Michele Roberts: Media spends too much time ‘just standing there, just staring at’ players in locker room

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Kevin Durant told the media, “Y’all don’t know s—.”

The Thunder star later backed off, but National Basketball Players Associate executive director Michele Roberts is carrying the torch.

Roberts, via Kate Fagan of ESPN:

“Most of the time I go to the locker room, the players are there and there are like eight or nine reporters just standing there, just staring at them,” Roberts said. “And I think to myself, ‘OK, so this is media availability?’ If you don’t have a f—ing question, leave, because it’s an incredible invasion of privacy. It’s a tremendous commitment that we’ve made to the media — are there ways we can tone it down? Of course. It’s very dangerous to suggest any limitation on media’s access to players, but let’s be real about some of this stuff.

“I’ve asked about a couple of these guys, ‘Does he ask you a question?’ ‘Nah, he just stands there.’ And when I go in there to talk to the guys, I see them trying to listen to my conversation, and I don’t think that’s the point of media availability. If nothing else, I would like to have a rule imposed, ‘If you have a question, ask it; if you don’t, leave.’ Sometimes, they’re waiting for the marquee players. I get that, but there is so much standing around.”

The locker rooms are open twice per game night for the media. The media has access:

  • For about 30 minutes before games
  • About 10 minutes after a game until the players leave

And yes, both sessions include a lot of standing around.

But Roberts has an obvious misunderstanding of what reporters are doing.

Before games, players aren’t always in the locker room while the media is. I’ve often waited in a locker room for players who are warming up on the court, in the training room or somewhere else outside my purview. With just a 30-minute window, I don’t want to miss my chance to speak with someone by dipping in and out of the locker room.

Plus, as long as the locker rooms are open, many reporters believe that’s where they should be if they have nothing else to do. If news is going to happen in those 30 minutes, it’s more likely to happen in the locker room than anywhere else. Most of the time, you’re just going to see players on their phones (unless Kevin Garnett is around). But you also don’t want to miss the rare time something of consequence happens. Sometimes, players speak unexpectedly.

After games, reporters are usually waiting for players to dress. Most players won’t talk until they’re showered and dressed, and with some guys, that takes a long time. So, we wait. There isn’t as much lingering afterward, because most reporters are on deadline, but there’s plenty of standing around before post-game interviews.

No matter what Roberts thinks, we’re not just standing around to be in the way.

That said, I don’t believe the media should have locker-room access.

Conducting interviews in the locker room is a relic of a different era, a time when not everyone had a camera in their pocket and nearly all reporters were men. Back then, it made sense to have reporters to question athletes while they dressed, allowing athletes to do two tasks at once and leave the stadium sooner.

But, now, I agree with Roberts: It is an invasion of privacy.

The awkward glances toward a player dressing to see when he’s finished and ready to talk are extremely uncomfortable for all parties. And when we crowd around players ready to talk, it’s often difficult to do so without occupying space in front of the locker of a teammate still dressing. Plus, who wants to get dressed in a room full of strangers, no matter how courteous they’re being?

If media policies were being formulated from scratch in 2015, there is no way locker-room access would be implemented. It just isn’t the ideal environment for interviews, not for the reporters and not for the players.

I believe the solution is allowing athletes to shower and dress in private and then entering a room designed for interviews. The media might not like losing access, but I think it’s more than a fair concession. There would be challenges – the NBA would have to commit to getting players into the interview room reasonably quickly rather than allowing them to linger in the locker room – but nothing to difficult to overcome.

Roberts seemingly doesn’t have a full understanding of what she’s discussing here. But that doesn’t mean her underlying conclusion is incorrect.

Luka Doncic with 42-point triple-double, sticks dagger in Spurs for Mavericks win

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Luka Doncic is having a “we’ve got to talk about this guy as a possible MVP” kind of season so far.

The latest addition to the resume: A 42 point, 11 rebounds, 12 assist triple-double to lead the Mavericks past the Spurs. That includes sticking the dagger in the Spurs late.

Dallas won 117-110 and improves to 8-5 on the season.

The 42 points is a career-high for Doncic, and he is the first player in Dallas history to record a 40-point triple-double. This is Doncic’s sixth triple-double of the season.

And he’s still just 20 years old.

Here’s the full list of NBA players who have had 40-point triple-doubles at the age of 20 or younger:

LeBron James
Luka Doncic

That’s it — and that’s some impressive company for Doncic.

Kings’ Buddy Hield fined $25,000 for kicking ball into stands in celebration

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This was a $25,000 celebration by Buddy Hield.

Sacramento led by one in the final seconds against Boston Sunday, but the Celtics had a final shot and Marcus Smart‘s attempt at a game-winning floater hung on the rim seemingly forever… then fell off. The ball was tipped out to mid-court and — as you can see in this video — Heild kicks the ball into the stands as part of the celebration.

Kicking or throwing the ball into the stands is a standing $25,000 fine, and the league came down with that on Hield on Monday. It was not a surprise.

Hield was the reason Sacramento won the game, scoring 35 points to lead the Kings, including going 7-of-12 from three. He’d likely make that trade for the win again.

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.