Sage Steele Sage Steele

NBA Playoffs: 'NBA Countdown' Host Sage Steele Shares Her Conference Finals Predictions

"NBA Countdown" host Sage Steele talks shop about the playoffs.

Sage Steele knows a thing or five about sports. The former SportsCenter anchor and current NBA Countdown host has made talking shop about basketball her livelihood, especially after her deferred dreams of being an athlete. Now, the curly-haired pundit has been keeping tabs on the NBA Playoffs, sifting between what her heart (as a fan) says versus her mind (as a journalist). Regardless, throw any topic on the table and the University of Indiana alum is always game. Here, Steele locks in with VIBE to discuss the current state of the playoffs and her prediction for the conference finals.

VIBE: With Derrick Rose recently coming back into the fold, were you surprised by his performance thus far?
Sage Steele: I don’t know if "surprised" is the word. As a fan, I was relieved that he looked as close to the old Derrick Rose we have seen almost exactly three years since he initially hurt himself. When I saw that he was driving, penetrating, cutting and explosive, I was like ‘Yes! Okay!’ And now it changes everything for the Chicago Bulls. It’s been too long. Hopefully, it lasts.

What about the Houston Rockets’ performance? Some critics say that James Harden was initially carrying the team but now it looks like Houston is coming into its own on the court.
The Houston Rockets are a team that is not quite there yet. Again, you’re glad to see that they are taking care of business. Or maybe it’s just time and being able to have everybody there healthy. What they did this whole regular season was excellent. To me, [head coach] Kevin McHale was high on my list for "Coach of the Year." I voted him third actually because of what he was able to do with what he had, and basically keep them in that [second and third] spot all season long. James Harden is playing out of his mind consistently so I really like this team. They are not my pick yet though.

Steph Curry has also been putting in work. How far do you see him and the Golden State Warriors going?
There’s my heart and then there’s my mind, which is a constant battle in my life. (Laughs) It wouldn’t surprise me one bit to see the Golden State Warriors in the NBA Finals. I’d be thrilled to see it. I like the organization. I like the head coach. I like the players. I like the vibe, and I think people underestimate, though, just how difficult it was to get to this point. It wasn’t like you just walk in and it’s cake to be the number one seed.

There were systemic changes: whole new system, whole new coaching staff. And [Curry] had to convince these guys to trust them and buy in. Even if some of those guys weren’t happy about the firing of [former Warriors head coach] Mark Jackson, they bought in completely and so I just love this team, how they play and what they stand for this year. There’s still a part of me who can't quite let go of the San Antonio Spurs. The Spurs have been The Warriors’ nemesis for years so getting to the finals, I should say you still have to go through the Spurs.

Can you see the Dubs and Spurs duking it out at the very end?
Oh yeah. And then I look at the way the Clippers are playing and I’m like, ‘Ha! Well, maybe.’ Good thing I don’t have any money on them because it would be a disaster but it wouldn’t surprise me one bit to see the Spurs and the Warriors battling it out. It’s kind of what I hope happens.

Now we can't forget the Cavs. Where does Cleveland fall in all of this?
I still think it’s so much about people accepting their roles. It seems like towards the end of the regular season, they really started to gel even more but it still bothers me that there doesn’t seem to be that full chemistry with Kevin Love and how he has worked into their system. We talk about that all the time on NBA Countdown about where is he in the fourth quarter. At the end of day, if he’s asked to sit in the fourth quarter and [the Cavs] can win a ring, I’m pretty sure he will be okay with it but in my mind, Kevin Love is too good of a player to not be in there come crunch time. I’m fascinated by the Cleveland Cavaliers but when they were quote-unquote struggling early on and LeBron James took that break, people panicked. [Even with] LeBron’s time with the Miami Heat, too. [The Heat] didn’t win it, but they ended up getting to the finals. It takes time, and if it doesn’t happen for them this year then l’m guessing it will happen next year. Kind of like it did in Miami—it just takes time. When you have that much talent, it’s going to happen, in my mind but Kyrie Irving has just been a stud. I love his game. It’s just cool that because of LeBron coming back, there's more attention on the team and now, Kyrie is beginning to get the true love he deserves and has deserved for a while.

If you can pick one team to take home the Larry O’Brien trophy, who would it be today?
I change [my pick] everyday, so today, I’m saying the Warriors. I’m from Indiana and I am a Pacers fan. When your team is not in it, then you’re like, ‘Who do I really like as far as the people and the organization?’ As a fan, I’m all about the Golden State Warriors. And by the way, for people who say, 'Oh my god, you’re a journalist. You cant be a fan.’ Guess what? If you’re in this industry, you began as a fan or I wouldn’t have ended up being a sportscaster. So it doesn’t mean I’m biased but it doesn’t mean I’m not a fan. It would make me smile to see the Warriors make it all the way.

