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2 hours ago

NBA commissioner Adam Silver says 'most players' will get COVID-19 vaccine, but aren't required to do so

NBA commissioner Adam Silver on Saturday said the NBA will not require anyone to get a COVID-19 vaccine, however he believes "most players" will ultimately choose to do so. "We're seeing this now, both in the actual numbers of people getting vaccinated in the United States and opinion polls, that people are becoming more willing to get vaccinated," Silver said during his All-Star Weekend virtual news conference from Atlanta. "I think, as to those who have been hesitators, as tens of millions of people now in the United States have gotten the vaccine, that people are seeing, at least in the short-term, what the impact is, and they're hearing about how incredibly effective these vaccines are. "My hunch is that most players ultimately will choose to get vaccinated. They have to make personal decisions at the end of the day -- and I take that very seriously, and I take concerns very seriously. But my sense is most [players] will, ultimately, decide it is in their interest to get...
2 hours ago
3 hours ago

Vegas Golden Knights scramble to switch lodging after a San Jose landmark hotel declares bankruptcy

In the midst of a two-game set against the Sharks, the Vegas Golden Knights had to scramble and switch hotels in San Jose because the league's designated place of lodging suddenly filed for bankruptcy, according to multiple reports. Citing financial difficulties brought on by the COVID-19 pandemic, the Fairmont Hotel, a landmark in downtown San Jose, closed its doors, but said it will reopen and resume operations in two to three months, according to the San Jose Mercury News. That puts a dent in the NHL's plans to house visiting teams in San Jose, and the Golden Knights, not long after their 5-4 overtime win over the Sharks on Friday night, had to gather their belongings and switch their place of lodging. "It was a surreal experience," Golden Knights coach Pete DeBoer told the Las Vegas Sun. "Hopefully this is the end of the COVID year, but it was almost the topping on the cake for what the last year has been for everybody in the world. Just another thing thrown at...
3 hours ago
March 06

Jake Odorizzi reaches 2-year deal with Houston Astros, source says

Right-hander Jake Odorizzi and the Houston Astros have agreed to a two-year deal with a player option, a source familiar with the deal told ESPN's Jeff Passan on Saturday. The Astros have already lost starter Framber Valdez for an indefinite period of time after the left-hander suffered a fractured left ring finger during his spring training debut on Tuesday. Houston also is without ace Justin Verlander, who likely will miss the entire season after having Tommy John surgery on Sept. 30. Odorizzi will join a rotation that likely includes Zack Greinke, Cristian Javier, Lance McCullers Jr. and Jose Urquidy. After accepting a one-year, $17.8 million qualifying offer from the Minnesota Twins last offseason, Odorizzi, who turns 31 on March 27, was limited to four starts in 2020 due to bruised ribs and a blister, going 0-1 with a 6.59 ERA in 13⅔ innings. His lost season began when he was drilled in the side by a...
March 06
March 06

Philadelphia 76ers' Joel Embiid donates $100,000 in All-Star winnings to homeless shelters

Philadelphia 76ers star Joel Embiid has committed to giving his winnings from Sunday's NBA All-Star Game in Atlanta to several Philadelphia homeless shelters, meaning $100,000 will go to the various organizations. Later Saturday, the Sixers said they will donate an additional $100,000 to the same groups. "So many have fallen on such hard times during the pandemic," Embiid said in a statement released by the team announcing his donation. "I felt it was important to provide more support for individuals and families struggling with homelessness and food insecurity. I'm continually grateful for all of the support that Philadelphia and the fans have given me not just around All-Star but all my years in the league. I will continue to help in any way I can." Embiid, who is playing for Team Durant in what will be his fourth All-Star appearance, is donating to Project HOME, Sunday Breakfast Mission and Youth Service Inc. His donation will provide 15,000 meals; 4,000 essential...
March 06
March 06

UConn Huskies star Paige Bueckers only freshman on Wooden Award top-15 list for women's college basketball

UConn's Paige Bueckers is the only freshman among the 15 women's college basketball players on the Wooden Award national ballot, which was released Saturday. South Carolina forward Aliyah Boston and Stanford guard Haley Jones were the only other underclassmen on the list. Stanford was the only school with multiple representatives, as senior guard Kiana Williams also was included in the top 15. The Pac-12 led the way with four players on the national ballot, including conference player of the year Aari McDonald of Arizona and fellow senior Michaela Onyenwere of UCLA. The SEC and Big 12 each had three players on the ballot. Louisville's Dana Evans, who earlier this week was named the ACC player of the year for the second consecutive season, is one of seven seniors in the top 15. Kentucky's Rhyne Howard, the SEC player of the year for the second season in a row, is one of five juniors. Bueckers has led UConn to a 21-1 record and the No. 1...
March 06
March 06

Washington Capitals' Tom Wilson gets in-person hearing for hit on Boston Bruins' Brandon Carlo

