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Monday, March 31, 2008

Thomas says he’s not talking with Indiana about coaching Hoosiers

It's time to permanently leave Isiah. All of New York will be elated that you did.

By GEORGE HENRY, Associated Press Writer

ATLANTA (AP)—Embattled New York Knicks coach Isiah Thomas said he is not a candidate for the Indiana University job.

Thomas, whose Knicks have lost seven of eight and 14 of 16, has a 53-102 record in two seasons with the team. Though he helped Indiana win the 1981 NCAA championship, Thomas has never coached in college.

He indicated the Hoosiers haven’t consulted him about becoming their head coach.

“No, I have a job,” Thomas said before the Knicks played the Atlanta Hawks on Sunday.

Thomas, also the Knicks’ team president, said he hopes interim coach Dan Dakich is named full-time at Indiana.

In February, Dakich replaced Kelvin Sampson, who resigned following the release of an NCAA report that said he committed five “major” violations involving recruiting. Prior to the start of the NCAA tournament, the school appointed a 10-member committee to search for a replacement for Sampson.

After Dakich—an assistant under Sampson and a former Indiana player and assistant under Bob Knight—took over, the Hoosiers (25-8) lost four of their final seven games, including a shocking last-second defeat against Minnesota in the Big Ten tournament quarterfinals and an 86-72 loss to Arkansas in the first round of the NCAA tournament.

“He’s done an excellent job,” Thomas said. “He understands the program. He’s been intimately involved on the coaching side and also on the playing side.”

“Of all the former players, he’d definitely have the support of mine and others. I hope he’s someone they do name as the coach of Indiana.”

Thomas acknowledged that he might have interest in coaching one day in college.

“You never say never in terms of where you’ll end up and who you’ll be with,” he said. “So you just try to take the day as it comes.”

Right now, Thomas is trying to save his position with New York, which has reportedly talked with former Indiana Pacers president Donnie Walsh about taking charge of the organization.

Walsh hired Thomas as coach of the Pacers in 2000. In three years with Indiana, Thomas led the Pacers to a 131-115 record and three playoff appearances.

When Walsh brought in Larry Bird to run the Pacers in 2003, Thomas was fired.

With the NBA’s fifth-worst record at 20-53, Thomas seemed to dislike a question about some of his players calling for a new coaching change.

“That player should put his name on it, if there is such a player,” Thomas said. “But I think you have the opportunity and the access to all our players and you can ask them. I think it’s safe to say that in any locker room, football, basketball or hockey, I don’t think there’s a coach coaching today that has 15 happy players. You have some that’s unhappy and you have some that’s happy. That’s coaching.”

Monday, March 03, 2008

Voters to decide on $121 million proposal aimed at luring NBA to Oklahoma City

It'll be intriguing tomorrow to witness if Oklahoma City receives the go ahead vote to entice a prospective team to their budding city. Currently, Seattle seems like the ideal team to land in the OKC.

By JEFF LATZKE, AP Sports Writer

OKLAHOMA CITY (AP)— Oklahoma City voters will decide Tuesday on a $121 million plan aimed at luring an NBA team.

Oklahoma City mayor Mick Cornett’s proposal would spend $97 million to upgrade the Ford Center and another $24.6 million to build an NBA practice facility in hopes of completing the city’s courtship of the Seattle SuperSonics.

While Cornett has been promoting the improvements to the Ford Center as mandatory to show Oklahoma City’s long-term commitment to the NBA, David Glover has been spearheading opposition to the plan that would extend a one-cent sales tax increase for another 15 months.

Cornett considers the improvements to the Ford Center necessary even if the SuperSonics, owned by Oklahoma City businessman Clay Bennett, don’t end up relocating. Without them, Cornett says Oklahoma City will fall behind competitors for concerts, the Big 12 tournament and other events.

Bennett declined interview requests from The Associated Press and through a spokesman refused to say what would happen if the vote fails. The SuperSonics are in the middle of a court battle to break their lease in Seattle, and the NBA Board of Governors will vote in April on Bennett’s request to relocate to Oklahoma City.

While reserving comment on the specific proposal in Oklahoma City, NBA spokesman Tim Frank said “the NBA will always support teams’ and cities’ efforts to enhance the experience for our fans.”

The cost of adding restaurants, clubs, suites and other amenities to the Ford Center—which hosted the New Orleans Hornets for two years following Hurricane Katrina—falls about in the middle of the cost fronted by new NBA cities when the past two franchises relocated.

Saturday, March 01, 2008

Two men plead not guilty in NBA betting scandal

NEW YORK (AP)—Two men charged in a betting scandal involving disgraced basketball referee Tim Donaghy have pleaded not guilty to conspiring to defraud the NBA.

Prosecutors said James Battista, a professional gambler with nicknames “Baba” and “Sheep,” and Thomas Martino entered the pleas during a brief appearance Friday in Brooklyn.

A trial date was set for April 28. Each man remains free on $250,000 bond.

In a guilty plea in August, Donaghy said he started making NBA bets four years ago, even wagering on games he worked. He admitted recommending bets to high-stakes gamblers and collecting $5,000 if his picks hit.

The former referee faces a maximum of 25 years in prison when he is sentenced April 18 for conspiracy to engage in wire fraud and transmitting betting information through interstate commerce.