Boston’s rebounding woes are nothing new; but are they fixable?



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WALTHAM, Mass. — During one of his pregame radio interviews in early February, Boston Celtics Jerseys coach Brad Stevens was informed that his team was no longer in last place in the NBA in defensive rebound percentage.

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“We’re not? Did a team drop out of the league?” Stevens deadpanned.

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The Celtics entered the 2016-17 season with the smallest roster in the league. Routinely quizzed on how Boston could overcome the rebounding deficiencies inherent from its lack of size, Stevens would joke that it was unlikely his team was going to endure a growth spurt so his players would simply have to put an increased priority on boxing out and hope guards could help clean up the glass.

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The Celtics finished the season ranked 27th in both defensive (75.3) and total rebound (48.5) percentages. For much of the season, 6-foot-2 guard Avery Bradley led Boston in rebounds per game before Al Horford overtook him late in the year. Even still, Horford’s 6.8 rebounds per game ranked 45th overall in the NBA.

All of that says that rebounding has been an issue for Boston throughout the season. And those struggles were back in the spotlight on Sunday night when the Chicago Bulls Jerseys turned 20 offensive rebounds into 23 second-chance points as part of a 106-102 Game 1 triumph at TD Garden.

The Celtics finished the night by grabbing just 54.5 percent of available defensive rebounds cheap jerseys, a jarringly low number considering the league average is more than 20 percent higher. Boston was actually far more competitive in the second half but still had instances where second-chance opportunities negated otherwise strong first-shot defensive stands.

When his team huddled to watch film on Monday afternoon at the team’s practice facility, Stevens implored his players to initiate contact when shots go up.

“You’re not going to get every defensive rebound, but you’ve got to hit first,” Stevens said. “And you can’t wait to make contact when [Robin] Lopez is running into the paint. If he’s at the charge circle, he’s winning that battle. The same thing if somebody’s running from the corner to get an offensive rebound. You can’t wait until they get into the paint to make contact. You’ve got to block out sooner than that.

“That doesn’t guarantee you’re gonna get it every time, but that gives you a better chance.”

The Celtics’ big men acknowledged that the team’s issues were rather obvious on film.

“There’s just stuff that we can clean up,” starting center Amir Johnson said. “Some guys were just caught staring, looking at the ball, instead of just hitting the body and going and getting it. It’s just all-out effort and you just gotta continue doing your job; the play never stops until a person gets the rebound. Once you do your job defensively, you get in your defensive coverages, and then the shot finally goes out wholesale nba jerseys, sometimes you just get caught staring at the shot like, ‘OK, I’ve done my job.’ But the job isn’t over until you actually get in front of your man and get the ball.

• Schedule | BPI odds | Forecast | Vote!
• The Grizz can’t stop Kawhi Leonard
&#8226 Winners, losers after opening weekend
• Portis plays game of his life for Bulls
• Isaiah plays through heartbreak
• Beverley leads Rockets in opener
• Beard’s Rockets takes first over Russ
• It’s Dray all day for Warriors’ opener
• “>LeBron’s all-time top playoff games
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“It’s a team effort. That’s a big key to winning that game. I thought our half-court defense was pretty good besides [the fact that] it seemed like, if they put up a shot and missed, they got the ball and put the ball back in the basket. Our cheap jerseys half-court defense was definitely up to par. We just gotta rebound.”

Not unlike most teams, the Celtics have pronounced splits in how they rebound in wins versus losses. During the regular season, Boston owned a defensive rebound rate of 76.6 percent in its 53 wins. It dipped to 72.8 percent in its 29 losses.

It’s prudent to remember that defensive rebound rate is not the primary indicator of team success. The Golden State Warriors Jerseys ranked 29th in the NBA in grabbing just 74.9 percent of available defensive rebounds and still won 67 games. Likewise, height isn’t necessarily an excuse for rebounding woes, as the Cleveland Cavaliers Jerseys were the second-shortest team to start the season and finished in the top 12 in defensive rebound percentage.

For Boston, rebounding comes down to effort and commitment. It’s a fairly good indicator of how engaged the Celtics are on a game-to-game basis. Maybe Chicago’s Jimmy Butler summed up rebounding best on Monday after gushing about how Lopez impacted Sunday’s Game 1 win.

“If you want to go get the ball, you’re going to go get the ball. Rebounding is 95 percent effort, 5 percent technique,” Butler said. “Same thing with the defensive part. If you want to do it, you’re gonna do it. If you don’t, you won’t.”

The Celtics must come out committed to rebounding on Tuesday night. The Bulls, post-All-Star break (and post-Taj Gibson trade), ranked in the back half of the league in offensive rebound percentage. Boston isn’t going to get to every rebound, but giving up 16 first-half offensive rebounds, like the Celtics did on Sunday, cannot happen again.

Simply being competitive on the glass is clearly important against the Bulls. In Chicago’s three head-to-head wins over Boston this season, including Sunday, the Bulls outrebounded the Celtics by 17, 19 and 20 overall rebounds, respectively.

