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Tag:Ben Golliver
Posted on: February 24, 2012 10:29 pm
Edited on: February 25, 2012 12:05 am
 

Reports: Buyer for Hornets finally emerges

The Hornets might have an owner. Great timing. Only been a year and a half. (Getty Images)

Posted by Ben Golliver   

NBA commissioner David Stern has been hinting for some time that the league-owned New Orleans Hornets have a buyer. On Friday, a name finally emerged.

The New Orleans Times-Picayune reports that a group led by a California businessman could pay up to $340 million for the franchise, while agreeing to keep it in New Orleans for the foreseeable future.

A group led by Los Angeles-area businessman Raj Bhathal, who founded one of the country’s leading swimwear manufacturing companies, has emerged as a top candidate to purchase the New Orleans Hornets from the NBA, sources said Thursday. The group includes Larry J. Benson, brother of Saints owner Tom Benson and former NBA coach Mike Dunleavy.

Bhathal, 72, and Larry Benson, 66, each once owned franchises in the now defunct World League of American Football, a spring league venture initiated and funded by the NFL in 1990. Bhathal owned the franchise in Orlando, Fla., while Benson owned the team in San Antonio, his home base.

ABC26.com also reported that a Hornets sale is pending and provided an estimated sale price, although they did not reveal details of the ownership group.

Although there is no word yet from the state, city, NBA, or new ownership, the New Orleans Hornets, owned by the NBA, will be sold within the next 10 days to 2 weeks to an out-of-town owner. 

The new out-of-town owner will pony up $340 million for the team. 

The sale price would reflect a $20 million increase over the $320 million that the NBA reportedly paid to purchase the Hornets from the league, according to the Orange County Business Journal

The paper provides some background on Bhathal's business as well.

Raj Manufacturing makes and sells swimsuits under its own brands and through licenses with Irvine-based St. John Knits International Inc., Guess Inc. of Los Angeles and New York-based PVH Corp.’s Tommy Hilfiger Group, among others.

Bhathal started Raj Manufacturing with his wife Marta more than 40 years ago. Both sold their stakes in the company to their children, Lisa Vogel and Alex Bhathal, in 2007. The siblings run Raj Manufacturing as co-presidents. Raj Manufacturing has $130 million in annual sales, according to a Business Journal estimate.

Stern has maintained since the league took over the Hornets that the league was not interested in buyers who wanted to relocate the franchise.

The league's ownership of the Hornets has drawn plenty of criticism, including from the likes of former Los Angeles Lakers coach Phil Jackson and Dallas Mavericks owner Mark Cuban, and it sparked a major controversy in December when Stern reportedly vetoed a 3-way trade that would have sent All-Star point guard Chris Paul to the Lakers. Paul was later traded to the Los Angeles Clippers.

Stern is scheduled to speak to the media on Saturday night during his annual All-Star press conference. Surely the Hornets sale will be a hot topic.

Hat tip: HoopsHype.com
Posted on: February 24, 2012 9:15 pm
 

Kia car dunks over Blake Griffin video

Posted by Ben Golliver   

One year later: revenge of the machine.

Los Angeles Clippers All-Star forward Blake Griffin catapulted over a Kia and caught an alley-oop pass to win the 2011 NBA Slam Dunk Contest. On the eve of the 2012 Slam Dunk Contest, Kia and FunnyOrDie.com have teamed up to produce a video riffing on the famous dunk by flipping it on its head.

This time, Griffin is the prop for the car to dunk over. 

"What's crazier than dunking on a Kia Optima? Having it dunk over me," Griffin says as the video opens. "I looked into it and it's entirely possible."

The video then cuts to a so-called "Dunkologist" and a team of scientists who designed a ramp for the car to launch over Griffin with a basketball attached to its bumper. Bla bla bla, the plan doesn't work out and we all slap our thighs in amusement (feigned or otherwise). 

Here's the video of Blake Griffin getting dunked on by a Kia via YouTube user KiaMotorsAmerica.



Hat tip: @TrueHoop
Posted on: February 24, 2012 8:14 pm
Edited on: February 24, 2012 9:09 pm
 

Jeremy Lin: Bias provides 'chip on shoulder'

Posted by Ben Golliver   

Jeremy Lin discussed the bias he faced from talent evaluators during All-Star Weekend (Getty Images)

ORLANDO -- Jeremy Lin knows exactly how much he was overlooked.

"I think ESPN had me as the 467th best player out of 500 or something like that coming into the season," Lin said, speaking in front of a standing room at Amway Center on Friday night.

