October 04, 2012

By NICK PERRY

Associated Press

 

New Zealand canceled a visa for Mike Tyson on Wednesday October 3 because of his rape conviction, saying it reversed its earlier approval because a charity that would have benefited from his appearance says it wants nothing to do with the former heavyweight boxing champion.

Tyson said he had been looking forward to meeting New Zealand’s indigenous Maori people, the inspiration for his notorious facial tattoo. But now his whole Downunder speaking tour, scheduled for next month, is threatening to fall apart: Australian immigration authorities said they’ve yet to decide whether to let him in.

Tyson’s 1992 rape conviction would normally prevent his entry in New Zealand and could be grounds for denial in Australia as well. New Zealand’s denial came days after Prime Minister John Key spoke out against the visit.

Tyson was to speak at a November event in Auckland, the “Day of the Champions,” which is being promoted by Sydney agency Markson Sparks. On Wednesday the agency continued to promote tickets for appearances in New Zealand and five major Australian cities.

New Zealand’s Associate Immi­gration Minister Kate Wilkinson said she initially granted entry because a children’s health charity would get some of the proceeds from Tyson’s speech. She said in a statement her decision was “a finely balanced call” but that the charity that would have benefited, the Life Education Trust, withdrew its support on October 2.

The charity’s chief executive, John O’Connell, however, said the charity long ago decided not to accept any money from the event due to its concerns over Tyson’s character, O'Connell said a volunteer trustee mistakenly sent a letter to immigration authorities supporting Tyson’s plans.

Promoter Max Markson said he’s continuing to sell tickets — at between 69 and 300 Australian dollars ($71 and $308) — and will give refunds if Tyson cannot appear. He said he had been “hoping it might be a smoother run,” but remained confident Australia would grant Tyson a visa and that New Zealand would reverse its decision when he found another suitable charity.

“He’ll only be in the country for 20 hours, I don’t think he’s a danger to anybody, and thousands of people want to see him,” Markson said.

Would-be visitors to Australia normally must pass a character test. Those who have a “substantial criminal record” — including people who, like Tyson, have been sentenced to more than a year in prison — fail the test. But the department can use its discretion to grant such people visas.

Tyson was sentenced to six years in prison for the 1991 rape of an 18-year-old woman in an Indianapolis hotel room. He served three years before being released on parole.

A spokesman for Australia’s Department of Immigration and Citizenship said, “I can tell you that a decision is still pending” on Tyson’s application.

Speaking to the APNZ news agency this week from Las Vegas before his New Zealand visa was canceled, Tyson said his tattoo was inspired by those worn by New Zealand’s indigenous Maori. In pre-European times, many Maori wore elaborate facial tattoos as a sign of their status in their tribe. Some Maori today who identify strongly with their traditional culture get similar tattoos.

Tyson told the agency that, aside from their tattoos, he knew little about the Maori people, “so I’m looking forward to come down there and see them.”

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October 04, 2012

Associated Press

 

Dwyane Wade will not be wearing Jordan Brand sneakers and apparel.

The Miami Heat guard said on Tuesday October 2 that he has parted ways with the brand. His contract expired at the end of September and the sides made what Wade called a mutual decision to not extend the agreement.

Wade said his time with Converse and Jordan has been an “unbelievable nine years.”

Wade made the switch from Converse to Jordan Brand in 2009. Both are owned by Nike Inc.

Wade, who counts Michael Jordan as his idol to this day, said that he still feels “honored to have represented my favorite player of all time and his brand.”

He has not unveiled plans for what shoe he will wear with the reigning NBA champion Heat this season.

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September 27, 2012

By ANTONIO GONZALEZ AP Sports Writer

 

Mark Jackson isn’t making any playoff promises for the Golden State Warriors this season.

Maybe it’s a lesson learned for the point guard, preacher and boisterous broadcaster turned NBA head coach. Or maybe he’s tempering expectations entering his second season considering, well, there actually are expectations with a reshaped roster built around rehabilitating center Andrew Bogut and point guard Stephen Curry.

“I’m not going to say it,” Jackson said this week, “not because I don’t believe it. But ultimately it comes to a point where, enough of the talking, go out and do it.”

That time is almost here.

