Andrew Bynum will probably get booed this evening in South Philadelphia as he returns (?) to the Wells Fargo Center as a member of the Cleveland Cavaliers. And that's fine. He's a member of the opposing team. He kind of screwed the Sixers last season when he never played a minute for them -- although you could argue that things actually worked out okay for Sixers in the longterm -- and those reasons alone probably warrant some boos. But do Sixers fans really care about Andrew Bynum any longer? I don't. Not really anyway.
The dude's knees are shot. And listening to him talk yesterday at practice (which you can watch above) he sounds like a guy who probably won't ever be the basketball player he once was. He was quite blunt in saying he's a shell of his former self and that he's thought about retiring due it all.
“It is still career threatening. I am a shell of myself on the court right now. I am struggling mentally, but I am trying.”
“In the moment it is tough to enjoy the game because of where I am but I am struggling to work through that,” Bynum said. “I feel like I can still be effective in this league but I am going to have to make changes to my game and it is about accepting those challenges.”
Asked what his goal is, Bynum said, "Just to be able to play without pain and discover the joy again. … Right now it’s just battling pain is annoying. I’m not able to do the things I used to be able to do and it’s frustrating.''
Which makes Bynum kind of similar to the Philadelphia fans that may boo him tonight. They just want to find joy in watching their basketball team again. That may be more likely without him around.
Look, let’s get one thing clear right off the bat. I love watching Russell Westbrook play basketball. The dude is bonkers. Flying around the court with reckless abandon. Tomahawk rams on people’s necks. Pogo-stick pull-ups on the fast break where he just rises up on a dime like Guo Jingjing (she’s a Chinese diver, I looked her up) bouncing off a springboard, setting himself up to hit a Triple Lindy in an opponent’s eyeball. He’s a once-in-a-lifetime talent. He could be the first person in the history of the NBA to successfully complete a flip dunk (although it could be argued that Zach LaVine is the odds-on favorite, or this dude I saw on the corner of 16th and Shunk last weekend all hopped up on mescaline). Either way, Russ is a beast, and I’m totally convinced that his anger and aggression is the only thing keeping PJ Carlesimo out of the NBA coaching ranks. He’s rugged. He’s tenacious. He just seems like a bit of a shithead.
I have never actually met Russell Westbrook. He could be a totally nice guy. KD certainly seems to think so. And despite the fact that I’m a world famous local celebrity, and could easily use my status to get a media credential for an OKC-Sixers game, or even the Western Conference Finals, and potentially meet Russ in person to find out what he’s all about, I haven’t. So my opinions of Russ comes from the exact same place as yours do, from my couch. This entire blogpost is just speculation based on his piss-poor body language and his butthead actions on and off the court. I wish I could root for him. I really do. I just can’t. Which is shocking because I grew up idolizing King Kong Bundy, and later married a woman with a major, major, major attitude problem.
Let’s get into it.
From the moment Russ first shows up to the arena, he struts in looking less like Dominique Wilkins and more like Dom DeLuise. With the bandanas and the berets and all the cute little outfits. And that’s fine, because honestly who cares how you dress. He’s young. He’s just trying to express himself. I get it. I mean, even as I’m writing this, I’m wearing a shirt that says “Cracklin Oat Bran is for Hustlas.” But there’s just something about his air of nonchalance that conflicts with his obvious craving of attention. And what image is he going for anyway? One day he’s rocking a Slayer t-shirt. The next he’s wearing overalls like Mario and Luigi. Not that a Slayer fan doesn’t love playing Super Mario Bros., it just doesn’t seem genuine. Plus, the sheer fact that he’s from Los Angeles only adds to his layer of ugh’ness. It’s like, enough with these LA dudes already — James Harden (we get it), Swaggy P (barf) — guys that grew up in that red carpet culture of “Hey look at me I’m different I’m crazy I eat avocados.” But whatever, ultimately, like I said, it doesn’t freaking matter. I don’t really care, and this is by far my weakest argument I’ll have in this post. I’m not really sure why I decided to start off with it in the first place. Russ is just annoying. Plain and simple. Just put on a belt, bro. You’re an adult.
