New York Liberty guard Sabrina Ionescu is expected to miss approximately one month of action with a grade three ankle sprain, Shams Charania of The Athletic reports. The 2020 No. 1 pick rolled her left ankle after colliding with Atlanta Dream guard Betnijah Laney in the second quarter of Friday’s game and went down injured. The Liberty went on to lose the game, 84-78, for their third loss of the season.
Ionescu had a relatively quiet debut during the team’s first game against the Seattle Storm, scoring 12 points, four assists, and six rebounds. In her second game against the young Dallas Wings, she really was unleashed though, dropping a career-high 33 points, seven assists, and seven rebounds despite the 80-93 loss. Before her injury on Friday, she had managed to put up 10 points and one steal, rebound, and assist.
Fellow Liberty guard Kia Nurse suffered an ankle sprain during the team’s opening game against the Storm, and was able to start against the Dallas Wings on Wednesday, but did not look like herself. She only managed two points in 22 minutes of action and struggled on the defensive end as well, seeming uncomfortable in her footwork. Nurse missed Friday night’s game against Atlanta after being placed on the injury list.
The Liberty entered the 2020 season with a very young roster that includes seven rookies, and have yet to win a game this year. Losing two star guards in Ionescu and Nurse will certainly hurt the team, and place even more responsibility upon Layshia Clarendon’s shoulders. Clarendon joined the team in the off season, and has been one of the bright spots for New York, averaging 15.7 points, four assists, and 3.3 rebounds a night so far.
Mike Muscala is, notably, the only graduate of Bucknell in the NBA. A small liberal arts college in central Pennsylvania with less than 4,000 students, Bucknell isn’t exactly a Duke or Kentucky-level pro factory, even though the Bison are consistently among the best mid-major programs in all of college basketball. Muscala, back in 2013, became the third player drafted in school history and the first to take the floor in an NBA game.
As someone who graduated from a high school about 15 minutes away from Bucknell and would occasionally go watch their games — especially when they had this 6’10 big man who you could just tell was a cut above most of the competition in the Patriot League — it was only natural for me to ask Muscala his favorite thing about the university. It turns out that his answer was something that inadvertently prepared him to be posted up at the NBA’s bubble league, where he’s situated right now as a member of the Oklahoma City Thunder.
“They used to call it the Bucknell Bubble when I was there,” Muscala says over the phone. “I feel like just having everything there on campus, I felt like it was just a good overall experience. So we had everything we needed, there was a good place to focus on basketball and learn it from other people. So it was a great four years.”
While his college years are in the rear view, Muscala has his eyes on the coming days and weeks, as the Thunder are looking to continue their run as perhaps the most surprising team in the league and make some noise on the postseason. The first of the team’s eight seeding games takes place on Saturday afternoon — a 3:30 pm ET tilt against the Utah Jazz on ESPN. For Muscala, it’s a chance to play ball after several months off, but it’s also an opportunity to raise money for charity, as the seven-year veteran will donate money to PeacePlayers International for every three the Thunder make during his stint at Disney.
Before the game tips off, Dime caught up with Muscala to talk charity work, basketball, and the possibility that “Mike Jaws” could use his down time to make some music.
I’d love it if you could start by just explaining PeacePlayers a little bit.
Yeah, for sure. They were founded in 2000 by Brendan [Tuohey] and Sean [Tuohey]. I’ve gotten to know Brendan pretty well. And they started in Northern Ireland, playing and doing some camps out there, and it’s since expanded to other countries throughout the world and in some cities in the United States. And their whole mission is to bring people together through the sport of basketball.
I heard about them a few years ago from a friend who also went to Bucknell, actually, and was involved with them. I just thought it was a really cool mission and got to know Brendan, and I kind of stayed in touch with them, heard about what they’re doing, and just kind of had the idea of matching with the team three-pointers we make the rest of the season, to match with the donation to them just because I feel like there’s so much going into everything in this bubble here in Orlando to make this possible. And there’s a lot of kids that aren’t able to play right now, because of COVID, and PeacePlayers is actively working on ways to try to keep them involved. So I thought it’d be kind of a cool way to give back.
