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Garrett Temple hopeful that ‘bubble’ will advance social justice goals

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NBPA Player Portraits Photo by Al Bello/Getty Images for the NBPA

Like teammate Kyrie Irving, Garrett Temple is a vice-president of the NBPA, the players union, and as such, Temple has said he believes the NBA’s return-to-play can be a vehicle for enhancing players’ social justice goals.

Some have reported that Irving had his doubts about the return, suggesting a boycott might have been a better way to point up inequities in American society, including the police brutality the led to the death of George Floyd at the hands of Minneapolis police on May 25. .

“I think we utilize the situation being in the bubble as a way to continue to push it because there are going to be so many eyes watching these basketball games,” Temple told a Nets media Zoom call, noting that while he and Irving might have had their differences, they agreed on the ultimate goal.

“Everybody has their own thoughts on how to affect change,” Temple said. “The main point is that everybody wants the same thing. Kyrie, myself, most of the black men in the NBA that are passionate about this — or if they weren’t passionate, most of them are now — we want the same thing. There are a lot of different ways to skin a cat.

“The conversations were actually those conversations: Thinking about what’s the way we can most utilize this extra push, these extra ears, and extra eyes that are on this situation. Everybody realized this is a little different than three or four years ago. The world was at a standstill, and this happened again; and because of the situation in terms of the pandemic, people have to watch. It’s the only thing that was going on.”

Temple added that by having so many eyes focused on Orlando and the fight for change, the NBA players won’t let the nation’s focus shift.

“As black men, black people in America, this is an everyday struggle. So the way we can utilize those two or three months in Orlando to continue to push the narrative, to have it fresh on people’s minds, is something we can do in terms of keeping it on people’s minds. … We can really utilize our bubble and ESPN and Turner to help us push that narrative.”

Still, he noted that like so many players who’ve thought about not going, he has a “nervous anxiousness” about the “bubble.”

“There is no way to be comfortable when you think about where you’re going to be, for the amount of time you’re going to be there and the restrictions that you have there,” Temple told reporters. “The question of us being comfortable; that will not be the case whatsoever.”

“We will have to adapt. We will get tired of it. But in no way, shape or form will anyone actually be comfortable, whether it be on the court or off the court, during leisure time or not.”

Temple also discussed meetings the team had with Van Jones, the CNN commentator and CEO of the REFORM Alliance, Zoom get-togethers arranged by Clara Wu Tsai, a partner in the Alliance which aims to reform America’s criminal justice system.

“One thing he was saying was we want y’all to keep playing. Y’all are some of the few black people in America that have a little bit of money, so we don’t want y’all to stop that,” Temple said. “But his biggest thing to us was to continue to have home as black men, black women in America, that he does see a change in how things are going.”

One of the most rewarding parts of a difficult time, Temple volunteered was that so many young and old white people had joined in the protests, compared to when George Zimmerman was acquitted of the 2012 killing of Trayvon Martin.

“Nobody seemed to care,” Temple said. “It made me angry that it was so foreign to so many people, or people just didn’t even pay attention to it.

“Fast-forward eight or nine years later, it seems like people are finally starting to care about unarmed black men being brutalized by the police and black Americans in general being marginalized. So the biggest thing I see is the difference in how that has affected or everybody is trying to help.”

On a personal note, Temple said that he will be at his fiancée Kara McCullough’s side when she gives birth to their first child, expected sometime in September.

“I’m coming back to see my first child being born,” Temple said. “That’s not even in the question.”

Of course, the Nets would have to take down one of the top seeds in the first round of the playoffs for them to still be playing when Temple becomes a father.

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Chris Chiozza spoke with reporters as well on Sunday, saying that if Spencer Dinwiddie isn’t be able play, he’ll be ready. Without Dinwiddie, the Nets seem to be ready to Caris LeVert man the point, which will give Chiozza a significant role as a back-up.

Asked if he was disappointed that the Nets didn’t convert his two-way deal to a standard contract last week, Chiozza said it wasn’t as if he expected it.

“I wasn’t sure that they were going to do it or not, so when it didn’t happen, it didn’t bother me too much because of the circumstances,” he said. “I’m still going to be ready to play. That’s all I really cared about ... being able to be in the playoffs and the last few games of the season.”

Under normal circumstances, two-ways like him and Jeremiah Martin wouldn’t have been eligible for post-season play but under NBA rules adopted for the “bubble,” the two were added to the roster to fill in for the injured Irving and Kevin Durant.

As to whether he’d want to come back next season —he’ll be a restricted free agent come October— Chiozza said he “definitely” wants to return.

“I’ve gotten comfortable here, enjoy the teammates, the staff, all the coaches. So I would love to back for sure.”

The 24-year-old said he spent most of the last three-plus months at home in Memphis where he worked out with his father, his high school coach, at the school’s gym. “Like high school days,” he joked.