• Back in June, it was announced that LeBron James would serve as cover boy of "NBA 2K14," the first time he's been on a video game cover during his career. Now, the trailer, which features James, Rajon Rondo, James Harden and other NBA stars, has been officially released. Check it out (above); the game will be released on Oct. 1. Video via YouTube user 2KSports.
• Sean Highkin of USA Today Sports offers a great idea, thoroughly executed: A jersey buyer's guide for fans of all 30 teams, with a look at both current players and retro options.
If you’re buying a new Miami Heat jersey in 2013, there’s no way to avoid being called a frontrunner. If you’re fine with that, the Heat have the best player in the world in LeBron James. Dwyane Wade is the favorite of longtime fans out of the Big Three. A Chris Bosh jersey would be an incredibly refreshing change of pace and will probably make people hate you less. Not only are his contributions on the court horribly underappreciated, but wearing his jersey is spitting in the face of every played-out joke about his masculinity that has ever been tweeted. Chris “Birdman” Andersen is as close to an under-the-radar choice as you can get with this team, but you’ve got pint-sized competition. If your fatal character flaw is that you’re an incurable optimist, there’s always Greg Oden.
• Jason McIntyre of The Big Lead reports that Fox Sports is interested in televising NBA games.
Fox Sports 1 has TV rights for college football and the NFL, but adding the NBA is an absolute must for the nascent channel to expand its live sports portfolio. FS1 does have college basketball and soccer, but a partnership with the NBA would provide steady programming from November-May. With no other major sports TV rights on the immediate horizon (see chart below), the big winner, of course, will be the NBA.
But the NBA is already spreading word to likely bidders that it loves how the NFL is everywhere -- ESPN, CBS, NBC, Fox -- and it seems unlikely the NBA would completely bail on Turner for a variety of reasons (longtime partnership, NBA.com, NBA TV, and let’s not forget the best pre-game and post-game show in basketball.)
• Haley Thayer of SMU's The Daily Campus provides an update on the "science of flopping" study funded by Mavericks owner Mark Cuban.
“If we know how bodies should and should not react to contact we can more readily identify and eliminate flopping,” Cuban said.
The SMU biomechanics team, headed by Weyand, needed a way to measure the dynamics of a collision in a game-situation, thus the “flop-buster” was born. The “flop-buster” is push-bar with force sensors that are calibrated with weights using a wood-framed cradle. It allows the team to measure how much force it takes to push somebody and knock them off balance with a push for them to fall naturally without their own added force or momentum.
• Jacob Harmon of Gothic Ginobili meditates on the man they call "Boogie."
Full disclosure: I’m predisposed to liking DeMarcus Cousins. As a native of Mobile, Alabama, where the basketball ain't football and the hoops are hard to come by, I’ve got a soft spot for the Sacramento big man. He represents the most prominent active representative of my state in the world of professional basketball (sorry, Eric Bledsoe). That means something. I attended high school down the street from the guy, at the same time he did. I’d love to tell some illuminating story about our relationship before we made it big, but I never once met him. I never even saw him play. To be honest, I never heard of him until he played for Kentucky. Like I said, Alabama -- and particularly the high school I grew up at -- is the land of college, high-school, and professional football. In that order. The next Michael Jordan could’ve played for my own high school team and I probably wouldn’t have known it. But hindsight is 20/20, and knowing what I know about Cousins now, my affinity remains as strong.
Of course, it’s not just that Cousins is from my hometown that piques my interest. You could say I like the idea of Boogie Cousins. I’m the biggest Charles Barkley fan on planet Earth (self-appointed), and though I believe Chuck resents the comparisons (and let’s face it, Cousins is no Charles Barkley in game or in wit), there’s something intriguing and familiar about a volatile big man ascending from my neck of the woods and into the heights of basketball. His game an amalgam of oddly-fitting talents with a penchant for snarling at referees and snatching down offensive rebounds. I think that I see in Cousins some of the same qualities that led me to idolize Barkley the basketball player as a child. Maybe that’s why I so often find myself defending Cousins, and hear phrases coming out of my mouth like “That Sacramento franchise has been toxic, it would stunt anyone’s development,” or “He’s still really young, give him time.” Maybe it’s why I nod my head enthusiastically when I hear anyone from Shaquille O’Neal to an anonymous forum poster say that Cousins could be the best big man in basketball.
• "The Professor" -- streetball legend -- breaks off unsuspecting opponents while wearing a Spiderman suit. Video via YouTube user Professorlive. Hat tip: Lang Whitaker, NBA.com.
• Indie music meets the Heat/Celtics in an unusual music video.
• The Tracy McGrady retrospectives continue. Here's Russ Bengtson for Complex.com.
We’ll say it again: Tracy McGrady will be in the Basketball Hall of Fame. And that’s not just because every single player to lead the league in scoring even once (with the exception of Max Zaslofsky, who did so in 1947-48) who’s eligible is already in. All of the 15 retired players to accumulate 15,000 points, 5,000 rebounds and 4,000 assists are in the Hall as well. McGrady’s best was better than most, and more extended than some. And his dominance would have lasted even longer than it did had it not been for injury. It was his body that failed him, not his mind. To put him in the almost-ran category with the likes of Antoine Walker and Steve Francis is laughable. McGrady is a lock (well, Basketball Reference has his probability at 58 percent) just like his cousin Vince Carter -- maybe they’ll even go in the same year.
And when that happens, I’ll be able to say I once played with a Hall of Famer. This would have been in Orlando toward the end of 2001, after a September 11, 2001 NYC adidas event was cancelled for obvious reasons. After an interview session, we were invited to suit up for a three-on-three game with McGrady. The players were a mix of media and adidas reps and one All-Star who never had to put it into second gear. Heck, he never had to get out of neutral. But two or three times, for a few brief seconds, he let everyone know what playing against Tracy McGrady is really like: It’s fucking terrifying. Sitting on the sidelines watching an NBA game is one thing. Standing on the three-point line and trying to get a shot up while a 22-year-old, 6-8 swingman closes out on you instantaneously is another thing entirely. He managed to fluster fellow SLAM editor Ryan Jones so badly on one close-out that he shot a three-point attempt over the backboard. McGrady also threw down one vicious dunk just because—like any of us was going to be able to do anything about it. He may as well have been a different species.
• Trey Kerby of The Basketball Jones fashioned the "Thank You" posters that McGrady forgot to send to fans of the Knicks, Pistons, Hawks and Spurs. McGrady did thank fans of the Raptors (here), Magic (here) and Rockets (here) on Twitter.
• TNT's Charles Barkley said something about analytics that raised eyebrows -- "I don't believe in that analytical crap" -- and Dan Devine of Ball Don't Lie was there to break it down in full.
• Is is possible that LeBron James is slowing down physically
even though he continues to improve as a player?