AP Photo/Mark Lennihan

WNBA fines teams, players for black warmup shirts

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NBA commissioner Adam Silver often gets caught between his personal progressiveness and the fact he’s running a multi-billion-dollar business.

My favorite example: When asked about players wearing “I Can’t Breathe” shirts a couple years ago, Silver always started by enthusiastically praising them speaking their minds then added a caveat. Seemingly sighing, Silver noted he preferred the players follow the league’s on-court dress code.

I found it all quite charming.

But NBA players made their point then quit wearing the shirts. In the WNBA, where the Minnesota Lynx wore anti-violence shirts that caused off-duty police to walk off their security jobs, it has been a prolonged protest.

And now, that league has reached a point Silver seemingly dreaded the NBA reaching.

Doug Feinberg of the Associated Press:

The WNBA has fined the New York Liberty, Phoenix Mercury and Indiana Fever and their players for wearing black warm up shirts in the wake of recent shootings by and against police officers.

All three teams were fined $5,000 and each player was fined $500.

The Liberty have worn the plain black shirts four times, including Wednesday morning against Washington. The Mercury and Fever wore them Tuesday night. While the shirts were the Adidas brand – the official outfitter of the league – WNBA rules state that uniforms may not be altered in any way.

“We are proud of WNBA players’ engagement and passionate advocacy for non-violent solutions to difficult social issues but expect them to comply with the league’s uniform guidelines,” WNBA President Lisa Borders said in a statement provided to The Associated Press on Wednesday night.

The league sent out a memo earlier this week to the teams reminding them of the uniform policy.

The NBA and WNBA are businesses — not civil-rights organizations. I’m OK with the leagues acting like the businesses they are, except the way they also hold themselves up as moral leaders first.

The WNBA’s president tries to have it both ways, and it clearly doesn’t work. Phoenix Mercury’s Mistie Bass sees right through it:

The WNBA surely didn’t want to reach this point — fining players for social activism to protect a brand. The NBA doesn’t, either.

It’s OK for players to wear a protest shirt once. Multiple times and after the league sent a memo? That’s the breaking point set by the NBA’s sister league. We’ll see whether any NBA players similarly challenge authority now that they know the line.

Trae Young gets ankles absolutely destroyed by Dejounte Murray (video)

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The Hawks got Trae Young his desired help, trading for Jeff Teague.

Maybe Young will do his part and step up on defense.

That didn’t happen on this possession against Spurs guard Dejounte Murry.

At least Young continued his breakout season on the other end, scoring 31 points and dishing nine assists in Atlanta’s rare victory in San Antonio.

Tristan Thompson slaps Jae Crowder’s rear end, gets ejected (video)

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What is it about Cleveland athletes slapping butts and getting in trouble?

Browns wide receiver Odell Beckham Jr. faces a simple battery charge for slapping a police officer’s backside in LSU’s locker room after the College Football Playoff National Championship.

Last night, Cavaliers center Tristan Thompson got ejected for slapping Grizzlies forward Jae Crowder‘s behind.

Thompson and Crowder got double technical fouls earlier in the game. So, Thompson got ejected with a tech for this incident between free throws.

Though the two are former Cleveland teammates, Crowder didn’t look amused. Crowder doesn’t play.

The Cavs rallied without Thompson, but Memphis won, 113-109.

Kyle Lowry flings in wild 3-pointer (video)

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Kyle Lowry had the ball in his left hand when he felt contact. Not only did he try to sell a foul by flailing his arms, the right-hander tried to draw a shooting foul by hurling an off-balance 31-footer toward the basket.

No continuation. No whistle at all.

But Lowry made the shot, anyway.

Lowry and the Raptors will take it, but they didn’t need a break like that against the Wizards’ dismal defense last night. Toronto won, 140-111.

Knicks rookie R.J. Barrett out at least a week with right ankle sprain

R.J. Barrett
Stacy Revere/Getty Images
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NEW YORK (AP) New York Knicks rookie R.J. Barrett will miss at least a week with a sprained right ankle.

Barrett was hurt during the Knicks’ loss to Phoenix on Thursday. On Friday, he had X-rays, which were negative.

The Knicks announced afterward that Barrett will be re-evaluated in a week.

The No. 3 pick in the draft from Duke is averaging 14.1 points.