Washington Capitals forward Tom Wilson will have a hearing with the NHL department of player safety for a hit that sent Boston Bruins defenseman Brandon Carlo to the hospital on Friday night. While there are no "in-person" hearings due to COVID-19, Wilson was technically offered one on Saturday. While phone hearings typically indicate that the NHL is considering a suspension of five games or less, an "in-person" hearing means it's considering one of a greater length. Carlo was released from the hospital Saturday, after spending the night. Bruins coach Bruce Cassidy said Carlo was back home and did not attend practice, the day after the game. Wilson is the NHL's player safety lightning rod. From September 2017 to October 2018, he was suspended four times for illegal hits in a 105-game span, culminating in a 20-game suspension for a hit to the head of St. Louis forward Oskar Sundqvist that was eventually reduced to 14 games by an arbitrator. With 90...
March 06
March 06

UConn Huskies star Paige Bueckers only freshman on Wooden Award top 15 list for women's college basketball

UConn's Paige Bueckers is the only freshman among the 15 women's college basketball players on the Wooden Award national ballot, which was released Saturday. South Carolina forward Aliyah Boston and Stanford guard Haley Jones were the only other underclassmen on the list. Stanford was the only school with multiple representatives, as senior guard Kiana Williams also was included in the top 15. The Pac-12 led the way with four players on the national ballot, including conference player of the year Aari McDonald of Arizona and fellow senior Michaela Onyenwere of UCLA. The SEC and Big 12 each had three players on the ballot. Louisville's Dana Evans, who earlier this week was named the ACC player of the year for the second consecutive season, is one of seven seniors in the top 15. Kentucky's Rhyne Howard, the SEC player of the year for the second season in a row, is one of five juniors. Bueckers has led UConn to a 21-1 record and the No. 1...
March 06
March 06

Iowa's Luka Garza, Oklahoma State's Cade Cunningham among finalists for men's basketball's Wooden Award

The national ballot for the John R. Wooden Award -- awarded to college basketball's top player -- was revealed Saturday, with 15 players including Iowa's  Luka Garza and Oklahoma State's  Cade Cunningham among those featured on the list. Garza, the runner-up for the Wooden Award last season to Obi Toppin, has delivered on his status as the Wooden front-runner throughout the 2020-21 campaign. The 6-foot-11 center enters the final weekend of the regular season averaging 23.9 points per game, best in the Big Ten, to go along with 8.4 rebounds per contest. Garza's fifth-ranked Hawkeyes have spent most of the season in the AP top 10 and are a No. 2 seed in Joe Lunardi's most recent NCAA tournament projection heading into Sunday's regular-season finale with Wisconsin.  Also in the mix for the award is Cunningham, whose sensational freshman season has helped establish him as a prime candidate for the No. 1 pick in the 2021 NBA draft. The...
March 06
March 06

Claressa Shields routs Marie-Eve Dicaire, becomes two-division undisputed champ

FLINT, Mich. -- Claressa Shields wanted to make history on Friday night on multiple levels. The first part she handled before she even stepped in the ring, headlining an all-women's pay-per-view card. The second part she took care of in the ring in a way similar to all of her fights before. Shields defeated Marie-Eve Dicaire by unanimous decision to become the first boxer in the four-belt era (since 2004), male or female, to be an undisputed champion in two divisions. Shields retained her WBC and WBO junior middleweight titles while claiming Dicaire's IBF crown and the vacant WBA world title. "I did it," Shields said in the ring after the fight, which marked the first time in 20 years a women's boxing match was the main event of a pay-per-view. All three judges scored the fight 100-90, a clean sweep for the fighter who calls herself the greatest of all time. Shields landed 116 of 409 punches, and Dicaire landed 31 of 263. Shields landed double-digit punches in seven of the 10...
March 06
March 06

Liberty Flames make NCAA men's basketball tournament even before playing in Atlantic Sun finale

Liberty will face North Alabama in the Atlantic Sun tournament championship game Sunday, but it already has clinched a spot in the NCAA men's basketball tournament even before stepping on the court. The Flames beat Stetson 77-64 in the semifinals Friday in Jacksonville, Florida, and since North Alabama -- a school transitioning to Division I athletics -- is ineligible for the NCAA tournament, Liberty was granted the league's automatic berth.  North Alabama joined the Atlantic Sun and commenced its move from Division II to Division I in the 2018-19 season. Per NCAA rules, a Division II program making the jump to Division I cannot compete in the NCAA tournament until it has completed the four-year transition requirement. The potential scenario that unfolded for Liberty was anticipated entering the tournament, but most assumed the conference's regular-season champion ultimately would have to go through a different ineligible team -- Bellarmine, not North Alabama,...
March 06
March 06

Liberty Flames make NCAA men's tournament before even playing in Atlantic Sun finale

Liberty will face North Alabama in the Atlantic Sun tournament championship game Sunday, but it already has clinched a spot in the NCAA men's basketball tournament before even stepping on the court. The Flames beat Stetson in the semifinals Friday in Jacksonville, Florida, and since North Alabama -- a school transitioning to Division I athletics -- is ineligible for the NCAA tournament, Liberty was granted the league's automatic berth.  North Alabama joined the Atlantic Sun and commenced its move from Division II to Division I in the 2018-19 season. Per NCAA rules, a Division II program making the jump to Division I cannot compete in the NCAA tournament until it has completed the four-year transition requirement. The potential scenario that unfolded for Liberty was anticipated entering the tournament, but most assumed the conference's regular-season champion ultimately would have to go through a different ineligible team -- Bellarmine, not North Alabama, which...
March 06
March 05

