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Friday, February 23, 2007

He always rose to the occasion-

By Jackie MacMullan, Globe Columnist February 23, 2007
He was the guy who would miss 11 straight shots, then come down the court with everything on the line and drill the game-winner without blinking.

That's how I will remember Dennis Johnson, the freckle-faced bulldog who joined the Celtics in 1983 and was a pivotal member of the 1984 and '86 championship teams. DJ's role was often diminished amid the long shadows of Larry Bird, Kevin McHale, and Robert Parish, yet he was the one Bird singled out as "the best teammate I've ever played with."

Johnson collapsed and died yesterday in Austin, Texas, where he was the coach of the Austin Toros of the NBA Development League. He was 52 years old, too young to have his life cut so terribly short.

"What a sad, sad day," said McHale. "I tell you, this one really hits you. I was just talking to a friend who had just talked with DJ, and he was telling me how excited DJ was about his team. I guess his guys had started out losing eight in a row, or something like that, but lately they had been winning, and no one was happier about that than him.

"I can't believe this has happened. First Reggie [Lewis] and now him. We're too young to be losing teammates like this."

Thursday, February 22, 2007

A Quiet Trade Deadline

By David

When the clock struck 3 P.M. Jason Kidd and Vince Carter remained New Jersey Nets', Mike Bibby was still a King and Pau Gasol was not a member of the Bulls.

Only three trades were completed on Thursday and those deals ended up being extremely minor. Veteran guard Anthony Johnson was dealt to the
Hawks for a draft pick, former Maryland star Juan Dixon went north of the border to Toronto for Fred Jones and big man Alan Henderson went
to the Jazz.

Today's trade deadline passed without any major deals getting done. Usually at the least, one or two big names would have been dealt, but that was not the case this year. I wonder what we owe the apprehensiveness of NBA general managers to trade players and draft picks to?

As it turns out, the biggest trade of the season did not occur today, but rather December 19th when Allen Iverson became a member of the Denver Nuggets.

Wade hurts left shoulder. Heat says injury is a dislocation-

Without D-Wade, the Heat have no chance of winning. Hopefully flash is back for the playoffs, but if he's out for an extended period of time Miami will have a difficult time of reaching the postseason.

By Chris Perkins
Palm Beach Post Staff Wrtier

Thursday, February 22, 2007

Guard Dwyane Wade left the court in a wheelchair in the fourth quarter of Miami's 112-102 loss Wednesday after sustaining what is initially being called a dislocated left shoulder.

"It looks like Dwyane might be out for a while," said coach Pat Riley, who returned to the bench after missing 26 games to have knee surgery and hip-replacement surgery.

Wade, the Heat's do-it-all, on-court leader, got hurt reaching in to defend Houston forward Shane Battier while Battier was making a spin move in the lane with a little more than 10 minutes left.

Wade was taken to a Houston area hospital for X-rays. A team spokesman said the wheelchair was only a procedural/precautionary measure.

Riley said the Heat is trying to arrange to get Wade, the league's fourth-leading scorer at 28.8 points per game, back to Miami "as quickly as possible." The Heat usually has players undergo MRIs in Miami.

"We're disappointed about the loss, but we're just worried about Dwyane," Riley said.

"Really concerned about him."

This is the same shoulder Wade bruised against Portland on Feb. 13, Miami's last game before the All-Star break.

In that game, Wade was attempting a layup and landed awkwardly on the body of Trail Blazers center Joel Pryzbilla, but Wade returned to the court relatively quickly.

There was no such luck Wednesday.

Heat center Alonzo Mourning had one thought when he saw Wade grab his shoulder.

"Not again," Mourning said.

"I don't know what it is. Injuries are part of the game, but it seems as though this year we've been behind the eight ball when it comes to injuries."

Miami is 1-6 without Wade this season.

Wade's immediate absence would, of course, severely hinder Miami's chances of defeating Dallas, its NBA Finals opponent, in tonight's game at AmericanAirlines Center.

Beyond that, however, an extended absence could mean Miami, which is hanging on to the eighth and final playoff spot in the Eastern Conference, has little hope of drastically improving its playoff positioning.

"I do know this," Mourning said, "we still have enough in here to get it done."

In a season in which it appears the Heat won't stay healthy for any length of time Wade's injury, depending on its severity, would be the most crushing blow of all.

In a way, it figured Wade (27 points, nine assists), or some other Heat player, would get injured against the Rockets.

Wednesday marked the first time this season the defending NBA champion Heat got its full complement of players and coaches on the court together.

This was Riley's first game on the bench since Dec. 30.

Miami was 13-17 under Riley and then went 13-9 under interim head coach Ron Rothstein, who is now back to being Riley's top assistant.

Riley's presence, as well as that of guard Jason Williams, who was listed as questionable because of his torn abdominal muscle, made Miami whole for the first time this season.

That comes very late considering Wednesday was its 53rd game.

Last season, the Heat got what turned out to be its eight-man rotation on the floor in the 27th game.

Still, it was largely encouraging to get everybody back considering the Heat returned 13 of the 15 players from last season's title squad.

Heat center Shaquille O'Neal posted his second double-double of the year with 20 points to go along with a season-best 16 rebounds in a game in which the Heat never led.

Riley said O'Neal, who has missed 39 games because of to injury, will likely become the focal point of the offense now.

"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 have to do," Riley said.

Saturday, February 17, 2007

Sophomores 155, Rookies 114- AP

I'm happy that David Lee and Monta Ellis were able to shin in this game because they are both having outstanding seasons with their respective teams.
By BRIAN MAHONEY, AP Basketball Writer

February 16, 2007

LAS VEGAS (AP) -- The NBA's leading shooter had a field day in a game with no defense.

New York forward David Lee was 14-for-14 from the field and scored 30 points, leading the sophomores to a 155-114 victory over the rookies Friday night in the rookie challenge.

Monta Ellis of Golden State added 28 points on a number of dunks as the sophomores set a game scoring record, surpassing the 142 points they scored in 2004. They shot 74.7 percent (68-of-91) and have won the last five games.

Lee, who leads the NBA in field-goal percentage at 61.2 percent, was voted the game's MVP. Chris Paul, the reigning Rookie of the Year, added 16 points, 17 assists and nine steals.

Rudy Gay of Memphis and Utah's Paul Millsap each scored 22 points for the rookies, who never led and trailed by as many as 43 points.

Bill Russell sat next to the rookie bench, and he might have been reminded of his old rival, Wilt Chamberlain, while watching Lee. Chamberlain had three games where he was perfect on 15 or more attempts, including an 18-for-18 night on Feb. 24, 1967.

Lee scored the first four points, and the game really wasn't close after that. Houston's Luther Head gave the sophomores a 26-15 lead with a 3-pointer with 13:31 left in the half, and the rookies never got within single digits again.

The rookies looked helpless later in the half, when Ellis had five alley-oop dunks in a span of less than 3 1/2 minutes, pushing the lead to 31 points on his final one.

The second-year players shot 78 percent (35-for-45) in the first half, with Paul recording 11 assists in 11 minutes off the bench. Ellis was 7-for-7 in the half.

Lee added five more field goals in the first 5 minutes of the second half, and the lead ballooned to 40 on Raymond Felton's 3-pointer a few minutes later.

Last year's draft was considered a weak one, and the rookies did nothing to change that opinion. Even when they seemed to do something right, it went wrong.

Gay powerfully blocked one of Ellis' shoots off the backboard, but he was called for goaltending and it turned into a three-point play because Ellis had been fouled while taking his shot.

Ellis was 13-of-16 from the floor. Utah's Deron Williams scored 19 points and Felton had 17.

Adam Morrison finished with 16 points for the rookies. Andrea Bargnani, the No. 1 overall pick, had 12 on 5-for-11 shooting.

The game was sponsored by T-Mobile, which teamed with the NBA to host more than 6,000 area students in the lower section of the arena.

