Michael Jordan and his wife filed for divorce

Michael Jordan and his wife, Juanita, filed for divorce Friday after 17 years of marriage.”Michael and Juanita Jordan mutually and amicably decided to end their 17-year marriage,” the couple said in a statement issued through their lawyers. “A judgment for dissolution of their marriage was entered today. There will be no further statements.”

Juanita Jordan previously filed for divorce in January 2002 but withdrew her petition a month later when the couple announced they were attempting a reconciliation.

The couple met at a Chicago restaurant during his second season with the Bulls and were married Sept. 2, 1989, in Las Vegas. They have three children: Jeffrey, 18, Marcus, 16, and Jasmine, 14.

Memphis Grizzlies fired coach Mike Fratello

The Memphis Grizzlies fired coach Mike Fratello on Thursday after an NBA-worst 6-24 start.

The Grizzlies’ career winningest coach, Fratello had a 95-83 record and had guided Memphis to consecutive playoff appearances. Tony Barone Sr., the Grizzlies’ director of player personnel, was selected to be the interim coach.

Fratello left his television career to take over the Grizzlies after Brown retired for health reasons. He had coached the Atlanta Hawks for eight seasons — where he was the NBA coach of the year in 1986 and the Cleveland Cavaliers for six years before going into broadcasting.

He ranked 19th on the NBA’s career wins list and 21st in games coached when he joined the Grizzlies. On March 4, 2005, he became the 19th coach to win 600 games.

Memphis had lost 11 of 16 to start the 2004-05 season but finished Fratello’s first season with 45 victories. He couldn’t repeat that success this year.

“I am sorry I have not been able to find a way up to this point to turn things around, and I understand why a change needs to be made,” Fratello said. “Things will get better with both an abundance of home games coming up and the eventual return of Lawrence Roberts and Kyle Lowry from their injuries.”

2007 NBA All-Star Balloting is out, LeBron lead the East

Lebron James All-Star MVPLeBron James and Dwyane Wade lead the Eastern Conference in votes received after the second returns of 2007 NBA All-Star Balloting.

Lebron James leads all Eastern Conference players with 1,323,989 votes; followed by Wade with 983,321 votes.

The Toronto Raptors’ Chris Bosh is second to James among Eastern Conference forwards with 497,283 votes. The New Jersey Nets’ Vince Carter (726,040) is second to Wade among Eastern Conference guards.

Miami’s Shaquille O’Neal leads all Eastern Conference centers with 855,544 votes; followed by the Orlando Magic’s Dwight Howard (665,434).

George Karl Has Been Around

Aaron J. Lopez, from the Rocky Mountain News writes:

Nearly three weeks into his NBA coaching career, the league was pitching a shutout against George Karl.

Nine games. Nine losses. One white-knuckled coach.

With each mounting defeat by his Cleveland Cavaliers, Karl found it more and more difficult to navigate his way to the arena.

“The car would not turn into the parking lot,” he recalled Wednesday. “I went by a few times. Then I’d turn around and say, ‘Let’s try to do it again.’ ”

On Nov. 15, 1984, Karl finally celebrated his first victory, a 102-99 win against the Atlanta Hawks. The Cavaliers proceeded to lose nine of their next 10 games but recovered to make the playoffs.

Karl’s ability to succeed after a 2-18 start to the season would be a sign of things to come.

More than 22 years after that first victory, Karl stands at the precipice of another major milestone. He will go for his 800th win tonight when the Nuggets face the Seattle SuperSonics at the Pepsi Center.

“No one ever thinks you’re going to win 800 games in the NBA,” he said. “The NBA is too volatile. Growing and changing, and keeping your good and changing your bad, is a part of surviving. I’ve never lost the passion for the gym.”

Karl also has never forgotten his humble beginnings.

After four pedestrian NBA seasons with the Cavaliers and the Golden State Warriors, he coached Real Madrid in Spain and the Albany Patroons of the Continental Basketball Association.

During practice Wednesday, Nuggets assistant Doug Moe donned a Patroons cap after hearing Karl boast about Albany’s record-setting 50-6 season in 1990-91.

“He’s making me wear the hat hoping people will ask me who they were,” Moe said. “And then I can say, ‘The Albany Patroons: best record ever in the CBA, coached by George Karl.’ ”

While Karl’s proud of his work in Albany and Spain, his most noted accomplishments have occurred during his 19 NBA seasons with Denver, Milwaukee, Seattle, Golden State and Cleveland.

Perhaps it is fitting that win No. 800 could come against the Sonics, whom Karl guided to the NBA Finals in 1996. During his seven seasons in Seattle, Karl won 384 games but left in 1998 feeling underpaid and underappreciated.

