Eastbay is shutting down

Via NPR.org:

Growing up in the 1990s, I was obsessed with the Eastbay catalog. I’d spend hours and hours poring over the latest issue, like a detective combing through mounds of evidence.

I’d closely examine the newest sneakers worn by my favorite athletes – Ken Griffey Jr, Shaquille O’Neal, Deion Sanders – circling my favorite ones.

To me, it was like the Sears catalog, only a lot hipper.

So I was especially bummed out when Eastbay’s parent company, Foot Locker, announced that it would be winding down the brand as part of a company consolidation and ending the catalog.

The last issue has already been sent out, but in its heyday, Eastbay was the place to check out the latest sneakers and sports apparel.

A Drazen Petrovic biopic film is being produced

We’re looking forward to this one. Via Variety.com:

Legendary Croatian-born NBA player Dražen Petrović will be portrayed in Danilo Šerbedžija’s upcoming biopic film “Higher Force – The Drazen Petrovic Story” (working title).

The film was penned by Ivan Turkovic Krnjak (“Lovebox”) and is being produced by Ljubo Zdjelarević and Ivor Šiber at Zagreb-based Kinoteka. The film will shoot next year in Croatia, Germany, and in the U.S. across Portland and New Jersey. It will be released in 2023 on the 30th anniversary of Petrović’ death.

Comcast drops MSG Network from Xfinity channel lineup

A ton of Knicks fans have lost TV access to the team’s games as the season approaches. Hopefully it’s just temporary. Here’s the latest, via the New York Post:

Another promising Knicks season is around the corner – but hundreds of thousands of New Jersey and Connecticut fans may not be able to watch it due to a dispute between MSG Network and Comcast.

According to a Garden release, Comcast has chosen to drop MSG Network from its Xfinity channel lineup “despite our best efforts to reach a new agreement.’’

If the situation drags on, Comcast subscribers will miss 85 percent of Knicks games. MSG Network will broadcast 70 of the 82 contests – with the rest on national networks.

The disagreement will also affect games for the NHL’s Islanders, Rangers and Devils.

Wizards swingman Troy Brown’s lost dog has been found

Good news still happens, people.

Via the Washington Times:

Good news all around: Troy Brown and his dog, Dex, have been reunited.

The Washington Wizards’ wing posted a flyer on Twitter on Saturday night that his 2-year-old Shih Tzu/Poodle mix was missing. He offered a $500 reward for Dex’s return.

Dex had been last seen in the Kalorama neighborhood in the District on Friday night.

I’ve never owned a dog, because when I travel it’s usually for weeks or months at a time, but I can imagine what a miserable experience it would be for a dog to go missing. Glad Troy got Dex back.

Nets are much-improved in TV ratings department

The Nets are rising in the TV ratings department. Via the New York Post:

James Harden hasn’t faced the Knicks in his new Brooklyn uniform but he’s already beating them.

Harden was obtained in a blockbuster trade on Jan. 13, hours before the Nets played the Knicks at the Garden.

The Nets, since Harden’s first game, are averaging 122,000 viewers per game to the Knicks’ 111,000 viewers, based on Nielsen ratings, according to sources.

This isn’t a surprise. The Knicks are playing respectable basketball this season but are in a rebuilding state. While the Nets have three of the NBA’s best and most popular players, are still working out team chemistry, especially on the defensive end, but are focused on competing for the 2021 NBA championship and should certainly make the playoffs.

NBC plans to shut down the NBC Sports Network TV channel

There are all sorts of shifts happening in the world of TV and digital streaming. The latest, via the New York Post:

NBC Universal plans to shutter its sports channel NBCSN by the end of the year, resulting in the NHL having to move its broadcasts to USA Network, the company announced on Friday.

The move is in line with the current media trend of consolidating cable channels, while NBC appears to also be working on growing its Peacock streaming service and bolstering the programming schedule for other NBC properties like USA.

These days, the line between TV stations and online streaming channels is thinner than ever.

Rapper Big Sean named Creative Director of Innovation for Detroit Pistons

The Detroit Pistons today announced that rap star and Detroit-native Big Sean will become the organization’s Creative Director of Innovation.

In this role, Big Sean will provide creative counsel and strategic guidance on a variety of Pistons off-the-court initiatives, including team merchandise design, in-game experience, co-branded community, and social responsibility activation, and more.

To kick off the partnership, Big Sean has added his Don Life logo to the Pistons practice jersey.

“Sean is an accomplished artist, philanthropist and entrepreneur. Having spent time with him and his family I know how deeply he cares about the city of Detroit,” said Pistons Owner Tom Gores. “We share a common desire to use the power of sports and entertainment to improve our community and make a positive impact on people’s lives. I’m excited to see what we can do working together.”

