12

No mistake about it: Mystics are headed to first WNBA Finals

It took 20 years, but they are the star-crossed Mystics no more. Washington is going to the WNBA Finals for the first time, thanks to resilience, persistence and — finally — some good breaks going their way.

The Mystics beat the Dream 86-81 in Game 5 of their semifinal series Tuesday at McCamish Pavilion. When they left this building a week ago after a Game 2 loss, the Mystics were feeling upset and worried. Elena Delle Donne had injured her left knee late in that game, and it was hard not to fear the worst.cheap nfl nike jersey

But Tuesday night, Delle Donne sat in the Washington locker room wearing a WNBA Finals hat with the Mystics logo on it. She finished with 14 points, 11 rebounds and 4 assists. Her knee was elevated with a bag of ice on it, but she was smiling along with the rest of her teammates.12

“Pure joy,” Delle Donne said of her emotions when the buzzer when off. “And just being so proud of this team and what we’ve been able to overcome throughout this season. I’ve said it a lot, but it’s the culture that has gotten us through so much.”

“Culture” used to be the last thing that worked in the Mystics’ favor. This franchise was 3-27 in its inaugural season in 1998, and it had 12 coaches in its first 15 seasons. The Mystics at times were derisively referred to as “the mistakes.”

The Mystics have made the playoffs in five of Thibault’s six seasons. This is his third trip to the WNBA Finals, having made it there in 2004 and 2005 with Connecticut.cheap nfl jerseys china nike

“Almost every time we’ve been challenged this year, we’ve had a bounce-back,” Thibault said of his team’s mindset. “Tonight, [the Dream] came back and took the lead on us, and the bounce-back came back again. It’s a great accomplishment for our franchise. These players have a lot to be proud of.”

Last year, Delle Donne joined the Mystics via trade, and Kristi Toliver — who had 19 points Tuesday — came as a free agent the year after winning a WNBA title with Los Angeles. Both wanted to be in Washington because it’s close to home. Toliver is from Harrisonburg, Virginia, and went to college at Maryland; Delle Donne is a Delaware native who played for her home state university.

11

Sue Bird’s fourth-quarter heroics help Storm return to WNBA Finals

To reach the WNBA Finals and finally hand Diana Taurasi’s Phoenix Mercury a loss in a deciding game, all the Seattle Storm needed was a huge game from the current MVP and a Taurasi-esque performance from one of her closest friends.

Wins over Dallas and Connecticut in the elimination rounds pushed the Mercury’s record to 13-0 in winner-take-all games with Taurasi. When Phoenix controlled the first half Tuesday, leading by as many as 11 points, the visiting Mercury looked well on their way to making that 14-0.cheap nike nfl jerseys paypal

With MVP Breanna Stewart leading the charge, the Storm rallied to tie the score late in the third quarter. Then Seattle turned things over to Sue Bird, who proved that she, too, can make big shots in big situations, despite wearing a face mask to protect a broken nose suffered on Sunday. Bird’s first 3-pointer of the fourth quarter came with 5:48 left and the Storm down four. A minute later, Bird drilled a step-back jumper just inside the arc, followed by another 3 on a kickout after an offensive rebound.11

When Bird nailed a third triple two possessions later — moments after having the face mask knocked off her face in a scramble for the ball that left her atypically furious at referees who called no foul and awarded a jump ball — she’d racked up 11 points in a stretch of fewer than three minutes that saw Seattle outscore Phoenix 15-3 to go from down four to up eight with 2:51 to play. Bird — who said the scramble caused the mask to “hit down on to my nose, and it started bleeding” — later added a fourth 3 in the quarter as insurance in the final minute.nike cheap nfl jerseys

“I was just open,” Bird said after the game. “It was mostly off them having to focus on Stewie so much because she was being so aggressive. Other players kind of getting in there, creating these openings. A lot of those were kickouts to me, and I was able to knock them in.”

