CEO: Clippers coach Rivers to quit if Sterling stays
LOS ANGELES (AP) The interim CEO of the Los Angeles Clippers testified Tuesday that coach Doc Rivers told him he will quit if Donald Sterling remains the owner of the team.
CEO Richard Parsons testified at a trial to determine whether Sterling's wife, Shelly, can sell the team for $2 billion to former Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer as the NBA looks to force Donald Sterling from the league over racist statements.
"Doc is troubled by this maybe more so than anybody else," Parsons said about Rivers, who is black. "If Mr. Sterling continues as owner, he does not want to continue as coach."
Parsons said he fears there would also be an exodus of key players, including team captain Chris Paul, who heads the NBA players union.
The judge stopped Parsons from giving an account of his conversations with Paul when an NBA lawyer objected over privacy issues.
Parsons is a former chief executive at Time Warner and Citigroup who took over leadership of the Clippers in May during the media blitz surrounding the banishment of Sterling.
Under questioning by Ballmer's lawyer, Parsons said the departure of Rivers would "accelerate the death spiral" of the Clippers.
"If Doc were to leave, that would be a disaster," Parsons said. "Doc is the father figure, the one who leads."
The discussion of Clippers players and coaches is new territory for the trial that has mostly explored the dealings between the Sterlings.
It wasn't immediately clear what effect the new information might have on the narrow question under consideration - whether Shelly Sterling can sell the team under the family trust.
Messages left for team officials seeking comment from Rivers weren't immediately returned.
Parsons, who is considered an expert in the management of major corporations, said he was certain that big corporate sponsors would pull out and season ticket holders would demand their money back if Donald Sterling remains the owner.
"If your coach leaves, if your players don't want to play with you, what do you have?" Parsons asked. "If your sponsors leave and the fans leave, it's going to spiral down and down."
Parsons also said he doesn't believe that anyone will offer as much money for the team as Ballmer. That opinion was seconded by witness Anwar Zakkour, an investment banker who helped broker the deal for Ballmer's purchase and said he never expected a bid so big.
Explaining why Ballmer would have bid over the value of the team, Zakkour said, "It was a trophy asset."
"This is the highest price ever achieved for a sports team," he said. "However way you count it, this is an amazing price that anyone should be satisfied with."
Parsons and Zakkour said that if the NBA seized the team and put it up for auction, the price would drop because there would be less certainty about the team's future.
Outside court, Sterling's lawyer, Bobby Samini, said the billionaire would persist in his opposition to the sale because "he feels he was wronged" by the NBA.
"He has no desire to destroy the team," Samini said. "He is fighting to protect his rights."
Later Tuesday, Sterling fired off another legal volley, filing a new lawsuit against his wife, the NBA and league Commissioner Adam Silver that alleges fraud, breach of contract, unfair business practices and infliction of emotional distress. He claimed, among other things, that he was tricked into being examined by psychiatrists to establish whether he was mentally competent.
The high-stakes financial fight centers on whether Shelly Sterling was authorized to make a deal with Ballmer on behalf of the Sterling Family Trust.
Outside court, Shelly Sterling's lawyer, Pierce O'Donnell, said Donald Sterling is being driven by "a perverted egotism."
"Right now, we're in the grips of Donald Sterling's craziness," he said.
Wed, 23 Jul 2014 03:16:00 +0000
Woods dealing with end of dominant days
Yes, I was surprised when Tiger Woods made his Very similar to what Phil does, comments about Rory McIlroy over the weekend at the British Open. I was not at all surprised that Woods feels that McIlroys game so far might resemble Phil Mickelsons more than his own. Thats a fair observation. I was not surprised by the points he made about McIlroys inconsistency the points seemed pretty sensible.
No, the shocking part was this: Tiger Woods said it.
In case you missed it, Woods was asked a little bit about Rory McIlroy as he blitzed the field and won the British Open. McIlroy became the third-youngest player to win three out of the four grand slam events behind Jack Nicklaus and, of course, Woods. There was a lot of history in the air.
