New Jersey Governer Chris Christie Signs Law Designed to Legalize Sports Betting

New Jersey Governor Chris Christie signed a law on Friday that lays the groundwork for the legalization of sports betting in the state, per Brent Johnson of NJ.com: 

The Republican governor made the move only one day after the state Assembly gave final legislative passage to the measure (S2460), which strikes provisions from New Jersey’s law books that ban sports wagering.

It’s the latest step in the Christie administration’s years-long effort to make sports betting legal in the state and help revitalize Atlantic City, which has been hit by financial woes in recent years.

In a prepared statement, Christie said:

As I’ve said all along, I am a strong proponent of legalized sports wagering in New Jersey. But given earlier decisions by federal courts, it was critical that we follow a correct and appropriate path to curtail new court challenges and expensive litigation. I believe we have found that path in this bipartisan legislative effort.

Over the past few years, Christie’s faced an uphill battle to get sports betting legalized in New Jersey. In August 2012, the four major American sports leagues and the NCAA filed suit against the state to prevent it from allowing sports betting in New Jersey casinos.

Then-NBA Commissioner David Stern was a particularly harsh critic of Christie’s push.

“The one thing I’m certain of is New Jersey has no idea what it’s doing and doesn’t care because all it’s interested in is making a buck or two, and they don’t care that it’s at our potential loss,” Stern said in December 2012, per The Associated Press, via ESPN.com.

Over time, attitudes have changed, especially inside the NBA.

Adam Silver, Stern’s successor, said at the Bloomberg Sports Business Summit in September that he can see the momentum behind the legalization of sports betting, and neither he nor the league will stand in the way.

“It’s inevitable that, if all these states are broke, that there will be legalized sports betting in more states than Nevada and we will ultimately participate in that,” Silver commented, per Mason Levinson and Scott Soshnick of Bloomberg.com.

Sports betting isn’t yet officially legal in New Jersey. According to Johnson, a federal judge will have to sign off on Christie’s lifting of the regulations on sports gambling. There’s also the lawsuit filed by U.S. sports leagues in appeals court.

New Jersey State Sen. Raymond Lesniak believes that the appeals judge will allow the state to continue with its motion.

“I think that their case is moot now that we have this bill passed following the direction of the Third Circuit court,” he said.

Casinos are expected to wait on the final ruling from the appeals court, but Monmouth Park in Oceanport, New Jersey, will open up sports betting on Oct. 26.

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Florida suspends Chris Walker for first 2 games

The sophomore has been suspended for the 1st 2 games of the season for violating team rules

      
 

 

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Chris Webber part of group interested in buying Atlanta Hawks

The Atlanta Hawks haven’t been in the news for many good things lately, but a former NBA star is hoping to change that. Five-time All-Star Chris Webber is part a potential ownership group — dubbed “The Webber Group” — that is interested in buying the Hawks. Webber announced the news via his Twitter account Thursday morning.
http://t.co/gQDnrpdngf— Chris Webber (@realchriswebber) October 16, 2014
The franchise has come under heavy fire in recent months after audio surfaced of general manager Danny Ferry reading a racist scouting report about then-free-agent Luol Deng. Hawks co-owner Bruce Levenson also drew criticism for a racist email he sent Ferry two years ago, prompting him to sell his interest in the team on Sept. 7. Webber, 41, retired from the NBA just six years ago in 2008. He never played for the Hawks during his 15-year career but has owned a home in Atlanta for the past decade, according to Yahoo! Sports’ Adrian Wojnarowski. Webber’s group is one of many interested in purchasing

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Chris Walker Suspended 2 Games: Latest Details, Comments and Reaction

Florida forward Chris Walker has been suspended for the Gators’ first two games of the 2014-15 regular season and a preseason exhibition for a violation of team rules, head coach Billy Donovan announced at media day Wednesday.

Donovan did not disclose why Walker was suspended, per a report by The Associated Press (via ESPN). Andy Hutchins of Alligator Army pointed out that a three-game suspension is typically doled out to a player who failed a second drug test, though it is unclear if that applies to Walker.

