Tag:2012 All-Star Weekend
Posted on: March 6, 2012 7:03 pm
Edited on: March 6, 2012 7:12 pm
 

Report: Kobe fined for skipping All-Star events

Kobe Bryant took a hit in the pocketbook for not doing this. (CBSSports.com)
Posted by Ben Golliver 

23 of the 24 2012 NBA All-Stars showed up for a mandatory Friday morning media availability in Orlando. The one absentee -- Los Angeles Lakers guard Kobe Bryant -- called in sick. That proved to be a costly decision.

USA Today reports that the NBA fined Bryant $40,000 for multiple All-Star Weekend absences.
The NBA fined the Los Angeles Lakers guard $40,000 for missing a news conference and a mandated charity appearance for NBA Cares during All-Star weekend in Orlando.

In addition, the NBA fined Boston Celtics forward Paul Pierce and guard Rajon Rondo $20,000 each for missing their charity appearances.
Reporters stood around for the better part of an hour on Friday, waiting for Bryant to show up. Eventually, a league spokesman informed the crowd that Bryant would not be attending due to an illness.

Bryant did attend events later on Friday and eventually met with reporters before a Saturday practice session. There, he immediately brought up his absence when asked a question he didn't like.

"What type of question is that to ask me? Are you kidding me?" Bryant said. "Man, I was sick the other day so I didn't have to hear this."

According to StoryTellersContracts.com, Bryant's 2011-2012 salary with the Lakers is $25.2 million, tops in the league. The $40,000 fine represents roughly 1/630 of his salary. The equivalent fine for someone making $50,000 a year would be roughly $79.

Bryant's West team defeated the East, 152-149. Bryant finished with 27 points, 1 rebound, 1 assist and 2 steals in 34 minutes. He also suffered a broken nose when he was fouled by Miami Heat guard Dwyane Wade.
Posted on: February 27, 2012 12:05 am
Edited on: February 27, 2012 10:43 am
 

LeBron James wants to 'take back' late turnover

Fourth quarter. LeBron James. Again. (Getty Images)

Posted by Ben Golliver   

ORLANDO -- Another big stage, and another big mistake. This one doesn't really count, but don't try telling LeBron James that. 

The Miami Heat's prodigiously talented forward began Sunday night by dancing during playing introductions, shimmying with a wide smile for a global television audience. He ended it looking away from the camera, struggling both to maintain eye contact and to keep his head up.

That transformation is one we've seen before, and it was brought on by an all too familiar set of circumstances: the ball was in his hands, the game's outcome was in the balance and the fourth quarter clock was ticking towards zero.  Given the opportunity to win or tie the 2012 All-Star Game, James chose to do what he so often did during the 2011 Finals: He passed. Twice. 

With the East trailing the West, 151-149, James handled the ball out of an inbounds play, opting to find New Jersey Nets guard Deron Williams, who popped open on a screen, rather than attack the basket. Wiliams launched a deep three, which rimmed off. After a scramble for the ball, James came up with possession with roughly five seconds remaining, and Los Angeles Lakers guard Kobe Bryant hawking him near midcourt. James took a few dribbles to his right as New York Knicks forward Carmelo Anthony popped open to the top of the 3-point line, calling for the ball. Instead, James looked off Anthony and attempted to fire a pass through traffic to Heat guard Dwyane Wade, who was cutting in from the left corner.

The pass never had a chance, as Los Angeles Clippers forward Blake Griffin stepped over to easily intercept it. The East was forced to foul immediately to stop the clock, and the West went on to win, 152-149.

"I'll get over with it," a dejected looking James said during a post-game interview on TNT. "I can't turn the ball over like that, let my teammates down like that."

Later, in a post-game press conference, a somber James explained what was going through his head on the final possession.

"I seen my teammate open for a split-second, I told him I seen him open the first time and I didn't release the ball," he said. "When I tried to throw it late -- that's what usually happens and it results in a turnover. Definitely wish I could have that one back."

Here's video of James' late turnover in the 2012 All-Star Game via YouTube user nbaus3030 and @Jose3030.


Williams told reporters that he was the "last option" on the designed play out of the timeout. 

"Coach drew up a great play to give me a shot. There were a couple different options, I was the last option. We went through it and we missed our shot." 

East coach Tom Thibodeau, whose Chicago Bulls were eliminated by the Heat during the 2011 Eastern Conference Finals, said he considered calling another timeout after the loose ball but opted instead to let one of the league's best play-makers do his thing.

"He made a lot of big plays," Thibodeau said. "He made big shots, great reads. You have a scramble situation and an open floor, and you have a very dynamic scorer and a guy with great vision and good decision-making. You know, you can call a time-out and it allows the defense to get set, or you can trust his ability to make a play. Throughout his career, he's shown that he's capable of making big plays."

Given the overwhelming attention paid to James' late-game passivity against the Dallas Mavericks, how was this sequence of events anything but an absurd self-fulfilling prophecy?

James' reputation for late-game struggles added another chapter, and his turnover provided fuel for his critics while erasing an MVP-caliber performance. He finished with a team-high 36 points plus 7 assists, 6 rebounds and countless highlight reel dunks.  James even shot 3-for-4 in the fourth quarter, including 2 3-pointers, helping the East dig out of a 21-point deficit. Those shots and plays will be lost in another wave of "He doesn't want to be The Man when it matters" shouting. All the game-dominating good things disappeared with his fourth and final turnover of the game.

In a twist sure to intensity the endless "Kobe vs. LeBron, LeBron vs. Kobe" debate, James admitted that Bryant, a 5-time champion who has fashioned a reputation for never being bashful about pulling the trigger in late-game situations, was egging him on to shoot.

"Yeah, he was telling me to shoot it," James said. "You have some of the best competitors out on the floor at the same time. Not only me and Kobe, but D. Wade and [Kevin] Durant and [Anthony] and [Chris Paul] and all the rest of the guys. We all wanted to win, and it came down to the last minute or last seconds."

In those final seconds, James took the loss. And his reaction made it clear, because of the circumstances and the recent history, that he took it harder than you might expect given that it won't show up in the standings. No one -- not even a "King" -- likes to repeat the same mistakes.
Posted on: February 26, 2012 11:58 pm
Edited on: February 27, 2012 12:00 am
 

Check that trophy off: Durant wins All-Star MVP

Posted by Royce Young



ORLANDO -- There are certain boxes a player needs to check off while building an all-time resume. And Kevin Durant just pulled out a big red marker.

The 23-year-old superstar has already accomplished quite a lot in his four-plus NBA seasons. He's won two scoring titles. He's been named to the All-Star team three times, twice as a starter. Been named to three All-NBA teams. He's played in the Western Conference Finals. He won the HORSE competition twice in a row. OK, so that last one's not so prestigious.

But now he's got an All-Star MVP. That's a bunch of checks for a guy that only started driving seven years ago.

Durant took home the trophy with a 36-point, seven-rebound, three-assist performance in the West's 152-149 victory over the East in the 2012 All-Star Game in Orlando. He tied with LeBron James for the game-high in points, but taking nine out of 13 possible votes, Durant took home the award.

"It's just exciting to be named an All-Star, but to step it up another level and become MVP, it's only something that as a kid you dream about," Durant said. "Coming from where I come from, I didn't think I would be here. Everything has just been a blessing to me. I'm excited. I'm glad I'm taking this back to Oklahoma City."

It was obvious early on that Durant was serious about this glorified exhibition game. He attacked often, slowed into his gorgeous pull-up game and became the West's offensive focal point. Which is saying something when you're sharing the floor with Chris Paul, Kobe Bryant and Blake Griffin.

Durant had 21 points at the half, 34 at the end of the third quarter and when he checked back in with 7:53 left in the fourth quarter, he had a realistic shot at Wilt Chamberlain's 1962 all-time mark of 42 points in an All-Star Game.

"I didn't know. I didn't know," he said about Chamberlain's mark. "But you know, MVP is something that you want to get in this game, and I'm glad I got it. It made me feel better, all the guys congratulated me. It's just crazy now that I can hoist this trophy."

