Cleveland Cavaliers Can Learn from Franchise’s Only Other Big Three

The NBA‘s next Big Three has assembled in Cleveland.

The Cavaliers have enjoyed an historic offseason, first locking up All-Star point guard Kyrie Irving to a five-year max extension. Not long after Irving signed, four-time MVP LeBron James decided to return to his former franchise.

Because two superstars just aren’t enough, the Cavs got greedy and completed a trade for Minnesota Timberwolves All-Star forward Kevin Love. He joins Irving and James in what has likely become the NBA’s best starting five.

While this is the greatest threesome of talent Cleveland has put together, it certainly isn’t the first.

Once upon a time (OK, the late 1980s), the Cavaliers assembled their original Big Three of Mark Price, Brad Daugherty and Larry Nance.

While the two groups are separated by 25 years and six inches of shorts length, there now becomes a unique bond between the Cavaliers’ superteams.

Taking a peek back while keeping an eye on the future, here’s what today’s Cavs trio can learn from yesterday’s stars.

 

The Original Big Three: Price, Daugherty and Nance

Heading into their 1987-88 season, the Cavaliers had made the playoffs just four times in the franchise’s 17 years.

While many successful players (Austin Carr, Bingo Smith, World B. Free) had already donned the wine and gold, all failed to turn the Cavs into a perennial playoff contender.

The 1986 draft helped change all that.

Cleveland came away that night with Daugherty, Price and Ron Harper in what should be considered the best draft in team history.

Daugherty was a star center from the beginning, collecting All-Rookie first team honors in 1987. Price took over the starting point guard job his second season, averaging 16.0 points and 6.0 assists per game.

The team was starting to take shape, yet needed one final push to propel them into the playoffs.

That push came in the form of a trade for power forward Larry Nance.

Cavs.com gives us further insight on the deal:

But perhaps it was the final acquisition of power forward Larry Nance that made the Cavaliers go from good to great and led to the most successful era in team history. On Feb. 25, 1988, Cleveland sent Kevin Johnson, Mark West, Tyrone Corbin, a first-round draft choice in 1988 and two second-round picks to Phoenix in exchange for Nance, Mike Sanders and Detroit’s first round pick in 1988.

Nance arrived with just 27 games left in the regular season, but quickly made his mark. A power dunker and elite shot-blocker, Nance combined with Price and Daugherty to lift Cleveland into the postseason for just the fifth time in 18 years.

What followed was the most successful run in franchise history. From 1988 to 1994, the Cavaliers made six trips to the playoffs, including an appearance in the 1991-92 Eastern Conference Finals. The only time Cleveland failed to reach the postseason was in 1990-91 when an ACL tear limited Price to just 16 games.

So what made this group so special and why would today’s Cavaliers want to study their success?

Take this quote from then Philadelphia 76ers head coach Fred Carter in a 1993 article by Harvey Araton of The New York Times: “They have no flair. They have no superstar. They have no swagger. They just come out and methodically get the job done.”

While this may have been viewed as one of the most backhanded compliments in sports history, it speaks volumes for the way those stars played together.

That night, Cleveland won its 12th straight game, at one time going on a 27-to-1 run that was described as “humiliating dominance”.

Price was a talented scorer but could also use the pick-and-roll to set up teammates as well as any guard in that era. Daugherty chipped in his share of scoring and rebounding but was also viewed as one of the best passing big men in the game. Nance regularly put up gaudy scoring numbers, yet was also a three-time member of the NBA’s All-Defense Team.

The point being, each of Cleveland’s star players didn’t just focus on one area; they excelled in many.

If Price’s shot wasn’t falling, he knew Daugherty and Nance could make up the offense themselves. If Daugherty got into foul trouble, Nance could slide over and protect the rim in his place. This was a group that not only meshed their own talents together, but were willing to do whatever was best for the team.

Despite heartbreaking losses to Michael Jordan and the Chicago Bulls year after year, Cleveland’s trio would routinely come back stronger the next season.

While they may have never taken home a championship, Price, Daugherty and Nance will forever be remembered in Cavaliers lore.

 

The New Big Three: LeBron, Love and Irving

In this era, the level of athleticism and talent has been raised.

