June 28, 2012

NEW YORK (AP) — Amare Stoudemire has been fined $50,000 by the NBA after the New York Knicks star tweeted a gay slur.

Stu Jackson, the league’s executive vice president of basketball operations, announced the fine Tuesday in a release, calling Stoudemire's language offensive and derogatory.

Stoudemire apologized Sunday to a fan for using the slur in response to a crude tweet in which the fan admonished the All-Star to “make up for this past season.”

The fan, @BFerrelli, tweeted his comment on Saturday and received a direct message containing an expletive and the slur from the account Twitter verifies as Stoudemire’s. BFerrelli, identified by the New York Daily News as Brian Ferrelli, posted a screen shot of the direct message. Direct messages can only be seen by the sender and the recipient.

Stoudemire also issued an apology in a statement Tuesday.

“I am a huge supporter of civil rights for all people,” he said. “I am disappointed in myself for my statement to a fan. I should have known better and there is no excuse.”

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June 28, 2012

NEW YORK (AP) — Three of the NBA's bright, young stars — Kevin Durant, Blake Griffin and Derrick Rose — will grace the cover of "NBA 2K13," the latest edition in a popular video game series.

The trio were selected Tuesday, a year after Michael Jordan, Magic Johnson, and Larry Bird were put on the cover of the game as the league and current players fought over a new labor deal.

Now the game's makers are moving from the past to the NBA's future. Each of the three new cover boys has won the Rookie of the Year award and Rose was the MVP in 2010-11.

Developed by Visual Concepts, a 2K Sports studio, "NBA 2K13" will be available Oct. 2 in North America and Oct. 5 internationally.

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 June 28, 2012

 

By HOWARD FENDRICH | Associated Press

 

 

 

WIMBLEDON, England (AP) — On one point Tuesday at Wimble­don, Serena Williams dumped a forehand into the net and dropped to a knee, her jaw clenched as she let out a shriek.

 

On another, she pushed a backhand into the net while her feet gave way, yet again leaving her awkwardly splayed on the grass at Court 2, the same place where her sister Venus lost a day earlier.

 

By the end, the younger Williams was screaming after nearly every point, good or bad — and, well, there were plenty of both. Her harder-than-the-score-looked 6-2, 6-4 victory over the 62nd-ranked Barbora Zahlavova Strycova of the Czech Republic in the first round at the All England Club wasn’t exactly perfect or pretty.

 

“Definitely a little relief,” the sixth-seeded Williams said. “I was letting out a lot of cries. I was happy to get through that.”

 

Yes, Williams got the job done, something she couldn’t say the last time she was at a major championship. Last month at the French Open, the 30-year-old American tossed away a big lead — nine times, she was two points from victory — and lost to a woman ranked 111th, the only first-round exit of Williams’ career in 48 Grand Slam tournaments.

 

“I learned that you got to ... keep going,” Williams said about that stunning defeat. “I was really disappointed. Obviously, I was extremely disappointed. But as Kelly Clarkson says, ‘What doesn’t kill you makes you stronger.’ ”

 

In part because of a series of health scares that sidelined her for about 10 months, Williams has gone two years since the most recent of her 13 major titles, including four at Wimbledon. And even though she bowed out quickly in Paris, Williams is a popular pick to do well this fortnight.

 

“For me, when I’m playing a match,” Williams said, “I either win it or lose it.”

 

She’ll want to play better than she did against Zahlavova Strycova, who is 0-21 against top-10 opponents, 13-27 in Grand Slam matches, and never has made it past the third round at any major.

 

Some other top players were sluggish at the start against unheralded foes Tuesday, when action was cut short in the evening because of rain.

 

Two-time Wimbledon champion Rafael Nadal, for instance, trailed 4-0 against 80th-ranked Thomas Bellucci of Brazil before turning it around and winning 7-6 (0), 6-2, 6-3.

 

“Fantastic for me,” Nadal said, “but I have to improve a lot for the next round.”

 

Defending women’s champion Petra Kvitova fell behind 3-0 and 4-1 but eventually used a seven-game run to take control and beat 96th-ranked Akgul Amanmuradova 6-4, 6-4. The match was halted by a 30-minute rain delay in the second set; when they returned, Kvitova needed all of three minutes to wrap things up.

 

“In the beginning,” Kvitova acknowledged, “I think I was nervous.”

 

Twelve singles matches were suspended in progress and four were postponed altogether. Among those that began but didn't finish, 2003 U.S. Open champion and three-time Wimbledon runner-up Andy Roddick led British wild-card entry Jamie Baker by a set and a break; French Open finalist Sara Errani was a point from beating U.S. qualifier CoCo Vandeweghe; and 21st-seeded Milos Raonic of Canada was a game from eliminating Santiago Giraldo of Colombia, leading by two sets and 5-4 in the third.

 

Winners included 10th-seeded Mardy Fish of the United States, playing his first match since having a medical procedure on his heart a month ago. The 30-year-old Fish hit 24 aces and defeated Ruben Ramirez-Hidalgo of Spain 7-6 (3), 7-5, 7-6 (1), then didn’t attend a postmatch news conference; a tour spokesman said Fish wasn’t feeling well, but didn’t elaborate.

 

All three Australian men in action Tuesday exited, meaning none reached the second round at the All England Club for the first time since 1938. No. 20 Bernard Tomic, a quarterfinalist at 18 years old in 2011, was knocked out by David Goffin, the Belgian wild-card recipient who took a set off Roger Federer in the fourth round of the French Open; 2002 Wimbledon champion Lleyton Hewitt lost to No. 5 Jo-Wilfried Tsonga; and Matthew Ebden was beaten by Benoit Paire of France.

