Social distancing to combat spread of the COVID-19 pandemic continues to uncover gems from around the NBA, including the prediction Saturday from Atlanta Hawks guard Trae Young that the Los Angeles Lakers would win the title if the season continued.
Asked who would win the 2020 NBA championship, Young didn’t hesitate.
“The Lakers, for sure,” Young said. “Bron was on a different mission. It was the craziest thing I’ve ever seen. That’s why he’s the greatest in my eyes, bro.”
Before falling 104-102 to the Brooklyn Nets in their last game before the NBA suspended the season, the Lakers had won four straight games, and 13 of their last 16 dating to Feb. 1.
Here’s a quick rundown of some of content generated by players around the NBA as they await the all-clear to resume the season:
If season doesn’t continue, Vince Carter fine with his finale
Vince Carter isn’t spending time pondering whether he’s taken his last shot in the NBA. The 22-year veteran made that clear Wednesday on The Ringer’s “Winging It with Vince Carter and Annie Finberg” podcast.
Near the end of Atlanta’s 136-131 overtime loss on Mar. 11 to the New York Knicks, news started to spread around State Farm Arena that the NBA had suspended the season. The reality of the situation, and the fact Carter was playing his final season, led the crowd to start chanting the veteran’s name.
“I didn’t really think about it potentially being my last game or anything like that until our great friend Dewayne Dedmon [said something],” Carter explained on the podcast. “He’s like, ‘Man, this might be your last one. They could possibly end the season right here.’ I was just like, ‘That would be crazy.’ Then all of a sudden you start hearing cheers because I guess it kind of hit everybody else. DeAndre’ Bembry was like pushing me on the court. I’m like, ‘Nah, chill man, I’m good.’”
Then the crowd started chanting again.
“Right then, it’s like a chill just hit me. As I checked in, it was kind of like the reality of it. I just wanted to get a shot off. Obviously, you always want to make your last one because you never know. They were like, ‘Dunk it, dunk it.’ I’m like, ‘Look, I was sitting on the bench too long to attempt a dunk.’ At this point, sitting there that long, I’m like, ‘Three points is more than two any day of the week. I’m gonna shoot the 3-ball.’ I was just happy I was able to get the ball there. It was just mind over matter at that point. So, Trae [Young] throws the ball, and I take my one-two step and just shoot it like I’ve been playing the whole game. It’s giving me chills right now.”
Carter nailed the shot — all net.
For the first time since the season was suspended, @mrvincecarter15 opens up about the possibility that the March 11 game against the Knicks could be his last with @AnnieFinberg. #WingingItPodcast pic.twitter.com/uF0D8w3ACX
— #RingerNBA (@ringernba) April 1, 2020
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DeMar DeRozan: Siakam has the tools to surpass Lowry as greatest Raptor
Former teammates DeMar DeRozan and Pascal Siakam caught up with one another via Instagram Live for a wide-ranging conversation.
While they agree that Kyle Lowry is the greatest player in Toronto franchise history, DeRozan believes Siakam can pass up the point guard at some point. DeRozan said he makes it a point to tell people that, too.
“You got the full blueprint, bro, to even pass [Lowry],” DeRozan told Siakam. “You got the full blueprint, you done seen it all. People forget your rookie year, [Jared Sullinger] was hurt, and you started with us and we was hooping. I tell everybody, people forget Pascal played with us. Then you’ll go play in the G-League, hoop, then come back and play with us. You were always consistently hooping. Then to see how much we were hooping, how serious we took it, and you just fell in with it. That’s the ultimate cheat code you have. I tell everybody that story.”
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Jimmy Butler: ‘Doing nothing but drinking wine and working out’
Butler and Carmelo Anthony conducted a “What in Your Glass” Instagram chat, and the pair discussed wine, and wine culture around the NBA, as well as the ways they’re coping with the suspension of the season.
“When I tell you I ain’t been doing nothing but drinking wine and working out, I mean I ain’t been doing nothing but drinking wine and working out,” Butler said. “I’m waiting for this thing to blow over.”
Butler jokingly admitted “I’m losing my damn mind here” due to the time away from the court, adding that he trains intensively to maintain some level of normalcy as he and the rest of the league continues to practice social distancing.
