February 21, 2013

By ANDREW SELIGMAN  Associated Press

 

Mike Tyson and Evander Holyfield stood toe to toe again, only this time there were hugs and smiles — and no bites to the ear.

The ill will that marked the former champions’ rivalry was nowhere in sight. Instead, they were like old friends meeting in a supermarket, which is exactly what they did on Saturday February 16.

They were at a Jewel-Osco on Chicago’s South Side, where Holyfield was signing autographs and promoting his barbecue sauce. Tyson, in town performing his one-man show, made a cameo.

“I just wanted to see Evander, man,” Tyson said. “I love Evander. I’m forever linked with him for the rest of my life.”

Hard to believe those words came from the man who bit off a piece of Holyfield’s ear during a fight, but the former “Baddest Man On The Planet” is showing a different side.

He’s baring his soul on stage, documenting his rise from Brooklyn's streets to the heavyweight championship and subsequent fall from grace. It’s all there, from his drug use to his relationships to ex-wife Robin Givens, new wife Kiki, promoter Don King, trainer Cus D’Amato and, of course, a rape conviction that left him behind bars for three years in the 1990s.

He’s taking it to 36 cities after a run on Broadway. Saturday night was the second of two scheduled performances in Chicago. And before he hit the stage, he hit the supermarket.

He wrapped Holyfield in a big hug and was all smiles as they chatted and posed for pictures, the fans going wild the whole time.

“The show is good,” said Holyfield, who saw it in Las Vegas. “The show is showing his way of coming back, being able to come to an agreement, come to an acknowledgment of what he’d done good and what he’d done wrong and to get over it. When people don’t get past their problems, they never come to an understanding.”

What did Holyfield think of the parts that involved him?

“I think he was letting people know that he was wrong and what happened, happened,” he said. “He appreciates that I forgave him. He’s forgiven himself. That’s how you make adjustments in life.”

The 50-year-old Holyfield would still like one more title fight against one of the Klitschko brothers, either Wladimir or Vitali. But unless one of them has a change of heart and agrees to it, his career is over.

“Now that it's confirmed that the Klitschkos really don’t want to do it, that’s it,” Holyfield said. “I’m not trying to go back and fight someone 24, 25. But the Klitschkos being 37, 38, that's my age.”

He’s not clinging to that possibility, nor is he holding any hard feelings for Tyson. They reconciled on Oprah Winfrey's show in October 2009, and for that, Tyson is grateful.

In his mind, it even turned that infamous bite into something positive “because love and forgiveness is involved.”

“We’re both at a stage in our lives where we can work together and make really a good thing happen,” Tyson said. “He’s a beautiful person. I’ve known Evander since I was 15.”

Now Tyson is putting it out there on stage, warts and all. He has made it clear this is not an apology tour, that it’s simply his story.

He says he spends two hours a day rehearsing the script that his wife wrote, and the show is directed by Spike Lee. More are scheduled for cities such as San Francisco, Los Angeles, Houston and Washington, and the tour could be extended if it goes well.

When he’s not rehearsing, he’s working for his charitable organization, Mike Tyson Cares. The organization helps underprivileged and homeless children receive medical treatment, find shelter, help with school expenses and assist with job placement.

But he still can’t quite escape the drama.

In December, Tyson told a TV show he was “high on cocaine” during filming of the movie “The Hangover.” In November, a Polish court ordered him to pay $48,000 to the organizer of a boxing gala after Tyson did not show up.

In October he was banned from travelling to New Zealand because of his rape conviction. That country’s immigration authorities initially granted him a visa so he could give talks about overcoming adversity in his life, but a charity withdrew its support and officials reversed their decision.

“I just want to live my life this way,” Tyson said. “It’s more advantageous to me and my children and the people that I care about to live my life this way.”

Parent Category: News
Category: Sports

February 21, 2013

By BRIAN MAHONEY  Associated Press

 

Billy Hunter was ousted from his job as executive director of the union in a unanimous vote by NBA players who said Saturday February 16, they will “no longer be divided, misled, misinformed.”

“This is our union and we have taken it back,” Players’ Association president Derek Fisher said.

