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Saturday, 6-Aug-2011 02:47 Email | Share | | Bookmark
Agent: Brett Favre is like Elvis Presley

Because everyone around Brett Favre(notes) loves the annual attention paid to the "will he or won't he?" game, the agent of the 41-year-old quarterback issued a loose denial of the all-time passing leader's interest in returning to football.
"Brett Favre's retired, that's all I can say," James "Bus" Cook told ESPN after a since-refuted report surfaced saying the Miami Dolphins were looking to bring back the legendary QB. "He's like Elvis now. People just won't let go."
People won't let it go? How about you won't give them a reason to let it go? So far as I know, Elvis and his people didn't cultivate the image that Elvis was alive every 12 months. I don't think Priscilla was out there winking and saying, "He's not living in Missoula, that's all I can say."
The Favre story is a story because nobody involved in Favre's camp is interested in giving it closure. Granted, even if Bus Cook came out and said, "He will never, ever, ever, ever return to the NFL, period," there'd still be a chance we'd hear Favre's name in this inglorious whispers for the next three offseasons. At least there would be a firm denial on record.
Maybe Favre is like Elvis, though. A few similarities:
1. Eats seven peanut butter and banana sandwiches before every game.
2. Shoots his television screen every time Aaron Rodgers(notes) appears.
3. Often begins picture messages with the opening lines to "Are You Lonesome Tonight?"
4. Will one day have Young Brett appear on a postage stamp instead of Old Brett.
5. Played so poorly last year because he was wearing a bejeweled, rhinestone jumpsuit under his uniform.

Wednesday, 13-Jul-2011 03:43 Email | Share | | Bookmark
Manchester City in no panic over selling Carlos Tevez

BBC Sport understands Tevez's latest request to leave City has left chairman Khaldoon Al-Mubarak "sanguine" about developments.

The club believe they are in a position of strength over any potential Tevez transfer and are in no mood to plead with the striker to stay.

Tevez is contracted at City until 2014.

A spokesman said: "Carlos is a contracted player to Manchester City for another three years and we have had no offers for him."

Tevez, 27, asked City for a transfer in December and while it now seems inevitable he will eventually move on, City are relaxed about the latest twist and are determined he will only leave when the time and price is right for them.

City boss Roberto Mancini insisted recently that Tevez would stay after a proposed swap deal with Inter Milan for striker Samuel Eto'o fell through - but there is still no great shock inside Eastlands after Tevez made his desire to leave public once again.

The Argentina international wants to be reunited with his family - with Milan believed to be a favoured destination - but there is unlikely to be a swift resolution with City determined not to be railroaded into a deal by the player and his advisors.

City's stance on Tevez is hardened by the fact that he is on a contract reportedly worth in excess of £200,000-a-week, while there is no pressing need for cash to flow into Eastlands given the vast wealth of the club's Abu Dhabi owners.

The cost of any Tevez transfer will limit the market, with Inter Milan sporting director Marco Branca recently insisting the Serie A club would not make a move because they were unable to afford the wage packet he was receiving at City.

Branca told BBC Sport: "Tevez is a great player, a great character, but absolutely no. His salary means it is out of the question. The market is crazy at the moment and it is hard to compete."

Wednesday, 6-Jul-2011 01:09 Email | Share | | Bookmark
Netball chief does not want men's competition

International Federation of Netball Associations president Molly Rhone (pictured on right) told Reuters that the key to getting on the Olympic programme was showcasing it at multi-sports events around the world.

Speaking on the sidelines of the 2011 World Championships in Singapore, Rhone said netball should be allowed to join synchronised swimming and rhythmic gymnastics as women-only Olympic sports.

"I don't think it (men's netball) has developed to the level where you would be seeing a World Championship," Rhone told Reuters. "But I will say it again, I really hope that it is not one of the criteria for being included in the Olympic programme.

"One of the five pillars of our strategic plan is having world class events, and that doesn't necessarily mean World Championships - that means at a national level, at a regional level so anywhere you see netball it is done in a very professional way."

Rhone said it was crucial for netball to boost its visibility by being included in more multi-sport events such as the All-Africa Games, for which it has recently been accepted.

"We are in contact with the IOC every year, we're a recognised sport and what we're trying to do is get into more multi-sports events," Rhone said during New Zealand's 80-25 demolition of Fiji in their opening match of the championships.

"When you take part in these multi-sports events then more people see your sport. The IOC get their people (to attend) who are voting on which sports should come in.

