Category: Sports Written by Leland Stein III
Goodbye Ben Gordon. Detroit Pistons team president Joe Dumars recently sent him and a first-round draft pick to the Charlotte Bobcats in exchange for Corey Maggette.
The woeful Bobcats have the second pick in the NBA Draft after a disastrous 7-59 season. Gordon could give the Bobcats some much-needed outside shooting. They shot an NBA-worst 29.5 percent from 3-point range last season. The move comes one day after new coach Mike Dunlap said the Bobcats needed to add a 3-point shooter.
Gordon is slated to earn $12.4 million next season and $13.2 million in 2013-14, which makes him the highest-paid player on the Bobcats roster, so Michael Jordan and company must believe that Gordon can rejuvenate himself and help Charlotte.
The Pistons finished with a pedestrian 25-41 record, and for real Pistons fans it was yet another failed season. With a shortened year due to the lockout and a roster of unproven talent, the expectations for the 2011-12 Pistons season were set at a low bar. The Pistons weren’t expected to make the playoffs or become the Cinderella team of the NBA. Unfortunately, they lived up to those expectations.
Fans are eager to see the Pistons get back to their winning ways. Here are some reasons to be hopeful for the Detroit Pistons in 2012-13.
The Gordon trade was the right move by Dumars. Charlotte will get the Pistons’ first-round pick next year if they make the playoffs for the first time since 2009, a source said. If Detroit is in the 2013 draft lottery, it will keep the first-round pick if it is within the first eight selections overall. The first-round pick the Pistons owe the Bobcats from the deal would then be protected only if it is No. 1 overall in 2015 and it is unprotected in 2016.
Gordon averaged 18.5 points per game in Chicago, during his first five years in the NBA, but for three seasons in a Pistons uniform, the shooting guard scored just 12.4 points per game. Meanwhile, Maggette is in the last year of a contract scheduled to pay him $10.9 million this season. By trading Gordon with two years and about $25 million left on his contract, the Pistons should save about $15 million.
An eight-year NBA veteran, Gordon has shot 43.6 percent from the field and 40.6 percent from beyond the 3-point line. He’s an 86 percent career free throw shooter. His career 3-point percentage currently ranks 12th among active players and 21st in NBA history, while his career free throw percentage ranks 10th among active players and 31st all-time.
The 6-foot-3 Gordon was initially selected by the Bulls out of Connecticut with the third overall pick in the 2004 NBA Draft. He signed with the Pistons during the 2009 offseason, part of a makeover that also included the addition of Charlie Villanueva. Detroit has not made the playoffs since then, and Gordon hasn’t come close to the 20.7-point average of his final season in Chicago.
Maggette is a solid player, but injuries have been a problem for him. In 2011-12 he was limited to 32 games because of injuries, averaging 15 points. The 13-year veteran, in the final year of his contract, has averaged 16.2 points in his career.
With Maggette playing the same position as Tayshaun Prince, what’s the deal there? Prince is a solid player, but this is an obvious rebuilding process, and Prince does not seem to fit into this real Pistons situation.
Ben Wallace, God bless his soul, please do not bring him back to a team that loses more game than it wins. It is time to try the young players and see what they can bring to the table.
The Pistons are now rebuilding around young players like Greg Monroe and Brandon Knight. They cut ties with Richard Hamilton before last season, and now Gordon leaves after starting only 21 games in 2011-12.
Let Prince and Wallace, two excellent people, go and then the real rebuilding can start.
Last Updated on Thursday, 05 July 2012 18:09
Category: Sports Written by Leland Stein III
I have to admit I was hoping the Miami Heat outlasted the Oklahoma City Thunder. I really like the Thunder, but I simply had to pull for the Heat, mainly because of LeBron James.
I’ve been covering the NBA for 20, but I have never seem the hate directed at a player like James. He recently even appeared on the most hated athlete list . . . yep, right near the top of the list.
Why, simply because he exercised his right as free agent to change teams? Heck, teams trade players at the drop of a hat. The Tigers kicked Curtis Granderson to the curb, and, he was a model citizen. The Pistons kicked Chauncey Billups to the curb and he wanted badly to become the next Dave Bing and he too was a model citizen. Orlando traded Shaq O’Neil after only three years.