“I’m over Seattle,” he said. “I’ve said many times I would like to have another Seattle in my career. My hope is Denver will become another Seattle. We were a tremendous team. My problem with Seattle was financial appreciation. They didn’t want to pay me and didn’t feel I earned it.”

In the midst of a six-year, $20 million contract with the Nuggets, Karl now ranks among the highest-paid coaches in the NBA, and his résumé justifies the income.

His 799 wins rank 12th in NBA history, and he has a realistic chance of finishing among the top six, a list headed by Lenny Wilkens, Don Nelson, Pat Riley, Larry Brown and Jerry Sloan. Only Wilkens is retired.

“It means I survived,” Karl said. “I survived the dangers of being fired and never being rehired again.”

While Karl plays down the significance of joining the 800 Club, his players believe the game tonight will carry special meaning if the Nuggets leave the floor with a victory.

“I don’t care what he says, it’s in the back of his mind,” forward Carmelo Anthony said. “It’d be good to get 800 wins on his home court.”

Karl kept the game balls after his 500th, 600th and 700th victories and likely will do the same after No. 800.

“When I first started, I thought if I got to 250, I would be happy,” he said.

Anthony, who will serve the fourth game of a 15-game suspension tonight, will not see Karl again until Saturday, when the team returns from Oklahoma City. He joked that he might dump a bucket of water over Karl’s head to commemorate win No. 800.

Karl probably will celebrate by sipping his requisite postgame beer before shifting his focus to No. 801. His top remaining career goals are winning an NBA title and finishing among the top 10 in playoff victories (his 61 postseason wins currently rank 13th).

“I see retirement in my future a little bit more now,” he said. “I’m more desirous of just coaching and doing it the right way. I’m into the Buddhist (way of) searching for the reality of ‘Basketball is good, life is good’ – combining it and making it so that everything is good.”

How good are the Cavaliers?

According to John Hollinger in his ESPN insider article, the Bulls will be better the rest of the season and the Cavaliers are….

“Take a good look at the Chicago Bulls and Cleveland Cavaliers right now. If you focus on results, they look almost exactly the same — the Bulls are 16-12, the Cavs 15-11. If you focus on the process, however, one is among the best teams in the league, and the other is merely average.”

Of Cleveland’s 26 games, 16 have been played against teams with losing records. Only seven of the Cavs’ first 26 games have been against the vastly superior Western Conference, including only one against the five West teams with the best records. Additionally, 15 of the 26 games have been at home.

According to USA Today’s Jeff Sagarin, the Cavs have played the second-easiest schedule in the league.

If the Bulls are playing like a 56-win team and the Cavs are playing more like a 41-win team, which one’s odds do you like better the rest of the way? If the teams’ quality of play remains the same, history tells us their records will start to diverge really fast.

This, in fact, is precisely what happened a year ago when two teams — the Phoenix Suns and Milwaukee Bucks — hit the 25-game mark with identical 15-10 records. By the end of the season, the Suns finished with 54 wins, the Bucks only 40. It’s easy to say in retrospect that of course the Suns were the better team, but look back at what was being written at the time and you’ll see it wasn’t a unanimous opinion.

Tyronn Lue concerns the Cavaliers

Tyronn LueDespite the Cavaliers beating the Hawks earlier this month, Lue hit for 17 points and five assists.

“You have to look at the team as a whole, but Lue is definitely someone who has given us trouble in the past, especially with his quickness,” Brown said after practice Tuesday. “We have to make sure we don’t let him get loose, because if we do, it’s going to be a long night.”

James agreed with his coach’s assessment.

“We don’t go into games expecting that, but we are two good players trying to lead our teams to victory,” James said. “They match up with us pretty well. They always play us well and we always play them well. You know we’re going into their building and we beat them once and I know they don’t want that to happen again. So we have to have some intensity and try to do what we did last time.”

Ilgauskas finally found his game

Center Zydrunas Ilgauskas finally appears to have found his game. During the past three games, he has averaged 18.7 points, nine rebounds. James said it was just a matter of time before Ilgauskas ratcheted things up. “He’s just more comfortable. I think us moving when we give him the ball and not letting guards and defenders sit in his lap, he’s been able to get to the middle,” James said. “He’s going back to his baseline jumper. He’s just feeling pretty comfortable right now, and it’s good to see that.”

Roger Brown is Back!

WOIO Channel 19 has hired former Plain Dealer sports columnist Roger Brown to do “Roger Brown’s Insider Report.”  His segment, seen Mondays and Thursdays, debuts Monday, Jan. 15 on “19 Action News at Five.”  “Channel 19 is definitely the most provocative and most willing to push the envelope.  I definitely fit in with that,” Brown said.  His segments will encompass sports, news, politics and more.  Brown was among about 60 Plain Dealer newsroom employees who accepted a buyout package in an effort to cut costs.  He left the newspaper in late November after 19 years.