TIME Basketball

Kareem Abdul-Jabbar Recovering From Quadruple Coronary Bypass Surgery

The American Cancer Society Cancer Action Network And Stand Up To Cancer Discuss The Importance Of Cancer Research
Paul Morigi—WireImage/Getty Images NBA hall-of famer Kareem Abdul-Jabbar speaks at The American Cancer Society Cancer Action Network and Stand Up To Cancer discussion on the importance of cancer research at Cannon House Office Building in Washington on March 17, 2015.

Doctors said the basketball legend was on track to a full recovery

The NBA’s all-time leading scorer Kareem Abdul-Jabbar underwent what his doctors are calling a successful quadruple coronary bypass survey on Thursday.

The operation was performed by Dr. Richard Shemin, UCLA’s chief of cardiac surgery, after Abdul-Jabbar, a TIME columnist, was admitted to the hospital this week with cardiovascular disease. Sherman said in a statement that he expected Abdul-Jabbar, 68, to make a full recovery.

“At this time, Abdul-Jabbar would like to thank his surgical team and the medical staff at UCLA, his alma mater, for the excellent care he has received. He is looking forward to getting back to his normal activities soon,” read a statement from the hospital.

“He asks that you keep him in your thoughts and, most importantly, cherish and live each day to its fullest.”

TIME Basketball

Warriors? Cavs? Spurs Again? No Clear NBA Finals Favorite

Miami Heat v Cleveland Cavaliers
Jason Miller—Getty Images LeBron James celebrates with Kyrie Irving of the Cleveland Cavaliers after scoring during the first half against the Miami Heat at Quicken Loans Arena in Cleveland on April 2, 2015

"I got no idea who's going to win the championship. This is the most convoluted I've ever seen the NBA as far as, I've got no idea," Hall of Famer Charles Barkley said

Sweet-shooting Stephen Curry and the Golden State Warriors have the best record, an unmatched home-court advantage, and the understanding that means nothing now.

“We had a great home record and did some historic things, but that doesn’t get you any extra points in the playoffs,” Curry said.

The Warriors (67-15) were the NBA’s best this season. LeBron James has been on top before, though never in Cleveland. And don’t forget the Spurs, even though you have to look far down the West standings to find them.

When the NBA postseason opens this weekend, there will be plenty of championship contenders but perhaps no clear favorite.

“I got no idea who’s going to win the championship. This is the most convoluted I’ve ever seen the NBA as far as, I’ve got no idea,” Hall of Famer and TNT analyst Charles Barkley said.

With James gone from Miami, so are the days of penciling in one half of the NBA Finals matchup. The Heat reached the last four finals, winning two of them, before James returned to Cleveland last July.

The Cavaliers don’t even have the best record in the Eastern Conference, finishing in second place behind Atlanta. But they have rolled through the second half of the season so easily that it’s hard not to consider this No. 2 as the one.

“We have an opportunity to do something special and that kicks off this weekend,” James said.

The Cavaliers start Sunday against Boston, a familiar foe for James and the one that ended his last postseason in a Cavaliers uniform.

The playoffs begin Saturday with four games: Washington visits Toronto in the opener before the Warriors, 39-2 at home during the regular season, host Anthony Davis and the New Orleans Pelicans. After that come two short trips: Milwaukee travels to Chicago and Dallas heads to Houston.

On Sunday, Atlanta hosts Brooklyn, Portland visits Memphis, and the Los Angeles Clippers welcome San Antonio for the opener of what appears to be the marquee first-round series.

The Spurs’ beautiful basketball overwhelmed James and the Heat in last year’s finals and carried them to 21 wins in their final 25 games this season — and couldn’t put a dent in their deficit in the West standings. They ended up with the No. 6 seed after losing in New Orleans on the final night of the regular season, with a 55-27 record that was a game worse than the Clippers, who surged to a 56-26 finish with seven straight victories.

