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LaVar Ball questions Trump’s role in son’s release

WASHINGTON --- Outspoken basketball dad LaVar Ball questioned the extent of President Donald Trump's involvement in securing his son's release from the custody of Chinese authorities during a combative 20-minute CNN interview on Monday night. The president, in tweets Sunday, said he should have left LiAngelo Ball and two other UCLA basketball players accused of shoplifting in jail because LaVar Ball "is unaccepting of what I did for his son" and "very ungrateful!" LaVar Ball has refused to thank Trump. LaVar Ball didn't back down during the CNN interview, telling host Chris Cuomo that Trump has more important things to do than ask for his gratitude. "That's on your mind, ...Keep on reading: LaVar Ball questions Trump’s role in son’s release.....»»

Category: newsSource: inquirer inquirerNov 21st, 2017

LaVar Ball questions Trump s role in son s release

WASHINGTON — Outspoken basketball dad LaVar Ball questioned the extent of President Donald Trump's involvement in securing his son's release from the custody.....»»

Category: newsSource:  philstarRelated NewsNov 21st, 2017

LaVar Ball questions Trump’s role in son’s release

WASHINGTON --- Outspoken basketball dad LaVar Ball questioned the extent of President Donald Trump's involvement in securing his son's release from the custody of Chinese authorities during a combative 20-minute CNN interview on Monday night. The president, in tweets Sunday, said he should have left LiAngelo Ball and two other UCLA basketball players accused of shoplifting in jail because LaVar Ball "is unaccepting of what I did for his son" and "very ungrateful!" LaVar Ball has refused to thank Trump. LaVar Ball didn't back down during the CNN interview, telling host Chris Cuomo that Trump has more important things to do than ask for his gratitude. "That's on your mind, ...Keep on reading: LaVar Ball questions Trump’s role in son’s release.....»»

Category: newsSource:  inquirerRelated NewsNov 21st, 2017

5 questions ahead of the NBA s 2017 Christmas Day games

It's already December 25 in the Philippines, but that's still a few hours away in the United States, meaning we have to wait before holiday's best tradition will take place: the NBA's annual slate of Christmas Day games. This year's batch of games sees the 76ers head to MSG to play the Knicks, the Cavaliers go to the Bay to face the Warriors in an NBA Finals rematch, the Wizards tackle the Celtics in an Eastern Conference semis redux, the Rockets battle the Thunder, also a 2017 postseason rematch, and the Timberwolves face off versus the Lakers. While you're unwrapping gifts and munching on Noche Buena leftovers, here are five questions to ponder: 1. Will the injury bug play Grinch to this set of holiday games? The Golden State Warriors officially ruled out Stephen Curry from playing. The LA Lakers just announced that Lonzo Ball is sidelined. Chris Paul is a question mark, while fingers are crossed that Joel Embiid and Kristaps Porzingis will be able to go long when they face off. Injury report for tomorrow's game vs. Cleveland: Shaun Livingston (sore right knee), Kevon Looney (gluteal strain) & Zaza Pachulia (left shoulder soreness) are probable. Stephen Curry (sprained right ankle) is out. — Warriors PR (@WarriorsPR) December 25, 2017 Hurt superstars are definitely the coal in an NBA fan's stocking, but let's hope that despite the absence of some of the bigger names, the games will still be able to provide plenty of entertainment. Bonus question: We may not get Curry vs. LeBron this Christmas, but how great of a consolation gift is Durant vs. LeBron? 2. Who will be the Christmas unicorn? Kristaps Porzingis is of course, the OG unicorn, having the tag bestowed upon him by Kevin Durant. The nickname refers to the mythical convergence of height, ball-handling, skill, and three-point shooting, all of which, Porzingis possesses. He's not alone though, as the 76ers' Joel Embiid has all of that in spades too, it's just that, seeing him on court has been more rare, due to an assortment of injuries that have held him back. Imagine, I suppose, if My Little Ponies could draw DNPs. When Porzingis' Knicks and and Embiid's 76ers collide, all eyes will be on the two, as they will inevitably go head-to-head against each other. As of writing, the Knicks are in the eighth seed in the East, while a 1-9 stretch in their last 10 games has the 76ers on the outside looking in at 10th place, three back of the Knicks. Therefore, it's not just pride at stake here; the East is wide open and every game will matter, as both squads harbor postseason dreams. Bonus question: Will 76ers rookie point guard Ben Simmons wind up stealing the show? 3. Who will triumph in the Wall vs. Irving point guard duel? After some strong starts to the season, the Boston Celtics and the Washington Wizards, the two squads most picked to be potential spoilers to the Cleveland Cavaliers' march to yet another Finals, are going through some rough patches. The Celtics of course, lost Gordon Hayward and started 0-2, but eventually righted the ship through tough defense, only to finish just 5-5 in their latest stretch (though they're still #1 in the conference). Meanwhile, injuries to John Wall and some of their role players have really prevented the Wizards from taking off. They're 18-15, and occupy the seventh spot in the East right now. If someone's going to take charge for either side in this Christmas duel, it'll be each side's respective point guards. Kyrie Irving has embraced being the man for the green and white, while John Wall is an established superstar in the Chocolate City. A Christmas day win for either team could be the foundation for a lengthy run of wins if they can maintain momentum. Bonus question: Who will be the better Morris twin - Boston's Marcus or Washington's Markieff? 4. Which nu-super team will do the most damage, the Rockets or the Thunder? The two most aggressive teams this offseason in revamping their roster to take on the defending champs were without a doubt, the Houston Rockets and the Oklahoma City Thunder. H-Town added Chris Paul and a bevy of long-limbed, rangy defenders who can nail open three's, while OKC formed their version of a big three by trading for Paul George and Carmelo Anthony. The early returns have looked better for the Rox than the Thunder. Even with Paul sidelined, the team was able to shoot to the top of the West standings, and looked even better when CP3 was healthy alongside the Beard, James Harden. On the other hand, it's been an on-going adjustment for reigning MVP Russell Westbrook to integrate the two other established stars. Their defense has been on-point, but their offense is prone to long, fatal droughts. Chris Paul has been listed as doubtful for this one (among several other Houston players), so we may not get the full experience, but this Western Conference Playoffs rematch from last season should still be interesting, even if it's just in an offense versus defense kind of way. Bonus question: Better odds of happening in this game, Harden scores 50+ for a third straight game or Westbrook adds another triple-double to his season tally? 5. Can Kyle Kuzma carry the Lakers? One can make a pretty convincing argument that Kyle Kuzma should be the Rookie of the Year. Despite not being a lottery pick, Kuz has had a major impact on the court, his scoring prowess adding quite the punch to a Lakers team that needs some (okay, a lot). Originally, this question was going to involve Lonzo Ball too, but with the Lakers announcing that his shoulder will keep him out of this game and the rest of the week, this could be a rare opportunity for Kuzma to steal the LA spotlight. Doubly so if Brandon Ingram remains sidelined too. Sure, he'll likely need to contend with the Timberwolves placing super-stopper Jimmy Butler on him, but wouldn't that be a fun duel to watch? Bonus question: How bummed are you that we won't be having LaVar Ball Christmas shenanigans with Lonzo out? The views on this page do not necessarily reflect the views of the NBA, its clubs or ABS-CBN Sports......»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsDec 25th, 2017

Lonzo Ball’s triple-double sends Lakers past Denver, 127-109

By Greg Beacham, Associated Press LOS ANGELES (AP) — Lonzo Ball had his second career triple-double and Julius Randle scored 24 points in the Los Angeles Lakers’ 127-109 victory over the short-handed Denver Nuggets on Sunday night (Monday, PHL time). Ball had 11 points, a career-high 16 rebounds and 11 assists in the 20-year-old rookie’s first triple-double in front of his hometown fans at Staples Center. Brook Lopez scored 21 points and Jordan Clarkson added 18 for the Lakers, who surged to a 24-point lead in the first half and easily won for just the second time in seven games. Denver coach Mike Malone and top scorer Nikola Jokic were ejected in the second quarter after Malone stepped onto the court during play to argue a no-call on a play by Jokic around the basket. Malone furiously confronted referee Rodney Mott, who swiftly ejected the coach and his best player when Jokic joined in the argument. Forward Paul Millsap also left with a sprained left wrist in the second quarter of a miserable night at Staples Center for the Nuggets, who lost for just the second time in six games. Ball had another big game at another turbulent moment in his family life. With his father, LaVar, engaged in a public argument with Donald Trump over the president’s role in resolving brother LiAngelo’s misdeeds during a UCLA basketball trip to China, Lonzo Ball put together an outstanding floor game to boost the Lakers. Ball and Magic Johnson are the only Lakers with multiple triple-doubles in their rookie seasons. Johnson had seven, and his new point guard has two in his first 17 games. Randle added seven points and five assists in a stellar game off the bench. TIP-INS Nuggets: Jamal Murray got a technical foul for gesturing at Mott after a no-call shortly after the two ejections. ... Two nights after Denver scored 146 points in a win over New Orleans, the Nuggets mustered just 48 points in the first half while committing 13 turnovers. Lakers: The 6'6" Ball’s 16 rebounds were the most in the NBA by any rookie this season. ... Los Angeles had a season-high 36 assists. ... Randle scored 17 points before halftime. ... Josh Hart and Ivica Zubac were recalled from the South Bay Lakers before the game. Hart scored three points, and Zubac played two minutes. TOSSED Malone was infuriated when Mott didn’t call a foul on the Lakers for contact while Jokic battled underneath the basket. When the teams headed upcourt, Malone took two steps onto the hardwood and blocked Mott’s path. Jokic had barely joined the argument when Mott tossed him as well, prompting a profane response. Malone’s assistants had to calm him down. UP NEXT Nuggets: At Sacramento Kings on Monday night (Tuesday, PHL time). Lakers: Host the Chicago Bulls on Tuesday night (Wednesday, PHL time)......»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsNov 20th, 2017

Trump says he should have left UCLA players in Chinese jail

  WASHINGTON --- President Donald Trump said he should have left in jail the three UCLA basketball players accused of shoplifting in China.   Trump's remark came after the father of player LiAngelo Ball minimized his involvement in winning the players' release in comments to ESPN.   In a tweet on Sunday, Trump said: "Now that the three basketball players are out of China and saved from years in jail, LaVar Ball, the father of LiAngelo, is unaccepting of what I did for his son and that shoplifting is no big deal. I should have left them in jail!"   On Friday, LaVar Ball told ESPN: "Who?", when asked about Trump's involvement in the matter. "Wha...Keep on reading: Trump says he should have left UCLA players in Chinese jail.....»»

