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Charles Barkley says he did not get Suns tickets for Cam Newton

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UPDATE 11:27 pm: As expected, Charles Barkley went on a rant, something done at halftime of the Thunder/Mavericks game. We have transcribed it for you to make your life complete:

“There was a report out today by some idiot, and I don’t know his name because I don’t blog at all, he accused me of breaking NCAA rules. That I gave Cam Newtown tickets to the Lakers game…. This guy is an idiot, I hope he doesn’t have any kids. Because if the parents are idiots, you follow the kids, the kids are going to be idiots too. But, I did not give Cam Newton tickets to the game.”

“First of all, if [Newton] had called me, I would have got him tickets to the game. The guy won a Heisman Trophy and he’s one of the greatest jocks I’ve ever seen at Auburn. He’s right after me and Bo Jackson. He’s right with Frank Thomas right now.

But listen, dude, you can’t just get on your blog, I don’t read that crap, but I had to respond to it publicly today, you can’t just come out and say what you want to. I did not get him tickets, I have never met Cam Newton, but if Cam Newton had called me I would have put him in the Laker locker room if he wanted to go.”

As said in the story below, it was not a blog but a tweet from a respected Birmingham journalist that started this whole thing, but we knew this is how it would go.

4: 07 pm: You’re going to hear about this when you tune in to TNT tonight — Charles Barkley is going to go off on a Lewis Black-like rant — so we want to give you the background, to help you understand what Barkley is talking about. As much as that is humanly possible.

Last night players from both the Auburn Tigers and Oregon Ducks were in attendance at the Lakers victory over the Suns in Phoenix (both teams are in town for next Monday’s BCS title game). Heisman trophy winning quarterback Cam Newton was there in the lower bowl and was interviewed both on the ESPN national broadcast and the KCAL 9 broadcast back to Los Angeles.

Remember that Barkley is an Auburn alum and former Suns player. We’ll let the always entertaining Sports by Brooks tell the story from there:

During the game, prominent Birmingham TV personality and WJOX-FM radio host Jim Dunaway Tweeted, “Hanging at Lakers-Suns… Pugh and most Auburn players in upper deck…Cam in lower bowl. Thanks Barkley for the tix.”

That Tweet along with courtside interviews that Newton did during the telecast was part of a chain reaction on Twitter and message boards across the country of people wondering if Newton had indeed gotten special treatment at the game that might amount to an NCAA violation…

Barkley told Dan Patrick this morning that he did not provide tickets to Newton. On his radio and  FSN/Direct TV show, Patrick said:

“I called (Charles) Barkley and asked him, ‘did you get Cam Newton the tickets for the Suns game?’

“Barkley said, ‘Tell those people who are writing this to kiss my ass. I did not get him those tickets. But if he wanted tickets I would’ve gotten them for him.’

“He (Barkley) said, ‘I’m going to mention more on this on TNT tonight. This bothers me that they’re trying to throw me in there. I didn’t have any contact with the kid.’”

Dunaway later tweeted he was thanking Barkley for getting his tickets, not that Barkley got Newton tickets.

Brooks checked with others at the game and learned the players from both teams were spread throughout the arena, both in the upper and lower bowls. Newton was one of the players in the lower bowl, but that was not some special treatment or gift no other player got.

Barkley will be talking about this tonight on TNT, probably blaming all that new-fangled technology — all of which streams beautifully on those T-Mobile 4G phones Barkley endorses — for what happened. As usual, the problem is not the technology but people.

76ers tie NBA worst with 0-18 start after loss to Grizzlies

Matt Barnes, Nik Stauskas, Jerami Grant
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MEMPHIS, Tenn. (AP) — Zach Randolph had 17 points and 11 rebounds to lead the Memphis Grizzlies to a 92-84 victory over Philadelphia on Sunday, sending the 76ers to their record-tying 18th straight loss to start the season.

The Sixers have lost an NBA-record 28 consecutive games dating to last season and at 0-18 matched the New Jersey Nets’ start in 2009-10.

Mike Conley led the Grizzlies with 20 points, while Matt Barnes and Jeff Green finished with 13 apiece as Memphis won for the seventh time in the last nine.

Isaiah Canaan led the Sixers with 16 points, while Robert Covington and Hollis Thompson scored 12 points apiece. Jerami Grant finished with 11 points.

The Sixers led 76-71 with 7:38 remaining and Memphis fans were booing their team. But the Grizzlies went on a 15-1 run to retake control of the game, with Randolph scoring eight points in the rally.

Byron Scott: Kobe Bryant “at peace” with decision to retire after season

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LOS ANGELES — Kobe Bryant was never going to go quietly into that good night. He would rage, rage against the dying of the light — and torn Achilles, knee ligaments, shoulders, and everything else holding him back.

