Monday, February 28, 2011

Flyers have quiet Trade Deadline on Monday

by Bob Herpen
Phanatic Hockey Editor

The Philadelphia Flyers were almost completely dormant as the 2011 NHL Trade Deadline passed as of 3 p.m. (et).

Flyers’ GM Paul Holmgren awoke from his slumber to make just one minor deal, acquiring prospect forward Tom Sestito from the Columbus Blue Jackets in exchange for prospects Michael Chaput and Greg Moore.

Sestito will be assigned to Adirondack of the American Hockey League.

“Well, he’s a big kid, I think he’s got 30-some-odd points down there in the AHL…he was there last year on an entry-level contract. I like the fact that he’s got a chance to play at some point for us, if not later this year then maybe next year,” Holmgren said of the new addition to the franchise.

Sestito, a 23-year-old former third-round pick of the Blue Jackets in 2006, had four points in nine games with the big club this season.

Chaput, an 18-year-old native of suburban Montreal, was Philly’s third-round pick in last June’s draft. He tallied 55 points in 55 games this year with the Lewiston MAINEiacs of the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League, his third with the team.

Moore is a 26-year-old native of Maine who was Calgary’s fifth-round selection in 2003. In 10 games with the Rangers (’07-’08) and Blue Jackets (’09-’10), he failed to record a point. In 16 games with Syracuse of the AHL, he notched five goals and 10 points.

As for the reasons why the club was not a player at the deadline:

“I get the impression throughout the day, watching it go down, that there weren’t a lot of deals out there that made sense for us. As I said all along, the moves we made in the Summertime, the players we added
then…the trade for Kris Versteeg, we felt what we needed to do, and we’ll leave it at that.”

Philadelphia, which is off until Thursday, suffered an out-of-character 4-1 loss at Ottawa on Saturday to a Senators club which featured eight AHL players that spurred fresh gossip on potential deals for additional depth. None was forthcoming, as Holmgren opted to stand pat with the best record in the Eastern Conference as other lesser clubs spent plenty of time on Monday wheeling and dealing.

“I get the impression that there weren’t many. I know Florida made a lot of deals today with players who were unrestricted. Because of our asset-contingent draft picks, we’re not as well stocked as a lot of teams,” Holmgren said when asked if other teams tried to take advantage of the Flyers’ position as the top team in the East on trade deadline day to fulfill their own needs.

“I kind of get the feeling that the prices were pretty high for basically nothing out there.”

Tim Panaccio of Comcast SportsNet tweeted on Sunday that the Flyers might have interest in third-line forward Marty Reasoner of the Florida Panthers due to his cap-friendly contract.

That did not come to pass, as Reasoner, also under the microscope by TSN of Canada as a possible pick-up for NHL-best Vancouver, stayed in Sunrise despite the Panthers’ near-fire sale Monday.

Temple's Allen named A-10 and Big 5 Player of the Week

Temple senior forward Lavoy Allen has been named the Atlantic 10 Conference and Philadelphia Big 5 Player of the Week for the week ending February 27.  It is his third career A-10 weekly honor and the seventh time he has earned the Big 5 accolade.

The Morrisville, Pa. native (Pennsbury High) averaged 18.0 points, 14.5 rebounds, 2.5 blocks and 2.5 assists per game in the Owls’ 1-1 week.   The 6-9 forward led Temple in scoring and rebounding in both games, recording his seventh and eighth double-doubles of the season.  He made a career-high three 3-pointers in the team’s 78-61 loss at then #1/1 Duke on Feb. 23. He also pulled down a game-high 13 rebounds to go along with his 17 points against the Blue Devils.  Allen followed that with a season and game high 16 rebounds while scoring a game-high 19 points in the Owls’ 57-41 win at George Washington (2/26).   Already Temple’s all-time rebound leader, he recorded his 200th block of his career in the GW win to become just the fifth Temple player to reach that milestone.

Allen, who is 28th on Temple’s all-time scoring list with 1,341 points, leads Temple and ranks fourth in the A-10 with a 7.8 rebound average.  He also tops the team and ranks fourth in the league in blocks per game (1.7 bpg.) while placing third on the squad with an 11.2 scoring average.

The Owls (22-6, 12-2 in Atlantic 10) put their nine-game Atlantic 10 Conference win streak on the line when they travel to Massachusetts for a Wednesday game (7:00 p.m./1210 AM WPHT).

Temple announces 2011 football sked

The 2011 Temple University football schedule, featuring seven home games as part of the Owls’ fifth season of Mid-American Conference play and three nationally televised contests, was announced on Monday.

The Owls, under first-year head coach Steve Addazio, will open the season with cross-city rival Villanova in the third annual Mayor’s Cup at Lincoln Financial Field on Thursday, Sept. 1.

The Owls travel to Akron on Sept. 10 for the MAC opener for both teams. 

Temple returns to Lincoln Financial Field for a showdown with perennial powerhouse and intra-state rival Penn State (Sept. 17) before hitting the road for a game at Maryland (Sept. 24).

TU hosts Toledo (Oct. 1) before traveling to Ball State (Oct. 8). Buffalo comes to Philadelphia for the Owls’ annual Homecoming game (Oct. 15).

Temple then takes to the road for two games. In the first stop, the Owls visit Bowling Green (Oct. 22).

TU opens November with a pair of Wednesday night games, first traveling to Ohio (Nov. 2) for a mid-week clash at 8 p.m. on ESPN2.

The Owls close the regular-season with three home games. Temple entertains Miami (Ohio) on Wednesday, Nov. 9 at 8 p.m. on ESPN2 before hosting Army (Nov. 19) in its last non-conference battle. 

TU hosts Kent State on Senior Day on Friday, Nov. 25. The game could be picked up by ESPNU/ as part the MAC’s multiple-game selection date.

The 2011 Marathon MAC Championship game will take place at Ford Field in Detroit on Friday, Dec. 2 at 8 p.m. on ESPN2.

The MAC bowl agreements this season are with the Little Caesar’s Pizza Bowl (vs. Big Ten in Detroit, Mich.), the Bowl (vs. Sun Belt in Mobile, Ala.), and the uDrove Humanitarian Bowl (vs. WAC in Boise, Idaho).  Secondary bowls include the New Mexico Bowl (Albuquerque, N.M.) and the BBVA Compass Bowl (formerly the Bowl in Birmingham, Ala.).

Temple football season tickets are on sale now for as low as $15 per game, and can be purchased by calling the Temple Ticket Sales Office at 215-204-8499 or visit

The Owls open spring drills on Wednesday, March 23.  The annual Cherry & White Spring Game is set for Saturday, April 16 at Edberg-Olson Hall. This year’s team returns 46 lettermen, including 13 starters.

2011 Temple Football Schedule
(as of Feb. 28, 2011)

Date                                  Opponent                                           Site                                                  Time        TV
Thur., Sept. 1                 VILLANOVA                                        Lincoln Financial Field                              
Sat., Sept. 10                  *at Akron                                            Akron, Ohio                                 
Sat., Sept. 17                  PENN STATE                                       Lincoln Financial Field            
Sat., Sept. 24                  at Maryland                                        College Park, Md.                     
Sat., Oct. 1                      *TOLEDO                                             Lincoln Financial Field            
Sat., Oct. 8                      *at Ball State                                      Muncie, Ind.                               
Sat., Oct. 15                    *BUFFALO [HC]                                Lincoln Financial Field            
Sat., Oct. 22                    *at Bowling Green                          Bowling Green, Ohio               
Sat., Oct. 29                    BYE
Wed., Nov. 2                  *at Ohio                                               Athens, Ohio                               8 p.m.     ESPN2
Wed., Nov. 9                 *MIAMI (Ohio)                                 Lincoln Financial Field             8 p.m.     ESPN2
Sat., Nov. 19                   ARMY                                                   Lincoln Financial Field            
Fri., Nov. 25                    *KENT STATE                                     Lincoln Financial Field             tba           ESPNU/3#
Fri., Dec. 2                       MAC Championship                        Detroit, Mich.                              8 p.m.     ESPN2

Union play to 1-1 draw with Ergotelis F.C.

Philadelphia Union played to a 1-1 draw with Greek Super League host Ergotelis F.C. at Pancretan Stadium on Monday. Recently signed forward Carlos Ruiz notched his first tally as a Union player, but a late penalty kick enabled the home side to level the scoreline before the final whistle.

Ruiz opened Philadelphia's account in the 27th minute, converting a tap-in goal from the edge of the six-yard box. After Kyle Nakazawa found Justin Mapp along the right flank, Mapp sent a cross into the box, where “El Pescadito” was able to calmly convert for a 1-0 advantage.

The Union nearly took a 2-0 lead in the 36th minute after Roger Torres was fouled 30 yards out, but Ruiz's free kick from distance was denied by the opposing 'keeper.

Ergotelis threatened to equalize in the 39th minute after a foul outside Philadelphia’s box yielded a dangerous free kick, but goalkeeper Faryd Mondrag√≥n was able to deflect an attempted shot wide of the post.

The Union controlled possession for much of the second half, but the visiting side generated their first legitimate scoring opportunity in the 76th minute. Nakazawa's service from the flank targeted Jack McInerney and Zach Pfeffer in the area, but the youngsters were unable to convert an insurance goal for Philadelphia.

Ergotelis found their equalizer after Stefani Miglioranzi was whistled for a foul in the box, leading to a dramatic 88th minute penalty kick. 19-year-old Nikos Karelis stepped up to the spot and converted past rookie 'keeper Zac MacMath to tie the score at one goal apiece.

