Posts Tagged ‘Justin Bieber’

Morning Shootaround — April 9

NEWS OF THE MORNING

Wizards eliminated from playoffs | For Warriors, motivation not a problem | Bulls to choose Noah over Gasol? | The Brooklyn Swamp Dragons?

No. 1: Wizards eliminated from playoffs After giving the Atlanta Hawks all they could handle in the Eastern Conference Semifinals last season, the Washington Wizards were a popular choice to contend in the Eastern Conference this season. Instead, with last night’s loss to the Detroit Pistons, the Wizards were eliminated from postseason contention and clinched a finish below .500. As Jorge Castillo writes in the Washington Post, playing without an injured John Wall didn’t do anything to help matters

Elimination games were not uncharted territory for the Wizards. They just didn’t expect to play any in the regular season without their best player. But a season that began with a top-four seed and the franchise’s first Eastern Conference finals berth since 1979 atop the list of objectives was sabotaged by baffling inconsistency and a bevy of perplexing losses. Consequently, the Wizards have spent much of the second half of the season outside the playoff picture, scoreboard-peeking while they squandered opportunities.

With three games remaining, the Wizards, winners of 44 and 46 games the past two seasons, are 38-41 and cannot finish the campaign above .500.

“We had some tough losses,” said Wizards forward Markieff Morris, who was acquired Feb. 18. “It’s tough with the talent and the expectations they had even before I got here. It’s definitely a tough way to end the season. But we have to finish these last games strong and start looking forward.”

The Pistons improved to 43-37 after finishing 32-50 last season and rose to seventh place in the Eastern Conference with the victory. Reggie Jackson led the charge Friday, shooting 14 of 20 from the field and adding nine assists. Tobias Harris, a trade-deadline acquisition, contributed 17 points, while all-star Andre Drummond was held to eight points and six rebounds in 26 minutes.

Morris, playing against his twin brother, Marcus, for the third time since joining the Wizards, recorded 29 points, his most in a Wizards uniform. Bradley Beal, who assumed some primary ballhandling duties with Wall out, contributed 25 points and had six turnovers. Ramon Sessions, John Wall’s replacement in the starting lineup, finished with 12 points and six assists.

Wall underwent an MRI exam on his right knee after sitting out Wednesday’s win over the Brooklyn Nets — the first game he had missed this season — and the results revealed no tear or sprain. After the Wizards had their team photo taken at Verizon Center on Thursday morning, he went to a doctor and the knee was drained. That remedied the swelling, but the pain remained after treatment all day Thursday and Friday morning before the team rode the bus to Auburn Hills for shoot-around.

“It took all the fluid out, but it’s just still sore and numb to move,” Wall said after shoot-around Friday morning. “It’s just sore. It’s still sore.”

Wall also said he still doesn’t know how he hurt the knee. He woke up with it swollen Wednesday morning. He recalled his day Tuesday, mystified: practice, shooting workouts, usual maintenance treatment, shower, media availability, home.

“Nothing was wrong,” Wall said.

The Wizards did not succumb without some pugnacity Friday. The Pistons used a three-point barrage — they made nine of their first 11 attempts — to build a 19-point lead in the second quarter, which Washington shrunk to seven at halftime. Detroit again tried to put the Wizards away in the third quarter, widening the gulf back to 16 with 4 minutes 58 seconds remaining in the period on a three-point play by Marcus Morris.

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No. 2: For Warriors, motivation not a problem After winning a title last season, the Golden State Warriors managed to return this season and have put together what has a chance to be the greatest regular season in NBA history. As Andrew Bogut told Yahoo’s Michael Lee, the Warriors haven’t really had much trouble finding motivation this season

The most disrespected great team in NBA history never had the chance to get satisfied. The Golden State Warriors went from their Champagne showers in Cleveland to that championship parade along Lake Merritt, right into a cynical volcano that spewed molten Haterade over all they accomplished. At every turn, what the Warriors achieved got discredited and diminished: They got lucky. The league was watered down. If so-and-so had been healthy …

“Blah, blah, blah. We just kept having people put bulletin-board material out there for us,” Andrew Bogut told The Vertical. “What we heard in the offseason was we didn’t deserve to be champions – and it pissed guys off. Every other week, someone made a comment. We heard all the naysayers. I think it was a good thing. I think it was a good thing.”

