What four guys would Jordan choose for a pickup game? Pippen, Magic, Worthy, Olajuwon

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Fairly safe to say Michael Jordan in his prime could have selected me, Seth Rogen, Sammy Hagar and Dave Navarro and we would win virtually every game and stay on the court.

But when the folks at NBA 2K asked him (as they promote the 2K14 Next Gen features) he went a different direction. The four he picks to hold the court: Scottie Pippen, Magic Johnson, James Worthy and Hakeem Olajuwon. That group is pretty good, too.

Remember that Pippen, Magic and MJ were part of the Dream Team in Barcelona that won the gold. I totally get the Olajuwon pick too — he can post guys up and run the floor, defend, basically do everything well. He is arguably the most well-rounded big of all time.

Worthy? That’s a North Carolina nod. Remember they were teammates in college who won the 1982 national title together.

Stephen Jackson peddles another anti-Semitic conspiracy theory, says he’s misunderstood

Stephen Jackson
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Former NBA player Stephen Jackson defended Philadelphia Eagles wide receiver DeSean Jackson, who has drawn criticism – including from the Eagles – for posting an anti-Semitic conspiracy theory (incorrectly) attributed to Adolph Hitler.

DeSean Jackson apologized twice and pledged to educate himself.

Stephen Jackson insists he’s being unfairly maligned.

Stephen Jackson:

Today’s word is assume. Assume.

To all my Jewish people, I love y’all. Y’all took the video the wrong way. I said he was right stemming from a conversation we had before I got on Live about how they’re handling him and how they handled Cooper when he said the n-word. They didn’t handle them the same way, and that wasn’t right. And that’s what I was talking about. I love y’all. You’ll never find a video or article of me saying I hate anybody. Let me clear that up.

Assume. Today’s word. As a black man, you get pulled over by the police, they assume you’re about to run. They assume you’ve got drugs in the car. They assume you’ve got a gun. They assume the worst, right?

I didn’t say nothing about Jews or supporting Hitler at all in that video. But that’s what they assume I said. And y’all wonder why we’re fighting for equality. Because y’all assume the worst from a black man. I love everybody. I’ve always stood that way. Love for all who have love for all. So, why would you assume I hate somebody?

Too often, apologies get labeled as a “non-apology.” This is a non-apology.

When he said DeSean Jackson is “speaking the truth,” Stephen Jackson sounded like he was talking about DeSean Jackson’s Hitler post – not a private conversation with DeSean Jackson, as Stephen Jackson indicates now.

A reminder of what Stephen Jackson said about DeSean Jackson (emphases mine):

He was trying to educate himself, educate people, and he’s speaking the truth, right? He’s speaking the truth. You know he don’t hate nobody, but he’s speaking the truth of the facts that he knows and trying to educate others.

How do those bolded sections make any sense based on a private conversation between DeSean Jackson and Stephen Jackson?

If this is a case of Stephen Jackson simply not choosing his words carefully enough, it’d be far easier to forgive him. After all, he has now gone out of his way to say he loves Jews.

But Stephen Jackson doesn’t deserve much benefit of the doubt while he also spreads other anti-Semitic conspiracy theories.

Fred Katz of The Athletic:

Police too often make negative assumptions about Black people. That should be addressed.

But, best I can tell, Stephen Jackson is being judged fairly here. He’s promoting anti-Semitic messages. He’s getting treated like someone promoting anti-Semitic messages.

Do I believe Stephen Jackson wants to be anti-Semitic? No. My best guess is his heart is in the right place while his head is in the wrong place. But Stephen Jackson is still spreading anti-Semitism. Even if that’s due to “only” ignorance, he can’t correct that until acknowledging his errors and learning from them. Blaming everyone else for misunderstanding him is not the answer.

Stephen Jackson is also wrong in his comparison to Riley Cooper, a white Eagles receiver who was caught on video saying the n-word in 2013. Like with DeSean Jackson, the Eagles released a statement criticizing Cooper. They didn’t cut Cooper. They also haven’t cut DeSean Jackson. Even if they eventually cut DeSean Jackson, I suspect they’ll follow similar guidelines: Deciding whether the player is good enough to offset the trouble caused by his reprehensible speech.

