John Paxson wants to get Bulls on same page in wake of protests
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After a weekend in which sports and politics were intertwined because of comments made by President Donald Trump about players protesting at games, NBA voices were loud and clear Monday, with LeBron James even referring to the president as “U bum’’ in a tweet.
Bulls vice president of basketball operations John Paxson was asked if his team would steer clear of protests during the national anthem this season. He promised a “resolution” but said he didn’t know what that would mean for the Bulls. Paxson said they still were gathering information so they can be on the same page.
“This is the first time we’ve been together, but we addressed it briefly with the team earlier [Monday],’’ Paxson said. “It is something we are going to talk about again and come to some agreement on what to do. I’ll leave it at that.
“We understand the magnitude of what’s going on, how divisive things are right now. The great thing about sports is how it can bring people together. That’s what I think you’re going to see happen more and more now because of what’s going on. But we absolutely have every intention of addressing this further with our team and coming up with some resolution.’’
The key for Paxson is ensuring that whichever way they go as an organization, they go together.
“We’re going to come to a consensus as a group,’’ Paxson said. “I want to get in the room, [coach] Fred [Hoiberg] does, [general manager] Gar [Forman] does with the players, and we want to hear them out before we address it publicly.’’
Not that several of Paxson’s players were against making their feelings made public sooner than later.
“Regardless, like Pax said, we’re going to do it as a team, we’re going to do it united,’’ guard Zach LaVine said. “Some of [the president’s] comments he’s made and the things he’s done, [he’s] trying to divide us. We’re not for that.
“We’re going to do that as a team. We have a voice, we’re going to make it heard. Regardless, at the end of the day, this is about basketball. But sometimes it gets bigger than that. So we need to make a stand sometimes on things we do. When that point comes, we’re going to talk about it as a team.’’
LaVine, 22, said the worst thing a player can do is stay silent, and that includes the young players around the league such as himself and many of his new teammates.
“Because there are things that are going on in our community, and I think we all have a voice in that,’’ LaVine said. “If we’re not the biggest role models in our community, we might not be LeBron James or Steph Curry, but in the community we’re voices that can be heard and people can look up to, and that means a lot to people.’’
Second-year point guard Kris Dunn already seemed to have his mind made up about the anthem.
“For me, my whole life I’ve been standing for the flag,’’ Dunn said. “I have a friend in the Army, and I take it seriously and what he is doing for the country is unbelievable. So I don’t have what’s the right answer for that question, but for my belief I’m going to keep standing and I’m going to keep doing it for my friend who is in Afghanistan right now.’’
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