8

Sources: After 16 seasons, Spurs’ Manu Ginobili seriously considering retirement

San Antonio Spurs guard Manu Ginobili, a future Naismith Basketball Hall of Famer, is seriously considering retirement and plans to meet with coach Gregg Popovich in the coming days to discuss his future, league sources told ESPN.cheap nfl nike jerseys free shipping

Ginobili, 41, has been working out regularly at the Spurs’ practice facility and hasn’t made a final decision on the coming season, but sources say that he’s strongly confronting the possible end to an historic 16-season run with the Spurs that includes four NBA championships.8

Popovich is traveling back to San Antonio from Europe, where he recently participated in the league’s Basketball Without Borders event in Belgrade. The Spurs are hopeful that Ginobili will want to return for a 17th NBA season and are allowing him to take all the time he needs to make a decision, league sources said.

The Spurs lost his longtime teammate, Tony Parker, to the Charlotte Hornets in free agency, and traded Kawhi Leonard and Danny Green to Toronto for DeMar DeRozan and Jakob Poeltl.

Ginobili is one of the most decorated international players in basketball history, a two-time NBA All-Star, an Olympic gold medalist for Argentina and a Euroleague MVP. Ginobili has played 1,057 regular season and 218 playoff games with the Spurs, ranking in the franchise’s top five all-time in games, points (14,043), assists (4,001) and steals (1,392)

Ginobili averaged 8.9 points and 20 minutes a game for the Spurs last season. Ginobili’s unconventional and spectacular style, including a frequent flair for the dramatic, helped define an unprecedented modern era of Spurs dominance along with longtime teammates Tim Duncan and Parker. Ginobili was the 57th overall pick in the 1999 NBA draft, starring in Europe before joining the Spurs for his rookie NBA season in 2002.cheap nike jerseys nfl

7

Kobe Bryant says his die-hard fans will ‘fall in line’ for LeBron James

Kobe Bryant has heard how some of his most die-hard fans might have an issue with LeBron James joining the Los Angeles Lakers.

Bryant says if those people are fans of his, they will “fall in line.”

“I hear that,” Bryant said when asked on “The Rich Eisen Show” whether he is aware that some of his fans have an issue with James being a part of the Lakers family. “But listen, if you are fan of mine, you are a fan of winning, you are a fan of the Lakers. I bleed purple and gold. So, that is above anything else.cheap wholesale nike nfl jerseys

“I have been a Lakers fan since I was yay high. That is never going to change. Right? [It] is about winning championships. So, they’ll fall in line.”

But some in Los Angeles were not so welcoming. A few have chosen to express their feelings by defacing a couple of murals around the Los Angeles area featuring James as a Laker.

Bryant was asked whether James has to lead the Lakers back to a championship in order to be viewed in the same light as Bryant, who won five championships during his 20-year career with the franchise.7

“I don’t know, making the comparison of him being viewed in the similar vein as me, that doesn’t make much sense,” Bryant told Eisen. “I think the goal is always to win championships. No matter where you go, that is the goal. And that is his goal, that is Rob’s [Pelinka] goal, that is Magic’s [Johnson] goal, Jeanie’s [Buss] goal, [Rajon] Rondo, all the guys, [Kyle] Kuzma, Lonzo [Ball], they all want to win championships. That is what they are gunning for.

“This is why we play. This is why we are here, is to win championships,” Bryant later added. “He wouldn’t have come here if he didn’t expect to win championships.”

Bryant, who just turned 40, also laughed off any notion of him making a comeback and returning from retirement.cheap nfl nike jerseys free shipping

“There is about a zero percent chance that I come back and play,” Bryant said, after laughing when asked about a rumor of him coming out of retirement. “Nothing. Done. That’s it.”

“Unfortunately for us athletes, we have been pigeonholed into thinking that we can only be one thing,” said Bryant, who won an Oscar for his contributions to the animated short “Dear Basketball” in March.

“So when I retired, everybody is saying he is too competitive, he is not going to know what to do with himself. He is going to have to come back. I took that as a personal challenge of them thinking that I am this one-dimensional person, that all I know is how to dribble and shoot the ball and play basketball and compete at that level. I will never come back to the game. Ever.”