The highly regarded sophomore will miss an exhibition against Barry University on Nov. 6 along with opening games against William & Mary and Miami. 

“It’ll be tough, but I can get through it,” Walker said, per Kevin Brockway of GatorSports.com.

Along with Walker’s suspension, Donovan announced freshman Brandone Francis has been ruled academically ineligible and will not play this season. A 4-star recruit and No. 32 player overall in the Class of 2014, per 247Sports’ composite rankings, Francis’ absence leaves Donovan without an expected contributor due to NCAA eligibility issues for the second straight season.

The one last year, of course, was Walker, who missed the Gators’ first 20 games of 2013-14 after receiving impermissible benefits and dealing with academic issues.

Viewed as a potential NBA lottery pick upon arriving in Gainesville, Walker’s 20-game absence left him behind the eight ball on a team competing for a national championship. Walker averaged just 1.9 points and 1.3 rebounds in 4.8 minutes per game for the Gators, getting 10 minutes of playing time in only a single game.

With a bevy of veterans from last season’s team playing professionally or out of eligibility, Walker enters his sophomore season with high expectations. He’s still viewed as a potential lottery pick, though not nearly the lock he was a year ago. His expected ascent is also being baked into Florida’s preseason expectations, with most pundits having the Gators as a top-10 unit. 

“I think the biggest thing, his biggest challenge this year, is going to be his ability to manage expectations,” Donovan said in The Associated Press report. “You hear all these expectations, and people look at the fact that he’s gotten physically strong and everything else. He has such a long way to go in terms of being reliable, accountable and disciplined. Those would be the three things I would say I don’t have a real good grasp on right now, but we’re going to find out.”

Walker is expected to help anchor the middle of the defense upon his return. A lanky 6’10″ forward with an explosive leaping ability, he should give the Gators a shot-blocking presence and be an open-court menace in the rare opportunities Donovan allows his team to run.

Walker will return when the Gators play Louisiana-Monroe on Nov. 21.

 

Follow Tyler Conway (@tylerconway22) on Twitter.

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Q&A: Chris Kaman dreams of hunting lions

Chris Kaman dreams of hunting lions and explains why you should never bring a gun on a boat in Mexico

      
 

 

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Miami Heat News: Heat Cut Reggie Williams and Chris Johnson

The first casualties are in, and they’re not all that surprising. The Miami Heat cut veteran Reggie Williams and center Chris Johnson on Monday.
The cuts mean the Heat are down to 18 players with just five preseason games left. The team needs to trim its roster to a maximum of 15 players by October 27, just two days before its season opener versus the Washington Wizards.
Williams was expected to compete with Shannon Brown for the backup shooting guard spot behind Dwyane Wade, but he never established himself during training camp or the preseason. In the three games he was on the Heat’s roster, he didn’t receive a single minute of playing time. Considering the Heat’s lack of depth at the swingman positions, it was shocking that the veteran guard couldn’t even receive playing time in coach Erik Spoelstra’s lineups.
The five-year vet was signed by Miami on August 12. He’s a career 37 percent shooter from beyond the arc and had spent stints with three different teams prior to signing wi…

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Trail Blazers’ Chris Kaman Stars in Reality Web Series ‘Exploring Kaman’

Chris Kaman may be known as the man who lies down on his team’s bench during games, but the Portland Trail Blazers big man has a pretty active life outside of basketball.

The 32-year-old is starring in a reality web series called Exploring Kaman. The trailer for the web series shows that Kaman does some crazy things in his free time.

Exploring Kaman will premiere on Oct. 17.

[Exploring Kaman]

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Chris Bosh, Miami Heat Face Uphill Climb to Escape LeBron James’ Shadow

Life is drastically different for the Miami Heat, the defunct dynasty-seeker now headlined by Chris Bosh that—despite deft survival methods—faces an uphill climb out of the shadowy pit LeBron James‘ exit consigned them to.

Few teams, if any, could have reacted to James’ departure as skillfully and, most impressively, as swiftly. Four years removed from his first free-agent decision, the Cleveland Cavaliers were still in disarray, pining after postseason contention and earning only consecutive lottery appearances. The Heat, meanwhile, have pieced together a playoff hopeful merely weeks after a destiny-dooming loss.

