Next step for NBA is hiring women in positions of power
By TERESA M. WALKER
AP Sports Writer
Tuesday, October 9
MEMPHIS, Tenn. (AP) — San Antonio Spurs coach Gregg Popovich sees one simple way for both the NBA and women to mark real progress in the league.
Hire more women in positions of power.
“I think there just has to be more, more of the same,” said Popovich, who during the offseason promoted assistant coach Becky Hammon, moving her one step closer to a head coaching seat. “There are more Beckys out there, they just have to be noticed and given the opportunity by people who are wise enough and courageous enough to do it and not just sit in the old paradigm.”
And not just on the bench, but on the business side of the NBA as well.
The NBA routinely gets high marks for its diversity efforts and is widely viewed as a leader on social issues. Still, NBA Commissioner Adam Silver believes the league needs to be better, and he made his feelings known in a memo to teams in the wake of the Dallas Mavericks’ embarrassing scandal.
Several NBA teams tout statistics about women in their workforce, but beyond a handful — including Lakers controlling owner Jeanie Buss and Pelicans owner Gayle Benson — the next step for the league seems to be more women in positions of power such as CEOs and COOs.
Memphis guard Mike Conley said it’s important for basketball, business and society itself to have women in positions of authority.
“We welcome it, and we do want to see more of that,” Conley said, “and I think that will help bridge that gray area and all the things that have been happening with the Mavs and situations like that and hopefully it will never occur” again.
The NBA earned an A+ for racial hiring practices but a B for its gender hiring practices this summer from The Institute for Diversity and Ethics in Sports . That puts the NBA “significantly above” other professional sports, even as the number of women hired at the team level dropped for a third straight year with the percentage of women in team vice presidents and professional staff dipping as well, according to the report’s author, Richard Lapchick.
When the NBA began investigating a report of sexual harassment and improper workplace conduct involving the former team president, the Mavericks did not have one woman at the executive level. Owner Mark Cubanhired former AT&T senior executive Cynthia Marshall as CEO and president in February , promoted four women to executive roles and now has eight women among 18 leadership roles.
A memo obtained by The Associated Press last month shows the NBA plans workshops in Atlanta and Los Angeles in mid-November on the diversity and inclusion efforts. The NBA also set up an anonymous tip line after the Mavs’ story broke.
NBA teams surveyed by The Associated Press say they’ve already been holding seminars on workplace conduct and putting women in leadership roles.
Irina Pavlova represented the Nets on the Board of Governors before leaving last year and was replaced by a woman as president of the company that runs the Nets, Barclays Center and Nassau Coliseum. The Toronto Raptors have Teresa Resch as vice president of basketball operations and player development, and Dr. Lisa Callahan is chief medical officer for both the Knicks and the WNBA’s Liberty.
The Miami Heat recently hired Ruth Riley Hunter as its newest television and radio analyst, a move in motion before Silver talked about wanting more women in the NBA.
Grizzlies general manager Chris Wallace has seen the number of women in the NBA jump dramatically since he joined the league in 1986 and believes its heading in the right direction. Chantal Hassard has been with the Grizzlies since the franchise was in Vancouver and is entering her third season as VP of team operations and player programs. Memphis also just brought back Nicki Gross as a basketball analyst after she was the NBA G League’s only woman assistant in 2015 with Iowa.
“I think it adds a viewpoint, a skillset that is very beneficial for the teams,” Wallace said.
Silver wants teams hiring more women, including jobs with power, so the NBA is going to help. The NBA plans an event at the All-Star break in Charlotte, North Carolina, in February to grow the “pipeline of female talent in basketball operations roles.”
Lapchick said hiring more women has to be a combination of efforts by both the NBA and its teams.
“Teams saw the results in Dallas with no women in leadership to stop/confront bad behavior, which I believe is not uncommon toward women in the workplace in and out of sport,” Lapchick told the AP. “Adam has the respect to push and I am impressed by the NBA’s actions after the decline in gender grade when the Report Card was published followed by the post investigation in Dallas.”