What’s your personal history with this charity and why was it important for you to get on board with it when you got filled in about what it strives to do?
I think it just stemmed from personal experience. I think when I had heard of what their whole mission and goals are and what they’re actually doing to make that happen — holding camps and holding leagues in countries where there were a lot of conflicts, religiously or politically or what have you, and also cities in the United States where there are neighborhoods of people that maybe have some tension there for whatever reason — for me personally, I’ve learned a lot about other people through basketball and PeacePlayers, that’s what they’re all about. I felt like I could relate to that. So I just felt like, especially now in a time of uncertainty, a difficult time in our country, there’s still so much that basketball can [do to] bring us together and help us learn about each other as we try to make changes going forward.
What do you think it is about basketball in particular that makes it such a good way to bring people together and bridge divides that might exist politically, religiously, and however else?
That’s a good question. I think just like any other good team sport, it requires individual focus and sacrifice for the better of the team. It’s a team sport, and you got five people on the court at a time, and you got other players on the bench, and you got coaches, you have staff members. All kinds of working pieces in place, and you have a gym that you’re able to play in and all those things. It’s a human game and I think I’ve heard coach Popovich mention something along those lines, too. So I think that that’s what PeacePlayers is all about. And in a time now where we’re playing for … it’s our jobs and there’s fans who are paying to watch the games. To be able to help out the people who are a little less fortunate, not able to play right now, just seemed kind of like a good thing to do.
Are you generally a big charity guy outside of PeacePlayers or is this one of those things where you feel like you can do your best work by dedicating your time and energy to working with them?
I think it helps when you feel like you know what the charity, what the nonprofit, what they’re really about, and when you’re able to get to meet some people with them as opposed to just making donations without having that personal connection. So there’s some other nonprofits that I work with and I’ve gotten to know some people with, but I just feel like I know basketball quite well, I’ve played it for quite a long time and it’s dear to me. So when I heard about their work with other basketball players and coaches and stuff, it just felt like something that I could relate to and get to know well, and it’s been fun getting to know them.
You’re a veteran, you’re one of the older dudes on a team that has a bunch of young guys on it. Do you ever talk to them about the importance of getting involved in community, getting involved in charity, those sorts of things?
Not necessarily in terms of getting involved with charities. I try to just nurture the idea of learning about causes and learning about people and learning about why certain ideas are being formed or what they really mean. Because I feel like that’s really what basketball, and what team sports, and what sports can do is just create a platform for acceptance and discussion of others, and what they want and what makes them happy or what they’re needing. As a teammate or as a competitor having that platform, I’m just trying to look at the bigger picture. Obviously we love to compete and we love to try to win as competitors and basketball players, but there’s a bigger picture there, too.
I need you to be honest with me: Are you going to be a little more willing to let it fly from deep knowing that it’s going to charity if it goes in?
I was talking with somebody with the Thunder earlier today and they said that they usually say “cha-ching” after the team makes a three-pointer. And so I was like, “I might steal that from you.” That’s a good one.
It’s literally what’s going to be happening, so you might as well. I do want to ask about the bubble a bit, about this season. How was it getting down to Disney and how’s life been now? It’s been, what about three, three and a half weeks for you guys?
Yeah, you’re right. It’s been good. They’ve made a great experience down here. I tip my hat to the NBA and the Players Association for working together to make this happen, because I feel grateful for the opportunity. Obviously there’s a lot of people putting in a lot of time, a lot of resources, a lot of money into this, and things are great. You know it’s pretty much waking up and going off to practice, and on a off day, we can play some golf or go fishing and what not. So things are good. It’s a fun environment to be in.
What’s the general vibe been? I imagine that it just takes a little getting used to, but it’s probably become more and more normal as you’ve been there, no?
Yeah, it is. And I think as NBA players, we’re used being on the road and living out of hotel rooms during the season. The accommodations here are nice and the Disney staff here in the hotels are all really, really nice and have been just awesome. Been very helpful with making great food and everything, all that type of stuff, so things are good. It makes it easy to go out and compete hard on the court.