Interestingly, Butler said the doesn’t “even have a video game console.” So, he’s spending extra time with his family, in addition to drinking wine and training. In the conversation, which lasted more than 50 minutes, Butler also explained to Anthony how he became a fan of Sassicia wines. Butler said he’s got between 500 and 600 bottles of Sassicia 2010 in his collection.
Butler said he tried it for the first time in 2013 in Chicago with actor Mark Wahlberg on the set of a Transformers movie.
“It’s because that’s the first wine besides Mad Dog 20/20, when I wasn’t supposed to be drinking it, that I ever had,” Butler said. “So, I’m biased to that because that’s what I was introduced to. So, I was introduced to what’s one of the best wines in the world. That’s not all I drink. 2010 is probably the most that I have. That’s what wine is about: to be able to tell the story that goes with that wine. The first wine that I had: 2010 Sassicia with Mark Wahlberg. Damn, I got to have wine with Mark Wahlberg.”
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Waiting for LeBron
Leave it to King James to put out a tweet that would whet the world’s appetite for more of his unique insight.
James posted that he’s “thinking about maybe sitting down and breaking down some of my most memorable games and moments in my career” on Instagram Live or just filming his thoughts to hold on to it “for another time.”
If you’ve ever spent any time around James, you’ll quickly learn that he’s got a near-photographic memory of every play in a given game and can discuss those moments with tremendous insight and clarity. James has played in 1,258 games and captured three championships, so he’s got plenty of moments to ponder ranging from his early career in Cleveland to the days in Miami and then back to the Cavaliers for a title. Stay tuned.
Thinking about maybe sitting down and breaking down some of my most memorable games and moments in my career. Maybe IG Live it or just film it and hold on to it for another time. 🤔
— LeBron James (@KingJames) April 2, 2020
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Chris Paul appreciated Blake Griffin ‘a lot more after I left’
Oklahoma City point guard Chris Paul played for the LA Clippers from 2011-17, spending seven seasons competing alongside former teammate Blake Griffin. Talking to Stephen Jackson and former Clippers teammate Matt Barnes on the duo’s “All the Smoke” podcast, Paul admitted he appreciates Griffin much more now.
Reminiscing about the Lob City days with the Clippers, when they tossed alley-oops with ease to high-risers Griffin and DeAndre Jordan, Paul called the situation “one of those things you don’t realize what you have until it’s gone.”
Paul is in his first season with the Thunder, while Griffin is in Year 3 with the Detroit Pistons.
“I think about it at times,” Paul said. “And me and Blake Griffin absolutely had our issues here and there. But I actually appreciated Blake probably a lot more after I left.”
The Clippers traded Paul to the Houston Rockets in June of 2017.
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Isaiah Thomas wants to play until 40
Despite currently being out of the league, Isaiah Thomas continues to maintain an optimistic perspective.
A two-time NBA All-Star, Thomas took part in a 21-minute interview on the Wizard Talk podcast, and expressed confidence that he’ll receive another opportunity soon in the league, where he plans to play until he’s 40 years old. Thomas joined the Wizards on a one-year deal last summer, but the team traded him to the LA Clippers at the trade deadline.
The Clippers, to Thomas’ surprise, waived him in February, opting instead to sign Reggie Jackson.
“I have a lot left in the tank and my goal has always been to play until 40,” Thomas said, “and I’m going to try everything I can to reach that.”
Thomas averaged 12.2 points per game during his 40-game tenure with the Wizards, shooting 40.8% from the floor and 41.3% from 3-point range, while averaging 3.7 assists. Thomas produced arguably his best game as a Wizard on Dec. 16, when he scored 23 points on 9-of-13 from the floor and 5-of-7 from deep to go with six assists. Thomas is confident he can return to playing at that level consistently.
Thomas underwent surgery after suffering a torn hip labrum in the 2017 playoffs and has struggled to regain form in stints with the Cavaliers, Lakers, Nuggets and Wizards.
He’s not giving up hope.
“Right now, physically, I’m great,” Thomas said. “I’m just trying to stay physically sharp as best as I can throughout this situation, and what’s next for me is waiting for the next opportunity in the NBA.”
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Michael C. Wright is a senior writer for NBA.com. You can e-mail him here , find his archive here and follow him on Twitter .
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