With the summer holidays in full swing and local competition, the NBL scheduled to kick off on Friday January 15th, lets take a quick look at what’s happening Stateside with Melbourne’s most famous Basketball player, NBA star Ben Simmons.
The NBA Season is again roaring along with some very exciting stuff, not the least of which was Lebron’s impossible corner 3 pointer.
But what’s happening with Ben Simmons? Read all about it here…
‘Connect the dots’: 76ers in hot water after Simmons skips town, develops mystery injury
The Philadelphia 76ers have been fined $25,000 ($A32,000) after Ben Simmons reportedly skipped town without the team’s knowledge. Simmons was a late withdrawal from Sunday’s (AEDT) game against the Denver Nuggets with a knee injury, but the NBA was not informed of the development in requisite time.
The Sixers barely had enough players to field a team even before Simmons’ withdrawal after Seth Curry returned a positive COVID-19 diagnosis during the game against the Brooklyn Nets.
According to Yahoo Sports, while the rest of the team returned to their hotel in New York following the Nets game and Curry’s positive test, Simmons left the New York area and got a driver to take him back to Philadelphia.
This was done without the team’s knowledge and he was made to return to New York when his absence was discovered.
Yahoo’s NBA writer Vincent Goodwill told the Posted Up podcast: “What I have gathered was that Ben Simmons left New York that evening. He left New York and went back to Philadelphia, you know, apparently probably hired a driver from a service. I don’t think Ben Simmons was out here in a regular old, you know, Hyundai Sonata or nothing like that, you know what I’m saying? On the car service, I believe it was probably something reputable.
“The team clearly found out. Here’s the one thing that we do know. Because of the restaurant protocols and everything else, there’s certain restaurants and places that you can’t go to. There are no restaurants in New York City that are approved. So if a team is staying in New York City, they have to stay there. Apparently, Ben Simmons said, nah, I’m out. I’m headed out. Got a driver, went back to Philly.
“I believe the team found out, and I believe team security, as you know, you know, team security knows these things. They’re like the CIA. Ben Simmons has to come back. And magically, or however you want to say it, he winds up on the injury report the next day, you know, not playing. Now who knows how you want to connect the dots.”
Coach Doc Rivers said it was not a deliberate ploy from Simmons and a mistake that he quickly corrected.
“Obviously, that night we were all in disarray, a bunch of guys were ordering cars, because we all did think we could go back home,” he said, per the Philly Inquirer.
“Ben was on his way, I called him and told him he couldn’t because of league protocols, and he just turned around and came back. I don’t read, so I heard, but the way it sounded was like it was some kind of bad thing and it wasn’t, it was just the way it was.”
“We didn’t know anything. At the time, even I was ordering a car. We didn’t know what we could do the next day, we thought we could leave and get tested at home. Then we were told we could not do that. So, after that game it was, it was a lot of different moving parts going on at the same time.”
Rivers revealed Simmons had knee stiffness in the Brooklyn game amid concerns surrounding the fact he was not included on the injury report leading up to the game.
“Ben in the Brooklyn game had some knee stiffness, and so we almost probably knew after the game that he wouldn’t play tonight,” Rivers said. “And then Joel started complaining about his back over the last, he started yesterday. And we didn’t know if he was playing or not. But honestly, with the minutes we would have to ask, it would be insane to play him.”
Here in Victoria local competition is gradually returning to a semblance of normality but as yet there has not been a full return. There are still limits regarding spectators, venue limits and face masks.
It’s the off season for the NBA and the NBL, the Super Netball is in recess and local competition is just re-commencing, so we thought it a good opportunity to share some all-time action. this week we feature “The Top Ten NBA Dunks of All Time”. Sit back, relax and be amazed!
Of course, real on-court action is entirely dependent on the provision of a premium playing surface. From the humble beginnings in fruit packing sheds and church halls, to the blacktop courts of New York City and Philadelphia, the real preferred playing surface has always been timber – Sprung Timber Sports Flooring.
Timber Sports Flooring provides give and bounce in a way that asphalt and concrete simply can’t – which is why all premier league games worldwide are now played on FIBA approved Timber Sports Flooring.
In Victoria, the State Government has funded multipurpose timber sports flooring in all new schools, both primary and secondary. As well many older schools have also been provided with such multipurpose facilities.
In addition, both Federal and State Governments have funded Community and Regional Indoor Sports Stadiums with FIBA approved Sports Flooring, enabling high level competitions.
Essentially this means that community participation in sports like Basketball, Netball, Volleyball and Gymnastics has increased exponentially over the last 20 years, with participation in both Basketball and Netball representing the fastest growing sports in Australia.
For the Under 18’s in Victoria, Outdoor Competition is back on the table in Metro Melbourne and Regional Victoria. It’s only a matter of time before indoor competition begins again. Now is the time to make sure your Court Surface indoors is in premium shape along with your stadium’s portable seating.
Meanwhile the movement in NBA ranks has started post play-offs. Here’s an article to give some insight into the possible moves…
Trades to Get Every Eliminated Playoff Team to 2021 NBA Finals
Losing an NBA playoff series is never fun, and wound licking only provides so much relief.
But never fear, fans of the 14 teams dispatched from the 2020 postseason, we have discovered your club’s path to the 2021 Finals. It will take a trade to get there, and in some cases, it must be a pretty gargantuan change.
Since we’re free to focus on a one-year window, we’re also more willing to put top assets into trades than teams might actually be, but even then, we aren’t just giving top picks and prospects away. It’s just that if the potential prize is a championship, there are certain sacrifices clubs should be willing to make.
