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WNBA fines teams, players for black warmup shirts

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NBA commissioner Adam Silver often gets caught between his personal progressiveness and the fact he’s running a multi-billion-dollar business.

My favorite example: When asked about players wearing “I Can’t Breathe” shirts a couple years ago, Silver always started by enthusiastically praising them speaking their minds then added a caveat. Seemingly sighing, Silver noted he preferred the players follow the league’s on-court dress code.

I found it all quite charming.

But NBA players made their point then quit wearing the shirts. In the WNBA, where the Minnesota Lynx wore anti-violence shirts that caused off-duty police to walk off their security jobs, it has been a prolonged protest.

And now, that league has reached a point Silver seemingly dreaded the NBA reaching.

Doug Feinberg of the Associated Press:

The WNBA has fined the New York Liberty, Phoenix Mercury and Indiana Fever and their players for wearing black warm up shirts in the wake of recent shootings by and against police officers.

All three teams were fined $5,000 and each player was fined $500.

The Liberty have worn the plain black shirts four times, including Wednesday morning against Washington. The Mercury and Fever wore them Tuesday night. While the shirts were the Adidas brand – the official outfitter of the league – WNBA rules state that uniforms may not be altered in any way.

“We are proud of WNBA players’ engagement and passionate advocacy for non-violent solutions to difficult social issues but expect them to comply with the league’s uniform guidelines,” WNBA President Lisa Borders said in a statement provided to The Associated Press on Wednesday night.

The league sent out a memo earlier this week to the teams reminding them of the uniform policy.

The NBA and WNBA are businesses — not civil-rights organizations. I’m OK with the leagues acting like the businesses they are, except the way they also hold themselves up as moral leaders first.

The WNBA’s president tries to have it both ways, and it clearly doesn’t work. Phoenix Mercury’s Mistie Bass sees right through it:

The WNBA surely didn’t want to reach this point — fining players for social activism to protect a brand. The NBA doesn’t, either.

It’s OK for players to wear a protest shirt once. Multiple times and after the league sent a memo? That’s the breaking point set by the NBA’s sister league. We’ll see whether any NBA players similarly challenge authority now that they know the line.

Trae Young waved “game over,” after Heat comeback win Jimmy Butler mocked him

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yIn the NBA, a minute can be an eternity.

Trae Young didn’t think so, he thought Atlanta was going to get the upset after his assist to Alex Len for a dunk put the Hawks up 6 with less than a minute to go in the game.

Did we mention a minute can be an eternity in the NBA? Miami came back and a Jimmy Butler three sent the game to overtime. Butler finished the game with a triple-double of 20 points, 18 rebounds, and 10 assists.

Miami owned the overtime and went on to win 135-121.

Butler didn’t miss the chance to mock Young on Instagram

It was a big night for the Heat’s young core. Bam Adebayo had a triple-double of 30 points, 11 rebounds and 11 assists, Kendrick Nunn led Miami with 36 points, and Duncan Robinson drained 10 threes.

Raptors drop Kawhi Leonard tribute video

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Wednesday night, Kawhi Leonard returns to Toronto for the first time since leaving the team last summer to head to Los Angeles.

Unlike most returns in recent years, there will not be boos — Toronto will welcome Leonard back with open arms. He won them a ring, there are no hard feelings.

The Raptors already dropped a tribute video on Twitter.

Well done, Raptors.

It’s going to be fun to see his return, which will be a celebration — and should be a good game.

Ja Morant admits he was thinking about cameras on baseline during return to court

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Monday night, Grizzlies star rookie Ja Morant returned to the court after missing four games with what was officially called “back spasms,” but in reality was him recovering from his back hitting a courtside cameraman after a fall.

Morant scored 26 to lead the Warriors to a win in Golden State, but he admitted to Yahoo Sports’ Chris Haynes that when he drove the lane and went up he thought about his landing spot and those cameramen.

Following the contest, Morant acknowledged that instead of solely focusing on being the best version of himself, he occasionally found himself thinking about the proximity of camera operators while driving in the paint.

“It’s tough because I know I just have to do more controlled jumps now,” Morant told Yahoo Sports. “But at the same time, I’m just trying not to think about it and still try to play my game. It’s just a tough situation all the way around, honestly….

“I just think player safety should be first and foremost. How I play and where I end up, [cameramen] are right there. Personally, I like to attack the rack, and I feel like that injury came from me attacking the rack and it was just nowhere to land for me.”

Morant echoes the concern of a lot of players and coaches.

The NBA is aware of the issue, back in 2014 they reduced the number of cameramen on the baseline by half (down to 10 per side) and created a four-foot-wide “runway” on either side of the stanchion that players can run up if they have a full head of steam.

That’s not close to eliminating the problem. The NBA is not going to remove those cameras — the NBA is in the entertainment business, and those cameras provide some of the best video angles and still shots to show fans — but expect it to take another look and review its process here.

What we don’t want to happen is the game loses a promising young player like Morant for a lot more than four games after a run-in with a cameraman.

Bulls’ Otto Porter out at least one more month with fractured foot

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The Chicago Bulls miss Otto Porter. He was a starter on the wing for nine games, scoring 11.2 points per game, hitting 40 percent of his threes, playing solid defense, and the Bulls offense was 8.3 points per 100 possessions better on offense when he was on the court. He’s a steadying influence as a veteran.

However, he has been out the last 16 games with a foot injury, and he’s going to miss at least another month, the Bulls announced Tuesday. The Bulls said Porter saw a specialist and he “confirmed the bone injury and healing response in Porter’s left foot consistent with a small fracture that has become more clearly defined with repeated imaging over the last five weeks.”

What that means for Porter is another month in a boot.

Chandler Hutchison‘s bruised shoulder has him in street clothes, too, which means Kris Dunn will remain the starter for now. Denzel Valentine has used a bump in minutes to show some growth in his game, play fairly well, and make a push for even more run of late.

But without Porter, the Bulls are not the same.