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Milwaukee Bucks’ George Hill supports local organization urging early voting

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MILWAUKEE — Milwaukee Bucks guard George Hill said the importance of Wisconsin in the upcoming election caused him to fly back here this weekend to assist in a local voting drive.

Hill, who lives in San Antonio, worked alongside about 50 volunteers from the Milwaukee-based organization Common Ground walking through local neighborhoods Saturday to encourage people to vote early.

“This [state] could make or break the election,” Hill said. “To spend a couple of dollars to get on a flight to come back here, to get out and knock on doors and go around this city, to show them that I care for them just as much as they care for themselves, and show them that we need them, we need them, we need their voices, we need their communities to be better and things like that, it’s all worth it at the end of the day.”

Hill wore a shirt with the message “VOTE” and a Bucks logo plus a mask with the message “Votes Count In the 414” as he walked through several blocks in various neighborhoods with a group that included Bucks senior vice president Alex Lasry. Milwaukee’s area code is 414.

They occasionally would greet residents at their homes or stop people walking or driving by them. Hill would ask whether they’d voted and would remind them of the importance of voting.

“I’m not here to say vote for one side of the other,” Hill sad. “But I’m here to say use your voice and vote. Our ancestors, our fathers and things like that fought for this right. You should take advantage of it and get out and vote and use it.”

Hill made this visit nearly two months after he and his Bucks teammates opted against playing a first-round playoff game with the Orlando Magic to protest the shooting by police in Kenosha, Wisconsin, of Jacob Blake, a Black man. The Bucks’ decision led to an NBA-wide postponement of playoff games.

Now that the season is complete and Hill is out of the playoff bubble at Walt Disney World, he has continued doing community outreach through youth mentorship programs at his home in Texas as well as his work Saturday in Milwaukee.

Earlier this month, Hill was one of five NBA players to receive the NBA Community Cares Assist Award along with Sacramento’s Harrison Barnes, Boston’s Jaylen Brown, Oklahoma City’s Chris Paul and Dallas’ Dwight Powell.

“You always try to figure out different ways you can strike change and be accounted for,” Hill said. “When I first got to the NBA, Coach Pop (Gregg Popovich) told me one thing that always stuck with me, is how do you put your whole fingerprints on the world and leave your mark.

“Sometimes you have to stand up for what’s right, and sometimes that may be ruffling feathers and may be frowned upon by everyone else, but at the end of the day in your heart, knowing you’re on the right side of history and knowing that you did the right thing, good or bad, you have to live with that.”

Hill and Common Ground were walking through Milwaukee neighborhoods encouraging voting on the same day that President Donald Trump was scheduled to visit the Milwaukee suburb of Waukesha, an indication of Wisconsin’s importance in the upcoming election.

Trump won Wisconsin’s 10 electoral votes in 2016 after beating Hillary Clinton by under 23,000 votes out of nearly 3 million ballots cast.

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Golden State Warriors’ Klay Thompson has surgery on torn Achilles; full recovery expected

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Golden State Warriors guard Klay Thompson underwent surgery on Wednesday and is expected to make a full recovery from a season-ending tear to his right Achilles tendon, a source told ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski.

Dr. Richard Ferkel, a noted specialist on ankle injuries, performed the surgery in Los Angeles and it was considered a success, the source said.

Thompson, a five-time All-Star, tore his right Achilles tendon during a workout with several NBA players last week in Southern California. He had an MRI the next morning that revealed the severity of the injury.

Thompson, 30, missed all of last season after tearing the ACL in his left knee during Game 6 of the 2019 NBA Finals against the Toronto Raptors. The Warriors were optimistic that Thompson, who has spent more than a year rehabbing the injury, would come back at full strength for the 2020-21 season. Now they will spend another season without him on the court.

The injury is a huge blow for the Warriors, who were an NBA-worst 15-50 last season as they struggled without Thompson and Stephen Curry, who had a broken left hand that sidelined him for more than four months.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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Hassan Whiteside, Sacramento Kings agree to 1-year deal

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Free-agent center Hassan Whiteside has agreed to a one-year deal with the Sacramento Kings, sources told ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski.

Whiteside, while averaging 30.0 minutes, led the NBA with 2.9 blocks per game and finished third with 13.5 rebounds last season while with the Portland Trail Blazers.

His 25.07 PER was eighth best in the league, just behind that of Los Angeles Lakers star LeBron James.

A 7-foot, 265-pound center, Whiteside arrived in Portland in a July 2019 trade in which Mo Harkless and Meyers Leonard were sent to the Miami Heat. The trade came one month after Whiteside exercised a $27.1 million player option on his contract, the final year of the four-year, $98 million contract he signed with Miami.

Entering his ninth year, Whiteside, 31, has career averages of 13.7 points, 11.7 rebounds and 2.4 blocks.

