Archive for June 19th, 2013

Jay-Z is now a licensed NBA agent

Will Jay-Z actually represent clients of his newly built sports agency Roc Nation Sports in contract negotiations?

Ron Berkowitz, a spokesman for Roc Nation Sports, confirmed to ESPN.com that, as of this week, Jay-Z is now licensed to work as an NBA agent. Juan Perez, president of Roc Nation Sports, also is now certified with the National Basketball Players Association.

The news was first reported by the Sports Business Journal.

What’s not clear is how soon Jay-Z actually can represent players. A source close to the situation said that, as of Wednesday, the hip-hop mogul had not sold his small share (less than 1 percent) of the Brooklyn Nets.

Reported by Darren Rovell of ESPN.com

Toronto Raptors add CBA expert to staff

The Toronto Raptors named Bobby Webster as vice president of basketball management and strategy, the team announced Wednesday.

Webster worked for the NBA in New York for the past seven years. His most recent position was associate director of salary cap management.

“I am delighted to have Bobby join our basketball operations team,” Raptors president and general manager Masai Ujiri said. “His skill set will be valuable in a number of areas, and his experience and knowledge of the CBA and its complexities from a League level will be a great asset to the organization.”

– Reported by the Sports Xchange

Tim Duncan is used to pressure

After 17 seasons in the National Basketball Association (NBA), San Antonio Spurs evergreen power forward Tim Duncan has already seen it all.

The 37-year has scaled the heights of the NBA, winning four titles and two league Most Valuable Player awards, and nothing fazes him, not even the prospect of facing the top-seeded Miami Heat in a decisive seventh game of the championship series.

While many players, including Miami’s LeBron James, have confessed to feeling nervous about Thursday’s do-or-die encounter, Duncan was nonchalant about the enormity of the contest.

“I prepare for every game exactly the same,” he said. “That’s why I feel every game is exactly the same. Obviously the pressure is there, the stage is there, the energy is there but preparation doesn’t change.”

– Reported by Julian Linden of Reuters

Utah Jazz President Randy Rigby announced today the return of Hall of Fame coach Jerry Sloan to the franchise as a senior basketball adviser.

In this role, Sloan will support the Jazz basketball operations and coaching staff through player evaluations at workouts, camps, and summer league; limited pro and regional college scouting; occasional practice observation; and as host of an annual prep and college coaches clinic.

“The basketball knowledge and experience that Jerry brings is invaluable, and his insights will help in our pursuit of becoming a championship-caliber team,” said Rigby. “We are pleased to formally welcome Jerry back into the organization as an adviser.”

“I am glad Jerry is going to continue to be involved with our organization,” said Jazz head coach Tyrone Corbin. “We will benefit from his wealth of basketball experience. I am looking forward to his continued contributions.”

“In my new role with the Jazz franchise, I hope to help the basketball operations staff and Ty in any way that I can to achieve their goals,” said Sloan. “I would like to thank the Miller family for the opportunity to be part of the organization again.”

During his 23 seasons as head coach of the Jazz (1988-2011), Sloan guided the Jazz to 19 playoff appearances, two NBA Finals (1997, 1998), seven division titles, a streak of 16 consecutive winning seasons (1988-2004), 13 seasons with 50-plus wins and three with 60-plus wins. Sloan was inducted into the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame on Sept. 11, 2009.

Toronto Raptors President and General Manager, Basketball Operations Masai Ujiri announced Wednesday that Head Coach Dwane Casey will return for the 2013-14 season.

“I’m excited about moving forward and growing this team with Coach Casey,” said Ujiri.

Casey is in the final year of a contract extension signed following the 2011-12 campaign.

An announcement will be made in the future regarding the club’s assistant coaching staff.

Ray Allen

Ray Allen hears it every day.

By every day, he really means it.

