Dwyane Wade on Kobe Bryant’s Oscar victory: ‘He has set a bar for success when you get done playing’

Animated Short winner, “Dear Basketball,” Kobe Bryant backstage at the 90th Academy Awards ceremony on Sunday, March 4, 2018 in Hollywood, Calif. (Scott Varley/TNS)

MIAMI — There are a lot of accomplishments that Dwyane Wade and Kobe Bryant share.

Both are among the best shooting guards in NBA history. Both have won multiple NBA championships. Both have won an Olympic gold medal.

But Wade is not sure if he will join Bryant on the list of NBA players to win an Oscar. Bryant became an Oscar winner in the animated short category on Sunday when the retired Lakers legend took home the golden statue for his contributions to “Dear Basketball,” which is based on a poem he wrote in 2015 announcing his impending retirement from basketball. Continue reading “Dwyane Wade on Kobe Bryant’s Oscar victory: ‘He has set a bar for success when you get done playing’”

Lamar Odom on Heat: ‘If you have talent and you go to Miami, it’s going to be maximized’

Lamar Odom on the Miami Heat: ‘If you don’t go hard, you can’t play there. That’s why I respect their program and their tradition and their style of basketball even to this day.’ (Photo Getty Images)

Lamar Odom played one season with the Miami Heat, but it was a season that shaped the rest of Odom’s career and even how he watches basketball today.

Odom, in an interview with Shams Charania of The Vertical, spoke about his career, including his disappointment over being traded by the Lakers in 2011, and the impact the Heat and president Pat Riley had on his life.

Odom, 37, signed with the Heat in 2003 and after one season was part of the trade with the Lakers in which the Heat acquired Shaquille O’Neal.

Although Odom was happy to return to Los Angeles – he spent his first four years with the Clippers before coming to Miami – he realized he left an organization that is able to bring out the best in their players.

[Oddsmakers not impressed with Miami Heat’s off season]

[Mailbag: What does losing out on Gordon Hayward, Kyrie Irving say about the Miami Heat?]

Odom told The Vertical he had never worked out before training camp before signing with the Heat and that he “learned how to play hard and what playing hard was,” during his season in Miami.

“There was one game when we played in Puerto Rico against the 76ers, and I shot the ball bad,” Odom said. “But I had a lot of rebounds, had two ‘and-ones’ in crunch time, and I was like, ‘Damn.’ I was down. Pat runs up to me, reads me the stat line, and says, ‘Yeah, O. I like that (expletive). I like how hard you went.’

“In Miami, if you don’t go hard, you can’t play there. That’s why I respect their program and their tradition and their style of basketball even to this day, even though they didn’t make it to the playoffs last year. Because I played there and I understand them, I can still watch them. I know what they’re going through in practice. They’re getting pushed to the limit. So if you have talent and you go to Miami, it’s going to come out and be maximized.

“We had (Dwyane) Wade, Caron (Butler), Eddie Jones, Rasual Butler, Rafer Alston, Brian Grant. We had a good nucleus. We had a gritty team, blue-collar. I took the Heat philosophy for my whole career. When I watch basketball now, I watch it through the eyes of somebody that played for the Heat.”

Odom averaged 17.1 points and 9.7 rebounds during his one season in Miami after signing his six-year, $65 million deal. He and Wade led the Heat to the second round of the playoffs.

But when the Shaq-Kobe Bryant relationship soured Riley swooped in and offered the Lakers anybody on the roster, except Wade.

Odom, Caron Butler and Grant were headed to L.A.

Odom spent seven seasons with the Lakers, where he teamed with Kobe Bryant and Pau Gasol to win two titles. His career, and life, spiraled out of control after leaving the Lakers. Odom has gone public about his issues with drug use which included a life-threatening drug overdose in a Las Vegas brothel in October 2015. Odom suffered multiple strokes, kidney failure and was in a coma and on life support.

He says now he is lucky to be alive.

The Heat also benefited from the Odom trade as Wade and Shaq led Miami to its first title in 2006.