Boston Bruins' Bruce Cassidy calls Tom Wilson's shot on Brandon Carlo 'a predatory hit'

Boston Bruins coach Bruce Cassidy ripped Washington Capitals forward Tom Wilson for what he called "a predatory hit" on defenseman Brandon Carlo in Friday night's game at TD Garden. Carlo went down after Wilson went hands-high to his head in the corner behind the Boston net, smashing the defenseman's head into the glass with 90 seconds left in the first period. Carlo absorbed a cross-check from Jakub Vrana on his way to the ice and remained there for several minutes. Cassidy said Carlo left the arena in an ambulance and went to a hospital but could not confirm that he suffered a concussion. "Clearly looked to me like he got him right in the head. A defenseless player, a predatory hit from a player that's done that before," Cassidy said of Wilson. "I don't understand why there wasn't a penalty called on the ice. They huddled up, but I did not get an explanation why." During his eight-year career with the Capitals, Wilson has been one of the most...
March 05
March 05

Arizona Wildcats men's basketball faces allegations of five Level I rules violations

The NCAA has charged  Arizona with five Level I rules violation allegations, including two alleged instances of academic misconduct within the men's basketball program, according to a notice of allegations the university released to ESPN on Friday through an open records request. Arizona released the notice of allegations in response to a Maricopa County judge's order issued Monday. The school had denied requests from ESPN and other media outlets last fall to release the record, and the network sued in January. Among the charges, former Wildcats assistant coaches Emanuel "Book" Richardson and Mark Phelps are charged with violating the principles of ethical conduct, engaging in preenrollment academic misconduct and/or providing an impermissible recruiting inducement "when they knowingly arranged for false academic transcripts for two then men's basketball prospective student-athletes." Among the Level I allegations, the NCAA charged men's basketball coach Sean Miller for...
March 05
March 05

California to allow limited return of fans to MLB parks, other outdoor sporting events

SACRAMENTO, Calif. -- California on Friday lifted some coronavirus restrictions on outdoor sports and entertainment venues, clearing the way for fans to attend games on Major League Baseball's Opening Day and for theme parks like Disneyland to reopen for the first time in more than a year. The rules, announced Friday by Gov. Gavin Newsom's administration, take effect April 1, but they apply only to people living in California. Baseball teams, event organizers and theme parks are not allowed to sell tickets to anyone living out of state as public health officials try to limit mixing while continuing to roll out coronavirus vaccinations. The San Diego Padres, Los Angeles Angels and Oakland A's all announced they will have fans in the stands for Opening Day on April 1. The Los Angeles Dodgers and San Francisco Giants both start their seasons on the road and said they would announce their plans later. Dr. Mark Ghaly, California's top public...
March 05
March 05

Kansas Jayhawks place football coach Les Miles on leave after conduct at LSU investigated

Kansas has placed head football coach Les Miles on administrative leave and the university will conduct a full review to determine the appropriate next steps on his future, Jayhawks athletic director Jeff Long said in a statement Friday night. The decision came after reports of Miles' conduct while he coached at LSU in 2013 were made public this week.  "Even though the allegations against him occurred at LSU, we take these matters very seriously at KU," Long said in the statement. "Now that we have access to this information, we will take the coming days to fully review the material and to see if any additional information is available. I do not want to speculate on a timeline for our review because it is imperative we do our due diligence." On Saturday, Miles' attorney Peter Ginsberg described Kansas' decision to put Miles on leave as being based on "media blowback" and categorized it as being "disturbing and unfair." "Bending to the winds of media blowback, Kansas has now...
March 05
March 05

Drake Bulldogs reach MVC men's basketball semifinals after game vs. Northern Iowa Panthers canceled

Friday's Missouri Valley Conference quarterfinal men's basketball game between Drake and Northern Iowa was canceled, the league announced. Drake, currently on the bubble for the NCAA tournament, automatically advanced to the semifinals in St. Louis. The league tweeted its announcement, later saying that Northern Iowa had a positive COVID-19 test result Thursday night among Tier I personnel, which consists of student-athletes, coaches, managers and staff. Subsequent contract tracing left them without enough players to compete Friday.  It's a particularly notable decision due to Drake's status on the bubble. The Bulldogs, the 2-seeds in the conference tournament, entered Friday as one of the "last four byes" in Joe Lunardi's latest bracket, with the ESPN analyst saying Drake needed to win Friday's quarterfinal and likely Saturday's semifinal to remain in the at-large discussion. The Bulldogs will face Missouri State in a Saturday semifinal. It marked the second...
March 05
March 05

