LeBron James

Kevin Love likes Portland's chances against the Lakers

Kevin Love likes Portland's chances against the Lakers

The Blazers and Grizzlies will battle it out this weekend in a unique play-in series, to the victor goes the eight seed.

With the eight seed, either Portland or Memphis will get the reward of playing the Los Angeles Lakers in the first round of the NBA Playoffs.

Fans and experts alike have seen Portland as a legit threat to the Lakers, should they make the playoffs, and the odds are in Portland's favor. 

Portland is the current eight seed, meaning they will have to win just one game to advance. Memphis, however, will have to beat Portland twice in consecutive days to leap the Blazers. 

Can it be done? Sure. But it won't be easy.

With the Blazers having the inside track to LeBron and Co, everyone has already started to weigh in on how the Blazers-Lakers playoff series will look. 

Can Portland challenge the King? LeBron James' former teammate Kevin Love thinks so. 

On the latest edition of the Talkin' Blazers Podcast, Love gave hosts Channing Frye and Dan Sheldon his thoughts on the potential Portland - Los Angeles matchup:

They can steal some games, especially with how Dame (Lillard) is playing. We're gonna have to see how CJ (McCollum) responds with his back because I do think they need the second primary scorer. - Kevin Love on potential Blazers - Lakers matchup 

Listen to the latest Talkin’ Blazers Podcast with hosts NBA Champion Channing Frye and Emmy Award winner Dan Sheldon].

 

Frye, who teamed up with Love and James to win a title with the Cleveland Cavaliers in 2016, also sees Portland posing a challenge. 

"If you look at this team now... in the past, you had Moe Harkless and Al-Farouq Aminu who were great defenders but were reluctant to shoot the three-ball," said Frye. "Now it's like you double-team Dame, you're throwing it to Nurk (Jusuf Nurkic) who is a very underrated passer. Then he's throwing it to Melo (Carmelo Anthony) on one side, and CJ McCollum and Gary Trent Jr. on that side."

The Blazers have plenty of weapons on the offensive side of the ball, but perhaps the biggest dark horse in a series with the Lakers would be big man Jusuf Nurkic. 
 
Nurkic is one of the best passing big men in the game, and his vision drastically changes the Blazers offense. As Frye said, unlike in years past, the Blazers can put multiple shooters on the floor, and Nurkic will know how to find them. 

Love, a gifted big-man passer in his own right, knows exactly what Nurk can do.

"If they trap that ball screen and you have Nurk making passes on that short roll and you have to slide over and play midway in-between - it's either gonna be Melo or CJ shooting that shot... those guys can heat up and light up really, really fast. Kevin Love on how Nurkic can alter a series with the Lakers. 

It's not only his passing the Blazers will need to take advantage of. They'll need to use his offensive skill in the paint as well. Attack the Lakers bigs with a healthy dose of the Bosnian Beast.

Said Frye, The Blazers are "gonna need to slow the game down and throw it to Nurk, and force-feed that big rhinoceros."

Get Nurk rolling, draw the defense in, let him kick it out to Lillard and watch the three-ball rain!
 
"I do think that Portland has the best chance, going against the Lakers" - Kevin Love.

Bronny James thinks Damian Lillard is the NBA's best PG

Bronny James thinks Damian Lillard is the NBA's best PG

LeBron James and his son Bronny could become the first ever father and son to play in the NBA at the same time.

Bronny, a freshman at Sierra Canyon High School in Chatsworth, California still has a few years until his likely NBA debut while the 35-year-old and 16-time All-Star LeBron is in his 17th year in the league.

Only time will tell if the duo will ever play on the same professional court together, but there is one other player that Bronny has a better chance at playing with and one that he is quite fond of: Damian Lillard

In no particular order, Bronny names his top five players besides his father LeBron.

Giannis Antetokounmpo, James Harden, Damian Lillard, Anthony Davis and Kevin Durant. 

[Listen to the latest Talkin’ Blazers Podcast with hosts NBA Champion Channing Frye and Emmy Award winner with special guest Trail Blazers TV analyst Lamar Hurd].

[RELATED]: Is LeBron James sporting a Trail Blazers ‘Rip City’ shirt?

LeBron and Dame have a mutual respect for one another. It’s not really a surprise that Bronny is also a fan of the five-time All-Star and former NBA Rookie of the Year.

But other than the relationship, Lillard’s numbers speak for themselves.

Remember that historical and out-of-his-mind six-game stretch in 2020 when Lillard averaged 48.8 points and 10.2 assists? That was fun. Before the NBA season was suspended back in mid-March due to COVID-19, Lillard was averaging 28.9 points, 7.8 assists and 4.3 rebounds per game.