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2017 NBA Finals: 10 storylines as the Cavaliers and Warriors meet for third straight year

Cleveland’ s LeBron James celebrates in the final moments of Game 7 of the 2016 NBA Finals against at Golden State. (Photo by Ezra Shaw/Getty Images)

The Golden State Warriors and Cleveland Cavaliers will meet for the third consecutive season in the NBA Finals starting Thursday in Oakland.

The teams have split the first two series, with the Warriors winning in six games in 2015 and the Cavaliers recovering from a 3-1 hole to win Game 7 on the road in 2016.

Now, we have a new twist to the rivalry as Kevin Durant joined the Warriors in the offseason to give them a Big 4 (Durant, Stephen Curry, Klay Thompson, Draymond Green) to go against Cleveland’s Big 3 (LeBron James, Kyrie Irving, Kevin Love).

The series should be compelling so we bring you 10 storylines to keep in mind throughout:

Will Golden State lose a game these playoffs?

The Warriors enter the finals 12-0 in the postseason with sweeps over Portland, Utah and San Antonio. The closest anybody has come to that in the expanded playoffs era (needing 15 or 16 wins for the title) are the 2001 Lakers who were 15-1, sweeping the first three rounds and defeating Philadelphia in the Finals, 4-1. So the question really is: Will Golden State sweep Cleveland, which would give it a 16-0 postseason? The Warriors will win the title but, yes, they will lose a game – or two – along the way.

If the Cavaliers wins, will LeBron James’ success in Cleveland surpass his success in Miami?

LeBron’s first two seasons in his return to Cleveland and first two in Miami ended the same; losing in the Finals the first year and winning a championship the second. And while LeBron’s Cavs teams have had an easier run through the East than his Heat teams, the Warriors teams Cleveland has played in the Finals clearly are better than the Mavericks and Thunder teams the Heat faced in the 2011 and 2012 Finals. The Heat then defeated a very good Spurs team in the 2013 Finals, one that was much closer to these Warriors. If Cleveland wins this season it is on the same track as the 2011-2014 Heat. Then perhaps next year could determine which team has been more successful.

Will we see Warriors coach Steve Kerr on the bench in the Finals?

Kerr has not been on the bench since Game 2 of Golden State’s first round series against Portland due to complications from his 2015 back surgery – a spinal cord fluid leak causing headaches and nausea. Kerr, though, started traveling during the conference finals but remained in the locker room during games as Mike Brown continued as acting head coach. Kerr said Monday that he is not healthy enough to return to the bench and his status for the series is “still up in the air.”

What would another title mean to LeBron James’ legacy?

LeBron (and teammate James Jones) will become the only players not members of the Celtics’ dynasty of the 1960s to appear in at least seven straight finals. Michael Jordan, the man to whom LeBron is compared, never played in more than three in a row but it can be argued he would have been to eighth straight had he not abruptly left the sport for two seasons. This is James’ eight finals overall, winning three championships and losing four times in his previous seven. But last year’s title came against the greatest regular season team in league history. He still will have to convince some he is on par with Jordan if the Cavs upset the Warriors, but that gap would be narrowed.

Will the winning team be invited to the White House?

This will become a storyline after the Finals. Kerr is one of a handful of NBA coaches who have been outspoken against Donald Trump, calling him a “blowhard” and saying he “could not be more ill-suited” to be president. James never has been a fan of Trump’s, speaking out against his immigration order and refusing to stay at a Trump property in New York. The question then comes down to if the winner somehow is invited, will it accept?

Will Charles Barkley accuse Kevin Durant of riding Stephen Curry’s coattails if Golden State wins?

A discussion last week between Barkley and Shaquille O’Neal on TNT got personal when Shaq once again reminded Barkley that he has never won a title and Barkley shot back that Shaq won his four titles by riding the coattails of Kobe Bryant in L.A. and Dwyane Wade in Miami. Durant could be accused of the same thing if the Warriors win. Durant already was heavily criticized last summer for joining Golden State after his Oklahoma City team blew a 3-1 series lead in the conference finals and lost Game 7.

