Jared Weiss: Jayson Tatum wanted to put the name Michae…

More on Social Justice Messages

Players, coaches and teams have made it clear that shutting up and dribbling is not an option this season. The Hawks, Pistons and Kings have each worked out deals with their respective cities that their arenas will be used as polling places for the Nov. 3 general election; the Hornets and Wizards are working on similar arrangements. Each of those teams has already announced all of their employees will be given Election Day off with pay to make it easier for them to vote. “Black Lives Matter” is decaled on all of the courts in Florida that will host NBA and WNBA games this season.
“I think basketball is secondary,” said Portland guard CJ McCollum, a vice president of the National Basketball Players Association. “It’s our job,” he said. “Obviously we have a responsibility to fulfill those obligations. But it’s also our job to fulfill and protect our neighborhoods, and protect the people who look like us, and come from places like us, and don’t exactly have the same voices that we do. I think that that’s something that’s been on all of our minds. We’ve been very proactive about it. And me, a person who’s big on education, education reform, I’ve continued to try to have those conversations with like-minded people, people who care about education.
"We continue to figure out ways to collectively make an impact and making change. But there are people who are involved in prison reform. There are people involved in police reform, and so many other different things that are moreso up their alley. We continue to try to have those discussions, conversations. And the biggest thing for us is education. You want to be educated on the matters you’re speaking on, and really have a passion, and make sure that it’s a point of focus for you individually.”
“I think we’ve all bought in,” Malone said. “Obviously we’re basketball coaches, we’re basketball players. We get paid to do that. That’s our livelihood. But we also have off-court interests. We all want to be active participants in what’s going on. As I’ve said many times, I do not want to be sitting on the sideline during this movement. I want to help. I want to educate myself, help our players educate themselves, so we can approach this the best way possible. … Us starting off practice today talking about the life and legacy of a guy like John Lewis, to make sure it’s not just about, ‘Hey, our pick-and-roll defense; our offensive execution.’ That is important as we get closer to playing games. But I know we are dedicated as an organization to make sure we’re doing as much as we can to continue to keep that education and that light where it needs to be. … To me, I think it’s an easy balance.”
In a Zoom panel discussion that included at least 100 people — athletes, activists, academics and former Georgia gubernatorial candidate Stacey Abrams — two nights before the WNBA’s bubble season was set to tip-off, Palmer helped some of her newfound allies understand the vibrant personality whom they had chosen to uplift and represent.
Josh Robbins: (1/2) These are the phrases and words Magic players have chosen to wear on their jerseys, per the team's Twitter account: D.J. Augustin: Equality Mo Bamba: Black Lives Matter Michael Carter-Williams: Liberation Gary Clark: Respect Us James Ennis: Justice Now
Josh Robbins: (2/2) Evan Fournier: Justice Melvin Frazier Jr.: Equality Markelle Fultz: Respect Us Aaron Gordon: Freedom Nikola Vucevic: Equality