Ethan Casson, CEO of the Minnesota Timberwolves and the WNBA’s Lynx, said it can’t be a quota approach — and believes there are qualified women in the candidate pools. About 40 percent of Minnesota’s full-time employees are women with 35 percent of department heads and above women. He noted how transparent the NBA and its teams have been on this issue.
“It’s constantly challenging your organization’s thinking and creating what that environment is, and that’s what makes the diversity inclusion so important,” Casson said. “You’re a better organization when you’re built that way from the ground up.”
AP Basketball Writers Tim Reynolds and Brian Mahoney and AP Sports Writers Dave Campbell, Andrew Seligman, Janie McCauley, Anne M. Peterson, Schuyler Dixon, Pat Graham, Tom Withers, Howard Fendrich, Brett Martel, Kyle Hightower and AP freelance writers Raul Dominguez, Clay Bailey and Ian Harrison contributed to this report.
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Congenital Heart Walk to raise funds for patient resource programs, research and advocacy
The 2018 Central Ohio Congenital Heart Walk (CHW) will be held on Sunday, October 14, at the Westerville Sports Complex, 325 North Cleveland Ave.
Registration opens at 9 am and the one mile family-friendly walk begins at 10 am.
Congenital heart defects (CHDs) are the # 1 birth defect in the United States, with nearly 1 in 100 babies born with CHDs every year.
And, more than one million adults are living with CHDs.
The Congenital Heart Walk is the only national event dedicated to fighting congenital heart disease.
More than 50,000 supporters will gather in 28 cities across the U.S. with a goal of raising more than 2 million dollars. The 2018 CHW is a partnership between the Adult Congenital Heart Association (ACHA) and The Children’s Heart Foundation (CHF).
The event will feature kid-friendly games, face painting, live music and more.
For more information, go to firstname.lastname@example.org
Alex Spanos, Chargers owner and businessman, dies at 95
Wednesday, October 10
STOCKTON, Calif. (AP) — Alex Spanos, the son of Greek immigrants who used a self-made fortune from construction and real estate to buy the Chargers in 1984, died Tuesday. He was 95.
The Chargers announced Spanos’ death. Faye Spanos, his wife, died in August at 92.
After building a nationwide construction empire based in Stockton, his Northern California hometown, Spanos realized a lifelong dream of owning an NFL franchise when he bought controlling interest in the San Diego Chargers from Gene Klein in 1984 for about $50 million. He eventually bought all but 3 percent of the team.
NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell hailed Spanos as “an American success story, driven by a tireless work ethic inspired by his humble beginnings.”
“Alex became one of the country’s most successful businessmen, but he never forgot his roots and the call to help others,” Goodell added in a statement. “Along with Faye, his beloved wife of nearly 70 years, Alex’s philanthropic and civic contributions touched many lives throughout California and around the country. He was a marvelous friend and partner whose impact on the NFL will never be forgotten. We all benefited from Alex’s compassion, character and zest for football and life.”
Spanos hadn’t been in charge of day-to-day management of the Chargers since 1994, when he turned over the responsibilities to Dean Spanos, his oldest son. Dean Spanos decided to move the Chargers from San Diego to Los Angeles last year.
The team announced in 2008 that Alex Spanos was suffering from dementia, and he eventually stopped attending games.
“Laura and I send our condolences to the Spanos family on the death of their beloved patriarch, Alex Spanos,” former President George W. Bush said in a statement. “Alex was one of a kind. … He was a wonderful citizen and friend, and the Bush family will miss him.”
Born in Stockton on Sept. 28, 1923, Spanos took an unlikely road to NFL ownership. After working in his father’s bakery and serving in the Air Force during World War II, Spanos borrowed $800 from a banker to buy a truck from which he sold sandwiches to migrant farm workers in the San Joaquin Valley. He began investing in real estate and started a construction company that mostly built apartment buildings, eventually expanding its footprint across the Sunbelt and Midwest.
Spanos and his wife were generous philanthropists, giving to many causes related to hospitals, universities and youth programs. He gave extensively to the University of the Pacific, his alma mater in Stockton, where the Alex G. Spanos Center houses the Tigers’ basketball and volleyball teams.
