NBA Commissioner Adam Silver said President Donald Trump’s reportedly vulgar comment on immigration “is discouraging” but vowed to continue the work of the NBA and NBPA in creating real change in communities.
Silver spoke to an outraged Toronto Raptors president Masai Ujiri, Silver showed support.
“I certainly understand how upset he is as an immigrant to this country and Canada,” Silver said of Ujiri (h/t ESPN).
“I think for him, someone who does so much in his daily life to improve the life of Africans through his personal foundation, through our Basketball Without Borders program, it is discouraging. But Masai will not in any way be deterred from the work he is doing just as the league won’t be.”
The comments drew backlash and anger for the President who responded to questions of being racist on Sunday by saying; “No. No, I am not a racist,” President Trump responded. “I am the least racist person you have ever interviewed. That I can tell you.”
After an emotional tour of the National Civil Rights Museum along with NBPA executive director Michele Roberts at the Lorraine Motel, where Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. was assassinated, Silver spoke about the anger that Trump incited with his comments, but also said that the 50th anniversary of King’s death is “an impetus to continue pushing forward” toward impacting social injustice.
“I think for both Michele and me, it is a reminder and an impetus to continue pushing forward with the kind of things that we can do together as a league,” Silver said.
Silver said that both he and Michele left the tour feeling more committed to aiding players trying to make a difference in communities with youth and city officials and law enforcement.
“Sports continue to be a unique opportunity to unite people, and it is a place where there is a rare sense of equality. Certainly, we are proud that within the NBA, you are judged by your performance on the floor, regardless of your background, nationality or ethnicity. … To me, it is also reinforcement of how important it is that we stay the course in terms of the programs that this league has been operating for decades and new programs like NBA Voices that we are beginning this week.”
“I tend to be an optimist,” Silver also said. “Certainly, as I am reminded of the history of this country, much of it which took place during my lifetime, there has been tremendous progress, there is no question about it. Having said that, we have a long way to go.”
Today the league launched a new initiative called NBA Voices, along with a new interactive webpage, voices.nba.com, intended to address social injustice and promote inclusion, diversity and equality.
“Since our players stood up and in essence there was a call to action by the NBA family, we are incredibly proud that we have executed over 200 events in communities around the country in every NBA city,” Silver stated.
“With the case of NBA Voices, we recognize that access to that platform was important to our fans. It was really in response to our fans saying to us, Where do we go to learn more about what it is that you are doing, and what we can do?”
Silver also shared his thoughts of sharing the experience with Roberts and the impression it left on them.
“There is symbolism of us being here together with the Lakers and Grizzlies organizations,” Silver described.
“With all that is going on in our country and the world, it is a reminder to us that we can be such a force for good, both positive messages and actions for a diverse group of fans and people and where in the modern NBA, not just in terms of diversity and race but diversity of ethnicity and nationality in a league that is 25 percent non-American.
“I think as she and I were walking together and reading the words of Martin Luther King and the concept behind the movement, it makes us that much more aware here in 2018 of how much we can still contribute to ensuring that those weren’t just words but that there are opportunities for our players and our teams to continue doing those things that are critically important in society moving forward.”
Celtics’ Gordon Hayward Says He’s ‘Basically 100 Percent’
Boston Celtics forward Gordon Hayward says that he is “basically” 100% eleven months removed from his gruesome 2017-208 season opening-night ankle injury, and has been playing 5-on5 games with teammates to prepare for training camp in October, according to ESPN’s Chris Forsberg.
“I would say I’m basically 100 percent,” Hayward said. “There’s certain things that I think are going to take time — even if I was 100 percent healthy, I’m not 100 percent as far as basketball-wise, just because I haven’t played in a year.
“I’m trying to figure those things out. The last step for me as far as from a physical standpoint is a little explosion, that little last juice bounce that you get. So that’s going to take me the longest time. But like I said, for the most part, I feel very good.”
Hayward discussed the latest milestone in his recovery, playing with his teammates again.
“It’s so much fun being able to play again, and play with my teammates,” Hayward described. “Using these past two weeks, and the next month or so, will be good to kind of get back into the game, feel the rhythm, the timing, different things like that. But it feels pretty good.”
“I think when you go through a process like this, you just find out that, if you want to get back to the player that you were, it takes a lot of effort,” said Hayward. “I think you find the fight within yourself because there’s so many days where I wake up and it’s like, ‘Man, here we go again.’ Another day I’m driving in, it’s freezing cold weather here in Boston, below zero, going into the facility, and the team’s in L.A., or they’re in Miami or whatever, and they’re playing, and I’m picking up marbles and putting them into a bucket. I’m standing on one leg and doing balance drills. I’m shooting from a chair.
“Like, all that stuff, to be able to get up and do it every day, and do it a little bit better the next day, and slowly work off getting out of the chair, and getting out of the boot, and now I can stand and shoot, and now I can do one dribble and shoot — and just the long process. I mean, it was a process and a journey. I’m still not there yet, but it just helped me find kind of a fight in me.”
Hayward is ready for the new season and expects to be on the court for the Celtics when the season tips off.
“Yeah, 100 percent I expect to be out there [on opening night],” Hayward proclaimed. “This is what this time is for me — to kind of find my groove a little bit. Like I said, you can do all the drills you want, all the cardio, the jumping [and] agility stuff. But there’s nothing like playing 5-on-5, so when I play out here with my teammates, when we get into practice situations, that’s going to be the best — playing in the preseason games, that will be the best work I can get.”
“Watching the guys last year just gave me a lot of confidence in our team and what I think we have the ability to do,” said Hayward. “I’ve been playing with some of them these last two weeks, and we have a lot of talent on this team. We have a lot of depth, and it’s going to be a fun year.”
Knicks to Target Kyrie Irving Next Summer
The New York Knicks have their eyes on the summer of 2019 when they could have the opportunity to court their top free agent target, current Boston Celtics guard Kyrie Irving, according to NBC Sports’ A. Sherrod Blakely.
“I’ve spoken with people within [the Knicks] organization. They have made it absolutely crystal clear to me that—if they had their pick of guys that are going to be in the free-agent market [next] summer—Kyrie would be their first, second, third and fourth choice,” Blakely said.
Irving, who is believed to be willing to give the Knicks “consideration” in free agency, is entering the final guaranteed year of his contract and will make $20.1 million with a player option of $21.3 million in 2018-2019.
Wizards Sign Jordan McRae
McRae, 27, last played for the Cleveland Cavaliers back in the 2016-2017 season, and has spent time with the Phoenix Suns and the San Antonio Spurs, who drafted him in the second-round of the 2014 NBA draft.
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