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#pounditSunday, June 26, 2022

Stories by Dan Benton:

Kendrick Perkins makes big confession on podcast

Kendrick Perkins leans over

Nov 18, 2015; Oklahoma City, OK, USA; New Orleans Pelicans center Kendrick Perkins (5) reacts during the first quarter against the Oklahoma City Thunder at Chesapeake Energy Arena. Mandatory Credit: Mark D. Smith-USA TODAY Sports

You never pray for an athlete to be injured unless of course you’re Kendrick Perkins and that athlete is LeBron James.

During a recent appearance on the Old Man and the Three podcast, Perkins admitted that he once feared James. He also admitted that prior to Game 7 of a 2008 second-round matchup between the Boston Celtics and Cleveland Cavaliers, he prayed that James would suffer an injury.

“I got a confession,” Perkins said. “We played the Cleveland Cavaliers in 2008 and it was a Game 7. We just had lost Game 6. And I’m not going to lie, man. I was scared as hell going into that Game 7 against LeBron James. And this was the only time that I actually prayed that something happened to him at practice.

“I was like, ‘let us get breaking news that LeBron has torn his ACL or something.’ I did, bro. I’m not even lying and I’m not even exaggerating … this is real. That’s how terrified I was of LeBron.”

Co-hosts JJ Redick and Tommy Alter were completely taken aback by Perkins’ admission and even suggested editing those comments out. Perkins insisted they not and then continued…

“Let me tell you,” Perkins said. “We got by the Hawks and I remember it was Game 6 in Cleveland and he drove down the lane and dunked on [Kevin Garnett] and James Posey. I seen it in his eyes because I was sitting on the bench — I had a horrible game. And I kept saying to myself, ‘we’re not getting past this mother f—–r. He’s coming in here and he’s going to beat us.’ I could see it.

“I was scared. I was like, ‘this is just a different dude right now’ and I was scared. And I actually was sitting up there really praying that I woke up to news that some type of way he was going to be out of the game.”

Pressured further on the torn ACL comment, Perkins refused to back down. He would not have been satisfied if James had sprained his ankle or come down with the flu because he felt like The King would play through it. He remained steadfast that he prayed for a debilitating injury.

“I did not want him to play in this Game 7,” Perkins said.

James ended up playing in that Game 7 and dropped an impressive 45 points. But it wasn’t enough as Perkins and the Celtics not only sent the Cavaliers home, but went on to win the NBA championship.

Situation between Kyrie Irving, Nets getting ‘acrimonious’

Kyrie Irving looks on during a game

Mar 15, 2022; Orlando, Florida, USA; Brooklyn Nets guard Kyrie Irving (11) during the second half against the Orlando Magic at Amway Center. Mandatory Credit: Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

The sour relationship between Kyrie Irving and the Brooklyn Nets is only getting more sour. “Acrimonious” even.

That was the word ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski used to describe the growing dissent between the two parties on Friday. And by all accounts, an ugly divorce with added ramifications appears to be looming.

“Listen, people try to gain leverage,” Wojnarowski said. “If you’re Kyrie Irving, you’re trying to go get the Nets to give you a longer-term deal with more guaranteed money than they want to give. The Nets are trying to go in the other direction—shorter deal, incentivized, because he just hasn’t been on the floor as much as they’d like the couple years.

“This is getting acrimonious, and I think that’s the concern when you look at not just Kyrie Irving’s future in Brooklyn, but Kevin Durant’s future and whether they can hold this thing together right now.”

Irving, who holds a $36.9 million player option for the 2022-23 season, has also reportedly given the Nets a list of six destinations he’d prefer if a deal cannot be reached.

The 30-year-old Irving, who averaged 27.4 points and 5.8 assists, has until Wednesday to pick up or decline the option.

Sha’Carri Richardson avoids reporters after disappointing showing

Sha'Carri Richardson at a track event

May 9, 2021; Walnut, CA, USA; Sha’Carri Richardson (USA) celebrates after winning women’s 100m heat in 10.74 during the USATF Golden Games at Hilmer Lodge Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

Sha’Carri Richardson looked to bounce back this week after losing her berth in the Olympics last year, but that’s not what happened.

In a moment that left the athletic world in utter shock, Richardson failed to advance in the women’s 100 meter at the U.S. Track and Field Championships on Thursday. She finished with a time of just 11.31, which was well short of her finish earlier this month in New York (10.85).

Following the race, the 22-year-old Richardson wasn’t interested in speaking with the media. She rushed past a group of reporters without even acknowledging they were there, according to the New York Post.

While some may view that as a bad look, Richardson was undoubtedly dealing with an intense level of personal frustration. She’s a far better athlete and runner than she displayed on Thursday, and she likely just needed a few moments to herself.

The good news for Richardson is that she can still quality for worlds by finishing top three in the women’s 200 meters on Saturday, which she had won in New York with a time of 22.38.

Report: Teams preparing trade offers for Kevin Durant

Kevin Durant dribbles

Oct 11, 2021; Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, USA; Brooklyn Nets forward Kevin Durant (7) in action against the Philadelphia 76ers during the first quarter at Wells Fargo Center. Mandatory Credit: Bill Streicher-USA TODAY Sports

As the Brooklyn Nets continue to battle it out with Kyrie Irving, Kevin Durant has apparently begun to consider his own future.

