February 14, 2013

By Kenneth Miller

LAWT Staff Writer

 

The National Basketball Association’s annual pause for cause, or All Star break will take on a more significant meaning when it is staged in Houston on Sunday Feb. 17 at the Toyota Center.

Traditionally it is a time of the year to celebrate its stars from past and present, reflecting on games gone by during the current season, but also introduce the next highflying dunk king.

It’s a basketball ritual that has unfolded for the past 61 years and is more of an entertainment exhibition than anything else, but the ultimate stars of stars seem to always allow their competitive juices to flow.

The list of those whose rite of passage has been to perform in the NBA All Star game multiple times include a galaxy of stars such as; Kareem Abdul Jabbar (19), Kobe Bryant (15), Kevin Garnett (15), Shaquille O’Neal (15), Tim Duncan (14), Karl Malone (14), Jerry West (14), Wilt Chamberlain (13), Bob Cousy (13), John Havlicek (13), Larry Bird (12), Elvin Hayes (12), Magic Johnson (12), Moses Malone (12), Hakeem Olajuwon (12), Bill Russell (12), Isaiah Thomas (12), Oscar Robinson (12), Charles Barkley (11), Julius Erving (11), Elgin Baylor (11), Julius Erving (11), Paul Pierce (10), John Stockton (10), Clyde Drexler (10), Hal Greer (10), Jason Kidd (10)Dominique Wilkins (9), Dwayne Wade (9) and LeBron James (9).

I could name them all, but why bother when there is only one omission from the aforementioned list whose accomplishments in the game of basketball on and off the court justifiably single him out as the greatest EVER!

He took the slam-dunk contest to an orbit where Julius Erving could not! His half dozen NBA titles elevated the Chicago Bulls to a stratosphere that it will never reach again and meant an estimated $1 trillion to the windy city’s economy during his playing days.

The high flying, leg kicking, tongue wagging, bald baller we affectionately know as MJ, but whose birth name is Michael Jordan will celebrate his 50th birthday on the same day of the NBA All Star Game Feb. 17.

This current generation of hot shot hoopsters may not fully understand the magnitude of the Air Jordan, but millions of Blacks have convinced their parents to pay through the roof to wear his Jordan Brand sneakers produced by Nike.

When Jordan was a rookie in the NBA All Star game veterans such as Isaiah Thomas collectively froze him out and refused to pass him the basketball, but 14 All Star game appearances later he was the MVP in the event three times.

Jordan did his real work when the stakes were at their climax, a 63 point outburst against the Celtics in 1986 prompted Bird to hail him as "God disguised as Michael Jordan."

Lakers great Magic Johnson put it in a more earthly tone; "There's Michael Jordan and then there is the rest of us."

Even to this day his astronomical achievements are bronzed statuettes which are symbolic of a standard left for those behind him to only dream about; Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame Class of 2009, 2 Olympic gold medals – 1984, 1992, 6-time NBA Champion, 6-time NBA Finals MVP, 5-time NBA MVP, 10 NBA Scoring Titles, 3 time steals leader, 3 time minutes leader, 14 NBA All-Star Selections, 3 time NBA All-Star Game MVP, 11 All-NBA Selections, 9 All-Defensive First Team Selections, 2 time NBA Slam Dunk Contest Champion – 1987, 1988, NBA Rookie of the Year – 1984–85 NBA Defensive Player of the Year – 1987–88.

While Lakers icon Jerry West is the symbol of the NBA uniforms, Jordan’s stamp on the game itself is revolutionary from the bent rim asphalt playgrounds of New York where he was born to the humid indoor courts of Los Angeles and beyond throughout the International hemisphere, Jordan is a in a Space Jam of his own.

The Portland Trailblazers have the dubious distinction of passing over Jordan in the in the 1984 draft in favor of Sam Bowie at senior center from Kentucky, while Houston took Nigerian born Hakeem Olajuwon with the first selection.

