October 14, 2012

To the surprise of few, UFC middleweight champion Anderson Silva easily disposed of light heavyweight Stephan Bonnar in the first round of the main event at UFC 153 in Rio de Janeiro on Saturday night.

After standing at the fence to dodge Bonnar's punches early in the round, Silva pounced. He landed a knee to Bonnar's chest, then followed up with ground and pound until the fight was stopped in the first round.

"I'm not the best. I just do things that people think are impossible," Silva said after the fight. "I'm not going to fight at 205 again. I fought at 205 to save the event."

Silva and Bonnar took this fight on short notice after UFC featherweight champion Jose Aldo was injured and had to pull out of UFC 153. Silva moved up in weight, which meant questions about his intentions to fight at a bigger weight class.

Earlier in the night, Dave Herman said in his pre-fight video that jiu-jitsu doesn't work. He may want to rethink that stance after being submitted by Antonio Rodrigo Nogueira in the second round.

In the second round, Nogueira grappled to get Herman close to a submission, but Herman defended each hold. But late in the round, Nogueira used beautiful jiu-jitsu to maneuver Herman into an armbar that he couldn't get out of. Herman tapped at 4:31 of the second round, giving Nogueira the win.

"I feel so happy, because this man said jiu-jitsu doesn't work. But jiu-jitsu does work. Jiu-jitsu is Brazilian. Jiu-jitsu is an art," Nogueira said.

This was Nogueira's first fight since his arm was broken by Frank Mir at UFC 140. He had surgery and intense physical therapy to rehabilitate his arm, giving him a chance to win in front of a home crowd in Rio de Janeiro.

As expected, Glover Teixeira dominated Fabio Maldonado on the way to an early stoppage win. But what wasn't expected was how Maldonado stood in for 10 minutes of straight punishment.

Teixeira knocked Maldonado down early in the first round, and proceeded to ground and pound him in a full mount for most of the round. With his face badly swollen and bruised, Maldonado managed to work his way back to his feet. Though wobbly, he did managed to punch Teixeira with a big enough punch to send him reeling, but it was the last show of offense from Maldonado.

Teixeira dominated the second round in the same way. Maldonado's face was bruised and bleeding. The doctor checked the cut halfway through the round and let the fight continue. He checked again at the end of the second, and mercifully stopped the fight.

"He is not human! I told [trainer] John Hackleman in the locker room that I was going to knock this guy out. This guy got knocked down, and he held on. He is not human," Teixeira said.

Jon Fitch showed he was anything but boring in a decision win that stopped hot prospect Erick Silva. The judges saw it 30-27, 29-28, 29-28 for Fitch.

Fitch used grappling to control Silva in the first round, but things got interesting in the second. Silva took Fitch's back and sunk in a rear--naked choke. It was the kind of choke that would stop most fighters, but Fitch survived. When Fitch maneuvered out of the choke, he took top position, waylaid Silva with strikes, then worked his grappling game.

In the last 30 seconds of the second round, Fitch took Silva's back then transitioned to an armbar. Though Silva got out, the round clearly took its toll on Silva, the much younger fighter. The third round featured Fitch taking advantage of a clearly tired Silva. It was Fitch's ground and pound at its best. He landed 108 ground strikes throughout the bout.

"I didn't have a choice. I would have beaten anyone tonight. Any weight class. I needed a win. My family needed a win," Fitch said after the bout.

Their first fight ended quickly with a no contest after an unintentional eye poke stopped Wagner Prado. This time, it was all Phil Davis, as he outgrappled Prado for two rounds. Davis used his high-level wrestling skills to control Prado and stymie any shot at striking that the young fighter may have. In the second round, Davis was close to getting an arm triangle when he transitioned to an anaconda choke. Prado tapped at 4:29.

"Normally I'm the young lion coming in, but it's a different feeling getting in the gym, knowing someone like Wagner Prado is coming to knock your block off," Davis said after the fight.

Demian Maia started off the pay-per-view with a submission that showed his world-class submission skills. Maia had Rick Story in a a rear-naked choke in the first round, but had trouble getting his elbow underneath Story's chin. He then switch to crank Story's neck. Though Story tried to hold out, blood trickled out of his nose and he tapped at 2:30 in the first round.

