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Andre Iguodala: OKC was best team Warriors played in postseason

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The best team in the 2016 NBA playoffs was not the Cleveland Cavaliers Jerseys, at least not in the eyes of Andre Iguodala.

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Iguodala gave that label to the team his Golden State Warriors Jerseys beat in the Western Conference finals — Oklahoma City — and believes the Thunder deserved to win the title.

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Editor’s PicksDurant on move: ‘People don’t like me right now’

Kevin Durant said he talked with former teammate Russell Westbrook about his decision to join the Warriors and knows their relationship “won’t ever be the same.”

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Cuban: ‘Villain’ Warriors good for NBA business

Dallas Mavericks Jerseys owner Mark Cuban said the possibility of the Golden State Warriors Jerseys becoming villains to fans due to their confluence of talent will actually be good for the business of the NBA.

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“They played us better than anyone,” Iguodala told Power 105.1 radio in New York on Wednesday. ” They played us better than Cleveland. Some of the stuff they was doing wholesale basketball, it’s like … ‘Oh, man. We gotta play perfect.'”

The Thunder held a 3-1 series lead on the Warriors in the West finals, but squandered a double-digit lead at home in the second half of Game 6 before being eliminated in Game 7 in Oakland, California.

Much has changed since.

The LeBron James-led Cavaliers delivered the city of Cleveland its first title in more than 50 years thanks to a Game 7 victory over Golden State, which had won the championship a year earlier behind Finals MVP Iguodala.

This month, Thunder star Kevin Durant opted cheap jerseysto leave Oklahoma City via free agency and join forces with Iguodala, Stephen Curry and others with the Warriors.

“Now that we got KD, I can say it: They were the best team last year in the league in the playoffs,” Iguodala said of OKC. “They were better than us. They were better than Cleveland. They were the best team in the playoffs. They should’ve won a championship.”

Mahinmi a center of stability for new-look Pacers

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The news was arriving by text, Twitter, email, videos, news sites. Ian Mahinmi, born and raised in Rouen, France, with family and friends living now in Paris, was trying to make sense of the developing Nov. 13 terrorist attacks that would kill 130 people in the French capital.

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He was also trying to prepare for his NBA game that night as the starting center of the Indiana Pacers Jerseys.

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“I didn’t go through the links because I didn’t have time,” Mahinmi would tell reporters later that night. “Let me try to focus on this game, try to win this game.”

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He would produce 12 points and nine rebounds in a win against the Minnesota Timberwolves Jerseys and their No. 1 overall pick Karl-Anthony Towns. In playing his best game of the young season, Mahinmi was doing what he could to assert control. He was defining himself once again.
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“It’s a very scary time,” said Mahinmi, who has been living in the U.S. as an NBA player for nine years. “It’s a time where I really want to be close to my family. I have a lot of friends in Paris, and I’m happy that everybody is safe. But I’m also so sad for the rest of the people that got killed or got affected by this tragedy.”

His teammates would be drawing closer to Mahinmi over the days to come. It was the least they could do after all that he has done for them. On the court Mahinmi holds himself responsible for anticipating and covering for their mistakes. In the locker room, before and after practice, on the buses and planes and in the social events that he plans routinely, wives and children included, Mahinmi brings the Pacers together. He is a catalyst to the NBA’s most surprising team.

“He’s the guy that you want your daughter to end up marrying — that’s what all the coaches say,” said Indiana coach Frank Vogel. “If I had a daughter, I would want my daughter marrying a guy like that. He is a terrific human being.”

Early lessons in San Antonio

“T.D. didn’t really speak to me my whole first year, except for, ‘Hi, what’s up?”‘ Mahinmi said of his former teammate Tim Duncan. “You have to be around him and earn his respect a little bit. He needs to see what you can bring to the table and what type of character you are.”

Mahinmi had been the surprise discovery of the Spurs as an 18-year-old big man from France. After commissioner David Stern announced his name as the No. 28 pick of the 2005 Draft by San Antonio, his slot on the scoreboard at the Madison Square Garden Theatre in New York remained vacant for several minutes because no name plate had been prepared for him.

Mahinmi remained another two years in the French league before coming to San Antonio, where his three seasons would be blighted by injuries and minimal playing time. But the experience was not wasted on him.

“For me it was his work ethic that really stepped out,” Mahinmi said of Duncan. “You’ve got your best player being on the court an hour before shootaround by himself, getting his shots. He’s always in the weight room. Always on time. Everything to me he does is right. He never does wrong — he’s taking his criticism from the coaches, the press, and he’s never showing any type of bad mood or that he is going to give up on the team or he’s going to be mad. He’s always the same way and he always is so focused.

“Tim, Manu (Ginobili) and T.P. (Tony Parker) are very mentally tough that way. They don’t show much. But they do a lot. Seeing that every day, right away, it was like, man, I want to be that type of player.”

By 2010, Mahinmi was departing in free agency to the Dallas Mavericks Jerseys, who would quickly make use of his institutional knowledge. An injury to backup center Brendan Haywood would create minutes for 24-year-old Mahinmi down the stretch of their successful 2011 NBA Finals comeback against the Miami Heat Jerseys.

“That was huge for my career, for my confidence, for everything,” Mahinmi said of the 27 minutes he played in Games 3, 5 and 6.

“It’s like everything is magnified. All of a sudden every little move matters out there. And all you are doing is thinking about it. You dream about that, you wake up and you’re thinking about it. And the people around you, that’s all they think about too. It’s a time where basketball is just everything.”

I really feel like I have paid my dues. I have been patient. I have been working on my stuff and I kept believing in myself.

– Pacers center Ian Mahinmi

In the course of turning over their roster after the championship, the Mavericks moved Mahinmi to Indiana in a 2012 trade that reunited him with guard George Hill, the former Spur who had become a close friend during their years together in San Antonio. Mahinmi’s education continued for another three years around power forward David West, whose leadership transformed the young Pacers into contenders.

“D-West was more of a leader by example,” Mahinmi said. “He was the guy who was directing people, and that’s what I try to do because I am far back and seeing everything. So when I call the play on defense I try to command my guys to be in the right place at the right time. And I got that from D-West. He was that voice telling you where to be and what was going to happen. On the court, off the court, he was professional.

“It was a big loss for me when he left. I really lost my big brother, so it was tough.”

But it was time. When West sacrificed more than $10 million last summer by opting out of his contract in order to sign for the veteran’s minimum with the Spurs — to experience the same NBA environment in which Mahinmi had been raised — the Pacers faced a turning point of their own. Team president Larry Bird essentially replaced West and starting center Roy Hibbert (traded to the Lakers) with the signing of explosive 6-foot-3 guard Monta Ellis.

The change in identity was abrupt. After years of plodding in the halfcourt, the Pacers were going to relaunch as an uptempo team around Mahinmi, even though he had started only 21 NBA games over the previous eight seasons.

“Ian is a winner,” Vogel said. “To cut your teeth in those two cultures (the Spurs and Mavericks) is why he is who he is today. It’s why he’s so valuable to us as a leader.”

At 7-foot-2 and 270 pounds, Hibbert had difficulty adapting to the NBA trend of smaller, quicker lineups. Mahinmi, surprisingly athletic at 6-foot-11 and 262, is able to defend out to the 3-point line and still recover to protect the rim. The Pacers were seeking to remodel themselves around the strengths of Paul George just one year after his gruesome leg injury, and they were counting on Mahinmi to bring out the best in his 25-year-old teammate.

After an 0-3 start, the Pacers have gone 11-2 while winning their last five games. Mahinmi had 15 points, nine rebounds and four assists in a big divisional victory against the Bulls on Friday, and he added eight points and 10 rebounds in a win Sunday in Los Angeles amid the emotional retirement announcement of Kobe Bryant.

Mahinmi Throws Down

Paul George hits Ian Mahinmi in the lane for the easy dunk.

The Pacers are No. 4 in points allowed (95.6), No. 9 in defensive field-goal percentage (43.0) and No. 3 in forcing turnovers (17.1) around the defensive leadership of George, Hill and Mahinmi. At the other end of the court, Mahinmi’s ability to step away from the basket and make quick decisions with the ball is providing George with space to attack the basket or post up.

“Ian plays the game differently,” said George, who is emerging as an early MVP candidate with career highs of 27.2 points, 8.1 rebounds and 4.4 assists. “I don’t want to discredit everything Roy did. Roy was phenomenal for us. He did a great job. The only difference now is we have a more mobile big, and with his style of play it’s fun for us to be able to get out and run — and have a big that can run with us.”

Mahinmi does not take his long-building development as a team leader for granted.

“I really feel like I have paid my dues,” he said. “I have been patient. I have been working on my stuff and I kept believing in myself.”

In gratitude for those qualities of patience and perseverance, he recalls his upbringing in France. In particular he points to his father.

A world view

“He’s a teacher,” Mahinmi said of his father. “My dad was a teacher, he speaks four languages and wrote two books — nothing that was published, but he wrote the books for himself and for us. Now that I am older I realize that everything he told me is happening.”

His father is from Benin in West Africa. His mother is Jamaican. Mahinmi’s worldly point of view takes account of their cultures as well as his own in France and the U.S.

“He says he’s from France but I don’t believe it,” joked his friend George Hill from the locker next to Mahinmi’s after a recent game. “It’s like you had a passport that had two sides to it — one side said France, the other side said Africa. I said, ‘Which one are you?’ He said it depends on what type of day it is.”

“Oh, stop it,” said Mahinmi, though he couldn’t stop laughing.

“We’ll be listening to music, and it’s like one day he hears African music, one day he listens to French rap,” Hill went on. “I’m like, where you from?”

