Thursday, July 31, 2008

Dodgers Nab Manny Ramirez At Trade Deadline


Say what you will about Dodgers owner Frank McCourt, but his desire to win cannot be questioned. Since he has been holding the wallet, LA has shown a willingness to spend money-- even if some of the spending has been ill-advised (i.e. Jason Schmidt, Andruw Jones).

And now with the opportunity to acquire one of the top 5 hitters in the game-- even if it's only for a few months--the Dodgers pulled the trigger just before the deadline in hopes of not just making the playoffs, but being a serious contender once they get there.

Even with Ramirez set to be a free-agent in the off-season, the deal was still a no-brainer when you think about it. The Dodgers part ways with a struggling Andy LaRoche and a minor league pitcher, while the Red Sox will still pay the remainder of the contract for Ramirez this season.

So, enjoy it while you can, Dodger fans. Ramirez in Dodger Blue won't last long, but it could be one memorable ride.


DODGERS ACQUIRE 12-TIME ALL-STAR MANNY RAMIREZ FROM BOSTON RED SOX

Dodgers send infielder Andy LaRoche and right-handed pitcher Bryan Morris to the Red Sox;
Pittsburgh acquires LaRoche, Morris, outfielder Brandon Moss, and right-handed pitcher Craig Hansen from Boston in exchange for outfielder Jason Bay


LOS ANGELES – The Los Angeles Dodgers today acquired 12-time All-Star Manny Ramirez and cash considerations from the Boston Red Sox in exchange for infielder Andy LaRoche and right-handed pitcher Bryan Morris. General Manager Ned Colletti made the announcement.

Following the trade, the Pittsburgh Pirates acquired LaRoche, Morris, outfielder Brandon Moss, and right-hander Craig Hansen from Boston in exchange for outfielder Jason Bay.

A 12-time American League All-Star, including each of the last 11 seasons, Ramirez has won nine AL Silver Slugger Awards during his 16 Major League seasons. The 36-year-old is a career .312 hitter with 493 doubles, 510 home runs, and 1,672 RBI in 2,050 games with Cleveland (1993-2000) and Boston (2001-2008). He was the AL batting champ in 2002 with a .349 average and the 2004 AL home run champ with 43.

Ramirez ranks 23rd on baseball’s all-time home run list, and is one of only 11 players in baseball history with at least 11 seasons with 30 or more homers (1995-96, 1998-2006). He has also hit at least 20 home runs in 14 straight seasons, including a career-high 45 in 1998 with Cleveland and 2005 with Boston.

Ramirez won two World Series championships with Boston in 2004 and 2007, and was named the World Series Most Valuable Player in 2004. The Dominican Republic native is a veteran of nine postseasons overall, including four World Series. He also played in the 1995 and 1997 Fall Classics with Cleveland. Ramirez is baseball’s all-time post-season home run leader with 24, and ranks second with 64 RBI.

Among active players, Ramirez ranks third in RBI, fifth in home runs, sixth in on-base percentage (.409), and seventh in batting average. He also ranks eighth in baseball history, and second among active players behind only Albert Pujols (.620), with a .590 slugging percentage. His 2,318 hits rank 10th among active players, while his 493 doubles are tied for fourth.

Ramirez ranks 23rd on baseball’s all-time RBI list with 1,672. He has logged at least 100 RBI in 11 seasons, including nine straight campaigns from 1998-2006. Since “RBI” became an official statistic in 1920, only eight players in history have recorded nine consecutive seasons of at least 100 RBI. Ramirez has 1,300 RBI since the start of the 1998 season, trailing only Alex Rodriguez (1,340) among all Major Leaguers in that time. Ramirez’s 401 home runs in that same span rank third, behind only Rodriguez (477) and Sammy Sosa (402).

Ramirez leaves Boston ranking fifth in franchise history with 274 home runs and a .411 on-base percentage. He also ranks fourth in Red Sox history with a .588 slugging percentage and sixth with 868 RBI.

Ramirez, who graduated from George Washington High School in Bronx, New York in 1991, hit .299 with 22 doubles, 20 homers, and 68 RBI in 100 games with the Red Sox in 2008. He hit career homer No. 500 on May 31 at Baltimore, accomplishing the feat in his 7,263rd at-bat, eighth fewest all-time. Ramirez was originally selected by the Indians as the 13th overall pick of the 1993 First-Year Player Draft. He then signed with Boston as a free agent on December 13, 2000.

The 24-year-old LaRoche, who was selected by the Dodgers in the 39th round of the 2003 draft, hit .217 with three homers and 16 RBI in 62 games with Los Angeles over the last two seasons. He is batting .294 with 95 homers and 331 RBI in 494 minor league games. LaRoche played 27 games with the Dodgers in 2008, batting .203 with two homers and six RBI. He is hitting a combined .284 with five homers and 27 RBI in 42 games this season with Las Vegas of the Triple-A Pacific Coast League and Jacksonville of the Double-A Southern League.

Morris, 21, was the second of two first-round picks (26th overall) of the Dodgers in the 2006 draft, and is 6-9 with a 4.16 ERA in 30 professional starts. After missing the entire 2007 season due to “Tommy John” ligament-replacement surgery, he is 2-4 with a 3.39 ERA in 16 starts this year with Great Lakes of the Single-A Midwest league.

The Los Angeles Dodgers, pioneers in sport and world culture, are celebrating their 50th anniversary in 2008. In that period, they have won more games, more pennants, and more World Series than any other club in the National League. Since the start of the modern era in baseball, the Dodgers of Brooklyn and Los Angeles, combined, have a cumulative attendance of more than 177 million, the highest total in the history of baseball or any other sport.

Visit the Dodgers on the Internet at http://www.dodgers.com/.

CLIPPERS SIGN FREE AGENT BRIAN SKINNER


The Los Angeles Clippers signed veteran forward Brian Skinner, Vice President of Basketball Operations announced today. Per team policy, terms of the deal were not announced.

Originally drafted by the Clippers in the first round (22nd overall pick) of the 1998 NBA Draft, Skinner is a 10-year NBA veteran who returns to Los Angeles after playing 66 games last season with the Phoenix Suns. Skinner averaged 3.3 points, 3.6 rebounds and 0.2 assists for Phoenix in 2007-08.

“Brian Skinner is a veteran NBA player who will give us both size and depth in the middle,” Baylor said. “We are familiar with Brian, and know that he will be a good fit in his return to the Clippers.”

Skinner has averaged 4.9 points, 4.9 rebounds and 0.5 assists in 538 career NBA games with eight different teams. The six-foot-nine forward started his career with the Clippers in 1998-99 and played three seasons in Los Angeles.

“We are very pleased to add Brian to our front line,” Clippers head coach Mike Dunleavy said. “He adds great size, presence and veteran experience to our team.”

In addition to the Clippers and Suns, the Texas native has also played for Cleveland, Philadelphia, Milwaukee, Sacramento and Portland during his NBA tenure and has played in 21 career playoff games.

Lakers To Host Euro League Team In Preseason



David Stern's dream of having NBA teams in Europe may be approaching faster than any of us realize.

First, it was NBA teams traveling across the Atlantic for part of their training camps. Now, the process is starting to flow in both directions.

Here's an excerpt from an article posted on http://lakers.com about the Lakers hosting Spanish League powerhouse FC Barcelona in a preseason game at Staples Center:

The National Basketball Association (NBA) and Euroleague Basketball have announced that three Euroleague teams will compete in five NBA preseason games from October 10-21, 2008.

The five games, which are part of the Euroleague American Tour, will be played by 2008 Euroleague champion CSKA Moscow (Russia), FC Barcelona (Spain) and Lietuvos Rytas (Lithuania). The teams may face up to five NBA opponents including the Golden State Warriors, the Los Angeles Lakers, the Orlando Magic, the Toronto Raptors and possibly the Los Angeles Clippers.

“These games continue our collaboration with Euroleague Basketball, as we work together to grow the game of basketball on a global basis,” said NBA Commissioner David Stern.


http://www.nba.com/lakers/news/080730lakersfcbarcelona.html


There's A Tractor Rolling Through LA


If you hear a loud "boom" or feel the earth rattle sometime today near LAX, don't worry. It's likely not an another earthquake, but rather Robert "Tractor" Traylor working out for the Lakers at their practice facility in El Segundo.