You’re a guy, you’ve been in the league for a few years now. How do you set an example for those younger dudes — the Darius Bazleys, the Hami Diallos, the Terrance Fergusons — when it’s a situation that’s new for you too?
I think it kind of puts things into perspective. As a young player, I’m sure especially just having something like this happen where it’s … I mean, for me too, being in my seventh year, it seems surreal sometimes that this is happening. But I think it will put things into perspective and show that things are fragile in this world and just how resourceful the NBA is to be able to make this happen. I mean, I think it’s quite impressive.
I have to imagine that having Chris Paul, he was just so central to all of this coming together. That’s had to have helped, no?
For sure. And he’s done a phenomenal job as the president of the PA and I feel like I’ve learned a lot from him just seeing how he leads. And it’s definitely been great having him on the team and being able to learn from him and see the issues that he deals with, as the president, on a daily basis and hearing his take on things. It’s been cool.
I think there was a belief that you guys were going to be a very solid team, but it would be in a bit of a transition year after this past offseason — I know you came in during this offseason. Did you guys hear all this stuff and get motivated by, “Oh, the Thunder should be a nice team, but not a really good team,” or has it been just head down, go to work the entire time?
It’s probably been a little bit of both. I think obviously each NBA season comes with expectations for each team, and coach met with us before the season and pretty much just addressed it head-on and was pretty frank with us that he kind of felt like we had felt that a little bit. As a player, as years go on, you feel how expectations are formed around a team. He challenged us to just, to not have any expectations when it comes to how the season is going to go and just work at things every day and do it together. And I think we’re still in that mindset now, as we head into the regular season here now with eight to go. Saturday should be fun.
It’s a cliche, but it seems like taking a one-game-at-a-time approach has really been good for you guys.
Yeah, for sure. And I think you hit it on the head. It does sound cliche, but I do feel like it has some benefits. It’s kind of how you really form habits and how you can hopefully rid yourself or your team of bad habits as you are able to look yourself in the mirror after game and address what went well and what didn’t. So that’s what you want, going into the playoffs, is you want to have good habits, because then it will not seem like you have to change much going to playoffs. And you’ll make adjustments and what not, but you’ll have those core principles and habits already in place.
There are so many reasons for why this team has been as good as it is, but I want to ask you about is Shai, who, I think everyone knew he was going to be good, but how good he is, how quickly he is, that’s caught a lot of us off guard who aren’t there every day. As someone who sees him every day and works with him every day, what is it about him that makes him such a special young player?
It’s a lot of things. I think he’s a great person, first and foremost. And he’s humble, and he works hard, and he’s driven — you can tell — and he’s competitive and he has a great mentor in Chris as well. I know that they’ve become quite close this season. That’s been really cool to see, so I’m happy for him and he deserves it all.
Two final questions before you go: Just what’s the mindset around the team? I think people are going to be really surprised when they catch up, they look at the standings, they see, “Oh man, if the Thunder get hot, they can get the two-seed in the Western Conference.”
Yeah, I mean, I think I’m going to go with a cliche answer. It’s one game at a time and it’s having fun. I think fans are excited for basketball to be back, I’m sure, I hope. I know we’re excited, so just giving the fans fun games to watch and going out and competing hard, because that’s just what it’s about at the end of the day.
And then my last question. I know Damian Lillard has a little setup in his room to record some music, is Mike Jaws going to be putting some stuff together or are you focused on basketball down there?
It’s funny, actually, we played them two days ago for the last preseason game, and I actually asked if he wanted to collab. He told me to send him some stuff, so the young fellow Darius Bazley, on the team too, he sent me some songs, he can really spit. So, we’ll see. I mean, it’d kind of be fun. We’re going to try to be locked in here and obviously be ready for the games, but I think music is a good outlet for basketball. It goes hand in hand, so maybe something will happen. It’d be fun.
In May, acclaimed film and television director Lynn Shelton suddenly died of a previously unidentified blood disorder, shocking fans and loved ones. Among those was Marc Maron, who had been dating her for a little over a year. Maron has frequently spoken about his heartbreak, and he did so again, two-and-a-half months after her passing, in a recent interview with The New York Times.
