- Created on 15 April 2013
The Atlanta Hawks penultimate game of the regular season, and the team's final home game, against the Toronto Raptors at Philips Arena on Tuesday night has been moved from 7:30 p.m. to 8:00 p.m. ET and will now be televised by TNT. It will be the first of two games airing on the network that night.
The change was made because the game between the Indiana Pacers and Boston Celtics was canceled in light of the bombing that took place at the Boston Marathon on Monday afternoon. The Hawks were originally slated to play only on local television.
Tuesday's game between the Celtics and Pacers is of no consequence to the standings as both teams have made the playoffs and already are locked into their seedlings, so the NBA canceled the game outright.
"Out of respect to all those who have been impacted by the tragic events today in Boston, including members of the extended Celtics family, the Boston Celtics and the NBA have decided to cancel the game scheduled for Tuesday, April 16, between the Boston Celtics and the Indiana Pacers," read a statement on the Boston Celtic's website.
The statement went on to say, "The game will not be rescheduled. Instructions for any fans holding tickets to the game will be provided on Celtics.com after 3 p.m. on Tuesday, April 16."
The team had earlier sent out condolences to those affected by the bombing.
"Our sincere sympathies go out to all those affected by this senseless tragedy," the statement read. "The entire Celtics organization would like to acknowledge the heroic efforts of the brave civilian, police, fire and medical personnel responding today in the City of Boston."
TNT will now air the Toronto at Atlanta game at 8 p.m. immediately followed by the Portland Trailblazers at the LA Clippers at 10:30 p.m.
The New England Patriots also released a statement Monday night, saying their "thoughts and prayers are with the families of the victims and all who were injured by the bombings.
"Due to the tragic events, the Patriots have respectfully postponed their pre-draft press conference that was scheduled at Gillette Stadium on Tuesday, April 16. We plan to reschedule the press conference later this week."
With just two games remaining, the Hawks need a victory to hold off Chicago for the fifth seed in the Eastern Conference playoffs. The Bulls hold the tie-breaker over Atlanta, though, having won two of the three meetings. The Hawks finish the season in New York against the Knicks, a team that has already locked up the East's number two seed.
The Hawks will face fourth-place Brooklyn if they finish fifth, and Central Division champion Indiana should they fall to sixth. They've split their four games with each club.
National TV schedule for April 16:
Local Eastern Network
Toronto at Atlanta 8:00 PM 8:00 PM TNT
Portland at L.A. Clippers 7:30 PM 10:30 PM TNT
Notice of the updated NBA schedule was sent out April 15 at 9:34 p.m. ET
- Created on 15 April 2013
The Southern Intercollegiate Athletic Conference (SIAC) released its seeding and pairings for the 2013 SIAC Softball Championships, which will take place Thursday, April 18 through Saturday, April 20, at Gerald Matthews Sports Complex (1935 McDonough Road, Hampton, Ga., 30228).
The defending 2012 SIAC Softball Champions, Miles College, enter the tournament as the #1 seed from the Western Division, while Albany State University enters as the top seeded team from the East Division.
The Lady Bears finished the regular season with a 25-18 record overall and 22-2 record against SIAC opponents to claim the West Division title. The East Division Champions Albany State wrapped up the regular season also with a 22-2 record, while finishing the regular season 29-23 overall.
Both teams received first round byes in the opening round along with the #2 seed from the West Division, Stillman College, (21-17, 19-7 SIAC), and Claflin University, (27-13, 16-6), the #2 seed in the East Division.
Opening round games on Thursday will feature #4E Fort Valley State v. #5W LeMoyne-Owen College and #3W Kentucky State University v. #6E Paine College at 10 am, as well as #4W Tuskegee University v. #5E Benedict College and #3E Clark Atlanta University v. #6W Lane College at noon. Winners of the opening round games will advance to take on one of the top four seeds with the other teams moving to the loser's bracket.
- Created on 15 April 2013
There is no question that Brittney Griner is a spectacular women’s basketball player. She’s a 6’8”, 208-pound beast who is the all-time NCAA leader in blocks – for men and women – and is probably player in women’s college basketball today. She’s the best player in the history of Baylor basketball, the best defensive player in women’s NCAA history and her impact on every game she plays in is undeniable.
She’s the three-time Big 12 Player of the Year, four-time Big 12 Defensive Player of the Year, a three-time AP All-American (twice first team, once second team), she’s an NCAA champion and 2012’s Final Four Most Outstanding Player and Player of the Year. In 2012, she blocked more shots by herself than any other Division I women’s team. She did that while averaging 23 points, 9 rebounds and 5 blocks per game.
She is a phenom who can bring two-way dominance to the next level in the WNBA and immediately change the fortunes of whatever team she joins.
Any other year it would be positively foolish not to take her with the number one overall pick, but this is not any other year. In 1984, the Portland Trailblazers had the second pick in the draft and used it on Sam Bowie, a 7'1" star center with a great college career who everyone thought was the smart pick. With the next pick the Chicago Bulls drafted Michael Jordan.
