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Saturday, April 18, 2009

Ramble On (Early edition) ... Lots of News ... and my Picks

News Item: KG and the NBA Playoffs and Larry Bird League Picks for 2009

Oh, the humanity. Just what are we supposed to do with the uncertainty of Kevin Garnett's health during these days of the first round of the NBA Playoffs. ALl of the KG nay-sayers believe he is out. Even Doc Rivers predicted the worst was yet to come.

To add insult to the KG injury, I was sitting at #3 in our annual "Larry Bird" playoff fantasy league. With either Kobe/Lebron at #1 and either Lebron/Kobe at #2, at my #3, I had the choice of:

Pau Gasol
Paul Pierce
Chris Paul (I had him last year in the playoffs, along with David West)
If Manu hadn't gone down, I would have considered Tim Duncan at #3.

When the time came, I took the safer pick and selected Gasol who under our statistical formula, devised by Larry Bird himself, is actualy a shade better than Kobe in per game fantasy points. I was hoping that Dwyane Wade would fall to me in the second round, as I believe Miami has a significant chance to advance to the point where they can upset the Cleveland Cavaliers.  Wade was gone, however, an early round pick (#5) to Reid, former Bosdton Globie and current St. Louis Post guru.

In the second round, I took my guy - Rajon Rondo - who will put up monster numbers against the Bulls.  The do or die, make or break my team pick came in the fourth round when I selected the one and only "KG" who was still on the draft board after Doc Rivers put the fear of a Bill Walton-type injury into everyone on the planet that follows hoops.  I am thinking that KG is super-human and will do ANYTHING to play and to win, as his (and the Celtics') proverbial "window of opportunity" is closing fast.  In other wordsm I truly believe, "HE'LL BE BACK."

So, for Larry Bird's benefit, along with Terry S. and Steve S., here is my "Terry's on the Side" NBA fantasy league playoff team:

1. Pau Gasol
2. Rajon Rondo
3. Nene
4. KG
5. Jermaine O'Neal
6. Kedrick Perkins
7. Udonis Haslem
8. Big Baby Glen Davis
9. Eddie House
10. Steph Marbury

If I had it to do over again, I would've selected Leon Powe rather than Steph.

Also, for the record, here are my NBA picks series by series:

Celtics over Bulls (6)
Magic over Sixers (7)
Heat over Hawks (6)
Cavs over Pistons (6)

Celtics over Magic (7)
Heat over Cavs (6)

Celtics over Heat (7)

Lakers over Jazz (6)
Blazers over Rockets (7)
Spurs over Mavericks (7)
Nuggets over Hornets (7)

Lakers over Blazers (5)
Nuggets over Spurs (7)

Lakers over Nuggets (6)

And, unfortunately for the fans in the The Hub ... In the Finals, with KG back to about 75%...Lakers over Celtics (6)

News Item: CNN SI's Ian Thomsen on European Hoops:

Ian wrote: "The next goal for Europe is to build one or more basketball leagues that operate at a profit while continuing to feed players to the NBA. That in itself is going to be an enormous undertaking, and maybe it will happen someday in partnership with the NBA so that the European leagues will serve as a kind of farm system to the NBA." Thomsen continued, "If European basketball is ever able to sustain itself as a business that makes money, then we'll be much closer to discussing the NBA expansion overseas than we are today"

News Item: Trump Thinks it is a good time for Entrepreneurial skills and Smart Investors.

TL comment: Amen, brother. Read this clip from CNN transcript:

King: Why [is it a] good time for an entrepreneur and not necessarily for others?

Trump: Well, this is a time for smart people. This is a time for entrepreneurial people. This is a great time for people like me -- and maybe people like you, Larry, because I know you're a great investor. ...

News Item: Around the Horne

A veteran NHL Exec VP, Business and Strategic Development guru headed off the ice to pursue other opportunities. In a report in the Sports Business Daily, they wrote:

NHL Senior Exec VP/Club Business & Strategic Development ED HORNE is leaving the league. NHL Commissioner GARY BETTMAN informed club execs of the news in an e-mail this morning. Horne, a New Jersey native who played hockey at Fairfield Univ. in Connecticut, joined the league as VP/Corporate Marketing in '94 and helped devise the NHL's "Cup Crazy" promotional campaign and several other initiatives. He was named president of NHL Enterprises in '00 and oversaw the league's expansion of blue-chip sponsors like Quiznos and Nextel. After JOHN COLLINS joined the NHL in November '06, Horne's influence and responsibilities began to decrease. In his e-mail, Bettman wrote, "In his 15 years at the League, Ed made significant contributions to the growth of the NHL, raised the profile of the League in the sports community and initiated our Club Consulting practice. He has inspired us all with his love of hockey, his loyalty to the League and his commitment to the growth of the game."
Here's a few items from a profile on Horne done about a year ago:

An idea I wish I had thought of: GPS. I don't know what I ever did without it!

A fantasy job: Coaching an NCAA Division I hockey team.

My job: Every day is different. Even on the tough days, it's better than most anything else I could imagine.

Sports: No matter how many games I watch, I always see something I've never seen before.

Sports business: The warp-speed evolution, not only season-to-season but day-to-day, is remarkable.

