Recapping the drama around the NBA this season
Recapping the drama around the NBA this season
By Jimmy Toscano
Every sport has its share of drama, but you can always count on the NBA and its superstars to provide the most entertaining kind over the course of the season.
So with this season’s last major scandal involving NBA players behind us - we hope - we recapped the drama around the league.
D'Angelo Russell narks on Swaggy P
This whole gallery was born because of D’Angelo Russell’s expertise in the field of espionage. When it comes to drama, a player getting his coach fired or teammates not getting along for whatever reason is fairly common stuff. But secretly video taping your teammate, who is ENGAGED, discussing past hookups and then having that video released (I don’t care if Russell was just a pawn in Nicki Minaj’s ruthless game) is truly next level stuff.
You don’t have to be an NBA player to see all that is wrong with the situation. On one hand, Nick Young’s unfaithfulness is troubling. But on the other, it’s not Russell’s or anybody else’s concern. The fact his own teammate - his own teammate! - secretly recorded him is truly unheard of. It just doesn’t happen between teammates - guys so close they’re supposed to be considered brothers. Russell may not have wanted it to get out, but he put himself in that position. Head Coach Byron Scott said back in February that Russell sometimes acts like a 14-year-old (LINK). He wasn’t lying. Russell might have all the talent in the world, but if he has the maturity of a middle schooler (LINK), it’s not going to matter.
He’s severed a lot of ties with this one, as it makes NBA players - not just Young and Russell - look bad. Players talk to one another, and you can bet everybody is saying the same thing about Russell right now: why would I want to be around that kid? His teammates will change (after all, the Lakers stink), but new guys coming in will do so already skeptical. He’s got a lot of repair work to do. Plenty of talent has been wasted in the NBA, and Russell isn’t the exception.
Blake Griffin punches out of action
Prior to D’Angelo Russell blowing up Swaggy P’s spot, Blake Griffin blew up on his “friend” and Clippers equipment staffer, punching the staffer in the face and breaking his own hand in the process. Classic.
Now, we may never know the full story on this one. It’s a little wishy-washy. Allegedly, it was teasing gone wrong (LINK). Two friends with at least some level of education go from teasing to exchanging punches? I don’t know that equipment staffer, but he must be a real ball buster. Either that or Griffin is a bigger baby than we all thought (I call it the Chris Paul Effect). Just how close can they really be? Why all those rumors about trading Griffin because of this? Why not relieve the staffer of his duties instead?
This was a pretty unfortunate event for Griffin. If he didn’t break his hand, we never hear about this. But knocking yourself out of action for an extra 4-6 weeks (he was already rehabbing from a partially torn quad) plus a four-game suspension is about as selfish as it gets. Good news though: he’ll return in time for the Clippers’ second-round playoff exit.
Derek Fisher gets what's coming to him
As somebody who has watched Basketball Wives multiple times and not by accident, I have to admit this has been one of the more entertaining dramatic storylines of the season, mostly because you get the sense that Derek Fisher is a bit of a schemy dude and Matt Barnes DGAF (look that up) about nothing. You just don’t cross Barnes. If you do, he’s gonna find you and beat you up (LINK). Pretty simple.
So Fish messes around with Barnes’ estranged wife Gloria Govan, gets beat up, does an awful job coaching the Knicks, gets fired (followed by this Instagram post by Barnes later that day (LINK), then hops a flight and goes on vacation with Govan! (LINK)
That takes some guts. The things we do for love, folks!
Anyway, this is still an ongoing situation. You can bet that the Fisher/Barnes drama isn’t over yet. And we got a nice reminder of that on Thursday when Barnes posted this on Instagram (LINK). It might be smart if Fisher just stays on whatever island he's on. Then again, Barnes will eventually find him and Fisher will really be trapped this time.
LeBron James being LeBron James
LeBron Jaaames (LINK), LeBron Jdraaaaames, LeBron Dramaaaes. LeBron Drama. See that transformation?
As good as James is, he can’t seem to get through a season - or offseason - without some drama following him. Sure, that comes when you’re an athlete under the biggest microscope. But he also brings a lot of that on himself.
Everybody with a brain knows James got David Blatt fired. The Cavs were the top team in the East. Sure, they had their issues, but the bottom line is James didn’t like Blatt’s coaching and since he has the organization by the you-know-what he made the final call and had assistant coach and buddy Tyronn Lue hired. The best part is the report that he had nothing to do with it. OK. Yeah. And Danny Ocean had nothing to do with those casino heists.
But it doesn’t end with getting his coach fired. Nope. LeBron has been sending cryptic signals all season that seem to point towards his dissatisfaction with the Cavaliers. His Twitter account has been in the news more than all the teams in the East’s Atlantic Division combined. How about this string of subtweets where he says “It's ok to know you've made a mistake. Cause we all do at times. Just be ready to live with whatever that comes with it and be with those who will protect you at all cost!” Or… “Can't replace being around great friends that reciprocate the same energy back to you in all facets of life.”
And that came right after a picture of him surfaced working out with Dwyane Wade in Miami.
And now, LeBron has UNFOLLOWED the Cavs on Twitter. Middle school girls around the world can relate.
Hey Cavs fans, nothing to see here!
It’s going to be the biggest non-shocker shock in sports history when he dumps the Cavs again this offseason.
You do NOT want to mess with Steven A. Smith!
Perhaps the most comical and WWE-like moment of the NBA season was the beef between Kevin Durant and ESPN’s Steven A. Smith, who is now a walking, talking caricature of himself.
Smith said that if Durant doesn’t stay in OKC, he’s hearing that a prime spot for Durant is the Lakers. That had Durant strongly disagreeing with what Smith said. Durant responded with: “I don’t talk to Stephen A Smith at all. Nobody in my family, my friends, they don’t talk to Stephen A Smith. So he’s lying.”
