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2 hours ago

Conor McGregor, Dustin Poirier make weight for UFC 257

ABU DHABI, United Arab Emirates -- A nontitle UFC lightweight rematch between Conor McGregor and Dustin Poirier is official for UFC 257 on Saturday, as both fighters successfully made weight during Friday's weigh-in. McGregor (22-4), a former undisputed champion at lightweight, weighed in at 155 pounds. Poirier (26-6), who won an interim lightweight championship in 2019, tipped the scales at 156. The contest headlines UFC 257 on Saturday inside Etihad Arena. This will mark the second contest between the two lightweights. The first took place in 2014 and at the 145-pound featherweight limit. McGregor knocked out Poirier just 1:46 into the bout with his infamous left hand. That would actually be Poirier's final fight at featherweight, as he moved up to the lightweight division in his next bout. McGregor has competed at lightweight only twice in his UFC career. He won the belt in his UFC lightweight debut in late 2016 by knocking out then-champion Eddie...
2 hours ago
January 22

Steve Kerr: Officials admit Draymond Green's ejection for yelling at James Wiseman was mistake

SAN FRANCISCO --  Golden State Warriors forward  Draymond Green was mistakenly ejected late in the second quarter of Thursday night's 119-104 loss to the  New York Knicks after yelling at rookie teammate James Wiseman. Warriors coach Steve Kerr said after the game that Ben Taylor -- the game's crew chief -- admitted at halftime that second-year official John Butler thought Green was yelling at him and made a mistake by giving the forward his second technical foul.  Green, who picked up his first technical of the game with 4 minutes, 2 seconds left in the first quarter after arguing too long with the officials, received his second with 1:04 left in the second quarter after turning the ball over on a pass directed to Wiseman. On his way back down the floor, Green's voice boomed through a near-empty Chase Center as he appeared to air out his frustration at the rookie. When the whistle was blown and Green was assessed his second technical,...
January 22
January 22

Golden State Warriors' Draymond Green ejected after appearing to yell at James Wiseman

SAN FRANCISCO -- Golden State Warriors forward Draymond Green was ejected from Thursday night's 119-104 loss to the  New York Knicks after appearing to yell at rookie teammate James Wiseman. Green, who picked up his first technical of the game with 4 minutes, 2 seconds left in the first quarter after arguing too long with the officials, received his second technical with 1:04 left in the second quarter after turning the ball over on a pass directed to Wiseman. On his way back down the floor, Green's voice boomed through a near-empty Chase Center as he appeared to be airing out his frustration at the rookie. When the whistle was blown and Green was assessed his second technical, Warriors coach Steve Kerr and several members of his staff tried to explain to the officiating crew that Green's ire was directed at the rookie center. But after listening to Green bark at various points throughout the night, hearing his frustration one more time apparently...
January 22
January 21

Source: Washington's Jennifer King to make history again as first Black woman to be full-time NFL coach

The Washington Football Team will promote Jennifer King to a full-time offensive assistant, a source confirmed to ESPN, making her the first Black woman to be a full-time coach in the NFL.  King spent this past season as a full-time intern, working with running backs coach Randy Jordan. Washington's running backs received strong production from third-down back J.D. McKissic, who caught a career-best 80 passes for 589 yards and rushed 85 times for 365. Also, rookie Antonio Gibson rushed for 795 yards and 11 touchdowns as he transitioned from playing mostly receiver in college. King also worked as an intern for two years under coach Ron Rivera when he was in Carolina, in 2018 and '19. She also was an assistant receivers coach for the Arizona Hotshots of the Alliance of American Football. King was an offensive assistant at Dartmouth College in 2019 before joining Washington last offseason. She was a regular participant in the NFL's coaching clinics from 2015...
January 21
January 21

Sources: Cleveland Cavaliers trading Kevin Porter Jr. to Houston Rockets

The Cleveland Cavaliers have agreed to trade 2019 first-round pick Kevin Porter Jr. to the Houston Rockets for a heavily protected future second-round pick, sources told ESPN. The pick is top-55 protected, meaning it is likely never to convey, sources said. The Rockets are taking on Porter, a 6-foot-4 wing who was the 30th overall pick in the 2019 draft, as a reclamation project after personal issues have prevented him from playing this season. Porter, 20, averaged 10.0 points, 3.2 rebounds and 2.2 assists during a promising rookie year last season.  Sources told ESPN's Brian Windhorst that the Cavaliers decided to trade or waive Porter after he had a screaming match with team officials last Friday night, when he attended his first game of the season. Porter was upset that his locker had been moved to an auxiliary area after his old locker was given to Taurean Prince, who arrived along with Jarrett Allen in the four-team James Harden...
January 21
January 21

Source: Washington's Jennifer King makes history again as first Black woman to be full-time NFL coach

The Washington Football Team will promote Jennifer King to a full-time offensive assistant, a source confirmed to ESPN, making her the first Black woman to be a full-time coach in the NFL.  King spent this past season as a full-time intern, working with running backs coach Randy Jordan. Washington's running backs received strong production from third-down back J.D. McKissic, who caught a career-best 80 passes for 589 yards and rushed 85 times for 365. Also, rookie Antonio Gibson rushed for 795 yards and 11 touchdowns as he transitioned from playing mostly receiver in college. King also worked as an intern for two years under coach Ron Rivera when he was in Carolina, in 2018 and '19. She also was an assistant receivers coach for the Arizona Hotshots of the Alliance of American Football. King was an offensive assistant at Dartmouth College in 2019 before joining Washington last offseason. She was a regular participant in the NFL's coaching clinics from 2015...
January 21
January 21

Source: Cleveland Cavaliers trading Kevin Porter Jr. to Houston Rockets for second-round pick

