Miami, Cleveland wait for decision
by Tim Reynolds and Tom Withers
Associated Press Sports Writers
July 11, 2014 04:07 AM | 155 views | 0 0 comments | 0 0 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Four years after saying he would be taking his ‘talents to South Beach,’ LeBron James now will decide if he wants to stay or take his talents back to where he started, in Cleveland.
<BR>Associated Press photo
Four years after saying he would be taking his ‘talents to South Beach,’ LeBron James now will decide if he wants to stay or take his talents back to where he started, in Cleveland.
Associated Press photo
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When it comes to LeBron James, all that’s certain is this: One fan base is about to feel scorned, and other is about to feel absolute joy. Miami or Cleveland? The same choice he faced four years ago is the one facing the four-time NBA MVP now. He became a champion in Miami. He still calls Ohio home. It’s obviously not an easy decision, and the ramifications of what he’s about to say — it’s still unclear when any announcement will be coming, but it’s more than likely sooner than later — will have a massive impact on the Heat and the Cavaliers. For the Heat, keeping James is likely the only way they can stay a championship-contending team for a fifth straight season next year. If he stays, it would seem likely that Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh would re-sign with Miami as well, keeping the “Big 3” that has played in each of the last four NBA Finals intact for at least another season. For the Cavaliers, it’s a chance to welcome home the player who fans — and the team’s owner Dan Gilbert — directed so much scorn toward when he left in 2010. n n n As he makes his choice, here’s some of things he may be considering about returning to Cleveland: OHIO IS HOME: Akron has always held a special place in James’ heart and he’s remained loyal to the area. He’s maintained his offseason home just south of Cleveland and spends summers there. BUSINESS HEADQUARTERS: Northeast Ohio is where James and his close friends grew up. He also has business interests in the Cleveland area. He and his LRMR agency signed quarterback Johnny Manziel to a marketing deal, not long before Manziel was drafted by the Browns. YOUNG ROSTER: Although the Cavaliers haven’t made the playoffs since he left, they can offer James a young roster filled with potential and promise. They’re led by All-Star point guard Kyrie Irving, who recently agreed to sign a five-year contract extension, and the Cavs also have two other No. 1 overall draft picks in Anthony Bennett and Andrew Wiggins. COACHING STAFF: Cleveland’s coaching situation could be a concern. The Cavs are on their third coach since James left and the team recently hired David Blatt, an international icon but someone who has not coached in the U.S. before. The Cavs did hire well-respected assistant Tyronn Lue, who has a strong relationship with James. CAVS ASSETS: The Cavs also have assets they could trade to bring another elite player to Cleveland and have had preliminary talks with Minnesota about a deal for forward Kevin Love. OWNER: The biggest obstacle in James’ possible return could be his relationship with Gilbert. In the hours after James left four years ago, Gilbert blistered James in a scathing left to Cleveland fans, condemning the superstar. In an interview that same night, Gilbert said James quit during the playoffs. n n n And while James has strong ties to Ohio, he has also forged them in Miami. PROVEN WINNERS: Instead of potential, the Heat are proven champions. James has been to four straight NBA Finals with Miami, winning two championships. They have made good on the promise Pat Riley made to James four years ago: Come to Miami, be part of something special, and compete for titles every year. COACHING STAFF: There hasn’t been turnover in Miami’s coaching staff and front office since James joined the Heat. He’s played for just one coach, Erik Spoelstra, and Riley has championship pedigree. OWNER: Unlike the situation with Gilbert, there’s no rancor with Heat owner Micky Arison. The Heat have preached a family approach to everything, even allowing members of James’ inner circle access to the locker room and other team areas — no minor thing within the framework of the Heat culture. BIG 3: James came to Miami in large part to play with Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh, both of whom also are free agents. It’s hard to envision Bosh staying if James leaves. It’s easy to see both Wade and Bosh recommitting instantly, if James decides to stay in Miami. MIAMI INVESTMENTS: His wife has a juice bar in South Beach and James is said to be investing in a chain of pizza restaurants, among other investments. It’s not lifelong ties like the ones in Ohio, but ties to South Florida nonetheless. n n n It’s easy to see why James is torn. Whether it was one of Gilbert’s planes coming to South Florida, or movers packing up James’ luxury cars from his Coconut Grove, Florida home, or reports that a cupcake shop in Ohio had heard from people that James had already decided to return to Cleveland, any nugget of information sets the rumor mill into overdrive. But James’ camp says it has all the information it needs to make a decision. The ball, as it so often is, is now in LeBron James’ hands.
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Harang helps Atlanta avoid four-game sweep
by Ira Podell
Associated Press Sports Writer
July 11, 2014 04:05 AM | 141 views | 0 0 comments | 0 0 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Aaron Harang continued his strong play as of late, winning his fourth straight start and leading the Braves to a win over the Mets that snapped Atlanta’s four-game losing streak.
