Celtics’ Enes Kanter on his criticism of Turkey: ‘How can I stay silent?’

“We don’t like NBA anymore” says fan before Lakers v Nets in Shanghai

Celtics star Enes Kanter isn’t backing down from speaking out on issues important to him.

In a first-person opinion piece published Thursday by The Boston Globe, Kanter wrote a letter detailing recent incidents in the United States stemming from his being an outspoken critic of Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan.

“I have been receiving death threats for years now,” Kanter wrote under the headline, “Enes Kanter: I will not be silenced over Turkey.” “This is the price I am ready to pay if this is what it takes to stand up for what I believe is right. It’s worth it.”

He said he has hosted basketball camps across the nation, but Turkish diplomats tried to intimidate the venues to cancel them. He went into detail about allegedly being harassed outside a local mosque with Tacko Fall as one protester said, “Go to your father’s mosque. You’re a traitor!”

Kanter promised that he won’t be silenced as he aims to find answers to important questions after being “immensely blessed to be in America.” He explained that basketball is his escape, but as soon as he steps off the court, he wants to answer the questions: “What can I do for innocent people in Turkey who are suffering? Am I doing enough? How can I raise awareness?”

Kanter wrote, in part:

“Constant pressure by Turkish consulates across the United States, as well as pervasive and continual harassment by the government in Turkey, has so far failed to stifle my dissent. As they increase the pressure, I raise my voice. I won’t be deterred. They’re wasting their time.

“How can I stay silent? There are tens of thousands of people — including teachers, doctors, members of the judiciary and military, lawyers, bureaucrats, journalists, and activists — in prisons for years just because they’re not die-hard followers of Erdogan. Hundreds of babies are growing up in small prison cells with their mothers. Democracy today is on life support, if not dead, and anyone who speaks up faces prison time.”

The open letter comes less than a week after he shared of a video on Twitter, claiming he was harassed by supporters of Turkey’s president outside a mosque. He wrote: “Turkish Government don’t even let me practice my religion freely in America let alone my freedom of speech is under attack.”

Kanter has been in a dispute with the Turkish government in recent years stemming from the center’s outspoken support of Fethullah Gulen, a Turkish cleric based in the U.S. but who Erdogan accuses of being behind a failed attempt to overthrow Erdogan’s government. Gulen denies the accusation, but the failed coup attempt reportedly has led to thousands being punished in Turkey.

Last season while with the Knicks, Kanter didn’t travel to London for a game because he was fearful of the Turkish president. Turkey’s government issued a warrant for his arrest earlier this year, and it also revoked Kanter’s passport while he was abroad two summers ago, which required American diplomats to intervene so he wouldn’t be sent back to his native country and arrested.

“I want to thank everyone, including politicians, government officials, journalists, activists, other public figures,” he wrote, “and the fans for standing by me during this challenging period. It encourages me to keep it up, and it gives me extra strength on the court.”

Heather Watson continues unexpected run to reach semi-finals in Tianjin

Peterson beats Watson in the WTA Tianjin Open final

Heather Watson continued her surprise run at the Tianjin Open by beating Magda Linette to reach the semi-finals after saving four match points on Friday.

The Brit had not won a hard-court match on the WTA Tour for over a year before this week, but is two wins away from being crowned champion after a 7-5 6-7 (4-7) 7-6 (8-6) victory over the eighth seed.

World number 125 Watson was taken the distance after seeing a match point come and go in the second set and forced a tie-break after Linette had four chances to wrap up the quarter-final.

The unseeded Watson eventually prevailed by securing a ninth mini-break in the final set and will face Veronika Kudermetova in the last four.

Russian Kudermetova toppled third seed Dayana Yastremska 6-4 6-0 in a battle of heavy hitters.

There will be no seeds in the semi-finals after Ons Jabeur defeated Yulia Putintseva 7-6 (7-5) 7-6 (7-4).

Jabeur will come up against Rebecca Peterson with a place in the final at stake following the Swede’s 6-7 (5-7) 6-4 6-2 success against home hope Wang Yafan.

 

 

Inspired Zverev defeats frustrated Federer in Shanghai

‘They want something new. Here I am’ – Medvedev after Shanghai triumph

Alexander Zverev ended a frustrated Roger Federer’s hopes of a third Shanghai Masters title as he claimed a stunning 6-3 6-7 (7-9) 6-3 quarter-final triumph.

