August 30, 2012

BY KENNETH MILLER

LA Watts Times Correspondent

 

Although the city of Los Angeles has been without a National Football League team since the Raiders followed the Rams right out of town in 1995, L.A. born players will be most prominent and dominant this season in both the NFL and collegiate ranks.

More players born in Los Angeles will wear NFL uniforms than any other city, with an estimated 114 on rosters opening day. On the college circuit the top team in the nation is bowl eligible USC.

While you are channel surfing throughout this football season, you are likely to see some of these local African American players shine in the colors of their team.

 

NNAMDI ASOMUGHA/EAGLES

If the Raiders never turn their fortunes around he will not be the single reason, but when the late Al Davis allowed for this pure cover corner to leave via free agency you knew the old man had lost it.

Although he was born in Louisiana, he is Nigerian. He attended Bishop Montgomery, Leuzinger and Narbonne before signing with Cal Berkeley.

His 15 career picks is not close to describing how valuable a player he is which is why the Eagles paid $60 mil to get him. If he does his thing Philly can live up to expectations.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

KEJON BARNER/OREGON

If you want to know why Oregon didn’t even flinch when their most productive offensive players from 2011 bolted to the pros, you need to look no further than the return of   this senior power runner who hails from Lynwood. He rushed for 123 carries on just 15 carries against USC last season while averaging 8 yards per carry.

Here is why Oregon will scare the scarlet and gold out of USC.

 

JARED BELL/COLORADO

Born in Pasadena. His dad, Richard Bell, was a wing back at Nebraska and was drafted by the Pittsburgh Steelers in the 1990 NFL draft, where he played for one season as a running back.  He is also related to former Major League Baseball star Darryl Strawberry who won four World Series titles with the New York Mets and New York Yankees and was an eight-time All-Star during his 17-year career. Young Jared is a defensive back for the Buffs and planning to make his own headlines this season.

 

 

JOSELIO HANSON/ PHILADELPHIA EAGLES

Bet you probably didn’t know the success of the ‘Dream Team’ would probably be riding on the trusted shoulders of an unheralded corner back from Inglewood who prepped at St Bernard.

Hanson didn’t even make the team in high school as a junior, but helped the Vikings excel as a senior.  Despite not being recruited by the big boys, he went to El Camino College, was an undrafted rookie to make an impression with the 49ers before being cut and now has a two-year deal with the Eagles. Hard work pays off.

Donald Penn played at Utah St. and Jose Hanson played at Texas Tech and El Camino Community College.

 

 

MARQISE LEE/USC

Matt Barkley could have been the second pick in the 2012 NFL draft, but decided to remain a Trojan probably because there are not better receivers in the NFL than he has on his team.

One of them is this elite high flyer that caught 73 passes for 1143 yards and 11 touchdowns, as a FRESHMAN! He also ran for another 285 on returns and another score.

This super sensational sophomore from Serra High School in Gardena already has NFL scouts drooling and agents lining up at his doorstep. A three-sport star at Serra where he was exceptional in football, basketball and world class in track is off the charts and reason for the Trojan horse to get in shape for this campaign.

 

DESEAN JACKSON/ EAGLES

DJ has always been a bonafide star from the moment he took flight playing for local powerhouse Long Beach Poly where he led the Jackrabbits to the CIF Southern Section title as a senior in 2004. He was an MVP in the Army Under Armour All American game the same year he got away to Cal, a mistake USC and UCLA never quite recovered from.

Even after starring at Cal and giving SC and the Bruins nightmares he lasted until the second round where he was nabbed by the Eagles and has been their go to wide out ever since.

He took last season off from the field, dismayed that he wasn’t rewarded with a sizeable contract that he subsequently got this year.

Born and raised in Los Angeles he has caught passes for more than 4,000 yards and scored 21 touchdowns during a brief three-year career. The sky is the limit for him and he knows it and with the cash in the bag, he has no more excuses to point at.  A two-time Pro Bowler already he could be aimed towards Canton when its all said and done.

 

 

DONALD PENN/TAMPA BAY BUCS

Here is another St. Bernard Viking that went undrafted, but is currently starting offensive line in the NFL. Further proof that if you are good enough the NFL will find you. He went to Utah State before the Minnesota Vikings signed him, made the Pro Bowl in 2010 and is now the primary protector of quarterback Josh Freeman.

