Ailene Voisin, sports columnist

On paper, it was hardly a legacy fight, the type of matchup UFC bantamweight champion T.J. Dillashaw had anticipated for days, weeks, months. He wanted a rematch with No.1 challenger Renan Barao so badly, right here in his back yard, that during his recent honeymoon in Mexico, he slipped out of bed in the wee hours and resumed training on a treadmill.

Déjà vu? Again? The Raiders hope not. After consecutive 4-12 seasons, approximately $60 million available this offseason to upgrade talent and solidify the quarterback position, the party line is to acknowledge the NFL preseason for what it is – the biggest ripoff in professional sports – and profess to wearing blinders until the Sept. 7 opener at the New York Jets.

UFC bantamweight champion T.J. Dillashaw has owned the belt for three months and a few days now, and frankly, he likes the look. He thinks he wears it well. During the bang-bang events of the summer – a wedding, an abbreviated honeymoon and the approaching rematch Saturday with No.1 challenger Renan Barao – the pride of Angels Camp is just starting to appreciate the perks that come with the grand prize.

While this is a public relations coup at the very least for the Kings, this is a nice plum and a second go-round for Rudy Gay, and an absolutely monumental achievement for DeMarcus Cousins.

Mark Cuban has his issues with basketball’s international governing body (FIBA). Paul George has a fractured leg. Kevin Love, LaMarcus Aldridge and Blake Griffin are either not interested or interested but ailing. Kevin Durant, the face of Team USA, is full of surprises: He gains a new endorsement deal and withdraws from Team USA within a matter of hours, citing fatigue.

The Raiders think they’ve found their quarterback. Then again, how many times this past decade have they found their quarterback, only to inflict cruel and unusual punishment – and consecutive losing seasons – on their fans?

Admittedly, the image of Kings center DeMarcus Cousins posing as a “sponge” is a little difficult to wrap your arms around. At 6-foot-11 and 270 pounds, this is a big, imposing man. But those are his words. And that was his intent. He attended the Team USA training camp in Las Vegas last week to pester, dominate and, occasionally, even imitate some of the NBA’s elite players.

DeMarcus Cousins spent the past week here training with other candidates for the national team that will compete later this month in the FIBA World Cup in Spain. The withdrawal of power forwards Kevin Love, Blake Griffin and LaMarcus Aldridge enhanced his chances to make the 12-man roster, though a final cutdown is not expected for a few weeks.

In a freakish, horrific collision with a basket stanchion in the fourth quarter of the scrimmage between white and blue teams, Indiana All-Star Paul George elevated and contested a drive by James Harden. As the 6-foot-8 forward landed, his right foot hit the protective cushion on the basket support, then gave way in a gruesome, 90-degree angle that elicted gasps from spectators and players who stood nearby with an unimpeded view.

Four days into the national team training camp, USA Basketball coaches and officials remain conflicted about DeMarcus Cousins’ potential value on Mike Krzyzewski’s FIBA World Cup squad.

After three days of training with Team USA, DeMarcus Cousins has no clue whether he has impressed or disappointed, or enhanced or diminished his prospects for the squad that will compete in the 2014 FIBA World Cup next month in Spain.

Inside the gym where Team USA is training for next month’s FIBA World Cup, you can’t take two steps without tripping over one of the most talented players in the world.

Is DeMarcus Cousins ready to take his show on the road - to accompany the 2014 U.S. men's national team to the FIBA World Cup next month in Spain - or will he let this gold medal opportunity slip through his undeniably capable fingers?

The Bee’s Ailene Voisin muses about Hall of Famers Tom Glavine and Greg Maddux, Atlanta’s good fortune, Jeff Gordon’s driving prowess and Vernon Davis’ juke.

Charles Barkley serves as a powerful teaching lesson for DeMarcus Cousins for a number of reasons, namely because he also had to convince skeptical American basketball officials that he would curb his behavior and represent his country honorably and without incident in the first Olympic Games featuring NBA superstars.

Omri Casspi, who was drafted by the Kings in the opening round (23rd overall) in 2009, is finalizing a one-year contract with his original franchise. The 6-foot-9 small forward was in Tel Aviv, Israel, and unavailable for comment.

See what The Bee's Ailene Voisin, preparing to visit with DeMarcus Cousins as he works for a spot on Team USA, had to say during the live chat she hosted on Friday.

The Kings are four days removed from the Las Vegas showcase where confetti flew, Ray McCallum was named MVP of the summer league finale, and the players and owners held the championship trophy aloft, handling the sleek and shiny object like a brand-new car.

Sacramento may still be interested in reacquiring forward Omri Casspi.

Omri Casspi arrived in Sacramento with his ego bursting, his prospects for a long-term career with the Kings promising, and his tiny country of Israel riding on his shoulders, along for the ride. Five years later, he barely recognizes his life.

EDITOR'S NOTE: This article has been republished. It was originally published in The Sacramento Bee on Sept. 3, 2010.

Thoughts, observations and quick hits on interesting moments, events and developments that occurred during the previous week.

When did this happen? Sometime during the past few decades – after insisting he was not a role model, amassing fines for his misbehavior and catching hell for his words – Charles Barkley morphed into one of the true humanitarians of the modern sports era.

After hearing he lost his belt, the heavily-favored Brazilian was given a blow-by-blow of TJ Dillashaw’s quickness and surprising kicks, the reaction of the stunned sellout crowd, the final strikes that ended the fight 2:26 into the fifth round.

