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Saturday, February 22, 2020

Basketball

Charles Barkley defends John Beilein, calls out Cavaliers players

Charles Barkley

John Beilein’s tenure as the head coach of the Cleveland Cavaliers did not go well, and Charles Barkley believes a big part of that is due to the team’s players.

Barkley spoke on TNT’s “Inside the NBA” Thursday night, which was the first day of games since the All-Star break. Barkley said the Cavs players tried to get Beilein fired. He equally blamed the veterans for not being good leaders, and the young players for thinking they were too good to do what Beilein was asking of them.

“I want to call out the Cleveland Cavaliers. I thought what they did to Coach Beilein was ridiculous, unprofessional,” Barkley said on TNT. “I think the veterans on that team were not leaders. I think the young guys who can’t play think they’re better than they are and they tried to get that man fired.”

Beilein was unable to connect with his players or get them to buy in. The complaints from players had to do with practicing too hard, watching too much film, and Beilein trying to implement a college culture.

The blame for the issues probably falls on both parties. The players — and especially the veterans — maybe could have made a better effort to give Beilein a chance. And Beilein maybe could have worked harder to build trust first before implementing his complete culture.

Dwyane Wade cracks Dunk Contest joke to Derrick Jones Jr.

Dwyane Wade

Dwyane Wade cracked a Dunk Contest joke to Derrick Jones Jr. on Friday night.

Wade is being honored all weekend in Miami as the Heat retire his jersey on Saturday. They held an event at American Airlines Arena on Friday night called “D. Wade – The Flashback: A L3gacy Celebration Event.”

At the event, Wade was saying hi on stage to several Heat players. When he got to Jones, he joked that he couldn’t talk to the youngster, because people would think he “did it on purpose.”

That’s a reference to what happened in the Dunk Contest, which Jones Jr. won last weekend.

Some of the judges said the contest was supposed to end in a tie between Jones Jr. and Aaron Gordon. Wade was being blamed for not delivering the score he was supposed, and the prevailing conspiracy theory was that he was helping out his ex-teammate.

At least Wade has a sense of humor about it.

Moe Harkless could seek buyout from Knicks?

Moe Harkless’ tenure with the New York Knicks may be very short-lived.

On Wednesday, the veteran forward said that he has not initiated any talks with the team on a buyout before the end of the month. Harkless did add though that he and his agent might talk about it at some point and weigh whether he wants to play for a contender, per Mike Vorkunov of The Athletic.

Harkless, who has played in just one game for the Knicks so far, was acquired as part of their trade sending Marcus Morris to the LA Clippers. The 26-year-old had been averaging 5.5 points and 4.0 rebounds per game in 50 appearances (including 38 starts) for the Clippers this season.

A known commodity as an excellent defender with some dribble-drive prowess, Harkless landing on a contender would be a welcome development, especially with the entertainment value he has provided in recent postseasons.

Video: Russell Westbrook ejected from Rockets-Warriors game

Russell Westbrook

Russell Westbrook got ejected from Thursday night’s Houston Rockets-Golden State Warriors game after getting into it with his opponents.

Midway through the fourth quarter, Westbrook followed up an Austin Rivers made layup by grabbing what he thought was the rebound. He elbowed Damion Lee and then challenged Lee by yelling at his opponent:

As if that weren’t enough, Westbrook then had words with many Warriors players — even ones on the bench.

Westbrook was called for a technical foul, which was his second of the game, triggering an ejection.

Westbrook had 21 points and 10 assists before being tossed. The Rockets guard is now up to 13 technical fouls on the season. If he gets three more, he would be suspended for a game.

JB Bickerstaff is Cavaliers’ head coach, not on an interim basis

JB Bickerstaff

JB Bickerstaff has taken over as the Cleveland Cavaliers’ head coach, and it’s not on an interim basis.

John Beilein officially resigned as the Cavs’ head coach on Wednesday. Reports first emerged on Sunday night saying that Beilein and the Cavs were talking about a buyout that would lead to him stepping down, and that became official this week.

Bickerstaff, who previously took over two coaching jobs on an interim basis during the season (Houston and Memphis), was always expected to take over. But what is interesting is that Bickerstaff is taking over as head coach — not on an interim basis. That’s what Cleveland.com’s Chris Fedor says.

