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Tag:Delonte West
Posted on: May 10, 2011 7:06 pm
Edited on: May 10, 2011 8:04 pm
 

Another tough call for Rivers

MIAMI – In the opening minutes of overtime, in a game the Celtics had to have, Doc Rivers faced a decision he never imagined he’d have to confront.

Badly in need of a basket and unable to afford another turnover from the Heat’s relentless trapping of Rajon Rondo, Rivers had to sit his courageous point guard in the hopes that a healthier Delonte West would handle the ball better and Jeff Green would provide better floor-spacing in the most important minutes of the season.

This was barely a minute-and-a-half into overtime of Game 4 against Miami on Monday night, and it was a problem for which there was no good answer. Take Rondo out? With the inspiration he’d provided and desperation he’d infused into the Celtics after returning from what should’ve been a season-ending dislocated elbow in Game 3? Put the heart and soul of the Celtics on the bench?

“I don’t know what the right call was,” Rivers candidly admitted after the 98-90 overtime loss to Miami, which put the Celtics in a 3-1 hole in the best-of-7 series.

With the Celtics facing elimination Wednesday night in Miami, this was not the last difficult decision Rivers will have to make. However and whenever this series ends, Rivers’ next dilemma will be personal and will affect just what happens to the Big Three era Celtics from here.

Five players remain from the Celtics’ 2008 championship. Rondo’s emergence as one of the top point guards in the league and also a leader with incalculable toughness has since transformed the Big Three into the Big Four. But you can’t mention Rondo, Kevin Garnett, Paul Pierce, and Ray Allen without mentioning the coach who held them all together.

Rivers has stated that he soon plans to take a sabbatical from coaching to watch his son, Austin, play college ball at Duke. It is a father’s dream, to have the freedom and security to enjoy his children’s accomplishments – especially when those accomplishments intersect on the basketball court.

Rivers hasn’t officially proclaimed his intentions, not wanting to become a distraction for a team that he believed had one more championship run in it. Also, Rivers is a basketball coach, not a basketball spectator. It is a hard game to walk away from if it is ingrained in you as it is in Rivers.

But the reality is that the Celtics’ core isn’t getting any younger, and Rivers’ son figures to play one season at Duke before following in his father’s footsteps to the NBA. It’s a now-or-never moment for Rivers, who is needed away from the court in the same way he was needed in Boston to coax enough sacrifice out of his trio of stars to hang a 17th championship banner from the rafters at the new Garden. If Rivers’ legacy as Celtics coach is two Finals appearances and a championship, he can walk away with his head held high.

Pierce has three years left on his contract, while Garnett and Allen have one each. Rivers and the members of his coaching staff are up after this season, and with at least a truncated lockout looming, there could be no basketball work to do until September or so. If you’re Rivers, how do you view the impending labor crisis as it relates to you? Do you chalk up the potentially shortened season to your sabbatical, and get the best of both worlds – some games with your son and one more chance with the Celtics? Or do you walk away and not look back?

Whatever he decides, Rivers must now prepare for more than the diabolical talents of Heat stars Dwyane Wade and LeBron James, who would like nothing better than to slam the window shut on the Celtics’ run of success. He must prepare for some serious soul searching, and for the accompanying speculation that goes with any accomplished coach who steps down with work still to be done.

The Lakers’ Phil Jackson hasn’t even gotten to Montana yet and already the rumor mill has him coaching the Knicks after next season. The hype machine will churn even more vigorously for Rivers, who will be able to name his team and price whenever he decides to come back.

His history with the Knicks makes him a logical fit in New York if Mike D’Antoni doesn’t last beyond next season. His championship pedigree and ability to manage stars and their egos makes him one of the few men breathing who are up to the task of coaching the Lakers. One high-level coaching source told me recently that the most fitting place for Rivers is Orlando, where he lives. In addition to sons Austin and Jeremiah, who played at Georgetown before transferring to Indiana, Rivers has a daughter, Callie, who played volleyball at the University of Florida.

There are plenty of decisions to be made, not the least of which have to do with trying to keep this season alive for the Celtics Wednesday night in an elimination game on the road. But the bigger dilemma is looming on the horizon for Rivers, and it might just have everything to do with whether the Celtics as we know them are finished.
Posted on: January 25, 2010 5:47 pm
Edited on: January 25, 2010 9:40 pm
 

Stern not likely to cut Arenas a break (UPDATE)

Javaris Crittenton’s guilty plea to a misdemeanor charge of unlawful possession of a firearm Monday cleared one of the final hurdles before the David Stern Department of Justice can render its decision.

