New York Jets VIDEO: Sam Darnold takes the court with Klay Thompson

Set to return to the gridiron, the New York Jets quarterback hit the hardwood alongside a fellow Golden State sports legend.

If anyone in the NBA’s Orlando bubble needs any help over the next few weeks, Sam Darnold may be on hand to assist.

In video posted by Instagram user @ChrisBennett143, the New York Jets quarterback and two of his passing counterparts traded in the pigskin for the roundball alongside NBA All-Star Klay Thompson. Known for throwing six-pointers, Darnold tosses up several triples from long-range alongside the Golden State Warriors’ shooting guard. Darnold is continuing to prepare for the upcoming NFL season alongside Buffalo’s Josh Allen and Kyle Allen of Washington (no relation). The trio has been working with former draft pick Jordan Palmer (brother of Carson) in California.

Darnold’s basketball prowess shouldn’t come as any surprise. Like Thompson, Darnold got his athletic start on Southern California’s high school scene. He was a two-sport athlete at San Clemente High School and his basketball accolades include league MVP honors. His high school coach Marc Popovich believed that Darnold could’ve played college basketball in the Pac-12 Conference and that his hoops prowess helped his case on the football field.

“Basketball, a lot of times, especially with our style of play, was kind of free-flowing in a way,” Popovich said to Alex Kirshner of SB Nation in November 2016. “There was not necessarily something set every single time down, so he had to get used to playing that way. I think that definitely helped in football. He’d had those things where he’s had bad snaps and he’s rolled out and completed a 32-yard pass, and kind of ridiculous stuff like that. And I think in those improvising situations, the basketball really helps. The ability to read defenses, to see where your teammates are, all that stuff really translates.”

ESM’s own Dylan Price wrote about Darnold’s basketball exploits earlier this month.

Darnold instead shifted fully to football and threw for 7,229 yards and 57 touchdowns over two seasons as the starter at the University of Souther California. That came several years after Thompson also burst onto the scene in the Pac-12 with the Washington State Cougars men’s basketball program. Thompson’s No. 1 was retired in Pullman during their January tilt against Oregon State.

Geoff Magliocchetti is on Twitter @GeoffJMags

New York Liberty: Walt Hopkins speaks after first day of practice

From the courts at IMG Academy, New York Liberty head coach Walt Hopkins and two of his proteges spoke after the first day of workouts.

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Back in the lab #LibertyLoud🗽

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Most New Yorkers abscond to Florida to relax, maybe even retire. The New York Liberty are doing the exact opposite.

Two weeks from Saturday, the WNBA will commence its 24th season of operation at IMG Academy in Bradenton. By the end of this weekend, each of the league’s dozen teams will have made the trip south and the Liberty officially got things rolling with their first organized workouts.

Hopkins spoke with the media afterward, enthused by the first on-court happenings. Counting Hopkins himself, the Liberty feature seven rookies on their roster, not counting ninth overall pick Megan Walker (who has not reported to Florida after testing positive for COVID-19). That group is headlined by top overall selection and queen of the NCAA triple-double Sabrina Ionescu. If videos shared by the Liberty’s official accounts are any indication, it appears that Ionescu is already forming a rapport with All-Star teammate Kia Nurse.

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@kianurse x @sabrina_i, get used to it 💥🗽

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Day 1 done. 🎤 🔥

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“It was a really good first day,” Hopkins remarked in a Zoom teleconference. “Having young legs, having people who aren’t used to what the WNBA normally looks like, this is an experience for them no matter where we’re playing or what the conditions are. It’s been nice. The energy has just been so positive and the older players on the team have really been good in terms of bringing them along and really being supportive. We have a great group.”

Hopkins takes over the Liberty duties after three seasons as an assistant with the Minnesota Lynx (ironically, former Liberty head coach and Naismith Memorial Hall of Famer Katie Smith took Hopkins’ seat on the Lynx bench). He hails from Brooklyn, where the Liberty were set to christen Barclays Center as their new home arena before the pandemic forced the league to form the bubble at IMG.

