Sports Beat “Carmelo Reups”

Carmelo Anthony seemed pretty optimistic that he would be returning to the Knicks when I saw him in May at ESPN’s annual programming preview for advertisers and the print media known as the Upfront. “We’re working on it!” he said with his trademark smile.

Clearly the Knicks had the negotiating advantage over other NBA clubs of being able to offer Melo an extra year at maximum money but they had other things going for them as well. MSG/Cablevision CEO James Dolan was instrumental in getting Anthony traded to the Knicks in 2011 and he has worked hard to maintain a solid relationship with his superstar. Carmelo’s actress wife, La La, loves New York even more than the town she is seemingly named after.

What hasn’t been said is that Carmelo Anthony wants to have a post-NBA business career similar to the one that Magic Johnson has and there is no place better to make contacts than in New York. Anthony is already an investor in a beverage company, Power Coco, and Mission Power Grip, a product that dries off palm perspiration quickly.

You have to give Nets general manager Billy King credit for taking the high road by refraining from criticizing his former head coach, Jason Kidd, for wanting to take his job. King was more than happy to bid adieu to Kidd who was clearly rankled by the fact that new Knicks head coach Derek Fisher was earning $2 million a year more than he was getting.

Jason Kidd may also have sensed that the Nets’ window for winning a championship was slamming down quickly. Billy King had mortgaged the team’s future last year by trading three #1 draft picks to the Boston Celtics for the over-the-hill gang of Kevin Garnett, Paul Pierce, and Jason Terry.

Garnett did not contribute much on the court and has one more year on his contract. Pierce did little in the first half of the season but played solidly in the second. He just signed a contract with Washington Wizards. Terry didn’t do much and was traded mid-year to the Sacramento Kings for guard Marcus Thornton. Earlier this month Thornton was moved to the Boston Celtics as part of a three-way deal with the Cleveland Cavaliers that sent sharpshooting guard Jarrett Jack to the Nets and in turn freed up the salary cap space needed for the Cavs to reacquire LeBron James.

Just before LeBron let the world know that he was returning to Cleveland, the Republican National Committee announced that it would hold the 2016 Republican Convention in Cleveland. This city hasn’t had it so good since Jim Brown was carrying the ball for the Browns and Alan Freed was spinning rock & roll records on its AM airwaves in the early 1960s.

The Nets made a good choice in replacing Jason Kidd with a solid pro such as Lionel Hollins who finds himself in an unenviable situation of coaching a team that may lack talent, and even more importantly, leadership. Joe Johnson hits clutch baskets but is too quiet to be a leader. Center Brook Lopez needs to prove that he can stay healthy. The less said about surly point guard Deron Williams, the better. Like Lopez, Williams is recovering from career-threatening injuries. During the off-season he had surgery to repair damage on both of his ankles.

Hollins unfairly lost his head coaching position with the Memphis Grizzlies when that team was sold to a new owner. At his introductory press conference at the Barclays Center, Hollins classily brought a touch of Memphis with him by wearing a lapel pin of the logo of St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital on his suit jacket. St. Jude is a children’s hospital in Memphis that treats anyone under 18 without ever charging their families. “I am even wearing a St. Jude tie,” Hollins added. Brooks Brothers makes a line of neckwear that benefits the hospital.

The Mets went into the All-Star Game break by winning 8 out of 10 on their long homestand and to push ahead of the Phillies and Marlins into third place in the National League East. Aside from the much needed wins, Mets general manager Sandy Alderson had to be thrilled from the contributions of three players on whom he has bet a lot of chips: catcher Travis d’Arnaud, centerfielder Chris Young, and first baseman Lucas Duda.

Young and d’Arnaud were complete busts the first three months of the season while Lucas Duda was continuing his career as the poor man’s Adam Dunn/Dave Kingman by belting home runs but striking out all too often. As the calendar turned to July however both Young and d’Arnaud were getting big hits while Duda proved that he could be a contact hitter.

Of course it’s to be seen if the Mets can keep things up for the rest of the season. If nothing else they made their general manger, Sandy Alderson, think twice about getting rid of key players such as Daniel Murphy at the July 31 trade deadline.

Citizens Bank Park in Philadelphia is a decade old and for most of that time a ticket to a Phillies game was a hot item particularly when the Mets would make the 90-mile drive down the NJ Turnpike. The Phils struggled last year and 2014 looks like a replay so the demand for Phillies tickets has dropped sharply. This is a golden opportunity for Mets fans to visit beautiful CBP the weekend of August 8 as they make their second visit of the year to Philly.

If you haven’t had the chance yet, catch “Battle of the Broadcasters” on SNY. The special pits the Mets TV trio of Gary Cohen, Ron Darling, and Keith Hernandez against their radio broadcasting triumvirate of Howie Rose, Josh Lewin, and Seth Everett in a Mets trivia contest. What makes it fun is that SNY has created a perfect spoof of ‘70s game shows as host Kevin Burkhardt channels the late “Match Game” czar Gene Rayburn with his long microphone and garish suits. There is even loud canned applause a la those old Goodman-Todson shows. It’s delightfully low budget.

Former UConn star and 2013 WNBA MVP Tina Charles joined the New York Liberty as a free agent this past spring. Tina grew up in Queens and badly wanted to return home. She has continued her fine play but unfortunately her supporting Liberty cast is second-rate to be kind. Even Liberty head coach Bill Laimbeer has admitted that his team suffers from a fragile psyche. That’s probably because most of the other WNBA teams are better.

Even die-hard Rangers fans are impressed with the Islanders bumper crop of young talent such as left winger Michael Dal Colle and forward Joshua Ho-Sang, the Isles’ top two choices in the 2014 NHL Draft. Unfortunately for Long Islanders these young players will bear fruit when the Islanders are playing in Brooklyn.

I am not sure if this series was created to tie in with the 2014 World Cup but cable’s El Rey Network is introducing this Tuesday, “Matador,” whose protagonist is a spy who doubles as a star soccer player.

If you love to enjoy outdoor barbecuing but aren’t sure how long to cook various meats or fish, the folks at Longhorn Steakhouses are giving free tips every Saturday in July 2-7 PM EST. You can call 855-LH-GRILL.

A great way to spice up breakfast is instead of using butter or jelly try some of Alouette’s new spread flavors, vanilla bean cheesecake, cranberry goat cheese, or pumpkin spice.
Another alternative would be to try the three all-natural peanut butters (original, honey roasted, and cookie dough) from the 3 Nuts. The company is humorously named after three 23 year-old female friends from Long Island who founded it.

I have long wondered why soft drink companies have only put their resources into making either sugary sodas or sugar-free sodas with awful aftertastes. There is finally some intelligent middle ground. At the recent Fancy Food Show, Gus’s, Veri, and Dry were showcasing low-calorie soft drinks.

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