Archive for December, 2011

THE FOLLOWING IS FROM MADISON SQUARE GARDEN

Despite MSG Media’s attempts to engage Time Warner Cable in good faith negotiations for nearly two years, no agreement is expected to be reached for Time Warner Cable to continue to carry MSG Network and MSG Plus.  Therefore, as of midnight tonight, MSG Network and MSG+ will be dropped from the Time Warner Cable channel lineup, and New York area sports fans will miss exclusive local live coverage of the Knicks, Rangers, Islanders, Devils and Sabres.

“We are disappointed that MSG and MSG Plus will be dropped from Time Warner Cable’s lineup,” said Michael Bair, president, MSG Media.  ”All we have asked is for Time Warner Cable to value our programming in the same way as other TV providers — nothing more, nothing less. Unfortunately, they rejected every offer we made to them for almost two years.   In the end, they were simply not interested in conducting serious negotiations on behalf of their customers and instead spent their time grossly mischaracterizing our positions to the public. We certainly hope Time Warner Cable returns to the negotiating table and reconsiders our good faith proposals.  Until that happens, we encourage Time Warner Cable subscribers to switch providers by calling 888-keepmsg (533-7674) or visiting keepmsg.com.”

“Given Time Warner Cable’s reportedly record-setting $5 billion investment in Los Angeles Lakers rights, we expected that they would be eager to continue to deliver top New York sports programming to their customers, who are unfortunately caught in the middle of this dispute,” added Bair. “And they’ve stated publicly that they’re committed to broadening their investment in local sports.  Yet they’re about to drop some of New York’s most popular sports programming - what does that say to New York sports fans?”

There is significant enthusiasm around MSG’s teams and programming.  Knicks ratings were up more than 100% last season and are already up this year, the Rangers are enjoying double-digit increases over the same period last season, the Sabres are the highest rated American team in the NHL, and there are passionate fan bases for the Islanders and Devils.  MSG and MSG Plus telecast nearly 400 live NBA and NHL games a year, and nearly 700 live games a year, including games from the WNBA’s New York Liberty and Major League Soccer’s New York Red Bulls.  MSG Networks also airs WFAN’s popular Boomer and Carton show, hundreds of college basketball and college football games from the nation’s best conferences, as well as award-winning original programming.  MSG has won more New York Emmy Awards than any network or station in the area over the past four years, and with MSG Plus has collected 63 in total over that time frame.

Andrei Kirilenko

CSKA Moscow announced on Saturday that injured forward Andrei Kirilenko will rejoin the team on January 3 after missing six weeks with injury and deciding to activate his option to stay with the Russian champions through the rest of the Turkish Airlines Euroleague season. Kirilenko (30 years old, 2.06 meters) was the Euroleague’s top performer until he suffered a broken nose, concussion and shoulder injury halway through the regular season. Kirilenko, who had played three seasons for CSKA until age 20, returned to the club last summer. His contract with CSKA gave him the option to leave before the start of the Top 16. Kirilenko was named the bwin MVP for October and was bwin MVP of the week twice in the first five games while averaging 13.8 points, 9 rebounds, 3.4 assists. 2.2 steals and 3.2 blocks. He was leading the Euroleague in both rebounds and blocks when he suffered a freak fall in a Russian League game in November.

– Reported by Euroleague.net

Mickael Pietrus

Danny Ainge said Mickael Pietrus should be ready for game action by the middle of January after July knee surgery.

“It feels great [to be in Boston],’’ Pietrus said. “Since I have been in the NBA, my goal has always been to win a championship, and I have a chance to win one so I’m going to give it everything I’ve got with my new teammates. So hopefully at the end of the year, we get what we want.’’

Pietrus injured his right knee in March while playing for the Phoenix Suns. The Suns were close to trading him to the Raptors earlier this month, but Toronto called off the deal when Pietrus’s knee did not test at full strength.

“The knee is getting better every day,’’ he said. “Getting treatment with the trainer. They don’t want to put me out there right away because they know that the team really needs me, and I really need them, too.’’

– Reported by Gary Washburn of the Boston Globe

Kobe Bryant

Los Angeles Lakers guard Kobe Bryant might be playing with a torn ligament in his right wrist, but at least his chronically bothersome right knee is in great shape.

“It’s as close to 100 percent as it’s going to get,” said Bryant before the Lakers hosted the New York Knicks on Thursday.

Bryant, usually loathsome to discuss his injuries and protective that his medical procedures are kept private, opened up about his health status when asked about New York Yankees slugger Alex Rodriguez’s recent trip to Germany to be treated by the same physician that Bryant visited in the offseason.

“I gave him the phone number,” Bryant said, revealing he recommended Peter Wehling to treat the Yankee star’s knee and shoulder after experiencing success when his own right knee and left ankle were treated by Wehling. “I just told him it made a huge difference for me. I’m 95 percent better, if not to say 100.”