Are Kyrie Irving and Kevin Love a better fit with LeBron James than Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh?

James had his ups and downs (mostly ups) with both the Cavaliers (since his return) and the Heat, but many believe he has never been better than he has this postseason. In both situations the third wheel of the Big 3 (Bosh and Love) had to make major sacrifices and at times some wondered if it would work (it did). James’ main sidekick (Wade and Irving) appeared to have an easier time with the transition. The biggest difference is Irving is a point guard while Wade is a shooting guard. But either way, James has done pretty well playing with both.

Will Draymond Green stay out of trouble in this year’s Finals?

The Warriors’ polarizing forward was suspended for Game 5 last season after being assessed a flagrant foul 1 on a play in which he and James got tangled and Green swung his arm into James’ groin area. Green has had several incidents throughout his career in which he has appeared to attempt to kick an opposing player, sometimes making contact to the groin. But Green has been a good boy during these playoffs. … so far. The NBA has handed out 10 fines during the postseason, none to Green. And there have been four flagrant 1s and one flagrant 2 called, none on Green. The worst he’s gotten is two technical fouls. So, continue that pattern and, yes, he’ll be OK. But, you never know with that temper.

Can either team be challenged in their respective conferences in the next few years?

The Warriors are younger when you consider their top four players still are in their 20s (Curry will turn 30 next March). James is 32 while Irving and Love are in their 20s. Still, neither team appears to be slowing down at least for the next two to three years. The only team possibly challenging either is Boston, which made it to the East finals this season, has the No. 1 pick in the draft and enough money to sign a max free agent.

Will the Finals make up for a boring NBA postseason to date?

Like the thrilling second half and overtime of the Super Bowl made up for a boring NFL playoffs? Yes. These playoffs have not been very competitive with five series ending in sweeps and two more lasting just five games, and just two going to Game 7. But this is what everybody has been waiting for and now is the time for the Warriors and Cavaliers to save the postseason.

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Poll: Did Shaq ride Dwyane Wade’s coattails to 2006 title with Miami Heat (as Charles Barkley believes) or are both responsible?

 

Shaqulle O’Neal (right) and Dwyane Wade (second from right) celebrate the Heat’s 2006 title along with Antoine Walker (left) and Gary Payton. (Photo by Doug Benc/Getty Images)

Shaquille O’Neal and Charles Barkley needed a timeout while on the TNT set last week following Game 4 of the Cleveland-Boston series.

At one point Shaq, as he has done through the years, reminded Barkley he never has won an NBA title, something Shaq has done four times.

Barkley, whose only appearance in the Finals was 1993 with Phoenix which lost in six games to Chicago, then dismissed Shaq’s four rings, saying he was “riding Dwyane Wade’s and Kobe’s coattails,” referring to Shaq’s 2006 championship with the Heat and three titles with the Lakers and Kobe Bryant.

Barkley later added Heat center Alonzo Mourning to the list of players who coattails Shaq hopped on board on his way to winning titles.

[Now that Josh McRoberts has opted in, what’s next for him and the Heat?]

[College players with defensive reputations continue to intrigue Heat]

Shaq was stung, calling Barkley “a bum” and saying people question “why you’re in the Hall of Fame.” At this point, show host and referee Ernie Johnson stepped in and asked why things got so personal.

Shaq’s fourth and final title came two years after he joined the Heat in 2004. While Shaq and Wade had All-Star seasons, Wade was better during the regular season and clearly  was The Man in the Finals.

But the real question is did Shaq actually ride Wade’s coattails for a fourth ring?

Wade averaged 27.2 points, 6.7 rebounds and 5.9 assists during the season in which he turned 24 in January. He was sixth in the MVP voting and second-team All-NBA. He was even better in the playoffs (28.4 ppg) which culminated with a historical finals in which he averaged 34.7 points and 7.8 rebounds while winning the MVP.

