Tag: Jason Collins

Kevin Durant, Damian Lillard

Old tweets: Kevin Durant uses gay slurs (including at Russell Westbrook), Damian Lillard rips LeBron James


An imgur user has dug up old tweets of NBA players, many of the messages coming before the player or Twitter made it big (hat tip: Kevin Draper of Deadspin).

Safe to say, these players tweeted differently before it became apparent so many people were following their every message.

Here are a few examples that stood out to me:

These tweets came before and early in Kevin Durant’s second season. One is directed at Russell Westbrook and the other is directed at an account that used to belong to former Michigan basketball player Anthony Wright, who played with Durant at Oak Hill Academy before Durant transferred to Montrose Christian.

If Durant used that language today, the uproar would be much larger. It’s simply wrong for people to use that f-word and gay pejoratively. Those words in this context fortify a society in which gay people are second-class citizens, i.e. beneath straight people.

Alone, Durant’s words – clearly intended for friends as playful teasing – probably won’t have much effect. But when people who look up to Durant emulate his words, the harmful effect is multiplied. There’s a reason gays commit suicide at a disproportionately high rate, and their inability to find acceptance contributes immensely.

If you recall, Kobe Bryant and Joakim Noah have both been fined for using a gay slur. When announcing Kobe’s punishment, then-commissioner David Stern said in a statement (emphasis mine): “insensitive or derogatory comments are not acceptable and have no place in our game or society.” But both incidents occurred on the court, Kobe’s directed at a referee and Noah’s at a fan. The NBA, especially due to the unofficial statue of limitations, can pretty easily ignore this if it chooses – and that’s probably the league’s best course.

Durant could probably ignore it too, and it would likely go away. I’m not sure many media members want the uncomfortable assignment of questioning him about five-year-old tweets.

But I hope he addresses it. Durant – who supported Jason Collins – has matured since he was 21, and he could his platform to champion personal growth.

On a far less-important – though quite interesting – note, Damian Lillard, between his junior and senior seasons at Weber State, tweeted several times at LeBron James during the 2011 playoffs (the year the Heat lost to the Mavericks in the Finals). Lillard deleted the tweets last night, but they read:

@KingJames please get yo ass out of “too cool” mode and takeover . PLEASE nigga!!! Damn!!!

@KingJames I don’t feel bad for yo fake focused ass, I feel bad for dwade, and MYSELF cuz I wanted it more than you. #damnshame

@KingJames I may have been one of yo biggest fans. But THIS series u played like a straight pussy.

@KingJames talents to south beach? NIGGA!! You took the spotlight nd a ego. You left the talents haha. Them shits in Cleveland .

In case you’re wondering, the Cavaliers play the Trail Blazers on Tuesday. Somehow, I think Lillard is far more likely to be asked about his tweets than Durant is about his.

Kobe Bryant on Julius Randle playing with Kobe, for Byron Scott: ‘If you f— this up, you’re a really big idiot’

Los Angeles Lakers Media Day

Lakers coach Byron Scott is trying to motivate rookie Julius Randle by publicly calling him out for not being in good enough shape. Repeatedly.

If that seems harsh, you should see Kobe Bryant’s words for the No. 7 pick.

Remember, this is the same Kobe who called ESPN voters who ranked him the NBA’s 40th-best player “idiots.”

Kobe on Randle playing with Kobe, for Scott:

If you f— this up, you’re a really big idiot. You know what I mean? ESPN are idiots, but you’re a really big idiot if you manage to f— this up.

Unfortunately, it really doesn’t work that way. The best players, even those with championship experience, don’t necessarily make the best mentors and coaches. They can’t just transfer their knowledge and skills through osmosis.

While Kobe has played for the Lakers, a dozen other first-round picks have made their debuts:

  • Javaris Crittenton
  • Jordan Farmar
  • Andrew Bynum
  • Sasha Vujacic
  • Brian Cook
  • Kareem Rush
  • Mark Madsen
  • Devean George
  • Tyronn Lue
  • Sam Jacobson

And here are first-round picks who made their debuts on teams Scott coached:

  • Tyler Zeller:
  • Dion Waiters
  • Tristan Thompson
  • Kyrie Irving
  • Christian Eyenga
  • Darren Collison
  • Julian Wright
  • Hilton Armstrong
  • Cedric Simmons
  • Chris Paul
  • J.R. Smith
  • Zoran Planinic
  • Brandon Armstrong
  • Jason Collins
  • Richard Jefferson
  • Kenyon Martin

Scott seems to have a much better record of player development than Kobe, both are far from perfect. Perhaps, all the busts just screwed it up themselves, but I think it’s more likely neither Scott nor Kobe provide a perfect Petri dish for rookies to grow.

Unquestionably, Randle can learn from Kobe and Scott. And, so far, it seems Randle has the talent to succeed.

But even if Randle takes every reasonable step, it’s still possible he fails as an NBA player. It’s far to soon to declare he’ll make it – even with Kobe and Scott around.

