Pau Gasol, Spain win big in Eurobasket final

He didn’t win much of anything with the Lakers in 2011, except a rash of grief from fans after a lackluster showing during the team’s early playoff exit, but Pau Gasol helped Spain take its second consecutive European Championship. Gasol scored 17 points and grabbed 10 rebounds and tournament MVP Juan Carlos Navarro had 27 points to guide Spain to a 98-85 victory over France today in Lithuania. Spain is the first repeat champion since the great Yugoslavian team of 1997 that featured Vlade Divac, among others.

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Redemption for Pau Gasol?

Pau Gasol, with some help from his brother Marc and Juan Carlos Navarro, has led Spain to the title game of the European Championships. Spain meets France in the final Sunday after Pau scored 22 points and grabbed 17 rebounds in a 92-80 semifinal victory today over Macedonia. France, led by Tony Parker, defeated Russia in the other semifinal, 79-71. The question is, has Pau redeemed himself after a brutal showing in the Lakers’ second-round playoff loss to Dirk Nowitzki and the Dallas Mavericks? He has had one monster game after another during Eurobasket and has Spain positioned to win its second consecutive championship. But is it enough for Lakers fans to embrace him again?

Just asking.

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Derek Fisher’s letter to NBA players

Here’s the text of Derek Fisher’s impassioned call for support from the players, as first reported by Sports Illustrated.com. The players are meeting today in Las Vegas and the owners are gathered in Dallas, so there will be more news later. Fisher has invited NFL players association director DeMaurice Smith to speak to the players about decertification of the union, which has been pushed recently by a number of high-powered agents.

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Larry Coon explains the lockout’s biggest issue

Larry Coon, one of those number-cruncher guys who actually understands the economics of the NBA and its salary cap, told me the biggest issue facing the owners and players is how divide the money. “BRI was always the biggest thing,” he said.

What’s BRI? That would be basketball-related income. In the last collective bargaining agreement, the players got 57 percent of all BRI. It helped to account for some pretty big salaries and, according to the owners, some big losses for some teams.

Now the owners want the ratio reversed; the players want it to stay more or less the same. The owners believe they would gain firmer financial footing if they got the 57 percent of BRI. Naturally, the players are unwiling to give up the bigger share.

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Jerry West: Phil Jackson ‘had absolutely no respect for me’

Here’s a tidbit or two on Jerry West’s strained relationship with Phil Jackson from West’s new book, courtesy of Tim Kawakami, a columnist for our sister paper, the San Jose Mercury News, and a former Lakers beat reporters for the Los Angeles Times:

–West and Jackson clearly had a distant relationship from the moment the Lakers brought Jackson in to coach Shaquille O’Neal and Bryant, and West confirms it all.

West says he was definitely troubled by Jackson’s relationship with Jeanie Buss and was put off by much of what Jackson was doing (Jackson’s first year was West’s last with the Lakers).

“So one of the problems I had with Phil was this,” West writes. “His office was right near mine and when he would arrive in the morning, he would walk right past and never even bother to wave or duck his head in to say hello.

“He would later say that he felt the need to stake out his territory, that on top of that he was ‘a wack job,’ but I am sure it was more than that.”

West compares Jackson’s attitude to Pat Riley’s reach for more power after winning titles as the Laker coach, but West suggests that Jackson’s display was a colder version to experience.

“Phil and I had no relationship,” West writes. “None. He didn’t want me around and had absolutely no respect for me-of that, I have no doubt.”

–West re-counts and confirms one of the long-rumored tension points-West says Jackson threw him out of the locker room after a game, personally (“Jerry, get the f- out, I’m not finished here yet,” West quotes Jackson as saying, though West adds that Jackson later said he didn’t know it was West.)

West said he quickly left the locker room and didn’t ever respond to Jackson’s action.

“I wasn’t going to lower myself and get into a p- contest with him,” West writes.

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NBA lockout could go on and on and on

Players association executive Billy Hunter told reporters after meetings with NBA owners ended today that he “advised (players) they may have to sit out half the season before we get a deal.” No further talks are scheduled. Players representatives, including Lakers guard Derek Fisher, met with owners for several hours in New York. There had been some optimism going into the meeting, but it’s evidently back to square one for the two sides. Training camps were set to open Oct. 3, but it’s looking like that day will come and go without a resolution to the lockout, which began July 1.

Said Fisher: “We’re not marching towards a deal at this time or at any time we can predict. We can’t come out of here thinking that training camps and preseason (games) are going to start on time at this point.”

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NBA refs next to be locked out?

It’s possible, according to this dispatch from Peter May of the website Hoops Hype:

Let’s suppose for a second that the NBA and its players each experience the proverbial ‘Come to Jesus’ moment in the next week or so and agree on a new Collective Bargaining Agreement. The 2011-12 season would then start on time, right?

Well, yes, it would. But it also could well start with plenty of unfamiliar faces on the floor. That’s because a big part of the NBA “game presentation” as David Stern likes to call it is, at present, also without a contract for next season.

That would be the 60 NBA referees.

In a ‘here we go again,’ situation, the referees’ CBA with the league expired eight days ago (on Sept. 1.) While the league says the two sides are still talking – there has been nothing for public consumption from the referees’ side for months – there is no deal and another lockout is possible.

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NBA owners, players talking again

Here’s the early story from The Associated Press:

NEW YORK — Negotiators for NBA owners and players are meeting again (today), the first time they have done so on consecutive days during the lockout. The sides met for about 5 hours Wednesday, then returned (this) morning for further discussions. They said they could even continue talking Friday if Thursday’s session is productive.

Neither side is saying if progress is being made to end the work stoppage. But after a six-hour meeting last week, the frequency of their talks is being viewed as a positive after they held only two sessions in the first two months after owners locked the players out on July 1. Commissioner David Stern said after Wednesday’s meeting they have three weeks to reach a deal, with training camps set to open the first week of October.

UPDATE: Talks broke up after about 5 1/2 hours. Stern told reporters in New York, the sides plan to meet again Tuesday, but he wouldn’t say whether that’s an indication of progress. Adam Silver, Stern’s deputy, told reporters it was wrong to assume there have been no new proposals exchanged since June.

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