Yeah, that guy we all saw last year wearing No. 6 for Miami in the NBA Finals? That guy wasn’t LeBron James. He was someone else, an impostor, a fake, a poser. LeBron says the real LeBron is back. Should we believe him? James says for the first time since he got to Miami, he’s back to the real him. More alive and ready to go. That’s good to know; We aren’t sure how anyone could deal with the amount of venom he had to take in last year. But still, the whispers about clutch failures, disappointments and lack of heart will only grow louder with each misstep. It’s a full-on disease for him now, and the only way to cure it is to win a championship and do it in a fashion that’ll have people forget about James’ past playoff struggles. As for Miami’s Big Three, they’re all saying it’s championship or bust this year. They came together for one reason only: winning. So another trip to the Finals isn’t worth it if they can’t get those rings. Looking at the landscape right now, the Celtics are older, the Lakers are worse, the Mavs suddenly got cheap and the Bulls still probably can’t beat them. There’s OKC to consider as well, but should the Heat be considered big favorites at this point to win the chip? … New Jersey stays taking Ls. We kind of called it didn’t we? One of their main targets once again isn’t coming. Nene re-upped in Denver last night for five years, $65 million plus incentives, reported Adrian Wojnarowski of Yahoo! Sports. That’s a lot of money for a 29-year-old who has never even averaged eight rebounds a game in a season, nor 15 points or 1.5 blocks a night. But hey, that’s pretty much the market value right now. Denver needed to make a splash considering half their team is gone. We should bring up that hilarious picture of a smiling Nene. He’s definitely overjoyed right now … We told you yesterday the Mavs were looking to trim even more fat off their payroll for next summer, and they’ve done it. Marc Stein is reporting they agreed to send Rudy Fernandez AND Corey Brewer to previously mentioned Denver for one future second-rounder. Well that’s an ego killer, knowing you and one other player were traded for just a single crappy pick. Fernandez always struck us as a kid who thought he was better than he was. Even coming to Dallas, there were reporters who felt his attitude might hurt the Mavs locker room. Fernandez seemed like he felt he should’ve been dominating in the NBA like he did in Europe. Newsflash bro: this ain’t Europe and you’re not Manu Ginobili. He could never figure it out … The Lakers are back into the mix for Chris Paul, tweets Marc Stein. No more details at this point right now, other than that the Clippers and league officials are still talking with a few new names being thrown out (Mo Williams and Trevor Ariza). For the Lakers, they just need to do something (and signing Josh McRoberts for two years, $6 million doesn’t really count), stuck in-between CP and Dwight Howard (who named them one of the four teams he will consider signing an extension with, along with Orlando, Dallas and New Jersey) and not knowing if either one would come. L.A. isn’t used to not getting their way … The start of training camps and NBA Media Days always bring about some spectacular photos and stories. How much weight did this guy gain? How much hair did this guy lose? Who came back with the most new ink? Who looks like they want to murder their agent and GTFO town? Well this year, Kobe “I Don’t Give A F#$% Anymore” Bryant has given us some unintentional comedy. Bryant’s been uniquely blunt with everyone so far, swearing like there’s no tomorrow and basically answering every question as if he’s just bored with the entire process. As Grantland wrote, Bryant told a Clipper beat reporter to tell Blake Griffin “not to f$%^ himself up in the preseason.” He’s also said this about the Lakers: “We’ll keep the train moving. [Devin] Ebanks is going to step in there and fill it up … Ron [Artest‘s] responsibilities have kicked up and the train keeps moving … If I think a guy is a bum, he’s a bum. When Smush [Parker] was here, I told you he was a bum.” He’s like the old dude sitting out on his porch with the suspenders and lemonade, tossing insults down at any knucklehead who hits a ball onto his front lawn. Every once in a while, he gets all pissed off and comes out to show the ‘youngins how it’s done. We’re waiting for someone to ask Kobe about Kwame‘s new deal … Speaking of Brown, NBA TV analyst and former NBA player Greg Anthony told us this yesterday about Kwame Brown: “He’s one of the best post defenders in our league.” Dead serious. Check out the interview. Anthony, Chris Webber and Steve Smith had a lot of interesting things to say about Chauncey Billups, the T’Wolves and the shortened season, among other things … Keep reading to hear about Kevin Garnett calling out David Stern …
Kevin Garnett, who spent parts of the summer calling out David Stern and the owners, is doing it again. KG isn’t happy at all about the rushed pace that Stern is operating under, saying it’s screwing up the fabric of teams and causing problems all over the league. He likened it to building a tortilla. You can’t just throw everything together and think it’ll work. There has to be a plan involved. Obviously, Stern’s plan is to make the most money back as possible in the short time. KG, for one, isn’t feeling the rushed training camp … Everyone is obsessed with Tim Tebow these days. George Karl is saying Manu Ginobili and Ben Wallace are the two NBA players who remind him most of the new savior of the NFL. That differs a little from our list … Minnesota – in an effort to avoid having to amnesty anyone to sign J.J. Barea – has traded Lazar Hayward to Oklahoma City for a couple of second rounders. Hayward never got much of a chance in ‘Sota, but it’s hard envisioning him getting a better one with a contender. Still, check out that link. They have a Lazar Hayward layup mix. But why did our man Zach Harper have to diss Jonny Flynn? He writes of Hayward: “He also had one of Jonny Flynn’s assists by the looks of the video. That’s like catching a no-hitter in baseball.” … We can say one thing for Kyrie Irving. He’s not shy. First, it takes a hardened vet to tell the world you’re not trying to have anyone be your daddy on the court, and that’s basically what the former Dukie said earlier this summer when he told reporters he didn’t really need Baron Davis mentoring him and wanted to run the team himself. Now, he’s saying he’s not trying to replace LeBron and wants to start his own special thing up in Cleveland. We love this kid’s attitude, but he’s in for a rude awakening. He better get used to losing … Marc Spears of Yahoo! Sports says we should expect Jamal Crawford to make his decision today with the three finalists being Sacramento (have the most money), Portland (nearly hometown) and New York (the longshot) … Here’s Keyon Dooling reminiscing about the fight we brought out of the dark last week … And the NBA has instituted their own concussion policy. Basically – as you’re seeing in other sports – when a player gets a concussion, they’ll have to pass a bunch of tests before seeing the floor again. This is great news. Even though they don’t happen too often in basketball, you don’t mess around with concussions … We’re out like Rudy Fernandez.
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