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Dan Le Batard trolls LeBron James with billboard

Dan-Le-Batard-LeBron-billboard

Dan Le Batard has finally figured out a way to take a very public shot at LeBron James. The Miami-based sports radio host and his co-hosts had been discussing ways to troll LeBron when he officially returns to Akron on Friday, but both the Akron Beacon Journal and Cleveland Plain Dealer rejected their proposed ad.

Fear not, LeBron haters — Le Batard and his father Gonzalo “Papi” Le Batard found a billboard company in Akron that was willing to take their money.

In a text message to Greg Cote of the Miami Herald, Le Batard explained that the billboard is all in good fun and is simply meant to point out that LeBron never thanked Miami for the championships.

“It’s just fun anarchy. All meant in fun — which, of course, will turn into Cleveland people getting filled with rage, poison and irrational hostility and want to use those billboards as a guillotine,” Le Batard said. “Sports are so great, the more irrational the better. This is a publicity stunt disguised as a movement. Please don’t tell anyone there is no actual movement.”

Like thousands handfuls of other fans in the Miami area, Le Batard is upset that LeBron left after winning two championships in four seasons. He knows the Heat wouldn’t have won the rings without LeBron. If you ask me, the joke is pretty funny. I bet even LeBron will laugh.

H/T DC Sports Bog
Photo via @JeremyinAkron

Report: Cavs have trade, long-term extension in place for Kevin Love

Kevin LoveKevin Love to the Cleveland Cavaliers is as official as it can be without actually being official. Adrian Wojnarowski of Yahoo Sports reports that the Cavs and Minnesota Timberwolves have reached a deal for Love and that Love has agreed to sign a long-term extension with Cleveland.

As expected, the T-Wolves will get Andrew Wiggins and Anthony Bennett in addition to a protected first-round pick. The deal cannot be finalized until Aug. 23 because of NBA rules prohibiting players from being traded within 30 days of signing a rookie contract.

Love has reportedly made a “firm agreement” with the Cavs that he will opt out of his current contract after the 2014-2015 season and sign a five-year extension worth around $120 million. Woj also added that the Cavs felt a sense of pressure to make the deal now knowing they would not have the salary cap space needed to sign Love as a free agent next summer. Had they not traded for him, the Chicago Bulls likely would have.

It does not appear that there is a third team involved in the trade, as was previously reported.

So what does it all mean? The return of LeBron James instantly made the Cavs a championship contender. The addition of Love makes them downright scary. While Wiggins is a phenomenal talent and could wind up being one of the best players in the league, Cleveland is likely better off with Love in the short term. LeBron will turn 30 next season, so time is somewhat of the essence.

Love is a proven talent and an NBA All-Star. If healthy,  LeBron, Love and Kyrie Irving have a chance to dominate a weak Eastern Conference.

Greg Oden has classic mug shot after arrest for allegedly punching woman

Greg-Oden-mug-shot

Greg Oden was arrested early Thursday morning in Lawrence, Ind., after he allegedly punched a female. According to the probable cause affidavit obtained by WTHR, a witness claims to have seen the NBA free agent punch a woman in the face.

When officers arrived at the scene, they observed “blood, swelling to the nose, lacerations to the forehead and nose area of the victims face.” The victim was reportedly being uncooperative and claimed she fell but could not recall any details of her supposed tumble.

Oden, who said he dated the victim for two years but that the couple has been broken up for two months, admitted that he hit the woman.

“Things got out of control and I started to go after the victim,” he said. “My relative and witness tried to hold me back, but I swung my arms to move them out of the way, then punched the victim in the face. I was wrong and I know what has to happen.

A relative who lives at the home where the incident took place told police that she woke up when she heard Oden and the victim arguing. She said they argue frequently.

Oden has been booked on a Class A misdemeanor for battery with injury and a Class B misdemeanor for battery. This probably won’t help his chances of signing with an NBA team this offseason.

As for the mug shot — Ohio State must be cringing.

Brian Scalabrine didn’t think Mark Jackson pushed Warriors players hard enough

Brian ScalabrineBrian Scalabrine’s stint as an assistant coach with the Golden State Warriors did not go well last season. Scal was demoted midseason and head coach Mark Jackson said there was a difference in philosophy between the two. Scal confirmed that was the case, and he says the difference is that he believes a coach should be pushing his players harder.

