Shelly Sterling: NBA is sexist

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Following Donald Sterling’s CNN interview, Shelly Sterling appeared on the Today show with Savannah Guthrie Tuesday. It did not go as poorly as her husband’s interview, but it was certainly not endearing. Let’s go point by point using key excerpts from Scott Stump’s transcription from Today.com:

“I’m very angry. And I’m very hurt. And I even cried listening to that, because I just feel bad,” she told Guthrie in a sit-down that aired Tuesday on TODAY. “And then I feel bad. Why am I the victim when he’s the perpetrator? If somebody killed somebody, does the wife have to stand trial too?”

False equivalency. In the United States, no, collective punishment is not allowed in criminal court.

But Shelly is not standing trial!

The NBA is in the process of removing the owner of one of its teams, and if the league’s interpretation of its rules is correct, it can remove all owners of that team. This is not a court of law. This is a private business exercising its right to operate.

Shelly goes on to discuss Donald’s comments on Magic Johnson (which Adam Silver apologized for on behalf of the NBA).

“I never understood what he was talking about,” Shelly told Guthrie after watching the interview. “And why would he bring Magic Johnson into the issue about what’s happening now? I mean, that’s why I felt pity because he couldn’t get all the dots together. He couldn’t connect the dots.”

“He’s not the man I know, or I knew,” she said. “There’s something wrong. I really think, personally, he has dementia.

“I don’t think it happened overnight. I think it’s been happening, but nobody really knew the reason. I mean, he gets crazy, and yells, and screams, and hollers one moment. The next moment he’ll…talk about something else. I mean it’s like nothing makes sense.”

Guthrie noted that while dementia may make people delusional or nonsensical, it doesn’t necessarily make them say racist things.

“I don’t make excuses for anybody,” she said, admitting that she doesn’t know much about dementia.

Anderson Cooper, who interviewed Donald, said he saw no signs of dementia during their interview. Cooper said Sterling repeatedly referred to previous questions when there were more points he wanted to make before jumping back to the current question. To be fair, Cooper is not trained to diagnose dementia and an hour-or-so-long sample is not necessarily representative.

And Shelly’s answer at least explains how she can both condemn her husband’s statements on the recording and scream he’s not racist.

My question for Shelly, though: When did she first believe Donald had dementia?

Was it before or after he was sued in 2003 for allegedly saying “That’s because of all the blacks in this building, they smell, they’re not clean. And it’s because of all of the Mexicans that just sit around and smoke and drink all day”?

Was it before or after he was sued in 1996 for allegedly ordering one of his employees to find him “someone who will, you know, let me put it in or who [will] suck on it”?

Was it before or after he allegedly said, “I wanna know why you think you can coach these niggers” to Rollie Massimino in 1983?

Sterling believes the NBA’s attempts to push her out amount to sexism.

“I really think so,” she said. “Would an owner’s wife say the same thing, and would the owner be asked to leave the NBA? Or would they just say, ‘Well, she’s only the wife.”’

If an owner’s wife said the same things, of course an owner would not be asked to leave the NBA. But if a woman had controlling interest in a team and her husband said the same things, she would not be asked to leave the NBA.

Is there some institutional sexism occurring because a disproportionate number of NBA owners are men? Perhaps, and that’s worth exploring.

This case gets clouded, though, due the perception Shelly and Donald are working together.

Still, Sterling agrees with the NBA’s decision to force her husband to sell the team.

“I think I agree with what…their decision is,” she said. “I don’t agree what their decision is for me. I wholly feel that I’ve done nothing wrong.”

Well, there are the times you allegedly posed as a health inspector to investigate the race of your husband’s tenants. There is also the time you allegedly called a tenant a “black m—f.”  And the time you allegedly called Latinos “filthy.”

Even the fans and team members, she said, have her back.

“Well, I went to the game about two days ago,” she said. “I was sitting up in the box. All the fans right below me were high-fiving me, saying, ‘Go girl. Don’t give up.’ I talked to some of the players. They hugged me.”

Shelly’s supporters included Doc Rivers, and then he learned more about her. If these high-fiving fans and hugging players – should they actually exist – learn more, they might change their tune, too.

James Harden on recruiting Chris Paul from LA: “He didn’t seem happy”

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One of the most interesting storylines of the first month of this upcoming NBA season will be the Houston Rockets.

The team has paired MVP candidate James Harden with one of the greatest point guards of all time in Chris Paul, but it remains to be seen whether the two will be able to work together with the kind of efficiency that Mike D’Antoni’s team had in 2016-17.

Harden has been the subject of some chatter already this offseason after a photo of him surfaced on Instagram. In it, Harden looked to have added a significant portion of muscle this summer, which may help him as he moves back to a more off-ball style of play with Paul in the fold.

Harden was also the subject of significant scrutiny at the end of last season, where he failed in the playoffs in spectacular fashion against the San Antonio Spurs.

In a recent interview with Sam Amick of USA Today, Harden said his newfound weight gain has been part of his plan to combat late-season fatigue. Harden has also introduced yoga and pilates into his workout routine.

