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Author Topic:   NBA - 2005/06 Season
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posted August 02, 2005 12:03 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for indiedan   Click Here to Email indiedan     Edit/Delete Message
AP Newsbreak: Heat, O'Neal agree on $100 million deal

By TIM REYNOLDS, AP Sports Writer

MIAMI (AP) -- Shaquille O'Neal and the Miami Heat agreed Tuesday on a $100 million, five-year contract, one that presumably will keep the 12-time All-Star center playing past his 38th birthday.

The deal will be signed later Tuesday, said O'Neal's agent Perry Rogers.

``We wanted to make sure that Shaquille was being compensated well into his career,'' Rogers told The Associated Press. ``We also wanted to make sure he was paid his value. And it was important the Heat had flexibility they need in the short-term to win a championship.

``It's about winning.''

O'Neal was vacationing Tuesday and not immediately available for comment.

Earlier Tuesday, O'Neal opted out of the final year of his existing deal, one that would have paid him $30.6 million this coming season.

The 7-foot-1, 327-pound O'Neal made an immediate impact during his first season with Miami, which acquired him in July 2004 from the Los Angeles Lakers in exchange for three players and a draft choice.

He averaged 22.9 points and 10.4 rebounds in the regular season, leading the league with a 60.1 field goal percentage. O'Neal ranked sixth in the league in blocks (2.34 per game), double-doubles (43) and rebounds.

A bruised thigh, suffered late in the regular season, limited his playoff effectiveness; the Heat were the No. 1-seeded team in the East, yet lost to Detroit in Game 7 of the conference finals -- the finest postseason showing in the Heat franchise's 17-year history.

O'Neal had previously led the Lakers to three consecutive NBA titles from 2000-2002.

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posted August 05, 2005 02:46 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for NEWSFLASH   Click Here to Email NEWSFLASH     Edit/Delete Message
NBA announces Las Vegas will host 2007 All-Star game

By KEN RITTER, Associated Press Writer

LAS VEGAS (AP) -- The NBA is going ``all-in'' with its All-Stars.

The 2007 NBA All-Star game is headed to Las Vegas, the first time a city without a franchise has been chosen to host the event.

The festivities will take place just off the Strip, at the Thomas & Mack Center on the UNLV campus.

Commissioner David Stern called it ``a merger between the basketball capital of the world and the entertainment capital of the world'' during a news conference Friday while downplaying any concern about linking the image-conscious NBA with Sin City and gambling.

``If I were concerned, I wouldn't be doing it,'' he said.

Casinos will not take bets on any All-Star events under a ban proposed by the NBA and approved in June by state gambling regulators.

Such bans are not unprecedented in Las Vegas. The Palms hotel-casino does not accept bets on professional basketball games because it is owned by the Maloof family, which also owns the Sacramento Kings.

Memphis and New Orleans also submitted bids to host the 2007 game, but Stern said the league wanted to expand its reach.

``The step here,'' Stern said, ``is to open this up to non-NBA cities.''

Next year's game will be in Houston, but Stern has said Paris was being considered for 2008 or 2009.

The deal with Las Vegas was delayed for several weeks while local tourism and Thomas & Mack Center officials persuaded luxury box holders to turn over control of their suites to the NBA for the Feb. 16-18 weekend.

Friday's announcement featured Las Vegas showgirls and officials posing for photographs holding jerseys reading ``Las Vegas 07.'' Stern was flanked by league and local officials, including George, Joe and Gavin Maloof and Las Vegas Mayor Oscar Goodman, who has been trying to lure a professional sports franchise to the city.

The commissioner deflected questions about whether the move means the league wants to put a team in Las Vegas.

``I don't know if the conditions of the moment are appropriate to answer that question,'' he said.

Goodman couldn't contain his glee about hosting the NBA's midseason showcase, and predicted after the news conference that the next franchise will be in Las Vegas.

