NBA Playoffs Suns Lakers Game 1: The Lakers will have no part of Arizona immigration politics

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laker-logo.jpgThose Lakers, always the marketing machine.

The Suns last month made a public stand against the Arizona immigration law that has pretty much everyone up in arms one way or another. Following up their public statements of protest, the Suns wore their “Los Suns” jerseys against the Spurs for Game 3 of their playoff series. There were multiple reports that the Spurs had planned on joining the Suns by wearing their “Los Spurs” jerseys, but could not get the jerseys transported to Phoenix in time.

So with the Los Angeles City Council announcing a boycott for the city with Arizona in protest, and considering the very large percentage of Los Angeles residents who are Mexican or Latino, it’s probably reasonable to wonder if they will be making a similar stand for those in their fanbase who feel it’s unfair.

Guess again.

Time Magazine reports that the Lakers will not be involved in any political discussion, with a spokesman saying, simply, “We’re in the business of playing basketball and we’re not in the business of getting into a political debate one way or another. “

I believe the phrase he was looking for was “Americans who wont’ get pulled over for looking suspiciously immigrant buy Laker tickets too.” That’s what Jordan would have said.

Not only will the Lakers make no public statement on the issue, none of their players are electing to comment, either, one way or another.

And that’s fine. Just as it’s well within a sports organization’s rights to elect to be involved on behalf of members of their fanbase, it’s well within their rights to sit out of the discussion. No one is looking to the Lakers for leadership on political issues. And it’s not like those that make up the Staples crowd are going to be directly affected by any such legislation in California, Arizona while visiting, or elsewhere. The odds of a white, high priced movie producer who can afford Lakers lower-bowl tickets getting pulled over in Arizona are unlikely, right?  Not like Jack Nicholson’s got a lot of worries about getting asked for his papers under this new law. And I’m sure those Mexicans and Latinos that can afford tickets to LA’s playoff games have their papers in order and on them at all times, or wouldn’t prompt the “reasonable suspicion” the law calls for in order to be stopped if they were to visit Arizona.

It should be noted that the Lakers are highly active in their community, and both Kobe Bryant and Derek Fisher have spoken out publicly in the past in regards to the genocide being committed in Darfur. And to be fair, it’s not like California is enacting these controversial policies. It’s the Suns’ problem, and even then a great many Arizona residents support the bill, as I’m sure many Californians do and would like to see the same in the Golden State.

It’s the safe move for the Lakers. And those that say that sports entities and personalities have no business in getting involved in politics make a strong argument. Just because something’s easy doesn’t mean that it’s wrong. So if you’re a fan of teams not getting involved in political messes, even if a large portion of their fanbase happen to be affected by that mess, you should give the Lakers a hand today. They stood up for not standing up and knowing their place in society.

And hey, “Laguneros” is really long and doesn’t look as cool.

Kawhi Leonard out vs. Thunder Monday night, third straight game due to knee bruise

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This isn’t load management. This is a bruised knee.

The first Clipper game with Kawhi Leonard and Paul George sharing the court will have to wait as Leonard is going to miss his third straight game with a knee contusion Monday night against the Thunder. Ramona Shelburne of ESPN broke the news.

The Clippers are going to be cautious with bringing Leonard back from this, thinking long term with his health, as they should. Los Angeles is playing for games in May and June, not games in November.

This means tonight the Clippers will be the Paul George show again — in two games he has scored 70 points in 44 minutes. This will be George’s first game against the Thunder since he demanded a trade out of the city last summer, landing him on the Clippers with Leonard.

Kevin Love tries to ignore trade rumors, ‘let the chips fall where they may’

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Cleveland Cavaliers GM said he has no interest in trading Kevin Love.

You can count the number of people around the league who believe him on one hand. There’s a good chance Love is still on the Cavaliers at the end of this season, but that’s more about him being in the first year of a four-year, $120 million contract extension than it is Cleveland’s willingness to trade him (or interest from other teams, if money was not an issue). The Cavaliers are rebuilding, and if they can get young players and picks for Love, they have to consider it.

With Portland off to a slow start, and Love growing up in the Pacific Northwest, that rumor has floated around. There are others. Love is just trying to ignore them and play ball, he told Arash Markazi of the Los Angeles Times.

“I know there’s talk about me possibly being the missing piece somewhere,” Love said. “There’s been constant chatter since I signed that I could be traded. It’s one of those things where I’m going to keep doing right by the team, by Cleveland and by the organization. If my number is called, so be it, but I’m going to stay true to my commitment and let the chips fall where they may.”

Love, who has been open in recent years about his struggles with anxiety and mental health, said dealing with the trade rumors that constantly swirl around him can be a challenge on that front.

“A big aspect of mental health is just staying in the present but it’s so hard,” he said. “You have to try to not get too far ahead of yourself or get worked up. You can get that anxious feeling or fear for the future, but you have to try to stay focused on getting better and let things work out the way they should.”

Kevin Love has played well to start the season, averaging 18.3 points and 11.3 rebounds a game, shooting a respectable 34.7 percent from three. He could help a lot of teams, particularly ones in the West who want to be in the mix for a ring but who look at the Lakers and Clippers and think, “we have to get better fast.”

The rumors around Love are just going to get louder the closer and closer we get to the trade deadline. Love will have to do a lot of work to tune all that out.

 

Bulls big man Luke Kornet out following surgery on sinus obstruction

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Just before last Christmas, Luke Kornet broke his nose. Apparently, that never healed quite right.

Kornet underwent surgery to repair a sinus obstruction on Monday, the Chicago Bulls announced. There is no timetable for his return, although coach Jim Boylen suggested it could be less than two weeks.

Bulls coach Jim Boylen added this at practice, via NBC Sports Chicago.

“Kornet had sinus surgery this morning. He had blockage and some issues from a previous fracture from when he was in New York. We just felt it was time to go in there and clean that thing out. That happened this morning at 6 AM. He’s out. Surgery went well. We’ll have more to report as we go. Originally, it was a seven-ten-day thing where he’d be back. I think it’s one of those things they don’t know until they get in there how extreme it is. But he had blockage and it needed to be done.”

This does not impact the Bulls much on the court as Kornet has fallen out of the rotation in recent games (in part because of the sinus condition, in part because he just hasn’t played well). Kornet signed a two-year, $4.5 million contract with the Bulls over the summer.

D’Angelo Russell says weather played ‘major part’ in picking Warriors over Timberwolves

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D'Angelo Russell wants to play with Karl-Anthony Towns. Towns’ Timberwolves were reportedly interested in Russell last summer.

Why did Russell join the Warriors instead of Minnesota?

Russell, via Chris Hine of the Minneapolis StarTribune:

“I thought the opportunity here was amazing … ” Russell said after Warriors shootaround Friday. “It was definitely something I was considering very strongly. But then when this opportunity came, the weather is way better, so that helped me.”

“I did my first winter in New York and that was tough,” Russell said. “So to get the opportunity to go somewhere where it’s warm again, I think that played a major part in my plan.”

I don’t blame him one bit.

Russell grew up in Kentucky then finished high school in Florida. He spent his first couple NBA seasons with the Lakers.

He also played collegiately at Ohio State and a a couple years for the Nets. In other words, he spent enough time in cold-weather locations to know how miserable they can be.

This is an issue that will always hinder teams like the Timberwolves. It doesn’t mean they can’t attract free agents. It’s just a disadvantage.

There will always be players who don’t have multiple max offers. Minnesota can separate itself with money, playing time and other considerations.

But good for Russell for playing himself out of that group and earning a max contract in the Bay Area.