I know the Lakers are a little short of personnel right now with only 12 guys signed for next season, but is the talent pool of players so shallow that a guy who hasn't played in the league in 3 years really be a viable option?

But who knows, maybe Traylor has re-committed himself to his game and steps on the Lakers practice floor in the best shape of his life. That alone would be a victory within itself.

Here's more on the story from the Orange County Register:

The Lakers confirmed Wednesday that former NBA player Robert “Tractor” Traylor has been invited to their El Segundo practice facility for a private workout to be conducted Thursday.

The 31-year old Traylor has not played in the NBA since the 2004-2005 season, when he averaged 5.5 points and 4.5 rebounds in 74 games with the Cleveland Cavaliers.

Traylor will be put through an assortment of drills by the Lakers’ coaching staff that likely will include Bill Bertka, who has been at the practice facility this week.

If the workout goes well, Traylor likely would be signed to a non-guaranteed contract and invited to training camp.


http://lakers.freedomblogging.com/2008/07/30/theres-a-tractor-in-the-gym/#more-1225


Shaun Livingston Update


I bumped into Shaun Livingston last week while I was in Chicago for the Unity Journalists Convention. He's back there working out with famed trainer Tim Grover, who after getting his start with Michael Jordan is considered to be the best in the business around NBA circles.

Shaun told me that he feels great, and that he can't wait to get back on the court. However, it's the latter over which he has no control.

First, his doctor must clear him for full-court, full-contact practice. Right now, he's been limited to 1-on-1 drills.
Second, even after he's cleared to run up and down without limitations, he still has to wait for a team to offer him a contract. For a guy who's used to running the point and dictating the action, these two uncertainties give him the most concern.

The Clippers continue to state that they want Shaun back for next season, but they aren't going to offer him millions of dollars without some type of assurances that he's 100% healthy.

Shaun's on the top of our radar. We keep up with his progress, said Clippers Director of Player Personnel Neil Olshey. "Hopefully he'll end up in a Clippers uniform come October."

Shaun is a class individual, who wants nothing more than to prove that he is the star-in-waiting the Clippers thought he was when they drafted him number 4 overall in 2005. I just hope his knee is up to the challenge.

Dan Dickau Worth $4 Million A Year?


With the recent move by Josh Childress to turn down the Atlanta Hawks for a more lucrative deal with a team in Greece, there's been talk and concern that more and more NBA players will make the leap across the pond and play in Europe.

Only time and, ultimately, money will determine if Childress becomes a trendsetter or just a rarity.

But having said that, it appears that there's plenty of money available to American players willing to take their skills abroad.

Check out the following excerpt from an article in the Oregonian regarding former Clipper Dan Dickau, who was originally willing to accept the league minimum to stay in LA:

According to Realgm.com, Unics Kazan, a team in the Russian Basketball Super League, has offered to pay Dickau $4 million a season for two years. Dickau, 29, averaged 5.3 points and 2.6 assists while playing in 67 games for the Los Angeles Clippers last season.
Dickau earned $770,610 last season and is an unrestricted free agent this summer.

"Sometimes, players get caught up in the, 'I'm an NBA player and I'm only going to play in the NBA,' ego thing," said Dickau, who called the Realgm.com report an Internet rumor. "If there's a situation that's better -- career-wise and financially -- you hope you could put your ego on the backburner and make the best decision."

Dickau's agent, Mark Bartlestein, said a number of NBA and European teams are interested in the point guard.

"There's some folks we've spoken to in Russia," Bartlestein said. "There are a number of high-level teams that are pursuing him."

Wednesday, July 30, 2008

CLIPPERS WAIVE JOSH POWELL


The Los Angeles Clippers today waived forward Josh Powell, it was announced by Vice President of Basketball Operations Elgin Baylor.

In 64 games played last season, Powell averaged 5.5 points, 5.2 rebounds and 19.2 minutes per game.

Chargers FanFest FREE on Saturday


Chargers FanFest ’08 at Qualcomm Stadium on Saturday, August 2 will be a special day for kids of all ages and, best of all, it’s free.

The parking lot gates open at 8:00 am and the stadium gates open at 9:30 am. Players and Charger Girls will be greeting fans, signing autographs and posing for pictures at the autograph session sponsored by See’s Candies from 10:15-11 am.

At FanFest – presented by Bud Light – parking and admission are free, and kids 14-and-under can shake hands and get an autograph from the 2007 AFC West Champion Chargers. And fans should bring an appetite because hot dogs and sodas will cost just $1 each. Other fun activities for kids include temporary tattoos, balloon animals and a variety of fun surprises.

Fans will enjoy the rare opportunity to see an NFL practice from 11am - 1pm. The latest in Chargers merchandise, including jerseys, hats and shirts, will be available at the Chargers Team Store.

Fans can find more information by going to http://www.chargers.com/ or calling (858) 874-4500.

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Paul Pierce: I'm The Best Player In The World

I guess when you are the reigning NBA Finals MVP from the reigning NBA Championship team, you can say pretty much anything you want. Well, that's exactly what Paul Pierce did recently in Spain.

He was in Madrid for a basketball camp when a Spanish reporter asked him if Kobe Bryant was the best basketball player in the world-- a belief widely held throughout basketball circles, except Inglewood evidently.

Not only did Pierce claim that he was the world's top baller, but he went as far to say why Kobe should not be considered the best. And Pierce's reasoning did not have anything to do with Kobe's on-court skills. It was more about Kobe's ego than his game.

Check out the interview posted on Red's Army: http://redsarmy.wordpress.com/2008/07/29/the-spanish-interview/

Breaking News: Kings To Trade Artest To Rockets


So much for the Lakers landing Ron Artest for next season. He's reportedly heading to Houston in exchange for former King Bobby Jackson and a number one draft pick.

I was kind of on the fence about what acquiring Artest would do for the Lakers. He would definitely make them tougher both physically and mentally. However, I also wondered how he would mesh with Phil Jackson, but it doesn't really matter now either way.

The question still remains though: is the return of Andrew Bynum simply enough to push the Lakers towards another championship run?

HOUSTON (TICKER) —The Houston Rockets are close to acquiring mercurial forward Ron Artest in a trade with the Sacramento Kings, according to a report in the Houston Chronicle on Tuesday.

Citing an NBA executive with knowledge of the deal, the newspaper reported that the teams reached an agreement that would send Artest to the Rockets for guard Bobby Jackson, a first-round pick next season and “another player that the individual with knowledge of the trade could not name.”

The Chronicle also said that because of contract considerations, the trade would not be announced until August 14, causing the newspaper to speculate that the deal could include Houston’s No. 1 pick, Donte Greene, who cannot be traded until then - one month after he inked a deal with the Rockets.


LA Blocks New Fast-food Outlets From Poor Areas


I can see both sides of this issue, but I believe this measure is a courageous one for a city to take. I also think it is the right one.

I have heard countless people talk about how overweight poor people are as a way to condemn welfare and other social programs. Their argument is they have so much excess money that they are eating themselves fat.

The truth is the least expensive food carries the most calories and fat generally. So it is not the amount of food low-income families are eating that is leading to an epidemic of obesity, but rather the types of food that are readily available in poor neighborhoods.

And this trend is particularly devastating to minorities. Compared with Caucasians, African-Americans have a 60 percent higher risk of developing diabetes and Hispanics have a 90 percent increased risk. It's not being handed down by genetics, but rather zip codes.

Let's just hope that more health-conscience restaurants will take this opportunity to open outlets in these communities. They can fatten their bottom line while helping the neighborhood trim its collective waistline.


By CHRISTINA HOAG, Associated Press Writer
LOS ANGELES - City officials are putting South Los Angeles on a diet. The City Council voted unanimously Tuesday to place a moratorium on new fast food restaurants in an impoverished swath of the city with a proliferation of such eateries and above average rates of obesity.

The yearlong moratorium is intended to give the city time to attract restaurants that serve healthier food. The action, which the mayor must still sign into law, is believed to be the first of its kind by a major city to protect public health.

