Tandem Signs NBA’s Adonis Thomas For Representation

August/12/2016

NEWS RELEASE

Tandem Signs NBA’s Adonis Thomas For Full-Service Representation

Arlington, VA, August 12, 2016 Tandem Sports + Entertainment has signed Adonis Thomas for full-service representation, Tandem President Jim Tanner announced. Tandem will oversee Thomas’s basketball career, contractual agreements, personal appearances, public relations services, corporate partnerships, community relations initiatives and business opportunities.

“Adonis is a great addition to Tandem’s roster of clients,” Tanner said. “He brings the same determination and diligence we value at Tandem and we’re excited to help advance his professional ambitions.”

Thomas declared for the NBA Draft in 2013 and has played for the Orlando Magic and the Philadelphia 76ers. He has also played in the NBA’s Developmental League. Thomas earned NBA D-League All-Rookie First Team honors in 2013-14 and was a NBA D-League All Star in 2015, finishing the season averaging 18.9 points and 4.9 rebounds per game.

Prior to the NBA, Thomas played two years for the University of Memphis. He earned third-team All-Conference USA honors his sophomore season. Thomas grew up playing in Memphis, TN where he was a McDonald’s All-American and First-team Parade All-American.

About Tandem Sports + Entertainment

Tandem’s roster of clients includes Tim Duncan, Jeremy Lin, Grant Hill, Ray Allen, John Henson, Wayne Ellington, Brandan Wright, Thaddeus Young, Marvin Williams, Zaza Pachulia, Gerald Henderson, Raymond Felton, C. J. Watson, Dominique Wilkins and Tamika Catchings. Marketing and public relations clients include World Series champion pitcher Chris Young, and two-time Olympic gold medalist LaShawn Merritt.  Public relations clients include Charles Johnson Foundation and author Jon Pessah (“THE GAME: Inside the Secret World of Major League Baseball’s Power Brokers”).

Contact:

Meredith Geisler

Tandem Sports & Entertainment, LLC

(703) 740-5015

mgeisler@tandemse.com

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BY Tandem Sports + Entertainment / PUBLISHED August/12/2016 / Tandem Sports + Entertainment

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Olympic Runner LaShawn Merritt Aims to Break World Record

July/28/2016

Sprinter LaShawn Merritt won gold at the 2008 Olympics, taking home the top honors in the 400 and 4×400 relay. He was a favorite to win again in 2012, but injured his hamstring two weeks before the track and field events at the London Games. As a result, he didn’t qualify for the 400m final, forced out after just one round.

But Merritt is poised to make a comeback this year at the Rio Games. At the U.S. Olympic Track and Field Trials on Sunday, he qualified for the big games, claiming a first-place victory in the men’s 400 with a 43.97-second time. That’s a whole 0.76 seconds ahead of second-place finisher Gil Roberts.

“I train 24 hours a day,” the 30-year-old told reporters, including PEOPLE, at the media summit in Los Angeles. “Training isn’t just physical out on the track. I’m on the track maybe two hours, I’m in the gym maybe an hour and a half, but mentally, I’m always locked in. It’s all day.”

“Rest is training,” Merritt continued. “You can’t keep wearing your body out without repairing it through rest. So I understand the power in rest and I sleep a lot anyways. Rest, recovery and work hard.”

On the track, the runner has been training with 82-year-old coach Brooks Johnson, who Merritt said brings “a lot of wisdom” to the process. “He’s really passionate about the sport,” he explained.

Johnson has also been riding Merritt on his diet. “My coach is always talking about going to the grocery store and getting the colors of the rainbow,” Merritt detailed. “So I eat a lot of fruit, I eat a lot of fish, vegetables, just the basic normal stuff most athletes eat to fuel their body.”

That doesn’t mean Merritt doesn’t have his cheat days – though he makes sure to indulge in moderation. “I love fresh-baked chocolate chip cookies. A guilty pleasure, I guess,” he admitted. “It’s all about self-discipline. I can eat them every day if I wanted to, but for me it’s just the taste of it. Once a week, maybe, I might just throw three in the oven. And the three is just so I can get that taste of it – right before I go to bed, too. That may not be the best thing, but I burn enough energy that three cookies won’t hurt me.”

While he’s focused on his Olympic glory, Merritt is also thinking of victory beyond the Rio Games – mainly, nabbing a world record. “I’ve been on top of the sport for a long time,” he said. “This is my tenth year as a professional. I’ve won some gold medals, I’ve had the undefeated season – but I haven’t got that world record yet. So that’s what we’re aiming towards these next couple of years.”

Merritt called his family, who live in his hometown of Portsmouth, Virginia, a “big support system.” While they can’t always make it to meets, he knows they’re always watching – especially his mom.

