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NBA notes: Magic hire Steve Clifford as head coach

Steve Clifford was there the last time the Orlando Magic were a playoff contender.

He’s being asked to make them one again.

Clifford was announced Wednesday as the new coach of the Magic, a team that has missed the playoffs in each of the last six years. Clifford — who spent the last five seasons as coach of the Charlotte Hornets — was an assistant coach on Stan Van Gundy’s Magic staff for five years, including during the team’s most recent playoff run in 2012.

“I’ve had 18 great years in this league and I’ve enjoyed every year, but none more than the five years here,” Clifford said.

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Magic president Jeff Weltman said the team used a “deliberate approach” and took its time, but insisted that the franchise made the right hire.

Clifford is replacing Frank Vogel, who was let go after two seasons. Clifford, who missed 21 games this past season while dealing with severe headaches brought on by sleep deprivation, was fired by Charlotte at the end of this season after going 196-214.

Hiring Clifford is easily the biggest move made so far by Weltman. He took over the club a year ago after the team fired Rob Hennigan and ended his five-year run that never got on solid footing.

Clifford is coming to a franchise that has lost more games than any NBA club over the past six years, 335.

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Steve Clifford
Magic coach Steve Clifford answers questions at a news conference Wednesday in Orlando.
(John Raoux / Associated Press )

NBA, Pistons sued by mother of late G League player

The mother of a G League basketball player who died in March after collapsing on the court during a game has filed a federal lawsuit accusing the NBA and the Detroit Pistons of negligence.

Zeke Upshaw played for the Grand Rapids Drive, a G League affiliate of the Pistons. He collapsed during a game at Grand Rapids on March 24 and died two days later .

The lawsuit was filed Wednesday in U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York. The NBA and Pistons are named as defendants, along with SSJ Group and The DeltaPlex Arena. Jewel Upshaw, the player’s mother, is the plaintiff, both individually and on behalf of Zeke Upshaw’s estate.

The lawsuit alleges that medical personnel at the game failed to attempt lifesaving measures in a timely fashion.

“Remarkably, for much longer than four full minutes, no cardio-pulmonary resuscitation (CPR) was initiated, no chest compressions were started, no oxygen mask was placed on his nose and mouth, no airway was cleared and secured, and no defibrillator sensors and electric delivery patches were attached and secured to Zeke’s chest,” the suit says.

The suit also says the defendants failed to provide the G League team “the resources, policies, and procedures reasonably necessary” to prevent or handle Upshaw’s collapse.

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The NBA, the Pistons and the Drive did not immediately respond to messages seeking comment.

Hawks’ Dorsey charged with drunken driving

A basketball player who just finished his rookie season with the Atlanta Hawks has been arrested on a drunken driving charge in Oregon.

Eugene police spokeswoman Melinda McLaughlin told news outlets an officer pulled over 22-year-old Tyler Dorsey for driving without lights early Saturday. The officer spotted an open container of alcohol on the floor of the passenger’s side.

Dorsey was charged with driving under the influence of intoxicants, driving without lights and having an open alcoholic beverage container, and he was released after posting $590 bail. It’s unclear whether he has a lawyer.

Dorsey was drafted by the Hawks last April, following his sophomore year at the University of Oregon.


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