NBA News and Notes: Coaches and players speak out against Donald Trump

November 11, 2016

The surprise result in the United States Presidential election was the big story internationally, and it certainly had its impact upon the NBA.

Unlike the current climate in baseball and the NFL where players and ownership are often conservative, or even worse, downright backward, the NBA has been the most progressive and open-minded North American sports league by far since the 1980's.

While the NFL had players openly backing an apparently mentally unstable Republican candidate, and could find only a handful of players who would agree with Colin Kaepernick's reasonable stance against illegal killings by police, the NBA, in contrast, came out in force to address this potentially frightening time in American history.

Unlike other sports figures and media entities that kept quiet or simply reported election results, the NBA's players and coaches were able to grasp and articulate the all important nuances.  Stated plainly, they recognized that the country's new President got elected partly by appealing to the bigotry of voters, as his sideshow and many Klan-like statements incited them to the polls.

If the other leagues did not seem to care much about such a development, the NBA -- a league which has recruited international audiences and players, banned a bigoted Donald Sterling for life, and has prominently placed minorities in leadership positions -- certainly would let its fans know that it gave a damn.

Owner Mark Cuban, for instance, hasn't been shy about bashing Trump throughout the campaign.

This week three respected coaches -- Steve Kerr of the Warriors, Stan Van Gundy of the Pistons, and Gregg Popovich of the Spurs -- expressed disbelief that the country could overlook the bigotry of Donald Trump and elect him to the White House.  All three offered lengthy and candid statements on the matter, a refreshing departure from the typical cliches we usually hear.

Meanwhile, the players also expressed shock that such a vulgar person could be elected, and more importantly, raised concerns over just what type of human being could ignore Trump's obvious bigotry and vote for such a man.

Veteran forward David West eloquently expressed how the election results revealed the true racist nature of many pockets of American society, and noted how Trump lacked the experience for the position.

Even corporate shills like LeBron James -- who initially was silent as a mouse while Trump held his convention in LeBron's home arena -- finally took a stand, vocally backing Hillary Clinton late in the campaign.

Perhaps Roger Goodell's silence on the matter explains why the NFL's ratings keep dropping.  At some point those with a conscience cannot support such a product.

In other NBA news . . .

Clippers and Hornets have red-hot start

The Clippers (7-1) and Hornets (6-1) are off to their best starts in franchise history. LA leads the NBA in point differential (+16.9) and Charlotte ranks third (+8.4). Both teams are 3-0 on the road. Here is a closer look at why both teams are thriving:

Clippers: LA is complementing its powerful offense with outstanding defense, holding opponents to league lows of 88.3 points and 39.6 percent shooting. The Clippers also lead the NBA in defensive efficiency by a wide margin, according to

The team’s starters have the highest net rating among the NBA’s most commonly used five-man lineups, and its reserves are making valuable contributions too. Newcomer Marreese Speights has had an instant impact off the bench, averaging 10.5 points in only 15.8 minutes.

The Clippers look to improve to 8-1 when they visit the Thunder on Friday (8 p.m. ET, NBA TV).

Hornets: Their recipe for success continues to center on taking care of the ball. Charlotte is committing the fewest turnovers in the NBA (11.3), a category it led in each of the previous three seasons under coach Steve Clifford. Charlotte is also defending at a high level, ranking second behind the Clippers in defensive efficiency.

Kemba Walker is off to a strong start with 23.9 points on 46.6 percent shooting – both above his career highs. A healthy Michael Kidd-Gilchrist has made a big difference, especially on the glass (8.0 rpg) and the defensive end (1.6 spg and 1.3 bpg). And big men Cody Zeller (11.4 ppg, 60.9 percent shooting), Frank Kaminsky (11.4 ppg) and Spencer Hawes (9.3 ppg) are producing in their roles.
The Hornets seek their fifth straight victory when they host the 5-2 Raptors on Friday (7 p.m. ET, NBA LEAGUE PASS).

Wizards' John Wall fined

Washington Wizards guard John Wall has been fined $25,000 for inappropriate interaction with a game official and failing to leave the court in a timely manner following his ejection, it was announced by Kiki VanDeWeghe, Executive Vice President, Basketball Operations.

Wall was ejected for receiving his second technical of the game with 33.3 seconds remaining in the fourth quarter of the Wizards’ 114-106 loss to the Houston Rockets on Nov. 7 at Verizon Center.

Pacers' George fined

Indiana Pacers forward Paul George has been fined $15,000 for kicking the ball into the spectator stands, it was announced by Kiki VanDeWeghe, Executive Vice President, Basketball Operations.

The incident, for which George was assessed a technical foul and ejected, occurred with 1:42 remaining in the third quarter of the Pacers’ 111-94 win over the Chicago Bulls on Nov. 5 at Bankers Life Fieldhouse.

To view the incident, click on the following link:

Mavs resolve dispute with ESPN

An interesting dispute arose between the Mavericks and ESPN, as the Mavs denied credentials to certain ESPN reporters recently.  The dispute centered around the alleged practice of automated reporting by ESPN personnel.

The following statements were released by the Mavericks and ESPN regarding NBA coverage.

Statement from ESPN President John Skipper:
“There have been several conversations relative to the concerns Mark has raised. Mark and I both agree that content written by individuals on site is much better. To be clear, ESPN has never contemplated automated reporting for our NBA coverage. We remain committed to first-person reporting on the NBA. As we did last year, we plan to continue to be present at most Dallas Mavericks home games. When we are not in the building, our game recaps going forward will continue to utilize AP first-person reports. In all cases, in order for fans to be able to access more game coverage of their favorite team, we will now link to team sites, such as, in our game recaps. I appreciate the role Commissioner Silver played in reaching this resolution.”

