Kobe shows up to intervene in NBA labor talks


Kobe shows up to intervene in NBA labor talks

From Comcast SportsNet
NEW YORK (AP) -- Joined by superstars Kobe Bryant and Carmelo Anthony, player representatives from NBA teams are meeting Monday to discuss the league's proposal for a new labor deal. If the player reps endorse it, it would go to a vote of all players. If approved by players and then ratified by owners, the lockout would end, and a 72-game season would start Dec. 15. But if the union leadership rejects the offer, the league is prepared to offer a harsher proposal -- one players wouldn't accept, possibly triggering a lengthy legal battle and certainly jeopardizing the 2011-12 season. Commissioner David Stern has urged players to take the deal on the table, saying it's the best the NBA can offer and warned that decertification is not a winning strategy. The current proposal calls for a 50-50 division of basketball-related income. Players are still unhappy with what they believe are too many restrictions for big-spending teams that would limit their free agent options, but Stern said the proposal is far better for players than the one player reps said they would reject last week. Waiting is a proposal that calls for a 53-47 split of BRI in the owners' favor, a flex cap with a hard ceiling and rollbacks for current salaries. Players could seek further tweaks to the current proposal before putting it to a vote, but Stern repeatedly has said the league is through negotiating. "I want to answer this diplomatically. The next time we meet to discuss anything, we'll be discussing the 47 percent proposal," he told The Associated Press on Saturday. "This is it. We've been negotiating this for 2 years. The owners authorized a revised proposal, and they said if it's not acceptable and they want to keep negotiating, we present them with a 47 percent, flex cap proposal. They know it." Players also could vote to disband the union. Executive director Billy Hunter said last week he was aware that perhaps 200 players had signed a petition supporting it. But an antitrust lawsuit against the league would take months, so the best shot to play this season comes this week. Stern reminded players and fans of that Sunday during an internet blitz. He and Deputy Commissioner Adam Silver took questions on Twitter, and the league posted a memo on its website that Stern sent to players with a breakdown of various deal points. He urged players to "study our proposal carefully, and to accept it as a fair compromise of the issues between us." The league has withdrawn its demands for a hard salary cap, salary rollbacks and non-guaranteed contracts during the negotiations. But players still fear some of the restrictions on teams over the luxury tax would act as a hard cap, which they vehemently oppose. Stern has blamed agents for the misinformation about the proposal that has spread since Thursday. So players were eager to get in the room with Hunter and union president Derek Fisher and get the full details themselves. Chris Duhon, Orlando's player rep, wrote on his Twitter feed that the Magic would accept the deal. "The main thing is not going in with any preconceived notions," Minnesota Timberwolves rep Anthony Tolliver said. "We need to understand the ins and outs of the deal. It's just like last week, where we didn't understand the full extent of the deal until we got in the room face-to-face and talked it through."

Rewind: Power play paces Sharks in strange night at the Tank


Rewind: Power play paces Sharks in strange night at the Tank

SAN JOSE – First, there was a delay in the Sharks-Blue Jackets game when the lights suddenly went out late in the second period. Another interruption occurred in the third, when the referees decided to spend more time on an offside challenge that overturned a Brenden Dillon goal than the Warren Commission did on the Zapruder film.

In a few months, those occurrences may end up being more notable to many in the SAP Center crowd than the actual game result, a 3-1 Sharks win on Thursday night. Inside the home dressing room, though, it was a pair of goals by the second power play unit and a strong performance by goalie Martin Jones that will be how they remember this one.

Joonas Donskoi’s first period goal with Markus Nutivaara in the box staked the Sharks a 1-0 lead, while Tomas Hertl’s marker in the third period with Jack Johnson serving a tripping minor increased it to 2-0. Hertl added a late empty netter to seal it, after Scott Hartnell brought the Blue Jackets to within one with less then three minutes to go.

It was the second straight game the Sharks didn’t get an even strength goal in regulation (other than the empty-netter), yet found a way. They beat Anaheim in three-on-three overtime on Tuesday, 2-1.

“Right now the five-on-five goals are hard to come by,” Pete DeBoer said. “We're creating chances, but the power play won us the game tonight." 

Hertl said: “Exciting night for us, the second [power play unit], because we scored two goals.”

The newest addition to that unit, defenseman David Schlemko, assisted on each of the first two goals. He spotted Donskoi wide open in the circle on the first, and got a secondary helper on Hertl’s first goal.

