LeBron James will face Heat in Miami for first time on Christmas

LeBron James Heat

The NBA will be giving its fans one heck of a Christmas present this year.

The NBA schedule will be released on Wednesday evening and a report says one of the Christmas Day games will be LeBron James and his Cleveland Cavaliers returning to Miami to face the Heat.

Christmas has become one of the biggest days in the NBA schedule. Much like the NFL dominating Thanksgiving, the NBA has been pairing some of its most high-profile teams and stars against each other for the holiday. They also time the game with shoe and apparel releases to really take advantage of Santa Claus’ generosity.

In addition to the Heat and Cavs in Miami, ESPN says the Warriors and Clippers will meet on Christmas. The teams have developed a strong rivalry in recent years.

NBA files countersuit against Donald Sterling

Donald SterlingThe sale of the Los Angeles Clippers to former Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer became official on Tuesday, and Donald Sterling may end up having to give some of the $2 billion it generated back to the NBA. According to the Los Angeles Times, the NBA has filed a counterclaim against Sterling and the Sterling Family Trust seeking to recover damages stemming from the 80-year-old’s racially charged audio recordings.

The NBA’s suit is in response to Sterling suing the NBA for $1 billion after he was banned from the league for life back in May. As part of the NBA’s constitution, Sterling is supposed to compensate the league for any legal costs that stem from his detrimental conduct. The league is also seeking compensation for the money it spent to investigate Sterling’s comments and impose discipline on him.

In addition, the NBA has argued in its counterclaim that Sterling didn’t have the right to file a lawsuit against the league on behalf of the Sterling Family Trust to begin with. Two doctors declared Sterling mentally incapacitated before his antitrust suit, which means he did not have control of the trust.

We all know Sterling loves a good court battle, but it doesn’t seem like he is going to end up on the winning end of many of these cases. He has already lost his team and the NBA doesn’t seem concerned that he has any legal ground to stand on.

NBA announces sale of Clippers to Steve Ballmer has been finalized

Steve BallmerThe NBA announced on Tuesday that the sale of the Los Angeles Clippers to former Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer has been finalized. The $2 billion transaction had previously been approved by the NBA Board of Governors, and Tuesday’s closing officially makes Ballmer the team’s new governor.

The finalization of the sale was made possible by a California court confirming that Shelly Sterling had the power to sell the Clippers on behalf of the Sterling Family Trust. Sterling was previously deemed mentally incapacitated by two doctors and was removed as co-trustee. The 80-year-old fought the ruling in court but was unsuccessful.

While it would not be surprising if Sterling continued to explore avenues to sue the NBA, it sounds like he does not have much legal ground to stand on.

The Clippers are planning to hold a fan festival at the Staples Center on Monday to introduce Ballmer as the team’s new owner. Doc Rivers and the Clippers players will be in attendance.

“This is an amazing new day in Clippers history,” Rivers said Tuesday. “I couldn’t be more excited to work together with Steve as we continue to build a first-class, championship organization. I am already inspired by Steve’s passion for the game, his love of competition and desire to win the right way and I know our players and fans are going to be inspired as well.”

Ballmer said in a statement that he will be “hardcore” in trying to put the Clippers in a position to win.

“I am humbled and honored to be the new owner of the Los Angeles Clippers,” he said. “Clipper fans are so amazing. I will be hardcore in giving the team, our great coach, staff and players the support they need to do their best work on the court. We will do whatever necessary to provide our fans and their families with the best game-night experience in the NBA.”

Adam Silver was confident the NBA would force Sterling out from the second his racist audio rant went viral. The new NBA commissioner made good on his promise.

Greg Oden allegedly punched ex-girlfriend three times, broke her nose

Greg Oden mug shot

Greg Oden was arrested last week after allegedly punching his ex-girlfriend and he was charged Monday with three crimes including a felony.

The former Miami Heat center and No. 1 overall pick was charged with felony battery resulting in serious bodily injury, misdemeanor domestic battery, and misdemeanor battery resulting in serious bodily injury by Marion Superior County.

According to the Indy Star, police documents say Oden punched ex-girlfriend Christina Green in the face three times which broke her nose. The incident came after a night of drinking at a club. Oden’s mother allegedly heard the commotion and came over to pull her son off Green. She said the two have an argument every time they come over.

Green did not seem to cooperate with police at first. She was found with swelling and cuts on her nose and forehead and blood was seen on the sofa and ground, but she reportedly told responding officers that she fell. She would not allow officials to photograph her injuries.