Kansas Jayhawks place football coach Les Miles on administrative leave

Kansas has placed head football coach Les Miles on administrative leave and the university will conduct a full review to determine the appropriate next steps on his future, Jayhawks athletic director Jeff Long said in a statement Friday night. The decision came after reports into Miles' conduct while coaching at LSU in 2013 were made public this week.  "Even though the allegations against him occurred at LSU, we take these matters very seriously at KU," Long said in the statement. "Now that we have access to this information, we will take the coming days to fully review the material and to see if any additional information is available. I do not want to speculate on a timeline for our review because it is imperative we do our due diligence." Mike DeBord, who was hired last month as Kansas' offensive coordinator, will oversee the football program with Miles on leave, sources told ESPN. Miles was not in the KU football offices Friday. The Jayhawks hired him in November 2018,...
March 05
March 05

Denver Broncos placing franchise tag on safety Justin Simmons

The Denver Broncos are placing the franchise tag on safety Justin Simmons for the second consecutive season, it was announced Friday. Simmons, who was poised to become an unrestricted free agent, becomes the first player to be tagged this offseason. The Broncos now have until July 15 to work out a long-term deal. "Designating Justin with the franchise tag is a procedural move that allows us to continue working on a long-term deal," general manager George Paton said in a statement Friday. We are completely focused on making sure Justin remains a big part of the Denver Broncos for many years to come.'' NFL teams have until Tuesday at 4 p.m. ET to place the franchise tag on their most valuable player. Simmons, the Broncos' third-round pick in the 2016 draft, played on the franchise player tag in 2020, worth $11.4 million. He finished with 96 tackles and five interceptions. It was his third consecutive 90-tackle season. He has consistently been an active player in...
March 05
March 05

Mark Pavelich, member of 'Miracle on Ice' Olympic hockey team, found dead

Mark Pavelich, a member of the "Miracle on Ice" 1980 Olympic hockey team, was found dead at a treatment facility in Minnesota, USA Hockey confirmed on Friday. The cause of death was not immediately known. Pavelich was 63. "We are saddened to hear about the passing of 1980 Olympic gold medalist Mark Pavelich," USA Hockey tweeted. "We extend our deepest condolences to Mark's family & friends. Forever a part of hockey history."   The (Minneapolis) Star Tribune first reported details about Pavelich's death. According to the newspaper, police were called to Pavelich's residence at the facility at about 8:30 a.m. local time on Thursday where he was found dead. He was last seen on Wednesday at about 8 p.m. at the facility, where he was receiving mental health treatment. Pavelich was living at the facility after a court ruled he was unfit to stand trial for an August 2019 assault on his neighbor. Pavelich was charged with four felony counts for the assault, which left the victim...
March 05
March 05

Detroit Pistons, Blake Griffin agree to contract buyout

Six-time NBA All-Star Blake Griffin has agreed to a contract buyout with the Detroit Pistons and will become an unrestricted free agent, the team announced Friday. The Brooklyn Nets, Golden State Warriors, Miami Heat and Portland Trail Blazers are expected to be among the teams Griffin will be considering for his next stop, sources tell ESPN. Griffin, 31, is expected to make a decision on his next team after conversations with prospective teams, sources said. "Blake has been a great representative for our franchise and for the city of Detroit," owner Tom Gores said in a statement Friday. "His work ethic and his approach to the game contributed a lot to our culture. He has been a consummate pro and we wish him continued success. "I'm grateful for everything he did for our team and for our community." Finding a trade for Griffin -- who was owed a remaining $36.6 million this season and $39 million in 2021-22 prior to the buyout --...
March 05
March 05

District attorney declines to charge Denver Broncos LB Von Miller after investigation

ENGLEWOOD, Colo. -- Denver Broncos linebacker Von Miller will not face criminal charges after an investigation by the Parker (Colorado) Police Department earlier this year, according to the district attorney's office for the 18th Judicial District. The office declined to file charges "based on our review of information that is currently available," according to a statement Friday. The district attorney's office said the case did not meet the standards of probable cause of admissible evidence "to support a conviction beyond a reasonable doubt, and that the decision to charge is in the interests of justice.'' The office said it would not comment further on an investigation "in which there was never a citation, arrest or filing.'' Police in Parker, a suburb southeast of Denver, had acknowledged that Miller was the subject of an investigation. Miller has not publicly commented on any part of the investigation, nor has he responded to requests for comment.  Neither...
March 05
March 05

No charges filed against Denver Broncos LB Von Miller

Denver Broncos linebacker Von Miller will not face charges in regards to an investigation by the Parker Police Department, the district attorney's office said in a statement Friday.  Police in Parker, Colorado, submitted a criminal case against Miller but the district attorney in the 18th Judicial District declined to file charges. Police confirmed that Miller was the subject of an investigation back in January but declined to specify for what.  Miller's attorney, Harvey Steinberg, was unavailable for comment. Miller missed the 2020 season after he suffered an ankle injury in practice just days before the opener. He has an option clause in his contract that if the Broncos pick up would guarantee $7 million of his $17.5 million base salary and engage the final year of a six-year, $114.5 million deal he signed in 2016. Broncos general manager George Paton said Thursday that the team wants Miller back for the 2021 season, but that they were still waiting to hear more about the...
March 05
March 05

