Ex-Rockets guard Vernon Maxwell mocks Jazz fans after inappropriate joke

Vernon Maxwell apologized (kind of) Thursday night to Jazz fans a few days after sending a controversial joke.

The former guard, who last played in 2001, sent a tweet on International Women’s Day about the Jazz since they were playing Houston. Although Maxwell played for many teams in his career, he had his most success with the Rockets (winning two NBA titles) and identifies with them.

The intent of the joke isn’t entirely clear. Some read it as him saying the Jazz are like women while others viewed it as a Mormon joke because the religion is popular in Utah. In any case, the joke didn’t make people in Utah happy, and Maxwell heard from them in bunches.

The All-Star Game is often viewed as the dividing point of the NBA season. Not in terms of games played, but as a shift in approach heading into the final stretch of the regular season. Teams like the Cavaliers and Warriors, for example, can start to prepare themselves for the playoffs knowing they have one of the top seeds in their conferences locked up. The Suns and Lakers, meanwhile, can turn their attention to the NBA Draft knowing they have nothing to gain from making a late-season run.
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Elite Youth Carlos Henderson Jersey That’s a simplistic way of looking at it, of course, because there’s a lot of moving pieces between those boundaries. The worst team in the NBA this season doesn’t even own the pick that could turn into Markelle Fultz or Lonzo Ball. Some teams are still question marks at this point because of new additions before the trade deadline, and others don’t have fully healthy rosters.

Although each team has something to watch for in the next two months, let’s take a look at seven questions in particular that should be on everyone’s radar, from Serge Ibaka’s impact on the Raptors to whether the Clippers can make the run they’ve always seemed destined for.

LeBron James sings ‘Happy Birthday’ to Kyrie Irving

Kyrie Irving is special.

The Cavaliers point guard is a former No. 1 overall draft pick, NBA Rookie of the Year, four-time all-star, champion, Olympic gold medalist and owner of the sickest handle on the face on this sphere we call Earth (though he gladly argue it’s flat.)

Irving has received acclaim and accolades the world over and is just entering his prime.

Despite his status, he still gets all giddy when friends and family make him feel special just like the rest of us. Watch him grin from ear to ear when teammate LeBron James sings “Happy Birthday” to him on his 25th Thursday.

The offseason extension in five months is out of play for Cousins in this scenario. Fiscally, it makes little sense for Cousins to sign it due to rules for non-designated player extensions. The most Cousins could sign for in the first year is 120 percent of approximately $18 million (his 2017-18 salary), which is about $21.6 million as a starting salary. That’s considerably lower than he could get if he waits it out, when the Pelicans can offer him a five-year, nearly $180 million deal.

However, it’s also considerably more than the four-year, approximately $130 million deal any other team could offer him in free agency in 2018. The key here will be whether Demps and the team itself proves it can contend. If the team contends, Cousins is heavily incentivized to stay.

The Pelicans must convince Holiday to stick around. Holiday is an unrestricted free agent this summer who figures to have max-level offers from quite a few suitors who could use a point guard that not only defends, but also is capable of playing both on and off ball. He’s a perfect fit for this group, and the Pelicans will likely do what it takes to convince him to stay. Still, it’s never done until it’s done, and it would behoove this group to start winning quickly.

the Clippers went out and got the best pure talent left on the market that was reasonably available to them in Gallinari.

This is a difficult contract to evaluate. On one hand, the Clippers went out and got the best pure talent left on the market that was reasonably available to them in Gallinari. It’s gone somewhat unnoticed while he’s played in Denver, but the Italian has become one of the more efficient high-level scorers in the NBA.

Limited Mens Vladimir Tarasenko Jersey He put up 18.2 points per game this season while also posting a true-shooting percentage over seven points higher than league average. He’s a decent secondary rebounder, and also passes at a high level.

Gallinari, at 28, has become exactly what was hoped for when he was selected by the Knicks sixth overall in the 2008 NBA Draft. He’s a monster offensive player. And the Clippers, with Blake Griffin and DeAndre Jordan in the frontcourt, could really use the floor-spacing he could provide. But I’m not sold on this being the best fit.

