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Thursday, August 22, 2019

Basketball

Jimmer Fredette: Joining Greek team was ‘tough decision’

Jimmer Fredette

Jimmer Fredette returned to the NBA toward the end of last season and was hoping to generate more interest from teams this summer, but he instead decided to sign with Greek team Panathinaikos. As you might expect, the decision to go back overseas was not an easy one.

Fredette arrived in Greece this week and said he is “excited” to be joining a great organization. However, he admitted leaving the NBA to sign with Panathinaikos was a “tough decision.”

“It was a tough decision. Panathinaikos has been calling and trying to get me a part of their team for a couple of years,” Fredette said, via Stefan Djordjevic of EuroHoops.net. “It just hadn’t worked out up to this point. But at this point, we decided that it’s the right opportunity for myself, my family and the team to be joined together and hopefully be able to have a great season.”

Fredette had been with the Golden State Warriors during the Summer League, but he left to sign a two-year deal with Panathinaikos. The team has won six EuroLeague Championships and 37 Greek Championships and is the same one Rick Pitino coached last season, so the reputation speaks for itself.

After he was drafted with the No. 10 overall pick in 2011 out of BYU, Fredette played with the Kings, Bulls, Pelicans and Knicks before heading overseas to play in China. He was a three-time All-Star in the Chinese Basketball Association and won the league’s MVP in 2017. The 30-year-old has never played in the EuroLeague, but he should find success.

Watch: Ben Simmons working on his jumpshot during pickup games

Ben Simmons

Ben Simmons is a highly-talented player whose abilities helped him become the No. 1 draft pick and eventually earn a max contract with the Philadelphia 76ers. Despite the things he does well — pass, rebound and defend at the point guard position — he has a glaring weakness when it comes to his outside shooting.

Simmons almost refuses to take outside shots in games. Even though we’re in an age in the NBA where big men are stretching the floor and outside shooting is a valued skill, Simmons has only attempted 17 3-pointers during his entire two seasons in the league. The lack of a threat of an outside shot from him makes him and the Sixers easier to defend, especially in the playoffs.

But this video shows the work Simmons is doing on his shot this offseason:

Last year there was talk about Simmons possibly switching to shooting with his right hand rather than his left. He seems to be sticking with his left and potentially improving.

If Simmons can integrate an outside shot and improve his free throw shooting, he would be on a pathway to being dominant.

Ex-NBA referee Steve Javie is now an ordained deacon

NBA logo

After 25 years in the NBA, Steve Javie has now transitioned to a very different line of work.

Frank Fitzpatrick reported this week that the former NBA referee is now an ordained deacon in the Catholic Church. Javie was officially ordained this summer at a Philadelphia, Pa. cathedral after a seven-year-long process. In addition to a master’s in theology, the 64-year-old also now has the right to deliver homilies, wear a collar, and perform traditional priestly duties such as marriages and baptisms.

Fitzpatrick notes that former colleague Joey Crawford was in attendance for Javie’s ordination ceremony as well.

“It’s a calling,” Javie was quoted as saying. “It’s nothing I aspired to. I knew I was getting near the end of my career because my knees were failing. That realization makes you think about what you’re going to do afterwards … I thought, ‘I’ve got to be doing something more with my life than blowing whistles against basketball players.’

“People ask me if there are similarities between being a deacon and a referee,” he went on. “It’s funny because people used to think they could tell me how to do my old job. That hasn’t changed, except now people are telling me how to preach.”

Javie officiated games in the NBA from 1986 to 2011. He has since maintained a prominent role as a rules analyst for league broadcasts on ESPN.

The new gig is certainly a change of pace for Javie, but it is not the first time we have seen some overlap between basketball and the Catholic Church.

NBA reporter Marc Stein calls out rival reporter Shams Charania

Shams Charania

A good old fashioned NBA reporter feud began brewing on Wednesday, and the news that Tyronn Lue is joining the Los Angeles Clippers as an associate head coach is apparently at the root of it.

Marc Stein of the New York Times sent a tweet congratulating The Athletic on reaching 600,000 subscribers, but he also took the opportunity to air out some frustration about people who work there claiming other reporters’ work as their own. He followed up with an apology and said his gripe is “exclusively with one reporter.”

The one reporter Stein was referring to is Shams Charania. On Tuesday, Charania reported that Lue has agreed to a deal to become the top assistant on Doc Rivers’ staff with the Clippers. Stein reported that the two sides were close to an agreement last week, but Charania didn’t mention anything about Stein having it first. That did not sit well with Stein, who retweeted the following from Andrew Marchand of the New York Post.

Even if Charania’s report was slightly different in that Stein reported that Lue was close to a deal with the Clippers and Charania reported that a contract had been agreed to, it’s still good practice to mention who had it first. Whether or not Stein should have called Charania out the way he did is another debate altogether.

Ray Lewis, Lamar Odom to compete on ‘Dancing with the Stars’

Ray Lewis

The latest season of the hit TV show “Dancing with the Stars” is going to feature a strong presence from the sports world.

ABC revealed the full celebrity cast of DWTS on Wednesday’s edition of “Good Morning America,” and two of the contestants are Ray Lewis and Lamar Odom. The latest season will premiere on Sept. 16.

Lewis has worked in various TV roles since retiring after the 2012 season, while Odom has been adamant about wanting to continue his professional basketball career. The former Los Angeles Laker spent a very brief stint with the BIG3 basketball league recently but never appeared in an actual game. He recently expressed interest in returning overseas to play.

One of the things Lewis became known for during his NFL career was his famous celebratory dance, so perhaps he will incorporate some of those moves into the show.

If DWTS is something you’re into, Lewis and Odom should make for intriguing contestants.

Watch: Cody Bellinger nearly snubs Anthony Davis on handshake

Cody Bellinger hit

Los Angeles sports stars collided on Tuesday when new Lakers star Anthony Davis visited Dodger Stadium.

The Dodgers shared a video on Twitter of Davis meeting with Cody Bellinger in the Dodgers’ clubhouse before the team’s game against the Toronto Blue Jays. As this video clip shows, Davis went looking for a handshake with Bellinger, but the National League MVP contender didn’t see it. The result was pretty funny:

At least they ended up connecting.

Bellinger has owned Los Angeles this summer. He has 42 home runs and is batting .317 for the Dodgers, who have the most wins in the NL. He’s just borrowing the spotlight until Davis and the Lakers take the court later this year, at which point the Lakers and Clippers will be competing in the city.

Royce White blasts LeBron James for letting Carmelo Anthony go unsigned

LeBron James

One of the lingering subplots of the NBA offseason is the fact that Carmelo Anthony remains without a team despite a willingness to play. That, according to one former player, is the fault of LeBron James.

Royce White, a former first-round NBA draft pick currently playing in the BIG3, blames James for the Lakers not signing Anthony. White suggests James was failing as a “voice of the players” by letting the team sign Jared Dudley instead of his close friend.

There was a time early in the offseason that Anthony was regarded as likely to land with the Lakers. That hasn’t happened. Anthony isn’t a great defender and mostly has value for his shooting at this point, while Dudley is more well-rounded. That’s clearly what the Lakers prioritized, whether White likes it or not.