"Our communities have an extreme shortage of quality foods," City Councilman Bernard Parks said.

Representatives of fast-food chains said they support the goal of better diets but believe they are being unfairly targeted. They say they already offer healthier food items on their menus.

"It's not where you eat, it's what you eat," said Andrew Pudzer, president and chief executive of CKE Restaurants, parent company of Carl's Jr. "We were willing to work with the city on that, but they obviously weren't interested."

http://news.yahoo.com/s/ap/20080730/ap_on_re_us/fast_food_ban

Breaking News: Angels Land Teixeira



















My first response after the news of this trade broke was that this was a great move for the Angels. Since then, I have talked to some people within and close to the organization, and the consensus is unanimous: adding Mark Teixeira to the lineup solidifies the Angels as the team to beat in the American League.

Here's the official release from the team:

ANAHEIM, CA - The Angels Tuesday acquired first baseman Mark Teixeira from the Atlanta Braves in exchange for first baseman Casey Kotchman and minor league right-handed pitcher Steve Marek. This announcement was made by club General Manager Tony Reagins.

“We’re pleased to bring Mark into the Angels family,” said Reagins. “He is a tremendous player and we feel he will impact our club in a very positive way.”

Teixeira, 28, is batting .283 (108/381) with 63 runs scored, 27 doubles, 20 home runs and 78 RBI in 102 games with the Braves this season. Among NL leaders, the switch-hitter ranks fifth in walks (65), sixth in RBI and tied for fifth in RBI ratio (a RBI in every 4.9 at-bats).

A native of Annapolis, MD, Teixeira was originally selected by the Texas Rangers in the first round (fifth overall) of the 2001 June free agent draft. He was acquired by the Braves (along with LHP Ron Mahay) in exchange for C Jarrod Saltalamacchia, LHP Matt Harrison, INF Elvis Andrus, RHP Neftali Perez and LHP Beau Jones, July 31, 2007.

A two-time Gold Glove first baseman, Teixeira owns a lifetime .286 average (920/3221) with 209 doubles, 13 triples, 190 home runs and 633 RBI in 850 games. Since 2003, his 412 extra-base rank fifth in the major leagues. Teixeira also ranks second in the major leagues with 47 RBI since May 29th (Ryan Howard, PHI, 56).

Teixeira resides in Westlake, TX with his wife Georgia and their children Jack and Addison. He will wear number 25 with the Angels.

Kotchman, 24, is currently batting .287 (107/373) with 47 runs scored, 24 doubles, 12 home runs and 54 RBI in 100 games with the Angels. Since his major league debut in 2005, he owns a career .287 average (311/1137) with 140 runs scored, 74 doubles, three triples, 31 home runs and 165 RBI in 351 games.

A native of St. Petersburg, FL, Kotchman was originally drafted by the Angels in the first round (13th pick overall) of the 2001 free agent draft. He is the son of longtime Angels minor league manager Tom Kotchman (who currently manages rookie level Orem in the Pioneer League).

Marek, 24, is 2-6 with a 3.66 ERA (19 ER – 46.2 IP) and three saves in 34 relief appearances for the double-A Arkansas Travelers. He has 21 walks and 57 strikeouts. Marek, a native of Houston, TX, was originally selected by the Angels in the 40th round of the 2004 free agent draft out of San Jacinto Community College in Houston.

USC/UCLA College Football Previews Debut This Weekend on FSN Prime Ticket



Rick Neuheisel Speaks with FSN PRIME TICKET This Friday at 11 PM;
USC Coaches Pete Carroll and Rocky Seto Share Their Thoughts Saturday at 10:30 PM


Los Angeles – FSN PRIME TICKET prepares Southern California college football fans for the upcoming season with two, half-hour Pac-10 football preview shows. The UCLA Preview Show debuts Friday, August 1 at 11:00 PM. The USC Preview Show airs Saturday, August 2 at 10:30 PM. Both programs follow “Dodgers Live” featuring Dodgers vs. Diamondbacks post-game analysis.

The UCLA Preview Show features Rick Neuheisel as he sits down with host and Pac-10 football reporter Michael Eaves to discuss his inaugural season as Head Coach of the Bruins and first-year UCLA Offensive Coordinator Norm Chow. Eaves also provides an in-depth look at the team and position battles as the team enters two-a-day practices. Special features include highly touted middle linebacker Reggie Carter and hearing impaired true freshman Derrick Coleman.

Host and Pac-10 football reporter Lindsay Soto provides viewers with a preview of the 2008 USC squad and a closer look at the team’s Spring Game performance during Saturday’s USC Preview Show. Features include Head Coach Pete Carroll in a sit-down interview with FSN PRIME TICKET reporter Patrick O’Neal and a profile on Secondary Coach Rocky Seto, one of only a few Japanese American football coaches in NCAA Division I football today.

Concluding each Preview Show, Pac-10 football analyst Petros Papadakis delivers his season outlook for both UCLA and USC.

About FSN PRIME TICKET
FSN PRIME TICKET and its sister network, FSN WEST, have provided local sports coverage to Southern California, Nevada and Hawaii for over 20 years. Together, FSN PRIME TICKET and FSN WEST present more live, local sports programming than any other network or broadcast system in the market, producing over 700 live sporting events and telecast 5,000 hours of original programming every year. For complete national and regional sports news, provocative opinions, telecast schedules and updated statistics, log-on to www.foxsports.com.


-- FSN PRIME TICKET --

US Deficit Zooming To Half-trillion As Bush Leaves


What if you gave me $236 only to find out later that I now owed several people in excess of $482? So, not only did I blow through the money you gave me, but then I turned around and spent another $482 that I didn't have.

Well, that's exactly what the George W. Bush administration has done since taking office, except we aren't talking dollars, but rather BILLIONS of them.

That's right, President Bush will leave office with the United States facing a record deficit of nearly $500 billion. How's that for a welcome gift for Barack Obama or John McCain?

As bad as that number is, I fear it will only get worse if the Republicans run the White House for the next four years. Senator McCain has publicly admitted several times that the economy is not his strong suit, thus one could conclude that he will be more likely to be swayed by Republican economic strategists, and that would mean more of the same from the White House.

What? You're saying just because President Bush subscribed to a certain economic plan that it doesn't mean Senator McCain would do the same thing if he became president? Really?

Well, I've always believed the reason we study history is to prevent us from repeating mistakes from the past, but evidently the Republicans do not believe in such a philosophy.

Check out this excerpt from an article written by Robert Freeman on CommonDreams.org in October of 2004:

When Reagan took office in 1981, the national debt stood at $995 billion. Twelve years later, by the end of George H.W. Bush’s presidency, it had exploded to $4 trillion. Reagan was a “B” grade movie actor and a doddering, probably clinically senile president, but he was a sheer genius at rewarding his friends by saddling other people with debts.

Bill Clinton reversed Reagan’s course, raising taxes on the wealthy, and lowering them for the working and middle classes. This produced the longest sustained economic expansion in American history. Importantly, it also produced budgetary surpluses allowing the government to begin paying down the crippling debt begun under Reagan. In 2000, Clinton’s last year, the surplus amounted to $236 billion. The forecast ten year surplus stood at $5.6 trillion. It was the last black ink America would see for decades, perhaps forever.

George W. Bush immediately reversed Clinton’s policy in order to revive Reagan’s, once again showering an embarrassment of riches on the already most embarrassingly rich, his “base” as he calls them. He ladled out some $630 billion in tax cuts to the top 1% of income earners. In true Republican fashion, they returned the favor by investing over $200 million to ensure Bush’s re-election. Do the math. A $630 billion return on a $200 million investment: $3,160 for $1. I’ll give you $3,160. All I ask is that you give me $1 back so I can keep the goodness flowing. Do we have a deal? Republicans know return on investment.

But the cost to the public has been a return to the exploding deficits of the Reagan years. Bush blew through Clinton’s surplus in his first year. The 2004 deficit reached $415 billion, a record.

And it's only gotten worse sense.

Look, I am not saying I am some sort of economic genius. Heck, I didn't even take one money-related class in college. However, I do have sense enough to know when something isn't working that I should try something else. And the republican economic strategies simply do not work for the entire population.