 

 

 

STEVE SMITH/ PANTHERS

Only one of 35 NFL players to achieve more than 10, 000 receiving yards with 59 touchdowns and six TD returns on kickoffs for the only team he has ever played for during an illustrious 11 year NFL career. A Los Angeles native who attended University High before going to Santa Monica College and earning a scholarship to the University of Utah, he is everything that DeSean Jackson wants to be. Durable and a fiery competitor who is a five time Pro Bowl selection. Undoubtedly the most accomplished football player on this list. Cam Newton threw to him 29 times for 1,394 yards and six touchdowns in ’11 and there is no reason not to expect more from the duo this season.

 

DEANTHONY THOMAS/ OREGON

When Snoop Dogg gives you a nickname then you must be really something! The Black Mamba electrified crowds while at Crenshaw where he played three positions, running back defensive back and wide receiver in addition to returning kicks. Not to mention that he ran a blistering 20-second 200 meters for the Cougars track team. He could have been the reason the USC football program never recovered from probation if not for Lee and Woods, but Oregon is sure as heck happy he decided to come there.

As a true freshman for Oregon he amassed a staggering 2,235 all-purpose yards, while his season haul of 18 touchdowns reset the school record for number of touchdowns by a true freshman.

He turned in a stellar two touchdown, 314 all-purpose yard performances in the Rose Bowl that helped propel Oregon to a 45-38 victory over Wisconsin. In that game, his 91-yard touchdown run broke the previous Rose Bowl record for the longest run from scrimmage. His only other carry in that game resulted in a 64-yard score, giving him a 77.5-yard average for the mention. The Heisman trophy is next!

 

DELANIE WALKER /SAN FRANCISCO 49ers

Another Los Angeles native flying under the radar in the Bay. A sixth round draft pick by the Niners in 2006, he played high school ball at Pomona High, went to Mr. San Antonio College and then Central Missouri. A tightend with a wide receivers speed, which makes for him a difficult cover in the West Coast offense. A name to be reckoned with on the upstart 49ers.

 

ROBERT WOODS/ USC

The other tandem in that dynamic duo at USC that just would not allow for Barkley to leave for the riches of the NFL. Born in Gardena where he also attended Serra High School where he starred in football and played basketball. A year ahead of Lee and will probably leave with his quarterback to the NFL following what should be a banner season. Has 176 catches for more than 2,000 yards receiving in career at SC.

 

HAYES PULLARD/USC

This rugged albeit versatile linebacker who played on the same high school team with DeAnthony Thompson is a NFL prototype who runs well from sideline to side line and is a big play threat. He played on the offensive backfield and on defense for Robert Garrett at Crenshaw and had 12 solo tackles against Oregon in 2011. Undoubtedly a major defensive anchor for the No. 1 ranked Trojans whose future is well beyond the collegiate ranks. Born and raised in Inglewood, he is just additional proof that with or without an NFL team, we got pros playing here!

Parent Category: News
Category: Sports

August 30, 2012

By JEFF LATZKE

Associated Press

 

Supporters of an Oklahoma State basketball player convicted of sexually assaulting two women at a party say he’s a victim of misidentification in a case with no physical evidence.

One of the women says she’s infuriated by the people who are “blindly” supporting Darrell Williams “without knowing the facts of what happened that night.”

Now a judge is considering whether to give him a new trial. Judge Phillip Corley delayed Williams’ sentencing on Friday August 24 so he can consider a defense motion claiming that new evidence had been found. The defense motion says the new evidence could have impeached a witness and changed the outcome of the trial.

A jury found Williams guilty last month of sexual battery and two counts of rape by instrumentation, all felonies, and recommended one-year prison sentences for each of the rape counts. Williams was also acquitted of two additional counts of rape by instrumentation.

The judge’s decision last Friday was a glimmer of hope celebrated by his family and the Rev. Jesse Jackson, who came to Stillwater to speak on Williams’ behalf and draw attention to a case he believes to be flawed.

“If there is another trial, it will be more transparent — more people watching it in the courtroom and from around the nation,” Jackson said outside the courthouse.

Williams’ attorneys have cast doubt on the case from the outset, arguing that there was no physical evidence, such as a rape kit or DNA, and neither of the accusers suffered any injuries or had their clothes damaged.

It’s not clear what new evidence defense attorneys have. Williams’ attorneys, Cheryl Ramsey and Willie Baker, declined comment, and Jackson said the judge was keeping it under seal. Prosecutor Jill Tontz and Oklahoma State coach Travis Ford have both said they will not comment until after the sentencing.

