October 17, 2017

NBA players, Sean “Diddy” Combs and others stand behind NFL players; Brooklyn Nets Players look forward to new season; Time for safety nets at MLB stadiums

WHAT'S POPPIN'

Donald Trump Uses NFL to Boost his Ratings

Donald Trump injected himself into the NFL players’ protest against rogue police officers killing innocent Black men. Trump said at a campaign rally in Alabama that owners should fire players who kneel during the national anthem and that fans should consider walking out in protest “when somebody disrespects our flag.” Trump’s comments touched off a firestorm.

NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell didn’t hesitate to give Trump serious pushback, stating:

“Divisive comments like these demonstrate an unfortunate lack of respect for the NFL, our great game and all of our players.”

DeMaurice Smith, executive director of the NFL Players Association tweeted: “We will never back down. We no longer can afford to stick to sports.”

A good number of NFL players took exception to Trump attempting to deny their US Constitutional right to free speech, and being called “sons of bitches”. NBA players and others are standing up, even Sean “Diddy” Combs commented.

Donald Trump Disinvites Golden State Warriors

Speaking of Donald Trump, he rescinded his invitation to the Golden State Warriors to visit the White House because Stephen Curry was hesitating and ultimately decided he did not want to go. “Going to the White House is considered a great honor for a championship team. Stephen Curry is hesitating, therefore invitation is withdrawn!,” Trump tweeted. Based on the current climate, the UNC Men’s Basketball team decided its players won’t be visiting the White House either.

Carmelo Anthony Has Left the Building

It took a minute, but a deal that worked for all the parties involved finally got done. Carmelo Anthony is no longer a player for the New York Knicks; he is now signed with the Oklahoma City Thunder. Anthony joins Russell Westbrook, Paul George, and company.

QUICK HITS

Aaron Hernandez’s attorney says the late football player had extreme CTE and his suing the NFL and the New England Patriots on behalf of his daughter
Floyd Mayweather told TMZ Sports that he has yet to cash his checks from the Pacquiao and McGregor fights.
Carmelo Anthony set up a relief fund for Puerto Rico and he pledged 50 thousand dollars.
• The New York Yankees clinched a wild card playoff spot.

OTHER TOPICS IN THIS EPISODE

Is it time for Major League Baseball to install safety nets at its stadiums

Will fans ever forgive Kevin Durant for his fake Twitter account?

Brooklyn Nets Media Day 2017

With Carmelo Anthony gone, the face of the Knicks is now Kristaps Porzingas

OFF TOPIC

Co-founder of Roc-A-Fella Records and Jay-Z’s business partner, Damon “Dame” Dash, is currently selling his coveted sneaker collection on eBay. Hosted on Shoezeum’s eBay shop, the collection is packed with some of the most coveted items from what many would consider to be the golden years of sneaker culture.

VIDEO DISCUSSION: Is OKC a good spot for Paul George and are the Los Angeles Lakers still an option for Paul George in 2018?

Indiana Pacers guard Paul George has left the building and has landed in OKC to play with NBA MVP, Russell Westbrook, and the rest of the Oklahoma City Thunder team.

This move puts the Thunder in a better position to compete in the Western Conference. However, some NBA pundits think OKC still needs another star player or a 1-A player to overcome San Antonio, who beat them in 2017 in the second round of the NBA Western Conference playoffs, or the NBA Champions, the Golden State Warriors for that matter.

Interesting enough, a surprising element of this move is that Kevin Durant gave George encouraging words that helped shape his thinking about the move to OKC.

If the Thunder makes it to the NBA Western Conference championship game, would the Los Angeles Lakers still be an option for Paul George in 2018?

VIDEO DISCUSSION: NBA Free Agency 2017 took NBA fans on a wild ride with expected and unexpected changes

Yes, NBA free agency was in full effect this past week. There were changes that most of us expected and some that very few people saw coming. Let’s talk about the winners and those who didn't win too much.

Winners

Houston Rockets landing Chris Paul from the Los Angeles Clippers, which seemed to come out of nowhere. But rumor has it that the relationship between Chris Paul and Doc Rivers had soured somewhat because of perceived favoritism towards Austin Rivers who is Doc Rivers’ son. The challenge will be how Chris Paul and James Harden will be able to play together.

