Whicker: LeBron James’ friends and schoolmates tried to keep it real for the imminent King

first_imgThe old court wasn’t full size, but it didn’t bother the Irish, who had moved their James games to the University of Akron’s arena and sold that out, too.“It was a crazy time,” McGee said. “But my comfort level grew with his. We were both right in the middle of it. It was fun, to look back. We flew around the country and we had pretty good gear. When I went and played at a Division II School (Fairmont State, in West Virginia) I realized I’d had it pretty good.”They all knew James was a superior high school player and a probable pro. But James threw down some markers that McGee began to notice.“LeBron and Dru (Joyce III, the point guard) judged other players very harshly,” McGee said. “They were tough in critiquing players. We played a team (Germantown Academy, near Philadelphia). They had Matt Walsh, who was going to Florida, and Lee Melchionni, who was going to Duke.“’Bron said, ‘This is serious. These guys are legit.’ So we listened to that, took him seriously, and then he dominated. I’m thinking, ‘That’s Duke and Florida. So where is he?’“Then we came out to play Westchester in L.A. and he started talking about Trevor Ariza. He gave him a lot of credit, too. And ’Bron goes out there and puts 52 on his head. So I started thinking, ‘You know, there’s levels to this.’’’The Irish crew is still close today. Joyce, whose father Dru has won state titles since then at St. Vincent-St. Mary, has broken assist records in the German league and played there for nine years. Sian Cotton is a local rapper. Romeo Travis plays in the Phillippines. Brandon Weems works in the Cavaliers’ scouting department.Former Akron St. Vincent-St. Mary’s High School basketball star LeBron James, center, talks with former teammates Brandon Weems, left, and Willie McGee before the start of an Ohio state championship game on March 28, 2009, in Columbus, Ohio. James, who led the program to three state titles before going directly to the NBA in 2003, remains close with his former high school teammates. (AP Photo/Paul Vernon)“We still get together and laugh and reminisce about those days, stuff that only we went through,” McGee said. “And, unfortunately, we’ve seen some people around us that are no longer with us, because they might have taken the wrong path. We talk about it and we value our moments together. We want to see each other’s children grow up.“We had a lot of good people around us. Sian’s mom and dad, Dru and his dad, Frankie Walker and his family … the school put its arms around us and nurtured us. No matter what, if we didn’t have the grades, we couldn’t play. They held us accountable. We held each other accountable, too.”“They put up some boundaries,” said Robert Brownfield, now the St. Vincent-St. Mary principal and a classmate of James’. “The school didn’t allow the media near LeBron during the times he was being a student. This was his safe place.”Brownfield said that undefeated, nationally-renowned basketball teams and sellout crowds in college arenas seemed very normal to him. “We were spoiled,” he said.He also didn’t see James as anything more royal than a superbly talented basketball player.“I remember a friend coming to visit us one fall and we were going to our football game,” Brownfield said. “LeBron happened to be there and walked past us, and I said hello and he waved back and said hello. She was in total shock.“It wasn’t unusual for opposing players to gather around and want his autograph at the end. But it was a phenomenon that gradually grew around us. He was always with us. It’s not like he transferred in from anywhere.”Related Articles How athletes protesting the national anthem has evolved over 17 years Lakers, Clippers schedules set for first round of NBA playoffs Newsroom GuidelinesNews TipsContact UsReport an Error Trail Blazers, Grizzlies advance to NBA play-in game; Suns, Spurs see playoff dreams dashed AD Quality Auto 360p 720p 1080p Top articles1/5READ MOREUCLA alum Kenny Clark signs four-year contract extension with PackersWhen James was a sophomore, he was All-Ohio in his classification. When he was a junior he caught 57 passes for 16 touchdowns and 1,160 yards.Is there much doubt that James would have gone where he wanted and done what was needed for any NFL team? Or is that realization more than the average Cleveland Browns’ fan can stand?But James broke his wrist and decided that it was time to put away his avocations, even the all-state ones.St. Vincent-St Mary was a coast-to-coast entity in basketball, and the Irish also won three state championships before James went straight to the top of the NBA draft in 2003.The school is just west of downtown Akron, unpretentious and easy to miss. It has only 700 students in four grades. The only real difference between 2003 and now is the revamped basketball arena, named LeBron James Arena after its benefactor.center_img Lakers practice early hoping to answer all questions Akron has struggled to overcome the virtual disappearance of the tire industry, the population loss, and now the opioid crisis that has followed. Its efforts at diversification have been somewhat successful, but the only true route to renewal is through education, which is why James founded the I Promise School, only a mile or so from St. Vincent-St. Mary.“Occasionally I’ll ask a class how many of their parents work in the tire plants and hardly anyone will raise a hand,” Brownfield said, “but then I’ll ask how many tire workers their parents knew, and almost everybody will. I’ve only seen a city go on a higher trajectory. There’s a huge amount of connection with the people who live here. They might leave to pursue things, but a good amount of them come back.”Although James has moved to Los Angeles for business and pleasure, he still has a residence in suburban Fair Lawn, and Akron people seem to know they’ll see him periodically during the year.