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Archive for April, 2013


The CBS announcer thinks Collins’ announcement isn’t worthy of such praise

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Tim Brando calls a February college basketball game. (Rich Barnes/USA TODAY Sports)

Tim Brando calls a February college basketball game. (Rich Barnes/USA TODAY Sports)

After insinuating Jason Collins’ sexuality was a choice, CBS play-by-play announcer and radio host Tim Brando complained on Twitter about people using the word “hero” to describe the NBA player and his historic announcement. What followed was exactly the type of reasoned discourse you’d expect on a site that’s home to 38 million Justin Bieber followers.

Brando retweeted support and argued with critics for more than six hours on Monday after making the inflammatory comments about the NBA’s first openly gay player. He later backed away from the “choice” comment, insisting he was talking about Collins’ choice to come out at 34 years old. He got the most flak for arguing that Collins isn’t a hero.

Without resorting to the cliched “Webster’s defines ‘hero’” line — which is an easy way to prove Brando’s position is weak — isn’t it legitimate to say that a hero is in the eye of the beholder? Brando wants to reserve the term for the men and women in our military, police forces and firefighting units. Why?

If at least one person out there thinks Collins is a hero, then he’s a hero to that person. We’re all entitled to our opinions, as Brando notes repeatedly when defending himself.

The strangest thing is that Brando hosts a daily radio show that’s broadcast nationally. Rather than write his provocative opinions in 140-character bursts, he could have fleshed out a reasonable defense of his position on his show. It’s hard to stake out complex positions in a couple sentences. Even if you disagree with Brando, as I do, there’s theoretically a nuanced discussion waiting to be had. Twitter isn’t the place for it, as it can led to lines like this:

First of all, what? Second of all, just because you’re logged into Twitter doesn’t mean you have to give every opinion that runs through your head. And finally, as the Tumblr site Public Shamingpoints out, Brando hasn’t treated the word “hero” with such reverence in the past.

Brando thinks golfer David Toms and the lead singer of Hootie and the Blowfish are heroes. That’s fine; it’s his opinion. On Monday, it was the opinion of many, many more that Jason Collins was a hero too.

 

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BY JIMMY SPENCER167076638_nuggets_warriors_widner_132a_original_crop_exact

 OAKLAND, CALIF.—More than an hour prior to the Golden State Warriors’ Game 4 showdown against the Denver Nuggets on Sunday, the darling of this NBA postseason sat in a mostly deserted Warriors home locker room.

No cameras. No recorders. Just a superstar in the making all by himself. For Stephen Curry, this won’t happen much longer.

“You’re getting an awful lot of recognition these days,” I told him.

He lifted a slight smile, unassuming in this moment just as he is on the court.

“Yeah, you know how all that changes,” Curry said.

He’s right. It is changing. The attention is building and the crowds will begin to encircle his locker before long. 

Curry took another step into the spotlight of superstardom in the Warriors’ 115-101 Game 4 victory against the Nuggets, flashing his flair for the moment with a 31-point performance that included 6-of-11 shooting on three-pointers. 

He scored 22 of those points and hit five of his three-pointers in the third quarter, when the Warriors decidedly put the Nuggets on their heels and ultimately into a 3-1 deficit in the best-of-seven series.

 Curry’s third quarter left teammate Jarrett Jack at a “loss for words.”Curry lit up the crowd with each arching shot. He sent the emphatic clamor of Oracle Arena into unhinged euphoria with his celebrations. At one point in that third quarter, after an and-1 layup, he sprinted into an exultant stance in the corner baseline and pounded his hands together toward the Warriors crowd.

When he catches fire, he loses his bashful demeanor as an animated, tongue-wagging personality is revealed.

Curry’s 18 three-pointers through his first four playoff games is historic. As much as Denver tried to contain him Sunday with full-court shadows and face-guarding, Curry found ways to sneak into enough open space to connect from anywhere on the floor.

Now, the basketball nation is beginning to take notice of Golden State’s sensational talent.

Warriors coach Mark Jackson joked about Curry’s recent attention: “Those guys are just coming to the hospital; the baby has been born already.”

Mark Jackson talks about a nation just now taking notice of Stephen Curry.Curry continues to showcase his talents on the grand stage of the NBA playoffs. Through four games, the fourth-year player is averaging 27.3 points, 4.5 three-pointers and 10 assists per game.

After not being selected as an All-Star reserve, Curry’s game raised to a higher level with averages of 26 points and 7.4 assists.

