Month: June 2017

NBA Finals 2017: ESPN adding ‘First Take’ episodes as show hits road

With the 2017 NBA Finals shaping up to be another dramatic showdown between the Warriors and Cavaliers, get ready for double doses of Stephen A. Smith and ESPN’s First Take.

The Embrace Debate show starring Smith, Max Kellerman and Molly Qerim will go live twice a day during The Finals, which will tip off June 1 on ESPN’s sister Disney network ABC. The shows will be produced on location in front of audiences in Oakland and either Cleveland or Boston.

Depending on how many games are played in the best-of-seven series, ESPN could air from three to seven live First Take specials in the afternoon, evenings and weekends during the Finals.

These live shows are scheduled to air on: June 4, 6, 7, 14, 15, 16, 18. They will be in addition to the regularly scheduled First Take weekday shows (10 a.m.-noon ET).

If the series reaches Game 7, ESPN will air 33 hours of live First Take from the road.

Elite Mens Brian Urlacher Jersey James, who’s dominated Durant throughout his career, is the reason he didn’t go East. He’s also the reason upcoming big-name free agents such as Paul George and Kyle Lowry likely won’t either. With No. 23 in your conference, the ceiling is the roof.
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Durant had a solid Game 7 against the Warriors last season, scoring 27 points on 10-for-19 shooting in a 96-88 loss, but in the two previous series-clinching opportunities, he looked shook. In Games 5 and 6 against the Warriors he shot a combined 22 of 62 from the field, jacking up 31 attempts in each contest. Nonetheless, the Thunder were within striking distance, trailing by only four points with 8:30 to go and a chance to advance to the Finals in a win-or-go home bout for both squads.

The Warriors had already won a title and a record 73 regular-season games. However, in big business, the best way to eliminate the competition can be to buy it out. They didn’t need Kevin Durant. They just wanted him off the Thunder.

Weekend ratings predictions: Pro Bowl, UK-KU, Aussie Open and more

There was a brief stretch earlier in the decade when the Pro Bowl was thriving in the ratings, but times have changed. Ratings soared as high as 7.7 in 2011 (the highest since 2000) but have fallen every year since, bottoming out at last year’s 4.5 the lowest since 2006. Given the NFL’s season-long ratings slump, it is fair to expect this year’s Pro Bowl to continue the downward trend. Prediction: 4.3.

Prescott will play with extra confidence this week knowing he already lit up the Packers once this season, to the tune of 247 yards, three touchdowns and a 117.4 passer rating in a 30-15 Week 6 win at Lambeau Field.

That wasn’t even his peak efficiency. Prescott was rated higher in seven of his games in 2016, all victories.

Think about all the outs Prescott could have taken during his dazzling rookie season. He could have fallen flat right away, showing his near-perfect preseason play was a fluke. He could have faltered as defenses solved him at midseason, timed with Tony Romo becoming available again. He could have slammed into the proverbial rookie wall and not recovered after his worst performance, in a second loss to the Giants in Week 14.

But Prescott has been able to rebound from his few hiccups. Even when he hasn’t had his best stuff, he’s handled it better than most QBs, young or seasoned.

The R still will be next to Prescott’s name when he’s introduced as the Cowboys’ starting quarterback against the Packers, but for all intents and purposes, he’s a veteran.vikings_117

LeBron James heckled by fan claiming to be ex-college player

Cue the LaVar Ball jokes . . .

LeBron James got an earful from a fan after the Cavaliers blew Game 3 of the Eastern Conference finals to the Celtics on Sunday night in Cleveland. A frustrated James unwisely engaged the heckler; it was unwise not just because hecklers usually aren’t worth the trouble, but because this heckler claimed to be a baller, which just makes the story even better.

LeBron got peeved at heckling fan after game. LeBron asked what fan had done. Dude replied: ‘I played at Hiram College.’ Emotions were raw in the moment but the guy’s liquid courage was pretty hilarious. He was removed from arena shouting his college stats.

Hmmmm. An ex-college player (Hiram is an NCAA Division III school in Hiram, Ohio) who can recite his stats wants to talk smack to the world’s best basketball player? Yeah, that sounds vaguely familiar.

Harry Giles, PF, Duke. Three knee surgeries in the last four years count as a significant red flag, of course, but the Pacers are in position to take a risk. Giles was never quite the same after returning to the floor for Duke this season, but he still has the potential to be a smooth, athletic, all-around big man to go with Myles Turner.
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Limited Womens Shea McClellin Jersey Jarrett Allen, C, Texas. Allen was 0 of 7 from the 3-point line during the season, but scouts believe he can develop into a 7-footer with 3-point range over time. That’s gotten his stock moving upward.

Tyler Lydon, SF/PF, Syracuse. Lydon is a solid combo forward who can knock down perimeter jumpers. The Blazers will also be looking for help at backup point guard, but they could pick that up later.

Chris Bosh, Heat agree to part ways, report says

Wayne Simmonds Elite Jersey Chris Bosh has not played basketball since February 2016 due to recurring blood clots, but he hasn’t given up hope on an NBA return. He may now have his chance after agreeing to part ways with the Heat, according to ESPN.com.

Bosh, an 11-time All-Star, was hoping to play at some point this past season, but a failed physical in September dashed his hopes. Heat president Pat Riley said that Bosh’s career with Miami probably is overafter the failed physical.
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The Heat will owe Bosh a guaranteed $52 million over the next two seasons including insurance but the new agreement is expected to remove Bosh from the salary cap, the report says.

Bosh’s complex situation was made even more unique due to the new collective bargaining agreement, which goes into effect July 1. An independent panel of doctors must clear Bosh since he has a potentially life-threatening medical condition.

Lauri Markkanen, PF, Arizona. Markkanen could make a fitting understudy for Dirk Nowtizki, a versatile forward in the Nowtizki mold. He averaged 15.6 points and made 42.3 percent of his 3-pointers as a freshman for the Wildcats.

Jonathan Isaac, SF, Florida State. Assuming there are no bizarre trades in the works, the Kings could be in position to follow up their point guard pick by addressing another weak spot, small forward. Isaac’s stock swooned as the regular season wrapped up, but averages of 12.3 rebounds and 2.0 blocks in tourney play helped revive him.

Luke Kennard, SG, Duke. Kennard in the lottery? A stretch, maybe, but Stan Van Gundy is desperate for shooters, having somehow assembled a team that ranked 28th in 3-point percentage. Kennard might lack the size and quickness to be a good NBA defender, but he has proven to be an excellent shooter, likely the best on the board when Detroit picks.

I am positive that the culture will change.

Lynch, a finalist for the Hall of Fame this year, officially retired from the NFL in 2008 and joined the Fox broadcast team later that fall. He has served as color analyst for play-by-play announcers Chris Rose and, most recently, Kevin Burkhardt.

I think he’s going to be great for the organization,’ Burkhardt told 49ers.com. I think John is great at everything he touches. I love him. I love him as a football guy. I love him as a motivator. He’s got every skill imaginable to help run a football team.

He is a leader of men. He is a tremendous communicator from top to bottom. I’m talking the highest person in the building to the lowest person in the building. They will all feel wanted, they will all feel motivated and he will lead. That’s what he does. You follow John Lynch. I am positive that the culture will change.

Niners owner and CEO Jed York said in a Monday release that Lynch is a world-class competitor and epitomized what is so special about the game of football.

It suit’s him, though, because he puts the right pieces in place year after year, drills them on his way of playing and preparing and gets them to buy in for as long as he needs them to … until it’s time to fit another piece in.
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If Belichick didn’t have two cheating scandals, Spygate and Deflategate, hanging over his head, of course, this argument would be much easier to make. There’s no way to discount that, and no way to apply that to the others on this list not that they’re pure, as history has taught us about no less than Wooden and his UCLA heyday.

In the big picture, though, that’s splitting hairs. It doesn’t bar him from the big room populated by the most accomplished, most resilient, longest-lasting, consistently excellent coaches of all time. It might determine where he gets to sit in that room, but not whether he belongs.

Belichick is in it. Win or lose, he’s no longer several rows behind Lombardi … or Bear or Phil or Coach K, for that matter.

Rams make Sean McVay youngest head coach in NFL history

Not to be outdone in stunning news by the other Los Angeles NFL team on Thursday, the Rams introduced Sean McVay as their new head coach.

McVay began his coaching career under former Buccaneers coach Jon Gruden, who has been raving about the 30-year-old since he began interviewing with teams after the end of this season. He becomes the youngest coach in NFL history.

Lane Kiffin, the previous holder of that distinction, was four months shy of his 32nd birthday when the Raiders hired him in 2007.
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McVay joins the Rams following three seasons as offensive coordinator for the Redskins. He was originally promoted to Washingtons coordinator position after serving as the clubs tight ends coach for three seasons (2011-2013) and one as an offensive assistant (2010).

Kellen Winslow Elite Jersey Via NCAA.com, in an article comparing him to Clemson’s Deshaun Watson: By all accounts, Kizer has impeccable character and leadership ability, as well, though he hasn’t been in the spotlight for as long as Watson. There are no off the field concerns with either player.

Via Pro Football Weekly: He has as good or better natural tools than any other quarterback in this class, plus he has superb football character. He works at the game and wants to be a great player.

Via CBS Sports: From a physical standpoint, Kizer checks all the boxes with his developed physique, impressive arm talent, natural athleticism and the flawless football character desired at the NFL level.

There are no arrest records for Kizer, and nothing to suggest there are any skeletons hidden in his closet. So where’s this all coming from It could be a smokescreen in order to throw other teams off, but it wouldn’t really be an effective one.

In the long run, this report likely won’t hurt Kizer’s stock, as long he just ignores it, and let his film/presence do the talking.

Seahawks Michael Bennett blows up at reporter after loss to Falcons

Elite Youth Randy Johnson Jersey Seahawks defensive lineman Michael Bennett lit into a reporter for suggesting Seattle wasnt able to generate an effective pass rush against Falcons quarterback Matt Ryan during Saturdays NFC divisional playoff game in Atlanta.

Ryan was sacked three times by Seattle, including once by Bennett, but completed 26 of 37 pass attempts for 338 yards and three touchdowns in Atlantas 36-20 win.

‘That speech was a home run,’ Trump told ABC News, referring to a recent address to the Central Intelligence Agency. ‘See what Fox said. They said it was one of the great speeches. They showed the people applauding and screaming. I got a standing ovation. In fact, they said it was the biggest standing ovation since Peyton Manning had won the Super Bowl, and they said it was equal. I got a standing ovation. It lasted for a long period of time.’

By the way, Manning is scheduled to speak before Trump and other Republicans during a joint Senate-House GOP retreat this week in Philadelphia.

As for the CIA speech, the Washington Post described it as meandering, falsehood-filled, self-involved.

Mark Ingram has proven to be a solid running back for the current Drew Brees era, but it may be time for the Saints to start transitioning their offense for the future. They won’t be able to find another Brees, but they can start to make their offense more run-first with Fournette. The New Orleans native is a perfect fit to take up the Saints mantle.

Elite Daniel Sorensen Jersey After adding to their pass-rush with their first pick, the Browns can add talent to their secondary with Conley. While he likely will not be the second best corner in this class based on his film, Conley’s upside is as high as any in this class, and he’d be a perfect fit for the Browns’ focus at the position.

Jadeveon Clowney towers over Randy Moss in viral photo

Davis Webb Kids Jersey Jadeveon Clowney is a massive human, but the Texans’ defensive endlooked even larger than normalin a photo that has now gone viral. The picture shows the 6’6” NFL star towering over Randy Moss and the rest of ESPN’screw, after Houston’s AFC Wild Card win over the Raiders.

