At an adidas event in New Orleans, dozens of the best college, high school, and international players gathered for four days of spirited play. Jonathan Givony of DraftExpress was shocked to see that, even though many of these players are tough to see in person, most NBA teams weren't there watching: "While somewhere around 10 teams were represented on the second day of the event, that number dwindled down to 5 on the last evening, from what we could tell. The Detroit Pistons, New Jersey Nets, Washington Wizards, Toronto Raptors and Chicago Bulls were the only teams (again, from what we could tell in the very small gyms) who took in the very important displays put on by otherwise hard to reach prospects such as Serge Ibaka, Seidou N'joya, Miguel Lorenzo, Eabubakar Zaki and others. Jack Mai of the Sacramento Kings coached the Asian Pacific team, so he got his fill too obviously. Regardless, it seemed strange to say the least to note the apathy of the highest level NBA decision makers (re: the GMs) who will have tough choices to make in a year or two regarding whether to draft some of the players in attendance herebut were not present to evaluate them. Since NBA people are banned from watching high school players except for a few select events like these, theres a case to be made that they might have been well served to check the progress on top-level prospects such as Jrue Holiday, B.J. Mullens, Lance Stephenson and others as well. And we're ignoring the fact that as many as 6-7 lottery picks (besides Ibaka) are playing here as college counselors. But who are we to criticize?"
Chris Webber sounds really honest when he says he loves talking to kids.
Blazer fans, brace yourself for life with actual expectations.
In case there is not nearly enough NBA in your life.
SI.com's Chris Ekstrand tells us about Juan Carlos Navarro: "Navarro, one of the best pure shooters in the world, possesses nearly limitless range and has had many glorious performances in Barcelona's uniform, including ACB championships in 2001, 2003 and 2004 and the Euroleague title in 2003. In recent years, the slick guard has taken a leadership role on a younger team, leading the ACB in scoring this past season with 17.3 points per game. (Note: the ACB plays 40-minute games.) He shot 44.6 percent from three-point range and led the league with 2.52 three-pointers made per game. He also shot 88 percent from the free throw line. Navarro guided Barcelona to the ACB Finals this year, where the team lost to Real Madrid. Navarro would be a valuable addition to any NBA team, but he might be most valuable to the Grizzlies. The chemistry between the two close friends that has developed over a decade of playing together for Spain's national team cannot be duplicated by American players, even those who were four-year college teammates. When Gasol gets double-teamed in the post when he's playing for Spain, he whips the ball out to the perimeter with barely a glance, seemingly possessing a sixth sense about where Navarro will be spotted up, waiting for his pass."
Now it's time for Kevin McHale and Glen Taylor to prove themselves? What about every other year they have been running the show? I'd argue the pressure is off for a moment -- they're not supposed to be good, and they're loaded up with young talent. And if McHale gets fired anytime soon, I can't imagine it'll be because of what happens this season.
Steve Nash discovers it's hard to find a good pickup soccer game in the park when everyone involved is famous and the media is in tow. I love the fact that Nash lives in Manhattan in the summers, by the way. It's nasty hot, and intense, but there's a hell of a lot going on.
Maurice Evans talks to the Lakers Blog about his trip to Kenya with Feed the Children and the NBA Players Association: "We went to the Ray of Hope Clinic, and that's where the player's union actually donated money on behalf of all the NBA players. They have these people who have AIDS. And they also help out children, help these people out. I noticed there was a kid standing there who didn't have any shoes on. And he was right in this area called "the slump." "Slump" meaning exactly what it sounds like. Like "slump, that's terrible." And he was walking around barefoot. There's glass. There's rocks. It's hard walking there with shoes on, let alone without. I could see that he was cut all over his foot. I had a little bit of money with me, something like 250 bucks. I see this guy, a vendor, he's selling shoes. I just took the little kid over, tried to get him a pair of shoes. And it wasn't like they were Jordans. They were just like some shoes. Some leather shoes. We took him over to get those shoes and then the next thing you know, here comes another kid who didn't have shoes. And then another kid and another kid. Before too long, there was a super-long line of kids, and they were realizing that they were going to get a pair shoes if they got in line before the money ran out. I felt so bad that I didn't have more money, you know what I'm saying? You just feel how much of a difference something just small like that will make in their life.
A must-read recap of the Jermaine O'Neal affair, in which he may or may not have said this or that and is certainly mad about it now.
UPDATE: Remember Charles Smith? The former Knick, Spur, and Clipper? Like a lot of NBA players, he thought it would be cool to have a foundation that did nice things for children. But now that charity has become a big mess.
UPDATE: In praise of Mateen Cleaves.