The WNBA Draft will be televised in primetime for the first time in the league’s history, Monday night at ESPN’s headquarters at 8 p.m.
The Phoenix Mercury have the top pick and in this year’s draft there is a transformative figure who is going to change the face of women’s sports and the face of basketball. She will be not just the next big thing, but the biggest thing we’ve ever seen in women’s athletics at any level.
Skylar Diggins, if she so chooses, is going to be the Michael Jordan of women’s basketball. She will take the WNBA to a new level, in terms of exposure, popularity and revenue.
Great players with the size and skill of Griner and Elena Delle Done (6’5” with deep range and a serious handle) don’t come around often, but transformative figures like Diggins come around once in a generation, maybe once in a lifetime.
The WNBA has been looking for its Michael Jordan since it was launched and this is one pick that absolutely has to be made with the understanding that it is bigger than next season.
First, and let’s just get this out of the way now, Skylar Diggins is gorgeous. There have been attractive female basketball players before, but Diggins is something else. Celebrities like Lil Wayne have taken a shine to Diggins and even made trips to see her play. This will only increase as her exposure at the pro level grows. It’s hard to look good running up and down a basketball court for two hours, but she pulls it off very, very well.
But she’s not just a pretty face with a little bit of game. Diggins’ up-tempo, high-risk, high-energy style is going to be a huge fan draw. She’s not afraid to dive for a loose ball, throw a pass behind her back, argue with referees or chest bump a teammate after a big play. Her heady mix of exuberance, intelligence and enthusiasm on the court make her fun to watch and a fun teammate with whom other stars want to be on the court. Her presence makes her teammates better, the game faster and gets the fans excited. Fans may come to stare at her beauty, but they’ll stay to watch her game.
Most importantly, Skylar Diggins has “it,” that unexplainable star quality that just makes people want to be around her. She’s a smart and savvy young woman off the court and she’s not afraid to cry, as she did after a big win over UConn in 2012; or make a wise crack, as she did when being interviewed during halftime of Notre Dame’s final home game this season; or shut a reporter down, as she did when she didn’t like a question following the team’s 2012 tournament loss to the Huskies.
She lives for the big shot and the big moment and she’s not afraid to come up short. She plays with emotion and heart and, quite frankly, her swag is off the charts.
If she makes the right calls and surrounds herself with the right people, she’ll be a household name with more endorsement offers than she has time to say no to and an adoring public eager to eat from the palm of her hand.
Brittney Griner and Elena Della Donne are great, impact players who will likely have long, storied careers in the WNBA, but Skylar Diggins is more than a player, she is the future. The franchise(s) that passes on her will regret it for years and years to come.
- Created on 15 April 2013
The Santos Football Club of Brazil entered the city of Atlanta along with 'The King of Football,' Pelé on Aug. 28, 1968. In front of 26,713 spectators at the Atlanta-Fulton County Stadium, the largest crowd ever at a soccer game in Atlanta, Pelé dazzled the crowd, scoring three goals and barely missing a fourth en route to a 6-2 victory of the city's professional team, the Atlanta Chiefs.
Pelé, who was the world's highest-paid athlete at the time, had become an integral role player to the growth of soccer in Atlanta. Atlanta's progression as a soccer powerhouse would eventually deteriorate just as fast as it began to flourish.
Today, the Atlanta Silverbacks, a revitalized minor league team of the North American Soccer League (NASL), are the last remaining fragments of a city that used to be a soccer Mecca. Atlanta is the largest television market without a Major League Soccer (MLS) team and the southeast is the only part of the country without a single MLS franchise.
"I believe that there is now a lot of potential here, Atlanta is a massive hub for everything," said Joe Nasco, goalkeeper for the Silverbacks. "Why wouldn't a MLS team look to come here to possibly start a team?"
Soccer has now become one of the top extracurricular activities amongst youth programs in the city's suburbs, and Atlanta has a long and storied history of the game that dates back to the beginning of the 20th century.
Atlanta can trace its soccer roots as far back as 1912 when amateur players gathered at Piedmont Park to play. Soon leagues began to develop during the 1920s and 1930s and Emory University became the first school in the state to form a collegiate soccer program in 1958.
The dynamics of soccer in Atlanta would soon change drastically after the 1966 World Cup in England. The success of the popular event spurred international interest in the sport, causing the launch of the NASL in 1967.
Dick Cecil, who had acquired a baseball team for Atlanta the year before from Milwaukee (the Atlanta Braves) also invested in the country's new venture and purchased professional soccer for the city.
The Atlanta Chiefs would play their first season in 1967 under head coach Phil Woosnam, who established a core roster of recruits from overseas. The Chiefs won the NASL's inaugural league title and Atlanta's first professional sports championship in 1968, catapulting the game of soccer citywide.