It was the fourth procedure that Bryant, 33, has undergone on the knee since 2003, but it was less invasive than other surgeries, as it centered around blood manipulation rather than removing any loose bodies or frayed ligaments.

While the 16-year veteran is reporting a clean bill of health when it comes to his knee, the wrist remains a work in progress.

– Reported by Dave McMenamin of ESPN Los Angeles

Andrew Bynum returns big for Lakers

Andrew Bynum

Andrew Bynum had 29 points and 13 rebounds in his season debut following a four-game suspension that carried over from the playoffs, and the Los Angeles Lakers beat the Denver Nuggets 92-89 Saturday.

Bynum shot 13 for 18, helping the Lakers win their third straight following the team’s first 0-2 start since 2002-03.

The 7-foot center was suspended without pay for the first four games of the season because of a flagrant foul against Dallas’ J.J. Barea in Game 4 of the Western Conference semifinals. The original ban was five games, but was reduced on Dec. 23 as a result of a shortened schedule caused by the NBA lockout.

Bynum totaled 41 points and 23 rebounds in two preseason games against the Clippers.

– Reported by the Associated Press

Hamed Haddadi

The Memphis Grizzlies signed center Hamed Haddadi, Grizzlies General Manager and Vice President of Basketball Operations Chris Wallace announced today.  Per team policy, terms of the deal were not disclosed.

The first Iranian ever to play in the NBA, Haddadi (7-2, 265) averaged 2.4 points, 2.2 rebounds and 0.42 blocks in 5.4 minutes in 31 games last season with the Grizzlies.  The 26-year-old Ahvaz native holds NBA career averages of 2.2 points, 2.2 rebounds and 0.45 blocks in 6.1 minutes in 86 contests over three seasons in Memphis.

A longtime member of the Iranian National Team, Haddadi led Iran to an 8-1 record at the 2011 FIBA Asian Championship in Wuhan, China, averaging 15.4 points, 11.4 rebounds and 2.89 blocks in 26.3 minutes with six double-doubles in nine games during the 2011 tournament.

New-look Hornets off to solid start

After a shortened training camp with nine new players, it was presumed Hornets Coach Monty Williams would need more time to fully implement his defensive principles. But Williams says his players are quick studies after going through extended video sessions and walk-throughs in practice. And they’re producing results.

The Hornets (2-0) are emerging as a tough-minded defensive team. In Wednesday’s night’s 97-78 victory against the Boston Celtics at the New Orleans Arena, New Orleans had 12 blocked shots.

In their season-opening 85-84 victory at Phoenix on Monday night, the Hornets limited the Suns to 39.5 percent shooting and 19 points in the fourth quarter.

It’s still early, but the Hornets are second in the NBA in fewest points allowed per game (81.0) and field-goal percentage allowed (38.4).

– Reported by John Reid of the New Orleans Times-Picayune

New Jersey Nets change starting lineup

Avery Johnson

Nets coach Avery Johnson just announced he is making two changes to his starting lineup for the third game of the season tonight against Dwight Howard and the Orlando Magic.

Sundiata Gaines will start in the backcourt with Deron Williams, and Mehmet Okur will start at the center position. Anthony Morrow and Johan Petro have been bumped to the bench.

Johnson said he made the change mainly because the team has started poorly in its first two games of the season, at Washington on Monday and against Atlanta in the home opener Tuesday.

– Reported by Colin Stephenson of the Newark Star-Ledger

michael Jordan

Michael Jordan is engaged to longtime girlfriend Yvette Prieto, a Cuban-American model he’s been dating for three years.

Publicist Estee Portnoy confirmed the news, first reported by WCNC in Charlotte, on Thursday.

The Bobcats owner got engaged over the Christmas weekend. No wedding date has been set.

– Reported by Steve Reed of the Associated Press

Memphis Grizzlies waive Brian Skinner

Brian Skinner

The Memphis Grizzlies waived forward/center Brian Skinner, Grizzlies General Manager and Vice President of Basketball Operations Chris Wallace announced today.

Skinner (6-9, 255), who originally signed with Memphis on Dec. 10, appeared in one regular season game with the Grizzlies, logging four minutes on Dec. 26 at San Antonio.

The 35-year-old Baylor product holds career averages of 4.7 points and 4.7 rebounds in 608 games (197 starts) over 14 NBA seasons with the Los Angeles Clippers, Cleveland Cavaliers, Philadelphia 76ers, Milwaukee Bucks, Sacramento Kings, Portland Trail Blazers, Phoenix Suns and Memphis Grizzlies.

