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.


Portland’s Greg Oden suffers year ending knee fracture


Portland center Greg Oden will likely miss the rest of the season after fracturing his left knee cap Saturday night in the Trail Blazers’ victory over the Houston Rockets.

“He’s a strong kid,” said general manager Kevin Pritchard, visibly shaken by the latest injury to befall the 7-foot center. “He’s going to bounce back from this.”

Oden dropped to the floor clutching his left knee and grimacing after colliding with a driving Aaron Brooks midway through the first quarter.

Oden was almost immediately surrounded by trainers and physicians. The crowd at the Rose Garden stood and chanted “Oden! Oden!”

The game was stopped for some 7 minutes. Finally, Oden was gently moved to a stretcher and wheeled from the court. He underwent an MRI shortly thereafter.

The Blazers said Oden will need surgery. A timetable for his return was not immediately set.

Oden was averaging over 11 points a game with 8 assists before his injury. Hopefully Oden will bounce back, but one must be wary in predicting a comeback for the center. He has a history of foot and leg injuries.


Yao Ming out for the rest of the season with broken foot

IMHO this is a death blow to anyt hopes the Houston Rockets had for playoff success. From AP-

Yao Ming will miss the rest of the playoffs because of a broken left foot.

The Houston center limped off the court late in the Los Angeles Lakers’ 108-94 victory over the Rockets on Friday night. Yao missed Saturday’s practice to get treatment and the team said the 7-foot-6 All-Star would be re-evaluated on Sunday.

After finally making it out of the first round, Yao Ming couldn’t reach the end of the second. His season is over after medical examinations revealed a stress fracture in his left foot. Story

But the Rockets announced later Saturday night that further examination of Yao’s injury revealed a hairline fracture. The Rockets say Yao will need 8-12 weeks to recover, though no surgery is required.

The Rockets and Lakers play Game 4 of their Western Conference semifinal series on Sunday. The Lakers lead the series 2-1.

Yao had 19 points and 14 rebounds in Friday’s loss, his sixth straight double-double. But he was noticeably limping by the fourth quarter and finally hobbled off the court in the final minute, with the outcome decided.

Am I wrong in thinking, that the really big men of the NBA have problems with foot injuries? I don’t follow the sport alot, but it always seems to me the 7′ tall or higher players like Yao have trouble staying healthy. Yao has been seriously hurt on at least one other occasion.


NBA player Cuttino Mobley forced to retire due to heart ailment

His 11-year career in the NBA ends with a whimper. From AP-

New York Knicks guard Cuttino Mobley retired from the NBA on Thursday because of heart disease that he said has gotten worse.

Mobley said doctors told him he faced significant risks if he kept playing. The 11-year veteran said by walking away now, he could live a long life.

Mobley, 33, announced his decision at a news conference at the Knicks’ training center, where he confirmed he has hypertrophic cardiomyopathy. The condition causes the heart muscle to thicken, making it harder to pump blood, and he said he had no choice but to end his career.

“The specialists I’ve seen made it clear that my heart condition has gotten worse and I couldn’t continue to play professional basketball without putting my health and life in serious danger,” Mobley said. “As much as I want to keep playing in the NBA, I have no choice but to follow the advice of my doctors and step away from the league.”

Hypertrophic cardiomyopathy is the leading cause of sudden cardiac death in people under 30 years old and was linked to the deaths of former Boston Celtics forward Reggie Lewis and Loyola Marymount star Hank Gathers.

Your health is more important than basketball Cuttino. Good luck in retirement.


Yao Ming out for season with left foot injury

He will need four months off to heal the injury. From AP-

HOUSTON – All-Star center Yao Ming is out for the season with a stress fracture in his left foot, a stunning blow to the surging Houston Rockets. General manager Daryl Morey made the announcement Tuesday, hours before the Rockets put their 12-game winning streak on the line against the Washington Wizards.

Yao was having a terrific season, averaging 22 points and 10.8 rebounds per game.

“It is not an injury we feel he can play with,” Rockets team doctor Tom Clanton said. “I’ve made the recommendation that it be treated surgically and we are working with him to get other opinions just to be certain that that is indeed what should be done.”

If Yao chooses surgery, Clanton said, it would involve placing screws across the bone to hold it together. The second option would be to treat it with a cast and crutches. Both options involve a healing time of about four months.

Clanton would not say when Yao could play again, but said he doesn’t expect the center to miss the Beijing Olympics in August.

The Rocket GM says this won’t compromise Houston’s playoff hopes. Maybe not, but without Yao Houston isn’t likely to advance far.


Globalizing sports

In Foreign Legion, the Baltimore Sun explores the growing globalization of American sports through the lens of the signings of major international stars by American teams. Specifically it looks at the cases of Daisuke Matsuzaka, Yao Ming and David Beckham.

