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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.

 

Adam Silver likes NBA teams moving away from term ‘owner,’ prefers ‘governor’

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Warriors star Draymond Green has objected to using the term “owner.” The 76ers use “managing partner,” not “owner,” as Josh Harris’ title.

Does NBA commissioner Adam Silver like teams moving away from the term owner?

Silver, via TMZ:

I do. I don’t want to overreact to the term because, as I’ve said earlier, people end up twisting themselves into knots avoiding the use of the word owner. But, we moved away from that term years ago in the league. We call our team owners governor of the team and alternate governors. So, I think it makes sense. As I’ve said, I don’t want to overreact, and you’ll find the word throughout memos over the past decade in the NBA. But I’m sensitive to it, and I think to the extent teams are moving away from the term, we’ll stick with using governor.

Players have gone both ways. I think a few players have actually spoken out and said the greatest thing that ever happened was when Michael Jordan was able to call himself an owner. But, of course, Draymond Green has been very public about the fact that we should be moving away from the term, and I completely respect that.

The elephant in the room: Slavery. The history of white people owning black people is the subtext to this entire discussion. Slavery looms over a league where most owners are white and most player are black.

However, the term “owner” here doesn’t refer to owning the players, but owning the team. “Ownership” has far wider historically usage than slavery. In most fields, “owning” companies – which NBA teams are – doesn’t generate backlash.

Are we too loose with the term “owner” in sports? Perhaps. It’s common to say something like, “Players should strongly consider their potential owners in free agency” rather than “players should strongly consider their potential team’s owners in free agency.”

But there are power differences between players and owners/managing partners/governors/whatever you want to call them. Unless addressing the actual underlying issues, changing terms will accomplish nothing.

Those power dynamics are why the Warriors referred to Mark Stevens as “Mr. Stevens” and Kyle Lowry as Kyle Lowry after Stevens pushed Lowry during the NBA Finals. Those power dynamics are why Donald Sterling took guests into the Clippers’ locker room to ogle players. Those power dynamics are why LeBron James is remembered as the bad guy from The Decision despite Dan Gilbert’s wild letter.

There will always be differences between players and owners. Owners have more money and staying power. But the NBA can create a better, fairer environment for its players.

It’ll just require deeper consideration than a simple word change.

Report: Knicks will roll over cap space if they don’t sign Kevin Durant, Kyrie Irving, Kawhi Leonard

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The Knicks are chasing Kevin Durant and Kyrie Irving. New York will reportedly get a meeting with Kawhi Leonard.

But Irving appears headed to the Nets, and Durant might follow. Leonard appears to favor the Raptors in a two-team race with the Clippers.

Stefan Bondy of the New York Daily News:

New York still believes it’s in the hunt for Kawhi Leonard, Irving and Durant. But, according to a source, the Knicks will punt their $70 million-plus in cap space if they can’t land one of those Tier A free agents.

This plan would require patience Knicks owner James Dolan has rarely shown. The Knicks have missed the playoffs six straight years. Twice during that span – including last season – they posted their worst record in franchise history (17-65). Dolan publicly proclaimed confidence New York would sign major free agents this summer.

He’d really allow the Knicks to delay winning even further?

New York is positioned to wait until 2020 free agency (though Joakim Noah‘s cap hit will remain on the books after an avoidable error). R.J. Barrett and Kevin Knox will still be on relatively cheap rookie-scale contracts. As a second-round pick, Mitchell Robinson is even lower-paid. If they sign players to only one-year contracts this offseason, the Knicks will once again have massive cap room.

But good players generally want multi-year deals. So, New York would be choosing among a far more limited pool of free agents. Another gloomy season would likely await.

And then the 2020 free-agent class looks weak. Especially with Anthony Davis already on the Lakers, there probably won’t be an attainable superstar for the Knicks. There might not even be an attainable star.

