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Archive for October, 2013


By John Ferensen

Kobe Bryant

Kobe Bryant was the focus of a recent contrived controversy thanks to ESPN’s annual NBA Player Rank,which ranked the Lakers superstar the 25th best player in the league. Kobe immediately responded to the slight by changing his Twitter avatar to “1225″ — a nod both his rank, and another ESPN poll that ranked the Lakers the 12th best team in the Western Conference.

Today, Kobe sent another message to the haters, by suggesting anyone who thinks he’s the 25th best player in the world needs drug testing:

We’re actually kind of on board with the idea of drug testing NBA analysts, especially those who make insane predictions like this.

[Twitter]

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NFL questioned over profits from pink merchandise sold to aid cancer research

ESPN reports percentage of profits from ‘A Crucial Catch’ campaign kept by league as fundraising month goes on

Jets running back Bilal Powell is tackled by Steelers cornerback Ike Taylor

Jets running back Bilal Powell is tackled by Steelers cornerback Ike Taylor – both wearing pink apparel. Photograph: Ed Mulholland/USA Today Sports

It has been reported that only a small proportion of funds raised during“A Crucial Catch”, the league’s month-long campaign to support breast cancer research through the sale of pink merchandise and memorabilia, will actually go to help breast cancer research.

The NFL‘s campaign, which aims to increase awareness of the need for annual breast cancer screenings “especially for women who are 40 or older”, runs throughout October and sees many players wearing items of pink equipment during games. All such apparel and a number of other items, including pink game balls, will later be auctioned in aid of the American Cancer Society’s Community Health Advocates National Grants for Empowerment (CHANGE) programme. The league also gives fans the chance to donate $10 to the American Cancer Society, by sending a special “NFLPINK” text message.

However, citing data obtained from the NFL, Darren Rovell of ESPN tweeted: “On pink gear, the NFL says it takes a 25% royalty from the wholesale price (1/2 retail), donates 90% of royalty to American Cancer Society.”

At Business Insider, Cork Gaines wrote: “In other words, for every $100 in pink merchandise sold, $12.50 goes to the NFL. Of that, $11.25 goes to the American Cancer Society (ACS) and the NFL keeps the rest.” Gaines added: “The remaining money is then divided up by the company that makes the merchandise (37.5%) and the company that sells the merchandise (50.0%), which is often the NFL and the individual teams.”

Most pink NFL merchandise is sold through the NFL’s online store, making the NFL the company which sells the merchandise and thus receives 50% of the money received.

A Pittsburgh Steelers fan supports Breast Cancer Awareness Month

A Steelers fan supports Breast Cancer Awareness Month. Photo: Chris Szagola/Zuma Press/Corbis

Writing for the Los Angeles Times, Patt Morrison asked: “What does it really mean, that anodyne marketing phrase, ‘A portion of the proceeds from this product will be donated to help fight breastcancer‘?” Morrison also discussed claims that the NFL’s efforts to promote breast cancer researchare also aimed at capturing a female audience.

The NFL has not yet commented on the issue.

Efforts to raise money for breast cancer research continue outside the NFL. This weekend, the University of Oregon Ducks will wear pink helmets for their game against Washington State. They will also wear pink cleats, socks and gloves, in an effort to raise money for the Kay Yow Cancer Fund, which is named for a North Carolina State women’s basketball coach who died from the disease in 2009. Twenty-five of the pink helmets will be auctioned.

 

New York Knicks fans, brace yourself. Take a deep breath and exhale slowly. Then make sure you’re sitting down before reading any further. 

In a long-form piece for The New York Observer, Rafi Kohan relayed the following quote, spoken by none other than Carmelo Anthony

I want to be a free agent. I think everybody in the NBA dreams to be a free agent at least one time in their career. It’s like you have an evaluation period, you know. It’s like if I’m in the gym and I have all the coaches, all the owners, all the GMs come into the gym and just evaluate everything I do. So yes, I want that experience.

‘Melo’s impending foray into free agency has been the subject of much discussion throughout the offseason.

