Archive for October, 2011

Rajon Rondo staying busy this off-season

Rajon Rondo

Boston Celtics guard Rajon Rondo made highlight reels with an acrobatic alley-oop pass to Denver rookie Kenneth Faried in a Kentucky all-star game last week, after making his first organized basketball appearance last weekend at the South Florida All-Star Classic. In that one, he was promptly booed by the Heat faithful at Florida International University in Miami.

“I had a fun time at the game, a lot of guys playing together,’’ he said. “It’s good competition. That’s what you look for in this type of time of the year.

“The elbow is fine. I have been playing in a lot of games and it hasn’t given me any problems yet.’’

Rondo has worked out feverishly at the University of Kentucky, and though he is not in true basketball shape because of a lack of a training camp, he is prepared for more extensive workouts when the lockout concludes.

– Reported by Gary Washburn of the Boston Globe

Stephon Marbury

China’s most beloved New Yorker, Stephon Marbury, arrived for his third season in the Chinese Basketball Association at Beijing Capital Airport on October 6th with a bunch of bags, a lot of smiles and two big band-aids on his head. (And as always, a lot of people with cameras taking his photos.) After playing one and a half seasons Taiyuan, Shanxi province, and Foshan, Guangdong, two Chinese cities not exactly known as foreign hotspots, Marbury has finally made it to his Chinese professional basketball mecca, Beijing.

This season, Steph will play for the Beijing Shougang Ducks. Last season, led by former New York Knicks and Atlanta Hawks center, Randolph Morris, the Ducks finished in eighth place, which gave them the right to be swept out of the first round of the playoffs by eventual league runners-up, Xinjiang Guanghui. Aiming to build off that success, the Ducks brought back Morris for another year and signed Marbury, who interestingly enough was close to signing with the team last year before team management ultimately decided to go with Steve Francis instead. (We don’t need to remind you how that ended up.) Although the team will be weakened with the departure of Jordanian national teammer, Zaid Abbas, who moved on to Fujian SBS this season to act as their Asian import, teaming up with Morris and Taiwanese national team point guard/CBA heartthrob, Lee Hsueh-lin, will give Marbury by far his best chance to make it to the post-season for the first time in his Chinese career.

– Reported by NIUBBall.com

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dwyane ade

Wade said the NBA has done an “amazing” job in getting its message out to basketball fans during the lockout. Players, he said, have not wanted to take the same approach as the NBA on the battle of perception.

“We haven’t done a great job of complaining,” Wade said. “That’s what the NBA has done, they’ve done a great job of complaining. We haven’t done a great job of that so no one sees our side. They more so see the owners’ side.”

And that side is this: Without more competitive balance, the league can’t succeed.

“There’s a real willingness of the high-grossing teams to pitch in and put in some dollars,” Stern told NBA TV in an interview broadcast Thursday night. “And there’s a real desire on the low-grossing teams to have the money to make them competitive.”

Wade and Stern discussed that point during a sometimes contentious meeting several top players attended in New York a couple weeks ago, and just as he did then, the star doesn’t agree with the commissioner.

– Reported by Tim Reynolds of the Associated Press

Billy Hunter said earlier Friday that he fears much worse than canceled games if the lockout drags on.

“If everybody begins to dig into their respective positions, then I think the league will be decimated. It took us five years to recover from the 1998 lockout and there’s probability that we may never recover [from this lockout],” Hunter told ESPN before Friday’s sit-down with players. “I think there will be some teams that won’t survive. Particularly if the season gets shut down, there will be teams that will not be around next year.”

Hunter singled out the Sacramento Kings as a franchise that may fall victim to “forced contraction.”

If negotiations with the federal mediator next week fail to warrant any movement toward a deal, the players association hopes it has an ace up its sleeve as it awaits the National Labor Relations Board’s action on the unfair labor practices claim that the union filed back in May.

“It has been prolonged and I believe it has been prolonged because I believe they have taken this case serious,” union vice president Maurice Evans told ESPNLosAngeles.com. “The ruling could weigh heavily on these negotiations as it is the only legal verdict that could in fact end the lockout. We do expect to hear from them within the next two weeks.”

– Reported by J.A. Adande and Dave McMenamin of ESPN.com

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Kenny Smith has a way to end the NBA’s lockout, but he’s also realistic enough to know his plan might be too simplistic for league and union bureaucrats that seem to enjoy the battle more than trying to end it.

