<![CDATA[NBC New York - Sports]]> Copyright 2015 http://www.nbcnewyork.com/news/sports http://media.nbcbayarea.com/designimages/4NY_Horizontal.jpg NBC New York http://www.nbcnewyork.com en-us Sun, 01 Mar 2015 03:43:50 -0500 Sun, 01 Mar 2015 03:43:50 -0500 NBC Owned Television Stations <![CDATA[Knicks Fans Lose All-Time Favorite With Anthony Mason's Death]]> Sat, 28 Feb 2015 15:05:51 -0500 http://media.nbcnewyork.com/images/213*120/Anthony-Mason-B.jpg

 According to Anthony Mason Jr., his dad went down fighting.

 Of course he did, because anyone who watched Anthony Mason scratch and claw his way to the NBA, and anyone who saw him battle on those great Knicks teams of the 1990s, had to know that he would fight to the bitter end.

Sadly, the end came a few weeks after Mason, only 48, was stricken with a massive heart attack. He had been battling congestive heart failure and was in need of a heart transplant.

"As you all would expect our father — Big Mase — put up an incredible fight, dealing with a severe heart issue," Anthony Mason Jr. said in a statement on Saturday.

"Overnight New York City and the world lost a legend, a friend, a brother," he said.

Athough he was never the biggest star on the Knicks during his five seasons playing for his hometown team, "Mase" personified the team. Tough as they come. Gritty. His jump shot had a hitch in it, so it was never a thing of beauty. But he could pass with the best of them and his ball-handling skills were as good as they get.

He also captured the hearts of New Yorkers with his bruising style and blue-collar work ethic that came straight off the playgrounds of Springfield Gardens, Queens.

You know what else Knick fans loved about Big Mase? He never short-changed his team when it came to effort. Not one time.

"You remember how coach Riley had some high standards," former Knicks coach Jeff Van Gundy told me over the phone on Saturday from Chicago, where he’ll provide analysis for ABC on Sunday’s Bull-Clippers game. "Well, I don’t remember one time in a practice where coach Riley ever got on Anthony for an effort-related thing. He always played and he always practiced and he always did both incredibly hard."

Today’s players, including some big stars who like to take days off for rest every so often, should give the kind of effort on a daily basis that Mason always did.

"Amen," Van Gundy told me.

Right off the top, you had to admire Mason for the route he took to becoming an All-Star in 2001, when he was reunited with Pat Riley down in Miami. He was drafted by Portland with the 53rd pick in 1988 out of Tennessee State, so to start with, he wasn’t exactly on the fast track for what would become a 13-year NBA career.

Initially, there were stints playing overseas in Turkey and Venezuela. Then he was back in the U.S. playing in the Continental Basketball Association. Then a brief stint over in the Meadowlands with the Nets. Then he got to live his dream and play for the Knicks, starting in 1991 when he first made the team, and then three years later helping it to make the '94 Finals.

"To me, what stands out about Anthony was that incredible perseverance he showed," Van Gundy said. "Not getting drafted very high. Bouncing around the minor leagues. And then finding his way to make a team. Then making the main rotation. Then becoming the Sixth Man Award winner. Then an All-Star. That’s an incredible journey."

Once Riley left for Miami and Don Nelson was hired to take over, Mason’s path took a most unlikely turn. Although Patrick Ewing was still very much in his prime and a perennial MVP candidate, Nelson turned to Mason as his point forward and ran his offense through him. Ewing didn’t like it much and that figured in Nelson lasting only 59 games in his one and only season coaching in New York.

Even when Mason was leading the league in minutes played and setting a Knicks' record in that department, he never liked it when Nelson would take him out of games, even for a breather. He would usually walk to the bench and shoot Nelson a mean look.

"He was like Allen Iverson in that way," Van Gundy said. "He always felt he had been overlooked and he was never satisfied."

