Warriors

School days: LeBron thrilled to be teammates again with Wade

lebron-wade-ap.jpg
AP

School days: LeBron thrilled to be teammates again with Wade

The wake-up calls for Dwyane Wade were coming at 5:45 a.m. for much of the summer. An hour or so later, he and LeBron James would be in the gym together working on their games.

And the chemistry was as good as ever.

“He drives me to want to be better,” Wade said.

They’ll be grinding together on a daily basis now.

Wade signed a one-year, $2.3 million deal with the Cleveland Cavaliers on Wednesday to reunite with James, with whom he went to four NBA Finals and won two championships in Miami. Wade’s deal was finalized quickly after he cleared waivers, which he had to do after getting a buyout from the Chicago Bulls over the weekend.

“I’m all about the challenge,” Wade told The Associated Press. “If I didn’t want the challenge, I would have stayed in Chicago. But I wanted the challenge of being back on that big stage and playing in those moments and seeing what I’ve got. So I’m not going to talk about what I’ve got. I want to go out there and show, when the lights are the brightest and the games are the biggest, that’s when I’m alive. And I need that.”

He took a hard look at going back to Miami, listened to sales pitches from Paul George and Carmelo Anthony in Oklahoma City, even considered San Antonio and got a call from Golden State.

But in the end, he wanted to play again with James — someone Wade calls his brother.

“I definitely think I can help him in different ways,” Wade told the AP via phone as he sat in his new locker room. “He is, in today’s game, the greatest basketball player that we have. So he doesn’t need me to help him be great. But there’s other areas that I’ve been able to be there, to help him think about things a certain way. He knows I’m going to put the work in with him. He knows I’m going to be right there.”

Earlier Wednesday, James said he feels like a little kid having Wade with him again.

“Come on, man, this is like one of my best friends,” James said after the first of Cleveland’s two practices on the day — the second one set to be Wade’s first with the Cavs. “It’s kind of like when you start school and you walk into the classroom and you’re not quite sure who your classmates are and when you walk in there and one of your best friends is in there, you’re like: ‘Oh, yeah, this is going to be fun. It’s going to be a good class.’”

A good team, too.

Wade and James spent four seasons together with the Heat, winning two championships and making the Finals four times as a duo as devastating as any in league history. They’ll now join forces on a Cleveland team that saw Kyrie Irving traded to Boston and the roster get remodeled by adding Isaiah Thomas, Jae Crowder, former league MVP Derrick Rose and free agents Jeff Green and Jose Calderon.

Wade has talked to coach Tyronn Lue about his role and seems assured that he’ll be in the mix for a starting job.

“You want to earn your spot, but I definitely wanted to make sure it wasn’t something that was off the table,” Wade said. “I don’t want ever to be given anything in this league. I want to feel like I earned it. That’s kind of how you want it coming to a new team. ... This is a deep team. That really excited me about the potential of this team and what you need to compete with a Golden State. You need a deep team to compete with them.”

Wade has said many times that a fourth ring isn’t a make-or-break goal for him. His legacy is secure. He’s a certain Hall of Famer. He’s one of the best to ever play the game.

That doesn’t mean another title is irrelevant, though. And he gave back about $8 million in the buyout with the Bulls to get this chance, after taking smaller-than-he-could-have-gotten deals in Miami multiple times to help the Heat and their championship quests.

“I want to compete for it,” Wade said. “I’ve always said if I don’t win another one, it’s not going change the course of my career and what I’ve been able to accomplish. But as everyone knows, as has been very highly documented, some of it documented the wrong way, I’ve probably given back the most money of any player in NBA history. And it’s always been to be in position to compete for a championship.”

The Cavaliers have been to the last three NBA Finals; add the Miami years in there, and James has been to the title round in seven consecutive seasons.

Wade hasn’t played a June game since 2014.

He’s hoping that changes in 2018.

“When you play this sport, getting to those moments, getting to the Eastern Conference finals, the Finals, that’s when you feel alive,” Wade said. “And I haven’t felt that in a couple years. And I wanted to make sure I put myself in that position. If I don’t win one, my career path is not going to change, but damn it sure will feel great.”

Draymond defends Bell's garbage time alley-oop off backboard to himself

Draymond defends Bell's garbage time alley-oop off backboard to himself

With just under three minutes to go and the Warriors leading by 25 points, Steve Kerr put the end of the bench into the game.

Somehow, with the game in control, rookie Jordan Bell found a way to produce the highlight of the night.

