October 20, 2017

VIDEO DISCUSSION: Lance Thomas was so hurt by Carmelo’s departure that he wrote a heartfelt letter

Former Knicks player, Carmelo Anthony, will not only be missed by many New York fans, but also at least one teammate, Lance Thomas.

When Carmelo was traded to OKC, Thomas was so hurt by Carmelo’s departure that he wrote a heartfelt letter to The Players Tribune thanking Carmelo.

“I was hurt when he left,” Thomas said. “Not only not having him as a teammate but not having him here as one of my best friends.

Are you surprised that Carmelo’s departure has affected players in this manner?

Hit us up in the comments section under this video on YouTube.

Big moves in the NBA, power centers shifted for NBA 2017-18 Season

In this Quick Bites segment:
Derrick Rose says he’s no longer in a “dark place,” he is happy with the Cavaliers.
Russell Westbrook signed a five-year, $205 million extension with the OKC Thunder and the OKC mayor declared everyday Russell Westbrook Day
• With Russell Westbrook, Paul George, and Carmelo Anthony on the same team, NBA analyst Stephen Jackson said that OKC is the scariest team in the NBA.
Carmelo Anthony is happy being in OKC, he told ESPN, "... From an individual standpoint, I feel born again, feel rebirth, a different type of energy within myself, around the guys, around the organization, around the city. You can feel it."
• And, as we all know by now, Dwyane Wade has joined LeBron James and the Cleveland Cavaliers

Our Photo of the Week is a photo of Oklahoma City Thunder players Carmelo Anthony and Russell Westbrook posted by fellow teammate, Paul George on his Instagram account and everyone is happy!

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.

VIDEO: Jimmy Butler and Timberwolves are big winners in NBA Free Agency; Paul George lands in OKC, Brooklyn Nets, Knicks, focusing on young players

Before we get to our discussions of the top sports stories, here a couple of quick bites:

• The NBA fined Philadelphia 76ers center Joel Embiid for foul language after he released a video on Instagram where he said, "F- LaVar Ball"
• Lakers small forward Brandon Ingram will miss the remainder of summer league due to cramping in his right leg
• The Miami Heat officially waived Chris Bosh and plan to retire his jersey. Bosh has since cleared waivers and is now a free agent.
James Harden landed the biggest NBA extension contract in history. The deal, reportedly worth $228 M, would start trickling in 2019-20 at a salary of $37.8M, $40.8M, $43.8M and $46.8M.

NBA Free Agency

NBA free agency was in full effect this past week. And, Keisha and Mike are talking about the winners and those who did not do as well.

Paul George Goes to OKC

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. Has OKC positioned itself to be in better contention to take over the West? Did the Los Angeles Lakers miss the boat on not trading for him?

Lonzo Ball NBA Summer League Outing

As his father, LaVar Ball predicted, NBA Draft stand-out, Lonzo Ball is now in the NBA and playing for the Los Angeles Lakers. Lonzo had a rough Game 1, but he managed to right his ship and played clicking on all cylinders for Game 2. Will Lonzo bring “show time” back to the Lakers?

What’s The 411Sports’ Photo of the Week

Our photo of the week is a photo of Markelle Fultz, the 2017 NBA Draft’s #1 pick overall, being helped off the court by his teammates because of an injured left ankle.

What’s The 411Sports’ New York Sports Report

Brooklyn Nets

The Brooklyn Nets acquired Jarrett Allen in the 2017 NBA Draft at No. 22, and just before the draft, the Nets acquired guard D’Angelo Russell and center Timofey Mozgov from the Los Angeles Lakers in exchange for Brook Lopez and a Nets first round draft pick. Russell attended NBA Summer League and like a good teammate, he cheered on the Nets. However, when the game was over, Russell stayed to watch the Lakers play.

Should D’Angelo Russell have stayed to watch the Lakers summer league game? Will the Nets development culture be able to assimilate D’Angelo Russell?

New York Knicks

Phil Jackson is out as the NY Knicks president and the Knicks inked a four-year deal to bring Tim Hardaway Jr. back after Jackson’s exit. New York Knick fans are crowing about Hardaway’s $71 million four-year deal. Meanwhile, David Griffin, former Cleveland Cavaliers general manager, has turned down the job of general manager of the New York Knicks.

Is this a good move to bring Hardaway back to the Knicks? Who made this decision? Would the Hardaway acquisition have happened if Phil Jackson was still with the Knicks?

The New York Yankees

New York Yankees were in a huge tailspin heading into the MLB All-Star Break.

Will the Yankees turn this ship around and sail into smoother waters?

New York Giants

New York Giant wide receiver Odell Beckham Jr landed on the number 8 spot on the list of Top 100 NFL Players of 2017 as determined by his peers.

Off Topic

LaVar Ball Gets Real

LaVar Ball’s camera-ready persona has reportedly landed the Ball family a reality-show deal. Deadline is reporting that the Ball family will be the focus of a yet-to-be-named docu-series as part of Facebook's push for original video content.