Category: newsSource:  inquirerRelated NewsNov 20th, 2017

3 UCLA players face punishment at home after China incident

By Beth Harris, Associated Press LOS ANGELES (AP) — Three UCLA basketball players detained in China on suspicion of shoplifting have been allowed to return home, where they may be disciplined by the school as a result of the international scandal. Freshmen LiAngelo Ball, Jalen Hill and Cody Riley were on a plane back to Los Angeles that was due to land late Tuesday afternoon after a 12-hour flight from Shanghai. Pac-12 Commissioner Larry Scott said the matter "has been resolved to the satisfaction of the Chinese authorities." The players were detained in Hangzhou for questioning following allegations of shoplifting last week before the 23rd-ranked Bruins beat Georgia Tech in their season-opening game in Shanghai as part of the Pac-12 China game. The rest of the UCLA team returned home last Saturday. A person with knowledge of the Pac-12's decision said any discipline involving the trio would be up to UCLA. The person spoke to The Associated Press on condition of anonymity because the conference doesn't plan any sanctions. UCLA Chancellor Gene Block said the school is weighing its options. "I want to be clear that we take seriously any violations of the law," he said in a statement. "In this particular case, both Athletics and the Office of Student Conduct will review this incident and guide any action with respect to the involved students. Such proceedings are confidential, which limits the specific information that can be shared." There was no immediate word on the trio's status for the team's home opener Wednesday night against Central Arkansas. The school said the three players, along with coach Steve Alford and athletic director Dan Guerrero, will make their first public comments about the matter at a campus news conference Wednesday, but won't take questions. Scott thanked President Donald Trump, the White House and the State Department for their efforts in resolving what he called "the incident with authorities in Hangzhou, China." He indicated that UCLA made "significant efforts" on behalf of its athletes. It wasn't clear under what terms the players were freed to return to the U.S. "We are all very pleased that these young men have been allowed to return home to their families and university," Scott said. Trump said Tuesday he had a long conversation about the three players' status with Chinese counterpart Xi Jinping. Ball, Hill and Riley were expected to have an immediate impact as part of UCLA's highly touted recruiting class. Instead, they are being talked about solely for their actions off the court. Ball, a guard whose brother Lonzo is a rookie for the Los Angeles Lakers, averaged 33.8 points as a high school senior. The elder Ball played one season in Westwood and left early for the NBA draft. The Balls' outspoken father, LaVar, was in China at the time of the incident. He spent some time promoting the family's Big Baller Brand of athletic shoes with his youngest son, LaMelo, while his middle son was detained. Forwards Hill and Riley, both four-star recruits, figure to bolster 7-foot senior Thomas Welsh in the frontcourt. The Bruins traveled to China as part of the Pac-12's global initiative that seeks to popularize the league's athletic programs and universities overseas. The China Game is in its third year, and while the scandal was developing the league announced that California and Yale will play in next year's edition. The game is sponsored by Alibaba Group, the Chinese commerce giant that both UCLA and Georgia Tech visited before the shoplifting incident occurred......»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsNov 15th, 2017

Trump-Kim summit raises new questions over South Korean role

(AP Photo/Ahn Young-joon). Destination signs to North Korea's capital Pyongyang, top, and the United States, center, are seen at the Imjingak Pavilion in Paju near the border village of Panmun.....»»

Category: newsSource:  philippinetimesRelated NewsJun 14th, 2018

Long-awaited matchup arrives for Rockets, Warriors

By Sekou Smith, NBA.com James Harden and the Rockets must get past the Warriors to reach their first Finals since 1995. Finally, it’s here. The series the NBA world has been waiting for from the moment Chris Paul requested a trade last summer that sent him to the Houston Rockets to join forces with James Harden has arrived. It's the Rockets vs. the four-time Western Conference and two-time NBA champion Golden State Warriors for West supremacy. The Rockets had a feeling they could see this journey through to this point, even when the teams met on opening night at Oracle Arena. Houston was built to beat the champs, and did it twice in their three regular season encounters. Rockets center Clint Capela voiced his opinions on the matchup after a January win, saying his team was superior to the champs. And he’s just as eager for this match up, in which the Rockets hold home-court advantage. “I’m real excited,” Capela said. “This [Warriors] team is going to be hard, it’s going to be a fight. There’s going to be a lot of adjustments after every game. It’s going to be a chess game. Of course, we’re going to be ready. They’ve been to The Finals three straight years. So we’re just excited. Everybody's excited about it. I’m sure all the NBA fans are excited about it, too.” The Warriors are fired up, too, and have heard all the chirping. “Now you’ve got to play the game,” All-Star forward Draymond Green said. “You wanted us, now you’ve got us.” The Warriors are attempting to conquer the West for a fourth straight season, but this will be their first West finals without home-court advantage. Doing it against a team specifically designed to take them down just adds to a battle wrought with connections. Harden, Paul, Green, Stephen Curry, Kevin Durant and Klay Thompson all won gold medals together, be it on the Olympic or World Cup of Basketball stage. Harden and Durant were teammates on the Oklahoma City Thunder team that lost The Finals in 2012. Paul’s LA Clippers squad in 2014 was the last West foe to knock the Warriors out of the playoffs before The Finals. And the Rockets were the team the Warriors beat in the 2015 West finals to jump-start their would-be dynasty. Rockets coach Mike D’Antoni pioneered the style the Warriors have used to dominate the league while he was coaching in Phoenix, where Warriors coach Steve Kerr was the Suns GM. The three-pointers will fly from all directions. Both teams are capable of defending at a championship level. The personnel on both sides is ideally matched. Perhaps best of all, though, is that both teams are healthy and without any ready-made excuses overshadowing this showdown. It’s best on best, a test of collective wills between the “cream of the Western Conference crop,” as Curry declared after the Warriors and Rockets each won their West semifinal series just hours apart on May 8 (May 9, PHL time). The NBA world has been waiting on this heavyweight showdown. Now, it’s finally here. 3 quick questions and answers 1. Who flinches first, Kerr with his “Hamptons Five” lineup or D’Antoni with his Harden-Paul-Capela trio? Against every other team in the league, the Warriors’ small-ball unit of Durant, Thompson, Curry, Green and Andre Iguodala has a clear advantage. No one else has three shooters like Durant, Curry and Thompson playing alongside the versatile Green and Iguodala. The Rockets come close with Harden, Paul and Capela alongside defensive specialists and three-point marksmen Trevor Ariza and P.J. Tucker. It’ll be a fascinating study in styles watching them matchup against each other. But advantage Warriors ... until we see someone crack the code against the "Hamptons Five." 2. What’s more valuable -- Houston's home-court advantage or Golden State's experience? Home-court advantage is always preferred. The Warriors know that. It’s been good to them in each of the past three seasons grinding through the West playoffs to The Finals. But it’s not infallible (as the Cleveland Cavaliers taught us, rallying from a 3-1 Finals deficit to take Game 7 at Oracle Arena). Which is exactly why the Rockets need to have the threat level turned all the way up for Games 1 and 2. Lose either one of the first two games at Toyota Center and the Warriors will pounce in this series. 3. Who is the biggest wild card for each team? And, are they capable of swinging this series? It’s Eric Gordon for the Rockets and whichever big man (JaVale McGee, Zaza Pachulia, Kevon Looney or perhaps Jordan Bell) that Kerr taps for service for the Warriors. Gordon has to shoot more consistently than he has thus far in the playoffs (34.2 percent overall, 31.4 percent on three-pointers) if the Rockets hope to match the Warriors basket for basket. The Warriors have a big man for basically every season, it’s just a matter of which one will fare best against a much-improved Capela. He has outplayed two more heralded bigs (All-Star Karl-Anthony Towns and the Jazz's Rudy Gobert) in each of the Rockets’ series to date. Overall, though, there's too much star power in this series for any role player to swing the momentum for more than a few minutes. The number to know 100.7 --The two best offensive teams in the regular season have been the two best defensive teams in the playoffs, combining to allow just 100.7 points per 100 possessions on their way to the conference finals. In the first round, the Rockets and Warriors held the Minnesota Timberwolves and San Antonio Spurs to 5.6 and 5.2 fewer points per 100 possessions than they scored in the regular season, respectively. And in the conference semifinals, they held the Utah Jazz and New Orleans Pelicans to 7.0 and 16.2 fewer points per 100 possessions than they scored in the first round, respectively. The Rockets' starting lineup has allowed just 92 points per 100 possessions in its 153 minutes, having forced more than 21 turnovers per 100 (the best mark among lineups that have played at least 75 minutes). The Warriors' "Hamptons Five" lineup, meanwhile, has allowed less than 87 points per 100 possessions in its 54 minutes, and the champs have allowed just 94 points per 100 possessions in 250 total minutes with Draymond Green and Andre Iguodala on the floor together. These teams aren't just here because of how potent their offenses are, and the team that advances to The Finals will be the one that continues to defend at a high level. -- John Schuhmann Making the pick The Rockets made it their mission to put together a group to avenge their 2015 and 2016 playoff failures, with the Warriors serving as their primary target. They’ve got home-court advantage, an inspired Paul and what appears to be all of the requisite parts needed to interrupt the Warriors’ dynasty plans. But do they have the nerve to snatch it all from Golden State, which took a measured approach to 2017-18 and has seemingly flipped the proverbial with another championship run on the line? Experience over ambition this time. Warriors in 6. Sekou Smith is a veteran NBA reporter and NBA TV analyst. You can e-mail him here, find his archive here and follow him on Twitter. The views on this page do not necessarily reflect the views of the NBA, its clubs or Turner Broadcasting......»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsMay 11th, 2018