Boston Celtics receive: Myles Turner, Jeremy Lamb, Doug McDermott
The Al Horford-less Celtics had a functional collection of 5s until they didn’t. Once Bam Adebayo stood in their path in the Eastern Conference Finals, their lack of serviceable size became a fatal flaw.
Turner could help correct it. He’s not only a major defensive deterrent at the rim (career 2.6 blocks per 36 minutes), and he moves well enough to handle most perimeter switches. He also doesn’t gunk up the offensive spacing, since he’s a career 35.7 percent shooter from distance.
He’s not a star, but the Shamrocks are covered in that department by Kemba Walker, Jayson Tatum and Jaylen Brown, the latter two of whom are still working toward their peaks. Boston just needs more role players Brad Stevens can trust, and the club would get three back in this exchange. A sniper like McDermott is always useful, and Lamb could scratch an itch for second-team scoring whenever he’s recovered from a torn ACL.
The Pacers do this deal for two reasons. First, they’re ready to finally move away from the double-big lineup and hand the frontcourt keys to Domantas Sabonis. Second, they want to build a big winner ahead of Victor Oladipo’s journey to free agency and see Hayward, a former All-Star who hails from the Circle City, as their vehicle to get there. If Hayward is fully healthy, Indy gets the best player in the deal, plus two first-round picks.
Brooklyn’s search for a third star could take it several different directions—or none at all, if you share Kevin Durant’s belief that LeVert can handle the role—but Beal is the ultimate target.
He has the three-ball to prevent teams from overcrowding Durant and Kyrie Irving and the potency to power the attack on his own whenever needed. Since Beal won’t have to do everything on offense, he could have the energy to reverse his recent decline on defense, too. Basically, he’s the best-case scenario of LeVert and more, and Beal is only a year older.
The Wizards decide they’ve played hard ball long enough and pounce on a package with both present and future assets. Competing for a playoff berth is not out of the question with LeVert, Allen and Temple—whose $5 million team option must be picked up for this to work—alongside John Wall next season. Then, the two firsts and possibly early second all brighten the club’s long-term outlook, which should be the organization’s biggest focus.
Dallas Mavericks receive: Rudy Gobert
Utah Jazz receive: Tim Hardaway Jr., Maxi Kleber, Jalen Brunson, No. 18 pick, No. 31 pick (via GSW)
The Mavs might have a championship-quality duo in Luka Doncic and Kristaps Porzingis, but they need a third star to push them into full-fledged title contention. The problem is they don’t have the richest asset collection to use in their star search. They can only trade the No. 18 pick on draft night, and after that they can’t move another first-rounder until 2025.
They need a discounted star in other words, and maybe Gobert’s future uncertainty has lowered Utah’s trade demands. The 7-footer is approaching his final season under contract, and the Jazz might not want to break the bank (he is supermax eligible) to keep him. He’s already 28 years old, and his offensive limitations aren’t going away.
But the Mavs and their most efficient offense in NBA history can work around Gobert’s limits. They have enough shooting to keep the runway clear for Gobert to crush lobs on the back end of pick-and-rolls with Doncic. Gobert, in turn, could get their 18th-ranked defense where it needs to be for them to contend.
Kleber increases Utah’s versatility as a stretch 5 who can defend away from the basket. Hardaway either shares the spark-plug role with Jordan Clarkson or takes control of it if Clarkson departs in free agency. Brunson addresses a quietly pressing need for a backup point guard. The picks can either bring new prospects to town or be used in separate transactions for more immediate assistance.
Denver Nuggets receive: Shai Gilgeous-Alexander
Oklahoma City Thunder receive: Michael Porter Jr., Monte Morris, No. 22 pick (via HOU)
Rocking the boat on the heels of a Western Conference Finals appearance might seem excessive, but the Nuggets seem one piece shy of a true championship threat. Rather than waiting for Porter to become that player, they could flip the young scorer for Gilgeous-Alexander, who might be the ideal backcourt mate for Jamal Murray.
Gilgeous-Alexander blends primary-option scoring with versatile, disruptive defense, high-level distributing and off-the-dribble attacking. He can play within a system and complement the likes of Murray and Nikola Jokic or divert from it to relieve some of the pressure on the Nuggets’ stars.
Adding Gilgeous-Alexander potentially sets up Denver’s Big Three and positions it for sustained success. He’s just 22 years old, so the idea of joining him with the 25-year-old Jokic and 23-year-old Murray should terrify the Nuggets’ aging competition in the West.
The Thunder take the calculated risk of betting that Porter’s ceiling stretches even higher than Gilgeous-Alexander’s. It’s a gamble given how accomplished SGA already is, but it would hardly be an outlandish wager. If Porter hits his full potential, he could be basketball’s next matchup nightmare as an athletic, 6’10” three-level scorer.
The upside is too great for the Thunder to overlook, and they also bring back a rock-solid 25-year-old floor general in Morris and yet another first-round pick.
Orlando Magic receive: Eric Gordon, Danuel House Jr., Ben McLemore, 2022 first-round pick (top-five protected), 2024 second-round pick, 2024 second-round pick (via GSW)
The Rockets are light on needle-movers beyond James Harden, so they need help to make an impact deal, Here, they receive it in the form of the Magic being desperate for offense and potentially ready to accept that it just isn’t working with Aaron Gordon.
If this deal is on the table—and if Tilman Fertitta wouldn’t recoil at the idea of elevating next season’s payroll—the Rockets should pounce in a hurry. Even if Gordon and Aminu aren’t the most reliable shooters, they can hit enough threes to not destroy the offensive spacing, and they could fit right into a switch-heavy defensive scheme.
