Wade and Heat Deliver Right Message
Written by Tim Dahlberg, AP Sports Columnist Sunday, 25 March 2012 21:08
Dwyane Wade and the Miami Heat aren't the first athletes to use a photo to make a statement.
Gold medal swimmer Amanda Beard did it to much less fanfare four years ago in Beijing when she unveiled a nude poster of herself in front of an American flag in an anti-fur protest at the Olympics.
The Chinese weren't happy about it, showing up at the hotel and shutting down a press conference before it began. Beard ended up displaying the poster in an impromptu gathering outside the athletes' village, while police and security officials looked on.
Wade and the Heat faced no such problems. LeBron James posted a picture Friday that showed the team wearing hoodies, with each of the players' heads bowed and hands in pockets — putting the image in front of his millions of Twitter followers.
Later that night, the Heat took the court in Detroit with slogans honoring slain teenager Trayvon Martin written on their shoes.
It was simple, yet dramatic. And it accomplished what Wade, James and others wanted — to bring even more attention to a case that has sparked a nationwide outcry.
"You never know, that could be your kid," James said. "As leaders and as role models we're happy we can shed the light on a situation we feel isn't right."
If it seems personal to the Heat, that's because it is. James and Wade are both the fathers of two sons, and they played in the All-Star game on the same night when Martin — a black 17-year-old wearing a hoodie as he walked to a family home after buying some iced tea and candy — was shot to death by a community watch volunteer a few miles from Orlando's Amway Arena.
The more they heard and read about the case, the more outrageous it seemed. The more they thought about it, the more they wanted their voices heard.
Nothing wrong with that, unless the slogans on their shoes draw attention from David Stern's uniform police for violating the NBA's strict guidelines. Even admirable, if you subscribe to the theory that they could be making enemies — or cost themselves shoe sales — by inserting themselves into a controversial case.
If Wade and James were making a statement, though, they made a very careful one. Unlike the NBA players' union, they didn't call for the resignation of the police chief in the Florida community where Martin was shot to death, or demand the immediate arrest of the person who shot him.
Instead, they talked as fathers with sons who ask for hoodies for Christmas. They talked as black men who have every right to wear hoodies.
And they talked about their hope that justice would be done.
They used their platform as NBA superstars to deliver a message from the heart. And they got it right.
They weren't the only ones, of course. People posed Friday in hoodies on the steps of the U.S. Capitol and around the nation. President Barack Obama even weighed in, urging Americans to "do some soul searching" and saying, "If I had a son, he'd look like Trayvon."
Still, Wade and James could have left it to others to make the case. Their job is to entertain and there are perils associated with taking a stand on anything more controversial than what flavor of Gatorade they prefer.
Others before them had spoken out on the issues of the day, and paid the price.
Muhammad Ali was hated by millions for refusing his draft induction during the Vietnam War and it cost him three years in the prime of his career. Tommie Smith and John Carlos were ostracized for years for giving the black power salute on the medal platform in the 1968 Olympics.
Tiger Woods was so afraid of alienating any of his sponsors or fans that he sidestepped for years any questions about social inequities in golf.
It's easy to play ball and make millions of dollars and leave the real world to others. And that's usually what we want our heroes to do because sports offers an escape, a time to forget about the problems of our time.
This is different in a lot of ways. The fact Wade and James spoke out publicly underscores just how personal the issue is. The fact they did it so well underscores how much thought was behind it.
They're famous, sure. But they're black men with sons first, horrified like so many others that something as innocent as a walk through a neighborhood or a choice of clothing could lead to a death.
"I'm thinking about my son, thinking about how easy something like that could happen," Wade said.
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That's the message they wanted to deliver. And that's a message any parent — black or white — can understand.
Allen Iverson Divorce Gets Complicated
Written by EURweb.com Tuesday, 20 March 2012 09:34
After first saying their divorce had nothing to do with other women, the estranged wife of the NBA player has filed court documents asking Iverson to turn over the names of any women he slept with while they were married.
Back in June 2011, Tawanna Iverson told TMZ her split from Allen had “nothing to do with another woman.”
But Mrs. Iverson is now requesting that her husband “give the name and telephone number of every person other than your spouse whom you have had sexual relations and/or intimate physical contact from the date of the marriage to the date of trial.”
In addition, she is asking to see all of Iverson’s financial information as well as any purchases he’s made over $1,000 since their nuptials. She has previously claimed Iverson has been spending money on himself while her and their five children were in need of cash.