Bogut repeated himself and cracked a smile because he knows it was a good thing. With Thursday’s 112-101 victory over the San Antonio Spurs, the Warriors became the second NBA team in history win 70 games, and that’s largely because they never had to search for motivation during their title defense. Of course, the Warriors had the Spurs – also in the midst of their best season in franchise history – to push them so hard that 70 wins actually became a requirement to clinch the No. 1 seed in the Western Conference.

But more than anything, the Warriors had the hate. Of the 10 previous teams to win at least 67 games, the Warriors are the first to record more victories the following season. Their regular-season dominance has been the result of defiance – the kind that might finally be satiated by reaching some rarefied air.

Golden State (70-9) still needs to win its last three games to jump over Jumpman and break the 72-win record set in 1995-96 by Michael Jordan’s Chicago Bulls. But no matter the final win tally, the Warriors – at least, in their minds – have done enough to distinguish themselves as one of the best regular-season teams ever and prove that last season’s success didn’t come by accident.

“Should be enough. It’s only one [other] team who’s done it in NBA history, and it’s considered ‘the greatest team ever,’ ” an air-quoting Klay Thompson told The Vertical. “So I mean, we still got to take care of business in the playoffs. I think that will be the cap on everything. But this is a steppingstone for that.”

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No. 3: Bulls to choose Noah over Gasol? One day after likely free agent Pau Gasol mentioned the way the Bulls finished may affect his decision-making in free agency, turns out it may not matter, at least in Chicago. As K.C. Johnson writes in the Chicago Tribune, the Bulls are likely going to find themselves having to make a choice between pursuing Joakim Noah or Gasol, in which case Noah might be their selection…

Though front-office meetings have yet to finalize the Bulls’ Plan A for this offseason, there is strong internal desire to re-sign Noah on a short-term deal. Noah long has been a favorite player and ambassador of Chairman Jerry Reinsdorf. Executive vice president John Paxson drafted Noah, and their bond is genuine.

Plus, though injuries have diminished Noah since his All-NBA season in 2013-14, his defensive abilities and leadership qualities fill gaping voids.

It will take work, not to mention money, to win back Noah, who disliked the false story Fred Hoiberg spread at the start of the season that he volunteered to come off the bench. He then disliked playing just 20 minutes per game and not finishing them more.

But Hoiberg had started to play Noah more before his first shoulder injury in December. And Noah remains invested enough in the team to question Jimmy Butler and Derrick Rose for their silence at the April 3 team meeting, according to several people present.

The Bulls passed on an opportunity to try to finalize moving Gasol to the Kings at the February trade deadline. General manager Gar Forman, who won the internal debate to keep Gasol, called the All-Star center “part of our core.” Gasol said then the Bulls “for sure” are the leading candidates for his free agency services.

Gasol placed a qualifier on that claim, saying how the Bulls fared over the final 30 games would play a factor in his decision, which will come after he exercises his player option for free agency.

The Bulls are 12-15 since.

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No. 4: Swamp Dragons? The Brooklyn Nets are established now in their new borough, after moving a few rivers east from their previous home in New Jersey. But while the Brooklyn part of their name is new, it turns out that a few years back, they almost passed on the Nets nickname. As ESPN’s Zach Lowe writes in a lively oral history, once upon a time, the New Jersey Nets very nearly became the New Jersey Swamp Dragons

As the vote of the full Board of Governors neared, news of the proposed name change leaked — and drew a predictable backlash.

SPOELSTRA: Someone from [Gov.] Christine Whitman‘s office called me and said they didn’t like the Meadowlands being referred to as a a swamp. Well, that’s what it is. I don’t see any cows grazing there. (Through a spokesperson, Whitman said she didn’t recall the Swamp Dragons saga.)

COHEN: Of course, the Meadowlands is in a swamp. It was a colorful name, but I started to wonder if it might draw more ridicule than anything else. How would sponsors feel about sponsoring a team called the Swamp Dragons? We had to think about all of that. I don’t know if Chuck Daly [hired in 1993] would have come to coach the Swamp Dragons.

O’GRADY: We spent four or five months on this, and suddenly there was a pushback. We were getting hammered. Hammered. We played around with maybe just calling them Fire Dragons — to save the dragon, but veer away from the swamp.

SPOELSTRA: Fire Dragons didn’t come from us. We wanted Swamp Dragons. The funny thing is, that swamp caught fire every summer anyway. The water would literally burn because of all the chemicals in it. Talk about fire dragons.

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SOME RANDOM HEADLINES: Kent Bazemore‘s #BazeGaze has become a thing in AtlantaSix promising NBA head coaching candidates worth keeping an eye on … Villanova’s Jay Wright says he doesn’t have any plans of jumping to the NBA … According to ESPN.com, the Phoenix Suns plan on launching a broad coaching search this offseasonBen Simmons will pass up playing in Rio to prepare for his NBA career … Justin Bieber visited the Houston Rockets

Wolves Set Up To Howl Once Again?

HANG TIME HEADQUARTERS – If you put your ear against the wall outside the Target Center, you can still hear the calliope music coming from inside. The Timberwolves’ merry-go-round continues.

Ricky Rubio is coming and Kurt Rambis might be going and that means the latest redevelopment project in downtown Minneapolis is back on track, assuming that general manager David Kahn doesn’t take another point guard in the Draft.

But seriously, after two years of running in a knee-deep snow with back-to-back records of 15-67 and 17-65, is it possible that Kahn’s vision for the Wolves comes from some place other than acute hypothermia?

(more…)

Justin Bieber nabs All-Star berth

We all know what the NBA All-Star Celebrity Game was missing in recent years. Not enough high-pitched, teenage-girl shrieks and shrills.

Problem solved.

Justin Bieber is bringing his hoops talents to Los Angeles and the BBVA NBA All-Star Celebrity Game. ESPN is televising the gathering of entertainers and athletes on Feb. 18 at 7 p.m. ET.

In addition to the Grammy-nominated pop-singing sensation, this year’s celebrity games also features NBA legends such as Magic Johnson, Scottie Pippen, Bill Walton, Chris Mullin and AC Green. On the Hollywood side, look for Jimmy Kimmel, Ty Burrell (“Modern Family”), Rob Kardashian, Zach Levi (“Chuck”), Jason Alexander and Common. ESPN.com columnist Bill Simmons also nabbed a roster spot. Complete teams, which will also feature current WNBA players, will be announced later.

Hang Time Podcast (Episode 31)

HANG TIME HEADQUARTERS — We spent nearly the entire month of June talking about the Celtics and Lakers as they battled it out in an epic seven-game NBA Finals that captivated basketball fans around the globe.


Few people had a better view of the Celtics then and now than our main man A. Sherrod Blakely, who covers the Celtics and the league for ComcastSportsNet and CSNNE.com.

No one, other than maybe Phil Jackson and Kobe Bryant, had a better or more unique seat for the Lakers’ title run and all that’s gone on since than Lakers Executive Vice President of Business Operations Jeanie Buss.

We worked them both for insights on these title contenders on Episode 31 of the Hang Time Podcast, which includes a special guest appearance from NBA TV analyst “3D” Dennis Scott.

LISTEN HERE:

Not only is Buss a high-powered executive, she is also Jackson’s girlfriend, the daughter of Lakers’ owner Jerry Buss and one of the most influential women in all of professional sports.