The actual question to Woods was: What is it like to see Rory dominate in a way that only you have in a major like this? The question was, as we say in the business, a bit loaded. I suspect it was just a kinder way of asking, How does it feel to see, as the old king of golf, the new king?
Woods, I suspect, knew exactly what was being asked.
And his answer was plain: Well, as you can see, the way he plays is pretty aggressively. When he gets it going, he gets it going. When it gets going bad, it gets going real bad. Its one or the other. If you look at his results, hes kind of that way. Very similar to what Phil does. He has his hot weeks, and he has his weeks where he's off. And thats just the nature of how he plays the game its no right way or wrong way.
The answer was, as we say in the business, a bit loaded. It sure seems like what Woods was saying was: Look, Rory can get hot. Good for him. But dont go comparing him to me now. My game at its best was pure consistency. I won four major championships in a row. I won nine majors out of 30. His game is like Mickelsons brilliant some weeks, dreadful other weeks. Thats all well and good for him. But thats NOT how I played golf.
Like I say, it was a perfectly fair point. And it was refreshingly honest from a guy who doesnt often say whats on his mind. And it was also stunning because Tiger Woods in his prime NEVER talked honestly about other golfers. Not in public. It seems to me this answer says a little bit about Rory McIlroy. And it says a lot about Tiger Woods.
Before we get into all that, lets break down Rory and Tiger a little bit.
When Woods was 21 years old, he won the Masters with a record score.
When McIlroy was 22 years old, he won the U.S. Open with a record score.
OK, similar. What happened next? Woods made the cut at his next 10 major championships but he did not win any of them. He was in the process of rebuilding his swing so that it could take him to the next level, which is one of the more remarkable decisions in sports history. At a time when almost every golfer would have just let it ride after all, Woods was hitting it longer than anyone, higher than anyone, and he putted better than anyone he decided that he needed to be more consistent if he wanted to achieve his huge goals. Woods did not intend to win three major championships or five or even eight like Tom Watson did. No, he wanted 19. He wanted Jack.
In his 11th grand slam after the record-setting Masters, Woods finally won the PGA Championship. After that he contended at Augusta, then pulled off one of the most extraordinary feats in golf history by winning four grand slams in a row.
Now, what about McIlroy? After the U.S. Open, he was basically dreadful in his next five grand slams. He missed one cut and did not finish better than 25th in any of them. And then, seemingly out of nowhere, he ran away with the PGA Championship at Kiawah Island by eight shots. He followed that up with six more rather forgettable major tournaments (two back-ended top 10 finishes and one missed cut included) and then this past week he routed the field wire-to-wire to win the British Open.
So, on the one hand, Woods is right: McIlroy has been all over the place.
On the other hand, McIlroy has played 13 major championship since his breakthrough at the U.S. Open, and he won two of them. Woods, in the 13 major championships after his Masters breakthrough, won, yes, two of them. So, in the end, didnt they really accomplish the same thing?
Well, not exactly the same. Whats different is those tournaments they did not win. Woods was so much more present he had six Top 10 finishes aside from his victories and McIlroy had two. Woods did not come close to missing a cut, and McIlroy missed two. This is the consistency piece that Woods is talking about. Even before he raised his game to previously unseen heights, Woods proved that he was going to be there time and again, that was the defining essence of his golf. He did not HAVE bad weeks.
McIlroys game, like Woods said, is so much mercurial. Theres absolutely no way to know what will happen at the PGA Championship coming up. McIlroy might win by six shots. And he might miss the cut. Woods, not surprisingly, does not have much use for that kind of game.
But thats the easy part of all this we know that McIlroy has not figured out how to harness his great talent tournament after tournament. Maybe he will become like Mickelson not thats theres anything wrong with having a Hall of Fame career like Phils. But thats also not a fair comparison, and Woods knows it. Mickelson did not win his first major championship until he was 34, and that age is still almost a decade away for McIlroy. Mickelson did not win the third leg of the grand slam until he was 43. McIlroy has more major championships at 25 than Tom Watson did, than Arnold Palmer did, more than Gary Player and Ben Hogan and Sam Snead combined. His inconsistency may be a lasting part of his game. Then again, it might not. He might just be figuring things out. Id bet on his future.
