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.


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.


Buzzer beater- LA Clippers beat Boston 92-90

Believe it or not, the downtrodden Clippers have beaten the Celtics at the Staples Center two years in a row. From AP-

For the first 47 1/2 minutes, Rajon Rondo was quicker, sharper and smoother than Baron Davis.

In the final seconds, the Boston youngster just couldn’t match the bearded one’s California cool.

Davis hit a long fallaway jumper at the buzzer after Rondo missed two free throws 1.5 seconds earlier, and the Los Angeles Clippers dramatically snapped the Celtics’ nine-game road winning streak with a 92-90 victory on Sunday night.

Davis had 24 points and 13 assists for the Clippers, whose three-game losing streak ended when Davis took an inbounds pass with a second left, pivoted and hopped backward for a perfect 22-footer while drawing a little contact from Rondo, giving Los Angeles its only lead of the second half.

The win makes Los Angeles 13-17 for the 2009-10 NBA season or 13th out of 15 in the Western conference. Which isn’t as bad as it sounds. The Clippers are 2.5 games out of 9th and well ahead of Minnesota and Golden State the two conference tailenders.

As for the Celtics, they are 23-6 now. Cleveland trails Boston by a half game in the Eastern Conference.


NBA Coach Stan Van Gundy wishes there were no NBA games on Christmas

Of the five games on television today, I’ve spent less than two minutes watching any of them. From AP-

“I actually feel sorry for people who have nothing to do on Christmas Day other than watch an NBA game,” the Orlando Magic coach said.

While I don’t feel sorry for them, I do think there are better ways of using one’s time.

The Magic were playing Boston on Friday, one of five NBA games on Christmas.

The Celtics won that game 86-77.

Van Gundy said he understands the high-priced TV contracts generate money for the league and it would be difficult to stop such games. He said he wishes the league at the very least had fewer games on the holidays.

The people who could put a stop to these games or at least limit them, are the NBA players themselves. They could make it a request when negotiations for the next collective bargaining agreement comes up. During Wednesday night’s Florida Panthers game, the topic of why the NHL doesn’t play on Christmas came up. Announcer Billy Lindsay said it was due to the CBA between hockey owners and players.

The Magic play games on Thanksgiving, Christmas and New Year’s Day this season.

I can understand why Van Gundy is grumbling then.

“I think we get a little carried away with ourselves with sports thinking we’re more important than everything else,” Van Gundy said before the game. “But that’s the way it is. There’s nothing more important than the NBA on Christmas Day.”

That’s certainly untrue. There is time with family, going to church, writing blog posts, and paying a visit to the cemetery where your son and parents are buried that are all much more important priorities in life.

Van Gundy’s outspokeness may well earn him a fine. Bostion Coach Doc Rivers didn’t agree with the Orlando Magic coach.

Rivers said it’s tough for players to be away from family, but he realizes the league is not going to stop playing on the holidays. Rivers lives in the Orlando area and was able to wake up Christmas morning in his own bed.

He said he always watched Christmas Day games growing up because the league features the marquee teams.

“As a kid, you wanted to be on [Christmas],” Rivers said. “Then when you get to the league, you don’t want to be on any more. You’re like, ‘No, I changed my mind.’ But it’s going to happen, so why try to fight it? I tend to look at it as a reward.”

As we grow up things that we once longed to do, have instead looked upon as a hassle. It’s part of life.

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All net- Orlando beats Boston 117-96 to take 2-1 series lead

Could Florida’s other NBA franchise make it to the championship finals? From AP-

Into the stands. Off the backboard or in another player’s face, Dwight Howard sent Boston Celtics’ shots everywhere.

Howard had 17 points, 14 rebounds and five blocks to lift the Orlando Magic to a 117-96 victory over the Celtics on Friday night and a 2-1 series lead in their Eastern Conference semifinal.

“Just the whole team stepped up the defensive intensity,” said Howard, the NBA’s defensive player of the year. “It starts with me. I have to do that every night if we want to be successful.”

Rashard Lewis had 28 points, and Hedo Turkoglu scored 24 for Orlando, which played without starting point guard Rafer Alston. He was suspended by the NBA for slapping Eddie House in the back of the head in Game 2.

The Magic shot a franchise record 59.1 from the field last night. I think Orlando can beat Boston, but they won’t get by LeBron James and Cleveland.


