October 21, 2021
By Amanda Scurlock
The Chicago Sky won their first WNBA championship in franchise history on Sunday. Despite the team being ranked sixth in the league during the 2021 season, they battled from the first round of the playoffs to knock out the top seeded Connecticut Sun in the semifinals.
They then battled the tenacious Phoenix Mercury, who also fought from the first round to reach the WNBA Finals.
Among their many weapons is basketball icon Candace Parker who averaged 13.3 points, 8.4 rebounds, and 4.0 assists per game during the season. Sky head coach James Wade noted how Parker has taken the role of a player-coach during her first season with the Sky.
“You have so much success early, you kind of figure out who you are earlier on … As a coach, you can’t help but trust that when she says something, you have to listen,” he said. “She brings a lot with her experience.”
This marked Parker’s third Finals appearance. Her first was in 2016 when Parker helped the Los Angeles Sparks win a championship. Her 19.3 points, 8.7 rebounds and 3.2 assists per game in the postseason won her Finals MVP honors. Sky players revered her breathe of knowledge and took heed to her insights throughout the season. Parker’s player-coach role felt natural, according to center Stefanie Dolson.
“In practice, coach (Wade) is saying some things and then on the sideline, especially in the post section, she would talk to us like a coach as well,” Dolson said. “She’s very smart when it comes to the analytics of basketball, so it came naturally for us to just listen and take her in as a player but also as a coach.”
Parker knew she wanted to compete in her hometown in front of her lifelong supporters, but she also saw potential in the Sky squad.
“It’s a full circle moment to look up in the stands and see all the people that I playing basketball in front of,” Parker said. “This is a special group. I think the way you face adversity; it’s built character and it’s revealed it.”
The 2021 WNBA Finals has shown the growth of the WNBA, with Game 3 of the Finals being sold out along with NBA and NFL players sitting courtside at games.
After winning the championship, Parker acknowledged how NBA legend Kobe Bryant and his daughter Gianna has helped the league grow.
“The advice I got from Vanessa (Bryant) before the game was play Gigi’s way and I think we’ve done that all playoffs,” Parker said. “If Gigi could play, she would play as hard as she could, so I think that’s huge for our team.”
In Game 4, Parker scored 16 points, 13 rebounds and five assists; she had possession during the final seconds of the game. Realizing that she won her second WNBA title reminded her of her prep years.
“I had flashbacks from high school when I first realized we won the state championship and it was kind of similar,” Parker said. “It was amazing to hug my dad and my mom and my family … I think it’s a moment where you just have to take it in.”
October 14, 2021
By Brian Mahoney
Kyrie Irving said Wednesday he didn’t want to lose salary or a chance to compete for a championship with the Brooklyn Nets, but was doing “what’s best for me” by refusing to get the COVID-19 vaccine.
The Nets decided Tuesday that Irving wouldn’t be with the team because he isn’t eligible to play in home games, where a New York mandate requires professional athletes on one of the city’s teams to be vaccinated to practice or play in public venues.
Speaking on Instagram Live, Irving said he loved basketball and wasn’t going to retire.
“I am doing what’s best for me. I know the consequences here and if it means that I’m judged and demonized for that, that’s just what it is,” Irving said. “That’s the role I play, but I never wanted to give up my passion, my love, my dream just over this mandate.”
Irving would have been able to practice with the Nets and play in road games outside New York. The Nets will pay him for those but he is giving up about half of his $35 million salary by missing the home games.
“So what? It’s not about the money,” Irving said. “It’s not always about the money. It’s about choosing what’s best for you. You think I really want to lose money?”
Irving said he supported people who were and weren’t vaccinated and expressed appreciation for doctors. The All-Star guard didn’t give any indication that he was against being vaccinated, just that he was deciding not to.
“Once again, I’m going to repeat this. This is not about the Nets, this is not about the organization, it’s not about the NBA, it’s not politics,” Irving said. “It’s not any one thing.
“It’s just about the freedom of what I want to do.”
Irving hasn’t spoken to reporters since the Nets’ media day on Sept. 27, when he appeared via Zoom and asked for privacy when questioned about his vaccination status.
The Nets are championship contenders and Irving said he didn’t want to miss the opportunity he has with them. General manager Sean Marks said the team would gladly welcome Irving back under the right circumstances, and Irving made clear he was going to play again.
“No, I’m not retiring and no I’m not going and leaving this game like this,” Irving said. “There’s still so much more work to do and there still so many other (youngsters) to inspire, because I know they want to be better than me.”
October 14, 2021
By Khari Jones Jr.
NBA Icon Allen Iverson partnered with Viola, a Black-owned multinational cannabis business, co-founded by former NBA player and CEO Al Harrington. ‘The Answer’ secured a multi-year partnership that spans cannabis, products and merchandise.
In March, Iverson visited Harrington’s grown in Detroit and got an in depth of the growing process.