http://twitter.com/ScottAgness/status/1288671717859250180
NBA players had discussed the possibility of placing the names of the victims of police brutality on the backs of their jerseys, but instead were told that they could choose from a list of 29 social justice messages that were approved by the league. Roberts explained that the decision not to go with individual names was, in part, because, “My personal fears, there are a lot of brothers and sisters who have been killed. What if we exclude someone who was killed? George Floyd but not Tamir Rice?” Instead of offending the families that might be omitted, the NBA chose to remove the option. Baker was fine with that decision. “I kind of like that they didn’t do it,” she said. “As I said on the WNBA call, since that was their initial idea, let them have that, and let them be recognized that it’s Black women, because otherwise, they would’ve been overshadowed if the NBA decided to do that. So, let the women have that.”
WNBPA executive director Terri Jackson pitched the idea to the union’s executive committee and they all supported the effort. Jackson then sought permission from Palmer to use Taylor’s name on jerseys and T-shirts, a gesture that endeared the WNBA’s plans with the family. They agreed proceeds from sales of the shirts could go toward a newly-established Breonna Taylor foundation. “It was just an idea that really took off,” McCoughtry said. “It was one of those things, you heard Dwight Howard, some other NBA players, say, ‘Oh, it’s a distraction,’ and that kind of stuff. And I was like, ‘It’s not a distraction. We can use our platform, to play. People look up to us, they listen, they’re fans. We can use this.’ You see (Dwight’s) out there now, playing. It goes to show, our platforms are powerful. We have to use them. And we have to be grateful that we have jobs and go out there and perform.”
Will the NBA’s health and safety protocols be enough to ensure a coronavirus outbreak does not occur? To what extent will the NBA and the players continue to speak out on social justice issues? “I don’t know if you can really tell the story of the NBA restart without telling the story about how active these players, coaches and the league have been with the various causes and the social justice push,” Harlan said. “Their voices are enormous in this. Not only will we have ‘Black Lives Matter’ in bold print on the floor. We’ll have names, causes, feelings and thoughts on uniforms that these players want to portray and show. It is every bit as much the story as the teams reassembling, trying to stay healthy and getting back on the floor.”
“I think basketball is secondary,” said Portland guard CJ McCollum, a vice president of the National Basketball Players Association. “It’s our job,” he said. “Obviously we have a responsibility to fulfill those obligations. But it’s also our job to fulfill and protect our neighborhoods, and protect the people who look like us, and come from places like us, and don’t exactly have the same voices that we do. I think that that’s something that’s been on all of our minds. We’ve been very proactive about it. And me, a person who’s big on education, education reform, I’ve continued to try to have those conversations with like-minded people, people who care about education. We continue to figure out ways to collectively make an impact and making change. But there are people who are involved in prison reform. There are people involved in police reform, and so many other different things that are moreso up their alley. We continue to try to have those discussions, conversations. And the biggest thing for us is education. You want to be educated on the matters you’re speaking on, and really have a passion, and make sure that it’s a point of focus for you individually.”
For the restart of the NBA season, however, Morris is taking his name off the back of his jersey. Instead, he will display a social justice message: “Education Reform.” “This is bigger,” Morris told The Undefeated last week after practicing with the Clippers, who resume their season Thursday night against the Los Angeles Lakers at the ESPN Wide World of Sports Complex. “Obviously, all our purposes are bigger. Guys know who I am. The world knows who I am. I just want to address some social issues. … “Black Lives Matter. That’s first. People have lost their lives to senseless cop actions. That is first. I just wanted to do something deeper in the community. I am from that. So, I understand the transition. As a community, we can start there [with education reform] in doing some things.”
The social justice message will be placed over the number on the back of the players’ jerseys during the first four days of the resumed season. After that, a player who still wants to use a social justice message can have it above his jersey number on the back, while adding their last name on the bottom of the jersey. “I am going to continue to use it,” Morris said. “Four days, that is nothing. Everybody can tune in every other day and see that. As this message continues to get pushed and gets bigger, I’m just willing to wear it the entire season.”
Josh Lewenberg: OG Anunoby chose to wear "Say Their Names" on the back of his jersey for the restart. "I just feel that it's important that (the victims') names should be in the media, we should be talking about them, their situations, what happened, and just to raise awareness for everyone."
Green: You have on your bus Black Lives Matter. As a Canadian team, it doesn’t directly impact your team, because you’re in an entire different country. What made you guys take the stand and put it on your bus? I think one of 22 teams that actually went through with it. Where did that idea come from, and why did you guys feel the need to push that through? Ujiri: Thanks, Draymond. You’ve been unbelieve on this and what you’re speaking on, and I think the league is proud of you. For us, we said we were going to use the bubble as a statement, right? We said we’re going to use this place as a platform. And we thought that, coming in here, you have to make a statement. You have to, for me, you have to create awareness. What you guys are doing over there is creating awareness. You’re talking about this. And we have to continue to do that. And we thought, what greater way than to ride through Florida for three hours and show people? We know what’s going on in the country, and we’re heading to the bubble.
Ujiri: And what is going on here, what Adam Silver has done here to get the league back, we’re excited about that. But there’s something on our minds, too. And we wanted to show people that, as we come in – not just the Toronto Raptors, we represent the NBA – that there’s something that’s on the minds of all the players and all the teams.
The other question I could ask Lowry was this: With everything that’s going on, from living in a bubble, to the pandemic at large, to the ongoing push for social justice in which so many in the NBA have become so involved, could Lowry focus on and pursue the basketball goals he would normally have if none of these other things were going on? Here is what he said. “I think the social injustice is the message we are trying to send,” he began. “The Breonna Taylor situation, we want those cops arrested for the murder of her. But the basketball part is our salvation, and if we can go out there and use our message to make sure that we continue to push for that. Yes, we’re here to do our job, but we are also here to do another job and help our communities. If we’re going to be here, and I’m going to be here, then we’re going to focus on both things. I can say honestly that I’m going to focus on winning a championship and doing my postseason job, but I’m also going to focus on the things we’re down here for — voter suppression, education reform. I’m going to do both as best as I can.”
Tim Reynolds: Most popular social-awareness saying on jerseys for the NBA restart: Equality, 25% Black Lives Matter, 16% Also should be noted: 16% of the players here opted not to select a message.
Andrew Greif: The NBA has released a list of the messages worn by teams during the restart. (If a player isn't listed, it's because he opted not to wear one of the 29 NBA- and NBPA-approved messages.) The Clippers:

