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Tuesday, November 12, 2019

Basketball

Watch: Shaq receives emotional welcome back from TNT crew after sister’s death

Shaq TNT

Shaq received an emotional welcome back to the show from the TNT crew on Thursday night’s edition of “NBA Tip-Off” before the Charlotte Hornets-Boston Celtics game.

Shaq had been away from the show after his sister, Ayesha Harrison-Jex, died from cancer. Two weeks ago, host Ernie Johnson explained how Shaq was struggling with his emotions following his sister’s death, saying the former center’s world had been rocked.

So here’s the welcome back O’Neal received, which included hugs from EJ, Kenny Smith and Charles Barkley.

Shaq was warmed up and got right back into it with the crew. He and Barkley wasted no time goofing around about the women in San Antonio, as Chuck has done so many times over the years.

Shaq has been with TNT since retiring after the 2010-2011 season.

Watch: Kemba Walker emotional in introductions during return to Charlotte

Kemba Walker was emotional during his return to Charlotte on Thursday night.

Walker was drafted by the Hornets franchise in 2011 and spent eight seasons with the team before leaving to sign with the Boston Celtics in free agency. His new team visited his old team at Spectrum Center in Charlotte, and Walker was emotional during introductions. You could see him get teary-eyed:

Walker wanted to remain with the Hornets, but team owner Michael Jordan has a strict rule about not going beyond the salary cap, so the team did not re-sign the three-time All-Star guard due to contract issues.

Walker was a really good player for the Hornets during his eight seasons with the team and left because the team would not pay him as much as Boston would. The fans understand that, which is why he received such a warm reception. He appeared to be touched by it.

Clippers fined $50,000 by NBA for Doc Rivers’ comments on Kawhi Leonard

Doc Rivers

The NBA announced on Thursday that they have fined the LA Clippers $50,000 over Doc Rivers’ comments on the the Kawhi Leonard situation.

Leonard did not play in a nationally-televised game on ESPN Wednesday against the Milwaukee Bucks due to his ongoing “load management” plan.

Clippers coach Doc Rivers said Wednesday that Kawhi “feels great,” which led to further anger from fans who had paid to watch the great matchup and ended up seeing a Clippers team without their best player.

If Leonard “feels great,” then why isn’t he playing, fans wondered?

The Clippers argued to the league that Leonard is dealing with ongoing knee trouble, which is an argument the league accepted in allowing Leonard to miss the game under the league’s resting policy.

The league said in their statement about the fine that they determined Leonard is managing a knee condition.

Adam Silver has established himself as a player-friendly commissioner who supports the players’ desires to keep their bodies in optimal conditions, even if that means missing games. What they don’t want is the perception that players are missing games for no reason, which is why they fined the Clippers. Rivers’ comments make the league and team look worse for the suggestion that they are sitting a healthy player.

Reddit poster argues James Harden’s road stats are affected by strip clubs

James Harden

James Harden is not the only NBA player who enjoys patronizing gentlemen’s clubs while on the road, but the Houston Rockets star has a reputation for being a frequent customer. Following Harden’s poor performance against the Heat in Miami last weekend, a fan couldn’t help wonder if one of Harden’s favorite hobbies could have a direct impact on his on-court performance.

Reddit user AngryCentrist, a Rockets fan, went to great lengths this week to see if Harden’s performance in road games could be positively or negatively impacted by the quality of gentlemen’s clubs in the city in which the Rockets are playing. His methodology was actually quite complicated. He compared Harden’s stats in road games to his overall stats over the past four seasons and came up with a formula for determining which games Harden was “sub-par” in or “very sub-par.”

In order to determine which cities had the best strip clubs, AngryCentrist used the average google review rating for the first 10 strip clubs in each city that showed up in a Google search. You can see more of the work here.

The analysis is extremely in-depth, and the conclusion is hilarious. The Reddit professor found that there is a correlation between Harden’s performance in road games and the quality of strip clubs in the cities where the games take place. Harden’s best performance, according to the research, comes in the city with the “worst” strip clubs, which is Toronto. His worst performances came in Miami, which has the “best” strip clubs.

