May 22, 2014

Associated Press 

 

Police had to intervene after Mario Balotelli was subjected to racist chants at Italy’s World Cup training base on Wednesday May 21.

 

Kids outside the Coverciano complex were responsible for the chants, and Balotelli appeared visibly disturbed.

 

The training session was open to media, and Balotelli could be heard saying as he ran by reporters, “Only in Rome and Florence are they that stupid.”

 

While most of the fans cheered for Balotelli, police approached the area where the chants came from and they quickly ended.

 

Balotelli was born in Sicily to Ghanaian immigrants and brought up by an Italian foster family. He has faced racist chants throughout his professional career.

 

“It’s unbelievable that in 2014 we still have this form of racism,” Balotelli’s fellow forward, Ciro Immobile, said. “It’s not great for the nation. We represent Italy.”

 

Immobile, from the Naples area, noted how insulting anti-Naples chants have pervaded Serie A stadiums recently.

 

“When I hear that it saddens me, because I have a lot of pride in my city,” Immobile said.

 

Balotelli was also the focus of much speculation on racist abuse before the 2012 European Championship, and UEFA placed spotters inside stadiums, resulting in fan behavior by Spain and Croatia being sanctioned.

 

FIFA claims it will have zero tolerance for racism at the World Cup but has not announced plans yet on how it will control behavior inside stadiums.

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May 15, 2014

By Kenneth Miller 

Assistant Managing Editor 

 

After waxing off Riverside Mexican Chris Arreola in a 6th round TKO to capture the prestigious WBC heavyweight championship, 35-year old Bermane Stiverne says he didn’t know what he was feeling.

 

“I first of all want to thank my lord and savior Jesus Christ, but I can’t explaine how or what I am feeling right now,” said the Haitian born, Las Vegas based champion.

 

Stiverne gave Don King another heavyweight champion and thrust the legendary promoter back into the bright lights of the sport of boxing.

 

The first fight was in the history of the USC campus arena at the school which owns the ‘Fight On’ moniker.

 

It took about six minutes for the rematch to heat up, but it was clear after the first round that it was not going to last the scheduled 12 rounds.

 

After an uneventful opening round, Stiverne took the best Chris Arreola had to offer without going down, and then in the six round, Stiverne heated up the stiff jab and caught then a looming game changing over hand  right that sent the Arreola  sprawling to the canvas.

 

A game Arreola wobbled to his feet, but it was just a matter of time before the nightmare became a reality for him. Stiverne pounced and delivered the closing shots.

 

Now, with the heavyweight champ in tow, one who lives in America and is Black from Haiti, King can now begin flex his muscles again and his champ can ignite that for him.

 

While many of the local boxing fans came to the USC Galen center to watch the WBC Heavyweight Championship showdown, the unblemished rising star on the card was Amir Iman at 140 pounds.

 

Iman, fighting out of Florida and by way of Albany New York, improved to 12-0, with an impressive veteran like unanimous decision over rugged Cuban Olympian Yordnis Ugas.

 

Promoted by legendary icon Don King, Iman was precision accurate, rifling jabs and busting Yordis up with rocket right hands with regularly.

 

The 23-year old is the most polished young fighter that King has had since International Boxing Hall of Fame inductees Felix Trinidad.

 

The bout was his first outside of four rounds (an 8 round attraction), but chances are he will be a terror at 140 and potential champion at 147 down the road.

 

 

 

PHOTO:  SP-STIVERNE-SCROLL.jpg

 

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May 01, 2014

By STEVE REED

Associated Press

 

Dwyane Wade will have a chance to rest those sore knees and that tight hamstring.

And LeBron James can ice up his thigh contusion.

The Miami Heat earned a little extra rest and relaxation after completing a four-game sweep of the Charlotte Bobcats with a 109-98 victory Monday night.

With Toronto and Brooklyn tied at 2-2 in their series, it could be until Sunday before Miami knows its second-round opponent. That would mean at least a week off for the two-time defending NBA champions.

“I’m sure our guys will love it, but the most important thing is that we have the chance to move on,” Heat coach Erik Spoelstra said.

Miami is the only team that can say that.

No other NBA team has closed out its opponent, and only the Heat swept their series.

“Nothing is guaranteed,” Spoelstra said. “Some people that are cynical may look at this as a 2-7 (seed) matchup and say they were supposed to win 4-0. It's not working that way in this league. ... We understand how tough it is to win in this league.”

They also know how to win titles.

It’s the second straight year the Heat swept their opening-round series.

“We have been here before, we have learned some lessons from last year, and that is the best part of it,” Chris Bosh said. “I think we will handle it better this time.”

Miami Heat’s LeBron James grimaces after being injured during the second half in Game 4 of an op …

In many ways, the Bobcats might have been just what the Heat needed.

The Heat were challenged by a hungry Charlotte team, but were never in any real danger of losing the series.

So it gave them a chance to dip their feet once again into the playoff waters and the long, grueling run that awaits.

“We could tell we are working to get our rhythm back,” Wade said. “They pushed us. They’re a very competitive team, a very scrappy team, but we obviously felt we were the better team.”

James said the Heat improved with each passing game.

“The biggest thing I'm happy with is the way we protected the ball,” said James, who scored 31 points and had nine assists in closing out the Bobcats. “When we don’t turn it over, we’re able to set our defense up and get good shots.”

That was a concern at the end of the season.

James said the Heat did a “horrible” job of protecting the ball in March and April. Yet the team that has now won nine straight playoff series was able to flip the switch and win the turnover battle with the Bobcats.

“When we don’t turn it over, we give our offense a great chance to succeed and our team a chance to win games,” James said.

