April 18, 2013

By NOAH TRISTER (AP Sports Writer)

 

ANN ARBOR, Mich. (AP) -- Tim Hardaway Jr. is moving on to the next challenge, well aware that he'll still need to prove himself if he's going to follow his father's footsteps in the NBA.

''Everybody's going in there with the same mindset,'' Hardaway said. ''There's no leeway.''

Hardaway announced Wednesday that he'll forgo his senior season at Michigan and enter the NBA draft. He's the second Wolverine to declare early for this year's draft - national player of the year Trey Burke announced his departure Sunday.

Burke could be one of the top players taken, but Hardaway's status is less clear. The 6-foot-6 guard started all 107 games he played during his three-year career with the Wolverines, but he's projected as a second-round pick by DraftExpress.

Players can seek input from an NBA draft advisory committee before leaving school, but Hardaway said the final choice was one he had to make himself.

''This was my decision. It wasn't about the advisory committee, it was about my decision and what I wanted to do,'' Hardaway said. ''I obviously had input from my coaches and my father, but it was my decision and they were behind me 100 percent.''

Hardaway's father played in the NBA from 1989-2003. The younger Hardaway, who is 6 inches taller, averaged 14.5 points in his final season at Michigan, helping the Wolverines reach the Final Four for the first time since 1993. Michigan lost to Louisville in the championship game.

''Really happy for Tim today, because Tim has really wrestled with this decision for a while,'' coach John Beilein said. ''He's gained a lot of information - as you well know, pretty well connected to the NBA, understands the competitive level of the NBA, how hard you have to work.''

There's been no announcement yet on the futures of Mitch McGary and Glenn Robinson III, two talented freshmen who could also leave Michigan for the draft.

Hardaway made an immediate impact as a freshman at Michigan, and although his 3-point shooting dipped to 28.3 percent as a sophomore, it improved to a career-best 37.4 percent this season.

As a junior, Hardaway was something of an elder statesman on a team that relied heavily on him, sophomore Burke and several freshmen.

Now, Hardaway is eager to see where he stands at the professional level.

''You dream about this moment since you were a kid,'' Hardaway said. ''My dad and my coaching staff put me in the right position, and all this comes from my mom. My mom has done a great job of just keeping me level-headed, raising me the right way and making sure that I respect others.''

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April 18, 2013

By Kenya Vaughn

Special to the NNPA from the St. Louis American

 

If there were ever a true story that could hold the attention of an audience for nearly two hours without an intermission, it would be that of boxing icon-turned punch line-turned-professional entertainer Mike Tyson.

Since he became a pop culture phenomenon nearly 30 years ago, he has gone from the pinnacle to the pits and back again as the world watched. Last year he decided to give his side of the story in front of an audience – while forging a new career path outside of the ring. And Over the weekend Mike Tyson: Undis­puted Truth made its way to St. Louis for a one-night run at the Peabody Opera House.

Written by his wife Kiki Tyson and directed by Spike Lee, Tyson took the crowd – which obviously consisted mostly of diehard fans – on a journey that starts with his birth at a hospital in Brownsville, Brooklyn and a boxing career that began when he was barely a teenager.

Through his narrative, they learn the explicit details of what most of the audience already knew – that Tyson was forced to grow up harsh, and in a hurry.

What they may not have known – or expected – is that Tyson is able to look back at most of his experiences and laugh now that the lessons have finally soaked in.

Mike Tyson: Undisputed Truth was filled with profanity and styled in the likes of urban comedy circuit bits that use laughter as medicine for real-life pain. Not even his birth certificate was safe as he pondered who the man whose last name he bears – a man who Tyson says is by no means his father.

At its best moments the production is charming and forges an even deeper connection with the audience that curiously waited to see what Tyson would expose during his portrayal of himself as his own past and present.

He shamelessly turned the punch lines around on himself and others ­forever tied to Tyson’s tumultuous cautionary tale – like Robin Givens, her mother and former boyfriend Brad Pitt, Don King and his accuser Desiree Washington. And he fearlessly embraced unlikely elements of the show – including choreographed moments that ranged from ballet, to booty popping and roundhouse kicks – one couldn’t help but root for Tyson as he appeared to have come full circle from the raging boxing machine he was once believed to be.

The show was not without its weak links, however. Most notably was Tyson’s inability to slow down and lean into the story he was telling. Plenty of moments within the play felt rushed and stumbled over as Tyson struggled to fight distraction – and nerves – throughout the performance.

Another shortcoming of the show was the story itself. What could have been a streamlined transcendence from tragedy to triumph was poorly transitioned and disproportionate with respect to the ostentatious elements of Tyson’s life experiences.

