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OP-ED: 12 Years a Clipper

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By Andrew F. Williams

I won’t waste any ink providing background details on what’s going on with the Los Angeles Clippers or the NBA right now. If you’re not up to speed, then click here to get caught up. Instead, I’ll start this story on Day 2, minutes before tipoff in Game 4 of the playoffs between the Clippers and the Golden State Warriors. Full disclosure: I’m from Oakland. Amidst mountains of speculation and anticipation surrounding what kind of statement the Clippers players would or would not do, I sat on my couch waiting for another 1968 Olympics moment. Good Lord was I disappointed.

As theClippers took the floor for their warm up, they all met at half court in a high-profile huddle. With a big flourish, they tore off their warm-up jackets and tossed them on the floor, revealing red shirts turned inside out. That would be the Clippers refusing to rep the logo of a franchise owned by a recently-outed, but long-suspected bigot. Not a bad start for a protest. Unfortunately, minutes later, they were on the court, playing Game 4 in full Clippers regalia—logos and all.

Clippers protest owner Donald Sterling's racially infused confused before Game 4  on April 27th at the Oracle Arena.

Clippers protest owner Donald Sterling’s racially infused confused before Game 4 on April 27th at the Oracle Arena.

My problem with this mini-protest is that it failed to do the one thing that a protest must do—create urgency to provoke action. Instead, this show seemed to be an attempt to do as little as required before moving onto to the real business of playing basketball.

With all due respect, I completely understand the coaches’ and players’ desire to stay focused on the task at hand. Still, I was unimpressed. So, while I admit that I’ve never been a professional athlete, I find myself needing to sound off on the late night before heading to bed. Plus, one of my favorite sayings is still “Take my advice—it’s free, and I’m not using it.” With that in mind, I present to you another Live From Tomorrow list…

10 Things That the Los Angeles Clippers Should Have Done

1. Refuse to play. They could have just stayed home. Or, they could have showed up, but refuse to take the court. Honestly, this is my least favorite option. I can still remember watching the World Cup in 2010 as several French players refused to play because of a disagreement with their coach. I was, and still am, disgusted with their actions. I subscribe to the idea that in

some respects, you play for yourself, not the coach or the owner. But, at least refusing to play would have created urgency.

2. Request an off-season trade. What if every player on the Clippers spoke with their agent, then filed a formal trade request with the franchise? This would have raised the stakes without jeopardizing the team’s playoff run. After all, NBA players have been known to request trades for much smaller offenses than what the Clippers have been subjected to. And please, spare me that played out “they have kids to feed” B.S. The minimum salary in the NBA is around a half a million dollars per year. That means every player on the Clippers is doing just fine, even the ones with splinters in their asses from riding the bench every night. If there is an NBA player that cannot financially afford to sit out a season, then he is an idiot, and needs to learn how to manage his money better. Find another team… go play in Italy… find a ghost writer to do a screenplay about your story and call it 12 Years a Clipper*. If grape-pickers, miners and

Clippers Owner Donald Sterling,

Clippers Owner Donald Sterling,

garment-workers can do it, so can you.

3. Bring the message onto the court. This action is very common in professional sports around the world. Almost every week, teams in theEnglish Premier League sport a ribbon, patch, or arm band of some sort to commemorate something important. NFL players even wear pink socks! While a little insignia would not have been groundbreaking, it would have been a way to channel and highlight the team solidarity.

4. Rock the mic. If I can listen to the 2nd runner up from American Idol butcher the Star-Spangled Banner, then I know there’s room Chris Paul** to say a few words on the mic—and to the world—at halftime or before the game. It’s better than watching a crew of backup dancers shoot cheap t-shirts into the second row with an air gun.