Report: Suns negotiating contract with Zoran Dragic


The Suns love brothers.

They have twins Marcus and Markieff Morris. Miles Plumlee’s brother, Mason, plays for the Nets. In recent years, Phoenix has also had Luke Zeller (brother of Tyler Zeller and Cody Zeller), Robin Lopez (brother of Brook Lopez), Taylor Griffin (brother of Blake Griffin) and Jarron Collins (brother of Jason Collins).

Now, the Suns might be even closer to adding Goran Dragic’s brother – Zoran Dragic, who played well for Slovenia in the World Cup.

Rafael Molina Guerra of La Opinión de Málaga

Maybe Zoran is also negotiating deals with the other teams interested in him – the Pacers and Kings – but I get the impression this makes Phoenix the likely destination.

The Suns have plenty of cap room, just 13 players and the ability to exceed the cap to re-sign Eric Bledsoe. They can easily fit a second Dragic.

Zoran’s buyout, 750,000, Euros translates to 971,074 U.S. dollars – more than the $600,000 NBA teams are allowed to pay for international buyouts without it counting against the cap. So, Dragic will likely have to cover some of the cost himself.

The biggest hurdle, if it hasn’t already been cleared, is determining how much the Suns would pay Zoran. He’ll likely require more than a minimum deal to jump, but if he were an American free agent, he might not command much more than that. Somewhere in the range of $2 million-$3 million per year seems reasonable.

Jason Collins says he is leaning toward retirement

Brooklyn Nets v Los Angeles Lakers

What Jason Collins did last season was important because in the 22 games and 172 minutes he played the second half of last season, he helped change perceptions and start a conversation. He was the first openly gay player on a major professional sports team in the United States. That matters more than basketball.

But in terms of just basketball, Collins days may be done.

The Nets didn’t bring him in to score (which is good, he had 25 total points on 24 shots), they brought him in to do the little things — set a big screen, be physical inside and not be afraid to pick up fouls, rebound, be a veteran and professional presence in the locker room. He did all that fairly well. But the Nets had found their identity going smaller (with Kevin Garnett at the five) and that left Collins on the bench many nights and playing a very limited role. No team really has a big role for him anymore.

Collins basketball days may be behind him and he’s realizing it, reports Marcus Thompson of the Bay Area News Group, who caught up with Collins and heard him speak in San Francisco.

“I used to be able to jump and touch the top of the white square behind the rim with ease,” Collins, 35, told the crowd of nearly 600 Monday night at San Francisco’s Castro Theatre for the Commonwealth Club’s latest Inforum conversation.

“As the years go by, you watch your hand go lower and lower on that square. Father Time is undefeated against us all. … I’m really grateful for my Stanford degree now. On the other hand, I can still dunk.”

As noted in the article, Collins can make more money now on the speaking circuit and with his Nike contract than he can on the court.

Collins was a fringe NBA player by the point in his career that he came out — and that revaluation didn’t help him land jobs, some teams were concerned about the distraction. The Nets took a chance because they had a need they thought he could fill, but even then he didn’t get many minutes. It’s possible he gets another mid-season call from a team or teams that are interested, but it’s not likely.

But Collins will still be around the NBA. He spoke at the recent rookie orientation about LGBT issues (lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgendered) and that showed why he is needed on the speaking circuit.

While discussing the need for a change in locker-room language, a player’s question let him know how much work remains to be done.

“I had to explain what LGBT stands for,” Collins said.

Referee Violet Palmer comes out publicly as gay

Sacramento Kings v Houston Rockets

Violet Palmer became the NBA’s first female referee in 1997, opening the door for a ridiculous amount of unfair criticism (and some fair criticism too).

Her gender – despite the complaints of too many morons – does not affect her ability to call fouls, but she’s had to work through the critics who dismiss her credentials out of hand.

Now, the spotlight will shine even brighter on her.

Dan Gelston of the Associated Press:

Violet Palmer made her biggest call yet: The NBA referee will marry her partner of 20 years on Friday.

In an interview with The Associated Press, Palmer says she came out to her fellow NBA referees in 2007. She has not tried to keep her sexuality a secret from the league since that time.

“This is actually the big formal coming out,” Palmer said. “We are saying to the world, to everyone, here’s my wife of 20 years. This is the big coming out.”

Palmer will marry celebrity hair stylist Tanya Stine in Los Angeles.

People generally handled Jason Collins coming out exceptionally well, but he was already a respected player when he came out, and people tend to like players – more than referees at least.

The only likable referees are the ones you don’t know. If a ref has come into your purview, it’s because he or she did something that bothered you. So, I think Palmer faces a tougher battle when it comes to people handling her announcement appropriately.

But the NBA has been out in front on inclusion, and maybe it will carry over. I sure hope everyone treats Palmer with the respect she deserves, accepting her correct calls – and criticizing her wrong ones.