Dallas Mavericks owner Mark Cuban is shown on the court before the start of play between the Mavericks and the Miami Heat in Game 3 of the NBA Finals basketball series in Dallas

Mark Cuban expects openly gay NBA player in “3 to 5 years”


How would an openly gay NBA player be received in the NBA?

Mavericks owner Mark Cuban, in an interview with TMZ said he expects it to happen within the next three to five years (via USA Today and SLAM)

“I think it will be more of a media sensation when someone comes out than it will be a player issue.”

That player, when he comes out, is going to have to be willing to be in the spotlight for cultural issues and not just a basketball player. There will be some hate thrown his way from the stands and a few players, but the bigger distraction likely will be interviews before and after every game and a lot of off-the-court demands for time.

As for the locker room reaction, while there may be a few who speak ill, I think the reaction of most players will be that of most people when they learn someone they know is gay — “He’s gay? I had no idea. Cool guy, doesn’t really change what I think of him.” And in this case, if the guy can help a team win on the court the vast majority of players will accept him almost instantly. That said, it will change locker room language, where a gay slur is commonly thrown around as an insult. That is starting to change, the pace would pick up much faster.

Attitudes are changed because some players may not realize they know a gay person and when they find out they do they understand said person is no different than they are in almost every way. They accept them as a player and person. It’s how change is made, not with broad sweeping gestures but one person at a time.

Byron Scott doesn’t care about exhausting Lakers in preseason

Byron Scott
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The Warriors use wearable technology to track players and have rested them when the data revealed fatigue. Gregg Popovich is holding relatively healthy Spurs out of practice. Heck, Popovich doesn’t even send himself to every preseason games.

Meanwhile, with the Lakers…

Lakers coach Byron Scott, via Baxter Holmes of ESPN:

“I don’t necessarily care about tired legs in preseason,” Scott said. “I think everything that we’ve done thus far will pay off at the end of the day. You’ve got some guys that might have tired legs and [are] a little worn out, but all the running as far as getting into that physical condition that we need to get into, I think in December and January, it will pay off.

“So I’m not necessarily worried about guys having tired legs in preseason. They’ll just have to kind of fight through that fatigue part of it. And I think mentally it gets them a little stronger anyway.”

Mike Bresnahan of the Los Angeles Times:

The Lakers coach has a reputation for demanding a lot of running in the preseason. It’s important in his mind because the Lakers will be better conditioned than other teams down the road.

Players, predictably, aren’t as enthused about it.

Bresnahan quotes just two players, Brandon Bass and D'Angelo Russell, and neither expressed much resistance to Scott’s methods. But I trust Bresnahan to read the team’s pulse.

I also think Scott is right: Fighting through fatigue builds mental toughness. But it also makes players tired, and it’s not the only way to instill toughness. The Warriors are tough. The  Spurs are tough. They didn’t have to run their players into the ground to get that way.

Scott loves to project himself as old-school and anti-analytic. Thankfully for the Lakers, his actual methods aren’t as bad as he conveys. For example, he said the Lakers would take an absurdly low 10-15 3-pointers per game last season. In reality, they hoisted nearly 19 per game, 25th in the league. That might not have been enough for that roster, but at least it wasn’t leaps and bounds below the norm.

So, I’m not convinced Scott is pushing the Lakers as hard as he wants everyone to believe. But he’s  clearly giving them a bigger workload than many teams.

If the Lakers are playing relevant games late in the season, this could come back to bite them. On the bright side, they probably won’t have to worry about that problem.

Tony Parker wants to play six more seasons with Spurs

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Tony Parker revealed a plan nearly two years ago to play until he’s 38.

Coming off his worst season since his rookie year, the Spurs point guard is sticking to that goal.

Parker, via Marc J. Spears of Yahoo Sports:

“The Spurs know I want to play until I’m 38,” Parker told Yahoo Sports in a recent phone interview. “That will be 20 seasons for me. That’s my goal. This year is No. 15. And if I’m lucky enough and I’m healthy, hopefully I can play 20 seasons and then I’ll be ready to retire.”

That seems pretty ambitious, no matter how you handle the conflicting math. (Parker is 33. If he plays 20 seasons, he’ll spend most of his final season at age 39 and turn 40 during the playoffs.)

Parker is already showing signs of slippage. Many of his key numbers were down last season, including ESPN’s real-plus minus, where he quietly slipped from 12th to 67th among point guards.

But Gregg Popovich is very liberal with resting his players, and Parker won’t have to carry too much of the load. Tim Duncan and Manu Ginobili will probably retire before Parker, but the Spurs will still have Kawhi Leonard and LaMarcus Aldridge.

I wouldn’t count on it, but it’s possible Parker lasts that long.