“Growing up, my mom did a lot for me, even to this day. She was always the one that would tell me, in any sport that I played, to go out and have fun. She’d always say that, ‘Just go have fun.’ So I’m having fun and living the dream.”

And when things get tough, he reminds himself of his older brother, who passed away in 1999.

“[He's] not here to do anything,” he said. “So I make the best out of every day and I’m always about forward movement. Things happen, you move forward, you enjoy life and maximize opportunities that you have.”

“My family keeps me humble. That’s where I get my sense of peace,” he said.

BY Dave Quinn / PUBLISHED July/28/2016 / People Magazine

http://www.people.com/people/package/article/0,,20996464_21016948,00.html
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Tandem Signs NBA’s Shane Larkin For Representation

NEWS RELEASE 

Tandem Signs NBA’s Shane Larkin For Full-Service Representation

Arlington, VA, July 28, 2016 Tandem Sports + Entertainment has signed Shane Larkin for full-service representation, Tandem President Jim Tanner announced. Tandem will oversee Larkin’s basketball career, contractual agreements, personal appearances, public relations services, corporate partnerships, community relations initiatives and business opportunities.

“We are thrilled to have Shane join Tandem,” Tanner said. “He’s a very passionate player and hard worker who fits in with our agency’s culture. He’s improved in each of his first three NBA seasons, and we look forward to helping Shane achieve his professional goals, on and off the court.’’

Larkin was selected 18th overall by the Atlanta Hawks in the 2013 NBA Draft before being traded to the Dallas Mavericks. He spent his first three NBA season with the Mavericks, the Knicks and most recently, the Nets. Last season, he averaged 7.3 points and 4.4 assists for the Nets, the most productive season of his career so far.

Prior to the NBA, Larkin attended the University of Miami for two years where he was awarded the 2013 ACC Player of the Year by coaches, as well as honored with the 2013 Lute Olson Award. Larkin grew up in Orlando, FL and is the son of 12x MLB All-Star and Hall of Famer Barry Larkin.

About Tandem Sports + Entertainment

Tandem’s roster of clients includes Tim Duncan, Jeremy Lin, Grant Hill, Ray Allen, John Henson, Wayne Ellington, Brandan Wright, Thaddeus Young, Marvin Williams, Zaza Pachulia, Gerald Henderson, Raymond Felton, C. J. Watson, Dominique Wilkins and Tamika Catchings. Marketing and public relations clients include World Series champion pitcher Chris Young, and two-time Olympic gold medalist LaShawn Merritt.  Public relations clients include Charles Johnson Foundation and author Jon Pessah (“THE GAME: Inside the Secret World of Major League Baseball’s Power Brokers”).

Contact:        

Meredith Geisler

Tandem Sports & Entertainment, LLC

(703) 740-5015

mgeisler@tandemse.com

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BY Tandem Sports + Entertainment / PUBLISHED July/28/2016 / Tandem Sports + Entertainment

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A Career Transition, Inspired by One of NFL’s Best

July/24/2016

My role model for forceful endings was Jim Brown.

Brown was 29 years old in July 1966 when he stunned the nation by announcing his retirement from the Cleveland Browns.

I was a Cleveland Browns fan.

My high school coach, Sherman Howard, had played for the Browns, my favorite receiver was Paul Warfield and I’d learned how to run a post pattern by studying Gary Collins.

And of course, there was the great Jim Brown.

When the Browns opened camp in 1966, Brown was among the missing. He was in London, filming “The Dirty Dozen.” Shooting had been delayed because of weather, but the Browns’ owner, Art Modell, didn’t care. He wanted his star running back in training camp and made his dissatisfaction public. Modell threatened to fine Brown $100 a day if he did not show up for training camp. (Mike Freeman, in his biography “Jim Brown: The Fierce Life of an American Hero,” put the figure as high as $1,500.)

Brown responded to Modell by holding a formal news conference on the movie set and announcing his retirement from football.

Perfect. And stunning.

What impressed me about Brown, especially when I was 15, was the self-confidence he must have possessed. He was leaving a team with which he had been identified for nine seasons. He was leaving a game he loved to pursue other opportunities.

I thought about Brown last week when I decided that Monday would be my final day at The New York Times, and that this would be my final Sports of The Times offering as a full-time columnist at the paper.

Our situations are different in that there was no confrontation, no pressure for me to leave — or stay.

After nearly 35 years at The Times and 26 consecutive years writing the Sports of The Times column, I simply decided, as Brown did 50 years ago, that this has got to end at some point. I took control of the narrative, as he had.

