Manso: Heat heading to NBA Playoffs with better seed than you think

The Heat ended the 2016-2017 season wishing they had played even more basketball.  To a man, every player in Miami’s locker room felt they could have made some noise in the playoffs and had more to prove with this team.They’re finally …

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Louisville fires Pitino ‘with just cause’

Despite Rick Pitino asserting he had no part in the activities alleged in an FBI corruption investigation, Louisville’s athletic board voted Monday to terminate his contract “with just cause,” according to The Associated Press.

Pitino’s lawyers appeared in front of the University of Louisville Athletic Association to state their case against termination. While Pitino himself did not attend the meeting, his attorneys submitted an affidavit on his behalf, according to ESPN.

“I do not dispute ULAA’s right to terminate my employment at its discretion,” Pitino’s affidavit stated. “But I vehemently reject its right to do so ‘for cause.’ I have given no ’cause’ for termination of my contract.”

The FBI’s investigation alleged members of the team’s basketball program used money from apparel sponsor Adidas to pay prospective recruits, but has not yet mentioned Pitino by name.

The basketball coach had been placed on unpaid administrative leave on Sept. 27 after word of the investigation broke. The board began the process to officially terminate Pitino for cause early this month.

Athletic director Tom Jurich was also placed on leave last month and the school suspended associate head coach Kenny Johnson and assistant coach Jordan Fair on Oct. 6.

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Women’s basketball players take powerful stand on social justice

The NFL may be stealing all the headlines when it comes to its National Anthem spat with US President Donald Trump, but women’s professional basketball has been consistently taking an even greater stand on its biggest stage.

For the first four games of their WNBA Finals series against the Minnesota Lynx, the entire Los Angeles Sparks team has remained in the locker room — even staging a collective walkout before Game 1 to a clatter of boos.

The defending champion Sparks will likely repeat the gesture to raise awareness of racial injustice for tonight’s deciding Game 5 in Minneapolis, while Lynx players continue to link arms in solidarity.

“Their efforts are sometimes overshadowed by the men, but I think it’s important that we recognize and credit them,” Kristen Clarke, the president of the National Lawyers Committee for Civil Rights, told CNN Sport.

Clarke notes that the personal experiences of black women in the WNBA (comprising nearly 69% of the league, according to The Institute for Diversity and Ethics in Sport) lend themselves to being politically vocal.

“The WNBA has a fair number of African-American women who understand what it means to be discriminated on the basis of their race and gender, so they lie on the intersection of a lot of the problems that have beleaguered our country,” she says.

“They have something to say about many of the crises that are unfolding across our country, and some of what they have to say is informed by their own personal experiences with injustice.”

‘Not even about the flag’

Ahead of Game 2, Sparks guard Essence Carson said that people had forgotten what sports stars’ protests — be it men and women — were reallyu about.

“You’re standing for what you believe in, bringing attention to something that needs attention brought to,” Carson told TMZ Sports.

“I felt like everyone is so focused on the flag, and it’s not even about the flag. It’s about racial inequality, criminal justice reform, police brutality, and everything along those lines.”

Although WNBA Commissioner Lisa Borders must be mindful of her players’ potential to alienate the league’s niche fan base, she has been supportive of their right to protest thus far.

“Our players are some of the most socially conscious that you will ever find,” Borders told reporters in anticipation of the protest before Game 1 of the Finals. “You have seen that in the years before I got here, and I’m sure it will continue in the future.”

‘Impactful’

Indeed, the movement is nothing new for the WNBA.

Kneeling or linking arms during the national anthem is not an unusual scene before games, with momentum for protest gaining popularity after each racially charged incident of note.

In August, Sparks players linked arms with their counterparts on the Washington Mystics before a nationally televised game that followed a death during a white supremacist rally in Charlottesville, Virginia.

The WNBA’s continued protests, along with those in other sports, are playing a valid role in society according to Clarke.

“I absolutely believe the protests have been impactful,” says Clarke, who has worked closely with the New York Liberty.

“They have helped to keep these issues front and center, and sustain a real dialogue in our country about police brutality and other crises.”

‘We want to use our platforms’

NFL players began to kneel during the national anthem last year, when then-San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick refused to stand during “The Star-Spangled Banner” before kickoff, sparking both support and backlash.

Yet even before Kaepernick garnered mass attention during the 2016 NFL season, women’s basketball has been at the forefront of social protest in the US.

Before a game in July, 2016, teammates on the Lynx addressed police conduct in the wake of the killings of Philando Castile in Minnesota and Alton Sterling in Louisiana.

Players wore black T-shirts during warmups with messages of support for the Black Lives Matter movement, and were followed by members of other teams including the New York Liberty.

In addition, four teams staged media “blackouts” where they refused to speak about basketball, only accepting questions that dealt with issues related to the protest.

Players were fined $500 each for violating the league’s uniform policy, while their teams were fined $5,000 apiece.

Yet WNBA players did not stay silent, challenging the fines on social media and in press conferences until they were rescinded days later.

“We want to be able to use our platforms, use our voices,” Liberty guard and WNBA Players Association vice president Tanisha Wright said in reaction to the fines.

“We don’t want to let anyone silence us in what we want to talk about. It’s unfortunate that the WNBA has fined us and has not supported its players.”

“We’ll deal with it when it happens”

The NBA — which has been subsidizing the WNBA since its inception in 1997 — did not fine LeBron James and other star players from making a similar stance during warmups in 2014.

