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Brad Hurt

Gasol out indefinitely with MCL sprain posted by Brad Hurt

An MRI on Marc Gasol's left knee, which he injured in the first half of the Grizzlies' loss to the San Antonio Spurs on Friday night, revealed a Grade 2 sprain of the medial collateral ligament (MCL).  The injury, similar to one suffered two years ago by Zach Randolph, will keep Gasol out of action indefinitely but will not require surgery.  Kosta Koufos will start in his place.  This is a huge blow for the team, both in terms of production and morale.  The injury has been called "non-contact", although there could have been some contact as it occurred while the Spurs' Danny Green posted up against Gasol and backed into him.  Even so, it's still a freakish, unfortunate injury.Continue reading "Gasol out indefinitely with MCL sprain"

Brad Hurt

Gasol leaves loss with knee sprain posted by Brad Hurt

The Grizzlies had reason to be proud as they returned home Friday to face the perennially tough San Antonio Spurs.  They had just finished the most successful West Coast road trip in a decade.  Now they would have the FedEx Forum crowd behind them to urge them to victory.  Unfortunately, the Spurs would have none of that, playing the role of the rude houseguests with a 102-86 victory.

Potentially far worse for the home team, however, is the fact that center Marc Gasol left the game after suffering a non-contact injury to his left knee early in the second quarter and did not return.  The team is calling it a sprain, and Gasol will undergo an MRI today.  Losing Gasol for any extended period of time would be a crushing blow to the team.  He is currently averaging 16 points and more than 7 rebounds per game, teaming up with Zach Randolph to form an imposing post duo.  Randolph has been putting up monster numbers in his own right, but losing Gasol would undoubtedly change the way teams choose to defend Randolph, enabling more double-and-triple teams.  The Grizzlies currently have the 23rd-ranked offensive output in the league, averaging 94.1 points per game.  Ideally, they would like to see that number increase as they work toward a return to the playoffs come April.  Gasol is also a great veteran leader for the team, and intangibles are difficult to replace.  So let's hope the sprain isn't too severe and Gasol can return to action soon.

Continue reading "Gasol leaves loss with knee sprain"


Brad Hurt

Close call: Grizzlies rally for sweep posted by Brad Hurt

It was anything but easy, but the Memphis Grizzlies outlasted the Golden State Warriors, 88-81 in overtime on Wednesday night to complete a perfect West Coast road trip.

The comeback happened largely thanks to the team's Grit N Grind mentality.  After spotting the home team a double-digit lead in the opening quarter, the Grizzlies (7-5) relied on strong defense to get back into the game.  They had to overcome a 12-point deficit in the second half to escape with their 11th consecutive head-to-head win over the 8-4 Warriors.  They won the third quarter 25-13 behind a 17-2 run led by Zach Randolph's eight points in the period.  Randolph finished with another double-double of a team-high 21 points and 12 rebounds.

Ball control played a huge part in the win as the Grizzlies turned the ball over only seven times.

The Grizzlies shot only 38 percent for the game, led by Marc Gasol's 6-of-14 effort.  Gasol added 11 rebounds to his 18 points to join Randolph with a double-double.  His pair of free throws with 2:02 left in the fourth quarter forced the game into overtime.  Mike Conley also finished in double figures scoring for the Grizzlies, scoring 19 points and draining the go-ahead 3-pointer in overtime.  The Grizzlies' bench came up large, outscoring the Warriors' reserves 16-7.  Kosta Koufos led the Grizzlies subs with seven points and grabbed eight rebounds.

Andrew Bogut led the Warriors with 12 points and 14 rebounds.

This trip proved the Grizzlies can compete with some of the top teams in the West.  It is never easy to win away from home, and putting together a streak like this shows the character and fight this team has.

Continue reading "Close call: Grizzlies rally for sweep"


Brad Hurt

Grizzlies seek first road sweep since '04 posted by Brad Hurt

The Grizzlies have reeled off three straight wins on the road since falling at home to Toronto last Wednesday.  West Coast trips are usually daunting, but the Grizzlies have found ways to win to this point.  Their current trip reaches its conclusion tonight in Oakland as the Grizzlies (6-5) take on the Pacific-leading Golden State Warriors (8-3), winners of four straight.  So someone will see a streak end.  If the Grizz get the win, they will have their first road sweep of at least four games since March 2004.  The Warriors are 5-0 at home this season, a mark the Clippers also had before falling to the Grizzlies on Monday.

