9:00 PM Akron, Ohio mayor Don Plusquellic helped chase down a man who had stolen a friend's purse during a downtown music show Friday night. The man had tried to get a $100 ransom to return the purse, but Plusquellic convinced him to give the purse back & surrender to police.
Michael Jordan recently bought the top floor of a downtown Charlotte condo building for $3,147,616. The dwelling’s penthouse level was previously made up of two units, which Jordan is joining together. List price for the units combined was $3.4 million.
This is Jordan’s first permanent residence in Charlotte, which is (apparently) another sign of his increased commitment to the city after buying the local NBA franchise.
But what exactly sold him on his new North Carolina abode, which previously served as a bank building and is now called “The Trust”? Read more…
WSOC-TV in Charlotte reports today that three masked men broke into Stephen Jackson’s Charlotte-area home early Wednesday morning, holding Jackson’s wife Renata at gunpoint while they robbed the residence.
According to a police report, the men held her at gunpoint while they took valuables from the home, including several Louis Vuitton wallets, jewelry, a stun gun and a 9 millimeter handgun.
The suspects then locked her in a bathroom, police said.
Jackson, a member of the Charlotte Bobcats, was reportedly “out of state at the time” and apparently wasn’t unaware of the incident until his wife called him later Wednesday. Read more…
Last week the media went nuts over a Forbes.com report from Michael Ozanian that claimed Michael Jordan bought the Charlotte Bobcats from Robert Johnson for only $175M - after Johnson originally paid $300M for the team.
More alleged details from Ozanian on the deal have since emerged. Read more…
(”I could buy and sell you with my Dr. Phil profits alone”)
However, Tiger Woods follows at $600 million and growing. From there, Robert Johnson (Charlotte Bobcats owner) and Michael Jordan (Bobcats president) lead a procession that implies the best way to become a wealthy black man is still to hit the gym or own one.
The meltdown of the American newspaper industry is in full effect. The past six weeks have seen the closures of the Seattle Post-Intelligencer and the Rocky Mountain News, marking two of the largest newspaper closures in recent memory. And yesterday came news that might be a sign of disaster for one of the nation’s leading newspapers: the SAN FRANCISCO BUSINESS TIMES reports that roughly 120 employees of the San Francisco Chronicle have accepted voluntary buyouts as the paper struggles to avoid sale or shutdown.
According to a list from the SAN FRANCISCO PENINSULA PRESS CLUB, those leaving the paper include NFL writer Nancy Gay, college sports writer Jake Curtis, deputy sports editor Larry Yant and a host of other writers, editors and photographers. This should be taken as a giant red flag if these people are getting out now, especially someone as respected as Gay; trust me, people just don’t leave NFL reporting positions at major newspapers unless something is going terribly, horribly wrong.
But even the voluntary exits might not be enough - parent company Hearst Corporation (which also owns the now-online only Post-Intelligencer) has said that it needed to cut “at least” 150 jobs to avoid a shutdown or sale, with the paper currently bleeding money at a rate of $1 million a week. And with the chances of a corporation wanting to buy a failing newspaper next to zero in this climate, it seems as though the only two options are to slash the staff to ribbons or close shop.
As bad as the first option sounds, the alternative is even more daunting. Especially when you consider that the San Jose Mercury News recently announced that it was essentially abandoning the San Francisco market by stopping all weekday deliveries to the city. Which leaves a very real possibility that the nation’s 12th-largest metropolitan area could be without a major daily newspaper (the San Francisco Examiner, currently having been reduced to a free handout resembling The Pennysaver, doesn’t count).
It seems like Mark Cuban might be prescient when he blogged about the slow death of the newspaper sports section; let’s hope that his idea of teams and leagues banding together to provide beat reporters to cover the same teams and leagues doesn’t pan out, but if the San Francisco Chronicle can fold, is any idea that outlandish?
And don’t think that it will just stop with the Chronicle: the paper was only sixth in TIME’s recent list of “The 10 Most Endangered Newspapers in America”. Ahead of it on the list are papers such as the Boston Globe, Minneapolis Star-Tribune and the Miami Herald. That’s a lot of major sports teams that are suddenly going to be underserviced by local media, if at all.
Also possibly endangered: the continued success of the USC men’s basketball program. After making the NCAA Tournament for the third straight season for the first time in school history, the Trojans might be going back to square one as ESPN has word that an Arizona radio station is reporting that Tim Floydhas agreed to become the Arizona Wildcats’ new head coach, with an announcement as early as today.
Which is all very interesting, since Floyd rejected an overture by LSU last year, saying that USC was “his last job.” Then there’s the matter of the “impassioned speech” he gave at the team banquet Wednesday night, imploring players such as Taj Gibson and DeMar DeRozan to not jump to the NBA and come back next season to help the Trojans make a run at a national title. And then he got on a plane the next morning to interview for the Arizona job. That’s venturing into Bobby Petrino level of sleaziness.
