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Volume 24 No. 160


The Raptors announced Wednesday that they will wear a special Canadian Forces jersey later this season. The team said the camouflage-style jersey is the first of its kind in the NBA. It will make its in-game debut during the club's annual Canadian Forces night on March 21 at Air Canada Centre when the Raptors host the Bulls. The jersey also is featured in 2K Sports' "NBA 2K12" video game (Raptors). In Toronto, Doug Smith notes the players will wear the jerseys, which are "green and black with a prominent Canadian flag on the back neckline," four times during the regular season. The team had to "get permission from the NBA for the stark change to its look." The Raptors will now "sport four different jerseys at times during an abbreviated 66-game season" (TORONTO STAR, 12/22). YAHOO SPORTS' Kelly Dwyer wrote it is an "appropriate gesture, but these threads trend toward the uglier side of things." The Remembrance Day poppies are "classy and dignified, whereas these uniforms are a bit over the top" (, 12/21).

TOO HARD TO READ? In DC, Dan Steinberg noted two different Wizards fans after the team's preseason game against the 76ers complained to him that the Wizards' "new road uniforms were extremely hard to decipher on television, infinitely harder than the Sixers’ home whites." Steinberg noted an AP image "pretty clearly shows that the Wizards suffered from a severe numerical size deficiency in Tuesday’s matchup" (, 12/21).

In N.Y., Pat Borzi notes the T’Wolves are "in search of a spark and a following,” and team officials hope that rookie G Ricky Rubio, along with Fs Kevin Love and Michael Beasley and new coach Rick Adelman, “can supply both.” The T’Wolves “announced a crowd of 15,013 for Rubio’s debut Saturday, the largest for a Minnesota exhibition game since 1999.” The team said that it “had sold the equivalent of 7,500 season tickets this year, 2,000 more than last season and the most” since the ‘05-06 season. T’Wolves President of Basketball Operations David Kahn said that the team “would resist the urge to oversell Rubio in advertising and promotions.” Kahn: “That would be a terrible mistake. I subscribe to the old theory, underpromise and overdeliver” (N.Y. TIMES, 12/22).

IN THE COURTS: In Oakland, Paul Rosynsky reports former Warriors Dir of Community Relations Erika Smith is “claiming in a lawsuit that star guard Monta Ellis engaged in a months-long sexual harassment campaign, sending her numerous sexually suggestive texts including a picture of his genitalia.” Smith also claims that “the team's owners and general manager purposely attempted to protect their ‘franchise’ player by ‘sweeping (the allegations) under the rug.’” Smith is suing the team, Ellis, co-Owners Joe Lacob and Peter Guber, GM Larry Riley and “other unnamed team representatives.” She is “seeking unspecified monetary damages for numerous legal causes including emotional distress, lost wages and lost future earnings.” Warriors President & COO Rick Welts “denied the allegations” (OAKLAND TRIBUNE, 12/22).

WIN-WIN FOR ALL: In Chicago, David Haugh notes the Bulls on Wednesday signed G Derrick Rose to a five-year, $94.8M million contract extension, and “without even factoring in how the contract legitimizes the Bulls long-term championship hopes, the money invested in Rose will seem like a bargain by the time the deal runs out in 2017.” Haugh: “Think of how the image of Rose soaring in his No. 1 jersey symbolizes the sleek elegance of Chicago every bit as much as the skyline. From China to Chinatown, Rose represents the city in exemplary fashion every game he puts on a Bulls uniform on national TV, every commercial he shoots.” Rose “embraces the role of city ambassador with more modesty but less panache than Michael Jordan.” Haugh: “With apologies to Brian Urlacher and Jonathan Toews, Rose has become the face of Chicago sports most easily recognized and universally respected” (CHICAGO TRIBUNE, 12/22).

In Minneapolis, Jim Souhan noted Twins GM Terry Ryan's "decisions this winter don't seem to have excited Twins fans, many of whom crave familiarity or fireworks." Ryan has "allowed the popular" RF Michael Cuddyer to leave in free agency, along with P Joe Nathan and RF Jason Kubel. He has "plugged a hole at shortstop" by signing Jamey Carroll, a "37-year-old with no power." But Ryan "doesn't believe in making a splash; he believes in sensible moves that create ripple effects." Ryan said, "Anything that we do, I picture as a significant move. I don't do anything here that I don't think is going to make some sort of significant improvement with the club. I know some fans might not think some of these moves are significant, but when you look at how they fit with our roster, I think they're more than tweaks" (Minneapolis STAR TRIBUNE, 12/21).

EXPECTATION NATION: In DC, Thomas Boswell writes the Nationals' "baseball people lay out clearly what they want to achieve in the offseason," but as the "offseason unfolds, nothing happens." It is "probably because ownership is tensing up, tightening the leash again." This is a "particularly ugly moment for the franchise to appear paralyzed because at some point next year, the Nats will have a new deal with MASN that doubles or even triples their current rights fee." Boswell: "Now it's between $25 million and $30 million. Soon it’ll be at least $30 million higher. The industry knows this elephant-in-the-room windfall is coming" (WASHINGTON POST, 12/22).

FOOLED BY A PIRATE: In Pittsburgh, Bob Smizik wrote the Pirates have "so dumbed down fan and, yes, media expectations that to many another team's leftovers look good." The Pirates "upgraded their roster by acquiring infielder Casey McGehee," and it "speaks to the success of the relentless PR campaign conducted by the Pirates that some people believe they are serious -- as in financially serious -- about getting better." Smizik: "They are not. They are content to dabble along with 90-loss teams. There is scant indication that this type of losing is about to disappear in Pittsburgh" (, 12/21).

FEAR OF COMMITMENT? The GLOBE & MAIL's Bruce Dowbiggin notes while most consider Rogers Communications’ "current administration of the Blue Jays competent, fans also see the conflict between the goals of [the] team and those of the owners." When the Blue Jays are outbid for negotiating rights to Japanese P Yu Darvish "or decline to bid on major free agents, many fans look at a Top Ten metropolitan market in baseball and wonder why can’t the Jays spend like the Yankees or Rangers all the time, not this once." The "optics of Rogers’ financial commitment toward the Blue Jays will remain a sore point with their fans," and one that "has just a single cure: Winning." Dowbiggin: "And that doesn’t appear imminent" (GLOBE & MAIL, 12/22).

ONE MILLION SERVED: The Brewers announced that they have "already sold one million tickets for next season, the earliest date in franchise history that milestone has been reached." In Milwaukee, Don Walker noted the "previous record for the earliest date when one million tickets were sold occurred on Jan. 19 of last season and in 2009." The Brewers in '11 set a "franchise attendance record, with 3,071,373 fans at Miller Park." They also "set a record in sales of their holiday four-packs." An estimated "7,700 four-game packs have been sold over the holidays, beating the old mark of 7,400, set after the 2008 playoff season" (, 12/21).