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#pounditFriday, February 26, 2021

Basketball

Kyrie Irving uses disturbingly racist language in arguing for NBA logo change

Kyrie Irving

Kyrie Irving will say almost anything for attention, so it’s no surprise that his latest act is to argue for the NBA to change the logo.

The notion of discussing whether the logo should be changed is fine. The humble Jerry West has even said he wants the logo to be changed. But what is not acceptable is the racist language and racist argument Irving uses for making such a change.

In his Instagram post saying the NBA should change the logo to Kobe Bryant, Irving said in all caps “BLACK KINGS BUILT THE LEAGUE.”

That is dangerously racist language and racist reasoning. The logo should be changed because black kings built the league, he says.

Let’s disregard that Irving has a very limited knowledge of the history of the league. Irving obviously thinks the league’s history began when Irving was old enough to start following the NBA. Let’s also disregard that Irving has little recognition of all the commissioners, investors, and executives who played roles in building the NBA. Let’s also disregard that Irving, like so many of his contemporaries, doesn’t realize that it’s the fans who have built the league and made it possible for players to earn the fame and salaries they receive.

Using race as a motivating factor in this reasoning is terrible. A white athlete saying anything remotely close to this might see their career end. It should be no more acceptable for Irving to use this language or argument.

Being racist towards any group of people is unacceptable. It is and has always been unacceptable for anyone to be racist towards black people. But it’s also unacceptable to be racist while seeking retribution for a group of people you feel are/were oppressed. That just continues the cycle of racism and divide, and makes you no better than the original racists.

Kyrie Irving wants NBA logo to be changed to Kobe Bryant

Kyrie Irving

The NBA logo has been an iconic part of the league’s brand for many decades. But for Kyrie Irving however, it falls a bit flat.

The Brooklyn Nets guard took to Instagram on Wednesday to call for the NBA to change their logo to an image of the late Kobe Bryant.

“Gotta Happen, idc what anyone says,” Irving wrote in the caption of his post. “BLACK KINGS BUILT THE LEAGUE.”

Irving was close friends with Bryant, who died in January of last year. He also recently paid tribute to Bryant in a very cool way.

The NBA logo, meanwhile, has featured the silhouette of another LA Lakers legend, Hall of Famer Jerry West, since 1969. It underwent a small font change in 2017 but has otherwise stayed the same over the years. That said, West might actually be in favor of Bryant replacing him as the NBA’s logo.

Celtics owner shuts down speculation about Brad Stevens’ job status

Brad Stevens

The Boston Celtics have had an incredibly disappointing start to the season, but it’s not about to cost anyone their job.

Celtics owner Wyc Grousbeck made clear that coach Brad Stevens and team president Danny Ainge are not in danger of losing their jobs despite the team’s 15-16 start. Grousbeck added that Stevens and Ainge would be “nearly the top candidate in the league” for their respective jobs if they were available.

The stance makes sense. Stevens has posted five straight winning seasons as the Celtics’ head coach, while Ainge has constructed a championship team. As underwhelming as their start has been, the Celtics would be making a rash decision to part ways with them at this point.

Stevens has had to answer questions about whether he still has the backing of his players lately. No coach ever wants to have to deal with that, but it’s too soon to actually make a change over that chatter.

Report: Pistons struggling to find Blake Griffin trade partner

Blake Griffin

Blake Griffin is waiting for his departure from the Detroit Pistons, but it sounds like the team is really struggling to find takers for the former All-Star.

According to Michael Scotto of HoopsHype, the Pistons have struggled to trade Griffin, and executives around the league expect the forward to ultimately be bought out instead.

“I know they’ve been trying to trade him for months and can’t find a taker,” one Western Conference executive told Scotto. “Part of it is Blake also saying there are certain teams he would prefer to go to. This is a weird one. Non zero chance they buy him out, which just seems crazy.”

Two other executives also felt a buyout was the most likely option for Griffin, with his contract proving to be a major stumbling block. The good news for Griffin is that the executives expect him to receive “significant interest” if he does hit the open market.

When the Pistons decided to sideline Griffin as they pursued a trade, they might not have anticipated having such a hard time moving him on. While Griffin remains a big name, his production is far from what it once was. Over the last two seasons, the 31-year-old has averaged a modest 13.8 points and 4.9 rebounds per game while being hindered by injuries.

Zion Williamson leaves door open to participating in dunk contest

Zion Williamson

There is a relative lack of enthusiasm about All-Star festivities among many NBA players this year, but one star might be ready to give fans some excitement at the event.

Zion Williamson teased the possibility of taking part in the dunk contest on Wednesday, saying he “might” participate and refusing to rule out the possibility.

If Williamson wasn’t going to do it, he wouldn’t have to tease it and would just say so. This is a good sign for those who might want to see him do this.