Updated on Saturday, Feb 17, 2007 2:42 am EST

Thursday, February 15, 2007

Tim Hardaway says he hates 'gay people'- AP

Tim Hardaway should be ashamed by his comments towards gay people. It is disgraceful to think that an established person like himself would come onto the radio and say such hateful words.

It's important to note that Sports Talk 790 The Ticket is also broadcasted on television, so thousands of more people had the opportunity to hear his ignorant comments.

February 15, 2007

MIAMI (AP) -- Retired Miami Heat guard Tim Hardaway said Wednesday that he hates gay people, but later said he regretted the remarks.

"You know, I hate gay people, so I let it be known. I don't like gay people and I don't like to be around gay people," he said while a guest on Sports Talk 790 The Ticket. "I'm homophobic. I don't like it. It shouldn't be in the world or in the United States."

The discussion was sparked by last week's announcement that retired NBA center John Amaechi is gay.

The host asked Hardaway how he would interact with a gay teammate.

"First of all, I wouldn't want him on my team. And second of all, if he was on my team, I would, you know, really distance myself from him because, uh, I don't think that is right. I don't think he should be in the locker room while we are in the locker room."

If he did find out that a teammate was gay, Hardaway said he would ask for the player to be removed from the team.

"Something has to give," Hardaway said. "If you have 12 other ballplayers in your locker room that's upset and can't concentrate and always worried about him in the locker room or on the court or whatever, it's going to be hard for your teammates to win and accept him as a teammate."

Amaechi also detailed his life, in his autobiography "Man in the Middle," which was released Wednesday. He hoped his coming out would be a catalyst for intelligent discourse.

"I'm actually tempted to laugh," Amaechi told The Miami Herald.
"Finally, someone who is honest. It is ridiculous, absurd, petty, bigoted and shows a lack of empathy that is gargantuan and unfathomable. But it is honest. And it illustrates the problem better than any of the fuzzy language other people have used so far."

Hardaway later apologized for the remarks during a telephone interview with Fox affiliate WSVN in Miami.

"Yes, I regret it. I'm sorry. I shouldn't have said I hate gay people or anything like that," he said. "That was my mistake."

Hardaway has reportedly been removed from further league-related appearances.

"It is inappropriate for him to be representing us given the disparity between his views and ours," NBA commissioner David Stern said in a statement to the South Florida Sun-Sentinel.

Updated on Thursday, Feb 15, 2007 5:43 am EST

Wednesday, February 14, 2007

Nash, Iverson, Kidd, Boozer and Ming to miss this weekends All-Star Game

By David

The NBA has witnessed a litany of injuries to many of their superstars this
season and this weekend the fans at the Thomas and Mack Center in Las Vegas will not have the opportunity to see some of the best players in action.

Replacing these stars will be Carmelo Anthony, Josh Howard, Mehmet Okur and Ray Allen. A replacement for the Nets Jason Kidd has not been announced yet.

If I had it my way, the Bulls Ben Gordon would replace Kidd. The former University of Connecticut star might only be averaging 21.2 ppg, but he's doing that coming off the bench. Gordon is the odds on favorite to win this years sixth man award and for that he should be rewarded with a trip to Vegas.

Friday, February 09, 2007

Old Celtics Are Untainted by Failure -

This was a very interesting article to read and one that is sure to get the attention of the Indiana Pacers.

Published: February 9, 2007

Imagine if it were Isiah Thomas’s team that since November 2004 had led the N.B.A. in behavioral lines crossed, combinations of punches thrown and shots fired from an actual gun.

That team is the Indiana Pacers, whom he formerly coached, back in the news this week for more pugilistic misadventures, notwithstanding the alleged management of Larry Bird, a state native son who remains Teflon-coated, iconic clean.

Still playing by 1980s-era rules, it is obviously so much easier to beat up on a Motown Bad Boy than a sainted old Celtic.

This isn’t to say that Thomas’s reign at Madison Square Garden as the avowed but embattled Knicks savior hasn’t set its own unsavory standards and deserved the scrutiny. But when will the dots in Indianapolis be connected by the national news media? When will those habitually hand-swiped bottoms of Bird’s sneakers be held to the fire?

