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Steve Ballmer succinctly explains why anthem/kneeling not an issue for the NBA

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For the NFL, the issue of players kneeling during the national anthem remains an issue and distraction, in part because it’s a good wedge issue for President Donald Trump. It’s red meat to Trump’s base, other news sources pick it up, and then a rather ridiculous and distracting discussion (that strays from the actual issues) stays in the spotlight.

The anthem has never been a real issue for the NBA (at least not this time around, it was with Mahmoud Abdul-Rauf years ago). When the anthem issue was discussed on HBO’s Real Time With Bill Maher this week, Clippers’ owner Steve Ballmer spoke for the NBA and quickly nailed why it’s not an issue.

That certainly is part of it. From NBA Commissioner Adam Silver on down, the league has encouraged players to speak out on social issues, to use their platforms, to make statements. NBA owners, even ones who politically disagree with the statements, encourage them. The players don’t feel the need to make a statement in the same way.

Part of that is the power dynamic between NBA owners and their star players is different — in the NBA, the elite players have it and own it. In purely practical terms, no NBA owner would push back hard against LeBron James, Chris Paul, Stephen Curry, Kevin Durant, or any other star player on a social justice issue because those teams would feel the backlash quickly. Due to basic supply and demand, elite NBA players have a lot of power and they are learning how to wield it. A team that held back its stars in that way wouldn’t have any stars on the roster very quickly.

However, the primary reason the NBA doesn’t have an anthem issue is its core demographic is different from the NFL’s — it’s younger, it’s more diverse, and it’s more urban. If you prefer the political term, it’s much bluer than the NFL. If an NBA player protested during the anthem there would not be near the same vitriol and pushback from the fanbase, in fact, most would support the move. It’s a key reason President Donald Trump taking Twitter shots at the NBA or is players doesn’t have the same impact.

 

Luka Doncic fined $10k for kicking ball into stands (video)

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Mavericks rookie Luka Doncic got ejected a few days ago for kicking the ball into the crowd, his second technical foul of the game.

That outburst also got him fined.

NBA release:

Dallas Mavericks guard-forward Luka Dončić has been fined $10,000 for kicking the game ball into the spectator stands, it was announced today by Kiki VanDeWeghe, Executive Vice President, Basketball Operations.

The incident, for which Dončić was assessed his second technical foul and ejected, occurred with 3:00 remaining in the third quarter of the Mavericks’ 111-99 loss to the Indiana Pacers on Jan. 19

Players usually get fined $25,000 for throwing something into the stands. But sometimes, they get just a $10,000 fine for that, seemingly if it appears they didn’t intend for the object to reach the crowd.

Did Doncic mean to kick the ball as far as he did?

Who knows? But it seems he got the benefit of the doubt here.

Mike D’Antoni: Not right NBA wouldn’t allow Rockets to trade Carmelo Anthony yesterday

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The Rockets signed Kenneth Faried, importantly to them, before their game against the 76ers yesterday. With Clint Capela injured, Houston needed another big against Joel Embiid.

But the Rockets had to open a roster spot for Faried. Their clear preference was trading Carmelo Anthony. Failing that, they’d release James Nunnally.

Houston agreed to deal Anthony to the Bulls but couldn’t complete the trade because the league office was closed, as is the norm on weekends and holidays (in this case, Martin Luther King Day). So, the Rockets dropped Nunnally, eating the remaining salary on his 10-day contract, increasing their luxury-tax bill and costing him the opportunity to play for a team that could use him.

Houston coach Mike D’Antoni, via Adrian Wojnarowski of ESPN:

“I don’t think it’s right,” Rockets coach Mike D’Antoni said of having to terminate Nunnally. “There’s ways (the league) could have facilitated it.”

What happened to the Rockets was fair in that the rules were clear and applied equally to each team.

But I agree with D’Antoni. Games don’t stop for weekends and holidays. The league office shouldn’t, either.

Teams should have more ability to change their rosters on the fly, because games come so quickly. Halting business for weekends and holidays is antiquated. This is a global, multi-billion-dollar operation now.

The NBA can afford to employ enough people who review trades not to overwork any of them. It’d create a better product and make the sport operate more smoothly.

Stephen Curry slips and falls on wide-open fastbreak, gets ball back, air-balls 3-pointer (video)

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See, the Warriors are fallible.

Though Stephen Curry‘s mishaps coming during a blowout win undercuts the point.

Jaren Jackson Jr. bullies Nikola Mirotic with dunk on him (video)

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Yes, the Grizzlies lost to the Anthony Davis-less Pelicans by 20 last night. Results like that are why there’s thought Marc Gasol could leave Memphis.

But at least plays like this Jaren Jackson Jr. dunk on Nikola Mirotic provide hope for the Grizzlies’ future.

Jackson is a skilled 3-point shooter and rim-protector. Add a mean streak inside offensively, and the rookie could really take off.