Hang Time One-On-One

The buzz is back in Charlotte (video)

By Sekou Smith, NBA.com

HANG TIME HEADQUARTERS — Steve Clifford didn’t make any promises when he took the job. He didn’t make any public declarations about where he was going to take the Charlotte Bobcats this season.

He vowed to do whatever it took to make things better, to serve as an agent of change in whatever way he could. It’s a vow that resonated with his players. He won them over, one by one, with his belief that they could be better than what they had been before, with a belief in them individually and as a collective.

Al Jefferson bought in from the start. Kemba Walker, Gerald Henderson and Michael Kidd-Gilchrist did, too. All of the Bobcats (and soon to be Hornets) believe now. They’ve already clinched the second playoff berth in Bobcats history, delivering on owner Michael Jordan‘s edict to restore the order in basketball-mad North Carolina, his home state.

There’s new life in Charlotte for the Bobcats and especially the Hornets. The buzz is back on Tobacco Road. But it has nothing to do with the storied college programs at Duke, North Carolina, Wake Forest and North Carolina State.

March Madness is over. It’s playoff time and the Bobcats will take center stage in the days and weeks ahead …

VIDEO: There is new life in Charlotte thanks to the Bobcats (Hornets) grinding their way back to the playoffs

Hang Time one-on-one … with Giannis Antetokounmpo

HANG TIME HEADQUARTERS — Giannis Antetokounmpo gives new meaning to the phrase “pleasant surprise” in a league where there are usually few surprises in terms of player personnel.

There hasn’t been a legitimate Draft stunner since Tony Parker went from a promising international prospect plucked near the end of the first round to perennial All-Star, Finals MVP for the San Antonio Spurs and future Hall of Famer.

It’s probably too soon to go predicting that sort of career arc for the youngest player in the league right now, but no one can deny that Antetokounmpo is a fast-rising star and the clear steal of the 2013 Draft class. The Milwaukee Bucks snatched a potential future superstar with the 15th pick.

The “Greek Freak” joined for the  latest installment of our Hang Time One-On-One series to talk about his game, his role, what he knew about Milwaukee before the Bucks drafted him and what he thinks of comparisons to current superstars like Oklahoma City Thunder MVP candidate Kevin Durant and much more:

VIDEO: The Greek Freak is truly a rising star for the Milwaukee Bucks

Hang Time One-On-One … with Reggie Jackson

HANG TIME HEADQUARTERS — Reggie Jackson knew it wasn’t his job to hold on to forever. He knew Russell Westbrook would be back and that his role would change, yet again. Any young point guard in Oklahoma City has to know his role.

But not every young point guard would excel the way Jackson has this season in Westbrook’s absence. The Thunder didn’t miss a beat this season with Jackson at the controls (they went 22-8 without Westbrook in action), and in fact, they were just as good or better in nearly every category with Jackson in the starting five. For his part, Jackson averaged 14.4 points, 4.9 assists, 3.6 rebounds and 1.5 steals in 30 starting assignments.

With Westbrook back, though, Jackson shifts back to his role off the bench and becomes a key cog in the Thunder machine led by Kevin Durant, Westbrook and Serge Ibaka, that will square off against the Los Angeles Clippers Sunday afternoon (1 p.m. ET, ABC). 

Thunder coach Scott Brooks has a quality insurance policy in Jackson, who joined us during All-Star Weekend for the  latest installment of our Hang Time One-On-One series to talk about his game, his role, learning how to work the right way in Oklahoma City, where the Thunder are headed and much more:

VIDEO: Thunder point guard Reggie Jackson personifies the “next man up” mantra in OKC

Fan Night 1-On-1 Finals: LeBron Vs KD

VIDEO: LeBron James discusses the prospects of a 1-on-1 matchup with Kevin Durant

NEW ORLEANS — What better stage for the finals of the biggest 1-On-1 tournament in basketball than All-Star Weekend 2014?

The lights are brightest here. No stage is greater. And we definitely couldn’t find two bigger stars to battle it out for the NBA TV Fan Night 1-On-1 Tournament title than reigning two-time MVP and Finals MVP LeBron James and three-time scoring champ Kevin Durant.

This clash of basketball titans pits the two players who have been at the center of non-stop MVP debates throughout the past two years. Whatever separation existed between the two in the recent past has dissipated as Durant’s game has grown and matured. The fury has reached a fever pitch, however, this season thanks to Durant’s mercurial season.

Anyone willing to completely dismiss Durant’s chances of defeating James in a 1-On-1 matchup clearly has not paid attention the work KD has done this season. He’s LeBron’s equal in almost every statistical category and is a better and more complete scorer than the man considered the be the best and most complete player in the game.

All that said, you can’t just mess with the King. You have to knock him out to pay for his spot. Durant knows that better than anyone and has made it clear on several occasions that he is fed up with finishing second to LeBron.

This is truly a flip of the coin matchup. LeBron fans will swear their guys is indestructible. Durant’s fans will swear it’s time for a new king. You all have time to vote, it ends tonight after the playing of the 63rd All-Star Game at Smoothie King Center.