"There is a questionnaire that comes out, we fill it out every year, we have really good meetings with them every year. We just have to keep doing what we do well," the former Jamaican vice captain added.

Friday, 1-Jul-2011 01:53 Email | Share | | Bookmark
Wizards introduce 1st-round pick Jan Vesely

Jan Vesely is right where he wanted to be all along.

The 6-foot-11 forward from the Czech Republic was the sixth overall pick by Washington in the NBA draft last Thursday — and he couldn’t have been more thrilled during an introductory news conference.

“I’m happy to be here,’’ Vesely said Monday. “I hoped that Washington picked me.’’

He sure showed it, too on draft night. Vesely made some headlines when his name was announced and he passionately kissed his girlfriend Eva on television.

“All the news, nobody knows about the picks on draft night,’’ said Vesely, who wasn’t embarrassed by the attention the smooch got. “It was all about the kiss.’’

With Eva looking on Monday, the 21-year old Vesely was flanked on the dais by Wizards owner Ted Leonsis, coach Flip Saunders and general manager Ernie Grunfeld. Vesely and the Wizards knew a lot about each other because Washington had scouted him for several years.

“This is a very exciting day for us,’’ said Grunfeld, who envisions Vesely as being an ideal fast-break complement for speedy point guard John Wall. “(Jan) fits the mold of the type of players we’re looking for. We’re looking for players that play hard, that compete, that are team players. He also has a lot of experience.’’

Vesely averaged 10.3 points and 4.3 rebounds for Partizan in 26 games in the Adriatic League. In Partizan’s 15 games in the Euroleague, “The Flying Czech’’ — the nickname Vesely said was given to him while playing in Serbia — averaged 10.1 points and 3.6 rebounds.

Though he made 71 percent of his shots from the field in Adriatic League games, Vesely said improving his shooting before playing in the NBA was his top priority. Only a 55 percent shooter from the foul line, perhaps Vesely will be able to draw inspiration from another big man: Dallas’ Dirk Nowitzki — the NBA finals MVP whom he grew up studying.

“When I was kid, I was watching Dirk, his game,’’ Vesely said. “Now, I’m still watching Dirk.’’

One season after selecting Wall with the No. 1 overall pick and adding first-round picks Trevor Booker, Kevin Seraphin and Jordan Crawford, the Wizards drafted Vesely and Chris Singleton in the opening round last week. Former Butler guard Shelvin Mack was selected early in the second round.

“We promised that we would quickly rebuild the team using the draft as a platform for that change,’’ Leonsis said. “That’s our goal, to build a core of young players who go through the process of rebuilding together. I think the culture of the team will be dictated by these young players.’’

Monday, 27-Jun-2011 01:27 Email | Share | | Bookmark
Cavs pick Kyrie Irving first overall

Kyrie Irving headed to Cleveland as the No. 1 pick minutes after the NBA draft started.

Jimmer Fredette had to wait hours to officially become a member of the Sacramento Kings.

Plenty other players, from veterans to picks, were on the move Thursday night in a draft that was considered a dud talent-wise but certainly wasn't dull.
There was no chance the Cavs would deal Irving, confident his foot is healthy enough to lead the rebuilding effort that follows LeBron James' departure.

Loudly cheered by family and friends not far from where he starred at St. Patrick's High School in Elizabeth, the Duke point guard showed no signs of the toe injury on his right foot that limited him to 11 games last season as he walked up the stairs to shake hands with Commissioner David Stern.

“I didn't have any doubts about going to No. 1. I was looking to the organization to pick who they felt was the right choice,” Irving said. “But now to this moment, from being a fan of the NBA draft and now being drafted, it's a special feeling in my heart and knowing that my friends and family were together, it's a memory I'm going to remember for the rest of my life.”

After grabbing Irving with their first No. 1 pick since taking James in 2003, the Cavs used the No. 4 selection on Brampton, Ont., forward Tristan Thompson. They were the first team since the 1983 Houston Rockets with two top-four picks.

Thompson wasn't the only Canadian taken in the first round. The San Antonio Spurs took his Texas roommate Cory Joseph, a native of Pickering, Ont., with the 29th pick. It's the first time that two Canadians have been drafted in the first round.

Thompson became the highest Canadian draft selection of basketball's modern era. The six-foot-nine, 230-pound forward from the University of Texas, averaged 13.1 points and 7.8 rebounds in his first and only year playing in the NCAA.

“I need some more time for it to sink it, but it's definitely an honor and it shows how much the Canadian basketball culture has grown,” Thompson said.

