And by the above headline, I mean a 4 year love affair between CSTB and Austin’s entry in the NBA Development League. Tonight’s poorly attended home opener would’ve otherwise been notable for the regular season pro debut of Bill Walker (above, 23 points, 8 rebounds), who led Utah to a 93-91 defeat of Quin Snyder’s Toros. Rather than Walker’s performance or an OT buzzer beater from fellow Celtics hopeful JR Giddens, I’m unfortunately gonna focus on the participation of local radio sponsor Hot 93.3, who presumably employed some moron to slap a sticker advertising their station on the back of my jacket.
Spray painting “please punch me in the face” across my shoulder blades would’ve been more subtle, but if this wasn’t bad enough, the incessant ramblings of compere-for-the-night D-Train (above, left) were the real ambience killer. The pinhead in question actually refers to himself as “the P. Diddy of Austin”, and considering Sean Combs’ history of basketball related fatalities, perhaps this should’ve given the Spurs front office pause before inviting him to the Convention Center. Toros games remain a great value — a cheap seat is only a couple of bucks more than going to see “Transporter 3″, but I would gladly shell out another 4 or 5 dollars for a guarantee I’d never have to hear D-Bag D-Train ever again.
“I used to enjoy playing and scoring,” Memphis’ Darko Milicic tells the Commercial-Appeal’s Ronald Tillery, bemoaning his current state, pigeonholed as a defensive specialist. “This isn’t the way I want to finish my career.”
Milicic, who will be a 2010 free agent, could return to Europe.
“I lot of days I think that,” Milicic said, “because the only way to be me is in Europe. I don’t want to be a defensive player the rest of my career. It’s not really what I want to do.”
Milicic lost the starting job this season to rookie Spaniard Marc Gasol, partly based on his offensive inconsistency.
“In Europe, I can be a different player with the ball going through me,” Milicic said. “Here, you take a shot and you just don’t want to miss. You think too much.
“I want to get my confidence back on the offensive end. I want the ball to go through me so I can have a chance to miss without worrying about it. And I want a chance to make plays. (Europe) has good basketball, and it would be closer to home.”
Finishing at the rim isn’t always Milicic’s strong suit because he tends to play with finesse around the rim instead of dunking with authority. His shooting touch from beyond the foul line comes and goes, too.
“And he’s got to make his free throws,” Iavaroni said. “People are going to foul him. Finishing and making free throws is a big part of being a center. We’ll get back to (having the ball go through Milicic) when I see the focus and efficiency on offense.”
Milicic’s status as the no.2 overall pick in ’03 ahead of Carmelo Anthony, D-Wade and Chris Bosh means anything less than NBA stardom will have him forever characterized as a bust, perhaps unfairly. And while we’ll never know exactly how much Larry Brown is to blame for stunting Darko’s development, the underachieving center probably would’ve been better off playing professionally for a few years in Europe prior to landing stateside.
Among the first in the Best Buy store in Florence was not a typical customer. Bengals wide receiver Chad Ocho Cinco, aka Chad Johnson, arrived early to get some bargains. Ocho Cinco acknowledged his benching last week for being late to a team meeting.
“I was bad last week. Sleepy,” he said. He said he was in the store to buy coach Marvin Lewis a gift.
Seen later with a Rock Band kit, portable stereo and a Cuisinart four-slice toaster, Ocho Cinco said, “I’ve been trying to call coach, but he doesn’t answer.”
It was 5:25 a.m.
Given what we learned about his naps last week, the question is did Chad stay up all night, or wake up early? And does Marvin really need a toaster?
The University of Tennessee has agreed in principle with Lane Kiffin to become the Vols’ next head football coach, a well-placed source within the program has told the News Sentinel.
Kiffin will replace Phillip Fulmer who was forced to step down Nov. 3. Fulmer’s last game as head coach will be Saturday against Kentucky at Neyland Stadium. As recently as Wednesday, UT athletics director Mike Hamilton denied reports that he had offered Kiffin the job.
Kiffin, 33, was fired by the Oakland Raiders on Oct. 1 after compiling a 5-15 record in one-and-a-half seasons. His 2007 salary was $2 million.
He was an assistant at Fresno State from 1997-98 and Southern Cal from 2001-04; offensiver coordinator at Southern Call from 2005-06.
“The Atlanta Braves should sign free agent starting pitcher C.C. Sabathia because he™s a great pitcher,” proposes Dugout Central‘s Kenny Doyle, “and because he™s black.” There goes what little was left of Kris Benson’s bargaining power, ladies and gentlemen (link culled from Repoz and Baseball Think Factory).
Sabathia would give Atlanta the first long-term, larger than life African American baseball talent in over a decade. The economic and marketing impact of that should not be underestimated. Atlanta is a city that is 56% black within the city limits and 31% black within the metro area. The Michael Vick experience with the NFL™s Atlanta Falcons showed the importance of having a black superstar in Atlanta. The Georgia Dome was sold out for five years when Vick was a starter after years of television blackouts due to a lack of home attendance.