Ryan Richter had an opportunity to give the Union a last-second victory, but the supplemental draft pick missed a header on an open goal in injury time.

Philadelphia Union will return to action on March 2, as Peter Nowak's side will face Greek Third Division side Hersonissos F.C. at Pancretan Stadium. The Union's final leg of preseason training, sponsored by Colonial Marble & Granite, will run until March 10.

Scoring Summary:

PHI – Carlos Ruiz (Justin Mapp, Kyle Nakazawa) 27'

ERG – Nikos Karelis (Penalty Kick) 88’

St. Joe's Galloway is A-10 Rookie of the Week

 Saint Joseph's guard Langston Galloway has been named the Atlantic 10 Rookie of the Week for February 28 and the fourth time this season.

Galloway averaged 16.5 points and 4.5 rebounds in a 1-1 week for Saint Joseph's. The 6-2 freshman capped off the week scoring a career-high 27 points as the Hawks beat St. Bonaventure, 79-65. Galloway shot 8-for-13 from the field against the Bonnies including a 5-for-7 effort from three-point range. He also committed just one turnover in 38 minutes of action.

For the week, the Baton Rouge, La., native shot 43.5 percent (10-for-23) from the floor, 50.0 percent (6-for-12) from three-point range and was 7-for-8 (87.5 percent) from the free throw line.

Galloway's 27 points against St. Bonaventure marked his seventh 20-plus point game of the year. He is averaging 12.5 points per game, to rank second on the team.

The Hawks close out the home schedule on Wednesday hosting Richmond before ending the regular season on Saturday at Charlotte.

Flyers passive as trade deadline passes

Apparently satisfied with the content of their roster, the Philadelphia Flyers failed to make a move for another name player as the 2011 NHL Trade Deadline passed on Monday.

The lone move GM Paul Holmgren made was to acquire prospect forward Tom Sestito from the Columbus Blue Jackets for a pair of prospects.

Friday, February 25, 2011

Sixers reach .500, top Pistons team in disarray

Philadelphia -  Andre Iguodala stuffed the stat sheet with 21 points, 11 assists and seven rebounds to lead Philadelphia to a 110-94 win over shorthanded Detroit at the Wells Fargo Center.

Elton Brand added 20 points and matched a season-high with 17 rebounds while Thaddeus Young netted a team-high 24 points on 12-of-15 shooting off the bench for the Sixers, who have won three in a row to reach the .500 mark on the season (29-29). Philly has gone 26-16 after starting the season a miserable 3-13 and is 12-4 since Jan. 2, the fifth best make in the NBA over that span.

"Our guys feel good about themselves," Sixers coach Doug Collins said. "We are a growing team that is getting a little swagger."

Will Bynum poured in a season-high 29 points, handed out six assists and grabbed five rebounds while playing all 48 minutes for the Pistons, who were mired in controversy.

Tayshaun Prince missed the game with an upset stomach while Austin Daye, Tracy McGrady, Rodney Stuckey, Ben Wallace and Chris Wilcox were also out. Jason Maxiell was Detroit's only player off the bench.

The Detroit Free-Press reported that all the absent players -- except for Wallace -- either missed part of or all of the morning shootaround as a way to express their displeasure with head coach John Kuester. Wallace reportedly has missed practices and games during the last month because of the simmering issue.

"That's an internal matter right now," Kuester said of the reported mutiny. "The thing that we wanted to do is get the guys [in] who has been at the shootaround. They played their hearts out."

"I don't have any thoughts on anything that is going on," Bynum added. "I just try to stay professional and positive throughout whatever is going on. You know, because it's still a business. It's still my job to be a professional basketball player, so that what I am trying to do."

Kuester was then ejected from the game with three minutes to go in the first half after picking up a pair of technical fouls.

"There is no way I should have been kicked out of that game," Kuester said. "I'm very disappointed. Of all the games I've ever been a head coach in, this is the one I didn't want to get thrown out of."

"I feel bad for John Kuester," Collins added. "You could see the angst and pressure on him. I feel for coaches like that."

Rookie Greg Monroe supplied 16 points and 11 boards for the Pistons, who have dropped three straight and six out of seven overall

"Give Philadelphia credit. They played a good game," Kuester said. "I thought we played hard. We cut our numbers down as you know but these guys gave me everything they had."

Six Shots:

*The last time an NBA team used just six players in a game was Golden State in a 111-103 win over Dallas back on Nov. 24, 2009,

PPL Park wins award

The Delaware County Planning Commission have selected PPL Park, the riverside home of Philadelphia Union, as a recipient of the William H. Bates Memorial Award for 2010. The award, named in honor of the late Chairman of Commission, is given annually to publically acknowledge outstanding land development projects in Delaware County. This is the fifth award PPL Park has garnered since opening its doors on June 27, 2010.
“We’re thrilled to accept another award on behalf of PPL Park,” said Philadelphia Union CEO & Operating Partner Nick Sakiewicz. “Our intention since we began work on this project was to not only build a first-class home for the Union, but to provide the Chester Waterfront and Delaware County with an iconic landmark. We can’t wait to re-open the gates on March 26 for our first full year in the stadium.”

A state-of-the-art Major League Soccer Stadium seating 18,500 fans, PPL Park is the anchor of a $500 million waterfront revitalization project meant to bring revitalized energy and life to the area. The stadium is the fifth land development project from the City of Chester to garner the award, the most recent being Harrah’s Chester Casino and Race Track in 2007.

The William H. Bates Memorial Award was originally established in 1980 as the Outstanding Land Development Award to “encourage developers and municipalities to cooperate in providing a more efficient use of land and public services for County residents.” In 1982, the program was renamed in honor of William H. Bates to honor his 17 years of service on the Planning Commission.

Flyers recall D Gustafsson

The Philadelphia Flyers announced today that they have recalled 5-10, 180-pound defenseman Erik Gustafsson from their American Hockey League affiliate, the Adirondack Phantoms, according to general manager Paul Holmgren.  He will join the team in Ottawa and will be available for tomorrow night’s game vs. the Senators.

This is the second NHL call-up for Gustafsson.  He was recalled on December 29 and spent five days with the Flyers before being returned to Adirondack on January 3, but did not appear in any of the three games the Flyers played while he was on the roster.

Gustafsson, 22 (12-15-88), was signed by the Flyers as a free agent on March 3, 2010.  He is tied for the team lead in scoring with five goals an 28 assists for 33 points in 53 games.  The 28 assists rank first among AHL rookies.

A native of Kvissleby, Sweden, Gustafsson joined the Phantoms for five games last season following the end of a three-year career at Northern Michigan University.  He scored two goals and added five assists for seven points in those five games.  Over three seasons at Northern Michigan, Gustafsson posted seven goals and 86 assists for 93 points in 123 games.

Forget Concussion Law: Ban Tackle Football from Schools

The Sport Iconoclast

Smacking fantasy of athletics

By Matt Chaney

What is the National Football League up to?

Whom do NFL yaks think they are, pushing the 50 states and District of Columbia to burden schools with fresh bureaucracy and expense by passing youth concussion laws that offer minimal protection while raising legal stakes?

A phat-assed, billion-dollar entertainment conglomerate dictates need for vital, cash-strapped public education?

NFL yaks in their glass tower still don’t get everyday America. They should grasp current news besides droning sports trivia, like several states’ succumbing to bankruptcy while all scrape to fund education, police and fire protection, water and sewer, and roads and bridges, among our necessities suffering shortfall.

The ongoing protest by thousands of teachers and public workers in Wisconsin, for example? NFL yaks only perceive their fabled Packers franchise in that state.

Rampant unemployment? The NFL boasts it provides jobs for everyday folk, beyond elite athletes and its overpaid, well-connected coaches and administrators.


Commissioner Roger Goodell is out of it for realism, despite his showy offer to work for $1 if his boss hogs, NFL owners, lock out the players next week over stalemate in collective bargaining.

Dollar Roger should tend his own grave problems, not states’ business, especially the ridiculous NFL risks for players in their immediate and long terms.

The players, after all, constitute the league’s whole product. Consumers crave only athletic feats.

Players batter brains and limbs for gladiatorial sport sold by middlemen, carnival barkers like Goodell and greedy owners. And it’s quite the plantation these parasitic men have going, fattening themselves on the blood of players and even families.

Actually though that’s it, the undercurrent driving every dog-and-pony show Dollar Roger orchestrates at moment, from toothless law and in-house “research” to invalid “concussion testing” and absurd “behavior modification” of players.

The NFL merely seeks to shepherd tackle football through injury crisis, sustaining the bloated system as-is, down to school programs and insane youth leagues.

The league wants football to remain largely publicly funded while costing us billions more in medical and insurance coverage for annual casualties, the vast majority always kids. Thousands of players are maimed along with football deaths, which were at least a dozen in 2010—supposedly the year of “culture change” and “safer” football, to hear it from NFL officials and associate “experts.”

The NFL doesn’t really give a damn about anyone’s physical and mental health, child or adult.

ts puffy law proposal, mandating a concussed player be sidelined until cleared by a doctor or lesser technician, along with requiring paperwork and courses for school personnel, amounts to gutter med ethic only effective in elevating costs and liability for public education and individuals.

A freaking rock would understand the Goodell game by now, if not a bunch of lap-dog politicians. In fact, NFL hack Joe Browne brazenly reveals true motive in league campaign of concussion law for everybody.

“We’re fortunate that we have 3.4 million young athletes playing football,” Browne says, noting youth leagues along with schools, “and we want to continue to keep our player source strong and keep it large.”

Perhaps every kid should play football, eh, Joe, even if lacking a decent school to attend? And the NFL has a job waiting for all? Didn’t think so.

Joe Browne, Roger Goodell and their ilk can kiss my butt as I struggle to land a job in limp economy and teaching market, qualified as I am with requisite degrees, college faculty experience and journalism portfolio. I soon start work in a restaurant kitchen, gladly.

And politicians can get real, especially those yahoos in state legislatures who go silly when an NFL suit like Browne shows up to spout BS, feigning virtue, high class and authority.

If politicians want to get serious about head injuries in football, or truly protect kids while rejecting profiteers and influence peddling, constructive steps await them.

States can mandate a three-month rest for every concussed juvenile in school and youth football, heeding the call of forensic pathologist Dr. Bennet I. Omalu, independent brain expert. It was Omalu who first linked cognitive damage to the NFL in his 2002 autopsy of Mike Webster, a Hall of Fame lineman tortured by dementia and drug abuse before death at age 50, leaving his family destitute.

Many independent researchers and physicians back Omalu in principle, recommending a concussed player of any age should not resume football for at least one to three months. Supporters include Dr. Randall Benson, Wayne State University, researcher of functional MRI for brain injury in athletes, and Dr. Lester Mayers, concussion analyst and director of sports medicine at Pace University.

Even better, politicians could take initiative now on the inevitable for tackle football in litigious America.

Lawmakers should ban the sport at public schools, relieving education of responsibility for violent football headed the way once of boxing—to privatization.

Matt Chaney is a journalist, publisher, teacher and restaurant worker in Missouri, USA. Email him at For more information, including about his 2009 book, Spiral of Denial: Muscle Doping in American Football, visit

Trading Places; significant movement shakes things up at deadline

By John McMullen,

There is no truth to the rumors that Randolph and Mortimer Duke were conducting a host of social experiments on the NBA's point guards as the league's trade deadline approached.

Things certainly got very interesting in The Association, however, as a number
of the league's quarterbacks filled out change of address forms during a week
that is more often than not, anti-climatic.

Two years ago, I remember trying to cobble together a trade deadline column
around the Knicks' acquisition of Larry Hughes. Last season it was Antawn
Jamison teaming up with LeBron James in Cleveland. Substantive moves at the
time perhaps, but certainly more worthy of a yawn than a headline.

This year, storylines aren't a problem.

Clearly 'Melo's drama was the main event of this year's deadline but Deron
Williams' surprise exit from Salt Lake City for north Jersey was a nice little
semifinal. Meanwhile, a flurry of activity as the deadline expired at 3 p.m.
(et) Thursday had heads spinning around the country.

In the end, the movement of all the veteran points guards was especially
striking. Players like D-Will, Devin Harris, Chauncey Billups, Raymond Felton,
Baron Davis, Mo Williams, Mike Bibby, Aaron Brooks and Goran Dragic now all
have Bekins on the speed dial and Trading Places ready to go on the DVR,
really reshaping the league as we head down the stretch toward the postseason.

So, with that in mind here's a look at this year's major deadline deals:


Knicks get: F Carmelo Anthony, G Chauncey Billups, F Renaldo Blackman, G
Anthony Carter, C/F Sheldon Williams, G/F Corey Brewer

Nuggets get: F Wilson Chandler, G Raymond Felton, F Danilo Gallinari,
C Kosta Koufous, C Timofey Mozgov, $3 million in cash, 2014 first-round pick
(from NYK), 2012 & 13 second-round picks (from Knicks, originally owned by

Timberwolves get: C Eddy Curry, F Anthony Randolph, 2015 second-round pick
(from Nuggets), $3 million in cash

With or without 'Melo the Knicks were on their way to their first playoff
berth since 2004 and were threatening to finish over .500 for the first time
since 2001.

The "relevance" argument can cut both ways. Columnists from the New York
papers were already showing up at the Garden for the first time since the
Clinton Administration, at least for big games. On the other hand, having two
superstars on hand certainly helps in a league obsessed with marketing
individuals. It also makes it far more likely that the next set of NBA
superstars looking for a way out of the mid-markets, think Dwight Howard and
Chris Paul, chose Gotham as a preferred destination.

Already, Anthony's Knicks debut drew the highest rating for a regular-season
game on MSG network since Michael Jordan's famed "double-nickel" game 16 years
ago. It's also undeniably harder to secure the services of a so-called
superstar like Anthony than competent role players like Felton and Gallinari
so it's tough to say the Knicks shouldn't have pulled the trigger. That said,
Anthony is a lot closer to the level of the Knicks other star, Amare
Stoudemire, than a true difference-maker like James, Kobe Bryant or Howard.

"Carmelo is one of the top pure scorers in the league and like Amare, I
believe he will really embrace the opportunity to play back home in New York
and help us continue our goal of building towards a championship," said Knicks
Head Coach Mike D'Antoni. "Chauncey is a winner and having a veteran point
guard of his caliber will be extremely valuable in helping us win games,
especially in the playoffs."

The Nuggets did the best they could with the hand they were dealt and at least
got something for their star unlike Cleveland or Toronto this past offseason.
Felton was a borderline All-Star in the East while Gallinari is a nice piece
to any puzzle.

"We are excited about the talented young players we acquired in this trade,"
Nuggets president Josh Kroenke said. "They were valuable contributors to one
of the most improved teams in the NBA this season. We are looking forward to
making another postseason push. Our goals remain the same: improve every day,
play hard every game and bring an NBA championship to Denver."

Randolph certainly has talent but playing in Minnesota under Kurt Rambis
hardly seems like the type of atmosphere for an underachiever to excel.

"We are excited to add a player like Anthony who is a young, athletic big man
with a bright future. When given playing time, he has shown that he can
produce in this league," said David Kahn, Timberwolves President of Basketball


Nets get: PG Deron Williams

Jazz get: F Derrick Favors, PG Devin Harris, 2011 first-round pick (Nets),
2012 first-round pick (from Nets, originally owned by Warriors)

Although D-Will's reputation took a bit of a hit after his dust-up with Jerry
Sloan earlier this month that prompted the Hall of Fame mentor to walk away,
even his most vocal critics will agree he is at worst the second best point
guard in the game. A two-time All Star, Williams can still opt out of his
contract after the 2012 season and he, like Anthony, has made plenty of noise
about potentially playing for the Knicks. A looming lockout and new CBA could
change that thought process rather quickly, however.

The Jazz took a big step back this season but eliminated a potential
LeBron/'Melo level distraction and got a former All-Star quarterback in
Harris, a young big with a huge upside in Favors and two potential lottery
picks. And who knows, maybe Sloan will come back and teach Harris how to play


Cavs get: PG Baron Davis, 2011 first-round pick (Clippers)

Clippers get: PG Mo Williams, SF Jamario Moon

Clearly this is all about a lottery pick for Cleveland. Although the 2011
draft is not very deep the Cavs have to go about the business of rebuilding.

Davis, 31, has picked it up lately for LA but still has two years and $29
million left on his contract after this season and has been an albatross for
the Clippers. He will also been reunited with coach Byron Scott, who he often
feuded with when both were in New Orleans.

"We're excited to make this move. Baron is a very talented player at a
position that's a difficult position in this league," said Cavaliers general
manager Chris Grant. "We've also created another very good opportunity for
ourselves as we continue to build this franchise moving forward with another
high first round draft pick."

Williams, 28, is younger but also has two years and a high price tag, $17
million, left on his contract after this season. The Clips think Williams is a
better fit and got him to waive the early termination option in his contract
for this summer.  To me, he's always been a shoot-first point guard and that's
doesn't compute with Blake Griffin and Eric Gordon on hand. Moon, meanwhile,
is versatile and a solid defender.

"Mo Williams is a 28 year old All Star whose skill set not only compliments
our front court players but is an excellent running mate with Eric Gordon on
both ends of the floor," stated Clippers' vice president of basketball
operations Neil Olshey. "Jamario is an elite athlete that can play multiple
positions and will help us improve defensively."


Hawks get: G Kirk Hinrich, F/C Hilton Armstrong

Wizards get: PG Mike Bibby, G Jordan Crawford, G/F Maurice Evans; 2011 first-
round pick (Hawks)

Atlanta is a good team dwarfed by the giants out East. Bibby is clearly on the
downside and Larry Drew felt he needed more athleticism at the point in order
to have a chance to get out of the first round of the playoffs. On paper,
Hinrich is an upgrade over Bibby at both ends but he's not the natural leader
that Bibby is on the floor and has spent a lot of time off the ball recently
since Derrick Rose arrived in Chicago and Washington drafted John Wall.
Hinrich and Jamal Crawford also clashed over playing time while both were in
the Windy City although their respective roles are much more defined here.

"We felt we had a good opportunity to improve our ball club by adding Kirk and
Hilton," Sund said. "Kirk is a well-rounded player that gives us options at
both guard positions. In addition to being a solid and hard-nosed defender, he
is a good shooter who can also distribute the ball. His resume includes
significant playoff experience as well."

The deal makes sense for the Wizards, who get a nice short-term mentor for
Wall, a solid role player on both ends in Evans and a first round pick.

