Underdog Warriors regain respect in Game 6 victory

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USA Today

Underdog Warriors regain respect in Game 6 victory

HOUSTON -- Steve Kerr benched his two-time MVP, Stephen Curry, in the biggest game of the Warriors’ three-peat quest, a Game 6 on the road against a Houston Rockets team starving for redemption.

Curry was not the least bit happy about Kerr’s decision and didn’t hide it during a timeout at the 7:12 mark in the first quarter after picking up his second foul.

Curry stormed into the coaches’ huddle and got in his coach’s face, pleading for him to reverse his decision to put backup Quinn Cook into the game.

“Come on, Coach,” Curry said. “It’s Game 6. I gotta be out there.”

Kerr looked him in the eye and didn’t hold back.

“Steph,” Kerr told him, as he relayed to NBCSports.com after the game. “You just fouled James Harden on a jump shot. You’re going to do it again. And you’re going to get your third foul, so you’re not going to play the rest of the quarter.”

It might have been hard to understand then, but this was all about respect -- for Curry and for his teammates. Since Kerr took over as head coach in 2014, the franchise’s motto became “Strength In Numbers” -- a rallying cry emphasizing the team above the individual. It’s a message that Kerr had come back to repeatedly after Durant got injured at the end of Game 5. Everyone on the roster had to stay ready.

But Kerr had seen the numbers, too, and kept thinking about this statistical fact: Since the start of the 2016-17 season, the Warriors were 30-4 in games in which Durant sat but Curry played. He reminded himself of those numbers in that timeout. As long as they kept Curry available for the second half, they’d have a chance. Thirty and four.

“How can I trust you,” Curry recalled Kerr telling him, “to not get your third foul, when you know how big this game is right now and you put yourself in this predicament?”

Curry stood down and reluctantly took his seat on the bench. He respected it.

“He keeps it real,” Curry said after the game. “Obviously, I didn’t like [his decision]. But we have a strong relationship where I’m not going to lose confidence in that moment. That’s built over time.”

Respect is earned in this league, not given. The Warriors earned it across the league by winning the 2015 NBA Finals with homegrown talent, defeating LeBron James and the Cleveland Cavaliers at the peak of his powers.

But that respect turned into something else over the last few years: Some parts jealousy, some parts bitterness, some parts contempt. In an April 2016 profile by New York Magazine, Warriors principal owner Joe Lacob declared, “We’re light years ahead of everybody.” When they lost the 2016 Finals, any sort of glee around the league was short-lived once Durant came to the rescue. They won back-to-back championships, and that was before DeMarcus Cousins hopped aboard. It’s not a stretch to say that the Warriors lost their initial identity and some respect along the way.

But when Curry sat in the first quarter Friday night, there was no Durant to step in. It was Quinn Cook, an undrafted free agent who was waived by four teams before he got to the Warriors in 2017.

Later in the quarter, when Andrew Bogut hit the bench, Cousins didn’t replace him. It was Kevon Looney, a player that every team passed on in the 2015 draft before the Warriors picked him 30th overall.

When 2015 Finals MVP Andre Iguodala left the game at the 3:16 mark, another undrafted free agent stepped onto the floor in Alonzo McKinnie. Jordan Bell, a second-round pick in 2017, would later replace Draymond Green.

At the end of the first quarter, Klay Thompson wasn’t surrounded by four All-NBA players like he was at the start of the playoffs. Instead, it was two undrafted free agents, a second-rounder and the last pick of the first round—every one of them signed for the veteran’s minimum. This wasn’t the Warriors team that Cousins called the most hated team in all of sports. Suddenly, these were underdogs, heavy underdogs. Before the game, betting markets favored the Rockets over the Warriors by seven points.

To make matters worse, Curry had probably his worst half of playoff basketball. He had never gone scoreless for an entire half in a playoff game. But Kerr’s respect for Curry, his confidence in his point guard, never wavered.

“Every time something like this happens, we all look at each other and say, ‘He’s still going to get 30 and hit the biggest shot and win the game,’” Kerr said. “Like, that’s who he is. He makes some plays that you just can’t even believe … good and bad.”

Oh, yes, there was bad Steph in this game. The foul on Harden to pick up his second of the game was entirely avoidable, but Curry impeded Harden’s landing zone on a 3-point shot and got himself in foul trouble in a game he absolutely couldn’t get himself into foul trouble. Then, he carelessly bulldozed through P.J. Tucker in the lane and picked up his third foul with 5:44 left in the second quarter.