It’s pretty safe to say that James, Love and Irving should be better than Price, Daugherty and Nance. While the three of them made All-Star teams, none were considered the best at their positions like James and Love are now, and Irving could one day be.

After all, James is the best player in the game today and should go down as one of the greatest of all time. Love is putting up numbers from the power forward position that we’ve never seen before with his combination of scoring, rebounding and outside shooting. Irving is just 22, yet has already been named MVP of the 2014 All-Star Game and FIBA World Cup.

On paper, this year’s group should be far more successful. After all, they have three superstars instead of none. The flair and swagger missing before should most definitely make an appearance now.

So why bother studying the boys of the late ’80s and early ’90s?

They did everything stars should do together but is rarely replicated today: Working together for the greater good.

Price, Daugherty and Nance fit together so seamlessly that it didn’t matter who Cleveland placed around them. They shared the ball, played defense, hustled and rebounded as well as any trio in the league. They took pride in assists, not just the baskets that followed.

James, Love and Irving need to put an emphasis on the same elements of the game.

They also need to be just as unselfish as the original trio was. There are going to be nights where Love or Irving may not crack a dozen points given all the scorers around them. Will they be OK sacrificing personal stats for the betterment of the team?

Irving claimed this summer while playing for Team USA that he’s “all about winning,” via Sekou Smith of NBA.com, and doesn’t seem too upset about handing leadership duties over to James.

When talking about overlapping skill sets, James, Love and Irving should do just fine. All three are adept at scoring, having finished in the top 14 of the league. While they can’t match Love’s rebounding prowess, both Irving and James can serve as primary ball-handler and playmaker.

Cleveland’s new Big Three has the skill necessary to go above and beyond anything the original could achieve together, with a championship now locked in their sights.

Having taken lessons from those who came before them, James, Love and Irving could accomplish just that.

 

Greg Swartz has covered the Cleveland Cavaliers for Bleacher Report since 2010. Connect with him on Twitter for more basketball news and conversation.

All stats provided by Basketball-Reference.com unless otherwise noted.

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Kevin Love Trade Alters Rebuilding Plans of NBA Flagship Franchises

Kevin Love‘s relocation affects more than just the Cleveland Cavaliers and Minnesota Timberwolves.

When the trade that Yahoo Sports’ Adrian Wojnarowski says will become official actually is official, it will leave a trail of disappointed and slighted parties that is far longer than two teams. 

At least three more clubs will be impacted by Love joining LeBron James and Kyrie Irving in Cleveland, probably more. But three of them are especially noteworthy in that they’re flagship franchises, all transitioning, all rebuilding at the same time: the Boston Celtics, Los Angeles Lakers and New York Knicks.

Rare is the time when three such esteemed organizations are pining for better days together. Even rarer is the time their fate—even if only part of it—is manipulated by the same player none of them have. 

 

Boston Celtics

Of the three, Boston’s rebuild is the one most loosely tied to Love’s Minnesota exit.

Or maybe not.

Unlike the Lakers and Knicks, the Celtics were considered legitimate trade suitors, armed with enough draft picks and young talent—though mostly just the draft picks—to wedge their way into the expansive conversation.

Talks between the Celtics and Timberwolves appeared to cool following the NBA draft, but they gained serious traction ahead of it. So much so that Steve Bulpett of the Boston Herald (via NBC Sports’ Dan Feldman) indicated the Celtics were Love-or-bust: 

If the Celtics cannot get Love, they are planning to continue with the longer and more methodical rebuilding process, a process that would likely see Rajon Rondo traded. (An NBA source said they would also have a taker for Jeff Green if they chose to move him.)

With Love heading to Cleveland, the Celtics are free to continue their conventional rebuilding efforts by bidding adieu to Rajon Rondo and his expiring contract. Not that they will, or that they weren’t free to do so before. 

Drafting Marcus Smart and re-signing Avery Bradley were moves some saw as writing on the wall. Factor in former Celtics player and current analyst Cedric Maxwell saying Rondo is seeking a max contract, per WEEI.com’s Ben Rohrbach, and the groundwork for his departure has already been laid.

Little of this would have to do with Love. If the Celtics trade or inevitably part ways with Rondo, he won’t be the lone reason. But in the event Rondo leaves as Boston continues laboring through a protracted restructuring period, Love can be remembered as the last hope that didn’t pan out.