November 11, 2012
After losing four of five games to start the season, the Los Angeles Lakers fired coach Mike Brown on Friday. Assistant coach Bernie Bickerstaff will serve as interim coach while the Lakers search for a long-term replacement.

LOS ANGELES (KABC) -- Los Angeles Lakers coach Mike Brown was fired Friday after a 1-4 start to his second season in charge. In a statement, Brown thanked the Buss family and the Lakers for the opportunity.

"I have a deep appreciation for the coaches and players that I worked with this past year and I wish the organization nothing but success as they move forward," Brown said.

Assistant coach Bernie Bickerstaff will take over as interim coach while the management begins their search for a new head coach.

"This was a difficult and painful decision to make," said Lakers General Manager Mitch Kupchak during a news conference. "Mike was very hard-working and dedicated, but we felt it was in the best interest of the team to make a change at this time. We appreciate Mike's efforts and contributions and wish him and his family the best of luck."

When asked if Phil Jackson would be considered in the hunt for a head coach, Kupchak responded, "When there's a coach like Phil Jackson, one of the all-time greats, and he's not coaching, I think we'd be negligent not to be aware that he's out there."

Jackson would bring a resume of 11 championships, including the five he won with Kobe Bryant. Kupchak says a list of candidates has been compiled, but they haven't reached out to any coaches yet. He did not talk to any players before firing Brown, but he said he may talk to some before hiring a new head coach.

"We have veterans on this team, two of which have almost 17 years, others played over 10, 12 years that played for many coaches," said Kupchak.

One of the coaching candidates is Mike D'Antoni. He is out of a job right now recovering from knee surgery. He ran a very fast-paced offense in Phoenix, which the ownership group has always loved, and he also had Steve Nash with him there.

The team may also consider Brian Shaw, who won a championship with the Lakers and coached under Jackson. Many felt Shaw would have been the smoothest transition after Jackson's departure.

"Perhaps a coach or two that we're considering, we'll run it past one of our veterans, not for their approval, but, tell us about this person," said Kupchak.

On Friday, Kobe Bryant posted his reaction to Brown's firing on Facebook:

"As a team we must focus our energy on tonight's game. We must block out the weight of today's news and simply do our jobs to the best of our ability. I'm not sure what direction we are heading in next. All I can do is focus on the here and now."

The Lakers begin a three-game homestand on Friday night against the Golden State Warriors, and there had been reports that if Brown and the Lakers had not made a good showing during their six-game homestand, that it would be the end of Brown's tenure as coach. But management did not give him that chance, giving him the boot before the game against the Warriors.

"This team was built to contend this year. There's no guarantee that this team can win a championship, but we feel they could be deeply in the hunt," Kupchak said.

Brown has been criticized for his offense this season, with many complaining that he was not utilizing Nash or Dwight Howard the right way by running a Princeton offense. One of the main things wrong with the offense was that Brown's offensive strategies did not utilize the inside game enough after trading for Howard.

The Lakers are off to the worst start in the Western Conference, despite carrying the league's largest payroll at just over $100 million.

Letting Brown go is something some say shouldn't be surprising for the Lakers.

"That's the Lakers. This is an organization, one of the few organizations in sports, that positively demands wins at every stage," said Mark Willard, 710 ESPN radio host.

Laker fans say Brown's sacking was just a matter of time.

"Laker fans are spoiled," said fan Curt Kilroy. "It was kind of fast. I thought, you know, at least give the guy 10 games, but hey, gotta make something happen."

Another fan supported the move.

"We should already have seen improvement for the first five games, and we haven't," said fan Eric Matheny. "So with a star-studded team as the Lakers are, I think this is the right decision."

Fans expressed an overwhelming desire to see Jackson back with the Lakers during the team's game against the Warriors at home Friday. Throughout the game, the crowd chanted "We want Phil!" The Lakers defeated the Warriors 101-77.

Meanwhile Jackson has canceled a paid, out-of-town appearance at a convention scheduled for next week without any explanation.

August 24, 2015

The 2009 Dominick's advertisement that resulted in a lawsuit.

It took Michael Jordan nearly six years, but he's finally come out victorious in the long-running Chicago court case over the use of his identity without permission in a grocery store advertisement.

