1. Durant ignoring outside noise -- With the Warriors and Cavaliers storming their way to a three-match in the NBA Finals, both teams have heard the complaints that they’re bad for business, that they’ve upset the balance of competitive power around the NBA. And as Kevin Durant tells Sam Amick of USA Today, he’s ignoring all the outside noise and is focused on moving forward:
“I'm just at peace with myself; I'm at peace with myself as a basketball player, most importantly,” Durant told USA TODAY Sports recently. “I think this move, and the criticism that comes with this move, has made me zero in on what's the most important thing, and that's just playing basketball, working out every day, getting better, enjoying every single day as a basketball player. It made me really appreciate that. It made me go back to that. When you listen to the nonsense, then you start to really let it take control of your thoughts, that’s (not good), you know what I'm saying? So I just got back to the game.”
The game had to save him, though. Just 10 months ago, Durant was paralyzed by the very noise he now ignores.
Durant broke his own news, detailing why he was bound for The Bay in the Players' Tribune article that kickstarted the chaos. But for two days after his decision, he stayed inside a Hamptons mansion where free-agency meetings had taken place and shuddered at the thought of the scrutiny he would face.
He would laugh weeks later about how he assumed the worst, how he wondered aloud among friends and family if he’d be treated like a modern-day O.J. Simpson or worse, as he said in mid-July, if someone would “just hit me with their car” if he walked outside. But once October hit, when the balls started bouncing and he learned little by little that new teammates like Stephen Curry, Draymond Green and all the rest were as genuine as advertised, the noise started to fade.
“I had to get used to the attention,” said Durant, who averaged 25.2 points, 7.8 rebounds, 3.7 assists, and 1.2 blocks per game as the Warriors became the first team in league history to enter the Finals 12-0 in the playoffs. “I wasn't used to this much attention, no matter if it was good or bad. I had to get used to that. And once I got used to it, it's like, 'Alright, let's roll with it. It's part of the journey.' Let's just go and play the game. That's the only thing that matters.”
It certainly helps that Durant, who used to routinely respond to fan criticism on Twitter, has taken the minimalist approach to social media. He deleted his Instagram page and checks his Twitter mentions no more than once a month.
YouTube has become his favorite platform. Durant has his own channel that offers a look at his life on the court and even inside his home. Like so many elite athletes today, he loves having creative control. But as Durant learned the hard way early on, he has no jurisdiction inside the road arenas where the noise and negativity knows no bounds.
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2. Celtics could see significant change -- After finishing the regular season with the best record in the Eastern Conference, the Boston Celtics made it to the Conference Finals before an injury knocked out leading scorer Isaiah Thomas and the Celtics were eliminated by the Cleveland Cavaliers. One day later, Celtics GM Danny Ainge talked about the team’s future, and noted that they still need to get better, as Steve Bulpett writes in the Boston Herald:
That the Celts reached this level ahead of schedule is of no consolation to Ainge.
“I don’t know what ‘level’ that means,” he said. “I feel like wins are deceiving sometimes. I think that the fact that we were one of three teams still left playing was something to be proud of, but it’s not necessarily where we really are.
“I think sometimes teams make false assumptions of their team based on things like that. I think that our team is not that much different than a lot of our competition in the East. I think we had a good year in spite of some injuries, you know, with (Al) Horford going down early and Isaiah (Thomas) missing a short time and Avery (Bradley) missing 22 games there in a stretch. We had to overcome some injuries, and it was good because our depth got a chance to play. Everybody on our roster got a chance to prove their worth.
“But I feel like it doesn’t really matter what we’ve accomplished. If we’d lost Game 7 against the Wizards, I don’t feel any different than if we’re where we are today. I know that we’re good. I know that we’re not great. I know that we still have more to do, and, you know, that next step is by far the hardest.”
A large part of the problem is that the player in Ainge would love to start pushing buttons and moving chips into the middle of the table and (insert your own favorite go-for-it metaphor here). And with the No. 1 overall pick, a number of players on his roster than can help other teams and with the Nets’ top pick again next year, he has currency.
But right now he just doesn’t want to screw it up by getting over-eager. In golfing terms he most certainly understands, you cannot win a tournament on Thursday or Friday, but you can lose one on those days. If the Celtics want to be playing in the final group on Sunday, they have to avoid double-bogeys this offseason and make some shots now and later.
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3. Arrest warrant issued for Kanter -- Days after being detained while traveling through Europe, a warrant has been issued for the arrest of Oklahoma City Thunder center Enes Kanter back in Turkey, where he held a passport. SI.com’s legal expert Michael McCann lays out what this means for Kanter:
The Turkish arrest warrant poses no immediate threat to Kanter, who is currently in the U.S.
Turkish law enforcement officers lack the authority to serve an arrest warrant on Kanter while he is in the U.S. The same goes when Kanter and his Thunder teammates are in Canada to play the Toronto Raptors. This dynamic is consistent with the concept of jurisdiction. Among other things, jurisdiction generally limits a country’s enforcement of laws to matters that occur in its own territories. Jurisdiction mostly prevents extraterritorial applications of a country’s legal authority.
The fact that Turkish police can’t arrest Kanter while he is in Oklahoma doesn’t mean Turkey can’t cause Kanter problems. Most significantly, Turkey could petition the U.S. to extradite Kanter.
Since 1981, Turkey and the U.S. have agreed to extradition terms that are expressed in their extradition treaty. In order to comply with the treaty, Turkey would need to explain the details of the charge, offer some evidence that Kanter is guilty and establish that Kanter’s alleged misconduct would constitute a crime in either country.
As the U.S.-Turkey extradition treaty makes clear, extradition shall not be granted when its purpose is “of a political character” or when the accompanying arrest has been made “on account of his political opinions.” It stands to reason that Kanter, an outspoken critic of the Turkish government, could offer a compelling argument that the arrest warrant is of a political character.
Further, any attempt to extradite Kanter would take months and possibly years. The request and accompanying materials would undergo a lengthy and thorough review by the U.S. State Department, the U.S. Justice Department and potentially a federal magistrate judge. Kanter and his attorneys would be able to offer defenses along the way.
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SOME RANDOM HEADLINES: Mike Brown is looking forward to facing his former team in the NBA Finals ... Matt Barnes would like to play another year or two ... Kareem Abdul-Jabbar may get involved with the new Lakers front office ... David Lee should avoid surgery following his knee injury ... Stan Van Gundy has won the PBWA’s Rudy Tomjanovic Award.