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Thursday, May 12, 2011

RIP Robert 'Tractor' Traylor - Ohio State-Miami to play in primetime on Sept. 17 -

Robert 'Tractor' Traylor found dead
I don't care who you are or if you are a fan of basketball. You got excited when you saw Traylor jump! Not just dunk, but jump. There is something about a 300 pound man flying through the air. I had the pleasure of watching Tractor many times when he was with the CAVS and I can honestly say he was a fan favorite and brought me out of my seats many times a game. RIP!!
SAN JUAN, Puerto Rico -- Robert Traylor, the former NBA and University of Michigan big man nicknamed "Tractor" because of his hulking frame, has died. He was 34.
Described as a "gentle giant" with a generous smile, Traylor played seven years in the NBA. He is perhaps most remembered, however, for his career at Michigan, where he was a standout for three seasons but became embroiled in a major scandal involving a booster.
Police in San Juan said Traylor was found dead Wednesday on the bedroom floor of his oceanfront apartment. Police and Traylor's team, the Bayamon Cowboys, said he had been missing for a few days and apparently died from a heart attack.
"He was a leader of the team," said Jose Carlos Perez, the Cowboys' manager. "He was very, very friendly. He got along very well with everyone. The fans loved him, idolized him."
Perez told The Associated Press that Traylor had been talking by phone to his wife in Chicago when the connection was suddenly cut off. She called team officials Wednesday and they checked on him, Perez said.
The 6-foot-8, 300-pound Traylor was injured and had not been playing, the team said.
Traylor was drafted by the Dallas Mavericks with the sixth pick in 1998, but they traded his rights to Milwaukee in a major deal that sent Dirk Nowitzki to Dallas. Traylor played for the Bucks in the first two seasons of an NBA career that included stops in Cleveland, Charlotte and New Orleans.
"The entire Milwaukee Bucks organization is saddened by the news of Robert Traylor's death," the Bucks said in a statement. "Robert was a fierce competitor on the court who helped the Bucks reach the playoffs in each of his two seasons in Milwaukee.
"Off the court he was a gentle giant, displaying his smile and care, especially toward young people through his involvement in school visits and his work with the Special Olympics clinic."
Traylor got his "Tractor" nickname in high school, then went to Michigan shortly after the departures of Fab Five stars Chris Webber, Juwan Howard and Jalen Rose. Part of another highly touted recruiting class that arrived in 1995, Traylor played three seasons with the Wolverines.
Dugan Fife, who played with Traylor for a season at Michigan, described him as soft-spoken and selfless.
"He loved putting on that Michigan jersey," Fife said. "I was disappointed I only got to play one year with him because of the kind of guy he was. ... Never complained about playing time, never complained about getting the ball."
Of course, what everyone remembers about Traylor was his size -- including his unusually large hands and feet.
"I remember shaking his hand for the first time," Fife said. "I could put my foot, with a shoe on, inside his shoes."
Traylor was the most valuable player of the NIT in 1997 and averaged 16.2 points and 10.1 rebounds the following season, when Michigan won the inaugural Big Ten tournament.
"We are saddened to hear about the loss of a former student-athlete, Robert Traylor," Michigan athletic director Dave Brandon said. "Our sympathies go out to his family during this difficult time."
Although he was productive on the court, Traylor was one of the Michigan players whose ties to booster Ed Martin resulted in NCAA sanctions against the basketball program.
He turned pro after his junior year, averaging 4.8 points and 3.7 rebounds in 438 NBA games.
Traylor had surgery on his aorta in 2005, the Bayamon Cowboys said.
The team suspended its game Wednesday night because of his death.
Traylor had been playing with a team in Veracruz, Mexico, before he moved to Puerto Rico in mid-March, Perez said.
"His game was one of a lot of strength, a lot of defense," he said.
Indiana coach Tom Crean, a former assistant at Michigan State, echoed those sentiments in a post on Twitter.
"At Michigan State we battled against him and he might have been the most time-consuming and mind-challenging matchup we ever faced and we as coaches weren't even playing. He had great feet and hands and a very soft touch...You really had to have a plan to stop him."
In 2009, Traylor was sentenced to jail after violating conditions of supervised release related to an income-tax case in which he acknowledged preparing a false tax return that hid assets of a convicted drug dealer.
A judge had delayed the sentence so Traylor could play for an Italian team.
Detroit attorney Steve Fishman, a friend of Traylor's who also represented him during his legal troubles, said Traylor often worked with him at youth basketball camps.
"He was a gentle giant," Fishman told the AP on Wednesday. "There were two things about him that really stood out from other athletes of this day and age: He never complained and always took responsibility for anything he ever did."
Fishman downplayed Traylor's size, saying the former NBA player was "just a huge person."
"If he starved himself in the Gobi Desert, he would still weigh 270 pounds," Fishman said.
Fishman said Traylor's aorta troubles were discovered during an NBA physical, causing teams to shy away from him.
The attorney also bristled at questions about Traylor's connection to Martin, who died in 2003 after pleading guilty to conspiracy to launder money. Martin had told federal prosecutors that he took gambling money, combined it with other funds and lent $616,000 to Traylor and other players.
"Any player that came from the circumstances Robert Traylor came from would have taken money from Ed Martin or anybody else," he said. "He was not a child of privilege."
Perez said Traylor's survivors include his wife and two sons.