Denver Broncos placing franchise tag on safety Justin Simmons, source says

The Denver Broncos are placing the franchise tag on safety Justin Simmons for the second consecutive season, it was announced Friday. Simmons, who was poised to become an unrestricted free agent, becomes the first player to be tagged this offseason. The Broncos now have until July 15 to work out a long-term deal. "Designating Justin with the franchise tag is a procedural move that allows us to continue working on a long-term deal," general manager George Paton said in a statement Friday. We are completely focused on making sure Justin remains a big part of the Denver Broncos for many years to come.'' NFL teams have until Tuesday at 4 p.m. ET to place the franchise tag on their most valuable player. Simmons, the Broncos' third-round pick in the 2016 draft, played on the franchise player tag in 2020, worth $11.4 million. He finished with 96 tackles and five interceptions. It was his third consecutive 90-tackle season. He has consistently been an active player in...
March 05
March 05

Calgary Flames coach Darryl Sutter denies abuse allegations from 2019

Calgary Flames coach Darryl Sutter denied allegations made by former NHL winger Daniel Carcillo that he saw Sutter kick a player on the bench and mentally abuse another player who was suffering from a concussion during his time coaching the  Los Angeles Kings. Sutter was hired as the new head coach of the Flames on Thursday. Carcillo played 26 games with the Kings in 2013-14 when Sutter was the head coach in Los Angeles. In November 2019, Carcillo claimed that he saw Sutter kick a player in the lower back on the bench and that the coach berated Kings defenseman Matt Greene out of the dressing room before a team meeting, specifically because Greene had a concussion.   "Sutter said, I quote, 'what the f--- are you doing here? I don't want your negative energy in here. You're injured. Get out,'" Carcillo told the Global News back in 2019. His accusations were not corroborated at the time, and Sutter did not comment on them. Sutter was asked...
March 05
March 05

Investigation into LSU football reveals firing recommended for coach Les Miles in 2013

Former LSU athletic director Joe Alleva recommended in 2013 that Les Miles be fired as head coach of the football program after accusations of inappropriate behavior with female student workers, according to a scathing investigative report released Friday that detailed systemic failures by LSU to appropriately report incidents of athletic-related sexual misconduct and abuse. According to the investigation by Husch Blackwell, Alleva sent an email on June 21, 2013, to LSU's legal counsel and incoming LSU president F. King Alexander. Alleva wrote, "one more time I want us to think about which scenario is worse for LSU. Explaining why we let him go or explaining why we let him stay." "I believe he is guilty of insubordination, inappropriate behavior, putting the university, athletic dept and football program at great risk," Alleva wrote in the email, which was included in the report. "I think we have cause. I specifically told him not to text, call or be alone with any student workers...
March 05
March 05

Aaron Boone better with pacemaker, hopes to return to New York Yankees this weekend

TAMPA - New York Yankees manager Aaron Boone said he "can't believe" the improvement to his health after having surgery Wednesday to implant a pacemaker, and that he would have rejoined the club on Friday if not for COVID protocols. "I feel great. I can't believe how good I feel," Boone said in a videoconference call ahead of the Yankees-Tigers exhibition game Friday at Steinbrenner Field. "It makes me really glad that I got this done because, certainly in the last couple of months, I have not felt anywhere close to how I felt this morning. Really excited about it; excited to get back." Boone addressed the media for the first time since taking an immediate medical leave of absence to undergo the procedure after symptoms of lightheadedness, low energy and shortness of breath over several weeks. Further testing indicated he had a low heart rate, necessitating the pacemaker. He underwent surgery on Wednesday at St. Joseph's Hospital in Tampa and was released Thursday. "I can...
March 05
March 05

Israel Adesanya much lighter than Jan Blachowicz for light heavyweight title bout at UFC 259

LAS VEGAS -- Israel Adesanya will be significantly lighter than Jan Blachowicz at UFC 259, although not by as much as he indicated earlier this week. Adesanya weighed 200.5 pounds Friday morning at the official UFC 259 weigh-ins at the UFC Apex. He didn't strip down, as athletes usually do. He just wore sweats, and he had a cornerman bring him a box of pizza afterward. No one has ever weighed as light as Adesanya did Friday and won the UFC light heavyweight title, per ESPN Stats & Information research. Fighters who weighed in lower than 202 pounds are 0-2. On Saturday, the UFC middleweight champion is moving up to challenge for the light heavyweight title against champion Blachowicz. Earlier in the week, Adesanya told ESPN's Ariel Helwani that he could weigh as little as 193 pounds at weigh-ins. That was not the case. But Blachowicz weighed right at the 205-pound light heavyweight limit for a title fight and told ESPN he'd weigh about 220 pounds Saturday. Adesanya...
March 05
March 05

