Posts Tagged ‘Golden State Warriors’

Making a Top 10 list of the 2017 NBA Finals could be done with just one player: Kevin Durant.

The move from Oklahoma City to the Bay Area has been a knockout success for Durant and he was the star of these NBA Finals as the Golden Warriors dispatched the Cleveland Cavaliers in five games.

Durant topped 30 points in each contest and was named MVP of the finals. He averaged 35.2 points and shot 55.6 percent from the field.

The good thing for Durant is he no longer has to listen to any nonsense about not having a ring. Now his only issue is trying to win another one.

The Warriors and Cavaliers have met in each of the past three NBA Finals with Golden State winning two of the crowns. It looks highly possible that the two teams could meet against next June.

The only possible problem might be Cleveland GM LeBron James — we know who runs the franchise — messing things up with his latest teammate demands.

Here are 10 takeaways from the 2017 NBA Finals:

 

10. Just how mad is Russell Westbrook tonight after seeing Durant celebrating his NBA title?

9. Television announcer Mike Breen yelled “BANG!” after a 3-point basket … which I’m sure families who have had somebody shot to death always appreciate while watching a SPORTING EVENT.

8. Did Golden State’s David West and Cleveland’s Tristan Thompson kiss when they had that little love scuffle? Who proposed to whom in that scenario?

7. Kind of funny to me that some people are just discovering how good Kyrie Irving is — do they not watch basketball until the Finals?

6. My back gets sore just looking at Warriors coach Steve Kerr. I can’t imagine how painful it must be to battle spinal fluid issues.

5. LeBron James has been in the NBA Finals seven straight seasons. Was about to think how tough that is to do until I see Cleveland benchwarmer James Jones (eight minutes played in the series) has achieved the same thing.

4. No more Doris Burke questions for five months. Thank God.

3. Draymond Green’s annoyance level is now higher than his talent level, a sad development when you consider what a great story it was for a second-round selection to become a big star.

2. Games feel disappointing when Stephen Curry doesn’t make at least one 60-footer in a game.

1. Some buffoons at an Oklahoma City newspaper once called Durant “Mr. Unreliable” in a headline. Hopefully the entire staff was fired.

Advertisements

It is not very often that I would watch an NBA regular season game without being paid. Thursday night is that rare exception.

Kevin Durant is going up against his former Oklahoma City Thunder teammates for the first time as a member of the Golden State Warriors and tension is everywhere.

These two teams met in the Western Conference finals last season and the Thunder held a 3-1 series lead before the Warriors roared back to win the series

Then Durant left Oklahoma City on July 4 … for the Warriors.

Westbrook has made it very clear that he was unhappy with Durant’s decision to leave as a free agent and his ultracompetitive juices will certainly be churning overtime.

Heck, he showed up to the arena wearing a photographer’s bib. One of Durant’s passionate hobbies is photography.

Yeah, it’s on. At least in Russell Westbrook’s eyes.

Here is the stellar preview of the Thunder-Warriors game — http://www.usatoday.com/sports/nba/event/2016/944758/preview/

 

Seattle Seahawks cornerback Richard Sherman let NFL commissioner Roger Goodell have it again on Thursday, saying the commissioner is at fault for the huge drop in television ratings this season.

Sherman said the commish has stripped the fun out of the NFL and doesn’t allow the players to be entertainers like other leagues.

“Because the league isn’t fun anymore,” Sherman told reporters. “Every other league, you see the players have a good time. It’s a game. This isn’t politics. This isn’t justice. This is entertainment. And they’re no longer allowing the players to entertain.

“They’re no longer allowing the players to show any kind of personality, any kind of uniqueness, any individuality. Because they want to control the product. They want to control the messaging, etc., etc.”

Entering Week 9, Monday Night Football ratings are down 20 percent from last season, according to Nielsen data. The Sunday Night Football package is down 18.5 percent and Thursday games are down 21.8 percent.

Another thing that is down is the performance of the Seattle offense. The Seahawks have scored one offensive touchdown in their last nine quarters and quarterback Russell Wilson hasn’t accounted for a single touchdown over the past three games.

Maybe Sherman needs to remind his offensive teammates that the game is supposed to be fun.

Here is the stellar preview of Monday’s Buffalo Bills-Seattle Seahawks game — http://www.foxsports.com/nfl/story/seahawks-look-to-get-offense-on-track-against-bills-110316

 

Miami Dolphins running back Jay Ajayi has a chance to make history this Sunday when his team plays the New York Jets.