Bronny, a 6-foot-2 freshman at Sierra Canyon High School, helped lead the Trailblazers to a 30-4 record, the No. 1 rank in California and the No. 2 rank in the nation in the 2019-2020 season. There were a few games even aired on ESPN, widely due to Bronny and Zaire Wade, son of Dwyane Wade.

Is LeBron James sporting a Trail Blazers 'Rip City' shirt?

Is LeBron James sporting a Trail Blazers 'Rip City' shirt?

NBA superstar LeBron James posted on his Instagram this afternoon a heartfelt message to his son Bryce Maximus James wishing Bryce a very happy 13th Birthday!  

While King James is in disbelief that he now has two teenagers, he posted this message:

Man o man!!!! Happy Bday to my guy guy Bryce Maximus James!!! Thirteen though?!?!?! Where is the time going! You’re one of a kind young man and I’m proud to watch your continue to grow every day and I’m also proud to be your dad!! You make the whole house laugh daily by just simply being YOU!! Always know YOU is good enough and more my son. Enjoy your day as we celebrate it together as what we call the #JamesGang way! -- LeBron James on Instagram

The Lakers All-Star also shared some memorable photos of him and Bryce through the years.

It’s fun looking through a collage of photos with NBA players and their children over the years.

Of the nine photos and one video, LeBron appeared in five of the pictures with Bryce.

Or was it six of the pictures?  

[Listen to the latest Talkin' Blazers Podcast with hosts NBA Champion Channing Frye and Emmy Award winner Dan Sheldon.]

There was one particular photo of what looked like it could've been a family birthday party for Bryce a couple of years ago or some type of gathering where he is enjoying popcorn from a movie theater-style popcorn machine.

Though the popcorn machine looks pretty awesome, it is a t-shirt that caught our eye.

Looking at this photo, someone sharing in the popcorn fun is sporting a ‘Rip City’ t-shirt.

Swiping through all the pictures of Lebron and Bryce it was easy to think, ‘oh dang, wait a minute? Is King James wearing a Trail Blazers shirt?'

Too bad the photo has the Rip City fan cropped out. Either way, Bryce’s friend or family member wearing a ‘Rip City’ t-shirt gets a heart emoji from us.  

Damian Lillard confident Trail Blazers can beat Lakers in First Round playoff matchup

Damian Lillard confident Trail Blazers can beat Lakers in First Round playoff matchup

Let’s all think back to right before the First Round of the 2017 NBA playoffs, when the No. 8 seed Trail Blazers were set to take on the No. 1 seed Golden State Warriors.

Most Tail Blazers fans remember when Portland’s All-Star Damian Lillard made the “Blazers in six” comment right before Portland tipped off its last regular season game against New Orleans that year.

Lillard has always been extremely confident and uber competitive.

To get where he is today and where he wants to be, being confident and competitive is imperative, obviously.  

He always welcomes all challenges -- big and small.

[Listen to the latest Talkin' Blazers Podcast with hosts NBA Champion Channing Frye and Emmy Award winner Dan Sheldon.]

And really, there’s nothing the sports world loves more than superstar players saying overconfident things even if they are pretty ridiculous, i.e. Lillard’s comments in 2017.  

But hey, what was Lillard supposed to say, when Rip City Live host Dan Sheldon asked him, “Blazers in 6 or 7?”

Sure, Lillard predicted his team, who snuck into the playoffs in the last week of the season, would knock off the Warriors, who that year were the first team to win 67 games in three straight seasons, but we can appreciate such a statement.

And now, as Lillard and the Trail Blazers prepare for the 2019-20 season to start back up again in Orlando, Lillard is confident once again.

But this time, I don’t think people are completely laughing off his comments like they did a few years ago.

In a recent Vanity Fair interview, Lillard was asked numerous questions with topics ranging from attending Black Lives Matter protests to how competitive he is as a person, to his music career and who has influenced him the most in the music industry.

Lillard also dropped a surprising comment about how he thought he was going to be traded to the New York Knicks a few years back.  

But, besides the Knicks trade rumors; his opinion about earning the No. 8 seed out West and facing the Lakers needs to be noted as well.

Vanity Fair Question: When the season shut down, the Trail Blazers were in ninth place; if you move up to eighth, you could play the Los Angeles Lakers in the first round. You want that?

Of course. I think we could beat them. – Trail Blazers 5x All-Star Damian Lillard

There's that confidence again. And we know Blazers fans love to see it. 