Corley set a Sept. 14 hearing on the defense motion. In the meantime, Williams will remain in the Payne County Jail.

Williams enrolled at Oklahoma State in Stillwater — a town tucked away on the high prairie — after his brother was shot to death on Chicago’s South Side in 2009. His family hoped the move would keep him out of danger. Armed with big dreams and a knack for the game, Williams made the most of his time at OSU, leading the team in rebounding and averaging more than 7 points a game in 2010.

That all changed at an off-campus party after a home game in December 2010.

As Williams has been in jail awaiting sentencing, several websites and Facebook pages have popped up in support of him, along with an online petition urging the judge to suspend his sentence.

One of Williams’ accusers blasted some of his supporters who believe race played a role in his conviction or that she and the other victim had something to gain by coming forward. Williams is black, while his accusers and 11 of the 12 jurors are white.

“That’s ignorance for people to say this is a race thing,” she said in an interview earlier this week. “It’s not about race; it’s about rape. He raped two girls.”

The AP typically does not identify victims of sexual assault.

Williams’ lawyers claim their client passed two lie-detector tests conducted by a State Bureau of Investigation examiner that were not admitted into evidence. They also contend the identification process — which involved the women picking Williams out of an Oklahoma State team photograph at the police station — was improper.

Jackson and members of Williams’ family, including his mother, were allowed to visit with him in jail after the hearing.

“I was glad to see my son. He had that big smile like he always did,” Williams’ mother, Alice Williams, said. “It was a good day.”

Jackson said Williams enrolled in classes at Oklahoma State last Friday. School spokesman Gary Shutt confirmed that Williams was signing up for classes and said he would have to work with a faculty member to arrange how he would do his coursework while he’s incarcerated.

A pre-sentencing report filed in court showed that Williams had a 2.7 grade-point average after the spring semester and had completed 88 credit hours. Jackson said Williams intends to graduate in December.

Parent Category: News
Category: Sports

August 23, 2012

By ANDREW SELIGMAN Associated Press

 

Michael and Magic versus Kobe and LeBron?

Sounds like a dream match up, and it could be coming to a video game console near you.

With USA Basketball and 2K Sports forming a partnership, fans can see what happens when the amazing 1992 Dream Team goes up against this year’s Olympic gold medal winner once NBA 2K13 hits the shelves this fall.

Never mind that it’s not quite the real thing, more fuel is about to be added to the debate. Not that there really is a debate in Michael Jordan’s mind.

“We’ll never know, but let’s talk about it,” Jordan said on a conference call. “I know Kobe (Bryant) said some things early on and I responded to those. The ’92 Dream Team, I felt, was a more well-rounded basketball team.”

It’s hard to argue, considering the 1992 Dream Team had Jordan, Magic Johnson and Larry Bird leading a group that is widely considered the greatest collection of talent ever assembled. That team included 11 future Hall of Famers, won its six Olympic games by an average of more than 43 points en route to the gold medal and never was challenged the way this year’s team was by Spain in the gold medal game, with the Americans squeezing out a 107-100 victory.

Then again, that’s a testament to the global growth of the sport that the 1992 team spurred, leading to an influx of foreign talent in the NBA.

The ’92 team boasted arguably the greatest player of all time in Jordan and greatest point guard in Magic Johnson, not to mention Larry Bird and dominant centers in Patrick Ewing and David Robinson. If the most recent group had a weakness, it was in the middle, with Dwight Howard, Chris Bosh and Blake Griffin sitting out with injuries. Throw in the fact that Dwyane Wade and Derrick Rose missed the games, too, and the Americans weren't quite fully loaded.

Still, they brought plenty of ammunition to London, with LeBron James, Kevin Durant and Bryant leading the way. And even with some stars missing, there still was talk that this year’s team could be as good as the one that stormed through Barcelona two decades earlier. Bryant fueled the debate when he told reporters during training in Las Vegas they could take a game from the 1992 team if they met in their primes.

Even though Bryant didn’t say the current stars would win a series, the comment drew sharp replies from members of the 1992 team. Jordan told The Associated Press back then that he “absolutely laughed” and said there’s “no comparison” which team is better.

This time, he wasn’t quite as blunt.

“I just felt like we had enough size that we could contend with the 2012 team,” Jordan said. “I think one of the things the 2012 team lacked was size. We probably would have attacked them from inside and outside, and our defense would have been pretty much solidified with the shot-blockers as well as perimeter defensive players.