Then there’s that whole nightly tribute to Rodgers and Hammerstein that he puts on before every game with his little mushroom-headed dance partner, Cameron Payne. What is that cornball isht? It’s not even good dancing. They’re just like, flailing their arms around like idiots. Plus, what the freak are they doing?! Dancing in and of itself is not very masculine. And I know, I know, in this day and age, God forbid you do anything macho, but this is sports afterall, this is basketball, and there is still some sense of ruggedness that is appreciated on the hardwood (boner joke). I’m not a Dane Cook guy (and let me repeat myself for all of you who may be skimming this part of the post, I am NOT a Dane Cook guy), but he does a pretty funny bit on how you will never hear a group of dudes gather together on a Friday night and say, “You know what I want to do tonight? I wanna dance. I just wanna express myself through the art of dance.” That doesn’t happen. I’m not knocking dancing. It has its place in this world. Like, at weddings and celebrations. Or in your kitchen while you’re doing the dishes and listening to Whitney Houston. Or in the basement of some disgusting fraternity house while you try to impregnate every woman you meet. It just doesn’t have a place in NBA pregame warmups. I don’t need to watch Big Bad Russ and Coochie Coo Cam Can doin’ the Tennessee Twinkle Step. Just rub some baby powder on your balls and get it poppin. That worked for Dolph Schayes.
I appreciate Charlie Villanueva trying to step in there a few weeks go to shut it all down, but c’mon Chucky V, we know you’re not really #bout #dat #lyfe. You’re a big softee at heart. I know this because I follow both you and your lovely wife on Instagram and I have NEVER seen two people who are more in love. Poor Charlie. Russ clowned him both in the moment and later at the postgame press conference. It’s a shame Charles Oakley is no longer in the league. Or Rodney Rodgers. Those dudes woulda put an end to this Derek Hough nonsense IMMEDIATELY if not sooner. For the record, I always thought Rodney Rogers would’ve dominated if the NBA were to ever hold a Royal Rumble. Sad that he ended up the way he did. Damn shame what they did to that dog.
Once the game starts, Russ gets shot out of a cannon (in a good way!), but God forbid you lay a finger on him or he’ll scowl at the referee like he shot his dog. And I know, everyone yells at the refs these days. It’s horrible. Even the golden unicorn himself, Tim Duncan, acts like a total p.o.s. when he’s called for a whistle. But there’s just something inherently nasty about the way Russ berates an official. Like, I don’t think Westbrook ever goes up to Leon Wood after the game and is like, “Oh, hey Lee-Lee. Sorry I was barking at you all night. I get kinda worked up and lose perspective sometimes. I’m sorry, Duke.” No, instead he just yells at some OKC public relations intern to fetch him some more fettuccini alfredo.
HEAT THIS UP, MELVIN.
THE CHEESE IS STARTING TO CONGEAL.
Once again, I have no idea what I’m talking about, and have no idea if any of this is true. I’m just speculating purely on my Jewish intuition.
Then there was the time Russ yelled at those poor idiots sitting in the front row in Dallas, telling a guy to “just sit there with your wife and shut the [eff] up.”
And I know, fans are friggin’ annoying. I mean, look at me. I’m spending 1,600 words ripping a guy who I legitimately do not know. It’s just like, we get it, Russell, you’re angry. And Russell’s anger is just really, really angry. And the weird thing is, I normally like angry! Matt Barnes. Metta World Peace. Da Black Mamba. But at least those dudes had a sense of humor about themselves. Well, maybe not Barnes, but Metta and the Kobester are definitely aware that they are complete and total maniacs. I don’t think I’ve ever seen Russell smile. He acts as if every human being is always out to get him. And that’s probably what drives him. That’s probably what makes him such a warrior on the court. But calm down, dude. Show some semblance of human personality for once in your life. Just once!