Portland, Sacramento and New Orleans all currently sit three and a half games behind No. 8 Memphis. The Lakers currently hold a 5.5 game lead for the top spot out West over the Clippers.

Oddsmakers aren’t as sure as Lillard that Portland can even beat out Memphis for the final playoff spot in the Western Conference.

These recent projections are courtesy of FiveThirtyEight, who uses prior performance, remaining strength of schedule, quality of roster and other indicators to project the playoff field.

8th seed: Memphis Grizzlies (28-26)

Chances of the playoffs: 15%

Projected Record: 38-44

9th seed: Portland Trail Blazers (25-31)

Chances of the playoffs: 14%

Projected Record: 38-44

And when Vanity Fair asked Lillard, do you feel secure about your safety in regard to the coronavirus, and do you think the plan for the top 16 teams plus six more is fair?” -- Lillard referenced his competitive nature once again.  

As a competitor I’m happy we will get an opportunity to continue and try to make a run in the playoffs. I am a little concerned about the risk we’re taking dealing with the virus, but the NBA will take all precautions into consideration to keep us safe. I think the plan going forward is fair. -- Damian Lillard to Vanity Fair

Even though many players have agreed with Lillard in believing the plan to have a 22-team format with each team playing eight regular season games is reasonable, the NBA and NBPA still haven’t finalized the format to return to play.

The talks are ongoing, as is Lillard’s confidence.  

Carmelo Anthony doesn’t care for Michael Jordan, LeBron James G.O.A.T. debates

Carmelo Anthony doesn’t care for Michael Jordan, LeBron James G.O.A.T. debates

Carmelo Anthony has watched “The Last Dance” documentary, and he’ll even tell you Michael Jordan is the greatest basketball player of all time.

But when it comes to G.O.A.T. debates between the Chicago Bulls legend and LeBron James, the Trail Blazers star is not having it.

"I don't like it,” Anthony told CBS Sports. “And I say that because whenever we do that, we fail to appreciate what we have in front of us. Any time these comparisons are made, whether it's anybody -- old school versus new school -- it's like, why can't we just appreciate everybody for what they bring to the game?"

Melo has grown to appreciate both players games over the years. He developed a relationship with Jordan when he became the first signature athlete to sign with Jordan Brand in 2003. He’s also played basketball with LeBron since high school and the Lakers star once saved Anthony’s life when he was drowning in the Bahamas.

All allegiances aside, Anthony doesn’t think you have to side with one or the other. 

You know, M.J. is the GOAT. He's the greatest ever. We all know that, and we all agree to that. Why can't we say that, but also give LeBron his flowers while he's here too?" Why can't we say, 'M.J. was very great, LeBron is very great, Kobe is very great.' We're not allowed to say those things today, because it's always this or that, and that's just our society -- you have to choose one.

Watching The Last Dance did enlighten Melo though. He also believes it gave viewers a glimpse into what kind of person MJ was rather than the names like M.J. the great, Basketball God and Black Jesus that followed him after his legendary years on the court.

“He was a mythical person, like a mythical creature,” Melo said. “Nobody understood who he was or what he was. I think seeing him kind of take the lid off the pot and having the chance to kind of just tell his story and people can hear his passion -- what he's into, what he's not, and how he operates on the day-to-day, his mentality. Most people loved it. Some people were very surprised. And then there were people who hated it, because a lot of times people hate the actual truth."

LeBron James’ contributions might not match up to the greatness of Jordan. We don’t know, the story of his basketball career is still being written. What we do know is that both Jordan and LeBron have transcended the sport as we know it and helped grow the game on a global scale. 

Be sure to check out the full Talkin’ Blazers Podcast with host NBA Champion Channing Frye and Emmy Award winner Dan Sheldon.

Clyde Drexler is not okay with automatically labeling Michael Jordan or LeBron James the GOAT

Clyde Drexler is not okay with automatically labeling Michael Jordan or LeBron James the GOAT

Since the final episode of 'The Last Dance,' ESPN’s docuseries on Michael Jordan, NBA players, current and former, have shared their thoughts on who is the Greatest of All-Time.

The debate of who is better between Michael Jordan and LeBron James has some players and analysts heated.

Former Portland Trail Blazer and 10x NBA All-Star, who also battled it out numerous times against MJ, Clyde Drexler shared his opinion on the matter.

In a recent interview with SportsTalk 790’s ‘The A-Team,’ Drexler discussed The Last Dance, his overall career, the debate on who is the best NBA player of all-time and more.   

