Sometimes when it sounds too good to be true, it is too good to be true.
Unfortunately, scams often hit the best of people. Dikembe Mutombo was one of those people.
If you listened to Episode 8 of the The Postscript podcast (you really need to subscribe, or you're missing out!), you would have heard mention of a gold scam in Congo that unassuming, gold-hearted Mutombo was duped in. Well, now you can read more on the saga, thanks to a very detailed article in The Atlantic.
The amazing thing is, there were a bunch of very savvy business-people involved in the investing party which was ultimately scammed here.
Mutombo may be a renowned basketball player and humanitarian. But as a UN Group of Experts report published last December makes clear, he's not much of a businessman. Mutombo had linked up with Houston-based oil executive Kase Lawal, a respected businessman whom President Barack Obama had appointed to the Federal Trade Commission's Advisory Committee for Trade Policy and Negotiation. According to the UN document (and as first reported by The Houston Chronicle), the two attempted to purchase what they thought was $30 million worth of gold from dealers in Kenya -- only to find out that the gold (most of which was probably counterfeit) was in the possession of a notorious Congolese warlord, who ended up profiting handsomely off of Mutombo and Lawal's blind enthusiasm and almost total lack of due diligence.
The article goes on to detail how the scam was perpetrated and just how alluring the spoils would have been. Mutombo, an experienced businessman, with strong links in his native African continent, surely should have known better. However, when you're dealing with people who commit fraud and scams for a living, it's hard to come out a winner.
It is well worth a read, if you're interested in the ins and outs of how a multi-million dollar international gold scam is played out. The article even contains a link to the original powerpoint presentation that Mutombo displayed to the investors prior to the party coming together.
Not only is New York Knicks swingman Landry Fields incredibly talented on the basketball court and intelligent, but the boy can sing! Listen to this rendition of "Billionaire" (Bruno Mars) by Fields, as he mixes it up a little to give it a Knicks feel.
Really, I don't know why Imam Shumpert bothered after that.
(all images: Benjamin Parker)
It wasn't pretty
The Sydney Kings may have pulled out the win, by a thread-bare two points, but the style in which the game was played by both teams was not pretty for the most part. The Kings book-ended their performance with 12 and 11 point first and fourth quarters. Any time you score at that mediocre level, you will struggle to win games.
Fortunately for the Kings, the Crocs failed to crack the 20-point mark in a quarter until the final period.
Perhaps indicative of the ugly, slugfest that this was, the Kings won the field goal percentage battle 37% to 35%. That says it all.
The foul count also portrayed the scrappyness of the contest, with four Crocs coming within a foul of fouling out, whilst Luke Martin fouled out for the Kings, with fellow top-scorers Julian Khazzouh and Ben Madgen also hitting the four-foul mark.
The Hammer is back
2003 with the Kings' first championship under his belt -- that was the last time Shane Heal appeared officially for the Sydney franchise. He has retired twice since then and seen time both as an NBL coach and player with the South Dragons and Gold Coast Blaze.
Last night though, Heal returned to the Kingdome on a winning note, despite little preparation time. There was a definite buzz in the air as fans from yesteryear anticipated the impact that their former star would have on the squad which has floundered this season. And it certainly appeared that the new coach's energy had translated into oncourt intensity for the playing group.
In fact, Martin lauded Heal postgame for the way in which he had brought a sense of accountability to the players -- a concept that the coach has stressed in his short time with the team.
Luke Martin celebrated in style
At the not-so-ripe age of 31, Luke Martin represents the old head of the Kings. That is how young this squad is (see my recent article at NBL.com.au about the youthful talent of the Kings). This game against the Crocs represented Martin's 250th in the league and boy did he celebrate with a fine performance.
Martin finished the game with 15 points, five assists and only one turnover, in what coach Heal lauded as a needed performance for a team that has been too turnover-prone in previous games. The third quarter, where Martin piled on nine points and three assists, was where he did his most damage, as the Kings managed a 28-15 period to pull away on the scoreboard.
The veteran point guard represents the Kings' safest ball-handler and best outside shooting option from the point guard slot. No doubt his previous time playing alongside Heal at the Kings and under his tutelage at the Dragons will place him as a trusted presence in Heal's short run at the team's helm.
