Spurs snatch victory from James again

LeBron James

LeBron James

The San Antonio Spurs continued their success over LeBron James-led teams by edging the Cleveland Cavaliers 92-90 behind Tim Duncan’s double double and a key forced turnover by Manu Ginobili.

Duncan delivered 19 points and 10 rebounds and Boris Diaw also scored 19 points on Wednesday for San Antonio who posted their fifth victory in the last six games.

“It is a big one,” Duncan said. “A great victory on the road against a very talented team.”

The Spurs literally snatched the victory from the James’ hands Wednesday as they forced the Cleveland star to commit a turnover on the Cavs’ final possession of the game.

Ginobili scooped up the ball and ran out the clock for the defending champion Spurs in front of a crowd of 20 562 at Quicken Loans arena. James finished with 15 points and nine assists in 34 minutes of playing time.

The Spurs defeated James and the Miami Heat in five games to claim last season’s NBA title. James left the Heat in the off season to re-join his hometown Cavaliers.

NBA finals MVP Kawhi Leonard finished with 12 points and 10 rebounds and Cory Joseph came off the bench to score 10 points in the win.

“We are still trying to get ourselves together,” Duncan said. “We are not playing very well right now and we are missing some guys.”

Anderson Varejao tallied 23 points and 11 rebounds and Kyrie Irving scored 20 in the loss.

Ginobili split a pair of free throws to stake the Spurs to a 92-90 lead with nine seconds left before James lost the ball near midcourt.

Varejao rebounded Ginobili’s miss and James dribbled behind his back as Ginobili lunged for it, but he lost the ball off his left hand as he attempted a crossover.

Ginobili then threw the ball into the air from the left corner of the three-point line with no time left in regulation.


November 21, 2014 By : Category : English featured NBA 0 Comment

NBA Africa seeks to develop Rwandan basketball

Espoir’s shooting guard Pascal Karekezi, left, attended the Basketball without Borders programme in 2011

Espoir’s shooting guard Pascal Karekezi, left, attended the Basketball without Borders programme in 2011

 NBA Africa has expressed support in developing Rwandan basketball according to the continental vice president Amadou Gallo Fall.

Speaking recently to local media, Gallo said, “We know that there is a lot of interest across the region. We were in Kigali three years ago with Luol Deng (Miami Heat) for Sprite clinics and we saw a lot of passion in the young people that we had in the camp.”

“The Rwanda Basketball Federation is very dynamic and we want to be part of that. We definitely realize the potential that is in this region and we are looking forward to starting programs and continue to take steps to grow the sport here,” he explained.

As one of the most successful countries in the East and central African region, Rwanda has represented the Zone 5 area four consecutive times at the FibaAfrobasket championships including the 2007, 2009, 2011 and 2013 editions.

NBA Africa set up an office in Johannesburg, South Africa in 2010 headed by Amadou, who had earlier worked as the vice president of international relations at the Dallas Mavericks.

His vision in Africa was and is still to grow the game at the grassroots level on the continent and has so far seen tremendous success.

Through the Basketball without Borders (BWB), a global basketball development program set up by the NBA and FIBA, NBA Africa has been able to promote the sport and encourage positive change in the areas of education, health and wellness.

PheniasBagabo represented Rwanda this year at the BWB in Johannesburg and notably national team shooting guard Pascal Karekezi attended the 2011 edition.

November 11, 2014 By : Category : English featured NBA 0 Comment

The LeBron James Factor And NBA Television Ratings

LeBron James

 How we consume sports on television can be a funny thing when it comes to measuring it. Numbers are numbers, but when Nielsen releases them, context is often missing.

Television is drastically changing. Or rather, the consumption of what was once the single domain of television is changing to streaming content to PCs, smartphones, and things like Google’s Chromecast in competition for the traditional TV.

And, each sport is a different animal. As we just saw with the 2014 World Series, if there isn’t compelling games, ratings will suffer. Major League Baseball has more weight placed on compelling play, rather than stars. For the NFL, it’s practically a wash. Sure, you want a star quarterback in the Super Bowl, but ratings will always be high for the game given its exceptional event quality.