<Br>Associated Press photo
Aaron Harang continued his strong play as of late, winning his fourth straight start and leading the Braves to a win over the Mets that snapped Atlanta’s four-game losing streak.
Associated Press photo
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NEW YORK — Aaron Harang allowed four hits in seven innings, and the Atlanta Braves used early offense against Bartolo Colon to beat the New York Mets 3-1 on Thursday night and avert a four-game sweep. The Braves snapped a four-game losing streak and ended the Mets’ season-best, four-game winning run. New York hasn’t swept a four-game set from Atlanta since July 1989. Harang (9-6) won his fourth straight start and fifth game in six outings, topping the Mets for the second time this season in three appearances — allowing a total of two runs. He struck out two and walked four. Craig Kimbrel worked out of an eighth-inning jam and got four outs for his 28th save in 32 opportunities. Andrelton Simmons, Freddie Freeman and Ramiro Pena all had two hits. Colon (8-8) hung around for eight innings. He allowed three runs and 10 hits with no walks and seven strikeouts. The 41-year-old right-hander lost his third consecutive start. Colon gave up two runs in the first and one in the third, yielding nine hits in the first four innings — at least two in each frame — and didn’t retire Atlanta in order until the fifth. He did it again in the sixth, and his run of 10 straight outs was broken up by B.J. Upton’s seventh-inning single. The Mets cut the lead to 3-1 in the third on David Wright’s RBI single and threatened for more in the fifth when they loaded the bases with two outs. But Harang induced Travis d’Arnaud, moved up to fifth in the order for the first time this season, to fly out after a visit from pitching coach Roger McDowell. While New York leads the major leagues with 62 runs in the first inning, Colon has struggled early in games. He has given up 18 runs in the first inning of his 18 starts, and opponents are batting .349 (29-for-83). Colon struck out Upton looking in the first, but Simmons rolled a single past the outstretched glove of second baseman Daniel Murphy and scored on Freeman’s ringing double to right. Justin Upton struck out looking before Jason Heyward blooped a single to left that scored Freeman to make it 2-0. The rally ended when Tommy La Stella took the third called third strike of the inning. The Braves threatened again in the second, putting runners on first and second on back-to-back hits by Christian Bethancourt and Pena. Harang struck out attempting to bunt, and Bethancourt was caught trying to get to third after a long rundown to complete the double play. The missed bunt was only the second failed swing by the Braves in Colon’s first 31 pitches. After two singles to open the Braves third, Atlanta made it 3-0 on Justin Upton’s double-play grounder that scored Simmons. NOTES: Colon batted eighth for the first time, with Eric Young Jr. in the No. 9 slot. Young entered with a .556 average (5-for-9) with four walks against Harang and went 1-for-3. ... Braves 3B Chris Johnson, who was 2-for-12 in the first three games of the series, sat out in favor of Pena. ... Justin Upton lost out to Cubs 1B Anthony Rizzo in online balloting for the final spot on the NL All-Star team. Justin Upton and Harang were the only Braves starters without a hit. ... Atlanta’s Alex Wood will open a series today in Chicago. Mets right-hander Zack Wheeler gets the start against Miami as New York begins the final series of its 10-game homestand.
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Phelps’ comeback tour hits Athens
by Paul Newberry
Associated Press Sports Writer
July 11, 2014 04:03 AM | 113 views | 0 0 comments | 0 0 recommendations | email to a friend | print
As he continues to get back into top shape, Olympic great Michael Phelps is growing anxious to lower his times, which he will try to do this weekend in Athens.
<Br>Associated Press photo
As he continues to get back into top shape, Olympic great Michael Phelps is growing anxious to lower his times, which he will try to do this weekend in Athens.
