Closed Practice Brings Chaos After Player Mutiny

For the first time in his Florida football coaching career, Urban Meyer recently announced that he was closing practice to the media for a full season.

urban meyer headset

That decision led to massive confusion the last 48 hours regarding the status of highly-touted freshman Gator football players Ronald Powell and Dominique Easley after they apparently boycotted practice Tuesday.

Late Wednesday, the GAINESVILLE SUN reported:

Starting quarterback John Brantley was the only UF player made available to the media Wednesday. He said he’d heard the rumor about Powell and Easley (skipping practice) earlier in the morning.

When asked if he knew whether Powell and Easley had practiced Tuesday, Brantley said, “I do not. I’ve heard those rumors from people, but that’s the coaches’ deal. They take care of that behind closed doors.”

So the team’s starting quarterback doesn’t know if two players weren’t at practice the day before?

It took the student INDEPENDENT FLORIDA ALLIGATOR to get to the bottom of what was actually going on, reporting that Powell and Easley boycotted practice on Tuesday to protest their treatment at the hands of Gator coaches:

Hours after senior Mike Pouncey told the media the freshman class needs to “just shut their mouth and come play,” Ronald Powell and Dominique Easley didn’t come to play at all.

According to a source close to the team, the two freshmen were upset with the way the coaches came down on them during special teams practice Monday and didn’t show up for Tuesday’s practice, as a result.

According to the source, both players threatened to transfer, but nothing has come of that so far.

Powell was the top high school football recruit in the nation last season according to Rivals.com and Easley was a highly-prized defensive tackle recruit. The boycott, which Florida coaches, players and public relations staff are still refusing to confirm, was by no means a surprise to Meyer & Co. Read more…

“Everybody Hates Chris”: Art Soon To Imitate Life?

I’ll admit that before today, I knew next to nothing about Chris Bosh. All these years, I made zero effort to familiarize myself with his NBA career and background.

Chris Bosh

Thanks to Stefan Bondy of the NEW YORK DAILY NEWS, I now know all I need to know about him.

Bosh was in New York this week to promote one of his few sponsors, the Milk Board, when he told Bondy that he intentionally misled fans and the media about his intentions before he signed with the Miami Heat.

He also likened “playing with people’s emotions to “entertainment.” Read more…

Wade, James, Bosh: “talked of splitting Heat cash”

Longtime Miami Heat beat reporter Ira Winderman of the SOUTH FLORIDA SUN-SENTINEL reports Tuesday morning that discussions between Heat free-agent guard Dwyane Wade, Cleveland Cavaliers forward LeBron James and Toronto Raptors forward Chris Bosh have taken place examining how all three could fit under the Miami NBA club’s salary cap.

LeBron James and Dwyane Wade

The Sun Sentinel has learned that the three star free agents have gone as far as to acknowledge that it might not be possible for the Heat to clear the needed space to start each of the three at the $16.6 million maximum salary that they would be eligible for in the first year of new contracts.

Could Lakers beat LeBron, Wade & Bosh on one team?

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According to the source, the three have agreed to consider to “split the money up,” if need be.

By unloading the $4.96 million 2010-11 salary on the contract of forward Michael Beasley, as well as potentially minimizing the cap hit of the buyout of forward James Jones, the Heat would be on the cusp of being able to extend maximum offers to Wade, James and Bosh.

According to Winderman, the trickiest part of the deal appears to be the Heat trading for Bosh: Read more…

Stephen A. Smith: LeBron, Chris Bosh To Miami?

Stephen A. Smith of Fox Sports reported this morning on the Dan Patrick Show that it’s “highly likely” that Chris Bosh and LeBron James will soon join Dwyane Wade in Miami.

Dwyane Wade and LeBron James

Smith to Dan Patrick on Monday:

I got a call last night from a source and I double-checked it with another and they told me essentially that LeBron James and Chris Bosh are going to tag team and go together and join Dwyane Wade in Miami. Read more…

ESPN Refuses To Acknowledge Sloppy Reporting

Last night Chris Broussard of ESPN reported that the Chicago Bulls “have reached out to Phil Jackson through back channels to gauge his interest in returning to the franchise he won six NBA titles with, according to two sources with knowledge of the situation.

