Kevin Durant took a lot of heat for his choice to leave a good Oklahoma City team to turn Golden State into a juggernaut. Not that he cared — he got the ring he craved, and a Finals MVP to go with it.
Among the groups of critics were many former players — coincidentally, most without rings — who said they would never have jumped teams to join “the enemy” they would have wanted to beat them. It’s all part of the “get off my lawn” generation of players trying to preserve their legacy and egos.
Michael Jordan’s legacy and ego don’t need protecting — and he’s got Durant’s back. Sort of. Jordan was doing a Q&A at his Flight School Camp and sounded like the team owner he is when discussing the issue.
“Kevin Durant is a free agent he can go wherever he wants. I am a total supporter of free agents going wherever they want. Would I have done it, probably not. But he chose to do it, that’s his own right, he has a right to do it. I’m not mad at him for doing it. I wish him the best. I would do it differently.”
Rehashing Durant’s decision now seems about as useful as trying to debate Seinfeld’s “The Puerto Rican Day” episode. As Jordan said, you don’t have to like the choice, but the man earned the right to make whatever decision he wanted on where he would suit up — he didn’t force his way out of town, he played out his contract. Also, I will reiterate this, and it applies to Jordan, too:
You can’t say that winning a championship is the most important thing in a players’ legacy then turn around and question someone doing the thing that makes it most likely they get a ring. The “ringzzzz” argument has always been flawed, but if you’re going to make it the biggest factor in a player’s legacy then players should do the things most likely to get them that ring.
WNBA fans will now be able to play with their favorite stars and teams in this year’s edition of the popular video game.
According to multiple reports and a release by EA Sports, the game’s publisher, WNBA teams will be available for single-game offline play or online PvP play. You won’t be able to have a franchise with a WNBA team — or play against NBA teams — just yet.
This is a pretty big step, following EA FIFA’s decision to add women’s national teams in 2016.
Part of the release, via Sports Illustrated:
“We are extremely proud to partner with the WNBA and the Women’s National Basketball Players Association (WNBPA) on this groundbreaking occasion,” NBA Live Executive Producer Sean O’Brien said, according to a release. “The WNBA is home to some of the most incredible athletes on the planet, and we’ve been working hard to integrate them into our game in an authentic and meaningful way. This is only a taste of what we have in store, and look forward to working with the league on more great integrations in the franchise in the future.”
The game even got the classic Live trailer, courtesy WNBA President Lisa Borders.
Polygon says that EA hinted that you might be able to use WNBA players in the game’s The Streets mode of its “The One” single-player career after the game is released. Polygon also says that EA “didn’t rule out the possibility of mixed-gender teams competing later in NBA Live 18.”
NBA 2k18 will still be the leader for most players but now that franchise will have an area to catch up in.
The game is set for release in September on Xbox One and PlayStation 4.
OGDEN, Utah (AP) Weber State will retire the jersey of Portland Trail Blazers guard Damian Lillard on Aug. 26.
The two-time All-Star will have his No. 1 retired during an alumni game in which he will be one of the coaches.
Lillard will be the third men’s basketball player at Weber State to have his jersey retired, joining Willie Sojourner and Bruce Collins. He was a two-time Big Sky MVP and the only player in Big Sky history to be selected to an All-America team. He was named third-team in 2012.
Lillard was second in the country with 24.5 points per game during the 2011-12 season and finished his career with the third-most points (1,934) in school history. He was the No. 6 pick in the 2012 NBA draft and went on to be rookie of the year.
MILWAUKEE (AP) Recruiting and retaining players in the NBA means more than just offering top-dollar contracts.
Money, of course, helps. But a shiny new practice facility, complete with a state-of-the-art weight room and even its own barber shop, can help build a case, too.
Consider the Milwaukee Bucks’ new downtown training center another step forward for one of the NBA’s up-and-coming teams.
“This is amazing,” general manager Jon Horst said. “This is going to change the way we do things.”
The Bucks held a grand opening ceremony on Thursday for the Froedtert & the Medical College of Wisconsin Sports Science Center, which is across the street from the construction site of the team’s new area scheduled to be ready for the 2018-19 season.
This upcoming season will be the last for the team at the Bradley Center, which is one block south of the new arena site. But when the Bucks return for practice in a couple months, they’ll report downtown instead of their old training facility in the Milwaukee suburb of St. Francis.
That facility was located on grounds owned by the Catholic Church. It was in a quiet area about a 15-minute drive from the arena with one practice court and increasingly cramped quarters, especially after a new ownership group bought the Bucks from former U.S. Sen. Herb Kohl in 2014.
The spacious practice facility has two practice courts; a kitchen area overseen by the team’s personal chef and dietitian; and a cardio deck overlooking the strength training room.
Even a new conference room that will serve as a “war room” on NBA draft nights makes people smile. The conference room at the old training center only seated eight, so draft nights would be crowded.
“If you can’t get excited to come in here every single day, something’s really wrong with you,” Dave Dean, vice president of basketball operations, said in a bright work space where scouts and analytics experts will work outside general manager Jon Horst’s office.
Horst took the GM job in June after John Hammond moved to Orlando to become the Magic’s general manager. But Horst, who joined the Bucks in 2008, as the director of basketball operations, worked for years out of the old practice facility.
The new center will be a hub for new athletic performance research to be conducted by the Bucks and MCW researchers, the team said. Froedtert built a new health center on the same block that will be open to the public. The training center and arena have been focal points for other new development in downtown Milwaukee.
“As we stand here today, I can’t help but think that this land had been empty for a decade. … Thank you for the vision,” Alderwoman Milele Coggs said at the ceremony Thursday.
In the past, Milwaukee hasn’t been the most attractive free agent destination, especially since the team has struggled to win consistently, let alone play .500 basketball. Wisconsin winters can also be tough.
But the Bucks seem to have turned things around under coach Jason Kidd, having gone to the playoffs two of the last three seasons. The Bucks’ 42-win season last year was the franchise’s first above .500 since 2009-10.
Giannis Antetokounmpo has turned into one of league’s top players, while Malcolm Brogdon won the Rookie of the Year Award this year.
“Money always matters with recruiting with professional athletes, as does how successful you are or going to be matters,” Horst said. “Facilities (are) right there on that list. Facilities absolutely matters in professional sports.”
Follow Genaro Armas at http://twitter.com/GArmasAP
Are the New York Knicks Carmelo Anthony‘s team or Kristaps Porzingis‘ team? The answer to that is more obvious than ever this summer.
What hasn’t always been obvious is what the contemporary comparison for Porzingis should be in the NBA. Too often we get into the habit of lumping European players together, or tall, white players together, especially if they can shoot.
No doubt people want to compare Dallas Mavericks great Dirk Nowitzki to the Knicks big man when he entered the league in 2015. Now, we might have a reason to.
According to an Instagram Porzingis posted Thursday, Porzingis and Nowitzki have been practicing together this off-season. No doubt fans in New York will be hoping that some of Nowitzki’s greatness rubs off on their young franchise player.
The Knicks are still a disaster, but if it is any consolation Porzingis has recently said that he wants to play his entire career with New York. That could obviously just be lip service, but let’s hope he has another great season next year and overcomes the odds stacked against him in the Big Apple.