Why were a bunch of NBA stars in Africa?

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Why were a bunch of NBA stars in Africa?

From Comcast SportsNetOKLAHOMA CITY (AP) -- For Nick Collison, taking a trip to Africa changed the world he lives in.The Oklahoma City Thunder forward was only in Kenya for three days, but it felt like three weeks. He witnessed people who walked 30 miles just to get two drops of polio vaccine, then turned around and walked home. He mingled among 100,000 people seeking refuge from wars and famine.He'll come back to the United States a changed person."To see things like that, it makes it real because you always hear about what's going on in different places of the world. To see it firsthand, for me, made it real," Collison said by phone Thursday from South Africa, where he's participating in the NBA's 10th Basketball Without Borders clinic."It's just an incredible trip."Before heading to Johannesburg, Collison stopped in Nairobi then headed out to the refugee camp with UNICEF."I'd say it's probably a life-changing experience. It's something that will give me a different perspective on my life and just how I see the world," Collison said."I think the goal of bringing the NBA as a partner of UNICEF is to get guys to talk about it and just kind of get the word out to a different audience, to let people know what groups are doing and people can get involved with what's going on."Collison is part of a hefty Thunder presence in Africa this week. Four of the seven NBA players participating in Basketball Without Borders this year are from the Oklahoma City roster. Serge Ibaka, a native of the Republic of Congo, joins Collison, Thabo Sefolosha and Cole Aldrich as camp coaches.Chicago's Luol Deng, Milwaukee's Luc Mbah a Moute and Brooklyn's C.J. Watson are also participating in the basketball clinic for 60 African boys and girls, and helping life skills seminars and education on HIV and AIDS."We're out here to not only change other people's lives but also to change ours, to give us a different perspective on other how other people live," Aldrich said. "Serge grew up in a totally different lifestyle than any of us did, and we're learning a little bit of that through this trip."It's been so much fun, there's a lot of things we've got to continue to do and we're just trying to spread the word of basketball and just help people that need help."Ibaka made a stop in his hometown, Brazzaville, for about a week and offered a basketball clinic there before linking up with his teammates in Johannesburg. Ibaka is the son of two Congolese basketball players, and is trying to do his part to spread the sport further now that he's developed into one of the NBA's top defenders."I'm trying to do my best I can to come back there and give something and show them that I'm still thinking about them," said Ibaka, who led the league in blocks last season and finished second in the voting for Defensive Player of the Year.Sefolosha's father is from South Africa, and he, Ibaka and Collison all had participated in Basketball Without Borders before. Aldrich is a first-timer and took in a safari before the camp began."The goal is to try to improve the basketball development program for kids over here, to get more coaching, to get the national teams more involved, so that they can learn the game better," said Collison, who last participated in 2008. "I've seen a difference from four years ago. The coaching is better, the kids are more skilled, they have a better feel for the game. It's really great for the NBA to do."While passing along some tips on life and how to play hoops, the players also learn more about themselves and the people around them. Just as importantly, they'll live out unforgettable experiences that they can share with others through the platform of professional sports."You kind of look eye-to-eye with people and you start to actually relate to them because they're mothers, fathers and they're trying to do what's best for their children," Collison said. "They just have so many obstacles and difficulties."

Sounds like Blues won’t be trading Shattenkirk

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Sounds like Blues won’t be trading Shattenkirk

So, it looks like the Bruins will have to find a puck-moving, “transitional” defenseman elsewhere as Blues D-man Kevin Shattenkirk may be off the market for a while.

Blues President of Hockey Operations and GM Doug Armstrong jumped on with the NHL Tonight crew on NHL Network Friday afternoon and was asked point blank about the trade rumors surrounding the former BU defenseman in the wake of both Troy Brouwer and David Backes bolting in free agency.

It would appear things have changed for the St. Louis bottom line and now the Blues will start the season with Shattenkirk while monitoring how the roster fares during the season.

Considering that the Blues are coming off a good, deep playoff run, it may be that Shattenkirk doesn’t get dealt at all.

“I think the Kevin Shattenkirk thing grew on a life of its own at the draft. What I’ve said internally here is that we’re excited to have Kevin Shattenkirk as a part of our team. In the NHL now you see all the players hitting free agency and moving to [different] teams,” said Armstrong to the NHL Tonight crew. 

“Our goal is to try and get Kevin signed if we can, or start the year and him a good. We started last year with Troy Brouwer and David Backes in the same situation, we had 107 or 108 points and made it to the semifinals. I think if you’re always trying to trade players as they enter the last year of their contracts, I don’t know that you’re ever going to have a really good team if you’re running away from free agency. Free agency is part of our game, and you make those free agent decisions. 

“If you get to a part of the year and you have guys that are unrestricted and your team is no good, then you make those decisions. But if you have a good team and you have guys that are unrestricted, you just play it out.”

So, where do the Bruins turn after it was clear the Blues weren’t that interested in trading Shattenkirk by asking for both first-round picks and David Pastrnak at last weekend’s NHL draft? 

With Patrice Bergeron, David Krejci and David Backes all signed to big contracts, perhaps the Bruins explore dealing Krejci for another one of the available transition D-man on the market. Anaheim’s Cam Fowler comes to mind immediately, and Colorado’s Tyson Barrie is another player that could certainly help the Black and Gold if they’re looking to trade up for a high-caliber, top-four puck-moving type.

Still, it sure doesn’t sound like it will be Shattenkirk, 27, who will be looking for an deal in the neighborhood of seven years, $49 million from whatever team signs him to his next contract. 

OFFSEASON

O.J. Mayo hit with two-year ban from NBA for drug violation

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O.J. Mayo hit with two-year ban from NBA for drug violation

NEW YORK  — O.J. Mayo has been dismissed and disqualified from the NBA for violating the terms of the league’s anti-drug program.

The NBA said Friday the No. 3 overall pick in the 2008 draft out of USC is eligible to apply for reinstatement in two years.

Mayo spent the past three seasons with the Milwaukee Bucks. He averaged 7.8 points in 41 games last season, including 24 starts.

According to rules of the NBA/NBPA Anti-Drug Program, information regarding the testing or treatment of a player can’t be disclosed by the league, his team or the union.

© 2016 by Associated Press

Here’s the official release from the NBA: 

NEW YORK, July 1, 2016 – The NBA announced today that free agent O.J. Mayo has been dismissed and disqualified from the league for violating the terms of the NBA/NBPA Anti-Drug Program.

Under the Anti-Drug Program, Mayo is eligible to apply for reinstatement in two years.

The NBA, NBA teams, and the Players Association are prohibited from publicly disclosing information regarding the testing or treatment of any NBA player under the Anti-Drug Program, other than to announce a player's suspension or dismissal from the league.