Who needs reality TV when you have major league sports?!!!
If there’s one thing that I’ve learned as a sports fan, there are times where sports can be more entertaining OFF the court/field than on. The crazier and beautiful thing is that in most cases, it doesn’t even involve an athlete’s personal life. And this week did not disappoint. Let’s recap this week’s signature headlines and stories across the NBA:
1) Grant Hill and Jason Kidd Retire After 19 years in the NBA
Last Saturday afternoon, news broke across the sports world that 40 yr. old Grant Hill of the Los Angeles Clippers will be retiring after 19 seasons in the league. Just days later, on Tuesday morning, the New York Knicks announced that 40 yr. old Jason Kidd would also be retiring after playing for 19 seasons. Although the possibility of the both of them retiring was expected, it’s still a pretty big loss to the NBA community. Both players entered the league in 1994, with Hill drafted 3rd overall by the Detroit Pistons, and Kidd selected 2nd overall by the Dallas Mavericks. Both went on to win the Rookie of the Year award the following year, jump starting an accomplished and bar-raising career for each of them. Hill will retire a 7-Time All Star and Olympic Gold Medalist, and Kidd, a 2-time Gold Medalist, 10-time All-Star, and NBA Champion. Despite a career plagued by injuries, Hill is hailed as one of the most versatile players to ever play the game. Meanwhile, Kidd has earned the reputation of being an elite point guard and possibly one of the top 5 to ever play the game. These future hall-of-famers have also left a lasting effect on their most recent teams both on the court and in the locker room, and have earned praise from their teammates and coaching staff. They leave behind some pretty big shoes to fill for existing and future players, too. However, I’m pretty sure this won’t be the last that we see either one of them (*cough* coaching *cough*).
2) J.R. Smith Opts Out of the Remainder of His Contract
Reports came out on Tuesday afternoon that Knicks shooting guard and second leading scorer JR Smith will opt out of the final year of his contract. No need for fans to panic though: by opting out of his $2.9 million player option, the Knicks can re-sign him using the Early bird exception for $4.9 million. After having a stellar regular season and earning the Sixth Man of The Year award, it is expected that there will be several teams interested in adding Smith to their formula, possibly offering him more money than the Knicks can offer right now. However, I have no doubt that he will return to the Knicks roster. His close relationship with head Coach Mike Woodson and team captain Carmelo Anthony, his NY fan base, and the close distance to his family in his native New Jersey will all play a role in his public display of loyalty to the organization.
3) Indiana Pacer Roy Hibbert Fined $75K for Using “Inappropriate and Vulgar Language”
During a televised post-game press conference following a Game 6 win over Miami last Saturday night, Hibbert was asked a question regarding defending LeBron James, and later, a question regarding the low number of votes he received for Defensive Player of The Year. His response:
The NBA responded rather quickly, announcing on Sunday that the league has fined him $75,000. Hibbert later issued a formal apology.
On the heels of having the first openly gay male athlete (who is still playing in the NBA) come out to the public, using a phrase such as this will only garner unwanted attention and garnish your paycheck. Now granted, there have been other athletes who have also used this slur or one similar, but it still doesn’t negate the fact that sensitivity must be used at all times. When you are in such a high-profile position, anything and everything you say can be used against you.
4) Denver Nuggets Fire Coach of The Year George Karl
(*cues “No Church in the Wild” by Kanye West and Jay-Z*)
After 9 years as head coach, news broke out Thursday that the Nuggets have decided to part ways with George Karl, who was named NBA Coach of The Year LAST MONTH. The Nuggets locked in the 3rd seed in the Western Conference with a 57-25 franchise record, before being bounced out of the 1st round by the Golden State Warriors. There could be many reasons why this decision was made. The fact that they’ve been bounced out of the 1st round for 4 consecutive seasons could be one of them. I’m pretty sure though that this tenured and reputable coach will have a new gig lined up by free agency, given the number of vacant head coaching spots across the league (including Brooklyn, Memphis, and the Clippers). But still, to win such an esteemed award, and WEEKS later, lose the very gig that got you that recognition? My goodness… :-/
5) Game 1 of the NBA Finals
We have the makings of a classic series on our hands folks!!!
Game 1 of this year’s finals quenched the thirst of basketball purists and enthusiasts everywhere. The game, set at the American Airlines Arena in Miami, was filled with several memorable moments, LeBron James getting his 3rd NBA Finals triple-double, the extremely low number of turnovers ( the Spurs only committed 4 the entire game….FOUR!!), and Tony Parker putting Heat point guard Norris Cole in the spin cycle in a ridiculous baseline move before finishing with a layup. But with seconds left in the game before the Spurs won 92-88, this epic moment occurred:
(I’m still speechless.)
By the time I upload this post, something else would’ve occurred, and that’s the beauty about sports. There is NEVER a dull moment, even off the court. So until the next jaw-dropping story makes headlines….(*sips tea*)