The Houston Rockets are acquiring Cleveland Cavaliers wing Kevin Porter Jr. for a future protected second-round pick, a source told ESPN's Adrian Wojnarowski. Cleveland was looking to trade Porter following an incident last week that involved a screaming match with team officials, sources confirmed to ESPN.   Porter hasn't played for Cleveland this season and has largely been away from the team for what has been termed personal reasons. He was working his way back and attended his first game Friday night when the Cavs beat the New York Knicks. That night, however, he had a screaming match with team officials after his locker was moved to an auxiliary area to accommodate new teammate Taurean Prince, who arrived from the Brooklyn Nets with Jarrett Allen in a trade last week. After the episode, Porter was told to clean out his locker and other members of the roster were informed he'd no longer be on the team, sources...
January 21
January 21

Amid cancellation chatter, IOC and Tokyo Olympics organizers 'focused on hosting'

TOKYO -- IOC president Thomas Bach and local organizers are pushing back against reports that the postponed Tokyo Olympics will be canceled. Now set to open July 23, the Tokyo Games were postponed 10 months ago at the outbreak of the coronavirus pandemic, and now the event appears threatened again. The Times of London reported on Thursday that the games will have to be canceled. It quoted an unidentified senior member of the ruling government coalition. "No one wants to be the first to say so but the consensus is that it's too difficult," the source said. "Personally, I don't think it's going to happen." In a statement, the local organizing committee did not address directly The Times story, but said the Olympics were going forward and had the support of Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga. "All our delivery partners including the national government, the Tokyo Metropolitan Government, Tokyo 2020 Organizing Committee, the IOC and the IPC [International Paralympic Committee]...
January 21
January 21

Conor McGregor: Will fight seven times in next 18 months 'if they line me up'

Conor McGregor went into last year with the desire to fight at least three times before the calendar turned to 2021. Now, the former UFC double champion has even more ambitious goals: seven fights in the next 18 months, he said Thursday on Stephen A's World. "The truth is the fight game will never get rid of me," McGregor told Stephen A. Smith on the ESPN+ program. "Conor McGregor will be here until the day I go out. So that's it. If they line me up, I'll get about seven fights in the next year and a half. That's what I want." McGregor had entered 2020 with hopes of having a "season" of fights, beginning with his knockout victory over  Donald Cerrone that January. His plans for multiple bouts were derailed, however, by the coronavirus pandemic as well as a dispute with the UFC and a short-lived retirement.  McGregor's latest plan starts Saturday against Dustin Poirier in the main event of UFC 257 in Abu Dhabi. "The Notorious" wants to best his historic run in the...
January 21
January 21

Notre Dame football placed on probation for one year over recruiting violations

The NCAA placed Notre Dame's football program on probation for one year on Thursday, after the sides agreed that a former assistant coach had impermissible off-campus recruiting contact with a high school player in January 2019. Sources told ESPN on Thursday that those involved were former cornerbacks coach Todd Lyght and linebacker  Sav'ell Smalls of Garfield High School in Seattle. Lyght, an All-America cornerback at Notre Dame in 1989, was fired in January 2020.  Smalls, the No. 15 prospect in the 2020 ESPN 300, signed with Washington. He was involved in similar infractions cases involving Florida's Dan Mullen and Texas A&M's Jimbo Fisher, which led to the head coaches receiving show causes last year for improper recruiting contact. The Gators and Aggies were also placed on probation for one year and were no longer permitted to continue recruiting Smalls. The NCAA found that Notre Dame head coach Brian Kelly also had impermissible...
January 21
January 21

Minnesota Vikings offensive coordinator Gary Kubiak, 59, retires from NFL again

MINNEAPOLIS -- The Minnesota Vikings will soon begin searching for their sixth offensive coordinator since 2014. Gary Kubiak, who has been with the franchise since 2019 and spent last season as the Vikings' offensive coordinator, announced his retirement from the NFL on Thursday after 36 seasons as a coach and player. "I've been on a football field for most of my life, and now I look forward to stepping away from the game and enjoying more time with my family and friends," Kubiak said in a statement. "I offer my sincere thanks to the owners and fans of the Minnesota Vikings, Denver Broncos, Baltimore Ravens, Houston Texans and San Francisco 49ers for giving me opportunities to be a part of this great game and for treating me and my family so well over the years. "I'll miss the competition, the planning, game days and being part of a team. But, more than anything, I'll cherish the friendships I've made along the way with players, coaches and...
January 21
January 21

Philadelphia Eagles hiring Nick Sirianni as head coach

PHILADELPHIA -- The Eagles are hiring Indianapolis Colts offensive coordinator Nick Sirianni as their next head coach, executive vice president Howie Roseman told ESPN's Sal Paolantonio on Thursday. Sirianni, 39, had an extensive interview for the head-coaching job that started Tuesday and reportedly spilled over to the next day. There was a sense in league circles that the race had narrowed to two candidates --  New England Patriots offensive coordinator Josh McDaniels and Sirianni, who has been the Colts' coordinator for three seasons. Philadelphia ended up hiring the less-heralded name but one that continued to gain steam inside the Eagles organization the more it called around about him. The Eagles' coaching search was done with the quarterback situation -- Carson Wentz, in particular -- in mind. After firing Doug Pederson, whose relationship with Wentz had soured, Eagles owner Jeffrey Lurie said: "It behooves us as a team with a new coach, a...
January 21
January 21