While it’s true that Bird ranks under Donnie Walsh, the longtime and widely respected Pacers’ chief executive, and has not had the sole authority that Thomas has enjoyed, his three and a half seasons as president of basketball operations have, in certain respects, been as turbulent as Thomas’s.

Remember how Bird swooped into town and within weeks replaced Thomas as the Pacers coach with Rick Carlisle, one of his favorite Celtics bench cheerleaders? The Pacers’ linchpin, Jermaine O’Neal, was in Puerto Rico that summer with a group of Larry Brown-coached N.B.A. stars, trying to qualify for the 2004 Summer Olympics. O’Neal was fit to be tied, if not traded, when Thomas was canned after O’Neal had signed a long-term contract with the presumption that Thomas would be his coach.

O’Neal was every bit the loyalist, as was Eddy Curry this week when commenting on the possible exit of Thomas from New York, which confirms Thomas as a sage mentor or skilled hypnotist.

It says here that Thomas never got enough credit for the groundwork he laid with a team in transition in Indiana, especially after Carlisle took the Pacers to the Eastern Conference finals the next spring. Carlisle was anointed a genius, blessed as he was by the Larry and his leprechauns, until Ron Artest charged into the stands months later on the road against Detroit, with Stephen Jackson in raging pursuit, dragging what had been one of the league’s more stable franchises into continuous chaos.

You can argue that Bird inherited Artest, except he stuck with him after his suspension and eventually had to trade him with compromised leverage. Peja Stojakovic, acquired for Artest, called Bird his idol upon joining the Pacers, but left town as a free agent first chance he got.

You can say that Jackson is plain trouble, but Bird traded for him and held onto him long enough for Jackson to embarrass the franchise again last October in a multiplayer nightclub incident starring Jackson in an adaptation of his on-court persona as designated gunner.

To an ever-changing roster and an increasingly mediocre team Bird obtained Marquis Daniels, one of three Pacers (Jamaal Tinsley and Keith McLeod were the others) under police investigation after a melee in another Indianapolis nightspot early Tuesday morning. (Daniels and Tinsley were also involved in the October scuffle.)

Not arrested or charged, the players have denied being in a fight hours after Jackson returned with Golden State for the first time Monday night after an eight-player deal and torched the Pacers for 36 points. What symmetry. Bob Kravitz of The Indianapolis Star surveyed the wreckage of the team’s reputation and called the Pacers “an embarrassment of an organization” in his column yesterday, adding that he would “rather be the Boston Celtics.”

Still playing by those 1980s-era rules, imagine if it were Thomas’s team that had dropped 36 of 48 games this season and 16 straight in Year 3 of a declared youth movement, and not a franchise under the direction of Danny Ainge.

Playing for weeks without their best player, Paul Pierce, better explains the Celtics’ franchise-record losing streak, but is there really any doubt that in the same period of time that Bird has been in Indiana, and a few months longer than Thomas has been in New York, that Ainge has done the worst job of the three.? Where is the national condemnation for collapsing the most storied N.B.A. franchise of all?

Ainge can only hope for enough rope to lasso one of the anticipated college draft studs, Greg Oden or Kevin Durant. The odds are he will get it because sainted old Celtics typically are given the benefit of the doubt, as Kevin McHale has proved in his home state of Minnesota.

Imagine if it were Thomas’s team that had only two playoff series victories to show for a decade with a superstar like Kevin Garnett, and not McHale’s. Imagine if Thomas had been caught circumventing the league’s salary cap and cost his team multiple first-round draft picks and $3.5 million, as McHale did in 2000.

What would be an unpardonable blunder for Thomas and probably for most became a short leave of absence for McHale, who is now one of the most tenured executives in a league in which even Michael Jordan got fired. We rest our case.

Wednesday, February 07, 2007

Great game last night at Madison Square Garden

By David

I had the opportunity to take in last nights Knick game against the Los Angeles Clippers. Going into the game, it seemed like it would be another typical night at the garden. This involved the Knicks beginning sluggishly, gaining momentum mid-way through the game and then tailing off by the end of the fourth quater.

