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Liberty Links: Kevin Durant finds vindication with championship win

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NBA: Finals-Cleveland Cavaliers at Golden State Warriors Kelley L Cox-USA TODAY Sports

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Powered by Kevin Durant, Warriors roll to second NBA title in three years - Yahoo Sports

Two out of three ain’t bad, right? Congrats to Kevin Durant. This Sports Illustrated cover feels like a million years ago:

Here’s Durant celebrating with the real MVP: Wanda Durant:

The Warriors Are Unstoppable, and They’re the Best Thing That Could’ve Happened to LeBron - The Ringer

Jonathan Tjarks writes that the Warriors present a concrete target for LeBron James beyond chasing the dragon of Michael Jordan’s shadow:

However, even in a world without Golden State, LeBron would never have caught Jordan in the eyes of most observers. In the popular imagination, Jordan’s career has been turned into a retelling of the Hero’s Journey, an archetypal storytelling structure defined by Joseph Campbell that became the basis for the original Star Wars trilogy. Jordan was Luke Skywalker in sneakers, with the Bad Boy Pistons as the Empire and Phil Jackson as Yoda. LeBron isn’t chasing a man. He’s chasing a myth.

The comparisons between James and Jordan have never been particularly rational. When the Cavs lost Game 3 of the Eastern Conference finals against Boston last month, many people criticized LeBron for doing something (giving an underdog a chance to breathe in a series) Jordan never would have, forgetting the Bulls’ losses to the Sonics in Games 4 and 5 of the 1996 NBA Finals when they were up 3–0. There’s no way to win an argument about hypotheticals either way. Everyone just ends up talking in circles.

Rodions Kurucs has withdrawn his name from the 2017 NBA draft - Twitter

This is a poor draft year for international prospects with Frank Ntilikina out of France being the only real intriguing player. Lithuania’s Isaiah Hartenstein is expected to go in the first round, as was Latvia’s Rodions Kurucs before this news. He’s only playing for Barcelona II right now (the equivalent of the junior varsity team for Barcelona in the Spanish ACB League), so he’d likely have been staying overseas for another few seasons. I assumed he would’ve been a draft-and-stash for a team in the late first round who didn’t want a guaranteed rookie salary on their cap sheet next season.

After battling depression and surviving a suicide attempt, Mike Sweetney is spreading positivity - HoopsHype

Here’s a harrowing story from former Knicks first-round pick Mike Sweetney. I’m happy to hear that Sweetney is now doing much better in life and I appreciate him using his platform as a public figure to de-stigmatize mental illness among the masses.

Markelle Fultz to meet with Lakers - Twitter

I’m a little surprised to see Markelle Fultz taking this meeting as the presumed first-overall pick, but it’s a smart move on the Lakers’ part to do their homework in the case of a trade scenario or if Danny Ainge’s brain stops working.

Josh Jackson Cancels Workout with Celtics - Twitter

A rumor spread yesterday that Josh Jackson received a “likely” draft promise from the Lakers with the second-overall pick, as our own Kyle Neubeck wrote about. Here’s what Kyle had to say about the situation:

If we were to read the tea leaves (which typically isn’t recommended during pre-draft season), it’s starting to look like the Lakers are indeed focused on selecting Jackson at two. The word that emerged from Lonzo Ball’s two-day trial with the Lakers was primarily negative, and ESPN’s Chad Ford wrote that Jackson has a lot of people in his corner within the Lakers organization.

If Jackson has a promise for the Lakers and wants to go there, it makes sense for him to cancel his other workouts, especially one with the Celtics, who everyone assumes is going to take Fultz with the draft’s top pick anyway. This could open up the pandora’s box for this draft, leaving the Sixers in a position to draft Lonzo Ball and throwing a wrench into every other team’s plans.

Here’s what Kyle then had to say regarding Jackson’s cancelation with Boston:

As we mentioned previously, there’s reason to believe Jackson has received a top-three promise, and this only fuels that speculation. Jackson has yet to hold a public workout for the Sixers, so logic suggests it’s the Lakers at pick No. 2 who are whispering sweet nothings into his ear.

That would have a domino effect on the rest of the draft, but more importantly for the Sixers, it could drop Lonzo Ball onto Philadelphia’s doorstep. Ball would be a perfect match for the Sixers, and the team dynamic would help hide some of his biggest weaknesses as a prospect. He would provide floor spacing, amp the team’s passing talent up to 11, and not have to worry so much about driving and dishing with Ben Simmons by his side.

Of course, this Jackson workout cancellation could also point to a promise from the Sixers, we’re just currently in the dark on their interaction with him during the pre-draft process. In any case, it’s a strange turn of events for any player to turn down a shot to workout for the team selecting No. 1, and let’s all enjoy a little Celtics schadenfreude while we can.

Sixers Sr. Director of Basketball Operations Vince Rozman speaks about Furkan Korkmaz - Twitter

Furkan Korkmaz has been in Philadelphia for about a week now. It’s nice to see him getting acclimated with the team and actually taking place in some practices with other Sixers players:

As for the possibility of Korkmaz playing in Summer League for the Sixers, as I wrote about a last week, it seems unlikely given his commitment to playing internationally for his home country of Turkey:

Sixers work out with boxing - Twitter

Here’s a cool look at the Sixers taking under some alternate training methods with a boxing workout as they all do their best Rocky impressions: