Let the #musclewatch and claims of no one believing in you begin! We’re pulling out the best stuff from around the NBA as teams open their doors for media day. Check back for updates throughout the day.
LeBron on “That Guy”
Media Day!! So excited the season is back!! Media guys see y'all soon, let have some great dialogue today. It's been awhile #Season15— LeBron James (@KingJames) September 25, 2017
LeBron James doubled down on his comments from over the weekend, saying he doesn’t regret addressing President Donald Trump as “U bum” in a tweet over the weekend. He continued to avoid using Trump’s name Monday, referring to the president as “that guy” while talking about the leaguewide NFL protests on Sunday.
LeBron: "I'm not going to let — while I have this platform — one individual, no matter the power...ever use sport...to divide us." pic.twitter.com/Y04gTGruk4— BuzzFeed News (@BuzzFeedNews) September 25, 2017
“It was solidarity,” said James. “There was no divide. Even from that guy that continues to try to divide us as people. … The people run this country. Not one individual. And damn sure not him.”
LeBron says those who voted for Trump made a mistake. Said he's made mistakes before too, like giving his daughter too many skittles.— Greg Swartz (@CavsGregBR) September 25, 2017
In non-politics news, LeBron also talked about two former teammates, Kyrie Irving and Dwyane Wade. When asked about advice for Kyrie, he said, “If my son went to another team, I ain’t giving him shit,” continuing the odd, slightly condescending tradition of turning their relationship into one paternal in nature. “I was ready to give him the keys,” LeBron continued. “I tried to help him be as good as he could.” He’s also, apparently, ready to let Wade ride shotgun again, saying he would “love” for the recently released shooting guard to join him on the Cavs.
More Trump Talk
The NBA is no stranger to speaking out on injustice. With media day for most teams underway, commentary on Trump, political protest, and activism as an athlete is flowing from the podium:
Bradley Beal: “To me you’re a clown … that’s not what a leader does.”
Tom Gores, Pistons owner: “We support [our players’] right to raise awareness in a manner they believe is both thoughtful and impactful. We hope that any response to it will be equally thoughtful.”
Kyle Lowry (slighting his own son, I might add): “Sad (to see Trump’s) Twitter rant. It’s like my 6-year-old. You were voted to be the leader of the free world.”
Dwight “Seinfeld” Howard
Dwight Howard is fighting for redemption, both on the court and as a locker room guy. Personality matters. So does the right attitude. He knew this going into media day with the Hornets, his third team in three seasons. He knew he had to pull out perfectly crafted responses to whatever would be thrown his way.
So when a reporter asked if Howard would go to the White House if the Hornets won a title—a serious, hot-button topic—the 31-year-old did not hesitate. He was, unlike the past four or so years of his career, ready.
“I’d go to Dwight House.”
Kanye + Conley = BFFs
Rob Pelinka Is Inspired
Here is a list of the things that Rob Pelinka, GM of the Los Angeles Lakers, has compared this 2017-18 team to during media day (so far):
Hamilton, the Grammy-, Tony-, and Pulitzer Prize–Winning Broadway Play
“We’re young, we’re scrappy, and we’re hungry.”
Pelinka referenced the “DNA” of the team and called Lonzo Ball “humble.”
Young Taylor Swift on YouTube
A recurring theme for this Swiftie, who likened the Lakers to the pop star earlier this summer: “It’s her guitar, it’s her, it’s in a little studio, and you watch it and you listen to it and you say ‘Wow, this is going to be a special thing to follow and a really cool narrative to unfold.’ I have that sense about the Lakers.”
His 9-Year-Old Son’s Team
Pelinka said his son’s team, like the Lakers, relishes the opportunity to get better against such a strong conference. (His 9-year-old playing against the AAU version of the West might go down as the strongest antithesis for the young-people-need-participation-trophies crowd, like, ever.)
A Tidal Wave You Can’t Help But Feel
Just going to let this one speak for itself.
Kevin Love is peppering faster than second-term Obama:
kevin love aged about 30 years this offseason pic.twitter.com/FsAYGOSbcB— Jordan Heck (@JordanHeckFF) September 25, 2017
This offseason was an especially cruel one to K-Love, who was rumored early as the most likely to be traded from Cleveland. But how fast—and I sincerely ask from a place of concern—can one gray? This picture, featuring a completely brown head of hair, was posted 11 days ago on Love’s Instagram account:
Granted, that photo shoot could’ve taken place long ago. Interestingly enough, the photo posted just before it is taken from far away. Love is not even present in the three before that. In the IG before that, he’s 15 feet from the camera and facing away(!). Most damning of all, nine posts back is a photo filtered in … black and white.
Stay (Hoodie) Me7o
You can get Melo out of New York, but you can’t get Melo of out a hoodie.
Melo on Russell Westbrook, Paul George and competing for a championship in OKC. pic.twitter.com/g999CtwHWl— Up The Thunder (@UpTheThunder) September 25, 2017
New teammate Paul George, who yelled at Melo to “take that dumbass hoodie off!” upon entering the presser, is obviously impressed.
Houston, on the Defensive
Mike D’Antoni is all about defense, telling media that the Rockets “need to be top five defensively. Duh.” In, like, the entire league. Last season, the team finished 18th in defensive rating, finishing below four nonplayoff teams. Though Houston added nine-time All-Defensive team member Chris Paul, it simultaneously lost the team’s best defender, Patrick Beverley, in the trade. Signing P.J. Tucker and Luc Mbah a Moute will help D’Antoni’s pursuit, but the Rockets need OKC-era James Harden to return on D if they’re thinking “top five.”
Are the Bulls OK?
Bulls media day got me in tears pic.twitter.com/IErD4khSex— Austin James Riley (@ChefTrillie) September 25, 2017
Too Many Okafors
Before Philly can meet its objective of getting rid of one Okafor, it gives another a chance at making the roster. Emeka Okafor, the (almost) 35-year-old big man and, yes, distant cousin of Jahlil, will start training camp with the 76ers. Drafted second overall in 2004, the center last played in 2013 with the Wizards — but this is the year for comebacks, right, Stephon Marbury?
For Wall/Against Wall
Scott Brooks begins the MVP campaign for John Wall, saying he should “be in the conversation this year.” Wall upgraded his leaguewide stature last postseason, dazzling against the Hawks and Celtics, but has tough competition for the award even just among fellow point guards. (Chances are that winning the award would kind of help in his pursuit of a signature shoe deal, though).
PG Wants to Find Love
Paul George wanted out of Indiana because he felt the franchise wasn’t surrounding him with what (and whom) it took to win. But OKC …
“It’s year one,” George told media, “and [the Thunder have] proven, and I haven’t even gone through a season yet, and they’ve already proven everything on my checklist I can check off. … That’s what makes me feel like, ‘Hey, this can be a landing spot for me, and somewhere I can call home for years.’”
Ah, the good ol’ jumping out of one relationship only to immediately enter another, then overcommit when this one possesses qualities the last lacked. The NBA is a bad romance novel I bought in the airport.
Sheed’s New Workout Plan
Amir Johnson on gaining weight as a young player. "I think Rasheed Wallace told me to drink beer once to gain weight." #sixers— Derek Bodner (@DerekBodnerNBA) September 25, 2017
Hip Woes and D-Rose
Cleveland finally gave an expected return date for Isaiah Thomas: January (i.e., two and a half months into the season). That delayed start hurts both the team (it’s all riding on Derrick Rose and José Calderón!), and Thomas, who needs all the time he can get to showcase himself before hitting next summer’s free-agent market.