D’Angelo Russell Rumors: Suns’ Devin Booker Campaigned; Latest on Lakers Reunion

Brooklyn Nets' D'Angelo Russell looks on during the first half in Game 5 of a first-round NBA basketball playoff series against the Philadelphia 76ers, Tuesday, April 23, 2019, in Philadelphia. The 76ers won 122-100. (AP Photo/Chris Szagola)

Chris Szagola/Associated Press

The future of restricted free agent D’Angelo Russell likely hinges on the futures of Kyrie Irving and Kevin Durant. If the pair choose to sign with the Brooklyn Nets, Russell will have a new home next season.

But where?

One possibility, according to ESPN.com’s Zach Lowe, is Phoenix:

“The Suns will sign a veteran point guard, and Devin Booker has campaigned for Russell—a close friend. But other voices within the Suns may not share Booker’s unabashed enthusiasm, sources say. They have only about $14 million or so in cap space as of now. We’ll see how Phoenix approaches the point guard market.”

Other possibilities are the Los Angeles Lakers and New York Knicks, though both seem like long shots, per Lowe: “There is at least a kernel of truth to the Lakers’ interest in a reunion, sources say, but L.A. has a lot to sort out. Russell fits the Knicks’ timeline in case they strike out on bigger fish, but all indications are that New York will pursue short-term deals in that scenario, sources say.”

A Lakers reunion would be quite the 180-degree turn. The team traded Russell after he famously lost the trust of the locker room. That said, former team president Magic Johnson would bring him back if he was still with the Lakers, per Bill Oram of The Athletic:

“The very man who deemed Russell unfit for the Lakers would welcome a return.

“‘He’s better now,’ Johnson told The Athletic on Monday night, tapping his right temple with an index finger as he stood in a parking lot outside the NBA Awards at the Santa Monica Airport. ‘He’s a different player. He’s more mature.’”


This article will be updated to provide more information on this story as it becomes available.

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‘The right thing to do’: Victoria’s public schools to ban mobile phones from 2020


June 25, 2019 21:56:00

Mobile phones will be banned in state primary and secondary schools during school hours in Victoria from the start of first term 2020, in a policy designed to stop cyberbullying, Education Minister James Merlino says.

Key points:

  • Phones must be kept in lockers from first to last bell
  • Education Minister James Merlino concedes the ban will not be popular but is the “right thing to do”
  • The aim is to reduce distraction in the classroom and to stamp out cyberbullying

The policy may not be universally popular, Mr Merlino said, but it was the “right thing to do”.

Phones must be kept in school lockers from first bell to last bell unless a child needs to keep a phone for medical reasons or if there is a specific instruction from the teacher that the phones are needed for a classroom activity.

“This is for all state schools, government primary and secondary schools,” Mr Merlino said.

“We can’t impose such a ban on our non-government sector [such as] Catholic and independent schools.”

Mr Merlino said teachers are constantly asking kids to put their phones away and he called the decision to ban them during school hours, including lunch and recess, “common sense”.

He said teachers want kids talking to each other in the schoolyard, not checking their phones.

“Teachers are constantly asking kids to put their phones away. This is common sense. It’s not going to [absolutely] resolve cyberbullying but it will make a big difference,” he said.

“We cannot stamp it out. It is going to occur.

“But we can take some real steps to reduce the level of bullying.”

Phones ‘enable’ cyberbullying

Asked how the ban would be policed, Mr Merlino said he would issue a ministerial order making it “absolutely clear” for schools.

He said schools embrace technology in the classroom and they want kids to be digitally literate but mobile phones “enable” cyberbullying.

The Liberal National Coalition promised to impose a ban as far back as February 2018, with former Liberal leader Matthew Guy now tweeting: “I guess policy imitation is the greatest form of flattery.”

The sentiment was echoed by Liberal MP Tim Smith who said “better late than never”.

“Let’s see what the AEU [Australian Education Union] says,” Mr Smith said on Twitter.

The initial reaction to the plan, from parents at least, has been positive with comments on the ABC Melbourne Facebook page such as “great idea, about time” to “now watch them whinge when you try to implement it”.

John Shawcroft disagreed, saying trying to ban mobile phones was like “plugging holes in the Titanic”.

“Mr Merlino will have to ban all laptops and tablets if he is going to more than pay lip service to this issue, otherwise this appears to be nothing more than a shallow stunt,” he wrote.

