6:00 PM The Detroit Free Press reports the owners of two dogs who mauled a jogger to death near their Metamora, Michigan home entered the U.S. illegally by bribing an immigration officer to let them seek asylum from Albania.
After reportedly raising nine figures from the sale of his Los Angeles Lakers ownership stake and 105 Starbucks stores, Magic Johnson volunteered to the media on multiple occasions last week that he was interested in new front office opps in the NBA and NFL.
Most feel that a work stoppage next season for the NBA is a virtual lock, and possible future team owner Johnson did nothing to dissuade that sentiment in a recent interview with the NAPLES (FL) NEWS. Read more…
With the World Cup upon us, the last couple of weeks I’ve been interviewed by some overseas sports media television and radio outlets about the state of soccer in America. From those visits, I can confirm that the Brits, Aussies and South Africans wonder, as we all do here, if soccer will ever take off in America.
My response to that question in those recent interviews, as it has been the past decade, has always been the same on the subject.
Ian Thomsen of SI.com reports today that NBA Commissioner David Stern recently said there was a reasonable possibility that a woman could soon play in the NBA:
(Baylor’s Brittney Griner: 1st Woman Who Can Dunk Easily)
On Tuesday in the conference room outside his NBA office in Manhattan, I asked the commissioner whether we’ll see a woman playing in his league someday.
“Sure,” he said matter-of-factly. “I think that’s well within the range of probability.”
He (Stern) knows, I know and now you know there is a good chance it’s going to happen, simply because the most important man in basketball has hereby declared it could and should happen.
When Stern was asked if a woman could join the league in the next ten years, he said, “I think we might. I don’t want to get into all kinds of arguments with players and coaches about the likelihood. But I really think it’s a good possibility.”
Thomsen then proceeded to get reax about the prospect from varying NBA sources, including players, coaches and league executives. Read more…
It’s not often that injury news takes us completely aback, but that’s absolutely the case over in Pullman tonight. One slightly mentioned aspect of last weekend’s game pitting Washington State against Southern Methodist was WSU’s tailback, James Montgomery, suffering an apparent knee injury. Not that those aren’t serious, but, y’know… they happen.
But one thing that doesn’t usually happen is a potentially fatal injury that nobody recognizes immediately. That’s what apparently befell Montgomery during the game; after the game, he reported increasing discomfort with the knee, and went in for surgery on Sunday morning. It probably saved his life.
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?
(”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…
With American sports franchises hemorrhaging money left and right, one might wonder why our leagues haven’t embraced one of the easiest revenue streams available: selling the front of their jerseys. Really, the argument that it’s “crass commercialism” that messes with tradition doesn’t really fly anymore, considering that every other part of the pro sports viewing experience is supported by sponsors.
Well, the seal has been broken. The WNBA’s Phoenix Mercury announced today that they’ve sold the front of their jerseys (and the sponsorship rights to all things team-related) to identity theft defenders LifeLock. Of course, soccer teams around the world have been doing this for years, and the MLS followed suit when they started to allow such deals in 2007. But this is a first for a team in the “traditional” American sports, and even though it’s the WNBA one might think that David Stern is using this as a test run for bringing the same idea to some of his struggling NBA franchises going forward.
Ryan Leaf is an instant sports blog punchline, suitable for use anytime you need a real-life example for the words “bust,” “loser” or “train wreck.” But at least he had some shred of dignity: sure, he had been one of the biggest disappointments in NFL history, a top draft pick turned into petulant baby whose lousy attitude with coaches, teammates and the media ensured he would be drummed out of the league; but at least he wasn’t Todd Marinovich. No matter what, at least his rap sheet was clean.
Well, you can forget that. Remember when he took a “leave of absence” from his position as QB coach at West Texas A&M (and also as - for some reason - the golf coach), and it came out that he had “asked” a player for pain medicine for an old wrist injury? It turns out there was more to that story - a lot more. Leaf allegedly really, really needed that medicine - so much so that he allegedly broke into the apartment of an injured player he knew had been prescribed Vicodin and grabbed him a handful of pills.