“We’d love to have been in the 2 or 3 seeds — whatever it may be — and started at home,” the Spurs’ Tim Duncan said. “But we have been on just about every route possible throughout the years. This will be another journey, and hopefully it will be a fun one.”

That’s what the Warriors want. And with an MVP favorite in Curry, another All-Star in the backcourt in Klay Thompson and a deep bench, they have everything needed to make it happen.

“It’s time to go and we are ready,” Curry said.

Some other things to watch in the playoffs:

ROSE’S RETURN: Derrick Rose’s injury problems began in the opener of the 2012 postseason when he tore his ACL. He returned from his latest surgery to help the Bulls finish with four straight victories to earn the No. 3 seed in the East.

HOW HEALTHY?: The winner of the Trail Blazers-Grizzlies series would be in line to meet the Warriors, and either would be a threat if healthy. But Marc Gasol, Mike Conley and Tony Allen of Memphis limped to the finish, Arron Afflalo joined Wesley Matthews on the sideline in Portland, and it’s hard to tell which team is in good enough shape to survive this series.

TEXAS TWO-STEP: The reward for James Harden and the Rockets after earning the No. 2 seed? A matchup against a Dallas team that won 50 games. The Rockets outscored the Mavericks just 402-398 in their four meetings, and Dallas had double-digit leads in three of them.

KIDD’S KIDS: Jason Kidd won a first-round series as a No. 6 seed last year in Brooklyn. He’s back in that spot after his first season coaching in Milwaukee with a young team that will try to overcome its playoff inexperience.

WHO WINS?: James is trying to finally win one in Cleveland. The Spurs are trying to finally win back to back. And the Warriors and Hawks were better than both teams over the course of the season, so even the experts are having a hard time with that question. “This year, I’ve got to be honest with you,” Barkley said, “there’s probably seven teams that could actually win the championship and I’d be like, ‘I’m not surprised they won it.'”

TIME Basketball

NBA Will Begin Testing Players for HGH Next Season

NBA Commissioner Adam Silver during a press conference in New York City on April 13, 2015.
Alex Goodlett—Getty Images NBA Commissioner Adam Silver during a press conference in New York City on April 13, 2015.

Three violations will result in banishment from the league

The NBA will begin testing players for human growth hormone, the league announced Thursday.

Testing will begin next season and players will be subject to three random, unannounced tests each year, in addition to “reasonable cause testing,” the NBA said. Two of the three tests will be administered during the season and one will be done in the offseason.

Players will be suspended 20 games for their first positive test and 45 games for a second failed test. A third violation results in banishment from the league.

NBA commissioner Adam Silver said in an interview with GQ in November that instituting HGH testing was a priority.

Testing for HGH was introduced by the NFL in 2014 and by MLB in 2013. The World Anti-Doping Agency, which handles Olympic testing, first began testing for HGH at the 2006 Torino Games.

Dallas Mavericks owner Mark Cuban told USA Today in 2013 that the NBA should consider allowing HGH use as a means to help players more quickly recover from injuries.

This article originally appeared on SI.com.

TIME NBA

So Stephen Curry Just Made 77 Three-Pointers in a Row During Practice

Heat vs. Warriors
El Nuevo Herald—MCT/Getty Images Golden State Warriors guard Stephen Curry shoots over Miami Heat guard Mario Chalmers during the first quarter at AmericanAirlines Arena in Miami on Thursday, Jan. 2, 2014.

Nothing but net. Again and again. And you can say "again" 75 more times

It’s no secret that Stephen Curry is one of the most devastatingly accurate and effective shooters in the NBA, but the Golden State Warriors superstar showed what goes into his seemingly effortless long-range jumper during a Tuesday practice session.

A video on ESPN shows the end of a sequence where the MVP front-runner hit 77 consecutive shots from beyond the arc.

You read that right — 77 shots in a row. Note his cry of anguish when he finally misses.

