1. Giannis may not be a Milwaukee lifer
Giannis Antetokounmpo was named GQ’s Athlete of the Year and one quote from the magazine’s interview piece may have stirred some uneasiness at the Deer District.
“One challenge was to bring a championship here, and we did,” he told GQ. “It was very hard, but we did. Very, very hard. I just love challenges. What’s the next challenge? The next challenge might not be here. Me and my family chose to stay in this city that we all love and has taken care of us—for now. In two years, that might change. I’m being totally honest with you. I’m always honest. I love this city. I love this community. I want to help as much as possible.”
You can interpret this a number of ways, but my take is that he is an ultra-competitive guy who needs new challenges to keep himself motivated. Michael Jordan retired the first time when he lost the motivation and the sense to prove something as a basketball player. Giannis appears to be cut from the same cloth, so maybe it’s not all that surprising.
What’s Giannis’s next challenge? There’s been no 4-peat since the 60s Celtics, so I guess he can start with that.
2. Sixers have a list of about 30 players for whom they would trade Ben Simmons
According to The Athletic’s Sam Amick, there are approximately 30 players who would satisfy the Sixers in a Simmons swap, including Damian Lillard, James Harden, and Bradley Beal. The Sixers internally believe that 5-10 could become available in the next year or two, and if waiting a full year or longer will give them a better chance to acquire one of them, they are willing to do that—which echoes Daryl Morey’s earlier message that “this is going to go a long time.”
a. That’s a big group of players. I previously assessed Ben as a top-40 player, so having 30 names on the trade board seems spot-on.
b. If there are 30 names there, then the fact that Simmons hasn’t been dealt suggests that the number of teams interested may be less than 5.
c. How is CJ McCollum not among those 30 names?
d. The more likely scenario is that Morey is holding out for an insane amount of draft picks in addition to the players on his wish list, which serves as a major stumbling block.
I can’t help but feel for Joel Embiid. The Sixers are basically saying that they’re willing to waste one to two years of his prime just so they can get better value for Simmons. Let’s be clear, the Sixers are not contenders with their current roster. Embiid has had an extensive injury history, so there’s no guarantee that he’ll still be the same player once the team finally finds a deal to their liking. Even if they manage to get Simmons to play, we know they’re not winning a title with him either, so what’s the point?
Also, Ben Simmons after reading the report:
3. Enes Kanter trolls LeBron
Celtics center Enes Kanter continued his beef with LeBron James when he wore a special pair of sneakers during the Celtics-Lakers game last night, as he continued to call out James for his stance on China.
Man, playing in those must be very uncomfortable!
LeBron responded after the game saying that Kanter is “not someone I would give my energy to. He’s trying to use my name to create an opportunity for himself. I definitely won’t comment too much on that.” He added that Kanter “had his opportunity tonight. I seen him in the hallway, and he walked right by me.” LeBron, however, didn’t address any of the China stuff that Kanter mentioned.
This seems to be the moment that LeBron was referring to, though it was definitely not in the hallway:
The insinuation from some quarters of social media seems to be that Kanter is scared of LeBron. Nah, I’m not buying the narrative because when LeBron tried to bully a 19-year-old rookie 4 years ago, Kanter got on his face and LeBron didn’t want any part of the big Turk:
Anyway, the Lakers got blown out (again), so Kanter got the last laugh.
4. LeBron once tried to get Michelle Beadle fired
There are only three sports personalities who I can mind meld with: Bill Simmons, Charles Barkley, and Michelle Beadle. BS because he captures why I’m a basketball fan, Chuck because we have identical politically incorrect views, and Beadle because she was a Spurs superfan. There are points of divergence with BS (he was too reverent with LeBron from 2012-2020) and Chuck (he thinks Kobe is a top 3 player of all time), but I’ve not had any with Beadle so far (maybe because she was off mainstream media the last couple of years).
She was my favorite ESPN anchor because (1) she actually knows sports and doesn’t just parrot what the producers tell her and (2) she’s genuine and doesn’t come off as a clout-chasing phony. Anyway, she revealed on her new podcast that LeBron tried to get her fired from ESPN because she made fun of the decision.
“He tried,” Beadle told Paul Pierce. “He did try, yep. He did try to do that. I was like, ‘Wow, I’m honored that I’m even on your mind. Thank you very much, sir. That’s a weird place for me to be.’ So, my stuff with him started out not personal. I made fun of ‘The Decision’ like 400,000 other talking heads did at the time, and I think for some reason, that was it. So, it wasn’t personal to begin with it. It’s obviously, now it will always be personal, but it is what it is.”
I like her even more now.
5. Staples Center to be renamed
The home of the NBA’s Lakers and Clippers and the NHL’s Kings will be known as Crypto.com Arena beginning on December 25 as part of a massive naming rights deal.
Vanessa Bryant reacted to the name change on IG:
That’s a touching tribute to her late husband. Unfortunately, it’s also false.
Staples Center opened in 1999 and the Lakers won the championship that same season. Guess who was the MVP that year? Shaq. The All-Star Game co-MVP? Shaq. The Finals MVP? Shaq. The Lakers would go on to win the next two titles in 2001 and 2002. Who was the Finals MVP in each of those years? Shaq.
Staples was founded on the Lakers’ three-peat; therefore, objectively speaking, it’s actually the house that Shaq built. Kobe was a crucial part of it, he was the lead foreman during the early years, but Shaq was the site engineer.
Kobe would go on to enrich the history of Staples with his 81-point game then bringing home two more championships without Shaq, but “building” something is different from adding to its legacy. It’s not even a question of who had a greater legacy—I’d gladly concede that Kobe was the greater Laker—it’s simply a function of time.
It’s a bit like how Steve Jobs built Apple but Tim Cook was the genius who took them to next level. Just keepin’ it real.
6. Throwback video of the week
November 3, 1999: The Lakers’ first ever regular season game at Staples, a 103-88 win over the Vancouver Grizzlies. Shaq goes for 28-10 and Glen Rice adds 17. Kobe was out due to a wrist injury.
I miss those days when players (and coaches) wore nice fancy suits when they’re not playing.