The Warriors boast five players averaging double figures in scoring at this point in the season, led by Klay Thompson's 20.5 points per game.  Sensational guard Stephen Curry is a close second with 19.9 points per game.  Curry, who usually gets top billing as the team's superstar leader, will miss Wednesday's game with a concussion.

The Grizzlies have seen good balance offensively.  Mike Conley is off to a good start, scoring 18.7 points and dishing out around six assists per game.  As he has gone over the past few years, so have gone the Grizzlies.  He seems to be over the confidence issues and inconsistency that plagued him a couple of years ago, when trade rumors surrounded him.  Marc Gasol and Zach Randolph have been key for the Grizzlies, continuing to comprise one of the biggest post tandem threats in the league.  Gasol is putting up 17 points and seven rebounds per game on the season.  However, on this trip he is scoring over 20 points per game with 8+ rebounds and 8+ assists.  Randolph is leading the team with 9.2 rebounds per game while scoring 16.1 points per contest on a career-high 55 percent shooting clip.

Continue reading "Grizzlies seek first road sweep since '04"


Brad Hurt

Tony Allen Receives Dubious Suspension posted by Brad Hurt

The NBA has announced that Tony Allen will be forced to sit out the Grizzlies' game at Golden State on Wednesday as he serves a one-game suspension for his actions on Monday. Allen was assessed a Flagrant 2 Foul and ejected from Monday night's 106-102 road win over the Los Angeles Clippers for kicking Chris Paul in the face.  The kick in my opinion was clearly inadvertent as Allen jumped and kicked his legs out in a defensive move against the driving Paul.  Such a move is a fairly common part of today's NBA game and is a natural reaction.  Players want to do all they can to impede the progress of the ballhandler and get the ball free.  I don't think Tony said, "Hmmm...I think I'll kick Chris Paul in the face."  Tony is one of the best defenders in the league and doesn't need to resort to cheap shots to get the job done.  It was just a case of bad timing and an unfortunate accident.  Paul is among the shortest players in the league.  That is the only reason the blow landed where it did and made this an issue.  I can see calling a Flagrant 1 because it's not an everyday occurrence, regardless of alleged intent, but a suspension seems a bit heavy-handed to me.  Save that for thrown punches.  

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=flz-uF9ldls

Continue reading "Tony Allen Receives Dubious Suspension"


Brad Hurt

Grizzlies Adjusting to Changes posted by Brad Hurt

It was an eventful offseason for the Memphis Grizzlies, centering around the drama that comes with a regime change.  Following the franchise's first-ever appearance in the Western Conference Finals, a 4-0 sweep at the hands of the San Antonio Spurs, new owner Robert Pera made his presence known by allowing the expiration of head coach Lionel Hollins' contract.  While stunning in the wake of a string of postseason appearances and a new milestone, this move came as no real shock from a business perspective.  Anytime someone new takes over a team, he is going to want to surround himself with people who fit into his vision for the franchise.  Very few coaches in sports survive changes at the top of an organization for very long.  Displeased by pending changes in the team's philosophy, Hollins made his frustration publicly known, and that did not help any chance he may have had of returning to the bench for the 2013-14 season.

With lead assistant Dave Joerger getting the front office's support as the new head man, the Grizzlies have gotten off to an uneven start, but that is to be expected as the players adjust to the change.  I think bringing in a total stranger would have made the transition more daunting.

So far the biggest asset for the Grizzlies as they try to establish the type of team they are going to be this season has been Zach Randolph.  Z-Bo proved to be very valuable down the stretch last season, and he continues to be a crucial factor in establishing the Grizzlies as a powerful post team.  If Zach continues to be on top of his game and the guards knock down perimeter shots, the Grizzlies will be back contending for a spot in the finals at the end of the season.

Continue reading "Grizzlies Adjusting to Changes"


NBA News

posted by NBA News

The Kansas Jayhawks have a proud tradition in college athletics. Buoyed by their elite basketball program, alumni and fans alike around the country flock to games and spend thousands of dollars per year on merchandise. You can show your support for the Jayhawks by going online or stopping by the campus bookstore to  shop Kansas jerseys today.

A Jayhawks jersey makes a great birthday or Christmas gift for the fan in your life. If you are about to go to a Kansas basketball or football game, having a jersey to wear to the stadium will help you fit in with the other Jayhawks faithful. 

