Mike Budenholzer clinches spot as All-Star Game coach
Thursday, January 31
TORONTO (AP) — Milwaukee coach Mike Budenholzer and his staff are heading to the All-Star Game.
The Bucks’ 105-92 win over the Toronto Raptors on Thursday night clinched the spot for Budenholzer, who will coach in the All-Star Game for the second time in five years. He also coached in 2015, when he was with the Atlanta Hawks.
Milwaukee improved to an NBA-best 37-13 with the win. Toronto fell to 37-16, and the loss means its first-year coach Nick Nurse now cannot overtake Budenholzer in time for the All-Star job. It goes to the coaches of the teams with the best record in the Eastern Conference and the Western Conference through Sunday’s games.
“It’s a great honor,” Budenholzer said. “It says a lot about our team. The players are the ones who put the coaching staff in that position. I’m incredibly grateful to our entire roster and all those guys.”
Budenholzer will coach Team Giannis — the one captained by Bucks star Giannis Antetokounmpo. Milwaukee’s Khris Middleton is also heading to the Feb. 17 game in Charlotte as a reserve. Middleton will find out which team he’ll play for on Feb. 7, when Antetokounmpo and LeBron James, the other captain, select their teams.
Budenholzer is only the second Bucks coach to earn the All-Star nod — Larry Costello coached in the 1971 and 1974 All-Star matchups.
“It’s a huge statement, honor and compliment to the assistant coaches,” Budenholzer said. “What these guys do for me is pretty special. We’ve been together a long time, so I love that as a staff you get to go and enjoy it. It’s a real honor and I’d say it’s a special weekend to be around players like that and just enjoy it.”
The West coach will be either Golden State’s Steve Kerr or Denver’s Michael Malone.
Kerr would be the All-Star coach for the third time in the last five seasons, and he faced off against Budenholzer in the 2015 game. Malone has never been the All-Star coach, and would be the first Denver coach to have that job since George Karl in 2010.
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Knicks deal Porzingis to Dallas, say he requested a trade
By BRIAN MAHONEY
AP Basketball Writer
Friday, February 1
NEW YORK (AP) — The New York Knicks were having their doubts, wondering if Kristaps Porzingis truly wanted to be part of the franchise.
On Thursday, they say he made it clear he didn’t.
Once that happened, they decided to trade the All-Star forward who was thought to be one of the key players for their future.
“When he came in today, it was clear to us that it was time to pull the trigger on something,” Knicks President Steve Mills said.
That was a seven-player swap with the Dallas Mavericks that also netted New York two future first-round draft picks and possibly enough room to afford two top free agents this summer.
Porzingis has been sidelined for nearly a year after tearing his left ACL. The Knicks said recently he would undergo testing during the middle of February that could have determined if he would be able to return this season.
If it does, it will be in Dallas, where he can form an intriguing international frontcourt with rookie Luka Doncic. Both played professionally in Spain before coming to the NBA as top-five picks.
“He’s big, he can shoot, he can rebound. He can do a lot of things,” said Doncic, who was with the Mavericks at their game in Detroit. “I think he can be one of the best players in this league.”
The Knicks acquired Dennis Smith Jr., DeAndre Jordan and Wesley Matthews in the deal, while also sending guards Tim Hardaway Jr., Trey Burke and Courtney Lee to Dallas. New York general manager Scott Perry said the Knicks would get an unprotected pick in 2021 and the other pick would be in 2023.
“We feel like we did the right thing,” Mills said. “When you’re trying to think about how you want to build your team for the long term, you don’t want to commit a max (contract) to a player who clearly says to you he doesn’t want to be here,” Mills said.
The 7-foot-3 Porzingis was the No. 4 pick in 2015 and averaged 17.8 points and 7.1 rebounds in New York, where he was expected to be the Knicks’ franchise player for years. But they declined to give him a contract extension before this season — they say he was in agreement with that decision — and now by trading him and Hardaway seem instead to be gearing up to pursue players in free agency, with nearly $70 million in cap space.
Hardaway has two more years and about $37 million left on his contract, and moving that was necessary if the Knicks were going to find a way to open the most cap space possible.
New York (10-40) has the worst record in the NBA and is headed toward landing a high pick in the draft. Then the Knicks will be set up to be big spenders in a free agent market that could include Kevin Durant, Kawhi Leonard, Kyrie Irving and more.
But they won’t have Porzingis, who they once believed was the kind of talent who could help attract those players. The Latvian has 3-point range on offense and shot-blocking skills on defense, and had made his first All-Star team just before tearing his ACL after a dunk against Milwaukee on Feb. 6.
He had been frustrated with the franchise before, skipping his exit meeting after his second season before returning to Europe for the summer. But Knicks coach David Fizdale had said Porzingis was frequently around the team even while he couldn’t play, taking part in meetings and some activities on the court.
