By Ben Golliver
• Justin Klugh of Philly.com with a great headline for the occasion: -- "Allen Iverson forced to spend Saturday with Sixers" -- and the requisite sarcasm.
I can remember a time when every night was Allen Iverson night in Philadelphia. Now, that honor is bestowed upon an evening of bobbleheads and shots of AI on his phone as the Sixers turn the ball over, again.
If you're feeling nostalgic, maybe head on down to the Wells Fargo Center Saturday night, where you can watch a team whose best option might be losing at this point, or rub elbows with Philadelphia's hoity-toity elite.
• Iverson is so excited he even released an official statement through the Sixers, NJ.com reports.
"It’s always good to come back to Philadelphia,” said Allen Iverson according to Sixers.com. “I’m excited to be there for my bobblehead night, see the team and hear the roar of the fans I love.”
Seeing the Heat win offered ample motivation, but, for Anthony, it doubled as educational. He observed Miami's five-game blitz of Oklahoma City with an analytical eye. He saw James make big plays, Dwyane Wade attack the rim and Chris Bosh fight for rebounds. But he also saw Mike Miller knock down threes, Shane Battier play out of position and Mario Chalmers hit key shots down the stretch. He saw ateam win, not just a glittery, high-priced collection of stars.
"The great players always get the accolades and the attention and the pat on the back when you do win, but it takes 10 guys, 12 guys to win a championship," Anthony said. "That's the difference between winning one and not winning one. Look, I knew it would be hard. You just look at the history of it. Look at the great players who haven't won a championship. I used to always tell my teammates, 'It's hard as hell to win a championship.' There are a lot of great players who don't have a title. Some guys just don't get an opportunity to win one."
“We don’t look at it as tanking because we’ve still got to go to practice every day,” Suns co-captain Jermaine O’Neal said. “If you go out there, you really are trying to win. It’s a tough period with nine games to go and everybody wants that draft pick. I guess since the women’s team (the Mercury won the WNBA draft lottery’s No. 1 pick). I wasn’t even here and I heard that a lot last year — tanking the season to get Brittney Griner. If you’re going to do it, then that’s what you do it for because she changes the outlook of that team right away. I don’t believe any college player on the men’s side can have the same effect as a Brittney Griner.
“Based off everything you hear, nobody in the draft could make this team a contender right away. You have to protect your entity.”
• Kirk Goldsberry of Grantland interviews LeBron James about his evolving shot selection, which saw a return to the three-point line this season after cutting back last year.
"You know, I changed. I didn't shoot many 3s last year, I kind of played more in the post, and more in the midrange, but I felt like I worked on 3s enough this past offseason that I could make another change — and the least efficient shot in our game is the midrange shot — so I thought maybe I could move it out, improve my 3-point shooting, continue to work on my low-post scoring, and then leave the midrange to be my next journey."
James told me that when he was working on his 3s, he'd punish himself until he met a lofty set of self-enforced shooting milestones.
"It's work," James says. "It's a lot of work. It's being in workouts, and not accomplishing your goal, and paying for it. So, if I get to a spot in a workout and want to make eight out of 10, if I don't make eight of 10, then I run. I push myself to the point of exhaustion until I make that goal. So you build up that mentality that you got to make that shot and then use that in a game situation — it's the ultimate feeling, when you're able to work on something and implement it."
After a barrage of Duncan-is-starting-the-year-brilliantly stories the world has gone back to taking Duncan’s performance for granted. A 20 and 10 night is no longer newsworthy, it’s expected from Duncan for any game that remains close enough for the Spurs to have to play him enough minutes to accumulate one.
The excitement over Duncan has settled for now and his presence ignored, or as we like to say in San Antonio, business as usual.
Though these nights are still in shorter supply than Duncan is currently leading us to believe, there are still enough that the time for celebrating how taken for granted he was is no longer today.
Why do we watch Tim Duncan? So we can finally appreciate his greatness after it’s already too late and gone.
• Zach Lowe at Grantland interviews Grizzlies coach Lionel Hollins.
What really makes this defense hum? I watch you guys a lot, and I don’t really see anything that stands out, in terms of X's and O's, from what other teams do. What’s the secret to grit and grind?
Well, the book of Ecclesiastes says there's nothing new under the sun. So we are doing what a lot of teams do. But we've committed to it, to a man, and the second and third effort we put into it is probably something that makes our defense exceptional.
I think he is, with what he brings to our ballclub. I think he should be on the All-Defense team for sure. And I think Tony Allen, as well, and Mike Conley, as well. Tayshaun has only been with us a limited time, but he also has a defensive mentality. The more players you have that are willing to get in a stance and guard, and also leave their man and go help — that's as big a key as guarding your own man, helping, and making the effort to anticipate the next pass and actually being there. And then making the offense make another pass, and another pass, and then somebody has to cast one, or someone is going to travel, or someone is going to throw it out of bounds because he's not a good passer. Or the shot clock is going to run out.
• A GQ interview with NBA superfan and fashion maven Jimmy Goldstein.
GQ: What happened in the hip hop era?
Jimmy Goldstein: Suddenly the players didn't want suits anymore. They wanted baggy jeans, oversized T-shirts and caps. Throwback jerseys.
GQ: At least that came from a personal energy.
Jimmy Goldstein: The urban look, so to speak, suddenly became a term. But for me that was very unattractive. I didn't think it flattered the fantastic figures a lot of these players had—it hid their figure. And it was a look that everybody had. It was an identical look. Every player was dressing the same. I couldn't stand it. And they all seemed to be focused on buying jewelry for $100,000 and spending $200 on their clothes. And I've never been a jewelry person, so I couldn't relate at all to what they were doing.
"Now, before we get started, I've got to get into a sticky subject," Obama said. "I know you guys aren't happy with my Chicago Bulls. But I just want you to know, the Heat are going to be just fine. They're going to be OK. They're playing basketball the right way."• Neil Paine of Basketball-Reference digs deep into the stats for... the NBA referees.