Shaq turned 33 in March of 2006 but still had a lot to give, as his being voted to the All-NBA first team for the seventh consecutive year shows (he was not in the Top 10 of the MVP voting). He averaged 20.0 points (the last time he would average 20 in his career) and 9.2 rebounds and led the league in shooting at 60 percent. He was an All-Star for the 13th time (he finished with 15).

And although his scoring tailed off in the Finals to 13.7 points, he led the Heat with 10.2 rebounds.

Clearly, the Finals was Wade’s stage and his coming out party as one of the best players in the league. But Shaq was a huge contributor to the Heat’s first title.

But to me, nobody rode anybody’s coattails.

The Heat would not have won the title in 2006 without either player. …. Not without Shaq coming aboard two years prior and certainly not without Wade.

But we put the question to you:

 

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On 55th anniversary of Wilt’s 100 point game, Miami Heat players say it would never happen on their watch

 

 

Wilt Chamberlain scored 100 points in a game 55 years ago tonight.
Wilt Chamberlain scored 100 points in a game 55 years ago tonight.

MIAMI – Tyler Johnson knows what he would do if somebody were about to drop 100 points on his team.

“You’re not getting 100 on me,” the Heat guard said. “I’m going to hard foul you. Once you start sniffing 80, I have to give you a hard one. I have to. And as a coach I’m definitely sending double, triple (teams). We’re not going to be that team for sure.”

The Knicks needed Johnson on the sidelines in Hershey, Pa., 55 years ago tonight when Wilt Chamberlain scored 100 points, an NBA record that likely never will be broken. Chamberlain made 36-of-63 shots from the floor and 28-of-32 from the line.

And he chipped in with 25 rebounds in the Philadelphia Warriors’ 169-147 victory.

“It’s probably one of the greatest performances that I haven’t seen,” said 25-year-old Dion Waiters.

Several players were asked what they would have done to stop the 7-foot-1, 275-pound Chamberlain and the answers pretty much echoed Johnson’s.

“I got six fouls,” Waiters said. “I’m going to use up all my fouls before you score 100 on me. I might have to watch from the side. I’m not letting you score 100 points on me.”

I asked a number of players what was the most points they ever scored in any game at any level.

Dion Waiters: 63 in a rec league game when he was in 8th grade. “I shot every time, though,” he said.

Goran Dragic: 47 playing for his national team in Slovenia.

Hassan Whiteside: 55 playing in China. “I had a triple double with 28 or 29 rebounds and 10 blocks,” he said.

Wayne Ellington: 45 in a high school game.

Okaro White: 52 in a high school summer tournament.

Jason Richardson: 47 in a college rec league game.

James Johnson: 40 in the D-League.

Tyler Johnson: 62 in middle school.

Some players were asked if Wilt’s 100 could be matched in the modern NBA. The closest anybody has come is the Lakers’ Kobe Bryant, who totaled 81 against the Raptors on Jan. 22, 2006.

Chamberlain, who averaged 50.4 points and 25.7 rebounds in 1961-62, has four of the top five scoring performances in NBA history.

Dragic said maybe Stephen Curry or Klay Thompson.

“I feel like how Golden State is playing maybe Steph or Klay,” he said. “Klay already had that game he had 37 in a quarter. They know how to share the ball. You never know.”

Ellington agrees but also throws Russell Westbrook and James Harden in the conversation. Tyler Johnson said he’d go with Westbrook over Harden or any of the Warriors.

Tyler also delicately (and respectfully) pointed out how the level of competition and the talent level 55 years ago is not quite what is it today and believes he shares a locker room with a player who has the skills today that would have been as dominant as Wilt’s back in the day.

“If Hassan played back then I bet he’s get 100,” Johnson said.