Oden supposedly was cooperative with police and supposedly admitted his guilt.

“Thing go out of control, and I started to go after Christina. My mother and Toni tried to hold me back, but I swung my arms to move them out of the way and then punched Christina in the face. I was wrong, and I know what has to happen.”

Green was taken to the hospital and received three stitches for a cut.

Miami Heat reporter Ethan J. Skolnick added this after seeing the story about Oden being charged:

Paul George changing jersey numbers to become PG-13

Paul George PacersBefore going down with his broken leg in a USA Basketball scrimmage, Paul George was making plans to re-shape his branding.

ESPN reports that George applied for the right and was granted approval to change his jersey number from 24 to 13. George, who is from the outskirts of Los Angeles, wore 24 because of Kobe Bryant. Changing his jersey number to 13 would make for a simple and fun nickname — PG-13.

Bill Simmons suggested the nickname for George back in a Grantland column in May 2013.

By the way, I have some advice that will help Paul George become a household name. He should change his number immediately from no. 24 to no. 13. Here’s why … can you think of anyone being helped by a nickname more than Paul George suddenly becoming “PG-13?” Uh-oh, PG-13 is heating up! Warning, this game contains strong language, violence and a possible heat check! We might have to make this performance rated “R” — it’s too hot to handle! Let’s make this happen already.

George was on Jimmy Kimmel in January and had this to say when asked about the nickname.

“That’s not bad. That’s got a ring to it, PG-13.”

Since then, George has dropped hints on Twitter about switching to the nickname. He’s used “trece” several times on Twitter, which means thirteen in Spanish.

PG-13 — that is some excellent branding. The only problem is that George broke his leg since planning the number change, which won’t exactly help 13′s reputation for being a bad-luck number.

John Wall does not think he got fair shot at making Team USA

John WallJohn Wall is one of the better players in the NBA and a franchise player for the Washington Wizards, but when it comes to USA Basketball, he’s just another guy.

Wall was one of the first players cut from Team USA last week, along with Wizards teammate Bradley Beal and Atlanta Hawks forward Paul Millsap. The competition at point guard is steep — Derrick Rose, Stephen Curry, Kyrie Irving and Damian Lillard are the point guards still on the roster.

Wall was asked by CSN Washington’s Ben Standig whether he got a fair shot at making the team and said he didn’t think so, though he does hope the best for his country.

“Nah, I don’t think so, but it’s a part of the game. I’m just happy to have the opportunity to be there and represent my country. I wish them the best of luck and hope they can win gold.”

Keep in mind that Wall was not part of the initial 28-man roster for USA Basketball that was determined in January. He was only invited to work out with the team on July 24, a few days before camp began. That was after Chris Paul, Russell Westbrook and Deron Williams said they would not be playing. Wall feels like their minds were already made up about the team.

“I’ve been (around) for four years in a row. I think that’s enough time,” Wall said. “Everybody had the same fair amount of time as far as being (in Las Vegas) and playing. I think [Team USA] already had kind of in their mind what they wanted to do and what decisions they were going (to make).”

As good as Wall is, it’s hard to disagree with the Team USA cuts. These are the best American players we’re talking about. There’s no shame in being invited to the training camp and cut. It also doesn’t help Wall that Kyrie Irving, who is Wall’s competition, was one of Coach K’s players at Duke.

Either way, Wall has a good attitude about being cut.

“Not even (against) just those (Team USA point guards), but the NBA, period. I guess I’m overlooked again. I guess have to prove myself one more time.”

If this is motivation for Wall to continue working hard and improving, then he should be in good shape. If he continues to get better, maybe he’ll have a better shot at the team next time around.

Chest bump to Pro Basketball Talk

Carmelo Anthony is also skinny


LeBron James isn’t the only NBA superstar who has gotten noticeably skinnier since the season ended. Carmelo Anthony, whose season ended a lot sooner than LeBron’s, also appears to have shed some extra weight.

Anthony posted a photo on Instagram Monday that shows him looking pretty slim. It’s probably not a coincidence that he is roughly the same age as LeBron, as ‘Melo is seven months older than James and turned 30 in May.

Like LeBron, Carmelo is likely trying to prolong his career by getting into better shape. It also wouldn’t hurt for him to get a bit quicker so he can get open for all of those shots he likes to take. Who’s up next?