Barring a major systematic change for the post-Mike D’Antoni Rockets, Gordon and Aminu should get all of their minutes as small-ball 4s and 5s. Gordon, in particular, could be a position change away from finally putting all the pieces together and proving why he was the fourth player taken in 2014. He should be a dynamic pick-and-roll screener with his explosive finishing at the basket and ability to find (and feed) open teammates.
The Magic, meanwhile, decide they’d rather not pay Gordon or Aminu when Jonathan Isaac, Nikola Vucevic, Mo Bamba and Chuma Okeke can handle all the 4 and 5 minutes. Instead, Orlando gets busy trying to fix its 23rd-ranked offense. If Eric Gordon can ever stay healthy, he can be a dynamic scorer, shooter and off-the-dribble creator. House and McLemore buy this offense some breathing room by scratching an itch for more spot-up sniping.
The Pacers already started the shake-up process with the dismissal of coach Nate McMillan, and that could be the first of several dominoes to drop.
Their interest in Mike D’Antoni, as reported by ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski, signals a willingness to retool the roster. The small-ball enthusiast has little use for a frontcourt featuring Myles Turner, Domantas Sabonis and Goga Bitadze, so splitting with at least one of the three seems inevitable.
This deal not only helps balance Indiana’s roster, but it also brings back a two-way difference-maker in Jrue Holiday. He’s a two-time All-Defensive selection who is serviceable or better at everything on offense. That makes him an easy fit with any kind of supporting cast, and in the Circle City, he could form a do-it-all perimeter trio with Victor Oladipo and Malcolm Brogdon, giving Sabonis a bounty of impact receivers.
The Pelicans swap out the 30-year-old Holiday for players who better fit the time lines of Zion Williamson and Ja Morant. Turner, 24, is a near ideal frontcourt partner for Williamson with his floor-spacing and rim protection. Aaron Holiday, 24 on Sept. 30, gives the offense another off-the-dribble scoring threat. McDermott, 28, keeps defenses honest as a career 41.2 percent three-point shooter.
Los Angeles Clippers
Los Angeles Clippers receive: Derrick Rose
Detroit Pistons receive: Landry Shamet, Mfiondu Kabengele, 2022 second-round pick
This isn’t time for the Clippers to panic. Despite all the (deserved) heat they’ve taken for blowing a 3-1 lead to the Denver Nuggets in the second round, this is still one of the league’s heavyweight title contenders. L.A. finished the season fourth in winning percentage and second in net efficiency rating.
But this isn’t the time to practice patience, either. Both Kawhi Leonard and Paul George can enter free agency next offseason, and even if they stick around, it’s not like their primes will last indefinitely. Leonard’s 30th birthday is coming next June, and George is already on the wrong side of his.
L.A. needs to aggressively attack its deficiencies, and adding an actual floor general like Rose could be the key to unlock this offense’s full potential. Bring his 18.1 points and 5.6 assists to town, and defenses can no longer overload on Leonard and George. Rose may not be a top-shelf focal point anymore, but he’d be incredibly hard to handle as the Clippers’ third option.
The Pistons’ decision to keep Rose at the deadline may have torpedoed their chances of bringing back a first-round pick, but this isn’t a bad haul. Shamet is a 23-year-old sharpshooter with some off-the-dribble wiggle, and 23-year-old Kabengele offers an intriguing blend of length, athleticism, shot-blocking and some outside shooting. And on the off chance Leonard and George leave next summer, that 2022 second-rounder could be an early one.
Milwaukee Bucks receive: Chris Paul
Oklahoma City Thunder receive: Eric Bledsoe, Ersan Ilyasova, Donte DiVincenzo, Robin Lopez, D.J. Wilson, 2024 first-round pick (top-five protected)
This seems like the most obvious move of the season, at least from Milwaukee’s standpoint. The offense has stalled out in back-to-back postseasons, and the Bucks have extinguished their margin for error. Barring a supermax commitment from Giannis Antetokounmpo this offseason, the two-time reigning MVP will be an unrestricted free agent in 2021.
The time for Milwaukee to make an all-in move is now, even if The Athletic’s Sam Amick and Eric Nehm are hearing a CP3 pursuit is “highly unlikely.” Hopefully that’s posturing, because if you sketched out the Bucks’ needs list, you’d end up drawing a picture of Paul—or at least Alfonso Ribeiro.
“Rival executives expect the Bucks to prioritize acquiring a playmaker and more shooting in the offseason to retool the roster around Antetokounmpo,” The Athletic’s Shams Charania wrote.
Paul has the second-highest career assist percentage in NBA history (45.6) and a 37.0 career three-point percentage. If the Bucks are after table-setting and splashing, it’s check and check with this deal.
The Thunder accept the inevitability of their rebuild and do well to get out of Paul’s remaining contract ($41.4 million next season, $44.2 million player option for 2021-22) without taking any bad money back. In fact, they get two assets in DiVincenzo and the pick (which would convey two years after Milwaukee sends a protected first to Cleveland), add a 24-year-old wild card in Wilson and potentially prepare for future trades if contenders take a liking to the incoming veterans.
Oklahoma City Thunder
Oklahoma City Thunder receive: Victor Oladipo
Indiana Pacers receive: Dennis Schroder, Darius Bazley, Terrance Ferguson, No. 25 pick (via DEN)
Between last summer’s trades of Paul George and Russell Westbrook and this offseason’s parting of ways with former coach Billy Donovan, all signs are pointing to the Thunder needing and embracing a full-scale rebuild. But since our focus has narrowed to chasing next season’s crown, OKC instead cashes in a few assets to reunite with Oladipo and foster his return to stardom.
