No. 1:Green fires back at Pierce's Durant criticism -- In the last 24 hours, there were two notable "news" items regarding Kevin Durant -- or, more specifically, how others view Durant's decision to move from the Oklahoma City Thunder to the Golden State Warriors via free agency. First came comments from Durant's former teammate and sidekick in OKC, All-Star Russell Westbrook. He was not thrilled about Durant's recent comments calling the Warriors a "selfless" bunch. Then, came comments from LA Clippers veteran Paul Pierce in an interview with Sirius XM NBA Radio. Durant's Warriors teammate, Draymond Green, has heard enough out of Pierce and fired back at him yesterday, writes Anthony Slater of The Mercury News:
Earlier Thursday, Paul Pierce went on Sirius XM radio and criticized Kevin Durant’s decision to leave the Thunder for the Warriors, saying, among other things, “when you’re that close as a competitor, you don’t go and join the team that pushed you out.” This continued the flood of both current and former players who have scoffed at Durant’s move, questioning his competitiveness.
Later Thursday, following the Warriors practice in Denver, Draymond Green came to the defense of his teammate. Here’s a quick transcript of his comments:
What are your thoughts on the continued rhetoric surrounding Durant’s decision?
GREEN: “I just wonder at what point do they get bored talking about the same thing. You got all these guys talking. Like (Paul) Pierce today, like, dude nobody care what you did or who you did it for. Just give it a break. Everybody got something to say and want to take everything he say and twist it. Like, he play with the Warriors. OKC has their team, we have our team. He left there. Nobody complain when somebody leave Apple and go to Google. Aren’t they in competition with each other? Nobody talk junk about the CEO who leaves Apple and goes to Google. As a basketball player, you are the CEO of a business. You are a business. Kevin Durant is a big business. He is the CEO of that business. So him going to play basketball for a different team, the CEO decided to leave where he was at and go somewhere else.”
“But there’s so many guys in this league that are so stupid they don’t think like that. They don’t think business wise. It happens every day in the world. But in basketball it’s a problem. Aren’t you competitive in your day job if you work for Apple? Don’t you want to outdo Google? What’s the difference on the basketball court. It’s your day job. You want to do what’s better for you. If it’s better for your family life, better for your happiness. Ain’t no one criticizing them. I don’t understand it. I’ll never understand it. So that’s just me. And I’d be willing to bet my salary ain’t many guys in this league more competitive than me.”
How has Kevin been behind the scenes with this stuff?
GREEN: “He’s been himself. No one is worried about that. He laugh at it the times I’ve seen it. It’s a joke for real. Like these dudes got kids and they worried about what this grown man is doing with his life? Give it a break.”
No. 2: Vogel expecting game vs. Pacers to be 'weird' -- In his five-plus seasons as coach of the Indiana Pacers, Frank Vogel led the team to a pair of division titles, back-to-back appearances in the Eastern Conference finals and five playoff berths in six postseasons. Yet Vogel was not retained as coach following the 2015-16 season and moved on to the Orlando Magic. Tonight, he faces off against his old team in Orlando (7 ET) and is ready for a whole rush of emotions in the experience, writes Josh Robbins of the Orlando Sentinel:
Vogel will face his former team, the Indiana Pacers, for the first time.
"It's going to be weird, but I really want to have a lot of fun with it," Vogel said. "It's going to be good to see a lot of my old friends — current friends, I should say — to have them all in town in my new digs here. I'm excited about it."
The Pacers reached the playoffs five times in Vogel's six seasons as head coach, and Vogel's teams advanced to the Eastern Conference finals twice. Bird let Vogel walk even though the Pacers posted a 45-37 record during the 2015-16 season and extended the Toronto Raptors to seven games in their postseason series.
Bird said the Pacers needed "a new voice." Bird also wanted the Pacers to play at a faster pace.
"It was really hard, to be honest, mainly because of how hard it is on my family," Vogel said Thursday. "We were very rooted in Indiana. We had a great neighborhood, a lot of friends. [We were] very rooted within the organization, within the community, and we loved it there. So being told that we had to leave was very hard on me and very hard on my family. It was a tough time, for sure. But things happen for a reason."
In and around Indianapolis, strangers approached Vogel out of the blue to offer their support after Bird made his decision. More people walked up to Vogel to say hello than they ever did when he was the Pacers' coach.
The support meant a lot to him.
For Vogel, the last few months have felt like a whirlwind.
Although he and his wife have taken their daughters to Disney, he hasn't had a chance yet to go to the beach.
It will have to wait.
With only six returning players and a bunch of newcomers, the Magic need to use this preseason to establish some on-court chemistry.
So Friday night's matchup against the Pacers must be productive.
There might be a few moments for sentimentality, though.
When the Pacers let Vogel go, Indiana All-Star forward Paul George posted a photo on Instagram of him and Vogel on the sidelines during the game. In that image, Vogel speaks as George listens with his right arm wrapped around Vogel.
"This pic sums up our relationship the best," George wrote on Instagram. "You talk I listen. And we figure it out together! Look forward to the wink [after] the first basket I make while you're coaching against me."
Vogel said George's Instagram post still gives him "chills."
No. 3: Anthony feeling disrespected by ranking in magazine -- Carmelo Anthony and his New York Knicks have designs on returning to the playoffs and atoning for an awful 2015-16 season. With a remade roster and a new coach in Jeff Hornacek, the Knicks have every reason to believe things could improve this season. Yet in a recent ranking of the NBA's best players, Slam magazine put Anthony at No. 15, a spot that has left the Knicks' star feeling "disrespected", writes Ian Bagley of ESPN.com:
Carmelo Anthony called Slam magazine's decision to rank him as the 15th-best player in the NBA "disrespectful" but added that he won't use the slight as motivation.
"Nah, I'm self-motivated," Anthony said after practice Thursday. "I don't really need something like that to motivate me. Probably somebody sitting at their desk over at Slam coming up and doing their job."
Anthony, who was ranked 13th in the poll last season, expressed his displeasure with two comments on the magazine's Instagram post, saying "don't play yaself" and that "all credibility lost in my [eyes]."
The magazine ranked the 32-year-old Anthony just behind Klay Thompson and one spot ahead of Blake Griffin.
"I just looked at it, and it was disrespectful," said Anthony, who added that one of his family members sent the ranking to him as motivation. "I feel like I have something to prove, regardless of what's going on. I've always felt like that. High school. College. NBA. I've always felt like I had to work extremely hard to get the respect I deserve.
"It is what it is. I take it with a grain of salt. I laugh at it. I definitely wasn't upset about it yesterday. It was just kind of surprising. ... So it's just more of kind of letting them know, 'You lost some credibility with me.' "
"If they want to put that on me, it is what it is. I can't control that," said Anthony, who was last named to an All-NBA team (voted on by the media) in 2012-13. "There's so many things that come into play when it comes to team success, especially here in New York. So I can't control that."
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