8

Heat center Hassan says he’s in a better place with team after meeting with Pat Riley, Erik Spoelstra

Center Hassan Whiteside told reporters Wednesday that he met with Miami Heat president Pat Riley and coach Erik Spoelstra last month and he is in a better place with the team now.

“We had a great talk,” Whiteside told reporters on a conference call to discuss Saturday’s NBA game in Africa, in which he plans to play. “I just think it’s trust on both sides. I think that’s the biggest thing … It was about a four-hour meeting. It was a lot about life. It was two hours basketball, two hours life. It was a good meeting.”nike nfl jerseys cheap china

Whiteside, who has two years remaining on his four-year, $98.4 million deal with the Heat, had publicly complained about his role and his lack of playing time in the playoffs after Miami’s loss in Game 3 to the Philadelphia 76ers. Whiteside played just 76 minutes total in the five games.8

After the series, Riley told reporters that Whiteside wasn’t “ready” for the playoffs and that “he wasn’t in great shape.” Last week, Riley insisted that the Heat weren’t widely shopping Whiteside in trades this summer but said the center “has a lot of work to do.“cheap nfl nike jerseys from china

Whiteside, 29, who dealt with a knee injury last season and was limited to 54 games in the regular season, said Wednesday that he “wasn’t healthy all last year.”

“I was in and out of the rotation with injuries. Just coming back healthy. Coming back from a bone bruise, it takes months to heal,” he told reporters.

However, Wednesday he declared himself “completely healed” and said “I feel great.”

57

Mark Cuban says DeAndre Jordan ‘gave us the best chance to win now’

It took Dallas Mavericks owner Mark Cuban and DeAndre Jordan a matter of seconds to make up a few years after the big man left the franchise at the altar in free agency.

“There’s like four guys I hold grudges with, and three of them are from grade school, maybe even before,” Cuban told ESPN hours after Jordan officially signed with the Mavericks on Friday. “I just want to win. Look, only Dirk [Nowitzki] and J.J. [Barea] were there from that period anyway. All of our guys were like, ‘Go get him! Go get him!’

“I talked to him on the phone, and he’s like, ‘Everything behind us?’ I’m like, ‘Let’s go win.’ He goes, ‘Let’s go to war.’ Done.”cheap nfl jerseys from china nike

Jordan, who infamously reneged on his verbal commitment to the Mavs to re-sign with the Clippers in the summer of 2015, signed a one-year deal with Dallas. His salary will be $22.9 million, sources told ESPN. That’s less than the $24.1 million Jordan could have made if he exercised the player option for the final season of his contract with the Clippers, but the lack of state income taxes in Texas makes up the difference.

Dallas coach Rick Carlisle said he didn’t have any discussion with Jordan about burying the hatchet.57

“There was no need. There just wasn’t,” Carlisle told ESPN. “Sometimes things take a while to happen. Sometimes you have obstacles, you work through them and figure it out. That’s what we did.

“He’s a good fit for any team that’s trying to get better. He gives us a great rim presence on both ends of the floor.”

Cuban believes Jordan, a dominant finisher who averaged 12.0 points and 15.2 rebounds per game last season, will aid the development of young franchise cornerstones Dennis Smith Jr. and Luka Doncic by providing them a lob threat to go along with reserve center Dwight Powell.

“Hopefully it’s just the start of something and they play together so well that we just add to it,” Cuban said.

Cuban said the parties mutually agreed that a one-year deal was the best way to go because they want to test the fit before committing to each other long term. The Mavs offered Jordan a four-year maximum contract in 2015.cheap new nike nfl jerseys

“It’s not like it was a few years back when we had a veteran team and we were trying to make it all work together,” Cuban said. “We have a relatively young team. We wanted to get a chance to see how he fits, he wanted to see how he fits, and if we make it work and we get to where we think we can be, we keep it all together.

“It was really just making us both comfortable. There’s no question about his skill set. There’s no question about his abilities. There’s no question about any of it. It’s just that he wanted to check us out too, and I think he was just done with where he was.”

