Eric Freeman

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Eric Freeman is a contributor to Ball Don't Lie. As a lifetime fan of the Golden State Warriors, he has learned not to set high expectations for his favorite teams. Eric is also a co-founder of The Classical. He lives in San Francisco.

  • Enes Kanter disowned by family in manifestation of Turkey's political strife

    Enes Kanter’s political beliefs and affiliation have put him at odds with Turkey’s government. (AP Photo/David Zalubowski)

    The ongoing Olympic basketball tournament showcases many of the NBA’s top foreign imports, including legends like Pau Gasol and Manu Ginobili. Yet one of the league’s up-and-coming international stars is currently in the midst of a very different relationship with his country. In fact, Oklahoma City Thunder big man Enes Kanter could be all but officially exiled from his home country of Turkey.

    Kanter’s predicament requires a good deal of background on the state of Turkish politics. On July 15, President Recep Tayyip Erdogan withstood a coup attempt that supposedly originated with members of the military. Erdogan has responded by consolidating power and purging the country of opposition members, many of whom are affiliated with the Gülenist movement, often referred to as “Hizmet” (or “service”) by its members. Erdogan’s Justice and Development party (or AKP) has

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  • Michael Jordan makes record gift to national African American museum

    Michael Jordan’s donation was big enough to put his name on the museum’s sports gallery. (AFP Photo/Elsa)

    Basketball legend Michael Jordan made news in July when he announced that he would give $1 million each to the Institute for Community-Police Relations and the NAACP Legal Defense Fund. Jordan explained the donation as an effort to heal divisions between police and black communities throughout the United States, reversing years of reluctance to speak out publicly on social issues. With Jordan also having fully supported the NBA’s decision to move the All-Star Game from North Carolina in his capacity as Charlotte Hornets owner, it appeared as if the Hall of Famer was warming to the idea of speaking out when necessary.

    Jordan’s latest publicly announced donation should add to that impression, although this gift figures to be quite uncontroversial. Museum officials announced Monday that Jordan has given $5 million to the National Museum of African American History and Culture, set to

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  • Saric justifies hype with game-winning swat in Croatia's upset of Spain

    Philadelphia 76ers fans have patiently waited two years for forward Dario Saric, the 12th pick in the 2014 NBA Draft, to reach American shores. His clutch performance in Croatia’s 2016 Olympic opener over a stalwart Spain squad should only add to excitement over what the 22-year-old can do in his upcoming rookie season.

    Up 72-70 with 12 seconds on the clock, Croatia forced veteran guard Sergio Llull into a poor possession that ended in a fortunate bounce off a defender. That left Spain with just one second to force overtime or create a buzzer-beating 3-pointer. They found longtime star Pau Gasol for a decent look at a layup off the inbound pass, but Saric was there to erase the shot for a game-saving block and an upset win.

    Dario Saric blocks Pau Gasol to preserve the upset win for Croatia over Spain. (REUTERS/Jim Young)
    Dario Saric blocks Pau Gasol to preserve the upset win for Croatia over Spain. (REUTERS/Jim Young)

    It was a fitting end to an impressive game for Saric, a much-hyped player many American fans watched for the first time Sunday.

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  • DeMarcus Cousins posed a riddle wrapped in a mystery inside an enigma

    DeMarcus Cousins ponders the unfathomable depths of existence. (Getty Images)
    DeMarcus Cousins ponders the unfathomable depths of existence. (Getty Images)

    U.S. Olympian DeMarcus Cousins is one of the most complicated personalities in basketball, an uber-talented big man whose intensity and passion often go overboard and get him into trouble. The nearly 26-year-old Cousins is not a man who suffers fools, even if they employ him. If he doesn’t like a move from the Sacramento Kings, he’ll let everyone know about it.

    Cousins does not appear to be softening his approach much now that he’s a representative of the United States at the world’s biggest sports event. When asked a somewhat philosophical question on Thursday, the two-time All-NBA Second Team selection turned the tables on an unsuspecting reporter:

    And here’s the transcript if you can’t make it all out:

    Reporter: What would you ask yourself if you had one

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  • Jimmy Butler is afraid of water and uncomfortable on USA Basketball's boat

    Jimmy Butler only wants to see bottled water in Rio. (Chris Graythen/Getty Images)

    Unlike their shorter, less famous peers, USA Basketball’s senior men’s and women’s national team is not staying in the Olympic Village in Rio de Janeiro. In fact, that’s been standard practice since NBA players began to participate in 1992 in order to ensure the safety and comfort of highly visible and very tall athletes.

    As you may have heard, that pursuit of comfort has led the two squads and accompanying personnel to stay on a luxury cruise ship in Rio de Janeiro, which sounds like a pretty great way to spend a few weeks. No one with USA Basketball will have to suffer the same discomfort as Dallas Mavericks and Australia center Andrew Bogut.

