LeBron James, Stephen Curry to President Trump: No matter who wins, we are not coming

Cleveland Cavaliers forward LeBron James drives against Golden State Warriors guard Stephen Curry during the first half of Game 2 of the NBA Finals on Sunday. (AP Photo/Marcio Jose Sanchez)

 

The Miami Heat are not in a position to be invited to the White House, let alone refuse the invitation, not now and who knows if ever while Donald Trump holds the title of president.

But several teams have and the Super Bowl champion Philadelphia Eagles are the latest who will not be honored in the nation’s capital, as was the case with the Golden State Warriors a year ago when Trump withdrew an invitation for the NBA champions to visit the White House. Trump’s decision came after learning Stephen Curry was considering boycotting the trip. And like the Warriors, few members of the Eagles planned on visiting the White House even before the invitation was rescinded.

With the Warriors holding a 2-0 lead over the Cavaliers in the 2018 Finals, players were asked today about Trump’s decision to disinvite the Eagles. Cleveland’s LeBron James said today that “no matter who wins this series, no one wants the invite anyway. So, it won’t be Golden State or Cleveland going.”

Curry added: “I agree with ‘Bron. Pretty sure the way we handled things last year kind of stayed consistent with that.”

James, Curry along with Warriors coach Steve Kerr, Spurs coach Greg Popovich and former Pistons and Heat coach Stan Van Gundy have been among the most outspoken critics of Trump, his policies and what Kerr has labeled his “racist, misogynist, insulting words.”

Last year, Trump posted a tweet that read: “Going to the White House is considered a great honor for a championship team. Stephen Curry is hesitating, therefore invitation is withdrawn!”

The Warriors still celebrated its championship during the season on their trip to Washington D.C by touring the National Museum of African American History and Culture.

As for the Heat, though not as outspoken, the vibe is most would take the same stance if one day they had the opportunity.

Prior to last season, Justise Winslow said Trump has “damaged” the honor of visiting the White House. Winslow was part of the Duke contingent that visited the White House when Barack Obama was president. The invite came after the Blue Devils captured the NCAA title in 2015.

“As a kid that’s something I dreamed about, winning the championship and going to the White House and I did it and it was such an amazing experience,” Winslow said in September. “Now, it is damaged.

“If my time comes during his run I’ll probably also sit out. Hopefully one day it can be that honor that it once was. Hopefully I will be OK with going back one day.”

Udonis Haslem has been one of the Heat’s more outspoken players when it comes to Trump and comments, especially concerning the issue of NFL players conducting protests to racial injustices by kneeling during the National Anthem.

The NFL recently banned kneeling on the field during the National Anthem, with many saying the league caved to Trump.

“It’s like every time he opens his mouth. … it’s like, oh, really?” Haslem said prior to last season. “When you think you can’t say anything worse he just kind of figures it out. It’s unfortunate.”

Winslow, who is very socially-aware, is offended by Trump’s tone.

“One of my biggest problems is the way he uses his platform, his language, I don’t think that’s how our president should be speaking, that vulgar tone,” he said. “And we saw that during his run for presidency, his character. I think that’s kind of where the problems start.”

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[Heat Mailbag: Does LeBron James look like a man who is ready to bolt Cleveland again? That & more on Whiteside, the draft]

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Here are 10 big names – and possible Heat targets – that could be on the move as NBA offseason is days away

Miami Heat President Pat Riley attends the NBA draft basketball combine May 18 in Chicago. (AP Photo/Charles Rex Arbogast)

The NBA season is coming to a close and with the Warriors two wins away from a Finals sweep over the Cavaliers, that could be Friday. Although nothing is stopping the other 28 teams from making trades now, the real offseason starts when the Finals end.

And the only way for teams to make a splash between now and the start of free agency on July 1 is through trades. The two biggest trades of last summer came before free agency began with the Bulls dealing Jimmy Butler to Minnesota on June 22, the night of the draft, and the Pacers agreeing to trade Paul George to OKC hours before free agency began.

Trade talk typically starts gaining momentum the week of the draft, which is June 21, and that’s when we could start hearing rumors about the Heat. Pat Riley is in the market for a “transformative” player, and any others who could improve his roster, and expect the Heat to be active. But whether they can pull off a major deal remains to be seen.