Save for losing his voice in crowded surroundings, as the Liberty’s competition is likewise preparing, Hopkins is pleased with what he’s seen in the so-called “Wubble”.

“It could be a consequence of having more than half the team be rookies, but they don’t look like rookies,” Hopkins said. “They don’t like scared or have the blank look on their face when you’re trying to explain an action or they don’t understand terminology. I think (thanks to) the lead-up that we had, discussions with our quarterback club and Zoom meetings, and things like that, the familiarity with what we’re doing has been really high. We’ve been able to dive right in.”

The feeling was mutual amongst Hopkins’ freshest newcomer, Joyner Holmes. A Texas alumna, Holmes was added to the team after reserve forward Rebecca Allen opted out of the 2020 proceedings.

Holmes explained that Hopkins and his rapid approach to the game was one of the biggest things that attracted her to New York. She was originally chosen in the second round of April’s draft by Seattle (19th overall) but was let go in the first series of roster cuts to ensure players would receive their full salaries.

“The coaching staff, for me, was a really big plus,” Holmes said. “I like Walt a lot. He’s really free-range and willing to let us do whatever, try to follow his system. That was a really big target for me.”

“I wouldn’t say I’m surprised by Joyner’s skillset because she got to show it off a bit at Texas,” Hopkins added. “She’s really skilled. She really does have guard skills for her size (6’3), she can play multiple positions, guard multiple positions. She’s an eager learner, has totally bought in and responded to anything we’ve needed. We’re really excited about her.”

Along for the ride is a select handful of veterans, including center/forward Kiah Stokes. Things are just a little bit different since Stokes last wore the Liberty’s brand of seafoam green. Stokes is returning to WNBA action after taking a year off from New York exploits for personal reasons. Having last donned the Liberty colors in 2018, Stokes will be joined by only two comrades from that squad. She’s particularly close to both, as she’ll be reuniting with Nurse, a fellow champion from the University of Connecticut. Stokes will also be manning the interior with center/forward Amanda Zahui B.

The all-time leading blocker in WNBA history only turned 27 in March but is the second-oldest member of the modern Liberty behind free agent addition Layshia Clarendon (29). Stokes said she will be embracing her role as a new team leader.

“I’m looking forward to it. Me, Zahui, and Kia kind of joke about it, we’re the vets now, though we’re pretty young,” Stokes said with a smile. “It’s crazy to think how much our team has changed already. But I’m really looking forward to it. I think it will help push me to become a better player, a better leader.”

Along with Clarendon, Stokes is also a rare member of the Liberty who has experienced the joy of the WNBA Playoffs. In her rookie campaign of 2015, Stokes was the heroine of an Eastern semifinal, win-or-go-home matchup with Washington, sinking the layup that put the Liberty ahead for good and blocking the Mystics’ attempt at tying the game on their final possession.

“I think this is going to be a fresh start. When I came into the league, we were pretty good and then we kind of had a falling off. But I think this is just a brand new start. We have the opportunity to make a statement. Such a young team can grow together, build together and I think that if we all just buy in and work really hard, we can become something really, really special.”

The WNBA season is scheduled to open on July 25.

Geoff Magliocchetti is on Twitter @GeoffJMags

Brooklyn Nets: Spencer Dinwiddie Tests Positive for COVID-19 a 2nd time, Will Not Travel to Orlando with team

Spencer Dinwiddie, Brooklyn Nets

You ever have one of those days where nothing seems to go your way, and you find yourself asking, how can today possibly get any worse? And then low and behold, something else terrible happens and it immediately gets worse? That has been the last several months for our Brooklyn Nets.

