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6-17 at 10.05 PM

Hawks Discuss Donald Trump

Eric Yeboah —  November 15, 2016

Post-election discussions have been rampant throughout the NBA following Tuesday’s presidential race outcome. Athletes and coaches of all races and backgrounds voiced their support and displeasure on what looks to be one of the most divisive presidential elections this country has ever seen.

The Atlanta Hawks are a part of a city so densely cosmopolitan that to avoid the outcry of protesters would be as hard as convincing Donald Trump to stop using the word huge. After facing the Philadelphia 76ers Saturday night, they faced questions about the commander-in-chief-to-be.

“I think everybody was surprised by it because a lot of the polls didn’t show that,” Ryan Kelly said. “But for me personally, I look at it and say he’s going to be the President and that is a position I think we should respect. People aren’t perfect and hopefully, he can be a better man now that he’s in office.”

The hope for the 54 percent of the country that voted against Trump is for some sort of rehabilitation will take place.His message resonated with enough individuals that were begging for some sort of drastic change that, no matter the messenger and how the message, they would try to get their way. The result: one of the most nuanced and polarizing elections in American history.

It seems that the NBA has already staked their claim on the opposing end. In a league of such diversity of background — a league that employs six women in team vice presidential roles, two women as assistant coaches and, of course, its bevy of black and international players — there is no doubt how the NBA sees the results of the election. In fact, Commissioner Adam Silver has already sent a league-wide email reinforcing the NBA’s commitment to equality and diversity.

Thabo Sefolosha, born in Switzerland, seemed puzzled by the final result: Hillary Clinton won the popular vote but lost the election?

“I cannot vote, but It was very entertaining nonetheless to watch,” Sefolosha said. “Of course I had an opinion, it’s the votes of the American people that have been heard, but it was just weird to see Hillary Clinton received more votes than Donald Trump [and lose].”

The results of the popular vote are contributing to the anger that some feel towards a democratic system our leaders boast is the fairest to live under. So when Americans deem a political or social issue to be un-American, they take to the streets to display just how disgusted they are. American history is flooded with protest for all sorts of causes — police conduct, civil, gay, immigration rights, etc. However, never have we seen protest permeate across the country in response to the outcome of a Presidential election like we have seen in these past few days. These protests have spawned an excitement for activism and at the same time brought into the question the efficacy of the very same protests.

“I don’t think those protesters [sic] should be happening,” Sefolosha said. “You have the right to vote and if you didn’t vote and the person you wanted to get elected didn’t get elected, well that’s too bad. The results are a reflection of the country, it’s a democracy, the way the country is run; so if everybody has the right to vote they should have been more vocal before instead of rioting afterward.”

According to electproject.org, just 56.9 percent of eligible voters actually cast a ballot, a decrease from 58.6 percent in 2012. This election, like all elections, felt more pivotal than the last; but that still wasn’t enough to garner the attention of the indifferent voter. Colin Kaepernick, who is protesting the system in which the United States governs under, has spoken out extensively on his decision not to vote and received much backlash. Many are choosing to diminish his previous efforts because of his decision to abstain, while others like Ryan Kelly and Thabo Sefolosha believe it falls right in line with his stance.

“I think his message is still relevant, in a sense that he wants to see change and that’s part of the change,” Kelly said. “This has been in the media for a while, something we saw publicly and it’s a huge part of our lives. There is no problem with showing that you feel that where we are as a country isn’t where we need to be and Regardless of whose president most people can say that.”

“I think that not voting is pretty much in line with what he believes,” Sefolosha added. “He is making a stand by taking a knee during the anthem. He is trying to keep people aware of a problem that has been happening in America.”

Whether or not you agree with Kaepernick and the many others’ decision to sit out, the outcome still remains — Donald Trump is the 45th president of the United States. Discussions about putting personal feelings to the side during his presidency have been prominent across the country and all of media. Charles Barkley and Oprah Winfrey, for instance, each has conveyed optimism for Trump.

Add the Hawks’ starting small forward, Kent Bazemore, to that list.

“I am excited man,” Bazemore said. “Something new, obviously the rest of society hasn’t taken it well with all of the protest and riots. But I think people all across the country are sick and tired of how things have always been and that’s why you get a guy like him in office to shake things up a bit. Make America Great Again is his slogan and as a President, we should stand behind him. I am all for change, never been afraid of change — Barack Obama said he has a shifting confidence in Trump. Like Oprah said, I think everybody can take a deep breathe now.

