Team USA Stands by Patrick Kane

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By Paul M. Banks

When Patrick Kane read his apologetic public statement this morning, he delivered it just a couple feet away from a life-size poster of himself playing for Team USA.  His extremely brief remarks opened the U.S. Men’s National Team Orientation Camp; a practice session drawing a capacity crowd of 1,250 fans. A few hundred more were turned away. Many that did attend camped out the night before to guarantee admission. A good sized portion of the fans making the trek to Seven Bridges Ice Arena in Woodridge, Illinois did so wearing #88 Patrick Kane Chicago Blackhawks sweaters and t-shirts. Today, Kane was the rock star of the team, a bad boy in demand by hundreds of autograph seekers. But it’s not just the fans that are overwhelmingly supportive of Kane in his hour of need.

Team USA General Manager Brian Burke boldly endorsed Kane.  “I think it’s possible for a young man to be in the wrong place at the wrong time and make a poor decision. I know when I was Patrick Kane’s age I did a couple of things I wouldn’t want to talk about up here,” Burke said.usahockey-logo-pc3

Burke also made a valid point about the media, and the two-sided equation often involved with the reporting of a star athlete in legal trouble. “The normal process when it happens is unfortunate, but what comes with the salary when you’re a professional athlete, is that an incident like this gets huge play immediately. And when the athlete is later exonerated in anyway, it’s page 5 in the transactions column or something,” Burke said. “I’m not scolding the media for that, that’s the life that we all live,” he continued.

Burke later re-stated and elaborated this same point in different words with more emotion when answering another question about Kane. Of course, it’s hard to argue against the veracity of his point. But then again, photo-ops of players in the community doing charity work doesn’t “sell papers,” so (on the other hand) it’s also difficult to sympathize with Burke’s position.

Team USA’s GM went on to say that Kane’s situation does not affect his judgment of him, Kane’s focus on playing hockey and his ability to contribute to the team. “We’re here to get ready for 2010 and we’re not talking about Patrick Kane after we leave here…We’re going to Vancouver to win, and as far as I’m concerned this will play itself out. I wish I could talk more about it, I can tell you that.”

And what did the man himself, Patrick Kane have to say? “I haven’t really told anyone my side of the story to be honest with you,” Kane said Monday after his practice session. “The only one that really knows is my lawyer and my family. But that’s as far as it really goes.’’ Kane, just like every other player at camp, took questions from the media –although none regarding the incident in Buffalo were allowed- during his allotted time slot.

As much coverage as the Kane story has received, and continues to receive, a certain star athlete with legal troubles in another sport, has made even more headlines lately, as his recent reinstatement to the NFL has greatly overshadowed almost every other sports story.

“I was watching ESPN the other day and I’m watching Michael Vick give his speech and after that you hear people say that he’s not really sorry and things that,’’ Kane said.

Team USA Basketball Mini-Camp Preview

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By Paul M. Banks

Twenty-three of the top young NBA talents will congregate Wednesday in Las Vegas, Nevada, for the July 23-25 USA Basketball Men’s National Team mini-camp.

The mini-camp consists of practice sessions on July 23 and 24th at Valley High School, with the mini-camp’s highlight, the “USA Basketball Showcase,” a Blue-White intra-squad game taking place on Saturday, July 25th, 8 p.m. Pacific at the Thomas & Mack Center on the campus of UNLV.

Today, Team USA announced that 2009 NBA All-Rookie second team selection Eric Gordon (Los Angeles Clippers / Indiana) and Warriors forward Anthony Randolph (Golden State Warriors / LSU) had been added to the Men’s National Team mini-camp roster.  Additionally, it was announced that Danny Granger (Indiana Pacers / New Mexico) and David Lee  (New York Knicks / Florida) will attend, but will not actively participate. Also, previously announced participants LaMarcus Aldridge, Trevor Ariza, Glen Davis and Brandon Roy will now not attend the mini-camp.

Remaining List of mini-camp attendees
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-D.J. Augustin (Charlotte Bobcats / Texas)
-Jerryd Bayless (Portland Trail Blazers / Arizona)
-Ronnie Brewer (Utah Jazz / Arkansas)
-Kevin Durant (Oklahoma City Thunder / Texas)
-Rudy Gay (Memphis Grizzlies / Connecticut)
-Jeff Green (Oklahoma City Thunder / Georgetown)
-Blake Griffin (University of Oklahoma)
-Devin Harris (New Jersey Nets / Wisconsin)
-Andre Iguodala (Philadelphia 76ers / Arizona)
-Kyle Korver  (Utah Jazz / Creighton)
-Brook Lopez (New Jersey Nets / Stanford)
-Kevin Love (Minnesota Timberwolves / UCLA)
-O.J. Mayo (Memphis Grizzlies / USC)
-Paul Millsap (Utah Jazz / Louisiana Tech)
-Greg Oden (Portland Trail Blazers / Ohio State)
-Derrick Rose (Chicago Bulls / Memphis)
-Josh Smith (Atlanta Hawks / Oak Hill Academy, Va.)
-Russell Westbrook (Oklahoma City Thunder / UCLA)
-Thaddeus Young (Philadelphia 76ers / Georgia Tech)

Mini Camp Staff:

-Toronto Raptors head coach Jay Triano team-america-world-police-posters
-Utah Jazz assistant coach Tyrone Corbin
-Detroit Pistons assistant Dave Cowens
-former New Orleans Hornets assistant Kenny Gattison
-Minnesota Timberwolves assistant Jerry Sichting

“While we look to continue to build continuity within the USA National Team program and continue to improve, in 2009 we will get a look at some of the top young NBA players who haven’t been involved in USA Basketball at the top national program level previously.   Although some of these players have represented USA Basketball in the past, this is their opportunity to be considered for the next generation of players who will help make up the USA Basketball National program.  As was the case in 2005-08, the roster for the national team program will be fluid in 2010-2012 and we will make adjustments to the roster each year to help insure we have the strongest program and the strongest teams possible,” said USA Basketball Chairman Jerry Colangelo.

Twenty of the expected mini-camp participants have played for the Red, White, and Blue before including: Aldridge, Bayless, Durant, Green, Harris, Iguodala, Lee, Mayo, Rose and Russell.

All were members of the ‘07 or ‘08 USA Basketball Select Team that trained with and scrimmaged against the 2008 USA National Team in Vegas.
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The mini-camp list features a lot 2008-09 NBA award winners. Chicago Bulls rookie guard Rose was selected the recipient of the 2009 NBA Rookie of the Year award, while Mayo, Lopez, Westbrook, Gordon and Love ranked second through sixth in the award voting in 2009. Durant won the award in 2008. Claiming 2009 NBA All-Rookie first team honors were Rose, Mayo, Westbrook and Lopez, second team distinction went to Gordon, Love and Augustin, and Oden also received votes for All-Rookie team honors.

Granger was named the NBA Most Improved Player for 2008-09, while Harris, Durant, and Millsap finished second through fourth in the voting, and Lee (7th) and Young (9th) ranked among the top 10 vote getters. In the NBA Sixth Man Award voting, Millsap received votes for the honor.