Question: Is the baseball juiced?
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Answer: Going right at it, huh? … There’s multiple sides to that. Obviously, we have some guys that believe that’s the main thing. Reports have come out, blah blah blah. We read them. As pitchers, we always try to (think) there’s always a reason the ball gets out of the yard. There’s always a reason. But they say the balls are a little smaller or juiced or tighter wound or whatever it may be. I feel like, as pitchers, the average velocity is going up as well. In my own opinion, I think it works both ways. It helps the hitters if the ball is juiced. I don’t pay any attention to that. I just try to get ground balls and low pitch counts. That’s what I’m trying to do. The way the game’s going is more home runs and more strikeouts, so it’s benefiting both parties.

that’s kind of how it went for Portland.

I know! What day is it? April 13? Damn, I woke up right after the last day of the NBA regular season!

That’s kind of a weird first thing to be worried about after being unconscious for six months. Don’t you want to know how your family is doing?

No, tell me about the season. What happened? Was it any good?

Hold on. OK, just sent a text to your mom explaining you’re fine because that’s something I should be responsible for. But yeah, basketball was awesome.

What happened: Here’s what Trail Blazers coach Terry Stotts said during an interview with TNT’s Lewis Johnson in between the first and second quarter: “We’re not scoring the ball very well. We’re turning the ball over. We’re not getting back in transition. We’re not protecting the rim. So, there’s a lot going on.”

Yeah, if you didn’t see this one, that’s kind of how it went for Portland.

Turning point: Any hopes the Trail Blazers had of a comeback were quickly extinguished when the Warriors’ lead ballooned to 19 after an 11-2 surge to start the third quarter. Portland was outscored 28-12 in the third overall. Maybe a certain TNT analyst needs to re-evaluate his opinion on Golden State’s defense.

X-factor: JaVale McGee? No, really. JaVale McGee! The big man came off the bench to score 13 points on 6-for-6 shooting in the first half and ended up with 15 points, 5 rebounds and 4 blocks in only 13 minutes of play for the game. He threw down just about every lob thrown his way (see below) and brought a palpable energy to the floor each time he checked in.

We don’t consider them tough calls or easy calls

Valenti’s hire is another big step for women in the NFL. Sarah Thomas was hired as the first full-time referee in 2015. She told SB Nation in February that it doesn’t get exhausting discussing her hiring:

Because you sit back, and you think, it was 2015 and there was still a gender barrier that needed to be broken in a major organization.

Authentic Womens Robert Alford Jersey For anybody that might think Thomas, or any other referee, struggles with certain calls in tough situations, she shot down that idea.

We don’t consider them tough calls or easy calls; there’s just the rules, she said. We’re trained, and we see what we see and we call what we call.

Authentic Womens Prince Amukamara Jersey Roger Goodell said at the end of the 2010 season that the NFL was looking to add female officials and had two in mind. One of those was Valenti. We actually have two officials that are females that are I think right on the edge of becoming NFL officials, he said, via Stanford Alumni.

I think that it could happen very soon, he added. And I think it’s a good thing for our sport.

Sure enough, it finally happened with Thomas two seasons ago. With Valenti’s role expanding the representation of women in the NFL, hopefully it will continue to open doors.

Anthony has the potential to thrive in that sort of complementary role as well. He isn’t capable of carrying an offense all by himself anymore — not one that can compete with the Warriors and Cavaliers, at least — but he’s elite at two incredibly important things in today’s NBA, the first being the ability to space the floor. Anthony scored 4.3 points per game from spot-ups last season and ranked in the 93.8 percentile with 1.23 points per possession. His volume and efficiency in those situations was comparable to some of the best shooters in the league such as Ryan Anderson (1.16 PPP), Klay Thompson (1.17 PPP), Khris Middleton (1.18 PPP) and Isaiah Thomas (1.22 PPP).

NBA playoffs 2017: Warriors coach Steve Kerr goes off script to speak on Easter, Isaiah Thomas

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Warriors coach Steve Kerr continues to feed our ears with so much more than basketball X’s and O’s.