“I like diversity, man,” Mahinmi said, still laughing. Ian Mahinmi (second from left) has been key to the Pacers’ tight team chemistry.

The open-mindedness that enabled him to embrace the examples of Duncan’s Spurs, Dirk Nowitzki’s Mavericks and West’s Pacers was passed down from his father.

“His books are great,” Mahinmi said of his father’s writings. “It’s a lot about his life. My dad left Africa at an early age and went to my hometown of Rouen. He finished school and became a teacher for poor people — people who came from Africa, from Eastern Europe, from overseas. He was a great teacher.

“Whenever we would go to the grocery store or we were walking downtown, we would always come across somebody that knew my dad. He touched so many people in my hometown. He and my mom were there every step of the way for me.”

As the center of a team that means to thrive in this era of ever-smaller lineups, Mahinmi’s role is to influence the result without need for receiving the credit. His stats are unimpressive — 7.3 points, 6.9 rebounds and a team-leading 1.5 blocks per game — and yet the Pacers’ overnight transformation from big to small could not be succeeding without him.

“It’s all about direction,” Mahinmi said. “You could go 100 miles an hour and you are going nowhere. You have to know where you are going. And then, knowing where you’re going, you have to go the fastest way possible. It’s like my dad tells me, every day when I talk to him on the phone: You can run, you can walk, but once you look back you have to stop. You can’t walk or run and look back at the same time. That is one of the things he has been telling me and my sisters and brothers. I have been trying to go somewhere with direction and with vision.”

A team unifier

For Halloween last month, he and Hill drew together the Pacers and their families for a Halloween party. A few days later, when he turned 29, Mahinmi brought his fellow players out with him to celebrate with a team-building dinner. He is one of those who treats all of the employees of the franchise with respect. He remembers the names of his teammates’ wives and their children.

“I am really proud of that,” Mahinmi said. “I like to know them personally. When you go up to your teammate’s wife and you call her by her first name, she appreciates that. I think that brings us closer as a team.”

What is the secret to chemistry? The pursuit of this question has been directing Mahinmi all his life toward the summit of this high, humble position he holds now, as the unnoticed and yet indispensable member of a team that is outperforming expectations. This is why his teammates have been rallying to support him in these recent days, in the mourning of the attacks on Paris.

“For me this is much more important,” Mahinmi said of his relationships. “You can be a great basketball player, but at the end of the day I’m not just looking at that. I’m looking at you as a person and what type of character you are. And we have great characters. And when I see that, I welcome you into my family. I want to embrace everything, and let’s be more than teammates.”

Let us be more than we were. This is how the big man moves forward, looking ahead, with purpose and joy.

Ian Thomsen has covered the NBA since 2000. You can e-mail him here or follow him on Twitter.

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Tough life experiences have strengthened Raptors’ Casey

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TORONTO — Even now, all these years later, Dwane Casey can smell the juice of the tobacco plants.

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“You hang them high up in the barn, up in the loft, to dry out,” recalls Casey, the 58-year-old coach of the Toronto Raptors Jerseys. “When you’re hanging them up, the juice is dropping down on you. The juice is sticky and by the end of the day it’s all over you.”

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Such was his upbringing in rural Kentucky, four decades ago, a time that seems entirely foreign to anyone who did not live through the changes with him. Work was his answer to everything — he was a high school basketball star who worked in the gyms, classrooms and tobacco fields, on the farm baling hay for two pennies a bale, in the mines shoveling coal.

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“After you came out of the mine everything was black,” Casey says. “You were coughing the black stuff out of your lungs. You don’t even feel it down there while you’re breathing it in. But in the afternoon you would spit it up and it would come up black. That’s why they call it black lung, for the people who work down there for years.”

He is not the type to brag to his players in Toronto about the real meaning of work. But the virtues are there for anyone to see: In his proud upright posture, the command of his whispery voice and contained emotions, the ambition to envision and respond to every detail in advance. So many experiences which might have weakened others have strengthened him.

“I never will forget, when I was young, we couldn’t go and sit in the restaurants,” Casey says of his childhood amid the civil rights movement of the 1960s. “We had to go in the back door, order, and then get the food to go. We couldn’t sit down. Thank God we are blessed that my kids will never see those times and never understand them and never have to feel them.”

Over the games and weeks to come, the pressures of the NBA postseason may be overwhelming. The Raptors, winners of a single playoff series in their previous 20 seasons, figure to be especially vulnerable. Kyle Lowry, DeMar DeRozan and their teammates will be seeking to change the narratives of their careers while rising above the established failures of their franchise.

And yet there has been no myth or random luck attached to their third successive divisional title, their breakthrough 55-win season — the first time Toronto has ever won 50 or more games — and the No. 2 seed that has come with it. They have been building steadily toward this throughout Casey’s five seasons in Toronto. With each year they’ve won more often than the year before. This is who Casey is. This is how progress comes.

“Working in the coal mines, growing up in Kentucky helped me become ready for this,” says Casey from his small Air Canada Centre office near the Raptors’ lockerroom. “The hard work. The people that you meet. The people that you become friends with, and getting to know different types of people. It’s almost like these were life lessons to prepare you for coaching.”

‘It was a nightmare’

Casey was 30 when his career in basketball appeared to be finished.

It was 1988. Casey, who was an assistant coach at Kentucky, his alma mater, had been recruiting the future NBA forward Chris Mills from Los Angeles. A videotape of Mills needed to be mailed back to his father in California. “I was out on the road,” recalls Casey. “So I called our student intern and she put it in the Emery envelope, sealed it and sent it off.”

Casey was scouting at the Dapper Dan high school tournament in Pittsburgh when news broke that the envelope had been opened accidentally in transit and that employees of Emery Worldwide were claiming to have seen $1,000 in cash addressed to the recruit’s father.

“I had never put $1,000 (in the envelope) in my life, first of all,” says Casey. “I did tell her to send back the package. I never touched it to mail it back. All of the records showed that I was out of town when the package left the office.”

The scandal festered. Head coach Eddie Sutton resigned after the following season, amid an NCAA investigation that would result in three years of probation for Kentucky. Initially Casey was banned from NCAA coaching for five years. He sued Emery for $5.9 million, and when the suit was settled for an amount that a friend describes as being well into seven figures, the ban on Casey was lifted.

“But it was too late,” says Casey. “The perception was there. In college basketball, perception is reality. It was a nightmare.”

Unable to find work in the NCAA, Casey moved in 1989 to Japan. He had become friendly years earlier with a Japanese coach who had visited the Kentucky program to study basketball. Now he, in turn, was inviting Casey to coach a team in the Japanese league as well as to help train the national teams of Japan.

Years later Casey would recognizing the blessing of his setback. In Japan he was going to learn how to coach the universal truths of basketball in the simplest and most profound way. Showing, he would find, is better than telling. “It helped me tremendously as far as having to teach the fundamentals,” he says.

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Dennis Scott joins the Toronto Raptors Jerseys to chat with head coach Dwane Casey, Cory Joseph and DeMar DeRozan.

A new world of opportunity was going to be realized while he was still young enough to renew his career. During his exile, Casey was going to visit the pro summer league in Los Angeles. The agent Warren LeGarie was going to connect him to George Karl, coach of the Seattle SuperSonics. By 1996, Casey, in his second year with Karl, would be coaching in the NBA Finals against Michael Jordan’s Bulls. In 11 seasons he would work for three head coaches in Seattle while learning to express his values from an entirely new point of view.

“There is more coaching involved in the NBA on a daily basis, so many more decisions that you make in an NBA game vs. being in a college game, it’s not even close,” Casey says. “At Kentucky we ran the same offensive system for 40 years — the same plays, the same play calls, and nothing changed. Whereas in the NBA you have to have a wrinkle or an adjustment almost on every possession.”

He was going to have to work his way up in the NBA. But then, working hard was never going to be a problem.

The power to move on

Casey’s response to the Kentucky scandal was consistent with the story of his life. This dynamic reminds his boss of Nelson Mandela.

“The biggest strength of that man was the power to forgive, after everything he went through,” says Raptors president Masai Ujiri of Mandela. “I’m not comparing Dwane Casey to Nelson Mandela. But Casey has no animosity there. He lived his life and moved on. Because of that, I am so happy for Casey — because clearly he took the fall. And clearly Dwane Casey is a great man with a good heart. In my humble opinion, he has taken the high road, and this is not an easy trait to have.”

This power to move on, to set aside the grudge, to focus on the fundamentals of who you are and who you want to be — these are at the root of his coaching. He asks of his players that which he has demanded of himself.

“He is a phenomenal human being,” Ujiri says of Casey. “There is nobody else better as a human being. He is so true to himself, and so good to other people. Even during tough conversations, I have never worried about him. Because I know Dwane Casey is going to come back tomorrow to try to be better, and I feel the same way. I try to be better, and so I try to be like him that way.”

When Ujiri was hired to lead the Raptors in 2013, the obvious move would have been to bring in a new coaching staff. Casey had already been fired as head coach of Minnesota midway through his second season amid a 20-20 start in 2006-07. (The Timberwolves have yet to make the playoffs since.) From that experience, Casey learned to trust in his own values and instincts. He was not going to be wishy-washy. He was going to invest in his own principles, and Ujiri was wise to believe in him: After suffering through a 57-91 record in the two years before Ujiri’s arrival, Casey’s Raptors have gone 152-103 in the three years since.

“What are the things that make you better? What are the things that you don’t do so well?” Ujiri says. “We all have weaknesses. We can complain in this business, and me in my position: Why didn’t we do this, why didn’t we score here, why didn’t we substitute there or blah, blah, blah, blah. But as a person there is not one day that you were thinking you don’t feel comfortable around that guy. Zero. Not one day. It is truly a gift, and it is very rare. Because coaching is a tough job. And he is a great man.”

