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.


On top- LA Lakers beat Charlotte 99-97

With last night’s victory, Phil Jackson becomes the winningest coach in franchise history. From AP-

With his superstar hobbling and the Charlotte Bobcats refusing to go away, Phil Jackson never got terribly comfortable while becoming the winningest coach in Los Angeles Lakers history.Phil Jackson

Andrew Bynum had 17 points and 14 rebounds, and Lamar Odom scored 19 points while making several big plays down the stretch, making sure Jackson added another superlative to his matchless coaching career in Los Angeles’ 99-97 victory over the Bobcats on Wednesday night.

Jackson, also the winningest coach in Chicago Bulls history, passed Pat Riley with his 534th win with the Lakers. The Hall of Famer won 545 games and six titles in nine seasons with Michael Jordan and Co. before winning four more rings in his first nine seasons with the Lakers, rising to fifth on the NBA’s career coaching victories list when he passed Charlotte’s Larry Brown earlier this season.

“It’s been a really good run,” Jackson said. “Having this opportunity to coach this team is always special. The fact that we’ve had some great teams, great players, is always a credit to them. It’s not really an individual record in my mind.”

Jackson is the winningest playoff coach in NBA history, and the only coach to win more than 70 percent of his regular-season games. Against the pesky Bobcats, he managed to coax a late-game win out of his Lakers even with just a season-low five points from Kobe Bryant.

Bryant, who is playing on a sore foot, had his worst ever NBA game in which he played at least 30 minutes.

Jackson has had great success as his coach, but its been his good fortune to coach some of the best talent the NBA has ever seen. He is at this moment, 64-years of age. I predict Jackson to quit coaching within the next 3 years.


Crushed- Charlotte beats Miami 104-65

The 39-point win was the largest in Bobcat history. From AP-

If a chance to move into fifth place in the Eastern Conference wasn’t motivation enough for the Charlotte Bobcats, Michael Beasley had them hitting the court angry.

These days, that’s bad news for the Miami Heat and the rest of the NBA.

Stephen Jackson scored 24 points, Gerald Wallace added 20 points and 10 rebounds, and the Bobcats completed a 6-0 homestand with their most lopsided victory in team history, 104-65 over the listless Heat on Wednesday night.

Shutting down a frustrated and foul-plagued Dwyane Wade, the Bobcats (21-19) improved to an NBA-best 9-1 since the start of the new year with ease. They shot a franchise-record 82 percent in the first quarter, led by 27 at halftime and by as many as 41 in the fourth quarter while allowing the fewest points in team history.

So much for Beasley’s remarks from a day earlier, when he told reporters the Bobcats “stole” a game in Miami earlier this month and that “if we stay together and stay focused, it should be an easy win.”

Charlotte stole nothing last night with the possible exception of the Miami Heat’s soul. How do you live down losing by 39 points to a team barely above .500?


Finally- NJ Nets beat Charlotte 97-91

Their last regular season win was on April 13 and also against Charlotte. From AP-

The Nets won for the first time this season, ending the worst start in NBA history at 18 losses by beating the Charlotte Bobcats 97-91 on Friday night.

Brook Lopez had 31 points and 14 rebounds, and Courtney Lee scored a career-high 27 points Frin his return to the starting lineup for the Nets in their first game under Kiki Vandeweghe, their general manager who will coach the rest of the season.

The worst record in NBA history is 9-73 set by Philadelphia in 1972-73. I predict New Jersey to do better, but barely.


Golden State Warriors trade Stephen Jackson to Charlotte

I seriously doubt Jackson is going to be happy playing for another loser. From AP-

The Golden State Warriors on Monday offloaded disgruntled forward Stephen Jackson to a nonplayoff team, sending him to the Charlotte Bobcats instead of dealing him to one of Jackson’s preferred destinations in Cleveland.

In a deal that NBA front-office sources said came together quickly Sunday night after on-and-off talks with the Bobcats in recent weeks, Golden State agreed to send Jackson and guard Acie Law to the Bobcats in exchange for veteran swingmen Raja Bell and Vladimir Radmanovic.


