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Friday, January 18, 2019

Basketball

Gregg Popovich unsure if he will coach Spurs beyond this season

Gregg Popovich

Gregg Popovich may be in the final year of the most recent five-year extension he signed with the San Antonio Spurs, but it goes without saying that the franchise would have him as long as he’d like to stay. As of now, there is no guarantee that time frame will extend beyond the current season.

Popovich, who will turn 70 later this month, told Marc Stein of the New York Times on Wednesday that he is unsure if he will be back coaching next season.

“I don’t know the answer,” the five-time NBA champion said.

Popovich added that he has discussed his future with Spurs president RC Buford, and Buford basically said Pop can stay as long as he wants to.

“He’ll coach as long as he wants to coach,” the executive said.

The revamped Spurs are 26-20 and appear poised reach the postseason yet again. They have rebounded nicely after an 11-14 start, and they look like they are finally coming into their own with Kawhi Leonard out of the mix and DeMar DeRozan leading the way. Popovich is always going to have new challenges, but the question is how much energy he has remaining to tackle them.

Pop has already shown us this season that his sense of humor remains intact, but he may decide after the season that he has accomplished everything he possibly can. No one would blame him for that.

Draymond Green has great quote about DeMarcus Cousins joining Warriors

Draymond Green

DeMarcus Cousins is expected to make his Golden State Warriors debut on Friday after missing nearly a full year with a torn Achilles tendon, and you can count Draymond Green among those who believe the big man will make a massive impact.

Following the Warriors’ win over the New Orleans Pelicans on Wednesday, which was their sixth in a row, Green was asked what is about to change for Golden State when Cousins joins the lineup. He kept it pretty simple.

“All hell about to break loose, so it’s gonna be fun,” Green said.

While Achilles injuries are among the most difficult to bounce back from, Cousins has taken it slow with his rehab and has plenty to prove. The four-time All-Star signed a one-year deal at the midlevel exception with the Warriors with two goals in mind — winning a championship and showing teams he can still make a major impact after his injury.

Golden State has averaged an absurd 133.8 points per game during their current win streak, so there should be plenty of opportunities for Cousins to make his presence felt on and off the stat sheet. He seems to understand what his return is going to mean for the perception of the Warriors, and Boogie is embracing that like his teammates have done for the past several years.

DeMarcus Cousins: Warriors are ‘most hated team in sports’

DeMarcus Cousins

The Golden State Warriors are already starting to turn things on, and now they’ll be adding DeMarcus Cousins to the fold.

Cousins is set to return on Friday after missing nearly a year recovering from a torn Achilles’ tendon. Ahead of his return to action, Cousins spoke with ESPN’s Rachel Nichols for an interview. He says that the Warriors, who were already a target due to their success, will be even more of one thanks to his return.

“I don’t really pay attention to storylines,” Cousins told ESPN. “I mean, they’re gonna say what they have to say. They’re gonna add their opinions. We’re the most hated team in sports.”

Nichols pressed Cousins further on that point, asking if he was exaggerating about the Warriors being the most hated team. He asked who else would top them, and she mentioned the Yankees or Cowboys.

“Well, put us up there. I would say the Warriors are for sure. You know they hate Kevin (Durant). They hate me. I think the only guy they really like is Stephen (Curry). Actually, they may hate him as well. They hate Draymond Green. But I mean, it is what it is. I can’t worry about that.”

People dislike the Warriors because they’re too good. They’re probably not the most hated team in sports though. That likely belongs to another team we can think of.

Kyrie Irving called LeBron James to apologize over leadership issues

LeBron James Kyrie Irving

Kyrie Irving is showing tremendous growth as a player and as a leader. His latest anecdote expresses that fact.

Irving said after his Boston Celtics’ 117-108 that he recently called LeBron James to apologize for not having a better understanding of how leadership works on a championship-contending NBA team.

“I had to call (LeBron James) and tell him I apologize for being that young player wanted everything at his fingertips,” Irving said. “I wanted everything to be at my threshold. I wanted to be the guy that led us to the championship. I wanted to be the leader, I wanted to be all that. The responsibility of being the best player in the world and leading a team is something that’s not meant for many people. What that brought me back to is: how do I get the best out of this group and helping them realize what it takes to win a championship.”

Irving forced his way out of Cleveland prior to last season because he was frustrated over being second-in-command to LeBron. LeBron said he was ready to turn things over to Irving, but it was too late. Kyrie’s trade to Boston gave him the chance to be a leader on a talented team, but now he’s seeing just how hard it is to get teammates on that championship level.

Understanding that he was foolish for getting frustrated with LeBron over the matter and trying to relay that message to his current teammates shows tremendous recognition.

Kyrie Irving has funny quote about Celtics drama

Kyrie Irving

Kyrie Irving and the Boston Celtics made a statement in a win over the Toronto Raptors on Wednesday, one that had Irving addressing the drama surrounding the team.

Irving scored 27 points and dished out 18 assists in the 117-108 victory. He also delivered the knockout punch — a huge 3-pointer from deep to help seal the game.

Afterwards, Irving was interviewed by ESPN’s Lisa Salters, who asked about some of the recent headlines surrounding the team.

“What’s the NBA without a little drama?” Irving said in response. “For us, it’s literally about growing. That’s all. Maturing as a group, maturing as individuals and coming together at a time like this. It’s great to see that we can still smile and still compete at a very high level against the best. We just gotta become more consistent. Once that happens we’ll run over everybody in this league, I can guarantee.”

He’s right. There is always drama in the NBA, and that’s some of the fun. It’s part of the path for many competitive teams. This season’s Warriors squad has endured plenty of drama, while past LeBron teams always seem to have had it.

The drama with the Celtics began after a loss on Saturday when Irving visibly reprimanded Gordon Hayward for a pass on the final play of the game and culminated with Irving saying the team’s young players don’t understand what it takes to win a championship. While some understood his remarks, at least one teammate took issue with it.

Brad Stevens has great quote about Nike’s ‘smart’ shoe

Brad Stevens

Brad Stevens jokingly had pretty high expectations for Nike’s new self-lacing, “smart” shoes.

During Wednesday’s game between the Boston Celtics and Toronto Raptors, Jayson Tatum wore Nike’s new Adapt BB shoes, which can be loosened or tightened by manual touch or by using the Nike Adapt app on a smartphone.

Prior to the game, Celtics head coach Brad Stevens joked that he hopes the shoes make Tatum “superfast.”

Tatum was among the group of athletes to put the shoes through rigorous tests at Nike’s world headquarters. During Boston’s 117-108 victory, Tatum scored 16 points on 6-of-16 shooting to go along with 10 rebounds. It had to be the shoes.

Bill Belichick lookalike fan gets booed at Grizzlies game

Bill Belichick

Memphis Grizzlies fans had no love for a Bill Belichick lookalike fan who attended Wednesday night’s game against the Milwaukee Bucks.

During the first half of the game at the FedEx Forum, Peyton Manning, who played his college ball at Tennessee, was shown on the jumbotron and got a big applause.

According to radio host Chris Vernon, a Belichick lookalike was shown afterwards. Grizzlies reporter Sharon Brown says the fan got booed.

The fan really did look like Belichick with his hairstyle and cutoff hoodie. He ranks pretty highly on our list of lookalike fans — and there are lots of them out there.