Of Matsuzaka, the article considers the costs, risks and benefits of the Red Sox signing. Right now the financial benefits remain elusive.

The immediate economic benefits to the Red Sox may be more limited. They already sell out every game and charge more per ticket than any team in the league. They spent $103.1 million ($51.1 million for his rights and a six-year, $52 million contract) on Matsuzaka primarily because they wanted an ace for the next six years.”It was first, second and third a baseball decision designed to give us a better team and a better rotation,” Red Sox president Larry Lucchino said. “There are some ancillary benefits, but they are just that — ancillary. The notion that there’s some enormous pot of marketing gold is illusory.”

And I guess, if the Red Sox overpaid, it was also to keep Dice-K away from the Yankees. Still there are some benefits to the signing from a marketing standpoint.

The Sun has an accompanying list of the most prominent signings of foreign players by American sports teams.

In the case of Yao Ming, the article points out that international players are already a significant presence in the NBA, but that China was a real prize.

The league appears on 51 Chinese television stations and has accrued a viewership of 428 million this year. China accounts for 20 percent of the traffic on, and the Rockets’ Mandarin-language Web site ranks among the most viewed sports pages in the world. NBA merchandise sells in more than 20,000 Chinese stores, and the league will open 10 NBA-specific shops in the country by the end of the year.

The benefits of the LA Galaxy signing David Beckham may not be realized only on the soccer field.

MLS receives scant mainstream attention in the United States, but it’s suddenly on the pages of People and on the lips of Access Hollywood anchors. Children in Asia and Europe who’ve hardly given a second thought to U.S. soccer will wear Galaxy jerseys. If the league can attract more international stars, it might connect deeply with immigrant populations that live in the United States but live and die with soccer teams from their original countries.

Some 30 years ago an the NY Cosmos of the NASL signed an international star. That did not work out as well.

In the 1970s, the New York Cosmos signed Pele and other international stars in hopes of popularizing soccer in America. The formula worked for a while as the Cosmos drew more than 40,000 fans a game at Giants Stadium and earned the North American Soccer League a television deal. But the NASL’s other franchises never matched the Cosmos’ aggression, and the league folded less than 10 years after Pele signed his contract.

Globalization can help a team discover new talent or a new fan base. Investing in the former could very well help develop the latter. Smarter teams are going to take advantage of the global market. Or they will risk being left behind.

Incidentally, there’s another side to the globalization of sports. There are the United Soccer Leagues in the U.S. that is affiliated with England’s Premier League. Though the leagues have been operating in Northern America for 20 years, I was unaware of them until a local club – Crystal Palace USA started advertising.

This leads to another question. When will other American major sports leagues follow the lead of NFL Europe and start partnerships with international leagues or teams? This would also extend the marketing reach (as well as the talent pool) of teams and leagues that participate.

Crossposted at Soccer Dad.


Jeff Van Gundy Leaving Rockets

Jeff Van Gundy’s stint as head coach of the Houston Rockets is over after four years and zero trips to the second round of the playoffs.

Saturday’s Game 7 loss to the Jazz was the last for Jeff Van Gundy as the Houston Rockets’ coach, according to the New York Post. Citing an “impeccable source,” The Post reported that Van Gundy is leaving NBA coaching for the forseeable future. According to the source, Van Gundy’s decision isn’t based on the first-round series loss to the Jazz.


Van Gundy wouldn’t discuss his future when asked in the postgame news conference Saturday. When reached by The Houston Chronicle, Van Gundy strongly denied he has decided to leave his job as Rockets coach. “I haven’t even thought about that yet,” Van Gundy said. “It’s just 12 hours after we lost. There has been speculation about my job going on the whole year. Anybody that saying that [he has chosen to step down as Rockets coach], I have no idea why they would say that. “There is no significance to anything other than we lost. That’s the only significant thing.”

Rockets owner Leslie Alexander told The Chronicle that he hasn’t made a decision on Van Gundy, who has one non-guaranteed season remaining on his contract.Alexander told the newspaper that he doesn’t plan to fire Van Gundy. “There is absolutely no truth to that. That’s false, totally false. That decision has not been made,” he told The Chronicle.

The Rockets have missed the playoffs just once in Van Gundy’s four years with the Rockets, but Houston has also failed to make it out of the first round each time.

Given the presence of the most dominant center in the NBA in Yao Ming (now that age has finally caught up to Shaquille Oneal) and a geniune star in Tracy McGrady.

And here’s a stunning stat that demonstrates the volatile nature of the NBA coaching game:

Although he was hired by Houston less than four years ago (June 10, 2003), only two NBA head coaches have a longer continuous tenure with their current team than Van Gundy: Jerry Sloan (with Utah since December 1988) and Gregg Popovich (with San Antonio since December 1996).

