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Gearing up for the NBA Finals, LeBron is still the story

By 06.02.09
Dwight Howard (photo. Mannion)

Dwight Howard (photo. Mannion)

While Dwight Howard takes a couple days to bask in the warm glowing warming glow of his first NBA Finals appearance — all before getting to the task of whipping himself into “Kill Bynum” mode — we still can’t get away from the LeBron talk. Even though it’s been standard fare for guys like Rasheed Wallace to get fined for skipping mandatory postseason press conferences, the League said they won’t fine LeBron for skipping his interviews after the Cavs were eliminated in Orlando. The reason? If LeBron’s team had still been alive in the playoffs, he would have been issued a warning, then fined the next time. That sounds about right — we’ve never heard of ‘Bron skipping a media session before, whereas ‘Sheed made a habit of it back when people wanted to talk to him — but nonetheless it just looks like another case of LeBron getting special treatment. Either way, hopefully this story dies a quick death as the concept of actual basketball gets closer and closer with the Finals looming … And speaking of old sh*t (“Why you bringin’ up old sh*t, Craig?”), the NBA Competition Committee met last week and talked about Rajon Rondo‘s controversial karate chop/pimp slap on Brad Miller from the first round, debating whether or not it should have been a flagrant foul. Although the refs on the court and the rule-enforcers in the League office determined it wasn’t flagrant, Danny Ainge said the play was “the one that was discussed the most” during the committee’s meeting. “Half thought it was a flagrant, half thought it wasn’t,” Ainge said. So look for even more crackdowns on hard fouls in the future. Somewhere Anthony Mason is shaking his head, while Greg Oden is just shaking. If the refs start calling games any tighter, G.O. might never play again … Dime #49 is out, and Blake Griffin is on the cover. We did the photo shoot with Blake in Norman, Okla., a few days after he’d made himself eligible for the NBA Draft, and fittingly he’s the centerpiece of our ’09 Draft Preview issue. Also in the mag is Chauncey Billups, Ben Gordon, Joe Johnson, Thaddeus Young, Kenny Anderson, and the projected top pick in the 2013 Draft. Not to mention we take you inside the hottest sneaker spot in Italy, and our “Ink” spread features maybe the NBA’s most inked-up player … Since Derrick Rose is already taking a few PR hits with this whole Memphis situation, let’s just go ahead and also blame D-Rose for the fact that Bulls assistant and longtime NBA staple Del Harris is retiring. When Vinny Del Negro got the Chicago job and brought in grizzled vets like Harris and Bernie Bickerstaff, we figured those guys took the job thinking they just had to hang around for a few months, maybe for the whole season, allow Del Negro to get himself fired, then take over a young squad with a load of talent. But then Rose turned into a beast — better than anyone expected right away as a rookie — and the Bulls put together a memorable playoff run that bought Del Negro at least two more years on the job. Seeing the writing on the wall, Harris got out of there … Brand-new Philly hire Eddie Jordan is retaining Aaron McKie as an assistant. Smart move, both basketball-wise and business-wise. The Philly faithful all love McKie, and since Jordan isn’t exactly a defensive coach, he needs somebody to instill a toughness and defensive mentality in this group. Here’s an idea: Send Sam Dalembert, Andre Iguodala, Thad Young, Lou Williams, Marreese Speights and whoever the Sixers take with the 17th pick in the first round to a weekend getaway where they’re stuck in the middle of nowhere with McKie, a basketball court, and some local North Philly playground cats. Trust us, those guys will come back with some hair on their chests … When we got e-mails from the NBA’s PR people last week pumping up Monday’s “major announcement” from David Stern and the WNBA Phoenix Mercury, some of us in the office figured the Mercury were either relocating, folding or had signed Brittney Griner (a.k.a. the female Dwight Howard) out of high school. Turns out the Mercury are going to be the first WNBA squad to have their jerseys sponsored, European soccer-style. Instead of saying “Phoenix” across the chest, it’s going to say “Lifelock.” Is this the first step down a slippery slope to NBA uniforms looking like NASCAR vehicles? Tell us what you think … We’re out like Del …


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