Victor Oladipo offered a big smile. He was reminded that, in an interview before the start of this season, he declared that 2017-18 would be a no-nonsense year. No more Mr. Nice Guy was how he’d put it as he headed into his first season with Indiana, just a short drive up from Indiana University, where Oladipo starred for three seasons.
All that begged the question: Had he been too nice during his first five NBA seasons?
Too nice in Orlando, apparently, where he had been the No. 2 pick in the 2013 draft but was never able to take control of a young team scrambling for a leader. By his third and final season with the Magic, he’d spent a quarter of a season as a sixth man, losing his starting backcourt spot to Evan Fournier and rookie Elfrid Payton.
Last year in Oklahoma City, he was a consistent starter again, but made little improvement, instead plucking his opportunities where he could behind league MVP Russell Westbrook.
Kyle Kuzma and Brandon Ingram of the Lakers were in the Rising Stars game. For the Clippers, Lou Williams was in the Skills Challenge, and Tobias Harris was in the 3-Point Contest. That’s it.
There is something plain weird about being in Los Angeles for a celebration of the best of pro basketball and finding so few players from the LA franchises among the best. The only solace, perhaps, is that there are a handful of players with Los Angeles roots on hand.
Sporting News: How did you get involved with the promotion?
Hot Sauce: The good folks at Kumho Tire called me. They’re all about control, performance, handle and grip, so who better to collaborate with than the Sauce? They’re the official tires of the NBA. So I took the call and decided it would be fun to crack some of these fans ankles. I get paid to go out there and cross people up. It’s a great way to show off my skills for a great brand. Plus, it’s fun. The fans are all geeked up until they find out it’s me. I’ve had at least four guys quit. We basically pick a fan out, and if him or her [is] brave enough to go out there, I’ll break their ankles.
In the opening 7:16 of the Heat’s game in Dallas on Monday, we got the full Hassan Whiteside. Miami coach Erik Spoelstra, seeking to exploit the undersized Mavericks, hammered the ball to Whiteside in the middle repeatedly.