Owners of Hawks approve plan to sell team

Owners of Hawks approve plan to sell teamOwners of Hawks approve plan to sell team

Thabo Sefolosha

The owners of the Atlanta Hawks said on Thursday they have unanimously approved a plan to sell the franchise, a move triggered last year by a racism controversy.

Bruce Levenson vowed to sell his majority interest in the club last September after his email became public in which he made racist remarks that included “the black crowd scared away the whites” at Phillips Arena.

The Hawks announcement comes less than a year after the National Basketball League forced owner Donald Sterling to sell the Los Angeles Clippers because of racial comments he made.

Several groups are interested in buying the Hawks and Goldman Sachs and Inner Circle Sportswill advice the team owners on the sale of the franchise and other assets.

“The Atlanta Hawks today announced that its owners have unanimously approved a plan to sell the franchise and the Philips Arena operating rights,” the team said in a statement. “The sale will commence immediately.”

Among the interested groups, according to the Atlanta Journal Constitution, are former NBA star Grant Hill, former Toronto Raptors President Bryan Colangelo and billionaire businessman Sheldon Adelson.

NBA spokesman Mike Bass said the team will remain in Atlanta, regardless of buys the team.

“The Atlanta Hawks are not moving to another market,” Bass told Reuters.

An investigation that uncovered Levinson’s email began after Hawks general manager Danny Ferry made racist remarks about African-born British NBA forward Luol Deng.

During a conference call discussing the team’s free agent options, Ferry said Deng “has a little African in him” and “he’s like a guy who would have a nice store out front and sell you counterfeit stuff out of the back.”

In the wake of the controversy, Levinson said he would sell the team.


Former Microsoft official Steve Ballmer bought the Clippers last year for $2 billion after Sterling was forced to sell the team for making racist comments.

The Hawks’ price tag is expected to be appreciably lower despite a nine-year, $24 billion broadcast and digital rights package that the NBA struck last year with ESPN and TNT.

Anne Torres, a spokesperson for Atlanta Mayor Kasim Reed, called Thursday’s announcement to sell the team “an important milestone.”

“The mayor is confident that a well-qualified group will purchase the team and bring an end to this unfortunate chapter for the Hawks organisation,” she said.

January 9, 2015 By : Category : English featured NBA 0 Comment

East leaders come from Canada

East leaders come from Canada

A combination of managerial and playing factors is making the Toronto Raptors a team to beat in the NBA. They continue to justify their playoff aspirations, and have become a serious Eastern Conference contender.

On the sideline, Coach Dwane Casey masterminds a Raptors (24-7) roster, which has registered, so far, half of the victories accomplished last season (48-34) with only one-third into the current regular-season.

In front office, General Manager Nigerian-born Masai Ujri and his staff keep bringing stability and attract local fans to the Air Canada Centre arena in Toronto, which continues to register record sellouts.

On the court, the Raptors’s season has been marked by an impressive tenacity and unselfishness.

The Toronto Raptors are not the No 1 team in the East by accident.

A 110-98 victory at Los Angeles Clippers on Saturday that ended the Clippers eight-game home winning streak, boosted the Canadians’ credentials, although they will be put to the test again at Portland on Tuesday – in their last game of the calendar year, before taking on the league leading Golden State Warriors on Friday.

Even though the team’s All-Star DeMar DeRozan has been sidelined since a 106-102 defeat against Dallas on 28 November, the Raptors continue to play solid and consistent basketball.

Surprisingly, or maybe not, the Raptors are 9-2 against Western Conference teams this season, having lost to Dallas and the Los Angeles Lakers.

The Raptors average 108.5 points per game, second highest in the NBA behind Dallas (109.5), however, taking on the Trail Blazers on Tuesday, will be a tough challenge, not only because Portland is the No 2 in the Western Conference, but also because they lead the league with 46.6 rebounds per game.

LaMarcus Aldridge, Portland’ leading scorer, is expected to return after missing a couple of games with an upper respiratory illness.

Raptors’ togetherness and team effort have played a part in the team’s current run.

For the team’s leading scorer Kyle Lowry, they “are a full team.”

He said; “It’s all about the next man up. We’re a very deep team.”

“I mean, we need DeMar back, we want him back and we can’t wait for him to get back. But for now, we can’t make excuses because DeMar’s not playing.”