The German took his head-to-head record against the 20-time grand slam champion to 4-3 with a display of immense quality and huge character.

Federer, the winner of the title in 2014 and 2017, frequently showed his displeasure and repeatedly argued with the umpire, even landing a point penalty after hitting the ball into the crowd in anger.

But his unrest was largely down to the brilliance of Zverev, who defiantly overcame the setback of missing out on five match-point openings in the second set.

The result came after the reigning champion Novak Djokovic had already been dumped out by Stefanos Tsitsipas.

 

It was Zverev who forged ahead, seizing on a break-point opening that came after a stinging forehand return winner.

He then confidently held serve for a 5-2 lead as Zverev continued to look the more settled of the two, a fact further underlined when he served out the final game of the set to love.

Federer offered a swift riposte at the start of the second set, clinching a break after settling a lengthy rally with a deft drop shot that Zverev could only lob wide on the stretch.

But Zverev refused to wilt and, showing remarkable power and accuracy to dictate matters from the baseline, he clawed his way back to level terms.

Serving at 5-5, Federer failed to land a first serve and found an inspired Zverev on the other side of the net, the 22-year-old battling hard to stay in a point that he ended up winning with a glorious, laser-like forehand down the line.

Federer produced his best tennis at 40-0 down, rescuing himself from the brink with a series of inspired shots to force a tie-break in which he survived two more match points before leveling things up.

 

To Zverev’s credit, he was soon back on the offensive and raced into a 3-0 lead in the decider, dropping only two points in the process.

He clung fiercely to that advantage against an uncharacteristically irritable Federer, who was docked a point in game four after striking a ball away in anger, having already been warned for doing so earlier.

Despite saving the two breakpoints that resulted from that penalty, there was no way back for Federer as Zverev sealed a memorable win in a contest lasting more than two hours.

NBA cancels Lakers, Nets media sessions for rest of tense China trip

“We don’t like NBA anymore” says fan before Lakers v Nets in Shanghai

Saturday’s scheduled preseason NBA game between the Lakers and Nets in Shenzhen, China, will go on as scheduled, but the NBA has canceled all media sessions for the rest of the league’s trip.

“We have decided not to hold media availability for our teams for the remainder of our trip in China,” the NBA said in a statement Friday. “They have been placed into a complicated and unprecedented situation while abroad, and we believe it would be unfair to ask them to address these matters in real time.”

The league made the decision independent of Chinese authorities, unidentified sources told ESPN.

Tensions have been high since Rockets GM Daryl Morey’s now-deleted tweet last Friday supporting anti-government protesters in Hong Kong raised the ire of China, and the fallout has been nonstop since.

Nets and Lakers players were not available to the media after Thursday’s 114-111 Brooklyn win in Shanghai, reportedly at the behest of the Chinese government, after multiple fan and team events had been canceled ahead of the game.

Here’s a rundown of the latest NBA-China news:

Chinese government aims to cool nationalistic anger

After several days of fanning nationalistic outrage, the Chinese government on Thursday abruptly moved to cool public anger at the NBA as concerns spread in Beijing that the rhetoric was “damaging China’s interests and image around the world,” The New York Times reported.

That’s a reversal from earlier in the week, when state-run news outlets and tightly controlled social media platforms were filled with criticism of the league after Morey’s tweet and NBA commissioner Adam Silver’s defense of free speech in the league.

Per the Times:

“Now, the Chinese government appears to be reassessing its campaign against the N.B.A. and dialing down the clamor. The government is already in a bruising trade war with the United States, and a backlash against China could hurt its image in the sporting world ahead of the 2022 Winter Olympics near Beijing.”

Even the Global Times, a tabloid considered one of China’s most nationalistic outlets, stopped fomenting populist indignation over the tweet.

“I think this issue will gradually de-escalate — Global Times will not push to keep it hot,” Hu Xijin, the newspaper’s top editor, wrote in an electronic response to The Times’ request for comment. “I also hope the American side won’t make any moves to escalate it.”

NBA apologizes for stopping reporter’s question to Rockets about China

The NBA apologized to a reporter who was stopped from asking Rockets stars James Harden and Russell Westbrook a question about the China situation during a media session in Japan.