For all of their growth, the Raptors are still lacking their version of LeBron James, whose top-seeded Cleveland Cavaliers Jerseys stand in the way. If that transcendent star can be acquired or developed in Toronto, could Ujiri imagine Casey winning an NBA title someday? As an assistant with Dallas, Casey’s defensive principles helped transform the offensive-minded Mavericks into 2010-11 champions. Could he build on that success as a head coach?

“I think so,” Ujiri says. “In my heart I do think so. We all have the things that we all have to work on, and things we have to get better at. He definitely has the leadership attributes that you want, and he is dying to do it. That is part of it. You live your life dying to win. And that’s what he does. Dwane Casey dies to win.”

Sports aspect over social aspect

“My mom and dad moved to Indianapolis to get a better job, because the jobs were very scarce in my county,” says Casey. “So they went to Indianapolis and started living there. I stayed and lived with my grandparents.”

Casey was the oldest of five children. His grandmother was a domestic maid who cleaned houses in Morganfield (current population 3,556) in western Kentucky. His grandfather worked two dry cleaning jobs.

“It wasn’t abnormal in the black South at that time,” says Casey of staying behind at a young age while the rest of his family moved away. “Obviously, from the outside, it looks dysfunctional. But for me it was very functional. I thought I had a very solid upbringing with mature parents and grandparents. So I had the best of both worlds between my grandparents and my parents.”

He was raised to view adaptation and compromise as strengths. Casey would seek out opportunities wherever they could be found. “I remember when he was in sixth grade, he went to every teacher and he said, ‘I want to work hard on my studies and make straight A’s if I can. I will do extra work, stay after school, do any paper you want,”’ his childhood friend Jerry McKamey says. “He told his teachers he wanted to play basketball at the University of Kentucky and he needed his academics to be strong.”

Casey was among three players who were sent onto Kentucky by Ernie Simpson, their coach from Union County High School. “I think I got the job when I was 24,” says Simpson, who is 70 now. “I went over to the junior high school, and Dwane was painting the school’s classrooms and hallways. He talked to me like he was already a young adult. My wife asked me if I’d found a player or two and I said, ‘I don’t know — but I found me a leader.”’

Casey was going into fourth grade when he was moved from an all-black school into a school of white students as part of a federally-mandated program of integration. “The first month I was in a fight almost every day,” Casey says. “Because I got called the N-word. Today some of those same guys are my buddies. As we went through school, they became my best friends. I don’t know if they were taught at home to be like that, or what the situation was.”

He does not remember feeling insecure or threatened, he insists, in spite of his memories. “I saw a few of the Ku Klux Klan — they had rallies in downtown Morganfield,” Casey says. “Dick Gregory was going through the South to promote civil rights, and he spoke in downtown Morganfield, on the courthouse steps, when they were trying to integrate the schools. When he was speaking, the Klan was driving around the courthouse in the back of a truck. They didn’t do anything. They didn’t say anything. But just the visual of them going around the courthouse, I remember that vividly. And I remember they had fountains for whites and coloreds at the county courthouse.”

He went to Kentucky on the recommendation of the former governor, Earle C. Clements, whose house was cleaned by Casey’s grandmother. When Casey was in high school, he served occasionally as the governor’s driver. “He was close with Dr. (Otis) Singletary,” says Casey of the longtime Kentucky president. “So he said, ‘They’ve got this boy down here in Union County, he’s a good basketball player. You’ve got to come down and look at him.’ They sent the coaches down to see me play, and that was my first connection with the University of Kentucky.”

Casey had been eight years old when the all-white team of Kentucky was upset in the 1966 NCAA final by the all-black team of Texas Western. “When I was being recruited, everybody was saying, ‘Why are you going to Kentucky? They don’t like black people. Why are you going there?”’ Casey says. “I was thinking about it being a championship program, with games on television and that type of thing. I was looking more at the sports aspect of it than the social.”

Kentucky was going to win the 1978 NCAA title on a spectacular 41-point performance by Jack Givens. Casey, the backup point guard, was named captain as a senior the following year. “I had kind of thought about transferring somewhere else to where I could play more,” Casey says. “But then, my junior year, I realized, OK: I am not going to be an NBA player.”

Over his last two years as a player, Casey made numerous appearances at community events, city meetings and high school graduations. He was learning to connect with all kinds of people as he made speeches, shook hands and listened attentively. Even then, without foresight, he was preparing for this job he has now.

‘One misstep…’

“Here’s what made it scary,” says McKamey, now a successful businessman in Nashville. “You were 450 feet under the ground and the roof of the mine was only five feet tall. There was always the fear of the roof falling in on you. People died when we worked in the mine – it happened. The roof would fall in on people and it was very scary.”

This was the summer after Casey’s freshman year at Kentucky. The mine was in Union County.

“They always said any time you saw a rat, it was safe,” says Casey. “Somehow rats have a sense of whether there is a faulty roof. When you saw a rat, even though I hated rats, it was a good thing. Because it would mean the roof was safe and it wasn’t about to cave in or anything. That was why some of the old miners would leave food out for the rats.”

McKamey and Casey spent the summer together in the mine. Their job was to shovel coal away from the apparatus that delivered the coal above ground. McKamey’s father also worked there.

“My father worried about myself and Dwane both,” McKamey says. “The machinery was very dangerous. Dwane is 6-foot-3, and we would shovel on our knees frequently. It’s a continuous 59 degrees under ground, but we sweated the same as if we were outside in the hot sun.”

“We had to go in the morning until 3 or 4 in the afternoon,” Casey says. “As soon as I got through, I would go right to the gym. That first shower would get all the coal off me and then I’d go work out. When I went to play basketball in the afternoon and lift weights, I would have the black around my eyelids. They looked like I had mascara on.”

Casey remembers clearing $10,000 from that summer of 1976. He spent the money on a car.

“More than anything else it put the fear of failure in you,” Casey says. “Not to say that was a bad way of life. But you didn’t want to go back to that. There are so many lessons to learn growing up in the small town, working the coal mines, all of those hard labor jobs. It developed you as a person for how hard you had to work. And it developed a motivation, at an early age, of not wanting to have to do that to make a living.”

That view was reinforced two summers later by Joe B. Hall, Casey’s coach at Kentucky, who invited Casey and other players to work on his tobacco farm.

“It was probably a dangerous job,” Casey says. “You’re going down a row and cutting the tobacco with these machetes. The machete was so sharp, and then you take that tobacco leaf and you put it on a spike. One misstep and that spike goes through your hand.”

Rick Robey and other Kentucky players would join Hall out in the field over the years. Casey does not look back on the episode as a team-building exercise by his coach. “No, he was just trying to get cheap and easy labor,” says Casey, laughing. “It was a good way for us to legally make some money. And we definitely earned it. Coach Hall was out there cutting it too, so I wasn’t going to let him outwork me.”

Give respect, get respect

“If somebody is a great guy, a great person, you can’t do nothing but have the utmost respect for him,” says DeRozan, the Raptors’ leading scorer. “And that’s what we have for Casey.”

DeRozan, 26, has become a two-time All-Star at shooting guard while playing for Casey. The impact on 30-year-old Lowry has been even more pronounced: He has escaped his negative reputation as a hardheaded teammate while earning a place in the last two All-Star games, most recently as a starter on his home floor in Toronto. Lowry and his teammates have grown to respect the enduring focus of their coach.

“We actually seen him on the plane one night, fighting sleep to watch film,” DeRozan says. “He kept nodding off. But he was watching the film. He wasn’t going to stop watching.”

“It was after a game,” Lowry says, and then he does the imitation: Elbow on the table, pen poised high between fingers, his head drifting and then snapping awake, dozing and snapping upright again.

“It was late,” says DeRozan, sticking up for his coach.

“But it was a classic moment,” says Lowry, laughing. “I wish I had it on video. I would put that on Instagram immediately. But he works, man, and you’ve got to respect it.”

Toronto has climbed from No. 23 in defensive efficiency last season to No. 11 this year without a major change in personnel. The gains were made even though small forward DeMarre Carroll, a major free-agent who had been expected to toughen the defense, was sidelined for 60 games by a knee injury. The Raptors have improved by believing in the schemes of their coach, which is akin to believing in themselves.

How much further can that trend be extended? There are going to be moves thrust upon Casey over these next several weeks that cannot be planned out entirely in advance. These are the decisive reactions that are sure to invite criticism. And yet how many NBA coaches are better suited to make them?

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“When you treat players with respect and treat them like human beings, you get more out of them than anything else,” Casey says. “That’s all you can ask for in life: To treat people with respect, and get the respect back.”

From rural Kentucky to one of North America’s most cosmopolitan cities, from a college ban to his sport’s richest stage, the Raptors coach looks 20 years younger than he should. His soft voice carries more authority than you can hear. His demeanor, like his posture, perfect as it is, has been chiseled by a lifetime of disciplined forbearance.

His team, for all of its success, is still the underdog.

There is something very natural to this confluence of urgency, expectation and common sense. To see him working these playoffs will be to affirm how far he has come, to appreciate the distance — and to recognize, suddenly, that Dwane Casey is not so far away from home.

Ian Thomsen has covered the NBA since 2000. You can e-mail him here or follow him on Twitter.