Other winners include the Boston Celtics landing Gordon Hayward; OKC obtaining the services of Paul George; Minnesota for adding Jimmy Butler to its roster, the Golden State Warriors because Kevin Durant took a pay cut in order to keep the team intact, and the NBA for continuing to make headlines in mid-July.

Biggest Losers

The Chicago Bulls with the trade of Jimmy Butler to Minnesota Timberwolves by many accounts is the biggest loser in the 2017 NBA Free Agency. 

Also, the Indiana Pacers losing Paul George to OKC, and the Utah Jazz losing Gordon Hayward to the Boston Celtics. Indiana and Utah are both small market teams who are losing their draw and possibly revenue.

Phil Jackson Selects Derek Fisher to Coach New York Knicks

June 10, 2014, signaled a date in New York Knicks history that we can actually acknowledge as the start of the Phil Jackson era, finally.

As we all know by now, Jackson was appointed the President of Basketball Operations for the Knicks earlier this year. As good as it felt to have the knowledge that Jackson, the owner of 11 championship rings as a coach was joining the Knicks in a management role, overseeing basketball operations, there is still a bit of uneasiness. Yes, there is nervousness because we have no evidence that his great coaching will translate into great management.

Although, Jackson relieved then Knicks Head Coach Mike Woodson as one of his first orders of business. Hiring Woodson's replacement was a little problematic, as Jackson's first choice, Steve Kerr, a TNT basketball color analyst, bowed out and signed on with the Golden State Warriors.

But, June 10, 2014, signaled a day when Jackson stepped forward into the future of the Knicks franchise making his presence felt in NY besides occupying a seat at an occasional Knicks home game. He hired a coach. He hired someone he could trust. He hired someone who knows his basketball philosophies. He hired someone he has coached and he hired someone he has won championships with. He hired Derek Fisher. On June 10, 2014, it became official that Derek Fisher would become the newly minted Knicks floor manager from the bench,

It makes sense. After failing to lure Kerr, his initial target, Jackson went with the next best thing. In seeking the right candidate to fill the shoes that Jackson has mastered as a head coach, Jackson required a young mind, someone, he has ties with and is also comfortable with, and most importantly, someone who understands the triangle offense, the coaching strategy that Jackson has implemented throughout the duration of his head coaching career.

Fisher fit the bill. Is this hiring a result of the success that first-year head coaches have enjoyed in most recent times? It's difficult to dismiss what Jason Kidd has accomplished in the neighboring borough of Brooklyn. Kidd steered the Nets to 44-38 finish, earning a second-place finish in the Atlantic Division, as well as a trip to the second round of the 2014 postseason.

How about Jeff Hornacek in Phoenix? He transformed a team that only won 25 games during the 2012-13 Season into a team that won 48 games this year. Not to mention David Joerger who spearheaded the Memphis Grizzlies attack, exceeding Hornacek with 50 wins. Those are just a couple of examples, but I think in the eyes of someone like Jackson, he seems like the kind of guy who will do exactly what he wants to do, and in adding Fisher he did just that.

For those who do not know Derek Fisher, he is a native of Little Rock, Arkansas. He played collegiate basketball at the University of Arkansas for four years and is a member of one of the most celebrated draft classes in NBA History. Fisher holds a career average of 8.3 points and 3.0 assists. Fisher didn't exactly light the world on fire during the NBA season, but the reason why he is a household name is because of what he was capable of producing when the lights shined the brightest. I'm referring to the NBA postseason. That's how I will remember Fisher. Fisher possesses NBA records of 259 playoff games played, winning 161 of those games. He has five rings to serve as evidence. Some would even argue that other than Shaquille O'Neal, Fisher played a pivotal role in aiding Kobe Bryant to secure the championships he won early in his illustrious career.

For all the key defensive stops, steals, big shots and breakout performances Fisher has accumulated throughout the NBA postseason, one particular series of events stands out more than most. The 0.4 shot. During Game 5 of the 2004 Western Conference Semifinals against the San Antonio Spurs, Fisher, then suiting up for the Los Angeles Lakers, down 73-72 caught an inbound pass from teammate Gary Payton, only to catch the ball, turn and force a shot up all within 0.4 seconds to give the Lakers a 74-73 win, and a 3-2 series lead.

