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Tyler Herro Isn’t Fazed by the Big Stage

Tyler Herro walks back to the bench after the end of the first quarter in game three, with a chirping LeBron James in his ear. He doesn’t even react to one of the best players to ever play the game, mostly since Jimmy Butler did that for him.

That wasn’t the only instance that he had people trying to get in his head. Late in the first quarter, Tyler attacked the rim on a fast-break with two guys in front of him and a trailing LeBron James. LeBron blocked his shot, and sent Tyler to the floor hard. Markieff Morris decided to stand over him and wait for him to get up, so he could let him know. Tyler Herro decided to push him out of the way to show that he wasn’t backing down.

To put that in perspective, this Lakers team is going at a 20 year old rookie, who is the youngest player to ever start in an NBA finals.

They’re not only going at him mentally, but also physically when on the floor. It seems as if they are more worried about Tyler Herro with the ball in his hands than Jimmy Butler who just scored 40 points.

And Tyler hasn’t even played to the best of his abilities in this Finals series. He is 17 for 48 from the field through the first three games, but still makes the Lakers defense uncomfortable when on the floor.

But ultimately, Tyler is being asked to play a role that he hasn’t played much of all season, on the biggest stage possible. Without Goran Dragic, he is the main ball-handler on the team. Goran was a guy that took a lot of the load off Tyler all season, which he has mentioned a lot in the past about how comfortable he is when he shares the floor with Goran.

This meant that he had to not only adjust quick, but also grow up quick. And he has done exactly that.

He has the most dynamic offensive abilities on this roster, which means he can explode at any moment. Confidence has nothing to do with it since he doesn’t lack an ounce of it, but rhythm seems to be the actual attribute. If he can get his shots to fall early on, this will take a lot of the load off of Jimmy Butler and the rest of the team.

Even when being the main focus for a team in the NBA finals, he still doesn’t shy away. He continues to get the ball at the end of games and attempt big time shots.

As Jimmy Butler said after game three, “I saw him just hoop. This isn’t a big stage for him, this is just basketball.” And well, Tyler will indeed need to go out there and just “hoop,” since that can ultimately win them another game in this series.

The Kobe-Wade connection was always strong

They shared a trainer, Tim Grover, and sometimes quarreled over his time.

They shared a position, shooting guard, though Kobe Bryant was at least three inches taller.

They shared a legacy, of championships, glamour, travails and more.

They shared a willingness to explore the globe, especially China, to expand their brands.

They shared an intense love of their children.

But mostly, Bryant — who passed away Sunday in a helicopter crash — and Dwyane Wade shared respect.

I wrote about their mutual admiration in 2016, during Bryant’s last season, via an lengthy interview with Wade for CBSSports.com. 

This was the passage I found most interesting:

You’ve talked about Kobe being the ‘bar’ for you. In what ways do you feel like you’ve reached it?

DW: I don’t know. I mean, how I look at it is this: when I came into the league, obviously [Michael] Jordan was my idol, and he was gone. But Kobe was that bar for me, to say, OK, he’s the ultimate two-guard in this league, and I need to get there. And I felt at some point in my career, I reached that, where I was battling him. Any given night, I could be the best two-guard in the league, or he could be the best two-guard in the league, but we were going at it. And from the standpoint of his success and what he did before I came in, and winning all the championships, etc., he had me on that. But season to season, I felt like I was looking at him eye to eye some nights, and some years. And so I don’t know at the end of the day how it shakes out from that standpoint. Obviously, to me, and I haven’t seen all the players play live — but biased, I think he’s the second-best two-guard to ever play. And I think I’ve been in conversations to be from three to five. And to me, I’ve reached my bar from that standpoint, of trying to get to where he is, as one of the all-time greats at that position.

Whatever anyone else thought of Kobe — for whom petulance could be part of the package — his peers thought he was an all-timer, someone to emulate. Wade never, ever put himself above Bryant in the rankings, even though he outplayed Bryant in many of their encounters, including the breakout Christmas Day game in 2005, after Shaquille O’Neal had pushed himself away from Bryant to Wade.

That is Bryant’s basketball legacy, even if the family legacy is more important.

The basketball legacy is the way those in the game reacted to him.