LeBron James wanted to go home. Isaiah Thomas wanted to stay here, but he also wanted to be recognized as the Kings’ best point guard and a highly compensated starter for the foreseeable future, and that was the part that snagged the deal.

LeBron James always hinted he would move back to Cleveland, finish his career with the Cavaliers, continue working with youngsters and the underprivileged, keep trying to help his community. No one really saw this coming?

New A’s pitcher Jeff Samardzija is promoting his favorite sport overseas.

OAKLAND There have been scooters in the clubhouse, pies in the face, and enough facial hair to keep the local barber in business if the players sporting the unruly beards and hairstyles suddenly decided to practice good grooming habits.

Thoughts, observations and quick hits on interesting moments, events and developments that occurred during the previous week.

Darren Collison is not a better overall player than Isaiah Thomas. Let’s get that right out there. But he’s different, and the Kings needed different. And he’s cheaper, and with a desire to maintain salary cap flexibility for a potential free-agent windfall in 2015, the Kings needed cheaper.

Meeting with reporters in his office instead of the usual interview room down the hallway, the longtime manager leaned back in his chair, then unloaded. He spoke softly and deliberately – this is Bochy, remember – and used terms like “awful baseball” and “disappointing” and having “too much talent for this.” With his frequent hand gestures stressing his points, he seemed particularly miffed about his team’s sloppy 7-2 loss to St. Louis that ended the 10-game homestand with a 2-8 thud.

Sacramento’s comeback began with a shot heard round the Capitol, of all places, and ended at Hornet Stadium on Sunday afternoon with a communal high-five and high praise from USA Track & Field officials.

Malone says the first-round pick’s skills address many of team team’s weaknesses

When the Kings were at their best, that time so long ago and far away, team scouts and executives went global – to Serbia, Greece, France, Turkey - to accumulate much of their talent.

See what The Bee's Ailene Voisin - as well as many followers of the team - had to say about how the Kings fared in the 2014 NBA draft.

While remaking a team is far more involved than one-stop shopping, tonight is where and when it starts.

Thoughts, observations and quick hits on interesting moments, events and developments that occurred during the previous week.

If you want to see NBA executives scrambling for their Sharpies and hastily revising their internal mock drafts? More sleep-deprived than usual? With the annual selection party less than a week away?

The life of an emerging NASCAR superstar isn’t all bells and whistles. Sometimes it requires wearing suits and ties. Other times it means bumping into friends and relatives in the most improbable of places.

Hopefully, the folks back in Springfield, Mass., count the seasons. Winter, spring, autumn, summer. Gregg Popovich has been around so long, so ridiculously, consistently, enormously successful, he answers to a single name.

Hall of Famer left a lasting legacy on and off the field. Besides his sports skills, Gwynn also was beloved in his adopted hometown of San Diego — and beyond.

Thoughts, observations and quick hits on interesting moments, events and developments that occurred during the previous week.

With the NBA draft fast approaching, the Kings are in the midst of what could be called a 10-day sprint. More than at any time in recent franchise history, team executives and scouts are flooding the market, searching for talent throughout the United States and Europe, and even taking a peek in their own backyard.

S A four-game losing streak? Well, that was not going to happen. Tim Hudson is still full of surprises. The veteran right-hander who underwent major ankle surgery a year ago, who spurned his hometown team for the Giants and who has established himself as the ace of the staff, on Thursday wrapped a screen around the Nats.

Somewhere between his post-race rant and his Monday morning apology, California Chrome co-owner Steve Coburn may have stumbled onto something. His overheated reaction to losing the Triple Crown transferred the conversation about who, when and where from the backroom to the kitchen table.

Thoughts, observations and quick hits on interesting moments, events and developments that occurred during the previous week.

Shocked. Stunned. Dazed. Confused. Preki can’t believe it, either. The Republic FC coach – our local soccer legend who was known during his playing days for his clever left foot – thinks U.S. national team coach Jürgen Klinsmann committed one of those right-foot-in-mouth mistakes by leaving Landon Donovan off his 2014 World Cup roster.

Tim Duncan, the San Antonio Spurs’ veteran forward, says his team wants to rid themselves of “that bad taste in our mouth still” from last season’s loss to Miami in the NBA Finals.

As the recruiting process accelerates and the NBA draft on June 26 approaches, the Kings have more studying to do than a recent law school graduate preparing for the bar exam. Even with the drought, the questions are coming in waves.

Thoughts, observations and quick hits on interesting moments, events and developments that occurred during the previous week.

Ailene Voisin, sports columnist

Ailene Voisin

Ailene Voisin was born in Brooklyn, N.Y. She earned a bachelor's degree in political science from UNLV and a law degree from the University of San Diego before committing full time to journalism.

Her career includes stops at the San Diego Union, Los Angeles Herald-Examiner and Atlanta Journal-Constitution, and time spent as the backup beat writer for Dodgers and Angels, Clippers and NBA beat writer, sports columnist, along with numerous assignments covering international events and the Olympics. Ailene joined The Sacramento Bee in 1997.

Email: avoisin@sacbee.com
Phone: 916-321-1208
Twitter: @ailene_voisin

FOLLOW US | Get more from sacbee.com | Follow us on Twitter | Become a fan on Facebook | Watch Bee news, lifestyle videos | View our mobile versions | e-edition: Print edition online | What our bloggers are saying
Sacramento Bee Job listing powered by Careerbuilder.com
Quick Job Search
TODAY'S CIRCULARS
Sacramentoconnect.com SacWineRegion.com SacMomsclub.com SacPaws.com BeeBuzz Points Find n Save