Fisher said it was a day of change for the union, which has seemed inevitable since a review of the union last month was critical of Hunter's leadership and urged players to consider whether they wanted to keep him.

They didn’t.

“We want to make it clear that we are here to serve only the best interests of the players,” Fisher said. “No threats, no lies, no distractions will stop us from serving our memberships.”

Hunter said in a statement that he hadn’t received word of his dismissal and blasted the interim executive committee for the process it followed, saying “certain individuals made sure the outcome was pre-ordained.”

“In addition, given the legitimate legal and governance questions surrounding the eligibility of the members who voted and the adherence, or lack thereof, to the constitution and bylaws, I do not consider today’s vote the end, only a different beginning,” Hunter said. “My legal representatives and I will resume communication with the NBPA to determine how to best move forward in the best interests of all parties.”

In brief remarks, Fisher said a new executive committee was elected and he will remain as president. The Spurs’ Matt Bonner is vice president, Miami's James Jones is secretary-treasurer and the Nets’ Jerry Stackhouse the first vice president. The Clippers’ Chris Paul, Golden State’s Stephen Curry, Denver’s Andre Iguodala, the Hornets’ Roger Mason, Jr. and the Clippers’ Willie Green are vice presidents.

Hunter had led the union since 1996, guiding the players through three collective bargaining agreements and helping bring their average salaries to more than $5 million, highest in team sports. But Fisher pushed for the review after a falling out between the two leaders, and though it found Hunter wasn’t guilty of any criminal activity involving union funds, it cited a number of conflicts of interests and poor choices that led the players to remove him.

Commissioner David Stern was aware of the union’s actions but had little comment.

“We await notification from the union as to who we should be dealing with because it has been a principle of faith with us that we will deal with whomever the union tells us to deal with,” Stern said.

Released in January, the review conducted by the law firm Paul, Weiss, Rifkind, Wharton & Garrison LLP criticized Hunter for hiring family members and friends. It said he knew his 2010 contract extension wasn’t properly ratified by union rules, and raised questions about everything from travel expenses to the amount he spent on gifts.

Players acted quickly, putting Hunter on a leave of absence on Feb. 1. He hoped to be invited to Saturday’s annual meeting, which included about 35 players, superstar LeBron James among them.

But Hunter’s attorneys said their client was told he wouldn’t be welcomed. They said his contract was legal and indicated there could be a lawsuit if the players removed him and attempted to withhold the more than $10 million that remains on his salary.

"We do not doubt that this process will possibly continue in an ugly way," said Fisher, who then reminded reporters that there are three ongoing government investigations into Hunter, likely the reason he didn't take questions after his remarks.

It's a swift fall for the 70-year-old Hunter, a former athlete who was well-respected by many players. But agents didn't like him, questioning his bargaining strategies and frustrated they didn't have a bigger role in his union.

Hunter's family did, and that was another central issue of the report. He had since fired his daughter and daughter-in-law, and cut ties with a financial institution that employed his son. He also instituted an anti-nepotism policy at the NPBA.

"After 17 years of representing NBA players during CBA negotiations and defending their rights in other proceedings, not once was there an occasion where one side was denied an opportunity to be heard," Hunter said. "The current interim regime in control of the NBPA has set a terrible precedent for the union. It violates every tenet of fairness upon which the union was founded. Now that this has occurred, I will continue to examine all of my options, including whether the fairness that was absent from the NBPA process might be available in a different forum."

Fisher, Paul, Bonner, Mason and Jones were holdovers from the previous executive committee. Stackhouse, who along with James was vocal during the meeting, joins Iguodala, Curry and Green among the newcomers.

Fisher and Hunter clashed during the 2011 lockout and their fractured relationship divided the union. Hunter originally persuaded the executive committee to vote to request Fisher's resignation last year. Fisher did not resign and instead pushed for the outside review, which lasted more than eight months and cost the union more than $4 million.

The law firm reviewed NBPA documents and emails, and interviewed more than three dozen witnesses. It found that Hunter spent more than $100,000 on gifts for executive committee members — including a watch worth more than $20,000 for Fisher before their falling out — and accepted a payout of $1.3 million for unused vacation time when records made it unclear how his time off was kept.

