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NBA Star Power Index: Bradley Beal’s Twitter tirade one for the ages; Trae Young has Hawks …

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Welcome back to the NBA Star Power Index — a weekly gauge of the players who are most controlling the buzz around the league. Reminder: Inclusion on this list isn’t necessarily a good thing. It simply means that you’re capturing the NBA world’s attention. Also, this is not a ranking. The players listed are in no particular order as it pertains to the buzz they’re generating. This column will run every week through the end of the regular season. 

LeBron James was hoping to return Tuesday vs. the New York Knicks, then Wednesday vs. the Houston Rockets, and now the hope is for Saturday vs. the Indiana Pacers. The Los Angeles Lakers managed to squeak out wins against New York and Houston by a combined four points to keep their slim hopes of crawling out of the play-in tournament alive. 

But it doesn’t look good. The No. 7 Lakers trail the No. 6 Dallas Mavericks and No. 5 Portland Trail Blazers by one game, but both those teams own the tiebreaker over L.A., which makes the gap an effective two games with two to play. If Portland, Dallas and L.A. finish in a three-way tie, the Lakers would still end up No. 7 on account of Dallas being a division winner and the Blazers having a better head-to-head record (4-2) vs. L.A. and Dallas than the Lakers do (2-4) against Portland and Dallas. 

But LeBron’s return is about more than trying to make a last-minute run at a secure playoff spot. He needs reps. Rhythm. He’s only appeared in two games over the last seven weeks, and the challenges of repeating start immediately. As it stands entering play on Thursday, the Lakers would play the Golden State Warriors in the first play-in game. 

With the way Golden State is rolling, that’s no easy task with the added dimension of LeBron working his way back into shape. If the Lakers get through the play-in round, they’ll face the Utah Jazz, Phoenix Suns or Los Angeles Clippers in the first round. Even if they crawl to No. 6, they’ll face the Suns, Clippers or Nugget out of the chute. 

Trae Young is averaging 33 points and nine assists over his last three games. The Hawks have won five of their last six and clinched a top-six seed on Wednesday. Atlanta is no joke. Since Nate McMillan took over for Lloyd Pierce on March 2, the Hawks are plus-4.9 per 100 possessions in Young’s minutes, the exact same mark as the Mavs in Luka Doncic’s minutes and the Nuggets in Nikola Jokic’s minutes. 

Young still isn’t a consistent 3-point shooter. He’s six for his last 30 from deep and is shooting under 35 percent for the season. But he’s reined in his attempts, from 9.5 per game last season to 6.4 this season, and has particularly curbed his early shot-clock bombs. Young is a master at getting into the paint. His floater is basically indefensible. He has the annoyingly effective knack for getting to the free-throw line, where he’s made 40 straight and 99 of his last 102 attempts. 

On Wednesday night, the Hawks clinched their first playoff appearance since 2017. They are 25-11 since Nate McMillan took over as coach and currently sit as the East’s No. 4 seed. They are explosive, versatile and confident. And Young is the center of it all. 

After spending five weeks — 18 games — on the shelf nursing his injured hamstring, James Harden made his return on Wednesday in the Brooklyn Nets‘ win over the San Antonio Spurs. He came off the bench and posted 18 points, 11 assists and seven rebounds in 26 minutes. He shot 6 of 8 from the field and 3 of 4 from 3. If there’s any rust on his game, good luck detecting it. 

“Not to brag or anything, but I’m, like, really good at this game,” Harden said after the win. “I study the game, very unselfish. I take the game and I play it the right way every single night. So, I don’t try to do anything I can’t do or doesn’t benefit my team. That mindset right there keeps me in a really good place.”

This is not arrogance. It’s the truth. Harden is so natural with the ball in his hands, he’s not going to have a long road back skill wise. Like LeBron, it’s about getting back into game condition. And on top of that, playoff game condition, which is an entirely different level of intensity. 

Bradley Beal did not take kindly to Kent Bazemore’s playful suggestion that Beal’s hamstring strain might be some kind of cover for Beal not wanting to go head-to-head with Stephen Curry down the stretch for the scoring title. Bazemore took the jab after Curry hung 49 points on the Thunder to all but eliminate the ground Beal might’ve gained by scoring 50 earlier in the night before leaving with the hamstring strain, which has kept him out since. 

