One night of preseason in the books, and nobody good hurt. I think that qualifies as a success.
The dust has settled and the NBA offseason has officially hit its conclusion when it comes to the futures market.
When the Golden State Warriors made it to the 2013 NBA playoffs for the first time in six years – and just the second time in 19 dreadful years - it appeared the team was finally headed in the right direction. From ownership, management, coaching and the talent level, you could sense that what the Warriors were building was legitimate and lasting. This was going to be more than just another short-lived “We Believe” season.
The Warriors continued in that direction in the offseason by surprisingly making a real run at Dwight Howard. It never came to fruition, but think about that for a second: Dwight Howard actually considered Golden State as a desirable location. In the last two decades, no superstar has ever considered the idea of settling down with the Warriors, and the ones already on the team with the potential to be superstars all wanted to leave.
So how did the Warriors build this suddenly respectable reputation and become a desirable destination for superstars and veterans? A lot of it has to do with what happened in the playoffs, and partly due to the charisma of coach Mark Jackson.
The 2012-13 season was a tale of two beings for the Denver Nuggets. The first being was the regular season, where they won an NBA franchise-record 57 games. The other was the playoffs, where they were abruptly taken out by the Golden State Warriors in six games.
This offseason was a shocking one for many Nuggets fans. GM Masai Ujiri, the NBA Executive of the Year, walked away and was replaced by Tim Connelly. Long-time coach George Karl was fired and replaced by rookie coach Brian Shaw. And free agents Andre Iguodola and Corey Brewer were not re-signed.
There is some new blood in the form of free agents J.J. Hickson, Randy Foye and Nate Robinson, further adding to the mystery of the 2013-14 season for the Nuggets. Nobody is sure what to expect out of them. Here are five things to watch.
It’s a show about people who fall in love online, only to learn that the person they had been in a relationship with is not actually who they claim to be. The person taking the identity of another person for one reason or another is known as a catfish, and they can apparently get to anyone: even an NBA star like Chris Andersen, aka Birdman.
You may have heard in the past that Andersen was being investigated for his involvement with an underaged girl. It sounded quite troubling, but there was never any detail as to what the whole story was about. The details of exactly what happened has surfaced, and “Birdman” was reportedly the victim of an internet crime, from Brian Windhorst of ESPN:
“We were always confident that Chris was innocent but we just couldn’t figure out what had happened,” Andersen’s lawyer, Mark Bryant, told ESPN.com. “It turned out that it was a Manti Te’o situation. It was Manti Te’o on steroids.”
In Andersen’s case, a woman in the middle used social media to dupe two people without their knowledge, according to police.
The woman, identified by the Denver Post as Shelly Lynn Chartier of Easterville, Manitoba, posed as Andersen in electronic conversations with a woman in California. Then she posed as the California woman in electronic conversations with Andersen.
Along the way, police told Andersen, she made threats pretending to be Andersen and attempted extortion pretending to be the woman from California. Chartier was arrested by Canadian authorities in January.
Her communications between the parties were successful enough that the woman from California traveled to Colorado, when Andersen was then playing for the Denver Nuggets, and met Andersen. Their relationship, however, did not develop. At the time of their meeting, the woman from California was of legal age, Bryant said.
“When they searched Chris’ house they were basically looking for an I.P. address,” Bryant said. “But it wasn’t there. They kept investigating but it took time because it ended up involving two countries.”
It’s amazing that investigators were able to come to the bottom of this issue. It’s even more amazing – in a very disturbing way – that someone is capable of duping two people into believing that they are actually talking to each other online. Luckily for Andersen, he will not be wrongfully charged in any way, and can move forward with his life. The lesson here: if you meet someone online and the communication is sketchy, turn away from the computer and go find yourself a date that you can actually see face to face.
Onto other news from around the league (14 items):
- Jeff Pendergraph is no longer Jeff Pendergraph and here is why, from Jeff McDonald of Express-News: “In July, the Spurs signed a free agent forward named Jeff Pendergraph to a two-year contract. No player by that name will ever appear in a Spurs uniform. Last month, Pendergraph walked into a courthouse in downtown Phoenix, his wife Raneem and newborn daughter Naomi in tow. He walked out with a new name — Jeff Ayres. Ayres is family name of his biological father, James. It replaces the surname of a stepfather who hasn’t been in the picture since the player formerly known Jeff Pendergraph was in high school. For the 26-year-old veteran of three NBA seasons, the journey from Pendergraph to Ayres was in some ways as simple as filling out a thick stack of paperwork and filing it with an Arizona judge. It was also a complicated decision, with a complex back story, one that tests the traditional definitions of blood and family. “I didn’t know who my dad was until I was a senior in high school,” Jeff Ayres said Wednesday, during a break from pickup games as the Spurs’ practice gym.”