And Leaf apparently was about as good of a thief as he was an NFL player, since the cops traced the theft back to him, and the AMARILLO GLOBE-NEWS says that he was indicted yesterday on nine different drug and burglary charges. The district attorney says that Leaf is currently in British Columbia getting drug treatment (socialized medicine!), but the DA “hopes” he returns to the country. I can’t say that sounds promising. (And there goes Leaf’s chance of an NFL comeback.)
Also in need of a comeback: the Los Angeles Lakers. Sure, last night’s 106-103 loss to the Denver Nuggets only tied their Western Conference finals at 1-1, but after almost giving away Game 1 as well, it feels like they are staring up at a mountain. For the first two games, they were outplayed, outhustled and physical dominated by the Nuggets, and are now completely out of sync and without home court advantage. (Seriously, how does Kobe Bryant not get a shot in one of those last two possessions?)
So the home court advantage in the two NBA conference finals belong to the Nuggets and the Magic. I’m sure that the NBA front office is thrilled about possibly having to market a Denver vs. Orlando series. If you are an NBA Conspiracy Theorist, then rest assured that David Stern is currently making some angry phone calls to some referees today to “fix the problem.”
Meanwhile, we moved one step closer to a Stanley Cup rematch as the Pittsburgh Penguins outscored the Carolina Panthers 7-4 to a take a 2-0 series lead. Sidney Crosby scored the opening goal - again - but it was Evgeni Malkin who was the real star, notching a hat trick including scoring one of the sickest goals you’ll ever see in your life:
You couldn’t even do that in NHL ‘94 for Sega Genesis without getting your head cracked open. So while the Hurricanes’ Eric Staal might be busy complaining about his brother Jordan“cheating” during face-offs for the Penguins, everyone else is getting ready for another tilt between Pittsburgh and Detroit (and we all know that’s happening, putting NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman in a much happier place than David Stern is right now).
The MINNEAPOLIS STAR-TRIBUNE reports that the Minnesota Wild and Minnesota Timberwolves are set to announce their new GMs on the same day. Maybe they got a “Buy One, Get One Free” rental package on the hotel conference room?
Sammy Hasan, a girls’ track coach in Amherst, NY has been charged with forcible sexual conduct with a female high school student. The BUFFALO NEWS says that earlier this season, one of his runners thanked him for “helping her with her technique”after she won a sectional title. SBB PUNCHLINE CREATOR 3000 ERROR 4XQ587: TOO MANY INAPPROPRIATE JOKES.
Former Houston Texans lineman Fred Weary tried to help an ex-teammate out by hiring former Florida Gator Anthone Lott as a general contractor on four townhouses Weary was building in Gainesville. Judging by the fact that the ST. AUGUSTINE RECORD says Lott has been charged with defrauding a bank and Weary of more than $185,000, I’d say that didn’t end too well.
There’s never a great time to start drunkenly hurling swear words at the opposing team from the stands during a high school baseball game…but to do it during a stoppage for an injury is just wrong. But that’s exactly what the SCHENECTADY DAILY GAZETTE says that George “Mr. Class” Sperow did before getting into a fight and then being arrested.
Ferrari is threatening to leave Formula One if they institute a budget cap in 2010, so now the TELEGRAPH is saying that Formula One rightsholder Bernie Ecclestonewill sue them if they do. Where else are they going to go - NASCAR? (Oh please, please let me see a Ferrari NASCAR team.)
Is there anything sadder than a kicker trying to hold out for more money? That’s what PRO FOOTBALL TALK says that Cleveland kicker Phil Dawson is doing as he skips the team’s “voluntary” minicamp. Isn’t there a Bahr brother somewhere who can still kick? Martin Mull? Stefan Fatsis?
The contentious playoff series between the Mavericks and Nuggets may have ended on Wednesday, but the off-court drama surrounding it continues. Yesterday, Nuggets coach George Karlstoked the flames surrounding Carmelo Anthony’s fiancee’s fight club video, keeping that brouhaha brewing long past its expiration date. Today, the original Nugs-Mavs offcourt drama, the feud between Mark Cuban and Kenyon Martin’s mom got another jolt, keeping it out ahead of the pack.
