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Today in Hypothetical NBA Debates: Larry Bird vs. Michael Jordan in one-on-one!
No, we're not asking who'd win a battle in their primes, nor a real-life version of those Bird-Jordan McDonald's commercials. We're talking about a question posed to the Indiana Pacers' president of basketball operations Monday on the Dan Patrick Show.
That question: Could Bird, 58, take Jordan, 52, right now?
"Could I take Jordan? Where's this going? Can I wear my Hickory uniform? Boy, that'd be a good game," Bird said, before offering the goods:
"I hate to admit this, but he'd kill me. ... I'm 40 pounds more than I was when I played, I'm broken-down, I really don't care like I used to, I have a fight in me but it's not the fight that I once had ... but it'd be a pretty close game."
Ah, there's the trash-talker we know and love, unable to fully commit to the idea of getting killed on the court by a rival.
This came as part of a larger conversation based on Jordan's comments from June, in which he said he was "pretty sure" he could beat the members of his Charlotte Hornets one-on-one.
Bird was having none of that, by the way. When he heard Jordan said he could beat his players now, Bird offered a big laugh.
"Now?" he said. "Oh, gee. Come on.
"He can believe whatever he wants. ... He'd have to prove that to me. Man, [star athletes have] to let this stuff go. ... That's just ridiculous."
Bird was also asked if he was ever better than someone who was on his roster while he coached the Pacers (from 1997 to 2000, when he was 40-43).
"I don't know about that," he said. And what about shooting?
"Oh yeah. Oh God yeah. Standing still, shooting? Ain't no problem."
Still, he said, he was never the best shooter while he coached the Pacers.
"Nah, Reggie [Miller] was here, Chris Mullin, Sam Perkins; they had some pretty good shooters."
And speaking of shooting, Bird weighed in on another debate: Is, as a number of sharpshooting legends have suggested, Stephen Curry the best shooter of all time?
"I don't know about that," Bird said. "Chris Mullin was pretty good. ... [But] deep shooter, Curry is about one of the best."
Are you in the conversation, Bird was asked?
His answer, without hesitation: "Yep."
For more from Bird -- including talk of his high school days, whether he could have gone pro at 18-19 and more, check out the full interview here.
David Lee is a popular figure in the Bay Area.
He didn't play the biggest role in the Golden State Warriors' 2014-15 title run. But after his arrival in 2010, the forward was hugely important in restoring respectability to the moribund franchise. And hey, according to Steve Kerr he paid for the team's post-championship trip to Las Vegas.
So is it any wonder that, after news broke of his trade to the Boston Celtics, Lee was met with much love from teammates, including this heartwarming tweet from Stephen Curry? Wait a second, is Steph trolling the 32-year-old?
Yes, Curry included video of him blocking the 6-foot-9 forward when the latter was a member of the New York Knicks. The title of the video on YouTube? "Stephen Curry blocks David Lee and David Lee cries about it"!
That is ... fantastic. You know what they say: A lighthearted trolling is the sign of a strong friendship.
LeBron James might have led the Miami Heat to two titles and a string of four straight NBA Finals appearances, but that doesn't mean the Sunshine State is entirely in the King's corner.
We asked two questions recently to SportsNation regarding LeBron, and while some states -- particularly the home of his Cleveland Cavaliers -- voted in his favor, Florida went the other direction on both (results as of 7:30 p.m. ET on Tuesday).
First, after Bill Russell beat out LeBron on a graphic as the "best player to wear No. 6" ...
Then, after Shaquille O'Neal said he would choose Kobe Bryant over LeBron in their primes ...
It must be said that the South Florida region accounts for less than one-third of the state's population, according to 2014 estimates. So a county-by-county breakdown might see LeBron carry Miami-Dade, Broward and Palm Beach but lose significantly elsewhere. Also, those are significantly small samples -- perhaps a few thousand more votes would change things.
Still, those are significant margins in both Russell's and Kobe's favor.
In other words: That's unseasonably cold, Florida.
Who are the best NBA players ever to wear each jersey number?
Apparel company Mitchell & Ness took this question and figuratively ran with it, creating a graphic that lists the best player to wear every number that's ever graced the front and back of an NBA uniform.
• There are a few incontrovertible choices: No. 23 for Michael Jordan (unless you're Kendrick Perkins or Bill Laimbeer), No. 45 for MJ (even if he wore it for just a few weeks in 1995), No. 00 for Robert Parish, No. 1 for Oscar Robertson, and a few others.
