Archive for February 6th, 2008

New Suns center Shaquille O’Neal, who on Wednesday was traded from the Heat in exchange for Shawn Marion and Marcus Banks, will be meeting with the media Thursday morning, 10 a.m. Pacific time (1 p.m. ET). So, expect lots of interview quotes shortly after that time.

With Shaq at center, Amare Stoudemire gets to play his natural position of power forward, while Grant Hill and Boris Diaw split time at small forward.

Philadelphia 76ers forward Herbert Hill underwent arthroscopic surgery on his left knee yesterday afternoon. The procedure was performed by Dr. David Altchek at the Hospital for Special Surgery in Manhattan, NY.

The successful surgery revealed a recurrent lateral meniscus tear and scar tissue in the left knee.  Hill will begin a rehabilitation program within 7-10 days and it is expected to last approximately eight weeks.

More information on Hill’s status will be made available as it is received.

Heat waive Luke Jackson

The Miami Heat announced today that they have requested waivers on forward/guard Luke Jackson.

Jackson, who was signed as a free agent by Miami on Dec. 12, 2007, appeared in 14 games (one start) with the HEAT and averaged 5.6 points, 2.4 rebounds, 1.2 assists and 16.3 minutes while shooting 32.5 percent from the floor, 36.7 percent from three-point range and 69.6 percent from the foul line.

The Heat roster now stands at 15.

The Miami Heat announced today that they have acquired four-time All-Star forward Shawn Marion and guard Marcus Banks in a three-player trade with Phoenix in which they sent center Shaquille O’Neal to the Suns.

Marion, a 6’7”, 228-pound forward, has averaged 18.4 points, 10.0 rebounds, 2.0 assists, 1.89 steals, 1.35 blocked shots and 37.8 minutes in 660 games during his nine-year NBA career played entirely with Phoenix. The ninth pick of the 1999 NBA Draft, Marion has averaged double figures in scoring in each of his nine seasons while shooting 48.1 percent from the floor, 34.2 percent from three-point range and 82.4 percent from the foul line. Additionally he has connected on at least 80 percent of his free throw attempts in each of his first eight seasons. Since the 2005-06 season, the 29-year old forward has averaged 18.8 points, 10.6 rebounds, 1.98 steals, 1.58 blocks and 38.4 minutes while shooting 52.4 percent from the floor. Marion, who earned Third Team All-NBA honors in 2004-05 and 2005-06, averaged a career-high 21.8 points during the 2005-06 campaign. Additionally, he teamed with Dwyane Wade as a member of the bronze-medal winning U.S. Olympic Team in 2004 and earned NBA All-Rookie Second Team honors in 2000. A six-time NBA Player of the Week and one-time Player of the Month, Marion finished fourth in the voting for the 2007 Defensive Player of the Year Award after leading the NBA in steals (156).

The four-time NBA All-Star (2003, 2005, 2006, 2007) has started each of the 47 games in which he appeared this year for the Suns and has averaged 15.8 points, 9.9 rebounds, 2.1 assists, 2.02 steals, 1.49 blocks and 36.4 minutes while shooting a career-high 52.6 percent from the floor, 34.7 percent from three-point range and 71.3 percent from the foul line. He has led the Suns in scoring five times this year and topped the squad in rebounds on 27 occasions. Marion was the Suns’ leader this season in minutes played (1,713), defensive rebounds (378), total rebounds (464), steals (95) and starts (47) and ranked second in field goals made (304), field goal percentage, offensive rebounds (86) and blocked shots (70). He joins Kevin Garnett as the only players in the NBA this season that rank in the Top 20 in both rebounds (14th) and steals (8th). Marion currently leads the NBA in steals-to-turnover ratio (1.94) and is also ranked among the league leaders in field goal percentage (17th), blocks (21st) and minutes (39th). Marion, who has recorded at least 30 double-doubles in each of the past seven seasons, has registered 23 double-doubles this season. One of his double-doubles this season was a 17-point, 24-rebound effort against the HEAT on Nov. 9 at Miami. The 24 rebounds were a season-high for Marion and tied as the fifth-highest single-game total against the HEAT in franchise history.

Marion finished his Suns career among Phoenix’s all-time leaders in minutes played (2nd-12,134), three-point field goals made (2nd-652), three-point field goals attempted (2nd-1,905), rebounds (2nd-6,616), steals (2nd-1,245), field goals made (3rd-4,879), field goals attempted (3rd-10,136), blocked shots (3rd-894), points scored (4th-12,134) and games played (5th-660).

