James Harden

The holidays are here and that means food, drugstore family and football.  No wait, this is Christmas and that means food, family and BASKETBALL.  It’s easy to get confused because Christmas is to the NBA what Thanksgiving is the NFL.  An annual tradition that dates back to 1947 of all day basketball folly.  In 2011, the slate of games grew to 5, tipping off at 11am, and has stayed as large and as long ever since.

This year we’re looking at anything and everything from coast to coast match ups, a Finals rematch (or preview), East vs. West face-offs, and a Staples Center showdown, all complete with the requisite NBA Christmas uniforms, which I am not mad about this year.

If you’re looking to pick and choose when to watch vs. when to eat, sleep or spend time with the fam, here’s the game by game rundown.

11am CT New Orleans at Miami

A match up of the somewhat surprisingly intriguing Heat vs. the under performing Pelicans.  The Brow is always a fun watch and seeing him take on Hassan Whiteside in the paint shouldn’t disappoint.  But New Orleans is ravaged by injuries and an inability to adjust to the new coaching staff.  While I’m much more partial to New Orleans for eating, drinking and dancing, I’d pick Miami in this one.

1:30pm CT Chicago at OKC

The NBA so wanted Derrick Rose vs. Russell Westbrook to mean what it used to.  Unfortunately three knee surgeries has taken its toll on one much more than the other.  Despite this, the Bulls beat the Thunder earlier in the season behind a great game from Rose, who has since lost his facemask, the height of his hair, and his shot.  Both teams are playing under new head coaches who made the jump from college ball, but OKC is surging, while the Bulls count their lucky playoffs stars that they’re in the East.  I want to take the Bulls to turn it around and bring this one home because they always seem to surprise me on Christmas but without Joakim Noah, I have little faith this holiday season.

4pm CT Cleveland at Golden State

Get out the eggnog early because this is going to be good.  You can call it a Finals rematch or a Finals preview, but the top teams in each conference are at full strength with Cleveland seeing the return of Kyrie Irving this week, and they’re about to go at it.  Golden State boasts one of the best crowds in the NBA, who have been getting to games an hour early just see Steph Curry warm up.  And Lebron, well he’s mad.  Golden State makes history with every win so I’m picking the Warriors, if only to hope for a Riley Curry sighting at the post game press conference.

7:00pm CT San Antonio at Houston

Eat dinner quickly so you can be on the couch for an in-state battle of two completely opposite teams.  The Spurs quietly have the second best record in the NBA with only two less wins than the Warriors.  Pop is still sitting during games since it’s not April, and Kawhi Leonard shows us nightly how much bigger, stronger and faster he is than other top shooting guards in the league.  He’ll face another one in James Harden on Friday, but Harden’s Rockets have not done anything quietly this season.  Already working with an interim head coach and Dwight Howard trade rumors, the Rockets have been incredibly mediorcre so far, and outright bad at times.  They are however coming off of a 3 game win streak and have the talent to put on a show at home.  But if NBA fans know one thing, it’s to never bet against the Spurs.

9:00pm CT Los Angeles at Los Angeles

Many family Christmas gatherings may be able to relate to this match up – two passive aggressive siblings, living under the same roof, cut from the same cloth, with so little in common on any level.  On one end of the floor, the Lakers are a mess.  In the midst of the Kobe retirement tour, they boast two young stars in the making in Randle and Russell, who go in and out of the lineup for no apparent reason.  Kobe may score 34 points, or he may have 3 or 4 air balls.  Meanwhile, the Clippers are as good as they’ve ever been, but it doesn’t look to be good enough.  Their team is filled with controversial players who have never made it quite as far as they should have, and it doesn’t look like they ever will after the first few months of the season.  Kobe will be looking to go out with a bang in his 16th Christmas game, but I’d still take the Clippers to use the holiday to get their season back on track, as they continue to chase the shadow of the Warriors.

And that’s a wrap on Santa’s gift to all NBA fans this year.  Wishing you a very merry NBA Christmas, from our SDI family to yours!

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We’re 11 games into the NBA season and we have our first firing.  And in a shocking twist, nurse it wasn’t by the Kings.  The Houston Rockets have fired Kevin McHale after limping to a 4-7 start to tip off a season with Championship expectations.

On the surface this seems premature.  McHale has been the Rockets coach since 2011 and holds the highest win percentage in Rockets history.  4-7 isn’t the biggest hole to climb out of and the Rockets had topped two of the Western Conference’s best teams – OKC and the Clippers. McHale was signed to a 3 year $13 million extension less than a year ago, viagra and drew buzz in the Coach of the Year conversation in June.

