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76ers’ Mike Scott calls NBA’s jersey message plan a ‘bad miss’

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Philadelphia 76ers forward Mike Scott said that the NBA giving players a list of phrases to put on the backs of their jerseys when the season restarts in Orlando, Florida, later this month, rather than allowing players to choose what they wanted to say, was a “bad miss.”

“They gave us some names and phrases to put on the back of jerseys. That was terrible. It was just a bad miss, a bad choice,” Scott said during a conference call with reporters Monday. “They didn’t give players a chance to voice our opinions on it; they just gave us a list to pick from. So that was bad, that was terrible.

“I’m all about just doing, instead of saying and posting, or putting something on the back of your jersey. I don’t think that’s going to stop anything, you know?”

The Undefeated’s Marc J. Spears reported Friday that the NBA and the National Basketball Players Association had agreed to the following list of suggested messages: Black Lives Matter; Say Their Names; Vote; I Can’t Breathe; Justice; Peace; Equality; Freedom; Enough; Power to the People; Justice Now; Say Her Name; Sí Se Puede (Yes We Can); Liberation; See Us; Hear Us; Respect Us; Love Us; Listen; Listen to Us; Stand Up; Ally; Anti-Racist; I Am A Man; Speak Up; How Many More; Group Economics; Education Reform; and Mentor.

Speaking on a separate call Monday, Boston Celtics guard Jaylen Brown had a few other suggestions that he wished the league would have allowed players to use.

“There’s a lot of stuff. I know everybody has different reasons they’re playing for. … Four hundred and fifty guys, or however many will be there, are sending in whatever they feel like would add to that list and encompass the group that’s going down there,” Brown said.

“What I’d like to personally see on there? Maybe ‘Break The Cycle,’ putting that on the back of your jersey. ‘Results,’ that what everybody is really playing for. ‘Inequality by Design,’ maybe. Things like that might have a deeper impact than some of the things that were given to us. I think it was a little bit limiting.”

NBA players are scheduled to begin arriving at Walt Disney World Resort on Tuesday, and teams will continue arriving there through Thursday, before teams will have about three weeks to ramp up, and play three scrimmages, before games begin on July 30.

Scott said that the process of trying to get back into the mental headspace of focusing on basketball again after everything that’s happened in the world over the past few months — from the ongoing coronavirus pandemic that shut down the league in the first place on March 11 to the protests for social justice and against racial inequality and police brutality over the past six weeks — won’t be easy.

“You’re trying to change your mentality from what’s going on and being with your family and making sure you’re safe, racism, [coronavirus], and then turning and switching on to go to Orlando and play basketball. Easier said than done,” Scott admitted. “Most people would probably be like, ‘This s— should be easy. Just think about basketball.’

“But I don’t know man, it’s tough thinking about that after what’s gone on these past couple months. I’ve been dealing with that and just trying to work out every day and get my mind ready for Orlando, but at the same time, how can you not focus on everything else going on?

“We’re just going off of, ‘We’ll see.’ Can only go off of what people are saying, explaining what it’s going to be like down there, and giving us ideas of what’s to come. I don’t know anything until I get down there and see.”

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Celtics’ Marcus Smart fined $15K for criticizing overturned call against Bucks

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The Boston CelticsMarcus Smart was fined $15,000 on Saturday for criticizing the officiating following Friday night’s loss to the Milwuakee Bucks.

Smart said the referees gave him an “excuse” in explaining their decision to overturn a charge call against reigning NBA MVP Giannis Antetokounmpo in the closing minutes of Boston’s 119-112 loss to Milwaukee, a call that would have caused Antetokounmpo to foul out of the game.

“Wish we got a better one,” Smart said when asked if he’d received an explanation for the call. “The excuse was I was late on drawing the charge.

“Quite frankly, I think we all know what that was about. It was Giannis’ sixth foul. [The refs] didn’t want to get him out. Let’s just call that spade a spade.”

The play, which came at the 1-minute, 28-second mark of the fourth quarter, would have given the ball back to the Celtics with the score tied at 107. It also would have sent Antetokounmpo to the bench for the rest of the game. Instead, he was given a basket when the call was changed to a block — a basket that came after Antetokounmpo made a dribble move to fake out Jayson Tatum, then did a Eurostep to get into the lane and to the basket.

After Antetokounmpo made the free throw, Jaylen Brown missed a 3-pointer on Boston’s ensuing possession and Khris Middleton answered with a made 3 of his own, giving Milwaukee a 113-107 lead it wouldn’t relinquish the rest of the way.

Antetokounmpo said he felt Smart was moving on the play.

“First of all, that’s his opinion,” Antetokounmpo said of Smart afterward. “But at the end of the day, when I had the conversation with him, I respect him as a player.”