During a news conference Thursday after the Rockets-Raptors preseason game in Tokyo, CNN reporter Christina Macfarlane asked Harden and Westbrook if they would “feel differently about speaking out” about issues because of recent events.

A Rockets’ media relations staff member interrupted, saying the players were taking only basketball-related questions.

“A team representative inappropriately interjected to prevent CNN’s Christina Macfarlane from receiving an answer to her question,” the league said in a statement Thursday. “We’ve apologized to Ms. Macfarlane as this was inconsistent with how the NBA conducts media events.”

Steve Kerr responds to President Trump’s criticism

Steve Kerr wasn’t fazed by President Donald Trump’s characterization that the Warriors coach acted like a scared “little boy” when asked about the situation with China.

Kerr, typically outspoken about hot-button political issues, chose not to comment Monday when asked about Morey’s tweet and the ensuing fallout, saying, in part, “It’s a really bizarre international story. A lot of us don’t know what to make of it. It’s something I’m reading about like everybody is, but I’m not gonna comment further.”

Trump’s subsequent description of Kerr’s answer: “I watch this guy Steve Kerr, and he was like a little boy. He was so scared to be even answering the question. He couldn’t answer the question, he was shaking. He didn’t know how to answer the question. He’ll talk about the United States very badly.”

Kerr on Thursday addressed Trump’s criticism, saying he was the “shiny object” for Trump to be mad at that day, “mainly just because it was me.”

“Then you stop and you think, this is just every day. This is just another day,” Kerr said. “I was the shiny object yesterday. There was another one today, there will be a new one tomorrow. And the circus will go on. It’s just strange, but it happened.”

Premier Boxing statement: Errol Spence Jr. expected to make full recovery

‘I’ll embarrass you in front of Bieber’ – Logan Paul and KSI trade verbal insults

Welterweight world champion Errol Spence Jr. is expected to make a full recovery from a single-car accident, according to a statement from Premier Boxing on Thursday.

Spence was injured in the early hours of Thursday morning and had been taken to the intensive care unit of a Dallas hospital.

Dallas Police confirmed the 29-year-old, who they said was not wearing a seatbelt at the time of the crash, was expected to live but the cause of the accident is undetermined.

Premier Boxing released a statement on Thursday to confirm Spence was stable and did not break any bones, but has some facial lacerations.

 

“He is expected to make a full recovery and is resting with his family by his side,” the statement read.

“The Spence’s want to thank everyone for their prayers and well wishes and are extremely grateful to the Dallas first responders who rushed to the scene and the doctors who are taking care of him.”

Deontay Wilder ‘ready to go’ for Tyson Fury rematch

‘I’ll embarrass you in front of Bieber’ – Logan Paul and KSI trade verbal insults

WBC champion Tyson Fury says he has nothing to prove as he trains his sights on becoming the undisputed world heavyweight champion.

Wilder declared he is “ready to go” for a rematch with Tyson Fury and will afterwards set his sights on unifying the heavyweight division.

WBC champion Wilder and Fury drew their first fight at the Staples Center in Los Angeles last December.

Wilder will put his title on the line against Luis Ortiz at the MGM Grand in November, with a second bout against former world champion Fury potentially to come next February.

American Wilder says he is hungry for another showdown with Fury and is fuelled by a determination to become the undisputed champion of the world.

“Yes, most definitely. I’m ready to go. Another rematch.” he told Sky Sports.

“Look at the route I’m taking. What more do I have to prove? Who else has taken the route that I am taking?

“I didn’t have to fight him again. I’m not obliged to fight him. I’m the champion – I do what I want to do.

“I have bet on myself. I move how I want to move. I run my operation.

“It will go Ortiz, then Fury, then a unification – one champion, one face, one name. How amazing would that be? Back to back to back, obtaining glory.”

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Five things we learned from Michael Porter Jr.’s long-awaited Denver Nuggets debut

“We don’t like NBA anymore” says fan before Lakers v Nets in Shanghai

Michael Porter Jr.’s Nuggets teammates know his past 19 months have been a struggle.

Denver’s No. 1 draft pick (14th overall) in 2018, Porter, 21, missed all of what was supposed to be his rookie NBA season as he rehabbed from a second back surgery last summer.