Lin, a Taiwanese-American, said that he believes that a biased perception of Asian-American athletes was a contributing factor in his being underrated by NBA talent evaluators during the last few years.

"I think it has something to do with it," Lin, who was undrafted out of Harvard in 2010 and cut by both the Golden State Warriors and Houston Rockets this season, said. "I don't know how much. But I think just being Asian-American, obviously when you look at me, I'm going to have to prove myself more so again and again and again, and some people may not believe it."

Preconceived notions about his race, Lin said, choosing his words carefully, might even have influenced the language used to describe his skillset.

"I know a lot of people say I'm deceptively athletic and deceptively quick, and I'm not sure what's 'deceptive.' But it could be the fact that I'm Asian-American. But I think that's fine. It's something that I embrace, and it gives me a chip on my shoulder." 

The media contingent began arriveing more than a half-hour before Lin's press conference, which was televised live on NBA TV. Unlike the other participants in the Rising Stars Challenge game, Lin did not conduct interviews following Friday morning's practice. Instead, he filled 10 rows of chairs in Orlando Magic coach Stan Van Gundy's Amway Center press conference room, with reporters hugging both walls as well. Eventually, the doors were closed and media members were turned away due to a lack of space.

Lin went on to state that the doubts about his abilities continued into his tenure with the New York Knicks, where he has become a breakout star since moving into the starting point guard role. He confirmed reports that he had attended a group chapel service with a number of fellow NBA players and admitted that he had prayed that he wouldn't be released before cut day, as his contract was not yet guaranteed.

"I went to chapel with Jerome Jordan and Landry Fields and the chaplain asked us to share a prayer request," Lin remembered. "I knew February 10th was right around the corner, so that was what was on my heart. Just that I would be able to continue to stay on the roster and be with the team the rest of the year. So that's kind of what I shared with the group of guys."

The prayer, he said, was the result of feeling as if getting released would put him at a crossroads.

"I really didn't have a Plan B to be honest... I was thinking about three main options: overseas, D-League or to just take a break or give up basketball for awhile. And I just didn't really know. I was just trying not to think about it basically. I just said, if I get cut by the Knicks, then I'll take a look at all that, but until then, I want to make sure I try to stay focused and not think negatively.

That prayer session probably feels like years ago to Lin, who currently ranks in the top-20 in player efficiency in the NBA. Nevertheless, his frugal lifestyle remains the same.

"I'm still a minimum guy," he said quickly when asked if he had "splurged" on anything recently. "That hasn't changed."
Posted on: February 24, 2012 7:54 pm
Edited on: February 24, 2012 8:04 pm
 

Jeremy Lin explains Slam Dunk Contest couch plan

Iman Shumpert and Jeremy Lin's dunk would have involved a couch, Landry Fields and Sprite. (Getty Images)
Posted by Ben Golliver   

ORLANDO -- Blake Griffin's dunk-over-the-Kia will remain the corniest Slam Dunk Contest concept for at least another year.

New York Knicks guard Iman Shumpert was a late scratch due to injury, and Shumpert's departure prevented Knicks guard Jeremy Lin from taking the Slam Dunk Contest to a whole new level of ridiculousness. 

Lin, a 23-year-old Taiwanese-American, has become a global sensation over the last few weeks. He barely avoided getting released by the Knicks before emerging as a big-time player once he moved into a starting role in February. The symbol of Lin's rags-to-riches journey became a couch, as he was reportedly crashing on the living room furniture of his teammate, Landry Fields, and his brother because he didn't want to rent his own place in Manhattan with his future unknown.

Word leaked earlier this week that the Knicks guard duo planned to incorporate Lin and a couch into their 2012 Slam Dunk Contest routine.

Lin laid out the whole plan in detail during a Friday press conference prior to the Rising Stars Challenge.

"We actually had a sweet idea," Lin explained. "Landry was going to roll a couch out with a cover over it, I was going to be sleeping underneath it, and then we were going to pull the cover, I was going to throw Iman an alley-oop from the couch, and he was going to jump over both me and the couch, windmill it and then sit down and have Landry hand him a Sprite. That was our idea, but it didn't happen."

Shumpert scratched last week due to a sore knee, and he was replaced by Utah Jazz forward Jeremy Evans. Shumpert will also sit out the Rising Stars Challenge.

