Houston's pick in 2012, Royce White, and many others are working to help the league navigate anxiety disorders and other issues
POSTED: Jun 13, 2016 1:19 PM ET
Royce White last played in the NBA in 2013-14, logging nine total minutes over three games with the Kings.
In This Week's Morning Tip:
Can the NBA and its teams find better ways to help players suffering from mental illness?
He has thought about what it will be like when he gets on the court again.
"Playing is definitely important," Royce White was saying. "I think my experience has made it a very emotional piece of my life. I'd be an emotional wreck if I ever got the uniform back on."
He does not mean that literally. He is thinking about when he got the NCAA Tournament in 2012, when he was playing for Iowa State, and he looked up in the stands and saw his family, and looked across and saw UConn coach Jim Calhoun, all of the "emotion and anger and fear" came out of him.
"That's how I mustered up enough momentum and energy to come out on that first play and dunk on their whole team," he said. "That's what was going on. So, I know myself. If I was to come back with a team that supported me, and we knew my actual skill was going to show through, man, I'd be a wreck before that game started. But once it started, I'd find my rhythm and get over it. But it's a very emotional thing for me."
It has been more than four years since Royce White played in that college game. He is still hoping to get into his first NBA game, four years after the Houston Rockets took him No. 16 overall in the 2012 Draft. But White never played for Houston, as he and the team struggled to agree on the best course of action to deal with White's mental illness. He was traded to the Philadelphia 76ers in the summer of 2013, and released before the start of that season.
He believes the NBA's lack of a comprehensive mental health policy, and a subsequent inability to deal with mental illness, or with anyone else's, is one of the biggest reasons why he's still waiting.
But this is not a search for heroes or villains. White isn't all wrong or right, and neither were the Rockets or the league. The reality is that the NBA, like a lot of private companies, and families, and communities, struggles with serving and helping people with mental illness.
There have been too many players who've struggled mightily, and publicly, with different types of mental health problems in the past few years, with few positive outcomes. Among them are ex-Milwaukee Bucks center Larry Sanders, former Cleveland Cavaliers guard Delonte West, Los Angeles Lakers forward Metta World Peace, former Boston Celtics guard Keyon Dooling and former Rockets and Timberwolves forward Eddie Griffin, who died in a car crash at age 25 in 2007.
Royce White on HBO's Real Sports
Royce White tells Bernard Goldberg what it will take to end his dispute with the Rockets and get back on the court.
Former WNBA star Chamique Holdsclaw made a documentary this year that details her battles with severe depression. NBA Hall of Famer Jerry West documented his lifelong battle with depression in his autobiography, detailing suicidal and homicidal thoughts that tormented him throughout his life and ripped away much of the joy he took from playing. But West says he basically treated himself.
"I was a 15-year-old kid growing up in Minnesota when Eddie Griffin died," White said. "I don't care if an NBA player doesn't commit suicide, or doesn't have some extreme psychosis or doesn't commit some crime that suggest mental health issues. I don't care if that doesn't happen for the next 30 years. It doesn't mean it is safe today."
At 25, White could be entering the prime of his career. Instead, after taking part in a veterans' minicamp with the New York Knicks last week that included Anthony Bennett, the former No. 1 overall pick in the 2013 Draft, White is still looking for the right NBA fit, while continuing his advocacy for improving and enhancing mental health programs -- starting with the NBA.
"Of course I want to play," White said a couple of weeks ago. "But why am I not playing? Let's have that conversation."
White suffers from Generalized Anxiety Disorder (GAD), defined by the Anxiety and Depression Association of America (ADAA) as a condition where patients "experience excessive anxiety and worry, often expecting the worst even when there is no apparent reason for concern. They anticipate disaster and may be overly concerned about money, health, family, work, or other issues." A person is diagnosed with GAD when these symptoms appear more often than not over a six-month period. According to ADAA, 6.8 million adults, or 3.1 percent of the U.S. population, are affected by GAD in a particular year.
According to the National Institutes of Health's National Institute of Mental Health, there were, in 2014, an estimated 43.6 million adults aged 18 or older in the United States that had suffered from some form of mental illness in the past year. That number represented more than 18 percent of all U.S. adults. NIMH also estimated 9.8 million adults aged 18 or older -- 4.2 percent of all U.S. adults -- had a serious mental illness in 2014.