“I wanted to definitely retire on top,” Brown said. “I wanted to go out on top, on my terms.”

I spoke with Brown on Saturday to let him know I was leaving. I also wondered how he felt 50 years ago when he walked away.

“I never wanted to be a nuisance, or to be half of my abilities or making excuses for my decline,” he said. “I never wanted to have that be part of my life.

“The last thing I wanted anybody to see was me not being able to shift gears and get the speed I had, and the quickness or the power.”

I understood the idea of wanting to go out on top and all of that. But what intrigued me about Brown was the way he left and the underlying reasons for leaving as he did.

Brown had been the league’s most valuable player in 1965. He had led Cleveland to a second N.F.L. title game and was already regarded as the greatest running back — no, one of the greatest football players — ever.

Yet Modell called Brown out. He was making a power play to assert his control, to put his star fullback, who was gaining fame as an actor, in his place.

Modell saw himself as a liberal and would always remind Brown that he gave more to the N.A.A.C.P. than Brown probably did.

“That plantation type of attitude, I hated that,” Brown said. “I was fortunate to have enough talent that allowed me to have an attitude that they would accept.

“They had to decide whether they wanted to use the talent or whether they wanted to teach me a lesson. They decided to use the talent and let me just look like a guy who was never smiling and always grumpy.”

Brown was the first in a succession of highly visible black athletes who helped shape my attitude toward power and the need to challenge and resist authority.

In 1967, Muhammad Ali refused to be drafted. In 1968, Tommie Smith and John Carlos celebrated winning gold and bronze medals at the 1968 Mexico City Games with a silent protest on the victory stand. In 1969, Curt Flood took on Major League Baseball by refusing a trade. In 1970, Oscar Robertson filed a class-action suit against the N.B.A.

Brown’s retirement stands out because he defied a wealthy white owner who insisted on controlling the narrative.

Players always say that what they miss most about the game when they leave are their teammates.

I have certainly savored my relationships with my co-workers, conversations with editors about column ideas and their execution, and press box interactions with colleagues from across the country and throughout the world.

What I have appreciated more than anything has been the interaction with readers. Times readers in particular are sophisticated, insightful, critical and curious. I’m grateful to all who over the years have taken time to read, respond and, of course, critique.

When I spoke to Brown about our respective decisions to move on — his in 1966, mine in 2016, he pointed out a critical difference.

“You still have your mind, and it’s as sharp as ever and for the next 10 years it might be the same way,” he said. Brown said he knew that had he continued playing, “it was only a matter of time before the physicality of the game would have caught up with me.”

“If I had the chance to play football and just use my mind, I might be trying to play now,” he said.

In July 1966, the sense I got from Brown as he announced his retirement was that he was merely moving from one stage to another. And he was. Brown would become an actor, an activist and an author.

So it is with me.

There are more games to play.

Rather than say goodbye, let me simply say: “To be continued.”

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Alana Beard to Host Swim Safety Event in Hometown

July/20/2016

NEWS RELEASE

WNBA Star and Louisiana Native Alana Beard to Host Swim Safety Event in Hometown Shreveport, LA

The event is scheduled for July 25-28 with support from the YMCA, USA Swimming Foundation and the American Red Cross.

Shreveport, LA, July 20, 2016 – WNBA star and Louisiana native Alana Beard will host a four-day educational swim safety event at the YMCA of Northwest Louisiana on July 25-28. Beard will participate in the swim program with children 7-12 years old. The event will also include an out of water safety demonstration from the Shreveport Fire Department.

“Swimming and water safety are important skills every kid should know, and unfortunately they are often ignored,” Beard said. “I realize I have a lot to learn and I am beyond excited to learn with the kids to show them that learning water skills is important at all ages.  Anything I can do to help prevent a tragedy in this community, and all communities, is important to me. We must understand it is never too late to learn and I hope that families will be inspired to help their children acquire the skills to safely enjoy swimming and water sports.”

A member of the WNBA’s LA Sparks, Beard wants to use her position as a professional athlete to show the community that water safety is important, regardless of your age or athleticism. A tragedy in 2010 where six teens drowned in Shreveport’s Red River sparked Beard’s passion for water safety. From that point on, she has wanted to host an event emphasizing its importance.

The event has been planned with the support and guidance of the YMCA of Northwest Louisiana, USA Swimming Foundation and the American Red Cross. All of the organizations provided input and helped identify the most effective way for Beard to make a difference in this community. After this event, Beard plans to participate in USA Swimming Foundation’s Make a Splash initiative, a national child-focused water safety campaign, which aims to provide the opportunity for every child in America to learn to swim. Through Make a Splash, the USA Swimming Foundation partners with learn-to-swim providers and water safety advocates across the country and has given over $4 million in grants to provide 4 million children swimming lessons.

