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Tag:2012 All-Star
Posted on: March 6, 2012 7:03 pm
Edited on: March 6, 2012 7:12 pm
 

Report: Kobe fined for skipping All-Star events

Kobe Bryant took a hit in the pocketbook for not doing this. (CBSSports.com)
Posted by Ben Golliver 

23 of the 24 2012 NBA All-Stars showed up for a mandatory Friday morning media availability in Orlando. The one absentee -- Los Angeles Lakers guard Kobe Bryant -- called in sick. That proved to be a costly decision.

USA Today reports that the NBA fined Bryant $40,000 for multiple All-Star Weekend absences.
The NBA fined the Los Angeles Lakers guard $40,000 for missing a news conference and a mandated charity appearance for NBA Cares during All-Star weekend in Orlando.

In addition, the NBA fined Boston Celtics forward Paul Pierce and guard Rajon Rondo $20,000 each for missing their charity appearances.
Reporters stood around for the better part of an hour on Friday, waiting for Bryant to show up. Eventually, a league spokesman informed the crowd that Bryant would not be attending due to an illness.

Bryant did attend events later on Friday and eventually met with reporters before a Saturday practice session. There, he immediately brought up his absence when asked a question he didn't like.

"What type of question is that to ask me? Are you kidding me?" Bryant said. "Man, I was sick the other day so I didn't have to hear this."

According to StoryTellersContracts.com, Bryant's 2011-2012 salary with the Lakers is $25.2 million, tops in the league. The $40,000 fine represents roughly 1/630 of his salary. The equivalent fine for someone making $50,000 a year would be roughly $79.

Bryant's West team defeated the East, 152-149. Bryant finished with 27 points, 1 rebound, 1 assist and 2 steals in 34 minutes. He also suffered a broken nose when he was fouled by Miami Heat guard Dwyane Wade.
Posted on: February 27, 2012 12:05 am
Edited on: February 27, 2012 10:43 am
 

LeBron James wants to 'take back' late turnover

Fourth quarter. LeBron James. Again. (Getty Images)

Posted by Ben Golliver   

ORLANDO -- Another big stage, and another big mistake. This one doesn't really count, but don't try telling LeBron James that. 

The Miami Heat's prodigiously talented forward began Sunday night by dancing during playing introductions, shimmying with a wide smile for a global television audience. He ended it looking away from the camera, struggling both to maintain eye contact and to keep his head up.

That transformation is one we've seen before, and it was brought on by an all too familiar set of circumstances: the ball was in his hands, the game's outcome was in the balance and the fourth quarter clock was ticking towards zero.  Given the opportunity to win or tie the 2012 All-Star Game, James chose to do what he so often did during the 2011 Finals: He passed. Twice. 

With the East trailing the West, 151-149, James handled the ball out of an inbounds play, opting to find New Jersey Nets guard Deron Williams, who popped open on a screen, rather than attack the basket. Wiliams launched a deep three, which rimmed off. After a scramble for the ball, James came up with possession with roughly five seconds remaining, and Los Angeles Lakers guard Kobe Bryant hawking him near midcourt. James took a few dribbles to his right as New York Knicks forward Carmelo Anthony popped open to the top of the 3-point line, calling for the ball. Instead, James looked off Anthony and attempted to fire a pass through traffic to Heat guard Dwyane Wade, who was cutting in from the left corner.

The pass never had a chance, as Los Angeles Clippers forward Blake Griffin stepped over to easily intercept it. The East was forced to foul immediately to stop the clock, and the West went on to win, 152-149.

"I'll get over with it," a dejected looking James said during a post-game interview on TNT. "I can't turn the ball over like that, let my teammates down like that."

Later, in a post-game press conference, a somber James explained what was going through his head on the final possession.

"I seen my teammate open for a split-second, I told him I seen him open the first time and I didn't release the ball," he said. "When I tried to throw it late -- that's what usually happens and it results in a turnover. Definitely wish I could have that one back."

Here's video of James' late turnover in the 2012 All-Star Game via YouTube user nbaus3030 and @Jose3030.


Williams told reporters that he was the "last option" on the designed play out of the timeout. 

"Coach drew up a great play to give me a shot. There were a couple different options, I was the last option. We went through it and we missed our shot." 