Kansas students and alumni may qualify for discounts on merchandise just for going to the school. Those who buy their jerseys online may be able to get free or discounted shipping on their orders. Customers who buy a jersey as a gift can include a gift receipt as well as track the status of the order online to ensure that it gets to the recipient in a timely manner. 

Any Kansas fan would be proud to wear school colors on game day whether they are watching the game at the stadium or watching it with friends at home. If you have a credit card and an Internet connection, you are never more than a couple of minutes away from getting your own Kansas Jayhawk merchandise.Continue reading ""


NBA News

Lessons I learned from playing poker that helped my improve my basketball skills posted by NBA News

Poker is a game that some try to discourage due to its perceived association to gambling. Some parents may discourage their children from playing the game; for fear that it could eventually lead to a gambling problem. However, this attitude is wrong, given the many benefits that both children and adults can gain from playing the game.

Playing poker requires a diverse range of skills that you acquire over some period of time. These skills can be applied in different areas of your life, from the sports you participate in to businesses and the personal relationships and interactions you have to handle on a day to day basis.

Making Timely Decisions

One of the ways lock poker helped me improve my basketball skills, was to improve my ability to make judgments. I learned to read non verbal cues that I could read from my opponents and use that to make split second decision. It made me realize that non verbal cues can add improve decision making. I realized it is possible to learn to look for this cues as when training and playing in the field, without necessarily knowing what to look out for.

The beauty of poker, is that it helps you to learn things faster. You recognize patterns and learn to identify them quickly. The game has a tight feedback system that enhances the learning process. Other games do not. But if you play this game for an extended period of time, you will teach your mind to identify these patterns.

Taking Risks

Another way that this poker helped me to improve my basketball skills was to learn how and when to take risks. The consequences of taking certain risks become apparent almost immediately. As a result you learn to weigh the risks. You become increasingly aware of the weight of your actions and learn to make the right decision on your feet.

Continue reading "Lessons I learned from playing poker ..."


NBA News

Tips To Becoming A Professional Sports Bettor posted by NBA News

Gambling is one of the oldest forms of commercial activities known to man.  There are many types of gambling and one of the most popular is sports betting.  To put it in layman’s term, sports betting is simply predicting and placing a wager on the outcome of a sports event.

For most people, sports betting is merely a hobby that can be addictive and engaging. People place wagers on the outcome of the Super Bowl, for instance. Through sports betting, cheering for a particular team or athlete becomes more thrilling since there is money involved.

However, for some people, sports betting is not just a recreational activity that they enjoy. In fact, they rely on sports betting for their main source of income. These professional sports bettors don’t just rely on luck. After all, luck can’t be on their side most of the time to make sports betting their primary source of income.

Sports betting is not for everyone. It takes a lot of guts for people to make sports betting their bread and butter. For the few who are inclined to make sports betting their number one source of income, here are some tips to become successful in this endeavor.

The first key to being a professional sports bettor is to learn how to be detached to a certain sports team or athlete. In sports betting, it is very common for recreational bettors to place a wager on their favorite team or athlete. For instance, a bettor from New York is inclined to put his money on the Knicks instead of, say, the Miami Heat. Emotional attachment to a sports team or athlete is one of the obstacles to becoming a successful professional sports bettor. When one bets solely or mainly on the basis of preference, then there are higher chances that he or she will end up on the losing side.

Continue reading "Tips To Becoming A Professional Sports Bettor"


NBA News

NBA BasketBall Betting, the Top Teams and their Prospects for 2013, 2014 Season posted by NBA News

In the 2012, 2013 prediction of the NBA game seven, Miami Heat were the favorites to win according to basketball sports betting sites. They went ahead to win against the spurs. Miami Heat were defending their title for the second time. Spurs were not the favorites but they had raised hope in many people that they had a chance to take the title. Most odd makers had put odds in the fact that the game will be close. This prediction also came to be true with the final 95, 88 score. There are those that are looking for Miami Heat’s prospect for the 2013-2014 season.

Defending the Title

Miami Heat are favorites to win again in early predictions for this season. The Lebron James magic is expected to play out again as he leads his time to another victory and defend their title. Some predict that Lebron may retain his Most Valuable Player of the year title this coming season. He has consistently shown his skills in shooting, defending and attacking.

On the other hand it may be too early to judge. What are the real prospects of defending the title? Defending the title for the third time will not be that easy. There is talk of Dwayne Wade’s knee injury. Whether he will be part of the action next season and whether Lebron can do without him, is another important factor that will determine the prospects for the team this coming season.