The third pick in that draft, Jordan owns the NBA Finals record of averaging 41 points per game in 1993, a career scoring record of 30 points per game, a consecutive game record of 866 games of scoring 10 points or more, a record of 5, 987 points in playoff games and oh by the way he owns the scoring record for NBA All Star games for a career with 262.

The mystery surrounding the bizarre disappearance and murder of his father James in 1993 prompted him to retire from basketball and play professional baseball a passion that he’s had since childhood.

However, many had questions of whether or not his father’s murder had anything to do with gambling debts that Jordan acknowledged he had, but nothing had proven that to be the case.

James Jordan’s body was found floating in a South Carolina creek on Aug. 3.  The cause of death was a single gunshot wound to the chest, a result of robbery.

Jordan, 57, had been missing for three weeks and the family had not filed a missing persons report. Police said that the family did not seem concerned about his absence, and they apparently did not realize that he was missing, since he traveled extensively on business.

Jordan mourned his father by escaping from basketball in 1994 playing for the minor league affiliate of the Chicago White Sox Birmingham Soul garnering meager stats before returning to the NBA.

After losing in the second round of the playoffs following his return in the 1994-95 season, he returned with a vengeance the following year leading the Bulls to the best record in NBA history going 72-10 and leading Chicago to the first title during their second three-peat.

Jordan played in sold out arenas in practically every game he played in, at home and away. His jersey sets retired in the rafters at both North Carolina and in Chicago where the only statute outside the United Center is one of MJ.

Now, as an owner of the Charlotte Bobcats, the only Black owner in the NBA, Jordan is destined to prove that he can turn around the most hapless franchise in league history.

Worth in excess of $500 million, a proven entrepreneur in business, a father to three grown children and recently engaged, Jordan gave us everything he’s had in the sport of basketball.

He owes us nothing more, but there is something about his ultra competitive drive that leads me to believe that he will not stop until he proves to us he can successfully lead an NBA franchise from the owner’s box.

Whether he does or not, matters least because he has already proven that in the game of basketball he has No Air Apparent!

Parent Category: News
Category: Sports

February 07, 2013

By Michael Dean

Special to the NNP A from Arizona Informant

 

Before there was Sifford, or Rhodes or Spiller or Elder, there was John Brooks Dendy, the self-made golfer from North Carolina who made a name for himself in the 1930s.

Dendy grew up in Asheville and fell in love with the game of golf at an early age.  He had scuffled around and found some discarded club heads with no shafts. He whittled down broom sticks, fitted them in the heads and began playing whenever he could.  He also began caddying at Asheville Country Club and by his early teens had developed a game that was hard to beat.  Some of the members of the club took notice and quietly encouraged him.

At 18, Dendy had completed high school and was preparing to head to Paine College in Augusta, Ga. to play football.  Because of his golfing prowess, a few members of the country club extended Dendy the financial assistance to enter the Southern Open at Lincoln G &CC in Atlanta and to the chagrin of homegrown heroes Howard Wheeler and Hugh Smith, Dendy won.  During the awards ceremony, Dendy relinquished his amateur status and accepted the $50 prize money for first place.

Excited by his good fortune, his family encouraged him to compete in the 1932 United Golfer’s Association – Negro National Open in Indian­apolis.  Dendy had never been that far away from home before and was only comfortable on the golf course.  The virtual unknown whipped his competitors with ease earning the trophy and the $100 prize money.

In the pre-tournament “Calcutta,” Dendy had been purchased for $400 and the bettor won big so he gave his man a $500 bonus for winning, five times the amount of the winner’s check.  On his long trip home, Dendy never slept for fear that someone may attempt to rob him. He would go on the win National Open in 1936 and successfully defended in 1937.  He also won the Southern Open again in 1934 and 1936 after breaking through in 1932.