Magic player tests positive for coronavirus

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The race for the final two playoff spots in the Eastern Conference keeps getting sadder. Somehow.

The Nets are decimated. The Wizards are missing their best players. And the Magic – who already have Jonathan Isaac and Al-Farouq Aminu sidelined – have complications with Markelle Fultz and another unnamed player.

Roy Parry of the Orlando Sentinel:

The Orlando Magic entered the NBA bubble Tuesday without an unidentified player who tested positive for COVID-19 and guard Markelle Fultz, whose entry was delayed due to a personal issue.

Magic president of basketball operations Jeff Weltman said during a videoconference with reporters on Tuesday that Fultz is dealing with a personal matter unrelated to the virus. His absence is excused and the league is aware of his situation, according to Weltman. He said Fultz is following all safety protocols and expects a “seamless transition” for the guard’s return, although Weltman did not have a specific timetable for when that will be.

It’s unclear whether the unnamed player was among the 25 players the NBA announced tested positive.

Fultz and the other player will have to follow protocols for players travelling to Disney World after their teams arrive.

The Magic have D.J. Augustin and Michael Carter-Williams at point guard if Fultz is unavailable. But I’ll take Weltman at his word that Fultz will return to the team smoothly.

Philadelphia’s Shake Milton: “I don’t really think we should be playing”

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There are a lot of players with doubts about the NBA’s restart bubble. They’re going, in part because they understand the financial implications of not going, but there is far from universal enthusiasm for the NBA’s plan.

Put Philadelphia’s Shake Milton in that concerned group.

The Sixers’ two guard, expected to play a significant role in his team’s chances at the restart, expressed real concerns about the bubble in a conference call with reporters Tuesday. Courtesy NBC Sports Philadelphia.

“I don’t really think we should be playing,” Milton said in a video conference call with reporters Tuesday, “but I think the NBA is doing all that they can to make the environment as safe as possible. My teammates want to play so we’re going to go down there and try to win…

“I think [the spread of the virus], and then also I feel like there’s a lot of other stuff going on,” Milton said. “There are issues going on right now in the world that are way bigger than a sport, way bigger than the game of basketball. I feel like we’re on the cusp of finally having people tune in and really try to listen and try to understand more about the things that are happening in our country. I feel like the moment is too big right now and I don’t want the game of basketball to overshadow it.”

Milton said he wanted to know more about how the league plans to highlight social justice and take concrete steps toward making a change.

Milton isn’t the only Sixers player saying he doesn’t like the restart plan, here is what Joel Embiid said on his call with reporters:

“Unfortunately, I’m not a big fan of the idea. But then again, I’m going to do my job. I’m not going to let the city down. I’m going to represent my city — that’s what I’ve always done — my family, my teammates. The mindset doesn’t change. It doesn’t matter the fact that I don’t like that idea and I still don’t believe in it. I don’t think it’s going to be safe enough.”

Even with all those concerns, Milton and Embiid are headed to Orlando with teammates.

Milton is going to be asked to play a big role — possibly starting in place of Al Horford — and bring much-needed shooting and floor spacing to the roster. Philadelphia starts the seeding games July 30 as the six seed but is looking to move up in a tight middle of the East. They are a dark horse threat at the restart — with Embiid, a healthy Ben Simmons, and an elite defense — but they need to find a steady offense while defending well, a combo that eluded them earlier this season.

Stephen Jackson on DeSean Jackson: ‘He’s speaking the truth’

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Philadelphia Eagles wide receiver DeSean Jackson posted a quote incorrectly attributed to Adolph Hitler: “because the white Jews knows that the Negroes are the real Children of Israel and to keep America’s secret the Jews will blackmail America. They will extort America, their plan for world domination won’t work if the Negroes know who they were.”

That was obviously an insane and anti-Semitic conspiracy theory.

The Eagles called Jackson’s statements “offensive, harmful, and absolutely appalling.” Jackson apologized. Then apologized again. He also spoke to a rabbi and pledged to educate himself.