``(Stern is) a reasonable man, and reasonable men do reasonable things,'' Goodman said.

George Maloof thinks the city deserves a basketball team, but acknowledged that ``gambling is the biggest hurdle.''

The NBA is no stranger to the Thomas & Mack Center. The league has staged 13 regular-season games there since the Chicago Bulls and Utah Jazz first played in November 1983, and Kareem Abdul-Jabbar broke the NBA scoring record there in April 1985.

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posted October 26, 2005 09:14 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for HollywoodProducer   Click Here to Email HollywoodProducer     Edit/Delete Message
Sports: Duds Go Out of Bounds

Pro basketball's new dress code is just part of a campaign to spruce up the game's tarnished image.


Oct. 31, 2005 issue - In recent years the NBA has spent a lot of time defending its young players, insisting that fans would come to embrace its next generation as worthy successors to the Michael, Magic and Larry era. But as America's love affair with the NBA game has faded, commissioner David Stern is conceding that it's time for those players to undergo a fashion makeover. But unlike most makeovers, the NBA version is actually designed to make players look less hip—and, specifically, less hip-hop. The league's label for its new dress code is "business casual," taking aim at such mainstays of NBA arena style as outsize T-shirts, hats, do-rags, sunglasses, headphones and big chains. The bling ban will be backed by fines and, if required, suspensions, though Stern believes disciplinary action won't prove necessary. "When it's properly understood," he says, "it will be embraced."

That understanding may take a while. Some players have already denounced the new code as racist, an attack on black culture. Others simply think it's misguided, the wrong way to connect with youthful fans. And some of the young millionaires even groused that they should get an extra clothing allowance to buy the requisite new threads. But Stern must have been gratified when budding superstar LeBron James piped up that this was a small price to pay for doing business. And doing business in the NBA means far more than marketing apparel to kids; the big money comes from corporate America in the form of luxury boxes and advertising. In the wake of scandals like the Kobe Bryant rape case and the ugly brawl between players and fans during a Pistons-Pacers game last season, Stern thinks it's time to go for a classier image.

Still, nobody believes that if you dress Allen Iverson in a suit he'll be mistaken for Michael Jordan. The dress code is simply a modest, symbolic gesture to mainstream America. And it's only a small part of a series of more substantive initiatives—a boost in the minimum age for players and an increased commitment to public service through a new "NBA Cares" program—aimed at getting NBA players to grow up.

Any hint of increased professionalism should bolster the league's image somewhat. But it doesn't address a growing conviction among longtime fans that, having watched NBA all-star aggregates get their butts kicked at the Olympics and world championships, the NBA no longer has game. Or at least not the same game that America once loved. Instead of teaching its players to don a sports jacket, the league might be better served by schooling them in once-upon-a-time fundamentals like the bounce pass or how to hit a 10-foot jump shot.

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posted November 04, 2005 01:07 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for fred   Click Here to Email fred     Edit/Delete Message
Shaq reportedly sidelined 2-4 weeks
Heat's 12-time All-Star center sprained ankle against Pacers news services

MIAMI - Heat center Shaquille O’Neal will miss two to four weeks with a sprained right ankle, adding to the team’s early-season injury woes.

O’Neal flew with his team to Milwaukee on Friday, shortly after learning results of an MRI exam performed earlier in the day. The team said earlier he was listed as day-to-day; a formal announcement of the updated diagnosis was expected after the team’s arrival in Milwaukee.

The news, first reported by The Miami Herald on its Web site, probably wasn’t surprising to teammates, who seemed resigned to playing without the 12-time All-Star after seeing him hobble and grimace after Thursday’s 105-102 loss to Indiana.

“He’s the most dominant player in the game,” Heat forward Udonis Haslem said Thursday night. “If you don’t have him it definitely hurts you. At the same time, the other guys have the opportunity to step up.”