After understanding Viola’s dedication to empowering minorities in the industry, Iverson was locked in and knew this partnership was destined to happen.
“I’ve had a lot of people approach me with business opportunities but this one with Al was different.
After seeing how devoted he is to this business, and him educating me on how beneficial the plant is, it just felt right.
I’m excited to be a part of it. Together we’re going to change the game,” says the NBA icon.
During the Iverson 96 launch party, the CEO of Viola mentioned how ecstatic he was to partner with the NBA legend.
“Not too many people get to do collabs with icons and we all know Allen Iverson is an icon. He shaped the culture.
When I came into the NBA it was super corporate, everybody had suits, nobody was being who they really were, he came in and changed the game for everybody.
For me, that’s why doing this collaboration makes so much sense, because that’s what we’re trying to do for Blacks in cannabis.”
Harrington and Iverson plan to further impact the cannabis industry and keep pushing boundaries. The collaboration will feature a variety of cannabis and non-cannabis products.
In addition to the Viola partnership, Iverson is partnering with Harrington on his wellness CBD brand rePlay and they will make announcements in the future under the Harrington Wellness umbrella.
There are only 4% Black people that have ownership in the cannabis business.
“That’s fucked up because 85% of cannabis companies are open because of us, that’s why right now it’s time for us to come together and pick a side,” said Harrington
Earlier this year Harrington stated he wants to help Black people make millions in the industry.
At the Iverson 96 launch party, Harrington gifted Iverson his own custom lab jacket.
“Now we’re about to make a billion dollars,” said the CEO of Viola.
The first strain in the Iverson 96 collection, ‘96 calls back to 1996, the year the cultural icon, Allen Iverson, was drafted.
Iverson 96 products will be available exclusively at the cannabis dispensary Elevate in Los Angeles.
It will also be available in the dispensary Jade Room in Santa Ana and Torrence.
Viola is the leading Black-owned producer and licensed wholesaler of premium cannabis products founded by former NBA player Al Harrington.
October 14, 2021
By Dan Gelston
This much is known: Ben Simmons is back in Philadelphia. But there’s no clear sign yet the All-Star guard is set to rescind his trade request and actually play for the 76ers.
Even coach Doc Rivers — publicly, at least — says he’s unsure of the status of the trade demand, the latest wrinkle in the on-again-off-again relationship between Simmons and the Sixers.
“I don’t know. He’s voiced that, but we’ll see how that works out,” Rivers said Wednesday at team practice.
A rescinded request seems improbable, though Rivers said Simmons “was great, he was good” when the two met on Tuesday, a day after the three-time All-Star surprised the franchise by showing up to its arena during a preseason game to take a COVID-19 test.
Rivers said Simmons was scheduled to return to the practice facility late Wednesday for an individual workout and will not practice with the team until he clears NBA health and safety protocols.
That is, if Simmons returns to play at all.
That’s still a big if for the Sixers, especially with one more preseason game Friday at Detroit before next week’s season opener at New Orleans. Much like Marshawn Lynch at a Super Bowl media day, Simmons may be here only so he won’t get fined. The 25-year-old from Australia has four years and $147 million left on his max contract — though the 76ers placed in escrow $8.25 million due to the guard, and fines for missing games and practices could be subtracted from that amount.
Rivers, who turned 60 on Wednesday, said he wanted Simmons to play.
“I’m assuming he’s going to play, but who knows? I can’t get in anyone’s head,” Rivers said.
Rivers said he hasn’t ruled out Simmons traveling with the team to Detroit.
“Whether we play him or not, that’s going to depend on what we see this week,” Rivers said. “He’s coming from behind, because he hasn’t been in camp, obviously. Having said that, do you rush him and put him on the floor? That’s a whole other subject. What we see this week is how we determine everything going forward.”
Simmons missed training camp and the preseason so far in the wake of his offseason trade demand that rankled some teammates, raised the wrath of fans and left many puzzled why he wants off last season’s No. 1 seed in the Eastern Conference.
Sixers President Daryl Morey and Rivers have been publicly optimistic since the start of training camp that Simmons would play again for the Sixers.
Simmons, the No. 1 pick of the 2016 draft, had been paired with Joel Embiid as the franchise cornerstones as the Sixers chase their first NBA championship since 1983. He averaged 15.9 points, 8.1 rebounds and 7.7 assists over four seasons with the Sixers, who drafted him out of LSU, where he played only one season.
The Sixers downplayed potential issues in the locker room, should Simmons return. Starters Seth Curry and Danny Green both said Wednesday they had not talked to Simmons this week but would welcome him back.
“We want him back. We want him with us,” Green said. “When he’s in the building, we’ll acclimate him appropriately. We just want everybody to come here, show up and do their part, do their jobs.”
Added Curry: “I’ll be able to see when he steps on the floor where his head’s at. I don’t feel like he needs to explain anything to me.”