Jason Kelce, Philadelphia Eagles reach new deal for 2021 season

PHILADELPHIA -- Philadelphia Eagles All-Pro center Jason Kelce announced that he will return for an 11th season and has restructured his contract for 2021. Kelce has been contemplating retirement the past several offseasons but has decided to play for at least another year even though the Eagles are going through a transition period. The reworked deal contains $9 million in guarantees and can be worth up to $12 million, a source told ESPN. Although there are multiple years to the contract, it will function essentially as a one-year deal and offers Philadelphia cap relief for 2021. "I'm really fired up to be able to come back and play for the Eagles again," Kelce said, via the team's website. "I've always said I'm playing until I'm not and I still have a very strong desire to play the game of football. I still want to do it. I still want to be around the guys. I want to be around the building, around the coaches. I still enjoy that aspect of it and I'm not ready to...
March 05
March 05

Sources: Detroit Pistons, Blake Griffin agree to contract buyout

Six-time NBA All-Star Blake Griffin has agreed to a contract buyout with the Detroit Pistons and will become an unrestricted free agent, sources tell ESPN. The Brooklyn Nets, Golden State Warriors, Miami Heat and Portland Trail Blazers are expected to be among the teams Griffin will be considering for his next stop, sources tell ESPN. Griffin, 31, is expected to make a decision on his next team after conversations with prospective teams, sources said. Finding a trade for Griffin -- who was owed a remaining $36.6 million this season, and $39 million in 2021-22 prior to the buyout -- was an insurmountable challenge for the Pistons. Detroit finalized a reduction in his remaining salary to gain free agency with Griffin's agent, Sam Goldfeder of Excel Sports, since the sides mutually agreed he would leave the active roster on Feb. 15 awaiting a trade or a buyout. Detroit has entered a full-fledged rebuild under first-year general...
March 05
March 05

Houston Astros without 8 pitchers due to COVID-19 protocols

The Houston Astros are without eight pitchers at their spring training camp after they were sent home due to COVID-19 health and safety protocols, manager Dusty Baker said Friday. General manager James Click would not say whether any players had tested positive, but Baker said pitchers Bryan Abreu, Luis Garcia, Ronel Blanco, Cristian Javier, Pedro Baez, Enoli Paredes, Francis Martes and Hector Velazquez are absent from the team's camp in West Palm Beach, Florida. "Part of the reason that so many players are away from camp for health and safety (protocols) is because we want to cast a wide net," Click told reporters. "And the protocols cast a wide net to make sure if there are delays between contagious stages and positive test results that those don't lead to an outbreak. "We are following Major League Baseball's health and safety protocols, and this is what they call for. We and the league believe that, by...
March 05
March 05

Chicago Blackhawks defenseman Brent Seabrook says NHL career is over after 15 seasons

Chicago Blackhawks defenseman Brent Seabrook announced Friday that his NHL career is over after 15 seasons. "After several surgeries, countless hours of rehab and training to get back on the ice at the level of my expectations, it will not be possible for me to continue playing hockey," Seabrook said in a statement Friday. "This is what is best for me and my family." Seabrook, 35, has not played in an NHL game since November 2019. Over a three-month period from December 2019 to February 2020 he had surgery on his right shoulder as well as on both hips. The defenseman "tweaked" his back in a pre-training-camp session this January. Blackhawks team doctor Michael Terry said it was an issue with the right hip that prevents Seabrook from playing. Terry said the team has "tried all available conservative treatments, and nothing has worked well enough for him to live his life as an athlete." Chicago placed Seabrook on long-term injured reserve. He was signed through the 2023-24...
March 05
March 05

Creighton University basketball coach suspended for 'plantation' analogy

"I can’t have anybody leave the plantation," Greg McDermott said.
March 05
Creighton coach Greg McDermott during the first half of the team's NCAA college basketball game against Villanova, March 3, 2021, in Villanova, Pa.
March 05

NFL hires Maia Chaka as league's first Black woman on-field official

The NFL has hired Maia Chaka as a game official for the 2021 season, making her the first Black woman to join the league's on-field officiating staff. Chaka will join Sarah Thomas as the only women to officiate an NFL game. Thomas was hired in 2015 and was part of the crew that worked Super Bowl LV last month. The NFL announced Chaka's hiring Friday morning during a segment on the "Today" show. In a statement released by the league, Chaka said: "I am honored to be selected as an NFL official. But this moment is bigger than a personal accomplishment. It is an accomplishment for all women, my community, and my culture." The NFL annually updates its roster of officials due to retirements, departures and position changes of its existing group. Replacements are typically chosen from the league's officiating development program, which is made up of officials from various levels who have been identified for potential promotion. Chaka joined the program in 2014. "Maia's years of hard...
March 05
March 05

Chicago Blackhawks defenseman Brent Seabrook announces retirement after 15 seasons

Chicago Blackhawks defenseman Brent Seabrook announced Friday that his NHL career is over after 15 seasons. "After several surgeries, countless hours of rehab and training to get back on the ice at the level of my expectations, it will not be possible for me to continue playing hockey," Seabrook said in a statement Friday. "This is what is best for me and my family." Seabrook, 35, has not played in an NHL game since November 2019. Over a three-month period from December 2019 to February 2020 he had surgery on his right shoulder as well as on both hips. The defenseman "tweaked" his back in a pre-training-camp session this January. Blackhawks team doctor Michael Terry said it was an issue with the right hip that prevents Seabrook from playing. Terry said the team has "tried all available conservative treatments, and nothing has worked well enough for him to live his life as an athlete." Chicago placed Seabrook on long-term injured reserve. He was signed through the 2023-24...
March 05
March 05

