Sports Outside the Beltway

NBA suspends training camps indefinitely

File this under not surprising news-

NEW YORK — The lockout has started doing real damage to the NBA’s calendar.

Players won’t report at the usual time. The preseason won’t start as scheduled.

And more cancellations could be necessary without a new labor deal soon.

Out of time to keep everything intact, the NBA postponed training camps indefinitely and canceled 43 preseason games Friday because it has not reached an agreement with players.

All games from Oct. 9-15 are off, the league said. Camps were expected to open Oct. 3.

“We have regretfully reached the point on the calendar where we are not able to open training camps on time and need to cancel the first week of preseason games,” deputy commissioner Adam Silver said in a statement. “We will make further decisions as warranted.”

The players’ association did not comment.

I don’t expect their to be another NBA game this year. This kind of labor conflict is usually protracted and nothing will get done till the season is on the verge of being lost. As NHL fans know from 2004-2005, even then the dispute can go over the cliff taking a whole season with it.

I have no sympathy for either owners or players. The players are rich and overindulged, the owners of small market NBA teams had to know when going in that they had little chance of making the franchise they were purchasing into NBA Championship contenders/moneymakers.


LeBron James’ Cowardly Betrayal


By now, everyone knows that LeBron James has decided to leave his hometown Cleveland Cavaliers to join up with Dwayne Wade and Chris Bosh on the Miami Heat.    To do so, he’ll have to take less money than the Cavs could have paid him but he’ll have an infinitely better chance at a championship than he’d have had on a poorly run team that somehow managed to simultaneously not have any other great players and yet not have enough cap space to try to fix that any time soon.

But Cavs majority owner Dan Gilbert isn’t just disappointed, he’s livid.

As you now know, our former hero, who grew up in the very region that he deserted this evening, is no longer a Cleveland Cavalier.

This was announced with a several day, narcissistic, self-promotional build-up culminating with a national TV special of his “decision” unlike anything ever “witnessed” in the history of sports and probably the history of entertainment.

Clearly, this is bitterly disappointing to all of us.

The good news is that the ownership team and the rest of the hard-working, loyal, and driven staff over here at your hometown Cavaliers have not betrayed you nor NEVER will betray you.

There is so much more to tell you about the events of the recent past and our more than exciting future. Over the next several days and weeks, we will be communicating much of that to you.

You simply don’t deserve this kind of cowardly betrayal.

You have given so much and deserve so much more.

In the meantime, I want to make one statement to you tonight:


You can take it to the bank.

If you thought we were motivated before tonight to bring the hardware to Cleveland, I can tell you that this shameful display of selfishness and betrayal by one of our very own has shifted our “motivation” to previously unknown and previously never experienced levels.

Some people think they should go to heaven but NOT have to die to get there.

Sorry, but that’s simply not how it works.

This shocking act of disloyalty from our home grown “chosen one” sends the exact opposite lesson of what we would want our children to learn. And “who” we would want them to grow-up to become.

But the good news is that this heartless and callous action can only serve as the antidote to the so-called “curse” on Cleveland, Ohio.

The self-declared former “King” will be taking the “curse” with him down south. And until he does “right” by Cleveland and Ohio, James (and the town where he plays) will unfortunately own this dreaded spell and bad karma.

As Time‘s Sean Gregory put it, this is simply “unhinged.”

First, the NBA isn’t Little League.  To the extent that players on a given team are from the local area, it tends to be happenstance.   Few members of the Cavaliers are from Ohio.

Second, James was only with the Cavs because they really, really sucked the year he was coming out of high school and got lucky in the lottery.   Had one of the other of the six crappiest teams from the year before drawn the winning ball, they’d have been able to conscript James to play with them for the first few years of his career.

Third, free agents leave teams and teams sign free agents all the time.   Indeed, that’s the whole point of free agency.

Fourth, professional basketball is a business.   Teams fire coaches — as Cleveland did just weeks ago — and get rid of players — as the Cavs will do with Shaquille Oneal — who don’t live up to expectations all the time.   Why should players be bound in perpetuity to a team without reciprocity?

Fifth, as already noted, the Cavs totally mismanaged the situation.  Even very casual fans of the game, like myself, have known for at least two years that there would be a bidding war for James, Wade, Bosh, and others come July 1.   The Knicks, Heat, and Bulls made moves to put themselves into a position to be able to bid.   The Cavs did not.    So, James was faced with the choice of staying with a mediocre team — and that, only because of his own contribution — or jumping to one savvy enough to compete for a title.    He chose the latter.

Sixth, Cleveland just isn’t a free agent haven.   Indeed, Toronto had tried to trade Bosh to them last week — which would have not only made the Cavs more competitive to keep James but would have netted Bosh a cool $30 million — and Bosh put the kibosh on that.   Rich athletes don’t want to live in Cleveland.   It’s just not a world class city.

All that said, I agree with Gilbert on one thing:   Dragging this out and then doing a major television announcement was a rather classless way of handling the situation.   Leaving his hometown team was the right thing to do but this was the wrong way to handle it.   Thankfully for James, though, Gilbert’s over-the-top response was much worse.