"We were able to acquire a proven, clutch leader in Mike, a hard-nosed veteran
in Maurice, and an intriguing prospect in Jordan, as well as a first round
draft choice to add to our own first round pick this summer," said Wizards
president Ernie Grunfeld. "This trade continues our plan to build with draft
picks and by developing our young players while staying financially flexible."


Celtics get: F Jeff Green, C Nenad Krstic

Thunder get: C Kendrick Perkins, G Nate Robinson

Oklahoma City has long been looking for help in the middle. Krstic struggles
on the boards and lottery pick Cole Aldrich has spent most of his time in the
D- League time. Perkins should give what most consider a soft-Thunder team
some much-needed toughness inside to compete with the Lakers and San Antonio
out West. Meanwhile, Green's absence should open up minutes for James Harden,
a more talented player.

The Celtics, on the other hand, are making a calculated gamble. The team's
veterans love Perkins, who injured his left knee in the Celtics' win over the
Warriors on Tuesday and is expected to miss at least a week, but he has always
been a limited player and now has the balky knees.

It's also now clear that Danny Ainge is more concerned with Miami than either
the Lakers or Magic. Ray Allen and Paul Pierce have been playing far too many
minutes and Green, who was originally drafted with the No. 5 pick Boston gave
up in the Allen deal, is the type of wing that can give them both a breather
and at least keep up with James and Dwyane Wade.

Boston also dispatched Semih Erden and Luke Harangody to Cleveland and Marquis
Daniels to Sacramento in salary dumps, while Oklahoma City netted center Nazr
Mohammed from Charlotte for D.J. White and Mo Peterson.


Blazers get: F Gerald Wallace

Bobcats get: F Dante Cunningham, C Joel Przybilla; Two future first-round

Three weeks ago the Blazers were sellers and shopping Andre Miller and Marcus
Camby among others. A six-game winning streak before the All-Star break, the
return of Brandon Roy along with Anthony's and Williams' relocation to the
East quickly changed that thinking.

Portland changed gears, making perhaps the most underrated pickup at the
deadline, former Bobcats All-Star Gerald Wallace. Wallace, who is averaging
15.6 points and 8.2 rebounds, was the last original member of the Bobcats and
the franchise's only All-Star. He has a tremendous work ethic and can play
both ends of the floor at the three and four.

"Fours couldn't guard him, and threes were too small for him," Blazers
assistant Bernie Bickerstaff, who Wallace's head coach in Charlotte for three
seasons, said. "And you know he is going to rebound for you, block shots, and
he is going to compete. He has that assassin mentality."

Bobcats owner Michael Jordan, meanwhile, is clearly cutting payroll with an
eye on the future, although the team did acquire two potential rotation
players in plodding big man Przybilla and reserve forward Cunningham.


Hornets get: F Carl Landry

Kings get: SG, Marcus Thornton, cash considerations

This deal helps both sides. Willie Green has been playing well lately
making Thornton expendable in the Big Easy while Landry is a hard-nosed
player with size and should be a nice addition for the Hornets' frontcourt.

"This is a trade that benefits both teams as Carl is a player we have looked
to acquire for a long time and we hope to be a big part of our long term
success," said Hornets GM Dell Demps. "Carl is a high character person that
will add a scoring punch to our front court while providing toughness and the
ability to make plays."

With Tyreke Evans struggling with plantar fasciitis, the Kings were in need of
a scorer and Thornton is a streak shooter that can fill it up on occasion.

"We're excited about acquiring Marcus Thornton," said Kings president of
basketball operations Geoff Petrie. "He brings a scorer's mentality to our
team and will certainly add an offensive threat to the backcourt with his
ability to shoot from the perimeter. I think he'll improve the look of our
team offensively and we're really excited about having him in Sacramento."


Rockets get: C Hasheem Thabeet, future first-round pick

Grizzlies get: F Shane Battier

Rockets get: PG Goran Dragic, future first-round pick

Suns get: PG Aaron Brooks

Thabeet is never going to be Yao Ming or even Dikembe Mutumbo for that matter
but the former No. 2 overall pick could bring a solid defensive presence to a
team still reeling from Yao's absence. Meanwhile, Houston clearly tired of
Brooks' shoot-first mentality and will be very happy to have another natural
point guard like Dragic backup up the emerging Kyle Lowry. Dragic's plus-minus
rating is more than twice as bad as any other Suns rotation player and his
defense must improve drastically.

The Grizzlies reacquired defensive stopper Battier for their playoff run while
the Suns snared an explosive option behind Steve Nash, although Brooks is on
an expiring contract and would be a restricted free agent this summer unless a
new collective bargaining agreement changes that.

"I am excited to try to tackle unfinished business I left in Memphis five
years ago; playoff success," Battier told the Houston Chronicle. "I will miss
the relationships that I've built in Houston and will always remember the good

"I'll wait in line," Brooks said of playing with Nash. "That dude is a legend,
MVP and a Hall of Famer. I'm ready to go be behind him and learn from him."

The Rockets are also expected to release forward Jared Jeffries in a buyout


Warriors get: F Troy Murphy, 2012 second-round pick (Nets)

Nets get: F Brandan Wright, C/F Dan Gadzuric

This was a salary dump on both sides although New Jersey may take a long look
at Wright. Golden State is expected to buy out Murphy, while both Wright's and
Gadzuric's deals are set to expire at the end of the season. This will become
more relevant for the top team's in the East, who are expected to vie for
Murphy's services, a big that can rebound and stretch the floor with a nice

Miami, Boston, Orlando and New York all may have interest in the Notre
Dame product with the Celtics seen as the leader in the clubhouse since they
have already made room for him by dispatching Erden and Harangody to Cleveland
and Daniels to Sacramento in salary dumps.

"We are very pleased to add Dan and Brandan to our roster," said Nets GM Billy
King. "Dan is an NBA veteran who will add depth to our frontcourt rotation,
while Brandan is a young player who we feel has significant room to grow and
develop in our system."


Bulls get: 2011 first-round pick (from Raptors, originally owned by Heat)

Raptors get: F James Johnson

Johnson, the 16th overall pick in the 2009 NBA Draft, wasn't a favorite of
Bulls coach Tom Thibodeau and was not a member of Chicago's regular rotation.
He has talent, however, and could spark his career with a Toronto club
desperately looking to upgrade its skill level and bring in players that can
compliment DeMar DeRozan.

The trade, meanwhile, saves the Bulls $1.7 million in salary and gives them
two 2011 first round picks, their own and Miami's.

"James Johnson is a strong, athletic and versatile small forward that we have
had our eye on dating back to the 2009 NBA Draft," said Raptors president and
general manager Bryan Colangelo.

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Sixers continue climb toward .500; rout Wizards

Philadelphia - Jrue Holiday scored 20 points to pace a balanced Philadelphia attack as the Sixers returned from the All-Star break in fine fashion, blitzing lowly Washington, 117-94, at Wells Fargo Center.

Thaddeus Young added 18 points and 10 rebounds off the bench for the Sixers, who have won two in a row and four out of five to move within one game of the .500 mark after starting the season 3-13.

Elton Brand and Elton Turner each scored 15 pints while Marreese Speights had 14 and seven boards for Philadelphia, which broke open the game with a strong third quarter, outscoring the Wizards 34-15 in the frame.

Jodie Meeks contributed 12 points and Andre Iguodala stuffed the stat sheet with 10 points, seven rebounds and five assists as Doug Collins was able to rest his starters for the majority of the fourth quarter.

Rookie star John Wall had 21 points and 12 assists for Washington, which is a dismal 1-27 on the road this season. Trevor Booker also netted 21 points on 9-of-10 shooting off the bench while Andray Blatche had 16 and Nick Young finished with 15.

Shortly before the game ended, the Wizards announced they had traded guard Kirk Hinrich and forward Hilton Armstrong to the Atlanta Hawks in exchange for guards Mike Bibby and Jordan Crawford, swingman Maurice Evans and a first- round pick in the 2011 NBA Draft.

The NBA's trade deadline is 3 p.m. (et) on Thursday.

Before the game, Sixers president Rod Thorn said his team might do something "minor" but not to expect a splash. Of course, two of the Sixers' Atlantic Division rivals have already made major moves this week with New York acquiring four-time All-Star forward Carmelo Anthony and New Jersey netting an All-Star of its own in point guard Deron Williams.

Six Shots:

*The Sixers topped their win total of last season when they finished 27-55.

*Philadelphia is 7-3 this month, clinching a winning mark for the third straight month, the first time they have done that since the 2000-01 season.

*The Sixers are 8-2 this season when Jrue Holiday scored 20-plus points.

Nets finally find relevance with Williams

By John McMullen

Philadelphia, PA -Sometimes it's better to be lucky than good.

Mikhail Prokhorov has been chasing relevance for his Nets since becoming majority owner of the franchise in September of 2009. A billionaire that became the second richest man in Russia and the 39th most well off in the world in the precious metals industry, Prokhorov likely just doesn't understand why the Nets will always be afterthoughts in the New York market.

In fact, to borrow a phrase from New York's real No. 1, the Nets couldn't get arrested in that town.

That hasn't stopped Prokhorov from poking the bear at every opportunity. In a bold move over the summer, the Nets purchased ad space, featuring a gigantic 225-by-95-foot mural of Prokhorov, minority owner Jay-Z and the Nets logo right outside Jim Dolan's office window at Madison Square Garden.

The Knicks, normally nothing more than bemused by their baby brother across the Hudson, actually called the league office to complain, a response that only emboldened Prokhorov, who has been working since Day 1 to find a way to upstage the Knicks.