The NBA would probably love it if Williamson participated. He’d be a marquee name that could be advertised. Plus, it would probably be a positive to be talking about something like that instead of snubs and controversy like we have been.

Karl-Anthony Towns shares how much Giannis Antetokounmpo has tried to help him

Karl-Anthony Towns

There was nothing but love between Karl-Anthony Towns and Giannis Antetokounmpo after their teams played on Tuesday night.

Giannis’ Milwaukee Bucks beat Towns’ Minnesota Timberwolves 139-112 to improve to 19-13 on the season. Giannis had 37 points, 8 rebounds and 8 assists in the win. Towns had 26 points and 11 rebounds in Minnesota’s loss.

After the game, Antetokounmpo told reporters that he tried to show compassion to Towns after the Timberwolves big man dealt with personal tragedy over COVID-19.

Towns shared that he appreciated the efforts and gestures from Antetokounmpo. He said the two built a friendship as a result.

Not only is Towns dealing with his team being the worst in the NBA this season, but the big man has also been dealing with mental struggles this season. He’s having a rough year but has some support from others helping him out.

LeBron James defends ‘disrespected’ Devin Booker over All-Star snub

Devin Booker

LeBron James defended Devin Booker in a tweet sent on Tuesday after the reserves for the All-Star Game were announced.

Booker was among the top snubs in the Western Conference. James called Booker the “most disrespected player” in the NBA.

The funny thing about saying players were snubbed from the All-Star team is that you should also have to say who should be removed from the team. So if James thinks Booker was “disrespected,” he should also tell us who should be replaced. But that’s the thing — he and others love to complain, but they don’t provide solutions.

Does James think Booker deserved it over Phoenix Suns teammate Chris Paul, who is also James’ buddy? How about over Anthony Davis, James’ Lakers teammate? Give us a name, James, or keep it to yourself.

Of course, Davis will likely miss the game due to injury, so Booker will probably be included anyway.

Mark Cuban denies that Kristaps Porzingis is on trade block

Mark Cuban

Kristaps Porzingis is staying put in Dallas if you want to take Mark Cuban’s word for it.

The Dallas Mavericks owner Cuban denied the rumors that emerged this week suggesting that the team has gauged the trade market for Porzingis.

“It’s not accurate,” said Cuban, per Brad Townsend of the Dallas Morning News. “We have not discussed him in a trade at all. Has not happened.”

The 25-year-old Porzingis has not quite looked like himself this season since returning from meniscus surgery. His surface numbers (20.5 points and 8.2 rebounds per game) seem strong. But Porzingis is playing extremely poorly on the defensive end and has yet to re-establish himself as a reliable No. 2 option behind Luka Doncic. Dallas is also under .500 (14-15) on the year.

The trade rumors about Porzingis did seem to be pretty believable. But if anything, the Mavs might be better off waiting until Porzingis brings his trade value back up before considering such a dramatic move.

D’Angelo Russell has strained relationship with fired coach Ryan Saunders?

D'Angelo Russell

Ryan Saunders became the first NBA head coach to be fired this season, and some friction with one of his star players may have been partly to blame.

Jon Krawczynski of The Athletic reported this week that the fit between the ex-Minnesota Timberwolves coach and guard D’Angelo Russell appeared to strain as the season went along. Krawczynski adds that Russell would jaw at Saunders during some games.

The NBA-worst Wolves fired Saunders, who had gone 43-94 (.314) in three seasons with the team, over the weekend. Toronto Raptors assistant Chris Finch is set to become their new coach. He will try to better navigate a roster that has been ravaged by both injuries and COVID cases this season.

Russell himself is sidelined with a knee injury and has appeared in just 20 games so far this year. If his relationship with Saunders was indeed strained, it would not be the first time that Russell clashed with a head coach.

Pau Gasol announces he has signed with Barcelona

Pau Gasol

Pau Gasol has signed a contract to resume his professional basketball career, but we won’t be seeing him back in the NBA this season.

Gasol announced on Tuesday that he has signed with FC Barcelona for the remainder of the season. The 40-year-old said he is happy to be returning to his home country of Spain to play for “the club where I began.”

Gasol played for Barcelona from 1998-2001 before he was selected third overall in the 2001 NBA Draft. He recently denied that he was planning to sign with Barcelona, but that was likely because negotiations were still ongoing.

Reports about Gasol signing with Barcelona have been around since the summer. Returning to Spain may not have been his first choice, however, as it seemed like Gasol wanted to join his brother Marc on the Los Angeles Lakers.

Pau last played in the NBA in the 2018-2019 season. A stress fracture in his left foot has kept him out since May 2019.

Photo: Patrickpedia/Wikimedia via CC-BY-SA 4.0