https://twitter.com/AndrewGreif/status/1286763763077492737
What social justice message are you going to have on the back of your Blazers jersey? Carmelo Anthony: I put two. It was either ‘Peace’ or ‘Freedom.’ I wish I could have done something else, put something else on there. But, I’m trying to put something that means something to me. That way I can be able to speak on why I got ‘Peace’ on the back of my jersey.
Duane Rankin: "Respect Us." Deandre Ayton plans to put that on the back of his jersey. Has multiple reasons. Respect each other, respect everybody and respect the #Suns. He thought about "Equality" but said "Respect Us" hits off and on the court for him. #Suns pic.twitter.com/8epPD2nrew
Gina Mizell: Ricky Rubio says he will wear “justice” on the back of his #Suns jersey. He added he was recently on a call with a group of players and Breonna Taylor’s mom and attorney. “It’s very important for us to speak up.”
Josh Lewenberg: Ibaka says he will wear "Respect Us" on the back of his jersey for the restart. "What is going on here is going on everywhere and I feel like we need respect." He said he hopes that message will resonate with kids in Africa. "I want them to know they deserve respect."
Tania Ganguli: “We need justice for Breonna Taylor,” will be Alex Caruso’s response to any basketball questions today, he says. He says players have collectively decided that’s a way that they can make an impact from inside the bubble.
NBA Bubble Life: marcus smart answered all his questions with “justice for breonna taylor” ✊🏽 pic.twitter.com/GreGiKxzsQ

http://twitter.com/NBABubbleLife/status/1285943038775160832
They saw the video screens surrounding the court, where it’s possible virtual fans will be shown during a game. They saw the bench area where seats will be spaced apart, nothing like the knee-to-knee setup on a normal NBA bench. The court reads Black Lives Matter just in front of a plexiglass box that encloses the scorer’s table. “I think it’s pretty cool how they’ll have the big monitors, where you can have your family, friends, fans, whoever, kind of be in the arena,” Davis said. “I think that’s a pretty dope idea. I know they’re still trying to figure out some things as far as lighting and sound and stuff. But I think the whole concept of it is pretty dope.”
Scott Agness: Myles Turner shared today he’s choosing to wear “Respect Us” on the back of his jersey in Orlando. This morning, I wrote about their options, how one will be auctioned off and they will get to keep one. Read + subscribe: fieldhousefiles.substack.com/p/nba-restart-…
Russell Westbrook: Honor the Gift is extremely proud to collaborate with the NBPA to create a collection of shirts that allow us players to shed light on social injustice, and honor the victims and families of those who continue to inspire us.