Ajayi is one of only four players – O.J. Simpson (twice), Earl Campbell and Ricky Williams are the others – to rush for 200 or more yards in back-to-back games.

And nobody has ever done it in three straight games.

Ajayi is certainly an unlikely candidate to be the first. He was a healthy inactive for Miami’s opening game of the season. Now the second-year pro from Boise State is making it clear he plans to be carrying the load for the Dolphins for a while.

Another thing that will make Ajayi’s bid at history tougher is the fact the Jets lead the NFL in rushing defense (74.0 yards per game).

Here is the stellar preview of the Jets-Dolphins game — http://www.foxsports.com/nfl/story/jets-defense-out-to-slow-dolphins-ajayi-110216

 

Sometimes it seems that every college football coach has spent the time on the staff with early every other college football in the land. It is a profession where long hours are spent together, making it easy to form deep bonds (or sheer hatred).

Michigan coach Jim Harbaugh will see one of his close pals this Saturday when the Wolverines host Maryland.

DJ Durkin is the first-year coach of the Terrapins and he is making the team better than forecasters predicted. That’s not a big surprise if you listen to people talk about his pedigree and coaching potential.

And it certainly doesn’t hurt that he’s part of the Harbaugh coaching tree.

Durkin spent three years on Harbaugh’s Stanford staff from 2007-09 and then he was Michigan’s defensive coordinator last season.

The intense Harbaugh doesn’t usually play nice on game day but the postgame embrace will be one that he enjoys.

Here is the Maryland-Michigan preview —http://www.detroitnews.net/index.php/sid/249048671

Well, I guess we can never dog LeBron James any more.

Was fun while it lasted.

Can’t do nothing but praise the man known as “King James” after the Cleveland Cavaliers became the first team in NBA history to recover from a 3-1 deficit to win the NBA Finals.

James and the Cavaliers won the city’s first major professional sports championship in 52 years with Sunday’s 93-89 victory over the Golden State Warriors in Game 7 of the rout-infested series.

James’ legacy had been questioned – particularly after Cleveland fell into the 3-1 hole – but a third world title in his career silences that debate.

If the Cavaliers had lost the series, James would’ve been 2-5 in seven NBA Finals appearances. And it would have been more than fair to question his ability to deliver a ring.

Remember, he won his first two titles with the Miami Heat when he had Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh as teammates. He was supposed to be part of a three-star circus in Cleveland too but Kevin Love has proven to be a terrible fit with James, leaving Kyrie Irving as the lone true other star on the squad.

James helped Cleveland stay alive with back-to-back 41-point performances and climaxed his strong series with the third Game 7 triple-double in NBA Finals’ history, joining Los Angeles Lakers icons’ Jerry West and James Worthy. James had 27 points, 11 rebounds and 11 assists on Sunday.

He was the unanimous MVP of the series and I’m pretty sure he would have been named MVP even if Golden State had won.

Oh yeah, Golden State. Let’s discuss that team for a minute.

If Cleveland is the first team to overcome a 3-1 deficit in the NBA Finals, guess what that makes the Warriors?

Yep, the first team to blow a 3-1 series lead.

That takes a good amount of luster off their remarkable regular season in which they set a record with a 73-9 mark. But they lost the same number of games in the postseason and no longer possessed that look of a hard-to-beat team.

Golden State came close to not reaching the finals as the Oklahoma City Thunder held a 3-1 series lead in the Western Conference finals before failing to close the deal.

Then the Warriors suffered three double-digit defeats to Cleveland before going scoreless over the final 4:38 in Game 7 and watching Irving drain the tiebreaking 3-pointer with 53 seconds left.

Draymond Green’s absence in Game 5 due to picking up too many flagrant fouls was a crusher. Then two-time MVP Stephen Curry suffered a Game 6 meltdown, displaying signs that the pressure was getting to him.

Talk about legacy? How the Warriors rebound next season will help determine a lot about how history looks at them.

Instead of being a two-time defending champion, Golden State will enter the next campaign with a ton of wins and just one banner.

As tough as the Western Conference is, it could be hard to get back. What if this band of Warriors win just one title?

“We understand, I think, when you look at the history of the league, how few teams repeated,” Curry said in the postgame press conference. “That was our goal, and we didn’t do it. It’s going to be a long three months over the summer thinking about it.

“But that doesn’t mean we can’t put this as another little unfortunate notch in the belt and move forward and come back stronger next year. That’s the mindset.”

Now that Cleveland has won a pro sports title — the 1964 Browns of the NFL were the most recent champions — guess what city has gone the current most seasons without winning a major pro sports championship?