Although the leagues are closely tied, each has its own set of standards when it comes to player conduct.

While the NBA mandates that its players stand for the national anthem, commissioner Adam Silver did not commit to fining players for protesting when the new season starts this month, saying only “we’ll deal with it when it happens.”

Regardless of who wins the championship on Wednesday, don’t count on WNBA players quieting down next season.

“All we can do is keep delivering our message in whatever way (we) feel comfortable in delivering it,” says Carson, “and hopefully one day they’ll finally understand the point of it all.”

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House committee seeks briefing on college basketball scandal

The House Energy and Commerce Committee is calling for a briefing on the emerging college basketball bribery scandal that so far has resulted in 10 arrests, calling it “extremely troubling.”

The committee’s leaders said they are requesting a briefing from the National Collegiate Athletic Association and sports companies allegedly involved in the widespread college basketball scheme to learn what they’re doing to ensure similar schemes are not happening in other sports and to prevent them from happening in the future.

“The federal government’s investigation into sports companies and basketball coaches at numerous colleges across the nation is extremely troubling and puts into serious question the NCAA’s ability to oversee its own institutions,” Chairman Greg Walden of Oregon and top Democrat Frank Pallone of New Jersey said in a joint statement. “In addition to any criminal activities, these allegations raise concerns about the effects of these predatory schemes on youth athletes and how hidden financial connections between advertisers and endorsers influence young consumers.”

The FBI has arrested 10 people, including college basketball coaches and high-level apparel company employees, on allegations of bribery and other charges.

The US Attorney’s Office for the Southern District of New York filed three complaints that allege fraud and corruption in the “dark underbelly of college basketball,” acting US Attorney Joon H. Kim said at a news briefing Tuesday.

Four assistant and associate coaches at Division I schools with top-tier basketball programs — Chuck Person, Lamont Evans, Tony Bland and Emanuel Richardson — have been charged with wire fraud, bribery, travel act, and conspiracy offenses. According to the complaint, the coaches allegedly facilitated and received bribes from athlete advisers, including business managers and financial advisers Christian Dawkins and Munish Sood, over multiple instances, in exchange for directing and pressuring players and their families to retain the services of these advisers.

In a second scheme, the complaints allege that the athlete advisers and individuals affiliated with major athletic apparel company Adidas paid bribes directly to student athletes and their families. The money allegedly paid was in exchange for the athlete’s commitment to attend a specific university sponsored by the company, and an agreement to ultimately be represented by the “bribe-payers” once they enter the NBA.

“All of those charged today contributed to a pay-to-play culture that has no business in college basketball,” Bill Sweeney, assistant director in charge of the FBI’s New York division, said at the news briefing Tuesday.

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Miami Heat re-signs Dion Waiters

The Miami Heat re-signed guard Dion Waiters, the team announced on Friday night. .

President Pat Riley said in a statement that Waiters proved last season that he was one of the best guards in the NBA.

“We are happy today to be able to sign Dion to a long-term contract,” Riley said in the statement.

Riley added that Waiters is an attacker and an “excellent” three-point shooter as well as a defender. The Miami Herald‘s Manny Navarro reported the Heat will be paying Waiters $52 million for four years. 

“He is a player that has no fear in taking the last shot, regardless of the outcome,” Riley said. “We believe that continuity has shown to be one of the important things that we do by keeping a team together. Having Dion back in the fold is a big factor in keeping that team chemistry together.”

Last season, Waiters appeared in 46 games (43 starts), helping Miami to a 27-19 (.587) record in those games. He averaged 15.8 points, 4.3 assists, 3.3 rebounds and 30.1 minutes while shooting 42.4 percent from the field and a career-high 39.5 percent from three-point range.

 

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UM basketball center Rodney Miller says he was duped by Miramar car dealership

University of Miami basketball player Rodney Miller said he was duped by a Miramar car dealership.

“My mom found this place online and told me to check it out. I liked the car and ended up having some problems,” Miller told Local 10 News.

Miller purchased a 2004 GMC Envoy from Rudy Jimenez, owner of One Auto Miami Export in Miramar.

He said the car began to backfire, but Jimenez assured him it was a simple fix.

“It came to the point where I had to pull over like 20 times on the highway, so it was a really dangerous situation,” Miller said.

Miller and his mother turned to Manny the Mechanic, who works right next door to the dealership.

“The transmission was not good on that car,” Manny said.

The UM center took her car back to the dealership after having the vehicle for only a week.

“He said he was going to give me another car,” Miller said.

But Miller said there was never any proof that the second car existed.

He and his mother asked for a refund and were given a check that was returned for insufficient funds on two separate occasions, he said.

When Local 10 staffer Melanie Alvarez stopped by, no one opened the door at One Auto Miami, but Jimenez told Local 10 News over the phone that a refund was mailed out already.

“OK, we told them we were going to go ahead and replace it with the one, with the second payment,” Jimenez said.

Miller said Jimenez made a similar statement to Miramar police in May.

“Once I realized that he did not buy the second car, me and my mom stopped believing what he was saying,” Miller said.

The sign outside the business says they are open, but residents who live nearby said they are not.

Neighbors said the business closed up and cleared out a week ago, and ever since, people having been coming up and knocking on the door, looking for answers.

Miramar police said the case is a civil matter, so it is unclear when or if Miller will get a refund.

 

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