Dr. Drew on GameTime
CNN's Dr. Drew joins GameTime to talk about Houston Rockets rookie Royce White's anxiety disorder.
NIMH defines a serious mental illness as a mental, behavioral or emotional disorder outside of substance use disorders or developmental disorders that results in "serious functional impairment, which substantially interferes with or limits one or more major life activities."
White takes medication for his condition. He had encouraging conversations with the Knicks' new coach, Jeff Hornacek, during last week's camp. He thinks the triangle offense is "super cool" for any player. And, he waits.
"The biggest thing with Royce is establishing a trust factor with him," said Fred Hoiberg, White's coach at Iowa State and now the Bulls' coach. "As simple as sitting in the office and talking to him. I would talk to him about everything else other than basketball. We talked about music, we talked about politics. That was the biggest thing, establishing a trust factor with him. Once you had that, he would run thru a wall for you."
Many teams utilize psychologists and psychiatrists, but the level of attachment of the doctor to the sinew of the team varies.
The Dallas Mavericks were among the first NBA teams to utilize a full-time psychologist, Don Kalkstein, who's been with the team for 15 years. But Kalkstein doesn't just show up when things go bad. He travels with the team. He sits on the bench. His office is at the team's arena, American Airlines Center.
Royce White At Shootaround
Rockets first-round draft pick Royce White is scheduled to play with the D-League affiliate Rio Grande Valley Vipers on Tuesday.
But that's still the exception rather than the rule.
White's been very consistent in his arguments over the years. He believes the NBA does not have any policies or protocols to specifically deal with anyone -- players, coaches, team employees -- that have mental health issues. He believes that teams should not have decision-making authority over a player's treatment for mental health problems and that those decisions should be made by the player's personal physician and/or outside physicians who specialize in mental health.
And he believes that the NBA, like other businesses, operates in a profit-first mode that doesn't value its employees as much as it does continuing a system that maximizes money instead of, as White puts it, "finding a harmony between humanitarianism and entrepreneurship."
He makes it clear, over the course of two long phone conversations that he does not want to tear down the NBA. He wants to make it better. But he's not going to compromise on how he thinks that can happen.
"Yes, there's ingenuity, and yes, there's profit," he says. "But there's also a compass, a True North, that always points to what's going to help people. In all fairness, the NBA probably has a group of people who believe that that's who they are, too. And there may be a group of people who really are that. I'm not saying Adam Silver is an (expletive). I want you to quote me. I'm not saying David Stern is an (expletive). What I'm saying is they have allowed themselves to become part of a system that does not fully represent what they could be."
Last month, White penned an open letter to the NBA and the National Basketball Players Association, which was co-signed by four physicians who specialize in treating the mentally ill, including White's personal physician, Dr. Mary Wilkens.
"Years ago, the National Basketball Association helped usher in a new movement," White wrote in the letter. "Before, basketball was a game played on almost every street corner; it was a niche sport that received little attention. It was something only known by a few. The League changed this. The League started a movement. This effort is not that dissimilar to mental health. The only difference is that we have not paid attention to mental health in the same way we did to furthering the game."
White is among many dealing with their mental health issues, and forcing those fortunate enough not to have to deal with them personally, in much more public and uncompromising ways than in the past. People who live in the public eye (such as my friend Trenni Kusnierek, a reporter and anchor at Comcast Sports New England) now talk more openly about their problems in an attempt to help others.
World Peace, famously, thanked his psychiatrist after starring in the Lakers' Game 7 NBA Finals win over the Celtics in 2010. He sold his championship ring later that year, raising more than $500,000, to help schools in the L.A. area to hire more mental health workers. He has also been a constant presence over the years at the Resnick Neuropsychiatric Hospital at UCLA, speaking to residents whose mental illnesses run the gamut from simple to severe.
"I confess I was a little skeptical," said Dr. Tom Strouse, the Medical Director at the Resnick Hospital. "This was something the Lakers had arranged and I didn't know how much of it was good faith. But the guy is real. The sincerity. Once you saw him, all of that (skepticism) went away. He's the only celebrity who's ever done this ... to see him work into the child adolescent unit, which has children as young as five, and see these kids, L.A. kids, to see the expression on their faces, and to sit down and reassure them. One of his core messages is to reject stigma, and ask for some help. It doesn't make you a less good person. One of my colleagues said it was one of the most beautiful psychotherapy sessions he'd ever seen."