Curry hit the bench again, finishing the first half with 0-for-5 from the floor and more fouls (three) than combined points and assists (two).

“I was pretty, pretty terrible,” Curry said. “The only thing I did well was not turn the ball over in the 12 minutes I was out there.”

(He actually did. The charge.)

Instead of folding underneath the weight of Durant and Cousins’ injuries and early foul trouble that burdened Curry and Green, the Warriors’ unheralded supporting cast hung with the Rockets, earning a 57-57 tie at halftime. Kerr sat his stars longer than they wished and trusted the bench more than he had in weeks.

Once the second half started, the Warriors were unleashed. Curry made his first shot -- a 27-foot 3-pointer assisted by Green -- at the 9:49 mark of the third quarter. That started a Splash Brothers waterfall that seemed almost inevitable. Curry dazzled his way to 33 points after the break, while he and Thompson finished off the Rockets by scoring the Warriors’ final 19 points.

After the game, LeBron James tweeted “NEVER underestimate the heart of a champion.” Dwyane Wade, a three-time champion himself, typed out these words to Twitter: “Y’all better stop disrespecting @StephenCurry30 just because he’s a team first guy and is willing to sacrifice in moments doesn’t mean he’s not still a beast.”

Underestimated. Disrespected. Did Curry feel that way coming into Game 6 without Durant?

“I’ve heard a lot of noise in this series for sure; I’ll leave it at that,” Curry said. “Obviously I appreciate those words (from James and Wade). Champions recognize champions and what it takes to win games like tonight and do what we’ve been able to do these last five years. Hopefully more of that to come.”

There’s still plenty of work to do. The Warriors didn’t win the title on Friday night, but there was no shortage of celebration after the game. When the buzzer sounded, Thompson ran around in a frenzy hugging everyone in sight. Some team executives, some random bystanders.

Lacob sprinted toward Kerr, grabbed his shoulders and screamed “Brilliant! Brilliant!” in his ear and then hugged him. Curry found his father Dell and hugged him. Then, Steph found his mother Sonya and noticeably hugged her for a few beats longer. Sunday was Mother’s Day, and he’d now have the opportunity to spend it with her and his wife rather than playing in a Game 7 on the same day as his brother Seth, who will face the Denver Nuggets.

There was something else in the air on Friday night. Relief, sure. But it felt more like respect had been refilled, like the Warriors had regained something they lost. One rival general manager who watched the game described the Warriors’ performance over text as “so, so good. Fun to watch them rely on movement when Durant is out.”

There’s no loss of respect for Durant in the Warriors’ locker room. After the game, Thompson called Durant “one of the greatest players to ever play, the best scorer in the world.” He went on, “If we want this three-peat, we desperately need him back. He’s our best player. We dearly miss him. We’ll hold it down without him. It’s not the same without him.” Curry, later on SportsCenter, echoed that sentiment, calling Durant “the best player in the league” unprompted.

While the Warriors wait for Durant to rejoin their three-peat quest, the Rockets, and their stars, search for answers yet again. Harden, for the fourth time in five years, exits the playoffs at the hands of the Warriors despite a potential second straight regular-season MVP season. Chris Paul, who so desperately sought validation after last year’s ill-timed hamstring injury, remained healthy for the entire postseason and finished Friday with his best game of the postseason: 27 points, 11 rebounds and six assists.

He wanted this one badly. This is a guy who, before Game 6 last year at Oracle Arena, needed to leave the court because he was hyperventilating -- a revelation he made on a recent episode of The JJ Redick Podcast.

“I was close to throwing up or damn-near pass out,” Paul said. “I was so nervous and so anxious. And I never feel that when I play, but it was the simple fact that I had no control over what was about to happen.”

There were opportunities for Paul and the rest of the Rockets to take control of Friday’s game and turn the series. It’s hard to imagine them getting dealt a stronger set of cards. Curry sat for long stretches with foul trouble. So did Green. But Harden uncharacteristically missed five of his 12 free throws, the first time he missed that many at the line in a playoff game since 2013. Eric Gordon only took two 3-pointers and never got to the free-throw line.