Ex-Washington QB Dwayne Haskins signs on with Pittsburgh Steelers

PITTSBURGH -- Dwayne Haskins, a first-round draft pick in 2019, signed a reserve/future contract with the Pittsburgh Steelers on Thursday, the team announced.  The sides met earlier Thursday before Haskins officially signed the deal.  The quarterback was released by the Washington Football Team less than a month ago, a day after he was benched in a loss to the Carolina Panthers. He had been photographed without a mask at his girlfriend's birthday party following a loss to the  Seattle Seahawks. He was fined $40,000 for his second breach of the COVID-19 protocols and lost his captaincy. He still started against the Panthers but played poorly and was benched. Haskins was then demoted in favor of  Taylor Heinicke, who was signed to Washington's practice squad less than a month earlier. Haskins was then abruptly released the day after the loss to Carolina. "I told him that I believe it benefits both parties that we go our separate ways,"...
January 21
January 21

Philadelphia Eagles hiring Nick Sirianni as head coach, sources say

PHILADELPHIA -- The Eagles are hiring Indianapolis Colts offensive coordinator Nick Sirianni as their next head coach, sources told ESPN's Adam Schefter on Thursday. Sirianni, 39, had an extensive interview for the head-coaching job that started Tuesday and reportedly spilled over to the next day. There was a sense in league circles that the race had narrowed to two candidates --  New England Patriots offensive coordinator Josh McDaniels and Sirianni, who has been the Colts' coordinator for three seasons. Philadelphia ended up hiring the less-heralded name but one who continued to gain steam inside the Eagles organization the more they called around about him. The Eagles coaching search was done with the quarterback situation -- Carson Wentz, in particular -- in mind. After firing Doug Pederson, whose relationship with Wentz had soured, Eagles owner Jeffrey Lurie said: "It behooves us as a team with a new coach, a new coaching staff, to be able to...
January 21
January 21

Notre Dame placed on probation for one year over recruiting violations

The NCAA placed Notre Dame's football program on probation for one year on Thursday, after the sides agreed that a former assistant coach had impermissible off-campus recruiting contact with a high school player in January 2019. The NCAA didn't name the Irish assistant or the prospect, but sources told ESPN on Thursday that it is former cornerbacks coach Todd Lyght and linebacker Sav'ell Smalls of Garfield High School in Seattle. Lyght, an All-American cornerback at Notre Dame in 1989, didn't return to Kelly's staff for the 2020 season. Smalls, the No. 15 prospect in the 2020 ESPN 300, signed with Washington. He was involved in similar infractions cases involving Florida's Dan Mullen and Texas A&M's Jimbo Fisher, which led to the head coaches receiving show causes last year for improper recruiting contact. The Gators and Aggies were also placed on probation for one year and were no longer permitted to continue recruiting Smalls. The NCAA found that Brian Kelly also had...
January 21
January 21

Dan Campbell references kneecap biting, 'The Big Lebowski' in entertaining introduction as Detroit Lions coach

New Detroit Lions coach Dan Campbell, in a passionate, emotional, intense and sometimes funny hourlong news conference, wove his way through talking about biting kneecaps to welcoming tourists to referencing "The Big Lebowski" as he introduced himself to his new city and team. If there were any questions about the type of passion Lions owner Sheila Ford Hamp and team president Rod Wood were looking for in their next head coach, it was evident from the moment Campbell stepped to the microphone to the moment he left it. Campbell gave a 19-minute opening statement, provided direct answers on a multitude of topics and expressed exactly what type of team he wanted -- one that mirrors the city he once played for. "This place has been kicked. It's been battered. It's been bruised. And I could sit up here and give you coachspeak all day long," Campbell said Thursday. "I can give you, 'Hey, we're going to win this weekend.' None of that matters, and you guys don't want to hear it...
January 21
January 21

Source: Ex-Washington QB Dwayne Haskins agrees with Pittsburgh Steelers

PITTSBURGH -- Dwayne Haskins, a first-round draft pick in 2019, has agreed to a one-year contract with the Pittsburgh Steelers after meeting with the team Thursday, a source told ESPN's Adam Schefter. The quarterback was released by the Washington Football Team less than a month ago, a day after he was benched in a loss to the Carolina Panthers. He had been photographed without a mask at his girlfriend's birthday party following a loss to Seattle Seahawks. He was fined $40,000 for his second breach of the COVID-19 protocols and lost his captaincy. He still started against the Panthers but played poorly and was benched. Haskins was then demoted in favor of a player, Taylor Heinicke, who signed to Washington's practice squad less than a month earlier. Haskins was then abruptly released the day after the loss to Carolina. "I told him that I believe it benefits both parties that we go our separate ways," Washington coach Ron Rivera said in a statement...
January 21
January 21

Ted Thompson, Green Bay Packers GM who picked Aaron Rodgers in NFL draft, won Super Bowl XLV, dies at 68

GREEN BAY, Wis. -- Former Packers general manager Ted Thompson -- who drafted Aaron Rodgers, traded away Brett Favre and built the team that won Super Bowl XLV -- died Wednesday, according to the team. He was 68. Thompson died at his home in Texas, the team said in a release. "Ted was a man of great character and integrity who cared deeply for his family and friends," current Packers general manager Brian Gutekunst said in a statement. "He was honest and hard-working. He valued his scouts and always did what he felt was right for the Packers organization. "I learned a great deal from Ted and will always be appreciative for the opportunity he gave me. He was a football man and a scout's scout, but more importantly, he was a very special person who will be greatly missed." Along with 10 seasons as a player in the NFL with the Houston Oilers (1975 to 1984), Thompson served as Packers general manager from 2005 to 2017. The Packers moved him into a consultant role for...
January 21
January 21