Meanwhile, theres Tiger Woods, closing fast on his 39th birthday, coming off his worst weekend finish ever at a major. He barely made the cut and then played dreadfully over the weekend; 64-year-old Tom Watson not only beat him but beat him by five shots. Of course, this was just Woods second tournament back after a three-month layoff to recover from a pretty serious back injury. There were a few promising signs (like his solid first round) and so there are reasons to not put too much stock into the performance. Still, in golf, the scoreboard does not equivocate: Woods: 69th place.
And his subtle jab at McIlroy (and his longtime nemesis Mickelson) does say something. According to those who have found themselves close to Woods, his disdain for Mickelsons sporadic game and boisterous personality has always been there. But he would never have said anything about it publicly because to say something publicly would be acknowledge that he actually THOUGHT about Phil Mickelson. And this was something Tiger Woods could not acknowledge.
See, Tiger Woods at his peak was unreachable. He was untouchable. His only rival was himself. Whatever he did in the first or second round of a major, he always said: I feel like Im in good position. No matter how many shots back he was, he always just wanted to play my game. The only thing that mattered to Woods about other golfers was that if you put enough pressure on them, they would eventually crack.
Of course, he did not say that. He did not have to say that or anything else. He knew. They knew. And, as the old line goes, he knew they knew. And they knew he knew they knew.
Im convinced the young Tiger Woods would have brushed off the Rory McIlroy question. He would have said something like, Hes a great young player and hes having a great week, and left it at that. He would not have wanted to make any points about McIlroys inconsistency. He certainly would not have felt it necessary to drudge up Phil Mickelsons inconsistency.
So why did he do it? Two thoughts come to mine. One thought is simply that Woods, at age 38, is beginning to embrace his role as the face of golf. Arnold Palmer Gary Player Jack Nicklaus Tom Watson Nick Faldo these guys were asked a million questions about every golf thing you could imagine. These included questions about the promise of every young player who came along and questions about every rival who was trying to take their place at the top of the world. Woods never cared much for those questions. More than that, he never seemed they were appropriate.
This time, though, he answered the question. He gave an honest assessment of McIlroys erratic game. He was careful to say he wasnt judging (its no right way or wrong way) but he was willing to say what he thought needed to be said: When McIlroys good, hes good; but thats not everything.
The second thought is that Woods is beginning to understand what has become impossible to ignore: Hes not going to ever dominate the golf world again. He will win again, he will probably win a major again, but the Tiger Woods who separated himself from the world, who played in his own stratosphere, that golfer is not coming back. The injuries, the scars, the years will not let him come back.
Rory McIlroy is a better golfer than Tiger Woods now. He hits the ball longer, he hits it higher, he hits it straighter. Woods has more experience and a magical short game, but the experience gap shrinks and the best pressure putting stroke since Nicklaus begins to shake slightly. Woods used to intimidate golfers who believed him to be unwavering but theyve seen waver. Woods used to take leads into Sundays and slam the door but the Sunday leads are tougher to build.
And all these things, I imagine, are difficult for a one-of-a-kind athlete to process. It has been more than six years since Tiger Woods won a major championship. Rory McIlroy was not there in 2008 when Woods won the U.S. Open on one leg. McIlroy was a 19-year-old kid just starting as a professional. He has lived a lot of life in those six years. And when someone asked Woods about Rory McIlroy dominating the way he dominated, Woods offered a stunningly personal response. Hey, Rorys inconsistent. Hey Rorys like Phil. I wasnt like that.
Heres what I think he was saying: Dont write me off yet.
Tue, 22 Jul 2014 21:14:50 +0000
Headley wins it in 14th inning of Yankees debut
NEW YORK (AP) Chase Headley came through with a storybook swing at the stroke of midnight in his Yankees debut, hitting a game-winning single in the 14th inning to give New York a 2-1 victory over the Texas Rangers on Tuesday night.