And then there’s the NBA.

Out of the Big-4 sports in North America, the National Basketball Association is the one most keenly tied to its stars. Television ratings ebb and flow with which marquee players are in the NBA Finals, more than any other.

Which brings us to LeBron James.

King James is the league’s biggest star. He is seen, not only in games, but as a pitch man for a litany of companies. How LeBron goes drives how the NBA goes.

This is a large reason why the ratings for the last two NBA Finals were so robust. There are stars on every team, but there are very few super stars that can push the needle upward like LeBron James.

The true litmus test for this has been his return to Cleveland. In no other sport could such a radical swing in fan interest be created by just one player. Ask yourself, with possibly Peyton Manning the exception, what player could go to the Indians or Browns and be so incredibly impactful at not only the gate, but on television and in the sponsorship space?

While the 2014-15 NBA season is just now underway, we’re already seeing the LeBron effect on national television ratings.

Opening Night in the NBA on TNT saw a 48 percent drop in ratings and a 49 percent drop in viewership from last year. This year saw a 1.5 rating with an average of 2.3 million for the national broadcast compared to a 2.9 rating with 4.5 million viewers last season. Why the difference? It wasn’t because it went up against a World Series game (although that certainly was a factor). It was because the Cleveland Cavaliers and King James weren’t part of the programming.

Yet, on the second night of Opening Week of the NBA on TNT, the Cavs played the New York Knicks, and ratings were, as expected, high. That game pulled a 2.6 rating with an average of 4 million viewers, up 50 percent over the comparable telecast window last season which saw the Chicago Bulls play the Knicks for a 1.8 rating with 2,643,000 million total viewers.

Just how much of an affect did LeBron’s return to Cleveland have compared to overall regular season ratings on TNT? The telecast was up 117 percent in U.S. household rating and 111 percent among total viewers compared with TNT’s average audience for an NBA regular season game last year (1.2 U.S. HH rating; 1,870,000 total viewers).  The telecast – peaking with a 2.9 U.S. HH rating and 4.5 million total viewers from 10:30-10:45 p.m. – earned a 27.2 metered market rating in Cleveland and a 7.0 local rating in New York.

The Knicks/Cavs telecast also registered significant growth across all key demos including a 56 percent increase in People 18-49 and a 60 percent improvement among Men 18-49 over the same telecast window in 2013.  The Cavs-Knicks game on the second night of the NBA regular season was up 116 percent among People 18-49 and 122 percent in Men 18-49 over TNT’s average demos for the NBA regular season last year.

This is both good and bad, or more correctly, adds context. Flatly looking at the numbers and saying this year or that shows overall interest or decline in the NBA does not paint the picture properly. The NBA is so tightly tied to its super stars to generate interest that who is in game, outweighs the team that is competing. Ask yourself what the ratings would have been if LeBron doesn’t go back to Cleveland and it’s the same matchup.

For the NBA and its broadcast partners, no one thing drives viewership like super stars. If the Cavaliers miss the playoffs, and let’s say, it’s the Spurs again against say, the Knicks (I’m simply using that team as it’s in the league’s biggest market with Carmelo Anthony as a star), is there little doubting that ratings will be down considerably, even with New York in the mix?

Where LeBron James goes, so goes the NBA… and the television ratings.

November 4, 2014 By : Category : English featured NBA 0 Comment

Spurs coach Popovich savours fifth NBA title

The San Antonio Spurs.

The San Antonio Spurs.

Gregg Popovich thought he had seen it all in his 17 seasons as a coach in the National Basketball Association.

 That is until his San Antonio Spurs exploded in the opening half of game three of the NBA finals, shooting a finals record 76 per cent.

 “I don’t think we’ll shoot 76 per cent in a half ever again. That’s crazy,” Popovich said.

 For a coach who often rebuffs interviewers with surly one-word answers, Popovich’s impromptu answer was refreshingly out of character.

 But make no mistake, behind that gruff exterior is a coach who knows how to motivate and cares immensely about his players. The 65-year-old Popovich is a great decision maker who led the Spurs to the fifth title in franchise history Sunday as San Antonio wrapped up a five-game victory over the Miami Heat.