If so, here are 10 big names that could be moved. Do the Heat have a chance of landing any of them?

Carmelo Anthony, 6-8, PF, Oklahoma City: At 34, Anthony’s best years clearly are behind him but I believe he has more left than we saw in his one year in OKC. He is expected to pick up his option for $27.9 million so any trade involving Anthony would have to include a bad contract going to Thunder.

Bradley Beal, 6-5, SG, Washington: Nobody has underachieved like the Wizards the last few years and with another playoff flameout Washington is ready to make some moves. That could mean breaking up their backcourt of Beal and John Wall. Which one would go? And to who? Remember, several other teams are in the same spot so it could simply be trading one star guard for another.

DeMar DeRozan, 6-7, SG, Toronto: The Raptors are one of those teams in a situation similar to Washington’s. Riley has admitted the Heat have too many shooting guards, especially if Dwyane Wade returns, so Miami would have to move someone like Tyler Johnson (and his $19.2 million salary for next season) in a deal involving DeRozan.

Kawhi Leonard, 6-7, SF, San Antonio: The target of every team looking to land a superstar through a trade. This would take some doing by the Heat, especially when teams like Boston, Philadelphia, the Lakers and others have more assets to give the Spurs.

Kyle Lowry, 6-0, PG, Toronto: The Raptors won’t move both DeRozan and Lowry. Lowry’s age – he is 32, DeRozan is 28 – and contract – two years and $64.3 million remaining – makes him the player Toronto would rather trade but also the more difficult of the two to deal. Would the Heat pursue Lowry, or a bigger deal with Toronto, and move Goran Dragic?

C.J. McCollum, 6-3, PG, Portland: Five straight years of playoff failures, including being bounced in the first round the last two seasons, has the Trail Blazers thinking about making changes. Their backcourt of McCollum and Damian Lillard is one of the best in the league and splitting it up would be the most impactful move.

Karl-Anthony Towns, 7-0, C, Minnesota: With rumblings of uneasiness within the Timberwolves organization, they could look to move Towns, although their first choice is trading Andrew Wiggins. Towns would come with a hefty price that probably would start with Bam Adebayo and Josh Richardson and the Heat taking back a bad contract or two, which means the Heat would have to move one of their bad contracts to make this work.

Kemba Walker, 6-1, PG, Charlotte: Walker could be on the block as the Hornets look to rebuild with new coach James Borrego. Moving Walker, and the final year remaining on his contract ($12 million), would be the best way but only if they could attach a bad contract to the deal.

John Wall, 6-4, PG, Washington: The Wizards will not move both Beal and Wall, but if they could move one it would be Wall, whose four-year, $170 million extension kicks in starting with the 2019-20 season. But who is willing to take on a salary that averages $42.5 million a year?

Andrew Wiggins, 6-8, SF, Minnesota: The man the Timberwolves really want to unload, especially with $146.5 million coming to him in the next five years. The Heat would have leverage because of Wiggins’ contract so they would certainly have to make Tyler Johnson or Hassan Whiteside part of the trade.

[Heat Mailbag: Is the Brightline station mural a message to Whiteside? That & more on Richardson]

[Heat Mailbag: Does LeBron James look like a man who is ready to bolt Cleveland again? That & more on Whiteside, the draft]

[Heat offseason Q&A: Udonis Haslem not going to rush decision on his future]

[Heat offseason Q&A: Kelly Olynyk from India on Basketball Without Borders, his offseason & more]

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NBA Finals: Stephen Curry puts on a show; Cavaliers look deflated in Game 2 loss to Warriors

Stephen Curry of the Golden State Warriors celebrates with Draymond Green during the fourth quarter of Game 2. (Photo by Ezra Shaw/Getty Images)

Coach Tyronn Lue insisted the Cleveland was not a broken team after squandering a great opportunity to steal Game 1 of the NBA Finals. Lue said the Cavaliers were ready for Sunday’s Game 2 in Oakland.

Lue’s team did not back him up.