"He got hurt and hopefully he gets better," Lin said. "We miss him and wish he was here with us in this game that we're about to play."
Posted on: February 24, 2012 2:48 pm
Edited on: February 24, 2012 3:03 pm
 

Dwight Howard dodges trade talk, hides behind Lin

Posted by Ben Golliver  
Magic center Dwight Howard faced a huge media crowd on All-Star Friday. (Sergio Gonzalez)

ORLANDO -- Dwight Howard did his best to dodge the trade talk, but when the questions kept coming, he took cover behind the only NBA story bigger than his future with the Orlando Magic: Linsanity.

"The situation right now is All-Star Weekend," Howard said, when asked for the latest on impending free agency and trade demand. "That's the only thing that matters right now. This is the moment -- this is All-Star Weekend. We're going to have fun and we're going to enjoy ourselves. All that stuff can go on after All-Star Weekend."

Howard drew by far the largest media crowd on All-Star Friday, with more than a dozen cameras and dozens of reporters crowded together to hear the latest updates regarding his happiness with the city, his relationship with the city's fans, and everything else. Sizing up the scene, New York Knicks forward Carmelo Anthony, who dealt with the media's obsessesion with "Melodrama" during the 2011 All-Star Weekend, shook his head and shouted to Howard, "Thanks."

The questions kept coming, and, after picking Jeremy Evans to win the Slam Dunk Contest and teammate Ryan Anderson to win the Three-Point Contest, Howard didn't wait very long to pull out his ace card.

"Right now, my focus is on having a great time and being a great host with all these great players around us. This is Jeremy Lin's first All-Star. I'm going to make sure I get with him and have some fun with Jeremy Lin."

The tactic worked fairly well, as the floodgate of Lin inquiries opened wide. The NBA's reigning Defensive Player of the Year said that he's been impressed with the play of the Knicks' sensational guard, but made it clear he is relishing the opportunity to bring him back down to Eath.

"I think it's one of the best stories... It's crazy," Howard said. "He's all over the place. Every time you turn on the TV it's something about Lin, which is great. I'm happy for him. He's been playing great basketball. The Knicks are winning so a lot of people are happy. He hasn't went up against the Great Wall of Orlando yet. We'll see what happens then."

Despite Howard's best efforts, the questions kept popping back up, although the scene was more conversational than confrontational as Howard played the "host" card, talked up the Magic's playoff chances, and complimented Magic fans many times. Howard said the Magic have "an opportunity just like every other team in the NBA to win a championship" and pointed out that Orlando has the NBA's fifth best record. 

"I don't care about none of the other stuff that's being said," Howard repeated. "We're going to have fun this weekend. We're going to show everybody our city. All the other stuff can wait."

Asked again about his contract situation, Howard put down his fist. "We're not going to talk about it."

Howard appeared relaxed, but tired, and said he was operating on three hours of sleep. He noted that he's hosting parties in Orlando all weekend long and joked to one reporter that he didn't meet the appropriate height requirement to be invited and that he looked like a character from Jersey Shore.

The joking was a bit off-key and not met with the hearty laughs that the charismatic Howard often receives. Perhaps the subtext of tension between Howard and the media that has covered him like a blanket this season was trickling in. Howard made a point of mentioning that media accounts of a stressed relationship with Magic fans are not representative of his day-to-day interactions around Orlando, which he also referred to as "my city."

"A lot of the fans here are just, 'Whatever you decide to do we're behind you 100 percent.' They've been great despite what people may say or think. The fans here have always been great to me. I really appreciate it. They've shown me nothing but love since day one. I've done the same thing. The city means a lot to me."

Those comments probably make fans in Cleveland cringe, after hearing a similar refrain from LeBron James before he left to team up with fellow All-Stars Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh on the Miami Heat during the Summer of 2010. Howard didn't totally distance himself from James, who was seated nearby with less than half of the media attention that Howard received. 

"LeBron did it his way, he did what was best for him," Howard concluded. "I will do what's best for Dwight."
Posted on: February 24, 2012 10:00 am
Edited on: February 24, 2012 1:55 pm
 

Colangelo: Lin to be considered for USA Select

Team USA head Jerry Colangelo says they will consider Lin for USA Select. (Getty Images)

Posted by Ben Golliver  

ORLANDO -- Could Jeremy Lin's overnight success story wind up landing him a future spot with Team USA?

It's possible, according to USA Basketball Chairman Jerry Colangelo, who told reporters at an All-Star Weekend press conference that the New York Knicks guard will be given consideration for USA Basketball's Select Team, a player pool used to cultivate potential Team USA members. 