Cavs avert slow death with roster overhaul

By Steve Aschburner, NBA.com CLEVELAND – Koby Altman might not have completely made a name for himself on Thursday's (Friday, PHL time) NBA Trade Deadline Day, but the Cleveland general manager was busy and high-profile enough in his makeover of the Cavaliers that most people now will remember that he’s the one who spells it with a “y.” Those of us convinced for weeks now – at least since the Cavaliers’ home loss to the Warriors on Martin Luther King Day – that another Golden State-Cleveland Finals would be a dud movie we already saw last June, well, we no longer have to worry. Those stale, sputtering Cavs are no more. They are gone – six players out Thursday (Friday, PHL time), four new players in – and done, replaced by a younger, quicker, more athletic cast who’ll be force-fed their playoff experiences. What with so many in and out doors banging to a frenzied beat, All-Star forward Kevin Love barely got a mention. But Love, out with a fracture to his left hand, will be coming back in a month to six weeks to a vastly reconfigured roster and lineup rotation. However long it takes this team to incorporate new guys George Hill, Rodney Hood, Jordan Clarkson and Larry Nance Jr., count on another period of adjustment for Love playing with them for the first time. Presumably – for Love’s sake – it will go more smoothly than Isaiah Thomas’ learning and comeback curve, which sort of triggered much of Thursday’s maneuverings in the first place. Thomas was the fall guy of the day, the flip side of what most expect to be an enthused, rejuvenated and newly focused LeBron James. It already had been a tough nine months for the 5'9" scoring guard, going from the most valuable player on a formidable contender (Thomas finished fifth in NBA MVP balloting) to the hip injury that ate deep into this season, the Kyrie Irving trade that landed him in Cleveland and the rust and skepticism that marred his 15 largely forgettable games there. The Cavs went 7-8 with Thomas, who shot 25 percent on three-pointers and 36 percent overall. Their defense, leaky enough before, got worse (Thomas had a net rating of minus 15.1 points per 100 possessions). Ball movement ground down to a series of dreary isolation plays or desperate 3s. Also, Thomas began to serve as one of the team’s spokesman in the media, a role that suits his personality but one he had not earned in the Cavs’ locker room. He spoke of things “we” had to do better without quite yet being part of that “we.” That included comments after the team’s collapse in Orlando Tuesday about the Cavs failing to make adjustments during games, a criticism that went directly to coach Tyronn Lue and his staff. It was not appreciated. By the time Thomas followed up 24 hours later, after the last-second overtime victory over Minnesota at Quicken Loans Arena, with heartfelt comments about liking Cleveland and not wanting to be traded, he effectively already was gone. Altman reportedly talked with James before the game, running some possible trade scenarios by the team’s star. “We were marching a slow death,” Altman told reporters in a post-trades conference call Thursday evening (Friday, PHL time), “and we didn’t want to be a part of that.” Although it’s undeniably part of the dynamic of trades – dwelling on the down sides of the departed vs. seeing the upsides of the newbies – it’s fair to say that the players to whom the Cavs bid adieu (IT, Jae Crowder, Channing Frye, Iman Shumpert, Derrick Rose and Dwyane Wade) represented a lot of things that weren’t working or weren’t getting done. Energy was low, enthusiasm lower. The new arrivals, once they finally do arrive, bring not just their skills but – with three of the four, anyway – enough youth and hunger to jolt a Cavs locker room that lacked a bit of a pulse. Hill is the most like the veterans Cleveland shed Thursday (Friday, PHL time), but he does bring playoff experience and a defensive mindset. Also, his combo-guard ways that could frustrate those in search of a classic playmaker should be an asset where James is initiating so much offense. Hood, Clarkson and Nance get more than just changes of address and the newly dangled carrot of a deep playoff run. They – along with Cedi Osman, already in house and getting an opportunity – get James as a mentor, a role he has enjoyed (think 2015 playoffs and the wonders he worked with Matthew Dellavedova and Tristan Thompson, with Love and Irving out or hobbled). Make no mistake, James likes veterans but not in the mix, with the unreliable results, they had until Thursday (Friday, PHL time). So the Cavaliers hit a reset button that they believe will help them for this season. These deals – and the ability to not trade away the Brooklyn first-round pick they hold thanks to the Irving trade – also leave Cleveland in better shape this summer, more attractive to James when he hits free agency and even more resilient if he leaves. For those tempted to conflate the Irving trade with the deals made Thursday and decree that Cleveland didn’t get nearly enough, the economic concept of “sunk costs” comes to mind. Irving was gone, Thomas wasn’t working out, Crowder was not helping; that first deal was done. There was no going back. All Altman and the Cavs could do was go from there. There is a bigger issue that might not be answered over the remaining 29 games and however many follow in the postseason. The Cavaliers began this 2017-18 season as favorites to again win the conference title and reach the Finals. Even after the Irving trade, most NBA GMs and media mavens expected James and his vets to stomp through the East, whenever they chose to get serious about the season. Instead, we got an unprecedented makeover of a Finals favorite two-thirds of the way through a championship-minded season. In a league that preaches continuity and chemistry as ingredients of success, that’s mind-boggling. James’ inability to rouse this group out of its doldrums, on top of whatever Irving came to dislike even before this season began, raises questions about the superstar-down culture – as opposed to many teams’ top-down, or San Antonio’s Pop-down culture – wherever James has played. Or, for that matter, might play in the future. Bottom line on a busy trade day: Who gets to play for Team LeBron is a lot bigger deal than just on All-Star Sunday. Steve Aschburner has written about the NBA since 1980. You can e-mail him here, find his archive here and follow him on Twitter. The views on this page do not necessarily reflect the views of the NBA, its clubs or Turner Broadcasting......»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsFeb 9th, 2018

LiAngelo, LaMelo Ball scoreless in pro debut in Lithuania

PANEVEZYS, Lithuania --- LiAngelo and LaMelo Ball went scoreless in their pro basketball debut, finishing a combined 0 for 7. The younger brothers of Los Angeles Lakers rookie Lonzo Ball played in the Lithuanian league for BC Prienai on Saturday. Their team lost 95-86 to Lietkabelis Panevezys. LiAngelo went 0 for 3 from the field in just over 9 minutes. His 16-year-old brother, LaMelo, played 5:16, going 0 for 4. The brothers signed with the Lithuanian team last month after LiAngelo withdrew from UCLA. He was suspended indefinitely following his arrest for shoplifting during a recent tour of China. That sparked a Twitter spat between father LaVar Ball and President Donald Trump. L...Keep on reading: LiAngelo, LaMelo Ball scoreless in pro debut in Lithuania.....»»

