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.


Ticking clock- Miami beats New Jersey 99-89

The Nets lost their 8th straight game tonight. From AP-

Dwyane Wade had 27 points and 12 assists, and the Miami Heat continued their good play in March with a 99-89 victory over the free-falling New Jersey Nets on Monday night.Mia-NJ

Jermaine O’Neal added 25 points as the Heat improved to 8-3 in the month that has seen them climb to sixth place in the Eastern Conference. Michael Beasley added 16 and Carlos Arroyo 12.

Brook Lopez had 26 points, but the Nets (7-63) lost their eighth straight as they possibly head toward the worst record in NBA history. New Jersey has to win three of its final 12 to avoid breaking the Philadelphia 76ers’ mark for futility (9-73), set in 1972-73.

Actually the Nets need to win only two games to not break the record. With 2 victories they will equal the mark. At this point in time I expect the Nets to do no better than 9 wins. They haven’t won two games in a row all season.


Slow speed chase- Miami Heat’s Carlos Arroyo arrested after traffic violation

Among the charges he faces, is driving too slow. From the Miami Herald-

Miami Heat point guard Carlos Arroyo was arrested Friday in Coral Gables and is facing charges for a traffic violation and resisting arrest.Carlos Arroyo

According to the arrest report, Arroyo was spotted at 8:41 a.m. driving slow enough along the 7100 block of Old Cutler Road to the point that he was said to be impeding traffic.

Arroyo apparently was on his way to the Heat’s practice at AmericanAirlines Arena. He did not attend the workout in advance of Saturday’s game against Milwaukee.

“We are aware of the traffic stop involving Carlos Arroyo this morning, and while we fully support our players, this is a pending legal matter and we will have no comment at this time,” Heat president Pat Riley said in a statement.

According to the incident report, a motorcycle patrolman made several attempts to stop Arroyo’s vehicle. Additional police units were called because of Arroyo’s initial unwillingness to pull over his car, according to the incident report.

Arroyo, 30, eventually stopped but “attempted to resist” being handcuffed when he exited his car. He was also accused of being “confrontational and challenging” and “posing a threat to both himself and officers,” the report said.

Arroyo appears to have scratches and red marks on his face and neck in a mug shot taken by police when he was booked at the Coral Gables Police Department. He is charged with operating a vehicle at a low enough speed to impede traffic, resisting arrest without violence and failing to obey a lawful order. Arroyo was released on a promising to appear in court.

Resisting police without violence? Then why those cuts to his face? I have a very low opinion of South Florida law enforcement. They don’t believe the law applies to them, and I cite multiple instances that say just that. Plus my own personal experience of getting harassed by five to six policemen and almost arrested. My crime? Waving down an officer when my car broke down. Right now Arroyo has my sympathy.


Streaks of one- Miami beats New Jersey 87-84

Are the 2009-10 Nets the worst team in NBA history? From AP-

Michael Beasley had 23 points and 11 rebounds and the Miami Heat overcame the early loss of All-Star MVP Dwyane Wade in beating the New Jersey Nets 87-84 on Wednesday night for their season-high fourth straight victory.

Jermaine O’Neal, who strained his lower back in a first-quarter fall, hit three free throws and had two blocks down the stretch as the Heat used a game-closing 13-4 spurt to prevent the Nets from winning consecutive games for the first time this season.

Wade strained his left calf sometime in the opening 7:26 and did not play again. He finished with eight points, snapping his streak of 148 straight games in double figures, the second-longest active streak in the NBA behind LeBron James (255).

Quentin Richardson added 16 points — including a tying 3-pointer with 1:52 to go, and a game-high 14 rebounds for Miami.

Brook Lopez had 26 points and 10 rebounds for the Nets, whose only basket in the final 4:56 came on a goaltending call at the buzzer. Devin Harris added 18 points.

The Nets appeared to headed for their sixth win of the season when Keyon Dooling (14 points) converted a three-point play with 4:56 to play to put them ahead 80-74.

The prospects looked even brighter when O’Neal missed two free throws on the Heat’s ensuring possession.

However, the Nets went ice cold and Miami just kept on coming.

I do think the answer to my question is yes. New Jersey isn’t just 5-49 right now but also unable to win two games in a row at any time this season. They would have gotten to two with a win tonight. Dwyane Wade gets injured, the Nets get a six point lead with less than five minutes to go in the game and the team still finds a way to lose. New Jersey is the worst. They will not get to double digits in wins this year. There are 28 games left in the season and gaining their getting six wins will nothing short of miraculous.


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?


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.


Rolling Thunder- Oklahoma City beats Miami 100-87

The Heat’s Dwyane Wade was just 6 of 19 shooting the basketball. From AP-

With plenty of good seats still available around the end of the first quarter, the Miami Heat gave some upper-deck fans a rare chance to move into the lower level.Thunder Heat Basketball

If nothing else, they got a better look at Kevin Durant and the much-improved Oklahoma City Thunder.

Durant had 32 points, nine rebounds and five assists, Russell Westbrook finished with 24 points and seven assists and the Thunder added to their surprising start by beating the Heat 100-87 on Tuesday night. An early 20-1 run put the Thunder in control, and a 14-2 burst in the third quarter helped seal it for Oklahoma City.

OKC has begun the year 6-5 and is one of the NBA’s biggest surprises so far. Last year the Thunder only won 6 of its first 38 games.

Pro franchises once upon a time, would let cheap seat ticket buyers fill the more expensive areas of a stadium or arena after say a certain amount of the game was played. My late father used to tell stories of exactly that happening at the old Polo Grounds.


Former UAB and NBA Basketball player Alan Ogg dead at 42

Very sad and RIP.

Alan Ogg, a 7-foot-2 shotblocker who played for UAB Blazers and spent parts of three seasons in the NBA, died Sunday from complications from a staph infection, a university spokesman said. He was 42.Ogg

UAB spokesman Norm Reilly said Ogg died at UAB Hospital.

Ogg played 80 NBA games over three seasons beginning in 1990 with the Miami Heat, who had a moment of silence Sunday night before playing Chicago. He also played for Milwaukee and Washington, and averaged 2.2 points and 1.7 rebounds during his career.

Ogg is UAB’s career leader with 266 blocked shots over four seasons, averaging more than two a game.


The last blow(out)- Atlanta Hawks eliminate Miami Heat 91-78

My father, who coached future NBA player Toby Knight as a youth, used to say about basketball- “If you don’t watch the game till the last five minutes, you aren’t missing anything. Even then you may not miss anything worth watching.” That statement would apply well to the NBA series that finished today.

The final blowout went to Atlanta, so it’s the Hawks who’ll get a shot at LeBron James and the Cleveland Cavaliers.

Joe Johnson scored 27 points to make up for a mostly disappointing series and the Hawks won the first Game 7 ever played in Atlanta, beating Dwayne Wade and the Miami Heat 91-78 Sunday to advance to the second round of the NBA playoffs for the first time in a decade.

A series totally devoid of drama ended in appropriate fashion. After a back-and-forth first quarter that ended with Atlanta ahead 20-18, the Hawks pulled out to a 49-36 lead by halftime.

They might as well have started the celebration right then. There were only 15 lead changes in seven games — not one of them after the opening period. Every game was decided by at least 10 points, and this one wasn’t nearly as close as the final margin.

Atlanta gets to face Cleveland and Lebron James next. I predict a Cavalier sweep.

As for the Heat, they need to build a team that doesn’t entirely on the temperamental and injury prone Dwyane Wade.


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