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Celtics’ Marcus Smart says he’s been cleared after coronavirus diagnosis

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Boston Celtics guard Marcus Smart, who tested positive for COVID-19 two weeks ago, has been cleared by the Massachusetts Department of Health, he announced on social media Sunday night.

Smart and the Celtics were in Milwaukee on March 11, preparing to play the Bucks the next night — in front of no fans — when the NBA suspended its season after Utah Jazz center Rudy Gobert tested positive for the coronavirus before that night’s game against the Oklahoma City Thunder. Boston, having played Utah the week before, wound up coming home from Milwaukee the next day and self-isolating, before Smart eventually tested positive for the virus.

“Corona Free as of two days ago. Cleared by Mass Dept of Health,” Smart said on Twitter. “Thanks for everyone’s thoughts and prayers and I’m doing the same for everyone that’s been effected by this. Stay safe and stay together- apart! Much love!”

In a media conference call last week, Boston coach Brad Stevens was enthused with Smart’s progress, saying he was doing “great.”

“Great spirits. Joking as always,” Stevens said last Friday. “We had a Zoom with the team, told the team we were going to give them their own space to hang out and have fun — and he told us to get off. So he’s great.”

Stevens also spoke about Smart’s courage to speak out, once the prognosis came back.

“I’m proud of how he kinda took the initiative to tell people that he had it and that he felt good and that he got online and just continued to ask people to practice social distancing and self-isolation right now,” the coach said. “It’s a really unique, unsettling time for everyone.”

Smart, 26, is averaging 13.5 points, 3.8 rebounds and 4.8 assists this season. If and when the league resumes the regular season, Boston will take the floor in third place in the Eastern Conference, at 43-21.



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Celtics’ Jaylen Brown drives 15 hours from Boston to lead peaceful protest in Atlanta

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Boston Celtics guard Jaylen Brown led a peaceful protest march through Atlanta on Saturday night.

Brown, who streamed part of the march live via his Instagram account and also posted videos of speeches to his page, said during the livestream that he’d driven 15 hours from Boston in order to protest in Atlanta, which is about 20 minutes southeast of his native Marietta, Georgia.

“I drove 15 hours to get to Georgia, my community,” Brown said. “This is a peaceful protest. Being a celebrity, being an NBA player don’t exclude me from no conversations at all. First and foremost, I’m a black man and I’m a member of this community. … We’re raising awareness for some of the injustices that we’ve been seeing. It’s not OK.

“As a young person, you’ve got to listen to our perspective. Our voices need to be heard. I’m 23 years old. I don’t know all of the answers. But I feel how everybody else is feeling, for sure. No question.”

Brown, who is a vice president of the National Basketball Players Association, marched with a megaphone while holding a sign that said, “I Can’t Breathe,” a reference to the death of George Floyd in Minneapolis on Monday.

Floyd, who is black, died after Derek Chauvin, a white police officer, kneeled on his neck for several minutes. Floyd’s death has shaken the Minneapolis community and sparked protests in cities across the United States.

Brown was joined by another NBPA VP — Indiana Pacers guard Malcolm Brogdon — as well as former first-round pick Justin Anderson, who played with Brogdon at Virginia and is currently in the G League with the Long Island Nets, and rapper Lil Yachty.

“I’ve got brothers, I’ve got sisters, I’ve got friends, that are in the streets, that are out here, that haven’t made it to this level, that are experiencing it, that are getting pulled over, just discrimination, day after day,” Brogdon told protesters in a video posted to Brown’s Instagram page. “Dealing with the same bulls—. This is systematic. This isn’t something where we come and … we don’t have to burn down our homes. We built this city. This is the most proudly black city in the world. In the world, man. Let’s take some pride in that. Let’s focus our energy. Let’s enjoy this together.

“This is a moment. We have leverage right now. We have a moment in time. People are going to look back, our kids are going to look back at this and say, ‘You were part of that.’ I’ve got a grandfather that marched next to [Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.] in the ’60s, and he was amazing. He would be proud to see us all here. We got to keep pushing forward. Jaylen has led this charge, man, and I’m proud of him. We need more leaders.”

Brown also tweeted Saturday night that three people who were part of the peaceful protest were arrested, and in a follow-up post asked for their names.

The protest was just one of dozens across the country Saturday. Former NBA player Stephen Jackson, who was a longtime friend of Floyd’s, was part of a protest in Minneapolis on Friday alongside Minnesota Timberwolves center Karl-Anthony Towns and guard Josh Okogie.