Internally, there were some in the Rockets organization that felt that this was a better opportunity to take down the Warriors than last year, even though they were the No. 1 seed in 2018. This year’s Warriors team seemed disjointed after a first-round series with the L.A. Clippers and belabored with the cumulative fatigue that comes after four straight Finals runs. But still, the Rockets squandered that opportunity in Game 6.

Maybe Durant leaves the Warriors this summer and levels out the playing field out West a bit. But how can the Rockets feel any better about taking down the Warriors after losing to this Durant-less team in a must-win at home? Paul will be 35 years old this time next year, and Clint Capela didn’t take the step forward many expected this postseason. With a bloated payroll, it seems the Rockets have no choice but to run it back next season and hope they break through like the 2011 Dallas Mavericks.

Meanwhile, the Warriors’ swagger of old returned on Friday night. For the first time in a long time, it seemed respect was earned around the league again, a reminder of what this team is capable of -- with Durant and Cousins or without them. But to get respect from others, the Warriors first had to trust each other -- the coaching staff and players.

“It’s just a great vibe,” Curry said. “They bring the best out of us. That’s why we are who we are.”

Follow me on Twitter (@TomHaberstroh) and bookmark NBCSports.com/Haberstroh for my latest stories, videos and podcasts.

NBA’s biggest questions before return

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NBC Sports

NBA’s biggest questions before return

The NBA is back. Well, sort of.

No Stephen Curry, Draymond Green or Klay Thompson.

No Trae Young, Karl-Anthony Towns or D’Angelo Russell. Teams in large markets like the Chicago Bulls and New York Knicks will be watching from home. Charlotte, Detroit and Cleveland: back to the big board.

But for everyone else, NBA games are upon us. 

For weeks, the league office, the board of governors and the National Basketball Players Association have gone back-and-forth on a variety of ideas with the explicit goal of resuming the NBA season in some form. Everyone wanted to play basketball. That was never in doubt. But not everyone wanted to play basketball if it meant a substantial risk of getting infected with coronavirus or suffering a major injury due to the extreme circumstances.

Following Thursday’s board of governors vote, the NBA believes it has a plan to account for both of those risks. But as they say, the devil is in the details. 

As much as we’d like to believe we have all the answers and everything is wrapped with a bow, the world does not work that way. There’s still plenty of uncertainty in this plan.

Here are seven lingering questions as the NBA proceeds towards July 31.

Is it, you know, safe?

“It’s about the data, not the date.” Commissioner Adam Silver said those words on a conference call with the media in late April while addressing the NBA’s eventual return-to-play plans.

Well, it’s early June and we have a date. The data? That’s another story.

The league and the players union have insisted that health comes first and there are signs that they’re taking that side of the plan very seriously. For one, they’ve planned to convene at one central site. Secondly, according to an ESPN report, there are plans for daily testing, which would be an enormous undertaking financially, logistically and politically. 

In my discussions with epidemiologists and infectious-disease experts, those were critical elements of a safe return-to-play plan, but there are still finer details that need to be addressed. Who’s allowed in the bubble? What kind of tests will those people receive? Does the league have the requisite supplies? What about hotel, food and maintenance staff testing? 

Above all, the NBA would be wise to have a concrete plan in the case that one or multiple people inside the bubble test positive. How many positive tests are acceptable? One? One per team? Does a positive test in August have different implications than one in October presumably in the Finals? 

In talks with teams around the league, this is one of the thornier issues that team executives need the league to address. A strictly-enforced guideline on how to handle positive tests would do a lot to strip away the emotions that can get in the way of making sound decisions and help the league protect its employees -- players, coaches, execs or team staffers -- from harm.

Not every team is in the same position. Take the New Orleans Pelicans, whose head coach, Alvin Gentry, is 65 years old. His top assistant, Jeff Bzdelik, is 67 years old. The CDC states that people 65 years or older are considered a high risk for severe illness from COVID-19. If a positive test pops up on their team, does the NBA need to take stronger action than other teams? What if they played a team with a positive test? 

Should Gentry and Bzdelik have to wear a mask on the sidelines? Should they be on the sidelines? These are thorny questions that don’t appear to have answers at the moment. 

And that’s just one coaching staff. What about referees? The NBA’s longest-tenured referee, Ken Mauer, is 65 years old. So is longtime NBA referee Michael Smith. If Gentry and Bzdelik have to wear masks, do Mauer and Smith have to wear masks as well? Can you officiate that way? And would the NBA let them officiate games of teams if they officiated a team with a recent positive test?