The Russian got involved in the LeBron James sweepstakes over the summer and was likely thrilled when "The King" took his talents to South Beach but at the end of the day, whether he chose the Knicks or not, James at least took them seriously.

 The Nets? Not so much.

 As the Summer of LeBron quickly morphed into the Winter of Carmelo, Prokhorov embarrassed himself by recruiting a player that never had any intention of agreeing to play for the Nets.

 Tired of 'Melo's waffling Prokhorov finally instructed his basketball chief, Billy King, to cease negotiations in an effort to save face only to reengage a few weeks later.

 Prokhorov just couldn't understand that 'Melo was obsessed with the thought of playing in the Garden and becoming a 2011 version of his boyhood idol -- Bernard King. Using part of his $65 million to hire a limo service and make the quick trek from Newark into Manhattan was never an option for Anthony -- even though King also toiled for the Nets during his NBA career.

 The Nuggets' front office always preferred New Jersey's offer, specifically the upside of Derrick Favors, to any of the packages the Knicks put on the table but Carmelo was always driving this thing and played hardball to the very end until Denver, loathe to become another Cleveland and Toronto, finally acquiesced and sent Anthony to Manhattan on Tuesday.

 The Nets looked second-rate again, forced to think about salary dumps and players like Andre Miller.

 Then a funny thing happened, King, never known for his creativity while running the basketball operations in Philadelphia, pulled a rabbit out of his hat, sending Favors, Devin Harris and a pair of first round picks to Utah for Deron Williams.

 Although D-Will's reputation took a bit of a hit after a dust-up with Jerry Sloan earlier this month that prompted the Hall of Fame mentor to walk away, even his most vocal critics will agree he is at worst the second best point guard in the game.

 A two-time All Star, Williams made the All-NBA Second Team in 2008 and 2010, won a gold medal as part of the Team USA at the 2008 Summer Olympics in Beijing, was a member of the All-Rookie First Team in 2006 and became only the third player in NBA history to have 1500-plus points and 800-plus assists while shooting 50.0-or-better from the field in a single season back in 2007-08.

 Right now Williams can still opt out of his contract after the 2012 season and he, like Anthony, has made plenty of noise about potentially playing for the Knicks. A looming lockout and new CBA could change that thought process rather quickly, however.

 In one 24-hour period, Prokhorov fired a shot across the bow at MSG and finally thrust his Nets into relevance.

Meanwhile, his timing couldn't have been better. Whether the Knicks admit it or not, you can bet they have at least a twinge of buyer's remorse on 'Melo debut day. 

Three Temple players at NFL Combine

Three Temple football players-- senior safety Jaiquawn Jarrett (Brooklyn, N.Y.), senior linebacker Elijah “Peanut” Joseph (Hartford, Conn.), and junior defensive tackle Muhammad Wilkerson (Linden, N.J.)-- have been invited to the 2011 NFL Combine in Indianapolis to be held Feb. 24 through March 1 at Lucas Oil Stadium.

The annual NFL Combine provides college players the opportunity to showcase their skills and meet with each of the 32 NFL teams head coaches, coaching staffs, personnel directors, and scouts in preparation of the 2011 NFL Draft.  The NFL Combine will be televised by the NFL Network.

A 2010 Pro Football Weekly All-American, Jarrett is a two-time first-team All-MAC honoree and team captain.  Jarrett started all 12 games at free safety in 2010 and played in every game of his collegiate career with 43 starts. Jarrett was the Owls' top defender with 74 tackles, and also had two interceptions, two break-ups, a forced fumble, and a fumble recovery last season. Named to the prestigious Jim Thorpe Award Watch List, Jarrett was the recipient of the 2010 National Football Foundation & College Football Hall of Fame Scholar-Athlete and the 2010 Enterprise Spirit & Sportsmanship Awards.

Joseph played in all 10 games in 2010 with seven starts at middle linebacker.  Joseph finished second on the team with 71 tackles, including a team-best 46 solo takedowns, and a team-high six break-ups. He led Temple with a career-high 12 tackles in the win at Army.

Wilkerson was the recipient of Temple's defensive most valuable player honor in 2010. A two-time first-team All-MAC honoree, Wilkerson was a team captain and started all 12 games at defensive tackle.  One of just seven Owls to start every game, he finished with 70 tackles and led the Owls with 13.0 TFL and 9.5 sacks. Named to the Outland Trophy Watch List, he earned MAC Defensive Player of the Week accolades twice in 2010.

The 2011 NFL Draft is slated for April 28-30 at Radio City Music Hall in New York City. It will be televised by ESPN and the NFL Network.

Upshall suspended two games for Tuesday hit

Phoenix Coyotes forward Scottie Upshall was given a two-game suspension by the National Hockey League on Wednesday for actions during Tuesday's 3-2 overtime victory against the Philadelphia Flyers.

At the 17-second mark of the second period, Upshall leveled Flyers defenseman Oskars Bartulis with a hard, but late check to Bartulis' upper-body. Bartulis, caught off guard by the contact, crumpled to the ice on his shoulder.

"Oskars is just standing there minding his own business. It was a late hit," Flyers GM Holmgren said after the game. "I guess I got a little bit of a problem with it, yeah. It's not really like Scottie to do that. Things happen."

He did not return to the game with what was termed as an "upper-body injury." No status was available Wednesday afternoon, with the results of an MRI for the Latvian backliner still outstanding.

Upshall was making his return to Philadelphia for the first time since a March, 2009 deal sent him to Phoenix for Dan Carcillo. He received a minor for boarding on the play.

"I couldn't really see the puck get covered, nor could I hear a whistle," Upshall said in his own defense. "I didn't intentionally go to drive him, let alone drive him into the boards. I hope he's all right. Those plays happen a lot where guys are just standing up to each other. I hope he's all right."

The 27-year-old winger will forfeit $24,193.54 in salary, and is slated to miss the Coyotes' games in Tampa Bay on Wednesday and in Columbus on Friday. He will be eligible to return on Sunday when the Blackhawks arrive in Glendale.

Flyers place Zherdev on waivers

by Bob Herpen
Phanatic Hockey Editor

Per general manager Paul Holmgren, the Flyers placed forward Nikolai Zherdev on waivers Wednesday afternoon.

"His agent and Nik, they’re obviously not happy with the situation here," Holmgren said. "They’d asked us to look around for options. Nothing really came of that through trades, so we’ll see what happens with this."

The 26-year-old Ukrainian hasn't played since February 10 against Carolina, and was memorably lost in RBC Center on Friday night at Carolina, forcing Jody Shelley to take the place of a flu-ridden Mike Richards.

Zherdev has collected 15 goals and 19 points in 47 games this season, his first with Philadelphia after a year in Russia's Continental Hockey League.

"I think at times for me it was just the level of play," Flyers head coach Peter Laviolette said. "It wasn’t the skill thing, it was the level that he played. There were other guys that were performing better. So there’s only nine that can go in there — the nine I felt were playing."

Teams have 24 hours in which to claim Zherdev. Holmgren did state after announcing the move that no teams have inquired about the Kiev-born winger. Given his rumored departure from the club's practice facility in Voorhees this afternoon without talking to anyone, and his recent behavior and declining work habits, a demotion to the minors is highly unlikely.

Should he clear by tomorrow afternoon, Russia could come calling. Zherdev notched 13 goals and 39 points in 52 games with Atlant Moscow in 2009-10.

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Coyotes stave off late Flyers rally, snag OT win

by Bob Herpen
Phanatic Hockey Editor

The fact that Shane Doan notched a power-play goal with 2:19 left in overtime to give the Phoenix Coyotes a 3-2 victory over the Flyers Tuesday night was pretty much immaterial.

That it occurred with Kimmo Timonen in the penalty box, sent off on a phantom stick infraction a little over a minute before didn't really matter.

"I didn’t like it," Flyers head coach Peter Laviolette said diplomatically. "There is a lot of stick work that goes on. We were fighting around that net offensively and with 4-on-3, I did not like that call."

What did, was that the Eastern Conference leaders needed 58 minutes and 47 seconds of game time to show even a little bit of what got them to the top of the standings in the first place.

Claude Giroux temporarily saved their bacon, when his second-chance shot, taken while lying on the ice at the left side of the crease with 1:13 left in regulation, sent the Orange and Black to the extra session.

"Yeah, I got it up pretty quick and tried to get it on net," Giroux said. "It got back into the defense, but I was able to get a second shot on it."

It wasn't enough, as Radim Vrbata fed Doan with a cross-ice dish that led to a successful one-timer from the left circle for the game-winner.

Phoenix, which got 37 saves from Ilya Bryzgalov, won its eighth straight game and padded its lead atop the Pacific Division. It is the second such streak in as many seasons for the Coyotes, who won nine in a row from March 4-21, 2010.

Sergei Bobrovsky took the loss with 26 stops, but began to look more and more like the rookie he is, as Philadelphia dropped its first home contest since January 22.

Ville Leino picked up the other goal for the Flyers, who had won six of their last eight outings coming in and failed to become the first NHL club to reach 40 wins.

Coming off a successful four-game road trip that resulted in three wins, the Flyers were all over the visitors in the early stages of the contest.
Yet, it was a fluke goal which gave Peter Laviolette's club the lead.