Whether or not Durant eventually becomes available remains to be seen, but several NBA teams are reportedly preparing in the event he does. And that’s a significant development.

“I can tell you this,” Zach Lowe said during The Lowe Post podcast this week (26:46 mark). “This is what teams are doing. Teams are already operating under the… not the assumption, but we need to prepare for the contingency Kevin Durant is available via trade in six days, or seven days.”

Durant signed a contract extension with the Nets in 2021 and has four years remaining on that deal. However, there are some who believe his future with the team is tied directly to Irving’s.

“There are teams rooting for Irving to opt-out and walk away from the Nets, believing it would give them a chance to cobble together trade packages to acquire Durant,” ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski said this week. “As much as Durant asking out hangs over the Nets, there’s also the reality that four years on his contract will mean he has little, if any, voice on when or where he would be traded. This would be a small-market team’s dream, robbing a goliath of an MVP-level talent whose contractual circumstances would leave him little choice but to play for them.”

And for that reason, Lowe believes every single NBA team should prepare a “what-if” trade proposal for Durant.

“Every team in the league has to at least have a meeting about what we should offer for Kevin Durant,” said Lowe.

As Wojnarowski alludes, Durant will have little say over where he goes should a trade market develop, but expect several teams to be hot on his trail.

H/T: Grant Shirley

Video: Javy Baez sticks it to heckler after hitting grand slam

Javy Baez makes a hand signal

As Detroit Tigers shortstop Javier Baez readied himself in the on-deck circle prior to a third inning at-bat on Friday, a fan seated nearby began giving him the business.

“Nothing bad,” Baez told The Detroit News of what the fan was saying. “Just talking good trash.”

As good as the trash talk may have been, it wasn’t nearly as good as Baez’s response.

With the bases loaded and a 1-2 count, Baez connected on a hanging curveball and sent it 459 feet over the left-center wall. And the very moment the ball left his bat at 111 MPH, Baez made sure that trash-talking fan knew all about it.

“He was just talking good trash,” Baez said. “I turned back and they were just laughing. It was competition stuff. As soon as I hit that ball, the first thing that came to my mind was all this other stuff that he was saying. It was very fun.”

Given some of the negative interactions we’ve seen between sports fans and athletes in recent years, this is a breath of fresh air. Baez and the fans were just having a little bit of fun — Baez more so than the fans in the end.

Browns’ plan revealed if Deshaun Watson is suspended

Deshaun Watson on the practice field

Jun 14, 2022; Cleveland, Ohio, USA; Cleveland Browns quarterback Deshaun Watson (4) runs a play during minicamp at CrossCountry Mortgage Campus. Mandatory Credit: Ken Blaze-USA TODAY Sports

The future of Cleveland Browns quarterback Deshaun Watson remains very much uncertain. And the same can be said for his fellow quarterback, Baker Mayfield.

That leaves the Browns in an unexpected position. They were certain their quarterback woes would come to an end with the acquisition of Watson, but it’s only ended up muddying the waters further. And as the NFL deliberates on a potential suspension for Watson, Cleveland is busy creating contingency plans.

Aaron Wilson of Pro Football Network reports that the Browns will plug Jacoby Brissett in as their starter should Watson be suspended.

Brissett has emerged as the fallback option due to the team’s deteriorated relationship with Mayfield, who skipped minicamp and openly wants to be moved.

“I have no regrets of my time in Cleveland, of what I tried to give to that place,” Mayfield told the “Ya Never Know” podcast in April. “The respect thing is all going to be a personal opinion. I feel disrespected, 100%. I was told one thing, and they completely did another.

“That’s what I’m in the middle of right now. And you know what, I got my taste of it because I’ve had four different head coaches in four years. 2021 was miserable — bunch of different coordinators. I’m just looking for stabilization right now.”

The 29-year-old Brissett was a third-round pick of the New England Patriots in the 2016 NFL draft. He was traded to the Colts in 2017 and spent four seasons in Indianapolis before donning a Miami Dolphins uniform last year.

In 60 career games (37 starts), Brissett has completed 60.2% of his passes for 7,742 yards, 36 touchdowns and 17 interceptions. He’s also rushed the ball 178 times for 653 yards and 13 additional touchdowns.

Warriors owner throws shade at Timberwolves

Joe Lacob smiling

April 28, 2013; Oakland, CA, USA; Golden State Warriors co-owner Joe Lacob smiles against the Denver Nuggets during the first quarter in game four of the first round of the 2013 NBA playoffs at Oracle Arena. Mandatory Credit: Kyle Terada-USA TODAY Sports

Following their NBA Championship win on Thursday night, Golden State Warriors players and coaches began to spray venom in every direction. Anyone they felt had wronged them was a target. Even those who didn’t found themselves in the crosshairs, including the Minnesota Timberwolves who received a roundabout tongue-lashing from Joe Lacob.

