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Posted on: January 13, 2010 4:06 pm
Edited on: January 13, 2010 4:58 pm

Dalembert awaits news from devastated homeland

As the horrifying images are transmitted home from his native Haiti, a piece of Samuel Dalembert’s heart breaks. The people of Haiti are resilient, he says. But even the most optimistic part of his soul, beneath the deep voice and accent, can’t help but wonder how much one country can take.

A native of Port-au-Prince, which has been leveled by a massive earthquake that has relief officials fearing more than 100,000 dead, Dalembert spent much of his time Wednesday waiting for his cell phone to ring. It does, but none of the calls originate from his impoverished homeland.

“I am just waiting,” the Philadelphia 76ers center said in a phone interview Wednesday. “Just waiting.”

Five hours after the magnitude 7.0 quake hit Tuesday, Dalembert received word from his aunt. Good news; bittersweet and yet blissfully good news. His father, 16-year-old sister, and 15-year-old brother had survived the quake. His father, a government worker there, had emailed Dalembert's aunt to say that he and his children had survived.

But all Dalembert can do is wait helplessly for word from the families and friends he grew up with. All he can do is raise awareness through the Samuel Dalembert Foundation and let people know they can donate to relief efforts through his site and through UNICEF. With Olden Polynice, Dalembert is believed to be only the second player born in Haiti to play in the NBA.

“They can contribute to whatever charity they feel comfortable, and most importantly, keep everybody in your prayers,” Dalembert said. “Hopefully, we can do something.”

Aside from those killed or trapped in the disaster, the next challenge is the massive humanitarian crisis that looms as relief organizations and world governments try to get food, water, and medical supplies to the impoverished country. This after a series of hurricanes and storms have repeatedly devastated Haiti in recent years, leaving a country where more than half the citizens live in abject poverty reeling even more.

“They have too much resilience sometimes,” Dalembert said. “It can be our downfall. We’re a lovable people. We always make fun of bad situations, we live through tough times and we always have hope that we get out of it. That’s the kind of people we are. We fought our independence for over 200 years. We’re hard-working people, too, but there’s no opportunity for us to move forward. We make the best of things.”

Now, Haiti must try to endure what officials are calling the strongest earthquake to hit the region in 200 years. The facts about Haiti’s cruel fate can be found right there on Dalembert’s web site: Approximately 80 percent of Haitians are unemployed, there is one hospital for every 100,000 people, and about 280,000 people there are living with HIV/AIDS.

Now this crisis surely will eclipse the country’s already tragic record of natural disasters that includes Hurricane Jeanne in 2004 (about 3,000 dead), Hurricane Gordon in 1994 (more than 1,000 dead), and Hurricane Flora in 1963 (more than 8,000 dead).

“It’s just chaotic over there,” Dalembert said. “I can’t imagine what the people are going through. I can’t imagine that.”
Category: NBA
Posted on: December 2, 2009 11:21 am

Iverson back, but not in control

With Ron Artest admitting in the Sporting News that he used to drink Hennessy at halftime, I'm having a hard time focusing my thoughts on Allen Iverson signing with the Sixers. But here goes.

This was a bad idea, clearly driven by business interests, not basketball sense. I think I made that pretty clear in this column.

But ...

If it has to be done, this is the way to do it. By offering Iverson a non-guaranteed deal, the Sixers take away the hammer that A.I. wielded for a decade in Philadelphia. They put the control where it belongs -- in the hands of head coach Eddie Jordan -- and take it away from Iverson. Well played by team president Ed Stefanski.

If Iverson steps out of line, tries to exert his influence on the coach, barks about playing time, or disrupts the culture Jordan is trying to build in any way, he's gone -- with no further financial obligation to the team.

The ball is in A.I.'s court, and not in the way it used to be.

With no other teams expressing interest in taking the plunge with Iverson, the Sixers forced his hand. They forced him to live up to all the promises he made in their two-hour meeting Monday. Now, for the first time in his career, he has to walk the walk. If he really doesn't care about the money or the control, the Sixers have told him to go ahead and prove it.