For example, an after-hours street brawl with mouthy fighter Mitch Green was given more attention to detail than the moment in which Tyson became the youngest heavyweight champion in the history of boxing.

His run ins with the law, short stay in a mental hospital and his rehab visit were giving higher billing than the spiritual enlightenment and life makeover that would ultimately give him the strength and courage to publicly combat his demons on stage – and learn not to take himself too seriously.

A more balanced approach to his experiences that showcase his personal growth – would have been a welcomed addition, and more accurate portrayal of Tyson’s truth.

But even in the monologues lopsided with humor at Tyson’s expense, viewers were at least exposed to his dedication to upholding the legacy of his mentor and father figure Cus D’Amato, and honoring his family (and the memory of his mother, sister and daughter Exodus) by way of his choices in the next phase of his life.

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April 18, 2013

By Kenneth D. Miller

LAWT Asst. Managing Editor

 

‘42’

Born January 31, 1919, in Cairo, Georgia, Jackie Robinson was the first African-American to play major league baseball. Throughout his decade-long career with the Brooklyn Dodgers, he made advancements in the cause of civil rights for black athletes. In 1955, he helped the Dodgers win the World Series. He retired in 1957, with a career batting average of .311

 

‘41’

The youngest of five children, Robinson was raised in relative poverty by a single mother.

 

‘40’

He attended John Muir High School and Pasadena Junior College, where he was an excellent athlete and played four sports: football, basketball, track, and baseball. He was named the region's Most Valuable Player in baseball in 1938.

 

‘39’

Robinson's older brother, Matthew Robinson, inspired Jackie to pursue his talent and love for athletics. Matthew won a silver medal in the 200-meter dash—just behind Jesse Owens—at the 1936 Olympic Games in Berlin.

 

‘38’

Jackie continued his education at the University of California, Los Angeles, where he became the university's first student to win varsity letters in four sports.

 

‘36’

 In 1941, despite his athletic success, Robinson was forced to leave UCLA just shy of graduation due to financial hardship.

 

‘35’

He moved to Honolulu, Hawaii, where he played football for the semi-professional Honolulu Bears.

 

‘34’

His season with the Bears was cut short when the United States entered into World War II.

 

‘33’

From 1942 to 1944, Robinson served as a second lieutenant in the United States Army.

 

‘32’

He never saw combat, however; Robinson was arrested and court-martialed during boot camp after he refused to move to the back of a segregated bus during training.

 

‘30’

He was later acquitted of the charges and received an honorable discharge.

 

‘29’

His courage and moral objection to segregation were precursors to the impact Robinson would have in major league baseball.

 

‘28’

After his discharge from the Army in 1944, Robinson began to play baseball professionally.

‘27’

At the time, the sport was segregated, and African-Americans and whites played in separate leagues.

 

‘26’

Robinson began playing in the Negro Leagues.

 

‘25’

He was soon chosen by Branch Rickey, president of the Brooklyn Dodgers, to help integrate major league baseball.

 

‘24’

He joined the all-white Montreal Royals, a farm team for the Brooklyn Dodgers, in 1946.

 

‘23’

He later moved to Florida to begin spring training with the Royals.

 

‘22’

Jackie Robinson his first game in Ebbets Field for the Brooklyn Dodgers on April 15, 1947.

 

‘21’

Rickey knew there would be difficult times ahead for the young athlete, and made Robinson promise to not fight back when confronted with racism.

 

‘20’

From the beginning of his career with the Dodgers, Robinson's will was tested.

 

‘19’

Even some of his own teammates objected to having an African-American on their team.

 

‘18’

People in the crowds sometimes jeered at Robinson, and he and his family received threats.

 

‘17’

Despite the racial abuse, particularly at away games, Robinson had an outstanding start with the Royals, leading the International League with a .349 batting average and .985 fielding percentage.

 

‘16’

His excellent year led to his promotion to the Dodgers.

 

‘15’

April 15, 1947, marked the first time an African-American athlete played in the major leagues.

 

‘14’

The harassment continued, however.

 

‘13’

Philadelphia Phillies and their manager Ben Chapman, during one infamous game, Chapman and his team shouted derogatory terms at Robinson from their dugout.

 

‘12’

Many players on opposing teams threatened not to play against the Dodgers.

 

‘10’

Even his own teammates threatened to sit out. But Dodgers manager Leo Durocher informed them that he would sooner trade them than Robinson.

 

‘9’

Leo Durocher’s loyalty to Jackie set the tone for the rest of Robinson's career with the team.

 

‘8’

Others defended Jackie Robinson's right to play in the major leagues, including League President Ford Frick, Baseball Commissioner Happy Chandler, Jewish baseball star Hank Greenberg and Dodgers shortstop and team captain Pee Wee Reese.