Royce White Finishes
Michael Carter-Williams' block leads to a great no-look pass by Royce White to Thaddeus Young for the bucket.
Social media outlets are giving a common voice to millions of people worldwide who once hid in the shadows and never told strangers about their conditions. They are "coming out" in their workplaces and demanding employers adhere to the 1990 Americans With Disabilities Act, which made it illegal to discriminate against an employee with a mental health problem.
The ADA instructs employers to seek what it calls "reasonable accommodation" for employees with mental health problems to perform the essential parts of their jobs, though they may not be able to perform marginal or incidental job functions. It defines reasonable accommodation as "any modification or adjustment to a job or the work environment that will enable a qualified applicant or employee with a disability to participate in the application process or to perform essential job functions. Reasonable accommodation also includes adjustments to assure that a qualified individual with a disability has rights and privileges in employment equal to those of employees without disabilities."
The public tends to focus on mental health issues when the most extreme cases detonate in the form of the mass shootings that have become a sadly regular occurrence in recent years. The latest one is the awful killings at an Orlando night club Saturday, where 50 people died in the worst act of mass murder on U.S. soil since 9/11. But, while horrible, those are outliers, and help maintain the stigma that still plagues people with mental health problems.
White chafes at the incorrect shorthand that has been used to describe his GAD: he can't fly on planes. That wasn't true. He flew several times in college. But he knew there could be times, during the long NBA season, when it would have been better for him to drive.
"He took a trip to Europe," Hoiberg said by phone last week. "He flew to Italy with us and didn't have any issues. The first time Royce came to me and asked if he could drive was the second to last game of the year, at Kansas State. We didn't have a shootaround that game and it was really a short drive. He had his grandfather in town and he said can I drive, and I said okay. He had a great game and played his ass off. Then he said 'what do you think, Coach; can I drive to Missouri?' I said 'damn right you can drive to Missouri.' "
Defense To Offense
Rodney Williams gets the block on Jose Barea and on the other end Royce White drives for the breakaway dunk.
In the first round of the NCAAs, White dominated Connecticut's Andre Drummond -- now the Pistons' hub at center -- with 15 points and 13 rebounds. Iowa State won by 13. In the next round, the Cyclones played a Kentucky team that featured future first-round picks Anthony Davis, Michael Kidd-Gilchrist and Marquis Teague that went on to win the national championship.
"Royce was the best player on the floor," Hoiberg said.
(Before you ask: no, I didn't ask Hoiberg if he'd lobby for Chicago to sign White as a free agent or invite him to camp. Given the sensitivities of what we're dealing with, it wouldn't be fair or right for either one of them to have to deal with such scenarios in public just for a potential story.)
"I talked to Royce two days ago," Hoiberg said. "I had a really good talk with him, talked to him about what direction he wants to go in with his life. He has to take a little bit different path to get back to the NBA level, and that's the big decision he has to make -- how he wants to show he wants to get back to the NBA."
But White is also interested in reinventing the way the league identifies with mental health as a whole. Veterans who return from war with post-traumatic stress disorder obviously have mental health problems. But so do people who abuse drugs, he says. And the NBA's unwilling to couple the two, in his opinion.
"In a second, what's going to end up happening is the shoe's going to drop, and people are going to realize that what I was saying four years ago wasn't farfetched, and it wasn't arrogant. It was just a fact," he says. "There is no mental health policy. They know it, I know it. And the only thing that's going to become obvious now is that, all of the social issues that they seem like they were for, on the surface, underneath they really weren't for, out of their lack of mental health acknowledgment. You can't say you're for anti-gun violence if you don't have a mental health policy."
You talk about two players who are the hybrid, new looking four man. Who are you talking about? You're talking about Draymond Green. And when he was in college, there was only one other player who led his team in every statistic. And he led his in four; I actually led mine in five.
– Royce White
The difference between White's previous complaints about the NBA's approach is that, now, he has doctors publicly backing him.
"The NBA, in my mind, is just like any other employer," said Dr. Ben Miller, one of the other physicians who co-signed White's letter, and who is the director of the Eugene S. Farley, Jr., Health Policy Center at the University of Colorado Denver School of Medicine.
"If we think about how employers are responsible for their employees, employers buy benefits packages for their employees," Miller said. "I see the NBA and the commission and entities like the NBPA as being like the federal government. I see each individual team as being like a state. Each team/state will buy their own type of benefits. There's not a standard for determining what their minimum amount of benefits are. One team may have a package that has better mental health benefits than other teams."