 

“The boys didn’t have the best day,” said Hewitt, who used to be ranked No. 1 but has dealt with a series of injuries, is now 202nd, and needed a wild card to get into the field.

 

He hadn’t bowed out in the first round at Wimbledon since 2003. Williams never has. Never lost before the third round, actually, and now is 13-0 in openers at the grass-court Grand Slam tournament.

 

Last year, Williams questioned why tournament organizers assigned her and her sister to play on Court 2 rather than the larger and more prestigious Centre Court or Court 1. They have, after all, won a total of nine singles championships at Wimbledon and faced each other in four of those finals.

 

Given that Venus lost in straight sets on Court 2 on Monday, and Serena went through a workout to win there on Tuesday, the issue came up.

 

“I can’t even talk about it. I’m over it,” Williams said, raising her left palm. “I just can’t talk about that right now. I’m not in the mood.”

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June 28, 2012

By KYLE HIGHTOWER | Associated Press 

 

ORLANDO, Fla. (AP) — The NBA remains the leader among professional sports leagues in diversity hiring practices, according to a report released Tuesday.

The University of Central Florida's Institute of Diversity and Ethics in Sport gave the NBA an A-plus for racial hiring and A-minus for gender hiring in its annual Racial and Gender Report Card. The league received an overall grade of A.

It is the third straight report that the NBA has scored at least an A for both race and gender.

Primary study author Richard Lapchick said NBA Commissioner David Stern's leadership is one of the biggest reasons why the league continues to be a model in diversity from front office executives to coaches and players.

"I think everybody else changed over the years because of pressure, but I think the NBA started with David Stern to apply its own internal pressure to make the league office and teams look more like America," Lapchick said. "Because he's been so respected for so long from pretty much everybody involved in NBA and in other leagues, it has heightened his status even further. They know what his priorities are and try to implement them."

For the first time in NBA history, there were more head coaches of color (53 percent) than white head coaches. Also, African-Americans comprised 47 percent of all NBA coaches, the highest percentage since the 2001-02 season.

The 20-percentage point increase in coaches of color was the greatest for people of color in any position in 2011-2012.

"Having that many coaches of color is big. I'm not sure I thought I'd see that day," Lapchick said.

In the NBA league office, 34 percent of all professional employees are people of color and 42 percent are women. There were also six more women in vice president positions at the league office during the 2011-2012 season than in last year's report, increasing the total to 39 positions.

Lapchick said that though the NBA consistently has outpaced other major professional leagues, they still have some room to improve when it comes to gender hiring at the team level, where women make up 18 percent of vice president and 25 percent of senior administrator positions.

But he also noted that the increasing presence of women and minorities of color in ownership roles would surely lead to improvement because "they bring their life experiences and knowledge of qualified people" to their jobs. There were 20 people of color with ownership stakes in teams this past season and 15 women in ownership roles.

It's also why Lapchick said he believes the NBA has avoided instituting mandates like the NFL's Rooney Rule, which mandates teams interview a minority for open coaching positions.

"I once had a conversation with Stern in which he said he wanted to get to the stage when no one notices when you hire a person of color or when they fire a person of color," Lapchick said. "He said he wanted it to be that people would see they were just trying to hire the best person. That's permeated through the league and something I hope a lot of people will take note of."

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June 28, 2012

By TIM REYNOLDS | Associated Press

  

MIAMI (AP) — LeBron James got a standing ovation from the studio audience as he began his appearance on CBS' "Late Show with David Letterman."

 

And at the end of the interview, James even got a compliment from Letterman — who was not exactly a fan of his joining the Miami Heat to begin with.

 

The newly crowned NBA Finals MVP appeared on CBS' "Late Show with David Letterman" in New York on Tuesday night, and Letterman wasted no time before asking a tough question. The first offering from the late-night host: "Well, now that you've got this out of your system, are you ready to go back to Cleveland and play some ball?"

 

James laughed it off. "Right now, I'll play no ball right now," James said.

 

Letterman had taken a jab or two at James in the past about his decision to leave Cleveland for Miami, saying Tuesday that he was "furious" about the move. In a 2010 episode of "Late Show," Letterman told Jay-Z — a minority owner of the Nets — that if James left it would "cut the heart out of" Cleveland. And after the Heat lost in last season's finals, actress Betty White read Letterman's nightly Top 10 list of her "tips for living a long and healthy life."

 

No. 2 on that night's list?

 

"Never dwell on past mistakes," White said, "especially you, LeBron."

 

But on Tuesday, there were no mistakes for James and Letterman to dwell on for too long. Letterman asked the three-time NBA MVP how winning a championship changes things.

 

"I went from being ringless on Wednesday night to, you know, having a ring on Thursday night," James said. "So it changed that."

 

Later, Letterman told James that "nobody loves a winner more than basketball fans, and you certainly are the big winner." James replied, "I appreciate that."

 

James, Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh are in the midst of a media tour in New York. Bosh appeared on "Live! With Kelly" on Tuesday and Wade sat down for NBC's "Late Night with Jimmy Fallon." On Wednesday, all three are scheduled on ABC's "The View." Oprah Winfrey also taped an interview with the Heat trio in Miami on Monday, and that is scheduled to air on her network Sunday night.

 

Letterman also spent time talking about the upcoming London Olympics with James, who also played for the U.S. team at the Athens Games in 2004 and the Beijing Games in 2008.

 

James told Letterman that he expects Argentina, Spain and France to be good challenges for the Americans in London.

 

"Team USA, we try to go out there and showcase our talent at the highest level and represent our country the right way," James said. "So, you know, we always look forward to bringing home the gold."

 

As the interview was ending, Letterman took the championship trophy out from behind his desk.

 

"That's my baby right there," James said, giving the trophy a kiss.

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