 The Spurs stomped the two-time defending NBA champion Heat in the 2014 finals, shooting a finals record 52.7 percent from the field overall.

 They put together two straight blowout wins in games three and four on the road before returning home to clinch the series with another lopsided 104-87 win.

 This season Popovich has been able to mould the raw talent of Kawhi Leonard into the MVP of the finals. He also took Charlotte Bobcats castoff Boris Diaw and fit him perfectly into the Spurs’ system.


 “As time evolves and you get older in the business you figure out what’s really important, and you don’t waste time trying to make people what they’re not going to be,” Popovich said.

 “You’ve just got to figure out who people are and what they can give you and take advantage of their positives.

 “You learn that you can’t make everything the way you think you might. You can’t make somebody great, so you don’t waste your time. You make a trade. You get rid of somebody.

 “You make sure you’re bringing people in who fit in all the areas you want. Competitiveness and team play.”

 Popovich likes to tell the story of when Manu Ginobili first arrived in San Antonio.

 “I’ve learned to shut up more, and that probably is due to Manu Ginobili,” he said. “When he first came I was going to make him a heck of a player.

 “And after 20 minutes I realized that he didn’t need me to do that. He was already a heck of a player.

 “Sometimes being quiet and letting the player play is much more important than trying to be Mr. Coach and teach him this or teach him that.

 “I didn’t make him a competitor and there is no way I could make him a non-competitor.”

 Popovich believes communication is the key to any good relationship between coach and player.

 “You take somebody like Danny Green, who we’ve worked with for a long time and actually cut him twice,” Popovich said. “When you see somebody develop and come into his own, you feel like you did something worthwhile.

 “So it’s one of the sources of satisfaction in the business, if you can see a young player grow and become confident.”

 This year Popovich led the Spurs to a NBA best 62-20 record, extending their streak of winning at least 50 games to a record 15-straight seasons.

 Popovich had guided the Spurs to six NBA finals appearances.


Popovich was named the NBA’s coach of the year in April. It is the third time he has earned the award, joining Pat Riley and Don Nelson as the only coaches to receive the Red Auerbach Trophy three times. He also won the award in the 2002-03 and 2011-12 seasons.

 Popovich is the longest tenured active coach in the NBA, but in 1999 there were calls for his ouster after the Spurs got off to a rocky start to the lockout-shortened season.

 San Antonio had lost five of seven including back-to-back double digit losses to Utah and Seattle.

 The Spurs eventually turned it around, going on a 15-2 run in the playoffs. They topped it off by beating the New York Knicks in five games for their first NBA title.

 Popovich says NBA owners are often too quick to pull the trigger on coaches when teams get off to poor starts or don’t live up high expectations.

 “Guys get fired every year who are good coaches and it has got nothing to do with what they know or don’t know,” Popovich said.


June 19, 2014 By : Category : English NBA Tournament 0 Comment

NBA – Pacers too good for Celtics

NBA - Pacers too good for Celtics

Indiana Pacers forward Paul George {24} drives baseline
against the Boston Celtics

Paul George scored 24 points and guard Lance Stephenson had a triple-double as the Indiana Pacers defeated the Boston Celtics 106-79 to improve the best record in the Eastern Conference.

Stephenson finished with 12 points, 10 rebounds and 10 assists, his second triple-double in two games against the Celtics this season.

Pacers forward Danny Granger, playing just his second game this season after sitting out with a strained left calf, scored 12 points and made four of five three-pointers off the bench.

Indiana (22-5) won their second game in a row after losing three of five.

The blowout followed a 114-81 victory over the Houston Rockets on Friday.

Avery Bradley scored 13 points and Jeff Green and Courtney Lee scored 11 points apiece for the Celtics (12-17), who entered the game tied for the Atlantic Division lead.

December 24, 2013 By : Category : English featured inthespotlight NBA 0 Comment

San Antonio Spurs rebound with convincing win over Orlando Magic

m_San Antonio Spurs rebound with convincing win over Orlando Magic

Tim Duncan.jpg

The San Antonio Spurs bounced back from their first NBA defeat in nearly a month with a convincing 109-91 victory over the Orlando Magic on Friday.

