As the NBA recognizes and honors Juneteenth, a number of Black players have been speaking out at marches, as well as on podcasts and streaming interviews, talking about personal experiences of racism. Specifically, their encounters with police that have shown the systemic racism built into law enforcement nationwide.
Take, for example, Bradley Beal talking Friday at the “Together We Stand” march hosted by the Wizards and the WNBA’s Mystics. Via Eric Woodyard of ESPN.
“It happened here, two years ago. I got pulled over on 495 and the officer asked me to step out of the vehicle. I’m literally on the side of the highway… my wife, me and one of my friends, sitting in the median of the highway, on the side and he comes up to me and says, ‘What if I f— up your Monday and put you on a headline and arrest you right now?’ I didn’t do anything.
“But because I was an athlete, a black athlete driving a nice vehicle, that’s what he came up with. How am I supposed to respond to that? I would just be waking up on Monday morning with an ESPN headline: ‘Bradley Beal arrested because of interaction with police.’ But it happens. It doesn’t just happen to me, it’s everywhere. We just have to stop being ignorant to that fact that it exists.”
It does exist. Without question.
Many other Black athletes — not just NBA players, but from other sports as well — have similar stories. There are countless more stories from Black Americans who don’t have the leverage — the money and name to push back legally as Sterling Brown and others have done — who have far more disturbing stories.
Those stories need to be told — and be heard — as a first step to real change happening. Racism has to be called out, as Lakers’ owner Jeanie Buss did on Friday. It cannot be tolerated, people — especially white people — cannot look the other way.
Good on Beal and John Wall from the Wizards for sharing their stories. It’s a first step down a long road, but an important one.
Joel Embiid injured his ankle in the 76ers’ loss to the Trail Blazers yesterday.
How serious is it?
Noah Levick of NBC Sports Philadelphia:
Joel Embiid is out for Tuesday’s game against the Suns with the left ankle injury he sustained in the first quarter Sunday vs. the Blazers. He’ll be undergoing treatment and evaluation at the team’s practice Monday night.
Brett Brown said he expected Embiid to play again before the playoffs, though characterized that view as “just one man’s opinion.”
That sounds like great news for Philadelphia, which is already without Ben Simmons.
Embiid can be dominant. With him, the 76ers still have a chance of advancing in the playoffs. It might even be easier to create space around Embiid – where Embiid can really feast – without Simmons (though the loss of the talented Simmons lowers Philadelphia’s ceiling).
However, the 76ers don’t deserve benefit of the doubt for setting accurate injury timelines, particularly with Embiid. There’s an element of “see it to believe it” here.
As J.J. Redick stared into the distance, he had to see this coming.
Redick will miss the playoffs for the first time in his 14-year career. His Pelicans were eliminated from the postseason race yesterday.
At 13 years, Redick’s playoff streak is tied for the 13th-longest in NBA history. No current player has a longer streak at any point his career. LeBron James also had a 13-year playoff streak (which was snapped last year).
Here are the longest individual postseason streaks in NBA history:
Obviously, some of Redick’s streak was out of his control. He got drafted in 2006 by the Magic, who were rising with Dwight Howard. But Redick’s competitiveness and professionalism made him a steady contributor, and he chose winning situations with the Clippers then 76ers.
But New Orleans was too flawed to make a major leap in this Western Conference.
This clears the way for Bucks wing Kyle Korver to take over the longest active playoff streak. He has played in the last 12 postseasons, and Milwaukee has already clinched a playoff berth.
Here are the longest postseason streaks that could remain active this year.
Players whose teams have already clinched a playoff berth are in blue. Players whose teams are still in the race but haven’t clinched are in gold.
Players are listed with the teams they made the postseason with during their streaks. If they haven’t reached the playoffs with their current team, that team is listed in brackets:
Another testing issue for Deandre Ayton.
This one comes at a terrible time for the Suns.
Phoenix is trying to complete a longshot run to the playoffs and playing the Thunder in a key game today. But Ayton arrived late to the arena after missing a coronavirus test yesterday.
Shams Charania of The Athletic:
Like many Suns, Ayton has played well in the resumption. Phoenix doesn’t have another big-man option like him, especially with Aron Baynes sidelined. The Suns started Dario Saric in a small lineup today.
Ayton arrived to the arena and is warming up on an exercise bike. He could still get into the game and make a difference.
Already locked into the 4-6 range in the Western Conference and perhaps trying to keep its top-20-protected first-round pick, Oklahoma City is playing without Shai Gilgeous-Alexander, Danilo Gallinari, Steven Adams, Nerlens Noel and Dennis Schroder. None of those will players will make a late entrance into the game.
Also: It’s ridiculous this wasn’t publicly disclosed sooner. The NBA continues to tout transparency while trying to draw more gambling revenue. Yet, a major lineup issue like this remains secret? That opens the door for some bettors to get inside information, which would be so damaging to the league’s integrity.
The Kings’ 2018-19 season ended with optimism.
Facing a meager over/under of 25.5 wins, Sacramento surged to 39 wins – its best record in 13 years. Under Dave Joerger, the Kings played a fast and fun style. De'Aaron Fox made historic improvements. Buddy Hield broke out. Several other young players showed promise.
Sure, the Kings missed the playoffs for a 13th straight season – matching the second-longest playoff drought in NBA history. But they were on track to end the skid soon enough.
Except, of course that’s not how it went in Sacramento.
The Kings were eliminated from the postseason chase yesterday, ensuring a 14th straight season outside the playoffs. That alone is now NBA’s the second-longest-ever postseason drought, breaking a tie with the Timberwolves (2005-17). Only the Buffalo Braves/San Diego/Los Angeles Clippers’ 15-year non-playoff streak (1977-91) is longer.
Here are the longest postseason droughts in NBA history:
The Suns could still reach 10 straight years outside the playoffs, but they’re still in the race this season.
The Kings might not be far from climbing this list, either.
Their future looks far bleaker than a year ago. Sacramento fired Joerger to hire Luke Walton, who has underwhelmed. Buddy Hield signed a lucrative contract extension then had a rough season. Fox progressed, though he didn’t make the desired leap into stardom. Other young players had ups and downs. Luka Doncic casts an even larger shadow from Dallas. The Kings’ organizational turmoil continues.
This was a feel-bad season in Sacramento, anyway. All the preceding losing only adds to the misery.
The Kings enter next season with one last chance to avoid the longest playoff drought in NBA history, and they do have a chance. But there’s only pessimism now.