One thing that helped? Durant's coach, Scott Brooks was leading the Western All-Stars, which meant Durant basically could call his own game. He got a game-high 37 minutes and it was pretty clear that he had an eye on that MVP trophy.

"I wasn’t surprised at all,” he said. “Me and Scotty have been talking about this for a couple of weeks.”

Said Brooks about his golden calf: "He just comes in and does his work. He's a tremendous kid as well as you all know. Off the court, he's classy, he's a special teammate. What he does doesn't surprise me other than he did well at the Three-point Shooting Contest last night. That actually surprised me."

The All-Star Game always has an open feel to it and high point total aren't anything to get excited about. That's just part of it. Players have big games, piling up points on easy dunks, layups and open jumpers. But it does say something about who's getting those looks. It's about who's deferring to who, who's taking control. For instance, with Kobe Bryant on the floor with Durant and the East pulling within a point, it was Durant's running floater that put the West back up three. Durant took the most shots (25) and basically controlled the offense. That's the power of the Durantula -- he pushed the Black Mamba aside and owned the game. Not an easy thing to do.

You can say it was a changing of the guard, a passing of the baton or whatever metaphor you feel like working in, but as Kobe set the all-time mark for points in the game, passing Michael Jordan, Durant took home the MVP and was the West's alpha dog. With three games under his belt, Durant's off to a good start. Bryant sits on 271, Durant 186 shy of that and a lot of years ahead of him.

Said Dwyane Wade, “With KD in the league, I don’t know how long it’s going to last.”

Durant has always preferred to stay humble and quiet about his own other-worldly game, choosing to just let his play do his talking. He's never called himself great, never pointed at anything he's done. And even on one of the NBA's biggest stages after winning one of the game's most prestigious pieces of hardware, he still wouldn't just finally admit he's a real superstar.

"I wouldn't say that yet. Hopefully. Hopefully soon I can say that," he said. "Once I grow old, I can tell my kids that I got an All-Star Game trophy."

Trust me, KD. You're going to be telling your kids about a whole lot more trophies than just that one.
Posted on: February 26, 2012 9:29 pm
Edited on: February 26, 2012 10:25 pm
 

Kobe passes Michael Jordan as top All-Star scorer

Kobe Bryant became the all-time leader in points in the All-Star Game Sunday. (Getty Images)

Posted by Royce Young


ORLANDO -- Kobe Bryant can check another milestone off his list. And it's his favorite kind of milestone -- the kind where he moves past Michael Jordan in something.

In the second half of the 2012 All-Star Game, Kobe passed Jordan for first all-time in total points in the All-Star Game with a dunk late in the third quarter to give him 263 points. He passed Oscar Robertson (246 points) and Kareem Abdul-Jabbar (251) earlier in Sunday night's game.

Bryant, a 14-time All-Star (tied most all-time) and a four-time All-Star MVP, entered the game with 244 points, 18 behind Jordan's all-time mark of 262. Jordan's career-high in an All-Star Game was 40 in 1988. Kobe's was 37 in 2011.

Jordan played in 13 All-Star games, and Kobe's 13th as well. Both were selected to 14.

Kobe's career resume continues to grow to ridiculous proportions. He became the fifth leading all-time scorer earlier this season and with his All-Star appearances, titles (five), an MVP and all the rest he has in his pocket, it's pretty easy to build a top 10, if not top five case for Bryant.


Posted on: February 26, 2012 6:13 pm
Edited on: March 4, 2012 6:25 pm
 

Derrick Williams, Jack fight over Dunk Contest

Jarrett Jack did not think Derrick Williams did well in the dunk contest. (Getty Images)
Posted by Ben Golliver  

There's nothing better than making fun of the Dunk Contest and there's not much more exciting than athlete-on-athlete violence on Twitter, so get ready for a good time right here, right now.

On Saturday night, Minnesota Timberwolves rookie forward Derrick Williams had an up-and-down Dunk Contest. The highlight was his second attempt, a side-of-the-backboard, alley-oop assisted by Ricky Rubio. The lowlight was his third attempt, a string of misses as he tried to complete a self-toss, through-the-legs throwdown.

