Suns trade Polish Marcin Gortat, reportedly apologize by offering free tickets to fans celebrating Polish heritage night

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The Suns will celebrate Polish heritage night during their season opener against the Trail Blazers tonight, Phoenix’s only game during Polish-American Heritage month. The Suns weren’t necessarily honoring Polish heritage solely because Marcin Gortat was slated to be their starting center, but they at least made Gortat a prominent part of the festivities.

And then they traded him to the Wizards.

Michael Lee of The Washington Post:

The timing of the trade caught Gortat off guard, too, because he assumed that he would at least make it through the first week of the regular season. The Suns planned to have Polish heritage night for their home opener on Wednesday and Gortat had flown in 25 people from his native country – including soldiers stationed in Afghanistan, the Polish minister of sport, the Polish ambassador and children from his basketball camp — for what was expected to be a fun week in Phoenix. But while they were arriving in Arizona, Gortat was catching a flight to start his new life in Washington.“They all was sitting there at a dinner and chatting about everything. I was sitting by myself in a hotel” in Washington, Gortat said, shaking his head. “So the last 24 hours have been hell. It was hard for me, at the beginning, but this is life. This is a business. The NBA is a big, big business.”

But all’s well that ends well. Those who bought tickets to the game using the code “POLISH,” will get free tickets when the Wizards visit Phoenix in January, according to the Polish American Congress Arizona Division (hat tip: Dan Steinberg of The Washington Post):

Ladies and Gentleman,

As you may have heard, we just received some unfortunate news about Marcin Gortat. He was just traded to play with the Washington Wizards. He will not participate in Polish Heritage Night on Wednesday as he will already be playing for the Wizards.

This is very disappointing.

I spoke to a representative of the Phoenix Suns and he encouraged all Polish fans to still come to the game and show the strength of the Polish community in Arizona as it cheers for their local team.

To make up for this unpleasant situation the Suns have offered all the fans who bought tickets thru the special web site a free ticket to a game on January 24, 2014 at 7PM in which Marcin Gortat will play with the Wizzards against the Suns.

I will let everyone know how these tickets will be issued (they may be issued at Wednesday’s game). I will also let you know if the post-game events have been cancelled.

That’s still a major bummer for the fans who came from Poland. I imagine many won’t be able to repeat the trip.

Hopefully, they can take solace in the fact that the best Polish player in NBA player is now in a much better situation, both for team and individual success.

Raptors unveil updated court design

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Several teams have updated their court designs this offseason, including the Bulls, Nuggets, Bucks and Hawks. The Raptors are the latest team to update their floor, to go along with a new logo and uniforms. Here’s what the Air Canada Centre will look like this season:

It features their new claw/basketball logo at center court and the font on their new uniforms at the baselines. The “We The North” along the sideline is a nice touch, too. Overall, the Raptors have done an excellent job with their rebrand, just in time for All-Star Weekend to be hosted in Toronto for the first time.

Former UCLA, NBA player Dave Meyers dies at 62

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LOS ANGELES (AP) Dave Meyers, the star forward who led UCLA to the 1975 NCAA basketball championship as the lone senior in coach John Wooden’s final season and later played for the NBA’s Milwaukee Bucks, died Friday. He was 62.

Meyers died at his home in Temecula after struggling with cancer for the last year, according to UCLA, which received the news from his younger sister, Ann Meyers Drysdale.

He played four years for Milwaukee after being drafted second overall by the Los Angeles Lakers. Shortly after, Meyers was part of a blockbuster trade that sent him to the Bucks in exchange for Kareem Abdul-Jabbar.

The 6-foot-8 Meyers led UCLA in scoring at 18.3 points and rebounding at 7.9 in his final season, helping the Bruins to a 28-3 record. He had 24 points and 11 rebounds in their 92-85 victory over Kentucky in the NCAA title game played in his hometown of San Diego.

Meyers Drysdale also played at UCLA during her Hall of Fame career.

Meyers assumed the Bruins’ leadership role during the 1974-75 season after Bill Walton and Jamaal Wilkes had graduated. Playing with sophomores Marques Johnson and Richard Washington, Meyers earned consensus All-America honors. Meyers made the cover of Sports Illustrated after the Bruins won the NCAA title.

“One of the true warriors in (at)UCLAMBB history has gone on to glory,” Johnson wrote on Twitter. “Dave Meyers was our Captain in `75 and as tenacious a player ever. RIP.”

Johnson recalled in other tweets how Meyers called him `MJB’ or Marques Johnson Baby when he was a freshman, and later in the NBA, Meyers was nicknamed “Crash” because he always diving on the floor for loose balls.

As a junior, Meyers started on a front line featuring future Hall of Famers Walton and Wilkes.

Meyers was a reserve as a sophomore on the Bruins’ 1973 NCAA title team during the school’s run of 10 national titles in 12 years under Wooden. The team went 30-0 and capped the season by beating Memphis 87-66 in the championship game, when Meyers had four points and three rebounds.

In 1975, Meyers, along with Elmore Smith, Junior Bridgeman and Brian Winters, was traded to Milwaukee for Abdul-Jabbar and Walt Wesley.

During the 1977-78 season, Meyers was reunited with Johnson on the Bucks and averaged a career-best 14.7 points. He missed the next year with a back injury. Meyers returned in 1979-80 to average 12.1 points and 5.7 rebounds in helping the Bucks win a division title.

Born David William Meyers, he was one of 11 children. His father, Bob, was a standout basketball player and team captain at Marquette in the 1940s. The younger Meyers averaged 22.7 points as a senior at Sonora High in La Habra, California.

Meyers made a surprise announcement in 1980 that he was retiring from basketball to spend more time with his family. He later earned his teaching certificate and taught sixth grade for several years in Lake Elsinore, California.

He is survived by his wife, Linda, whom he married in 1975, and daughter Crystal and son Sean.