In The News: August 24, 2007

Alan Houston, Charles Oakley, Scottie Pippen, are you all paying attention? Please take a cue from Reggie Miller and keep your old bones off the NBA hardwood. Miller told the Indianapolis Star today that after a lot of thought and 2-a-day workout sessions over the last several weeks he has decided against joining 3/12th of the 2008 Eastern Conference All-Star team in Boston. Good decision. Do we really need old hats like Oakley and Miller back in the NBA, laboring up and down the court, one spin move away from throwing out a back or pulling a hamstring? Let’s move on people, and welcome in new blood like Kevin Durant and Greg Oden. Sometimes, we’re too eager to hold on to the past, perhaps at the expense of embracing the future.

Fantasy Football a Corporate Nightmare!

Managers, are you reading this? Be prepared to deal with some serious dip in productivity over the next several months as your busy little employees turn their attention to fantasy football season. A recent report from Challenger, Gray and Christmas states that US employers could lose upwards of $430 million during each week of the 17-week NFL season from lost employee productivity. A separate study conducted last year found that more than 13 million people play some form of fantasy sports – and of those 13 million, 93% play fantasy football. Have you had your draft yet?

Team USA Deflowers Virgin Islands

Team USA beat the Virgin Islands by a score of 123-59 last night during the FIBA Americas Tournament. The defense intensity was great yet again. Superstars putting egos aside to come together as a team is an overplayed cliché, but this Team USA squad will apparently live by that mantra.

Stern & Co. Levy Hefty Fines on Millionaire

How much does it cost an NBA owner for honestly speaking his mind with a hometown newspaper? $250,000, apparently. The NBA has fined Seattle Sonics minority owner Aubrey McClendon exactly that amount for comments he made earlier this month to the Oklahoma Journal Record.

Lakers Lose One of Their Own

The Los Angeles Lakers family lost one of its own yesterday, as former coach Bill “Butch” Van Brenda Kolff died at the age of 84. Van Brenda Kolff coached the Lakers teams headlined by Jerry West in the 60s, and took the team to the NBA Finals in 1967 and 1969.


Team USA looks golden against Venezuela

As we reported previously, the FIBA Tournament of the Americas kicked off on Wednesday, August 23 with a handful of games. Team USA, with Kobe Bryant and LeBron James in tow, beat…check that demolished Venezuela 112-69 during the final game of the evening at the Thomas and Mack Center in Las Vegas, NV. Despite the fact that ESPN did its best to hide the game from potential TV viewers by showing it live on ESPN Classic at 11pm Eastern Time, we were able to track down the broadcast and watch the entire game.

The FIBA tournament has generally been a cakewalk in recent years for the US Senior National Team, but the final score in last night’s game is no indication of the kind of dominance shown by the US squad – they looked pretty damn good! Carmelo Anthony and Michael Redd each led the team with 17 points as part of a balanced scoring attack, but it was the defensive intensity, passion and hustle from this group of NBA superstars that was truly unbelievable. In the opening quarter in particular, we actually felt sorry for the Venezuelan point guard, as Kobe got up in his face from the opening tip, relentlessly harassed the ball and came away with a couple of steals. Kobe generally rattled his man to the point where the Venezuelan player was more content to pass the ball away than even think about making a dribble move or taking a shot. Kobe definitely set the tone, and Carmelo agreed.

"We just wanted to be aggressive from the jump," Anthony said. "Kobe Bryant really set the tone on the defensive end pushing up on guys and getting a couple of steals. We fed off that."

Despite shooters like Redd and Mike Miller on the team, we don’t think Team USA will win this FIBA tournament or the Olympic gold by out-shooting their opponents. International players, European players in particular, are simply better shooters from the shorter International 3-point line. So, it will be defense that wins the gold. And judging from last night, this Team USA is ready to play some serious clamp down, rattle your opponent, in-your-face pressure defense.


The Michael Vick saga, when news isn't fit to print

Like just about everyone else, we’ve been following Atlanta Falcons quarterback Michael Vick’s trials and tribulations in the FBI dog-fighting probe. So far, we’ve purposefully stayed away from commenting on the proceedings, because we’re sure you’ve already been inundated with all forms of new details and forceful opinions on Vick and this story on an hourly basis.

But, at this stage, the media coverage itself is something we wanted to specifically focus on, because since the beginning we’ve felt that the reporting of this on-going story has been lacking some serious perspective. The collective media, it seems, has gathered around this story like a pack of hungry wolves chomping at the bit for the next morsel of information to trickle out through sources within the Falcons, the NFL, FBI, Michael Vick’s family, his neighbor’s cousin and his college roommate’s uncle, twice removed. Through all of this “reporting” by every news source from The New York Times to the New Virginian the story has become larger than life, significantly larger than it ever needed to be, or should have been.