But No. 14 was never overlooked by the New York fans. They missed him dearly when he was traded to Charlotte, although the player who came back in the deal, Larry Johnson, quickly turned into a fan favorite. But the Knicks fan who remembers the Riley years and the seven-game Finals series against the Rockets absolutely adored Anthony Mason.

That love affair didn’t end with Mason's death. It only grew stronger.

-- Longtime New York columnist Mitch Lawrence continues to write about pro basketball, as he’s done for the last 22 years. His columns for NBCNewYork.com on the Knicks, Brooklyn Nets and the NBA, along with other major sports, will appear twice weekly. Follow him on Twitter.

Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[PHOTOS: Anthony Mason on the Court]]> Sat, 28 Feb 2015 22:47:10 -0500 http://media.nbcnewyork.com/images/160*196/Mason5.jpg A look back at some of Anthony Mason's moments on the court. The ex-Knick has died at the age of 48.

Photo Credit: AP]]>
<![CDATA[Ex-Knick Anthony Mason Dies at 48]]> Sun, 01 Mar 2015 01:54:53 -0500 http://media.nbcnewyork.com/images/213*120/22815mason.jpg

Anthony Mason, one of the Knicks’ most popular players of the 1990s who had one All-Star season during a 13-year pro career, has died following a massive heart attack, the team said Saturday. He was 48.

According to multiple reports and league sources, Mason had been fighting for his life after undergoing multiple surgeries over the last few days. Veteran NBA writer Peter Vescey broke the news Wednesday about Mason.

The Springfield Gardens, Queens, native was a bruising power forward with a no-nonsense demeanor on the court, and he had a fan-pleasing blue-collar work ethic. He came up from the minor leagues and also played overseas before finally making the NBA.

Mason won the NBA’s Sixth Man Award in 1994-95, a season after helping the Knicks reach the NBA Finals for the first time since 1973. The Knicks lost to the Rockets in seven games.

On Saturday, Anthony Mason Jr. issued a statement following his dad's death.

"Overnight New York City and the world lost a legend, a friend, a brother - but more than anything our father. ... As you all would expect our father - Big Mase - put up an incredible fight, dealing with a severe heart issue," he said.

"Pops we've got to let you know we love you and know you'll always be with us," Anthony Mason Jr. said.

Figures from Mason's past took to Twitter to express their grief.

"We gonna miss u brother," tweeted Charles Oakley. 

"A great athlete and true gentleman. He will be missed," wrote the Rev. Al Sharpton..

When Don Nelson succeeded Pat Riley in 1995-96 as the Knicks' head coach, Mason was at the center of a full-blown controversy. Nelson decided to make Mason the focal point of the Knicks’ attack, going away from perennial All-Star and the face of the franchise, Patrick Ewing. Nelson’s move was unpopular with Ewing and other Knicks and led to his removal as head coach only 59 games into his first and only season in New York.

“For Nelson to do that was amazing," former Knicks great Bernard King told NBC 4 New York. “Patrick was still a dominant player in the league at that time. While Anthony was a very good player for the Knicks, Patrick was still one of the best players in the league."

Mason was later traded to Charlotte in the famous Larry Johnson deal that helped key the Knicks’ success in the late 1990’s, culminating with a trip to the NBA Finals in 1999, where the Knicks lost to the Spurs. That was the first of Tim Duncan's five title teams.

Mason later played for Riley in Miami, becoming an All-Star in 2001 as an injury replacement for Grant Hill.

-- Mitch Lawrence contributed to this report.

Longtime New York columnist Mitch Lawrence continues to write about pro basketball, as he’s done for the last 22 years. His columns for NBCNewYork.com on the Knicks, Brooklyn Nets and the NBA, along with other major sports, appear twice weekly. Follow him on Twitter.

<![CDATA[Ex-Ranger Richter Shares Concussion Story for 1st Time]]> Fri, 27 Feb 2015 22:24:21 -0500 http://media.nbcnewyork.com/images/213*120/mike+richter.jpg

Mike Richter struggled to deal with the concussions that ended his brilliant NHL career -- and struggled Friday to put together the right words to share it for the first time.

