Andre Iguodala: ‘Wrong time to express myself’

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So much of the response to Andre Iguodala‘s racially loaded comments has focused on relatively superficial issues: his use of profanity, whether he’s frustrated with the Warriors’ recent losing, how Steve Kerr reacted.

A reminder what Iguodala said about Golden State’s loss to the Timberwolves and Kerr’s plan to rest key players against the Spurs the following night, via  Chris Haynes of ESPN and Anthony Slater of The Mercury News:

“We gotta score more than the other team,” Iguodala told reporters, after being asked what led to their second consecutive loss. “Yep, they want dumb n—as, so I’m going to give y’all a dumb n—a.”

What would dumb [n-word] say? Just play harder. Figure it out. Change gonna come. Ain’t that what we should say? Change gonna come.

Do what master say.

Yesterday, Iguodala addressed those comments and hinted at an underlying issue.

Iguodala, via Monte Poole of CSN Bay Area:

“It probably was the wrong time to express myself,” Iguodala said after practice. “But we all have our own opinions. We all have our own feelings. I feel like we are entitled to them. We try to pick and choose the time to do it, and who we choose to share it with, because some may not understand where I’m coming from, which is to be expected.

“The only reason I feel like it’s the wrong time is because it puts my team in that situation and my coaching staff in that situation. I have a great relationship with Steve Kerr, and he knows that.”

“I wish I wouldn’t have put my teammates and the organization in that situation,” Iguodala said. “But it doesn’t change how I feel about certain situations. You can’t give certain people power, and I gave certain people power. Live and learn from the situation, and move forward.”

Iguodala also made a point directly to the media:

I like to play mind games with you guys, but it still doesn’t take away from how someone makes you feel. A lot of guys may feel a certain way, but they don’t know how to express it. But I may have chosen the wrong way to express it. But that’s my personal way of getting back at you guys a little bit.

Iguodala did put Kerr in a potentially awkward position with his “master” remarks. That might not have been Iguodala’s intent, but the outcome was foreseeable.

But I think there’s valid media criticism behind Iguodala’s protest. I don’t know that, because he was purposefully vague and insisted he was making an inside joke. But there’s a dynamic between the largely white media and mostly black players that is worth addressing. The media sometimes asks questions after losses setting up players to give simple-sounding answers. The media does hold power to shape how players are perceived. The media doesn’t always treat players fairly. I have no problem with anyone raising questions about the entire process.

That said, Iguodala should know that when he addresses the media – especially on camera – he isn’t just speaking with the reporters in front of him. He’s talking to the entire world, and his comments will be relayed without the proper context always attached. (Ironically, that’s an element of the power dynamic I think Iguodala is addressing.) The reporters are just a conduit to the general public.

Iguodala often seems like he’s not bothered by the chaos he causes with mysterious statements and vague tweets, and that’s fine. I’ve always found that to be an implicit protest of how athletes’ words are consumed, which is why I see Friday’s interview as just fitting into his larger objective. But this case spun out of control, because many assumed he was criticizing Kerr.

As much as he might hope the narrative-setting worked differently, Iguodala was at the whim of the critics and how they’d perceive and disseminate his words.

I’m not sure whether this backfired on Iguodala or he just proved to himself how right he is.

Report: Pacers bring back Lance Stephenson in time for playoffs; deal for three-years, $12 million

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The Indiana Pacers need healthy bodies for their playoff run, and they had three rotation guys injured between Al Jefferson, Glenn Robinson III, and Rodney Stuckey. Wednesday, the Pacers waived Stuckey to create an open roster spot to bring in some help (they were not going to pick up his option for next season anyway).

Who are they bringing in? The prodigal son Lance Stephenson returns, according to Adrian Wojnarowski of Yahoo Sports.

The surprising part of the deal was the security Stephenson got, as first reported by Adam Zagoria at his blog — three years, $12 million, with a player option for the final year. (This has since been confirmed by other sources.) Other teams were looking at giving Stephenson a 10-day contract, the length of the Pacers’ offer is a surprise.

Stephenson played in six games for Minnesota recently, averaging 3.5 points per game off the bench, but an ankle sprain kept the Timberwolves from really having to decide whether to keep him for the season. Stephenson knows how to create shots for himself and can be a good defender when focused, something we saw with the Pelicans at the start of this season — he became a key part of their rotation averaging 9.7 points and 4.8 assists per game until he tore his groin.