Spencer Dinwiddie, who was hopeful to travel with the Nets to Orlando despite being infected with COVID-19 and showing symptoms, tested positive for a 2nd time on Monday, thus ending any hopes of returning to the hardwood once the season resumes. Dinwiddie updated fans and commended the Nets organization in several tweets earlier on Tuesday afternoon:

Dinwiddie is the 6th player on the Nets roster to have tested positive for COVID-19 since March and the 2nd Net in the last two weeks, as DeAndre Jordan also tested positive for the virus. Unlike Jordan, who immediately stated he would not be playing in Orlando, Dinwiddie’s goal was to rehab as much as he can and see where things stood before the team left to Orlando. Unfortunately, Dinwiddie fell short of his goal and will be watching what’s left of the Nets compete from the comfort of his home. The Brooklyn point guard did leave fans on a positive note by tweeting out the following:

With Dinwiddie officially out, the team has some tough roster decisions to make. Who will start at point guard? Which players will step up and attempt to match the production that was given to the Nets on a nightly basis from Dinwiddie, DeAndre, and Wilson Chandler? As NetsDaily pointed out, here is what the remaining roster looks like for Brooklyn:

It seems as though newcomer Tyler Johnson will get big minutes now, paired with the likes of Chiozza and Temple backing up Caris LeVert and Joe Harris. TLC will also be in that mix. Reserves such as Jeremiah Martin and Dzanan Musa could see an increase in playing time if there is any injury to the guards mentioned previously.

It will be interesting to watch how interim HC Jacque Vaughn handles this new roster and what lineups he decides to use in Orlando. There are several fans out there (myself included) that believe Vaughn is coaching for the Nets HC job next year, which could be a motivating factor for this team to perform well and exceed expectations. The Nets may not be the team they were when the season ended in March, but this team still has some fight left in them.

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BREAKING NEWS: New York Liberty G Asia Durr to miss 2020 WNBA season

The New York Liberty will be missing another guard in Florida, as 2019’s second overall pick has opted out of the upcoming season.

New York Liberty guard Asia Durr has elected to skip the 2020 WNBA season.

Durr, 23, revealed her decision on her social media accounts. In her statement, the Louisville alumna revealed that she tested positive for COVID-19 last month. The diagnosis played a major role in her decision to skip the upcoming season, which will take place in a bubble-like surrounding at IMG Academy in Bradenton, Florida.

“After much thought and consultation with my doctors and the Liberty, I have decided not to play the 2020 WNBA season,” Durr’s statement begins. “After testing positive for COVID-19 on June 8, my battle with it has been complicated and arduous. As I continue to fully recover, I had to make the difficult decision on a deadline to opt out as a medical High Risk player. So much about this virus is unknown and my heart is heavy, even as I make the decision that I know is best for my long-term wellness.”

The Liberty chose Durr with the second overall pick of the 2019 WNBA Draft. She had spent this offseason recovering from a groin injury that cost her 16 games of her rookie campaign and had undergone successful surgery in September. Durr averaged 9.7 points over 18 games (15 starts), with her season-best performance being a 20-point showing in a June win over Minnesota.

“Asia worked extremely hard this offseason to put herself in position to take a major leap forward in her second WNBA season,” said Liberty General Manager Jonathan Kolb in a team statement. “While we are disappointed that we will need to wait a bit longer to see her emerge as one of the bright young players in the game, we fully recognize and support the difficult decision she had to make amidst unprecedented circumstances. Brooklyn will be ready for her in 2021.”

Durr is the latest member of the Liberty to opt-out of the Florida endeavor, joining Rebecca Allen. Several others, including Marine Johannes, Stephanie Talbot, and Han Xu opted to remain overseas.

“I want to thank my teammates, the Liberty organization, our fans, and my partners for their compassion,” Durr said. “I plan to stay connected to the team virtually and support them on the court and in their efforts around social justice and activism from the bubble however I can. I hope you will do the same.”

Geoff Magliocchetti is on Twitter @GeoffJMags

New York Liberty start to make their way to the WNBA bubble

Members of the New York Liberty have descended upon IMG Academy in Bradenton, Florida as the WNBA prepare to open a 22-game season.

WNBA teams have begun their Floridan descent, as all but one of them have started to make their way to Bradenton’s IMG Academy for the opening of their 2020 season. The league is set to play a 22-game season headquartered in Florida after their May opening was delayed by the coronavirus pandemic.

Many players have taken to social media to showcase their new surroundings and representatives of the New York Liberty are no exception. Most notably, Kiah Stokes was more than happy to play into the Liberty’s reputation as a de facto United Nations of basketball. The center/forward of Turkish descent revealed that she would be rooming with guard Kia Nurse and fellow interior prescience Amanda Zahui B, who respectively hail from Canada and Sweden.