Westbrook’s Return to Oklahoma City

Another team to watch is Oklahama City Thunder. Some odds place it second for the title after Miami Heat. Their prospects are also good. The team up of Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook is going to be interesting to watch this season. The two are expected to help lead the team towards the title. However Russell has been on crutches and is widely expected to recover in time but how well he recovers and the level of his game remains to be seen.

Continue reading "NBA BasketBall Betting, the Top Teams ..."

NBA Basketball News

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Cowboys, Patriots top Forbes NFL franchise value list; Bills, Rams on bottom (Shutdown Corne

Want to buy an NFL franchise? Better liquidate grandma's AT&T stock. Forbes has come out with its annual list of the NFL's most valuable franchises , and there are some familiar names at the top. The Dallas Cowboys and New England Patriots top the list, coming in well above the exorbitant $2 billion that the NBA's Los Angeles Clippers were recently sold for. [ Smack talk season is back at Yahoo Sports: Sign up and play free Fantasy Football! ] The Cowboys, which Forbes estimates will generate a combined $8.6 million in revenue for the team over the next five years with its massive JerryWorld stadium and fans the world over, are tops at a whopping $3.2 billion. The Patriots check in at a still-impressive $2.6 billion — not bad for a franchise Robert Kraft bought back in 1994 for a measley $172 million. The average franchise now is valued at $1.43 billion, the highest figure in the past 17 years that Forbes started tracking NFL team finances. That average took a massive boost of 23 percent from one year ago, which was the biggest one-year increase percentage since 1999. With reports out that the for-sale Buffalo Bills are garnering offers well north of $1 billion, it might surprise you to find out that they came in 31st of the 32 teams at a value of $935 million. But if that same trend of value increase continues, the Bills' new owner likely can feel better about their purchase in the golden-egg-laying NFL. Bringing up the rear on the list: the St. Louis Rams, whose stadium issues loom as a concern, at $930 million. Oft mentioned as a possible Los Angeles candidate should Rams owner Stan Kroenke seek to move the team folliowing the expiration of the Edward Jones Dome, that value could skyrocket with the right stadium situation and league support — i.e. hosting a Super Bowl down the road. Here's the list in its entirety: Forbes rank NFL franchise Estimated value 1 Dallas Cowboys $3.2 billion 2 New England Patriots $2.6 billion 3 Washington Redskins $2.4 billion 4 New York Giants $2.1 billion 5 Houston Texans $1.85 billion 6 New York Jets $1.8 billion 7 Philadelphia Eagles $1.75 billion 8 Chicago Bears $1.7 billion 9 San Francisco 49ers $1.6 billion 10 Baltimore Ravens $1.5 billion 11 Denver Broncos $1.45 billion 12 Indianapolis Colts $1.4 billion 13 Green Bay Packers $1.38 billion 14 Pittsburgh Steelers $1.35 billion 15 Seattle Seahawks $1.33 billion 16 Miami Dolphins $1.3 billion 17 Carolina Panthers $1.25 billion 18 Tampa Bay Buccaneers $1.23 billion 19 Tennessee Titans $1.16 billion 20 Minnesota Vikings $1.15 billion 21 Atlanta Falcons $1.13 billion 22 Cleveland Browns $1.12 billion 23 New Orleans Saints $1.11 billion 24 Kansas City Chiefs $1.1 billion 25 Arizona Cardinals $1 billion 26 San Diego Chargers $995 million 27 Cincinnati Bengals $990 million 28 Oakland Raiders $970 million 29 Jacksonville Jaguars $965 million 30 Detroit Lions $960 million 31 Buffalo Bills $935 million 32 St. Louis Rams $930 million     - - - - - - - Eric Edholm is a writer for Shutdown Corner on Yahoo Sports. Have a tip? Email him at edholm@yahoo-inc.com or follow him on Twitter! Follow @Eric_Edholm [read full article]

From Yahoo Sports


The Philadelphia 76ers, shockingly, are reportedly against a proposed revamp of the NBA lottery