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Calls to Iverson representatives were not answered.
Lin Struggles as Heat Roll to 8th Straight
Written by Tim Reynolds, AP Sports Writer Friday, 24 February 2012 16:03
Jeremy Lin collided with LeBron James shortly after tip-off, stumbling backward.
With that, the tone was set.
And Lin's rise from unknown to stardom hit its first major snag.
Chris Bosh scored 25 points, Dwyane Wade added 22 and James put up 20 points, nine rebounds, eight assists, five steals and two blocks — the first such stat line in the NBA since James himself had a night like that four years ago — as the league-leading Miami Heat stopped Lin and the New York Knicks 102-88 on Thursday night.
It was Miami's eighth straight win, all coming by at least 12 points.
"A learning experience," Lin said afterward, before heading to Orlando for his role in All-Star weekend. "A tough one."
Lin's final line: 1 for 11 from the field, eight points, three assists and eight turnovers — a long way from the 23.9 points and 9.2 assists he had been averaging over his first 11 games in the Knicks' rotation, when he breathed immeasurable life into a team that was floundering.
Not this time. Lin paid the Heat a great compliment, saying their defense made it tough to even dribble.
"First of all, he deserves all of the credit he's been given," Wade said. "We knew it was going to be a tough task guarding him. ... He's a good player, but we put a lot of pressure on him and it was a success."
The scene was electric, and for much of the night, the game matched the hype.
Spike Lee, Floyd Mayweather Jr. and Chad Ochocinco all sat within seven seats of each other on one sideline, Mike Stanton and Logan Morrison of the Miami Marlins were on another sideline, and members of the New York Mets' front office reportedly jumped aboard a helicopter for the quick trip from the team's spring-training home in Port St. Lucie down to Miami.
Even the First Fan took note of the hubbub surrounding the game.
"In another life, I would be staying for the Knicks-Heat game tonight, then going up to Orlando for NBA All-Star weekend," President Barack Obama told cheering students at the University of Miami earlier in the day. "But these days, I've got a few other things on my plate. Just a few."
When Air Force One was headed to Orlando for a Thursday night fundraiser, yes, there were televisions tuned to Heat-Knicks on board.
"This has been about a three-week push for us and it's a good way to end before the break," Heat coach Erik Spoelstra said. "I think everyone in that locker room needs a handful of days. We've been really focused ... to make this push. We played a team that with more time they're going to improve and become a very dangerous team. They already are right now."
The Heat defense wasn't geared just toward Lin, but rather slowing the entire Knicks' offense. New York shot 39 percent, turned the ball over 19 times and had 10 shots blocked — five of them by Miami center Joel Anthony, who also had six rebounds and took only one shot, which he missed.
"I'm sure they were all geeked up for him," Knicks coach Mike D'Antoni said of the Heat defense against Lin. "And they took the challenge and they did a great job. It's hard to be Peter Pan every day."
If proof was needed that the Heat wanted to make a point against Lin, there was some clear evidence.
Exhibit A: Mario Chalmers stole the ball from Lin and went in for a two-handed dunk in the early minutes. Exhibit B: Norris Cole, Chalmers' backup at point guard, did the same thing in the second quarter.
Combined dunks this season for Chalmers and Cole entering Thursday? Zero.
Those strip-and-scores were part of a six-turnover first half from Lin, matching his third-highest total in any half this season. Amare Stoudemire also had six turnovers in the first 24 minutes, the Knicks were outscored 30-16 in the paint, 12-1 on fast breaks and 12-3 off turnovers.
Lin had two assists in the first 1:26 of the game. He had one in the final 46:34.
"He's a good player, a really good player," James said of Lin. "And they're going to do some great things. But for us, we come in and take care of business."
Said Carmelo Anthony, who led the Knicks with 19 points: "We have some work to do. Nobody said it would happen overnight."
J.R. Smith scored 14 for New York off the bench. Stoudemire finished with 13 and Steve Novak scored 12 for the Knicks, who never led in the second half.
Early on, back and forth they went, just as everyone wanted.
"It's always big when the Knicks come in," Bosh said. "They have that New York-Miami thing. The crowd enjoyed it. And we enjoyed it."
