Sports: Money Talks, Big Stars Walk

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A canceled-then-reinstated trade shakes basketball before it can even start up again. Also, do Tim Tebow's victories speak as loud as his prayers? Host Scott Simon talks sports with NPR's Tom Goldman.


This is Weekend Edition from NPR News. I'm Scott Simon. Time now for sports.


SIMON: Money talks, big stars walk - fly, even, in major league baseball. A canceled, then reinstated and now reevaluated trade shakes up basketball before it can even start up again. We're joined now by NPR eminent sports correspondent Tom Goldman, reporting from State College, Pennsylvania.

Tom, thanks for being with us.

TOM GOLDMAN, BYLINE: My pleasure, Scott.

SIMON: Let's begin by following the money. The Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim, Pasadena and Cucamonga have just signed Albert Pujols for $250, $260 million over 10 years - a no trade contract. Of course, he helped the St Louis Cardinals to two world championships. One of the great players of history. But do you still sign an athlete in his 30s for ten years?

GOLDMAN: Yeah, you know, because I think a guy like Pujols probably, they figure, you know, he's good for maybe another six or seven. I think the critics are saying, wow, look at the end of that 10 year career and maybe it won't seem like such a good thing.

But I think, you know, for the next maybe half dozen years it should pay off handsomely for the Angels, as should the acquisition of C.J. Wilson, the great pitcher for Texas, who's now also an L.A. Angel. So, you know, out of nowhere, seemingly, over $300 million combining for two players.

But, you know, I should say that the Angels, really since 2004, have been one of the biggest spenders in the league. But this year was a particularly huge splash.

SIMON: Let me turn to the NBA, because there was supposed to be peace on Christmas Day, when the season is scheduled to renew. But Thursday, commissioner David Stern vetoed a three-team trade that would've sent Chris Paul to the L.A. Lakers from the New Orleans Hornets.

The NBA operates the Hornets until they can find a new owner. The commissioner said letting Chris Paul play in L.A., where he wants to, wouldn't be in the best interests of the game. Now he's pulled back on that a bit and seems to be rethinking a controversial deal. Does this remind players why they have a union?

GOLDMAN: Yeah, I think so. You know, there just was a lot of angry stuff being said about, you know, David Stern trying to control things too much, which he has done in the past - from the length of players' shorts to how they should wear their headbands.

But, yeah, and there was a lot of consternation. But, as you say, maybe have to hold off on all that evil David Stern talk, because apparently the NBA has given the Hornets the OK to reconsider the trade. Apparently, the league wants more young players or draft picks going to the Hornets as part of the deal, which brought them three, you know, solid starting players. So it still may be on.

SIMON: And while we're talking about the NBA, is this the end of the road for Portland Trailblazer Brandon Roy?

GOLDMAN: It seems to be - a very sad story. You know, early this morning, the Blazers released a statement in which Roy said: After consulting with my doctors I will seek a determination that I've suffered a career-ending injury. He's only 27, Scott. But there's no cartilage between the bones in both knees. And one physician reportedly told him if he kept playing he might end up not being able to walk.

He's been one of the NBA's brightest stars in recent years - a three-time all star, 2007 rookie of the year. And he was really the face of a Portland franchise that turned around its fortunes. It was known for a lot of years, as you know, as the Jailblazers. And he was a very likeable guy, loved in Portland. And he was the face of that team.

SIMON: Tom, of course, you're in State College following the case of sexual abuse charges against the former Penn State coach Jerry Sandusky. He's set to appear in court early next week, facing more than 50 charges of sexual abuse. What kind of case does the Pennsylvania attorney general seem to be building against him?

You know, Scott, the old saying where there's smoke, there's fire. We've had some people tell us that. Of course, Sandusky, you know, proclaims his innocence. His lawyer's been very aggressive in trotting him out there and, you know, having very highly publicized interviews, saying he's innocent.

GOLDMAN: You know, the Pennsylvania attorney general thinks they have a good case. We'll find out more about, you know, what kind of evidence they have at the preliminary hearing on Tuesday.

SIMON: NPR's Tom Goldman in State College, Pennsylvania.

Thanks so much.

GOLDMAN: You bet.

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