(Wilbon didn’t acknowledge Jax’s denial the next day on PTI)

Broussard went on to note that, “there has been no direct contact between Bulls officials and Jackson, according to the sources, but people close to both parties have spoken and come away with the belief that Jackson would be open to a potential reunion in Chicago next season.

Shortly after the story was posted, K.C. Johnson of the CHICAGO TRIBUNE noted that Jackson reported himself earlier this month that he had no intention of returning to Chicago:

That seems unlikely, not only because of the team source downplaying the story but also from Jackson’s words on May 4.

No, I’m not,” Jackson said, when asked if he’d be interested in succeeding Vinny Del Negro. “I think it’s a wonderful job for whoever takes it.”

That denial was not included in the original Broussard piece. ESPN copy editors have since added it.

May 17 on local D.C. radio, ESPN’s Michael Wilbon reported that Phil Jackson had already been asked to take a 60% pay cut by Lakers Owner Jerry Buss if he wanted to return as Lakers Coach next season. When asked on May 19 by Kevin Ding of the ORANGE COUNTY REGISTER - after Wilbon’s report - if he was asked to take a 60% pay cut, Jackson said, “I have not.”

The next day (May 20 “Pay Cut For Phil” segment) on ESPN’s Pardon the Interruption Wilbon debated with Tony Kornheiser the prospect of Jackson taking a 60% pay cut. Nowhere in his discussion was the fact that Jackson had specifically denied Wilbon’s claim the night before.

On May 21 Chad Ford of ESPN shook up the Chris Bosh free agent sweepstakes when ESPN.com reported:

Chris Bosh’s agent has told the Toronto Raptors that he’s narrowed his list of preferred teams to five, two sources told ESPN.com’s Chad Ford at the NBA draft camp.

The list of five teams — Toronto plus the Chicago Bulls, Los Angeles Lakers, Miami Heat and New York Knicks, sources said — was given to Toronto management in case the Raptors want to construct a sign-and-trade deal (assuming Bosh doesn’t re-sign with Toronto).

Later that day, Bosh himself Tweeted: “I saw that i supposedly had a ” top 5″ yesterday. Here’s something more accurate. http://j.mp/cWS0SV.”

The story Bosh linked to, at RealGM.com, reported:

Henry Thomas, the agent for Chris Bosh, said that he has not given the Raptors a list of teams to which his client would be interested in a sign-and-trade deal.

“I haven’t closed the door on anything,” Thomas said. “I haven’t given Bryan [Colangelo] any lists. There is no list. This is a process that is ongoing.”

Thomas said that Bosh is currently considering his options.

“Why would I do that?” Thomas said about the wish list. “We’re still in a process of evaluating a lot different situations.”

Bosh and Thomas disputing Ford’s claims was never acknowledged in Ford’s original report.

It’s a compliment to ESPN that I’m pointing out these three recent instances, as I’m acknowledging the ultimate power ESPN has to manufacture news. But with that power comes responsibility and in each of these cases, the source of the reportage has specifically denied the ESPN report. Read more…

NBA’s Most Notorious Madame Unwittingly Outed?

Thursday Hannah Karp of the WALL STREET JOURNAL did a piece on how great the party scene in Toronto was for visiting NBA players. Mentioned prominently in the story was a woman named Mona Halem.

Mona Halem Antawn Jamison

At the center of much of the city’s athlete nightlife is an event planner and promoter named Mona Halem, a former employee of the Air Canada Centre, which is home to the Raptors. Ms. Halem has become “notorious” throughout the sports world, says Raptors forward Antoine Wright, for assembling attractive party guests to fete nearly every franchise that comes to town.

The popularity of these parties—some athletes say they’ve cancelled appearances and forfeited thousands of dollars in fees to attend them—has made Ms. Halem a known entity throughout sports.

The Journal doesn’t specify what Halem’s business model actually is, except that, “some athletes say they’ve cancelled appearances and forfeited thousands of dollars” to”attend” her “events.”