46

Kings make bold move in extending $78M offer sheet to Zach LaVine

The Sacramento Kings on Friday made a bold offseason move by signing Chicago Bulls restricted free agent guard Zach LaVine to a four-year, $78 million offer sheet, sources told The Undefeated.

The Bulls, who have two days to match it if they want to retain him, have made LaVine a contract offer, but sources say it’s not nearly as strong as the Kings’.

“I’m disappointed that I had to get an offer sheet from another team,” LaVine, 23, told The Undefeated. “But Sacramento stepped up and made a strong impression. It appears that Sacramento wants me more than Chicago.“cheap nfl nike jerseys from china

The Kings would be the first team this offseason to sign a restricted free agent to an offer sheet.46

LaVine averaged 16.7 points, 3.9 rebounds and 34.1 percent shooting from 3-point range in 24 games last season. He loved the City of Chicago, his teammates, and the fan base in his short time since arriving from Minnesota in the Jimmy Butler trade and enjoyed playing for the Bulls.

However, the athletic 6-foot-5, 205-pound guard was disappointed that the Bulls did not step up in the same fashion that the Kings did and believed his parent team was trying to take advantage of him in a tight free agent market.

If the Bulls do not match Sacramento’s offer sheet, LaVine would join a franchise that is attempting to get back to the playoffs for the first time since 2006. However, Sacramento is loaded with young talent in the rookie forward Marvin Bagley III, the No. 2 pick in the June draft, guards De’Aaron Fox, Buddy Hield and Bogdan Bogdanovic and frontcourt players Harry Giles, Willie Callie-Stein, Skal Labissiere and Justin Jackson. The Kings believe that this young core is part of a new brand that includes “exciting, up-tempo, versatile and position-less players,” a source said.

LaVine visited the Kings’ offices and practice facility in downtown Sacramento on Wednesday on Wednesday. He had a conversation with Kings general manager Vlade Divac and assistant general managers Brandon Williams and Peja Stojakovic during the visit. LaVine also spoke with Kings owner Vivek Ranadive. LaVine could be the biggest free agent signing for the Kings since Divac signed a six-year, $60 million contract in 1999. There was a “mutual expression that it was a good fit” from LaVine and the Kings’ brass, a source said.nike nfl jerseys wholesale cheap

A source said LaVine will take up the remaining Kings salary cap space available if his signing becomes official, but the franchise will still have flexibility to make more free agency moves next summer. The Seattle native debuted with the Bulls last season after recovering from left ACL surgery. The Kings are confident that LaVine is fully healthy and recovered him his knee injury, a source said.

92

Hornets land Miles Bridges after trade with Clippers; also draft Devonte’ Graham

Charlotte initially selected point guard Shai Gilgeous-Alexander from Kentucky with the 11th overall pick, but traded him to the Clippers for the 12th overall pick and second-round picks in 2020 and 2021. The Clippers then selected Bridges for the Hornets.

“He’s one of the highest character players in the draft, very athletic, plays hard, and he’s very versatile,” Kupchak said. “… There is not much to not like about Miles Bridges.”

Charlotte later traded up to No. 34 overall with Atlanta to draft Kansas point guard Devonte Graham, a consensus All-American who averaged 17.3 points and 7.2 assists per game last season. Graham, who is from Raleigh, North Carolina, is expected to backup two-time All-Star Kemba Walker, providing the team doesn’t trade him. The Hornets surrendered second round picks in 2019 and 2023 to get him.cheap official nike nfl jerseys

Charlotte initially took shooting guard Hamiduo Diallo from Kentucky at No. 45 as part of the impending trade that will send Dwight Howard to the Brooklyn Nets, but then sent his rights to Oklahoma City.

The Hornets drafted Arnoldas Kulboka from Lithunia at No. 55.92

Kupchak said Bridges can play both the three and four position on offense at the NBA level just as he did at Michigan State, and also has the size and athleticism to guard four positions on defense.

