Activism Rumors


With the NBA season set to resume at the end of July, the Mavericks have a plan. Rather than let their return to play be a distraction from the movement encompassing the nation, they’re working on a unified message. Rather than stay silent on the injustice in the country, they’re using their platform when play resumes at the Walt Disney World Resort to amplify their voices. “I think, first and foremost, as a team, we just have to make sure we’re on the same page to see what we’re going to do when we get to Orlando,” Mavericks guard Tim Hardaway Jr. said in a Zoom call with reporters Monday. “I’m happy that the season is starting and I’m happy that it’s happening at this time so we can use our platform to express ourselves.”
“That’s what being an athlete and being on one of the biggest stages is all about: expressing yourself,” Hardaway said. “I’m happy that we’re going to be able to so that as a team. I’m pretty sure we’ll talk about that as the days go on, but for now, I’m happy that we’re going to start the season around this time. We want to make sure we use that platform to get our voices heard.”
Storyline: Orlando Bubble
The Thunder, with CAA Sports, has created the Thunder Fellows Program, a nonprofit organization designed to unlock opportunities in sports, technology and entertainment for Black students in the Tulsa area, the team announced Tuesday. The program, guided by the 1921 Tulsa Race Massacre Centennial Commission, will be comprised of two groups of students: Fellows, Black students from regional colleges and universities, and Young Leaders, Black students in the Tulsa area from grades 8 to 12.
The Thunder Fellows Program will be located in Tulsa’s Greenwood District, the site of the Tulsa Race Massacre in 1921 when white mobs killed hundreds of Black people and destroyed homes and businesses in what was known as Black Wall Street. “Our organization is deeply committed to social justice and the actions that are necessary to create better opportunities for the Black community, now and in the future,” Thunder chairman Clay Bennett said in release. “We will work tirelessly to make this a program that will create change for generations to come.”
When asked why specifically he thought the league shouldn’t resume play, he provided a poignant response. “I think [the spread of the virus], and then also I feel like there’s a lot of other stuff going on,” Milton said. “There are issues going on right now in the world that are way bigger than a sport, way bigger than the game of basketball. I feel like we’re on the cusp of finally having people tune in and really try to listen and try to understand more about the things that are happening in our country. I feel like the moment is too big right now and I don’t want the game of basketball to overshadow it.”
Mike Vorkunov: WNBA commissioner Cathy Engelbert says Kelly Loeffler is no longer involved in day-to-day Atlanta Dream business. “The WNBA is based on the principle of equal and fair treatment of all people and we… will continue to use our platforms to vigorously advocate for social justice.” pic.twitter.com/HPHxsGDYro


Brooklyn Nets star Kyrie Irving is joining rapper Common and others for a TV special calling for action following the death of Breonna Taylor. Irving is producing “#SAYHERNAME: BREONNA TAYLOR,” which will debut Wednesday at 7 p.m. EDT on the PlayersTv digital and broadcast network. Taylor, a 26-year-old Black emergency medical technician, was shot eight times in Louisville, Kentucky, by plainclothes officers serving a narcotics search warrant without knocking at her apartment on March 13. No drugs were found. Louisville has seen weeks of protests over the shooting and demonstrators around the country have chanted her name.
Irving, who has been outspoken about social justice issues, says as society is calling attention to police brutality and systemic racism, it is “critical to magnify how these unjust behaviors and practices are directly impacting Black women.” Alicia Garza, co-founder of Black Lives Matter, Democratic U.S. Rep. Ayanna Pressley of Massachusetts and journalist Jemele Hill are among the others appearing in the program.
Philadelphia 76ers forward Mike Scott said players being given a list of phrases they may put on the backs of their jerseys when the NBA season restarts in Orlando, Florida, later this month, rather than choosing what they want to say themselves, was a “bad miss.” “They gave us some names and phrases to put on the back of jerseys. That was terrible. It was just a bad miss, a bad choice,” Scott said Monday during a conference call with reporters. “They didn’t give players a chance to voice our opinions on it; they just gave us a list to pick from. So that was bad, that was terrible. “I’m all about just doing, instead of saying and posting, or putting something on the back of your jersey. I don’t think that’s going to stop anything, you know?”
Speaking on a separate call Monday, Boston Celtics guard Jaylen Brown had a few other suggestions that he wished the league would have allowed players to use. “There’s a lot of stuff. I know everybody has different reasons they’re playing for. … Four hundred and fifty guys, or however many will be there, are sending in whatever they feel like would add to that list and encompass the group that’s going down there,” Brown said. “What I’d like to personally see on there? Maybe ‘Break the Cycle,’ putting that on the back of your jersey. ‘Results,’ that’s what everybody is really playing for. ‘Inequality by Design,’ maybe. Things like that might have a deeper impact than some of the things that were given to us. I think it was a little bit limiting.”
Philadelphia 76ers forward Mike Scott said players being given a list of phrases they may put on the backs of their jerseys when the NBA season restarts in Orlando, Florida, later this month, rather than choosing what they want to say themselves, was a “bad miss.” “They gave us some names and phrases to put on the back of jerseys. That was terrible. It was just a bad miss, a bad choice,” Scott said Monday during a conference call with reporters. “They didn’t give players a chance to voice our opinions on it; they just gave us a list to pick from. So that was bad, that was terrible. “I’m all about just doing, instead of saying and posting, or putting something on the back of your jersey. I don’t think that’s going to stop anything, you know?”
Speaking on a separate call Monday, Boston Celtics guard Jaylen Brown had a few other suggestions that he wished the league would have allowed players to use. “There’s a lot of stuff. I know everybody has different reasons they’re playing for. … Four hundred and fifty guys, or however many will be there, are sending in whatever they feel like would add to that list and encompass the group that’s going down there,” Brown said. “What I’d like to personally see on there? Maybe ‘Break the Cycle,’ putting that on the back of your jersey. ‘Results,’ that’s what everybody is really playing for. ‘Inequality by Design,’ maybe. Things like that might have a deeper impact than some of the things that were given to us. I think it was a little bit limiting.”
Barkley said America needs police, but also needs police reform. “Because the bad cops are giving the good cops a bad name,” he said. “Anybody who thinks we can have a civilized society without cops, they’re being disingenuous, and they’re not being honest and fair.” He continued, saying, “I don’t want any unarmed black man killed. I don’t want any unarmed white man killed, but we do need police reform.”
Bill Russell: In December of 1956, already two months into the season because I was competing in the Olympics, I began my career as a Boston Celtic. The team had had a Black player before me, Chuck Cooper, but when I arrived, I was the only Black person on a team of white guys. The Boston Celtics proved to be an organization of good people––from Walter Brown to Red Auerbach, to most of my teammates. I cannot say the same about the fans or the city. During games people yelled hateful, indecent things: “Go back to Africa,” “Baboon,” “Coon,” “Nigger.” I used their unkindness as energy to fuel me, to work myself into a rage, a rage I used to win.
2 days ago via SLAM
Bill Russell: The Celtics also ran a poll asking fans how they could increase attendance. More than 50 percent of the fans polled answered, “Have fewer Black guys on the team.” I refused to let the “fans’” bigotry, evidence of their lack of character, harm me. As far as I was concerned, I played for the Boston Celtics, the institution, and the Boston Celtics, my teammates. I did not play for the city or for the fans.
2 days ago via SLAM
Bill Russell: In the 1960s, I tried to move to Wilmington, MA, but nobody would sell me a house. So, I moved my family to Reading, a predominantly white town 16 miles north of Boston. Bigots broke into the house, spray-painted “Nigga” on the walls, shit in our bed. Police cars followed me often. I looked into buying a different house in a different neighborhood, but people in that neighborhood started a petition to persuade the seller not to sell to me. Around this same time Medgar Evars was murdered by the KKK. His brother, Charlie, asked me if I would do a series of integrated basketball clinics for children, which I did. I marched in Washington, supported Ali. After that, the death threats started coming. I said then that I wasn’t scared of the kind of men who come in the dark of night. The fact is, I’ve never found fear to be useful.
2 days ago via SLAM
Speaking to reporters in a Zoom conference call on Monday, Musa was asked for his view of the Black Lives Matter movement that was sparked by the police killing of unarmed Black man George Floyd in Minneapolis. “It’s just terrible from my perspective,” Musa said. “First of all, I’m not from America, and to see that brutality happen, it hurts my heart a lot. I’m with Black Lives Matter all day. I think I’m going to change [the name] on my jersey to ‘Equality and Peace.’ It will be some kind of message.”
Musa hails from a part of the world that once was torn by war between different ethnic groups. Yet, Musa, who identifies as Croatian, said he never has witnessed the sort of police brutality in his country that he has seen in America. “Never, never,” Musa said. “Especially in Croatia, I was playing, and every season, we had five or six American [Black players]. We respected them more than we respected each other because we didn’t want them to feel different from us. It’s just sad.”
During the NBA stoppage, the Nets have shared their feelings about social issues on group telephone and video chats. “I learned a lot, especially from Garrett Temple and Joe Harris, who were talking a lot about the situation and how it was before,” Musa said. “I’ve been here for two years, and I don’t know what the States were like before. They were kind of navigating me through the situation, and I’m just terrified. My heart hurts when I hear those things. It’s really crazy.”
The WNBA and its union have agreed to feature the names of women who have died in connection to police action or alleged racial violence — such as Sandra Bland, Breonna Taylor and Vanessa Guillen — when the league resumes play later this month, sources told ESPN. WNBA players will also wear warm-up shirts that say “Black Lives Matter” on the front and “Say Her Name” on the front. “Black Lives Matter” will also be featured prominently on the courts at the IMG Academy in Bradenton, Florida, sources said.