Boston absolutely has other issues to address moving forward in this series, especially the question of who will step up when Isaiah Thomas is on the bench (the Celtics were outscored 27-11 without Thomas on Sunday). The Celtics must strive to avoid foul trouble, especially at the wing positions, in order to aggressively defend Butler throughout the game.

Rebounding will be the area most eyes are watching, however. The Celtics knew entering the series that they had to be competitive on the glass and were reminded of that on Sunday.

“[Rebounding] was the game. That’s the game. That’s the series,” Crowder said. “If we don’t rebound, we don’t win the series. It’s simple.”

Stephen Curry explains why he’s locked in but logged off



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OAKLAND, Calif. — With the NBA postseason underway, Golden State Warriors Jerseys All-Star point guard Stephen Curry told ESPN he has curtailed his social-media usage.

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Indeed, to further assist in avoiding “”unnecessary distractions,”” the two-time MVP says he deleted every social media application from his phone before Game 1 of the first-round series against the Portland cheap jerseys Trail Blazers Jerseys.

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We’ve got you covered all the way to the Finals with the latest news, schedules, analysis and more. 2017 NBA Playoffs »

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• Schedule | BPI odds | Forecast | Vote!
• Who believed in Bulls? The Bulls
• Clippers turn on power in Game 2
&#8226 Winners, losers after weekend
• Cavs Big 3 rules Game 2 win
• McCollum, Lillard seek to even score
• Grit, grind and center who shoots 3s
• “”>LeBron’s all-time top playoff games
• Upsets? Series that could surprise
• Experts’ first-round picks: East | West

“When you’re really trying to zone in and keep your focus, you don’t want to have any unnecessary distractions during this point of the season,” Curry told ESPN. “We have goals to accomplish, and you want to make sure you’re giving your all.”

Curry said this is the third consecutive year he has taken this approach cheap jerseys. It’s a routine he’s never disclosed before.

Cleveland Cavaliers Jerseys All-Star forward LeBron James is known for activating what he calls “Zero Dark Thirty-23” before postseason play. The Warriors point guard says he didn’t get the idea from James.

“I didn’t do it because he did it. I’m not reinventing the wheel,” Curry told ESPN. “It’s just a way to help me keep my focus on what’s important.”

James removes himself from the social media sphere entirely, refraining from tweeting and posting pictures. Curry goes about his social media ban a little differently. Moments before each game, Curry typically tweets out “Lock in #DubNation.” He didn’t do that on Sunday. He said he’ll occasionally send out a tweet or a picture, but he won’t log into his accounts to do so.

“I have a way of sending out messages without getting into my accounts,” Curry revealed wholesale basketball jerseys. “That way, I’m not seeing or reading something I’m trying to avoid.”

Curry registered 29 points, five rebounds and four assists in Sunday’s 121-109 victory, leading his team to a 1-0 series lead. Going without social media has apparently paid dividends.

“It’s worked for me so far,” Curry said. “I’m going to stay with it.”

Cavaliers hold off late Pacers rally to win Game 2, take 2-0 series lead



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CLEVELAND — LeBron James said that the Cleveland Cavaliers Jerseys’ meager one-point margin of victory in Game 1 didn’t bother him, so long as the Cavs got the win.

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That said, he saw his team build a big lead again, only for the Pacers to get as close as a two-possession game in Monday’s 117-111 win, which put the Cavs up 2-0 over the Indiana Pacers Jerseys.

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If Pacers superstar Paul George was upset with CJ Miles for taking the potential game-winner from him Saturday, you have to wonder how he felt about Lance Stephenson falling into the foil role Cleveland needed to wake up and play inspired ball, leading to a 19-point Cavaliers lead.

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The Cavs’ masterful third quarter, in which they outscored the Pacers 33-20, really got going when Stephenson was matched with Kevin Love. Cleveland’s All-Star forward took it to Indiana’s wild card.

The third ended with Kyrie Irving tossing in a 3-pointer over Stephenson and jawing at him to punctuate the play he made before heading back to the Cavs’ bench for the quarter break.

When Irving wasn’t scoring on Stephenson, he was unleashing on Jeff Teague much the same way he did each of the last two postseasons when Teague played for the Atlanta Hawks Jerseys.

Irving led all scorers with 37 points. Love was right behind him with 27 points on an exceptionally efficient 6-of-7 shooting and 11 rebounds. James was solid despite a game-high eight turnovers, contributing 25 points cheap jerseys, 10 rebounds and seven assists. James’ teams had previously been 0-3 in the playoffs when he had at least nine turnovers, according to ESPN Stats & Information.

This is the first time that Love, Irving & James have all scored 25 points in the same playoff game. The Cavaliers are now 7-0 when the trio score at least 20 cheap jerseys points each in the postseason.