Kerr, who has spoken out on Donald Trump, alternative facts and political policies in the past, went off script once again during his pregame press conference Sunday to give his sympathy to Celtics guard Isaiah Thomas, whose sister died in a car accident Saturday.

Before we start, I want to wish Isaiah Thomas and his family well, Kerr said to start his presser. Everybody in our organization is just devastated to hear the news. Can’t imagine what he and his family are going through. I want to wish them the best and we are thinking of them.

Harden told TNT after the game he wasn’t surprised Beverley stepped up big.

(Beverley) has been doing this since I’ve been here, Harden said.
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The Thunder also could not contain the Rockets’ inside game. Houston out-rebounded OKC 56-41 and outscored them in the paint, 62-38.

As for Westbrook, he’ll look to put this tough game behind him. He scored 22 points, but hit only 6 of 23 shots. He added 11 rebounds and seven assists.

Draymond Green fell just one assist short of a triple-double in the Warriors’ 121-109 win over the Trail Blazers, but what he accomplished on the court Sunday was far rarer. According to the NBA, Green is the first player in the playoffs to post at least 19 points, 12 rebounds, nine assists, five blocks and three assists since the 1973-74 season.

Trail Blazers backcourt mates C.J. McCollum (41 points) and Damian Lillard (34) combined for 75 points in Portland’s loss.

Top-seeded Celtics provide final East challenge for LeBron James’ Cavs

April 5. Heading into this series, that is going to be at the forefront of everyone’s mind, and with good reason. For the past month-plus, the Cavs had been struggling and their meeting with the Celtics in Boston, with the top seed in the Eastern Conference on the line, was supposed to be a barometer of their vulnerability en route to the NBA Finals.

Game Womens Kurt Coleman Jersey All the Cavs did was deliver a 23-point beatdown, a game whose final score was not indicative of just how much a blowout the game was. LeBron James, always a terror when playing in Boston, was especially impressive: 36 points on 14-for-22 shooting, 10 rebounds and six assists. He abused the Celtics on the interior — he made none of his six perimeter shots, but repeatedly overpowered Boston defenders on his way to the basket.

Despite some off-the-court issues, Jackson is the most talented player in this draft. At 6-8, he can run the point, hit open shots from beyond the arc, slash to the basket, dish out assists and rebound. He is the most complete player in the entire draft class. The Celtics should take Jackson if they are comfortable with his character.

Trading the pick is an option as well. The Celtics have been chasing after the likes of Kevin Love, Paul George and Jimmy Butler for a couple seasons now, and they have the ammo to make a move.

Unfortunately for Boston, all three of those teams are in the same conference. Cleveland certainly won’t trade one of its best players to its most dangerous competitor, and the Bulls and Pacers seem determined to keep Butler and George.

Still, something could open up for Boston. Whether it’s Portland’s Damian Lillard, New Orleans’ DeMarcus Cousins, or (cough, cough) Russell Westbrook, the Celtics should remain open to bringing in another star.
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This could be another enthralling offseason for Celtics fans. But they first have to take care of the Cavaliers.

Justin Smoak cracks MLB’s 1,070th home run in June, breaks baseball record

It’s not Smoak and mirrors.

As a matter of fact, Justin Smoak is on his way to an All-Star berth, and he made sure everyone knew it with his 22nd dinger of the year. Not only did he extend his career-best homer tally, but the mash broke MLB’s single-month home run record.

The 30-year-old Blue Jays first baseman is having his best year as a big-leaguer, hitting .299 with 22 home runs and a .960 OPS, tallying in his early at-bats on Friday. Smoak, originally a Ranger, has played with the Mariners and now the Jays in his career.

Still, conspiracy theories remain: Is MLB winding the baseballs tighter? Or is there something less nefarious at work here? Such as launch angles, exit velo, and all the other sexy Statcast stuff MLB is starting to push now.

So maybe Carmelo Anthony is ready to team up with one of his Banana Boat buds. That was the word early Monday from ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski, who reported that sources told him Anthony is now willing to waive his no-trade clause for a move to the Cavaliers (where he’d finally get to play with King James) or the Rockets (where he’d get to play with Chris Paul but also for Mike D’Antoni).

