Archive for August, 2010

The New Orleans Hornets announced the hiring of Strength Coach Carlos Daniel, Video Coordinator Adam Tatalovich and the promotion of Mark Cranston to Head Athletic Trainer.

Cranston, who has served the past four seasons as the Director of Athlete Performance and Rehabilitation, takes over the role of Head Athletic Trainer for the Hornets. He is a licensed physical therapist and is certified by the National Athletic Trainers Association as an athletic trainer. In addition, he has professional credentials from the National Strength Coaches Association as a certified strength coach, as well as the National Academy of Sports Medicine as a performance enhancement specialist. He has an extensive resume that covers 29 years of physical therapy and athletic training practice. He was awarded the 1992 Nuprin Comeback Award for the rehabilitation of Olympic gold-medalist Shannon Miller and received the 1995 Distinguished Alumni award from Wichita State University Department of Physical Health. Prior to joining the Hornets, Cranston was a clinical director of sports medicine, physical therapy and athletic training in Oklahoma City. He has a bachelor’s degree in physical therapy from Wichita State University and a masters of public health from the University of Oklahoma.

Daniel comes to the Hornets from the San Antonio Spurs where he served on the strength and conditioning staff for the 2009-10 season. Prior to San Antonio, Daniel was the Performance Trainer and Basketball Director for the Forza Fitness and Performance Club in Denver. Daniel is a ISSA and NASE certified trainer and is a NASM performance enhancement specialist. During the 2006-07 season, Daniel was an assistant coach at the University of Northern Colorado. A 1998 graduate of Washington State University, Daniel was a standout basketball player for the Cougars, garnering first team Pac-10 All-Academic honors each of his four seasons and capturing the first team Arthur Ashe Academic All-American honor twice. The Boulder, Colorado native finished in WSU’s top 10 in blocks (second), rebounds (sixth), field goal percentage (seventh), minutes played (eighth), points (ninth) and field goals (ninth). He garnered first team All-Pac 10 honors his senior season after averaging 16.1 points and 10.1 rebounds per game. The WSU graduate went on to play professionally in the CBA, IBL, as well as internationally in Japan, Israel, Australia and France. Daniel last played in 2004-05 with the Yakima Sun Kings, when he was selected to the CBA All-Star Game.

Tatalovich comes to New Orleans after spending the past four seasons with the Chicago Bulls, the last three as head video coordinator. In Chicago, Adam served under coaches Scott Skiles and Vinny Del Negro. Prior to Chicago, Adam worked at Attack Athletics under Tim Grover, working with college and professional players in the offseason. The Hobart, Indiana native spent the 2005-06 season at the University of Dayton where he served as a graduate assistant under coach Brian Gregory. Tatalovich graduated from Indiana University where he served as a student manager for the men’s basketball program.

OKC Thunder restructure front office

Thunder Executive Vice President and General Manager Sam Presti announced today a restructuring of the Thunder Basketball Operations department.

The Thunder promoted Troy Weaver to VP/Assistant General Manager, Rob Hennigan to Assistant General Manager/Player Personnel, Paul Rivers to Director of Minor League Operations and Basketball Technology and Brandon Barnett to Director of Minor League Scouting and Manager of Minor League Operations. The team added Michael Winger as Assistant General Manager/Legal and Administration and David Vanterpool as Pro Scout.

“We are pleased to continue to promote from within our organization while also bringing in new people who will enhance and compliment our current staff” said Presti. “The promotions for Troy, Rob, Paul and Brandon are well deserved. They are selfless workers who are extremely committed to our organization.” Presti added, “We are fortunate to have the opportunity to also add people such as Michael and David to our team; both will enhance our organization and help us grow in a positive direction.”

Weaver, who enters his third season with the Thunder organization, spent the previous two seasons as Assistant General Manager focusing on roster development and day-to-day basketball operations. Weaver joined the Thunder after spending four seasons in the Utah Jazz front office. The Maryland native began his career as a coach and spent nine seasons as a collegiate coach with Syracuse University, University of New Mexico and University of Pittsburgh before moving to the NBA.