“We saw ourselves through each other’s eyes. I was really the best version of me, the way she saw me,” Maron said of the director of the movies Humpday, Your Sister’s Sister, and Laggies, as well as a lot of television. Last week Shelton was posthumously nominated for an Emmy for directing four episodes of Little Fires Everywhere.
The two met, he said, when she came on his beloved podcast, WTF, though they didn’t start seeing each other till later, as the two were in other relationships at the time. So for a while their relationship was professional. She directed some of his stand-up specials and she directed him in episodes of GLOW as well as in her 2019 film Sword of Trust.
“She was my best audience,” Maron said, choking up. “There was some sort of connection that we had — I lost all my self-consciousness, which is no easy trick.”
He also said he fought tooth and nail to get Netflix to hire her to helm the first special she directed, Too Real. “They were concerned that she had never directed a comedy special. I’m like: ‘She’s done seven movies! You think this is rocket science? She’d already made Outside In, and that’s a little masterpiece,” Maron recalled. He then stepped thing up:
I told my manager I won’t do the special if she can’t direct it. And they came back with, they’re also going to put another director who’s directed specials with her, to guide her through the process. And I said to my manager, that’s not a great look. Especially if they pull out some dude. You’re going to have some guy teach her? That’s ridiculous. Just let her direct it herself. And that’s all.
Maron went on to describe in detail about finding out she was sick, taking her to see a doctor and, when her condition worsened, calling the ambulance. She was dead within 18 hours. “I went [to the hospital] that night and spent a few minutes with her body,” he said. “It was the heaviest thing I’ve ever done. It was just devastating. I was blown out, totally traumatized. Totally heartbroken.”
Maron never took a break from his podcast, even after his producer floated that as a possibility. “I said, I have no control over these feelings. They’re monstrous. But they’re real,” he said. They posted his 2015 interview with Shelton, and then he spoke bluntly about what he was going through. He thought it would be good for him and for his audience, some of whom may have been going through pandemic-related grief of their own:
That’s one of the reasons I thought it was good to do it. There’s nothing but grief around. It’s a tough emotion for people to sit in and accept. The one thing the pandemic has given me is time to process and sit with the feelings. I cry every day. The shock and the trauma have dissipated a little bit, so now I deal with the loss. I have her jacket that she always wore, and her hat and boots. I have the shirt that I met her in. I touch these things when I can and try to keep her with me.
At the time of her death, Maron and Shelton were working on a screenplay, which just happened to be about someone who dies of cancer. He said he’s not sure what he will do with it. He said he’s considered finishing it and giving it to another female director, but he’s not sure if that’s the right thing to do.
“I don’t know that it would honor her,” Maron said. “Because this was always the thing that she was going to direct me in. That was the whole idea of it. It would be upsetting.”
But Maron’s been taking it one day at a time. “It’s a terrible experience but it is a fundamental human experience,” he said. “It’s as common as love. It’s devastating, but we are built to carry it, for ourselves and for others.”
Ahead of the release of his first signature sneaker, the Puma RS-Dreamer, an ad dropped showing J. Cole working out in a gym with a voice over from Master P that hinted something big is in the cards, even beyond the new kicks. Now, thanks to an interview Master P gave to TMZ, it appears that “something” might be an attempt at a professional basketball career.
Master P, who famously had a cup of coffee in the league as a preseason player for the Charlotte Hornets and the Toronto Raptors in the 1990s and played professional basketball in other leagues, told TMZ that J. Cole asked him what he’d need to do if he wanted to make it in the NBA. He explained that while it’s not going to be easy to make it to that point and Cole would draw the attention of everyone who has worked their whole lives to get to that point, “I believe in him and I believe that he’s a youngster that has a lot of desire.”
“I said to get one of these NBA jerseys, it’s not gonna be easy. It’s gonna be a lot of hate, it’s gonna be a lot of people not believing in you but you know J. Cole — he got the right size, he in the gym!”