Chicago Cubs' Kris Bryant not having as much fun playing baseball as before

After intimating as much over the past year or so, Chicago Cubs third baseman Kris Bryant admitted he isn't having as much fun playing baseball as he used to. Bryant, 29, spoke to Red Line Radio, a Barstool podcast, and was asked if there was joy for him on the field. "At times, no," Bryant responded. "It really got to me sometimes. The stuff I was hearing. The first trade rumors [in 2018] that started to pop up really got to me. I find myself [thinking], 'Man, is this even fun anymore? Why did I start playing this game?' Because it was fun. "There's a lot of other stuff involved. You make a ton of money and fame and all this. You have to get yourself back to why I started playing." Bryant is set to become a free agent after next season after settling on a contract with the Cubs for $19.5 million for 2021. He's been the subject of trade rumors, as he and the team haven't been able to come to an agreement on a longer-term deal. He's also heard criticism of his...
January 21
January 21

Memphis Grizzlies' next three games postponed as NBA adjusts handling of COVID-19 scenarios, sources say

The NBA's postponement of three consecutive Memphis Grizzlies games marks an evolution in the league's handling of COVID-19 scenarios within teams, essentially parking a team and taking it out of circulation once a roster has been exposed to the virus, sources told ESPN on Thursday. In previous instances, the league has allowed teams to isolate positive players and sideline others in contact tracing believed to have been in close proximity to infected individuals, yet still allowed teams to proceed with games if they had eight eligible players. While the Grizzlies don't have several individuals placed in the league's health and safety protocols, the NBA has temporarily shut them down in a way similar to how the NFL closed team practice facilities during game weeks to keep players and staff away and limit spread of the virus. The NBA postponed four consecutive games for Memphis -- including games Wednesday and Friday in Portland and Sunday and Monday in ...
January 21
January 21

Ted Thompson, Green Bay Packers GM who drafted Aaron Rodgers, won Super Bowl XLV, dies at 68

GREEN BAY, Wis. -- Former Packers general manager Ted Thompson -- who drafted Aaron Rodgers, traded away Brett Favre and built the team that won Super Bowl XLV -- has died, according to coach Matt LaFleur. He was 68. Thompson, who played 10 seasons in the NFL with the Houston Oilers (1975-84), served as Packers general manager from 2005 to 2017. The Packers moved him into a consultant role for the 2018 season in part because of his declining health. In May 2019, after he was inducted into the Packers' hall of fame, Thompson announced that he was suffering from an autonomic disorder, a condition that causes weakness and cognitive issues. Packers president Mark Murphy did not cite Thompson's health as a reason for the decision to remove him as general manager immediately after the 2017 season. Thompson said at the time of his announcement that his doctors did not believe his condition "fit the profile of someone suffering from chronic traumatic encephalopathy." "Our...
January 21
January 21

Memphis Grizzlies' next three games postponed as NBA adjusts handling of COVID-19 exposures, sources say

The NBA's postponement of three consecutive Memphis Grizzlies games mark an evolution in the how the league's handling of COVID-19 scenarios within teams, essentially parking a team and taking them out of circulation once a roster has been exposed to the virus, sources told ESPN on Thursday. In previous instances, the league has allowed teams to isolate positive players and sideline others in contact tracing believed to have been in close proximity to infected individuals -- yet still allowed teams to proceed with games if they had eight eligible players. While the Grizzlies don't have several individuals placed into the league's Health and Safety Protocols, the NBA's temporarily shut them down in a way to similar to how the NFL closed team practice facilities during game weeks to keep players and staff away and limited exposure to spread. The NBA postponed four consecutive games for Memphis -- including games Wednesday and Friday in Portland, and games Sunday and...
January 21
January 21

Chicago Cubs' Kris Bryant not having as much fun as before

After intimating as much over the last year or so, Chicago Cubs third baseman Kris Bryant admitted he isn't having as much fun playing baseball as he used to. Bryant, 29, spoke to Red Line Radio, a Barstool podcast, and was asked if there was joy for him on the field. "At times, no," Bryant responded. "It really got to me sometimes. The stuff I was hearing. The first trade rumors [in 2018] that started to pop up really got to me. I find myself [thinking], 'Man is this even fun anymore? Why did I start playing this game?' Because it was fun. "There's a lot of other stuff involved. You make a ton of money and fame and all this. You have to get yourself back to why I started playing." Bryant is set to become a free agent after next season after settling on a contract with the Cubs for $19.5 million for 2021. He's been the subject of trade rumors as he and the team haven't been able to come to an agreement on a longer-term deal. He's also heard criticism of his play,...
January 21
January 21

Conor McGregor: 'The war is not over' with Khabib Nurmagomedov

Conor McGregor still has a Khabib Nurmagomedov rematch on his mind, though he acknowledges that the chances of it happening have greatly diminished. The former UFC double champion said Thursday at the UFC 257 news conference that he considers there to be a great deal of unfinished business between himself and Nurmagomedov. But if Nurmagomedov wants to retire, McGregor said he'll have no choice but to move forward. Nurmagomedov's father and head coach, Abdulmanap, died last summer due to complications from COVID-19. Nurmagomedov, the current UFC lightweight champion, announced his retirement following a title defense over Justin Gaethje at UFC 254 in October. He has mostly stuck to the position that he has retired in interviews since then, though he has left a small window open for a return. "It's a tough business," McGregor said. "Things have gone on in his personal life. I don't wish him any harm. Like I said, it was in 2018. A lot of time has passed. The world...
January 21
January 21

Philadelphia 76ers' Joel Embiid scoffs at Marcus Smart's claim he 'flails' for calls

After Philadelphia 76ers star Joel Embiid wore out a path to the free throw line in a 117-109 victory over the Boston Celtics on Wednesday night, Celtics guard Marcus Smart expressed his displeasure with the way the game was officiated. Embiid made and took more free throws than the Celtics did as a team, going 17-of-21 from the line compared with 13-of-20 for Boston. The Sixers finished 36-of-45 as a team. "Can't beat that," Smart said. "Hard to win that way." It's hard to win, period, when Embiid -- who finished with 42 points, 10 rebounds, 2 assists and 2 steals -- plays like he did against Boston, as he continued to make his case to be firmly in the running for the league's MVP award through the first month of the season. Regardless of which defender was thrown at him -- be it Tristan Thompson, who started, or Daniel Theis, who closed -- Embiid had his way, scoring in double figures in each of the first three quarters...
January 21
January 20

