Philadelphia 76ers
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76ers say they’ll investigate claim of bullying, racism within dance team

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A former member of the 76ers’ dance team, Yahne Coleman, alleges racism and bullying within the squad and that the organization’s HR ignored her complaints.

Coleman detailed her claims on Instagram, including a video she says is of another former dance-team member, Annie Weiss (warning: profanity):

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First of all Thank you @treysongz , @hollywoodunlocked and you amazing people showing me support. I was scared to release this because I was bullied and racially targeted by my 76ers NBA teammates and former Teammates. I went to my coach Dayna Haftez and the Sixers organization crying out for help so many times. I sent the video above of me being racially profiled, bullied and threatened to my coach Dayna Haftez, Lara Price the 76ers Senior Vice President of Business and HR seeking help and nothing was done. They would move my things into the bathroom stall for me to get ready for games. They would make fun of my pictures in a group chat, talking about my black features and send me videos threatening my safety. I did not want them to run me away from a dream I always wanted to accomplish so I tried my hardest to remain strong through it all. I went through this for 3 years. When I auditioned for my 4th year this group of girls called me the night before on the phone saying “your BLACK ass will not be coming back”. I still went to the tryouts and unfortunately that was the end of my 76ers dance team career. It didn’t stop there. They proceeded to harass me by calling and leaving hateful racial videos saying they would come to the slums of West Philly Ghetto and physically harm me. I’m not from the ghetto and never lived in the ghetto but because I’m black they decided to say this laughing and giggling. They went around asking about me, finding out where I worked and called my employment saying things to get me fired. I would hate for this group of women who are still working and connected to the @sixers @philadelphiaflyers to hurt another young talented black girl. Sadly, I let this racial bullying incident from this group of women deter me from my dancing career. The women who racially bullied me – Annie Weiss aka Annie Fuhrman her pages @ mommycanyou @ projectstillhuman, Nicole Vernile Current Captain @76ersent , Kerri McDonald Current Dance Coach @76ersent , Danielle Dematteo @philadelphiaflyers Dance Coach, Malinda Ruth , Erica Hammel , Val Dematteo , Julie Kaskiw, Lauren Schwer, Krystal Almora aka Krystal Gregorio @KrystalAlmora , Coach Dayna Hafetz

A post shared by Yahné Coleman (@yahneofficial) on

Coleman also said Lara Price – who’s currently listed in the 76ers’ media guide as “Executive Vice President, Chief Operating Officer, Harris Blitzer Sports & Entertainment, 76ers” – did nothing after Coleman went to her.

Weiss posted an apology:

76ers statement, via Noah Levick of NBC Sports Philadelphia:

Tonight, we were made aware of social media posts involving former dance team members that contained insensitive, offensive and unacceptable remarks, as well as allegations of bullying and racist behavior.

“The videos, which were filmed in 2016, featured derogatory comments from a former dance team member who left the organization in 2013.

“We take this situation very seriously. We intend to investigate this matter immediately and remain committed to fostering a culture of inclusion and equality.

Hopefully the 76ers don’t stop at investigating the bullying and racism specifically alleged here (which is quite concerning) – but also examine whether HR properly addressed Coleman’s complaint at the time. A well-functioning human-resources department is essential for properly handling issues that arise in the future.

Russell Westbrook suffers strained quadriceps, out Friday, could miss playoff games

Russell Westbrook injury
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The Houston Rockets are going to be a trendy pick to make a deep in the West playoffs, but that will be hard to envision if Russell Westbrook misses time.

Rockets GM Daryl Morey announced that an MRI revealed Westbrook has a strained quadriceps muscle in his right leg. He is not playing today (Wednesday) against the Pacers and will be out Friday against the 76ers as well. He will be re-evaluated before the playoff tip-off next week, but his status for those games is unclear.

Westbrook has been just a little off at the restart. He averaged 27.2 points per game during the regular season, but that has been down to 24.3 in the Orlando restart. His 53.6 true shooting percentage for the season (near the league average) fell to 50% in the bubble.

The Rockets have been a strong 4-2 in the bubble with their small-ball system and have held on to the four seed, but they haven’t completely found a rhythm yet (as we saw pre-shutdown. In a likely first-round matchup with Oklahoma City, Houston would need Westbrook and his explosive athleticism.

