September 12, 2013
Special to the NNPA from the Atlanta Daily World
Atlanta’s own multimedia personality Rashan Ali will begin her stint as a sideline reporter for CBS Sports this fall.
As the 2013 college football season gets into full swing, the network has tapped Ali, best known to Atlantans for her presence on the city’s morning radio airwaves, to provide sports commentary from the sidelines of college football games that will air this fall nationally on the CBS Sports Network. Games featured will include long-time, exciting rivalries like Fordham University vs. LeHigh University and Southern Miss vs. Marshall.
Ali worked as a Sports Reporter while at HOT 107.9 in Atlanta and was invited to become a sideline reporter for the NBA’s Atlanta Hawks, which she did for four years. In 2009, Ali became one of few African American women providing sports commentary on a national scale as a reporter for the Chic-Fil-A Bowl Preview Show, which aired on ESPN 2 and ESPN U. She continued her work as the Social Media Correspondent during the 2010 & 2011 NBA Playoffs on NBA TV’s NBA Gametime Live, where she worked with analysts like Eric Snow and Chris Webber.
Most recently, Ali has been active on the HBCU (Historically Black Colleges and Universities) football Classic circuit, providing live reporting from the inaugural Nation’s Classic, which featured Howard University vs. Morehouse College in Washington, DC and the Atlanta Football Classic, which featured Southern University against her alma mater Florida A&M University. She was also a sideline reporter for Southern Conference Football during the 2011-2012 season.
“Covering college football on a major network is such an honor. I have always loved the essence of college football so to be on the sideline in this capacity is truly a dream come true,” said Ali. “There are some great teams being featured on the network that I’ve continued to follow over the years, so having the opportunity to work with their coaching staffs and players is monumental.”
In addition to her career as a sports commentator, Ali is also the host of the “Streetz Morning Grind” radio show on Streetz 94.5 FM in Atlanta, where she will continue to be featured weekdays from 6 am – 10 am. She will also continue her work with Sporty Girls, Inc., an Atlanta-based non-profit organization she founded that exposes girls ages 8 – 18 to nontraditional sports like golf, soccer, tennis and swimming to help them improve social skills and academic performance while increasing their chances for collegiate scholarships.
NEW YORK -- Dennis Rodman is going back to North Korea yet again, and this time he plans to bring a team of former NBA players with him.
Days after returning from his second trip to visit Kim Jong Un -- in which he said he became the first foreigner to hold the leader's newborn daughter -- Rodman announced plans Monday to stage two exhibition games in North Korea in January.
The first will be Jan. 8 -- Kim's birthday -- with another to follow two days later.
Rodman's friendship with the autocratic leader has been criticized -- and led to a couple of testy exchanges during his Manhattan news conference. But Rodman insists Kim is a good person and wants to have better relations with the United States, and that Rodman is the one who can help make it happen with his plan for "basketball diplomacy."
"Why North Korea? It'll open doors," Rodman said.
Touting his friendship with Kim and taunting President Barack Obama for not talking with him, Rodman said he will return to North Korea for a week in December to help select local players for the games. He hopes to have stars such as Karl Malone and former Chicago Bulls teammate Scottie Pippen.
"Michael Jordan, he won't do it, because he's Michael Jordan," Rodman said.
Rodman, holding a cigar and wearing the shirt of a vodka company and a hat of a betting company that is funding the event, said Kim has asked him to train North Korea's players to compete in the 2016 Summer Olympics and offered to allow the Hall of Famer to write a book about him.
Despite looking like a billboard, Rodman said he's not doing the event for money. He said the Irish betting company Paddy Power would put up $3.5 million. Paddy Power later said finances hadn't been determined.
And Rodman, who joked that he hadn't drawn such a crowd in New York since he wore a wedding dress to a book signing, was adamant that this venture was serious -- "groundbreaking," in Rodman's words.
"People think this is a gimmick. I would love to make this a gimmick ... but it's not about the money," he said.
He rarely referred to Kim by name, frequently calling him "the marshal." Rodman met Kim, a basketball fan, when traveling to North Korea in February for a film project.
Though saying he didn't want to discuss politics, Rodman raised his voice when answering a questioner about Kim's human rights record, and he portrayed himself as the person who could make outsiders see the young leader as different from his father and grandfather.
"He has to do his job, but he's a very good guy," Rodman said. "If he wanted to bomb anybody in the world, he would have done it."
Instead, Rodman had harder words for Obama, of whom he spoke angrily while talking to reporters last week after his trip. He talked around a question about American citizen and Christian missionary Kenneth Bae, who was arrested in November and sentenced to 15 years of hard labor for what Pyongyang described as hostile acts against the state. Kim has the power to grant special pardons under North Korea's constitution.
Rodman said lobbying for the release of a prisoner wasn't his job, blaming the president for not reaching out to ease tensions between the countries.
"Why, Obama, are you afraid to talk to Dennis Rodman?" Rodman said, his voice rising as if he were a professional wrestler -- another former pursuit -- calling out an opponent. "You're not afraid to talk to Beyonce and Jay Z, why not me? Why not me? I'm pretty important now, right?"