Henry To'o To'o among 4 Tennessee football players to enter portal after Jeremy Pruitt firing

Linebacker Henry To'o To'o, a former SEC All-Freshman selection who started 22 games over the past two seasons, and three other Tennessee football players entered the transfer portal on Wednesday. Running back Eric Gray, linebacker Quavaris Crouch and offensive lineman Jahmir Johnson also entered the portal. This comes two days after head coach Jeremy Pruitt was fired amid an investigation into what UT chancellor Donde Plowman said were "serious NCAA rules violations." Assistant coaches Brian Niedermeyer and Shelton Felton also were fired, along with four members of the on-campus football recruiting staff, the director and assistant director of football player personnel and a football analyst/quality control coach. Kevin Steele, who was hired as an assistant coach on Jan. 12, was named interim head coach after Pruitt's firing. To'o To'o, a sophomore, started all 10 games this past season and led the team with 76 tackles and 10 tackles for...
January 20
January 20

NBA postpones sixth consecutive game for the Washington Wizards

The NBA postponed Friday's Washington Wizards- Milwaukee Bucks game not long after a concerned Bradley Beal said the Wizards were "fighting the league" on playing the game with only eight players available and six others sidelined by the league's health and safety protocol. It's the 17th NBA game postponed this season because of the league's health and safety protocols and the sixth consecutive Wizards game to be called off. On Wednesday, the league cited the number of unavailable players for the Wizards, contact tracing for other players on Washington's roster and the lack of practice time the team had before the scheduled game. After a nine-day pause because of a coronavirus outbreak within the team, the Wizards were cleared to return to practice Wednesday evening. But the team had only eight players available and basically did light shooting, according to coach Scott Brooks. The Wizards were extremely concerned about playing in a game with not...
January 20
January 20

Bradley Beal says short-handed Washington Wizards 'fighting the league' on playing Friday

Bradley Beal said the Washington Wizards are "fighting the league" on playing Friday against the Milwaukee Bucks with only eight players available and six Wizards sidelined by the NBA's health and safety protocol. After a nine-day pause because of a coronavirus outbreak within the team that led to the postponement of five games, the Wizards were finally cleared to return to practice Wednesday evening. But the team had only eight players available and basically did light shooting, according to coach Scott Brooks. "We weren't able to get into a gym for a week," said Beal, whose team hasn't played since Jan. 11 against the Phoenix Suns. "That alters guys' rhythm, shape -- that is just like a recipe for injury, honestly. I think we are fighting the league on it." With a lack of healthy bodies and little conditioning, Beal said that he and Russell Westbrook planned to talk to Michele Roberts, the National Basketball Players Association executive...
January 20
January 20

Brooklyn Nets' Kyrie Irving returns, scores 37 points in double-overtime loss to Cleveland Cavaliers

CLEVELAND -- Two quarters of disjointed play, the grind of double overtime and a shooting barrage from Cleveland Cavaliers guard Collin Sexton proved to be too much for even the Brooklyn Nets' Big Three to overcome. On Wednesday -- in Kevin Durant, James Harden and Kyrie Irving's first game together, and Irving's first game in over two weeks -- the Nets lost to the Cavaliers 147-135. Durant scored a team-high 38 points, and Irving added 37. Harden finished with 21 points, 12 assists and 10 rebounds. "It felt right," Durant said of playing with Harden and Irving. "Felt perfect, felt like we belong together. It felt like just joining together is going to be fun. It was a tough start, especially it was an up-and-down game for us." A win, Durant admitted, would have been more ideal. Brooklyn's issues weren't on the offensive end, but the Nets had visible kinks to work through on defense. They didn't have an answer for Sexton...
January 20
January 20

Larry Scott's 11-year run as Pac-12 commissioner to end in June

Larry Scott's 11-year run as Pac-12 commissioner will end in June, the conference announced Wednesday night. In a statement, the conference said Scott will remain on the job until June 30 and assist in the transition. His current contract was set to expire in June 2022. "We appreciate Larry's pioneering efforts in growing the conference by adding new competitive university programs and accelerating the Pac-12 to television network parity with the other conferences," said University of Oregon president Michael Schill, the chair of Pac-12 CEO Group. "At one point, our television agreement was the most lucrative in the nation, and the debut of the Pac-12 Network helped deliver our championship brand to U.S. and global markets on traditional and digital platforms. "That said, the intercollegiate athletics marketplace doesn't remain static, and now is a good time to bring in a new leader who will help us develop our go-forward strategy." An executive committee that includes...
January 20
January 20

Sources: Larry Scott out as Pac-12 commissioner

Larry Scott is out as the Pac-12 commissioner, with the sides reaching the decision Wednesday night, sources confirmed to ESPN. Sports Business Journal first reported the decision. 
January 20
January 20

Henry To'o To'o among 4 Tennessee players to enter portal after Jeremy Pruitt firing

Linebacker Henry To'o To'o, a former SEC All-Freshman selection who started 22 games the past two seasons, and three other Tennessee players entered the transfer portal on Wednesday. Running back Eric Gray, linebacker Quavaris Crouch and offensive lineman Jahmir Johnson also entered the portal. This comes two days after head coach Jeremy Pruitt was fired amid an investigation into what UT chancellor Donde Plowman said were "serious NCAA rules violations." Assistant coaches Brian Niedermeyer and Shelton Felton also were fired, along with four members of the on-campus football recruiting staff, the director and assistant director of football player personnel and a football analyst/quality control coach. Kevin Steele, who was hired as an assistant coach on Jan. 12, was named interim coach after Pruitt's firing. To'o To'o, a sophomore, started all 10 games this past season and led the team with 76 tackles and 10 tackles for loss. A former...
January 20
January 20