Giving the wealthiest people tax breaks with hopes of them investing that money on Wall Street is not a proven means of boosting the economy. It never has been. What really moves the stock market is when companies show positive gains in their annual projections, and that money does not come from investments, but rather people and companies actually buying their goods and services. And we all know that goods and services are mostly purchased by working and middle-class families.

If Ronald Reagan taught us anything, it was that the economy does not trickle down, but rather up!

http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2008/07/29/AR2008072900539.html

Clippers Sign Ricky Davis


It was a foregone conclusion that the Clippers would be very active this summer, but no one could have anticipated this much activity. Mike Dunleavy will have at least seven new players at his disposal next season, but as large as that number is, what most people may remember from this 2008 off-season are the names that got away.

The Clippers thought they had Elton Brand locked up. He, instead, bolted to Philly.

LA did not think Golden State would match the offer sheet for Kelenna Azubuike. The Warriors did exactly that after Maurice Evans asked for more money.

So what do the Clippers have to show for all their near-misses? Marcus Camby and Ricky Davis. Both are veteran players who have been dominating at times during countless regular season games. And while, they were not the first choice at their respective positions, LA could have done much, much worse.


By Ramona Shelburne, LA Daily News Staff Writer
Less than a week after losing out on restricted free agent Kelenna Azubuike, the Clippers regrouped by signing unrestricted free agent swingman Ricky Davis on Monday afternoon.

Davis, 28, averaged 13.8 points, 4.3 rebounds and 3.4 assists while playing in all 82 games for the Miami Heat last season. He shot 43.3 percent from the floor, and - perhaps most importantly - 40.5 percent on 3-pointers.

A source told the Daily News that the deal was for two years, with a player option on the second year. Davis will make $2.3 million next season and slightly more than that in 2009-10 should he stay with the club.

"We believe he will be a good addition," Clippers general manager Elgin Baylor said of Davis. "His versatility and ability to shoot from the outside will spread the floor and help our low post players."

The team had also considered former Lakers small forward Devean George for the role Davis will be filling, according to an NBA source.

Davis, a 6-foot-7 small forward/shooting guard, had his best season in 2002-03 with the Cleveland Cavaliers, averaging 20.6 points, 5.5 assists and 4.9 rebounds in 79 games.

Back In The Mix

Wow, it's amazing how much can happen when you are away for a few days. We sometimes tend to forget that the world does not stop, even if we stop participating for a while.

In case some of you were wondering, I was in Chicago last week attending the Unity Journalists Convention. The conference convenes every four years, bringing together black, asian, hispanic and native american journalists from across the country.

This was my third Unity Convention, as I have attended every NABJ convention since 1997. Early in my career, I used this annual event to improve my skills and seek the next move in my career path. These days, it's all about paying it forward by helping some young journalists with their job training.

Some of the highlights of this year's convention: 1) The location: It's hard to beat Chicago in the summer. 2) The NABJ Sports Task Force Party: We haven't quite gotten to the level of the Maxim or Playboy parties at the Super Bowl, but we are trying to get there. 3) Barack Obama: One day after returning from his world tour, the Democratic Presidential nominee fielded a myriad of questions in front of the assembled Unity journalists.

But now it's back to the grind. And judging by the post directly below this one, I've got some catching up to do since Kelenna Azubuike will NOT be playing for the Clippers next season.

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Azubuike Almost A Lock To Be A Clipper


In the wake of what possibly could have turned into the worst off-season in the history of the team, the Clippers seem to be responding quite well. First, they basically robbed Denver for Marcus Camby, and now it appears that Kelenna Azubuike will wear red, white and blue next season.

My friend Brad Turner of the Riverside Press-Enterprise is reporting that two NBA sources believe the Warriors will not match the 3-year, $9.3 million dollar offer sheet Azubuike signed with the Clippers. It seems as though the price is too high now that Golden State has signed Corey Maggette, Ronny Turiaf and Maurice Evans, not to mention the trade for Marcus Williams from the Nets.

So with a potential starting lineup of Baron Davis, Cuttino Mobley, Al Thornton, Marcus Camby and Chris Kaman and a bench consisting of Tim Thomas, Brevin Knight, Eric Gordon and Azubuike, the Clippers might not be as bad as first believed.

Castillo Signs New 7-year Contract

The Chargers haven't always been the best organization when it comes to making personnel decisions, especially ones centering on their own players. However, things may be changing in San Diego.

The deal is basically a 5-year extension to his current deal. He is guaranteed $17.5 million and could possibly earn as much as $43 million.


The Chargers have signed defensive end Luis Castillo to a new seven-year contract that will keep him in San Diego through the 2014 season. Castillo's original rookie contract was set to expire after the 2009 season.


"Since his arrival, Luis has played a huge role in the success we've had as a defense," Chargers General Manager A.J. Smith said. "He's an ascending player who is committed to getting better. We're thrilled that he'll be a Charger for years to come."

Castillo was the second of the Chargers' two first-round draft picks in 2005. In three NFL seasons, he's played in 36 games and started 33. Lauded for his strength, quickness and athleticism, the Northwestern University grad has posted 13 career sacks, including a career-high seven in 2006.

For more information on Castillo's signing, log on to Chargers.com.

Back From Vegas


I know you've heard this before, but sorry I was away for so long. I spent this past weekend in Las Vegas celebrating my birthday. And before you try to ask, I'll just tell you. I turned 36 on July 20th.

Las Vegas is one of my favorite getaway destinations because you can do anything you want, anytime you want. I won't get into any details about my weekend in an effort to protect both the guilty and the innocent, but there were a few highlights worth sharing.

* Kelenna Azubuike, who had just signed an offer sheet from the Clippers, sat two rows in front of me on our Southwest flight from LAX to Vegas. I didn't even find out that the Golden State forward had signed the offer sheet until I was eating lunch at The Burger Bar in Mandalay Place. And guess who was sitting directly behind me when I heard the news: Warriors Head Coach Don Nelson.

* The Hard Rock Pool took party-goers back to the 80's with some old school hip-hop. Rehab is, by far, the most popular pool party event in Las Vegas. But the Hard Rock also deserves some mad props for their live music guests at the pool this past weekend: De La Soul and Ice-T. Nothing makes you reminisce more than songs from your teenage years!

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

CLIPPERS ACQUIRE MARCUS CAMBY FROM DENVER


My first response when I received this news release was, "Wow!" I agree with Mike Dunleavy. I think this is a great pickup for the Clippers.

They won't only have two bigs that can run the floor in Camby and Chris Kaman, but they will now have the best shot blocking frontcourt in the league. Plus, the extra playoff experience can only help this roster.


The Los Angeles Clippers today acquired forward Marcus Camby from the Nuggets. In return, Denver will have the option to exchange second round picks with the Clippers in 2010.

The NBA Defensive Player of the Year in 2006-07, Camby comes to the Clippers with a reputation as one of the top defenders in the league. A 12-year veteran, Camby led the NBA in blocked shots last year (3.61) for the third straight season, becoming only the second player in NBA history to lead the league in three consecutive seasons.

“I love this acquisition for the current make up of our team,” Clippers head coach Mike Dunleavy said. “We are getting a consummate pro who is maybe the best team defender in the league and who has 60 playoff games under his belt.”

Camby played in a career-high 79 games last season for the Nuggets, averaging a career-high 13.1 rebounds and 9.1 points in a career-best 34.9 minutes per game while ranking first in the NBA in rebounds per 48 minutes (18.0).

“I think this is a very good addition for us, especially since we’re getting a player who can really help us without having to give up a player in return.” Clippers Vice President of Basketball Operations Elgin Baylor said. “Marcus can play multiple positions and is one of the better rebounders and shot-blockers in the league. With him playing alongside [Chris] Kaman I think we will have a pair of excellent interior defenders, and that will make us a formidable team.”

A member of the NBA All-Defensive Team in 2006-07 and named to the All-Defensive Second Team in 2004-05 and 2005-06, Camby played the last six seasons in Denver after four years with the Knicks. Drafted by the Toronto Raptors with the second overall selection in the 1996 NBA Draft after a stellar career at the University of Massachusetts, Camby was named to the 1996-97 All-Rookie First Team.

