Former Atlanta Hawks star, Dominique Wilkins, spoke yesterday at the kick off event for a new diabetes pilot program. Wilkins has diabetes and has supported a number of health and fitness programs. The new program, “Get a Jump on Diabetes” is the first of its kind and will serve as a pilot for others around the nation. The idea is to use small preventions to prevent the disease from progressing: 200 overweight, pre-diabetic senior citizens will be given free access to YMCAs, classroom training, and a life coach. For more, see the full story here.
A few bits and pieces from around the NBA and Hawks news:
- Jason Walker from SB Nation snarkily responds to the question of why the Hawks should/should not be contracted
- A look at the how former players fare in coaching stints from the Hawks official website
- Pictures from the Hawks’ 4-on-4 media tournament
- A look at alternative lockout jobs for NBA players – leave us a comment!
Well, there’s not a whole lot going on by way of Hawks news, but Atlanta’s other pro team is going alright for itself. The Atlanta Dream beat the Indiana Fever 94-77 in Game 2 of the WNBA Eastern Conference Finals. Iziane Castro Marques led the team with 30 points and also contributed 5 rebounds, 3 assists and 1 steal. Castro Marques was replacing her teammate Erika de Souza who had left to play in an Olympics qualifying tournament with the Brazilian national team. It was a career night for Castro Marques in her replacement role. During the regular season, she had averaged only 7.6 points per game and never scored more than 19.
“I was just very focused today,” Castro Marques said. “I knew the importance to step into the lineup. Once I made a couple of shots, I kept going. I thought ‘This is my night.’”
The series is now tied at 1-1. Game 3 will take place on Tuesday at Conseco Fieldhouse in Indianapolis at 8 PM EST.
The NBA has cancelled the 43 preseason games between Oct. 9 to Oct. 15 and postponed training camps indefinitely. Camps had been set to begin on Oct. 3, but the league failed to reach a new labor agreement with players after meeting yesterday. The two sides met yesterday in an effort to negotiate a new collective bargaining agreement. Today marks the 85th day of the lockout which began on July 1. No decisions about the regular season, which is set to begin on Nov. 1, have been made.
The City of Renton will present Hawks guard, Jamal Crawford, with a key to the city and dedicate the recently renovated Liberty Park basketball courts to him. Crawford attended Ranier Beach High in Renton, Wa., and used to play at the courts frequently during his time there. His foundation, the Jamal Crawford Foundation, funded significant improvements to the courts. A dedication and community celebration ceremony is scheduled for this Saturday. Renton mayor, Denis Law, along with other community leaders will be in attendance. For more information, see this release.
Finding the right words and shooting off his mouth has never been much of a problem for Shaq. And ever since he retired and announced his move to the broadcast side of things, the flow is even freer.
In a statement yesterday, O’Neill said the owners were partly to blame for the very financial problems they complain about and harped on Joe Johnson’s contract in particular:
“I love Joe Johnson and I hope he doesn’t get mad with me, but he’s not a $20 million a year guy,” O’Neal said. “Business-wise, Atlanta isn’t making that much money. But if you are going to offer a kid a lot of money, he’s going to take it. I think we need a system that protect the owners from each other.”
I don’t think anyone would disagree with O’Neill on that one as Johnson has become the quintessential player to exemplify an ill-deserved max contract deal. It was this deal, after all, that led to the departure of former Atlanta Spirit Group member, Steve Belkin from the group.
Representatives for the owners, players and the two sides’ lawyers will meet on the lockout today in New York according to sources close to the league.
Eldridge Recasner, a former guard for the Hawks, was named assistant coach for the Sioux Falls Skyforce in the D-League last Thursday. Recasner played for the Hawks from 1996-1998 and had the most productive season of his 7-year career with the team in the 1997-98 season (9.3 points, 2.4 rebounds per game).
The Skyforce play in Sioux Falls, South Dakota and have been a part of the D-League since 2006. Their NBA affiliates include the Miami Heat, Minnesota Timberwolves and Orlando Magic.
Recasner said he is excited to be a part of the Skyforce coaching staff and hopes it will help him achieve his goal of coaching in the NBA one day:
“I would like to eventually coach in the NBA and I can’t think of a better organization to work for in order to reach that goal,” he said.
Juan Carlos Navarro scored 27 points in Spain’s victory over France, 98-85, yesterday in the Eurobasket championship game. Navarro was also the tournament’s MVP.
Serge Ibaka of the Thunder gained Spanish citizenship status just in time in July to add 5 blocks in a 5-minute span. For him, it was a dream come true:
“This was my destiny and I have achieved my dream,” Ibaka said. “I knew that we were going to win because we have a great team. It is my first year with the team and look! Yes sir, five blocks, that’s right man.”
The Lakers’ Pau Gasol added a double-double of his own with 17 points and 10 rebounds.
Both Spain and France qualified for the Summer Olympic Games in London in 2012 with their tournament performance. They join Argentina and Brazil who also qualified earlier this month after the FIBA Americas tournament.
Even if the players’ union and owners can’t agree on anything, there are still some deals being made in the NBA. The league and referees inked a new five-year deal on Thursday preventing two lockouts in the NBA.
Lee Seham, general counsel of the National Basketball Referees Association, stated:
“We did not get everything we wanted, but given the current economic climate and the continuing players’ lockout, we are satisfied that this deal was in the best interests of our members.”
The new deal reverts back to the five-year structure that are typical for the referees. The previous contract, signed in 2009, covered only a two-year period and was used as a stop-gap measure. When the original contract expired on September 1, 2009, referees were locked out. The league decided to use replacement refs from the WNBA and Developmental League for pre-season games. Not surprisingly, that didn’t go over so well with players and owners. A new, short-term deal was reached on October 23, 2009, but only covered a two-year span. The hope was that a new contract would be reached quickly when the economy improved.
The terms of the contract signed this past Thursday were not disclosed.
The L.A. Times recently did a great profile on the Hawks’ new owner, Alex Meruelo. Here are a few bits and pieces from it:
Meruelo always loved playing basketball but didn’t quite have the right skill set. His dad convinced him to quit basketball and help run the family tuxedo business. Now he combines both his entrepreneurial spirit and love of the sport…
“Thirty-two years later, Meruelo stands before the cameras in a suit and tie, trying to stay calm as he is introduced to a group of reporters in Atlanta. He doesn’t like news conferences. The bright lights make him uneasy, and his emotions soon take over. ‘I never lost the burning desire to be part of the NBA,’ he says, eyes glinting with tears.”
…and does so with “calculated risk”…
“‘He’s opportunistic,’ says Bert Ellis, owner of KDOC-TV, who has bid against him in broadcast deals. Ellis calls Meruelo ‘very sharp, aggressive and shrewd.’ The Hawks represent his biggest gamble yet, a team that has fared well on court but is struggling financially. ‘You’re taking a calculated risk,’ Meruelo says. ‘You never know the outcome until it happens.’
‘He’s a maverick-type,’ says Julio Rumbaut, a media advisor who follows the broadcast industry. ‘The fact he has a good track record while being a first-generation American makes it even more impressive.’
…and a bit of Cuban flair:
“Meruelo is given to impatience, as evidenced by more than a dozen traffic tickets that include speeding and improper use of the carpool lane. He can be loud, gesturing with his hands when he talks. ’I'm Cuban,’ he says, by way of explanation.”
Certainly beats the team’s former owners who have only been in the media these days for legal malpractices…