Category: newsSource:  inquirerRelated NewsJan 14th, 2018

Popovich s odd alliance with red state fans

By Shaun Powell, NBA.com SAN ANTONIO -- About 400 people gathered at the Oak Hills Country Club in June 2016 and paid $500 to $250,000 to sip iced tea and nibble hors d’oeuvres next to a golf course designed by noted architect AW Tillinghast, who built many. One is owned by the man who was feted at this political fundraiser, Donald J. Trump. The presidential campaign was in full blast and saltier than the crackers on the cheese plate being passed around. Fresh off the plane, Trump thanked the Republicans for the big ‘ole Texas welcome, witnesses say, before launching a blistering attack on the usual targets: Hillary Clinton, Barack Obama, illegal immigration. Then, near the end of his 30-minute lunchtime appearance, in an effort to connect with the locals, he pivoted and mentioned perhaps the most famous man in town: Gregg Popovich. Witnesses say Trump called Popovich “a great coach” and said “he does a good job” and then there was some fidgeting in the room when the soon-to-be polarizing leader of the free world said this: “I don’t know if the coach is on my side.” Confirmation came emphatically, right after Trump won a divisive election that November. The coach of the Spurs lit into the President over the next several months with a handful of rants that had the stealth of Kawhi Leonard ambushing a timid ball-handler. In no particular order, here were Pop’s Greatest Hits, all issued through the media and without prompting or provocation: “The disgusting tenure and tone and all the comments … have been xenophobic, homophobic, racist, misogynistic. I live in a country where half the people ignored that to elect someone.” And: “He is in charge of our country. That’s disgusting.” And: “The man in the Oval Office is a soulless coward who thinks he can only become large by belittling others.” And: “We have a pathological liar in the White House ... You can’t believe anything that comes out of his mouth.” Popovich didn’t stop there with a President whose sensitivity and intelligence he questioned and accused of being guilty of “gratuitous fear-mongering.” When he took Trump to task for criticizing NFL players who knelt during the National Anthem and defended their rights to do so, Popovich also suspected a measure of the public outrage was racially motivated. “Our country is an embarrassment to the world,” he said. A 68-year-old wealthy white man, therefore, became a sports voice with weight in the political and social justice arena, where the NBA league office has greenlighted players and coaches to speak up. Popovich has done so with clarity and insight to gain national applause in certain corners. He wasn’t the first or the last in sports to verbally spank the president or tackle right-leaning sensitivities, yet he’s certainly the most unique in one respect. As a graduate of the Air Force Academy who works in a military town, and a five-time NBA champion coach who might symbolize the city more than The Alamo, Popovich has long been elevated to icon status, perhaps permanently so, in San Antonio, where folks are mad about the Spurs. Still, this is mostly conservative Texas, one of the most Republican of states based on the state legislature and the congressional delegation, a state that voted Republican in 10 straight presidential elections and saw 52.6 percent of voters punch for Trump. While voters in San Antonio-proper lean liberal, the surrounding areas swing solidly the opposite. Julianna Holt, the Spurs CEO and Popovich’s boss since March after assuming the position held for 20 years by her husband Peter, supported various Republican presidential candidates before eventually donating $5,400 to Trump’s campaign and $250,000 to the Trump Victory Fund, according to Federal Election Commission records. Popovich is therefore a blue blood in a red state and the contrast makes for strange if not uncomfortable alliance between a beloved coach and a group of conflicted Spurs worshippers. His views have in fact shattered the sacrilege by generating hostility from a segment of the basketball flock, something no coach with his credentials would ever feel. The constant winning and acts of charity do not insulate him from those who would prefer Popovich stuff a sweat sock in his bullhorn. Party lines not Popovich's focus “While we all believe Gregg Popovich has the right to his opinions, where was Popovich when Hillary called half of us a 'basket of deplorables?’Many were Spurs fans who are now tired of being insulted ... many of us will never pay to see a Spurs game again.” -- Donna Howington  “The money I will save this year not attending Spurs games should buy me a nice set of golf clubs. Thanks Pop!” -- Jake Ingorgia  “I will never watch them again until Popovich is gone. He is just like all the other leftist celebrities.” -- Lee Harbach, Bulverde They arrive on cue, most from the dusty towns that orbit around San Antonio, some from the city itself. Popovich has unloaded three times this year on Trump, once after the election, once at the start of training camp and most recently by cold-calling Dave Zirin, a friend and liberal writer from The Nation, a progressive magazine. And each time, the letters land in the office of Ricardo Pimentel, the editor who coordinates the comments section of the Express-News, San Antonio’s newspaper of record. “It’s a cycle,” says Pimental, with a sigh. “He speaks out. People who disagree with him send us letters to the editor, then people who object to their disagreement write us letters to the editor defending Pop. Then they respond to one another.” The initial reaction, he said, is always stacked against Popovich and many identify themselves as Spurs fans ripping up their tickets or promising to never attend or watch games again. Even if those who made threats actually carried them out, the change in the Spurs’ home attendance is a blip, from 99.2 percent capacity last season to 98.6 so far this season. Popovich, of course, has been big for business since his first full season as coach in 1997-98. Besides the titles, the Spurs have reached the playoffs every season and won 50 games every season (except for the lockout-shortened 50-game 1998-99 campaign, when they won 37). In short, Popovich's Spurs have a track record beyond reproach in the NBA. If the 2017-18 Spurs stay on pace, it’ll be 20 straight winning seasons for Popovich, one more than Phil Jackson for the all-time NBA record. He hasn’t been this politically vocal until lately, due to Trump, yet was always politically aware, say those who know him. Well-versed through his readings and observations, Popovich welcomes discussion with acquaintences about classism, leadership, government and preferably over a bottle of wine. His two-decades exposure to young black men from humble beginnings raised his awareness and sensitivities about race and bias. Golden State Warriors coach Steve Kerr once played for the Spurs and lately has echoed many of the same thoughts as Popovich. But Kerr coaches in the Bay Area, where folks nod their heads in agreement. Kerr said he can only imagine the flak Popovich catches in Texas. “Here’s this iconic coach who stands for everything that’s right and for honor and integrity, he served in the military, you see him stand at attention for the American flag — man, Pop loves his country,” Kerr said. “And in the middle of Texas for him to be questioning the Republican President, some of the people down there are probably confused. Like, 'I don’t get it, we love this guy but he’s on the other side from us.' “What I love about Pop is that it’s not about party, not about politics. It’s about integrity and character and that’s what people need to pay attention to. It’s not about some policy, not about how much we pay in taxes. If we can just get back to the point where character matters, then we’ll be in better shape. The problem is, it’s clear character has gone down the tubes in many leadership positions in our country. That’s what Pop is calling out.” True enough, Popovich never publicly attached himself to a political party; to suggest he is against Republicans might be as misleading as believing Colin Kaepernick is against the military. When he played for Popovich, Kerr couldn’t recall a time when the coach was this annoyed by the country’s leadership. “The country was in a better place in terms of a relatively peaceful time back then,” Kerr said. “Yes, 9-11 happened and the whole world changed. But we didn’t have quite the same partisan nature, not only in politics but the national conversation. And so people could just admire Pop for who he was and people might not have been aware of his political leanings because they didn’t ask. When we won and went to the White House, Pop and the team went when Bush was in office. We went in ’99 when President Clinton was there. Republican, Democrat, didn’t matter. The times are so different now.” Kerr laughed quickly when asked about the semi-serious groundswell of social media support for a Kerr-Popovich ticket in 2020. Kerr said he hopes to be on his fifth NBA title as a coach then, but turned semi-serious about Popovich. “Our country needs somebody like Pop who can actually lead and unite from a position of authority and credibility,” Kerr said. “This guy served in the military, grew up in a melting pot, understands leadership. More than anything, he’ll cut through all the [expletive].” Since going nuclear on Trump, Popovich declined invites from the national political shows (and wouldn’t comment for this story). That proves what friends have maintained all along: Popovich doesn’t want to be anyone’s political hero or pundit. He’d rather speak when the moment calls for it, then be left alone. That last part is tricky, though. Empathy often marks Popovich's way “Can you imagine being Republican on the Spurs? Would you feel welcome? He’s like Berkeley -- for free speech unless you disagree with him. Shut up and coach, Gregg.” -- Shannon Deason  “When it comes to coaching basketball or drinking wine, Popovich has experience. When it comes to our country, his opinion is no better than anyone else’s." -- Harold Siemens, Seguin  “Open letter to the NBA referee who ejected Pop from the Warriors-Spurs game: Don’t feel bad about what Gregg Popovich called you. He called the POTUS worse and got away with it.” -- Larry Peabody Once the wheels touched down, the pilot jokingly announced over the loudspeaker: “Welcome to Gregg Popovich International Airport,” and one particular passenger noticed that nobody on the plane thought it was strange. Sean Elliott always knew how deeply rooted Popovich is with San Antonio. Aside from the famous Spanish missions and the River Walk, the city is known for the only professional sports team in town. And while George Gervin, David Robinson and Tim Duncan have come and gone, the one lingering reminder is a sometimes gruff and scruffy coach, maybe the NBA’s best ever. “He’s one of the pillars of the community,” said Elliott, twice an All-Star with the Spurs. “He’s looked at with great admiration. He is as respected as anyone who has ever lived in or been part of the city. It’s not just because he’s a basketball coach. Pop has been a big part of the community, huge contributor to charitable functions, good leader.” Elliott was a Spurs rookie in 1989 when their relationship began and he saw the start of Popovich’s reach in the region. Popovich then was an assistant coach under Larry Brown and just planting his feet in the NBA. That summer, Elliott and Popovich piled into a van with the team's "Coyote" mascot and conducted basketball clinics in San Marcos, Corpus Christi, Laredo and similar places. They were signing autographs in malls and running kids through drills in 100 degree heat, never hearing a complaint from the coach. Elliott said folks in those small conservative towns loved him. “If you sit and hear him talk about something, you tend to agree with him,” Elliott said. “He’ll put it in a logical way and he’s very thoughtful, well read and super intelligent, maybe the most intelligent person I’ve ever known.” The owner of the Spurs then was Red McCombs, a homespun Texan who made his fortune in car dealerships and media companies. McCombs didn’t give Popovich the coaching job after firing Brown, telling Popovich “you’ve got a chance to be a great coach” if he got more experience, which he did, going to the Warriors to work for Don Nelson. Popovich returned to San Antonio two years later as general manager, then became coach and the rest is history. Now 90, McCombs said: “Popovich has become the distinguished part of the franchise. He wears it well. Can’t say enough about what kind of man he is and what he’s meant to San Antonio. God has blessed us with Gregg Popovich.” McCombs loves to tell how Popovich, by chance, learned that a local family needed a car. The coach wrote a check, gave it to the father and walked away. McCombs said it was “typical Popovich” who has empathy for those with less. McCombs, curiously, has traditionally been one of the biggest Republican bankrollers in the state, who gave to the Trump campaign and is fully aware of what Popovich thinks of his choice for President. And so one of the most powerful men in Central Texas, who leans politically to the color of his nickname, had a strong reaction to that. “He’s earned the right to give his comments about citizenship or Trump or anything else,” said McCombs, voice rising. “Yes, he made some statements that others might disagree with. But I’ll tell you this: Popovich would be elected to anything he wants to in San Antonio.” Remaining silent never an option “Our country is not an embarrassment to the world. I will tell you what an embarrassment is. It is an American citizen who got a free education from the great Air Force Academy ... and then has the audacity to say that the greatest nation in the world is an embarrassment because the President rightly demands that Americans stand for the anthem. Popovich should be ashamed of himself.” -- Nick DeLouis, Fair Oaks Ranch  “Nowhere on God’s green Earth do they have the right to disrespect our flag and the men and women who died to keep us free. I’m appalled that you stooped so low to join in that disrespect. Shame on you!” -- Fred Martin, Fair Oaks Ranch  “Coach Pop has squashed my love and enthusiasm for the team. A national treasure, he is not. Coach Pop has a voice, but not my voice." -- Jo Ivan A few years ago Popovich was in New York with his daughter to catch a Broadway play when the coach had a last minute change in strategy. He learned that John Carlos was giving a lecture at New York University that night. So Popovich told his daughter to take one of her friends instead; said he was going to see “Dr. Carlos” speak. “When he came in I was surprised and delighted,” Carlos said recently. “Quite naturally, everyone knew who he was but he just wanted to sit and listen.” A year later, in 2015, Popovich flew Carlos to San Antonio to address the team and Carlos admitted to being star struck around Tim Duncan and others. Yet Carlos was most curious about Popovich and why the coach took a strong interest in an Olympic sprinter who raised a fist on the victory stand in 1968, which is frozen as an iconic civil rights moment. “Being with the Spurs gave me an opportunity to check his character out,” Carlos said. “I knew he was a whiz at putting players together to bring out their best ability. But through my conversations with him it became apparent that he was a social activist himself at one point in his life. He was teaching his players about activism and to be concerned about their fellow man and what was going on around their lives, not just basketball. “I was impressed. He just wanted them to know they had a larger role than just playing basketball in the society in which they live.” Carlos, therefore, was not surprised to see Popovich defend the rights of kneeling black football players who came under attack from Trump. On the first day of training camp in September, Popovich said: “Obviously race is the elephant in the room and we all understand that. Unless it is talked about constantly it is not going to get better.” What followed was another swirl of exchanges between Popovich critics and supporters in San Antonio, and Popovich acknowledged receiving mail from both sides. The anti-Pop mail, though, was jarring to Carlos, given the coach’s work in town. “When people write and lambast him for taking leaders to task for what they’re doing to society, that’s like water rolling off a duck’s back, man,” Carlos said. “When they write negative things about him, it encourages him to keep doing what he’s doing. Those people are the problem. Go ahead and throw stones and it just motivates him to do his job. “Look, I’m a black man who spoke out. Imagine what they think of him as a white man who speaks just as strong, to try and get people to see things in a better light? They throw stones at him even more, like, 'Hey you’re white, you have a great life. Keep your mouth shut.’ Well, God points people in certain directions. We know who we are. We do what we do.” And what Popovich does is enlist the help of giants in the social justice world and bring them into his world. He did that with Cornel West, the Harvard professor and civil rights activist, last fall. Popovich invited West to San Antonio to speak at an East Side community center with a few hundred mostly black and Latino students and their parents. Done without TV cameras or media invitation, the discussion was about the importance of education, the imperfect world, self respect and how to help communities. This was an audience that, presumably and unanimously, connected with a white man who didn’t live among them, but was with them. They were the people Popovich had in mind when he attacked present leadership. This was not the audience that writes to the Spurs and the Express-News asking him to take a vow of silence, though he is aware of them, too. “Some responses make you wonder what country you live in,” Popovich said, “and other responses make you very hopeful … overall, it renews my feeling that something must be done because there is enough people willing to listen.” Veteran NBA writer Shaun Powell has worked for newspapers and other publications for more than 25 years. You can e-mail him here or follow him on Twitter. The views on this page do not necessarily reflect the views of the NBA, its clubs or Turner Broadcasting. .....»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsJan 5th, 2018

LaVar Ball pulls LiAngelo from UCLA to focus on NBA Draft

  LaVar Ball said on Monday he will withdraw his son LiAngelo from the college basketball program at UCLA in protest at his suspension for shoplifting in China. LiAngelo was one of three UCLA players arrested in China earlier this month and later released after the intervention of Chinese President Xi Jinping. He was later suspended indefinitely by UCLA over what became an international incident and led to a war of words been LaVar and President Donald Trump. LaVar, however, told ESPN on Monday he was withdrawing his son from UCLA. "We are exploring other options with Gelo," LaVar told ESPN. "He's out of there." "I'm not sitting back and waiting. "He wasn't ...Keep on reading: LaVar Ball pulls LiAngelo from UCLA to focus on NBA Draft.....»»