The views on this page do not necessarily reflect the views of the NBA, its clubs or Turner Broadcasting. Trending

Blazers’ McCollum named Kia NBA Most Improved Player

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NEW YORK — The Portland Trail Blazers’ CJ McCollum, who more than tripled his scoring average from the previous season, is the winner of the 2015-16 Kia NBA Most Improved Player Award, the NBA announced today. The 6-4 guard joins Kevin Duckworth (1987-88) and Zach Randolph (2003-04) as the only Trail Blazers to earn the award, which is designed to honor an up-and-coming player who has made a dramatic improvement from the previous season or seasons.

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McCollum received 101 first-place votes and 559 total points from a panel of 130 sportswriters and broadcasters throughout the United States and Canada. Kemba Walker of the Charlotte Hornets Jerseys (seven first-place votes, 166 points) and Giannis Antetokounmpo of the Milwaukee Bucks (four first-place votes, 99 points) finished second and third, respectively. Players were awarded five points wholesale jerseys for each first-place vote, three points for each second-place vote and one point for each third-place vote.

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McCollum averaged a career-high 20.8 points (18th in the NBA) in his third season since being selected by the Trail Blazers with the 10th pick of NBA Draft 2013 presented by State Farm. He raised his scoring average by 14 points from last season’s 6.8, the largest increase (minimum 40 games each season) since Tony Campbell improved by 17 points from 1988-89 (6.2) to 1989-90 (23.2). McCollum established career highs in field goal percentage (44.8), three-point field goal percentage (41.7, eighth in the NBA), assists (4.3 apg) and rebounds (3.2 rpg), helping Portland make the playoffs for the third consecutive year.

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Last season, McCollum appeared in 62 games (three starts) and averaged 15.7 minutes. He scored in double figures 18 times and reached the 20-point mark three times. This season, as one of four new starters for Portland, McCollum hit double figures in 79 of his 80 games, scored at least 20 points in 40 games and notched eight 30-point games. McCollum ranked ninth in the NBA with 197 three-pointers made, and he teamed with Damian Lillard to form the league’s third-highest scoring duo (45.9 ppg).

As part of its support of the Kia NBA Most Improved Player Award, Kia Motors America (KMA) will donate a brand new Sorento CUV to the Boys & Girls Clubs of Portland Metro on McCollum’s behalf. Kia will present a 2016 Sorento to the charity of choice of each of five 2015-16 year-end award winners as part of the Kia NBA Performance Awards. Following this season, Kia will have donated a total of 43 new vehicles to charitable organizations since its support of the NBA’s prestigious honors began in 2008.

2015-16 KIA NBA MOST IMPROVED PLAYER AWARD RESULTS

Player | Team | 1st place (5 pts) | 2nd place (3 pts) | 3rd place (1 pt) | Total Points

CJ McCollum | Portland Trail Blazers | 101 | 14 | 12 | 559

Kemba Walker | Charlotte Hornets Jerseys | 7 | 37 | 20 | 166

Giannis Antetokounmpo | Milwaukee Bucks | 4 | 17 | 28 | 99

Stephen Curry | Golden State Warriors | 7 | 13 | 9 | 83

Will Barton | Denver Nuggets | 1 | 16 | 9 | 62

Jae Crowder | Boston Celtics | 1 | 8 | 16 | 45

Draymond Green | Golden State Warriors | 2 | 10 | 3 | 43

Isaiah Thomas | Boston Celtics | 3 | 3 | 6 | 30

Hassan Whiteside | Miami Heat Jerseys | 1 | 6 | 3 | 26

Kawhi Leonard | San Antonio Spurs | 1 | 2 | 7 | 18

Andre Drummond | Detroit Pistons Jerseys | 1 | 1 | 3 | 11

Gary Harris | Denver Nuggets | 1 | 0 | 1 | 6

Kent Bazemore | Atlanta Hawks Jerseys | 0 | 1 | 1 | 4

Evan Fournier | Orlando Magic Jerseys | 0 | 0 | 4 | 4

Rodney Hood | Utah Jazz | 0 | 1 | 0 | 3

Russell Westbrook | Oklahoma City Thunder | 0 | 1 | 0 | 3

Reggie Jackson | Detroit Pistons Jerseys | 0 | 0 | 3 | 3

Ian Mahinmi | Indiana Pacers | 0 | 0 | 3 | 3

Zach LaVine | Minnesota Timberwolves | 0 | 0 | 1 | 1

Kyle Lowry | Toronto Raptors | 0 | 0 | 1 | 1

* Past Kia NBA Most Improved Player winners available here * Trending

Kobe Bryant:More Than A Sneaker

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The room was empty, terrible silence.This is the corner that is forgotten memory.

Adjacent to closet in the bathroom looks don’t belong to anyone.

Wardrobe kit without any traces of wear, this special night also won’t someone wear him.Beside the hook is a laundry bag, put in a plastic bottle containing the protein powder.

No particular thing, the lakers’ locker room a bare chest, telling everything he ever master.

Locker before there is a mysterious rectangular box, black mesh chair on a shoe box, box on the envelope only write a word: kobe Bryant.

A promise in the box, let a person feel a continuously exceed energy.Bouncing colour eyes, let a person feel excited.This is a pair of shoes that Sick color matching.

It is a pairs of sneakers, and more than tennis shoes.Not now, may not always be, especially now, shoe represents everything.

Kobe Bryant will retire at the end of the season.Too many things will end, although goodbye to say.

Kobe Bryant this season every bend is from his farewell one step closer to his sneakers never like now.It is Bryant’s 20-year career partner, also recorded all of his stories.

Kobe Bryant shoes is not just about the color, players version and release date for these, its beauty and star science and technology is the best.

Sneakers is Bryant link between rival, the fans, it is easy to let them deal each other’s feelings, make people more really be his final season.

They not only shoes.

Kobe Bryant signature shoe is put on great recognition for Bryant, put on his shoes is no longer something big is not.

This is kobe Bryant thanks to the challenge of the game every time, every time, is his new areas.

When kobe Bryant’s signature shoe gifts this season, lebron, George and drummond – green soon to send the photos to social media, bless kobe Bryant’s impact on and his irreplaceable low in history.

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Kobe Bryant to Kevin durant’s signature shoe that read: “to KD, to become one of the greatest players.”, this let freddy adu could not hide the heart happy.

Trevor ariza specially with Bryant four generation of tennis shoes and went to the lakers’ locker room please sign Bryant, it was in 2009 when he was with the lakers winning wear sneakers.

“I have great respect for the guy.”The the bleachers, Bryant said: “as rivals and teammates, they mean to me too much. Because we cherish my style of play, I want to pass such shoes (send) to express their gratitude.”

On several hands out the presents, and a unique pair of tennis shoes is the most true and perfect gift – a special kind of gratitude and respect the way – this is kobe Bryant and of the younger generation.

“He’s kobe Bryant.”Nick Yang said: “he basically represents everything.”

“This is Bryant’s signature shoe, he is the reason I wear these shoes, he is the idol of my life.”- German – booker

So we have to listen to for many years, players like to wear the sneakers with Bryant on the pitch to pay homage to him.

“It’s an honor, I am very happy.”Bryant said: “really makes me happy, their relationship is very special to me, this is the way they express gratitude. I want to try to save me from Michael Jordan and his elder generation, learned they wanted me to pay homage to the way is to wear my shoes. It means so much to me.”

Sneakers tells the story of kobe Bryant’s career, happy, pain, victory and heartbreak, each feeling is engraved on the signature shoe, rubber pad and fly line.Tennis shoes left, then follow the five lines represent the kobe Bryant’s career to surmount the obstacle: his Achilles tendon.

Kobe Bryant’s signature shoes have never been so important.

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But they are not only the shoes, he never would be.

1, one of the best shoes

Tony – Allen didn’t play, in the past few weeks how he didn’t match.For he who loves playing out very lost, he is awake.

But as long as the team win, Allen can always quickly forget these brief unhappiness.Either as a spectator, he ate fast food, or by teammate stupid jokes amused laughter, or just stay quietly.

In fact his teammates to Allen extreme style of play is curiosity and wonder, they cannot understand Allen enthusiasm for defense, always laugh at him.

So on February 24, after beating the lakers’ locker room, not playing Allen sat in the locker room, Vince carter came over and pushed him.

“You are a defensive or two array?”Carter asked.”What is a or two array?”

“A while.”Although born in Chicago, but Allen a strong southern accent is very difficult to change.

Teammates continue to smile, until a man walked in, a Los Angeles caddie.He hands behind, go straight to the front of the Allen’s locker.

“I have a gift for you.”

“Who gift? To?”

“It is kobe Bryant.”

Ball boy out of the hands of a pair of white and blue color of 11, kobe Bryant on the right foot shoes wrote: “to Tony, I met the best defender.”Shoes on his left foot is kobe Bryant, 24″

Allen shocked, teammates to quiet down, gathered round.They all want to see kobe Bryant shoes, he would read the tennis shoes.A few weeks ago, Allen asked Bryant to give yourself a signed jersey, but Bryant pretend to forget the matter, Alan don’t want to disturb him.

Allen deeply impressed by the moment, he knows that he will always remember this moment.He hides his excited tears quietly.

I want to control myself.”Allen said.”I would cry out, I have to endure.Before this pair of shoes means everything to me, I will be thinking about how to defend Bryant, dream also want to wake up, also want to eat breakfast, the game also thinking on the road.I’ve seen countless times kobe Bryant’s singles and low video, I have been thinking about how to defend him.This pair of shoes is his honor to me, I can’t believe it.”

In the next few days, kobe Bryant will always emerge in Allen’s brain.”He gave me the shoes after, I thought for a long time, I was wondering what about my shoes.”

Over the past few years he was repeatedly and Allen conflict, he never spoke with Allen, he also have no reason to talk to Allen.Allen are normal, but kobe Bryant scored last year after a record “star whistle”.He finally broke the silence of Allen.”You never whistle like that.”Kobe Bryant said.”Don’t be so dry.”

