NBA: Regular Season Rest Has DWade Healthy In Quest For Miami Heat 3-Peat

USA Today’s Jeff Zillgitt on Miami’s smart strategy resting D-Wade during the season and keeping him fresh for another title run: 

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MIAMI — Dwyane Wade was being Dwyane Wade, catching a pass from LeBron James, Euro-stepping to the basket right past the Indiana Pacers’ Evan Turner and launching a bank shot high off the glass and over the stretched-out left arm of seven-footer Roy Hibbert for two points.

Driving to the basket, posting up, making jump shots and guarding Indiana’s Paul George — this is what the Miami Heat are getting from their 10-time All Star against the Pacers. These are all things that weren’t possible last season because of a knee injury.

With Wade healthy, the complexion of the 2014 NBA playoffs has changed. His performance — obviously combined with the brilliant play of James — is why the Heat don’t look so ready to relinquish the title.

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NBA Draft Is June 26th, Cleveland Cavs Land No.1 Overall Pick Again; NBA Pre-Draft Combine Highlights From Chicago

Video highlights of some of the notable NBA Draft Prospects who participated at the recent NBA Pre-Draft Combine in Chicago:

2014 NBA Draft Lottery Top 10 Picks: 1) Cavs, 2) Bucks, 3) Sixers, 4) Magic, 5) Jazz, 6) Celtics, 7) Lakers, 8) Kings, 9) Hornets, 10) Sixers

Combine video courtesy of the NBA

Steve Kerr Bypasses Phil Jackson’s Knicks To Accept Warriors Vacancy

TNT Sports Analyst Steve Kerr won’t join Ex-Coach Phil Jackson in New York, accepts Warriors five year $25M coaching offer: 

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Via NY Times:

Steve Kerr stunned the Knicks on Wednesday by agreeing to a deal to become the coach of the Golden State Warriors.

Phil Jackson, the Knicks’ new president, had been chasing Kerr for weeks to fill the vacancy left by Mike Woodson, whom Jackson fired last month. Jackson and Kerr, 48, have a longstanding relationship dating to their time together with the Chicago Bulls, with whom Kerr won three championships as a player.

But in recent days, Kerr was wooed by the Warriors, who were searching to replace the recently dismissed Mark Jackson, and Kerr confirmed in a text message that he had taken the job. He agreed to a five-year deal worth $25 million.

The Warriors are a more talented team than the Knicks, with a solid core of young players like Stephen Curry. As such, Golden State could be the more promising place for Kerr to begin his coaching career.

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NFL Draft: Recapping The Best Picks By Each Team After An Exciting NFL Draft

Taking a closer look at some of the best draft picks and overall value by each team after a very busy 2014 NFL Draft: 

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Via ESPN Insider: After looking through each team’s draft board, these choices stood out as being the best based on what each player brings to the table, how he fits with his new team and where he was drafted in the order (and also who else was available at the time).

Here are my favorite picks of all 32 teams, plus plenty of thoughts on some of the other choices I did or didn’t like for each.

Baltimore Ravens
Round 3 (79): Terrence Brooks, S, Florida State

I could have gone with C.J. Mosley, who was the best player on the board when the Ravens took him at No. 17 overall, and is an NFL-ready player who will be a playmaker behind the Ravens’ big defensive front.

But I decided to go with Brooks here, as I think he was a steal in the third round and could develop into an every-down starter for Baltimore given his physicality near the line and range in coverage. He’s always around the football.

Timmy Jernigan, drafted at No. 48 in the second round, is a good player, but I don’t totally understand his fit as a 1-technique. He won’t provide much as a pass rusher, and he comes with some character baggage.

Buffalo Bills
Rd. 1 (4): Sammy Watkins, WR, Clemson (from CLE)

It came at a high cost (a 2015 first-rounder in the trade with Cleveland to move up from No. 9 to No. 4), but the Bills got the most dynamic offensive playmaker in this draft — and the best wide receiver prospect since A.J. Green — in Watkins. They are going to need to surround second-year QB EJ Manuel with great players to give him a chance to succeed, and in Watkins he will have a true No. 1 target. Read the rest of this entry

NBA: Oklahoma City Thunder’s Kevin Durant Wins 2014 NBA MVP Award

KD easily wins the NBA Most Valuable Player Award; his 1st MVP:

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Via The NBA — Kevin Durant of the Oklahoma City Thunder is the winner of the Maurice Podoloff Trophy as the 2013-14 Kia NBA Most Valuable Player, the NBA announced today. It is the first MVP award for Durant, who captured his fourth scoring title in five seasons, joining Wilt Chamberlain, George Gervin and Michael Jordan as the only players to accomplish this feat. Despite teammate Russell Westbrook appearing in only 46 games, Durant guided the Thunder to the NBA’s second-best record at 59-23.