[Q&A with Heat forward Luke Babbitt, who in the past talked coaches into allowing him to shoot threes]

[Five takeaways: Miami Heat offense catches fire in blowout win over Philadelphia 76ers]

[Miami Heat’s Erik Spoelstra named Eastern Conference Coach of the Month]

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Now we’ll see what Heat guard Dion Waiters’ former agent – turned GM – really thinks of him

 

Heat guard Dion Waiters goes to the basket during Miami's victory in Atlanta on Friday. (AP Photo/John Amis)
Heat guard Dion Waiters goes to the basket during Miami’s victory in Atlanta on Friday. (AP Photo/John Amis)

All eyes will be on Rob Pelinka, the Lakers General Manager, this summer to see what he really thinks of his former clients.

Pelinka, who represents Heat guard Dion Waiters, will be named GM of the Lakers as part of the restructuring under Magic Johnson. And Waiters could be an early litmus test to see how much different Pelinka handles negotiations as a GM compared to how he handled them as an agent.

Waiters, 25, is setting himself up for a big payday. He signed a two-year deal for around $6 million with the Heat last summer, one that included a player option for 2017-18. Waiters will opt out to become a free agent this summer and could command up to $15 million a year if he continues the progress we’ve seen the last five weeks. And the Lakers could be in the market for a shooting guard seeing Nick Young has been in middle of trade rumors the last three years. Waiters definitely would be an upgrade.

Waiters is averaging 16.1 points while shooting 42.1 percent for the season but he is playing the best basketball of his career the last 13 games, averaging 21.5 points, 5.6 assists and 4.2 rebounds while shooting 49 percent, including 47.4 percent on 3s.

Waiters is a big reason the Heat have won 16-of-18 games and climbed back into the playoff race. Miami (27-32) is one game out of the final playoff spot entering tonight’s game in Dallas.

Heat president Pat Riley said last week the organization will have a good idea by the end of the season if the fifth-year guard will be worth a sizeable contract.

“If he can put together another 25 games similar to what he has done the last 10 or 12, that’s a pretty good sample size of what a guy can do,” Riley said Thursday, after the trade deadline expired. “Does it impact winning? That’s an analytic that you have to figure out, his impact on winning. He’s been talked to a lot about that. I think he’s really taken to heart his conditioning and playing both ends of the court. He’s a playmaker. He’s a big-time playmaker.”

Waiters, who signed with Pelinka when he left Syracuse in 2012, was surprised is agent is about to switch sides.

“At first, I didn’t believe anything until I heard from him,” Waiters said about the move that was announced last week. “He called me. We talked about it. He told me to continue what I’m doing and everything will be fine.

“He told me he was shocked himself. Like I said, ‘You can’t turn down something like that, that’s so important to you.’ He probably didn’t have expectations of being that but being a GM is probably a dream. You’re living out there. Your family is there. You’re representing Kobe (Bryant). Why not?”

Waiters, who said Pelinka has “always been there for me,” will continue to be represented by Brandon Rosenthal, who is part of Pelinka’s agency. Pelinka also represents Chris Bosh, who has not played for more than a year because of recurring blood clots. Bosh switch to Pelinka’s agency late last year.

“We’re building something,” Waiters said his team of representatives. “I don’t really like to start over. I’ve been there forever. My mom and everybody are comfortable. If we make changes, that’ll be later on. For right now, I’m not really worried about that.”

[Willie Reed listed as day-to-day with right ankle bursitis]

[Are the Heat an elite NBA team? They have been for the past 40 days]

[Rodney McGruder: ‘If you need me to be a pest, I will be’]

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Former Miami Heat center Shaquille O’Neal roasts, entertains in Hall of Fame speech

 

 

Not only is Shaquille O’Neal one of the greatest centers ever to play in the NBA, but he’s been one of the league’s biggest showmen.

Friday, during his induction into the Basketball Hall of Fame, the Big Entertainer gave a speech that was sentimental and emotional along with entertaining and standup comedy.

Shaq touched on his personal and professional life, including his time with the Miami Heat.

Shaq’s nearly 30 minutes at the podium was also a roast of sorts with people like Dick Vitale, Nick Anderson, Phil Jackson, Kobe Bryant, Rick Barry and even the fans among those in his crosshairs. He also thanked many people from family members to mentors to coaches to opponents to teammates.