The league says that while there is not currently a separate and distinct mental health policy enumerated in the Collective Bargaining Agreement, all players have access to mental health professionals and treatment programs as part of their benefits package.
"Each case is obviously individual and not, policy is a little stricter than the word I would probably use," said Kathy Behrens, the NBA's President for Social Responsibility and Player Programs. "And I also would just take a step back and say that what we've really been focusing on, in addition to the policy and the care, is trying to make sure that players understand how important it is that they avail themselves of these resources, and that they understand that it's not a sign of weakness to say that they might need help."
The league, Behrens said, constantly works with mental health professionals to try and keep its programs, as she put it, best in class. Former players who have had mental health problems speak to rookies at the Rookie Transition Program that each first-year player attends before the start of training camp, as well as during Team Awareness meetings that take place during the season.
"And I think in this space, we're trying to think about, first of all, the learning has gotten better," Behrens said. "Everybody is much more aware. I think we've done a really good job with our guys about reducing that stigma, thanks to people who've been open about their stories, and open about the journey that they've been on. But we are looking at other ways that we can strengthen that program, in ways that both the league and the union feel really strongly about. And, again, not with a new policy, but what we're working on is an enhanced program in this space. I think that's something we've said publicly. I don't want to get into the details of it, but it's something we're looking at."
I had a really good talk with him, talked to him about what direction he wants to go in with his life. He has to take a little bit different path to get back to the NBA level, and that's the big decision he has to make -- how he wants to show he wants to get back to the NBA.
– Bulls coach Fred Hoiberg, who coached White in college
Behrens said finding common ground with the union on how to enhance the existing benefits available to players that would address mental health is a priority for the league.
"But again, the priority is twofold," she said. "The priority is, in the most general sense, helping players manage the stress that comes with life in the NBA, that comes with demands that they have. Some of them are external forces; some of them are internal. How do you help a rookie deal with not playing as much as he's used to playing? How do you help a rookie deal with life traveling as much as they do? How do you help young fathers be better dads? All of those things are in play.
"It's a sort of very general, support, resources, interaction, mentoring, all of those things ... very generally, the sort of mental wellness: how are you managing the stress to do the best on the court and in your job that you can be? That's a huge priority for us and the union and all of our teams. In terms of, again, the players that have real mental health issues, we want to continue to make sure we have a best in class program and the resources to help those guys."
But Behrens, while not specifically addressing White's situation with the Rockets, says that the league does not believe that outside mental health physicians should have decision-making authority about courses of treatment for players.
It's a sort of very general, support, resources, interaction, mentoring, all of those things ... very generally, the sort of mental wellness: how are you managing the stress to do the best on the court and in your job that you can be? That's a huge priority for us and the union and all of our teams.
– Kathy Behrens, NBA President for Social Responsibility and Player Programs
"They can certainly have a seat at the table, but at some point, somebody has to be the decision-maker, and it has to be, in this case, the employer has to have control over how that's going to function," she said. "Because you can't vet every doctor that everybody sees, and in some cases, you have different opinions among doctors. That happens often. If you have a knee injury, you should go get a second opinion. But at some point, the employer, it can't be decision by committee. Someone has to own the decision. At this point, we still think the team doctor is the right person to do that decision."
That dichotomy was at the heart of White's problems with Houston. But despite getting there two months early to begin workouts and living in Texas with his advisor, James Walker -- Walker married White's mother's cousin, and has known him since he was 7 -- White never got on the court for the Rockets. His relationship with the team and general manager Daryl Morey disintegrated as they tried to address how to work through his disorder in a way that would allow him to play.
Again: no one came to the discussions with ill intentions. But White came to believe the Rockets did not serve him well. According to him:
1. the Rockets said that White had to go to a psychiatrist every day, even though that is generally not recommended as a treatment protocol for anyone dealing with mental health issues, including those who suffered from severe mental health problems such as schizophrenia;
2. the team-recommended psychiatrist told White that he had informed the team that he didn't recommend White come to him every day, but that the team informed the psychiatrist that if White didn't see him every day, the team would fine White, and that the psychiatrist felt obligated to inform White of that fact;
3. the team and White, White says, agreed to a protocol that laid out a basic plan for treatment going forward. He says the protocol was signed by White's personal physician, Dr. Mary Wilkens, the psychiatrist working with White, Dr. Aaron Fink, and the Rockets' medical team physician, Dr. James Muntz. However, at a December, 2012 meeting of the parties, Morey said that the team was not aware when it drafted White that he suffered from anxiety disorder at the time he was drafted.