Could defensive scheme, matchups, and other basketball factors play a role in Harden’s performance on the road? Of course, but you have to give this guy credit for his statistical analysis. Heck, Harden has supposedly spent so much money at strip clubs that one honored him the way an NBA team would. It was worth looking into.

Michael Jordan on load management: ‘You’re paid to play 82 games’

Michael Jordan

There has been an ongoing debate in the NBA for several years now over resting seemingly healthy players just to manage their minutes, and we know which side of it Kawhi Leonard is on. You can probably guess where Michael Jordan stands, but we’ll give you a hint — it’s not with Kawhi.

Orlando Magic coach Steve Clifford, who was the head coach for Jordan’s Charlotte Bobcats/Hornets from 2013-2018, said he does not believe in healthy players sitting out one leg of a back-to-back set just for rest. Clifford said he inherited that mentality from Jordan, whose message was quite simple.

“Our guys aren’t used to sitting on the second game of a back-to-back. We’re not sitting guys just to sit,” Clifford said this week, via Stefan Bondy of the New York Daily News. “For me, my background frankly, it all goes back to expectations. Being with Michael in Charlotte, Michael used to tell them every year, you’re paid to play 82 games.”

Jordan played in all 82 games in nine different seasons during his Hall of Fame career. He never wanted to come off the floor, but load management is similar to a pitch count in baseball. It’s a relatively new concept, and there are plenty of teams and coaches around the NBA that believe in it. Dallas Mavericks coach Rick Carlisle is one of them.

“These guys now wear GPS things during practice, they track all the information. To my knowledge they’re not wearing them in games yet, but at some point that will happen. It’s important information,” Carlisle said. “The professional athlete has got to be trained in a certain way. We look at it very closely… In my view it’s not something you just write off analytic rhetoric. It’s real and it’s important. We try to stay on top of it.”

Carlisle added that managing reps is something that should start at a young age and is a “very serious topic.” New York Knicks coach David Fizdale, who heard some grumbling when he played 19-year-old RJ Barrett 41 minutes in a blowout loss to the Sacramento Kings recently, called the concerns “baffling” and stated younger players can handle it.

Of course, Leonard credited load management for his outstanding performance in the postseason with the Toronto Raptors last year. The Los Angeles Clippers are trying to follow the same formula, and the NBA made it clear this week that they are within their rights to do that. If Jordan owned the team, it probably wouldn’t fly.

Marcus, Markieff Morris sign with Roc Nation Sports

Marcus Morris

Marcus Morris has found a new agent as he and his twin brother Markieff have signed with Roc Nation Sports.

The Jay-Z-founded agency announced the news in tandem with the twin brothers via social media on Wednesday.

The news is significant given what happened with Marcus over the summer.

Marcus was a free agent and originally agreed to a two-year, $20 million deal with the San Antonio Spurs. They even traded Davis Bertans to make room for him. The New York Knicks had a deal fall through and were able to offer Morris more money for one season and signed him to a one-year, $15 million deal.

The choice to back out was Morris’ and led to a split between him and previous agent Rich Paul. The brothers were looking for agents after that and found a new home with Roc Nation Sports, whose NBA clients include Kyrie Irving, Danny Green and Caris Levert, among others.

Marcus has been dealing with knee tendinitis for the Knicks this season. Markieff is in his first season with the Detroit Pistons.

Eric Bledsoe forgot the rules of basketball on this inbound play

Eric Bledsoe

Eric Bledsoe forgot the rules of basketball for a minute on one boneheaded play during his Milwaukee Bucks’ 129-124 win over the LA Clippers on Wednesday night.

Bledsoe was inbounding the ball in the fourth quarter of the game and forgot that he actually had to pass it. Instead, he just began dribbling.

Our guess is that Bledsoe wanted to test the refs to make sure they were paying attention. And they were.

Despite the embarrassing play, Bledsoe scored 20 points on 8/14 shooting and was a big factor in the Bucks’ win over the Kawhi Leonard-less Clippers.