November 22, 2012

Associated Press

 

Memphis Grizzlies forward Zach Randolph has been fined $25,000 by the NBA for confronting Oklahoma City's Kendrick Perkins following both their ejections in a game last week.

The fine was announced Monday by Stu Jackson, the league’s executive vice president of basketball operations.

Randolph and Perkins were each ejected for an altercation with 2:05 remaining in the fourth quarter of Memphis’ 107-97 win in Oklahoma City on November 14. Perkins and Randolph confronted each other between Russell Westbrook’s free throw attempts and were both tossed.

The two tried to approach each other while being restrained by teammates before finally heading out tunnels at opposite ends of Chesapeake Energy Arena. Randolph then talked to Perkins near the locker room, drawing the fine.

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November 22, 2012

By TOM COYNE 

Associated Press

 

Notre Dame coach Brian Kelly believes Everett Golson is ready for what awaits him at Southern California.

He believes the 6-0, 185-pound sophomore quarterback who did not play as a freshman is ready. Ready for the pressure of leading the Fighting Irish (11-0) on the field ranked No. 1 for the first time in 19 years. Ready for a rivalry game that has been dominated over the past decade by USC (7-4). Ready to help Notre Dame advance to the BCS title game with a win.

Kelly said he bases that opinion by the maturity Golson has shown as he’s improved throughout the season, playing in tough venues such as Michigan State and Oklahoma and rallying the Irish from a two-touchdown deficit in the fourth quarter against Pittsburgh to a triple-overtime victory.

“All of those things go into Saturday and all of those will be positives for him going into the USC game,” Kelly said.

Golson said he is feeling more comfortable because of all he’s learned and he has learned to manage the clock better so he doesn’t have to rush each play.

“I think I’ve progressed a lot,” he said.

Golson keeps doing a lot more of the little things right and it's leading to more big plays for the Irish. He waited until the last second to pitch the ball to set up Cierre Wood’s 68-yard touchdown run on the fourth play against Wake Forest. He had TD passes of 50 and 34 yards against Wake Forest, and the second came after a nice pump fake.

Slowly, Golson has turned what had been an at-best average offense into one that opponents are increasingly having trouble slowing down.

“He’s a guy that makes explosive plays,” Kelly said. “He’s got the ability to throw it. He can run the football. He’s elusive. I think we’re seeing a guy that’s growing each and every week.”

Through Notre Dame’s first five games, Golson was 67-of-111 passing for 827 yards with three touchdown passes and three interceptions, with a pass efficiency rating of 126.46. He also had run for 40 yards on 27 carries.

In the last five games, after sitting out against BYU with a concussion, Golson is 84-of-145 passing for 1,091 yards with eight touchdowns and two interceptions, a pass efficiency rating completion rate of 136.58. He’s also run for 202 yards on 53 carries — and that includes just one carry in the win over Wake Forest.

The Irish have improved during that span from 71st in the nation in total offense, averaging 398.4 yards a game, to 50th, averaging 419.7.

“He’s definitely on the right path to providing us the offense that we need,” Kelly said.

The coach admitted he hasn’t run Golson as much as he'd like because he still needs to get stronger.

“He still needs another coat of armor on him. He needs another year in the weight room and he needs to get thicker. We want to be judicious when we run him,” Kelly said. “We’ve got to run him. He’s better when he runs, physically and mentally. He loves to run.”

Golson is the fourth quarterback in Notre Dame history to start his career with nine straight victories. He would have 10 straight if he hadn't been benched the first three plays against Miami. The school record is 11 wins by Bob Williams during the national championship season of 1949.

Last week, the focus was working on footwork and communicating with teammates, calling plays and then checking into different plays. Kelly had Golson watching film of Peyton Manning and other quarterbacks.

“Manning is probably one of the great communicators, his ability to get into plays and check and do it efficiently,” Kelly said. “We try to use some of the greats to show some things that could be helpful.”

As for the pressure of playing at USC with Notre Dame eager to win its first national championship since 1988, Golson said he’s taking the same attitude he’s taken all year of focusing on the opponent and not worrying about the big picture.