For information on the partner organizations, visit:

For media requests around the event in Shreveport, LA, please contact Meredith Geisler at mgeisler@tandemse.com or (703) 740-5015, or Gary Lash at glash@ymcanwla.org or (318) 470-6351.

ABOUT THE AMERICAN RED CROSS:

It is the mission of the Red Cross to prevent, prepare for and respond to emergencies. Today, the Red Cross Swimming and Water Safety program helps fulfill that mission by teaching people to be safe in, on and around the water through water safety courses, water-orientation classes for infants and toddlers and comprehensive Learn-to-Swim courses for individuals of different ages and abilities. The American Red Cross has been the gold standard in lifesaving, water safety and swimming instruction since 1914. The Red Cross and its partners train about two million people a year in swimming and water safety.

ABOUT USA SWIMMING FOUNDATION:

The USA Swimming Foundation serves as the philanthropic arm of USA Swimming.  Established in 2004, the Foundation works to strengthen the sport by saving lives and building champions— in the pool and in life. Whether we’re equipping our children with the life-saving skill of learn-to-swim through our Make a Splash initiative, or providing financial support to our heroes on the U.S. National Team, the USA Swimming Foundation aims to provide the wonderful experience of swimming to kids at all levels across the country. To learn more, visit www.usaswimmingfoundation.org.

ABOUT YMCA OF NORTHWEST LOUISIANA:

We know that lasting personal and social change comes about when we all work together. At the YMCA of Northwest Louisiana strengthening community is our cause.  Every day, we work side-by-side with our neighbors to make sure that everyone, regardless of age, income or background, has the opportunity to learn, grow and thrive. Our mission is to put Christian principles into practice through programs that build healthy spirit, mind and body for all.

ABOUT TANDEM SPORTS + ENTERTAINMENT:

In addition to Alana Beard, Tandem’s roster of clients includes Tim Duncan, Jeremy Lin, Grant Hill, Ray Allen, John Henson, Brandan Wright, Thaddeus Young, Marvin Williams, Zaza Pachulia, Gerald Henderson, Raymond Felton, C. J. Watson, Dominique Wilkins and Tamika Catchings. Marketing and public relations clients include World Series champion pitcher Chris Young, and two-time Olympic gold medalist LaShawn Merritt.  Public relations clients include Charles Johnson Foundation, and author Jon Pessah (“THE GAME: Inside the Secret World of Major League Baseball’s Power Brokers”).

 

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BY Tandem Sports + Entertainment / PUBLISHED July/20/2016 / Tandem Sports + Entertainment

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T’Wolves about to hit it big in China?

July/15/2016

Lizhang Jiang went from sports journalist to upstart sports marketer to founder and president of Desports, one of China’s most powerful sports marketing firms, in 12 years.

Last month, Lizhang purchased a 5% stake in theMinnesota Timberwolves, becoming the first Chinese citizen to own part of an NBA team. He met with Timberwolves owner Glen Taylor, NBA executives and other league owners and executives in Las Vegas this week.

In an interview, the 35-year-old Lizhang told USA TODAY Sports through an interpreter that being a part-owner of an NBA team is a “dream come true.”

“I am a passionate basketball fan, and after many years, I have grown from a fan into a shareholder,” he said. “It is really exciting.”

Why the Timberwolves?

“The first reason why I choose the Timberwolves is because the Timberwolves have been quite popular in China already thanks to when the team was led by Kevin Garnett,” Lizhang said. “The team has already gathered a huge number of fans in China. The team has demonstrated the spirit of a wolf, which is everything about teamwork, persistence and acumen. These qualities are in line with the Chinese culture.”

Lizhang, who also recently purchased a 98% stake in Spanish soccer club Granada, was introduced to Taylor through mutual connections.

“The other reason I wanted to choose the Minnesota Timberwolves is also because of Mr. Glen Taylor, who is such a charming person,” Lizhang said. “He has strong charisma and business acumen. These are very attractive qualities. He is also the chairman of the NBA (board of governors). There is a lot for me to learn from him.”

The NBA has strong traction in China, and Lizhang believes his involvement can help increase the Timberwolves’ popularity and business growth in Asia.

“I’ve been working in sports marketing for the last decade so I know very well about the Chinese market and the global market,” he said. “I’ve gained a lot of experience and resources in that regard. The NBA has done great in going global. The NBA China has achieved great success already.

“In order to become more international in the future, we need to be bolder and more creative. I would like to apply my expertise and knowledge of the Chinese and global markets to help the Timberwolves and the NBA become more successful and popular in China.”