“Why?”Allen asked.

“You told me,” Bryant said.”It is completely different people.”

The whistle is not important, Allen has been think kobe Bryant is how to see him.11 years later, he finally got to answer.

“I will be dreaming of Bryant, eat breakfast will also want to.”- Tony – Allen

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Two days after receiving shoes, grizzly bears away against the lakers.After Bryant came to Aaron, this is the first time after receiving the shoes Allen to see kobe Bryant, he held out his hand to.

“I usually shake hands with others and leave,” Allen said: “I never talk with people hug.”

Bryant unexpectedly gave Allen a bear hug, a grizzly bear social team captured the scene quickly to social media.Back in the locker room after the game, Allen to browse the information in the mobile phone, when you see yourself with the pictures of kobe Bryant, respect in his eyes.

“I see the photos with 20 minutes, I didn’t notice what the coach said.”Allen said.”Kobe once don’t know who I am, now he give me hug.”

Allen has never been kobe Bryant’s arch-rival, nor kobe terminator.But their great achievement between each other, so communication is logical.

Shoe is the way kobe Bryant to say thank you, even if he had never said that.Write your own praise on 14 yards of shoes, it’s unbelievable for Allen.

“I’m not the kind of person who get 40 points, also could not make the turn, I also shot back step three. Defense is all my work, when he gave me the shoes, I realized that all his efforts, video study, all the sleepless nights, all is worth you pay for the game.”

Chapter ii Bryant VS Bruce Willis: lone ranger

Kobe Bryant is nervous, he could not control his, he hate this feeling.

He sat in the back of a black SUV, the car to a studio in Los Angeles.

Bryant sit in front of the lens, this is his first time to participate in the film, he didn’t want to let oneself too tight.

This feeling was unable to hide, he must allow yourself to relax.

12 years ago, Bryant came across a micro movie named “mariachi”, its production costs than be on 120 seconds to earn his money.

“The story immediately attracted to me.”Kobe Bryant said.”I like that movie, narrative can bring you a strong visual impact. He didn’t even need to play, I think that guy can sit chair in an empty house film, scene is very interesting.”

Know who is the guy know, Bryant began to search the director Robert rodriguez’s other works, he soon became the a jeans, wearing hat director fan.

Rodriguez like in cold doping satire and humor in his work, his new movie “lone ranger” kobe is interested in.

Bryant had not seen before rodriguez, 2010 when advertising shoot him with shooting on the set of the Spy Kids “rodriguez once hello, rodriguez don’t know much about basketball, but Bryant can carry out a large number of lines in the” lone ranger “or let him very touched.

Kobe Bryant is the director of the fans, his black mamba nickname comes from rodriguez friends quentin – tarun dino movie “kill bill” the act of revenge: a poisonous snake hidden in a suitcase full of $1 million.

Rodriguez didn’t want to take advertising – he’s movie cafe, the results of the long 6 minutes of the “black mamba” movie launched in 2011, star actors including kanye west, Bruce Willis and Danny, Joe, the whole movie contains more than 40 special effects shots, participate in staff nearly 200 people, it is one of the best shoes in the history of advertising.

Rodriguez told Bryant about his idea: “we want to do some great things, to the advertising film totem.”

Rodriguez suggest the opening scene of the “lone ranger” moved to AD: Steve cloth Sammy walked into a dark bar, chatting with a table for dangerous large, in fact, he did.

But this is from the story of kobe Bryant’s mouth, is designed to be a superhero movie, destroy the human in the basketball court.

After the first day of shooting, Bryant out of suvs on the way to the director.

“Acting what tricks?”Kobe Bryant asked Rosa guide: “I feel it is too difficult.”

The director take basketball comparing with acting, the kobe relaxed many.On the court, he thinks kobe Bryant would be embodiment in the moment the black mamba.

“This is what you want to show the content.”Rodriguez to Bryant said: “to transform their roles, you will have is an actress.”

Bryant’s nerve began to slack off, director is to give him confidence.The first day of filming rodriguez, Bryant a task, let him play with Bruce Willis opening scenes, Willis told kobe Bryant don’t have their own feeling of the performance: “don’t want to those, bold to do it.”

Willis chasowa, he is a notorious gangster (kanye west) dog legs, the boss want to get the black mamba sneakers.The story took place in an abandoned on the basketball court, Willis and his men want to match with kobe Bryant.

“Black mamba,” chasowa shouted: “what a bad name, this is your mother lost bet punishment?”

“When you did play with Bruce, you can feel himself into the theatre.”Rodriguez said.”Since then, he went into the theater.”

As the black mamba kobe Bryant found his other side: “when speaking you have to be full of anger.”

Bryant wanted to think, and then said: “no problem.”

The third chapter He is our Jordan

DE mar – demar derozan know he want to come to Toronto, he wanted to show kobe Bryant sneakers.The lanky high school students from Compton has a pair of Nike Air Zoom Huarache 2 k5 ID sneakers.Don’t know friends of science and technology have been discussing the color of this pair of shoes.

Bryant came to Santa ana, 30 miles away from Los Angeles to the Nike camp in mei ted’s high school.Hit a few shots, he encouraged a bunch of NBA star in the future.

Bryant XiangDeLuo demonstrates how to create space when dribbling, also emphasized the importance of strain capacity.

These basketball teenagers gave up a baseball game, that night and went to see kobe Bryant, as if the night Boston would like: a tie-break finals.

In confrontation with kobe Bryant, demar derozan realized the veteran in low lethality and subtle footwork.Demar derozan after in the transformation made several record jumper, Bryant called him to his side, when he saw the shoes on his feet kobe to praise smile.

For the Compton young, everything is enough.

“It’s all because kobe.”Demar derozan said: “I imitate him every day, and I spent $15, with a bloody nose in the BBS arena to watch his game.”

Demar derozan is not only the younger generation of honey.

“I do all this because he.Grade two wolves defender zach – said, Bryant just came into the league he is only 1 years old.He wore no. 8 and pay tribute to their hero.”He is my Jordan, he is my idol.”

“I want to thank he changed my life.”A few weeks ago, German – booker career with kobe Bryant play for the first time, and last time after said: “he is too big, the influence of to me from my state of mind to play,

Lavin seen kobe’s game at the age of 7 to site, this let his friend envy.Small lavin from Seattle to Los Angeles to see his uncle, uncle take him to the staples center to see the lakers game.Sitting room at the top of the seat, lavin witnessed kobe had 12 remember three points feat.

“12 three points.”La Wen Xingfen recalls: “remember that game?”

For German – Brooks, he only know kobe Bryant.Four days after he was born in kobe NBA career debut, booker in Michigan big creek city home backyard ballgames, shooting when the motions of kobe Bryant and cried out, “kobe Bryant”, booker like on YouTube to find highlights of kobe Bryant.

For young players to wear the sneakers with kobe Bryant is one of the most simple salute his way, kobe knows that.

Because haven’t received a season before Bryant’s shoes, in games with the lakers demar derozan wore a pair of sneakers and name that Joe 4, noted that the details of the kobe Bryant put everything on my face.

“He’s not happy.Demar derozan said.”Shoes represents love, he gave me ringing off the hook in the ball.”

Lavin sprained his ankle in section 11 black month, back when the selected 10, but finally he managed to switch back to the section 11.

“When you find anything you like, just stick to it.”The celtics forward to Mr. – Claude also wear kobe shoes.”No reason to mess up a good thing.”

For many people, kobe Bryant shoes not only have a low help of revolutionary, is the perfect combination of comfort and concise.

“Everything I do because he, he is my Jordan. He is my idol.”- zach – lavin

As a football fan, Bryant’s love football players low help shoes.The football player obviously require more ankle protection.

“Kobe’s idea is very good.”Demar derozan said, “cut and get us more than football player, he thought about this.”

The hornets forward Marvin Williams of low group of fans will hold doubt attitude.”I usually fall in the game, so I need a lot of protection.”Marvin said, “but I wear low help shoes also has five years.”

“Young people’s positive feedback let us think, oneself do something about.”Bryant said: “I am demanding of their products, hope they have extremely high performance. I’d like to know how I can make the product more superior, each pair of shoes is more excellent than the previous generation.”

“With raja bell against, he also wear my shoes. I want to know if the shoe is also helpful to him, this is my concern.”

Other stars are not so, James sneakers in the NBA there is not much, because huang zhan don’t like to wear the sneakers with his game opponents.A shoe expert said: “James hope to be able to enjoy his own signature shoe, you wear his shoes on the pitch doesn’t increase his affection for you.”

James has repeatedly hinted that does not encourage the opponent to wear his shoes.Preseason James said: “if I see you wear my shoes, I’m going to hit you. I am such people, I won’t let you.”Lavin, 21, will understand this truth.

“I told kobe Bryant against won’t wear his shoes.”The two-time dunk contest champion said: “fight with lebron and freddy adu, you I will not wear their shoes. I don’t want to give anyone the psychological advantage, I wear your shoes is weakness at you. I like your shoes, but I won’t come to you mainly to.”

As the honey, lavin, sometimes don’t know what to wear which pair.

In mid-march knight away from the clippers, the only after the game, the knight defender Matthew d than feet bubble on the ice bucket, arms bent at the knee.Reporter asked him why families and 11 prefer of 10, Vito Della tile at a loss to say with smile: “I don’t know, I don’t know what is 10.”

His neighbor in the locker room iman – sweet alpert after heard laughter, sweet alpert said: “you are asking the wrong person, ask who don’t also ask him.”