That’s why the TNT anaylst is planning a charity all-star game - perhaps the most appropriate such event in terms of who it will benefit.

Smith said Thursday night he is in the process of organizing a charity game in Las Vegas and wants it to benefit military members.

It will be played on Veteran’s Day, Friday Nov. 11.

That’s the day before Manny Pacquiao is scheduled for a welterweight title fight in Las Vegas against Juan Manuel Marquez, which could make it a huge sports weekend in Sin City.

The beneficiaries will be former military members, which is fitting because the game will be played on Veterans Day.

Many details must be worked out, but Smith said he has already been in touch with numerous players and the response has been excellent. And having the event benefit veterans would make it an instant success with sponsors.

– Reported by Eddie Sefko of the Dallas Morning News

NBA players union says it remains united

derek fisher

Put three people in a room and two of them will talk about the other. Put 30 NBA players in a room and unanimity is impossible.

So though Wizards center JaVale McGee said some NBA players “are ready to fold,” both he and players union president Derek Fisher stressed more players are staying together in their labor fight with the owners, which is scheduled to go before a federal mediator in New York on Tuesday.

With Commissioner David Stern continuing to make the rounds on TV and radio shows to teach and preach the gospel of the league and the owners, about 30 players met with National Basketball Players Association executive director Billy Hunter at a Beverly Hills hotel yesterday for updates on the latest labor proposals and to re-affirm their solidarity. The union has held similar regional meetings in Las Vegas and Chicago. But after McGee left early, he provided the headline fodder.

– Reported by Fred Kerber of the New York Post

After initially forbidding front-office executives from attending college basketball practices during the lockout, the NBA has changed course and informed teams they can now do so, league sources told Yahoo! Sports.

With college practices starting this weekend, NBA executives and scouts are free to travel to campus and watch practices and workouts. Front-office executives and scouts were always going to be allowed to scout games, which don’t start until mid November.

– Reported by Adrian Wojnarowski of Yahoo! Sports

InsideHoops.com editor says: Smart and logical move by the NBA. There is no reason to harm NBA teams by limiting their ability to study up on talent that they might someday want to draft.

lebron james

LeBron James took his talents to Liverpool on Friday—and finally got his hands on a championship trophy.

The Miami Heat star toured the Premier League club’s facilities for the first time since becoming a shareholder of the 18-time English champions. James held up the Champions League trophy won by Liverpool in 2005 and posted a picture on Twitter of a red No. 6 jersey with his name on it.

The two-time MVP will sit in the directors’ box at Anfield Stadium for Saturday’s Premier League match against Liverpool rival Manchester United.

“Jersey ready for the big match 2morrow,” James tweeted.

– Reported by the Associated Press

philadelphia 76ers

Comcast-Spectacor’s sale of the 76ers to a group of investors led by New York billionaire Joshua Harris is expected to close early next week, according to a source close to the situation.

Terms of the sale were agreed upon in July, but the deal has been pending approval of the NBA’s board of governors for more than two months. The NBA has been mired in a lockout since July 1. On Monday, the league canceled the first two weeks of the 2011-12 regular season…

The deal is for 100 percent of the Sixers for approximately $280 million.

– Reported by Kate Fagan of the Philadelphia Inquirer

maurice evans

As a vice president with the National Basketball Players Association, Maurice Evans had made getting the players a new, fair collective bargaining agreement his primary goal since the season ended. The players’ union and the NBA owners have yet to meet that objective without losing regular season games, but Evans can still feel a sense of accomplishment about this offseason.

Because in the midst of attending numerous bargaining sessions in New York, running regional players meetings in Chicago and Las Vegas, and going over strategies with union president Derek Fisher and executive director Billy Hunter, Evans managed to finally get his degree in education from the University of Texas.

“I was very proud of that,” Evans said this week. “Unfortunately, that doesn’t make as much news as the bargaining sessions, but I’ve had a great and productive summer.”

Evans, 32, left Texas after his junior season in 2001, hoping to be drafted in the first round but wound up going undrafted. He scrapped his way into a NBA and has outlasted 12 first-rounders from that draft, but he always felt the void of not having his degree. “I know I’m a leader on and off the court and before you can commence in anything, you have to finish stages and that was the stage left open due to me continuing my NBA career,” Evans said. “Once I had a break due to this lockout, I was able to find the time.”

– Reported by Michael Lee of the Washington Post Blog

When and if the Suns hold a training camp for the 2011-12 season, they will be getting away for their building and bonding to west Phoenix.