Rodman also said he would interview Kim on live TV during the trip. Organizers said details would be provided at a later date.
September 05, 2013
By RAF CASERT
AP Sports Writer
BRUSSELS — Usain Bolt plans to retire after the 2016 Rio de Janeiro Olympics.
Bolt said Wednesday he wants to win more gold in Rio, set another world record in the 200 meters next year, and perhaps win a gold medal at the Commonwealth Games.
“So far, (it) is after the Olympics in Rio,” Bolt said of his retirement plans. “I think if I am in great shape, I’ll go there and do what I have to do. I think it will be a good time to retire on top.”
Winning another three golds in Moscow last month made him the most decorated athlete in world championship history with eight gold and two silvers. He has six gold medals from the Olympics.
“If I want to be among the greats of (Muhammad) Ali and Pele and all these guys, I have to continue dominating until I retire,” Bolt said ahead of his final race this season in the 100 at Friday’s Van Damme Memorial.
Bolt won the 100, 200 and 4x100 relay at the 2008 Beijing Olympics and at last year’s London Games. He won the same triple at the 2009 worlds before repeating that feat in Moscow last month.
At 27, Bolt has the experience to know that a lax season midway between Olympics can hurt him. In 2010, a soft entry into the year and subsequent injury cost him almost a full season.
“I kind of didn't do much in the offseason and then got injured and had to start from scratch. So this season, I will not make that mistake again,” Bolt said.
Like 2010, next season has no major championships, but Bolt is thinking of new goals for 2014.
He already owns the 100 and 200 world records and shares the 4x100 with his Jamaican teammates. He acknowledges the 100 record of 9.58 seconds will be extremely tough to better, but he hopes to improve on the 19.19 he ran in the 200 in Berlin four years ago.
“I have learned, I have mastered the art of running the turn,” Bolt said of the 200. “So if I can stay injury free and be in good shape, then it is possible for me to definitely go after the world record.”
As a Jamaican, Bolt can compete in the Commonwealth Games, too, something he has yet to do. Next year, the event will be held in Glasgow, Scotland.
“I have never been to Commonwealths and so it is always good to add to your collection of gold medals,” Bolt said.
By Kenneth Miller
Assistant Managing Editor
The forever evolving rags to riches journey of the world’s No. 1 women’s tennis player Serena Williams is beginning to catapult into a sports stratosphere where only the elite athletes of all-time hang out.
After winning her 9th singles championship in 2013, the younger sister of Venus Williams is not just relishing in the soils of her impressive U.S. Open championship, but also bidding to become the greatest female athlete in history.
Don’t trip over your tennis racquets just yet, but after Grand Slam title number 17 to move to within 7 of all-time Margaret Court’s 24, the 31-year old who learned the game on the uneven asphalt courts of Compton is smoothly gliding into rare territory.
From the time she was the No. 1 ranked on the junior United States Tennis Association tour at 10-years old when she blistered competition in rolling to a 46-3 record, Serena Williams loved the taste of winning.
Daddy Richard rolled out the older Venus first, breaking age barriers at 14 on October 31, 1994, but while incubating the gem that was to follow at the same age in 1995.
Now, all grown up and having surpassed Venus in the sibling rivalry and striking the fear of God into ever opponent she faces on any surface, grass, hard-court or clay, it’s time to examine her alongside the greatest female athletes ever.
Keep in mind that Serena is far from being done as a professional tennis player and in addition to enduring a recent life health scare has also had to carry the weight of the murder of her sister Yetunde Price and the divorce of her parents Richard and Oracene.
She has a combined 31 career major championships including doubles competition with sister Venus and four Olympic gold medals, including two singles.
Her lofty credentials include winning 80 percent of her career tournaments, 79 of 99 and on every surface; 34 on hard court; 10 on clay; 6 on grass and 5 on carpet.
Moreover, she has captured the most prestigious Wimbledon and U.S. Open championships five times each.
Oh, by the way she owns a career .500 record against arguably the greatest women’s player of all time Steffi Graf.
She has earned close to $60 million in prize money plus another $30 million endorsements for cool $90 million.
The only argument that anyone can have against Serena as the best female athlete of all time, is that she’s feisty, confident, soulful and sexy –all the more reason fro me to love her.
Many would consider the best female athlete to be Jackie Joyner-Kersee who was the first American to win gold for the long jump and the first woman to earn more than 7,000 points in the seven-event heptathlon. She's ultimately won three golds, a silver and two bronze, making her the most decorated female athlete in Olympic track and field history.
Following Joyner-Kersee would have to be the late Florence Griffith- Joyner, also known as "Flo Jo," who starred at the 1984 Summer Olympics winning a silver medal in the 200-meter run. During the 1988 Summer Olympics in Seoul, South Korea, Griffith-Joyner took home three gold medals and a silver. She still holds world records in the 100 and 200 meters.
Althea Gibson opened the doors for Serena and Venus. Her great talent was in tennis, but in the 1950s, most tournaments were closed to African-Americans. Gibson kept playing until her skills could no longer be denied, and became the first African American to play at Wimbledon.