Fisher remains president even though he isn't on an NBA roster, having asked the Dallas Mavericks for his release after a brief stint earlier this season. He gave no update on what would happen to the executive director position. Union attorney Ron Klempner was appointed to the position on an interim basis when Hunter was placed on leave.

Parent Category: News
Category: Sports

February 21, 2013

By LARRY LAGE Associated Press

 

Charles Woodson is on the market.

The Green Bay Packers released the 36-year-old defensive back last Friday with two years left on his contract.

"We are grateful for all that Charles has given to the Green Bay Packers over the past seven years," general manager Ted Thompson said. "He has been an integral part of the Packers' success and our Super Bowl title in 2010 would not have been possible without his contributions. A once-in-a-generation talent as a player, he is also a great leader and ambassador for the organization off the field."

The Packers clear about $10 million in cap space by releasing Woodson. Carl Poston, Woodson's agent, said the veteran wasn't done yet.

"The Packers told Charles they're going in a different direction," Poston said. "Charles told me he still wants to play — for a Super Bowl contender."

Woodson signed a five-year deal before the 2010 season that was worth as much as $55 million. He missed nine games during the 2012 regular season because of a broken right collarbone and played in two postseason games for the Packers in his seventh year with the franchise.

"We had a good run," Woodson wrote to ESPNWisconsin.com in a text message.

Woodson was the NFL Defensive Player of the Year in 2009 and the Defensive Rookie of the Year in 1998. He spent the first eight years of his career with the Oakland Raiders, who drafted him out of Michigan with the No. 4 overall pick.

He's the only player in NFL history with touchdowns off interceptions in six straight seasons, a feat he pulled off each year from 2006 to 2011, and leads the league with nine touchdowns off interceptions since 2006. He went to the Pro Bowl every year from 2008-11.

Woodson was productive for the Packers, but they have some tough decisions to make this offseason to manage the salary cap. Woodson had a year left on his lucrative deal and linebacker A.J. Hawk is under contract next year for a team that probably wants to give long-term deals to receiver James Jones, linebacker Clay Matthews and defensive tackle B.J. Raji because each of the relatively young standouts could potentially be free agents following next season.

Despite his age and recent injury, Woodson will likely be an in-demand free agent. He was injured last October, bounced back in time to defend two passes in the playoffs.

"Charles has been a stud in this league for 15 years, so whenever he's on the field with us, he's always a huge threat," Hawk said in January. "Not only is he a threat to make huge plays throughout the game, but quarterbacks, I think they know where he's at every single play. He seems to know what receivers are running before they do. And I think he has an intimidation factor as well."

Woodson had a career-high nine interceptions in 2009 and picked off seven passes in 2011 and made one interception in seven games during last year's injury-shortened season.

The 1997 Heisman Trophy winner led Michigan to the 1997 national championship and has donated more than $2 million to the University of Michigan Mott Children's Hospital and Women's Hospital, where he supports pediatric clinical research. With the Packers, he was a leader as one of the best players on the team and as a mentor to younger players.

"He's like a big brother to all of us," former Green Bay safety Nick Collins once said.

Parent Category: News
Category: Sports

February 21, 2013

LAWT Wire Service

 

Undefeated eight-time world champion Floyd "Money" Mayweather, boxing's pound-for-pound king and the highest paid athlete in the world (Forbes, 2012), has entered into a pay-per-view deal with Showtime Networks Inc. and its parent company, CBS Corporation. Under the new deal, SHOWTIME PPV® will collaborate with CBS Corporation to comprehensively promote Mayweather's events on the CBS Television Network and via the corporation's media platforms.

The deal—a revenue-sharing arrangement between SHOWTIME PPV and Mayweather—will enable him to fight up to six times over a period of 30 months, with the first mega-event taking place on May 4, when Mayweather will fight Robert "The Ghost" Guerrero.

Mayweather's new deal is by far the biggest in the sport of boxing.

