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.


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.


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.


Skid- Orlando beats Cleveland 101-95

What has happened to the pre-All-Star game Cavaliers? From AP-

Dwight Howard had 22 points and 16 rebounds in a bruising battle with Shaquille O’Neal, and the Orlando Magic beat Cleveland 101-95 on Sunday for the Cavaliers’ first three-game losing streak in two years.Cle-Orl

Cleveland’s skid comes on the heels of a 13-game win streak.

Howard was 8-for-13 shooting and added four blocks, and Vince Carter had eight of his 11 points in the fourth quarter to help the Magic beat Cleveland for the first time this season.

O’Neal made his first eight shots and finished with 20 points, and LeBron James had 33 points and nine rebounds for the Cavaliers,

Lebron didn’t have a very good 4th quarter and that was the biggest cause of Cleveland’s loss. Why did he start passing the ball so much instead of shooting it himself?

Orlando knocked Cleveland out of the playoffs last year. I think the Magic are the team in the Eastern Conference with the best chance of beating the Cavaliers this year.


Denver Nuggets Coach George Karl has cancer

He was already a prostate cancer survivor. From ESPN-

Denver Nuggets coach George Karl informed his team Tuesday afternoon that he is in another fight for his life with cancer.

Karl, who had been cancer-free since prostate surgery in July 2005, discovered a worrisome lump on his neck about six weeks ago. A biopsy determined that it was “very treatable and curable” form of neck and throat cancer, Karl said, but it will still require an intense program of radiation and chemotherapy that will probably force him to miss some regular-season games.

“Cancer is a vicious opponent,” he said. “Even the ones that are treatable, you never get a 100-percent guaranteed contract.”

Treatment will consist of 35 sessions over the next six weeks, for what the Nuggets Web site called squamous cell head/neck cancer. The sessions are expected to leave his throat extremely raw, requiring him to be fed through his stomach in the final weeks. “Keeping up your nutrition is a big part of the challenge,” he said.

While the condition is treatable, his doctor, Jacques Saari, said Karl faces a taxing treatment regimen.

I’m a cancer survivor also. If the above account is true, I’d be surprised if Karl coaches at the same time he gets treatments. No matter I wish him success in his latest cancer battle.


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.


Things are looking up? Cleveland beats New Jersey 94-86

After gaining their 3rd win of the 2009-10 NBA season, the Nets went back to their losing ways. From AP-

LeBron James had 28 points, nine rebounds and seven assists, and the Cleveland Cavaliers beat the New Jersey Nets 94-86 on Saturday for their seventh straight victory.Cle-NJN

Mo Williams added 18 points for the Cavaliers, who have won 12 of 13. They have defeated some of the NBA’s top teams during their winning streak, but struggled against the league’s worst for much of this game, leading by only four with 4 1/2 minutes left.

James then put it away, throwing down a dunk and setting up Daniel Gibson for a 3-pointer and an 86-77 lead with 3:05 remaining.

New Jersey’s highest scorer was Devin Harris with 22 points. The Nets were also hoping this game would mark the return of F Jarvis Hayes who has missed over 30 games but coach Kiki Vandeweghe decided Hayes needed more time.

Now for the part of the article that I found amusing.

The Nets fell to 3-30, but the good news is it’s finally 2010, when they’re hoping to be able to transform the franchise. They could have the most money to offer this summer’s free agent class, expected to be highlighted by James, and they hope that, along with his friendship with rapper and part-owner Jay-Z, plus a planned new arena in Brooklyn, could get them in the running for him or one of the other All-Stars who could be available.

James will come play for the worst NBA team(Who hasn’t been able to win 2 games in a row all season) and because one day he might be able to strut his stuff in Brooklyn. Sure, and Associated Press will hire me to be its national golf writer.


Crystal Ball Time

My annual sports predictions for the upcoming year. Due to some unknown reason, I skipped doing this a year ago. What matters is I came back, right?

1 Cleveland beats the LA Lakers for the NBA Championship
2 Indianapolis defeats Arizona in the Super Bowl Crystall ball
3 San Jose defeats Washington for the Stanley Cup
4 St. Louis beats the Los Angeles Angels in the World Series
5 Tiger Woods returns to golf, wins at least one tournament but no major championships. That is a risky prediction in light of the fact that Tiger has won majors on 3 of this year’s host courses.(Augusta National, Pebble Beach, St. Andrews)
6 Phil Mickelson wins the US Open
7 Michelle Wie wins at least two tournaments, one of which is a major championship
8 Ji Yai Shin is LPGA player of the year
9 A non-Korean golfer will be LPGA rookie of the year
10 Yu-Na Kim wins figure skating gold at the 2010 Olympics
11 The Miami Dolphins don’t make this year’s playoffs but have a winning 2010 season
12 The Miami Heat make the playoffs but lose in the 1st round
13 The Florida Marlins have a winning record but don’t make the playoffs
14 Urban Meyer doesn’t return as coach of the Florida Gators
15 Joe Paterno announces his retirement after the 2010 Penn State season is complete
16 The Florida Panthers don’t make the playoffs
17 The Florida Panthers trade Goalie Tomas Vokoun
18 Manny Pacquiao loses to Floyd Mayweather
19 Kansas defeats Purdue for the NCAA Basketball Championship
20 Texas defeats Alabama in the BCS Championship game
21 Army has a winning football season and gets a bowl invitation
22 Washington Redskins fire Coach Jim Zorn
23 Serena Williams wins at Wimbledon
24 Versus and Directv finally settle their dispute
25 A North American horse racing track closes its doors.
26 Sebastian Vettel wins the Formula World Drivers Championship
27 New York Rangers fire Coach John Tortorella
28 The New Jersey Nets don’t finish with the worst record in NBA history
29 Connecticut defeats Tennessee for the NCAA Women’s Basketball Championship
30 At least half these predictions are wrong

We’ll come back on December 31st 2010 and see how I did.


Visitors Since Feb. 4, 2003

All original content copyright 2003-2008 by OTB Media. All rights reserved.