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.


NBA Forward Shawne Williams indicted on felony drug charges

He was also released by the New Jersey Nets today. From AP-

Former NBA and Memphis player Shawne Williams has been indicted on felony drug charges.

Prosecutors said Friday that Williams was indicted Tuesday by a county grand jury on eight counts for possession and conspiracy to sell a codeine-based syrup.

Williams was jailed with bond set at $16,000. It was not immediately known if he had a lawyer.

Earlier Friday, the New Jersey Nets said they had waived Williams, a 23-year-old forward, after acquiring him earlier this week from Dallas along with Kris Humphries for veteran forward Eduardo Najera.

Man, it sure isn’t Shawne Williams week. He got arrested for a felony and released by the worst team in the NBA this year.

Williams, a former first round pick of the Indiana Pacers, hasn’t played in a NBA game this season. Lets hope he pulls his life together.


Keep digging- Indiana beats Phoenix 122-114

For the second consecutive game, the Pacers overcame a twenty plus point deficit. From AP-

Indiana’s formula for victory this week has been simple: fall behind by more than 20 points, then stage a frantic rally to win.

Danny Granger scored 33 points, Mike Dunleavy added a season-high 30 and the Pacers overcame a 24-point deficit to beat the Phoenix Suns 122-114 on Wednesday night.

It has been a pretty impressive week for the Pacers. For the second straight game, Indiana trailed by more than 20 points in the second quarter and won.

It was the second straight game the Pacers trailed by more than 20 points in the second quarter and won. Indiana was down 23 against Toronto on Monday night before rallying for a victory.

“One of these days, we’ll get a lead,” Pacers coach Jim O’Brien said. “That’s another tremendous, gutsy comeback for our team.”

The biggest comeback seen in the 2009-10 NBA season was when Sacramento rallied from 35 points down to beat Chicago.

Last night’s loss was a painful one for the Suns in more than one way.

Watson elbowed Nash on a drive to the basket with just over four minutes left in the first quarter. A Suns spokeswoman said a tooth went through Nash’s upper lip. He received four stitches on his upper lip and three on the inside of his mouth.

Pardon the pun, but I think Nash and the Suns will make a quick rebound from their loss to Indiana.


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?


It takes a retreat- Miami Heat break 15-game losing streak

Was it just coincidence the Heat win while I was away on a Catholic retreat with 10 other men from the church I attend this weekend?

Winning for the first time since Dec. 22, the Heat snapped its 15-game losing streak Saturday when Dwyane Wade finally ran into an opponent he single-handedly could bring down.

With Wade scoring 35 points, including the final nine of an 11-0 third-quarter streak that helped rally his team from what had been an 11-point deficit, the Heat withstood the Indiana Pacers 98-96 at AmericanAirlines Arena.

“Hopefully,” Wade said, “we can get going and we can forget all about that has happened.”

There certainly is plenty to forget, including Saturday’s final harrowing minutes, after the Heat nearly blew all of the 94-85 lead it took when Wade converted a 3-pointer with 4:34 to play.

But it took Wade knocking away a Troy Murphy inbounds pass with seconds remaining for the Heat to survive.

“It really felt like we won the championship,” said forward Dorell Wright, who tossed the ball high in the air at the final buzzer.

God works in mysterious ways.

In my youth football and baseball days, I played on more than one pitiful team. When we did win for a change, you’d think we won the league championship. I know what Dorell Wright is saying. At the same time, the unfortunate losers namely the Pacers, feel the ignominy of being the team that ends the streak. Indiana will get over it, but how many more games will it be before the Heat win again?

Miami needs to re-build, and its going to take some time. Shaq is all but done, Wade is brilliant but brittle. There isn’t much in the way of positives for the Heat. I’m sticking to my 2008 prediction, Pat Riley won’t be back as coach for the 2008-09 season. If he doesn’t quit sometime during this season first.


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.


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.


Kevin Garnett to the Lakers

Kevin Garnett and Kobe Bryant could be on the same team if talks currently underway bear fruit. Mike Bresnahan reports:

Kevin Garnett to the Lakers Photo The owners of the Lakers and Minnesota Timberwolves have begun talks for a trade that would involve sending Kevin Garnett to the Lakers, league sources said Monday. (Ann Heisenfelt / AP)

The owners of the Lakers and Minnesota Timberwolves have begun talks for a trade that would involve sending Kevin Garnett to the Lakers, league sources said today. A multi-team trade discussion is underway involving the Lakers, Indiana, Minnesota and possibly a fourth team, with the Lakers getting Garnett and the Pacers getting Lamar Odom and teenage center Andrew Bynum from the Lakers. Another minor player will probably be added to make the deal work financially.


Garnett can opt out of his contract after next season. He wants an extension, which Buss reportedly told Taylor he was willing to offer. Garnett is due to earn $22 million next season and $23 million in 2008-09, the last year of his contract.

Garnett, a 10-time All-Star, averaged 22.4 points, 12.8 rebounds, 4.1 assists and 1.7 blocked shots last season while showing few signs of slowing down, other than spending the last five games of the season in Los Angeles — he has a home in Malibu — to rest a sore right quadriceps.

Bynum, 19, started his second NBA season with a flurry, including a memorable game against Minnesota in November in which he had 20 points,14 rebounds and three blocked shots. But Bynum struggled during the second half of the season and finished with averages of 7.8 points and 5.9 rebounds a game. The Lakers have been criticized by Bryant for not trading Bynum at the February trade deadline to get Jason Kidd from New Jersey.

