Play­ers ex­press con­cern for coun­try

Daily Freeman (Kingston, NY) - - SPORTS - By Brian Ma­honey

NBA play­ers aren’t just wor­ried about their teams as they start a new sea­son.

They’re con­cerned for their coun­try.

The usual bas­ket­ball clichés that dom­i­nate me­dia days gave way to se­ri­ous talk about so­cial in­jus­tice and vi­o­lence in com­mu­ni­ties, with play­ers want­ing to be in­volved in find­ing so­lu­tions but ac­knowl­edg­ing they don’t know yet how.

“Some of the things that I’ve been ad­dress­ing over this past sum­mer, I think we’re still in the same state. I think it’s ac­tu­ally get­ting worse and it will con­tinue to get worse,” Knicks All-Star Carmelo An­thony said Mon­day. “We still have to kind of keep the con­ver­sa­tions go­ing.”

An­thony was among the high­est-pro­file and most out­spo­ken play­ers fol­low­ing the killing of black men by po­lice in Louisiana and Min­nesota in July, join­ing friends and fel­low stars LeBron James, Dwyane Wade and Chris Paul in a pow­er­ful open­ing to the ESPY Awards and con­tin­u­ing to speak out while play­ing for the U.S. Olympic team.

But re­cent killings by po­lice in Tulsa, Ok­la­homa, and Char­lotte, North Carolina, cap­tured on video have con­vinced those play­ers that progress they seek hasn’t ar­rived. “Ob­vi­ously, I know things don’t hap­pen overnight, but it doesn’t seem like there is any change,” James told The Associated Press. “We just want the con­ver­sa­tion to con­tinue to be, ‘Who are our lead­ers? Who are our true lead­ers that are go­ing to help us change what’s go­ing on?’ Ev­ery­one is look­ing for that and no one knows.”

Play­ers praised San Fran­cisco 49ers quar­ter­back Colin Kaeper­nick for bring­ing at­ten­tion with his peace­ful protest of kneel­ing dur­ing the na­tional an­them. James, An­thony, NBA MVP Stephen Curry and oth­ers said they would con­tinue to stand — as NBA rules stip­u­late — and hoped play­ers could find mean­ing­ful ways to work with their team­mates in­stead of in­di­vid­u­ally.

“Am I go­ing to kneel down and put my fist up? No, I’m not. That’s no dis­re­spect to Colin or any­body else that’s do­ing it. But they’ve got­ten the point across,” said Dray­mond Green, Curry’s Golden State team­mate. “I don’t think I need to come out and do a na­tional an­them protest, be­cause it’s al­ready started. There’s al­ready a con­ver­sa­tion. But like I said, is there go­ing to be some­thing done about it?”

Protests over the killing of Keith La­mont Scott in Char­lotte turned vi­o­lent, with Mayor Jen­nifer Roberts im­pos­ing a cur­few. Miami Heat cen­ter Has­san White­side still calls the area home and was trou­bled by it.

“We’ve just got to get an un­der­stand­ing of it,” White­side told the AP. “There’s not re­ally one way to fix the prob­lem. It’s been go­ing on for a while. Peo­ple are sick of it.”

Brook­lyn’s Jeremy Lin said he’s thank­ful there’s more aware­ness about a prob­lem that was long ig­nored, but is wor­ried about some of the heated re­ac­tions they pro­duced.

“I just know that right now, talk­ing to dif­fer­ent par­ties and see­ing both sides, there’s just a lot of ten­sion and hos­til­ity and I don’t think that’s go­ing to get it done,” Lin said. “I think that’s go­ing to har­bor more vi­o­lence.”

Most teams will be­gin prac­tic­ing Tues­day. Among the bas­ket­ball news Mon­day:

NO MORE BOSH IN MIAMI: Chris Bosh ap­pears to have played his fi­nal game with the Heat. Team Pres­i­dent Pat Ri­ley said Bosh, who failed a phys­i­cal last week and wasn’t cleared by team doc­tors to re­turn af­ter miss­ing the sec­ond half of last sea­son, is open-minded, “but we are not work­ing to­ward his re­turn .”

ONE MORE FOR PIERCE IN L.A.: Los An­ge­les Clip­pers for­ward Paul Pierce wrote on The Play­ers’ Tri­bune that this sea­son, his 19th, would be his last. Pierce, who will turn 39 next month , is 16th on the NBA’s ca­reer scor­ing list.

NO WOR­RIES: Der­rick Rose said he isn’t wor­ried about a rape trial set to start in Cal­i­for­nia on Oct. 4, the date of his first pre­sea­son game with the New York Knicks. It’s un­clear how much, if any, of the pre­sea­son Rose would have to miss if there is no set­tle­ment in the civil suit. “I feel like I’m in­no­cent and I feel like I didn’t do any­thing wrong, like I said, and I can’t let that dis­tract me with the year that I have ahead of me,” Rose said.

IN­JURY UP­DATES: Marc Ga­sol’s bro­ken right foot is re­cov­ered from surgery in Fe­bru­ary and the Mem­phis Griz­zlies cen­ter said he can be a “bet­ter player, more pro­duc­tive, more con­sis­tent .” But All-Star guard John Wall will only par­tic­i­pate in “bits and pieces “of Washington Wizards train­ing camp as he re­bounds from off­sea­son knee surgery. He is re­cov­er­ing from surg­eries on both knees in May.

OLD HOMES, NEW BE­GIN­NINGS: Wade and Dwight Howard slipped into the jer­seys of teams they rooted for as kids Mon­day. Howard said join­ing his home­town At­lanta Hawks was a “dream come true “af­ter en­dur­ing rocky stints with the Lak­ers and Rock­ets, while Wade is get­ting to work with the Chicago Bulls af­ter mak­ing 12 All-Star teams in 13 years in Miami.

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