Matt Carle got the puck near the boards at the blue line on the left wing and let a floater go towards the Phoenix net. Touched at least once near the center of the ice, possibly by Leino, the puck ultimately changed direction off Coyotes forward Sami Lepisto, took a bad hop and sailed past Bryzgalov at the 6:24 mark of the opening period.

Despite a late-period power play, the Flyers failed to add to their advantage and led 1-0 after one.

Things got dicey just 17 seconds into the second period.

After the Coyotes came on a rush, Bobrovsky covered up the puck at the left post. Clearly after the whistle blew, former Flyer Scottie Upshall levelled spare defenseman Oskars Bartulis with a hard, high check.

The Latvian backliner, pressed into service after Sean O'Donnell is expected be out for up to two weeks, crumpled to the ice heavily and landed on his shoulder. He left with what was termed as an upper-body injury and did not return.

It was not the impression Upshall hoped to make in his first game back on South Broad Street since he was dealt for Dan Carcillo in March, 2009. He was heartily booed for the remainder of the game every time he touched the puck.

Philly failed to capitalize on Upshall's boarding penalty, or a subsequent call to Nolan Yonkman for cross-checking. Phoenix also couldn't find the net despite two advantages in the final four-plus minutes of the second.

Playing against just five defensemen, the Coyotes finally got their break at 2:54 of the third.

Mikkel Boedker eluded a Flyers' defenseman in the neutral zone and carried down the right wing all the way behind Bobrovsky's net. Spinning away from another checker, he slid a pass through the slot for a one-timer by Eric Belanger for a 1-1 tie.

Bobrovsky later channeled the spirit of Stephane Beauregard and countless other hapless former Philadelphia netminders, totally flubbing a rolling Taylor Pyatt shot into the net for a 2-1 contest with 9 1/2 minutes remaining.

Two more Coyotes penalties passed without the home team solving Bryzgalov, though it wasn't for lack of trying. James van Riemsdyk was absolutely stoned by the Russian goaler, as his quick chance from the left side with 2:36 remaining met a left pad on its way to a half-open net.

"I feel good...especially when you’re winning, you don’t feel too much tiredness," said Bryzgalov, who made his 19th straight start. "I think in the last stretch –- the last eight or nine games, I’ve played very well."

Pinned in their own end for periods of time as the game progressed due to Phoenix's modified trap, it wasn't until Bobrovsky went to the bench for an extra attacker in the final 1:24 that the Flyers showed some real spark.

It paid off temporarily in the tying score, as work by Jeff Carter and Mike Richards through bodies in the slot worked the disc to Giroux for his 21st of the season.

Notes:The Coyotes improved to 4-5-1 in 10 games at Philadelphia since 1996...Winnipeg/Phoenix upped its all-time mark here to 10-23-1 since entering the NHL in 1979...Doan participated in the 1,098th game with the Jets/Coyotes, tying him with Teppo Numminen for most on the all-time list...He is the last skater in the NHL who dressed for the Jets before their 1996 relocation...Phoenix has won two of its last three appearances in the Quaker City...This was Vrbata's second two-assist game in the last four...Jody Shelley was the recipient of 60 stitches following his second-period fight with Yonkman.

Phillie play-by-play guy Scott Franzke on WIP

Melo's Drama arrives in New York

By John McMullen

Philadelphia, PA - The Guiding Light is the longest running soap opera in American television history. Over the past few months I couldn't help but feel Carmelo Anthony was intent on giving it a run for its money as he held the Denver Nuggets hostage with an eye on Manhattan.

To borrow a catchphrase from the world's most electrifying entertainer, finally...finally Carmelo Anthony is on his way to New York.

I don't mean to play sing along with The Rock but I can't help rejoicing in the fact that our long national nightmare is over and we can all get back to paying attention to more important things like the economy, the NBA playoff race or the latest episode of Parks and Recreation.

A slightly overrated, tad bit selfish, defensively-challenged, narcissistic scorer is on his way to the so-called Mecca of professional basketball as the Nuggets mercifully pulled the trigger on their long-awaited trade with the Knicks a couple days before the deadline.

I don't have the heart to tell 'Melo that Staples Center, which opened in 1999, has seen far more championship basketball that the aged, crumbling Garden he so reveres. But, this is what he wanted and if you are a pending free agent and have built up the kind of leverage Carmelo did, you certainly have the right to steer things as best you can.

To acquire Anthony, the Knicks sent the sharp-shooting Danilo Gallinari, point guard Raymond Felton, swingman Wilson Chandler, center Timofey Mozgov, a 2014 first-round pick and two second-round picks acquired from Golden State in the David Lee sign-and-trade, along with $3 million in exchange for Mr. La La.

Chauncey Billups and assorted flotsam like Shelden Williams, Renaldo Balkman and Anthony Carter will join 'Melo on 8th Avenue, while New York also agreed to trade Anthony Randolph and Eddy Curry's expiring contract to Minnesota for slight swingman Corey Brewer in a separate deal.

As for the Knicks, while it's certainly flattering to have the new flavor of the month making overtures, especially after being spurned by LeBron James in the offseason, it's a risky move to gut a team finally heading in the right direction.

With or without 'Melo the Knicks were on their way to their first playoff berth since 2004 and were threatening to finish over .500 for the first time since 2001.

The "relevance" argument can cut both ways. Columnists from the New York papers were already showing up for the first time since the Clinton Administration, at least for big games. On the other hand, having two superstars on hand certainly helps in a league obsessed with marketing individuals. It also makes it far more likely that the next set of NBA superstars looking for a way out of the mid-markets, think Dwight Howard, Chris Paul and Deron Williams, chose Gotham as a preferred destination.

Meanwhile, it's undeniably harder to secure the services of a so-called superstar like Anthony than competent role players like Felton and Gallinari so it's tough to say don't pull the trigger.

That said, Anthony is a lot closer to the level of the Knicks other star, Amare Stoudemire, than a true difference-maker like James, Kobe Bryant or Howard.

Anthony's individual accomplishments in the Rockies are never going to be questioned but his effect on the franchise as a whole is generally overstated.

Yes, the Nuggets were a moribund team the two seasons before Anthony arrived in Denver, winning just 27 and 17 games, and his presence turned the club into an instant playoff threat. But, the franchise didn't reach the 50-win barrier until his fifth NBA season and was unable to win a playoff series until his sixth year.

In fact, Carmelo's Nuggets were just 2-7 in postseason series total and advanced past the first round just once, in 2008-09, when the club made a run to the Western Conference finals before succumbing to the eventual champion Lakers.

It's certainly not fair to put all of Denver's postseason failings on Anthony's shoulders but fair or not superstars in the NBA are judged on playoff success.

Heck, Denver coach George Karl seemed more concerned about the absence of Billups in his locker room than 'Melo.

"I'm 100 percent behind the decision we made, even though it will be dangerous and there won't be the veteran point guard back there," Karl told the Denver Post. "Felton, I thought was having a great season this year. But I think Ty (Lawson) and Felton are going to have a great challenge to live up to what Chauncey has given us in past years."

Karl's dispassion over Anthony's exit should raise more than a few eyebrows and directly speaks to Anthony's lack of leadership skills.

On the bright side for the Knicks, Billups is along for the ride for the short term and still has enough gas left in the tank to elevate his new teammates. "Stat" has proven to be a legit star while rookie Landry Fields and undersized center Ronny Turiaf should be competent role players next to the big three. Toney Douglas, Shawne Williams and Brewer, meanwhile, will be the headliners on a thin bench.

New York currently sits in sixth place in the Eastern Conference at 28-26, 5 1/2 games south of Atlanta and two games clear of seventh-place Philadelphia. Expecting a serious move past the Hawks or Orlando is folly, meaning a first round playoff matchup with a team like Chicago, something that could have been accomplished with the previous cast.

But this isn't about 2011 unless you're talking about drawing more C-level stars for Jill Martin's always entertaining Celebrity Row segments. It's about next season and beyond.

So, let's be blunt -- if this game is all about winning championships, Anthony hasn't had the kind of success worthy of a $65 million dollar extension from anyone.

The Knicks, unfortunately, are about to learn that the hard way.

Union signs Guatemalan F Ruiz

The Philadelphia Union have signed Guatemalan forward Carlos “El Pescadito” Ruiz on a free transfer from Greek SuperLiga club Aris FC.

Ruiz, voted Major League Soccer’s Most Valuable Player in his first season, returns to the League after two years playing abroad. Ruiz will be eligible to play pending receiving his International Transfer Certificate. Per MLS and club policy, terms of the deal will not be disclosed.

Ruiz signed with the LA Galaxy in 2002 and made an immediate impact, scoring 24 goals and earning the League’s MVP and Golden Boot awards. His stellar season led the Galaxy to the MLS Cup title, an accomplishment he shared with current Philadelphia Union captain Danny Califf. Ruiz secured another Golden Boot award the following season, scoring 15 goals to tie Taylor Twellman for the top total in MLS.

In 2005, Ruiz was transferred to FC Dallas, where he stayed until 2008, tallying 31 goals and nine assists in 68 matches. In 2008, he was sent back to LA but was traded to Toronto FC once the summer transfer window opened.

In six MLS seasons, Ruiz played a total of 155 matches, 137 as a starter, logging 12,349 minutes and registering 82 goals and 17 assists. Ruiz also holds the record for most goals in MLS postseason history with 16. The 31-year-old is the 10th-highest all-time scorer in MLS history, and third among active players.