After spending recent training camps in San Diego, Tucson and Italy, the Suns are planning to hold their preseason training camp at the new Grand Canyon University Arena.

The dynamics of the lockout dictate that the Suns have a plan that can work on the fly for whenever a collective-bargaining agreement is reached. The camp/preseason timetable could be crunched but the Suns still like the idea of leaving their usual confines at US Airways Center for a camp, even if it is only 14 miles away in this case. Training camp normally lasts about a week and includes some two-a-day workouts.

– Reported by Paul Coro of the Arizona Republic

Cavs D-League team named Canton Charge

canton charge

The Cleveland Cavaliers today announced that their new NBA D-League team in Canton will be named the Canton Charge. At the same time, the team’s colors, logo and court design were also debuted.  The announcement and unveiling was led by Cavaliers President Len Komoroski and Cavaliers Chief Marketing Officer Tracy Marek, along with Canton Mayor William J. Healy II and Canton Regional Chamber of Commerce President Denny Saunier. The events took place at the Canton Memorial Civic Center, which will serve as home court for the Charge.

“The Canton Charge franchise is powered by the Cleveland Cavaliers, but they are truly energized by the Greater Canton community,” said Cavaliers President Len Komoroski.  “Today, we are proud to unveil a team identity that is very much the result of a collaborative process between our organization and the great fans here.”

“We’re very excited about this and we think Charge is not only a great name for the team, but it can also help reflect an attitude and mindset for our entire community. Canton is charging ahead in multiple ways, and we’re working hard to make our future better and better,” said Canton Mayor Healy.

Extensive research was conducted to best determine the team identity by inviting fan input and direction in various forms. Thousands submitted their thoughts and ideas online via the team’s official website – www.CantonCharge.com and social media outlets. Fan focus groups and fan-on-the-street interviews also took place. Questions were answered, opinions were shared and fan direction was clear— it was very important to establish the close connection between Canton’s new NBA D-League team and the Cavaliers. A bond was easily seen and sensed. Fans wanted the team’s brand to translate the passion they already had for the Cavaliers and at the same time, to create a team identity that reflected great pride and energy in an aggressive way.

“Our fans spoke. We listened, and then we let their input and direction serve as the guiding element for our development process,” said Cavaliers CMO and team identity development process leader Tracy Marek. “It was a fun process and we think we ended up with a great name, logo and colors that represent what the team, the fans and the community collectively wanted. To CHARGE ahead!”

The goal was also to have the new team’s identity fit well with Canton’s strong history of being a passionate and supportive sports community. “There is a great partnership and momentum that can be created when a community, a team and fans all charge ahead together in support of each other and I think our business community understands how important and exciting this can be,” said Greater Canton Chamber of Commerce President Denny Saunier. “We look forward to being part of the fun and seeing the positive impact the Charge will have here.”

The Charge begins their inaugural season at the Canton Memorial Civic Center on Friday, November 25th at 7:30 p.m. against the defending NBA D-League Champion Iowa Energy. Individual game tickets will go on-sale in early November. Season tickets for the Canton Charge are on sale now and start as low as $5 per seat.

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“I just think that … the players should bow down,” Rodman said. “They should bow down. In 1999 we (were locked out) and we missed half the season. The owners bowed down then. They gave the players everything. I think the players should do the same thing for the owners because today most of these teams are losing money. It’s not the players’ fault. It’s the owners’ fault. I think they should give a little bit and move on.”

Rodman insists he’s not taking the owners’ side in all of this but it’s apparent he doesn’t believe today’s NBA player deserves the kind of money he is getting.

“I don’t think they work that hard because most of the players don’t give a damn about the game. They want the money. I’m not taking the owners’ side, I just think the players should look at themselves. ‘OK, I’m making $16-million or $17-million a year but what have I accomplished?’ Most of the players haven’t accomplished anything. That’s what you have to look at.”

– Reported by Mike Ganter of the Toronto Sun

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People who are paying in installments for their 2011-12 Orlando Magic season tickets and partial plans have been given a reprieve by the team.

This afternoon, the team sent e-mails to those customers to say their next payment won’t be due until a new collective bargaining agreement between the league and the players’ union has been reached.

Team officials would not comment. NBA Commissioner David Stern has told all league and team employees that they will be fined heavily if they talk about the league’s labor dispute.

– Reported by Alex Martins of the Orlando Sentinel Blog

Commissioner David Stern said his “gut” tells him there will be no NBA games on Christmas Day without a labour agreement by Tuesday.