Lizhang said he was working as a sports journalist in 2004 when soccer star Luis Figo of Portugal wanted an endorsement deal. Lizhang helped facilitate a deal between Figo and Seven Brand, a clothing company in China.

Lizhang then formed Double-Edged Sports, which is now called Desports, a multi-faceted sports marketing firm involved in sponsorships and endorsements, event marketing and operations, public relations, technology and media          .

Based in Shanghai, Desports brokered a sponsorship deal between 361 Degrees, a Chinese sports apparel company, and the 2016 Rio Olympics.

Lizhang, who grew up in fishing village in Fujian Province on China’s southeast coast, became a fan of the NBA during the Chicago Bulls’ championship runs in the mid-1990s. For now, he is not thinking about one day becoming a majority owner of an NBA team.

“Right now, my priority is to focus on the job we are doing now, and I look would to focus on how to help the team grow with my expertise and knowledge,” he said. “Only when we have done good work can we think about the future. Once you have done well with what you’re doing now, the rest will come along naturally.”

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Tim Duncan Announces Retirement

July/11/2016

SAN ANTONIO (July 11, 2016) – San Antonio Spurs forward Tim Duncan today announced that he will retire after 19 seasons with the organization. Since drafting Duncan, the Spurs won five championships and posted a 1,072-438 regular season record, giving the team a .710 winning percentage, which is the best 19-year stretch in NBA history and was the best in all of the NBA, NFL, NHL and MLB over the last 19 years.

Originally selected by the Spurs as the first overall pick in the 1997 NBA Draft, Duncan helped San Antonio reach the playoffs in each of his 19 seasons and became the only player in league history to start and win a title in three different decades. The Silver and Black won at least 50 games the last 17 seasons, the longest streak in league history, and posted at least a .600 winning percentage in each of Duncan’s 19 seasons, an all-time record for most consecutive seasons with a .600 win percentage in the four major U.S. sports.

The 40-year-old Duncan comes off of a season in which he led the NBA in Defensive RPM (5.41) and became just the third player in league history to reach 1,000 career wins, as well as the only player to reach 1,000 wins with one team. He helped the Spurs to a franchise-best 67-15 record and also became one of two players in NBA history to record at least 26,000 points, 15,000 rebounds and 3,000 blocks in his career (Kareem Abdul-Jabbar).

Duncan totaled 15 All-NBA Team selections (tied for most all-time) and 15 NBA All-Defensive Team honors (most all-time), garnering both honors in the same season 15 times, the most in league history. The 1998 Rookie of the Year was named NBA MVP twice (2002, 2003) and NBA Finals MVP three times (1999, 2003 and 2005).

In his NBA career, the 15-time All-Star appeared in a total of 1,392 games and averaged 19.0 points, 10.8 rebounds, 3.0 assists and 2.17 blocks in 34.0 minutes. He shot .506 (10,285-20,334) from the floor and .696 (5,896-8,468) from the free throw line.

The Wake Forest graduate is the Spurs all-time NBA leader in total points (26,496), rebounds (15,091), blocked shots (3,020), minutes (47,368) and games played (1,392), as well as third in assists (4,225). In NBA history, Duncan is fifth all-time in double-doubles (841) and blocks, sixth in rebounding and 14th in scoring.

As the only player in NBA history to play over 9,000 career minutes in the playoffs, Duncan ranks first all-time in postseason double-doubles (164) and blocks (568), third in rebounds (2,859) and sixth in points (5,172). For his career, Duncan appeared in 251 postseason contests (second all-time) and averaged 20.6 points, 11.4 rebounds and 3.0 assists in 37.3 minutes while shooting .501 (1,975-3,939) from the field.

Along with teammates Tony Parker and Manu Ginobili, Duncan is part of the NBA record for most wins by a trio in both the regular season (575) and postseason (126). Duncan and Gregg Popovich have the most wins by a player-coach duo in NBA history (1,001) and the Spurs forward finishes his career in San Antonio as one of just three players in NBA history, along with John Stockton and Kobe Bryant, to spend 19 seasons with one franchise.

BY San Antonio Spurs / PUBLISHED July/11/2016 / NBA.com

http://www.nba.com/spurs/tim-duncan-announces-retirement/
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LaShawn Merritt Doubles Olympic Fun with Two Events

July/10/2016

EUGENE, Ore. –The 200-meter is where Justin Gatlin and LaShawn Merritt meet in the middle of two very different doubles at the Rio 2016 Olympic Games.

“I remember in the semis LaShawn came up to me and said, ‘Yeah, this is pretty fun. This is only half of my real race,’” Gatlin said. “I said, ‘Thanks, LaShawn.’”