Hennigan spent the previous two seasons as the Thunder’s Director, of College/International Player Personnel where he focused on NBA Draft preparation and assisted on the day-to-day operations of the Thunder’s front office. Prior to joining the Thunder, from 2004-2001, Hennigan spent four seasons with the San Antonio Spurs working his way from basketball operations intern  to Director of Basketball Operations.

Rivers enters his fourth season with the Thunder. He served as the Director of Basketball Administration and Technology for the past three seasons. Rivers joined the Thunder after serving as a video coordinator with the Detroit Pistons (2005-07) and the San Antonio Spurs (2004-05). He spent two years working for head Coach Tom Izzo as a member of Michigan State University’s basketball program. Rivers will oversee the operations for the Thunder’s Minor League affiliate in Tulsa.

Barnett joined the Thunder in 2008 as the team’s Manager of Minor League Operations and oversees the day-to-day operations of the Tulsa 66ers. Prior to joining the Thunder, Barnett spent two seasons at the NBA league office in New York. Barnett will oversee Minor League Scouting Operations in his new role.

Winger joins the Thunder from the Cleveland Cavaliers where he served as Director of Basketball Operations & Team Counsel.  He enjoyed five seasons with the Cavaliers in various front office capacities, working on all matters within basketball operations. Winger will focus on player contract negotiations and drafting, salary cap management, as well as other basketball legal and administrative duties.

Vanterpool joins the Thunder from CSKA in Moscow, Russia where he was most recently an assistant coach for the European power. Vanterpool enjoyed a 14-year playing career in the US and Europe, most recently with CSKA where he helped lead the team to the Russian Championship and the Russian Cup in both 2005-06 and 2006-07. He was a member of the 2006 Euroleague Championship team. The 6-4 guard, who played 27 games with the Washington Wizards during the 2000-01 season, also played professionally in Italy and China. Vanterpool will focus on Professional Scouting in the United States and Overseas.

Canadian basketball is growing

Mike Ganter of the Toronto Sun reports:

No matter what transpires over the next few days for the Canadian senior national team here on the coast of the Aegean Sea, this summer will be looked back on as one of the best Canadian basketball has ever enjoyed.

And while the senior men’s national team haven’t had a lot to do with that good feeling, strides there have been made too.

In fact, Canada’s growth in international basketball has been surpassed by only two countries over the past five years according to a points system FIBA uses to track these things.

“With the success this summer, particularly with that bronze medal by the Cadet (Under 17) team, we now rank third in FIBA points of all the 213 FIBA countries in world age group championships since 2005/2006,” said Wayne Parrish, the Executive Director and CEO of Canada Basketball who is in Izmir with the senior men’s team. “The only ones ahead of us are USA, which dominates, and Australia which is slightly ahead of us. I think that is a good indication of where we are going.”

Suns sign Dwayne Jones

Suns sign Dwayne Jones

The Phoenix Suns today announced that the club has signed forward/center Dwayne Jones.  Jones was traded by the Suns along with Leandro Barbosa to the Toronto Raptors in exchange for Hedo Turkoglu on July 14, and was waived by the Raptors on August 16.

Originally signed by Phoenix on April 5, 2010, Jones saw action in two regular season games and two playoff contests for the Suns.  The 6-11, 250-pound Jones spent the 2009-10 season with the Austin Toros of the NBA Development League before Phoenix made him the league’s 34th GATORADE Call-Up last year.

The 2009-10 D-League rebounding leader averaged 17.6 points (18th) and a league-best 16.0 rebounds in 40.0 minutes in 48 games (48 starts) for the Toros.  Jones averaged four rebounds more than any other D-Leaguer and led the league with 43 double-doubles, 15 more than the nearest player.  His 59.8-percent field goal percentage ranked third-best.

A D-League standout, the St. Joseph’s (PA) product also has NBA experience after spending parts of each of the last five seasons with the Suns, Charlotte Bobcats (2008-09), Cleveland Cavaliers (2006-07, 2007-08) and Boston Celtics (2005-06).  His longest NBA stint came in 2007-08 with the Cavs where he saw action in 56 regular season games, averaging 1.4 points and 2.5 rebounds in 8.4 minutes.  Jones also earned postseason experience after seeing action in five games with Cleveland in the 2008 NBA Playoffs.

