Ishmael El-Amin organizing ‘peaceful protest’ at Ball State: ‘We deserve change, and we demand it’

Ishmael El-Amin has been around long enough to have learned the names of so many men whose memories became the foundation of the Black Lives Matter movement: Eric Garner, Trayvon Martin, Freddie Gray, Walter Scott.

He admits, though, the death of George Floyd a week ago struck him even closer to home. Because El-Amin knows the street where Floyd was prone, his face forced to the gutter, a police officer’s knee pressed hard against his neck for nearly nine minutes.

“I grew up not too far from the place he died. My grandmother lived a couple blocks away from there,” El-Amin told Sporting News. “I have family that lives over there, on that side of town. It was important for me to make sure my family was OK, with me not being there to see with my own eyes they are safe. It’s a crazy time in Minneapolis right now.”

A graduate of Hopkins High in Minnetonka, Minn., El-Amin felt compelled to do something positive as he watched what unfolded on the streets of nearly every American city last weekend, the protests that were launched in response to Floyd’s death at the hands of Minneapolis police. El-Amin is a 6-1 senior guard for the Ball State Cardinals, the leading scorer among those scheduled to return for 2020-21, prominent because of his performance and also because his father, Khalid, put the El-Amin name in the national spotlight with Connecticut’s memorable NCAA championship run in 1999.

So he has arranged what he stresses will be a “peaceful protest” on the Ball State campus in Muncie, Ind., Thursday evening. The protest is to begin at 5 p.m. ET in an area between the Shaffer Tower and the David Letterman Communication and Media Building.

“I felt like with the platform I have I could orchestrate a peaceful protest for the community that I’ve be a part of for the past four years and for the school that has welcomed me with open arms,” El-Amin told SN. “I just wanted to show that we’re tired of the injustice that we’ve been receiving, and we won’t sit back and be quiet about it and not speak on it. We deserve change, and we demand it.

“The biggest thing I want people to take away from this is there’s a right and a wrong way to protest. And I want everybody to see with their own eyes that this is the way to protest, this is the way for our voice to be heard, for change to come.”

In an ordinary year, El-Amin would be preparing for his senior season at Ball State, perhaps fresh off an NCAA Tournament appearance. As we know, 2020 has been anything but ordinary.

The Cardinals finished 18-13 and first in the Mid-American Conference West Division, but the MAC Tournament was canceled along with other uncompleted conference championships and the NCAA Tournament. El-Amin recently returned to working out and playing hoops after the state of Indiana began loosening quarantine restrictions in place for roughly two months. 

El-Amin has a more pressing issue facing him at the moment, however. He originally intended the protest gathering to be a day earlier, but a number of recent graduates contacted and asked for a one-day delay so they could return and participate. Ball State University president Geoffrey Mearns contacted El-Amin and asked if he would be welcomed to the protest. El-Amin assured he would.

“This is not just a Ball State thing, for Ball State students. This is for Muncie,” El-Amin said. “I would like the whole Muncie community to be with us on Thursday at 5. I want the whole community to come out and show their faces. I want them to know that even though all this is going on, we can still come together as one for the same goal, the same thing we’ve been looking for over hundreds of years.”

El-Amin’s emphasis on the word “peaceful” — in his tweets promoting the protest and in this conversation — leads naturally to this question: How does he ensure this event remains non-violent when myriad other gatherings in the past week began calmly and, for a variety of reasons, escalated to a variety of disturbances?

“Me and my team collectively can continue to reiterate that this is a peaceful protest and that no violence will be taken. That’s not what this is for. That’s not what we’re here for. That’s not the intention behind any plans that we have,” El-Amin said. “But also we have been in contact with the chief of Ball State police and the chief of Muncie police for them to march with us and orchestrate everything and keep it moving in a calm fashion.

“They are 110 percent fully behind us and supportive of us.”

El-Amin said his entire family is still in Minneapolis: his parents, grandparents, five younger siblings between the ages of 11 and 19. He worries about their safety.

“I know for certain what you hear is way scarier than what they’re showing on social media and the news,” he said. “It’s a lot deeper than what people realize when you’re actually in the city.”

The violence that has occurred in his hometown and other cities has become the focus for critics of the movement, whether or not those protesting genuinely are instigating. But El-Amin said it’s not fair to suggest what has occurred has taken the message off course.