Washington Football Team releases quarterback Alex Smith, source says

Quarterback Alex Smith, who won the 2020 NFL Comeback Player of the Year award in helping the Washington Football Team win the NFC East title, is being released by the franchise, a source told ESPN's Adam Schefter on Friday. Washington, which went 7-9 in 2020, wants to upgrade at quarterback this offseason. With Smith turning 37 years old in May and due to count $24.4 million against the salary cap, a release became inevitable. The move will save Washington $14.9 million against the cap, while Smith becomes a free agent. Smith had two years left on a contract he signed after Washington traded for him in 2018. He made it clear to Washington he wanted to continue playing.  But his tenure in Washington will be defined by the broken right fibula and tibia he suffered in November 2018 and subsequent comeback with his first game action on Oct. 11, 2020. In between, Smith underwent 17 surgeries to fight an infection and opted not to have his leg...
March 05
March 05

Washington Football Team releases quarterback Alex Smith

Quarterback Alex Smith, who won the 2020 NFL Comeback Player of the Year award in helping the Washington Football Team win the NFC East title, has been released by the franchise, it was announced Friday. Washington coach Ron Rivera said in a statement that the team granted Smith's request to be released after the two met this week. "I had a chance to meet with Alex Smith this week and we had a very honest and real discussion," Rivera said in the statement released by the team. "We had the chance to reflect on the 2020 season and talk about moving forward into next year. After the conclusion of that meeting we decided that it would be best for both parties to move on and we will be granting Alex his request to be released. "I want to thank Alex for his contributions this past year. He made such an impact on our young roster and his leadership was one of the key factors in our late season success and in making the playoffs for the first time since 2015....
March 05
March 05

NBA commissioner Adam Silver says fans should consider All-Star weekend a 'television-only event'

NBA commissioner Adam Silver said fans should think of the upcoming All-Star Weekend in Atlanta as a "television-only event," and once again discouraged fans from traveling to the game, which is being played without fans because of the COVID-19 pandemic. "The message within the NBA community is that we're going to be operating in a mini bubble," Silver said in an interview with ESPN on Wednesday. "There will be no NBA functions [for fans] to participate in. We appreciate their support and hope they'll watch our All-Star Game on television ... this is a television-only event in Atlanta." Atlanta Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms has repeatedly discouraged fans from traveling to her city for the game and asked bars and nightclubs not to throw parties. Still, a number of events purporting to have a connection to the game have been planned. The city of Brookhaven, a suburb of Atlanta, recently made national headlines when its City Council approved a measure extending pouring hours in its...
March 05
March 05

Calgary Flames fire Geoff Ward, name Darryl Sutter as new head coach

The Calgary Flames fired head coach Geoff Ward on Thursday night, replacing him with former coach and two-time Stanley Cup champion Darryl Sutter. The Flames routed the Ottawa Senators  7-3 at home on Thursday night, but Ward's fate was apparently sealed after going 11-11-2 to start the season. He was officially hired in the offseason after replacing Bill Peters on an interim basis last season. Overall, Ward was 35-26-5 in his first NHL head-coaching stint. Sutter has been a head coach for 18 seasons in the NHL with the Chicago Blackhawks, San Jose Sharks, Flames and Los Angeles Kings. Sutter led the Kings to the Stanley Cup in 2012 and 2014, playing a puck-possessing system that made Los Angeles one of the league's top defensive teams. He has a career coaching record of 634-467-101-83, including 107-73-15-15 as head coach of the Flames from 2002 to '06, leading them to the Stanley Cup Final in 2004. He also served as the team's...
March 05
March 05

Walter Gretzky, father of hockey great Wayne Gretzky, dies at age 82

Walter Gretzky, the father of NHL great Wayne Gretzky, has died at age 82. Wayne Gretzky announced the news on Twitter on Thursday, saying his father "bravely battled Parkinson's and other health issues over these last few years, but he never let it get him down." "For me, he was the reason I fell in love with the game of hockey," Wayne Gretzky wrote. "He inspired me to be the best I could be not just in the game of hockey but in life. We will miss him so much, but know that he's back with our mom and that brings me and my family peace. He truly was the Great one and the proudest Canadian we know." Walter's wife, Phyllis, died of lung cancer in 2005. Walter was born in Ontario to Belarusian immigrants. He was named to the Order of Canada in 2007 "for his contributions to minor hockey in Canada and for his dedication to helping a myriad of local, provincial and national charities." He taught his son how to play hockey on a rink he built in their backyard. In his 1990...
March 05
March 05

