UPDATE 1:10 pm: Sorry folks, no World Peace today. The name change has been delayed to Sept. 16.
9:15 am: Today, August 26, there is only World Peace.
There is no more Ron Artest.
At some point today, a judge in Los Angeles will officially sign that paper that will change the name of Lakers forward Ron Artest to Metta World Peace.
It’s a very Artest… er, World Peace thing to do, and he spoke with Marc Spears of Yahoo about the change.
“You can call me Ron today and then it’s over. It’s a wrap,” Artest said. “It’s about love, world peace. Everybody can relate to that, whether it’s in the same community or the same state or the same country or whether it’s a country going to war.
“It’s about world peace. You know what I mean? The kids need to know that, and they know that now.”
Artest, who wore 15 in a tribute to Michael Jackson last season for the Lakers, will also switch numbers to 70. Why?
“I’m changing it to 70 because it’s like something to do with the universe,” Artest said. “Everything kind of repeats itself. The universe is one. It’s the same thing. Healthy minds, just keeping the kids positive.”
No word on what number he would wear with the Cheshire Jets in England if he plays there, a deal likely not to go through because of insurance issues (the club cannot find affordable insurance for his salary should he be injured).
Following their coronavirus diagnoses, Donovan Mitchell was clearly upset with Jazz teammate Rudy Gobert.
Gobert said he and Mitchell were good. Jazz executive Dennis Lindsey said Mitchell and Gobert were good.
Now, we’re actually hearing from Mitchell himself.
Tim MacMahon of ESPN:
This goes WAY further than anyone else speaking for Mitchell.
Mitchell was entitled to carry a grudge for a while. Gobert’s reckless actions made him more likely to contract and spread coronavirus.
At minimum, Mitchell is willing to say publicly he’s on the same page as Gobert. That’s meaningful. Teammates needn’t be best friends to succeed. But they generally perform better when they set their differences aside. However he actually feels about Gobert, Mitchell is setting a tone of putting the team first.
This isn’t surprising. Mitchell has shown he can remain focused and work hard amid adversity. Gobert plays a supportive style that makes life easier for teammates (though he has sometimes drifted from it this season). These are professionals who were always likely to reach this point.
Of course, this coexistence could be fragile. Among the biggest variables: How will Utah perform in the resumption at Disney World? Winning tends to bond teammates more tightly. Losing can exacerbate wounds.
At least the Jazz will enter Orlando with their chemistry – relatively – intact. After all they’ve been through, that’s something.
The Kings are trying to end their historic playoff drought.
They’ll make that push as lead assistant Igor Kokoskov has one foot out the door.
Adrian Wojnarowski of ESPN:
Jason Jones of the The Athletic:
Kokoskov had a rough go in the NBA spotlight. After working his way up the coaching ladder and becoming the Suns’ head coach in 2018-19, he got fired after only one season. Phoenix gave him an ill-equipped roster, notably passing on Luka Doncic in the draft – perhaps despite the input of Kokoskov, who coached Doncic on the Slovenian national team. Maybe Kokoskov wasn’t a good-enough coach. He didn’t build a strong affirmative case. But getting only season in his first head-coaching job was a tough break.
Fenerbahce (Turkey) is a premier overseas job. Kokoskov will succeed a legend in Zeljko Obradovic, who recently drew attention for this, um, motivational speech.
For Sacramento, the timing is tricky. Luke Walton is still in charge. But with traveling parties limited for the resumption at Disney World, teams need the coaches in attendance to pull extra duty. Maybe Kokoskov is up for it. It’d also be completely natural if he’s at least somewhat distracted by his next job.
Of the 302 NBA players tested for coronavirus June 23, 16 tested positive (5.3%).
Nets center DeAndre Jordan said he learned of his coronavirus diagnosis five days later. He wasn’t alone in testing positive around then.
In tests conducted of 344 NBA players between June 24-29, an additional nine players have tested positive for the coronavirus. Twenty-five of 351 players have tested positive since testing began on June 23.
In tests conducted of 884 team staff between June 23-29, 10 have tested positive for the coronavirus.