Even those who weren’t in the game yet, like Wade’s heir apparent at two-guard in Miami, Tyler Herro::

Here are some tweets that brought back memories:

And here’s a tribute from South Florida, which is supposed to be celebrating Super Bowl LIV:

Sports world reacts to death of Lakers legend Kobe Bryant

Basketball legend Kobe Bryant has died.

The basketball world is mourning the passing of a legend. Los Angeles Lakers shooting guard Kobe Bryant has died in a helicopter crash according to multiple media reports. According to a report from Adrian Wojnarowski, he was on his way to a travel basketball game with his 13-year-old daughter Gianna. Nine people were killed in total per a report from the Associated Press.

Bryant was just 41 years of age.

Several NBA players and personalities reacted upon hearing the news.

 

 

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Speechless..💔

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Heroes come and go LEGENDS live forever‼️#8 #24

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Kobe Bryant had numbers to match incredible play

Kobe Bryant was a player that transcended the game of basketball. He truly embraced the “Mamba Mentality” and worked hard for everything he had on the court. He was the ultimate competitor, and a clutch playoff performer.  A five-time champion and two-time NBA Finals MVP were just some of the things on his resume. He also won an MVP award in 2008. That year, he was a huge reason why the Lakers went on a strong postseason run that culminated in a championship.

An eight-time All-Star, Bryant had both No. 8 and 24 retired by the team. A six-time NBA champion, he embodied what it means to be a competitor. This is a very sad day for not only the entire NBA, but all of sports. He will most certainly be inducted into the Hall of Fame, and will forever go down as one of the greatest players ever to play the game of basketball. Even in his final NBA game on April 13, 2016, he competed until the very end. Scoring 60 points in his finale, it was one of the most impressive feats in the history of the NBA.

As you can see from the tweets above, this is a gigantic loss for the sports world. He will forever be a player that others inspire to be. He will always be remembered as a fearless and tough competitor. Bryant leaves behind a wife and four daughters. This is a historic day and one that will be forever remembered throughout the sports world.

Heat/Lakers is Game Heat Nation Deserves

The Miami Heat host the Los Angeles Lakers Friday in what could be this year’s most anticipated matchup to date.

The timing could not be better.

Miami (18-6) will put their undefeated home record to the ultimate test against a Los Angeles Lakers (22-3) team which has only lost one away game.

Finally the (well deserved) national attention will be on a Heat team that is the most enjoyable in years.

All NBA eyes will be on the American Airlines Arena for the ESPN broadcast, and rightfully so.

A lot of people expected the Lakers to be here, with the combination of Lebron James and Anthony Davis along with a solid supporting cast.

However few outside our market expected this quick cohesion and success from the Heat.

An ignorant or lazy narrative on Jimmy Butler and how he would mesh with a young core.

 

A lack of understanding that Erik Spoelstra only needed a functional, uncluttered roster to free untapped greatness.

 

Now the Heat enter this game with a chance to add momentum to an ascending national profile.

Against Lebron James and a Los Angeles team which has also reset trajectory and expectations instantaneously.

The Lakers have won five straight and 15 out of 16 games, their lone defeat a 114-100 home loss to Dallas.

Miami will have their hands full with a Laker offense that leads the NBA in field goal percentage at 48.7%.

Where they hurt you is down low with Anthony Davis who absurdly leads them in points (27.2), rebounds (9.2), blocks (2.6), and steals (1.5) per game.

They do not rely on the three point shot, attempting the sixth lowest (30.1) per game, but they make them at a 37.1% clip which is fifth best league-wide.

That counters Miami’s excellent defense beyond the arc, their biggest challenge in terms of matchups may be how to stop Davis in the block – who can also stretch the floor from the outside.

The keys for the Heat

For the Heat to have a chance they will have to take care of the ball as they are turning it over a league-high 17.7 times per game. Los Angeles leads the league in blocks per game and are third in steals.

While national respect is not a motive for the Heat in any way, shape, or fashion, you know they will want to put on a show under the brighter lights.

The Lakers had an extra rest day Thursday after a 96-87 slugfest win at Orlando on Wednesday.

Miami enters off another home victory, this time a 135-121 overtime thriller against Trae Young and the Hawks on Tuesday.