But the hole James’ absence creates looms large.

Reflexive roster repairs and confidence-carting speeches haven’t created a new normal. They are only ingredients to what Miami must hope is a recipe for an instant escape from its lingering past.

 

Already Feeling the Heat

Insisting anything to the contrary is futile. 

Not even the Heat themselves, the recent standard for story-squashing, can avoid recognizing the ubiquitous hold James’ new digs has on their present-day standing. This is different. And like Bleacher Report’s Ethan Skolnick points out, the difference between this brand of hardship and everything else the Heat have faced is obvious:

Erik Spoelstra is not particularly prone to emote from the podium or allow himself to get sucked into what he derisively describes as “storylines.” He’s more likely to insist something doesn’t matter, even when everyone with eyes and ears and sense knows it does, than to allow the slightest hint that it is affecting him or his team. That made it notable for the Miami Heat coach to acknowledge that this Saturday’s exhibition against the Cleveland Cavaliers was more than the typical preseason affair.

This isn’t to say Erik Spoelstra and the Heat haven’t tried to downplay the significance of the task at hand.

Attempts to whitewash this new, James-less reality are quite common. Spoelstra himself alleged at media day that it took “less than 10 minutes” for the Heat to come to terms with James’ return home. Bosh, the third fiddle turned primary offensive option, has also done his part.

Or rather, he’s tried.

“No,” he replied when asked if he’s talked with James since the latter signed in Cleveland, via ESPN.com.

“I’m in the mode where I’m trying to lead my team, help these guys out around here,” he would add. ”If guys aren’t in this locker room, I don’t have much time for them—if any.”

That instantly became breaking news. There was no escaping it. The bond shared between Bosh, James and Dwyane Wade has been idealized—and perhaps mythologized—over the last four years. That Bosh and James haven’t talked shop in months must mean something.

Anything.

Even if it doesn’t.

Roughly three months into their new era, this was the Heat’s first real taste of James’ power.

It wasn’t in their decision to extend the 30-year-old Bosh a max contract spanning five seasons. It wasn’t in their ability to quickly retool the roster with sound additions like Luol Deng. It didn’t even come during media day, when different versions of the same question, pertaining to the same player, were posed again and again.

No, it was Bosh’s response ahead of the Heat’s preseason matchup against the Cavaliers and the rapid overreaction it incited. This is what life without James will be like. The repetitive questions, the swelling storylines, the constant wonder, the incessant doubt—they’re all situational staples that won’t soon disappear.

 

Regular-Season Demons

Once meaningful games tip off, it’s only going to get worse.

Up to now, it’s been all locker-room dynamics and mindset-measuring. There have been no on-court displays or failures that double as incendiary devices. But there will be. And coping with the tactical repercussions of James’ departure will be equally difficult, if not worse.

James was that integral to the Heat’s dominance. It became more apparent than ever last season when they leaned on him to carry their three-peat hopes.

Removing him from Miami’s lineup is like purging the Golden State Warriors rotation of Stephen Curry then doing nothing and adding no one that replaces him. Curry assisted on 20.6 percent of all Golden State’s made field goals last year; James dropped dimes on 15.5 percent of all Miami’s made baskets. That’s in addition to leading the team in scoring. 

Bosh himself was particularly reliant on James’ playmaking abilities and court presence. More than 80 percent of his converted buckets came off assists. Nearly 30 percent of those shots were assisted by James alone.

And that’s one aspect of James’ tenure the Heat haven’t even started to replace. He was their point guard, their floor general. They don’t have that offensive pilot anymore.

Mario Chalmers and Norris Cole aren’t ball-dominant distributors. They’re specialists. Wade and Josh McRoberts are their two most established playmakers, and rookie Shabazz Napier could see ample time at point guard by necessity.

Unless something changes soon, the Heat’s offense—the one that plummeted by 8.9 points per 100 possessions without James and saw its shooting percentages take a nosedive while he was on the bench—will be overly dependent on individual shot-creating and the inside-out abilities of a new No. 1 option who helped the Toronto Raptors to just two playoff berths over seven years in this exact role.