In postseason play, Marion has appeared in 65 games and has averaged 17.1 points, 10.9 rebounds, 1.52 blocks, 1.49 steals, 1.4 assists and 40.6 minutes while shooting 46.3 percent from the floor, 34.6 percent from three-point range and 81.1 percent from the foul line. He departs Phoenix as the Suns’ all-time postseason leader in rebounds (706) and among the team’s playoff leaders in blocks (2nd-99), steals (3rd-97), three-point field goals made (3rd-63), three-point field goals attempted (3rd-182), points scored (5th-1,109), games played (5th-65), field goals made (7th-446) and field goals attempted (7th-963).

Banks, a 6’2”, 200-pound guard, has averaged 6.1 points, 2.2 assists, 1.6 rebounds, 0.82 steals and 16.7 minutes in 289 career games while shooting 42.6 percent from the floor, 33.1 percent from three-point range and 77.0 percent from the foul line in a five-year career spent with the Boston Celtics, Minnesota Timberwolves and Suns. Originally selected by the Celtics with the 13th pick of the 2003 NBA Draft, Banks who played in both Boston and Minnesota with current HEAT teammates Ricky Davis and Mark Blount, was signed as a free agent by the Suns on July 20, 2006. He split the 2005-06 season between Boston and Minnesota and set career highs in scoring average (10.0 ppg), assists (3.8 apg), rebounds (2.3 rpg), field goal percentage (.468), free throw percentage (.803) and minutes (25.8 mpg). In 24 games this season (one start), Banks is averaging 5.2 points, 1.0 assists, 0.8 rebounds and 12.9 minutes while shooting 40.4 percent from the floor, 38.5 percent from three-point range and 75 percent from the foul line. He has seen action in 13 postseason contests and has averaged 4.2 points, 1.4 rebounds, 1.2 assists and 13.3 minutes while connecting on 42.6 percent of his field goal attempts, 41.7 percent of his three-point attempts and 75 percent from the charity stripe.

O’Neal, a 7’1”, 325-pound center, was acquired by the HEAT from the Los Angeles Lakers in a four-player trade on July 14, 2004. In three and a half seasons with Miami, O’Neal averaged 19.6 points, 9.1 rebounds, 2.1 assists, 1.88 blocks and 31.1 minutes while shooting a franchise-record 59.6 percent from the floor and helping lead the HEAT to the 2006 NBA championship. During his 16-year NBA career he has averaged 25.6 points, 11.5 rebounds, 2.7 assists, 2.45 blocks and 36.4 minutes while shooting 58.0 percent from the floor. A 14-time All-Star (including three All-Star appearances with the HEAT) and four-time NBA champion, O’Neal has appeared in 198 postseason contests and has averaged 25.5 points, 12.1 rebounds, 2.8 assists, 2.19 blocks and 38.9 minutes while shooting 56.6 percent from the floor.

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All-Star weekend music acts announced

Three-time Grammy™ Award-winning multi-platinum singer and pianist Harry Connick Jr. will join Grammy Award-winning jazz and classical saxophonist Branford Marsalis to headline an extraordinary lineup of New Orleans-themed musical performances featuring some of the biggest names in the Bayou including Jonathan Batiste, Marc Broussard, Davell Crawford, the Dirty Dozen Brass Band, Jonathan Dubose, Dr. John, Stephanie Jordan, Ellis Marsalis, Art Neville, Ivan Neville, Rebirth Brass Band, Kermit Ruffins, Amanda Shaw, Trombone Shorty and Allen Toussaint at NBA All-Star 2008 in New Orleans.

On Sunday, Feb. 17, Connick and Marsalis will take to the court for the 57th NBA All-Star Game at the New Orleans Arena. The Louisiana-born musicians collaborated on the evening’s performance lineup creating a unique musical set that will not only give fans a taste of New Orleans jazz, funk and blues, but will also celebrate the rebirth of their beloved hometown in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina. The performances will air live on TNT, Score Canada, ESPN Radio, and in 215 countries and territories beginning at 7:30 p.m. CT/8:30 p.m. ET.

Connick will serve as musical director for an unparalleled halftime show featuring four original compositions performed by four pairs of pianists who span the spectrum of New Orleans jazz including Dr. John, Allen Toussaint, Davell Crawford, Art Neville, Ivan Neville, Jonathan Batiste, Ellis Marsalis, and Harry Connick Jr. and his Big Band.