But as much as the Bay Area’s golden boy continues to be glorified for lighting it up, he remains unwavering in his humbleness. He’s more likely to recognize his teammates, or credit the intricacies of the offense or a certain play call, than take credit for his heroics. 

When asked about his sweet shooting after Game 4, Curry spoke his modest language: “I was just able to get good looks. Like Andrew [Bogut] said, we were setting great screens, finding openings in the pick-and-roll.”

 

Stephen Curry talks with the media following his 31-point performance in Game 4.

 

The sound bites aren’t always spectacular; he’ll never say a controversial word. But the humility of Curry, and that he’s undersized for NBA standards at 6’3” and 185 pounds, doesn’t equate to timidity. 

Curry has an edge. He can get feisty on the floor. He’ll jaw at opponents, and he’ll mix it up inside.

 

urry gets in a scrap with the Indiana Pacers’ Roy Hibbert.

 

Just ask Roy Hibbert.

Of course, the Golden State-sized elephant is Curry’s injury history. His vulnerable right ankle has received two surgeries, and it’s too often a worry.

In Game 2 in Denver, Curry turned his left ankle, not his surgically repaired right one. He was listed as questionable before his 29-point performance in Game 3. 

Curry told me before Sunday’s game it had been a year-and-a-half since he sprained his left ankle, and the pain was still with him headed into Game 4.

The ankle pain was enough to take a pain-killing injection prior to the game, something he said took more than a half to kick in. Warriors coach Mark Jackson said he had been thinking about taking him out.

“I did have a talk with him,” Jackson said. “I actually took him out in the first half and was considering shutting him down, and I told him that. It was almost like a boxer that knew he was on the ropes because it was just a matter of time.”

Thank goodness he didn’t, as it would have taken away a very memorable third quarter.

“I told him, I didn’t need him to be a hero,” then Jackson laughed. “Talk about smart coaching.”

Jackson often uses the name “Reggie Miller” to compare what Curry is doing or what he’s capable of doing. It isn’t a careless connection. Curry set an NBA regular-season record this season with 272 three-pointers. 

Fans of the game embrace guys who launch and connect from anywhere. Curry is congenial and flashes an on-court personality that supports his ability to become one of the game’s most popular players.

Most important, though, he’s no longer losing. Golden State’s playoff run is propelling him onto an adoring national stage.

Those moments alone at his locker room will soon vanish, just as they do for all NBA superstars

By Robert Littal 

Jason Collins

Don’t be surprised if more older NBA and NFL players start to come out of the closet.

There is less risk involved, Jason Collins penned an open letter to SI.com, explaining why he wanted to tell the world he is gay.

Here is his explanation why.

Why am I coming out now? Well, I started thinking about this in 2011 during the NBA player lockout. I’m a creature of routine. When the regular season ends I immediately dedicate myself to getting game ready for the opener of the next campaign in the fall. But the lockout wreaked havoc on my habits and forced me to confront who I really am and what I really want. With the season delayed, I trained and worked out. But I lacked the distraction that basketball had always provided.

When I was younger I dated women. I even got engaged. I thought I had to live a certain way. I thought I needed to marry a woman and raise kids with her. I kept telling myself the sky was red, but I always knew it was blue.

I realized I needed to go public when Joe Kennedy, my old roommate at Stanford and now a Massachusetts congressman, told me he had just marched in Boston’s 2012 Gay Pride Parade. I’m seldom jealous of others, but hearing what Joe had done filled me with envy. I was proud of him for participating but angry that as a closeted gay man I couldn’t even cheer my straight friend on as a spectator. If I’d been questioned, I would have concocted half truths. What a shame to have to lie at a celebration of pride. I want to do the right thing and not hide anymore. I want to march for tolerance, acceptance and understanding. I want to take a stand and say, “Me, too.”

As I stated above, it is easier when you are an older player on the downside of your career. Even though Jason Collins has been in the league for many years, his name wouldn’t ring a bell with casual fans.

Now everyone will know him and this will be talked about for days. So, while I am sure Jason Collins wanted to get this off his chest, there is also a part that will be great PR for him and the gay community.

I have no feelings about it either way, to be perfectly honest.  Your choice, to come out or not, better you do it, then let Hollywood Simpson do it for you.

by Glenn Erby

 darnell-reed-young-three-pitt-players-arrested

People especially college athletes have got to smarten up and do better. A local Pittsburgh CBS affiliate is reporting that three Pitt football players were arrested and detained in a Oakland, Pennsylvania Heroin bust.

