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- Bulls re-sign veteran center Mohammed (The Associated Press) September 22, 2014CHICAGO (AP) -- The Chicago Bulls say they have re-signed veteran center Nazr Mohammed.
- Kevin Durant says Allen Iverson was 'pound for pound the best' in Instagram post (Yahoo Sports Minute) September 16, 2014It's a figure of speech usually reserved for the boxing and mixed martial arts world. Calling someone the best "pound-for-pound" anything is subjective and hard to define. Was Sugar Ray Robinson the best pound-for-pound boxer ever? Many say the man born Walker Smith Jr. was. When it comes to MMA, former UFC middleweight champion Anderson Silva has been given the title in the past. But what about basketball? Surely, Michael Jordan is somewhere on the list. He may top it. But not for Oklahoma City Thunder star Kevin Durant. Chuck too real. He changed the way we play ball. He changed the culture of ball. He is pound for pound the best. He paved the way. I can go on and on. But he’s a legend and I’m just walking the path he created. KD took to social media to tout former Philadelphia 76ers great Allen Iverson (who weighted 165 lbs. during his playing days according to basketball-reference.com ) as "pound for pound the best." This isn't a new take either. LeBron James said as much last year . But what is interesting is the reverential tone Durant took to describe Iverson. The mercurial future Hall of Famer was no doubt an influential player. But he was many other things too — not all of them positive . When it comes to answering the subjective question for Durant though, The Answer was the answer. Just don't ask about his stance on practice.
- Marvin 'Bad News' Barnes, absurdly talented cautionary tale, dies at 62 (Ball Don't Lie) September 8, 2014Sports history is full of athletes who fail to fulfill their potential, those blessed with incredible talent who succumb to injuries, demons, or vague factors that don't allow for such romanticized conclusions. In basketball, few have ever loomed as large as Marvin "Bad News" Barnes, the second overall pick in the 1974 NBA draft behind Bill Walton. Barnes entered professional basketball with an already long history of off-court problems that started even before he starred at Providence College, opted to forgo playing for the Philadelphia 76ers to join the ABA's Spirit of St. Louis, and soon engaged in even more bad behavior, including drug use, drug dealing, and occasional unexplained jaunts away from the team. Barnes eventually played four seasons in the NBA, but he never came close to fulfilling his Hall of Fame potential and is remembered primarily for the off-court incidents that have been documented in Terry Pluto's essential ABA history "Loose Balls" and the ESPN documentary "Free Spirits." On Tuesday, Barnes died at the age of 62 on Tuesday. Not surprisingly, the news from Kevin McNamara of the Providence Journal focuses largely on his tumultuous personal life: Barnes struggled with substance abuse in what was a shortened professional career and once his basketball days ended. Stacom said he saw Barnes about 10 days ago at a local restaurant and knew his friend was not feeling well. “He struggled with his demons but he was a great friend,” Stacom said. “He was a great talent and a great teammate but most of all he was our friend.” [...] Barnes was a honorable mention All-America as a junior but as a senior he established himself as one of the elite players in the country while averaging 22 points and 18.7 rebounds a game. PC rolled to a 28-4 season with Barnes and Stacom as seniors and was knocked out of the NCAA Tournament by David Thompson and North Carolina State on the Wolfpack’s home floor in Raleigh. Barnes was the second overall pick of the 1974 NBA draft, behind only UCLA’s Bill Walton. But Barnes eschewed the NBA for the rival American Basketball Association and the Spirits of St. Louis. Barnes dominated in the ABA, averaging double figures in scoring (24.0 ppg) and rebounding (15.6 rpg). But just a month into the season, Barnes suddenly left the team. His location was a mystery, but after a few days the Spirits discovered that Barnes was in Dayton, Ohio at a pool tournament. He returned to the team and complained about his contract but the team’s owners, Ozzie and Daniel Silna, smoothed things over and became lifelong benefactors of Barnes. Barnes' second season with St. Louis was impressive, as well, but his career quickly went south. After his habit, Barnes attempted to turn his life around and attempted to help at-risk youth in Providence . Yet his life was still not without controversy — Barnes was arrested in 2012 for soliciting an underage girl for sex . There is no question that Marvin Barnes struggled to live on an even keel. As with most cautionary tales, his