We’ve got you covered all the way to the Finals with the latest news, schedules, analysis and more. 2017 NBA Playoffs »

• Schedule | BPI odds | Forecast | Vote!
• Winners, losers after opening weekend
• Portis plays game of his life for Bulls
• Isaiah plays through heartbreak
• Beverley leads Rockets in opener
• Beard’s Rockets takes first over Russ
• It’s Dray all day for Warriors’ opener
• “”>LeBron’s all-time top playoff games
• Upsets? Series that could surprise
• Experts’ first-round picks: East | West

Paul George had 32 points to pace Indiana once again, with 14 coming in a 4th quarter that saw the Pacers outscore the Cavs 33-21 and get as close as a four-point deficit with 19.5 seconds left to play.

The Cavs made their move to take charge earlier than they did in Game 1, using an 11-0 run from the end of the first quarter through the start of the second quarter to seemingly grab control. Cleveland went 5-for-8 during the spurt while Indiana was 0-for-4 with two turnovers.

However, it was the Cavs’ turnovers that allowed the Pacers to stick around, cutting a 13-point Cleveland lead down to five. After coughing it up 11 times in Game 1, leading to 19 points for Indiana, the Cavs had 11 turnovers in the first half alone Monday and the Pacers scored 14 points off them. James was the biggest culprit, losing the ball six times to mar an otherwise brilliant 17 points on 7-for-10 shooting, five rebounds and five assists in the first half. Overall, Indiana outscored Cleveland 24-17 on points off turnovers

Iman Shumpert saw his first action of the series starting the second half in place of J.R. Smith, who left the game at halftime with a left hamstring injury. Shumpert quickly made his presence felt, guarding George on one end and hitting a 3 on another to cap a 7-0 run to start the third quarter that put the Cavs back up by 12.

Check out the team site for more game coverage

Check out the team site for more game coverage

Later Shumpert poked the ball away from George and dove to the floor for the loose ball, causing a jump ball to be called. Tristan Thompson approached Shumpert to celebrate his defensive gusto while the guard flexed his biceps to the delight of the crowd wholesale nba jerseys.

The Cavs’ offense was exemplary, shooting 60.3 percent through three quarters and 55.3 percent for the game. Their defense still has some kinks to work out, as the Pacers shot 51.2 percent overall and 8-for-20 (40.0 percent) from 3.

It’s not like the effort wasn’t there on the defensive end. Twice Love set up to take a charge and appeared to have position – first on George and later on Teague – and both times a blocking foul was called on Love. James was called for a technical foul for expressing his displeasure in the second call that went against Love to the refs.

He eventually got one to go his way, drawing a charge on the 6-9, 285-pound Kevin Seraphin in the third quarter – a third quarter that belonged to Love. He scored 10 in the period, including going right at Stephenson in consecutive sequences when being matched with the 6-5 swingman in the post.

Game 3 is Thursday in Indiana.

Bulls’ belief in themselves paid dividends in Boston



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BOSTON — Jimmy Butler always believed in the possibilities.

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As the Chicago Bulls Jerseys meandered through one of the most up-and-down seasons in recent memory, Butler quietly held to the belief that all his team cheap jerseys had to do was get to the postseason and they could start anew. He didn’t care that the Bulls continued losing to some of the worst teams in the league during the last week of the regular season, the All-Star swingman was buoyed by the feeling that with him leading the way, and playoff-tested veterans Rajon Rondo and Dwyane Wade flanking him on each side, the Bulls had a legitimate chance to do some damage in the postseason.

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After watching the Bulls dominate the Boston Celtics Jerseys throughout long stretches of a 111-97 Game 2 Eastern Conference playoff victory on Tuesday night, Butler is proving to be correct in his assessment.

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The Bulls’ Dwyane Wade rebounded from a poor shooting performance in Game 1 with a 22-point effort on Tuesday night. Greg M. Cooper-USA TODAY Sports

“”I’m not surprised because everybody’s so locked in right now,”” Butler said after scoring 22 points, grabbing eight rebounds and dishing out eight assists. “”Everybody’s putting in extra work right now, watching film, working on their game, and that’s where your confidence always comes from. We’ve got some great field generals out there in these two guys to help out and these younger guys, and to make sure they’re playing hard at both ends of the floor.””

The Bulls have looked nothing like the eighth-best team in the East, a seed they earned after backing into the postseason with a lackluster 41-41 record. They’ve simply outplayed the top-seeded Celtics throughout most of the first two games of this series cheap nba jerseys. Each time a frazzled Boston team tries to make a run, the Bulls have an answer.

“”You play the 82 games to learn a little bit about yourself,”” Wade said. “”And one thing I learned about this team is through adverse situations, this team sticks together. We had adversity as every team has, and that’s the thing that’s made us closer and stronger together. The credit for this team sticking together through injuries, through everything, putting ourselves in a position to make the playoffs, it goes to everyone, from the coaching staff, to the leaders, to the young guys — everyone did it together.””

We’ve got you covered all the way to the Finals with the latest news, schedules, analysis and more. 2017 NBA Playoffs »

• Schedule | BPI odds | Forecast | Vote!
• The Grizz can’t stop Kawhi Leonard
&#8226 Winners, losers after opening weekend
• Cavs Big 3 rules Game 2 win
• McCollum, Lillard seek to even score
• Grit, grind and center who shoots 3s
• “”>LeBron’s all-time top playoff games
• Upsets? Series that could surprise
• Experts’ first-round picks: East | West

To put the Bulls’ performance in some historical context, there’s only been one other No. 8 seed in history that went on the road and won its first two games. That would be the 1992-93 Los Angeles Lakers Jerseys, who went into Phoenix and earned two victories, then proceeded to drop the final three games of the five-game series.

