What Makes Brandon Jennings Qualified for the Slam Dunk Contest?

Maybe you’re a big fan of the Slam Dunk Contest.  Maybe you’re more like me and just can’t get excited about it.  Last year’s contest lacked creativity and was pretty boring as a result.  With Blake Griffin agreeing to participate in the 2011 Dunk Contest, expectations are high.  Everyone is hoping Blake will use his freakish athleticism to come up with something new, and it certainly wouldn’t surprise us if he did.  After all, he’s on his way to becoming one of the greatest dunkers of all-time.

Aside from Griffin, the other three contestants are Serge Ibaka of the Thunder, JaVale McGee of the Wizards, and Brandon Jennings of the Bucks.  Ibaka and McGee make sense, but why Jennings?  We’re a little over a third of the way through the NBA season, and here’s how many dunks each of the contestants have thrown down this year:

Griffin — 83
McGee — 57
Ibaka — 41
Jennings — 2

[Read more...]

Hedo Turkoglu ‘Shake Weight Dance’ is Tough to Look At (Video)

Would someone like to please explain to me what that was?  Rumor has it they’re calling it the “Shake Weight Dance,” and I suppose I understand that.  The only frightening thing about that is giving it a name implies the dance could become a mainstay.  We’ll keep our fingers crossed that doesn’t happen.

This is the second embarrassing moment Hedo Turkoglu has had since returning to the Magic.  The first, a missed dunk attempt, was probably more humiliating for him but not nearly as ridiculous to us.  For the love of God, Hedo — no more dancing.  Thanks to Off the Bench for the video.

Home Cooking, Visit from Mom Key to Turnaround for Tyreke Evans

It’s been an absolutely brutal season for the Sacramento Kings. They’re tied with the Wizards for the second-worst record in the league, and their core tandem of Tyreke Evans and DeMarcus Cousins have been a disappointment most of the season. Until recently. Cousins has been studly lately, scoring at least 20 points in four of the team’s last five games (they went 3-2). Likewise, last year’s rookie of the year — Evans — has stepped up.

Tyreke, who busted onto the scene last year with an absurd 20, 5, and 5 average as a freaking rookie, was nowhere near the same player this year. He’s battled plantar fasciitis and another issue that has been kept private. Oh yeah, and according to Evans, he’s battled weight issues.

Evans told The Sacramento Bee that his diet got a little fast food heavy, but that he’s lost some weight ever since his mother and grandmother came in for the holidays. Tyreke says they made him plenty of soul food and that’s allowed him to maintain a better diet. As a result, he says he’s much quicker on the court, which has been clear over the past few games. So what’s the lesson to be learned here? Leave the groupies, bring the mom.

Steve Nash Signs Shoe Deal with Chinese Company Luyou, Nike Not Losing Out

There was some interesting news that came out Thursday for those of you who follow player endorsement deals. CounterKicks broke the news that Steve Nash would be leaving Nike to sign with Chinese company Luyou. While the deal seemed damning for Nike on the surface, it’s not as bad as it appears.

Though Nash is no longer under contract with Nike, he will continue to wear their shoes while playing in the U.S., according to Seth Pollack of Bright Side of the Sun. Nash also said his deal only applies in China, so he’ll continue to rep Nike despite not being under contract. Rather than indicating that the swoosh is losing prominence in the basketball world, this only shows how much bigger the NBA is getting in China.

Baron Davis, Hasheem Thabeet, Ron Artest, Jason Kidd, and Nash are amongst some of the players with deals in China. Much like big names such as Stephon Marbury and Allen Iverson who have gone abroad to play, Steve Nash is a recognizable figure. It makes more sense for a Chinese company to spend money to get a big-name player like Nash to draw attention to their gear. Nike still has the biggest stars in the game under contract, so losing a guy like Nash is no big deal, especially if he continues to pimp their product on the court.

Grizzlies Ban Gambling on Card Games After O.J. Mayo-Tony Allen Fight

Chalk up another NBA team fight to gambling debts. Last year it was finger guns getting into a life-changing fight with teammate Javaris Crittenton that grabbed headlines. This year, it’s two Memphis Grizzlies responsible for a fight rather than the Washington Bullets Wizards.

O.J. Mayo, who hasn’t exactly had the best month, apparently owed teammate Tony Allen $1,500 stemming from losses over the game “Boo-Ray.” Mayo wouldn’t pay up and reportedly antagonized Allen, leading to things getting testy between the two. Allen eventually hit Mayo at least five times according to the Memphis Commercial Appeal, and Mayo missed Tuesday’s Grizzlies game because of “bronchitis.”

Coach Lionel Hollins has banned gambling on team flights in order to cut down on the problems, or at least in order to look good for the media. It’s not a bad strategy for Hollins given his most recent incident. What I don’t understand is why $1,500 was a problem for Mayo — that’s like pocket change for him. It must be a matter of principle and not the money. Too bad Tim Floyd wasn’t around either otherwise he would have had that debt paid for O.J. in a second.

Ron Artest Reportedly Confronted Phil Jackson Over Public Embarrassment

The Lakers have been struggling recently, losing the Christmas day warmup game to the Bucks, getting hammered by the Heat, and getting spanked by the Spurs and gasp! Grizzlies. Phil Jackson’s coaching methods that typically are termed “genius” when the team is winning have now been deemed problematic since the team is losing. One such person who has struggled with Phil’s coaching style is Ron Artest, who has complained about being publicly embarrassed by his coach dating back to last season. Artest has admitted to being lost in the team’s offense, and it’s clear his fragile psyche is not responding well to Jackson.

According to a recent story at Yahoo! Sports, “at a recent practice, league sources said, Artest loudly confronted Jackson. As he tried to fit into the defending champions a season ago and earn his way, Artest grudgingly went along with Jackson’s public floggings. This season, Artest has less tolerance for it. Essentially, Artest told Jackson that if he wants to coach him, coach him. Just stop embarrassing him in public.”

The message is the same as last year, but the report that Artest loudly confronted Jackson suggests the situation has escalated. It’s information like this that confirms what Artest’s brother recently suggested about Ron’s future with the team. As for the Lakers, they’ll likely turn things around, but it’s hard to say they’re better than Boston, Miami, or San Antonio. Another three-peat seems unlikely at this point, but not out of the question.

Allen Iverson Is a T.G.I. Friday’s Regular in Istanbul, Loves the Cheesesteak

It was announced in October that former NBA MVP would be taking his talents to Turkey after running out of interest from teams in the States. In typical Iverson fashion, the man missed his flight, so his rock-star like welcoming had to be put on hold for a few days. There were reports that Iverson was not enjoying his time in Turkey and wanted to come home, but that hasn’t happened. According to EuroBasket.com, Iverson has played nine games with his Besiktas team, averaging almost 14 points per game in Turkish league play.

Being in Turkey, Iverson is clearly displaced and out of his comfort zone. In order to help feel at home, he apparently has been dining at T.G.I Friday’s every single day, ordering up the Philly cheesesteak on the regular. Not ribs, not ribs, but cheesesteak. He says he tried it once, never previously realized how good it was, and that he’s returned every day to check it out. Apparently he’s tried to work out some sort of endorsement deal through their corporate office but nothing has happened. Given the way the people in Turkey love their Iverson, it might not be a bad business move for the restaurant chain.