He joins a Kings team that declined to match the Atlanta Hawks‘ offer sheet for restricted free-agent guard Bogdan Bogdanovic on Tuesday, with new general manager Monte McNair planning to maintain roster flexibility and continuing to reshape around his young core of De’Aaron Fox, Marvin Bagley III and Buddy Hield.

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Dwight Howard prepared to do ‘whatever’ 76ers ask for chance to win title in Philly

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Fresh off winning his first NBA title with the Los Angeles Lakers, Dwight Howard said Wednesday that he’s willing to do whatever he’s asked to do in order to win another with his new team, the Philadelphia 76ers.

“Winning the championship was everything, and it made me realize I could have the best stats in the world and it don’t mean nothing,” Howard said in his introductory Zoom call after signing a one-year deal for the minimum with Philadelphia in free agency. “Because here it was, I won a championship and there was games where I didn’t score a bucket, or get a field goal, or get minutes in a game. What really matters is just holding up that trophy.

“That would be my message to everybody on the team: what are you willing to give up to get that trophy? Sometimes you got to give up everything. Sometimes your role and what’s required of you [is] to give up the things you want to do the most. For me, I would have loved to be the guy to score all the points and rebounds, but my team needed me for a specific purpose, and that was to provide the spirit and energy on and off the court.

“I think I did a pretty good job at it, and whatever this team asks me to do, I’m willing to do it.”

After trading Al Horford to the Oklahoma City Thunder on draft night to better balance out the roster, Sixers president of basketball operations Daryl Morey said that he was going to have coach Doc Rivers go into free agency and try to sell the best candidates available to come to Philadelphia and backup the team’s star center, Joel Embiid.

According to Howard, Rivers did exactly that, calling Howard shortly after free agency began at 6 p.m. Friday and telling him the Sixers wanted to sign him.

Howard said that ultimately was what pushed him to decide to join the Sixers.

“The reason why I was super locked in on being here in Philly is that Doc was the only coach that called me during this free agency process. He was the first one to call me and he said we want you. We want you on our team. And then Daryl called. I said this is where I need to be right now. This is where my journey is calling me. To Philly. I’m super happy that Doc called me, that he gave me the opportunity, and I told him yes. I told him I would come.”

Howard’s Hall of Fame career has taken a circuitous route over the past several seasons, as he went from playing for the Orlando Magic for the first seven seasons of his career to playing for six different teams — the Lakers, Houston Rockets, Atlanta Hawks, Charlotte Hornets, Washington Wizards and then the Lakers again — over the past eight seasons.

Now he’s off to Philadelphia, where he will play behind Embiid — who has arguably taken over the mantle long-held by Howard as the NBA’s best center. And, between the combination of Embiid and Simmons, plus the talent that surrounds them, Howard is hopeful that he can be part of a second straight championship-winning team this season.

“There’s a lot of things,” Howard said, when asked why he thinks the Sixers can win a title. “You have two great young stars in Ben Simmons and Joel Embiid, I’m going to start there. Those guys, to me I watched when Joel lost [to the Toronto Raptors in the Eastern Conference semifinals in 2019] and how bad it hurt, he just cried, and I know what that feels like. I’ve been in that moment before where it’s like, ‘Man, I gave everything I had. I put it all on the line and I came up short.’ It doesn’t sit well with you, it stays with you for a really long time. So with him I know he has a fire inside of him, and we’ve all seen glimpses of it all year, and I think this is the year where it’s about being focused. I see focus in him, I see focus in Ben, and that’s where it starts with our two best players.

“Then you look at the rest of the guys on our team, they’ve all been hungry, they just never knew how to win. And I think by adding a guy like Danny Green and myself, we just fresh off of winning a championship, and I think we all know what it takes to really get to the next level. And I think this is a really great opportunity. You have a coach always talking about winning, how important it is to win, and you have some players who just want it. I think this year with the focus this team will have and the drive that we have to be successful, this will be our year.”

Howard, who was eating a lunch of baked chicken, sweet potato fries and corn during his Zoom call, was also asked specifically about Embiid’s personality, and if it possible to both be lighthearted — as Howard also was early in his career — and win at the highest level.

He pushed back strongly on the point, saying that he thinks Embiid puts in the work requisite to be good, and that the other stuff doesn’t matter because of it.

“I don’t see what he’s doing as being goofy,” Howard said. “He puts in the work. I think people, they twist things around when they see people laughing and joking and having a good time and they say they’re not serious, or they’re not focused enough. It’s just a time and a place for everything.

“I think the things Joel does is great. It makes other opponents upset, it keeps him locked in and the team plays better. Now will there be times when we all have to be a little bit more serious? Yes. And that’s something we’ll all have to learn together. How to be in certain situations. But I don’t think that’s a part of sacrifice. I think that’s a part of just understanding time and place.

“And I think that will be good for me to help show some of the younger guys because I have been in that position before where people thought I wasn’t focused or that I was playing too much. Maybe for the people on the outside it did look like I was playing around too much. So it’s just finding ways to do things right for the team, and I think we’ll do that this year.”

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