“They say it takes a village to raise a child,” McGee said, smiling as he sat behind his AD’s desk. “Well, we had a hell of a village.” PreviousSt. Vincent-St. Mary basketball players LeBron James, far left, Dru Joyce, front center, Romeo Travis, rear center, and Willie McGee pose for a photograph on Jan. 3, 2002, in Beverly Hills the day before a game against Mater Dei in Los Angeles. (AP Photo/Rene Macura)St. Vincent-St. Mary’s star LeBron James goes past Mater Dei’s Marcel Jones on his way to the basket during the second quarter of their Jan. 4, 2003 game at UCLA’s Pauley Pavilion. St. Vincent-St. Mary won 64-58 with James scoring 21 points. (Photo by Lucy Nicholson, AFP/Getty Images)ORG XMIT: OHJL107 Akron St. Vincent-St. Mary’s LeBron James raises his finger in jubilation after they beat Kettering Alter 40-36 in the Division II championship Saturday March 22, 2003, in Columbus, Ohio. (AP Photo/Jay LaPrete) SoundThe gallery will resume insecondsORG XMIT: OHJL105 Akron St. Vincent-St. Mary’s LeBron James, right, drives the baseline past Kettering Alter’s Andy Stichweh during the third quarter of the Division II finals Saturday March 22, 2003, in Columbus, Ohio. (AP Photo/Jay LaPrete)ORG XMIT: NY167 ** FILE ** St. Vincent-St. Mary’s LeBron James dunks during the second quarter against Walsh Jesuit at St. Vincent-St. Mary’s in Akron, Ohio, in this Jan. 24, 2003 photo. James was cleared to play Wednesday Feb. 5, 2003 by a judge who blocked a state ruling that stripped the high school basketball star of his eligibility. James can rejoin his team but must sit out one more game, Summit County Judge James Williams ruled. (AP Photo/Scott R. Galvin)LOS ANGELES, UNITED STATES: St. Vincent-St. Mary’s LeBron James wipes the sweat from his face during the game against Mater Dei, in Los Angeles, CA, 04 January 2003. St. Vincent-St. Mary won 64-58 with James scoring 21 points. James, 17, is expected to be the number one pick in the NBA draft this spring, following Kevin Garnett and Kobe Bryant in entering the NBA from high school. AFP PHOTO/Lucy Nicholson (Photo credit should read LUCY NICHOLSON/AFP/Getty Images)LOS ANGELES, UNITED STATES: St. Vincent-St. Mary’s LeBron James (C) goes up for a basket past Mater Dei’s Wesley Washington (R), Chris Henry (back C) and Marcel Jones (L) in the first quarter, in Los Angeles, CA, 04 January 2003. St. Vincent-St. Mary won 64-58 with James scoring 21 points. James, 17, is expected to be the number one pick in the NBA draft this spring, following Kevin Garnett and Kobe Bryant in entering the NBA from high school. AFP PHOTO/Lucy Nicholson (Photo credit should read LUCY NICHOLSON/AFP/Getty Images)ORG XMIT: PAJH103 LeBron James of St. Vincent-St. Mary in Akron, Ohio, plays in a basketball tournament in Pittsburgh, Sunday, Dec. 15, 2002.(AP Photo/John Heller)ORG XMIT: NY162 ** FILE ** Akron St. Vincent-St. Mary’s LeBron James smiles as he rests on the bench in the fourth quarter against Warrensville Heights at Gund Arena in Cleveland, in this March 13, 2002 photo. James was cleared to play Wednesday by a judge who blocked a state ruling that stripped the high school basketball star of his eligibility. James can rejoin his team but must sit out one more game, Summit County Judge James Williams ruled. (AP Photo/Tony Dejak)ORG XMIT: OHRS102 St. Vincent-St. Mary guard LeBron James, right, puts up a shot against Akron Central Hower’s DeJuan Dennis during the first quarter at the Canton Memorial Fieldhouse Saturday, March 8, 2003, in Canton, Ohio. James scored 41 points as the Irish defeated Central Hower 83-56 in the Division II district championship. (AP Photo/Ron Schwane)ORG XMIT: CARM104 Akron (Ohio) St. Vincent-St. Mary’s LeBron James departs a news conference Friday, Jan. 3, 2002, in Beverly Hills, Calif. St. Vincent-St. Mary plays Mater Dei of Santa Ana, Calif., on Saturday in Los Angeles. (AP Photo/Rene Macura)ORG XMIT: OHLIM101 Akron St. Vincent-St. Mary’s LeBron James (23) holds the ball away from Ottawa-Glandorf’s Nick Ruhe, during the Division II regional final on Saturday, March 15, 2003. James scored 25 points and grabbed 11 rebounds in the 69-59 win. (AP Photo/The Lima News, David G. Massey)ORG XMIT: CARM101 Akron St. Vincent-St. Mary (Ohio) basketball player LeBron James poses for a photographer Friday, Jan. 3, 2002, in Beverly Hills, Calif. St. Vincent-St. Mary plays Mater Dei of Santa Ana, Calif., on Saturday in Los Angeles. (AP Photo/Rene Macura)ORG XMIT: NY173 ** FILE ** Akron St. Vincent-St. Mary’s LeBron James keeps a close eye on his opponent Sunday, January 13, 2002 at the Cleveland Convocation Center in Cleveland. LeBron-mania is going prime time. LeBron James, the most hyped high school basketball player ever, will make his national TV debut Thursday night against the nation’s No. 1 team.(AP Photo/Tony Dejak)ORG XMIT: OHCLE501 ** FILE ** Akron St. Vincent-St. Mary High School basketball star LeBron James, wearing suit, sits on the bench during his team’s game against Canton McKinley Sunday, Feb. 2, 2003, in Akron, Ohio. James’ attorney asked a judge Wednesday, Feb. 5, 2003, to block a ruling that barred the high school basketball superstar from playing the rest of the season. James was declared ineligible by the Ohio High School Athletic Association for accepting jerseys from a retail store. (AP Photo/The Plain Dealer, Dale Omori)Former Akron St. Vincent-St. Mary’s High School basketball star LeBron James, center, talks with former teammates Brandon Weems, left, and Willie McGee before the start of an Ohio state championship game on March 28, 2009, in Columbus, Ohio. LeBron remains close with his former high school teammates. (AP Photo/Paul Vernon)From left, former Akron St. Vincent-St. Mary High School basketball teammates LeBron James, Dru Joyce III, and Willie McGee, appear in their high school gym years later on Aug. 21, 2009. McGee is now the athletic director at the school. (AP Photo/Amy Sancetta)St. Vincent-St. Mary basketball players LeBron James, far left, Dru Joyce, front center, Romeo Travis, rear center, and Willie McGee pose for a photograph on Jan. 3, 2002, in Beverly Hills the day before a game against Mater Dei in Los Angeles. (AP Photo/Rene Macura)St. Vincent-St. Mary’s star LeBron James goes past Mater Dei’s Marcel Jones on his way to the basket during the second quarter of their Jan. 4, 2003 game at UCLA’s Pauley Pavilion. St. Vincent-St. Mary won 64-58 with James scoring 21 points. (Photo by Lucy Nicholson, AFP/Getty Images)NextShow Caption1 of 17St. Vincent-St. Mary’s star LeBron James goes past Mater Dei’s Marcel Jones on his way to the basket during the second quarter of their Jan. 4, 2003 game at UCLA’s Pauley Pavilion. St. Vincent-St. Mary won 64-58 with James scoring 21 points. (Photo by Lucy Nicholson, AFP/Getty Images)ExpandAKRON, Ohio — Willie McGee was at St. Vincent-St. Mary High when LeBron James was just a Prince.McGee is the athletic director now. As usual, someone is asking him about James.“He was special,” McGee said. “You couldn’t put him in a box. He could play a lot of different positions. Honestly, it was his first love.”McGee is talking about football. Trail Blazers beat Grizzlies in play-in, earn first-round series with the Lakers last_img read more

