James Johnson talked with the media during the Toronto Raptors’ media day about being excited about being back in Toronto, admitted to watching the Raptors’ playoff series against the Nets, and explained how he has grown as a player since his trip to the D-League.
Here are photos of Jay Triano (Portland TrailBlazers), Eric Hughes (Milwaukee Bucks), Jama Mahlalela (Toronto Raptors) and Bruno Caboclo (Toronto Raptors) working with campers at Nike’s Americas Team Camp.
Click on any of the pictures to see a larger, high res version.
I was a guest on SiriusXM to talk about the big summer the Cleveland Cavaliers have had. We talked about the trade for Kevin Love, Dion Waiters and Kyrie Irving butting heads in the past and how Cleveland’s current roster has some flaws.
“This was an extremely difficult decision as I take great pride in representing our country. I know that I owe it to my USA Basketball teammates to be totally invested in the experience. After going through training camp with USAB, I realized I could not fulfill my responsibilities from both a time and energy standpoint. I need to take a step back and take some time away, both mentally and physically in order to prepare for the upcoming NBA season. I will be rooting for USAB and look forward to future opportunities with them.”
“That’s my biggest surprise coming in here. The one thing I was worried about is whether he would be able to step in after so much time (off). He looks, to me, as good as when we had him in the World Championship in ’10, when he was at full strength coming (into) an MVP year. He looks very, very good. Obviously, [when] he gets in some games it will be a little different, but it’s not like he hasn’t had success in games. He had a lot of success. He’s been the most impressive guy here.”
“I thought it was well-thought-out. It was classy. It was a great move to do it as a letter. That was pretty cool. It’s funny seeing guys think about more than just basketball for once. He thought about the city where he comes from, about Northeast Ohio and how he can affect so many of the kids just being there playing basketball. I love that. So many guys get criticized for making the decision that’s best for them instead of what’s best for everybody else. He’s a guy that did that. You gotta respect that. I applauded him, I texted him and told him congratulations on the decision and told him I was happy for him. As a fan of the game, it’s going to be pretty cool to see him back in Cleveland.”
McNeill and Cheel talked about LeBron’s return to the Cavs, why Kevin Love isn’t an ideal fit for Cleveland, Melo being smart to take the money New York was offering and the mess Donald Sterling has made.
At Rucker Park in New York, people sat on rooftops and climbed trees to watch Julius Erving play. In Louisville, Kentucky, Artis Gilmore would pull up in his fancy car, still wearing his fancy suits, and just ball. Kevin Durant first measured the worth of his game on the D.C. playgrounds, and Arthur Agee chased his hoop dream in Chicago. The Philadelphia outdoor courts once boasted a who’s who of the city’s best ballers, and in Los Angeles, playground legends with names such as Beast, Iron Man and Big Money Griff played on the same concrete as Magic and Kobe.
That was then, a then that wasn’t all that long ago.
Now? Now the courts are empty, the nets dangling by a thread. The crowds that used to stand four deep are gone, and so are the players. Once players asked “Who’s got next?” Now the question is “Anyone want to play?” And the answer seems to be no, at least not here, not outside.
Playground basketball, at least as we knew it, is dying.
“Playground Basketball Is Dying” via ESPN