The Warriors, meanwhile, had reached the point where they felt they had to move Jackson as soon as possible in the name of team health. The Warriors were not only privately furious that Jackson would unsettle the team with a trade demand so soon after receiving an extension but also fearful that Jackson’s discontent would continue to hang over a group of promising youngsters headlined by Stephen Curry and Anthony Randolph.

So Golden State decided not to wait until Dec. 15, when rookies and players who signed contracts over the summer become eligible to be traded. Cleveland’s best offer would have provided more payroll relief, but the Warriors contend that they satisfied multiple objectives by taking the Bobcats’ offer.

Bell’s $5.3 million contract expires at season’s end, while Radmanovic is earning $6.5 million this season and is due to earn $6.9 million next season. Jackson is earning $7.7 million this season before starting a three-year contract extension worth nearly $28 million, so the long-term savings of having Radmanovic on the payroll instead of Jackson is roughly $21 million.

So Golden State traded a high priced pain in the ass for a high priced unproductive player. I just don’t see the Warriors being any better from this deal.


Six is it- Charlotte beats NY 114-105

With the win the Bobcats pull within one game of the last Eastern playoff spot. From AP-

They have compiled the longest winning streak in franchise history. Not only that, but the Charlotte Bobcats also own the longest streak in the Eastern Conference.

“The second. It’s got to be, because we’re a team that has aspirations of trying to backdoor our way into the playoffs and so it’s really important that we’re doing it right now,” guard Raja Bell said. “It’s great that it’s a franchise record, but the timing couldn’t be better for us.”

Gerald Wallace had 23 points and 13 rebounds, and the Bobcats beat the New York Knicks 114-105 on Saturday night for their franchise-record sixth straight victory.

Boris Diaw added 22 points for the Bobcats, who have won nine of their last 13 in hopes of landing a playoff berth in Larry Brown’s first season as coach. Charlotte pulled within a game of Chicago for eighth place.

A six game winning streak being the high note for a team with just six years in the league isn’t unsual. Should a 28-35 team be worthy of a playoff spot? You have to remember Cleveland, Boston, and Orlando are so dominating the East that it skews the records for the last playoff qualifiers.

Charlotte won’t last long in the post season who ever their opponent ends up being. If they make it.


NBA Mock Draft

ESPN’s Chad Ford offers the Sports Leader’s take on the impending NBA Draft.

It’s almost draft day, and the picture is getting clearer and fuzzier simultaneously.

We’ve been able to narrow down the list of prospects that each team is considering, but two things stand in the way of getting a complete picture.

One, this is a time when many GMs are notorious for dropping smoke screens. A source in Memphis swears the team is taking Joakim Noah. Another says to bank on the Grizzlies’ taking Mike Conley. Someone is misinformed or bluffing.

Two, there is a flurry of trade conversation, starting with Memphis, Boston, Charlotte and Chicago all talking about trading away their lottery picks. Meanwhile teams such as Golden State, Phoenix and the Lakers are trying hard to move up. Others — like Portland, Indiana and Toronto — are trying to get in or grab another pick.

The talk in Phoenix about trading up in the draft has gotten so hot that the Suns have gotten Noah, Jeff Green and Corey Brewer to agree to a workout on Tuesday. They’ll try to add Brandan Wright as a fourth. That shows you how much players want to play in Phoenix — they’ll drop everything just for the chance. It could be the most competitive workout of the draft.

Their consensus draft board:

    1. Portland TrailblazersGreg Oden – C
    2. Portland TrailblazersKevin Durant – SF – Texas
    3. Atlanta HawksAl Horford – PF – Florida
    4. Memphis GrizzliesMike Conley – PG- Ohio State
    5. Boston CelticsYi Jianlian – PF – China
    6. Milwaukee BucksJeff Green – SF – Georgetown
    7. Minnesota TimberwolvesJoakim Noah – PF – Florida
    8. Charlotte BobcatsCorey Brewer – SG – Florida
    9. Chicago Bulls (via New York Knicks) – Spencer Hawes – C- Washington
    10. Sacramento Kings- Brandan Wright – PF – North Carolina
    11. Atlanta Hawks (via Indiana Pacers) – Acie Law – PG – Texas A&M
    12. Philadelphia 76ersAl Thornton – SF – Florida State
    13. New Orleans Hornets – Nick Young – SG- USC
    14. L.A. ClippersJulian Wright – SF – Kansas
    15. Detroit Pistons (via Orlando Magic) – Rodney Stuckey SG – Eastern Wash.