The argument against NBA teams tanking games is tired and silly. For decades, pro squads have given up on entire seasons in order to develop young talent and secure high-end draft picks, but it wasn’t until 2013-14 the hyperdrive media and those who tend to fall in lockstep with their favorite TV/radio shows and/or writers started to kvetch about things. Recently, Grantland’s Zach Lowe broke the news about the league considering a percentage-based variation on determining draft lottery odds. We strongly discouraged the league to pass on the idea , and we weren’t alone. The Philadelphia 76ers –the squad that lost 26 straight games last season while sitting out its top draft pick, a franchise that may sit out its current top draft pick for most or not all of 2014-15 –are also strongly objecting to the idea. Thanks a lot, Sixers. Way to tramp down the clichés and play against role. From Brian Windhorst at ESPN : The NBA is pushing toward changes to the draft lottery system by next season but is facing a strong objection from the Philadelphia 76ers, the franchise that could suffer the most from it, multiple sources told ESPN.com. […] The rough draft of this plan was met with opposition by 76ers management, which is in the midst of a multiseason rebuilding project that is dependent on a high pick next year. The 76ers, sources said, are hoping to get the NBA to delay the plan's implementation for at least a year because it would act as a de facto punishment while just playing by the rules that have been in place. The 76ers, however, may struggle to gain support from Silver or fellow teams for holding off on the changes. Philadelphia's planned sink to the bottom has caused a drag on revenues in one of the league's largest markets and has upset some other teams, sources said. The Sixers want the NBA to pass on preventing them from doing the best possible job they can to improve their franchise. This is essentially what this boils down to. The 76ers will lose again in 2014-15, possibly more often than they did in 2013-14, when the lottery “rewarded”them with the third overall pick. Philadelphia will then enter the 2015 offseason with two of the best young big men in the game, the 2014 Rookie of the Year, another high-end lottery pick, a coveted stashed prospect still developing overseas and a massive amount of cap space. Philadelphia is taking a year off, because after years of trying to overpay overrated talent under various personnel bosses including Billy King, Rod Thorn, Ed Stefanski and Doug Collins, the 76ers are rebuilding the right way. And sometimes “the right way”takes two seasons. Compare this Sixers setup with what we’ve seen in recent years in Dallas and with the Los Angeles Lakers. Those Lakers just signed Carlos freakin’Boozer. They just signed Jordan Hill to a contract that nears eight figures per year, one they will no doubt decline the second year of the deal. They could waive Steve Nash, but don’t want a portion of his contract carrying over into the 2015 and '16 offseason. The team just took on a draft pick for the right to pay Jeremy Lin $14 million in actual payroll this season, and unless Linsanity breaks out in Pacific Time this season he most certainly won’t be around past 2015. Dallas? The Mavericks let their starting center go in the offseason following their 2011 championship, and he went on to win the Defensive Player of the Year award in 2011-12. Dallas did nothing but hire a series of rentals in the 2011 and 2012 offseasons, only diving in to dole out multiyear deals in 2013. It punted away two years of Dirk Nowitzki’s near-prime in order to hoard cap flexibility for the following summer, knowing full well the peak output of the team it was creating would be 45 wins or so at best. What about Orlando, dismantling a division winner in 1999 in anticipation of the next offseason? What about when Seattle decided it didn’t want to pair Ray Allen and Rashard Lewis with Kevin Durant in 2007? What about Jerry Krause, rolling over cap flexibility in both 1999 offseasons (there were two, technically), and in 2000? And in 2001? And in 2002? What about this? [read full article]

From Yahoo Sports


Magic Johnson: 'If I don't see another 3-pointer from a Laker team, I'll be happy.' (B

