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Aaron Liberman: Jewish Dwight Howard

In order to understand the importance of Aaron Liberman, you have to grasp how the Jewish community feels about its athletes. See, all it takes is a hint of Judaism for the community to begin buzzing about a given player. The reason is simple: Jews are generally viewed as people better suited to be owners, coaches, GMs or media members reporting on 40-times rather than the ones running them.

Your grandmother may not know what a puck is, but when she hears that Matthew Berman scored a goal for the Kings she wants to know if he’s Jewish. Milwaukee Brewers left fielder Ryan Braun may have been raised Catholic, but the Jews will follow his career like Moses through the desert. They’ll tell you his last name is all they need to know about him to like him. Or better yet, ask Mike Jacobs about the devotion. He was the first athlete in the history of South Florida sports to get the Del Boca Vista crowd to attend Marlins games. They still don’t care that he actually is not Jewish.

The point is that baseball has Sandy Koufax and Hank Greenberg, football has Sid Luckman, and the list of Jews in basketball includes Dolph Schayes, and the dude SI said was the Jewish Jordan. Simply said, we need someone, and Omri Casspi, Jordan Farmar, and whatever Amare Stoudemire is trying to pass himself off as won’t cut it.

We need a new hope.

Enter Aaron Liberman.

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The Time Donald Sterling Walked out on the Anaheim Pond Mid-Meeting

Before the LA Clippers became one of the few NBA teams that appears to be doing well financially, there were times when they hardly drew fans to the outdated LA Sports Arena. It was then — 15 years ago — that they were considering playing their games at the Pond in Anaheim (currently named the Honda Center) full-time. They began playing games in Anaheim in 1994 after the Sports Arena was damaged in the Northridge earthquake, continued playing select games there the next few years, and always drew well attendance-wise.

It got to the point where in 1996 they were in negotiations to play there full-time. Of course the Clippers never moved to Anaheim, and they opened up Staples Center with the Lakers and Kings in 1999.

So what happened that kept the Clippers from moving to Anaheim if they were that close to making it official? A great story explains it all.

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Chauncey Billups Will be More Central to Knicks’ Success Than Carmelo or Amare

When the New York Knicks were down 84-82 to the Miami Heat Sunday in one of the most anticipated games this season, it was not one of the five All-Stars on the floor who became the hero of the game. Chauncey Billups drained a three to give his New York Knicks the lead, and one they would not give back.

It’s no big deal for Billups, whose nickname his whole career has been “Mr. Big Shot,” and that bucket re-certified his nickname.

The Knicks won the game — only one of 82 regular season game — but what many people are not saying, or do not even know, is that Chauncey Billups will mean more to the Knicks’ success this season than Carmelo Anthony or Amare Stoudemire will.

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Kobe Bryant Throws Towel in Lamar Odom’s Face (Video)

At least when LeBron James disrespectfully bumped into Erik Spoelstra he was somewhat subtle about it.  The same can’t be said for Kobe Bryant.  The Lakers had a tough time beating the Thunder on Sunday afternoon, and Lamar Odom’s poor free throw shooting at the end of the game made things tougher than they had to be.  After he missed back-to-back free throws that could have iced the game and put the Lakers up five, you would think his teammates would give him a smack on the butt and say something like “don’t worry, we’ll pick you up.”  Instead, L.A.’s leader threw a towel in his face.  Check out the video of Kobe Bryant throwing a towel in Lamar Odom’s face, courtesy of Black Sports Online via SI Hot Clicks:

The Lakers were able to hang on and win the game anyway, but unless that was some sort of inside joke from Kobe to Lamar there’s no need for it.  It’s one thing to get on a teammate about mental mistakes or losing his cool and costing the team.  Odom obviously wanted to hit the free throws.  Props to him for not smacking Kobe in front of a national audience.

NBA Press Release Crowned Blake Griffin Slam Dunk Champion Before Contest

Blake Griffin is without question the NBA’s best dunker. He throws down dunks like this one and this one on a nightly basis, and we have become so accustomed to seeing it that we tend to under-appreciate what the beast is capable of. The NBA, however, has plenty of respect for the Clippers star.

Remember how we (or, I) told you we thought the NBA had predetermined that Griffin was going to be the winner of the 2011 Dunk Contest at any cost? Thanks to Ben Maller, we now have that in writing. Have a look at this NBA press release, paying particular attention to the 1:20 p.m. – 2:00 p.m. time slot under “HIGHLIGHTS INCLUDE.”

Griffin was indeed the winner of the contest after jumping over a car, but the issue lies in the timing of the press release.  It was sent out via email at 5:28 p.m. EST on Saturday Feb. 19. The competition began over an hour later.

The NBA sent out a corrected version of the press release later that evening, but the error has to leave fans wondering if calling Griffin the “winner” was a type-o or Freudian slip.  Those of us who weren’t impressed by the car dunk are going with the latter.

Donald Sterling, Clippers Giving Away Tickets to Celebrate Black History Month

In one of the biggest ironies you could conceive, Clippers owner and notorious alleged racist Donald Sterling was pictured along with Blake Griffin in an ad celebrating Black History Month in the Sunday edition of the LA Times:

This is quite the clever marketing for a few reasons. First off, adults must accompany the children receiving the free tickets, so they have to purchase tickets themselves. Plus, you know children love food at the concessions, so this isn’t exactly a huge financial burden to the organization. The other big and more important reason why this is good marketing by the Clippers is because it portrays Sterling as a benevolent donor to the African-American community.

Sterling, as you well know, has taken a public beating regarding his alleged racism towards African Americans. He’s heckled his own players including Baron Davis, has been accused of many racial actions by former GM Elgin Baylor including having a “plantation mentality,” and he’s been alleged to bring women into the locker room and make comments such as “look at those beautiful black bodies.”

What better way to change his public image than by giving away 1,000 tickets to a game to underprivileged children in the name of Black History Month? If the real goal were to treat children to a game, then why wouldn’t he quietly donate the tickets to local elementary schools or Boys and Girls Clubs? How many underpriviliged children do you know who read the Sunday LA Times sports section and ask their parent to take them to the game? Make no mistake about it — this was a P.R. move every bit as much as it was a charitable action, so don’t get confused when you hear otherwise.

Blazers Fan Wins Car on One-Handed, Half-Court Shot (Video)

Should NBA teams explore changing the half-court fan shot to the three quarter-court fan shot?  If not, there could be a lot more cars given away.  I don’t know if humans are evolving and are now more capable of sinking the half-court shot, but I feel like we’ve seen a lot of them lately.  Just a couple weeks ago we saw a Sacramento Kings fan hit the shot to win a Kia.  We praised that fan for swishing the shot and not needing the glass, but he was outdone on Friday night. Check out the Blazers fan one-handed, half-court shot video:

It’s one thing to use two hands.  It’s another to use the glass and get lucky.  But this guy could not have made it look any easier.  You’d swear he sits at home and does this for fun.  When he found out he had been selected to attempt the shot, he probably put in an order for some nice seat covers for the Toyota truck he knew he was about to win.  Talk about owning it.