Sweet alpert said Della d don’t know anything about shoes, Daly admitted it.Then fragrant pearl with strong Australian accent said, “hey, I like this pair of shoes.”

The fourth chapter Bryant “problem” of the boots

The ball flew to the basket again and again to the bomb, it looks so easy.Pulling up, ball shot, a wonderful like rainbows.Have been in, don’t seem to have stopped.

In the end is 12.

Him as usual to the bench, her ability as a ray of cheer.His finger pointing to the sky, he didn’t know he had made history.

Now he also maintained the NBA in 3-point streak, but you didn’t pay attention to a detail.

Craned when all the people staring at those beautiful picturesque three points, they didn’t notice that kobe Bryant is wearing a pair of reebok “problems” series of basketball shoes, kobe Bryant was in the window period of basketball endorsement.

With adidas kobe just finished buy out at that time, he needs to find a new shoe company.It is very difficult, kobe Bryant will not make a decision in a hurry, so the entire 2002-03 season without any shoe brands of the contract.

Nike gave him all sorts of color Joe Joe three and four, there are a lot of slippers, this let Bryant felt the respect.He has to ask for a lot of reebok, head of the “problem” series of shoes, that is the first a pair of signature shoes Allen iverson.Reebok provides a variety of color, including the lakers purple color matching.In addition to his heels as well as a symbol of 8.

But the gift is not let Bryant tempted, he wants to have his own signature shoe and related advertising, like Michael Jordan.

When the late summer of 2002, kobe Bryant to the reebok headquarters in Canton, Massachusetts.He wants to know the strength of the shoe brand, is also the goal of reebok sign Bryant.

Over the past six years, has been actively expanding reebok.Thanks to international strategy and iverson’s popularity, and he endorses products of the production line.

Reebok’s star had all-star guard Steve Francis, baron Davis and 2002 draft yao.Jason Richardson, dressed in a “basket” series won the dunk contest shoes, reebok strategy eventually received effect.

Kobe Bryant is the next important target of their expansion, as early as before the arrival of a few weeks, Bryant reebok have been prepared for staff.

Kobe Bryant carefully listened to the reebok executives talk, long-term strategy, and put forward a lot of company marketing plans and brand strength, etc. These problems.

“He’s extremely well prepared.”Reebok market vice President Todd Collins base recalls: “he is a very strong-minded man.”

Reebok for kobe Bryant to design the initial model of his signature shoes.

Meet half way through, dark lights.Reebok to show kobe shows a big six short game elements – including his turn, create space and end – he was on the nickname “the assassin”, closely linked to the characteristics of each skill with shoes.

Was over, kobe Bryant was impressed by the film.Although he felt assassin this nickname is not enough, reebok is doing his best.

Before going to the airport, Bryant wanted to go to basketball practice under the ball hall, trainers have been by his side.Reebok staff gave he a pair of shoes that iverson and kobe Bryant’s training begins.Shortly after meeting with reebok team, Bryant next to its headquarters in the open-air stadium carrying the ball, with the change.

Reebok company’s financial, designers, and advertising sales have had the opportunity to see the figure of the three-time NBA championship to practise, lot of people gathered round photos, Bryant dribbling in rush often draw their amazing.

Kobe Bryant has never looked up and look at the.

Reebok top shine for Allen iverson and kobe Bryant binary thrilled with his idea.

Collins said.”We thought he was infinitely close to signing him, but I know I shouldn’t hopes too high. Considering the endorsement and relations, things will plummet.”

Kobe Bryant like “problems” series of tennis shoes, praised their comfort and design.Put on the shoes, kobe Bryant did well.

On January 7, 2003, he is wearing the shoe broke the three points single-game record in the NBA.

When kobe Bryant in the 2003 all-star game in put on a pair of 3 Joe, reebok as if already know the result.

Bryant choose signed a contract with Nike, opened up an efficient and creative cooperation relations, the height of the both sides is a shoe company didn’t before.

I chose to sign with Nike because their creative design team, from the brand market and business execution and so on into consideration.”Bryant said.”This is my own choice, no matter who I like signing can succeed in the business, so I just signed with Nike.”

Although with reebok cooperation extremely brief, but kobe Bryant still left 12 remember three points that game of tennis shoes.

Bryant signed with Nike a few weeks later, base on the elevator met Collins kobe Bryant and his agent rob – palin card, both sides shook hands.Bryant’s smile is like saying: “it is business.”The elevator door opened, Bryant left.

For reebok, what happens if they end up with kobe Bryant?Fetching daydream.

Chapter 5 of the best tennis shoes gift (part 2)

Caron butler is uncertain how Bryant, Bryant he heard all control the story of how strong, know that he is a man of hard to get.Bryant went into the room, feel nervous.He is very cold, unfriendly, likes to be alone.

But when he as a bargaining chip shaquille o ‘neal trade came to Los Angeles, butler decided to see see.He began to kobe Bryant to introduce myself everything is harmonious.

Butler asked Bryant: “do you want to go out to play with us for a while?”

Bryant looks surprised by the question to the teammates don’t usually ask him to go out to play.Most people think kobe Bryant will be refused, so they don’t ask, his new team-mates not especially.

“He told me that nobody invited him to do anything.”Butler said, “because he is a trump card here, but that doesn’t mean he is not the ordinary people, not like others to play.”

Bryant butler we pay close attention to from the start, he wants to try the butler’s competitiveness.

“Since the first day of training, we have communication.”Bryant said: “our relationship has become increasingly close, I will go out to dinner with him, I went out he will be with me. We was like peas and carrots.”

This is what they become friends after, Bryant will invite butler to home to enjoy two people will be when away from home go out for dinner.Butler is not in the movies, he will appear in the room of the hotel lobby or kobe Bryant.

“We will go to high school play,” butler said: “it doesn’t matter, kobe Bryant did.”

Trip to Milwaukee, butler opened the party bus on the way.He invited some teammates to his mother home to eat barbecue, about 60 butler’s friends and relatives at the party, most people will ask questions when eating in kobe Bryant.

“He told me that nobody invited him to do anything, because he is a trump card here, but that doesn’t mean he is not the ordinary people, not like others to play.”– caron butler

“The problem no matter how strange, he would answer patiently.”Butler recalled: “where is he good, he is very enjoy that time, cock feet, is in no hurry to leave.”

With the gradually thorough understanding, kobe Bryant and butler began to talk to each other family and their upbringing.Kobe Bryant spoke about different growing up in Italy, butler is talking about the experience of the past 15 years in prison.

After Bryant heard the story of the butler, vowed to support butler.”He is a true man, a special guy.”Butler said.

“He is also a true man.”Bryant said: “this guy is a aboveboard man, that you can find this from him. I like to make friends with such people.”

“He is one of the world’s biggest heart man, he is a good man. So it is not often can encounter.”

When butler invite kobe Bryant for his autobiography “super fruit juice: I’m from the street to the trip to the NBA,” write renewal, Bryant have promised.Less than 48 hours, he sent the manuscript to the butler’s mailbox.

The lakers this year in Milwaukee road, Bryant also specially for 15 year old son, caron butler ii – Wisconsin’s best high defender – and his mother allow room for the ticket.He and small joking butler, and gave him some advice in defense.

Earlier this year in Sacramento when playing away from home, to go out with kobe steak butler.He hinted that want to get in kobe Bryant’s farewell season a his souvenirs, after a few weeks in Los Angeles, kobe Bryant, who signed a pair of your own signature shoes and write a paragraph, for butler’s son.

“I am very happy that he can get a farewell tour.”Butler said: “to see him smile and enjoy it all really good, you see he is also my witness of him all the way. This is people are not familiar with kobe Bryant, is also a real kobe.”

Chapter vi At three o ‘clock in Italy

Hour hand is pointing to the middle of the night at 2 o ‘clock, Marco berry in busy all day.Before going to bed, then he is going to watch TV will play in New Orleans – the Italian talk show.Just after 2:30, his phone rang, and the other end is Bryant’s voice: “I need a room, to get up to practice with me.”

Berry limon in circle, also thought I was dreaming.He can’t hear clearly what Bryant said, perhaps are not Bryant down the phone.When sound gradually clear, he realized that is not just a dream.

“To train!”Kobe Bryant, then hangs up the phone.

Berry, struggled out of bed, the lights make him hard to open my eyes.

Italian told kobe Bryant in the text location near the basketball court, that is his childhood place to play.Berry have a key for the stadium, in about 20 minutes, Bryant 10 minutes away from there.

At three o ‘clock in kobe Bryant and his trainer Tim grover standing in the street outside the stadium, about 35 minutes later, groggy berry in parked next to kobe, he will get off the door of the arena to open, then tell them the location of the stadium lights switch.

“See you later.”Berry, said while walking to his car.

“Where are you going?”Bryant is a face of doubt: “we need to start training.”

Berry, shocked and dismayed, are written in the face.His legs or slippers, or pajamas.

“He’s just out of bed.”Grover said: “there is no ready to training, Bryant made him ashamed.”

Kobe Bryant is inside the berry of the idols, 14 years old when he began to see the lakers game video, he tried to imitate the pace of kobe Bryant and the key of ambition.When your children think he is very funny.

Now, berry, too tired for being late.Bryant know Italian worship him, he is ready to three o ‘clock in the morning began to warm-up.

Berry, know oneself cannot disappoint idol, play is a problem but what to wear.Berry, back in the car, pulled out a pair of section 5.

Gloval recalls: “build, but don’t take it doesn’t matter. Mark was stunned.”

Kobe Bryant practiced for three hours, berry, insist on only 35 minutes.Berry inside and when leaving the arena, Bryant laughed.