Young apparently forgot the Heat are closing games this year.

 

A matchup with two teams rated in the top 10 both offensively and defensively means something has to give.

Both teams should be fresh and expect a full 48 minutes of excellent basketball in this one, the always electric Triple-A should have even more juice Friday.

As should the case for more national spotlight in Heat Nation.

 

 

Miami Dolphins secure draft capital in Aqib Talib trade

The Miami Dolphins made a move on Tuesday.

The Miami Dolphins have made a major move ahead of Tuesday’s trade deadline, and this one should boost the secondary. The Dolphins acquired Aqib Talib from the Los Angeles Rams in exchange for a late-round future draft pick.

If only, he was the Aqib Talib of old. He is currently on IR due to a rib injury. Chances are, he will never see a snap for the Miami Dolphins. Miami basically took on his $4.2 million salary for a fifth-round draft pick.

This is certainly an intriguing move to me. Miami gets an asset that will be used to bolster the team in the future. The fact that they were willing to take on the money portion of things surprises me. However, when you are in a rebuild, the price for a draft pick may be a bit hefty at times.

Miami head coach Brian Flores has already expressed public support for the move. From the sounds of it, Flores hopes to be able to work with Talib. However, there is no denying that the crown jewel in this deal was the draft pick. If the Dolphins can manage to keep Talib around for longer than just this season, that is great. However, I wouldn’t count on it. If Talib walks after the 2019 season, then Miami at least has a draft pick to play with for the future.

It’s intriguing to see all this roster reshuffling. It may seem a little bit tedious right now, but it should put the Miami Dolphins in a better position for the future. Now, the big challenge for the organization will be to make sure that they make the right decisions with these draft picks in the coming years. Again, it is easier said than done. However, I am confident that the organization has done their research. For a rebuild as big as this one, it makes sense to not leave any stone unturned. That certainly was the mindset on Tuesday, as they continue to stockpile resources.

Five Reasons

LeBron James again dumps young players, gets his guy

Somewhere Andrew Wiggins is chucking a bad shot, and smiling.

Just as he did in Cleveland, LeBron James has traded in the future for the present. Patience, as he’s admitted, is not his thing. This time, he did give his new young teammates a season, and it was a brutal one. This time his role in the departure of said young players was more direct, since his agent Rich Paul engineered Anthony Davis’ exit from New Orleans. But just as was the case when the Cavaliers dumped Wiggins for veteran Kevin Love upon James’ arrival, the Chosen One has chosen to go for the now rather than the later.

And who can blame him.

He’s bionic, but he’s now 34, and we saw him start to break down just a bit last season, even if his numbers were exceptionally strong.

Here are the details of this deal, and the devil is in those, since  two of the three first round picks shouldn’t be very high.

It’s not forever, however, even if you’d assume Davis would want to stay.

Why didn’t Boston get him?

Well, you knew this was coming.

Danny Ainge is the king of close calls, and somewhat questionable refusals.

Now James must deliver. The Warriors are reeling, the Rockets have holes (and may move Chris Paul) and there doesn’t seem to be another clear power in the West.

James went to Los Angeles for reasons beyond basketball.

Now maybe, with arguably the best sidekick he’s ever had (different than Dwyane Wade, with less duplication) he can get back to it.

And it means that Miami is still the only place where he wasn’t engineering personnel moves. At least not so many of them.

Spo’s Old Rival now Coaching LeBron? Fun.

During the battles of the Big 3 era, Erik Spoelstra tended to trade platitudes with other coaches, particularly during the playoffs.

He didn’t trade many with Frank Vogel.

Even though they came from similar backgrounds — the video room — there was little warmth. Talk to former Heat players and they’ll tell you that Spoelstra had an occasional expletive for the then-Pacers coach. And you may recall that Spoelstra — and even Pat Riley, in a statement — objected to the Pacers’ tactics against LeBron James and Dwyane Wade in particular. (None of those tactics worked, of course, as the Heat beat Indiana in three straight playoff series.)

Spoelstra did take up for Vogel a couple of times, first when there was speculation about Vogel’s job following the Heat’s win in the 2014 Eastern Conference Finals, and later when Vogel was fired by the Pacers…

Vogel moved on to Orlando, and it was a disaster, as it’s been for most coaches until Steve Clifford there. LeBron, of course, moved on as well, and now he’s moved again, to Los Angeles.