However, Mills and Perry saw otherwise, noticing how often Porzingis was in the gym and how long he stayed when he did come.
He was there Thursday, and after a meeting the Knicks had their answers.
“We wanted a confirmation from him whether he was completely in or out,” Mills said, “and he made it clear to us when he came in to meet with us that no longer wanted to be part of our group.”
The most valuable player in the deal from the Knicks’ standpoint is likely Smith, the point guard they passed on with the No. 8 pick in 2017 when they instead took Frank Ntilikina. The Mavericks took Smith one pick later, and he posted the second triple-double of his career Wednesday when Dallas won at Madison Square Garden.
Jordan is a former U.S. Olympian and top defensive center. The Knicks said they wanted to keep Jordan and Matthews, believing they could help their younger players.
AP Basketball Writer Tim Reynolds and AP Sports Writer Noah Trister contributed to this report.
Jones hits late basket, lifts Arkansas over No. 19 LSU 90-89
By BRETT MARTEL
AP Sports Writer
Saturday, February 2
BATON ROUGE, La. (AP) — Arkansas coach Mike Anderson couldn’t help but rave about his team’s poise, even though the Razorbacks had blown an 18-point lead during the final 13 minutes.
Mason Jones hit a driving floater off the glass with 22 seconds left and Arkansas beat No. 19 LSU 90-89 on Saturday night to hand the Tigers their first conference loss this season and first home loss in more than a year.
“We were able to steal one today,” Anderson said. “Our guys remained poised and did not panic.”
Daniel Gafford scored 23 points and Isaiah Joe added 18 points for the Razorbacks (13-8, 4-4 SEC), who trailed three times in the last 3:39, but responded with points each time to halt LSU’s streaks of 18 straight victories at home and 10 overall.
Joe hit two free throws with 3:27 to go and Gafford scored his final points in the paint with 3:01 left — each basket putting Arkansas up by a point before Jones reached 10 points on the game’s final basket.
Jones said surviving LSU’s late onslaught took “some guts.”
“They just tested us,” Jones said. “We wanted to see if we were learning. We learned tonight.”
Naz Reid had 19 points and 10 rebounds, and Javonte Smart scored 18 for LSU (17-4, 7-1), which was trying to start 8-0 in the league for the first time since 1981 — and very nearly did.
Gafford became the third Razorback to foul out with 2:01 to go and Smart hit two free throws to put LSU in front 89-88.
But neither team scored again until Jones used a head fake to drive past LSU guard Tremont Waters — shortly after Waters had turned the ball over on a risky alley-oop lob intended for Marlon Taylor as Taylor cut along the baseline.
“Very disappointed we couldn’t pull it out,” LSU coach Will Wade said, adding that his team had been “cruising for a while” and could only expect to get away with it for so long.
“When you walk a tight rope — we’ve been walking a tight rope for about two weeks — you’re eventually going to fall off,” Wade said.
The Tigers had three shots on their last possession. Smart rebounded Reid’s missed layup, but missed a pull-up jumper. Reid corralled the next rebound while moving away from the basket and his off-balance 3 fell short as time ran out.
“We need to play hard from the jump and not wait until the end of the game or when we are down,” Reid lamented.
Arkansas players and coaches stormed off the bench and embraced one another as time ran out. Several players glared triumphantly toward the nearby LSU student section, from where they had been showered relentlessly with taunts as their once large lead slipped away.
Arkansas took its largest lead, at 66-48, when Reggie Chaney’s dunk with 13:45 left capped a 10-0 run that also included five points from Adrio Bailey on two free throws and a 3. But a packed crowd at the Pete Maravich Assembly Center responded shortly after by roaring to urge LSU on. The Tigers chipped away and took their first lead since early in the first half on Smart’s off-balance finger roll with 3:39 left.
Keyshawn Embery-Simpson tied a career high with 16 points for Arkansas, hitting four of his team’s 13 3-pointers. Joe also hit four 3s, giving him 73 this season. Arkansas shot 54.2 percent from 3-point range (13 of 24) and hit a number of timely mid-range jumpers, as well while shooting 58.3 percent overall (35 of 60).
Jalen Harris scored 11 points before fouling out with 4:22 to go, shortly after his 3 gave the Hogs an 84-79 lead.
“We were due,” Anderson said. “We finally shot the ball well, especially with guys coming off the bench and giving us energy.”
Arkansas: Good shooting was narrowly enough to overcome LSU’s 25-point advantage from the foul line and 44-20 advantage in rebounds. The Razorbacks have won three of four, providing hope for a strong finish to the regular season.