James was injured in Game 4 when he drove to the basket and his right thigh collided with Bismack Biyombo’s knee. He remained on the ground as concerned teammates gathered around.

He said he will be fine for the next round.

After the game Monday, James received congratulations from Bobcats owner Michael Jordan, who has two three-peat titles under his belt.

James is in search of his first triple this season.

“It’s a process, and we’re headed in the right direction,” James said. “This is a great direction after these four games. We played championship-level basketball and that was great. We got tested by a very young and scrappy Bobcats team. The way we responded was a championship attitude.”

But he cautioned they will have to play better in the next round.

“We can’t win in the next round playing like we did in this round,” James said. “We’re looking forward to finding out who our next opponent is and preparing for them.”

In the meantime they will have plenty of time to rest up and think about what must be done to move on to the Eastern Conference finals.

“I think it helps,” Udonis Haslem said of the rest. “You want to get through healthy. We did that. Two, you want to get some guys that may be logging major minutes some rest and, you know, help guys take care of some bumps and bruises. And that’s what we were able to do.”

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May 08, 2014

 

By Kenneth D. Miller

Assistant Managing Editor

 

Their human dignity challenged by the racial epithets of embattled owner Donald T. Sterling, the predominantly African American Los Angeles Clippers NBA basketball team will return to Staples Center on Friday May 9 with a new mettle and mindset.

 

Two weeks after Sterling was banned for life from the NBA and forced to sell the team, coach Doc Rivers has become part ambassador, part physiologist, father and brother to his millionaire players in his quest to keep Los Angeles’ new marquee team on a championship mission.

 

Rivers, who is in his first season as coach of the team after arriving from Boston where he spent nine seasons and captured an NBA title with the Celtics, has long been considered a great coach, but now is a symbol in basketball similar to what Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. was to the civil rights movement.

 

He refused to speak to Sterling prior to the owner’s ban, pushed his team to a gut wrenching seven games series victory over the defiant Golden State Warriors and this week began their Western Conference semifinals series with the high flying Oklahoma City Thunder with an emphatic game one victory 122-105 in OKC.

 

Meanwhile Sterling has vowed that he will fight the sale of his team, creating yet another inconvenient, and unnecessary obstacle for a team that has been so emotionally tormented that it is unconceivable they are still playing.

 

Point guard Chris Paul scored 32 points and passed for 10 assists in the game one win over the favored Thunder, star redhead Blake Griffin added 23 and newly crowned Sixth Man of the Year Jamal Crawford finished with 17 for the Clippers, the only team from the city that wears Los Angeles on the front of its road uniforms.

 

How the Clippers proceed from here is anyone’s guess, but after their team owner casted them off as slaves, degraded not just them as individuals but also their entire race and culture they have everything to gain and nothing to lose.

 

Thus they begin their second series playing loose and with a giant chip on their shoulders.

 

To a man and a team they have adopted the slogan “We Are One”, a rallying cry that began the day Sterling was banned.

 

The city of Los Angeles has joined them. This team that has never won an NBA championship. The team with the Black mascot, the team that has long been the laughing stock of the league because their owner didn’t want to spend money to compete. This team that has been the ugly stepsisters to the storied Lakers.

 

This is the team that now is capable of erasing all of that if they can continue on and win an NBA championship.

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May 01, 2014

Associated Press

 

Serena Williams’ father says he won’t return to Indian Wells, Calif., the site of a tournament his daughter has skipped since 2001, when their family was booed — and subjected to racial epithets, according to his new book.

“I would never go back,” Richard Williams said in a telephone interview.

But he added that it’s up to Serena whether to play at Indian Wells again.

“She was taught to make terrific decisions,” he said. “Any decision she makes, I would be behind, 1,000 percent.”

His book, “Black and White: The Way I See It,” comes out May 6. It goes into detail about how Indian Wells, in his words, “disgraced America.”

Serena was on the entry list for the event this year but withdrew, citing a back injury.

The book covers plenty of other ground, although there is not much that is revelatory about the professional tennis careers of Williams’ daughters Serena and Venus. He said he has another book, focused more on them, in the works.

First taught the game by their father, the sisters have won a combined 24 Grand Slam singles titles and have both been ranked No. 1.

“From the beginning, I decided that if people came to me later on and told me my daughters were great tennis players, I had failed,” he writes. “Success would be if they came up to me and said my daughters were great people.”

Written with Bart Davis, the 292-page “Black and White” reads as part autobiography, part parenting guide (“I feel that we’re way too soft on our children,” Williams says in Chapter 19), part self-help book, part tennis instructional manual.

“I released the book because Serena kept telling me to,” Williams said. “She thought it would help a lot of people.”

It is dedicated to his mother, and much of the early chapters concerns lessons she imparted to him and her influence on his life — and, by extension, his children's lives.

There are meditations on the American dream, ambition — and, above all, racism. The latter is the prism through which he learned to see the world and, as he repeatedly hammers home, still does to this day.

“If a person doesn’t know where they started from, they sure as heck don’t know where they’re going,” he said in the interview. “As they read, they can kind of relate more to who you are and where you’re from and where you’re going to.”

In the book, Williams explains how his world view was shaped by growing up in Louisiana and during his time in Chicago as a young man.

There are tales upon tales of run-ins with the police and confrontations with strangers, often ending in violence.

“I could not embrace a turn-the-other-cheek philosophy,” he writes.

At another point, he writes: “I became fascinated with stealing at the age of eight. I don’t know if the thrill was being able to get away with a crime, or that the crime was against the white man. Either way, it was the start of a prosperous career.”

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