More than 20 years after Drexler and MJ last laced it up against each other, Drexler has his own opinion on the GOAT debate.

Clyde the Glide believes neither Jordan nor LeBron James should be the only two automatically pegged as the NBA's greatest player of all time.

I have a real problem with that, because out of all the guys that played the game, for you to have a conversation of these two guys as the GOAT when you've got Wilt Chamberlain and Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, two of the greatest players to ever live - I think you start with those two. Clyde Drexler told ‘The A-Team.’

Drexler also offered up suggestions on a handful of other NBA greats.

"And then you've got guys like Dr. J [Julius Erving], Larry Bird, George Gervin, Elgin Baylor, Oscar Robertson, Jerry West. All those guys are in the conversation, and so for people to bring this up today, to me it's just unbelievable. And I love Michael and LeBron. But still, let's not take something away from those other guys who played."

Drexler played for the Trail Blazers from 1983-1995 after being selected as the No. 14 overall pick by Portland. He then went on and won a championship in 1995 with the Rockets.

He wasn’t done discussing the debate of MJ and LeBron with 'The A-Team,' in fact, he called it "blasphemy" to not include Wilt and the like.

"How are you going to say somebody is better than those guys?" Drexler said. "I just don't even get it. It's blasphemy at best. And it's always by people who have never played the game who are making these assessments because people who played the game know better. You don't put people ahead of people - nobody was better than those people."

The Trail Blazers great also mentioned that basketball is a team sport.

“This is a team game, it’s not one guy… So I hate when people act like it’s an individual competition.”

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Clyde isn’t a fan of it. 👀😳

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Listen to the full interview right here.

Be sure to check out the full Talkin’ Blazers Podcast with host NBA Champion Channing Frye and Emmy Award winner Dan Sheldon.

Here’s why Damian Lillard believes LeBron James is NBA MVP over Giannis Antetokounmpo

Here’s why Damian Lillard believes LeBron James is NBA MVP over Giannis Antetokounmpo

Before the NBA suspended operations in March due to the coronavirus pandemic, a heated MVP race between LeBron James and Giannis Antetokounmpo was taking form. 

Reigning MVP Antetokounmpo was averaging career highs in points (29.6) and rebounds (13.7) per game while leading the Bucks to the best record in the league at 53-12. Meanwhile, James and the Los Angeles Lakers sat atop the juggernaut Western Conference at 49-14 and had already clinched the teams’ first playoff berth in seven years.

But there can only be one rightful Most Valuable Player, and Damian Lillard believes LeBron is the most deserving. 

"This season I think it's LeBron," Lillard told ESPN’s Jalen and Jacoby show. "They're the No. 1 team in the west, they've been consistent all year long, and for him to be at the age he's at with the amount of miles that he has on his body, how often he's talked about the pressure that they've put on him in every little thing that he does.

"At the level he's performing at, in my opinion, I think he's the MVP."

There are a couple major takeaways here. First, Lillard believes age plays a factor in James’ MVP candidacy. But it’s worth noting that what LeBron, 35, has done is incredible for a player of any age group.

If his current stat line holds when play resumes, James will become just the second player in NBA history to average at least 25 points, 10 assists and five rebounds per game while averaging less than 35 minutes per game.

As Lillard also points out, James was leading the league in assists with 10.6 per game prior to the hiatus. He also played in 60 of the Lakers 63 games, while Giannis played in 57 of his team’s 65 games. 

If LeBron James were to hoist the prestigious Maurice Podoloff Trophy for the fifth time of his career, he would tie Michael Jordan and be just one MVP award away from Kareem Abdul-Jabbar who has six. 

The numbers are scary close between the two NBA All-Star captains, so it will certainly be interesting to see how things transpire once the 2019-20 season resumes play.

Be sure to check out the full Talkin’ Blazers Podcast with host NBA Champion Channing Frye and Emmy Award winner Dan Sheldon.

LeBron James is putting the NBA in danger during hiatus

LeBron James is putting the NBA in danger during hiatus

OK, so LeBron James is working out with teammates at a “safe, secure” private location these days.

That doesn’t sound as if it fits under the NBA’s guidelines for what can be done during the league’s hiatus. Apparently “safe" and "secure” are relative terms.

Most teams were operating under the assumption that players could work out only at team facilities:

In the past, players hold (sic) their workouts in practically any practice facility. However, the NBA announced that it won’t be allowed this time around. Players can only workout in their team’s facility.

Yes, three or four players could be on the court at the same time, but they had to be separate. They were NOT supposed to actually be “practicing” together. There were all sorts of other rules associated with it, but I’m sure “The King” abided by them all.