Will he decide to stay in New York for the foreseeable future? Will he opt out and hit the open market? Could he—gasp—join the Los Angeles Lakers, putting on a purple-and-gold jersey that would incite plenty of boos? 

It’s sure to be a hot-button issue throughout the 2013-14 campaign, even as the Knicks keep pace in the Eastern Conference and remain a legitimate part of the title chase. Especially now that the world knows where Anthony stands on the issue. 

But what does this actually mean? Should we start spewing out doom and gloom for the Knicks? 

 Nope, definitely not. 

Last I checked, it was possible to opt out of a contract and then re-sign for a longer deal with the very same team. Becoming a free agent doesn’t mean that ‘Melo is going to find a new home, and New York fans should be all too familiar with that process. Remember, J.R. Smith opted out of a deal and then re-signed with the Knicks during the 2013 off season.

Anthony continued speaking after his proclamation:

I came to New York for a reason. I’ve been with you all my life, almost to a fault. I wanted to come here and take on the pressures of playing in New York. So one thing I would tell my fans: If you haven’t heard it from me, then it ain’t true.

See? Nothing to worry about yet. Anthony is still focused on the coming season, and that won’t change unless the Knicks drop out of contention. 

 If B/R’s Zach Buckley is correct, there’s nothing to worry about. He predicts that the Knicks ceiling could reach “all the way into June” if everything goes according to plan and that they won’t fall below the No. 5 seed in the East.

Let’s keep the focus on that title quest for now, even if ‘Melo has stated he wants to become a free agent. Remember, there’s a difference between hitting the open market and taking advantage of it.

For now, Anthony is still the top player on the Knicks, and he will be for quite some time.

By Glenn Erby 

  wiggins-andrew-nike-adidas

NBA teams are lining up and tanking for the opportunity to draft Andrew Wiggins in next June’s NBA draft.

The moving and shaking to acquire Wiggins’ services doesn’t stop with just NBA teams either.  According to Bleacher Report, expect Adidas and Nike to engage in a serious bidding war for Wiggins.

“From what I’m hearing, (Adidas) is really high on him,” an industry source said. “I’ve heard a range for sure, from like $140 to $180 million for like 10 years. That’s a big deal for a kid coming out of school because most rookie deals are probably like four years.”

“I’m hearing from people at Kansas that he’s got a $180 million offer supposedly coming from Adidas,” a source close to Wiggins’ inner circle said. “But I also heard that Nike is going to match anything.”

Wiggins wore Nike in high school, but Adidas will have plenty of opportunity to schmooze Wiggins, since Kansas is an Adidas school.

 

By John Pavia

With the NBA season on the horizon, it’s time to look at the pre-season favorites to win the Rookie of the Year race this season.

In one of the weaker drafts on paper in recent years, the field is about as wide open as can be this season. Players who are on bottom-feeder teams will have the chance to showcase individual abilities and gaudy statistics, but I will also take into account their contributions to their team’s competitiveness in games. Anyone can pile up stats in garbage time, but if you can do so in close games and sneak out some wins, your statistics and efforts look that much better.

Without further ado, let’s take a look at the 10 favorites for NBA Rookie of the Year this season:

10. C.J. McCollum, PG/SG – Portland Trail Blazers: 

The Lehigh graduate has indeed suffered a bit of a setback with the broken foot he suffered just a few days ago. However, when he comes back he will have a chance to display the offensive arsenal he has at his disposal. He can shoot threes, get to the rim, distribute, and hit from mid-range as well. Like fellow rookie Archie Goodwin (spoiler alert), he can play point guard in a pinch, but he lacks the size to really bully other guards around. His skill-set makes up for the lack of size and his basketball IQ is off-the-charts high. He will be an entertaining player this season and one I look forward to watching. If he comes back soon and stays healthy, he may rocket up this list.

 

9. Archie Goodwin, SG – Phoenix Suns

While many will argue he left school too early and is not ready for the pros, Goodwin could not have landed in a better situation. The Suns are clearly rebuilding with the acquisition of Eric Bledsoe to play alongside Goran Dragic. Goodwin’s ability to play either guard spot, his excellent size and attack-the-rim mindset makes him a dynamic, young player with a chance to impress this season. He still needs minutes to succeed, and he will have to earn them with Shannon Brown and Kendall Marshall in front of him at the moment. However, it may not be long before he starts turning heads like he did in the summer league.