A number of private schools have already banned the use of phones and McKinnon Secondary School, a government school in Melbourne’s bayside has enforced a ban since last year.

Principal Pitsa Binnion believes students at the school have become more entrenched in their studies as a result.

“Our students are more focused learners in the classroom without this distraction,” she said.

“[Since the ban] we have observed improved social connections, relationships and interactions in the school during lunchtime.”














First posted

June 25, 2019 21:01:16

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Standing In A Prague Sunbeam

As regular readers know, I’m working on a book about what lessons we can learn from the experiences of those who lived under Eastern bloc communism, to help us identify and resist the soft totalitarianism quickly emerging here today. In my interviews so far, the most striking thing I’ve learned is the power of fellowship and small-group solidarity. Recently I read Sir Roger Scruton’s 2014 novel Notes From Underground, a love story set in Prague, in the final decade of Czech Communism. The narrator is Jan Reichl, a young man condemned to a marginal life because his parents had offended the regime, and Betka, the woman who draws him out of the shadows and into the world of dissidents. Scruton based the story on his extensive experience working with the Czech resistance.

In these passages, Jan describes the experience of going to a seminar held by Rudolf, a dissident professor, in his apartment. Intellectuals like Vaclav Benda held these events often, as a way of building community and keeping memory alive under repression (I wrote about this in The Benedict Option). Scruton writes in the novel:

He told me that I could join his seminar, and that they were reading the Two Studies of Masaryk by Patočka. It was one of the books that Mother had worked on, and which had been taken away from beneath her bed. I asked him how I could obtain a copy. He said it wasn’t necessary, that the relevant pages would be read aloud. And he added that there would be special seminars from time to time, with visitors from the West, who would inform us of the latest scholarship, and help us to remember.

“To remember what?” I asked.

He looked at me long and hard. “To remember what we are.”


I was made to understand that anybody who was anybody in the life of the mind had been driven from the system, and that the “parallel polis” to which Rudolf belonged was the true place of refuge, the temple where ancestral gods kept vigil over our collective soul. Moreover, he implied, just by being washed up in this way on the shore of dissidence, deprived of all weapons and without the instruments of worldly success, you showed your superior title to the life of the mind. He swept the air as he spoke, including books, furniture, a few gloomy pictures, and the enigmatic Betka in his gesture, and emphasizing the impassable gap between the hope contained in this cluttered interior and the unending nothingness outside.

In the new kind of night, Rudolf read, into which the soldier goes without purpose, lies the reality of sacrifice, and in sacrifice an awareness of freedom. My own reality as a soul, whose nature is to care, is brought home to me; in the moment of sacrifice comes an intimation of the meaning that daylight had bleached away. In that moment I break out of the prison of the everyday, and there, in life at the apex, I experience the only form of polis which we may now attain, the “solidarity of the shattered.”


He went on to compare us to those people in the ancient world whose city has been destroyed and who have been led away into slavery. No motive remains that will keep us to the path of honor and justice. We steal from each other, even what we love. We become scavengers. And when one of us shows that it need not be so, that he, for one, is prepared to make a sacrifice, there is suddenly joy and light and for a brief moment we remember what we were. And then we go back to captivity, for we have nothing else.

They were simple thoughts. But Rudolf linked them to such a wealth of philosophy and culture that I found myself shaking with desire for the path of truth and sacrifice that he described. He held my attention as the hand of eternity holds the apple of time, and I watched as the thin dust of humanity was blown across that apple and then polished away. My underground life, I saw, had been another form of selfishness and fragmentation. I had been avoiding even the fear that I should have been feeling, the fear that I saw all around me and which, had I opened my heart to it, would have saved my mother from her fate.

And this, about what it meant to Jan to be in the room with others who shared his beliefs:

Never since Dad’s death had there been guests in our apartment. I associated hospitality with the gatherings of apparatchiks, with their expensive leather coats and plump mistresses wrapped in fur. Hospitality belonged to the unapproachable world of them, where it signified not kindness or compassion but the insolence of privilege.

Yet, here before me was the vivid disproof of that: powerless people offering and receiving gifts. A new dimension of being was outlined before me in a dramatic tableau that invited me to change my life. Someone was talking next to me of a poem that ended with just those words — musíš změnit svůj život, you must change your life. The poem was by Rilke, whose Duino Elegies had found their way into Dad’s trunk, and the discussion of it spread like laughter through the gathering. I smiled at Rudolf, and then at Betka. I did not mind that the bread was stale or the cheese hard and acrid, with the texture of a toenail. That was the way we lived. I was standing in a sunbeam, and had lost all consciousness of the surrounding storm.

