NBA 2019: Commentators mock dead former star, Russell Westbrook, Kyrie Irving
When you’re sitting in a commentary booth, you need to make the call fun and interesting.
This is what Clippers announcers Ralph Lawler and Don MacLean thought they were doing when bantering about Dirk Nowitzki.
Nowitzki is now 40 and the only player to play for a single franchise for 21 seasons of the NBA.
However, he had a relatively inauspicious start, selected as the ninth pick in 1998 NBA Draft by the Milwaukee Bucks before being sent alongside Pat Garrity to Dallas for Robert Traylor, who the Mavericks had picked with the sixth pick of the draft.
Garrity was then sent to Phoenix for Steve Nash.
While many at the time thought Traylor was destined to be a future star, the opposite happened with Nowitzki and Nash becoming stars together.
The Milwaukee Journal raved about Traylor when the deal was done.
“He can score in the low post. He can rebound. He can defend,” it read. “Don’t tell me about his weight. There is a lot less of Robert Traylor than there used to be. Tell me about his athleticism and his explosiveness, large doses of both for a package of this size.”
With many expecting Nowitzki to bow out of the NBA after this season, Fox broadcasters Lawler and MacLean looked back at the trade with some banter in the first period of the Clippers’ 121-112 win over the Mavericks on Tuesday AEDT.
MacLean said: “I guess Milwaukee didn’t see it either, they drafted (Nowitzki) and then traded him to Dallas draft day, for Robert ‘Tractor’ Traylor. Who’s he playing for now?
“The, uh, Detroit YMCA over-40 league,” Lawler quipped back.
While not plumbing any comedic depths, it was a light-hearted jab.
Until fans fumed at the discussion as Traylor had died in 2011 after a heart attack at the age of 34.
Clippers broadcast just brought up the great Robert Tractor Traylor. Don’t think they realized he has passed away. Awkward.
— Jeff Platt (@jeffplatt) February 26, 2019
Either someone tapped the pair on the shoulder or they saw some tweet but they apologised later in the broadcast.
“I was wondering what Robert ‘Tractor’ Traylor was doing today – totally slipping my mind, and I guess Don’s mind, that he passed away a couple of years ago. So, may he rest in peace, and our apologies,” Lawler said.
“Yeah, apologies,” McLean said. “I didn’t realise that.”
‘HE HIT ME’: WESTBROOK’S FRUSTRATION
Nikola Jokic scored 36 points as the Denver Nuggets held off a furious late onslaught to defeat the Oklahoma City Thunder 121-112 on Tuesday.
Towering Serbian international Jokic also weighed in with 10 assists and pulled down nine rebounds to crown a superb all-round display at the Pepsi Center.
But the big on-court battle was between Russell Westbrook and a young Nuggets fan who pushed Westbrook in the third quarter.
Westbrook was tapped by the youngster and had words with the boy and his dad.
After the game, Westbrook admitted he didn’t know it was a child when it happened but felt he had to take a stand.
“He hit me, so I told his dad ‘be careful, you can’t just have your son hitting random people,” he said. “I don’t know him, he don’t know me. I just told him you got to control your kids, it’s that simple. He’s responsible for his kid, watch the game, sit there, have fun enjoy it.
“But for all the fans there is too much leeway for the fans to be able to touch the players and get away with it. We can’t react and do the things we need to do to protect ourselves so it’s important they understand that kids, dads and mums as long as it’s respectful but the touching to me is off limits.”
The win saw the Nuggets close the gap on Western Conference leaders Golden State. Denver are now second at 42-18, half a game back from the Warriors.
The Thunder meanwhile remain in third place overall in the West at 38-22 after their fourth quarter rally came up just short.
The visitors had looked to be heading for a blowout loss after three quarters, with Denver surging into a 91-78 lead heading into the fourth.
But a 26-6 run midway through the fourth quarter reignited their challenge, with a Russell Westbrook three-pointer handing them a 100-97 lead with just over six minutes remaining.
Denver however came roaring back with a big finish of their own, stitching together a 24-12 run to close out the game and claim their fifth straight victory over OKC.
Will Barton (23 points) and Jamal Murray (20) were the other main Denver scorers.
OKC saw Westbrook fall just shy a triple-double, finishing with 22 points, 14 rebounds and nine assists. Paul George led the scoring for Oklahoma City with 25 points.
— with AFP
PICTURE SPEAK VOLUMES FOR CELTICS STAR
The Boston Celtics’ Kyrie Irving had a curiously quiet game for the superstar’s standards.
The All-Star scored just seven points, four rebounds and five assists in his side’s 118-95 loss to the Toronto Raptors.
“Ask me July 1,” Irving said earlier this month. “Obviously, Boston’s still at the head of that race.
“At the end of the day, I’m going to do what’s best for me and my career. I don’t owe anybody s***.”
Every step Irving has taken has spawned suggestions about what he’s going to do at the end of the season — re-sign with Boston or test free agency.
But judging by his stare, he doesn’t seem to happy at Boston.
The image was shared around social media with the look speaking 1000 words.
Post match, Irving answered some questions but when asked about the game,
He answered four questions about the game with a grand total of 20 words before he was allowed to leave.
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Speaking on the Players Only TNT broadcast, former NBA star Isiah Thomas said Irving needed to pull it together for the Celtics.
“He’s got to find a way to bring everybody together, and have some real hard and heart conversation,” Thomas said on the Players Only TNT broadcast.
“Right now it’s a team, to me, of talented players. But, I’m not so sure if this is a team that really likes each other.
“And last year when we saw them play and excel and succeed, you could tell that they were a group of guys that really got along, that really liked each other, and enjoyed playing together.
“I’m not so sure this is a team right now that likes playing together, or really likes each other.”
Originally published as NBA commentators’ ‘awkward’ screw up