East coach Tom Thibodeau, whose Chicago Bulls were eliminated by the Heat during the 2011 Eastern Conference Finals, said he considered calling another timeout after the loose ball but opted instead to let one of the league's best play-makers do his thing.

"He made a lot of big plays," Thibodeau said. "He made big shots, great reads. You have a scramble situation and an open floor, and you have a very dynamic scorer and a guy with great vision and good decision-making. You know, you can call a time-out and it allows the defense to get set, or you can trust his ability to make a play. Throughout his career, he's shown that he's capable of making big plays."

Given the overwhelming attention paid to James' late-game passivity against the Dallas Mavericks, how was this sequence of events anything but an absurd self-fulfilling prophecy?

James' reputation for late-game struggles added another chapter, and his turnover provided fuel for his critics while erasing an MVP-caliber performance. He finished with a team-high 36 points plus 7 assists, 6 rebounds and countless highlight reel dunks.  James even shot 3-for-4 in the fourth quarter, including 2 3-pointers, helping the East dig out of a 21-point deficit. Those shots and plays will be lost in another wave of "He doesn't want to be The Man when it matters" shouting. All the game-dominating good things disappeared with his fourth and final turnover of the game.

In a twist sure to intensity the endless "Kobe vs. LeBron, LeBron vs. Kobe" debate, James admitted that Bryant, a 5-time champion who has fashioned a reputation for never being bashful about pulling the trigger in late-game situations, was egging him on to shoot.

"Yeah, he was telling me to shoot it," James said. "You have some of the best competitors out on the floor at the same time. Not only me and Kobe, but D. Wade and [Kevin] Durant and [Anthony] and [Chris Paul] and all the rest of the guys. We all wanted to win, and it came down to the last minute or last seconds."

In those final seconds, James took the loss. And his reaction made it clear, because of the circumstances and the recent history, that he took it harder than you might expect given that it won't show up in the standings. No one -- not even a "King" -- likes to repeat the same mistakes.
Posted on: February 26, 2012 6:13 pm
Edited on: March 4, 2012 6:25 pm
 

Derrick Williams, Jack fight over Dunk Contest

Jarrett Jack did not think Derrick Williams did well in the dunk contest. (Getty Images)
Posted by Ben Golliver  

There's nothing better than making fun of the Dunk Contest and there's not much more exciting than athlete-on-athlete violence on Twitter, so get ready for a good time right here, right now.

On Saturday night, Minnesota Timberwolves rookie forward Derrick Williams had an up-and-down Dunk Contest. The highlight was his second attempt, a side-of-the-backboard, alley-oop assisted by Ricky Rubio. The lowlight was his third attempt, a string of misses as he tried to complete a self-toss, through-the-legs throwdown.

But it wasn't either of those dunks that set off New Orleans Hornets guard Jarrett Jack. No, it was Williams' first attempt, in which he rode in on a motorcyle with a mascot and then jumped over the bike to throw down a windmill.

On his Twitter account, @JarrettJack03, Jack objected to what he deemed a less-than-masculine scene.

"Definitely against all the man laws ever created. Dudes can't ride on the back of motorcycles," Jack opined. He later pointed out that Williams has a "cash register mouth," a reference to Williams' "underbite."

Jack went on to call the Dunk Contest the "worst... of all time" and explained that Utah Jazz forward Jeremy Evans, the eventual Slam Dunk contest winner, has "dolphin teeth."

It wasn't long before Williams, posting on his account, @realdwill7, felt the need to respond.

"Hahaa who?" Williams wrote when someone informed him of Jack's criticism, implying that he didn't know who the seventh year pro out of Georgia Tech was.

Later, he took an apparent dig at Jack's future with the Hornets, writing: "All I know is come draft night.. That team lookin for a point guard." Shortly thereafter, he realized it might be time to simmer down. "I need to chill. chill button pushed," Williams wrote.

After the extended back and forth, Jack suggested that perhaps Williams needed to be a little more self-effacing. "I hope the dude Derrick Williams aint takin it too serious they are just jokes," he wrote. "If you can't laugh at yourself, what can u really laugh at?"

So that's good. We've apparently reached a Dunk Contest detente. In case you were wondering, the next meeting between the Timberwolves and the Hornets will be on Mar. 10 in Minnesota.
Posted on: February 26, 2012 1:42 pm
Edited on: February 26, 2012 1:46 pm
 

Nike selling $130 Jeremy Lin shoes

Jeremy Lin has his own Nike shoes. (SlamXHype.com)

Posted by Ben Golliver 

It's gotta be the shoes. How else to explain the rapid rise of New York Knicks guard Jeremy Lin, the roster cut turned global icon?

