Ray Ratto

Jury selection under way in Bonds trial

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Jury selection under way in Bonds trial

March 21, 2011Editor's note: Comcast SportsNet Bay Area's Kate Longworth is in the courtroom and we will update this story with her dispatches throughout the day. Follow her Twitter updates here.

SAN FRANCISCO (APCSN) -- Some loved Barry Bonds so much they can't be impartial. Others already believe he's guilty. A mother worried about the effect sports doping would have on her impressionable children. And so the laborious process of selecting a jury began Monday in the criminal case of USA v. Bonds.

More than three years after the all-time home run leader was charged with lying to a grand jury when he denied knowingly using performance-enhancing drugs, his trial got under way in San Francisco federal court. The judge and lawyers were attempting to winnow about 100 prospective jurors into 12 jurors and four alternates for a case that could take up to four weeks.

Bonds was present in a dark suit, with roughly six family membersfriends sitting in the front rows of court.

According to firsthand accounts from inside the courtroom, jury selection began at about 9:40 a.m. with the arrival of the 38-person (22 female, 16 male) panel. U.S. District Judge Susan Illston asked basic questions such as where jurors lived, their occupation, a brief family description, their hobbies, had they served on a jury before, among other inquiries.

A handful of jurors mentioned baseball and sports as hobby. One indicated a reluctance to render a judgment against "a great athlete like Mr. Bonds. It might cloud my judgment."

"It's hard to make decisions about other people's lives," juror No. 9 told U.S. District Illston when asked if he could be impartial.

"It's the hardest thing we do," replied the judge, who has sealed the prospective jurors' names until after the trial concludes.

"I haven't done too good with (my life)," juror No. 9 concluded before sitting back down. He remained eligible for the jury, but 42 other people in the pool were dismissed from the case before the questioning began Monday.

Illston excused one juror because of a death in a family. A second person was dismissed because of his allegiance to the San Francisco Giants.

"I'm a Barry Bonds fan and I'm a huge SF Giants fan. It's my life. I don't know if I could judge Mr. Bonds after providing me with so much entertainment. It's an intimate relationship," prospective juror No. 22 wrote on a questionnaire he filled out on Thursday. "I don't think I could find him guilty."

No. 22 identified himself as age 35 and working at Target as an "in-stock team member."

After lunch the prosecution began its questioning of potential jurors. Among the questions was about how many Giants fans were present. About six hands were raised. The follow-up: Does anyone feel that the Giants are on trial? No hands went up.

Illston also granted the request of both sides to dismiss 38 prospective jurors with perceived biases.

"My opinion is that steroids is ok to be used since these are the jobs of athletes," prospective juror No. 29 stated in is questionnaire before being dismissed. "If a player must advance in hisher jobs, supplements should be able to be used."

Illston said she expects to have just enough people to fill the jury. Most of those who remained told the judge they could stay impartial, though several with strong impressions of the case still remained in the jury pool, taking direct questions from the judge

"I would be reluctant to render a judgment against a great athlete like Bonds," juror No. 24, a single, 61-year-old man living on disability payments, told Illston. "It would color my judgment."

The judge thanked the man for his time, and he sat down to await a decision on whether he would remain on the jury.

One of the prospective jurors whom prosecutors want excused wrote on her questionnaire: "He is guilty. He lied. He has suffered enuf. There should have been some sort of settlement." The prospective juror identified herself as 61 years old and holding a law degree.

Another juror identified herself as an administrative assistant with Google Inc.

"Everyone looks up to these athletes, including young kids and its sad they take drugs to do better. What are kids learning?" the 42-year-old wrote on her questionnaire. "I have young impressionable kids and they do sports. I would be distraught if they felt they had to take drugs to do well in any arena."

Bonds, who played for San Francisco when he hit 73 homers in a season and when he broke Hank Aaron's career home-run record, has pleaded not guilty to one count of obstruction and four charges of lying to a grand jury.