Where to from here for the Kings?
It will be interesting to see how the Kings respond with a proper week of training under their belts with their new coach. Friday brings the slumping Melbourne Tigers to the Kingdome and Heal will be looking for someone to step up in what he sees as a lack of leadership within the group.
Whilst captain Khazzouh came up big on the boards (13 rebounds) in this game, as he has all season, he once again was not a huge presence on offence. His 15 points, whilst an equal team-high with Martin and Madgen, came in a less impressive way than we know the MVP candidate is capable of. The fact remains that the big man has not been the same player in the second half of the season as he was earlier in the 2011/12 campaign.
Jerai Grant was even quieter in this game and no doubt Heal will be trying to fire up the import to show what he is truly capable of against the Tigers.
It will be interesting to see how Madgen, Anatoly Bose and Luke Cooper respond to Heal's coaching. Given their gritty style as perimeter players, there will be much that they can learn from the former Olympian who embodied perhaps the most firey perimeter style the Australian game has ever seen.
Interestingly, it appears that rookie Alex Gynes' hustle has been rewarded by stealing away the minutes previously afforded to import Kevin Ratzsch. Gynes responded with a strong performance against the Crocs.
The team used quite a bit of shot clock most of the night, however Heal does not expect this to be an ongoing issue after an opportunity to run through some offensive sets.
If you don't have the desire to watch the entire 2012 NBA All-Star Game replay, then you've come to the right place. Really, the predominant reason we watch is for the highlights (the result doesn't matter), right? So, check out the top 10 plays from this year's game... and by that, we mean dunks.
Check out this video clip of the Minnesota Timberwolves tearing up your eardrums with a karaoke session featuring *N Sync's "Tearing Up My Heart".
Key questions here:
- I sort of figured that Martell Webster would have a good voice, but he just dances with his pseudo-punk hairstyle here.
- Michael Beasley is the highlight... in fact, I think it is he, rather than Ricky Rubio, who sings in Spanish most of the way.
Amongst all of the Linsanity of the rise and rise of Jeremy Lin, let's have a little education lesson.
Many will not know that the first Asian-American to play professional basketball in the United States of America was a 5'7" Japanese-American by the name of Wataru "Wat" Misaka. More than this, Wat was the first non-white professional baller in the States, after being drafted by the New York Knicks in 1947.
He may have only scored seven points in three games -- much different to the records being recorded by Lin -- but Misaka was a pioneer all the same.
Back in September 2008, I wrote about Misaka, at the old version of A Stern Warning -- take a read here.
In further reading, the always informative Hardwood Paroxysm today has a piece on Misaka and race.
Perhaps you've missed where this guy Jeremy Lin has emerged from, becoming the talk of the NBA. If so, watch this video which chronicles his story up until his 38 point performance against the Los Angeles Lakers at Madison Square Garden. It is like a trailer for a Hollywood film, only it's real and unfolding as we watch.
Today Lin had another solid performance, contributing 20 points, eight assists, six rebounds and three steals, whilst turning the ball over six times in what was amazingly his worst outing of the past week, as he led the New York Knicks to their fifth straight victory (over the visiting Minnesota Timberwolves).
You might be fed up of hearing about Jeremy Lin right about now. However, the guy has been that impressive this past week that he has inspired fan art like that above (source) and has dominated the NBA headlines.
And now, check out New York Knicks point guard Lin dominating at Harvard in some flag football. Is there anything that this guy can't do? We'll have to ask Chuck Norris that question.
Thanks Sharapova's Thigh.
The Jeremy Lin show continues. As you no doubt will have heard, Lin is taking the New York Knicks (and by extension the NBA news this week) by storm.
After two spectacular games against the New Jersey Nets and Utah Jazz, Lin today is playing against the Washington Wizards. As you may expect, with the little defence that the Wiz play (4th worst in the league in points allowed), this is another opportunity for the Taiwanese-American to shine.
At the time of writing, with over one minute remaining, Lin has 23 points (9/14 FG), 10 assists and four rebounds against John Wall and the Wizards.
Check out this crossover and dunk that Lin pulled off:
The guy exudes excitement. Also, I don't know what that is hanging off his face, either.