So on Tuesday night, when he sank his first NBA basket in a preseason game in Portland against the Trail Blazers, a 20-foot step-back jumper, the Nuggets bench erupted.

“He’s meant to play basketball, he’s meant to do this and God’s got him,” Monte Morris, who’s been something of a mentor to Porter, told The Denver Post. “Just go out there and do what you’ve been doing all your life.

“People don’t really know how good he really is.”

Porter’s line Tuesday: nine points on 4-for-7 shooting (with one missed 3-point attempt, too) and three rebounds.

After the game, deep inside the Veterans Memorial Coliseum, Porter’s relief was palpable, noted The Post. He was happy that his long-awaited debut went well, but he was over the novelty of it.

“Man, this is just a blessing,” he said. “I just need to enjoy this and be proud of myself, this is my dream come true to get out there and be an NBA player.”

Here are five things we learned from Michael Porter Jr.’s long-awaited Nuggets debut:

1. He’s a long way from being completely comfortable.

Injuries aside, just not taking part in competitive five-on-five game action against an actual opponent left more than a little rust.

“I kept playing with the ball because I couldn’t get a feel for it,” Porter said. “I was gonna make a move before I did, but the ball was feeling weird, so then I just dribbled again and then did a sidestep.”

Nineteen months is 19 months. Time and game minutes should only help.

2. He showed flashes of what the Nuggets envisioned.

Remember, Porter, who played only part of one season at Missouri because of the back problems, fell from a possible first overall pick to outside the lottery in 2018 because of questions about his long-term health, with the Nuggets taking the risk.

On Tuesday night, shortly after Porter finally checked in midway through the third quarter, the 6-foot-10 redshirt rookie showed there was nothing amiss with his silky step-back jumper as he went up and over Blazers 7-footer Zach Collins for that first bucket. A few minutes later, he took the ball to Blazers rookie Nassir Little, who at 6-6 had no way to fight Porter’s length and mile-high release point.

Per the Post: “Porter had several of those moments in Tuesday’s exhibition that helped validate some of the hype that had trickled out of Nuggets’ second-floor practice gym this summer.”

3. He could complement All-NBA center Nikola Jokic.

It wasn’t just the jumpers. Porter flashed moments where he appeared he could be a dangerous small forward complement alongside Nuggets All-NBA center Nikola Jokic, not to mention rising star Jamal Murray.

“Nikola was already talking to me,” Porter said. “When I get inside, people collapse on me, so just looking. I’m gonna be such a better player playing with Nikola because not only is he going to find me, but he’s going to teach me how to, when I attract a crowd, find people.”

Which leads to …

4. He’ll be looking for a defined role.

On every level of basketball until now, Porter has been used to being ball-dominant.

No more.

He’ll have to adjust to playing off the ball and improve at cutting hard through the lane to get many of his touches.

That’s a challenge offensively, especially as it appears he’ll be fighting Torrey Craig, Will Barton and Juancho Hernangomez for minutes on a team with high playoff expectations.

5. He has a ways to go defensively.

If Tuesday’s game offered a glimpse of Porter’s skills with the ball in his hands, then it also exposed his shortcomings at the other end of the floor.

Translation: Defensively, he isn’t close to understanding his responsibilities.

“He’s very gifted offensively,” Nuggets coach Michael Malone said. “I’ll watch the film, but my biggest takeaway is that he’s gotta give the defensive end just as much attention to detail as he does the offensive end. He’s a gifted scorer. He can take and make big, big shots and tough shots, but he’s gotta be locked in on the defensive end.”

This was only the first step. In the wake of his long-awaited debut, Porter seemed genuinely excited to dig into the game video, study his miscues as much as his highlights and build toward the future.

Kevin Love on trade rumors: ‘I do want to be’ with Cavaliers

“We don’t like NBA anymore” says fan before Lakers v Nets in Shanghai

Kevin Love doesn’t want to leave Cleveland despite trade speculation as the team looks to rebuild this season.

“I do want to be here. I always have,” Love told Cleveland.com. “I say that knowing it’s the NBA and it’s a business. I think especially after seeing last year, the summer leading up to last year and this summer, the changeover is like unprecedented so you don’t know what is going to happen.

