On Heat Index, Brian Windhorst recounts LeBron James' rivalry with Paul Pierce: "The closest thing James has ever had to a fight in the NBA came against Pierce, though most may not remember it. It happened way back in 2004, during a preseason game at Ohio State. After things had gotten a little heated the night before during a preseason game between the Celtics and Cleveland Cavaliers at Mohegan Sun Casino in Connecticut, it boiled over when they played again in Columbus. There was already some beef starting between the two from the previous season, James’ first in Cleveland. Pierce had gotten into an in-game trashing talking war with Otis Carter, the father of James’ friend Maverick Carter and someone whom James considers an uncle. After a Pierce hard foul on James, Carter started screaming at Pierce from courtside seats. It was part of the first great James-Pierce battle. James had 37 points that night, the second-highest output of his rookie year. But Pierce ended up scoring 41, burying the Cavs with a series of offensive moves and staring at Carter after each basket in the second half. He told James late in the game he needed to tell Carter to be quiet or he’d go for 50 points. Or at least that is how the story goes."
A classic free agency paradox: Shannon Brown didn't play well enough to make Phoenix better, but too well for the Suns to afford to keep him.
Chris Bosh talks candidly with Tom Haberstroh about his reputation, and what it's like to be injured during the playoffs.
Dan Le Batard of the Miami Herald with a must-read story on Udonis Haslem's close relationship with Dwyane Wade. In it, Haslem basically admits that his hard foul on Tyler Hansbrough was in retaliation (duh), and describes how it felt to get the game ball for Game 6, even though he didn't play: "[Haslem] rushed to the airport immediately after the victory. Wade and Mario Chalmers were texting him pictures from the jubilant locker room, holding up “Free UD!” signs. He sat on the plane alone for 45 minutes until the team got there. And then Wade gave Haslem the game ball. Asked to describe what that moment meant, Haslem pauses for a long time. 'Felt like family,' he finally says, succinctly enough. Then he adds, 'Felt like they did all that for me. I knew Dwyane was going to have a game like that. I knew. I know that guy. No doubt. None. No doubt. His sister, his kids, they are my family. His mother and my mother used to be friends. They had similar journeys. Drug addiction. His mom is like my extended mom. I know that guy, and I knew what Dwyane was going to do to Indiana.'"
The Flaming Lips record a cool song for the Oklahoma City Thunder. It's good, but I still prefer (and I may be a little biased here) the Presidents of the United States of America's "Supersonics."
When the Thunder go small, Gary Neal can make a big impact, says Jesse Blanchard of 48 Minutes of Hell: "With a stationary matchup to defend the Spurs can finally play sharpshooter Gary Neal extended minutes alongside Tony Parker and Manu Ginobili in the clutch. In Game 1 Neal scored seven of his 12 points in the fourth quarter, connecting on 3-4 shots and playing almost the entirety of a 39-point fourth quarter."
Royce Young of Daily Thunder on Oklahoma City's disastrous fourth quarter in Game 1: "A lot of things happened that accounted for the meltdown. It looked painfully like last season’s Western Conference Finals, except for the fact it happened six minutes earlier in the game. Kevin Durant couldn’t get the ball in workable situations. Russell Westbrook was limited. And James Harden wasn’t a factor running the pick-and-roll. The game slipped away, one Tiago Splitter and Gary Neal bucket at a time. It’s the way the Spurs kill you. Slowly and methodically. Which leaves you looking back at the game feeling like you missed a big opportunity." He also has this great note: "The Spurs kicked off their intro video with a loud crack of thunder. Someone didn’t think that one all the way through."
Pistons coach Lawrence Frank said rookie Brandon Knight was his hardest worker. On the one hand, a lottery pick who immediately leads the team with his effort and dedication is a great thing. On the other, what's up with all those other guys?
Grantland's Jonathan Abrams was on the scene with the USA Women's National Team as they faced Japan in an exhibition game: "The Japanese and U.S. teams shook hands once the scrimmage ended on Sunday. One Japanese player, Yuka Mamiya, asked Taurasi for her jersey. Taurasi smiled, signed it, and handed it over. Soon, most of the U.S. team had handed their jerseys over to their counterparts. The Japanese players smiled and jumped up and down in delight. They look to Taurasi and the others not as competitors, but as role models, much like how the world viewed the 1992 Dream Team. This is the greatest contribution the U.S. women's team makes globally. They spread the game, nurture it, and grow it."
San Antonio's mayor, Julian Castro, responds to Charles Barkley, who has had some nationally broadcasted fun at San Antonio's expense.