Mona Halem Vince Carter

Here is an extensive gallery of photos from some of Halem’s past “events.” After you look through the photos let me know if you think NBA players have “forfeited thousands of dollars” to merely “attend” her “events.

Today I talked to an NBA staffer and a league announcer about Halem. Each travels with an NBA team.

Mona Halem With Jay-Z

The staffer told me that league players have long been hooking up with “Halem’s girls,” with her “services” to the ballers often going beyond bottles.

I also learned today that Halem’s ladies occasionally service the stray, garden-variety rapper, boxer and member of the Buffalo Bills. (I’m serious.) Hockey and baseball players though aren’t getting any action, as Halem apparently prefers dealing with the basketball and football types.

Mona Halem Jermaine O'Neal

That’s not to say that Halem makes her bones as madame, but if the follow-up pieces about her in the TORONTO GLOBE & MAIL and TORONTO STAR are any indication, I’m not the only one hearing that she’s providing visiting ballers with more than just party favors.

Read more…

Chris Bosh Saves The Internet For 800+ Athletes

There probably aren’t any statistics to bear this out, but we’re pretty damned sure that the lowest ratio of IQ-to-income among all professions belongs to athletes, who display an uncanny ability to blow through unholy amounts of money as soon as they get it. That’s not news, of course, but it makes them prime targets for people looking for an easy dollar.

Chris Bosh loves music SO MUCH
(This man is your hero.)

Cyber-squatters, of course, are some such people, and one in particular made an effort to claim the names of hundreds upon hundreds of athletes. Unfortunately, one of those athletes just so happened to be Chris Bosh. Bosh does have money, but rather than cough up a cent for his eponymous domain name, he used said money on lawyers, who have the “get rich off rich people” game on lock. A (metaphorical) layup in court later, and over 800 domain names are free, including some absolute gems.

Read more…

NBA Salary Cap Imploding For 2010’s Free Agents

You’ll probably recall that as the current free agency period for the NBA kicked off recently, lots of the focus went to next year’s class, the crown jewels of which being Chris Bosh, Dwyane Wade, Dirk Nowitzki, and some LeBron James character. Which franchise would land each one? Would two team up to essentially buy a title* like the Celtics?

David Stern OK sign
(”No, I don’t mean ‘everything will be A-OK.’ I mean you have this much to spend next summer. Enjoy!”)

Unfortunately, this may be the first free agency period that was over an entire year before it started. For beginners, as we mentioned this morning, the salary cap will be falling a full million dollars for the 2009 season. That’s just a breeze before a hurricane, though; as Marc Stein at ESPN.COM reports, David Stern sent out a memo to owners warning that the salary cap could be coming down in 2010. Way, way down:  Read more…

Force Sister Continues to Bring “Hot” to Hot Rods

• Racers on the hot rod circuit will have to deal with a new emerging (and enchanting) force - Ashley Force’s younger sister Courtney:

Courtney Force

• Everything is magical about Tom Brady - from his supermodel wife to his miraculously quick recovery from knee surgery.

Kimbo Slice is trying to get back into MMA the only way he knows how - through a UFC reality TV series.

• Justice Clarence Thomas knows how to keep football recruits committed to Nebraska - by speaking at their high school commencement.

• Remember to always take special care when celebrating your soccer team’s promotion on top of a bouncy Brazilian bus.

Read more…

Bosh Branching Out into Music, DVD Compilations

Chris Bosh is a man of many talents. To call him a “Renaissance Man” is to devalue the term to its lowest point in recorded history, but let’s give him some credit: he’s a world-class basketball player, a comedian, and a weatherman. The only other person who can claim all those three qualities is Al Roker. Dude, Roker can ball.

Chris Bosh loves music SO MUCH
(Bosh also has the “I’m pretending to listen to music” face down cold.)

And though Bosh remains in the black hole of media attention that is the Raptors franchise, Warner Music Canada has at least noticed Bosh’s off-court exploits and was sufficiently impressed to sign the big man to a CD and DVD deal for later this year, according to CANADA.COM. I see some furrowed brows out there, but allow Bosh himself to reassure you - he’s not going to rap (pops to PDF):

Read more…