“This is so different,” Temple said. “It’s so new to everybody. I mean, a lot of people have had second thoughts. I would imagine more than half of the league, of the players that are going there, have had second thoughts. We have meetings, and sometimes people don’t speak up, whether it’s young guys or guys that just don’t feel like talking in front of a group. So these things happen. “Kyrie, myself, most of the Black men in the league that are passionate about this — or if they weren’t passionate, most of them are passionate about it now — we want the same thing,” Temple added. “There are a lot of different ways to skin a cat. My thing is, I think we utilize the situation — being in the bubble — as a way to continue to push it, because there are going to be so many eyes watching these basketball games again because of the pandemic, maybe more so now than what we thought three or four weeks ago, because of the uptick.”
Temple, who has been studying for the LSAT during the league’s hiatus, is the son of Collis Temple, the first Black athlete to play basketball at LSU. Collis Temple received threats while playing for the Tigers in the early 1970s, and the National Guard was called in to protect him. As he got older, Collis Temple shared his experiences with his children. Those stories had a profound effect on Garrett, who has been active in the Black Lives Matter movement for years. The 6-foot-5 guard was in Los Angeles in 2013 when George Zimmerman was acquitted in the killing of Trayvon Martin and said he did not recall the acquittal eliciting a notable uproar there. But he said recently he’s seen a change in the movement after George Floyd was killed by a police officer in Minneapolis. “It made me angry that it was so foreign to so many people, or people just didn’t even pay attention to it,” Temple said. “Fast forward, it seems like people are finally starting to care about unarmed Black men being brutalized by the police and just Black Americans in general being marginalized.”
“For me, I can speak for myself better than anybody, I want to make that clear: I didn’t want to go to Orlando,” Brown said Monday in a conference call with reporters. “Like, I had apprehensions not just because of social justice, but COVID-related, and had some family issues, as well. But, once I thought about the opportunity that the organization and the NBA presented to play for something bigger than myself, I would have signed up right away. “I plan on using my voice when I’m down there. I plan on inspiring and spreading light on things that are getting dimmed, and hopefully the NBA and our organization can understand.”
“The more the NBA understands that, the better everybody will feel about it, especially players. So I feel that us going down there and making sure nobody gets distracted is part of the initial correspondence. We have to go down there and make sure that people don’t forget about George Floyd or Breonna Taylor or Philando Castile or Ahmaud Arbery or Trayvon Martin, which is in the Orlando area. And the list goes on, and the countless other people who were not caught on video who experienced something similar. “The bottom line is there’s improvements that need to be made and the NBA has a great voice and a lot of resources and a lot of influence and we are appreciative they are helping in aiding in a lot of the things we care about. So that’s really important.”
Philadelphia 76ers forward Mike Scott said the NBA giving players a list of phrases they may put on the backs of their jerseys when the season restarts in Orlando, Florida, later this month, rather than allowing players to choose what they want to say, was a “bad miss.” “They gave us some names and phrases to put on the back of jerseys. That was terrible. It was just a bad miss, a bad choice,” Scott said Monday during a conference call with reporters. “They didn’t give players a chance to voice our opinions on it; they just gave us a list to pick from. So that was bad, that was terrible. “I’m all about just doing, instead of saying and posting, or putting something on the back of your jersey. I don’t think that’s going to stop anything, you know?”
“There’s a lot of stuff. I know everybody has different reasons they’re playing for. … Four hundred and fifty guys, or however many will be there, are sending in whatever they feel like would add to that list and encompass the group that’s going down there,” Brown said. “What I’d like to personally see on there? Maybe ‘Break the Cycle,’ putting that on the back of your jersey. ‘Results,’ that’s what everybody is really playing for. ‘Inequality by Design,’ maybe. Things like that might have a deeper impact than some of the things that were given to us. I think it was a little bit limiting.”
RAY: So, instead of Denver the previous year, you wound up with Milwaukee. That must have been quite a culture shock coming from LA. Marques Johnson: I know Kareem Abdul-Jabbar had his issues there culturally. Kareem grew up in New York, went to college in Los Angeles. I grew up in Los Angeles after moving to California from Louisiana at five years old. But LA is all I know: sunshine and beaches and that kind of lifestyle. The only thing I knew of Milwaukee was from what I had seen on Happy Days and Laverne and Shirley shows back in the late 70s. It looked like a quaint enough city. I was just excited about having an opportunity to play in the NBA. The one thing that always bothered me is that I thought I should have been the No. 1 player picked in that draft. But at that time, there was a racial component involved. There was a lot written by the media in those days that the NBA had too many African Americans. There was a quota system in the mid to early 70s, where teams, especially Southern and Midwest teams, would always have six or seven white guys on the roster.
As far as the actual games go, the players aren’t worried about playing without fans or how the schedule was decided on. They’re just excited to get to play again. “We miss playing the game of basketball,” Niang said. “We miss our day jobs so I think for the most part we’re excited to get down there and use our platform for social issues and be safe while doing that. The NBA has set up an environment that’s given us the right safety protocols to move in the right direction to be able to play.”