Tar Heel Pros News & Notes

IC's weekly update on former UNC hoopsters.


* Michael Jordan has just completed a tour of four Asian cities -- Beijing, Hong Kong, Taipei and Tokyo -- to promote his Jordan Brand line of clothing and basketball shoes.

While Jordan was in Beijing, China last week, the Xinhua News Agency reported he stated his next goal in basketball is to become a franchise owner. "I don't have the patience for coaching," Jordan added.

An outdoor ceremony to meet fans and media in Beijing was cancelled for "security reasons" when the crowd began to get out of control as some tore down advertising banners and climbed on top of fences for a better view of the basketball legend.

Jordan concluded his trip yesterday by taking part in a ribbon-cutting ceremony for the opening and dedication of a basketball facility called "Jordan Court" in downtown Tokyo, Japan.


* According to an interview of Ed Cota by a Lithuanian basketball website (krepsinis.net), Cota has made plans to play for the Detroit Pistons in NBA summer league competition.

Krepsinis.net also quoted Cota to say that if he is not in the NBA next season he is very likely to return for a third season with Zalgiris Kaunas in Lithuania.

The Pistons are scheduled to play in a summer league hosted by the Minnesota Timberwolves from July 6 through July 10. The six-team field also includes the Bucks, the Raptors, the Sixers and the expansion Charlotte Bobcats.


* The Pistons could not overcome a late three-point dagger by Reggie Miller on Saturday as the Pacers took Game 1 of the Eastern Conference Finals 78-74. Rasheed Wallace, hampered by a sore left heel (plantar fasciitis), shot poorly (1-7 FG, 0-3 3-pt. FG), scored four points and took down seven boards in the series opener.

Following the tough loss Wallace stated, "They will not win Game 2. You can quote me on the front page, on the back page, anywhere you want. They will not win Game 2." Consider it done. Game 2 is tonight on ESPN.

* The Lakers dropped Game 2 of the Western Conference Finals last night to Minnesota 89-71. That followed the Lakers 97-88 victory on Friday to open the series leaving it tied 1-1. Rick Fox played five minutes and grabbed two rebounds in Game 1. Fox logged only one minute off the bench in Game 2. Game 3 is on Tuesday in Los Angeles on TNT.

As noted in the Boston Globe on Sunday, Fox has gone without a haircut since last May when he had surgery on his foot. According to the Globe, Fox is now challenging Boston Red Sox outfielder Johnny Damon for the longest locks in the sports world.


* In the Italian League playoff quarterfinals, Ademola Okulaja scored 21 points (9-12 FG, 2-3 3-pt. FG) and grabbed eight rebounds as Benetton Treviso demolished Cantu 97-60 last week to take the series 3-0. Okulaja averaged 27.3 minutes, 16.7 points and 6.7 rebounds for Treviso during the series. The semifinals start on Tuesday against Skipper Bologna featuring A.J. Guyton (Indiana), Hanno Mottola (Utah), Erazem Lorbek (Michigan State) and Carlos Delfino (Pistons 1st-round draftee '03).

"I am having a lot of fun playing here with great athletes that understand the game of basketball," Okulaja posted at his website -- www.okulaja.com -- following the sweep of Cantu.

* The loss by Cantu brought Dante Calabria's season to an end. Calabria played 34 games and averaged 14.1 points, 3.1 rebounds and 1.3 assists. Calabria ranked fourth in the Italian League in Free Throw Shooting at 91.7 percent (88-96) and 27th in 3-point FG Accuracy at 39.8 percent (86-216).

There is talk in Italy that Calabria might be added as a shooting guard to the Italian national team that will play in the Olympic Games in Athens, Greece this summer. Calabria has Italian citizenship and has previously played for Italy's national team.


* The 2004 WNBA season is underway with three former Tar Heels on opening-day rosters. Nikki Teasley is back as the starting point guard for the Los Angeles Sparks (0-1), Charlotte Smith-Taylor is the starter at power forward for the Charlotte Sting (1-1) and Coretta Brown is a backcourt reserve for the Indiana Fever (1-0).

Juana Brown was released during training camp by the San Antonio Silver Stars. Candace Sutton was waived by the Los Angeles Sparks.

LaQuanda (Barksdale) Quick is pregnant and will not be playing in the WNBA this season. Kris Davis of the San Antonio Silver Stars informed Inside Carolina that San Antonio holds the WNBA rights to Quick because they made her a qualifying offer prior to her pregnancy. "If she decides to come back next year we would be the first team allowed to make her an offer," said Davis (Media Services Manager) via e-mail.

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