With San Antonio’s All-Star point guard Tony Parker resting a sore ankle, Tim Duncan and reserve shooting guard Marco Belinelli led a balanced Spurs attack with 19 points apiece.

Duncan connected on 8-of-13 shots from the floor and added a game-high nine rebounds, while Italy’s Belinelli shot 4-of-4 from three-point range.

Duncan scored 17 of his 19 points in the first half, when the reigning Western Conference champion Spurs took control of the contest with a run of 17 straight points in the second quarter.

Their comfortable cushion allowed the 37-year-old Duncan to sit out much of the second half — a useful rest with the Spurs due to host the Houston Rockets in San Antonio on Saturday.

Cory Joseph started in place of France’s Parker and contributed 13 points for a Spurs team who had suffered just their second defeat of the season on Wednesday at Oklahoma City.

That defeat by the Thunder snapped the Spurs’ 11-game winning streak.

The Magic were also without their starting point guard as Jameer Nelson was sidelined by a sprained foot.

In his absence Victor Oladipo delivered 15 points and three blocked shots, and Arron Afflalo led the Magic with 17 points.

December 1, 2013 By : Category : English featured inthespotlight NBA 0 Comment

NBA – 76ers fall to first loss of season

 NBA - 76ers fall to first loss of season

The Golden State Warriors rolled to a 110-90 victory over the previously unbeaten Philadelphia 76ers.

Shooting guard Andre Iguodala scored 32 points against his former team, and point guard Stephen Curry had a triple-double as the Golden State Warriors rolled to a victory over the previously unbeaten Philadelphia 76ers.

Iguodala, who spent his first eight seasons with the 76ers (3-1), notched 27 in the first half alone and made a career-high seven 3-pointers.

Curry had 18 points, 12 assists and 10 rebounds for the Warriors (3-1), who built a 39-point lead in the third quarter and rested their starters in the final period.

- – -

Cavaliers 93, Timberwolves 92

Shooting guard C.J. Miles had 19 points and five rebounds to help the Cavaliers hand the Minnesota Timberwolves their first loss of the season.

Free-agent acquisition Kevin Martin led all scorers with 23 points for the Timberwolves (3-1), who fought back from a 23-point deficit before Kevin Love missed a potential game-winning three-pointer as time expired.

- – -

Memphis 95, Celtics 88

Grizzlies reserve guard Jerryd Bayless scored all 15 of his points in the fourth quarter, hitting one jumper after another in rhythm and carrying Memphis to a victory over the win-less Celtics.

Boston power forward Jeff Green had a game-high 22 points and power forward Jared Sullinger scored 16 off the bench for Boston (0-4) who led by seven entering the fourth quarter but faltered.

- – -

Clippers 137, Rockets 118

Center Dwight Howard endured an unsuccessful return to Los Angeles as the Clippers had an explosive, 78-point first half and beat the Rockets while getting Howard into early foul trouble.

Shooting guard J.J. Redick led the Clippers with a game-high 26 points. Point guard Chris Paul added 23 points and 17 assists.

Howard, who left the Lakers to sign with the Rockets in the off-season, picked up three fouls in the first quarter and finished with just 13 points and nine rebounds in 26 minutes.




November 6, 2013 By : Category : English featured inthespotlight NBA Tags:
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NBA – Toronto selected as host of 2016 All-Star Game

2016_allstar_gameToronto was selected as the host of the NBA 2016 All-Star Game, marking the first time the showcase event will be held outside of the United States.


Top players representing the NBA’s Eastern and Western Conferences will tip off at the Air Canada Centre, home of the Toronto Raptors, on Feb. 14, capping a weekend that includes the popular slam dunk contest and other events.


“We are thrilled that Toronto is hosting our first NBA All-Star Game outside the United States,” NBA Deputy Commissioner Adam Silver said in a statement.


“As the site of the first game ever in the NBA, Toronto is an ideal location for this global basketball celebration.”


