Posted on: February 22, 2012 9:17 pm
Edited on: February 22, 2012 9:20 pm
 

JaVale McGee benched for volleyball goaltend

Posted by Ben Golliver  

Washington Wizards center JaVale McGee is the gift that keeps on giving.

In the last 18 months, McGee has gotten into a bar fight with a teammate on Christmas Eve, planked on an airport's moving walkway, sold out his side during a billion dollar labor negotiation, gotten benched for throwing an alley-oop to himself, had his mother refer to him as "the future of the NBA" while she slammed former Wizards coach Flip Saunders, and ran completely the wrong way to play defense while his team still had the ball.

Here's the latest entry in the "Crazy Stuff That Only JaVale McGee Would Do" collection. Box sets available on DVD or VHS.

During the second half of a close Wednesday night game against Sacramento, McGee decided to goaltend a shot by Kings guard Francisco Garcia deep into the stands well after the attempt had reached its pinnacle. The result was akin to a volleyball serve as the ball went flying way, way over and above the Wizards bench. A free souvenir for a lucky fan. Wizards coach Randy Wittman immediately pulled McGee from the game for the action. 

Here's the video of Washington Wizards center JaVale McGee's volleyball goaltending and benching via YouTube user johnctownsend.



Hat tip: Washington Post
Posted on: February 22, 2012 8:07 pm
 

Stern says Hornets could be sold by end of month

Posted by Royce Young

Stop me if you've heard this one before: The New Orleans Hornets will have a new owner soon. It's been a running theme for a while with the league saying buyers were lined up way back in September.

But according to David Stern via an interview with NBA.com, for real this time, the Hornets could be sold soon. Maybe within a couple weeks.
“We’re moving on dual tracks on a buyer, and with the state’s contribution under a new lease that will likely be complete, both of those, by March 1 or on or about March 1. The deal itself can’t close until the legislature confirms the role of the state, and the legislature convenes in March.”
Stern also told USA Today, "I'm optimistic and hopeful that we will complete the sale by the end of the month ... We're talking with multiple perspective buyers, but we're anticipating the ability to close by the end of the month ... We've had offers from seven but winnowed it down to two or three, and we're working on it."

The league has owned the Hornets since George Shinn decided to sell the team but couldn't find a proper buyer. By proper, I mean a buyer that would plan to keep the team in New Orleans. That's been Stern and the league's mission since purchasing the Hornets for an estimated $300 million.

Stern obviously can't wait to wash his hands of the situation as it came to a head with Chris Paul and the rescinding of the trade that sent him to the Lakers. Moving the team to an actual owner is definitely something the NBA wants to do before the end of the season.

But as this thing's gone, it's kind of a believe-it-when-we-see-it thing. Hopefully it's done sooner than later. For everyone's sake, but most of all, for general manager Dell Demps. I'm sure he'd like to go back to a normal working environment.
Posted on: February 22, 2012 7:55 pm
Edited on: February 22, 2012 8:07 pm
 

Michael Jordan sues Chinese apparel company

Posted by Ben Golliver

Michael Jordan is headed to court in China to defend his likeness. (Getty Images)

Lawsuits don't usually come with a website and a promotional video, but I guess Michael Jordan isn't your average plaintiff.

The Basketball Hall of Famer, Chicago Bulls legend and Charlotte Bobcats owner has announced that he is suing a Chinese company for misrepresenting his name and brand. Jordan is suing Qiaodan according to documentation provided on TheRealJordan.com. The Chinese company's name, Jordan's lawsuit alleges, is a "well known" translation of Jordan's name.

"A Chinese sports company has chosen to build a Chinese business off of my Chinese name without my permission," Jordan explained in a video message on the site. "It pains me to see someone misrepresent my identity. I have no other choice but to turn to the courts."

Jordan's name serves as the title for a global sneaker company and an iconic image of him dunking serves as the brand's famous "Jumpman" logo.
 
"I've established a name, a likeness and an identity that represents me, personally," Jordan said. "When you see the Jordan Brand it's a direct connection of who I am, Michael Jordan. I've always thought my name means everything to me. It's something that I own. When someone takes advantage or misrepresents that, it's up for me to protect that."

According to the website, Qiaodan generated more than $450 million worth of revenue in 2010 alone.

"It's not about money, it's about principle," Jordan said. "Your name is your DNA, I think it's a violation and you want to protect it."

Jordan's lawsuit makes the following accusations, according to the website.
Qiaodan Sports has infringed upon Michael Jordan by illegally using his name on its products: Michael Jordan has never authorized Qiaodan Sports to use his name, yet the company has registered several trademarks that include his name and reference his registered brand and his career.

Qiaodan Sports’ use of Michael Jordan’s name and its aggressive marketing tactics have misled Chinese consumers: Qiaodan Sports uses these names without permission in large scale advertising campaigns, including entering a sponsorship agreement with China Central TV (CCTV) at the World University Games and sponsoring Federation Internationale de Basketball Amateur from 2008-2010. In 2009-2010, Qiaodan Sports broadcast its name and logo courtside during U.S. NBA games broadcasted in China. A Shanghai sports product marketing company conducted an independent survey involving 400 respondents in 2009. The survey found out that 90 percent of young people in China’s small cities believed Qiaodan Sports was Michael Jordan’s own brand in China.

Qiaodan Sports has profited from consumer confusion created by its misuse of Michael Jordan’s image and reputation: With over 30 franchises and 4,000-5,000 specialty stores, Qiaodan Sports revenue totals have grown from $45.6MM in 2007 to $456.3MM in 2010.
Jordan's website also states that any monetary compensation resulting from the lawsuit "will be invested in growing the sport of basketball in China."

Clearly, this is big business versus big business in the world's biggest market. A legal undertaking such as this was likely years in the making.

Hat tip: CNBC.com.
Posted on: February 22, 2012 7:19 pm
Edited on: February 22, 2012 7:30 pm
 

Reports: Blazers to sign C Joel Przybilla

Joel Przybilla is reportedly headed back to Portland. (Getty Images)
Posted by Ben Golliver
 
It takes a brave man to play center for the Portland Trail Blazers, and no one ever accused Joel Przybilla of being weak-hearted.

Przybilla, an unrestricted free agent center, has reportedly agreed to sign a 1-year contract with the Blazers for the remainder of the 2011-2012 season, according to Yahoo Sports and The Oregonian.  The deal, which reportedly isn't expected to be official until this week, will reunite Przybilla with the team he spent 6.5 years with, prior to a 2011 trade deadline deal that sent him to the Charlotte Bobcats.

The news of the expected signing comes just days after the Blazers announced center Greg Oden underwent season-ending microfracture knee surgery.

Przybilla has not played during the lockout-shortened season, although his name had come up in rumors linking him to the Miami Heat, Chicago Bulls and Milwaukee Bucks

Known for clogging the middle on defense, and giving hard fouls, Przybilla was a locker room leader for the Blazers before being included in the deal that landed forward Gerald Wallace from Charlotte. Przybilla's playing time was limited during the 2010-2011 season, as he was working his way back from multiple knee surgeries. He will add depth behind starting center Marcus Camby and help fill out a frontcourt that includes All-Star forward LaMarcus Aldridge, Kurt Thomas and the seldom-used Craig Smith and Chris Johnson.

Camby is in the final year of his contract and could be a potential trade chip for the Blazers. Przybilla's presence could potentially make Camby more expendable. 

Portland currently has 15 players on its roster, meaning a player will need to be released or traded to make room for Przybilla's signing. Oden is a likely candidate, as Blazers Acting GM Chad Buchanan said this week that it was possible that he would be released following his latest surgery.

Chris Johnson and second-year guard Armon Johnson are both on minimum-salary contracts so they theoretically could be potential casualties as well. Chris Johnson is Portland's fifth big man and has not seen much time but he has shown flashes in his limited minutes, and he's well-regarded by management. Armon Johnson has played even less, spending most of the season on the inactive list and has appeared in just 1 game, playing five minutes, this year.

Przybilla, 32, is a fan favorite in Portland and has posted career averages of 4.0 points, 6.3 rebounds and 1.5 blocks per game.
Posted on: February 22, 2012 5:38 pm
Edited on: February 22, 2012 8:26 pm
 

LeBron James and a question of taste

LeBron James likes his steak cut and dry. Can he really be the alpha-dog? (Getty Images)

By Matt Moore 

On Tuesday, the blog Cleveland Frowns posted an interview with a server at XO, a Cleveland steakhouse regarding LeBron James. It described his eating behaviors, including the infamous stories about his tipping habits, among other things. There's the usual stuff about James acting like one of the most pampered people on earth, because, well, he's a guy who has "Chosen One" on his back, makes $16 million a year and calls himself King. You kind of have to prepare yourself for some stuff. 

But this? I was not prepared for this (emphasis mine):  
(S)he also told us that LeBron liked to drink apple martinis, which comes as no surprise because apple martinis are delicious, and if you had a job where you could take a four-hour nap every day to sleep off the sugar hangover, you would drink them, too. Relatedly, LeBron would ask his servers to have his steak (well done) already cut up for him, which corroborates a report by a (former?) server at Johnny’s who once told Grzegorek that LeBron would order his spaghetti cut up as well, and also of course enhances the credibility of our source.
via “LeBron liked me because I didn’t put up with his crap” — Exclusive Interview with Former XO Steakhouse Server Who Frequently Waited on the NBA Superstar.

Wait, what? 

Look, I can forgive the appletinis (easy on the tini). I'm not expecting everyone to drink whiskey, scotch or gin (I suppose technically you could make a gin appletini, but I don't consider that real gin). It's a little ridiculous, but the man dunks on Kevin Garnett, I'm willing to let that slide. 

But well-done? 

Cut up for him?

I'm sorry, that's where I draw the line.

And listen, a bunch of stats-loving geeks are going to try and talk to you about food poisoning statistics and eating efficiency. But anyone who's ever actually eaten a steak at the professional level knows that's all nonsense. Real steak-eaters don't think of things like that. And they know that if you're ordering anything above medium-rare, you're essentially saying "please burn all the flavor out of this $35 piece of meat."

Having it cut up for you? What are you, Carlos Boozer? You worried about injury? Pick up your knife and cut your own steak like a man. The last time someone cut up a steak for me, I was six, and it was my mother. Part of the joy of eating a finely cooked steak is slicing into that meat. You know what having someone else do it is? It's the steak version of passing to someone else in the clutch with the clock running down. You're just trying to avoid the moment. I can understand if it's steak frites on the menu. That's like having Wade wide open under the basket screaming for the ball. But otherwise, he's just shrinking from the moment again.

See, this is why LeBron James can never win a championship.

Sure, he can appreciate fine foods and have great cakes delivered for his birthday parties. But when it's clutch time, when it's steak time, he's telling the chef to murder its taste and then having it cut up for him . Michael Jordan never had a steak cut up for him. Kobe probably kills and butchers his own cow. Derrick Rose may accidentally stab the waiter, his date, and the table sixteen times, but by God, he cuts his own and does it with style!This is what separates LeBron from everyone else. Just another example of why he'll never live up to the hype. 

(If for some reason you cannot read through the blinding absurdity of this post, it is not meant to be serious. LeBron can eat his steak however he wants. )

(But for real, LeBron, you need to order that sucker medium-rare.)
Posted on: February 22, 2012 5:09 pm
Edited on: February 22, 2012 6:35 pm
 

Midseason Report Team Grades: Cream rising

Familiar faces are back on the top at the halfway point of the season. (Getty Images)

With 30+ games under everyone's belt, there's been sufficient time for NBA's thirty teams to adjust to the breakneck lockout-shortened season. The midterm results? The cream has mostly risen to the top, with preseason favorites Chicago, Miami and Oklahoma City continuing their dominant play. Traditional powers in San Antonio and Dallas have also emerged after slow (by their standards) starts.

CBSSports.com's Eye On Basketball staff sat down to grade each team based on potential and expectations, graded on a curve. Here's what we came up with. 

Atlantic Division Grades

The Sixers continue to lead the way in the Atlantic. (Getty Images)
by Ben Golliver

Philadelphia 76ers (20-13)


The Sixers followed up a sensational 11-5 first quarter with a middling 9-8 second quarter. Even with the choppy play in February, which includes a current 4-game losing streak, Philly still enjoys a 4-game cushion over its next closest division rivals. The 76ers boast the NBA's best defense, a top-8 offense, a Defensive Player of the Year Candidate in Andre Iguodala and an emerging reliable late-game scoring threat in Lou Williams. Their entire body of work through 33 games deserves top-level recognition.

GRADE: A-

New York Knicks (16-17)

The Knicks are virtually un-gradeable. Any team that discovers a player who is making Jeremy Lin's impact, paying him virtually nothing in the process, deserves an A+++ by default, right? That's the temptation, but this is a grade for the full first half of the season, not just the most exciting free agent find in recent memory. New York is much better than its record, thanks to Tyson Chandler's solid defense and the recent additions of Lin and J.R. Smith. Injury and role questions concerning Carmelo Anthony cast a bit of a shadow but, like MSG stock, the Knicks are a fast riser. 

GRADE: B+

Boston Celtics (15-16)

For everyone's sake, let's hope one of the NBA's most unwatchable teams stumbles down the stretch so we don't have to watch them suffer through them getting swept in a first round playoff series. Boston has been a MASH unit all season and the trade deadline promises to be the most interesting portion of the Celtics' season. The timing of Boston's fall couldn't be better. At least this is the lockout-shortened season to minimize the damage with a fully-stocked draft and free agency class to offer hope just around the corner. 

GRADE: C-

New Jersey Nets (10-24)

The only good thing about New Jersey's season is that Deron Williams hasn't yet publicly demanded a trade or rampaged on his teammates. 10 wins at this point is actually probably a win or two better than expectations given the roster that surrounds Williams and the injuries the team has had to deal with. Completely irrelevant for another season.

GRADE: D

Toronto Raptors (9-23)

The bright side is that Toronto's defense has improved from completely and truly awful last season to simply below average under new coach Dwane Casey. The offense is now bottom-3 in the league and the Raptors simply don't have the personnel to turn that around. Tank Nation was completely correct from the outset. 

GRADE: D

Central Division Grades

Rose remains unstoppable. (Getty Images)
by  Royce Young 

Chicago Bulls (26-8)
 

It's no big surprise that the Bulls are 26-8 and see-sawing with the Heat for the East's top spot. But considering they've had to do it with a rash of injuries that had Derrick Rose and Luol Deng missing some time is what makes it impressive. Depth has been one of the Bulls' strengths and it's what has pushed them through the first half. They did this same thing last season too, getting by without Carlos Boozer. Now that they're getting healthy again, they're set up for a strong second half push. 

GRADE: A

Indiana Pacers (20-12)

When grading a team, it's good to keep in mind preseason expectations. The Pacers were expected to be better than the team last season that slipped into the postseason, but how much better was the question. There have been some ups and downs, but the verdict thus far is that the Pacers are much improved and in position to fight for home court in the first round. 

GRADE: B+

Cleveland (13-17)

The road back from "The Decision" is going to be long, but the Cavs clearly have picked up a pretty nice car to get there in Kyrie Irving. The Cavs probably aren't playoff material, but in terms of coming back from where they were last season when they dropped 26 straight games, they're on track. They're currently just four games under .500 and sit ninth in the East, just 1 1/2 games out of the playoffs.

GRADE: B

Milwaukee Bucks (13-19)

What's new in Milwaukee? Oh, just Andrew Bogut getting hurt again. And just their season going down the tubes with that. Remember how this was a playoff team two years ago? Remember all the fun "Fear the Deer" stuff? It looks like it's going to be back to the lottery for this group. Brandon Jennings' improvement is a plus, but the Stephen Jackson situation combined with injuries is dragging them down.

GRADE: C+

Detroit Pistons (11-23)


The Pistons are playing much better basketball as of late, winning seven of 10. But still this has been another colossally disappointing season. Remember how the Pistons were once a team contending for the East? You know what's weird about that? That was happening as of just five years ago. But it feels like the Pistons have been bad for a long time. That's where it's at for Detroit. Save for a better stretch early on, it's been another bad year for the Pistons. Horrible attendance, fan apathy and worst of all, there really doesn't appear to be a path out right now.

GRADE: D

Southeast Division

LeBron looks like a solid MVP favorite so far for Miami. (Getty Images)
by Matt Moore

Miami Heat (26-7)

The best team in efficiency differential. Home of the presumptive MVP. They have just finished winning seven in a row, all by double-digits. The best record in the National Basketball Association. A better offense than last season. The same quality defense as last season. Better supporting players. Quality wins over the Lakers, Bulls, Magic. The Heat aren't surprising anyone; we knew they would be, could be this good. But they're doing it, and that's a fact. 

GRADE: A

Orlando Magic (21-12)

Well, they've handled this whole mess surprisingly well. As Dwight Howard rumors continue to swirl and he's forced to endure media questions everywhere he goes, the Magic have kept on winning with the same formula they've won with for years. Great defense, three-point shooting, and Dwight Howard offense. The dual-losses in five days to Boston in humiliating fashion should have sent the team into a tail spin. But instead they've kept themselves above water. There are rough times ahead for this team one way or another, but you have to give them credit for how they've survived a tough situation. 

GRADE: B

Atlanta Hawks (19-13)

The Hawks are six games over .500 despite starting the year without Kirk Hinrich, and being without Al Horford for most of the season as he's done for the year. That should be pretty good, right? They have wins over the Bulls and Heat. That should be enough for a good grade, right? Except you know where the Hawks are going. They're not the most talented kid in class, they're not the hardest workers. They just kind of glide by. You can't fail them, but to reward them is to celebrate being "fine." You can't fault their coaching or players. They just are who they are, as cliche and meaningless as that seems. 

GRADE: C+

Washington Wizards (7-25)

Well, their coach was fired, their star center runs the wrong way on possessions, their star point guard hasn't developed, and they had to bench their starting power forward they gave an extension to two years ago. So no, it has not gone well in D.C. 

GRADE: D-

Charlotte Bobcats (4-27)

Mrs. Charlotte fan, I'm sorry. I know this is difficult to hear. We did everything we could, but we had to put your franchise down. This team is a plague on the NBA season. 

GRADE: F

Southwest Division

Tony Parker is playing like a top-5 MVP candidate. (Getty Images)
by Ben Golliver

San Antonio Spurs (23-10)

The Spurs went a ridiculous 13-3 in their second quarter, and that includes an on-purpose loss to the Portland Trail Blazers on Tuesday night, as Gregg Popovich opted to rest his starters. Does it get better than an 11-game winning streak when one of your All-Stars is in and out of the lineup with long-term injuries? That's a stupid rhetorical question. It doesn't get any better. The Spurs have pulled within 2 1/2 games of the Oklahoma City Thunder and are well positioned to finish strong, with 19 home games and 14 road games remaining on their schedule.

GRADE: A

Dallas Mavericks (21-12)

Like the Spurs, Dallas got up to speed during the second quarter, going 11-5 and running off an impressive 6-game winning streak, which included 4 wins over playoff teams (the Nuggets twice, the Clippers and 76ers) and 2 others against teams on the fringes (the Blazers and Timberwolves). Dallas is still underperforming on offense but no one saw a top-5 defense coming when Tyson Chandler moved to the Knicks in December. Dirk Nowitzki's numbers are essentially back to normal in February -- 23.8 points and 8.0 rebounds per game -- and the Mavericks look to be a playoff force as they defend their 2011 title.

GRADE: A-

Houston Rockets (19-14)

The USS Houston is steady as she goes: The Rockets went 9-7 in the first quarter and 10-7 in the second quarter. Kyle Lowry has made the whole thing work and Kevin Martin has stayed healthy. The roster is deep, random and likely to see major changes this summer. Despite all of that, Houston is squarely in the playoff picture when another lottery trip seemed inevitable after December's failed trade for Pau Gasol fell through. If this continues, Kevin McHale might sneak into the short list for Coach of the Year candidates in his first season with the Rockets.

GRADE: B+

Memphis Grizzlies (19-15)

The Grizzlies were a late-charging dark horse last season and it's shaping up again this time around, as Zach Randolph is progressing back to the court after a knee injury. Memphis' offensive efficiency has fallen off significantly without Randolph, and Lionel Hollins has done another nice job in keeping the wheels from falling off after a hectic early season. Credit, too, to an All-Star campaign from Marc Gasol, who is averaging 15.0 points, 10.1 rebounds and 2.2 blocks per game.

GRADE: B+

New Orleans Hornets (7-25)

That this team has won seven games is a miracle. Monty Williams, one of the league's biggest gentlemen, must have done some serious wrongs in a past life to deserve this group. He's made due the only way he really can, sucking the life and pace out of every game and hoping for the best. Gustavo Ayon was an intriguing find but this team was not headed anywhere with Eric Gordon, let along without him due to injury. It's probably time for New Orleans to step up its tanking efforts to ensure a top-2 chance at the lottery balls. Leaving this season without that would be a major failure.

GRADE: D

Northwest Division

Durant's Thunder have been dominant in the West. (Getty Images)
by Matt Moore 

Oklahoma City Thunder (25-7)


Kevin Durant is having his best season as a pro, and it shows. His defense has been terrific. There are lingering questions about this team's ability to defend, but their offensive is the most powerful in the league and they've managed to stay exceptionally healthy this season. The West may be largely a crapshoot this season, but the Thunder are still the prohibitive favorites to make it to the Finals. Their late-game execution has been a mixed-bag, but that's still better than the circus clown show it was last year. 

GRADE: A

Denver Nuggets (18-15)

There's something dark and twisted about a team that deliberately loaded up on excessive depth through trades and free agency winding up one of the most damaged by injury. The Nuggets have had Nene, Ty Lawson, Danilo Gallinari, and Arron Afflalo miss time with injuries and it dropped them into the gutter after an exceptionally strong start to the season. Outside of health, the biggest problem for Denver has been what you'd think it would be, the lack of a star player to lead them in close games. Someone has to step up and become the guy for Denver in the playoffs for them to have a chance at making any noise. 

GRADE: B-

Portland Trail Blazers (18-16) 

Things started so well, too. After getting out to an awesome start and looking unstoppable, versatile, and deep, everything has fallen apart for the Blazers. Nate McMillan's on the hot seat all of a sudden, the team is just two games over .500 (and one of them was the Spurs' surrender game Tuesday). They're not doing anything particularly well, Raymond Felton has been benched, and they're having nagging injuries. all over the place. It was a rough second quarter of the season for Portland. 

GRADE: C+

Minnesota Timberwolves (16-17)

Well, well, well. Look who got themselves a legit coach and a franchise point guard. Rick Adelman's work with the Timberwovles has made the biggest impact, but Ricky Rubio's playmaking and defense has helped change the vibe. The Wolves are excessively fun to watch, a highlight factory, and feature Kevin Love's All-Star blistering work offensively. The Wolves can't quite get themselves into that 8th spot, but don't be surprised if they somehow sneak their way into the postseason. 

GRADE: B-

Utah Jazz (15-16)

The popular analogy with teams like this is a rollercoaster but I like to think of the Jazz more as a boat that keeps tipping with the tide and the wind. Everyone rushes to one side of the boat, vomits, then gets thrown to the other side. Are they a good team? They can be, from time to time. Are they a terrible team? They can be, from time to time. There's no figuring out the Jazz. They're a young, inconsistent team, and those kinds of teams usually tail off as the season goes on. 

GRADE: D+

Pacific Division

Paul has the Clippers out to a faster start than the Lakers, barely. (Getty Images)
by Royce Young

Los Angeles Clippers (19-11)


Blake Griffin changed the game for the Clippers. It started last season with the crazy dunks and high-flying highlights, but quietly, the Clippers had a solid second half. Then they got Chris Paul before this season and boom, they're a top team in the West. How have they handled that hype and expectation? Pretty darn well, I'd say. And they've even endured a major injury to a key player. I don't know if the Clips are set up to really challenge in the Western Conference playoffs, but the point is, they will absolutely be there and probably sitting as a top four seed. Think about that.

GRADE: A

Los Angeles Lakers (19-13)

There was a pretty unsettling tone set about this Laker season before it even started. Lamar Odom and Pau Gasol were traded, and then untraded by David Stern. Then Odom was traded for basically nothing. And Kobe hurt his wrist. The front office might be in shambles, players might be unhappy with Mike Brown and there's a lot of uncertainty around the roster only except for No. 24. They're still in the thick of things, but it's hard to see this team moving forward until whatever is looming around the roster, finally happens. 

GRADE: C+

Phoenix Suns (14-19)

There's a catch 22 with the Suns. Steve Nash continues to defy common sense by playing some of his basketball at age 38. But what that's done is make the Suns competitive, meaning they will likely miss out on a top five pick and Nash will remain as part of the roster instead of the front office blowing it up. The Suns are stuck in a state of mediocrity. Maybe they're fine with that, but this team is just two years removed from the Western Conference Finals, but that seems so, so far away.

GRADE: C-

Golden State Warriors (12-17)

For a brief second, it really seemed like the Warriors were ready to turn a corner. They had won three straight heading into a showdown with the West's best, the Thunder. And then OKC completely humbled them in a three-quarter blowout. Mark Jackson wanted to install defense and while they're a bit better, they aren't winning more. 

GRADE: D+

Sacramento Kings (10-22)

I bought into a little preseason hype around the Kings. The talent seemed to be in place for them to finally make a step forward. There have been some flashes like a national TV win over Oklahoma City, but for the most part, it's just another Sacramento season. Paul Westphal got fired, DeMarcus Cousins had an issue again and Jimmer Fredette hasn't produced much buzz or points so far. And their arena situation and future in the city is still way up in the air. 

GRADE: D

Posted on: February 22, 2012 3:27 pm
Edited on: February 22, 2012 3:35 pm
 

LeBron says he'll guard Lin some Thursday

Posted by Royce Young



Thursday could be the ultimate test for Jeremy Lin. Not because his Knicks will be taking on Miami Heat. But individually, because LeBron James, one of the best on-ball defenders in the game, says he'll likely guard Lin some.

"I know I'm going to end up guarding Lin at some point," LeBron told reporters Wednesday.

LeBron, as I'm sure you recall, switched to guard Derrick Rose for lage parts of the Eastern Conference Finals and essentially locked down the MVP. And while Jeremy Lin has had quite the start to his time in New York, he's not Derrick Rose.

And if LeBron's not guarding Lin, it will likely be Dwyane Wade. You know, just another elite defender. The Heat are one of the best teams in the league at creating turnovers and guess what, Jeremy Lin turns it over a lot. If there was ever a measuring bar to really see where Linsanity is at, Thursday's game against the Heat will be it.

LeBron also talked about Linsanity in general, saying “I never watch Harvard basketball. I never watch Harvard.’’ LeBron did tell reporters that he watched Lin against John Wall in the 2010 Summer League though. He's one of many too as that YouTube highlight video has some 1.2 million views. LeBron said he thinks people should celebrate the fact Lin is a good player and not just stick on him being Asian-American.

“I think it’s taken away from it, obviously,” he said.

LeBron on Lin being on a second straight week of Sports Illustrated: "Make sure he doesn’t take that for granted and get those covers and frame them and put them in his house.” LeBron would know. He's been on many an SI cover, starting in high school.

Worlds of hype will collide in South Beach Thursday with Linsanity meeting the Heat. It'll be a challenge for the Knicks, as they're still meshing since adding Carmelo Anthony along with the fact the Heat are really darn good. And for Lin, he's going to have to deal with looking across at King James defending him, which I'm sure is something he wasn't expecting to happen this season.

Via Fox Sports Florida
Posted on: February 22, 2012 1:20 pm
Edited on: February 22, 2012 7:04 pm
 

Rajon Rondo named East All-Star replacement

Rajon Rondo is headed to Orlando. (Getty Images)
Posted by Ben Golliver

Boston Celtics point guard Rajon Rondo has been named as an injury replacement for the Eastern Conference All-Star team, according to the Boston Globe and Celtics Radio. The NBA confirmed the selection on Wednesday afternoon. 

Rondo will replace Atlanta Hawks guard Joe Johnson, who was diagnosed with tendinitis in his left knee and is sitting out two games this week, in this Sunday's All-Star Game at Amway Center in Orlando.

He will join an Eastern Conference roster that includes starters Derrick Rose, Dwyane Wade, LeBron James, Carmelo Anthony and Dwight Howard, plus reserves Chris Bosh, Roy Hibbert, Paul Pierce, Deron Williams, Luol Deng and Andre Iguodala.

Johnson is the game's first and only injury scratch so far.

Rondo, 26, is averaging 14.8 points, 9.5 assists, 4.9 rebounds and 1.6 steals in 37.0 minutes per game. He's played in just 22 games this season though, which is what led to his snubbing in the first place. This will be Rondo's third consecutive All-Star appearance.

Earlier this week, Rondo was suspended two games for throwing a basketball at an official, which earned him an ejection.

According to the Associated Press, Celtics coach Doc Rivers joked: "When you get named to the All-star, you should take one game of suspension away."
 
 
 
 
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