San Diego!

Guessing a lot of you got that one right. San Diego has a streak of 109 straight seasons without a title – 52 by the Chargers, 47 by the Padres and 10 from two former NBA teams (Clippers six, Rockets four).

Cleveland got rid of that dubious distinction primarily because of James, the guy who returned to the franchise and made it a goal to end the city’s title woes.

And well, I guess he has been motivated by those of us who didn’t mind pointing out the truth in the past. There were tears everywhere as he relished Sunday’s accomplishment.

“Those emotions came out of me, just leading 14 guys and understanding, like I said, what our city’s been through over the last 50-plus years since Jim Brown,” said James, referring to the legendary running back. “Then also people just counting me out.

“Throughout my 13-year career, I’ve done nothing but be true to the game, give everything I’ve got to the game, put my heart, my blood, sweat, tears into the game, and people still want to doubt what I’m capable of doing.”

OK, OK — we get it. You’re now 3-4 in the NBA Finals.

Maybe you might want to win the next one you’re in as well to get the mark to .500.

But ridicule LeBron James for not coming through when the stage is at its biggest?

Pretty sure that is no longer an option.

You see, he won a title in Cleveland.

Kobe Bryant sure knows how to put a punctuation mark on a career.

His final game was so amazing and so dramatic that nobody was talking about the Golden State Warriors setting the NBA single-season record of 73 victories.

The Warriors were relegated to secondary status as Bryant put on one of the best farewell performances you will ever see as he closed out his 20-year NBA career by dropping 60 points against the Utah Jazz on Wednesday.

He was vintage Bryant in the final quarter as he scored 23 points and knocked in the go-ahead jumper with 31.6 seconds remaining as Los Angeles registered a 101-96 victory. It was easy the highlight of the season for the Lakers, who endured a franchise-worst 17-65 record.

The performance was so superb that you had to wonder if Bryant might unretire before he even begins his retirement.

“I’m sure, I’m sure, I’m absolutely sure,” Bryant said of his career being over during the on-court postgame festivities.

Regardless, it was one of those rare sporting events in which you will always remember where you were or what you were doing as it unfolded.

Bryant ended his night with a baseball-pass assist and couldn’t resist discussing the irony of what unfolded in his last game. You know, the fact that he hoisted a career-most 50 shots.

“What’s funny, the thing that had me cracking up all night long is the fact that I go through 20 years of everybody screaming to pass the ball and then the last night, they’re like ‘don’t pass it,’ ” Bryant said.

Bryant won five championships with the Lakers and finishes his career with 33,643 points, which ranks third in NBA history.

He will always be remembered as one of the top players ever – and that would have been true even if he had scored 5 points on 2-of-13 shooting against the Jazz.

But instead he went out the way most athletes don’t get to do. That was by putting on a memorable show.

And it certainly was a performance that will be remembered forever.

Stephen Curry has emerged as a bona fide star over the past two seasons but now he has a chance to hit the megastar platform.

Being named regular-season MVP of the NBA boosted him up another level and now he is about to embark on the NBA Finals stage for the first time when the Golden State Warriors face the Cleveland Cavaliers.

Take down the Cavs and a guy named LeBron James and Curry’s stock – on and off the court – goes skyrocketing to a new stratosphere.

It’s a good stage to be on for sure and more and more people have caught on that one of the faces of the NBA is a 6-foot-3 guard who was once passed over by all the major colleges and ended up being a major star at tiny Davidson College.

Of course, the slaps in the face continued on the night of the NBA Draft when the Minnesota Timberwolves picked some guy named Jonny Flynn – don’t Google him, not in the league – over Curry. That act of stupidly explains perfectly while the Timberwolves are indeed the Timberwolves.

So it has been a charming story to see Curry drain 3-pointers from all areas of the court and evolve into one of the top players in the NBA. His wife and daughter receive plenty of TV time as do his parents – father Dell played 16 seasons in the NBA – and the endorsement opportunities are rolling in.

His image is spotless.

Uh oh, did I say spotless?

Here is where the worrying begins: Are we seeing the real Stephen Curry or will he become the next athlete to combust at some point?

Too many times, we have been fooled by an athlete that appears to be an outstanding person and then we learn of some shady acts or despicable behavior.

Who saw the Tiger Woods sex harem scandal coming? A married man totally crafting his family image and Tiger was stripped down – pun intended – and exposed (yeah, also intended) and funny how his golf game also went into decline as his personal life did.