But it wasn't either of those dunks that set off New Orleans Hornets guard Jarrett Jack. No, it was Williams' first attempt, in which he rode in on a motorcyle with a mascot and then jumped over the bike to throw down a windmill.

On his Twitter account, @JarrettJack03, Jack objected to what he deemed a less-than-masculine scene.

"Definitely against all the man laws ever created. Dudes can't ride on the back of motorcycles," Jack opined. He later pointed out that Williams has a "cash register mouth," a reference to Williams' "underbite."

Jack went on to call the Dunk Contest the "worst... of all time" and explained that Utah Jazz forward Jeremy Evans, the eventual Slam Dunk contest winner, has "dolphin teeth."

It wasn't long before Williams, posting on his account, @realdwill7, felt the need to respond.

"Hahaa who?" Williams wrote when someone informed him of Jack's criticism, implying that he didn't know who the seventh year pro out of Georgia Tech was.

Later, he took an apparent dig at Jack's future with the Hornets, writing: "All I know is come draft night.. That team lookin for a point guard." Shortly thereafter, he realized it might be time to simmer down. "I need to chill. chill button pushed," Williams wrote.

After the extended back and forth, Jack suggested that perhaps Williams needed to be a little more self-effacing. "I hope the dude Derrick Williams aint takin it too serious they are just jokes," he wrote. "If you can't laugh at yourself, what can u really laugh at?"

So that's good. We've apparently reached a Dunk Contest detente. In case you were wondering, the next meeting between the Timberwolves and the Hornets will be on Mar. 10 in Minnesota.
Posted on: February 26, 2012 2:02 pm
Edited on: February 26, 2012 2:06 pm
 

Players react to Saturday's dunk contest

Posted by Royce Young

It might've been the worst dunk contest ever. Still up for debate probably. But one thing is for sure: The consensus on the 2012 Dunk Contest was not positive. Fans actually booed some in the arena and for the most part it created very little buzz, if any. There were a few highlights, but for the most part, it was disappointing.

Kevin Durant's voiced his desire to get some bigger names in the contest. But how did other players react? Here's a compilation of some notable player tweets:
































Posted on: February 26, 2012 1:42 pm
Edited on: February 26, 2012 1:46 pm
 

Nike selling $130 Jeremy Lin shoes

Jeremy Lin has his own Nike shoes. (SlamXHype.com)

Posted by Ben Golliver 

It's gotta be the shoes. How else to explain the rapid rise of New York Knicks guard Jeremy Lin, the roster cut turned global icon?

Nike will begin capitalizing on Lin's incredible rise to fame by selling a $130 version of its Hyperfuse sneakers in New York Knicks colors, according to Reuters. To be clear, these aren't "Air Jeremy's" or "Air Lin" signature models, but they are the shoes worn by Lin this season.

Nike said it will launch the Nike Zoom Hyperfuse Low basketball shoes, built especially for Lin, this weekend in Orlando, Florida, where the NBA is holding its All-Star festivities.

"It's not a signature line but a version of the shoe that he's been wearing this season," the company told Reuters.

The Hyperfuse sneaker is one of the most popular models worn by NBA players. Lin's version features his last name on the tongue of each shoe.

The Oregonian provides additional details
.
The Oregon-based company sent out a notice this evening announcing the Nike Zoom Hyperfuse Low iD basketball shoe created for Lin, the New York Knicks point guard who emerged from near oblivion this weekend to fame. 

The $130 shoe won't be available at off-the-shelf retail, but can be created and purchased at the NikeID.com website. Consumers can replicate the exact customization options of Lin's shoe. 
Newsday reported that a Nike spokesman issued a "no comment" when asked whether Nike has plans to produce a signature line for Lin in the future.

Sneaker companies generally reserves signature lines for established stars. All-Stars Kobe Bryant, Kevin Durant and LeBron James each have signature lines. All-Stars Carmelo Anthony, Chris Paul and Dwyane Wade have signature sneakers under the Jordan Brand umbrella.