Police, undercover officers and SWAT members raided a Oakland, Pa., home at around 10:30 p.m. and seized 20 bags of heroin, a bong and a grinder. The raid came after an investigation that led to undercover agents purchasing heroin from Darnell Reed-Young. Reed-Young was arrested before police raided the home.

The three were identified as 20-year-old Pitt linebacker Eric Williams, 21-year-old Pitt tight end Andrew Carswell, and 21-year-old Pitt defensive linemen Khaynin Mosley-Smith.

Pitt head coach Paul Chryst announced the players have been suspended from the team immediately and released a statement regarding his disappointment.

We have strict and clear standards regarding these types of behaviors,” Chryst said. “What has occurred with these three young men does not represent the standards of our program or university.”

  • By BRIAN COSTELLO
  • West Virginia QB Geno Smith was selected by the Jets in the second round of the NFL Draft.

West Virginia QB Geno Smith was selected by the Jets in the second round of the NFL Draft.

 Get ready for Broadway Geno.

The Jets pulled a stunner with the seventh pick of the second round of the NFL Draft on Friday night, selecting West Virginia quarterback Geno Smith.

Smith was viewed by many people as the best quarterback in this year’s draft but he slid out of the first round Thursday night as America watched him sit in the green room not hearing his name called. He had to wait for the Jets’ pick to come up at 39 overall last night to be chosen.

 

Rumors swirled throughout the day that the Jets were trying to trade up to select Smith. As he continued to fall, the scenario became more and more likely.

This likely spells the end of Mark Sanchez’s time with the Jets. The team could designate Sanchez a post-June 1 cut to save on salary cap space. He would then count $12.3 million against the cap, less than he would if he is on the roster. The Jets would owe him $8.75 million, a check that would be tough for owner Woody Johnson to cut, but why keep him around if Smith is viewed as your future?

Smith, a 6-foot-2, 218 pounder, threw for 42 touchdowns and six interceptions for the Mountaineers. He threw for 656 yards and eight touchdowns in a 70-63 victory over Baylor.

The selection of a quarterback could be good news for head coach Rex Ryan, who will avoid much blame if the team struggles with a rookie quarterback this season.

Long and Wright orally commit to Siena, while Jiggetts might move on

By Mark Singelais
The Siena men’s basketball coaches took Lavon Long and Marquis Wright to Barcelona Restaurant for lunch and 677 Prime for dinner.

The two high school recruits from Maryland played pickup ball with members of the current team in the Alumni Recreation Center.

When their official visit was over on Thursday, Long and White both orally committed to play for the Saints next season.

Long, a 6-foot-7 forward from Oakland Mills High, and Wright, a 6-1 point guard from North Point High, plan to follow new Siena coach Jimmy Patsos from Loyola University.

Long and Wright were both released from their letters of intent with Loyola when Patsos resigned to take the Siena job this month.

“I like the coach and the school still fits with what I like,” Long said. “I like that the campus is still not that big, but it’s comfortable. The team’s good and I feel comfortable around everybody.”

Long described himself as someone who can play both inside and outside. In Patsos’ up-tempo system, he projects as a small forward who can play some power forward.

Wright, the Gatorade Player of the Year in Maryland, said he and Long got to know each other better on their visit. They had only played against each other.

“Great school, great coaching staff, great fans,” Wright said. “It’s the best fit for me.”

Patsos declined comment on both players because they haven’t signed. Neither is allowed to sign a binding letter of intent with Siena because rules prohibit players from signing twice in the same academic year.

Instead, Long and Wright will fill out admissions paperwork, according to a Siena spokesman.

Also on Thursday, Siena found out one of its previous signees might not come to the college after all.

Stephan Jiggetts, a 6-1 combination guard from Bishop McNamara in Forestville, Md., has decommitted from Siena, according to a Washington, D.C.-based basketball Web site.

Jiggetts didn’t return a phone call but did retweet the news reported by the Web site DMVelite.com. Jiggetts also tweeted, “Moving forward,” which he later deleted.

Jiggetts signed with Siena in November, when Mitch Buonaguro was still head coach.

Patsos, appearing at Siena’s postseason banquet, said he spoke to Jiggetts on Wednesday night and everything seemed fine.

“He’s fine.” Patsos said. “I think he’s going to weigh some things out. I only want players at Siena that want to be at Siena.”

Jiggetts and Wright have been friends since childhood. Wright’s high school coach said last week that Wright wanted to attend Siena partly because Jiggetts was going there.

If Jiggetts doesn’t come, the Saints have commitments from four players for next season: Long, Wright, Troy High forward Javion Ogunyemi, who is signed, and Baltimore shooting guard Maurice White, who has yet to visit the campus or sign.

