The cutting axe was wheeling in Detroit earlier today when the Pistons fired Coach Mike Curry. It looks as if that the Pistons are trying to heal the bleeding and start their rebuilding process, which started with the Chauncey Billups trade, a sub-par .500 record and a sweep by the Cleveland Cavaliers in the first round of the playoffs. That ouster by the Cavaliers ended the Pistons’ six year streak of making it to the conference finals.
Team president for basketball operations, Joe Dumars recentlt spoke about bringing back Curry for next season, but changed his mind about the fate of his former Pistons teammate after further consideration.
“This was a difficult decision to make,” Dumars said in a statement. “I want to thank Michael for his hard work and dedication to the organization. However, at this time, I have decided to make a change.”
Pistons spokesman Kevin Grigg said the timetable for naming a new coach was up in the air. “Obviously with the free agency period starting Wednesday, July 1, 2009, we don’t know quite the speed of it,” Grigg said.
Another ex-Pistons player and former Dumars teammate, Bill Laimbeer, stepped down in June as coach of the WNBA’s Detroit Shock, saying he wanted a shot at coaching in the NBA. Laimbeer did not immediately respond to an e-mail messages seeking comment.
The Pistons began the season with big hopes but couldn’t recover from the loss of All-Star point guard Chauncey Billups in a November trade to Denver for Allen Iverson — a move intended to feature Iverson’s creativity and create time for emerging guard Rodney Stuckey.
Instead, the Pistons fell apart. They won just three games in February and three in April, plummeting to the final spot in the Eastern Conference playoff seeding and a no-win matchup with LeBron James and the Cavs.
The playoff series loss ended a dominant run: The Pistons and the Magic Johnson-led Los Angeles Lakers are the only franchises to play in six straight conference finals since 1970-71, when teams had to win two series to advance that far.
Immediately after the season, Dumars defended Curry. “It was an up-and-down season for him,” Dumars said then. “And, an up-and down-season for us. … The fact that we made so many changes for a first-year coach, I had to step back and be a little more patient than I have been. … I tried to put myself in his shoes.”
Dumars last week started rebuilding the roster. The Pistons may very well part with unrestricted free agents Rasheed Wallace and Antonio McDyess, and they picked up forwards Austin Daye, DaJuan Summers and Jonas Jerebko in last week’s draft.
Last year, Dumars fired coach Flip Saunders after he led the team to the conference finals in each of his three seasons. Curry was an assistant under Saunders for one season. The Pistons also parted ways with Hall of Fame coach Larry Brown in 2005 after he helped them win a title and almost repeat during his two years with the team. Rick Carlisle was fired after two years with the Pistons following an conference finals appearance in his second season and NBA Coach of the Year honors in his first.
Curry, who played for the Pistons in 1995-1997 and 1999-2003, started his playing career as an undrafted free agent during the 1993-94 season in Philadelphia and ended during the 2004-05 season with the Indiana Pacers.
Near the end of his playing career, Curry headed the NBA players’ association, leading it from 2001-2003. He later served as the NBDL’s vice president for player development and the NBA’s vice president for basketball operations.
With the recent developments at Wimbledon, it would seem like the stage is being set for an all Williams final. As earlier today five-time champion Venus Williams overpowered Agnieszka Radwanska 6-1, 6-2 to move on to the semifinals in royal fashion.
Williams who over powered her opponent, hitting shots from all over the court, proving that she is a stalwart on grass. Although Venus wore a brace on her left leg, she did not skip a beat, slamming over 29 winners in stark comparison of the six winners her opponent offered up.
Both players endured the red hot sun, in a match which lasted little over 60 minutes. “I can’t complain,” Williams said. “I’m in the semifinals of Wimbledon, right where I want to be. I just need to take another step forward.”
Williams raced to a 5-0 lead against Radwanska, and finished off the first set with back-to-back aces. Williams dropped only two of 18 points on serve in the set.
Radwanska managed to win the first two games of the second set, but Williams regained command and ran off six straight to finish the match, ending with a clean forehand winner.
Serena Williams, a two-time Wimbledon champion herself, was due up later on Centre Court against 19-year-old Victoria Azarenka of Belarus. The sisters have met in three Wimbledon finals, including last year, and are on course for a fourth title meeting.
“That would be fantastic,” Venus said. “That’s what Serena and I are hoping for.” Venus Williams is trying to become the first woman since Steffi Graf in 1991-93 to win three Wimbledon titles in a row.
Only once in the last nine years has there been a Wimbledon women’s final that didn’t feature at least one of the Williams sisters. The sisters were the only two Grand Slam winners left in the women’s field — Serena has 10 major titles and Venus seven.
