Durant bested James in the 2017 NBA Finals as the Warriors beat the Cavaliers 4-1 to win their second title in three years.
James has overshadowed Durant for much of his NBA career. James has three more MVP Awards and, prior to this past year, owned a three-to-none edge in NBA championships. James’ Miami Heat were victorious over Durant and the Oklahoma City Thunder in the 2012 Finals.
In an interview with Sports Illustrated’s Lee Jenkins in April 2013, Durant discussed how he had grown tired of looking up at James.
“I’ve been second my whole life,” he said. “I was the second-best player in high school. I was the second pick in the draft. I’ve been second in the MVP voting three times. I came in second in the Finals. I’m tired of being second. I’m not going to settle for that. I’m done with it.”
A little over cheap jerseys China four years later, Durant may be on the verge of surpassing James. He averaged 35.2 points, 8.2 rebounds and 5.4 assists in the Finals, en route to winning Finals MVP. Durant also hit what was the biggest shot of the series, putting the Warriors ahead in Game 3 on a pull-up three-pointer with 45 seconds remaining. Despite Durant’s objection, James arguably remains the best player in the world.
Building on the success of his first season in the Bay Area, it wouldn’t be surprising, however, to see Durant eclipse his biggest on-court rival in the near future.
Stephen Curry had quite the weekend. He was caught cheap jerseys authentic on film apparently mocking LeBron James’ summer workout videos during Harrison Barnes’ wedding, then he popped up in an unexpected place late Saturday night.
Apparently, Curry and Kent Bazemore crashed a random house party in Newport, Rhode Island after the wedding. TMZ reports that the Golden State Warriors star and five friends (including Bazemore) randomly rolled up to a house that was playing loud music. They knocked on the door and asked if they could join the party, which was populated by a bunch of 20-somethings.
Curry was apparently chugging Bud Light and stuck around for around 45 minutes. It doesn’t look like he’s very good at it though, check out the spillage on his t-shirt:
Curry is clearly enjoying his summer after winning a second NBA title in three years.
CLEVELAND — The word is out around the NBA. The Cavaliers want a veteran starter, a blue chipper on a rookie contract, and a first-round pick for Kyrie Irving.
The Cavs are working diligently to make Irving happy (he wants to be traded) and get what they want for him in return. They’ve been in contact consistently with Irving’s camp as they field calls and offers from interested suitors, trying to cultivate an offer that makes sense.
Among the scenarios under consideration, LeBron James worked out with a number of stars in Las Vegas this past week, among them Eric Bledsoe, the Phoenix Suns guard who’s been linked to numerous rumors as a possible target in a trade for Irving.
Bledsoe is 27, never been an All-Star, and has endured three knee surgeries. But he is coming off the best of his seven seasons, averaging 21.1 points and 6.3 assists for the Suns and is a better defender than Irving (who has superior ball skills).
It’s easy to brush off James’ workouts with Bledsoe — Derrick Rose, Russell Westbrook, and Chris Paul were also there and James and Bledsoe share an agent — but Bledsoe would fit one of the Cavs’ requirements.
The Suns also own Miami’s first-round pick, which is partially protected in 2018. That’d be the second box checked.
Cleveland also wants Josh Jackson, a 6-8 rookie drafted fourth overall by the Suns in June. Phoenix reportedly doesn’t want to trade Jackson, and a source said the Suns told Devin Booker he would not be traded — which would seem to put a serious hamper in this potential trade.
“If that deal (Bledsoe, Miami first rounder and Jackson) for Irving was there, it’d be done by now,” a league source with knowledge of the Cavs’ thinking told cleveland.com.
The deal would be agreed to, perhaps, but not officially done. As a rookie, Jackson cannot be traded for 30 days after signing his contract — which he put his name to on July 3. That means the Suns couldn’t deal Jackson to anyone until later this week.
The Cavs-Suns potential trade is just one being bandied about on talk shows and the Internet, as the basketball world dines on the delicious, offseason rumor meal of Irving wanting out and Cleveland trying to make it happen.
The general manager attempting to make the trade on the Cavs’ side is new, 34-year-old Koby Altman. If it were his predecessor, David Griffin, orchestrating the trade, history tells us what the Cavs would ultimately end up with would be something almost no one saw coming. Perhaps that same history can be used as a guide to envision what kind of haul Altman ultimately pulls for Irving.
“In terms of David Griffin, the biggest testament to him is he’s got us all ready for this,” Altman said Wednesday. “He was a tremendous leader for us and that’s what he did. That’s the best testament to him is he has all of us ready for this challenge.”