http://twitter.com/russwest44/status/1285245049991659520
Ira Winderman: Jimmy Butler will wear "Butler" on the back of his jersey for NBA restart, an NBA source confirmed to the Sun Sentinel. Butler had wanted to leave the back of his jersey blank to stand with all who have dealt with systematic racism. Request was denied, as @Tim Reynolds reported.
Tim Reynolds: Per sources, it appears as of now that Heat All-Star Jimmy Butler's request to wear no name on the back of his jersey at the NBA restart will not be honored. The NBA and NBPA struck deals on the messaging, but wearing of a name is part of the uniform player agreement.
Will Guillory: Josh Hart said he wanted to put Pamela Turner's name on his jersey. She was a 44-year-old diagnosed paranoid schizophrenic who was killed by police. The NBA didn't want players to put the names of police violence victims on the backs of jerseys out of respect for the families.
Marc J. Spears: Kings guard Bogdan Bogdanovic will wear “Sloboda” as his social just message on the back of his jersey. It means freedom in Serbian. More than 10 players are expected to have social justice messages in different languages.
Kristian Winfield: Garrett Temple will wear 'Education Reform' on the back of his Nets jersey. @Garrett Temple says there was a players-only call with about 20-30 players last night, making sure everyone stays on topic: "A lot of guys have come down here to make sure the message stays hot."

https://twitter.com/CNNnewsroom/status/1284171449981382656
Toronto Raptors guard Norman Powell called out the NBA for being halfway in on allowing players to speak on matters of social justice. The NBA initially announced that players would be allowed to replace the name on their jersey to show support and raise awareness, but later came out with a strict list of 29 approved messages. Powell felt the list was restricting and that it undercut what some players had hoped to do with the opportunity. “I wish there wasn’t even a list. It’s a topic where it’s freedom of speech, and you’re taking your name off the back of your jersey to put something that matters to you, that speaks volumes to how you view things and your approach to life. You shouldn’t be boxed in to say you can only say this much, or this is okay for you to say. You shouldn’t be boxed in on a topic like this,” Powell said in a conference call.
“I was really upset about the whole change where it was really limited. The list was very cookie-cutter. It doesn’t really touch the topics of what we’re trying to achieve here. With that being said, I chose Black Lives Matter — it was the most radical that spoke to where I stand,” Powell said.

