The ASSOCIATED PRESS has an accusation against L.A. Clippers announcer Michael Smith that came absolutely out of nowhere:
Smith, 44, and his business partner Bruce Furst, 57, were charged Dec. 21 with felony grand theft, Orange County district attorney spokeswoman Farrah Emami said Wednesday. They also face sentencing enhancements for the amount of losses involved.
According to prosecutors, Smith persuaded his friend, a retired school teacher with an inoperable brain tumor, to put up his paid-off Dana Point home in January 2008 as collateral for a $735,000 loan, so Smith and Furst could develop land in Dana Point. Prosecutors said the pair lied and said the loan was safe and would be 100 percent guaranteed.
Smith and Furst, who both live in Laguna Hills, also failed to deliver as promised the $7,200 monthly mortgage payment the victim now must make on his house, prosecutors said. The victim is expected to lose his home.
Smith’s attorney has since responded to the charges, as Smith did himself upon arraignment today in Orange County Superior Court.
The Worldwide Leader dropped the bomb around midnight that Terrell Owens, whose given name could be Mercurial T. Owens, has been let go by the Dallas Cowboys. Clearly, anticipated chemistry issues with Jon Kitna forced the move. Kitna is on the record as preferring Sweet’n'Low while Owens is all about the Equal.
(”Ha ha ha ha… pack your stuff.”)
On SportsCenter last night, ESPN’s Michael Smith reported there would be significant financial penalties for the Cowboys to cut Owens as much of his 4-year, $34 million contract signed less than a year ago is guaranteed cash. We hope this means Owens will continue to have at least twenty million reasons to come back to camp this summer.
(Note to ESPN: Neil Everett is monumentally awful at ad-libbing. Never tell us how cool it is to be the one on the dais when news breaks. When a big story hits, break the glass on Bob Ley. Surprisingly good: Stuart Scott. Also, how did Ed Werder not break this story?)
(Note 2 to ESPN: Please remind Keyshawn Johnson that Charlie Manson comparisons may be a bit dated, not to mention a little racy.)
In brighter news, the Cleveland Cavaliers claimed the first musical chair in the Longines Symphonette that is the NBA playoffs with a 91-73 triumph at home against Milwaukee. The Cavaliers move to 48-12, which is exactly how LeBron James hopes his Knicks career starts in two years. (We kid, Cleveland, we kid.)
Then, when the Van Gundy with the honest living fussed about the sad little move, there was a Shaqhissy, captured on Miami’s 790 THE TICKET by Jorge Sedano and reproduced below in the popular MP3 format:
None of this, of course, helped the Suns win in Orlando or Miami. The Suns dropped their second Florida game in the “He Hate Me” series of former O’Neal teams last night in Miami, 135-129. No defense in here anywhere.
We feel compelled to note again that Shaq’s a complicated fellow. We recently saw him encourage his kids post-game to say hello to a fragile 7′ 6″ teen that sat near courtside after being featured on the local news the previous night. This was done under the stands with little fanfare, maybe a few dozen witnesses and none from the media.
When his young son was too shy to do so and tried to hide under Dad’s massive jacket, Shaq gently insisted until his son shook the adolescent hand. Shaq could relate to the teen’s condition better than nearly anyone on the planet and made sure that young man felt welcome. Also, Shaq showed his own son the importance of graciousness.
Shaq makes that gesture damned near every day of his life, often without credit. He’s also the same man that made the comments to the media above. He may have been compared to a meteorite by this author yesterday, but not in the most important way: Shaquille O’Neal is a force of nature. Try to comprehend him at your own risk.
Same for Terrell Owens. Same for LeBron James. Maybe not so much for Jon Kitna.
The biggest news out of the NHL trade deadline: Olli Jokinen moves from Calgary to Phoenix for a pretty bauble or three, allowing him to work for a team that has a half-decent chance of being solvent next season.
While things went very well for the Atlanta Falcons in the first week of the NFL season, they learned yesterday that things change quite a bit when you’re not playing the Detroit Lions. A week after quarterback Matt Ryan had an impressive NFL debut and Michael Turner ran all over, the Falcons were handed a big dose of reality with a 24-9 loss by the Tampa Bay Buccaneers yesterday. The devastation was enough to lead at least one Falcon to drinking.
Lawyer Milloy was arrested early this morning for speeding and driving under the influence.
Smith broke the news of the Atlanta Falcons hiring Mike Smith as head coach, which surprisingly didn’t sit well with the normally cheerful Lenny, who happens to be based in Atlanta. Pasquarelli reacted to the news in an ESPN.com piece on the new coach.
What a nice way of congratulating your ESPN teammate. We still can’t believe Dimitroff had the gall to leak his coaching choice. And who is Michael Smith to think he can actually make a living at reporting something like that!