This part, I like -- as stated here with Lauren Shehadi.

Does Iverson still have enough left in the tank to make a difference for the 5-13 Sixers? That will be the fun part to watch. What will be even more interesting to see is whether Iverson can recognize that he can't be the dominant, 40-plus-minute force that he was in his prime. And if that's the case, how will he respond?

Given the circumstances, there's only one right Answer. Let the drama begin.

Category: NBA
Posted on: December 1, 2009 8:56 pm
Edited on: December 1, 2009 9:17 pm

Iverson answer expected Wednesday

Allen Iverson's answer to the 76ers' offer of a one-year contract is expected as soon as Wednesday, with early indications that his desire to return to Philadelphia and prove his critics wrong will outweigh any hard feelings over the non-guaranteed offer.

A non-guaranteed deal, prorated at the veteran's minimum for the balance of the season, is the best Iverson, 34, is likely to do. But even with a chance to return to the city that he transcended for a decade, it's possible that Iverson will be offended by an offer that isn't guaranteed. As a Hall of Fame-caliber player who gave the organization maximum effort when he was on the court, the lack of commitment could rankle him. The word "disrespect" comes to mind.

"Tomorrow is D-Day," one person familiar with the discussions told

But based on the mood in Monday's meeting between Iverson and the Sixers' brass in Dallas, there were no indications that Iverson would turn down a non-guaranteed deal -- only that he badly wanted to return to Philly and show his critics that he can still perform at a high level. Regardless of Iverson's view of the past, future, and his own value, a non-guaranteed contract is the only way the Sixers can protect themselves against the strong possibility that Iverson once again would exert his outsized influence. If Iverson refuses to accept a demotion to the bench once Lou Williams returns from injury, or if he causes problems of any kind that disrupt coach Eddie Jordan's control of the team, the Sixers can waive him with no financial consequences.

Iverson also may want to consider that he's playing with house money, given that he walked away from Memphis with about $400,000 of the $3.1 million, one-year deal he signed after appearing in only three games. With a non-guaranteed deal, Iverson must follow through on all the right things he said to Memphis management, and now Sixers management, or his career will effectively be over.

If this reunion must occur, this is the only sensible way to do it. Everyone is held accountable, which right from the tip will be something new given Iverson's history with the Sixers. And it gives Iverson the chance to thumb his nose at the critics one last time, putting his non-guarantee where his mouth is and proving that he only cares about playing the game. That's the challenge, if he's willing to accept it.

Category: NBA
Posted on: November 28, 2009 11:51 am
Edited on: November 28, 2009 5:18 pm

Change of heart: Iverson reaches out to Sixers

Allen Iverson has reached out to the Philadelphia 76ers about a possible reunion with the team that launched his iconic and controversial career, a person with knowledge of the situation confirmed to on Saturday.

The person, who is familiar with the Sixers’ plans but not authorized to comment on them, said Iverson’s name is one of several that has been under internal consideration since starting point guard Lou Williams suffered a broken jaw that will keep him out about eight weeks. But a decision about whether to accept Iverson’s offer to shelve his retirement plans and return to Philly is complicated and will likely take several days to unfold. The person familiar with the team’s plans estimated the chances of Iverson returning to Philly at “50-50.”

UPDATE: A second source with knowledge of the team's internal discussions said Iverson's name came up in organizational meetings Friday, but only after it was learned that Williams would miss up to two months. No meetings with Iverson or his representatives have been scheduled, the person said. 

While some members of the organization recognize that Iverson’s play-making ability could be an asset for a team that is 21st in the league with a 96.9 scoring average, others recall the ugliness of Iverson’s departure when he demanded – and received – a trade in December 2006. Since then, Iverson’s resume consists of a mostly positive experience in Denver and two stormy exits – from Detroit, where he was not willing to accept a bench role, and from Memphis, where he played only three games before leaving the team amid persistent rants about his role. Iverson’s contentious departure from Philly, his history with the team, his desire to dominate the ball, and how his role would be defined will all factor into the team’s decision, the source said.