It feels a bit like we’re putting the cart before the horse. We’ve already planned a return date when one of its teams, the Spurs, haven’t deemed it safe to reopen their own practice facility because of coronavirus concerns

All these questions are tricky because there is still so much we don’t know about the novel coronavirus. But teams are hoping the league addresses them clearly in a league-issued document.

Will NBA players take a knee?

As the league plots a return to the court, NBA players, the vast majority of whom identify as black or African-American, are facing more than a deadly pandemic. Perhaps no one put it more clearly than former NBA All-Star Caron Butler, who said Wednesday night on the NBA’s official platform: “We’ve been dealing with two viruses: COVID-19 and racism.”

When it comes to social issues and civil rights, NBA stars have been some of the most outspoken in all of American sports. These days have been no different. LeBron James, who in 2017 called the President a “bum” for his response to Stephen Curry’s White House rebuff, recently blasted Drew Brees on Twitter after the Saints quarterback reiterated that kneeling during the anthem is disrespectful to the military.  

Players like Curry, Kyrie Irving, Jaylen Brown and Towns have marched or attended rallies in recent days to protest systemic racism and police brutality in the wake of George Floyd’s murder at the hands of law enforcement. One of the most vocal activists in the country has been Floyd’s friend, Stephen Jackson, a 14-year NBA veteran.

While the NHL has plans for a return and MLB is negotiating for one, there’s no doubt that the NBA will be the main draw in town. As such, the NBA megaphone may be louder than ever. 

However, some players already feel a restart may be taking away from the larger societal conversation.

Los Angeles Clippers point guard Patrick Beverley is known as one of the fiercest competitors in the league, but he strongly disagreed with the renewed focus on basketball.

Beverley wasn’t alone. When news broke Wednesday of the imminent agreement on return-to-play, Brooklyn Nets forward Wilson Chandler tweeted: “Government can’t wait until the NBA start the season back. Need a distraction from the bulls*** that’s going on. Always in need of a distraction.” Miami Heat guard Andre Iguodala, Los Angeles Lakers forward Kyle Kuzma, San Antonio Spurs forward Trey Lyles each retweeted Chandler’s sentiment with supportive comments.

On Wednesday night, Kuzma went further, tweeting a photo of Brees kneeling with teammates with the caption: “This shows you that there are a lot of people & companies out there right now that will say they stand with us but only do it so they dont get bashed not because they mean it.”

League insiders have been supportive of NBA players protesting in the streets of America. But what happens if they take those protests to the basketball court? Or the national anthem itself? 

If NBA players decide to kneel during the anthem like Colin Kaepernick and other NFL players did, it will be in violation of NBA rules. In the Player/Team Conduct and Dress section of the Official NBA Rule Book, Rule 2 states: “Players, coaches and trainers are to stand and lineup in a dignified posture along the sidelines or on the foul line during the playing of the National Anthem.”

In 2017, the commissioner said he expects players to stand and follow the rules. The players did fall in line, choosing instead to stand with interlocked arms during the anthem for several games. 

NBA players might choose a different demonstration this time around. Kneeling during the anthem is officially against NBA rules, but it remains to be seen what the official punishment would be if NBA players decided to protest in that manner. One thing’s for sure: The world will be watching.

Is the scheduling fair?

The NBA landed on a compromise. They could have played the rest of the regular season or gone straight to the playoffs. Playing the rest of the regular season would mean teams would have to play 17 games on average. The NBA decided to split the difference and play eight.

Fair enough. But who would those 22 teams play in those eight games? One idea is to pick up where they left off before the league shutdown on March 11 and play the next eight games on the schedule. Seems fair, right?

That doesn’t work in a league where eight teams are no longer playing. For example, the Spurs’ next eight opponents were, in order: Denver, Minnesota, Memphis, New Orleans, Chicago, Utah, Utah again and finally a repeat date with Minnesota. Minnesota and Chicago aren’t going to be in Orlando. 

So what do you do? If you take those three games out and move up the next three opponents in line, the Spurs would then play Denver, Golden State and Sacramento. Uh, oh. Golden State won’t be there either. If you take Golden State out and look to their next scheduled game … you find Golden State, again. The next opponent would be New Orleans. To just get to eight games, the Spurs would have to look at their next 15 games.