Elsewhere, veteran newcomer Layshia Clarendon announced her departure for the endeavor with a post that expressed a hint of trepidation but also hope and confidence in the league’s medical protocols.

Rookies also got in on the social sharing, with first-round picks Sabrina Ionescu and Jazmine Jones commemorating their arrivals in their Instagram Stories.

The WNBA has opted to create a bubble-like surrounding at IMG Academy, affectionately referred to by some players and media as the “wubble” (though Stokes spoke out against that name on Twitter). Coronavirus cases have surged in Florida, but the league is confident in its setup. 137 players were tested upon their arrival in Florida this week with seven testing positive, per a league statement. The statement explains that those who tested positive “will remain in self-isolation until she satisfies public health protocols for discontinuing isolation and has been cleared by a physician”. Players and staff will be tested daily for the next two weeks and will then quarantine for four days.

Of the league’s dozen teams, only the Indiana Fever has yet to report to Florida due to “an abundance of caution due to the CDC’s close contact self-quarantine requirements”. Several players have already opted out of the 2020 season due to health concerns, including Rebecca Allen and Asia Durr of the Liberty. Numerous national names have also opted out, including All-Stars Liz Cambage of Las Vegas and Jonquel Jones of Connecticut.

Player reviews of the “wubble” appear to be mixed thus far. Participants like Minnesota’s Lexie Brown have offered positive reviews thus far, while negative response have appeared to come from Seattle’s Jewell Loyd, among others.

In their effort to press on, the WNBA has announced that the 2020 season will be dedicated to social justice. The Floridian courts and players’ warm-up uniforms will bear the “Black Lives Matter” slogan and game uniforms on opening weekend will feature the names of female victims of police brutality and racial violence. Additionally, a Social Justice Council has been formed, one whose mission is described as a “driving force of necessary and continuing conversations about race, voting rights, LGBTQ+ advocacy, and gun control amongst other important societal issues”. Clarendon is among those on the council.

“We are incredibly proud of WNBA players who continue to lead with their inspiring voices and effective actions in the league’s dedicated fight against systemic racism and violence,” said WNBA Commissioner Cathy Engelbert in a league statement. “Working together with the WNBPA and the teams, the league aims to highlight players’ social justice efforts throughout the 2020 season and beyond.  Systemic change can’t happen overnight, but it is our shared responsibility to do everything we can to raise awareness and promote the justice we hope to see in society.”

The league’s schedule is expected to be released at a later date.

Geoff Magliocchetti is on Twitter @GeoffJMags

New York Jets: Sam Darnold Could Be a Two-Sport Star

New York Jets, Sam Darnold

Beginning over the next few weeks I took a deep dive into the 53 man roster in order to identify a few guys who could make a transition to another sport. Not because it’s realistic, but because fun hypothetical scenarios can make the carry over to football a lot easier.

Sam Darnold: Basketball

Every diehard Jets fan has seen the video of Sam draining threes in California last offseason. His basketball career goes way beyond the smooth as butter jump shot. Growing up Darnold said he dreamt of playing basketball. Darnold’s dreams of basketball were directly tied to the late Kobe Bryant and the Los Angeles Lakers. Darnold dreamt of repping the purple and gold long before the green and white.

The dreams were close to becoming a reality. Although Darnold was a stud on the gridiron, he also lit it up on the court. Looking back at his stats from San Clemente high school, they’re actually very impressive. Darnold played 49 games with 13.7 points per game, 6.5 rebounds per games, 2.6 assists per game and a 41% FG percentage. Darnold was a sharpshooter used all over by coach Marc Popovich for the Tritons. Darnold displayed leadership on the Tritons in route to a league MVP award in his Sophomore year of High School.

So where would Darnold have gone. Although he had dreams of being the next J.J. Reddick, Darnold chose the right sport. In high school, Darnold was a good enough basketball player to have likely played college basketball, but his highlights and his skill set likely wouldn’t have translated to much more success than that. His athleticism and build is much better suited for hurling the pig skin. Although Darnold may wonder what could have been, I’d say he’d have to be pretty damn happy to be a franchise QB for an NFL team as any consolation. 