• There are heated debates for other numbers, particularly the overloaded No. 33, where Kareem Abdul-Jabbar edged Larry Bird, Patrick Ewing, Alonzo Mourning, Scottie Pippen and others. (This writer's opinion: Kareem was the absolute right choice).
• Late-career changes helped squeeze excellent players onto the list in numbers they're not always best known for. Karl Malone (No. 32 with the Utah Jazz) gets on for his one year as No. 11 with the Los Angeles Lakers, since he was never going to overtake Magic Johnson. Shaquille O'Neal wore 32 (Magic), 33 (Kareem) and 34 (Hakeem Olajuwon) at points in his career, but gets on the list with his Boston Celtics No. 36. And Kevin Garnett, who probably wouldn't have edged Tim Duncan out for No. 21, thankfully had the No. 5 spot all to himself for his post-Minnesota Timberwolves stint with the Celtics.
• The end of this list is absolutely wonderful, with Scot Pollard, Jason Kapono, Shawn Bradley, Vladimir Radmanovic and DeShawn Stevenson bringing back so many memories. But it also contains some great significance: Jason Collins, the NBA's first openly gay player, wore No. 98 as a tribute to Matthew Shepard.
• The Panda's Friend? More like The Oddball Jersey Number's Friend! Yes, Ron Artest, aka Metta World Peace, shows up a list-topping four times here, for Nos. 37, 51, 93 and 96, edging out equally eccentric talent Dennis Rodman (three: 70, 73, 91).
• Biggest omission from the list? LeBron James. Sure, he's not going to overtake Jordan (see above) for No. 23. But No. 6? That spot was given to Bill Russell, who wore his signature number for the Celtics while winning 11 championships. But some -- maybe even this writer (bring out the haters!) -- believe James, who wore No. 6 during his four-year stint with the Miami Heat, is/was the better player.
On Monday, Bleacher Report released an oral history of Kevin Garnett. Now, an oral history of one particular player might seem a little much, unless that player is a human anecdote machine -- which the former/current Minnesota Timberwolves and former Boston Celtics and Brooklyn Nets big man most certainly is.
We pulled some of the best quotes from the piece related to Garnett's infamous intensity and trash talk, but it really is worth the whole read:
Joe Abunassar, Garnett's personal trainer: "We had been working out and we went to Memorial Park [in L.A.], and he had forgotten his socks. It was him, [Chauncey] Billups, [Al] Harrington, Ty Lue, Michael Ruffin and a few others. He played every game. He was dunking on guys and blocking shots -- all with no socks on. Hours he was playing. When it was over, there was blood seeping through the front of his shoes. Part of his feet and toes were just bleeding. It was unbelievable."
Chris Bosh, Miami Heat/former Toronto Raptors forward: "Usually I don't talk back, but if he said something to me, I said something back. I had just a terrible game for me [against the Celtics in the 2011 playoffs]. He got me all off my game. He scored, like, four times in a row on me in the crunch. And I was so embarrassed and so upset, and he got in my head. Ever since that day, I never said anything else."
Paul Pierce, former Celtics and Nets teammate: "One time, he asked [Joakim] Noah if he could rub through his hair, like a female or something. ... And I know that kind of made [Noah] hot. And this was when Noah was a rookie, too. I remember Noah looked up to KG. He was like, 'Man, KG, I had your poster on my wall, I looked up to you, man.' And then [Garnett] just said something like that, and was like 'F--- you, Noah.' I was like, 'Whoa.' This kid fresh out of college, looks up to KG, just said he had his poster on the wall, and he tells him that! It crushed him. It crushed Noah."
Pierce again, recalling a light moment between himself (then with Boston) and Garnett (then with Minnesota): "We were both on losing teams at this point. This is probably around the last week of the season. We're talking [trash] at the free throw line. I'm like, 'Man, everybody needs to shut up, because we all going to the Bahamas next week.' And as intense as he was, he had to look up and just start laughing. ... I said, 'I'm going to Cancun. Where are you going, Ticket?' He said, 'I'm going to St. Lucia.'"
Tyronn Lue, former NBA guard: "A lot of people do all their howling on the court and they're faking just for attention, but what he does is genuine. So one day we were at his house and we were watching Puff Daddy's show 'Making the Band,' and in one of the scenes, some new guys came in and were trying to sing and were trying to compete against the guys who had been there. And KG just got so hyped: "M-----f-----, you've got to stand up for yours! You've got to fight! M-----f----, you've got to come together!" He's going crazy, he's sweaty. And he just head-butts the wall and put a hole in the wall of his house."
Check out the story here.