Fisher delivered a 100% effort every night he stepped on the court whether it was a defensive move, doing the dirty work, or guarding the opposing teams best perimeter player. When called upon he responded, and there's no reason why I feel that he won't do the same as a coach. Fisher was tough, strong-minded, a character guy and a competitor, all characteristics we can expect will allow Fisher to make a smooth transition to the bench, this time around wearing a suit. Fisher is well-respected around the league, and beloved by all of his peers.

"He's a smart guy, smart mind," says Oklahoma City Thunder star Kevin Durant to Marc Berman of the New York Post. "He's a great motivator, great speaker and can really relate to a lot of guys and demands that respect from everybody," Durant continues.

"I think he can be a great coach," TNT analyst Reggie Miller expressed during the Spurs and Thunder playoff series.

As Fisher is small in stature, his heart made up for his lack of size displaying an all for one team basketball inspired play that generates interest and support. If that doesn't influence your belief in the job that Fisher is capable of doing, look no further than his introductory press conference held by the New York Knicks at their training facility.

"I look forward to sharing my experiences with my players, and helping to reestablish a championship culture," says Fisher while addressing the NY media in attendance.

Here's another one. "This is not for Phil and I to just hang out again as friends," says Fisher, in which he concludes that statement by adding, "We want to add more banners to this ceiling here."

How Fisher and Jackson will go about their business in doing so is intriguing and yet worrisome, but the power, sternness and matter-of-fact tone in which Fisher articulated throughout his press conference leads me to believe that he will do just that. I'm encouraged. The only problem facing Fisher is the obvious fact that he has never coached before on any level. He has never occupied the bench as an assistant head coach or even as an intern.

Jackson made it clear that in the beginning of Fisher's tenure in New York, he will be very hands-on, most notably participating in their training camp where Jackson expressed that a co-operation will be in effect. Fisher has to gain the respect of his players.

He's Fisher and certainly not Kidd. See Fisher wasn't a superstar in this league the way Kidd was. As head coach, Kidd received near-instant credibility from his players. Fisher will have to earn his. I believe he can do it. I believe in Fisher. I believe that he can mold the Knicks to play like champions like he once did. I believe a Fisher coached team could exhibit the same characteristics that Fisher displayed while he graced the hardwood as a player in being strong, tough, defensive minded, as well as, adopting and instilling an all-team mentality.

It's hard to not believe in a guy who has won at the highest level attainable not to mention five times. When a deal like this comes into focus and becomes official, I have only one question for Jackson: Why wasn't Fisher the initial candidate?

I feel like the good life lived is one where you take advantage of opportunities when they present themselves as well as making sure that you are doing what you love to do. Last night in Oklahoma City, there was evidence of that theme exuding from one particular individual who happens to play professional basketball at the Chesapeake Energy Arena. Oklahoma City Thunder guard Russell Westbrook, returned to his habitat, his environment, and the place he feels most comfortable, helping his teammates on the basketball court at the Chesapeake Energy Arena. And, last night, he aided his OKC teammates in a 103-96 victory over the Phoenix Suns, recording 21 points and 7 dimes. If his performance didn't inform you that he was elated to be back on the basketball court, then his postgame interview was the answer as he was all smiles conversing with a Fox Sports media correspondent.

"Good," says Westbrook referring to playing his first game of the season this year. "It was tough but we won and that's all that matters, I found my rhythm and continued to play."

For those unaware, Westbrook suffered a slight tear in his right meniscus due to a steal attempt by Houston Rockets guard Patrick Beverley who collided with him during Game 2 of the Thunder's first-round playoff series against the Rockets in the 2013 postseason. Although Westbrook continued to play periodically throughout the duration of that game, the seriousness of his injury resulted in a technical knockout removing him from participating indefinitely. Without a healthy Westbrook, fellow star and teammate Kevin Durant experienced life without his trusty sidekick, fending for himself to no avail. In Westbrook's absence, Durant became the center of attention receiving double teams, dealing with constant pressure and having the responsibility to be the offense with little to minimal contribution from his teammates who have yet to garner that respect from defenses as Durant's talent is superior to most.