So how did he end up out of a job in mid-November?  In reality, illness it wasn’t a total overreaction by the Rockets front office.  The team is in disarray.  The Rockets lost 3 games to mediocre teams by 20+ points before picking up their first win this season.  Dwight Howard has been in and out of the lineup and unable to set the tone for a group of players who seem unaware of what it takes to get to the Finals.  James Harden has shot particularly poorly to start off a season following one in which he believed he was the MVP, on top of his awful defensive effort and alleged general aloofness. It goes without saying but I’m going to say it anyway that the Kardashian effect is way more than a coincidence at this point.

The word is that McHale had lost the locker room to a point of no return, in which case it makes sense to make a quick change.  The talent is there for the Rockets but clearly the chemistry is not.  You can’t fire players on guaranteed contracts, so McHale is the logical target.  There has been buzz about tension between the old school coaching staff and the analytical front office (Bulls fans have seen this movie before), and it came to brighter light during the losing stretch.  Rockets owner Leslie Alexander went as far as to say that this season, he knew his team was going to lose. An awful feeling most fans can relate to, but tough to hear from an owner.

“I’m watching the games, I’m watching us lose by huge amounts and not playing hard. Then I watched the Boston game, and before the game starts, I know we’re going to lose. I knew I was going to lose to Dallas, and I thought we’d lose the game before that. Then we played Boston, and I was 100% sure we’d lose even when we were up, I knew we were going to lose…I didn’t watch the fourth quarter. First time I never watched a quarter of my team’s play, I knew we were going to lose. I don’t like to watch losing. It’s no fun losing.”

Zero. Fun. Sir. So what’s next next for the Rockets?  Alexander named assistant coach J.B. Bickerstaff as Interim Head coach and announced that he would stay on for the remainder of this season before the Rockets topped the hot Blazers in overtime last night. A question Chicago fans may be asking – will we see Thibs barking at players from 3 feet in front of the Rockets bench next year?  My opinion?  Highly doubtful.  Thibs strict and demanding system with scripted offense is in sharp contrast to GM Daryl Morey’s poster boy status for analytics and progression.  I don’t see Thibs resting Dwight Howard and saving him for the playoffs, or dealing well with such poor defensive effort from the team’s star player.

No matter who is coaching this season or next, it’s pretty clear that there are issues beyond the head coach in Houston.  Whether it’s Dwight Howard’s leadership, James Harden’s effort, Ty Lawson’s fit, or the true effectiveness of analytics in the NBA, it was high time for some non-Clippers or Kings related drama, so bring it on.

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Steph Curry is off to a crazy hot ridiculous monster unreal start. This dude is averaging 36 points, and 5 rebounds, discount and 6 assists. With 148 total points through Monday, sickness only Michael Jordan has ever scored more points in 4 games. After a prolific MVP season, Steph has somehow come back even better and more confident.  He’s clearly demonstrating that he’s the top shot-maker in the league and making noise that he’s the best player in the world.

So far this season, Curry has hit shots from literally everywhere, including 95% of free throws and 52% from 3.  As twitter was quick to point out on Monday, he could have gone 0-88 in his next game and still have a higher 3 point percentage than James Harden.   If you’re so inclined, there are a lot more crazy stats, shot charts, and videos you can watch here.

If not, this tweet pretty much sums it up:

The Warriors won 67 games last year before joining the elite ranks of the NBA as the 10th team to win the Championship in the last 35 years.  Could they challenge the 1995-96 Bulls team that won 72?  If Curry keeps playing like he drank Michael’s Secret Stuff, it’s likely, and it’s also fun to make ridiculous predictions in the beginning of November, and throw in Space Jam references.  Curry will probably come back to earth at some point but his earth is not the same as yours, James Harden’s or Derrick Rose’s (sorry).   For now, we can all just sit back and enjoy Steph Curry’s incredible, not human, and historic start to the season.

And if he wasn’t already SO likable, last weekend Curry took a break from being on another planet to take his 4 month old daughter Ryan to get iced up at Piercing Pagoda in the mall.

Stars, they’re just like us.