That is expected to happen, sources said, once investigators and lawyers from the NBA security department speak with Crittenton – that is, if they haven’t already.

The NBA’s collective bargaining agreement requires players facing discipline to cooperate with league investigators once they are out of legal jeopardy. Crittenton’s plea and sentence of one year probation and a $1,000 fine (plus $250 in court costs) cleared the way for him to share his version of the facts with the league.

The proffer of facts presented Monday by prosecutors from the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the District of Columbia revealed that there was “no evidence” Crittenton’s firearm – a 9mm semi-automatic Taurus – was loaded when he pulled it out of his backpack during a dispute with Arenas in the Verizon Center locker room on Dec. 21. Prosecutors also stated: “There also is no evidence that Crittenton ever chambered a round, pulled back the hammer, raised or pointed the firearm, or otherwise brandished the firearm in a threatening manner at any time during this incident.”

The government’s version of events supported earlier statements by Crittenton’s agent, Mark Bartelstein, who had said that his client did not brandish a gun during the argument with Arenas. But does that mean Crittenton – or Arenas, for that matter – will be viewed more favorably by Stern? Most likely not, and here’s why:

The closest precedents for this case are Stephen Jackson’s seven-game suspension for firing a gun into the air outside an Indianapolis strip club in 2006, and two gun-related suspensions assessed to Sebastian Telfair. In 2005, Telfair was suspended two games when a gun was found in his luggage on a team flight, and in 2008 he was suspended three games after getting pulled over with a loaded gun in his car. With the public calling for – and the players association bracing for – a lengthy suspension for Arenas of between 25 games and the rest of the season, how can Stern go there when at least some of the facts acknowledged by prosecutors suggest a tone more consistent with a practical joke than a gun battle? How could Arenas’ suspension stretch many times longer than those given to Jackson and Telfair?

Here’s how: First of all, witnesses who were in the locker room at the time of the incident gave conflicting accounts to the authorities as to whether Crittenton’s gun was loaded. You and I would do the same. How would you know? One source told CBSSports.com that the players present – Randy Foye, Mike Miller, and DeShawn Stevenson – ran out of the locker room when the guns came out. As you might imagine, nobody in his right mind is going to stick around to find out if the guns are loaded. Even under some aspects of the D.C. criminal code, brandishing an unloaded gun carries the same penalty as brandishing a loaded one because potential victims have no way of telling the difference.

Also, Arenas and Crittenton crossed a precedent-setting line that neither Jackson nor Telfair crossed: They brought the guns onto NBA property – i.e., the locker room – and worse than that, they took them out. This, along with Arenas’ decision to mock the seriousness of gun play with his fake-guns display in a pre-game huddle on Jan. 5, set him up for a lengthy ban by Stern. The only factor in Arenas’ favor, in my opinion, is the suspension that is pending for the CavaliersDelonte West, who was pulled over in Maryland last year carrying a loaded arsenal. If Arenas gets 50 games, what does West get? A hundred?

Aside from NBA investigators interviewing Crittenton, one other issue will have to be resolved before this is over. Under the CBA, players who have committed on-court transgressions are eligible to appeal suspensions of longer than 12 games to a grievance arbitrator. In all other cases, Stern is the arbitrator – and you can imagine the success rate of those appeals. After the Palace brawl in 2004, the definition of “on-court” was expanded to include areas like arena hallways (known as vomitories) and the locker room. But a distinction was made to specify violations committed “at, during, or in connection with” an NBA game. Since the Arenas-Crittenton incident occurred on a practice day, it is likely that an arbitrator will have to rule on whether he can hear the appeal before actually ruling on it.

Either way, all signs point to a whopping punishment coming from the commissioner’s office. All things considered, I would recommend that Mr. Arenas and Mr. Crittenton get hobbies.
Posted on: January 1, 2010 1:11 pm
Edited on: January 1, 2010 11:13 pm
 

NBA to probe if guns involved in Arenas dispute

UPDATED THROUGHOUT

The NBA and its players' union will investigate whether a firearms possession probe of Washington Wizards star Gilbert Arenas stemmed from a dispute with teammate Javaris Crittenton, two sources told CBSSports.com Friday.

