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Wednesday, April 24, 2019

Basketball

Steve Kerr: Russell Westbrook’s approach to media is ‘dangerous for the league’

Russell Westbrook

Russell Westbrook’s patented hostility towards the media is a source of humor for many, but that is not the case for Golden State Warriors coach Steve Kerr.

Addressing reporters after his team defeated the LA Clippers on Sunday to take a 3-1 lead in their first-round playoff series, Kerr commented on the “next question” approach popularized by the Oklahoma City Thunder star.

“I think it’s dangerous for the league,” he said, according to Ethan Strauss of The Athletic.

“I just feel that we have to be very careful as a league,” Kerr went on. “We’re in a good place right now. Very popular. Fans love the game, the social dynamic, the fashion. But more than anything they love the connection they feel to the players. I think it’s important for the players to understand that it’s a key dynamic to this league. I don’t think this is a healthy dynamic, for this league, for any player, any team, any local media, any national media.”

The former MVP Westbrook is notoriously combative towards the press, and we’ve seen many examples of his “next question” M.O. just this season alone. However, much of that antagonism seems to be directed towards one person, Berry Tramel of The Oklahoman, a local reporter whom Westbrook dislikes.

“It’s all part of the business,” continued Kerr. “You’ve got to feed information to the fans. You don’t have to give a great answer, but it’s dangerous when you go down that path of no communication because one of the reasons people like the league right now is we have a lot of great players, really good guys who handle themselves well. So don’t kill that. You’ve got to keep that going. That’s a big part of the business.”

The accessibility of star players is definitely one of the big advantages that the NBA has relative to other leagues. While Westbrook is usually responsive to non-Tramel media members, Kerr is right that the style could have adverse consequences if it spreads throughout the Association.

Klay Thompson already looking ahead to Rockets in playoffs

Klay Thompson

Klay Thompson is already looking ahead to the Houston Rockets.

Thompson had a monster game in the Golden State Warriors’ 113-105 victory over the LA Clippers in Game 4 of their first-round playoff series on Sunday to give the team a 3-1 series lead. He went 12/20 from the field including 6/9 on threes for 32 points, which was second to Kevin Durant, who had 33.

Thompson was interviewed by ABC’s Lisa Salters after the game and indicated he was already thinking about whom they will face in the next round of the postseason.

Maybe now is a good time to remind Klay about how the 2016 NBA Finals went when they were up 3-1? Not to say that the Clippers are the Cavaliers, but overlooking the team in front of you is never a good idea.

If Golden State does advance as expected, they would likely face Houston. The Rockets lead their series with the Utah Jazz 3-0 and will have a chance to complete the sweep in Game 4 on Monday.

Dirk Nowitzki takes out full-page ad thanking Mavericks fans

Dirk Nowitzki

Dirk Nowitzki has officially wrapped up his 21-year NBA career, and he accomplished the rare feat of spending the entire time with one team. It goes without saying that he built a strong relationship with the fans during that span, and that was reflected in the way he thanked them over the weekend.

Nowitzki took out a full-page ad in the Dallas Morning News on Sunday thanking Mavericks fans “from the bottom of my heart.”

Nowitzki received some outstanding ovations from opposing fans during his farewell tour this season, and he is one of the most respected players in league history. He was one of the main reasons the Mavericks won their first championship in franchise history back in 2011, and fans in Dallas will never forget it.

DeMar DeRozan fined for throwing basketball at referee

DeMar DeRozan

DeMar DeRozan had to know he’d face some discipline for his actions during Saturday night’s Game 4 after throwing a basketball at a referee, and the league has come down quickly.

DeRozan was fined $25,000 for his actions, but will face no further consequences for his ill-advised basketball toss at referee Scott Foster in his team’s Game 4 loss.

The discipline seems about right. DeRozan was ejected for his actions and he’ll be lighter in the pocketbook for it, but that’s about it. The Spurs will hope for a better performance in Game 5, and DeRozan will aim to keep his composure a bit better.

Watch: Myles Turner posterizes Gordon Hayward with monster dunk

The Indiana Pacers were trying to stave off elimination in Game 4 against the Boston Celtics on Sunday, and Myles Turner did everything he could to inject energy into his team in the first half. That turned out to be very bad news for Gordon Hayward.

With the Pacers trailing 42-37 late in the second quarter, Turner abused Hayward with a massive dunk. Hayward never stood a chance of stopping it, but you have to give him credit for getting in the way.

The Pacers probably don’t have a chance of winning the series against Boston, but at least Turner left their fans with that highlight.

Report: Nets feel Joel Embiid should have multiple flagrant 2 fouls

Joel Embiid 76ers

The Brooklyn Nets were furious with the officiating in their Eastern Conference quarterfinal against the Philadelphia 76ers, and now we know why.

According to Adrian Wojnarowski of ESPN, the Nets are “livid” that Joel Embiid’s flagrant 1 fouls in Games 2 and 4 were not classified as flagrant 2s. This was apparently what led to Nets GM Sean Marks entering the referee locker room after Game 4, an act which earned him a fine and suspension.

In addition, Marks was attempting to back his team and the way they’re playing in the series.

Marks and the Nets have a point on Embiid’s Game 2 flagrant, considering he himself felt he should have been ejected for it. Despite this, the league opted against retroactively upgrading it. The Nets’ case on Embiid’s Game 4 flagrant is a lot weaker, however.

The series has been a very combative one, and apparently Marks and the Nets are fine with that. They just want it officiated more tightly, especially in Embiid’s case.

Nets’ GM suspended for entering referee locker room after Game 4

Game 4 of the Eastern Conference quarterfinal between the Brooklyn Nets and Philadelphia 76ers was heated on the court, and it seems that spilled over after the game in a certain way.

The NBA announced Sunday that Nets general manager Sean Marks had been fined and suspended for a game for entering the referee locker room after his team’s 112-108 loss in Game 4.

It’s not clear what, specifically, had Marks angry enough to try to access the referee locker room. His team saw a lead slip away late as they fell behind 3-1 in the series, and that came after things got heated between the two teams on the floor. The stage is set for a very intense Game 5 as the Nets try to fend off elimination.