The Raptors, who together with the since-relocated Vancouver Grizzlies were part of the NBA’s expansion plans into Canada in 1995, are a long-struggling team that has not made the playoffs since 2008.


Landing an NBA All-Star Weekend, essentially a mix of skills competitions and exhibitions featuring the game’s biggest names, offers big business benefits to the host city.


The 2013 event was held in Houston, which estimated a direct economic impact of $60 million, and an overall economic impact of slightly below $100 million.


The 2014 All-Star Game is set for New Orleans, while the 2015 event will be co-hosted by Manhattan and Brooklyn.




October 2, 2013 By : Category : English featured inthespotlight NBA 0 Comment

Bulls’ Derrick Rose wants to play for USA Basketball at 2014 FIBA World Cup


After spending more than a year taking the cautious approach as he recovered from a serious knee injury, Bulls guard Derrick Rose is ready to jump back into the swing of things with USA Basketball.

Speaking in the Philippines, where he is on a promotional tour with Adidas, the 2011 MVP said he would like to play for his country at the 2014 FIBA World Cup in Spain.

“If they select me on the team, it will be an honor,” Rose said, according to “I definitely will be on the team if [Coach Mike Krzyzewski] wants me.”

Rose, who won a gold medal at the 2010 World Championships in Turkey, recently stated that he thinks he is “100 percent” healthy after missing the entire 2012-13 season following ACL surgery on his left knee. That injury also kept him out of the 2012 London Olympics.

USA Basketball faces a stiff challenge in 2014, traveling to the home of its chief rival in recent years. Spain won silver at both the 2008 and 2012 Olympics.

Thunder forward Kevin Durant and Timberwolves forward Kevin Love told reporters in July that they will play in 2014 after winning gold in Turkey and London.

USA Basketball chairman Jerry Colangelo hinted that Durant and Love would “probably” act as magnets to persuade other stars, like Thunder guard Russell Westbrook and Rockets guard James Harden, to compete again.

Colangelo explained to the Chicago Tribune in July that Rose “could factor very well” into USA Basketball’s plans for 2014.

“It’s really up to him,” Colangelo said. “We’re waiting for him to come back physically and emotionally and see how he does this year. But we very much consider him a candidate.”

USA Basketball has placed a high value on the continuity of its rosters under Colangelo, who assumed his post in 2005. Players are said to receive “equity” for their previous participation in international competitions and summer camps. Rose started all nine games in Turkey in 2010, averaging 7.2 points, 3.2 assists, 2.1 rebounds and 1.2 steals.

“[Rose] qualifies in a lot of ways,” Colangelo said in July, according to USA Today Sports. “He knows our system. He’s been part of USA Basketball. He’s a terrific guy. He’s a great competitor. Now we have to wait and see what he looks like. How quickly does he get back to that level, and then it’s going to be up to him as to whether he wants to be with us next summer.”

If Rose and Westbrook play in 2014, USA Basketball would be facing a roster squeeze in the backcourt, as Cavaliers guard Kyrie Irving is also considered a lock to make the roster.

That would leave a whole host of talented point guard candidates — including 2013 summer minicamp participants Mike Conley, Jrue Holiday, Ty Lawson, Damian Lillard and John Wall — to fight for whatever spots remain. It’s worth noting that Krzyzewski and Colangelo have highlighted the importance of versatility from their guards, regularly moving point guards like Westbrook off the ball. Perhaps that philosophy will help ease the logjam to a degree.

Rose tore his ACL during Game 1 of a first-round playoff series against the 76ers in April 2012.

His recovery hung over Chicago’s season last year, as he returned to practice in January but never made it back for game action. He was reportedly cleared to play in March and said he was “open” to a return as late as April, but that never materialized, not even when Chicago advanced to the conference semifinals without him.

“I think I am 100 percent,” Rose said, in a video posted to earlier this week. “I think the training, I’m doing almost everything. Squatting, running, lifting, almost every other day. Just being back on the court after you have the ACL, you’re kind of hesitant at first about how you step, what way you should step. Learning how to run, accelerate, accelerating while you run, while you’re slowing down. For me, I’m reacting right now, where I don’t have to think about anything. If I want to get to a spot, I’m going to get there, no matter what. It kind of feels good, having that feeling again.”