“Mayweather is the PPV king and averages over 1 million PPV buys per event, which is the highest PPV buy average of any boxer in history,” say network officials.

“At this record-setting PPV performance level, if all six fights contemplated by this deal occur, it will be the richest individual athlete deal in all of sports.”

Parent Category: News
Category: Sports

February 21, 2013

By KRISTIE RIEKEN |

Associated Press

 

Michael Jordan turned 50 on Sunday, February 17 giving this year's All-Stars a chance to reflect on his illustrious career and how much he still means to the sport.

In a weekend filled with the NBA's greatest players, Jordan was the topic no one could stop talking about. Though he hasn't played since the 2002-03 season, Jordan's influence still permeates the league and its players.

"Every kid that wanted to play basketball, that could play, that couldn't play, you tried to emulate Michael Jordan," Heat star Dwyane Wade said. "That's why there will never be another one of him. He’s the first of his kind. Everything he did was groundbreaking. He did it with so much flare and so much pizazz that even today people are still trying to be like Mike."

Jordan won six titles and five MVP awards during a career spent mostly with the Bulls that began in 1984.

Jordan was in Houston this weekend, and celebrated his birthday early with a private bash on Friday February 15 at the Museum of Fine Arts with guests including LeBron James and Kobe Bryant.

Los Angeles Lakers center Dwight Howard is so impressed with Jordan that he said he's like a real version of Superman.

"Be Like Mike" was more than a marketing campaign. It was a dream for many of today's players.

"He's amazing," Howard said. "He's one of the reasons why we played basketball. He inspired us to do great things. I hear his voice sometimes on commercials, it makes you want to get out there and try to do something."

Jordan retired twice before finally leaving the game for good at age 39. Some people wondered this weekend if he could still play in the NBA, despite reaching the age where he qualifies for an AARP card.

Wade believes this day will be a time for Jordan to reflect on his storied career and appreciate his family and health.

"Kind of look back at all the things he did, so many years ago in the NBA that still live on today," Wade said. "What he's been able to do to stay this relevant, in this role, the way he has, is phenomenal."

Though he isn't seen often, Jordan is never far from the game. He is close to a group of players through his Jordan Brand apparel and as the owner of the Charlotte Bobcats. He ignited one of the debates of the weekend when he told NBA TV he would chose Bryant over James based on the number of championships each has won.

"If you had to pick between the two, that would be a tough choice, but five beats one every time I look at it, and not that (James) won't get five, he may get more than that, but five is bigger than one," Jordan said in the interview, which aired Monday night.

Carmelo Anthony of the New York Knicks counts Jordan as one of the most influential in his decision to play basketball.

"He changed the game, transcended the game," Anthony said. "He changed the way people coached the game from a mental aspect. From a training aspect, how you approach that, he changed that. So for me as a kid to see that and see somebody go through that and succeed, that was motivation."

Jordan, who retired for the last time with more than 32,000 points, is perhaps known as much by the younger generation of stars for his namesake Nike shoe as for his basketball skills.

"The imprint he's had on the league, he's an immortal," Bryant said. "Everything that he's done from the business aspect to his professionalism to his work ethic to the global appeal of the game has been something that carries on for generations and generations."

Jordan didn't make himself available to the press during All-Star weekend. James said this week that he wasn't too concerned with the TV remarks.

"At the end of the day, rings don't always define someone's career," James said. "If that's the case, then I would sit up here and say that I would take (Bill) Russell over Jordan. I wouldn't. I wouldn't take Russell over Jordan, but Russell has 11 rings and Jordan has six. Or I'd take, I don't know, Robert Horry over Jordan. I wouldn't do that. But it's your own personal opinion."

"Patrick Ewing is one of the greatest of all time," he continued. "Reggie Miller is one of the greatest of all time. Sometimes, it's a situation that you're in, it's the team that you're in. It's about timing as well."

One of the most common sentiments echoed by players this week when talking about Jordan was disbelief that he was turning 50.

"Time actually flies," Bryant said. "Him turning 50, this will be my 17th year, my 15th All-Star Game. Where did the time go?"

Parent Category: News
Category: Sports

Page 23 of 41