Jones owns career D-League averages of 14.7 points, 13.7 rebounds and 35.4 minutes in 110 games (106 starts) with the Florida Flame (2005-06), Albuquerque Thunderbirds (2006-07), Iowa Energy (2008-09), Idaho Stampede (2008-09) and Austin Toros (2008-09, 2009-10).

The Arizona Republic reports:

The Suns took little risk in bringing back Jones. The structure of the one-year deal pays him a small amount to come to training camp and another small portion if he makes the opening night roster. The Suns would have the ability to waive him at no extended cost all the way up until the January date that contracts become guaranteed.

They like Jones, enough to carry a 14th player on the roster (13 is the minimum) now that they are under the luxury tax threshold. But not so much that they would not scoop up another more attractive big man should one come available. Like many teams, the Suns had some interest in Erick Dampier if Charlotte intended on waiving him but the Bobcats now are looking for a trade.

The Miami Heat announced today that they have signed second-round draft selection Da’Sean Butler. Per club policy, terms of the deal were not disclosed.

Butler, a 6’7”, 230-pound forward, played all four seasons at West Virginia University appearing in 146 games (110 starts) and averaged 14.4 points, 5.5 rebounds, 1.9 assists and 1.06 steals while shooting 44.8 percent from the field, 35.3 percent from three-point range and 73.3 percent from the foul line. He finished his collegiate career as the winningest player in school history having totaled 107 wins while also scoring 2,095 points, the third most in school history, behind only Jerry West and Rod Hundley. Butler also ranks among the school’s all-time leaders in double-figure scoring games (1st, 108), field goals made (3rd, 741), three-point field goals made (4th, 205), free throws made (5th, 408), rebounds (11th, 800) and steals (12th, 154).

Butler was selected by the Heat with the 42nd pick in the 2010 NBA Draft.

Chris Bosh gets engaged

The New York Post reports:

Miami Heat superstar Chris Bosh is set to marry girlfriend Adrienne Williams. The giant $100M NBA player proposed to petite Williams in Miami on Friday, after dating her for a year. A source told Page Six: “Chris proposed to Adrienne outside their new home in Miami at sunset. They then went out and celebrated with friends at Liv Nightclub, where Adrienne was seen showing off a huge diamond ring. They are both really happy.”

InsideHoops.com editor says: Heck of a good summer for Bosh. He gets to play with a few decent teammates in Miami, gets engaged, runs around partaking in more fun events than ever. The guy probably has a permanent smile on his face lately.

Talk with other fans on the world famous InsideHoops basketball forum.


Miami Heat forward Chris Bosh poses for photographers on the floor of the New York Stock Exchange, July 28, 2010.   REUTERS/Brendan McDermid (UNITED STATES - Tags: SPORT BASKETBALL BUSINESS)

NBA stars Al Harrington (Denver Nuggets) and Dahntay Jones (Indiana Pacers) have teamed up to host their First Annual Celebrity Charity Bowling Event, Friday, August 27, at Lucky Strike in Manhattan, New York from 8:00 p.m.- 1:00 a.m.

Jones and Harrington will host an event that will bring together top NBA, NFL, and MLB players along with entertainment notables to bowl for a cause. All proceeds from the event will equally be distributed amongst the Dahntay Jones Foundation and the Al Harrington Foundation. Information on each charity can be requested.

The star studded event will have sounds on the turn-tables from New York’s very own, DJ Clue, as confirmed guests Devin Harris, CC Sabathia, Wilson Chandler, Carlos Beltran, Solomon Jones, Justin Tuck, Darrelle Revis, Braylon Edwards, Speedy Claxton, Stephen Jackson, Troy Murphy, Sebastian Telfair, Anthony Morrow, Tyronn Lue, Allan Houston, John Starks, Amare Stoudemire, Ben Gordon, Earl Watson, Tracy McGrady, Michael Strahan, Kelenna Azubuike, Leon Washington, Herb Williams, Toney Douglas, Howard Eisley, Juelz Santana, and Cappie Pondexter-all come together for a, fun-filled, competitive night of bowling to benefit at risk communities across the nation.