The Chiefs were able to finish as runners up to the NASL title in 1971 before being sold to the owners of the Atlanta Hawks in 1973. The franchise would change its name to the Atlanta Apollos and played at Georgia Tech's Bobby Dodd Stadium.
The NASL was starting to struggle in the early 1970s, as 10 teams in the league folded. The Atlanta was one such victim, dismantling a growing soccer empire in 1972.
Atlanta entrepreneur Ted Turner tried to revitalize soccer in Atlanta in 1979 when he obtained ownership of the Colorado Caribous, another NASL franchise, and moved them to Atlanta, renaming the team the Chiefs. The franchise's second stint only lasted from 1979-1981 when it folded completely.
Soccer was at a standstill in Atlanta until the 1996 Summer Olympic Games. More than 1.8 million people were in attendance for the men's and women's soccer events during the summer games. Even though the preliminary matches before the medal rounds took place throughout the Southeast, all eyes of the soccer world were glued to Sanford Stadium at the University of Georgia. It was there that Nigeria won the men's gold medal and the U.S. women's team defeated China for the gold.
The 1996 Olympics was the first year women's soccer was played as an Olympic medal sport. The U.S. gold medal game against China drew 76,481 spectators, a record number for people in attendance for a women-only sports event in the United States, re-announcing Atlanta's presence in the soccer world.
The American excitement over women's soccer eventually led to the formation of the Women's United Soccer Association (WUSA) in 2001. The city would receive its first professional soccer team in 20 years, the Atlanta Beat. The Beat were fairly successful, making it to the finals of the league championship twice. Atlanta was also home to the WUSA's headquarters.
Unfortunately after financial restructuring in three seasons, the league would suffer a collapse in 2003.
The Atlanta Beat would return in 2009 as members of a newly formed Women's Professional Soccer (WPS) league. The Beat played their games at Kennesaw State University Soccer Stadium until another league suspension in 2012.
Jahbari Willis, a native of Stone Mountain and forward for the Atlanta Silverbacks, grew up playing in what he called a 'melting pot' of players who became close knit due to the small nucleus of soccer in the area.
"It was extremely competitive growing up and there were fewer leagues," said Willis. "Now you're seeing a bunch of teams coming from different places and they're all filled with kids hungry to play, so I think the game has definitely grown during my time period."
The MLS is currently comprised of 19 teams, 16 in the U.S. and 3 in Canada. The growth of youth soccer in and around the city could lead to Atlanta becoming team number 20.
"The amount of people that are involved in soccer in Georgia alone is unbelievable and I know that the people would come out and support a professional soccer team," assistant coach Franklin McIntosh told the Daily World. "The stadium we have here, we're selling it out basically every week and a great indicator will be this summer with the Gold Cup because the quarterfinals are here in Georgia.
"I think if we have a good showing as far as attendance for those games, which will go a long way into maybe influencing some people's decisions into bringing a team here."
The Confederation of North, Central American and Caribbean Association Football (CONCACAF) Gold Cup is a tournament held every two years to determine the regional soccer champion of North America, Central America, and the Caribbean. The quarterfinals will be held in Atlanta in the Georgia Dome July 20.
"I think to Atlanta, the Silverbacks are a sign of professional soccer growing and the popularity of soccer in Atlanta not only, but the U.S.," said Willis. "It's a homing beacon, every year there is growth and expansion and with this group we have now, this is basically our year to say that Atlanta soccer is ready to be a part of the big sports world."
The Silverbacks, who won their season opener last Saturday, will host their second home game of the season against the Minnesota United Saturday, Apr 27 at 7:30 p.m. at Atlanta Silverbacks Park in Chamblee.
- Created on 12 April 2013
Major League Baseball Commissioner Bud Selig said Tuesday he was organizing a 17-member diversity task force that will investigate and discuss the issues concerning the on-field participation by African Americans in the majors.
"I don't want to miss any opportunity here," Selig said. "We want to find out if we're not doing well, why not, and what we need to do better. We'll meet as many times as we need to to come to meaningful decisions.
The numbers show that on opening day only 8.5 percent of players on the 25-man MLB rosters were African American, while the World Series champion San Francisco Giants and several other teams had no African Americans on their roster.
According to new research conducted by Mark Armour, from the Society of American Baseball Research, the highest percentage of African Americans playing in the majors was in 1986.
"I really think our history is so brilliant when it comes to African-Americans," Selig said. "You think about the late 1940s, the 1950s — wow. And you look at that and you say to yourself, 'Why did it not continue, and what could we do to make sure it does continue?' "
The diversity task force will have its first meeting in Milwaukee with Dave Dombrowski who is the president of the Detroit Tigers and also serves as the chairman of the committee.
Other committee include: Bernard Muir, the athletic director at Stanford, Frank Marcos, the director of baseball's scouting bureau, former Mets manager Jerry Manuel and other front office executives.