The Bulls don’t look like a team that is ready to fall back into bad habits, though. The reality is that despite what the seedings say, the Bulls simply look like the better team through the first two games. Wade bounced back after a poor Game 1 showing to score 22 points, while Rondo was an assist shy of a triple-double with 11 points, 14 assists and nine rebounds to go along with five steals wholesale jerseys. The Bulls are playing with a level of trust together on the floor that they haven’t shown consistently all season.

“”We had our backs against the wall in the couple weeks leading into the situation we’re in right now where we had to win,”” Bulls head coach Fred Hoiberg explained. “”And our guys did a good job of doing what had to be done to get us into the postseason. So, we’ve been playing high-pressure basketball for several weeks. I think that does help you when you come into playoff time.””

It has certainly seemed to help the Bulls’ role players as they get acclimated to the bright lights of the playoff stage. Two days after Bobby Portis played the game of his young career, scoring 19 points in Game 1, rookie Paul Zipser followed suit by coming out of seemingly nowhere to score 16 points. Combine this with the fact that Robin Lopez continued his steady play with 18 points and eight rebounds and the fact that the Bulls are playing some of their best defense of the season, and it’s easier to understand why they are feeling even more confident. If they can keep getting production from their younger players while Rondo, Wade and Lopez stabilize the starting unit, then Butler can do what he loves to do and take over the game late.

Check out the team site for more game coverage

Check out the team site for more game coverage

“”It’s really simple,”” Butler said. “”When I’m open, I normally shoot the ball. Sometimes when I’m not open, I also shoot the ball. But most of the time, I pass it to the open guy. And when they’re making shots, my job’s a lot easier. People can’t load up on me, and then on top of everything else, these two do a lot of that as well. When they’re attacking, they’re aggressive, they’re getting people involved as well. And getting stops. When we’re getting stops, we’re pretty tough.””

Now the Bulls head back to Chicago for what will surely be a raucous atmosphere in the United Center for Game 3 on Friday. In his 14-year career, Wade has never dropped a series in which his team had a 2-0 lead and the Bulls, led by Butler, Wade and Rondo, don’t expect to blemish that record.

“”You can’t be satisfied,”” Hoiberg said. “”You got to go home and keep playing. This is one of the better road teams in the league. We have to continue to go out and fight, continue to learn, continue to make adjustments and hopefully play well.””

Plans in place for Paul Pierce to retire as Celtic if he chooses to step away



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Los Angeles Clippers Jerseys coach Doc Rivers said his team has plans in place to allow Paul Pierce to retire as a member of the Boston Celtics Jerseys if Pierce elects to end his playing days this summer.

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During an appearance on The Vertical podcast, Rivers said he believes Pierce hasn’t made up his mind about his future.

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“If Paul decides to retire, then we’re going to make sure that Boston picks him up for one day and he retires cheap jerseys a Celtic, because that’s what he should retire as,” Rivers said during the podcast released Thursday. “So we have all that in place. We just don’t know what he’s going to do.”

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Added Rivers: “I think Paul’s going back and forth on it, and I want to give him room. I think he deserves it. From a team perspective, you would love that he made his decision eight weeks ago. I think there are certain guys that you just have to give time to, and Paul’s one of them.”

Paul Pierce said last month that he’s “50/50” on whether to continue playing or retire. AP Photo/Mark J. Terrill

Pierce, 38, played for Boston for 15 seasons before spending one season apiece with the Brooklyn Nets Jerseys, Washington Wizards Jerseys and Clippers. He was the NBA Finals MVP in 2008 and is the second-leading scorer in Celtics history, behind John Havlicek.

During an appearance on ESPN’s The Jump last month, Pierce admitted he’s “50/50” on whether to continue playing.

Kobe Bryant and Tim Duncan already retired this offseason, and Pierce and Kevin Garnett remain undecided on their futures. On The Vertical podcast wholesale nba jerseys, Rivers said, “It may go down as the greatest retirement summer in NBA history.”

Addressing unsubstantiated rumors that the Celtics and Clippers have talked about a deal involving Blake Griffin, Rivers smothered the suggestion.

“[Celtics president of basketball operations] Danny [Ainge] and I have talked twice this summer. One [call] was about the British Open, and one was about another golf tournament. That’s about it,” Rivers, who handles personnel decisions for the Clippers, told The Vertical podcast.

Added Rivers: “It’s funny, you don’t want to go out and send out a press release every time there’s a rumor about Blake. We are hoping that Blake ends his career playing for the Clippers. Period. So when teams call, we say we have no interest. First of all, no team’s calling right now because teams know we don’t have any interest.

“It just tells you the different times. Things have changed. Everyone believes that they’re media now. … There’s so many good, credible guys. And then there’s some of the guys who are bloggers who have nothing to do with the sport.