Not one single 24-hour period goes by without someone referring to him as “Jesus Shuttlesworth, the movie character that still outshines his basketball career. The nickname was fitting considering he answered his teammates’ prayers by making a 3-pointer in the closing seconds Tuesday that helped the Miami Heat force Thursday’s Game 7 against the San Antonio Spurs in the NBA Finals.

As expected, the credit for saving the Heat was given to the player who signed with the fictional Big State University in “He Got Game.”

Not Ray Allen.

“I’m fine with it,” Allen said after Wednesday’s media availability. “Everyone calls me Jesus. It’s expected. I’m pretty much used to it.”

Reported by Shandel Richardson of the South Florida Sun-Sentinel

This season has been the most vocal for Miami Heat center Chris Bosh in the media.

He got even louder during Wednesday’s interview session when the topic turned to fan behavior. Bosh voiced his displeasure with the fans who left Game 6 against the San Antonio Spurs of the NBA Finals with the Heat trailing by five with 28 seconds remaining.

Miami rallied to tie before winning in overtime to force a Game 7 Thursday at AmericanAirlines Arena.

“For all those guys who left, make sure they don’t come to game 7,” Bosh said. “We only want the guys that are going to stay in the building for the whole game. You never give up. People gave up on us. They can stay where they are and watch the game at home.”

Reported by Shandel Richardson of the South Florida Sun-Sentinel

mark jackson

Mark Jackson is the Zen Don Nelson — similar Warriors success, much less frantic financial agitation.

So: Jackson is not going to scheme for a bigger, longer contract this summer after leading the Warriors to a surprise playoff run, though that’s exactly what Nelson did after the franchise’s previous postseason berth.

If a new deal for Jackson comes before the season starts, then fine.

If it doesn’t (and Jackson said there have been no serious talks as of yet this offseason) … well, Jackson might not be 100 percent thrilled with that, but he almost certainly won’t stage a Nelson-style holdout.

“I’m thrilled to have a job and to coach this group of guys — and with great ownership, a great front office and fan base,” Jackson said from Los Angeles in a phone interview Tuesday.

“I’m a guy with great faith. I know it’ll work out. So I don’t get caught up in it. This isn’t standard ‘coach line.’ It’s the truth. It’ll work out. I do know that.”

The reality is that Jackson is signed through next season, and the Warriors have a team option for 2014-15.

Reported by Tim Kawakami of the San Jose Mercury News

sacramento kings

Shortly after the Kings announced the hiring of general manager Pete D’Alessandro, the restructuring of the organization’s business and basketball departments resumed.

As expected, several employees who worked under basketball president Geoff Petrie were released, including his son, assistant basketball vice president Mike Petrie, basketball vice president Wayne Cooper, scouting director Scotty Stirling, video coordinator Joe Cook, security guard Joe Nolan, property manager Steve Schmidt and administrative assistant Sheli Gottlieb.

The biggest surprise might have been media relations spokesman Devin Blankenship, a native Sacramentan who had been with the franchise for 13 years.

During the final months of the Maloofs’ majority ownership, when employees were fleeing by the dozens, anticipating a move to Seattle instead of a sale to the Vivek Ranadive group that meant the team would stay in Sacramento, Blankenship earned praise for his consistently helpful and professional manner.

Reported by Jason Jones of the Sacramento Bee

ray allen

Danny Green left his man and lunged for the rebound. Tony Parker was a step late in recovery.

Together, the breakdowns gave Ray Allen a half-a-breath of space.

More than enough to play the hero — and save the Heat’s season.

Allen’s game-tying, physics-defying — and possibly career-defining — shot happened fast.

The scramble for a loose ball. Allen’s moonwalk to the perfect spot, just beyond the three-point line. And his impossibly quick catch-and-release.

Yet, as he told it later, the bucket was the result of a lifetime of practice.

“Believe it or not, I work on it quite often,” said Allen, who finished Miami’s 103-100 Game 6 Houdini act victory against San Antonio with 9 points, including two critical free throws in overtime. “I try to put my body in precarious situations coming from different parts of the floor, different angles to try to get my momentum going forward.

