DENVER, Feb. 20 -- Seattle SuperSonics guard Ray Allen told a group of reporters this weekend that he understands why fans sometimes feel cheated by professional athletes.
"[The fan] sees a guy that is not playing hard on the floor and he knows how much money he makes," Allen said. "That's the first thing he says: 'He's a bum. He makes too much money. He makes too much money to miss free throws.' . . . Sometimes it turns people off."
Rockets' 7-foot-6 Yao Ming, with Kobe Bryant, is the subject of a documentary -- "The Year of the Yao" -- about his rookie NBA season.
(Matt York -- AP)
_____From The Post_____
Allen Iverson leads the East over the West, 125-115.
Mike Wise: The Suns' mix of stars create a beautiful game.
Notebook: The Sonics' Ray Allen feels the media trumpets too many negatives in the NBA.
He scanned the group and deadpanned, "Is there any way that we can have our contracts not reported in the newspaper?"
The reply was laughter followed by a collective "No!"
Later, Allen became serious and implored the media for fairness in the way they cover the league. Allen says the NBA receives more than its fair share of negative publicity and not enough coverage for the good that it does.
"If there was a fight outside, you guys would run outside, and then [the headlines] would be "Two of the players at the All-Star Game are fighting," Allen said. "That's human nature. There's a lot of great guys in the league that are worth talking about. They do a lot of great things in the community, help their teammates, have great families, come from a great upbringing. Those are the stories that are never talked about."
Yao Ming is going Hollywood.
The Houston Rockets' 7-foot-6 center, is the subject of a documentary about his rookie season in the NBA. A special screening of the film was held Saturday at Denver's Paramount Theater.
Scheduled to be released next month, "The Year of the Yao," chronicles Yao, a native of China, dealing with unprecedented media coverage, culture shock -- such as learning what to order at Taco Bell -- and adapting to the rigors of the NBA.
A former Los Angeles Lakers fan, Boston Celtics forward Paul Pierce, was asked what he thought of the controversy that has hounded the Lakers the past year, such as coaches resigning abruptly, bitter quarrels between players, a player's wife accusing one of her husband's teammates of hitting on her.
"They should put it on pay-for-view," Pierce cracked.
Jermaine O'Neal wants to give Indiana Pacers teammate Reggie Miller a proper send-off. Miller, who has played 18 NBA seasons -- all with Indiana -- announced earlier this month that he would retire at the end of the season.
"I have a huge task, and that's to get him to the NBA championship," O'Neal said. "I want to do the best job I can do and enjoy the time I have left with him as much as possible."
That gift might be out of O'Neal's grasp. Indiana is 25-26 this season and not among the Eastern Conference's top eight teams.
TV Deal Talks Planned
The NBA will begin negotiations to extend its broadcast contracts after it reaches a new labor contract with players as soon as next month, Commissioner David Stern said.
The league's six-year, $4.6 billion television agreements with Time Warner Inc.'s TNT and Walt Disney Co.'s ABC and ESPN expire after the 2007-08 season.
"We want to extend with our partners," Stern said at a media breakfast with Turner Sports President David Levy on Sunday. "I'm sizing up David's pockets."
TNT pays $2.2 billion for its portion of the contract; Disney pays $2.4 billion.
News services contributed to this report.