Since leaving MLS in 2009, Ruiz has continued to be an offensive threat, notching 20 goals in 66 appearances with Paraguayan First Division club Olimpia Asunción FC (ten goals in 18 appearances), Mexican First Division club Puebla FC (nine goals in 33 appearances), and Super League Greece club Aris FC (one goal in 15 appearances). Recently, the striker notched three goals in UEFA Europa League competition against FK Austria Wien (2) and Norwegian side Rosenborg BK (1).

“El Pescadito” began his professional career in 1995 with Guatemalan club CSD Municipal, where he spent seven seasons and accumulated 59 goals and two “Clausura” championships (2000 and 2002) in 143 appearances. Ruiz debuted with the Guatemalan National Team on November 11, 1998 in a friendly match against Mexico. He netted his first goal against El Salvador on March 19, 1999 and has since has become his country’s all-time leading scorer with 41 goals in 86 caps. In 2001, Ruiz led Guatemala to a first place finish in the UNCAF Nations Cup after settling for second place the previous three years.

Sunday, February 20, 2011

Eagles sign LB Jeanty

The Philadelphia Eagles have signed veteran LB Rashad Jeanty to a one-year contract.

The 27-year-old Jeanty played in 53 games (32 starts) as an outside linebacker for the Cincinnati Bengals from 2006-09, recording 215 tackles. In 2008, Jeanty posted a career-high 97 tackles as he started 15 regular season games and earned the team’s Ed Block Courage Award from his teammates.

Jeanty (6-2, 243) led the Bengals with 14 special teams tackles in 2009 but suffered a fractured fibula on the opening kickoff of an AFC Wild Card game vs. NY Jets. That injury forced him to miss the entire 2010 season as he rehabilitated.

From 2003-05, Jeanty played for Edmonton in the Canadian Football League as a defensive end. He posted 49 tackles and five sacks for the Eskimos in 2004.

A product of Carol City High School in Miami, FL, Jeanty starred at Central Florida, logging 9.5 sacks and 137 tackles in 22 games. He was a college teammate of Eagles CB Asante Samuel.

Blake Griffin's dunk over a car

East meets West in 60th annual NBA All-Star Game

Hollywood meets the hardwood on Sunday at Staples Center when the league's best from the East and West clash in the 60th annual NBA All-Star Game.

Sunday's contest will be the record fifth time that the mid-season classic has
emanated from Southern California, dating back to 1963 when legendary Celtics
coach Red Auerbach and his long-time stalwart Bill Russell led the East to a
115-108 win at the old Sports Arena.

The game returned nine years later in 1972, this time at the Fabulous Forum,
when the Lakers' own Jerry West was named the game's MVP as the West won a
112-110 nail-biter. The All-Stars returned to the left coast and the Forum in
1983 with the East winning 132-123 behind the Sixers' Julius Erving, who was
named MVP. Just over 20 years later, the West evened things in LA at Staples
Center in 2004 with a 136-132 triumph behind then-Laker Shaquille O'Neal.

This year's version features a lot of familiar faces as well as some fresh
ones on the Western side.

Lakers superstar Kobe Bryant, who missed last year's game with a balky ankle,
was this season's leading vote-getter in the All-Star Balloting program with
2,380,016 votes. The selection was Bryant's 13th consecutive and he now trails
only West, Karl Malone and O'Neal for the all-time record of 14 straight nods.

Bryant, the youngest All-Star in NBA history in 1998, and the All-Star MVP in
2002 and 2007, and co-MVP along with O'Neal in 2009, will be joined in the
Western Conference starting backcourt by the New Orleans Hornets' Chris Paul,
a four-time All-Star that paces the league in steals (2.47 spg) while ranking
fourth in assists (9.6 apg).

Oklahoma City's Kevin Durant, the NBA's leading scorer, will make his first
All-Star Game start in the frontcourt, alongside Denver's Carmelo Anthony.

"Just to be a starter in this game alongside these great players is an honor
for me; to get voted in by the fans is a dream come true," Durant said. "I'm
just taking it all in and enjoying it and relaxing a bit. It's a busy weekend
but fun at the same time."

Anthony, meanwhile, could very well be making one of his final appearances as
a member of the Nuggets with rumors heating up that the New York native will
be traded to either the Knicks or New Jersey by next Thursday's deadline.

Rounding out the West's starting five will be San Antonio big man Tim Duncan,
who will be playing in his 13th straight All-Star game and making his 12th
consecutive start. Duncan, originally selected as a reserve, was inserted into
the starting lineup to replace the injured Yao Ming (stress fracture, left
ankle) of Houston, not a surprise since the veteran's mentor in San Antonio,
Gregg Popovich, will pilot the West squad.

"It's great. It's unbelievable," Duncan said of his latest All-Star nod. "It's
got a lot more to do with what we have done as a team than anything I've done
individually this year. I'm out there representing all of the work that our
guys have done this year to get the record that we have and to be playing the
way we have."

Pau Gasol of the two-time defending champion Lakers and Clippers rookie Blake
Griffin, the 2011 slam dunk champion, highlighted the reserve selections for
the West.

Joining Gasol and Griffin, the first rookie since Yao in 2003 to be named an
All-Star, on the West are Dallas' Dirk Nowitzki, the Thunder's Russell
Westbrook, the only player in the NBA averaging at least 22.0 points, 8.0
assists and 5.0 rebounds, San Antonio's Manu Ginobili, Utah's Deron Williams,
along with Minnesota double-double machine Kevin Love, who was selected by NBA
commissioner David Stern as Yao's injury replacement.

On the Eastern Conference side, Orlando Magic center Dwight Howard, the second
leading vote-getter overall with 2,099,204, will handle the pivot for coach
Doc Rivers.

"It's the best weekend that we could have for the players, just being around
all of the All Stars and the rookies and sophomores," Howard said of the All-
Star atmosphere.  "Just the whole experience, it's the best."

Joining Howard in the East starting lineup at forward are the Miami Heat's
LeBron James, the 2006 and 2008 All-Star Game MVP, and the New York Knicks'
Amare Stoudemire. Rivers' backcourt will feature the Heat's Dwyane Wade, last
year's All-Star Game MVP, alongside the Chicago Bulls' Derrick Rose, who
earned his first All-Star game start and is the only player in the league to
rank in the top 10 in  both scoring (eighth at 24.5 ppg) and assists (ninth at
8.2 apg).

The bench will be very familiar to Rivers as it features 80 percent of the
Celtics' starting lineup, forwards Kevin Garnett, earning his record-tying
14th straight All-Star selection, and Paul Pierce, along with guards Rajon
Rondo and Ray Allen. Rounding out the East squad are Atlanta teammates Al
Horford and Joe Johnson, and the Heat's Chris Bosh.

"I don't think you can go wrong with the guys we have out there on the floor,"
Allen said when asked about all the Celtics on the East squad. "If we are
playing together in the fourth quarter, Kevin could be the 5-man and you could
go me, Rondo, Paul, LeBron.  There's just so many possibilities.  So it will
be fun."

In the 2010 annual event, Dallas native Bosh, then of the Toronto Raptors, hit
two free throws with five seconds remaining, boosting the East to a 141-139
victory over the West before a record crowd of 108,713 at Cowboys Stadium.
The attendance at Jerry Jones' palace just outside Dallas set a mark
for the largest crowd to ever watch a basketball game.

Wade garnered MVP honors by scoring 28 points, recording 11 assists, six
rebounds and five steals. James, who was a member of the Cleveland Cavaliers
at the time, added 25 points, while Bosh finished with 23 points and 10

Anthony had 27 points and 10 rebounds for the West, but his three-point try at
the buzzer grazed the front of the rim as he was defended by Wade.

The starters for Sunday's contest were determined by the fans' votes, while
the 30 head coaches in the NBA voted for the reserves in their respective


The All-Star format is all about athleticism and the ability to excel in the
spacing of an open floor. As you might expect, Bryant and James have dominated
recent All-Star games, combining for four of the last five MVP awards, with
Wade, another superlative open court performer, breaking that string in last
year's game.

Since Bryant was out of the picture after earning his third career All-Star
MVP back in 2009 in Phoenix and this year's game is on his home floor, you
have to feel like he has an excellent shot of garnering yet another award.
Home court always tends to mean a lot in these games since players like to
feed the local favorites and fuel the energy of the crowd. So, also pay plenty
of attention to Bryant's teammate, Gasol, as well as the Clippers' Griffin.

Durant is also worth mentioning since he remains the best pure scorer in the
game and can fill it up faster than anyone else.

For the East, keep your eye on the Heat's contingent. James, who earned his
second MVP in 2008 and could also have easily taken last year's award, is
tailor-made for this type of environment as the game's best pure physical
specimen. Meanwhile, Wade's athleticism and ability to finish is a perfect fit
for this type of setting as evidenced by the 2010 contest.

According to an fan poll, 30 percent of fans think James will take MVP
honors, while hometown hero Bryant finished a close second at 28 percent and
Durant netted 18 percent.


- James and Wade are the first set of teammates to start an All-Star Game for
the Eastern Conference since Wade and O'Neal represented the Heat in 2007 in
Las Vegas.

- Six international players were selected for this year's All-Star Game:
Ginobili (Argentina), Yao (China), Horford (Dominican Republic), Duncan (U.S.
Virgin Islands), Gasol (Spain), and Nowitzki (Germany).

-Bryant is seventh all-time in NBA history with 207 All-Star points and will
have a chance to move past Elgin Baylor (218), Erving (221) and Bob Pettit
(224) this year. The top three are Michael Jordan (262), Kareem Abdul-Jabbar
(251) and Oscar Robertson (246). James, meanwhile, is the all-time leader in
scoring average for players who have toiled in three or more All-Star games at
23.7 points per contest.