It™s no coincidence that the Braves were never more popular and financially competitive than between 1991 and 1997, when they had strong African American talent and personalities like Fred McGriff, David Justice, Marquis Grissom, Ron Gant, Terry Pendleton, Deion Sanders, Otis Nixon, Jermaine Dye and Kenny Lofton. For some reason or reasons, which we can only speculate upon here, these players were never replaced with other African American stars.
Gary Sheffield was briefly a Brave earlier this decade. Sheffield, however, was always seen as nothing more than a hired gun who would leave as soon as he could for the highest bidder. Folks therefore didn™t buy into Sheffield as much as they otherwise may have. And since Sheffield left five years ago, they haven™t had any African American players of note. Folks aren™t knocking down the gates to witness the likes of Willie Harris, Brandon Jones, Charles Thomas, DeWayne Wise, a washed up Brian Jordan or Daryle Ward.
The sad end of the Vick experience laid bare for all to see how delicately Atlanta teams must treat the departure of popular black stars for fear of alienating the African American community and causing revenue, attendance and fan base erosion. Many believe the Braves haven™t fully recovered financially since the trade of the beloved David Justice during 1996. At the time of that trade, the Braves had the highest payroll in the entire major leagues. It seems negligent for a team in a largely African American town not to have an African American star or two, doesn™t it?
Let’s not forget the Braves’ salad days also coincided with a whiter-than-Skrewdriver starting rotation of Avery, Smoltz, Maddux and Glavine. There’s all sorts of reasons for fan base erosion, and while there might be a racial component, higher ticket prices at a new ballpark could well be a factor, along with, y’know, failing to contend of late. If Sabathia can do for the Braves what he did for the Brewers last season, Atlanta stands to sell tickets to persons of all colors. If CC comes back to earth in a non-contract year, however, it’s hard to imagine African Americans or any other segment of the local population being more enthused about the Braves than they are already.
What exactly, does it mean for the New York Knicks to suspend Stephon Marbury for one game, given that he’s not played one minute of the ’08′-’09 season? ESPN’s Chris Sheridan writes the move will save the club a whopping $189,460 from Marbury’s nearly $21 million annual salary, but the truculent PG insists he’s being set up, saying of head coach Mike D’Antoni, “I wouldn’t trust him to walk my dog across the street.” From the New York Post’s Marc Berman :
“If you say I gotta play, I’m going to play,” Marbury said. “If he said I have to play, guess what, I’m going to get on the court and play, period. If I refuse to play, I’m getting suspended. I never told him I’m not going to play. Those words never came out of my mouth. That’s insubordination.”
“I didn’t create this,” Marbury said. “I’m sitting inside the car. I’m not behind the wheel in the driver’s seat. I have no control of the wheel of the car, if we’re turning or going straight. I’m sitting in the backseat. He’s not going to play me because my heart isn’t in it, because the way he treated me. That’s on him, not me.”
Marbury also did not believe D’Antoni’s expressed intention of starting him the rest of the season was sincere.
“They want to take my money,” Marbury said. “I’m not going to let them.”
Marbury is further bitter that, two days before the season opener, D’Antoni told Quentin Richardson, the team captain, that Marbury was not going to play versus Miami – but the coach didn’t tell Marbury.
According to Marbury, Richardson told his teammates the news. Marbury, who has not played this season, found out his status from a teammate, not from D’Antoni.
“Mike created this from the beginning,” Marbury said. “Why did he create this environment? I came here ready to play, focused, taking on the role I was ready to take on. They said, ‘We don”t want you.’ I’m not in the plans. I said, ‘OK, no problem.’ “
Nick got the part about the Titans scoring at will against Detroit right, though that wasn’t the toughest projection to make. How lopsided was Tennessee’s dispatch of the winless Lions? Vince Young made his first appearance since Week One, deep into garbage time. I’ve got to hand it to Jeff Fisher — there’s no time like a national holiday to humiliate Chris Simms.
I™ll willingly acknowledge that James™ leaving is a distinct possibility. But those words written by Mr. Powell just rip with arrogance. You see, it will only be special if he wins a championship in New York and shake up the NBA in the process. To that statement I have but one question: What™s been special about playing hoops in New York for the past decade. I know the rep of street ball, yadda, yadda and yadda.
But when I think of the NBA™s legacy of the past 30 years I tend to think of Bird, Magic, Kareem, Dr. J and, of course, one Michael Jordan. Removing Dr. J for a moment, the majority of the banners fly in the rafters of arenas in Boston, Los Angeles and Chicago. As a long-suffering Browns™ fan, I understand a city that views itself as the capital of basketball longing for a championship. But in some respects, it sounds as if New Yorkers believe it is a right.
Thomas has a point, though it wasn’t Powell who suggested James might someday wanna be the World’s richest human. LeBron’s already achieved global icon status while toiling in Ohio (as did David Thomas!), but this might ultimately be less about NYC marketing advantages and more to do with whatever supporting cast Danny Ferry can surround his megastar with. Much of the rampant James-to-the-Knicks speculation includes endless drooling over who’d play the part of Scottie Pippen to James’ Michael Jordan. I didn’t care for the tone of Powell’s column either, but there’s nothing arrogant about looking over the numbers and concluding the Knicks might have a better shot at recruiting D-Wade, Amare Stoudemire or Chris Bosh in 2010 than the Cavaliers.