O’Neal was getting in position for an offensive rebound when he stepped on Ron Artest’s foot and rolled the ankle midway through the fourth quarter of the Heat’s loss to the Pacers. X-rays did not reveal a fracture, but the 7-foot-1, 340-pound O’Neal left the arena on crutches.

Heat coach Stan Van Gundy said after the game that he expected O’Neal “to miss some time.” O’Neal did not speak with reporters, and the team had no media availability before traveling on Friday.

“You never want one of your best players going down with an injury,” Van Gundy said. “It’s all also part of the game. We’re already dealing with three veteran guys out, now a fourth veteran guy out, so some of these young guys are going to have to step up and play.”

Projected starting small forward James Posey will probably miss a few more games because of an injured thumb, reserve forward Shandon Anderson has been sidelined by back spasms and isn’t traveling with the team and backup center Michael Doleac hasn’t made his season debut yet because of an injured calf.

The Heat will now turn to Alonzo Mourning to start at center, with undrafted rookie Earl Barron the likely choice to be the first center off the bench.

O’Neal averaged 15 points and six rebounds in Miami’s first two games. If he misses two weeks, that would mean Miami would be without him for six games and have him back for a home game Nov. 18 against Philadelphia. If he misses four weeks, that would keep him sidelined for 13 games and out until a Dec. 2 matchup in Sacramento.

He missed nine regular-season games and two playoff games last year because of various injuries; the Heat went 8-3 without their starting center.

“We’ve got enough firepower to win without him,” Miami guard Dwyane Wade said. “If one person goes down, the other guys have to step up.”

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posted December 12, 2005 09:17 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for fred   Click Here to Email fred     Edit/Delete Message
Riley replaces Van Gundy as Heat coach

By TIM REYNOLDS, AP Sports Writer
December 12, 2005

MIAMI (AP) -- Pat Riley is again the coach of the Miami Heat, replacing Stan Van Gundy following his resignation Monday for family reasons.

Riley, whom Van Gundy succeeded on the bench shortly before the 2003-04 season, will make his debut Tuesday night when Miami opens a four-game road trip in Chicago.

"I will get back into this quickly," said Riley, the 60-year-old team president. He said he hasn't even looked at a playbook for two years.

Riley coached the team from 1995-03 after winning four titles with the Los Angeles Lakers and a stint with the New York Knicks.

Players were not available for immediate comment. The team left for Chicago on Monday, shortly before the news conference announcing the shake-up and learning of Van Gundy's decision.

Van Gundy said he resigned voluntarily.

"I made this decision for one reason and one reason only: I love my family," Van Gundy said. He said that because of travel, games and practices, he would have seen his children at home only 49 days out of 170 this season.

Riley's eyes welled with tears as Van Gundy announced the reasons for his decision. Van Gundy said Riley has tried for weeks to persuade him to stay.

"It came down to a choice, and for me, the choice was clear," Van Gundy said.

He said he will remain in the organization, and insisted he had no desire to coach elsewhere in the NBA.

Van Gundy's job status was the subject of speculation in South Florida for months, starting when Riley -- his mentor -- said shortly after the Heat's 2005 playoff run ended that he may take a larger role in the team's day-to-day operations.

That comment, which seemed innocuous at the time, set off speculation that Riley was planning to dismiss Van Gundy and take over a team with two of the NBA's biggest stars, Shaquille O'Neal and Dwyane Wade, in his quest to bring the Heat their first title.

This year, the team was in first place but with only a 11-10 record, although without O'Neal for 18 of those games because the 12-time All-Star had a badly sprained right ankle. Rumors that Van Gundy's job may be in jeopardy continued to swirl.

The 46-year-old Van Gundy left with a regular-season record of 112-73. Riley has won 1,110 games in 21 seasons as a coach, plus led the "Showtime" Lakers of Magic Johnson and Kareem Abdul-Jabbar to titles in 1982, 1985, 1987 and 1988. He also coached the Knicks (1991-95).

