ESPN suspends Dan Le Batard for LeBron James billboard


Dan Le Batard has never been one to weigh the potential consequences of his actions before going through with them, which is one of the reasons he is more entertaining than a lot of other sports radio personalities. It’s also the reason he was given a long weekend by his employer this week.

On Thursday, ESPN released a statement announcing that Le Batard has been suspended for two days because of the funny billboard he paid for in Akron mocking LeBron James.

“Dan Le Batard will be off the air for two days, returning Monday,” the statement read. “His recent stunt does not reflect ESPN’s standards and brand. Additionally, we were not made aware of his plans in advance.”

I think everyone knows Le Batard’s publicity stunt does not reflect the views of ESPN, considering it was a joke that Le Batard and his father attached their names to. Le Batard even said earlier this week that it was all in good fun.

“It’s just fun anarchy. All meant in fun — which, of course, will turn into Cleveland people getting filled with rage, poison and irrational hostility and want to use those billboards as a guillotine,” he told Greg Cote of the Miami Herald. “Sports are so great, the more irrational the better. This is a publicity stunt disguised as a movement. Please don’t tell anyone there is no actual movement.”

We know how protective of its image the World Wide Leader can be. But remember, Le Batard is the same guy who sacrificed his MLB Hall of Fame vote for life just to make a point. A two-day suspension won’t change him in any way.

Photo via @JeremyinAkron

LeBron James skinny looks weird

LeBron James skinny

LeBron James has been making a concerted effort to lose weight this offseason, and let me just say that he looks weird skinny.

As Del noted a few days ago, LeBron has cut carbs from his diet and has already lost “significant weight.” He wasn’t lying. You can just see in this photo he posted to Instagram Thursday how much different James looks.

LeBron hasn’t spoken about his weight-loss efforts yet, but the speculation is that he’s trying to become lighter to prolong his career. Though he’s been listed at 250 pounds, people believe his weight has been around 265. He’s still ripped, but he doesn’t have the same mass anymore. That could make things a little easier for him going through an 82-game season.

I liked LeBron more when he had that Greek god body. Nobody could handle him going to the basket when he was that massive. Now he’s lighter and might feel the effects of hard fouls more than he used to.

NBA rookies getting some hilarious advice

isaiah-austin-draft-smallThe NBA Rookie Transition Program is taking place this week. For most rookies, life as an NBA player requires a major adjustment. Many young professionals go from having $45 in their bank account to having millions, so any advice the league can provide should be welcomed.

That said, some of the stuff rookies have to listen to is hysterical. Sarah Lyall of the New York Times has been tweeting out some of the best tidbits of advice over the last two days. Here are our favorites:

Most of this stuff is solid gold, and Lyall’s Twitter feed is worth going through to read more of it. Some of it seems like a well-executed “Saturday Night Live” skit.

H/T Deadspin

Dan Le Batard trolls LeBron James with billboard


Dan Le Batard has finally figured out a way to take a very public shot at LeBron James. The Miami-based sports radio host and his co-hosts had been discussing ways to troll LeBron when he officially returns to Akron on Friday, but both the Akron Beacon Journal and Cleveland Plain Dealer rejected their proposed ad.

Fear not, LeBron haters — Le Batard and his father Gonzalo “Papi” Le Batard found a billboard company in Akron that was willing to take their money.

In a text message to Greg Cote of the Miami Herald, Le Batard explained that the billboard is all in good fun and is simply meant to point out that LeBron never thanked Miami for the championships.

“It’s just fun anarchy. All meant in fun — which, of course, will turn into Cleveland people getting filled with rage, poison and irrational hostility and want to use those billboards as a guillotine,” Le Batard said. “Sports are so great, the more irrational the better. This is a publicity stunt disguised as a movement. Please don’t tell anyone there is no actual movement.”

Like thousands handfuls of other fans in the Miami area, Le Batard is upset that LeBron left after winning two championships in four seasons. He knows the Heat wouldn’t have won the rings without LeBron. If you ask me, the joke is pretty funny. I bet even LeBron will laugh.

