NBA will donate Jason Collins Nets jersey sales to GLSEN and Matthew Shepard Foundation

The National Basketball Association (NBA) announced today that it will donate all proceeds – not to be less than $100,000 – from the sale of Jason Collins Brooklyn Nets jerseys to the Gay, Lesbian & Straight Education Network (GLSEN) and the Matthew Shepard Foundation. In addition, the league will auction off Collins’ autographed, game-worn jerseys to benefit the same organizations.

Collins became the first openly gay, active male athlete from one of the four major North American professional team sports on Feb. 23, after signing with his original team, the Nets. Since he was added to the roster, Collins’ jersey rose to the No. 1 spot on the top-selling jersey list at Collins chose to wear the number “98” in honor of Matthew Shepard, a college student who was murdered in 1998 after being targeted for being openly gay.

“I’m thrilled to work with the league to support two fantastic organizations, both of which work tirelessly to ensure LGBT youth get the resources and assistance they need to be successful in life,” said Brooklyn Nets Center Jason Collins.

The NBA has a long history of supporting the LGBT community including partnerships with GLSEN, GLAAD and Athlete Ally and was the recipient of the 2012 Commitment to Diversity & Inclusion Award at the GLSEN Respect Awards. In addition, Jason Collins received the 2013 Courage Award at the 10th annual GLSEN Respect Awards and Denver Nuggets star Kenneth Faried was awarded the 2012 J. Walter Kennedy Citizenship Award, in part because of his relationship to Athlete Ally and his work championing equality and bringing awareness to the importance of respect and inclusion.

Dallas Mavericks have tough upcoming schedule

Here’s ESPN Dallas reporting on the Mavericks, who have enjoyed great success this month but have a tougher schedule going forward:

Dirk Nowitzki

We might find out what the Mavs are made of over the next eight games, starting with Friday night’s home game against the rugged Chicago Bulls.

“The competition gets tougher,” coach Rick Carlisle said. “So it’s more physical, it’s harder to score, it’s harder to get stops. You’ve got to be that much more tied together, you’ve got to be that much more efficient and you’ve got to have that much more concentration on the boards.”

The Mavs will see only two sub-.500 opponents over that stretch, and both of those games are on the road. The other six games feature matchups against the top three teams in the West standings (Thunder, San Antonio Spurs and Portland Trail Blazers), a rematch with the Pacers and a visit to the Golden State Warriors that could have significant playoff-seeding implications.

“This stretch we’ve got coming up is pretty tough, a lot of good teams, some of them on the road, so it should be a good test,” Nowitzki said.

Celtics: Ainge, Rondo clear the air

Here’s the Boston Globe blog on the Celtics clearing up an issue that will apparently mostly stay internal:

Danny Ainge, Rajon Rondo clear the air

Celtics president of basketball operations Danny Ainge said he has cleared the air with point guard Rajon Rondo about his absence from the team trip to Sacramento to remain in Los Angeles and attend a birthday celebration in his honor.

Ainge would not reveal whether Rondo had been disciplined or fined but said the situation has been resolved. Rondo, who was not supposed to play against the Kings, did not travel to Sacramento with his teammates, instead meeting the team in Salt Lake City on Sunday. Rondo has played in the past two games and told reporters his plans were his “business. Not yours.”

“It was between Rondo and I and I learned some things that I didn’t know and we had a lot conversation about it and I’m satisfied with it,” he told the Globe. “He learned from it, too. Let’s move on.”

Season should stay tough for 76ers

Here’s the Philadelphia Inquirer reporting on the badly-struggling Sixers, who do not see light at the end of the rainbow — at least while the season is still going on:

Thirteen of their remaining 24 games are against teams that would be in the playoffs if the season had concluded Wednesday.

Five other games come against teams – the Memphis Grizzlies (twice), New York Knicks (twice), and Detroit Pistons – that could still make a playoff push.

On paper, the Sixers’ best opportunities are against the Orlando Magic and the Boston Celtics. They’ll face the Magic on Sunday at the Amway Center. The Sixers (15-43) will travel to Boston on April 4 before hosting the Celtics on April 14.

Fans are finding out that the Sixers lost a lot in last week’s trades that shipped Spencer Hawes to the Cleveland Cavaliers and Evan Turner and Lavoy Allen to the Indiana Pacers.

As a result, the squad, with a 12-game losing streak, might be hard-pressed to beat even the Magic (18-42) and Celtics (20-39).

LeBron James, still MVP-level

Here’s the South Florida Sun Sentinel reporting on Heat superstar LeBron James, who still has a perfectly good shot at winning another MVP award even as Kevin Durant continues to amaze:

LeBron James, still MVP-level

James can say all he wants about how this isn’t about him, how personal accolades are secondary. His teammates, those closest to him, know the deal. And the truth is the reason James put together one of the most impressive months in NBA history is because he wants more.

More MVPs.

“Same thing happened around this time last year,” forward Rashard Lewis said. “It’s that time for him to turn it up … He wants the MVP. The MVP trophy is his and you have to come take it from him.”

At the adjacent locker, teammate Chris Andersen chimed in, “Yea, come get it.” Later across the room, guard Mario Chalmers said, “Of course, he’s going for the MVP.”

Just last month Oklahoma City forward Kevin Durant was all but anointed as the replacement for James, who has won the award four times in five years. Durant owned January, putting up video game-like numbers. The attention shifted. James even played along, saying he followed Durant’s performances on a nightly basis.

On the outside, it was fun. On the inside, it was fire. Motivation for a player who has been the game’s best since 2009.

