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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.

 

Jamal Murray lived in “Schitt’s Creek” Rosebud Motel for two years

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A once-rich-now-suddenly-poor family adjusting to living cramped together in a roadside motel is the premise behind “Schitt’s Creek” — the Canadian comedy that just annoyingly dominated the Emmy comedy categories. (It’s not that “Schitt’s Creek” isn’t deserving, I enjoy the show, it’s just annoying when any single show/movie dominates an awards broadcast.)

Jamal Murray watches that show and sees his former home.

Murray, Denver’s breakout superstar and a Canadian, lived in the “Schitt’s Creek” Rosebud Motel for two years, reports Chris Halliday of the Orangeville Banner, via the Toronto Star (hat tip to Hoopshype).

The real-life motel is owned by Jesse Tipping, who also is the president of the Athlete Institute Basketball Academy and Orangeville Prep.

Tipping purchased the motel in 2011 to house recruits for what’s become the most successful prep school basketball program in Canada. Former Orangeville Prep alum and budding NBA superstar Jamal Murray, of the Denver Nuggets, lived there for two years — so did Miami Heat training camp invitee Kyle Alexander.

It’s also been a filming location for a number of things, including “The Umbrella Academy” and “A History of Violence.” “Schitt’s Creek” has used the place for about a month every year for the past six years.

The popular comedy, which just ended its run, features veteran comedic actors Eugene Levy and Catherine O’Hara, plus Eugene’s son Dan Levy, plus many more. “Schitt’s Creek” was first produced by the CBC for Canadian television, came to America on POP TV, but exploded when it got to Netflix and people discovered it.

Jamal Murray went from the “Schitt’s Creek” to Kentucky for a year, before being drafted by the Denver Nuggets as their point guard to pair with Nikola Jokic. Murray has had a breakout playoffs, leading the Nuggets to the Western Conference Finals. He’s made ridiculous plays on the court and powerful statements off it about the Black Lives Matter movement.

Rumor: 76ers could hire Mike D’Antoni to lure James Harden

Mike D'Antoni and James Harden at Rockets-76ers game
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Former Rockets coach Mike D’Antoni seemingly has a good relationship with James Harden.

The 76ers are reportedly interested in hiring D’Antoni.

Coincidence?

John Clark of NBC Sports Philadelphia:

If this is the 76ers’ plan, it’s foolish. Stars don’t pick teams to play for a specific coach.

Stars want, among the things in Philadelphia’s control, winning environments. Pick the coach who can help build and maintain that.

Maybe that’s D’Antoni. He had plenty of success with the Rockets and Suns. But choose him for the right reasons – not some Harden pipe dream.

Harden can become a free agent in 2022, but he’d have to decline a $47,366,760 player option for his age-33 season. Otherwise, he’s headed toward 2023 unrestricted free agency. The 76ers would have a tough time clearing max cap space in either offseason.

A trade is possible. Ben Simmons and Joel Embiid are intriguing chips if Philadelphia becomes willing to trade one. Harden has the cachet to have some say in a trade destination. But Houston has been committed to winning around Harden. With an older team built around Harden, the Rockets couldn’t simply pivot into a new direction with Simmons or Embiid.

In fairness to the 76ers, this is the type of rumor that spreads baselessly. People see D’Antoni’s awkward fit with Philadelphia’s roster and make wild guesses about the team’s motivation. That doesn’t necessarily match the 76ers’ internal reasoning.

Jamal Murray is having a great playoffs. Has he arrived for good?

Nuggets guard Jamal Murray
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Jamal Murray shot 4-for-18 in the Nuggets’ Game 7 loss to the Trail Blazers last year.

“I didn’t have the game I was supposed to have,” Murray said.

Supposed to have. What a telling glimpse into Murray’s mindset. He was raised to be an NBA star. Anything less was just… wrong.

Well, Murray is having the games he’s supposed to have now.

The Denver guard is the breakout star of the playoffs. He’s averaging 27 points per game while shooting 54% on 2-pointers and 47% on 3-pointers. He’s passing better and playing sharper defense, helping the Nuggets reach the Western Conference finals

Not bad for someone who not only has never been an All-Star, but hasn’t drawn much serious All-Star consideration.

Is this sustainable? Has Murray made The Leap? Or is a streaky player having a well-timed hot stretch? Is he somehow particularly benefitting from the unique conditions of the bubble?