Had the Celtics acquired him, their rebuild would have been effectively over. Pairing him with a pass-first, All-Star point guard like Rondo—who is, in fact, an upgrade over Ricky Rubio at the moment—would have vaulted the Celtics back into playoff contention.

Attentions could have turned to assembling a strong supporting cast around two stars. Perhaps president of basketball operations Danny Ainge would have began lusting after a third one. 

Whatever happened, the end result would have come in quicker fashion. Instead, the Celtics and their fans are left wondering “What if?”—likely for years to come.

 

New York Knicks

Phil Jackson is going to be so upset—assuming, of course, the Zen Master is familiar with that emotion.

New York had no chance of acquiring Love via trade. None. Zip. Zilch. Zero.

But according to Chris Herring of The Wall Street Journal, obvious inability didn’t stop the Knicks from trying. Jackson apparently dangled a “Hey! We had to try!” package built around Iman Shumpert, Tim Hardaway Jr. and Amar’e Stoudemire in front of Minnesota. 

Reaction to said proposal was mixed. OK, fine; it was pretty one-sided—a side NBC Sports’ Brett Pollakoff excellently encapsulated:

Phil Jackson is aged, but he’s not yet delusional.

He knew that New York had little chance of appealing to the Timberwolves here, and nothing would make the Knicks more immediately ready to build some semblance of a decent team than to unload the uninsurable final year of Stoudemire’s deal in trade; getting an All-Star back in exchange for doing so is so far beyond the realm of possibility that Jackson likely couldn’t get through pitching such a proposal with a straight face.

New York’s market size will always have the Knicks at least initially in the conversation to land All-Stars like Love. But until the team can assemble some legitimate assets, most stars are going to pass up the bright lights for a more readily available winning situation.

The Knicks were never going to acquire Love by trade. Their proposal was only noteworthy because of who they are and what they plan to do: sign another star next summer, as Sporting News’ Sean Deveney reminded us once Carmelo Anthony’s return became official.

Free agency was always their best chance at acquiring Love, and Marc Berman of the New York Post confirmed they were definitely interested. Like Wojnarowski‘s report alleges, though, Love has assured the Cavaliers of his return, rendering his impending free-agency status a mere formality.

Pundits and fans and anyone else with a vested interest in the Knicks’ long-term plans can argue whether or not Love would be a good fit next to Anthony until kingdom come. But the fact is, Anthony seems to be preparing for a move back to small forward, and a playmaking big man is one element of Jackson’s famed triangle offense—which the team is expected to run—that the Knicks sorely lack.

Love is exactly that. He could have played center or power forward within the Knicks’ new system, all while giving Anthony the superstar comrade he doesn’t yet have.

The list of star free agents isn’t nearly as impressive after him. The Knicks could give chase to Marc Gasol, LaMarcus Aldridge, Paul Millsap, Al Jefferson or Goran Dragic, among others, but none of the remaining talent compares to Love.

One way or another, the Knicks are forced to regroup—even if that only means operating under the assumption that there will be one less superstar ripe for the poaching in 2015.

 

Los Angeles Lakers

That Love won’t be parading through Staples Center draped in purple-and-gold attire is huge for the Lakers.

In a bad way.

Love and the Lakers were supposed to sync up in the eyes of so many. One anonymous general manager told ESPN Insider Chris Broussard (subscription required) that their future marriage was a “100 percent certainty.” 

Now it feels like they’re divorced, even though they were never joined in holy basketball matrimony. Worse still, the Lakers and their fans are forced to accept a new reality, per USA Today‘s Mark Whicker:

The latest destiny’s child was supposed to be Kevin Love. From the moment he expressed weariness with Minnesota, Lakers fans nodded their heads expectantly. Let’s see –- win the lottery, draft Andrew Wiggins or Jabari Parker, get Kobe Bryant rolling again, and trade whomever’s left for Love and sign him. How could Kevin Durant or any future legend resist that? …

There are roadblocks, but the trade reaffirms an important point about Tiffany free agents. It is not where they want to play. It is with whom they want to play.

The absence of a superstar in his prime has always been a deterrent for the Lakers, who are trying to expedite their rebuilding process. Kobe Bryant isn’t a selling point on his last legs. Neither is anyone else on the roster. 