Statement from Mavericks Owner Mark Cuban:
“We are appreciative that ESPN will now commit to Mavs fans and all NBA fans with links to local and team provided coverage of every NBA game.  This will assure all NBA fans that they will find team specific game reporting for every game of their favorite teams on ESPN.  I am very appreciative for all the support, help and consideration that John Skipper of ESPN and NBA Commissioner Adam Silver provided towards this agreement.”

Nuggets file official protest

The Denver Nuggets have filed an official protest with the NBA over the game result in their one-point loss in Memphis on Tuesday night. The NBA released their last two minute officiating report which acknowledged an incorrect possession call with 0.7 seconds remaining in the game.

Below is a statement from Nuggets President and Governor Josh Kroenke.

"Last night, Coach Malone notified Tim Connelly and myself that the NBA officiating report acknowledged an incorrect call in our November 8th contest against the Memphis Grizzlies with 0.7 seconds remaining in the game and the Nuggets ahead 107-106. The ruling on the floor and subsequent video review resulted in Memphis incorrectly being awarded possession and scoring a game-winning basket on the final play.
“There are numerous plays over the course of a game that impact the eventual outcome, including some incorrect foul and judgement calls that affect each team throughout. Officiating a professional game in any sport is an incredibly difficult and highly scrutinized job, and we feel the NBA undoubtedly has the best basketball officials in the world.
“Commissioner Silver has done a fantastic job championing league transparency and accuracy for teams and fans alike with the addition of in-game video review and the NBA's Instant Replay Center. However, in this case, a reviewable non-judgement call regarding possession was not sufficiently reviewed, and considering the time and score, we feel as if the incorrect ruling had a direct impact on the final outcome of the game."

The Numbers

Julius Randle: The 21-year-old Lakers forward (14.5 ppg, 8.1 rpg) ranks seventh in the NBA in field goal percentage (58.8). He shot 42.9 percent last season, his first full year of NBA play.

Andrew Wiggins: The 21-year-old Timberwolves swingman leads the NBA in three-point field goal percentage at 63.6 (14-of-22). He has scored a combined 65 points in his last two games.

Otto Porter Jr.: The fourth-year forward scored a career-high 34 points (on 14-of-19 shooting), matched his career highs in rebounds (14) and blocked shots (three) and added four assists and three steals to lead the Wizards past the Celtics on Wednesday. For the season, he ranks fourth in the NBA in field goal percentage (61.0).

Dennis Schröder: In his first season as a full-time starter, the German point guard is averaging 16.4 points and 6.0 assists during the Hawks’ 6-2 start.

Draymond Green: The Warriors’ do-it-all forward leads Golden State in total rebounds, assists, steals and blocks. The last player to lead his team in all four categories for an entire season was LeBron James with the Cavaliers in 2008-09.

Talkin' Smack

Jody Genessy, Deseret News: “When media were allowed in the visitors locker room at Madison Square Garden on Sunday, an interesting situation unfolded. Within that small chamber, multiple people [on the Jazz] were speaking in the native language and accents of the French, Portuguese and Aussies, even Indianans. The room sounded like it could’ve been located at the United Nations headquarters. While New York has long been hailed for being an international melting pot, it’s Utah that has that distinction more than anywhere else around the NBA.”

Dan Devine, Yahoo! Sports: “Yes, James Harden is on an obscene run to start the season, and Russell Westbrook keeps compiling roughly all of the stats. If you’re looking for the NBA’s leading scorer, though, you’ll have to look north of the border, because DeMar DeRozan is cooking.”

Gregg Popovich, Spurs coach: “There is a big world out there and a whole lot of stuff going on. The more aware people are, the better off. For our team, since we have so many people from so many different areas, it helps us come together when they realize how big the world is.”

Hawks get their own D-League team

The NBA Development League and the Atlanta Hawks Basketball Club today announced that the Hawks have acquired the right to own and operate an NBA D-League team that will play in College Park, Ga., beginning with the 2019-20 season.

Additionally, the City of College Park has agreed to construct a 3500-seat arena in which the new franchise will serve as the primary tenant.  With the purchase, the Hawks become the 16th NBA team to own and operate an NBA D-League affiliate, while the NBA D-League grows to 23 teams.

“Today’s an exciting day in the NBA D-League as we welcome the Hawks and the City of College Park to our growing family,” said NBA D-League President Malcolm Turner.  “With the addition of the Hawks to our ownership ranks, more than half of NBA teams now own and operate their NBA D-League affiliate – an important step toward our goal of having a 30-team minor league.”

The new arena will be built at the Gateway Center, a conglomeration of upscale Marriott hotels and office space surrounding the Georgia International Convention Center, connected to Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport via light rail.  The arena is scheduled to be completed by summer 2019.

Six current Hawks have NBA D-League experience, including starters Kent Bazemore and Dennis Schröder, while assistant coaches Darvin Ham and Taylor Jenkins both began their coaching careers on NBA D-League benches.  Additionally, Hawks General Manager Wes Wilcox was the inaugural general manager of the NBA D-League’s Canton Charge.  Last season, the Hawks assigned three players to the NBA D-League.

“We are excited to have our affiliate based in College Park. The close proximity will allow us to maximize our relationship and have the highest level of synergy possible while providing a great place to develop future Hawks draft picks and players. Player development is at the core of our basketball program and our affiliate will be a critical component in that process,” President of Basketball Operations/Head Coach Mike Budenholzer said. “With Wes, Darvin, Taylor and our players, we have seen firsthand the positive impact the league can have in preparing players, front office staff and coaches for meaningful roles in the NBA.”

By Staff of and news services

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