Arena workers among those to get screwed by lockout

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While the NBA owners and players wage war over how to divide up the fans’ money, there will be a lot of civilian casualties.

Millionaires and billionaires are waging the fight, but the people making $11 an hour to pour beer and get your hot dog, then clean up when you leave — people just scraping by — are going to be hit harder than any player or owner by this lockout.

The Los Angeles Times has a must-read story on this topic Wednesday, focusing on the Staples Center.

The situation is particularly acute at Staples Center in Los Angeles, because it’s home to two NBA teams, the Lakers and Clippers. While the other NBA arenas each host 41 regular-season home games a year, Staples Center has 82.

“It’s going to devastate these workers,” said Mike Garcia, president of the SEIU-United Service Workers West union, with nearly 1,000 members working at the three NBA arenas in California: Staples Center, Oracle Arena in Oakland and Power Balance Pavilion in Sacramento. “They have become very dependent on these jobs,” he said. The workers include janitors, ushers and ticket-takers who earn about $11 an hour on average.

An additional 700 food-service workers at Staples Center would be idled if Lakers and Clippers games were scrapped, said Tom Walsh, president of Hotel Employees and Restaurant Employees Local 11, the workers’ union.

The article goes on to talk about the hit the owners and operators of the areas will take, too. They will. It’s harder for me to have sympathy for them, these again are huge corporations with very rich people at the head who will get by.

The arena workers have it much worse. And it’s not just them in the arena — Staples Center is across the street from an entertainment and restaurant complex called LA Live that is jumping on Lakers game nights and busy for Clippers games. The barstools fill up, the restaurants see a lot more business. You can find a similar story near every NBA arena.

Those bartenders and waitresses are going to feel the pain of this lockout far more acutely than Kobe Bryant or Derek Fisher or Blake Griffin. These guys can’t go bartend in a European league for a few months to make up the income lost. Arena workers can’t get a job at the O arena in London for a few months to make some extra cash.

The owners and players will give lip service to how badly they feel about this, about the empathy they have for those caught in the crossfire of the lockout. But their actions don’t show that same concern.

PBT Extra bold prediction previews: Don’t expect more wins in Toronto

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After winning the Atlantic Division then getting thumped in the playoff two years running, the powers that be in Toronto decided it was time for a change.

The added DeMarre Carroll and made shifts to make this a more defensive-minded team, all because of dreams of playoff success (which for the Raptors would be making the second round). What this changeover is not going to mean is an improvement off the 49 regular season wins the Raptors had last season — they sacrificed some scoring to get this defense, and there is a trade-off.

That said, I still expect the Raptors to win the Atlantic. Maybe they make the second round of the playoffs (way too early to make that call).

How many regular season wins they get — and if they win a postseason series — for me is going to come down to if Jonas Valanciunas takes a step forward. Kyle Lowry and DeMar DeRozan will be strong, Carroll is an upgrade, but the big man in the middle will be the hinge for everything.

Mike Budenholzer smirks at lawyer calling Thabo Sefolosha ‘NBA superstar’

Mike Budenholzer, Thabo Sefolosha
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The funny part, via Robert Silverman:

The substantive part:

NEW YORK (AP) — NBA player Thabo Sefolosha, who was arrested outside a New York City nightclub in April following a confrontation with police officer, has a character “of the highest order,” his head coach, Mike Budenholzer, testified Thursday.

Taking the stand as the final defense witness in Sefolosha’s trial, Budenholzer described the Atlanta Hawks guard-forward as “highly intelligent” and a “hard worker.”

When asked by defense attorney Alex Spiro to describe his character, he said it was, “of the highest order.”

“Thabo is of the highest character,” he said during brief testimony in Manhattan Criminal Court.

The Swiss national is charged with misdemeanor obstructing government administration, disorderly conduct and resisting arrest charges stemming from a confrontation with officers outside a trendy Manhattan nightclub early in the morning on April 8. He has pleaded not guilty.

Officers testified this week that Sefolosha and former teammate Pero Antic repeatedly disobeyed their orders to move off the block and away from a crime scene that had been established following the earlier stabbing of another NBA player, Chris Copeland, and two women.

One of the officers also said Sefolosha lunged at an officer with his arm extended but was intercepted before making contact, eventually taken to the ground and arrested.

Sefolosha has testified that he was complying with orders and moving up the block as a particularly aggressive officer screamed profanities at him.

His attorney has argued that his client was singled out by the officer, who is white, because Sefolosha is black.

Sefolosha testified Thursday that he was trying to give money to a panhandler before entering an awaiting car when he was grabbed by police. He said his leg was kicked in the scuffle and he was taken to the ground, handcuffed and hauled to a police precinct. He suffered a fractured right leg, which forced him to miss the playoffs.

The case is the second one involving high-profile athletes accusing New York Police Department officers of wrongdoing this year. On Wednesday, the city agency charged with investigating police misconduct substantiated claims by former tennis star James Blake that an officer used excessive force when he took him to the ground last month after mistkaing Blake for a fraud suspect.