Jeff Zillgitt: The Atlanta Hawks will name its media room at State Farm Arena after Sekou Smith. Will also honor Hawks player who interacts best with media (Sekou Smith Award). Will launch Summer League internship for a media student at a SWAC school.
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The outpouring of condolences, from fellow media members to players such as Chris Paul and Dwyane Wade to coaches across the league, is only a small indication of the weight of Smith’s loss. He was part of the fabric of the league, a person who could make you feel like you’d known him forever, even if you’d only been recently acquainted. An NBA lifer, it was only natural that Nuggets coach Michael Malone knew him as well. “I got to know him through my father (Brendan Malone),” Malone said. “… And through my father’s relationship with Sekou, I got to know him and interact with him. Last time I saw him in person was down in the ‘Bubble’ in Orlando, talking with him. Great man. “I’m just devastated for his family,” Malone said. “Obviously, I speak for everybody within our organization that we’re thinking about Sekou’s family at this time. It’s just a really morbid reminder that COVID, everything we’re going through, the testing, the protocols, the masks, social distancing … we’re doing it for a reason. This is real. Sekou will definitely be missed.”
About two weeks ago, I was supposed to be on his Hang Time podcast again. His producer emailed me the day of the podcast that he’d tested positive for COVID and we’d have to cancel. I asked him how he was doing. “Can’t believe this,” he texted back. “We are vigilant around here, and I got it anyway.” I sent a follow-up text later asking how he was doing. It went unanswered.
David Aldridge: The stories he would tell about his days on the Hawks’ beat! They would make me realize how wired in he was, and how easy it would have been for him to become an “insider” or some such, had he chosen to do so. He knew as much, maybe more, about what was going on around the league, because everyone in the game was comfortable talking with him — he didn’t do transactional relationships. But he didn’t need or want the scoop that bad. He just loved the game and the people in it. And so I’m saddest of all for those who were closest to him.
Along the way, Mr. Smith bonded with many writers, especially those who had also attended historically Black colleges and universities, including Mr. Lee and Marc Spears, an N.B.A. writer for the ESPN website The Undefeated who befriended Mr. Smith about 20 years ago while covering the Nuggets for The Denver Post. Mr. Smith’s gentle smack talk and humor charmed his friends. “He could’ve been a comedian on the side if he wanted to,” Mr. Spears said in a statement to The Times. “He was quick-witted with hilarious one-liners just like the late comedian Robin Harris.”
Ira Winderman: Pregame moment of silence before Heat-Clippers.
Smith was universally beloved within the basketball world, both for the work he produced in his nearly two decades covering the sport and, more importantly, for being a kind and decent person, one with an ever-present smile and a wonderful laugh. Those virtues, and many others, were reinforced in the outpouring of messages on social media following the news of his death. In addition to his colleagues across the journalism industry, the tributes came from NBA commissioner Adam Silver, as well as Golden State Warriors coach Steve Kerr and New Orleans Pelicans coach Stan Van Gundy.
Every reporter is assigned a press credential that’s necessary and mandatory for games and other sporting events, although with regard to Sekou, it was worthless. With him, no identification was necessary. “Working on the road with Sekou was an incredible experience because he knew everybody,” said Steve Quintana, executive producer at NBA.com. “Not only players and coaches, but security guards, parking attendants, equipment managers, doormen at the hotel. Everybody knew him and Sekou always stopped to talk to them.”
Longtime Hawks PR man Arthur Triche, who worked with the team when Smith was covering it, told ESPN, “He was my friend before he took the job here, and he became my best friend. “He was my sidekick on the road, and people probably thought I was giving him company secrets, but that couldn’t be further from the truth. He was always telling me what was going on.”
Marc Stein: Simply an honor to know and work alongside @SekouSmithNBA . BELOVED beyond words by his colleagues across the league. This saddest of days only gets sadder and harder. Sending as much warmth and strength as we can muster to his family in this unspeakably difficult time …
Eric Pincus: Sekou, man, that’s too much to digest. He always, from the get-go, was supportive when I was coming up. Paired up with him on NBA TV was maybe the most comfortable I’d been on a set like that. Love that guy
Rudy Gobert: RIP Sekou Smith 🙏🏽
Isaiah Thomas: My condolences to @SekouSmithNBA and his family
Chris Haynes: What I’d give for one more bike ride in the bubble with you brother. Along with @THE_Morgann, @Marc J. Spears and John Scott, we bonded like never before. @Sekou Smith fell a few times, but he got up and kept riding. Now he’s riding up high. Rest easy big brother. Love you. pic.twitter.com/dRbbBCpseP
Marc J. Spears: Thank you for your brotherly friendship, humor, honesty and compassion. Glad we had a chance to tell each other we loved each other three weeks ago. You were a gift to this Earth as a friend, father and a man Sekou Smith. Rest In Peace to my brother. Prayers to your wife & family pic.twitter.com/mqjnZyEHNz
Shams Charania: Hard to process. An impeccable human being. Rest In Peace, Sekou Smith. pic.twitter.com/7MwOMyOAB3
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February 28, 2021 | 6:15 am EST Update
Cleveland Cavaliers power forward Kevin Love is on this quick two-game trip with his teammates so he can continue to rehab a high-grade strained right calf, but the five-time All-Star is “unlikely” to return until after the NBA All-Star break, league sources tell cleveland.com.
Given the Cavs only have two games remaining — Monday in Houston and Wednesday at home against the Indiana Pacers — before a needed nine-day break, sources said the team doesn’t see the upside in pushing it. They want to use the extra days to get his calf better, so he can be 100 percent for the Second Half.
The Brooklyn Nets’ Kevin Durant will still serve as an NBA All-Star Game captain despite a hamstring injury that will keep him from playing. Durant and fellow All-Star Game captain LeBron James of the Los Angeles Lakers will each draft a roster out of the pool of selected All-Stars. The All-Star draft will air on TNT on March 4. It remained unclear whether Durant will travel to Atlanta for the game on March 7.
A Knicks official said Rivers was at the Garden, but in the back getting treatment for a sore ankle. Rivers was not listed on the pregame injury report submitted to the NBA. On the box score, Rivers was listed with a DNP-Coach’s Decision. Earlier this week, Rivers said of his situation: “I can’t control if I’m traded today, tomorrow or the next day. What I can control is how I am as a player.’’
His father, Mychal Thompson, believes Klay’s basketball lifespan could run until he’s 40 years old. “I said, if you really want to, you can play till you’re 40 years of age, but the key to that is you have to take care of your body, as you go into your 30s,” Mychal said, recounting to NBC Sports Bay Area a conversation he had with Klay.
That doesn’t mean he’s a finished product. There’s a reason the Raptors signed him with G League intentions and not for the NBA roster. The 10-day contract (about $82,000) affords them six games to see how he can fit and progress in their environment. It’s an audition by another name, and not the first time the Raptors have used a 10-day to get a 905 look at a prospect. “This gives us a chance to get Donta down in our system, teach him our ins and outs and the way we operate our offence, our defence, our schemes, and see how he looks running those,” general manager Chad Sanders said. “With Tampa just down the street, it’s a chance for us to get him out there and get some reps and get a chance to evaluate him for the big club.”
Callie Caplan: Luka, on ABC, asked about recent comparisons to Larry Bird’s game: “More, more games to go. A long time before you can compare me to Larry Bird. I just want to keep hooping, have fun playing basketball.”