Griffin, who departed from the Cavs June 19, left behind Altman, Mike Gansey (now the assistant GM), and Brock Aller (now senior director of basketball operations) as three men who worked in Griffin’s front office and are now running the show here.
Trades can be complicated things in the NBA. What looks to us like one trade can often count as multiple transactions within the same deal as GMs like Griffin deftly navigated the league’s collective bargaining agreement to get the best returns.
Taking the above caveat into consideration, Griffin essentially made four roster-changing, crucial deals in his three seasons as GM — each of which ended in the Finals. One was trading Andrew Wiggins (now a rumored target of the Cavs for Irving) to Minnesota for Kevin Love — that one was the exception to Griffin’s rule of multiplicity and general secrecy. The other three fit.
In January of 2015, with the Cavs scuffling, Anderson Varejao out for the season and coach David Blatt flailing, Griffin knew he needed to deal. The Cavs’ interest in Timofey Mozgov in Denver was well known, but before Griffin could acquire him he first pulled off a three-team blockbuster cheap jerseys in which Dion Waiters was shipped to Oklahoma City and J.R. Smith and Iman Shumpert came to Cleveland from the Knicks.
Smith was the surprise in the deal because of his off-court issues, but in the meantime Griffin needed the first-round pick the Cavs received from Oklahoma City for Waiters to package in a deal with Denver for Mozgov.
The following season, with the Cavs wanting to spread the floor when they went to their bench, Griffin with little prior fanfare traded with Orlando for Channing Frye. Cleveland could’ve had Frye straight up, but also wanted to move salary so it roped Portland into the deal, convincing the Blazers to take Anderson Varejao’s contract in return for a first-round pick. The Blazers sent a second rounder to the Magic.
Last season, of course, with Smith out for three months because of a broken thumb and free-agent signee Mike Dunleavy not panning out, Griffin’s front office stunned the league by acquiring one of the greatest 3-point shooters in league history — Kyle Korver — in exchange for Dunleavy, the expiring contract of Mo Williams, a first-round pick, and cash.
It is from that kind of depth which Altman may be operating as he attempts to move Irving. He may try to attach the expiring contract of Frye ($7.4 million) as well as Shumpert’s contract (two years, $21.3 million) to Irving-related moves. He could seek to use what he receives from one team for Irving to acquire a whole new set of assets from a third team.
That’s what Griffin would’ve done. And it’s Griffin from whom Altman learned his craft.
Danilo Gallinari, the Clippers’ biggest acquisition over the summer, sustained a minor injury to his right thumb Sunday after throwing a punch at an opponent while playing for Italy in an exhibition against the Netherlands on Sunday, according to a team official who was not authorized to speak publicly on the matter.
The official said Gallinari is expected to be out three to four weeks, but that the Clippers will know more in a couple of days once team physicians talk with the Italian basketball federation’s medical staff.
The Clippers official said the team expects Gallinari, who will miss the upcoming EuroBasket tournament, to be ready for the start of training camp. The Clippers will have their media day Sept. 25 and will leave afterwards for camp in Honolulu.
A video showed Gallinari throwing a punch and striking Netherlands power wholesale nba jerseys forward Jito Kok in the head. The two players were lined up for a free throw when Kok appeared in the video to strike Gallinari in the head with a forearm while trying to box out the Clippers’ small forward.
The Italian federation had announced on Twitter that Gallinari had fractured a bone in his hand, but that does not appear to be case.
The Clippers acquired Gallinari from the Denver Nuggets in a three-team sign-and-trade deal worth $63 million over three seasons.
The 6-foot-10 Gallinari, 28, averaged 18.2 points, 5.2 rebounds and 2.1 assists last season for the Nuggets. He made 38.8% of his three-pointers.
With Ivan Drago-like hair and a late-career dragon tattoo covering his back, Andrei Kirilenko was one of the more intimidating forwards in basketball. His nickname, “AK-47,” and tendency to swat shots into the stands didn’t soften his image.
But these days, Kirilenko is a disciplined family man who moved on to the next phase in his life after finishing his playing days two years ago. While some of his contemporaries have decided to spend their post-basketball lives somewhere warm, Kirilenko, content with how his career panned out, is still working. And when he gets the time, he thinks of Utah, too.
Once the proverbial face of Russian basketball on the hardwood, Kirilenko has become the literal face of the Russian Basketball Federation as the organization’s commissioner.
Unlike in the United States, where the NBA has been resourceful with the national basketball program in providing assistance, the Russian Basketball Federation operates as an independent entity.