-Allen, who recently surpassed Reggie Miller to become the NBA's leading all-
time three-point shooter, is also the top long-range marksman in All-Star
history with 64. well ahead of Bryant, who is second with 48.

- The East leads the all-time series by a 36-23 margin. There was no All-Star
game in 1999 due to the lockout.


The game, of course, caps a busy weekend of activity for the NBA.

All-Star Saturday Night was highlighted by Griffin's amazing performance in
the Dunk Contest. The presumptive Rookie of the Year topped Washington's
JaVale McGee in the final after leaping over the hood of a car to complete his
last slam.

The two advanced to the final round in an event that was part dunk contest and
part theater, and full of creativity. Griffin received 68 percent of the vote
from fans to come away the winner. For Griffin's final slam, a Kia Optima was
brought onto the court as his dunk advisor, TNT analyst Kenny Smith, spoke to
the crowd. The four-door sedan was set up horizontally in the lane with
Griffin's teammate, Baron Davis, inside with the ball.

As if that was not enough, Smith brought a gospel choir to the court. With it
singing the song, "I Believe I Can Fly," Griffin leaped over the hood of the
car, caught the ball that Davis sent through the sunroof, and threw down a
two-handed slam.

And that was only one dunk. It was by far the most elaborate of the night, in
terms of props, and left little excitement for McGee, who closed the contest
with a right-handed slam off a backboard bounce. The results were announced
shortly thereafter.

While Griffin's final dunk was the most elaborate, it was hardly the only
creative dunk of the night. In addition to Griffin and McGee, Toronto's DeMar
DeRozan and Oklahoma City Thunder forward Serge Ibaka competed in the event.
All were matched up with a coach of sorts, to help create innovative dunks.

Prior to the dunk contest, the Miami Heat's James Jones won the Three-Point
Contest, Golden State second- year guard Stephen Curry won the Skills
Challenge, and the Atlanta team, comprised of Hawks center Horford, NBA
analyst Steve Smith and Atlanta Dream star Coco Miller, won the Shooting Stars

Also, Iowa's Courtney Sims scored 25 points on 10-for-13 shooting on his way
to earning his second NBA D-League All-Star MVP Trophy as the East downed the
East, 115-108 in the 2011 NBA D-League All-Star Game. Maine's DeShawn Sims
added 20 points for the East All-Stars, while Sean Williams of the Texas
Legends, the 17th overall pick of the 2007 NBA Draft, led the West with 21

The festivities kicked off Friday night in spectacular fashion when Wall
dished out a Rookie Challenge-record 22 assists, as the first- year players
topped the sophomores, 148-140, at the Los Angeles Convention Center. It was
the highest-scoring game between the rookies and sophomores. The first-
year players won the game for the second straight year after a string of seven
straight victories for the sophomores.

Sacramento's DeMarcus Cousins scored 33 to go with 14 rebounds, while
Minnesota's Wes Johnson totaled 25 points for the winners. James Harden of the
Thunder scored 30 and San Antonio's DeJuan Blair contributed 28 and 15 boards
for the sophomores.

Also Friday, teen singing sensation Justin Bieber was named MVP of the All-
Star celebrity game, this despite his West squad suffering a 54-49 loss to the
East. Bieber totaled eight points, four assists and a pair of rebounds. Hall
of Famer Scottie Pippen led the East team with 17 points.

The NBA's D-League also put its best forward on Friday night as Dar Tucker of
the New Mexico Thunderbirds, Booker Woodfox of the Texas Legends and the NBA
D-League Shooting Stars team of Shane Edwards (New Mexico Thunderbirds), Orien
Greene (Utah Flash) and Jeremy Wise (Bakersfield Jam) all came away victorious
at the fourth annual D-League skills competition.

Wings bury Bandits

The Philadelphia Wings got their record back to .500 with a 10-9 win over the Buffalo Bandits at the HSBC Arena in Buffalo, NY.

Forward Drew Westervelt got fully extended to net the game winner with less than 2 minutes remaining.

In a continuation of last week's physical play between these two East Division rivals, the game featured numerous post-whistle skirmishes and two player ejections. Bandits lost defender Steve Priolo in the fist quarter for an off ball wrap up with Matt Alrich and defender Ben McCullough was sent to the dressing room early in the third quarter. Buffalo finished the contest with a total 46 penalty minutes to 14 for the Wings.

While the Bandits sat in the penalty box, the Wings offense went to work. Of Philadelphia's 10 goals, six were scored on the power play. Dan Hardy, Alex Turner and Athan Iannucci all converted for the Wings. Hardy and Iannucci finished the game with 3 goals a piece.  While Turner, Bill McGlone, Steve Holmes and Drew Westervelt all beat Bandits goalie Angus Goodleaf for 1 goal a piece.

National Lacrosse League (NLL) All-Star goalie Brandon Miller did not disappoint. Miller recorded 43 saves, bringing his season total to 361.

The Wings (4-4) are back in action at the Wells Fargo Center on Saturday, February 26 against the Toronto Rock at 8 p.m. Toronto leads the NLL East Division with 7 wins and 2 losses.

Union fall to Orlando S.C. in exhibition match

The Philadelphia Union lost their first preseason match in 2011 as the club fell to USL-Pro club Orlando City S.C. 1-0 at the Florida Citrus Bowl.

A straight red card handed to Carlos Valdes in the 19th minute left the Union a man down, and Lewis Neal capitalized on the ensuing free kick for the match’s lone goal.

Playing with ten men, the Union were left searching for an equalizer the remainder of the match. In the 31st minute, Danny Mwanga stole a ball in the midfield and managed to slice through Orlando’s defense, but the striker’s shot from the top of the box was wide of the near post.

Mwanga continued to challenge the Lions in the 43rd minute after Roger Torres found the youngster to the left of the goal, but Mwanga’s attempt missed the far post.

The Union came out refreshed in the second half, creating chances throughout the final 45 minutes of the match. Kyle Nakazawa had several scoring opportunities, but the midfielder was unable to convert.

The 1-0 result closes out the Union’s first leg of preseason training.

The final leg of preseason will feature matches against Greek Third Division team Hersonisos F.C. and Super League team Ergotelis F.C.

Soul return with 1st day of training camp

The 2011 Philadelphia Soul stepped onto the playing field Saturday at the NovaCare Complex in south Philly for the first time since winning ArenaBowl XXII in New Orleans back in July of 2008.

Thirty-one players with one returnee, DB/WR Mike Brown, have been invited to training camp under new head coach Mike Hohensee, a former University of Minnesota quarterback, and the only person to be involved with the AFL, as a player or a coach for all 24 years of the league's history.

In fact, Hohensee threw the first touchdown pass in AFL lore back on June 19, 1987, against Washington – a 42-yard pass to wide receiver Russell Hairston -- ans also participated in the first ArenaBowl.

Saturday, February 19, 2011

Holiday scores 10 as sophomores fall to rookies at NBA All-Star weekend

Washington Wizards guard John Wall played like the No. 1 overall draft pick, dishing out a Rookie Challenge-record 22 assists, as the first-year players topped the sophomores, 148-140, at the Los Angeles Convention Center.

James Harden scored 30 and DeJuan Blair contributed 28 and 15 boards for the sophomores. The Sixers' Jrue Holiday finished with 10 points.

Brown returns to Soul

The Philadelphia Soul acquired wide receiver-defensive back Mike Brown from the San Jose SaberCats in exchange for future considerations.

Brown, a 2008 ArenaBowl XXII Champion, is the first former Soul player to return to the city of Philadelphia, where he played for three seasons (2006-08).

“It's great to add a fan favorite and champion to the roster,” said Soul head coach Mike Hohensee.  “Mike [Brown] has always been a play-maker in this league. His experience and leadership will have an immediate impact on our football team.”

Brown recorded 38 tackles, seven assists, eight pass break ups, five interceptions, and two fumble recoveries, along with 60 returns for 1,105 yards and three touchdowns in 11 games during the 2008 championship season.  In his three years with the Soul, Brown amassed 132 tackles, 46 assists, 13 pass break ups, 15 interceptions, two forced fumbles, and five fumble recoveries, along with 140 returns for 2,770 yards and six touchdowns in 38 games.

Aside from his defensive and special teams play, Brown also contributed offensively, adding 89 receptions for 1,054 yards and 13 touchdowns, 38 carries for 103 yards and five touchdowns during his tenure with the Soul.  In 2008 he was the recipient of the Al Lucas Award, for his contributions on the field and in the community, and in 2006 was named to the All-Ironman Team.

Brown has also played for two other AFL teams, the Oklahoma City Yard Dawgz (2010) and the Orlando Predators (2004-05).  Over his six year Arena Football career, Brown has recorded 212 tackles, 84 assists, 22 pass break ups, 19 interceptions, four forced fumbles, and three fumble recoveries.  He has also caught 111 receptions for 1,338 yards and 15 touchdowns, rushed 58 times for 171 yards and 11 touchdowns, and returned 145 kicks for 2,895 yards and six touchdowns.

Brown was a member of the Charleston Swamp Foxes of the af2 for two seasons (2002-03) after playing his junior and senior collegiate years as a Buccaneer.  He played his freshman and sophomore years at Montgomery County Community College (PA) and is a native of Las Vegas, NV.