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14 Basketball Hall of Fame Finalists Announced

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The Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame announced today, at NBA All-Star Weekend, three elite players, nine outstanding coaches, one exceptional referee and one record-setting team as finalists from the North American and Women’s committees to be considered for election in 2016. This year’s list includes seven first-time finalists: 27-year NBA referee Darell Garretson, nine-time NBA All-Star Allen Iverson, two-time NABC Coach of the Year Tom Izzo, the first African-American coach in a professional league John McLendon, three-time NBA Finals MVP Shaquille O’Neal, four-time WNBA Champion Sheryl Swoopes and 10-time AAU National Champions Wayland Baptist University.

Previous finalists included again this year for consideration are the only coach in NCAA history to win 100 games at four different schools Charles “Lefty” Driesell, the all-time winningest high school coach Leta Andrews, the all-time winningest boys high school coach Robert Hughes, three-time NBA All-Star Kevin Johnson, three-time Consensus National College Coach of the Year Muffet McGraw, four-time Division III national champion coach Bo Ryan and four-time National Coach of the Year Eddie Sutton.

“To be nominated as a Finalist for the Basketball Hall of Fame is a tremendous accomplishment,” said Jerry Colangelo, Chairman of the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame. “Each finalist in the Class of 2016 has had a distinct impact on the the game we all love. Selecting the Enshrinees for the Class of 2016 will be a challenging task for the Honors Committee, but we look forward to making the announcement at the NCAA Final Four in April.”

As announced in 2015, three distinct modifications have been made to the election process for the upcoming class. Most notably, potential honorees are eligible on the ballot for Hall of Fame enshrinement after four full seasons of retirement – which allows for the inclusion of Shaquille O’Neal and Yao Ming on the Class of 2016 ballot. Absent from the All-Star announcement was Yao Ming, whose nomination falls within the Direct Elect International Committee. Enshrinees from the Direct Elect Committees will be recognized at the NCAA Men’s Final Four in Houston in April. Direct Elect Committees include Early African-American Pioneers, International, Contributors and Veterans. New this year, the ABA Direct Elect Committee has been dissolved with those members now aligning with the North American committee.

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Paul George on Thunder’s Struggles: ‘This is not where we want to be’

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It happened in shocking fashion, with a vicious coast-to-coast dunk by Russell Westbrook tying the game and appearing to be a spark, only to turn into a 22-2 run by the Charlotte Hornets.

It made for a quiet, frustrated Oklahoma City Thunder locker room, with Carmelo Anthony leaving before it opened up to reporters for postgame availability.

The Thunder dropped another stunning game Monday night while playing on their home floor against a Hornets team standing 13th in the Eastern Conference. With an opportunity to get back to .500, Oklahoma City gave up 64 second-half points to fall 116-103.

“For the talent that we have, obviously this is not where we want to be,” Thunder forward Paul George said. “But we’re going to remain optimistic, though, about the future and what we can do. Once we can find a way to really do it night in and night out, it’s no panic mode, but we have to start playing better. It’s getting to a point where we can’t allow ourselves to be at this point. We can say we’re going to figure it out, we can say all that. But at some point it’s gotta stop.”

Source: Royce Young of ESPN

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Sources: Lakers Ask Lavar Ball to Tone Down Public Criticisms

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The Los Angeles Lakers’ front office recently had a meeting with LaVar Ball, the outspoken father of rookie point guard Lonzo Ball, asking him to tone down some of his public criticisms of head coach Luke Walton and help create a more positive atmosphere around his son, sources told ESPN.

The meeting, which took place within the past few weeks, was called by Lakers president of basketball operations Magic Johnson and general manager Rob Pelinka.

LaVar Ball confirmed the meeting took place, telling ESPN, “It was the best thing, man. Everybody’s going to try to make it an ego thing, like I’m trying to tell them what to do or they’re trying to tell me to tone it down. It’s not about that. It’s about coming together and to get a solution to this problem.

Johnson and Pelinka declined to comment when asked about the meeting. A Lakers insider said the main message to Ball was that they’ve tried to keep their relationship positive, while still allowing him to speak his mind, and they’d prefer he did the same.

Source: Ramona Shelburne of ESPN

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Gregg Popovich: ‘I thought Kawhi was wonderful’ in Debut

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The discussion looked tense at first, but laughter from San Antonio Spurs coach Gregg Popovich belied the optics inside American Airlines Arena, especially when he walked away from a giggling Kawhi Leonard near the bench with 6:31 left in a 95-89 loss to the Mavericks.

“We were just talking about what was going on and if I was going to play more,” Leonard said. “We just had a little laugh.”

That accompanied a collective sigh of relief in San Antonio. Leonard played 16 minutes in his season debut Tuesday night after sitting out all of the preseason and each of the team’s 27 previous games while recovering from right quadriceps tendinopathy. Popovich pulled Leonard in the third quarter, after he had scored 13 points on 6 of 12 shooting to go with six rebounds, an assist, a steal and a block. Leonard finished as one of just five Spurs to end their nights with a positive plus-minus (8).

“I thought he was wonderful,” Popovich said. “He’s trying to get some rust off and that kind of thing. Obviously, he’s confident. He’s a heck of a player, and it was really frustrating for him to just start getting loose and have to come off the court.”

Source: Michael C. Wright of ESPN

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