Category: newsSource:  inquirerRelated NewsDec 5th, 2017

24 NBA questions before 17-18 tips off

By David Aldridge, TNT analyst The season starts on Tuesday night (Wednesday, PHL time). You’ve been waiting patiently all summer with your questions. Fire away.     1. So … what’s the point of playing this season? The Golden State Warriors are still the prohibitive favorites to repeat this season, next season and into the foreseeable future. But it was good to see a good chunk of the Western Conference -- the Houston Rockets, Oklahoma City Thunder and Denver Nuggets, to name three teams -- not fold before the first card is dealt. That fact alone is incredibly important. The Warriors are still the best team in the West, without question. But if teams don’t even try to get better, or spend money to compete, the whole rationale for playing fades away. The Thunder could have rode Russell Westbrook alone to another first-round playoff loss, watched him walk out the door in free agency next summer and thrown up its hands, plead ‘woe is us and all small-market teams,’ and enjoyed a luxury tax-free life for the next few years. The Rockets could have just kept selling tickets to fans to watch James Harden and his pals shoot 50 threes a game for the next two or three years. It’s an appealing brand of basketball. Denver could have just kept building through the Draft, climbing a few more wins here or there for a while, and snuck into the eighth seed, choosing to be comfortable rather than bold. But they didn’t. They’ve called and raised. In all likelihood, it won’t be enough to beat Golden State. But those teams can sleep well at night. They’re not cheating their players, or fans. 2. So, is OKC now a legit threat to the Warriors? The short answer: no. But it’s closer. Carmelo Anthony will be as good a third option as anyone in the league has, though; he will eat regularly on the weak side as defenses scramble to handle Westbrook-Paul George pick and rolls; a quick seal and ‘Melo will be off to the races. If coach Billy Donovan goes small ball with Patrick Patterson at the five, there will be many nights when OKC drops a 130 spot. Yes, the Thunder’s defense is going to be an issue; while Enes Kanter was a sieve off the bench, he was coming off the bench, playing behind Steven Adams. Anthony will be starting and playing big minutes, many at the four. But it won’t matter most nights when the Thunder is up 20 to start the fourth quarter, after 36 minutes of Westbrook sorties, George 3-pointers and transition dunks, and Carmelo post-ups and spot-ups (he shot 44.8 percent last season on catch and shoot shots. Among forwards who played 30 or more minutes last season, per NBA.com/Stats, only Kevin Durant, Otto Porter and Kawhi Leonard shot better). The Thunder can guard you with George, Andre Roberson and Adams and they can outscore you with Westbrook and George and ‘Melo. They have a solid bench (Patterson, Ray Felton, Jerami Grant, Alex Abrines) and Westbrook won’t be physically spent by the end of the 2018 playoffs. Wait; what am I saying? Of course he’ll be spent. But he’ll also be playing way deeper into May. 3. Did not getting Anthony hurt Houston or nah? The Rockets -- okay, Chris Paul -- wanted this done bad. It won’t hurt Houston in the regular season, when Paul and James Harden will dominate. And while Harden didn’t like Kevin McHale’s critique of his leadership, Mac was spot on. That doesn’t make “The Beard” a bad guy or teammate -- people gravitate to their comfortable roles in life, and CP3 is a natural-born leader. Harden will, one thinks, be more comfortable with slightly less light on him. They’ll do fine playing together and off one another. But the shadow of the Rockets’ implosion from deep -- 29 of 88 on three-pointers the last two games against the Spurs in their Western Conference semifinals series -- still hangs over them. Ryan Anderson was negated in the postseason. There’s a reason CP3 pushed for ‘Melo so hard. The Rockets will need unexpected consistent offense from a P.J. Tucker or Luc Mbah a Moute in May if they have any hopes of playing in June. 4. Can we just start the Cleveland-Boston East finals now? Maybe Toronto, with C.J. Miles shooting 40 percent on 3-pointers to complement Kyle Lowry and DeMar DeRozan, will break up what seems inevitable. Maybe Washington, with its super-solid starting five intact, now has the mental toughness to bust past the second round, where it’s been beached three of the last four postseasons. But it doesn’t feel like that. Boston, ultimately, should be a lot better this season than last. It will take a while for coach Brad Stevens to figure out the rotation and whether Jaylen Brown can really stick at the two, but ultimately, the Celtics have two dynamic playmakers/scorers in Kyrie Irving and Gordon Hayward, and with Al Horford providing the glue at both ends, they’re going to be a load by the end of the season. And while Cleveland will have to wait a while for Isaiah Thomas, the Cavs have more than enough firepower until Thomas can make his debut. Whatever Dwyane Wade has left will be accentuated playing with James, and Kevin Love (holy moly, is he underrated) will feast drawing slower, bigger centers out to him on the perimeter. J.R. Smith doesn’t like losing his starting job to Wade, and he should be ticked. But he nonetheless will help Cleveland’s bench, which will be incredibly difficult in its own right with Tristan Thompson and Kyle Korver complementing Smith. And that’s before Thomas returns, which will put Derrick Rose on that second unit. There won’t be any rest for defenses who’ll then have to contend with a rested James, et al, coming back. It says here that not only will the Cavs not miss Irving offensively, they could be even more diverse and difficult to guard this season. Not to mention that James is supremely motivated to make an eighth straight Finals. 5. Could Curry break his record of 402 3-pointers in a season? At first glance, with Durant and Klay and Draymond (and, now, Nick Young) all needing to get fed as well, it would seem impossible for Curry to best the mark he set two years ago, on the 73-9 regular season team. But consider: coach Steve Kerr thinks a new guy always blossoms in his second year with the Warriors, which means Durant should be even more lethal offensively this year, as the Warriors’ offense reaches an even higher level of efficiency. And the way they move the ball, it’s not a stretch to think that with defenses tripping over themselves to get to Durant, Curry could get into one of those ridiculous grooves that could leave him within striking distance of 402 by the end of the season. 6. Could the last one in the Eastern Conference turn out the lights? The New York Knicks were hardly a power in the East before trading Anthony, but his departure creates one more team that will struggle to win 35 games this season. With the paucity of talent there should be at least four 50-win teams in the East -- Cleveland, Boston, Toronto and Washington -- with the Milwaukee Bucks knocking on the door. 7. Who’s going to regret their offseason? The Bucks were fine off the court -- their new arena is already more than halfway constructed and looks like it’s going to be a gem -- although the surrounding mall that is supposed to be part of the complex is not going up as quickly. But the Bucks didn’t address their bigs-heavy roster and move some of the surplus -- how can coach Jason Kidd keep all of Greg Monroe, Jabari Parker and John Henson happy with Thon Maker scarfing up more and more frontcourt minutes? -- for the shooting Milwaukee still needs. The East is so open, and Milwaukee is so close to breaking through into elite status with Giannis Antetokounmpo an elite performer. 8. Rudy Gay -- sneaky good pickup? Gay says he’s cool starting or coming off the bench for the Spurs, but he’d best as San Antonio’s sixth man, at least to start things. Bringing Pau Gasol off the bench didn’t work so well, so if he’s starting at center, coach Gregg Popovich can’t go small ball with “Cousin” LaMarcus Aldridge at the five and Gay at the four alongside Kawhi Leonard. (Current state of Spurs fans’ cuticles here and here as they consider a season with an extended Klaw absence if this quad injury doesn’t improve soon.) The Spurs could have some serious firepower in reserve if Gay and Patty Mills come off the bench, but Mills or Dejounte Murray will likely have to start at the point until Tony Parker comes back. 9. Speaking of Popovich … Should he and Steve Kerr and Stan Van Gundy stick to sports? No. 10. Who’s gonna be Kia Rookie of the Year? I say Markelle Fultz. What, you thought I was gonna pick against a DeMatha Catholic man? (Actual unretouched photo of me as a sophomore at the most successful high school in the history of the United States may or may not be here). Playing off of Joel Embiid, J.J. Redick, Robert Covington … it’s hard to see Fultz not looking really good when he should have all kinds of room to operate. Lonzo Ball will put up bigger numbers, and Tatum will be on a better team. But Boston was good last year, and Jayson Tatum will likely not play as much as the others. The Sixers are poised for a big jump up in the standings, and that’s always a narrative that voters like and get behind -- which is what will hurt Dennis Smith Jr.'s chances in Dallas. 11. What does Dwyane Wade really have left? Now that the inevitable buyout of Wade’s $24 million deal by the Bulls has led to the equally inevitable trek to Cleveland to play with James, can the 35-year-old Wade still be a significant contributor on a title contender? Given the general dysfunction in Chicago last season, you can dismiss most of the good and bad numbers Wade put up, with two exceptions: he still averaged almost five free throw attempts per game, and he shot 31 percent on 3-pointers -- not great, but more than double his anemic 15.9 percent behind the arc in 2015-16, his last with the Miami Heat. Wade obviously knows the cheat code for how to most effectively play off of James, so he’ll use the regular season to learn his teammates and be ready for the playoffs. But can Wade hold up over seven games defensively if he has to chase, say, Bradley Beal around, or try to deny DeRozan his preferred mid-range spots, and still be productive offensively? 12. Back to the Sixers -- how good will they be? My guess is they’ll pretty good in the 60 or so games I anticipate Embiid will play this season -- I’m assuming several designated off days for him during the season, not another injury. The mix of young talent (Fultz, Embiid, Ben Simmons, Dario Saric, Covington) and crafty vets (Redick, Amir Johnson) should mesh to make the 76ers a very tough team to defend. But Philly has to resolve the Jahlil Okafor situation, and in fairness to him, give him a fresh start somewhere else with a trade as soon as possible. If I were a good team that would be hard-pressed to add a free agent any time soon and feels a player short of true contention -- I’m looking at you, Memphis Grizzlies and Wizards -- I’d work hard to get the new, slimmed-down Okafor on my squad while he’s still on his rookie contract and make him the focal point of a kick-ass second unit. 13. Should we feel some kind of way about the Trail Blazers? I’m picking up what you’re putting down. A full season of the “Bosnian Beast” in the middle, it says here, will vault Portland into the top four in the West. Note I said “full season.” That means Jusuf Nurkic has to give coach Terry Stotts between 65-70 starts for the above premonition to be, as they say in the legal world, actionable. If so, Nurkic’s underrated scoring and passing out of the post will only make Damian Lillard and C.J. McCollum that much more deadly out front, along with improving Portland’s defense. Per Basketball-Reference.com, the Blazers were 11.6 points per game better than the opposition with those three on the floor together and a +5 when their regular five-man lineup with Maurice Harkless and Al-Farouq Aminu joined the guards and Nurkic. And that’s pronounced, “Noor-kitch,” accent on Noor. 13. A little movie break ... Kevin Costner’s accent in “Robin Hood” -- worst ever, right? Yes, but Natalie Wood’s in “West Side Story” was painful, too. 14. Many have written the post-CP3 Clippers off. Should they? The Clippers are my darkhorse this season -- if they do the right thing and go small more often. They’re doing it more in practice so far than in games because Danilo Gallinari is working through a foot injury, but Blake Griffin at the five and Gallinari at the four could be spicy during the regular season. That would mean Sam Dekker and/or Wes Johnson would have to become credible and dependable at the three, allowing coach Doc Rivers to play a Pat Beverly-Milos Teodosic backcourt more often, which will just be fun. This would, of course, mean less DeAndre Jordan, and … that may not be the worst thing. Nothing against DJ, who is the best defensive big in the league, bar none. Unfortunately, the NBA isn’t about defense any more -- at least not in the traditional sense. Even someone like Jordan who doesn’t just block shots, but also helps snuff out opposing pick and rolls, becomes less valued by the league’s advanced stats crowd if he doesn’t contribute more offensively. The three has gone a long way to tyrannizing the defense-dominant big man out of the game. (Zach Lowe recommends the Wizards try to get Jordan via trade, and it’s not the first time I’ve heard that name mentioned in connection with Washington, the idea being the only chance the Wizards have of beating Cleveland or Boston is to slow them down enough defensively that Wall-Beal-Porter can try and keep up offensively. Washington is definitely a load when Wall gets locked in on D and creates turnovers, and the idea of Jordan inhaling lobs from Wall is enticing to think about. But the Wizards are not -- not -- going to take on a fourth big contract, and Jordan’s surely going to opt out after this season; he’s rightly expecting a massive payday in 2018, and the Clippers certainly now have motive and means to retain him.) Anyway, some Lou Williams, Austin Rivers and/or Teodosic and Willie Reed off the bench isn’t bad, either. 15. Could Kyle Kuzma be the best rookie on the Lakers this season? Don’t @me, LaVar. Kuzma has followed up a very strong Vegas Summer League with high notes in preseason, averaging better than 19 points per game for the Lakers. He’s been dazzling at times, displaying in-between skills that intrigue, and showing why so many teams were trying to trade back into the first round to get the Utah forward before L.A. snagged him with its second and much less heralded first-round pick last June. And there will be minutes available at the four this season. So far, Kuzma has displayed unusual strength for a rookie and confidence in his ability to score. Of course, he’s inexperienced, and like all rookies, has to differentiate between an open shot and a good shot. The other, more famous first-rounder, Lonzo Ball, will almost certainly be the better all-around player in time. For this year, though … hmmm. 16. What does a Hawks fan have to look forward to this season? Honestly, not much. But they’ll always be well-coached and get better. I’d pick one of the young players, like rookie John Collins or second-year small forward Taurean Prince, and concentrate on them during the season. See what they do with their minutes on the floor, and watch how they gradually expand their games at both ends. Seeing a young guy get better as he gains experience and accepts coaching is one of the great joys of watching the NBA every night. 17. Orlando? What gives there? The team’s new braintrust of Jeff Weltman and John Hammond will need some time to fix the roster -- a mélange of athletic wings that have trouble defending and guards that have trouble shooting. The former is addressed somewhat with the signing of Jonathon Simmons from San Antonio, but I don’t see a solution to the latter with any of the existing backcourt contributors. Unless coach Frank Vogel figures out some way to get more turnovers/runouts from his group, they just can’t get in transition enough for their length and legs to make a difference. 18. New Orleans? What gives there? The short answer is, I have no idea. All of NBA Earth has DeMarcus Cousins out of there one way or another (he’s an unrestricted free agent in ’18 and wants to be on a contender/the Pelicans will never pay him what he wants and will have to trade him by the deadline/no way he and Anthony Davis fit together/Wall agitates for a reunion with his former Kentucky big man in D.C./your departure theory here) by this time next year, but we’ll see what coach Alvin Gentry has come up with for “Boogie” and “the Brow” after a summer to think it over. Rajon Rondo being out hurts their depth, but I have to be honest -- I don’t see how he and Jrue Holiday can possibly work together in a backcourt, and Holiday’s the guy the Pelicans just gave $125 million to, so he should probably have the ball in his hands every night, shouldn’t he? I like Ian Clark and Frank Jackson down there, but that untethered three spot burns a hole in the New Orleans sun. Well, at any rate, should be more fun than watching reruns of My Life on the D-List. 19. Favorite D-List Muppet? Beaker. 20. LeBron is leaving Cleveland again after this season, isn’t he? Everything points to yes, and a relocation to Los Angeles to play with the Lakers or Clippers next year – except … what if the Cavs win it all again this year? That’s not an impossible scenario -- in fact, it’s a pretty simple one to lay out: Cavs run roughshod through the Eastern Conference in the playoffs again, get through a good but hardly great Boston team in the conference Finals and set up a fourth straight encounter with Golden State. It’s easy now to say the Warriors dominated the Cavs in last season’s Finals -- but only if you ignore the fact that Cleveland led by six with just more than three minutes remaining in Game 3, only to see the Warriors score the game’s last 11 points to take a 3-0 lead instead of 2-1. And given that Cleveland vaporized the Warriors in Game 4, a 2-2 series would have meant the Cavs just needed to win once in Oracle -- which they’d done twice in the 2016 Finals -- to have a real shot at repeating. The point is, the difference between the teams isn’t as big as Draymond Green would have you believe; the Cavs have no fear of the Warriors, and Jae Crowder gives coach Tyronn Lue a viable on-ball defender for Kevin Durant, leaving LeBron free to play off of Green. And: that unprotected Nets pick, whether one or three or five or seven, is Cleveland’s best recruiting tool. LeBron knows everyone in college basketball and he can literally pick whoever he’d like to finish his career with in Cleveland before handing over the reins. I’m not saying he’s definitely staying, either -- only that his departure isn’t the lead pipe cinch some would have you believe. The season to come will have a lot to do with his next decision. 21. So, how will the playoffs go this season? Eastern Conference (seeds No. 1-8): Cleveland, Boston, Washington, Toronto, Milwaukee, Miami, Detroit, Philadelphia Western Conference (seeds No. 1-8): Golden State, Houston, Oklahoma City, Portland, San Antonio, Memphis, Utah, Minnesota Eastern Conference semifinalists: Cleveland, Boston, Washington, Milwaukee Western Conference semifinalists: Golden State, Houston, OKC, San Antonio Eastern Conference finals: Cleveland over Boston Western Conference finals: Golden State over OKC (you heard me) NBA Finals: Golden State over Cleveland (in seven games) 22. Tell me something crazy that’s going to happen this season that no one’s predicting! Giannis Antetokounmpo. NBA MVP, 2017-18. 23. Are you high? No, ma’am. 24. So, why 24 questions? As always, we start the season with 24 questions (or predictions, or issues, whatever) in honor of Danny Biasone, the late owner of the Syracuse Nationals, whose discovery in 1954 helped save the league. At that time, the NBA was in the midst of a literal slowdown, in large part by teams that were desperate to figure out some kind of way to stay competitive with George Mikan, the league’s first superstar big man, and his team, the Minneapolis Lakers. Teams would hold the ball for minutes at a time without shooting in an effort to shorten the game and give them a chance to beat Minneapolis late. But the end result was boring -- very boring -- basketball. At the owners’ meetings that year, Biasone came up with an idea. NBA games were 48 minutes long. Biasone figured out that in a normal game, one not waylaid by the slowdown tactics, about 120 shots -- 60 per team -- were taken. So, why not just divide the number of minutes in every game -- 2,880 -- by the number of shots in an average game -- 120 -- to come up with some kind of a time limit in which a team had to shoot. And thus, the 24-second shot clock (2,800/120) was born. With the implementation of the shot clock in the 1954-55 season, scoring went way up, as did the quality of play. Teams were now running up and down the floor in order to try and beat the shot clock, complementing the “fast break” game that many colleges had played for years. But the new style in the pros was immensely popular with fans. And it still is. Plus, there’s just something iconic about that clock counting down every 24 seconds. It’s unique to the NBA. Thus, we ask 24 questions, in honor of the guy who owned a bowling alley as well as the Nationals for much of his adult life, and probably enjoyed the bowling more. Longtime NBA reporter, columnist and Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Famer David Aldridge is an analyst for TNT. You can e-mail him here, find his archive here and follow him on Twitter. The views on this page do not necessarily reflect the views of the NBA, its clubs or Turner Broadcasting......»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsOct 17th, 2017