His first stint in the Sooner State was wholly unremarkable, as he never found his niche with Westbrook and was traded for George after just one season. But Oladipo found his All-Star form in Indiana, and he’d find better fitting backcourt mates in Shai Gilgeous-Alexander and Chris Paul in a move back to Oklahoma.
Oladipo, Paul and Gilgeous-Alexander all do a little (or, in some cases, a lot) of everything at both ends of the floor, so the on-court bond should be easily formed. They can run offense, spot up, create shots, attack the basket and defend multiple positions. It’s a souped-up, bigger version of the Schroder-Paul-Gilgeous-Alexander trio, which blitzed opponents by 28.6 points per 100 possessions this season.
The Pacers, meanwhile, decide they’d rather not cover the costs of Oladipo’s next contract, so they flip him for pieces who can help now and later. Schroder is the best incoming player for next season, but Bazley is the real needle-mover beyond. The 20-year-old is raw, but there are flashes of do-it-all brilliance from the athletic forward.
Orlando Magic receive: Bradley Beal
Washington Wizards receive: Evan Fournier, Jonathan Isaac, No. 15 pick
Orlando needs an offensive focal point, and Beal is on a short list of the league’s very best.
The 27-year-old scoring guard has almost perpetually increased his production ever since arriving in the District as the No. 3 pick in 2012. Most recently, he became just the 12th player ever to average 30 points and six assists. The rest of the list is populated by current and future Hall of Famers.
Beal and Nikola Vucevic could work two-man magic together, and Beal’s long-range shooting would help open the floor for Markelle Fultz’s drives and Aaron Gordon’s rim runs. If the Magic maintain their 11th-ranked defense while Beal launches the offense into the top 10, they could finally have their two-way formula for a title.
The Wizards won’t move Beal for anything but an elite prospect, and Isaac fits the bill. The 6’11”, 230-pounder is practically a top-five defense by himself, as his length and athleticism lets him blanket scorers of all sizes and styles. Once Fournier picks up his $17.2 million player option, he matches money in this deal and helps replace some of Beal’s shooting and scoring.
Philadelphia 76ers receive: Chris Paul
Oklahoma City Thunder receive: Al Horford, Matisse Thybulle, Zhaire Smith, 2022 first-round pick (top-10 protected)
Perhaps it will prove impossible to correct Philly’s roster imbalance without sacrificing either Joel Embiid or Ben Simmons, but the Sixers aren’t competing for next year’s title without them. They also aren’t contending without addressing series deficiencies in shooting and shot-creating.
Enter CP3. The Point God would scratch several of this squad’s biggest itches and answer some of its half-court questions that have plagued recent playoff runs.
“He would get the ball to Joel Embiid in his preferred spots,” The Athletic’s Rich Hofmann wrote. “He can spot up off the ball and make threes, which is key around Embiid and Simmons. And perhaps most importantly, he could take the Jimmy Butler role at the end of games.”
There aren’t many teams who would give up multiple assets to get Paul, since he’s a 35-year-old with $85.6 million headed his way over the next two seasons. But if he’s the missing piece of the Sixers’ championship puzzle, the trade and the contract all become small prices to pay.
The Thunder pounce on the chance to snag another long-limbed, athletic defender in Thybulle, who offers more shooting upside than their typical stopper. They also bet on their developmental staff to bring the best out of the 21-year-old Smith, and they throw another future first onto the pile. Finally, they add Horford in the hopes of getting him back on track and flipping him to a win-now shopper at some point.
Portland Trail Blazers
Portland Trail Blazers receive: Ben Simmons
Philadelphia 76ers receive: CJ McCollum, Gary Trent Jr., No. 16 pick
The championship-or-bust scale isn’t often affixed to the Trail Blazers (not by anyone outside the organization, at least), but that should be how they evaluate themselves. With Damian Lillard’s 30th birthday behind him, they only have so many cracks at the crown left before their superstar ages out of his prime.
That increased urgency could be what finally convinces Portland to split up the defensively problematic combo of Lillard and McCollum, especially if it means bringing back a dynamic talent like Simmons. Even if it takes coach Terry Stotts a bit to find the right distribution of touches, Simmons could shine as a Swiss Army knife defender, transition attacker and pick-and-roll partner for Lillard.
Portland wouldn’t be the favorite entering next season, but it would certainly rank among the heavyweight class of contenders. It would have two stars on the top and potentially a wealth of depth behind them, assuming health for Zach Collins and Rodney Hood, possible re-signings of Carmelo Anthony and Hassan Whiteside, and the chance for Anfernee Simons and Nassir Little to either crack the rotation or be traded for players who will.
Philly admits that its roster is broken beyond repair, so it stomachs the gut punch of trading away Simmons on the hope that McCollum’s creation and Trent’s shooting can position Joel Embiid to thrive. The 16th pick is either a way to lengthen the rotation or an asset to help chase win-now talent.
Toronto Raptors receive: LaMarcus Aldridge
San Antonio Spurs receive: Norman Powell, Terence Davis, No. 29 pick
The Raptors won’t add money to their future ledger this offseason so they can make their ambitious run at Giannis Antetokounmpo next summer.
Luckily, Aldridge is approaching the final year of his contract. Not to mention, this exchange actually increases Toronto’s buying power, since Davis and the pick help incentivize the Spurs to take on the remainder of Powell’s contract ($10.9 million next season with an $11.6 million player option for 2021-22).