Yes, New York did begin slowly as they were down 10-1 with 7:58 remaining in the first, but after an Isiah Thomas time out the Knicks began to play much better basketball. Fan favorite David Lee entered the game for Jerome James after he committed two fouls, and Lee responded by completing a three point play. Quentin Richardson then ignited the crowd with an exciting dunk, and it seemed that New York was on their way to their 22nd win of the season. Remember, this would be one shy of their season total from last year and it would pull them to an even 13 and 13 at home.

The Clippers took a 28-19 lead at the end of the first quarter and they were lead by Elton Brand who scored 11 points. Brand was dominant on the offensive boards for L.A. as he was able to grab just about every rebound away from Knick defenders. This resulted in several second chance points for the Clips. By halftime, New York was down 53-43. Who would have guessed the offensive display New York would put on in the second half?

The Knicks started the second half red hot as they went on a 10-0 run. Stephon Marbury who only scored three points in the first half, converted on a lay up that tied the game up with 8:24 remaining in the third. The Knicks continued the quarter on a 24-4 run, and they received big contributions from Marbury who scored 12 out of his 15 during the quarter. The Clippers went 4 out of 19 from the field in the third and were held to 11 points. A main reason why they struggled was because Elton Brand was held scoreless.

The third quarter might have been the best basketball New York has played all season. During some stretches they looked like the Phoenix Suns on the offensive end. A key component to their success was the frequency of which they went to the foul line. For the game, they were 36 out of 44 from the line and Eddy Curry went 13 out of 16 from the charity stripe. Finally, Eddy Curry looked like an enforcer down in the paint as he was able to get to the basket with ease time after time.

The fourth quarter produced the exact same results for the Knicks as they continued to play magnificent team basketball. They had five players score at least 15 points, and no one could have had more timely shots than Jamal Crawford. He sent the crowd to the exits after hitting an electrifying three pointer with two minutes remaining in the game. This gave New York a 99-87 lead and secured their 22nd win of the season.

It was a great night of basketball at the garden, and I look forward to going to more Knick games where they play extremely well.

Amaechi to come out publicly- Yahoo! Sports

It's time that more professional athletes who are gay come out of the closet. Amaechi made great strides today by admitting he is gay, but more needs to be done if fellow players are to accept them in the locker room.

For that to happen, NBA commissioner David Stern needs to stop taking a blind eye to the issue and acknowledge that this is a conflict that needs to be dealt with head on. The down side to Amaechi's admission is that he was only a minor player during his five-year career, and probably by March this will be a dead issue.

The sports world needs a high profile athlete who is in the prime of their career to come out and admit that they are gay. Maybe then, more people will begin to take this issue seriously.

February 7, 2007

The small, exclusive club of openly gay professional male athletes has a new member.

Former NBA center John Amaechi, who spent five seasons with four teams, on Wednesday became the first NBA player to publicly come out.

His admission comes three years after his playing career ended, making him the sixth professional male athlete from one of the four major U.S. sports -- basketball, baseball, football, hockey -- to openly discuss his homosexuality.

Amaechi details his life in his autobiography "Man in the Middle," which will be released Feb. 14.
"He is coming out of the closet as a gay man," Amaechi's publicist Howard Bragman said.

Martina Navratilova, perhaps the most famous openly gay athlete in the world, praised Amaechi's decision and said it's imperative for athletes to come out because of what she called an epidemic of suicides among young lesbians and gays.

"It's hugely important for the kids so they don't feel alone in the world. We're role models," she said. "He will definitely help a lot of kids growing up to feel better about themselves."

Orlando's Grant Hill, who said he didn't know Amaechi when he was with the Magic, also applauded the decision to go public.

"The fact that John has done this, maybe it will give others the comfort or confidence to come out as well, whether they are playing or retiring," Hill said.

NBA commissioner David Stern said a player's sexuality wasn't important.

"We have a very diverse league. The question at the NBA is always 'Have you got game?' That's it, end of inquiry," he said.

