Tag: National Basketball Association

N.B.A. to Move All-Star Game from North Carolina Over Discriminatory Bathroom Law

This year’s N.B.A. All-Star Game in Toronto. The league is set to announce a new site for next year’s game in the next few weeks. (Credit: Elsa/Getty Images)

article by via nytimes.com

The National Basketball Association on Thursday dealt a blow to the economy and prestige of North Carolina by pulling next February’s All-Star Game from Charlotte to protest a state law that eliminated anti-discrimination protections for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people.

The move was among the most prominent consequences since the law, which bars transgender people from using bathrooms in public buildings that do not correspond with their birth gender, was passed in March.

The league, which has become increasingly involved in social issues, said that both it and the Hornets, the N.B.A. team based in Charlotte, had been talking to state officials about changing the law but that time had run out because of the long lead time needed to stage the game. The N.B.A. said it hoped the game could be played in Charlotte in 2019, with the clear inference that the law would have to be changed before then.

“While we recognize that the N.B.A. cannot choose the law in every city, state and country in which we do business, we do not believe we can successfully host our All-Star festivities in Charlotte in the climate created by the current law,” a statement by the league said.

Gov. Pat McCrory of North Carolina issued a blistering statement soon after the announcement by the N.B.A., in which he said “the sports and entertainment elite,” among others, had “misrepresented our laws and maligned the people of North Carolina simply because most people believe boys and girls should be able to use school bathrooms, locker rooms and showers without the opposite sex present.”

Mr. McCrory did not specifically refer to the N.B.A. in his statement, but he said that “American families should be on notice that the selective corporate elite are imposing their political will on communities in which they do business, thus bypassing the democratic and legal process.”

Others weighed in with support for the N.B.A.’s move, including two of its broadcast partners — Turner Sports and ESPN.

In taking the action it did, the N.B.A. is following the path already taken by others. A number of musicians, including Bruce Springsteen, Ringo Starr and Itzhak Perlman, canceled concerts in North Carolina to protest the law, and there have been calls for repeal of the legislation by a number of businesses, some of which have canceled plans to create new jobs in the state.

All-Star weekend is one of the most dazzling and lucrative events on the league’s annual schedule. In addition to the game, the league arranges three days full of activities for fans. There is a separate game for the league’s rising stars, a dunk contest and a 3-point contest.

Now all of that will be held elsewhere next February, with the N.B.A. to announce a new site for the game in the next few weeks.

To read full article, go to: http://www.nytimes.com/2016/07/22/sports/basketball/nba-all-star-game-moves-charlotte-transgender-bathroom-law.html

R.I.P. Legendary Harlem Globetrotter and Basketball Hall of Famer Meadowlark Lemon

The 1976-77 National Unit Harlem Globetrotters team. Kneeling, from left: Nate Branch, Curly Neal, Meadowlark Lemon and Jackie Jackson. Standing, from left: Dallas Thornton, Edmond Lawrence, Robert Paige, Twiggy Sanders and Jerry Venable. (Hulton Archive/Getty Images)
The 1976-77 National Unit Harlem Globetrotters team. Kneeling, from left: Nate Branch, Curly Neal, Meadowlark Lemon and Jackie Jackson. Standing, from left: Dallas Thornton, Edmond Lawrence, Robert Paige, Twiggy Sanders and Jerry Venable. (Hulton Archive/Getty Images)

Meadowlark Lemon, whose halfcourt hook shots, no-look behind-the-back passes and vivid clowning were marquee features of the feel-good traveling basketball show known as the Harlem Globetrotters for nearly a quarter-century, died on Sunday in Scottsdale, Ariz. He was 83.

His death was confirmed by his wife, Cynthia Lemon, who did not specify the cause.

A gifted athlete with an entertainer’s hunger for the spotlight, Lemon, who dreamed of playing for the Globetrotters as a boy in North Carolina, joined the team in 1954, not long after leaving the Army. Within a few years, he had assumed the central role of showman, taking over from the Trotters’ long-reigning clown prince Reece Tatum, whom everyone called Goose.

Tatum, who had left the team around the time Lemon joined it, was a superb ballplayer whose on-court gags — or reams, as the players called them — had established the team’s reputation for laugh-inducing wizardry at a championship level.

This was a time when the Trotters were known for more than their comedy routines and basketball legerdemain; they were also recognized as a formidable competitive team. Their victory over the Minneapolis Lakers in 1948 was instrumental in integrating the National Basketball Association, and a decade later their owner, Abe Saperstein, signed a 7-footer out of the University of Kansas to a one-year contract before he was eligible for the N.B.A.: Wilt Chamberlain.

Meadowlark Lemon showed off his large hands on arrival in London, where the Globetrotters performed at the Empire Pool in Wembley for a week in 1959. (Associated Press)
Meadowlark Lemon showed off his large hands on arrival in London, where the Globetrotters performed at the Empire Pool in Wembley for a week in 1959. (Associated Press)

By then, Lemon, who was 6 feet 3 inches tall and slender, was the team’s leading light, such a star that he played center while Chamberlain played guard.

Lemon was a slick ballhandler and a virtuoso passer, and he specialized in the long-distance hook, a trick shot he made with remarkable regularity. But it was his charisma and comic bravado that made him perhaps the most famous Globetrotter. For 22 years, until he left the team in 1978, Lemon was the Trotters’ ringmaster, directing their basketball circus from the pivot. He imitated Tatum’s reams, including spying on the opposition’s huddle, and added his own.