Finally, a busy night of World Cup soccer qualifying has also brought us two people to add to the endangered list. The first is Argentine legend Diego Maradona, whose own near-death experiences with drugs and weight made him frequently endangered in the past. But this time, it’s not his life that’s in danger but his managing career, after his Argentina squad was demolished 6-1 by lowly Bolivia.
How embarrassing is this? It’s the first time they’ve given up six goals in a game since the World Cup…in 1958. Bolivia is 50 places behind Argentina in the FIFA world rankings, and their hat trick hero was Joaquin Botero, who plays for a second-division team in Mexico. This is Chaminade beating Virginia type stuff, where you glance at the box score over and over to make sure you didn’t read it wrong, before convincing yourself it’s just a typo.
And speaking of Mexico…if I were embattled manager Sven-Goren Eriksson, I wouldn’t even bother making the team flight back from Honduras, where his team suffered a humiliating 3-1 defeat, unless he wants his severed head to be placed on a pike outside of Atzeca Stadium as a warning to future managers.
The win allowed Honduras to leapfrog Mexico into the third and final guaranteed CONCACAF berth in the 2010 World Cup. Although there’s a lot of games left in both North & Central American and South American qualifying, there’s a chance that Argentina and Mexico could wind up facing each other in a two-game playoff, with the winner getting a World Cup spot and the loser staying home.
Other sports stories you might have missed last night as you were going to the hospital ER in Texas again…and again…and again…
It’s not just American athletes who get into trouble at strip bars late at night: THE MIRROR has word that Sunderland and French international striker Djibril Cissé has been arrested after allegedly grabbing a woman by the throat at a late-night strip club. You might remember him for having the distinction of suffering horrific, Theisman-like leg breaks not once but twice in his career, which you can watch here and here. (Warning: not for the faint of heart.)
Give Sen. John McCain credit for doing something right: the DALLAS MORNING-NEWS says that the former Presidential candidate is lobbying for a posthumous pardon of old-timey boxing champ Jack Johnson for trumped up, racially-biased charges. It still won’t make me forget that McCain voted against Martin Luther King Day, but it’s a start.
A word of warning: don’t take a quick paycheck to record canned introductions to videos for a company you know nothing about. Greg Gumbel failed to heed this advice, and he wound up as the spokesperson for a time-share, which ONLINE SPORTS GUYS says has lead to a lawsuit. Here’s one video in question:
SI.COM says that the Hockey Hall of Fame has changed its rules, opening the door for the first female player to be voted in. Someone in Canada, Don Cherry is burning his plaid Depends adult diapers in protest.
Hey look, another lacrosse team has been forced to suspend their season because of alleged misconduct. But the story of the Curry College team is far different than Duke, according to the BOSTON HERALD. Team members allegedly hazed new players at a party, although even the freshmen “victims” seem to think it was no big deal. Remind me to bring a lawyer if I ever go to a college lacrosse party.
WSLS-TV says that Virginia Tech coach Frank Beamer prepared for the upcoming season by doing some NASCAR racing. He didn’t do so hot, but his goiter was signed to a developmental deal with Joe Gibbs Racing.
Somehow former Cleveland Browns QB Bernie Kosar is being dragged into the Rod Blagojevich mess. RUMORS AND RANTS reports that Kosar was on some sort of fundraising “hit list” put together by the then-Illinois Governor with the Steve Garvey haircut just before he was arrested.
Now you can add Simeon Rice to the list of players lining up to rip Gruden, and the former Bucs Pro Bowler isn’t pulling any punches. In an interview with Pat Kirwan and Tim Ryan on Sirius NFL Radio, Rice went off on Gruden, running down a laundry list of players who hate him, and shredding his character like a rat going through an old stack of magazines in your garage:
“How I feel personally? I could tell you that, too. I think he’s a scumbag,” Rice said. “I think he’s a scumbag personally. That’s when he’s telling you one thing and… You know what he told me? ‘Simeon you’ll be here in the next five years.’ I got injured [and] this man’s never said one word to me. I won a Super Bowl for you. I got 13 sacks, 12, 15 every year for you. I balled. I got injured [and] you let me go like it was nothing.”
Now, to be fair, Rice had a grand total of one sack in 2007 after being cut by the Buccaneers and didn’t play last year, so it’s not like Rice showed Gruden what a horrible mistake he made by letting him go. But judging by the stories that keep coming out, releasing an injured player who helped you win a Super Bowl without saying a word to him seems to be right up his alley.
Hmm, let’s see: a “offensive genius” head coach whose teams always have lousy defenses; who is about as likable as genital warts and has the personal skills of Jeff Conaway; and who inspires hatred and disloyalty from former and current players. I’m starting to think that Notre Dame could have stuffed Gruden into a sumo suit and swapped him for Charlie Weis, and no one would have known the difference.
But Jon, if it makes you feel any better, it wasn’t just the fact that your players hate you that got you fired. Apparently the fans all hate you as well. So that’s nice.