 

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NBA PTO

It’s September, and so when it comes to PTO, unhealthy or paid time off, seek many of us are either maxed out from summer travels, saving a few days for Fall weddings, or hanging on to what’s left for the winter holidays.  For NBA players, PTO takes on a different form from the masses, with time off from what can be April for lottery teams, through the end of September when training camps tip off.  So with the last few weeks of PTO winding down for NBA players across the globe, lets see what some of our favorites have been up to for the last 4-6 months…

The Champs…

After an MVP and NBA Championship Season that lasted through mid-June, Steph Curry spent the summer enjoying his wife Ayeesha’s amazing cooking (follow her blog), and hanging with his beautiful new daughter Ryan, born in July, and of course her sister Riley.  He managed to sign a land mark Under Armour deal, visit Davidson for homecoming, shoot socks with Stephen Colbert and still make time to attend the wedding of teammate…

Andre Iguodala who tied the knot in Cabo in August to his childhood sweet heart Christina Gutierrez.  (See Photos)  It’s almost unfair how likable the Warriors are.  In attendance were teammates and friends Harrison Barnes (unclear if he tried tequilla for a 2nd time), Rudy Gay, Evan Turner, Festus Ezeli, Shaun Livingston, Draymond Green and…

Klay Thompson who has been making rounds with the Larry O’Brien Trophy, visiting his alma mater Washington State for the football team’s season opener, and appearing on Jimmy Kimmel Live to surprise US Airman Steve Stone, a die hard Warriors fan and one of the three Americans who prevented a terrorist attack on a train to Paris in August.  Thompson played sports fan almost as much as he played sports hero this summer, taking in White Sox games at U.S. Cellular and on the road to watch his brother Trayce Thompson who was called up to the big leagues in August.

The Rubberneckers…

Jimmy Butler probably could have used the extra rest he got with the Bulls early playoff exit in May.  But Jimmy GOT PAID by the Bulls when free agency opened in July, and spent the rest of the summer in the gym (I hope), as well as on the road with his odd couple BFF Mark Wahlberg promoting the Entourage movie in Europe.   He lost to Michael Jordan (no judgement) in a shooting contest at MJ’s Flight School in early August, before taking in the Denver Broncos season opener from the sidelines to support his friend and Broncos Wide Receiver Demaryius Thomas.

A little further “West,”  James Harden went from Houston to Hollywood this offseason jumping in to a new relationship with Khloe Kardashian that I think is just everything and more.   Harden accompanied Khloe to Kylie Jenner’s 18th birthday festivities as well as to the All-White Yacht Party Khloe threw for his 26th birthday.  He also won the 2015 Drew League Championship and signed a monster deal with Adidas, while wearing Nike Air Jordans, and celebrated with SWAG.

The Wolverines…

With Michigan Football off to a semi-OK start, my Blue blood is building back up, so I had to check in on my favorite Wolverines in the NBA.

Nik Stauskas had a rocky summer breaking up with his longtime girlfriend and social media star Taylor Anderson just about the time that he was traded from Sacramento to Philly.  Stauskas spent some time at Camp Sanderson in Ann Arbor getting his strength and conditioning on before competing in the 2015 FIBA Americas Championship for Team Canada who suffered a crushing defeat by Venezuela and will now have to win a qualifying tournament next summer in order to compete in the Rio Olympics.  Here’s hoping Nik hits more threes and sells less hot sauce in the coming year.

Back in the US, Mitch McGary had an extra long offseason when OKC failed to make the playoffs in the West.  This gave him ample time to watch Cubs games, take his Dad to a game at Wrigley, instagram his Jeep, and work on his epic bench celebrations, although I’m not sure this one can be topped: https://vine.co/v/O9ezJvlIm1v

34 Days until NBA Tip Off…

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http://www.inflexwetrust.com

It’s often said that there’s no offseason in the NFL anymore.   It’s a 365 day sport from the Combine through the Super Bowl.   With NFL kickoff weekend in the books and the Warriors Championship feeling so last season, patient it’s more evident than ever for basketball fans this month, hospital that the NBA definitely still has an offseason.  When summer comes and the excitement of The Finals fades into the background, discount NBA fans often find their twitter feeds populated with vacation selfies, the free agency circus, and the occasional #riseandgrind shirt optional photo op –  yes please!

But it’s not all June gloom in the summer months for the NBA fan.  Thanks in part to the 2011 lock out, the 24 hour news cycle, and the explosion of social media as the go-to source for sports fandom, Pro-Am Summer Leagues assure us that even in the offseason, basketball never stops.

When it comes to summer basketball, on the West Coast, The Drew League reigns King.  Featuring NBA players alongside streetball stars from the LA area and college favorites, the Drew League is arguably the most recognized Pro-Am for the masses.  The Drew League tipped off in 1973 as a community youth tournament in South Central LA expanding to a 28 team invite-only league today.  With a rich 40-year history, King-Drew Magnet High School has played host to some of the toughest competition while remaining true to its goal of bringing talent back to the community while making meaningful relationships on the court.