With finances effectively removed from the equation, Toronto doesn’t have to worry about Aldridge’s declining production or fight with Father Time. The Raptors just need him to stay above water next season, when he’d team with Pascal Siakam, Kyle Lowry and perhaps a re-signed Fred VanVleet to keep this club among the league’s elite at both ends.
The Spurs shift their focus forward but stop short of demolishing their win-now competitiveness. Powell plugs in as a three-and-D swingman for as long as the Alamo City wants him around, and Davis offers two-way versatility that will make him an easy fit with this young nucleus.
Utah Jazz receive: Chris Paul
Oklahoma City Thunder receive: Mike Conley, 2021 second-round pick (via GSW), 2023 first-round pick (top-10 protected)
Despite Donovan Mitchell’s ongoing ascension, the Jazz are trending the wrong direction. A Western Conference semifinalist in 2017 and 2018, Utah has now been knocked out of the opening round each of the past two years.
Granted, the Jazz had to blow a 3-1 lead to do it this year and did so while playing without Bojan Bogdanovic, but they can’t just count on their returning roster to lengthen their postseason stay. They were only ninth in net efficiency during the regular season, a significant drop from fourth the year prior. This was also Conley’s first season in Salt Lake City, and while he played his best ball in the bubble, he rarely looked like the difference-maker they still need.
Paul could be that player.
He’d be a dream pick-and-roll partner for Rudy Gobert, who’s already a 72nd percentile pick-and-roll screener without him. Paul’s ability to run offense (career 9.5 assists against 2.4 turnovers) and make long-range looks (37.0 percent) would both make life easier on Mitchell and the supporting cast. Paul could even play a part in re-establishing the Jazz as a defensive powerhouse after they finished just 13th in efficiency on that end.
The Thunder go from owing $85.6 million to the 35-year-old Paul to being on the hook for just $34.5 million to the 32-year-old Conley. More importantly, they put two more picks onto the road map that will eventually guide them through this rebuild, although the first-rounder could take some time to get there, as the Jazz owe the Grizzlies a protected pick either in 2021 or beyond.
After an extraordinary year that saw the entire NBA competition mothballed for months after the date all games were scheduled to be completed by, the LA Lakers have managed to snatch this year’s crown in the final playoffs at the ESPN Hub in Disneyworld, Orlando, Florida. The Lakers won the playoff with Miami Heat 4 games to 2 clinching their first National title in 10 years.
So, this time we leave it to LeBron to have the last say.
‘I want my damn respect’: LeBron slaps down haters in epic speech
Put some respect on his name.
LeBron James won his fourth ring with a third team, and a fourth Finals MVP as he led the Los Angeles Lakers to the 2020 NBA Championship.
At 35-years-old, in his 17th season, James averaged 29.8 points, 11.8 rebounds, and 8.5 assists per game, and had one simple message for those watching on.
“It means a lot to represent this franchise,” James said. “I told Jeanie [Buss] when I came here that I was going to put this franchise back in the position that it belongs.
“Her late, great father did it for so many years, and he just took it on after that.
“For me to be a part of such a historic franchise, it’s an unbelievable feeling; not only for myself, but for my teammates, for the organisation, for the coaches, for the trainers, everybody that’s here.
“We just want our respect. Rob [Pelinka] wants his respect. Coach [Frank] Vogel wants his respect, our organisation wants their respect, Laker Nation wants their respect … and I want my damn respect, too.”
It’s the fourth time in four championship runs that James has captured MVP honours, after he did so with Miami in 2012 and 2013 and with the Cleveland Cavaliers in 2016.
Asked what a fourth title and his incredible longevity meant for his legacy, James added: “I don’t know. I’m going to let you guys talk about it.
“One thing I can do is commit to the game. I put myself, and my body, and my mind in position to be available to my teammates.
“I’ve never missed a playoff game in my career, and the best thing you can do for your teammates is be available.
“For me to be available to my teammates, and put in the work, I just hope I make my guys proud, and that’s all that matters to me.”
With two games to go, one on Saturday the 10th and one on Monday the 12th of October, it’s likely the series will be wrapped up by Saturday. The Lakers go into the game on Saturday with a commanding series lead of 3 games to 1. The Miami Heat will need to win both games to force a playoff.
Here’s the report on Game 4…
LeBron, AD on fire to cool Heat and move Lakers a game away from 17th NBA championship
The Los Angeles Lakers are just one game away from becoming world champions after an inspired second half turnaround from LeBron James helped them overpower Jimmy Butler and the Miami Heat to take a 3-1 series lead.
The game was on a knife-edge for all but 40-seconds as the two teams were never more than seven points apart until Anthony Davis got over his similarly slow start to James to sink a huge three-pointer to all-but seal the game.
Butler nearly got his second consecutive triple double as he helped himself to 22 points under the increased scrutiny of James and Davis, who took it upon themselves to make sure he didn’t get the same joy as he did in Game 3.
The two teams now have an extra rest day before Saturday’s (AEST) Game 5, where the Lakers can wrap up the championship with two games in hand.
Bam Adebayo recovered from a neck injury for the Heat to take his place on the floor but Goran Dragic couldn’t join him, despite taking part in the warm up.
The Lakers had a special plan in place for Game 3 hero Butler with Davis guarding him from the offset while James skipped his usual rest periods to match up with the Heat No.22’s time off court.
James had a difficult first half as he gave away five of the Lakers’ nine turnovers by midway through the second quarter.
However, he made the proper adjustments in the second half and sank two huge three-pointers – the first from the logo – to turn his “out of sync” performance into a five-point lead for the Lakers going into the final quarter.