Reports: Lakers set to acquire Reggie Bullock in trade with Pistons

first_img Trail Blazers, Grizzlies advance to NBA play-in game; Suns, Spurs see playoff dreams dashed AD Quality Auto 360p 720p 1080p Top articles1/5READ MOREUCLA alum Kenny Clark signs four-year contract extension with PackersBullock is averaging 12 points, 2.7 assists and 2.5 rebounds in his sixth NBA season. Drafted by the Clippers in 2013, he is shooting 38 percent from 3-point range, which would make him the second-most efficient 3-point shooter in the Lakers’ rotation, behind Lance Stephenson.Sign up for Home Turf and get exclusive stories every SoCal sports fan must read, sent daily. Subscribe here.Mykhailiuk, 21, was the Lakers’ second-round pick last summer, No. 47 overall, out of Kansas. The Ukraine native played in 38 games this season, averaging 3.2 points in 10.7 minutes. He often occupied a seat between LeBron James and Rajon Rondo on the bench, but appeared some time away from being a meaningful contributor himself.The looming question ahead of Thursday’s noon PT trade deadline is whether the Lakers will make another move, this one for New Orleans Pelicans big man Anthony Davis. Reports from several outlets including ESPN cited that the Lakers had prepared a package that included Kyle Kuzma, Lonzo Ball and Brandon Ingram, a few veterans and two first-round draft picks, but had stopped upping their bid as of midday Tuesday after the Pelicans made a push for additional draft picks.The pressure of the deadline appears to be having an influence on the team: The Lakers were crushed Tuesday night in their worst loss of the season, a 136-94 thrashing by the Indiana Pacers. Several players acknowledged afterward that they had difficulty shielding themselves from pervasive trade rumors shared via text and social media.Related Articles How athletes protesting the national anthem has evolved over 17 years Trail Blazers beat Grizzlies in play-in, earn first-round series with the Lakers Newsroom GuidelinesNews TipsContact UsReport an Errorcenter_img Lakers practice early hoping to answer all questions Lakers, Clippers schedules set for first round of NBA playoffs INDIANAPOLIS — Whether it’s the first domino to fall or merely a singular stroke of a team trying to make the playoffs remains to be seen.But the Lakers have made their first in-season trade. And it isn’t the one that has had most of the NBA holding its collective breath.Multiple media reports indicated that the Lakers have agreed to send rookie Sviatoslav Mykhailiuk and a second-round draft pick to the Detroit Pistons in exchange for Reggie Bullock, a 27-year-old guard who will become a free agent this summer. The trade is scheduled to be completed Wednesday, according to The Athletic.The move indicates that the Lakers (27-27) are gearing up for a push for a playoff berth, a journey that has taken a serious hit thanks to injuries up and down the roster. Bullock’s acquisition targets several areas where the Lakers are looking to improve: 3-point shooting, defensive toughness and veterans who are ready to contribute.last_img read more

