This likely is not the lead story, but in my mind, anytime Bango blows his ACL by falling through the rim , I pledge to give him the pub he requires:
Bango, the Milwaukee Bucks' popular mascot, hurt his right knee during last weekend All-Star Weekend in Phoenix, and will need surgery in March.
The Bucks announced this afternoon that Bango will still be seen around the Bradley Center, but fans will miss his "gazelle-like dunks and agile maneuvers."
"He will miss few - if any - home games and the Energee! Dance team, Hoop Troop, Rim Rockers, Air Bango, Super Force and newly formed Bucks Wild! percussion drumline will continue to fill the court in support of Bango," the team announced.
The news that Bango had hurt himself represents the latest in a string of injuries affecting the Bucks. Andrew Bogut and Michael Redd are out for the season, and Luke Ridnour was out for several games.
OK. Now, on to the obligatory Jerry Speaks story:
In an interview that lasted more than a hour, Jones covered subjects ranging from the perks and experience of the new stadium to the draft, to Adam "Pacman" Jones to the '09 season to, yes, T.O.
Here are the highlights:
Why should fans be optimistic about the '09 season?
We'll get better quarterbacking. Tony (Romo) is early in his career. I'm not going to say that we're gonna have him for 16 games and through the playoffs. We all know the injury factor isn't something you can plan on. We need to do a better job when we don't have him at quarterback. Last year was a good experience for us.
Defensively, I think we've got a chance with some things that Wade is doing. We've got some things that will make us a better defense. Special teams, we did make a change there. We didn't go status quo. I think we'll be improved. It will be real nice to get our punter back. Everybody had injuries; we had some material injuries last year. I think it's not wise to say we're not going to have some injuries next year but maybe we won't have them impact us in some of the ways they did.
Do you need to find another quarterback, veteran or rookie?
It's a real priority for us to get where we'd like to be with our backup situation at quarterback. A real priority.
Not necessarily. A veteran may be too much of a veteran. You say, 'Well, you roll the dice a little bit and get by on two or three games.' You can make a case that you don't (win) a game you should have and it might have meant the Super Bowl. It could have meant that much to us to have won one of those games that we didn't win when we didn't have Tony. We were lucky to have won the one we did without Tony, frankly. We have to have improvement there.
Why don't you think the locker room issues are an issue?
I just don't. It's principally because I've experienced locker rooms that look
dysfunctional on the face of it and won world championships. In a pecking order of important things about your team, that is very low on the list. But our locker room issues did not impact in any way our 9-7 record and what we're doing. In any way. That's why I don't get uptight about it.
What is the high priority?
I think being as Romo-friendly as our team can be. Romo friendly means let's utilize his skills to the fullest and make sure everything we do maximizes his abilities
You hinted last week that you plan to keep Terrell Owens. Do you?
You got my drift. And that's all I want to say about that.
Romo echoed some things that Owens had said about the scheme and the offense last
season; are you concerned about that as it relates to Jason Garrett?
I know first-hand where (Romo) is with Jason, pointedly. I know where they are on a working relationship basis. OK? I know you don't have one sitting over here throwing one under the bus. That's just not happening. That's why I'm not concerned about it.
Does Wade need to be 'harder' or more disciplined?
Wade's style, and I'm talking about both directly with players but just his style as a coach, I've seen that win championships. What we need Wade to be is him. But I've seen him bite and bite good. It's a mistake for anybody that he won't and doesn't disagree with me. He can be none abrasive, but he can be very firm on his points.
Do players need to fear if they are late for a meeting or something there will be a penalty?
Yes. But do they need to feel that? Yes. Do they need to feel it more than they have in the past? I'm not agreeing to that. But is that an important aspect of being considerate to everyone else as far as meeting attendance or rules relative to how you monitor injury. I believe that very strongly. I think you have to have fines.
Because I know that most of our fans know that in order to manage a lot of people and certainly manage a team that discipline needs to be a part of it. I would hope that we can correct that perception. I don't believe that is the case or is going to be the case.
How do you correct that perception?
I'm not so sure about that. I don't want to go as far as announcing every fine we give. That violates some other things I'm not for.
Is the Cowboys' relationship with Pacman Jones done?
I'm not going to go far. That's pretty sweeping; it covers a lot. He's better off; we're better off him not being on our roster. We're better off.
You have free agents such as Kevin Burnett, Chris Canty, Zach Thomas and Keith
Davis. What are their chances of coming back?
I think every one of those you just mentioned I would like to think have a chance to be with the Cowboys. Rolling the clock forward, I would like to think the circumstances would be that we could figure out a way for them to be with the Cowboys.
