Kurt Helin

Stephen Curry on Colin Kaepernick: “I applaud him for taking a stand”

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While nationally Colin Kaepernick’s refusal to stand for the national anthem has been controversial and gotten him booed, his effort to push along the conversation of treatment of people of color by the establishment resonates with a lot of African-American athletes. Unfortunately, the national conversation has become about the symbol of the flag and not the conversation Kaepernick actually was trying to push forward. But NBA players want to see race relations discussed (remember LeBron James, Dwyane Wade, Chris Paul, and Carmelo Anthony at the ESPYs?). For one, Jabari Parker has Kaepernick’s back.

Stephen Curry stepped up in a CNBC interview (above) at the end of his tour through Asia with Under Armour and said he was happy Kaepernick was taking a stand.

“I love that there’s freedom of speech and he can stand what he believes in. There’s going to be people that disagree with him, there’s going to be people that agree with him, which is what I think our country stands for, that hopefully will drive the conversation to better ends through equal rights, and the treatment of African-Americans and people of color. So, I applaud him for taking a stand, and hopefully the conversation is about what his message was and not about the fact ‘is he going to stand, is he going to sit for the National Anthem?’ The conversation started and continues.

“We also have the fact he’s putting his money where his mouth is and donating, what’d he say, $1 million dollars to make his message a reality. I hope all the resources and conversations and intellect around the country to find a way to make that million dollars as powerful as it can be. Which is, he’s on the right track.”

Last week Kaepernick said he would donate $1 million to charity, Wednesday he upped that saying his share of the proceeds from the spike in his jersey sales — he now has the top-selling jersey in the NFL — would be reinvested in communities.

Curry didn’t endorse Kaepernick, but good on Curry for not completely dodging the question and not getting bogged down in the flag respect issue. What Kaepernick is trying to help bring front and center is an important national conversation on race and institutional racism, a discussion this country needs to have. Curry seems to get that and good on him for not dancing around the question when asked (although, again, there was no endorsement).

As for the flag issue, put simply, if we all have to have the exact same rituals with our national symbols and there can be no protest, then we are acting just like the countries with forced nationalism indoctrination programs we say we abhor. Part of what the flag stands for is the right to protest.

Hornets sign Andrew Andrews, Rasheed Sulaimon to training camp contracts

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For players on the fringe of the NBA, the goal is to get noticed, then do things that make a team want to keep you on a guaranteed deal.

One way to do that: Stand out in training camp. Even if you don’t make the team where you went to camp, other teams will take notice.

Along those lines, the Hornets announced they have signed Andrew Andrews and Rasheed Sulaimon to non-guaranteed, training camp contracts, the team announced. The Hornets now have 13 guaranteed contracts heading into camp and five non-guaranteed deals of players trying to earn their way onto the squad.

Andrews was undrafted out of the University of Washington last season, where he averaged 20.9 points, 5.7 rebounds and 4.9 assists per game.

Sulaimon played for three seasons at Duke then finished his collegiate career at Maryland where he averaged 11.3 points per game and shot 42.5 percent from three last season.

Doc Rivers thinks Kevin Garnett will come back for 22nd season to teach Timberwolves

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Officially, the status of Kevin Garnett is up in the air. He has an $8 million contract for this season, but he has considered whether it is time to hang it up and walk away.

Doc Rivers — who coached KG in Boston — thinks Garnett has one more year in him. Mostly because he loves teaching the young Timberwolves.

Here is what Rivers said recently while in Boston, as reported by Chris Forsberg of ESPN.

“I think Kevin — and I know it, because I talk to him — loves the young guys on his team,” Rivers said. “He loves how they work. He thinks they have an old-school mentality. So I think he’s really gotten into Kevin, the teacher. And I honestly never saw that coming, either. Yet he was a phenomenal teacher with [Boston]; I just didn’t think he would have the patience to do it. And I think Kevin loves teaching these young guys.”

Karl-Anthony Towns will tell anyone who cares to listen that Garnett is his mentor, and the two have formed a real bond. Garnett is the perfect teacher for the But there is other young talent on that team — Andrew Wiggins, Zach LaVine, Kris Dunn, and more — who can learn from what KG has to offer.

Garnett has had conversations with owner Glen Taylor, coach Tom Thibodeau, and others in the organization, but out of respect they are giving him space to make his call at his own pace. Although, with training camp starting in about three weeks, there is a bit of a deadline approaching.

If KG enjoys the team as much as others say, expect him back for one more run. Which is good news for a young and growing team.

Time to watch career highlight package from Hall of Famer Shaquille O’Neal

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Shaquille O’Neal is entering the Hall of Fame this weekend. As it should be.

One of the greatest big men ever, what this career greatest hits compilation — courtesy the folks at NBA.com — reminds us is just how agile and quick Shaq was despite his size. He is one of the most physically gifted players ever to suit up.

Enjoy.

Karl-Anthony Towns on Timberwolves season: “We’ve got to make the playoffs”

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In a few years, Minnesota is poised to be the team challenging Golden State for the Western Conference crown — and more. This young roster has that kind of potential, and now it has a coach in Tom Thibodeau who can get them over the top.

But learning to win in the NBA is a process. Karl-Anthony Towns is insistent that the Timberwolves take their first step this season and make the playoffs. Look at what he told Jared Zwerling of the NBAPA’s official site:

“We’ve got to make the playoffs. We’ve got to do something special, and it’s up to us to continue to work and to make that happen.”

Minnesota making the playoffs could happen. The Wolves about average offense last season should improve as Towns, Andrew Wiggins, Zach LaVine and the rest of a talented core take steps forward. However, the real test is how much Thibodeau can improve their bottom-five defense — get that to average and this team has a shot at the postseason. They would likely be in a fight with teams such as Memphis and Denver the final playoff slot or two in the conference.

Towns likes playing for Thibodeau.

He’s taught me a lot so far. He’s really smart, he’s a great guy. I look at him not even as my coach, but as a good friend of mine, and that’s how it has to be. If we want to be able to go to another spot to something greater, we have to always be on the same page and have a good rapport. That’s what we do have.

The star player and coach having a good relationship matters (although mostly for the coach, he’s the one that almost always pays a price when it goes wrong). In this case, Towns and Thibodeau could lead this team a long way in the next few years.