Fedor says Bickerstaff taking over as head coach in Beilein’s place was always part of the plan. The plan just came to fruition much earlier than anyone really expected.

Fedor wrote a long article that talked about how the Cavs got to the point that Beilein was stepping down during the All-Star break. The main takeaway is that Beilein was a bad fit from the start, and his college ways just didn’t work in the NBA.

Beilein’s fundamentals-first approach was not a good fit for the NBA, and he caused further issues for himself when he inadvertently referred to his players as “thugs.” Though he will remain with the organization for now, a return to college could be a possibility once the season ends and jobs open up at that level.

We have suggested some possible college jobs he could want.

Ben Gordon opens up about his suicidal behavior, mental health in chilling story

Ben Gordon’s life essentially spiraled out of control once his playing career ended, and the former NBA star has decided to share his story with the world.

Gordon wrote a piece for The Players’ Tribune this week in which he opened up about his mental health issues, which he says have led him to the brink of suicide. Gordon described how he has always had an obsessive personality, and he was able to channel that at a young age to help him become a basketball star. After he was waived by the Golden State Warriors before the start of the 2015-16 season, things went downhill in a hurry.

Gordon said he thought about committing suicide every single day for about six weeks straight. He described how he suffered from insomnia and would go to the roof of his apartment building at 4 a.m. and think about jumping off.

“I was obsessed with killing myself. It’s all I researched, all I thought about,” Gordon wrote. “One night my panic attacks got so bad that all I could think about was escape. Man, I’m telling you … you become like an animal. It’s instinctive.”

In chilling detail, Gordon described how he tied a jump rope around his neck one night and hung himself. He said as he felt himself suffocating he thought for the first time, “You don’t really want to kill yourself … you just want to kill this anxiety.” Fortunately, Gordon freed himself before it was too late.

Gordon was arrested several times for his erratic behavior in 2017, and he credits getting arrested four times in five months with saving his life. A judge ordered Gordon to go to 18 months of court-mandated therapy, and he said talking about his issues helped.

“It helped me work some things out,” Gordon wrote. “But more than anything, I think it helped me embrace the fact that — it’s like, Yo, B, you’re different. And that’s alright. You don’t have to be perfect. Those habits that got you to the league? They don’t translate to real life.”

The entire piece is worth reading. It’s easy to poke fun at Gordon over some of the ways he has gotten himself into trouble, but the former No. 3 overall pick is obviously dealing with serious mental health issues. We hope he’s able to remain on the right path.

LeBron James’ camp responds to lawsuit from youth organization over slogan

LeBron James

A lawsuit was filed against LeBron James’ media company Uninterrupted this week claiming the brand stole its slogan from a Maryland youth organization, but Uninterrupted says there is no truth to the claim.

Game Plan, a Maryland-based nonprofit that works with young athletes to help them achieve success in all phases of life, says Uninterrupted stole the slogan “I Am More Than an Athlete” and has been profiting from it. According to TMZ, court documents filed by Game Plan allege that LeBron got the idea to use the phrase for Uninterrupted when he saw Game Plan staffers wearing shirts that said “I Am More Than an Athlete” at a 2017 game between the Washington Wizards and Cleveland Cavaliers.

“The attendance at the game gave Game Plan tremendous exposure, as it was able to gain attention from John Wall in front of his peers including the (arguably) most famous athlete in the world, as a member of the Cleveland Cavaliers, at the time, LeBron James,” the lawsuit states.

The lawsuit claims LeBron began using the phrase as a response to FOX News host Laura Ingraham infamously telling him to “shut up and dribble.” James shared an Instagram post that featured the phrase right after the incident.

View this post on Instagram

#wewillnotshutupanddribble

A post shared by LeBron James (@kingjames) on

Game Plan says they obtained the trademark to the phrase “I Am More Than an Athlete” in 2018, and they are seeking at least $33 million to recoup money LeBron and Uninterrupted have made from the phrase through deals with Nike, ESPN and more. On Thursday, Uninterrupted issued a response.

“The complaint filed by Game Plan today is meritless and contains numerous factual inaccuracies,” LeBron’s company said in a statement, via TMZ. “Uninterrupted owns prior rights in and to the ‘More Than An Athlete’ trademark.”

The incident between LeBron and Ingraham became a huge story, but that doesn’t mean the phrase was stolen. That will now be up for the courts to decide.