He also made 94 out of the 100 total shots he took. Because he’s Stephen Curry.

[ESPN]

TIME Basketball

LeBron Says He Would Vote Himself MVP This Season

LeBron James of the Cleveland Cavaliers smiles to the fans during the second half against the Chicago Bulls at Quicken Loans Arena on April 5, 2015 in Cleveland.
Jason Miller—Getty Images CLEVELAND, OH - APRIL 5: LeBron James #23 of the Cleveland Cavaliers smiles to the fans during the second half against the Chicago Bulls at Quicken Loans Arena on April 5, 2015 in Cleveland, Ohio. The Cavaliers defeated the Bulls 99-94. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. (Photo by Jason Miller/Getty Images)

He supports the idea of players voting for awards

NBA players will be able to vote in their own set of postseason awards for the first time this year, players union executive director Michele Roberts said in a memo made public on Wednesday.

LeBron James said he knows who he would peg as this season’s MVP. From ESPN:

James said that players can’t vote for themselves for awards. But who would his vote be for MVP this year?

“Myself,” James said.

James said he supports the idea of players voting for awards.

“Guys are going to be able to recognize the guys they play against every night and what they do for their franchises,” James said, according to ESPN.

James has won four MVPs during his career. He earned two during his first stint with the Cleveland Cavaliers and two more while he played for the Miami Heat.

The forward’s 25.6 points, 7.3 assists and 6 rebounds a game are all his lowest averages since his rookie season, but he is third in the NBA in scoring and seventh in player efficiency rating. After a 19-20 start, James’ Cavaliers are now 50-27 and sit second in the Eastern Conference.

Stephen Curry, Russell Westbrook and James Harden are considered favorites to win MVP.

This article originally appeared on SI.com

TIME Basketball

3-Peat: UConn Beats Notre Dame 63-53 for 3rd Straight Title

Kaleena Mosqueda-Lewis #23 of the Connecticut Huskies holds the trophy after defeating the Notre Dame Fighting Irish 63-53 during the NCAA Women's Final Four National Championship at Amalie Arena on April 7, 2015 in Tampa, Fla.
Mike Carlson—Getty Images Kaleena Mosqueda-Lewis #23 of the Connecticut Huskies holds the trophy after defeating the Notre Dame Fighting Irish 63-53 during the NCAA Women's Final Four National Championship at Amalie Arena on April 7, 2015 in Tampa, Fla.

The Huskies have won five of the last seven titles

(TAMPA) — Kaleena Mosqueda-Lewis and Moriah Jefferson each scored 15 points and UConn beat Notre Dame 63-53 on Tuesday night to win the Huskies third straight championship and 10th overall, tying Geno Auriemma with John Wooden for the most titles in college basketball.

UConn’s coach has now won all 10 of his trips to the national championship game. The Huskies have won five of the last seven titles.

Breanna Stewart stated when she came to UConn that her goal was to win four championships. The junior is now one title away from being the first to win four straight. Stewart has been a huge reason why the Huskies have been on their won three consecutive titles.

The 6-foot-4 star is the latest in a long line of outstanding UConn players that Auriemma has coached, including Rebecca Lobo, Diana Taurasi, Sue Bird and Maya Moore.

TIME Basketball

What’s Next for Duke and Coach K?

Wisconsin v Duke
Streeter Lecka—Getty Images Duke head coach Mike Krzyzewski after the Blue Devils defeat the Wisconsin Badgers at Lucas Oil Stadium in Indianapolis on April 6, 2015

Mike Krzyzewski can't coach forever

Duke coach Mike Krzyzewski won his fifth NCAA championship Monday night; only UCLA’s John Wooden, with 10, has won more titles in the men’s college game. Coach K guided the U.S. men’s team to the last two Olympic gold medals, the last two world championships and will go for another Olympic gold in 2016 in Rio. This season, he reached his 12th Final Four, tying Wooden for the most appearances ever, and also became the first men’s coach in Division 1 history to win 1,000 games. He’s 68 years old.