Game 2 was more like what most expected from this series. The Cavaliers fell behind early and never led. Now they limp back to Cleveland for Game 3 on Wednesday down 0-2.

“I didn’t think we started the game like we needed to start,” Lue said as Golden State made its first seven field goal attempts. “Not being physical enough. We can’t start the game like that. … We have to start the game better, being more physical, bringing the physicality. We didn’t do that tonight to start.”

The Cavaliers can say what they want but Thursday’s loss was deflating and took something out of the underdogs. Cleveland was flat on both ends of the court for most of the first half and after cutting into the lead in the third quarter, quickly ran out of gas in the fourth quarter as Golden State stretched the lead to 23 before setting fo a 122-103 victory.

Cleveland reverted back to the shaky defensive team was saw all season, allowing the Warriors to shoot 57.3 percent from the field and LeBron James wasn’t anything close to matching his extraordinary Game 1 effort. And unless James plays out of this world, the Cavaliers have no chance.

James once again filled the stat sheet with 29 points, 9 rebounds and 13 assists, but his impact was nothing like Game 1 when he dropped 51. And James looked fatigued at times playing all but the final 4:09. He now has played 185:29 of a possible 197 minutes in the last four games. When LeBron is tired it shows more on the defensive end and in his effort getting back on defense. And he spent more time whining about non-calls than usual.

“It sucks to lose,” said James, who insists he got tired once during the game. “It sucks when you go out there and give everything you have – your mind’s into it, your body’s into it and you come out on the losing end.”

Cleveland forward LeBron James sits on the bench during the second half of the Cavaliers’ Game 2 Finals loss to the Warriors. (AP Photo/Ben Margot)

Stephen Curry highlight film: The first one came with 7:54 to play in the game. With the shot clock running down Curry briefly lost his dribble, picked up the ball and threw up a high-arcing shot from about 30 feet over Kevin Love that cleaning went through to push the Warriors lead to 14. About two minutes later, Curry raced to the corner and launched another 3-pointer, again over Love. The only difference this time was he landed on his back as he was fouled by Love and the shot turned into a four-point play.

“A big moment where we had a significant lead and we could extend it a little bit and create some separation down the stretch,” Curry said about the three that beat shot clock. “It was a cool moment for sure.”

The two 3-pointers were part of Curry’s Finals record of nine (in 17 attempts). He finished with 33 points and placed himself as the leading contender for Finals MVP. And that is saying a lot when for the second straight game the Warriors’ Big Three all topped 20 points with Kevin Duran scoring 26 (on 10-of-14 shooting) and Klay Thompson adding 20 (8 of 13).

    Warriors fans taunt JR Smith: Cleveland’s JR Smith wasn’t going to forget about one of the biggest blunders in Finals history in Game 1, a play that dominated the conversation during the two-day break between games. Smith’s meltdown in the final seconds of regulation – he dribbled out the final 4.7 seconds with the score tied – gave the Warriors life, who took advantage and dominated the overtime.

Warriors fans first showed Smith how much they appreciated his contributing to their team’s win by loudly cheering him during pregame introductions. Then, with Smith at the foul line, he heard chants of “MVP, MVP.” One fan brought a sign saying Smith was “DA REAL MVP.”

And how did Smith respond? He finished with five points on 2-of-9 shooting but wasn’t about to admit the taunts got under his skin. Then again, this is a man who wanted everybody to believe that he knew the score at the end of Game 1 and was dribbling the ball to halfcourt looking for a better shot.

“I’m always a person who the fans like to talk to or heckle,” Smith said. “I like it. I’d rather they do that than not acknowledge me at all. I appreciate it.”

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One local product had his JR Smith moment in postseason 34 years ago

Cavaliers guard JR Smith’s meltdown in the final seconds of regulation in Thursday’s Game 1 of the NBA Finals will be a part of his legacy.

But one former NBA star was able to overcome the same blunder much earlier in his career.

Derek Harper, who was raised in West Palm Beach and starred at North Shore High School, had a similar experience during the 1984 Western Conference semifinals while a rookie for the Dallas Mavericks. Harper shook off the mistake and went on to play 16 solid seasons in the NBA, including 12 with the Mavericks, who retired Harper’s No. 12 jersey this past season.

