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.


Snowstorm forces postponement of Atlanta-Washington NBA game

The bad weather on the east coast is playing havoc with both pro and college sports. From AP-

The game between the Atlanta Hawks and Washington Wizards has been postponed because of the blizzard that battered the Mid-Atlantic region.

The NBA said on Saturday that neither the Hawks or Wizards could fly to Washington after their games Friday night. The Wizards played at Orlando and the Hawks hosted the Bulls.

The game will be rescheduled for a date yet to be announced.

A record 2½ feet of snow or more was predicted for Washington.

A slew of mid-Atlantic men’s college basketball games slated for Saturday afternoon were also postponed or canceled, including Florida A&M at Morgan State, St. Bonaventure at Saint Joseph’s and James Madison at Towson.

The Atlanta Thrashers were stuck in Virginia after playing the Washington Capitals last night. They only got to Atlanta around 6 p.m. tonight and are currently playing the Florida Panthers.

2 and a half feet of snow. Are scientists sure it isn’t global cooling instead of global warming?


Atlanta Hawks’ shot-clock protest denied by NBA

The game that was being protested was played on December 30th against the Cleveland Cavaliers. From AP-

The NBA has denied the Atlanta Hawks’ protest over a shot-clock error.

Commissioner David Stern ruled the mistake didn’t have a “clear impact” on last month’s loss at Cleveland.

The Hawks protested their Dec. 30 defeat after officials failed to notice that the 24-second clock was not reset after a miss by Cleveland with 1:56 remaining. Atlanta was leading 99-98 but did not get its allotted time and wound up making a costly turnover while rushing to get off a shot. The Cavaliers went on to win 106-101.

Coach Mike Woodson asked that the game be replayed from the point of the mistake.

The NBA has remedied an officiating mistake in the past by requiring a do over.

The Atlanta Hawks and Miami Heat must replay the final 51.9 seconds of their game last month because the NBA said the official scorer ruled incorrectly that Shaquille O’Neal fouled out. This will be the first time since 1982 the league has sent teams back on the court for a replay.

The Hawks won 117-111 at home in overtime Dec. 19. The NBA said Friday the replay will be held before the teams’ next scheduled game — March 8 in Atlanta. Play will start from the time after O’Neal’s disputed sixth foul.

The Hawks also were fined $50,000, with commissioner David Stern ruling the team was “grossly negligent” in failing to address the mistake.

There is a recent precedent for a do over, and the shot clock mistake did indeed affect the game. Atlanta, rushed to make a shot before the wrongly set clock expired, turned over the ball to Cleveland who immediately took the lead. So how did Atlanta ownership get in Stern’s bad graces that would cause him to fake amnesia? The call was blown, it adversely affected the game, and there is a prior precedent issued by this very same Commissioner. Shouldn’t Stern fine Cleveland while he is at too? He fined Atlanta in the case of the 2007 incident. Talk about double standards and unfair treatment.


Portland Center Joel Przybilla out for the season

The Trailblazers should open their own hospital ward. From AP-

Trail Blazers center Joel Przybilla had surgery Thursday to repair his ruptured right patella tendon.

Przybilla is expected to miss the rest of the season after hurting his leg during Portland’s 85-81 victory at Dallas on Tuesday night. He went up for a rebound and came down awkwardly with 3:12 left in the first quarter.

Przybilla averaged 4.1 points, 7.9 rebounds and 1.4 blocks in 30 games.

The Blazers have been beset by so many injuries this season that the NBA granted the team an exemption to carry 16 players on its roster.

Portland also is without center Greg Oden (left knee), forwards Nicolas Batum (shoulder), Travis Outlaw (left foot) and Rudy Fernandez (back), and rookies Patrick Mills (right foot) and Jeff Pendergraph (hip).

Another starter, Brandon Roy, has a strained shoulder.


NBA Iron man Randy Smith dead at age 60

He once held the NBA record for consecutive games played. RIP.

Randy Smith, a blindingly fast All-Star with the Buffalo Braves in the 1970s who once held the NBA record for consecutive games, died while working out on a treadmill. He was 60.