5. Drop the logos. Completely. The Clippers could have kept going with their idea, which was a good start, except fort the fact you could still see the logo on their pants. What if they all took the court in plain uniforms with no logos? The great thing about this action is that it would have forced the hand of the NBA. I’m sure Adidas would’ve had something to say about it. Plus, my guess is that somewhere in the rule book, it says that NBA players can’t just wear whatever they want. After all, didn’t they fine players for wearing their shorts too low? Can you imagine if the league had to make a decision about what to do? Do they make the Clippers forfeit the game? Do they let them play in plain uniforms? I doubt Mark Jackson’s Warriors would have been filing any complaints in the latter case. My sense is that what the players want most is for the league to get off the fence and have their back. I can’t think of a better way to do this than to put the ball inthe commissioner’s court—are you with us, or against us?

6. A work slowdown. This is a classic protest move of industrial laborers—they don’t exactly strike, but they don’t exactly work. The Clippers could have taken the court as if everything was normal… but then refuse to play offense! Imagine how awesome that would be to watch Chris Paul walk the ball across half court then just stop. How beautiful would it have been to watch them rack up back-to-back-to-back 24 second shot clock violations. The message would have been clear. The irony is that the Warriors put up 39 points in the first quarter, leaving the Clippers down by 15 after only twelve minutes of play. Maybe if the Clippers had just “slowed down” the game and focused on playing some defense they would have been better off.

Magic Johnson

Magic Johnson

7. Black Player Salute. This one might be my favorite. The Clippers could have taken the court with custom jerseys sporting the names of some of the greatest black basketball players on whose back the league was built. Some giants that come to mind immediately are Bill Russell, Error! Hyperlink reference not valid., Bill Russell, Oscar Robertson, Bill Russell, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, Bill Russell, Julius Erving, Bill Russell, Magic Johnson, Bill Russell, Moses Malone, Bill Russell, Lenny Wilkins, and Bill Russell, just to name a few.*** If they wanted to get real creative, they could have included great black athletes who broke down barriers in other sports: Muhammed Ali, Arthur Ashe, John Carlos, Althea Gibson, Florence Griffith-Joyner, Jack Johnson, Jackie Joyner-Kersee, Carl Lewis, Joe Louis, Willie Mays, Jesse Owens, Leroy “Satchel” Paige, Jackie Robinson, Sugar Ray Robinson, Wilma Rudolph, Tommie Smith, Marshall “Major” Taylor, Venus Williams, Tiger Woods****, and the list goes on. Can you imagine J. J. Redick stepping on the court with a red and blue Jim Brown jersey? And don’t try to tell me that they didn’t have enough time to get the jerseys made. I got a dude in East Oakland that can get you customized knockoff soccer jerseys from any club in the world by tomorrow, so holler at ya boy.

8. Win the game. If the Clippers hadn’t gotten spanked, then we’d all be talking about how they rallied together and used this adversity as motivation. But they did get spanked. In all fairness, I know they wanted to win. But they didn’t. I’m just saying. Maybe it sounds harsh, but as I write this, I feel bad for the players, but I do NOT feel motivated to rally behind them. If they had actually taken a stand, then I would be writing a very different article write now. But they didn’t, so I’m just another Warriors fan hoping that they lose, and hoping that they all find a better team to play for next season.

9. Play 2 on 2. The Clippers could have let J. J. Reddick and Hëdo Turkoglu take on the Warriors by themselves. Or, better yet, the two teams could have coordinated to arrange a 2 on 2 matchup: Reddick and Turkoglu vs. David Lee and Steve Blake. In other words: imagine an NBA without the black people.

10. Do nothing. Part of me feels like doing absolutely nothing would have been better than staging the mini-protest that they did. Wouldn’t that have been more true to their stated mission of staying focused on the game and playing basketball? I guess I feel like they did something just because they had to—but what they did was useless.

Ultimately, they missed an opportunity to make history—not to make a scene, or to make history for themselves, but to create a moment that would live on in history forever. Like Tommie Smith and John Carlos on the winners podium. Like Ali refusing conscription into the army and forfeiting his heavyweight belt.. Instead, it may become another footnote in the history of American racism and so-called “Error! Hyperlink reference not valid..”

