Posted Sep 17 2010 11:30AM
• Sorry. Great development last season, superb character, ideal work ethic, sparkling world championships. But Kevin Durant is not the best player in the world yet, no matter how many people are trying to use the Team USA gold in Istanbul to catapult him past LeBron James and/or Kobe Bryant. And this comes from someone who had been firmly seated on the Thunder bandwagon long before last season (and is a cheerleader for OKC itself). Hate how James handled himself the past couple months, condemn Bryant's behavior years ago, but they're the leaders, not Durant. "You better slow down a little bit," is the message from one veteran exec to anyone pushing KD to the front of the class.
• James: the third-most points on the All-Defense team last season, in voting by coaches. Bryant: fourth most. Durant: tied for 36th, with a lone second-team nod.
• His personal manager asked, "What has Allen Iverson done to not warrant interest in him?" Surely Gary Moore knows and was speaking rhetorically. But to read the comment from Moore that no NBA team has contacted Iverson in his free-agent summer is surprising and inexplicable even to those of us who have said for at least a year that A.I. had turned himself into mostly unwanted. Not a single conversation to see how Iverson is handling personal issues and gauge his interest level on fitting in? Not one phone call?
• Ron Artest has put a pre-training camp end to the joust with Doc Rivers. The Celtics coach started it by saying the Lakers still haven't beaten the Boston starters in a series, noting how Kendrick Perkins missed Game 7 of the Finals with a knee injury. Artest reminded via Twitter about Andrew Bynum missing when the Celtics won the title in 2008, and Bynum and Bryant playing with injuries in 2010. In truth, Rivers was probably speaking more to drive his own roster that loves to seize on a challenge than to diminish the L.A. accomplishment. There are a lot of complainers in the league, and he isn't one of them. Said Artest: "Me and Doc, we should start a comedy act."
• Forget the open letter the Timberwolves took out in the hometown Star Tribune that brought ridicule for the statement "So will we challenge for the NBA championship this year? Not likely." The real attention should go to a lengthy missive from president David Kahn to fans that builds hope with the commitment that "we will seek a singular move rather than a series of moves, as we did these last 14 months" if current players do not develop and soon. That raises the stakes to now having to make a big move if key pieces of the rotation show no progress.
• On second thought, don't forget the open letter. The Timberwolves got ripped for the statement for one reason: they're the Timberwolves. If it came from an organization or an executive backed by any recent success, people will say the common sense is appreciated. Fans have a right to expect their team to aim high and concede nothing. But in this case, it's just a lot of complaining. People would have laughed at the front office for saying the roster is taking the court on the first day of camp with the intention of winning the championship. People did laugh for the reality that the Lakers don't need to sweat the Wolves and people would have laughed with some middle-ground assessment that the playoffs are within reach in 2010-11. The standings are the problem, not the honesty.
• Lots of good conjecture about the roster for Team USA 2012 now that Team USA 2010 has proven successful. It's easy to see most of the team that won the gold medal in Beijing returning from hiatus to play in London, but USA Basketball chief Jerry Colangelo has spent years emphasizing a commitment to the program and saying he will remember those who showed up this summer and those who couldn't work it into their schedule. It's on him to back up the statements.
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