“But, what I told him … this a different time we’re in. They’re going to pick you apart! You’re gonna have to be able to hit every shot and if you don’t hit every shot, they — you know in the NBA, they don’t hit every shot but they believe in them. So, you’re gonna have to go somewhere where the team really believe in you and the players believe in you.”
Cole is a well-documented basketball fan and has frequently shown that he’s one of the best hoopers in the rap game — he notably tried to walk-on to the basketball program at St. John’s when he was in school. Of course, being a walk-on college basketball player as a teenager or 20-something and making the NBA as a 35-year-old are two very, very different things, but if he does indeed try to pursue this seriously, Cole has the support of Master P.
TikTok, the video sharing app that bowed in 2016, filled the hole left by Vine, and it’s only gotten more popular during the pandemic, with hordes of bored quarantiners creating inventive and often amusing content that’s helped distract us from what’s going on. But that may come to an end, at least in America. A few weeks ago it was reported that the U.S. government was considering banning it. And now the president is ramping that up.
As per CNBC, Donald Trump told reporters on Friday that he was seeking to ban the Chinese-owned app, which had 2 billion downloads in April alone. On the same day it was reported that Microsoft was in talks to buy the app from its owner, ByteDance. Trump said he didn’t support that deal, in part because of claims the service has been sharing U.S. user data with the Chinese government.
“As far as TikTok is concerned we’re banning them from the United States,” Trump told journalists. He didn’t specify exactly how he’d do that, saying, “Well, I have that authority. I can do it with an executive order or that.”
It may happen quickly, too. According to Axios, the a source close to the president says the ban is “on his desk.” That said, it’s not clear if by “ban” he means banning the app, as India has already done, or banning the Microsoft deal.
On Saturday, TikTok representatives released a statement, attacking the president’s threat. “These are the facts: 100 million Americans come to TikTok for entertainment and connection, especially during the pandemic. We’ve hired nearly 1,000 people to our US team this year alone, and are proud to be hiring another 10,000 employees into great paying jobs across the US,” it read. It continued:
“Our $1 billion creator fund supports US creators who are building livelihoods from our platform. TikTok US user data is stored in the US, with strict controls on employee access. TikTok’s biggest investors come from the US. We are committed to protecting our users’ privacy and safety as we continue working to bring joy to families and meaningful careers to those who create on our platform.”
Whatever happens, time to make your TikTok masterpiece before it’s (possibly) too late.
The Denver Nuggets kind of seem to get glossed over in the discourse about the Western Conference, no? The Los Angeles teams are the Los Angeles teams. The Rockets have a pair of MVPs, the Mavericks have a future MVP, the Thunder are the feel-good story in the conference, the Jazz saw one of their players kickstart the American response — to whatever meager extent there has been one, mind you — to a global pandemic.
And then there’s Denver, which sit in third place in the Western Conference as of this writing and coming off of a campaign where they won 54 games. They’re just a really solid basketball team, with a bunch of good players around one of the most uniquely-skilled big men that we’ve seen. The question — and the thing that could define their stint in the bubble — is what their ceiling is.
Michael Porter Jr.
1. Los Angeles Lakers: 49-14
2. Los Angeles Clippers: 44-20 (5.5) 3. Denver Nuggets: 43-22 (7.0)
4. Utah Jazz: 41-23 (8.5)
5. OKC Thunder: 40-24 (9.5)
6. Houston Rockets: 40-24 (9.5)
7. Dallas Mavericks: 40-27 (11.0)
8. Memphis Grizzlies: 32-33 (18.0)
9. Portland Trail Blazers: 29-37 (21.5)
10. New Orleans Pelicans: 28-36 (21.5)
11. Sacramento Kings: 28-36 (21.5)
12. San Antonio Spurs: 27-36 (22.0)
13. Phoenix Suns: 26-39 (24.0)
Saturday, August 1 — 1 p.m. ET — Miami Heat
Monday, August 3 — 4 p.m. ET — Oklahoma City Thunder
Wednesday, August 5 — 4 p.m. ET — San Antonio Spurs
Thursday, August 6 — 8 p.m. ET — Portland Trail Blazers
Saturday, August 8 — 3:30 p.m. ET — Utah Jazz
Monday, August 10 — 9 p.m. ET — Los Angeles Lakers
Wednesday, August 12 — 9 p.m. ET — Los Angeles Clippers
Friday, August 14 — TBD — Toronto Raptors
WHAT DOES SUCCESS LOOK LIKE?