An all Williams finals, is what the fans back home are hoping for too, so we will continue to be the cheering force behind the sisters, although deep down inside I am rooting for Venus.
The Houston Rockets had better throw a dinner party for all the players; so that they could serve up some good food with the bad news the team received on center Yao Ming’s left foot injury. According to reports, this injury could be severe enough to hold out the big man next season, and could even be career threatening. Ming will know the severity of the injury upon completion of the selected treatment method, which will be used.
According to Rockets’ team physician Tom Clanton, the injury has the potential for him missing this next season and could be career threatening. “One of the things we are trying to get is a consensus opinion on that, to make certain there is no option we are overlooking that would provide an earlier return or would be an option for treatment that he would prefer rather than doing additional surgery.”
Clanton, responding to a story on Yahoo Sports that reported that the Rockets and Yao representatives are concerned Yao will never play again, said that Yao could choose to try again to immobilize the foot in the hopes that the hairline fracture of the tarsal navicular bone would heal on its own, as several of his previous bone injuries have and doctors expected this time.
Rockets general manager Daryl Morey said that he would not comment until he knows all the facts. Yao is scheduled to meet with several specialists to consider a wide variety of options. Clanton declined to say what option he expects to recommend. Because Yao is entirely asymptomatic, there remains a hope that additional time in a boot or cast could allow the bone to heal on its own.
Yao had a pin inserted in the foot in February 2006 and was ready to play in the Olympics in less than six months, and in 77 regular-season games last season. Clanton, however, said there is concern that a more extreme procedure might be warranted, even though his current injury is considered less severe.
If Ming misses the entire season, we can safely say that the Rockets luck out on the deal involving Shaq. Although it is not clear whether Shaq would have elected to go to Houston in a trade. Even though Houston has managed to win without Ming, he is an integral part of their team. Hope he gets well soon.
Former Miami Heat Center Alonzo Mourning will bring his game back to the Miami Heat, but this time as a front office personnel. Mourning is in the process of cementing a deal with the Heat that will allow him to work in a player development role, serving as a mentor to the young players on and off the court.
This announcement came during a Miami Heat team golf charity event here in Miami. Heat president Pat Riley confirmed through a team spokesman that plans are in the works to give Mourning an official front-office capacity.
”We are in discussions with Mourning, and in the stage of forming a long-term relationship,” Riley said Friday. Mourning’s duties have yet to be defined, but it is he likely that he would work with young players, draft picks and free agents to help them adjust to the franchise and living in South Florida.
Mourning also would serve as a liaison to help assist Heat players in community activities and charities. Mourning is expected to earn a salary, and is likely to travel with the team and assist the coaching staff.
Mourning, 39, officially retired in January after playing 15 seasons. He was a seven-time All-Star and was twice named NBA Defensive Player of the Year. Mourning helped the Heat win an NBA title in 2006. He sustained a career-ending knee injury in December 2007 against Atlanta.
Mourning retired as the Heat’s all-time leader in points, rebounds, blocks, minutes and games played. In March, he became the first Heat player to have his jersey retired when his No. 33 was raised to the rafters. Mourning has been heavily involved in charitable and political activities throughout his basketball career.
Mourning has maintained an almost daily presence around the team since he retired. But his hiring comes a month after the Heat dismissed about 20 employees in business operations amid budget cuts. Mourning’s position is considered a separate basketball operations position.
Long before Oprah Winfrey, Tiger Woods, Samuel L. Jackson, Danny Glover, Venus Williams, Serena William or Michael Jordan, there was the pop icon, the musical ambassador, the gloved one – yes Michael Jackson.
So today as we mourn the death and loss this musical superhero, lets take a moment in silence for this gentle giant and a musical pioneer, but lets not forget during that moment, that he was a father, a son, a brother, an uncle and a friend.
Now is not the time, to celebrate his down falls, but rather, we must embrace the good he has done for humanity through his music and charity. Lets remember how this son of our very soil brought dance and pop music to every corner of the eastern and western world. Let raise our hand in solidarity for every child, and all the other causes that his donations have helped.
Lets recall where we were, when we first heard: Beat It, Thriller, Human Nature, Ben or Dirty Diana. Lets whistle, lets hum to his tunes and for one moment in time, set our mind, body and soul at ease, because we were a part of his musical journey.
They say life is not a destination, but a journey, and Michael Jackson made his way around the corners, curves and speed bumps of his life. He left us behind as fans wishing he had giving us more of himself, but seriously what else could we have asked of a man whose music transcends race, class and creed.