InsideHoops.com will be at the event. You can be there too! Tickets are available. Please visit www.ckstrategies.eventbrite.com/ for more information regarding specific event details as well as VIP and general admission ticket sales.

Knicks sign Patrick Ewing, Jr

Knicks sign Patrick Ewing, Jr

New York Knickerbockers President of Basketball Operations Donnie Walsh announced today that forward Patrick Ewing, Jr. has been signed as a free agent. Per team policy, terms of the deal were not disclosed.

It may or may not be a guaranteed deal, in which case it’s no sure thing he gets to stick around for too long. We’ll update this blog entry later today.

Ewing, 6-8, 240-pounds, averaged 4.8 points over 11.3 minutes in four games for the Knicks entry at the 2010 NBA Summer League in Las Vegas, NV, and also averaged 11.3 points over 27.3 minutes for Orlando’s entry at the 2010 Orlando Pro Summer League. Originally selected by Sacramento in the second round (43rd overall) of 2008 NBA Draft out of Georgetown University, Ewing’s rights were first acquired by Houston on Aug. 14, 2008 and then by New York on Aug. 29, 2008. He spent the 2008-09 season with the Reno Bighorns of the NBA D-League, but missed the entire 2009-10 season due to injury.

The roster stands at 15.

InsideHoops.com editor says: Pat Jr isn’t an impact player, but can contribute hustle for a few minutes per game, then tell cool stories about stuff his dad used to do.


MILWAUKEE - MARCH 1: Patrick Ewing, Jr. #33 of the Georgetown Hoyas puts up a shot over Dwight Burke #12 of the Marquette Golden Eagles at the Bradley Center March 1, 2008 in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. Georgetown defeated Marquette 70-68 in overtime. (Photo by Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images)

The Denver Nuggets announced today that Masai Ujiri [ma-SIGH u-JEER-e] has been named Executive Vice President of Basketball Operations.

Ujiri spent the previous three seasons with the Toronto Raptors, most recently holding the position of Assistant General Manager, Player Personnel. In that capacity, his duties included overseeing the Raptors scouting and personnel departments, talent assessment and related data management. He joined Toronto in 2007 as its Director of Global Scouting.

Ujiri is no stranger to Denver. He was a member of the Nuggets’ organization from 2003-07, serving in various capacities, including Director of International Scouting during the 2006-07 season. He began his NBA career with the Orlando Magic, serving as an international scout in 2002-03.

“We are very pleased to welcome Masai back to Denver” said Josh Kroenke, senior KSE and Nuggets’ official. “He brings a diverse basketball background and a unique perspective that will be valuable to our organization. He is respected in basketball circles throughout the world.”

A native of Nigeria, Ujiri is well connected in the international basketball scene. After playing collegiately at Bismarck State College and Montana State, he played professionally in Europe for six seasons, including stops in Belgium, Germany, England, Greece, and Finland. He has scouted all over the world, including Europe, Africa, Asia and South America. He has also managed and coached the junior and senior national teams of Nigeria.

“I am incredibly honored and humbled to return to the organization where I experienced so much of my personal and professional growth in the NBA,” said Ujiri. “I am very thankful to the Kroenkes for this opportunity.”

Along with former Nuggets great Dikembe Mutombo, Ujiri has been one of the foremost advocates for the growth of the game of basketball throughout Africa. He founded the Giants of Africa Foundation seven years ago, which launched Top 50 and Bigman camps in his homeland. He also has served as Director for the NBA’s Basketball Without Borders program each of the past eight years.

Brandon Rush of the Indiana Pacers, Kenny Hasbrouck of the Miami Heat and Tyreke Evans of the Sacramento Kings have each been suspended for their actions in separate incidents, the NBA announced today.

Rush has been suspended without pay for five games for violating the terms of the NBA/NBPA Anti-Drug Program.

Hasbrouck has been suspended without pay for two games for pleading guilty to driving while intoxicated, in violation of the law of the State of New York.

Evans has been suspended without pay for one game for pleading no contest to reckless driving, in violation of the law of the State of California.

Each players’ suspension will begin with the first game of the NBA regular season for which he is eligible and physically able to play.