Dive in here …

Since the league is experimenting with the All-Star Saturday night events and there is a bit of a transition period right now with new NBA Commissioner Adam Silver, this might be as good a time as any to bring up this new event for next year in New York. In the meantime, discuss and debate the prospects of the leading two players in the league battling it out for the title in the NBA TV Fan Night 1-On-1 Tournament.

That even would be the spectacle of the weekend and have everyone talking. KD (below) and LeBron (above) are certainly talking about it …

VIDEO: Kevin Durant talks about his potential matchup with LeBron James

NBA TV’s Fan Night 1-On-1 … The Final Four: LeBron Vs DRose And KD Vs Kobe

VIDEO: LeBron James shows off some of his finest above-the-rim moves … after practice

HANG TIME HEADQUARTERS — We’re down to the wire now in NBA TV’s Fan Night 1-On-1 Tournament, and that means only best of the best are still in contention for the title.

That list starts with Oklahoma City Thunder star Kevin Durant, the current frontrunner for MVP honors this season, and the reigning two-time MVP and Finals MVP LeBron James. Only they won’t matchup in the Final Four four of this tournament. Durant faces off against Kobe Bryant in one semifinal while LeBron squares off with Derrick Rose. They both already own MVP hardware.

Claiming this title, however, won’t be easy for any of them, not in a 1-On-1 tournament where we are matching up the skills of each player in his prime against that of another player of equal or greater ability.

Durant has a distinct height advantage over Kobe and might be the only player of this generation whose competitive fire rivals that of the Los Angeles Lakers’ great. As great as Kobe has been throughout his career, I could easily see Durant as the superior player in a 1-On-1 setting …

Rose, for all of his fury when healthy, is simply no match for a player with LeBron’s unique combination of size, skill and otherworldly athleticism (check the video up top … we’re talking about practice?). Rose would make this interesting for a while, but LeBron is just too good and too powerful with a “mouse in the house.” …

 You need to get in on the conversation on who would win via social media (Tweet @NBATV #1on1LeBron or #1on1Rose and #1on1Durant or #1on1Kobe). The results will be announced during NBA TV’s postgame coverage of tonight’s the Fan Night game between Durant’s Thunder and the Portland Trail Blazers (10 p.m. ET, NBA TV) by NBA TV’s Matt Winer, Greg Anthony and Chris Webber.

VIDEO: Kevin Durant does it all for the Oklahoma City Thunder

Hang Time One-On-one … With Lance Stephenson

HANG TIME HEADQUARTERS — Lance Stephenson didn’t hear his name called when the Eastern Conference All-Star reserves were announced. It was yet another humbling moment for a player who has experienced his fair share during the early stages of his NBA career.

Stephenson, the Indiana Pacers’ blossoming star guard, leads the NBA in triple-doubles and has expanded his game over the past three years. He’s far from a finished product and at 23 is one of the league’s more interesting young talents, a player with plenty of promise but also one who must continue smoothing out the rough edges.

The Brooklyn native, who has been famous at Rucker Park (where he’s known as “Born Ready”) for over a decade, joins us in the latest installment of our Hang Time One-On-One series to talk about his where his game is now, the influence of Larry Bird, the Pacers’ rivals from South Beach and more:

VIDEO: Lance Stephenson’s evolution in his own words, and much more, in this HT One-On-One

Fan Night 1-On-1: Kobe Vs Westbrook

VIDEO: Kobe Bryant goes hard for his 81 points against the Raptors

HANG TIME HEADQUARTERS — What do you get when you pair up two of the most competitive human beings to pick up a basketball and tell them it’s a one-on-one game, winner take all?

How about an epic clash of the guard titans between Kobe Bryant and Russell Westbrook, backcourt stars of the past, present and future in this week’s installment of NBA TV’s Fan Night 1-on-1 Tournament.

Of course, this is the only place we’re going to dissect the battle between two of the most dynamic players in the league, because both Bryant and Westbrook are out with injuries right now for their respective teams. (The Lakers could use Bryant and a clone or two, or three, to get back into the Western Conference playoff mix while the Oklahoma City Thunder are rocking along just fine without Westbrook, thanks to Kevin Durant.)

Kobe in his prime was a diabolical sort, an absolute offensive assassin with the ability to shred you by air or land and the skill set to beat you inside or out. He’d take advantage of Westbrook, a physical marvel for his size but a “mouse in Kobe’s house” down low.

As much as I love Westbrook’s fearlessness, I cannot pick against the Black Mamba in this one … 

Dive in on the conversation on who would win via social media (Tweet @NBATV #1on1Kobe or #1on1Westbrook). The results will be announced during NBA TV’s postgame coverage of the Fan Night game between the surprising Phoenix Suns and the Chicago Bulls (9 p.m. ET, NBA TV) by TNT’s and NBA TV’s Ernie Johnson, Greg Anthony and Chris Webber.