With training camp beginning next week, Jackson still made it clear that not making the postseason would be a major disappointment. He also recognizes the season outlook — and perhaps his own future — hinges largely on the surgically repaired ankles of Bogut and Curry, who have had repeated problems staying on the court throughout their young careers.

Asked how confident he is both will return to form and stay healthy this season, Jackson quipped: “I hope so. My family certainly hopes so.”

Same goes for Warriors fans who have long waited for a winner.

For a franchise that has made the playoffs once in the last 18 years, talking about the postseason at any time might seem strange, let alone before any exhibitions have been played. Looking at the roster — on paper, anyway — it’s easy to see why the Warriors don’t find that goal so silly.

The Bogut-Curry combo, if healthy, would be teamed with power forward David Lee, second-year shooting guard Klay Thompson and either Brandon Rush or seventh overall pick Harrison Barnes of North Carolina at small forward. Golden State is deeper than in recent years, too, with Jarrett Jack, Carl Landry and Richard Jefferson complementing rookies Draymond Green and Festus Ezeli, who both impressed enough during summer league and off season workouts to be considered rotation players.

Jackson also has had more time to prepare this season than last, when the labor lockout eliminated most of the offseason and training camp — not to mention limiting practice time during the crammed 66-game schedule. Injuries also decimated the roster, which has been quickly reconstructed under new general manager Bob Myers, and that has Jackson more optimistic than anything after going 23-43 last season.

“What makes us better is not the timetable,” Jackson said. “It’s the talent.”

Bogut, the 2005 No. 1 overall pick and best center the franchise has had in at least a decade, fractured his left ankle Jan. 25 with Milwaukee and sat out the rest of the season when he was acquired in a trade for guard Monta Ellis. He isn’t expected to be ready at the start of training camp Tuesday, but Jackson is hopeful Bogut will be in the starting lineup for the regular-season opener at Phoenix on Oct. 31.

Curry, who was medically cleared to resume all basketball-related activities last week, repeatedly sprained his surgically repaired right ankle last season while playing only 26 games. The team said his most recent operation on April 25 was an “exploratory procedure” that “revealed a stable ankle with no structural damage and consisted of cleaning out loose debris and scar tissue.”

Injuries aside, Jackson has been pleased with the progress his team made over the summer.

He said the reason he made the bold playoff prediction when he was hired last year was to “change the culture” of a losing franchise that, despite all its failures, is consistently among the NBA’s top-10 in attendance and whose fans are among the most vocal in the sports saturated Bay Area.

An example of those changes Jackson points to is the noise he hears in the gym, weight room and video room at all hours. Since Labor Day, he said every player has been at Golden State's facility except beleaguered backup center Andris Biedrins, who is owed $9 million this season and has a $9 million player option for 2013-14.

Jackson said he will still give the center every opportunity during training camp, although he won’t discount the effort made by others who showed up voluntarily.

“I think you make a statement by being here,” Jackson said.

One thing Jackson is not concerned about is his image.

An ordained minister who spends his Sundays preaching at the church he and his wife own in Southern California, Jackson and his family were the targets of an extortion attempt related to an extramarital affair he had in six years ago, which became public in June. Jackson said “the process is still going forward” with the investigation.

He said he never addressed the situation with his players, and didn't feel the need to, saying his moral authority as a minister or coach has not been weakened.

“You show who you really are in the face of adversity,” Jackson said. “You own it, and you move forward. This is something (six) years ago. I’ve been who I am before the (six) years. And one owned mishap won't define me. And anybody who wants to define me by that, I’m fine with it. But I’m going to keep it moving, and I’m going to keep on being who God called me to be.”

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September 27, 2012

Associated Press

 

 

 

Former track great Edwin Moses has been voted chair of the U.S. Anti-Doping Agency’s board of directors.

 

USADA said Wednesday that Moses was selected to fill the chair position at the Sept. 13 board meeting. Moses succeeds founding board member Dr. Richard Cohen, who is rotating off the board because of terms limits.

 

Founding board member Dr. Jean Fourcroy and former swimmer Annette Salmeen also are leaving the board because of term limits. Dr. Cheri Blauwet, Robert Raskopf and Dr. Ken Wright are joining the board.

