October 11, 2012
Football may be in Usain Bolt's future.
The Olympic great says he might try his hand at the global game once he retires from track.
Bolt says, “I always wanted to try to play soccer. Maybe at the end of my career. It would be something that I would love to try. I watch it on TV and see these guys play. I play it all the time with my friends.”
Two days after saying he would like to defend his 100 and 200 meter titles at the 2016 Olympics in Rio de Janeiro, the 26-year-old Bolt says he may still branch out to other events.
Bolt says, “I could always try the 400 meters - which I don’t want to do.”
AP Photo/Kyodo News
Usain Bolt, left, gestures on his arrival at Narita international airport in Narita, near Tokyo Tuesday, Oct. 9, 2012.
October 11, 2012
By NOAH TRISTER (AP Sports Writer) The Associated Press
For about three weeks, Michigan fans wondered whether Trey Burke was going to turn pro.
If he did, the Wolverines would enter this season with a major hole to fill. If Burke stayed, Michigan would be among the favorites for the Big Ten title - and possibly an extended NCAA tournament run.
There didn't seem to be any middle ground.
Burke decided to put off the NBA and remain with the Wolverines, and sure enough, his team enters the season with high expectations. With Tim Hardaway Jr. and Jordan Morgan also back - and a highly touted recruiting class arriving - Michigan looks ready to contend for another conference crown after sharing the title last season.
''I'm pumped,'' Burke said. ''I'm really excited. The level of talent we have, I'm excited to see how far we can go.''
When Burke arrived last season, the Wolverines were trying to replace another star point guard after Darius Morris left for the NBA. Michigan didn't miss a beat. Burke was Michigan's scoring leader and provided an additional threat from 3-point range.
He looked comfortable in coach John Beilein's offense from the start, and his quickness made him a candidate to turn pro after only one season in college.
But after weighing his options, Burke announced he was staying - and suddenly the Wolverines looked like they could be loaded for this coming season.
''It was a hectic process, but I've been settled for a couple months now,'' Burke said at Michigan's media day on October 10. ''We're ready for practice to start.''
Michigan finished tied for first in the Big Ten, and although the Wolverines need to replace Zack Novak, Stu Douglass and Evan Smotrycz from last season's team, there's talk they could be even better now.
Burke says he worked on strengthening his lower body in the offseason. He's now listed at 6 feet, 190 pounds.
''I haven't put on that much weight,'' Burke said. ''I probably put on about two or three pounds, but I definitely can feel the difference.''
Burke averaged over 36 minutes a game last season, which indicates how hard he would have been to replace. He's indispensable in Beilein's system, which has been perimeter oriented over the years and involves plenty of 3-point attempts.
''He's involved in so many ball screens, and he's got the ball so much,'' Beilein said. ''The point guard has to be in a similar kind of shape I guess to a middle linebacker ... a running back who's running it 40 times a game.''
There weren't many weaknesses in Burke's game in 2011-12, and with another year of experience he might look even more comfortable when he takes the court this season.
The Wolverines may have a slightly different look. Freshman Mitch McGary gives Michigan another option inside, and the team as a whole may be able to do more damage in transition now.
''Last year, we weren't really as athletic as we are this year,'' Burke said. ''I think we're going to be a half-court team, but I think we're going to be able to get out and run more.''
Burke is impressive in transition, and Hardaway can also get out on the break. At 6-foot-8, forward Jordan Morgan runs very well for a big man.
Burke's return gives the Wolverines all sorts of options, and if he can build on his impressive freshman season, Michigan could have its best team in quite some time. Now a savvy sophomore, Burke has been working hard to prepare - and his teammates have noticed.
''Just being a smarter player,'' Morgan said. ''I know he's definitely put a focus on just trying to find his teammates, and I think just having a deeper understanding of the offense.''
October 04, 2012
By GREG BEACHAM (AP Sports Writer) | The Associated Press
EL SEGUNDO, Calif. (AP) -- Although Steve Nash has a Ph.D. in the pick-and-roll, he's spending this month as a freshman in Princeton.
The Princeton offense, that is. After 16 seasons and two MVP awards, the Los Angeles Lakers' new point guard is learning a new way to play.
The Lakers are incorporating major elements of the sophisticated ball-movement schemes collectively known as the Princeton offense into their game plan this fall, and Nash is largely in charge of making sure it works fluidly.
Along with new teammates and a new city, it all adds up to a busy October for a sharpshooting playmaker who's not coasting on his credentials as one of the greatest pick-and-roll artists of his generation.
''It's going to be a big transition for me, but one I'm excited to take on and be open-minded about,'' Nash said. ''I think that the beauty of this team is that we have a lot of guys that can make the defense pay. If we play together, and we space the floor, and we read and react, we can be a difficult team to cover.''
