What The Russell Westbrook Trade Means For The Los Angeles Lakers

The quest to maximize whatever elite years remain in LeBron James took another turn, and perhaps the sharpest one yet, with the Los Angeles Lakers getting Russell Westbrook in a major Draft-day trade.

This was a deal that required the Lakers to cross their fingers while shaking hands with the Washington Wizards. That’s because, as combustible as Westbrook is — he’s rewritten all the triple-double records in the book — his skill-set fits only in certain systems and situations. Placing Westbrook next to LeBron and also Anthony Davis will require adjustments and sacrifices with everyone involved in this Big Three experiment, but especially with Westbrook.

First, the deal itself: Westbrook, the 2024 second-round pick and 2028 second-round pick go to the Lakers and Kentavious Caldwell-Pope, Montrezl Harrell, Kyle Kuzma and the 22nd pick go to Washington, as first reported by The Athletics’ Shams Charania.

Westbrook is easily the heavyweight in the deal, as a former MVP and nine-time All-Star who’s coming off his third career season averaging a triple-double – 22.2 points, 11.5 rebounds and 11.7 assists in his only season with the Wizards.

Westbrook now goes to his fourth team in four years, and just as curious, he’s aligned with yet another superstar in an effort to develop championship chemistry. There was no payoff in Oklahoma City with Kevin Durant and then Paul George, or the Rockets with James Harden, and certainly not the rebuilding Wizards who had little to offer as help besides Bradley Beal.

With the exception of reaching the NBA Finals with Durant — and that happened almost 10 years ago — Westbrook has advanced as far as the conference finals just twice despite those starry tandems.

Westbrook proved last season at age 32 that he’s still a highly productive point guard who plays at a rapid pace. That aids him at reaching the rim for layups, pushing the ball upcourt on the fast break, and out-rebounding taller players even in traffic. It also results in turnovers, too, as a result of his high-risk, high-usage style.

He’ll be teammates with LeBron, a player he respects, and a player who’d be willing to adjust for someone of Westbrook’s caliber. One area where LeBron can and probably must sacrifice is ball-handling. While LeBron assumed that role since arriving in LA three years ago to great success, Westbrook is most effective with the ball. Without it, Westbrook must play off the ball, where his shooting issues become more glaring.

Also, Westbrook has never had a big man with Davis’ talent. Therefore, the change of scenery plus an uptick in the caliber of running partners should trigger something positive within Westbrook, or at least the Lakers hope.

Whether it results in another championship is anyone’s guess, though. LeBron and Davis are coming off a frustrating season because of injuries largely to blame for their first-round playoff exit. Now they’ll get a celebrated third partner who will allow them to recharge and reboot.

The reason for adding Westbrook is clear: The Lakers are doing whatever they can, within the constraints of the salary cap, to give LeBron as many swings at the championship plate as possible. With LeBron entering a 19th season, he’s running out of time to get a fifth ring. And Westbrook is running out of teams.

Source: NBA

After 105 Years, Cleveland Changing Name From Indians To Guardians After 2021 Season

Known as the Indians since 1915, Cleveland’s Major League Baseball team will next be called the Guardians.

The ballclub announced the name change Friday with a video on Twitter narrated by actor Tom Hanks, ending months of internal discussions triggered by a national reckoning by institutions and teams to permanently drop logos and names considered racist.

The name change is effective at the end of the 2021 season.

Cleveland’s new name was inspired by the large landmark stone edifices — referred to as traffic guardians — that flank both ends of the Hope Memorial Bridge, which connects downtown to Ohio City. As the team moved closer to making a final decision on the name, team owner Paul Dolan said he found himself looking closely at the huge art deco sculptures.

“Frankly, I hadn’t studied them that closely until we started talking about them and I should emphasize, we’re not named after the bridge, but there’s no question that it’s a strong nod to those and what they mean to the community,” he said following a news conference at the ballpark.

The organization spent most of the past year whittling down a list of potential names that was at nearly 1,200 just over a month ago. But the process, which the team said included 140 hours of interviews with fans, community leaders, front-office personnel and a survey of 40,000 fans, quickly accelerated, and the club landed on Guardians.

Dolan has said last summer’s social unrest, touched off by the killing of George Floyd in Minneapolis, spurred his intention to change the club’s name.

“We do feel like we’re doing the right thing and that’s what’s driving this,” Dolan said. “I know some people disagree, but if anything I’ve gotten more and more comfortable that we’re headed in the right direction.

“And actually, the selection of the name solidifies that feeling because of the values that the name represents.”

The team’s colors will remain the same, and the new Guardians logos will incorporate some of the architectural features of the bridge.

In 2018, the Indians stopped wearing the contentious Chief Wahoo logo on their jerseys and caps. However, the team continues to sell merchandise bearing the smiling, red-faced caricature that has drawn protests from Native American groups for decades.

Cleveland’s change comes as the Washington Football Team continues to work toward a similar makeover. Washington recently said it will reveal a new name and logo in 2022.

Source: ESPN

TK Kirkland: Parents Should Push Their Kids, Look At Floyd, Michael, Serena And Tiger

In this clip, TK Kirkland explained why some people are more gifted than others, including Eddie Murphy, who is gifted in the world of comedy. TK then spoke about other greats, including the Williams sisters, Tiger Woods, Michael Jackson, and Floyd Mayweather, as people who were pushed by their parents to be great. To hear his full argument on why some people “need a little dictatorship,” hit the above clip.

NBA Sixth Man Of The Year Jordan Clarkson Helps Restore Filipino Food Truck (World Famous Yum Yum Asian Food Truck) After Racist Vandalism

Utah Jazz guard Jordan Clarkson helped restore a Filipino food truck that was vandalized last week with racist slurs and derogatory images.

