Signing of Artest surprised GMs too

Lakers fans weren’t the only ones surprised by the team’s off-season signing of Ron Artest. According to an survey, the league’s general managers consider the Artest acquisition the most surprising move of the off-season, beating out Vince Carter being traded to the Orlando Magic.

The general managers, who couldn’t vote for any players or coaches on their own teams, voted Artest the toughest player in the league (42%). Next toughest? Kobe Bryant with 25%.

Predictably, the Lakers fared well in the survey, chosen as the team most likely to win the NBA title in 2009-10. Bryant was No. 2 (behind LeBron James) in the voting for most valuable player and the top choice to take the last shot with a game on the line. Phil Jackson was voted the league’s best coach, unseating last season’s winner, the Spurs’ Gregg Popovich.


The Clippers will be heartened to know they weren’t forgotten. They were voted the second-most improved team behind Washington, and the drafting of Blake Griffin was ranked No. 6 among player acquisitions most likely to have an impact during the coming season.

Note to Clippers fans: That means having a positive impact, just to clear things up.


Trivia time

Who was the first player in NBA history to miss 5,000 free throws in his career?


Staying in the now

Now that Shaquille O’Neal has begun exhibition play with his new Cleveland teammates, he has decided the Cavaliers are the best team he has ever been with.

“It’s probably the best team I’ve ever played on, on paper anyway,” he said. “I’ve always been on management to get me the power forward I’ve needed and the shooters I’ve needed.”

This neglects the 1999-00 Lakers, who finished with a 67-15 record en route to the title, as well as two other Lakers champions.

Just more grist for the mill leading up to the Lakers-Cavaliers showdown on Christmas Day.


Banned bands?

The Southwestern Athletic Conference has reprimanded the marching bands of Grambling State and Prairie View for playing at inappropriate times during the schools’ Oct. 3 football game.

Conference spokesman Duane Lewis told the Associated Press that each band played as the other team’s offense approached the line of scrimmage. Conference rules say bands must stop playing once the offense breaks its huddle.

Lewis said each team broke the rule at least twice despite warnings from officials and the stadium announcer.

A second violation by either band would mean a one-game suspension, and a third would keep it off the field and out of the stands for the rest of the season.

In other news almost as important as that, Prairie View won the game, 35-32.


Trivia answer

Wilt Chamberlain.


And finally

From New York Jets Coach Rex Ryan, to the Associated Press, when asked what he thought of 6-foot-3 receiver Braylon Edwards’ first practice: “He looked tall.”