He was a soft-spoken man, who for most of his life lived an existence, which was enriched, but similarly impoverished. He was a king in his own right, but was deprived of the simple things our children now takes for granted. He was forced to live and make his own happiness, which in itself is an arduous task.
So today Michael wherever you are, may you no longer struggle to be understood, I hope you find the peace of mind you so diligently sought to find, and may you find friends among the angels.
My duty to you was as a fan, so I thank you for the many years that I was able to turn to your music, when I need to the comfort just to be happy. Thank you the lyrical contents and the arrangements they were like no other. Most important rest in peace MJ – you deserve it.
Golf legend Seve Ballesteros announced the launch of his cancer foundation Thursday, making first appearance before the press after undergoing brain tumor surgery nine months ago.
“I want to do my bit to battle this disease,” Ballesteros said at a reception in a Madrid hotel. Elegantly dressed in suit and tie and giving the thumbs-up salute to photographers, a smiling Ballesteros thanked doctors at Madrid’s La Paz hospital and all those who supported him during his ordeal.
“Just nine months ago my life was hanging by a thread,” the 52-year-old Spaniard said.
“I am a lucky man, I have a second opportunity and my desire is to help others,” he said while presenting the Seve Ballesteros Foundation to help fight cancer. Looking a little thinner but nonetheless in remarkably good shape and spirits, he was accompanied at the reception by two of the doctors that operated on him.
“I contributed my part through my strength as a sportsman, which is what they (the doctors) said, but if they had not been around I would not be with all of you today. So, many thanks,” he said to resounding applause.
Ballesteros won three British Opens and two Masters titles, and had 50 victories on the European Tour. He captained Europe’s Ryder Cup team to victory over the United States in 1997.
He underwent four operations on a malignant brain tumor between Oct. 6 and late December, when he was released from La Paz hospital. He subsequently underwent chemotherapy treatment. He said his thoughts were with people going through traumas like his.
“My message is that there is no secret in life at all. All you must do is fight, fight, fight and be consistent and in the end you will be a winner,” he said. “In the end, you have to have luck and luck comes to those who fight.”
He said he is back to playing a little bit of golf and that recently one his sons, Javier, beat him. “But I will beat him. I just need a bit of training,” he remarked.
Regarding his future, Ballesteros said he was going to dedicate his time to his children, the foundation and giving lectures but would also continue designing golf courses.
The Seve Ballesteros Foundation is aimed to contribute to cancer research, particularly the treatment of brain tumors. It will also help young golfers with financial problems so that they can practice the sport that gave Ballesteros so much success. As golf fans, avid players and humanitarians, we applaud Seve for his courage and determination in his fight.
The city of New York just has not been good to the world’s number one golfer this week. Hot off the course at Bethpage Black, or shall we say luke warm, Tiger Woods paid a visit to NBC funnyman and host of the Late Show Jimmy Fallon.
Woods was put to the test by Fallon, in a do over fashion, to replay Bethpage Black and was basically sent to school by Fallon. The two squared off in Times Square on the newest version of Woods’ video game, “Tiger Woods PGA Tour ’10” by EA Sports on a virtual Bethpage Black that was no kinder to Woods than last week’s waterlogged version.
The three-hole match was decided early: Woods double-bogeyed the first hole, Fallon birdied the second and the virtual rout was on.
“Nerds everywhere rejoice,” Fallon deadpanned after his victory. “This competition was not about winning or losing, it was about me winning.”
Dubbed the “Throwdown in Midtown” by Fallon, the 30-minute exhibition to launch the new game shut down half of Broadway at rush hour. The other half was done in by a city crew painting the street red. Seemed about right.
Red is Woods’ color of choice on Sunday, and was his mood when he bolted Bethpage Black on Monday. It had nothing to do with horrid traffic or weather delays or U.S. Golf Association dogma. For the second consecutive major Woods’ putter let him down at last week’s U.S. Open. He needed 120 putts to cover 72 sloppy holes and finish tied for sixth, compared to winner Lucas Glover’s 116 putts. The margin between the two? Four strokes.
Woods was in much better spirits after his loss to Fallon than he was when he frowned his way out of Long Island. “It’s about how I played in the (U.S. Open),” he smiled. “I got schooled at my own game.”
Woods will get a rematch. He’s scheduled to be a guest on the Late Show Thursday and a “Throwdown II” was assured, but Fallon wasn’t worried.
“He needs to change his attitude,” Fallon said. “He walks around like he’s the best player in the world.” But no doubt Tiger will bring his “A” game to the rematch, come on Tiger I am rooting for you. Did some say Fore? I am out of here to get my Tiger Woods Game, looks like the only way I would beat him.