It was a nightmare, the former New York Rangers goalie told his audience inside the auditorium at NYU Langone Medical Center.

His eyes searched the room for a connection, the way they once scanned the ice from his customary spot in the crease at Madison Square Garden. He saw future doctors and nurses sitting alongside some of the top minds in the medical field.

He believes they need to hear his story.

"As an athlete, it’s very disconcerting to hear very good people say, 'I don’t know,'" said Richter, speaking to NBC 4 New York about the concussions he suffered, noting it was the first time he’s opened up about it. "Hopefully that won’t be the response much longer."

Richter, now 48, admitted to being somewhat embarrassed by the way that he, like the rest of the NHL, once viewed concussions, though he won’t call the league negligent. He is aware of a class-action lawsuit against the NHL that has now reached 70 former players, but has not joined it.

Awareness is the immediate focus for the man who backstopped the Rangers to a Stanley Cup title in 1994. He’s never needed much prompting on that topic.

And he found a tone that resonated as he played back the moment that altered his brilliant career, a shot off the stick of Chris Tamer in a game against the Atlanta Thrashers on March 27, 2002. He still remembers the puck sounding like an exploding watermelon against the earhole of his helmet. The initial diagnosis was a fractured skull, but only after a dazed Richter was sent for X-rays by the Rangers perplexed medical staff.

"It went from, 'Are you okay? Can you go?' to ‘Your season is done," recalled Richter, who spent months trying to ready himself mentally for the 2002 season. It ended after he suffered a second concussion that November.

Months later, he was told his career was over. By that time, Richter was dealing with the lingering effects from his concussions. He was depressed and had trouble sleeping. Most frustrating for the man who was meticulous about his training, he couldn’t change this because there was no textbook for what to do.

"I had no clue before I was hit – before I went through what I went through – how devastating it can be," said Richter.

"If you break your hand, there’s six weeks. Twist your ankle? That’s two weeks. You know what the protocol is. But when you get into this area of the brain, there’s so much unknown," he said.

Awareness is heightened today thanks to advancements in research, like those Richter witnessed on Friday morning at the NYU Langone Concussion Center. He cited the ever-evolving work by Boston University researchers on Chronic Traumatic Encephelopathy (CTE), calling it "sobering stuff."

Richter has three sons who play hockey, and that’s part of what drove him to the podium at NYU on Friday. He spoke hopefully about blood and genetic tests that would help determine susceptibility to brain injury. He is eager to find answers.

"We need to understand what the real risks are and that’s why research is (so important)," he said. "It needs time, unfortunately, but we’re getting there."

<![CDATA[Friends Meet for Pick-Up Basketball Every Week for 40 Years]]> Fri, 27 Feb 2015 13:30:31 -0500 http://media.nbcnewyork.com/images/213*120/YMCA+40+years.jpg

A group of men — some in their 70s and 80s — has been meeting twice a week for more than 40 years to play basketball at a YMCA in Chelsea.

It's not just a ritual for them but a form of therapy that keeps them feeling young in this fast-paced city.

On a cold Thursday morning in February, sweat dripped from the foreheads of the 10 men in full sprint on the court inside the McBurney YMCA gym on West 14th Street. They were going on their second hour of basketball before most people had even sipped a second cup of coffee.

"On days I don’t play, I feel off. I feel like something’s out of sync," said Steve Harris, a professional voice-over artist by day and basketball junkie by morning.

At 55 years old, Harris is one of the babies in what may be New York City's longest running pickup game. It started in 1972 when Harry Bogdos and a friend began playing one-on-one games at the Y.

They added a few players, then a few more.

"Guys like to rebound and pass, so I can do the shooting," laughed Bob Pagnotta, 77.

Many of Pagnotta's teammates refer to him as "Basketball Bob" and he runs the show. Others call him the general manager because he picks the rosters.

"If we’re out there -- we being the older guys -- we try to keep the intensity level down," Pagnotta said, a wry smile stretching across his face. "It’s these younger guys that get carried away."