The San Antonio Spurs today announced that Danny Ferry has been named the team’s Vice President of Basketball Operations. This is his second stint with the Spurs. Ferry played for the Spurs from 2000-03 and served as the team’s Director of Basketball Operations from 2003-05. During his tenure in San Antonio, Ferry captured an NBA Championship as a player (2003) and as a member of the front office (2005).

“We are thrilled that Danny has decided to rejoin the Spurs organization,” said Spurs General Manager RC Buford. “He has a great basketball mind and brings a vast amount of NBA experience and expertise to our program. It is a true pleasure to be able to welcome Danny and his wonderful family back to South Texas.”

Ferry was selected by the Los Angeles Clippers with the second overall pick in the 1989 NBA Draft. On November 16, 1989, he was traded by the Clippers to the Cavaliers. After playing the 1989-90 season in Italy, Ferry spent 10 seasons with Cleveland before signing with the Spurs, as a free agent, on August 10, 2000. Ferry spent his final three NBA seasons with the Spurs before retiring in the summer of 2003. In his 13-year NBA career, Ferry averaged 7.0 points and 2.8 rebounds in 19.8 minutes in 917 regular season games.

After retiring, Ferry moved into the Spurs front office as the team’s Director of Basketball Operations. On June 27, 2005, Ferry was named the Cleveland Cavaliers General Manager. During his five seasons in Cleveland, the team posted a 272-138 (.663) record. Cleveland advanced to the 2007 NBA Finals, marking the franchise’s first, and only, trip to the NBA Finals. Ferry left his post with the Cavaliers on June 4, 2010.

The Oklahoma City Thunder has begun the process of negotiating with potential new naming rights partners for the Ford Center arena, team officials announced today.

The original naming rights contract allowed the team to terminate the existing agreement should an NBA franchise come to Oklahoma City.

The Thunder entered into discussions with the current naming rights partner, the Oklahoma Ford Dealers, but a new agreement could not be reached. As a result, the Thunder has now officially terminated the existing naming rights agreement and entered into a period of negotiations with other potential partners.

Until those negotiations are complete, the team will have no further public comment.

New York Liberty point guard Leilani Mitchell was named the 2010 WNBA Most Improved Player of the Year presented by Kia Motors, the league announced today.  Mitchell received 29 out of 39 votes from a panel of local and national sportswriters and broadcasters, beating out other top candidates that included Atlanta Dream forward Angel McCoughtry, Indiana Fever center Jessica Davenport, and Washington Mystics forward-center Crystal Langhorne and forward Monique Currie.

In her third WNBA season, Mitchell improved her overall performance across every major statistical category, including leading the WNBA in three-point field goal percentage (.486) and finishing second in total three-point field goals made (72).  Mitchell increased her scoring output by nearly seven points to 9.3 ppg from 2.4, and increased her assists to 3.8 apg from 2.4.  In addition, she tied for seventh in the league in steals (1.6 spg) and shot .441 from the field, up from .300 the previous season.

Acquired via trade from the Phoenix Mercury in May 2008, in exchange for the Liberty’s third round selection in 2009, Mitchell earned the starting point guard position during the 2010 preseason, and thrived in her new role.  After starting only seven games in her previous two seasons, the University of Utah product started all 34 games in 2010.  In the process, Mitchell helped guide the Liberty to a 22-12 (.647) record during the regular season, a nine-game improvement from the prior year, highlighted by a franchise-record 10-game winning streak and a No. 2 playoff seed in the Eastern Conference.

Against Indiana on Aug. 17, Mitchell posted 19 points, three rebounds and five assists, along with making four out of five three-point attempts, in a key win against New York’s conference rival.  The following game she tallied 14 points, eight assists, and hit four out of six three-point attempts in another pivotal win against Tulsa on Aug. 19.

In honor of being named the Most Improved Player of the Year presented by Kia Motors, Mitchell will receive $5,000 and a trophy specially designed by Tiffany & Co.

New York Knickerbockers President of Basketball Operations Donnie Walsh announced today that the team has signed swingman Landry Fields, the 39th overall selection in the 2010 NBA Draft, to a player contract. Per team policy, terms of the deal were not disclosed.