One of the most legendary stories told about John Brooks Dendy occurred in Jacksonville, Fla. in 1933.  He had been invited to participate in an 18-hole exhibition and was pressed for time because the bus that he was on developed problems along the way.  He arrived at the course, went to the first tee, and without warming up, cut the dogleg with his drive on the 342 yard opening hole.  When he got to the green, he found his ball in the cup for a 1. He then played the next three holes 2-3-4, all of them birdies and finished the day with a score of 59.  The 1-2-3-4, six-under par start, made Ripley’s Believe It Or Not.

By 1940, Dendy hadn’t made any headway financially playing golf, so he opted to take a job as a locker room attendant at Asheville CC and later worked at Biltmore Forest CC where he served until he retired in 1980.  He didn’t play much golf in his later years and died in 1985.  Throughout his storied career Dendy won 52 tournaments, including three National and three Southern Open Championships.  He was also a friend of heavyweight champion Joe Louis and the two often partnered successfully in money matches in Chicago and across the country.  “Lest’ We Forget.”

Parent Category: News
Category: Sports

February 07, 2013

Kareem Abdul-Jabbar took home two NAACP Image Awards tonight for “Best Documentary” for his film “On the Shoulders of Giants – The Story of the Greatest Team You’ve Never Heard Of” and the award for “Best Children’s Book” for “What Color is My World? – the lost history of African American inventors” authored by the legendary sports figure and Raymond Obstfeld. The film was nominated in the Best Doc­umentary category and the book was nominated for Best Literary Work – Children’s category.  Both were awarded in a pre-show gala awards ceremony held in Los Angeles.

The NAACP Image Award is one of the highest accolades presented by the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People which honors outstanding people of color in film, television, music and literature.  Similar to other awards like the Oscars and the Grammys, the 40 categories of the Image Awards are voted on by the award organization’s members. The 2013 NAACP Image Awards aired on NBC Television live from the Shrine Auditorium. 

On the Shoulders of Giants is a 75-minute feature-length documentary currently airing on Showtime. The film honors a group of sports pioneers who have been all but forgotten over time.  The story finds its footing in the rhythms of jazz, its roots in the Harlem Renaissance and its voice in a group of basketball players much too talented to be ignored.  It was produced and directed by Deborah Morales on behalf of Abdul-Jabbar in association with Iconomy Multi-media & Entertain­ment.  Oscar winning actor Jamie Foxx did the honors of voice over throughout the documentary with notable appearances by Dr. Maya Angelou, Spike Lee, Bill Russell, Dr. J., Herbie Hancock, Chuck D, Dr. Cornell West, Charles Barkley, Jerry West as well as many other legendary celebrities and sports figures.

“Who would have thought that an African-American basketball hero from New York and a white Jewish girl from Boston would be working together let alone win an NAACP Image Award,” said Deborah Morales, a well-known entertainment business manager. "I am so thrilled to receive this award not only because it justifies the very poignant message both Kareem and I set out to send as we began this journey but because the NAACP’s continued pursuit of civil rights is very important to both of us.

Abdul-Jabbar’s children’s book “What Color Is My World? –the lost history of African American inventors”  children’s book was penned by  the NBA legend and New York times best-selling author Abdul-Jabbar and his co-writer Raymond Obstfeld and offers an upbeat history lesson within a fictional narrative framework. Siblings Ella and Herbie, whose story unfolds within the pages of the book is taught by an eccentric handyman named Mr. Mital who  teaches them about the contributions made by African-American inventors through their own adventures and their fixer-upper house. The book was illustrated by A.G. Ford, Ben Boos and published by Candlewick Press.

“It is a distinguished honor to be recognized by the NAACP in such an extraordinary way. To win two NAACP Image Awards is a remarkable moment for me ” said Kareem Abdul-Jabbar. “ I have spent much of my life working towards the recognition and understanding of African-Americans in all fields and am extremely proud to know that this award stands profoundly for the fight for social justice for all Americans.”

For more information on “On The Shoulders of Giants – The Greatest Story of the Team You’ve Never Heard Of” and “What Color is My World? – The Lost History of African American Inventors www.kareemabduljabbar. com or www.iconomy.com.