 

 

 

PHOTO:  SP-EdwinMoses.jpg

 

 

 

AP Photo

 

Edwin Moses

 

 

 

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September 27, 2012

By Kenneth Miller

LA Watts Times Staff Writer

 

Candace Parker, arguably the WNBA’s most popular star, is on a unique journey, which will undoubtedly take her to the basketball Hall of Fame. But as the organization’s post season tips on Thursday Sept. 27 she is still in search of her first WNBA crown with the Los Angeles Sparks. Parker is the darling of women’s basketball filling the sneakers left behind by Lisa Leslie and Cheryl Miller, but as the Sparks ready for the San Antonio Silver Stars at the Galen Center at 7p.m. she will be reaching down deep to propel the Sparks to their first championship in 10 years.

 

Championships and becoming the first woman to dunk in an NCAA women’s tournament and the WNBA are the ingredients that have spiced Parker to the level of being the league’s savior.

 

While at Tennessee for three years she led the Lady Vols to consecutive NCAA championships in 2007 and 2008, earning back-to-back Most Outstanding Player awards in the process.

 

While in college she was not only the first woman to dunk in the tourney, but the first to do it twice in a college. Parker is only the second woman behind Leslie to dunk in a WNBA game.

 

A five-tool star, she played guard, forward and center. For basketball novices those are all of the positions on a basketball court.

 

Parker didn’t just excel on the hardwood, she maintained a 3.35 grade point average in the classroom and was a University Division Academic All American.

 

She shares the distinction of being one of only three National Gatorade Players of the Year with Brandon Knight and LeBron James while prepping in Illinois where she was both WBCA All American and McDonalds All American.

 

Twice she was named USA Today Player of the Year in 2003 and 2004 and the Naismith Player of the Year. You get the idea that Candace Parker was pretty special.

 

Imagine what she would have accomplished had she not tore her ACL while a junior.

 

She still managed to become a three-time Illinois Player of the Year where she established school records in points and rebounds with 2,768 and 1,592, respectively.

 

Born and raised near Chicago she grew up adoring the Michael Jordan led Bulls, but her favorite player was Ron Harper.

 

It was her father who taught her how to play, but it didn’t hurt that her brother Anthony Parker was a standout player in his own right and is currently playing in the NBA with the Cleveland Cavaliers.

 

However, it is Parker who right now is the shinning jewel of the family and for the most part, the Los Angeles sports scene with both the Angels and Dodgers on the outside of the playoffs looking in.

 

There could not be a better model and purposeful example for the city and particularly African Americans in a sport that has had its popularity shortchanged by the monopolized NFL, the off season acquisition of Dwight Howard, Magic Johnson’s purchasing of the Dodgers and their multiple acquisitions and a presidential election of the highest stakes.

 

Meanwhile, the Sparks have been quietly going about their business of being community oriented and putting a winning product on the court, and of course with Parker as the centerpiece they have finally arrived at their pinnacle.

 

Finishing second in the Western Conference to the Minnesota Lynx, the Sparks won 24 games against just 14 defeats and are 6-4 over their last 10 games aiming for that elusive crown that has been gone for a decade when many thought they would own the league.

 

The drafting of Parker with the first pick in ’08 came with the lofty expectations that prominence would be immediate.

 

Since then head coach Michael Cooper left to take the same position with USC, Kobe’s dad came in a year ago and the team flickered on brilliance, boredom and mediocre.

 

But during that span, Parker missed nine games when she was giving birth to her daughter Lailaa Williams and in 2010 missed the entire season with a shoulder injury.

 

The shadow of Leslie stood even taller than ever and many wondered if the prospects of grandeur were mere illusions.

 

A healthy Parker could change all of that and the emergence of her Olympic teammates, which captured gold in London, has put the Sparks in a position they are familiar with.

 

She will need the help of Tina Thompson among the greatest players in the world; Delisha Milton Jones and former Narbonne star Ebony Hoffman coming off the bench if it is to work.

 

A champion with her team in Russia, an Olympic gold medal, two NCAA titles, and all of the accolades are enough to satisfy anyone, but for Parker it’s a WNBA title on her resume that will make the candy taste sweetest at this time of the year.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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