July 12, 2012

By BRIAN MAHONEY | Associated Press

 

LAS VEGAS (AP) — LeBron James, Kobe Bryant and three other Olympic gold medalists were already back.

Add a defensive stopper, a potent scorer off the bench, and one of the NBA’s most explosive athletes, and the U.S. is certain it has a powerful Olympic basketball team.

Better even than the one that won gold four years ago.

“We feel like we’re definitely a great team. We have all the pieces that we need,” forward Carmelo Anthony said. “We’ve got to put it together, but we feel like we’re the best team out there.”

The Americans rounded out their roster Saturday, adding Blake Griffin, Andre Iguodala and James Harden to the nine players who already seemed secure long before training camp began.

They earned the final three spots that opened after a rash of injuries knocked out at least four players who would have been on the team. They beat out Eric Gordon, Rudy Gay and No. 1 draft pick Anthony Davis of New Orleans, who couldn’t scrimmage this week because of a sprained ankle.

Also heading to London for the defending gold medalists are: Chris Paul, Deron Williams, Kevin Durant, Russell Westbrook, Tyson Chandler and Kevin Love.

The Americans never had a close game four years ago until the championship game, when they pulled away in the final two minutes to beat Spain 118-107. Even with Dwight Howard, Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh unable to return from that team, the Americans think this one can be even stronger.

“When I think about ’08, we were really good then. But like me, LeBron and D-Will, all of us talk about, you’ve got to think about how much better all of us are now than we were in ’08,” Paul said. “All of us as players, we shoot the ball better. Guys are more athletic, guys are more confident. One through 12, no question we’re deeper than we were in ’08.”

USA Basketball Jerry Colangelo acknowledged the adversity the team faced with all the injuries in his remarks before the players were introduced during a press conference, all wearing their white USA jerseys — James and Anthony even looking game-ready in white headbands.

“But as the dust settles, I’m proud to say that we’ve put together in my opinion a terrific team with great athleticism and great versatility and we believe we’re going to be successful,” Colangelo said.

Griffin showed he was healthy again after being slowed by a knee injury during the playoffs, putting on an impressive dunking display following practice Saturday. Harden, the NBA’s Sixth Man of the Year with Oklahoma City, gives the Americans more scoring punch off the bench, and Iguodala is a defensive specialist who can guard multiple positions.

The Americans lost Howard, Derrick Rose, Wade and Bosh to injuries in recent months, forcing them to scrap plans to name their 12-man roster on June 18. They asked the US Olympic Committee for a roster extension and added Harden and Davis to their original pool of finalists chosen in January.

Harden seemed a long shot, joining Griffin as the only player who didn’t play on either of the last two U.S. teams. But the Americans felt they needed someone comfortable with coming off the bench more than they did Gay, who was behind too many other forwards on the depth chart, and the result was three players from the Oklahoma City Thunder.

“Great characters, workaholics, just humble guys, humble guys and blessed to be in this position,” Harden said of himself, Durant and Westbrook. “(Guys) who work hard and just set ourselves up for greatness and to achieve, and just to be on the same team with these guys means a lot.”

Colangelo was intrigued by Davis’ skills, but the national player of the year at Kentucky sprained his ankle last week and was not able to take part this week, robbing him of a chance to show he was ready to handle international competition now.

Iguodala was frequently assigned the role of shutting down the opponent's best player two years ago in the world basketball championship, and he previously had scrimmaged against the U.S. on the select team of young players, so Colangelo and coach Mike Krzyzewski knew what he could do.

“I think they’ve just seen that I can pretty much play alongside pretty much anybody and still make an impact on the game. I don’t necessarily have to have the ball to make an impact on either end,” the 76ers swingman and first-time All-Star said. “I’ve been playing with Kevin Durant, LeBron James, Carmelo Anthony, pure scorers, and when I get in, it won’t be a problem for me to fit in with those guys. I’ll jell right along with them right away.”

James, Bryant, Anthony, Paul and Williams were all part of the 2008 Olympic gold medalists. Durant, Westbrook, Chandler and Love also played on the world championship team two years ago.

Colangelo said he believed this team was deeper and better than the ’08 squad, but added that “only time will tell.”

The injuries leave the Americans short-handed at center, where Howard started four years ago in Beijing and Bosh backed him up. Chandler is the only natural center left, so the Americans will be forced to use some players out of their normal NBA positions.

But what remains is still the most athletic team in the world, with potent scorers at nearly every spot, and the Americans will look to overcome any size disadvantage by punishing teams in transition. Griffin said expects to be strictly at the center spot.

The Americans opened training camp Friday and will practice here through next Wednesday, then play an exhibition game against the Dominican Republic on Thursday.

The players who were not selected will be alternates who could be replacements in case of further injuries up until 48 hours before the July 27 start of the Olympics. Davis will stick around just in case, playing on the select team.