That did NOT sit well with Screamin' Steven, who defended his statements and he went off on Durant in his First Take show on ESPN, ending with this: “You do not want to make an enemy out of me. And I’m looking right into the camera. And I’ma say it again. You do not want to make an enemy out of me. I’m not having it,. I’ve done nothing wrong and I’m not going to tolerate it.” (LINK)
Whoa! The only thing left between these two is a ladder match.
But I will say this. Durant absolutely cannot go to the Lakers now. Steven A. has eliminated that option because I don’t care how much Durant may have wanted to go, after this he just can’t let Steven A. be right. Steven A. screwed the Lakers out of Durant.
More nonsense from Dwight Howard
Oh, Dwight. Dwight, Dwight, Dwight.
I’m not even mad at you, Dwight. Just confused.
For a quick refresher: Howard and the Rockets were reprimanded for using Stickum on his hands during an NBA game against the Hawks. Howard came into the game during Paul Millsap’s free throws and held the ball. Upon it being passed back to Millsap, he looked at the ball sideways and passed it back.
I figured Howard could be busted for HGH (the dude is a monster) someday, but I never expected this. That’s probably because it’s unheard of in the NBA. This isn’t Jerry Rice we’re talking about.
And to be honest, I still have no idea how it could help an NBA player. Like, is it really helping you grab and hold on to a rebound? I doubt it.
It has to hurt your production overall. How do you take a shot with the ball sticking to your hand on release? How do you make an accurate pass? No wonder the guy can't hit a shot outside of the cylinder.
The whole thing was just so Dwight Howard. I almost feel like it was a prank Howard’s been pulling for a while and it just finally worked for the first time.
Rajon Rondo berates referee Bill Kennedy
This one is really unfortunate.
Rajon Rondo was upset at NBA referee Bill Kennedy after he was tossed from a game against the Celtics in Mexico City.
Instead of leaving the court as all players are supposed to after, ya know, getting kicked outta the game, Rondo felt it necessary to berate Kennedy and toss a bunch of anti-gay slurs at the now openly-gay referee. Nice.
Kennedy had not come out at the time, but after the incident he felt it necessary to reveal that he is a proud gay man (LINK). Good for Kennedy.
Rondo’s character, on the other hand, took another hit. He was suspended by the NBA for a game due to the incident. He later apologized.
Hey Rondo, the NBA is trying to grow the sport - hence the game being played in Mexico City. You’re not helping with moments like that one.
Don't talk to 'Melo, talk to Dolan
Of course the Knicks are back for a curtain call. This franchise is annually one of the bigger messes in the NBA, and 2016 certainly wasn’t the exception. In fact, it was probably one of the more memorable seasons - for all the wrong reasons (minus Kristaps Porzingis - even though all Knicks fans hated that pick, because obviously they did).
Things got so bad in New York that the star player was directing all complaints to the owner. Stars, they’re just like us! Carmelo Anthony was so fed up with the Knicks and one fan in particular sitting courtside and heckling Anthony, that Melo pointed out team owner James Dolan to the fan and told him to ask for his money back.
Too funny. It was actually pretty harmless. But this is New York, and everything gets blown way out of proportion. Melo was eventually forced to apologize by the Knicks . . . to the Knicks? The whole thing turned into unnecessary drama and, again, that’s to be expected out of that franchise.
Jahlil Okafor has money
Welcome to the NBA, rookie. Oh, by the way you won’t be able to get away with anything anymore.
That was apparent early on when in Boston around Thanksgiving, Okafor found himself caught in a little scuffle with some hecklers outside of a club. It was caught on tape. TMZ, baby!
Okafor didn’t get in any trouble with the law, but he was suspended two games by the organization for embarrassing them as well as himself. He also had to suffer the embarrassment of screaming “We got money!” during the fight.
Okafor was also busted driving 108 MPH in a 45 MPH zone over the Ben Franklin Bridge. That’ll cost him. But as that dude he punched out already knows, he’s got MONEY!
Markieff Morris throws in the towel... literally
You had to think once Marcus Morris was traded to the Pistons that Markieff Morris just wouldn’t work in Phoenix. You knew it when word came out that he wanted to be traded from Phoenix. And you were 100-percent sure it was doomed to fail when Morris tossed a towel at his then head coach Jeff Hornacek after he was subbed out of a game in late December.
Talk about disrespect. He was suspended two games for it.
Morris went from literally throwing in the towel to the Suns figuratively throwing in the towel in the following weeks.
Jeff Hornacek was eventually canned. Morris was eventually traded to the Wizards. The towel is still with the Suns, last seen draped over the shoulder of future superstar Devin Booker.
But would anybody blame Morris for throwing a towel at his new head coach, Randy Wittman?
DeMarcus Cousins airs it all out
Dramarcus Cousins is in the NBA news for all the wrong reasons more often than a lot of NBA players. I’ll give him this though: He hasn’t done anything really ridiculously over the top that puts him ahead of some of the situations we’ve already addressed. But it’s just a lot of little things. And the fact he seriously can’t stand George Karl. Like REALLY can’t stand him.
We’ve all played for a coach that gets on our nerves. Or took a class with an awful teacher. You don’t have a choice but to put your head down, internally disagree with everything he or she says and does, and keep your eyes locked on that last day of the season/year. But sometimes you just reach a boiling point and let it all go. You serve the suspension/detention and feel good about it.
That was probably Cousins on March 10 when he went off on Karl on the bench (LINK). He was suspended a game for it, something the organization said was their decision. Cousins told media that it was the coach’s decision. This has been a problem all season long and the only solution is to trade Cousins to the Celtics this offseason. Putting all my chips in the “change of scenery” solution.