Yet in a subsequent conversation between White and Muntz, Muntz said the team did know that White had anxiety disorder, having received his medical records from Iowa State before the team drafted him.
4. the Rockets' outside counsel, Michael Goldberg, subsequently took over as the team's representative in discussions with White. In one of the discussions that took place in order to try and keep the matter from going to arbitration, Goldberg said that if White signed an agreement with the team that avoided arbitration, he would assist White in trying to develop a more comprehensive mental health policy going forward. White agreed and signed, but was subsequently traded to the 76ers in the summer of 2013.
How is it a special privilege to go from a private plane, with your teammates, with food and everything that you could ask for, drive right up to the plane and the gate and you don't have to go through any security, how is it special treatment for me to say, you know what, I'm going to go the long route?. Ain't nothing special about it.
– Royce White
Walker spent all summer in Texas with White. He was at every workout, to the point where the Rockets had him help with working out some of the players. He says after White suffered back spasms and missed a week just before camp, the relationship with the team started to change.
"His doctor in Minnesota, she talked to me, too," Walker said. "She said, 'what are they doing for his anxiety?' I said, 'they're not doing anything.' And she talked to Royce. She also talked to Royce, she said 'how do you feel?' Royce was like, I don't know. They didn't want to talk to her. They wanted to deal with their own doctor. They didn't want to talk to her and they really didn't deal with Royce ... they just kind of brushed him off and he shut down."
The Rockets did not wish to respond publicly to White's claims, saying only through a team attorney that they wished him the best going forward. They do maintain that while White may have believed a protocol agreement between the team and him was in place, they are not in possession of one, or of a draft of one. Sources say the team did agree to several of White's requests during the negotiations, including the use of a bus to get to games, and hiring a personal trainer and nutritionist. Ultimately, though, they could never find enough common ground for White to return to the court, after playing for the Rockets' summer league team.
The Rockets liked, and like, White personally, the sources said. And professionally, they invested a high Draft pick in him; selfishly, if for no other reason, they hoped it would work out. And, at least they gave it a shot. But that is the frustration. It didn't work out. White lost trust in Morey and the team, and felt he was made out to be a selfish person with unrealistic intentions through subsequent stories about his dealings with the team.
"How is it a special privilege to go from a private plane, with your teammates, with food and everything that you could ask for, drive right up to the plane and the gate and you don't have to go through any security, how is it special treatment for me to say, you know what, I'm going to go the long route?," he asked. "Ain't nothing special about it. I don't need to take the private jet; I don't need to take the team-owned plane with the catered service. I'll take the bus. Give me a $50 stipend so that I can stop at Applebee's on the way. That's what we were really talking about."
But White does not want his story to just be a rehash of what went wrong in Houston. He is too young a man to tell old men's tales. He needs to start his career, play basketball somewhere, see if he can make a go of it professionally in a world that is still trying to figure out how to best serve the needs of people like him.
Everyone would need to give a little. Can he? Could a team? Can the league?
"I think so much of it would depend on how his trust level was with his particular coach," Hoiberg said. "It wasn't that hard for me. I carved out some time. Some times it was five minutes; sometimes it's an hour. At this level, some teams have psychiatrists. Absolutely, I think he could do it, because I've seen it work with him. Is there a specific formula? I know it's a different level and you're playing two games a week as opposed to four or five. There's so much more travel ... it's so much different. When he played the 10-day with Sac two years ago, I don't think there was any issue with the travel. I think there's a misconception with 'can he get on the plane?' That's just not true. It's something that I saw work with the kid. We'll see how it plays out."
In the meantime, White says he and fellow millennials aren't going back into the shadows.
"I want to play at the top level," White said. "And I should be able to. If we go back and talk about who I got drafted with, we talk about who's shining now, like Draymond (Green), who I love. I love his game. Again, you can't put more irony in a story than mine. You talk about two players who are the hybrid, new looking four man. Who are you talking about? You're talking about Draymond Green. And when he was in college, there was only one other player who led his team in every statistic. And he led his in four; I actually led mine in five. That was me."