Screenshot2013-04-26at12

 Miami Hurricanes star point guard Shane Larkin will reportedly forgo his final two years of collegiate eligibility and enter the 2013 NBA draft.

ESPN’s Andy Katz broke the news on Friday, noting that Larkin’s father, ex-Cincinnati Reds great Barry Larkin, was made aware of his son’s intentions.

A press conference originally scheduled for Sunday at 6 p.m. may be pushed up now that Shane’s plans to go pro are public knowledge.

Larkin was the catalyst for the Hurricanes’ best season in program history, as they won the Atlantic Coast Conference regular-season title along with the conference tournament.

 Although they bowed out to Marquette in the Sweet 16, it was still a phenomenal year for Larkin, who averaged 14.5 points, 3.8 rebounds and 4.6 assists per contest.

According to Katz, the superb sophomore campaign should be enough to land Larkin in the first round of the draft. It makes sense, since Michigan’s Trey Burke and Syracuse’s Michael Carter-Williams are the only better options at the point guard position.

Whichever NBA squad gets Larkin will have a capable distributor who rebounds better than his 5’11” size would indicate and, most importantly, is a fantastic shooter.

Larkin has legitimate pro range from beyond the arc and shot 40.6 percent from three-point land in his final season in Miami. That was an eight-percent increase from the year prior.

There is also a certain tenacity and aggressiveness that Larkin brings to the hardwood. He needs to put on more strength to continue being an effective perimeter defender at the next level, but his instincts and on-court awareness are undeniable.

Since he likely won’t be chosen until the latter part of Round 1, Larkin will have time to develop as a bench contributor for a likely playoff contender, with the upside to eventually be a quality starter

Skylar Diggins Signs to Jay-Z and Roc Nation Sports

 skylardigginssignstorocnation

Skylar Diggins is the newest member of the Roc Nation Sports team. Jay-Z’s latest venture has hit the ground running with signees Robinson Cano and Victor Cruz. Skylar adds another dynamic to the agency and has positioned herself to be the most marketed woman in sports.

Roc Nation isn’t just about flashing the dynasty sign and partying either; their partnership with CAA Sports gives their athletes the opportunity to be represented by some of the best agents in the world.

There are no signs of the Roc Nation slowing down. The Diggins signing is just the latest step in what is shaping up to be a long line of star studded clients

 By Michael David Smith

WarrenMoonGettyGetty Images

Warren Moon wasn’t selected in the 1978 NFL draft and had to spend six years dominating the Canadian Football League before any NFL team would give him a chance to be the Hall of Fame quarterback he eventually became. It’s hard to view the NFL’s snubbing of Moon in the 70s and 80s as anything other than racism.

But while the NFL has made some progress on that front, Moon doesn’t think that progress has been sufficient: Moon told USA Today that he believes black quarterbacks are still held back by evaluators who view them unfairly.

Specifically, Moon noted that West Virginia quarterback Geno Smith was the subject of a scathing assessment that in Moon’s opinion crossed the line

“It sounds the same as two years ago,” Moon said. “It just shows that there are a lot of people in society who have the biases and stereotypes. And most of it is about your integrity or leadership or work ethic — all of these intangible things.”

Even 35 years after he was passed over in the draft, Moon still thinks the NFL has a long way to go.

By Glenn Erby 

 Tavon-Austin-rex-ryan-has-a-plan-for-me.jpg123-20121103

West Virginia wide receiver Tavon Austin is the talk of the NFL Draft, and I can only wonder if he’d be the #1 pick if he was a bit taller.

Austin still is coveted, and one place draft experts see him going is to the Jets at #9 if he’s still on the board.  Austin while in New York participating in an NFL 60 event, admitted that Jets head coach Rex Ryan “has a plan for how to use him” according to the Star Ledger.

“He made a little joke, ‘We might throw you on the defensive side, a couple plays,’ but it was everything good,” Austin said today at the NFL’s Play 60 Youth Football Festival with several of the NFL Draft’s top prospects. “He said he had a plan for me. I talked to the offensive coordinator (Marty Mornhinweg), and they said they like players like me who can bring big-play ability there.”

Austin who had over 2,700 all-purpose yards for West Virginia last year will definitely get a chance to display his versatility for whoever drafts him.

“I had a visit with them, so I was in their facility. They put me on the board and everything, (to) see how smart I was. For the most part everything went well,” Austin said. “I met everybody, and they pretty much said they like me a lot, and hopefully we can make it happen.”

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