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CBS Sports Garry Parrish on the impact of Kansas freshman Joel Embiid who is emerging as the top 2014 NBA draft prospect:
LAWRENCE, Kan. — It was clear in the preseason, if you spoke with anybody on the Kansas staff, that Bill Self and his assistants believed they had something special in Joel Embiid.
The freshman big was getting a fraction of the attention reserved for Andrew Wiggins.
But his so-called ceiling, they quietly insisted, was just as high.
Perhaps even higher.
I realized this for the first time in late September when I attended a KU practice while in town. I returned home still intrigued by Wiggins, of course, for all of the obvious reasons. But the lasting image from that trip was one of Embiid — alone on the court, perfecting post moves, smiling when his coaches instructed him to show me his Dream Shake.
Everything Embiid did seemed so natural.
The Lakers pass on re-hiring coach Phil Jackson, Select Mike D’Antoni in hopes of resurrecting their promising season:
Via David Aldridge NBA.com:
Showtime, or a veritable facsimile thereof, won.
In a stunning development late Sunday night, the Los Angeles Lakers opted to sign former Knicks and Suns coach Mike D’Antoni to a four-year deal as their next coach, ending negotiations with 11-time NBA champion coach Phil Jackson. He was believed to be the prohibitive favorite to replaceMike Brown, who was fired last Friday.
D’Antoni and former Lakers, Blazers, Bucks and Clippers coach Mike Dunleavy interviewed with the Lakers over the weekend. But they were fallbacks, interviews done just in case the Lakers, somehow, could not reach a deal with the 67-year-old Jackson, who’d won five titles in Los Angeles during two stints as head coach.
Cyclist Lance Armstrong Exposed; Loses All His Endorsements Over Doping Scandal, Including Nike Partnership
Portland Business Journal’s Erik Siemers on the Lance Armstrong fallout and it’s impact on Nike and the Livestrong Foundation:
A week ago, as the doping evidence against Lance Armstrong reached its summit, Nike Inc. remained steadfast in its support for the cycling legend.
On Wednesday, it changed its mind.
What happened in the last week remains an open question. But it would be easy to make a business case that Nike could have dumped Armstrong months, if not years, ago.
Cycling isn’t one of the brand’s major sports categories — being just a fraction of the size of, say, football — nor should it be. Cycling apparel and footwear, according to analysts, don’t generate enough revenue to justify the high production cost.
Armstrong’s value to the brand was in his prowess.
Nike cultivates athletes it believes are at the pinnacle of their sport — the best of the best. Its ties to cycling, therefore, were predicated not on the sport, but Armstrong’s status as a seven-time Tour de France winner and cycling’s most dominant athlete.
Once he was retired, though, Armstrong became a symbol of past greatness.
Advertising Age profiles Nike’s creative director Martin Lotti who oversaw its London 2012 Marketing strategy & new Volt craze:
You probably don’t know Martin Lotti. But if you watched the Olympics, you are definitely familiar with his handiwork.
He’s the man behind those shoes — the beautifully crafted, incandescent kicks that whizzed by on the feet of 400 Olympic athletes, including USA’s Ashton Eaton and Trey Hardee, Great Britain’s Mo Farah and France’s Renaud Lavillenie, enabling Nike to capture the Olympic gold in ambush marketing.
Mr. Lotti, 37, is Nike’s global creative director for the Olympics — an interesting title, since Nike wasn’t an official London 2012 sponsor. An industrial designer by education, he has been at Nike for 15 years, adding the “Olympic” aspect to his title just two years ago, while the brand’s preparations for the London games were already underway. His role is to focus on the Nike products that 3,000 Olympic athletes wear on and off the field, from design to deployment.
Painting Nike’s Flyknit shoe Volt, as that vivid neon-green-meets-highlighter-yellow color is called, was Mr. Lotti’s way to create a kind of “Team Nike.” Before London 2012, the brand matched the color of the shoe to the color of the individual athlete’s uniforms. It looked pretty, but it blended in. This year, hundreds of athletes across different national federations wore the same color, what Mr. Lotti called “the easiest way” to make a splash.
Sports Illustrated recapping an exciting NBA Draft with few trades but plenty of drama and surprises:
No. 1) New Orleans Hornets: Anthony Davis PF (Kentucky) The Hornets get their man, a dominant defensive presence and team-first talent who will now attempt to meet incredible expectations. The comparisons, to review, have been made to the likes of Kevin Garnett and Tim Duncan. The exciting part for Hornets fans is that Davis is likely a long ways from reaching his potential. He sprouted to his current height midway through high school and will be fun to watch develop. New Orleans hopes to re-sign free-agent shooting guard Eric Gordon and have him form a promising inside-outside duo with Davis.
No. 2) Charlotte Bobcats: Michael Kidd-Gilchrist SF (Kentucky) The Bobcats had everyone believing that Kansas power forward Thomas Robinson was their man. But in Kidd-Gilchrist, they’ve opted for a tenacious defender whose character, motor and ability to get to the rim are widely respected. He’ll have to improve his perimeter shooting to round out his offensive game.
No.3 ) Washington Wizards: Bradley Beal SG (Florida) The Wizards were excited about this pick all along, hoping that no one would get in their way of adding the dynamic sharpshooter to point guard John Wall in the backcourt. Shooting was a major priority for Washington, and the athletic Beal comes with the added benefit of being able to defend, get to the rim and rebound. He has been compared to a young Ray Allen as well as Eric Gordon. Many executives believe he’ll be a future All-Star.
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Sports Illustrated’s Rob Dauster on the college commitments of top prospects Muhammad and Noel:
“Wednesday was so much more than just the first day of college basketball’s spring signing period. With the nation’s top two recruits — Shabazz Muhammad and Nerlens Noel — announcing where they intend to spend their likely one-and-done seasons, every 2012-13 projection hung in the balance. Muhammad surprised no one by committing to and signing with UCLA, while Noel kept Georgetown and Kentucky fans waiting before revealing a ‘UK’ symbol shaved into the back of his trademark flat-top.
Here are five quick thoughts on their commitments:
1. Is this recruiting class fool’s gold for Ben Howland? UCLA coach Ben Howland needed this recruiting class desperately. After spending the last four seasons proving nothing more than his inability to build on the success of three straight Final Four trips from 2006-08, Howland watched as his second NIT-bound campaign in the last three years was punctuated by a story from Sports Illustrated that highlighted everything negative happening in the program. The notion that drew the most criticism was the accusation that Howland allowed Reeves Nelson to deliberately injure fellow team members without repercussion. As poorly as that reflects on the program, it looks even worse for Howland.
The fact that the ninth-year coach even managed to keep his job centered not only on his three consecutive Final Fours, but, perhaps more pressingly, on the idea that Howland could lure two of the top three national recruits in Muhammad and Kyle Anderson. Read the rest of this entry