Each week, our David Aldridge takes your questions and attempts to answer them as best he can. On to this week's submissions ...
An Alan Smithee Production. From Jen Smith:
Why are they acting like Green's suspension is The Decision Part II? If Green was suspended prior, then OKC might have won. Suspending Green now, doesn't tip the scales of justice, ala (sic) change the outcome of The Finals.
Game Time: Borgia on Green
Senior Vice President of Replay and Referee Operations Joe Borgia joins the show to discuss Draymond Green's suspension for Game 5.
Well, Green is the Warriors' best defensive player, and the guy that really makes loading up on either Stephen Curry or Klay Thompson on the offensive side of the floor almost impossible. It's a big deal to lose him, especially in a potentially clinching situation. It's not that I don't expect Golden State to ultimately win the series now, no matter what happens in Game 5. But it's always preferable to finish off a playoff opponent as soon as possible and not give it life. The Cavs have a better chance at getting back to Cleveland with Green out of Oracle Arena Monday night than in it.
Another Unsatisfied Customer. From Dan Chomiak:
I generally don't mind the Hack-A strategy and I am against changing the rules in order to benefit a small handful of players who embarrass themselves by not being able to make a simple free throw.
Commissioner Silver: Hack-a-Player Rule
Commissioner Adam Silver addresses the "Hack-a-Player" rule and says changes might be forthcoming.
But if the rules are going to change, as Adam Silver suggests they will, how about this as a compromise ... why not give coaches a limited number of times they can use the Hack-A in a game a la time outs. 4, 5,
6 times max -- the exact number could be up for discussion, but this way, the strategy could be retained, while at the same time, ensuring that games don't get bogged down by endless parades to the free throw line.
Your thoughts on this idea?
The Starters: Fill In The Blank: Redick's Foul On Drummond Was _________
Smart move? Annoying move? Both? Will it change "Hack-A-Shaq" rules?
It's not bad, Dan. The only problem is how would officials divine whether a foul was just a regular one or a Hack-A one? Coaches tend to be a sneaky bunch; they could just have one of their players blast through a screen set by a poor foul shooter, for example, to get a couple of extra Hack-As per game. But we agree on the basic premise. I still believe using a system based on how foul shots are awarded in college basketball is the way to go. Once a team reached the foul limit, it could use Hack-A just as it can now for team fouls five through seven. But after that, the under two minutes in the fourth quarter rule would apply, and the opposing team would get one free throw plus possession for any Hack-A.
A Man of Distinction. From Erhan Saygin:
Hi David, I have a simple question for you. Who is the most humble NBA player you have ever seen in your professional career? Thanks.
Of the players I interviewed on at least a semi-regular basis, Erhan, I'd go with Joe Dumars. You would never have known that he was one of the best two-way two guards of his generation (and, later, a Hall of Famer). He was polite, always had time for you and never gave off any airs. We'd talk as much about zydeco music or his family as we did the games or guarding Michael Jordan.
NBA Legends: Joe Dumars
Joe Dumars could play either shooting guard or point guard on offense and was a highly effective defender.
Send your questions, comments, criticisms and your reminders that one Mojito may well be too many to handle to firstname.lastname@example.org. If your e-mail is sufficiently funny, thought -- provoking, well -- written or snarky, we just might publish it!
(last week's averages in parentheses)
1) Stephen Curry (28.5 ppg, 3 rpg, 4.5 apg, .447 FG, .929 FT): Ayesha Curry made her feelings about LeBron James taking the so-called "high road" concerning Draymond Green's suspension and Klay Thompson's statements about the same clear Sunday. Ouch.
2) LeBron James (28.5 ppg, 12 rpg, 7.5 apg, .532 FG, .556 FT): Has dramatically cut back on the 3-point attempts during the Finals and in the playoffs; just 16 total in four games against Golden State and 75 in the postseason, which would be his lowest playoff total in six seasons.
3) Kevin Durant: Season complete.
4) Russell Westbrook: Season complete.
5) Kawhi Leonard: Season complete.
1) That was a wonderful tribute to Muhammad Ali Friday at his memorial service in Louisville, with entertainers like Billy Crystal and family and friends reinforcing how Ali was loved by, and loved, people around the world. Given what happened Sunday in Orlando, Ali's path of love and righteousness is even more appreciated.
2) Pretty sure this falls under "impermissible benefits."
