Tag: New Jersey

Shaquille O'Neal laughs as he announces his retirement from NBA at a news conference in Windermere

Shaq wants to own a team, bring it to Newark. He means it.


What is it with former NBA players who want to own NBA teams in markets where everyone else is trying to escape?

You’ve got Michael Jordan in Charlotte (a once good market where George Shin salted the earth) and now you’ve got Shaquille O’Neal is talking about Newark. Shaq is from New Jersey and Newark has a team — the New Jersey Nets — for one more season, then they are off to Brooklyn.

Shaq talked to the New York Times and said he still plans to buy an NBA team someday.

Yes. And I’m looking forward to bringing a team to Newark. I haven’t spoken to Mayor Booker about it yet, but I’m working on it. I know Newark can support an N.B.A. team. And I’m going to be one of the guys that’s going to bring a team there.

The Nets averaged 14,179 people per game last season, which was 80.6 percent of the building capacity (sixth lowest percentage in the league). Newark didn’t look like a strong market. To be fair, they had a team renting space in town until they could go to Brooklyn, so why should fans turn out? That said, Oklahoma City turned out in force when hurricane Katrina forced a temporary Hornets relocation, and that energy paved the way for the Thunder to come to town (screwing over Seattle fans in the process).

Take this with some salt. It’s not that Shaq doesn’t want to bring a team to Newark, it’s that he wants to do a lot of things and his follow through is not always there. Don’t take my word for it, ask Kobe.

All-Star Game in Orlando may have December deadline

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Already, the deadline has passed for the first week of the preseason — the NBA has cancelled it. Without a handshake agreement in the next week, the rest of the preseason is at risk as well. Not long after that comes the start of the regular season.

But what about the All-Star Game? In 1999, after the last lockout, the All-Star Game was one of the things sacrificed to make sure teams could get 50 games crammed in before the playoffs.

The deadline for the All-Star Game scheduled for Orlando this February is mid-December, reports the Orlando Sentinel.

If it is lost, it will create a log jam of future games. The 2013 All-Star game is reportedly heading to Houston. The 2014 game has yet to be awarded but the owners of the new Barclay Center in Brooklyn that will be home to the Nets want the game as soon as possible. It could be 2015 before Orlando gets another kick at the can.

Let’s just hope it doesn’t come to that.

For Newark this isn’t a stopover, this is an audition

prudential center New Jersey
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The New Jersey Nets are using Newark and the Prudential Center as sort of a layover on the way to Brooklyn in 2012. Get out of the Meadowlands and into a better arena — read: more revenue streams — that is an easy train trip from New York to get the people in the boroughs ready for their arrival.

But that’s not how the fine folks of Newark see it.

They remember when hurricane Katrina blew the Hornets out of New Orleans up to Oklahoma City for a season plus and that city so embraced the team that when push came to shove about moving the Sonics, the league knew it had a viable fan base and market in OKC. (Then Hornets owner George Shinn wanted the Hornets to stay in Oklahoma City, and if nothing else we should thank David Stern for not letting Shinn ruin a third market.)

Newark sees this as its chance to prove it is big time and deserves an NBA franchise. And according to the Bergen Record, the governor talked with the NBA powers about that possibility down the line.

Governor Christie has had “casual conversations” with National Basketball Association Commissioner David Stern about the possibility of Newark getting another NBA team once the Nets leave for Brooklyn in 2012, he said Tuesday….

“I think there is a future for NBA basketball here in Newark,” Christie said. “I think that New Jersey having a state-of-the-art facility like Newark has here, you have the possibility of doing that. We support three [National Hockey League] teams in the region, so I don’t see why we can’t support three basketball teams.”

Sterns’ concern is a third team saturates the greater New York market (which is what Newark is considered). Those same concerns likely would greet any team thinking about moving to Anaheim with the Lakers and Clippers just up the 5 Freeway.

