , put KB in a better team in a contender team and the story will change , he will play much better and that frustrated look from his face will be gone , he wasn’t planing on retiring but when he saw that his team is no good and they are being embarrased , he couldn’t take it anymore , and i think he is trying to execute plan B , since he can’t win another nba ring , he is trying to get an olympic gold medal , i never like kobe but let the man go with dignity , i’m sure when he was in his prime everybody wanted him on the team , and now that his gears are wearing off because he is older you want him out , i will laugh if they pick him and he score the winning basket for the gold medal , then everybody love kobe , there are the fans of the sport and there are hypocrites , you only like and love the player when they are on top of the world once they fall down to earth is just another human , case closed

  6. George Tolik says:

    the usa winn
    the olympics gold in average points per game 30.0 points.. thays the truth.. this is a basketball dream team nation..the best players in the world and the best athletes in basketball for the fans in the world comes from america and thats good for the nba and the fans..in the 2002 -2006 i have not respecht in this time for the nba because the nba players lost in 3 competition because he never brings the best players together..

  7. reginald connors says:

    I love Kobe Bryant! And right now today,if you dislike Kobe he’s giving you a great early Christmas gift. H.no, he hasn’t earned a spot on the usa or all-star teams,and I would vote no if I had a vote. And, I am such a huge Kobe fan that I had to see a therapist in order to stop going mad every time I heard or read one sentence of negative comments about Kobe. But for the record, if Kobe does make both teams it won’t be all about rewarding Kobe.It’s a business, and with him more millions than without him. Internationally Kobe is a huge superstar.China, well let’s just say that no player,including Yao ming and MJ is a bigger star.This was true when Yao ming was still playing.I think the name Kobe comes from China? Here is something that may shock you.The top earning NBA team in the last 3+ years is the lakers-wow! Even right now the Lakers, and others are earning money with this old ball hog,bad shooting mega superstar. So,it is okay-i guess to hate Kobe. Here’s something’s you need to be great in B ball. Hard work, fitness,strength,focus,knowledge, ball handle, jumping,scoring in more ways than one,no fear, short memory after good and bad nights,and defend at highest level. There’s people in HOF that had some of these things. If you can move away from your dislikes a few minutes, go to the video tapes,you will see that for 2/3 of Kobe’s career he had them all nightly! I’m begging anyone to find five players in the history of this game that you can rate higher than Kobe in this most important aspect of the game. Wow! I just talked about the greatness of Kobe Bryant without saying a word about his accomplishments. I drank the kool-aid when twice 30mins after flying from another state’s court for the charge of rape, he gave his fans 50+point performances.Listen, I can not hate entertainers that don’t know I’m even alive.I can turn the channel. But, if I love basketball there is no way I can not give Kobe what he has earned five years ago:he’s one of the top 5 to ever play the game.This fact won’t change no matter how poorly he continues to shoot, or not making USA, and all-star teams.The great,great ones in all sports,usually stick around too long.So, all haters, if you live long enough,you will apologize to yourself.

  8. Scottie P says:

    There will hardly ever be another player like Jordan because while he was playing, the league adapted and defense evolved to stop him. The league basically because a Jordan stopper, which is why Kobe could never reach the level of Jordan. He copied a lot of his moves, which the league was prepared to defend.

    Curry is a totally different player than Jordan. He is a new type of player that the league is trying to adapt to; trying to evolve to stop him. By the time the league adapts to Curry, maybe then there could be another Jordan.

  9. JK says:

    Can’t believe Kobe and his agent brought up the topic themselves… shame on them. The fact that you were a legendary player does not mean you can still act like a boss for the olympics. What about other players? Feel like Kobe is just doing a farewell tour at the expense of other fans.

  10. Joe Gallagher says:

    Curry palms the ball non-stop. He’s changing the rules of the pro game. Its really a form of stopping your dribble.

  11. Rob says:

    It’s crazy with Steph Curry right now. At the moment he’s on to score over 400 three pointers this season and consider, the single season record which he holds is 286. Also I don’t remember anyone being able to shoot that fast before.

  12. tonichi says:

    On Kobe: Why not have a spot for him. Colangelo had a spot for Derek Rose, even if he was useless, then !!!