A Woman Uber Driver Gets First-Day Surprise

It was a woman’s first day as a Uber driver and she picked up Golden State Warriors center JaVale McGee. How cool is that?

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.

Jeremy Lin reflects on his growth since being traded from the New York Knicks to the Houston Rockets

"That's the sign of our growth as a team," Jeremy Lin said responding to a reporter's question after the Houston Rockets beat the Brooklyn Nets 106-96. "We probably wouldn't have done that earlier in the season. We probably would have folded and fell and given away the game. We regrouped, took their hit, then counter-punched, and we were able to get the win."

Jeremy sees that maturity was a factor in the team's ability to get the win over the Brooklyn Nets tonight.

"We got some stops when we needed to, but we made it tough, we made it tough for them."

Jeremy sees that he is blending in and believes that the team is really blending.

"The past couple of weeks, we've shown flashes of in my mind, of being a really, really good team whether it's a game against OKC or Golden State or games like that," he said. "Today was an uglier one. We turned the ball over; we didn't play as well as we normally did, but we were able to get the win so we're thankful for that."

And, it's always good when you can get a win on the road.

"Any win on the road is a great win for us," he responded. "We want to keep pushing and try to build a winning streak; we have a favorable schedule coming up."

What has been Jeremy Lin's biggest adjustment coming from the New York Knicks to the Houston Rockets?

"I think it's just different, because it's a different system and I'm in a different role; being able play alongside a huge and elite playmaker in James Harden and learning to mesh with him and we're getting there and I'm really happy with where we're at right now and I'm happy with where our team is in terms of how we're playing."

So what does Jeremy Lin miss about New York City?

"I miss the fans, just like how crazy the Garden (Madison Square Garden) would get last year, how loud and awesome the experience was, yeah, that's what I miss most."

Has Jeremy Lin experienced the level of excitement in other NBA arenas like the Linsanity at Madison Square Garden in New York City?

"Here and there, here and there," he said. "Sometimes it will get crazy and stuff. I think our last home game against OKC back home that was insane; we had the Toyota Center rocking, so, it was cool."

So is it less pressure on him being in a smaller market.

"Less pressure, less spotlight, so it usually means less pressure," Jeremy said.

What will be the point of success for this team in making the playoff and going forward?

"I think consistency and I think it's attention to detail on the defensive end," he responded. "I think offensively we're okay. Offensively we'll struggle here and there but, I think we've shown we're an explosive offensive team and I think our biggest improvements can come on the defensive end.

Has Jeremy got over the trades?

"I just hate to see anybody leave, but in terms of the trade in and of itself, it's not for me to really, really comment, it kind of management's job," he responded. "It was tough for me to see my teammates leave, but we have new guys coming in, I just met a few of them, it's definitely time to turn the page and move on."

Russell Westbrook scores 33rd Triple-Double; Brook Lopez and Jeremy Lin score 25 and 24 points respectively; Nets Caris LeVert has one of his best games

The New York City area was hit with some snow yesterday, but there was also a presence of thunder, the Oklahoma City Thunder. Smartly, Russell Westbrook and his team came to town ahead of the snowstorm to take on the Brooklyn Nets.

Even though the weather was less than ideal, fans filed into the stadium to give the Nets a boost.

So, how would the hometown team handle the walking triple-double Westbrook and his comrades? The fans were treated to a healthy dose of Linsanity right from the start as Jeremy Lin used his quickness and ball handling skills to blow by his defender going into the paint either for the score or pass to an open teammate. The Oklahoma City Thunder quickly pushed the ball up the court after Nets’ misses and Brooklyn struggled at times with their transition defense giving the Thunder easy baskets.

The game was back and forth for the first half. Oklahoma City enjoyed a ten-point cushion in the second quarter but it was cut in half after buckets by Lin and Brook Lopez. The Nets battled, erased the deficit and the game was tied at 62 at the end of the half. At the start of the third quarter, the Nets’ shooting started matching the weather outside, cold. The Thunder took advantage of Brooklyn’s shooting woes jumping to a double-digit lead. Once the Thunder gained the lead, they never relinquished it.

When asked what was the turning point for his team in the third quarter, Nets head coach Kenny Atkinson stated, “I think their physicality wore us down…they came out and really got after us and we couldn’t really run our stuff.”

With a little less than five minutes left in the game, the crowd roared. The irony was the cheers weren’t for the Nets but rather for Westbrook who continued his historic run by recording his 33rd triple-double of the season.

The moment caught Westbrook off-guard, as he later recalled thinking, “maybe they was, you know, giving something out in the crowd or something.”

Nope. Brooklynites know good basketball and basketball fans showed their appreciation for what they were witnessing up-close and personal.

Nets rookie Caris Levert had one of his best games of the season notching 16 points, five rebounds, two assists and a career-high-tying three steals (done twice previously) in 23 minutes against OKC.

Lopez and Lin scored 25 and 24 points respectively. After strong performances over the past few games, the bench fell short during the contest by scoring a total of 20 points.

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