Alex Ovechkin, 3 others on COVID-19 absence list as NHL fines Washington Capitals $100K for violations of protocols

Washington Capitals star Alex Ovechkin and three teammates were placed on the NHL's COVID-19 protocol-related absences list on Wednesday, as the league fined the team $100,000 for a violation of health and safety protocols. Ovechkin, center Evgeny Kuznetsov, defenseman Dmitry Orlov and goaltender Ilya Samsonov were all added to the daily list of players who are "unavailable to play or practice, in accordance with the league's COVID protocols." This doesn't mean they've all tested positive for COVID-19, as players can end up on the list for reasons ranging from a positive test to "required quarantine as a high-risk close contact." The NHL fined the Capitals for "social interactions among team members who were in close contact and who were not wearing face coverings." The players were in violation of NHL safety protocols for grouping together in a hotel room. "Our training staff has worked extremely hard to create a safe environment for our players...
January 20
January 20

Green Bay Packers QB Aaron Rodgers not feeling extra pressure, says his future is 'beautiful mystery'

GREEN BAY, Wis. -- Everyone else might be wondering how many chances Aaron Rodgers will get at a Super Bowl, but the Packers quarterback says he's not one of them. Just days away from his fifth NFC Championship Game -- and his fourth since his lone Super Bowl appearance 10 years ago -- Rodgers insisted that he's not looking at Sunday's game against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers as a best last-chance scenario. Not even at age 37 and with his possible eventual replacement now on the roster. "I'm always just trying to stay present, especially this year as much as anything, and enjoy the moments," Rodgers said Wednesday. "I hope there's more opportunities, but I don't know. I mean, I really don't. That stuff is out of my control. My future is a beautiful mystery I think. The present is such a gift to be able to stay in the moment and to have gratitude for being in this situation again, and being with the guys and having fans in our stadium and maybe snow in an NFC...
January 20
January 20

Sources: J.A. Happ, Minnesota Twins agree to deal

Veteran left-hander J.A. Happ and the Minnesota Twins have agreed to a one-year deal, sources told ESPN's Jeff Passan.  The deal, which is pending a physical, is worth $8 million, according to multiple reports.  Happ, a free agent, will remain in the American League after spending the past two-and-a-half seasons with the New York Yankees. He will join a Minnesota rotation that includes Kenta Maeda, Jose Berrios and Michael Pineda, a group that will look to help the Twins to a third straight AL Central title this season. Minnesota finished third in the AL last season with a team ERA of 3.58. Happ will be just the second offseason addition by the Twins, who also added relief pitcher Hansel Robles. Jake Odorizzi and Rich Hill became free agents. A 12-year veteran, he was acquired by the Yankees from the Toronto Blue Jays in July 2018, went 7-0 in 11 starts and was rewarded with a $34 million, two-year...
January 20
January 20

Michael Brantley, Houston Astros agree to 2-year, $32M deal, sources say

Veteran outfielder Michael Brantley will be returning to the Houston Astros after the free agent agreed to a two-year, $32 million deal, sources confirmed to ESPN on Wednesday. Brantley, 33, continues to boast a high contact rate, low strikeout ratio and polish at the plate. In 46 games with the Astros in 2020, alternating between left field and DH, Brantley hit. 300, with five homers, 22 RBIs and an OPS of .840. He has hit at least .300 in five seasons since 2014, tied with four others for the most such seasons in baseball in that time span. He also has struck out in just 10.1% of his plate appearances since 2014, third best in baseball in that time span, with a minimum of 2,000 plate appearances. Fox 26 in Houston was first to report that Brantley and the Astros had agreed to the deal. Brantley also signed a two-year, $32 million contract when he joined the Astros before the 2019 season. Injuries have troubled Brantley over his 12-year career with  ...
January 20
January 20

Kansas City Chiefs' Patrick Mahomes practices in limited capacity, remains in concussion protocol

KANSAS CITY, Mo. -- Chiefs quarterback  Patrick Mahomes practiced in a limited capacity Wednesday, taking another step to possibly clearing the concussion protocol in time for Sunday's AFC Championship Game against the Buffalo Bills. "He's done well up to this point,'' coach Andy Reid said of Mahomes, who remains in the NFL's concussion protocol after being knocked out of last week's divisional-round win over the Cleveland Browns. "Today [Mahomes was allowed to do] limited work and no contact. That's kind of what we're doing on Wednesday, so this fit in well." Mahomes was listed as a full participant when the Chiefs initially released their practice report on Wednesday. The team later revised his status to limited, however, saying it is not allowed to list him as full because he remains in the concussion protocol. Reid didn't say what phase Mahomes is in of the five-step process to be cleared to play. Mahomes was replaced in the third quarter of...
January 20
January 20

Kansas City Chiefs' Patrick Mahomes practices fully, remains in concussion protocol

KANSAS CITY, Mo. -- Chiefs quarterback  Patrick Mahomes practiced fully Wednesday, taking another step to possibly clearing the concussion protocol in time for Sunday's AFC Championship Game against the Buffalo Bills. "He's done well up to this point,'' coach Andy Reid said of Mahomes, who remains in the NFL's concussion protocol after being knocked out of last week's divisional-round win over the Cleveland Browns. "Today [Mahomes was allowed to do] limited work and no contact. That's kind of what we're doing on Wednesday, so this fit in well." Mahomes was listed as a full participant when the Chiefs released their practice report Wednesday. Reid didn't say what phase Mahomes is in of the five-step process to be cleared to play. Mahomes was replaced in the third quarter of Sunday's 22-17 victory over the Browns by veteran Chad Henne, who would start against the Bills if Mahomes is unable to play. Pro Bowl Bills cornerback ...
January 20
January 20