A few minutes later, Pagnotta needled the player he was guarding and yelled that there was no way he would take the last shot in what was a tie game. It's understood that the 77-year-old prefers to take the would-be game winners at the buzzer. And the other unwritten rule? Nobody calls traveling, especially not on the now 82-year-old Bogdos.

"The first time I played I called a walk," Harris said. "Harry pulled me aside and said, 'Excuse me, young man, we don’t call walks in this game.'"

In this week's game, a pair of 20-somethings watched as men twice and three times their age pushed the ball up the floor. The pace rarely slowed down until the clock hit zero. Then it was time to switch up teams; it was agreed that the two new guys -- the "kids" -- could join in the next game, but only if they played "the McBurney way," named for the gym in which they shoot.

"This is one of the few games in New York City you’ll actually see a pick-and-roll," said Harris, who favors crisp passing over chucking up shots.

It's suggested that Knicks president Phil Jackson should bring his team by for a lesson or two on how to run the triangle offense.

"We’d try and talk him out of it," Harris laughed. "I don’t think it’s working too well."

The game plan seems to be working just right for these men, who rarely miss a Tuesday or Thursday morning game. Some are retired. Others still work, and their employers know not to mess with this ritual, which ends with breakfast at the Good Stuff Diner next door.

There, in between bites of bacon and eggs, they rehash every pick-and-roll. Lay-ups turn to dunks. Middle-aged men might as well be in their 20s again.

"I wouldn’t be able to survive in New York if it wasn’t for this place," said Harris. "This is the best therapy anybody can get."

Photo Credit: NBC 4 New York]]>
<![CDATA[Earl Lloyd, First Black NBA Player, Dies at 86]]> Fri, 27 Feb 2015 09:14:52 -0500 http://media.nbcnewyork.com/images/213*120/AP861620179640.jpg

Earl Lloyd, the first black player in NBA history, died Thursday. He was 86.

Lloyd's alma mater, West Virginia State, confirmed the death. It did not provide details.

Lloyd made his NBA debut in 1950 for the Washington Capitals, just before fellow black players Sweetwater Clifton and Chuck Cooper played their first games.

"The State family mourns the loss of a fellow Yellow Jacket and trailblazer who was a true champion both on and off of the basketball court," West Virginia State President Brian Hemphill said in a statement. "When Earl stepped out on the court on that fateful date in 1950, this remarkable man rightfully earned his place in the historic civil rights movement and, more important, he opened the door to equality in America."

Lloyd helped the Syracuse Nationals win the 1955 NBA title, joining teammate Jim Tucker as the first black players to play on a championship team.

The 6-foot-5 forward averaged 8.4 points and 6.4 rebounds in 560 regular-season games in nine seasons with Washington, Syracuse and Detroit. He missed the 1951-52 season while serving in the U.S. Army.

Inducted into the Basketball Hall of Fame in 2003 as a contributor, Lloyd was 22-55 as Detroit's coach in 1971-72 and the first nine games in the 1972-73 season.

Lloyd, a native of Alexandria, Virginia, lived in Crossville, Tennessee. 

Photo Credit: AP]]>
<![CDATA[Eagles Acho Taking Va. Teen to Prom]]> Thu, 26 Feb 2015 16:45:32 -0500 http://media.nbcnewyork.com/images/228*120/2015-02-26_1345.png

A Loudoun County, Virginia, teen got the surprise of a lifetime Friday when Philadelphia Eagles linebacker Emmanuel Acho agreed to take her to prom.

Back in January, Hannah Delmonte reached out to Acho on Instagram and asked if he would take her to prom if she got 2,000 retweets on Twitter, Comcast SportsNet Philly reports. But Acho upped the ante -- Delmonte had to reach 10,000 retweets.

And she did.

Delmonte's post received over 17,000 retweets, far surpassing her goal.

Acho dropped by Woodgrove High School in Purcellville on Friday and surprised Delmonte with a customized Eagles jersey with the number 15 and the word "prom" written across the back.