Keep score on the NBA Playoffs here and tune into NBA Countdown on ESPN/ ABC.

From the Web

More on Vibe

Christopher Furlong

Former NFL Player Arrested For Faking A Hate-Crime Fueled Burglary

A former NFL player is potentially facing hate crime charges for burglarizing his own restaurant in hopes to cash out on the insurance.

Last week, Gwinett County police were called to Edawn Louis Coughman's Create and Bake Pizza and Coughman's Creamery in Lawrenceville, Georgia to respond to a burglary in progress. Police went inside both businesses to find racially-insensitive words, swastikas, and Donald Trump's 'MAGA' motto plastered on the walls. However, it didn't take long for authorities to piece together the crime.

“It appears as though Edawn conjured a premeditated plan to damage his own property, attempt to make it appear as a hate crime, file a claim with his insurance company, and sell off the undamaged appliances and electronics,” police said in a statement.

Cpl. Michele Pihera spoke with a local news outlet and said a shopping plaza maintenance worker saw someone burglarizing the establishments and called the police. Already in the area, authorities located a black truck with missing license plates. When they pulled the car over, Coughman was inside along with several flat-screen TVs.

The black spray paint seen inside the restaurant was reportedly discovered on the former Dallas Cowboy and Arizona Cardinal's hand.

“He had reported this incident to his insurance company prior to officers conducting that first pull-over,” Pihera said. “He was attempting to leave that shopping center when our officers conducted that felony stop. Everything lined up for this perfect arrest.”

The truck was later impounded by Gwinnett County Police Headquarters and by Thursday afternoon, authorities located a crowbar and black spray paint. Coughman reportedly was released on bond and faces insurance fraud, making a false report and a tag violation for taking his plate off.

Continue Reading
Getty Images

DeSean Jackson To Auction Pre-Game Cleats In Honor Of Nipsey Hussle

Those that Nipsey Hussle made an impact on are making sure the slain rapper's legacy lives on. As the NFL regular season kicked off on Sept. 8, Philadelphia Eagles' wide receiver DeSean Jackson shared that he'll auction off his pre-game cleats in honor of the Victory Lap artist.

Jackson said the proceeds will benefit Hussle's children, Emani and Kross. On Instagram, Jackson posted an image of the shoes with a quote stated by the "Racks In The Middle" rapper: "You've got to have faith in what you're doing and not take no for an answer." The cleats also feature an image of the late entrepreneur and his Victory Lap logo.

 

View this post on Instagram

 

Every game this year Im auctioning my @nipseyhussle cleats I wear in Pre game. Proceeds will go to his kids Kross & Emani !! Link will be up this week. Rest in paradise bro !! 💪🏾🏁💪🏾 #TMC

A post shared by Desean Jackson (@0ne0fone) on Sep 8, 2019 at 5:16pm PDT

On March 31, 2019, Nipsey Hussle was fatally shot outside of his Marathon Clothing store in Los Angeles. Eric Holder, the shooter, was charged with a count of murder, a count of firearm possession as a felon, and two counts of attempted murder.

Earlier this year, Hussle's family announced the Neighborhood Nip Foundation which will place an emphasis on the youth to help them find a footing with the arts. “The foundation will be aligned with everything Nip believed in and what helped him,” his brother, Samiel Asghedom, said to the Los Angeles Times.

Continue Reading
Maddie Meyer/Getty Images

David Ortiz Makes First Appearance At Fenway Park Since Dominican Republic Shooting

It's been four months since former Boston Red Sox David Ortiz has made a public appearance since he was shot in the Dominican Republic. It was only natural that the slugger threw out the first pitch prior to Monday's game (Sept. 9) against the New York Yankees at Fenway Park.

Greeted with love and praise, the emotional scene was the perfect way to kick-off the week for the Red Sox team. The major league baseball team shared the tear-jerking moment on its Twitter page on Monday (Sept. 9).

Boston loves you, @davidortiz. pic.twitter.com/pQt85arS6W

— Red Sox (@RedSox) September 9, 2019

Good to be back. pic.twitter.com/dI5bLvTqf0

— Red Sox (@RedSox) September 10, 2019

"I want to thank the Red Sox, my real family. They always have been there for me, supporting me. They were aware of what happened to me, and they were the first ones there supporting me. Thank you very much, Red Sox fans," Ortiz said.

NBC10 Boston reports that 14 people have been arrested in the case. Investigators in the Dominican Republic believe the shooting was a case of mistaken identity and Ortiz was not the intended target.

The Red Sox legend has hired former Boston Police Commissioner Ed Davis to investigate the shooting.

Continue Reading

Top Stories