Derek Jeter broke Lou Gehrig's franchise record for doubles, and the Yankees won an unlikely pitching duel after both rookie starters entered with a 5.10 ERA.
J.P. Arencibia snapped a scoreless tie with a leadoff homer in the 13th against New York reliever David Huff, but the Yankees responded with Brett Gardner's leadoff double and Jacoby Ellsbury's tying single off closer Joakim Soria in the bottom half.
It was the second blown save in 19 chances for Soria, who kept Texas in it by getting Brian McCann to ground into an inning-ending double play with runners at the corners.
Wed, 23 Jul 2014 04:18:00 +0000
Andre Johnson's holdout could cloud Texans camp
HOUSTON (AP) As the Houston Texans prepare for the start of training camp on Saturday, their biggest question mark involves a player who probably won't be there when they take the field.
Disgruntled receiver Andre Johnson skipped offseason workouts and mandatory minicamp after wondering in May if Houston was "still the place for me."
A holdout by the face of the franchise and the team's longest-tenured player could cast a pall on the beginning of coach Bill O'Brien's first season.
O'Brien has tried to downplay the situation so far, but that tact will be much more difficult if Johnson's holdout stretches much longer.
Johnson joined the franchise in its second season and has said that playing on just three teams with winning records in 11 seasons "can become very frustrating."
The Texans were among the favorites to reach the Super Bowl entering last season after reaching the playoffs the previous two years.
But things quickly fell apart due in large part to poor play by quarterback Matt Schaub, coach Gary Kubiak was fired in December and they finished 2-14 to tie the worst record in franchise history.
The 33-year-old Johnson, whose 1,407 yards receiving in 2013 ranked second in the AFC, is unhappy at the prospect of enduring another rebuilding project after seeing the moves the Texans made in the offseason.
If they can't get him back on the field it will leave a big hole in O'Brien's new offense and put much more pressure on last year's first-round pick DeAndre Hopkins.
Here are some things to know about the Texans as camp begins.
CLOWNEY'S HEALTH: Jadeveon Clowney, the top overall pick in this year's draft, may not be ready to practice on the first day of training camp after having sports hernia surgery in June.
O'Brien said that he expected Clowney to be ready for training camp when he disclosed the procedure on June 13. But the former South Carolina standout told reporters recently that he isn't sure if he'll be cleared to practice by Day 1. Training camp will be important for the former defensive end who is making the transition to outside linebacker in defensive coordinator Romeo Crennel's system.
O'BRIEN'S TEAM: O'Brien returns to the NFL for his first head coaching job in the league after spending the past two seasons coaching Penn State. He took over the Nittany Lions in the wake of the Jerry Sandusky child sex abuse scandal and led the team to winning records in both 2012 and 2013 before being hired in Houston. He comes to the Texans with a reputation as a quarterback guru after spending three seasons working as Tom Brady's position coach with the Patriots.
FITZPATRICK TAKES OVER: Houston traded Schaub to Oakland in the offseason and signed veteran free agent quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick, who was selected as the starter during minicamp by O'Brien. Fitzpatrick started nine games for the Titans last season after Jake Locker was injured, but there are questions about whether he's the answer to Houston's quarterback woes.
"He does a good job of controlling the offense and ... getting together with other groups and trying to let them see everything through the quarterback's eyes," quarterbacks coach George Godsey said. "I think he's done a good job of trying to keep that steady."
They also have Case Keenum, who started eight games last season after Schaub was benched, and drafted Tom Savage in the fourth round of this year's draft.
CRENNEL'S RETURN: Crennel returns to coaching for the first time since he was fired as coach of the Kansas City Chiefs following the 2012 season. He inherits a defense that features 2012 Defensive Player of the Year J.J. Watt and should get a boost with the return of middle linebacker Brian Cushing, who suffered a second straight season-ending knee injury in Houston's seventh game last year.
