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Wednesday, July 15, 2020

Basketball

Report: ESPN suspends Adrian Wojnarowski for profane email to Missouri senator

Adrian Wojnarowski

ESPN has suspended NBA reporter Adrian Wojnarowski for sending a profane email to a United States senator, according to a report.

On Friday, Senator Josh Hawley (R-Mo.) sent a press release blasting the NBA for its limited selection of pre-approved messages they would allow league players to wear on the back of their jerseys during the restart in Orlando. Hawley’s letter, which was directed at NBA Commissioner Adam Silver, noted that the messages did not give players the option to support the military, law enforcement, or condemn the Chinese Communist Party.

Hawley’s letter was sent out as a press release via email, and Wojnarowski was one of the recipients. The noted NBA reporter responded to the email with two words: “F— you“.

Wojnarowski shared a formal apology statement not long after Hawley publicized the profane email response. Woj called his actions “disrespectful” and a “regrettable mistake”.

ESPN also addressed the situation.

“This is completely unacceptable behavior and we do not condone it. It is inexcusable for anyone working for ESPN to respond in the way Adrian did to Senator Hawley. We are addressing it directly with Adrian and specifics of those conversations will remain internal.”

Outkick’s Ryan Glasspiegel reported on Saturday night that Woj has been suspended by ESPN.

Wojnarowski is the preeminent NBA reporter in the country and has been with ESPN for just over three years after previously working for Yahoo.

Zion Williamson spent quarantine relearning fundamentals

Zion Williamson

Zion Williamson apparently spent the quarantine period taking a page out of the book of another former No. 1 overall pick in Tim Duncan.

The New Orleans Pelicans rookie told reporters this week that he relearned his fundamentals during the time off, adding that he was working with his stepfather, Lee Anderson, when he wasn’t rehabbing with team staffers.

“It just felt like I was 5 years old again,” he said, per ESPN’s Andrew Lopez. “Just went back to square one, tried to get my body where it needs to be, get my fundamentals back to square one and start from there. So yeah, it was just like starting over at 5 again. It was a great process to learn it all over.”

Pelicans coach Alvin Gentry also sounded pleased about Williamson’s work.

“His stepfather did a fantastic job of working him out every day, of making him be in good conditioning when we got him back,” said Gentry. “He’s made a lot of strides in his shooting, I think. Although we weren’t together, he did a lot to improve his game.”

Williamson, who just turned 20, ascended to stardom primarily because of his elite physical profile and athleticism. He averaged 23.6 points and 6.8 rebounds per game in 19 appearances before the season was suspended.

The ex-Duke star will be a featured attraction when play resumes in Orlando, and others on the team also sound very excited to see what he has to offer.

Russell Westbrook offended by low Bleacher Report ranking

Russell Westbrook

Russell Westbrook has averaged a triple-double in three of the last four NBA seasons, but that was clearly not enough for the good folks at Bleacher Report.

The sports site released a piece on Saturday ranking the top 100 players in the league from the 2019-20 NBA season. In it, Westbrook, the Houston Rockets guard, was ranked No. 22. Some point guards that ranked ahead of Westbrook were Kyrie Irving, Kyle Lowry, and Chris Paul. Khris Middleton and Jayson Tatum also controversially came in at No. 10 and No. 11, respectively.

In an Instagram comment, Westbrook appeared offended by his low ranking and responded by laughing hysterically. Take a look:

Westbrook’s assist and rebound stats have been down slightly during his first season with the Rockets. But he has developed a more efficient style (posting a career-high 47.4 percent shooting) while still ranking seventh in the league with 27.5 points per game. Westbrook is also shooting fewer threes and is helping cultivate winning basketball next to James Harden.

Many around the NBA think that the former MVP Westbrook is disrespected, and this low ranking will certainly provide further fuel for that narrative.

Kawhi Leonard joins Clippers in Orlando after delay

Kawhi Leonard

Kawhi Leonard has joined his Los Angeles Clippers in Orlando for the NBA’s resumed season, but he is currently going through a quarantine period.

The Clippers traveled to Orlando on Wednesday to begin their quarantine period before being cleared to live the bubble life created in Disney World. Leonard was not part of that trip due to a family matter, according to Yahoo’s Chris Haynes.

Clippers coach Doc Rivers shared on Saturday that Leonard is now with the team.

In addition to Leonard, JaMychal Green traveled separately due to a family matter and reportedly is set to join the Clippers on Sunday.

The Clippers enter the resumed season with a 44-20 record, which has them second in the West. They are expected to be among the contenders for the championship. Leonard was last year’s NBA Finals MVP with Toronto and is looking to win a championship with a third NBA team.

PJ Tucker brought a big screen TV and 60 pairs of shoes to Orlando bubble

NBA players are bringing a lot of personal belongings with them for their extended bubble stay in Orlando, but P.J. Tucker has really gone all out.

Tucker, a noted sneakerhead, brought over 60 pairs of shoes with him to Orlando, and intends to use his downtime to shop for more on eBay, according to Chris Haynes of Yahoo Sports.

That’s not all. On Saturday, Tucker said he had an 85-inch TV delivered to his hotel room to make him feel more at home.

It’s safe to say Tucker will be living large as long as the Houston Rockets are in Orlando. And we thought the portable sauna was going above and beyond.

Clippers’ Lou Williams shares why he decided to participate in NBA restart

Lou Williams

Lou Williams was one of a number of players who said they were unsure about playing in the NBA restart over concerns that it would distract from the Black Lives Matter movement. Williams ultimately joined the Los Angeles Clippers in Orlando, and explained why on Saturday.

Williams said the Clippers had chosen to decide as a team whether to play or not, and ultimately voted to go to Orlando. Williams chose to go along with the group decision, adding that it was either “everybody or nobody.”

Williams gave hints that he was considering sitting out, but the Clippers have taken an interesting approach here. It would have been quite the story if one of the leading title contenders opted as a team not to play, but it hasn’t come to that.

A three-time Sixth Man of the Year recipient, Williams has been his typical strong self primarily coming off the bench this season. The 33-year-old is averaging 18.7 points and 5.7 assists per game, making him a key part of the Clippers’ championship hopes.

Clippers fans, show everyone who runs Los Angeles with this great “We Run LA” shirt. It makes a perfect gift for you or a friend – you can buy it here:

Warriors plan to start managing Stephen Curry’s minutes next season

Stephen Curry

Stephen Curry will be entering Year 12 in the NBA come next season, and the Golden State Warriors would like to adopt a more conservative approach with him moving forward.

Speaking this week on the “Hoops, Adjacent” podcast with The Athletic’s David Aldridge, Warriors head coach Steve Kerr indicated that the team is going to start managing Curry’s minutes.

“Now, he’s at the point where he’s been at the peak of his powers for the last couple of years,” Kerr said. “If anything, it’s on us to try to begin to manage his minutes. We’ve always been really blessed. We’ve been able to do that because of the talent on our team. We’ve never really run Steph into the ground. We don’t have as much depth as we once did. It’s on us as a coaching staff to make sure we get him his rest every night, and we’re not wearing him out.”

Curry, who will be 33 next season, has averaged 34.3 minutes a game for his career. A broken left hand derailed the two-time MVP’s 2019-20 season after just five games though, forcing the Warriors to consider his long-term health.

Some close to Curry think that he might even be able to play into his 40s, but for that to even stand a chance of happening, the Warriors will indeed have to start gradually easing his load. It sounds like that process could begin the next time that we see Curry in action.