Ohio State-Miami to play in primetime on Sept. 17

COLUMBUS, Ohio (AP) -- The September game between Ohio State and Miami will be played in primetime.
Atlantic Coast Conference Commissioner John Swofford announced Wednesday that kickoff in Miami will be at 7:30 or 8 p.m. on Sept. 17. The game will be broadcast on either ABC or ESPN.
The teams played in Columbus last season, with the Buckeyes winning 36-24. The 2011 matchup will be Ohio State's first trip to play the Hurricanes in Miami.

Who Will Start at QB for OSU: Si.com Truth and Rumors

At 25, Joe Bauserman is finally on the verge of starting football games at Ohio State -- after a reportedly so-so spring. Meanwhile, Braxton Miller, a highly touted freshman, gradually improved throughout the spring. His performance in the final scrimmage, leading the offense to three scores in his four possessions, has titillated an already-infatuated fan base. Bauserman understands that. "People want excitement, and a guy that they've never seen before is going to get them thinking about it," he said. "It doesn't bother me. I feel like I can play at this level just as well as anybody else." The debate seems to come down to Bauserman, Mr. Safe and Steady, versus Miller, Mr. Clueless but Flashy. Quarterbacks coach Nick Siciliano did not shy away from that comparison

Report: Car sold for $13,700, not $0
Former Ohio State linebacker Thaddeus Gibson didn't understand why his purchase of a used Chrysler 300C was listed at $0 in documents disclosed in a media report, since he was still making payments on the vehicle.
Now, newly uncovered documents appear to back up Gibson -- to the tune of $13,700.
In an initial report on Ohio State's investigation of car sales to athletes and their families, The Columbus Dispatch cited documents showing a purchase price of $0 for Gibson's car.
But on Wednesday, the newspaper reported it obtained a previous title on the vehicle listing the purchase price as $13,700 for a sale dated June 27, 2007 and financed through Huntington National Bank.
The title listing the purchase price as $0 was dated March 6, 2008 and listed the same bank as the lender, according to the report.
Ohio State's compliance department is reviewing the sales of more than 50 cars to student-athletes and their families to make sure the sales meet NCAA rules.
The Dispatch reported that a car salesman who received game passes from Ohio State athletes handled many of the deals at two different dealerships. Ohio State has since taken the salesman, Aaron Kniffin, off the pass list.
Athletes are prevented from receiving special deals not available to other students and are not permitted to trade autographs for discounts. Both dealerships display signed Ohio State memorabilia in their showrooms.
School officials have seen no evidence of players getting special treatment in vehicle sales, Douglas Archie, associate athletic director for compliance, said in a statement Saturday.
"Consistent with our standard procedures, we are nevertheless reviewing these sales to assure ourselves that our policies were adhered to," he said.
The mother and brother of Buckeyes quarterback Terrelle Pryor also purchased cars from the dealerships. Kniffin loaned his own car to Pryor for a three-day test drive to Pryor's home in Jeannette, Pa.
Kniffin and the owner of one of the dealerships he worked for, Jason Goss, have attended seven football games as guests of players, including the 2007 national championship game and the 2009 Fiesta Bowl.
The car sales investigation comes on the heels of Ohio State football coach Jim Tressel being punished for not revealing his knowledge of his players' NCAA violations.
Tressel was notified in April 2010 via emails from a Buckeyes fan and former player that Ohio State players were trading signed jerseys and other memorabilia to a Columbus tattoo parlor owner for cash and reduced-price tattoos. Even though his contract and NCAA rules required him to notify athletic director Gene Smith, Ohio State President E. Gordon Gee or the university's compliance department, Tressel did not do that.
It was not until more than nine months passed -- and five players including Pryor had been suspended for the first five games of the 2011 season -- that Ohio State officials discovered the emails and confronted Tressel. He finally admitted he knew of the players getting improper benefits.
Tressel was originally suspended for two games -- later extended to the first five games this fall to match the punishment of the five players -- and was fined $250,000, required to make a public apology and receive a public reprimand and to attend an NCAA compliance seminar.
The NCAA is still investigating Ohio State and Tressel, who are scheduled to appear before the NCAA's committee on infractions Aug. 12.

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