Cuban may have thought that a crummy blogpology (buzzword!) would be enough to end the tiff between himself and Kenyon Martin’s mom, but almighty NBA commish David Sternhas decreed otherwise.
As evidenced by Wednesday night’s Pittsburgh Penguins’ romp over the Washington Capitals, not every Game 7 in hockey is something special. But let’s face it - most of them are. And when you throw overtime into the mix? It’s about as good as it gets. It’s drama that you cannot turn away from - at any second, the game and the series could be over with one thunderbolt.
So it was that the Carolina Hurricanes and Boston Bruins skated at the end of the first overtime in their Game 7 in Boston, looking for all the world like they were going to a second extra period - or more. And then out of nowhere, a shot was flipped towards the net, Bruins goaltender Tim Thomas was unable to control the rebound, and winger Scott Walkerpounced to put the puck in the net for his first career playoff goal to end the game 3-2 and the series.
And the fact that it was Walker who scored the series-winner had to hurt Bruins fans doubly, since he was the person who sucker punched Bruins defenseman Aaron Ward near the end of Game 5. According to NHL rules, Ward should have been suspended for Game 6, but the league rescinded the suspension after a hearing on Monday. So he went from almost breaking Ward’s face to definitely breaking the Bruins’ hearts.
(Of course, even though it was a Game 7 overtime winner, it arguably wasn’t as impressive or as cold-blooded as how the Hurricanes scored two late goals to send the New Jersey Devils packing in Game 7 of their first-round series. If I’m the Penguins in the Eastern Conference finals, I’m doing everything I can to close them out early.)
The Detroit Red Wings’ Game 7 victory over the Anaheim Ducks didn’t go to overtime, but it sure had its share of drama. Detroit went up two goals early, only to see Anaheim claw back to level the score at 3-3. But Dan Clearyscored with three minutes to go to give the Red Wings the go-ahead goal and Detroit’s defense was able to make it stick, setting up a Western Conference Finals match-up with the Chicago Blackhawks.
Oh, you say that you prefer NBA Game 7s? Well, you’ll have your chance for satisfaction soon enough, as two teams fought off elimination to earn one deciding game. In Orlando, the subtle message that Dwight Howard sent to Orlando Magic coach Stan Van Gundy through the media (i.e. “quit being an idiot and get me the ball”) must have sunk in, as Howard had 23 points and 22 rebounds and the Magic forced a return trip to Boston with an 83-75 victory over the Celtics. None of which apparently excited Orlando fans to show up, as there were “patches of empty seats early in the game.”
No wonder Commissioner David Stern was at the Lakers vs. Rockets game. And speaking of late-arriving - someone might want to tell the Lakers that Houston is in a different time zone, because they clearly aren’t showing up for games there until it’s too late. Much like in Game 4, Los Angeles put themselves in a huge hole they never could get out of, at one point closing an early 16-point deficit to two points but finally running out of steam and falling 95-80 to force a Game 7 at Staples Center. Meanwhile, the Denver Nuggets wait and rest.
Here’s some more sports news to digest while I try to figure out how to be part of “Bike To Work Day” when I work from home.
Your daily Brett Favre Update Despite Any Real News: Chris Mortenson and Ed Werder combined mind powers to let us know that Favre consulted noted orthopedic specialist Dr. James Andrews to see if his bicep injury could be fixed without surgery. Which means that he’s definitely going to play for the Vikings. Or definitely not. Or whatever.
Major league umpire Paul Schriber had to apologize for touching the Tigers’ Magglio Ordonez while guiding him away from home plate following an argument over balls and strikes. The folks at BOOTLEGGER SPORTS aren’t buying this touchy-feely stuff, and they’re using “Bull Durham” as Exhibit A:
Milton Bradley: still crazy, but his suspension for bumping an umpire has been reduced from two games to one. And Rick Morrissey of the CHICAGO TRIBUNE suspects that the Chicago Cubs are OK with his insanity.