He had a massive heart attack Thursday while exercising at the Connecticut casino where he worked, son-in-law Lekan Bashua told The Associated Press on Friday.

Smith was pronounced dead at William W. Backus Hospital in Norwich. The Mohegan Sun Casino declined to comment on circumstances surrounding the death, citing medical confidentiality laws.

Jack Ramsay, Smith’s coach in Buffalo, called the 6-foot-3 guard the best athlete he ever coached.

“He had stamina, great speed and developed into a very good player,” Ramsay said Friday from the NBA Finals in Los Angeles. “And was so fun to be around. There was not a bad day in Randy’s life.”

Smith was drafted by the Braves in the seventh round in 1971 and averaged more than 13 points in his rookie season. He went on to play 13 years in the NBA and appeared in 906 consecutive games from 1972-83. His mark was broken by A.C. Green in 1997.

“He played hurt, gave it 100 percent and took pride in that,” said Durie Burns, a college teammate of Smith’s at Buffalo State.

Smith was a good shooter and great jumper who wowed fans with reverse dunks. He was one of the most popular players in Braves history, and in teaming with scoring champion Bob McAdoo he helped make the Braves under Ramsay one of the league’s exciting clubs.

“We could run,” Ramsay said, “and nobody could keep up with Randy’s sheer speed.”


The last blow(out)- Atlanta Hawks eliminate Miami Heat 91-78

My father, who coached future NBA player Toby Knight as a youth, used to say about basketball- “If you don’t watch the game till the last five minutes, you aren’t missing anything. Even then you may not miss anything worth watching.” That statement would apply well to the NBA series that finished today.

The final blowout went to Atlanta, so it’s the Hawks who’ll get a shot at LeBron James and the Cleveland Cavaliers.

Joe Johnson scored 27 points to make up for a mostly disappointing series and the Hawks won the first Game 7 ever played in Atlanta, beating Dwayne Wade and the Miami Heat 91-78 Sunday to advance to the second round of the NBA playoffs for the first time in a decade.

A series totally devoid of drama ended in appropriate fashion. After a back-and-forth first quarter that ended with Atlanta ahead 20-18, the Hawks pulled out to a 49-36 lead by halftime.

They might as well have started the celebration right then. There were only 15 lead changes in seven games — not one of them after the opening period. Every game was decided by at least 10 points, and this one wasn’t nearly as close as the final margin.

Atlanta gets to face Cleveland and Lebron James next. I predict a Cavalier sweep.

As for the Heat, they need to build a team that doesn’t entirely on the temperamental and injury prone Dwyane Wade.


Sacramento Kings fire Reggie Theus coach

Another one bites the dust.

Two days after a heavy home loss to the New York Knicks, Reggie Theus was fired Monday as coach of the Sacramento Kings.

Assistant coach Kenny Natt has been elevated to interim coach. Natt is Sacramento’s fourth coach in less than three years, following Theus, Eric Musselman and Rick Adelman, who left the club after the 2005-06 season.

Theus is the sixth NBA coach to be fired before Christmas this season, joining Philadelphia’s Maurice Cheeks, Minnesota’s Randy Wittman, Toronto’s Sam Mitchell, Washington’s Eddie Jordan and Oklahoma City’s P.J. Carlesimo. The previous NBA record for pre-Christmas firings was three.

Theus, who coached at New Mexico State before coming to Sacramento, has a three year deal. How nice must it be to get paid for nothing for a year and a half when sports franchises fire coaches with time remaining on the contract

All sarcasm aside, Sacramento was 6-18 this year. The Kings ownership does have more than enough justification for the firing on that basis alone.


76ers fire coach Maurice Cheeks

Another NBA case of blame the coach.

The slumping Philadelphia 76ers on Saturday became the fifth NBA team to make a coaching change before Christmas this season, deciding they had to fire Maurice Cheeks despite extending his contract twice in the past year.

As reported by ESPN’s Stephen A. Smith, citing sources close to the situation, Cheeks was informed of his dismissal Saturday morning after the Sixers suffered their eighth loss in 10 games Friday night at Cleveland and dropped to 9-14.

