Posts Tagged ‘Martin Luther King Day’

20 Teams Dream Big On MLK Day

VIDEO: GameTime’s crew previews all of the MLK Day action

HANG TIME HEADQUARTERS — More than Christmas or even All-Star weekend, the Martin Luther King Jr. holiday provides the NBA a platform to showcase some of the best players and teams the league has to offer. Stars young and old, championship teams and those aspiring to join those ranks … they’ll all be on display Monday.

A total of 10 games from across the country will highlight a day of celebration of both the game and the Dream Big mantra of not only Dr. King but also the league. What to watch for during the MLK Day hoops smorgasbord, the official halfway mark of the regular season:

Dallas vs. Cleveland, 1 p.m. ET (League Pass)

The skinny: The Cavaliers are feeling good after a 3-2 road trip and look to take advantage of a Mavericks team still smarting from getting blown out by Portland Saturday night. Luol Deng has infused the Cavaliers with a new energy, much like what Monta Ellis has done all season for Dirk Nowitzki and the Mavericks. That loss to Portland was a wake-up call for Rick Carlisle’s team, a group riding high after winning four-of-five prior to that humiliating defeat. “We regressed. The first three quarters are beyond embarrassing,” Mavericks coach Rick Carlisle told the team’s official website. “We weren’t playing together. We weren’t helping each other. Do that against a quality team … and they’re going to make you pay a heavy price.”

L.A. Clippers vs. Detroit, 1 p.m. ET (League Pass)

The skinny: Losses to the league’s elite have left a cloud over the Clippers’ season to this point. They look like a championship team on paper and when everything is clicking (and when everyone, Chris Paul specifically, is healthy). The Clippers are 0-5 on the road this season against the league’s top five teams, and while this game against the Pistons doesn’t provide a similar test, Clippers coach and Senior VP of basketball operations Doc Rivers is constantly evaluating his crew. “I like our team,” Rivers told “That doesn’t mean we won’t make changes. We’re not looking to make changes, but we’re always looking just like every other team. I like our team right now. If the season ended and we had the group we have right now, I like how we look. Obviously, I’d add Chris Paul to that group — but other than that I like our team a lot.”

Toronto vs. Charlotte, 2 p.m. ET, (League Pass)

The skinny: Playoff dreams in Charlotte this season have a lot to do with Kemba Walker and how well the point guard plays at what is the league’s deepest and most difficult position. If you don’t believe it just look at what Kyle Lowry has meant to the Raptors during their post-Rudy Gay-trade renaissance. So with the news that Walker will miss the next 10-14 days with a second-degree sprain of his left ankle, the Bobcats need Ramon Sessions to step up in a major way to keep the playoff vibes alive. The Raptors, meanwhile, are 6-4 in their last 10 games and can continue their momentum with another big road win.

Philadelphia vs. Washington, 2 p.m. ET (League Pass)

The skinny: The Wizards are trying desperately to reach the .500 mark, for both tangible and symbolic reasons. The break even mark gives them a chance to climb above .500 as they continue their playoff chase. And getting above that mark allows them to think about themselves in a different light, as they continue to work through the inconsistencies that have plagued their season. They haven’t had a winning record since starting the 2009-10 season 2-1. “Somebody just needs to not tell us our record and we’ll just go out and play,” shooting guard Bradley Beal said. “Every time they tell us ‘.500,’ we just pressure ourselves too much and end up not showing up.” Wizards point guard John Wall and his Sixers counterpart Michael Carter-Williams better show up for their showdown.

Brooklyn vs. New York, 2:30 p.m. ET (ESPN)

The skinny: There’s no shortage of subplots in this Battle of the Boroughs. Both Knicks coach Mike Woodson and Nets coach Jason Kidd have survived all of the turmoil of the early season and, courtesy of a feeble Eastern Conference playoff field, remain in the thick of the hunt for postseason positions. The Knicks are still dealing with myriad injury issues, not to mention the ongoing J.R. Smith drama. The Nets just want a little payback after the Knicks beat the starch out of them in their last meeting (a 113-83 rout on Dec. 5). “We definitely do,” Nets point guard Shaun Livingston told “They came in and beat us pretty well at our place. We have to take that upon ourselves and take it personally. We’ve got to come and compete.”

VIDEO: Pacers big man Roy Hibbert encourages the children at an Indianapolis elementary to Dream Big

New Orleans vs. Memphis, 5 p.m. ET (NBA TV)

The skinny: The Grizzlies five-game win streak is tied with the Portland Trail Blazers for the best current run in the league. The surge couldn’t have come at a better time for a team that has been bolstered by the return of All-Star center Marc Gasol. He will do his best to help take advantage of an injury-plagued Pelicans team that doesn’t know if it’s coming or going. Even with Anthony Davis playing out of his mind, the Pelicans cannot find a groove. Davis is averaging 22.4 points and 11.1 rebounds during the Pelicans’ eight-game skid, both above his season averages. But he needs help if the Pelicans are going to avoid sliding all the way down the ladder in the Western Conference. “It’s adversity,” Davis said. “We have to learn how to deal with it.”

Miami vs. Atlanta, 5:30 p.m. ET (League Pass)

The skinny: The best way for the Heat to shake out of their recent funk is to continue to find inspiration wherever they can. For LeBron James, it’s watching his biggest rival and good friend, Thunder star Kevin Durant, who has been on a tear of late.  The unfortunate recipient of LeBron’s wrath could end up being the Hawks. Because Durant has raised the bar, even for a LeBron. “I do a lot of checking and seeing what guys have done overnight,” James told’s Heat Index of keeping up with the performances of other players. “After every game, I always go … and see what guys did. I didn’t have to look too far to see what K.D. did last night. As soon as I looked at my phone, a family member of mine said, ‘K.D. had 54, you only had 21. You stink.’ So, there it is.”

L.A. Lakers vs. Chicago, 8 p.m. ET (League Pass)

The skinny: It’s tough to get excited about these two teams squaring off when their best players are wearing designer suits instead of uniforms. It’s a good thing the Lakers and Bulls have learned how to operate without Kobe Bryant and Derrick Rose, respectively. To their credit, the Lakers enter the game riding the wave, however slight it might be, of a two-game win streak. That’s a good way to hit the halfway mark of the season for team that has to feel like it’s endured 82-games worth of tumult already. “We just have a lot of injuries and a lot of stuff,” Lakers coach Mike D’Antoni said after Sunday’s win over the Raptors. “We got some guys who are improving and we’re not as good as we’d like to be, obviously this last stretch really knocked us for a loop, but our whole goal is to get back and win one at a time and play well, just get better, keep our energy up and our spirits up and see if we can have a good second half.”

Portland vs. Houston, 8 p.m. ET (TNT)

The skinny: It’s funny the way things work out sometimes in the NBA. The Trail Blazers are every bit of the elite, title-contending team most of the pundits predicted the Rockets would be last summer when they landed Dwight Howard in free agency. The Blazers have done it all season with a steady mix of LaMarcus Aldridge, Damian Lillard and arguably the most underrated supporting cast in the league. It won’t be that way for long if it’s up to Nic Batum, who told our very own Jeff Caplan that he believe he’s an All-Star. “You know, KD, is way up there, so can’t reach him he’s so far. But the West has to take a small forward after KD; I think it should be me. The West is crazy. I talked about it with Tony Parker two nights ago — I had dinner with him — that in the West, for a bench, to pick seven guys is pretty tough. KD is going to start at small forward, but I know if I get a chance to be on the bench to be a backup to KD, I would be very happy to do it.”

Indiana vs. Golden State, 10:30 p.m. ET (TNT)

The skinny: Paul George‘s 360 dunk has been the talk of the basketball world the past 24 hours and rightfully so. But that one dunk shouldn’t overshadow what is a most appropriate nightcap of a monster day of hoops. We get the most consistent team in the Eastern Conference and perhaps the league against arguably the most exciting team, though not the most consistent, in the league. George, Steph Curry, Lance Stephenson and Klay Thompson will provide the offensive fireworks. But the fellas up front on both sides love to mix it up (David West‘s pockets are $15,000 lighter after he was fined for that elbow to the jaw of the Clippers’ Blake Griffin). Keep an eye on West, Roy Hibbert and Ian Mahinmi of the Pacers and Andrew Bogut, David Lee and HT fave Draymond Green of the Warriors. They’ll wage their own battle during the game.

VIDEO: Pacers star Paul George leads the top 10 dunks of the week

2013-14 NBA Schedule Released Tonight

HANG TIME HEADQUARTERS — Pat Riley was wise to trademark the term “three-Peat” all those years ago when he was coaching the “Showtime” Los Angeles Lakers to titles.

Riley, now the president of the two-time defending champion Heat, will find the road to Miami’s three-peat hopes laid out tonight on NBA TV (6 p.m. ET) when the 2013-14 NBA schedule is released. If LeBron James, Dwyane Wade, Chris Bosh and the crew have the energy to do it again, they’ll have to start with the 82-game slate released tonight.

The 1,230 game-schedule will give us the first look at the season’s marquee games on opening night, Thanksgiving, Christmas Day and the annual Martin Luther King Jr. Day lineup. It’s a safe bet that the revamped Houston Rockets, with Dwight Howard co-headlining alongside All-Star shooting guard James Harden, will be included in that mix.

