NBA to start season with replacement referees

According to an earlier report by Yahoo Sports, the NBA will proceed with replacement referees after the National Basketball Referees Association rejected the NBA’s proposal Sunday.

According to the memo, the sides had agreed in principle to a new two-year deal last Friday. But the NBRA rejected the proposal Sunday.

“On Friday of last week, we reached an agreement in principal on the terms of a new two-year collective bargaining agreement with the negotiators for the National Basketball Referees Association. On Sunday night, the membership of the NBRA voted to reject that agreement. As a result, we have no expectation of concluding a timely labor contract with the NBRA, and are proceeding with replacement referees.”

According to the NBA, this is not the first time that commitments made by the NBRA  were not met.

According to the memo:

“The agreement in principal reached with the NBRA’s negotiators would have resulted in overall savings in the NBA’s referee program costs next year of approximately 3.5 percent, plus additional savings from agreed-upon attrition. Modest increases in referee salaries (by 2 percent over two years) would have been offset by decreases in health and welfare benefits, air travel and per diem policies, and playoff compensation. In addition, structural changes would have been made to referee retirement benefits, including converting the existing defined benefit pension plan to a defined contribution plan.”

The contract expired Sept 1 and both sides have been unable to reach a deal. The NBA said that previous deals with the officials have been for five years, but the league agreed to make it two in this contract so the referees could renegotiate sooner.

The NBA will release the replacement refs roster before the first preseason game, schedule for Thursday at Utah. The league last used replacement officials early in the 1995-96 season.

Delonte West misses first day practice

Delonte West fresh season start is not off to a good start.  On first day of training camp, Delonte West didn’t report to practice.

“On a personal note, you always hope he’s doing well,” Cavs coach Mike Brown said. “But I have to continue looking forward and coaching this team. Whether it is Delonte or somebody else, if they miss practice and it is unexcused it will be handled internally.”

Team manager Danny Ferry is handling the issue and not sure if Danny or anyone have been in contact with West.

West has been battling a mood disorder his whole life and last year talked about his issues publicly after leaving the team during training camp to seek treatment.

Shaquille O’Neal ready to share the spotlight

At the team’s annual media event that was held at the Cleveland Clinic Courts Monday in Independence, the Cavaliers newest and biggest off season addition, Shaquille O’Neal did his best with the media to put his role in perspective alongside Lebron James.

“I’m 37 years old; it isn’t my time anymore,” O’Neal said. “I had my time, and I did what I did. I’m not one of those players that always thinks it is his time. It would not be advantageous for me to take 30 shots a game when you have a guy like [LeBron]. We’ll get him the ball and let him do what he does, and when he drops it off to me, I’ll do my job.”

“It is [LeBron’s] team, and he’s going to have the ball the most, and it is our job to make him look good,” O’Neal said. “I don’t have to say it, every team that has a great 1-2 punch with a guard and a big man, the guard has always been that guy and the big man has been the other guy. At this point in my career, I accept that.”

O’Neal won three championships alongside Kobe Bryant with the Lakers. He won one championship when he played for the Miami Heat alongside Dwyane Wade. Now his mission is to win his fifth championship, but this time will try to win it alongside Lebron for the Cleveland Cavaliers.

Lebron is very excited about the possibility to have Shaq on his team:

“I never thought I’d play with Shaq,” James said. “I dreamed about it. I dreamed about playing with other Hall of Famers. This is great for the city, for the team and for me.”

“When you have a 1-2 punch like that, then they have to double-team somebody,” said James. “Now, we have another guy they have to double-team.”

NBA to unveil social media policy this week

twitterThe NBA will introduce its guidelines for players, coaches and team officials on using social media sites such as Twitter and Facebook later this week.

The guidelines are expected to be minimal and less stringent than the guidelines announced earlier by the NFL.

The primary restriction of the policy is expected to prevent teams from tweeting during games including halftime.

However, individual NBA teams will have the right to impose their own standards that might be more strict as seen with the NBA dress code with some teams.

Furthermore, the NBA’s new policy will treat social-networking commentary in the same manner as comments made in the traditional media, which means that anyone in the league can be fined or otherwise sanctioned for posts via Twitter, Facebook, etc., that are deemed over the line.

NBA players will be encouraged not to talk about team business on Twitter to avoid fines and other problems.

Formal confirmation of the new policy is expected from the league office this week after teams are officially notified.

O’Neal Gets Good First Impression of Cleveland

Shaquille O’Neal was welcomed to town Sunday with a star-studded party that included sports celebrities and Average Joes looking to rub elbows with them.

O’Neal arrived in an SUV at 11:15 p.m. as fans cheered on the sidewalks and took pictures of him and other celebrities who joined the party. Shaquille’s first impression of Cleveland was a good one:

“It’s a nice town,” he said. “The entertainment is already here. Everything is here. The Browns are here, LeBron is here and now I’m here.”

Fans lined up more than an hour outside The Barley House in the downtown Warehouse District for a chance to see Shaq. One fan was holding a life-size cardboard cutout of O’Neal in an Orlando Magic uniform.

Lebron James was a no-show, but Cavaliers teammates Mo Williams and Anderson Varejao hung out and partied with O’Neal.

“This is going to be fun,” Williams said. “We got LeBron. We got Shaq. C’mon, what else you need?”