After Bell got a piece of Dwight Powell's shot, JaVale McGee batted the ball ahead. With no one in front of him, the rookie tossed the ball off the backboard and threw down a dunk. The sequence left his Warriors teammates flabergasted. But Bell may have broken an unwritten rule about showboating in a blowout game.

After the game, Draymond Green was not having it with possible criticism of Bell.

"Listen man, when you get on the basketball floor, I don't care if you get out there with two minutes to go up 25 or with two minutes to go down 25, somebody is evaluating you. So you gotta play the game just like it's tied up or if you're up four or if you're down four. You gotta play the game the same way. Somebody is evaluating you. So if you want to throw it off the backboard, feel free and dunk the ball. He got an And One. It was a great play. So, I got no message for him. Do what you do. Play basketball. That's what he did. I don't get all up into the whole 'Ah man, they're winning by this much, that's bad.' Says who? Dunk the ball. What's the difference between if he threw it off the backboard and dunked it as opposed to grabbing it and dunking it? It's a dunk," Green told reporters in Dallas after the Warriors' 133-130 win.

Green was then asked what he thought of the play, regardless of game situation.

"Great play. Great play. Amazing. Did you see it? It was dope. He got an And One too. He missed the free throw though. We gotta talk about that. That's my message for him. Make the free throw," Green said.

Kerr reportedly apologized to Mavericks head coach Rick Carlisle after the game. Green commented on that.

"Steve's the coach. I'm not. That's not my problem," Green said.

Draymond wasn't the only member of the Green family defending Bell. His mom, Mary Babers-Green was on Twitter defending the rookie.

https://twitter.com/BabersGreen/status/922660243921874945

Why Steph Curry can never, ever chuck his mouthpiece again

Why Steph Curry can never, ever chuck his mouthpiece again

Stephen Curry knows he asked for this one. Begged for it. Wanted it so bad he not only ripped his mouthpiece out of his face but also wound up and fired it in the direction of a game official.

He has to be, and likely is, pleased that the NBA wanted nothing more than a $50,000 bite out of his newly fortified paycheck.

“It was a dumb thing to do. Stupid,” he said after shootaround Monday morning. “Learn from it and try to move on and be better.”

It was not nearly enough for the league that Curry apologized immediately after the mouthpiece-tossing incident that got him tossed in the fourth quarter of the Warriors’ 111-101 loss to the Grizzlies on Saturday. Apologies don’t carry much weight in these matters and they are entirely weightless when it’s a second offense.

And that’s what this was, as you may recall Curry flinging his mouthpiece late in Game 6 of the 2016 NBA Finals at Quicken Loans Arena in Cleveland. He was tossed from that game, too.

Of more importance, and what Curry has to take away from this is that he can’t afford another offense. Ever. Though he surely can afford it monetarily, it would rob the Warriors of their offensive catalyst.

Throwing a mouthpiece once is a forgivable mistake. Doing it twice is a relapse that some may forgive while others definitely will not. Doing it three or more times falls into the selfish category, even if selfishness is not a characteristic fairly applied to the two-time MVP.

It’s conceivable that no one in the NBA gets pushed and grabbed and knocked around as much, without a whistle, as does Curry. Part of this is on him, for not being better at selling calls. Part of it is on officials who typically use a different standard for him than those usually set for MVP-caliber players.

Through it all, and it has gone on for years, Curry rarely says a peep. He plays on, simmering, but staying on task.

“I think people on the outside automatically think that these guys can control everything and be robots and score 35 and be perfectly composed,” Warriors coach Steve Kerr said Monday morning. “But they’re all human beings, just like the rest of us. There’s going to be times where you lose your mind. There’s going to be times where you get angry and times where you’re in perfect mental and you’re playing at a high level and everything is under control.

But nobody can keep that level 100 percent of the time.”

Curry’s actions Saturday in Memphis were only partly the result of the officiating. The Warriors were losing, again. Curry was committing silly fouls, again. It was a buildup of unfavorable events and he lost it.

“We were playing terrible,” Curry said Monday morning. “I was frustrated because I was fouling. I thought I got fouled on the last play. The reaction was definitely a little over the top.

“Stuff happens. I’m going to try to continue to be myself and show some fire, but do it in a way that doesn’t take away from the team and misrepresent who I am.”

Curry said Monday that he didn’t bother to review his actions because he knew how unbecoming they were. He also expressed regret about lashing out. There was no need to brace for the fine he knew was coming.

Next time, though it won’t be a fine that will take a fraction of his check. Next time, it’ll be a suspension that will take away a piece of the Warriors.