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

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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.

Rumor: Dwight Howard and Chris Paul stated intent to join Mavericks until Howard backed out

Chris Paul and Dwight Howard
Nathaniel S. Butler/NBAE via Getty Images)
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The Mavericks went from winning the 2011 NBA championship to missing the playoffs within two years.

Somewhat by choice.

Of course, they wanted to remain competitive. But they were willing to accept a lower floor to maintain financial flexibility. They let key players – most notably Tyson Chandler – leave in order to chase bigger stars.

Dallas was repeatedly linked to Chris Paul and Dwight Howard, who could’ve become free agents in 2012 but opted in. They finally hit the market in 2013, but once again spurned the Mavericks. Paul re-signed with the Clippers, and Howard left the Lakers for the Rockets.

Marc J. Spears of The Undefeated:

I really think that they, Chris and Dwight, basically wink, wink said they were going to Dallas, from what I’ve heard, and that Dwight backed out.

Word on the street. But we hear a lot of stories. That’s one story I’ve heard.

This is the peril of making arrangements in underground free agency. They’re unbinding. That was especially true with Howard, who waffled through the Dwightmare with the Magic. The Mavericks might have proceeded in the smartest way, but it backfired. Dallas is only now re-emerging upward with Luka Doncic and Kristaps Porzingis.

This also creates a fun “what if?” How good would Dallas have been? Paul remained elite, but Howard and Dirk Nowitzki were slipping. Where would the Clippers have gone with Blake Griffin and DeAndre Jordan but without Paul? Would they still have held the credibility required to lure Kawhi Leonard and Paul George last summer? Where would Houston have turned without Howard as the star to pair with James Harden?

Serge Ibaka says he nearly goaltended Kawhi Leonard’s iconic shot: ‘I would’ve retired’

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Kawhi Leonard hit one of the biggest shots in NBA history – a buzzer-beater that bounced, bounced, bounced, bounced in during Game 7 of last year’s second-round Raptors-76ers series and propelled Toronto toward an eventual title.

Raptors forward Serge Ibaka, via Josh Lewenberg of TSN:

“I didn’t think it was going in. I was under the basket trying to go for the offensive rebound. The ball was bouncing and one time I was so close to going [for it]. Thank God I didn’t because it could have been goaltending. That would’ve been bad. I would’ve retired. If that had happened I would have retired.”

In hindsight, that would’ve been catastrophic. It would have been been bad at the time, too – but only so bad.

The Bucks, Toronto’s opponent in the Eastern Conference finals, looked better than the Raptors. The Western Conference-winning Warriors were widely viewed as invincible. Few would have thought Ibaka’s goaltend would’ve cost Toronto a championship.

Thankfully for him and the Raptors, we now know better.

Chris Paul refutes report that Michele Roberts is no longer leading union

Michele Roberts, Chris Paul and Luol Deng
Joe Murphy/NBAE via Getty Images
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Michele Roberts got a new four-year term as executive director of the National Basketball Players Association in 2018.

Yet, Peter Vecsey tweeted:

The NBPA responded with a statement on behalf of Chris Paul:

NBPA President Chris Paul’s response to the false information tweeted earlier this evening regarding NBPA Executive Director Michele Roberts:

“Michele Roberts has been and continues to be our fearless leader. The Twitter post that is circulating suggesting Michele is no longer the NBPA Executive Director is untrue. A Search Firm has been hired to advise on union hiring and succession planning, which has not yet begun. In the meantime, the Executive Committee is proud to report that Michele remains the NBPA Executive Director, is very much “in power,” and continues to enjoy the support of our members!”

Roberts led the union through Collective Bargaining Agreement negotiations in 2016. She appears active in running the union now.

Controversially, Roberts rejected cap smoothing when the new national TV deals sent revenue soaring. That adversely affected many union members, though benefited others.

Roberts and Paul have also sometimes prioritized stars, to the dismay of the rank-and-file.

But the overall health of the union appears strong, and Roberts and Paul remain in charge.

‘Off the Dribble’ names All-Sneakerhead team (video)

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On the latest episode of “Off the Dribble,” Jacque Slade named his All-Sneakerhead team. Spoiler alert: The NBA’s shoe king – Rockets forward P.J. Tucker – made it.

Watch to see who else earned a spot.