Archive for November 10th, 2009

Tracy McGrady has target date for return

Jonathan Feigen of the Houston Chronicle reports:

Tracy McGrady has target date for return

A day after he reportedly said he would be playing Nov. 18, Rockets guard Tracy McGrady said he was misunderstood. Rather, he merely hopes to be playing Nov. 18, a week before the Rockets said he could be back at the earliest.

“It’s a target date,” McGrady said on Tuesday. “I didn’t say I was coming back; I said it was a target date just like we have a date to have the MRI on the 23rd. Everybody is blowing it out of proportion like I’m guaranteed to come back. I want to play, so that’s what we’re targeting. I’ve been working out every day, improving every day, and that’s what it is.

“It’s not a guarantee that I’m coming back. It’s a target date.”

He also said, however, that he would not rush his return and indicated that he does not expect to play until the week of his scheduled MRI, Nov. 23.

I say T-Mac has no reason to rush back until he’s as close to fully healthy as possible. Coach Rick Adelman is doing a terrific job with the current rotation of players and for now, at least, they’re playing like a squad that will qualify for the playoffs.

Of course, things change in a hurry, but McGrady’s main goal should be returning and staying healthy for a long time.

J.R. Smith almost became Earl Smith

Benjamin Hochman of the Denver Post reports:

J.R. Smith is now Earl Smith

Nuggets guard J.R. Smith has made a decision — from now on, he wants to be called by his given name, Earl.

His given name is Earl Smith III, but he got “J.R.” because people would call him “junior,” even though, yeah, he’s actually a third-generation Earl.

Regardless, the Denver sharpshooter is now Earl Smith III — which should lead to some cutesy puns about “III” and “3-pointers.”

“I just felt like changing it,” Smith said Tuesday morning at the Nuggets shootaround, in preparation for tonight’s Nuggets-Bulls game, Smith’s first game back from a seven-game suspension. “It’s been a long time, and J.R. has no significance to my name. My name is Earl, so I figured  - why not?”

Smith doesn’t exactly give a compelling reason for the change. Usually when someone makes a big decision, like altering the first name millions of people know you by, there’s more behind it than “just feeling like it.” But of course, it’s J.R.’s decision.

I wonder how long it’ll take fans to break the habit and call him Earl.

I remember when another J.R. — last name Rider — became “Isaiah” Rider. For years later, everyone still wanted to call him J.R.  To me, he’s still J.R. Rider.

Anyway, welcome to the NBA, Earl Smith III!

NOVEMBER 11 UPDATE: NO NAME CHANGE

Benjamin Hochman of the Denver Post reports: Nuggets guard J.R. Smith made a big proclamation Tuesday morning — from now on, he wanted to be called by his given name, Earl. But by game time Tuesday night, he was back to being J.R. “There was too much controversy with the switch,” Smith said after Denver’s 90-89 win in Chicago. “I got a lot of calls and text messages and e-mails. It wasn’t a good move.”

Josh Childress has swine flu in Greece

Josh Childress has swine flu in Greece

The AFP reports: Greek basketball club Olympiakos announced on Tuesday that their former NBA star Josh Childress has come down with the H1N1 flu and will be out of action for more than a week. “Our player Josh Childress has been diagnosed with the H1N1 flu. He is currently being treated and doctors are completely satisfied with his condition,” an announcement by Olympiakos said.

According to Euroleague.net, “Olympiacos announced Wednesday that star forward Josh Childress would miss Thursday’s game against Efes Pilsen after being diagnosed with the H1NI virus. He is the third player on the Reds to come down with the virus. Both Sofoklis Schortsanitis and Kostas Papanikolaou missed the team’s Euroleague season opener with H1NI.”

InsideHoops.com adds: The NBA recently had its first (publically confirmed) player with swine flu, guard/forward Chris Douglas-Roberts of the New Jersey Nets.

Basketball Hall of Famer Al Cervi dies

The AP reports:

Al Cervi, a pro basketball star who coached the Syracuse Nationals to the 1955 NBA championship, has died in upstate New York at age 92.

The 5-foot-11-inch Cervi was one of the strongest backcourt players of the 1940s and 1950s. Nicknamed “Digger,” he was the 1947 National Basketball League scoring champion and MVP as a guard for the Rochester Royals.

The Philadelphia 76ers today named Mark C. Gullett as the team’s new Vice President of Marketing. He joins the team after the past nine seasons with the Tampa Bay Lightning of the National Hockey League where he held a similar position.

“Mark is a highly creative and visionary leader with more than 20 years of innovative marketing and advertising experience in the sports and entertainment industry,” said Lara Price, Sixers Senior Vice President. “We will rely heavily on his ability to generate new and exciting marketing campaigns for Sixers basketball.”

In his new role, Gullett will be responsible for directing the strategic vision and leadership of the Sixers marketing efforts which include creating new and exciting ticket-driven promotional campaigns, brand development, marketing and advertising, grassroots, promotions, research, database marketing, interactive marketing and creative services.

In Tampa, Gullet increased ticket sale revenue consistently for five years. He was instrumental in net revenue improvement from a deficit in 2000 to profitability in 2004. He also managed sales efforts and achieved sold out attendance for two years of playoffs in a non-traditional hockey market.

Prior to joining the Lightning, Gullett spent 15 years in the radio industry as Director of Marketing for the CBS Radio Group in St. Petersburg, FL (1994-2000); Director of Marketing and Promotions at WIOQ (Q102) in Philadelphia, PA (1991-1994); Promotions Director at Metroplex Radio Group in Cleveland, OH (1990-1991); Creative Services Manager at WNCS and WERE in Cleveland, OH (1989-1990); and Director of Marketing at WRFX in Charlotte, NC (1985-1988).

The AP reports:

Kareem Abdul-Jabbar is being treated for a rare form of leukemia, and the basketball great said his prognosis is encouraging.

The NBA’s all-time leading scorer was diagnosed last December with chronic myeloid leukemia, he told The Associated Press on Monday.

The 62-year-old Abdul-Jabbar said his doctor didn’t give any guarantees, but informed him: “You have a very good chance to live your life out and not have to make any drastic changes to your lifestyle.”

Broderick Turner of the Los Angeles Times reports:

Abdul-Jabbar, 62, revealed during an interview Monday that he has Philadelphia chromosome-positive chronic myeloid leukemia, a cancer of the blood and bone marrow that produces cancerous blood cells.

The disease was diagnosed in December. But Abdul-Jabbar said his condition can be managed by taking oral medication daily, seeing his specialist every other month and getting his blood analyzed regularly. He said he expects to lead a healthy life.

Abdul-Jabbar acknowledged he was scared after visiting his doctor and learning of the diagnosis.

“The word ‘leukemia’ is a very frightening word,” he said in a phone interview from New York. “In many instances, it’s a killer and it’s something that you have to deal with in a very serious and determined way if you’re going to beat it.”

More from the Los Angeles Times:

Abdul-Jabbar said he wasn’t feeling particularly ill last year, but was having frequent hot flashes and was sweating constantly. He said his doctor told him to get some blood tests.

“By having the hot flashes, I knew something was up. But I didn’t think that it was going to be something as serious as leukemia,” Abdul-Jabbar said.

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