 8. Dennis Schroeder, PG – Atlanta Hawks:

Another rookie with the potential to rocket up the list if things fall into place. The German-born point guard has supreme athleticism and quickness at his position and his instincts have been compared to Rajon Rondo; he looks to be just as big of a pest on defense as him as well. He just turned 20 and still has a bit of a learning curve, but his potential and hints of promise are undeniable at this point. If Jeff Teague were to go down with an injury, Schroeder would definitely get a large bulk of the minutes as the starting point guard. Still, he will spell Teague frequently enough to show us why the Hawks drafted another young, promising point guard. 

 7. Anthony Bennett, SF/PF – Cleveland Cavaliers: 

This may seem a bit low for a number one overall pick, but Bennett will not be the first, second or maybe even third option on this team for a little while. He is undoubtedly one of the most gifted offensive players in this rookie class and his perimeter game does make him an intriguing mismatch for bigger defenders. The problem simply lies in the lack of opportunities he will get. He will play third or fourth fiddle to Kyrie Irving, Dion Waiters, and maybe even Andrew Bynum/Tristan Thompson/Anderson Varejao. Bennett also has much to prove in the defense and rebounding departments. He lacks the quickness to defend quicker wings, and the strength to match-up with bigger post players. Though in a crowded frontcourt, the Cavs have enough depth that maybe during the season they will unload some players to make more room for Bennett and gain more cap space for, dare I say it, LeBron!

6. Trey Burke, PG – Utah Jazz:

Burke will be given the reigns on Day 1. While he was a tremendous college player, and one of my personal favorites to watch for his heady and clutch play from a man of his smaller stature, he might not have the physical attributes to justify his hype and draft slot. The core of his team is extremely young and while he might not be asked to lead the team right away, his ability to be able to do so will come into play at some point. We also must not forget his ability to make plays and his fearlessness of the big moment is a rare attribute to have. If he can fix his shooting woes from the summer league, he may prove me wrong and show us that he belongs near the top of this list.

 5. Kelly Olynyk, PF/C – Boston Celtics: 

One of my personal favorites on this list. His old-school post game brings back memories of a fairly poor man’s Kevin McHale. I’m not saying in any facet that Olynyk will end up being the next McHale, but his crafty moves near the basket, handle for a big man, and outside shooting ability are quite fun to watch if you love the fundamentals. He will get a lot of minutes on a bad team and I actually think he will end up higher on this list at the end of the year, but his ceiling is not as high as the four remaining players on this list, almost all of whom should see more minutes than Olynyk this year. However, since it is coach Brad Stevens’ first year, I could see Olynyk being a focal point on offense when he is in the game, and the Rondo/Olynyk pick-and-pop combo could be a fun little treat for basketball enthusiasts.

4. Ben McLemore, SG – Sacramento Kings:

McLemore is the total package for a shooting guard: size, athleticism, shooting stroke, defensive ability, etc. The only negative with his game so far has been consistency. In the summer league, we would see McLemore drop ridiculous point totals with excellent shooting numbers. And then he would score in the single digits, shoot poorly, and disappear from games. Landing with the Kings may not have been the best place for McLemore to grow, but he will get his chances. Almost immediately, he becomes the second option on offense behind DeMarcus Cousins. The Kings need to commit to McLemore and cut the crowded amount of egos and gunning mentalities (Marcus Thornton, John Salmons and even Jimmer Fredette, as much as I hate to say it) out of the picture if they want this former Kansas standout to become their second star of the future.

