This gesture caused Tony Parker lots of backlash. Photo by forward.com.San Antonio Spurs star guard Tony Parker issued a long statement apologizing for making a perceived anti-Semitic gesture in old published photographs with French comedian Dieudonne M’bala M’bala.On Sunday, the photos were published by media outlets in France.A similar photo has also been published of Spur teammate and Frenchman, Boris Diaw, with the comedian/activist.In the pictures, Parker and Diaw are seen doing what is known as the “quenelle,” which has become a symbol of anti-Semitism in that country. Parker said, in part, in his statement: “While this gesture has been part of French culture for many years, it was not until recently that I learned of the very negative concerns associated with it. When l was photographed making that gesture three years ago, I thought it was part of a comedy act and did not know that it could be in any way offensive or harmful.”“Since I have been made aware of the seriousness of this gesture, I will certainly never repeat the gesture and sincerely apologize for any misunderstanding or harm relating to my actions. Hopefully this incident will serve to educate others that we need to be more aware that things that may seem innocuous can actually have a history of hate and hurt.”The league office confirmed Monday night that it is reviewing the matter.The controversy involving Parker and Diaw comes after French soccer player Nicolas Anelka displayed the quenelle following a goal he scored Saturday for his English Premier League team, West Bromwich Albion, in a match against West Ham United. Anelka, who has a history of being involved in various controversies, later said the gesture was meant as a salute to his friend, the comedian known just as Dieudonne.The quenelle, which is performed by holding one arm straight by one’s side while touching that arm’s shoulder with the opposite hand, has been called a reverse Nazi salute. It has been popularized by Dieudonne, who is a well-known actor, comedian and political figure in France.Dieudonne has said the gesture is a symbol of defiance. In France, anti-Semitic symbols and speech are banned, and Dieudonne has been convicted of such speech in the past. In the wake of Anelka’s actions, France’s interior minister, Manuel Valls, has said he will seek to ban Dieudonne from performing in public over safety concerns.
Several months ago, Hot Takedown crowdsourced ideas from listeners about how to change the draft to stop teams from tanking. After we sent him the winning idea, Silver wrote that there is a “growing consensus that we should reform the draft lottery.” But on this week’s Hot Takedown he said that after team owners voted down a proposal for change last year, the league has decided to “park the issue” for the foreseeable future.Silver argued that the marketplace is providing the biggest pressure on teams like Philadelphia, which he said are realizing that “losing comes at an enormous cost.” Silver sees a “resetting of sorts” with the team. And he denied that he intervened and asked the Sixers to install Jerry Colangelo as special advisor.Watch a video excerpt and stream the full audio of the interview above. We’ve also provided a lightly edited transcription of the highlights below. This interview was conducted Friday, Dec. 18.Silver not a fan of Sixers strategyNeil Paine: Are you personally, as the commissioner, OK with the way that the 76ers have run their franchise the past three seasons?Adam Silver: I don’t want to answer that directly. As I said, there’s a marketplace of ideas and approaches that go into managing a franchise.Am I fan of that strategy? Put it this way: No. But does that mean that it’s not acceptable under the league rules? It doesn’t. Hot Takedown More: Apple Podcasts | ESPN App | RSS If you’re a fan of our podcasts, be sure to subscribe on Apple Podcasts and leave a rating/review. That helps spread the word to other listeners. And get in touch by email, on Twitter or in the comments. Tell us what you think, send us hot takes to discuss and tell us why we’re wrong. The Sixers are a mess, and Adam Silver is not happy. The NBA commissioner joined our sports podcast, Hot Takedown, for a conversation about the structure of the draft, the perverse incentives that it creates and how his office can try to “cajole” teams like the Philadelphia 76ers into being more competitive. But he admitted that ultimately, he may not be able to reset the competitive balance of the league by tweaking the draft rules. The Sixers are “resetting”Adam Silver: There’s a resetting of sorts going on with the 76ers right now. And I think that ultimately may speak louder in the marketplace of teams than any tinkering we do to the draft lottery.Is it time to step in and stop tanking?Chadwick Matlin: I’m interested about when you do step in as a commissioner. You’re basically the CEO of a big multibillion-dollar corporation. At what point is it your responsibility to intervene if one of your franchises is not performing in a way that represents the league?Adam Silver: Well, I would say that there’s lots of different ways of so-called “stepping in.” There’s also cajoling and ongoing conversations that I have with owners, with team presidents, with general managers, where I’m expressing my opinion. Truth to rumors that he intervened with Sixers?Chadwick Matlin: Anonymous reports suggested that [you stepped in and pushed for the hiring of Jerry Colangelo] due to owners who wanted the situation in Philadelphia changed. Are those reports correct?Adam Silver: Those reports are not correct. Josh Harris, who’s the principal owner of the 76ers, decided on his own that he needed to change course. He and I had many conversations along the way about the utility of the strategy that he was following. And he came to the conclusion once this season began, and he saw how his team was performing on the floor, that he needed to change his strategy.Other owners were not pressuring him at all. In fact, it’s a weird dynamic in the league that while all the owners would like to see teams well operated, other owners just want to win (laughter). And so nobody was calling me and saying go call the 76ers and tell them how to beat us.
