Sage Steele Sage Steele
Bristol, CT - August 13, 2012 - Photo Studio: Portrait of Sage Steele. (Photo by Rich Arden / ESPN Images) .

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

Kevork Djansezian/Getty Images

LeBron James Announced As A&R Of 2 Chainz's 'Rap Or Go To The League' Album

When he's not on the court, LeBron James spends his time posting videos of him vibing out to some of rap's most recent singles. Now, he's taking his ear for standout cuts a step further by becoming the A&R for 2 Chainz's forthcoming album.

On Mar. 1, the Atlanta native's Rap Or Go To The League project will hit streaming services and music store shelves after being teased for some time. "It's been quite the journey to get here," the "Spend It" rapper wrote on Twitter Tuesday afternoon (Feb. 19). "All night studio sessions, reflecting, & opening up on these records or as I call it therapy! This is my each one teach one body of work, I wanna celebrate black excellence!"

An Apple Music documentary will also accompany the album's debut. In a 60-second teaser, viewers witness Chainz and James in the studio discussing the possibility of a deluxe album and selecting guest artists for features. Rap Or Go To The League is Chainz's fifth studio album, what's being described as "his most personal, most lyrical, most soulful to date."

The soundscape arrives after Chainz released two EPs last year: The Play Don't Care Who Makes It and Hot Wings Are A Girl's Best Friend.

It’s been quite the journey to get here. All night studio sessions, reflecting, & opening up on these records or as I call it therapy! This is my each one teach one body of work, I wanna celebrate black excellence! ..... “Rap Or Go To The League” the album A&R by @KingJames 3/1 pic.twitter.com/08Y2fYKJ6X

— Tity Boi (2 Chainz) (@2chainz) February 19, 2019

Continue Reading
Getty Images

Colin Kaepernick, Eric Reid Reach Confidential Settlement With NFL In Collusion Case

Colin Kaepernick and Eric Reid have reached a confidential settlement with the league Friday (Feb. 15). The agreement brings an end to their collusion lawsuit against the NFL more than a year after the legal bout began.

According to Yahoo Sports, the Kaepernick and Reid would only agreed to settle for a “lucrative financial agreement.” No other details about the terms of the settlement were released.

Kaepernick and Reid filed sued the NFL for collusion in October 2017. The league denied the allegations, but failed in their attempt to have the suit dismissed.

Attorneys Mark Geragos and Ben Meiselas said in a statement that Kaepernick and Reid have engaged in an “ongoing dialogue” with the NFL for the past “several months.”

“As a result of those discussions, the parties have decided to resolve the pending grievances,” the statement explains. “The resolution of this matter is subject to confidentiality agreement so there will be no further comment by any party.”

The NFL Players Association released a statement of support. “We are not privy to the details of the settlement, but support the decision by the players and their counsel,” the statement reads.

“We continuously supported Colin and Eric from the start of their protests, participated with their lawyers throughout their legal proceedings and were prepared to participate in the upcoming trial in pursuit of both truth and justice for what we believe the NFL and its clubs did to them. We are glad that Eric has earned a job and a new contract, and we continue to hope that Colin gets his opportunity as well.”

Jerry Jones, Bob McNair, Robert Craft and several other NFL owners and players were deposed in the case. Reid was recently signed to the Carolina Panthers. Kaepernick remains unsigned.

pic.twitter.com/5sdcGSuwvW

— Mark Geragos (@markgeragos) February 15, 2019

Continue Reading
Paul Marotta

Wisconsin Republicans Scrap Colin Kaepernick's Name From Black History Month Celebration

Republican officials in Wisconsin have reportedly scrapped  Colin Kaepernick's name from the state's annual Black History Month celebration, CBS reports.

The Wisconsin Legislature's Black Caucus, which is composed of Democrats, reportedly drafted their annual resolution to honor dozens of African-Americans from Wisconsin who have made tremendous contributions to the state and history. An early draft included the former San Francisco 49ers quarterback. The resolution credited Kaepernick, who is a Milwaukee native, an an athlete and political activist who "has sought to raise attention to racial injustice and systemic oppression." The Republicans reportedly refused to sign off on the resolution until the Black Caucus agreed to remove Kaepernick's name.

The GOP suggested they would not endorse the inclusion of Kaepernick's name on the resolution due to his controversial protest during the national anthem. Democratic Rep. David Crowley, the resolution's author, called the move a "slap in the face" and a "textbook example of white privilege."

This isn't the first time Wisconsin's lawmakers have attempted to pass on controversial names in the Black History Month resolution. Just last year, the GOP attempted to discard of prominent black leaders like Milwaukee County Sheriff David Clarke, who has been vocal about his support of the Black Lives Matter movement, according to the  Milwaukee Journal Sentinel. 

The final version does not include the former NFL star's name, but has not been approved yet.

Continue Reading

Top Stories