The reason why Westbrook is essential to the overall makeup of the Thunder's appearance is because of what he is. Westbrook, this early into his career is a complete player. Standing at 6'3, Westbrook is taller than most guards and maintains an attacking mentality, believing that he can take almost every point guard off the dribble in penetrating the paint and converting. Westbrook's athleticism and leaping ability help him keep most point guards honest, restricting them from the paint and keeping them on the perimeter. Westbrook continues to improve on the offensive prowess, continuing to develop a mid-range game among the best in the League. These skills provide the evidence as to why Westbrook has already been selected to three all-star games all before the age of 25.

In the premier basketball league in the world, it is exceedingly exhausting to pin the hopes of an entire franchise's fortune on the accomplishments of one individual. Now, to win it all, every franchise's strategy is to produce "Super Teams." A "Super Team" is the pairing of two or more stars or superstars with intention of winning an NBA Championship in my best explanation. Throughout the history of the NBA, almost every "Super Team" was able to deliver the goods. The Chicago Bulls boasted guard Michael Jordan and forward Scottie Pippen. They held the league for ransom during the 90s, as they successfully captured six world titles in two three-peats. Los Angeles Lakers icons guard Magic Johnson and forward Kareem Abdul Jabaar, along with a more than capable supporting cast helped seize five world titles for the shooting stars of Hollywood in the 80s. The Boston Celtics sustained a similar formula. They were fortunate enough to have the services of forwards Larry Bird, Kevin McHale, and Robert Parish. They teamed up to nab three titles, also in the 80's.

All of these players are acknowledged on the list of the 50 Greatest Players in NBA history.

I say all this to highlight the importance of Westbrook and what he means to Oklahoma City because with him they are a title threat and without him, they are just another team awaiting elimination from the postseason competition.

Westbrook and Durant, together form one of the leagues most feared scoring tandems, as they combined for 54 points against the Suns in their most recent matchup.

Westbrook's return is not just an upgrade to the Thunder's first unit; it provides us with the opportunity to watch.

Sunday was just the beginning and I expect a lot more Thunderstorms in the weeks and months to come.

Is NY Giants Jerry Reese still on the on the hot seat, Did Slam Magazine slam Carmelo Anthony?, Is Jerry Jones still backing Tony Romo?

What's The 411Sports hosts Keisha Wilson and Mike McDonald are talking about the hottest sports stories of the week:

  • Draymond Green Says Back off of his teammate Kevin Durant
  • Did Tom Brady Pull a Michael Dukakis?
  • Dak Prescott or Tony Romo?
  • Should Jay Glazer Block Greg Hardy’s MMA Aspirations
  • NY Giants had Big Win, But Offense is Still Meager,
  • As the NBA Season Approaches, there is More Pressure on Knicks than the Nets
  • Did Slam Magazine Diss Carmelo Anthony?

IN THE PIPELINE

On Sunday, October 23rd, the Giants will be across the pond for a showdown with the L.A. Rams in London. Set your alarms, because game time is 9:30 AM Eastern time. Meanwhile, the NY Jets host the Baltimore Ravens at 1:00 PM, also on Sunday, October 23rd.

The MLB World Series starts on Tuesday, October 25th.

The NBA regular season is upon us and the Brooklyn Nets face the Boston Celtics on Wednesday, October 26; and the Nets’ first home game of the regular season is against the Indiana Pacers on Friday, October 28. We hope the crowd gives former Brooklyn Nets player, Thaddeus Young a warm reception.

IN MEMORIAM

Former NFL linebacker Quentin Groves has died at the age of 32. Reports indicate that Groves died of a heart attack, perhaps brought on by Wolff-Parkinson-White syndrome, which causes rapid heartbeats. Groves had what was described as a minor heart surgery between the Combine and the draft after WPW was discovered during the combine medical tests.

Also, Dennis Byrd, who played for the New York Jets in 1989-92, was killed in a head-on collision near his home outside of Tulsa, Oklahoma.

Olympic track star Tyson Gay’s 15-year-old daughter, Trinity, was struck and killed by a stray bullet at a restaurant in Lexington, Kentucky.

Our condolences go out to their families and may they rest in peace.