3) Well, at least it looked like it was a warm summer afternoon
1) There is nothing to be said about what happened in Orlando Saturday night that will make any damn bit of difference, the way our country and our world insists on being at each other's throats and armed to the teeth. So you can only hope you're not there the next time someone decides to address their anger and grievances against humanity by trying to kill as many people as they can before being killed themselves.
2) A lot of people in the game were shaken by the death of former NBA player Sean Rooks, 46, from what is currently being called natural causes likely stemming from heart disease. Rooks spent the last two years as a player development coach with the Philadelphia 76ers, but he had a career's worth of friends at all levels of the game from his days playing with the Los Angeles Lakers, Los Angeles Clippers, Dallas Mavericks, Minnesota Timberwolves, Atlanta Hawks, New Orleans Hornets and Orlando Magic. He was talking with the New York Knicks about an assistant coaching job at the time of his death. All of us in the NBA family send condolences to his family and kids.
In Memoriam: Sean Rooks
A tribute to former NBA Player and Assistant Coach, Sean Rooks.
3) With James Harden and Russell Westbrook pulling out of the Rio Olympics, joining Stephen Curry, Chris Paul, Blake Griffin, Anthony Davis and LaMarcus Aldridge -- each of the latter group saying in-season injuries contributed to their decisions -- Jerry Colangelo is going to have a much different looking team than any that have played in recent cycles.
GameTime: Olympic Roster Hiccups?
The GameTime crew discusses the player withdrawals from the USA Olympic team.
4) Well, you can't be good at everything. How else do you learn empathy and humility?
17 -- Three-pointers made by the Warriors in Game 4 of the Finals Friday, a record for a single game in the championship series, besting the 16 the Spurs made against the Heat in Game 3 of the 2013 Finals.
Warriors Hot From 3-Point Land
The Golden State Warriors were hot from beyond the arc as they nailed 17 3-pointers in Game 4 on the Finals.
$162,000,000 -- Money raised last week through the sale of bonds by Milwaukee's Wisconsin Center District, the entity which will operate the Bucks' new arena. The official groundbreaking for the $524 million arena and surrounding structures will take place this Saturday, featuring former Bucks players including Oscar Robertson and Bob Lanier.
1 -- U.S. Olympic team appearances for DeMarcus Cousins, who was told last week that he's made the 2016 team that will play in Rio, according to the Sacramento Bee and other media reports. Cousins was outstanding in helping lead the U.S. team to the gold medal in the 2014 FIBA World Cup.
-- 76ers guard Nik Stauskas (@NStauskas11), Friday, 1:33 a.m., after he got the predictable Twitter treatment for having the audacity to express an opinion about something -- in this case, the U.S. presidential election. As Stauskas is Canadian, some felt he didn't have the right to chime in -- which is ironic, given that our country is built on folks being able to come here from anywhere and having the right to speak without government reprisal.
"It's something you never want to play around with. Right now, there's probably people calling Kevin Love soft. Those people are idiots. You don't mess around with the brain. You can be a hero now in The NBA Finals in 2015, 2016. And then, in 2021, when you're sucking food through a straw, nobody's going to give a (bleep) about what you did in 2016. You've got to be smart. It's great that the NBA put those protocols in, because there's a lot of stubborn athletes who try to play through everything. You have to take a step back and think about your future."
-- Warriors center Andrew Bogut, who suffered a concussion in 2012 and had to go through the league's concussion protocol, on the Cavs' Kevin Love, who missed Game 3 of The Finals after suffering a concussion in Game 2.
"I wanted to say one thing: I get too much credit probably for the success of the team. But when I stood in front of our team in the beginning of training camp, Larry Miller, who owned the team, said 'he's going to be here and you guys might not be.' And that's a true story. Every season I was the head coach, that's what we opened the season up with. I see that as one of the main things that seems not to happen a great deal anymore."
-- Hall of Fame Coach Jerry Sloan, who received the Chuck Daly Lifetime Achievement Award last week along with former Celtics and Bullets Coach K.C. Jones from the NBA Coaches' Association.
"My previous experiences with USA Basketball have been incredibly rewarding, educational and enjoyable, which made this an extremely difficult decision for me and my family. However, due to several factors -- including recent ankle and knee injuries -- I believe this is the best decision for me at this stage of my career."
-- Stephen Curry, explaining his decision last week to skip the Rio Olympics this summer.
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