  13. None Of The Above says:

    It’s obvious that Kobe Bryant will not get near to earning a spot on the team. Unfortunately the feeling is that because it’s Bryant he will get a spot anyway. I will though have respect for Jerry Colangelo if he sees sense and goes against bringing him in.

  14. Victor says:

    Don’t worry Kobe will help everyone and likely get hurt and be ineligible…

  15. Antonio Perez says:

    i always thought that nobody hated kobe more than me but now i see i was wrong , c’mon i never like the guy because he copied Jordan. i understand everybody’s points , i know he is a ball hog , i know the US is not charity organization but one thing is for sure he got more experience than the rest of guys , internationally speaking , and at this time it doesn’t really matters the USA NBA olympic team already lost their invincible aura when they lost to Spain , Argentina and PR , is not like they are the original dream team and they are unbeateable , who’s fault it is , who don’t allowed the nba players to play tough phisical defense , that’s why they lost because is all about scoring and no defense , the only original and truth dream play both sides of the floor , sorry for my bad english but i think is understandable , a piece of gum is good for a short time as long as it got flavor once the flavor is gone spit it out , that’s how you are treating KB now , how grateful , and this is coming from a kobe hater

  16. Me says:

    Why not just let the warriors play in the olympics.. no seriiously.. it would be a complete dismantling of other nations… they are doing to the nba what the origonal dream team did to the olympics

  17. Reggohllabami says:

    No, the ball hog should not be on the Olympic team, especially if he continues to struggle or if he gets injured.

  18. Julio says:

    Put Kobe in USA Olympics roster and they will not get even a Bronze

  19. He Deserves it! says:

    He should definitely be on the team.He is probably the most experienced guy and his experience would surely help the young fellas to keep playing at the high level.I mean common Curry ,James,KD can beat most of the teams by themself, having Kobe even being on the roster is something that US can absolutely afford.Never mind ,how would Kobe feel being on the olympics for one more time(possibly winning another medal).It is something that he deserves after being a role model for all of these superstars nowdays.

    • Reggohllabami says:

      Sorry, HE DOES NOT DESERVE IT. This is not the sentimental value awards. Enough of the worship

      • HeyItsRaul says:

        Ahhh Kobe has proven he knows the game of basketball… even if he is not playing like he used to his experience, tricks and drive is something the team can benefit from. Besides kobe is the most respected NBA player in the world even more than Jordan. (example China, Spain)

  20. George Tolik says:

    the best player in the world right now is curry…why the last night the poll who do you think is the near mvp this saison exclude curry don t play??because all the people in the world see that le bron james is not in the list…curry is top in the world right now…. the olympic team in 2016 is.. curry,paul george,leonard,westbrook,le bron james,kevin durant,griffin,anthony davis,harden,kyle lowry,aldridge,cousins..this is the 12 players right now..

  21. Antonio Perez says:

    i’m not a KB fan in fact i”m a KB hater but he deserve to be in the olympic team one last time before his retirement , that’s how they reward and repay a player that dedicated 20 years of his life giving glory to this sport by living him out , they can use defense as an excuse almost 99.99% of the active NBA player don’t play D “defense” , so KB can still be part of the team because of his offense
    or a least put him in the bench and let him play a minute or 2 , if that is how the treat their legends forget about it count me out , give the men some respect

  22. Wallie says:

    The USA Basketball team is not a charity organisation. If Kobe continues to play at this awfull level, he has absolutely no right to be selected. I don’t care about his past achievements, it would not be beneficial for the team and plain unfair for the player which gets cut because of it.

  23. Marty says:

    Huge mistake to put KB on the Olympic squad. I’d like to know who would not make it if he was added. Just go back to 2012 when he would play solo ball and coach K would bench him in close games.

    • Me says:

      Go back to 08 when he carried team USA to the gold over spain. go back to 04 when he didn’t play and the USA looked like rookies. LBJ couldn’t get it done.

      • Ollie says:

        Once you start refferencing his contributions from over a decade ago i am afraid you lose all credibility…

  24. I would expect that Kobe Bryant will not face further humiliation by “earning his spot” to play alongside the likes of a Russell Westbrook, Kevin Durant, Paul George and Lebron James. Stop the madness. Nobody will have to worry, he will back out people.