That day, when owners and players are scheduled to meet with a federal mediator, is a “really big deal,” he added.

Owners will then open two days of board meetings Wednesday, and without an agreement by then Stern believes further cancellations are coming.

“Right now, Tuesday, Tuesday, Tuesday, just before my owners come into town, having brought in the labour relations committee and Billy (Hunter) having brought in his executive committee, it’s time to make the deal,” Stern said Thursday. “If we don’t make it on Tuesday, my gut — this is not in my official capacity of cancelling games — (feeling) is that we won’t be playing on Christmas Day.”

Stern cancelled the first two weeks of the regular season on Monday when the sides couldn’t reach a deal before a deadline he had set.

– Reported by the Associated Press

Manu Ginobili suffers minor ankle sprain

manu ginobili

Manu Ginobili is hobbling around his Argentinian home after suffering a slightly sprained right ankle earlier this week.

The Argentinian paper La Nueva Provencia reports today that Ginobili sustained the injury while working out with several members of the Argentinian national team during a pickup game in Bahia Blanca, Argentina. (Hat tip: Project Spurs.com)

The injury, which is not considered serious, apparently occurred when Ginobili landed awkwardly on his ankle after attempting a 3-point shot.

– Reported by Tim Griffin of the San Antonio Express-News Blog

dirk nowitzki

Mavericks owner Mark Cuban, after careful deliberation, has decided that the Mavericks will receive championship rings for their title that was won in June.

By “careful deliberation,” we mean it probably came after one night of partying with the players after the Miami series. Back when those things were legal.

As you recall, Cuban had an off-the-cuff remark after the championship series against Miami that he thought rings had become too old-school for this day and age.

– Reported by Eddie Sefko of Dallas Morning News Blog

InsideHoops.com editor says: Mavs players would have probably revolted had they not gotten a conventional championship ring. Now they can breathe easy.

Tiger Woods bummed out by NBA lockout

Tiger Woods, when asked about the NBA lockout:

“Yeah, of course I’m bummed,” he said. “I think anybody who is an NBA fan is certainly bummed. I know that probably one person who is happy is probably Doc Rivers. I mean, with the age of his team, it’s nice for them to only play half-a-season. It’s true. It’s a fact, come on.”

Woods then shifted gears to the his hometown team.

“But as far as us out west, I’m looking forward to the Lakers getting back there and we’ll see what they do,” he continued. “The problem is, you can’t talk to anybody. You can’t see who is potentially on the block of being traded, what kind of deals can we do? Nothing can be happening.

“So as a fan, it’s disconcerting because I’m excited about what we could add to the team, but it’s also I understand this is business, and everyone in this business wants to make money. I know the owners were losing a bunch of money, and some of the markets were feeling the effects. They can’t draw certain players, so they’re just trying to make it fair for everybody so everybody can win.”

– Reported by Jessica Camerato of CSNNE.com

Thabo Sefolosha

Turkish champion Fenerbahce Ulker strengthened itself on the wings with the signing of Thabo Sefolosha, who is among the game’s premier defensive players. Sefolosha (1.99 meters, 27 years old) arrives from Oklahoma City of the NBA, where he averaged 5.1 points, 4.4 rebounds and 1.2 steals over 79 games as a starter last season. He has played a total of five seasons in the NBA between Chicago and Oklahoma City and appeared in 367 regular season games. Sefolosha began his professional career with Tege Riviera Basket in his native Switzerland before joining Elan Chalon in France. He spent two seasons there between 2003 and 2005 and took part in the Eurocup both seasons.

– Reported by Euroleague.net

InsideHoops.com editor says: I assume he has an out-clause to return to the NBA when the lockout ends.

carmelo anthony

Carmelo Anthony revealed the severity of his left elbow and right knee surgeries yesterday and confessed he didn’t want it out in the public after it was performed in early May.

Anthony said he had loose chips removed from his left elbow and a broken-bone fragment cleaned out from his left knee.

“Something I like to keep off the radar,” Anthony said on WFAN’s “Boomer & Carton” show on why he kept it secret until late September. “I just wanted to go in there and get it done and not have a big movie surrounding that. Eventually it came out. It came out when I was healthy.” …

The Knicks normally announce their players’ surgeries. But the club needed permission from Anthony because of recent medical disclosure laws, and got denied.

– Reported by Marc Berman of the New York Post

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