Monthly Archives: January 2020

Warriors pay Klay Thompson tribute prior to college jersey retirement

Jan 24, 2019; Washington, DC, USA; Golden State Warriors guard Klay Thompson (11) dunks the ball as Washington Wizards center Thomas Bryant (13) looks on in the first quarter at Capital One Arena. Mandatory Credit: Geoff Burke-USA TODAY Sports

With the Warriors currently sit with the worst record in the Western Conference in the 2019-20 season; it’s easy to forget, Golden State took over the NBA over the past five seasons. The Warriors won three-titles and made five straight trips to the NBA Finals, but a league-worst 9-34 record makes their run feel like ages ago.

However, the players that built Golden State’s run at a dynasty are getting recognition for their success in the past. Earlier in the season, Draymond Green got his jersey retired by his college alma mater, Michigan State.

Green isn’t the only member of Golden State’s championship run that will see his jersey pulled into the rafters at his college stomping ground. Washington State University will retire Klay Thompson’s No. 1 jersey when Oregon State rolls into Beasley Coliseum.

With the Warriors scheduled to play the Orlando Magic on Saturday during Thompson’s jersey retirement ceremony, many from the Golden State contingent won’t be able to make the trip to Pullman, outside of Stephen Curry.

Members of the Warriors found time to congratulate Thompson prior to the ceremony in a video tribute via social media.

Curry, along with teammates Green and Zaza Pachulia, all praised Thompson’s jersey retirement achievement. Thompson’s coach, Steve Kerr, and Warriors general manager Bob Myers were both involved in the former Cougar’s special message.

At Washington State, Thompson ranks third in all-time points scored (1,756) and scored the most points in a single season during his junior year (733). The Splash Brother was named First-Team All Pac-10 twice in his tenure in Pullman and became only the second Cougar to be selected in the first round of the NBA Draft.

Thompson will join Steve Puidokas (No. 55) as the only two Washington State basketball players to get their jersey numbers retired by the university.

Mark Cuban: Mavericks Are Discussing Retiring Dirk Nowitzki’s Jersey in 2020

It’s inevitable that Dirk Nowitzki will have his No. 41 jersey retired in Dallas, and the ceremony is expected to happen at some point in 2020.

“Dirk and I are discussing it,” Mavericks owner Mark Cuban told Dwain Price of the team’s website on Tuesday. “We’re trying to figure it out.”

It’s even possible that the Mavericks could retire his jersey at some point this season.

“The challenge is just getting it all done just because it’s not a lot of home games left. It’s only like (19) home games left, so that’s the hard part,” Cuban said. “So we’re discussing it now whether it’ll be now or one of the first couple of games next year.”

Nowitzki, 41, is the most revered player in franchise history after leading the Mavs to their lone NBA title in 2011 over LeBron James, Dwyane Wade and the Miami Heat. He was a 14-time All-Star, four-time All-NBA first-team selection and the 2006-07 NBA MVP. He currently sits sixth all-time in points scored (31,560).

He also helped usher in the modern style of play, serving as an early prototype for the stretch-4 that is so predominant in the NBA today. Not many big men could stretch the floor as proficiently as Nowitzki, a career 38 percent shooter from three.

Add it all up, and it’s pretty obvious why the Mavericks plan to not only retire his jersey but also construct a statue of Nowitzki in the future.

“We’re also talking about hopefully being able to unveil a model for the statue at the beginning of next year as well,” Cuban said. “So hopefully we can put the two together. Nothing is etched in stone yet, but we’re looking at it.”

OKC Thunder: Special edition uniforms honor bombing victims, educate new generation

The Thunder will wear it's new "City" uniforms for the first time on Thursday against the Rockets. It's the Thunder's first nationally broadcast game this season, ensuring maximum attention for the uniforms marking the 25th anniversary of the bombing of the Alfred P. Murrah Federal Building.

Ryan Whicher is ecstatic the Thunder-Rockets game will be nationally televised Thursday night.

It’s not because he lives in Maryland and none of Oklahoma City’s other games this season have been broadcast beyond the local telecasts. It’s not even because Russell Westbrook will make his return to OKC.

Whicher is pumped because millions of people will get to see the Thunder’s uniforms.

On Thursday, OKC will debut its new “City” uniforms, designed to pay homage to those affected by the 1995 bombing of the Alfred P. Murrah Federal Building. A striking combination of charcoal and bronze, numerous details will be familiar to Oklahomans. The Survivor Tree on the waistbands. The Gates of Time on the side panels.

But for people outside of the state, the symbolism may be foreign.

And for some, the bombing itself may be unknown.

That’s why Whicher is so grateful the Thunder and the Oklahoma City National Memorial & Museum collaborated on these uniforms, why he is so glad viewers across the country and even around the world will have a chance to see them. They will help keep alive the memory of what happened.