Counting on Bosh to reprise an act he left in Toronto more than four years ago qualifies as a risky gambit. His offensive versatility cannot be readily dismissed, but it’s fair to question whether the scoring load is one he can carry anymore. He’ll have to re-adapt his game to include post-ups and face-ups in addition to floor-spacing spot-up opportunities.

“The game has evolved to value three-point shooting, and the champions of the past half decade have proven that to be true time and time again,” CBS Sports’ Zach Harper wrote shortly after James left Miami. “Bosh’s evolution has been impressive, but if it can’t continue, the Heat regress into being an outdated sort on offense.”

Should this become a matter of how—not if—Bosh adequately shoulders Miami’s offense, the results will inevitably be pitted against those of years past. The Heat never finished outside the top six in offensive efficiency under James’ watch. Imagine the firestorm that will ensue if they finish outside the top 10 or lay an offensive egg all season.

Some level of regression is to be expected under the circumstances, but because of how much money they invested in sustained success, they—Bosh specifically—need to be successful. 

Cleveland was safeguarded against these expectations out of the gate. The Heat are not. This season isn’t supposed to be easy, but it’s not supposed to be meaningless, either.

The challenge is finding the requisite purpose that at least begins putting James’ exit behind them.

 

Long Road Back

Complicating the Heat’s situation even further is the new-look Cavaliers.

If their performance dwarfs that of the Heat’s—and in all likelihood, it will—it’s yet another reminder of what’s been lost. Worse, it’s one they have no control over.

Wade can remain healthy and appear in 80 regular-season contests for the first time in his career. Bosh could have his best season ever. Deng could look like the player he was in Chicago. Miami could not only make the playoffs but emerge as a genuine Eastern Conference contender.

None of that success—expected or unforeseen—would matter when weighed against the triumph Cleveland is fated to claim.

Nothing the Cavaliers did, nor ever could have done, would have pushed them beyond James’ departure themselves. He was still in Miami, competing for and caging championships, strengthening his legacy, cementing his status as one of the all-time greats.

Only when he returned were they freed from that exclusive hell. And similar latitude doesn’t await the Heat. There is no banking on him to return, no believing their current core exceeds the promise and productivity of Cleveland’s title-gazing foundation.

In the end, that’s what makes it so hard for the Heat to climb out of James’ shadow. 

There is no formula for escaping it, immediately or gradually. There is only hoping that, with time, it fades away on its own.

 

*Stats courtesy of NBA.com unless otherwise cited.

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Kevin Love Faces Unsettling Transition Alongside LeBron, Says Chris Bosh

RIO DE JANEIRO, BRAZIL  Chris Bosh and Kevin Love are in the same city this week, staying only about three kilometers apart, in advance of Saturday’s preseason game between the Miami Heat and Cleveland Cavaliers.

But, in basketball terms, they have switched places.   

Bosh has now gone from a third—or second, depending on Dwyane Wade‘s statusoption on the Heat to the team’s first, in the absence of LeBron James.

And Love, it is safe to assume, will become the second or third option on the  Cavaliers, behind James and Kyrie Irving, after spending most of the past six seasons at the Minnesota Timberwolves‘ go-to guy. 

Love is certainly aware of the difference. At Cavaliers media day on Sept. 26, he quipped that he’d been “fortunate and unfortunate” enough to watch the playoffs for the past six years, to watch Bosh, Wade, and several San Antonio Spurs and Dallas Mavericks make sacrifices for the betterment of the group.    

“I’d be lying to myself and lying to everybody here if I was telling you I didn’t have to sacrifice,” Love said. “I think it’s going to have to be an effort throughout the entire team to do what’s best for the Cleveland Cavaliers. And we don’t know what that is really yet. But I’m going to do what’s best for this team to win, because at the end of the day that’s what we want, is to win.”

Everyone does. 

But what are the challenges?

Specifically, is it more difficult to go from a first option to a second or third optionas Love must do now—or from a second or third option to a first option? 

On these topics, Bosh was uniquely qualified to answer, having gone from first option in Toronto to third option for four years in Miami to, now, first option in Miami.