Welcome rooks: Ball, Tatum, Fultz and more making NBA debuts

By Tim Reynolds, Associated Press MIAMI (AP) — If there was one takeaway from Lonzo Ball’s first training camp and preseason, it was this: He doesn’t sound like his dad. There’s no humility in Ball’s game. The confidence of the Los Angeles Lakers’ rookie point guard is high when he’s on the floor and with a ball in his hand. But when he speaks, when microphones are thrust near his face and the lights of cameras shine in his eyes and reporters pepper him with questions, there’s no bluster or bravado emanating. Yes, even the most ballyhooed player in this highly regarded NBA rookie class knows that a learning process awaits over the next few months. “The grind of the season, 82 games, I’ve never played that before,” Ball said. “It is my first year, so I don’t know what really to expect. But I’m going in there with an open mind, ready to learn, ready to get better and I’m looking forward to the challenge.” His father, LaVar Ball, has generated plenty of headlines with his sometimes over-the-top remarks, plus has faced tons of criticism for things like slapping a $495 price tag on the infamous Big Baller Brand shoe that was released months before his son made his NBA debut. But Lonzo Ball speaks with humility, a calmness that helped convince the Lakers that he indeed was the right pick to be the rebuilding team’s point guard of the present and future. “I’d like to just play,” Lonzo Ball said. No. 1 pick Markelle Fultz will be part of Philadelphia’s young core that the 76ers hope get them back in the Eastern Conference playoff mix, No. 3 pick Jayson Tatum should be a big part of a Boston team that believes it can compete for a title, and No. 9 pick Dennis Smith Jr. — an absolute freak of an athlete, even by NBA standards — is already being mentioned as a star of the future in Dallas and a legitimate rookie of the year candidate this season. They won’t be asked to be great right away. But this rookie class might have as much potential as any in years. Here’s some of what to know from the rookie perspective going into the season: ___ ALL-STAR CHANCES Don’t expect to see many freshmen on the floor in Los Angeles for the All-Star Game in February. Here’s the last three rookies to make an All-Star team — Blake Griffin in 2011 (which was his second year in the NBA), Yao Ming in 2002 (after he was a pro in China before coming to the NBA) and Tim Duncan in 1998. The odds are stacked even higher against the guards. The last rookie guard to make the game was Michael Jordan in 1985, and the last rookie point guard was Isiah Thomas in 1982. SCORING COMES LATER Since 2000, only seven rookies have averaged 20 points per game. They were Blake Griffin (22.5), Carmelo Anthony (21.0), LeBron James (20.9), Kevin Durant (20.3), Joel Embiid (20.2 last year, after he missed his first two seasons), Elton Brand (20.1) and Tyreke Evans (20.1). The learning curve can be steep, when considering that stars of now like Isaiah Thomas, Kevin Love, Marc Gasol and Al Horford all averaged less than 12 points as rookies. James Harden averaged 9.9, Mike Conley 9.4, Kawhi Leonard and Paul George were just under 8 points per game, Giannis Antetokounmpo was at 6.8, Kyle Lowry and Gordon Hayward didn’t even average 6 points and CJ McCollum barely averaged 5. THEN AGAIN ... Milwaukee’s Malcolm Brogdon showed last year that scoring isn’t exactly a prerequisite for rookie awards. He averaged 10.2 points per game last season, the lowest for any NBA rookie of the year in the 68-year history of the award. Brogdon started only 28 games, by far the lowest for a ROY winner since the NBA started charting that statistic. Of Brogdon’s four most recent predecessors as top rookie, three — Damian Lillard, Andrew Wiggins and Karl-Anthony Towns — started all 82 games. WELCOME, MILOS Having 30-somethings as NBA rookies isn’t unheard of, although the vast majority of those examples came in the league’s infancy during the 1940s. Milos Teodosic is about to join that club. The 30-year-old Serbian is a rookie for the Los Angeles Clippers this season, and yes, he’s eligible for rookie of the year honors. He’s starred in pro leagues in Russia and Greece, and Clippers coach Doc Rivers — not a bad passer in his day — says Teodosic is one of the best distributors of the basketball that he’s ever seen. Other 30-and-uppers in recent years that have joined the NBA after foreign careers and made a quick impact include Pablo Prigioni and Marcelo Huertas. The most notable player to pull off such a move might be Basketball Hall of Famer Arvydas Sabonis, who entered the NBA a decade after first being drafted and was a 31-year-old All-Rookie Team member for Portland in 1995-96. TEEN TIME? No. 1 pick Markelle Fultz of Philadelphia said he is setting high personal goals. Rookie of the year is on the list. He doesn’t turn 20 until May, but could be the third teenager to win the award — potentially joining LeBron James and Kevin Durant. Kyrie Irving and Andrew Wiggins were 19 in their ROY seasons, but turned 20 before those campaigns ended.  .....»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsOct 16th, 2017