In the early 2000s, NBA players would drop in from time to time and the Drew League had made a name for itself in Southern California, but its popularity among casual NBA fans took off in the summer of 2011 with the NBA lockout looming.  That summer, NBA All-Stars like Lebron James, Chris Paul, and Carmelo Anthony took Pro-Am leagues by storm, but Kevin Durant started the trend producing the most Drew League headlines and YouTube hits competing on the Drew League’s GO HAM team.

The consistent presence of NBA players, many of who grew up playing in the Drew League, has continued ever since. This summer, James Harden, an LA Native, and the LAUNFD squad (pronounced L.A. Unified) defeated Nick Young’s Most Hated Players (M.H.P) for the 2015 Drew League Championship, a team that also stared Demar DeRozan – a Drew League player since he was 15.  LAUNFD, winning their 4th Championship in 6 years, started the playoffs as the #2 seed after being abused by a retired Baron Davis (Baron Davis!!!!) and his BB4L squad in regular season play.  To get to the Championship, Harden and LAUNFD had to top Klay Thompson’s CADC team on a star-studded playoff Saturday where Paul George, Reggie Jackson, Stanley Johnson and Andre Drummond all graced the King-Drew High School court.

As the self proclaimed “most elite summer league in the world,” the Drew League strives to maintain its high school gym feel but has undoubtedly raised its profile in the last few years. Now, the Nike swoosh can be seen prominently on the court, the banners and the uniforms since the iconic brand became a major sponsor in 2013.   But not everyone has been a fan of the corporate sponsorship presence.  Rapper The Game announced this year that his team, a fan favorite, would not play in the 2015 tournament citing a lack of authenticity and dedication to the neighborhood and the organization “going corporate.”

On the flip side, Drew League organizers cite the Nike sponsorship as bringing positives to the league that extend beyond the court.  In addition to uniform upgrades, and co-hosted basketball camps, Nike has taken the Drew League’s social media presence to new heights with @DrewLeague on Twitter and Instagram bringing exclusive Drew League content to 150,000+ followers worldwide.  While the game environment has strayed from what it was at its origin, now allowing for VIP parking and reserved courtside seats, the Drew League maintains its dedication to being a resource for the community with games every weekend from May to August, no cash incentives, and free admission for fans beyond the courtside seats.

On the other coast, what the Drew League is to Compton, the Entertainers Basketball Classic (EBC) is to Harlem.  A comparable summer league in New York City, the EBC touts itself as the premier streetball tournament in the world.  The EBC’s roots grew from a battle between Harlem hip hop groups in 1982, and the tournament’s ties to music have grown with it.  Moving to Harlem’s Rucker Park in 1987 to accommodate the thousands of fans attending games, teams entered by Def Jam and Bad Boy Records featured amateur players and streetball stars alongside a young Joe Smith and Kevin Garnett who helped establish the EBC as a place for inner-city fans to see NBA talent without a pricey ticket to the Garden.

The 2003 season raised the national profile of the EBC to its highest level when Jay Z entered a team to compete with rapper Fat Joe’s Terror Squad, the defending EBC Champs.  The two teams featured neighborhood and college talent along with NBA stars Jamal Crawford and Lamar Odom.  Jay Z claimed to have Lebron ready to play in the EBC Championship Game that year which was subsequently cancelled due to the massive August 2003 New York power outage.

While many wondered what could have been in that game, the EBC did not starve for memorable moments in the years that followed. Bill Clinton, Denzel Washington and Mark Cuban have all taken in EBC games at Rucker Park, before the 2011 summer where Kevin Durant dropped 66 points in a classic EBC game from which highlights still circulate 4 years later.

The vibe of the EBC differs from the Drew League in that it has never shied away from corporate sponsorship, and instead, thrives on the synergy between the flashy cultures of hip-hop and streetball.  In its first summer, the EBC was sponsored by Seagram’s Dewars and has continued to see sponsorship from global brands like Reebok, Monster Energy, New Era and AT&T.  There’s no high school gym feel at Rucker Park where players run wild on an NBA style outdoor wood floor, and have been treated to halftime entertainment from artists like Big Sean and Fabolous.