It’s a little strange to see him back in Pacers colors. It will be particularly strange if the Pacers stay in the seven seed and the Cavaliers remain the two-seed setting up a first-round playoff series. Because I don’t think any of us need to see this again.

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Tuesday’s win gives Wizards first division crown since 1979

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Divisions are almost forgotten in the NBA. They exist still as quaint reminders of days gone by, but they don’t matter other than as a potential tie breaker with a non-division-winning team. Winning your division doesn’t even guarantee a team a playoff spot anymore.

Yet, the last time Washington had won a division title they were in the Atlantic division and when you turned on the radio you were likely to hear that new hit Heart Of Glass by Blondie. It was 1979.

That was until Tuesday when John Wall led a 13-point comeback in the fourth quarter against the Lakers to get the Wizards the win and the SouthEast division title.

According to CBSSports.com, that 38-year division title drought was longer than any team in any major U.S. professional sports — NHL, NFL, and MLB.

Congrats to the Wizards. They also have locked up home court in the first round, and they are currently the No. 3 seed in the playoffs (who they face in the first round is up in the air still as only three games separate seeds five through nine).

With Scott Brooks at the helm this feels like a far more dangerous — and healthy — team heading into the postseason. Wizards fans have waited a lot time for a team like this.

Report: Pacers waive Rodney Stuckey, will likely add player before playoffs

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Rodney Stuckey was having a down year for the Pacers when he was healthy, averaging 7.2 points and 2.2 assists per game, with a well below average 48.3 true shooting percentage. Stuckey also was not healthy often, playing in just 39 games.

The Pacers are banged up — Glenn Robinson III and Al Jefferson are hurt — and need a healthy body on the roster for the playoffs, plus they weren’t going to pick up Stuckey’s $7 million option for next season anyway, so they chose to wave him Wednesday, reports Shams Charania of The Vertical on Yahoo Sports.

The question now is who the Pacers bring in to fill that spot. With Jefferson down, do they lean on someone they know in Tyler Hansbrough? Is there someone out of the D-League or free agent pool that intrigues them?

The Pacers need to do something to start winning some games and making Paul George happy.

Paul George on Pacers after loss: “No sense of urgency, no winning pride”

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Indiana still has a 75 percent chance of making the playoffs (according to fivethirtyeight.com), they are two games clear of the nine seed with seven games to play.

But they fell to that seventh seed with a loss to Minnesota on Tuesday night, an evening that Atlanta, Milwaukee, and Miami all won. Chicago is the nine seed right now, lurking with its soft schedule, and looking for another team to slip up, and in a key game Indiana did.

The Pacers lost to the Minnesota Timberwolves Tuesday night despite being at home and having a nine-point lead midway through the fourth quarter. Indy had no answer for Karl-Anthony Towns, who dropped 37. Paul George had 37 points as well, and afterwards pissed and frustrated would be good words to describe his mood. Here’s his quote, via Nate Taylor at the Indy Star.

“We should have a professional approach, man, and defend our home court, especially to a team that’s not even in the playoffs,” George said of losing to the Timberwolves (29-44). “That’s what it comes down to. As a team, we’ve got to have a grit and we’ve got to own up, man up….

“There’s no urgency, no sense of urgency, no winning pride,” he said. “This locker room is just not pissed off enough.”

If you don’t have urgency playing for your playoff lives with seven games left in the season, when will you have it?

Yes, this was a frustrated George venting after a loss. However, it also points again to the challenges Larry Bird and the Pacer front office have this summer — George wants to win, wants to play for a contender. Or if not that, maybe in his hometown. If George doesn’t make an All-NBA team (he likely just misses out, forward is a stacked position in the league right now) and the Pacers can’t offer him a “designated player” max, Indiana needs to put a contender around him, or consider trading him so they don’t lose him for nothing in a year. Both of those options present challenges come July.

In the short term, the Pacers need to make the playoffs. Even if they do, play like this against the Cavaliers (their current first-round matchup) or any of the other top-four teams in the East and Indy’s stay in the postseason will be short and uneventful.