Acho also plans to play piano and sing Delmonte a song on the night of the prom, according to Comcast SportsNet Philly. Prom is scheduled for May 9, according to the school's calendar.

Check out her priceless reaction in the video above.

Photo Credit: Comcast SportsNet Philly
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<![CDATA[2-Year-Old Son of NFL Long Snapper Sings National Anthem]]> Thu, 26 Feb 2015 05:48:08 -0500 http://media.nbcnewyork.com/images/180*120/AP828165311104.jpg

Forget football! The 2-year-old son of Cincinnati Bengals' long snapper showed he is ready for the stage when he belted out the National Anthem at a high school basketball game.

The NFL player, Clark Harris, held son Trent's hand as he led him to the court for the tot's performance.

Decked out in a blazer and with hair reminiscent of his father's mane, Trent sang in front of a packed gym ahead of a matchup between the Southern Regional High School and Pinelands Regional High School boys' basketball teams.

Clark's wife and proud mom, Jessica, posted Trent's rendition to YouTube, captioning the video: "My sons first performance!! ... I'm so proud!!!" 

Watch the full video below.

This story uses functionality that may not work in our app. Click here to open the story on our mobile site.]]>
<![CDATA[NFL Stadium Proposals ]]> Wed, 25 Feb 2015 14:41:02 -0500 http://media.nbcnewyork.com/images/213*120/carson-stadium.gif

Ever since the Rams and the Raiders left Los Angeles in the mid-1990s, there have been attempts to bring an NFL team back to the city.

The football league approved an expansion franchise for Los Angeles as early as 1999, but no agreement was reached and a team went to Houston. The NFL requires a three-quarters vote of the 32 teams for any team to move.

There are now four proposals on the table. Here they are:

Oakland Raiders and San Diego Chargers to Share a Stadium

The Oakland Raiders and San Diego Chargers have announced that they will together pursue a new home at a $1.7 billion stadium in Carson, in Los Angeles County,  but only if both teams cannot find alternatives in their home markets. The stadium, which would require voter approval, would have more than 72,000 seats and with 18,000 parking spots, room for tailgating. It would be built on the site of an old municipal landfill at the intersection of the 405 Freeway and Del Amo Boulevard. Right now, the Jets and the Giants are the only NFL teams to share a stadium.

Meanwhile negotiations over a new stadium for the Raiders in the Bay area could be facing a 30-day deadline, according to a report in the San Francisco Chronicle. Oakland Mayor Libby Scaaf has said she would be wiling to spend taxpayer money to help pay for a new stadium, which could total up to $300 million, according to columnists Phil Matier and Andy Ross. But issues over using public money could be insurmountable, they report.

Replacing Hollywood Park Racetrack

Stan Kroenke, the owner of the St. Louis Rams, wants to build a new $2 billion stadium on the site of the now closed Hollywood Park racetrack in Inglewood, California. The proposal is for an 80,000-seat stadium, 6,000-seat performance venue, 300-room hotel, and 1.5 million square feet of retail, office and residential space.

The developer, not the public, would pay for the cost of building the stadium, according to a consultants' report.

The Inglewood City Council unanimously approved the plan on Feb. 24.

Kroenke has partnered with Stockbridge Capital Group and is the first NFL team owner to control a site large enough for a new stadium. The Rams are playing at the Edward Jones Dome in St. Louis, but are unhappy with the conditions. The Inglewood proposal will put pressure on St Louis to reach a deal for a new stadium or watch the team return to Southern California, where it played from 1946 to 1994.

Farmers Field

The Anschutz Entertainment Group or AEG agreed in 2012 to build a football stadium at the L.A. LIVE complex downtown and renovate the Los Angeles Convention Center. In October, the city granted AEG a six-month extension. AEG plans to commit $600,000 to development, but it is also offering alternatives to a stadium, meaning a large hotel might be built in its place.
Grand Crossing

Developer Ed Roski Jr., the president of Majestic Realty Co., in 2008 announced plans to build an $800 million stadium in the city of Industry near the interchange of the 60 and 57 freeways. The project is being called Grand Crossing.