Murray has increased his PER from 17.7 in the regular season to 24.7 in the playoffs. That’s one of the biggest jumps in NBA history – especially among players on such a deep postseason run.

Marcus Camby posted a PER of 17.8 as a rookie with the Raptors and hovered around that mark with the Knicks in his third season. Then, he broke out during New York’s run to the 1999 NBA Finals. The big man played well off the bench then really elevated his game once Patrick Ewing got hurt. He finished with a postseason PER of 24.8.

Camby had several productive seasons with the Knicks and Nuggets afterward. But he never quite matched the hype he built during the 1999 playoffs.

Which is the norm for players who made postseason surges like that.

Here are the largest PER increases from a previous regular-season high to a postseason (minimum: 500 minutes in each segment):

Just four of the 15 players on that chart matched their breakthrough playoff PER in a future regular season:

  • As a rookie, Oliver Miller came up big off the bench for the Suns in their run to the 1993 NBA Finals. He continued to improve in his second season then signed a lucrative contract with the Pistons in 1994. But amid weight issues, never sustained his production.
  • Anthony Mason began his professional career overseas then spent a couple seasons hopping between minor leagues and deep-bench roles in the NBA.  He signed with the Knicks in 1991, played well and got a bigger role the next season. By the 1993 playoffs, he was really clicking. That was truly a sign of things to come. Mason became a quality starter for the Knicks, Hornets and Heat, even making an All-Star team with Miami.
  • Danny Ainge really stepped up during Celtics’ legendary run to the 1986 championship. He was in his fifth season and seemed to understand his capabilities as a player. His prime continued from there with Boston then the Kings, Trail Blazers and Suns.
  • Gail Goodrich began his career with the Lakers, grew steadily, got picked by the Suns in an expansion draft, made an All-Star team while shooting a lot for a lousy Phoenix team then got traded back to the Lakers. That’s when he really found himself. Goodrich parlayed his strong 1971 playoffs into a higher level of play and four straight All-Star selections with Los Angeles.

Otherwise, these were blips – magical runs that couldn’t be repeated. LeBron James is great. He can’t sustain the 37.4 PER he had during the 2009 playoffs. (For perspective, Giannis Antetokounmpo broke the single-season PER record with a 31.9 this season.)

But could Murray be another exception?

Maybe.

For one, this wasn’t completely out of left field. The Nuggets already gave him a max extension expecting this type of growth. (That might have turned into a super-max extension if All-NBA included the playoffs).

Murray is just 23. This looks somewhat like natural progression.

He has excelled against tough defenses in the Jazz, Clippers and Lakers. Murray wasn’t merely taking advantage of favorable matchups. He’s producing, regardless – though the challenge is rising.

Murray also appeared on the chart last year (as did teammate Nikola Jokic). Murray is clearly improving. Maybe there’s something in his ability to rise to the occasion in the playoffs, too.

On the other hand, some of this is clearly unsustainable. Though Murray is good at making difficult shots, his 47% shooting from beyond the arc will come back down to earth.

Denver’s playoff run will likely end soon, too. Despite the easy 3-1 jokes, the Nuggets will probably fall to the Lakers. There’s a reason Denver’s comebacks against the Jazz and Clippers were so impressive. Teams down 3-1 almost always lose. That’s still true.

But Murray’s run could be just beginning.

Report: Danuel House apologized to Rockets before leaving bubble

Rockets forward Danuel House
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Rockets forward Danuel House left the bubble after the NBA determined he “had a guest” – reportedly a female coronavirus tester – “in his hotel room over multiple hours on September 8 who was not authorized to be on campus.”

House reportedly maintained his innocence.

At least to NBA investigators.

Kelly Iko of The Athletic:

From what I understand, House apologized to the entire team before exiting the bubble.

I wonder what exactly House apologized for. An apology isn’t necessarily an admission of wrongdoing. But this at least implies he came clean in the end.

Houston missed House, who had been playing very well off the bench. The Rockets split the first two games of their second-round series against the Lakers then dropped three straight without him.

Was that slide all because of House’s absence? No. Would Houston have beaten the Lakers with House? Probably not.

But the Rockets had a chance at a championship this year, and their odds shrunk sans House. With James Harden, Russell Westbrook and P.J. Tucker aging, these opportunities won’t keep coming around forever.

House – who has two more seasons left on his contract – might need to regain trust of this team. He’s not good enough to get preferential treatment. Role players must do their part to fit in.