* The title of this blog post is taken from a hilarious meme that started circulating on the internet on Sunday, April 27, 2014.

** Ironically, Chris Paul is President of the NBA Players Association.

*** I was tempted to include Michael Jordan, but the cat always seemed to have his tongue when it was time to say something important.

**** Don’t even start with me

 

 

Featured

City Seeks to Work With A’s, Major League Baseball To Keep Team in Oakland

City Council leaders said it’s incorrect “that the City Council is delaying or refusing to consider the A’s project proposal,” at Howard Terminal.

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Leaders of the Oakland City Council told the head of Major League Baseball in a May 14 letter that they are willing to work with the As baseball team to keep it from moving out of the city.

    Oakland recently lost both its National Football League franchise the Oakland Raiders to Las Vegas and the Golden State Warriors to San Francisco.

    The letter comes just days after MLB told the Oakland As to look for another city to play while pursuing a waterfront park in Oakland.  

    “The Oakland City Council is committed to negotiating in good  faith for a strong future for the A’s in Oakland, and we invite the As and MLB to do the same by agreeing not to seek relocation while the As complete the (stadium at the Charles P. Howard Terminal) project  process, the letter begins.

    But officials in Las Vegas revealed on May 12 on Twitter through Mayor Carolyn Goodman that they have been talking with the As since 2019 and they are excited.

    City Council leaders said it’s incorrect that the City Council is delaying or refusing to consider the A’s project proposal, at Howard Terminal.

    Rather, many, such as city staff have been working to bring the proposal to the council for potential approval.

   But the As have been working on the project for nearly five years, As president Dave Kaval said in February. Opposition, too, has mounted against the Howard Terminal site and in favor of a new stadium at the current Oakland Coliseum site.

    The City Council’s letter says that MLB has concluded without sufficient support that the Coliseum site is not viable.City Council leaders asked in the letter for the materials MLB reviewed to draw that conclusion.

    The councils letter is signed by council President Nikki Fortunato Bas, Vice Mayor and Councilmember At-Large Rebecca Kaplan and Councilmember Carroll Fife, who represents downtown and West Oakland.

    The Howard Terminal site is near both downtown and West Oakland.

    City Council leaders are willing to meet with MLB officials and the As ownership, the letter says, to thoughtfully move forward.

    Council leaders said the As leadership recently changed their requests.

    “Rather than send forward full completed deal terms for consideration, the As demanded that the council vote on summary deal terms.  

    “Council leadership expressed willingness to explore this request, and met with the As staff and other stakeholders to seek how best to move forward, according to the letter.  

    Council leaders were in the process of scheduling a vote on the summary deal terms before their summer recess when MLB told the As to seek a new home while it pursues a waterfront ballpark in Oakland.

    “This relocation announcement came without giving the council an opportunity to receive and vote on a proposal and did not even wait for the time requested for the vote, the letter says.

    “Since the request was for a vote by August, why would you announce permission to explore relocation, prior to the date of the requested vote, if the request had been a sincere one? the letter said.

    Council leaders asked MLB to confirm its intentions.

    “Can you confirm definitively, that if the council were to take such a vote for a term sheet regarding the As, that you would prohibit any action to seek or pursue relocation during those next steps?

    Kaplans staff confirmed late on the afternoon of May 14 that a vote on the summary deal terms will be scheduled for before the August recess.

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Bay Area

City Reacts as A’s Threaten to Leave

The A’s said on Tuesday said they will start looking into relocating with the backing of Major League Baseball.

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Mount Davis Oakland with Fans/Wikimedia

The Oakland Athletics made a public threat this week to leave Oakland if  the City Council does not accept their latest proposal by the end of June to build a baseball stadium and huge real estate complex at the Howard Terminal at the Port of Oakland.

The A’s said on Tuesday said they will start looking into relocating with the backing of Major League Baseball.

 A’s owner John Fisher said in a statement,  “The future success of the A’s depends on a new ballpark. Oakland is a great baseball town, and we will continue to pursue our waterfront ballpark project. We will also follow MLB’s direction to explore other markets.”