 3. Cody Zeller, PF/C – Charlotte Bobcats:

I flip-flopped on Zeller and Olynyk, mainly due to their similar skill-sets, but Zeller should end up starting and playing significant minutes this season on a slightly better team. Yes, I think the Bobcats might be better than the Celtics, as much as that pains me to say, at least until Rondo comes back. Zeller will benefit from playing alongside Al Jefferson. Jefferson averages less than 10 rebounds a game, meaning there should be plenty to go around for Zeller. He also spaces the floor well with his ability to shoot consistently out to 18 feet and he has worked on a three-point game as well this offseason. Zeller runs the floor exceptionally well for his size (7’0) and will get easy points that way this season.

 2. Michael Carter-Williams, PG – Philadelphia 76ers

While I may not be MCW’s biggest fan, he does indeed possess the ability to be a good point guard in this league one day. He is huge for his position, has outstanding passing ability, and rebounds well for his position also. On occasion, he has also shown us he can hit big shots and make crucial plays in important games. But there are two large concerns that need to be addressed this season: shooting and turnovers. His outside shot is erratic at best and unless it is improved, teams will dare him to make them from deep before allowing him to penetrate and kick or dump down to his post players.

The second concern was certainly on display this summer as his assists were high, but his turnovers were as well. He does have a tendency to force plays and passes at times which is surprising for how good a passer he is. He, like Burke, will be given the reigns right away on an even worse team. He may end up piling up stats on a very, very bad team and this could sway voters to giving him the award. As I said before the list began, statistics piled up when you’re losing by 25 is not impressive, but piling them up while keeping a game competitive proves more about your ability and make-up as a player. The Sixers may not be as bad as we think if MCW can control his turnovers, shoot capably enough for his defenders to respect him, and facilitate like we know he can.

1. Victor Oladipo, PG/SG – Orlando Magic: 

There is no rookie in the league I am more excited to watch than Oladipo. He is an incredible physical specimen combined with a tremendous work ethic and improving skill-set. He received rave reviews during the summer league for his much improved outside shot and ability to facilitate to his teammates from his newly appointed point guard position. Oladipo rebounds at a high rate for his size and is a transition monster on the wing. His outside shot does look much better and his confidence appears to be sky-high right now. Coach Jacque Vaughn has deemed it ideal to give Oladipo control of the offense and it might turn out to be a great decision if he can improve his dribble game a bit to consistently get by his defenders into dangerous areas. He will be a defensive pest much like Schroeder and his highlights this season should be second to no other rookie.

 

By Evan Hilbert | CBSSports.com

The Kentucky High School Athletic Association issued a strange, seemingly counter-productive directive Tuesday: No more post game handshakes.

Citing more than 20 fights and other altercations over the past three years, the KHSAA has banned handshakes after games and meets in baseball, basketball, football, soccer, softball, volleyball and wrestling.

“It is disappointing that this action has become necessary, but enough incidents have occurred both in our state and in others that the necessity has arrived,” the KHSAA said in astatement.

There is a bit of a loophole, though it requires everyone acting appropriately after games. If teams decide to shake hands and there are no altercations, no action will be taken.

If there is an altercation, however, the schools’ athletic departments will be penalized.

Beyond that, any officials involved in “postgame activities” will be penalized.

So there you have it, kids: Play hard, play fair, and don’t dignify your opponents with respect after competing.

According to the Louisville (Ky.) Courier-Journal, Several schools are meeting Thursday to try to find a resolution that would both honor the mandate and allow for postgame handshakes.

“People are going to think we’re being bad sports if we don’t shake hands,” a Louisville high school’s athletic director told the paper. “Hopefully we can come up with something.”

Posted by Corey Pegram

 The more information DunkDog.com gathers on class of 2015 recruit Drew Edwards, the more exciting his future appears. Still, Edwards remains somewhat of a lesser known recruit to date.

First consider that Edwards’ twin sister is being recruited at the high-major level, and his older brother was a lock NCAA Division I recruit before being told he couldn’t play basketball anymore. His dad is 6-foot-6, and his mom stands 5-foot-8.

After watching him play, the lack of attention becomes even more difficult to understand, but part of the reason may be due to his style. Part of it may be his allegiance to an non-sponsored travel program.

Regardless of the reason, Edwards is a ‘secret’ that won’t last much longer.