That’s just amazing.


Jeff Van Gundy Wants Random NBA Lottery

Jeff Van Gundy wants to make a parody of parity.

The Dallas Mavericks with the No. 1 pick in the 2007 NBA draft? If Rockets coach Jeff Van Gundy had his way, that could happen.

Van Gundy wants to open up the NBA draft lottery to all 30 NBA teams in an effort to keep teams from losing intentionally to hopefully secure the No. 1 pick. “I think every team should have an equal chance at winning the lottery, from the best team all the way down,” Van Gundy told The Houston Chronicle. “I don’t want to accuse anyone of anything. I would say to take away any possible conflict of interest, everyone should have an equal chance at the top pick all the way down. That way there would be absolutely no question by anybody about anything. If it’s better for the game, they should do it. I never quite understood why losing is rewarded, other than [for] parity.”

According to The Chronicle, Van Gundy presented his proposal to the NBA, but wasn’t taken seriously.

Ya think? Saying “I never quite understood why losing is rewarded, other than [for] parity” is like saying, “I never understood why people bother to breathe, other than the living.”

Indeed, the NBA is the only league with a lottery than a pure inverse order of finish draft. Until a few years ago, every team had a chance to get the top player, although it was weighted. Still, it resulted in the best teams occasionally getting ridiculously high picks.


Greatest NBA Centers Ever

For Shaq’s 35th Birthday ESPN saw fit to rank the top 10 centers of all time and I can’t disagree with #1 at all.

Kareem Abdul-Jabbar

As for his achievements: 1967-68 USBWA College Player of the Year; 1969 Naismith Award; Six-time NBA MVP; Six-time NBA Champion; Two-time Finals MVP; NBA Rookie of the Year (1970); and NBA Hall of Fame (1995).

Like no other player, Abdul-Jabbar embodied the maestro team brilliance of Bill Russell and the individual excellence of Wilt Chamberlain. His NBA cup runneth over: six championships, a record six MVPs and a Finals MVP award … at 38 years old!

Possessed the single most unstoppable shot in NBA history — the sky hook — but more than that, he was clutch, consistent and underrated in the toughness department.

He was the starting center on six championship teams and had the presence of mind to cohabitate with stars like Oscar Robertson, Magic Johnson and James Worthy.

He’s the all-time leading scorer with 38,387 points; was named to the All-NBA Defensive team 11 times; and is the only modern era player to lead the league at least once in scoring, rebounding, blocked shots, minutes played, field-goal percentage and PER.

However, in their explanation of choosing Kareem as #1 I believe they left out on of the most amazing things about Kareem’s career. His expected arrival in the college ranks led to directly to a preemptive rule change by NCAA when they banned the dunk after the 1967 season and reinstated it shortly after his departure from UCLA. No other player that I can think of recieved the same treatment. While the rule was made mostly to limit his size advantage, it didn’t slow Kareem down as UCLA went 88-2 while he was a player.

The other thing to ponder about this list would is where Bill Walton would be if he hadn’t the chronic injury problems.

As for the complete list:
1. Kareem Abdul-Jabbar
2. Wilt Chamberlain
3. Bill Russell
4. Shaquille O’Neal
5. Hakeem Olajuwon
6. Moses Malone
7. Bill Walton
8. David Robinson
9. George Mikan
10. Patrick Ewing


Dwyane Wade out indefinitely with shoulder injury

The struggles of the defending NBA Champ Miami Heat continue.

HOUSTON (Reuters) – Miami Heat All-Star guard Dwyane Wade is out of action indefinitely after suffering a shoulder injury during Wednesday night’s loss to the Houston Rockets.

The game, won by the Rockets 112-102, marked an ominous return to the bench for Heat coach Pat Riley, who missed the team’s last 22 games to address his own knee and hip injuries.

He said the “other guys will have to step up” following Wade’s injury, initially diagnosed as a separated shoulder.

“We will have to emphasize a whole different game because he means so much to us,” Riley told reporters. “Over the next couple of days we’ll find out the extent of his injury and then we’ll go to the drawing board on what we’ll have to do.”

Wade scored 27 points and had nine assists before being forced from the game. The twice All-Star is averaging nearly 29 points and eight assists a game for the defending NBA champions.

With Wade out, Shaq barely back from his injuries, and the Heat standing at 26-27, is Pat Riley already reconsidering his return to coaching the team? Maybe he’ll give the job back to Stan Van Gundy, who made a rare appearance recently but with the wrong South Florida sports team. Yes Van Gundy will replace Riley as Heat coach the same day The Palm Beach Post hires me to write a sports column.

I’m sticking by my New Year’s prediction- The Heat will not make the postseason this year.

Cross posted to Poliblog’s Deportes


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