James stayed in Cleveland for seven years, and did what all of us would do if given a better opportunity of employment opportunity.
During an ESPN special from the Boys and Girls Club (where over $750,000 was raised for three clubs) in Greenwich, Conn., James selected the Miami Heat as the team that gave him the best chance to win that elusive NBA title.
He was right!
In Miami the three time MVP united with All-Stars Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh. I believe they created one of the best young trios in NBA history from the unprecedented 2010 NBA free agent group.
So what was the problem with that? It okay for players to get traded like cattle, but if they get together and do right for themselves there is outrage. I guess the thought is those boys should just do what they are told, not think for themselves. The haters would have been just fine if some rich owner moved the player around like pieces on a chessboard.
And I’ve heard the talk that James should have stayed in Cleveland and winning there would have been more special. Some say that James needed help to win the title, so it is not as special.
What a pile of crap! The Bill Russell-led Boston Celtics must have at least five players in the NBA Hall of Fame. Larry Bird’s Celtics had Lance Parish, Kevin McHale and Dennis Johnson, all great Hall of Fame type players.
And Magic Johnson had the greatest scorer in NBA history in Kareem Abdul-Jabbar along with one of the most dynamic small forwards in NBA history in James Worthy. All are in the Hall of Fame.
Even the Detroit Pistons have three in the Hall of Fame from the Bad Boys era — Isiah Thomas, Joe Dumars and Coach Chuck Daley. Michael Jordan had Hall of Fame forward Scottie Pippen and some outstanding role players and shooters. No one can win a title alone.
So my point is James took his life into his own hands and made a move that gave him the best chance to win a NBA title. What is wrong with that?
The fact of the matter is James has not beaten up any old ladies, does not have a DUI, has not stolen anything, has not done drugs or missed flights, and he practices hard. In addition, he cares about others and himself.
That is all right by me!
LeBron James made the right call going to Miami.
Last Updated on Wednesday, 27 June 2012 19:40
Category: Sports Written by Leland Stein III
The Chevrolet Detroit Belle Isle Grand Prix came to a screeching halt amid safety concerns on the track. After crews made serious repairs, it was decided the race would resume. Two cars did spin out when tar strips (used to smooth out portions of the track as it transitions into the turns) failed.
Those that care about the betterment of the Motor City were elated that Belle Isle’s 2.07-mile road course was resurrected after a four-year hiatus infused by the nation’s economic downturn.
But it was back!
Eventually Scott Dixon won the Grand Prix; however, the race to the finish was stunted by caution flags and a light rain that made the slick track even more slippery and the unfortunate track problems that delayed the race more than two hours.
With guile and a fast car, at the end of the day Dixon pulled away after the final restart on lap 55 for his first win of the season.
“I’m glad how we pulled this one off,” Dixon exclaimed in the post-race press conference.
“This was a fun day, but it was crazy too. I am glad I finished where I did. The Detroit event is important to our circuit.
“After some second-place finishes, that was a nice way to come back. In the rain, I was slipping and sliding. I thought I’d spun one time. It was a fun day, even though I would have chewed my nails to the bone towards the finish had I been able to take off my gloves. I’d like to give a lot of credit to everyone at IndyCar and the Detroit staff for getting the track back in shape so we could race.”
Added Dixon teammate Dario Franchitti, who had won the Indy 500 the week before this race: “I take my hat off to Bud Denker (Grand Prix chairman) and the Penske organization for repairing the racetrack. The track was definitely safe for the last 15 laps. I’m glad for the fans that we finished the race. Also, I take hat off to Dixon, he was a beast out there. He pushed that car and made it happen. I was behind him watching him and I could not believe how well he handled that car in those conditions.”
He and other racers dodged creeping cracks and deep divots as the Chevrolet Detroit Belle Isle Grand Prix fell apart — or at least the racetrack did — then was remarkably rebuilt and ended in a thrilling dash to the finish, with pole-sitter Dixon driving to victory.
Dixon, who ran the No. 9 Target Chip Ganassi Racing Honda, led all 60 laps of the construction-shortened race, as Franchitti finished second and Simon Pagenaud third.