NBA to enforce rules forbidding hugs, handshakes with midcourt security

After witnessing some opposing players disregarding new league rules against unnecessary contact on game nights, the NBA is moving team security into the midcourt area to dissuade violations that include hugging and handshakes, according to a league memo obtained by ESPN on Wednesday. As coronavirus infections increased amid a darkening pandemic, the NBA recently tightened regulations on players and staffs, including several meant to lessen the possibility of on-court transmissions. Despite those changes, there were still instances of traditional player contact in postgame scenarios, which led the NBA to issue a memo Wednesday reaffirming the rules that require teams to remain on their half of the court in pregame and halftime warm-ups, and limits physical contact to include only elbow or fist bumps. High-fives, hugs and handshakes aren't allowed, nor are extended postgame conversations. The NBA for the week of Jan. 13-19, had 11 new positive cases of COVID-19 out of 502 players,...
January 20
January 20

Sources: Canelo Alvarez-Avni Yildirim boxing match set for Feb. 27 in Miami

Boxing's biggest star, Canelo Alvarez, will return to the ring Feb. 27 versus mandatory challenger Avni Yildirim in Miami Gardens at Hard Rock Stadium, per sources. The fight will be broadcast on DAZN and other PPV cable platforms everywhere except Mexico. It will be a stay-busy title defense for Alvarez (54-1-2, 36 KOs), who is coming off a dominant unanimous decision victory over previously undefeated champion Callum Smith on Dec. 19 to win the WBA, WBC and the Ring magazine super middleweight titles. The Athletic was the first to report the Alvarez fight date on Wednesday. "Canelo is in the gym, and he has been working and training, waiting for the date," Alvarez's trainer, Eddy Reynoso, said. "And to take advantage of the preparation we had for most of last year without fighting." After a deal with Matchroom promoter Eddie Hearn, Alvarez is on track to fight again on May 8, the weekend following Cinco De Mayo, against WBO super middleweight champion Billy Joe...
January 20
January 20

Sources: Canelo Alvarez-Avni Yildirim set for Feb. 27 in Miami

Boxing's biggest star Canelo Alvarez will return to the ring February 27 versus his mandatory challenger Avni Yildirim in Miami Gardens at Hard Rock Stadium, per sources. The fight will be broadcasted on DAZN and other PPV cable platforms everywhere except Mexico. It will be a stay-busy title defense for Alvarez (54-1-2, 36 KOs), who is coming off a dominant unanimous decision victory over previously undefeated champion Callum Smith on December 19 to win the WBA, WBC and the Ring magazine super middleweight titles. The Athletic was the first to report the Alvarez fight date. "Canelo is in the gym, and he has been working and training, waiting for the date," Alvarez's trainer Eddy Reynoso said. "And to take advantage of the preparation we had for most of last year without fighting." After a deal with Matchroom promoter Eddie Hearn, Alvarez is on track to fight again on May 8, the weekend following Cinco De Mayo, against WBO super middleweight champion Billy Joe Saunders. That...
January 20
January 20

John Harbaugh defends Baltimore Ravens' run-heavy offense

OWINGS MILLS, Md. -- Baltimore Ravens coach John Harbaugh offered a defiant rebuttal Wednesday to the criticism about his offense, saying he is "not apologizing" for Lamar Jackson's style of play or the team's run-oriented game plan. Harbaugh's forceful support came four days after the Ravens tied a franchise postseason record for fewest points scored in a 17-3 divisional playoff loss to the Buffalo Bills. Ravens offensive coordinator Greg Roman received heavy flak for what many saw as a simplistic passing attack. "The reason why I'm strong on this is because it goes back to the same criticism we've heard the last three years about not being the type of an offense or the type of a quarterback that some people want to see," Harbaugh said during his 45-minute, end-of-season news conference. "They're just going to have to live with it because Lamar Jackson has won a lot of football games here and our offense has won us a lot of football games here and...
January 20
January 20

Toronto Blue Jays don't have free-agent deal with Michael Brantley, source says

While the Toronto Blue Jays remain among the teams interested in free-agent outfielder Michael Brantley, they have not reached an agreement on a contract, a source familiar with the situation told ESPN. Earlier, ESPN had reported that the Blue Jays and Brantley had struck a deal for him to join former Houston Astros teammate George Springer, who Tuesday agreed to a six-year, $150 million contract with Toronto, sources confirmed. The demand for Brantley, 33, remains strong because of his high contact rate, low strikeout ratio and polish at the plate. In 46 games with the Astros in 2020, alternating between left field and DH, Brantley hit. 300, with five homers, 22 RBIs and an OPS of .840. He has hit at least .300 in five seasons since 2014, tied with four others for the most such seasons in baseball in that time span. He also has struck out in just 10.1% of his plate appearances since 2014, third best in baseball in that time span, with a...
January 20
January 20

Toronto Blue Jays don't have deal with Michael Brantley, source says

While the Toronto Blue Jays remain among the teams interested in free-agent outfielder Michael Brantley, they have not reached an agreement on a contract, a source familiar with the situation told ESPN. Earlier, ESPN had reported that the Blue Jays and Brantley had struck a deal for him to join former Houston Astros teammate George Springer, who Tuesday agreed to a six-year, $150 million contract with Toronto, sources confirmed. The demand for Brantley, 33, remains strong because of his high contact rate, low strikeout ratio and polish at the plate. In 46 games with the Astros in 2020, alternating between left field and DH, Brantley hit. 300, with five homers, 22 RBIs and an OPS of .840. He has hit at least .300 in five seasons since 2014, tied with four others for the most such seasons in baseball in that time span. He also has struck out in just 10.1% of his plate appearances since 2014, third best in baseball in that time span, with a...
January 20
January 20

