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LaMelo Ball-Zion Williamson matchup causes Vegas chaos

LaMelo Ball vs. Zion Williamson is kind of a big deal.

In fact, a matchup between two of basketball’s elite prospects caused what ESPN.com described as a chaotic scene Wednesday, as police capped entry to the Las Vegas gym where the pair’s AAU teams faced off at the Adidas Uprising Summer Championships.

None of these are acceptable angles to take when it comes to digesting his comments. It’s such a tired narrative that the NBA today has gone soft and that the players of today’s game would never survive in Oakley’s era. The game has changed, but that doesn’t mean the product is worse, and it certainly doesn’t mean the masculinity of the players should be a topic of conversation, and a topic of derision.

The NBA has been progressive in some regards when it comes to the inclusion of women. The San Antonio Spurs hired former WNBA star Becky Hammon as an assistant coach in 2014, making her the first full-time assistant coach in any of the major four North American sports leagues. In 1997, Violet Palmer became the first female referee to call a game at the professional level in a major U.S. sport.

But these comments from Oakley shouldn’t be glossed over, and they shouldn’t be tolerated because of his persona as a tough guy. There’s nothing tough or acceptable about the words he chose, and they shouldn’t be welcomed as part of the lexicon of how we talk about the modern game of basketball.

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