“I think those guys were much more athletic than maybe we were at that particular point, but I would like to think we were a little bit smarter and well-groomed about playing at that level of basketball. Honestly, I don’t think we would have had problems with them as much as they probably would have had (with us). I think our team would have been a lot better in terms of all-around basketball.”

There’s no way to know for sure, of course. There’s no time machine that can transport the 1992 team to today or the 2012 team back 20 years, so the video game might be the next best thing. If nothing else, it’ll give the debate another platform once the game is released on Oct. 2.

The idea of seeing Jordan going against Kobe or James should intrigue fans, even if they’re the ones at the controls and the players are in graphic form. Right?

The numbers indicate they would. Jason Argent, 2K Sports’ vice president of marketing, said he didn’t have the online statistics but the company sold about 5.5 million units of the 2K11 game, and another 4 million units for the 2K12 game, which was impacted by last season’s NBA lockout lockout.

Even so, the company wasn’t planning to include the 1992 and 2012 U.S. teams.

He said Jay-Z provided the push.

The rapper and part-owner of the Brooklyn Nets is serving as the game’s executive producer, and he insisted in a meeting that those Olympic teams be included. He also helped get Charles Barkley to sign on and be included.

“He put in a call to Charles, himself, and helped us work an agreement to use him in the game,” Argent said.

One player who won’t be represented in the game is Scottie Pippen. Argent said they simply couldn’t reach an agreement.

As for which team was better — 1992 or 2012? Jordan thinks it’s just beginning.

“The only way it can end is to lace them back up and play against them in 2012, but I don’t think that’s going to happen,” Jordan said, laughing. “Just let the debate begin.”

Parent Category: News
Category: Sports

August 23, 2012

By Kenneth Miller

LA Watts Times Columnist

[Editor’s note: Ken Miller is an award winning veteran journalist who spent 30 years writing for the L.A. Sentinel and has been a popular guest on local sports talk radio for several years. This is the first edition of his weekly sports column.]

My main man, boxing promoter Don King celebrated his 81st birthday on Monday August 20 and this week I wanted to take the opportunity to reflect on the friendship that I had with the ‘Only in America’ man.

While his famed spiked hair is losing its pointing crowns, and his gait has been slowed tremendously by aging legs that have to carrying a belly of pork barbeque and soul food, his mind is as sharp as ever.

I first met DK in 1992 and while sitting in his Wilshire Blvd. condominium the first video of the Rodney King beating was revealed.

Personally, I didn’t think it was such a big deal at the time because I had witnessed brothers getting clubbed by the po-po many times, but the wisdom of King saw that this was a watershed moment in African American history.

King stopped what he was doing and then contemplated what he should personally do.

“Man, I think I need to reach out to the brother and offer some help,” he thought.

“But if I did they would ridicule the f--- outta me and say that I am doing it for selfish promotional reasons.”

So, like many of us who were rendered powerless by the now infamous video, King did nothing, but hope and pray that justice would be served.

Eventually it was served, but Rodney King’s brush with the law ill afforded him with money and fame. He died broke earlier this year with his infamy intact.

During the same day King was being accused by then LSU basketball coach Dale Brown of tampering and trying to recruit a young man-child basketball star named Shaquille O’Neal.

Brown was threatening DK with lawsuits and his reputation would be scorned.

He pleaded with anyone in the room to put a stop to this. Just happened that I met Dale Brown through the recruitment of Crenshaw star John Williams and I was able to get the matter squashed.

Brown had promised me a scholarship to LSU if JW had went there, but he never fulfilled the promise. Like most college basketball coaches: worthless as a used car salesman.

In subsequent years I took my first trip out of the U.S. courtesy of DK when he brought me to Mexico to witness the epic Julio Ceasar Chavez in Azteca Stadium in front of 132,000.

There would be other moments like when I brought him Tony Tucker after he had been out of the ring and addicted to drugs for more than two years and DK gave him three shots at the heavyweight world title of which he won zero.

Then there were the Tyson times when the dough was really rolling, and even during the most difficult time of my life DK stood up for me.

I remember a time when he was almost brought down to tears when the press ridiculed him so bad.

“I have a family and I have kids and grandchildren! Don’t they give a damn?”

Most people reflect on many of the negative aspects of DK’s professional and public persona, but get closer and there is a soft and cuddly side to him.

Now, I am not going to tell you that he doesn’t love money.

