Dirk Nowitzki to Grantland's Zach Lowe: "I'm such a dork, still. This is my 15th year and I still sit, when my wife's asleep, I sit there and watch League Pass. I do it from sometimes 9 p.m. till 12:30 a.m., until the West Coast games are over. I was always a huge fan of Kobe. Obviously, he's now on the declining end, like most of us older guys, but the stuff he does … They are never out of a game. When I get home, at like 11 p.m., I know the fourth quarter will just be starting in L.A., and I'll sit down and watch him basically will his team to win with some incredible shots." Also, Nowitzki says he got to know Deron Williams while clubbing during All-Star Weekend in Los Angeles.
Hero ball does work sometimes, right Rudy Gay? People are ready to declare the Raptors transformed by their new closer. But the superstar-in-isolation is still a lousy play. Gay creating solo may actually be an improvement over DeRozan or whomever the Raptors used in those situations in the past. But almost no player is likely to score when covered, and a generic open NBA player is almost always the better bet. And we're talking about what ... two straight key Gay makes? If he keeps taking those shots, you can expect he'll make three or four of ten, or more like six or eight of 20 -- while the open guys he's ignoring might make 11 or 12 of 20. Starting two-for-two doesn't change much. Kobe over a good chunk of last year shot about 25 percent on those late isolation shots. Who really thinks Gay is much better at this than Kobe?
The MIT Sloan Sports Analytics Conference is still a few weeks away, but they just announced some of the papers and talks. Here's one from the world soccer that I bet could apply in almost any sport, that finds looking around before getting the ball makes a huge difference: "The results show a clear positive relationship between visual exploratory behaviors that are initiated before receiving the ball and performance with the ball. The best players explore more frequently than others and there is a positive relationship between exploratory behavior frequency and pass completion." Also, an in-depth look at the decision to shoot 3s vs. 2s, which might help to explain why comebacks are more common in the NBA than you'd expect.
Mark Cuban shares some of the heart-wrenching emails he gets, and makes a strong case about how an NBA team can do a lot more for a community than make money.
On Twitter I note dunk contestant James White was once an Olympic-quality long-jumper. And he's the favorite according to Vegas. Nevertheless I'd bet the field vs. White in the dunk contest. All kinds of people think that's crazy, noting how amazing White is, and he is. But as of this moment still not one person says they'd take White over the five other guys. That's the offer.
A stat from the NBA: 29 NBA All-Star 2013 performers have won a combined total of 29 Grammy Awards (Alicia Keys – 14, John Legend – 9, Ne-Yo -3, Ludacris – 3).
Andrew Bogut can be harshly blunt, even when discussing teammates in public. Is that a good thing or a bad thing?
These power rankings, from a longtime adjusted plus/minus guru and Mark Cuban consultant, have the Lakers as a top ten team.
Chad Ford (Insider) insight into the Suns: "The Suns continue to be active in their pursuit of players who can lift them out of their morass. Marcin Gortat and forward Jared Dudley appear to be the bait, though the truth is that anyone on their roster is available. What's less clear is what the Suns are actually looking for. We've heard everything from Al Jefferson to Iman Shumpert -- yet another sign that the Suns don't appear to have a coherent rebuilding plan."
Comment on this video showing Will Ferrell playing a Staples security guard, escorting Shaquille O'Neal from the building: "It was a prank ... idiot."
HoopSpeak's Jeremy Conlin: "How is it that JaVale McGee can be the more productive player according to most individual stats, but Denver is better when Kosta Koufos is on the floor?"