On lap 44 of the IndyCar Series race, James Hinchcliffe speared into the wall at turn 7 after his low-slung race machine apparently struck a patched piece in the track, and the race was red-flagged on lap 45.
“It was like Russian roulette,” Hinchcliffe told reporters. “I’ve never seen anything like it. We had these big pieces of tar just sort of ripping up from lap 5. The debris was out there. It was tough to drive around it.”
However, Penske’s crew, overseen by Denker, expediently implemented fast-drying concrete and epoxy resin into the damaged surface, and the race was restarted after a delay of two hours.
“We have a pretty high standard at Penske,” Denker said at the post-race press conference. “After the difficulties we had during the race, I told the guys that we are not going to give up. The easy thing to do would have been to give up. But we wanted to give it everything we had for our sponsors, TV and the fans.
“We tested the track, and the other series ran on it on Friday and Saturday and we had no problems.”
Of course some were pulling for Team Penske to win or place, especially because of his commitment to this race and Detroit. But in the end Penske drivers Will Power, Ryan Briscoe and Helio Castroneves finished fourth, 16th and 17th, respectively. Power leaves Belle Isle with his series lead intact, 26 points ahead of Dixon.
Franchitti, with actress girlfriend Ashley Judd attentively listening at the post-race press conference, said, “The track problems were what happens sometimes in road racing, but it should not take away from the race, enthusiasm of the fans or Detroit and how the well the city has received us.”
Beside the Chevrolet IndyCars, during the weekend the Grand-AM Rolex 200, Cadillac V-Series Challenge and Firestone Indy Lights wer all ran during the race weekend.
Last Updated on Thursday, 14 June 2012 19:10
Category: Sports Written by Leland Stein III
The Detroit Tigers’ rejuvenation was helped by the large bat of outfielder Magglio Ordoñez. Unfortunately his retirement was fused by injuries that plagued him in his last couple of years with the Tigers.
No matter, he left a lasting imprint on the Detroit franchise. All remember Ordoñez’s three-run, ninth-inning home run that completed the sweep of Oakland for the 2006 American League pennant.
In 2005, Ordoñez brought his consistent bat to a franchise that was down and out.
“I didn’t take a chance on the Tigers, the Tigers took a chance on me,” Ordonez, 38, said during his retirement ceremony at Comerica Park. “Baseball is the game that I love, the game that I’ve been playing almost my whole life. It’s hard to leave something that you’ve been doing your whole career, your whole life. Baseball’s always going to be part of my life.
“But I’m happy, I’m at peace. I think the way that I left the game was the right way. I went to the playoffs, I did good 15 years in the big leagues, playing at a good level. I’m really proud,” he said. “I think the smell of the grass on the field, my teammates, and all the things that have to do with baseball. It’s hard to retire. I’m going to miss baseball always, but this time was going to come. I’m glad that it was today.”
When asked if Tigers’ owner Mike Ilitch made the right move signing Ordonez to a multimillion dollar contract, he indeed made the right move.
During Ordonez’s seven years in Detroit, Ilitch in return got the organization’s first playoff appearance since 1987, its first World Series appearance since 1984 and its first batting title since the 1960s.
“It was a privilege and an honor to be his manager,” Jim Leyland told reporters. “You don’t get a lot of guys that win batting titles and hit home runs to win a pennant. Wasn’t exactly the ‘shot heard round the world’ but it was a pretty big home run in Tiger history. Not to mention that he was a really good hitter. Magglio was a really, really, really professional hitter. He was a really productive guy without a bushel-load of home runs.”
One of the best-ever Venezuelan-born players, Ordonez’s 2007 season — when he led the league with a .363 average and 54 doubles, adding 28 homers and 139 RBI’s, finishing second in the AL MVP balloting — is arguably one of the top-20 offensive seasons in baseball history.
“If fans remember the way that I play on the field,,” Ordonez said, “the way that I handled myself outside the field. I just wanted, like Mr. Leyland said, people to remember me for what I did the last seven years. I feel very proud of that.”
Ordonez received a standing ovation as he walked in from right field — his position for seven seasons — clad in a dark suit and sunglasses, with his family already seated in front of the mound. He received a portrait of his three-run, ninth-inning home run that completed the sweep of Oakland for the 2006 American League pennant.