Once a criminal probe is completed, an investigation by league security will expand after the New York Post and Yahoo! Sports reported Friday that Arenas' possession of firearms in the Verizon Center locker room in the days before Christmas Eve was related to an argument with Crittenton, a high-level source with knowledge of the probe said. The Post reported that the players pulled guns on each other during the argument on a practice day, while Yahoo! reported that the focus of the probe was whether Arenas had accessed his firearms during the argument. 

Details of the confrontation varied widely in subsequent reports Friday. NBA.com reported that the dispute between the players stemmed from a $25,000 debt that Arenas owed Crittenton. The Washington Post, however, quoted someone who has spoken recently with Arenas about the incident who characterized it as "horseplay." The confrontation was over "who had the bigger gun," that person said. Both outlets reported that the disagreement began on the team flight from Phoenix on Dec. 19 and spilled over to a practice day at Verizon Center on Dec. 21.

Arenas denied pulling a gun on anybody, telling Washington Post reporter Michael Lee after practice Friday that he was thinking about suing the New York Post. But when asked by a TV reporter if he had a confrontation with Crittenton, Arenas said, "I don't know." In conversations with various reporters -- and on his Twitter page, which roared to life Friday after weeks of inactivity -- Arenas essentially mocked the controversy. He called the gun-play story "very compelling" and "intriguing," referring to it as "O.K. Corral stuff" and promising that the real story would come out soon. "That's not the real story," he said.

Arenas' father, Gilbert Arenas Sr., told Lee the report was "ludicrous. Gil didn't pull a gun on anybody."

But regardless of the precise details, the only thing that must have seemed ludicrous to Wizards officials was Arenas' nonchalant and borderline irresponsible reaction. Brandishing firearms, even as a joke, could carry serious penalties in the District Columbia, which has some of the toughest gun laws in the nation.

Aside from the criminal ramifications or who's at fault, Arenas has plunged his struggling team into a maelstrom from which it will have difficulty recovering. The Wizards, one of the biggest disappointments in the NBA, are 10-20 with an already fragile locker room that is in no condition to absorb this kind of scrutiny. In fact, one player who spoke to the Washington Post Friday was unnerved by the mere presence of firearms in the locker room, which he said is supposed to be "sacred." David Aldridge, writing for NBA.com, raised the possibility -- albeit remote -- that the incident could give the Wizards cause to attempt to void the rest of the $111 million, six-year contract that Arenas signed in July 2008. The deal has three years and $68 million left after this season. 
 
NBA authorities became aware of the matter in the days before CBSSports.com first reported on Dec. 24 that Arenas was under investigation for possessing firearms in the locker room. The probe initially focused on Arenas as the only team member to have possessed guns on team property, a clear violation of NBA rules.

Wizards officials scheduled a meeting with Washington, D.C., authorities for Dec. 23 to come clean about the matter, given the District's stringent gun-control laws. The meeting couldn't be arranged that day, so the team rescheduled for Dec. 24, several hours before CBSSports.com's story was published online, one of the sources said.

After that report, the Wizards issued a statement saying that Arenas had stored unloaded firearms in a locked container in his locker at Verizon Center, and that the team was cooperating with NBA and legal authorities. Arenas told the Washington Times that he'd brought the guns to the locker room after deciding he no longer wanted them in his home after the birth of his daughter on Dec. 10. He told reporters this week that he'd removed them from his locker only to have them turned over to authorities because he didn't want them anymore.

Washington, D.C., police issued a statement Wednesday saying they were investigating the presence of firearms at Verizon Center, without providing further details. Arenas said this week that authorities inquiring about the matter were mainly interested in whether he had obtained the guns legally. Arenas, 27, has a history of flirting with firearms laws; he was suspended for the 2004-05 season opener after pleading no contest to a misdemeanor charge of failing to maintain proper registration of a firearm in California while with the Warriors in 2003.

Ben Friedman, spokesman for the U.S. Attorney's Office in D.C., told the New York Post that his office was working with D.C. police on the investigation. A call to the public information office of the Metropolitan Police Department was not returned Friday. But a D.C. police official told the Washington Post on condition of anonymity that reports of firearms being brandished in a dispute were news to the authorities and were being added to the criminal investigation. 