 

‘7’

Jackie Robinson succeeded in putting the prejudice and racial strife aside, and showed everyone what a talented player he was. In his first year, he hit 12 home runs and helped the Dodgers win the National League pennant.

 

‘6’

That year, Robinson led the National League in stolen bases and was selected as Rookie of the Year. He continued to wow fans and critics alike with impressive feats, such as an outstanding .342 batting average during the 1949 season. He led in stolen bases that year and earned the National League's Most Valuable Player Award.

 

‘5’

Robinson soon became a hero of the sport, even among former critics, and was the subject for the popular song, "Did You See Jackie Robinson Hit That Ball?"

 

‘4’

An exceptional base runner, Robinson stole home 19 times in his career, setting a league record.

 

‘3’

He also became the highest-paid athlete in Dodgers history, and his success in the major leagues opened the door for other African-American players, such as Satchel Paige, Willie Mays, and Hank Aaron.

 

‘2’

Robinson also became a vocal champion for African-American athletes, civil rights, and other social and political causes. In July 1949, he testified on discrimination before the House Un-American Activities Committee. In 1952, he publicly called out the Yankees as a racist organization for not having broken the color barrier five years after he began playing with the Dodgers.

 

‘1’

Robinson has also been recognized outside of baseball. In December 1956, the NAACP recognized him with the Spingarn Medal, which it awards annually for the highest achievement by an African-American. President Ronald Reagan posthumously awarded Robinson the Presidential Medal of Freedom on March 26, 1984 and on March 2, 2005, President George W. Bush gave Robinson's widow Rachel Robinson the Congressional Gold Medal, the highest civilian award bestowed by Congress; Robinson was only the second baseball player to receive the award, after Roberto Clemente. On August 20, 2007, California Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger and his wife, Maria Shriver, announced that Robinson was inducted into the California Hall of Fame, located at The California Museum for History, Women and the Arts in Sacramento.

 

A number of buildings have been named in Robinson's honor. The UCLA Bruins baseball team plays in Jackie Robinson Stadium, which, because of the efforts of Jackie's brother Mack, features a memorial statue of Robinson by sculptor Richard H. Ellis. The stadium also unveiled a new mural of Robinson by Mike Sullivan on April 14, 2013. City Island Ballpark in Daytona Beach, Florida was renamed Jackie Robinson Ballpark in 1990 and a statue of Robinson with two children stands in front of the ballpark. His wife Rachel was present for the dedication.

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April 18, 2013

By ANNE M. PETERSON

AP Sports Writer

 

PORTLAND, Ore. (AP) -- Golden State's Stephen Curry set a record for 3-pointers in a season when he hit his 270th in the second quarter of the Warriors' game Wednesday night against the Trail Blazers.

The shot with 6:49 left in the half put Curry in front of Ray Allen's mark of 269 set in 2005-06.

He made 16 3-pointers in the previous two games to close within one of Allen's record set with the Seattle SuperSonics. Curry hit his first 3 of the night with 6:55 to go in the first quarter.

Golden State's bench jumped to cheer following the record-breaking shot, and a group of Warriors fans behind the team's bench at the Rose Garden gave Curry an extended standing ovation.

His dad, Dell Curry, was a teammate of Allen's in Milwaukee during the 1998-99 season - when the elder Curry shot a career-best 47.6 percent from 3-point range while making 69 from beyond the arc.

The younger Curry and second-year shooting guard Klay Thompson went into the game with 474 combined 3-pointers, shattering the previous NBA record of 435 by Dennis Scott and Nick Anderson for the most by any tandem. Curry and Thompson added two apiece in the first half against the Blazers.

The Warriors drafted Curry seventh overall in 2009. After a sensational rookie season, Curry was hit by injuries, spending the past two summers recovering from surgery on his right ankle.

Healthy for most of this season, Curry came into the game against the Blazers averaging nearly 3.5 3-pointers.

He has been at his best this season in big games. He scored a career-high 54 points in a loss to the Knicks at Madison Square Garden on Feb. 27. He also had 47 points in a loss at the Lakers last Friday.

''The one thing I know about Steph Curry - he's not afraid when the lights are brightest,'' Warriors coach Mark Jackson said.

Following the record-breaking shot, Jackson sat Curry for the rest of the half.

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April 18, 2013

By DOUG FEINBERG

AP Basketball Writer

 

BRISTOL, Conn. (AP) – Brittney Griner is ready for a new challenge.

After dominating women’s college basketball for the past four years, Griner will head to Phoenix. The Mercury took the two-time AP Player of the Year with the top pick in the WNBA draft Monday night.

The city welcomed her with a giant billboard and renamed a street near the arena.