You want them but, but the numbers might not allow it?
Are your draft priorities safety, linebacker, defensive line and backup offensive line?
Those could be special teams guys as well so I would certainly say those are positions that we would look to that could help us this year as well as be potential players for the future at those positions.
The Stars played their tails off last night, but the only thing that matters is if you can get that piece of vulcanized rubber over that goal line.
Were this boxing, the Stars would have won a split decision. But, it wasn’t boxing, so only the goals scored matter. And the Stars could score none of them.
This gets me thinking about how badly the Brad Richards injury is hurting the whole scheme of things, and with Mike Modano out last night, this looked a lot like a team talent-wise that might have to work hard to win the AHL title.
Regardless, with the deadline only 10 days away, is it time to discuss the Stars willingness to pull the trigger and get another piece to help push the team over the finish line?
There may be very few deals to be made, frankly, as all 15 seeds can still feel like they have a chance in the West, and why, then, would they make a trade with another team in the West?
But, let’s set that issue aside and just ask the question of whether ownership (Tom Hicks) has put a hard ceiling on the budget this year, or if desperate times call for desperate measures?
My rationale is this: In this rough economic climate, you can certainly understand Hicks’ reluctance to spend more after all he has poured into this team (taking on the Richards contract, the entire Avery debacle, etc.). But, the reality here is this: If you make the right deal, you insure the revenues of playoff hockey on a per game basis, and also on the premise that a playoff team reaps off-season credibility from its consumers in the form of season ticket renewals and other similar cash infusions.
If you don’t make a deal, you might miss the playoffs altogether. Of course, there are no promises either way, but if a team looked like a team that needed a little help from its owner, it might be the Stars right now, who face a stretch run that is awfully rough – without 3 of its best players being anywhere close to returning to the team.
Who is available is an issue – and so are what the costs would be from a player/draft pick standpoint, but the real question here is would this team be willing to pay the cash to bring in much-needed reinforcements right now.
It could surely help.
Speaking of, TSN offers 10 names that could move in the next 10 days …
Playoff races aside, there will be trades on Mar. 4 and based on the discussions taking place now we've compiled a list of the Top 10 most interesting trade possibilities.
No. 10 - Alex Kovalev. NHL executives are curious about his future in Montreal. If Bob Gainey wants to cut ties, there are teams willing to consider the risk.
No. 9 - The Oilers are believed to be one team interested in Kovalev and sources say Edmonton forward Erik Cole could be worked into a package as the Oilers search for a top line forward.
No. 8 - Chris Pronger. How the Anaheim Ducks play over the next two weeks will determine whether Pronger is truly in the mix. The most likely scenario is that the Ducks hold on to Pronger for their playoff push and reconsider trading him at the draft.
No. 7 - Ryan Whitney. With the return of Sergei Gonchar, the Penguins have a stockpile of blueliners and league sources say Whitney could fetch the quality forward Ray Shero is seeking.
No. 6 - Olli Jokinen. The Phoenix centre is available but NHL GMs wonder about a 10-year player who has never once been in the playoffs.
No. 5 - Jay Bouwmeester. The Panthers have talked to a number of teams and has a variety of trade scenarios to consider, but it's possible Bouwmeester has a change of heart and stays.
No. 4 - Nik Antropov may headline the parade of players out of Toronto. Brian Burke has established the asking price for Antropov - a first round draft pick.
No. 3 - Philadelphia prospect James van Riemsdyk. The University of New Hampshire forward, picked second in 2007, has been linked to Atlanta in a deal that would see a goalie going to the Flyers.
No. 2 - Thrashers goalie Kari Lehtonen is of interest to the Flyers. If Atlanta GM
Don Waddell continues to rebuild, swapping Lehtonen for a prospect such as Van Riemsdyk would have to be seriously considered.
No. 1 - Ryan Smyth. Colorada needs to cut payroll and Francois Giguere is talking to teams about Smyth. The Avs won't ask Smyth to waive his no-trade unless there's a decent deal tabled. Teams are working on their offers now.
These are big names that may require big deals for teams to pull the trigger. However, this list of 10 present some powerful possibilities.
BTW, Smyth is signed until 2012 – 3 years left for $16 million
Jokinen has one year left at 5.5 million
CBC’s Trade Deadline primer ….
NY Times Magazine story written by Michael Lewis on Shane Battier and NBA Statistics …
The best shooting season ever …
You could be witnessing the best free-throw shooting season in NBA history.
Take a look at the team free-throw rankings. Six teams are shooting better than .800 percent. That's never happened. The best ever is four teams in the 1990-91 season. "You told me something I didn't know," Heat coach Erik Spoelstra said.