But that sprouts two more problems. First, the Spurs just replaced non-playoff teams opponents with playoff-aspiring teams. Is that fair? By pure luck, the Grizzlies have already played 15 of their 16 scheduled games against the eight non-bubble teams, going 11-4 against the league’s doormat clubs. On the other hand, the Spurs just got five of their easier games erased and replaced them with harder opponents. Yikes.

And that brings the second issue. The Spurs’ eighth game against New Orleans? The Pelicans would be long done by then. 

To solve this issue, the league could just scrap the regular-season schedule and play a new set of games with fairer distribution of games.

You might say, “Who cares? Just play the games.” Try telling that to New Orleans, Portland, San Antonio and Sacramento, four small-market teams that are all but dead-locked in the standings and fighting for that final playoff spot. Every detail matters. 

Of course, there’s nothing fair about a pandemic. But there are things that the NBA can control. This is one of them, and it could have long-lasting ripple effects, especially for small market teams.

Given the huge moats surrounding the No. 8 seeds (Magic have a 5.5-game lead on the Wizards and Grizzlies have a 3.5-game lead on three teams), schedule equity could be a moot point anyway. The play-in game (it’s not a tournament) only comes into play if the ninth seed is within four games or fewer of the eighth seed at the end of the eight games. Even then, the No. 9 seed would have to win twice against the No. 8 seed to punch their ticket. Not to throw a wet blanket on the bubble teams, but if you’re not in the eighth seed by now, you’re basically Lloyd Christmas talking to Mary Swanson.

Will players be physically ready?

This is not like the 2011 lockout. This is a pandemic, not a work stoppage. In previous lockouts, the players regularly played pick-up games, sometimes for charity in front of crowds, to stay in shape. This time around, NBA players haven’t been allowed to play five-on-five in months. 

Early on in the process, the NBA presented a plan in which all 30 teams would return under the bubble environment, but that idea was met with considerable resistance, according to league sources. Multiple players and teams expressed disagreement with that idea and would rather not play than risk injury and infection. Portland was the lone team that dissented during Thursday’s vote and its star player, Damian Lillard, went on the record in late May to say he would sit out unless the Blazers could fight for the playoffs. Lillard told Yahoo Sports he was just coming off a groin injury and that factored into his calculus: “I'll be putting myself at risk for injury and reinjure myself.” 

The Blazers were given that chance to make the playoffs and still the team voted against. While it’s unclear how much of a role Lillard’s comments played into the Blazers’ position, it’s telling that even a superstar with five years guaranteed after this season is still iffy about risking it. According to reports, the Blazers preferred other formats and listened to their players before making the call.

Imagine being a free agent on a bubble team this summer and getting your body ready to play potentially only eight games. Is it worth it? If Washington Wizards sharpshooting forward and unrestricted-free-agent-to-be Davis Bertans felt the risk wasn’t worth the reward, I wouldn’t blame him for sitting out these games to protect what might be the biggest payday of his career.

Athletic trainers, strength and conditioning coaches and medical staffs will be hard-pressed to get their players ready in time for the July 31 kickoff. Three months of no basketball will disrupt the kinetic chain of joints, muscles and ligaments that make NBA players so thrilling to watch. 

On that note, prepare for some bad basketball as players work themselves back into shape. According to Basketball Reference tracking, the two biggest drops in year-to-year offensive efficiency in NBA history came during lockout seasons in 2011-12 (minus-2.7) and 1998-99 (minus-2.8). With a denser schedule and accelerated training camps, teams coughed up the ball at higher rates and shooting percentages bottomed out. Expect more of the same in the coming months. Basketball is back … ish.

What about the other eight teams?

The NBA’s 22-team return-to-play plan means we won’t see the Golden State Warriors in action until December. Here’s a crazy thought: Stephen Curry, Klay Thompson and Draymond Green will go 18 months without playing in real games together. Life comes at you fast in the NBA. 

I hope the other eight teams will be able to participate in some sort of charity tournament or other competition between now and whenever the 2020-21 season starts (Curry vs. Thompson showdown, anyone!?). Nine months without playing basketball is a long time -- especially for teams like the Minnesota Timberwolves who remade their roster at the trade deadline and had almost no time to build on-court chemistry. D’Angelo Russell and Karl-Anthony Towns played in one game together in the 2019-20 season.