Pelicans guard Jrue Holiday out for season

Pelicans guard Jrue Holiday out for season

Already facing a tough season with some key injuries, the 23-34 New Orleans Pelicans just lost a key piece to their puzzle.

The Pelicans announced today that guard Jrue Holiday underwent a successful surgery to correct a stress fracture in his right tibia. He will miss the remainder of the season.

In 34 games played for the Pelicans this season, Holiday has averaged 14.3 points, 7.9 assists and 1.6 steals per game in 33.6 minutes. He last appeared for New Orleans on January 8th, 2014 and has missed the ensuing 23 games.

Clippers sign Danny Granger

Clippers sign Danny Granger

The rich get even richer. Roster-wise, at least.

The Los Angeles Clippers announced today that they have signed free agent forward Danny Granger.

Granger, 30, appeared in 29 games (two starts) this season with the Indiana Pacers averaging 8.3 points, 3.6 rebounds and 1.1 assists in 22.6 minutes per game. He played his entire eight-year NBA career with the Pacers. He holds career averages of 17.6 points, 5.1 rebounds and 2.0 assists in 544 games (425 starts) over 32.5 minutes per game.

The New Orleans native has appeared in 22 playoff games (19 starts) throughout his career, averaging 15.6 points, 5.5 rebounds and 2.4 assists over 34.8 minutes per game. Granger’s best season with the Pacers came in 2008-09 when he averaged a career-high 25.8 points to go along with 5.1 rebounds and 2.7 assists while averaging 2.7 three-pointers per game. For his efforts, he was selected to the Eastern Conference All-Star Team and was voted the NBA’s Most Improved Player.

Originally drafted 17th overall in the 2005 NBA Draft, Granger started his collegiate career at Bradley where he played for two seasons. He transferred to the University of New Mexico after his first semester of his sophomore year and played two seasons for the Lobos. A First Team All-Mountain West selection, Granger was the only player in the NCAA that averaged 18.8 points and 8.9 rebounds while also averaging at least 2.0 blocks (2.1), 2.0 steals (2.0) and 2.0 assists (2.0) his senior season.

Boston Celtics lose Gerald Wallace for season

Here’s the Boston Globe reporting on the Celtics, who have already been facing an uphill battle all season and now get even weaker due to injury:

Boston Celtics lose Gerald Wallace for season

There was a time where the Celtics’ roster was loaded with players, depth wasn’t an issue for coach Brad Stevens.

Those days are long gone after an eventful Friday at the team’s practice facility, when Stevens revealed that veteran forward Gerald Wallace has a torn meniscus and bone spurs in his ankle and is out for the season.

Team president of basketball operations Danny Ainge confirmed Wallace is out for the season and will need surgery. He has two more years on his contract. Also, Stevens said Vitor Faverani had a second opinion on his sore left knee and may also need surgery, although Ainge said it was “premature” to assume the burly center will miss the rest of the season.

Struggling Knicks get dropped by Heat

Here’s the New York Times reporting on the Knicks, who on Thursday lost to the Miami Heat. New York is now 21-37 for the season and have lost eight of their last 10 games:

Nobody needed Carmelo Anthony to confirm what everyone already knew. But given his uncertain future with the Knicks, his saying it only added to the angst that has gnawed at this team for months.

“Anything that can go wrong,” he said, “is going wrong.”

Anthony spoke roughly nine hours before the Knicks faced the Miami Heat on Thursday night at American Airlines Arena, and then — true to form in this ramshackle season — the Knicks went about their familiar business of making sure more went wrong.

What made their 108-82 loss more disheartening than usual was that they had a chance against the Heat, the N.B.A.’s two-time defending champions — at least for a while. The Knicks were rebounding and scoring, but the game disintegrated amid a flurry of LeBron James dunks and Dwyane Wade jumpers.

“We just didn’t respond,” Knicks Coach Mike Woodson said, adding, “It was like we stopped playing.”

Anthony scored 24 of his 29 points in the first half and proved incapable of sparing the Knicks from their fifth loss in six games since the All-Star break and their 10th in their last 12 games over all.

Wizards survive 3OT thriller vs Raptors

Here’s the Washington Post blog reporting on the Wizards, who on Thursday won a hard-fought triple-overtime battle against the Toronto Raptors:

Trevor Ariza was plowing through a plate of chicken and vegetables in the locker room after the Wizards completed a 3-hour 32-minute marathon with the Toronto Raptors. Ariza usually takes his time to hit the postgame buffet table after road games, but he was in a hurry to grab some grub on Thursday night. Playing almost 50 minutes will do that.

“Pretty tired. Hungry and tired,” Ariza said, when asked about how he felt after the Wizards survived a highly competitive and physically taxing triple-overtime game and left Air Canada Centre with a 134-129 victory. “It was the longest game in the world. You give it all so at the end of the game you’re totally drained. I was drained.”

The Washington basketball franchise hadn’t played a game that needed three overtimes since the Bullets lost to the Philadelphia 76ers, 110-109, on Nov. 15, 1975 – before all but three current NBA players were born (Steve Nash, Derek Fisher and Ray Allen). Wizards broadcaster Phil Chenier was a member of that Bullets team; he and Wes Unseld each scored 25 points that night. When asked his recollection of that contest in the locker room after Thursday’s game, Chenier said, “I don’t remember any of it.”

Chenier’s broadcast partner Steve Buckhantz let him know the Bullets lost that night, to which he said, “That’s probably why I don’t remember.”