January 31, 2013

By JON KRAWCZYNSKI  Associated Press

 

Rudy Gay is on his way to Toronto in the latest and most dramatic move in the Memphis Grizzlies makeover, a person with knowledge of the situation told The Associated Press.

The Grizzlies agreed to trade their star swingman to the Raptors on Wednesday, parting with the leading scorer on a team that has aspirations of making a run in the powerful Western Conference. The person spoke on the condition of anonymity because the deal had not yet been announced.

The Raptors gave up point guard Jose Calderon and forward Ed Davis in the deal, with multiple reports saying that Calderon was headed to Detroit in the three-team trade. The Pistons will send Austin Daye and Tayshaun Prince to Memphis, according to reports.

Gay, averaging 17.2 points and 5.9 rebounds, signed a five-year, $82 million maximum contract in July 2010 with Memphis. The 6-foot-8 small forward is due $16.5 million this season with $37 million more over the next two years. That’s a big number for new owner Robert Pera, who took over the franchise last November and has quickly started addressing the team's salary situation.

Just over a week ago, the Grizzlies sent valuable reserve Marreese Speights and two other players to Cleveland in a move that cleared $6.4 million in salary and avoided a $4 million luxury tax hit this season. Team officials said that move put the Grizzlies in position not to have to make a move this season.

Memphis coach Lionel Hollins had been lobbying to keep his five starters together the rest of this season, but he apparently lost that fight.

“Wow,” Grizzlies point guard Mike Conley tweeted.

Trading away Gay also eases a luxury tax hit due next season, while concentrating the team around center Marc Gasol and All-Star forward Zach Randolph. The Grizzlies had their best playoff run in 2011 when they knocked off then-No. 1 seed San Antonio before losing to Oklahoma City in seven games in the Western semifinals — all with Gay on the bench after needing season-ending shoulder surgery.

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January 31, 2013

PHILADELPHIA (AP) -- A federal judge will hear oral arguments in about two months on requests to throw out lawsuits by thousands of former NFL players regarding concussions suffered while playing for the league.

U.S. Eastern District Judge Anita Brody in Philadelphia on Tuesday scheduled an April 9 hearing on motions to dismiss filed by the NFL Inc., NFL Properties Inc. and All American Sports Corp.

Players say they've developed dementia and Alzheimer's disease, or are worried about developing them.

They argue it's not a labor dispute that's governed by the collective bargaining agreement, but an issue that should be resolved through the courts.

The NFL has argued it didn't intentionally mislead the players and took steps to protect their health.

More than 100 lawsuits against the league are consolidated before Brody. And more than 3,500 former players have sued the NFL, alleging that not enough was done to inform them about the dangers of concussions and not enough is being done today to take care of them.

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January 31, 2013

By BRIAN MAHONEY

Associated Press

 

Even Dennis Rodman laughs at the idea.

“Kind of funny, huh?” he said.

It’s true, though. One of basketball's most outrageous personalities has written a book for kids.

The Hall of Famer’s book, “Dennis The Wild Bull,” came out Wednesday and fans will immediately recognize Rodman’s influence. The large red bull on the cover has flowing red hair, two nose rings, a tattoo and red stubble under his chin.

“They’ll see me, literally see me. They’ll say, ‘Wow, this is just like him,’” Rodman said in a phone interview.

And he deals with the same issues.

Rodman, known as much for his wacky looks and lifestyle off the court as his considerable success on it, said the purpose of the book is simple.

“More than anything, I just want little kids today just to understand, ain’t no matter what you do in life, be different, rich or poor man, guess what, it’s OK to be who you are pretty much and you’ll be accepted,” Rodman said.

Rodman already wrote books about his personal life — the wild nights as a player, relationships with Madonna and Carmen Electra, and everything that allowed him to be famous long after he finished winning five championships with Detroit and Chicago.

The author whose previous works include titles such as “Bad as I Wanna Be” and “I Should Be Dead by Now” chose a different audience this time. He said even now he is still recognized by children who never saw him play, and those are the ones he wanted to reach.

“For a guy like me to be very eccentric, to even go to extremes to write a children’s book with all the wild things I do and make it believable was pretty much incredible,” Rodman said.

Co-written with Dustin Warburton, the book tells the story of Dennis, a bull who is captured away from his family and forced to live with other bulls in a rodeo. Though he looks nothing like them, they come to accept him and he becomes friends with them.

“Once I got to know the other bulls, I liked them,” Rodman said. “I enjoyed their company and stuff like that, and they accepted me for who I am no matter how I look.”

Dennis becomes so close with them that when he plots his escape to return to his family, he makes sure his new friends can come with him. Dennis originally was to escape alone until Rodman decided to change the ending.