You’ll soon be able to add best-selling author to her list of accomplishments. Buss co-authored (along with Steve Springer) “Laker Girl,” her diary that chronicled last season’s title run while connecting the dots that stretch back decades to the origins of her father’s and her family’s long history with the Lakers.

Buss gave up the goods on Justin Bieber‘s ring night visit to the Staples Center, opened up about her favorite Lakers of all time and the genesis of “Jeanie-Vision” (below) and so much more.

As always, we welcome your feedback. You can follow the entire crew, including the Hang Time Podcast Lang Whitaker of SLAM Magazine, our super producer Micah Hart of NBA.com’s All Ball Blog and your host Sekou Smith on Twitter.

– To download the podcast, click here. To subscribe via iTunes, click here.

The Big Influential?

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Posted by Sekou Smith

HANG TIME HEADQUARTERS — We could spend a week collecting, dissecting and analyzing all the nicknames for Shaquille O’Neal now that he’s officially a member of the Boston Celtics.

The Big Shamrock.

The Big Chowda.

The Big Leprechaun.

The Big Green Monster.

And one of our personal faves, The Big Cloverfield (courtesy of HT reader Jesse Giambatista, who explains that the alias is a “collaboration between an Irish 4 leaf clover and the movie of the same name with the ginormous space/sea creature.)

The list could go on and on, and we’re warming up to Red AuerShaq and Tip-In O’Neal. But we’ll offer up something a little different after doing a little research on the big fella. How about the Big Influential? … as in Shaq is far and away the most influential basketball player on the planet (in terms of his reach on social networking platforms) and one of the most influential athletes in any discipline.

He, and not LeBron James, is the King of Twitter, with more than 3 million followers, roughly a million more than the NBA.

That’s not just us talking. The folks at Fast Company have already worked the angle with Shaq, he’s participating in their Influence Project, exploring his Shaqprint for social media world domination in this Q&A with Mark Borden:

FC: I recently asked Twitter founder Jack Dorsey who he thought is using the platform in the most effective way, he mentioned you. He told me two things in particular. One was where you gave away game tickets to the first two people to meet you at a given place and touch you? That’s a pretty intimate thing, what made you take it to that extreme? Why was touching better than “hello”?

SHAQ: Ah… Mr. Dorsey. That is funny, and true…. I was on the Phoenix Suns then. Again, I try to do things differently than others. Not intentionally trying to be different, but truly to invite people to break down expectations. I am approachable. I guess that was what I was trying to do.

FC: Dorsey also mentioned how someone had tweeted that they thought they were in the same restaurant as you, you saw it and invited them to lunch. What made you do that?

SHAQ: Accessibility. That would be pretty rude of me to be in the same restaurant and not offer them to join me (this doesn’t mean I am always in the position to do this). It struck me that moment basically, so I invited them. They were cool, they were fans. Again, not really above any of it. Appreciated that they even care. Make it fun for someone. Make their day one to remember. I do not think about those things when I do them, but here we are talking about it now. That makes me feel good.

FC: Your bio says you’re “very quotatious” and there are times when I can feel an almost rap rhythm to your tweets. I know you have skills with a microphone, do you try to channel that flow in your Twittering?

SHAQ: I am a Quotatious genius! I add Shaquotes into everything. (Smile)

The Celtics didn’t get the “Most Dominant Ever” Shaq. They didn’t get the 15-time All-Star, three-time Finals MVP or the All-Star Game MVP Shaq, the guy that once teamed with the likes of Kobe Bryant and Dwyane Wade to win titles.

But they knew they weren’t getting those versions of Shaq him when they signed him to that two-year deal Wednesday. They’re getting a player that’s past his prime in a league he once owned on the floor, a league that he is still a major shareholder in off the floor.

What the Celtics did get, however, is arguably the greatest salesman the league has known, in terms of appealing to the masses — hanging with and singing with Justin Bieber introduces Shaq to a whole new and even younger audience. You don’t have to like Shaq’s personality or the way he has approached his career as a basketball player/entertainer.

Just know that there are millions of folks that do.

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