Athletics

Curry to compete in NBA All-Star skills challenge

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Curry to compete in NBA All-Star skills challenge

Feb. 17, 2011
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NEW YORK -- Stephen Curry of the Golden State Warriors, Derrick Rose of the Chicago Bulls, John Wall of the Washington Wizards and Russell Westbrook of the Oklahoma City Thunder were selected by fans to compete against Chris Paul of the New Orleans Hornets in the 2011Taco Bell Skills Challenge on Feb. 19, at Staples Center in Los Angeles.For the first time, the NBA and Taco Bell gave fans the opportunity to determine participants in the Taco Bell Skills Challenge as part of the Choose Your Squad program. From Jan. 27 through Feb. 15, fans could choose their squad of four players out of eight candidates online atNBA.comchooseyoursquad. Along with the four players chosen to compete, fans also had the opportunity to vote for Baron Davis of the Los Angeles Clippers, Tyreke Evans of the Sacramento Kings, Derek Fisher of the Los Angeles Lakers and Tony Parker of the San Antonio Spurs. Curry, who leads the NBA in free throw shooting percentage (.941), has followed up a solid rookie campaign by pacing the Warriors in assists with 6.0 apg while also contributing 18.4 ppg; Curry also is participating in the 2011 T-Mobile Rookie Challenge & Youth Jam.
Rose, who was voted to start for the Eastern Conference in the 2011 NBA All-Star Game, is the only player in the league to rank in the top 10 in both scoring (8th, 24.5 ppg) and assists (9th, 8.2 apg). Wall, the overall top selection in the 2010 NBA Draft, ranks seventh overall in assists (8.9 ppg) and is second among rookies in scoring (15.0 ppg); Wall also is participating in the 2011 T-Mobile Rookie Challenge & Youth Jam. A first-time All-Star, Westbrook is the only player in the NBA averaging at least 22.0 points, 8.0 assists and 5.0 rebounds.A four-time All-Star, who was voted to start for the Western Conference in the 2011 NBA All-Star Game, Paul paces the league in steals (2.47 spg) while ranking fourth in assists (9.6 apg). Paul is the only player with at least 7,500 points, 3,900 assists and 950 steals through 400 games.This years event includes a new charitable element in partnership with NBA Cares and Boys & Girls Clubs of America that will support the Taco Bell Foundation for Teens Graduate To Go initiative, a national initiative to help teens graduate from high school through real-world experiences. Each of the five participants will be paired with a teen member of Boys & Girls Club of Southern California. The teen paired with the event winner will receive a 30,000 college scholarship, while the other students will each receive an educational scholarship, all courtesy of the Taco Bell Foundation for Teens. Each Graduate to Go scholar was carefully selected from applications received through the Boys & Girls Clubs in the Southern California area, based on their outstanding leadership qualities and inspiration to their peers both in and out of school.Congratulations to the players and the Graduate to Go teens taking part in the Taco Bell Skills Challenge on Saturday. We are honored to partner with NBA Cares to give these deserving Boys & Girls Club teens this opportunity of a lifetime, said Greg Creed, President of Taco Bell and Chairman of the Taco Bell Foundation for Teens. Experiences like this have the power to inspire teens to stay committed to their high school degree and dream big.TheTaco Bell Skills Challenge was introduced at NBA All-Star 2003 in Atlanta and features five players competing in a two-round timed obstacle course consisting of dribbling, passing and shooting stations. All players must observe basic NBA ball-handling rules while completing the course. The two players with the fastest times from the first round advance to the finals with the order of competition determined by inverse order of the first round times. At the discretion of the referee, television instant replay may be consulted for clarification of rules compliance.In addition to adding a fan vote and the new charitable element, this years Taco Bell Skills Challenge will feature an expanded field from four to five participants. Last year in Dallas, Steve Nash finished with a winning time of 29.9 seconds, joining the Miami Heats Dwyane Wade (2006 and 2007) as the only other two-time winner in Taco Bell Skills Challenge history. The Taco Bell Skills Challenge will be televised live nationally as part of the NBA All-Star Saturday Night presented by State Farm, which will also feature the Haier Shooting Stars, Foot Locker Three-Point Contest and Sprite Slam Dunk. TNT and ESPN Radios national coverage will begin at 8 p.m. EST from STAPLES Center in Los Angeles. The 60th NBA All-Star Game on Sunday, Feb. 20, will air live on TNT and ESPN Radio, and in more than 200 countries in more than 40 languages.
Courtesy NBA Media services

Bruce Maxwell: Kneeling for anthem not 'disrespecting my country or my flag'

Bruce Maxwell: Kneeling for anthem not 'disrespecting my country or my flag'

OAKLAND — Bruce Maxwell’s gesture to take a knee during the national anthem Saturday night at the Coliseum was no knee-jerk reaction by the A’s catcher.

It was something he’s considered for a long time, balancing his own personal convictions to make a statement with how it might affect his teammates and organization.

Think it was bold of Maxwell to become the first player in baseball to kneel during the anthem, in protest of racial discrimination and the inflammatory remarks of President Trump? It took just as much guts to stand before his teammates, manager Bob Melvin and GM David Forst and explain why he felt he needed to do it.