Derek Harper speaks before his #12 jersey is retired by the Dallas Mavericks at American Airlines Center on January 7, 2018 in Dallas. (Photo by Ronald Martinez/Getty Images)

Harper, an 11th overall pick out of Illinois in 1983, was on the court for the final seconds of Game 4 of the 1984 Western Conference semifinals against the Lakers. The score was tied at 108 when Lakers center Kareem Abdul-Jabbar missed a shot with 12 seconds to play. The ball eventually went to Harper with about six seconds remaining.

Thinking Dallas had the lead, Harper stood near midcourt and dribbled out the clock with Magic Johnson loosely guarding him.

The Lakers took control in overtime, winning 122-115 to take a 3-1 series lead. L.A. closed out the Mavericks in five games.

“Yeah, I saw J.R.’s mistake. Of course you feel for him,” Harper told the New York Post Friday. “You (feel bad) even though we live in a society that pushes you to fail more than succeed nowadays because of social media. People want controversy, whether it’s at somebody else’s cost or not. So of course you feel sorry for the guy. It’s human error when you think about it, and we’ve all experienced human error. It’s just not exposed in front of millions and millions of people watching an NBA Finals game.”

Lakers general manager Jerry West called it “one of the strangest, most bizarre things I’ve ever seen,” during an interview before the next game.

“When he kept dribbling, I had to look at the scoreboard to make sure of the score,” West said. “Everything crosses your mind in a situation like that, so I was wondering if he wanted the game to go into overtime and, if so, why. … It was a good break for us.”

West added, “I just hope it doesn’t have a lasting effect on Harper’s career. He does a nice job for Dallas.”

It didn’t. Harper had a solid career averaging 15.2 points, 6.3 assists and twice being voted to the All-Defensive second team. From 1987-88 to 1992-93 Harper started all but three games and averaged 18.0 points and 6.8 points.

“I was (a rookie) at the time and it was an honest mistake,” Harper told the New York Post. “The question becomes how you rebound from it.

“You’re always supposed to know the time and the score. I’ve been hearing that since I was 5 years old, but people have mental lapses. The repercussion is for everybody to go crazy and talk about how bad the play was and ‘What were you thinking?’ You could look at (LeBron James’) reaction to see how he felt about it.

Smith rebounded teammate George Hill’s missed free throw with less than five seconds remaining in Thursday’s Game 1 and the score tied at 107. He dribbled to halfcourt before realizing Cleveland was not leading. By that time it was too late as he tried to get the ball to Hill for a desperation shot.

Like the Mavericks in 1984, the Cavaliers wilted in overtime, losing 124-114.

But unlike Harper, Smith did not admit to his mistake. He said he knew the score and dribbled toward halfcourt looking for an opening for a shot. But Cleveland coach Tyronn Lue said that Smith thought the Cavaliers were leading.

“That’s the wrong way to go about it. When you make a mistake, you own the mistake and move on,” Harper said. “The only thing that will set you free is to be open and honest. I don’t know how else to say it.”

Heat president Pat Riley was coach of the Lakers at that time. Harper later joined up with Riley in New York and was Riley’s starting point guard for the Knicks team that went to the 1993-94 NBA Finals.

Harper works as an analyst for the Mavericks television broadcasts.

 

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[Mailbag: Do Heat really have a chance in the LeBron James free agency sweepstakes?]

[Miami Heat ties to Finals not limited to LeBron James]

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NBA Finals: JR Smith’s blunder costs LeBron, Cavaliers chance to steal Game 1 from Warriors

Cleveland’s LeBron James looks at JR Smith as time expires in regulation against the Golden State Warriors in Game 1 of the 2018 NBA Finals with the score tied at 107. (Photo by Ezra Shaw/Getty Images)

The Cleveland Cavaliers – the biggest underdogs in the Finals in 30 years – squandered a golden opportunity to steal Game 1 and now must be wondering just what they have to do to win a game against the Golden State Warriors.

In the final minute of regulation, the Cavaliers were victimized by a little-known rule that allowed the officials to change a call and then watched JR Smith dribble out what could have been their only chance at a win.