Griner admitted she was nervous before the draft despite knowing she was going to be taken first.

“I thought I was going to have a heart attack at the table,” she said.

Griner is excited about getting the chance to play with Diana Taurasi and the other talented players on the Mercury.

“I’m bringing the dunking element of my game to Phoenix,” Griner said. “Everyone would love to see Dee throw that alley-oop, I catch it and slam it. The high energy I bring to the table.”

Mercury coach Corey Gaines said it took about a second for the team to decide on their choice.

“I think with the talent we have already, and it’s not going to be all forced on her to do everything, it makes her even more of a game changer because there’s no pressure on her, she can just do the things that she does naturally – rebound, block shots, putbacks and then as it goes on, she’ll learn more,” Gaines said.

The 6-foot-8 star finished as the second all-time scorer in women’s NCAA history, with 3,283 points. She owns the shot block record, shattering both the men’s and women’s college marks with 748. She also had a record 18 dunks - including 11 this season.

WNBA President Laurel Richie opened the draft by offering the league’s thoughts and prayers to those affected by the bombings in Boston. She said earlier in the evening that the WNBA had discussions whether to hold the draft before deciding to go ahead with it.

Soon after the draft started, she announced Griner as the first choice.

Griner joins a very talented Mercury squad that was plagued by injuries most of last season. Taurasi played in only eight games and Penny Taylor missed the entire year while recovering from an ACL injury. Candice Dupree also missed 21 games because of a knee injury.

“I’m ready to get there and ready to learn from (Taurasi),” Griner said. “I got to play with her a little bit at USA Basketball. I’m ready to feed off her and give all I can to the Phoenix Mercury.”

Phoenix had the second-worst record and a 28 percent chance of getting the first pick. Washington, which had the worst record in the league, picked fourth.

“We have a team of All-Stars already,” Phoenix Mercury President Amber Cox said. “To add her to the mix solidifies us for a long time. When Phoenix comes to town it will be must-see basketball.”

The Mercury have had the first pick in the draft two other times, including when they took Taurasi in 2004.

It was an eventful day for Griner. Not only was she the top pick, but she bumped into her skateboarding idol, Tony Hawk, who was also at ESPN.

“Getting drafted being the No. 1 overall pick that was above it, but Tony’s right there at No. 2,” Griner said.

Like Phoenix, Chicago added a budding star to an already stacked roster that just missed making the playoffs last season, taking Elena Delle Donne with the No. 2 pick. The 6-foot-5 forward, who can play multiple positions, was second in the nation in scoring (26.0) and averaged 8.5 rebounds. She finished her career at Delaware with 3,039 career points – fifth all-time in NCAA history.

“This is a phenomenal team I’m joining, mentors who will help me out along the way,” Delle Donne said. “I’ll learn a ton from these players. We definitely have a great team. I felt I was a good puzzle piece for this team. You don’t say where you want to go before it was happening, but Chicago was my pick and I wanted to go there really badly.”

Tulsa took Notre Dame guard Skylar Diggins with the third pick. Diggins averaged 17.1 points, 6.1 assists and 3.1 steals while helping the Irish reach the Final Four the past three seasons.

“When I entered Notre Dame we had lost in the first round of the tournament the year before,” Diggins said. “At the end of my career we had brought the program back to an elite level. I’m looking forward to get to Tulsa and show my leadership skills.”

While the first three picks were almost a lock, the rest of the draft was a bit more of a mystery with no clear-cut choices going in.

Washington took Ohio State guard Tayler Hill fourth.

“I didn’t know for sure,” Hill said. “I talked to a few WNBA coaches. I talked to coach (Mike) Thibault a few times and he was excited about me. I’m excited, really a feeling you can't explain.”

The New York Liberty and new coach Bill Laimbeer took Texas A&M's Kelsey Bone fifth and then two picks later drafted Oklahoma State’s Toni Young. Seattle, which will be without Lauren Jackson and Sue Bird this season because of injuries, took Maryland’s Tianna Hawkins in between the Liberty picks.

San Antonio took Syracuse center Kayla Alexander eighth, Cal’s Layshia Clarendon went ninth to Indiana. Los Angeles took Kentucky’s A’dia Mathies 10th. Connecticut drafted UConn forward Kelly Faris 11th and Minnesota closed out the first round by picking Nebraska’s Lindsey Moore.

“There’s no question that this draft class has potential to be a moment in time and we’ll look back 10, 20 years and remember that class that came in with Brittney, Skylar and Elena,” Richie said. “Having spent the last two days with a couple of the other prospects there are a couple surprises in there too.”

This was the first season that the draft was televised in prime time.

Training camps open May 5, with the league’s 17th season set to being on May 24.

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