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Greek team Olympiakos could be subject to legal maneuvers when it arrives to play Cleveland Cavaliers
Exhibition games are supposed to be for practice, not international incidents, but the latter is brewing in Cleveland.
Next Monday, the Cavs are scheduled to welcome Olympiakos, a Greek team from the Euroleague, which is visiting the United States on a goodwill tour. But Olympiakos has more business than just basketball in Ohio, and as wild as it may seem, there's a chance they could lose everything they bring with them - from uniforms to computers to travelers checks.
If it sounds bizarre, it is.
On Tuesday in U.S. District Court in Cleveland, Judge Christopher A. Boyko cleared the way for old American creditors of Olympiakos to attempt to collect - when they come to The Q to play the Cavs - more than $400,000 the team owes to a former American player's agent from a five-year old lawsuit.
The plaintiff in the case, agent Tom Mc- Laughlin, wants to have federal mar shals seize ev erything they can that be longs to the club includ ing any cur rency and perhaps even the charter jet it will fly into town.
Boyko ordered a representative from Olympiakos to be deposed in court by Friday afternoon before he will rule if McLaughlin can proceed with the asset seizure. Of course, a settlement could be reached before then. Powerful local law firm Squire, Sanders & Dempsey defended Olympiakos on Tuesday.
McLaughlin used to represent NBA player Chris Morris, who also played in Greece before a knee injury cut short his career. Olympiakos cut him in 2001, owing him $1.3 million in salary and fees and McLaughlin $400,000 in fees. In separate civil cases, Morris and McLaughlin won default judgments against Olympiakos.
The problem was, the team was in Greece and outside the jurisdiction. Until now, that is.
Olympiakos is one of the most competitive and richest teams outside America and got massive headlines when it signed American Josh Childress to a $20 million contract last summer. The team is owned by the billionaire Aggelopoulos brothers, who didn't own the team when Morris was released.
No new rules, just new refs:
Tuesday, the Cavs had their annual league referee meeting to discuss rule changes and interpretations. But this year it wasn't a referee but an executive with the NBA who held the meeting as the regular referees are locked out. With the players getting used to replacement referees, players who were in the meeting said that for the moment the league isn't pursuing any significant rule changes.
Last year was last year:
NBA.com released its annual general managers survey Tuesday. While 69 percent of the voters picked LeBron James to repeat as MVP, he wasn't one of the seven players who got votes as the league's best defensive player. James finished second to the Orlando Magic's Dwight Howard in Defensive Player of the Year voting. Also, last season's Coach of the Year, Mike Brown, was not one of the six coaches who received a vote.
Pretty in pink:
To commemorate breast cancer awareness month, James wore a pink version of his signature Nike shoes against the Charlotte Bobcats.
To reach this Plain Dealer reporter: