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#pounditSunday, March 7, 2021


Donovan Mitchell, Rudy Gobert livid with officials after Jazz’s loss

Donovan Mitchell

Donovan Mitchell and Rudy Gobert were livid with the officials after their Utah Jazz lost 131-123 in overtime to the Philadelphia 76ers on Wednesday night.

Mitchell was ejected from the game late in OT after continuing to complain to officials.

He said after the loss that the game was “taken from us” and that the officiating was “getting out of hand.” Mitchell used some profanity in his postgame message about the refs.

Mitchell later showed an example on Twitter of a call he couldn’t believe.

Gobert shared a similar sentiment. The Jazz center said he felt “disrespected” by the officials. He said dealing with unfavorable officiating is a consequence of playing for a small-market team. He similarly used a curse word in his postgame comments.

Gobert even said he hoped the officials felt shame when they reviewed the game.

The sort of sentiment is nothing new for Gobert, who has complained about the officials in the past.

Lou Williams will retire if Clippers trade him?

Lou Williams

Any NBA team hoping to trade for Lou Williams before this year’s deadline is probably spit out of luck.

The LA Clippers guard made an interesting revelation about his NBA future on Wednesday. Replying to a troll who commented on one of his Instagram posts about the possibility of Williams being traded, the former Sixth Man of the Year indicated that he would retire if dealt by the Clippers.

“This my last stop champ,” Williams wrote. “I get traded it’s gonna be to LouWillVille lol.”

Williams is 34 and in his 16th NBA season. He will also be a free agent in the summer. While Williams’ numbers are down this season (12.4 points and 3.7 assists per game), he is playing fewer minutes and is actually shooting a career-high 39.6 percent from deep.

The trade gods have been circling Williams for several months now. But for a player who has already had a fruitful NBA career with over $80 million in earnings, retirement may be the most appealing route if he does get traded.

This viral dunk had fans wanting Zach LaVine in the Dunk Contest

Zach LaVine

Zach LaVine has proven his prowess at dunks as a two-time winner of the NBA’s Slam Dunk Contest. Now fans are hungry for more after he whetted their appetites.

Before Wednesday’s game between his Chicago Bulls and the New Orleans Pelicans, LaVine decided to show off in the layup line. Check out the dunk he unleashed.

He made that look just way too easy.

LaVine won the Dunk Contest as a rookie in 2015 and again in 2016. He said in February that he didn’t think he would participate in the competition, but fans are hoping he will change his mind.

For record, this is our favorite dunk from LaVine.

Alex Caruso turned down invite to compete in Dunk Contest

Alex Caruso

This year’s NBA Slam Dunk Contest was almost going to be the single greatest event in the history of Western civilization.

Los Angeles Lakers guard Alex Caruso revealed this week that he received an invite from the league to compete at the event but turned it down.

“[I’m] maybe looking forward to [the break] a little bit more,” said Caruso, per Bill Oram of The Athletic. “I’ll probably just play some golf with some buddies and leave it at that.”

The Dunk Contest will not have very much star power this year, especially without a cult hero like Caruso taking part. The three participants will be Obi Toppin of the New York Knicks, Anfernee Simons of the Portland Trail Blazers, and Cassius Stanley of the Indiana Pacers.

The 27-year-old fan favorite Caruso actually almost found his way into All-Star Weekend through the will of the people. But it sounds like he would rather spend the All-Star break working on his golf swing instead.

Video: Shaq gets hit with chair, breaks table in AEW match

Shaq wrestling table

Shaq is known to branch out well beyond the basketball world. The Basketball Hall of Famer has frequently found himself involved in the world of wrestling. His latest foray has been into All Elite Wrestling, where on Wednesday he had his first match.

Shaq teamed with Jade Cargill in a mixed tag against Cody Rhodes and Red Velvet at Daily’s Place in Jacksonville, Florida, on Wednesday’s episode of “Dynamite.”

He dished out some punishment, but also took a bit too. He got hit with a chair and also broke a table:

When Shaq does something, he really goes in and doesn’t hold back.

This match was the culmination of something that had been in the works for months.

In August, Shaq, who serves as an NBA analyst for TNT, signed a new contract with Turner Media. Through the deal, he negotiated to take part in some wrestling matches for AEW, which also airs on TNT. Shaq began picking a fight with Rhodes, which ultimately led to Wednesday’s match.

Report: Raptors coaching staff may have played role in COVID-19 outbreak

Toronto Raptors

The Toronto Raptors are set to return to action on Wednesday night for the first time since last Friday due to COVID-19 positives within the team.

The Raptors did not play Sunday’s scheduled game against the Chicago Bulls, and Wednesday’s game against the Detroit Pistons was pushed back a day after originally being slated for Tuesday. This was due to multiple player positives, and according to Shams Charania of The Athletic, one cause may have been the coaching staff’s inconsistent mask-wearing.

While the Raptors are not divulging which players have tested positive, Pascal Siakam, O.G. Anunoby, Fred VanVleet, Malachi Flynn, and Patrick McCaw are all unavailable Wednesday night due to health and safety protocols.

A coach playing a role in a virus outbreak also happened to one NFL team last season.

James Harden shares thoughts on reception he might get in Houston

James Harden

James Harden is returning to Houston on Wednesday night for the first time since he forced the Rockets to trade him, and it will be interesting to see how the Brooklyn Nets star is received at the Toyota Center. It sounds like Harden is hoping for a warm welcome.

In an interview with ESPN’s Malika Andrews on Tuesday, Harden spoke about his return to Houston and said he hopes to be “received with love.”

“The love and the appreciation that I’ve given to that city and that I still give to that city, I’m hoping that the favor can be returned,” Harden said.

The Rockets tried to repair their relationship with Harden before trading him, but the former MVP was not interested in making it work. He told Andrews that he never thought he would leave Houston but realized he had “different goals.”

“The communication between myself and the front office got a little shaky,” Harden said. “And now I look back at it and I see these other scenarios, other situations that are happening, specifically around other players that are in Houston, in different sports. And their transition is going very smooth. And I would’ve hoped for mine to go that smooth, but it didn’t. I am where I am now.”

Harden has donated money and resources to the Houston area in the wake of the winter storms that devastated the region recently. He said he still feels like he is part of the community and wants to help in any way he can.

We’d expect Harden to get a mixed reaction on Wednesday night, though the Rockets are doing their part to keep things classy. While Harden was a great player in Houston for eight seasons, he wasn’t exactly graceful on his way out the door. Some fans aren’t going to forget that.

Video: Dwyane Wade catches Shaq sleeping backstage

Shaquille O'Neal

Dwyane Wade caught his TNT crewmate Shaquille O’Neal sleeping on Tuesday.

Wade and Shaq are two of the analysts during TNT’s NBA coverage on Tuesday nights. Wade posted two videos on Instagram that showed Shaq appearing to take a nap backstage. Shaq seemed to have an astronaut-like powered air purifying respirator helmet on backstage.

Shaq appears to be trying to protect himself from COVID-19 even while sleeping. Luckily for TNT he was awake enough to provide commentary when they were on air. He gave some love to Devin Booker, who was originally left off the All-Star team.

Chris Paul expected to make jump from player to NBA head coach?

Chris Paul Suns

Chris Paul is recognized as being not only one of the most talented players in the NBA, but also one of the most cerebral. He has a high basketball IQ as a player, and is a team leader as well as player union leader. Given all that, it’s no surprise that many expect him to eventually become an NBA head coach.

Bleacher Report’s A. Sherrod Blakely published a story on Tuesday examining black assistant coaches in the NBA who could become head coaches. Many of the executives with whom he spoke identified Paul as a player who could make a leap to head coach. Paul’s leadership and ability to improve teams as a player were cited as characteristics that would make him appealing as a head coach.

If coaching is something in which Paul is interested, he would be a natural for a head coach job.

The 35-year-old has been in the NBA since 2005 and made 11 All-Star teams. He has been criticized for not reaching an NBA Finals, but his ability to improve teams is undeniable. What he did last season in OKC was a big boost to his resume, and he’s repeating the success in Phoenix this season.

He could very easily become the next Steve Nash and be hired as a head coach without prior coaching experience.

Twitter divided over Rockets’ decision to retire James Harden’s jersey

James Harden

James Harden will be getting his No. 13 jersey lifted to the rafters in Houston, and it is leading to a mixed bag of reactions from the Internet.

Rockets owner Tilman Fertitta said on Tuesday that the team plans to eventually retire Harden’s number.

“James Harden will always be a Rocket,” he said, per Jonathan Feigen of the Houston Chronicle. “Of course, we will retire his jersey. He made my first three years of owning this franchise unforgettable. The success he brought this franchise over eight years and the memories he created for our fanbase/community [are] truly remarkable.”

Many on Twitter thought that the honor was well-deserved for Harden.

Others, however, questioned the team’s decision, citing Harden’s lack of playoff success.

The Rockets have retired a total of six jersey numbers in the 54-year history of their franchise: Calvin Murphy, Moses Malone, Hakeem Olajuwon, Rudy Tomjanovich, Clyde Drexler, and Yao Ming. Three of those players (Murphy, Malone, and Yao) never won a ring with the team.

For Harden’s part, he accomplished a lot in his eight seasons with Houston. He made the All-Star team in every single season, earned seven All-NBA selections, led the league in scoring three times, led the league in assists one time, and won NBA MVP in 2017-2018. Harden also led the Rockets to four division titles and two conference finals berths, including a narrow seven-game loss to one of the greatest teams ever assembled in the Kevin Durant Golden State Warriors.

Regardless of how Harden’s time in Houston ended, those accolades are more than worthy of a jersey retirement. Still, one of those aforementioned Rockets legends sitting in the rafters may not exactly agree.