Eddie Jordan, the veteran coach who joined Mike Brown's staff as an assistant last month, is working with Nash to make it happen. Jordan is watching over every offensive drill in the first few days of training camp, consulting frequently with Nash and Kobe Bryant while correcting missteps by Pau Gasol, Metta World Peace and Dwight Howard.
''I don't think it's something that we'll really have to struggle through,'' Bryant said. ''It's a pretty seamless transition. ... I kind of relate it to the first year that Phil (Jackson) came here and put in the triangle offense. You had a lot of players that had high basketball IQ, and we just picked it up right away.''
The Princeton plan has similarities to the triangle offense, particularly in the read-and-react mentality necessary to make it work. Triangle veterans Bryant and Gasol already recognize much of what they're supposed to do, and everybody has played against the offense before.
Brown realizes he's taking a risk by installing the Lakers' third new offense in three years, but believes they have the veteran personnel to make it work.
''There's going to be some aspects of what we did last year involved in the offense,'' Brown said. ''But there's going to be some Princeton things that Steve Nash will have the ability to go to, with certain ball movement, or a pass, or a player movement, or a hand signal. We feel like all the pieces of it really flow, and we're looking forward to seeing how it turns out.''
The Lakers' offense stagnated for long stretches of last season, with the club's scoring settling in the middle of the NBA pack after declining more than four points per game from Jackson's final year with the club. Los Angeles even went 13 consecutive games in the middle of the year without scoring more than 100 points, setting a new nadir for the franchise that once defined Showtime basketball.
After the Lakers were knocked out of the second round of the playoffs for the second straight year, Brown decided to try the Princeton plan, saying he has ''always been fascinated with that offense.''
Brown even changed his coaching staff to make the move. The architect is Jordan, who learned the offense from former Princeton coach Pete Carril when both were with the Sacramento Kings. Jordan used it while he ran the Washington Wizards, who lost to Brown's Cleveland Cavaliers in the first round of the postseason in three straight years from 2006-08.
''If you took away everybody's different abilities and you turned everybody into robots, I always thought that offense would be the hardest to defend,'' Brown said. ''Because the spacing was tremendous. The ball movement was tremendous. The ability to play a stress-free game was off the charts. Those things have always attracted me to it. I just never had an understanding or an opportunity to be able to implement it.''
Brown also felt he never had a team that could handle it: He willingly ran endless pick-and-rolls for LeBron James in Cleveland, much the same schemes that Miami uses now. A year in Los Angeles convinced him the Lakers are ready for something tougher.
''This is a very intelligent team, and they play well when it comes to using a motion offense and using their intelligence,'' Brown said.
Nash knows he'll still run plenty of pick-and-rolls, but the creative aspect of the Princeton offense appeals to his artistic side. He's confident the Lakers have enough time and determination to find their flow well before the playoffs.
''Hopefully we can be up to speed when the regular season starts, but we realize we're going to have work to do all the way up to the playoffs,'' Nash said. ''It's a lot of connectivity that has to take place. You have to read the guy in front of you. There's limitless possibilities out of it. Once we get a handle on it, it will be difficult to defend.''
By BRIAN MAHONEY Associated Press
Stop the flop.
The NBA will penalize floppers this season, fining players for repeated violations of an act a league official said Wednesday has “no place in our game.”
Those exaggerated falls to the floor may fool the referees and fans during the game, but officials at league headquarters plan to take a look for themselves afterward.
Players will get a warning the first time, then be fined $5,000 for a second violation. The fines increase to $10,000 for a third offense, $15,000 for a fourth and $30,000 the fifth time. Six or more could lead to a suspension.
“Flops have no place in our game —they either fool referees into calling undeserved fouls or fool fans into thinking the referees missed a foul call,” vice president of basketball operations Stu Jackson said in a statement. “Accordingly, both the Board of Governors and the competition committee felt strongly that any player who the league determines, following video review, to have committed a flop should — after a warning — be given an automatic penalty.”
Lakers star Kobe Bryant said he hopes it has an impact on the game.
“I like the rule,” he said. “Shameless flopping, that’s a chump move. We’re familiar with it. Vlade (Divac) kind of pioneered it in that playoff series against Shaq, and it kind of worked for him.”
Players cautioned that it would be difficult to completely eliminate flopping, but welcomed the attempt to try.
“It’s good. Guys can't be flopping and get away with it anymore,” Oklahoma City guard James Harden said. “It was bound to happen at some point. Obviously, the league got fed up with it and they put it in. I’m happy they did.”
The NBA said flopping will be defined as “any physical act that appears to have been intended to cause the referees to call a foul on another player.”
“The primary factor in determining whether a player committed a flop is whether his physical reaction to contact with another player is inconsistent with what would reasonably be expected given the force or direction of the contact,” the league said.