Discovering the integrating and inspiring power of community — that’s going to be one of the lessons I explore in the new book. What Scruton writes about here as fiction parallels what I’m learning from talking to those who lived it.

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NBA Awards Show 2019: Winners, Voting Results and Twitter Reaction

SANTA MONICA, CALIFORNIA - JUNE 24: Giannis Antetokounmpo accepts the Kia NBA Most Valuable Player award onstage during the 2019 NBA Awards presented by Kia on TNT at Barker Hangar on June 24, 2019 in Santa Monica, California. (Photo by Kevin Winter/Getty Images for Turner Sports)

Kevin Winter/Getty Images

A little over a week removed from the Toronto Raptors securing their first NBA championship, the league celebrated the best players from the 2018-19 season at Monday’s NBA Awards show.

Milwaukee Bucks star Giannis Antetokounmpo prevailed in the night’s most anticipated race, beating out James Harden and Paul George for Most Valuable Player. He’s the second player in franchise history to win MVP, joining Kareem Abdul-Jabbar.

According to Bleacher Report’s Howard Beck, Giannis took home the award in a landslide. He collected 78 first-place votes to Harden’s 23.

Antetokounmpo’s achievement capped off an event that largely went as expected. Here are the winners for the top honors:


2018-19 NBA Awards

Most Valuable Player: Giannis Antetokounmpo, Milwaukee Bucks

Defensive Player of the Year: Rudy Gobert, Utah Jazz

Rookie of the Year: Luka Doncic, Dallas Mavericks

Sixth Man of the Year: Lou Williams, Los Angeles Clippers

Most Improved Player: Pascal Siakam, Toronto Raptors

Teammate of the Year and Sportsmanship Awards: Mike Conley, Utah Jazz

Coach of the Year: Mike Budenholzer, Milwaukee Bucks

Executive of the Year: Jon Horst, Milwaukee Bucks

NBA Cares Community Assist Award: Bradley Beal, Washington Wizards

Sager Strong Award: Robin Roberts


NBA fans still fondly recall Kevin Durant‘s MVP speech from 2014 as Durant singled out his mother Wanda for praise and called her the “real MVP.”

Antetokounmpo delivered a similar moment as he grew emotional thanking his family members for helping him reach the pinnacle of the NBA.

Green Bay Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers was among those moved by the speech:

The Bucks were big winners at the NBA Awards. In addition to Antetokounmpo’s win, Mike Budenholzer was Coach of the Year and general manager Jon Horst was Executive of the Year.

In general, Monday emphasized the league’s shift to the next generation. Bobby Karalla of the Dallas Mavericks’ official site noted Utah Jazz center Rudy Gobert (26) was the oldest winner among the MVP, Defensive Player of the Year, Rookie of the Year and Most Improved Player.

Antetokounmpo only turned 24 in December, while Rookie of the Year Luka Doncic celebrated his 20th birthday in February. Those two, in particular, could lead the way for the NBA in the years ahead.

Good Morning America anchor Robin Roberts was the third recipient of the Sager Strong Award, joining Phoenix Suns head coach Monty Williams and Hall of Famer Dikembe Mutombo.

Roberts announced in 2007 she was undergoing treatment for breast cancer. Five years later, she was diagnosed with myelodysplastic syndrome, a blood and bone marrow disease. Be The Match said more than 18,000 people joined the organization’s marrow donation registry list once Roberts took her diagnosis public.

Roberts understandably stole the show.

Although individual awards often shape a player’s legacy on the hardwood, the tone of the evening was generally pretty light. That was never more true than when former Saturday Night Live cast member Jay Pharoah broke out his Shaquille O’Neal impression.

Based on Pharoah’s uncanny take on the Hall of Famer, O’Neal might be in danger of losing his job on Inside the NBA:

Washington Wizards point guard John Wall made a brief appearance to unveil the winner of the NBA Cares Community Assist Award, his Wizards teammate Bradley Beal. On the red carpet, Wall provided an update on his recovery from a ruptured Achilles.