It was classic Knicks-Heat stuff, just like those playoff battles in the late 1990s and early 2000s. Bodies were flying, tempers were flaring, Tyson Chandler and D'Antoni picked up technicals arguing the same play in the first quarter ... and more than a few Knicks fans who paid big money for tickets — the average price for the game on the resale markets was over $700, by one estimate — made their presence known loudly and often.
"It's one game," D'Antoni said. "And we're not there yet. They're there. They're the team right now to beat for everybody. They're playing better than everybody. And we're trying to get our team together."
Lin said he was already eager for the second half to start.
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"I'm not going to hang my head or anything like that," Lin said. "I know I went out there and I played hard. Can't win 'em all. Can't have a great game every game. But at the same time, I need to understand, 'OK, what'd I do wrong? How can I improve?' I think that's going to be exciting."
LeBron Not Ruling Out Return to Cavaliers
Written by Tom Withers, AP Sports Writer Thursday, 16 February 2012 16:37
LeBron James could picture returning one day to the place where his NBA journey began.
Back in Cleveland.
After practicing in a gym where he refined his game for seven seasons, James said Thursday he would not rule out a return to the Cavaliers, a team he carried to the brink of a title before he spurned an entire region by leaving as a free agent in 2010 to chase a championship with Miami.
Asked if he could play for the Cavs again, James initially paused before giving his answer.
"I don't know. I think it would be great," he said. "It would be fun to play in front of these fans again. I had a lot fun times in my seven years here. You can't predict the future and hopefully I continue to stay healthy. I'm here as a Miami Heat player, and I'm happy where I am now, but I don't rule that out in no sense.
"And if I decide to come back, hopefully the fans will accept me."
James' comments may have been calculated, coming one day before the Cavs host the Heat for the third time since the superstar's infamous and messy exit from Cleveland. In mentioning a possible reunion, he may be trying to soften the negative response he'll get Friday night from fans who haven't forgotten what he did to them.
However, James appeared sincere when talking about a potential return to the Cavs, his fractured relationship with Cavs owner Dan Gilbert and topics ranging from phenom Jeremy Lin to rookie Kyrie Irving following practice on the fourth floor of Quicken Loans Arena.
Perhaps it was because he was back in familiar surroundings that prompted James' remarks. Or maybe it's part of a larger agenda. Whatever the case, his past with Cleveland, and his decision to bolt from the Cavs, will always be a sensitive subject.
After all, James put Cleveland back on the NBA map by taking the Cavs to one finals and winning two MVP awards during his stay. He left the franchise during a summer in which he held an entire city at bay as it awaited his decision. After he announced he was joining the Heat during a nationally televised special, the Akron native was vilified by the same fans who cheered every one of his dribbles and dunks.
Time has healed some of the wounds — not all.
James said he has made no attempt to patch things up with Gilbert, who harshly criticized James in a scathing letter to Cleveland's fans. Gilbert promised to win a title before James, questioned his character and told The Associated Press he felt James quit on the Cavs during the playoffs.
James said he has no bitterness toward Gilbert. They have not spoken since James met with the Cavaliers on July 3, 2010, when they were one of several teams courting him to sign with them.
"I don't have any hard feelings. He said what he said and I've moved on," said James, who is under contract with the Heat for two more seasons. "But there's been no attempt to patch things up."
James, however, said he can envision being friends again with Gilbert.
"I don't hold grudges," he said. "I hold them a little bit, but I don't hold them that long. He said what he said out of anger and he would probably want to take that back. But I made a mistake, too, and there are some things I would want to take back as well.
"You make mistakes and move on."
But could he play for Gilbert?
"Dan is not the coach," he said. "I can play for any coach. We'll see what happens."
Attempts to reach Gilbert were unsuccessful.
It wasn't clear if by "mistake" James meant the way he announced his departure from Cleveland or joining the Heat. He insists he's happy in South Florida and committed to winning a title with the Heat, who are favored to win it all this season after losing to Dallas in the finals last June.
James acknowledged he's changed and enjoying hoops the way he once did.
"I'm back to how I was in Cleveland, having fun with the game, appreciating the game, loving the game and playing at a high level," he said. "I got away from that last year. It was a difficult year for me last year, making the whole transition, on and off the floor, going through everything I went through.
"I just got back to how I got to this point, back to playing the way I know how to play."
James' comments about a return to Cleveland — albeit unlikely — caught former teammate Antawn Jamison off guard.