Odom, 27, was acquired three years ago as part of the trade that sent Shaquille O’Neal to Miami. Odom averaged 15.9 points, 9.8 rebounds and 4.8 assists last season and missed 26 games because of knee and shoulder injuries. He had a torn labrum in his left shoulder repaired last month and is expected to return in time for training camp in October.

While Bynum has tremendous upside at his age and Odom is a solid player, this would be a windfall for the Lakers. Maybe this time Kobe will appreciate that having a second superstar player on his team is a good thing.


Let the Hype Begin

The battle of the black shoes will be joined in Miami Sunday, February 4th, 2007. Super Bowl XLI pits the high powered offense of the Indianapolis Colts (Congrats Peyton, Tony and company) versus the stifling defense of the Chicago Bears. Your humbled correspondent couldn’t have picked it worse. Let’s look at each game.

First in the NFC Championship

In order, Lovie Smith last week listed the goals he had for the Bears when he was hired three years ago.

Beat Green Bay. Win the NFC North. Deliver a Super Bowl championship to the NFL’s cornerstone franchise.

He beat the Packers in his first try and is 4-2 against them. He won the division each of the last two seasons. And now he and the Bears are headed to Miami for the Super Bowl, where they will meet the Indianapolis Colts on Feb. 4 to try to complete the trifecta.

Smith’s defense suffocated the New Orleans Saints’ high-octane offense Sunday, and with snow falling in the second half at raucous Soldier Field — reminiscent of the last time the Bears won the NFC title — this group made history. In throttling the Saints 39-14, the Bears were nearly flawless. They had no turnovers, one meaningless penalty for five yards and four takeaways.

The snow mixed with raining confetti as Tony Dorsett presented team matriarch Virginia McCaskey with the George Halas Trophy — the prize named after her father. The low-profile owner, 83, left the field with family after the celebration but was prodded by a daughter to comment.

”I’m speechless,” she said. ”It’s just lovely. Lovie always says it’s never in doubt, so here we are.”

Smith and Colts coach Tony Dungy become the first black head coaches to lead teams to the Super Bowl.

Pay close attention to that theme. It will be profoundly important this week. Various pundits and so-called experts on sports will discuss how important it is that the NFL’s diversity measures have had such an excellent impact. They are wrong. Lovie Smith and Tony Dungy will be coaching their teams in the Super Bowl not because the NFL’s policy of mandatory minority interviews for head coaching positions. They are they because they are damn fine coaches. Lovie Smith turned around a Bears squad that had languished at the bottom of the NFC North. Dungy proved his mettle in Tampa Bay, building a championship caliber team, and in guiding the Colts to one Divisional Title after another. To say either has gotten here because of a quota policy does these men a great disservice.Speaking of Dungy

Twenty-three years after the Mayflower moving vans delivered the Baltimore Colts to Indianapolis, the Colts have delivered a Super Bowl to a championship-starved city. Indianapolis hasn’t celebrated a major professional title since the Indiana Pacers won an ABA banner in 1973.

The Colts will meet the Chicago Bears in Super Bowl XLI on Feb. 4 in Dolphin Stadium in Miami. It will be a showdown between old friends and the first two black head coaches to take teams to the Super Bowl.

Lovie Smith, whose Bears beat New Orleans 39-14 earlier Sunday, served as an assistant coach under Dungy from 1996 through 2000 at Tampa Bay.

That can wait. The Colts and their leather-lunged crowd had reason to party Sunday. They slew the dragon, vanquished the ghosts, exorcised the demons of playoffs past. The proud Patriots have won the Super Bowl three of the past five years. They twice dismissed the Colts along the way: in the 2003 AFC Championship Game and in a 2004 divisional game.

It is tough for the NFL to have a better matchup. One unstoppable offense. One dominating defense. Two storied franchises, though one in a different city than where it compiled its storied past. In addition, Patriot fatigue, palpable in much of the world, apart from Patriot Nation, was beginning to show. (How’s that for a silver lining?) It is good to have two teams who have not been to the Super Bowl for awhile in the big game. And while Patriot fans, like yours truly, have whacked Peyton like a Pinata, he earned last night’s victory. He led his team when it counted, late in the game. And in a drive eerily reminiscent of Tom Brady’s finest moments, he won the game. He deserves the accolades he will get this and next week.

Two cities are filled with joy today, basking in the afterglow of what fans hope is just the appetizer. The main course will be served up in two weeks. May the best team win.


Pacers’ Jackson fires gun at strip club

From AP-

INDIANAPOLIS – Indiana Pacers player Stephen Jackson was hit in the mouth, struck by a car and fired a gun outside a strip club early Friday, police said.

Jackson, 28, told officers he fired his 9 mm pistol four or five times in the air in self-defense after he was punched and hit by a car outside the club, said Sgt. Matthew Mount, spokesman for the Indianapolis Police Department.

Jackson went up onto the hood of the car, Mount said.

There were no reports of anyone being struck by the gunfire, and police did not make any immediate arrests. Police are looking for the car that hit Jackson and others involved.

An argument involving patrons, Jackson and other members of the Pacers began inside the club, Mount said. The players said they left the club, but patrons followed them outside.

Jackson was limping but refused medical treatment at the scene, Mount said. He conferred with a Pacers trainer and sought medical treatment at a hospital.

The other Pacers at the scene were Jamaal Tinsley, Marquis Daniels and Jimmie Hunter.

Tinsley and Daniels also had guns in their cars, and all three players had permits for the weapons, Mount said, although Daniels’ permit was issued in Florida.

Apparently today was not Stephen Jackson’s lucky day. He got hit in the mouth and struck by a car. On the other hand he was lucky, with all the guns around, Jackson could have been shot also.


Visitors Since Feb. 4, 2003

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