http://twitter.com/JeffZillgitt/status/1283790466186711042
Josh Lewenberg: Rondae Hollis-Jefferson will wear "Speak Up" on the back of his jersey for the restart. "I feel like we should all speak up and say something."
Jimmy Butler has always been comfortable taking the road less traveled. So his answer to whether he'll wear one of the league-approved social justice messages on the back of his Miami Heat jersey shouldn't surprise. "I have decided not to. With that being said, I hope that my last name doesn't go on there as well," Butler said during his remote media availability session from the NBA's restart on the Disney World campus in Florida. "I love and respect all the messages that the league did choose. But for me, I felt like with no message, with no name, it's going back to like who I was. And if I wasn't who I was today, I'm no different than anybody else of color. "And I want that to be my message in the sense that just because I'm an NBA player, everybody has the same rights no matter what. That's how I feel about my people of color."
LA Clippers big Montrezl Harrell announced on Wednesday night that he would wear the phrase 'How Many More' on the back of his jersey in place of his last name for the NBA restart. Harrell announced his decision via Instagram, saying the following: "Don't us people bleed like you, don't us people breathe the same air as you do. But yet again the color of our skin tells the story right. That's why on back my uniform I have replaced my name with 'HOW MANY MORE.'"
Alex Caruso will wear Black Lives Matter on the back of his Lakers jersey when the NBA season resumes July 30. “I decided to put Black Lives Matter on the back of the jersey,” Caruso told Dunk Bait of Yahoo Sports. “I thought that as a white player in the NBA, I feel like showing the support and voicing that. As a figure that a lot of white kids growing up around the country idolize or are fans of, whatever you want to call it, I think it’s important for me to show that’s the right thing and that the message is equality and the message is justice. It’s making sure their voices are heard and that everybody treats everybody how they should be treated.”
Duvalier Johnson: Jerami Grant said that he plans to have his last name on the back of his jersey instead of a message for the re-start. States that it does not mean as much because he will continue to live by it.
Andrew Lopez: Jrue also told me that he'll have "Say Their Names" on the back of his jersey when the NBA restarts. Wished they could have had actual names but took what was allowed. Added playing in Orlando and making this statement and donating the money was crucial in coming back to play.
“I’m going to use my name,” Rivers said. “I wasn’t able to put ‘Trayvon.’ I do like some of the messages they have. I’m very happy that players are using that. But I wanted to go a different route. Especially for me being from Orlando, Trayvon being right outside Orlando, that kind of resonated with me and my city and where I’m from. No matter where I play or where I go, I always represent Orlando, Florida. I wanted that. That couldn’t happen so I’m just going to use Rivers.”
Josh Lewenberg: Raptors guard Patrick McCaw says he will wear "Say Their Names" on the back of his jersey for the restart. "I'm excited to show my support on national TV and have this opportunity on such a big stage."
Marc J. Spears: “The word I chose was ‘Peace.’ Because all of the other words were solutions to the problems that are going on in our country. And I feel like, once those solutions and those problems are worked on, then we’ll finally have peace,” Kings swingman Justin James on name for jerseys.
Storyline: Social Justice Messages
More HoopsHype Rumors
August 6, 2020 | 10:55 am EDT Update
Damian Lillard on high school basketball: The other thing that makes it sad is the level of complacency because you’ve been told like you’re gonna make it and you’re gonna be a draft pick and you know, you don’t got to earn nothing. You don’t feel like you gotta work for nothing. And it’s sad when it’s time for them to make the NBA and they don’t make it. Like, either they don’t get drafted. Or they get drafted and they ain’t built to survive where everybody’s good. You know what I’m saying? Like, you’re talented and you, you know, you got all these gifts, but everybody got that. You know, I mean, like, if you if you’re 20 years old, or 19 or whatever, and you think you either come in here and just do whatever you want against Chris Paul, Pat Bev… Like if you think you bout to come in here and have your way, you don’t get embarrassed. You know, I’m saying like… Don’t nobody care about the hype. I don’t care what your agent told you. I don’t care what your manager, whoever is the person had been handling you since 10th grade… I don’t care what they told you. Once you get up here, you got to do it. And if you’re not prepared for it or mentally build for it, you’re not gonna make it. And that’s where you see a lot of these dudes. They get here and they don’t stick because they’re not built to make it here. And a lot of that has to do with the culture of high school basketball.

Former G League player Aaron Craft retiring

Ohio State alum Aaron Craft is officially focusing on medicine, he announced via a post on his personal Twitter account. “The new chapter has begun!” he wrote, “Excited, a little nervous, and extremely grateful to start a journey I’ve thought about for so long. I’ve always liked our home white jerseys!” From the beginning of the 2019-20 season prior to the coronavirus pandemic, he revealed his intentions to retire as a player after being accepted to the medical school at Ohio State University.
Statement from ESPN senior writer Jackie MacMullan: About three weeks ago during a discussion on the podcast The Hoop Collective, I misspoke when I expressed my opinion regarding the business practices of the Indiana Pacers, and inferred that Larry Bird had been frustrated during his time as team president. It was a careless remark, based solely on my opinion, and therefore should have never been said. Larry Bird never expressed those feelings to me, and I apologize to both Larry and team owner Herb Simon for poor choice of my words.
August 6, 2020 | 9:51 am EDT Update