“I understand the anger and the fire that people have because they’re frustrated,” El-Amin said. “This has been going on for hundreds of years. And we have tried so many different ways to seek change and for things to be different, and it hasn’t been. So I understand the looting and the rioting; I’m not saying it’s the right thing to do. I’m saying I understand why people have taken those actions.

“I just want to encourage, and I want this peaceful protest to encourage, that we can be heard peacefully, that we don’t need to go to violence and burn things and loot and all these other things that are not going to help us in the long run.

“We can’t protest for two weeks and then be done. No, this is something we have to continue to stress, and we can’t sit back and be comfortable with what the world is.”

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Former Los Angeles Laker Brian Shaw to coach G League elite pro team – reports

Former NBA player and coach Brian Shaw has agreed to become head coach of the G League’s elite pro team, according to reports.

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The news was initially reported by The Athletic’s Shams Charania.

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Trae Young speaks at peaceful George Floyd protest in Oklahoma

NBA All-Star Trae Young spoke at a peaceful protest of racial injustice and police brutality in his hometown Norman, Oklahoma, on Monday.

Young, the former University of Oklahoma star who now plays for the Atlanta Hawks, briefly addressed several hundred people at Andrews Park about the deaths of George Floyd and others.

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Twitter reacts to J.R. Smith beating up man who allegedly broke his truck window during LA protests

J.R. Smith will go down in history as the guy who forgot the score in Game 1 of the NBA Finals and cost the Cavaliers a victory. On Sunday, exactly two years after that moment, Smith captured attention again when he kicked and punched someone who allegedly busted out the window of his truck.

TMZ obtained a video of the incident.

Protests and riots are going on around the country stemming from the death of George Floyd in Minneapolis. Smith, who participated in protests in Los Angeles over the weekend, said his truck was parked in a residential neighborhood away from where looting occurred in the area. 

Smith defended his actions in an NSFW video posted on his Instagram story. 

“One of these motherf—ing white boys didn’t know where he was going and broke my f—ing window in my truck,” Smith said.

Smith, 34, has only appeared in 11 NBA games since the 2018 Finals in which the Cavs were swept by the Warriors. 

He had Twitter buzzing again Sunday. 

Twitter reacts to J.R. Smith 

NSFW

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Michael Jordan speaks out on George Floyd death and protests: ‘We have had enough’

Michael Jordan spent his accomplished NBA career mostly silent on political or racial issues. On Sunday, though, the Charlotte Hornets owner refused to stick to sports.

Jordan offered strong sentiments about a white police officer (Derek Chauvin) killing an unarmed black man (George Floyd) after kneeling on his neck despite repeated protests that he struggled to breathe.

"I am deeply saddened, truly pained and plain angry. I see and feel everyone’s pain, outrage and frustration," Jordan said in a statement the Hornets released Sunday. "I stand with those who are calling out the ingrained racism and violence toward people of color in our country. We have had enough."

Michael Jordan chimes in pic.twitter.com/2E80TdUbwx

Jordan received some criticism during his playing career for remaining apolitical. The most notable example: Jordan declined to endorse Democrat Harvey Gantt, an African American, who ran for Senate in 1990 against incumbent Republican Jesse Helms, who had staunchly opposed various civil rights initiatives.

In "The Last Dance" documentary, Jordan said that he contributed an undisclosed amount of money to Gantt’s campaign. But he defended his inaction, saying, "I never thought of myself as an activist. I thought of myself as a basketball player."

In recent years, Jordan has become more involved with social issues. In 2016, Jordan gave grants of $1 million to the Institute for Community-Police Relations and the NAACP Legal Defense Fund in hopes of fostering more trust between law enforcement and local communities.

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Jordan, whose dad was murdered in 1993, added, "my heart goes out to the family of George Floyd and to the countless others whose lives have been brutally and senselessly taken through acts of racism and injustice."

"I don't have the answers, but our collective voices show strength and the inability to be divided by others," Jordan said in the statement. "We must listen to each other, show compassion and empathy and never turn our backs on senseless brutality. We need to continue peaceful expressions against injustice and demand accountability. Our unified voice needs to put pressure on our leaders to change our laws, or else we need to use our vote to create systemic change. Every one of us needs to be part of the solution, and we must work together to ensure justice for all."

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Clippers coach Doc Rivers: Protests on ‘the murder of George Floyd is decades in the making’

Los Angeles Clippers coach Doc Rivers explained in a statement that “the response we are seeing across the nation, to the murder of George Floyd, is decades in the making.”