Fields, 6-7, 210-pounds, played four seasons for Stanford University and averaged 22.0 points and 8.8 rebounds as a senior in 2009-10. As All Pac-10 First Team and Pac-10 All-Academic First Team selections, the Long Beach, CA native led the Pac-10 and finished eighth in the nation in scoring as a senior in 2009-10. In 2010 NBA Summer League play in Las Vegas, Fields averaged a team-high 15.6 points and added 4.8 rebounds, 1.60 steals and 25.9 minutes in five games as a member of the Knicks entry.

FIBA, the world governing body of basketball, today announced that four players are to be suspended, and their national federations fined, after recent fighting at a friendly tournament in Greece.

On 19th August, at a game between Greece and Serbia, a fight broke out towards the end of the game involving two players - Antonis Fotsis (GRE) and Milos Teodosic (SRB). This resulted in a wider, violent brawl between several players of both teams.

The game was stopped immediately and never resumed.

FIBA started an official investigation after the game and has now announced its findings.

Serbian player Nenad Krstic is suspended with immediate effect for three games in main official FIBA competition which include the World Championships, Olympics and Continental Championships.  The player is also fined a total of CHF 45,000.

His teammate, Milos Teodosic, is also suspended with immediate effect for two games in main official FIBA competitions.

The Serbian Basketball federation will be fined a total of CHF 20,000.

Greek players Antonis Fotsis and Sofoklis Schortsanitis are suspended with immediate effect for two games in main official FIBA competitions.

The Hellenic Basketball Federation will be fined a total of CHF 20,000.

Money from the fines will be used to support education programs for young basketball players.

FIBA believes that the judgement will send a strong message to all players that their behaviour on and off the court must be exemplary and in line with the rules of basketball at all times.

All parties have the right to appeal the decisions taken.

The FIBA World Championship begins in Turkey on 28th August 2010.

michael redd

The Philadelphia 76ers announced that due to forward Andres Nocioni’s injured left ankle, the team has advised him to withdraw from the upcoming FIBA World Championships, effective immediately.

The MRI of Nocioni’s left ankle was reviewed by Dr. Jack McPhilemy of Main Line Health Services, who recommended that Nocioni stop all basketball and impact activity until the team opens Training Camp at the end of September, at which time he will be re-evaluated.

Upon Nocioni’s return to Philadelphia, another MRI will be taken of his left ankle.


March 21, 2010 Los Angeles, CA..Kings' Andres Nocioni in action during the NBA game between the Sacramento Kings and the Los Angeles Clippers at Staples Center in Los Angeles, California. The Kings defeated the Clippers, 102-89..Josh Thompson/Cal Sport Media.

Bill Lubinger of the Cleveland Plain Dealer reports:

The deal to sell a minority stake in the Cavaliers to a Chinese investment group — what would have been the first major Chinese investment in an American sports league — has been dead for months, according to the Cavs and the NBA.

The Plain Dealer first reported in May 2009 that a group led by Chinese businessman Kenny Huang had agreed to buy 15 percent of the team owned by former Cavs Vice Chairman David Katzman.

The agreement was billed as a timely entree into the massive and growing Chinese sports audience, and a valuable cash infusion for the Cavs — both positive developments in the bid to keep free agent LeBron James. The sale was expected to be completed late last year, pending NBA approval.

“It never materialized, as far as completing the application process with the league,” said Cavs President Len Komoroski. “Ultimately, you would have to ask [Huang’s group] as to why.”

Mike Monroe of the San Antonio Express-News reports:

Danny Ferry, who earned championship rings both as a Spurs player and a member of the team’s basketball operations department, will return to the franchise to try and help the club position for another title run.

Ferry, who resigned as general manager of the Cleveland Cavaliers ahead of LeBron James’ free agency defection in July, officially will be announced as a member of the Spurs’ front office by week’s end…

Ferry will re-join R.C. Buford, president of sports franchises for Spurs Sports and Entertainment, and vice-president and assistant general manager Dennis Lindsey in the club’s front office. Lindsey was hired in 2007 after Sam Presti left the club to become general manager of the then-Seattle SuperSonics.

InsideHoops.com editor quick-take: The Spurs front office almost always makes perfect decisions. That they want Ferry back says a lot about Ferry.