The grizzly details of this case are horrible and everyone involved should be punished – Vick deserves every hour, day, week, month and year of jail time he gets as a result of his boneheaded and malicious acts. But, how did Vick’s actions become bigger news than the charges faced by former NFL player Rae Carruth, who had a hand in murdering his girlfriend in cold blood? How is dog-fighting a more heinous crime than the murder charges that were facing former New Jersey Net Jayson Williams or current Baltimore Raven Ray Lewis? What about former Chicago Bear Tank Johnson facing gun possession and assault charges? Or the case of current Tennessee Titan Pacman Jones, where a bar patron was left paralyzed stemming from an incident involving the cornerback? The list goes on. The media attention in these cases were dwarfed in comparison to the coverage of the Michael Vick dog-fighting trail. Is dog-fighting, however gruesome the details, more gruesome and shocking than murdering a human being?

Perhaps it’s because Vick has, or is about to be labeled guilty, in court, but it finally seems like the media is finding some time to step back from the feeding frenzy and gain some much needed perspective -- something that should have happened as soon as this news first broke. Sports radio and some newspaper stories are starting to really get to the heart of a serious problem with today’s media, and really the general populace, in identifying the most important, not the most sensational, stories. It seems the mainstream media is losing the ability to identify what matters most in news, and that is a huge problem.


In The News: August 21, 2007

Time Warner has apparently stepped up talks with the NBA to take charge of all operations at the league’s flagship NBA TV network. Currently only available as part of the sports package through most cable systems, Time Warner management may help bring NBA TV into the basic digital cable lineup, thus increasing the network’s viewer-ship significantly. However, before that happens, producers and executives at both the NBA and Time Warner need to take a very close look at the programming available on the network. Sure NBDL and some international games are fine, but the network needs more programming focused on nightly highlights, in-depth analysis, player interviews and behind-the-scenes access – and it wouldn’t hurt to send a broadcast crew to some of the summer all-star games that draws big basketball names to the court during the off months.

No more room in the NBA? There have been a lot of decent NBA free agents looking for jobs this summer, seems more than usual. Wondering why? Perhaps Draft Express has the answers.

Did you know that Cleveland Cavaliers owner Dan Gilbert is also behind those obnoxious commercials for the Fathead giant wall stickers? Did you know that the recent struggles of his other company, Quicken Loans, has nothing to do with the Cavs not signing even one free-agent this summer?

So now that Michael Vick has entered into a guilty plea, once he’s out of jail will he ever play in the NFL? Sporting News seems to think so, and we tend to agree. Of course, this is all contingent on what NFL commissioner Roger Goodell does. If he chooses to ban Vick for life, then Vick might as well use his time in the penitentiary library wisely and study up on a new trade.

Surprise, surprise. San Diego Chargers running back Ladanian Tomlinson’s NFL jersey leads all in sales. We were hoping that former Maryland Terp and current Denver Bronco Dominique Foxworth would be on the list. Guess his jersey came up just short.

Autoweek has posted an updated article on the future of various Lexus models. Interestingly, the article seems to confirm that the new Lexus “supercar”, which we covered in an earlier post, will be called LF-1 when it goes into production, and will be all-wheel instead of rear-wheel drive.

Team USA trims down for FIBA run

Four players, including guard Mike Miller, and forwards Kevin Durant, Tyson Chandler and Nick Collision, found themselves squarely on the bubble as the final round of cuts for the US National Team approached. In the end, Durant and Collision will be staying at home, as the US basketball team begins its long run back to Olympic gold, beginning with the FIBA Americas Tournament.

As much as we’ve been touting Kevin Durant, ever since the first game he stepped on the court wearing a Texas Longhorns uniform, he is too young and inexperienced for international basketball – besides, the team has too many experienced NBA pros with similar skills in Kobe, Carmelo and LeBron. Team USA did well in picking a shooter and a shot-blocker to round out the squad.

The FIBA Americas Tournament begins for Team USA with a game on Wednesday, August 22 against Venezuela. The game will be shown at 11pm Eastern Time on either ESPN Classic or ESPN 360 – it will be replayed on Thursday, August 23 at 1am Eastern on ESPN2 and 12pm Eastern on NBA TV. A full TV schedule can be found here.

The national team isn’t without its faults, but we’re more excited and confident in this Team USA squad than we have been in quite some time. Part of it is because of the depth and addition of shooters like Michael Redd and Mike Miller, but it mainly has to do with the fact that Kobe is finally playing for the national team. On a nightly basis he puts a mediocre Los Angeles Lakers team on his shoulder and refuses to let them lose. Imagine how valuable he’ll be in the 4th quarter of games on the national stage.

"Kobe is as good a player as there is on the planet and he's a team oriented player," said Team USA head coach Mike Krzyzewski. "He's just as good defensively as he is offensively. That's a nice thing to have."

Joining Kobe on Team USA for the FIBA Americas Tournament will be: LeBron James, Carmelo Anthony, Dwight Howard, Amare Stoudamire, Jason Kidd, Chauncey Billups, Michael Redd, Mike Miller, Tyson Chandler, Tayshaun Prince and Deron Williams.

We can’t wait for tip-off against Venezuela!