“Too often, people rush to judge the response, instead of the actions that prompted it. We have allowed too many tragedies to pass in vain,” Rivers posted Sunday on his Twitter account. “This isn’t an African-American issue. This is a human issue. Our society must start getting comfortable with the uncomfortable conversation, and do the right thing. Silence and inactivity are not acceptable anymore. Now is the time to speak.”

Karl-Anthony Towns, Jaylen Brown and Stephen Jackson are among the current or former NBA players that have participated in peaceful protests. 

“November is the time to vote,” Rivers wrote. “Your words carry a lot of weight and your ballots carry even more. The day has come to confront real problems, and be part of the solution.”

Follow USA TODAY NBA writer Mark Medina on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram.

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Celtics star Jaylen Brown helps lead George Floyd protest in Atlanta

Boston Celtics guard Jaylen Brown used his platform in the pursuit of social justice literally Saturday as he helped coordinate protests in Atlanta in response to the death of George Floyd.

Floyd, a 46-year-old African American man, died Monday in Minneapolis after a white police officer kept his knee pressed into Floyd's neck for more than eight minutes, sparking dozens of protests against police brutality nationwide.

The incident, caught on video, has jarred a country already in a historic crisis as the coronavirus pandemic continues. Many of the cities involved in local protests Saturday have yet to emerge from stay-at-home orders.

5:30 @ cnn to MLK memorial cite come walk with me

Cnn street is closed be on the lookout for a new address I’ll tweet it

Brown has been a vocal member of the wider NBA community on both crises. He traveled from Boston to his home state of Georgia to add his voice — and organizing capabilities — to local protest efforts.

Jaylen Brown leading a protest in Atlanta right now 🙏🏽 🙌 @FCHWPOpic.twitter.com/Yk8tby1ggZ

The Marietta native helped relay messages about where protesters should go as road closures and other events on the ground changed in real time, helping to amplify the message by virtue of his considerable following on multiple social media platforms.

Brown joined current and former NBA players like Minnesota Timberwolves star Karl-Anthony Towns — who just lost his mother to COVID-19 — and former San Antonio Spurs champion Stephen Jackson, a friend of Floyd, in demonstrating against police violence.

Later Saturday, after learning of arrests in connection to the protest, Brown sought information to help those detained.

Send me their information or names if you know the people who were arrested

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Last Dance had Jordan as a winner but he's anything but as an owner

Michael Jordan was portrayed as the ultimate winner in ‘The Last Dance’, so why isn’t he the same as an owner? Charlotte Hornets made him a billionaire but he’s overseen a DECADE of mediocrity

  • Michael Jordan became an investor in the Charlotte Bobcats back in 2006
  • The Chicago Bulls icon seized control of the franchise in 2010 for $180million
  • The value of the team has soared to $1.5billion despite a dismal overall record
  • Jordan was a serial winner as a player but as an owner he oversees mediocrity
  • The Hornets have made the play-offs just three times since Jordan took over

‘The Last Dance’ confirmed for many that when it comes to a winning mentality, there has never been one greater than Michael Jordan’s.

Documenting the legendary career of the Chicago Bulls icon, ESPN and Netflix’s 10-part series captivated viewers across the globe with incredible behind-the-scenes footage of Jordan and his history-making team in their 1998 season.

The focus was not so much on Jordan’s skills and the game of basketball itself, but more his relentless drive to win at all costs. And win he did, the NBA icon ending his career with six rings and a perfect record in the Finals. He was flawless on the court.

Michael Jordan has found success incredibly tough to come by as an owner of an NBA team

Jordan (left) and coach Phil Jackson (right) finished in Chicago by winning the 1998 NBA title

Watching ‘The Last Dance’, Jordan came across as a man who would approach all areas of his life with the same winning mindset. The American was shown to be just as competitive on the court in front of thousands as he was playing cards at the back of the team coach.

However, that win-at-all-costs mentality doesn’t seem to have transferred to the boardroom as owner of the Charlotte Hornets.

The documentary acknowledges Jordan’s post-Bulls life with just one sentence, saying he went back into retirement, having first retired for baseball in 1994. 

There was no mention of his uninspiring two-year comeback with the Washington Wizards and nothing about what he has done since hanging up his Nikes. Maybe that is because it just didn’t fit the narrative of an uncompromising winner.

Jordan, now 57, remains firmly involved in basketball, but with polar opposite results.

He became involved in the Hornets – then the Charlotte Bobcats – in 2006, going on to take over as the the franchise’s owner in 2010 when he bought out Robert Johnson for around $180million, according to Sports Illustrated.