    Yet not every Olympian is thrilled to be on that luxurious ship. Jimmy Butler, an All-Star with the Chicago Bulls, is participating in his first major tournament for USA Basketball. Unfortunately, he’s also afraid of water and sounds very uncomfortable on that

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  • Basketball star Elena Delle Donne comes out as gay with little fanfare

    Both a WNBA and Olympic star, Delle Donne has been a vocal advocate for LGBT rights. She will publicly come out in a profile with Vogue this month, according to OutSports. (Getty)
    Both a WNBA and Olympic star, Delle Donne has been a vocal advocate for LGBT rights. (Getty)

    Women’s basketball star Elena Delle Donne, a key member of Team USA in Rio de Janeiro and the WNBA’s reigning MVP as a member of the Chicago Sky, has come out as gay via a new article in Vogue. The news is perhaps most interesting not for its content, but the way in which it was delivered. Delle Donne’s sexual orientation is revealed with no special attention in the piece. In fact, Delle Donne appears to have been surprised by the timing of its publication.

    Phil Thompson of the Chicago Tribune was the first to relay the report. The Vogue article is not yet available online, but OutSports.com has the relevant passage:

    “Elena divides her time between traveling with her team, the Chicago Sky, and her family’s home in the rolling green landscape of Wilmington, Delaware. She and her fiancee, Amanda Clifton, keep apartments in both Chicago and Wilmington.”

    Although Delle Donne does not explicitly

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  • Manu Ginobili emotional after his likely last game in Argentina

    The 2016 Rio Olympics could be Manu Ginobili’s final games with Argentina. (Getty)

    Manu Ginobili is returning to the San Antonio Spurs for at least one more season, but this summer nonetheless represents the end of a notable chapter of his basketball career. The 39-year-old Ginobili has not announced his retirement from international play, but the Olympics figure to be his final tournament given his age. One of the best non-American players in basketball history will attempt to add to his incredible international legacy in Rio.

    [Follow Dunks Don’t Lie on Tumblr: The best slams from all of basketball]

    Like many teams, Argentina played several exhibitions on home soil in advance of the Olympics. The last of those contests, an 86-79 win over fellow medal contender France, came Monday night in Córdoba. It was almost certainly Ginobili’s last competitive game in his home country, and he understandably got emotional after the final buzzer. Take a look (video via Spurs Zone):

    Ginobili’s

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  • New details on what went wrong for USA Basketball in 2004

    Larry Brown (AP)
    Larry Brown (AP)

    USA Basketball’s senior men’s national team enters the Rio de Janeiro Olympics as beyond-overwhelming favorites to claim gold for the third straight games. It’s remarkable to believe that Team USA looked in disarray a decade ago. Two straight poor performances at the 2002 World Championships in Indianapolis and the 2004 Olympics in Athens turned the dream into a nightmare, and a loss in Mike Krzyzewski first major tournament in 2006 didn’t exactly inspire confidence either.

    [Follow Dunks Don’t Lie on Tumblr: The best slams from all of basketball]

    The Americans’ latest period of dominance has afforded the opportunity to look back on what went so wrong during that embarrassing stretch. Bill Leopold and Ben Teitelbaum have put together an oral history involving several of the era’s key members and observers for NBCOlympics.com, and they list a number of factors that went into those poor performances. But the most salient is the team’s poor fit with head coach Larry Brown:

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  • Here's Craig Sager with Team USA after its final exhibition

    TNT announcer Craig Sager waves to crowd during the second half of an exhibition basketball game between team USA and Nigeria, Monday, Aug. 1, 2016, in Houston. (James Nielsen/Houston Chronicle via AP)
    TNT announcer Craig Sager waves to crowd during the second half of an exhibition basketball game between team USA and Nigeria, Monday, Aug. 1, 2016, in Houston. (James Nielsen/Houston Chronicle via AP)

    The sports world got some bad news last week when it was announced that broadcaster and reporter Craig Sager would not be able to work men’s and women’s basketball for NBC at the Olympics in Rio de Janeiro this month. Sager had planned to work his fifth straight Olympics despite his ongoing fight with leukemia, but doctors determined that he would need to undergo a third bone marrow transplant.

    [Follow Dunks Don’t Lie on Tumblr: The best slams from all of basketball]

    Thankfully, Sager was able to spend some time with USA Basketball before the men’s national team left for Brazil. Team USA played its fifth and final pre-tournament exhibition on Monday at the Toyota Center in Houston. Sager is being treated at the M.D. Anderson Cancer Center a mere five miles away, so he stopped by the game

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  • The Warriors are inviting trusted veteran JaVale McGee to camp

    JaVale McGee could bring some levity to Oakland. (AP Photo/David Zalubowski)

    The Golden State Warriors have a reputation as one of the NBA’s most joyous and watchable teams, but this summer has threatened to make their 2016-17 season deathly serious. The acquisition of Kevin Durant has cast them as villains, to the point where many of the same NBA fans who looked upon the Warriors with awe throughout their 73-win season will watch them in the hope of seeing them lose this year. Anything less than a title will make the season a failure, and they’ll probably feel that pressure at various points from October through June.

    [Follow Dunks Don’t Lie on Tumblr: The best slams from all of basketball]

    If the Warriors need a dash of levity, it’s probably not going to come from their bench. While Sixth Man of the Year candidate Andre Iguodala is still around (potentially as a starter), fun veterans like Marreese Speights and Leandro Barbosa have been replaced by the permanent scowl of David West

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