Van Gundy was Riley's top assistant for eight seasons, getting the top job shortly before the 2003-04 campaign when Riley walked into his office unexpectedly and told him he was stepping aside.

AP - Dec 12, 10:08 am EST
More Photos

And now, in a move perhaps not so unexpected but certainly just as sudden, Van Gundy is gone, hours after leading the Heat to an overtime win over Washington on Sunday night.

The move came nearly four years to the day after Jeff Van Gundy, Stan's younger brother, resigned as Knicks coach 19 games into the 2001-02 season. Jeff Van Gundy, now the Houston Rockets coach, said at the time he'd lost his focus and thought about quitting since that summer.

"The question I've always had for him is 'why did you go back,"' Stan Van Gundy said.

Before coming to the Heat, Van Gundy had college stints at Vermont, Castleton State, Canisius, Fordham, Massachusetts-Lowell and Wisconsin. When Riley joined the Heat, Van Gundy came with him -- in large part because his brother, Jeff, was under contract to the New York Knicks and couldn't stay on Riley's staff.

His first season as head coach didn't get off to a good start, with the Heat losing Van Gundy's first seven games. But with Wade leading a talented nucleus of young players, Miami finished that season 42-40 and as the No. 4 seed in the Eastern Conference playoffs.

That summer, Riley sent three players to Los Angeles for O'Neal -- part of three championships with the Lakers. Van Gundy coached the Heat to a second consecutive season of a 17-win improvement, getting them to 59-23 and guiding them to the Southeast Division title and to the East finals.

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posted June 20, 2006 09:27 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for fred   Click Here to Email fred     Edit/Delete Message
Official coverup? Conspiracy theories no excuse for Dallas

There could not be a more perfect locale than Dallas for these NBA Finals to resume tonight. Just a few miles from the basketball arena is the infamous grassy knoll, national Mecca of conspiracy theorists. We presume that when the Mavericks' owner, coach and players talk these days about looking at film, it might not be game film but rather Abraham Zapruder's grainy home movie.

The question now: Is commissioner David Stern acting alone in manipulating to steal Dallas' championship trophy and give it to the Miami Heat? If so, then what of the blurred, shadowy figures on the knoll who appear to be wearing vertically striped shirts?

A delicious, volatile cauldron presents itself for Game 6 tonight in the wake of Sunday's home Heat victory in overtime and the Mavericks' belief the referees helped fashion Miami's 3-2 series lead. Desperation and paranoia is a cocktail more dangerous than Molotov's, and Dallas owner Mark Cuban warring with the officials is something like a match mad at a stick of dynamite.

It is unlikely Miami has been a part of playoff combustion like this since the bad old Knicks-rivalry years, when suspensions rocked a series and your snapshot was New York coach Jeff Van Gundy poodled onto Alonzo Mourning's pistoning leg in an on-court melee.

Here, the Mavs say they'll play with ''anger'' as the hostility of all North Texas funnels into one arena. Not sure in what role Dwyane Wade might find Shaquille O'Neal more useful tonight: Center. Or bodyguard.

''We Wuz Robbed!'' has long been the handiest excuse of teams that cannot find a decent reason for their collapse that doesn't involve the ignominy of a mirror. The convenience of alleging bad calls, or even willfully biased officiating (you'll recall the Seattle Seahawks conducted a remarkable seminar in early February), also is the blame-dodge of choice among teams that cannot bear to properly credit the opponent.

And so there it was for all to see past midnight Sunday in Miami's downtown bayfront arena: the sourest, saddest, sorriest display by a losing team that you'd ever wish to witness.

Not the loss itself; that was rather valiant. The reaction to it.

There was Cuban, whose billions can buy just about anything but a mortal slump by D-Wade, careening onto the court in a blue Jerry Stackhouse jersey after the final buzzer, screaming profanely at referee Joe DeRosa.

