Jerry Stackhouse's next goal: Help the NBPA


Jerry Stackhouse's next goal: Help the NBPA

Jerry Stackhouse is looking ahead.

Life without playing basketball has arrived for the one-time Sixer, and he already knows what that life will be: time spent securing the future for current and former NBA players.

The Brooklyn Nets swingman mentioned recently that he would likely retire after this season to focus more on his role as first vice president with the troubled NBA Players Association.

Stackhouse made his goal clear. He wants changes. He wants communication. He wants full disclosure. He wants to be informed so that the next time the players come face to face with NBA owners to discuss a new collective bargaining agreement, the players will be better equipped.

Why does he feel this way? Simple: He sat back and watched as players went clueless as to what officials inside the NBAPA were doing. The back door dealings. The lack of communication. The lack of information. The misleading.

"I've always been in tune with the union," Stackhouse told last month when the Nets visited the Sixers. "But I wasn't in tune with some of their ways of dealing with things in the past."

Some of those dealings allegedly led to the ousting of executive director Billy Hunter, who was fired unanimously by the NBA player representatives during All-Star Weekend in February.

Stackhouse wouldn't place any blame on Hunter but agreed a change was needed.

"We can easily sit here and point the finger at the executive committee that we voted on and say, 'They didn't do this or they didn't do that.' But as a whole, as a general body, our interest wasn't enough until [there] was a lockout," he said.

With Hunter relieved of his duties, players elected a new executive committee, which includes Stackhouse, former Sixers Andre Iguodala and Willie Green, James Jones, Roger Mason Jr., Chris Paul and Stephen Curry.

"The guys thought that I would be a pretty good fit to help take things in a different direction," Stackhouse said. "I was nominated and I accepted it.

"I take a lot of pride in making some decisions that can help us over these next 15 to 20 years. I think we've made a lot of mistakes over the last 10 to 15 years. We just didn't take enough interest as a body."

The 38-year-old Stackhouse mentioned the 2011 NBA lockout as the turning point. He said that lockout wasn't really a lockout because the season was not lost. Players didn't miss paychecks, but the deal, he feels, could have been better.

"Our strategy, at the particular time, wasn't the best that it could be," Stackhouse said. "We're seeing some of the results of that now, but that's why we're trying to correct it going forward. What's happened has happened, but hopefully the next time we come to the bargaining table we'll come with a little more understanding of not only what's for the best interest of the players, but the best interest of the game."

For that to happen, Stackhouse had to come to an understanding with union president Derek Fisher. Days before Hunter was outed, Stackhouse told The Detroit News, that Fisher "has to go too."

"I just think there wasn't enough, in my mind, disclosure of ideas and thoughts with the player reps, which in turn could try and get some feedback from the general body," Stackhouse said. "That's important to me -- not enough communication.

"Some of those things needed to be shared and we may not have had to go down that track."

The two have since spoken.

"I respect his decisions now that we've talked," Stackhouse said, "but at the same time I feel I probably would've handle things a little differently. And being in the position that I am now, I'll see to it [that] things will be handled differently than they were handled before."

Stackhouse said he intends to focus on retired players more than the superstars and younger players. In his mind, the LeBron Jameses, Kobe Bryants and Kevin Durants of the league will always be taken care of. The younger players, well, "They have their whole future ahead of them."

"It's a cultural shock stepping back into society after playing this game," he said. "I think we want to put some mechanisms in place to be able to educate guys, once they leave the league, how to kind of integrate themselves back into society. Some of the former players who are down or in some tough situations -- put in some programs to try and help them."

Anthem singer at Sixers-Heat game kneels during performance

Anthem singer at Sixers-Heat game kneels during performance

MIAMI — A woman performing the national anthem before an NBA preseason game in Miami on Friday night did so while kneeling at midcourt, and opening her jacket to show a shirt with the phrase "Black Lives Matter."

The singer was identified by the Heat as Denasia Lawrence. It was unclear if she remained in the arena after the performance, and messages left for her were not immediately returned.

Heat players and coaches stood side-by-side for the anthem, all with their arms linked as has been their custom during the preseason. Many had their heads down as Lawrence sang, and the team released a statement saying it had no advance knowledge that she planned to kneel.