Camp time! Warriors, Wolves prepare to open training camp

em>By Jon Krawczysnki, Associated Press /em> The Golden State Warriors were the last team standing when the NBA season closed in June. Thanks to a preseason trip to China, they are one of the first teams to get going this season as the league gets up and rolling again. The Warriors and Minnesota Timberwolves will hold their media days on Friday and open training camps Saturday, a few days ahead of the rest of the league as they prepare for an early October trip to China for games in Shanghai and Shenzhen as part of the league’s ongoing efforts to grow the game in the basketball-crazy nation. Golden State will be the headliner in China, just like it has been in the NBA for the last three seasons. And the Warriors open camp this season with a major advantage over everyone else that goes above and beyond the sheer talent the organization has assembled with Kevin Durant, Steph Curry, Klay Thompson and Draymond Green. While the rest of the league spent the entire summer scrambling to upgrade in a desperate attempt to enter Golden State’s stratosphere, the Warriors return almost the entire roster from the team that won its second championship in three seasons. In fact, Golden State should only be better this year because it will not have to spend part of the early season figuring out how to incorporate Durant’s game with three other All-Stars. Meanwhile, teams like the Rockets, Cavaliers, Thunder, Timberwolves and Celtics will need all of the preseason and then some to get on the same page with the new stars in town. There will be no such orientation process in Golden State. Free agents Nick Young and Omri Casspi will have to acclimate, but that is a lot easier to do when Durant and Curry are showing them around. ___ So as media days and training camps get up and running, here are a few things to watch at the outset: strong>HARD FEELINGS? /strong> It appeared that Durant was on his way to mending some fences in Oklahoma City after he left the organization to join Golden State last season. But the fence posts may have been torn down again when Durant disparaged the Thunder team and coach Billy Donovan as the biggest reasons he left to join the Warriors. Durant has since apologized , but the topic will likely come up again when he speaks to the media on Friday. And it should be interesting to see if Russell Westbrook has anything to say about it when the Thunder open early next week. strong>CP3 ARRIVES: /strong>The most intriguing roster experiment this year may be in Houston, where GM Daryl Morey is teaming James Harden with Chris Paul in a star-studded backcourt. Harden finished second in the MVP voting last season after moving from shooting guard to point guard and now will have to move back to accommodate Paul. Both players are used to having the ball in their hands and orchestrating the offense, so there will likely be some feeling-out that needs to be done in camp. The two have already appeared in a television commercial together, so they’re off to a running start. strong>KYRIE’S MOVE: /strong>The biggest headline in a wild offseason was Kyrie Irving’s request for a trade from the Cavaliers. He landed in Boston in a move that could define his legacy, the All-Star who didn’t want to play with LeBron James. Irving did little to shed light on his motives in an enigmatic interview with ESPN and likely will be bombarded with questions about it at media day. How the Celtics handle the early crush of attention and move past Irving’s exit from Cleveland could play a big role in their ability to truly challenge the Cavs in the Eastern Conference. strong>CRASH COURSE: /strong>The Timberwolves are one of the teams that made significant roster changes this summer after a disappointing 31-win season in Tom Thibodeau’s first year as coach. They added Jimmy Butler, Jeff Teague, Taj Gibson and Jamal Crawford while trading away Ricky Rubio in an offseason overhaul aimed at ending the league’s longest active playoff drought at 13 seasons. Thibodeau asked owner Glen Taylor to allow the team to hold training camp in San Diego before they head out to China to get them away from the distractions of home and allow them to bond in a preseason that only includes three games. That Butler and Gibson played for Thibodeau with the Bulls should help that transition, but it will no doubt be a process worth watching. strong>RULES CHANGES: /strong>When players start taking the court for exhibition games, it will offer an opportunity for them to start to adjust to rules changes and points of emphasis that are new every season. One notable difference this year will be the “James Harden rule,” a change in the way the game is called aimed at reducing the number of instances a player tricks a defender into fouling them and then goes into a shooting motion to try to earn free throw attempts. Harden is the master , though dozens of players do the same thing. .....»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsSep 23rd, 2017

High schooler LaMelo Ball gets signature shoe

LOS ANGELES — Two of LaVar Ball's sons now have their own signature shoe. The latest one has led to plenty of questions......»»

Category: sportsSource:  philstarRelated NewsSep 1st, 2017

Jeff Sessions calls accusations of Russia collusion an ‘appalling lie’ – The Guardian

The US attorney general, Jeff Sessions, has rejected allegations that he took part in collusion with Moscow to influence the 2016 election as an “appalling and detestable lie”. In a heated, often testy hearing of the Senate intelligence committee, Sessions refused to answer questions about his discussions with Donald Trump, on the grounds that the president could claim executive privilege over those discussions at a later date. Under persistent questioning from Democratic senators, the attorney general repeatedly claimed he could not recall details of contacts between the Trump campaign and Russian officials. And in a startling admission from the country’s top justice official, he said he had not received, nor had he asked for, a briefing on Russian intervention in the 2016 presidential election. He said he could not recall any conversations with Trump about the Russian role in the election throughout the transition period. The US attorney general, Jeff Sessions, has rejected allegations that he took part in collusion with Moscow to influence the 2016 election as an “appalling and detestable lie”. In a heated, often testy hearing of the Senate intelligence committee, Sessions refused to answer questions about his discussions with Donald Trump, on the grounds that the president could claim executive privilege over those discussions at a later date. Under persistent questioning from Democratic senators, the attorney general repeatedly claimed he could not recall details of contacts between the Trump campaign and Russian officials. And in a startling admission from the country’s top justice official, he said he had not received, nor had he asked for, a briefing on Russian intervention in the 2016 presidential election. He said he could not recall any conversations with Trump about the Russian role in the election throughout the transition period. Over the course of more than two and a half hours, Sessions faced a hail of questions about his meetings with the Russian ambassador to Washington during the campaign, his recusal from inquiries over possible collusion between the Trump campaign and the Kremlin, and his role in the firing of the FBI director, James Comey At one point, Sessions, formerly a senator for Alabama, complained: “I’m not able to be rushed this fast. It makes me nervous.” Some of the most heated exchanges were over his refusal to talk about White House conversations on the Russia investigation and Comey’s dismissal on 9 May, even though Trump has not invoked executive privilege. Democrats on the committee reminded Sessions he was under oath. “You are obstructing this congressional investigation by not answering these questions,” Martin Heinrich, a Democratic senator from New Mexico, warned him. Sessions insisted: “I am not stonewalling. I am following the historic practices of the department of justice.” A justice department official later confirmed that “declining to answer questions at a congressional hearing about confidential conversations with the president is long-standing executive-branch-wide practice,” citing a 1982 justice department memorandum. The memorandum gives the president the right to invoke executive privilege to cover “military, diplomatic or national security secrets” and a more limited privilege in keeping law enforcement investigations secret. So far Trump has not invoked executive privilege, but Sessions argued the president could do so at a later date. “I am protecting the right of the president to assert it if he chooses, and there may be other privileges that apply,’’ he said. “At this point, I believe it’s premature for me to deny the president a full and intelligent choice about executive privilege.’’ The frustration of the Democrats on the committee turned to disbelief when Sessions said that since being sworn in as attorney general in February, he had not received a briefing on Russian meddling in the 2016 election, despite a consensus among US intelligence agencies that it represented a significant security threat. “You never asked about it?” Angus King, an independent, asked. “No,” Sessions admitted. At the outset of the hearing, Sessions delivered a prepared statement denying any contacts with Russian officials about the campaign. “I have never met with or had any conversation with any Russians or any foreign officials concerning any kind of interference in any campaign in the United States,” Sessions told the senators. “I have no knowledge of any conversations held along those lines by anybody in the Trump campaign.” He added, his voice rising in indignation: “I was your colleague in this body for 20 years, and the suggestion that I participated in any collusion or that I was aware of any collusion with the Russian government to hurt this country, which I have served with honor for over 35 years, or to undermine the integrity of our democratic process, is an appalling and detestable lie.” At his confirmation hearing on 10 January, Sessions told the Senate: “I did not have communications with the Russians,” a claim that was later proved untrue when the Washington Post revealed he had had two meetings with the Russian ambassador to the US, Sergey Kislyak, during the campaign. Sessions argued that his statement at the confirmation hearing was not a lie because of the context in which it was made, under questioning by the Democratic senator Al Franken of Minnesota about collusion. “He asked me a rambling question that included dramatic new allegations that the United States intelligence community had advised President-elect Trump that ‘there was a continuing exchange of information during the campaign between Trump’s surrogates and intermediaries for the Russian government’,” Sessions said. [&'].....»»

Category: newsSource:  mindanaoexaminerRelated NewsJun 14th, 2017

Trump asked me to let Flynn investigation go – CNN News

Fired FBI Director James Comey aimed a dagger blow at Donald Trump Wednesday, saying the President had demanded his loyalty, pressed him to drop a probe into ex-national security adviser Michael Flynn and repeatedly pressured him to publicly declare that he was not under investigation. Comey magnified the political crisis engulfing the White House by releasing his opening statement ahead of a blockbuster appearance on Capitol Hill on Thursday. The dramatic document sketched a stunningly detailed account of Comey's intimate meetings with the President, included direct quotes from Trump and revealed the former FBI chief's discomfort with the President's behavior. The testimony appeared to bolster the case of Trump critics who believe that the President may have obstructed justice and abused his power in his dealings with Comey, who he later fired. Comey said that Trump asked him to drop FBI investigations into Flynn centering on his calls with Russian ambassador Sergey Kislyak during the transition, which eventually led to his dismissal as national security adviser after it emerged he had lied about the conversations to Vice President Mike Pence. Interactive: The many paths from Trump to Russia He wrote that Trump said: &'8220;'I hope you can see your way clear to letting this go, to letting Flynn go. He is a good guy. I hope you can let this go.&'8221; &'8220;I replied only that 'he is a good guy.'&'8221; Comey wrote, describing a private meeting with Trump in the Oval Office on February 14, then added: &'8220;I did not say I would 'let this go.'&'8221; The exchange took place after a meeting between Trump and senior intelligence and homeland security officials, after which the President asked to speak to the FBI Director alone. Comey said in his testimony that he understood the President to be requesting that he drop the investigation into Flynn, who had resigned the day before. But he says he did not understand Trump to be referring to the wider Russia investigation. &'8220;Regardless, it was very concerning, given the FBI's role as an independent investigative agency.&'8221; Trump critics contended that this encounter appears to be tantamount to an inappropriate pressure on the FBI by the President, an allegation that if proven could have dire consequences for Trump's presidency itself. Comey's account of this encounter conflicts with Trump's own statements. At a press conference on May 18, the President was asked whether he had asked the FBI Director to pull the plug on the Flynn component of the Russia investigation. &'8220;No, No, next question,&'8221; Trump said. &'8220;There is a criminal investigation going on of one of the President's top associations &' he gets fired, he is under under investigation and the President brings in the FBI Director and says 'please stop your investigation,'&'8221; said CNN's senior legal analyst Jeffrey Toobin. &'8220;If that isn't obstruction of justice, I don't know what is,&'8221; Toobin said. But Trump's defenders were quick to seize on the document as well, arguing that it supported Trump's claims that the former FBI chief had told him three times that he was not personally being investigated in the Russia probe. Comey wrote in his testimony that he twice told Trump he was not being investigated once before the inauguration and once when he was President and also said that he had told congressional leaders that the FBI was not &'8220;personally investigating President Trump.&'8221; Trump's camp argued that fact vindicated the President and sought to use it to sweep away the Russia questions that have been clouding his White House ever since the inauguration. &'8220;The President is pleased that Mr. Comey has finally publicly confirmed his private reports that the President was not under investigation in any Russian probe,&'8221; said Marc Kasowitz, Trump's personal attorney. &'8220;The President feels completely and totally vindicated. He is eager to continue to move forward with his agenda.&'8221; Trump's lawyer Michael Cohen told CNN, &'8220;Comey's statement released today needs to be carefully scrutinized as his testimony claims the president was concerned about the dossier.&'8221; The Republican Party also singled out the same helpful passages of Comey's testimony. &'8220;President Trump was right,&'8221; said Republican National Committee Chairwoman McDaniel. &'8220;Director Comey's statement reconfirmed what the president has been saying all along &'8212; he was never under investigation,&'8221; McDaniel said in a statement that did not mention the other aspects of Comey's testimony. The testimony was posted without notice on the website of the Senate Intelligence Committee, instantly electrifying Washington, which has been on edge for days ahead of Comey's planned testimony. The dramatic intervention was classic Comey: the towering FBI chief, branded a &'8220;showboat&'8221; by Trump, has a reputation for theatrical public coups, and his move will only intensify the anticipation for his appearance on Thursday. &'8220;The President feels completely and totally vindicated. He is eager to continue to move forward with his agenda.&'8221; Trump's lawyer Michael Cohen told CNN, &'8220;Comey's statement released today needs to be carefully scrutinized as his testimony claims the president was concerned about the dossier.&'8221; The Republican Party also singled out the same helpful passages of Comey's testimony. &'8220;President Trump was right,&'8221; said Republican National Committee Chairwoman McDaniel. &'8220;Director Comey's statement reconfirmed what the president has been saying all along &'8212; he was never under investigation,&'8221; McDaniel said in a statement that did not mention the other aspects of Comey's testimony. The testimony was posted without notice on the website of the Senate Intelligence Committee, instantly electrifying Washington, [&'].....»»

