Sports Illustrated previews Superbowl XLVII, Ravens vs 49ers:
Even though the San Francisco 49ers failed to secure the NFC’s top playoff seed, their appearance in the Super Bowl comes as no surprise to most people. The Ravens, on the other hand, limped into the playoffs as losers of four of their last five regular season games and faced what looked like an impossible road to New Orleans.
Three weeks later, here we are.
The Ravens will be making their first Super Bowl appearance since winning it all during the 2000 season. The 49ers have not competed on the NFL’s biggest stage since the 1994 campaign — a drought during which 12 other NFC teams played for the Lombardi.
Neither team has lost in the Super Bowl: San Francisco is 5-0, and the Ravens victorious in that lone trip.
Stewart Mandel on College Football’s Newest Dynasty, Nick Saban’s Alabama Roll Tide:
MIAMI GARDENS, Fla. — College football’s overlords need to hold an intervention, pronto, because this is becoming a serious problem. It’s clear now that no one can possibly hang with Alabama in a BCS championship game. And that’s an issue for everybody else, seeing as neither Nick Saban nor most of his marquee players seem interested in leaving Tuscaloosa anytime soon.
As the confetti poured down behind them at Sun Life Stadium, and as they tried to get changed in the locker room, Alabama’s players found themselves answering the same question over and over from reporters following their 42-14 demolition of Notre Dame on Monday: Having won three of the past four BCS championships, are the Crimson Tide a dynasty?
ESPN Insider’s Kevin Pelton on the road ahead for the sub par Brooklyn Nets post Avery Johnson:
Via ESPN Insider: Every NBA coach operates with a clock hanging over his head that counts down to his eventual departure — usually not by choice. Such is the nature of a league where only one coach (San Antonio’s Gregg Popovich) has been with the same team for more than a decade. Some clocks tick faster than others, however, and whoever replaces Avery Johnson at the helm of the Brooklyn Nets doesn’t figure to have much time to spare.
There were justifications for making a change after the Nets followed their impressive 11-4 start with a 3-10 record in December. Deron Williams’ criticism of his coach’s offense surely didn’t help Johnson’s cause, and Johnson was never able to get his team’s defense playing at even an average level after building a reputation as a defensive specialist as coach of the Dallas Mavericks. Ultimately, Johnson’s demise was about expectations. Brooklyn ownership didn’t add more than $330 million in future payroll this past summer in order to go .500.
In their fourth epic battle, Manny Pacquiao gets knocked out by Juan Manuel Marquez at MGM Grand in Las Vegas:
LAS VEGAS (AP) — No need for Juan Manuel Marquez to impress the judges. No need for the referee to count to 10.
Marquez took care of all of his business Saturday night with a thunderous right hand that left Manny Pacquiao face first on the canvas with his remarkable career in question.
Unable to win a decision in their first three fights, Marquez won the old-fashioned way with a huge right hand that put Pacquiao down for the second time in the fight at 2:59 of the sixth round.
Referee Kenny Bayless never bothered to count as Marquez leaped into his handlers’ arms in celebration and Pacquiao’s wife broke into tears at ringside.
“I threw a perfect punch,” Marquez said. “I knew Manny could knock me out at any time.”
SI’s Ian Thomsen on the mutual respect and bond between under rated Spurs PG Tony Parker and his coach Greg Popovich:
Some NBA coaches wouldn’t know how to say it. Some NBA stars wouldn’t know how to listen. Those people have nothing in common with Gregg Popovich and Tony Parker.
“Pop, he was like, ‘Are you going to shoot sometimes during the season?’ ” Parker recalled. “He was just messing with me. He was telling me he wanted me to be more aggressive.”
Parker had been shooting poorly as San Antonio headed out last week on a six-game trip through the East. Popovich knew what to say and how to say it: He has been coaching Parker for 12 seasons and knows how to criticize his point guard without doing harm to their relationship. Over the first four games of that road trip — all won by the Spurs — Parker was shooting 61.9 percent and averaging 26.5 points. The relationship with his coach continues to grow.
The Lakers pass on re-hiring coach Phil Jackson, Select Mike D’Antoni in hopes of resurrecting their promising season:
Via David Aldridge NBA.com:
Showtime, or a veritable facsimile thereof, won.