With Jonas Valanciunas taking care of the boards – he averages a team-high 8.8 rebounds per game -, and Venezuelan Greivis Vasquez providing 3.5 assists per contest off the bench, the Raptors seem to be a transformed team from the one that fell short in the first round of playoff series last season.

From starters to the second unit, Casey’s team has become a tough team play against.

“That’s the biggest thing about this team,” Vasquez said.

“We’ve got a great bench and we feed off of each other.

“It may not show in the stats, but a lot of different guys do a lot of different things. The second (unit) doesn’t get as much credit as the starters, but we don’t care.”

The Raptors have scored 114 points per 100 possessions in their 15 games without DeMar DeRozan to bump the Mavericks from the top spot in offensive efficiency.

December 31, 2014 By : Category : English featured NBA 0 Comment

Clippers hold on to beat Pacers

Chris Paul

Chris Paul

Chris Paul tallied 17 points and 15 assists to lead the Los Angeles Clippers to their ninth straight win with a 103-96 victory over the struggling Indiana Pacers on Wednesday.

DeAndre Jordan delivered 12 points and 19 rebounds while Jamal Crawford came off the bench to score 18 in the victory in front of a crowd of 16 392 at the Bankers Life Fieldhouse arena.

“We are just playing the right way and sharing the ball,” said Paul. “It is not easy on the road, but we pulled it out.”

Blake Griffin scored 17 points with 10 rebounds for the Clippers who kicked off a three-game National Basketball Association road trip with the win.

C.J. Miles led all scorers with 30 points off Indiana’s bench. The Pacers reserves scored 66 points in their sixth straight loss.

Lavoy Allen added 14 points and 13 rebounds in a reserve role and he was joined by Luis Scola, who finished with 12 points and 14 rebounds.

Indiana also suffered a 108-92 loss versus the Atlanta Hawks Monday.

The Pacers had won three straight against the Clippers but two of those victories came last year when they had a healthy Paul George in the line-up.

Behind by 17 points entering the final quarter, the Pacers chipped away at the Clippers’ lead. Miles scored eight points in a 12-4 surge to cut the deficit to 86-77.

With two minutes left in regulation, Allen’s jumper pulled Indiana within two. Crawford answered with a jump shot at the other end, then Miles’ missed shot from beyond the arc. Griffin sank one of two free throws and Indiana couldn’t muster any offence from there.

“It was basically a replay of the first half. The starters come in and get a big lead, and the second unit comes in and loses it. The starters have to hold on, and fortunately, they were able to do it,” said Clippers coach Doc Rivers.

Los Angeles next visits Washington and Milwaukee on their road trip.

The Clippers are playing well at home and on the road, closing out a perfect four-game home stretch at Staples Centre with Monday’s thrilling 121-120 overtime victory over the Phoenix Suns.



December 12, 2014 By : Category : English featured NBA 0 Comment

LeBron ties record, Cavs win

LeBron James

LeBron James

LeBron James hit a crucial three-pointer with 48 seconds remaining and the Cleveland Cavaliers edged out the Toronto Raptors 105-101 on Tuesday night, extending their winning streak to eight games.

The win not only confirmed the Cavaliers (13-7) as the Central Division leaders ahead of the Chicago Bulls (12-8), but it also marked the day James tied Mark Price for the franchise record for 3-pointers at 802.

“For a guy who came out of high-school, and they said he could not shoot, I have done some work. I have been blessed. My teammates have given me an opportunity to make those shots. It is always great,” said James who poured in a game-high 35 points.

Toronto led by 11 heading to the final quarter, before the Cavaliers bounced back with a 17-4 run midway through the final quarter as Kyrie Irving sealed the victory from the line.

“The way we responded throughout adversity,” James insisted, “it is going to be key for our team for a long time.”

For James, there is still a lot of work to do. “It is good for us. As a young ball club we need this type of challenges. We have a lot of work to do still.”

Kyle Lowry, who was named the Eastern Conference Player of the Week, had 16 points and a game-high 14 assists, Lithuanian Jonas Valanciunas and Terrence Ross finished with 18 points apiece for the Canadians.


December 11, 2014 By : Category : English featured NBA 0 Comment

Spurs snatch victory from James again

LeBron James

LeBron James

The San Antonio Spurs continued their success over LeBron James-led teams by edging the Cleveland Cavaliers 92-90 behind Tim Duncan’s double double and a key forced turnover by Manu Ginobili.

Duncan delivered 19 points and 10 rebounds and Boris Diaw also scored 19 points on Wednesday for San Antonio who posted their fifth victory in the last six games.