LSU: The Tigers, who won at Arkansas in overtime earlier this season, nearly came back by using their athleticism and imposing their will inside. They lost the game by losing track of Arkansas’ best perimeter shooters and because of their own struggles from 3-point range, where they shot 20.8 percent (5 of 24). They also turned the ball over a season-high 21 times. Skyler Mays scored 17 for LSU and Waters finished with 12 points, eight rebounds and six assists. Kavell Bigby-Williams scored 10 points.
Arkansas hosts Vanderbilt on Tuesday.
LSU visits Mississippi State on Wednesday.
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Uganda’s ban on sports betting was the right thing to do
January 31, 2019
Author: Victor Odundo Owuor, Senior Research Associate-One Earth Future Foundation, University of Colorado
Disclosure statement: Victor Odundo Owuor does not work for, consult, own shares in or receive funding from any company or organization that would benefit from this article, and has disclosed no relevant affiliations beyond their academic appointment.
Uganda’s President Yoweri Museveni has ordered that no new licenses can be issued for established sports betting, gaming, and gambling companies. In addition, permits issued to existing firms will not be renewed when they expire.
The country’s sports betting industry has burgeoned in recent years. This has created concerns that it’s leading to severe addiction problems, especially among young people.
Museveni, his minister of finance, and other government officials assert that online sports gambling is diverting the attention of young people from hard work.
The latest move isn’t the first time the country has taken steps to curb gambling. Two years ago Uganda’s National Lotteries and Gaming Regulatory Board introduced a 35% revenue tax on gambling activities.
Uganda is in good company. A host of countries around the world have banned gambling. In sub-Saharan Africa several countries have been grappling with similar regulatory challenges. For example, Kenya, which is the third largest gambling market in Africa after Nigeria and South Africa, introduced a 35% profit tax on gambling operators in early 2018. The tax was subsequently reduced to 15% following a strong lobbying effort by the gambling industry.
But can a case really be made for a gambling-free society?
Assessing the impact of gambling in countries on the continent is hard because the industry remains under-researched and heavily polarised. And it’s also difficult for countries to come up with policies that aren’t backed up by evidence. On top of this there’s a strong lobby defending the industry. And gambling policy affects employment, business, tourism, entertainment, social service delivery, regulation, cultural heritage, and religion.
Nevertheless, I would argue that, based on recent research there’s a strong case to be made to ban gambling because it’s rapidly evolving as a public health concern in sub-Saharan Africa, especially among young people. In my view Uganda is right to have taken action because of the industry’s negative social impact to this developing country.
A global problem
Almost all Muslim majority countries ban gambling on religious grounds. The United Arab Emirates, Kuwait, Jordan, Lebanon, Brunei, Somalia, Sudan, Egypt, Indonesia, Qatar, and Lebanon all have an official ban except in casinos.
In addition to religious reasons, gambling prohibitions are driven by concerns about money laundering, gambling addiction, and in the case of sports betting, issues around the integrity of sports. Sports betting has been the focus of quite a number of illegal activities such as match fixing, point shaving and bad calls at key moments.
Online gambling is banned in Singapore and Cambodia. Under Singapore’s Remote Gambling Act, all forms of online betting are illegal unless exemptions are granted but these are rarely issued and come with high minimum requirements aimed at limiting the amount people can spend on betting.
Albania passed a similar law to Uganda in October 2018.
Italy is considered to have one of the worst gambling problems in the world. The country accounts for only 2% of the global population but for almost 25% of the world’s gamblers. A sizeable percentage of Italians are classified as gambling addicts.
Given that gambling poses a social risk, Museveni’s ban should have received unqualified support. But it hasn’t. Major online gambling proponents such as the American Gaming Association, the Professional Golfers Association, and the National Basketball Association argue that banning sports betting, gaming, and gambling cuts off much-needed revenue. They say that gambling revenue stimulates economic growth, lowers taxes, pays down national debt, funds social programmes and provides entertainment options.
A second argument advanced against the ban is that it will simply push gambling underground. This, in turn, will contribute to an overall rise in crime, incidents of match-fixing, and significant loss of government revenue as has been documented in India and Singapore.
There’s some evidence to support this argument. In some countries people have been swindled in underground gambling markets. This has prompted Brazil, Cambodia, Russia, China, Slovakia, Sweden, Denmark, Romania and Greece, among others, to rethink their gambling bans. These countries have made efforts to re-regulate the gambling market after initially restricting or completely banning the industry.
Determining the benefits
Two approaches are most commonly adopted to measure the effect of gambling. The first is a cost-benefit analysis, the second an economic-impact analysis.
Both approaches seek to determine the net benefits of gambling activity but they do it in different ways. A cost-benefit analysis considers the economic efficiency of gambling activity by seeking to determine all the individual costs and monetary benefits of various aspects of the activity. This type of analysis compares the costs and benefits that result from gambling.