Pro sports: These athletes make incredibly difficult things look so easy that anybody could do them.

College sports: The energy, the passion, the bands.

Competing in this business: The competition is always internal -- to be better than I was yesterday.

The future of sports business: Globalization is only a matter of time. The sports world is getting smaller by the second.

News Item: New tech for fingerprinting can open up the "Cold Cases"

The CNN story caught my eye right away this past Thursday morning. I thought it was great and immediately wondered if it could help determine, once and for all, the murderers of Bobby Kennedy and his older brother, JFK. Let's hope it gives a few families some peace of mind, knowing the killers were prosecuted to the full extent of the law. The lead of the story read:

LONDON, England (CNN) -- It was early one Sunday morning when the killer rang at a front door that was decorated with a wreath for Christmas. When his victim answered, he fired four fatal shots, ran off and disappeared.

The unsolved murder of Marianne Wilkinson, 68, in a town near Dallas, Texas, in December 2007 has left investigators with few clues and few leads. They recovered the gun used in the crime a few months later, but the gunman's identity -- and his motive -- remain a mystery.

Now, a groundbreaking technique developed across the Atlantic Ocean in Britain may help Texas police and others to crack cold cases like this.

The technique enables scientists to detect fingerprints on spent bullets and shell casings, even when the print had been wiped off. It works by detecting the minute corrosion of metal caused by sweat, which corrodes the metal in the shape of the fingerprint.

"That sweat is in the pattern of the original fingerprint that was deposited," said John Bond, a forensic scientist for England's Northamptonshire Police and a researcher at the University of Leicester, who developed the technique.

The corrosion is often impossible to see with the naked eye because it's so small -- as small as a micron, which is a millionth of a meter, Bond said.

His method involves dusting the metal with a fine black powder that adheres to the corroded areas, allowing scientists to see the fingerprint.

A detective from the police department in North Richland Hills, Texas, where Wilkinson lived in a gabled home with her husband, went to meet Bond late last year, Bond and the department said.

Bond was able to obtain a print from the shell casings in the Wilkinson case, meaning police could be able to discern who loaded the gun, if they can find a match, North Richland Hills Police Investigator Larry Irving told CNN.

Police are optimistic Bond's technique will bring them another step closer to solving the case.

"Prior to (the detective) coming over, and one of the reasons he came over, is they had little or no forensic evidence for this murder," Bond said. "So my own feeling would be that finding fingerprints would be significant."

Investigators believe Wilkinson may have been the victim of mistaken identity, according to a profile of the case posted on the Web site for the television show "America's Most Wanted," which featured the case.

A neighbor whose address is very similar to Wilkinson's told police she had recently gone through a bitter divorce, and that she and her ex-husband had an ongoing business dispute, according to the Web site.

Large amounts of money were at stake, the show said, and the woman believed she was the intended target.

Investigators traced the gun's history to a man who is now deceased and, authorities believe, had no connection to the slaying, according to the television show's Web site. Police believe the gun has changed hands several times since then and are still seeking information on its latest owners.

The bullet fingerprinting technique won't necessarily solve crimes like the Wilkinson case but could unearth new clues, Bond said.

"It's helping police get evidence they didn't have before," he said. "It's simply a new line of inquiry and can be especially valuable with cold cases."

In September, Bond found fingerprints on a shell casing from another murder case -- a 1999 double homicide in Kingsland, Georgia.

In that case, the suspect or suspects entered a Title Pawn business downtown, shot and killed the two employees and stole a small amount of money, said Kingsland police lieutenant Todd Tetterton.

Police assigned a full-time cold case detective, Christopher King, to the case because of "some things that had changed." The department read about Bond's technique in a magazine article and contacted him to see if he could help, he said.

"We were interested in trying anything we could," Tetterton said.

Four shell casings had been found at the crime scene, but fingerprint testing using traditional techniques didn't reveal anything of use. Bond was able to find fingerprint ridges on three of the four casings, and one of them yielded enough ridge detail to possibly provide an identification, a University of Leicester statement said, quoting King.

Tetterton would only say that more than one shell casing was found at the scene, and said Bond was able to get results for detectives. He declined to say more, citing the ongoing investigation.

"The results are surprising," the university statement quoted King as saying. "I feel very optimistic. These results are better than I had expected and better than I hoped for."

Bond doesn't advertise his services, which he performs free of charge.

"All of the inquiries we've had from the U.S. police forces have all been initiated by them," he told CNN. "We never say no, so anybody who says, 'I've got some shell casings, we have some over 30 years old' -- we always say send them and we'll have a look."

Bond says he tries to know as little about a case as possible before he looks for fingerprints, so no one can accuse him later of looking for something specific.

In one case, he said, he found a partial print on a shell casing sent in by police in Boulder, Colorado. The detective told him it was a fingerprint they expected him to find.

"That was confirmation for me" that the technique worked, Bond said.

The technique won't work, however, if a person has just washed their hands or put on gloves before loading a gun. But Bond said that's not too much of a concern.

"Because of the nature of who these people are and the nature of what they're committing, personal hygiene is not foremost in their mind when they're doing this," Bond said. "It's also the heat of the moment. They might be sweating, perspiring, because you know you're going to go out and break the law."

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