“That’s not really Dennis. Dennis thought it was so cool that these other bulls accepted him and he stayed loyal to them. He wanted to see his family but he wanted these other bulls to come along,” said Darren Prince, Rodman’s marketing agent. “Anybody that knows the real Dennis Rodman knows how loyal he is to anybody that he’s close with and Dennis didn’t like that part, so they tweaked it at the end.”

Rodman, ordered to pay $500,000 in back child support to his ex-wife last month, acknowledges a couple of his children on the cover, where two little bulls are pictured in front of Dennis.

The book is available on Rodman’s website, www.dennisrodman.com, and Amazon for $16. His web site also has information regarding upcoming book signings in the New York area and Chicago.

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January 31, 2013

Special to the NNPA

from the Washington Informer

 

The United States Playing Card Company (USPC), makers of Bicycle® Playing Cards, is proud to announce the launch of the Negro Leagues Baseball Museum Playing Card Deck. Bicycle® Playing Cards has partnered with the Negro Leagues Baseball Museum by donating $0.15 per deck sold.

“The mission of the Negro Leagues Baseball Museum is to help preserve the rich history of African American baseball and we are excited that Bicycle® has developed this deck to support our cause,” said Bob Kendrick, president of the Negro Leagues Baseball Museum. “With partnerships like this, we will be able to share this history with generations to come.”

Roy Gifford, USPC vice president of marketing added that the partnership with the Negro Leagues Baseball Museum, “not only gave us access to the iconic logos and photos from the Negro Leagues archives to create a beautiful deck of cards, but more importantly it allowed us to support an organization who is protecting the amazing story of the Negro Baseball Leagues.”

To find out more online about Bicycle® and the Negro Leagues Baseball Museum visit us at www.bicyclecards.com, www.nlbm.com, www.facebook.com/bicyclecards, and www.facebook.com/NegroLeaguesBaseballMuseum.

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January 31, 2013

By Brian Mahoney, AP Basketball Writer

 

NEW YORK (AP) -- Executive director Billy Hunter has fired his daughter and daughter-in-law from the NBA players' association, less than two weeks after a review criticized his hiring practices.

In a letter to the union's special committee of players, dated Jan. 23, Hunter informed them that Robyn Hunter was to be let go as of Jan. 25. Megan Inaba will stay on through the All-Star break to help coordinate activities in Houston before leaving her job on Feb. 17.

"Hopefully this decision will alleviate any concerns raised by their employment," Hunter wrote. "These measures are being taken although the report noted that both of them were highly qualified, not overpaid, and were contributing members of the NBPA staff."

Hunter also states in the letter, obtained Tuesday by The Associated Press, that the NBPA will no longer work with Prim Capital, the banking firm that employs Hunter's son, Todd.

The letter was first reported by Bloomberg News.

The review by the firm Paul, Weiss, Rifkind, Wharton & Garrison LLP said Hunter's hiring of family and friends had "damaged the union." Though finding no evidence of illegal use of union funds, the report cited numerous conflicts of interests, noted that his contract was never properly approved and urged players to consider whether they wanted to remove him during their All-Star meeting.

"The appearance of favoritism has damaged the union. Mr. Hunter's pattern of involving friends and family in union business contributed to a deep rift among the NBPA staff," the report said, adding that Hunter's choices "created the appearance that he operated the union in part for the benefit of his family and friends."

Hunter wrote in the letter that an anti-nepotism policy had been adopted, and that other hiring improvements would be implemented.

"In my work for the NBPA, my priority has always been to promote the interests of the players," Hunter wrote. "Through the benefit of hindsight, as with any executive, there are always things that could have been done better. In that spirit, I regret that my long tenure with many successes on behalf of the players has been overshadowed by the appearance of conflicts of interest."

Union spokesman Dan Wasserman said Hunter had no comment on the letter or the dismissals.

Hunter has headed the union since 1996 and makes $3 million a year. The eight-month review gave players plenty of reason to consider his future with the organization, though Hunter has good relationships with many of them and has said he looks forward to continuing.

He is not nearly as popular with agents, who questioned his strategy during the lockout and sought a larger role. The New York Times on Tuesday printed text of a letter to his clients from Arn Tellem, one of the most powerful agents, urging Hunter's removal next month, and others will likely follow.

The review was sought in part by Derek Fisher, the union president who clashed with Hunter during and after the NBA lockout that lasted from July through November 2011. It began last April and included reviews of documents, financial records and NBPA emails, and interviews of witnesses.

Hunter wrote that he disagreed with certain aspects of the report but reiterated that he was pleased it found no evidence of criminal activity.

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