James and Anthony will be playing in their third Olympics for a U.S. team with an average age is 26.1 years. The young guys, combined with the veteran returnees, could make for a golden mixture.

“I think we have guys on the team that’s definitely hungry at this point, especially young guys that want to go out and prove themselves,” Anthony said. “They’ve been showing that over the last couple of days in practice. What we put together in ’08, we will never duplicate that again. But this is a new team, this is a new situation and this team wants to form their own identity.”

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July 12, 2012

By MATTIAS KAREN | Associated Press

 

WIMBLEDON, England (AP) — One Wimbledon title wasn't enough for Serena Williams.

About five hours after Williams won her fifth singles title by beating Agnieszka Radwanska, she and sister Venus were back on Centre Court to beat Czech duo Andrea Hlavackova and Lucie Hradecka 7-5, 6-4 Saturday in the doubles final.

It was their fifth Wimbledon doubles title together, and came shortly after Venus watched her little sister win the singles final.

"I was definitely inspired by Serena's singles performance," Venus said. "Obviously it's wonderful to play on the court with her. I couldn't have done it without her, so it's great."

Both sisters have battled health issues over the last two years, with Venus having been diagnosed with an energy-sapping illness and Serena overcoming blood clots in her lungs and two operations after cutting her feet on glass in 2010.

This was their first doubles tournament together in two years, and they looked as if they hadn't missed a beat.

"She's such a fighter, you never say die," Venus said about her sister. "I don't think either of us believe that we can be defeated by anything. Nothing has defeated us yet, so we're going to keep that track record."

Serena was the last woman to win both the singles and doubles titles at Wimbledon, in 2009.

Playing under the closed roof, Venus Williams served out the match less than 15 minutes before the 11 p.m. deadline for the end of play on Centre Court.

Had the match gone to a third set, they probably would have had to come back and finish it off on Sunday.

"I told Venus on the court, it doesn't matter," Serena said. "We weren't really racing the clock, we were just playing our opponents who were playing really tough and really good."

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July 12, 2012

LAS VEGAS (AP) — Middleweight champion Anderson Silva stopped Chael Sonnen at 1:55 of the second round in UFC 148 on Saturday night at the MGM Grand Garden Arena.

Silva has successfully defended his title 10 times and had a 15-match winning streak.

In the second round, Sonnen fell to the canvas and up against the fence after missing with a wild spinning backfist and Silva capitalized, landing a knee to the chest and then a number of solid strikes, forcing the referee to stop the fight. The fight was a rematch of the 2010 fight of the year, where Sonnen dominated Silva for 4 1/2 rounds before losing by submission.

On Saturday night, Sonnen had an early takedown and kept Silva on the mat for almost the entire first round, easily winning the round on the scorecards.

Sonnen looked to take Silva down again in the second, pressing the action and forcing Silva up against the cage. The two separated and moved across the octagon, but Sonnen's miscue led to his quick demise.

Earlier, Forrest Griffin edged Tito Ortiz in a close unanimous decision in a bout matching former light heavyweight champions.

Griffin was able to land a number of kicks to the legs and body and controlled most of the fight that ended with three judges giving him a 29-28 edge. Ortiz rocked Griffin in the second and third rounds, flooring him with right hands, but Griffin rallied to sustain the attack.

On the undercard, Cung Le unanimously outpointed Patrick Cote for his first UFC victory, Damian Maia stopped Dong Hyun Kim in the first round, Chad Mendes rebounded from his first loss with an easy first-round victory over Cody McKenzie, and Mike Easton outpointed Ivan Menjivar.

In the preliminary bouts, Melvin Guillard earned his 11th UFC victory, and Khabib Nurmagomedov remained undefeated at 18-0, both winning unanimous decisions. Rafaello Oliveira, Shane Roller and Costa Philippou also won by unanimous decision.

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July 12, 2012

By KRISTIE RIEKEN | Associated Press

 

HOUSTON (AP) — Minnesota Vikings star running back Adrian Peterson was arrested on a charge of resisting arrest after an early morning incident where police say it took three officers to subdue him.

Houston Police Department spokesman Kese Smith said Peterson was at a downtown nightclub early Saturday morning when an off-duty Houston police officer working security asked Peterson and a group of people he was with to leave because it was closed. The man, who Kese said identified himself as a police officer, left to tell other patrons to leave the club before returning to Peterson’s group to again tell them to leave.

Kese said Peterson turned around and told the officer that he heard him the first time and pushed him in the shoulder, causing him to stumble. The officer told Peterson he was under arrest and to put his hands behind his back. Peterson began yelling, pulled away and “assumed an aggressive stance” so another off-duty officer came to help. Peterson continued to struggle with them both.

The 27-year-old player was finally handcuffed with the help of a third off-duty officer. Peterson complained of shortness of breath after he was taken to a Houston jail and was examined by Houston Fire Department personnel, who said that he was OK.