Gatlin became the first athlete at the U.S. Olympic Team Trials for Track and Field to win two events, capturing the 200-meter to go along with his 100-meter title. Gatlin ran 19.75 seconds Saturday to edge Merritt, the 400-meter champion, who ran 19.79.

Ameer Webb was third in 20.00.

Both Gatlin and Merritt made their third Olympic teams. Gatlin won the gold at the 2004 Olympic Games in the 100 and the bronze in the 200. In London four years ago, he won the bronze in the 100.

Merritt is the 400-meter champion from the Beijing 2008 Olympic Games.

Noah Lyles set the national high school record with a time of 20.09 for fourth place while fellow high-schooler Michael Norman was fifth at 20.14. Tyson Gay, the former world champion, was sixth at 20.38.

Merritt still has the world-leading time of 19.74 seconds, which he set in the semifinals. He came into the meet with a world-leading 19.78 in an early-season meet in the Bahamas. Gatlin moved ahead of Webb into second place, giving Team USA the top three performers on the world list.

Merritt also set the world-leading time in the 400 of 43.97 seconds on July 3, the same day Gatlin ran a world-leading 9.80 in the 100.

Gatlin was part of the last U.S. sweep in the men’s 200: At the Athens 2004 Olympic Games, Shawn Crawford won the gold, Bernard Williams the silver and Gatlin the bronze.

“This was a weird-feeling 200,” Gatlin said. “You had guys who dropped down from the 400 to come down here and stumble into the 200, then you’ve got these high school phenoms coming up and Ameer Webb in a breakout year. You didn’t know how to take it – the only way was to make sure you stay focused in yourself and go out and run the best race you can run.”

Gatlin was in Lane 8 – a result of losing to Norman in the semifinals – which meant he couldn’t see any of his competitors around the curve.

“I was like this is what it’s like getting beat by a high schooler,” he said.

Gatlin treated the race like a glorified time trial.

“I just ran, basically, for my life,” he said. “I felt LaShawn’s long legs coming on the homestretch and felt him on the last 40-50 meters. I had a flashback to 2015, ‘Oh man, keep your composure, stay with it and dive at the right time.’”

At the 2015 world championships in Beijing, Gatlin was leading the 100 when Jamaica’s Usain Bolt came alongside him. Gatlin broke down and Bolt won the race.

“It felt good to be able to relive that moment and do the right things,” Gatlin said.

He and Merritt have known each other since high school. “It’s an honor to race against him in the 200,” Gatlin said. “In the Bahamas in 2013, he beat me, and I said, ‘Aw man, I gotta get him back,’ but it’s good. I had a great time running today.”

Merritt said his semifinal felt smoother, but after all, he’s still learning the mechanics of the race.

“It’s still a little foreign to me,” he said,” but I have some speed and I have some endurance. I have to figure out some things if I really want to be a contender.”

Merritt said he runs some 200s every year at the start of the season, but his main focus in Rio is the 400 – “to go in and do what I do and what I love, which is the 400.”

Merritt had three days between the final of the 400 and the start of the 200 at the trials, but in Rio, there is only one day in between – a schedule which is still better than the one Allyson Felix will face as she attempts the same double. Felix, who has already qualified for the 400, will run the final of the 200 on Sunday.

Merritt and his coach will adjust his training to accommodate the shorter event, but he said it will also help him in the full lap race. Merritt suffered a hamstring strain in his heat at the London 2012 Olympic Games and the U.S. had no finalists in the event.

“It teaches me how to handle the curve a little bit with that much velocity,” Merritt said. “I was happy I was able to handle it as well as I did and my body feels great. It’s definitely some good speedwork for the quarter.”

Webb was glad to outrun the young guys, who are the future of the sport with Gatlin 34 years old and Merritt 30.

“Those guys (Michael Norman and Noah Lyles) are great,” said Webb, who is 26. “I haven’t ever seen times like that from high schoolers. Coming into this, I was like, ‘Wow, I’ve got to get out on some high schoolers.’ I’m not trying to lose to high schoolers either. Basically that was it for me.”

Now they have to outrun Bolt, who was not in top form for the Jamaican Trials, but has won the last two Olympic 200-meter races and holds the world record of 19.19 seconds.

“I’ve raced him in a 200, and he’s beaten me in a 200,” Merritt said. “He’s raced me in the 400 and I beat him in Kingston one year. We’ve lined up – he’s human, everybody’s human. I look at him, well, he runs really fast in the 200.

“You take it a round at a time. The biggest thing is being able to execute a race. I’m looking forward to really figuring out how to execute a race.”

Gatlin probably hopes he doesn’t.