Watch LeBron James move past Michael Jordan on NBA’s all-time scoring list

first_imgLeBron James is now fourth on the NBA’s all-time scoring list, passing Michael Jordan’s 32,280 career points. LeBron James emotional watching his own tribute video passing MJ in career points. The debates will rage on, but you have to give him the respect he has earned. The greatest player of my generation. #LakeShow #Respect 💯 pic.twitter.com/M40ZufA0eH— Dylan (@DylansRawTake) March 7, 2019 NBA players and fans took to social media to share their reaction to LeBron’s latest milestone: Newsroom GuidelinesNews TipsContact UsReport an Error The ladder up the all-time scoring list doesn’t get any easier. LeBron will chase Kobe Bryant to break into the Top 3.center_img LeBron wrote “Thank you M.J.” on his sneakers for tonight’s game. RELATED: LeBron James passes Michael Jordan for 4th on NBA’s career scoring listPreviousThe Lakers’ LeBron James moved past Michael Jordan into fourth place on the NBA’s career scoring list with a layup during the second quarter of Wednesday’s game against the Denver Nuggets at Staples Center. He now trails only Kareem Abdul-Jabbar (38,387 points), Karl Malone (36,928) and Kobe Bryant (33,643). (AP Photo/Marcio Jose Sanchez)Los Angeles Lakers forward LeBron James, left, is congratulated by guard Rajon Rondo during the first half of the team’s NBA basketball game against the Denver Nuggets on Wednesday, March 6, 2019, in Los Angeles. With the basket, James moved past Michael Jordan for fourth place on the NBA career scoring list. (AP Photo/Mark J. Terrill)Los Angeles Lakers forward LeBron James, right, shoots and scores as Denver Nuggets forward Torrey Craig, center, defends and center Nikola Jokic watches during the first half of an NBA basketball game Wednesday, March 6, 2019, in Los Angeles. With the basket, James moved past Michael Jordan for fourth place on the NBA career scoring list. (AP Photo/Mark J. Terrill) SoundThe gallery will resume insecondsLakers forward LeBron James, right, shoots and scores as Denver Nuggets forward Torrey Craig, center, defends and center Nikola Jokic watches during the second quarter of Wednesday’s game at Staples Center. With the basket, James surpassed Michael Jordan for fourth on the NBA’s career scoring list. (AP Photo/Mark J. Terrill)Los Angeles Lakers forward LeBron James, right, shoots and scores as Denver Nuggets forward Torrey Craig defends during the first half of an NBA basketball game Wednesday, March 6, 2019, in Los Angeles. With the basket, James passed Michael Jordan for fourth place on the NBA’s career scoring list. (AP Photo/Mark J. Terrill)Lakers forward LeBron James gestures after scoring the basket that moved him past Michael Jordan into fourth place on the NBA’s career scoring list on Wednesday night at Staples Center. (AP Photo/Mark J. Terrill)Los Angeles Lakers forward LeBron James, right, shoots and scores as Denver Nuggets forward Torrey Craig defends during the first half of an NBA basketball game Wednesday, March 6, 2019, in Los Angeles. With the basket, James passed Michael Jordan for fourth place on the NBA’s career scoring list. (AP Photo/Mark J. Terrill)The Lakers’ LeBron James moved past Michael Jordan into fourth place on the NBA’s career scoring list with a layup during the second quarter of Wednesday’s game against the Denver Nuggets at Staples Center. He now trails only Kareem Abdul-Jabbar (38,387 points), Karl Malone (36,928) and Kobe Bryant (33,643). (AP Photo/Marcio Jose Sanchez)Los Angeles Lakers forward LeBron James, left, is congratulated by guard Rajon Rondo during the first half of the team’s NBA basketball game against the Denver Nuggets on Wednesday, March 6, 2019, in Los Angeles. With the basket, James moved past Michael Jordan for fourth place on the NBA career scoring list. (AP Photo/Mark J. Terrill)NextShow Caption1 of 7Los Angeles Lakers forward LeBron James, left, is congratulated by guard Rajon Rondo during the first half of the team’s NBA basketball game against the Denver Nuggets on Wednesday, March 6, 2019, in Los Angeles. With the basket, James moved past Michael Jordan for fourth place on the NBA career scoring list. (AP Photo/Mark J. Terrill)ExpandPregame comments about the milestone: AD Quality Auto 360p 720p 1080p Top articles1/5READ MOREUCLA alum Kenny Clark signs four-year contract extension with Packerslast_img read more

Alexander: Is Pat Riley in the Lakers’ future? Should he be?

