Does Anyone Want the Top Pick in the NBA Draft?

Ricky Rubio and his agent, Dan Fegan, have started applying the pressure on NBA teams to ensure he ends up in the best possible media market. Because he still has to spend his own cash to get out of his Spanish contract, he has the leverage to return to Europe if the “wrong” team drafts him.

Memphis Grizzlies

(Why would anyone not want to play in Memphis?)

Therefore, Memphis and OKC can just draft around him. Instead, Fegan (who failed to stop Milwaukee from drafting Yi Jianlian but got him moved to the NYC market eventually) wants his client in L.A. or Sacramento to get at that California cash.  Sacramento drafts fourth, but haven’t the Clippers promised to take Blake Griffin with the first pick? Rubio couldn’t end up in L.A. still, could he?

He could, as it turns out.

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Speed Read: D.R. Series Rocked By Bizarre Forfeit

I don’t have spectacular Spanish skills, and the Google translator always leaves me with more questions than answers, but it appears as if some wild stuff is going on in the Dominican Baseball League’s championship series. Wild enough that Gigantes del Cibao were forced to forfeit their game with Licey of Santo Domingo, putting them behind 3 games to none in the best-of-9 title series (nine games?). The league features many current and former major leaguers, and the winner of this series moves on to the Caribbean Series.

Dominican baseball

During Wednesday’s Game 2, Gigantes second baseman Felix Martinez hit into a routine groundout, then inexplicably lost his mind and nearly attacked the home plate umpire. Again, since I couldn’t understand the commentary over the video footage I wasn’t quite sure what was going on, but it looked like the Gigantes were a little miffed about the guy’s strike zone. Martinez actually charged the ump and appeared as if he was going to tackle him, but seems to have thought better of it and changed his course at the last second. He was ejected from the game, and suspended for the rest of the series. I have manged to put together a Zapruder-esque still from the horrible streaming video feed of the game:

Dominican world series

(Martinez is on the right, being restrained by a teammate. This is after he nearly lit up the umpire on the dead run from first base)

This brings us to last night. Gigantes thought that the umpiring crew might forget that they had tossed Martinez from the series, so they decided to pencil Martinez into the lineup as if nothing happened. The umps were not amused, and said he couldn’t play. Gigantes decided that if Martinez couldn’t play, that the rest of them wouldn’t play either. So they left. The umpires forfeited the game to Licey, who stuck around to entertain the crowd by playing a game of something called “flip.” Can you imagine if this happened here? If, like, Evan Longoria got suspended for some reason during the World Series and Joe Maddon tried to play him anyway? And then they forfeit the game and the Phillies stick around and play Guitar Hero on the jumbotron with the Phanatic?

Ironically, Licey is managed by Jose Offerman, who has some experience in getting suspended for doing stupid things on a baseball diamond:

Jose Offerman

Many, many thanks to THREE DAYS OF CRYIN’ for piecing the situation together.

Back to America, where the NBA All-Star starters were announced yesterday. And the league narrowly averted an awkward situation. Injured age fraud Yi Jianlian, who’s averaging 10 points a game with the Nets, finished third in the Eastern Conference fan voting for forwards. Had he somehow overtaken Kevin Garnett, David Stern might’ve informed Yi that he would be injured until at least the end of February whether he liked it or not. Either that, or Stern would’ve had to name the chair that guarded Yi during his pre-draft workouts to the West team to even things out.

Yi Jianlian

It should also be noted that Bruce Bowen came rather close (only about 68,000 votes) to overtaking Amare Stoudemire for a starting spot on the West squad. That actually would’ve been great to see. He may have become the first All-Star to ever get flagrantly fouled by a teammate.

The only fan choice who could be considered objectionable is Allen Iverson, who seems to be hurting the Pistons more than he’s helping. The rest of the selections are completely justified. Dwight Howard was the only player to get more than 3 million votes.

• You may have noticed that last night’s Purdue-Minnesota game was called by the now completely unintelligible Brent Musburger and one Mr. Robert Montgomery Knight. RUMORS AND RANTS sure noticed, and reminds us that even though the Boilers won the game, their fans probably had the TV on mute for most of it, given Knight’s long-standing disdain for West Lafayette.

• For no reason whatsoever, here’s footage of American Gladiators host Mike Adamle belly-flopping off a 10-meter diving board after Ahmad Rashad wussed out and wouldn’t jump. Thanks to NESW SPORTS for this one.

• A New York Giants wide receiver was shot in the leg and hand yesterday. No, not that one. It was Taye Biddle. I know, I had the same reaction you did: Who?

• The thing I remember about Marc Iavaroni when I was a kid was that he always started every game for the Jazz and played like 5 minutes, then got subbed out for Thurl Bailey and barely saw the floor again.  Well, somebody locate Thurl because Iavaroni’s just been yanked from his job coaching the Grizzlies.

• ONLINE SPORTS GUYS says a high school football coach in Kentucky has been charged with reckless homicide over the death of a 15-year-old player who collapsed during a practice. The lesson in all of this? Don’t ever coach youth sports, because if one of the kids collapses you’ll probably end up being held responsible for it (though I admit I don’t know the facts here, so maybe the guy was horribly negligent).

• Rejoice, Mets fans: Freddy Garcia is here to save the day.

• It was pretty evident that Jeff Garcia didn’t think too highly of ex-coach Jon Gruden, but now that’s been confirmed, according to FANHOUSE.

• The oldest living ex-major league baseball player died yesterday at the age of 100. Bill Werber played 11 years for 5 different teams, including the Yankees, Red Sox, and Reds. He and Bill Dickey played bridge against Babe Ruth and Lou Gehrig on the Yankees’ train rides. He also didn’t think women should sing the national anthem at games. We’ll let that one slide. The AP has the story (via the ALBANY TIMES-UNION).

