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Ito Smith Color Rush Jersey
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Nikola Jokic and Will Barton grew up worlds apart.
Their paths Preston Brown Color Rush Jersey , though, followed a similar route to a big payday with the Denver Nuggets. Jokic signed a max contract worth around $147 million for five seasons, and Barton returned on a four-year deal that could earn him more than $50 million.
As bench players a few years ago, Barton made a comment that stuck with his center.
”He called us Kobe and Shaq,” Jokic recounted Monday at a news conference for the pair. ”We kind of grew together.”
Bonded by similar roads.
From Serbia, Jokic was a second-round pick by Denver in 2014 (41st overall) – a 6-foot-10 project who needed to lose about 30 pounds. He did and has blossomed into one of the top big men in the league.
From Baltimore, Barton was a second-round pick by Portland in 2012 (40th overall) – a sharp-shooter buried on the Blazers’ bench and just needing a chance. He got one when Denver traded for him and became a versatile reserve player/occasional starter.
”I don’t think we are a team that can follow other archetypes in how teams are built,” Nuggets president of basketball operations Tim Connelly explained. ”We have to find and develop guys. We have to find and develop guys who want to be here long term.”
Jokic is an unassuming star in the making. His 10 triple-doubles last season were the most in a single season for a Nuggets player since Fat Lever in 1987-88. In addition, Jokic is the fifth player in NBA history with 3,000 or more points, 2,000 rebounds and 1,000 assists in their first three seasons, joining names such as Oscar Robertson, Larry Bird http://www.cowboysauthorizedshops.com/au...sch-jersey , Maurice Stokes and Sidney Wicks.
”To see how quickly he’s made the jump and how comfortable he is producing against the elite of the league, it’s something I’ve never seen,” Connelly said. ”He’s one of the best players in the NBA.”
The spotlight really isn’t his thing. He’d much rather be back home in Serbia this time of year, where his routine goes something like this: Work out, lunch, go to the stables to check on his two horses and then work out some more. He doesn’t like the attention.
”He’s got this huge contract and life-changing money and everything, but he’s going to still be with his horses, still wear sweat pants, even though we tell him to wear a button-up shirt,” cracked his brother, Nemanja. ”He feels comfortable. I don’t think anything is going to change about it.”
It won’t. Connelly and Barton were recently talking about that very subject.
”I’ve never seen a guy less enthused about a contract this big – and I say that in a positive sense,” Connelly said.
Jokic even said as much with Josh Kroenke, the vice chairman of Kroenke Sports and Entertainment, flanked to his right.
”When I was younger, my dream was not to sign a big contract. My dream was to have fun and win big games John Kelly Color Rush Jersey , some championships,” Jokic said. ”Winning is the most important thing.”
The Nuggets are coming off a season in which they won 46 games, but the season came down to a winner-take-all scenario in Minnesota, where the Nuggets came up short in overtime to miss out on the playoffs. Jokic is trying to help the Nuggets reach the postseason for the first time since 2012-13 – an even more difficult task with LeBron James joining the Los Angeles Lakers.
”We’re not too worried about what anybody else is doing,” Kroenke said. ”We’re worried about what we’re doing and our process of winning. We started to hit on a few of those things last couple of years. A very underrated aspect of sports is continuity. These guys having played for several years now, that’s only going to benefit us.”
Especially the bond between Jokic and Barton, who was acquired in a trade with Portland on Feb. 19, 2015. Barton averaged 15.7 points, five rebounds and 4.1 assists as he alternated between coming off the bench and being a starter.
A big reason he elected to stay in Denver was coach Michael Malone not trying to rein him in.
”Coach Malone lets me be me as a player,” Barton said. ”The style of play I have, a lot of coaches are scared of that, and they won’t let me be me. Coach Malone never boxed me in.
”I knew this is where I wanted to be.”

LeBron James figured he had experienced everything in 12 postseasons.
Turns out, there was something new.
Victor Oladipo scored 32 points and Indiana outplayed Cleveland from the start while pulling off a stunning 98-80 victory Sunday in the series opener, handing James and the Cavaliers’ their first loss in the opening round in eight years.
It also was the first playoff-opening loss for James, who came in 12-0 in Game 1s and didn’t realize he had been perfect starting the postseason.
”Is it?” James said. ”I’ve never lost a game in the first round before in my career?