Category: newsSource:  mindanaoexaminerRelated NewsJun 8th, 2017

Cruz, Sanders face off on Obamacare – CNN News

Sen. Ted Cruz urged fellow Republicans Tuesday to quickly &'8220;honor the promises&'8221; the party made over the years to repeal Obamacare. &'8220;2010, 2014, 2016, I believe were a mandate from the voters. We're tired of the premiums going up. We're tired of deductibles going up,&'8221; Cruz said at a CNN town hall debate with Sen. Bernie Sanders over the future of Obamacare. &'8220;Should Congress move swiftly to repeal Obamacare? Absolutely.&'8221; Cruz and Sanders &'8212; two senators with diametrically opposed views of government's role in health care &'8212; faced off at the debate moderated by CNN's Jake Tapper and Dana Bash and featuring questions from an audience consisting of both defenders and critics of the Affordable Care Act. Cruz's call on his party to &'8220;repeal every word of Obamacare&'8221; came as the GOP is grappling with how quickly to repeal the law. The party hasn't yet reached a consensus on an alternative to the law. President Donald Trump said Sunday that a replacement plan may not be rolled out until next year. The GOP's incredible, shrinking Obamacare repeal The town hall debate underscored the many challenges surrounding efforts to dismantle the Affordable Care Act &'8212; a sweeping health care law that covers some 20 million Americans. The evening began with each lawmaker laying out starkly different views of the controversial law. &'8220;If you are one of 20 million Americans who finally has received health insurance, forget about it &'8212; you're gone,&'8221; Sanders warned about repealing Obamacare. &'8220;That means when you get sick, you ain't gonna be able to go to the doctor. And when you end up in the hospital, you'll be paying those bills for the rest of your life, or maybe you'll go bankrupt.&'8221; Cruz, a Texas Republican who made his name in national politics by fiercely opposing the health care law, said former President Barack Obama made a series of promises that were broken. &'8220;If you like your doctor, you can keep your doctor,&'8221; Cruz said. &'8220;Millions discovered that was not true.&'8221; Several policy questions are at the center of the ongoing battle about reforming Obamacare, including the popular provision to protect people with pre-existing conditions and the controversial mandate that nearly all Americans get coverage. Republican lawmakers are also wrestling with how to live up to their promises to make Obamacare more affordable and to reform Medicaid. The CNN debate highlighted how Republicans and Democrats fundamentally disagree on many of these issues. One woman in the audience, Neosho Ponder, spoke about her fight against breast cancer and said she was undergoing radiation treatment. Ponder expressed fear that without Obamacare, she wouldn't be able to afford health insurance. Cruz insisted that Republican lawmakers support prohibiting insurance companies from canceling coverage for someone just because they are sick. All GOP proposals that have been introduced to replace Obamacare with, Cruz said, &'8220;prohibit companies from jacking up the insurance rates because they got sick or injured.&'8221; Ted, I cannot believe what you just said. It's a direct contradiction of everything you ran for President on,&'8221; he said. &'8220;What Ted has said is he wants to get rid of all federal mandates. Did you say that a hundred times?&'8221; &'8220;I didn't say it once,&'8221; Cruz said. &'8220;Virtually all of the Republican legislation that has been filed — that the Democrats have opposed — maintains a continuity of coverage.&'8221; The issue of pre-existing conditions came up again when Maria Shahid Rowe, a woman who is five-months pregnant, said she was worried she wouldn't be able to get health coverage without Obamacare. Cruz responded that Democrats are mandating that people get &'8220;every coverage on earth &'8212; and it sounds really good.&'8221; However, &'8220;you should get the policies that meet your needs,&'8221; he said. Sanders shot back that before Obamacare, Shahid Rowe's pregnancy would have been treated as a pre-existing condition. &'8220;What Ted is really telling you is they will not guarantee coverage for you.&'8221; Another woman in the audience, Melissa Borkowski, told Sanders she simply can't afford the health services she needs. Burkowski recently had an abnormal Pap smear, but said she couldn't get additional tests because she hasn't met her out-of-pocket deductible. Her fear: that she may now have undiagnosed cancer. Sanders, who repeatedly stressed that Obamacare was far from perfect, said it is &'8220;totally absurd&'8221; that Borkowski has such an &'8220;outrageous deductible.&'8221; &'8220;If you were in Canada, you know what? You would get the health care that you need,&'8221; he said. &'8220;The idea that we have policies like that, like the one you describe, is clearly an outrage.&'8221; Cruz lamented that coverage choices have gone down &'8220;dramatically&'8221; since Obamacare became law. The senator, whose Canadian birthplace became a political controversy during his 2016 presidential run, also added: &'8220;Bernie mentions Canada quite a bit. I know quite a bit about Canadian health care. I was born there. You know Bernie, that may be the best argument against your position. Look what it produced.&'8221; Sanders joked as he gestured at Cruz: &'8220;Look what the result is.&'8221; Another key pillar of Obamacare that came up was the so-called &'8220;employer mandate&'8221; &'8212; the law's requirement that small businesses employing 50 or more workers to provide healthcare for its employees. LaRonda Hunter, who owns five hair salons in Texas, said she can't afford to provide coverage to her employees because of low profit margins and that the Obamacare rule is preventing her from growing her business. [&'].....»»

Category: newsSource:  mindanaoexaminerRelated NewsFeb 8th, 2017

‘I think it was Russia’ – CNN News

President-elect Donald Trump said for the first time Wednesday he believes Russia was responsible for hacking ahead of the election but contemptuously rejected allegations that Moscow mounted a campaign to compromise him. In his first news conference since winning the election, a combative Trump made clear he will not mute his style when he is inaugurated in nine days. He lashed out at media and political foes alike in a bravura performance. The Trump Tower press conference confirmed the President-elect's deep desire to quickly assert power once he's sworn in. He insisted on moving speedily &'8212; too speedily for some Republicans in Congress &'8212; to replace Obamacare. He also pledged swift action on building a wall along the border with Mexico and nominating a new Supreme Court justice. But it's also clear Trump will take office amid persistent questions about his relationship with Russia. While Trump was at the podium, his nominee to become secretary of state, Rex Tillerson, faced tough questions on Capitol Hill about whether the incoming administration will view Russia with sufficient skepticism. At the news conference, Trump finally conceded he believes Russian President Vladimir Putin's intelligence agencies were behind hacks on Democratic computers ahead of the election but argued that wouldn't happen again. &'8220;I think it was Russia,&'8221; Trump said. Putin &'8220;should not be doing it. He won't be doing it. Russia will have much greater respect for our country when I am leading it than when other people have led it.&'8221; Trump, who has vowed to improve relations with Russia despite some Republican opposition, said he did not know if he would get along with Putin and noted it's possible he won't. But he could not resist a swipe at his defeated Democratic election rival, Hillary Clinton. &'8220;Do you honestly believe Hillary would be tougher on Putin than me?&'8221; he asked. He added that Russia is not the only nation that hacks US targets and accused Democrats of not having sufficient cybersecurity programs. The news conference opened with the incoming White House press secretary, Sean Spicer, slamming a &'8220;political witch hunt&'8221; following reports that Russian operatives claim to have compromising personal and financial information about Trump. Vice President-elect Mike Pence also criticized the media before introducing Trump, who kept up his criticism of US intelligence. &'8220;I must say that I want to thank a lot of the news organizations here today because they looked at that nonsense that was released by maybe the intelligence agencies,&'8221; Trump said. He said any such move by the agencies would be a &'8220;tremendous blot on their record.&'8221; &'8220;A thing like that should never have been written, it should never have been had and it certainly should have never been released,&'8221; Trump said. The news conference follows exclusive reporting by CNN on Tuesday that classified documents presented last week to President Barack Obama and Trump included the allegations about Russia. The allegations were presented in a two-page synopsis that was appended to a report on Russian interference in the 2016 election and drew in part from memos compiled by a former British intelligence operative, whose past work US intelligence officials consider credible. Intel chiefs presented Trump with claims of Russian efforts to compromise him 01:38 The FBI is investigating the credibility and accuracy of these allegations, which are based primarily on information from Russian sources, but has not confirmed many essential details in the memos about Trump. The news conference, delayed from December, was scheduled for Trump to outline how he will address questions about possible conflicts-of-interest related to his vast business empire. Trump appeared beside a large pile of files he claimed were pertinent to the companies that are going to be placed in a trust to be run by his sons. He reiterated that he doesn't plan to release his tax returns, saying they are under audit and don't include relevant information After taking a handful of questions, Trump turned the event over to Sheri Dillon, an attorney who was on hand to discuss Trump's business interests. She said Trump planned to put in place a structure that will &'8220;completely isolate him from the management of the company.&'8221; &'8220;He further instructed that we build in protections that will assure the American people that the decisions that he makes and the actions he takes as President are for their benefit and not to support his financial interests,&'8221; she said. Trump will place all his financial and business assets in a trust, Dillon said. The Trump Organization, meanwhile, will not enter into any new deals abroad and all domestic deals will be subject to a heavy vetting process. The firm will also appoint a new ethics officer, she said. The President-elect has also terminated a number of deals set to close shortly, a step that had cost him millions of dollars, she said. Dillon argued that the decision had been made not to put all Trump's assets in a blind trust or to divest of all his assets because it would be impractical. She also said that Trump should not be forced to destroy the business that he had built up. &'8220;President Trump can't unknow he owns Trump Tower,&'8221; Dillon said, explaining why a blind trust would not be a workable solution to addressing conflicts of interest issues while he is President. Dillon said Trump would take other actions to avoid the appearance of a conflict over the Emoluments Clause [&'].....»»

Category: newsSource:  mindanaoexaminerRelated NewsJan 12th, 2017