The days are getting shorter and the temperatures are getting colder. Usually people coincide this turning of the seasons with the arrival of the NFL season, the NCAA football season, and World Series playoffs in MLB. However in the same token, that turn of the seasons also harkens the arrival of the winter sports like the NHL season and the NBA basketball season.
While everybody is focused on football and playoff baseball, there have been things going on within the NBA.
Paul George: Open Tweet, Insert Foot
Everybody is quiet familiar with what is going on with former Baltimore Ravens’ running back Ray Rice and his domestic abuse incident with his wife (then fiancée) in an Atlantic City casino hotel. He was cut from the Ravens and then suspended indefinitely from playing in the NFL. Even the CFL closed the doors on him. Everybody has given their 2 cents about the incident and how the NFL (especially Commissioner Roger Goodell) handled it.
Though a majority of people have been critical of Ray Rice, there have been a few who defended the notion of his suspension. Most notable was Indiana Pacers star Paul George. Back in early August, Paul George suffered a compound fracture in his right leg during an intersquad scrimmage of the USA Men's Basketball team last August that essentially ended his 2014-15 NBA season. During his recovery time, he chimed in his opinion on the whole Ray Rice matter.
He posted a couple of tweets early Thursday, September 11. The first tweet said that while he is against domestic violence towards women, Ray Rice should still be allowed to play in the NFL. Then in another tweet, George said, quote, ''If you in a relationship and a woman hit you first and attacking YOU.. Then you obviously ain't beatin HER. Homie made A bad choice!' end quote. Those two tweets caused a great negative response within social media that George took down the tweets and replaced it with an apology of, “My intent was not to downplay the situation.”
Pacers President of Basketball Operations Larry Bird was quick to respond to his player’s tweets and actions. Larry Bird was quoted to say:
“Paul George's tweets from earlier were thoughtless and without regard to the subject of domestic violence and its seriousness in society. We have talked to Paul to strongly express our displeasure and made it clear that the NBA and the Pacers' organization will not condone or tolerate remarks of this nature. Paul understands that he was wrong and why his tweets were so inappropriate and is very apologetic.”
Simply this was all a case of “open tweet, insert foot” for the rehabbing guard/forward. Hopefully he will learn from this snafu to just simply keep his opinions to himself.
Chauncey Billups Retiring
There will be no tour, no special farewell gifts, no ESPN 24/7 coverage. Former NBA point guard Chauncey Billups announced this past Wednesday, September 10, that he will not play in the upcoming NBA season. Instead, he announced that he was retiring from the NBA after 17 long seasons.
Chauncey first broke into the NBA when he was taken 3rd overall by the Boston Celtics in the 1997 NBA Draft. However things didn’t click with Billups and then Celtics head coach Rick Pitino as the rookie point guard was traded to the Toronto Raptors that same season at the trade deadline. For the next 4 seasons, Billups bounced around the League between the Toronto Raptors, Denver Nuggets, and the Minnesota Timberwolves. He then found a home with the Detroit Pistons from 2002-2008, in which he made his mark. During his time with the Pistons, Billups went to two NBA finals, winning the 2004 NBA Finals and being named MVP of that series. Then in the beginning of the 2009 season, Billups was traded from the Pistons to the Denver Nuggets, rejoining them since the 1999-2000 NBA Season. However in 2011, Billups was packaged along in the Carmelo Anthony deal that sent the forward to the New York Knicks. From then on, Billups bounced around yet again. He ended up playing 2 years with the Los Angeles Clippers before playing his final season (2013-2014) with the Detroit Pistons.
During his time in the NBA, Billups was a 5-time NBA All-Star (2006-2010), was named All-NBA Second Team in 2006 and All-NBA Third Team in 2007 & 2009, was named to the NBA All-Defensive Second Team (2005-2006) and won various sportsmanship awards (J. Walter Kennedy Citizenship Award in 2008, NBA Sportsmanship Award in 2009, NBA Teammate of the Year in 2013). Billups played in 1,043 games (tied for 95th overall all-time with HOF C Walt Bellamy), played in 33,008 minutes (95th overall all-time) scored 15,802 career points (15.2 ppg) (110th overall all-time), recorded 2,992 career rebounds (2.9 rpg), and had 5636 assists (5.4 apg) (39th overall all-time).
