Today in sports: The Nets prepare for their final game in New Jersey, Metta World Peace lets out his inner-Ron Artest, and Roger Clemens scores a win on the first day of his perjury retrial.
The curtain will come down on pro basketball's 35-year run in New Jersey tonight after the Nets take the court against the Philadelphia 76ers in Newark. The club was never consistently competitive in the Garden State, forever trapped in the shadow of the New York Knicks, but they sure were fun to cover, recalls Harvey Araton, who wrote about the club for the New York Post. Araton recalls covering his first road game in Buffalo in 1977, when William Averitt-- "one of four left-handed Nets guards" at the time, was arrested by Buffalo police immediately after the game and cited for writing a bad check and for "unpaid tickets related to letting his German shepherd roam a Buffalo suburb." Araton continues:
Hence, my first article for The New York Post with a glamorous dateline was about the Nets’ posting bond for Averitt — and not even the racy tabloid rated this news all that sensational. It was just the Nets, the strapped team that had introduced itself to the N.B.A. by selling the contract of Dr. J, Julius Erving, to the Philadelphia 76ers.
Things like that kept happening to the Nets even into the 1990s, when clubs ostensibly were more concerned about their public face. Selena Roberts recalls covering the two-year tenure of John Calipari for The Times. "For months," Roberts recalls, "Cal pushed on with a remarkable, upbeat energy — until the moment he snapped. That was the afternoon he called The Star-Ledger’s Dan Garcia a ‘Mexican idiot’ across a parking lot.” The team will begin play in Brooklyn next season. [The New York Times]
After four days, a jury has finally been selected in the Roger Clemens retrial, which means opening arguments can start as early as this afternoon. Clemens already scored a major win today when U.S. District Judge Reggie Walton ruled that Andy Pettitte, a former Clemens teammate with the Yankees, cannot testify that he received human growth hormone from Brian McNamee, who served as Clemens's trainer in 2002. Pettitte will be allowed to testify that he "used human growth hormone and say that he had conversations with Clemens about Clemens’s H.G.H. use," but can't mention McNamee, on the grounds it would prejudice jurors against Clemens. [The New York Times]
Los Angeles Lakers forward Metta World Peace -- née Ron Artest -- was ejected yesterday for delivering an Artestian elbow to the head of Oklahoma City Thunder swingman James Harden in the team's penultimate regular season game. Harden left the court and was diagnosed with a concussion. If World Peace/Artest receives a multi-game suspension for the play -- a pretty safe bet, based on the viciousness of the elbow and his well-earned reputation as an instigator -- it could change the complexion of the upcoming postseason. A league source tells ESPN's Dave McMenamin that that Artest is given a multigame suspension, he will "serve the first game against the [Sacramento Kings in the regular season finale Thursday] and any subsequent games in this year's postseason, rather than at the start of the 2012-13 regular season." [ESPN]
The Atlanta Falcons have wisely turned down an offer to appear in the latest installment HBO's training camp reality series Hard Knocks. According to NFL Network reporter Albert Breer, the club's decision-makers -- owner Arthur Blank, general manager Tom Dimitroff, and head coach Mike Smith -- collectively decided they wanted to "focus on football," which is reasonable. A league source tells ESPN's Pat Yasinkas that HBO is considering the Baltimore Ravens and San Francisco 49ers now that the Falcons -- and, according to Fox Sports, the Denver Broncos -- have passed. [@AlbertBreer via PFT]
Competitive table hockey: making a comeback! Kind of. Last month's North American Championships in Detroit attracted a record 48 participants, "some from as far away as Denmark and Norway." (A group of players from Russia were supposed to attend, but couldn't due to "visa problems.") The Canadian Table Hockey Championships earlier this month in Toronto included 120 participants, "the most the tournament, which has been held since 1999, has ever attracted." [The Wall Street Journal]
The World Anti-Doping Agency has signed off on the preparedness of the lab that will test samples from athletes at this summer's London Olympic. The giant lab at King's College is "the size of seven tennis courts," will test "as many as 400 samples a day" and will operate round-the-clock, for some reason. [AP]