<![CDATA[Boston Olympics Criticism OK: Mayor]]> Tue, 24 Feb 2015 17:02:07 -0500 http://media.nbcnewyork.com/images/214*120/Walsh+Olympics.jpg

It's now OK for city workers to criticize Boston's bid for the 2024 Olympics, thanks to a change to the city's deal with the U.S. Olympic Committee.

Mayor Marty Walsh announced the change Tuesday, saying that the agreement with the USOC had been revised to remove any language discouraging city employees from criticizing the Olympic bid. Walsh had earlier defended the stipulation, which civil liberties advocates had criticized.

The Boston Globe reported last month that the "joinder agreement" between the city and the USOC banned city employees from badmouthing the 2024 Olympic bid. The American Civil Liberties Union of Massachusetts said the agreement was a violation of the First Amendment right to free speech.

"This revised agreement is the result of positive negotiations with the United States Olympic Committee to reach a consensus that accurately represents how Boston is moving forward with our Olympic bid," Walsh said in a statement.

"I want to thank those who have already offered their thoughts on Boston's bid and I continue to encourage all residents, including city employees, to share their opinions over the coming months. My top priority is to ensure an open and transparent process, and it is important that any proposal is shaped by the input and ideas of people from every neighborhood in order to offer the greatest benefit to our city," Walsh continued.

Walsh's statement characterized the original ban on employee criticism of the Olympic bid as "boilerplate language that all cities have historically signed regarding city employees and their participation in the Olympic process."

Rich Davey, Boston 2024's CEO, said the new agreement "will strengthen Boston's efforts to work with communities to build a stronger Olympic bid."

The next citywide Olympic discussion is scheduled for Tuesday night at 6:30 at the Condon School Cafeteria in South Boston. 

Additional citywide meetings are scheduled for March 31, April 28, May 19, June 30, July 28, Aug. 25 and Sept. 29.

Photo Credit: FILE - NECN]]>
<![CDATA[Top Sports Photos 2015]]> Fri, 27 Feb 2015 11:30:50 -0500 http://media.nbcnewyork.com/images/213*120/AP504914195557.jpg Click to see dramatic sports photos from the NFL, to basketball, baseball and more.]]> <![CDATA[KG Returns to T-Wolves to Teach the Kids]]> Tue, 24 Feb 2015 14:01:08 -0500 http://media.nbcnewyork.com/images/213*120/AP76827771808.jpg

Such is Kevin Garnett’s reputation that he threw a scare into his new Minnesota teammates before he ever arrived from Brooklyn.

In advance of Garnett’s arrival, the T-wolves sent out a warning to all of the 20-somethings on Flip Saunders’ team: Put your cellphones away on game night, or else they’ll be flushed down the toilet, courtesy of Mr. Big Ticket.

No, Garnett doesn’t mess around.

Garnett is back in the Twin Cities, where it all started for the Hall of Famer almost 20 years ago when he was just 19. He’ll be re-introduced Tuesday after an afternoon practice session. Last week, after some deliberation, he waived his no-trade clause and left the Nets for a chance to teach one of the youngest teams in the league how to be a professional and how to win.

In making the transition from a Nets team that is eight games under .500, but still is in position to make the playoffs because the East is so bad, Garnett is basically admitting what has been painfully evident. His best days are long over. In fact, Nets fans never got to see them after he arrived from Boston in July, 2013.

But for the Timberwolves, he’s seen as the perfect fit. Earlier this season he said he’d one day like to buy the team. But for now he’s going to be entrusted with getting president-coach Flip Saunders’ message across to his teammates, a few of whom were in diapers when Garnett started his NBA career.

"Certain people have the abilities and they are born leaders," Saunders told reporters out in Minneapolis the other day, speaking about Garnett. "I believe he's going to expect of those young players to follow through...to respect the game."