Without Westbrook expect more of Eric Gordon, who just returned to the rotation Wednesday from injury, plus Austin Rivers, Ben McLemore, even maybe Jeff Green — with a switchable roster Mike D’Antoni has a lot of options to soak up those minutes.

He just doesn’t have anyone as good.

Celtics sign coach Brad Stevens to contract extension

Celtics coach Brad Stevens
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The Celtics shocked by hiring Brad Stevens from Butler in 2013. He was a mid-major college coach, and even big-time college coaches rarely translated to the NBA. In fact, Stevens was viewed as such a college coach, rumors of him returning to that level persisted for years.

But Stevens has turned into a quintessential NBA coach. Despite taking over amid a rebuild, Stevens has won 56% of his games with Boston. It’s difficult to see him anywhere else.

Especially now.

Celtics release:

The Boston Celtics have signed head coach Brad Stevens to a contract extension, the team announced today.

Stevens, who previously signed a contract extension in 2016, is one of the NBA’s top coaches. He implements crisp schemes on both ends of the floor and communicates roles clearly to his players. At just 43, he could rival some of the longest coaching tenures in NBA history.

There are still questions about Stevens’ ability to coach stars. They might become more pronounced as Jayson Tatum and Jaylen Brown ascend.

But that’s a first-world NBA problem – having a coach who raises his team’s level and premier talent young players who could lift it even higher.

Another week, still zero players test positive at NBA restart

NBA COVID-19
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It’s starting to sound routine, but it shouldn’t — that the NBA is pulling off an impressive feat keeping COVID-19 outside the bubble (just watch other sports try to come back).

The league announced that 342 players were tested for COVID-19 on the NBA campus in the past week and there were zero confirmed positive tests. The league has had no positive tests inside the NBA bubble since it started.

It’s a testament to the tone Commissioner Adam Silver set (working with Chris Paul and the players’ union) setting a tone of patience and — to use a coaching cliche — not skipping steps.

The NBA began testing players in their home markets before they arrived in Orlando (that’s where a number of players tested positive, and were quarantined/treated in those markets). Once teams arrived in Orlando, players were quarantined and tested again.

The idea was simple — to keep the virus outside of the bubble — but the execution was not. Nor was making sure there was buy-in from the players (and, for the most part, there has been).

At least so far. There are about two months of games remaining through the end of the finals, and when family members arrive next month there will be new ways the virus could penetrate the bubble.

It isn’t time for an NBA victory lap yet, but so far so good.

Nate McMillan agrees to contract extension as Pacers coach

Nate McMillan extension
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The rumor that Nate McMillan was on the hot seat in Indiana? Turns out, about as accurate as the rumor Nicholas Cage is a time traveler.

McMillan and the Pacers have agreed to a contract extension, the team announced Wednesday (it was first reported by Adrian Wojnarowski of ESPN). McMillan had one year remaining on his current contract. There are no details about the length or compensation. But McMillan isn’t going anywhere.

“What Nate has done in four seasons with our franchise merits this extension,” said President of Basketball Operations Kevin Pritchard. “Between injuries and changes in personnel, he and his coaching staff have adapted and produced positive results. He also represents the franchise, the city and our state in a first-class manner.”

This is the right move by the Pacers, McMillan has been one of the better coaches in the NBA the past couple of seasons (he was fourth in Coach of the Year voting a season ago and will get votes again this season). He has gotten the Pacers to exceed their on-paper talent level a few seasons in a row. Talks to extend McMillan were likely in the works already, but the push to get a longer contract announced now — while the Pacers are still playing at the NBA restart in Orlando — likely was tied to that rumor going public.

The Pacers are the fifth seed in the East and will face the Miami Heat in the first round of the playoffs. That Indiana got there without a healthy Victor Oladipo — thanks to strong play from Malcolm Brogdon and Domantas Sabonis for most of the season, then from T.J. Warren at the NBA restart — is a testament to McMillan’s coaching.

McMillan’s style isn’t flashy or modern — the Pacers are bottom eight in both three-pointers attempted and pace this season — but it works. The Pacers offense has been pretty average this season overall (18th in the league), which is not bad considering the team was without Oladipo for most of the season (and he was playing his way into shape when he returned and was not at an All-NBA level). The Pacers also have found and developed good young players.

All of that ties back to coaching, which is why McMillan earned this extension.