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NBA gets high grades again for race, gender hiring

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ORLANDO, Fla. (AP) — A diversity report shows the NBA “significantly ahead” again in professional sports in racial and gender hiring practices.

The league received an A for racial hiring and a B for gender hiring practices for the 2016-17 season. The NBA drew an overall grade of A-minus, continuing its run of A grades since the start of the 2000s.

The report card was released Thursday by The Institute for Diversity and Ethics in Sport. The report was written by Richard Lapchick.

The NBA sets the pace, with people of color making up 30 percent of the head coaches and 45 percent of the assistants. The NBA is also the first major sports league to have three owners of color.

Report cards are also issued for the NFL, MLB, WNBA, MLS and college sports.

“They have been significantly ahead of the other leagues from the time we started it in the 1980s,” said Lapchick, the chair of University of Central Florida’s sports business management program. “Other leagues have closed the gap and improved a little bit but the NBA has continued to improve as well to stay the industry leader.”

The league, however, did receive an F for race representation this season at the levels of team president/CEO and general manager. There are just four people of color at the top tier of team management and three general managers of color.

The NBA also received a D for gender hiring for team vice presidents, with women making up 24 percent of the workforce in that area. Although women in team senior administrative positions jumped from 24 percent in 2015-16 to 29 percent this past season, the league earned a C-minus for gender hiring at the team level.

“There are obviously areas in there that need improvement,” Lapchick said. “This is the second year in a row that we’ve talked to about the lack of women in senior leadership positions at the team level.”

Still, the NBA receives overall high marks for hiring practices at the team and league offices. In the NBA league office, 35 percent of the professional staff positions were held by people of color at the beginning of this season, with women at nearly 39 percent.

Deputy Commissioner Mark Tatum is the highest ranking African-American of any of the professional American sports leagues.

Lapchick attributes the NBA’s strong marks to its past two commissioners – David Stern and Adam Silver. Months after he became commissioner in 2014, Silver led the way in ousting Los Angeles Clippers Donald Sterling after it was discovered he made racist remarks.

“That kind of out-front posturing is important,” Lapchick said. “It sends a signal to the teams and obviously to the league office that diversity and inclusiveness is very important. I think all commissioners feel that way but I think the NBA has made its stamp even more powerful.”

 

Elfrid Payton slams chasedown block on LeBron James (VIDEO)

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LeBron James is usually the guy handing out chasedown blocks. He’s famous for them, and has carted out his signature move in the biggest moments of his career.

He’s also not used to having his own shots blocked from behind, and certainly not by opposing point guards.

Enter Elfrid Payton.

During a play halfway through the first quarter against the Orlando Magic on Thursday, LeBron was on a drive to the hole with Elfrid trailing far behind.

Thanks to a pinch by two Magic defenders, LeBron had to try and use brute force a bit deeper in the paint than he wanted to.

That allowed Payton — running at full speed — to catch up and pin The King on the glass.

Cleveland still got the best of the Magic, as Isaiah Thomas hit a clutch free throw to win the game with 11 seconds left, 104-103.

All-Star Joel Embiid doesn’t need Rihanna: “On to the next one”

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For about as long as we can remember, Joel Embiid has famously thirsted after Rihanna on Twitter. Fans have tried to boost his standing with the singer, but it apparently that has not been enough.

In 2014, Embiid mentioned on social media that a “famous girl” — presumably Rihanna — told him to “Come back when you’re an All-Star.”

Well, today is that day.

Embiid is a starter out of the Eastern Conference, and on Thursday night he had his chance to speak to Rihanna (or whomever) via national TV on TNT.

Did Embiid decide to reach out to this famous person? Apparently he’s off it.

Via Twitter:

This is like that scene from Private Parts when Howard Stern hits No. 1 and he tells Paul Giamatti’s character to get lost.

Embiid had the chance to curve Rihanna (or whomever) and took it. Long live The Process.

Here are the weirdest NBA All-Star voting results for 2018

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NBA All-Star voting is over, and now we have the results. The starters are in, and what’s left is for us to wait until they announce the teams after they are picked in double secret ceremony.

Of course, the NBA did release the full voting results via their PR website this week, and as such there are some head scratchers. My boy Patrick Redford over at Deadspin did an excellent job rounding up some of the players who got exactly one (1) vote from other players.

The gag here is that these guys presumably voted for themselves.

Of course, what I found most interesting was actually the guys who got multiple votes from their compatriots without being All-Star caliber players.

My favorite list of player-voted non-All-Stars includes: Michael Beasley (4), Gordon Hayward (2), Boban Marjanovic (2), Jahlil Okafor (4), Quincy Acy (2), Tyler Zeller (4), T.J. McConnell (2), Elfrid Payton (2), Zaza Pachulia (3), Taj Gibson (6), Zach Randolph (5), Maurice Harkless (2), Deyonta Davis (3), Lonzo Ball (9), Mike Conley (3).

There’s a whole smattering of guys in there who either didn’t play enough, aren’t stars, are injured, or who aren’t very good.

That multiple players took time to vote for these guys really speaks to the frivolity of the NBA All-Star Game. At least outside of player contract incentives.

Bring on February!

LeBron James throws behind-the-back, nutmeg pass for assist (VIDEO)

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LeBron James is one of the best passers the NBA has ever seen, but even this is too hard to believe.

During Thursday’s game between the Orlando Magic and Cleveland Cavaliers, LeBron through a ridiculous behind-the-back pass that nutmegged Orlando’s Aaron Gordon.

The result of the play was a bucket for Dwyane Wade.

Via Twitter:

I mean, that’s just … insane.