He was an avid golfer and counted among his friends Bob Hope, Gerald Ford and many prominent politicians. Hope sometimes attended Chargers home games, sitting in Spanos’ box.
“Alex Spanos lived the American Dream,” former California governor Arnold Schwarzenegger said on Twitter. “His incredible story should inspire each and every one of us. As a son of immigrants, he rose from working in his father’s bakery to become a titan of real estate and business. But more importantly, he used his money and platform to give back to the world. He was a dear friend and I’ll miss him dearly.”
During his third season of Chargers ownership, Spanos fired legendary coach Don Coryell after the Chargers started 1-7 in 1986. It took nine seasons for the Chargers to make their first playoff appearance under Spanos’ ownership, in 1992.
After then-general manager Bobby Beathard nearly resigned following the 1993 season due to a feud over signing bonuses for free agents, Alex Spanos put Dean in charge of day-to-day operations of the team. With Beathard remaining, the Chargers made their only Super Bowl appearance, a 49-26 loss to San Francisco in January 1995.
It was Alex Spanos who first raised the topic of a new stadium in 2000, just three years after the city expanded Qualcomm by 10,000 seats for the Chargers, touting it as being Super Bowl-quality. The stadium hosted Super Bowls in 1998 and 2003, but the city fell behind on maintenance and it fell out of the Super Bowl rotation.
Alex Spanos wasn’t held in warm regard by many San Diego fans and was booed during a halftime ceremony to retire Hall of Famer Dan Fouts’ No. 14 in 1988. After that, Alex Spanos didn’t participate in similar ceremonies.
The Chargers last year left San Diego, their home of 56 years, and moved north after years of fruitless attempts to secure funding for a new arena to replace aging Qualcomm Stadium. The Chargers are currently in the midst of their second of three seasons playing at StubHub Center in suburban Carson, but they will share a multibillion dollar stadium complex in Inglewood with the Los Angeles Rams upon its completion in 2020.
Spanos is survived by four children, 15 grandchildren and 12 great-grandchildren.
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George Taliaferro, 1st black drafted by NFL team, dies at 91
Wednesday, October 10
BLOOMINGTON, Ind. (AP) — George Taliaferro, the star Indiana running back who in 1949 became the first black player drafted in the NFL when George Halas and the Chicago Bears took him in the 13th round, has died. He was 91.
The university spoke with Taliaferro’s family about his death in Mason, Ohio, senior associate athletic director Jeremy Gray said Tuesday. Other details were not disclosed.
Taliaferro was inducted into the College Football Hall of Fame in 1981. In the NFL, he played seven positions and earned Pro Bowl honors in 1951-53.
He was the leading rusher on Indiana’s 1945 Big Ten championship team that went 9-0-1, the only undefeated team in school history. During his four years in Bloomington he led the Hoosiers in rushing twice and passing once.
It wasn’t an easy transition — the segregation in Bloomington was jarring — and Taliaferro told the Indianapolis Star he once called his father in Gary, Indiana, and suggested he might come home and work together in one of the U.S. Steel plants. His dad wouldn’t hear of it.
“I lay awake all night trying to figure … out … why … he wouldn’t help me,” Taliaferro told the Star. “And it came to me: That for the first 18 years of my life, every day I left my father and mother’s house to go to school, they told me two things: ‘We love you; you must be educated.’ It came to me that the other reason for my being at Indiana University … on the campus at Bloomington … Indiana — was to be educated.”
Indiana said university President Herman Wells once intervened with a local restaurant to make sure he and Taliaferro would be able to eat there. When the manager balked, Wells said he would make the restaurant off limits to the student body and the manager relented.
The Bears selected Taliaferro with the 129th overall pick — a potential dream come true for the Gary native who grew up following the Bears. The problem was that Taliaferro had signed a week before the draft with the Los Angeles Dons of the rival All America Football Conference, which had welcomed black players since its debut in 1946.