More than not, a career in broadcasting for player once known as “Mr. Big Shot” is almost a guarantee. A bust in the Basketball Hall of Fame in Springfield, Massachusetts might be another thing.
FIBA Championship Showdown
While most NBA fans are glued in to their respective team’s camp, waiting in anticipation to see how the incoming rookies and free agents will perform, there is some basketball being played right now as you are reading this. Right now the FIBA Semi-Finals are being played over the Atlantic in Spain and already one team has punched their way into the Championship final.
This past Thursday, September 11, the United States Men’s Team crushed the Lithuania Men’s Team in their semi-final match up 96-68. Leading the way for the US was PG Kyrie Iriving. He scored 18 points on 8-of-15 shooting in 34 min 27 seconds. He also led the team in assists that game with 4. US Men’s captain SG James Harden and teammate SG Klay Thompson each chipped in with 16 points apiece. SF Rudy Gay led all US rebounders with 7 rebounds.
Then this past Friday, September 12, The Serbia Men’s Team out lasted the French Men’s Team 90-85 in the other semi-final game. Serbian G Milos Teodosic led his team in scoring with 24 points on 9-for-12 shooting in 33:28 minutes of play. The Serbian outlasted a French team that included NBAers such as Portland Trailblazers SF Nicolas Batum (35 points in 36:47 minutes), Orlando Magic SG Evan Fournier (10 points in 14:24 minute of play), Utah Jazz C Rudy Gobert (4 points, 5 rebounds in 23:29 minutes of play), and San Antonio Spurs PF/C Boris Diaw (13 points, 10 rebounds in 32:15 minutes of play).
Now the two teams will be squaring off against one another in the FIBA Championship Game on September 14. This will be the US’s second consecutive appearance in the finals game (winning it all back in the 2010 FIBA Basketball World Cup) and 8th overall while this would mark the first time Serbia has made it into the championship game (they lost the bronze medal game to Lithuania 99-88 in the 2010 FIBA Basketball World Cup).
Hawks Brass Pulls a Donald Sterling
Earlier this year, the NBA banned former Los Angeles Clippers owner Donald Sterling and forced him to sell his team after he was illegally recorded saying racial comments. Fast forward to just a few days ago when it came out that Atlanta Hawks general manager Danny Ferry was caught saying something racially inflammatory about current Miami Heat SF Luol Deng.
Back in June, while Deng was a free agent, the Hawks were trying to sign him to their team. However during a conference call, Ferry was quoted as to saying that Deng, “…had a little African in him…” and that Deng “…is like a guy who would have a nice store out front and sell you counterfeit stuff out of the back.” Luol Deng was born in what is now South Sudan.
Then upon the discovery of Ferry’s comments, it was later discovered that the Hawks controlling owner, Bruce Levenson, had sent out an e-mail to Ferry. In that e-mail, Levenson talked about game attendance with fans and ‘theorized’ that ‘black fans were keeping suburban white fans from attending games.’
Upon finding out these incidents, Hawks CEO Steve Koonin allowed Ferry to take a leave of absence and seek sensitivity training, but still retain his role within the Hawks organization. In a statement, Koonin said in regards of Ferry’s fate, “My hope is this time away from the Hawks organization allows him the privacy he needs to listen to the community, to learn about his mistakes, and to begin the long process of personal healing.”
Levenson, on the other hand, decided to take a different route. He was quoted to have said he was embarrassed about what he had said and called it an “ill-advised attempt to improve the team’s attendance.” Levenson then made it public he intends to sell his share of the Hawks.
Last month NBA Commissioner Adam Silver levied the lifetime ban on Donald Sterling and forced him to sell his team. Upon hearing what transgressed within the Hawks’ organization, Silver has allowed Ferry to take his leave of absence and has approved of Levenson’s decision to sell his team share.
Although the NBA doesn’t want to admit or acknowledge, the Donald Sterling saga earlier this summer opened up a Pandora’s box that could ultimately change the landscape of professional basketball.
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