Although they were his first two points of the season, Schlemko is quickly proving to be the second-most talented offensive defenseman on the team. He’s managed 20 shots on goal through eight games – exactly half of Burns’ 40, but nearly double Marc-Edouard Vlasic’s 11.

“It's nice to get [the points] of the way,” he said. “I feel like I've been getting lots of pucks to the net, so it's nice to see a couple go in finally."

Donskoi figured Schlemko would spot him all alone standing on the faceoff dot.

“He's pretty good with the puck, so I think he just saw me,” Donskoi said. “It's good to have a guy like that."

It’s also good to have a guy like Jones, who made some key saves early on the penalty kill and preserved the lead while Sergei Bobrovsky was making some potentially game-changing stops on the other end. Jones’ 24 saves lowered his goals-against average to 2.32, and upped his save percentage to .908.

“We had quite a few grade-A chances, [Bobrovsky] kept them in it pretty good,” said Joel Ward, who was stopped on an early second period breakaway. “Obviously Jonesy has been there for us since day one. It’s good that he’s feeling the groove, we’ve just got to put some pucks in.”

Neither Jones nor his teammates let the odd circumstances, including Dillon’s apparent goal that was nullified after a seven-minute delay in the third period of a 1-0 game, get to them. 

“There was a couple things there out of our control, but I thought considering that, we stuck with it and found a way,” DeBoer said.

Ward said: “We’ve got a good group and a mature group, and we know how to handle situations.”

The Sharks are also gaining momentum at home with their third win in as many tries, even if their own building doesn’t want to cooperate all the time with pesky details like keeping the ice surface brightened.

“With [the lights going off] and the disallowed goal it felt like a triple overtime type of game,” Ward said. “Haven’t seen that before, but hopefully since we won, maybe it happens again and we can capitalize.”

Schlemko wasn’t here last season, but he heard all about the team’s struggles at SAP Center when it was the only playoff team that didn’t win at least half of its home games (18-20-3).

“I think we wanted to clean up the home record and have teams know it's going to be a tough night coming in here,” he said. “It's been a pretty good start."

Efforts of Darnold, Jones lead USC over Cal


Efforts of Darnold, Jones lead USC over Cal


LOS ANGELES -- Sam Darnold threw five touchdowns passes, Ronald Jones rushed for a career-high 223 yards and Southern California downed California 45-24 on Thursday night.

Darnold threw for 231 yards, with Darreus Rogers making six catches for a career-high 97 yards, as the Trojans rolled up a season-high 629 yards of total offense. Aca'Cedric Ware contributed a career-high 130 yards rushing to USC's total of 398.

USC (5-3, 4-2 Pac-12) scored on three of its first four possessions, with Darnold finding Rogers, Jones and Deontay Burnettfor touchdowns. Rogers added a second touchdown catch with 28 seconds left, but two fumbles by Darnold allowed Cal (4-4, 2-3) to maintain a modicum of hope despite allowing 451 yards on 46 plays in the first half.

Webb threw for 331 yards and two touchdowns, throwing a ball up for grabs that was intercepted by safety Marvell Tell in the first quarter. Webb also rushed for a touchdown in the third quarter that cut USC's lead to 28-17 before Jones had a 37-yard touchdown run and Daniel Imatorbhebhe caught a 17-yard touchdown pass from Darnold.

Jones had 149 yards on eight first-half carries, as the sophomore broke out of a funk with starter Justin Davis (ankle) not in uniform.


Cal: The Bears have now lost 13 in a row to the Trojans since handing Pete Carroll's 2003 national championship team its only loss in triple overtime that season. Cal was always going to have trouble defending Darnold and USC's plethora of skill players, and that task was even tougher with a short week to prepare and mounting injuries. But with three home games left, Cal has a good chance at becoming bowl eligible if it can maintain its strong play in Strawberry Canyon.

USC: The Trojans are white-hot, with Darnold leading the way. The freshman quarterback has now thrown 16 touchdown passes in leading USC to four consecutive wins, playing with a fearlessness and fire that the team was missing at the start of the season, though his ball security must improve. The Trojans are more than capable of turning the conference race upside down when they travel to No. 4 Washington on Nov. 12.


Cal: The Bears host the Huskies on Nov. 5, a potential trap game for Washington.

USC: The Trojans host faltering Oregon on Nov. 5, seeking their first five-game winning streak since 2013.