“It’s a dream come true and a real honor to get to work with the iconic Detroit Pistons,” said Big Sean. “I grew up in the city, which naturally made me a fan of the Bad Boys. I would later have a Grant Hill poster on my wall and then, against all odds, would watch the ’04 Pistons go on to win the Championship, inspiring the whole city of Detroit. I look forward to creatively finding new ways to contribute to their legacy and continue their dedication to the community through sports, art, and, of course, music.”

Central to the partnership, the Pistons and the Sean Anderson Foundation will work together and engage Detroiters through future community initiatives and programming.

The six-time Grammy nominee will also curate music for Pistons in-game entertainment, including halftime performances and DJ playlists.

Additionally, Big Sean will participate in creative sessions and spearhead collaborations with the Pistons design team to launch custom merchandise line extensions.

FYI: New Thunder head coach Mark Daigneault is a big Bruce Springsteen fan

The OKC Thunder have a new coach, promoted from within the organization. Here’s the Oklahoman with some personal insight on the man who got the job:

The Thunder’s new boss had a song for his big day.

It was by The Boss.

Mark Daigneault is a huge fan of Bruce Springsteen. Thunder general manager Sam Presti joked that he didn’t hold that fandom against Daigneault, even though the coach talks about the singer all the time. Daigneault has even been known to blast Springsteen tunes during basketball practice.

He was thinking Wednesday, though, about Springsteen’s “Land of Hope and Dreams.”

“Because the first line is, ‘Grab your ticket and your suitcase. Thunder’s rolling down this track,’” he said…

Presti said after nearly two months of searching for a new coach, there were lots of reasons Daigneault was the right person for the job. How he relates to players. How he teaches the game. How he develops the talent.

The big Thunder news lately, aside from this coaching promotion, is that legendary veteran point guard Chris Paul’s name is appearing in lots of trade rumors. Coach Daigneault’s approach to the squad surely depends on if CP3 is still on the roster next season. Because if he isn’t, the team is rebuilding, and all sorts of objectives and expectations will change.

No surprise: Miami Heat doing well in NBA jersey sales since league restart

The Heat are having themself a year. On the court, and in the jersey sales department. Here’s the Miami Herald:

The Heat ranks fourth in team merchandise sales at NBAStore.com since the league restarted the season (from July 30 through Monday), the NBA announced Wednesday.

It marks the first time the Heat has been in the top five in team merchandise sales since the final season of the Big 3 era in 2014, when the roster included Chris Bosh, LeBron James and Dwyane Wade.

The Heat also has a player ranked in the league’s top 10 on the jersey sales list. All-Star forward Jimmy Butler ranks 10th, which was also determined based on NBAStore.com sales from July 30 through Monday.

And the South Florida Sun Sentinel:

The only teams with greater sales over that period were, in order, the Los Angeles Lakers, Boston Celtics and Chicago Bulls. The Heat and Lakers are playing for the NBA title in the league’s quarantine setting at Disney World, with the NBA Finals opening Wednesday.

Rounding out the Top 10 in team-merchandise sales, in order, were the Golden State Warriors, Toronto Raptors, Dallas Mavericks, Milwaukee Bucks, Portland Trail Blazers and Denver Nuggets.

Butler has a tall task ahead, especially if he winds up being the guy to guard Lakers superstar LeBron James in these Finals.

We’ll know in a few hours. Heat vs. Lakers NBA Finals Game 1 is tonight at 9 p.m. ET on ABC TV.

Pieces of Lakers court autographed by Kobe Bryant up for auction

We all miss Kobe Bryant. And as time goes on, don’t be surprised to see an increased amount of Kobe-related items going up for sale or auction. On that front, here’s the Los Angeles Times on two pieces of basketball court that would be pretty awesome to own:

Lakers legend Kobe Bryant scored 60 points against the Utah Jazz on April 13, 2016, before declaring “Mamba out!” and calling it a career.

It was a special night in team history. And one fan can own a unique piece of it.

Before leaving the Staples Center floor for the final time as a player, Bryant autographed two portions of it — the parts decorated with the two jersey numbers he wore during his career, Nos. 8 and 24.

The signed No. 24 portion has been installed at the Lakers’ practice facility in El Segundo. The signed No. 8 portion is available to the highest bidder through Heritage Auctions.

As sports collectibles go, owning a piece of an NBA team’s basketball court, autographed by a legendary player, and knowing that the item is real and is verified authentic, is very cool.

And another quick note, even though we literally already said this above: we miss Kobe.