According to Forbes, the franchise are now worth $1.5billion. In the annual accounts, few boardrooms are winning like Jordan and his team.  

But fans naturally may have expected the serial winner they have come to adore in the documentary to do everything in his power to make his team as much of a juggernaut as the Bulls in the 90s. 

And yet in a decade of control, that just hasn’t been the case. It hasn’t even been close. 

It has been so dismal for the Hornets that criticism has been ever-present in his tenure – and even cost Jordan a friendship that had previously spanned two decades with Charles Barkley.  

He took majority control of the Charlotte Hornets in 2010 but they have struggled to progress


He was an investor when they were the Bobcats (left) but success has been difficult to achieve

‘I thought the people he hired around him were too many “yes men,” that was actually my statement,’ Barkley said on the Athletic’s Hoops Adjacent podcast when asked about why the two are no longer friends. 

‘I thought the people around him. They wanted the private jets. They wanted the steak dinner. 

‘They were always going to be “yes men”. I wish the guy nothing but the best, but I think I was in the right.’ 

Barkley, now a prominent TV analyst on the NBA, aired those comments back in 2012 and his relationship with Jordan has been non-existent ever since. If ‘The Last Dance’ showed us anything other than his relentless drive it was that Jordan can certainly hold a grudge if he wants to.  

Jordan’s 14 seasons in Charlotte have seen so little success, failing to win a single play-off series in that period, losing on all three attempts, twice being swept to nothing in the first round.

They hold an overall regular season record of 464 wins and 651 defeats during Jordan’s tenure, losing 59.4 per cent of their matches and only finishing above .500 (breaking even at 50-50 in a season) three times.

This is not just a franchise that isn’t winning, hard on their luck in the high leverage moments. This is a franchise that isn’t even in the conversation when the word success is banded around the league.

Jordan (pictured in 2008) was seen at a Bobcats game alongside film supremo Spike Lee (left)

Jordan (left) has seen his overall wealth rocket to billionaire status since owning the Hornets

To put things into perspective, even the New York Knicks, arguably the most starved franchise of success in the league, possess a better play-off record since Jordan has been in charge in. 

The problem is Michael Jordan the owner has never been able to bring in anyone like Michael Jordan the player. 

Granted, that is a lot easier said than done, but he hasn’t really tried when it has come to free agency or major trades.

Charlotte as a market is tough to attract the glamour names but playing under Jordan, being able to pick his brains to improve, could be a major bargaining chip if he wanted it to be. 

And so with such limited success, and a seeming unwillingness to go all-out to make success happen, it is perfectly valid to question where Jordan and the Hornets are actually going under his ownership.  

Even after drafting future All-Star guard Kemba Walker he failed time and time again to surround him with the type of talent needed to make a serious play-off run.

Walker is no longer at the Spectrum Center, the franchise’s all-time leading scorer was allowed to join the Boston Celtics in a sign-and-trade deal in the summer. Terry Rozier came in the opposite direction on a lesser contract.

They have made the play-offs just three times in his tenure and have never paid the luxury tax

All-Star guard Kemba Walker wanted to stay in Charlotte but was not offered a worthy contract

Waker had been eligible for a five-year super-max contract worth $220m but would have reportedly accepted a regular max deal offer of five years for $190m as part of a hometown discount. 

In the end, Jordan would ultimately give him little choice but to leave and take his game elsewhere.

Walker was reportedly lowballed in negotiations, according to the Athletic, and it was an offer he was never going to accept, seeing him walk out the door with a heavy-heart to Boston.

The priority here wasn’t the player, it was the finances. In fact, that is the story of Jordan’s ownership.      

Cost-cutting measures are commonplace in Charlotte and letting their best player in Walker depart was further proof of that. The decision meant Jordan and the Hornets remained under the NBA’s Luxury Tax – additional fees that need to be paid if the salary cap is exceeded – significantly. 

Jordan seen shaking hands with LeBron James in the first round of the play-offs back in 2014

The Hornets have the 10th best record in the Eastern Conference as things stand right now

In fact, the Hornets are one of only two teams in the league – the New Orleans Pelicans are the other – to have never paid the luxury tax.  

The Knicks have splashed out on the luxury tax 10 times, the Los Angeles Lakers have done it nine times and the Cleveland Cavaliers have spent it seven times. 

And so other teams are trying, other teams are rolling the dice in the hope they find the formula to have a winning basketball team. 