Over the past few weeks — and especially as Duke cut down the nets Monday night after beating Wisconsin, 68-63, in the national title game — I’ve been thinking too much about one question: Who’s going to replace Coach K?

I know, nice timing: we just finished a pretty great championship game, and I’m pondering Krzyzewski‘s exit, which seems at least a few years away. Duke looked done, as Wisconsin had a nine-point lead in the second half. The team’s future NBA draft picks, freshmen Jahlil Okafor and Justise Winslow, were on the bench with foul trouble. But freshman guards Tyus Jones and Grayson Allen took over, and once Okafor got back into the game, he woke up and took over down the stretch. Duke’s defense improved, the Blue Devils got a little assistance from the refs — shocking — and, suddenly, Duke broke Wisconsin’s heart.

Fresh off this drama, why in the world am I wondering what Duke will look like three, five, maybe seven years down the road? Krzyzewski’s been winning plenty lately. He seems sharp and energized. But Duke’s post-K future is so intriguing because it doesn’t just concern the intramural college coaching carousel. No, it’s one of the higher-stakes succession stories in American business.

Like it or not, Duke is a sports dynasty that generates millions of dollars, and stirs the passions of millions of loyalists — and haters. Coach K has built a consequential enterprise. Maybe he gets too much credit for “the program.” But it’s developed in his image. Can anyone live up to him?

Following Coach K will be a rough gig. Wooden’s successors, for example, struggled in his shadow. But that doesn’t mean a crew of Krzyzewski’s former players and assistants aren’t positioning themselves for that prize. A current K assistant, Jeff Capel, already had some success coaching Blake Griffin at Oklahoma. He’s likely on his way to Arizona State: if he can win there, he’s a prime candidate. Former Duke assistant Mike Brey, whose Notre Dame team almost made this year’s Final Four, would be in the running. So would former Duke player and assistant coach Tommy Amaker, who has made four straight NCAA tournament appearances as head coach at Harvard. Amaker’s former teammate Johnny Dawkins has had mixed success at Stanford: the Cardinal just won the NIT, which is nice. But that means Stanford didn’t make the Big Dance.

Chris Collins and Steve Wojciechowski, another pair of former Duke players and assistants, are just getting their head-coaching careers started at Northwestern and Marquette, respectively. And what about Bobby Hurley, the all-time assists leader in Division 1 men’s hoops, and maybe Coach K’s favorite player ever. He’s a hot coaching commodity after leading Buffalo to this year’s tournament. Will he be ready for Duke in a few years?

Will Duke ever be able to cut down those nets on a Monday night, without Mike Krzyzewski on the ladder?

TIME Basketball

The NBA Is Going to Cuba for a Basketball Clinic

The trip is being organized as part of the Basketball Without Borders program

The NBA is taking a team to the Cuban capital, Havana, for a four-day basketball clinic, the New York Times reports.

Under the auspices of the Basketball Without Borders program, the NBA will coordinate with the International Basketball Federation to bring Spanish-speaking players to meet their Cuban counterparts. Among those in attendance will be former point guard Steve Nash, ex-center Dikembe Mutombo and retired WNBA All-Star Ticha Penicheiro, along with NBA executives.

The news comes in the wake of the recent thawing of U.S.-Cuba relations.

“We’ve seen the bridges that basketball can build between cultures,” NBA deputy commissioner Mark Tatum told the Times.

Two Cuban-born players have competed briefly in the NBA: Lazaro Borrell (with Seattle from 1999 to 2000) and Andres Guibert (Minnesota, 1993 to 1995). The sport itself has been played in Cuba for decades, with the women’s team particularly successful, coming first in the 2013 Americas competition.

The clinic will run from April 23 to 26.