Make it farther than they did last season. During the 2019 postseason, the Nuggets had the 2-seed, battled against the Portland Trail Blazers in the conference semifinals. It was a tight series, but during a Game 7 in Denver, the Blazers were able to come out on top and Denver started golfing a little earlier than they planned.
Now, this year might be more difficult for the Nuggets to make the conference finals due to the emergence of both Los Angeles teams, and barring something unforeseen, they’d have to beat one of them to make it farther than they did last year. Still, Denver wants to be among the conference’s elite, and with that comes with high expectations. They are 1-1 against the Clippers and 1-2 against the Lakers, but have back-to-back seeding games against both squads in the bubble.
Gary Harris: The former Michigan State standout is in the second year of a four-year extension that netted him $84 million. He got this deal because he’s a solid player, but the 25-year-old has hit a wall this season, averaging 10.4 points, 2.9 rebounds, and 2.4 assists in 31.8 minutes per game while hitting 42 percent of his shots from the field and 33.3 percent of his triples. As Michael Pina of SB Nation noted earlier this year, the Nuggets need Harris to be good for them to compete for titles, and it hurts Harris a ton that he’s dealing with a hip injury that will keep him out of the team’s first game and he was late to make it into the bubble.
The thing with Harris, as has always been the thing with Harris, is that he is still the guy that scored 17.5 points per game, connected on nearly 40 percent of his triples, and is a willing and versatile defender. Him finding that form makes Denver dangerous. Him continuing to languish makes the Nuggets a team that might not be able to make it out of the first round.
BIGGEST ON-COURT QUESTION
How healthy will they be? Bad news for those of us who wants eight games and a playoff run of the gigantic lineup: The Nuggets have all of Harris, Jamal Murray, and Will Barton in the bubble, even if they won’t play (or, in Murray’s case, might not play) in the team’s opener against Miami. A healthy and in-rhythm Denver team is going to be a tough out in the playoffs, but there are questions about how much time they’ll have to get guys healthy and ready to play.
The good news is that Nikola Jokic is an incredible basketball player. The number of guys who are his size with his pure level of skill and basketball IQ is awfully short, and those two things have made it so he’s able to dominate games despite his lack of speed or quickness. This year, he’s been an All-Star and will make a whole lot of All-NBA ballots after going for 20.2 points, 10.2 rebounds, and 6.9 assists per game.
The Rockets and Mavs capped off the second night of the NBA restart in Orlando with what might’ve been a thrilling opening-round playoff preview, in a game filled with plenty of scoring and very little defense as Houston eventually outlasted Dallas in overtime, 153-149.
James Harden dropped 49 points, nine rebounds, and eight assists to lead the Rockets, while Russell Westbrook added 30 points, 11 rebounds, and eight assists, despite shooting 13-of-30 from the field and committing six turnovers. Harden now has two consecutive seasons of 20 or more 40-point games.
Kristaps Porzingis led the Mavs with 39 points and 16 rebounds on the night, and Luka Doncic logged his 15th triple-double of the season with 28 points, 11 rebounds, and 10 assists, but a late-game collapse recalled a troubling trend for Dallas.
The Mavs have had a historically good offense this season, yet have been one of the worst teams in the league in crunch time, as they let the Rockets climb back into it late in the fourth quarter and force overtime after a wild finish in regulation.
With 3.9 seconds remaining, Harden got fouled on the inbounds pass while trying to get into his shooting motion, but the officials ruled it on the floor, giving him two free-throws with the Rockets down three. He made the first, then missed the second, but Robert Covington was able to sneak into the lane and get the tip-in to tie it up at 139-139 to send it to overtime.