But while he knows the narrative before Wednesday’s Game 2 will be on the struggles of Cleveland’s playoff newcomers Adrian Clayborn Color Rush Jersey , James isn’t worried.
”I’m down 0-1 in the first round,” he said. ”I was down 3-1 in the Finals. So, I’m the last guy to ask about how you’re going to feel the next couple days.”
The Pacers are feeling confident after beating the Cavs for fourth time this season.
Indiana took control from the outset, opening a 21-point lead in the first quarter and pushing it to 23 in the third. The Cavs got within seven in the fourth, but Oladipo, once a role player who has blossomed into an All-Star in his first season with Indiana, hit a big 3-pointer and Bojan Bogdanovic helped put Cleveland away with a 3 to make it 88-71.
When the final horn sounded, the Pacers didn’t celebrate or run around the floor like they had accomplished anything special.
They calmly walked off, business as usual.
”We believe that we can win,” Oladipo said. ”We came into this game with a mentality that we wanted to attack on both ends of the floor and play the way we’ve been playing all year, and we did a great job of that. It’s only one game, it’s only Game 1.”
The Pacers completely outplayed the three-time defending conference champions, whose turbulent regular season has carried over into the playoffs.
James scored 24 with 12 assists and 10 rebounds for his 20th career triple-double. But James got little help as Cleveland’s four other starters – Kevin Love, Jeff Green, Rodney Hood and George Hill – combined for 25 points.
”They were more aggressive Ito Smith Color Rush Jersey ,” James said. ”They just played inspired basketball and they just took advantage of everything we wanted to try and do. They were more physical than us at the point of attack, and they were most precise with what they wanted to do and we couldn’t score the ball.”
Cleveland went just 8 of 34 on 3-pointers and missed eight of 20 free throws.
The Cavs’ playoff theme is: ”Whatever It Takes.”
Well, it’s now going to take a first-round comeback.
This is all new to James, who had won 21 consecutive first-round games and lost a postseason for the first time in his 13th playoffs. The 33-year-old is trying to get to his eighth straight Finals, and already the path is tougher than imagined. Cleveland had won 14 straight first-round games, last losing on April 22, 2010, the last season of James’ first stint with the Cavs.
Indiana was swept by Cleveland in last year’s opening round. Those Pacers, though, didn’t have Oladipo or the balance of this Indy squad, which may lack experience but not confidence.
Lance Stephenson, a longtime playoff nemesis for James, helped set the tone in the first quarter with a dunk he punctuated by throwing several punches into the padded basket stanchion
The Pacers took the fight to the Cavs, and Indiana’s players are battling critics who say they can’t compete with Cleveland.
”We were definitely mad,” Stephenson said. ”They still don’t believe. We’re just going to keep proving everyone wrong and play together.”
While some fans are getting their first look at Oladipo Cheap Josh Allen Jersey , the Pacers have seen this before.
”On this team, we all know what Victor can do when he steps on the court,” Thaddeus Young said. ”You’ve got to double-team him because he makes good decisions with the basketball. When you don’t, you saw what he’s capable of.”
NO RESPECTnike_giants_094.jpg
Oladipo said Cavaliers owner Dan Gilbert provided him with extra motivation, citing his offseason remark that Indiana should have received better talent from Oklahoma City in return for Paul George. ”You could say it added fuel to the fire,” Oladipo said. ”I’m aware of what he said. Can’t control his opinion.”
BANGED UP
Hill sustained a bruised back when he was hit from behind on a screen by Indiana’s Trevor Booker. Cavs coach Tyronn Lue said Hill’s back bothered him after halftime and he was forced to play James at the point. Lue expects Hill to be good for Wednesday.
Cavs forward Kyle Korver played just four minutes because of lingering foot soreness.
TIP-INS
Pacers: Indiana has been eliminated by James four times in the past eight seasons. ….. Haven’t won a series since beating Washington in six games in the 2014 semifinals. … Improved to 22-22 in the opening game of a series, including 9-16 on the road.
Cavaliers: James surpassed Michael Jordan (2,188) for the second-most made field goals in playoff history. Kareem Abdul-Jabbar (2,356) tops the list. … James dropped to 48-8 in first-round games. … Green was 0 for 7 from the field, 0 for 3 from the line and the Cavs were outscored by 15 when he was on the floor.
UP NEXT
Game 2 is Wednesday night.
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