Oops, they did it again: the Lakers managed to overlook the Charlotte Bobcats and fall 117-110 in double OT. All this with the Bobcats’ best player - Gerald Wallace - missing the overtimes with an injury. The LOS ANGELES TIMES has the gory details of the Lakers’ fifth loss to the Bobcats in their last six meetings. (Really, and these are the title favorites?)
FOOD COURT LUNCH examines “The Hansbrough Effect,” where college basketball analysts laud the hard work and gritty determination of big, white stiffs who will be sure to flop in the NBA. Which gives me another chance to type Kevin Pittsnogle.
Who loves chicken? New Orleans Hornets fans love chicken, especially when they get it for free if the Hornets score 100 points. NOLA.COM has the exciting blow-by-blow as the team sits on 99 with just seconds to go.
TRAVELIN’ LIGHT says that a resort in Aruba is offering vacation packages for fantasy baseball and football drafts. Sure, the resort might have beautiful beaches, world-class food and exciting casinos, but does it have a Bubble Hockey machine and old NES system with RBI Baseball like my garage? I didn’t think so.
If you think you’ve had a rough life, think about Arizona Cardinals lineman Darnell Dockett, who found his mother murdered, execution style, when he was 13. And then his father died of cancer four months later. The GANNETT NEWS SERVICE has a moving piece on his relationship with his uncle, who helped him get his life back on track.
The Braves need a power hitter to provide protection for Chipper Jones and Brian McCann. Enter Jeff Francoeur and .239 batting average. MLB.COM says that Jones, for one, is thrilled to have “Frenchy” back. Hey, if your other option is Andruw Jones, anything looks good.
Ever nearly kill yourself trying to get that stuck bag of chips dislodged from a vending machine? Me too! Now there’s a video game for you: Adult Swim’s Ultimate Vending Machine Challenge.
Remember a couple of weeks ago when the Celtics were going to challenge the ‘96 Bulls for the best record ever? Yeah, you can pretty much put that possibility to rest. The C’s continued their strange descent on Tuesday night, dropping a game to the lowly Bobcats, 114-106 in overtime. Boston has lost five out of seven games following a 27-2 start, and now faces the real possibility of not winding up with the best record in the East at the end of the season. Orlando is 27-8 after beating Washington last night, and the idle Cavs sit at 27-6.
There was a huge bowl game last night too. I mean, all the best games happen after January 1st, right? Oh, it was just the GMAC Bowl. And what better company to be bringing us a bowl game this year? It actually wasn’t a terrible matchup, as both Tulsa and Ball State took undefeated records deep into the season before faltering late. In wet, sloppy conditions in Mobile, the Golden Hurricane rocked the Cardinals 45-13. BSU was once ranked 12th, but will probably not end the season in the rankings. It’s a shame former Cards coach Brady Hoke, who left for San Diego State, couldn’t have stuck around for this one since he needs some experience in losing games by that margin for his new job.
His name is Corky Simpson, and he might be the only member of the Baseball Writers Association who didn’t vote for Rickey Henderson to be in the Hall of Fame. Henderson, who is among the all-time leaders in a number of categories and considered by many to be one of the 10 greatest players ever, is up for election for the first time this year. HOME RUN DERBY has tracked down the ballots of 31 writers so far, and all but Simpson’s contain Henderson’s name. And it’s not like Simpson was being stingy with his votes. He voted for eight players, including Tommy John, Tim Raines (the poor man’s Henderson), and — get this – Matt Williams! HOME RUN DERBY further analyzes Simpson’s insanity.
• The whole dating hockey players thing has worked out well for Elisha Cuthbert and Hilary Duff, so Carrie Underwood has apparently jumped on that train as well. REALITY TV MAGAZINE reports that Underwood is dating Ottawa’s Mike Fisher, as she was seen watching the game from a suite with Fisher’s parents this past weekend.
• Somebody dressed as a security guard took a hockey stick from a teenage fan that was given to the kid by Detroit’s Henrik Zetterberg during the New Year’s Day game at Wrigley Field. The “guard” said that the stick would be available to be picked up at the customer relations booth. There was no stick at customer relations. The kid is crushed, and nobody knows who the guy is that took the stick nor where the stick went. The CHICAGO TRIBUNE’s Jon Yates has the odd story.
• A San Francisco couple with too much time on their hands are in the process of suing the 49ers for patting them down before entering Candlestick Park, saying that it’s an invasion of privacy. The SAN FRANCISCO CHRONICLE has the arguments from both sides.
• In a stroke of genius roster management that would make Isiah Thomas proud, Tottenham Hotspur sold striker Jermain Defoe to Portsmouth last January for £9.0 million, and now have decided they want him back. The price? £15 million. Well played, Spurs.
It’s bad. Really bad. Worse than ever before. And with 40% of America’s net worth having vanished overnight, the NBA is in for more hard times in 2009. Yet, David Stern still claims the league’s attendance figures really aren’t all that bad. (Yeahright.)
It’s so bad that I think the NBA may soon resemble the automotive industry’s Big Three.