Stanley Johnson says he’s ‘inside LeBron’s head’
Detroit Pistons rookie Stanley Johnson was so proud of his defense against LeBron James in Game 2 of the playoff series with Cleveland that he declared: “I’m definitely inside his head, that’s for sure.” But others were not so sure. The Cavaliers won the game by 17 points, and James, four-time MVP, scored 27. According to ESPN’s Stats & Information, James was 6-for-6 when Johnson, 19, was his primary defender.
Just Wondering: What’s inside this kid’s head? Rocks? Actually, his coaches say supreme self-confidence is his main asset. He’s unflappable no matter how many shots he misses.
Cuban says Westbrook is ‘not a superstar’
Before his Dallas Mavericks played the Oklahoma City Thunder in Game 5 of the NBA’s first round of playoffs, Mark Cuban made a point of saying Russell Westbrook “is an All-Star but not a superstar.” The Mavs owner was discussing Kevin Durant, who will soon be a free-agent. “They’re lucky to have him,” Cuban said. “They’ve got one superstar, and he plays like it.” Cuban compared Durant to Dirk Nowitzki for being able to lead a franchise through adversity. “Dirk for 15 years won 50 games no matter what. We put Moe, Larry and Curly next to him and he won 50 games. . . . That’s a superstar.” Durant scored 34 points and Westbrook 36 as the Thunder beat Dallas by 14 on Monday night to win the series, 4-1.
Between the Lines: Cuban tries to pump up Durant in hopes he will want to play for him. But the tactic backfired. When he heard what Cuban said about Westbrook, Durant scoffed: “He’s crazy.”
Doc says losing Steph is like losing Kendrick Perkins
Los Angeles Clippers coach Doc Rivers said he understood what the Golden State Warriors were going through, adjusting to the loss, for at least two weeks of the postseason, of their best player, Steph Curry. “It happened to us,” Rivers said. In 2010, Kendrick Perkins was hurt for Game 7.” It struck most listeners as an odd analogy. Perkins in his prime was a fine defensive player, but he had nowhere near the MVP status of Curry.
Norman ‘shaken’ when Panthers rescind franchise tag
NFL players usually complain when their team designates them for “the franchise tag.” It assures them of a very high salary for one season but gives them no guaranteed money beyond the one season. Even so, Carolina Panthers All-Pro cornerback Josh Norman insisted he was happy with the tag that would bring him $13.95 million this season, and he was “shaken” when the team rescinded it and made him a free agent. “I was just staring at the wall,” he said. “I didn’t want to be around nobody.” But his mood soon improved, when the Washington Redskins courted him and ended up signing him to a 5-year contract with $36 million guaranteed. The Panthers would not go beyond four years, since Norman is 28 and unlikely to be as good at 30 as he is now.