- Associated Press - Tuesday, February 14, 2017

ST. PAUL, Minn. (AP) - Minnesota prep basketball coaches are trying to establish a new award to honor the state’s top senior after the owner of the Minnesota Mr. Basketball Award caught fire for tweets seen as critical of Muslims.

The Minnesota Boys’ Basketball Coaches Association on Monday announced the creation of the McDonald Award, named after retired coach Bob McDonald, who amassed 1,012 victories and won three Class 1A state championships in 59 years at Chisholm High School. The award will be given for the first time following the 2017-18 season.

In a news release, the coaches association says the award will be based on “strength of character, contributing to a team effort, excelling on both offense and defense and performance over the course of the entire season.” The association also said the goal of the award is to be considered the “top award that a high school basketball player in Minnesota can receive.”

The announcement comes just days after Ken Lien, owner and chairman of the Minnesota Mr. Basketball Award, drew criticism for a series of tweets and retweets about Muslims.

Lien apologized in an interview with the Star Tribune (https://strib.mn/2kPZJBz ) on Saturday. He has since disabled his Twitter and Facebook accounts.

“I feel bad about what I did, and I would like to apologize,” Lien told the newspaper. “What it is, I see all this stuff bashing our country and I get upset about it. It isn’t that I’m filled with hate for Muslims. I feel bad about what I did.”

The Minnesota Mr. Basketball Award has been awarded since 1975 and is not affiliated with the Minnesota State High School League. Lien has run the Mr. Basketball Award program since 1977.

John Carrier, the coach of the Henry Sibley boys’ basketball team, went on Twitter Friday to disassociate his program from the Mr. Basketball Award because of Lien’s tweets. The Minnesota Basketball Coaches Association, which is not affiliated with the Mr. Basketball Award, backed Carrier in a tweet, saying, “Courage is what it takes to stand up and speak. Kudos to Coach Carrier for his courageous response.”

In a tweet Monday night about the new award named after McDonald, Carrier said he “could not be more proud of our association. And no better man to name it after.”


Information from: Star Tribune, https://www.startribune.com

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