The move was officially announced by the Sixers later Saturday. Assistant general manager Tony DiLeo will replace Cheeks on an interim basis. Philadelphia defeated the Washington Wizards behind Elton Brand’s season-high 27 points on Saturday night in DiLeo’s first game.

Philadelphia who isn’t a very good shooting team, has to contend on a regular basis with teams like Boston and Cleveland who are tearing up the league at present. When someone is 22-2, that makes it difficult for other teams to play .500 ball.

The firing of Cheeks is dumb in light of this.

NBA coaching sources told the Sixers were determined to give Cheeks every chance to halt Philadelphia’s slide after picking up his option for this season in February, extending his contract again in September and spending big money in the offseason to sign Brand away from the Los Angeles Clippers and re-sign Andre Iguodala.

No matter how often I see it done, I remain dumbfounded by pro sports franchises and universities to fire coaches with time remaining on their contracts. You pay for someone not to coach.

In light of the way the NBA recycles coaches, I expect Cheeks to pop up somewhere else in league. After all didn’t half the NBA keep rehiring Kevin Loughery in spite of his mediocre track record.


Minnesota Timberwolves fire coach Randy Wittman

He will be replaced by former wolves coach, Kevin McHall. From AP-

Randy Wittman was fired as coach of the Minnesota Timberwolves on Monday, two days after an embarrassing 23-point loss at home to the last-place Los Angeles Clippers. Kevin McHale took over as coach, leaving his job as the club’s vice president of basketball operations.

The young team is 4-15 and has not responded to Wittman’s demands for tough defense and consistent effort. The Timberwolves are in the midst of a five-game losing streak in which the average margin of defeat has been nearly 17 points.


This was the fourth NBA coaching firing this season following P.J. Carlesimo (Oklahoma City), Eddie Jordan (Washington) and Sam Mitchell (Toronto).

Wittman was 38-105 since taking over for Dwane Casey in January 2007. McHale picked Wittman to preside over the team’s rebuilding following the trade of Kevin Garnett, but the second year of the plan has not produced results.

Only 38-105? Why did Minnesota take so long to fire this guy?


NBA calls for do-over in Atlanta Hawks- Miami Heat game

First time I ever recall the finale of a sports event having to be re-done since than the famous Pine tar game. From AP-

ATLANTA – The Atlanta Hawks and Miami Heat must replay the final 51.9 seconds of their game last month because the NBA said the official scorer ruled incorrectly that Shaquille O’Neal fouled out. This will be the first time since 1982 the league has sent teams back on the court for a replay.

The Hawks won 117-111 at home in overtime Dec. 19. The NBA said Friday the replay will be held before the teams’ next scheduled game — March 8 in Atlanta. Play will start from the time after O’Neal’s disputed sixth foul.

The Hawks also were fined $50,000, with commissioner David Stern ruling the team was “grossly negligent” in failing to address the mistake.

The protest is the first granted by the NBA since December 1982, when then-NBA commissioner Larry O’Brien upheld a request for a replay by the San Antonio Spurs after their 137-132 double-overtime loss to the Los Angeles Lakers the previous month.

The Spurs and Lakers finished the game in April 1983, with San Antonio winning 117-114.

The Hawks were leading 112-111 in overtime when O’Neal was called for a foul. The scoring table personnel, who are provided by the home team, ruled it was the Miami center’s sixth foul, when actually it was only his fifth.

According to the league, the mistake stemmed from a foul with 3:24 remaining in the fourth quarter that was called on Udonis Haslem but was mistakenly credited to O’Neal at the scoring table.


Al Horford hit two free throws after O’Neal’s foul to give the Hawks a 114-111 lead. Anthony Johnson added a running jumper with 14 seconds left to put the game away.

I think the NBA made the right call. O’Neill’s removal from the game certainly could have changed the outcome. Considering how poor the Heat have played this year, I wouldn’t place any bets on their winning the do-over.

Note- I do see where the article says a NBA game in 1982 had to be replayed. Till tonight I hadn’t heard of that happening.


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