 A’s President Dave Kaval told the Associated Press on Tuesday, “I think it’s something that is kind of a once-a-generational opportunity to reimagine the waterfront. We’re going to continue to pursue that, and we’re still hopeful that that could get approved, but we have to be realistic about where we are with the timelines.”

Many residents are angry at the A’s aggressive stance, especially since the team’s new proposal is vague on details and puts the city and its residents on the hook for nearly one billion dollars in infrastructure improvements plus over $400 million in community benefits the A’s have pledged but instead would be handed off to taxpayers. 

Reflecting the reaction of some residents, Tim Kawakami, editor-in-chief of the SF Bay Area edition of The Athletic,  tweeted, “I just don’t see the municipal validation in kowtowing to a billionaire who won’t spend much of his own money to build a new stadium that will make him many more billions.”

Mayor Libby Schaaf says she is open to the A’s proposal, and Council members  want more details on its financial impact  on the city and its taxpayers, 

Councilmember Loren Taylor told the Oakland Post in an interview: “We know they are looking for alternative locations. It is something that has to be factored in. Our commitment is to  work to keep the A’s in Oakland but to do it in way that protects the interests of the city  and is  the best deal for the people of Oakland.”

Said Councilmember Treva Reid:

“My commitment will always be to the residents of East Oakland and ensuring strong community benefits and economic development.  I appreciate the contribution of the Athletics … However, the Council must have an adequate amount of time to thoroughly evaluate their proposed offer to ensure Oakland residents receive a fair, transparent  and equitable deal.” 

In her statement, Mayor Schaaf, who has long been a backer of the A’s real estate development near Jack London Square,  said, “We share MLB’s sense of urgency and their continued preference for Oakland. Today’s statement makes clear that the only viable path to keeping the A’s rooted in Oakland is a ballpark on the waterfront.

“Now, with the recent start of financial discussions with the A’s, we call on our entire community — regional and local partners included — to rally together and support a new, financially viable, fiscally responsible, world class waterfront neighborhood that enhances our city and region and keeps the A’s in Oakland where they belong.”

Major media outlets,  often  boosters  of super- expensive urban developments, are unenthusiastic about the A’s proposal and the team’s pressure on the city to go along with its demands.  

In an article, the San Francisco Chronicle’s Scott Ostler wrote, “Get the message, Oakland? Vote to approve the A’s plan and commit to kicking in $855 million for infrastructure for the A’s new ballpark and surrounding village around Howard Terminal or kiss your lovable little baseball team goodbye.

“It’s called power politics, folks.”

In an editorial, the Mercury News and the East Bay Times wrote,” The team has thrown down a greedy and opaque demand that the city of Oakland approve a $12 billion residential and commercial waterfront development project that happens to include a new ballpark — and requires a massive taxpayer subsidy.

“If that’s the best the A’s can offer, the city should let them go.”

Ray Bobbitt of the African American Sports and Entertainment Group told the Oakland Post, “These are bully tactics. You either give me the money or I’m leaving. I don’t think that’s the way to work with the community.

“Do it in a way that’s respectful of the people. If you want to play hardball, I don’t think it’s a tactic that works these days.”

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Bay Area

Al Attles Tribute Hall of Fame Celebration

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Come out and support one of Oakland’s finest, Alvin Attles Jr as he is honored for his Hall of Fame induction in Oakland, December 22, 2019.

An avid Warriors Legend & Community Ambassador, Attles is currently in his 59th year with the Golden State Warriors organization (Al Attles’ current stint with the same team represents the longest active streak in NBA history). Attles, who celebrated his 83rd birthday on November 7, 2019, joined the Warriors in 1960 (Philadelphia Warriors’ fifth-round draft choice) and has since been affiliated with the club in one capacity or another, building a unique relationship based on commitment, loyalty, and dedication.