Marsalis will serve as musical director for the highly-anticipated All-Star Player introductions featuring a set of high energy big band melodies composed by Marsalis and performed by the acclaimed Rebirth Brass Band. The performance will also feature the dynamic musical stylings of award-winning trumpeter Kermit Ruffins and Offbeat Magazine’s 2007 Performer of the Year Trombone Shorty who will introduce the Western and Eastern Conference All-Star teams. Marsalis will also direct the U.S. national anthem performance featuring vocals by Stephanie Jordan accompanied by internationally acclaimed guitarist Jonathan Dubose. Canadian R&B singer, songwriter, and actress Deborah Cox, whose 1998 hit single “Nobody’s Supposed to Be Here” held the record for the longest-running No.1 single on Billboard’s Hot R&B/Hip Hop chart, will perform the Canadian anthem.

“New Orleans is a vibrant music Mecca and I’m proud to call this great city my home,” said Harry Connick Jr. “Branford and I are truly grateful to the NBA for its commitment to put New Orleans and our extraordinary musicians on a global stage for the whole world to see.”

On Saturday, Feb. 16, prior to the start of All-Star Saturday Night, Louisiana-born singer songwriter Marc Broussard, who released his 2007 album S.O.S.: Save Our Soul to rave reviews, will open the night to perform his smash hit “Home” along with his band. Following this performance, the Dirty Dozen Brass Band will play during player introductions for the All-Stars. All performances will air before a nationwide audience, live on TNT at 8 p.m. ET. Following 22-year-old New Orleans trumpeter Christian Scott, whose 2007 album Anthem was inspired by Hurricane Katrina’s effect on the region, will perform the U.S. national anthem, while crooner Lamont Hiebert will perform the Canadian anthem.

That same night, legendary multi-instrumentalist Dr. John will pay tribute to NBA Cares, the league’s social responsibility initiative, with a special performance of the Louis Armstrong original hit “What a Wonderful World.” Footage from some of the hundreds of NBA Cares events, featuring current and former NBA players working in communities around the world will be thread into the performance.

On Friday, Feb. 15, 17-year-old Cajun fiddler, singer, and actress Amanda Shaw, who narrated the 2006 documentary “Hurricane on the Bayou” about the erosion of Louisiana’s wetlands, will perform the U.S. and Canadian anthems prior to the T-Mobile Rookie & Youth Jam at the New Orleans Arena. Continuing the NBA’s tradition of having “American Idol” winners perform at All-Star, 2007 winner Jordin Sparks will perform her Billboard Top 100 single “Tattoo” during halftime of the game. Both performances will air before a live audience televised on TNT at 8 p.m. CT/9 p.m. ET.

The votes are in and Spain and DKV Joventut star Ricky Rubio has been named the FIBA Europe Young Men’s Player of the Year.

Rubio won handily in a vote of both fans and an expert panel of basketball journalists, players and coaches. Milos Teodosic of Serbia and Olympiacos finished second while Marco Belinelli of Italy and the NBA’s Golden State Warriors won a close battle for third with fellow Italian Danilo Gallinari and Konstantinos Koufos of Greece.

Rubio led Spain to a fifth place finish at the Under-18 European Championship Men in August, where he averaged 19.1 points, 5.0 rebounds and 4.8 assists per contest while shooting nearly 50% from behind the three-point line.

He has been playing a bigger part for club side DKV Joventut as well, averaging 12.5 points per contest, second only to last year’s Young Men’s Player of the Year Rudy Fernandez, while dishing out 3.5 assists per game.

“It’s been clear in the last few seasons that Ricard Rubio is one of the most exciting young players in Europe or any part of the world for that matter.” Said FIBA Europe President George Vassilakopoulos.

“His exploits for both country and club make him a very deserving winner.”

“I still remember his performance at the Under-16 European Championship Men two years ago (51 points, 24 rebounds and 12 assists),” commented FIBA Europe Secretary General Nar Zanolin. “I think we all knew then and there that we were watching someone special.”

The second place finisher Teodosic also had an impressive year leading Serbia to gold at the Under-20 European Championship Men and playing a significant role in the senior team’s efforts at EuroBasket 2007 in Spain.

EXACT ORDER OF FINISH:

1. Ricky Rubio, Spain
2. Milos Teodosic, Serbia
3. Marco Belinelli, Italy
4. Konstantinos Koufos, Greece
5. Danilo Gallinari, Italy
6. Milan Macvan, Serbia
7. Nicolas Batum, France
8. Alexey Shved, Russia
9. Vladimir Dasic, Montenegro
10. Mladen Jeremic, Serbia

Three-point Shootout participants

The Toronto Raptors’ Jason Kapono will defend his title in this year’s Three-Point Shootout, which will be held on Saturday, Feb. 16, at New Orleans Arena as part of NBA All-Star Saturday Night.

