For Michael Jordan's bit on playing all-time greats (Kobe Bryant and LeBron James included) in one-on-one, skip to the 3:29 mark.
• In an interview to promote NBA 2K14, Michael Jordan stokes the persistent, irrelevant arguments about his hypothetical, on-court competition against an in-his-prime Kobe Bryant and/or LeBron James, among others. One would think that being the near-consensus pick as the greatest basketball player of all time would be enough, but Jordan insists on following up like this year after year. (via BDL)
• For what it's worth, both Bryant and James responded to Jordan's comments.
• TrueHoop's Henry Abbott took in the peculiar sights of the 76ers media day -- an event without, as Abbott puts it, "the normal 'just maybe, if the stars align' thinking." There's no delusion to Philadelphia's plans, which gives head coach Brett Brown (in two great embedded video interviews) and the Sixers themselves the freedom of frankness. It also is a nice piece of basketball writing:
Look around the gym Friday at the Sixers' media day at the Philadelphia College of Osteopathic Medicine (where the team rents a gym in lieu of a practice facility). Noel is dribbling between his legs, smiling for the camera. Carter-Williams wears a Cat in the Hat hat shooting a reading promotion. A posse of season-ticket holders in the corner are hanging on forward Royce White's every word. Everyone is happy, because the losses are not yet wearing everybody down.
Who knows if it'll work. But it just might be that Hinkie's four-pack of lottery tickets is exactly how a contender is born. Sixers fans have been famously morose essentially forever. But now their familiar sludge of doom comes with a shot of espresso. There's a new roster, a new GM and a new coach, and a flotilla of talented youngsters. The Sixers may be as doomed as ever, but now they're doomed with a plan. Which is such a better way to be doomed.
• A fascinating review of how effectively coaches distribute minutes in relation to certain "advanced" measures of player performance.
• Bottled wisdom, courtesy of Kevin Garnett:
• J.J. Redick has a well-earned reputation as a knockdown shooter, but rarely gets enough credit for his ability to make plays as an extension of his off-ball movement.
• Enjoy this last, exhaustive bit of Chris Herrington's coverage of the Grizzlies before he ducks behind the The Commercial Appeal's paywall. It's a wonderful parting shot to the free-reading masses: an extensive review of Memphis' roster from top to bottom, chock full of useful info as we head into the season.
• Houston assistant Chris Finch covers a lot of good, basketball-nerd ground in this interview with Jason Friedman of Rockets.com, but of particular interest were his thoughts on balancing the Rockets' up-tempo offense with Dwight Howard's post work:
Our principles of playing fast, playing with great space and taking the right shots – those aren’t changing. So whether it be 'O' [Omer Asik] or Dwight or [Donatas Motiejunas], or Terrence [Jones] or anybody who plays for us at the five – and particularly if the two bigs play together – they’ve got to run. If Dwight runs and is committed to running, then we’re committed to getting him the ball early.
It’s not something that we overemphasized last year. ‘O,’ oftentimes because he rebounded the ball, he trailed a lot. But if ‘O’ is going to be rebounding, then Dwight should be able to get out a little bit more and vice versa. So those guys need to get down there so we can get them in early post-up situations. They can get four, five, six touches a game just in the flow of the offense before the defense settles, and the benefit of that is not only unpredictability, but the defense can’t set up, they can’t force them off the post, they can’t come with organized traps and doubles and all kinds of other pressure in an attempt to bother Dwight or ‘O’ in those kinds of situations.
So there’s a way where we can take our principles and benefit from it if those guys are willing. That buy-in I think is there, we just need to get Dwight accustomed to playing with our pace and then making an emphasis to find him when he does.
• In praising his new Pistons teammates, Brandon Jennings off-handedly remarked that he hadn't "been able to play with a guy who’s a post presence since Andrew Bogut, somebody [he] could throw it down to." He went on to praise Greg Monroe, Josh Smith and Andre Drummond in a variety of ways, all of which was interpreted by Larry Sanders as a slight (or more likely: phrased as such by a media member). Sanders' response?
• Justin Verrier deftly captures what makes the Lakers' current situation so mesmerizingly unstable:
Cap-strapped and lacking any other alternatives, the Lakers very publicly courted Howard, going as far as to roll out "Stay" billboards with his likeness, which long-term fans largely found unbecoming. To see their efforts rebuffed, to the cruel delight of many, stripped away some of the shine that surrounds the club, and that new, confounding image was only further established when the team trotted out new additions like Chris Kaman, Nick Young and Jordan Farmar (on his second tour of duty) to a media throng that had thinned out considerably from last year’s much-anticipated preseason meet-and-greet. Old money bet on the wrong stock and took a big lost, and now it’s forced to try and make ends meet any way it can like every other team.
Even with oodles of cap room awaiting it next summer and the usual inherent advantages it has in attracting free agents, the prospects of a quick return to glory are far more muddled than usual. The last time the Lakers missed the postseason, in 2004-05, the player expected to bring them into the future was already in-house. But now that same player could be what stunts their ability to transition into a new era. Almost a decade later, Bryant is still the best player on the Lakers, but because of his demanding personality, affinity for taking shots and millstone salary, he is also the best reason for other superstars not to play for the Lakers, at least in the immediate.
For the first time in a long time, there are no easy answers in L.A. But that uncertainty is precisely what makes the Lakers so compelling this season.
• Woe is the tale of Rodrigue Beaubois -- the once 40-point scorer and "untouchable" player who couldn't even secure a training camp invitation this year due to a wrist injury.
• Thank you, Tom Ziller, for so magnificently deconstructing the faux conflict between eye-test Rudy Gay advocates and those who worry about the inefficiency in his game