The schedule will also be posted on

MLK Day Games Highlight Special Day


HANG TIME HEADQUARTERS — We all survived the NBA’s lost summer, made it through a frantic free-agent scramble to a fireworks-filled season-opening slate on Christmas Day to this, the most sacred of days on the league calendar.

Few days on the schedule present teams with an opportunity to pause and take heed of a message spread decades ago, a sentiment that resonates in every corner of every locker room in the league, while also looking ahead to the wide expanse of this particular season. But that’s what the Martin Luther King Day spectacular provides on an annual basis, and no lockout-induced, abbreviated season or compressed schedule will ever change that.

With 11 games on a loaded schedule, including blockbuster matchups from early afternoon until the wee hours and a five-game national TV menu,  there should be something for everyone as always.

The extended holiday weekend has always been a favorite of mine, dating back to 2004 when I got my first glimpse of a young and dominant Dwight Howard playing for Southwest Atlanta Christian on back-to-back nights. A visiting writer in town to cover the Hawks-Pacers MLK Day matchup, I decided to drop in on Howard’s games that same weekend to see what all the fuss was about. It didn’t take long for me to see.

Howard is one of the headliners today and helps kick things off when his Magic square off against the Knicks in New York at 1 p.m. ET (League Pass).

A few things we’ll be watching for on this special day:

— Rudy Gay & Co. Seek Redemption Against Bulls! … Bulls at Grizzlies, 1 p.m. ET (ESPN)

The Grizzlies lost Zach Randolph to a knee injury and got smoked by the Bulls (104-64) the last time these two met, on New Year’s Day in Chicago. The Bulls held Gay to a season-low five points in that game. He’s been on a tear ever since. He’s averaging 20.2 points on 48 percent shooting from the floor in his last five games and has assumed an even greater leadership role on and off the floor for the Grizzlies with Randolph out indefinitely with torn ligaments in his knee. With the reigning MVP, Derrick Rose, and the best record in the Eastern Conference in tow, the Bulls don’t need an invitation to play big on the biggest stage.


NBA celebrates MLK Day

Mike Conley is honored to be part of the NBA’s Martin Luther King, Jr. Day celebration as his Memphis Grizzlies host the Chicago Bulls in the tipoff of four nationally televised games Monday. It’s become an annual tradition in Memphis, which is intimately connected to the legacy of Dr. King and is home to the Civil Rights Museum.

“It is unique because Memphis has very sensitive ties to Martin Luther King with all that happened here in the city during that time,” Conley said by phone Sunday. “It touched a lot of people in the city of Memphis. For us to be spotlighted and for us to be able to play on this day is an honor that every person on our team and in our organization feels.”

The Grizzlies and Bulls start the MLK Day celebration at 1 p.m. ET on ESPN. NBA TV follows with 4 p.m. showcase with Sacramento at Atlanta. TNT finishes the evening with a doubleheader featuring an Eastern Conference finals rematch between Boston and Orlando (8 p.m.) before the nightcap of Oklahoma City visiting the Los Angeles Lakers (10:30 p.m.).

Dr. King’s eternal message continues to be a source of hope for people of all generations and backgrounds.

“His message was about people being judged by the content of their character, which is about trying to accomplish things using your head,” said Bob Lanier, a Hall of Famer who remains closely involved with the NBA. “A lot of what we do in the NBA, for example the NBA Cares program where we deal with social responsibility, has our players going into the community.

“Most of our players are players of color and all of our players, both domestically and worldwide, try to touch people’s lives, not only through their words but their deeds. I think that goes along with the messaging of Dr. King extremely well because it shows the whole culture of people helping people. The other portion of his dream was people having equal opportunity and not being judged by the color of their skin.”

Lanier added that the significance of Dr. King is sometimes lost on today’s players. That’s why MLK Day is so important, Conley said.

“Players can easily overlook it and not realize how hard it once was and how America was once,” he said. “Having Martin Luther King Day and all the games played on this day, it puts a spotlight on it and more of an emphasis on him and what he was able to do.

“I think every player in all different sports realizes that we wouldn’t be here in this situation if it wasn’t for what he and others during that time were to able to accomplish. I think guys really do get that message on Martin Luther King Day.”

Here’s a look at what some teams are doing to commemorate Martin Luther King Day:

Grizzlies: Grizzlies salute the Legacy of Dr. King and what the civil rights movement means to them.

Nuggets: Players talk about Dr. King’s impact.

Wizards: Bob Dandridge discusses Dr. King.

Blazers: Buck Williams, Hersey Hawkins and Bernie Bickerstaff reflect on the Dr. King’s legacy.

Hawks: Players talking about the importance of Dr. King and playing on MLK day.

Bulls: Ronnie Brewer at a community MLK event.

Cavs: Black Heritage Celebration.

Nets: Famous Dr. King quotes.