Camby has appeared in 60 NBA Playoff games in his career, with the Hartford, Connecticut native averaging 8.6 points and 8.8 rebounds in the postseason.

CLIPPERS SIGN DEANDRE JORDAN AND MIKE TAYLOR



The Los Angeles Clippers today signed 2008 second round draft picks center DeAndre Jordan (35th overall) and guard Mike Taylor (55th overall) Vice President of Basketball Operations Elgin Baylor announced.

Jordan and Taylor are both currently with the Clippers entry in the 2008 Las Vegas NBA Summer League. Through the first three games, Jordan is averaging 8.3 points and 6.7 rebounds in 23.3 minutes, while Taylor is the team’s third-leading scorer with 10.7 points per game, 4.7 rebounds and 2.3 assists in 25.7 minutes in Las Vegas.

A dominating inside presence for Texas A&M during the 2007-08 season, Jordan averaged 7.9 points, 6.0 rebounds and 1.3 blocks during his freshman campaign. Jordan, 19, earned Big 12 All-Rookie Team honors and started 21 of 35 games. Jordan scored in double-figures 13 times and pulled down 10 or more rebounds six times.

Taylor was acquired by the Clippers on draft night from the Portland Trailblazers in exchange for a second round selection in the 2009 NBA Draft. Taylor, who averaged 14.5 points in 39 games for the Idaho Stampede in the NBA Development League in 2007-08, was selected by the Trailblazers with the 55th selection of the 2008 NBA Draft. Taylor, 22, enjoyed a successful 2006-07 season at Iowa State where he led the Cyclones in scoring (16.0 ppg), assists (4.5 rpg) and steals (1.1 spg) en route to earning Honorable Mention All-Big 12 honors from the Associated Press and league coaches.

LUKE WALTON TO UNDERGO ANKLE SURGERY

Just received this news release from the Lakers.


EL SEGUNDO- Los Angeles Lakers forward Luke Walton will undergo surgery Friday to remove bone spurs from his right ankle, it was announced today.

The surgery will be performed in Los Angeles by Dr. David Thordarson.

An update, with an estimate for Walton’s recovery time, will be issued following the surgery.

Fred Dean To Enter Chargers Hall Of Fame


Defensive end Fred Dean, a four-time Pro Bowl selection during his 11-year career and 2008 Pro Football Hall of Fame inductee, has been selected as the 34th member of the San Diego Chargers Hall of Fame.

The formal induction ceremony will take place at halftime of the Chargers game against the New England Patriots on October 12.

“Fred was such a dominating player. He had the ability to take over and control a game,” said Chargers President Dean Spanos. “Teams needed to use more than one player to block Fred. No single player could block him.”

“The Chargers Hall of Fame is a great honor for me,” Dean said. “So many of my teammates have made it into the Chargers Hall of Fame, and now I get to join them. It’s very touching to me.”

A standout college linebacker at Louisiana Tech, the Chargers selected Dean in the second round of the 1975 NFL Draft and moved him to defensive end, where he spent his entire professional career. Dean represented a new breed of smaller but quicker defensive ends and was one of the most feared pass rushers of his era. He used his speed and quickness to fly past offensive tackles and reach opposing quarterbacks.

The NFL did not make sacks an official statistic until 1982, but numbers kept by teams indicate that he recorded nearly 100 sacks during his 11-year career. In 1978, Dean unofficially posted 15.5 sacks, which would be the third-highest single-season mark in Chargers history were it official. He unofficially logged nine sacks in 1979 and 10.5 in 1980.

“Those teams had a family bond,” Dean said. “Especially the guys I played with in the defensive line -- Louie Kelcher, Wilbur Young, Charles DeJurnett, Gary Johnson and Leroy Jones. And guys on the offensive line like Russ Washington and Doug Wilkerson to name a couple. Those are the guys I remember when I think about the Chargers.”

Early in the 1981 season, Dean was traded to the San Francisco 49ers where he continued to thrive as a disruptive force.

Dean played for five division winners during his 11-year career. He played in three NFC championship games and in two of San Francisco’s Super Bowl victories. Dean earned all-conference honors four times – twice with the Chargers and twice with the 49ers. He was also named to four Pro Bowls (1980-82, 1984) and selected All-Pro twice (1980-1981).

Dean also is headed to Canton, Ohio this year for induction into the Pro Football Hall of Fame. He was one of six players voted in this year.

Dean is joined in the 2008 Hall of Fame class by a pair of former Washington Redskins, cornerback Darrell Green and wide receiver Art Monk, as well as former Patriots linebacker Andre Tippett, Vikings and Broncos offensive lineman Gary Zimmerman and Chiefs cornerback Emmitt Thomas. Inductions will be at the Pro Football Hall of Game in Canton, Ohio on Aug. 2.

“I thought Fred Dean was the best pass rusher in the National Football League,” said former teammate and Pro Football Hall of Famer Charlie Joiner. “He was a great football player and if he had any more size I think he would’ve been selected to the Hall of Fame earlier. He was kind of on the small side but he was extremely strong and he played so hard on every down. He was a great player and a great teammate.”

Fredrick Rudolph Dean, 56, was born in Arcadia, Louisiana and played football for the Ruston High Bearcats. Dean continued his playing career at Louisiana Tech University, named all-Southland Conference on teams that won 44 of 48 games.

Dean will join 33 members in the Chargers Hall of Fame, including (in order of induction): wide receiver Lance Alworth, tackle Ron Mix, running back Paul Lowe, running back Keith Lincoln, majority owner Barron Hilton, defensive tackle Ernie Ladd, guard Walt Sweeney, quarterback John Hadl, linebacker Chuck Allen, wide receiver Gary Garrison, head coach Sid Gillman, defensive end Earl Faison, quarterback Dan Fouts, wide receiver Charlie Joiner, head coach Don Coryell, cornerback Leslie “Speedy” Duncan, tight end Kellen Winslow, tackle Russ Washington, minority owner George Pernicano, kicker Rolf Benirschke, cornerback Gill Byrd, defensive lineman Gary “Big Hands” Johnson, offensive lineman Doug Wilkerson, wide receiver Wes Chandler, quarterback Stan Humphries, head coach Bobby Ross, defensive tackle Louie Kelcher, Tackle Ed White and Guard Don Macek. Linebackers Frank Buncom, Emil Karas, Bob Laraba, and tight end Jacque MacKinnon were all inducted posthumously as honorary members into the Chargers Hall of Fame in 1976.
###

Monday, July 14, 2008

Obama Tells NAACP Blacks Must Take Responsibility


Amen!

CINCINNATI (AP)- Democrat Barack Obama insisted Monday that blacks must show greater responsibility for their actions.

In remarks prepared for delivery at the annual NAACP convention, the man who could become the first black president, said Washington must provide greater education and economic assistance, but that blacks must demand more of themselves.

"If we're serious about reclaiming that dream, we have to do more in our own lives, our own families and our own communities," the Democratic presidential candidate said. "That starts with providing the guidance our children need, turning off the TV and putting away the video games; attending those parent-teacher conferences, helping our children with their homework and setting a good example."

He added: "I know some say I've been too tough on folks about this responsibility stuff. But I'm not going to stop talking about it. Because I believe that in the end, it doesn't matter how much money we invest in our communities, or how many 10-point plans we propose, or how many government programs we launch — none of it will make any difference if we don't seize more responsibility in our own lives."

Obama speaks often on this issue.

A similar speech on Father's Day prompted an awkward rebuke from the Rev. Jesse Jackson, a Democratic presidential contender in 1984 and 1988, a protege of the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. and a fellow Chicago political activist.

Jackson apologized last week after being caught saying on an open microphone that he wanted to castrate Obama for speaking down to blacks.

Republican presidential candidate John McCain is scheduled to address the convention on Wednesday.

Kellogg Takes Over For Packer On Final Four Coverage For CBS


It's official. Billy Packer is out as the lead college basketball analyst for CBS. A run of 34 consecutive Final Fours will come to an end in 2009, as Clark Kellogg takes his much-deserved seat next to Jim Nantz.