“Forty-nine points in 29 minutes, that’s unreal,” Bazemore said of Curry’s performance vs. OKC. “We got guys hurting hamstrings to keep up.”

Beal has had on-court beef with Bazemore in the past. When Bazemore played in Atlanta, he shoved Beal from behind on a breakaway layup when Beal was in the air, and he undercut John Wall under similar circumstances. 

When Beal caught wind of Bazemore’s comments, he, along with his wife, went on a Twitter tirade for the ages. From Sam Quinn’s piece summarizing the ordeal:

The beef began in earnest when, mere hours before tipoff of the Wizards‘ game against the Atlanta Hawks, Kamiah Adams-Beal started tweeting about Bazemore. It began with her sharing Bazemore’s career statistics, which are unimpressive compared to Beal. Things seemingly cooled off when she argued that he didn’t need to put others down to make his point. Then they got more heated when she tweeted “I’m mad we even giving relevancy to someone most people didn’t even know was still in the league.”

This escalated the situation enough for Beal to get involved. When he asked if he should respond to Bazemore, his wife chimed in with this GIF from Mortal Kombat. 

The Beal stepped in for himself. 

“You don’t know me or s*** about me bruh!!!” Beal’s first reply read. “You don’t know why I go out there and play and it damn sure ain’t for another man’s approval!!! You a straight LAME!!! But it don’t surprise me coming from you, thats what’s yo type do!!”

He then turned things around on Curry, who has spoken openly about his pursuit of the scoring title. “It’s funny you say that because ya mans admittedly checked my numbers before the game, but IM CHASING!!! Shut yo a** up!” 

And, to complete the family tag team, Adams-Beal replied “I wouldn’t hold my breath for a response. But hey, maybe after a long night of 8 points, 1 assist, 1 rebound, 6 turnovers and 6 fouls he will have some time.” While all of this was going on, Bazemore’s Warriors were on the floor playing against the Utah Jazz. He has therefore been unable to respond to it at the time, but commented after the game. 

“I guess you can’t joke anymore,” Bazemore said. “Whatever. I feel like I’m a pretty lighthearted guy. Hey man — my loyalty is to SC30. It kind of got out of hand. I don’t get involved with that crap.”

This is sort of funny, of course, that Bazemore would say he “don’t get involved with that crap” when there was nothing to get involved in before he, you know, creating something. Bazemore is a jokester. He was kidding, I think. But to me, that’s a tad bit over the line to suggest, even in jest, that a competitor like Beal would be essentially faking an injury to avoid the challenge of staring Curry down in the scoring race. 

When has Beal ever backed down from a challenge on a basketball court? The guy is still in Washington, for crying out loud. He could’ve demanded a trade years ago. He’s battling. He’s up for the fight. And Beal’s point about Curry admitting he was tracking Beal’s 50-point game is right on. Beal has never shown any indication that he’s particularly concerned with this title. 

But if he was overly concerned with winning, just for the sake of argument, how would sitting out games help his cause? Even with Curry posting a 21-point game on Tuesday, his PPG average only dropped one-tenth of a point. If Beal wants to win, he needs to play, not sit out, so he can give himself a chance to have another huge game and up his average. Curry (31.8 PPG) is almost certainly not going to fall back to Beal (31.4 PPG). 

Either way, I’m Team Beal here. Bad joke, Baze. 

On Monday, Russell Westbrook posted 28 points, 21 assists and 13 rebounds against the Hawks for the 182nd triple-double of his career, passing Oscar Robertson for the NBA’s all-time record. 

What more is there to say about this? It’s an astounding statistical achievement. I’ve been hard on Westbrook in the past, and I still don’t believe he impacts games quite as much as the stats suggest, but Robertson’s triple-double record appeared to be about as untouchable as any in sports. Robertson averaging a triple-double for a season was, not long ago, talked about with an almost religious reverence. Robertson did that once. Westbrook, whose gas pedal is perpetually pegged to the floor, has now averaged a triple-double in FOUR separate seasons. 

Congrats, Russ. Pretty amazing stuff. 

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NBA Twitter erupts after Luka Doncic’s hot Game 3 start vs. Clippers

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Mandatory Credit: Jerome Miron-USA TODAY Sports

Mandatory Credit: Jerome Miron-USA TODAY Sports

Luka Doncic and the Dallas Mavericks wasted no time in Game 3 of their first-round matchup with the LA Clippers, and NBA Twitter erupted over their hot start.