“It is a big one,” Duncan said. “A great victory on the road against a very talented team.”

The Spurs literally snatched the victory from the James’ hands Wednesday as they forced the Cleveland star to commit a turnover on the Cavs’ final possession of the game.

Ginobili scooped up the ball and ran out the clock for the defending champion Spurs in front of a crowd of 20 562 at Quicken Loans arena. James finished with 15 points and nine assists in 34 minutes of playing time.

The Spurs defeated James and the Miami Heat in five games to claim last season’s NBA title. James left the Heat in the off season to re-join his hometown Cavaliers.

NBA finals MVP Kawhi Leonard finished with 12 points and 10 rebounds and Cory Joseph came off the bench to score 10 points in the win.

“We are still trying to get ourselves together,” Duncan said. “We are not playing very well right now and we are missing some guys.”

Anderson Varejao tallied 23 points and 11 rebounds and Kyrie Irving scored 20 in the loss.

Ginobili split a pair of free throws to stake the Spurs to a 92-90 lead with nine seconds left before James lost the ball near midcourt.

Varejao rebounded Ginobili’s miss and James dribbled behind his back as Ginobili lunged for it, but he lost the ball off his left hand as he attempted a crossover.

Ginobili then threw the ball into the air from the left corner of the three-point line with no time left in regulation.


November 21, 2014 By : Category : English featured NBA 0 Comment

NBA Africa seeks to develop Rwandan basketball

Espoir’s shooting guard Pascal Karekezi, left, attended the Basketball without Borders programme in 2011

Espoir’s shooting guard Pascal Karekezi, left, attended the Basketball without Borders programme in 2011

 NBA Africa has expressed support in developing Rwandan basketball according to the continental vice president Amadou Gallo Fall.

Speaking recently to local media, Gallo said, “We know that there is a lot of interest across the region. We were in Kigali three years ago with Luol Deng (Miami Heat) for Sprite clinics and we saw a lot of passion in the young people that we had in the camp.”

“The Rwanda Basketball Federation is very dynamic and we want to be part of that. We definitely realize the potential that is in this region and we are looking forward to starting programs and continue to take steps to grow the sport here,” he explained.

As one of the most successful countries in the East and central African region, Rwanda has represented the Zone 5 area four consecutive times at the FibaAfrobasket championships including the 2007, 2009, 2011 and 2013 editions.

NBA Africa set up an office in Johannesburg, South Africa in 2010 headed by Amadou, who had earlier worked as the vice president of international relations at the Dallas Mavericks.

His vision in Africa was and is still to grow the game at the grassroots level on the continent and has so far seen tremendous success.

Through the Basketball without Borders (BWB), a global basketball development program set up by the NBA and FIBA, NBA Africa has been able to promote the sport and encourage positive change in the areas of education, health and wellness.

PheniasBagabo represented Rwanda this year at the BWB in Johannesburg and notably national team shooting guard Pascal Karekezi attended the 2011 edition.

November 11, 2014 By : Category : English featured NBA 0 Comment

The LeBron James Factor And NBA Television Ratings

LeBron James

 How we consume sports on television can be a funny thing when it comes to measuring it. Numbers are numbers, but when Nielsen releases them, context is often missing.

Television is drastically changing. Or rather, the consumption of what was once the single domain of television is changing to streaming content to PCs, smartphones, and things like Google’s Chromecast in competition for the traditional TV.

And, each sport is a different animal. As we just saw with the 2014 World Series, if there isn’t compelling games, ratings will suffer. Major League Baseball has more weight placed on compelling play, rather than stars. For the NFL, it’s practically a wash. Sure, you want a star quarterback in the Super Bowl, but ratings will always be high for the game given its exceptional event quality.

And then there’s the NBA.

Out of the Big-4 sports in North America, the National Basketball Association is the one most keenly tied to its stars. Television ratings ebb and flow with which marquee players are in the NBA Finals, more than any other.

Which brings us to LeBron James.

King James is the league’s biggest star. He is seen, not only in games, but as a pitch man for a litany of companies. How LeBron goes drives how the NBA goes.

This is a large reason why the ratings for the last two NBA Finals were so robust. There are stars on every team, but there are very few super stars that can push the needle upward like LeBron James.

The true litmus test for this has been his return to Cleveland. In no other sport could such a radical swing in fan interest be created by just one player. Ask yourself, with possibly Peyton Manning the exception, what player could go to the Indians or Browns and be so incredibly impactful at not only the gate, but on television and in the sponsorship space?

While the 2014-15 NBA season is just now underway, we’re already seeing the LeBron effect on national television ratings.

Opening Night in the NBA on TNT saw a 48 percent drop in ratings and a 49 percent drop in viewership from last year. This year saw a 1.5 rating with an average of 2.3 million for the national broadcast compared to a 2.9 rating with 4.5 million viewers last season. Why the difference? It wasn’t because it went up against a World Series game (although that certainly was a factor). It was because the Cleveland Cavaliers and King James weren’t part of the programming.

Yet, on the second night of Opening Week of the NBA on TNT, the Cavs played the New York Knicks, and ratings were, as expected, high. That game pulled a 2.6 rating with an average of 4 million viewers, up 50 percent over the comparable telecast window last season which saw the Chicago Bulls play the Knicks for a 1.8 rating with 2,643,000 million total viewers.

Just how much of an affect did LeBron’s return to Cleveland have compared to overall regular season ratings on TNT? The telecast was up 117 percent in U.S. household rating and 111 percent among total viewers compared with TNT’s average audience for an NBA regular season game last year (1.2 U.S. HH rating; 1,870,000 total viewers).  The telecast – peaking with a 2.9 U.S. HH rating and 4.5 million total viewers from 10:30-10:45 p.m. – earned a 27.2 metered market rating in Cleveland and a 7.0 local rating in New York.

The Knicks/Cavs telecast also registered significant growth across all key demos including a 56 percent increase in People 18-49 and a 60 percent improvement among Men 18-49 over the same telecast window in 2013.  The Cavs-Knicks game on the second night of the NBA regular season was up 116 percent among People 18-49 and 122 percent in Men 18-49 over TNT’s average demos for the NBA regular season last year.

This is both good and bad, or more correctly, adds context. Flatly looking at the numbers and saying this year or that shows overall interest or decline in the NBA does not paint the picture properly. The NBA is so tightly tied to its super stars to generate interest that who is in game, outweighs the team that is competing. Ask yourself what the ratings would have been if LeBron doesn’t go back to Cleveland and it’s the same matchup.

For the NBA and its broadcast partners, no one thing drives viewership like super stars. If the Cavaliers miss the playoffs, and let’s say, it’s the Spurs again against say, the Knicks (I’m simply using that team as it’s in the league’s biggest market with Carmelo Anthony as a star), is there little doubting that ratings will be down considerably, even with New York in the mix?

Where LeBron James goes, so goes the NBA… and the television ratings.

November 4, 2014 By : Category : English featured NBA 0 Comment

Spurs coach Popovich savours fifth NBA title

The San Antonio Spurs.

The San Antonio Spurs.

Gregg Popovich thought he had seen it all in his 17 seasons as a coach in the National Basketball Association.

 That is until his San Antonio Spurs exploded in the opening half of game three of the NBA finals, shooting a finals record 76 per cent.

 “I don’t think we’ll shoot 76 per cent in a half ever again. That’s crazy,” Popovich said.

 For a coach who often rebuffs interviewers with surly one-word answers, Popovich’s impromptu answer was refreshingly out of character.

 But make no mistake, behind that gruff exterior is a coach who knows how to motivate and cares immensely about his players. The 65-year-old Popovich is a great decision maker who led the Spurs to the fifth title in franchise history Sunday as San Antonio wrapped up a five-game victory over the Miami Heat.

 The Spurs stomped the two-time defending NBA champion Heat in the 2014 finals, shooting a finals record 52.7 percent from the field overall.

 They put together two straight blowout wins in games three and four on the road before returning home to clinch the series with another lopsided 104-87 win.

 This season Popovich has been able to mould the raw talent of Kawhi Leonard into the MVP of the finals. He also took Charlotte Bobcats castoff Boris Diaw and fit him perfectly into the Spurs’ system.


 “As time evolves and you get older in the business you figure out what’s really important, and you don’t waste time trying to make people what they’re not going to be,” Popovich said.

 “You’ve just got to figure out who people are and what they can give you and take advantage of their positives.

 “You learn that you can’t make everything the way you think you might. You can’t make somebody great, so you don’t waste your time. You make a trade. You get rid of somebody.

 “You make sure you’re bringing people in who fit in all the areas you want. Competitiveness and team play.”

