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Updated: 2017-09-25T14:16:07-04:00


Bruce Maxwell would like you to listen


Baseball finally had its first national anthem protest, and it came from an unlikely and perfect source. Baseball is the sport that’s responsible for the national anthem being played before sporting events, and it was always going to be the last sport to get sucked into the controversy. It’s responsible because the tradition started at a World Series game 99 years ago, during World War I, when millions of young men were killed for reasons that most adults don’t remember today. It was going to be the last sport because it’s the stodgiest one. It’s the sport that’s the most resistant to change. Baseball was going to be the last sport to get sucked in because it’s the one that appeals to how great everything used to be. With football, you can measure the height, weight, and 40-yard dash time of the average player in 1956, compare it to the modern player, and laugh. With basketball, you can watch five seconds of video from a different era and appreciate the difference in skill and speed today. With baseball, there’s always someone to call back to, someone who was the best you ever saw, full stop, no context needed. The sport doesn’t have to progress to be enjoyed, even as it unquestionably does. Baseball was going to be the last sport to get sucked in because it’s the one in which traditions are followed because they’re traditions, and this is important because the traditional traditions are traditionally followed in a traditional manner — look, just respect the traditions. Don’t stare too long at a home run. If they hit our guy, we hit theirs. Rookies don’t get to complain to umpires nearly as much as veterans. There is rarely any introspection when it comes to the unwritten rules. They’re commandments, and they’ve just always been there, man. Don’t ask too many questions. Follow them or get hurt. Baseball was going to be the last sport to get sucked in because it’s one of the whitest sports, both in terms of participation and viewership. Whitest makes a difference not because patriotism is connected to pigment, but because it makes a huge difference in one’s ability to say, “Hey, knock it off, nothing’s wrong, what’s the big deal?” Baseball was going to be the last sport to get sucked in, but it was never going to be immune. This conversation was always coming because it’s nearly impossible to pretend like nothing is wrong right now. This makes people so damned uncomfortable. The status quo is incredibly comfortable, just a warm, snuggly blanket, and now it’s being challenged by rude, shivering people. This ruins your whole vibe. The only surprise, really, is who challenged that status quo and how perfect he was for the job. Bruce Maxwell was born on a military base. He’s on record as saying that the patriotic garb for Memorial Day and Independence Day means more to him because of his family’s military background. He made a calculated effort to draw a clear line between protest and disrespect. The most important part is that Maxwell is a 26-year-old rookie with absolutely everything to lose. He’s a backup catcher with a .244 batting average and three home runs. He’s someone who’s been worth 0.1 WAR this year, which means he’s a replaceable player, by definition. He looked at Colin Kaepernick, an accomplished veteran without a job, someone too toxic for the billionaires of the NFL to consider, and knew what the worst-case scenario was. Maxwell kneeled anyway because he felt his message and the amplification of it was more important than his job security. As a reminder, that message is this: Listen. That’s it. That’s the controversial message that has everyone so upset. Instead of mindlessly singing along and pretending that the country is beyond criticism, we have to listen now? The people who are upset at anthem protests are upset that they have to listen and engage with the idea that the country isn’t perfect, that there’s still more work to do. The current president was elected on a campaign slogan that roughly translated to “Eve[...]

NBA players, executives respond to Donald Trump and NFL protests on media day



Here are all the reactions from players, coaches, owners, and other prominent figures around the NBA during most teams’ media days.

The NBA became embroiled in a public war of words against President Donald Trump this weekend. After Stephen Curry said that he wouldn’t want to visit the White House as champions usually do, Trump disinvited him — and subsequently the Warriors as a team — on Twitter.

The Warriors took the disinvitation in stride, and the team released a statement saying they’ll spend their trip to Washington D.C. “to celebrate equality, diversity and inclusion.” The players also took it in stride, seeming almost bemused in their reactions at the ridiculousness of the situation.

Shortly after Trump’s tweet, LeBron James tweeted his own response by calling the president a “bum.” This led to many NBA athletes speaking out against Trump and supporting their fellow NFL brethren.

On Monday, 23 NBA teams held their media days. Here are all the reactions made by players, coaches, owners, and others around the NBA about President Trump’s comments.

Reactions on Monday

LeBron James

Sunday in the NFL was also dominated by protests following Trump’s criticism of national anthem protests. Wall’s point is while the NBA’s biggest stars have been vocal about social issues, NFL headliners like Brady and Rodgers have been cautious with their comments.

For more on the NBA’s reaction to Trump at media day around the league, follow our roundup of comments.