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Thursday Bolts: 01.02.20

Thursday Bolts: 01.02.20

RIP David Stern.

Among the many great tributes out there, I enjoyed David Aldridge’s (The Athletic): “He was a giant, the giant in my line of work, the biggest reason by far that the NBA is the business and entertainment leviathan it is today. Of course the greatness and personalities of Michael Jordan and LeBron James and Kareem Abdul-Jabbar and Magic Johnson and Larry Bird and Isiah Thomas were driving forces for the league’s renaissance in the ’80s and ’90s. Of course people marveled at their brilliance and drive and the championships they won. But Stern put all of them on the biggest stage, to the biggest audience. He understood, and often said, that the NBA was at its best when the attention was on the players, not off-court issues like collective bargaining or purported drug use. And it was Stern’s NBA that created the mechanisms through which the players could best be seen.”

Chris Paul and Clay Bennett also reacted to Stern’s death:

Eric Pincus (Bleacher Report) says the Suns have interest in Danilo Gallinari.

Marc Stein (NYT) reiterates the idea that the Houston bridges were already burned before Chris Paul was traded to the Thunder this summer: “I was as skeptical of the Harden/Westbrook reunion as anyone, but you have to remember: It was no longer a realistic option for Houston to keep Chris Paul and try again with that group. Paul’s relationship with the Rockets was irretrievably broken after last season. And there simply wasn’t a long list of trade partners willing to take on Paul’s massive contract.”

Chad Smith (Basketball Insiders) has Billy Donovan as one of his overachieving coaches this season.

People are taking note of Chris Paul’s stellar play:

Joe Mussatto (The Oklahoman) on the “quantum” leap Shai Gilgeous-Alexander has taken, as Rick Carlisle described it.

Jonathan Tjarks (The Ringer) on the increasingly varied paths players are taking to enter the NBA draft: “The NBL, based in Australia and New Zealand, is trying to make going overseas much more viable. Terrance Ferguson, who was taken by the Thunder with the no. 21 pick in 2017, was the first to play in the Next Stars Program. And now Hampton and Ball are seeing their draft stocks rise there.”

The Thunder and, more frequently, Russell Westbrook, show up a lot in ESPN’s statistical breakdown of the decade.

Another decade retrospective, this one from Michael Lee (The Athletic) on the biggest surprises: “When (Kevin) Durant wept in his parents’ arms after losing to Miami in the Finals, the Warriors had just finished their fifth straight lottery season and Steph Curry had just had surgery on his troublesome ankles. The odds that Golden State would beat Oklahoma City to a championship parade, let alone that the Thunder wouldn’t have one at all, were slimmer than a rookie Durant.”