Smith rebounded a missed George Hill free throw with 4.7 seconds to play in regulation and thinking the Cavs had the lead raced to halfcourt with the ball. The problem was the game was tied and Smith’s brain cramp send the game into overtime where the Warriors dominated for a 124-114 win.

Although Smith tried to save himself by saying he knew the game was tied and he was trying to find room to get a shot and then thought Cleveland going to call a time out, he clearly believed the Cavs had the lead.

Cavs coach Tryonn Lue confirmed that.

“He thought it was over,” Lue said. “He thought we were up one.”

The look on LeBron James’ face told the story. James finished with 51 points and must have been wondering if his effort was going to go to waste.

It did.

Smith’s mental meltdown concluded a bizarre final minute filled with drama and breakdowns.

It all started with a reversal on a block-charge call with 34.6 seconds to play that had a huge impact on the outcome. Kevin Durant was originally called for an offensive foul but because the officials could review the play to see if James was in the restricted circle, the actual call was also able to be reviewed. It was changed – correctly – to a block on James.

Instead of the Cavs leading 104-102 with the ball, Durant made both free throws and the game was tied.

“For our team to come out and play their hearts out, compete the way we did, it’s bad,” Lue said about the overturned call.

Fast forward to the final seconds with the Warriors leading 107-106 thanks to a Stephen Curry basket and free throw. The Warriors fell asleep on the biggest possession of the game and Klay Thompson had to grab Hill, who was cutting to the basket and would have been wide open as James was making the pass. Hill made the first free throw to tie the score and missed the second, setting up Smith’s blunder.

All of which must have James wondering: “What more can I do?”

James had the sixth 50-point game in NBA Finals history. He also tied Michael Jordan with his 109th playoff game with at least 30 points. James shot 19 of 32, had eight rebounds and eight assists and still could not will his team to a win.

In addition, the Cavaliers finished with a 52-38 rebounding advantage and the Warriors were just 8 of 30 on 3-pointers midway through the fourth quarter. They finished 13 of 36.

While Lue said the  Cavs were robbed, Warriors coach Steve Kerr said his team was lucky.

“We played as well as we’ve played all postseason,” James said. “We gave ourselves a chance possession after possession after possession. And there were some plays that were kind of taken away from us.”

Cleveland’s Tristan Thompson confronts Golden State’s Draymond Green late in Game 1. (AP Photo/Ben Margot)

Let’s get physical: With the Cavaliers’ frustration level already boiling over, tempers flared in the final seconds of overtime and it could impact Sunday’s Game 2. After James had words with Curry and Thompson, Cleveland’s Tristian Thompson took offense to Shaun Livingston taking a shot with four seconds remaining and threw an elbow at Livingston.

Thompson said the thought Livingston should not have shot the ball and taken the shot clock violation. “That was some bull****,” he said.

Livingston, and the rest of the Warriors, disagreed.

“We don’t ever take a turnover,” Livingston said. “We finish the game out, that’s just how we play. That’s not disrespect to any team.”

Thompson was immediately ejected and as the teams came together Golden State’s Draymond Green started talking and waiving goodbye. Thompson shoved the basketball and his hand in Green’s face. Green backed off.

The league certainly will take a look at the play today and could fine or even suspend Tristian Thompson for a game.

Klay Thompson is in pain after injuring his left knee. (Photo by Ezra Shaw/Getty Images)

Warriors let out sigh of relief: As much as we all believe this will be a quick series the first quarter reminded us how quickly things could change.

Everybody connected to the Warriors held their breath when Smith slipped and rolled into Klay Thompson’s left knee about six minutes into the game. The Warriors guard went down grimacing and slapped the court, a bad sign. But the news was as good as it could have been for the Warriors as Thompson was diagnosed with a leg contusion and returned at the start of the second quarter. He finished with 24 points.

But the play illustrates why nothing is guaranteed. This could easily have ended differently and suddenly the Warriors are down one of their stars and the series takes on a whole different look.