I have never been a huge fan of Packer. I thought the game passed him by a while ago, but he was too stubborn and/or arrogant to admit it. He's an old-school guy with old-school beliefs and opinions--few of which I often agree, even if I do consider myself old-school to a degree.

However, I have mad respect for Kellogg and his approach to his game. He gives props when they are due, but is still tactful with his criticisms. His skills as a studio analyst are some of the best in the business. Coming from someone who sits next to several different analysts a year, you have no idea how valuable it is to have an expert who can state the proper views and opinions in an exact amount of time. No one does it better than Kellogg.

By the way, you should expect some more news from CBS regarding its college basketball coverage. Former UNLV and NBA standout, Greg Anthony is expected to jump from ESPN to CBS later this fall.


NEW YORK (AP)—Billy Packer is out after 27 years as the lead college basketball analyst for CBS, making way for Clark Kellogg.

Kellogg has done game and studio analysis for CBS for 16 years. He will partner with Jim Nantz on his first Final Four in April. Packer did 34 consecutive Final Fours.

“With his unquestioned popularity and performance over the years, Clark Kellogg earned all rights to this top spot,” Sean McManus, president of CBS News and Sports, said in a statement Monday.

“Like Billy Packer, Al McGuire or any of the most highly regarded broadcasters, Clark is an original voice with his own style and perspective.”

Kellogg said he was “excited, humbled and quite pleased.”

“I appreciate the confidence Sean has expressed in affording me this new role,” he said in a statement.

The 68-year-old Packer confirmed the move Sunday, through a CBS official, to The Miami Herald, which first reported the story. Packer is pursuing other basketball projects and declined further comment.

Packer, who played point guard for Wake Forest in the early 1960s, always spoke with authority. But his brusque, commanding style did not always go down well.

In 2006, he criticized the selection of four Missouri Valley Conference teams, before Bradley and Wichita State reached the round of 16. In 2004, Packer took umbrage at St. Joseph’s getting the No. 1 seed.

In 2000, Packer bristled when asked to identify himself by two female students checking credentials before a game at Duke. One of the students, Jen Feinberg, quoted Packer as saying:
“You need to get a life. Since when do we let women control who gets into a men’s basketball game? Why don’t you go find a women’s game to let people into?” >

Packer later e-mailed an apology to the women.

Four years earlier, he apologized on the air after he was criticized for referring to then-Georgetown guard Allen Iverson as a “tough little monkey.”

Friday, July 11, 2008

LAKERS ANNOUNCE 2008 SUMMER LEAGUE SCHEDULE AND ROSTER


EL SEGUNDO - The Lakers second round pick Joe Crawford will join returning Lakers player Coby Karl on the Lakers entry in this year's NBA Summer League in Las Vegas, Nevada it was announced today.

Crawford, a 22 year-old native of Detroit, Michigan, played four seasons at the University of Kentucky, averaging 11.3 points, 3.4 rebounds and 1.5 assists in 127 games (76 starts).

Karl, a 6-5 guard out of Boise State, appeared in 17 games last season for the Lakers, averaging 1.8 points and 0.8 rebounds in 4.2 minutes. Karl also played in 17 games for the Los Angeles D-Fenders where he averaged 17.5 points, 5.5 rebounds, 4.2 assists and 1.1 steals in 37.6 minutes while posting a .411 3-point field goal percentage. In the D-Fenders' two playoff games, Karl averaged 13.5 points, 3.0 rebounds, 5.5 assists and 2.0 steals in 37.0 minutes.

The Lakers will play their first Summer League game vs. the Detroit Pistons on Friday, July 11th at 5pm at the Cox Pavilion in Las Vegas, NV.

Other notable players on the roster: Cedric Bozeman, Davon Jefferson, Lorenzo Mata-Real

Wednesday, July 9, 2008

UPDATE: The Lakers Are On The Clock For Turiaf


UPDATE: Ronny Turiaf has officially signed his offer sheet from the Warriors, but I'm hearing that the Lakers will not match it. It seems $17 million over four years is a bit too much to pay for a guy who averaged less than 19 minutes of action. And in the playoffs, Turiaf's playing time was nearly cut in half. Remember when Phil Jackson called him soft?

So it looks to be so long, Ronny!



My Friend Broderick Turner of the Riverside Press-Enterprise is reporting that Ronny Turiaf has agreed to a deal with the Golden State Warriors, who still have cap space even after doing a deal for Corey Maggette.

Lakers GM Mitch Kupchak has said repeatedly this summer that retaining Turiaf and Sasha Vujacic are his top priorities. Both are restricted free agents, meaning the Lakers can match any offer the players accept. Now we find out just how valuable the Lakers believe Turiaf is to their next run at a title.



By BRODERICK TURNER
The Press-Enterprise

Lakers forward-center Ronny Turiaf agreed to a four-year, $17 million offer from the Golden State Warriors, according to two league sources.

Turiaf is a restricted free agent. The Lakers have seven days to match the Warriors' offer.

Turiaf's agent, Mark Bartelstein would neither confirm nor deny the offer from the Warriors.


http://www.pe.com/sports/basketball/breakout/stories/PE_Sports_Local_S_turiaf_09.47b3657.html

No One Is Putting Blame On Sterling's Shoulders


Mark Heisler wrote a column for today's LA Times basically echoing my earlier post here about Clippers Owner Donald Sterling not being responsible for the departure of Elton Brand. JA Adande also posted a similar take on espn.com.

But I will say this: if bad things keep happening to you, maybe it's something you are doing elsewhere that is leading to such bad luck. The Clippers have been notoriously frugal in their spending habits when it comes to coaches, players, front office personnel, and staff-- although the salaries for the coaches and players have gone up exponentially as of late. But sometimes, it takes a long time to live down your reputation.

But at least Mr. Sterling is trying!


Mark Heisler, LA Times
Gee, why do these things keep happening to the Clippers?

I know what you're thinking, but they didn't lose Elton Brand because owner Donald T. Sterling couldn't be reached or wouldn't come up with the money.

It looks as if they lost Brand because he wanted out, which came as a shock since he always seemed true Clippers red, white and blue.

On the other hand, Brand was a Clipper for seven seasons so even if it was the best time in their history, think how many bad days he saw as opposed to good days.



Click here to see what JA Adande wrote on espn.com:

Lakers Ticket Prices Are Going Up


Ticket increases are almost guaranteed off-season happenings across the board in professional sports, and the Lakers are no exception, especially considering they are coming off a season where they went to the NBA Finals.

But there's one other important reason why the Lakers need to generate more revenue each year. They are over the salary cap, and that means they have to pay a dollar-for-dollar luxury tax. Jerry Buss doesn't seem to mind spending the money to make runs at championships, and you can't blame him for trying to recoup some of that money in the process. Can you?



By Mike Bresnahan, Los Angeles Times Staff Writer
July 9, 2008

The Lakers increased ticket prices across the board for a third consecutive season, a relatively unsurprising action after the team paid almost $5 million in luxury taxes on last season's payroll and faced a larger tax hit next season.

Courtside seats were raised from $2,300 to $2,500 a game, an 8.7% hike that moved beyond the typical annual increase of 4.5%.

Seats in six lower-level sections between the baskets -- 101, 102, 110, 111, 112 and 119 -- were raised from $230 to $245, a 6.5% increase that also topped the team's normal action on such seats.

The league average for ticket-price increases is usually 3% to 4%.



Tuesday, July 8, 2008

First Brand, Now Maggette


Quoting Chris Rock's character, "Bony T" in Boomerang, "First the Fat Boys break up, and now this!" Jonathan Abrams of the LA Times is reporting that in addition to losing Elton Brand to a surprise deal with the 76ers, Corey Maggette has agreed to a contact with the Golden State Warriors.

Recently, I had written how significant of a move it was for the Clippers to lure Baron Davis to Los Angeles, saying "Moves like this one don't usually happen for the Clippers. They happen to the Clippers. " And now it seems like it's deja vu all over again for Donald Sterling and company.

Call it karma, bad luck, or fate. The Clippers just can't seem to ever catch a break. And I mean ever!

From Danny Manning and Larry Brown to Shaun Livingston and Elton Brand, if something can go wrong for the Clippers it usually does. In the past, most of the misfortunes were the results of the organization's own mistakes. However, I don't think you can say that about this latest debacle.