Not only that, no team is shooting worse than .710 on free throws this season. That hasn't happened since 1992-93. The worst free-throw shooting team this season, Orlando, is making close to 72 percent of its free throws (.718).
The league leader, Toronto's Jose Calderon, is shooting .981. If he finishes the season anywhere near there, he'd smash the NBA's all-time best single-season mark of .958 by Houston's Calvin Murphy in 1980-81.
And get this: To break into the top 10 in free-throw percentage this season you have to be shooting at least .894. If it finishes this way, it'd be the highest minimum percentage ever to finish in the top 10. Currently it's .891 in the 1990-91 season. There's no athletic explanation for the improvements, although some have tried.
The Musers discussed this today; Where have the White American Hoopers gone? …
One of baseball's great concerns is the decline of African-American ballplayers, particularly in the inner cities. From a golden era in the 1960s when blacks formed the National League's core of stardom -- Willie Mays, Hank Aaron, Frank Robinson, Bob Gibson, Willie McCovey, Ernie Banks, Billy Williams, many more -- the percentage of African-Americans had dropped to just 9 percent over both leagues last season.
What nobody talks about -- probably because it just doesn't seem relevant -- is the decline of American-born white players in the NBA. Please understand that this isn't an issue, nor am I trying to make it one. The NBA hasn't been this interesting, with so many compelling story lines, since the days of Michael Jordan. It's just fact:
There isn't a single star, let alone a super-talent, among the NBA's 45-odd white players who were raised in America (as opposed to Dirk Nowitzki, Steve Nash, Manu Ginobili and others from foreign countries).
The only player even remotely close to the league's elite is Minnesota's Mike Miller, who had some big years in Memphis but is now averaging around 9 points per game and on the trading block. Otherwise, you're talking about Brad Miller, Kirk Hinrich, Jason Kapono, Kelvin Korver, Brent Barry, David Lee, Mike Dunleavy, that sort of thing, with some promise held for T-Wolves rookie Kevin Love.
What the hell happened? It's not like American kids stopped playing basketball. You want an investigation, go somewhere else; the league is doing just fine. It's a pretty staggering development, though, when you tap the memory bank. Going back 45 years, which steers clear of the George Mikan era but includes the days of Bill Russell and Wilt Chamberlain, here's a list of white American players who made the first, second or third all-NBA teams:
That reflects a 10-year drought -- or since Stockton made the third team in 1998-99. And it doesn't include the likes of Bill Bradley, Bobby Jones, Doug Collins, Jack Marin, Kiki Vandeweghe, Jeff Hornacek, Jack Sikma, Bill Laimbeer, Dan Issel, Brian Winters, Ernie DiGregorio, Rudy Tomjanovich, the Van Arsdale twins and Jeff Mullins, all of whom were far more influential than anyone playing today. Hell, you could almost throw Don Nelson in there.
Champions League Goodness ….
Sir Alex vs Jose!
If you love top-quality European soccer, then this is one of those weeks you dream about.
The UEFA Champions League returns to action on Tuesday as 16 teams do battle in home-and-home series to move on to the quarterfinals. In case you forgot (and it has been two months so don't feel bad) the draw for the Round of 16 set up a parade of tough match-ups featuring some contests worthy of being semifinals and finals.
Manchester United travels to Milan to face Inter in the best match-up of the round as Jose Mourinho and Sir Alex Ferguson renew acquaintances. Tuesday's dance card is filled with great match-ups, including Barcelona-Lyon and AS Roma-Arsenal.
Wednesday doesn't disappoint either, as Chelsea faces former manager Claudio Ranieri and Juventus while Liverpool and Real Madrid square off in a battle of second-place teams holding on to faint domestic title hopes.
Here is a rundown of all of the matches on Tuesday and Wednesday, along with the TV listings for each match:
(All times Eastern)
Manchester United at Inter Milan (2:30pm, ESPN2)
Barcelona at Lyon (2:30pm, ESPN Deportes, 5pm, ESPN Classic)
AS Roma at Arsenal (2pm, Setanta USA)
FC Porto at Atletico Madrid (11pm, Setanta USA)
Juventus at Chelsea (2:30pm, ESPN2)
Liverpool at Real Madrid (2:30pm, Setanta USA and ESPN Deportes, 5pm, ESPN Classic)
Bayern Munich at Sporting Lisbon (9pm, ESPN Deportes, 11pm, Setanta USA)
Panathinaikos at Villarreal (5:45pm, Setanta USA)
See me on Channel 4 …
Guerin – Great American