The 6-foot-7, 225-pound Bridges was a unanimous All-Big 10 first team choice after averaging 17 points and seven rebounds last season for the Spartans. He ranked sixth in the Big Ten in scoring last season, 11th in rebounding and fourth in free throw percentage (85.3 percent).

Bridges is expected to be a better offensive option at small forward than starter Michael Kidd-Gilchrist, who is considered a strong defender but not a great scorer. Bridges has an NBA ready body and is one of the most explosive leapers in the draft. He scored frequently on perimeter spot ups and off screens while with the Spartans as well as on pick and roll opportunities.

“I want to get better at ballhandling so I can create my own shot and just be a threat everywhere on the floor from the 3 to midrange to getting to the basket,” Bridges said. “I definitely want to be more aggressive. I felt like in my college career I could have been more aggressive.”new nike nfl jerseys for sale cheap

Bridges did not work out for the Hornets despite the team’s repeated attempts to bring him in. Bridges said he had planned to visit after working out in Los Angeles, but “something popped up.”

91

GM Mitch Kupchak calls Kemba Walker ‘focal point’ of Hornets

General manager Mitch Kupchak wants point guard Kemba Walker to end his NBA career right where it started — with the Charlotte Hornets.

Kupchak said Friday that Walker is “revered” in the Charlotte community, and that he and owner Michael Jordan look at the two-time All-Star as “the focal point of this franchise going forward.”cheap nike nfl jerseys from china

The 28-year-old Walker has been the subject of possible NBA trade talks as he prepares to enter the final year of his contract with the Hornets. That speculation has amped up recently because it is a practical impossibility for Charlotte to sign Walker to an extension before he becomes a free agent in July 2019 since the Hornets are so tight under the salary cap.

“I think everybody is aware of the situation, if you follow basketball a little bit, it is unique that he is on an extension that may make it a challenge going forward to figure out before he becomes a free agent,” Kupchak said.

At $12 million per year, Walker is well underpaid when compared to the other top point guards in the league.

But that doesn’t mean Kupchak is giving up hope the team can keep Walker in Charlotte.91

“I don’t think it is anybody’s goal to lose him in free agency,” Kupchak said. “But going forward, in the community, in the franchise, this is a player that we hope is with us — not only for the next couple of years, but ends his career here.”

The Hornets don’t have much experience behind Walker at point guard.

They have last year’s first-round draft pick, Malik Monk, and drafted Devonte Graham from Kansas in the second round on Thursday night.cheap official nike nfl jerseys

Graham said he is excited to pick Walker’s brain when it comes to basketball.

“I have never met him, but I remember watching him play when he was at UConn, though,” Graham said. “I’m just excited, man, to learn from someone like that and just be around someone like that who is a winner, and knows how to win and compete. I am looking forward to being able to learn from him.”

22

Autopsy of ex-NBA player Butler reveals drugs, alcohol at time of crash

Former NBA player Rasual Butler had drugs and alcohol in his system when he and his wife died in a one-car accident in January in California.

Butler had alcohol, marijuana, methamphetamine and oxycodone in his system at the time of the crash, according to the Los Angeles County coroner’s office.nfl authentic jerseys cheap

According to Los Angeles police, Butler was speeding before jumping a curb, and his vehicle hit three parking meters and a concrete wall before flipping over twice and coming to rest in a shopping mall parking lot. Butler, 38, and his wife, Leah LaBelle Vladowski, 31, were pronounced dead at the scene..

The coroner’s report says both died from “multiple traumatic injuries” in the crash.22

Butler played 13 seasons in the NBA with eight different franchises as a swingman after being drafted out of La Salle by the Miami Heat in 2002.

Butler’s wife was an R&B singer who appeared on “American Idol” in 2004.

Butler played his final NBA games with the San Antonio Spurs in the 2015-16 season and attended training camp with the Minnesota Timberwolves in 2016. He played in Ice Cube’s BIG3 basketball league last summer.nfl jerseys cheap china

He averaged 7.5 points and 2.4 rebounds in 809 career NBA games. Butler appeared in all 82 games for the 2009-10 Los Angeles Clippers and averaged a career-best 11.9 points per game.