On the other hand, an economic-impact analysis uses “multiplier effects” to determine the compound impact of gambling on economic activity including on jobs, income, operating costs, productivity and competitiveness. This type of analysis attempts to measure the net positive economic effects of gambling including any ripple effect that gambling may have on the economy.
Unfortunately, both approaches are flawed.
A cost-benefit analysis is flawed because it attempts to consider economic efficiency by quantifying aspects like stress, mental anguish, and entertainment, which are immensely difficult to value.
And economic-impact analyses fail because they pay scant attention to the real private and social costs of gambling.
This leads to conclusions that often amplify the benefits of gambling while downplaying the costs.
Perhaps the best way to determine the benefits of a gambling-free society is through the public health approach. A public health perspective allows researchers to consider the economic and social consequences of the industry.
From this perspective it’s clear that there’s a need for action. Laws prohibiting underage gambling should be rigorously enforced. But laws aren’t enough. Strategies to increase education and public awareness about problem gambling are vital.
Collaboration is needed so that social policies and effective public health intervention options can be developed.
Jon Richfield, logged in via Facebook: I am no gambler myself (I hate losing more than I like winning), and if you stopped gambling entirely, never mind sports gambling in particular, I would never complain, but good luck to you.
And never mind whether you used legal sanctions, or religious principles, or education; you would stand a better chance of stopping drug abuse, including smoking and drinking.
And you know what our record is like on on controlling such things…
6N: Italy reaches new low by losing to Scotland 33-20
Saturday, February 2
EDINBURGH, Scotland (AP) — Italy reached a new low in its woeful Six Nations history by losing at Scotland 33-20 for an 18th straight defeat in the championship, breaking a century-old record on Saturday.
Blair Kinghorn scored a hat trick of tries as the Scots recorded a bonus-point win at Murrayfield to start a tournament in which they are expected to be competitive for the first time in this century.
Italy, already, look consigned to a fourth consecutive wooden spoon for finishing last in the standings. With this loss, the Azzurri left behind the France team of 1911-20 that delivered 17 consecutive losses in what was then the Five Nations.
Six Nations chiefs continue to dismiss calls to enlarge the competition to seven teams, perhaps adding a 13th-ranked Georgia team that is two places higher than Italy in the world order, or to introduce promotion and relegation to give motivation for the lower-ranked European countries.
In those 18 straight Six Nations defeats, the Italians are averaging more than 40 points conceded per match.
They made the score more respectable in the Scottish capital by scoring three tries in the final nine minutes — through Guglielmo Palazzani, Edoardo Padovani and Angelo Esposito — when Scotland was down to 14 players following the sin-binning of replacement prop Simon Berghan. Still, it was hardly the way for Sergio Parisse to celebrate playing in a record 66th Six Nations game.
Scotland won a seventh straight home match in this tournament for the first time since a run of eight victories in 1975.
Kinghorn was the main reason for that, the winger scoring Scotland’s first hat trick in the competition since Iwan Tukalo against Ireland in the Five Nations 30 years ago.
After Tommaso Allan gave Italy an early lead with a penalty, Scotland responded as Finn Russell floated a perfect crossfield kick into the hands of Kinghorn, who darted across the line unchallenged.
Kinghorn had more work to do nine minutes later but the result was the same as he again pounced in the left-hand corner. Tommaso Castello’s knock-on gave the Scots a scrum five yards out from which they quickly worked the ball out wide through the hands of Russell and impressive debutant center Sam Johnson. Stuart Hogg did Kinghorn no favors with a terrible pass that landed under his feet but the pick-up and finish was impeccable.
Greig Laidlaw, who missed his first conversion, nailed the extras from out wide but Scotland failed to keep their foot on the gas and that gave the Italians some much-needed respite as they held on for the halftime whistle trailing 12-3.
However, the Dark Blues’ show of mercy lasted just seven minutes into the second period as Hogg added the third try. Winger Tommy Seymour carved the Azzurri apart with a marauding charge and as the visitors scrambled for cover, Russell dinked a grubber in behind. The race was on between Hogg and Esposito and it was the Scotland fullback who applied the all-important downward pressure with his fingertips.
Laidlaw’s conversion opened up a 16-point lead but the bonus point was the prize Scotland was really after and it arrived in the 54th as Kinghorn wrapped up his hat trick.
Russell did brilliantly to scoop up a wayward pass from Josh Strauss. Ritchie then rammed forward with another impressive run before Laidlaw handed off for Kinghorn, who slid over yet again.
Replacement back Chris Harris then claimed his maiden test try just after the hour mark as good work by Ben Toolis and Strauss left Italy creaking again.
Some of the shine was taken off Scotland’s win as they fell asleep in the final 10 minutes, however, following Berghan’s yellow card.
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