Archive for June 6th, 2009

There is a press conference in Los Angeles  Sunday at 7:15 p.m. ET with David Stern (NBA Commissioner), Timothy J. Leiweke (President & CEO AEG), Antonio Villaraigosa (Mayor of Los Angeles) and Jan Perry (Councilwoman Ninth District).

The Los Angeles Times (Mike Bresnahan) reports: The NBA is expected to announce today that the 2011 All-Star game will be held at Staples Center. The event was also held in Los Angeles in 2004.

The AP reports: New Orleans Hornets assistant coach Kenny Gattison is leaving the franchise after six years. His contract expires at the end of this month. The team says the Hornets and Gattison agreed he could pursue other opportunities.

InsideHoops.com says: The Hornets had a good season in 2008-09 but disappointed a bit, mostly because of injuries to Tyson Chandler, Peja Stojakovic and Morris Peterson, who missed plenty of games and when on the court were often playing hurt.

The Orlando Sentinel (Anika Myers Palm) reports: Tickets for the three Orlando games in the National Basketball Association finals series sold out before 11 a.m. today, leaving the hundreds of people remaining in line grumbling and upset. “This is ridiculous for the true fans,” said Derek Bonilla of Lake Mary, who had arrived at Amway Arena about 11 p.m. Friday to stand in line for what Orlando Magic officials had said were just 1,000 tickets for each of the three local games… He was one of many to complain about the Magic’s system for selling the much-coveted tickets. Many who had queued for the tickets said it wasn’t fair they stood in line for hours only to be slighted in the lottery system and forced to the back of the line. Orlando Magic officials said the team chose to use to lottery to prevent anyone from being hurt or trampled in a stampede for tickets, which were available online, by phone or at the arena.

Soccer helped Kobe Bryant footwork

Los Angeles Lakers star Kobe Bryant played soccer as a kid, and it likely helped his footwork in basketball. The New York Times (Jonathan Abrams) reports:

Bryant took baby steps toward learning those moves while playing soccer in Italy, where he spent a chunk of his childhood and his father, Joe Bryant, played basketball. Playing soccer, his feet touched the ball as much as a basketball now meets his hands. … “I’ve always worked on it, always worked on it since I was a kid,” Bryant said. “I just watched different players — Olajuwon, Michael, Charles — and just all kinds of footwork and just tried to emulate them. Playing soccer, I think, had a lot to do with it as well. It’s just growing up overseas.”

Bryant is currently up against the Orlando Magic in the NBA Finals. Here’s Magic swingman Mickael Peitrus, as quoted by the New York Times:

“He has great footwork; he has great body control,” said Pietrus, who guarded LeBron James in the Eastern Conference finals only to have his hands full again with Bryant. “He has great everything. Compared to LeBron, he’s very different because he’s moving a lot and he knows how to get you unbalanced to make his shot. He’s Kobe Bryant, so I’m not surprised.”

Watching what Bryant does on a basketball court is a thing of beauty. Be sure to catch the rest of the NBA Finals, before the long off-season begins.

Atlanta Hawks forward/center Zaza Pachulia had a decent season in 2008-9, averaging 6.2 points and 5.7 rebounds in 19.1 minutes per game as a backup. He’s a decent role player and worth having on a roster. But his time with the Hawks could be over. The Atlanta Journal-Constitution (Sekou Smith) reports:

Zaza Pachulia’s days with the Hawks could be numbered. He has 24 days left before he becomes an unrestricted free agent, ending his four-year run with the team. Granted, he could start another one, if he and the Hawks come to terms on a new contract, but there’s a level of uncertainty that comes with free agency that’s undeniable for a player in Pachulia’s situation — there will be a scramble for quality big men at a reasonable price on the free-agent market.

At 6-11 and 275 pounds, the 5th-year player can help just about any team in the league as a prime backup big guy, so expect him to get plenty of offers.

NBA luxury tax to continue

The Deseret News (Tim Buckley) reports: If the Jazz choose to wade into NBA luxury-tax territory — something they’ve said they’re willing to do if need be next season — they won’t be getting a bailout. League Commissioner David Stern told reporters covering the NBA Finals in Los Angeles this week that there are no plans to temporarily shelve the tax, even in light of the country’s current economic plight. “No,” Stern said when asked at his annual Finals news conference, “there’s no contemplation of eliminating or reducing luxury tax.” The tax — part of the current collective-bargaining agreement between the NBA and its players union — is levied upon teams that exceed the league’s maximum team-payroll threshold, which has not yet been determined for next season. It amounts to a fine of $1 for every dollar over the threshold, plus a ban from sharing with under-the-threshold teams in distribution of the taxes that are collected.

Basketball blog