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Tandem Signs Chinanu Onuaku and Joel James

June/09/2016

NEWS RELEASE

Tandem Signs Louisville’s Chinanu Onuaku and North Carolina’s Joel James for Full-Service Representation

 

Arlington, VA, June 9, 2016 Tandem Sports + Entertainment signed Chinanu Onuaku from the University of Louisville and Joel James from the University of North Carolina for full-service representation for the NBA Draft and throughout their basketball careers. Tandem will handle contractual agreements, personal appearances, public relations services, corporate partnerships, community relations initiatives and business opportunities for both of the NBA Draft prospects. Derrick Powell and Jim Tanner will both represent Onuaku, and Graham Boone and Tanner will represent James.

Onuaku was honored on the ACC All-Defensive Team in the 2015-16 season, and was an honorable mention All-ACC selection after a strong season with Louisville. In 2015, he won gold with the USA U19 World Championship Team. Onuaku was named to the All-ACC Academic Men’s Basketball Team in 2015 and 2016.

“Chinanu has shown a lot of hard work and dedication as he prepares himself for the 2016 NBA Draft,” Powell said.  “We are very excited to have him as a part of the Tandem family.  We know that his future is without limit and we plan on helping him in reaching all of his future goals and endeavors.”

A member of the UNC team that reached the NCAA National Championship Title Game in 2015-16, James played at UNC for four years. He helped the Tar Heels win an ACC Tournament Championship and ACC Regular Season Title as a senior. James was honored with UNC’s Most Improved Player Award in the 2014-15 season. He graduated from Carolina this spring with a bachelor’s degree in history.

“Joel had a great career at UNC and we are excited to be working with him,” Boone said. “He took great strides in his game in the past couple of years and we believe he will continue to grow as a professional.”

ABOUT TANDEM SPORTS + ENTERTAINMENT

Tandem’s roster of clients includes Tim Duncan, Jeremy Lin, Grant Hill, Ray Allen, John Henson, Brandan Wright, Thaddeus Young, Marvin Williams, Zaza Pachulia, Gerald Henderson, Raymond Felton, C. J. Watson, Dominique Wilkins and Tamika Catchings. Marketing and public relations clients include World Series champion pitcher Chris Young, and two-time Olympic gold medalist LaShawn Merritt.  Public relations clients include Charles Johnson Foundation, authors Jon Pessah (“THE GAME: Inside the Secret World of Major League Baseball’s Power Brokers”) and Adam Lazarus (“Hail to the Redskins”).

Contact:        

Meredith Geisler

Tandem Sports & Entertainment, LLC

(703) 740-5015

mgeisler@tandemse.com

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Armed with jump shot + trim physique, Stone looks to wow NBA scouts

May/10/2016

Diamond Stone didn’t know what to expect when he traveled to the IMG Academy in Bradenton, Fla., last month to begin his post-Maryland life.

The setting on the 500-acre campus might be “lovely,” as Stone called it, yet it is far from paradise when you get past the palm trees.

In an interview with The Baltimore Sun – his first since announcing plans to turn pro following his freshman year – Stone admitted it took him a little while to get used to the basketball boot camp mentality as he prepared for his next stop, the NBA.

“At first I tried to go with the flow, but it didn’t work out,” said Stone, who was sent to the IMG Academy by his management team at Tandem Sports & Entertainment. “I kind of broke down and hit the wall. I wasn’t used to working out this much. My body adapted. I’m doing fine now.”

Stone acknowledges he didn’t work as hard as he thought during the eight months he spent in College Park. The isolated location of the IMG Academy has helped him focus.

“At Maryland there was a lot of distractions [with normal college life] and I probably wasn’t as consistent [in his workouts] as I should have been,” he said. “Right now I’m in a great environment, a smaller city, it’s not like Miami or anything like that. I have a lot of time to focus and just worry about myself.”

Stone said the training concepts at IMG are similar to what he did with Kyle Tarp, Maryland’s director of basketball performance, but the small group he works with every day — often for six or seven hours a day — gives him more repetitions. Instead of a trainer instructing 15 players at once, it’s one-on-one, and with little time off between sets.

“Here it’s rapid; it’s crazy here,” Stone said. “They try to break you down here.”

The plan is for Stone to be in optimum shape once he begins private workouts with NBA teams. Like most players expected to be drafted in the first round, Stone will attend the NBA combine starting Wednesday in Chicago only to be officially measured and start the interview process with teams interested in selecting the 6-foot-11, 260-pound teenager in the draft.

“We’re going to see how the lottery balls shake out before we start scheduling workouts,” said Tandem president Jim Tanner, who is overseeing Stone’s transition to the NBA.