Woj reported the Knicks probably wouldn’t be able to get much in return for Anthony, who’s, um, steering this boat. New York doesn’t want to take back power forward Ryan Anderson in a trade, Woj added.

Just last week, Anthony’s estranged wife, La La, said Anthony didn’t want to leave the Knicks because he wanted to be close to his son. What has changed, other than Phil Jackson being forced out of the Garden? Like most of this Melo drama, that’s not clear.

The Raptors are in trade discussions with the Pacers that involve sending guard Cory Joseph to Indiana, according to ESPN. Joseph, 25, averaged 9.3 points per game last season.

We’re doing so many things to help speed up the game

Authentic Steve Bartkowski Jersey The only thing you need to say about him is that he’s a champion and he knows what it takes to win, McCants said of Mahorn, who won an NBA championship in 1989 while playing for the Pistons, and was part of two WNBA championship teams as an assistant coach with the Detroit Shock.

USA Today caught up with West on the eve of his 5,000th game and picked his brain about all things baseball. Here are a few of his best takes:

On pace of play: We’re doing so many things to help speed up the game, but I can’t do anything about that commercial time. But as much as we want to complain, it sure pays a lot of bills.

The worst rule in baseball: The DH. It’s horrible. It was supposed to be an experiment to help increase attendance in the American League, and now it’s ruining the game.
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A pitch clock in 2018? I don’t like it. I don’t think you can take away a pitcher’s ability to get himself ready at his own pace. Instead of a pitch clock, let’s get rid of all of the walk-up music. Players wait like it’s a Broadway play before they come out to the plate.

Greatest hitters: Barry Bonds was the best left-handed hitter I ever saw, and Albert Pujols was probably the best right-handed hitter.

Biggest complainer: It’s got to be Adrian Beltre. Every pitch you call that’s a strike, he says, ‘Whoa! Whoa! Whoa!’ I had a game with him recently and the pitch was right down the middle. He tells me, ‘That ball is outside.’

I told him, ‘You may be a great ballplayer, but you’re the worst umpire in the league. You stink.’

Luke Walton downplays LaVar Ball’s claim about Lonzo Ball leading Lakers to playoffs

Lonzo Ball is finally a member of the Lakers, which means his father, LaVar, will continue to be his son’s biggest cheerleader. Sporting a purple and gold Big Baller Brand hat on draft night, LaVar Ball told ESPN’s Jeff Goodman on the telecast that his son will carry L.A. to the NBA Playoffs next season.

Considering the Lakers have held the No. 2 pick in the draft for three years straight, and finished with the third-worst record in the league a season ago, this is a pretty bold and ridiculous claim. But that can be said about pretty much anything that comes out of LaVar Ball’s mouth. And that’s why Lakers coach Luke Walton had no problem downplaying LaVar’s comments after Thursday’s NBA Draft.

While Torres is expected to be ready for spring training, Girardi says the way in which he was injured shows the unintended consequences of baseball’s anti-collision rule.

It just seems like players are forgetting how to slide today, Girardi told reporters Tuesday (via ESPN). I think slides have become a lot more creative at home plate because catchers don’t block the plate, and now I’m starting to rethink the rule, thinking the baserunners are the ones really at risk here because you see more guys slide in headfirst than ever before.

They see a corner of the bag. They think can manipulate their body to score the run. And every time I see a guy slide headfirst, I cringe, just because you worry about the hands, you worry about the shoulders.

Limited Preston Brown Jersey Ironically, Torres’ injury sliding headfirst came the same day the Cincinnati Reds unveiled a Great American Ball Park statue depicting Pete Rose in his iconic headfirst slide. Girardi is clearly not a fan of that type of slide, and the Yankees aren’t the only team dealing with a slide-related injury; reigning AL MVP Mike Trout is on the DL after tearing a thumb ligament sliding headfirst in a game May 28.
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The only thing that would work is if baseball came out and said headfirst was illegal, Girardi said, because you’re asking someone to take the competitiveness out of them that helped them to get to that point, and that’s not going to happen.