Brooklyn Nets: The COVID-19 Nightmare Continues

It was only a few months ago when a report came out that four Brooklyn Nets players, one of them being Kevin Durant, tested positive for COVID-19. Now, in the last 48 hours, two more Nets have publicly announced that they too have tested positive for the virus.

DeAndre Jordan, at 9:34pm EST on Monday night, tweeted the following about how he found out he had tested positive for COVID-19:

Several hours earlier, it was reported that Spencer Dinwiddie also had tested positive for the virus after feeling COVID-19 symptoms such as chest tightness and a fever. While Jordan has made it clear he will not be playing when the NBA season resumes, Dinwiddie has been hopeful he can recover from the virus in time to rejoin the team hopefully during the playoffs. He had this to say in response to Woj implying Dinwiddie was strongly considering not joining the team in Orlando.

It’s been a rough few months for Nets fans who hoped to see some form of the team they envisioned way back when KD and Kyrie signed in last July. Fans got their hopes up several weeks ago that the two superstars might return when basketball resumes in late July, a rumor that was shut down quickly by both players.

In the last two weeks, it was reported that two more players would not be traveling to Orlando with the team, as the young power forward Nic Claxton had season-ending should-surgery several days ago and journeyman Wilson Chandler has chosen to spend more with his family this summer. Add DeAndre Jordan and possibly Spencer Dinwiddie to the mix, and that’s 6 key contributors the Nets will be missing when play resumes in Orlando. Some fans may be optimistic about the recent signings of Tyler Johnson and Justin Anderson, but at this point, fans will be watching an almost entirely different team than the one we saw for most of the year.

I would be remiss if I didn’t mention that more than anything, we hope Spencer, DeAndre, and all the professional athletes that have tested positive for COVID-19 get well soon. This virus is terrifying for these athletes and their families to have to endure, and I wish them nothing but the best during their recovery period. For the Nets players who have chosen not to return to the bubble for reasons outside of health, such as Wilson Chandler and Kyrie Irving, I have nothing but respect for those men and their decisions. They have a right to either fight for the cause they believe in or spend time with their family during these scary times.

While the Nets will be missing a large portion of their team in Orlando, they still will have Caris LeVert, who was playing the best basketball of his career prior to the season being suspended. Jarrett Allen and Joe Harris should most likely be traveling with the team as well. They should still be competitive and put up a fight in the first round of the playoffs. But many Nets fans can rest assured that this team at full strength and health next year, will be a real title contender and quite possibly the favorite in the East.

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Former Net Vince Carter Officially Retires: One of the Greatest Athletes to ever put on an NBA Uniform

Brooklyn Nets, Vince Carter

In the history of the NBA, how many players can say that their career spanned over 4 decades? The answer is only one: Vince Carter. The 8 time All-Star officially retired earlier today on The Ringer’s “Winging It” podcast. The decision did not come as a surprise, as Carter has been hinting at his retirement all season and the Atlanta Hawks were not invited to participate in Orlando when the NBA resumes in late July. You can see his official retirement statement in the tweet below:

Recapping Vince Carter’s Prolific NBA Career

Vince Carter was selected #5 overall in the 1998 draft by the Golden State Warriors, but was instantly traded to the Raptors for his teammate and the #4 pick in the draft, Antawn Jamison. Carter bust onto the scene with Toronto, averaging 18.3 ppg and 5.7 rpg in his rookie season, and quickly became known for his high flying, earth-shattering finishes at the rim. These finishes would usually result in a highlight-reel dunk but occasionally, Carter would opt for the acrobatic layup instead. Carter instantly became one of the most popular players in the league among young fans and garnered the nickname “Air Canada.” He was responsible for one of the greatest Slam Dunk contest performances of all time and also delivered one of the most disrespectful in-game dunks of all time during the 2000 Olympics, both videos can be seen below:

In Carter’s second year, his ppg ballooned up to 25.7 and alongside his cousin Tracy McGrady, and the two brought the Raptors to their first ever playoff appearance. After McGrady was dealt in the following season, Carter established himself among the top #2 guards in the league, averaging a career best 27.6 ppg in just his 3rd season. Carter even had a cameo as himself in the movie Like Mike (2002), as the player Calvin Cambridge (main character in Like Mike) had to make a play against in order to send his fictional team, the LA Knights, to the playoffs, despite losing his ability to play basketball “like Michael Jordan.” Like Michael Jordan, Carter had played his college ball at North Carolina, and the two (at their peaks) shared an elite athleticism trait rivaled by few in the NBA. In 2003, Carter gave up his all-star spot so Michael Jordan could play in the final all-star game of his career.

After 6 stellar seasons in Toronto, Carter was traded to the New Jersey Nets in the after 20 games into the 2004 season. The Nets, coming off back to back Finals appearances the two years prior, needed to fill a scoring void after losing Kenyon Martin to the Nuggets, and believed Carter was the man to do so. While the Nets never returned to an NBA Finals with Vince Carter, the combination of Carter/Kidd/Jefferson proved to be a dominant force in the East. VC benefited substantially from Kidd’s play-making ability and the two connected on so many beautiful ally-oops, as seen below:

Nets fans fell in love with “Vinsanity” since they had never been witness to such an athletic monster on their team. In other words, Carter was the closest thing to MJ that Nets fans would ever have the privilege of watching. Carter would go on to play 5 seasons with the Nets, averaging 23.6 ppg over that span. The Nets made the playoffs 3 out of the 5 seasons Carter was there, but unfortunately the team fell apart after the 2006-2007 season, as Jason Kidd was traded to the Dallas Mavericks in the 2007-2008 season and Carter was dealt to the Magic in the summer of 2009.

While many believed Carter’s career to be over after his tenure with the Nets, VC continued to defy the odds. Carter was able to be a great complement to Dwight Howard and in two seasons with Orlando, managed to average 16.3 ppg. In the 2009-2010 playoffs, Carter helped the Magic reach the Eastern Conference Finals, before losing 4 games to 2 against the Boston Celtics. It was the only time in Carter’s career he would reach conference finals series.  After his stint in Orlando, Carter would go on to play for 5 more teams, including the Suns, Mavericks, Grizzlies, Kings, and Hawks.

While he never won a championship, he was always viewed as a great teammate and an overall positive contributor to every team he’s ever been a part of. Carter was able to last as long as he did in the NBA due to his ability to adjust his role according to whatever the team he was playing for at that time needed. Even in the last several years, he developed into a great 3 and D player, mixing in the occasional highlight reel dunk/layup. He is no doubt a 1st ballot Hall-of-Famer and will be go down as one of the greatest athletes to ever play the sport of basketball.

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Brooklyn Nets: Tyler Johnson In, Theo Pinson Out

Tyler Johnson, Brooklyn Nets

Late last night, the Brooklyn Nets made one of the first big moves of pre-Orlando free agency by signing veteran Tyler Johnson. The 28-year-old guard, who has played for the Heat and the Suns in his 7 year career, will continue his journey as a key player in the rotation for the Nets. Johnson was having a down year for the Suns before play was suspended, averaging only 5.7 points in limited playing time, but Net’s fans hope he’s able to capture some of the same magic he had early in his career with the Heat.

Nets Have Had their Eye on Tyler Johnson for a While

This isn’t the first time the Nets showed interest in Johnson. Back in 2016, the Nets had put out a $50 million offer sheet for Johnson, that was matched by the Miami Heat. Now a guard has been added to the mix, general manager Sean Marks has a decision to make on Chris Chiozza. Chiozza gave the Nets some great minutes down the stretch as a backup option to Spencer Dinwiddie but is currently a free agent. He is not guaranteed a spot on the roster but many Nets fans feel bringing Chiozza back would be in the team’s best interest, especially with Kyrie Irving sidelined until next season.