In a stunning development late Sunday night, the Los Angeles Lakers opted to sign former Knicks and Suns coach Mike D’Antoni to a four-year deal as their next coach, ending negotiations with 11-time NBA champion coach Phil Jackson. He was believed to be the prohibitive favorite to replaceMike Brown, who was fired last Friday.
D’Antoni and former Lakers, Blazers, Bucks and Clippers coach Mike Dunleavy interviewed with the Lakers over the weekend. But they were fallbacks, interviews done just in case the Lakers, somehow, could not reach a deal with the 67-year-old Jackson, who’d won five titles in Los Angeles during two stints as head coach.
LA Times Gary Klein on the explosive Oregon Ducks 62-51 victory over USC behind RB Kenjon Barner’s record setting day:
The numbers didn’t lie.
Not before the game and certainly not after.
Second-ranked Oregon rolled into the Coliseum on Saturday with the nation’s highest-scoring offense.
The Ducks rolled out with a 62-51 victory over staggering USC, setting a slew of opponent records in the process.
“They did their thing,” Trojans safety T.J. McDonald said. “We didn’t.”
With running back Kenjon Barner rushing for 321 yards and five touchdowns, Oregon amassed 730 yards en route to a victory that improved the Ducks’ record to 9-0 and kept them in the race for a berth in the Bowl Championship Series title game.
Meanwhile, USC surrendered the most points and yards in its history and fell to 6-3 overall and 4-3 in the Pac-12 Conference.
“They played the way they usually play,” USC linebacker Hayes Pullard said. “Real fast.”
Unable to reach a new extension w/ James Harden, OKC Thunder trade Harden to Houston for Kevin Martin, Jeremy Lamb & Picks:
Via John Hollinger of ESPN Insider:
I gotta admit, I hadn’t seen this endgame coming.
I thought if the Oklahoma City Thunder couldn’t agree to a below-market extension with James Harden, they’d do one of three things:
(1) They’d re-sign him for the max after the season and amnesty Kendrick Perkins, or (2) They’d re-sign him for the max after the season and trade Russell Westbrook, or (3) They’d sign-and-trade him after the season.
Why that? Because all those avenues had the benefit of giving the Thunder another year of contending for a title with their star trio of Harden, Westbrook and Kevin Durant.
Instead, they opted to pull the plug now. Oklahoma City traded Harden to Houston Saturday night, along with Cole Aldrich, Daequan Cook and Lazar Hayward, in return for Kevin Martin, Jeremy Lamb, two first-round picks. Read the rest of this entry
Giants dominate Tigers, Sweep World Series 4-0, Sandoval MVP:
Way back in spring training, Hunter Pence hit a wicked grounder that smacked Miguel Cabrera in the face. A few months later, Pablo Sandoval launched a bases-loaded triple off Justin Verlander in the All-Star game.
Here they all are again, with everything at stake.
Tigers-Giants in the World Series.
A driven team from Detroit, loaded with power bats and arms, guided by wily Jim Leyland and coming off an impressive sweep of the Yankees. A surging squad from San Francisco, boosted by its rotation and talented catcher Buster Posey, fresh from a Game 7 win over defending champion St. Louis.
A Triple Crown winner in Cabrera vs. a perfect game pitcher in Matt Cain. The Motor City vs. the City by the Bay, starting with Game 1 on Wednesday.
Cyclist Lance Armstrong Exposed; Loses All His Endorsements Over Doping Scandal, Including Nike Partnership
Portland Business Journal’s Erik Siemers on the Lance Armstrong fallout and it’s impact on Nike and the Livestrong Foundation:
A week ago, as the doping evidence against Lance Armstrong reached its summit, Nike Inc. remained steadfast in its support for the cycling legend.
On Wednesday, it changed its mind.
What happened in the last week remains an open question. But it would be easy to make a business case that Nike could have dumped Armstrong months, if not years, ago.
Cycling isn’t one of the brand’s major sports categories — being just a fraction of the size of, say, football — nor should it be. Cycling apparel and footwear, according to analysts, don’t generate enough revenue to justify the high production cost.
Armstrong’s value to the brand was in his prowess.
Nike cultivates athletes it believes are at the pinnacle of their sport — the best of the best. Its ties to cycling, therefore, were predicated not on the sport, but Armstrong’s status as a seven-time Tour de France winner and cycling’s most dominant athlete.
Once he was retired, though, Armstrong became a symbol of past greatness.