“As far as I’m concerned, my head is down, my foot’s on the gas, I’m never going to look up and lose focus,” he said. “My thing is just keep your head down and keep pushing it.”

 

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November 15, 2012

By Kenneth Miller

LA Watts Times

 

To this very day it is a real head scratcher as to why the man who is statistically the greatest basketball player to ever live has been punished for what absolutely has nothing to do with the game of basketball.

The Lakers will unveil a statue of Kareem Abdul Jabbar on Nov. 16 in front of Star Plaza at Staples Center, roughly 23 years to the day he played his last basketball game for the team.

By the time they erect his signature skyhook on Friday there will be more statues in front of the building than cars in the Petersen Automobile Museum.

Let’s see there is Jerry West, Magic Johnson, Wayne Gretzky, Chick Hearn and Oscar De La Hoya. Did I miss anyone?

Perhaps someone will think of a reason to add another one before ‘The Captain’ as Hearn aptly described him gets his ceremony.

Some may scoff, what’s the big deal at least he’s getting one!

No slight to Magic, whom we all love and West an all time favorite, but we are only talking about a man who is the all time NBA scoring leader with 38,387 points, six regular season MVPs, holds records for games played, minutes played, field goals made and attempted, blocked shots and defensive rebounds.

This elegant royal knight for the game of basketball who appeared on no less than 25 covers of Sports Illustrated magazine, played in a record 19 NBA All Star Games, but could not get a sniff for a head coaching job after his playing career was over, and literarily had to bend his 7-foot-2 frame to secure a measly special assistant or scout position, and was subsequently regulated to coaching an obscure high school team on an Indian reservation. Are you kidding me!

No one ever said that life would be kind, but for a man who came west from Manhattan NY after leading his high school team to a 79-2 record at Power Memorial, led UCLA to consecutive NCAA titles from 1967-1969 as a three time first team all American---basketball life has been cruel to him.

Jabbar, who changed his name in 1968 from Ferdinand Lewis Alcindor when he joined the Nation of Islam, was the only child of a department store checker and a father who was a transit police officer and jazz musician.

I am not attempting to apologize for the greatest player to ever live, I am merely writing the facts.

This is a man who lists Jackie Robinson, Malcolm X, Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., Harriett Tubman and Alexander Hamilton among his heroes.

He was castigated, judged and evaluated through every human microscope imaginable.

Magic Johnson penned that Kareem refused to sign an autograph for him as a child, reporters who begged to get a closer introspective roused that he was distant and uncooperative.

They clamored to shake hands and hug him after a hard fought basketball game, Kareem wanted to shower and go home.

This is a man who was far more intelligent than your avid jock. He read books and studied the history of such men as Wild Bill Hickock, Thelonious Monk all while absorbing musicians such as Quincy Jones, Miles Davis, Herbie Hancock, Freddie Hubbard, Count Basie, Sarah Vaughn.

His game trumpeted over all others as his trademark sky hook played out in a symphonic rhythm that gracefully carried teams in Milwaukee and Los Angeles to NBA championships.

Kareem was the centerpiece to it all. The mastery of Oscar Roberson with the Bucks and then Magic Johnson of the ‘Showtime’ Lakers were glue sticks.

Magic was a wide-eyed freak point guard at 6’8 and Kareem who undoubtedly only found peace when the lights were lit at the Great Western Forum, was a sight to behold.

Pat Riley emerged from the broadcast booth and rode those giant shoulders to a Hall of Fame coaching career.

Magic, or Buck as he was called then gave ‘The Big Fella” a reason to smile, albeit reluctantly.

Through the aperture of his eyes through sweat-fogged goggles, Kareem saw the world and America for what it was, unapologetic to his kind, but instead of fighting it, he studied.

While Malcolm X was being gunned down by one of his own, Kareem prayed. When Dr. King was being hosed and jailed, he solemnly prayed.

Kareem refused to subject himself as a basketball lab rat that would be queried by white journalists who later aspired to be his friend.

What others say made him aloof and distant also made him great.

This week his bronze statue comes during a time when he is so removed from the game of basketball as a Cultural Ambassador to the United States.

Then on Saturday he will be celebrated in a roast that will benefit his Skyhook Foundation at the Ritz Carlton. Funnyman George Lopez will host the all-star gala and Magic will be among the guests.