Deron Williams

Deron Williams didn’t want to even address it, but Dwight Howard didn’t mind admitting that, yes, he and Williams went out to dinner Wednesday night when Williams arrived in town with the Nets.

“Since he’s been in the league, every time he comes to town, we go eat dinner and just kick it,” Howard said after the Magic’s shootaround today. “We’ve been friends since the Olympics, and so we go out to eat, have a bite.”

Earlier, Williams had stammered and said, “I don’t even know — I really don’t,” when asked if he had dinner with Howard.

– Reported by Colin Stephenson of the Newark Star-Ledger

Boston Celtics off to 0-3 start

Rajon Rondo

It’s too early to panic, but the Boston Celtics haven’t looked good early on in the 2011-12 NBA season, losing their first three games.

There is no cause for alarm just yet, because all three games were on the road, and the team has been without small forward Paul Pierce.

One surprise, though, is that opponents of the Celtics have shot 49.6% from the field and 45.2% from three-point range in the three games. Opponents have also gotten far more steals and blocks. Boston is supposed to be a top defensive team. That hasn’t been the case, yet.

A bright spot has been the play of Rajon Rondo, who in three games is averaging 22.0 points, 5.0 rebounds, 10.3 assists and 2.0 steals per game. Also, Ray Allen’s been swishing his shots. And new addition Brandon Bass has been solid.

But, Kevin Garnett hasn’t been impressive. And there isn’t much help on the bench.

Keep an eye on Boston in the near future, especially once Pierce is back in action.

Phoenix Suns sign guard Michael Redd

michael redd

The Phoenix Suns have signed former All-Star guard Michael Redd, the team announced today. According to the Associated Press, it is “a one-year deal for the veteran’s minimum of about $1.3 million.”

“Michael Redd has a proven pedigree as a first-rate NBA scorer,” said Suns President of Basketball Operations Lon Babby.  “He will work with our renowned training staff to get into basketball shape.  When he is ready to play, Michael will be a welcome addition to our team.”

An 11-year NBA veteran, Redd developed from an undervalued second-round pick into one of the most prolific scorers in the NBA over the last decade.  A 6-6, 220-pound guard, he was originally the 43rd overall pick (second round) of the 2000 NBA Draft by the Milwaukee Bucks, with whom he spent all 11 of his professional seasons.  Redd joins the Suns with career averages of 20.0 points, one of only 12 active players averaging 20 or more, 4.0 rebounds and 2.3 assists in 578 games (427 starts).  Redd is a career 44.9-percent shooter overall, including 38.3 percent from three-point range, and owns 1,003 career threes, one of just nine players in NBA history to make 1,000 three-pointers with a single team.

Injuries have destroyed Redd’s career in recent years. He played just 53 games for the Bucks in 2006-07, 72 games the following season, but just 33 games in 2008-09, 18 games in 2009-10, and just 10 games in 2010-11.

An All-Star and All-NBA Third Team selection in 2004, Redd has ranked in the top-11 in the NBA in scoring on five different occasions (2004, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2008), and averaged 20 or more points in six-straight seasons from 2003-09.  In fact, only 10 NBA players scored more total points in that span, a list that includes Kobe Bryant, LeBron James, Dirk Nowitzki, Allen Iverson, Vince Carter, Carmelo Anthony, Paul Pierce, Dwyane Wade, Kevin Garnett and Joe Johnson.  A former Eastern Conference Player of the Month (January 2004) and two-time Player of the Week (Dec. 3, 2006; Dec. 31, 2006) Redd increased his scoring average in each of his first seven NBA campaigns, including a career-high 26.7-point average in 2006-07, fifth-best in the league overall.

A highly-regarded outside shooter, Redd was selected as a member of the “Redeem Team,” the gold-medal winning U.S. Men’s National Team at the 2008 Olympics in Beijing.

Redd played in a total of 61 games over the last three seasons after tearing the ACL and MCL in his left knee on two separate occasions in both 2008-09 and 2009-10.  He returned to play the final 10 games of the 2010-11 season, averaging 4.4 points in 13.4 minutes with Milwaukee.

A native of Columbus, Ohio, Redd was a three-year standout at Ohio State University where he averaged 19.6 points and 6.2 rebounds and was named Honorable Mention All-America as a sophomore and a junior.

Andray Blatche

Andray Blatche approached the scorers’ table to check in the second quarter of the Wizards’ 101-83 defeat at Philips Arena, when a heckler seated nearby decided to give him a hard time. The man shouted, “Have another burger, Dray!”

Blatche looked up, spotted the heckler and replied, “Got one?”

Blatche may have had a decent retort to a detractor, but he and the Wizards didn’t have any such response to the Atlanta Hawks on a night when the Wizards didn’t bother jumping out to an early lead only to get disappointed as they did in the season opener. They simply got down early, came back against the Hawks’ reserves, then went down for good.