A jury of Jordan's peers — ha! — ruled Friday in favor of the Chicago Bulls legend and Charlotte Hornets owner, ordering a grocery-store chain to pay the Hall of Famer $8.9 million for the unapproved and unlicensed use of his name in an ad. The decision brings an end to a legal action that actually outlived the supermarket that ran the ad in a special edition of Sports Illustrated commemorating His Airness' enshrinement in Springfield, Mass.

As we laid out a couple of summers ago, the beef stems from steak:

When Jordan was elected into the Basketball Hall of Fame in 2009, and prior to the wildly inappropriate speech he gave in the induction ceremonies, local Chicago grocery chain Dominick’s released an ad congratulating Jordan on his accomplishment, while pointing out that, while you’re at it, you can use your Dominick’s card or a coupon in the ad to take in the tasty two dollar savings on a “Rancher’s Reserve Steak.”

Jordan found out about it and decided to sue Dominick's for $5 million. The real kicker for Safeway, which bought Dominick's in 1998 for $1.2 billion, comes courtesy of's Darren Rovell:

In addition, the ad itself was of little benefit to the company. Since the ad was in a commemorative Sports Illustrated issue, those who bought the magazine were hesitant to tear out the ad. Only two people were found to have redeemed the $2 steak coupon.

Not exactly a killer return on investment, there.

While one judge took Jordan to task for attempting to make a "legal mountain" from a "legal molehill" by calling for Safeway, the parent company of the now-defunct Dominick's chain, it always seemed that the case had merit. Dominick's did use Michael Jordan's name without his permission in an ad aimed at selling discounted steaks; it stands to reason that this would irk M.J., considering he's already in the business of selling his own steaks.

Plus, as our Eric Freeman noted earlier this week, "the chain does not deny wrongdoing," meaning the main matter left to resolve was how much money to award Jordan. From Michael Tarm of The Associated Press:

Steven Mandell, the Dominick's attorney, [...] said Jordan's attorneys overvalued their client's name, saying jurors should award Jordan no more than $126,900.
Evidence presented during trial provided a peek at Jordan's extraordinary wealth, including the $480 million he made from Nike alone between 2000 to 2012.

That evidence included testimony from sports economist Andrew Zimbalist, who pegged the "fair market value" of Jordan's identity at about $10 million per business deal. That squared with the testimony of Estee Portnoy, the marketing executive who's been described as Jordan's "consigliere" and "the buffer between Jordan and the world", and who said Jordan will not do business with anyone unless the deal will ultimately be worth more than $10 million. (Subsequent answers, however, indicated that M.J. occasionally makes exceptions to that platinum rule.)

After six hours of deliberation, the jurors settled on a figure far closer to Jordan's $10 million asking price than Safeway's sub-$150,000 figure; at one point, according to Tarm, they sent a note to the judge reading, "We need a calculator." Those zeroes sure do add up, after all.

The mammoth award apparently won't be added to the top of billionaire Jordan's Scrooge McDuck vault, though. More from Rovell:

"I'm pleased with today's verdict," Jordan said in a statement. "No one — whether or not they're a public figure — should have to worry about their identity being used without their permission. The case was not about the money as I plan to donate the proceeds to charity. It was about honesty and integrity. I hope this case sends a clear message, both here in the United States and around the world, that I will continue to be vigilant about protecting my name and identity. I also hope the size of the monetary reward will deter others from using someone else's identity and believe they will only pay a small penalty."

If nothing else, it certainly gives Jordan and his representatives encouragement to continue their concerted efforts to protect M.J.'s brand, image and likeness from those who might look to leverage those valuable assets for their own benefit.

Jordan recently lost a trademark lawsuit against a Chinese footwear company he claimed was using a name and logo similar to his Nike brand, but he's still got one big iron in the fire: a suit filed at the same time as the one against Dominick's, calling Jewel Food Stores to task for running a similar ad featuring a pair of Air Jordan basketball sneakers with Jordan's number 23 on the tongues, juxtaposed with a congratulatory message capped with Jewel's "just around the corner" slogan.

That case has also wended its way through the courts for more than a half-decade, and is scheduled to go to trial in December. Depending on how quickly things move, that could mean a very happy holiday season for more Chicago-area charities.

By: Dan Devine

March 12, 2013

ATLANTA (Reuters) - Lawyers for an Atlanta woman who says basketball legend Michael Jordan is the father of her 16-year-old son asked a judge Tuesday to order Jordan to immediately take a DNA test.

