This morning’s headlines:
- Thomas posts social-media video about trade
- Durant on ‘cupcake’ chatter, OKC
- Pistons’ Jackson to ramp up workload soon
- McGrady hosts barbecue for Harvey victims
Thomas posts social-media video about trade — Aside from some early summer interviews, the NBA world has heard little from Isaiah Thomas of late. That’s been true in the wake of his trade to the Cleveland Cavaliers last week, but he somewhat ended his silence with some social media posts last night, including an Instagram post of him working out in Cavs gear for the first time …
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"They say every man is defined by his reaction to any given situation. Well who would you want to define you? Someone else or yourself? Whatever you do, give your heart to it and stay strong"… THE MARATHON CONTINUES!!! #BookOfIsaiah2ComingSoon #ThatSLOWgrind #KeepDoubting #KillaSeason 🎥: @TeeJayRegan
… and a photo of him in the Cavs’ locker room and on the team’s practice courts (via his wife’s Instagram account) …
IT at his new Cavs locker and on the Cleveland practice courts (via his wife Kayla's IG story). pic.twitter.com/R02qilBNYV
— Chris Forsberg (@ChrisForsberg_) September 4, 2017
Durant digs in on ‘cupcake’ talk — Kevin Durant’s first game back in Oklahoma City was one of last season’s most anticipated games. He wasn’t exactly welcomed warmly by Thunder fans, who went all-in on cupcake-themed barbs toward the former OKC star. In a recent video posted on Facebook, Durant opened up about that return game, Thunder fans and the whole ‘cupcake’ talk. Erik Horne and Brett Dawson of The Oklahoman have more:
Coinciding with the release of his KDX shoe and its “Red Velvet” colorway, Durant and Nike released a video via Buzzfeed’s “Tasty” Facebook page. In the video, Durant actually makes cupcakes and explains his thoughts about how Thunder fans welcomed him back to Oklahoma City.
“My favorite memory of red velvet was being called a cupcake in Oklahoma City every time I touched the ball. That was fun,” Durant said.
“It definitely showed that the fans get really creative and are really invested in their team and the sport of basketball, so I looked at it as a positive.”
After the Warriors beat the Thunder 130-114 that night, Durant’s new teammates bought cupcake T-shirts from fans and wore them in postgame interviews.
“Me being called a cupcake was never serious to me, but to have my (Golden State) teammates support me and just make a joke about it, again that’s why it’s so funny to us,” Durant said.
“After we won the basketball game, it was kind of a little jab to the fans in Oklahoma City, but it’s all fun and games. To have that support from your teammates, especially when you’re going through a new experience like that, it was definitely refreshing to see.”
“It feels good to kind of conquer that whole cupcake thing,” Durant said. “I know it was a big thing, so to kind of embrace that and make it a part of me now is what makes this whole thing now really, really cool.
“There was a lot of speculation on who I was and why I made a decision to leave where I was for nine years to go to another team. Everything was in question — my character, why I decided to make this decision, who made me make this decision. I just wanted to show everybody it came from me, and I’m still the same person I was before I made the decision.”
Pistons’ Jackson to ramp up workload in coming weeks — Overall, the Detroit Pistons are out to atone for last season’s 37-win campaign that did not include a playoff run. That point guard Reggie Jackson was never quite himself all season long was a big factor in that letdown season. According to Rod Beard of The Detroit News, the Pistons are counting on a big bounce-back year from Jackson in 2017-18:
After Jackson missed the first 21 games, the Pistons started slowly out of the gate with reserve point guard Ish Smith holding things down admirably in Jackson’s absence. When Jackson returned, he wasn’t near 100 percent and played through most of the season as just a shell of the 2016 point guard that was one of the most dominant fourth-quarter scorers in the league.
And that’s where the Pistons — and center Andre Drummond — are now, hoping that Jackson can return to his previous form, that the offseason regimen that they have him on now will keep his left knee healthy. Jackson isn’t doing basketball activities in the summer and the Pistons are keeping close tabs on his progress.
“Reggie’s got to have confidence that’s he’s back physically and that he can do the things he did before. This process has been good,” Pistons coach Stan Van Gundy said recently. “This is a long offseason process. He’s got great confidence in it and he’s at a point every day where he wants to do more.