In exchange for Garnett, Thaddeus Young went to the Nets in a coup for embattled Brooklyn GM Billy King. Given Garnett’s diminished impact as a player there wasn’t much of a market on trade deadline day for a 38-year old veteran averaging only 20 minutes a game, and carrying a $12 million pricetag.

Except for his original team, where he had once played for Saunders and had been the league MVP in 2004. Saunders always wanted the greatest player in franchise history to end his career where it all started.

Garnett’s departure marks the end of the Nets’ incredibly foolish get-rich-quick scheme to win a title. Back in the summer of 2013 they gave up the ranch -- most notably three future No. 1 picks -- to obtain Garnett and Paul Pierce. Owner Mikhail Prokhorov was all-in, spending an NBA-record $180 million in salaries and taxes to assemble what looked like a formidable starting five.

But after managing to win only five playoff games last spring and seeing their dream end in a second-round, five-game drubbing at the hands of the Miami Heat, they decided they were finished with the plan. So it turns out that they gave up a boatload of assets to go for the gold for only one year. The price was steep: They don’t have their own No. 1 draft pick until 2019.

At least with Young, 26, the Nets got younger and more athletic. This summer he can opt out of a contract that pays him $10 million next season, but the Nets figure he’ll stay. He had been obtained by the T-Wolves last summer for a No. 1 pick that had been previously obtained from the Miami Heat. The way Saunders views it, surrendering the future pick will be well worth it.

“K.G., I believe, will have more of an impact than what that pick would have delivered over the years,” he said.

Garnett joins a team that has only two players over the age of 30 and boasts some prime young talent, starting with 20-year old Andrew Wiggins, the favorite to win Rookie of the Year. At the start of the season there were only three teams with younger rosters -- Philly, Milwaukee and Utah.

Wiggins, of course, was drafted No. 1 overall last June by Cleveland and then traded to Minnesota for Kevin Love. The T-wolves believe that Wiggins will learn a lot with Garnett now running the locker room.

“Kevin loves basketball,” Kevin McHale, the former Timberwolves executive and current Rockets coach, told reporters before his Houston team defeated Minnesota on Monday night. “He’s competitive. He always has been. He has a wealth of knowledge. He has played a lot of big games, won a championship and he’s not afraid to talk. He’ll say a lot of things.”

And the word is out to his new teammates: He’ll slam-dunk your phone into the nearest toilet if he finds you messing around.

Longtime New York columnist Mitch Lawrence continues to write about pro basketball, as he’s done for the last 22 years. His columns for NBCNewYork.com on the Knicks, Brooklyn Nets and the NBA, along with other major sports, will appear twice weekly. Follow him on Twitter @Mitch _ Lawrence.

Photo Credit: AP]]>
<![CDATA[Wash. NFL Football Team: Canceling Trademark Violates Free-Speech]]> Tue, 24 Feb 2015 12:54:50 -0500 http://media.nbcnewyork.com/images/212*120/1104-redskins-generic.jpg

Lawyers for the Washington NFL football team are telling a judge that the team's free-speech rights will be infringed upon if a federal panel's decision to cancel the team's trademarks is allowed to stand.

A board of the U.S. Patent And Trademark Office ruled last year that the trademark of the "Redskins" should be canceled because the name is disparaging to Native Americans.

The team is suing in federal court in Alexandria to have the board's decision overturned. In court papers filed Monday, the team says the law barring registration of disparaging trademarks is unconstitutional under the First Amendment.

The government has intervened in the civil lawsuit to defend the law's constitutionality. Government lawyers say the law doesn't ban disparaging speech; it just denies the protection of a federal trademark.

<![CDATA[Jackson Rips Into Knicks After Loss to Cleveland]]> Mon, 23 Feb 2015 10:27:51 -0500 http://media.nbcnewyork.com/images/213*120/t_phil_jackson_knicks_KNSD3LEI_1200x675_199462979505.jpg

LeBron James said the magic words for his buddy, Carmelo Anthony, after the Cavaliers humiliated the Knicks, sending Phil Jackson into rip-mode.

