Mark Cuban says Colin Kaepernick’s protests wouldn’t keep him off NBA rosters

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NFL training camps have opened, and Colin Kaepernick is not on a roster. Not because he’s not good enough, he is better than a number of the backup quarterbacks in camps and who will make rosters this season (his style isn’t for every team, but it would work on plenty), but because NFL general managers and owners either were put off by his kneeling protests during the national anthem last year, or they don’t want to deal with the backlash from some fans if they did bring him in. The quality play is not what has him sidelined, you can’t make a serious case that Josh McCown and Geno Smith — both of whom have contracts — are better players. The Dolphins are trying to bring Jay Cutler out of retirement right now.

Mark Cuban told the Washington Post that would not happen in the NBA.

“I don’t know what his status is in the NFL, but I’m glad the NBA doesn’t have a politician litmus test for our players,” Dallas Mavericks owner Mark Cuban said. “I’d like to think we encourage our players to exercise their constitutional rights….

“The NBA is such a global game,” Cuban said in an email, “I think our players exposure to different political systems among their teammates may help them appreciate our country even more and encourage their participation.”

Former coach and ESPN analyst Jeff Van Gundy added this is a league-wide culture thing that starts at the top.

“Everything starts from the top,” said ESPN analyst Jeff Van Gundy, a former NBA coach. “Commissioner [Adam] Silver embraces all kinds of different ways of thinking. I think he encourages activism. And because of that, I believe, some of our players in the NBA feel very empowered to speak their mind.

“That’s healthy that we embrace different thoughts. You can agree with Kaepernick, you can disagree with Kaepernick, but what I don’t think you should believe is that he doesn’t have the right or he should be muzzled in any way.”

NBA players were not as dramatic in their protests during the national anthem last year, with players locking arms during the song, not kneeling. The NBA has a rule that if a player doesn’t stand for the anthem they will get fined, nobody wanted to pay it, so locking arms became the solution.

However, Cuban is right — Kaepernick would be on an NBA roster. At the heart of the difference is demographics — the average NBA fan is younger, less likely to be Caucasian, and more likely to live in an urban setting than the average NFL fan. Which is to say, the average NBA fan is likely to be more to the left on the political spectrum than the average NFL fan. Van Gundy is also right about the NBA being a more global league than the NFL, that also plays a role.

If an NBA player made a Kaepernick-style protest it would generate a lot of news, but it would not anger a healthy part of the fan base in the same way. With that, Cuban and the other NBA owners would accept it and move on.

 

Kings’ rookie De’Aaron Fox commits California mortal sin, slams In-N-Out

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We Californians take a few things seriously. Surf reports, for one. Winemaking/tasting. Tech toys. Coming up with potential blockbuster movie franchise ideas, getting a star to buy in, then maybe or maybe not worrying about getting a decent script.

Also, In-N-Out Burger. If there is one thing all Californians can agree on, it’s that In-N-Out is the best burger chain in the world. It’s not up for debate.

Apparently Kings’ rookie De'Aaron Fox did not get that memo. He did a Q&A with Rolling Stone’s Seerat Sohi and crossed a sacred line.

“All I gotta say, you can tell everybody that lives in the state of California this: In-N-Out is not good.”

What’s your beef with In-N-Out Burger?
“Their burgers are overrated. They’re OK.”

Even Animal Style?
“Yes. People always say, you haven’t tried this. You haven’t tried that. I’m like, “Yeah, I looked up the secret menu. I’ve tried it all. It’s just not good.”

That’s controversial. What’s the best fast food spot then?
“Honestly, for me, I don’t count Chick-fil-A, because it’s way too good to be considered fast food. So I’m gonna say Wendy’s. Fat Burger in L.A. is better than In-N-Out.”

It’s this simple: Fox is flat-out wrong.

First off, Chick-fil-A is wildly overrated, so we know the taste of the 19-year-old point guard is off. Fat Burger is legit. But Wendy’s? Come on now, that’s just average.

If Fox had tried to argue Five Guys, I would have let it slide — I don’t think they’re as good, but I will admit a California bias. But Wendy’s? You lose the entire argument right there. It’s like saying Pixels was the best movie ever.

In-N-Out is the best. Fox needs to get on board with this.

Bulls’ Nikola Mirotic hospitalized after practice fight with Bobby Portis

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It was going to be a difficult season in Chicago if everything went right — and two days before the first game of the season things have gone horribly wrong.

Bulls’ starting forward Nikola Mirotic got into a shoving match with Bobby Portis, and Portis turned and sucker-punched him, according to multiple reports.

The Bulls have confirmed the fight and have announced Mirotic suffered a concussion and maxillary fractures in his face — the upper jaw and nasal cavity area — which likely will require surgery. He is going to miss weeks of time.

Shams Charania of The Vertical at Yahoo Sports had more details.

Mirotic was taken to the hospital Tuesday after their shoving altercation during practice ended with an alleged cheap shot from Portis to Mirotic’s face, league sources told The Vertical. Mirotic is undergoing tests, but is expected to be out for the foreseeable future, league sources said.

Mirotic will miss weeks, according to a source, and you can be sure severe discipline from the team is coming down for Portis.

In the short term, this likely means more run for rookie Lauri Markkanen as well as just re-signed Cristiano Felicio.

LeBron James will play in opener against Celtics

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Did we really expect anything else?

LeBron James was a game-time decision for the season opener in Cleveland against Boston and Kyrie Irving due to a sprained ankle. We expected he would go, but ankles can be tricky and are easy to re-injure once sprained, so the Cavs wanted to be careful.

He’s going to play. Coach Tyronn Lue made it official.

LeBron is the best player on the planet, but he can coast through the regular season at times. What teams try to avoid is giving him extra motivation… say bringing in a guy who left the team last summer on opening night. Expect full force LeBron tonight.

LeBron James, do you owe Cleveland anything? “I don’t owe anybody anything”

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It will be the biggest off-court topic of the NBA season: Will LeBron James stay with the Cavaliers after this season?

Right now, LeBron doesn’t know the answer to that question for sure. I’m sure he has ideas, but he wisely leaves all his options open, then can make a call next summer when the time comes.

When that time does come, does he owe his hometown Cleveland anything? LeBron answered that question in the latest issue of GQ, and he answered with an emphatic no.

“LeBron James owes nobody anything. Nobody,” he said. “When my mother told me I don’t owe her anything, from that point in time, I don’t owe anybody anything. But what I will give to the city of Cleveland is passion, commitment, and inspiration. As long as I put that jersey on, that’s what I represent. That’s why I’m there — to inspire that city. But I don’t owe anybody anything.”

That’s not what Cavs fans may want to hear, but it’s also spot on. LeBron has given this franchise everything he has, he has brought them the first title the team has had in 50 years, and nobody sane can question his passion or how hard he plays.

LeBron could well get to his eighth straight NBA Finals, feel he’s on a team that can push the Warriors, then look at his options — the Lakers and a young core that doesn’t defend well, for example — and think maybe he’s best where he’s at. Perhaps he teams up with another star in Los Angeles or somewhere else. If LeBron called up 28 teams and said “I want to come there” those teams would make whatever moves they needed to for the deal to happen. (I say 28 because the Warriors wouldn’t, and even they’d think about it.)

LeBron has the leverage, and he is always a guy who keeps his options open. He will be asked about his future in every road stop, he will dodge the questions, and we’ll try to read the tea leaves, but as of right now LeBron doesn’t know for sure what LeBron will do next summer. Neither do we.