When he initially entered his plea in December 2007, he was met by thousands of media, fans and others as television helicopters hovered overhead. Much of that attention was missing on Monday. About a dozen photographers milled outside, but few fans were there to see Bonds walk into the federal courthouse in San Francisco dressed in a dark suit, white shirt and silver tie.

While Bonds sat with his star-studded legal team at the defense table, Jeff Novitzky, the federal agent who led the investigation of the Bay Area Laboratory Co-Operative, joined the prosecutors. Bonds is the biggest name to go to trial from the BALCO probe.

NBA All-Star Game more and more reveals personalities rather than skills

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AP

NBA All-Star Game more and more reveals personalities rather than skills

The voting for the NBA All-Star starters was properly instructive to both Adam Silver and the public at large about exactly what the game is meant to be – which is why I totally get their decision not to televise the All-Star draft.

It’s really a personality test for everyone involved, for good and ill.

I think having a draft nobody can see is idiotic, stealing an idea the NHL used and then discarded years ago and then not employing the reason why they did it to begin with, but if the All-Star Game is really an expression of ego, then the next best thing to having no draft is having one nobody can see.

The All-Star Game really only functions as a coronation of the elite by the elite, a festival of mutual backslapping friend-rewarding that has nothing to do with the playing of the game, or the moving of the T-shirts or jerseys or expensive hotel rooms. This is about stratifying the player pool so that everyone knows who’s who and what’s what.

Everything else is irrelevant, and the draft reinforces that. Kevin Durant not wanting to be a captain is strategic thinking by a future industrialist. Stephen Curry not minding being a captain is the perfect who-cares statement for someone who doesn’t mind playing the game because objecting to it takes too much work. LeBron James being a captain is the perfect political muscle-flexing that fits his personality.

Damian Lillard already assuming that he won’t be named to the team is a statement about his being considered the perpetual one-level-down guard. Russell Westbrook being named and then controlling the ball as he would in a regular season game is a statement about how he views his place as a disruptor. And on and on and on – the All-Star Game more and more reveals personalities rather than skills.

Does televising the draft help us understand the actual meaning of the event? Maybe, but the NBA would prefer you consider it a festival of the game itself, which it plainly isn’t. Proof, you say? 192-182 in 2017. 196-173 in 2016. 163-158 in 2015. 163-155 in 2014. There hasn’t been a normal-looking score in 15 years, which means it’s not a game at all.

That isn’t the news, though. It’s that the NBA has made this is a three-day event – the day the captains and starters are named, the day the reserves are picked, and the day that teams are chosen. And every bit of it is about the reaction to that. There is no show thereafter, and the players know it. They care about the selections, because that’s how they’re keeping score.

So go team. Whatever the hell that means.

 

Jack Cooley gets an All-Star vote

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USATSI

Jack Cooley gets an All-Star vote

The player(s) have spoken. They want Jack Cooley at All-Star weekend.

Hidden amongst the NBA’s All-Star balloting there is always a nugget or two that catches your eye. According to the final tallies, Cooley got some love in the player voting for the NBA All-Star team.

Cooley has played a total of two minutes for the Sacramento Kings this season. Maybe it’s the way he hustles all over the court or his debonair throwback look during a media day photo shoot. Something about Jack Cooley draws you in.

The 26-year-old big man took to Twitter to thank the anonymous voter Thursday evening.

Playing on a two-way contract for the Sacramento Kings, the former Notre Dame star is currently posting 15.5 points and 8.5 rebounds for the Reno Bighorns this season.

In addition to the single vote he received from the players, Cooley also garnered 956 votes from the fans and finished with a weighted score of 79.5 in the voting process.

Rookie Bogdan Bogdanovic led the Kings in fan voting with 33,842 votes. Georgios Papagiannis was second with 20,082 votes.

H/T to Andy Larsen of KSL.com.

UPDATE (10:12 p.m.): Cooley had some more fun on Twitter after this story's initial publication.