Taliaferro told the Dayton Daily News last year he thought about returning his $4,000 signing bonus to the Dons in hopes it would clear the way for an NFL career, but then spoke with his mother.
“She said, ‘What did you promise your father?’” Taliaferro told the Dayton Daily News. “I knew right away. I had to be a man of my word, so I never even bothered getting back to George Halas and the Bears.”
Taliaferro rushed for 472 yards and five touchdowns and passed for another 790 yards and four scores in his rookie season with the Dons in 1949. The AAFC merged with the NFL the following season and Taliaferro ended up with the New York Yanks for the 1950 season. Taliaferro rushed for 411 yards and four touchdowns and caught another 21 passes for 299 yards and five scores for the Yanks, leading the team in touchdowns and helping them to a 7-5 record.
Taliaferro spent five more years in the NFL. He totaled 2,266 rushing yards, 1,300 receiving yards, 1,633 passing yards and accounted for 37 touchdowns while playing for franchises in New York, Dallas, Baltimore and Philadelphia. He lined up at quarterback, running back, wide receiver, punter, kick returner, punt returner and defensive back.
Taliaferro later earned a master’s degree at Howard University, taught at Maryland and served as dean of students at Morgan State. At Indiana, he also spent two decades serving his alma mater in a number of capacities, including as a special assistant to the president, IUPUI chancellor and dean of School of Social Work. He was also active in helping the Children’s Organ Transplant Association.
Flags on the Bloomington campus were lowered to half-staff through this weekend’s homecoming game against Iowa. Taliaferro’s No. 44 will replace the traditional logo on Indiana players’ helmets for the game and there will be a moment of silence before kickoff.
“He was a mentor to me, and, like all great mentors, was often one who was appropriately challenging me,” athletic director Fred Glass said. “Simply put, he was a great man and will be greatly missed.”
Indiana said Taliaferro is survived by his wife of 67 years, Viola, and two daughters.
Funeral arrangements were pending.
Shaky offensive line a big part of Spartans’ struggles
By NOAH TRISTER
AP Sports Writer
Tuesday, October 9
EAST LANSING, Mich. (AP) — Mark Dantonio had plenty of reasons for his frustration after Michigan State’s loss to Northwestern.
One particular stretch stood out.
Down by three in the latter half of the fourth quarter, the Spartans twice had the ball and went nowhere. Quarterback Brian Lewerke was under heavy pressure, and Michigan State couldn’t even make a first down.
“It didn’t give us a chance to be successful,” Dantonio said Tuesday. “That just looks like we’re not playing on one cylinder, let alone all cylinders.”
With tough games against Penn State and Michigan coming up, the Spartans don’t have much time to fix their leaky offensive line. Whatever chance Michigan State had to rally last weekend went by the wayside in large part because of poor pass protection, and what figured to be a solid line with four returning starters is now viewed — from the outside, at least — as a liability.
“We just know we’ve got to put it on ourselves to take control of this offensive line and get this offense going,” guard Blake Bueter said. “We do hear that stuff, and it kind of puts a chip on our shoulder and lets us know that we’re not where we need to be at yet.”
Michigan State lost only one starter on offense from last season — center Brian Allen — but the offensive line hasn’t been at full strength. Junior tackle Cole Chewins missed this season’s opener and has played only 74 snaps in the four games since. Guard Kevin Jarvis has missed the past two games, and guard David Beedle — a fifth-year senior — went down early in the Northwestern game and is expected to be out for a month.
The Spartans play at No. 8 Penn State on Saturday, and the Nittany Lions aren’t likely to have much sympathy for Michigan State’s injury woes. Dantonio has little choice but to coach whoever is healthy.
“Chewins is back healthier now so that allows us to put him at left tackle,” Dantonio said. “Allows us to move Tyler Higby to left guard, which is where he played predominantly last year.”
Higby has started twice at center and three times at left tackle this season.
Michigan State leads the nation in rushing defense, but the Spartans are 109th in rushing offense and have allowed 12 sacks in five games. Their inability to control the line of scrimmage was jarring toward the end of their loss to Northwestern.
