By Ben Golliver
• Royce Young of DailyThunder.com asks a number of Thunder players, including Kevin Durant, about the vicious personal insults they sometimes receive on Twitter.
Said KD: “I’ve had some bad tweets as well, hoping I tear my ACL, my mom this, your dad that. It’s a bunch of BS and I think sometimes people don’t really know what they’re saying. But what can you do?”
“I think as NBA players sometimes people look at us, I don’t know a good way to say this, but as animals sometimes,” Durant said. “Like, ‘just go out there and entertain and don’t say nothing back, we can say what we want to, we can do what we want to and you can do nothing to us.’ So I mean, sometimes you just want to let people know you hear it. We’re human. It hurts. We go through emotions and feelings.”
The best defensive player in the NBA is not in the top 10 in total blocked shots or blocks per game, grabs fewer than eight rebounds a contest and finished 37th in an analysis by Harvard professor Kirk Goldsberry on the percentage his opponents shoot when he is contesting a shot at the rim.
To understand why Memphis Grizzlies center Marc Gasol is the league's best defensive player, you need to watch him very closely. Spend a game ignoring the ball and just focus on what he does on the defensive end of the court. Do that enough times, and you too will see why he's a basketball savant.
• Dave McKenna of Deadspin.com with a fascinating story about former NBA player and assistant coach Adrian Dantley, who is now working as a school crossing guard in Maryland.
The greatest 6-foot-5 post player in the history of the NBA now pulls morning and afternoon shifts at a busy intersection outside Eastern Middle School in Silver Spring, Md. The job, which he took at the beginning of this school year, earns him $14,685.50 a year, according to Montgomery County civil service records.
"He doesn't need the money," a Dantley associate tells me. The guard-forward was legendarily cheap during his long and fruitful NBA career, and he still lives nearby in a home he purchased in 1990 for $1.1 million, one that a former agent said "was virtually free and clear" of debt back in 1996.
• Eric Freeman of Ball Don't Lie with a most interesting find: a J.R. Smith dedication song.
Hennigan, 30, and Presti, 36, still talk and text all the time, more about life in general than their jobs. After seven years working together, Hennigan already has learned lessons from him.
"I think the most important thing I learned from Sam is to always put the best interests of the organization above everything else," Hennigan says. "It takes great discipline, conviction and patience to do that, but Sam has showcased an ability to do that as well as anyone."
• Kurt Helin of ProBasketballTalk reacts to a report that the Bucks are considering a five-year, $40 million offer to J.J. Redick, who they acquired from the Magic in a trade deadline move. The numbers seem huge, but Helin doesn't mind them.
I think that is a fair offer for Redick, although in a soft free agent market could he see a bigger one from a more desperate team? Also, how much does he like Milwaukee? Still, good move by the Bucks to be proactive. I think the Bucks plan to match just about any deal Jennings gets and pair him with Redick — that’s a combo that can be very good if Jennings can take another step forward with his game.
Wilson Chandler is Denver’s Shane Battier. While physically and stylistically dissimilar, the two players share one very important trait: They are the keys that unlock two of the most versatile rosters in the NBA. For the Heat, that means freeing LeBron James and Dwyane Wade from expending too much energy on defense. Chandler’s flexibility, meanwhile, allows the Nuggets to field a multitude of lineups that accomplish their sole purpose of playing at a breakneck pace for a full 48 minutes.
“I think that was a dirty play,” Gibson said. “He’s been known to be a guy to do that.”• Matt Moore of CBSSports.com assesses the possible downsides of the Heat's winning streak.
Gibson admitted this is a sore subject for him because his season was cut short last year when he injured his ankle on a similar play. Gibson landed on the Indiana Pacers’ Paul George following a shot and tore a tendon in his foot. He needed surgery to repair the tear and said Friday his foot still isn’t right.
“When I saw (Bryant’s injury), it (ticked) me off because (Jones) was on the team with Paul George last year," Gibson said. "Rumor has it, he taught (George) a few tricks.”