“When it went in, I was ecstatic,” he added. “But at the same time I was expecting to make it.”

Reported by Adam H. Beasley of the Miami Herald

lebron james

What a game, and how lucky we all were to witness it. LeBron James called it the best game he has ever played in. For me, it was the greatest game I’ve ever covered and I felt honored to be there covering it for The Herald and South Florida sports fans. James’ triple-double, his fourth in an NBA Finals, seemed like a minor footnote when it was all over. That’s how amazing and layered and thrilling Game 6 felt. James finished with 32 points to go along with 10 rebounds and 11 assists. He had 23 points in the second half and 16 in the fourth, carrying the Heat all the way to the finish line and setting the stage for Allen’s heroics.

James’ two turnovers in the final minute will be a focal point, but don’t let that take away from his amazing effort. After three-pointers by Mario Chalmers and Mike Miller to begin the fourth quarter, James willed the Heat back into the game. There were so many incredible moments tonight, but, for James, his block against Tim Duncan in the fourth will be a cherished moment if the Heat wins Game 7.

If the Heat wins Game 7…That’s what it’s all about now. Game 6 was unbelievable but Game 7 of the NBA Finals will top it just by simply being a Game 7. These moments come around once in a lifetime, Heat fans. Enjoy it. Savor it. Seriously, who’s going to sleep between now and then? Probably not me.

Reported by Joseph Goodman of the Miami Herald (Blog)

dwyane wade

LeBron James had to dig deep to help salvage the Heat season and ward off another offseason of undeserved vitriol, and he had to do it mostly without his right-hand man, Dwyane Wade.

Despite a shaky first three quarters, James finished with a triple-double of 32  points, 10 rebounds and 11 assists to lead the Heat to a wild 103-100 overtime victory and force a Game 7 for the NBA championship on Thursday.

Wade, who despite a balky knee was coming off back-to-back games of 32 and 25 points, but clearly retweaked his sore left knee in an early first-quarter collison with Manu Ginobili.

Wade needed extended treatment during halftime and didn’t enter the game in the third quarter until 2:22 had expired with the Heat down five points. He finished with a pedestrian 14 points on 6-of-15 from the field with four rebounds, four assists and three turnovers.

“Yes,” Wade responded to a reporter asking if he hurt his knee. “Nothing, that we’re going to talk about.”

Reported by Harvey Fialkov of the South Florida Sun-Sentinel

lebron james

LeBron James saved a championship reign, canceled a celebration.

The toughest part now might be topping this performance in Game 7.

”It’s by far the best game I’ve ever been a part of,” James said.

He wouldn’t let the Miami Heat lose it - or their NBA title.

If the San Antonio Spurs want that, they’ll have to fight just a little harder to get it. One last game, winner take all.

James powered Miami to a frantic fourth-quarter rally and overtime escape as the Heat beat the Spurs 103-100 on Tuesday night to extend the NBA Finals as far as they can go and keep Miami’s repeat chances alive.

Losing his headband but keeping his cool while playing the entire second half and overtime, James finished with 32 points, 10 rebounds and 11 assists, making the go-ahead basket with 1:43 remaining in the extra period…

Tim Duncan

Tim Duncan scored 30 points for the Spurs, his most in an NBA Finals game since Game 1 in 2003, but was shut out after the third quarter. He added 17 rebounds…

James was just 3 of 12 after three quarters, the Heat trailing by 10 and frustration apparent among the players and panic setting in among the fans.

Nothing to worry about. Not with James playing like this.

He finished 11 of 26, even making a steal after his basket had given Miami a 101-100 edge in the OT…

Kawhi Leonard had 22 points and 11 rebounds for the Spurs. Tony Parker had 19 points and eight assists, but shot just 6 of 23 from the field…

Danny Green finished 1 of 5 from behind the arc after going 25 of 38 on 3-pointers (65.8 percent) in the first five games.

Reported by Brian Mahoney of the Associated Press

Basketball blog