 Popovich likes to tell the story of when Manu Ginobili first arrived in San Antonio.

 “I’ve learned to shut up more, and that probably is due to Manu Ginobili,” he said. “When he first came I was going to make him a heck of a player.

 “And after 20 minutes I realized that he didn’t need me to do that. He was already a heck of a player.

 “Sometimes being quiet and letting the player play is much more important than trying to be Mr. Coach and teach him this or teach him that.

 “I didn’t make him a competitor and there is no way I could make him a non-competitor.”

 Popovich believes communication is the key to any good relationship between coach and player.

 “You take somebody like Danny Green, who we’ve worked with for a long time and actually cut him twice,” Popovich said. “When you see somebody develop and come into his own, you feel like you did something worthwhile.

 “So it’s one of the sources of satisfaction in the business, if you can see a young player grow and become confident.”

 This year Popovich led the Spurs to a NBA best 62-20 record, extending their streak of winning at least 50 games to a record 15-straight seasons.

 Popovich had guided the Spurs to six NBA finals appearances.


Popovich was named the NBA’s coach of the year in April. It is the third time he has earned the award, joining Pat Riley and Don Nelson as the only coaches to receive the Red Auerbach Trophy three times. He also won the award in the 2002-03 and 2011-12 seasons.

 Popovich is the longest tenured active coach in the NBA, but in 1999 there were calls for his ouster after the Spurs got off to a rocky start to the lockout-shortened season.

 San Antonio had lost five of seven including back-to-back double digit losses to Utah and Seattle.

 The Spurs eventually turned it around, going on a 15-2 run in the playoffs. They topped it off by beating the New York Knicks in five games for their first NBA title.

 Popovich says NBA owners are often too quick to pull the trigger on coaches when teams get off to poor starts or don’t live up high expectations.

 “Guys get fired every year who are good coaches and it has got nothing to do with what they know or don’t know,” Popovich said.


June 19, 2014 By : Category : English NBA Tournament 0 Comment

NBA – Pacers too good for Celtics

NBA - Pacers too good for Celtics

Indiana Pacers forward Paul George {24} drives baseline
against the Boston Celtics

Paul George scored 24 points and guard Lance Stephenson had a triple-double as the Indiana Pacers defeated the Boston Celtics 106-79 to improve the best record in the Eastern Conference.

Stephenson finished with 12 points, 10 rebounds and 10 assists, his second triple-double in two games against the Celtics this season.

Pacers forward Danny Granger, playing just his second game this season after sitting out with a strained left calf, scored 12 points and made four of five three-pointers off the bench.

Indiana (22-5) won their second game in a row after losing three of five.

The blowout followed a 114-81 victory over the Houston Rockets on Friday.

Avery Bradley scored 13 points and Jeff Green and Courtney Lee scored 11 points apiece for the Celtics (12-17), who entered the game tied for the Atlantic Division lead.

December 24, 2013 By : Category : English featured inthespotlight NBA 0 Comment

San Antonio Spurs rebound with convincing win over Orlando Magic

m_San Antonio Spurs rebound with convincing win over Orlando Magic

Tim Duncan.jpg

The San Antonio Spurs bounced back from their first NBA defeat in nearly a month with a convincing 109-91 victory over the Orlando Magic on Friday.

With San Antonio’s All-Star point guard Tony Parker resting a sore ankle, Tim Duncan and reserve shooting guard Marco Belinelli led a balanced Spurs attack with 19 points apiece.

Duncan connected on 8-of-13 shots from the floor and added a game-high nine rebounds, while Italy’s Belinelli shot 4-of-4 from three-point range.

Duncan scored 17 of his 19 points in the first half, when the reigning Western Conference champion Spurs took control of the contest with a run of 17 straight points in the second quarter.

Their comfortable cushion allowed the 37-year-old Duncan to sit out much of the second half — a useful rest with the Spurs due to host the Houston Rockets in San Antonio on Saturday.

Cory Joseph started in place of France’s Parker and contributed 13 points for a Spurs team who had suffered just their second defeat of the season on Wednesday at Oklahoma City.

That defeat by the Thunder snapped the Spurs’ 11-game winning streak.

The Magic were also without their starting point guard as Jameer Nelson was sidelined by a sprained foot.

In his absence Victor Oladipo delivered 15 points and three blocked shots, and Arron Afflalo led the Magic with 17 points.

December 1, 2013 By : Category : English featured inthespotlight NBA 0 Comment