International basketball has never been more competitive with the U.S. than now, and this offseason, European teams have actually signed five NBA players to play basketball abroad than in the NBA. Sasha Vujacic and Andris Biedrins could have been two more familiar faces not coming back to the NBA next season, but their current teams dished out some favorable contracts to retain them.
Vujacic who averaged under 9 points last season is getting a 3-year, $15 million deal after receiving numerous offers abroad. How do I know it’s all about the money, contrary to what Vujacic claims? Because the Lakers offered $2.6 million a year earlier this month and Vujacic was ready to pack his bags.
Same deal with Biedrins. With a six-year deal worth a guaranteed $54 million, the Warriors’ big man, who averaged 10.5 points and 9.8 rebounds last season, makes Stephen Jackson, arguably their best player, the lowest-paid starter on the team with a salary of $6.6 million last year. The Warriors are creating as much a financial mess as the Nuggets, paying all of their starters big money, which prompted the Nuggets to recently give up Marcus Camby for a draft pick. Those in the Bay Area should be concerned.
Remember star Irish wideout Jeff Samardzija turn down the NFL draft for a shot at MLB? He made his career debut last Friday for the Chicago Cubs, throwing two innings of relief. On Sunday, he notched his first career save, reaching 99 mph with his fastball. Cubs manager Lou Piniella has said that Samardzija will be around to stay and even mix into the closer role with Kerry Wood out. A feel-good start for the ND alum.
No one’s ever had as good of a major league start than the Oakland Athletics’ Brad Ziegler, who broke a 101-year-old record of most scoreless innings to begin a career. With two scoreless innings on Sunday, the right-handed submariner has pitched 27 innings without a run to break the previous record of 25 innings set by Philadelphia’s George McQuillan in 1907.
What to do about college baseball and its antics? Allow me to provide a brief timeline of the recent history. First, there’s the batter’s perfectly executed kick to the catcher. Then, there’s the manager’s hilarious antics by my one and only minor league Braves. And now this. Coaches and players both involved. And a fan. The pitcher (yes, he was a pitcher) who chucked the ball is facing a felony charge, and 17 players were ejected. However, the punishment was quickly retracted because the teams were unable to finish the game. I’m calling the use of a bat in the next minor league fracas.
Rafael Nadal breezed by Nicolas Kiefer in the Toronto Masters 6-3, 6-2 on Sunday to claim his fifth title in a row. It was the first tournament for the 22-year-old Spaniard since the epic Wimbledon final, and Rafa can become the first men’s top-ranked tennis player in four years depending on how he fares in this week’s Masters Series tournament. Where was Roger Federer last week? Upset in his opening match to unseeded Gilles Simon.
Big ups to the Philadelphia Soul for capturing its first-ever AFL title Sunday over the defending champion San Jose SaberCats. The Soul almost blew a 17-point lead with 39 seconds left before hanging on for a 59-56 victory. Matt D’Orazio accounted for all eight of his team’s touchdowns, throwing for seven and running for another. And somehow, owner Bon Jovi has something to do with the team’s success in only its fifth year in existence.
Carlos Sastre won the 2008 Tour de France on Sunday by 58 seconds over pre-race favorite Cadel Evans. Soon after, a fourth biker on the Tour was arrested and detained for doping. This event has become more shamed than NASCAR and its Brickyard display.
There is a headline on ESPN.com that reads, “is mixed martial arts mainstream?” Are you kidding? MMA is as trendy now as backing Barack Obama for president.
People are talking about how Candace Parker got off too easy with a 2-game suspension because she’s the “golden girl” of the league. Please. Detroit assistant coach Rick Mahorn, who also received a two-game suspension, should be publicly beat by his momma after what he did to Lisa Leslie.
So is this year’s U.S. Olympic team Kobe‘s or LeBron‘s team? Annoying SoCal analysts say LeBron had his chance in 2004 and has a bronze to show for it. Kobe will be the difference but on a team LeBron’s already on. I think the same can be said for LeBron if Kobe played in 2004 sans the King.