"I have never regarded myself as a crusader. I don't consciously beat the drums for any cause, not even the negro in the United States," Gibson said of her pioneering efforts.
Wilma Rudolph would certainly have to be in the conversation. Born a sickly child who had to wear a brace on her left leg, Rudolph She overcame her disabilities through physical therapy and hard work, and went on to Rudolph became the first American woman to win three gold medals at a single Olympics in 1960, at the Summer Games in Rome.
Another track and field sensation Allyson Felix earned back-to-back Olympic silver medals at the 2008 Olympic Games in Beijing. She earned her first gold that year, with the women's 4-by-400-meter relay team. Felix became a three-time Olympic gold medalist in 2012; at the 2012 Olympic Games in London, she won two gold medals, in the women's 200 and the 4-by-100-meter relay.
Alice Coachman made history at the 1948 Olympics in London when leapt to a record-breaking height of 5 feet, 6 and 1/8 inches in the high jump finals to become the first Black woman to win an Olympic gold medal, but that alone would not even qualify her as best.
Basketball icon Sheryl Swoopes would have to be in the mix. Swoopes was the first professional basketball player signed by the WNBA and was often referred to as the female Michael Jordan.
Swoopes won three Olympic gold medals and is a multiple WNBA MVP. She is also the first woman to have a Nike shoe named after her.
Another hoop star Teresa Edwards won four Olympic gold medals (1984, 1988, 1996, 2000) – an Olympic record -- and a bronze medal (1992). Edwards also won the USA Basketball Player of the Year in 1987 and 1991.
Cheryl Miller’s achievements on the basketball court are undeniable. She was a four-time All-American, and she also won three Naismith Player of the Year trophies while at USC.
However, Lisa Leslie-Lockwood is probably considered the best basketball player ever.
Leslie-Lockwood was a three-time WNBA MVP and a four-time Olympic gold medal winner. She was considered a pioneer and cornerstone of the league during her WNBA career. In 2011, she was voted in by fans as one of the Top 15 players in WNBA history.
Billy Jean King won a wealth of Grand Slam titles in singles tournaments, doubles tournaments, and even occasionally in tournaments that she didn’t even attend, but it doubtful she could beat Serena.
Let the debating begin, but in the meantime I consider it Serena-Love!
By BOB BAUM
PHOENIX (AP) — The Phoenix Suns and Michael Beasley have reached an agreement to terminate the contract of the troubled forward.
The move on Tuesday will cost the franchise $7 million, a $2 million savings from what Beasley would have been due had he simply been waived. It also represents a significant reduction in what the hit on the team’s salary cap would have been.
Beasley was arrested a month ago in suburban Scottsdale on charges of felony marijuana possession and possession of drug paraphernalia. It was the latest in a series of incidents involving the drug that has plagued his NBA career after he was selected as the No. 2 overall draft pick out of Kansas State in 2008.
“The Suns were devoted to Michael Beasley’s success in Phoenix,” Suns President for Basketball Operations Lon Babby said in a statement released by the team. “However, it is essential that we demand the highest standards of personal and professional conduct as we develop a championship culture.
“Today’s action reflects our commitment to those standards.”
The Suns took a chance on Beasley despite his history of off-the-court problems.
In June 2011, Beasley was ticketed for marijuana possession and speeding in a Minneapolis suburb. He has acknowledged that while he was with the Miami Heat, he twice violated the NBA’s drug policy and entered a treatment facility in 2009.
But at the news conference announcing his signing of a three-year, $18 million contract with Phoenix, Beasley vowed that his marijuana days were over.
“I realize 10 minutes of feeling good is not really worth putting my life and my career and my legacy in jeopardy,” he said then, “so I’m confident to say that that part of my career, that part of my life, is over and won’t be coming back.”
But early on Aug. 6, his Mercedes was pulled over for a traffic stop and a Scottsdale officer said he smelled marijuana. Police said they found three marijuana cigarettes in the car Beasley was driving.
Lance Blanks was Suns general manager when Beasley was signed and enthusiastically supported the acquisition. Blanks was fired at the end of last season and replaced by Ryan McDonough, who hired new coach Jeff Hornacek and has overseen a wholesale change in the roster after the Suns compiled the worst record in the Western Conference and second-worst in franchise history.
“We have high standards for all of our players,” McDonough said. “We expect them to represent the team and the community in a positive manner both on and off the court.”
On the court, Beasley’s one season with the Suns was a disappointing one. He averaged career lows of 10.1 points and 3.8 rebounds in 75 games while shooting a career-worst 40.5 percent from the field.
Beasley’s agent, Jeff Schwartz, did not respond to email or phone requests for comment. Beasley, 24, has played five seasons in the NBA, two with Miami, two with Minnesota and one with Phoenix. He is averaging 14.1 points per game for his career.
The Suns’ recent trade of Caron Butler to Milwaukee created $6 million in salary cap room to soften the financial blow to the Suns.
“The timing and nature of this, and all our transactions,” Babby said, “are based on the judgment of our basketball leadership as to how best to achieve our singular goal of rebuilding an elite team.”
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