And now Vogel is his coach???

Someone he never really praised — like he praised, say, Brad Stevens or Doc Rivers — while he was with the Heat?

This doesn’t seem sustainable, given LeBron’s history but also given the presence of world class backstabber Jason Kidd, someone LeBron admires.

With Magic Johnson out, Rob Pelinka rising, Kurt Rambis contributing and now Kidd lurking behind Vogel, the Lakers situation does not seem salvageable for LeBron — unless his former Cavs GM David Griffin trades him Anthony Davis. Which Griffin is too smart to do for nothing.

Demand a trade to Miami, Bron. We left a key for you.

The Pat Riley to the Lakers thing won’t die

South Florida sports fans are particularly sensitive about this stuff.

After all, they thought they had a championship coach for the Miami Dolphins when Nick Saban signed on in 2005. He started slow that first season, but won his last six behind Gus Frerotte, signed Daunte Culpepper and seemed poised for greatness until that season soured. Then, toward the end, with rumors swirling, Sun-Sentinel columnist Dave Hyde had the guts to ask him flat out if he would be going to the Crimson Tide.

And you recall the answer…

Soon after, Saban was the Alabama coach.

Still is.

With all those championships.

Recently, as the Los Angeles Lakers have continued to melt down — they’re interviewing Ty Lue for head coach, for bleep’s sake — Pat Riley’s name has been linked on social media to them again. Yes, that Pat Riley. The Heat-president-since-1995-Pat Riley.

Riley, of course, made his name with the Lakers, sort of as a player — and Jerry West’s practice dummy — and then as a broadcaster and the slicked back savant of Showtime. He also stumbled into a discussion about returning in 2004, before Jerry Buss ended up sending him Shaquille O’Neal instead. Jerry has passed, but his daughter Jeanie is trying to recreate the past, and so the reunion story won’t go away. Especially now that Magic Johnson has gone, to tweet inanities instead. And especially since it appears that LeBron James and Riley have patched things some, after Riley was red hot about him for the past few years, and James was annoyed by Riley continuing to mention him.

Riley’s been making overtures like this one (see link).

Oh, and there was this…

That’s why I felt the need to get Riley on the record about the Lakers, and his own future.

Here it was, Saturday:

But you knew it wouldn’t end there. Not with Riley in Malibu already for much of the summer. Not with ESPN’s ridiculous obsession over the Lakers, above all teams currently in the playoffs. Not with it possibly serving his interests to make the Heat, um, sweat a little, as the succession plan still needs to take shape.

So Jeannie wants him back?

That’s not a surprise.

But if Riley goes now, he’s at risk of Saban-ing himself.

Yes, there is an infinitely greater record of goodwill here. Saban was 15-17. Riley has won three championships, and made the playoffs 80 percent of the time.

That, though, is why it will hurt some fans more.

Especially after Riley ripped LeBron for taking off.

Magic Johnson somehow drags Dwyane Wade into it

This has been a nutty night in the NBA, and it’s not just that Dwyane Wade nearly suffered his first significant injury of his age-37 season when he stood on a table, or that Udonis Haslem was draining jumpers again.

Anthony Davis wore this to the arena:

Jamal Crawford did this:

Dirk Nowitzki dropped some big news and then dropped 30…. on 3,012 shots. (But congrats Dirk!)

Oh yeah, and Magic Johnson quit without telling his bosses he was quitting, just eight months after luring LeBron James to start a supposed Lakers renaissance.

But that’s not the weird part.

The weird part was this…

Poor Magic.

He wanted to be in Miami.

So does everyone in Los Angeles  — they just don’t readily admit it.

Right, LeBron?

Windhorst: Space Jam is LeBron’s Championship

LeBron James won’t be in the playoffs this season.

But he will be in a movie theater soon.

And maybe that’s what this was all about.

ESPN’s Brian Windhorst, author of the forthcoming book LeBron Inc., joined the Five Reasons Sports flagship earlier this week to discuss James’ long upcoming summer… and what could potentially redeem a difficult first season with the Los Angeles Lakers.