first_img Lakers practice early hoping to answer all questions AD Quality Auto 360p 720p 1080p Top articles1/5READ MOREUCLA alum Kenny Clark signs four-year contract extension with Packers• A week ago, shortly after Johnson quit, the 74-year-old Riley, president of the Miami Heat for the last 23 years, was asked about it and shot the possibility down.“No doubt, I have a history with that team,” he told reporters in Miami. “I was there 20 years, and I have a lot of friends still in the organization. I had a good conversation with Magic after he stepped down, and I’m sure they’re gonna work it out. But I’m not gonna be a part of that. That’s not what I want to do.”But Stephen A. Smith tossed it back out there Friday morning, and it again had the fan base buzzing. And it would be so Lakers: Bring in a big name, and bring in someone with Lakers ties.• The more I think about it, the more convinced I am that the Lakers are the NBA’s version of the Raiders. Long after the run of championships has ended, there persists an organizational attitude that stunts growth and impedes progress: “The same old ways worked just fine then, they should work now, and anyway, we’re the Lakers (or Raiders) and you’re not.” The row of Larry O’Brien Trophies in the window overlooking the practice courts is not indicative of future success. A superstar hire, or a superstar signing, might get the fan base energized but does not by itself counterbalance a sharp, savvy collection of basketball minds … like the one the other NBA team in town has assembled. • And for those Lakers fans who hope against hope that Jerry West would bolt his consultant’s role with the Clippers and return to their team? Don’t hold your breath. You might turn purple.• We look at fan interest in L.A. now and we assume that it will always be thus, Lakers No. 1 in the hearts and minds of Angelenos, Clippers a distant No. 2.Do not assume.Keep this in mind: There are a lot of 7- and 8-year-old kids in L.A. who have never seen a Lakers championship, and who might be starting to get interested in sports and basketball and the NBA in a landscape where the Clippers are the superior team. Habits formed now tend to last.Consider the Clippers’ youth initiatives: A growing Jr. Clippers program, and the organization’s ambition of refurbishing indoor and outdoor basketball courts throughout L.A. Add the potential of their own arena and the ability to forge their own distinct identity, and an organization not wed to the past, the way the Lakers seem to be.Related Articles Trail Blazers beat Grizzlies in play-in, earn first-round series with the Lakers How athletes protesting the national anthem has evolved over 17 years This is a long play for the Clippers, and when all those kids grow up it’s going to be a far fairer fight. (Until then, just imagine dinner table conversations in those households where the parents are Lakers fans and the kids adopt the Clippers.)• There is, by the way, another pecking order that we just assume will continue: Dodgers No. 1, Angels No. 2. And yet we are into the sixth season in which a good chunk of Southern California can’t watch Dodgers games on TV regularly, thanks to the spat between Spectrum, which owns the exclusive rights, and DirecTV, Dish and the non-Spectrum cable services that decline to pay what Spectrum is asking per subscriber.Again, if you’re a kid growing up in SoCal and you can see Mike Trout on TV every night and Cody Bellinger hardly at all until the postseason, who might you pay more attention to?• Of course, this assumes that regional sports networks remain our main vehicle for following our teams. Again, don’t assume. The smart people in various teams and leagues are already paying attention to streaming, pay-per-view, and presumably technologies that we probably can’t even imagine yet.The Dodgers’ $8.35 billion contract with Spectrum runs through 2038. How do you think we’ll be consuming our games by then?jalexander@scng.com@Jim_Alexander on Twittercenter_img The world according to Jim:• At the moment, Lakers general manager Rob Pelinka appears to be permanently ensconced at the top of the team’s basketball operations organizational chart. He seems to have Jeanie Buss’ ear, and her trust – or at least they both have Kobe Bryant in common – and he’s the one handling the search for a new coach.But this is basketball’s preeminent reality show, with apologies to LaVar Ball. Last week’s episode? Earvin Johnson’s stunning and sudden departure as the overall basketball boss (reportedly, just before he was ready to fire Pelinka). This week’s storyline: Pat Riley as Magic’s replacement?ESPN, also known as the Worldwide Leader in Speculation And Filling Dead Air, dropped that one back into the hopper Friday. It would be intriguing, and it checks two boxes with Riles’ history with both the Lakers and with LeBron James. But is it feasible? And would it work? Lakers, Clippers schedules set for first round of NBA playoffs Trail Blazers, Grizzlies advance to NBA play-in game; Suns, Spurs see playoff dreams dashed Newsroom GuidelinesNews TipsContact UsReport an Errorlast_img read more