Commissioner David Stern has long sought to end flopping, believing it tricks the referees. But the league determined it would be too difficult for refs to make the call on the floor, preferring instead to leave it to league office reviews.
Jackson’s department already reviews flagrant foul penalties to determine if they should be upgraded or downgraded.
“I’m all on board for it,” Heat coach Erik Spoelstra said. “I think it needs to be addressed. I think the steps they're taking right now, I think will benefit the game. I do. It remains to be seen if it truly has an impact. But I think it’s a step in the right direction.
“It’s not good for the game; nobody likes the flop. A majority of coaches don’t like the flop, particularly if you’re trying to build a solid defense.”
Rasheed Wallace raged against it for years, picking up quite of a few of his 308 technical fouls for arguing that he was called for a foul because a player flopped. After ending a two-year retirement to join the New York Knicks, he said certain unnamed players were going to be in trouble and agreed penalties needed to be enforced.
“Hey, you all thought I was crazy for saying it over the last so-and-so years. I ain’t even gonna get into it, but yes,” he said. “They needed to bend on that.”
The blame for the rise in flopping is often aimed at the international players, such as Divac, who came to the NBA after growing up watching soccer, where falling down in hopes of drawing a foul is part of the game. Denver's Danilo Gallinari, an Italian, believes that's unfair.
“I don’t know why everybody just talks about European flopping,” he said. “I don’t know where this thing comes from. We flop as much as other players all around the world flop. I don't know why everybody keeps saying that Europeans are soft or Europeans flops. I don't know.”
Cleveland’s Anderson Varejao is a renowned flopper, once one of the targets of Wallace’s wrath. But he said he's a changed man now.
“I’m not flopping anymore,” he said Monday with a smile. “I used to flop a little bit.”
The league said it will announce a separate set of flopping penalties for the playoffs at a later date.
By NICK PERRY
New Zealand canceled a visa for Mike Tyson on Wednesday October 3 because of his rape conviction, saying it reversed its earlier approval because a charity that would have benefited from his appearance says it wants nothing to do with the former heavyweight boxing champion.
Tyson said he had been looking forward to meeting New Zealand’s indigenous Maori people, the inspiration for his notorious facial tattoo. But now his whole Downunder speaking tour, scheduled for next month, is threatening to fall apart: Australian immigration authorities said they’ve yet to decide whether to let him in.
Tyson’s 1992 rape conviction would normally prevent his entry in New Zealand and could be grounds for denial in Australia as well. New Zealand’s denial came days after Prime Minister John Key spoke out against the visit.
Tyson was to speak at a November event in Auckland, the “Day of the Champions,” which is being promoted by Sydney agency Markson Sparks. On Wednesday the agency continued to promote tickets for appearances in New Zealand and five major Australian cities.
New Zealand’s Associate Immigration Minister Kate Wilkinson said she initially granted entry because a children’s health charity would get some of the proceeds from Tyson’s speech. She said in a statement her decision was “a finely balanced call” but that the charity that would have benefited, the Life Education Trust, withdrew its support on October 2.
The charity’s chief executive, John O’Connell, however, said the charity long ago decided not to accept any money from the event due to its concerns over Tyson’s character, O'Connell said a volunteer trustee mistakenly sent a letter to immigration authorities supporting Tyson’s plans.
Promoter Max Markson said he’s continuing to sell tickets — at between 69 and 300 Australian dollars ($71 and $308) — and will give refunds if Tyson cannot appear. He said he had been “hoping it might be a smoother run,” but remained confident Australia would grant Tyson a visa and that New Zealand would reverse its decision when he found another suitable charity.
“He’ll only be in the country for 20 hours, I don’t think he’s a danger to anybody, and thousands of people want to see him,” Markson said.
Would-be visitors to Australia normally must pass a character test. Those who have a “substantial criminal record” — including people who, like Tyson, have been sentenced to more than a year in prison — fail the test. But the department can use its discretion to grant such people visas.
Tyson was sentenced to six years in prison for the 1991 rape of an 18-year-old woman in an Indianapolis hotel room. He served three years before being released on parole.
A spokesman for Australia’s Department of Immigration and Citizenship said, “I can tell you that a decision is still pending” on Tyson’s application.
Speaking to the APNZ news agency this week from Las Vegas before his New Zealand visa was canceled, Tyson said his tattoo was inspired by those worn by New Zealand’s indigenous Maori. In pre-European times, many Maori wore elaborate facial tattoos as a sign of their status in their tribe. Some Maori today who identify strongly with their traditional culture get similar tattoos.
Tyson told the agency that, aside from their tattoos, he knew little about the Maori people, “so I’m looking forward to come down there and see them.”
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