Word is slowly but surely starting to leak out of the DMV area about the 6-foot-3 guard. Edwards currently attends Calvert Hall in Baltimore, Maryland and has been a key cog on the same Maryland 3-D Basketball Club team since he was in the fourth grade. An impressive feat in itself, Edwards’ loyalty becomes even more impressive when considering the various overtures he has turned down from opposing programs.

While the Maryland 3-D Basketball Club is a very well-respected organization and is gaining traction in the area, it remains a non-sponsored program at this time, and doesn’t provide the same amount of ‘fame’ that some of the other higher-profile travel programs offer.

Rarely does a high school basketball player in today’s game reject an opportunity for maximum exposure and attention. In Edwards’ case, however, it was the opposite. And according to Maryland 3-D representative and coach Dave Thurston, Edwards’ decision was a reflection of what his parents have raised him to be.

He chose loyalty over attention and his grounded approach is beginning to pay off.

Clemson, Dayton, and Virginia Tech have all offered, and Kansas State is on the verge. Arizona head coach Sean Miller is keeping tabs on Edwards, and a North Carolina assistant watched him workout earlier in the month of September.

According to Coach Thurston, following the North Carolina visit, he received a text from Edwards.

“Thank you for everything. I’m where I’m at right now because of what you have done.”

While humble and appreciative, the recruiting process is nothing new to the Edwards family, as all three children are blessed with basketball genes and natural ability. Edwards’ twin sister, Danielle, has made a serious name for herself in the women’s game and is entertaining a list of suitors including Louisville, Maryland, and Notre Dame, among others.

While Drew wins the one-on-one encounters, he still acknowledges his sister’s talents.

 “She’s never beaten me one-on-one, but she’s really good. She’s heard from all of them. She gets letters every day. From the top of women’s basketball all the way down to the low-collegiate level.”

Playing against his older brother, however, was once a different story.

The eldest child in the Edwards family, Darryle Edwards, was diagnosed with hypertrophic cardiomyopathy during his sophomore year of high school. Also known as HCM, it’s a condition in which the heart becomes enlarged, and sadly has claimed the lives of many young athletes who went undiagnosed.

For Darryle Edwards, while expected to lead a normal life, his dream of becoming a Division I was over before it truly began.

This realization was almost equally difficult for a young Drew Edwards, who grew up idolizing his older brother. Thurston said he remembers asking Drew who his favorite player was growing up. Drew’s response was always the same, never Kobe, LeBron, or Melo, but just ‘Darryle’.

Darryle surely remains a role model but is now forced to act it out in a different way.

 “I’ve always looked up to [my brother]. He was an amazing player. He’s probably the quickest player I’ve ever played against. I know I still couldn’t beat my brother to this day. But now, he’s [our] number one fan; for me and my sister. He just didn’t let anything stop him. He ended up graduating Calvert Hall with a 4.2 GPA.”

That’s very high praise considering opponents have been hard-pressed to find a way to stop Drew for years.

His attraction as a player, however, is showcased most in a team setting, and the centerpiece of his game lies in his IQ and instincts.

Edwards simply knows how to play and it shows on both ends. As a point guard, he dictates pace, finds teammates, and makes good decisions as both a scorer and facilitator. As a wing-guard, he’ll make a lot of shots, and do so efficiently.

His versatility is rare, and his style, unique. Edwards game is simply unforced, and he has the ability to play in an up-tempo game, while maintaining a controlled feel. He’s the effective-type that doesn’t need to make highlight plays in order to be noticed.

The main question becomes what position will Edwards play at the next level? Currently he’s being recruited at three different spots; point guard, shooting guard, and combo guard depending on the college program you ask.

Does it matter to him?

 

“I like playing the [two] because I love to shoot the ball. But if a team needs me to play the one, I have no problem being that.”

In the end, Edwards’ size could also come into play as he may not be done growing but ultimately, college coaches will have the luxury of choosing what at position to use. And that makes him an extremely valuable prospect.

Clearly, the list of positives with Drew Edwards is very long, and he’s likely to transform from an under-the-radar high school junior to a coveted high school senior within the next year.