Nike will begin capitalizing on Lin's incredible rise to fame by selling a $130 version of its Hyperfuse sneakers in New York Knicks colors, according to Reuters. To be clear, these aren't "Air Jeremy's" or "Air Lin" signature models, but they are the shoes worn by Lin this season.

Nike said it will launch the Nike Zoom Hyperfuse Low basketball shoes, built especially for Lin, this weekend in Orlando, Florida, where the NBA is holding its All-Star festivities.

"It's not a signature line but a version of the shoe that he's been wearing this season," the company told Reuters.

The Hyperfuse sneaker is one of the most popular models worn by NBA players. Lin's version features his last name on the tongue of each shoe.

The Oregonian provides additional details
.
The Oregon-based company sent out a notice this evening announcing the Nike Zoom Hyperfuse Low iD basketball shoe created for Lin, the New York Knicks point guard who emerged from near oblivion this weekend to fame. 

The $130 shoe won't be available at off-the-shelf retail, but can be created and purchased at the NikeID.com website. Consumers can replicate the exact customization options of Lin's shoe. 
Newsday reported that a Nike spokesman issued a "no comment" when asked whether Nike has plans to produce a signature line for Lin in the future.

Sneaker companies generally reserves signature lines for established stars. All-Stars Kobe Bryant, Kevin Durant and LeBron James each have signature lines. All-Stars Carmelo Anthony, Chris Paul and Dwyane Wade have signature sneakers under the Jordan Brand umbrella.

Image via SlamXHype.com.
Posted on: February 26, 2012 12:55 pm
Edited on: February 26, 2012 2:13 pm
 

Durant: LeBron, stars need to save Dunk Contest

Kevin Durant wants to stop things like this from happening. (Getty Images)

Posted by Ben Golliver 

There's a consensus: something big needs to change so that the 2012 Slam Dunk Contest never happens again.

In the immediate aftermath of Saturday night's Slam Dunk Contest, which was marred by zero All-Star participants, terrible dunks, too many scripted stories, an absence of judges and a sketchy fan voting process, Oklahoma City Thunder forward Kevin Durant made a clear statement: The NBA's biggest stars need to participate in future Dunk Contests.

"It's time for LeBron James, Mr. [Russell] Westbrook, Mr. [Derrick] Rose and Dwyane Wade to get in the Dunk Contest," Durant tweeted.

"Not me but I agree with the others," Wade replied.

On Friday, James told reporters that he would consider participating in the Dunk Contest if there was a substantial winner-take-all prize.

Durant's list of participants for a dream Dunk Contest is interesting, but imperfect.

Clearly, James is the holy grail. In the heart of his prime at 27 years old, he is probably the NBA's second best in-game dunker, trailing only Blake Griffin. A master of catching lobs, finishing with authority and getting way, way off the ground, he's an absolute no-brainer. Imagine full-court alley-oops, broken rims, backboard slapping. He could even dunk a ball then dunk his headband with the other hand as a response to all his hairline haters. He needs to do a Dunk Contest.

Westbrook, Durant's teammate in Oklahoma City, is an excellent pick as well. He flies at the rim like a scud missile, taking off from deep and finishing with plenty of force. He's got the charisma and moxie not to stand toe-to-toe with James too. He wouldn't shrink. He should definitely be in.

At 30, Wade's dunking prime is probably behind him, although he's still capable of putting anyone in the league on a poster. He would be better cast as the teammate/hype man for James and, realstically, these two would never face off against each other under any circumstances. If the Alpha Dog stuff is bad now, imagine the outcry and headlines if Wade somehow managed to upset James in a Dunk Contest. Let him throw the lob passes and dish out the daps.

Rose's inclusion by Durant is questionable. His physical talents are beyond reproach but his specialty is finishing lay-ups in traffic and/or after drawing contact, not dunking free of obstacles. Would he be compelling in this format? His personality doesn't exactly scream Dunk Contest. He's a technically sound dunker but his efforts are more likely to make you go "mmm" rather than get off your feet and scream.