Who can forget Kobe Bryant being accused of rape in 2003? It was stunning a big-time star like him would even be in such a position and it has forever stained his legacy. Bryant didn’t serve jail time but he did apologize for his actions and he also settled a civil suit with the accuser, which is the athletes’ way of buying out of the crime.

And whatever was more stunning than the O.J. Simpson murder case? His ex-wife Nicole Brown Simpson and friend Ron Goldman were slaughtered by one of the all-time greatest running backs in football history. (Sorry, not using the word allegedly since he didn’t back up his boast that he would look for the real killers). I will never forget the surreal scene of a guy going from being totally beloved to being viewed as a totally despised monster in a matter of days. The White Bronco – not you Peyton Manning — lives on.

We could talk about disgraced cyclist Lance Armstrong for hours. He was always a jerk, always treated people rudely, lied through his teeth all the time about his juicing and really has no redeeming positive qualities. Think of that, he is such a rotten apple that he doesn’t even belong in a good athletes turn into buffoons discussion.

New faces pop on the scene each year. Ray Rice was hailed as a great guy in the community before he smacked his then-fiance in the elevator and dragged her out like a carcass of meat. And how about Adrian Peterson beating his young child with a switch? I shook hands with Peterson once and my hand was sore for two hours so I can’t even imagine somebody of his unbelievable strength brutally whipping their son like that.

So this is what we are asking of Curry – don’t turn into a buffoon someday. Don’t become a moron. Don’t be living a secret life where you are scoring out of wedlock and eventually one gets pregnant. Don’t punch anyone in your family. Don’t be a fraud.

Seems like easy stuff to achieve but too many athletes fail at it. Though I’m from San Diego and two of the biggest stars in the city’s sports history had no troubles being good citizens with impeccable reputations.

Guys named Tony Gwynn and LaDainian Tomlinson.

Curry is on the same path as those two legends and let’s see if he can keep it up. The image is spotless, his popularity is out-of-control high and he’s one of the top outside shooters the league has ever seen.

And now he has an NBA title to chase and we can all sit back and watch the Curry vs. LeBron show. Should be an entertaining NBA Finals.

And let’s hope we are still talking about this Stephen Curry being a real good guy a decade from now.

Ever think about how few college basketball players go on to make an NBA roster?

Ever wonder what happened to the former two-time all-conference player that got passed over in the NBA draft?

Ever ponder just how many players keep hoopin’ it up for a living instead of getting that initial 9-to-5 job?

All you really need to do is look at one minor-league box score to get a grasp of the situation. Just in the NBA Development League — known as the D-League — there are 16 teams full of players who all believe they are just one phone call away from ditching the minor-league life for the grand life and large per diems of the NBA.

A very low percentage of those players will fulfill their dreams. Just as there are hundreds of former college basketball stars playing overseas aiming to reach the big-time someday.

So let’s take a quick look at a D-League box score between the Maine Red Claws and Idaho Stampede (you can find an A-League story about the game here (http://pressherald.mainetoday.com/story.php?id=311809&ac=PHspt) and see how many of the 19 players have had a taste of the NBA life.

The Red Claws roster includes center Alexis Ajinca (six games for the Charlotte Bobcats earlier this season), point guard Will Blalock (14 games for the Detroit Pistons in 2006-07), shooting guard Tony Bobbitt (seven games for the Los Angeles Lakers in 2004-05) , forward Noel Felix (12 games for the Seattle SuperSonics in 2005-06) and guard J.R. Giddens (21 games for the Boston Celtics before being recently sent down).

The Idaho Stampede roster was recently raided by NBA teams with guard Sundiata Gaines (Utah Jazz), forward Anthony Tolliver (Golden State Warriors) and guard Patty Mills (Portland Trail Blazers) getting call-ups. But you can still find other NBA short-termers in center Lance Allred (three games with the Cleveland Cavaliers in 2007-08), guard Coby Karl (17 games with the Lakers in 2007-08; three games with the Cavaliers earlier this season) and guard Donell Taylor (98 games in two seasons with the Washington Wizards from 2005-07) .

Again, that’s just from one D-League box score. Dissect the other 14 teams in the league and scour the international leagues and you will find a ton of others hoping to land that one 10-day NBA contract, thinking that will be their ticket to the big leagues.

The odds are stacked against all these guys and getting that short taste of the NBA only fuels hope they will someday stick for the long-term. Others know getting paid to play basketball isn’t a bad way to make a living.

But what it leaves me thinking is this: How dumb is it that so many college players annually leave school early to chase an NBA dream that often doesn’t come to fruition?