“If they decide to go completely young … and that could be the case, but it’s funny, my agent didn’t call me one time this summer to say, ‘Hey, you’re getting traded, there’s talks that this is happening.’ Of course, somehow it’s still out there and people are talking about, ‘Oh, Kevin would be great here or great there.’ I just keep it moving and try to do right by these guys because we have a good group.”

Love, 31, signed a four-year, $120 million extension with Cleveland last year, but was still the subject of multiple trade rumors over the summer because the franchise opted to go with a younger roster.

It was reported by Cleveland.com in the offseason, however, that the Cavaliers don’t want to deal the veteran forward and would have to be “blown away” by an offer to consider moving him.

“Kevin (Love), he’s not going anywhere,” teammate Collin Sexton said in July. “I feel like he’s not going anywhere.”

Love was part of a three-team trade in 2014 as he went from Minnesota to the Cavaliers. He helped Cleveland reach the NBA Finals in his first four seasons with the team and win a championship in 2016, but the Cavaliers struggled last season after losing LeBron James to the Lakers in free agency.

Cleveland went 19-63 last season as Love struggled with injuries that limited him to 22 games. He averaged 17 points and 10.9 rebounds per game while shooting 36.1% from 3-point range last season.

“Once he got back from injury, he was great for us,” Sexton said. “He taught me a whole lot, and I can’t wait to keep learning from him.”

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NBA charity events in China canceled; Lakers-Nets games next?

“We don’t like NBA anymore” says fan before Lakers v Nets in Shanghai

Two charity events and another for NBA fans in China have been canceled amid reported growing concerns that this week’s preseason games between the Nets and Lakers might also be called.

This, after the fallout continues from Rockets GM Daryl Morey’s since-deleted tweet supporting anti-government protesters in Hong Kong.

Two NBA Cares events, one involving the Nets at an education center and another with the Lakers to benefit Special Olympics, were canceled. The fan event also was scheduled for Thursday but was canceled.

The league would only say that canceling the events was not its decision.

The NBA subsequently postponed the Lakers’ and Nets’ scheduled media sessions Wednesday in Shanghai, citing the “fluidity of the situation,” according to The Associated Press, which noted that “it remains unclear if the teams will play in China this week as scheduled.”

Commissioner Adam Silver, speaking Tuesday in Tokyo, said he and the NBA are “apologetic” over the effects of Morey’s tweet, but he noted that “we are not apologizing for Daryl exercising his freedom of expression,” a remark that left state-run broadcaster CCTV “strongly dissatisfied.”

Ahead of the first of two scheduled preseason games against the Nets on Thursday in Shanghai, the Lakers went ahead Wednesday with a practice closed to the media, an unidentified team source told ESPN. The Nets also practiced Wednesday, The AP reported.

The teams are scheduled to play again Saturday in Shenzhen, but The New York Times reported early Wednesday that there are “growing fears” that the Chinese government will cancel the games, too.

Per the Times’ Marc Stein:

“In discussions I’ve had over the past few days with a number of well-placed observers, who are familiar with both the Chinese landscape and N.B.A. dealings, there are growing fears that government officials will cancel the two games. Various sponsors, media outlets and the Chinese Basketball Association itself — led by the former Rockets great Yao Ming — have already vowed to have nothing to do with the Rockets for the foreseeable future.

“Silver is scheduled to arrive in China on Wednesday to begin face-to-face damage control with some of the aggrieved entities. Among them is Yao himself; Silver has acknowledged that the Hall of Fame center is ‘extremely’ angry.

“‘And I understand it,’ Silver said.”

In response to Silver’s remarks in Japan, CCTV announced that it would not carry the two games in China and also is reviewing all of its dealings with the NBA.

Meanwhile, videos posted to social media appeared to show workers taking down banners promoting the games and NBA in China.

Silver was expected to arrive in the country later Wednesday and address both teams as frustrations mounted among players, according to ESPN, which added “no one knows if Thursday’s Lakers-Nets game is really going to happen.”

“I’m a realist, as well,” Silver said at his Tokyo news conference. “And I recognize that this issue may not die down so quickly.”

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Gregg Popovich shares opinion on NBA-China controversy, Adam Silver

“We don’t like NBA anymore” says fan before Lakers v Nets in Shanghai

The ongoing and developing controversy between the NBA and China is a topic most people have decided to stay away from. Well, Spurs head coach Gregg Popovich isn’t most people.

