Back in the day, fierce rivalries amongst the baddest big men in the game were warranted, and universally expected. Chuck could talk smack to Karl Malone about how much better he was. Shaq hated on David Robinson, and went out to turn him into a human pinball whenever they matched up. Hakeem went at the Admiral when he felt disrespected during the 1995 Western Conference Finals. And Bill Laimbeer just wanted to cheap shot everybody. It was a different era back then, and most would argue it made for more interesting basketball, more drama. Nowadays, everyone is teaming up, and with so many NBA players first meeting each other at earlier ages and then practically growing up together on the court, rivalries are scarce. As far as big men go, Andrew Bynum is probably the largest wild card, only because of the increasingly weird Andrew Bynum things he does. So we think we’re speaking for most fans when we say thank God for DeMarcus Cousins. He’s been a loose cannon his whole life – it’s part of what makes him a viable candidate to one day average 25 points, 12 rebounds, 1.7 technicals and one dirty forearm to the face a game. He’s already started a beef with Blake Griffin. Now he wants it with the best big man in the NBA, and the centerpiece of one of the most impacting NBA trades of the past decade. When he heard the news on Friday morning, Cousins welcomed Dwight Howard to L.A. by posting a picture of himself dunking on the former Orlando center on Instagram. You know Sacramento fans loved that. They haven’t had an opportunity to stand up to their bigger brothers in nearly a decade. Now, even as the Lakers load up with more firepower than the U.S. women’s 4 X 100 track team, the Kings’ fans know their centerpiece isn’t backing down … The thing about Cousins is he’s just naive enough to really believe he’s the best big man in the game, which is like wielding a double-edged sword for the Kings. On one hand, he’ll make them infinitely more competitive and a viable option on League Pass because you just never know what he’ll do. On the other, he could easily blow up over all the losing and resort to launching pull-up 20 footers. Cousins has never been the most composed of players. Should Dwight be nervous about the young cat in Cali’s capital that wants his crown? Not yet. But in a few years? This could be really fun … Speaking of Howard’s move to the West Coast, we’ve heard Kobe reaping praise on him, calling him everything from “the next in line” of the great Laker centers to, randomly, “one of the best players of all time” (who said Kobe wasn’t a good teammate?). Pau Gasol is super excited after make through his year from Hell (nearly getting traded like 47 times, and then being forced to eat the leftovers from whatever Kobe and Bynum gave him). But what about Steve Nash? No one has heard from him yet. He’s probably lost his voice from all his excited screaming … Keep reading to hear about what we should expect from the Americans in the gold medal game …
Have you ever heard of Operation Hawkeye? If you haven’t, it’s a boy’s mission to honor fallen Special Operations Warriors and their families. A rising eighth grader in Virginia named Will is taking part in an upcoming Labor Day shooting challenge called “Rise And Fire.” Last year, he did a shooting challenge to raise over $50k for their families working with the Navy SEAL Foundation (NSF). Will made 20,000-plus baskets during a 50-hour period last Labor Day weekend. Now this year, he plans to make at least 2,600 three-pointers over a consecutive-day run beginning the Friday afternoon of Labor Day weekend, as well as partner up with Team 31Countdown for grassroots awareness and support. Hit up the Facebook page for details … More offseason news: the Lakers signed Jodie Meeks to a modest two year, $3 million deal to be their designated shooter off the bench. Meeks started 50 games last year for a playoff team, and yet not a single media outlet is talking about this. He and Nash can have a competition throughout the year to see who gets the most open three-point shots … Jermaine O’Neal agreed to sign with Phoenix for one year and $1.35 million, which only means the oft-injured and washed-up 33-year-old will average a 15/10 next year … The U.S. women won gold last night, beating down France 86-50 for their 41st straight win in the Olympics. Amazingly during that span, only once has a team been beaten by single-digits, and only once (during these Olympics to Australia) has a team been beating the U.S. at the half. Everyone else has gotten spanked. Candace Parker was the one who put it away in the second quarter for the Americans, scoring eight during a 13-2 run that pushed the lead out to 14, and from there, the team never looked back. Parker finished with 21 points and 11 rebounds and helped key the defense that held the French to 30 percent from the floor for the game … And this morning at 10 a.m. ET, we will see Team USA taking on Spain for the gold medal. So far, everything has gone perfectly for the Yanks, outside of Russell Westbrook‘s sprained ankle in the semis against Argentina (his status for today is up in the air but we believe he’ll play because Russ is nearly immune to injuries). If we were at all betting men, we’d guess Team USA won’t have a problem with Spain. The Spaniards have talent – especially on the frontline with the Gasol bros and Serge Ibaka – but Ibaka has somehow struggled to find minutes, and the guards have been especially bad (remember, there’s no Ricky Rubio, Juan Carlos Navarro has dealt with some injury bugs, and Rudy Fernandez appears more interested in flopping all over the place than playing basketball). They haven’t played a full game yet, and against Russia in the semis, they had all of 20 points in the first half. Do that against the U.S. and you might as well get dressed at the half and walk back to the bus … Considering Team USA’s gameplan evolved into “mess around for two quarters, then get someone invincibly hot from beyond the arc” we can probably expect a close game for at least most of the first half. But for once, we just want to see a full night of great basketball from the Yanks. That’s not too much to ask … We’re out like Cousins’ filter.
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