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Shoe choice can be political for today’s athletes

Stephen Curry reaction to his team's 109-106 loss vs Kings

Stephen Curry reaction to his team's 109-106 loss vs Kings.
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Stephen Curry reaction to his team's 109-106 loss vs Kings.

Like it or not, sports and politics are intertwined.

Escaping from reality through sports is harder than ever. After Colin Kaepernick’s national anthem protests dominated the news last year, Golden State star Stephen Curry recently expressed his feelings about President Donald Trump after Under Armour CEO Kevin Plank called Trump an “asset” to the country.

“I agree with that description,” Curry told the Mercury News of San Jose, “if you remove the ‘et’ from ‘asset.’ 

I think athletes are a little bit more outspoken about what they believe nowadays. I think back in the day athletes and entertainers shied away from it a lot more to be politically correct, to be more marketable and all that stuff. Nowadays, I think guys aren’t afraid to say what they want to say, say what they feel like they need to say.

Anthony Tolliver, Kings forward

In a statement, Plank clarified he was referring to Trump’s potential to help the business world and added he was not aligning himself with the president’s more controversial stances, such as his attempt to ban travel from seven predominantly Muslim countries to the United States.

Curry, Under Armour’s top basketball client, sent a clear message: He does not want to associate with a company with beliefs contrary to his, and corporations probably should take note.

Athletes have lost endorsement deals when a company deems their actions inconsistent with its values. Likewise, athletes can cut ties with a company over philosophical differences.

“I think athletes are a little bit more outspoken about what they believe nowadays,” said Kings forward Anthony Tolliver, an Under Armour endorser. “I think back in the day athletes and entertainers shied away from it a lot more to be politically correct, to be more marketable and all that stuff. Nowadays, I think guys aren’t afraid to say what they want to say, say what they feel like they need to say.”

Curry is in a powerful position with Under Armour, which lacks Nike’s impressive clientele.

Still, it’s difficult for athletes to terminate a relationship with a company.

“You have contracts and most likely you’re going to honor that contract and do what you’ve got to do, as long as it doesn’t get too ridiculous,” Tolliver said. “If a guy wants to support somebody, that’s his opinion. It’s not going to change how I feel about whoever. But at the end of the day, I’m just going to go out there and continue to do what I do. I’m with Under Armour right now, so that’s whose shoes I’m wearing. Unless it becomes something crazier, I’m going to honor my contract and do what I’ve go to do.”

The This Can’t Be Life Award

Players feuding with their former team isn’t new, but we haven’t seen anything quite like the Charles Oakley fiasco in New York.

On Wednesday, Oakley was removed from Madison Square Garden in handcuffs, and the Knicks’ public relations department issued a statement hoping he “gets some help soon” and accusing him of behaving in a “completely abusive manner.” Knicks owner James Dolan banned Oakley from the Garden.

You have contracts and most likely you’re going to honor that contract and do what you’ve got to do, as long as it doesn’t get too ridiculous. If a guy wants to support somebody, that’s his opinion. It’s not going to change how I feel about whoever. But at the end of the day, I’m just going to go out there and continue to do what I do.

Anthony Tolliver, Kings forward

With the Knicks struggling, Dolan is losing the public relations battle even more. And team president Phil Jackson is taking shots at his star player, Carmelo Anthony, on Twitter. (Jackson later said his tweet about Anthony was misunderstood.)

One of the NBA’s marquee franchises continues to make headlines for the wrong reasons.

Former NBA star Charles Oakley gets into a scuffle with security and is subsequently arrested during a New York Knicks game at Madison Square Garden on Wednesday. Oakley, known for his physical style of play that made him an All-Star and helped th

The Keeping it Way too Real Award

“Working to call the shots, because it only works that way. Right now I’m advising. I get that. But at the end of the day, then we all got to come together and somebody’s got to say, ‘I’m making the final call,’ all right? And who’s that going to be?”

– Lakers legend Magic Johnson to USA Today when asked how he envisioned his eventual role after rejoining the franchise as an adviser.

Jason Jones: @mr_jasonjones, read more about the team at sacbee.com/kings.

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