Before San Antonio’s preseason game against the Heat on Tuesday (Wednesday in Manila), Popovich offered praise for commissioner Adam Silver for how he’s handled the firestorm that followed a tweet from Rockets general manager Daryl Morey.

“Adam is a very progressive leader,” Popovich said (via MySanAntonio.com). “We all remember how he handled the situation with the former owner of the Clippers (Donald Sterling, who Silver banned for life for racist remarks). It made everybody proud because it was the right thing to do. A couple of years ago, I was walking the streets in New York City during the gay pride parade. I turned around and here comes a float, and Adam is standing on a float with a big sign in support of LGBTQ. And I felt great again, just like I did with the Clipper deal.

“He came out strongly for freedom of speech (today). I felt great again. He’s been a heck of a leader in that respect and very courageous.”

Silver said early Tuesday in Tokyo that the league is “apologetic” and “regrets” that Chinese officials and fans were upset by Morey’s now-deleted tweet in which he commented: “Fight for Freedom. Stand with Hong Kong.”

Silver also said Morey had a right to freedom of expression.

“Values of equality, respect and freedom of expression have long defined the NBA — and will continue to do so,” Silver said in a separate segment Tuesday. “As an American-based basketball league operating globally, among our greatest contributions are these values of the game.”

Popovich acknowledged the courage it took for Silver to release a statement that left China’s state broadcaster CCTV “strongly dissatisfied”

“It wasn’t easy for him to say,” Popovich said. “He said that in an environment fraught with possible economic peril. But he sided with the principles that we all hold dearly, or most of us did until the last three years. I’m thrilled with what he said. The courage and leadership displayed is off the charts by comparison.”

Since Morey’s tweet, several NBA fan events in China have been canceled and CCTV has said it will not broadcast the two preseason games between the Lakers and Nets later this week in Shanghai.

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WNBA Finals: Sun force Game 5 after dramatic win over Mystics

“We don’t like NBA anymore” says fan before Lakers v Nets in Shanghai

After a dominant first quarter, where they outscored the Mystics 32-17, the Sun kept their composure down the stretch to win 90-86.

The 2019 WNBA Finals are heading to the nation’s capital for a decisive Game 5.

The Connecticut Sun hosted the Washington Mystics Tuesday with the Sun facing a must-win situation.

After a dominant first quarter, where they outscored the Mystics 32-17, the Sun kept their composure down the stretch even after seemingly losing it.

Connecticut came away with a 90-86 win to tie the best-of-five series at 2-2.

“We just needed to get back to what we were doing in the first quarter,” Alyssa Thomas said, in part, after the game. “We came out with low energy in the third [quarter] and it was just about staying calm and doing what we do.”

 

A barrage of late 3-pointers from both teams were just a few of the highlights to come out of Game 4.

 

Courtney Williams, who has had a breakout performance in the playoffs and provided a number of highlights of her own, finished with 16 points for the Sun while grabbing seven rebounds and dishing out four assists.

Thomas was one of the better shooters for Connecticut and finished with 17 points. She trailed only Jonquel Jones, who finished with a game-high 18 points on 6-of-10 shooting.

All five of the Sun’s starters scored in double figures while three of the Mystics, along with two reserves, reached that mark.

Aerial Powers led the losing efforts with 15 points while Ariel Atkins chipped in 14. The 2019 MVP Elena Delle Donne netted 11 on 5-of-8 shooting for Washington.

Game 5 is scheduled for Thursday at 8 p.m. ET.

Either outcome will give each franchise its first-ever WNBA title.

 

WATCH: 76ers’ Ben Simmons finally makes a 3-pointer

“We don’t like NBA anymore” says fan before Lakers v Nets in Shanghai

The 76ers guard has famously struggled from beyond the arc over his first two years.

It happened. It finally happened.

Ben Simmons hit his first career 3-pointer.

The 76ers guard has famously struggled from beyond the arc in his first two years. In his 17 attempts, Simmons was unable to sink a single one and became the butt of jokes surrounding his range.

But, all of that ended Tuesday when the 76ers faced the Guangzhou Long-Lions of the Chinese Basketball Association in an exhibition game.