Commissioner David Stern, who has not commented publicly on the Arenas investigation, has a history of waiting for the legal process to run its course before issuing penalties -- for fear of compromising investigations by law enforcement. NBA spokesman Tim Frank said Friday that the league is not planning take any disciplinary action until the criminal investigation is completed.

"There is an active investigation by D.C. law enforcement authorities, which we are monitoring closely," Frank said in an emailed statement. "We are not taking any independent action at this time."

A full-fledged probe and penalties from the league office would have to wait until the criminal investigation is closed, since players would be unlikely to speak with league attorneys for fear that those records would be subpoenaed by law enforcement.

In addition to the NBA investigation, which could result in fines and/or suspensions, the NBA Players Association expects to initiate its own probe to ensure that "the facts are investigated and weighed," a second person with knowledge of the situation said Friday. Once it is determined that interviews with the players involved are necessary, the matter would be turned over to NBPA general counsel Gary Hall, a retired federal prosecutor, and director of security Robert Gadson, a retired New York City police detective, the source said.

Billy Hunter, the NBPA's executive director, said he was aware of the reports and was in the process of gathering facts. Wizards spokesman Scott Hall issued a statement reiterating that the team is cooperating with law enforcement and the NBA and will have no further comment.

Wallace Prather, listed in the NBPA directory as Crittenton's agent, said Friday he resigned from representing the player on Dec. 10 and had no knowledge of the allegations against his former client. Crittenton's current agent, Mark Bartelstein, declined to comment. Arenas, who signed a six-year, $111 million contract with the Wizards in July 2008, has no agent listed in the NBPA directory.

NBA rules collectively bargained with the players forbid the possession of firearms on league property or in the course of league business. In 2006, Sebastian Telfair was fined an undisclosed amount after a loaded handgun registered to his girlfriend was found on the team plane at Logan Airport in Boston when Telfair played for the Trail Blazers. Cavaliers guard Delonte West has been indicted on multiple weapons counts in Maryland for riding on his motorcycle Sept. 17 with two loaded handguns, a shotgun, 112 shotgun shells, and an 8.5-inch knife.

If guns are found to have been wielded during a dispute between Arenas and Crittenton, it would be reminiscent of an incident in 2002 during which Warriors player Chris Mills allegedly pulled a gun on the Trail Blazers' team bus after an argument with Bonzi Wells. That incident led to the adoption of the league's zero-tolerance policy regarding guns on team property.

However this turns out, it's time to start wondering when the Wizards' will adopt a zero-tolerance policy for Agent Zero.

Posted on: September 30, 2009 2:07 pm
 

Jameer on Delonte: 'He's in my prayers'

ORLANDO, Fla. -- Jameer Nelson played three years at St. Joseph's with Delonte West, toiling endlessly in practice and forming a strong bond, not to mention a prolific backcourt. Never once did he know or suspect that West was dealing with mood disorders or depression.

"People don’t look at us as having problems because we are professional athletes," Nelson said Wednesday after practicing with the Orlando Magic. "They look at us as the guys that go out there on the basketball court. We have outside life as well, and things can go on in your life that would trigger you to act a certain way. We’re human just like anybody else."

Nelson said he spoke on the phone with West several times during the summer, and nothing seemed wrong.

"He seemed well," Nelson said. "But you can never tell over the phone how somebody is doing."

Now, as West has spiraled into his second day of unexcused exile from the Cleveland Cavaliers' training camp, Nelson's calls have gone unanswered.

"I know he’s going through a lot," Nelson said. "It’s tough on a young man to go through. We all go through things and we handle things differently. I just hope that he gets through it."

Few NBA players can appreciate the depths of West's despair the way Nelson can. Not only are they friends and former teammates,  but Nelson also has endured more than his share of hardship. Only weeks before the start of the 2007-08 season, Nelson's father, Floyd, died accidentally while working as a welder for a tugboat company on the Delaware River. He was 57. Nelson suffered through his pain and grief while trying to do his job as a professional basketball player. And so he wants to be there for West, when his former teammate is ready.

"He's in my prayers," Nelson said. "I know this about Delonte: He’s a strong person and he's a great person. I don’t want anybody to think because of what’s going on and what happened to him that he’s a bad person. He’s a great person, and people need to understand that."
 
 
 
 
The views expressed in this blog are solely those of the author and do not reflect the views of CBS Sports or CBSSports.com