With Tyler Johnson coming in, the Nets also decided to permanently waive fan-favorite Theo Pinson. What Pinson lacked in on-court production he made up as a motivator on the bench. Whether it was celebrating big baskets by dancing on the sidelines or constantly hyping up teammates after significant plays, Pinson helped create the culture in Brooklyn that helped propel the team to a playoff run last year and made the team attractive enough for two of the biggest superstars in the league to want to play here. Every great team needs a hype man and Pinson for the last few years was that guy.

Unfortunately in attempting to build a championship roster, Marks has had to make certain sacrifices along the way. In cutting Pinson, allowing David Nwaba (another fan favorite) to sign a two year deal with the Rockets, and trading away the Net’s best player from a year ago in D’Angelo Russell, Marks has shown he’s willing to make the tough decision to take this team to the next level.

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New York Liberty host virtual Juneteenth panel, advocate for voting and speaking out

The New York Liberty hosted a panel commemorating the emancipation holiday, featuring newcomer Layshia Clarendon.

The New York Liberty aren’t letting a suspension of on-court activities prevent them from making a difference in their restored metropolitan settings.

As the nation celebrated Juneteenth, the date marking the emancipation of freed slaves in the United States, New York’s WNBA squad hosted a virtual panel entitled Freedom, Justice, Equality, and the Power of Our Vote. Liberty newcomer Layshia Clarendon was among those who sat on the panel alongside fellow Brooklyn playmaker Garrett Temple of the Nets.

Proceedings were moderated by Angela Yee, host of The Breakfast Club on Power 105.1 (WWPR-FM), and other contributors included Ladies of Hope Ministries founder Topeka K. Sam and rapper Rapsody, who introduced the Liberty’s new theme song last season.

While the Emancipation Proclamation was introduced by President Abraham Lincoln in 1863, the isolated slave state of Texas continued the practice for two more years before Union troops occupied the state at the end of the Civil War. The announcement of General Order No. 3, which freed all remaining slaves in Texas took place on June 19, 1965. Six months later, the Thirteenth Amendment to the US Constitution abolished slavery and involuntary servitude (except as punishment for a crime). New York is one of four states to recognize the day as a holiday along with Pennsylvania, Texas, and Virginia.

Clarendon remarked that there is a long way to go in terms of national equality. To ensure the changes toward that endgame, the Cal-Berkeley alumna encouraged listeners to vote.

“The system is operating by design. The system’s not broken, it’s operating exactly how it was built to operate: keep (African Americans) complacent, to not have us show up and vote, to tell us we can’t vote,” she said. “Your vote does matter, and we need you to participate within the framework we have…we have to do what we have to do in the moment we have until we get to the point where we can recreate the structures to a point where we want them to be.”

“People fought and died, so many folks before us didn’t have a chance to vote,” she continued. “I will never not vote because of the people who fought for me to show up and vote.”

Clarendon, 29, is set to partake in her first season with the Liberty if and when the 2020 campaign commences. She has already been one of the WNBA’s most active off-court voices in terms of social issues and causes and shows no signs of relenting if an on-court platform will be granted.

“(The WNBA is full of) the people who have been doing this work the whole time,” she said. “What’s really cool about our league it that it’s authentic to who we are. Every player in our league has some type of passion that they want to speak out about, something that they care about and is doing in their community.”

Having announced a plan of return last week, the WNBA declared that any potential would be dedicated to promoting social justice. Clarendon believes that such a return can be a “unique opportunity” to spread their message further and dispel the notion that athletes must supposedly stick to sports.

“It’s interesting that we have this moment to come back now and I think that it’s really unique that all eyes are looking for sports to return,” she said. “Are you going to be engaging with us all the work that we’ve done? I think that we have an opportunity.”

“I’m making sure that you cannot make this just about sports, just about basketball because we refuse to just be the Black bodies that entertain you.”

Clarendon will return to the Liberty’s virtual channels this week, as the team hosts several further virtual panels centered on LGBT+ issues. She is set to take over the Liberty’s Instagram Live account on Monday before joining teammate Amanda Zahui B and chief operating officer Keia Clarke for an activism-centered discussion on Tuesday. Further details can be found here.

Geoff Magliocchetti is on Twitter @GeoffJMags