“You know I was reading a post the other day, talking about how Trump is what America is. I think that we should all come together during a time like this. Some people are scared of change, but I am not, let’s do it, let’s see what he’s got because that’s all you can do is stand behind him. For a man like him to be talked about as negatively as he has all his life and still assumes the position of power says a lot about him and his resilience and as a leader that’s what you want.”

LeBron James, one of the most socially outspoken athletes in today’s sports world, expressed a message of hope, positivity, and faith to women, youth and minorities on Instagram last Wednesday. It was a message to uplift those who felt as though they would have no say in their future. Those who strongly believe the character of an elected political official is a reflection of the environment they will have to endure each and every day.

However, Bazemore disagrees with the notion that the President is the moral figure of the country.

“The President doesn’t really dictate a lot of individuals,” Bazemore said. “I feel like you can make whatever out of your life you want if you get up and work hard every day, the world is yours. There is nothing [Trump] can do to hold you back as an individual, so us as citizens need to be more consciousness of the impact we have as individuals and strive for greatness every day.”

 

Avery Yang Contributed Reporting

No matter the record or seeding, some teams just give you a tough time.

For Atlanta, that has been the Milwaukee Bucks so far this season after defeating them three out of the four meetings last year. But this year has been a different story, as the Bucks have defeated Atlanta twice with both games defeats ending in overtime. This matchup has a boxing match feel to it, two contrasting styles, Rocky versus Drago.

This one ended with Atlanta’s arm being raised up last winning 101-90, capturing their first win over the Bucks this season.

“At the end of the day they are in the top two or three, if not the best at scoring in the paint,”said Coach Mike Budenholzer. “We wanted to do everything we could to take that away.”

Hawks only trailed momentarily in the first couple minutes of the game, but never did thereafter despite not shooting the ball well — 42.3% from the field and 15.6% from 3 — because of yet another strong defensive effort. Milwaukee’s length and athleticism are the main reasons the Hawks have such a difficult time running their offense. The Bucks decided this game to place more emphasis on the Hawks 3-point attempts, which meant more opportunities inside for Atlanta. They were able to capitalize, scoring 58 points in the paint.

On defense, Atlanta decided to pack the paint and limit the longer Bucks from points in the paint. Games like is just another testament to the Atlanta’s ability to win in a variety of ways, which will come in handy in late April or May. This time instead of their usual emphasis on aggressively guarding perimeter players, they showed the ability to clog the paint and still be effective.

“This is a team that has given us problems over the last couple years,” said Kyle Korver post-game. “They are a tough team for us to play against. We wanted to protect the paint and force them to shoot from the outside. It is important for us to grind games out against a team thats big when we are not shooting the ball that well.” Continue Reading…

Grantland’s Zach Lowe released his winners and losers from NBA free agency. Among the losers were the Atlanta Hawks, but not because of the deals of Thabo Sefelosha and Kent Bazemore. Instead, Lowe penned this on how the Hawks’ front office is having trouble even meeting with free agents:  

No one will take Atlanta’s money, despite a good core of players, a very good coaching staff, and an innovative style of play Mike Budenholzer has only just begun installing. Some stars won’t even meet with them. I almost wanted to hug Budenholzer when I saw him in Vegas. The most common theory among insiders for Atlanta’s lack of appeal is that players see the Hawks as a dull franchise with a dead crowd and a limited postseason history that almost always involves NBA TV.

That will turn around at some point, but just about everyone Atlanta has approached so far rebuffed the Hawks’ invitation to get in on the ground floor.

I have always been an ardent defender of the Hawks’ turnout for the other reason that Lowe mentions: the Atlanta version of the Hawks franchise has never really won anything of significance; no titles, no appearances in the Finals, hell, not even an appearance in the Conference Finals for the Atlanta faithful to hang their hats on.

The Hawks have four “championship” banners hanging up in Philips Arena. All four celebrate a division championship, which I don’t think is an accomplishment you should scoff at, as it is a nice accolade. It usually means that your team is in the top four in the conference and that they have some sort of chance of making it to the Conference Finals. Continue Reading…