Mike Dunleavy and Elgin Baylor were working under the belief that once they landed Davis, EB would agree to accept less money to play alongside Davis. They believed that because that's what sources tell me they were told by Brand and his agent, David Falk. Why would they think EB would go back on his word? He's never done it before.

However, when it comes to contract negotiations-- in sports or otherwise-- a deal is never done until it's done. But looking back on this latest episode of 'Damn, not again!', could this have happened to anyone but the Clippers?

Breaking News: LA Times Reports Elton Brand Agrees To Deal With 76ers


I am as shocked with this move as anyone. I knew Philly was expected to make a serious push for EB, but all the people I had talked to recently said he would re-sign with the Clippers, especially with them being able to offer him an additional 6th season and the total money being so close. It makes you wonder what changed over the last several days.

As you might imagine, the Clippers organization is terribly upset about EB's decision. The team believed it had an agreement with him to stay, and they took him at his word. It just goes to show you that a deal is never done until it's done.



By Jonathan Abrams, Los Angeles Times Staff Writer

Elton Brand has reached a verbal agreement to sign a multiyear contract with the Philadelphia 76ers, according to an NBA source who requested anonymity because he is not authorized to speak on player movements.

The deal is believed to be in the $80-million range and expected to span five years.


http://www.latimes.com/sports/la-sp-clippers9-2008jul09,0,7626268.story

KINGS TO HOLD FIRST EVER FANTASY CAMP


FORMER KINGS GREATS TO TAKE PART IN INAUGURAL TWO-DAY EVENT IN EL SEGUNDO IN SEPTEMBER


LOS ANGELES – The Los Angeles Kings will host L.A. Kings Fantasy Camp 2008 at the Toyota Sports Center in El Segundo from September 6-7. The inaugural camp will feature former Kings players Luc Robitaille, Marcel Dionne, Bernie Nicholls, Jim Fox, Daryl Evans, Steve Duchesne and Ray Ferraro and more as the inaugural event raises money for the Kings Care Foundation.

“This Fantasy Camp will feature a special once-in-a-lifetime experience for hockey fans,” said Robitaille, the Kings’ President of Business Operations. “Not only will our participants get the best instruction possible from some of the greatest players to play for the Kings, but we will all have a lot of fun in the process.”

For information on attending the Camp, contact the Kings Fan Development department at 213-742-7215. Visit LAKings.com/fantasy08 as more Kings alumni confirm and for all Camp information including registration.

Below is more information on the alumni already confirmed to attend this year’s Camp:

Luc Robitaille
-- Highest scoring left wing in NHL history with 668 goals
-- Holds Kings record for most goals scored (557)
-- Jersey retired by the Kings in 2007
-- Stanley Cup winner (2002 with Detroit) -- Future member of the Hockey Hall of Fame
-- Current Kings President, Business Operations

Marcel Dionne
-- Member of the Hockey Hall of Fame
-- Ranks fifth on the NHL’s all-time scoring list with 1,771 points
-- Holds Kings records for points (1,307) and assists (757)
-- Member of the famed Kings “Triple Crown Line”
-- Jersey retired by the Kings in 1990
-- Current Kings Ambassador

Bernie Nicholls
-- Scored 475 goals over his 18-year NHL career
-- Recorded 70 goals and 80 assists with the Kings during the 1988-89 season
-- Ranks fifth on the Kings all-time scoring list with 758 points
-- Holds Kings season-best records for goals (70) and short-handed goals (eight)

Jim Fox
-- Played in 578 games during his 10-year NHL career, all with the Kings
-- Ranks eighth on the Kings all-time scoring list
-- Scored at least 30 goals three times in career
-- Set to enter his 19th season as Kings’ TV color commentator
-- Named by Sports Illustrated in 2006 as best hockey analyst

Daryl Evans
-- Played six seasons in the NHL
-- Played with the Kings from 1981-85
-- Scored the game-winning goal in the 1982 “Miracle on Manchester” playoff game
-- Recorded 13 points in 10 playoff games with Kings in 1982
-- Set to enter his 10th season as the Kings’ Radio color commentator

Steve Duchesne
-- Played in 1,113 games over his 16-year NHL career
-- Recorded 752 points in career including 315 with the Kings
-- Won Stanley Cup (in 2002 with Detroit)
-- Named to NHL’s all-rookie team as a King (with Robitaille and Jimmy Carson)

Ray Ferraro
-- Played in 1,258 games over his 18-year career
-- Played with the Kings from 1996-99
-- Led the Kings in goals in 1996-97
-- Currently serves as a TV color commentator in Canada

Monday, July 7, 2008

Chiefs TE Gonzalez Saves Man’s Life In Restaurant


Check out this Associated Press story about Tony Gonzalez saving a man's life. We often refer to professional athletes as heroes. I think this is a case of it actually being true.



By DOUG TUCKER, AP Sports Writer
KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP)—A California man says Pro Bowl tight end Tony Gonzalez of the Kansas City Chiefs kept him from choking to death.

“Tony saved my life. There’s no doubt,” Ken Hunter, a shipping company manager, told The Associated Press in a phone interview from Huntington Beach, Calif.

“Tony came up behind me and gave me the Heimlich maneuver. Thank God he was there.”

Gonzalez, a nine-time Pro Bowl selection who has set numerous NFL records, was having dinner with his wife, brother and 5-week-old daughter at Capone’s restaurant in Huntington Beach Thursday night. Hunter, 45, was dining with his girlfriend at the next table when suddenly a piece of meat stuck in his throat.

“I tried to take a drink of water, but I couldn’t swallow,” Hunter told The AP. “Then I couldn’t breathe. That’s a terrible feeling. I couldn’t breathe. Then I guess I started to panic.”

Gonzalez, sitting with his back to Hunter’s table, looked around when he heard Hunter’s companion yelling.

“She was screaming, `He can’t breathe, he can’t breathe,”’ Gonzalez said by phone from California, where he lives in the offseason. “The whole restaurant was quiet. Nobody was doing anything.”

Then I saw he was turning blue. Everybody in the restaurant was just kind of sitting there wide-eyed.”

The 6-foot-5 Gonzalez, about a foot taller than Hunter, jumped out of his chair and came up behind the stricken man and began to perform the Heimlich maneuver.

“After just a few seconds, the piece of meat popped out,” Hunter said. “I could breathe again. It’s a good thing Tony is so tall because I had stood up— I think.”

Diana Martin, a restaurant employee, said no one else seemed to know what to do.

“He was so lucky Tony was there,” Martin said. “In a situation like that, every second counts. It helped a lot that Tony’s a big, strong guy because you have to be able to apply some pretty good pressure. I don’t think I would have been strong enough to help him.”

Hunter went into the restroom to clean up and didn’t realize he’d been saved by a famous athlete until he came out.

“I’m a big NFL fan and I recognized him right away. I was still kind of dazed when I went over and thanked him and said, `What can I do for you?’ I guess I said it about 1,000 times.”

Gonzalez, who has been active in charity and community activities during a brilliant career with the Chiefs, said he had no intention of having the incident become public.

“The next night I had a dinner for my grandmother’s 90th birthday, and people were saying, `Why didn’t you tell me about that?’ I honestly don’t want to make a big deal out of it. But of course it does give me a lot of satisfaction to know that I was able to help somebody.”

One of the most productive receivers in pro football history, Gonzalez holds the NFL record for tight ends with 820 career receptions and 102 catches in a season. He needs only 79 more yards receiving to become the career leader among tight ends.

He has never received any formal instruction in the Heimlich maneuver.

“I had seen it done, so I just did it,” Gonzalez said. “When you find yourself in those situations where you have to take action in a crucial situation, you just do it. I got the same feeling I get when I go on a hospital visit.”’

Hunter is a lifelong fan of the San Diego Chargers, one of Kansas City’s key rivals in the AFC West, and plans to be at the game when the Chiefs visit the Chargers on Nov. 9.

“I’m Tony’s No. 1 fan now,” he said.

And what will this longtime follower of the Chargers do if they’re ahead by four or five points in the final minute and Gonzalez runs into the end zone and leaps up for what would be the game-winning touchdown for K.C.?