Heisler: Steph Curry changed the way the game’s played, LeBron James changed the system

first_img AD Quality Auto 360p 720p 1080p Top articles1/5READ MOREUCLA alum Kenny Clark signs four-year contract extension with PackersSteph Curry was a choir-boy-looking rookie at 21, averaging a modest 11.8 points for the Warriors two months into his career.James Harden was 19, an awkward-looking rookie with coat-hanger shoulders, averaging 9.7 points coming off the OKC bench, as he would for all of his three seasons there.Kawhi Leonard was 18, averaging 12.7 points two months into his college career as a 6-foot-7 center at San Diego State after being ranked No. 48 in his high school class by Rivals.com.Giannis Antetokounmpo was a twiggy-looking 15 in Athens, Greece, selling watches and sunglasses in the street.After which … Thinking in decades as we step way back to see who and what happened in the NBA and why:Ten years ago …LeBron James, once the most-hyped teen in the game’s history, was 25, an Akron, Ohio native seemingly set with his hometown team in nearby Cleveland … a year from leaving as the most notorious free agent of all time as his fans papered over his billboards and burned his merchandise.Kobe Bryant was 31, en route to his fifth title that spring – one more than Shaquille O’Neal, he would note – seemingly in his prime but only three years from his devastating Achilles injury. LeBRON CHANGES THE SYSTEMOf the stars of his magnitude, only Wilt Chamberlain had ever been as controversial, and that was in an era in which the NBA had just ridden in on a turnip truck with only 17 teams, including the Buffalo Braves, Kansas City-Omaha Kings and Baltimore Bullets.Trapped on humble Cavaliers rosters, James joined Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh in Miami in the 2011 move that called down the unprecedented backlash known as “Heat Hate” … making them a major box-office draw with all rooting against them while making four NBA Finals in a row and winning two titles … before LeBron stunned all anew in 2014 by returning to Cleveland, where he made four more Finals in a row and led the Cavs back from a 3-1 deficit to defeat the Warriors in 2016 to win his third title.Heading the drive wherein stars signed short-term contracts to take control of their careers, LeBron was nonetheless the greatest gift to NBA owners, driving the rising Finals ratings that led to a new TV bonanza.After which …EVERYONE GOT REALLY RICHThe previous TV contract had been only a 21 percent increase from the one before, reflecting the NBA’s struggle after its 1990s zenith with Michael Jordan, with Forbes projecting that 17 of the league’s 30 teams lost money during the 2009-2010 season.The new TV deal in 2016 was a 279 percent increase, reflecting a glowing reappraisal as Curry’s fireworks-show Warriors happened with James’ Cavs as their foil in four Finals in a row.With the new TV deal tripling teams’ revenue from $31 million to $93 million per season, valuations zoomed to the sky.In 2010, Forbes projected the Knicks as the league’s most valuable team, worth $655 million.Forbes now projects all 30 franchises over $1 billion, with the No. 1 Knicks at $4 billion and the No. 2 Lakers, who don’t own their own arena, at $3.7 billion.KAWHI TIPS THE BALANCE OF POWERAnybody could tell you Luka Doncic, the 20-year-old Dallas star, will be among the great NBA players of the next 10 years.Nobody could tell you who the next Kawhi will be.The Lakers’ 2009-2010 titles seemed to settle the question of whose era it was, giving them five with the aging Spurs stuck on four since 2007, seeming to fade from memory after first-round defeats in 2009 and 2011 as Tim Duncan turned 35.Instead, eight weeks after their 2011 first-round loss to Memphis, the Spurs turned their fate around, trading Coach Gregg Popovich’s favorite, George Hill, to Indiana for the No. 15 pick to take the long-overlooked Leonard, who had shown impressive flashes in March as the Aztecs reached the NCAA Tournament’s Sweet 16.Few NBA stars have been bigger surprises than Kawhi. Aside from his much-admired defense, the undersized center who made 41 3-pointers in two college seasons and shot 25 percent from beyond the arc, has become a career 38 percent 3-point shooter with a tight handle, now averaging 5.0 assists for the Clippers.With Leonard emerging, the Spurs went back to the Finals in 2013, losing in seven games to Miami.In 2014, the Spurs beat the Heat in six games.That made it Lakers 5, Spurs 5 in titles since 1999, and a tie for the era.THE LAKERS GO AWAYBigger problems arose for them than divvying up the era as Bryant blew out an Achilles tendon in 2013.Kobe was never the same, nor were his Lakers, beginning a six-year streak of missing the playoffs that’s ongoing.THE LAKERS COME BACKWell, for half a season, but it feels good to their fans, right?CURRY CHANGES THE GAMEIf James changed the system, Steph changed the way the pros played the game.When Curry arrived in 2010, the single-season record for 3-pointers was 202, set in 2009 by Orlando’s Rashard Lewis with little fanfare.With Steph’s other-worldly range and accuracy – he’s No. 1 among active players at 44 percent – he topped out at 402, breaking his own record by 114 and setting a mark most considered “unbreakable.”Or, it was until …HARDEN CHANGES THE GAME EVEN MORENot even the Thunder, who drafted him at No. 3 in 2009, dreamed he would become the game’s greatest scorer … which is why they traded him in an “impasse” over a mere $1.8 million per season on a four-year extension that management took as uppity.Harden’s scoring average hasn’t stopped rising since, from 10-12-17-26-25-27-29-29-30-36 to this season’s 38, the most since Chamberlain in 1962.A year ago, Harden missed Curry’s “unbreakable” record by 24 3-point baskets … and is now on pace to break it, 5.11 per game to 5.08.THE CLIPPERS HAPPENAfter decades under Donald Sterling, the laughingstock owner was forced to sell the team in 2014 after making racial remarks, with Steve Ballmer’s $2 billion bid beating the second-highest by $400 million.Crazy as that price was considered to be, Forbes now values the team at $2.2 billion … having appreciated 282 percent over 10 years, second only to Golden State’s 367 percent with the Warriors moving into the new Chase Center.Ballmer has his own arena plans as an adjunct to the Rams’ empire arising in Inglewood.The old Clippers are dead. Appreciated or not, these Clippers aren’t them.THE GREEK FREAK HAPPENEDThe international Kawhi, an NBA fairy tale.If the league was overjoyed to sell internationally, it’s ecstatic at the rise of foreign stars such as Doncic, Yao Ming and the human spell check, Giannis Antetokounmpo, making the enterprise truly global.From a 6-9, 196-pound rookie in 2013 who’s now 6-11 and 248, Giannis’ rise has been as stupendous as Leonard’s and Harden’s, averaging 7-13-17-23-27-28-30.Imagine who and what will happen in the next 10 years. If the last decade was a guide, we can’t.center_img Newsroom GuidelinesNews TipsContact UsReport an Errorlast_img read more

