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SBD/June 5, 2013/FranchisesPrint All
Raptors GM Masai Ujiri was introduced to the media yesterday, and he said there is "zero issue" in regard to his relationship with team President Bryan Colangelo, who gave up control of the team's basketball operations two weeks ago, according to Jeff Blair of the GLOBE & MAIL. Ujiri at least twice mentioned that he is "on what he called 'the hot seat' -- not Colangelo, whose title is now president of team and business operations." That would "seem to mean" Colangelo "gets some swell coloured pencils but [is] kept away from the expensive toys, maybe helping to help sketch out new uniforms as the Raptors begin a much-needed rebranding of a name that is sorely dated" (GLOBE & MAIL, 6/5). In Toronto, Doug Smith writes, "It is evident that the buzzword for the immediate Raptors future -- and that’s the next few weeks if not the next few months -- is patience." Ujiri said, "I’ll take Bryan’s input when I feel it’s necessary and [Raptors Senior Basketball Adviser Wayne Embry] has always been a great mentor to me but at the end of he day, I am going to put my staff together and we are going to figure this all out collectively. Basketball decisions are going to be my decision. It doesn’t matter who tells me what, or how it’s done at the end of the day I’m sitting right here on the hotseat" (TORONTO STAR, 6/5).
TIGHT LIPPED: In Toronto, Steve Simmons writes Ujiri was "short on specifics and long on clichés" at the press conference and "wasn’t about to let any state secrets slip in his first official day" as Raptors GM. His "lack of clarity was both startling and intentional," but he "passes the boob metre without question." Ujiri "isn’t a dud." While past Raptors GMs were "disasters on Day 1," there is "none of that here" (TORONTO SUN, 6/5). In Denver, Adrian Dater writes the Nuggets "made the right call" in letting Ujiri go, rather than matching the Raptors' "ridiculous," reported five-year, $15M contract. Ujiri was a "good GM, but no savior," and "anybody who can read the results from the first round of the NBA playoffs the past two years would know that." Dater: "Since when did Ujiri become a brilliant strategist anyway?" The fact that the Nuggets "haven't gotten out of the first round of the playoffs the past two years is one of the more underachieving NBA stories in that time." Yet Ujiri "gets rewarded with a five-year contract as a result by another team" (DENVER POST, 6/5).
PIONEERING SPIRIT: Ujiri said that the "pressure he feels as a pioneer -- the first African-born NBA GM -- weighs on him more than anything else in his professional life." He added, "That’s the only place in my life where I actually feel pressure." In Toronto, Steve Buffery notes Ujiri is a "former director of the NBA’s Basketball Without Borders Africa program and also conducts basketball camps in his native Nigeria." Ujiri said, "For me, financially, this really helps me in Africa, because I can go and do more and can go and help more people. ... Being the first African GM, being executive of the year, all that stuff is, for me, on the side. I have to create an opportunity for people over there" (TORONTO SUN, 6/5). Also in Toronto, Lance Hornby wrote Maple Leaf Sports & Entertainment President & CEO Tim Leiweke was "proud to have landed" Ujiri. But no such need is "pressing with the Leafs" with team GM Dave Nonis "on the job barely six months and the Leafs in better developmental shape than the Raptors." Leiweke said, "(The Leafs) were good enough to let me do what I had to do (with Ujiri) first. They know how passionate I am about hockey. There could have been some reference that maybe (the Raptors) were a higher priority. It was just about patience. This team was the most pressing because of the time restraint I was under, having not started (officially) until yesterday. At the end of the day, I made the decision to stay out of (Leaf management’s) way and let them go through what they had to go through" (TORONTO SUN, 6/4).
The Stars yesterday unveiled their "first really new logo since moving to Dallas" in '93, and the new logo and uniform are "considered a complete 'rebranding' of the team," according to Mike Heika of the DALLAS MORNING NEWS. The new uniforms have a "vibrant green that the Stars have dubbed 'Victory Green,' and mix in white and black as accent colors." The new logo is "a giant D inside a star that now uses silver as an accent color." There is "no gold in the new look." The home uniforms are "green with white and black stripes at the bottom and on the sleeves." The road uniforms are "white with green shoulders." Stars Owner Tom Gaglardi said that he wanted it to "look like a uniform that had been worn for years, and said he feels they came up with the right mix." Gaglardi added that the Stars "looked at 236 variations of colors and uniforms." In the beginning, they were "open to any color combination, and there was talk of blue and silver to play off the Cowboys colors or red, white and blue to play off the Texas flag." But he said that in the end "keeping green as the primary color was a result of fan input" and of Stars Exec Advisor Mike Modano’s "strong voice on the subject." The green is "brighter than the old forest green, and yet also a different hue than the green used in the old Minnesota North Stars jerseys." The logo "might be the most controversial change." It still uses a "version of the leaning Star from the old logo, but it has a strong leaning D in the middle and does away with the 'Dallas' that was a part of the old logo." There is "significant use of silver in the logo for shading and edging" (DALLAS MORNING NEWS, 6/5).