“I’m going to be yelling for Tony to catch the ball,” Hunter said. “I think all my friends will understand.”


Courtesy: Associated Press

Ex-UCLA Women's Basketball Standout Quinn Returns The Favor To Her Community


Too often in sports we concentrate on the small faction of athletes who get into trouble away from their respective sports. As the old saying goes, "Bad news sells!" However, trust me when I say this, the overwhelming majority of athletes do not get arrested on a regular basis or curse out fans in public. They are much more likely to be involved in some type of community service rather than illegal activity. I just wished more media outlets presented these stories to the general public, and I wish more of the general public clamored to hear these stories.

Here's a great example of an athlete doing something to give back to her community. And you don't have to be a superstar to make a difference. This story by Jill Painter appeared recently in the Los Angeles Daily News.



By Jill Painter, columnist

Noelle Quinn was counting down the days until her trip home to Los Angeles via her computer's instant messenger.

But this trip was more special than most.

Quinn, the Minnesota Lynx guard who grew up in LosAngeles and starred at UCLA, helped hand out 25-pound boxes of food to families, many of whom she has known for years, on Wednesday.

The event, which backed up traffic on Vermont Avenue across the street from USC, was held in the parking lot at St. Mark's Lutheran Church, the church Quinn has attended all her life. She went to preschool there, too.

Folks were there to meet Quinn and accept some help in the form of canned foods and toiletries.

"Since I landed in L.A., I've had a smile," Quinn said. "I'm happy to be back. It's an opportunity to give to the community. I didn't know what to expect. I'm happy people were able to come out and that I was able to see some happy faces.

"They were amazed to see me, but at the same time, it was amazing to see them."



Obama To "Open Up" Democratic National Convention


I received this e-mail today from the Barack Obama Campaign about its plans during the Democratic National Convention to be held in Denver. Read the e-mail for yourself and then check out my comments below.


I wanted you to be the first to hear the news.

At the Democratic National Convention next month, we're going to kick off the general election with an event that opens up the political process the same way we've opened it up throughout this campaign.

Barack has made it clear that this is your convention, not his.

On Thursday, August 28th, he's scheduled to formally accept the Democratic nomination in a speech at the convention hall in front of the assembled delegates.

Instead, Barack will leave the convention hall and join more than 75,000 people for a huge, free, open-air event where he will deliver his acceptance speech to the American people.

It's going to be an amazing event, and Barack would like you to join him. Free tickets will become available as the date approaches, but we've reserved a special place for a few of the people who brought us this far and who continue to drive this campaign.

If you make a donation of $5 or more between now and midnight on July 31st, you could be one of 10 supporters chosen to fly to Denver and spend two days and nights at the convention, meet Barack backstage, and watch his acceptance speech in person.

Each of the ten supporters who are selected will be able to bring one guest to join them. Make a donation now and you could have a front row seat to history.


We'll follow up with more details on this and other convention activities as we get closer, but please take a moment and pass this note to someone you know who might like to be there.

It will be an event you'll never forget.


Thank you,

David David Plouffe
Campaign Manager
Obama for America



I think this is a brilliant move. Think about it. More people can relate to going to a sports stadium than they can a national political convention. It's all about connecting with the "average" people, who make up the majority of the populace. This is just another move to show how Obama is so much more emotionally accessible to the average American than any political candidate in recent memory. And just imagine how this scene will play out on television if they can get 50,000 to 75,000 people to show up at Mile High Stadium. Talk about grabbing the momentum heading into the fall.

Sunday, July 6, 2008

Clippers Lure Baron Davis To LA, Hope Elton Brand Stays


In his obviously predetermined post-game interview outburst at the NBA Finals, Kevin Garnett shouted, "Anything is possible!" Something I've always believed, long before Adidas started using it to sell shoes. And if you ever needed further proof of that idea, all you had to do was hear the news of the Clippers agreeing to a free agent contract with Baron Davis.

Let's be real. Moves like this one don't usually happen for the Clippers. They happen to the Clippers. To put it simply, this is the biggest free agent coup in the history of the Donald T. Sterling era. Davis is a bonafide star in the NBA, a proven playoff performer, and someone who gives the Clippers more than just hope, but an actual chance to do great things.

However, that chance is only possible if Elton Brand re-signs with the Clippers, which was a foregone conclusion once Davis agreed to come on board. That was until the Warriors, fresh with new cap space, threw a max deal offer towards EB. Say what you will about Brand should do, but have you ever had to make a decision that would mean walking away from $20 million?

I have not talked to EB since the Warriors offered him $90 million, but those who have spoken to him recently believe he will remain with the Clippers, and so do I. Not only does he have several interests off the floor here in Los Angeles, but he and his wife Shahara are expecting their first child shortly. So with a fresh baby room awaiting its first tenant, it would be hard for Daddy Brand to bolt town for the Bay Area, don't you think?

UPDATE: You should expect some type of definite answer from Brand in the next 24-48 hours. And from what I'm hearing, EB will re-sign with the Clippers for all the reasons I mentioned above and for another one. Next season's salary cap is expected to be $59 million. If that is indeed the case, the Clippers could actually offer Brand a contract possibly in the $80-85 million range, which would be much closer to the Warriors offer of around $90 million. And don't forget, the Clippers are the only team that can offer Brand a 6-year deal. The maximum contract length available to everyone else is only five years. If you remember, that extra year was one of the main reasons Kobe Bryant stayed with the Lakers several years ago instead of jumping ship to the Clippers.

Brett Favre: Retired or not?


Let me preface my following comments with this statement: I really don't care if Brett Favre stays retired or comes back to play for the Packers this season. I truly and honestly don't. He's a grown-ass man and he can do whatever he wants.

But having said that, I do have a problem with the media's--especially ESPN's-- utter infatuation with this man. I mean, some people are treating Favre's impending comeback as though it were Jesus Christ rolling back that stone on Easter Sunday. If Favre does indeed play again this season, will he get a holiday named after him leading people to get dressed up in their Sunday best for a game?

Yes, he's one of the game's all-time greats. Without question. But he hasn't won a Super Bowl since 1997. His last Super Bowl appearance came in 1998. His run of 3 consecutive MVP awards stopped more than 11 years ago. He's come close to getting back to the Super Bowl in recent years, but so have Drew Brees and Jake Plummer, and Rex Grossman and Matt Hasselbeck actually got there. So what exactly does that say?

He's just another Hall of Fame football player hoping to make sure his decision to leave the game is one he won't regret. He wants to be certain he's ready to leave when he actually leaves. So while he battles with this emotional, life-altering choice, give the man some space. If you stop crowding him demanding a definite yes or no, he might actually give you what you want-- one more year!

Thursday, July 3, 2008

Kaman Hoping To Lead Germany To Beijing


Chris Kaman had planned to play for Germany for quite sometime, but during the NBA season the opportunity came into question after a series of injuries. He has since fully recovered, and this experience should only help his development, which took a giant leap forward last season.

The Clippers, however, see this opportunity slightly differently. Since they have about $50 million invested in their starting center, they'd much rather he didn't play. They are concerned he might get hurt and affect his season back in LA. But if I recall, Elton Brand got hurt working out with Kaman 1-on-1 last summer. Injuries happen wherever and whenever. You can't really prevent them, and worrying about them doesn't help either.

But from a pure comedy standpoint, it might not get any better than Kaman in Beijing. It's a reality show waiting to happen.


(AP) FRANKFURT, Germany -- Los Angeles Clippers center Chris Kaman has received German citizenship and will team up with Dirk Nowitzki for Germany at an Olympic qualifying tournament later this month.

Kaman, whose great-grandparents were German, averaged 15.7 points and 12.7 rebounds last season with the Clippers.

The 7-foot Kaman will add size to a German team seeking to qualify for its first Olympics since the 1992 Barcelona Games.

"We'll be stronger under the baskets with Chris," Nowitzki said Thursday.

The German team is practicing at home for a warmup tournament before it travels to Greece for the July 14-20 qualifying event in Athens.

"Chris is a significant addition and we'll now have to integrate him in time for the Athens tournament," coach Dirk Bauermann said.
Copyright 2008 by The Associated Press