The Tour de France might not be in Deron Williams' future, but D-Will's wheels are going to be spinning in a competition against one of the world's top cyclists.
In an effort to drum up publicity for the upcoming Tour of Utah, the star point guard has accepted the challenge of riding mano-a-mano against Floyd Landis in a time trial race at the Miller Motorsports Park in Tooele next week.
Racing against Landis, who won the 2006 Tour de France only to have the title stripped for testing positive for performance-enhancing drugs, is the bad news for the Jazz player.
The good news for the gold-medal hoopster is that the top-level cyclist, who now races for the OUCH Pro Cycling Team, has to answer to Williams on the basketball court.
Along with their cycling race, the two athletes will also go head-to-head in a 3-point-shooting contest at Miller Motorsports Park on Friday, Aug. 7. The exchange event will take place at 6:30 p.m. and is free to the public.
"I am always game for a good challenge," Williams said in a statement released by the event's organizers. "I am the consummate competitor, and going up against Floyd will be a lot of fun."
Landis' eight-man team will compete in the Larry H. Miller Group of Companies-sponsored Tour of Utah from Aug. 18-23. He'll get a preview of Stage 3 during his trial with Williams — something he's definitely anticipating.
"I've heard a lot about Deron's ability on the court," Landis said. "I look forward to seeing what he can do on the bike and how quickly he can pick up the necessary skills to compete in a time trial."
NO A.K. FOR RUSSIA: Andrei Kirilenko will not help his homeland's hoops team keep its EuroBasket championship in Russia after all. According to a FIBA.com report, Russia coach David Blatt confirmed to his country's media that Kirilenko will sit out of this year's European tournament in Poland for "personal reasons." The report verifies what Kirilenko's agent, Marc Fleisher, told the Deseret News earlier this month about the Russian "definitely not playing" for his country this year.
After his agent made that announcement, Kirilenko reportedly told Russian media that he still had not completely ruled out playing in this year's competition. But that decision now seems to have been made after Kirilenko met with Blatt.
"He (Kirilenko) sat down with me and explained his situation in terms of why he wanted to take a summer off," Blatt said. "We had a good talk and I certainly understand his decision. We're behind him and support a hundred percent. Andrei will be back with the Russian basketball team when it's appropriate for him."
At locker-room cleanout last spring, Kirilenko said he was trying to decide whether or not to participate with Russia because it might be difficult to do that and gain muscle weight in the offseason per the Jazz's request.
The FIBA.com report called the Jazz forward's absence "a hammer blow to the Russian's title defense and also damages their chances of reaching the 2010 FIBA World Championship in Turkey." European teams must finish in the top six at EuroBasket to qualify for the world tournament.
HE SAID IT: Magic coach Stan Van Gundy thinks a certain power forward from Utah could give a big boost to (fill-in-the-blank) Eastern Conference team that could possibly end up with him via a trade this offseason.
"There's no question there's a lot of guys still out there that can have tremendous impact on teams," Van Gundy told the Orlando Sentinel. "(Carlos) Boozer's on the trading block. ... Any trade of Boozer to anybody in the East, I think, would make a huge improvement."23 comments on this story
HE WROTE IT: Of course, FOXSports.com NBA analyst Charley Rosen might disagree with Van Gundy. Rosen came out with a list of his most overrated players in the league, and a certain power forward from Utah made the cut (and got cut down by him in the process).
Rosen listed Boozer along with Chris Paul, Kevin Garnett, Gilbert Arenas, Chris Bosh, Chris Andersen, Marcus Camby, Al Harrington, Stephen Jackson and Brad Miller as "the most grossly over-valued, not-so superstars" in the NBA.
Here is Rosen's rant about Boozer: "He can score from the low post, hit mid-range jumpers and is — at best — a two-space rebounder. On the downside, Boozer either can't or won't play defense, is an erratic passer and handler, can't run, can't move laterally and just doesn't play as vigorously without the ball as he does when the rock is in his hands. Smart teams have an easy time neutralizing Boozer's effectiveness."