worst moments came to define his life. Yet, from the perspective of a basketball fan, it would be wrong to allow those troubles to overwhelm everything that made him such a fascinating figure on the court in the first place. Those who witnessed Barnes at his peak remember a player who could have become one of the 50 greatest players in the history of the sport, a beast on the block with elite athleticism and skill. This video of one impressive performance for the Spirits serves as an effective sample: Barnes was brash, insanely talented, and even capable of writing poems before big games . He cannot simply be remembered for what kept him from achieving more, because what he did accomplish meant a great deal to many people. - - - - - - - Eric Freeman is a writer for Ball Don't Lie on Yahoo Sports. Have a tip? Email him at email@example.com or follow him on Twitter! Follow @FreemanEric
- Goran Dragic calls out Australia for losing to Angola on purpose to avoid Team USA (Ball Don't Lie) September 4, 2014In the FIBA World Cup of Basketball, a team's fate can often come down to the luck of the draw. Assignments to the four groups are largely random outside of the four top-ranked squads, and those teams that draw early matchups (or prospective single-elimination games) against dominant powers like the United States and Spain must adjust expectations accordingly. In the 2014 tournament currently underway in Spain, teams in Team USA's Group C held out little hope of finishing at the top of the table for the preliminary round. Similarly, teams in Group D knew that a second-place spot, though impressive in a vacuum, would set up a prohibitively difficult quarterfinal matchup against the Americans. The potential for that challenging game led to a bit of controversy on Thursday's final day of group games. Heading into the day, the top of Group D comprised Slovenia in the top spot at 4-0, Lithuania in second at 3-1, and Australia in third at 3-1 with an inferior point differential. Slovenia and Lithuania were to sort out first place in a head-to-head game, while Australia had a significantly less challenging game against Angola. Given the matchups, it was not crazy to think that Australia could have made up their point-differential deficit and finished second in Group D even if Lithuania beat Slovenia. Of course, any team in that position would have had to play the United States (which should handle Mexico with little problem) if they were to defeat Dominican Republic in the Round of 16. No team wants that challenge at such any early juncture in the tournament for understandable reasons. So, having looked at their options and incentives, Australia opted to sit top performers Joe Ingles and Aron Baynes. Then, when they held at 10-point lead at the half, they sat many more of their best players, including Matthew Dellavedova and David Andersen. It was enough to hand Angola a 91-83 win , which cemented Australia in third-place with a 3-2 record. Phoenix Suns All-Star and Slovenia leader Goran Dragic was not pleased with the Aussies' effort, so he called them out on their tactics on Twitter: Basketball is a beautiful sport, there is no room for fixing the game like today Australia vs Angola!! @FIBA should do something about that! — Goran Dragic (@Goran_Dragic) September 4, 2014 This message came before Slovenia's game vs. Lithuania, so it's not as if Dragic and his teammates were strictly dependent on Australia's result and were upset purely due to self-interest. On some level, Dragic was just offended in terms of his ideals of sportsmanship and honor among competitors. On the other hand, the game really did factor into Slovenia's fate in the World Cup. Lithuania won their game 67-64 , with Slovenia scoring a paltry two points in the fourth quarter. Dragic was particularly disappointing, finishing with 12 points on 5-of-14 shooting from the field, including missing all five of his three-pointers and three of five free throws. If Slovenia bounces back to beat the Dominican Republic on Saturday, they will face the United States in the quarterfinals next Tuesday in Barcelona. As noted by Ethan Sherwood Strauss at TrueHoop, Dragic's charge of "fixing" isn't quite accurate , although he is not a native English speaker and deserves some leeway. Match-fixing involves much deeper deceit, with players actually in the game purposely performing below their capabilities and/or referees conspiring to affect the outcome. Right now, there's no evidence that Australia engaged in such underhanded tactics, if only because head coach Andrej Lemanis held out players so blatantly. UPDATE: Ben Golliver of Sports Illustrated has presented some convincing evidence that Australia put in very little effort in the second half. The performance doesn't fall within the usual definition of game-fixing, which