Stern: Christmas games in jeopardy if no deal by Tuesday
Commissioner David Stern said his "gut" tells him there will be no NBA basketball on Christmas without a labor agreement by Tuesday. That day, when owners and players are scheduled to meet with a federal mediator, is a "really big deal," he added.
Owners will then open two days of board meetings Wednesday, and without an agreement to bring them, Stern believes further cancellations are coming.
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"Right now, Tuesday, Tuesday, Tuesday, just before my owners come into town, having brought in the labor relations committee and Billy (Hunter) having brought in his executive committee, it's time to make the deal," Stern said Thursday. "If we don't make it on Tuesday, my gut — this is not in my official capacity of canceling games — but my gut is that we won't be playing on Christmas Day."
Stern canceled the first two weeks of the regular season on Monday when the sides couldn't reach a deal before a deadline he had set. Christmas is traditionally the first big day of the NBA season. This year's three-game schedule features the NBA Finals rematch between the Dallas Mavericks and Miami Heat.
Minor-league team signs Livingston
A minor-league basketball team in central Illinois says it has signed Milwaukee Bucks guard Shaun Livingston to play if the NBA season is lost to a labor dispute. Central Illinois Drive co-owner Scott Henderson said Thursday that Livingston will help promote the new Premier Basketball League team based in Bloomington, Ill. If the NBA isn't playing by the time the league's season begins in late December or early January, he says Livingston will play for the Drive. Henderson said Livingston, who is from Peoria, is friends with Drive Coach A.J. Guyton.
Obama will be on carrier for game
President Barack Obama will attend the Carrier Classic basketball game on Veterans Day on the USS Carl Vinson, the aircraft carrier that buried Osama bin Laden at sea. The White House confirmed Thursday that the nation's basketball-player-in-chief has accepted an invitation to attend the Nov. 11 matchup between North Carolina and Michigan State, the first college hoops game on an active flat top. James Worthy and Magic Johnson will serve as honorary captains for their alma maters.
The game will be played on the flight deck of the carrier, which is surrounded by military bases in San Diego. The court will be surrounded by stadium-style seating for about 7,000 fans, with most of the tickets going to active military personnel. Tickets won't be sold to the public. Game director Mike Whalen said Obama can sit "wherever he wants."
Tickets to LSU's opener are free
LSU's season-opening basketball game against Nicholls State in the Pete Maravich Assembly Center on Nov. 12 will be open to the public free of charge. The game is part of the second-ever basketball-football doubleheader on the LSU campus as LSU will have its homecoming football game with Western Kentucky that same day. All season ticket holders will receive a free ticket to the game for their usual reserved seat, and other seating will be available on a first-come, first-served basis on game day.
North Carolina: Coach Roy Williams was given a contract extension through 2018, along with women's basketball coach Sylvia Hatchell and baseball coach Mike Fox. Williams' base salary will be $325,000. He'll also receive supplemental income of between $1.35 million and $1.65 million annually, and an expense allowance.
Pittsburgh: Senior forward Nasir Robinson will undergo surgery Friday to repair a torn meniscus in his right knee. He is expected to miss three weeks. The 6-foot-5, 225-pound Robinson averaged 9.4 points and 4.9 rebounds last season.
Volleyball team beats Tennessee
Kentucky's volleyball team moved into a first-place tie in the Southeastern Conference with Tennessee after a 3-2 victory over the Vols on Wednesday night. The matchup of top-25 teams drew a crowd of 1,959 at Memorial Coliseum. No. 25 Kentucky improved to 17-3 overall and 8-1 in the SEC. No. 18 Tennessee fell to 15-3 and 8-1.
Djokovic will end year ranked No. 1
Novak Djokovic will finish the year as the top-ranked player in the world. The ATP says the Serb clinched the year-end top spot after No. 2 Rafael Nadal lost in the third round at the Shanghai Masters on Thursday. Nadal's loss to Florian Mayer ensured that Djokovic, 24, cannot be overtaken before the end of the year.
Sports in the courts
Reduced plea for hockey player's brother
The brother of former NHL strongman Derek Boogaard has pleaded guilty to a gross misdemeanor in his brother's overdose death, admitting he destroyed evidence in the case. Aaron Boogaard reached a plea deal in Hennepin County (Minn.) that lets him walk free with a stayed six-month sentence, plus probation and community service. Boogaard was charged with interfering with the scene of a death after admitting he flushed pills down the toilet after finding his brother dead in his Minneapolis apartment May 13. A felony charge against Boogaard for supplying a painkiller that contributed to his brother's death was dismissed last week.
Former champ Haye retires
Former heavyweight champion David Haye retired Thursday, ending a nine-year career in which he won world titles at two different weights and fulfilling a promise to quit on his 31st birthday. After failing to line up another fight with either of the Klitschko brothers, the former world cruiserweight and WBA heavyweight champ said he was leaving the sport to take up acting.
The last word
Detroit Tigers ace Justin Verlander, who has had two starts truncated by rain this post-season, when asked Wednesday night if he knew the weather report for Game 5 on Thursday:
"I'm sure it involves rain."