Then what? Sacrifice the 2020-21 season to gear up for 2021 free agency? Maybe Barrett, Knox and Robinson develop and send New York on a different track, but that’s far from assured.

The genius of this plan is it allows Knicks president Steve Mills and general manager Scott Perry to keep their jobs while the team continues to stink. There would be no expectations of winning anytime soon – as long as Dolan abides.

Report: Kyrie Irving doesn’t like living in Boston

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Has Kyrie Irving been in contact with the Boston Celtics about his free agency? We have reports that say that Irving has “ghosted” the Celtics… and of course we have counter reports that say just the opposite.

It’s hard to believe anything that swirls around Irving, one of the more enigmatic and tiring personalities in the NBA. At the very least, Irving has appeared to send signals that he is looking to sign with the Brooklyn Nets. Chief among them being that Irving recently fired his longtime representation and signed with Roc Nation, which has a close partnership with the Brooklyn front office.

Boston has had a hard time getting free agents to come to play for the franchise, and that’s before they had a standing beef with Klutch Sports. According to ESPN’s Jackie MacMullan, one of our Irving’s problems with the Celtics was that he simply didn’t like living in Boston.

Via ESPN:

“Kyrie Irving didn’t like Boston. I’ve been told this by many people. He didn’t like living in Boston — he just didn’t. By the end he had issues with Brad, by the end he had issues with Danny… by the end he had issues with pretty much all of us.”

We have heard rumors that things started to go wrong in the Celtics locker room when coach Brad Stevens seemed to openly favor injured star Gordon Hayward a bit too heavily (Hayward played for Stevens at Butler in college).

Meanwhile, Danny Ainge has the propensity to rub folks the wrong way. He makes whatever decision he thinks is the best from a basketball perspective, relationships be damned. We learned that with the Isaiah Thomas trade.

At this juncture it seems unlikely that Irving will return to the Celtics. Meanwhile, we will probably continue to get stories like this out of Boston.

Chris Paul: “I never asked for a trade” and says he’s happy to be in Houston

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With Golden State laid low by injuries (and maybe a defection), Houston should be the team stepping to the front of the line saying “it’s our turn” in the West.

Instead, the Rockets two stars — James Harden and Chris Paul — are feuding, ownership is turning coach Mike D’Antoni into a lame duck, and everyone without a fantastic beard hears their name in trade rumors.

The Harden/Paul feud is real, but Paul tried to downplay it at a charity event in Los Angeles over the weekend, denying a trade request and saying he was happy to be in Houston, as reported by Jonathan Feigen of the Houston Chronicle.

“I never asked for a trade,” Paul said. “I never demanded a trade.”

“I’ll be in Houston,” Paul said. “I’m happy about that. I’m very happy about that. I’m good.”

The report goes on to note Paul was asked if he had to work things out with Harden and he kind of danced around that question but said the issues were around a season-ending loss. Certainly, two straight years of being bounced by the Warriors has the Rockets frustrated. However, there is also a style issue: Harden dominates the ball and likes to work in isolation, Chris Paul can’t be as efficient that way anymore and prefers a more fluid offense (and more pick-and-roll for him). Coach D’Antoni gives a lot of leeway to Harden.

Harden and Paul need to work their issues out because Paul is nearly untradable (unless the Rockets want to throw in a sweetener with a pick or young player). Paul still has value on the court — a master floor general he averaged 15.6 points and 8.2 assists per game last season — but he is 34-years-old, lost a step last season, has an injury history (he played 58 games last season), and is owed $124 million fully guaranteed over the next three seasons. There simply are not teams interested in trading for Paul.

Houston could head into next season the favorites in the West. Part of that depends on how things shake out in free agency (does Kawhi Leonard come West, for example), but a lot of it is just the Rockets getting their act together. I expect Paul and Harden to figure things out, at least well enough to make it work. Mostly because they don’t have a choice. Paul isn’t going anywhere, whether he asked to leave or not.