According to Austin Facer of ABC 4, Clarkson was one of a number of people who joined IdentityGraphx and helped restore the World Famous Yum Yum Food Truck, which serves Asian fusion and Filipino food in northern Utah, after the vandalism.

Layton, Utah, Mayor Joy Petro and city council members were also involved in the restoration, and the food truck revealed its new paint job before its reopening at the Philippine Independence Day celebration on Saturday in Salt Lake City.

The owners of the truck thanked those involved in a Facebook post:

“It has been an emotional few days. The love and support that we got from all of you has been deeply heartfelt. My family can’t thank you guys enough. Special thanks to Utah Jazz’s Jordan Clarkson and Dan from Identity graphics for the new look. We want to thank everyone individually in a couple weeks when we have our LOVE celebration in the park and feed the community. Thanks to Mayor Joy Petro, Councilman Clint Morris, Councilman Zach Bloxham, Dustin, everyone in the neighborhood and all of you angels. Love prevails. We are going to have our grand reopening this Saturday at the Philippine independence day celebration in slc.”

On Wednesday, Layton Police announced they are still looking for those responsible for the vandalism and offered a $500 reward for information that leads to their arrest.

Source: Bleacher Report

Serbian Volleyball Player Sanja Djurdjevic Suspended After Making Anti-Asian Racist Gesture During Match Against Thailand

A Serbian volleyball player has been suspended for two matches after she was caught on camera stretching her eyelids — a racist gesture used to mock people with Asian heritage — during an international competition between Serbia and Thailand.

Sanja Djurdjevic violated the sport’s disciplinary rules on June 1 while competing in the match in Italy, according to a statement given Tuesday from the FIVB Disciplinary Panel Sub-Committee.

In addition to the suspension, the independent body, which is responsible for imposing disciplinary sanctions within FIVB competitions, fined Serbia’s volleyball federation the equivalent of $22,000. According to the panel, the FIVB will donate the money to a cause dedicated to tackling discriminatory behavior and/or to fund educational programs on cultural sensitivity.

Greater accountability

Posting on her since deactivated account, Djurdjevic apologized for her actions. “I am aware of my mistake and I immediately after the match apologized to the whole Thailand team.”

“I only wanted to address my teammates with the message: ‘Now, we will start playing defense like them,’ I didn’t mean to disrespect anyone,” she added.

The Volleyball Federation of Serbia also posted a conciliatory message on Facebook saying they “apologize sincerely” to the Thailand team, but asked people, “don’t blow this out of proportion! Sanja is aware of her mistake and she immediately apologized to the whole Thailand team.”

“She didn’t mean any disrespect. Of course, it was unfortunate. It all ended up as a simple misunderstanding, in a friendly atmosphere between the players of the two teams,” continued the team statement.

Attached to the written apology was a video shared by one of the Thai players, and an image of teammates from both sides standing together.As screenshots of the incident were widely shared on social media, thousands signed a petition calling for greater accountability.

“An apology is the bare minimum as a human being. But Djurdjevic and the National Volleyball Team represent their country in an official sport with official FIVB rules and those rules need to be upheld to maintain credibility and set the standard for the world,” the petition said.

A global reckoning

Djurdjevic’s actions come as the world reckons with a global spike in anti-Asian racism. From the UK to Australia, reports of anti-East and anti-Southeast Asian hate crimes have increased in Western countries as the pandemic took hold over the last year.

Athletes continue to speak out about violence towards Asian people, highlighting the role that social media plays in illuminating these incidents. Earlier this year, former NBA star Jeremy Lin encouraged spectators to “watch these videos to see this is actually happening.”

The FIVB confirmed that Djurdjevic’s sanction is “final,” adding that they are “committed to fostering understanding, solidarity and unity against all forms of discriminatory behavior.”

“The FIVB will continue to work tirelessly with all of its National Federations to ensure that these values are reflected across the whole community,” they added.

Source: CNN

AEW Announcer Willie Urbina Fired After Mocking Longest-Reigning Women’s World Champion’s Japanese Accent

What happened: Willie Urbina mocked the accent of Hikaru Shida, 32, who is currently the longest-reigning AEW Women’s World Champion.

  • The incident, which has now gone viral on social media, happened during a commercial break on last week’s episode of “AEW Dynamite.”
  • Co-announcer Alex Abrahantes asked Urbina to translate a promo for Shida, but Urbina instead gibbered in a mock Asian accent.
  • Co-announcer Thunder Rosa and Dasha Kuret told Urbina to stop, according to a translation for Fightful.
  • AEW has no breaks on FITE TV outside the U.S. for AEW Plus subscribers, so international viewers watching with Spanish commentary were able to hear the whole thing.
  • Shida lost to Britt Baker on Sunday’s “AEW Double or Nothing,” ending her 372-day reign, Wrestling Inc noted.

Fired: AEW fired Urbina last Saturday, just hours after the controversial broadcast, according to PW Insider.

  • Urbina, who worked for Impact Wrestling from 2006-2014, also did Spanish announcing for New Japan Pro-Wrestling.
  • AEW owner Tony Khan confirmed Urbina’s termination and apologized to Shida over the matter.
  • “I didn’t think there was any excuse. I was not happy. Afterwards, I heard what was said and having our commentators involved with what was said about her, who I also apologized to, I thought it was best for the company to make this decision,” Khan said, according to Fightful.
  • Shida responded to Urbina’s comments in English and Japanese tweets, expressing that she doesn’t care what “other people say about my race because I love it and [am] proud of it. I don’t even feel anger.”

Source: NextShark