There’s also the issue of the draft and the draft lottery. For the teams that make the playoffs, draft order will be based on their regular-season record, including their eight “seeded” games. But for the lottery teams, the lottery odds are locked in as of their record on March 11. 

That eliminates the incentive for the Wizards to tank the eight-game slate in epic fashion, go 0-and-8 and leap the Charlotte Hornets and Chicago Bulls in the draft order odds. As my astute colleague Dan Feldman points out, that would raise the Wizards’ odds of a top-three pick from six percent to 15 percent. 

My hope is that the Wizards wouldn’t do that for the spirit of the competition, but the fact that the NBA pre-empted such an egregious tank job by freezing draft odds on March 11 is a tacit admission that teams are incentivized to throw games. We should just abolish the draft all together and let prospects choose their destination like we do for NBA free agents already. But that’s a discussion for another day.

Charlotte and Chicago have to be happy the league stepped in. If there’s a silver lining for the Delete Eight, as John Hollinger brilliantly dubbed them, it’s that they can finally move forward with clarity. The draft is tentatively set for Oct. 15 and the Bulls, who have picked seventh in the last two drafts, have the seventh-best odds in the draft lottery. At least there’s some semblance of normalcy in all this.

How weird is this going to be?

Super weird, at first. Are we going to have ads covering up the seats? Are we going to pipe in crowd noise? How much will that taint the viewer experience? 

We’ll probably get used to that, just like we’re used to laugh tracks on sitcoms. We better get used to it. Believe me, the NBA or the players’ union won’t allow raw audio from the court to be heard at home. That screams PR disaster. 

Even if they could offer an “uncensored” feed for a nominal fee to scrape together some extra dough, I’m guessing the unsavory stuff would trickle out onto the internet in no time. There are better ways for the NBA to have fans feel more engaged and closer to the action. Referee cams? Alternate broadcaster teams? NBA Jam-like flames when a player hits consecutive shots? Let’s get weird.

What does this mean for the NBA beyond 2020?

Even before this pandemic hit, I’ve argued that the NBA should kick off the regular season on Christmas Day. It’s time to make it a permanent change. Most fans don’t tune into the NBA until Christmas anyway (the league office programs its national TV schedule accordingly). The NBA has owned that day on the sports calendar. Just make it official already.

Although the NBA says that it will “likely” begin the 2020-21 season on Dec. 1, I wouldn’t be surprised if they buy some more time to raise the chances that they can get at least some fans in the seats. The commissioner has told players recently that ticket revenue typically makes up 40 percent of the league’s income, according to a report from Shams Charania. That’s an enormous pile of cash to leave behind in 2020-21. 

It’d be difficult to slowly re-integrate fans into the stands without shutting down for a period of time, allowing arena staff to reset protocols and observe new health guidelines. Perhaps the NBA can gradually fill seats on the fly without a pause in the schedule, but finding a sensible and healthy way to recoup ticket revenues should be a top priority for 2020-21.

From a fatigue standpoint, a Dec. 1 start for next season seems to be pushing it. The Finals will end sometime in early October and training camp would be slated for Nov. 10. Do we really want the league’s best players and teams to be coming into training camp ragged for 2020-21? After an injury-marred season from Curry and Williamson, I’d imagine the league will be looking to ensure every possibility that its top draws are as healthy as possible.

It seems the dates for 2020-21 are moving targets, according to reports from ESPN. My educated guess is that the league settles on Christmas Day as the 2020-21 season opener, pending any major coronavirus developments. A lot can change between now and then.

Follow Tom Haberstroh on Twitter (@TomHaberstroh), and bookmark NBCSports.com/Haberstroh for my latest stories and videos and subscribe to the Habershow podcast.

NBA has more work to do after George Floyd response

NBA has more work to do after George Floyd response

Out of 30 NBA teams, 28 issued official statements on Twitter regarding the George Floyd killing. The only two teams that failed to issue a statement with the New York Knicks and San Antonio Spurs, as of the morning of June 3. 

Spurs coach and team president Gregg Popovich condemned police brutality, white privlege and leadership issues in an interview with The Nation. The Spurs organization have not yet publicly backed Popovich's comments.

Out of those 28 teams, 26 cited Floyd by name, but only six official statements released on Twitter included the words police, law enforcement, or those in uniform. The Washington Wizards released possibly the strongest statement, notably doing so on behalf of their players, including the phrase, "We will no longer tolerate the assassination of people of color in this country."