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#pounditThursday, August 6, 2020

Basketball

Reds take LeBron James-themed shot at Indians on Twitter

This week’s series between Major League Baseball’s two Ohio teams is getting a little personal.

Ahead of Wednesday’s game against the Indians in Cleveland, the Cincinnati Reds tweeted some action shots of their players on the field and got in a shot at the city of Cleveland, saying it was so nice that LeBron James left it twice.

The Indians then hit back by pointing out that Cincinnati didn’t even have an NBA team. The Reds replied that their NBA team had never lost a game.

James, who indeed left Cleveland for the second time in 2018 to join the Los Angeles Lakers, was actually a pretty big fan of the Indians. It is probably a lot harder to support them now that he is thousands of miles away though.

Still, The King brought Cleveland to five total NBA Finals appearances and won the city their first professional sports championship in 52 years with the Cavaliers’ 2016 title. Thus, the Indians probably aren’t sweating the Reds’ Twitter fingers too much.

Lou Williams cleared to return to Clippers after quarantine

Lou Williams

Lou Williams missed the Los Angeles Clippers’ first two games of the NBA restart over a decision he made when leaving the Orlando bubble, but the veteran guard is officially eligible to return.

Williams has cleared his 10-day quarantine and will play on Tuesday night against the Phoenix Suns, his agent told Shams Charania of The Athletic.

Williams left the Orlando bubble prior to the resumption of the season because of a death in the family. While he was away, a photograph posted by a fan showed him at the Magic City strip club in Atlanta. Players who leave the bubble and return have to quarantine for a minimum of four days and test negative for COVID-19, but the NBA forced Williams to quarantine for 10 days after it was confirmed that he went to the club.

While Williams insists he only went to the strip club to pick up his favorite meal, that did not matter to the NBA. For what it’s worth, a dancer at the club says Williams also paid for dances from multiple women.

The Clippers have gone 1-1 since the season resumed, and having Williams back in the lineup will be a nice boost for them. The former NBA Sixth Man of the Year is averaging 18.7 points and 5.7 assists per game this year.

Gregg Popovich has flattering player comparison for Nikola Jokic

Gregg Popvich is officially a believer in the Church of Nikola Jokic.

Speaking on Wednesday after his San Antonio Spurs fell to the Denver Nuggets, Popovich offered a rather flattering player comparison for Jokic.

“He’s a reincarnation of Larry Bird,” said Popovich of the Nuggets All-Star big man, per Marc Stein of the New York Times.

Jokic dropped 25 points, four rebounds, and 11 assists in the win over the Spurs. He is indeed somewhat reminiscent of Bird for his passing ability for his size as well as his unique ability as a three-level scorer.

While the compliment is obviously some very high praise from Popovich, who has seen many decades worth of elite talents on the basketball court, we probably know of a slightly better reincarnation of Larry Legend out there.

Zion Williamson says minutes restriction is ‘very tough’

Zion Williamson

Zion Williamson’s bubble experience has been more like a bubble-wrapping experience thus far, and he is having difficulty with the imposed limits.

The New Orleans Pelicans star opened up to reporters on Sunday about the minutes restriction that the team has had him on for their seeding games.

“It’s very tough, to be honest, because as soon as I start to break that sweat, I look over, that horn is for me and I have to come out the game,” Williamson said, per Andrew Lopez of ESPN. “Also, when I do catch the flow of the game, like I said, that horn goes off and it’s for me.

“It’s still fun but I guess, like you said, it’s not to that full extent as y’all are used to seeing,” he went on. “I’m a competitor, I want to stay on the court. When I’m coming out of the game, my competitive side of me that I want to stay in. I guess that does affect the fun a little bit, but not too much.”

The No. 1 overall pick has been limited to playing in bursts thus far in Orlando and is mostly off the floor to close out quarters. Williamson was held to 15 minutes in Thursday’s loss to the Utah Jazz and 14 minutes in Sunday’s loss to the LA Clippers (though that game was a blowout).

The Pelicans are fighting for their playoff lives right now, so every game is very important. That may also be part of why Williamson is struggling with the playing restrictions, but the team may not be lifting them any time soon.

Video: Giannis Antetokounmpo restrained from going after Donta Hall

The Milwaukee Bucks and Brooklyn Nets squared off in a matinee game on Tuesday, but the early tip-off certainly did not result in a lack of enthusiasm from the players.

Giannis Antetokounmpo and Nets forward Donta Hall came very close to getting into a physical confrontation in the first half. Hall aggressively shoved Giannis to the floor while the two were fighting for rebounding position, and Antetokounmpo did not appreciate it. He sprung up and was about to go after Hall before being restrained by an official. You could clearly see the reigning NBA MVP tell the ref, “I’m gonna f— him up.”

That is not the first time we have seen Giannis go after an opponent over what he perceived to be excessive contact.

The Bucks went into halftime trailing against the Nets, who are playing without Kyrie Irving, Kevin Durant, DeAndre Jordan, Spencer Dinwiddie and more. Perhaps that added to Antetokounmpo’s frustration.

LeBron James responds to Donald Trump saying he won’t watch NBA

LeBron James

LeBron James responded on Wednesday to President Donald Trump’s claim that he won’t watch the NBA due to players kneeling for the national anthem.

James’ Los Angeles Lakers lost to the Oklahoma City Thunder 105-86. After the game, James was asked about Trump’s comments about the NBA. James said he didn’t think the basketball community would be sad to lose Trump’s viewership.

“I really don’t think the basketball community are sad about losing his viewership,” James said.

Earlier in the day, Trump appeared on “Fox and Friends” for a phone interview and shared his thoughts.

“When I see people kneeling during the playing and disrespecting our flag and national anthem, what I do personally is turn off the game,” Trump said.

“I think it’s disgraceful. We work with (the NBA), we worked with them very hard trying to get open. I was pushing for them to get open. Then I see everybody kneeling during the anthem. That’s not acceptable to me. When I see them kneeling during the game, I just turn off the game. I have no interest in the game. Let me tell you this, plenty of other people out there, too.”

Trump also credited himself for helping the black community with “criminal justice reform, opportunity zones, best employment numbers in history.”

James and Trump have clashed for years, going back to when LeBron supported Hillary Clinton during the last presidential election. The two have sparred many times since then, with James taking shots at Trump and vice versa. The saga between them continues.

Internet loses its mind over tomato that looks like Larry Bird

Larry Bird

The internet lost its mind on Sunday over a tomato that an astute observer pointed out looks just like Larry Bird.

On Friday, a Twitter user tweeted a photo of a tomato. The photo went viral after people commented on its appearance, noting it looked just like the Hall of Fame basketball player.

The jokes were out of hand.

When the people are right, they’re right. Can’t argue with them on this one.

Larry Legend, 63, won three championships as a player, was a three-time NBA MVP, and 12-time All-Star. If you enjoyed that photo of him as a tomato, you’ll love this story John Stockton told about him.