1. Interaction between fans and players is a ticking timebomb
There’s been a lot of negative interaction between players and fans this year, with Jusuf Nurkic recently being fined $40,000 for confronting a Pacers fan and throwing the fan’s phone.
According to Chris Haynes, the fan made derogatory comments about Nurkic’s family.
Also this week, Devin Booker called a Minnesota fan the p-word.
Just last week, Russell Westbrook confronted another fan from the Twin Cities for calling him “Westbrick.”
Earlier this month, the Suns’ JaVale McGee exchanged f-bombs with a fan in Orlando, which ultimately led to the fan’s ejection.
Who could forget LeBron James LeSnitching on two Indiana fans back in November?
I’m all for good old-fashioned trash talking, but the pattern of behavior this season should alert the league that another Malice in the Palace could be brewing. Two of the incidents were in Minnesota, and it seems that with the Wolves back in playoff contention, both the fans and locker room are embracing Pat Beverley’s attitude.
This is a dangerous recipe.
Here’s my theory why the fans have been extra chirpy this year: All the frustration from being excluded in the 2020 bubble is boiling up. Last year, they were just happy to be back, but it’s been different this season. The fans are part and parcel of NBA games and they see themselves as that. There’s a difference between those who just watch on TV and local fans who religiously attend games. I think that for the latter, going to games is a cathartic experience, and the NBA’s decision to continue without fans during the 2020 asterisk season created this pent-up anger for some of the fanbases.
2. Zion is looking good
Zion Williamson looks to be progressing well with his rehab and posted a video of himself slamming one home:
In case you didn’t catch it, that was an off-the-backboard J-Rich dunk.
With barely two weeks left in the regular season, it’s highly unlikely that Williamson plays at all. But it’s satisfying to see that he still has his bounce.
3. Ja’s dunk contest demand
If Zion continues his recovery, could we see him and rival Ja Morant compete in the dunk contest at Salt Lake City next year? Probably not, because Morant has set an impossible condition: a billion “likes” on social media.
The most liked Instagram photo of all-time is the Photo of an Egg, which has received 55.8 million likes. The most popular athlete on IG is Cristiano Ronaldo with 417 million followers. So a billion is definitely not happening.
4. LeBron sweeps the Razzies
LeBron has surely done something Michael Jordan never did. He achieved the triple crown at the infamous Razzie Awards.
LeBron earned the dishonorable achievement of being named the worst actor for his performance in Space Jam: A New Legacy. He also shared the Razzie for worst screen combo with together with his toon co-stars, while A New Legacy also took home the worst prequel, remake, rip-off or sequel Razzie.
He joins Dennis Rodman as the most Razzie-decorated NBA player. The Worm earned three for the 1997 movie Double Team with Mickey Rourke and Jean-Claude van Damme. But LeBron takes the tiebreaker because A New Legacy was also nominated for worst picture.
Jordan’s original Space Jam was by no means a masterpiece (44% at Rotten Tomatoes and 59 at Metacritic), but LeBron’s unwanted sequel was just incorrigibly bad—just like LeBron’s real-life team.
5. Saint Peter’s Peacocks is a Cinderella story for the ages
Saint Peter’s University, a small Jesuit school in New Jersey with a total enrolment of around 3,000 students, continued its Cinderella run at the Big Dance by stunning Purdue at the Sweet Sixteen.
The Peacocks are the first 15-seed to advance to the Elite Eight of the March Madness tournament. Just to give some context on how improbable their run has been, consider these:
• They were 12-11 on Feb. 20 and weren’t even on the NCAA bubble radar.
• They beat second-seeded Kentucky in OT; dominated Murray State, the team with the best record in college basketball; and stunned Purdue, which spent some time this year as the No. 1 team led by projected top-4 pick Jaden Ivey.
• Their most recognizable player is named Doug (Edart), who looks like the scion of James Franco’s character from HBO’s 70’s porn drama The Deuce.
Up next for Saint Peter’s ‘Cocks: an Elite Eight date with another one of college basketball’s bluebloods, North Carolina. If they get past UNC, they could face the retiring Coach K’s Blue Devils in the Final Four.
6. Throwback video of the week
Jamal Crawford officially announced his retirement this week, and we’re proud to get his Twitter like on our post that named him to the All-Time Off-Season Team. Here’s a throwback to his career-high 52 points 15 years ago, the second of four 50-point games for his career.