"It surprises me that he's saying that now," said Jamison, who played 25 games with James in 2010 after coming over in a trade. "Three years down the road it wouldn't surprise me if he entertains the idea. But hey, after the first go-round, I don't think anything would surprise you as far as scenarios taking place."
Cavs guard Daniel Gibson can't envision Cleveland fans ever receiving James warmly again.
He may have moved on. They haven't..
"I don't think he'd be welcome," Gibson said. "Not with the way that went down. It was a pretty tough situation. I'm sure they wouldn't feel comfortable with that at all."
James knows what's coming on Friday. He's prepared for a rough reception, but not as hostile as the one the seven-time All-Star got on Dec. 2 last season. James expects to hear boos, but maybe not as many obscenities.
"It doesn't sting anymore," James said. "The booing isn't as bad as it was last year so it's not even a big deal."
James' comments about a hypothetical return to Cleveland didn't surprise teammate Dwyane Wade, his running mate in Miami.
Even Wade, who stayed with James at his home Bath, Ohio, could imagine his friend reuniting with the Cavs — some day.
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LA Story: Two Lakers, Two Clippers Get All-Star Nods
Written by Brian Mahoney, AP Basketball Writer Friday, 03 February 2012 11:59
From Kobe Bryant to Chris Paul, Blake Griffin to Andrew Bynum, the NBA All-Star game is shaping up as an L.A. story.
Two Lakers and two Clippers were voted as starters Thursday for the game, the first time in 15 years that two pairs of teammates have been voted to start for one conference.
"It's pretty cool," Griffin said.
Oklahoma City's Kevin Durant prevented a clean Los Angeles sweep of the Western Conference starting lineup by earning a forward spot for the Feb. 26 game in Orlando.
Dwight Howard of the host Magic — unless he's traded first — was the overall leading vote-getter with 1.6 million. LeBron James and Dwyane Wade are going together again from Miami, while MVP Derrick Rose of Chicago and New York's Carmelo Anthony round out the East starters.
The Clippers and Lakers are developing a spirited rivalry this season, but they'll have to get along for a night to give the West a second straight win in the NBA's midseason event.
Bryant and Paul will be in the same backcourt two months after the NBA, as owners of the Hornets, killed a trade that would have sent Paul to the Lakers. Instead, he was dealt shortly after to the Clippers, and he has teamed with Griffin to make them one of the league's most exciting and improved teams, leading the Pacific Division over their Staples Center co-tenants.
"It's an honor and a privilege to be voted as an All-Star starter," Paul said. "I want to thank the fans for their support. It's even more special to be starting with one of my teammates."
Griffin and Bynum are first-time starters, while Bryant earned his record-tying 14th consecutive nod.
Griffin said he's not planning on defending his title in the dunk contest, which he won by dunking over a car last year in Los Angeles.
"It's not really my thing. I said that last year," he said.
Griffin was a reserve selection last year, when he also played in the rookie game.
"Last year it was hectic," he said. "I'll try to tone it down and try to get a break."
It's the first time since 1997, when Houston had Hakeem Olajuwon and Charles Barkley, and Seattle sent Gary Payton and Shawn Kemp, that two pairs of teammates have been voted to start for one conference.
Bryant joins Shaquille O'Neal, Jerry West and Karl Malone — all one-time Lakers — with his 14th straight starting nod. He earned his fourth All-Star MVP award last year, equaling Bob Pettit's NBA record.
Bynum grabbed the starting center spot that for years went to Yao Ming, who retired last summer. Griffin was chosen as a reserve forward last year, when he became the first rookie All-Star since Yao in 2003.
Starters were chosen by fan balloting, and none of the races was close. The reserves will be chosen by voting of the head coaches from each conference and will be announced next Thursday.
Bryant led all West players with nearly 1.6 million votes. Rose collected 1.5 million to finish third among all players, a year after becoming Chicago's first starter since Michael Jordan.
"I remember not being in the All-Star game, just wanting to be in the game. It's something you should take to heart, that I take to heart," Rose said before the Bulls' game against the Knicks. "Just want to accomplish something special while I'm in the league, and one of the accomplishments is being on the All-Star team."
Howard will make his fifth consecutive start, and his status will provide much of the intrigue surrounding the event. He has told the Magic he wants to be traded and they have given his agent permission to talk to select teams, putting the franchise in a difficult position of deciding whether it should deal its superstar before hosting the weekend.
AP Sports Writers Rachel Cohen in New York and Beth Harris in Los Angeles contributed to this report.
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