Bill Werber

• FANIQ reminds us that we shouldn’t underestimate the impact Ken Whisenhunt’s intimate knowledge of Ben Roethlisberger could have on the Super Bowl. The one time the two teams played since Whisenhunt left Pittsburgh to take the Arizona job, the Cards won 21-14 while forcing two interceptions from Ben and sacking him four times.

•  Our favorite young figure skater and aspiring model, Molly Oberstar, is in 15th place after the short program at the U.S. Figure Skating Championships. Alissa Czisny is in the lead, by what looks like a somewhat healthy margin (as if I’m any good at reading figure skating results).

Which of these players got waaaaaaaaaay too many All-Star votes?

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Chinese Hoopster Yi Jianlian Allegedly 24, Not 21

Oh, China. You’re good at a lot of things, but accurately documenting the ages of your athletes is not one of them. After the gymnastics debacle back in August, it’s probably not surprising to learn that Nets hoopster Yi Jianlian isn’t really 21.

Yi was born in 1984, not 1987

Although, this time around it looks like the age was underreported, rather than the other way around. Yi has long been dogged by rumors that he’s actually older than he says, but now there’s some pretty solid evidence that he was actually born in 1984, and not 1987 (see above photo).

Details and possible ramifications after the jump.

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Where Are All The Asian-American Basketballers?

Quick, name an Asian-American basketball player. Yao Ming? Yi Jianlian? Wrong, they’re full-on Chinese. And that’s the point. Only 0.4 percent of men’s college basketball players are Asian-American.

Jeremy Lin

According to the SAN FRANCISCO CHRONICLE, there were only 19 Asian-American players in Division I basketball in 2006-07, far out of line with the 4.4 percent population of the country (that’s a third of the African-American population.) Is it a case of the kids not going into the game, or is there discrimination? Read more…

China Cares Less About NBA Preseason Than Us?

It’s a play on the old “tree falling in a woods” hypothetical scenario: If the NBA holds a preseason and nobody’s around to see it, does it even happen? Last week Brooks posted about the horrid numbers that NBA preseason action in Vegas was getting, but that looks like a ratings bonanza compared to the amount of interest it received in China.

Empty Seats

(Three’s a crowd?)

In case you didn’t know, the NBA held two preseason games in China last week between the Golden State Warriors and Milwaukee Bucks. But since these two teams don’t have much in the way of “star power”, pretty much everyone in China went about their daily lives, never even pausing to acknowledge the fact that the NBA even exists.

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Blog Jam: Eddy Curry Would Make a Fine Gymnast

• YAHOO’s BALL DON’T LIE showcases the winners of their fun photoshop contest featuring Eddy Curry as an Olympic gymnast.

Eddy Curry gymnast photoshop

• ESPN reports that the Milwaukee Bucks will face the Golden State Warriors in two exhibition games in China this October. This would make a lot more sense had Yi Jianlian not been traded to the Nets.

• L.A. BALLS bounces along news that despite their popularity with fans, the USC football team will not be sporting black jerseys anytime soon.

• THE SPORTS DOLLAR cashes in with their helpful guide to the Six Types of Sports Bloggers.

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Mandarich Knows A Good Bust When He Sees One

What better way to celebrate Canada Day than by showing a cool CFL video.

• Ex-NFLer Tony Mandarich goes from one bust to many, many more.

Tony Mandarich photo model

• Can’t a guy like Yi Jianlian enjoy a night out with his girlfriend without a whole communist nation getting on his case?

• A little thing like armed robbery isn’t gonna stop these golfers from finishing their appointed round.

• Korean & Russian models cue it up to become the best babes in billiards.

• Is Mark McGwire pumped to be working his way back into baseball?

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Yi Jianlian in Hot Water Over Nightclub Incident

We feel it only fair to warn you about the salaciousness of the story we are about to relate to you. It is both tawdry and unbecoming. If you have young children near the computer, please ask them to turn away from the screen as we share this titillating tale with you.

It has just come to our attention that an NBA player (and Olympic athlete) has been spotted in a nightclub at a very late hour with his Chinese celebrity girlfriend.

Yi has been at the centre of a tabloid sensation since being seen in the early hours drinking at the top-end night club last week and photographed embracing his pop singer girl friend Shi Yanfei.

Clearly, his commitment to basketball and his country must fall into question because of this major distraction. We could not be more disappointed.

Yi Jianlian

(Yi and she)

Welcome to the new China, Yi Jianlian. Looks an awful lot like the old one sometimes, no?

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NJ Nets Jettison Jefferson To Bucks For Jianlian

Ian Thomsen of SPORTS ILLUSTRATED reports that the New Jersey Nets have traded Richard Jefferson to the Milwaukee Bucks.

Richard Jefferson New Jersey Nets

In return, the Brooklyn-bound ball club gets Yi Jianlian. As a result of the deal, the Nets won’t have to pay Jefferson $15 million in 2010 - and the freed-up salary space could help lure LeBron James to the team when the Cavs star becomes a free agent that season.

The deal is also a win-win in other ways: Read more…

NBA Casualty List To Grow Thanks To Olympics?

In quick succession recently, the NBA lost Yao Ming and Dwayne Wade to season-ending injuries. In each case, the player had apparently been struggling through one or more injuries and simply could not risk playing any longer. Also, each player had strong reasons to begin the healing process as soon as possible: Olympic glory.

Yao Ming Dywane Wade Injuries Thanks To Olympics

Yao has extraordinarily strong national responsibilities, but both players have immense marketing muscle behind their athletic efforts under the international spotlight - in the most lucrative emerging consumer market.

Which leaves the obvious question: which players have the most incentive to set aside the remainder of the NBA season to better prepare for Olympic success this summer in Beijing?

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