 

Bill Russell, Julius Erving, Isiah Thomas, Alonzo Mourning.
Bill Russell, Julius Erving, Isiah Thomas, Alonzo Mourning.

Shaq’s first mention of his 3 ½ season in South Florida, in which he helped the Heat win their first title, was at the start. He was asked to pick one person to ‘welcome him,’ but Shaq had four on the stage, Bill Russell, Julius Erving, Isiah Thomas and former Heat center and Hall of Famer, Alonzo Mourning.

In introducing Mourning, Shaq said: “Alonzo Mourning, arch-nemesis turned great friend. We both entered the league together in 1992, had fierce battles together, he’d dunk on me, I’d dunk on him.

“In 2006 we joined forces together to win his first and my fourth title for the Miami Heat. Thank you, Zo. Couldn’t have done it without you.”

Later, Shaq set up his move to Miami by poking fun at Bryant.

“Kobe Bryant, a guy who would push me and help me win three titles in a row,” he said. “But also helped me get pushed off the team and traded to Miami.”

After the laughter died he named several members of that Heat title team.

“But it was in Miami where two of my favorite people helped me obtain my fourth championship, Pat Riley and D-Wade,” he said. “But I’d be remiss if I didn’t name other key players; James Posey, Jason Williams, Antoine Walker, Hall of Famer Gary Payton, Udonis Haslem and Hall of Famer Alonzo Mourning.

Miami Beach will always be one of my favorite cities.”

Shaq went on to thank the Arison family, Miami Beach Police Department, Doral Police Department and Barry University among others.

[Chris Bosh opens up about non-basketball topics in interview with players’ union]

[Heat guard Josh Richardson suffers knee injury in Friday workout]

[Udonis Haslem to be inducted into city’s Sports Hall of Champions]

 

Shaquille O'Neill and Alonzo Mourning celebrating the Heat's 2006 title.
Shaquille O’Neill and Alonzo Mourning celebrating the Heat’s 2006 title.

 

 

 

ESPN ranks Dwyane Wade as more famous than Stephen Curry

Wade landed No. 6 on ESPN's fame rankings. (Getty Images)
Wade landed No. 6 on ESPN’s fame rankings. (Getty Images)

Heat guard Dwyane Wade still has plenty of cache.

As he put up a resurgent performance on the court this year, Wade saw his popularity spike with it. He was cheered at every arena in the league, perhaps marking the warmest overall reception he’s gotten since before the Big Three.

In ESPN’s recent fame rankings, which account for salary, endorsement deals, social media and Google searches, Wade landed sixth among NBA players and No. 33 among all athletes. Here are the top 10 from the NBA:
Continue reading “ESPN ranks Dwyane Wade as more famous than Stephen Curry”

Dwyane Wade shares his favorite Kobe Bryant story

This story was originally published on March 30, 2016.

Dwyane Wade and Kobe Bryant in a Christmas Day game in 2004. (Getty Images)
Dwyane Wade and Kobe Bryant in a Christmas Day game in 2004. (Getty Images)

Dwyane Wade admits that no one other than him would remember this moment, but he’ll never forget it.

With the Heat visiting the Lakers tonight for the final time in Kobe Bryant’s career, Wade shared his all-time favorite memory of playing against him:
Continue reading “Dwyane Wade shares his favorite Kobe Bryant story”

Joking? Wade says he’ll sit if Kobe doesn’t play

Kobe Bryant and Dwyane Wade are scheduled to meet for the final time Wednesday. (Getty Images)
Kobe Bryant and Dwyane Wade are scheduled to meet for the final time Wednesday. (Getty Images)

Like many NBA stars, particularly those around his age, Dwyane Wade wants one last game against Kobe Bryant before he retires. Bryant is on his farewell tour and has already said goodbye to LeBron James and others.
Continue reading “Joking? Wade says he’ll sit if Kobe doesn’t play”