Crennel's excited about coaching again and said at age 67 the most important factor was the people he'd be working with.
"We all want to win, but if you've got good people and you can work with good people that makes the job easier," he said. "I felt that the people were good people and that I would enjoy working with them. That made it easier for me to come and give it a shot."
CAN FOSTER RETURN TO FORM: Arian Foster has recovered from back surgery that ended his season in 2013 after eight games. He participated in minicamp and the Texans are counting on him to return to form this year. Before the injury shortened season he ran for at least 1,200 yards in three straight seasons, highlighted by his breakout 2010 season when he rushed for an NFL-leading 1,616 yards.
Wed, 23 Jul 2014 00:10:00 +0000
Report: Cavs to sign Wiggins amid Love rumors
CLEVELAND (AP) Andrew Wiggins will sign his rookie contract with the Cavaliers. It's still not clear if he'll play for them.
A person familiar with the negotiations says the Cavs will sign the No. 1 overall pick to his deal, an agreement that would prevent any potential trade involving the small forward from being completed for 30 days.
The Minnesota Timberwolves and Cavaliers have been discussing a potential deal that would send All-Star forward Kevin Love to the Cavaliers for Wigging, Anthony Bennett and other pieces. The person familiar with the talks says Wiggins will sign with Cleveland as early as Wednesday. The person spoke to The Associated Press on Tuesday on condition of anonymity because the team is not commenting on its plans.
The Cavs and Timberwolves have had ongoing discussions about a trade for Love since before Cleveland selected Wiggins first in May. The Timberwolves have always insisted that Wiggins be involved in any package, a stipulation the Cavaliers initially resisted.
To help in their pursuit of Love, the Cavs traded guard Carrick Felix to Utah on Tuesday for three players with non-guaranteed contracts.
Cleveland acquired guard John Lucas III and forwards Malcolm Thomas and Erik Murphy from the Jazz in exchange for Felix, a second-round draft pick and cash considerations.
The trade will allow the Cavs to clear $3.3 million in salary cap space, room to potentially sign Love or other players.
Wiggins' inclusion in any deal has been a sticking point for the Cavs.
Last week, two people familiar with the discussions said the team was not willing to include Wiggins in a deal. But as talks continued this week, the Cavaliers have softened their stance on including Wiggins, who played well during the team's summer league in Las Vegas, to try and get superstar LeBron James another veteran All-Star teammate.
The Cavs have considered acquiring Love and teaming him with James, who recently announced he was returning to Cleveland and signed a two-year, $42.1 million deal with the team. With Love, James and All-Star point guard, Cleveland would have a "Big 3" comparable to what Miami had in James and All-Stars Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh.
The Timberwolves have also had discussions with the Chicago Bulls, Boston Celtics and Golden State Warriors, among other teams, in recent weeks as they entertain offers for Love, who can opt out of his contract next summer and has told Minnesota he wants to play for a contender.
Signing Wiggins to a contract wouldn't necessarily prevent a trade from eventually happening. Under league rules, Wiggins cannot be officially traded for 30 days after he signs. But the Timberwolves and Cavaliers could come to some sort of agreement before that end date and then execute the trade after the window closes.
Signing Wiggins could make a trade easier to complete. League rules require teams that are at or over the salary cap to exchange packages of similar dollar values when they make trades. Before Wiggins signs a deal, he has a contract of $0, so his inclusion does not help the Cavaliers get closer to the $15.7 million value they would receive with Love's contract.
But when he does sign, Wiggins will have a value of around $5.5 million, which would get the Cavaliers a big step closer to the 80 percent of Love's contract that they need to reach to make any deal conform to league rules.
Having to wait that long to finalize a deal does complicate the negotiating process, with both teams leery of the other backing out during that monthlong moratorium.
If the Timberwolves and Cavaliers do come to an agreement, the trade could evolve into a three-team deal. The Wolves have been searching for another team to bring another established, veteran player to the package while potentially moving guard J.J. Barea or other contracts to create room for the incoming players.
Wed, 23 Jul 2014 00:50:00 +0000