Tragic January for NBA
WHAT a tragic January it had been for the NBA family. There were a pair of deaths involving an NBA personality during the month.
Crossing the Great Beyond were the following:
Former NBA commissioner (1984-2014) David Joel Stern, who died on New Year’s Day after collapsing due to brain hemorrhage last December 12.
Kobe Bean Bryant, who played his entire 20-year NBA career with the Los Angeles Lakers from 1996-2016, met his death on January 26 (January 27 Manila time at around 2 a.m.) in a helicopter crash that also killed his 13-year-old daughter Gianna and seven other people.
Another retired NBA player, Rasual Butler, died in January two years ago. Butler, a 6-foot-7 forward who donned the colors of Miami, New Orleans, Los Angeles Clippers, Chicago, Toronto, Indiana, Washington and San Antonio from 2002-16, was killed along with his celebrity wife in a traffic collision at Studio City, California on January 31, 2018.
Like Bryant, Butler also hailed from Philadelphia and attended La Salle University.
The reports from various news sources on Butler’s demise were as follows:
Former NBA player Rasual Butler died in a car crash in Studio City, Calif. He was 38. A statement released by Butler’s former team, the LA Clippers, confirmed that he and his wife Leah LaBelle, a singer who competed on season three of “American Idol,” were both killed. LAPD Valley Traffic Division officer believe that speed was a factor in the crash.
From Wikipedia: On January 31, 2018, Butler and his girlfriend, singer Leah LaBelle, were killed instantly in a car accident in the Studio City neighborhood of Los Angeles, California, after he lost control of his Range Rover while traveling at over 60 mph on Ventura Boulevard and crashed violently into a strip mall parking lot. Their bodies were cremated and Rasual’s cremated remains were given to his adult daughter Raven. Autopsy reports showed traces of methamphetamine, oxycodone and marijuana in Butler’s body, and a blood alcohol content of 0.118.
Before Bryant, the most recent violent death of a retired NBA athlete was Andre Emmett, who died in the early morning of September 23, 2019 at the age of 37 following a shooting in his hometown of Dallas, Texas.
According to the Dallas Police Department, Emmett was “approached by two unknown suspects as he sat in his vehicle in front of his residence in the 1800 block of N. Prairie Avenue. The suspects displayed a handgun and an altercation ensued, during which the victim was shot as he ran away from the suspects.” A neighbor called 911 and Emmett was transported to a local hospital, where he later died.
The 6-foot-5 Emmett, a (2000-04) product of Texas Tech University under legendary coach Bobby Knight, played for the Memphis Grizzlies (eight games) in 2004-05 and New Jersey (now Brooklyn) Nets (six games) in 2011-12 in the NBA. A basketball journeyman, he also suited up in the NBA D-League (where he was the league’s All-Star Game MVP in 2015 or just a month before his stint in our local pro league) and had international stops in Lithuania, Belgium, France, China, Lebanon, Venezuela, the Philippines (where he was an import for the Meralco Bolts in the 2015 PBA Governors’ Cup), South Korea and Puerto Rico.
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Does anyone still remember former NBA player Bison Dele (the former Brian Williams), whose body could not be found until now following a ship mishap?
From Wikipedia comes this description of Dele:
Bison Dele (born Brian Carson Williams; April 6, 1969 – presumed dead July 7, 2002) was an American professional basketball player who played center. He played for the NBA’s Orlando Magic, Denver Nuggets, Los Angeles Clippers, Chicago Bulls and Detroit Pistons. Dele won a championship with the Bulls in 1997. He is believed to have been murdered at sea by his older brother Miles Dabord in 2002. His girlfriend, Serena Karlan, and skipper Bertrand Saldo are also presumed to have been killed by Dabord.
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There will be a new format in next month’s NBA All-Star Game in Chicago.
Winners get a certain amount for charity for every quarter won in the first, second and third quarters.
The fourth quarter starts with the combined scores of each team in the first three frames tallied and the team first to reach 24 points (as a tribute to Kobe Bryant) wins the novel playground game-style game. Bryant wore No. 24 in the second half (2006-2016) of his entire 20-year NBA tenure with the LA Lakers where he was an 18-time All-Star and won 5 NBA championship rings. Bryant wore No. 8 during his first 10 seasons (1996-2006) in the league with a title three-peat from 2000 to 2002.
The new format was proposed by NBA union president Chris Paul a year ago to create more excitement to the midseason showcase. Then when Bryant died from a helicopter crash last Jan. 26 (Jan. 27 early morning, MT), the idea of a plus-24 output was added on.
For example: If the combined score of the teams after three quarters is 108-96, then the score of the winning team must be at least 132 points.
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The 14 NBA All-Star Game reserves – seven from each conference – as selected by the league’s 30 head coaches in a balloting are as follows:
Jayson Tatum (Boston), Bam Adebayo (Miami), Domantas Sabonis (Indiana), Kyle Lowry (Toronto) Jimmy Butler (Miami), Ben Simmons (Philadelphia) and Khris Middleton (Milwaukee, the first alumnus of the NBA G-League to earn an All-Star berth a year ago)
Chris Paul (Oklahoma City), Brandon Ingram (New Orleans), Rudy Gobert (Utah), Donovan Mitchell (Utah), Russell Westbrook (Houston), Damian Lillard (Portland) and Nikola Jokic (Denver)
For the first time in a decade, there will be nine players making their All-Star Game debut in Chicago on February 17 (Manila time), barring any injuries. They are starters Luka Doncic (Dallas), Trae Young (Atlanta) and Pascal Siakam (Toronto) and reserves Mitchell, Gobert, Ingram, Sabonis, Adebayo and Tatum.
Doncic (Slovenia), Siakam (Cameroon), Milwaukee’s Giannis Antetokuonmpo (Greece), Philadelphia’s Joel Embiid (Cameroon), Gobert (France), Simmons (Australia) and Jokic (Serbia) are the international All-Star players.
Sabonis was born in Portland, Oregon of Lithuanian heritage. His dad, 7-foot-3 Arvydas Sabonis, joined the NBA at the ripe age of 30 and played for the Portland Trail Blazers from 1995 to 2003.
At 21 years and 333 days, Tatum, a first-timer to the mid-season showcase, became the second-youngest Celtics player selected to the All-Star Game behind Antoine Walker, who was 153 days younger.
The NBA All-Star Game will feature Team LeBron (James) and Team Giannis. James and Antetokuonmpo were the top vote-getters in West and East conferences, respectively, during the All-Star balloting.
All players chosen for the All-Star Game will be put into a draft pool where James, being the leading All-Star vote-collector, will select ahead of Antetokuonmpo in the first round (among the starters). The Greek Freak, though, will choose first in the second round (among the reserves).
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