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There is one approach that has not yet been tried with North Korea. Where sanctions, shows of strength and pressure from Beijing have failed to cut much ice with the regime, Dennis Rodman, the maverick basketball player turned maverick diplomat, is going another route. “I’m calling on the Supreme Leader of North Korea, or as I call him ‘Kim’, to do me a solid and cut Kenneth Bae loose,” he tweeted.
Bae is the American citizen who has just been sentenced by a Korean court to 15 years’ hard labour for allegedly “attempting to overthrow the government”. At the time of writing, he remains in prison.
Yet there can clearly be no doubt about the depth of the rapport between Kim Jong-un and Rodman. A couple of months ago, the two men met in Pyongyang, hugged, watched basketball together and became what Rodman called afterwards “friends for life”. It may be instead that Kim is puzzling over the meaning of “do me a solid”, which would even stretch some people who speak English.
The phrase appears to have its origins in America in the 1980s, with “a solid” being any fairly demanding favour that one (usually male) friend might do as a mark of friendship for another, such as buying a crate of beer, lying to a girlfriend or releasing a political prisoner. In 1991 it was used by Kramer in an early episode of Seinfeld, which Kim – being North Korean and only seven or eight years old at the time – may have missed. (The episode also contains a reference to the Korean war, which may besome subtler part of Rodman’s plan.)
Since then, “do me a solid” has had time to go right out of fashion and now come a little way back in again, with an ironic tinge. It was spoken, according to the Urban Dictionary, in the movies Derailed (2005) and Juno (2007). A 2011 episode of the animated series The Regular Show was even dedicated to the sacred exchange of “solids”.
Which raises the question: Is Rodman ready to do a solid in return for Kim Jong-un? What kind of solid might the leader of an embattled nuclear state request from an American citizen? If Rodman gets his wish, the CIA may want to look into that.
Gilbert Arenas is on his way to join Tracy McGrady in China, according to sources close to the former All-Star.
Sources on Monday confirmed a Yahoo! Sports report that Arenas is on the verge of signing a one-year deal with the Guangdong Southern Tigers. Earlier this month, after a similar struggle to secure a guaranteed contract in the NBA, McGrady agreed to join the Qingdao Eagles.
ESPN.com reported late last month that Arenas had begun to assess his options in China for this season because he could not secure a guaranteed contract in the NBA.
The NBA has announced a new policy for flopping. The league defines flopping as “any physical act that appears to have been intended to cause the referees to call a foul on another player.”
Players will be given a warning for their first offense, followed by a $5k fine for their second offense, $10k for their third, $15k for their fourth and $30k for their fifth fine.
For violations after the fifth incident, players can receive an increase fine and/or suspension.
Kobe Bryant released the following statement on his Facebook page in response to the Lakers’ trade of Andrew Bynum for Dwight Howard.
“Well, it looks like Superman has found a home,” wrote Bryant. “I wish nothing but the best for Big Bynum. I hope he follows what was a great season last year with an even better one next year. I know LA is excited about the deal and rightfully so. The Lakers landed a piece that will hopefully carry the franchise long after I’m gone. I have spoken to Dwight Howard already and we are locked and loaded to bring back the title. Wow, what a summer Jimmy and Mitch have had so far. Unreal! I’m focused on our semifinal game vs Argentina but I had to pause for a few to send you my thoughts, in case you were curious..”
Raymond Felton getting in the best shape of his life.
Kidd avoiding light poles.
JR continuing to defend and knowing when to pull the trigger (and when NOT to).
Shump getting healthy.
Melo learning to share the ball, consistently defend and rebound, and sticking that pull-up jumper every time.
Novak getting enough space to nail three after three after three.
White surprising us.
Amar’e developing some low post moves, hitting that jumper, and regaining his bounce.
Chandler just being Chandler, with an extra low post move here and there.
Camby just being Camby.
Thomas leading from the bench.
The Knicks nabbing another big man who can contribute and another shooter!
If you would like to connect with Kirk, you can find him on Twitter – @mcmurrak
The Brooklyn Nets and Hawks are engaged in ongoing talks on a multiplayer deal that would send several expiring contracts to the Atlanta for All-Star guard Joe Johnson, according to sources.
But sources told ESPN.com that the Nets fear that they will be surrendering too much financial flexibility in the trade as currently structured, which has placed the deal in jeopardy.
Another big stumbling block, sources said, is Atlanta’s insistence that Brooklyn include promising Nets guard MarShon Brooks in the trade.
Chicago will make a run at Steve Nash and Jason Kidd in free agency, according to a source.
C.J. Watson filled in admirably in place of an injured Derrick Rose in the postseason, but the Bulls are expected to look to upgrade at point guard during Rose’s absence.
Rose is walking with a soft brace after undergoing surgery to repair a torn left ACL and is hoping to return by next season’s All-Star break.
Chicago Bulls center Joakim Noah is “most likely out” of Game 5 on Tuesday night because of a sprained left ankle, according to head coach Tom Thibodeau.
“He’s a little better,” Thibodeau said after Monday’s practice. “He’ll be a game-time [decision], most likely out.”
Noah sprained his ankle badly in Game 3 on Friday night after stepping on the foot of Philadelphia 76ers guard Andre Iguodala midway through the third quarter.
Baron Davis has a torn ACL and MCL, as well as a partial tear of his patellar tendon.
Davis will undergo surgery within the next few days and his expected recovery time is 12 months.
Davis had assumed the starting point guard duties for the Knicks due to the injury to Jeremy Lin.
New York expected to re-sign Davis at the veteran minimum next season. The team will now need to pursue a backup point guard during the offseason