Kapono will attempt to become the first back-to-back winner of the Three-Point Shootout since Peja Stojakovic won the 2002 and 2003 titles.  Stojakovic will return to the competition representing the hometown New Orleans Hornets for the first time since finishing as runner-up in the 2004 competition. Stojakovic and Kapono will be joined by Western Conference starter and 10-time All-Star Kobe Bryant of the Los Angeles Lakers, Daniel Gibson of the Cleveland Cavaliers, Richard Hamilton of the Detroit Pistons and two-time MVP Steve Nash of the Phoenix Suns.

The players will compete in the two-round competition with the top three finishers from the first round advancing to the finals. Five shooting stations will be set up around the three-point line, with four Official Spalding NBA game balls worth one point each and one Spalding NBA All-Star 2008 commemorative teal and gold colored “money ball” worth two points at each location. Each player will have one minute to shoot as many balls as he can. In the final round, players will shoot in ascending order of first-round scores. At the discretion of the referee, television instant replay may be consulted for clarification of rules compliance.

The Three-Point Shootout will be televised live nationally as part of the NBA All-Star Saturday Night, which will also feature the Shooting Stars, Slam Dunk and Skills Challenge. TNT and ESPN Radio’s national coverage will begin at 8 p.m. ET from New Orleans Arena. The NBA All-Star Game on Sunday, Feb. 17, will air live on TNT, ESPN Radio and in more than 200 countries and territories worldwide.

ESPN.com reports: Diesel will be chugging out West. In one of the most improbable trades in NBA history, the Miami Heat traded Shaquille O’Neal to the Phoenix Suns on Wednesday for Shawn Marion and Marcus Banks, sources close to the situation told ESPN.com. O’Neal had traveled to Phoenix Wednesday morning to take a physical, which he presumably passed. The Miami Herald first reported on its Web site Tuesday night that the Heat informed O’Neal that they were shopping him and that talks with the Suns were serious.

Basketball Hall of Fame announcer Marv Albert has re-signed with Turner Sports as their lead play-by-play voice on their TNT telecasts through the 2015-16 NBA season, coinciding with the network’s current NBA television agreement. Albert will continue to work one of TNT’s two weekly, exclusive Thursday night games, the NBA All-Star Game and Conference Finals games. In addition, beginning with the start of the 2008-09 NBA season Albert will call additional games on NBA TV, as part of Turner’s recently announced partnership with the NBA.

“Marv’s is a legendary voice in sports broadcasting and synonymous with NBA basketball, and we’re very pleased to continue our relationship with him,” said David Levy, president, Turner Sports & Turner Broadcasting Sales Inc. “Fans have identified TNT as a home for NBA coverage for 23 years, and we are happy that Marv will continue to be a signature voice for TNT, as well as extend his talents to NBA TV.”

“I’m thrilled to be calling NBA action on TNT for eight more years,” said Albert. “I have enjoyed a terrific relationship with them since 1999 and I look forward to continuing to call their marquee NBA regular season and postseason events, as well as being a part of the growth of NBA TV.”

Albert, who will call the 2008 NBA All-Star Game on TNT on Sunday, Feb. 17, joined Turner in April 1999 and has handled play-by-play for TNT’s Wimbledon coverage as well as basketball coverage at the 2001 Goodwill Games in Brisbane, Australia.

He has called nine NBA Finals series on NBC and twelve overall, calling three NBA Finals for Madison Square Garden (MSG) radio, and currently serves as the play-by-play voice of the New Jersey Nets regionally on YES Network. Albert has been the radio play-by-play voice of Monday Night Football for Westwood One since 2002. He worked for NBC Sports from 1977-1997, serving as the primary play-by-play voice for the NBA, college basketball, boxing, NFL football, NHL All-Star games and baseball studio and pre-game shows, and he rejoined NBC in 2000 for NBA coverage. He has served as the voice of the NY Knicks on MSG Network for the past 32 years, as well as radio voice of the NY Rangers for 27 years.

A 20-time “New York State Sportscaster of the Year,” he has also won six CableAce Awards as “Outstanding Play-by-Play Announcer” and was awarded the “Curt Gowdy Media Award” in 1997 by the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame. Albert is also a frequent guest on The Late Show with David Letterman.

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