If James and Westbrook are in this and Wade and Rose are out, the final two spots should be filled by Griffin -- obviously -- and either Dwight Howard... or Durant himself. Howard has been there, done that with the Dunk Contest many times before, but he always seemed to back up the stupid costumes and props with memorable dunks. His flying Superman slam/shove dunk, for example, will stand as a classic for decades. One of the all-time "Wow" Dunk Contest moments. Who wouldn't trade all of Saturday night's contest for that one dunk? No one.

While Durant is not a prototypical Slam Dunk competitor, he has absurd length, good hops, a star's personality and a respect for the history of the game that would likely inspire him to new levels of creativity. If anyone is going to come up wtih something that's never been done before, it's Durant. His wingspan would allow for up and under dunks from the baseline or behind the backboard. Surely James Harden could be on hand to provide the necessary passes and encouragement.

But this is exactly the problem. Everyone, including Durant, wants to see the stars in the Dunk Contest. But none of the stars, including Durant, is ready to step up and nominate themselves to be thrown into the ring.

No doubt, some prize money needs to be involved here, given how central an event this is on the NBA calendar. But the stars should look back at what past Dunk Contests have done for the likes of Howard and Griffin and realize that the "there's nothing to gain and so much to lose" argument doesn't hold much water. Does anyone honestly believe that James would fall on his face during a Dunk Contest? Come on. He would kill it, just like Griffin did last year, and then he would profit off of it for years to come, just like Griffin is doing right now.

Hopefully Durant's Twiter plea is the first in a wave that will finally convince these guys to suck it up and get out there. Peer pressure, in this case, is a very good thing.

Posted on: February 25, 2012 11:37 pm
 

Budinger's 'White Men Can't Jump' dunk on Diddy

Posted by Ben Golliver 

The 2012 Slam Dunk Contest was one to forget -- no, one to bleach out of your brain as soon as possible -- and it got off to a ridiculous start, with rapper/mogul/whatever Diddy setting up Houston Rockets forward Chase Budinger in a plot-driven riff on the 1990s classic, "White Men Can't Jump."

After an introduction from Diddy that included him shouting, "Black Power!" and declaring, "White Men Can't Jump," Budinger strode onto the court dressed like Billy Hoyle, Woody Harrelson's character in the movie, complete with backwards hat and everything. 

"White men can jump," Budinger said. "I'm about to prove it right now."

He then escorted Diddy to just outside the protected circle and set him up with a basketball. Diddy threw the ball up over his head and Budinger caught it one-handed, spread eagle as he jumped over Diddy with ease, and threw down a powerful flush on his first try. Budinger's Rockets teammate, Chandler Parsons, assisted on the timing of the pass.

Here's the video of Houston Rockets forward Chase Budinger throwing down his "White Men Can't Jump" dunk over Diddy at the 2012 Slam Dunk Contest via ClutchFans.net and YouTube user RocketsRed.


Posted on: February 25, 2012 9:20 pm
Edited on: February 25, 2012 9:26 pm
 

David Stern on relocation, arenas, Hornets sale

Posted by Ben Golliver

ORLANDO -- No new teams, no relocating teams if at all possible, and a few moments of appreciation for the majesty of world-class arenas.

Those were the takeaway business points from NBA commissioner David Stern, who held his annual press conference before All-Star Saturday, addressing a crowd of more than 100 reporters inside Orlando's new Amway Center. He was joined by deputy commissioner Adam Silver, who spoke up briefly on his particular areas of expertise during the roughly 34 minutes of questions and answers.

There weren't many surprises, and Stern stuck with his customary optimistic tone.

"We had this thing called a lockout," Stern said. "But the recovery has been spectacular for us, and the results of the collective bargaining agreement with the expected leveling of the playing field, and the ability for well‑managed teams to both compete more than our teams have had the opportunity to compete, by some combination of the hugely enhanced revenue sharing and the much larger luxury tax. So we're thinking that we're in for a treat over the years as this situation continues to improve."

But much of the nitty-gritty of the press conference was about tying up some of the uglier loose ends facing the league on the business side. Stern addressed an array of topics related to the league's teams, including ongong arena negotiations in Sacramento, the potential sale of the league-owned New Orleans Hornets, the possibility of an NBA return to Seattle, the New Jersey Nets' upcoming move to Brooklyn, and whether or not the NBA would consider expanding the league past its 30 current teams. Here's Stern's thoughts on each, one by one.