Chapter 7 Nick Yang’s memory

The lakers’ small forward, Nick Yang said Bryant’s each style shoes he has.Nike, the lakers’ equipment manager carlos to fight, will prepare the two shoe bag – one for the team, one for the young.Nick Yang recently signed with adidas, which bring Bryant laughed at.

In February, wearing kobe Bryant in the first a pair of signature shoes adidas Crazy eight Nick Yang in the game with the Memphis grizzlies in explosion, Yang said: “I know will say he saw this pair of shoes.”

From the away dressing room at the narrow pass Nick Yang, Bryant joking, he was not prepared to speak ill of the old club: “it’s the only thing they designed a pair of good shoes.”

But the most impressed Yang or he was wearing kobe Bryant jersey, in January 2014, Bryant again because of a knee injury for the season.

And Miami’s game, kobe Bryant will be 9 debut of elite opportunities for the young.Overnight to send him a pair of Nike high help section 9, this is the first time in basketball shoes USES fly line technology (Nike research and development of knitting technology).Teammates around Yang’s locker before looking at this pair of shoes, James can’t see the eyes during the game.

“I’m kobe Bryant’s double.”Yang said: “he can’t wear, let me do.”

Bryant also has its own conditions, he told if can not get 20 points in the Yang don’t wear this pair of shoes.Yang squad had 19 points.

In 2012, young ID more than 50 pairs of kobe Bryant shoes.He often sitting in front of a computer in the Nike website ID sneakers late into the night, then wait for the Courier sent the shoes.

Yang plans to kobe Bryant to a pair of shoes in his game recently and a shirt, this will be his from Bryant received the most precious gift.

Early in the season, Yang in his favorite shoe store received a pair of Nike Air Zoom Huarache 2 k4, he bought this pair of shoes and for Bryant to the signature.

“I was so nervous at that time.”Yang said.”I know it’s not easy to sign him.”

Kobe Bryant in the vamp wrote: “give me the sincere friend SWaggy P (Yang’s nickname).”

Yang put this pair of shoes in a glass box, put in his room the most eye-catching places.”Ten years later I will sell it.”Yang musing say with smile: “ha ha, I will never do that to my brother.”

Postscript:
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Lebron James go fast in the corridor, he is worried.Found himself walking in the wrong direction, after James soon find exports, at this point is a blue tannins hat on his head.

Accompanying staff trying to catch up with him, but it wasn’t until James stopped to give Los Angeles RAMS running back Alison – Dixon and Todd – gayle signature, entourage to keep up with him.

Then he sped up the pace, lebron unexpectedly appeared in the lakers’ locker room, that is the beauty of stars.- in the French star thierry Henry is the lakers’ locker room, he also like you waiting for kobe Bryant.

It won’t James, he through in the crowd, find surrounded by kobe Bryant.Henry didn’t think kobe Bryant will be such a big star to children wife Vanessa and introduce yourself.

Lebron nodded to kobe Bryant, Bryant also nods.For an instant James disappeared at the end of the corridor.

Kobe Bryant is very considerate, he coaxed shy children, necking and Vanessa.Switch in the three languages in 5 minutes, he’ll catch a plane.See small fans want a group photo with him, Bryant stopped and bent down.All this kobe doesn’t feel trouble.

Bryant disappeared in the crowd, while the height 6 feet, he is hard to be found.There are so many smiles and eager to face waiting for him, kobe Bryant has been to smile, he is very happy.

Bryant enjoyed everyone cheers, he was completely absorbed in.He is no longer black mamba, the nickname followed him years will also be gradually left him.

Crowd surrounded by Bryant got on the bus, the car immediately disappeared in the field of vision.Time will eventually end, inevitable, a lot of things at that moment is over.

The final whistle, the last time kobe Bryant bent over to tie the shoelaces.Staff will arena back as usual, remove the floor mount trolley, and then sent to store between content.

Did not leave footprints, Bryant’s locker empty and quiet.All the shoes are removed, leaving only memories.

Stay in the locker room, Bryant had countless times.

Time has come for Rose to pass off to backcourt ‘mate

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With the game on the line and the Bulls needing a bucket, the ball wound up in the hands of their most reliable player, their best player and quite honestly, the face of the Bulls, where it belonged.

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In the past in these situations, that player was almost always Derrick Rose, whenever he was healthy. But the closing moments in overtime Wednesday against the Pacers was perhaps symbolic where he and the Bulls are right now. Rose was sitting out with an injury (though not serious) and even if he was good to go, he deserved to be a spectator on that play.

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Amazing Play By Chicago

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With 3.7 seconds left in overtime, Paul Gasol throws the lob to Jimmy Butler and Butler tips it in for the two point lead.

It was Jimmy Butler who gently tapped in an alley-oop pass from Pau Gasol in the final seconds, which makes sense, since it is Butler who gives the Bulls their best chance to win games. The Bulls are balanced and deep and hardly a one-man act and so the team doesn’t “belong” to anyone. Yet if we are to designate the one cheap nba jerseys player who makes a difference, then you can safely assume his identity now or wait until the All-Star Game next month to see which guard will be there to represent the Bulls and which won’t.

The transformation from Rose, the 2011 MVP, to Butler, a former 30th draft pick, is a quirky surprise you don’t see very often in the NBA. But it has been apparent for some time now, and other teams are game-planning more for Butler, a terrific player on both ends of the floor, than Rose, who’s still grinding to once again be the force he was before the injuries hit.

At times, the last person on Earth who recognizes this is Rose. He still has an MVP mindset and embraces the idea that he can and must take the bulk of shots and rescue the Bulls whenever necessary. And that mentality hurts the Bulls at times on the floor, while also keeping Rose motivated to reach the level of four years ago.

There’s a very subtle tug-of-war between the guards, and it’s one that Rose can’t win, and the sooner he understands this and embraces it, the better off he and the Bulls will be.

Butler is a true NBA success story, and it’s only getting better and more unfathomable. Remember, he wasn’t a big star in high school, couldn’t generate any attention from the major colleges, landed at Marquette and was only mildly successful; he never made Big East first or second team, just Big East honorable mention. Upon arriving in the NBA as the final pick of the first round in 2011, he made himself the balanced player he is now and scored a $95 million contract last summer as a free agent, which underlines how much he means to the Bulls.

Suddenly, it’s no surprise when the Bulls are depending on Butler to rescue them and he’s elevating over Paul George for the winning tap-in.

On that play, teammate Taj Gibson gushed: “That’s a tough basket, the balance, the hand-eye coordination. Plus, you have to go get (the lob) with Paul George, one of the best defenders in this league, challenging.”

When Derrick is out, he really steps it up.

– Pacers’ Frank Vogel on Jimmy Butler

When Butler became the Bulls’ starting two-guard a few years ago, Chicago ran very few plays for him. That was odd, how someone at a scoring position rarely saw the ball by design. That’s because Butler was mainly for defense. If he wanted to hear his number, he couldn’t settle for being one-dimensional. He couldn’t play 38 minutes and only shoot 40 percent and average 13 points. He had to evolve.

Well. Butler scored 28 points in that win over Indiana, 15 coming in the fourth quarter and overtime, proof of how far he has come in that regard. He averaged 20 points in his breakout 2014-15 season and is at 21 points now, while maintaining doberman-like defense. He belongs in a select group of athletic all-around players whose fingerprints are at both baskets: George, LeBron James, Kawhi Leonard.

The short road to stardom hasn’t come without a cost. Butler made a clumsy attempt at leadership recently when he took new coach Fred Hoiberg to task publicly. He soon backtracked and conceded that this is all new to him.

More importantly is the relationship between Butler and Rose, which could dictate how far the Bulls go this season and if they have the chops to beat the Goliath of the East. There’s almost a consensus in the NBA world that, until someone else steps forward, the conference belongs to LeBron and the Cavs. And the Bulls have been so inconsistent this season that they haven’t done anything to torpedo that theory.

The best way is if Rose can show respect for how far Butler has come and play more like a pure point guard and become more of a facilitator. And how’s that process going? Well, Butler averages 15.5 shots. Rose is at 15.3.

Some things are hard to surrender. Rose hasn’t had a double-figure assist game this season, which is difficult to digest given that he’s on a team with Gasol, Butler and a batch of three-point shooters. Of all NBA starting point guard averaging Rose’s minutes (32) or more, only Kemba Walker averages fewer assists. Somewhere in Rose’s mental approach, there’s a shooting gene that’s beating up the passing gene.

Compounding the issue is Rose’s shooting, which is at 38 percent (24 percent from deep) because he settles for too many shots that are either well-defended, poorly chosen or beyond his comfort zone. His jumper travels flat instead of a soft arc. Also, the Old Rose would finish strong at the rim, and while reports of Rose losing explosion are somewhat exaggerated, he misses more than a few point-blank shots.

It’s his stubborn nature to believe he’s Still That Guy. Earlier this season, Rose insisted that he remains an elite player, although once the year progressed and he struggled at times, reality has softened him somewhat.

“There’s still a lot to come,” he told reporters, “but there’s no point in talking about it. The season’s so long, we’re still trying to figure out my game. It takes time to be great.”

If Rose made an aggressive attempt to lead the NBA in assists instead of trying to wrestle the shots load from Butler, LeBron and the Cavs might get nervous. At the very least, we would be able to identify Cleveland’s biggest challenger in the East.

Nobody’s suggesting Rose is finished as a solid player, and if anything, Pacers coach Frank Vogel made a point to say otherwise.

“We still have to prepare the same way (for Rose) because he shows it in flashes, you know, the way he played a couple of years ago,” Vogel said. “We still have to prepare for Derrick Rose to go for 30 every night.”

And yet, about Butler?