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Miami Heat’s Meyers Leonard chooses to stand during national anthem

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Miami Heat center Meyers Leonard stood during the national anthem before Saturday’s game against the Denver Nuggets, saying afterward he can be both a patriot and a supporter of Black Lives Matter.

“I think I can be a beacon of light … not only for my voice or platform and action, but in everything I’m doing,” Leonard, who is white, told Marc J. Spears of ESPN’s The Undefeated after the game. “I certainly support Black Lives Matter. … I am very aware of what is going on. But I can be both. My patriotism runs deep.”

Orlando’s Jonathan Isaac was the first player in the NBA bubble to stand during the national anthem on Friday. San Antonio Spurs coach Gregg Popovich and assistant Becky Hammon also stood later Friday.

Leonard, who was the lone player at the game to stand, cited his respect for the U.S. military. His brother, Bailey Leonard, served two tours in Afghanistan with the Marines. But he noted that he doesn’t think kneeling is disrespectful.

And he said he struggled with his decision on what to do during the anthem.

“I haven’t slept. I’m a zombie right now. It’s been difficult because the truth of the matter is I have a loving heart, very compassionate and I’m very aware of what is happening in America today and what has been going on for many years,” Leonard told Spears.

Leonard ultimately stood with his hand over his heart and wore a Black Lives Matter T-shirt over a jersey that said “Equality.” He said his decision came after tough and honest discussions in recent days with Heat teammates Jimmy Butler, Andre Iguodala and Udonis Haslem, as well as former Portland Trail Blazers teammates Damian Lillard and CJ McCollum, and the Blazers’ director of security, Rick Riley.

“I (was) aware some of the backlash that could happen. I understand. However, I believe in my heart that I did the right thing,” Leonard told Spears. “Our world right now is black and white. There is a line in the sand, and it says if I don’t kneel, then I’m not with Black Lives Matter. That is not true.”

Leonard also spoke to his brother and Navy SEALs.

“I understand that (kneeling during the anthem) is not about the flag and the military, but to me, it is. Based upon real-life experiences and real raw emotion that I’ve had in my life, that is what that means to me,” said Leonard, who was wearing military boots, a backpack and mask.

He added: “And I’m hopeful that people that don’t know me can either learn or ask. I did in my heart what was right to me.”

Heat coach Erik Spoelstra said Leonard had the support of the locker room.

“Everybody knows where his heart is and he’s fully behind this (Black Lives Matter) movement just like everybody else in our organization, and in this association,” Spoelstra said.

Information from The Associated Press was used in this report.

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Clippers’ Doc Rivers tells Montrezl Harrell to take time needed to grieve grandmother’s death

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Doc Rivers has told LA Clippers forward Montrezl Harrell to take as much time as he needs following the death of Harrell’s grandmother.

Harrell posted a message titled “I LOVE YOU GRANDMA” on his Instagram story describing just how heartbroken he is. Harrell left the Clippers on July 17 for an excused family emergency.

“From others, I get asked from inside like, when is Trez coming back and my answer’s been the same,” Rivers said before the Clippers played the New Orleans Pelicans. “When he’s ready, he’ll come back. You can’t play if you’re not right mentally and because of the emotional part of it. … His grandmother is very tight with him so all I told him is I love him and take your time. We’ll be ready with open arms when you come.”

On Friday, Harrell posted that he didn’t know when he “will stop crying.”

“I don’t know how to feel right now,” Harrell wrote on Instagram. “I feel lost empty you are my queen, my best friend, my light in all darkness. I never had you leaving my side. I don’t know how I’m do it but I got to find some way but losing you today isn’t going to make any day I wake up easy.”

The Clippers have been without their top two subs in Harrell and Lou Williams. Williams, the reigning Sixth Man of the Year, has been in a 10-day quarantine after he left the bubble to tend to an excused family emergency and is out against the Pelicans.

Patrick Beverley also left the bubble for an excused family emergency and returned. After a four-day quarantine, he came off the bench and played on a minutes restriction on Thursday night. Rivers said he will start but still have his minutes limited against New Orleans.

Rivers said making mental health awareness a priority and treating players who might need it is as important as treating a physical injury.

“I think it’s the untapped resource in our league,” Rivers said. “Not only just players, but coaches, too. I don’t know why it’s always been taboo but it has been and we have to do a better job of making it like a sprained ankle where you get treatment just like you do if you injured your knee or something like that.

“I mean, we had three major things happening to our guys and my job then is just forget the coaching part, just to support. We have several therapists on staff, the league has a therapist here full-time and we should all seek it out. It shouldn’t be something that we resist.”

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