Diehlman at Halftime: An NBA Weekly Column

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The NBA received some breaking news this week as Robert Sarver, the owner of the Phoenix Suns, has been accused by over 70 current and former employees of racism, misogyny and leading a toxic work environment. 

Although his legal team has denied these accusations, the claims do not seem like something that appeared out of thin air. I won’t go into the specifics of the case, but may I suggest reading the exposé written by ESPN Senior Writer Baxter Holmes.

If you’re thinking that this might sound familiar, it should. Donald Sterling was the owner of the L.A. Clippers until 2014. NBA Commissioner Adam Silver banned him for life after recordings were found of Sterling making racist comments. Sterling was then forced to sell the team to former Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer.

The investigation into Sarver is ongoing. However, it’s still unbelievable that there are people who treat employees like this. Players and organization members alike put in a lot of hard work. Disrespecting even one person is wrong. The Suns, and every other team in the league for that matter, don’t deserve this abusive treatment. What a mess.

So, who’s raising eyebrows at the moment?

Highlight, Lowlight, Random Stat

Highlight

The Philadelphia 76ers are pretty nice right now. They’re sitting at 8-4 in fourth place in the Eastern Conference. (Frankly, the 76ers would be 9-3 if they hadn’t choked against the Nets).

Doc Rivers accomplished 1,000 wins on Saturday, Nov. 6, by beating the Chicago Bulls for the second time in one week. Finally, the team is showing the “next-man-up” mentality with Joel Embiid and Tobias Harris missing time due to COVID, Seth Curry dealing with a foot contusion, and Danny Green having hamstring issues.

Even with these setbacks, it’s interesting to see Philadelphia winning games without Benjamin David Simmons. As I mentioned a few weeks ago, Simmons said he was having mental health issues. Now, there are reports saying he’s accepting treatment from the 76ers organization after initially refusing.

I don’t know what to make of this situation anymore. Hopefully, it’ll work out for him. If he does want to return to the team, you know the saying, the more, the merrier.

Lowlight

What in the literal heck are the New Orleans Pelicans doing? They’re 1-10 for the season, currently on a seven-game losing streak, and have had more blowouts than the Detroit Lions (if you do anything worse than the Lions, something has gone horrifically wrong).

Lonzo Ball sought greener pastures this offseason by means of the Chicago Bulls, while Zion Williamson hasn’t played a game yet because of injury.

After the one-year disaster of a head coach known as Stan Van Gundy, the Pelicans hired Willie Green, who was an assistant on the Suns. In their most recent game, their starting five consisted of Nickeil Alexander-Walker, Devonte’ Graham, Garrett Temple, Josh Hart, and Jonas Valančiūnas.

Graham and Valančiūnas are nice anchors, but Brandon Ingram coming back from a hip contusion would probably help. After all, Ingram is averaging 25.0 points, 7.3 rebounds, and 4.8 assists. Coach Green will have to play the cards he has for now.

But, cheer up, Bourbon Street! At least y’all have the Saints.

Random Stat

Chris “Point God” Paul. What a legendary career it’s been for him.

Paul has played for five teams, somehow all in the Western Conference: the New Orleans Pelicans, Los Angeles Clippers, Houston Rockets, Oklahoma City Thunder, and currently the Suns. I’d put an asterisk next to the Pelicans though because at the time they were the New Orleans Hornets. Due to Hurricane Katrina, they played most games in Oklahoma City during Paul’s first two years.

Last Tuesday, Paul made headlines as he surpassed Steve Nash for third-most assists in NBA history. Only Jason Kidd and John Stockton have more. If he keeps at it, Paul could pass Kidd soon. But, I think Stockton’s record of 15,806 assists is just too high.

The good news for Paul is that he has Devin Booker averaged 23.8 points per game. That should help his assist numbers go up. The bad news is that Stockton had the luxury of Karl “The Mailman” Malone for 18 years (the nickname is from Malone constantly delivering big stats). In the end, Paul will go down as one of the greatest point guards in league history. With a championship barely eluding him last year, a ring would’ve seriously boosted his Hall of Fame résumé.

He has time to make up for it, but he’s not getting any younger.

For comments/questions about this story tweet @TheWhitSports.

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