Click the link for more in-depth analysis and for the second half of the draft.


Michael Jordan and Wife File for Divorce

Michael Jordan and his wife of 17 years have filed for divorce.

Michael Jordan and his wife, Juanita, filed for divorce Friday after 17 years of marriage. “Michael and Juanita Jordan mutually and amicably decided to end their 17 year marriage,” the couple said in a statement issued through their lawyers. “A judgment for dissolution of their marriage was entered today. There will be no further statements.”

Michael Jordan and Wife Juanita Divorce Photo Chicago Bulls' Michael Jordan, right, reacts to a reporters' question as his wife, Juanita, listens after he announced his retirement from basketball on Jan. 13, 1999, in Chicago. Jordan and his wife divorced Friday, Dec. 29, 2006, 17 years after the couple wed. (AP Photo/M. Spencer Green,file) Juanita Jordan previously filed for divorce in January 2002, but withdrew her petition a month later when the couple announced they were attempting a reconciliation.

During her last divorce petition, Jordan said attempts to reconcile their marriage had failed and future ones “would be impractical and not in the best interests of the family.”

Truly a shame. Jordan’s lifestyle is not the most conducive to maintaining a stable marriage, unfortunately.


Bobcats Drop Ownership of WNBA Franchise

The Charlotte Bobcats today have become the first NBA franchise to drop its sponsorship of a WNBA team.

The Charlotte Bobcats said Wednesday they have stopped operating the WNBA’s Charlotte Sting and turned over control to the NBA-owned women’s basketball league, which is in negotiations to sell the franchise. “As we have changed our management structure, we have made the decision to focus all of our resources and efforts on the operation of the Charlotte Bobcats,” Bobcats Sports and Entertainment President Fred Whitfield said in a statement.

The Sting, an original WNBA franchise, reached the league’s championship series only once in their 10 seasons in Charlotte and have suffered from declining attendance in recent seasons.

Now, granted, Charlotte hasn’t been a great NBA town, let alone a great WNBA town. The Hornets are in New Orleans now, after all. And this is a state with several big time college basketball teams: UNC, Duke, NC State, and Wake Forest.

Still, it doesn’t bode well for the WNBA when its own league drops a team. At some point, isn’t it time to acknowledge that there is rather little fan interest in women’s professional basketball?


NBA Player Lonny Baxter Arrested Near White House

An NBA player was arrested overnight for firing gunshots near the White House.

Lonny Baxter, a forward on the NBA Charlotte Bobcats and a former University of Maryland standout, was arrested on weapons charges early this morning by uniformed Secret Service agents after they received reports of shots being fired a few blocks from the White House. Secret Service Spokesman Eric Zahren said that a civilian flagged down an officer about 2.30 a.m. to report the sound of gunfire in the vicinity of 18th and H Streets, NW. A few minutes later, officers pulled over an SUV at 17th and I Streets, NW and found in plain view spent shell casings.

It’ll be interesting to learn the story behind this. While 18th and H is indeed quite close to the White House, it’s even closer to the IMF and World Bank.

DC Map White House to 19th Street NW

Now, anti-trade protestors often target these buildings, especially during international conferences. Sometimes, for reasons I’ve never figured out, they wear turtle suits. Baxter is a former Maryland Terrapin. Their mascot? A turtle. Their motto? “Fear the turtle.”

Turtle Protest WTO PhotoFear the Turtle

Could there be a connection?

Well, almost certainly not. Still, if it turns out that Baxter is an anti-trade zealot, you read it here first.



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