He threatened referees or fans with a bucket that like as not was filled with confetti instead of water. He dribbled above his head and walked with exaggerated steps. He mimicked a hitter in the batter’s box and, with teammates, pantomimed a baseball game. And both to torment the opposing team — as time went on, it was often a hired squad of foils — and to amuse the appreciative spectators, he smiled and laughed and teased and chattered; like Tatum, he talked most of the time he was on the court.

The Trotters played in mammoth arenas and on dirt courts in African villages. They played in Rome before the pope; they played in Moscow during the Cold War before the Soviet leader Nikita S. Khrushchev. In the United States, they played in small towns and big cities, in Madison Square Garden, in high school gyms, in cleared-out auditoriums — even on the floor of a drained swimming pool. They performed their most entertaining ballhandling tricks, accompanied by their signature tune, “Sweet Georgia Brown,” on “The Ed Sullivan Show.”

Through it all, Lemon became “an American institution like the Washington Monument or the Statue of Liberty” whose “uniform will one day hang in the Smithsonian right next to Lindbergh’s airplane,” as the Los Angeles Times columnist Jim Murray once described him.

Significantly, Lemon’s time with the Globetrotters paralleled the rise of the N.B.A. When he joined the team, the Globetrotters were still better known than the Knicks and the Boston Celtics and played for bigger crowds than they did. When he left, Larry Bird and Magic Johnson were about to enter the N.B.A. and propel it to worldwide popularity. In between, the league became thoroughly accommodating to black players, competing with the Globetrotters for their services and eventually usurping the Trotters as the most viable employer of top black basketball talent.

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NBA Players Bring Joy of Reading and Freedom of Play to At-Risk Children in South Africa

NBA players interact with the children during the NBA Cares Court Dedication as part of the Basketball Without Boarders program on July 31, 2015 at the SOS Children's Village in Ennerdale, South Africa. (Getty Images)
NBA players interact with the children during the NBA Cares Court Dedication as part of the Basketball Without Boarders program on July 31, 2015 at the SOS Children’s Village in Ennerdale, South Africa. (Getty Images)

Last Friday, National Basketball Association players, legends and executives visited the Ennerdale location of SOS Children’s Villages (SOS), an organization that builds stable, loving families for orphaned, abandoned and other vulnerable children, as part of their ongoing commitment to support and strengthen communities in need.  This is the third consecutive year the NBA family has visited SOS, one of three organizations set to benefit from the first NBA Africa Game that took place this past weekend in Johannesburg, South Africa.

In celebration of the 13th annual Basketball without Borders (BWB) Africa and the NBA Africa Game, NBA players participated in a number of activities with local children, including playing soccer, drawing and dancing. The NBA family also took part in a ribbon-cutting ceremony to celebrate a renovated local library and new basketball court made possible by NBA Cares and the National Basketball Players Association (NBPA) Foundation.

“I think the most important thing is to give children an opportunity play, an opportunity to get an education, an opportunity for a better future. And I think this is a wonderful place for you kids to accomplish that,” said Pau Gasol of the Chicago Bulls to the children present at the event.

Present at the event were NBA commissioner Adam Silver, Chris Paul (Los Angeles Clippers), Luol Deng (Miami Heat), Pau Gasol (Chicago Bulls), Marc Gasol (Memphis Grizzles) and other NBA players, coaches and executives.

 “Children don’t forget. Many of the youth we work with have been through trying and traumatic circumstances before finding their way to SOS,” said Siphiwe Maphanga, National Director of SOS Children’s Villages South Africa. “We are incredibly thankful for the NBA family’s unwavering commitment to support Ennerdale’s most vulnerable children. They are playing a pivotal role in the development of children who desperately need their support.”

For over 30 years, SOS Children’s Villages South Africa has supported children, families and communities through its family support and care programs, medical centers, and schools. The Ennerdale village, located south of Johannesburg, provides children the love and long-term support they need to shape their own futures. Since 2013, NBA players have visited this village as part of BWB Africa’s efforts to encourage positive social change throughout the African continent.

article by Lori Lakin Hutcherson (follow @lakinhutcherson)

President Obama Launches New Program “My Brother’s Keeper” to Help Young Black and Latino Men

Photo by Win McNamee/Getty Images

At an event that felt like a black church service at times, President Barack Obama spoke in deeply personal terms yesterday about growing up without a father and urged the entire country to get behind his newly-launched “My Brother’s Keeper” program to help young black and Latino men.  “I didn’t have a dad in the house and I was angry about it, even though I didn’t necessarily realize it at the time,” the president said of his childhood, with 20 black and Latino boys standing behind him in the White House’s East Room.

He added,”I made bad choices. I got high without always thinking about the harm that it could do. I didn’t always take school as seriously as I should have. I made excuses. Sometimes I sold myself short.”  But Obama said he was able to be successful because he had a mother, grandparents and teachers who would “push me to work hard and study hard and make the most of myself.”

As the president delivered a speech that alternated between talking about public policy and simply giving advice to both the minority boys behind him and those he hoped would watch the speech on television, a predominantly black audience of several hundred that included luminaries like Magic Johnson and Colin Powell several times shouted “amen” and “yes sir.”

“Yes, we need to train our workers, invest in our schools, make college more affordable — and government has a role to play.  And, yes, we need to encourage fathers to stick around, and remove the barriers to marriage, and talk openly about things like responsibility and faith and community.  In the words of Dr. King, it is not either-or; it is both-and,” Obama said.

The event was the formal launch of “My Brother’s Keeper,” which aims to pool resources of the federal government and also raise money and create new initiatives through businesses and foundations to target black and Latino males. Studies show men of color are less likely to graduate from high school, attend college or get jobs than white men or their female peers.

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