[NYT]

 

TIME Basketball

Duke Wins National Championship, Beating Wisconsin in Title Game

NCAA Basketball: Final Four-Championship Game-Wisconsin vs Duke
Bob Donnan—USA TODAY Sports/Reuters Duke Blue Devils guard Quinn Cook and teammates hoist the NCAA championship trophy after defeating the Wisconsin Badgers at Lucas Oil Stadium in Indianapolis on April 6, 2015

Duke overcame a nine-point second-half deficit and foul trouble to its two biggest stars to win the fifth national championship in school history, beating Wisconsin 68-63 on Monday night in Indianapolis.

The Badgers took a 58-56 lead with 4:25 to go on a Sam Dekker layup, but the Blue Devils responded with a 10-0 run, capped by a Tyus Jones three-pointer, for a 66-58 lead with 1:24 remaining. A three by Frank Kaminsky and a dunk by Nigel Hayes pulled Wisconsin within 66-63, but Jones hit two free throws to restore a five-point lead and Wisconsin missed a pair of three-pointers on its final trip down court.

Kaminsky, the national player of the year, had 21 points and 11 rebounds for the Badgers while his All-America counterpart for the Blue Devils, Jahlil Okafor, was limited to 10 points and three rebounds while sitting for much of the second half with four fouls. Duke’s Justise Winslow also had four fouls but finished with 11 points and eight rebounds.

Wisconsin opened up a nine-point lead at 48-39 with 13:23 remaining, but freshman guard Grayson Allen led the Blue Devils back by responding with a three-pointer and a three-point play on Duke’s next two possessions to cut the deficit to three.

The Blue Devils were within 52-51 when Okafor came back in the game with three fouls, but he missed a jumper in the lane that would have put Duke in front. On the other end, Kaminsky spun past Okafor, who drew his fourth foul. Kaminsky completed a three-point play that put Wisconsin back up by four at the 9:18 mark.

The Blue Devils wouldn’t go away though, tying the game at 54 on a jumper by Jones with 6:58 to go and going in front on a layup by Allen at 56-54 less than a minute later. Jones and Allen carried Duke in the second half while Okafor and Winslow were in foul trouble. Jones finished with 19 points and was named the Most Outstanding Player of the Final Four while Allen, who averaged just 4.0 points per game, had 16.

​The game was tied at 31 after a first half that featured 13 lead changes.

It was the fifth championship in nine trips to the title game for Duke coach Mike Krzyzewski. Wisconsin was playing in its first championship game since winning the title in 1941, the third year of the NCAA tournament’s existence.

This article originally appeared on SI.com

TIME Basketball

Duke Tops Wisconsin 68-63 for NCAA Basketball Title

Wisconsin v Duke
Andy Lyons—Getty Images Justise Winslow, center, and Matt Jones, right, of the Duke Blue Devils celebrate with teammates after defeating the Wisconsin Badgers at Lucas Oil Stadium in Indianapolis on April 6, 2015

Duke beats Wisconsin 68-63 for NCAA men's basketball title

(INDIANAPOLIS) — Jahlil Okafor scored two big buckets late and his freshman buddy Tyus Jones hit a key 3-pointer to lift Duke to its fifth national title Monday night in a 68-63 comeback win over Wisconsin.

Okafor spent big chunks of the second half on the bench after drawing his third, then his fourth foul.

When he returned, he beat Wisconsin’s big man, senior Frank Kaminksy, for a pair of buckets, then Jones hit a 3-pointer to complete a run from nine down to eight up with 1:22 left.

Blue Devils coach Mike Krzyzewski captured his fifth title, putting him in second place alone behind John Wooden.

Kaminsky outscored Okafor 21-10 but came up short in his last game, as the Badgers (36-4) couldn’t duplicate their thrilling win over Kentucky two nights earlier.

Jones led the Blue Devils (35-4) with 23 points.

Your browser is out of date. Please update your browser at http://update.microsoft.com