Game 3 Friday night was arguably the biggest game in LA Clippers franchise history. After falling down 0-2 at home to the Dallas Mavericks, winning this road game was critical for a team that entered the 2021 NBA Playoffs with legitimate title aspirations.

Unfortunately for the Clippers, Luka Doncic and the Mavs came out laser-focused to put their opponent in another early hole.

Just over two minutes into Game 3, Dallas already had an 8-0 lead in its first playoff game at home since 2016 … and all eight points belonged to Doncic, who’s rapidly become a Clippers killer. As such, NBA Twitter could immediately smell the blood in the water, erupting over the early deficit and how frazzled LA looked.

NBA Twitter was eating it up as Luka Doncic went off on the Clippers yet again

For starters, we can’t go any further without acknowledging how much Doncic personally torments this LA team. The disrespect on these step-backs!

It was awesome seeing Doncic so fired up in front of a massive Mavs crowd at the American Airlines Center, and the home team quickly built up a 28-11 lead.

People quickly noticed how ruthless Doncic was as he repeatedly targeted poor Ivica Zubac on his step-backs.

Three Ivica Zubac switches, three Luka Doncic buckets. Mavs 8, Clippers 0 and a perhaps concerned Ty Lue calls timeout.

— Tim MacMahon (@espn_macmahon) May 29, 2021

Others couldn’t help but point out how the Clippers’ defensive strategy has had absolutely no answers for Doncic for the last two years now:

Clippers have had absolutely no clue how to stop Luka for two yrs now

— Chris Herring (@Herring_NBA) May 29, 2021

luka really don’t like them boys 😂

— Ja Morant (@JaMorant) May 29, 2021

Either way, there’s no question we are witnessing greatness from a superstar who’s still only 22 years old.

I mean, if Luka wants the be the best player ever, I would not object

— Josh Eberley🇨🇦 (@JoshEberley) May 29, 2021

LUKA ALREADY IN THAT MODE AND TALKING SHIT

— Ahmed🇸🇴/Mach Hommy’s Pray For Haiti AOTY (@big_business_) May 29, 2021

Luka is quickly moving up my favorite players list, this guy doesn’t make sense

— Jacob (AKA Rusty Buckets) (@RustyBUCKETS321) May 29, 2021

“Make Luka a scorer.”

/Luka later holds up the 100 sign

— Hardwood Paroxysm (@HPbasketball) May 29, 2021

It’s still early, and the Clippers went on a late first-quarter run to cut Dallas’ lead back down to single digits (with Doncic sidelined, of course), but there’s no question Luka’s early run was a memorable moment with LA on the ropes.

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Why Kylie Jenner’s Shoe Collection Has Desi Twitter Abuzz

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Why Kylie Jenner's Shoe Collection Has Desi Twitter Abuzz

Kylie Jenner shared a pics of shoes that instantly created a buzz on desi Twitter.

At 23, Kylie Jenner is one of the most popular entrepreneurs of our times. The fashionista — born to Caitlyn and Kris Jenner and sister to the famous Kardashian siblings — has an enviable career. Fans have been hooked to the minutest of details of the star’s life, thanks to the reality series Keeping Up With The Kardashians (and its several spin-offs) as well as her gigantic social media presence. Given this, Kylie Jenner may not have thought twice before sharing a photo of her collection of high-end footwear in just about every colour of the rainbow. The post, as is the norm with her, went viral.

fittings ✨???????????? pic.twitter.com/jL89z8ZL7B

— Kylie Jenner (@KylieJenner) May 10, 2021

While Kylie Jenner surely caught the Internet’s attention with the jaw-dropping collection, what she didn’t take into account was desi Twitter users. Her desi followers had a very unique take on the image. In short, the first thought that popped into many minds on seeing the photo was that they resembled the slippers that line up outside our homes when we host a prayer meeting or a satsang.

Losing no time, one user said that this looked like “every Indian house during satyanarayan pooja.”

Every Indian House during Satyanarayan Pooja ????????#KylieKeGharPoojaHaihttps://t.co/XbzWJ1nQu7

— Prathmesh Thaker (@PrathmeshThaker) May 26, 2021

“When you have keertan at home,” read another comment.

