SLAM Magazine Issue 191 profiles the hard work and fast rise of Bulls All-Star Jimmy Butler: “I Pledge Allegiance To The Grind”
Via SLAM’s Christopher Cason:
Confidence in one’s self is essentially the biggest asset a successful athlete can have.
And that power of self-belief is the exact reason that by the time you’re reading this, the ink of Jimmy Butler’s signature will be dry and affixed to a new (5 year $95M) max contract.
From an early age, the Tomball, TX, native learned to trust and rely on himself due in large part to spending some of his teenage years without a place to call home. Those experiences from those tough times, along with a Texas-sized work ethic, became pillars of his character. Those pillars are why it wasn’t that difficult for him to turn down an estimated four-year, $44 million offer from the Chicago Bulls prior to the beginning of the regular season.
Kings All-Star DeMarcus Cousins leads White Team to victory in Team USA’s training camp tuneup in advance of 2016 Olympics:
Via The Associated Press:
LAS VEGAS — There was no LeBron James or Stephen Curry.
Nor were there any signs of Carmelo Anthony, Chris Paul, Kevin Durant or James Harden.
Most important, there weren’t any injuries.
The U.S. men’s basketball team ended its minicamp with an exhibition that felt like a light-hearted pickup game, a much smoother ending than last summer, when Indiana Pacers All-Star Paul George broke his leg after crashing into a backboard stanchion.
Sacramento Kings All-Star DeMarcus Cousins scored 24 points and grabbed 11 rebounds to lead the White team to a 134-128 victory over the Blue team.
“I feel so good about these four days. … I thought our guys really responded tonight (with) a lot of effort (and) enthusiasm, they had fun,” coach Mike Krzyzewski said. “They all want to be a part of USA Basketball. Read the rest of this entry
Roger Goodell rules Tom Brady’s suspension stands after an investigation into deflated footballs reveals elaborate coverup:
Via Reuters Sports:
(Updated: Judge Overturns NFL Ruling, No Suspension)
NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell on Tuesday upheld a four-game suspension of Tom Brady for his role in deflating footballs used in the game that put the New England Patriots in the 2015 Super Bowl, saying for the first time that the star quarterback had his phone destroyed to keep it out of hands of investigators.
In the latest turn in the scandal, known as “Deflategate,” Goodell said he affirmed the suspension in part because of the new revelation that Brady made “a deliberate effort” to keep investigators from reading text messages stored on the device.
The four-time Super Bowl champion directed an assistant to destroy the cell phone on March 6. That was the same day he was due to meet with Ted Wells, an investigator hired by the league to examine allegations that Brady was complicit in a plan to tamper with the balls. The new information emerged during Brady’s 10-hour appeal hearing at the NFL’s New York headquarters on June 23.
“Rather than simply failing to cooperate, Mr. Brady made a deliberate effort to ensure that investigators would never have access to information that he had been asked to produce,” Goodell wrote in his 20-page ruling. Read the rest of this entry
2015 NBA Draft: Yahoo Sports recaps the NBA Draft’s 1st round, offering team grades for each player selected from No. 1-30:
1. Minnesota Timberwolves – Karl-Anthony Towns (PF/C, Kentucky, Fr., 19, 7-0, 248): The Towns vs. Okafor debate faded recently as NBA personnel fell in love with the versatile ex-Kentucky big man. Towns shined in the paint for the Wildcats, protecting the rim with his ability to alter shots at one end and bullying big men for low-post baskets at the other. He will never be as brilliant a back-to-the-basket scorer as Okafor, but he runs the floor well, moves more fluidly defending the perimeter and is capable of knocking down mid-range jumpers. Marc J. Spears’ grade: A+
2. Los Angeles Lakers – D’Angelo Russell PG/SG, Ohio State, Fr., 19, 6-5, 193): Once considered a tick or two below some of the elite players in his class, Russell ascended draft boards this winter thanks to a brilliant freshman season. He has the quickness and vision to run the point in the NBA yet also possesses the shooting ability and scoring instincts to thrive off ball too. By going with Russell instead of Jahlil Okafor, the Lakers keep alive the possibility of adding a free-agent big man this summer in a year when a handful of frontcourt standouts will be available. Marc J. Spears’ grade: A
Sports Illustrated’s Ben Golliver on the 2015 Golden State Warriors; From Best Record All Season To NBA World Champs:
CLEVELAND—A season in which everything always seemed to fall perfectly into place ended in perfectly charmed fashion, with the proper button being pushed at the right time and every shot falling once the championship was in reach.
The Warriors defeated the Cavaliers 105–97 in Game 6 on Tuesday to claim their first title since 1975, following up a franchise-best 67-15 regular season with a spectacular 16-5 jaunt through the playoffs. Lacking in Finals experience before it entered the series, and facing the daunting task of slowing LeBron James, Golden State was nevertheless well-prepared for this series, having faced multiple superstars earlier in the playoffs, having won matchups by playing both fast and slow, and having climbed out of a 2-1 hole against the Grizzlies in the second round.
Those experiences, coupled with Golden State’s talent-laden, healthy and unselfish roster, fueled the Warriors. Golden State coach Steve Kerr expertly drew on the lessons he learned along the way. In defending James, as in dealing with Anthony Davis and especially James Harden, Kerr used multiple defenders and regularly changed his help coverage before sticking with Andre Iguodala once the veteran wing proved he could consistently make James work hard for his numbers. Read the rest of this entry
A look at the top NBA Finals storylines & matchups including this season’s MVP Steph Curry facing former MVP LeBron James:
Via NBA dot com:
LeBron James satisfied ? Never. Not with four more wins needed to finish the story properly. Same goes for Stephen Curry.
Grinding your way to The Finals, for the fifth straight year for LeBron and for the firs time ever for Curry, is just another step on the path to bigger things … a place in history and the chance to bring a parade to streets that have either never seen one or at least haven’t seen one in decades. The goal for LeBron and the Cleveland Cavaliers has always been to crown his homecoming with a Larry O’Brien Trophy. Curry and the Warriors laid out their plans in training camp, a Larry O’Brien Trophy or bust.
So it’s fitting that the four-time MVP and the reigning KIA MVP would square off for supremacy after traveling two very different paths to get here. The Warriors looked like a lock for months, running roughshod over the league nearly all season, while the Cavaliers had to survive an early season transition period, with so many new faces in the mix, before emerging in the playoffs as the true beasts of the Eastern Conference.
Floyd Mayweather wins unanimous decision over Manny Pacquiao in a fight projected to generate over $400M in revenues:
Via The NY Times:
For nearly 20 years, boxer Floyd Mayweather Jr. has frustrated opponents in the ring with his cool calculation. He has been criticized out of the ring for his lavish lifestyle and outbursts of domestic violence. And he has navigated it all by winning habitually and becoming unapologetically rich.
Manny Pacquiao, the mop-haired scrapper from the Philippines, presented a peculiar test. Pacquiao is a left-hander with fearless guile, the next-best fighter of the generation. He was an opponent who had waited years for a match. And he was so widely popular that Mayweather, a former Olympic medalist fighting in his longtime hometown against a foreigner, was widely booed upon arrival in the ring on Saturday night and again upon departure.
But he left a winner. And he got much, much richer along the way.
In what was considered the highest-grossing bout in boxing history, Mayweather, the 38-year-old with the baby face and the unblemished professional boxing record, beat Pacquiao for the welterweight world championship with a unanimous decision. Read the rest of this entry
NBA Playoffs: Dwight Howard, James Harden Lead The Houston Rockets Past Dallas Mavs In Playoffs Opening Round
Dwight Howard and James Harden dominate 1st round series vs Mavs as Houston becomes a sleeper in Western Conference:
Via ESPN. com
HOUSTON — The owner wearing the cool sunglasses slowly got up from his courtside seat as the standing ovation began.
Leslie Alexander, who owns the Houston Rockets, shook hands with some people sitting next to him as if he’s been here before.
Well, he has. It’s just that this Rockets version of the big three as a group hadn’t escaped the first round until Tuesday night.
The Rockets eliminated the Dallas Mavericks in five games with a 103-94 victory on Tuesday, earning a berth in the second round for just the second time since 1997.
The Rockets’ big three of Kevin McHale, the coach, James Harden, the MVP candidate, and Dwight Howard, the star center, advanced after being knocked out in the first round in each of the past two seasons. Howard has been around since the 2013-14 season. Read the rest of this entry
NFL: Yahoo Sports Dan Wetzel on the troubling signs that led to the downfall and conviction of Patriots star Aaron Hernandez:
FALL RIVER, Mass. – Lesa Strachan stands a little over 5-feet tall, wears her hair short and works as an area operations manager here in the small towns of southeastern Massachusetts. She is everyone. She is no one.
She is not, for sure, rich or famous or celebrated, like Aaron Hernandez, the NFL star turned murder defendant who was standing across a Bristol County courtroom from her Wednesday morning.
Lesa Strachan was the forewoman in Hernandez’s murder case, personally selected by the judge because her intelligence and seriousness and leadership were easy to identify. As part of her job, Strachan had to rise up, look at Hernandez and read the verdict. She had to do something for perhaps the first time ever.
She had to hold Aaron Hernandez accountable for his actions.
“Guilty of murder in the first degree,” Strachan said to the court.
Moments later, Hernandez was forced by a court officer to sit down, no longer afforded the right to stand like the presumed innocent. He was just another convict now, just another prisoner, just another punk … life without parole at age 25. Read the rest of this entry
Duke freshman guards Tyus Jones & Grayson Allen deliver in the 2nd half as the Blue Devils come back to beat Wisconsin in Final:
Via The Associated Press:
INDIANAPOLIS — Call them freshmen. Please, do not call them kids.
Led by Tyus Jones and Jahlil Okafor, Duke’s talented group of youngsters outscored Wisconsin by 14 points over the final 13 minutes Monday night to grit out a 68-63 victory for the program’s fifth national title.
Okafor, the likely first pick in the NBA draft if he decides to leave, got outplayed by Badgers center Frank Kaminsky but came through like a veteran when the pressure was highest. He made two straight buckets over Kaminsky, sandwiched between a pair of 3-pointers from Jones, to help the Blue Devils (35-4) turn a one-time nine-point deficit into an eight-point lead with 1:22 left.
A furious Wisconsin rally ensued, but it came up short. Then, it was Okafor on the bottom of a rowdy, raucous dog pile — a scene very reminiscent of the last time the Final Four was Indianapolis, back in 2010 when Duke edged out Butler in another scintillating final. Read the rest of this entry