During the 1990-91 season, a campaign that saw the Los Angeles Lakers ride a fifth-ranked offense all the way to the NBA Finals, Magic Johnson and Byron Scott led the team in attempting 250 and 219 3-pointers, respectively. No other Laker even broke triple digits in triples attempts, as the aging Laker backcourt relied more and more on the perimeter bombs to contribute. It would be the last season the two would play together, as Johnson retired the next November after being diagnosed with HIV, and Scott went on to a respected journeyman career as a 3-point specialist. Both eventually returned to the Lakers for one final NBA season – Magic in 1996, Scott the next season – with Magic continuing to rely on his push shot from outside the arc, and Scott taking nearly half his attempts from long range. This is why it was more than a little curious that Magic would offer a particularly nasty take on the shot that has served him so well, in talking up Scott’s recent hire as coach of the Los Angeles Lakers . From Eric Pincus at the Los Angeles Times : "The team is better than what we had last season, because we have more guys who can do more things than just shoot 3-pointers," said Johnson.  "If I don't see another 3-pointer from a Laker team, I'll be happy." Now, that last line about never seeing another trey thrown up by a member of his beloved team might be a throwaway joke, but Magic has taken his anti-Mike D’Antoni crusade to all-time heights. D’Antoni should not have been hired by the Lakers in 2012. The Lakers’ front office should not have attempted to build a philosophy that resembled Steve Nash and D’Antoni’s former Phoenix Suns squads, as the franchise should have made a better attempt to work around the low-post stylings of Dwight Howard and Pau Gasol. It’s just fine to criticize both the hire and D’Antoni’s work, as we all have, without looking tacky at best and downright mean at worst. I mean: Happy days are here again! Mike D'Antoni resigns as the Lakers coach. I couldn't be happier! — Earvin Magic Johnson (@MagicJohnson) May 1, 2014 The Lakers will be better this year, because Kobe Bean Bryant will be there this year. Even if he can’t help but work in a diminished state, he’s Kobe. Don’t count out Kobe. The Lakers won’t take as many 3-pointers next year because Scott won’t replicate D’Antoni’s high-end pace, which inflates raw numbers, and specialist Jodie Meeks (who saved the Lakers at times last year) signed with Detroit, but they’ll still fire away. Nick Young has been retained by the team, Bryant will shoot from long range and point guard Jeremy Lin shot just as many 3-pointers per minute last year as former Laker point man Kendall Marshall. A returning Steve Nash relies on the shot quite a bit as well. And frankly, outside of the return of Kobe, who are these “guys who can do more things?” Grabbing a solid lottery selection in Julius Randle was nice, and the much-maligned Carlos Boozer may have a bounce-back season in Los Angeles, but those are clear downgrades from Pau Gasol; even with Gasol’s injury history. Lin is better than Marshall, but he’s not a knockout, and expecting some exceptional growth from Nick Young as a player after he gets back from his summer out with Iggy Azalea and firing 30-footers at the Drew League seems a bit much. From there it seems like Magic is expecting quite a lot from Kobe, which is fine, and a steep upgrade as his favorite team moves from Mike D’Antoni to Byron Scott. That’s an iffy one, even if D’Antoni was a poor fit for Howard, Gasol and eventually Bryant. Judging coaches by raw won-loss totals is always just as iffy, but Scott does have over more than 100 more losses than wins as a coach, and he’s coming off three seasons in Cleveland that were disappointing even by rebuilding standards. There is a chance his Princeton-inspired musings on offense could do good things for offense-only types like Bryant, Nash, Young, Lin and Boozer, but by and large this roster still looks like a bit of a tire fire. And only different because Magic Johnson’s former 3-point buddy is coaching it, as opposed to the guy he never liked. We hope Magic gets over the Mike D’Antoni era eventually enough. More NBAcoverage: - - - - - - - Kelly Dwyer is an editor for Ball Don't Lie on Yahoo Sports. Have a tip? Email him at KDonhoops@yahoo.com or follow him on Twitter! Follow @KDonhoops Related Video: [read full article]

From Yahoo Sports


The 2014 NBA Rookie Photo Shoot featured lots of sweet dunking, trick-shot-making challenges (Vi