Meanwhile, former NBA player Stephen Jackson is defending DeSean Jackson’s initial comments.

Stephen Jackson in a series of Instagram videos (including one deleted):

So I just read a statement that the Philadelphia Eagles posted regarding DeSean Jackson’s comments. He was trying to educate himself, educate people, and he’s speaking the truth, right? He’s speaking the truth. You know he don’t hate nobody, but he’s speaking the truth of the facts that he knows and trying to educate others. But y’all don’t want us to educate ourselves. If it’s talking about the Black race, y’all ain’t saying nothing about it. They killing us. Police killing us and treating us like s—. Racism at an all-time high. But ain’t none of you NFL owners spoke up on that. Ain’t none of you teams spoke up on that. But the same team had a receiver that  said the word, to say n— publicly! And they gave him an extension! I play for the Big3. We have a Jewish owner. He understands where we stand and some of the things we say, but it’s not directed to him. It’s the way we’ve been treated.

With all this I be saying, and all these facts I be saying too, I try to make everything understandable for y’all, how it ain’t rocket science, how it’s simple, right? And it is people that’s on the side with us. It is people that understand what we saying and not hearing to respond or not hearing to debate what we’re saying. It’s a lot of people that’s listening to us that understanding what we’re saying is right and understanding, we’re not saying that to demean another race. We’re saying it to educate people and understand why we’re hurt, why we want equality. And a lot of people know what’s been done to us. They just ain’t never had the conversation and ain’t never had the guts to admit it. I want to salute Steve Kerr for reaching out. I want to salute the coach from Minnesota for reaching out. I want to salute Mark Cuban for reaching out. I want to salute Adam Silver for reaching out. Because they understand. It ain’t about hate. We just want equality.

Let me say this, too, to finish that last message. I don’t give a f— who I offend. Ain’t nobody gave a f—about offending us all this time. Ain’t nobody standing up when people are saying s—, racist s—, about us. So, no. I don’t give a f—about offending nobody. And that’s just what it is. If you know me, you know I love everybody the same way. But what I’m standing for now – if you don’t understand it, then you never knew me. You was just around me for the wrong reasons. Love for all who have love for all. It’s that simple. If you don’t love everybody, then so be it. That’s on you. But I’m looking to offend you. I’m looking to piss you off. The days of you being comfortable and treating people like s—is over. Big facts.

Jackson also posted a since-deleted message that included:

I don’t know  nothing about hitler and didn’t read d jack message. I’m not reading all that fam. [F—] hitler

Stephen Jackson said DeSean Jackson was “speaking the truth.”

How would Stephen Jackson know DeSean Jackson was speaking the truth without even reading what DeSean Jackson posted? That’s an absurd explanation, one way or the other.

At best, Stephen Jackson ignorantly defended DeSean Jackson. If that’s the case, Stephen Jackson should apologize, and we can all move on with Stephen Jackson merely losing credibility for speaking so strongly about something he didn’t even read.

Instead, Stephen Jackson doubles down.

Calling Big3 owner Jeff Kwatinetz one of the good ones doesn’t excuse Stephen Jackson’s offensive remarks. In fact, it’s remarkably similar to how white people sometimes problematically single out black people deemed acceptable. I wish Jackson would see that.

Stephen Jackson has led in the current movement for racial justice. He raises legitimate concerns about people not caring enough racism, including when former Eagles receiver Riley Cooper said the n-word in 2013.

But the Eagles condemned Cooper’s behavior and fined him. Yes, they later gave him a contract extension. Should they have cut him? There’s room for debate on how teams should handle players who say and do wrong things. It’s happening right now with DeSean Jackson.

The solution to bigotry toward black people, though, is not bigotry toward Jews.

Jackson also went astray when he said racism is at an all-time high. That is completely untrue, and saying otherwise demeans everything people have done to reduce racism. There’s still plenty of work left, but there has been SIGNIFICANT progress. That should be recognized.

Lastly, I don’t think Stephen Jackson knows Ryan Saunders’ name.