Peterson, who is from Palestine, Texas, was released from jail Saturday on a $1,000 bond. The charge is a misdemeanor.

Team spokesman Bob Hagan said Saturday the Vikings “are aware of the situation and are gathering more information.”

Peterson ran for 970 yards and 12 touchdowns last season before tearing the anterior cruciate and medial collateral ligaments in his left knee Dec. 24. The injury-shortened season broke a streak of four straight seasons with at least 1,200 yards rushing for the former Oklahoma standout.

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July 12, 2012

 

By Kenneth Miller

 

LAWT Contributing Writer

 

 

 

Tennis sensation Serena Williams recently captured her remarkable 14th grand slam event winning Wimbledon at the prestigious All England Club months shy of her 31st birthday.

 

Elegantly dressed in her white Nike dress with royal purple, Serena was fit to be queen after her smashing three set victory that left many wondering what’s next on the Williams agenda. After capturing the singles crown she joined with her sister  Venus to double-up at  Wimbledon adding the women’s doubles championship.

 

Having met both the tennis prodigies when they were 9 and 10 years old, respectively, and even moving to Palm Beach, FL and residing with them for a short period I can reflect on this from rags to riches story with real introspective.

 

As the legacy of Serena and her older sister Venus continues to grow with their celebrity the distance from whence it all began fades into a shallow backdrop of what used to be the asphalt tennis courts at East Rancho Dominguez Park in Compton.

 

It was the City of Compton, the birthplace of rap---Eazy E and Dr. Dre. , that gave the Williams’ story, the sexy swagger that made them appealing on a global stage.

 

It was the crazy idea of an over protecting father Richard who wanted more for his daughters than himself, who first envisioned fame and fortune for the only children he had with former wife Oracene Price.

 

Richard understood the significance of raising both Serena and Venus in the hood and while many of the stories have been exaggerated about bullets flying through the air while they practiced, anyone who resides in Compton or any urban neighborhood will agree it has its challenges. For some they are insurmountable.

 

Had both Serena and Venus been the daughters of two upper or middle class parents living in the suburbs their stories would not have been the attraction that it has become.

 

Serena was born in Michigan, Venus in Lynwood, but Compton was where their home was. Compton was where they lived and practiced until subsequently they moved to Palm Beach FL.

 

Surely you always hear about people in the neighborhood can’t wait to get out, and often when they do, they don’t come back.

 

The Williams story was not expected to be that way. Even after Richard moved the family to Palm Beach he had a huge sign on the tennis courts that proclaimed him the “King of Compton.”

 

This was an indication that he had not forgot where he came from and also wanted to remind his daughters that they should not forget.

 

For a long time they publicly embraced their Compton experience. There was to be annual tennis clinics in their name, monuments and parks named for them. There was to be hope that tennis was a unique alternative to rap music, basketball and football for other Black girls and boys in Compton.

 

Residents and elected officials hoped for the best, even as Serena and Venus resided on their massive estate in Palm Beach thousands of miles away.

 

Hope does not always spring eternal.  As Serena and Venus grew older and their fame evolved, but Richard and Oracene grew apart. Eventually they divorced. Both would retain a percentage of the tennis-playing daughters with, Richard managing Venus and Oracene got Serena.

 

It has been almost 20 years and $200 million, since the girls called Compton their home. Now, they’re just from Palm Beach FL.

 

It is an irony that is not lost on many who knew the family and wanted the Compton association to remain a staple in their famous careers.

 

Compton Mayor Eric Perrodin personally reached out to the family to invite them back and wanted to name a park after them, but got no response.

 

Last Saturday, when Serena won she immediately went into the stands to share her joy with her sisters including Venus, father Richard, mother Oracene and friends, but there was one sister who was not there.

 

Older sister Yetunde Price was 31 when she was slain on September 14, 2003 in the Compton while awaiting a companion sitting in her SUV.

 

It is her murder that has created a monumental rift between the family and the city of Compton.

 

It was Serena who spoke on behalf of the family at the sentencing of suspected gang member Edward Maxfield when he was sent to prison for 15-years for the murder in 2006.

 

“I wasn’t going to speak today because it’s too hard for me to talk, “Serena said during the proceedings.  “I wanted to let you know that this was unfair to our family, and our family has always been positive and we always try to help people.”

 

Those emotional words, voiced by Serena, the youngest of the children, reverberates even loudest today as the once prodigies approach the dawn of their illustrious tennis careers.

 

It is the darkest of clouds such as this that blocks the sun from shining through. It will soon be 8 years since Yetunde was murdered. The fact that she lost her life in the same community where the life of her famous siblings began is the irony of it.

 

Now, Serena is approaching the age that Yetunde did not get to live out.  Last year a health scare reminded her just how fragile life can be. She survived to win yet another tournament for the world to see.

 

The city of Compton is waiting, with open arms to embrace Serena with love for the hope she gave them.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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