Here’s the full podcast: https://www.fivereasonssports.com/south-florida-podcasts/five-reasons/

And here’s the clip:

Voices

Thursday Trends: 3 Plays in the NBA Bubble

So some things never change.

Like Dion Waiters’ belief being stronger than your doubt.

But in these Bubble-licious times, much is different than we anticipated. We should be used to odd circumstances by now — after all, who knew we would have a reality TV star overriding the science-based recommendations of one of the most decorated infectious disease specialists on the planet? Or that pizza delivery drivers would become essential workers? Or that the Miami Marlins would be in first place in baseball’s National League East on August 6 after playing just six games?

Here are three NBA trends not everyone saw coming, and how seriously you should take them:

 

“Cash Considerations” Cashing In

Yes, cash considerations. That’s what the Phoenix Suns got for forward TJ Warren and a second-round pick on NBA Draft night. Warren, best known previously for getting the finger and getting called “trash” and “soft” and “not on my f—- level” by the Heat’s Jimmy Butler. Warren has been above everyone level’s in Orlando, averaging 39.7 points in three games, all Indiana Pacers wins.

Will it continue?: Well, not to this degree, since a run like this would rank with anything Michael Jordan ever did -to anyone other than LaBradford Smith. But, while few noticed, Warren was shooting 61 percent in February and 51 percent in March, while averaging 19.9 points per game. So he’s good.

The Betting Edge: Do you trust Indiana in the playoffs? That depends on Domantas Sabonis and Vic Oladipo more than Warren. If the Pacers keep winning, they’ll likely finish 4th or 5th in the East, especially since they have two regular Bubble games left with the Heat. Then they’ll likely face the Heat. And, the Butler-Warren intrigue aside, the Pacers aren’t beating the Heat unless they can throw more at Bam Adebayo than just Myles Turner up front, and can exploit the Heat’s point of attack defensive issues with Oladipo. Will Sabonis (foot) come back? Will Oladipo (knee) round into form? If not, the Pacers are still a first round exit.

 

Raptors Rise 

They’re taking this Lockdown in the Bubble seriously, eh? First in defense through three games with a ridiculous 96.1 rating. Small sample size? Sure. But there’s no reason it can’t continue. The Raptors are quick, long, switchy and deep, and they did a number on the Heat’s offense Monday, frustrating sniper Duncan Robinson off the floor. This has been the NBA’s best team since February 15.

Will it continue?: Why wouldn’t it? Toronto is fully healthy for the first time all season, and has developed a game independent of Kawhi Leonard. Nick Nurse has already proven to be an elite coach. Plus, Kyle Lowry is good for a final minute flop that seals the deal.

The Betting Edge: Keep picking the Raptors until other bettors catch on. News seems to travel slow to the States for some reason (we are dismantling the federal post office here, after all), and even with a few NBA analysts catching on, it’s not like anyone really listens to Kendrick Perkins.

 

Lakers Clankers 

They’re first in the West for sure, having clinched that already, even with LeBron James somehow characterizing that as some sort of unexpected achievement. Anthony Davis is taking the leap after the leap after the leap, establishing himself as a top-5 player until his bad luck forces him to fracture an orbital bone, and LeBron — while disconnected at times so far — should pick up his play when it matters. But here’s the thing: beyond them, this team just isn’t that good offensively, and it’s mostly reflected in their shooting. Even with Rajon Rondo absent for now (which is for the best), the Lakers are making just 25 percent of their three point shots in the Bubble regular season games, and it’s hard to see how that gets much better. That’s the reason they were dead last in offensive rating in the Bubble through four games, at 96.6, which is what TJ Warren now scores for Indiana in a quarter.

Will it last?: Well, this is almost impossible to predict, since you’re counting on the likes of the aforementioned erratic Waiters, TMZ Kyle Kuzma and the always amusing JR Smith. (And what happened to Danny Green?). The question is how much it matters if the Lakers defend as they can, even without Avery Bradley, and Davis and James play to their potential together.

The Betting Edge: It’s difficult to trade 2’s for 3’s all game. If the Lakers draw Portland in the first round, they’re unlikely to lose, but the Blazers might be worth a play on the points a couple of times, with Damian Lillard and CJ McCollum likely to do damage.