But, he lost close to a million in profits when a local street agent ran off with a deal he made for former Clippers bum Benoit Benjamin.

He could have represented both Venus and Serena Williams, but turned it down and instead quietly supported the family without reservation.

DK bought the tennis-playing girls their first soul food meal from Maes on Crenshaw Blvd back in the day.

The first clothes they wore in a public tennis match were oversized DK T-shirts and black tennis skirts he bought.

Now, the headquarters at DKP is quiet on most days. The only buzz in the office is his.

His stable of fighters has diminished to a fraction of a few.

The bold face 72 pt. font headlines, a distant memory.

A year ago, he lost his best friend when his wife Henrietta passed.

She was the only person who could ever check him, and she might be the only person that he fully ever respected.

He took a jab at Mayweather to get back on top of the boxing game, but haters be damned he came up short.

Far from finished, but also far from his humble beginnings and mega paydays of years gone by.

I spoke with DK on his birthday and sang a song to him. We laughed and joked about the good ol days and remembered some sad ones.

His beak just as sharp as yester-year.

He was on his way to Ohio to visit the gravesite of his wife.

“I’m going to have a talk with Henri,” he said.

Just like it used to be, but this time his best friend can only listen…

Parent Category: News
Category: Sports

August 16, 2012

 

By Kenneth Miller

 

LA Watts Times Correspondent

 

 

 

From Watts to South Central, Inglewood, to Hawthorne and beyond, Lakers fans are rejoicing in the acquisition of superstar big man Dwight Howard joining the storied local basketball franchise.

 

It is one of those moments that sort of transcends your normal sports story. Not as important as the Martin Luther King assassination or the presidential election of Barack Obama, but you remember where you were when you heard about it.

 

I was sitting in Fridays on La Tijera waiting to be seated when the noise erupted. The Olympics were on the television screen and some obscure divers were in the pool, but it was all about Dwight.

 

“We Got Him!” Laker fans are not your normal breed. They don’t recognize the word pessimistic in the dictionary. They are always going to win the NBA championship. They actually HATE every other team in the league and the Celtics even more.

 

Winning 16 NBA championships and playing in 31 Finals will have that impact on you. Jerry, Kareem, Wilt, Shaq, Elgin, Magic, Phil, Chick, Pat, it is an association that is THE ASSOCIATION.

 

So, here’s hoping that Dwight Howard realizes what he’s getting into by being traded to the Lakers from the Orlando Magic.

 

Laker fans are glad to know that you have been enjoying the shopping in Beverly Hills, the beaches in Malibu, the clubs in Hollywood and the adulation that has been rushed upon you.

 

They were thrilled to see you smiling at the introductory presser while mocking Kobe and embracing the opportunity of winning a championship.

 

They will be ecstatic when you put that Lakers uniform on for the first time whether it be in December or January.

 

These fans are not really even tripping about your next contract with the Lakers after the season is over… That is if you don’t win a championship.

 

You see, Dwight, as young as you are and as talented as you are, this whole big deal is just really about one small thing. A CHAMPIONSHIP!

 

The Lakers are like the Yankees in baseball, they realize that going to the playoffs and finishing in the conference finals as you did in Orlando is not good enough here.

 

Being an NBA All Star six consecutive years and three times Defensive Player of the Year are nice accolades, but pale in comparison to what the big prize is here.

 

Shaquille O’Neal understood that and no matter how much he despised Kobe he didn’t allow for it to get in the way of him winning three NBA championships here.

 

We know how hard it was for you to accept the path that Shaq took to title town, but what options did you really have? New Jersey? Oh we swept them in the Finals in their only shot. Houston? You mean our stepchildren in the West?

 

Listen carefully, Dwight! We are not concerned about your baby momma drama and three kids out of wedlock, it’s clear you are not the choirboy I first met when you were in high school and your Christian values have been challenged.

 

However, we gave up the future of our franchise Andrew Bynum because we believe that you are better.

 

Fact is your numbers indicate that you are an absolute MONSTER.

 

That is why the rest of the NBA is crying foul, questioning the integrity of the league because the Lakers are now such an overwhelming favorite to win the NBA championship next year.

 

There will be no stage and dancing to the tune of “Not ONE, Not TWO…” This is about 17, 18, 19 20.

 

I am sure you get the drift.

 

So,  here  is to inform you that city officials have already been contacted as to the exact route of the parade next June, a half million  invitations will go out in the mail and the seat at the front of the bus is all yours…

 

Parent Category: News
Category: Sports

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