Authentic Youth Tim Thomas Jersey I think a lot of those things are specifics that we’ve got to get to the point where the final strokes, I would say, as we get our head coach in order and all of those things. I can tell you that from the outset, what has been communicated to me is that we really want this to be a true partnership. Jed’s communicated that. Paraag has communicated that. That’s my wish.

One of the great things, and I spoke earlier, and this doesn’t ensure you success, but I can tell you, one thing from being a broadcaster, you get invited into people’s buildings and like I said, this wasn’t like I’m sitting in there taking notes, stealing institutional knowledge. But, you do sit down with head coaches. You talk with management in the places you are. And I think the one common denominator that I’ve seen when I talk to folks, in places where they have successful cultures and results, everyone’s working in the same direction. In places that are inconsistent or are consistently poor franchises, you can see it because you can feel it because people from one side are coming up and saying, Hey, if I had any players, we could get this thing going. Management is saying, Hey, if we had some guys coaching these guys.

Yankees take shots at ‘The Team in Second Place’ on Instagram

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This was a pivotal series for the Boston Red Sox. Coming into their three-game series with the New York Yankees this week, the Sox were 31-25 and just two games back of the Bronx Bombers in the American League East standings.

Musgrove will be activated Monday to start that night against the Rangers, the team said, but it remains unclear who will step into McCullers’ rotation spot Tuesday. The Astros are running out of options, with Mike Fiers the last man standing from the opening day rotation.

Not that anyone can just be penciled in to replace the likes of Keuchel and McCullers, as the Astros have seen. Houston enters Monday’s game having lost four of its last six on the heels of an 11-game winning streak. Its pitchers surrendered 37 runs across those four losses, culminating in a 12-6 beatdown of starter David Paulino and several relievers by the Angels on Sunday.
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McCullers has a 2.58 ERA in 13 starts this season, with 89 strikeouts in 76 2/3 innings. The 23-year-old saw his 2016 start late and end early due to shoulder and elbow injuries, respectively, so Houston isn’t inclined to push him too hard now, especially while sitting on a 12-game lead in the AL West.

Oh, yeah. Just a smooth, powerful left-handed swing. He’s not going to steal any bases, he’s not fleet of foot. He’s a first baseman or a DH. I don’t think you put him in the outfield, ala Justin Bour. But what a bat. My goodness, what a bat. So if he couldn’t pitch, he’d be in the conversation for the No. 1 pick because of his bat. If he couldn’t hit, he’d be in the conversation for the No. 1 pick because of his arm. And, he’s a college player who’s proven himself for three years.

Leonard Fournette: Sitting out Citrus Bowl ‘wasn’t my decision’

Former LSU running back Leonard Fournette sparked a heated debate during the college football bowl season when he announced he wouldn’t play in the team’s Dec. 31 Citrus Bowl matchup against Louisville:

Are players who do this letting their team down? Should they consider their financial future in the NFL? Will pro teams look at their decision negatively?

Well, Fournette provided another talking point for the discussion on Friday when he told NFL Now Live that it wasn’t his choice to sit out the bowl game.

“You can’t test for CTE unless you’re dead,” he added before mentioning that former Chargers linebacker Junior Seau committed suicide in 2012 but was later diagnosed with CTE.

“Junior Seau, what caused him one day to put a shot gun to his chest and pull the trigger?” Wycheck asked. “As former players, you’re like, ‘When is that going to happen to me?’ Is there a special pill I can take? Do I eat carrots? What do I do to prevent perhaps what is inevitable? That’s a stress that is on your mind daily.”

Even with the knowledge he now has on the dangers of football, Wycheck said he “wouldn’t change a thing” because “that’s the price you pay.”

The first sack was shared by Damontre Moore and Jarran Reed, who got a good inside push as he blew up Mason. The second came from a great individual effort by Frank Clark, who reached around Solder to yank Brady down with one hand.

The Ravens sacked Brady once and hit him seven times. The lone sack came on a safety blitz from Eric Weddle, who knocked running back Dion Lewis into Brady before dropping the quarterback.

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