VIDEO: Russell Westbrook messed around and got a triple-double

Fan Night 1-On-1: D-Rose vs. Kyrie

VIDEO: Kyrie Irving is an Eastern Conference All-Star starter this season

HANG TIME HEADQUARTERS — They were supposed to be the future at the point guard position, rivals for years to come. But things don’t always work out the way they are supposed to. And for Chicago Bulls star Derrick Rose and Cleveland Cavaliers star Kyrie Irving, we’ve never had the division rivals healthy enough simultaneously to really compare and contrast their games in real-time.

Thankfully for all of us, we get to make our theoretical comparisons between the two with NBA TV’s Fan Night 1-on-1 Tournament, and we’re down to the final stages with this matchup.

Take both of these guys at their best and it’s a magical pairing, two young and explosive players with games different enough that the beauty of their matchup would be found in the contrast. Rose attacks the rim and finishes as well as any player at the position but might not be as crafty with the ball as Irving, whose handle and deep shooting range set him apart from the pack.

It’s as even as any matchup we’ve seen during the Fan Night 1-On-1 Tournament:

Join the conversation on who would win via social media (Tweet @NBATV #1on1Rose or #1on1Kyrie). The results will be announced during NBA TV’s postgame coverage of the Fan Night game between the San Antonio Spurs and Houston Rockets (8 p.m. ET, NBA TV) by TNT’s and NBA TV’s Ernie Johnson, Greg Anthony, my main man Rick Fox and Chris Webber (via FaceTime).

VIDEO: Derrick Rose goes off during the exhibition season for the Bulls

Fan Night 1-On-1: KD Vs Melo = Fireworks!

VIDEO: So far, so good in 2014 for Thunder forward Kevin Durant

HANG TIME HEADQUARTERS — The two greatest pure scorers in the game today, squaring off in a one-on-one game?


We’d get all that and more from Oklahoma City Thunder superstar Kevin Durant and New York Knicks superstar Carmelo Anthony, the combatants in this latest installment of the NBA TV Fan Night 1-on-1 Tournament.

There’s no way you play this game, hypothetical or otherwise, in the make-it, take-it format. Because the first person to get the ball might never give it up. That’s how good both of these guys are. That’s how prolific they both are with the ball in their hands.

The physical and skill matchup between these two is arguably the best of any we’ve seen thus far. The only other guy capable of going into that otherworldly assassin/scorer zone that Durant has been in so often here lately is ‘Melo, whose Knicks could use some of those performance from their leader right now.

But this isn’t necessarily about the Thunder or the Knicks. This is about the respective faces of those franchises and what kind of havoc they cold reach on each other  in NBA TV’s Fan Night 1-On-1 Tournament:

Join the conversation on who would win via social media (Tweet @NBATV #1on1Durant or #1on1Melo). The results will be announced during NBA TV’s postgame coverage of the Fan Night game between the Miami Heat and Boston Celtics (7:30 p.m. ET, NBA TV) by TNT’s and NBA TV’s Ernie Johnson, Chris Webber and Greg Anthony.

VIDEO: Carmelo Anthony puts in work as the Knicks knock off the two-time defending champion Heat

Fan Night 1-On-1: LeBron Vs Steph Curry

VIDEO: Steph Curry goes off in the Warriors’ win over LeBron James and the Miami Heat

HANG TIME HEADQUARTERS — On paper it’s a completely unfair fight. LeBron James goes 6-foot-8 and 250-plus pounds while Stephen Curry is just 6-foot-3 and barely 190 pounds.

But would any of that matter if the Heat star and reigning two-time MVP had to tussle with the Warriors star, arguably the most creative scorer in the game today, in a game of one on one?

Thanks to our friends at NBA TV we get a chance to debate that very topic today with the latest installment of their hypothetical one-on-one tournament that the players weigh in on weekly during the splendid Fan Night 1-On-1 Tournament.

Curry and James squared off once already this season, with Curry shredding the Heat for game highs of 36 points and 12 assists in the Warriors’ Jan. 2 win over the champs in Miami. LeBron had a surprisingly off night (25 points, 5 rebounds, 5 assists and 8 turnovers), by his standards. And even couldn’t help but gush about Curry’s performance when the smoke cleared.

“I looked at the stat sheet at one point and he was seven of 13 from the 3-point line and I was seven of 12 from the field,” James said. “I was like, ‘He’s got more 3-point attempts than I got field goal attempts.'”

Curry would have to employ that sort of strategy against LeBron in a one on one game, because he would certainly be at a physical disadvantage against the game’s most physically imposing specimen.

Of course, this is all just in theory. No one knows for sure how this matchup would play out. And that’s where the fun comes in. You get to dive in as well by voting on who you think would win in this battle of superstars:

Join the conversation on who would win via social media (Tweet @NBATV #1on1Curry or #1on1LeBron). The results will be announced during NBA TV’s postgame coverage of the Fan Night game between the Sacramento Kings and Indiana Pacers (7 ET, NBA TV) by TNT’s and NBA TV’s Ernie Johnson, Chris Webber and Greg Anthony.

VIDEO: 2013 was a pretty good year for LeBron James … pretty good indeed