Novak Djokovic: Australian Open demands were 'misconstrued'

Novak Djokovic attempted to clarify his heavily scrutinized letter to Australian Open tournament director Craig Tiley in a social media post Tuesday, insisting his "good intentions" were misconstrued. Following positive COVID-19 tests on three charter flights to Melbourne, 72 players are currently in a hard quarantine period resulting in 14 days of self-isolation in their hotel rooms. Djokovic had suggested easing quarantine restrictions in his initial comments to Tiley and was promptly criticized for his lack of awareness by many in Australia, including Nick Kyrgios and Sam Groth. Djokovic had reportedly asked for a shortened isolation period and private housing options with tennis courts for those affected. "My good intentions for my fellow competitors in Melbourne have been misconstrued as being selfish, difficult, and ungrateful," Djokovic wrote. "This couldn't be farther from the truth. "Not every act is taken at its face value and at times when I see...
January 20
January 20

Busy Toronto Blue Jays add Michael Brantley after George Springer deal, source says

The Toronto Blue Jays have added their second former Houston Astros slugger in as many days, agreeing to a three-year contract with outfielder/designated hitter Michael Brantley on Wednesday, a source confirmed to ESPN. The Jays reached agreement on a six-year, $150 million contract with former Astros center fielder George Springer on Tuesday night, sources confirmed to ESPN's Jeff Passan. The news of Brantley's agreement was first reported by sportscaster Hazel Mae. Brantley, 33, has been troubled with injuries for much of his career -- this past season it was a quad that caused him to spend time on the injured list. While those injuries have brought his power numbers down, he remains a dangerous hitter with a high contact rate and low strikeout ratio. In 46 games with the Astros in 2020, alternating between left field and DH, Brantley hit. 300, with five homers, 22 RBIs and an OPS of .840. He has hit at least .300 in five seasons since...
January 20
January 20

Philip Rivers retires from NFL, ending 17-year career spent with Los Angeles Chargers and Indianapolis Colts

Philip Rivers is retiring from football, ending his 17-year career as one of the most prolific quarterbacks in NFL history. Rivers, who spent this past season with the Indianapolis Colts after 16 years with the Los Angeles Chargers, said in a statement Wednesday that playing quarterback in the NFL was his "childhood dream." While Rivers, 39, never played in a Super Bowl, it was one of the few glaring omissions on an otherwise remarkable resume. He ranks fifth in NFL history with 63,440 passing yards, behind only Drew Brees, Tom Brady, Peyton Manning and Brett Favre. The eight-time Pro Bowler also is fifth in league history with 421 touchdown passes -- again behind only Brady, Brees, Manning and Favre. Rivers said in his statement that he wanted to announce his retirement on Jan. 20, which is the Roman Catholic Church's feast day for St. Sebastian -- often referred to as the patron saint for athletes. The announcement also came exactly 13 years to...
January 20
January 20

New Detroit Lions coach Dan Campbell agrees to six-year contract, source says

New Detroit Lions coach Dan Campbell received a six-year contract from the team, a source told ESPN's Jeremy Fowler. The Lions announced Campbell's hiring on Wednesday but did not disclose terms. The team will introduce him with a news conference on Thursday. "With more than 20 years of experience as both a coach and player in the National Football League, Dan knows the rigors of professional football and what it takes to be successful. He will help promote the culture we want to establish across our organization, while also bringing with him high energy, a respect for the game and an identity with which everyone can align themselves," Lions principal owner Sheila Ford Hamp said in a statement. Campbell, the New Orleans Saints' assistant head coach/tight ends coach, replaces Matt Patricia, who was fired in November after less than three seasons with the Lions and a 13-29-1 record. The Lions will now try to reset after finishing last in the NFC North the past three...
January 20
January 20

Saquon Barkley, Odell Beckham Jr. plan to rehab from ACL tears together

New York Giants running back Saquon Barkley and Cleveland Browns wide receiver Odell Beckham Jr. are in similar spots. Both are rehabbing torn ACLs and are using each other as resources in the process. The former Giants teammates speak regularly, and they plan to get together to rehab and train this offseason. "Only thing I do know that I have planned for sure, I'm definitely going to link up with [Odell]," Barkley told ESPN during an interview he did while promoting Campbell's Chunky Million Meals Challenge, which is raising money to provide over 100 million meals to children. "Obviously Odell tore his knee a little too. I think we both need just being there. We're really good friends. Competing with each other and pushing each other will also be good too. That's the only thing I know for certain I will do. Everything else is up in the air." Barkley had surgery on his right knee Oct. 30 in Los Angeles. Beckham needed his left knee repaired Nov. 10 in...
January 20
January 20

Big bets come in on Conor McGregor for Dustin Poirier bout

A few big bets have already shown up on Conor McGregor, and his odds are on the move ahead of Saturday's UFC 257 main event that's expected to draw significant betting interest at sportsbooks. McGregor is a consensus -315 favorite over Dustin Poirier and is attracting the bulk of the action, including a pair of six-figure bets placed in recent days. On Tuesday, FanDuel reported taking a $188,800 bet on McGregor from a customer in New Jersey at -290 odds to win a net $65,103. On Friday, sportsbook operator PointsBet took a $100,000 bet on McGregor at -277 odds. Bookmakers say it's only the beginning. "Saturday is trending to be our biggest UFC event ever, surpassing UFC 246, when McGregor took out Donald Cerrone," Patrick Eichner, communications director for sportsbook PointsBet, told ESPN. In the fall, as the buzz about the matchup with Poirier grew, sportsbooks installed McGregor as a -180 favorite. By late December, when the fight was made...
January 20

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