The NBA's annual Rookie Photo Shoot would be wonderful enough if all it gave us was awkward still shots of each year's Kelly Olynyk . In recent years, though, the photo opp has turned into an impromptu dunk contest , with members of the rookie class strutting their stuff, showcasing their springs and instantly sharing the fruits of their labors via social media. The rooks added an extra wrinkle to this summer's mid-shoot exhibition —a bit of a "can you top this?" competition featuring direct Twitter challenges. It all seems to have started with Minnesota Timberwolves second-rounder Glenn Robinson III calling out his new teammate , lottery-pick high-flyer Zach LaVine, to top this 360-degree windmill dunk: As you might expect, given the UCLA product's résumé, LaVine accepted, pulling off this off-the-wall, through-the-legs righty throwdown: ... before paying the challenge forward to No. 1 overall pick Andrew Wiggins, rocking ( for now , at least) the wine and gold of the Cleveland Cavaliers. The former Kansas standout responded in kind, making the act of getting airborne, spinning, switching hands behind your back and finishing look entirely too easy: Here's another look at that from the baseline: Wiggins kicked the challenge over to fellow Canadian and Phoenix Suns point guard Tyler Ennis, who ... well, took things in a different direction. (More on that in asec.) The dunking displays didn't stop, though, with Sacramento Kings guard Nik Stauskas getting creative on the floor before getting in the air: ... and Boston Celtics point man Marcus Smart showing some power with the off-the-bounce double-pump reverse: ... and Charlotte Hornets power forward Noah Vonleh looking awful springy in those super-cool purple-and-teal duds : ... and Toronto Raptors mystery man Bruno Caboclo displaying his remarkable wingspan with a through-the-legs reverse: There was also quite a bit of teamwork at the shoot, with multiple freshmen-to-be showing off their love of the extra pass to set up a fellow rook for a furious finish. The young Wolves who lit the candle on the competition showed their love of sharing, with Robinson III setting up LaVine: ... and LaVine returning the favor: Celtics draftee Smart set aside future Atlantic Division beef to set up Brooklyn Nets second-rounder Markel Brown, his former Oklahoma State teammate, for a whirling slam: Atlanta Hawks big man Adreian Payne got to be the beneficiary of multi-pass work on a couple of occasions, with Orlando Magic point guard Elfrid Payton and Los Angeles Lakers power forward Julius Randle doing the honors once: ... and a handful of fellow rooks —Payton, New York Knicks wing Cleanthony Early, Celtics swingman James Young, Randle and Magic forward Aaron Gordon —setting him up for another: The crispest three-way dance came courtesy of former Michigan men Stauskas, Oklahoma City Thunder big man Mitch McGary and Robinson III: McGary proved to be quite a nimble facilitator for a 6-foot-10, 255-pounder, offering a soccer-inspired feed to fellow OKC draft pick and future D-Leaguer Josh Huestis: McGary's most triumphant work, however, came in this unparalleled feat of athleticism and acrobatics: Not to be outdone, the Magic's Gordon showcased the brand of panache that leaves children's ankles pulverized with this off-the-wall homage to Michael Finley : I'm not sure that tops McGary's flawless floor work, but it's an admirable attempt, if nothing else. Back to the aforementioned Ennis: Since the Suns point guard couldn't match his north-of-the-border-bro Wiggins in feats of aerial assault, he decided to introduce H-O-R-S-E style shot-making into the proceedings: Ennis' trip behind the basket opened the door for some of the not-quite-as-high-flying members of the Class of 2014 to get in on the fun. Rodney Hood of the Utah Jazz checked in from the not-so-short corner: Chicago Bulls sharpshooter Doug McDermott offered his spin on Kobe Bryant's favorite H-O-R-S-E shot : The San Antonio Spurs' Kyle Anderson got a little trickier (and, to be fair, a little closer, too) with his take: Jabari Parker, the No. 2 overall pick of the Milwaukee Bucks, went behind the back: ... and Miami Heat point guard Shabazz Napier topped him by making Parker's short shot from long distance (albeit on his sixth try ): And last, but certainly not least, here's recuperating Philadelphia 76ers center Joel Embiid, walking boot and all, taking a page out of the great Kareem Abdul-Jabbar's book: Hi, Rihanna . My personal quick picks for best of the bunch: the Smart-to-Brown Oklahoma State connection, the Michigan three-man weave, Napier's behind-the-back heave and, of course, McGary's tumble. Feel free to share yours in the comments below. - - - - - - - Dan Devine is an editor for Ball Don't Lie on Yahoo Sports. Have a tip? Email him at devine@yahoo-inc.com or follow him on Twitter! Follow @YourManDevine Stay connected with Ball Don't Lie on Twitter @YahooBDL , "Like" BDL on Facebook and follow BDL's Tumblr for year-round NBA talk, jokes and more. [read full article]

From Yahoo Sports

Ray Allen on joining LeBron James in Cleveland: 'I haven’t had that conversation' (B