Covington also hit a key three-pointer late in the extra period to give Houston a four-point advantage, despite going 0-of-9 from downtown up to that point, and the Rockets were able to hold on from there to get the win.
There wasn’t much defense to speak of in this contest, particularly in the first half as the two teams combined for 160 points before halftime, the highest point total of the season so far for a half. The Mavs’ 85 points also tied a franchise record set back in 1983 against the Nuggets.
Both teams got some key contributions from their role players. Houston had seven players in double-digit scoring on the night, including Danuel House Jr., who knocked down 6-of-12 from three to finish with 20 points, and Ben McLemore, who scored 13 points on perfect 4-of-4 shooting from downtown.
Trey Burke and Tim Hardaway Jr. both came up big for Dallas on the other end. Burke dropped 31 points off the bench on 8-of-10 from behind the arc, while Hardaway went 5-of-8 from three for 24 points of his own.
Expectations have been awfully high for what Sabrina Ionescu, the No. 1 pick in the 2020 WNBA Draft, would bring to the league from day one. Her first two games were a pair of losses, but Ionescu still turned heads during the league’s “wubble” at IMG Academy in Florida, averaging 22.5 points, 6.5 rebounds, and 5.5 assists through this incredibly early juncture.
Ionescu looked impressive in the first half of her third game, a tilt against the Atlanta Dream, but unfortunately for the New York Liberty’s young star, she went to the locker room a bit before the end of the half. While pushing the ball up the floor, Ionescu’s foot came down on the foot of Atlanta’s Betnijah Laney, and anyone who has ever played basketball can guess what happened next.
Aside from the health and safety concerns, one of the biggest apprehensions about resuming the NBA season had to do with whether it might distract from the Black Lives Matter movement that had swept across the country in the wake of George Floyd’s death at the hands of police.
In the end, the NBA opted to return, but with emphasis on using its platform and its influence to bring awareness to the ongoing fight for social reform. Since scrimmages began, several players have used their postgame availability to call for justice for Breonna Taylor, and on opening night Thursday, all four teams, along with coaches, referees, and team personnel, took a knee during the national anthem to advocate for change.
Many players have also ponied up considerable sums of cash to put toward various causes that are geared toward helping minorities and other disenfranchised groups. Kyrie Irving, for instance, has pledged $1.5 million to help provide financial support for WNBA players who are opting out the wubble in order to continue fighting for the cause.
Now, Kings forward Harrison Barnes and his wife Brittany have announced that they will donate $200,000 of their own money to various non-profit initiatives. Here’s more from the official press release:
With the Kings playing 8 games during the official restart to the season, Barnes will dedicate every game to a different organization by contributing $25K to the nonprofit and highlighting their mission on his social media.
Since breaking into the NBA, Barnes has been known for his altruistic efforts in supporting the Black community. As all eyes return to basketball this week, the Barnes’ are utilizing this time to put the spotlight on organizations that are dedicated to helping fight racial injustice and support those who have been victims of police brutality.
These are the eight organizations that the Barnes will donate to: the Trayvon Martin Foundation, the Botham Jean Foundation, the Atatiana Project, Mothers Against Police Brutality, the Michael Brown Foundation, the Tamir Rice Foundation, the Jordan Davis Foundation, and the African American Policy Reform (#SayHerName campaign).
Halo is going free-to-play in at least one way this fall. Microsoft’s killer app for the Xbox Series X had a major announcement a week after showing off a first look at the 343 Studios title gracing the next-gen console this holiday season.
The Xbox Series X games event only showed off a demo of the game’s campaign mode, but multiplayer has been an essential element of the game’s appeal from the beginning and Infinite will be no different. Which is why it’s big news that much like other major shooters, Halo Infinite‘s multiplayer will be free-to-play.
The move here is an obvious one: it’s incentive for gamers on the fence about buying a new console to find value in the Series X. But it’s also following a trend in gaming that doesn’t appear to be going away. The much-hyped Halo campaign will still cost those who want to continue Master Chief’s story, but others looking for a much bigger fight online will have to pay less to do it this fall.
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