Kirilenko’s day-to-day operations as commissioner aren’t outlined like they are for Adam Silver. From managing the people who referee the games to making sure the program’s relationship with the government is consistent, Kirilenko does it all.
“It’s a lot of work, and there’s a lot of challenges,” Kirilenko said in a recent interview with the Deseret News. “Being responsible for a basketball program for the whole Russian nation is challenging. There are a lot of directions, and it starts with mini basketball, with children. Then it goes all the way up to the national team.”
Beginning Aug. 31, Kirilenko will be in charge of running two Russian national teams for the 2017 FIBA EuroBasket tournament with hopes of earning a spot in the 2020 Tokyo Olympics. The responsibilities are demanding, but Kirilenko finds it fulfilling.
“I knew I couldn’t be a coach. I can coach for a day or two but not for an entire season,” he said while chuckling. “I never thought I’d be in this kind of position, but I knew I’d always be around basketball.”
Instead of taking a year or two off from the game, Kirilenko knew he had to thrust himself into a high-pressured situation immediately after retiring as a player. As his friend who retired from the NHL at 40 told him, “when you retire, go work right away.”
“When you take a year off anything, you don’t want to come back,” Kirilenko said. “When you’re still playing, you have that work ethic. You’re used to waking up early, going to work and being on a schedule. That was really good advice. It’s helping me right now because I’m still in work and practice mode.”
Now that he’s not focused on X’s and O’s, defending Kobe Bryant in the 2009 NBA playoffs or finding a way to integrate himself in the Utah Jazz offense while knowing Deron Williams and Carlos Boozer would remain go-to guys, Kirilenko has taken a philosophical approach to life.
As an NBA All-Star, All-Defensive First Team member, Euroleague MVP, Olympic medalist and his country’s flag bearer, Kirilenko doesn’t look back on his career with regret or think about “what ifs.” He simply recognizes the sheer luck it even took for him to get noticed in the first place.
“For a kid that grew up in the streets of St. Petersburg, Russia, to come all the way to the NBA and become an All-Star, to go to the Olympics and get a medal, I did a pretty good job,” he said.
“But it really depends on your perspective. If you look at it from Michael Jordan’s perspective, I didn’t do anything. But if you look at it as a kid who started playing basketball, it was an exceptional career. I was lucky enough to be the flag bearer in the Olympics for my country. I had basketball represent the whole country. That’s a big deal.”
Kirilenko, who plays pickup basketball and practices from time to time, isn’t frustrated by the way his career ended — riddled by injuries, an unforeseen league-wide lockout and a last-minute trade to the historically awful Philadelphia 76ers.
“It’s just a career coming to an end,” he said. “Anything you do, whether it’s in business, sports or entertainment, comes to an end. At that point, I just had to finish it. I had a great career, an exceptional career. But it was time to stop and start something else.”
Kirilenko, who splits his time between Los Angeles and Moscow, still owns a home in Salt Lake City and reflected on the times he had with the Jazz but more so on the experiences he had away from the games.
“My time with the Jazz is a chain of memories, starting with off the court,” he said. “I always mention, my kids were born there. I spent 10 years of my life there and made so many friends. I came to the United States at the age of 20 and didn’t know anything. I got married right before I moved, so I lived a family life in Salt Lake City. It’s a lot of factors. I played in a gym that was legendary. It’s a lot of little memories that I’ll remember for the rest of my life. Salt Lake became my second home.”
Last year, the Jazz honored Kirilenko at center court alongside his wife Masha and their kids, presenting them with a jersey in front of thousands of standing fans and Bryant, who greeted Kirilenko and his youngest child after the small ceremony.
“The Jazz have always been so wonderful to me, and they’re doing a great job right now,” he said. “I want to wish them luck. They did a great job this season. It’s like a family. It’s a basketball franchise that keeps a certain character. Players that used to play for the Jazz still come back and support each other. It’s very important.”
Focused on Russian basketball, Kirilenko doesn’t spend much time thinking in hypotheticals, such as how he would’ve done against Kevin Durant in his prime or what he could have done differently in his decade-long run with the Jazz.
“If I changed anything, I wouldn’t have went the path I went,” Kirilenko said. “Those challenges created a chance for me to get better. Those challenges changed my priorities and shifted my mindset. If cheap nba jerseys authentic I could go back, I would put my money in Apple stock,” Kirilenko said with a laugh.
“You can’t think about things you should’ve done. If I changed anything, I might’ve not come to this point. It’s important to live through the tough times and go through frustrations.”