Cap space is all the Lakers will have next summer. If they wish to build a powerhouse, they’ll need an initial domino to fall.

Said domino could have been Love. He would be only 26 upon entering free agency. He attended UCLA. He was born in Santa Monica. The opportunity to headline and revive the Lakers would hopefully appeal to him. And if he came, others—like Kevin Durant in 2016—might, too.

Perhaps that’s true. Maybe Love could have been seduced by the Lakers’ allure. Maybe additional stars would have even followed his lead, instantly or in due time. It doesn’t appear to matter now. Things would have to go real bad, real quick with the Cavaliers for him to desert James for a transitioning faction in Los Angeles.

Similar to the Knicks, this leaves the Lakers to look elsewhere, where they could find Gasol and Aldridge and Rondo and Dragic and maybe even Greg Monroe or Eric Bledsoe, depending on how their restricted-free-agency situations play out. 

Any one or two of them would be stellar choices and solid acquisitions. They just aren’t Love, nor are they guaranteed to give the Loveless Lakers a second look. 

Gasol will be 30 when he enters free agency. So will Jefferson. Rondo will be 29. Aldridge himself will turn 30 next July. Of all the available stars, no one is young enough or better suited to anchor a franchise for the next five-plus years than Love, so you can understand any interest the Lakers, Knicks, Celtics and various suitors would show.

“No matter what the outcome is, I just want to end up in a great place where I can win,” Love said while on ESPN’s SportsNation July (via ESPN.com). “At the end of the day, I’ve played six years, haven’t made the playoffs yet, that burns me and hurts my heart, so I really want to be playing.”

Los Angeles could have been his next destination. Boston, too. Even New York. But Love will most likely be taking his fortune-turning abilities to Cleveland, forcing prominent restoration projects to adjust their plans—whatever they may be—to account for his premature departure from the Land of Possibility.

 

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Miami Heat Big 3 Once Again Hold Unique Power to Shape Franchise’s Future

MIAMI  During his pre-offseason press conference on June 19, Pat Riley was asked about the preferred methods to retain his stable of superstars, three players with a combined seven championships and 29 All-Star appearances. That’s when some other trios, and a duo, rolled off the Heat‘s president tongue, where clearly he’d had them teed up. 

“Whatever they want to do,” Riley said of LeBron James, Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh. “However we can keep those guys together, OK? However we can keep those guys together. (Larry) Bird, (Kevin) McHale, (Robert) Parish, together. (James) Worthy, (Magic) Johnson, (Kareem) Abdul-Jabbar, together. (Michael) Jordan, (Scottie) Pippen and Horace Grant or another, together…”

That other, for the Bulls‘ second run of three championships, was Dennis Rodman.

“(Tim) Duncan, (Manu) Ginobili, (Tony) Parker, together,” Riley continued. “OK? Shaq and Kobe (Bryant), together. Shaq and, oh, excuse me, Kobe and (Pau) Gasol and another together.”

That other was Lamar Odom, even if the core of that Lakers‘ squad wasn’t together that long.

“Whatever it takes to keep them together, we’re ready for,” Riley continued. “That’s our objective. That’s my push to them. All of those guys stayed together and in their worst moments, and I just mentioned to you a number of times that they lost, they just allowed management to retool, let’s bring this back together, this doesn’t happen often, and let’s stay here and let’s try to keep this thing going.”

There’s something else, though, that Riley didn’t say, something that separates this Heat trio from so many of their predecessors, something that should serve as a meaningful part of their legacy, especially if they stay together long enough for history to classify them as a collective.

It’s something that has the potential to aid, or perhaps even undermine, Riley in his efforts to retain all of themrendering him more of a spectator than he has been portrayed, in this space as well as others. 

It’s something that wasn’t supposed to be possible in the modern NBA age, especially after the owners slammed through a new collective bargaining agreement intended, at least in part, to limit labor’s influenceand specifically on the top players’ ability to construct and maintain superteams

It’s something called control.

It’s rather remarkable how much influence James, Bosh and Wade still holdreinforced by Sunday’s ESPN report that they are continuing to consult with each other about contractual details and how to best facilitate Riley’s roster retool. 