NEW YORK - SEPTEMBER 22:  Former NBA player Scottie Pippen attends the 23rd Annual Great Sports Legends Dinner to Cure Paralysis at the Waldorf Astoria on September 22, 2008 in New York City.  (Photo by Brad Barket/Getty Images for The Miami Project)

The Chicago Bulls announced today plans to unveil a bronze statue of Hall of Famer Scottie Pippen that will be displayed permanently in the United Center by the end of the 2010-11 season.

“Not only is Scottie Pippen one of the greatest players to ever wear a Bulls uniform, but he’s among the best players in history of the league to play the game,” said Bulls Chairman Jerry Reinsdorf. “He had a tremendous impact in bringing six world championships to Chicago and there is no better way to pay tribute to him than with a permanent statue that honors his inspirational career.”

The statue will be crafted by Omri and Julie Rotblatt-Amrany of Highland Park, Ill., who also sculpted the famous Michael Jordan statue which was unveiled in January 1994 in conjunction with Jordan’s No. 23 jersey retirement.

“Words really can’t express my feelings,” Pippen said. “It’s an unbelievable honor and truly amazing. It’s something you dream of as a kid growing up, but you can never foresee those childhood fantasies becoming reality. You see statues of individuals who have done great things and made their mark on history, but as a basketball player, you never really think about arriving at this point. It’s an amazing honor for the Chicago Bulls to do this for me.”

Pippen was informed of the news the same week that he was enshrined in the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame. In his first year of eligibility, Pippen was inducted on Aug. 13 as an individual player and as a member of the 1992 Dream Team which won the gold medal in the Barcelona Summer Olympics.

In July, the Bulls named Pippen as an ambassador for the organization. In this capacity, he will attend a majority of Bulls home games and spend time with fans and sponsors. Additionally, Pippen will also participate in a variety of team related events throughout the year, write a monthly column on Bulls.com and make appearances on BullsTV via Bulls.com.

“Being back in Chicago is a great feeling,” said Pippen. “To be among the fans who made my career so special is a fitting next step for me. I’m ready to be a regular at the United Center again as I get back into basketball. I can’t wait to bring my kids around the game. I look forward to working with the younger generation of players, too. Hopefully getting on the court and sharing my knowledge and experience with them will help.”

Pippen was a seven-time NBA All-Star (1990, 1992-97) and a member of six NBA championship teams with the Chicago Bulls. He was a three-time All-NBA first team honoree and was voted to the NBA All-Defensive first team from 1992-99. Pippen won two Olympic gold medals as a member of the 1992 USA Basketball “Dream Team” and returned to help lead the USA to gold at the 1996 Olympics in Atlanta. He also won NBA All-Star MVP honors in 1994.

I will assume this gossip story is NOT TRUE until proven otherwise, but check out what some blogs are reporting about Shaq and Nicole “Hoopz” Alexander:

The Clutch Blog on MTV.com reports:

Is Shaq marrying Hoopz from Flava of Love?

Remember Hoopz, the girl who won Flava Flav’s heart on the first season of “Flava of Love”? Apparently she’s marrying Shaq! We knew they were dating, but the St. Louis Post Dispatch says that things are about to get much more serious. According to the paper, they were together at a St. Louis restaurant when Shaq “brought a chair into the middle of the dance floor and he put a ring on her finger.” Sounds like a proposal to us.

And Blog.VH1.com reports:

Adding fuel to these (very speculative!) fires is a story on the (pretty reputable) sports website Sports By Brooks that says, and we quote, the site “has also been informed that O’Neal has spent much of his summer in Alexander’s hometown of Maryville, TN. In fact, the current Celtic now has a home with Alexander in Maryville’s Royal Oaks golf community.”

UPDATE: Mike Wise (Washington Post) wrote the following on Twitter (thanks to Howard Beck of the New York Times for spotting this): “The Daddy not engaged to Hoops. Shaquille O’Neal’s text message reply to my congrats: “What engagement dnt believe dat.”


Celebs enjoy the festivities during the gala opening of the Casino Club At The Greenbrier in West Sulfur Springs, West Virginia on July 2, 2010. Restriction applies: NO NEW YORK NEWSPAPERS  Fame Pictures, Inc

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