“That’s a good sign and he’ll return with the confidence to attack the basket and make the plays two years ago when there was no question he was one of the top 10 point guards in the league.”
The Pistons have their performance rehab specialist Mark Cranston in California with Jackson and while he’ll be increasing his workload ahead of the start of training camp in a few weeks, there’s still reason for optimism.
“Reggie and I are like Batman and Robin; without Robin there’s no Batman and without Batman, there’s no Robin,” Drummond said recently. “You need those two pieces to be able to work; if one of them isn’t working, you’re not going to have a full-running team.
“We struggled last year because the stuff we were getting easy baskets off of wasn’t there anymore.”
The Pistons will have a new-looks starting lineup, with Kentavious Caldwell-Pope going to the Los Angeles Lakers in free agency and Marcus Morris going to the Boston Celtics in the Bradley deal.
McGrady hosts barbecue for 800 Hurricane Harvey victims — The Houston Rockets haven’t shied away from giving to those in the state affected by Hurricane Harvey. That goes for star guard James Harden, owner Leslie Alexander and, apparently, former superstar guard Tracy McGrady. Jonathan Feigen of the Houston Chronicle reports that T-Mac hosted an 800-person barbecue in the city for the storm’s victims:
Tracy McGrady was glued to the television coverage of Hurricane Harvey’s destruction and the recovery efforts underway when his wife CleRenda joined him with an idea.
Their Sugar Land home had been spared despite being rendered an island in the floodwaters that surrounded it in every direction. But as the McGradys considered the many ways they could help out in their adopted hometown, they also wanted to provide a reason to smile and offer up a brief taste – a smoky, sauced taste – of normalcy.
For many people, Monday would be a Labor Day unlike any before. It had always been a day for everyone to take a break and perhaps get together with friends for a barbecue. So the McGradys decided this Labor Day would be again.
“This is all my wife,” McGrady said. “It’s crazy. I was watching TV, and she came to me and was like, ‘You want to put on a barbecue?’ I said, ‘Here at the house?’ She was like, ‘No. Third Ward.’
“OK. Why not? We wanted to help out the community and give them something to smile about, get away from everything. So here we are.
“We put it together in less than 24 hours. We have a lot of food, a lot of friends and family helping out. We’re going to feed the whole community. There is a lot to go around a couple times. That’s a small thing. The biggest thing is to get people away from the devastation to bring some happiness, some joyous times and some laughter. We all need that.”
“We wanted to be able to give back,” CleRenda McGrady said. “There are a lot of Hurricane Harvey relief efforts. What was important to us was to serve an area that already needed an extra boost. That’s why we decided to come to this particular area: to show them some extra love. Labor Day is all about barbecue, so we wanted to bring the barbecue to them.
“This is the rebuilding stage. We wanted to help people transition back to normality as much as possible. We wanted to give them an extra boost of encouragement and hope.”
“Hopefully, this will bring the community back to a sense of normalcy, because everything has been thrown out of kilter with this storm and everything that’s going on,” Lilly Grove Missionary Baptist Church pastor Terry Anderson said. “The members of our church have come together to be a distribution center for people in the neighborhood who have been affected by the storm. And as much as I’ve always admired Tracy’s formidable skills on the basketball court, I’ve really admired his outreach to the community. He’s been very benevolent and charitable in the community. That helps a lot, especially in these times.”
A sense of routine can be valuable as a step in the recovery process.
Patricia Smith, a grief counselor at the church, was on hand as a community member rather than in an official capacity. But she said events like Monday’s help even after supplies are distributed and the brisket is gone.
“People’s brains have stopped at a point where they were,” Smith said. “Now, we have to restructure to get them to a point of where we are going and how it will affect them. Today, this is wonderful. We have this going on. It’s at our church, and it’s bringing us all together as one. We’re helping our community. And if they need someone to talk to, we’re here for that also. This is Labor Day, but this is a labor of love.”
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SOME RANDOM HEADLINES: Recapping Day 6 of the FIBA Eurobasket tournament … Don’t count on Dwight Howard being some kind of super-sub for the Hornets next season … A not-so-nice assessment of the Pacers’ offseason … Should the Cavs trade away their new pick? … ICYMI, the Rockets sold for a reported $2.2 billion yesterday …