Bernucca: Will the $30 Million Player Become Extinct?

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Jordan_by_Lipofsky_16577Like three to make two, the 10-second violation and low-top sneakers, the $30 million NBA player may become a thing of the past.

A handful of stars have approached and even crossed the magical monetary mountaintop, which is something when you consider that the collective bargaining agreement has a maximum salary restraint.

Michael Jordan – who else? – was the first player to make $30 million in one season, negotiating about an 800 percent raise after the 1995-96 season. That was Jordan’s first full campaign after returning from his first retirement, when he led the Chicago Bulls to a record 72 wins and was MVP of both the regular season and NBA Finals.

Jordan took a 10 percent raise to $33.14 million for the 1997-98 season, his last before retiring again. Since then, both Shaquille O’Neal and Kevin Garnett easily could have crossed the threshold had they not reworked their deals to take less money over more years.

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SH Blog: Kevin Garnett waives no-trade clause to complete mega-trade between Nets-Celtics

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Kevin GarnettWhen Brooklyn Nets owner Mikhail Prokhorov became the majority owner of the team, he made a promise that raised plenty of eyebrows: the Nets will win a championship in five years.

It sounded like an impossible promise for a team that had been so awful ever since the departure of Jason Kidd back in the 2007-2008 season. Slowly but surely, though, Prokhorov made sure that his words would prove to be meaningful by building a new arena to help attract free agents and willingly spent top dollar to acquire the best available talents around the league. Fittingly, he even brought back Kidd – this time as a head coach.

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Bernucca: Melo Needs to Take a Pass on Hero Ball

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Carmelo AnthonyHere’s the bottom line on Carmelo Anthony’s recent play. Using the measuring stick of points per shot, it is his worst four-game stretch of the postseason since the first four playoff games of his career.

Furthermore, when compared alongside other worst four-game stretches of contemporary solo superstars, it is near the bottom.

Following Sunday’s loss to Indiana in the Eastern Conference semifinals opener, the Knicks are 1-3 in their last four games, including 0-2 at home. Their only win saw them nearly squander a 26-point lead in a matter of minutes as they repeatedly force-fed Anthony (and, to be fair, J.R. Smith) in isolation situations.

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SH Blog: George Karl explains Nuggets success, Michael Jordan promises off-season changes

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GeorgeKarlErik Spoelstra may be hunting for the greatest winning streak of all-time, but there is probably no one having more fun with his job than Denver Nuggets coach George Karl these days.

Sure, a 14-game winning streak is no 24-game winning streak, but the reigning champions were supposed to be this good at some point this season. Not a whole lot around the league expected Denver to play this big of a role in the Western Conference. After the improbable 101-100 victory against the Philadelphia 76ers on Thursday, it stands alone at a league-best 31-3 at home.

Here is a detailed look at the mindset of a very happy coach about why his team has been so successful and how important homecourt advantage would be in the playoffs, from Sam Amick of USA Today

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Pastuszek: Update on Americans Playing in China

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The 15-day, 24 hour barrage of firecrackers that start on chun jie (Chinese New Year) ended two nights ago to the relief of this now nearly deaf blogger as China celebrated the final night of the Lunar Festival, yuan xiao (Lantern Festival).

Marking the 15th day and first full moon of the new year, the festival is the official end of the Spring Festival period… and of all of the loud firecrackers that are lit off in every corner of Beijing and other places in China.

But with the Chinese Basketball Association post-season set to tip off this Wednesday, there’s still a lot more fireworks to come in the month of March. Happily, they’ll only be metaphorical.

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