Kevin Durant surprised by Caris LeVert

ON CARIS LEVERT … KD was surprised at how good his new teammate is. “He is definitely better than I thought. He’s different. He can score that thing. He can pass it. He’s quick. His thing is about being efficient, and I think that’s what you’re seeing. The shots he’s taking now, it’s like all of his lane. Not a lot of threes, a lot in the mid-range, getting to the cup. I think his IQ is what surprised me the most.”
KD said he’s been playing some with other NBA players, including Kyrie Irving, Blake Griffin and Allonzo Trier. “I’m playing a lot of one-on-one lately, so what comes with that is your handle is a little better, You’re more quicker with your moves. You’re less indecisive with what you want to bring out. So I’m just crafting that, that playground style of ball even more, just working out by myself or with two or three guys. “That’s the cool part about it because it’s hard to get that type of play in a regular season because you’re going through the team aspect, you’re training with the team and you want to preserve your body for the season. So if I’m playing 1-on-1 or 2-on-2s, it’s just going to help my creativity. That’s the timing thing that every injured player goes through. Just finding that rhythm again. Hopefully I gain it over time and once I get into real games it translates real fast.”
Kevin Durant and his manager Rich Kleiman have produced some interesting content through their company Thirty Five Ventures, from ESPN+ show The Boardroom to documentaries like Basketball County and Q Ball. And Durant has been a frequent guest on other podcasts, from The Bill Simmons Podcast to Pull Up With CJ McCollum to Knuckleheads (with Quentin Richardson and Darius Miles) to Play For Keeps. Now, Durant and Kleiman are starting their own podcast network, and they’re teaming up with established podcasting company Cadence13 (now owned by radio conglomerate Entercom) for that. Here’s more from a Cadence13 release:
Dapper Labs has closed a $12 million funding round led by National Basketball Association (NBA) stars Spencer Dinwiddie, Andre Iguodala, JaVale McGee, Aaron Gordon and Garrett Temple, according to a press release shared with CoinDesk. The funds will be used for further development of blockchain games including the eventual launch of NBA Top Shot out of private beta, Dapper Labs founder and CEO Roham Gharegozlou told CoinDesk in a phone interview. “Sports are our most important vertical now,” Gharegozlou said.
Arenas also took a shot at Los Angeles Clippers guard Lou Williams, who said he visited the Magic City strip club in Atlanta for food after leaving the bubble in Orlando for a funeral in July. “I would never eat at a strip club. I don’t go to the strip club to eat wings,” Gilbert told TMZ. “I can go to Wing Stop for some wings. I go to the strip club to see strippers.”
August 6, 2020 | 7:54 am EDT Update

Giannis Antetokounmpo very likely to win MVP, DPOY

If you thought this vote was going to be close based on LeBron James‘ run before the league’s stoppage, think twice. Per our poll, Giannis Antetokounmpo will be the near-consensus MVP after improving his scoring, rebounding and three-point percentage numbers from a season ago. By securing back-to-back MVP awards, Antetokounmpo will join Stephen Curry, LeBron James, Steve Nash, Tim Duncan, Michael Jordan, Magic Johnson, Larry Bird, Moses Malone, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, Wilt Chamberlain and Bill Russell as the only NBA players to do so.
This rumor is part of a storyline: 298 more rumors
What attracted you to Brooklyn? Was it Kyrie going there? Or what made you want to be there? Kevin Durant: We went together so I think we talked about it together. I think they had a young core that was hungry for success, that played in the playoffs before. They had some young coaches that was looking forward to a new experience in the NBA. You know, I felt like there was a fresh organization that needed like an extra push, you know. You get two guys that can score the basketball. It just felt right.
Storyline: Durant-Irving Dynamic
August 6, 2020 | 3:26 am EDT Update
“In this situation with the NBPA, he wasn’t the only one that had a problem with what was potentially going to happen in the bubble. Like, everybody had concerns,” Durant said. “But obviously, he’s Kyrie—the biggest one—and that’s going to sell papers. At this time, especially during the pandemic, nobody making money, so you get an opportunity to get some clicks, it’s easy to use Kyrie. But it’s 80, 90 players who had the same questions he had.” Contrary to reports that Irving organized a group of NBA players to express their disapproval for the NBA restart, KD says that things transpired in a more organic way. “Kyrie wasn’t the one, like, ‘Yo, let’s get everybody together,'” he said. “Five or six people called one another, like, ‘Oh shit, I’m feeling that way too.’ Then, another 10 people called…But Kyrie the biggest voice out of ’em all, and because he relates to everyone in the league.”
Storyline: Orlando Bubble
Isaiah Thomas: I’m fine with being a backup, At the end of the day I want to be apart of something and when my name is called I’d be more than ready!!! That goes for any team

