Chris Bosh says if NBA wants to ban slurs on court it has to ban them all

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I’m not sure how you can really regulate “smack talk” on basketball court or a football field or any other sporting venue. It’s not that lines of basic human decency are not crossed verbally all the time — they are — and when that happens there should be something for referees to fall back on as a tool/penalty. However, once you ask the referees to step in on this issue it creates a new web of enforcement problems — where is the line drawn and how can referees in a loud stadium always be sure what they thought they heard was actually said?

The NFL is discussing imposing a new 15-yard penalty for racial slurs uttered on the field. It may not be approved in that form — PFT’s Michael David Smith suggested to me the NFL might just expand the existing taunting rules and have officials watch for flagrant cases — but it has certainly created conversation around the issue.

Should the NBA follow down the NFL’s path?

Miami’s Chris Bosh said you can’t just ban “the N-word” or one kind of slur, you need to ban them all. He spoke with the Palm Beach Post about it.

“I’m OK with penalties, but then it gets tricky,” he said. “What if I say this? There’s a bunch of things I could say and not get a penalty. If you’re gonna bring one thing in, you gotta put them all in the hat. That’ll work out a lot better.”

Would it really work out better? Should lawyers in suits in the Manhattan league offices be deciding what can and can’t be said on a court?

Shane Battier likes the general idea of assessing a penalty for slurs, but understands it is in the application of the law things get tricky.

“The arena of professional sports is highly, highly, highly emotional,” he said. There are a lot of things I’m ashamed I said, but I probably can’t say them in this interview. At the same time, we are a league that is in the public view and we sell ourselves as a family entertainment business. There are a lot of kids, and whether we like it or not, we are role models for millions of kids out there. To at least address the issue is responsible by the league….

“All of the sudden you’re asking our referees to be grammar judges when reffing an NBA basketball game is hard enough,” he said. “Ask any of them.”

Well, if referees handed out foul shots for incorrect grammar on the court NBA games would be six hours long. They could then come in the media work room and call fouls on a few of us, too.

In an image-conscious league you can bet this is something that will be discussed at the NBA offices. Compared to a huge NFL field, the NBA court is small and some fans sit courtside — pretty much everything said out there can be heard. Or picked up by courtside microphones. Maybe it’s something the league should ask its referees to look at.

But you can be sure the referees don’t want to wade into that water. They have enough on their plate.

PBT Extra: Can Toronto threaten Cleveland, LeBron James in second round?

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There are a few reasons to think the Toronto Raptors can push and maybe even upset the Cleveland Cavaliers in their second round playoff series that starts Monday. For one, they went six games last playoffs and this is a deeper, more versatile Raptors team with Serge Ibaka as the power forward/center, P.J. Tucker coming off the bench, and the emergence of guys like Norman Powell. The Raptors have a great backcourt in Kyle Lowry and DeMar DeRozan. And, the Cavaliers were not a focused or good defensive team in the first round.

On the other side of the ledger, the Cavaliers have LeBron James.

I break down this series in the latest PBT Extra.

Three things to watch: Boston Celtics vs. Washington Wizards

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1. How much will these teams’ disdain for each other color the series?

Back in January, the Wizards wore all black for a figurative funeral while arriving for a game against the Celtics then buried Boston in a 123-108 win.

But the Celtics are still alive and ready for the next stage in a rivalry that has included:

Both teams appear primed for more hijinks. The Wizards taunted the Hawks throughout their first-round series, and Boston crossed the line with the Bulls.

2. Which team is actually better?

The Wizards outpaced the Celtics in my adjusted-for-playoff-rotation rankings before the postseason began. But getting a clear picture of who’s in the teams’ playoff rotations and counting the first round turns the tables.

Here’s both teams’ offensive, defensive and net ratings from the regular season to counting only lineups (regular season and first round) comprised of five players projected to be in the teams’ rotation this series:

1. Boston Celtics

  • Offensive rating: 112.4 to 116.2
  • Defensive rating: 109.8 to 110.4
  • Net rating: +2.6 to +5.8

4. Washington Wizards

  • Offensive rating: 111.7 to 115.6
  • Defensive rating:  110.0 to 110.5
  • Net rating: +1.7 to +5.1

Even with the flaws in these numbers – small sample sizes and no control for competition – the question of which team will put a better team on the floor in this series isn’t everything. Boston has home-court advantage, and that matters.

The complete updated playoff-rotation-adjusted ratings will be released Monday, after the first round ends.

3. How will the MVP-vote-getting point guards match up?

Both the Celtics and Wizards are reasonably deep, but good luck keeping your eyes off their star point guards. Isaiah Thomas and John Wall both received fifth-place MVP votes, tributes to their importance to their teams.

Thomas is Boston’s lone reliable scorer, and that brings a heavy fourth-quarter burden – which he has answered all year. Even when opponents know he’ll get the ball, they haven’t stopped him. Wall also drives Washington’s offense, though he does it with a more balanced passing and scoring attack throughout the game.

But Wall’s primary argument for superiority over other big-name point guards – including Thomas – is his defense. The 6-foot-4 Wall will have an opportunity to show that against the 5-foot-9 Thomas. Likewise, Thomas has a chance to pester Wall enough to show the defensive gap isn’t too wide.

Warriors hope to get Shaun Livingston, Matt Barnes back for second round

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OAKLAND, Calif. (AP) — The Golden State Warriors hope to get injured reserves Shaun Livingston and Matt Barnes back from injuries for the second round of the playoffs after getting more than a week off between series.

The Warriors said Saturday that Barnes has been upgraded to probable for Tuesday night’s Game 1 and Livingston remains questionable but is hopeful he will be ready to return. Star forward Kevin Durant is expected to be a full go after missing two games and being limited to 20 minutes in Game 4 last round because of a strained left calf.

Barnes has been sidelined since April 8, while Livingston sprained a finger on his right hand in Game 1 of the first-round against Portland.

Golden State begins the second round at home on Tuesday night against the winner of Sunday’s Game 7 between the Los Angeles Clippers and Utah Jazz. The Warriors have been off since sweeping the Trail Blazers last Monday, giving them more than a week between games.

“I’m trying to make sure I rest it as much as I possibly can, because when I do come back I plan on staying all the way back,” Livingston said Saturday. “Hopefully it will be ready for Tuesday.”

After taking Tuesday and Thursday off following their first-round sweep, the Warriors practiced for a second straight day Saturday. They plan to practice again on Sunday and then again Monday once they know their second-round opponent.

There is no update on the status of coach Steve Kerr, who missed the final two games of the first round because of complications from two back surgeries. Kerr talks daily with interim coach Mike Brown and took part in coaching meetings Friday but was not at practice on Saturday.

PBT Extra: Rockets vs. Spurs far more than Kawhi Leonard vs. James Harden

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Kawhi Leonard vs. James Harden. Two MVP candidates matching up in the second round of the NBA playoffs.

However, the San Antonio Spurs vs. Houston Rockets is much more than that.

It’s a battle of pace. It’s a chess match between two of the best coaches in the game. It’s about which team’s role players are going to step up.

I talk about all of that in this latest PBT Extra. Plus, of course, when Leonard will guard Harden.