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Doc Rivers shuts down Kawhi Leonard comparisons for Rui Hachimura

Doc Rivers shuts down Kawhi Leonard comparisons for Rui Hachimura

The 2019 NBA Draft was a weird night for the Wizards faithful. 

Armed with the ninth overall pick and Duke star Cam Reddish surprisingly on the board, the Wizards took Rui Hachimura out of Gonzaga. He had a solid reputation as a pick-and-pop power forward with upside on the defensive end, but his draft stock was somewhere in the 10-20 range. 

As Hachimura went up to greet Adam Silver and put on a Wizards hat for the first time, Chauncey Billups compared the big man to a young version of two-time Finals MVP Kawhi Leonard. 

https://twitter.com/HoopDistrictDC/status/1141870805502103559?s=20

Young Kawhi or current Kawhi, that was a hot take from Billups. Expectations were going to be high for Hachimura anyway after going ninth overall, but this added unnecessary fuel to the fire. 

Before Leonard and the Clippers took on Hachimura's Wizards Sunday night, head coach Doc Rivers acknowledged the comparison. 

“I wouldn’t want that," Rivers said to Fred Katz. "That’s too early. Let him be him... But everything I hear about him, forget the basketball part, is that he’s supposed to be a great kid. And that helps.”

While the Leonard comparisons were all but put to bed, Hachimura had a career night against the Clippers Sunday. He finished with 30 points and nine rebounds on 13-23 from the floor and hit 2-of-5 threes. 

He's just the third rookie to score 30 points in a game this season and the first Wizards rookie to have 30 points and nine rebounds in a game since Juwan Howard in 1995. 

Hachimura may never get to Leonard's level as a player, but there's nothing wrong with that. Few players become all-time greats. 

What's clear through his first 18 games is that he's a player the Wizards can keep to build a formidable young core around Bradley Beal and John Wall. As he continues to get his feet under him and stretches his game out to the three-point line, we might be looking at a future All-Star.

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John Wall shares fear of being pulled over by police, experiences growing up with racial discrimination

John Wall shares fear of being pulled over by police, experiences growing up with racial discrimination

As people around the country continue to protest police brutality and racial injustices against black people, athletes continue to add their powerful voices and experiences to the cause.

Wizards guard John Wall joined in the conversation, discussing the fear he continues to have about being pulled over by the police. For many black Americans, the reality of racial discrimination makes the mere thought of being pulled over more daunting than it should be. Apparently that anxiety doesn’t dissipate just because you’re a star athlete.

“If I get pulled over right now, I’m terrified,” Wall said on Thursday’s episode of The Athletic’s “Hoops, Adjacent” podcast. “To be realistic. If I’m in a dark area, or a back street, I’m not stopping. I’ll go to a high-speed chase to get to a spot where it’s a grocery store, or somewhere where there’s a lot of lights at, because that’s how terrifying it is.”

To some, it may be jarring to hear a recognizable, millionaire athlete discuss his fear of the police, but the money and acclaim don't provide a shield from racism. And for many black people, the fear is instilled at a young age, either through personal experiences or those of people with the same skin color. In the age of camera phones, more and more incidents are being recorded for the world to see.

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George Floyd was suffocated and killed by a white police officer in Minnesota who put a knee to his neck for over eight minutes. Breonna Taylor was shot at least eight times and killed in her own home by police in Louisville. Ahmaud Arbery was shot to death by a white father and son while jogging in a Georgia neighborhood.

“You’re telling me if I want to be a black kid to jog in a neighborhood, and I say, ‘Ok, I want to cut through this white neighborhood, this rich neighborhood,’ and then all of a sudden, I’m targeted to get killed?” Wall continued. “Because I don’t belong there? Those are the kind of things I grew up with, like you wouldn’t go to this side of town where you wasn’t allowed. Why? We breathe the same air.”

Wall, who grew up in Raleigh, N.C., said the constant acts of racial discrimination have been frustrating and that all people want to see is justice. 

“I feel like this has been going on for decades, been going on for so much longer than the time I’ve been on this earth,” he said. “But if we didn’t have social media or camera phones right now, we wouldn’t be able to see this act going on.”

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NBA commissioner Adam Silver confident one positive COVID-19 diagnosis won't derail NBA's return plan

NBA commissioner Adam Silver confident one positive COVID-19 diagnosis won't derail NBA's return plan

The NBA now has a concrete plan to return to action, but there are still obstacles that will need solving when play resumes. One of the most important will be the health and safety of players amid the coronavirus pandemic.

Specifically, the league will need to know how to handle the possibility of a positive COVID-19 virus diagnosis. With a large number of individuals destined to be in close proximity in Orlando, could one player testing positive derail the entire plan? Would that team then have to be eliminated due to the potential risk they carry?

According to NBA commissioner Adam Silver, that will not be the case.

“The answer is we don’t believe we would need to," Silver told Charles Barkley on TNT's Inside the NBA, referring to the idea of having to eliminate a team due to a positive coronavirus result.

Silver's confidence stems from the vast amount of research and preparation the league has done to get to this stage in the return process. Not only have NBA officials detailed plans of action, but SIlver and others are working closely with health experts in Florida to make sure things go smoothly.

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Based on what they've heard so far, one positive test won't be the end-all for the NBA. If a player were to be diagnosed with COVID-19, the league knows the exact procedure to keep others safe.

“The view is that if we are testing every day and we are able to trace, in essence, the contacts the player has had," Silver said. "We are able to, in essence, contain that player and separate that from his team.”

The commissioner explained that the NBA is continuing to test on a daily basis, and that won't change anytime soon. The threat of coronavirus impacting the league's return is strong, but Silver and the NBA are confident that they'll be able to overcome any issues and have the season play out in a safe manner.

"The belief is we would not have to shut down if a single player tested positive," Silver said. 

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