When you have keertan at home https://t.co/frV0uytNSh

— Ritik Gupta (@ritik571) May 26, 2021

Another was sure you could find similar designs in Agra’s local shoe market. Well, that was brutal.

Agra ke Sadar Bazaar mei khub milti hain esi???? https://t.co/u0EiXWdR3L

— ईशान शर्मा???????? (@ishaaaaansharma) May 26, 2021

Some users said that the shoes looked like the ones that were available on sale in local stores for Rs 100.

Sale 100 Di Sale… ???????? https://t.co/TV03inYyS0

— ਕਰਨਪ੍ਰੀਤ ਕੌਰ????✨ (@KannuOyee) May 26, 2021

Why does this look like a Bata showroom that prices each pair at Rs.999 https://t.co/ins54KrO3o

— Vaishnavi Suresh (@vaishnaviisure1) May 25, 2021

“Where are the Punjabi juttis,” demanded one user.

Only heels?

No flats, no wedges, no ballerinas and most important not even a single Punjabi jutti. https://t.co/N6ic6aRavL

— Aman Kaur Grewal (@talk2amanjot) May 26, 2021

It was not just prayer meetings and shoe sales, some also felt that the photo reminded them of the days they would go for tuition and line their slippers outside the class. 

Home tuitions in India: https://t.co/zbZExIt0Tj

— star (@wordsindisguise) May 25, 2021

Take a look at the other reactions:

Why does this look like a Bata showroom that prices each pair at Rs.999 https://t.co/ins54KrO3o

— Vaishnavi Suresh (@vaishnaviisure1) May 25, 2021

Kylie making the world aware about all these new fungi … billionaire for a reason???????? https://t.co/YSl3RWV1ep

— Viraj (@lmaonade9) May 25, 2021

Kylie Jenner is the founder and owner of the cosmetic brand Kylie Cosmetics. She has a daughter named Stormi Webster with American rapper Travis Scott.

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Twitter: Social media giant lists new ‘Blue’ subscription service

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image copyrightGetty Images

image captionTwitter’s CEO Jack Dorsey has previously said the company would diversify its revenue sources.

Twitter has listed a new subscription service on app stores, in an indication that the social media giant is preparing to trial the offering soon.

“Twitter Blue” is listed as an in-app purchase, priced at £2.49 in the UK and $2.99 in the US.

Twitter has given no further details, and declined to confirm online claims that the service could allow users to “undo” tweets.

It previously said it was working on special features for paid subscribers.

The firm wouldn’t comment directly on the listing but highlighted to the BBC that it had previously announced plans to diversify its revenue sources.

Although “Twitter Blue” is now listed on app stores, it isn’t yet fully enabled for users.

The BBC understands that pilot offerings of the subscription service are likely to start soon although it is unclear which countries it will be available in first.

According to technology blogger Jane Manchun Wong, who claims to be the first paying user of the service, it includes an “undo tweet” feature as well as a “reader mode” to make reading long threads easier. But Twitter has declined to confirm her claims.

The social media giant told the BBC that increasing “revenue durability” is the company’s top objective.

The firm also plans to continue developing and experimenting with other ways to diversify its revenues beyond advertising this year and further ahead.

These plans could also include subscription services and other ways to offer individuals and businesses access to special features on the platform.

Twitter has also made clear that it will continue to focus on growing its advertising business.

image copyrightTwitter

image captionThe “Twitter Blue” listing has appeared on app stores.

Last month, the company launched a new “tip jar” feature that allowed people to send money to others on the social network.

Twitter said the feature was “an easy way to support the incredible voices that make up the conversation”.

To begin with, only a select group of people can receive tips – a group Twitter said was made up of “creators”, journalists, experts, and non-profits.

The function adds a small icon to a user’s profile – on mobile devices only for now – with a drop-down menu for other payment providers such as PayPal, Venmo, or the Cash App, the latter two of which are popular in the United States.

But the announcement was not without controversy. Because the payment is made through those external systems, some Twitter users noticed that tipping a PayPal account lets the recipient know the postal address of the tip sender.

In other cases, the recipient’s email address could be seen, whether or not any money was sent.

Reporting by Peter Hoskins.

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media captionTwitter’s Jack Dorsey: “Like anything else, these tools can be addictive”

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