“I helped my young son trace where this started — the Blake rumor, the Boston rumor — let’s go there. … My son traced it to, I think, it was a Boston radio talk show. And the guy didn’t say that we had been talking, he said Blake would be one of the guys that the Celtics should go after. That started the next step, to the next step, to the next thing you know it blew up. And that stuff is tough.”

Melo can’t believe Dwyane Wade left Heat for Bulls



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CHICAGO — Like many people around the NBA, New York Knicks Jerseys superstar Carmelo Anthony couldn’t believe that Dwyane Wade actually decided to leave the Miami Heat Jerseys and sign with the Chicago Bulls Jerseys.

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“I was shocked,” Anthony said before Thursday’s Team USA practice at the United Center. “I was shocked more from a standpoint it was just hard to see. It’s hard to see some players in different uniforms and he’s one of those guys who I never thought I would see in a different uniform other than Miami. But it happened, and I got a chance to talk to him and sit down with him and really dig deep about his feelings and what happened. He’s at peace now. And when he’s at peace, I’m at peace with it.”

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Wade surprised many in the league by spurning the Heat to sign a two-year deal with the Bulls earlier this month. Anthony, who was wooed by the Bulls two summers ago but ultimately decided to re-sign with the Knicks cheap jerseys, acknowledged that the free-agency process can be mentally taxing for players.

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Carmelo Anthony, right, can’t believe that Dwyane Wade left the Heat. Adam Hunger/USA TODAY Sports

“I don’t think the masses really understand how difficult those decisions are,” Anthony said. “And what goes into those decisions. And as athletes what’s going through our mind during those decisions. A lot of people think we can just wake up and we can just make those decisions — it’s not that easy.”

Anthony’s comments come just a few weeks after two of the most successful Bulls in recent memory, Derrick Rose and Joakim Noah, landed in New York. Rose was dealt to the Knicks last month. Noah signed as a free agent.

“We love them,” Anthony said. “We love those additions. And we’re looking forward to getting the season going. And I think everybody is excited, the excitement is back. Right now there’s an adjustment on paper wholesale mlb jerseys, but of course we have some work to do putting it all together, making it work. But we’re going to ride the wave of this excitement right now.”

As for a rekindling of a rivalry between the Bulls and Knicks, Anthony said he knows that it’s possible with all the moves both teams have made.

“I know you guys want that,” Anthony said. “I know you’re living for that. But we embrace that. I think as players, as competitors, we embrace all of those challenges and rivalries, that’s what makes the sport great again, so we embrace that.”

Anthony seemed certain that when the schedule comes out, the Bulls and Knicks would be facing off against each other either on opening night or Christmas Day as one of the league’s premiere matchups.

“Oh, they’re waiting for that,” he said. “Might be opening night — one of the two. I guarantee you it’s one of the two.”

NBA – Players shocked by All-Star move out of Charlotte



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LAS VEGAS — Under NBA commissioner Adam Silver, the league has been forceful and proactive on social issues that were important to its players like gun violence, the Donald Sterling scandal and controversial police and legal cases with the African-American community.

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But relocating the All-Star Game from Charlotte in reaction to North Carolina’s controversial anti-lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender law is wholly uncharted territory for Silver, the NBA and a major professional sports league.

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This was Silver leading, not just responding to public calls from players and owners.

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If anything, many players seemed genuinely torn on whether moving the All-Star Game because of the controversial bill — which has been colloquially oversimplified as a “bathroom bill” — was worth the disappointment of losing the game for Charlotte.

Indiana Pacers Jerseys forward Paul George told ESPN on Thursday, “I’m huge on keeping your word. I’m not necessarily saying it’s bad for the NBA to move it. Charlotte is a growing city and the Hornets have picked that program up. It’s a shame … we’d take that away from them.”

But Silver felt strongly that the cheap NBA could not allow one of its signature public events to take place in a state where there are now no protections against discrimination for LGBT people at places such as restaurants, hotels or in taxis.

Silver explained during his annual news conference during the NBA Finals that “we as a league want to make sure there is an environment where the LGBT community feels protected down in North Carolina. At the same time, I think the bathroom issue discount nba jerseys, frankly, has become a little bit of a distraction. From the very beginning, that was not the core issue here. It was protection for the LGBT community in terms of economic rights, personal rights, and the bathroom bill became part of it.”

Many players expressed disappointment for Hornets owner Michael Jordan, who had been thrilled when Charlotte was chosen as host of the 2017 All-Star Game. AP Photo/Chuck Burton

Sources told ESPN’s Rachel Nichols that openly gay Golden State Warriors Jerseys president Rick Welts made an impassioned plea to the NBA’s owners at last week’s Board of Governors meeting to explain how discriminatory this particular law was to the LGBT community.

Still, the decision to relocate the game Thursday came as a shock to many NBA players.

Toronto Raptors Jerseys wholesale guard Kyle Lowry learned of the NBA’s decision when he got an alert on his cellphone before Team USA’s practice. “Oh wow, they moved it,” Lowry said, as he held his phone out to show Mavericks forward Harrison Barnes.

Barnes said he felt like it was important to choose the political causes that resonate personally with you, and not to jump into the fray on every controversial issue he was asked about.

“Now that we’re able to speak out on issues, there’s no real standard about what you have to say,” Barnes said. “I think you can talk about whatever is on your mind or in your heart. Other issues you can’t.

“I think you kind of lose some credibility if all of a sudden on social media, you may not know what you’re talking about but you’re just weighing in on everything.” –>

Knicks forward Carmelo Anthony told ESPN that the players “didn’t think it was going to get to this” and that he was disappointed for Hornets owner Michael Jordan and the city of Charlotte because the game was “definitely going to boost everything.”

Anthony, of course, has been one of the most vocal players in trying to raise awareness for the Black Lives Matter movement. In addition to the call to action he posted on Instagram and the speech he, Dwyane Wade, Chris Paul and LeBron James made at the ESPYs, Anthony has been organizing a meeting in Los Angeles on Monday to discuss sensitive racial and cultural issues.

Anthony has been warned by advisers that such a public forum could begin with good intentions but end with uncomfortable consequences once people begin speaking freely on emotional, controversial issues. He said Thursday he would press on with the conversation anyway. “I won’t listen to anybody that tells me I shouldn’t do this or shouldn’t do that,” Anthony said.

“Right now, the players and people have a very strong stance on what’s going on and what they believe in,” Anthony said of his activism in response to recent incidents between police officers and African-Americans. “The problem is, people don’t have answers. I think everybody is searching for answers. People are searching for what to do and how to do it. We’re not going to find answers overnight. It’s not going to happen. It’s following through with the message I have out there and continuing that conversation.”

This is the next step now that players have started to venture out from beyond the safety of hashtag activism on social media. And maybe that was the point of Silver’s decision to relocate the game Thursday without knowing he had a full buy-in from his players and owners. Take some time. Think, research, learn, then speak publicly if you feel compelled. Not everyone will agree. Not everyone will like what is said. But this door is wide open now, and there’s probably no closing it.

It’s the risk Silver assumed when he made the decision to relocate the All-Star Game. In the end, he decided to do it anyway, trusting that his players and owners will understand Silver’s decision to wade into social activism and say no to discrimination by pulling the 2017 All-Star Game out of Charlotte.

Kevin Durant declined comment when first asked by ESPN about the NBA’s decision after Team USA’s practice. He said he needed some time to think about it and study it.

During the next few hours, that’s what he did. One person close to the situation told him about Welts’ personal experiences as a gay man in the NBA. Durant read one of the many articles that have been written on Welts throughout the years.

After a few hours, he composed his thoughts on Twitter.

“I recognize this was a tough decision for the NBA but respect the choice,” Durant wrote. “Discrimination of any kind cannot be allowed.”

No more Mr. Nice Guy: Kevin Durant’s new role as NBA villain



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LAS VEGAS — The family vacation was planned months in advance. As soon as free agency was over, DeAndre Jordan was heading to a resort in Jamaica where — theoretically — he would put his phone in airplane mode, surround himself with family and friends, and all the noise would stop.

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That was the plan, anyway.

If you followed NBA free agency in the slightest last July, you know what actually happened. Three days after committing to the Dallas Mavericks Jerseys, Jordan had a stunning change of heart and returned to the Los Angeles Clippers Jerseys.

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In the time it took to fill out a customs form on the flight to Jamaica, Jordan became a villain in Dallas, an accidental hero in Los Angeles and the butt of jokes on late-night talk shows, social media and sports talk radio.

He tried to keep his phone off, but there was no escaping the fallout.

One day as he was sitting on the beach, he got a text from Kevin Durant. They’d been close since high school when Durant tried to persuade Jordan to attend the University of Texas with him. Jordan instead chose Texas A&M, so they drifted apart for a few years. Eventually they reconnected during summer workouts. And in the past few years, they’d grown much closer. So close, in fact, that the Mavericks hoped landing Jordan in free agency would give them an edge in the Durant sweepstakes the following summer.

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DeAndre Jordan, left, knows a thing or two about handling life as an NBA villain. Nathaniel S. Butler/NBAE via Getty Images

Durant said his message to Jordan was simple: “I just let him know, ‘Man, whatever you do. You’ve got people that love you.'”

It was the kind of thing you say to a friend to let him know you can’t make things better for him, but you’re still in his corner.

“I feel like the people who talked to me afterwards are my real friends,” Jordan said this week, after a training session with Team USA cheap jerseys. “The people who stopped texting me afterwards, the ones who said stuff like ‘we’re family and all that’ while I was deciding, that wasn’t real. I realize it was only a basketball decision for them.

“You find out who is really on your side. And Kevin was like, ‘Man, you can’t worry about what other people think. You’ve got to worry about you and what makes you happy.'”

Fast-forward a year and Durant is the one who spent his summer in the middle of a free-agency squall and made a stunning decision that brought withering criticism from fans, peers and media critics.