But now, the end is near, and Kobe will face the final curtain at the end of this season. And he is at peace with it, if you ask his coach.

“It was so matter of fact, and he was so at peace with (the decision),” Lakers’ coach Byron Scott said of when Kobe told him this season would be it. “After I thought about it, I felt better about that. It wasn’t like he was agonizing over it or anything, it was like ‘I’m announcing I’m retiring’ and just kind of went on from there.”

Bryant told Scott before anyone else in the Lakers’ organization, and told him sometime Saturday (when the Lakers played and lost in Portland).

“I said, ‘what?’ He just told me at a very awkward time; we started laughing about it,” Scott said. “He said ‘you looked like you were saying ‘what they hell are you talking about’ but it just caught me off guard.”

It’s been an ugly season for Kobe, his body can no longer do what he expects of it — he can’t get the separation, the lift needed for his shoots. He was shooting 31.1 percent on the season going into Sunday’s game against Indiana, and he started 1-of-11 from the floor Sunday night. Yet he kept gunning.

“I gave up hoping he would change his approach 15, 18 years ago,” Lakers GM Mitch Kupchak said. “He is what he is. And I’m thankful for it.”

Kupchak added hoped this decision would ease the pressure on Bryant.

“I would hope that he has more fun, and appears less frustrated, and also gets more appreciation,” Kupchak said. “He’ll get it at home, but on the road too, because people will have to recognize this is his last year and they are watching one of the all-time greats.”

Kobe got plenty of appreciation from Lakers’ fans on Sunday night with a massive ovation when he was introduced. Kobe had wanted to avoid a Derek Jeter style farewell tour, but with that announcement and the Lakers playing 13-of-17 on the road in December you can bet there will be some of that.

“One of the best ever to play the game,” Pacers coach Frank Vogel said pregame. “I don’t know if there’s any one moment, just throughout the course of his career you didn’t want him to have the ball in his hands with the game on the line, period. Because you knew he was going to beat you.”

No doubt Kobe goes down as one of the game’s all-time greats — five-time NBA champion, MVP, two Finals MVP’s, 17 All-Star Games, and that’s just the tip of the iceberg — but what Scott ultimately wants is Bryant to leave the game on his terms.

“What I want from Kobe is basically his last game to be able to walk off the court, wave to the fans, and be able to go into the locker room standing up,” Scott said.


Here is Kobe Bryant’s letter given to every fan at Lakers’ game Sunday

Los Angeles Lakers v Portland Trail Blazers

LOS ANGELES — In a classy move — and one done in a very Kobe Bryant tone — every fan coming into Staples Center Sunday night to see the Lakers take on the Pacers received a letter from No. 24.

Inside a sealed black envelope, on quality, embossed paper, was this letter from Bryant (photo below):

When we first met I was just a kid.

Some of you took me in. Some of you didn’t.

But all of you helped e become the player and man in front of you today.

You gave me confidence to put my anger to good use.

Your doubt gave me determination to prove you wrong.

You witnessed my fears morph into strength.

Your rejection taught me courage.

Whether you view me as a hero or a villain, please know I poured every emotion, every bit of passion and my entire self into being a Laker.

What you’ve done for me is far greater than anything I’ve done for you.

I knew that each minute of each game I wore purple and gold.

I honor it as I play today and for the rest of this season.

My love for this city, this team and for each of you will never fade.

Thank you for this incredible journey.

It speaks to Kobe’s mindset over the years that he talked about the fuel from the rejection of Lakers’ fans motivating him. As a Los Angeles native (and former Laker blogger), let me tell you there was precious little rejection of Kobe from this fan base. There were questions and doubters early on, but even when Shaquille O’Neal was seen as the driving force of the team Kobe was beloved in Los Angeles. Something that continued through his trial in Colorado — Lakers fans have almost always had his back.

But Kobe finds fuel everywhere. Which is why he is a future Hall of Famer.


Jahlil Okafor tweets apology for recent off-court behavior

Jahlil Okafor

The off-court incidents have been piling up for Jahlil Okafor over the past month: first, an incident captured on video that showed Okafor getting into a fight with a heckler early Thanksgiving morning; then, a report that Okafor had a gun pulled on him in a previous incident; and finally, this morning’s report that the Sixers’ No. 3 overall pick in this June’s draft had been pulled over in recent weeks for driving 108 miles per hour in Philadelphia. Together, they aren’t a good look for the rookie.

On Sunday afternoon, Okafor apologized for his recent behavior in a series of tweets:

The recent incidents involving Okafor are surprising—going into the draft, he never had any red flags for maturity or off-the-court issues. He’s certainly saying the right things after the fact, and he’s only 19, so hopefully this is nothing more than a small rough patch where he’s made some bad decisions, and not an indicator of things to come.