Down 22-19 with 6:41 remaining, the Spartans took over at their own 20-yard line. They lost 6 yards on a completed pass, and then Lewerke was sacked for a loss of 4. A holding penalty pushed them back 5 more yards, and they eventually had to punt.
On Michigan State’s next possession, the Spartans stalled after a 9-yard gain on first down. Lewerke was nearly sacked on both second and third down, and after incompletions on those plays, the Spartans were stopped on fourth-and-1. Northwestern went on to win 29-19 .
With Penn State coming up and Michigan on the horizon, any adjustments Michigan State can make would figure to come soon. But Dantonio isn’t wavering on his commitment to the running game.
“I can point to numerous offensive lines across this country that aren’t playing very well together. All you’ve got to do is put the tape on and watch them,” he said. “We’ll keep pushing it. When we came here in 2007, you know, the one thing that I said is, hey, we’re going to run the football. We have to run the football. I still believe that, and we’ve got to find ways to do that.”
It’s hard to imagine an improved running game — or a consistent passing attack — without improved play from Michigan State’s offensive line.
“A lot’s put on us,” center Matt Allen said. “We’ve really been trying to demand just execution and playing physical in practice and being able to do that same thing on Saturday.”
NOTES: Dantonio said P Jake Hartbarger’s lower leg injury from last month’s loss at Arizona State will likely end his season. The plan for now is for Hartbarger to get a medical redshirt and play again next year.
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Red Sox hold off Yanks in Game 4, face Astros in ALCS
By RONALD BLUM
AP Baseball Writer
Wednesday, October 10
NEW YORK (AP) — Eduardo Nunez charged Gleyber Torres’ four-hopper toward third base and whipped the ball across the diamond . Steve Pearce stretched, falling on his chest for a sprawling catch. The umpire signaled: “Out!”
The Boston Red Sox gathered around exhausted closer Craig Kimbrel, hugging and celebrating after the New York Yankees’ two-run rally in the ninth inning fell short.
In 21st century baseball, the game doesn’t always end when it seems, hanging in limbo until umpires in a downtown Manhattan replay room agree .
A Yankee Stadium crowd of 49,641 wondered and the Red Sox paused as they watched from the infield in suspended celebration, fixated on the center-field video board.
After 63 seconds that felt like a lot longer, crew chief Mike Winters heard the decision, took off his headset, raised his right fist and made it official: The Red Sox beat the Yankees 4-3 Tuesday night to win the AL Division Series 3-1, setting up a postseason rematch with the World Series champion Astros.
“I’ve been talking about them the whole season, so now we go,” said Red Sox rookie manager Alex Cora, Houston’s bench coach last year. “Best of seven. They know me. I know them. It should be fun.”
J.D. Martinez and the 108-win Red Sox reached the AL Championship Series for the first time since Boston won the title in 2013. A year after losing to Houston in a four-game ALDS, the Red Sox open the best-of-seven matchup against the 103-win Astros on Saturday night at Fenway Park. Houston went 4-3 against Boston this year.
“Awesome to clinch this one,” Red Sox reliever Matt Barnes said, “but we’ve got eight more.”
A New Jersey native who grew up a Mets fan, Rick Porcello held the Yankees to one run over five innings for his first postseason win in 13 appearances. Barnes and Ryan Brasier followed with a perfect inning each to protect a 4-1 lead.
Red Sox ace Chris Sale told Cora when he arrived at the ballpark that he wanted to pitch, and he followed with a 1-2-3 eighth in a rare relief appearance that extended the Yankees’ streak of consecutive outs to 11.
New York had not put a leadoff runner on until Kimbrel, a seven-time All-Star closer, walked Aaron Judge on four pitches leading off the ninth.
Didi Gregorius singled and Giancarlo Stanton struck out, Luke Voit walked on four pitches, and Kimbrel hit Neil Walker on a leg with a next pitch , forcing in a run that made it 4-2.
Gary Sanchez fell behind 0-2 in the count, worked it full and sent a drive that had the crowd roaring only for Andrew Benintendi to catch it on the left-field warning track, a few feet short of a series-tying grand slam .
