Kurt Helin

Draymond Green said he’s been called the N-word by NBA fans “a few places”


In the wake of the Adam Jones incident in Boston’s Fenway Park, there has been a lot of discussion about racial taunts of players at sporting events, and what teams can and should do to fans acting like racist pigs.

Draymond Green has some thoughts on that.

I know, he has thoughts on everything, but what he told Marc Spears of The Undefeated has a lot of validity, plus gives you a players’ perspective on what is going on.

“I’ve gotten the N-word, all of that. I’d rather not get into [where]. A few places, especially being that it is me. Athletes are just not protected in that regard. Maybe something like [the Adam Jones incident] will help,” Green told The Undefeated on Tuesday night before the Warriors’ 106-94 win over the Utah Jazz in the opener of their life second-round playoff series…

“Cheer for your team. Do what you want. But if I’m playing in the game and you’re cheering for your team, it doesn’t give you the right to say whatever you want to say to me,” Green said. “This is my job, and I can’t go to your job and say whatever I want to you. If I went to someone else’s job and said whatever I wanted to say, I’d get arrested for harassment. It’s a fine line. I don’t think any league does a great job of making sure that athletes are protected.

“The fans are great, but at times I think the leagues empower hecklers to say whatever they want to us. We are in a position where if you naturally react, you’re screwed, you’re losing money. But there are great fans out there, and all fans shouldn’t be put in that category.”

A couple of thoughts here. First, while there is a little of “you paid for the ticket you can say what you want,” there also is the common sense line here: If a fan goes to a game and yells “Draymond, you suck” it is very different from using the N-word or, to use an easy example, yelling something rude at Isaiah Thomas about his sister. For those latter things, a fan should be ejected.

Teams and arenas need to police this better.

Second, as a practical matter, it’s hard to stop someone who wants to come to the game and be an a——. Even if teams caught the most egregious of hecklers, threw them out of the building, and said they were banned for life, keeping them out of the building in the future is difficult. Your name isn’t on your ticket (one could use a fake name anyway), and the NBA isn’t going to use fingerprint ID/facial recognition software at games to weed out hecklers. It would take the fans of a team coming together to identify hecklers crossing the line and calling them out.

Basically, we just need people to be better and more respectful of one another. Lately, that has seemed in short supply in this country.

Kobe Bryant is helping Isaiah Thomas with scouting, what to watch on film

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No wonder Isaiah Thomas put together a monster 53-point game on Tuesday — he’s been talking to one of the best big game players in NBA history.

Thomas revealed on Wednesday he’s been in communication with Kobe Bryant, getting some scouting reports and a perspective of what Kobe sees, what to watch on film. Here’s what Thomas said, via A. Sherrod Blakely of CSNNE.com.

John Wall will be texting Kobe in 3…2…

The best players lean on each other, trainers, pretty much anyone they trust to provide a different perspective and give them ideas on how to attack certain players or situations. Kobe watched as much film, studied the game and his opponent, as much as any player in the league. He has seen everything. It’s a fantastic perspective to get.

It’s a great move by Thomas to lean on him.

Even Red Auerbach would be good with a Laker helping a Celtic in this case.

Beer company tries to promote LeBron James grabbing their brew, he squashed it fast


It was the highlight of the Cavaliers clowning the Raptors in Game 1 on Monday: Frustrated after missing layup in transition (he was fouled), LeBron James ran through to the sideline, saw a courtside waitress with a beer, and picked it up off her tray. It looked like J.R. Smith wanted him to take a swig, but LeBron thought better of it.

Turns out that was a Great Lakes Brewing Co. beer, and they know a guerilla marketing opportunity when they see it, so they Tweeted about it (this has since been taken down).

The next day the brewery used an image of LeBron drinking to promote their discounts for the day at their pub.

LeBron isn’t simply a basketball player, he is a brand. Nike pays him a lot of money for that brand (as does Sprite and a bunch of other companies). He is understandably protective of his image, and the Great Lakes Brewing Co. doesn’t have a sponsorship deal — in fact there is a bad history between him and the company. So LeBron moved to get the brewery to stop using his image. From Joe Varden of the Cleveland Plain Dealer.

James and his associates are upset over Great Lakes Brewing Co.’s use of James likeness to promote Dortmunder Gold and would consider legal action, according to a source close to him….

“This is about the last thing I’m trying to worry about right now, my agent and my legal team will take care of it, but yeah I know (Great Lakes) is trying to benefit off of me,” James told cleveland.com. “And I heard they were the same company that made all those ‘Quitness’ beers, and now they’re trying to benefit off me this way? Yeah, it’s pretty funny.”

No, this isn’t as much fun as LeBron playing along with the local beer company, but I get where he’s coming from. Can’t blame him for protecting the brand — if Great Lakes Brewing can use his image for free, others will try to as well and where does LeBron draw the line?

Now, if we were talking about the Great Lakes Winery and a nice Cabernet

Reports: Mike Budenholzer may step down as Hawks president but remain coach

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This much we know: Changes appear to be coming to the front office of the Atlanta Hawks.

However, nothing has happened yet. An earlier report that Wes Wilcox was out as GM was shot down by the team, who sent out this statement:

“Hawks leadership is undergoing a period of evaluation and looking at how basketball operations works best.  There are no changes to report at this time and any reports indicating otherwise are inaccurate.”

Then came this bomb from Adrian Wojnarowski.

Everything in Atlanta seems up in the air and up for discussion. Changes are coming, but what changes remain to be seen.

This may all come back to the big question facing Atlanta this offseason:

Do they re-sign Paul Millsap to a max contract?

It seemed like Mike Budenholzer and part of basketball operations were ready to move Millsap and start the rebuild at the trade deadline when Kyle Korver was shipped to Cleveland. Then Atlanta ownership appeared to step in and stop the teardown, Millsap, stayed, and the Hawks got to the playoffs (but were eliminated in the first round).

Because of their cap situation, if the Hawks re-sign Millsap to a five-year max (what it will cost) they likely stay a good but not great team — 44-52 wins a season, first or second round playoff exit — for the foreseeable future. For someone like Budenholzer, out of the Spurs organization, the instinct may be to rebuild with young talent rather than live in the middle.

However, the Hawks have connected with the Atlanta community — specifically younger people living and working in the city — and are selling tickets at a pace the organization hasn’t seen in a long time. The Hawks are profitable. From ownership’s perspective, a rebuild could mean a drop in gate revenue and that connection with the community could be gone. This status quo might work for them.

There are some serious questions that the Hawks need to answer, and it seems that what they decide is going to lead to some front office changes. Big ones. And soon.

PBT Extra: Spurs will bounce back in Game 2, but opening loss exposed real issues

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Often when a team loses a playoff game, particularly Game 1, there’s a big call for adjustments when what the team actually needs to do is just execute its strengths better. Be a better version of the team that got them to this point in the playoffs in first place.

There is certainly a little of that with San Antonio after it got routed at home by James Harden and Houston in Game 1 of their second-round series. However, in this case, the Spurs have to make adjustments as well, something I get into in this latest PBT Extra.

Bottom line, if you see a lot of David Lee on the court for the Spurs the rest of this series, that’s a bad sign in San Antonio.