Stone will briefly unite in Chicago with three of his former teammates – point guard Melo Trimble and forwards Robert Carter Jr. and Jake Layman – who are all projected as second-round picks. Unlike Stone and Carter, Trimble has yet to sign with an agent and can take his name out of the June 23 draft by May 25 in order to return to the Terps.

Though he and Carter occasionally discussed their future when they roomed together on the road, Stone said that he didn’t make his decision about turning pro until after the season ended.

Stone said he met with his parents as well as with Maryland coach Mark Turgeon a few days after the season-ending Sweet 16 loss to Kansas, a game in which Stone scored just five points and had four rebounds in 21 foul-plagued minutes. In his one season in college, Stone averaged 12.5 points, 5.4 rebounds and a team-best 1.6 blocks a game.

“My parents we talked it over, we thought it was the right decision,” Stone said. “Coach Turgeon, of course he wanted me to come back, but he said, ‘Chase your dream. I’m not going to hold you back. If this is what you want to do, I’m all for it.’”

Getting leaner

For the next few weeks, Stone is trying to get his body – and his game – ready for the NBA.

While his weight has remained about the same as it was for most of his time at Maryland, the IMG trainers have been working on Stone trimming his body fat, improving his “fast-twitch” explosiveness and working on his perimeter game so he can also play more facing the basket in the pros.

“If you saw me, I look like I’m about 240 [pounds],” Stone said. “I look way different than I did at Maryland. I just want to be stronger, faster… I’m moving more laterally. We do more power forward kind of work, I played more the 5 [center] at Maryland. At the next level I’m probably going to play more 4 [power forward] working on my jump shot and my NBA 3. Different counter moves going to the basket…It’s a work in progress.”

Most NBA scouts and general managers believe that as much as Stone showed on the offensive end at Maryland, there are still questions about his defense and attitude. Stone said that he credits Turgeon for staying on him about his defense, which improved during the season.

Though he was a good 3-point shooter at Dominican High – he made four 3-pointers in a playoff game en route to a fourth straight state title – Stone never attempted a single 3-pointer while shooting a team-best 56.8 percent from the field as a freshman at Maryland.

“That’s what I want to keep hush, I don’t want anyone to know until it’s game time,” Stone said of his 3-point shooting. “I want the defender to sag off me as far as possible. It’ll be a surprise to them.”

It’s going to be hard to keep it a secret after what Stone has shown during his workouts at the IMG Academy.

According to Dan Barto, the lead skills trainer at the IMG Academy, Stone hit eight straight NBA 3-pointers in a drill that involves backpedaling from midcourt to different spots around the perimeter and then shooting.

“I hadn’t seen a center prospect do a moving 3-point shooting drill to that level in all my time,” Barto said, adding that he has trained more than 100 players who have been drafted over the past 14 years.

Barto said Stone’s work ethic and attitude have been equally impressive given the regimen.

“It breaks a lot of people,” Barto said. “They make excuses. This kid has not complained once.”

Barto believes Stone has set himself up well to have a smooth transition to the NBA and compares Stone’s game to that of 7-foot center Nikola Vucevic, who as a 20-year-old was drafted No. 16 by the Philadelphia 76ers in 2011 and traded the follow year to the Orlando Magic. Vucevic has been the team’s leading scorer the past two seasons and its leading rebounder in each of his four seasons there.

Keeping in touch

There’s a part of college life Stone misses.

“Just hanging out with my teammates every day,” he said. “When I left, being in the group chats, I kind of miss my teammates.”

Stone has followed the publicity surrounding the “Running Man Challenge” videos posted on Twitter by former teammates Jared Nickens and Jaylen Brantley. The spots got so popular that the two Terps appeared on “The Ellen DeGeneres Show” last week.

Asked why he hasn’t been in any of the videos, Stone chuckled.

“I’m not the dancer,” he said. “I’m kind of behind the scenes, I don’t like being recorded dancing.”

The low-profile is going to change soon. Stone is one of 17 players invited to the May 17 draft lottery in New York. Though most mock drafts project him to be picked between the the high teens and low 20s, Barto expects Stone’s stock to rise once he begins private workouts with pitting him head-to-head against other center prospects.

“What I see with my eyes right now is physically so much different than what you saw this season and what you see on film,” Barto said. “If [Domantas] Sabonis and [Henry] Ellenson and [Jakob] Poeltl are not working twice as hard as he is, they’re going to really struggle to match up with him.”

For his part, Stone might just be a little too busy to pay attention to any of it.

“I just want to get drafted, to be honest with you,” he said. “Any team that drafts me, I’ll just be thankful. I’m not picky at all. It’s just a blessing to be in the situation I am.”

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