Former NBA Giant Manute Bol Dies At 47

1237813050_0Manute Bol, who literally towered over the NBA for ten years, died yesterday at 47 after contracting a skin disease:

KANSAS CITY, Mo. — Manute Bol, a lithe 7-foot-7 shot-blocker from Sudan who spent 10 seasons in the NBA and was dedicated to humanitarian work in Africa, died Saturday. He was 47.

Bol died at the University of Virginia Hospital in Charlottesville, where he was being treated for severe kidney trouble and a painful skin condition, Tom Prichard, executive director of the group Sudan Sunrise, said in an e-mail.

“Sudan and the world have lost a hero and an example for all of us,” Prichard said. “Manute, we’ll miss you. Our prayers and best wishes go out to all his family, and all who mourn his loss.”

Bol played in the NBA with Washington, Golden State, Philadelphia and Miami, averaging 2.6 points, 4.2 rebounds and 3.3 blocks for his career. He led the league in blocks in 1985-86 with Washington (5.0 per game) and in 1988-89 with Golden State (4.3 a game).

“Manute’s impact on this city, our franchise and the game of basketball cannot be put into words,” 76ers president and general manager Ed Stefanski said in a statement. “He … was continually giving of himself through his generosity and humanitarian efforts in order to make the world around him a much better place, for which he will always be remembered.”

In the years after he left the NBA, Bol devoted himself to humanitarian work in his native Sudan and had actually just returned from there to start a project to build a new school in his home village. It’s believed that the skin disease he contracted may be related to something he encountered on that trip.


LeBron James: Cleveland “Has The Edge” In Deciding Which Team Will Get Me

we-are-all-witnesses-lebron-james-546522_1024_768Take it for what it’s worth, but LeBron James says that Cleveland is leading the pack of all his potential suitors:

CLEVELAND (AP) — One month before the start of the N.B.A.’s free agency period, LeBron James has handicapped his field of suitors: The Cleveland Cavaliers lead the pack.

In his first interview since the Cavaliers’ season ended with a second-round loss to the Boston Celtics, James told CNN’s Larry King that Cleveland had “an edge” to re-sign him when free agency begins July 1.

King, who interviewed James at his home near Akron on Tuesday, asked him if Cleveland had “an edge going in.”

“Absolutely,” he said in a portion of the interview released by CNN. “Because, you know, this city, these fans, I mean, have given me a lot in these seven years. And, you know, for me, it’s comfortable. So I’ve got a lot of memories here. And so it does have an edge.”

The interview will be shown Friday on “Larry King Live.” Other than his postgame interview, James has not talked to the news media since the Cavaliers were eliminated by the Celtics.

The cynical view will be that LeBron will go where the money is, but he’s also shown a fairly strong connection to his hometown over the past seven years, so the possibility of staying in Cleveland is not out of the question at all.

Here’s an except from the interview that CNN has made available:


Celtics Defeat Cavaliers In NBA Playoffs, LeBron James Speculation Begins

lebronjamesOnce again, LeBron James and the Cleveland Cavaliers fell short in the quest for an NBA Championship:

BOSTON (AP) — The Boston Celtics sent LeBron James and the Cavaliers back to Cleveland to admire all of their regular-season accomplishments.

It’s the Celtics who are still in the chase for an NBA title.

Kevin Garnett scored 22 points and added 12 rebounds, and Rajon Rondo had 21 points and 12 assists to beat Cleveland 94-85 in Game 6 on Thursday night. Boston advanced to the Eastern Conference finals, which begin Sunday in Orlando against the Magic, who are 8-0 in the playoffs after sweeping the Charlotte Bobcats and the Atlanta Hawks in the opening rounds.

Despite his fifth career playoff triple-double, James is headed for another early offseason after winning a second MVP award and leading the Cavs to an NBA-best 61 wins and a home-court advantage they never got to use.

This one is destined to define the future of the franchise — and the rest of the NBA, too.

The LeBron watch began at 10:53 p.m., when Rondo dribbled out the last 14 seconds and the Celtics began celebrating. James is eligible to opt out of his contract this summer, a move that would make the two-time MVP — and zero-time NBA champion — a free agent and set off a scramble for his services from New York to Miami to Los Angeles and, of course, back in Cleveland.

”We know their team is fueled by one guy, and he has a hell of a supporting cast,” Garnett said. ”We knew that if we could somehow, someway control that supporting cast, then we had a good chance of beating this team.”

It’s long been speculated that this would be James’s last year in Cleveland if the Cavaliers didn’t win a Championship, and that he’d utilized the opt-out provision in his contract to move to a team that had a better chance of going all the way. Clevelanders, on the other hand, have always held out the hope that James’s ties to the community would keep him in town.

With the playoffs over once again for the Cavs, the ball is, quite literally, in LeBron’s court.