Storyline: Isaiah Thomas Free Agency
Chances are, if you are reading this story on Anthony, you’ve heard the noise. And chances are, several of you are part of the noise. “When we got him, everybody had something to say about him,” Blazers star Damian Lillard said. “What he gonna do defensively? … He’s older … He’s done … Where’s he gonna fit in? … How is he in the locker room? … Why didn’t it work out with these other teams?”
All that “noise” has long ago been dismissed by the 36-year-old Anthony. But it hasn’t been forgotten by his teammates, who have come to adore the player they once worshipped from afar. “I say everybody who was talking, or said something negative about him, they need to apologize, you know?” Gary Trent Jr. said. “It’s Carmelo Anthony. He went through tough times. He battled, stayed resilient and for him to come back and bounce back like it’s nothing? That’s why he’s Carmelo Anthony and why he does what he does.”
With one of the most open NBA postseasons in years, there’s no clear title favorite right now, but the LA Clippers picked up one big endorsement: Kevin Durant. “If I had to choose — and I hate doing that s— because you never know what could happen, you seen that with us last year — but if I had to choose, I’ll go with Clippers and Bucks for the championship,” Durant said on the “Play For Keeps” podcast. “And I’ll go with the Clippers.”

Gregg Popovich compares Nikola Jokic to Larry Bird

Denver Nuggets forward Michael Porter Jr. became only the third rookie since 2000 to post consecutive 30-point double-doubles but it was Nikola Jokic who left Gregg Popovich feeling like he had just faced a Hall of Famer. “Porter is a fine young talent,” the San Antonio Spurs coach said. “And Jokic, he’s like a reincarnation of Larry Bird. He does everything. He’s amazing. They were great.”
Bell was drafted by Chicago in the second round in 2017 and traded to Golden State on draft night. But after two seasons with the Warriors, he signed a free-agent deal with the Timberwolves last summer. Then, Bell was traded in February as part of a four-team, 12-player deal in which he was first traded to Houston and then moved to Memphis the next day. He experienced a flood of emotions as he processed the trade, and it opened his eyes to the “business” side of the NBA. “When it happened, I was down, I was sad, I wanted to cry,” Bell said. “I wanted to be mad, I wanted to cuss somebody out, I wanted to fight somebody. But I still had a chance to play basketball in the NBA. There’s not a lot of people who get to say that.”
So Zion is important and not just for the sake of the New Orleans Pelicans. The big question hanging over the league is whether he’s capable of shouldering it all. Dr. Brian Sutterer, of sports injury YouTube fame, has been watching intently and has his concerns. “He’s in a race against his own body,” Dr. Sutterer said over the phone. “If you go watch his Duke highlights compared to now, the difference is profound. In my opinion, his athleticism and conditioning have regressed substantially. He’s less explosive, less conditioned, slower on defense, has already had a portion of his meniscus removed from his knee after an injury, and he’s still under close monitoring from the medical staff.”
Storyline: Zion Williamson Injury
In a Wednesday morning telephone interview with Fox & Friends, Trump said he turned off N.B.A. games “when I see people kneeling” and “disrespecting our flag and disrespecting our national anthem.” Asked about Trump’s comments after the Lakers’ 105-86 loss to the Oklahoma City Thunder later in the day, James fired back. “The game will go on without his eyes on it,” James said at his postgame news conference from the N.B.A.’s so-called bubble at Walt Disney World in Florida. “I can sit here and speak for all of us that love the game of basketball: We could care less.”

A day after delivering a pre-game history lesson on racial injustice, Gregg Popovich dove into the topic once more on Monday. This time, the Spurs head coach told reporters that Hispanics have also been the victims of systematic racism in the United States. “Black and brown people are the two major groups that suffered these injustices,” Popovich said in a Zoom media session. “Obviously, the Black population, for hundreds of years. But our brown brothers and sisters have suffered the same discrimination in a lot of ways that reflect the same system that has created such inequality in wealth across the board for Black and brown peoples,” the coach said.

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