Bucks’ Sterling Brown vows to work with police after stun gun incident

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SACRAMENTO, Calif. (AP) — Sterling Brown hopes his efforts to work alongside law enforcement on improving practices used during arrests and stops will one day mean other black men don’t have to go through what he endured last year.

Just more than 13 months after police used a stun gun on him in the early morning hours at a Milwaukee Walgreens store, Brown knows he has an important responsibility to use his experience to make a difference.

“I have a platform now and I’m going to use it to help bring awareness and help bring change,” Brown said.

The Bucks guard insists he long moved forward from the ordeal, during which he felt the use of a stun gun was excessive and that he was targeted because he’s black. As a professional athlete, that’s what he gets paid to do: Let go of the failures and tough moments in a hurry. On to the next city, the next game. A new challenge.

“I’ve been emotionally, spiritually, physically stable since the incident happened,” Brown said while sitting courtside with The Associated Press after a shootaround during the Bucks’ recent visit to Sacramento. “… At the end of the day, I’m a professional and I’ve got a job to do and I’ve got to handle my business. There’s no sympathy if I’m down and out and complaining about it. It’s just next man up. I’ve got a profession that requires me to display it at all times. That really is what helped me just keep things flowing.”

Brown spoke on the same day the Bucks and Sacramento Kings hosted a summit to bring awareness about social injustice and to work to improve communication and relations between law enforcement, community leaders and citizens with the hopes of effecting change. Sacramento was rocked last year by the fatal shooting of Stephon Clark, an unarmed black man, and the intense protests that ensued. People joined hands outside the Kings’ downtown Golden 1 Center and blocked entrances. Former Kings center DeMarcus Cousins, now with the Warriors, paid for Clark’s funeral, then wore the man’s name on his shoes last Saturday night, hours after a district attorney decided not to charge two officers who killed Clark.

Brown acknowledges his relationship with police will likely never be the same after his encounter in Milwaukee and that it will always be extremely difficult to give law enforcement the benefit of the doubt.

“It’s what they do that gives the trust, so if they’re not responding accordingly to how they’re supposed to and according to the Constitution – they’re not doing things constitutionally – then you wouldn’t even be able to trust them,” Brown said. “If you were in my situation, you wouldn’t come out trusting them, and they violated your rights.”

Still, he is prepared to work with police in training exercises to make for better interactions in various situations.

A couple of weeks before his 23rd birthday on Jan. 26, 2018, Brown had been on a date when he made what was expected to be a brief stop. He parked in a handicap space.

Brown had been talking with officers while waiting for a citation outside the Walgreens at about 2 a.m. when officers took him down because he didn’t immediately remove his hands from his pockets as ordered. An officer yelled: “Taser! Taser! Taser!”

Police released body-camera footage that showed how a simple interaction over the illegally parked car quickly escalated.

“I feel like when the video came out that confirmed everything for a lot of people, but the Bucks did show nothing but support from Day 1, as well as my teammates and a lot of fans and definitely my family and friends,” Brown said.

Almost four months after the arrest, Brown received a formal apology from the city’s police chief, who said the officers had “acted inappropriately” and been disciplined.

Brown later filed a lawsuit saying his treatment for a parking violation constituted excessive force and that police unfairly targeted him because of his skin color.

“The police, they’re supposed to come to the rescue and when they are called to come to the rescue and they don’t handle the situation accordingly, then there’s things that have to be done different to make sure that they do come to the scene and do the correct thing,” he said. “I really just want to get more involved in some of their training tactics.”

Brown appreciated the Kings and Bucks putting on the summit, and plans to work with American Civil Liberties Union nationwide to increase his reach if possible.

He knows his platform can be a positive one after his encounter with Milwaukee police, who declined to comment for this story.

“The ACLU in Milwaukee did a few things to improve discipline tactics and training tactics for police officers,” Brown said. “I want to use it to educate kids. I want to use it to start programs and start different events that give kids things to do instead of being in the streets, to lessen the amount of contact they have with police officers. It’s a lot that I plan on doing. It’s going to take a lot of people. It’s going to take a strong push but I’m looking forward to it.”

His team has been supportive.