In this sense, they continue to change the game as much off the court as on. But perhaps we shouldn’t be surprised. Sure, none came to the NBA with a collegiate degree, with James skipping entirely, Wade leaving Marquette early (after being academically ineligible as a freshman) and Bosh leaving Georgia Tech after a single season.

Perhaps that’s why, at times, they may still be underestimated.

But they shouldn’t be.

Each has already made two intelligent decisions, one that brought them together (signing contracts that expired in 2010), and one that could potentially split them apart (getting early termination options so they could explore the landscape in 2014). 

Each has shown an adventurous, pioneering spirit, unwilling to let others’ expectations define them. 

James has booked meetings with Warren Buffett and Bill Gates, invested in English soccer and hip-hop headphones and, above all, broken the representation mode by empowering and trusting his closest hometown friends. Wade has linked his name to ties and socks, luxury watches and Chinese shoes, while acting as an ultra-active overseer at his annual Brand Wade conference. Bosh knows no borders with his interests, whether serving as a hoop ambassador to India, tinkering in video production, promoting computer coding to kids, or speed-learning Spanish. 

They are unique personalities, not only from each other, but from their contemporaries, and, since 2010, their on-court partnership has been invariably interesting, mostly exhilarating and occasionally disappointing, notably when they stumbled in the 2011 and 2014 NBA Finals. 

Their off-court partnership has been even more fascinating, and never moreso than now.

They’ve again positioned themselves to do something that their notable predecessors generally did not: dictating rather than deferring, when it comes to where, and with whom, they play. Sure, Magic Johnson forced a coaching switchto Riley, as it happens. Yes, Shaquille O’Neal exercised his 1996 free-agent status to set up the star pairing with Kobe Bryant, the same summer that Michael Jordan flirted with the Knicks. But, for all of the dynasties and mini-dynasties that Riley mentioned in his aforementioned riff, there was a greater dependence on management to compose the roster and initiate significant change.

The most those players really did was endorse an addition, such as when the Celtics of the mid-1980s encouraged Red Auerbach to add Bill Walton before the Lakers did. Even Michael Jordan and Scottie Pippen, one of the most powerful duos of all, held little sway over their general manager. First, Jerry Krause traded Jordan’s friend Charles Oakley for Bill Cartwright; later, he refused to renegotiate Pippen’s contract because he was saving the money for a European prodigy named Toni Kukoc

Those superteams should be credited for some of the NBA’s revenue growth, even as compared to inflation. When the NBA reintroduced the salary cap in 1984-85 after four decades of “free” spending, the figure was just $3.6 million. Now the NBA’s average salary is more than $5 million. But as much as that spike may have given players more of a cushion to make financial “sacrifices,” they have also been faced with restrictions, including maximums on individual salaries (Jordan made 70 percent of his career $90 million in earnings in just two seasons) and more punitive luxury taxes. 

The owners essentially left just one loophole, but it’s not one that athletes in our society would be expected to explore, let alone exploit: the willingness to work for less, at least per annum, to accomplish more. We’ve been conditioned not to expect this, even as we claim to admire it. 

For the past few decades, since Curt Flood, Spencer Haywood and others took stands to change their sports, many have railed against the “selfish” sports star, the man who puts self before team, net worth before winning. Many have celebrated the rare exemplary athlete, such as the San Antonio Spurs‘ Tim Duncan, who signs for significantly less than he could command on the open market because he feels an allegiance to an area and an organization. James and Bosh can never be Duncan, in the sense of staying with one franchise for the course of their careers. But it is odd that they, as well as Wade and Udonis Haslem, experienced backlash in 2010 when they accepted less than the maximum, andbased on social mediawill experience it again if they reduce their cap numbers to “stack” their team. 

An athlete is supposed to find every edge, within the rules, in every way he can.

That’s what Bird, Parish and McHale; Johnson, Abdul-Jabbar and Worthy; and Jordan, Pippen and, as Riley put it, “some other” did on the court. But that’s also what Duncan, Parker and Ginobili have done off the court, with their team friendly contracts, the ones that so many celebrate, the ones that are necessary to compete year after year in the current age. 

That’s what James, Wade and Bosh can decide to do again now, after each took the significant step of opting out.

“It’s not something where I’m going to get in a room and get down on my knees,” Riley said of their decisions. “I wouldn’t do that to a player. It’s a voluntary thing on his part. It’s going to have to be something that he’s going to say, ‘Hey, I want to do this, because of that.’ We’ll take them right the way they are.”