Ticking clock- Miami beats New Jersey 99-89

The Nets lost their 8th straight game tonight. From AP-

Dwyane Wade had 27 points and 12 assists, and the Miami Heat continued their good play in March with a 99-89 victory over the free-falling New Jersey Nets on Monday night.Mia-NJ

Jermaine O’Neal added 25 points as the Heat improved to 8-3 in the month that has seen them climb to sixth place in the Eastern Conference. Michael Beasley added 16 and Carlos Arroyo 12.

Brook Lopez had 26 points, but the Nets (7-63) lost their eighth straight as they possibly head toward the worst record in NBA history. New Jersey has to win three of its final 12 to avoid breaking the Philadelphia 76ers’ mark for futility (9-73), set in 1972-73.

Actually the Nets need to win only two games to not break the record. With 2 victories they will equal the mark. At this point in time I expect the Nets to do no better than 9 wins. They haven’t won two games in a row all season.


Defense rests- Phoenix beats Minnesota 152-114

The Suns scored the most points in a NBA game this season. From AP-

It’s an NBA law of physics: Put the highest-scoring team in the league against arguably the worst defense and watch the scoreboard light up like the Fourth of July.

Jason Richardson scored 27 points and Amare Stoudemire 25, then sat with the rest of the Phoenix starters while the Suns’ reserves finished off a 152-114 rout of Minnesota on Monday night in the highest-scoring game by an NBA team this season.

Lou Amundson matched his career high with 20 points as Phoenix sent the Timberwolves to their 10th straight loss and 16th in the last 17 games.

The Suns, with eight players in double figures, shot 56 percent from the field and 15 of 31 from 3-point range to win their ninth in 12 games.

Minnesota is 14-54 this year. Which makes them not a whole lot better than New Jersey who is 7-60 and trying to avoid setting a new mark for the worst record in NBA history.


Who forgot the D? New Orleans beats Golden State 135-131

The Hornets scored their greatest amount of points in 131 years last night.

Darren Collison hoped to one day turn in the type of performances that All-Stars Chris Paul and Steve Nash have become known for during their distinguished careers.

He didn’t necessarily think it would happen in his rookie year.

Collison had 16 points and a career-high 20 assists, and the New Orleans Hornets snapped a four-game losing streak with a 135-131 victory over the Golden State Warriors on Monday night.

Collison’s assists total tied Phoenix’s Nash for the most in an NBA game this season and was one short of his teammate Paul’s franchise record.

“Those are the guys, for us young guys, that we look up to in the NBA,” Collison said. “So to be mentioned in the same breath, it’s crazy. I still think I need a lot of work, but it feels good for right now.”


The Hornets’ 135 points were a season high and fourth highest in Hornets history. The last time they scored more was 136 on April 9, 1997, against Boston.

In 1997 the Hornets were playing in Charlotte.

Currently Charlotte stands 9th in the Eastern Conference playoff race but only a .5 game out of 8th and the last postseason spot. The East is tight from 5th to 9th with Milwaukee, Toronto, Miami, Chicago, and New Orleans jostling for those spots. I don’t Miami is going to make it, and suspect whichever of these five teams do make the playoffs, will play one round and be out. Cleveland, Boston, Orlando, and Atlanta shouldn’t any problems with these teams.


Detroit Piston Rodney Stuckey taken to the hospital

He collapsed during a game with the Cleveland Cavaliers. From AP-

Detroit’s Rodney Stuckey was conscious and breathing on his own after he was taken by ambulance to a hospital after collapsing on the Pistons’ bench during the team’s loss to the Cavs Friday night.

The Pistons said Stuckey’s vital signs were stable at the Cleveland Clinic. He will remain there overnight after being transported there for tests.

“He is stable and that is good news,” Pistons coach John Kuester said. “I think he is going to be OK.”

Stuckey was wheeled off the court on a stretcher after he collapsed and fell unconscious into strength coach Arnie Kander’s arms on the bench. Play was halted for 12 minutes as the medical staff worked on him, placing an oxygen mask on his face and wheeling him into an ambulance.

Hopefully he will be thoroughly checked out by the doctors. Locally, a 10-year-old died of a cogenital heart defect this week. His family didn’t know about their son’s illness. I was born with a heart defect also that wasn’t diagnosed till I was 47.

Get well Rodney Stuckey.


New Jersey Nets newest fan promotion- free tax preparation

Is everyone sure this is major league basketball team. From ESPN-

The New Jersey Nets will do anything to sell tickets … except win.

In the wake of their NBA-worst 6-53 record, the Nets have come up with yet another ploy to fill seats — free tax returns.

The team has partnered up with Roni Deutch Tax Center to give every New Jersey resident 18 years or older a coupon for a free state tax return if they attend the Nets’ game against the Orlando Magic at the IZOD Center on Friday, March 5.

Fans in attendance will also receive a discount on their federal tax returns if they choose to have Roni Deutch prepare them, as well.

The Nets are dreadful this year(They haven’t won 2 games in a row all season) and are trying to bring in fans any way they can. I don’t really think this is a dumb fan promotion but at the same time believe it won’t bring more fans to see a New Jersey game.


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