Former Browns quarterback Bernie Kosar, boxing champion Kelly Pavlik, Cleveland Browns return specialist Joshua Cribbs, several members of the Cleveland Indians, Olympic gold medalist Dominique Moceanu and former Cavs star Austin Carr walked the red carpet.

Fox Sports Ohio Announces TV Schedule for 2009-10 Season

Fox Sports OhioFox Sports Ohio will telecast 34 home games and 36 games from the road during the season. Coverage of the Cavs will begin Wednesday, October 28 at 7pm when the Cavs visit Toronto to take on the Raptors.

“FOX Sports Ohio is proud to be the TV home of your Cavaliers,” said Henry Ford, Senior Vice President and General Manager, FOX Sports Ohio. “We cannot wait to begin another exciting season of Cavaliers basketball and provide fans with more inside access and in-depth coverage than ever before.”

All 70 of FOX Sports Ohio’s Cavs games will be featured in HD this season.

“FOX Sports Ohio really got into the spirit of this being a special XL season for the Cavs,” said Cavaliers and Quicken Loans Arena president Len Komoroski. “Delivering every single game in HD is a spectacular advancement for our team and our fans and just shows the excitement that we all share for the upcoming season, our 40th. We look forward to working closely with FOX Sports Ohio to deliver simply the best fan viewing experience in the entire NBA, on and off the court.”

Fred McLeod will be calling the games along side Austin Carr who was a fan favorite, with his catch phrases.

State Farm Promotes Lebron’s New Movie

More Than A GameState Farm continues its successful relationship with Lebron James through a campaign supporting the company’s sponsorship of “More Than a Game.”.

The movie opens in select theaters Oct. 2. It tells the true story of five talented young basketball players, including 2009 NBA MVP and All Star LeBron James, and their remarkable journey from Akron, Ohio, to the national high school championship.

State Farm is launching a new new commercial, “Memories,” that will air on TV, online and in theaters nationwide.

There is also a link setup on State Farm’s website where fans can view never-seen-before behind the scene footage of the movie.

“State Farm is always looking for innovative ways to engage consumers with our brand,” said Mark Gibson, State Farm’s assistant vice president-advertising. “We have been at the forefront of merging entertainment and branding/advertising opportunities across a variety of properties and market segments. Our sponsorship of More Than a Game, and this new Memories creative, illustrates our core brand message that nothing is more important than being there.”

Lebron James on NPR promoting his new book “Shooting Stars”

Lebron James Shooting StarsLebron James and his coach Dru Joyce were on NPR promoting Lebron’s new book “Shooting Stars“.

[You can listen to the full interview online]

The discussions revolved around Lebron’s high school experience, sponsorships, some of the most memorable games that he lost, his new teammate Shaq and his plans for 2010. But probably the most intersting question was from a caller who asked about Lebron’s relationship with his girlfriend:

RAY (Caller): Hey, good to talk to LeBron and Coach Joyce. I have great respect for the work you do. I am involved in high school basketball, I’m an area coach. I saw LeBron’s team win two state championships. I saw them lose one, too, to that Cincinnati team, but I’ve really been impressed by the continued growth in LeBron. And I saw Coach Joyce’s team this summer. They are going to be awesome again.

But here is my question for LeBron. You’re such a role model. Your growth and development and maturity have been awesome, and I have a 17-year-old son, and I can’t think… But LeBron, one important thing that you could really do that would affect society, and this is a lot to ask of you, but I really respect your commitment to family, your commitment to your children, your relationship with the mother of your children, and I know it’s a tough thing, and it’s a personal thing, but do you know how powerful it would be if you personally made a commitment to marriage?

CONAN: Whoa. All right…

Mr. JAMES: Well, you know what’s funny about that? Me and Coach Dru had a long conversation about that about a week ago. And you know, Coach Dru, you know, is someone I’ll always go to in advice, you know. And I asked him about that, and you know, I think we came to the conclusion that basically we’re going to have to – you know, you make that decision when you think you’re ready for it. You know, you don’t want to jump into the situation because other people may want you to get married, or you know, maybe one of the parties may want to be married at the time.

You know, when you both feel like you guys are ready, and right now, I feel like I’m still young, I still don’t really know everything. But you know, when I feel like I’m ready, and I think Savannah’s ready, we’re, you know, there’s a possibility we can make that decision. Great question, by the way.

About Lebron’s free agency:

Daniel in Lansing, New York, emails to say, born and raised in Cleveland, I am an 80-year-old who was never any good at basketball. But because of you, I have become a fan. I love to watch you and the Cavs play. Please continue to play with the Cavaliers. You’ve helped give the people of Northeastern Ohio a new sense of pride. They need you. I need you to play for the Cleveland Cavaliers.

Can you tell us anything about your plans following next season?

Mr. JAMES: No. Now, first of all, thank you. That was awesome to know that you have, you know, people like that that really respect the way you play the game of basketball and the way you approach the game of basketball. I think this is going to be a tough decision, honestly, for myself after the end of this year.

And – but I’m looking forward to it. I’m looking forward to hopefully continue on my career in Cleveland or moving on. But I really, I’m really looking forward to this season upcoming.

I think I’m, you know, I think if everything goes right, you know, I’ve always been happy, you know, being in Cleveland. I have never give any indication that I’m going to leave. So, we’ll see what happen. I am a free agent and, you know, I have the right to go anywhere I want to, but you know, my first loyalty is to Cleveland.