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Smith Column: Lockout means missing Outlaw on NBA court

July 5, 2011

Starkville High School boys basketball coach Greg Carter, right, shares a light moment with former player Travis Outlaw during last week's Elite Basketball camp. (Photo by Kim Murrell, SDN)

By DANNY P. SMITH
Sports Editor
sdnsports@bellsouth.net

It's frustrating to watch professional sports leagues go through labor problems.
Because of strikes and lockouts in the past, it means the fans have missed seeing the showcase of some of the greatest athletes in the world.
The more and more we see these types of situations develop, the tougher it is to support and watch professional sports when games are played.
Right now, there are two pro leagues going through lockouts.
The National Football League has been in shutdown mode for quite some time now, while the National Basketball Association is entering its first full week of work stoppage.
As a huge football fan, it will be tough to see the NFL lockout continue if games start being taken away in the fall.
The NFL seems to be closer to resolving its differences than the NBA. It seems more likely that the NBA could lose an entire season due to its disagreements.
Usually, there's no reason for fans in Starkville to be concerned about a strike or lockout in professional sports.
There's one specific reason we should want to see the NBA to solve its issues so no games are lost.
Having NBA games means former Starkville High School player Travis Outlaw stays on the court for the New Jersey Nets.
It was an up-and-down first year for Outlaw with the Nets. Outlaw doesn't need for the lockout to drag on throughout the fall into next year because he needs to be around his coaches and teammates in New Jersey.
There were times the Nets showed their potential of being a really good basketball team and Outlaw contributed to that progress.
Outlaw averaged 9.2 points per game and had a game-high 27 points against the Cleveland Cavaliers early last season and had 20 points or more on four other occasions.
Even though Outlaw matched his career-high in amount of games played with 82 and set a career-high in starts with 55, he wants to be a more productive player in New Jersey.
Outlaw has indicated that the second season with the Nets will be better, but the lockout has to end first.
The lockout may keep Outlaw from playing NBA games, but there's no lock on the door of the Starkville Sportsplex or anywhere else in Starkville. No one here is keeping Outlaw from participating in the game he loves.
It's refreshing to see Outlaw giving back to Starkville while he's home during the offseason.
He just finished hosting the Elite Basketball Camp at the Sportsplex. The three-day event brought children together for fun, fellowship and of course, basketball. It was nice to see Outlaw interacting with the campers last Thursday.
Outlaw is also one of the major sponsors for a free golf clinic being held later this month. The Starkville Parks and Recreation Department and Mississippi State golf program has joined together to make this happen.
There are other things Outlaw would like to do for the community and specifically the city and county schools.
"He does a lot and I don't think all of it gets publicized," Starkville High School boys basketball coach Greg Carter said.
Hopefully, the NBA lockout will end soon so that Outlaw can go back to the business of playing professional basketball.
Until then, Starkville won't mind keeping one of its own around a little while longer.

Danny P. Smith is sports editor and columnist for the Starkville Daily News. The opinions in this column are his and do not necessarily reflect the views of the Daily News or its staff.

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