This Grantland profile on Andre Iguodala is probably the best thing you'll read today

This Grantland profile on Andre Iguodala is probably the best thing you'll read today

Well, the best thing not on this website, anyway. Master profiler Jonathan Abrams has taken on longtime NBA enigma (and Philadelphia 76er of nearly a decade) Andre Iguodala with his latest opus, and the article paints a typically complete, compelling and complex portrait of the oft-misunderstood baller.

You should really go to Grantland and read the whole thing yourself, but in case you're on a schedule at the moment, here's some highlights before you can get a full lunch break's worth of reading in:

  • 'Dre always wanted to be Pippen. "Llike every basketball-dribbling Illinois kid growing up in the 1990s, he practiced his fadeaway like MJ. But Iguodala really wanted to be like Scottie. And the more he watched, the more he realized that Jordan's teammate Scottie Pippen influenced the game in profound ways, often without scoring...Iguodala studied how Pippen defended Indiana's point guard, Mark Jackson, in the 1998 conference finals. Guarding the shorter Jackson, Pippen almost single-handedly denied ball movement on his side of the court."
  • Even in high school, he was a second banana. "[Richard] McBride leapfrogged Iguodala and everyone else, starting on the team's varsity squad from the moment he arrived on campus. 'We've had a lot of great players, but Rich McBride coming out his eighth-grade year was the best player I've ever seen in Springfield, by far,' said Pat McGuire, a former Lanphier assistant. 'Talentwise, he was ahead of the game. Andre was in his shadow.'"
  • He never considered the NBA until the year before he was drafted. "One day, [teammate Hassan] Adams presented Iguodala with a printout of an online mock draft. An analyst had projected Iguodala as a first-round selection. Iguodala said he hadn't considered himself an NBA prospect before reading the mock draft. It changed him. 'I wasn't a college student [anymore],' Iguodala said. 'Everything was basketball. It was all about 'How do I get to a place I hadn't even dreamed about?' I didn't have fun in college because I was so focused on basketball.'"
  • He might not have had fun in college, but at least he had a potentially Three's Company-esque living situation. "Iguodala moved in with two female soccer players, and their crisscrossed schedules worked to perfection. They were hardly home when Iguodala was. He was hardly home when they were. His solitary life paid off."
  • Elton Brand and company used to call him "Malcolm X". "'He loves his friends,' Brand continued. 'But if you're not — we used to call him Malcolm X. He'd just give you his attitude if you were against him. It's a positive thing — if you're his friend or you're on his team, he'll do anything for you.'"
  • He still smarts over the timing of his trade from Philly. "'I spoke to Doug damn near every day throughout the Olympics. The day before the trade, he was like, 'Great job with the game last night.' I think we beat Nigeria by 80 or something crazy like that. He was like, 'Can't wait to take the energy from the Olympics and take it to the season'....I wasn't upset about the trade, it was the timing. It was like, 'I'm in the Olympics, I'm playing some meaningful minutes, and you're trading me in the medal round.''"
  • He still doesn't get why Philadelphia didn't appreciate his Sixers teams. "'They're saying the team hasn't had much success since Iverson's team went to the Finals,' Iguodala said. 'We only missed the playoffs twice. They were talking like we were just this bum squad the whole time I was there.'"
  • He gets Jerry West's seal of approval. "[West] then told Iguodala, 'You would have loved playing with me. And I would have loved playing with you. 'Compliments like that from the Logo don't come often. 'Don't let it go to your head,' he said before departing."

Vince Velasquez feels the heat in Phillies' Sunday loss to Pirates

Vince Velasquez feels the heat in Phillies' Sunday loss to Pirates

BOX SCORE

PITTSBURGH --- Vince Velasquez wasn’t able to stand the heat Sunday afternoon.

The game-time temperature was 89 degrees with humidity to match at PNC Park. The Phillies' right-hander admitted he didn’t handle the weather well.

"You're going to go through various conditions, and it's something that you've got to really take into consideration -- to really lock in, stay hydrated because it can mentally drain you,” Velasquez said. “It kind of took a toll on me but I have to make the best of what I've got.”

Velasquez wound up pitching six innings in the blistering heat but did not factor in the decision as the Pittsburgh Pirates beat the Phillies 5-4 on pinch-hitter Adam Frazier’s leadoff home run in the seventh inning, his first in the major leagues, off fellow rookie Edubray Ramos (see Instant Replay).

