LeBron James tops NBA jersey sales — again

Six titles in a row for LeBron James. No, not NBA titles. Six times leading the NBA in jersey sales, his third time as a Cleveland Cavalier.
The rankings are based on overall retail sales on NBAStore.com since the start of the 2014-2015 season.
Here is the Top 10:
1. LeBron James, Cleveland Cavaliers
2. Stephen Curry, Golden State Warriors
3. Kobe Bryant, L.A. Lakers
4. Kevin Durant, OKC Thunder
5. Derrick Rose, Chicago Bulls
6. Kyrie Irving, Cleveland Cavaliers
7. Tim Duncan, San Antonio Spurs
8. Carmelo Anthony, New York Knicks
9. Dwyane Wade, Miami Heat
10. Blake Griffin, L.A. Clippers

By team merchandise, the top five in sales were the Bulls, Cavs, Warriors, Lakers and Thunder.

Grizzlies borrow page from Spurs’ playbook

Well, it’s official. The Memphis Grizzlies are serious enough about a deep postseason run that they are responding to this uneven stretch of play — 5-5 in their last 10 games — by going all Gregg Popovich and San Antonio Spurs.

The Grizzlies play at the Washington Wizards at 6 p.m. tonight, Thursday March 12, and the game is being nationally televised on TNT.

Doesn’t matter. Not only will point guard Mike Conley sit out with a badly sprained ankle, but center Marc Gasol, power forward Zach Randolph and swingman Tony Allen will not play.

The reason? “Rest.”

Yes, this goes against “Grit-n-Grind” at some level. But at this stage of the season, rest is an excellent idea.

And if it ticks off a TV network, so much the better.

It’s official: Kuran Iverson leaving Memphis Tigers

From the Department of Secrets That Never Were: Kuran Iverson is leaving the University of Memphis basketball program.

The U of M made the official announcement Friday – after coach Josh Pastner spent several days giving only his name, rank and serial number when asked about Iverson’s status.

The move confirms everyone’s suspicion of the wrong way for a player to conduct himself while on suspension for an undisclosed “violation of team rules.” Namely, taking to Twitter and retweeting someone else’s over-the-top criticism of your coach, including the accusation that he uses players as “scapegoats.”

Iverson, a 6-9 sophomore, never made much of an impact on the court. He played in 27 games over the last season and a half and was averaging 4.6 points and 1.9 rebounds in eight games this season. That’s not a lot of production from a former Top 50 recruit.

And not much protection when you put yourself in the position Iverson did. Iverson will transfer after the spring semester, Friday’s announcement said, and no doubt some program will give him a look despite the baggage.

“We thank Kuran for his contributions to the program and wish him well in his future academic and athletic endeavors,” Pastner said in a statement.

Just a guess, but Iverson’s future basketball coach will have an even more definitive statement on Iverson’s way in the door: No Twitter, not ever.

10 Quick Impressions from Memphis Tigers’ debacle vs. CBU

Division 2 CBU defeated the University of Memphis 74-70 Wednesday night in an exhibition game at FedExForum and by Thursday morning cars were sliding across bridges and roadways because the world had been turned on its side.

Here are 10 quick impressions

1. Turnovers will be a major problem all season. The Tigers made 21 against CBU and also struggled with turnovers in the scrimmage against Saint Louis. Kedren Johnson, the guard transfer from Vanderbilt, had six of those turnovers.
2. This is a worse shooting team than a year ago. The Tigers went 5-for-22 from 3-point range vs. CBU. Think they’ll get better looks against No. 11 Wichita State next Tuesday in the opener?
3. They will be easy to defend. Pack it in on Shaq Goodwin and Austin Nichols, who went 14-for-17 Wednesday, and force anyone else to make a shot.
4. There’s a contradiction between what they can do and what coach Josh Pastner wants them to do. He says they need more pace on offense, which may be true, but if you make turnovers at a slower pace how many will you make at a faster pace?
5. With this small sample size, we’ve seen no indication this crop of guards can drive to the rim or at least deep into paint. Miss Joe Jackson yet?
6. Transfer forward Calvin Godfrey, who does have plenty of D 1 experience, looked lost in his 14 minutes.
7. Guard Avery Woodson plays extremely hard on defense but has very real limitations offensively.
8. Guard Pookie Powell has offensive potential but needs an introduction to defense.
9. Fans, those who came in the first place, left in two waves Wednesday. At the end of regulation and late in overtime when the loss was obvious. Patience is already thin.
10. This collection of players would be a challenge for a seasoned, top-shelf, X’s and O’s guy. Pastner will have to elevate his coaching game for the Tigers to reach the NCAA Tournament for a fifth straight season.

Tigers basketball season starts with “secret scrimmage”

You can’t be there. Media can’t be there. But on Saturday, Nov. 8 at FedExForum, the University of Memphis men’s basketball team will play an undisclosed opponent (Ok, we’re 99 percent sure it’s Saint Louis) in a “secret scrimmage.”

One thing that’s not a secret: Sophomore forward Austin Nichols won’t play because of “double case of pink eye,” according to Tigers coach Josh Pastner. Junior forward Shaq Goodwin and guard and Vanderbilt transfer Kedren Johnson, who also are nursing minor injuries, are questionable.

Sophomore Nick King not having Nichols, and possibly Goodwin, won’t have an impact on the rest of the Tigers.

“We know what Shaq and Austin are capable of doing,” King said.

Pastner has a largely inexperienced team this season after losing four senior guards off a team that advanced to the Round of 32 in the NCAA Tournament. He says he’s confident this team will play hard and defend but, beyond that, “I have no idea about outcomes of games.

“As much as I can’t stand gray area,” Pastner said, “this team has a lot of gray area.”

Dansette

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