"We felt as a basketball team that we would do something united, so that was our focus," Heat coach Erik Spoelstra said. "Throughout all of this, I think the most important thing that has come out is the very poignant, thoughtful dialogue. We've had great dialogue within our walls here and hopefully this will lead to action."

The anthem issue has been a major topic in the sports world in recent months, starting with the decision by San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick to not stand for its playing. Kaepernick cited racial injustice and police brutality among the reasons for his protest, and athletes from many sports -- and many levels, from youth all the way to professional -- have followed his lead in various ways.

"All I can say is what we've seen in multiple preseason games so far is our players standing for the national anthem," NBA Commissioner Adam Silver said in New York earlier Friday, at a news conference following the league's board of governors meetings. "It would be my hope that they would continue to stand for the national anthem. I think that is the appropriate thing to do."

The NBA has a rule calling for players and coaches to stand during the anthem.

Heat guard Wayne Ellington often speaks about the need to curb gun violence, after his father was shot and killed two years ago. He had his eyes closed for most of the anthem Friday, as per his own custom, though was aware of Lawrence's actions.

"At the end of the day, to each his own," Ellington said. "If she feels like that's the way she wants to stand for it, then more power to her."

Making a statement in the manner that Lawrence did Friday is rare, but not unheard of in recent weeks.

When the Sacramento Kings played their first home preseason game earlier this month, anthem singer Leah Tysse dropped to one knee as she finished singing the song.

Tysse is white. Lawrence is black.

"I love and honor my country as deeply as anyone yet it is my responsibility as an American to speak up against injustice as it affects my fellow Americans," Tysse wrote on Facebook. "I have sung the anthem before but this time taking a knee felt like the most patriotic thing I could do. I cannot idly stand by as black people are unlawfully profiled, harassed and killed by our law enforcement over and over and without a drop of accountability."

Joel Embiid ends preseason on impressive note, has Sixers excited

Joel Embiid ends preseason on impressive note, has Sixers excited

MIAMI — It’s a cautious optimism to be sure — there can be no other type for the Sixers right now given their history of injuries — but you can tell the team is starting to get excited about Joel Embiid.

In Friday’s 113-110 exhibition finale win over the Miami Heat (see game story), Embiid scored 18 points in 18 minutes before fouling out late in the fourth quarter.

The 7-0 center, who missed his first two NBA seasons because of foot surgeries, made 8 of 16 shots and 2 of 2 on free throws, adding a game-high nine rebounds.

“I’ve always felt like I’m a complete player — that’s what I do,” Embiid said. “I’m starting to get easy points.

“I just got better every game [in the preseason], defensively, offensively.”

Sixers coach Brett Brown said he is still learning how to best use Embiid.

Brown added that the rust is apparent in Embiid’s game. But …

“He is as self-taught as any player I’ve ever been around,” Brown said. “He grew up in Cameroon and hasn’t played a lot (because of injuries). But he studies, he looks at stuff. He pays attention. He’s instinctively curious.

“There’s a lot of stuff in his head that he thinks through. His mind is quicker than his feet. At times, his core, his balance and his decision-making are off because his mind is working faster than his body.”

Embiid scored most of his buckets on Friday at close range — a finger roll, a tip-in, a couple of put-back dunks, an alley-oop dunk and a fast-break layup. But he did make a 10-foot jumper and took — but missed — a three-point try.

“He does stuff in a game that makes you step back and say, ‘Wow,’” Brown said. “He will trail and hit a three. He will have a pound, pound drop-step, dunk.

“Like a traditional post, he will turn his face and make a bank shot. He has that up-and-under stuff.

“But he’s raw. His preseason has been highlighted by those few things that you notice, all under the umbrella of, ‘He really has a chance to be very, very good.’"

Brown was asked to summarize the Sixers' 2-5 preseason, and he called it a “completely erratic” exhibition season because of injuries.

“Jahlil [Okafor] hasn’t practiced,” Brown said. “Joel has been steady and incremental. I think we all see that Dario Saric has got a lot to offer. I think the pairing of Joel and Dario was solid.

“We’ve seen Jerami [Grant] have a really good preseason. Richaun Holmes has taken his opportunity to play big minutes. Those type of things come to my mind.”