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Tuesday, June 27, 2017

Stories by Steve DelVecchio:

Kevin Durant quietly congratulates Russell Westbrook on winning MVP

Kevin Durant Russell Westbrook

It’s no secret that Kevin Durant does not have the best relationship with Russell Westbrook, but that didn’t stop the Golden State Warriors star from congratulating his former teammate on winning the NBA MVP Award.

The comment section of a YouTube channel counts, right?

On Tuesday, Durant shared some feedback on the NBA awards in the “community” section of his YouTube channel. He gave Westbrook a shout-out.

“In fact, I called out this years MVP years ago so you gotta respect my knowledge for the game lol. Huge congrats to Russell Westbrook on MVP, that boy went out there and was a created player on 2k all year, F—-n balled out,” Durant wrote. “Gotta respect it!”

Of course, Westbrook’s MVP season was only made possible by Durant bailing on the Thunder. That allowed Westbrook to have unlimited offensive opportunities, and he ended up averaging a triple double with 31.6 points, 10.7 rebounds and 10.4 assists per game.

Durant has maintained that the reported iciness between him and Westbrook has been overblown, but he appeared to take a subtle shot at Russ with his wardrobe selection recently.

Isaiah Thomas has great reaction to getting All-Defensive team vote

Isaiah Thomas

Isaiah Thomas inexplicably received a vote for the NBA’s All-Defensive teams on Monday, and even he knows the person who voted for him had to have been smoking something very powerful.

To put it nicely, Thomas struggles on the defensive side of the ball. The 5-foot-9 point guard is one of the best scorers in the game, but the other end of the floor isn’t really his speciality. That’s why Thomas got such a kick out of the lone vote he got.

In terms of real plus-minus, which measures defensive efficiency for NBA players, Thomas ranked 467th out of 468 eligible players last season at -3.89. Even if you’re not into advanced metrics, that gives you an idea of just how asinine the All-Defensive team vote was.

Thomas even poked fun at himself during the playoffs when a reporter asked about his defense.

Thomas’ teammate Avery Bradley, on the other hand, is one of the best defenders in basketball. Thomas was one of several players who expressed their disgust on Twitter when Bradley was left off the All-Defensive teams.

Fortunately, Bradley is almost good enough to play defense for both himself and Thomas.

Terry Francona cracks joke about Brad Mills while updating health

Terry Francona

Terry Francona had to leave Monday night’s game against the Texas Rangers when he began to feel ill, but the Cleveland Indians provided a positive update on the manager’s health on Tuesday. It was accompanied by a cheap — but entertaining — joke from Francona.

According to a press release from the team, doctors evaluated Francona and do not believe the 58-year-old is dealing with any “major health issues” at this time. Francona, however, offered a diagnosis of his own.

It’s good to see that Francona’s sense of humor, which was on display with this Chris Sale joke over the winter, is fully intact. Brad Mills has worked under him for many years, so the two have a great relationship. If Francona were allergic to Mills, his managing career would have been over long ago.

Francona has dealt with a variety of health issues throughout his career, and he left a game two weeks ago with similar symptoms to the ones he was experiencing on Monday. He was diagnosed with dehydration then.

Report: Celtics trying to add both Paul George, Gordon Hayward

Gordon Hayward Utah Jazz

The Boston Celtics chose not to trade the third overall pick in last week’s NBA Draft, but that does not necessarily mean they are in for a boring offseason.

Adrian Wojnarowski of The Vertical is reporting that the Celtics are “pursuing an aggressive summer plan” that involves them signing Gordon Hayward as a free agent and trading for Paul George. According to Wojnarowski, the Celtics must first make sure they have a commitment from Hayward before they clear the necessary salary cap space to acquire George.

One potential issue could be that the official start of free agency is not until July, and the Pacers may be unwilling to wait until then to move George.

Woj goes on to say that signing Blake Griffin and then trading for George is another option for Boston if Hayward chooses to sign a max extension with the Utah Jazz or ink a deal elsewhere. Griffin, of course, would be leaving a lot of money on the table if he chose to bolt Los Angeles.

George has been linked to the Celtics all offseason, and a previous report claimed Boston has one very good reason to give up assets for him in a trade. Celtics president of basketball operations Danny Ainge has been stockpiling first-round picks for years, and the expectation has been that he will eventually make a big splash or two. Creating a starting lineup of Isaiah Thomas, Avery Bradley and Al Horford to go along with George and Hayward would certainly qualify.

Michael Jordan shares great motivational message with Russell Westbrook

Russell Westbrook is one of the most important members of the Jordan Brand family, so it’s no surprise His Airness himself reached out to the Oklahoma City Thunder star after Westbrook was named NBA MVP on Monday night.

Jordan, who is considered by many to be the greatest basketball player of all time, won six championships during his career. But before M.J. won his first title, he was named NBA MVP in 1988. He was quick to remind Westbrook of that.

Westbrook and the Thunder had better do something quick about the Golden State Warriors if the 28-year-old wants to follow the same career path as Jordan.

Like Jordan, Westbrook plays with a ton of emotion on the court. We even saw a side of him we’re not used to seeing when he accepted his NBA MVP award (video here). The note from Jordan must have meant a great deal to him.

Report: Paul George has reached out to Klay Thompson about playing together

Paul George

Paul George has reportedly reached out to Klay Thompson about playing together, but that doesn’t mean Golden State Warriors fans should get too excited.

According to Kelenna Azubuike of NBC Sports Bay Area, George is intrigued by the thought of joining forces with Thompson — in 2019.

George can opt out of the final year of his contract and become a free agent next summer, but Thompson is not eligible for free agency until after the 2018-2019 season. With all indications being that George wants to play for his hometown Lakers, perhaps he is thinking years down the road about how to turn L.A. into a title contender.

While it will be difficult for the Warriors to keep Thompson along with the rest of their star players, Kevin Durant is reportedly planning to do his part to make it a possibility.

La La Anthony says she remains ‘best of friends’ with Carmelo

Carmelo Anthony

Carmelo Anthony and his wife may end up getting a divorce eventually, but La La insists a split would never harm the couple’s friendship.

In an appearance on the “Wendy” show with Wendy Williams Tuesday, La La Anthony all but confirmed that she is currently separated from Carmelo. However, she said the two are not in the process of getting divorced.

“Not right now,” La La said. “Marriages are tough — you know that, we all know that. It’s filled with ups and downs. We’re just going through a (tough) time right now, but him and I are the best of friends and our number one commitment is to our son Kiyan. We have to set an example for Kiyan and that’s what’s most important.”

La La said that Kiyan, the 10-year-old son she has with Carmelo, remains both hers and Carmelo’s top priority. She also praised the New York Knicks star for being an excellent father.

“I would absolutely never say a bad thing about my husband,” La La said. That’s my son’s father and he is an amazing dad. You could not ask for a better dad.”

When asked if there is a chance she could work things out with Carmelo, La La did not rule anything out.

“I don’t know what the future holds,” she said. “I just know that we’re doing an incredible job of being parents to our son. We are the best of friends. I’ve been with Melo since he was 19 years old. You’re not with somebody that long and it just goes out the window. I love him with all of my heart.”

La La celebrated her birthday this week, and Carmelo referred to her as “MY EARTH” in an Instagram post.

When Williams asked about the rumors that Carmelo wants to get back together with La La, Mrs. Anthony joked by responding “why wouldn’t he?” Of course, the bizarre report about Carmelo being angry with some comments Chris Rock made about La La came up, and La La said it was overblown.

Meanwhile, Carmelo’s name continues to surface in trade rumors. It doesn’t seem like many teams are interested in giving up assets for him, so there’s a possibility the Knicks could end up buying him out.

Vince Young blasts Jeff Fisher, vows to ‘expose’ him

Vince Young

The relationship between Vince Young and former NFL head coach Jeff Fisher ended on sour terms back in 2010, and Young has since stated that he regrets butting heads with Fisher. That doesn’t mean the two-time Pro Bowler thinks it was his fault.

In an interview with Greg Bishop of Sports Illustrated that was published on Tuesday, Young said he didn’t want to get into his issues with Fisher in great detail because he is “saving that for my book.” He did, however, provide a preview of what may be to come.

But Young can’t help himself. He may believe he’s moved on from what transpired in Tennessee, but broach the subject, and he appears angry, conflicted. “I’m going to expose his ass,” he says of Fisher, who he claims stripped all the fun from football, pushing Young until he broke. Whereas Brown had been the father figure Young always wanted, Fisher, he says, acted like someone saddled with an unwanted stepson. Family members, close friends, even Young’s pastor describe Fisher as “jealous” and “envious” of the QB.

How exactly does Young plan to “expose” Fisher? The 34-year-old provided some examples. He claims Fisher used to share private conversations with local reporters after Young thought he was speaking to the coach in confidence. Young also said Fisher would call meetings with the former Texas star and not show up for them because he was out fishing with former Tennessee quarterback Kerry Collins.

Then there was the time Young was “two minutes” late for a team flight because he got caught waiting behind a funeral procession, and Fisher chose to leave without him.

Young describes an incident from November of his rookie season when he left his ID at home before a road game against the Eagles. As he tells it, he went to retrieve it and was then held up by a funeral procession en route to the team plane, so he called Fisher to say he would be two minutes late. Young had seen Fisher hold the plane for other players, but this time he did not. “I feel like Fisher did that s— on purpose,” he says. “I’m pulling in, seeing them pull the door down. I can hear the team yelling.” As Young stood on the tarmac, grounded, he could only watch as the team he was supposed to lift into the playoffs soared into the sky without him.

At (Steve) McNair’s urging, Young chartered a private jet to Philly instead. In his defense Fisher cited team policy for not waiting. Young wasn’t having it. “Where I’m from,” he told the coach, “that’s like saying F you.”

While it only provides one side of the story, there is a lot more interesting information in Bishop’s feature. From the way Young was talking, it’s safe to assume Fisher never returned that letter Young spoke about sending the coach several years back.

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