“He was a star, and stars usually have pretty big egos. But Magglio didn’t have that big ego. That’s why the guys played hard with him. And he was just special,” Ilitch said. “He’s being honored because of the person he is and his contribution to the Tigers.”
With 2012 Olympics near, PBS recalls Owens’ ordeal with America’s segregation policies
Last Updated on Thursday, 21 June 2012 14:33
Category: Sports Written by Leland Stein III
Engines roared, stopped and started again. Not the vision of all who took great pains and untold planning to present the world to the beautiful Detroit gem — sitting in international waters — called Belle Isle.
When Mayor Dave Bing and Lions star defensive tackle Ndamukong Suh welcomed the local and international press, and the sold-out crowd to the Chevrolet Belle Isle Detroit Grand Prix, all had reasons to smile and feel optimistic.
“As I look back at my first two years in office,” Mayor Bing told me in an interview, “there was a lot of talk that GM might move their world headquarters, but I’m so glad they decided to stay in the Renaissance Center in Detroit. Now with Chevrolet’s help and others the IndyCars are back in the Motor City. The economic impact and the innovations that will happen at Belle Isle are wonderful for the city.”
It is projected the last two race weekends on Belle Isle in 2007 and 2008 each hosted over 100,000 race fans and pumped an estimated $52 million or more into the Metro Detroit region. Post race analysis feel the 2012 event may have done even better.
Event Chairman Bud Denker echoed the Grand Prix’s impact in Detroit: “We had the biggest day ever on Saturday and another giant crowd on Sunday. Our volunteers were fantastic and the aerial camera shots by ABC made our track look wonderful. Also, we spent over $500 thousand in improvements to Belle Isle, and that means we plan on hosting this race for a long time.”
Mayor Bing expressed his delight that Denker and company have made a solid commitment to building on the 2012 event and making it even better.
As the grand marshal, Suh was honored to call the start of the race. “It’s really exciting,” he said. “You get to hear those engines roar and just get that thrill, like when you start at the beginning of a football game. I’m glad the race is back.”
Suh continued: “I see myself as a citizen here. I thought it was a great opportunity to show our city and others this is a great event.”
At NASCAR’s Subway FreshFit 500 in Phoenix where Suh was its grand marshal, Denker and Roger Penske talked with him about cars, Detroit, kids and asked, “How about putting all that together and being our grand marshal for the race here in Detroit?”
While putting much effort in the race event, Penske, who attended Culver’s Woodcraft Camp in 1950, saw how it helped shape his life. So he has extended the hand of fellowship to Detroit youth. He sponsors eleven students from the Motor City to attend Culver camps in Indiana. They were also lucky enough to have been treated to a behind-the-scenes action at the Grand Prix.
“To me, to have all the kids here today is pretty special,” Penske said. “We need to have leaders to be successful.”
Since 2008, Penske has been providing Detroit high school students an opportunity to grow as leaders, with discipline, at the Culver Academy.
“It definitely teaches you diversity and leadership,” Bowling Green sophomore Amara Huddleston, a graduate of the program, told a local reporter. “It teaches you to not only be a leader, but be an effective leader.”
Also, the Grand Prix provided impressive entertainment including the Four Tops , Mitch Ryder & the Detroit Wheels, the B-52’s, a Thornetta Davis, Frankie D’Angelo, Robin Horlock, the Second Ebenezer Gospel Choir, Detroit Academy of Arts and Sciences Choir, British Beat 66, Ronnie Dunn, formerly of Brooks & Dunn, and Detroit’s Martin Luther King High School band performed in the Meijer Family Fun Zone, the race paddock, around the Scott Fountain and during pre-race ceremonies.
“We’re proud to have a wide range of local acts perform during the Grand Prix, both on the MotorCity Casino Hotel Entertainment Stage and during our pre-race celebrations,” said Chevrolet Detroit Belle Isle Grand Prix event chairman Bud Denker. “It makes for another great dimension in an already spectacular weekend.”
All-in-all, Belle Isle showed the world its beauty and potential, and the roar of the fantastic machines enlivened the city.
Last Updated on Thursday, 14 June 2012 19:08
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