Looking ahead to next year, another Achilles injury could indirectly have a big impact on the MVP race. Kevin Durant’s ruptured Achilles opens the door wide open for a number of teams to have genuine title aspirations. Because of that, the spotlight will be on a number of marquee stars.

After missing out on a second straight MVP, Harden will be back with a vengeance next season. Perhaps LeBron James has at least one more otherworldly campaign left in the tank. Throw in the likes of Kawhi Leonard, Nikola Jokic, Damian Lillard and Joel Embiid, and next year’s MVP ballot could be bursting at the seams.

And don’t count out Stephen Curry, as he will have to carry a large load for the Golden State Warriors as they chase their sixth consecutive Finals appearance.

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Stonewall’s ‘Gift’

Sorry for another LGBT rights post today, but someone just sent this very important Washington Post essay to me, and hey, I’ve got to do my part for Pride Month.

Let’s back up a bit, all the way back to 2004 and thereabouts. Back then, people who couldn’t understand why people like me opposed same-sex marriage were in the habit of asking, “What does my gay neighbors’ marriage have to do with me?” People like me would patiently explain the legal consequences of gay marriage across any number of areas, and also explain the lines that would have to be crossed morally, philosophically, and culturally to normalize same-sex marriage.

Nobody cared. They would reply with, “Nobody has explained what my neighbors’ gay marriage has to do with me.” It was the kind of thing that had us banging our heads against the wall, because ordinary people just did not want to hear anything that contradicted what they wanted to believe. And certainly the news media did not want to hear anything that complicated their preferred narrative.

So here we are in 2019, five years after Obergefell. Gay marriage rights are secure in law and in popular culture. In the piece, gay rights activist and author Nathaniel Frank says that an effect of the movement has been to destroy taboos on sexual expression. It begins like this:

This month’s 50th anniversary of Stonewall, the Greenwich Village uprising that launched the modern LGBT movement, was always going to be complicated. What may seem like a straightforward chance to celebrate progress actually masks a fault line that has divided our movement since its start: whether our goal is equality or liberation, a fight for the right to be treated like everyone else or the freedom to be authentically ourselves. Do we seek belonging in the world as it is (including the military, marriage and parenting) or the chance to transform the world, by throwing off repressive norms, into a place where all of us — queer and non-queer alike — can be more free?


The LGBT movement, including the push for marriage equality, has also helped upend repressive attitudes about sex, establishing nonmarital sex — and sexual behavior once thought perverse — as largely uncontroversial. (Last year, for instance, Teen Vogue posted a guide to anal sex.) Inherent in queer desire is the belief that sexual pleasure is a good in itself and need not be justified by reproductive ends, a principle enshrined in law by gay rights court decisions affirming that sex and marriage are not instruments for reproduction but expressions of individual liberty and dignity. Just as its loudest opponents feared, granting same-sex couples access to marriage has further aligned the hoary institution with sexual choice, helping sever the link between sex and diapers — at just the moment when abortion rights face their greatest test in a generation.

Stonewall’s legacy isn’t just about making queer people look more like everyone else. It’s also, perhaps more mutinously, about making everyone else look a bit more queer. The movement’s enduring celebration of difference, personal authenticity and norm-questioning has allowed straight people to recognize the closet that confines them, too — the outdated pressure to perform prescribed gender roles, inhibit certain emotions, conceal their true selves in a thousand ways — and to envision a way to step outside its walls. This is what Joe Biden was referring to when, as vice president, he thanked LGBT advocates for “freeing the soul of the American people.” It’s what Barack Obama meant when, on the day the high court handed down its marriage ruling, he said, “When all Americans are treated as equal, we are all more free.”

With marriage equality secured, the transgender and nonbinary movements found voice and visibility, crashing into inevitable backlash but also driving successful new challenges to norms and helping people transcend what some insisted were the narrow dictates of gender.


This was Stonewall’s gift to the world: the freedom to be — and express — our true selves even when we don’t conform to the norm. Our queer foremothers recognized what our nation’s founders understood: that equality and liberty are not in competition but are mutually reinforcing. It’s true that our fractious movement did not eliminate the nuclear family, or achieve radical inclusion for all, or replace marriage with a better institution (or with nothing at all); and certainly, our gains in equal treatment are fragile. Yet those gains are real and substantial and worth celebrating — and are, in their own way, revolutionary.

Emphases mine. Read the whole thing.

Understand what he’s saying here: Frank laments that the LGBT rights movement has not eliminated the nuclear family and marriage. He is glad that it has brought about Teen Vogue articles teaching teenage girls how to receive penises into their rectums. He glories in the fact that the movement is alienating an increasing number of people from their bodies, and leading them to mutilate their breasts and genitals with hormones and surgeries. And he concedes that people like me were right to say back in the day that gay marriage was going to de-nature marriage as a child-centered institution.

Frank makes clear what some of us have known for a long time: that for the last 25 years, LGBTs have been the Leninist vanguard of the Sexual Revolution. To an old-school Cassandra like me — one of the Cassandras who was mocked in the 2000s as a paranoid — this entire column reads like an I told you so, and a vindication of the Law of Merited Impossibility (“It will never happen, and when it does, you bigots will deserve it”). Not that it does a bit of good now.

Still, it’s worth reflecting that if Maggie Gallagher had published a column making the same claims in, say, 2006, the column and its author would have been denounced for fear-mongering and bigotry.

As I’ve said in this space many times, the gay marriage campaign succeeded so thoroughly and so rapidly in large part because it built on what heterosexuals had already come to believe was true about sex and marriage. Gay marriage was inevitable, because straights had already queered sex and marriage via the Sexual Revolution. Yet gay marriage was a Rubicon for our society because it took those radical shifts past the breaking point, and locked them in to law and culture. All that followed was predictable, and it was in fact predicted, not because anybody had a crystal ball, but because it made logical sense.

Once again, read this line from Nathaniel Frank:

Inherent in queer desire is the belief that sexual pleasure is a good in itself and [sex and marriage are] expressions of individual liberty and dignity.

Desire untethered from anything but individual will is a universal solvent of social bonds.

It has never been more important to affirm — and to affirm with our lives — the truth that the philosopher Sir Roger Scruton learned back in the 1980s, from a Polish Catholic woman:

And she brought home to me, then and subsequently, what is perhaps the most important truth conveyed by religion, and one that Monsignor Gilbey, incidentally, had built onto the foundations of his life — the truth that sex is either consecration or desecration, with no neutral territory between, and that nothing matters more than customs, ceremonies and rites with which we lift the body above its material need and reshape it as soul.

Contra the Stonewall dogma, sexual pleasure is not a good in itself; it is either consecration or desecration. This is the divine wisdom that is the real gift to humanity — a liberating gift that Stonewall (and other decisive battles of the Sexual Revolution) stole from us.

(In fairness, I can easily imagine that there are some married gay couples who would affirm that, and who reject the sexual nominalism and voluntarism of the gay mainstream. But those fuddies are on the fringes of the LGBT movement, just as heterosexuals who affirm the consecration-or-desecration principle are increasingly on the fringes of the mainstream of this pornified culture.)

UPDATE: As usual, a reader chimed in to say that I’m “cherry-picking” extremists to make the movement look bad. These people never, ever quit. I can’t decide if they’re being cynical, or if they really are that naive. Reader Nate J. has their number. He says, in his comment:

I keep hearing that this “fringe” stuff doesn’t “represent most people” in the movement, and yet the movement continues to advance apace, remorselessly and with less ground for dissent.

If you don’t understand that today’s fringe is tomorrow’s mainstream, you’re being obtuse. You’re not even engaging with reality. Honestly, I don’t even understand why people like you spend so much time coming here to a conservative publication, reading (maybe) Rod’s culture war stuff and insisting that what he’s seeing with his lying eyes isn’t really happening. Frankly, it’s creepy, obsessive, and weirdly defensive over issues that supposedly, as you insist, do not even exist.

What really strikes me is that the left refuses to step up and claim its total cultural victory. You’ve gotten everything. A major, national publication can run an essay by a prominent gay author pondering how to push the LGBTQRSTUV bulldozer into the final crumbling pillars of norms and decency and order, and all you can do is live in your alternate reality. I suppose when you build an entire political ideology on the victimhood of identity politics, you have to present a permanent underdog image. You cannot let the world know that you are the dominant power.

UPDATE.2: USA Today reports the result of a new Harris Poll showing that Millennials are less comfortable interacting with LGBTs. It’s a remarkable piece of advocacy journalism, in that it’s a long story (by USAT standards) that not once questions the activist organizations’ narrative. Could it be that young people are sick of being beaten over the head with constant propaganda, and told that unless they enthusiastically affirm all of it, they’re nothing but bigots? Maybe that has something to do with it?

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