Sacramento Kings

The future of the Kings, who nearly relocated to Anaheim last year and have been hard at work to fund a new arena in Sacramento, drew more questions than any other topic, including New York Knicks guard Jeremy Lin.

"Write this down: life is a negotiation," Stern said, delivering the night's most memorable quip.

Stern met with Sacramento Mayor and former NBA All-Star Kevin Johnson on Saturday with talks expected to continue on Sunday, including representatives from the NBA, Johnson's office, the Maloofs and members of the league's Relocation Committee.

"We have several remaining points that will not necessarily be guaranteed to be bridged, but we're going to give it our best shot tomorrow," Stern said. "We all consider ourselves to have a March 1 deadline to either come up with a financing plan and a critical path to the construction of the arena or not."

Stern said that the NBA would not help "bridge the gap" by loaning money to the Kings. He also said both sides were invested considerably in the negotiations, but that doesn't necessarily mean a deal will eventually be reached.

"The Maloofs have stepped up, the City has stepped up," he said. "We're having very intense conversations.  Sometimes the best‑intentioned and most fervent workers don't quite get to the finish line because there are things that separate them... We're going to see whether we can bridge that gap.  I think both sides deserve it, particularly the City of Sacramento." 

Why hasn't a deal been struck yet?

"The City would like the Maloofs to make the largest ‑‑ both have come up with very substantial contributions.  It's really getting there.  It's just not there yet.  And we're looking for other ways, imaginative ways, to bridge the gap ... It's coming down to money after all of this?  Yeah."

The sale of the New Orleans Hornets

On Friday, reports surfaced that California businessman Raj Bhathal is leading a group into exclusive negotiations to purchase the league-owned Hornets with a deal expected to be struck in the near future. Bhathal would reportedly agree to keep the Hornets in New Orleans.

On Saturday, Stern declined to confirm that Bhathal was the individual involved in the exclusive negotiations, but he did confirm that one of two groups interested in purchasing the Hornets is being given priority in the negotiations. He also said that he was "optimistic" that a deal will be reached between the two sides.

"We are in discussions with one group," Stern said. "We have another group in sort of second place, waiting to see how we do with group one.  We're optimistic that we will make a deal with group one."

Stern said a deal with the new owners cannot be made until the NBA reaches a deal with Louisiana on naming rights for the Hornets' arena, which is expected in the near future.

"We're a little bit behind here because we haven't concluded our deal with the State yet, but I think it's moving closer day by day," he said. "It's progressing well, but it's not finished.  We expect to have it finished, I'm told, in the next week or ten days, and that's the period of time that we would like to hopefully have this deal for the sale of the club come into much sharper focus. 

An NBA return to Seattle?

In recent weeks, the city of Seattle and investor Chris Hansen have made some noise about building an arena in Seattle in hopes of landing a team to replace the SuperSonics, who relocated to Oklahoma City in 2008. Stern confirmed that he had been in contact with Hansen regarding the plans but he seemed to place some distance between the league and Hansen's plans. 

"Chris, who I had met about a year ago, called us two weeks ago to tell us what was going to be announced that Thursday, about a letter laying out a plan, and we thought it was a ‑‑ it sounded okay to us" Stern said. "Go for it. That's all."

Stern then said that his goal was to restrict the number of teams that would be available for relocation. 

"Right now what I'm working hard to do, in a perverse kind of a way, from Seattle's perspective, is to sell New Orleans to stay in New Orleans, and get a building for Sacramento that will enable the Kings to stay in Sacramento.  I can't say for sure [that a new arena in Seattle is] a pathway [to a replacement for the Sonics], but I will say that the only way to have a team these days is to have a world‑class building."

The New Jersey Nets' move to Brooklyn

Stern got back into salesman mode when discussing the upcoming move of the New Jersey Nets to the Barclays Center in Brooklyn for the 2012-2013 season. He lauded the building and sounded genuinely excited about a transformed rivalry between the Nets and the Knicks.

"We are very happy for Bruce Ratner and Mikhail Prokhorov that this building has not only risen from the ground, but it's going to be indoors, completely pretty soon, and it's going to be on time and opening," Stern said. "It is great for Brooklyn.  It is great for the Knicks.  We're going to have a spectacular rivalry. And it's going to be great for the fans of New York City and the NBA to have that kind of a rivalry and that kind of a new building."