RBC Canadian Open: Matt Kuchar, Scott Brown share lead; Brandt Snedeker 1 back after 60

first_img RBC Canadian Open: Keegan Bradley in clubhouse lead after brilliant 7-under 63 Snedeker’s 60 was the lowest 18-hole score in tournament history at the Hamilton Golf and Country Club. He carded eight birdies and one eagle on the par-5 4th hole.Jumping the leaderboard. 📈@BrandtSnedeker heats up with an 🦅 on No. 4.#LiveUnderPar pic.twitter.com/5QZV3WMZfU— PGA TOUR (@PGATOUR) June 7, 2019The mistake-free round was also the second lowest on the PGA Tour since the start of the 2017-18 season. Who holds the record for the lowest? Snedeker, as well, at 59. He’s the first player since 1983 to have one round of 59, 60 and 61 on the PGA Tour. Related News Matt Kuchar and Scott Brown share a spot atop the leaderboard at the RBC Canadian Open but there was another golfer who had an even more impressive outing.Brandt Snedeker shot 10-under 60 to climb into a tie for third place (11 under). He is joined by Nick Taylor. Snedeker credited his work on the greens.“I think it’s my putting. When I get hot, I feel like the hole is a beach ball to me,” Snedeker said after his round, via Golfweek.com. “I’m not scared about going low. I realize these days don’t happen very often. So it almost gets me more excited if I feel like it’s going that way.”Kuchar also fared well heading into the weekend. He had one blemish at the par-4 7th but otherwise finished with eight birdies to go 7-under 63.Brown matched Kuchar’s Round 2 score to join him in first place (12 under).Brown, who is searching for his first win since the 2013 Puerto Rico Open, said it was due to his iron play. He had an eagle on the front nine and five birdies on the back.”Just a lot of good iron shots,” Brown said, via GolfDigest.com. “Kind of was feeling it with the irons and had a lot of good looks for birdies most of them.”Webb Simpson sits in fifth place (10 under), Adam Hadwin follows in sixth (9 under) and Mackenzie Hughes, Henrik Stenson and Graeme McDowell, among others, make up the sizable tie for seventh (8 under). McDowell, at one point, was in control of the leaderboard after he fired off three birdies. But two bogeys on his back nine pushed him back down the standings.New leader @RBCCanadianOpen. @Graeme_McDowell has now rattled off 3 birdies in a row to get to -8. 🐦#LiveUnderPar pic.twitter.com/f7eHydW102— PGA TOUR (@PGATOUR) June 7, 2019Dustin Johnson, the 2018 RBC winner, is in a tie for 33rd place (4 under) with the likes of Brooks Koepka. U.S. Open 2019: Notable Thursday-Friday groups, tee times at Pebble Beach Tiger Woods re-enters top 5 of world golf ranking Surprisingly, the two top golfers in the world were just above the cut line (2 under).Some notable names not making it into the weekend are Russell Henley, J.B. Holmes and Sergio Garcia.last_img read more

Texans to interview former Browns GM Ray Farmer, report says

first_imgThe team’s meeting with Farmer is the first interview conducted for the open job, though the Texans are expected to bring in more candidates this week.The report noted the Texans also are expected to request an interview with Patriots director of player personnel Nick Caserio, though New England will need to approve the meeting. Related News Texans fire GM Brian Gaine less than 2 years into 5-year deal “We will begin an immediate search for a new GM. In the interim, football operations will be led by senior vice president of football administration Chris Olsen. While the timing may be unusual, this decision was made in the best interest of our organization in our quest to build a championship team for the city of Houston.”Gaine was hired as the Texans’ GM in January 2018 after previous general manager Rick Smith stepped down to take care of his wife, who is battling cancer.The Texans went 11-5 and won the AFC South, but lost to the Colts in the wild-card round in Gaine’s lone season at the helm in Houston. Houston is ramping up its search for a new general manager.According to NFL Media, the Texans are expected to interview former Browns general manager Ray Farmer for the vacant position. Jets hire Eagles’ Joe Douglas to be new general manager Texans WR DeAndre Hopkins played through brutal injuries in 2018 The news comes one day after the Texans fired general manager Brian Gaine less than two years into his five-year deal.“After a thorough evaluation of our football operations, we have decided to relieve Brian Gaine of his duties as general manager,” Texans chairman and CEO Cal McNair said in a statement. “Brian is a man of high character and we appreciate his contributions to our organization.last_img read more