“When Derrick is out, he really steps it up,” said Vogel. “A great, great, two-way player.”

When Rose suffered the first his his multiple knee injuries, the Bulls had time on their side. The franchise essentially went into a holding pattern, waiting on Rose to get right. In the process, along came an unexpected bonus in the form of a vastly improved Butler, and the player the Bulls were waiting on suddenly was right there before them.

The Bulls are lucky to have both. But the dynamic has clearly changed. Rose no longer can or needs to carry this team as he did in 2011. For the good of the Bulls and their chances in the East, when Rose gets the chance, he needs to pass, quite literally, and let Butler finish.

Veteran NBA writer Shaun Powell has worked for newspapers and other publications for more than 25 years. You can e-mail him here or follow him on Twitter.

The views on this page do not necessarily reflect the views of the NBA, its clubs or Turner Broadcasting. Trending

Holmes Learning, Finding Ways to Contribute

The pairing of Nerlens Noel and Jahlil Okafor has proven to be a pretty good match so far. Over the course of the first week of the season, they’ve teamed cheap nba jerseys up to average 33.5 points and 16.0 Blackhawks rebounds per game. In particular, their offensive contributions has been noteworthy. Bolstered by the duo, the Sixers entered Friday as one of 10 NBA teams to boast a starting four and starting five man who both, individually, average at least 13 points wholesale nba jerseys per game.

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Perhaps one of the most impressive aspects about Noel and Okafor’s early success is that it’s taken them relatively little time to achieve it. Not only are they continuing to learn about each other, having four games together under their belts, but they’re also two players that are still extremely green in terms of overall experience, combining to appear in a total of just 83 professional contests. That’s one game more than the length of Wholesale NBA Jerseys one full regular season.

In a world without injuries, eight-year veteran Carl Landry would likely be the first sub called upon to provide frontcourt relief. Presently, though, the Sixers’ world is not without injuries. Landry’s sidelined for now, recovering from off-season surgery on his right wrist. As a result, 2015 second-round selection Richaun Holmes has been given more minutes.

“Just learning how to pay different spots and put myself in position to continue to be successful,” said the Bowling Green product about how his approach up to this point. His most recent outing, Wednesday in Milwaukee, was arguably his most effective yet. He notched a personal-best seven points, pulled down two boards, and logged a career-high 19 minutes. Holmes hadn’t played more than 11 minutes in any of the Sixers’ first three games.

“It’s just about learning every game, doing what I can do to help,” Holmes said. “[Wednesday] was pretty good, but still got a lot to do.”

One area where Holmes did work against the Bucks was around the bucket, throwing down a pair of authoritative, impact dunks at the BMO Harris Bradley Center. The first slam was delivered wholesale jerseys in put-back fashion, and gave the Sixers a one-point lead in the final cheap jerseys two minutes of the opening half. The second slam came mid-way through the third quarter, and broke a 52-52 tie.

“It’s all about learning to play together as a team,” Holmes said, discussing the two stuffs. “My teammates [are] learning to find me in spots that I can be most effective. It’s just about learning each other. It’s a confidence builder, because that lets me know we are gelling.”

“I thought Richaun came in and gave us quality minutes, where we could spin those two bigs around,” Brett Brown said following the Sixers’ loss at Milwaukee. “Our group is so young, and we give them opportunities. There is nothing like giving NBA minutes out to anybody. It is the greatest job interview anybody will ever have. We have minutes, and we give them to our young guys, and people all of a sudden show what they can do…All these young kids are just grabbing the opportunity, and we’re excited about it.”

Holmes has produced 14 total points, six Injury total rebounds, and three blocks through four games.

Watch It! – Celtics at Pacers

Here are five things to watch out for when the Boston Celtics Jerseys and the Indiana Pacers Jerseys meet at 7:00 p.m. tonight at Bankers Life Fieldhouse.

A Change of Pace

The Boston Celtics Jerseys opened the season with a three-game homestand, but seemed to be caught in a rut during the last two contests. Perhaps getting away from TD Garden will be a beneficial change of scenery for the C’s.

Tonight they’ll open up their road slate in Indiana, when they take on on the Pacers at 7:00 p.m. Dating back to last season, Boston has won seven straight regular season road matchups; meanwhile, Indiana has lost both of Chiefs its home contests at Bankers Life Fieldhouse this season.

Momentum vs. Rest

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The Pacers started their campaign 0-3, but reeled off their first win last night against the previously unbeaten Detroit Pistons Jerseys. They’re entering this game on a high note, but could be disadvantaged given that it is their second game in as many nights.

cheap jerseys The C’s on the other hand have not played since Sunday, so those two days off should have them well rested with clear minds for this one.

Celts Must Find their Stroke

Hopefully those extra days off can get Boston back on track from a shooting perspective. During their last two games against Toronto and San Antonio, respectively, the C’s shot a combined 36.6 percent from the field, including just 13-of-55 from 3-point land.

Boston’s leading scorer Isaiah Thomas is usually either very hot or very cold when facing Indiana. His 11.7 career scoring average against the Pacers is his lowest mark against any team in the league, yet he tied a career high with 38 points against wholesale jerseys this team two seasons ago.

Thomas and the C’s will look to crack through Indiana’s defense, which held Detroit to just 38.4 percent shooting last night, including a 22.7 percent clip from beyond the arc.

The Return of a Star

A bolster to that Pacers defense has been the return of Paul George. Indiana’s star player missed all but the final six games of last season after suffering a gruesome leg injury in the summer of wholesale nba jerseys 2014.

During the previous season, he had been named to the NBA All-Defensive First Team. He had Boston’s number during that campaign, averaging 22.5 points and 5.5 rebounds over a four-game span.

Through the first quartet of games this season, George is averaging 16.8 points per game, along with team highs in rebounds per game (8.0) and assists per game (5.0).

Watch Your Handles

No teams have been able to match the thievery skills of Bulls Boston and Indiana so far this season.

The Celtics are leading the league with 11.3 steals per game, and Indiana is right behind them, averaging 11.0. On the flip side, both offenses have been prone to coughing the ball up. Boston and Indiana have allowed 10.7 and 10.3 steals per game, respectively, trailing only Oklahoma City’s league-worst mark of 11.8.

Keep an eye out for Boston’s cheap nba jerseys wholesale basketball jerseys top ball hawks, Jae Crowder, Marcus Smart and Isaiah Thomas, along with Indiana’s George Hill and C.J. Miles. Those players account for five of the league’s 17 who are averaging at least 2.0 steals per game.

First lady to join LeBron at University of Akron event

authentic-nba-jerseys-from-china — First lady Michelle Obama will join Cleveland Cavaliers star LeBron James at an event highlighting the importance of post-secondary wholesale jerseys education hosted at the University of Akron.

Officials say Obama will use the platform to speak about her Reach Higher campaign, which encourages students to aim for more than just a high school diploma.

The Akron Beacon Journal reports the event, scheduled for Oct. 21 on the northeast Ohio school’s campus, cheap jerseys will be closed to the public.

Thousands of students and parents affiliated with the LeBron James Family Foundation’s Wheels for Education program and the Akron I Promise Network will be in attendance.

The Akron native’s foundation recently wholesale nba jerseys partnered with the school to provide free college education cheap nba jerseys to any of the 2,300 students enrolled in the foundation’s I Promise program.

Bulls beat Timberwolves 114-105 in NBA preseason game

WINNIPEG, Manitoba (AP) — E’Twaun Moore scored 18 points to lead the Chicago Bulls jerseys to a 114-105 preseason victory over the Minnesota Timberwolves jerseys on Saturday night.

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The big attraction, however was Canada native and reigning NBA rookie of the year Andrew Wiggins jerseys, who had nine points in 24 minutes for the Timberwolves.

Wiggins received the loudest cheer when the No. 1 pick in the 2014 draft was introduced to the sold-out crowd of 15,294 at MTS Centre, many sporting shirts with his No. 22.

Tyus Jones jerseys had 18 points for the Timberwolves.

The last NBA game in Winnipeg in 2012 also drew a packed house.

The teams crossed the border as part of this year’s Canada Series cheap jerseys. Five NBA teams are playing four exhibition games in cities that don’t have teams – Vancouver wholesale jerseys, Winnipeg, Ottawa and Montreal.

Wiggins, 20, is considered a role model for the next wave of aspiring Canadian professional basketball players cheap nba jerseys. It’s a distinction the Vaughan, Ontario native doesn’t mind.

“I’m fine with that wholesale nba jerseys. I feel that I carry myself pretty well,” Wiggins said after the Saturday morning shootaround.

“I do things off the court, on the court, to help the people around me. I like to give hope, create opportunity for others.”

The red jerseys of the Bulls were also peppered throughout the crowd, with fans loudly cheering as they took a 22-point lead with just over 9 minutes left in the second quarter.

Minnesota closed the gap to 65-55 at halftime and made it a six-point deficit with just over 4 minutes left in the game before Chicago pulled away.

The preseason has been extra special for Wiggins as he’s been playing with his older brother, Nick, who signed with Minnesota last month.

The 24-year-old, who played in the final 90 seconds, said he’s proud of his brother’s impact on the game.

“With Andrew being the No. 1 pick and the year before (Canadian) Anthony Bennett jerseys being the No. 1 pick, you can see a lot of uprising,” said Nick, a guard who’s played in Germany and with NBA teams in development and summer leagues.

“Kids are just starting to believe in themselves, that they can compete with kids across the border.”

The Timberwolves play the Toronto Raptors jerseys in Ottawa on Wednesday. The Canadian Series wraps up Oct. 23 in Montreal with a game between the Raptors and Washington Wizards jerseys.