Expansion / International Exhibitions

Asked whether the NBA had plans to add any teams, Stern ruled out any new North American franchises.

"I just don't see a North American addition," he said. "We're at 30, and we've got teams that we are working hard on to keep in their cities, to make strong through revenue sharing in our system, to grow their value, their fan base and the like."

Stern then mentioned the possibility, raised in previous years, of an expansion to Europe, before passing the microphone to Silver.

"We'll see," Silver said, with a smile that indicated you shouldn't hold your breath.

Rather than expanding, Stern and Silver mentioned plans to increase exhibitions and regular season games to be played internationally. No definitive plans were set, but both London and Shanghai were mentioned as possible destinations. London was previously scheduled to host two NBA games before the lockout schedule killed those plans.
Posted on: February 25, 2012 12:43 pm
Edited on: February 25, 2012 1:09 pm
 

Kobe Bryant All-Star Saturday sound bites

Posted by Ben Golliver   
Kobe Bryant took questions on All-Star Saturday. (CBSSports.com)

Los Angeles Lakers guard Kobe Bryant skipped out on Friday morning's All-Star media availability, citing illness. Later Friday, he magically recovered for a promotional appearance, and he looked in fine form Saturday morning while being swarmed by international media members prior to All-Star practice.

It didn't take long for Bryant to reveal the real cause of his illness: questions that irritate him.

"What type of question is that to ask me? Are you kidding me?" Bryant said, when a reported asked if he would root for the Los Angeles Clippers if they made it to the NBA Finals. "Man, I was sick the other day so I didn't have to hear this."

Further prodded for his preference in a hypothetical match-up between the Clippers and the Miami Heat, Bryant cocked his head to the site, as he is wont to do, and said, "Huh? I'd be on an island somewhere."

Jeremy Lin

Bryant experienced "Linsanity" first hand when New York Knicks guard Jeremy Lin exploded for a career-high 38 points against the Lakers at Madison Square Garden in February.

Before that game, Bryant said he wasn't really aware of Lin's game, but afterwards he sang a different tune, extending a complimentary review of the performance.

On Saturday, he went a different direction, attacking the NBA's talent evaluators for doing exactly what he had done in February: overlooking Lin's abilities.

"The biggest thing to me is how everybody missed it," Bryant said. "They all would be fired if I was the owner of the team. I hear this stuff about it coming out of nowhere and it's a load of crap… There had to be something there and everybody missed it."

Dwight Howard

Orlando Magic center Dwight Howard continues to draw the biggest media crowds with the game in his backyard and his future up in the air.

"It's a little awkward. It's a little awkward," Bryant said of the fact that Howard's trade demand is hanging over All-Star Weekend.

He then seemed to express some sympathy for Howard's frustration, perhaps hinting at his own feelings about the direction of the Lakers.

"He just wants his team [to win]… with players, sometimes there's a certain level of frustration when we don't feel like we're moving in the right direction."

All-Star Memories

Asked for his favorite All-Star memory from 14 selections, Bryant didn't hesitate. 

"For me the best memory of All-Star Weekend has always been my first All-Star Game. The Golden Greats -- [Michael] Jordan, [Clyde] Drexler, Charles Barkley, John Stockton, those guys. Always my fondest memory."

Los Angeles Clippers

Bryant said he's looking forward to playing with Clippers guard Chris Paul and forward Blake Griffin during Sunday night's All-Star Game. 

"We had a good time last year," he remembered. The 2011 All-Star Game was held in Los Angeles.  
Asked if he ever imagined that four Western Conference starters would come from Los Angeles, he delivered a punchline he seemed to have been sitting on.

"Yeah, it was just in Lakers uniforms. Clippers had none."

Mentoring

Given that the All-Star experience is now old habit for him, Bryant joked that he was merely looking for "rest and relaxation" this weekend.

He did say that he also enjoys evaluating the first-time selections to see who has "pre-game jitters" and that he seeks out younger players with certain characteristics to offer a bit of mentorship. 

"Certain players, if I see a little bit of myself in them in terms of disposition and work ethic, I'll help them out," he said, without revealing any names.

 
 
 
 
The views expressed in this blog are solely those of the author and do not reflect the views of CBS Sports or CBSSports.com