Boston Celtics GM Danny Ainge suffers a heart attack

This takes place just two days before his team opens the first round of the NBA playoffs. From AP-

Boston Celtics general manager Danny Ainge was hospitalized Thursday after suffering what the team described as a minor heart attack.

The team issued a brief statement saying that Ainge, 50, was taken to a Boston hospital but provided few other details.

“Danny Ainge is recovering at Massachusetts General Hospital after having a minor heart attack. He is recovering nicely,” the team said. “Mr. Ainge is expected to remain in the hospital for a few days.”


As general manager, Ainge helped the franchise raise its record 17th NBA championship last season by assembling a new Big Three, acquiring Kevin Garnett and Ray Allen to join Celtics veteran Paul Pierce. Ainge was named 2007-08 NBA executive of the year and in October was rewarded with a contract extension and the title of president of basketball operations.

The Celtics are scheduled to begin the playoffs on Saturday against the Chicago Bulls.

Ainge played for the Celtics in the 1980′s. I had open heart surgery last August. It took me several months to recover. Get well Danny and make sure you get lots of rest.


Lakers snap Celtics 19 game winning streak

Boston hadn’t lost a game since November 14th. From AP-

Kobe Bryant had 27 points, nine rebounds and five assists, Pau Gasol scored seven of his 20 points in the final three minutes, and the Lakers beat Boston 92-83 Thursday to snap the Celtics’ franchise-record 19-game winning streak.

The game was the first between the teams since the Celtics romped to a 131-92 victory in Game 6 of the Finals last June to win their first championship in 22 years and league-high 17th title.

LA coach Phil Jackson also notched his 1,000th victory.


Boston Celtics win 14th in a row, beat NO 94-82

This is the best start by a NBA team since the 95-96 Chicago Bulls. From AP-

Paul Pierce scored 28 points and Kevin Garnett had 19 points and 10 rebounds on Friday night to lead the Celtics to their 14th consecutive victory, a 94-82 win over their former teammate and the New Orleans Hornets.

“We will always be forever linked with him,” Garnett said of Posey, who was the leader of the Celtics bench when they won their NBA-record 17th title in 2007-08 before signing with New Orleans in the offseason. “It’s a business, and once the ball is jumped, then that’s what it is until summertime.”

Chris Paul had 20 points and 14 assists for the Hornets, while David West had 23 points and 14 rebounds. Posey scored seven points with seven rebounds and a steal while committing five fouls and contributing to a defense that forced the Celtics into 17 turnovers that led to 25 points.

The Celtics may not be the best team in the NBA at present. Cleveland(20-3) and the LA Lakers(19-3) are also tearing up the league. Is it too early to place bets on who will be in the NBA finals?


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?


Reggie Miller Comeback With Celtics?

The Boston Celtics are trying to lure Reggie Miller out of retirement.

Reggie Miller says he is contemplating a return to the NBA, this time with the Boston Celtics.

Miller, who turns 42 on Aug. 24, played his entire 18-year career with the Indiana Pacers before retiring in 2005. Since his playing days ended he has worked as a television analyst for TNT.

“I’m always flattered when my name is mentioned as someone who can still help an NBA team win a championship,” Miller said Wednesday in a statement relayed to The Associated Press by the TNT network. “I’ve had limited discussions with Celtics management about their roster and a potential role for me. At this time, I’m enjoying my role as an analyst with TNT.”

Miller was all set to continue that job when Celtics general manager Danny Ainge and coach Doc Rivers asked him to think about joining their revamped team in a reserve role, playing about 15 minutes per game.

Miller said he is calling friends and peers, seeking their advice and listening to their feedback before he makes his decision. He still plays recreationally, but must determine if he wants to go through the physical and mental grind of an 82-game season. He also wonders how his body would respond to the intensive training it would take to get him back to NBA shape.

The lure of playing in Boston is simple: with Kevin Garnett and Ray Allen added to Paul Pierce, the Celtics feel they have a shot at an NBA championship. Like those three players, the only thing missing from Miller’s list of accomplishments is a championship ring.

The idea makes perfect sense, really. While 42 is pretty old, he might well be able to log 15 minutes a game or, indeed, even less than that if the Celtics are winning.


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