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Pistons coach Dwane Casey says nothing seems to be changing as injustices mount

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Detroit Pistons coach Dwane Casey lived through desegregation in Kentucky and said he knows what it has felt like to go into a new school unwanted and unwelcomed.

He’s seen the deaths of George Floyd in Minneapolis, Ahmaud Arbery in Georgia and Breonna Taylor in Kentucky.

On Saturday, Casey, who is black, said he wonders if anything has changed from when he was an 8-year-old boy walking into a white school, feeling helpless and like he was unseen, not heard and not understood.

“Fifty-four years later, my son is now eight years old and I look at the world he is growing up in and wonder, how much has really changed?” Casey, 63, said in a statement. “How often is he judged on sight? Is he growing up in a world where he is seen, and heard, and understood? Does he feel helpless? Will he be treated like George Floyd or Ahmaud Arbery?

“What have we really done in the last 54 years to make his eight-year-old world better than mine was? We all have to be and do better.”

Casey said that when he was a child, there was no way to record his treatment because cell phones, cable news and social media were not yet in existence to show the reality of the situation he lived in.

But he knows what he felt then and what he sees now. Casey said in his statement that watching the events following Floyd’s death in Minneapolis — a place he was the head coach from 2005 to 2007 – left him understanding how many people could feel the same things — “helpless, frustrated, invisible, angry.”

Casey called for “real change” to how humans view one another as a way to help as protests continue across the country, including Detroit, where he now coaches.

“We have to change the way we see and hear each other,” Casey said in the statement. “We have to work together to find solutions to make the justice system just. Black, white and brown people have to work together to find new answers. The only way we can stop the systemic problems that people of color have faced all our lives is through honesty and transparency.

“We have to understand why people are at their limit at this moment. It takes empathy, in its truest form. It takes a culture shift, it takes action. Let’s stop the injustice now. Let’s not allow another generation to continue to live in a world where they are treated as unequal. Now is the time for real change.”

Casey went to high school in Morganfield, Kentucky prior to playing college basketball at Kentucky from 1975 to 1979. He was a college assistant at Kentucky and Western Kentucky, an NBA assistant in Seattle and Dallas and a head coach in Minnesota, Toronto and Detroit.



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Sources — NBA Board of Governors expected to approve Adam Silver’s restart plan Thursday

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The NBA is planning a Thursday vote of the league’s Board of Governors — with owners expected to approve commissioner Adam Silver’s recommendation on a format to restart the season in Orlando, Florida, sources tell ESPN.

The NBA has been examining several plans on a return-to-play, but numerous members of the Board of Governors tell ESPN that there’s growing support for a plan to bring 22 teams to Disney’s ESPN Wide World of Sports in July.

This format would likely include regular-season and play-in games to compete for playoff berths in both the Eastern and Western Conferences, sources said.

The NBA needs a three-fourths majority of owners to approve a return-to-play plan and an overwhelming majority of owners expressed a desire to do precisely that on both a Board of Governors call on Friday and later in interviews with ESPN.

“We are lining up behind him on this,” one owner told ESPN on Friday. “The posturing will end. Nothing is going to be perfect for everyone.”

The NBA has yet to endorse a plan, and only one of the four ideas presented on Friday’s Board of Governors call is no longer believed to be a legitimate consideration — bringing back all 30 teams, sources said.

The 22-team plan would include teams that are currently within six games of the final playoff spots in each conference, sources said.

New Orleans, Phoenix, Portland, Sacramento and San Antonio would land in Orlando under those guidelines, with Washington joining as the only team within six games of the eighth-seed in the Eastern Conference.

A proposal for 20 teams remains alive, and that would include only New Orleans, Portland, San Antonio and Sacramento in that format, sources said.

Discussions have centered on these formats including several regular-season games and a play-in tournament to decide the playoff participants.

Regardless of how many teams are ultimately included in the playoffs, the NBPA has consistently stressed that it wants several regular-season games played prior to the start of the playoffs, sources said. That has been a prevailing sentiment among several contending teams who prefer a tune-up before entering into the postseason, sources said.

The NBA and NBPA are also mindful of generating revenue on the resumption of a season, and regular season and play-in games at Disney’s ESPN Wide World of Sports will generate increased money — as opposed to only restarting the season with the playoffs. ESPN is owned by the Walt Disney Company.

ESPN’s Zach Lowe contributed to this story.

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