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A blog on UConn women's basketball.

Tuesday, April 29, 2014

Sun players, coaches weigh in on LA Clippers situation

On perhaps any other day the sole focus would have been on a new-look roster of the Connecticut Sun as the WNBA team held its media day before an early evening practice at Mohegan Sun Arena.

However, the racially-charged comments of Los Angeles Clippers owner Donald Sterling and today's decision to NBA commissioner Adam Silver to ban Sterling from the NBA for life is such a far-reaching story that it obviously was a subject raised in interviews taking place in Connecticut on Tuesday.

The Sun players were rather reluctant to weigh in on the subject as they likely we encouraged to do so from the Sun's hierarchy. However, there was no such hesitation from either Sun head coach Anne Donovan or from assistant coach Jen Gillom, a former head coach of the WNBA's Los Angeles Sparks.

"It is a wake-up call for everybody that this (racism) still exists," Donovan said. "A lot of times we want to think that the United States has moved past that but the big thing is this is at highest level of the professional sports system then it speaks a lot to our culture and how much room for growth that we have."

Gillom had a similar take on the situation.  

"This is 2014 and it is so shameful to hear something like that," Gillom said. "It is hard for me to get involved with that find of stuff because I hate listening  to that type of stuff. I really haven't been following it like I should because it is mind boggling to me and I don't have any tolerance for it anymore so I try not to listen to it.

"If I were in that position it would be hard for me to play for an organization like that, it would be hard for me to lace up my shoes up and play for a guy who didn't think I am worthy. I feel for those guys and I know it is hard for them and especially at this time of the season when you want to win a championship for your city and your organization, I feel for them."

Donovan is aware of Sterling's past comments that certainly raised eyebrows but did not bring any official action from the NBA.

"He's been caught on record but there is no way that you can play for somebody like that and have the sense of who he was," Donovan said. "If that is his character, if that is his nature, if that is his true beliefs it is going to come off. I give (Clippers head coach) Doc Rivers a whole lot of credit for being able to focus his team and really send good positive messages, yet still compete and play games."

Donovan and Gillom had Hall of Fame playing careers but Donovan said she could not imagine if she found herself in the situation that current Clippers' stars Chris Paul, Blake Griffin and DeAndre Jordan find themselves in.

"You talk about Chris Paul, one of most genuinely nice human beings I have ever met so for that type of thing to touch his life at this point in his career ..."

Multiple players politely declined comment on the subject matter although veteran Sun guard Kalana Greene, a former UConn star, was the player who offered the strongest opinions during Tuesday's media day festivities.

"I feel sorry for the players because that it not what they came there to do," Greene said. "They came to play ball and it is distracting them from doing that. He said what he said and now he has to live with it, now he has to deal with the brunt of it. That is the thing about freedom of speech, you say what you want but then you have to deal with the consequences. Society is not tolerant of it and I am happy to see that. In the direct sense players play for each other and they play for the team, a lot of players don't have a choice of where they are playing. That is a tough situation, I could tell you what I would do but if I was in that situation it would be different. The team has to come together, what they want (to accomplish), what are their goals and what they figure out, you can't blame them for playing the next game because they are playing for themselves and at the end of the day that is what matters."  


Anonymous Joel said...

One old man makes some offensive comments in the privacy of his own home, and people are outraged.

Blatant anti-Semitism is practiced left and right, and people yawn.

What's wrong with this picture?

9:21 AM 

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