No, he didn’t commit to one team and then renege a few days later. But after eight years of telling the fans in Oklahoma City that he loved them and wanted to retire there, his departure for the Golden State Warriors Jerseys came as a cruel shock.

Had he misled them all those years? Did he fall out of love? Or was his love never that pure to begin with?

Durant felt all of it. If he’s being honest, knowing how much he was about to hurt the fans in Oklahoma City was one of the things that nearly held him back from following his gut and signing with the Warriors. For 48 hours after picking the Warriors, he said he stayed inside the house he’d rented in the Hamptons while receiving free-agent pitches wholesale jerseys from the Warriors, Celtics, Spurs, Clippers, Thunder and Heat.

“I didn’t leave my bed, because I was like, ‘Man, if I walk outside somebody might just try to hit me with their car or say anything negative to me,'” Durant said. “I just stayed in and tried to process it all. … It felt different.”

Very different.

“He played his heart out for that team. If they can’t respect that, if other players can’t respect it, that’s their decision.”

DeAndre Jordan, on Kevin Durant leaving Oklahoma City

Durant hasn’t been the boyish, backpack-wearing homegrown superstar most people first came to know him as for a while now. First he went through the “KD is not nice” phase where he was like a child star trying to break out of a wholesome, prepubescent box by releasing a song about being naughty (See: Selena Gomez, Britney Spears, Justin Bieber).

Then he started copping an occasional attitude at the media for perceived slights to him, his teammates or any player in the NBA who he thought was getting unfair treatment.

But there was always something about Durant’s defiance that felt a little forced. Like he was just pushing boundaries or asserting his independence from the nice-guy image that had gone way too far and escaped reality a long time ago.

He is nice. He’s just not the saint people projected him to be.

For example: Last fall he turned down a half-dozen requests for an ESPN The Magazine story. He’d decided to stay silent until he could explain his feelings about free agency on The Players’ Tribune. Fine. Totally his prerogative. He believed in the Tribune’s business model and message of player empowerment. I can respect that. But when we saw each other at Thunder media day, he came over to explain himself in person.

How many NBA superstars do that? Most tell an agent or publicist to deliver their bad news and never address it personally. And yet because we’d always had a good professional relationship, Durant felt compelled to explain himself in person. It was an incredibly self-aware, sensitive thing to do.

Editor’s PicksWhy Kevin Durant stayed in bed after choosing to leave OKC

At Team USA camp in Las Vegas, new Golden State Warriors Jerseys star Kevin Durant talked about his initial reaction of staying in bed for a few days and finally facing his decision.

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That’s just a small example without much consequence. So how in the world was he going to handle breaking the hearts of a city that loved him? Of going from hero to villain? Of being criticized by Hall of Famers like Reggie Miller and Charles Barkley for taking an easier path to a championship?

This week in Las Vegas has been Durant’s first taste of life as a heartbreaker, and it appears he’s only allowing himself to feel it in doses.

The full weight of the fallout is too much to process all at once.

“I just try to be the man in the arena,” Durant said. “It’s easy for the critics on the outside to tell you what to do or what decisions to make, but they weren’t just out here with me, putting in work.

“I can’t really worry about the outside noise. I have to go to work. The work don’t stop. The love of the game doesn’t fade. Everything stays the same no matter where I play.”

This has become one of Durant’s refrains. A self-affirmation of sorts.

Some players would get off on being disliked — whether the sentiment is real or just a projection — and use it as motivation. But that’s not Durant’s nature.

“Guys like Kobe [Bryant] thrive on it,” said Syracuse coach Jim Boeheim, a longtime Team USA assistant. “I don’t think Kevin will thrive on it. But I do think he will immerse himself into the [Warriors] team.”

Another key difference?

“When you come into town as the villain like Kobe, everybody’s focused on him because he was the best player. But when Golden State comes in, they’re not going to just focus on one guy,” Boeheim said.

That was clearly part of the appeal to joining the Warriors. After years of being the face of his franchise, with the hopes and dreams of a city all on his shoulders, Durant was drawn to the idea of being just one of the guys.

That’s part of what he said he’s always loved about Team USA and what helped him this week as he adjusts to this new reality.

This uncomfortable period may be good for Durant in the end. Making a decision he knew would be unpopular? Maybe that’s the personal evolution and growth he needs. Maybe it won’t be. In hindsight, Jordan said that he’s found the entire process to be clarifying.

“It definitely makes you tougher,” Jordan said. “I still joke around like a little kid, but I don’t get as mad as I used to about things, I don’t let stuff affect me like I used to, because I’ve gone through that crap.”

He hopes it’ll be that way for Durant as well.

“When I found out he was going to the Warriors, I texted him, ‘Man, I’m happy for you. This is going to be big. I can’t wait to kick y’all’s ass,'” Jordan said.

“I’m happy for him. He gave those guys [in Oklahoma City] nine great years of MVP-level basketball, a Finals appearance. He played his heart out for that team. If they can’t respect that, if other players can’t respect it, that’s their decision. At the end of the day, he’s happy and that’s the only person he has to satisfy.”