Iverson’s camp felt an offer from the Knicks was a “done deal” last week, according to another source, which contributed to his willingness to leave Memphis with only about $400,000 of the $3.1 million contract he signed over the summer. But the Knicks had an 11th-hour change of heart, deciding on Nov. 20 that Iverson’s dominant personality was not the answer for a rebuilding team.

So on Wednesday, Iverson, 34, announced his intentions to retire from the NBA in a statement published on Stephen A. Smith’s personal web site. On Saturday, Smith wrote on his own site and for that the Sixers had all but decided to re-sign the future Hall of Famer. The Sixers were leaving Saturday for San Antonio, where they begin a four-game road trip Sunday against the Spurs. If coach Eddie Jordan and team president Ed Stefanski decide to pursue Iverson, it is believed that Jordan will meet with the 2000-01 league MVP to discuss his potential role.

In his retirement statement, Iverson made a point of saying he still had "tremendous love for the game, the desire to play, and a whole lot left in my tank. I feel strongly that I can still compete at the highest level." His rapid about-face on stepping away from the game to "spend quality time with my wife and kids" has NBA front office officials just as dubious about his intention to return as they were about his plans to retire.

Iverson and the Sixers getting back together makes sense only in the way that remarrying a divorced spouse makes sense. You know each other all too well -- the good, the bad, and the ugly. And it would appear that the Sixers are Iverson's only chance to continue his career, barring the desperation factor that could emerge with major backcourt injuries elsewhere. When Iverson was shopping his services during the summer, only the Grizzlies showed serious interest. Once that situation flamed out in spectacular fashion, not even the dysfunctional Knicks were willing to take the plunge.

A.I.'s first tour of duty with the Sixers included a little bit of everything -- four scoring titles, two All-Star MVPs, a Finals appearance, and countless clashes with coaches, many of whom wound up getting fired at Iverson's behest. Now, the organization that Iverson defined and overshadowed for so many years is at a crossroads. What's more important? Ticket sales and a short-term boost in excitement? Or the long-term plan to rebuild the right way under Stefanski and Jordan?

One way or another, the Sixers still can't seem to emerge from Iverson's shadow.

Category: NBA
Posted on: July 24, 2009 5:28 pm

Miller, Blazers finalizing deal

After failing in their pursuit of free agents Hedo Turkoglu and Paul Millsap, the Portland Trail Blazers are closing in on point guard Andre Miller.

Miller, 33, is on the verge of agreeing to a two-year deal worth slightly more than the $5.9 million mid-level exception annually with a team option for a third year, a person with knowledge of the negotiations said.

The Sixers, whose youth movement Miller helped stabilize, decided early in the free-agent negotiating period that they were content to move forward with Lou Williams starting at point guard and first-round pick Jrue Holiday backing him up. Despite their emphasis on upgrading the point-guard position, the Blazers initially prioritized their pursuit of Turkoglu and Millsap -- in part because, like the Sixers, they were concerned about overpaying an aging point guard with a suspect shot. When Turkoglu reneged on a verbal agreement to sign with Portland and the Jazz matched the Blazers' offer sheet for Millsap, a restricted free agent, Portland officials circled back to Miller, who had also attracted interest from the Knicks on a short-term, cap-friendly deal.

Devoting a little more than $6 million in 2009-10 cap space to Miller leaves the Blazers with about $1-$3 million to spend this summer. The short-term deal also does not jeopardize Portland's plans to re-sign Brandon Roy and LaMarcus Aldridge to extensions as early as next summer.

With Miller off the board, the Knicks likely will turn their attention to Bucks restricted free agent Ramon Sessions. While it is accurate that the Bucks may not match a lucrative offer sheet for Sessions as they try to rein in payroll, the Knicks are not likely to make a prohibitive offer because they are determined to preserve precious 2010-11 cap space for their pursuit of LeBron James or another high-end free agent. The Bucks, however, appear ready to move on with first-round pick Brandon Jennings as their starting point guard.

The views expressed in this blog are solely those of the author and do not reflect the views of CBS Sports or