Attles has many professional accomplishments to his name. In September 2019 it culminated with Attles being enshrined into the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame. In 2018, Attles was named in ESPN’s Top 100 Most Influential Players of All-Time. In 2017, he was awarded the Chuck Daly Lifetime Achievement Award, and in 2014, Attles was honored by the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame with the John R. Bunn Lifetime Achievement Award – its second highest honor.

Attles is one of only six players in Warriors history to have his jersey retired (#16) – joining Rick Barry (#24), Wilt Chamberlain (#13), Tom Meschery (#14), Chris Mullin (#17), and Nate Thurmond (#42) – and remains one of the most publicly recognizable sports figures in the Bay Area. Each of these players are honored in the plaza of the new Chase Center in San Francisco. Attles is also the only player to have his number retired (#22) at his alma mater, North Carolina A&T University.

His endless contributions locally as a player, coach, executive, and civic leader resulted in his much deserved induction into the Bay Area Hall of Fame in 1993. In the summer of 2006, the newly refurbished outdoor basketball court at Lincoln Square Park in downtown Oakland was permanently renamed “Alvin Attles Court” in honor of the local legend and longtime Oakland resident. The Warriors recently named the courts at the Warriors practice facility at the Chase Center after Attles. Each year, the Warriors present the Alvin Attles Volunteer Award to the team employee who goes above and beyond in their efforts to serve the Bay Area community as part of the organization’s Helping Hands program.

In the latter stages of the 1969-70 NBA season, Attles was named head coach of the Warriors, replacing George Lee after 52 games. Attles spent the final two years of his playing career, 1969-70 and 1970-71, as a player/coach, becoming the second African-American to hold such a distinction. His 30-game stint as head coach to end the 1969-70 season proved to be the start of the longest head coaching run in Warriors franchise history. His 13-plus year tenure produced, among other highlights, the lone NBA Championship in the club’s West Coast history (1974-75) until the championship drought ended in 2015.

During his 13-year coaching fun, Attles guided the Warriors to six playoff berths, two division titles and amassed an overall 557-518 record, which ranks 25th on the NBA’s all-time coaches winning list. One season after leading Golden State to the NBA title, he led the Warriors to a sparkling 59-23 record in 1975-76, the best mark in franchise history (that held for 40 years) and the top record in the NBA that season. He was also named head coach of the Western Conference All-Star team in 1975 and 1976. Attles completed his coaching career in 1982-83 to become the Warriors General Manager, heading the team’s basketball operations for three years.

One of the most aggressive and hard-nosed players in the league, Attles earned the unique nickname of “The Destroyer”, which appropriately described his mentality on the court. During his 11-year NBA career, he averaged 8.9 points, 3.5 rebounds, and 3.5 assists in 711 regular season games, which currently ranks fifth on the Warriors all-time games played list. Furthermore, Attles was involved in one of the most memorable games in NBA history on March 2, 1962 when he and teammate Wilt Chamberlain combined for 117 points against the New York Knicks, the most ever by a pair of players in league history. In that game, Attles has a perfect game as the second leading scorer tallying 17 points (8-8 FG, 1-1 FT), while Chamberlain netted an all-time NBA record 100 points. Attles retired from playing following the 1970-71 campaign to focus strictly on coaching – eliminating his dual role as player/coach.

A 1960 graduate of North Carolina A&T University, Attles earned his Bachelor’s Degree in Physical Education and History. He later added a Master’s Degree in Curriculum and Instruction from the University of San Francisco in 1983. 

Al and his wife, Wilhelmina, reside in Oakland and have two adult children, Alvin III and Ericka. The Attles also have eight grandchildren and four great grandchildren.

In October 2018, Attles III formed Attles Center for Excellence (ACE) to honor his father’s legacy. The Oakland-based non-profit will officially launch at the end of 2019. The mission is to create the next generation of high performing citizens through engagement in innovative STEAM-focused programs and health and wellness initiatives. In 2020 ACE plans to launch a comprehensive after-school program for at-risk youth and a series of basketball camps, incorporating coding, the arts, and nutrition.

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