 

VIDEO: Plus, Kevin Durant praises Kristaps Porzingis; Justin Tuck Retires from NFL; Dr. Omalu says OJ Simpson may have CTE

"Maybe it’s a coincidence, but that’s the way we need to play every night. I guess we need to play every night like we’re playing OKC.” --- Brooklyn Nets center Brook Lopez

Winter superstorm Jonas arrived in NYC this weekend and blessed us with up to 18 inches of snow. Due to the storms results, the Brooklyn Nets pushed its late afternoon game against the Oklahoma City Thunder to the evening. Perhaps, just maybe, it had something to do with why the Nets decided to show up.

Brook Lopez led the Nets with 31 points and 10 rebounds, his 18th double-double of the season, to upset the Thunder and their star-studded cast, 116-106.

“He was making shots,” Oklahoma City Thunder small forward Kevin Durant simply stated regarding Brook’s big night.

With the win, the Nets ended their five-game losing streak while stopping the Thunder’s seven-game winning streak.

Before this game, which was delayed by four hours, it was viewed as a sure loss by just about everybody and on Sunday night, the Nets defied the odds. They never trailed and other than the 3rd quarter where the Nets mirrored the Thunder in points scored with 25, Brooklyn outscored OKC in every other quarter. Whenever OKC got close, the Nets found a way to answer and score consistently, which is something the Nets have struggled with all season long.

Brooklyn Nets Scores when it counts

When OKC’s Kyle Singler drained a three, set up by Kevin Durant in the 2nd quarter with a little over five minutes left, bringing OKC to within one down 45-46, Bojan Bogdanovic and Andrea Bargnani answered with a three and jumper respectively, putting the Nets back up by six, 51-45. In the 4th with a little over six minutes remaining, Dion Waiters brought OKC to within five 93-98 after his two-point shot.

Shortly after, the Nets would spend the next three minutes sealing their 12th win of the season. Thaddeus Young scored twice en route to another solid performance, scoring 14 points with 14 boards and Lopez added two.

“We went out and executed, we ran our stuff all the way through,” Young said post-game.

Yes, the Nets finally won a game but the biggest winner of all was the fans.

Brooklyn’s faithful braved the aftermath of Jonas, got to witness a victory and also got to witness two of the league's greatest players in Durant and Russell Westbrook. KD and Westbrook both produced double-doubles of their own in 32 and 10 rebounds and 27 and 11 rebounds, respectively and after the game Durant praised Lopez and Young for their efforts.

“They were tough,” Durant said. “They kicked our ass all night, you know, rebounding the ball, scoring in the paint. They did what they wanted to.”

And that’s coming from a credible opponent, actually referencing the Nets. And Durant is talking about the Nets edging OKC on the boards 49 to 46, including 18 offensive rebounds, which led to extra possessions for Brooklyn. Steven Adams, OKC’s muscle in the post and starting center was missing in action which has a lot to do with the success Lopez, Young and the Nets enjoyed on the glass and scoring inside and to their credit, they took advantage.

It’s also worth noting that after the beat-down the Utah Jazz laid on the Nets on Friday night, the Nets were able to bounce back and that started with the team’s best player. Against the Jazz, Lopez was limited to eight points having to deal with Rudy Gobert’s block party all night long. Against OKC, guarded mostly by Enes Kanter, Lopez got his mojo back, which seems to happen more often than not when playing the Thunder. Brook is averaging 28.5 ppg vs. OKC this year.

“I don’t know,” Lopez said regarding his play against OKC this season. “Maybe it’s a coincidence, but that’s the way we need to play every night. I guess we need to play every night like we’re playing OKC.”

So basically, the Nets have to figure out how they can alter what’s left of their regular season schedule to take on the Thunder until season’s end. Or maybe the Nets finally got the message of what head coach Tony Brown has been emphasizing in sharing the ball recording 24 assists on OKC.

“I thought our guys heed the message, shared the ball, moving, moving bodies, and the floor opened up for us,” Brown expressed post-game. “The options will present themselves, if we don’t force it.”

Until Tuesday’s game hosting the Miami Heat, the Nets will have the chance to do something they haven’t done in a while: smile.

VIDEO Discussion: Brooklyn is in New York City, and in 2016, it should have the money for top NBA talent; would free agent Kevin Durant give Brooklyn a look?

With its off-season moves, the Brooklyn Nets are in a good financial position to add an impact free-agent next season. However, is Brooklyn a viable option or popular enough to lure top-level free agent talent?

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