“Ring-chasing”is an oft-derided modern phenomenon. It wasn’t mocked in 1985 when Bill Walton demanded a trade to either the champion Los Angeles Lakers or would-be champion Boston Celtics, but for some reason (deduce as you will) it was roundly criticized in 2003 when Gary Payton and Karl Malone took far, far less money than they were being offered elsewhere to sign with the Lakers; a team that actually hadn’t even won a ring the year before. In the years since, just about every player who has joined a team along those lines has gotten the same treatment, even down to the sainted Shane Battier and Ray Allen as they joined the (in Battier’s case, non-champion) Miami Heat. Battier earned two rings with the Heat before retiring, while Allen earned his second ring as a pro in 2013. Allen currently is considering stepping down after a Hall of Fame-level career. Or, he could follow LeBron James to the Cleveland Cavaliers, and hear the catcalls from those who have no idea what it’s like to be in a locker room when the champagne starts spraying. Allen discussed his impending decision in a discussion with Mark Murphy at the Boston Herald : "No," he said when asked about the assumption that he would return as a Cavalier. "There’s so much speculation about me going to Cleveland. I haven’t even decided where I will play. Obviously LeBron and I are great friends, and James Jones and I are really close. But at no point have those two tried to push me in that direction. I haven’t had that conversation. LeBron and I went on vacation to the Bahamas earlier this summer, and we didn’t talk one iota about things. And that was before he made his decision. "It’s just what they start talking about on TV —where I’m supposed to go. I have not leaned towards Cleveland," said Allen. "I have not made any mention of going to Cleveland. These last two months were about me physically, and deciding whether I want to play again." Instead, Allen is weighing family concerns and a major question of whether he wants to retire in prime physical shape, or whether he wants to chase his third NBA title. That will most likely mean leaving Miami, his city of the last two years. Allen said he has not talked with Heat general manager Pat Riley, or any other member of the Heat organization, about returning. "That’s the other dilemma. If I do play again, based on what Miami is doing or not doing, I’ll end up having to move," he said. "I’ll live in Miami, but I’ll have to move to another team." Yes, “where the dude and his family actually live.”Something that gets lost way, WAY too often as we discuss these players as assets, and complain when they stay in their incumbent cities, declining to pull up roots and move. In Allen’s case it would be the fourth such move of his career, not counting the time he was traded just minutes after being drafted by the Minnesota Timberwolves. We know, we know –world’s tiniest violin. Allen’s potential “veteran’s minimum”contract with Miami or Cleveland (and probably not with Doc Rivers’Los Angeles Clippers, who are just about hard-capped out) would make him yet another million, even if it will underpay for the sort of services he provides. Ray’s three-point shooting declined last season, but anyone who watched a Heat game and took in the “oh no oh no oh no oh no”-reaction that defenses gave Miami while collapsing on an open Allen will attest to what he brings to the table. Does he want to return to that table, though? Typically, when athletes retire, they do it right away. Sick of the grind, the game, or any other number of elements, they’ll pack it up right after the season ends, or even announce before a campaign that this is the final year, I’ve had it, I’m out . Now that we’ve entered early August, it wouldn’t be wrong to assume that Allen is considering giving it another go, and returning for one final year, mainly because he didn’t throw up his hands as soon as the San Antonio Spurs were done dismantling (literally, it turns out) the Miami Heat. Allen is no ordinary, typical athlete; he’s an intelligent sort that doesn’t have to follow the same path that his predecessors in basketball or other sports have. Remember, he’s famously devoted to his physical routine both during the season and in the summer months, and his declaration that the “last two months were about me physically”is a nod to that brand of obsessive orthodoxy. From there come the ring-chasing “charges.”It’s nice to win a ring. It’s fun to play with really good basketball players, and it’s even better fun to play with really good basketball players that (as itis with Allen and LeBron James) you’re also really good friends with. What would Allen’s would-be detractors want him to do? Stay in Miami for a middling team, the same franchise they criticized him for joining? End his career with a team in Milwaukee that once traded him? Go to Oklahoma City because they were kind of the SuperSonics once? Wait, no, that would be ring-chasing. It’s understandable that NBA fans are sick of supposed superteams, but LeBron James just joined a potential-laden franchise in Cleveland that is no strong guarantee to win a championship during James’prime over the next couple of years even with Allen. Carmelo Anthony declined to set up shop in Chicago, the designed superteam in Los Angeles failed miserably with Dwight Howard in the middle, Houston has so far been unable to acquire a third star, and the former superteam in Miami won just two rings in four tries, one of them just barely. “Superteam-up at your own peril,”we should probably say. We should also truly hope that we haven’t watched the last game of NBA basketball that Ray Allen will ever play, and we certainly shouldn’t criticize him should he decide to “follow”LeBron James to Cleveland and spot up in the corner for the emerging Cavaliers. This would involve a man leaving his family for months at a time while dealing with, um, significant climate change in order to try to earn another championship –the sort of thing huge gobs of fans yell at players for declining to do all the time. The only decision that Ray Allen could make that we should boo would be the decision to retire from the NBA. Then, after that initial “boo,”we should all stand and applaud the man’s legendary career. Check out what's buzzing on the Yahoo Sports Minute: - - - - - - - Kelly Dwyer is an editor for Ball Don't Lie on Yahoo Sports. Have a tip? Email him at KDonhoops@yahoo.com or follow him on Twitter! Follow @KDonhoops [read full article]

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