Pamela Smith, 48, filed a paternity suit against Jordan last month seeking child support. Jordan denies he is the father of the child and has also filed a counterclaim seeking sanctions against Smith for making false claims.

Smith acknowledged in a divorce proceeding that her now ex-husband is the father of the child, according to Jordan's lawyers.

"It is unfortunate that well known figures are the target of these kind of claims," Jordan's spokeswoman, Estee Portnoy, said in a statement.

However, Smith attorney Randy Kessler said Tuesday that a simple $300 (201 pounds) saliva test will prove or disprove the paternity question.

In a court filing Tuesday, Kessler asked Fulton County Superior Court Judge Wendy Shoob to order Jordan to submit to "immediate genetic testing." There was no immediate ruling from Shoob following a 20-minute hearing Tuesday in the judge's chambers, Kessler said.

"My son has the right to know who his father is," Smith told reporters after the hearing. "He has had an issue with it over the years."

If Jordan is ordered to pay child support it would only be for about two years until the 16-year-old graduates from high school, Kessler said.

"If this was about money, she would have filed suit 10 years ago," the attorney said.
Jordan's attorney, John Mayoue, declined to comment following Tuesday's hearing. Jordan himself did not attend the hearing.

Jordan, 50, is widely hailed as the best basketball player of all time and was a member of six NBA championship teams with the Chicago Bulls. He is majority owner of the NBA's Charlotte Bobcats team.

By David Beasley

July 7, 2012
Wimbledon 2012: Serena Williams wins fifth singles title

By Mike Henson

Serena Williams overcame a resurgent Agnieszka Radwanska to clinch a hard-fought 6-1 5-7 6-2 victory and earn her fifth Wimbledon singles title.
The American, a winner in 2002, 2003, 2009 and 2010, had eased through the opener with Radwanska rarely threatening to pierce her defenses.

But the Pole regrouped as rain delayed the second set, and clawed back a break before swooping late to win the second.

Williams broke twice in the decider to finally kill off Radwanska's comeback.
It is the 30-year-old's 14th Grand Slam title and her first since spending almost a year out of action between summer 2010 and 2011 with a leg injury and subsequent pulmonary embolism.

"I can't even describe it. I almost didn't make it a few years ago," she said after her win, referring to her health problems.

"I was in hospital but now I'm here again and it was so worth it. I'm so happy.
"Aggie played so well and that's why she's had such a great career and she's so young."
Such an absorbing finish seemed highly unlikely as Williams demolished Radwanska in the opening set, raising the fear that her opponent was struggling with a respiratory illness that forced her to call off a news conference on Friday.
The world number three seemed to lack the energy to realise her hopes of countering Williams's clubbing baseline power with guile and touch.

A brief rain shower appeared to have opposite effects on the pair however, as Radwanska emerged revitalised and Williams's forehand grew increasingly erratic.
Williams broke to love in the third game with a walloped return winner, but her nerves tightened and Radwanska raised her game just in time to avert a seemingly inevitable straight-sets win.
Radwanska forced break point for the first time in the match to level at 4-4 and the crowd threw their support behind her renaissance.

Suddenly Radwanska's scurrying and fetching was asking questions and Williams, apparently beset by mental demons, crashed into the net from midcourt to send the match into a decider.

The American had lost only four of the previous 194 Grand Slam matches in which she won the opening set however, and reasserted her authority to protect that record and accelerate away from Radwanska.

Radwanska saw off two break points to hold for a 2-1 lead, but Williams served out in less than a minute in the following game and was not to be denied in the next.

A cute drop shot moved her a double break and 5-2 clear and Williams kept any lingering jitters at bay to serve out before dropping to the turf in delight.

Her victory is the first time the title has been won by a woman over 30 since Martina Navratilova's triumph in 1990 and restores Victoria Azarenka, the Belarussian she beat in the semi-final, to the world number one spot.

July 10, 2012
*Have you ever wondered what Mike Tyson tasted when he bit a chunk of Evander Holyfield’s ear in 1997? Yeah, it’s gross to even think about. Well wonder no more.

The former champion boxer revealed that the ear “wasn’t too tasty.” So don’t go trying it at home folks.
He joked and said it wasn’t good because he was missing a staple condiment.

