Some random pindowns on an NBA Saturday night spent watching the Oklahoma City Thunder be boatraced by Golden State Warriors…
The Butler (still) did it
For all of the high-profile, much-documented drama that surrounds NBA players on and off the court, there are myriad other great tales that go underreported, if not flying completely under the radar, LeBron James’ extreme generosity streak through his foundation being a noted exception.
For example, while the injury to his right knee and the subsequent diagnosis of meniscal damage will sideline Jimmy Butler for several weeks, that didn’t stop him from doing what he can for youngsters.
Even though he was on crutches, the Minnesota Timberwolves star made a dream come true for Matthew Long, a Make-a-Wish young man from Seattle whose wish was to meet him.
— Bleacher Report (@BleacherReport) February 25, 2018
It’s difficult, OK, impossible, to not wish for a speedy recovery for Butler.
K.D. remembers from where he came
Kevin Durant has committed $10 million to College Track, a program whose mission is to “empower students from underserved communities to graduate from college.” Durant has teamed with the public schools in Prince George’s County, Maryland, where he was raised to get the ball rolling on his initiative.
The Golden State Warriors star is building a facility called The Durant Center in the Seat Pleasant area in Maryland, where he grew up. It’s a life-ladder, meaning the 60 students who comprise the initial group must climb the ladder themselves.
Kevin Durant has invested $10 million in a program to help kids from his hometown go to college. pic.twitter.com/bMAnsCcnTC
— ESPN (@espn) February 24, 2018
Durant’s $10 million donation will go toward constructing the facilities and toward covering operating expenses. It’ll help put up the first East Coast chapter of College Track in the neighborhood where he spent his youth.
— Kevin Durant (@KDTrey5) February 23, 2018
Durant in a telephone interview with the Washington Post: “I want them to see the world. I want them to see where people are from and see that there are things outside their world. I don’t know exactly or at what pace that they will get it, but there is a world outside that they need to see.”
K.D.’s generosity was noted by Warriors coach Steve Kerr.
Kerr opens his press conference by praising Durant, who invested $10 million in a program that works with Maryland schools pic.twitter.com/YwhcIBIlpv
— 95.7 The Game (@957thegame) February 24, 2018
There are nine other College Track centers across California, Colorado and Louisiana, and the program has helped more than 3,000 students get to college and beyond. This Maryland center will be the first of three that are planned to go up in the DC area.
For Love of the kids
Kevin Love’s work as an ambassador for St. Jude has, thankfully, not gone unnoticed.
— Memphis Grizzlies (@memgrizz) February 23, 2018
To which Love responded on his Twitter account:
Rob Fischer, sideline reporter for Memphis Grizzlies television broadcasts, expressed his appreciate for Love’s generosity with his time toward youngsters.
Early in his career, I wanted to “sports hate” @kevinlove because he was good and a double-double machine against my @memgrizz. But every time he comes to town, he stops his warmup to visit individually and intently with every kid from @StJude. Pretty awesome https://t.co/a84gVAySzN
— Rob Fischer (@thefishnation) February 24, 2018
Playoff matchups I humbly request The Basketball Gods allow us to see:
* Houston vs. the LA Clippers
With their almost-brawl after Trevor Ariza and some of the Rockets went through the bowels of Staples Center and tried to enter LA’s locker room to get at the Clippers’ Blake Griffin (since traded to Detroit) and Austin Rivers, not much more needs to be said.
* Golden State vs. Oklahoma City
Durant and Russell Westbrook squaring off as the headliners in a best-of-seven series with the likes of Steph Curry, Klay Thompson, Draymond Green, Paul George, Carmelo Anthony and Steven Adams filling support-role spots. While the K.D.-Russ history has been well documented, Anthony and Durant got into it and had to be separated in the first half of the Warriors’ blowout win at Oracle on Saturday night.
* Boston vs. Philadelphia
An old-school rivalry from the days of yore, these two teams despised one another back in the day and, hopefully, for our sake, it gets back to that.
* Cleveland vs. Milwaukee
LeBron matched up with Giannis Antetokounmpo in a best-of-seven series? Oh, yes, please! While the Bucks would be underdogs against the three-time defending Eastern Conference champions, their combination of youth, length and athleticism would pose problems for Cleveland.
* Washington vs. Boston
While the hope is for Philly and Boston to get back to detesting each other, the Wizards and Celtics already do. ’nuff said.
* Cleveland vs. Washington
John Wall and Bradley Beal accused the Cavaliers of trying to avoid a possible playoff matchup with the Wizards last season. Perhaps the matchup does indeed take place this spring.
* Houston vs. Golden State
Do the Rockets, who won the season series against the defending champions, 2-1, have enough to hang with them throughout the course of a series? While I’m not sure, I’d very much like to learn the answer.
*Cleveland vs. Boston
LeBron and Kyrie Irving going at it with their respective seasons on the line would be must-see television. Perhaps all the newfound public displays of appreciation would dissipate by series’ end.
* Cleveland vs. Golden State
Round IV… though perhaps borderline redundant to some, there’s no question which rivalry draws the most eyes across the NBA landscape. Does the addition of The New 4, plus the return of Kevin Love, arm LeBron with enough surrounding talent to make another run at Golden State?
A.D. the Great
In case you missed it, Anthony Davis has been absolutely tearing it up of late for the New Orleans Pelicans.
While many figured their season was circling the drain when DeMarcus Cousins went down with a torn Achilles’ tendon, Davis has done his best to carry the Pelicans.
In a thrilling 124-123 overtime win against the visiting Miami Heat on Friday night, Davis made some history, finishing with 45 points, 17 rebounds, two assists, five steals and five blocks in 41 minutes.
In doing so, A.D. became the only player with 40 points, 15 boards, five steals and five blocked shots in a game since steals and blocks were first recorded in 1973-74, according to the Elias Sports Bureau.
In New Orleans’ current four-game winning streak, Davis is averaging 42.3 points, 14.8 boards, 4.0 steals and 3.0 blocked shots per game.
The Pelicans (32-26) are clinging to the eighth and final playoff spot in the Western Conference.
Having a ball
Back to Westbrook, even though he and his Thunder teammates were embarrassed in suffering through their first loss to Golden State this season Saturday night after winning the first two matchups, the league’s reigning Most Valuable Player was caught on camera interacting with a young fan seated next to him on the OKC bench.
Not fond of Kid Rock
Jeff McDonald, lead Spurs beat writer for the San Antonio Express-News, is in Cleveland for San Antonio’s matchup the the Cavaliers on Sunday afternoon (3:30 tip, ABC) at Quicken Loans Arena.
Apparently, he’s not a big Kid Rock fan.
Hotel lobby in Cleveland is filled with just the most reprehensible dirtbags you've ever seen. They're here for a big concert tonight at the Q.
"Who's playing?" I ask the fella at the front desk.
"Kid Rock," he says, and I am the least surprised I've ever been.
— Jeff McDonald (@JMcDonald_SAEN) February 24, 2018