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: Pelicans picked up Alvin Gentry’s option for next season before sweep

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Last summer the buzz was all over the league: Pelicans GM Dell Demps and coach Alvin Gentry were given a “playoffs or bust” mandate by management. If the Pelicans were not in the postseason — and just barely getting in and then blown out in the first round might be good enough — there was going to be a housecleaning.

The Pelicans made the playoffs as the six seed with 48 wins despite losing DeMarcus Cousins to a torn Achilles midway through the season.

That alone was good enough to get Gentry another season in New Orleans, reports Adrian Wojnarowski of ESPN.

As noted, this happened before the Pelicans swept the Trail Blazers out of the first round and into a summer of re-evaluation. This option season is the last of Gentry’s original deal with the Pelicans.

Gentry has the Pelicans playing fast, using the elite defense of Anthony Davis and Jrue Holiday to get stops, and right now Davis is leading an offense that is just getting it done, with guys such as Nikola Mirotic stepping up. Gentry has earned another year, and a shot to integrate Cousins into this style and level of play, to see where that could take New Orleans next season.

It will be interesting to see if Demps can add more shooting and versatility with a capped out roster.

Report: Suns talk to Jason Kidd, Vinny Del Negro about coaching job

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Mike Budenholzer is out (and may be thinking New York). Suns’ interim coach Jay Triano and former Grizzlies head coach David Fizdale are still in the mix.

The Suns also have reached out to Jason Kidd — who was let go by the Bucks mid-season — and former Bulls and Clippers head coach Vinny Del Negro, reports Scott Bordow of the Arizona Republic.

This is still early in a lengthy search process, there is a long way to go before anyone gets offered this job.

Kidd now lives in Phoenix. He’s considered a smart coach but one who falls in and out of love with players fast, pushes hard for the players he wants (and against those he doesn’t), and didn’t utilize the talent on the Bucks to its best advantage. The Suns have to ask if he is the right guy for a rebuild. He can coach, he’s going to get another chance, but do the Suns want to give it to him?

Mentioning Del Negro will lead to howls from the Suns’ fanbase, but to be fair he gets a bit of a bad rap as a coach. Del Negro won 53.3 percent of his games as a coach, and no team he coached ever finished below .500. He’s had some success developing players, starting with Derrick Rose. All that said, there are reasons Suns’ fans are right to howl: simplistic offenses, a heavy reliance on pick-and-roll sets, and remember he broke the confidence of DeAndre Jordan (Doc Rivers had to build it back up).

Phoenix fired Earl Watson just three games into the season and are looking to replace him. The new coach will have a very good young scorer in Devin Booker on the roster and after that a lot of young question marks. This is a development job where the Suns need to hire a guy who can put in a system, then bring in more talent and stay out of the new coach’s way. We’ll see if the Suns can do that.

Hours after game-winning tip, restaurant told Giannis Antetokounmpo he had to wait

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Giannis Antetokounmpo was the toast of Milwaukee Sunday night: With the game on the line after a Boston comeback, he tipped in a missed Malcolm Brogdon lay-up that proved to be the game winner. (Jayson Tatum was in good position for Boston, he tried to move Antetokounmpo out of his rebounding spot, it just didn’t matter.)

Well, you would have thought Antetokounmpo was the toast of the town, but when he went to BelAir Cantina (a chainlet of Mexican restaurants in the area) he was told he had to wait. And wait. To the point he eventually left.

As you might imagine, the 6’11” Antetokounmpo walking into a restaurant a couple hours after tying up the series with the Celtics drew fast attention on social media. So did the fact he couldn’t get service.

First, good on Antetokounmpo for not pulling the “do you know who I am?” line. He was reportedly unassuming and just left after a while. No hard feelings, his girlfriend later tweeted this out.

As for BelAir Cantina, I kinda get it — I worked my way through college as a waiter and bartender. The restaurant got slammed, everyone working there was in the weeds, and things fall through the cracks. It happens.

But when the 6’11” toast of the town walks in, he cannot slip through the cracks. Cannot. Rather than social media posts about him not getting served and walking out, there would have been pictures all over of him eating the lamb barbacoa or whatever. It’s good for business. If you give the man a little special treatment after the game, nobody is going to complain (except the people who were going to complain about everything anyway… in that sense working in a restaurant was good preparation for me to use Twitter someday).

 

 

Kevin Durant apparently likes Instagram comment critical of Russell Westbrook (photo)

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Last summer Kevin Durant tweeted and deleted that the Thunder’s surrounding cast around him and Russell Westbrook was lacking when he played for Oklahoma City. Those tweets – another criticized Thunder coach Billy Donovan – appeared to be intended to come from a burner account, but Durant said he actually meant to send them from his own account.

Now, he apparently liked an Instagram comment with the opposite message about Westbrook. (I say apparently, because I can’t verify the authenticity of these screenshots, but they at least pass the initial smell test.)

“Like” is Instagram’s word. Maybe Durant uses the function for a different purpose – to note a comment, rather than endorse it.

Perhaps, Durant misread the conversation. The comment he liked rejected the notion that the Thunder were “subpar,” but it criticized Westbrook for them not living up to their ability. Perhaps, Durant focused on the comment sticking up for Oklahoma City overall and missed the part about Westbrook being the shortcoming. Skimming that conversation, it’s a plausible mistake.

Maybe Durant just actually hit the like button. It’s easy enough to do.

Or maybe Durant and Westbrook haven’t really gotten less hostile toward each other. Maybe Durant meant to like this from a burner account.

Those nefarious possibilities are the scintillating ones.

After getting crushed for those tweets last summer and repeatedly downplaying his feud with Westbrook, the Warriors star clearly wanted to move on from these storylines. But all those questions have suddenly reemerged. Perhaps for legitimate reasons, perhaps for benign ones. But we won’t know more about Durant’s intent until he answers to this.