It's Monday and that means a dose of the latest news from around the NBA. In case you missed last week's installment, it's right here. If you're caught up and ready to go, here's the hottest from around the Association!
Bryant Recovery Ahead of Schedule, Expected to Return for Last Year's Playoffs
Kobe Bryant and agent Rob Pelinka called a press conference on Sunday night to announce that Bryant's recovery from an Achilles Tendon tear is proceeding ahead of schedule. The All-Star guard projects himself at full health within three weeks and expects to be in uniform for the Los Angeles Lakers first-round series versus the San Antonio Spurs in the 2013 NBA Playoffs. After a prepared statement, Bryant fielded questions from reporters.
"Feels good. Feels good. I'm not 100 percent yet but I'm closer. I feel confident. I'll be ready when the time comes...or came. Thanks to Doc W., of course."
When asked how he could return for a playoff series which had already happened--indeed which ended almost six months ago-- Bryant turned the floor over to Doctor Siegfried Wundermensch, Director of the Sports-Athletic Recovery Institute of Stuttgart. Doctor Wundermensch explained:
"You are familiar with our treatment procedure for this kind of injury, yes? We remove blood from the patient, purify it, add some recuperative cells, then re-infuse the affected area. Well, in the process of treating Kobe we discovered that if the centrifuge spins fast enough during purification, you create a space-time vortex. It is very much like your American...what do you call the show mit dem Raumschiff? Rob? Ah yes...like your American Star Trek. So we can both heal Kobe then shove him through the vortex to arrive in time for his last playoff contest."
"Kobe is a remarkable athlete," interjected Pelinka. "He's broken boundaries and barriers all throughout his career. This is just one more 'first' for the record books."
"Absolutely. And tell the Spurs this time it's going to be different," Bryant offered.
When reminded that returning to April of 2013 would break the space-time barrier, violate several laws of physics, and would mean teaming up with Dwight Howard again, Kobe paused.
"I...um...yeah obviously that's a problem. Let's go back to a time after Shaq but before Dwight. It'll work out the same, right?"
Bryant tore his Achilles in an April 12th contest against the Golden State Warriors.
Nader Threatens Action Against NBA for "Non-Competitve Product"
Consumer advocate Ralph Nader threatened legal action against the National Basketball Association in a three-hour-long meeting with NBA Deputy Commissioner Adam Silver on Saturday morning. Ensconced in Silver's 5th Avenue Manhattan office, Nader and a team of attorneys presented evidence they claimed as proof of "non-competition" among several NBA teams.
Speaking on condition of anonymity, a league staffer summarized Nader's point. "He wanted us to know he was watching, as a concerned party and an advocate for basketball fans. He felt teams were maybe not trying their hardest to be competitive. Silver didn't agree, but he listened. It's a hard perception to overcome."
Nader's last public criticism of the NBA came in 2002 following the a Western Conference Finals series in which the Los Angeles Lakers emerged from a 2-3 deficit to defeat the Sacramento Kings. Games 6 and 7 of that series featured multiple foul calls in favor of L.A., prompting a national outcry from pundits and fans and a letter penned to Commissioner David Stern from Nader. This time Nader went a step further, visiting Silver personally and bringing along examples on video tape.
The anonymous league official elaborated on that evidence. "He just kept showing clips of Jazz games, over and over. Silver explained that not every franchise could field a playoff-capable lineup every year. It goes up and down...cycles. Somebody's going to stink, you know? But then Nader showed this one clip from the Jazz-Spurs game, the one where Utah lost by 20. I'll never forget it. 1:28 to go in the third quarter, Spurs have the ball. 'Look, Adam,' Nader says, 'It's right there. Belinelli has the ball on the right sideline. He dribbles to the hoop and lays it in. He lays it in, Adam. Marco Belinelli just scored on a drive. Explain how that happens! We can rewind it as many times as you want. I've got all day.'"
The source reported that Deputy Commissioner Silver turned ashen white [ed: ashen whiter], uttered, "My God" and motioned towards an aide. "Get me [Utah Jazz owner Greg] Miller on the phone! We'll get to the bottom of this." Whether Silver actually got through to Miller or what, if anything, was exchanged between the two remains unknown at this time.
When contacted for comment Nader said, "I don't think I need to say any more now. The NBA sees the issue here. I think they'll move to correct it."
Nets Players: Gilded Basketballs Improve Shooting Percentage
Brooklyn Nets players are buzzing about the newest development at their practice facility: gold-lined basketballs. Nets Equipment Manager Joseph Cuomo explains.
"They're like the regular balls except the grooves where the grips are, they're lined with 24-karat pure gold. It adds a little weight but pump them with helium and it all works out the same."
Nets guard Jason Terry, a 14-year NBA veteran, praised the accuracy of the new balls. "The gold glints off of the lights so you can see the spin of the ball clearer. It glimmers."
"It glimmers nice," said teammate Kevin Garnett. "Just wish they'd let us use them in games now."
The ball has not been approved for use in regulation NBA contests but that hasn't stopped the Nets from ordering multiple cases for practices, both at home and on the road. The precious metal balls are one of the "Inausterity Measures" that new Nets owner Mikhail Prokhorov has instituted since taking control of the franchise.
Garnett continued, "It's first class here. First class. You haven't really tasted Gatorade until you've sipped it from a Fabergé egg. Our water boys ride Segways. The uniforms are made out of Peruvian Chinchilla so there's no chafing. Our team plane? It's the space shuttle man! There ain't no holding us back. When the Nets walk in the house, you know it!"
When asked whether these measures might be a tad ostentatious, Prokhorov replied, "American basketball league is like American woman. You spend a lot of money and she give you anything you want."
According to a high-ranking official of a rival Eastern Conference team, other NBA owners have a love-hate relationship with Brooklyn's tactics. "They don't like him driving up contract prices, that's for sure. Honestly half the owners are laughing at him behind closed doors. But you've got to love the guy, and it ain't just the luxury tax spillover. By the time the next Collective Bargaining Agreement gets negotiated 29 out of 30 NBA teams will be turning a profit. But because of Brooklyn the owners will still be able to claim that, on average, they're losing money! You can't buy that kind of bargaining power. Well, you can, but you don't have to because he does it for you."
Despite the misgivings of fellow owners, Prokhorov knows he's playing to an exclusive audience of 15. "Whatever it takes to get the best players, we will do." If the gilded glimmers reflecting off the Nets' practice floor are any indication, their star-studded $102,000,000 payroll is just the beginning.
"I'd like to talk to you more about it," said Terry on his way out the door, "But us old guys have to get our whirlpool soak in. If you think water eases the joints, wait until you've soaked in Dom Perignon. I heard the Knicks use Rose, but we're swirling up Jeroboam, my man. Stayin' thirsty and loose at the same time...Brooklyn for life!"
And that's the news for this week. More to come as the season progresses.