Associated Press photo
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ATHENS — Michael Phelps has never been the patient type. He wants to go faster — right now. The winningest athlete in Olympic history figured he would be putting up better times by this stage of his comeback. “That the hard part for him,” his longtime coach, Bob Bowman, said Thursday. Phelps will get a final tuneup before the two biggest events of the year when he competes in a meet at the University of Georgia, going against Ryan Lochte and several of the world’s top swimmers. Beginning today, Phelps will take part in three events over three days, another important step in showing how fit he is since coming out of retirement. In less than a month, he’ll be competing in the national championships in Irvine, Calif., followed two weeks later by the Pan Pacific Championships in Australia. “It helps Michael a lot to race,” Bowman said. “That’s what he really loves to do. If he’s just training, it gets a little old.” Phelps was not at the pool for the first day of the Bulldog Grand Slam, a short session with small fields for the women’s 1,500-meter freestyle and men’s 800 free. He was scheduled to arrive in Athens by the evening and be ready to go in his first event this morning, the preliminaries of the 100 butterfly. Phelps will race the 100 backstroke Saturday, followed by the 100 free on the final day. This will be the fourth meet for the 29-year-old swimmer since he ended his retirement, but he’s still feeling the effects of being away from the pool for more than a year. He left the sport after the 2012 London Games, declaring he had met all his goals with 18 golds and 22 medals overall, far more than any other Olympic athlete. “When you take a whole year off, that’s a lot of time,” Bowman said. “We would always tell him, ‘For every day you take off, it takes two to get back to where you were.’ Well, by that, he’s going to need two years to get back to where he was at London.” Three weeks ago in Santa Clara, Calif., Phelps took on the most daunting workload of his comeback by racing in four events over three days. He tied for first in the 100 butterfly, was second in the 100 and 200 free, and finished third in 200 individual medley. That last event was especially frustrating for Phelps, who was swimming it for the first time since taking the gold in London. He led through the first three laps, but tired on the freestyle leg and was passed by both Conor Dwyer and Chase Kalisz. Phelps’ time was 1 minute, 59.76 seconds, which was right in line with Bowman’s expectations. Not so for Phelps, who once held the world record and edged Lochte in the last Olympics with a time that was nearly 5½ seconds faster. “It’s hard for him right now because he’s always kind of dealt in these real black-and-white terms,” Bowman said. “It’s hard for him to come back when he goes 1:59 or whatever it was in the 200 IM. I’m like, ‘Man, that was really great.’ And he’s like, ‘Are you kidding me?’” Lochte is also in the midst of a comeback, racing for only the second time since tearing up his left knee in an encounter with an exuberant fan last November. The 11-time Olympic medalist returned for an April meet in Arizona, pushed a little too hard and wound up suffering a setback in his recovery. Now, after a more extensive recuperation, he’s ready to test his knee again. Just in the nick of time. After the meet in Georgia, the next two events will determine the U.S. team for the 2015 world championships in Russia. “Hopefully I’m back,” said Lochte, who entered the same three events as Phelps as well as three other races, though he may drop some of them depending on how his knee feels. “Once I’m in the water, I’m at home. I feel normal. I was not able to do that when I hurt my knee. That’s the only regret I had. But everything happens for a reason. I hope it makes me a better swimmer.”
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Three tied for top spot in John Deere
by The Associated Press
July 11, 2014 04:01 AM | 118 views | 0 0 comments | 0 0 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Zach Johnson, Rory Sabbatini and Brian Harman shot 8-under-par 63s Thursday to share the lead after the first round of the John Deere Classic. Johnson and Sabbatini played bogey-free golf, while Harman had nine birdies and one bogey on the par-71 TPC Deere Run. They led 2004 British Open champion Todd Hamilton, Australian Steven Bowditch and William McGirt, the best afternoon finisher, by a stroke. Brendon de Jonge, Kevin Tway, David Toms and Robert Streb are two back at 6-under 65. Johnson, who won the Deere in 2012 and lost it to Jordan Spieth in a playoff last year, birdied four of his first five holes and was 6 under on his opening nine. Spieth opened at even par 71, rallying from 2 over with three holes to play with birdies on the 16th and 17th. Sabbatini scored his best round of the year, closing with birdies on three of the last four holes. Harman, who bettered his best round of the year by two strokes, was 2 under through six holes when his caddie, Scott Tway, took ill. Jay Hatch of Davenport, Iowa, a high school basketball coach, volunteered from the gallery, and carried Harman’s bag the last 12 holes, which Harman played in 6 under. U.S. Senior Open: Colin Montgomerie shot 6-under 65 to lead at the end of the first round at Oak Tree National. The Scotsman started on No. 10 and birdied Nos. 14, 15 and 16 on the way to a 33 on the back nine. He birdied six, seven and eight to finish strong in oppressive heat and humidity. Marco Dawson was second after a 66, and Mark Brooks was third after shooting 68. Bernhard Langer was one of five golfers tied for fourth with a 69. Dawson, in his first Senior Open, started on the back nine and shot 2 under, then was steady on the front nine before scoring birdies on seven, eight and nine. The 50-year-old said it was one of the two best rounds he’s played in his six Champions Tour events. Langer, who entered the Senior Open having already won three events this year, was in a five-way tie for fourth along with Vijay Singh, Kirk Triplett, Scott Dunlap and Gene Sauers. Kenny Perry, last year’s winner, shot a 75. Scottish Open: Rory McIlroy rolled in six birdies in seven holes around the turn and shot a 7-under 64 for a one-stroke lead midway through a low-scoring first round. Refreshed after a two-week break, the No. 8- ranked McIlroy tamed windy conditions in northern Scotland to show his links game is in good shape heading into next week’s British Open at Hoylake. One of the highlights of McIlroy’s course-record round at Royal Aberdeen was driving the green on the 436-yard 13th hole while the group ahead was on the putting surface. That set up one of his eight birdies. Unheralded Swede Kristoffer Broberg, out in the first group at 6:30 a.m. local time, and Ricardo Gonzalez of Argentina shot 65s. They were one shot behind McIlroy on a leaderboard that included Luke Donald at 4-under 67. Phil Mickelson missed a 3-foot par putt at the final hole for his only bogey in a 68, a solid start to the defense of his title. Ollie Schniederjans, the Cobb County native, Georgia Tech star and world’s No. 1 amateur, shot even-par 71. Women’s British Open: Ayako Uehara of Japan got her one mistake out of the way early and opened with a 4-under 68 to lead the Women’s British Open. Michelle Wie couldn’t stop making them. Coming off her first major at the U.S. Women’s Open, Wie missed half of her fairways and stuck to a conservative plan on the par 5s that produced only one birdie. That was on her final hole at Royal Birkdale and allowed her to salvage a 75. Even with only a mild breeze off the Irish Sea in the morning, Royal Birkdale was plenty difficult. Halfway through the opening round, only seven players were under par. Uehara and Mo Martin (69) were the only players to break 70.