It’s sad, because outside of Westbrook (and Cam Payne, and Dion Waiters, and Kyle Singler’s hair), the Thunder have a pretty likable team -- KD, Serge Ibaka, Steven Adams, ENES KANTER THA GAWD, even Anthony Morrow and his buttermilk jumpshot -- but I can’t possibly root for them in the Finals.
The alternative is to pull for LeBron and the Cavs, another incredibly polarizing figure. And I’ll admit, LeBron has his faults: the weird pettiness with Kyrie on Twitter, being a blatant jerk to David Blatt, getting David Blatt publicly burned at the stake, like, legitimately getting that dude fired despite the fact that they got to the Finals without Kevin Love and Kyrie last year, and were first in the East when he was fired this year. But ultimately, I think LeBron’s a good dude. His teammates love him. He was absolutely fantastic in Trainwreck. And he is an absolute F-lord who has demolished pretty much everything the NBA has put in his path. I mean, the guy wants to bring a title to Cleveland. CLEVE-LAND. Have you been to Cleveland? It’s a cesspool. It’s an urban pool of cess.
So look, love Russ. Hate Russ. Love LeBronski. Hate LeBronski. It doesn’t matter to me. But there’s just something about Russ that rubs me the wrong way. I appreciate his talents. I appreciate his desire. I know no one is perfect. Charles Barkley. Latrell Sprewell. Tom Brady. Literally any human being who has ever walked the earth. But I also know that there’s a way I like my human beings to carry themselves on and off the court. I know that when it comes down to ultimately liking and pulling for people -- Michael Jordan, Magic Johnson, Elle McPherson, Barack Obama, Kim Kardash, Donald Trump, Bobcat Goldwaithe -- that personality counts for a whole lot more than you think.
So go ahead, Russ. Keep entering the arena with that smug look on your face. Keep dunking on people’s necks. Keep whining at officials and barking at fans and doing the Chattanooga Choo Choo with your little rinky-dink dance buddy.
I love watching it all. You are wildly entertaining. And I can’t wait til Kyrie puts you on skates.
(Or, y’know, Golden State comes back and renders these last few paragraphs meaningless.)
Report: Sixers in California for NBA draft workouts
Report: Sixers in California for NBA draft workouts
As the Western Conference Finals are taking place in Oakland, the Sixers are looking for new talent of their own in California.
This week, members of the Sixers' front office are attending pre-draft workouts organized through multiple agencies, including BDA Sports Management, CAA Sports, Landmark Sports Agency, Octagon and Wasserman Media Group.
While the Sixers hold the No. 1 pick, these workouts are opportunities for them to evaluate players that could be fits for their 24th and 26th selections.
On Thursday, the list of workout participants included projected first-rounders Deyonta Davis (Michigan State) and Cheik Diallo (Kansas), according to the Philadelphia Inquirer.
The scouting process takes NBA teams coast to coast. Earlier this week, the Sixers reportedly attended a private workout with Excel Sports Management in New York City, in which Brandon Ingram and Jamal Murray participated.
The Sixers have held two workouts at their own practice facility, bringing in a total of 12 prospects thus far.
OAKLAND, Calif. -- "We ain't going home! We're not going home!" Stephen Curry screamed at the top of his lungs.
No, his Golden State Warriors are going back to Oklahoma City, after keeping their title reign and the winningest season in NBA history alive for at least one more game.
Curry scored 31 points, raising his arms in the early moments to fire up Golden State's raucous crowd, and the defending champions staved off elimination with a 120-111 victory over the Thunder on Thursday night in Game 5 of the Western Conference finals.
"We just did what we're supposed to do. We're supposed to win at home," Curry said. "We know what we still have to do going forward. ... We knew if we didn't win we were going home. There's no other motivation you need."
For all the speculation about the current state of Curry's beat-up body -- that troublesome ankle, sore knee or tender elbow -- he did it all.