Scalabrine talked about his time with the Warriors in an interview on 98.5 The Sports Hub’s “Toucher & Rich” program Tuesday.

“Mark gave me a great opportunity to be on the bench, and then when I got there, I think to win in this league you have to drive and push, and I feel like the players will respond to that,” Scalabrine said via BANG’s Diamond Leung. “And I think that was the biggest thing about this disappointment in our staff as a staff, right? We could have done more, and we didn’t, and I think he kind of sensed that.

“At the end of the day, to say it was a difference of philosophy, a difference of opinion, I mean, that’s really what it was. And I’m so used to seeing like a Doc Rivers and a Tom Thibodeau (his former coaches), and it kind of threw me for like kind of a loop and a surprise that it was not as hard-pressing as I thought it was going to be.”

Scal also says the Warriors ownership group offered him the chance to interview for a position after Jackson was fired, so it’s clear they still liked him.

We knew that Jackson didn’t get along with ownership, and this might have been a reason why. Could Jackson pushing his players have resulted in better results for his team? Maybe, but it’s hard to argue with the success he had. There is more than one style of coaching, you know?

[Related: Mark Jackson was disinterested in game preparation, reluctant to practice]

Chest bump to Eye on Basketball

Kobe Bryant, Michael Jordan really do have identical moves (Video)

Kobe Bryant Michael JordanFor those of you who aren’t convinced that Kobe Bryant modeled his game after Michael Jordan, this is Exhibit A. The third edition of the “Identical Plays” videos that were created by Youseff Hannoun was released earlier this week, and the results are just as jaw-dropping.

Granted, a lot of the plays we saw from both Michael and Kobe are typical of swingmen-type players. If you searched hard enough, you could find a clip of Kevin Durant hitting a step-back jumper the same way Jordan did. But the mannerisms — finger wagging, tongue wagging, etc. — from Kobe are what stand out.

Hey, Kobe freely admitted he stole some of his moves from Jordan. That’s the main reason Jordan has joked that he might not be able to take Kobe in a game of one-on-one. Both players are legends in their own right.

Report: Under Armour to make Kevin Durant huge offer

Kevin DurantKevin Durant will not be an NBA free agent until 2016, but he is currently in the middle of a different kind of free agency.

Durant’s contract with Nike is expiring and he is being pursued by sports apparel giants Adidas and Under Armour. Nike, of course, wants to retain him. Of the three, UA might be the company to watch here.

The New York Daily News’ Frank Isola reports that Under Armour could offer Durant as much as $30 million a year.

While the number sounds outrageous — and we doubt they would offer him that much — it sure sounds like they mean business in these negotiations.

Under Armour pursuing Durant and potentially signing him could have other implications. UA is based out of Maryland, which is nearby Durant’s hometown of D.C. Ever since LeBron James decided to go home to Cleveland, there has been a lot of noise about Durant one day going to play for the Wizards. Durant even seems to be giving serious consideration to that possibility.

I would be shocked if Durant signed with Under Armour over Nike (with the implication being that UA outbid Nike by a large amount), but I doubt Isola would throw this out there if he didn’t have solid information on the matter. We’ll see what happens.

H/T Pro Basketball Talk

Spurs hire Becky Hammon as first ever female NBA assistant coach

Becky-HammonThe San Antonio Spurs made history on Tuesday by announcing that they have hired Becky Hammon as an assistant coach for the 2014-2015 season. Hammon, who is currently in her 16th year with the WNBA’s San Antonio Stars, will retire as a player at the end of the season and join Gregg Popovich’s staff.

“I very much look forward to the addition of Becky Hammon to our staff,” Popovich said in an NBA.com statement. “Having observed her working with our team this past season, I’m confident her basketball IQ, work ethic and interpersonal skills will be a great benefit to the Spurs.”

Hammon was named one of the top 15 WNBA players of all time in July 2011. She ranks seventh in WNBA history with 5,809 points, fourth with 1,687 assists and sixth in games played with 445. The six-time WNBA All-Star is the Stars all-time leader in assists with 1,112 and three-point field goals with 493.

Hammon’s basketball resume speaks for itself. Gregg Popovich is not the type of coach who would make an addition to his staff for publicity, so you know Hammon must be regarded as a fantastic basketball mind. Her hire could help open a door that has long been closed.