"We'll look at him as well as anyone else who is doing the job," Colangelo said. "If we think they are worthy of being invited we'll bring them in to Las Vegas to do just that."

Colangelo said that "a list of names" was being formed and that Lin was "off to this great start" for the Knicks.

"Everyone has to pay their dues," Colangelo said. "We told players if you join us I promise you we are going to be successful but you have to do it our way. Those who participate earn equity in our program… There's a lot of players who want to play, who are paying their dues with the select team, who have participated with us over the last six years. No exceptions."

Team USA is stacked with point guard talent, with Chris Paul, Derrick Rose and Deron Williams expected to represent USA at the 2012 London Olympics. Asked if Lin's skillset was a fit with what Team USA looks for from its floor generals, Colangelo withheld judgment, but said that Lin is in an ideal spot with the Knicks, playing for Team USA assistant coach Mike D'Antoni.

"It's too early," he said. "I wouldn't even make a judgment like that. I would say, I believe that he's in the right situation to do well in New York. The way Mike D'Antoni plays offense. It's the extended dribble. In a different kind of configuration like the triangle I think it would be more challenging for him, not that he couldn't do it. I just think we just have to appreciate what he's done so far. Period. Commend him for what he's done. It's a great story." 

Lin, a 23-year-old Taiwanese-American from California, went undrafted out of Harvard. His rise to NBA prominence seems to embody the spirit of dues paying that Team USA has tried to cultivate in recent years.

"I think it's wonderful," Colangelo said. "I love that. The whole story is great. First of all, think about the impact he is having and would have if this continues on the average guy, the average player. Hope. It doesn't get any better than that."
Posted on: February 24, 2012 8:38 am
 

All-Star Experience, Friday Availability and Chat

Join us here for all your NBA All-Star Weekend news and notes. We'll have live updates from our team on the ground to bring you what the players and coaches are saying at all the events, along with video and audio to bring you as close to the action as it gets. On tap for Friday: 

10:20 a.m. EST:  Rookies and Sophomores
12:30 p.m. EST: NBA All-Star Game and NBA All-Star Saturday night participants
7:00 p.m. EST: BBVA Rising Stars Challenge (TNT)

Join us to chat about all the goings on, including Dwight Howard answering questions at media availability.

 
Posted on: February 23, 2012 9:22 pm
Edited on: February 23, 2012 9:29 pm
 

David Stern: 'Linsanity' unprecedented in sports

Posted by Ben Golliver  
David Stern says "Linsanity" is unlike anything sports has ever seen. (Getty Images)

NBA commissioner David Stern was in Orlando on Thursday night, getting ready for Sunday's All-Star Game. Of course, all he could talk about was the only player anyone wants to talk about these days: New York Knicks guard Jeremy Lin.

Hours before Lin took the court against the Heat, a few hundred miles South down I-95 in Miami, Stern told reporters that Lin's instant popularity hasn't ever been matched in sports history, not even by Sunday's biggest names, LeBron James or Kobe Bryant.

The Associated Press had the details.
"I haven't done a computation, but it's fair to say that no player has created the interest and the frenzy in this short period of time, in any sport, that I'm aware of like Jeremy Lin has," Stern said Thursday.

Lin, an undrafted guard from Harvard, has become the NBA's biggest story since coming off the Knicks' bench earlier this month to lead them to nine wins in 11 games heading into their matchup with Miami on Thursday night.

With Lin's popularity in Asia as the league's first American-born player of Chinese or Taiwanese descent, and with the religious community because of his strong Christian faith, Stern says he's "never quite seen anything like" the attention on Lin.

"It's fascinating," Stern said after the All-Star Jam Session opening ceremonies.

The top five videos on NBA.com since Feb. 4, when Lin joined the rotation, are all Lin or Knicks related. Lin went from 190,000 followers on Sina, China's version of Twitter, on Feb. 2 to more than 1 million as of Feb. 16.

Indeed, Lin's popularity is so out of this world that the NBA made a late roster switch to ensure his participation in the Rising Stars Challenge on All-Star Saturday, a game that includes the NBA's best rookies and sophomores. Lin is in such high demand that all of the game's other participants will meet with the media following a team practice on Friday while Lin will have his own, separate press conference later in the night. 

This is Jeremy's world, folks. We're all just living in it. Even David Stern and the rest of the league's All-Stars, at least for the moment. 
 
 
 
 
The views expressed in this blog are solely those of the author and do not reflect the views of CBS Sports or CBSSports.com