The No. 1 pick in the 2008 draft, Rose, 24, holds career averages of 21 points, 6.8 assists and 3.8 rebounds.

Bulls coach Tom Thibodeau joined Krzyzewski’s staff as an assistant coach this summer.

September 19, 2013 By : Category : featured inthespotlight NBA Teams 0 Comment

Trades, new contracts become official around NBA

Trades, new contracts become official around NBA

Only the Houston Rockets could get him, and on Wednesday a couple of his other suitors announced their backup plans — while one lost out on another big target.

Paul Millsap is headed to Atlanta. The Golden State Warriors acquired Andre Iguodala. But the Dallas Mavericks missed out on another center when Andrew Bynum agreed to sign with the Cleveland Cavaliers.

The Los Angeles Clippers never had to look beyond their top target, with Chris Paul committing to stay on the first day of free agency.

They also added Darren Collison, Jared Dudley and J.J. Redick to a team that won the Pacific Division last season, surpassing the Lakers as the best team in Los Angeles.

‘‘We’re loaded at every position,’’ said Matt Barnes, who re-signed with the Clippers. ‘‘Who doesn’t want to play with Chris? He’s arguably the best point guard in the game.

It just shows this organization has come a long way. They’re making the right moves.’’

It’s hard to see anything changing in Los Angeles next season after Howard passed on re-signing with the Lakers and instead opted for the Rockets in a deal that still hadn’t become official as of Wednesday night.

That was the first day transactions could be completed and contacts signed following the completion of the NBA’s moratorium period. The Rockets couldn’t wait to talk about their All-Star center, getting fined $150,000 by the league on Tuesday for premature comments about Howard on TV and in social media.

The rest of the league waited until rules allowed Wednesday. The Clippers held a press conference for Paul, the three new players and the re-signed Barnes and Ryan Hollins on what Paul called ‘‘one of the biggest days in franchise history.’’

While they were celebrating, Bynum was meeting with Dallas, another team that wanted Howard. But he went with a previous two-year offer from the Cavs, according to a person who spoke on condition of anonymity because the deal was not yet announced.

Bynum was part of the four-team trade that sent Howard from Orlando to Los Angeles last summer, but never played a game for Philadelphia because of knee problems.

Charlotte got bigger by adding Utah center Al Jefferson, while his former Jazz teammate Millsap is also bound for the Southeast Division with the Hawks.

Atlanta missed out on Howard, and forward Josh Smith left for a $54 million, four-year deal with Detroit, but the Hawks bounced back by giving Millsap a two-year, $19 million contract.

‘‘We’ve been following Paul for a year, hoping for the opportunity to have him on our team,’’ general manager Danny Ferry said. ‘‘His competitiveness, night in and night out, is unique. He’s not like most players.’’

The Jazz also got involved in the deal that landed Iguodala with the Warriors, who gave him a four-year, $48 million deal last week. Golden State cleared more than $24 million by sending Richard Jefferson, Andris Biedrins and Brandon Rush to the Jazz along with four draft picks and cash. Denver received guard Randy Foye from the Jazz.

Chris Andersen signed a $1.7 million, one-year deal to stay with the Miami Heat, who will have to hold off some stronger challengers next season in the Eastern Conference.

Indiana re-signed power forward David West and added C.J. Watson as a backup point

guard, while the Chicago Bulls improved their outside shooting by signing Mike Dunleavy.

The New York Knicks hope they did, too, with the acquisition of Andrea Bargnani.

However, the former No. 1 overall pick from Italy struggled during an injury-plagued 2012-13 season for the Toronto Raptors, who shipped him to New York for Steve Novak, Quentin Richardson, Marcus Camby and three future draft picks.

The NBA’s other big deal of the offseason, the trade sending Kevin Garnett and Paul Pierce from Boston to Brooklyn, will be completed Friday. The Nets could pay more than $70 million in taxes in the first season of the NBA’s harsher penalties for teams who exceed the limit.

July 12, 2013 By : Category : English featured NBA 0 Comment