Which schools battle it out for him remain to be seen, but it should come as no surprise that Coach Thurston claims loyalty will be taken into consideration.

That aspect will likely remain a constant, but there is one answer that has changed.

Now, Edwards does list a favorite NBA player. James Harden.

“To me, he’s underrated, and I like that about him.”

Norcross company buys Harlem Globetrotters photo

The Atlanta Journal-Constitution

Hershend Family Entertainment Corp., a Norcross-based company that operates Stone Mountain Park and Dollywood in Tennessee, said it has acquired the Harlem Globetrotters basketball team.

HFE, which owns or operates 26 entertainment properties across the country, said Harlem Globetrotters International Inc. will operate as a wholly-owned subsidiary. Financial terms of the deal with Shamrock Capital Advisors were not disclosed.

HFE’s businesses include theme parks, aquariums, hospitality businesses and tours. The company owns Silver Dollar City in Branson, Mo., and operates Wild Adventures Theme Park in Valdosta. The company also has entertainment business interests in New Jersey, Kentucky, New York and Colorado.

The Phoenix-based Globetrotters team, founded in 1926 as the Savoy Big Five, is known for its athleticism, comedy and signature them, a whistled version of “Sweet Georgia Brown.”

The exhibition team performs more than 400 events worldwide each year, HFE said. Players are touring Australia this month and will be back in Atlanta at Philips Arena in mid-March.

HFE said the deal with Shamrock, a Los Angeles-based private equity firm, will allow HFE to cross-market attractions to reach a larger audience, the company said.

“The team is coming off its best touring year ever, and this acquisition helps HFE diversify into a new but complementary business,” Joel Manby, HFE’s president and CEO, said in announcing the deal.

The Globetrotters employ more than 90 people, including players, staff and coaches. HFE said current management and the player roster will remain the same.

Michael Jordan Says He Could’ve Beaten LeBron 1-on-1, Unsure About Kobe Bryant

BY DAN FAVALE

Michael Jordan thinks he has you beat, LeBron James. As for you, Kobe Bryant, he’s not so sure.

In a video promoting NBA 2K14, His Airness rattles off a lengthy list of players he would’ve liked to have played one-on-one against, per the Associated Press (via CBS Philly).

A blend of current superstars and all-time greats made the list, including Jerry West, Elgin Baylor, Julius Erving, Carmelo Anthony, Dwyane Wade, Kobe and LeBron. And Jordan thinks he has each and every one of them beat—except for Kobe.

“I don’t think I would lose,” Jordan said in the video. “Other than to Kobe Bryant because he steals all of my moves.”

Talk about your backhanded compliments. And complete and utter truths.

When watching Kobe, you often see a spitting image of Jordan. Their offensive games are eerily similar in makeup, sometimes right down to the number of dribbles they would take before a particular shot.

Recognizing Kobe as a worthy adversary attests to Jordan’s respect of the Black Mamba. It’s also a not-so-subtle way of MJ saying his moves are so effective that not even he himself can defend them. Or that he relishes at looking in a mirror.

But this is also about LeBron, and Jordan snubbing him. Again.

Asked by NBA TV’s Ahmad Rashad last season about which of the two, Kobe or LeBron, had the better career, Jordan rolled with Kobe.

“And not that he won’t get five,” Jordan told Rashad of LeBron at the time, via the South Florida Sun Sentinel’s Ira Winderman. “He may get more than that, but five is bigger than one.”

LeBron has since won a second ring, but five is still bigger than two.

Yet this isn’t Jordan’s version of a malicious slight. The Chosen One wasn’t alone in falling behind Kobe in Jordan’s hypothetical world of one-on-one matchups; there were other great players Jordan’s ego thumped.

Personally, I’d roll with LeBron over Jordan in any one-on-one contest. Kobe might be a tough cover for MJ, but LeBron is bigger and stronger than both the Mamba and Jordan.

LeBron’s also now clad with the motivation that comes with Jordan continuing to favor Kobe over himself. In his never-ending quest to become the greatest player ever, a galvanized LeBron scares me.

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