Image via SlamXHype.com.
Posted on: February 26, 2012 12:55 pm
Edited on: February 26, 2012 2:13 pm
 

Durant: LeBron, stars need to save Dunk Contest

Kevin Durant wants to stop things like this from happening. (Getty Images)

Posted by Ben Golliver 

There's a consensus: something big needs to change so that the 2012 Slam Dunk Contest never happens again.

In the immediate aftermath of Saturday night's Slam Dunk Contest, which was marred by zero All-Star participants, terrible dunks, too many scripted stories, an absence of judges and a sketchy fan voting process, Oklahoma City Thunder forward Kevin Durant made a clear statement: The NBA's biggest stars need to participate in future Dunk Contests.

"It's time for LeBron James, Mr. [Russell] Westbrook, Mr. [Derrick] Rose and Dwyane Wade to get in the Dunk Contest," Durant tweeted.

"Not me but I agree with the others," Wade replied.

On Friday, James told reporters that he would consider participating in the Dunk Contest if there was a substantial winner-take-all prize.

Durant's list of participants for a dream Dunk Contest is interesting, but imperfect.

Clearly, James is the holy grail. In the heart of his prime at 27 years old, he is probably the NBA's second best in-game dunker, trailing only Blake Griffin. A master of catching lobs, finishing with authority and getting way, way off the ground, he's an absolute no-brainer. Imagine full-court alley-oops, broken rims, backboard slapping. He could even dunk a ball then dunk his headband with the other hand as a response to all his hairline haters. He needs to do a Dunk Contest.

Westbrook, Durant's teammate in Oklahoma City, is an excellent pick as well. He flies at the rim like a scud missile, taking off from deep and finishing with plenty of force. He's got the charisma and moxie not to stand toe-to-toe with James too. He wouldn't shrink. He should definitely be in.

At 30, Wade's dunking prime is probably behind him, although he's still capable of putting anyone in the league on a poster. He would be better cast as the teammate/hype man for James and, realstically, these two would never face off against each other under any circumstances. If the Alpha Dog stuff is bad now, imagine the outcry and headlines if Wade somehow managed to upset James in a Dunk Contest. Let him throw the lob passes and dish out the daps.

Rose's inclusion by Durant is questionable. His physical talents are beyond reproach but his specialty is finishing lay-ups in traffic and/or after drawing contact, not dunking free of obstacles. Would he be compelling in this format? His personality doesn't exactly scream Dunk Contest. He's a technically sound dunker but his efforts are more likely to make you go "mmm" rather than get off your feet and scream.

If James and Westbrook are in this and Wade and Rose are out, the final two spots should be filled by Griffin -- obviously -- and either Dwight Howard... or Durant himself. Howard has been there, done that with the Dunk Contest many times before, but he always seemed to back up the stupid costumes and props with memorable dunks. His flying Superman slam/shove dunk, for example, will stand as a classic for decades. One of the all-time "Wow" Dunk Contest moments. Who wouldn't trade all of Saturday night's contest for that one dunk? No one.

While Durant is not a prototypical Slam Dunk competitor, he has absurd length, good hops, a star's personality and a respect for the history of the game that would likely inspire him to new levels of creativity. If anyone is going to come up wtih something that's never been done before, it's Durant. His wingspan would allow for up and under dunks from the baseline or behind the backboard. Surely James Harden could be on hand to provide the necessary passes and encouragement.

But this is exactly the problem. Everyone, including Durant, wants to see the stars in the Dunk Contest. But none of the stars, including Durant, is ready to step up and nominate themselves to be thrown into the ring.

No doubt, some prize money needs to be involved here, given how central an event this is on the NBA calendar. But the stars should look back at what past Dunk Contests have done for the likes of Howard and Griffin and realize that the "there's nothing to gain and so much to lose" argument doesn't hold much water. Does anyone honestly believe that James would fall on his face during a Dunk Contest? Come on. He would kill it, just like Griffin did last year, and then he would profit off of it for years to come, just like Griffin is doing right now.

Hopefully Durant's Twiter plea is the first in a wave that will finally convince these guys to suck it up and get out there. Peer pressure, in this case, is a very good thing.

 
 
 
 
The views expressed in this blog are solely those of the author and do not reflect the views of CBS Sports or CBSSports.com