Bucks co-owner Marc Lasry said he was initially surprised by the incident because it didn’t sound like Brown – and there was never a question about the franchise backing the young player based on observations of how he had conducted himself.

“You try to get to know your players, just as people, and Sterling in my opinion was just a great kid,” Lasry said. “It didn’t make sense. … As we got more and more information we sort of came to a crossroads: There’s Sterling’s side and there was the other side. For us as an organization, we ended up coming down on Sterling’s side, simply because we knew him as a person. Nobody really knew all the facts until the video came out, but we wanted to back him.”

Brown’s attorney, Mark Thomsen, called the Bucks’ response “significant” as well as the efforts by the two franchises separated by more than half the country.

Clark’s death on March 18, 2018, prompted Kings owner Vivek Ranadive to pledge his support and vow to address the issue over the long haul.

“When you have two primary institutions saying they’re going to back the players it really sends a message on the street,” Thomsen said.

And that, for Brown, is a positive first step.

 

NBA world reacts to video of Draymond Green punching Jordan Poole

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“How did that video get leaked?”

That was the primary reaction of players on Twitter after TMZ got ahold of the practice video showing Draymond Green punching Jordan Poole during a Warriors practice. The video has gone viral in NBA circles and brought an issue the Warriors hoped was in the rearview mirror front and center again.

Trae Young played the instigator on Twitter with his response (although the rumor of Green wanting to join the Lakers if the Warriors don’t extend him has been floating around the league for a while).

While some other players talked about the incident, most players were focused on how something they consider private — a practice — became public.

Former Grizzlies executive John Hollinger posted the response of the 29 other teams.

Leaked video of Draymond Green punch of Jordan Poole means incident not just going away

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The Warriors thought they had the situation handled. Sure, Draymond Green punched Jordan Poole during practice but Green apologized to the team and discipline was being handled “internally.” Nothing to see here, move along.

Then TMZ got ahold of a leaked practice video that shows things being much uglier than most imagined.

It shows Green and Poole had their beef and were talking, Green walked up on Poole, then Poole pushed him away with two hands and Green came back with a vicious punch to the face that was a massive escalation.

The Warriors do not practice on Friday and nobody from the organization is scheduled to speak to the media. Green is expected to rejoin his teammates in practice on Saturday, coach Steve Kerr said previously.

The Warriors likely will say this changes nothing, they had already seen the video before settling on a punishment. Plus, punches have been thrown in NBA practices more times than anyone could count — including Kerr getting punched by Michael Jordan in a legendary Bulls practice.

But there was never video like this leaked before.

It increases the inherent tension around the situation, keeps the news cycle alive and gives fans (and media pundits) some context and facts to discuss whether the Warriors are letting Green off easy.

It will also bubble up the subtext to all this about the Warriors’ future spending, something NBC Sports Bay Area’s Dalton Johnson and I discussed on a PBT Podcast previewing the Warriors’ season. Co-owner Joe Lacob has said that the Warriors’ salary and tax limit will make it hard to extend all three of Andrew Wiggins, Poole and Green at the prices they expect. Poole, the youngest of the group and a bridge to the future, is going to get his money (probably a little more than Tyler Herro just got from the Heat). There’s been speculation that Green would be the odd man out (or would have to be willing to take a paycut to stay), he can opt-out and be a free agent this summer.

The Warriors thought this fight was in the rearview mirror. Green and Poole would have to address it with the media at some point, but the Warriors wanted to move on and focus on the season and their upcoming ring ceremony.

The leaked video changes that dynamic. The controversy remains on the front page and the Warriors will have to deal with it.

The only thing that is certain in all this is that the Warriors will investigate who leaked the video and then fire that person.

 

Adam Silver hopes teams don’t tank for Wembanyama. Good luck with that.

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Victor Wembanyama came to Las Vegas this week and put the hype machine into overdrive: In two games against the G-League Ignite he scored 73 points with 15 rebounds, nine blocks, hit 9-of-18 3-pointers (and 22-of-44 overall). He is a 7’4″ freak that LeBron James called an “alien” and a “generational talent,” and Stephen Curry said he was a “2K create-a-player.”