“I didn’t have any of that Holyfield hot sauce on it,” said Mike. “That would have been a delicacy.”
He’s actually funny y’all.

Tyson has impressively matured since his career took a turn for the worse. He isn’t bitter about anything and has nothing negative to say about his former opponents or fellow boxers, and not even Don King.

“He’s always a good dresser. He had a great hairdo, and he’s very articulate,” said Mike.

He told Andy Cohen of “Watch What Happens Live” that at this point in his life, he has nothing but respect for all of them.

August 21, 2012
Michael Jordan probably doesn't have to sweat losing $1.5 million in a gym investment -- which is good for him because it could happen soon, reports say.

A Jordan-backed Chicago workout emporium that attracted superstars such as Kobe Bryant and Donovan McNabb is close to foreclosing. A bankruptcy bid by Tim Grover, the owner of Attack Athletics Gym in Chicago, was rejected by a judge last month, the Chicago Sun-Times reported. That means the mortgage holder is free to pursue foreclosure.

A pending appeal by Grover's company, Attack Properties, could take a month or so, wrote the Chicago Tribune.

Another former NBA player, Michael Finley, is also listed as a creditor, the paper said, after he guaranteed a $2 million loan.

The 65,000-square-foot gym, formerly known as Hoops, had four basketball courts and a 10,000-square-foot weight room, according to ESPN. Grover developed relationships with Jordan and other jocks such as Dwayne Wade and Tracy McGrady to build his business.

The entrepreneur, who was Jordan's personal trainer at the star's peak, was credited with attempting to revitalize Chicago's West Side and having a positive influence on hundreds of athletes, Yahoo wrote. But business apparently hasn't been good -- either in the gym or in legal procedure. Outlets say Attack Properties LLC never submitted the required monthly operating reports to seek bankruptcy and faces liens totaling $12 million.

"The record shows no plausible route out of this predicament,” said U.S. Bankruptcy Judge A. Benjamin Goldgar, reported the Sun-Times.

September 6, 2012
It won't take a lot for the U.S. Ryder Cup team to get fired up for the biennial matches at Medinah. With a home-course advantage and the 2010 Ryder Cup likely still in the back of their minds, there's no question captain Davis Love III and his entire team will be motivated to wrest the Cup away from the European squad.

But just in case motivation becomes an issue at any point during the week, Love has someone on standby who's more than willing to ignite the squad with a fiery speech. That "someone" would be one Michael Jeffrey Jordan -- winner of six NBA Championships with the Bulls, and Chicago's most beloved basketball figure.

As Love noted during Tuesday's Ryder Cup press conference, Jordan will be inside the ropes during the week serving as an adviser and motivator for the team. Needless to say, Jordan's given a motivational speech or two in his career, so the decision to add him to the squad makes sense -- especially with the matches in his own backyard.

"I've talked to him. Michael's going to be hanging around with Fred probably a lot and be an influence," Love said. "I told Michael this a couple weeks ago. One of the neatest things I ever saw in the Ryder Cup was Michael riding in the golf cart with Tom Kite. He came out to watch Freddie and I play and I thought that was one of the coolest things.

"So I want my team, like Fred and I did, to get to see Michael. Rather than him sneaking around in the gallery, I want him to be seen and I want him to be in our team room, be hanging around and be a great influence."

Jordan also served as an assistant captain for Fred Couples' squad at the 2009 Presidents Cup -- he had to back out of the same role last year due to the NBA lockout -- so he has some experience being around the U.S. players on golf's big stage.

Will his speeches be the difference in the matches? Probably not. However, the fact that Jordan's going to have a role during the week should add a little something extra to the Ryder Cup.

September 12, 2012
The Charlotte Bobcats hired GM Rich Cho in June of 2011, knowing full well that owner Michael Jordan would act as one of the strongest supporters of a potentially season-canceling lockout that started a month later. Even though the team enjoyed a brief playoff appearance in 2010, the franchise was bleeding money; a direct result of years worth of win-now moves made by Jordan as both personnel boss and eventual owner. As a long-needed rebuilding process took hold in 2011-12, and Jordan took flak from all manner of once-close friends, teammates and former co-workers, questions lingered as to how much MJ would stand aside if Cho dared to overrule the six-time champion on a decision. Owners overrule GMs all the time, and because Jordan and Cho come from such disparate backgrounds, the few that cared enough to pay attention to the Charlotte Bobcats wondered how things would work out once it came time for expected loggerheads.