H/T DC Sports Bog
Photo via @JeremyinAkron

Report: Cavs have trade, long-term extension in place for Kevin Love

Kevin LoveKevin Love to the Cleveland Cavaliers is as official as it can be without actually being official. Adrian Wojnarowski of Yahoo Sports reports that the Cavs and Minnesota Timberwolves have reached a deal for Love and that Love has agreed to sign a long-term extension with Cleveland.

As expected, the T-Wolves will get Andrew Wiggins and Anthony Bennett in addition to a protected first-round pick. The deal cannot be finalized until Aug. 23 because of NBA rules prohibiting players from being traded within 30 days of signing a rookie contract.

Love has reportedly made a “firm agreement” with the Cavs that he will opt out of his current contract after the 2014-2015 season and sign a five-year extension worth around $120 million. Woj also added that the Cavs felt a sense of pressure to make the deal now knowing they would not have the salary cap space needed to sign Love as a free agent next summer. Had they not traded for him, the Chicago Bulls likely would have.

It does not appear that there is a third team involved in the trade, as was previously reported.

So what does it all mean? The return of LeBron James instantly made the Cavs a championship contender. The addition of Love makes them downright scary. While Wiggins is a phenomenal talent and could wind up being one of the best players in the league, Cleveland is likely better off with Love in the short term. LeBron will turn 30 next season, so time is somewhat of the essence.

Love is a proven talent and an NBA All-Star. If healthy,  LeBron, Love and Kyrie Irving have a chance to dominate a weak Eastern Conference.

Greg Oden has classic mug shot after arrest for allegedly punching woman


Greg Oden was arrested early Thursday morning in Lawrence, Ind., after he allegedly punched a female. According to the probable cause affidavit obtained by WTHR, a witness claims to have seen the NBA free agent punch a woman in the face.

When officers arrived at the scene, they observed “blood, swelling to the nose, lacerations to the forehead and nose area of the victims face.” The victim was reportedly being uncooperative and claimed she fell but could not recall any details of her supposed tumble.

Oden, who said he dated the victim for two years but that the couple has been broken up for two months, admitted that he hit the woman.

“Things got out of control and I started to go after the victim,” he said. “My relative and witness tried to hold me back, but I swung my arms to move them out of the way, then punched the victim in the face. I was wrong and I know what has to happen.

A relative who lives at the home where the incident took place told police that she woke up when she heard Oden and the victim arguing. She said they argue frequently.

Oden has been booked on a Class A misdemeanor for battery with injury and a Class B misdemeanor for battery. This probably won’t help his chances of signing with an NBA team this offseason.

As for the mug shot — Ohio State must be cringing.

Brian Scalabrine didn’t think Mark Jackson pushed Warriors players hard enough

Brian ScalabrineBrian Scalabrine’s stint as an assistant coach with the Golden State Warriors did not go well last season. Scal was demoted midseason and head coach Mark Jackson said there was a difference in philosophy between the two. Scal confirmed that was the case, and he says the difference is that he believes a coach should be pushing his players harder.

Scalabrine talked about his time with the Warriors in an interview on 98.5 The Sports Hub’s “Toucher & Rich” program Tuesday.

“Mark gave me a great opportunity to be on the bench, and then when I got there, I think to win in this league you have to drive and push, and I feel like the players will respond to that,” Scalabrine said via BANG’s Diamond Leung. “And I think that was the biggest thing about this disappointment in our staff as a staff, right? We could have done more, and we didn’t, and I think he kind of sensed that.

“At the end of the day, to say it was a difference of philosophy, a difference of opinion, I mean, that’s really what it was. And I’m so used to seeing like a Doc Rivers and a Tom Thibodeau (his former coaches), and it kind of threw me for like kind of a loop and a surprise that it was not as hard-pressing as I thought it was going to be.”

Scal also says the Warriors ownership group offered him the chance to interview for a position after Jackson was fired, so it’s clear they still liked him.

We knew that Jackson didn’t get along with ownership, and this might have been a reason why. Could Jackson pushing his players have resulted in better results for his team? Maybe, but it’s hard to argue with the success he had. There is more than one style of coaching, you know?

[Related: Mark Jackson was disinterested in game preparation, reluctant to practice]

Chest bump to Eye on Basketball