Kareem Abdul Jabbar’s legacy was secure a long time ago before his famed number 33 was retired to the rafters at Staples.

Photo Credit: AP Photo

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November 15, 2012

By LARRY LAGE 

Associated Press

Hall of Fame trainer Emanuel Steward was celebrated by boxing royalty and the Queen of Soul at a star-studded memorial service Tuesday November 13 in the Motor City.

Steward, the man who made the Kronk Gym famous, died of colon cancer last month at the age of 68.

His family took its time to plan a memorial befitting a beloved public figure — and it was a hit.

Champions he trained — including Thomas Hearns, Lennox Lewis, Wladimir Klitschko and Evander Holyfield — one he worked out only briefly — Sugar Ray Leonard — and another he didn’t train at all — Roy Jones Jr. — all paid their respects.

“What a spectacular turnout of support,” HBO Sports commentator Jim Lampley said. “Over here, you have a section that I would call the Hall of Fame section. You would have to go to Canastota (N.Y.) in midsummer to the Hall of Fame to see anything even remotely approaching this group.

“There are five legitimate heavyweight champions sitting in the first two rows and the No. 1 pound-for-pound fighter in the world.”

And if that wasn’t impressive enough, Aretha Franklin sang a stirring rendition of “I’ll Fly Away” in front of a few thousand witnesses at Greater Grace Temple. Franklin, a friend of Steward’s in Detroit for decades, said she wouldn’t have missed the memorial for anything.

“He had a million-dollar smile you couldn’t deny,” Franklin told The Associated Press from her front-row seat. “I’m so glad he made the Kronk Gym what it was, helping countless young boys become men and many amateurs become champions.”

The city closed the original Kronk Recreation Center — a hot, sweaty basement gym — after vandals stole its copper piping in 2006. It was allowed to remain open, but it put Steward in a difficult financial situation and he later rented space at a gym in Dearborn so his young fighters could train.

Now, there isn’t a Kronk Gym anywhere — and his family is hoping to change that.

“We closed it after he passed, but we’re going to restructure it and we want it done correctly,” Sylvia Steward-Williams told The AP, sitting in her father’s second-floor office at his brick home on Detroit’s west side. “We want to get a good foundation, like it was in the beginning, and build it back up.”

Steward, who was born in West Virginia in 1944 and moved 11 years later to the Motor City, trained boxers born and raised in Detroit such as Hearns. He was hired by boxers from all over the globe.

Lewis was trained by Steward from 1994 to 2004, a period that included victories over Holyfield and Mike Tyson.

“I’ve been interviewed by a lot of TV stations around the world, they have put Emanuel Steward a league of great trainers,” Lewis said. “And I say he is the greatest trainer that ever lived.”

Steward was an accomplished amateur boxer who chose to become a coach in the ring, starting in 1971 with a part-time position at Kronk for $35 per week.

Hearns put the gym — and the trainer affectionately called Manny — on the map. Hearns was the first man to win titles in four divisions and he won five overall.

The boxer known as Hitman lost some of his most famous bouts. Hearns was knocked out in the 14th round by Leonard in 1981 — a fight that Steward later said was the most painful experience of his life — and was on the short end of a three-round fight with Marvin Hagler in 1985 that is considered one of the best bouts in history.

On an emotional day, which started in the morning with family, close friends and former fighters gathering at two homes Steward owned, Hearns was so overcome with emotion when he stepped up to the pulpit that he had to step back, wipe tears off his cheeks and gather himself.

“If it wasn’t for Emanuel Steward, it would be very difficult to be where I am today,” Hearns said. "He wasn’t just a trainer to me, he was like a dad."

Jones was trained by his father, and he told the AP he wished his mother hadn't talked him out of hiring Steward to be his trainer when he turned pro.

When Jones got behind the microphone at the memorial, he compared Steward to Michael Jordan and Barry Sanders — one-of-a-kind talents that can’t be replaced — and said he has always carried a red-and-yellow Kronk Gym bag to every fight.

“There was no other gym on the planet that produced that much talent,” he said. “I may not be a Kronk fighter by contact, but by heart I am.”

