The N.B.A. is back (so soon!) with a doubleheader on opening night, featuring several of the league’s biggest names: LeBron James, Kevin Durant, Stephen Curry and Kawhi Leonard.
For Durant, it’s a much-anticipated regular-season debut with the Nets, alongside Kyrie Irving. And it’s a reunion, as the Nets face off against his former team, the Golden State Warriors, and former teammate in Curry.
For James, it’s ring night: His Los Angeles Lakers will have the official ceremony for the championship they won just over 10 weeks ago. Then they will take on Leonard and the Clippers in the night’s second game.
We’ll be updating live.
What: Warriors @ Nets, 7 p.m. Eastern time; Clippers @ Lakers, 10 p.m.
How to watch: TNT
It’s rare that an N.B.A. preseason game is must-see television.
But a matchup featuring the Nets and Washington Wizards might have been the most anticipated preseason game in New York basketball history.
The Nets won, 119-114, at Barclays Center, but what mattered was the product on the floor: Durant and Irving looked every bit the All-Stars they have been their entire careers.
But Durant showed minimal sign of that injury. He made all three of his field goals in the first quarter and looked spry running up and down the court. He finished the first half with 15 points on eight shots. One of the best scorers in the history of the N.B.A., Durant pulled out moves he had refined before his injury, like his one-footed fadeaway. He was also active defensively, blocking two shots and taking a charge.
Durant said afterward that he didn’t think he had played particularly well, but that the game was a “good first step.”
I’m not ready to say goodbye to the Golden State Warriors.
I find myself pining for the splendor of Steph Curry, the snarl of Draymond Green, the beautiful basketball, the sheer dominance. I fear we may never see it again — at least, not at the level we once did.
Klay Thompson’s shredded Achilles’ tendon probably means a second straight lost season, and possibly a fatal blow to the Warriors’ hopes for a revival. And that’s where I truly become wistful.
I don’t miss the Warriors as a fan would (my San Jose roots notwithstanding). It’s not just that I’ll miss writing about their roundball artistry (though that’s certainly true, too). It’s more personal than that.
To their fans, the Warriors provided endless basketball bliss — a montage of deep 3s and shimmies and raucous parades. To others, they provided a standard of selfless play and joyful domination. They defined an era, and redefined the formula for building a superteam.
In some ways, it feels like Kawhi Leonard joined the Clippers a million years ago. In fact, it was only during the summer of 2019 when the Clippers signed Leonard and traded for Paul George, a momentous one-two punch that reshaped the franchise.
But some of the behind-the-scenes intrigue of that momentous summer recently resurfaced when Johnny Wilkes, a man who claims to be a Leonard family confidante, accused Jerry West, one of the team’s executives, of reneging on a pledge to pay him for helping deliver Leonard to the Clippers.
After Wilkes, who played high school basketball with Leonard’s uncle Dennis Robertson filed a lawsuit, the N.B.A. opened an investigation. The Clippers have denied any wrongdoing, calling Wilkes’s allegations “baseless,” and Leonard told reporters that Wilkes had nothing to do with his decision to sign with the Clippers.
Leonard has never been considered among the N.B.A.’s most charismatic stars, but his short tenure with the Clippers has produced no shortage of drama. Also percolating in the background: his contract situation. Leonard suggested this week that he would decline his player option for next season, meaning he would become a free agent.
Meanwhile, all is copacetic in Laker-land: LeBron James and Anthony Davis both agreed to new long-term deals over the off-season.
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