He’s not in position to take the control they’ve earned.

He can only hope to benefit from it. 

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Iconic NBA Franchises That Have Fallen on Hard Times

The more things change, the more they stay the same…unless they actually do change. Such are the fortunes of some iconic NBA franchises which have fallen on hard times over the last few years.

These teams were once perennial contenders, and now they’re ranging from also-rans to not-even-rans to in the running for the most lottery balls.

For some of them, the light at the end of the tunnel isn’t far off. For others, they could very well be in the lottery five years from now.

Here are the teams, ranked according to how far the mighty have fallen. Where they started, where they are now, and how far they have to go to regain past glory all factored in.

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Chauncey Billups buys 30 Wendy’s franchises

(Credit: Sports Illustrated) At 37, former NBA stud Chauncey Billups’ career is nearing its end. He will play for the Detroit Pistons this season, but Mr. Big Shot will be riding off into the sunset soon. Given that many athletes make poor money management decisions and are rarely prepared to generate income after they retire, Billups has teamed up with former NBA player Junior Bridgeman to purchase 30 Wendy’s restaurants Bridgeman is currently the second leading Wendy’s franchise owner, with 196 restaurants under his belt. His experience in the industry will be invaluable to Billup’s after basketball investment. The two will assist in Wendy’s as the chain looks to re-brand itself, with new logos, marketing, promotion, etc. I have to say this might not be the most glamorous business venture we’ve seen from former high-profile ballers, it looks like a safe one. Kudos to Billups, now he won’t end up on the next 30 for 30 about professional athletes that found a way to squander millions and end u

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Oklahoma City’s Kevin Durant Is Every Franchise’s Dream Superstar

Superstars in the NBA are all incredibly gifted athletes with the ability to take over games and orchestrate success for a team that is rarely experienced without the influence of such star players. Some even have the capability of completely altering the direction of a franchise by pushing their team to the brink of a championship and resurrecting the organization past the point of mere relevance.

However, no two superstars are ever the same, and often the differences can be seen by what they offer outside of the realm of pure success on the court. 

Kevin Durant is an electrifying player with ice flowing through his veins, one who is able to score at will and who often makes even the best defenders appear to be completely at a loss in every attempt to slow him down. Durant averaged 28.1 points, 7.9 rebounds, 4.6 assists, 1.4 steals and 1.3 blocks while effectively impacting the game at both ends of the floor this season. 

He also connected on 51 percent of his shots, 41.6 percent from behind the three-point line and 90.5 percent of his free throws, becoming only the sixth player in NBA history to join the 50-40-90 club alongside the likes of Larry Bird and Dirk Nowitzki.

Although it is widely accepted that LeBron James is the best player in the NBA today, Kevin Durant has shown on the court that he too is capable of outperforming almost every other player in the league. 

At the young age of 24, Durant has become the face of the Oklahoma City Thunder and is rapidly pushing his team toward the possibility of capturing its first title since 1979 when the team was still the Seattle SuperSonics. However, it is more than just Durant’s incredible talent on the court that makes most franchises pine over the idea of attaining a player of his caliber.

Kevin Durant is an incredible leader who leaves everything on the floor in an attempt to elevate his game and his teammates’ to a level capable of bringing a championship home to Oklahoma City. After losing Russell Westbrook in the playoffs this season, Durant exemplified this leadership role by doing everything possible in an attempt to will the Thunder past the Memphis Grizzlies, but he and his team were unable to play well enough to save their postseason. 

However, Durant stood as the leader of the team while taking full responsibility, even after a Game 2 loss in which he scored 34 points on 50.6 percent shooting, pulled down 10.6 rebounds and recorded 6.1 assists, by stating in interviews with ESPN that he could have done a lot more for his team.

His loyalty to his team on the court and ability to lead at such a young age is extremely impressive, but his humility puts him in a class of his own. 

NBA stars signing their first big deal often find their way into the media during the contract negotiation process or grandly announce their newfound wealth once a deal is reached. However, Durant took a different approach after signing an extension with the team that drafted him. Three years ago, as LeBron James prepared for his TV program The Decision, Durant took to Twitter to announce that he would be remaining with the Oklahoma City Thunder for another five years, in less than the 140-character limit. 