And no basketball tournament at any level would be complete without some good trash talk.   This summer, after much back and forth on Twitter between stars who came up through the West Coast Pro-Ams, Isaiah Thomas, Spencer Hawes, Dorell Wright, and Baron Davis finally got the battle they had been waiting for for years.  The Drew League’s All Stars traveled up to Seattle to take on the Seattle Pro-Am, another storied summer league, on August 28th.   In a Pro-Am match up to be remembered, Zach LaVine, Nate Robinson and Jamal Crawford led the way to a victory for the Seattle homegrown stars who will wear the West Coast crown until a rematch next summer in LA.

In between these Pro-Am All Star match ups, we’ll see a full NBA season, another championship, a new class of rookies and a month of free agency with story lines that rival the game itself.  But when mid-June comes around again, rest assured that the style, the swagger, and the moments that make basketball the sport that we love, never truly stop as long as you know where to look.

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LeBron James and Mike Beasley’s Casual Style

source: @kingjames

source: @kingjames

LeBron James is no stranger to style…even when he is dressed down. King James recently Instagrammed a photograph of himself and fellow Heat player Mike Beasley.  They both look cool and collected in their snap-back caps and sneakers.  Miami Heat players are always cool and collected. Well…when they are not in Chicago. The Bulls  beat the Miami Heat (95-88) in overtime Sunday after Jimmy Butler blocked LeBron James at the end of regulation.

With his 20 points, prescription 12 rebounds, 7 assists and five blocks Joakim Noah was not playing any games.

“I want what they have — a championship,” Noah said. “One day, we’re going to have to get through those guys.” Yes we can, Jo-No. Yes we can.

Men’s Wearhouse unveils a Golden State Warriors Sport Coat

source: nba.com

source: nba.com

The Golden State Warriors recently teamed up with the Men’s Wearhouse to offer limited-edition Joseph Abboud sport coats. Each jacket is individually-numbered with the Warriors brand interior lining.

The Warriors and Men’s Wearhouse hosted Pop-Up Fitting Studio Nights at Oracle Arena on Sunday, March 9 (against the Phoenix Suns) and Tuesday, March 11 (against Dallas the Mavericks) . They will host one more on Friday, March 14 (against  the Cleveland Cavaliers). The suits are only available during these fittings. Fans who wear the jacket to future games will also receive special VIP treatment. This includes access to the coveted Warriors court side Club.

Celtics Saint Patrick’s Day Jerseys 

source: probasketballtalk.nbcsports.com/

source: probasketballtalk.nbcsports.com

Here we go with the sleeved jerseys again! I guess the madness will never stop. The Boston Celtics have recently unveiled a special Saint Patrick’s Day jersey. The solid green jersey has “Celtics” in bold gold letters across the front and a gold trim around the neck. These jerseys are paired with green shorts that have gold trimming along the sides.

James Harden’s Rodeo Inspired Outfit 

source: @houstonrockets

source: @houstonrockets

The Houston Rodeo is the world’s largest livestock show that takes place from March 4-23. It’s no wonder that James Harden arrived at the Toyota Center looking like he was ready to ride a bull! On Friday night, Harden rocked a  white button up and paired it with a 10 gallon hat. Harden’s getup certainly did not interfere with his performance against the Pacers that night. He led the way with 28 points 4 rebounds 4 assists and 3 steals.

“We’ve been playing well since the beginning of the new year. We’ve kind of gotten a feel for each other and we have gotten better. Our guys are healthy. O(mer Asik) has been back and Pat(rick Beverley). The guys are just playing at a high level.” (NBA.com)

Vanessa Bryant’s Chanel Clutch

source: @ladyvb24

source: @ladyvb24

Vanessa Bryant often uses social media to express her love for Coco Chanel. Who could blame her? Bryant recently Instagrammed a photograph of her fabulous Chanel clutch and Yves Saint Laurent spiked boots. I wish that her husband’s season with the Lakers was just  as fabulous.

Kobe Bryant has been ruled out for the remainder of the 2013-2014 season with the Los Angeles Lakers.

Kobe missed the beginning of the season because he was recovering from his Achilles injury. He returned and played six games before sustaining from a fractured lateral tibial plateau in his left knee.

source: probasketballtalk.nbc.com

source: probasketballtalk.nbc.com

“Obviously this has been a frustrating and disappointing season, but I appreciate all the support I’ve received from the Lakers and the fans, and look forward to being back and ready for the start of training camp,” Bryant said in a statement released by the team. (Pro Basketball Talk)

 

That’s it for now Divas! No worries.  I will definitely be back to keep you fabulously posted on the hottest court side chic! 

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