Anthony Davis trade rumors: Pelicans open to multi-team deal

first_imgIt was rumored that Davis wanted to be dealt to the Lakers, but the Celtics, Bucks and several other teams have shown interest, as well. The report noted the framework includes multi-team scenarios that would benefit the Pelicans’ position, adding that the Lakers, Clippers, Knicks and Nets are among the teams that have reached out regarding Davis.Rich Paul, Davis’ agent, told ESPN during the regular season that his client would not re-sign with the Pelicans when his contract ran out with the team after the 2020 season and he would prefer to be traded. Related News Tony Parker announces retirement from NBA after 18 seasons Kevin Durant injury update: Warriors star will play in Game 5 vs. Raptors The Pelicans appear to be looking at some new trade scenarios for Anthony Davis.According to ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski, who cited unidentified league sources, Pelicans executive vice president of basketball operations David Griffin has started to provide prospective partners with the outline of the package the team wants in a trade for the veteran. James Harden, Anthony Davis lead players invited to USA Basketball camp After the season ended, however, Pelicans owner Gayle Benson said the team would trade Davis to the Lakers “over my dead body.”The teams rumored to be Davis’ preferred destination include the Lakers, Knicks, Bucks and Clippers.Davis, 26, averaged 25.9 points and 12 rebounds in 56 games last season. New Orleans finished with a 33-49 record and missed the playoffs for the third time in four seasons.last_img read more

Warriors’ Andre Iguodala on Kevin Durant, Klay Thompson: ‘Nobody’s going to the Knicks’

first_img Kevin Durant free agency rumors: Star has met twice with Kyrie Irving about signing with same team Andre Iguodala’s prediction for NBA free agency pic.twitter.com/xhJtaZmYTk— Power Lunch (@PowerLunch) June 24, 2019″I think they’ll both be back with the Golden State Warriors,” Iguodala said Monday. “We’re like brothers. We keep in contact. But regardless of any of that, if both decide to leave, then they would both still be my brother(s). I’ll still keep in contact with them as much as possible. I just wish the best for both of those guys. They come back full strength.””Nobody’s going to the Knicks, sorry.” Related News Jimmer Fredette will play with Warriors in summer league, report says Andre Iguodala doesn’t think the Knicks will sign any of Golden State’s top talent.Warriors stars Kevin Durant (Achilles) and Klay Thompson (ACL) suffered serious injuries in the 2019 NBA Finals and could both hit the open market this offseason, but Iguodala is certain neither will call Madison Square Garden home anytime soon. Will Kevin Durant re-sign with Warriors? Steve Kerr, Bob Myers have ‘no idea’ Golden State entered 2018-19 as the two-time defending champions but fell to the Raptors in six games in this year’s Finals.Durant and Thompson combined to average 47.5 points per game in 2018-19 and will miss a substantial portion of 2019-20. The Warriors averaged 117.7 points per contest throughout that season, so they’ll have to replace some vital firepower. Golden State is reportedly prepared to make Durant and Thompson max offers this summer, but Durant is the wild card in this situation, as he’s been linked to the Knicks and Nets as of late. When asked if the Warriors were confident about retaining the pair on Monday, general manager Bob Myers responded: “We’ll see.”That’s not exactly a vote of confidence, but Golden State coach Steve Kerr doesn’t think there will be any “recruiting” of Durant and Thompson.”We’re not doing any videos and tours of the city,” Kerr told ESPN recently. “Basically it’s a ‘We want you back and we hope you decide to come back and see what happens,’ but we’re at a different place now.”last_img read more

Avalanche sign head coach Jared Bednar to two-year contract extension

first_imgThe Jared Bednar era in Colorado was just extended for another two years.The Avalanche reached an agreement with Bednar on a contract extension that keeps him with the team through the 2021-22 season. He completed his third year at the helm of the Colorado bench in 2018-19, reaching the postseason for the second straight year. Bednar replaced Patrick Roy as Colorado’s head coach after Roy led the team to a ninth-place finish in the Western Conference in 2016. Bednar followed up a 22-56-4 record in his first season in 2016-17 before leading the Avalanche to back-to-back postseason appearances in 2018 and 2019, which featured a first-round series win over the Western conference champion Calgary Flames.“Jared has done a tremendous job behind the bench and has earned the opportunity to continue leading this team,” executive vice president and general manager Joe Sakic said. “He is an outstanding coach who has the full trust of his players, coaches and staff.  He has guided this franchise to two straight playoff appearances and we are excited with what this group can do moving forward.”A finalist for the Jack Adams award in 2018, Bednar earned his 100th win March 27 against the Golden Knights and led the Avalanche to consecutive postseasons for the first time since 2004. “I am grateful and honored to be the head coach of the Avalanche,” Bednar said in a press release. “We’re moving in the right direction with the group that we have here. This team has an exciting future and I am ecstatic to be part of it.”NHL free agency rumors 2019: Is an offer sheet on the horizon for Patrik Laine, Mitch Marner?last_img read more