typically involves betting and subtler forms of poor play, but there's a strong argument here that Australia's players on the court weren't especially focused after halftime. Instead, Australia tanked the game, a tactic that NBA fans should recognize from franchises such as the Philadelphia 76ers. The difference is that those forms of tanking usually involve long-term planning and the idea that allowing young players to develop on the job is more valuable than winning a few more games per season. For Australia, the advantage is all too clear — they will now avoid playing Team USA until the semifinals, and making it that far would be a major accomplishment no matter the eventual result. Australia can claim that losing also gave them the chance to rest some key players during a tournament that tests athletes' endurance, but that's an avoidance of the issue. They lost because it increases their chances of making it deep into the competition. The incentives were all too clear for Australia, to the point where it's understandable why Dragic would call on FIBA to make changes. Perhaps it makes more sense for Round of 16 matchups to be set by another draw based on group finishes, so that first-place teams are randomly matched up with fourth-place finishers (and so on) with stipulations that teams from the same group cannot face each other. That could lead to top teams facing each other earlier in the tournament than anticipated, but the groups exist to rank teams for a second time regardless. It would be foolish to think that this change would end strategic losing forever, because the United States (and, at least for now, Spain) is so much better than other potential opponents. Some teams would likely opt to avoid even a one-in-three chance at playing an overwhelming favorite. Yet it is important to consider Dragic's argument apart from the incentives at play, because he really does seem to have a moral opposition to Australia's actions. Any sporting event will feature different cultural attitudes towards certain practices, but it's particularly the case in an international competition with so many nations with their own athletic histories. (Even Bayern Munich manager Pep Guardiola, as cosmopolitan a figure as any in world soccer, came under fire for not understanding Germany's character after sitting stars after his club clinched the Bundesliga last spring.) Attempting to solve the problem of tanking in FIBA play suggests that a workable consensus can be reached. Dragic has a right to be angry, but it's also understandable why Australians would think their team made the right move. How can we know which side is correct when their opinions may depend on philosophies that affect much more than the structure of a basketball tournament? Charles Barkley on NBA players competing internationally: - - - - - - - Eric Freeman is a writer for Ball Don't Lie on Yahoo Sports. Have a tip? Email him at firstname.lastname@example.org or follow him on Twitter! Follow @FreemanEric
- Spain, Greece move to 3-0, Senegal upsets Croatia (The Associated Press) September 2, 2014Spain and Greece are headed to the round of 16, and Senegal is in position to join them after shaking up Group B with an upset Monday at the Basketball World Cup. The Spanish earned a trip to their capital by routing Brazil in a battle of unbeatens to take the lead in Group A, while Greece clinched the first spot in Madrid by improving to 3-0 earlier in the day. Pau Gasol of the Chicago Bulls had 26 points and nine rebounds for Spain in its 82-63 victory over Brazil in Granada. The hosts had already routed Iran and Egypt by a combined 67 points, but have difficult first-round games remaining against France and Serbia following Tuesday's rest day.
- Cavaliers Pick Wiggins at No. 1, Bringing N.B.A. Draft Speculation Full Circle June 27, 2014In the end, the top three selections were essentially what observers expected all along, with Andrew Wiggins, Jabari Parker and Joel Embiid picked by the Cavaliers, Bucks and 76ers.
- A Basketball Life of Harsh Reality, Starkly Revisited May 11, 2014A new documentary on Allen Iverson by the filmmaker Zatella Beatty explores the explosive, tough-as-nails former M.V.P.’s role as an iconoclast and cautionary tale.
- With a Spirited Garnett Back, the Healthy Nets Edge the 76ers April 6, 2014In their victory over the 76ers on Saturday, the Nets had their entire roster available for the first time since Feb. 27.
- With Rare Success, 76ers Fail to Break Record March 30, 2014Although the 76ers had tied the N.B.A. record for consecutive losses at 26, they won with flair on Saturday and failed to set a new mark in futility.
- 76ers’ 26th Straight Loss Ties Mark; Hawks’ Defeat Aids Knicks March 28, 2014Philadelphia equaled the N.B.A. record for consecutive losses by falling at Houston by 22 points.