Jordan might have said in the documentary that he has a ‘competition problem’ but when it comes to life as an owner, the six-time Bulls champions appears to have no interest in playing. 




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NBA playoff plans: Biggest winners and losers in a 22-team return

  • Co-author, Pro Basketball Prospectus series
  • Formerly a consultant with the Indiana Pacers
  • Developed WARP rating and SCHOENE system

Who could benefit and who might be less pleased if the NBA moves forward with a 22-team restart of the 2019-20 regular season in Orlando, Florida?

After Friday’s remote board of governors meeting, ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski, Ramona Shelburne and Zach Lowe reported that several members of the board indicated there’s growing momentum for that plan to resume the season, interrupted on March 11 by the coronavirus pandemic.

A 22-team format probably would include additional regular-season games followed by a play-in tournament for playoff berths in both conferences, they reported. What would the implications of that scenario be for teams on the playoff bubble and elsewhere?

Let’s take a look at potential winners and losers.

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Michael Jordan: Golden State Warrior? It happened — kind of

Long before Kevin Durant announced his next move, before Stephen Curry was drafted and before the team blew a 3-1 lead, Michael Jordan was a member of the Golden State Warriors.

Kind of.

Rod Higgins, Tim Hardaway and Chris Mullin, who all were a part of the Warriors teams in the early 1990s, said on NBC Sports’ Sports “Uncovered” podcast that prior to Jordan’s practices with the Bulls and subsequent two-word “I’m back” announcement in 1995, His Airness spent time practicing with Golden State over a two-day period — and whooped some butt in the process.

I think it was 1994, Michael came out to California to visit, which he would often do. He would come out to California a lot, and he would come to visit, whether it was in the Bay Area, he would come out to the West Coast quite often. And so this particular time after he had been retired now for a while I guess, it was football season. The 49ers were in season, Richard Dent, if I can recall this correctly, I think was a 49er at the time who happens to also be a close friend of Michael’s. So Michael comes out to the Bay Area and visits for a few days and just enjoy Northern California.

So one morning, while Michael was visiting, he calls and asks me, it was early in the morning — I was on my way, ’cause I was an assistant coach for Don Nelson I was on my way to practice — he called and said, ‘Do you think it’s OK if I practice with you guys?’ And then I said, ‘I don’t think so, but let me call Nelly — that’s what we called Don Nelson — let me call Nelly and I’ll get back to you.

I call Nelly and I asked Nelly if you know, if it’s OK, if there’s gonna be any issues. Michael wants to know if he can practice with us. Nelly’s response was “Hell, yeah.”

He came in and we dressed him out, Eric Housen dressed him out in Warrior gear. He might have given him 23, I don’t think anyone was wearing 23 at the time, but gave him his wrist band to put on his elbow and things of that nature.

Higgins said the team warmed up and decided to scrimmage with Jordan on the court. Hardaway said that Jordan took the Warriors to a new level during the team’s practices over the two-day period.

“He came in and he ramped up the practice, and we had closed off practice in the Coliseum. We knew he was coming back then,” Hardaway said. “He just took over our practice, just took over our practice.

“He got the five guys that wasn’t playing that much and he said, ‘I take us seven to play you all seven in a scrimmage.’ It was like he never left.”

As it is with the Jordan mentality, No. 23 found motivation to dominate in the most unlikely areas. During one scrimmage, Jordan was adamant that he wanted to play against Hardaway and rising NBA star Latrell Sprewell, and alongside Dream Team cohort Chris Mullin. According to Higgins, Jordan’s main goal was to “kick Spre and Tim’s behind and talk trash to them.” 

Per Jordan trainer Tim Grover, the desire to “kick Latrell Sprewell’s ass” was a motivating factor for Jordan, but he wanted more to prove to himself that he could still play against younger stars. And if the accounts and descriptions of the practices are accurate — as they all seem to be — then they were definitely a factor in Jordan wanting to return to the NBA.

“He was a Warrior for 48 hours,” Higgins said.

“What I remember is him walking on the court, after not playing, probably playing 36 holes of golf the day before, walking on the court and dominating,” Mullin added. ” … I always knew he was coming back.”

Later, after the clandestine practices with the Warriors, Jordan began to take the court again with the Bulls, and the rest, as they say, is history. Jordan and the Bulls would go on to win three more championships following his return to the court.

A lineup featuring Jordan, Sprewell, Hardaway, Mullin and would have been pretty, pretty fun, though.

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