Durant was sitting one seat away from Jordan as they each spoke after practice on the third day of Team USA training camp. There was plenty of room on either side of them. But the two old friends seemed more comfortable crowding each other’s personal space.

If things were destined to be uncomfortable going forward, they had might as well lean on each other.

Hornets owner Felix Sabates blasts NBA, Charlotte

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After the NBA moved the 2017 All-Star Game from Charlotte, North Carolina, because of the league’s objection to the state’s House Bill 2, the league issued a statement supporting the Hornets. However, one of the team’s owners is not ready to praise the decision.

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Hornets co-owner Felix Sabates sent an email to the team’s ownership grouping after the NBA’s announcement blasting the league and the Charlotte City Council.

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“Shame on those responsible for such a short sighted decision to take the NBA All Star away from Charlotte I always thought this was country that ALL peoples not just a few can determine our future,” he wrote in the email that was obtained by the Charlotte Observer.

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Sabates’ criticism comes after the Hornets and chairman Michael Jordan issued a statement on Thursday saying “we understand the NBA’s decision” and are “pleased that the NBA opened the door for Charlotte to host All-Star Weekend again as soon as an opportunity was available in 2019.” The NBA also weighed in defending the team and the city:

“It is also important to stress that the City of Charlotte and the Hornets organization have sought to provide an inclusive environment and that the Hornets will continue to ensure that all patrons — including members of the LGBT community — feel welcome while attending games and events in their arena,” the league said.

Michael Jordan and the Hornets issued a statement cheap jerseys supporting the league, but not all of the ownership team is onboard. Grant Halverson/Getty Images

HB2 reversed a Charlotte ordinance that added gay and transgender people to the list of classes of people protected against discrimination in the city.

“Our Mayor opened a can of worms, who knows why?” Sabates wrote. “One Our city council is the one to blame for our losing the NBA All Star game, none of this would have happened if not for a very few minority forcing our supposed city leaders into creating a problem that never really existed, there will always be another election, they better pray a very few can get them re-elected.

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“What is wrong with a person using a bathroom provided for the sex the (sic) were born with, if you want to change your gender so be it, we are a free county, but don’t force 8 years old children to be exposed to having to share bathroom facilities with people that don’t share the organs they were Bourne (sic) with, this is plain wrong, this could cause irreparable damages to a children’s that don’t understand why wholesale jerseys they have to see what God did not mean for them to witness, we have some very confused business as well as political humans that frankly have made this a political issue rather then (sic) moral issues, SHAME ON THEM.”

Mavs increase value of Dirk Nowitzki’s two-year deal

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The Dallas Mavericks Jerseys and face of the franchise Dirk Nowitzki have finalized their expected new deal with another bump in pay that sets up the star forward to earn $50 million over the next two seasons and play until age 40, league sources told ESPN.

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Sources said Friday that the Mavericks have tacked an additional $10 million onto the original two-year, $40 million contract that the sides, as ESPN first reported, agreed to earlier this month.

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The new pact, sources say, calls for Nowitzki to earn $25 million in each of the next two seasons, though he has said repeatedly that he will decide about playing beyond 2016-17 after gauging how he feels at season’s end.

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The second year of the contract, sources say, is fully guaranteed for $5 million of the $25 million at the Mavericks’ option, although any decision about Nowitzki’s playing future is expected to be made in conjunction with owner Mark Cuban, given the long-standing and close bond the two share.

“Dirk gets to do what Dirk wants,” Cuban said in June during a public appearance. “Period. End of story. … Dirk’s done so much for this franchise, he’s earned that opportunity.”

The significant spike in pay comes after the future Hall of Famer played on an ultra-steep discount for the past two seasons in which he earned $8 million-plus annually.

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Nowitzki’s previous contract was a three-year cheap jerseys, $25 million deal, which represented a hometown discount intended to provide the Mavericks with the salary-cap flexibility needed to construct a contender during his twilight years. The Mavs, however, missed on multiple free-agent targets and have failed to advance past the first round since their 2011 title run, although Nowitzki led them in scoring again this past season.

Dallas rallied from two early disappointments in free agency this summer and used its substantial salary-cap space to make some promising pickups. After being spurned by Miami’s Hassan Whiteside and Memphis’ Mike Conley, Dallas capitalized on the sudden availability of Harrison Barnes and Andrew Bogut in Golden State — in the wake of the Warriors’ success in the Kevin Durant sweepstakes — to agree on a four-year, $94.4 million max deal to sign Barnes and a trade to acquire Bogut.

In his 18-year career, Nowitzki has won an MVP award in both the regular season (2007) and NBA Finals (2011) to go with his 13 All-Star selections. With 29,491 career points, Nowitzki is also on pace to surpass Wilt Chamberlain and move into the top five on the league’s all-time scoring list during the 2017-18 season, as long as he avoids significant injury.

Nowitzki has acknowledged in the past that wholesale nba jerseys his decision to stay in Dallas would be much more difficult if the Mavs hadn’t broken through to win their first title in 2011. If he ends up playing two more seasons, Nowitzki would join Kobe Bryant as the only players in league history to spend an entire two-decade career with a single franchise.

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