"I thought he looked like 91 percent," coach Steve Kerr cracked. "He came out and played a really good game. That's all I can tell you. He's going to compete every night. He had an excellent night and helped us get it done."
Led by Curry, the Warriors looked like their old winning selves again.
The MVP made a snazzy layup late and dished out six assists, while Klay Thompson added 27 points as Golden State sent the best the best-of-seven series back to Oklahoma City for Game 6 on Saturday night. The Warriors trail 3-2 and are trying to become just the 10th team to rally from a 3-1 deficit.
"None of us want to go home," Thompson said. "We're having too much fun out there."
Kevin Durant scored 40 points and Russell Westbrook added 31 points, eight assists, seven rebounds and five steals for the Thunder, trying for the fifth NBA Finals appearance in franchise history and first championship since moving from Seattle.
The record-setting, 73-win Warriors, coming off their first back-to-back defeats all season, had been blown out in two losses at Oklahoma City by a combined 52 points.
"We have to take that game and travel," Curry said of keeping momentum.
Durant's 3-pointer with 4:34 left got the Thunder within 103-98, then Curry answered with a three-point play.
Curry scored seven points in a 58-second stretch of the second quarter and hit more big shots late, but the Thunder didn't go away easily.
"I liked our will, I liked our fight," Kerr said. "We were embarrassed in OKC the last couple games."
Trailing 58-50 at halftime, Oklahoma City came out of the break with a 9-2 run. Westbrook's 3-pointer with 6:06 left in the third put Oklahoma City ahead 68-67 for its first lead of the night. But Golden State led 81-77 going into the fourth and began the final period with an 8-0 burst.
"We didn't shoot a particularly good percentage when we got into the lane and got into the deep paint," Thunder coach Billy Donovan said. "We had our opportunities."
Curry shot 9 for 20 and also had five steals, while Thompson had his 11th 20-point game for the second straight postseason despite shooting 2 for 9 from 3-point range. After struggling the past two games, Draymond Green had 11 points and 13 rebounds a day after receiving some encouraging words from Kobe Bryant on the phone.
"We really relied on the entire team tonight, which is when we're at our best," Curry said.
Kerr figured his Warriors might have an edge against the percentages of teams having trailed 3-1 because they're the defending champs and were playing at home, where they have been nearly unbeatable.
He wasn't surprised to see this team respond so well.
"We played with great desperation," Kerr said. "I knew how we would play. This is a championship team."
Kerr called for center Andrew Bogut to do more and the 7-footer delivered with a playoff career-high 15 points and 14 rebounds for his second double-double this postseason and seventh of his career.
Marreese Speights had a pair of three-point plays on follow shots and a 3 in the second quarter to give Golden State a nice lift off the bench. He had nine points in four minutes during that stretch and 14 points overall for his fifth double-digit scoring game this postseason.
"Their bench came in and made shots, made plays for them," Durant said. "We know we're going home. We can't relax."
Golden State made 31 of 34 free throws.
With his 1,248th career postseason point in the third, Curry passed Wilt Chamberlain (1,246) for second place on the franchise's playoff scoring list.
"That's who he is, that's what he's done, and that's what's made him a very good player," Donovan said.
Tip-ins Thunder: The franchise lost in the finals in 1977-78, 1995-96 to Kerr and the Chicago Bulls and in `12. ... Steven Adams sat down with his second foul at the 9:34 mark of the first quarter. The Thunder had seven fouls to Golden State's one after the first. ... Oklahoma City took Game 1 at Oracle Arena, where the Warriors have lost only three times all season. ... The Thunder started the game 3 for 14.
Warriors: Green picked up his fifth technical of the postseason. He also has at least one steal in 16 straight playoff games. ... Golden State missed six of its first seven 3s. ... The Warriors supported Turner Sports sideline reporter Craig Sager with "Sager Strong" T-shirts for sale to support awareness and research for leukemia and lymphoma, both blood cancers.