LeBron James, however, said he didn't think an openly gay person could survive in the league.

"With teammates you have to be trustworthy, and if you're gay and you're not admitting that you are, then you are not trustworthy," James said. "So that's like the No. 1 thing as teammates -- we all trust each other. You've heard of the in-room, locker room code. What happens in the locker room stays in there. It's a trust factor, honestly. A big trust factor."

Injured Philadelphia Sixers forward Shavlik Randolph acknowledged it's a new situation.

"As long as you don't bring your gayness on me I'm fine," Randolph said. "As far as business-wise, I'm sure I could play with him. But I think it would create a little awkwardness in the locker room."

News that Amaechi had come out surprised some players.

"For real? He's gay for real?" said Philadelphia center Steven Hunter. "Nowadays it's proven that people can live double lives. I watch a lot of TV, so I see a lot of sick perverted stuff about married men running around with gay guys and all types of foolishness."

Even so, Hunter said he would be fine with an openly gay teammate.

"As long as he don't make any advances toward me I'm fine with it," he said. "As long as he came to play basketball like a man and conducted himself like a good person, I'd be fine with it."

Orlando's Pat Garrity acknowledged reaction was bound to vary throughout the league.

"They would have teammates that would accept them for being a good person and a good teammate, and there would be people who would give him a hard time about it," he said. "I think that's true if you're playing basketball or in an office job. That's just how the world is right now."

In his book, Amaechi describes the challenge of being gay in a league where it's assumed all players are heterosexual. He describes the blatant anti-gay language and attitudes he experienced in NBA locker rooms.

"We're all insensitive at times. There's no taboo subject in the locker room," said Celtics coach
Doc Rivers, who coached Amaechi in Orlando, where he said he had one of his strongest locker rooms. "I think if he would have come out they would have got on him jokingly. ... And I actually think that when guys do come out, when that day happens, it will make it easier."

Amaechi also writes that while playing in Utah, coach Jerry Sloan used anti-gay innuendo to describe him. Sloan said Wednesday that although his relationship with Amaechi was "shaky" because of the player's attitude, he didn't know Amaechi was gay. Sloan had no comment about Amaechi's contention that Sloan used anti-gay innuendo when referring to him. Amaechi said he found out about it in e-mails from friends in the Jazz front office.

Asked if knowing Amaechi was gay would have mattered, Sloan said: "Oh yeah, it would have probably mattered. I don't know exactly, but I always have peoples' feelings at heart. People do what they want to do. I don't have a problem with that."

Former NFL running back David Kopay came out in 1977; offensive lineman Roy Simmons and defensive lineman Esera Tuaolo came out more recently. Glenn Burke, an outfielder for the Los Angeles Dodgers and the Oakland A's in the 1970s, and Billy Bean, a utility player in the 1980s and 1990s, also have come out.

Each did so after retiring. Burke died of complications due to AIDS in 1995.

Amaechi, 36, who was raised in England, writes in the book that he never touched a basketball before the age of 17. A quick study despite being a "terrible athlete," he found his confidence in the game and made it his goal to play in the NBA.

He competed for Penn State, then played in 301 NBA games over five seasons. The 6-foot-10 center averaged 6.2 points and 2.6 rebounds. He began his career with the Cleveland Cavaliers in 1995-96, then spent a few years playing in Europe. He rejoined the NBA to play for the Orlando Magic from 1999-01, then played two seasons for the Utah Jazz.

The Jazz traded him to Houston, which traded him to the New York Knicks. When the Knicks waived him in January 2004, he retired.

Amaechi came out of retirement to help England's men's basketball team win the silver medal in the 2006 Commonwealth Games in Melbourne, Australia.

AP Basketball Writer Brian Mahoney in New York and AP Sports Writers Doug Alden in Salt Lake City, Dan Gelston in Philadelphia, Jimmy Golen in Boston, Rob Gillies in Toronto and Tom Withers in Cleveland contributed to this report.

Updated on Wednesday, Feb 7, 2007 7:46 pm EST