If the NBA’s plan is working, the infection rate among players should decrease as they spend more time in the league’s system of isolation protocols and frequent testing. That appears to be happening. Nine is less than 16. But the exact progress is difficult to track.
It’s unclear how many players who tested positive in the first round of testing were also tested in the second round, let alone how many of them again tested positive in the second round. The 344 players tested in the second round might have had just nine positive tests (2.6%). Or the 344 players tested in the second round might have had 25 positive tests (7.3%).
It’s also unclear how many of the previously announced 16 players have recovered. So, even the total result – 25 of 351 players testing positive (7.1%) – is difficult to contextualize. COVID-19 Projections estimates 0.8% of people in the United States currently have coronavirus. The website also estimates 6.0% of people in the United States have or have had coronavirus. The NBA is not including the many players who tested positive before June 23, making it even more difficult to find a comparison point.
That just 10 of 884 staff members tested positive (1.1%) is encouraging, especially because they tend to live in big cities where teams are located and where coronavirus has tended to hit harder.
A former member of the 76ers’ dance team, Yahne Coleman, alleges racism and bullying within the squad and that the organization’s HR ignored her complaints.
Coleman detailed her claims on Instagram, including a video she says is of another former dance-team member, Annie Weiss (warning: profanity):
View this post on Instagram
First of all Thank you @treysongz , @hollywoodunlocked and you amazing people showing me support. I was scared to release this because I was bullied and racially targeted by my 76ers NBA teammates and former Teammates. I went to my coach Dayna Haftez and the Sixers organization crying out for help so many times. I sent the video above of me being racially profiled, bullied and threatened to my coach Dayna Haftez, Lara Price the 76ers Senior Vice President of Business and HR seeking help and nothing was done. They would move my things into the bathroom stall for me to get ready for games. They would make fun of my pictures in a group chat, talking about my black features and send me videos threatening my safety. I did not want them to run me away from a dream I always wanted to accomplish so I tried my hardest to remain strong through it all. I went through this for 3 years. When I auditioned for my 4th year this group of girls called me the night before on the phone saying “your BLACK ass will not be coming back”. I still went to the tryouts and unfortunately that was the end of my 76ers dance team career. It didn’t stop there. They proceeded to harass me by calling and leaving hateful racial videos saying they would come to the slums of West Philly Ghetto and physically harm me. I’m not from the ghetto and never lived in the ghetto but because I’m black they decided to say this laughing and giggling. They went around asking about me, finding out where I worked and called my employment saying things to get me fired. I would hate for this group of women who are still working and connected to the @sixers @philadelphiaflyers to hurt another young talented black girl. Sadly, I let this racial bullying incident from this group of women deter me from my dancing career. The women who racially bullied me – Annie Weiss aka Annie Fuhrman her pages @ mommycanyou @ projectstillhuman, Nicole Vernile Current Captain @76ersent , Kerri McDonald Current Dance Coach @76ersent , Danielle Dematteo @philadelphiaflyers Dance Coach, Malinda Ruth , Erica Hammel , Val Dematteo , Julie Kaskiw, Lauren Schwer, Krystal Almora aka Krystal Gregorio @KrystalAlmora , Coach Dayna Hafetz
Coleman also said Lara Price – who’s currently listed in the 76ers’ media guide as “Executive Vice President, Chief Operating Officer, Harris Blitzer Sports & Entertainment, 76ers” – did nothing after Coleman went to her.
Weiss posted an apology:
76ers statement, via Noah Levick of NBC Sports Philadelphia:
Tonight, we were made aware of social media posts involving former dance team members that contained insensitive, offensive and unacceptable remarks, as well as allegations of bullying and racist behavior.
“The videos, which were filmed in 2016, featured derogatory comments from a former dance team member who left the organization in 2013.
“We take this situation very seriously. We intend to investigate this matter immediately and remain committed to fostering a culture of inclusion and equality.
Hopefully the 76ers don’t stop at investigating the bullying and racism specifically alleged here (which is quite concerning) – but also examine whether HR properly addressed Coleman’s complaint at the time. A well-functioning human-resources department is essential for properly handling issues that arise in the future.