Since jumping out to a 21-point lead in the second quarter against the New Jersey Nets in their first game, the Wizards have been outscored by 45 points over their past 79 minutes.

– Via Michael Lee of the Washington Wizards Blog

kevin durant

In his first game back in Memphis since Game 6 of the second round of the playoffs, Durant admitted that his lobbying last month for former Grizzlies forward Shane Battier was real.

“I was dead serious,” said Durant, who used Twitter in late November to attempt to recruit Battier. “I wanted him since last year, after we beat them in the playoffs. I was telling a few of the guys, ‘Shane would be a good fit here for us.’ He was a guy I was looking forward to playing with, but Miami jumped in and took him.”

Durant said he understood why Battier chose to sign with the Heat.

“Let’s be real,” Durant said. “Guys like LeBron (James) and D-Wade and (Chris) Bosh, they’re lobbying for you as well. And it was me and Nazr Mohammed and Nick Collison lobbying for him. And you look at the names there, you look at Miami, the weather and just that whole aura around those guys and of course he’s going to pick them. But it’s a decision that he made for him and his family. You can’t really be upset about it.

“Shane’s an unbelievable player, a great teammate from what I’ve heard. I wish him the best. If he would have come here it would have been perfect for us.”

– Via Darnell Mayberry of The Oklahoman

A nanny and chauffeur who lost their suit against Indiana Pacers owner Herb Simon and his wife have lost even more.

A Los Angeles judge ordered them Wednesday to pay $122,000 in attorney’s fees to the Simons.

The judge ruled in September that the employment suit was groundless, holding that the billionaire and his former beauty queen wife, Bui, were extremely generous with nanny Claudia Leite (lye-TAY’) and chauffeur Robert Young.

– Reported by the Associated Press

Two sports executives have sued former Philadelphia 76ers owner Comcast-Spectacor seeking a $2 million finder’s fee over the team’s October sale.

Plaintiffs Robert Whitsitt and Thomas Shine say they introduced investor Jason Levien to Comcast-Spectacor chairman Edward Snider at a lunch meeting late last year. They say they were promised $2 million if they found a purchaser and met certain other conditions.

New York-based leveraged buyout specialist Joshua Harris led an ownership group that completed the purchase in October. Levien, a former NBA player agent and Sacramento Kings executive, is one of numerous owners and investors in a group that includes co-managing owner David Blitzer and Hollywood power couple Will and Jada Pinkett Smith.

Whitsitt is the former president of the Seattle Seahawks and Portland Trailblazers. Shine is an executive at Canton, Mass.-based Reebok International Ltd.

– Via Maryclaire Dale of the Associated Press

Kwame Brown sells Playa del Rey home

Kwame Brown

NBA player and former Laker Kwame Brown has sold his house in Playa del Rey for $1.65 million.

The open-floor-plan house had been on and off the market since 2008 when it was listed for sale at $2.999 million or for lease at $12,000 a month. The current listing stated the home had sustained water damage on the main level and needed a new roof, windows, doors and elevator.

Described as a short sale in the listing, the ocean-view contemporary includes four bedrooms and five bathrooms in 6,329 square feet. The breakfast bar can seat up to 10. The basement media room has a built-in projector, screen and a wet bar.

– Via Lauren Beale of the Los Angeles Times

Phoenix Suns want to push the tempo

The Phoenix Suns’ 85-84 loss on opening night to the New Orleans Hornets made Planet Orange’s eyes bleed. A fan base accustomed to a potent offense isn’t used to seeing the Suns struggle through a game with fewer than 90 points. Head coach Alvin Gentry has a solution.

“We got to become more of a running team,” said Gentry after shoot around on Wednesday. “We’re not a running team, we’re a jogging team. We’re not good as a jogging team; we got to find a way to manufacture easy baskets and not to have to work so hard in half-court sets.

Phoenix shot 38% from the field in half-court sets Monday night.

– Via Bryan Gibberman of Arizona Sports

Greg Ostertag

Greg Ostertag, one of the best basketball players to come out of Duncanville and an 11-year NBA veteran, will begin a comeback Thursday night with the Texas Legends that he hopes will lead to the NBA.

The National Basketball Development League team based in Frisco came to an agreement with the 7-2 Ostertag this afternoon and he will make his debut Thursday against Rio Grande Valley in a home game at Dr Pepper Arena.

He’s also expected to play Friday against Tulsa.

Ostertag spent most of his NBA career with the Utah Jazz and was one of the most the best shot-blockers in the league, swatting a shot every 11.4 minutes of playing time.

“I missed playing,” Ostertag said. “I shouldn’t have quit when I did and I feel like I got to give it one last shot to see if I can make it happen.

– Via Eddie Sefko of the Dallas Morning News Blog

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