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Marietta updates policy to be in line with new gun law
by Hilary Butschek
July 11, 2014 04:00 AM | 175 views | 0 0 comments | 0 0 recommendations | email to a friend | print
MARIETTA — The Marietta City Council approved changes to the city’s weapon policy Wednesday night with a 7-0 vote. “It’s something that should have been done and had to be done,” said Mayor Steve Tumlin. The changes the council approved Wednesday made its policy adhere to the statewide gun law Gov. Nathan Deal signed April 23. The Safe Carry Protection Act went into effect July 1 and allows licensed gun holders to carry weapons inside bars, government buildings, places of worship and school board meetings. Changes to the city code made it clear city employees cannot carry weapons while at work or on duty in a government building or car. Employees can keep their firearms in their cars provided the weapon is concealed in a locked compartment or rack in their personal car and their car is parked in an unsecured parking lot. The parking deck beside City Hall is considered unsecured in the city’s code. Tumlin said citizens are allowed to carry guns into any city government building, which includes his own office. A provision of the state law allows government officials to regulate firearms in their buildings if they implement a screening process to search people as they enter the building. The screening process can be either a metal detector or an armed security guard. A police officer attends every City Council meeting to monitor the meeting, and that will continue, said Officer David Baldwin, spokesman for the Marietta police. “The officer we have assigned to council meetings will continue to monitor everyone who enters the council chamber and deal with any situations involving guns as they come up,” Baldwin said. No one on the council suggested installing a screening process during discussions about the new gun regulations. Tumlin said the changes to the law didn’t change people’s right to carry a gun into City Hall because there was no screening process in place before the law passed. “The law changed but not necessarily the world changed,” Tumlin said. “The bad guys already had guns before.” Tumlin said everyone on the council agreed there would be no problem to allow gun holders with a permit to carry concealed weapons into City Hall. It was the Marietta police department’s suggestion the city did not need a screening process in place. “To be considered a screening process in conformance with the new law, we would have to have and maintain metal detectors accompanied by an officer, and we have elected not to do that at this time,” Baldwin said. Councilman Grif Chalfant pointed out it is against the law to demand to see someone’s weapon permit. “This still doesn’t allow you to, if someone is coming in here packing, we can’t ask them if they have a license — the police chief or anybody can’t,” Chalfant said. The law also makes it possible for a permit holder to carry a gun into a bar, the Georgia Municipal Association stated in a brief about the law given to city governments. Guns are not allowed in churches unless representatives of the church decide to allow them. They remain prohibited in courtrooms, according to the new law. In contrast with Marietta’s decision, Atlanta Mayor Kasim Reed announced the day the law went into effect he would implement screening processes in Atlanta government buildings. Reed said in a statement July 1 he will block anyone carrying a firearm from entering a government building in Atlanta by means of either a metal detector or security guard, as the law provides. Where you can carry a gun: City Hall City recreation centers: Elizabeth Porter Center, Lawrence Street Recreation Center City parks: A. L. Burruss Nature Park, Aviation Baseball/Softball Complex, Birney Street Park, Brown Park, City Club Marietta, Custer Park, Flournoy Park, Gantt Park, Glover Park, Gramling Street Park, Henry Park, Hill Park, Joe Mack Wilson Park, Lake Park, Laurel Park, Lewis Park, Merritt Park, Monarch Park, Tumlin Park at Hickory Hills, Victory Park, West Dixie Park, Whitaker Park, Wildwood Park, Woods Park
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