“I hit it well. But I got under it,” Sanchez said through a translator.
Then came Torres’ bouncer.
“You never want to give a game back and go to a Game 5, so it’s great that we could do it tonight,” said Kimbrel, who got his second save of the series.
A night after Boston romped to a record-setting 16-1 rout in a game that included three replay reversals, Martinez, Ian Kinsler and Nunez drove in runs in the third inning off a wobbly CC Sabathia, who took the loss. For the second straight night, Yankees rookie manager Aaron Boone hesitated to remove his starting pitcher early.
When Boone brought in Zach Britton to start the fourth, and Christian Vazquez led off with an opposite-field drive over the short porch in right field for his first career postseason homer.
Not even the presence of 1978 AL East tiebreaker star Bucky Dent for the ceremonial first pitch could inspire the 100-win Yankees, who were outscored 27-14 in the series, including 20-4 in the final two games. New York set a major league record this year for most home runs in a season, but didn’t go deep in the two games at Yankee Stadium and hit .214 in the series, which included 3 for 14 by Gregorius, 1 for 15 by Andrew McCutchen and 3 for 15 by Sanchez.
Stanton, New York’s big acquisition last offseason, was 4 for 18 (.222) with no RBIs.
“I don’t want to experience the postseason. I want to win it all,” Stanton said.
Dent’s home run over Fenway Park’s Green Monster in the 1978 AL East tiebreaker propelled the Yankees to their second straight World Series title, but Boston eliminated its rival in the Bronx in the teams’ second straight postseason meeting. In the 2004 ALCS — with Barnes in the crowd as a teen, rooting for the Yankees — the Red Sox became the first big league team to overcome 3-0 postseason deficit, winning the final two games on the road and going on to sweep the World Series for its first title since 1918.
Boston added championships in 2007 and 2013, becoming one of baseball’s elite clubs. But the Red Sox were knocked out in the Division Series in 2016 and ‘17, had not reached the sport’s final four since their last title.
A lanky, bearded 29-year-old right-hander, Porcello lived a traffic jam from Yankee Stadium in Chester, New Jersey, and is a 2007 graduate of Seton Hall Prep in West Orange — the baseball field there was renamed in his honor last year after he helped fund artificial turf and pro-style dugouts. The 2016 AL Cy Young Award winner entered with a 0-3 in 12 previous postseason appearances, which included four starts.
He didn’t allow a run until a sacrifice fly in the fifth by Brett Gardner , like Sabathia playing perhaps his last game for the Yankees. Aaron Hicks missed a two-run homer by about 4 feet on a foul drive down the right-field line.
Sabathia escaped a bases-loaded jam in the first when Kinsler hit an inning-ending flyout to Gardner in front of the left-field wall. Sabathia nicked Benintendi on the right shoulder with a slider on his first pitch of the third, Pearce sliced a cutter into right-center to put runners at the corners and Martinez hit a third-inning sacrifice fly for second straight night , giving him a series-high six RBIs.
With David Robertson starting to warm up, Kinsler hit a two-out double over a leaping Gardner for a 2-0 lead and Nunez singled on the next pitch for his first RBI of the postseason.
New York’s starting pitchers allowed 15 runs in 13 innings, and Masahiro Tanaka was the only one to get an out in the fourth — a sign the Yankees may pursue top free-agent pitchers such as Dallas Keuchel and Patrick Corbin.
“I think we’re right there knocking on the door,” Boone said, “very close to being a championship club right now. We just got to continue to improve on the margins in every facet. Pitching is one of those.”
BEHIND THE PLATE
A night after three of his calls at first base were reversed on video reviews, Angel Hernandez was the plate umpire. Benintendi argued after he was called out on a breaking ball with the bases loaded for the final out of the eighth, a pitch that may have been outside. Sabathia was livid. “I don’t think Angel Hernandez should be umping playoff games,” he said. “He’s absolutely terrible. He was terrible behind the plate today. He was terrible at first base.” Major League Baseball declined comment, spokesman Mike Teevan said.
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