I mean, he would never think he’s so special that he’s not governed by the same rules as his minions, right?

You’ve heard, by now, about Jordan Rules. Now get used to LeBron Rules.

If you haven’t already.

Damian Lillard COULD win a title in Portland and it would mean more if he did

Damian Lillard COULD win a title in Portland and it would mean more if he did

Stephen A. Smith didn’t exactly go out on a long limb Tuesday with his rant that Damian Lillard would never win a championship as a Portland Trail Blazer.

Come on, let’s face it. Smith could say that about just about any other max-salary player in the league who doesn’t happen to be on a team with LeBron James or Kawhi Leonard.

I have so much more respect for a player like Lillard who wants to do it his way, with his team, than another guy looking to latch on to LeBron’s coattails and ride them to an easy title.

You think Larry Bird or Magic Johnson or Michael Jordan would have chosen to be just another guy that James or Steph Curry hauled to a championship?

The point is, Lillard is determined to do it in Portland, where it would mean more to him and to the NBA if he could somehow win it all.

And it COULD happen. Not all the teams who have won titles over the last couple of decades have been dynasties. Not all have been loaded superteams. The Dallas Mavericks got a title and so did Toronto, just last season. And that Detroit team in 2004 wasn’t exactly a team for the ages.

I believe Portland could build a team that for at least one season, could be as good as those teams.

Market size, demographics, weather -- all have made Portland anything but a prime free-agent destination. But Neil Olshey has made astute deals and, when healthy, this current team can beat anybody when at its absolute best. Another player or two in a key spot, it could happen.

And that title would belong to Damian Lillard. Not Lebron or Kawhi or Steph… or Stephen A. Smith.

LeBron or MJ best of all time, or are they forgetting someone else?

LeBron or MJ best of all time, or are they forgetting someone else?

ESPN released a list of the NBA’s 74 greatest players and, of course, the big argument is at the top, where Michael Jordan is ranked No. 1 and LeBron James is No. 2.

I will say first, I would rank Jordan ahead of James but I wonder if ESPN would have, too, if it didn’t happen to be airing Jordan’s “Last Dance” documentary right now.

I’m not even totally sold on either of them being No. 1.

There is a real lack of understanding about how important talented centers were in the history of the game. For decades, if you didn’t have a great center, it was almost impossible to win a championship.

I watched teams take the floor against squads led by Kareem Abdul-Jabbar and Wilt Chamberlain and it was a hopeless situation. You could not stop them. There was nothing you could do.

Chamberlain was an athlete unlike anyone playing today -- a 7-2 LeBron James. When I hear people talk about Shaquille O'Neal being the best combination of speed and power in the game, I just laugh. Wilt would have dominated him. He was an all-around athlete (high jumper, 440 runner and world-class volleyball player) the likes of which few NBA players have ever been. And for all the points he scored, he once led the league in assists.

And even though Bill Russell won all those championships, he wasn’t the player Wilt was. I believe most people who rank him higher than Chamberlain did not see them play. Russell was a defensive genius and a leader, but did not have Wilt’s offensive skill. It wasn’t even close.

But Russell played for the Celtics, a great franchise with a great coach, surrounded by Hall of Fame teammates. That matters.

Abdul-Jabbar caused the colleges to outlaw the dunk just so they had a chance against him. But they couldn’t ban his skyhook, so there was still little chance of stopping him.

The problems with ranking the all-time best players in the history of any sport are many, And that’s why it can be so controversial.

A lot of the people doing those rankings didn’t even see many of the players on their list actually play, Or they rank players based on how many titles they won -- which was very often beyond the control of an individual player who landed on a hopeless franchise with no leadership... and no free agency to bail himself out of those situations.

Then, of course, there is the problem of comparing different eras. The three-point line had an enormous impact on the way the game is played, once coaches were able to commit to using it to its full potential (which took way too long).

And then there are the people unwilling to give players from the past a chance to be able to develop in modern systems that allow more and better weight training, nutritional guidance and salaries high enough players didn’t have to worry about an off-season job selling insurance.

In today’s game, Jordan obviously would have shot more three-point field goals. Wilt and Russell were both quick enough to get out on the floor and defend pick-and-rolls.

And players from previous eras such as Oscar Robertson, Jerry West, Geoff Petrie, Walt Frazier, Elvin Hayes and Elgin Baylor would have all starred in this era.

So make up whatever list you want -- but please pay respect to history and perhaps rank only the players you’ve actually seen and discard whatever myths you’ve heard about the others or the eras they played in.

Because you really don’t know.