But this is Stern’s NBA — money talks. If Newark proves it can really support a team, sell out the luxury boxes and provide a solid base of season tickets, then anything is possible. If there is money to be made, the NBA will listen.

Chauncey Billups could play on moon, prefers Denver

Houston Rockets v Denver Nuggets
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Chauncey Billups is a Denver native happily getting to play out the end of his career in his hometown. Well, either that or the swamps of Jersey (and maybe Brooklyn in a couple of years).

Billups has been swept up in the momentum of the Carmelo Anthony trade rumors — he would be moved to the Nets as the deal is currently constructed. Partially because Anthony is demanding some quality players come East with him, partially because if they are rebuilding the Nuggets will not want Billups’ contract on the books for the next couple years.

Billups is a big boy; he gets the business end of the NBA. But he doesn’t want to leave, he is a veteran with a family established in Denver and told Chris Tomasson of FanHouse (on twitter) that was his big concern.

Billups most worried about possibly moving family if dealt. “I’d be able to play basketball on the moon if they had a flight there.”

Somebody forgot to tell Billups all those moon landings were staged by the government and were done on a soundstage. Still it has to be a tempting thought because in the light gravity of the moon Billups could leap like Blake Griffin.

Billups agent said that if traded the player would seek a buyout of his deal — which sounds a lot more like an agent negotiating for an extension, but it’s out there.

I asked Chauncey Billups if he’d seek buyout right away or summer if dealt to NJ. “That’s something that we’ll talk about later,” he said.

As for ‘Melo saying “tell Chauncey I’m sorry for sucking him into this little bit of hell” (not an exact quote, for the record), Billups responded:

“I really respect him and appreciate the fact that Melo is concerned with my future.”

If this deal goes down, Billups is on the move one way or the other. To New Jersey or the moon. You know, it is about time for Space Jam II.

Winderman: “Respect for the Game” not easy to define, even for LeBron, Terrence Williams

New Jersey Nets v Miami Heat

While much has been made of the NBA’s crackdown on “respect for the game,” with the league’s whistle-blowing onslaught of technical fouls, the sought-after upgrade in decorum is actually more about respect for referees.

But what exactly is respect for the game? Is it sideshow antics during games that seemingly make players bigger than their teams, and add insult to beaten-down opponents? It is muting such attempts with physical fouls in Oakley old-school style?

Saturday night’s Heat game against the Nets offered a perfect example on both counts, and plenty of reflection in these ensuing days.

At one point, free and clear for a breakaway dunk, Dwyane Wade instead flipped the ball over the rim for a LeBron James dunk. The two then went airborne for a full-body bump at midcourt during the ensuing New Jersey timeout.

Shortly thereafter, Nets swingman Terrence Williams rode James out of bounds with a shoulder block that was ruled a Flagrant 1 foul.

In the wake of that incident, there was plenty of back and forth, about the very subject of “respect for the game.”

To James, the respect was giving fans what they paid to see.

To Williams, it was about refusing to be anybody’s punchline.

Monday, the NBA said there would be no further action against Williams, no upgrade to a Flagrant 2 for the non-basketball play, no fine, no suspension.

Shortly before that league announcement, James grew brusque with a reporter who had asked at Heat practice about Saturday’s “circus” plays, with James also feeding Wade behind the back for an earlier dunk.

“We’re just an athletic team, just making plays,” James said. “There’s nothing circus about it. Everyone wants to put a ‘Showtime’ or ‘showboating’ on us. Nah, we just made plays. It’s not circus.”

Of course, everything about this Heat season is a circus. And we probably heard Terrence Williams’ name more this weekend that we heard it his entire rookie season.

But it is interesting that at a time when David Stern is stressing “respect for the game,” no one seems to know where that line falls, unless it comes to an askew glance at a referee.

Of course, it could be worse. At least Stern’s players aren’t spitting at each other.

Ira Winderman writes regularly for NBCSports.com and covers the Heat and the NBA for the South Florida Sun-Sentinel. You can follow him on Twitter at http://twitter.com/IraHeatBeat.