“Hopefully,’’ James said on Sunday to reporters in the Garden after his team’s 101-83 win, “they put some guys around him that can help him win.’’

Not that it will ever be the King. He’s got work to do out in Cleveland and although he said during All-Star weekend he’d love to play 82 games a season in Madison Square Garden, he never said he wanted to play 82 games a season for the Knicks.

Why would he?

LeBron has to worry about winning a title in Cleveland, his legacy and how many rings he’ll end up with when it’s all over. Right now, he’s not even close to Michael Jordan (six) or Kobe Bryant and Tim Duncan (five apiece). With only two rings and now in his 30’s, he can’t mess around with a franchise that is still very much dysfunctional, despite the presence of Jackson.

LeBron used All-Star weekend to tease Knicks fans about playing in the Garden when he knows it would be career suicide to leave his hometown team a second time as a free agent. But where’s he going anyway? He’s got a team now that looks as if it could win the title in June, mainly because he’s playing like the MVP during this stretch when they’ve gone 16-2 in their last 18 games.

On Sunday, he didn’t even need to be a four-time MVP in an abbreviated 28-minute performance because the Knicks were so bad, hours after the latest debacle Jackson took to Twitter to roast his team.

Garden boss James Dolan has never liked it when his coaches or executives have pounded on the Knicks. Not that it matters to the Zen Master, who doesn’t care what anyone thinks, least of all Dolan, because he’s won 11 titles and is above it all. That’s how he commanded his $60 million price tag in the first place.

As of now, accepting the record salary and position as team president is the best move Jackson has made.

In almost a year since taking over, he’s made a lot of rookie mistakes as a first-time basketball executive, and was reminded of those in the Garden on Sunday. Later he sent out this tweet:

“Today's game vs Cavs gave bb gods heartburn and those that know what "it" takes/means a smh.” 

But while Jackson is shaking his head over his 10-win team, no one can feel very good about how he will go about getting Anthony help this summer in free agency. Two of his potential free-agent recruits are off the board. At last weeks’ trade deadline, Goran Dragic went from Phoenix to Miami and then Reggie Jackson was traded from Oklahoma City to Detroit. Both are expected to remain with their new teams via contract extensions.

There’s also a question of who wants to come to New York to play in the Triangle Offense, which is as firmly in place as his over-matched coach, Derek Fisher. Jackson has to know it’s a potential obstacle, even if he is going to have $30 million in cap space to spend on talent. Here was his old Knick teammate, Walt Frazier, late in Sunday’s debacle wondering aloud on MSG why the Knicks “are the only team utilizing the Triangle offense. No one else in the NBA has faith in it. Normally, if you win a lot with a certain thing people will copy that. But no one seems to copy the Triangle offense.’’

Coaches don’t use it and it’s not as if players will be running to the Knicks to play for Fisher in it.

“It’s a matter if the situation fits your game,’’ ex-Knick J.R. Smith told reporters on the eve of his return to the Garden. “If you’re a freelance player who likes to play up and down, it’s not going to suit your game. If you like to play in the halfcourt and move the ball and sacrifice, it is your situation.

“The toughest thing is we didn’t run enough,’’ Smith continued. “With the talent we had, there was no transition offense. It was bring the ball up, run our set and go from there. Everything is a read. So I may not be reading the same thing as the next person is reading. Before you know it, you got turnovers, missed shots and bad transition defense. The style of basketball we play suits my game — run and gun, shoot open shots. Just play. The system we use is just easier to play in.’’

Wait ‘til the rest of the league reads J.R.’s quotes. Never mind the bb gods, that’s going to give the Zen Master himself a severe case of heartburn.

Longtime New York columnist Mitch Lawrence continues to write about pro basketball, as he’s done for the last 22 years. His columns for NBCNewYork.com on the Knicks, Brooklyn Nets and the NBA, along with other major sports, will appear twice weekly. Follow him on Twitter @Mitch _ Lawrence.