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David Blatt's lesson learned: In NBA, better get along with star player

David Blatt's lesson learned: In NBA, better get along with star player

Before digging deeper into this analysis David Blatt's words, understand this is what is not being said: John Wall did not get Randy Wittman fired as coach of the Wizards.

Blatt, however, drove home a point about Europe and the NBA that if a coach doesn’t adhere to differences he won’t have a chance at longevity here. In an interview with USA TODAY:

The role of the coach is much larger as far as impact and persona. It’s much more of a coaches’ show. In the NBA, it’s a players’ show.

You better be on the same page as your best player. If not, you’re going to be in trouble.


Blatt was dumped by the Cleveland Cavaliers in his second season with the best record in the East (30-11), a year after leading them to the NBA Finals and pushing the Golden State Warriors to six games with a depleted roster. Wittman was fired after a 41-41 season that landed the Wizards outside of the playoffs for the first time in three years. He only had a partially guaranteed year for 2016-17 ($500,000 buyout).

As reported here, Wittman erred in aligning himself with the wrong people in his locker room. He might've felt justified in doing so but Wittman isn't going to play the political game Blatt is referencing. He'd rather be sent packing than being branded an appeaser. But key players grew agitated that he gave what they perceived as a free pass to other teammates, namely Nene, but overdid it with criticism of others -- namely Wall, Bradley Beal and Marcin Gortat. Even rookie Kelly Oubre, CSNmidatlantic.com was later told, was among those routinely chewed out. This is when some of those players go above the head of the coach to complain to management, something that likely happened to Blatt with LeBron James in Cleveland.

The problem was Nene was on an expiring deal and now a role player. He no longer was the centerpiece the Wizards used to right the ship after years of dysfunction starting with his 2012 arrival. Wall was Wittman's only All-Star, the best player and locked up contractually through 2019. Beal is a restricted free agent who the Wizards desperately need to stay. Gortat is under contract for three more seasons, too. Oubre was in the first year of a rookie deal. They all have security. 

This isn't to suggest that with better player relations that everything would've been fixed. But maybe if those relationships were better, the 15-man roster would've played harder for him (various players admitted on and off record that they did not) and that would've resulted in more wins and a playoff berth.

Still, the guess here is that Wittman would've been fired with anything short of an NBA championship. His run was up. 


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Bradley Beal makes most of his opportunity in first All-Star Game

Associated Press

Bradley Beal makes most of his opportunity in first All-Star Game

Bradley Beal may have had a slow start in the three-point contest on Saturday night, but in Sunday's All-Star Game he worked quickly to make the most of his relatively small window of playing time.

Beal checked in for the first time with 5:45 left in the first quarter and less than 25 seconds later had his first points on a two-handed dunk assisted by LeBron James.

In his All-Star debut, Beal helped lead Team LeBron to a 148-145 victory over Team Stephen as the league utilizied a new format for the annual showcase.


Beal finished with 14 points and a steal in a productive night. He shot 5-for-10 from the field and an impressive 4-for-8 from long range. 

Beal also tried to get a travelling call from the refs on Karl-Anthony Towns. Yeah, that's not likely to happen in an All-Star Game:

Beal more than held his own and only played 16 minutes, which was good considering he has logged the fifth-most minutes of any player so far this season. A realistic best-case scenario was a strong showing and a short night and that's exactly what he got.

Not only does Beal play a lot of minutes, the Wizards need him now more than ever with John Wall's injury. He needs whatever rest he can get during this All-Star break.

Speaking of Wall, he was in the house despite being in the middle of his rehab from left knee surgery. Per usual, Wall was shining bright:


The All-Star Game wasn't all about Beal, of course. Here are some other things that stood out...

*The new format and increased financial incentive were intended to make the game more competitive and that's what happened late in the fourth quarter. Usually, that's how these things go where the players will start trying at the end. But this time it seemed to be up a few levels and it was fun to watch. 

Both teams scored in the 140s, so it wasn't exactly a defensive battle. No matter what the league does, the players will only try so hard for so long. The main goal of everyone's is to not get injured in a game that ultimately doesn't count for anything. Still, this was different and appears to have been a success.

*While everyone was focusing on the reunion of LeBron and Kyrie Irving the best beef was Joel Embiid vs. Russell Westbrook. Those two have traded waves to taunt each other at the end of wins in head-to-head matchups and it was clear on Sunday they still don't like each other. Westbrook tried to dunk all over Embiid in the first half, only to get blocked at the rim.

Westbrook's determination to dunk on Embiid was out of the ordinary for an All-Star Game. It was obvious what was on his mind:

*Irving's handles are simply ridiculous. Check out this fake behind-the-back move he pulled with Giannis Antetkounmpo guarding him. Yes, it didn't fool the defender but it was impressive nonetheless:

*LeBron is 33 years old, yet he was still running up and down the court faster than anyone and leaping above the rim to thrown down alley-oop after alley-oop. It is truly amazing and everyone should enjoy watching him while they can, regardless of whether they like the guy or not.

This was one of his dunks:

LeBron took home MVP with a game-high 29 points, 10 rebounds, eight assists and a steal.

*The pregame show was quite bad. It was anchored by comedians Kevin Hart and Rob Riggle and, though they had some funny jokes, it lasted nearly 30 minutes. The whole thing was pretty much universally panned on social media. Fergie's national anthem was also roasted by the masses.

*The halftime show was much better. It began with N.E.R.D taking it back to their older days with 'Lapdance,' went to Migos performing 'Stir Fry' and swung back to N.E.R.D. who did their latest hit 'Lemon.' 


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The NBA All-Star pregame introductions were, uh, something

The NBA All-Star pregame introductions were, uh, something

Whoever put together the NBA All-Star Game player introductions has some 'splainin to do. 

The NBA introduced a kinda-full Staples Center to their 2018 All-Stars about an hour ago, and boy was it weird. There were a lot of dancers in different themed costumes. Kevin Hart was screaming. Rob Riggle was screaming. Ludacris showed up? Hey! Did you know that the Barenaked Ladies are still a band? The NBA would like you to know they're still around.  The whole thing was like when you're at an art museum and you're told that abstract piece in the corner is actually really meaningful but you gotta be honest, you don't get it. 

Anyways, the internet hated it. Here are some highlights from the internet hating it:

The lesson here is that you never need Kevin Hart and Rob Riggle. One will do.