In fact, over the last six years the only thing that fans have heard from Durant is that he loves his team, his teammates and the community which he now calls his home.

Over the last week we have all been reminded of just how much Durant loves his community, as he responded generously to the victims of the recent Oklahoma tornado with support in many different ways. According to the Associated Press (via ESPN.com), Durant quickly got the funds together to make a $1 million donation to the American Red Cross to support their efforts in aiding those affected by the deadly storm, however it could be used. 

Most athletes wouldn’t even go this far, but Durant went further by stepping out with the Red Cross to help comfort those who have lost so much. According to Brett Pollakoff of NBC Sports, Durant reached out to Nike for further assistance, and the company responded with $1 million in clothing for those who lost everything in the tornado as well as a special edition of the KD V basketball shoe that’s profits would go toward the relief funds. 

Kevin Durant has shown time and time again that he is not only an elite basketball player but also a humble, generous and inspirational leader on and off the court. He may not currently be the best player in the NBA, but he certainly is a great man deserving of all the praise he has received from fans around the world.

I have no doubt that one day he will lead his team to an NBA championship, but for now it is clear that he has become a role model to many and the fitting image of the perfect face of a franchise. 

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Potential 2013 Free-Agent Disasters That Could Cripple NBA Franchises

The 2012-13 NBA season is officially winding down, which means we’re inching closer and closer to free agency.

For some teams, free agency is a time to improve. But for others, it’s a time to avoid losing one of their best assets.

Some teams have a lot to gain, while others are avoiding catastrophe. It’s tough to predict where each player will land, but while some teams will stay intact, others will worry about what comes next.

 

Note: All salary info was collected from HoopsHype.

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Ranking 2013 LA Clippers Among Franchise’s 5 Most Star-Studded Teams

Throughout the franchise’s history, there have been numerous disappointing teams, perhaps more than most in league history. Although they have been neglected multiple times by the media, there have been plenty of star-studded, very talented Los Angeles Clipper teams.

Which season’s team is the most talented is a highly challenging debate, especially considering the last two seasons. The Clippers have never won a title, but that does not mean that some of the teams on this list did not disappoint. The real question is how the past teams stack up against the 2012-13 team, arguably, one of the best teams in Clippers history.

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Most Consistent NBA Franchises in Recent Memory

When the San Antonio Spurs defeated the Dallas Mavericks on March 14, Tim Duncan and Co. officially punched their postseason tickets for the 16th straight season. Before long, “a Spurs playoff berth” will be joining death and taxes in the hierarchy of life’s most predictable certainties.

But the Spurs aren’t the only NBA club that has enjoyed consistent success in recent years.

As a matter of fact, in looking at the steadiest teams of the past two decades, it turns out that four different franchises have put together consecutive playoff-appearance streaks of at least seven seasons.

With free agency, injuries and luck all conspiring to trip up the league’s most consistent organizations, a few have stayed the course better than most, leading to plenty of postseason appearances and even some NBA championship trophies.

As we go through the most consistent franchises in recent memory, keep in mind the following: “Recent memory,” for our purposes, means the past 20 years. Also note that NBA titles don’t necessarily determine consistency. Instead, we’re out to reward sustained performance over the relevant time period.

Like a Steve Nash free throw or a Rasheed Wallace blowup after a bad call, predictable outcomes are key here. Now, let’s get consistent!

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The Best Player in Each NBA Franchise’s History

Each NBA franchise has had several exceptionally talented basketball players pass through its locker room, though only one stands above the rest as the greatest player in the history of the franchise.

For some teams, like the Lakers and Celtics, there are several legends who must be considered for the prestigious title of “Greatest Player in the History of the Franchise,” while younger teams like the Memphis Grizzlies and Charlotte Bobcats have less of a history and a smaller talent pool to draw upon.

Inherent in determining a team’s greatest player is the challenge of comparing athletes from different generations. Should we evaluate players based upon the competition they faced or project how athletes from previous generations would stack up against the bigger, faster and more athletic players of today?

I weighed players’ productivity based on the era they played in, as well as their longevity with the team. I also considered the players’ contribution to the team’s success, as well as their individual numbers and accolades.

Here are the best players in the history of each NBA franchise.

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