Steward suffered cardiac arrest while he was hospitalized near Chicago last month, and it proved too much to overcome as he also fought cancer. Just three days after retaining his three heavyweight titles in Germany, Klitschko traveled to Detroit with fresh bruises and cuts on his face to honor Steward, his trainer and friend.

“Emanuel Steward lives in the hearts of each of us,” he said. "Not just the people present in this room — the people around the world.”

Klits­chko’s new trainer is fellow heavyweight Johnathon Banks, a Detroit native who was trained by Steward. When Banks arrived at Steward’s house on Tuesday, Sylvia Steward-Williams hugged him and shared four words that left him in awe.

“It’s your time now,” the trainer’s eldest daughter whispered in his ear.

“I never expected that to come out of her mouth, especially to me,” he said softly. “But those are shoes that will never be filled. There’s no replacement for Emanuel. I’m just pouring water on the seed he already planted.”

A private dinner and party in Detroit followed the service.

 

 

 

 

SP-Steward7.jpg

 

AP Photo/Carlos Osorio

A poster honoring boxing trainer Emanuel Steward and the boxers he trained is seen in the trainer’s office in Detroit.

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November 08, 2012

By MICHAEL MAROT Associated Press

 

Indiana needs to find a long-term replacement for Danny Granger.

Team officials announced Wednesday that the one-time All-Star forward is expected to miss up to three months after receiving an injection in his left knee to treat patellar tendinosis.

Losing Granger for an extended period is a big blow for a team that entered this season hoping to contend for an Eastern Conference title. He was the Pacers’ top scorer last season (18.7 points) and is typically their first option in late-game situations, too.

All the Pacers can do now is move on.

“We still have a heck of a team,” coach Frank Vogel said before Saturday night’s home opener. “We’ve still got a great deal of talent, a great deal of depth. So my hopes are very high that we’ll excel without Danny.”

Granger originally hurt the knee during May’s playoff run. Vogel said the soreness dissipated for a while, then returned while Granger was working out during the offseason.

In September, Granger said he underwent blood-platelet treatment, which he described as a painful experience that could take months to fully heal.

“It hurts,” Granger said in mid-October. “They take the blood out and inject it back in, so it hurts. But it helps you heal tremendously.”

Apparently, Granger hasn’t reaped those benefits yet. He has not played in any of Indiana’s first four regular season games, though he did make one preseason appearance. At Cleveland, on Oct. 23, Granger scored nine points in 13 minutes.

Without him, things haven't always gone smoothly.

The Pacers (2-2) are averaging 20.3 turnovers a game, a number Vogel has already acknowledged needs to be cut significantly.

Vogel is also trying to figure out lineups and rotations without Granger. Gerald Green, signed as a free agent in the offseason, started the first three games. He’s scoring 9.8 points and grabbing 4.3 rebounds, but giving up 2.5 turnovers per game. On Monday night at San Antonio, Sam Young moved into the starting lineup and finished with three points and three rebounds in a 101-79 loss.

Granger's absence has been more notable in the closing moments of games.

Indiana looked out of sync in the final minute last Friday at Charlotte and couldn’t take advantage of several chances to win at lowly Charlotte. Instead, they wound up losing 90-89 — the Bobcats’ first win in 24 games. The next night, against Sacramento, Indiana missed two shots at the end of regulation and two more at the end of the first overtime before finally getting past Sacramento 106-98 in double overtime.

Even opponents have noticed a difference.

“Maybe if you have him (Granger) he closes that (Charlotte) game out,” Kings coach Keith Smart said. “Not having your go-to guy can change a lot of things.”

But instead of building this team around a superstar, the Pacers decided to reinforce their bench. They’re hoping that will take them go deeper into the playoffs than last season’s second-round exit against Miami.

That decision could serve them well now.

David West, Paul George and George Hill are all scoring in double figures. All-Star center Roy Hibbert is averaging 8.8 points 7.8 rebounds and 3.3 blocks. And Tyler Hansbrough and Lance Stephenson have given the Pacers good minutes off the bench.

So Vogel remains optimistic.

Granger has averaged 18.2 points and 5.2 rebounds in seven NBA seasons.

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