Discussing the impact of Andrew Wiggins, who was acquired from Minnesota in a 2020 trade, Lacob implied that all it took to unlock his talent was a better culture.

“I’ve said that from Day 1, and Steve Kerr said the same thing. He’s a prototypical wing who just played for a not-so-good team, didn’t get perhaps the best culture,” Lacob said, via The Athletic. “We thought if you put him in our situation, he could be great. He didn’t have to be 1A. You saw what he did in these playoffs. He was really, really great.”

Wiggins averaged 16.5 points and 7.5 rebounds throughout the playoffs and proved to be exactly what the doctor ordered for Golden State. Over the last three Finals games, Wiggins brought down 35 rebounds. He was a rock.

As the team celebrated on the court following their win, Lacob was even caught on camera telling Wiggins, “I’m so proud of you.”

Despite Lacob’s praise of Wiggins and his Timberwolves slight, he stopped short of saying they’d extend the contract of the 27-year-old.

“You’ll have to see what we do,” Lacob said. “We got the draft and free agency coming up. We’ll form our team for next year after a lot of discussion the next couple weeks.”

Whatever the Warriors ultimately decide to do, there’s no denying they got more out of Wiggins than the Timberwolves had prior.

Warriors’ Kevon Looney made funny admission about locker room celebration

Kevon Looney wearing a headband

Jan 6, 2022; New Orleans, Louisiana, USA; Golden State Warriors center Kevon Looney (5) before their game against the New Orleans Pelicans at the Smoothie King Center. Mandatory Credit: Chuck Cook-USA TODAY Sports

Shortly after the Golden State Warriors downed the Boston Celtics to win the NBA championship, they vanished into their locker-room to celebrate. But said celebration could be heard outside the doors and it included a very specific chant that Kevon Looney later owned up to.

“Basically we were saying, f–k you, Draymond. That’s what we were saying. But it was fun, though. It was just a fun moment for us,” Otto Porter Jr. said.

“Fun moment. Draymond been yelling at us all year, too,” Looney added.

The chant wasn’t just a parody of what Warriors players had heard from Boston fans all series, it was an entertaining rib on Green himself.

Green is known to be pretty tough on and demanding of his teammates. Most brush it off but others, such as Kevin Durant, take it more to heart. Of course, when you’re winning and ultimately walk away with a title, it’s a much easier pill to swallow and poke fun at.

Objectively, it was a funny moment for the Warriors and likely a sense of relief for Green and his teammates. But you had better believe when they return to the court next season, they’re going to hear more of that chant from opposing fans.

Brian Urlacher shares which NFL QB was the toughest to face

Brian Urlacher

Chicago Bears legend Brian Urlacher faced a lot of tough opponents during his storied 13-year career, but one stood out above the rest.

During an appearance on The Pat McAfee Show earlier this week, Urlacher was asked about the quarterbacks he’s played and which presented the toughest challenge. Without hesitation, he named Chicago’s primary rival: Green Bay Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers.

“We couldn’t beat those [expletive],” Urlacher said. “We beat them like one time in 2010. You can put whatever receivers you want there, I don’t care who he is, he’ll make them better.”

And what separated Rodgers from the other quarterbacks Urlacher has faced? It’s a laundry list.

“Got a great arm, very accurate, smart,” Urlacher said. “It’s like Tom [Brady] and Peyton, [Manning] — they know all know exactly what your doing before the ball is even snapped there’s no key to that, they all know what’s going on. He threw four picks last year, how do you do that in 16-17 games?”

“It’s amazing how good of a position he puts his team in because he doesn’t turn the ball over. The guy is unbelievable at putting the ball on the money … You’re just not gonna fool him.”

Rodgers is 22-5 against the Bears throughout his career — the most wins he has against any NFL franchise. His 61 touchdown passes are also the most against any NFL team.

Steph Curry to receive major honor from his alma mater

Stephen Curry during a playoff game

Jun 13, 2022; San Francisco, California, USA; Golden State Warriors guard Stephen Curry (30) gestures after defeating the Boston Celtics in game five of the 2022 NBA Finals at Chase Center. Mandatory Credit: Kyle Terada-USA TODAY Sports

It’s been quite the week for Golden State Warriors superstar Steph Curry. On Thursday, he won his fourth NBA title and first Finals MVP. One day later, Curry learned that his No. 30 would be retired at his alma mater, Davidson.

Curry’s jersey retirement comes 13 years after he left Davidson to pursue his NBA dreams. He later returned to the University to earn his degree, officially graduating in May of this year.

“Steph made a commitment to Davidson and to his parents that he was going to graduate,” Davidson coach Bob McKillop said at the time, via the Charlotte Observer. “This was a superb, remarkable story about honoring a commitment, something that again shows that Steph prominently displays character traits that are so absent in our world today…. He is a multi-millionaire, and yet he still takes the time to finish his education.”

In addition to his jersey retirement, the August 31 ceremony will also see Curry inducted into Davidson Athletics Hall of Fame while simultaneously receiving his bachelor’s degree in sociology.

Curry is Davidson’s all-time leader in points, 3-pointers, free throws, field goals and steals.