Perhaps more interesting information from Harden’s interview with Amick revealed just how much impact he had recruiting Chris Paul in the trade from Los Angeles Clippers, and Paul’s attitude at the end of the season toward his former team.

Via USA Today:

Harden, who signed a four-year extension this summer and will earn a combined $228 million by the end of the 2022-23 season, had everything to do with the move.

“I just knew that in the summertime obviously (Paul) was a free agent, and I wanted to see where his head was,” Harden said of Paul, who will now be a free agent next summer. “He didn’t seem happy, so after that we just took it from there.

“Obviously Golden State has been in the Finals and won two out of three, so that’s what everybody is trying to build up against. But we’re right there. We’re right there. Obviously, we have a lot of work to do, but it definitely puts us in a better chance.”

It certainly makes sense that after years of perpetual playoff failure by the Clippers that Paul would want to move on. Harden and CP3 seem to enjoy each other at the moment, and a pairing does seem to make sense on paper. We will see how that plays out over the course of next season.

Giannis Antetokounmpo announces he will not play for Greece in Eurobasket

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Giannis Antetokounmpo said had big plans to play for the Greek national team this summer, taking his country back to the top of the European ladder at EuroBasket (they had won the tournament a dozen years ago).

Instead, a sore knee will keep the Greek Freak out of EuroBasket. He made the announcement on his Facebook page.

Antetokounmpo had missed all but one of Greece’s early EuroBasket tune-ups due to a sore knee. That, understandably, concerned the Bucks, especially with his four-year, $100 million contract extension about to kick in next season.

Antetokounmpo is in China promoting shoes, but said he on Facebook he took a physical while there and was not able to complete the exercises due to pain.

“It is by far the biggest disappointment in my career. I must deal with the problem,” Antetokounmpo said in the Facebook post (written in Greek).

Within hours of the post going up, the Greek basketball federation released a statement slamming the Bucks and Antetokounmpo, saying they had done an MRI of his knee and found no damage.

“The simultaneous report by the Milwaukee Bucks and Giannis Antetokounmpo himself, by phone and social media from faraway China, and not by the appropriate official manner, of his inability to join the national men’s team saddens us … but is not surprising… A series of indications … had convinced us of the existence of an organized and well-staged plan by (the Bucks), with the full knowledge if not encouragement of the NBA that put the athlete on the spot and forced him to announce today that he is no longer part of the men’s national team.”

Great, just what the world needs, another conspiracy theory.

While NBA teams generally are not huge fans of their stars playing in national team tournaments (due to the injury risk), teams cannot stop a healthy player from playing. Antetokounmpo said this was his decision because he is in pain and has to think about the upcoming NBA season.

Whatever the Greek Federation believes internally, slamming the player and his team publicly like this is one good way to make sure he will not want to play for them in the future. He’s got knee pain, they are saying “you’re fine, walk it off, ” and that must have Antetokounmpo and the people around him wondering if the Greek Federation has his best interests — or theirs — at heart.

Akron store already selling “Stay Home 23” shirts, hats as LeBron decision looms

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We’ve seen this movie before.

There is all sorts of buzz around the league that LeBron James has one foot out the door in Cleveland. While people around LeBron denied he the rumor he is “100 percent” leaving, good luck finding any league source who thinks he is staying put next summer. Nothing is set in stone, his options — including staying — remain open, but we’ve all been down this road before.

The hometown fans are going to do their part to urge LeBron to stay.

Fan sentiment has some pull with LeBron (he came back to win the city a title). However, what matters more is a sense of a plan to keep the Cavaliers as title contenders for the coming years — and that is more than just Dan Gilbert paying the tax. The Cavs did nothing this summer that got them closer to beating Golden State, and while they swung for the fences with Paul George, what they really needed was wing defenders and athletes, and they didn’t get those either. Luc Mbah a Moute signed a one-year deal for the minimum somewhere else. Instead, Cleveland overpaid Kyle Korver.

Despite all that, the Cavs remain the team to beat in the East. If Cleveland gets to the Finals — LeBron’s eighth in a row — and they win or make it close, he may see staying as his best option. A season can be a lifetime in the NBA in terms of shifting attitudes. Still, I wouldn’t bet the rent on it.

Marshall Plumlee gets camp invite, partially guaranteed contract from Clippers

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The Los Angeles Clippers have 14 fully guaranteed contracts on their roster, plus a partial guarantee for DeAndre Liggins (who likely is on the roster opening day). They also are pretty much set at center with DeAndre Jordan and Willie Reed (plus when they go small they can play Blake Griffin there, something I wish they’d do a little more).

That said, Doc Rivers — just a coach now — needs bodies for camp, so in comes former Duke star and Knick Marshall Plumlee, reports Adrian Wojnarowski of ESPN.

Plumlee played in 21 games for the Knicks last season, logging a total of 190 minutes. He bounced between New York and the D-League Westchester Knicks, when down he averaged 12.3 points and 9.8 rebounds a game.

He’s not making the Clippers’ squad (barring injury), but he could show well and get noticed by other teams. Over the course of a season, there will be a need for bigs as guys go down injured, Plumlee is getting a chance to show how his game has developed. And he makes some money in the process.