Durant totaled 1,232 points, including 119 first-place votes, from a panel of 124 voters that consisted of sportswriters and broadcasters throughout the United States and Canada as well as an NBA.com MVP fan vote, making for 125 total ballots. Read the rest of this entry

NBA Playoffs: Lillard’s Game Winning Three Sends Portland Past Houston

Sports Media World’s live courtside video of Damian Lillard’s buzzer beating three pointer as Blazers eliminate Rockets: 

NBA Community Outraged Over Clippers Owner Donald Sterling’s Racist Remarks

L.A Times on the fallout from Clippers owner Donald Sterling’s racist audio recording which bans him for life from the NBA:  

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L.A. Clippers owner Donald Sterling, who for 30 years has presided over the city’s second NBA franchise, became the object of national outrage and the target of an NBA investigation Saturday after allegedly making derogatory remarks about blacks.

In an audio recording, released by celebrity gossip site TMZ, a person identified as Sterling argues with his girlfriend, criticizing her for posting a picture of herself on Instagram posing with Lakers legend Magic Johnson.

“It bothers me a lot that you want to broadcast that you’re associating with black people,” Sterling allegedly says, later adding, “I’m just saying, in your … Instagrams, you don’t have to have yourself with, walking with black people. “Don’t put him on an Instagram for the world to have to see so they have to call me. And don’t bring him to my games.” The release of the recording came after the Clippers’ best regular season and on the eve of Game 4 of the first-round playoff series with the Golden State Warriors. It touched off a furor, with Clippers fans as well as Miami Heat star LeBron James and other top players criticizing Sterling.

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Nike’s Jordan Brand Sets “Jordan 29″ Sneaker Launch For September 2014

Sports Business: The latest Brand Jordan signature sneaker, the Jordan 29, unveiled in New York, set to hit stores in September:

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Via Jeffrey Martin

Beaverton, Ore. – Tinker Hatfield is discussing his latest creation, the Air Jordan XX9, and he wishes there were a fancier origin story, something more romantic about the lightest shoe in the line. He has designed 19 versions of Nike’s most iconic shoe, drawing inspiration from motorcycles, race cars and airplanes.

Now, he’s tasked with topping himself.

He, like Nike and subsidiary Jordan Brand, is competing against an incredibly popular and lucrative past. But the challenge is to create something as equally enduring for the future.

“I was literally thinking about designing more and more with computer technology in mind and I was thinking about pixels,” Hatfield told USA TODAY Sports. “High-definition? Sort of, yeah.”

The XX9, introduced Thursday in New York City, features 25 million pixels on its performance woven upper. It’s crafted by Italian artisans using a two-headed jacquard weaving machine normally for high-quality labels or silk neckties — definitely not shoes. It goes beyond appearance, however. From a structural standpoint, each pixel has a specific function and reason for being.

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2014 NBA Playoffs Officially Set; 1st Round (Best of 7) Series Match-Ups

CBS ‘Eye On Basketball’ takes a closer look at the 1st round playoff match-ups as the NBA Playoffs begin this weekend: 

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Western Conference:

San Antonio Spurs (1) vs. Dallas Mavericks (8)

Analysis: Just for old time’s sake, we’re getting a good old-fashioned Tim Duncan-Dirk Nowitzki duel in the playoffs. The Spurs are 4-2 in playoff series against the Mavericks in the Dirk-Duncan era with the Spurs winning the most recent series in 2010. We’re getting two of the best perimeter attack teams in the NBA, who execute with incredible precision.

The biggest key to this series will end up being how the Mavericks’ big men play. Dallas has trouble on the boards and they’re a pretty bad defensive unit in most creations they have with their lineups. Can anybody step up to right the interior ship for Dallas or will Duncan and Tiago Splitter have their way inside and in the series?

Oklahoma City Thunder (2) vs. Memphis Grizzlies (7)

Analysis: After the Grizzlies announced their presence with authority on the playoff scene in 2011, they were outlasted by the Thunder in the second round of the playoffs in a pretty epic series. Last season, we got a rematch but this one was sans Russell Westbrook, which allowed the Grizzlies to take advantage of focusing on Kevin Durant defensively and making the rest of the team beat them.

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Connecticut Defeats Kentucky Capping Off A Surprising National Championship Run, Fueled By Senior Shabazz Napier

UCONN’s backcourt led by senior point guard Shabazz Napier too much for Kentucky, as Huskies win 4th title in past 15 years:

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Via CBS Sports:

ARLINGTON, Texas — Coaches and players left them. Others told them to go away.

The guys who stuck around at Connecticut ended up with the last laugh and a pretty good prize to go with it: The national title.

Shabazz Napier turned in another all-court masterpiece Monday night to lift the Huskies to a 60-54 victory against Kentucky’s freshmen and bring home a championship hardly anyone saw coming.

“You’re looking at the hungry Huskies,” Napier told the crowd and TV audience as confetti rained down. “Ladies and gentlemen, this is what happens when you banned us.”

The senior guard had 22 points, six rebounds and three assists, and his partner in defensive lock-down, Ryan Boatright, finished with 14 points.

The victory comes only a short year after the Huskies were barred from March Madness because of grades problems. That stoked a fire no one could put out in 2014.

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