Combine that with the play of the Ignite’s Scoot Henderson — who had scouts using a young Derrick Rose comparison because of his athleticism, body control and skill — and the reaction in NBA circles was clear: There will be a “race to the bottom” this season. With multiple franchise cornerstone players available (and a deep draft at the top beyond those two), tanking will be an epidemic in the NBA.

Adam Silver, speaking in the United Arab Emirates before an NBA preseason game between the Bucks and Hawks, does not want to see teams tanking for Wembanyama.

Good luck with that, Adam.

The league office hates tanking and even a discussion of it. They hate the idea of a fan base being told — or, worse yet, actively rooting for — their team to lose games. This season there will be an epidemic of it around the league. In a typical year, a front office may want to tank but their challenge is getting buy-in from ownership. Not this year — Wembanyama could add $500 million to the value of a franchise, one league executive told ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski.

It could make the NBA trade deadline in February wild as teams that started the season thinking playoffs but were out of the mix (due to injury or just not being good enough) pivot to tanking. For example, think Portland from last season after Damian Lillard had surgery. Of course, the Trail Blazers also can serve as a cautionary tale — they had the sixth-worst record in the league last season but fell to seventh in the draft. Tanking doesn’t always work.

There were already were teams clearly in rebuild mode and racing to the bottom this season — do you think it’s a coincidence Danny Ainge blew up the Jazz this past summer? — and some other teams with some promising young talent (Houston, Orlando) that are fine losing a lot of games while those guys learn on the job. But the bottom of the standings could get crowded.

The NBA flattened out the lottery odds a few years ago to discourage tanking: The teams with the three worst records have a 14% chance to get the top pick and the odds drop from there (fourth is 12.5%, fifth is 10.5%, and it keeps on going down). However, this year, because the prize at the top of the draft is so huge, more teams than ever could try to get into that top three, or at least do what they can to fatten their odds.

However, with the prize being Wembanyama this season, a lot of teams may be willing to take that risk.

Despite what Adam Silver wants.

 

Joel Embiid has Olympic-sized decision to make: France or USA

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HENDERSON, Nev. (AP) — Joel Embiid has two choices: the red, white and blue of the U.S., or the blue, white and red of France.

An Olympic medal might hinge on his decision.

France is still hopeful that Embiid – the reigning NBA scoring champion – will choose to wear its colors for the 2024 Paris Olympics even though he recently became an American citizen, national team coach Vincent Collet said Thursday.

Embiid, the Philadelphia 76ers star, may choose to play internationally for the U.S. or France, but not both. It was widely presumed that he would play for France at the Paris Games and possibly even next year’s Basketball World Cup in the Philippines, until Embiid revealed last week that he now has American citizenship as well.

“Now he has both nationalities, and he has to choose one basketball nationality, which is not the same,” Collet told The Associated Press. “So, that is a choice. Nobody can do anything to change it.”

Embiid told AP last week that it’s too early to think about a decision. By rule, he will eventually have to declare a choice to FIBA, the sport’s international governing body, if he decides that he wants to play at the Olympics or World Cup.

France is the reigning Olympic silver medalist and is planning to have a team featuring Rudy Gobert, Evan Fournier, Nicolas Batum – and, quite likely, top NBA draft prospect Victor Wembanyama – at the Paris Games. France’s plan is to essentially take what will be its Olympic roster to the World Cup next year.

Without Embiid, that French core has been extremely formidable. On top of the 2021 silver in Tokyo, France won bronze at the 2019 World Cup and silver again at this year’s European championships.

With Embiid, that group would figure to be even better. Collet said Boris Diaw, the general manager of the French national team, has been in contact with Embiid to discuss options.

“I know he met some of our players to discuss,” Collet said. “I think he should play with us. But we will see. We will respect his decision whatever it is.”

Embiid was born in Cameroon and has held French citizenship. He has a Brazilian girlfriend – their son is American – went to high school in Florida and played college basketball at Kansas.

The five-time NBA All-Star and four-time All-NBA selection has spent his entire pro career with Philadelphia, averaging 26.0 points in his first six seasons and a career-best 30.6 points on his way to the scoring crown last season.