Butler meanwhile, after going five from five from the field and two assists in the first quarter, missed four in a row in what proved to be the turning point in this Game 4 encounter.
James continued his recovery in the final period as he took 26 points – the highest of anyone on the floor – Kentavious Caldwell-Pope hit two massive back-to-back buckets to put the Lakers firmly in the driving seat.
Davis sealed it with his massive three-pointer to stretch the lead to a game-high nine points, while also making five blocks at the bucket to show off his offensive and defensive superiority.
The Lakers are now just one game away from their 17th NBA championship.
Last week we re-published an article questioning LeBron James and his capacity to perform. Never write off a champion. This week the 35 year old makes his 10th NBA finals appearance (Thursday Oct 1, 11am). You can watch it live on Kayo or Fox Sports.
The Orlando Hub at Disneyworld has now been operational for 3 months. With delays due to Coronavirus first and then the death of George Floyd in Minneapolis sparking a competition-wide walkout.
This would be LeBron James’ fourth championship ring, having previously won finals with both Cleveland, Miami and the Lakers.
At 35 years of age, LeBron has acknowledged that this series is probably the greatest challenge he has faced in his long career. He went on to comment that the ‘bubble’ that is Orlando has been extremely tough on both the mind and body. It was the unexpected that took a toll on his performance and that of others.
LeBron has made it clear – he has committed to the hub, the bubble – its quarantine and its privations for one reason and one reason alone – to win the Championship. But right now he commented that he has lost track of time since entering the hub, saying he had no idea how many days it’s been and that it felt like 5 years.
When the Lakers left Los Angeles in July, no-one was certain the competition would even reach completion this year.
But now it is the reality with James facing off against his old team – Miami, and jousting with his old coach Erik Spoelstra with whom he won back to back titles in 2012 and 2013, departing in 2014 to return to Cleveland. Rumour has it that LeBron did not always see eye to eye with Spoelstra and their relationship was at times somewhat fiery. Ever the professional, LeBron stressed this would have no bearing on his feelings about the result – win lose or draw conceding that just reaching the final was hard enough in itself. And true to form, he’s there to rock and roll, for the team, the coaching staff and the fans. Exciting times!
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With no clear pathway yet for local competitions either in Melbourne or in Regional Victoria, the Suncorp Super Netball is providing a level of entertainment and connection for netball aficionados and participants during the Lockdown here in Victoria.
It’s much the same with Basketball with no clear pathway yet announced for a return to local competition. All eyes here turn to the Orlando Florida Hub of the NBA. For many there, the LA Lakers are looking very promising.
Here’s an interview with LeBron James discussing his own all-time playoff record and his progress during the playoffs.
The Victorian State Government is offering significant grants to sporting organisations and clubs as well as loans at low interest of between $500K and $10M for infrastructure development for sporting clubs and organisations. For all sporting organisations it’s timely and appropriate to utilise these one-off grants to tide your competitions and facilities over during Lockdown and into the next phase as the community begins to open up and competitions resume.
Here is a link to the Victorian Government’s Sports and Recreation Grants
Nellakir are continuing to work on a number of projects that fall within the current Building and Construction guidelines of the Victorian Government. Now is also a very suitable time to carry out major maintenance on Sports Flooring such as re-coating, re-sanding, and re-lining. Call Nellakir now on 03 9467 6126 or leave your details here for a prompt response to your enquiry. Be prepared and ready for the re-opening of local competitions and stadiums with your facilities including flooring and retractable seating presented in pristine condition to spectators and participants alike.
The hub continues in Orlando and some big scalps are being taken. The Utah Jazz were defeated in the last few seconds on the countdown clock. Read about it here…
Donovan Mitchell ‘in shock’ after Game 7 loss, but says ‘this is just the beginning’ for Jazz
LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla. — Only minutes after Donovan Mitchell was lying facedown on the court inside AdventHealth Arena, he plopped himself down in front of a video camera, his eyes still red from tears he shed after his Utah Jazz saw their season end Tuesday night with a heartbreaking 80-78 loss to the Denver Nuggets in Game 7 of their first-round NBA playoff series.
But while Mitchell said he was devastated about the way things slipped away from the Jazz, after they not only held a 3-1 lead in this series but led by 15 points in the second half of Game 5, he was proud that his team survived everything it has gone through over the past several months.
He also was ready to get back to work.
“We’re ready to fight through anything,” said Mitchell, who had 22 points in Game 7 but shot just 9-for-22 and also had nine turnovers, including one with less than 10 seconds remaining. “That’s always been the case. It’s a character thing to come back the way we did. We’re ready to compete through anything. For myself … I can’t lie to you, I was surprised by certain little things that I’ve done and accomplished. But it’s nothing I haven’t worked on. There were criticisms of what I could do on the offensive and defensive end, and I feel like I’ve taken a step in the right direction.
“This isn’t the last of it. This is me scratching the surface. I know what I can do, how hard I’ve worked, how hard this team has worked. This won’t be the end of it. That’s what’s fueling me. This ain’t the end. This is just the beginning. I’m ready to go hoop again right now. I think we all are. This is just the beginning.”
It was fitting that the Jazz’s season ended in a Game 7 that came down the absolute last second. The final sequence saw Nuggets guard Gary Harris poke the ball away from Mitchell with 8.4 seconds left, only for Denver’s Torrey Craig to miss a potential game-clinching layup at the other end, allowing Jazz guard Mike Conley one last shot to win the series — only for his 3-point attempt to go halfway down before rimming out.