Simmons, the 2018 Rookie of the Year, pulled up for three from beyond the 3-point line at the end of the first half and the rest was history.

 

It was a sight for very sore eyes. The last time Simmons made a three was in November of 2015 when he was in college playing for LSU.

Now in his third year in the NBA, he has seemingly focused on his 3-point shot as multiple videos surfaced in the offseason of him working on his range. One of the latest videos was captured days before Tuesday’s game with an emphatic, “Oh my God!” heard from one of the onlookers.

 

We’ll see how well this translates to the regular season when the 76ers host the Celtics on Oct. 23 for their opener.

 

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Kevin Durant says ‘cool thing right now is not the New York Knicks’

“We don’t like NBA anymore” says fan before Lakers v Nets in Shanghai

Kevin Durant offered his opinion as to why the Knicks couldn’t land free agents over the summer, saying there’s a misconception of New York’s brand.

“I think a lot of fans look at the Knicks as a brand and expect these younger players — who in their lifetime don’t remember the Knicks being good — (to look at it the same way),” Durant said Tuesday during an interview with Hot 97 in New York (via USA Today).

“I didn’t grow up with the Knicks being good. Well, I remember the Knicks being in the Finals, but the kids after me didn’t see that. So the brand of the Knicks isn’t as cool to them as, let’s say, the Golden State Warriors or even the Lakers or the Nets now. The cool thing right now is not the Knicks.”

Durant and Kyrie Irving were linked to the Knicks ahead of free agency, but that didn’t pan out for New York. Durant admitted he “thought about” signing with the Knicks, but never seriously considered it.

“It’s just a thought,” Durant added. “I didn’t really do any full analysis on the Knicks.”

Instead, he opted to leave the Warriors and sign with the Nets on a four-year, $164 million deal.

“Basketball is the most important thing for me, so playing with Kyrie, DeAndre Jordan, the young players they got, was key,” Durant said of his decision to sign with the Nets. “Playing with Golden State, playing with an older group, I thought it was time for me to kind of impose my will on a younger group.

“I just wanted to be around a nice group of young players and also a good mix of vets.”

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Russell Westbrook has mixed feelings after Rockets preseason debut

“We don’t like NBA anymore” says fan before Lakers v Nets in Shanghai

Russell Westbrook had mixed feelings after his Rockets debut ended in defeat to the Raptors in Tokyo.

Lining up alongside James Harden for the first time since the two former NBA MVPs were reunited with his offseason trade, Westbrook scored 13 points, adding six assists, two rebounds and a steal in a 21-minute outing.

Harden impressed with a game-high 34 points, but the Rockets went down 134-129 in Tuesday’s preseason game. The two teams will do it all again in Japan’s capital on Thursday.

“It wasn’t bad — unfortunately we didn’t win and that’s the main goal,” Westbrook said. “But it was good to get on the floor for the first time, get up and down, try to find a rhythm. We’ve got a lot of work to do, including myself getting in better shape and game condition, so we’ll get it together.

“I’d love to play here for the Olympics, I think its an unbelievable place to be. I love Tokyo, the fans here and the atmosphere. But our main focus now is on the season and finishing the season like we want to with the championship trophy.”

Harden’s 27-minute performance, in which he connected with 4-of-7 3-pointers, came as he continues to stress the importance of intensity in the Rockets’ preseason games.

“We’ve been doing an unbelievable job in practice of pushing ourselves,” said Harden, who had scored 37 against the Clippers last time out. “Even in these preseason games we are trying to push it past our limits. That way, when the season starts in a few weeks, we’ll be ready.

“I’m still working on my conditioning. I know for myself and Russ, who was excited for his first game out there, conditioning isn’t where we want it to be, so that’s what these games are for.

“We are focusing on our team and getting better — we have a great opportunity ahead of us and we’re focused every single day. We’re glad to see Russ out there on the basketball court.”

Of the Tokyo crowd, Harden added: “It was amazing. They got an opportunity to see what NBA basketball is about, what Rockets basketball is about. They brought the energy.

“They were excited from the beginning of the game. They made us want to go out there and put on a show, so hopefully it can be that same kind of atmosphere on Thursday.”

Pascal Siakam had 24 points for the Raptors, who were playing their first preseason game.

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