Velasquez had his worst of his five starts since coming off the disabled list June 26, allowing four runs and seven hits while walking four and striking out five. He threw 107 pitches, 64 for strikes.

In his first four outings after begin activated, he was 3-0 with a 1.88 ERA to raise his record to 8-2.

“Just looking at his body language, he showed that he was struggling to find the strike zone,” Phillies manager Pete Mackanin said. “He didn't have his best location. He did a good job; he just made a couple bad pitches when they scored the two runs. Obviously, he wasn't at his best, but he kept us in the game.”

While that kind of outing can breed confidence in a 24-year-old pitcher, Velasquez took no consolation in it. He was bothered about not being able to hold a 4-2 lead in the bottom of the sixth inning, giving up a tying two-run home run to Matt Joyce.

“I knew it was my last inning when I went out there and I have to be able to close it out there,” Velasquez said. “I’m disappointed in that. I need to be better in that situation.”

Joyce’s blast came on pitch after Starling Marte doubled on an 0-2 pitch. That, too, annoyed Velasquez.

“That's just a matter of finishing at-bats,” Velasquez said. “You've got to lock in on 0-2 counts when you're ahead. You've got to finish the at-bat. Knowing that that was my last inning, that's where you have to bear down and give it all you've got.”

Ramos then gave up the game-winning homer to Frazier an inning later, the first long ball given up by the 23-year-old right-hander in 14 career outings. The Phillies wound up losing two of three games in the series and are 3-7 since the All-Star break to drop to 10 games under .500 at 45-55 through 100 games.

“It’s a game we should have won but I put us in position to lose it,” Velasquez said.

Dallas Cowboys bus involved in fatal crash in Arizona

Dallas Cowboys bus involved in fatal crash in Arizona

KINGMAN, Ariz. -- Four people were killed Sunday when bus carrying Dallas Cowboys staffers but no players collided with a van on a northwestern Arizona highway.

The fatalities were passengers in the van, Arizona Department of Public Safety spokesman Quentin Mehr said. But the bus occupants emerged uninjured.

"All on the bus came through OK with some bumps and bruises," Cowboys spokesman Rich Dalrymple (DAHL'-rimp-ul) said in an email.

Dalrymple said the bus was only carrying members of the franchise's staff but would not say how many. There were no players on board.

The two vehicles collided in the afternoon on U.S. 93, about 30 miles north of the city of Kingman, according to DPS.

The crash shut down at least one lane of the highway that serves as the main route between Phoenix and Las Vegas.

The bus was on its way to a Dallas Cowboys fan event in Las Vegas. Charles Cooper, manager of GameWorks entertainment center in Vegas, said the session with 50 to 75 fans was scheduled for 3 p.m. PDT. People were already waiting when the president of a Las Vegas Cowboys fan club called to relay news of the accident. The event was subsequently canceled. Cooper says the team mascot was supposed to appear.

After the Las Vegas stop, the bus was scheduled to go on to Oxnard, California for the team's training camp. Members of the organization typically take a bus two weeks before the camp starts and make stops along the way.

Report: Phillies preparing for possible Jeremy Hellickson trade to Marlins

Report: Phillies preparing for possible Jeremy Hellickson trade to Marlins

Jeremy Hellickson may be staying in the NL East past the trade deadline. 

Ken Rosenthal of Fox Sports reported that the Phillies are scouting the Marlins' minor league teams in advance of a possible Hellickson deal. 

This comes on the heels of a report from a radio host in Miami that Marlins starter Wei-Yin Chen may need Tommy John surgery. Chen left with an elbow sprain during Wednesday's loss to the Phillies and was placed on the disabled list. Ironically, Chen was starting against Hellickson, who will face Jarred Cosart in place of Chen on Monday.

Hellickson's value rebounded significantly this season after struggling in Arizona and Tampa Bay the last few seasons. After dealing with a shoulder injury, Hellickson pitched to ERAs above 4.50 in each season from 2013-15, leading to the Diamondbacks trading him to the Phillies for limited value. 

However, in 20 starts, Hellickson, who will be a free agent after the year, has anchored the Phillies' rotation, bringing a 3.84 ERA over 119 ⅔ innings into Monday's scheduled start. He also has a nearly career-best strikeout rate and has regained his signature command that made him a strong performer with the Rays.

The Phillies are aided this trade deadline by a lack of starting pitching options available on the market. With many teams in contention looking for an additional starter, Hellickson is an attractive piece who could help a team in a pennant race.