GREEN WITH ENVY? YAHOO SPORTS' Harrison Mooney noted the Stars changing the shade of green was "for the better." Mooney: "If you think it's a bit too bright, keep in mind that this green will pop on high-definition TVs in a way the old green did not." One color that is "gone completely from the new look: gold." Gaglardi said that this "was due to two things." The first is that gold is "a difficult colour to work with." The second is that if "you look into the night sky, the stars aren't really gold anyway." Mooney wrote of the logo, "Maybe it will grow on me with time." But as for right now, it "takes up far too much of what's otherwise a nice sweater" (SPORTS.YAHOO.com, 6/4). In Ft. Worth, Travis Brown in a special notes the Stars will be the "only team in the NHL to feature green as its predominant color in the 2013-2014 season." Meanwhile, the team yesterday also announced that it "will host its four-day training camp at the Fort Worth Convention Center September 11-14." The camp will feature "practices on Thursday and Friday and will end with a scrimmage on Saturday, Sept. 14." The events "will be open to the public" (FT. WORTH STAR-TELEGRAM, 6/5).
The Hurricanes yesterday unveiled new uniforms which provide a "cleaner look that discards and simplifies much of the striping, updates the lettering and moves the old warning-flag trim across the bottom to a hidden spot inside the collar," according to Luke DeCock of the Raleigh NEWS & OBSERVER. The logo and the colors are "the same, the look considerably updated" from the old uniforms. The new jerseys are "clean and simple and modern." If there is an "issue with the new look, it’s that it’s so simple it veers dangerously close to generic and anonymous." The old sweaters, "love them or hate them, were unmistakably Hurricanes sweaters." That has "been lost, the price of progress on other fronts." The Hurricanes "maintain merchandising profit wasn’t the motive behind the redesign, but at a time when the team’s performance on the ice isn’t much of a selling point, ticket prices and parking fees are skyrocketing." Even if it "isn’t deliberate, putting a bunch of new jerseys on the shelves feels like another move to squeeze every possible penny out of the fan base" (Raleigh NEWS & OBSERVER, 6/5). ESPN.com's Paul Lukas noted the jersey crest is "now about 15 percent smaller," and in a "really unfortunate move, the warning flag pattern near the bottom of the jersey, which had been the team's secondary visual signature, has been eliminated and replaced by a generic striping." Lukas: "All in all, not an ugly uniform set, but definitely a downgrade." The home jersey looks "so generic, so minimalist, and the loss of the warning flag pattern robs the team of a big share of its identity" (ESPN.com, 6/4).
STORM WARNING: In Raleigh, Chip Alexander notes there are still "scheduling conflicts" between the Hurricanes and N.C. State Univ. over the use of PNC Arena, but both sides said that the differences "can be resolved." Hurricanes President & GM Jim Rutherford yesterday said, "I would hope the two sides could meet and have a better understanding of how it’s worked over the past 13 years." NCSU has "first priority on dates for its men’s basketball games and winter graduation ceremonies." But Rutherford and arena operator Gale Force Holdings "claimed the university put a hold on too many dates for the fall, waiting for the ACC conference schedule to be released while the Canes faced a June 1 deadline by the NHL for turning in their dates" for the '13-14 season." NCSU Chief Communications Officer Brad Bohlander said that the university had "released all but four dates through the end of the calendar year." It is "not known if the dates turned into the NHL by the Canes are among the four not released by N.C. State" (Raleigh NEWS & OBSERVER, 6/5).
The Cubs "got the go-ahead Tuesday to play up to 46 night games per season at Wrigley Field, start six Friday afternoon games at 3:05 p.m. [CT] and stage four concerts under a deal that pleased neither side," according to Fran Spielman of the CHICAGO SUN-TIMES. There were "four last-minute tweaks" that concerned the Cubs. The tweaks would "require the Cubs to foot the bill for security and sanitation costs tied to more than 40 night games per season and forfeit a night game after any season that includes more than four 'non-baseball events,' including concerts or college football games." The team was "equally unhappy with Mayor Rahm Emanuel’s decision to cap the number of Saturday night games at two per season and give the city 'unprecedented' control over when rained-out games are rescheduled." Cubs Senior VP/Community Affairs & General Counsel Mike Lufrano said, "We hope it can be modified." The Cubs "weren’t the only ones who walked away unhappy after Tuesday’s standing-room-only License Committee hearing." So were Lake View residents, who "raised many of the same arguments that peppered the epic battle over installation of lights at Wrigley." They argued allowing the Cubs to stage up to 56 "night events" at Wrigley "places too much of a burden" on congested Lake View and "materially decreases the quality of life" for area residents. Full council approval "is expected" today. The only question is "what happens if the Cubs don’t get the changes they’re seeking" (CHICAGO SUN-TIMES, 6/5).