“Tragedies like this, I always worry that everyone else is going to forget about it and the victims will kind of be on their own at some point,” Whicher said. “That’s a fear in the back of everyone’s head, I’m sure.

“And this is absolute 100% proof that’s not the case.”

Those killed, those injured and those affected haven’t been forgotten.

That includes Ryan Whicher’s dad.

Alan Whicher became the assistant special agent in charge of the U.S. Secret Service field office in Oklahoma City back in August 1994. He decided to take the desk position after serving on President Bill Clinton’s security detail, moving to Oklahoma from Washington, D.C., hoping for a slower, simpler life.

Whicher didn’t want to miss any more birthdays or holidays with his family. He wanted to spend more time with his wife, Pam, and children Meredith, Melinda and Ryan.

No one welcomed that more than Ryan, who was in middle school at the time.

“He was like the Terminator in real life,” Ryan said. “He was this massive figure who was a law enforcement guy. To me, he was just this awesome human.”

Alan Whicher was in his new office on the ninth floor of the Murrah Building when that truck bomb exploded.

Two days later came the official notification of his death.

Ryan was only 12, but he had grown accustomed to his dad traveling for work. All of his dad’s years in the Secret Service meant when the president or vice president went somewhere, Alan Whicher went, too.

“It just felt like he was on a long trip,” Ryan said of those days after the bombing, “and we were just waiting for him to get home.”

But when Ryan saw adults in tears, including men who were big and strong and brave like his dad, Ryan started to understand the gravity of the situation. His dad wasn’t on a long trip. He wouldn’t be coming home.

Whicher’s mom moved the family back to the Washington, D.C., area soon after the bombing.

Ryan, along with his wife and two children, still live in Maryland.

Because the entire Whicher family has lived outside Oklahoma much of the past 25 years, they aren’t constantly exposed to reminders about the bombing. There are no field trips to the museum. No weekend strolls around the memorial. No special visits to the field of chairs.

Ryan Whicher doesn’t need those cues.

“It’s been almost 25 years, and not a day goes by where I don’t reflect on it in some way, shape or form,” he said.

But he knows most people living outside Oklahoma aren’t as aware of what happened that April day — or how so many responded in the wake of the tragedy.

There was care and love, support and hope.

“The actual act itself?” Ryan Whicher said. “That’s pain. You can go find a million things daily that will give you that pain.

“I want people to know the hope.”

He believes the Thunder’s uniforms will help spread that message.

“Think of some kid in France watching the basketball game,” Ryan Whicher said. “He probably doesn’t know this story. Maybe he does, but now he definitely will.”

Those are the kinds of people Kari Watkins was hoping to reach when the Thunder first approached the memorial about a special-edition uniform. As the executive director of the Oklahoma City National Memorial & Museum, she embraced the idea of not only honoring those killed, injured and changed by the bombing but also spreading the “Oklahoma Standard” of service, honor and kindness to a new audience.

“We have our work cut out for us as far as really needing to make sure this story is told,” Watkins said. “A lot of people here know it. Some people don’t know it. But I feel like when those players put on that jersey, people will begin to ask questions.”

She heard some of them the other day when she went to Dick’s Sporting Goods to buy a “City” edition warmup. It features the service, honor and kindness motto, and when a young sales associate saw it, he asked Watkins what it meant.

Getting to share that message near and far is powerful.

“You can’t imagine the tentacles this will have,” Watkins said.

NBA to honor late commissioner David Stern with commemorative black bands on all jerseys for rest of season

Stern died on Wednesday at the age of 77

After suffering a brain hemorrhage in December, former NBA commissioner David Stern died on Wednesday at the age of 77. The game of basketball as a whole, and the tributes from coaches, players and media showed just how much he meant to the sport.

As such, the league is planning to honor Stern with commemorative black bands on all jerseys for the remainder of the season. Referees will also have black bands on their uniforms as well. Ironically, as Paul Lukas of Uni-Watch points out, the black bands to honor Stern will be placed next to the team’s jersey advertisements — an implementation Stern opposed during his tenure as commissioner.

A giant in the game, Stern oversaw the league for 30 years, with his time in charge spanning four decades from 1984-2014. From the Larry Bird vs. Magic Johnson rivalry, through Michael Jordan’s reign with the Bulls and into the new millennium where new legends such as LeBron James emerged, Stern was there for it all, and helped shape the league into what it is today.

As current commissioner Adam Silver, who took over for Stern following his retirement in 2014, put it in his statement on Wednesday:

“David took over the NBA in 1984 with the league at a crossroads. But over the course of 30 years as a Commissioner, he ushered in the modern global NBA. He launched groundbreaking media and marketing partnerships, digital assets and social responsibility programs that have brought the game to billions of people around the world. Because of David, the NBA is a truly global brand — making him not only one of the greatest sports commissioners of all time but also one of the most influential business leaders of his generation.”

It won’t be possible to replace Stern, but honoring him in this way helps keep his memory alive, and will be a reminder of his impact each and every night.