Cuban then turned to Stern and other NBA officials who were seated at the scorer's table and was overheard to shout venomously in the jubilant din, ``[Bleep] you! [Bleep] you! Your league is rigged!''


That was just after The Incredible Shrinking Dirk Nowitzki -- who began the series as a 7-foot superstar but has seen the series turn him into his own bobblehead doll -- punted the basketball up into the 300-level seats after the buzzer and marauded off the court, slamming a water cooler and kicking a stationary bicycle in the hallway en route to the visitors' dressing room.

A bit after that is when coach Avery Johnson conducted a news conference that, if it were any stranger, might have seen him restrained and fitted with a straitjacket by men in White Hot coats.

A reporter asked what he thought of the foul call that turned into Wade's game-winning free throws with 1.9 seconds left in overtime.

''You tell me. What was your impression?'' Johnson replied.

The question was essentially repeated four more times; so was the coach's increasingly testy reply.

''No I want you to give everybody an honest answer,'' Johnson demanded, finally. ``We have people from Israel and Minnesota, Chicago, all over Dallas Germany.''

Johnson's performance seemed applicable to the phrase ''cracking under pressure'' to a degree that left you worried the coach was going to suddenly split in two, like a coconut that met a machete. This was the perfect spokesman for a team that seemed to be coming apart before our eyes.

Dallas' once-commanding 2-0 lead in this series seems as long ago now as NBA short-shorts. Three straight home victories by Miami have put control of the championship trophy in Heat hands entering tonight; the only question is how the seismic shift happened.

Wade's 121 points in the past three games is a pretty strong opening argument.

You start with Miami's young Flash asserting himself as the Finals MVP-in-waiting and doing it with a dominance that conjures images of Michael Jordan. And you contrast that with Nowitzki too often playing like David Hasselhoff sings, in the biggest collapse associated with Germany since the Berlin Wall.

Yet Dallas would cite the officiating, as if that was why the Mavs blew a 13-point, mid-fourth-quarter lead in crucial Game 3 -- a collapse that left the entire Dallas team writhing on the court in need a of a group Heimlich maneuver.


Again Sunday night, responsibility for the loss was not accepted by the Mavericks. Class was not in session. So, in the wake of the 101-100 defeat, they blamed the refs.

Said that Wade, with the ball and 9.1 seconds left, committed a backcourt violation that was not called.

''That's a backcourt violation, at least to most high-schoolers,'' Cuban groused.

Then they said Wade committed a foul on Jason Terry en route to the basket that wasn't called.

''He pushed him. I guess that's not a foul,'' Cuban groused.

''Pushed off, like, three guys,'' Nowitzki claimed.

Then they said Wade was not fouled at all on the final drive that froze the clock at 1.9 and set up his winning free throws. Half right on that. Nowitzki was called but was not the fouler. However, replays clearly show Devin Harris grabbed Wade's inside right elbow, an obvious foul on anybody's court.

Finally, Dallas claimed it wanted to use its last timeout after Wade's second free throw but that the referee mistakenly awarded it after the first one -- even though the mistake clearly appeared to be on the part of timeout-signaler Josh Howard.

Speaking of whom, evidently Howard escapes blame for his two missed free throws with 54 seconds left. Evidently Nowitzki does, too, for another of his late missed foul shots. Maybe a ref hissed, ``Miss it!''


Yes, let the Mavericks not accept blame for their third straight Finals loss or entertain the absurd idea Miami might be a worthy opponent.


Let's instead put a telescope on the grassy knoll and imagine Stern there -- is he grinning? -- exacting some sort of vendetta against Cuban over the fact he is the most outspoken critic of NBA officiating. A conspiracy! Yes. That's it. Stern's Revenge!

''It's just ridiculous,'' Cuban summarized before climbing onto his team's bus.

He meant the officiating late in Sunday's game.

He might better have meant his team's response to the loss in the absence of any sort of grace.

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