NIGHT VISION: Cubs VP/Communications & Community Affairs Julian Green yesterday said that he "doesn't expect these problems to hold up the broader Wrigley Field deal." Green: "The good news is, we're at the table, and we always have been at the table, and the city's at the table. So we're going to continue to talk and make sure we can move forward" (CHICAGO TRIBUNE, 6/5). One Cubs official last night said that giving the city control over rescheduling rainouts would be "logistically impossible, and shows the city's complete lack of understanding of how the baseball schedule works." In Chicago, Paul Sullivan notes the city "obviously could not tell other teams when it could come back to Chicago" as some teams "come in only once a year." The Cubs "intend to fight the change strenuously, and MLB is likely to support them on this issue" (CHICAGO TRIBUNE, 6/5).
The Hawks may have “violated the NBA’s anti-tampering policy by mentioning” Lakers C Dwight Howard and Clippers G Chris Paul “by name in a recent letter sent to prospective ticket buyers,” according to Chris Vivlamore of the ATLANTA JOURNAL-CONSTITUTION. Howard and Paul are scheduled to become unrestricted free agents July 1. A team is “not allowed to speak about them publicly” with each player still under contract. The letter was “sent via email by a member of the ticket-sales department.” It was on team letterhead and headlined “Hot New Player news: Chris Paul and Dwight Howard.” It read in part, “Player interest is skyrocketing as the possibilities of landing Chris Paul & Dwight Howard become more and more of a reality.” The letter included “a link to a story on ESPN.com reporting that Paul was unhappy with the notion that he played a role in the dismissal of coach Vinny Del Negro last month.” Hawks President Bob Williams last night in a statement said, “The letter that has been referred to was written by one of our season-ticket reps of his own volition. … It is unfortunate that this mistake, by a single ticket rep with no ill intent, occurred” (ATLANTA JOURNAL-CONSTITUTION, 6/5). ESPN.com notes the Hawks “have the cap room to sign both Paul and Howard, an Atlanta native, to lucrative contracts.” The pair has “spoken in the past about joining forces.” Still, Howard has been “lukewarm at best about the idea of playing in his hometown” (ESPN.com, 6/4).
In Miami, Douglas Hanks reports the Marlins “account for about one in every five unsold tickets” throughout MLB when compared to last year’s sales as the team is “enduring what may be the roughest sophomore season ever in a new ballpark.” That gives the Marlins the “highest share of the blame" for MLB’s nearly 3% decline in ticket sales for '13, accounting for 21% of "the decline in ticket sales across the league.” Still, the “unwanted distinction isn’t quite as bad as the 40 percent share that Sports Illustrated assigned to the Marlins last week” (MIAMI HERALD, 6/5). SI's Stephen Cannella said, "If you take the Marlins out, the overall picture doesn't look quite so bad" ("Street Signs," CNBC, 6/4).
GETTING HIS HANDS DIRTY: Chiefs Chair & CEO Clark Hunt at the end of last season said that he “planned to be more involved” with the franchise. In K.C., Adam Teicher writes, “So far he has, at least publicly.” Hunt said of his appearance yesterday at practice, “I am trying to be around the team more. Definitely that’s part of it. But a big part of it is just my excitement as a fan just wanting to see Andy [Reid] and his staff coaching the team” (K.C. STAR, 6/5).
GLASS HALF FULL: In Ft. Lauderdale, Omar Kelly notes Dolphins Owner Stephen Ross is hoping the team's makeover "makes South Florida's NFL franchise relevant again,” and he is “under the impression he paid handsomely for a winning organization.” Even though the Dolphins “hold up the trophy as the NFL's spending champ this offseason, nobody should pretend the organization spent irresponsibly.” The Dolphins were “misers in 2012, squirreling away cap space for this year's spending spree.” The Dolphins “purposely let a ton of their own free agents sign with other teams, and targeted younger players that fit the scheme second-year coach Joe Philbin and his staff want to run” (South Florida SUN-SENTINEL, 6/5).
SURVEY SAYS: In Seattle, Brian Rosenthal cites an Elway Poll of King County residents that found that 51% “reacted with a shrug to the NBA’s decision” to keep the Kings from relocating to Seattle. Thirty-three percent were “disappointed, and 12 percent were glad.” Four percent said that they “had no opinion.” The results “painted a starkly different picture from a poll conducted almost exactly one year ago, when just 24 percent of local residents said they didn’t care about bringing the NBA back to Seattle.” Elway’s most recent poll “contacted 401 King County heads of household from May 28 to 30,” with a margin of error of “plus or minus 5 percentage points” (SEATTLE TIMES, 6/5).