As it did, Mitchell — who became one of four players to score at least 50 points twice in a playoff series, along with Michael Jordan, Allen Iverson and Denver’s Jamal Murray, who also did so in this series — collapsed in a heap on the court.
“To be honest, I [was] in shock,” Mitchell said with a shake of his head, describing what he was going through in that moment. “That was it. You work so hard to get to a point that we got to, and we were this close. We were down, we came back, and fought and clawed, and to be that close … that hurt.
“I didn’t know what else to do. I was exhausted. I just kinda laid there … that s— sucks. This will be on my mind for a long time.”
It has been an exhausting several months for Utah, going all the way back to that March night in Oklahoma City when the NBA universe came grinding to a halt after Rudy Gobert tested positive for COVID-19. Mitchell did too, a short time later, and by the end of the evening, the NBA season had been suspended.
Since then, so much has happened, including the NBA restarting its season inside the league’s bubble at the Walt Disney World Resort and that resumption almost coming to an end last week when the players chose not to compete in the wake of the police shooting of 29-year-old Jacob Blake in Kenosha, Wisconsin.
Mitchell said he was happy with how he has been able to use his platform to push for the change he wants to see in the world. He also said he hopes that as the playoffs continue, the NBA — and the players who are still playing inside the bubble — will continue to do the same.
“The biggest thing is continuing to push and use your voice,” he said. “At the end of the day, we came down here for a reason. Obviously, to win a championship, but also to continue the message. We stopped playing and continued to play because we wanted to continue to preach our message. I’m very happy with the way things went as far as being able to come back on the floor and us and the NBA and owners agreeing on certain things. I hope as these playoffs and everyone watches we continue to push for what is really needed in this world, man.
“I feel like I’ve used my voice in the best way possible, and I’m going to continue to use my voice back home. I implore everyone here — they’ve been doing a great job — to continue to push. The more these games escalate and get closer to the Finals, I hope guys continue to use their voice, because people are listening and things are starting to turn, and we have to keep going.”
The Jazz, though, had plenty of their own internal issues to deal with, including not only Gobert and Mitchell testing positive for the coronavirus but also second-leading scorer Bojan Bogdanovic missing the bubble entirely because of wrist surgery.
Still, Utah arguably should have won this series, having blown leads in both Games 1 and 5, and with Game 7 not being decided until the final buzzer sounded.
All of that, coupled with everything Utah went through to get to this point, made the loss all the more difficult for everyone involved to accept.
“This game tonight was one of the toughest losses that I’ve been involved with,” Jazz coach Quin Snyder said. “We’ve gone many levels [with] what this team has been through since we were in Oklahoma City and the season was stopped. What we went through over a period of months, to have this group come back together here in Orlando, and just to see the competitiveness, the unselfishness, a team that really came together and grew, and I wish we would have had a chance to keep playing. I think that’s the thing that hurts the most right now.”
The hurt was etched all over Mitchell’s face postgame, after his late turnover helped cost Utah a chance to at least send the game to overtime, if not win it. It was an unfortunate ending to a wonderful series for him, personally, but it also just became one of many things for Mitchell to think about that could have gone differently and allowed the Jazz to move on to face the LA Clippers in the second round.
“We shouldn’t have even been in this situation,” Mitchell said. “That’s where a lot of the emotions come from. There are so many things we can go to as a unit. I think that’s what hurts the most. We can go to my 8-second violation in Game 1, we can go to blowing a 15-point lead in Game 5, we can go to not matching their level in Game 6 … but yeah. There’s so many things I feel like we could’ve did, and we didn’t. I think that’s where the hurt really comes.
“I just didn’t think we should be in Game 7. We had multiple opportunities to put them away, and they capitalized, and they are experienced, they have played in Game 7s and times like this, and I have to give them credit. But there’s certain things that you look back on and we could’ve definitely capitalized to not be in this position. But we’ll fix it.”
Still, Mitchell said the growth the team showed internally from where it was back in the spring was something to be proud of.
“We went from being an unsalvageable team about three months ago to this,” Mitchell said. “And I don’t think anybody outside of us expected that.”
Gobert, meanwhile, was immense for the Jazz in Game 7, finishing with 19 points, 18 rebounds and 2 blocked shots in 39 minutes. He said he was thankful that his teammates stood by him after all that’s happened over the past several months and declared that this is just one stop on Utah’s path to winning a championship.
“A lot of adversity, not just for me, but all of us,” Gobert said, when asked what the past six months have been like for him. “As a team, for the world too. It’s been an interesting few months. I’m proud of the way we handled it as a team, as human beings.
“A few months ago, I wasn’t in the right space mentally to go out and play with my team, but we found a way to make it happen. To have my teammates’ support through the last few months since the bubble and everything that happened really lifted me up.”
“I gave everything I could for this team,” Gobert explained. “We came up short, but I have no doubt we are going to win a championship.”
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As any casual observer of the game in the USA would observe, the NBA and WNBA feature some of the world’s premier black African American Athletes. It would appear that the latest shooting of Jacob Blake in Kenosha, Wisconsin has galvanised the world of Basketball to protest in the strongest manner available to them. Commentators such as Kenny Smith joined them in the walkout and Strike action is the strongest signal yet that many consider enough is enough. Here is a full report from the Associated Press today, 27.08.2020.
Strike: NBA playoff games called off amid player protest
Officials stand beside an empty court before the scheduled start of an NBA basketball first round playoff game between the Milwaukee Bucks and the Orlando Magic, Wednesday, Aug. 26, 2020, in Lake Buena Vista, Fla.
LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla. — Making their strongest statement yet in the fight against racial injustice, players from six NBA teams decided not to play postseason games on Wednesday in a boycott that quickly reverberated across other professional leagues.
Also called off: Some games in Major League Baseball, Major League Soccer and the three WNBA contests, as players across four leagues decided the best way to use their platform and demand change was to literally step off the playing surface.
Players made the extraordinary decisions to protest the shooting by police in Kenosha, Wisconsin on Sunday of Jacob Blake, a Black man, apparently in the back while three of his children looked on.
Kenosha is about 40 miles south of Milwaukee. That city’s NBA team, the Bucks, started the boycotts Wednesday by refusing to emerge from their locker room to play a playoff game against the Orlando Magic.
“There has been no action, so our focus today cannot be on basketball,” said Bucks guard Sterling Brown, who joined teammate George Hill in reading a statement on the team’s behalf. Brown has a federal lawsuit pending against the city of Milwaukee alleging he was targeted because he was Black and that his civil rights were violated in January 2018 when officers used a stun gun on him after a parking violation.
Other games that were not played: NBA playoff games between Oklahoma City and Houston, and the Los Angeles Lakers and Portland along with three WNBA games, three MLB games and five MLS matches. Two members of the St. Louis Cardinals sat out their team’s game with the Kansas City Royals as well.
The NBA’s board of governors have called a meeting on Thursday to discuss the new developments, said a person with knowledge of the situation. The person spoke to The Associated Press on condition of anonymity because the meeting plan was not revealed publicly.
“The baseless shootings of Jacob Blake and other black men and women by law enforcement underscores the need for action,” the NBA Coaches Association said in a statement. “Not after the playoffs, not in the future, but now.”
The statement by the Bucks also called for state lawmakers to reconvene and take immediate action “to address issues of police accountability, brutality, and criminal justice reform.”
“I couldn’t agree more. Thank you, Bucks,” Wisconsin Gov. Tony Evers tweeted.
The NBA did not say when Wednesday’s games would be played or if Thursday’s schedule of three more games involving six other teams would be affected. NBA players and coaches met for nearly three hours Wednesday night to determine next steps, including whether the season should continue. They did not come to a consensus, a person with knowledge of the meeting told AP.
“We fully support our players and the decision they made,” Bucks owners Marc Lasry, Wes Edens and Jamie Dinan said in a joint statement after Milwaukee players decided to not take the floor. “Although we did not know beforehand, we would have wholeheartedly agreed with them. The only way to bring about change is to shine a light on the racial injustices that are happening in front of us.”
Added Jeanie Buss, the Governor of the Lakers, in a tweet: “I stand behind our players, today and always. After more than 400 years of cruelty, racism and injustice, we all need to work together to say enough is enough.”
Several NBA players, including the Lakers’ LeBron James, tweeted out messages demanding change. Some teams did the same.
“We weren’t given advanced notice about the decision but we are happy to stand in solidarity with Milwaukee, Jacob, and the entire NBA community,” Orlando guard Michael Carter-Williams said. “Change is coming.”
Magic players and referees were on the court as if the game was happening, unaware that Milwaukee did not intend to take the floor. The National Basketball Referees Association said it “stands in solidarity” with the players.
“Players have, once again, made it clear — they will not be silent on this issue,” National Basketball Players Association Executive Director Michele Roberts said. The NBPA is expected to be part of Thursday’s meeting with the board of governors.
Demanding societal change and ending racial injustice has been a major part of the NBA’s restart at Walt Disney World. The phrase “Black Lives Matter” is painted on the arena courts, players are wearing messages urging change on their jerseys and coaches are donning pins demanding racial justice as well.
Many players wrestled for weeks about whether it was even right to play, fearing that a return to games would take attention off the deaths of, among others, Breonna Taylor and George Floyd in recent months.
Taylor, a 26-year-old Black woman, was fatally shot when police officers burst into her Louisville, Kentucky apartment using a no-knock warrant during a narcotics investigation on March 13. The warrant was in connection with a suspect who did not live there and no drugs were found. Then on May 25, Floyd died after a white Minneapolis police officer pressed a knee into the Black man’s neck for nearly eight minutes — all captured on a cell phone video.
Hill said after Blake’s shooting that he felt players shouldn’t have come to Disney.
“We’re the ones getting killed,” Los Angeles Clippers coach Doc Rivers, who is Black, said in an emotional speech Tuesday night. “We’re the ones getting shot. We’re the ones that we’re denied to live in certain communities. We’ve been hung. We’ve been shot. And all you do is keep hearing about fear. It’s amazing why we keep loving this country and this country does not love us back. And it’s just, it’s really so sad.”
Players from Boston and Toronto met Tuesday to discuss boycotting Game 1 of their Eastern Conference semifinal series, which had been scheduled for Thursday. NBPA officers were part of those meetings, and Miami forward Andre Iguodala — one of those officers— said around 2:15 p.m. that he did not believe a boycott plan had been finalized.
Things apparently moved quickly: Less than two hours later, the Bucks wouldn’t take the floor.
“When you talk about boycotting a game, everyone’s antenna goes up,” Iguodala said. “It’s sad you have to make threats like that — I wouldn’t say threats — but you have to be willing to sacrifice corporate money for people to realize there’s a big problem out there.”
Professional sports has seen both strikes and lockouts in the past, almost always over salary disputes. But this wouldn’t seem to classify as a strike, even though it was initiated by players, since their dispute is not with the NBA. Boycott, meanwhile, is defined as the act of refusing to engage in an action, usually to express disapproval with some condition.