He did so in a pregame meeting Saturday that made for a degree of discomfort in the room, but also seemed to have played out in a healthy way.

“I didn’t want them to sugarcoat or aid me when it comes to the media and their personal feelings,” Maxwell said, “because the whole point of this is the ability to protest (based on) our personal beliefs and our personal choices.”

Many athletes have been critical of the President, with things intensifying across the sports landscape Saturday after Trump, among other things, withdrew an invitation for the Warriors to visit the White House and harshly criticized athletes who have knelt during the anthem, saying they should be booted off their teams.

After blasting Trump on both Instagram and Twitter, Maxwell took the field for the anthem and took the action that will define him in the eyes of the baseball world. Maxwell had been wanting to make a statement in some way. He said he and his sister dealt with racial discrimination growing up. Watching Trump’s rally play out in his hometown of Huntsville, Ala. on Friday further persuaded Maxwell to finally do so.

“This goes beyond the black community, it goes beyond the Hispanic community, because right now we’re having … a racial divide in all types of people,” said Maxwell, who is African American. “It’s being practiced from the highest power we have in this country and it’s basically saying it’s OK to treat people differently. And my kneeling, the way I did it, was to symbolize the fact that I’m kneeling for a cause. But I’m in no way or form disrespecting my country or my flag.”

A’s outfielder Mark Canha stood next to Maxwell during the anthem with his hand on Maxwell’s shoulder, a show of support. Canha said he’s considered kneeling before in protest himself but had chosen not to. As he listened to Maxwell address the team, Canha wasn’t going to let his teammate make his statement on his own.

“I could tell he was getting kind of choked up and emotional about his beliefs and how he feels about the racial discrimination that’s going on in this country right now,” Canha said. “I felt like every fiber of my being was telling me that he needed a brother today.”

Canha added that he sensed some “discomfort” in the room as Maxwell addressed the team. But he also said there was support.

“It was an open forum to ask him questions. It was as articulate as I’ve seen him,” A’s manager Bob Melvin said. “This wasn’t an emotional thing just today for him. … I think he handled it really well and everybody was comfortable after the session. I’m proud of him for the fact he went about it the way he did.”

Maxwell, who was born in Germany while his father served in the Army over there, said he will continue to kneel for the anthem. He doesn’t expect his teammates to do the same, only to stick to what they believe in.

“I have plenty of family members, including my father, who have bled for this country,” Maxwell said. “At the end of the day, this the best country on the planet. My hand over my heart symbolized that I am, and will forever be, an American citizen. But my kneeling is what’s getting the attention because I’m kneeling for the people that don't have a voice.”

Madison Bumgarner, Gorkys Hernandez make statements in win over Dodgers

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Madison Bumgarner, Gorkys Hernandez make statements in win over Dodgers

LOS ANGELES — A 2-1 victory Saturday night at Dodger Stadium all but assured that the Giants will not lose 100 games. They still could, sure, because any sort of downslide is possible in this 2017 season, but they would really have to finish with some sort of ugly stretch. 

Still, it’s been a long season, so it was no surprise when Madison Bumgarner admitted to some sleepless nights since Opening Day. As for Saturday night …

“It’s going to be much easier to go to sleep tonight, because we won,” Bumgarner said.

The big lefty did the heavy lifting, throwing 7 2/3 dominant innings and offering one more reminder that his shoulder is 100 percent fine after a season-halting dirt bike accident. Bumgarner topped out at 93.5 mph, and even though Bruce Bochy thought Dodger Stadium might have had a hot gun on this night, the swings told the story of a good fastball. Bumgarner said this was as good as he has felt in a while. 

“He did look strong,” Bochy said. “He did have really good stuff tonight. It was really crisp.”

It was the kind of night that reminds you that, for all their issues, the Giants will start 2018 with a leg up on many others. They have Madison Bumgarner and you don’t, and that should lead to plenty of good over the course of 32 or 33 starts. 

“I think it’s good for the club to know, hey, he’s back,” Bochy said. “This is the kind of ball we can play.”

It was the brand Bochy appreciates: A strong start, a good bullpen, strong defense, and just enough offense. That’s how the Giants will win in 2018, if they are to do so, which bodes well for the man at the center of Saturday’s offense. The Giants plan to move Denard Span to left field and acquire a new center fielder, but they still lack depth in the organization, and Gorkys Hernandez has made it clear he would like to stick around. He had three hits — including two doubles — and a walk, scoring both Giants runs. 

After a slow start that almost got him released, Hernandez took off over the summer, providing a high average and sparkling defense at three spots. A left wrist tendon issue has slowed him in September, but he surprised the staff by being available for the final two weeks of games, and he said he’ll play through the end of the year before considering any rehab options 

“He certainly has made a statement,” Bochy said. “He’s one of our better athletes. He can play anywhere in the outfield, and what’s impressive is how he’s come on with the bat. A kid like this that plays defense the way he can, and shows he can do some things with the bat, he’s in the mix.”

Hernandez said he loves playing in San Francisco. He intends to spend his offseason getting healthy at his home in Scottsdale before competing for an outfield job. 

“Every time Bochy puts me in the lineup I’m trying to show everyone that I can be here and that I can be part of this team for a long time,” he said.