“Yeah, it’s a lot more difficult taking a step back, because you’re used to doing something a certain way and getting looks a certain way,” Bosh told Bleacher Report last week. “And then it’s like, well, no, for the benefit of the team, you have to get it here. So even if you do like the left block, the volume of the left block is going to be different. Now you have to make those moves count. So with me, it was like a chess game. I’m doing this move and thinking about the next move and trying to stay five moves ahead. You’re not getting it as much. If you got one or two a game, it’s a lot different.”

You don’t get your pick of the buffet.

“Exactly,” Bosh said. “You just get your entrée and that’s it. It’s like, wait a minute, I need my appetizer and my dessert and my drink, what are you doing? And my bread basket. What is going on? I’m hungry! It’s a lot different. But if you can get through it, good things can happen. But it never gets easy. Even up until my last year of doing it, it never gets easier.”

Nor does the constant din of hearing from family, friends and media about why you aren’t doing everything you once did.

“Exactly,” Bosh said. “‘You’ve got to do this! You’ve got to do that!’ So you’ve got to fight that. ‘Why don’t you do this? Well, you should do this!’ It’s like, man, they don’t need me to do that, I know what I’m doing. ‘Well, you should do this.’ And then eventually, on one of those days, all it takes is one time, well, maybe I should be doing this. It’s such a psychological battle.”

Love, at age 25, averaged 26.1 points and 12.5 rebounds his final season in Minnesota. Bosh, at age 25, averaged 24.0 points and 10.8 his final season in Toronto, and his averages declined in the four years since, as he reached greater heights (four NBA Finals, two championships) playing with James.

“It’s going to be very difficult for him,” Bosh said of Love’s new task. “Even if I was in his corner and I was able to tell him what to expect and what to do, it still doesn’t make any difference. You still have to go through things, you still have to figure out things on your own. It’s extremely difficult and extremely frustrating. He’s going to have to deal with that.”

Bosh noted Love’s previously high allotment of touches down low, where “he’s very, very good at using his body to get his shots off and stuff like that. Like I said before, [in Minnesota] he was able to play that game and set guys up. Now, it’s like, man, do I go to my move? He’s going to have to fight a lot of his instincts.” 

As Bosh fights others in Miami. 

He had a tendency to drift outside as James and Wade worked the inside. 

Now, as the roles of Bosh and Love invert, could their statistics reverse? 

“They might,” Bosh said. “In order for us to be successful, I’m going to have to turn up my numbers a lot. In order for them to be successful, he’s got to shave them down. And that’s not always the easiest thing to do. Everybody says they want to win. But when you start talking about sacrifice and doing what’s right for the team, it’s like, ‘Wait a minute, I didn’t mean that. I want to win, but…. There’s always a conjunction with that. It’s never what you think it is. And it’s always like your weakest point where you got to do it.” 

Bosh might not share that directly with Love.

But it’s clear that he will be interested in seeing how it plays out. 

 

Ethan Skolnick covers the NBA for Bleacher Report. Follow him on Twitter,@EthanJSkolnick.

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Chris Bosh Says LeBron James Cut All Ties After Leaving Miami Heat

They say time heals all wounds but, it doesn’t seem to be the case with the Miami Heat toward LeBron James. Reports continue to surface from the Heat locker room surrounding LBJ’s decision to relocate to Cleveland with the Cavaliers—this time from Chris Bosh. Bosh was asked by reporters if his relationship with LeBron has continued since the breakup; shockingly Bosh replied, “No,” he hasn’t talked to LeBron since the Decision 2.0. The Associated Press reports via ESPN:
As to whether he was looking forward to seeing James on Saturday at the game in Rio de Janeiro, he replied with a lukewarm, “Yeah … I don’t know.” “I’m in the mode where I’m trying to lead my team, help these guys out around here,” he said. “If guys aren’t in this locker room, I don’t have much time for them — if any.”
The championship bromance between the Big 3 seemed to have is diminishing right before our very eyes. Bosh also chimed in on the hoop-la surrounding the highly anticipated Christmas day ma

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