Parent Category: News
Category: Sports

February 07, 2013

DOHA, Qatar (AP) — Venus Williams has withdrawn from next week’s Qatar Open due to an ongoing lower back injury.

The 23rd-ranked Williams has been hampered by back problems since the Australian Open. She missed the Open GDF Suez tournament and will skip the upcoming Fed Cup match against Italy because of the injury.

Andrea Hlavackova will replace Williams in the Qatar tournament.

Williams lost in straight sets to Maria Sharapova in the third round of the Australian Open, and then lost in the quarterfinals of the doubles alongside younger sister Serena.

Serena Williams, who complained of back pain during her Australian Open quarterfinals loss to American Sloane Stephens, is scheduled to play at Qatar, as is top-ranked Victoria Azarenka.

Parent Category: News
Category: Sports

February 07, 2013

By TIM BOOTH (AP Sports Writer) | The Associated Press

 

With one more procedural move, the Sacramento Kings took another step toward Seattle.

NBA Commissioner David Stern said Wednesday night that the Seattle group led by Chris Hansen and Steve Ballmer, which recently reached an agreement to purchase the Kings, has formally filed for relocation with the league.

Stern spoke in Minneapolis before the Timberwolves hosted San Antonio. He called the Seattle group ''very strong,'' and said the appropriate committees have been convened to look over the proposed sale of the Kings and the prospective move.

Stern said the relocation proposal calls for the team to play in KeyArena for ''two years, possibly three,'' while a new arena in Seattle is being built.

''We have had submitted a signed agreement to have the team sold to a very strong group from Seattle,'' Stern said. ''We have received an application to have the team moved from Sacramento to Seattle.''

The deadline for teams to file for relocation is March 1. It's been expected that the Hansen/Ballmer group would file to move the team, but Stern's comments were the first time that decision had been verified. The filing for relocation is just another step, but big in the efforts to bring professional basketball back to Seattle for the 2013-14 season.

Hansen's group reached an agreement with the Maloof family last month to buy 65 percent of the franchise, which is valued at $525 million, and move the team to Seattle and restore the SuperSonics name. The deal will cost the Hansen group a little more than $340 million.

The Kings' sale price of $525 million would surpass the NBA-record $450 million the Golden State Warriors sold for in 2010.

Sacramento Mayor Kevin Johnson has been trying to find investors with the financial means to match the sale price, keep the Kings in Sacramento and help on the construction of a new arena in California's capital city.

Johnson responded on Twitter on Wednesday night, saying again that Sacramento ''is playing to win.''

''We know that with an ownership partner both to Sacramento and an arena plan already supported by the city and NBA, Sacramento is ready to show what a great one-team market can be, should be, and is,'' Johnson said in his post.

A day earlier, Johnson said he planned to attend the NBA All-Star game in Houston and lobby anyone he could on the merits of keeping the Kings in Sacramento, but he has yet to reveal any of the large equity investors he's attempting to pull together. Johnson said he hoped to be able to announce them next week.

''My guess is it's likely that the mayor of Sacramento will appear before the board with an alternate plan,'' Stern said. ''And that's why we have a board of governors, to make difficult decisions like this one.''

Stern said he didn't feel the situation between Seattle and Sacramento would turn into a battle to see who can make the most lucrative bid.

''I don't think it's a bidding war,'' Stern continued. ''There's a series of issues that are defined by our constitution that have to be considered. One of the things that our board is mandated to consider is the support for the team in the prior city. So there are real issues for the board to consider, about the buildings, about the likelihood they will be built, about the support from the cities.''

Two committees would typically vet both the proposed sale and the move of the franchise to Seattle, but Stern said he has combined the committees into one. The committee will report to the Board of Governors, which is expected to vote on both the sale and the proposed move at its meeting in mid-April.

Stern said the relocation of the franchise requires a majority approval of the Board of Governors and the sale of the franchise would require a three-fourths majority.

''So I did the sensible thing, I combined the committees and said, 'You guys figure it out.' We'll see how that works,'' Stern said.

Parent Category: News
Category: Sports

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