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.''

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Category: Sports

October 04, 2012

By NICK PERRY

Associated Press

 

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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September 27, 2012

Associated Press

 

 

 

Former track great Edwin Moses has been voted chair of the U.S. Anti-Doping Agency’s board of directors.

 

USADA said Wednesday that Moses was selected to fill the chair position at the Sept. 13 board meeting. Moses succeeds founding board member Dr. Richard Cohen, who is rotating off the board because of terms limits.

 

Founding board member Dr. Jean Fourcroy and former swimmer Annette Salmeen also are leaving the board because of term limits. Dr. Cheri Blauwet, Robert Raskopf and Dr. Ken Wright are joining the board.

 

 

 

PHOTO:  SP-EdwinMoses.jpg

 

 

 

AP Photo

 

Edwin Moses

 

 

 

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October 04, 2012

Associated Press

 

Dwyane Wade will not be wearing Jordan Brand sneakers and apparel.

The Miami Heat guard said on Tuesday October 2 that he has parted ways with the brand. His contract expired at the end of September and the sides made what Wade called a mutual decision to not extend the agreement.

Wade said his time with Converse and Jordan has been an “unbelievable nine years.”

Wade made the switch from Converse to Jordan Brand in 2009. Both are owned by Nike Inc.

Wade, who counts Michael Jordan as his idol to this day, said that he still feels “honored to have represented my favorite player of all time and his brand.”

He has not unveiled plans for what shoe he will wear with the reigning NBA champion Heat this season.

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September 27, 2012

By ANTONIO GONZALEZ AP Sports Writer

 

Mark Jackson isn’t making any playoff promises for the Golden State Warriors this season.

Maybe it’s a lesson learned for the point guard, preacher and boisterous broadcaster turned NBA head coach. Or maybe he’s tempering expectations entering his second season considering, well, there actually are expectations with a reshaped roster built around rehabilitating center Andrew Bogut and point guard Stephen Curry.

“I’m not going to say it,” Jackson said this week, “not because I don’t believe it. But ultimately it comes to a point where, enough of the talking, go out and do it.”

That time is almost here.

With training camp beginning next week, Jackson still made it clear that not making the postseason would be a major disappointment. He also recognizes the season outlook — and perhaps his own future — hinges largely on the surgically repaired ankles of Bogut and Curry, who have had repeated problems staying on the court throughout their young careers.

Asked how confident he is both will return to form and stay healthy this season, Jackson quipped: “I hope so. My family certainly hopes so.”

Same goes for Warriors fans who have long waited for a winner.

For a franchise that has made the playoffs once in the last 18 years, talking about the postseason at any time might seem strange, let alone before any exhibitions have been played. Looking at the roster — on paper, anyway — it’s easy to see why the Warriors don’t find that goal so silly.

The Bogut-Curry combo, if healthy, would be teamed with power forward David Lee, second-year shooting guard Klay Thompson and either Brandon Rush or seventh overall pick Harrison Barnes of North Carolina at small forward. Golden State is deeper than in recent years, too, with Jarrett Jack, Carl Landry and Richard Jefferson complementing rookies Draymond Green and Festus Ezeli, who both impressed enough during summer league and off season workouts to be considered rotation players.

Jackson also has had more time to prepare this season than last, when the labor lockout eliminated most of the offseason and training camp — not to mention limiting practice time during the crammed 66-game schedule. Injuries also decimated the roster, which has been quickly reconstructed under new general manager Bob Myers, and that has Jackson more optimistic than anything after going 23-43 last season.

“What makes us better is not the timetable,” Jackson said. “It’s the talent.”

Bogut, the 2005 No. 1 overall pick and best center the franchise has had in at least a decade, fractured his left ankle Jan. 25 with Milwaukee and sat out the rest of the season when he was acquired in a trade for guard Monta Ellis. He isn’t expected to be ready at the start of training camp Tuesday, but Jackson is hopeful Bogut will be in the starting lineup for the regular-season opener at Phoenix on Oct. 31.

Curry, who was medically cleared to resume all basketball-related activities last week, repeatedly sprained his surgically repaired right ankle last season while playing only 26 games. The team said his most recent operation on April 25 was an “exploratory procedure” that “revealed a stable ankle with no structural damage and consisted of cleaning out loose debris and scar tissue.”

Injuries aside, Jackson has been pleased with the progress his team made over the summer.

He said the reason he made the bold playoff prediction when he was hired last year was to “change the culture” of a losing franchise that, despite all its failures, is consistently among the NBA’s top-10 in attendance and whose fans are among the most vocal in the sports saturated Bay Area.

An example of those changes Jackson points to is the noise he hears in the gym, weight room and video room at all hours. Since Labor Day, he said every player has been at Golden State's facility except beleaguered backup center Andris Biedrins, who is owed $9 million this season and has a $9 million player option for 2013-14.

Jackson said he will still give the center every opportunity during training camp, although he won’t discount the effort made by others who showed up voluntarily.

“I think you make a statement by being here,” Jackson said.

One thing Jackson is not concerned about is his image.

An ordained minister who spends his Sundays preaching at the church he and his wife own in Southern California, Jackson and his family were the targets of an extortion attempt related to an extramarital affair he had in six years ago, which became public in June. Jackson said “the process is still going forward” with the investigation.

He said he never addressed the situation with his players, and didn't feel the need to, saying his moral authority as a minister or coach has not been weakened.

“You show who you really are in the face of adversity,” Jackson said. “You own it, and you move forward. This is something (six) years ago. I’ve been who I am before the (six) years. And one owned mishap won't define me. And anybody who wants to define me by that, I’m fine with it. But I’m going to keep it moving, and I’m going to keep on being who God called me to be.”

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