[Heat center Hassan Whiteside to play in NBA Africa Game]

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Game 1 of Finals exactly what Kevin Durant envisioned when he signed with Warriors 11 months ago

Maybe the Cleveland Cavaliers just forgot Kevin Durant was on the floor. After all, the last two years they didn’t have to worry about Durant when they faced the Golden State Warriors in the Finals, with the eight-time All-Star nothing more than a spectator after his Oklahoma City teams were eliminated.

How else to explain the fact that Durant was more wide open than Draymond Green’s mouth during most of Thursday’s Game 1? The result was exactly what Durant envisioned when he left Oklahoma City 11 months ago, a juggernaut offense taking down the Cavs in the Finals.

The Warriors’ 113-91 dismantling of the Cavaliers showed exactly how dangerous they have become with Durant. Sure, Durant scored 38 points, shot 14 of 26 and his six dunks reminded us all just how bad the Cavaliers’ defense was late in the season, but this is why the Warriors will be so hard to beat. …

Kevin Durant dunks during Game 1 of the Finals. (John G. Mabanglo/Pool Photo via AP)

With four All-Stars, even if two have checked out offensively, as Klay Thompson and Green did in Game 1, combining for 15 points and 22 missed shots, the Warriors always will have two players ready to take over. In Game 1, Stephen Curry was that other guy with 28 points.

The Cavaliers’ treatment of Durant was baffling, appearing more concerned with the 3-point shooters as he would race down the court with the ball. Durant had six dunks in the first half, five in transition. Of course, Cleveland’s transition defense was the second worst in the league this year, so …

The one play that was a microcosm of this game occurred in the first half when Durant grabbed the rebound and pushed the ball — all the while his eyes on Curry on the left side hoping LeBron James and Kyrie Irving would bite. Both did and suddenly the middle of the court was wide open and Durant went in for another uncontested dunk.

Just as he envisioned.

Another disappointing Game 1 for LeBron: LeBron James has been to eight Finals, and seven times his teams have lost Game 1. And the only win was in 2011, his first Finals game as a member of the Heat. Miami went on to lose that series to Dallas in six games. James’s 28 points and 15 rebounds did not tell the entire story. His defense on Durant was atrocious and he had eight of Cleveland’s 20 turnovers, the third most by an individual in Finals history. Clearly frustrated, James is going to need a lot more help than Irving scoring 24 points if Cleveland is going to avoid being embarrassed in this series.

LeBron James on the bench during the Cavaliers loss to the Warriors in Game 1 of the Finals. (Photo by Ezra Shaw/Getty Images)

Hey Cleveland, you’re not in the East anymore: The Cavaliers blew through the Eastern Conference during the playoffs, going 12-1 on the way to their third straight trip to the Finals. But the Cavaliers are no longer facing the weaker teams from the East and it showed. Cleveland averaged 116.8 points, shot 50.7 percent and held the Pacers, Raptors and Celtics to 87 field-goal attempts per game in the first three rounds. In Game 1, Cleveland scored 91 points, shot 35.5 percent and the Warriors took an astounding 106 shots. Welcome to the big leagues.

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

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NBA Finals: Heat one of three teams to rally from 2-0 hole

If LeBron James is look for reason to believe the Cavaliers still have a chance, he can start by asking his buddy Dwyane Wade. (Getty Images)
If LeBron James is look for reason to believe the Cavaliers still have a chance, he can start by asking his buddy Dwyane Wade. (Getty Images)

LeBron James and the Cavaliers look just about done after dropping the first two game of the NBA Finals by a total of 48 points. It’s reasonable to count them out given that only three teams in league history have rallied from down 2-0.

One of those, the most recent, was the Heat in 2006.
Continue reading “NBA Finals: Heat one of three teams to rally from 2-0 hole”

Video: Could LeBron James come back to Miami if Cavs win the title?

[cmg_cinesport url=”http://cinesport.palmbeachpost.com/embed/palm-beach-nba-miami-heat/schein-is-lebron-heading-south-if-cavs-win-title/”%5D

Now that LeBron James and the Cleveland Cavaliers are back in the NBA Finals, would LeBron James consider returning to Miami if the Cavs win the championship?

Check out the video above.

And would you as a Heat fan welcome him back? Let us know in the comments section below or on Facebook.