According to a recent ESPN the Magazine profile, though, it appears as if Jordan truly has handed over the keys. Jordan is off working as the face of the franchise, making up for years of abuse heaped on the city from former NBA owners George Shinn and Robert Johnson, while Cho is behind the scenes and slowly developing the team from the ground up. From a .106 winning percentage-up, actually. From the Mag:

"Every single one of those moves is evidence that Michael is serious about getting out of the way," a rival Eastern Conference GM says. "They are now going to succeed or fail with Rich. And I can guarantee you that Michael has made sure that Rich knows that."

That same executive describes the 47-year-old Cho as a "Moneyball kind of guy," respected around the league for his involvement in the construction of the rosters of both Portland and Oklahoma City. According to Cho, when he left his job as the Trail Blazers GM to come to Charlotte 15 months ago, his marching orders from Jordan were simple and specific -- build through the draft and get free agents to complement the youngsters and put them over the top. The old Jordan, by his own admission, believed that if he cleared enough cap space, he could personally lure the likes of Chris Paul and Dwight Howard. But as he learned last year, even "MJ" appearing on their caller IDs wasn't enough to offset the lure of LA.

It's not so much the lure of Los Angeles as it is the lure of winning. Players like Howard, Paul, Baron Davis, Kevin Garnett and Derrick Rose spend most of their offseason in Los Angeles as it is — it's the fact that the Clippers and Lakers had ready-made winners on hand that was the main selling point. Kowtowing to a star and surrounding him with players he initially wanted, as Howard got in Orlando, isn't enough. You have to build a winner.

And you don't build a winner by drafting off of what ESPN's Ryan McGee called an "MJ March hunch."

That was apparently the case in 2011, just after Cho's hiring, when Jordan was the biggest sway behind drafting Kemba Walker. It certainly was the case in 2006, when Jordan took Adam Morrison. And a February hunch was certainly the reason Jordan let loose with a coveted (and, eventually, unprotected) lottery pick when he dealt for Tyrus Thomas in 2010.

McGee points out that Charlotte's pick in last June's NBA draft, swingman Michael Kidd-Gilchrist, is "Cho's kind of guy." That may very well be true, his all-around upside is significant, but he tends to check all the boxes that Jordan likes to pour over. MKG played deep into March on a prominent major program, and he's an athlete with a work ethic that coaches rave over. Work ethic and heart are well and good, but in some cases (and let's be sure here; we're not referring to Kidd-Gilchrist in this instance) that ethic is in place to cover for failings in other NBA-level areas. Adam Morrison practiced hard, too.

In short, it's an easy sell for Cho. So was the rebuilding, something that had to take place for basketball reasons (you need to bottom out, often times, before you start over) but also was essential for the team to survive financially. As we stated when Sam Vincent criticized Jordan, when Charles Barkley complained about his "yes men," and when Larry Brown whined about his former boss from afar, the real stare-down between the two probably has yet to take place.

It's a good start, though. There will be cap space, there will be more lottery picks, and there will be room to grow past the 45-win ceiling Jordan once encouraged.

And, eventually, there will be a showdown between Jordan and Cho. It's only natural, and we can't wait.

September 14, 2012

Serena Williams has been spending a lot on time on the court with coach Patrick Mouratouglou this season, winning Wimbledon, gold at the Olympics and the U.S. Open to cap an impressive 2012 season.

But based on these photos from a French tennis website, Williams and Mouratouglou may be spending time together off the course as well. The two were spotted cozying up to each other on the streets of Paris recently, leading many to believe there's a budding relationship going on between player and coach.

Mouratouglou, who runs a tennis academy in France, started working with Williams after the French Open, and based solely on the number of major trophies she's won since he came on board, there's no question the switch has been beneficial.

I guess it could now be beneficial in other ways as well. Are they really dating? Who knows for sure. We'd all like to believe a photo or two tells the whole story, but maybe this is just two friends hanging out together in the City of Love, arms around each other ... with Williams putting her hand in Mouratouglou's back pocket.
OK, I'm not one to jump to conclusions, but I'm going out on a limb and saying the Williams-Mouratouglou are dating. It's hard to say otherwise after checking out the second picture of them looking at international properties in a storefront window.