The Toronto Raptors took 19-year-old Lithuanian centre Jonas Valanciunas with the fifth pick.

Valanciunas, a six-foot-11, 231-pound centre, is considered one of the top players in Europe. However, he is signed to a three-year contract with Lietuvos Rytas and a buyout would have to be arranged with the Euroleague club in order to bring him to the NBA.

“I can tell you that without question we have found a combination of the best talent and the best fit for this team,” Raptors GM Bryan Colangelo said.

A three-team trade that included Charlotte, Milwaukee and Sacramento that had been agreed to earlier in the day wasn't approved until midway through the second round, forcing Fredette to wait about 2 1/2 hours for his NBA destination to be determined after he was taken with the No. 10 pick by the Bucks.

“Took a little while waiting back there, but it's a great moment for me and for my family, and for the Sacramento Kings organization,” the player of the year from BYU said. “Hopefully their fan base is excited because I'm really excited to get out there and start the season with them and have a great year.”

A draft that included a record four international players who didn't play at a U.S. college selected in the lottery soon became dominated by deals, which the NBA was still hustling to approve and announce as the second round wound down.

Stephen Jackson, Corey Maggette and John Salmons were part of the three-way deal, and fellow vets such as Andre Miller, Rudy Fernandez, Raymond Felton and George Hill were involved in other trades.
The deals spiced up what was thought to be a lacklustre draft, which was missing its usual buzz with the NBA perhaps a week away from a work stoppage.

Three of the first six players taken were from Europe, capitalizing on the absence of some American college players who might have gone in their spots and made this a stronger draft.

Even Irving has international ties. He was born in Australia while his father, Drederick, played professionally there and said he might be interested in playing for the Australian national team.

The Minnesota Timberwolves took Arizona forward Derrick Williams with the No. 2 pick. The Utah Jazz then took Turkish big man Enes Kanter third with their first of two lottery selections.

The league's uncertain labour situation hung over the draft, and likely weakened it. Potential top-10 picks such as Jared Sullinger of Ohio State and Harrison Barnes were among those who decided to stay in school, without knowing when their rookie seasons would have started.

Stern, who could lock out his players next week if a deal for a new collective bargaining agreement is not reached, was booed when he came onto the stage at the Prudential Center, which is hosting the draft while its usual home, Madison Square Garden, is undergoing summer work.

New Yorkers made the trip across the river to join the sellout crowd of 8,417, cheering loudly when Kemba Walker and Fredette were taken in the top 10 and booing when the Knicks made Georgia Tech guard Iman Shumpert the No. 17 selection.

The draft was filled with little-known European players. Kanter hasn't played competitively in a year, forced to sit out last season at Kentucky after being ruled ineligible for being paid to play in Turkey. Lithuania's Jonas Valanciunas went fifth to Toronto and Jan Vesely of the Czech Republic was taken sixth by Washington.

“Basketball in my country is not so popular, but after this night, I think — I hope — that the basketball will be more popular,” Vesely said. “I will do my best to help that.”

Bismack Biyombo of Congo went seventh as one of six international players who went in the first round, three short of the record set in 2003. The 18-year-old forward moved to Charlotte as part of a three-way deal.

Kentucky's Brandon Knight went eighth to Detroit as casual fans finally heard a name they recognized again. He was followed by Walker of national champion Connecticut, who wiped away tears on the draft stage after he was taken by Charlotte, and Fredette.

“It's been like a movie. This whole year has been magical, honestly,” Walker said. “So many different, crazy things have been happening to me, and you know, I just feel lucky.”

Irving became the third point guard taken first in the last four years, following Derrick Rose in 2008 and John Wall last year. Rose was the NBA's MVP this season, ending James' two-year reign.

Irving insists he's not trying to replace James — whose highlights were booed when showed on the overhead screen — in a different manner now.

“I'm looking forward to getting to Cleveland,” Irving said. “It's a big sports town and I cannot wait to embrace all of the fans there and the fan support. I can't wait.”

Kansas twins Markieff and Marcus Morris went with back-to-back picks to round out the lottery. Phoenix took Markieff at No. 13 and Marcus followed to the Rockets.

Indiana took San Diego State's Kawhi Leonard at No. 15 and traded his rights to San Antonio for former IUPUI star George Hill. That started a number of trades at the bottom of the first round, including Boston and New Jersey swapping the Nos. 25 and 27 picks and a Minnesota-Houston deal that sent Jonny Flynn to the Rockets, according to a person with knowledge of the trade.

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