After dropping two of three games to Michigan State last weekend, the Ohio State baseball team (18-8, 4-2 Big Ten) is hoping to get back on track for its third Big Ten weekend series as it travels to face Minnesota. OSU coach Greg Beals is hoping his team can bounce back from last weekend’s series. “We had an opportunity to take the Michigan State series and it’s disappointing we blew it,” Beals said. “Good thing is, we have games this week to get back to winning.” OSU has been trying to work on its winning mindset for a few weeks. “It’s just the mentality of all eight innings, man,” said senior shortstop Kirby Pellant. “The pitching has been there all year and the defense has been there all year and finally the bats are starting to come around.” The Buckeyes beat Youngstown State Tuesday night in Columbus in a 3-0 shutout and took down Miami (Ohio) in a 1-0 shutout Wednesday night. Beals said this week’s games were important for the Buckeyes in preparing for more conference play. “The week games get our guys a lot of at-bats,” Beals said. “They help position players get in the groove and they allow our pitchers to get extended innings.” The Minnesota Golden Gophers are 17-12 and 2-1 in Big Ten play on the year. Minnesota redshirt junior infielder Dan Olinger is a guy to keep an eye on for the Golden Gophers, batting .314 with 14 RBIs and a .984 fielding percentage. Junior pitcher Tom Windle has 1.44 ERA with 45 strikeouts and a 4-2 record in 50 innings pitched. Windle has been named Big Ten Pitcher of the Week twice this season. Minnesota will be opening the brand new Siebert Field for this series, having played its previous home games at the Metrodome. An OSU series win brings the team that much closer to capturing the conference title. While it’s still early in the season for talk of the Big Ten Championship, it has been on some of the players’ minds for weeks. “When I was a true freshman, that was the last time we won the Big Ten Championship, so I know what that feels like,” said OSU redshirt senior outfielder Joe Ciamacco. “I’m putting everything out there for the team this year. I want us to win this season. I want to bring back the winning tradition to Ohio State. We haven’t had it here in a while.” OSU is set to take the field against the Golden Gophers at 4:05 p.m. Friday at Siebert Field in Minneapolis.
Thad Matta stands on the sidelines during a game against Minnesota. OSU won, 64-46.Credit: Ritika Shah / Asst. photo editorAn early season menace is set to rear its head again for the Ohio State Buckeyes.Just less than a month ago, Penn State — led by redshirt-junior guard D.J. Newbill and his 25 points — came to Columbus and ripped OSU’s heart out, defeating the Buckeyes, 71-70, in overtime.In the 10 seasons that coach Thad Matta has been at the helm of the men’s basketball program, it was the first time the Buckeyes lost to the Nittany Lions, and it came six days after they beat Illinois to snap a four-game skid.“Top 25 teams at home don’t lose these games,” senior guard Lenzelle Smith Jr. said after the loss Jan. 29. “And we lost.”Since the rock-bottom feeling of losing their fifth game out of seven during January, the Buckeyes have been on a tear this month, notching six wins and only losing once.“I think we’re a different team. We learned from that loss, we know that we didn’t come out with the intensity and the toughness we needed to win,” junior forward Sam Thompson said Wednesday. “We allowed them to push us around a little bit on our home floor. We allowed them to go into a rhythm on both ends of the floor and really dictate the way that game was played.”Following the loss to the Nittany Lions, Thompson was inserted into the starting lineup, a move that has proved to be beneficial, as he has averaged 8.1 points per game to up his season average to 7.5.It appears as if the Buckeyes are playing with an added motivation lately as well, as they continue to make a push for one of the top four seeds in the Big Ten Tournament and the first-round bye that comes with it. A strong finish to the season will aid OSU’s case for a high seed in the NCAA Tournament as well.“The rest of the season is definitely desperation for us, especially wanting to get a high seed in the NCAA Tournament. With the way the Big Ten’s going, a lot of teams have been losing — that’s a great thing for us so we can move up,” junior forward LaQuinton Ross said Wednesday. “I think the rest of the season, everybody in the locker room knows what’s at stake.”That starts Thursday in State College, Pa., as No. 22 OSU looks to stay hot as it is set to take on Penn State (13-14, 4-10, tied for last in the Big Ten) at 7 p.m.“It’s amazing when you go back and look at where we were at (against Penn State) and kind of the level that we’ve been playing at. We put ourselves in a really good position, but just could not make the plays,” Matta said Tuesday. “I think we’re showing signs of getting a lot better.”Newbill carried the Nittany Lions down the stretch in round one against the Buckeyes (22-6, 9-6, fourth in the Big Ten), scoring their last six points in regulation and then four in overtime. Matta said in order to prevent that from happening this time around, it has to be a team effort.“He can get you in so many different ways. So I think from the standpoint, it does take everyone on the floor doing their part,” Matta said. “If one guy rotates, then we gotta help the helper. It’s definitely a team effort to guard a guy like that.”Thompson said although he made some big plays last month in Columbus, Newbill’s late game heroics were also a product of mental errors by OSU.“Not taking anything away from him, he hit some big shots, but the shot at the end of regulation, that’s a messed up switch on our part on a guard-to-guard dribble hand off,” Thompson said. “We usually switch those, we didn’t switch that and Newbill got a wide-open look.”Matta said those mental errors have since been corrected.“I think that there’s more accountability, in terms of the respect they have to have to do the job,” Matta said. “In that game … there was a lot of things that happened that maybe we could have controlled better that we didn’t do, so yeah, you look back at those and say, ‘This can’t happen again.’”OSU used a giant second half Saturday to take down Minnesota, 64-46, and Thompson helped the team to get trending in the right direction.“I like where we are as a team right now. I think that we’re peaking at the right time. Offensively we have a certain swagger about us, defensively we’re really turning it up, so we’re playing some of the best defensive basketball that we’ve played,” Thompson said. “Individually, you have guys getting into rhythms, really contributing for this team. So I like where we are right now. Like we’ve always said, we have a veteran basketball team, so everyone has been here before and we’re looking to make a run.”