Walter Gretzky, father of hockey legend Wayne Gretzky, dies at age 82

Walter Gretzky, the father of hockey legend Wayne Gretzky, has died at age 82. Wayne Gretzky announced the news on Twitter on Thursday, saying his father "bravely battled Parkinson's and other health issues over these last few years, but he never let it get him down." "For me, he was the reason I fell in love with the game of hockey," Wayne Gretzky wrote. "He inspired me to be the best I could be not just in the game of hockey but in life. We will miss him so much, but know that he's back with our mom and that brings me and my family peace. He truly was the Great one and the proudest Canadian we know." Walter's wife, Phyllis, died of lung cancer in 2005. Walter was born in Ontario to Belarusian immigrants. He was named to the Order of Canada in 2007 "for his contributions to minor hockey in Canada and for his dedication to helping a myriad of local, provincial and national charities." He taught his son how to play hockey on a rink he built in their backyard. In his 1990...
March 05
March 05

Draymond Green video fires up Michigan to clinch Big Ten men's basketball title vs. Michigan State

When his team needed a spark 48 hours after a tough loss, Michigan coach Juwan Howard turned to a rival: Draymond Green, the NBA standout and former Michigan State star. Howard said he used a video of Green trash-talking the Wolverines to help motivate his team prior to its 69-50 win over the Spartans on Thursday, sealing the program's first Big Ten title since 2014. In the video, per players, Green said he'd hoped Michigan would "never" win a game, showcasing the intensity of the rivalry between the two schools. "He had a nice little video I wanted the guys to listen to," Howard said after the game. "I think they really enjoyed watching it and listening to the words that were said." The former Fab Five star and second-year coach didn't reveal specifics about the video or its origins, but his players said it provided a boost for a team that entered Thursday's game hoping to forget about Tuesday's 76-53 home loss to an Illinois squad that...
March 05
March 04

Oklahoma State Cowboys star Cade Cunningham rolls ankle vs. Baylor Bears

Oklahoma State star Cade Cunningham left the men's basketball game against Baylor on Thursday after rolling his left ankle, but he was able to walk back to the locker room under his own power after the Cowboys' 81-70 loss. "It happened right in front of me there," coach Mike Boynton said. "I didn't see anything unusual other than stepping on a guy's foot. We'll get an evaluation, and as soon as we know more, we'll pass it on." Cunningham was dribbling up the left side of the floor in the final minute when he stepped on the foot of Baylor's Davion Mitchell and fell to the floor. He was grabbing at his left foot before going to the sideline and not returning. "I'm always first and foremost worried about his future," Boynton said of Cunningham, the projected No. 1 pick in this year's NBA draft. "As much as winning and representing our program is, my commitment to these kids is always first. So I want to make sure he's OK. If he's OK, he'll continue to work with us....
March 04
March 04

Greg McDermott suspended by Creighton after racially insensitive comments

Creighton men's basketball coach Greg McDermott has been suspended from all team activities for racially insensitive comments he made to his players last week, the school announced Thursday night. The decision came two days after the school said any disciplinary action would remain confidential. "After our Creighton men's basketball team returned to Omaha earlier today, Fr. Hendrickson and I engaged with other senior leaders in dialogue and discussion regarding appropriate sanctions for the remarks made by Head Men's Basketball Coach Greg McDermott that were not in alignment with Creighton's commitment to racial equity, diversity and respect," athletic director Bruce Rasmussen said in a statement. "Coach McDermott and the team have accepted that, effective immediately, he is suspended from all team activities, including Saturday's home season finale against Butler. Further sanctions remain under consideration, not all of which will be shared publicly. "Coach McDermott and our...
March 04
March 04

Tom Brady rookie card sells for record $1.32 million

A Tom Brady rookie card sold for a record $1.32 million on Thursday on PWCC Marketplace, an online auction house and repository for cards. The autographed 2000 Playoff Contenders Championship Ticket card was graded an eight with a 10 grading on the signature. It was purchased by James Park, a known card collector and noted Brady fan. "I lived in Boston for 10 years and so am a huge fan of Brady," Park said in comments posted to PWCC Marketplace's Instagram account. "I've also had a love of collecting cards since I was a kid. Given Brady's uncontested status as GOAT in football, this card is an important piece of sports history and of any collection." The $1.32 million price tag is believed to be the highest price paid for a football card, eclipsing the previous record by nearly $500,000. As the card marketplace continues to rise in interest and value, this sale soared past a recent Patrick Mahomes card that sold for $861,000 in the beginning of February. The 2017...
March 04
March 04

LSU internal investigation found Les Miles had 'inappropriate' behavior with female student workers in 2013

A 2013 internal investigation at LSU accused former coach Les Miles of inappropriate behavior toward female students, but did not find that Miles had sexual relationships with any of the women, according to an investigative report released by the university Thursday. According to the investigative report, first reported on by USA Today and obtained by ESPN, Miles was accused of contacting female students via Facebook and text, meeting them off campus alone and kissing at least one of them. According to the report, Miles strongly denied kissing the student and said he didn't do anything wrong, that he was mentoring young women at the university. Athletic department staff accused Miles of saying that female student employees who helped lure top recruits to the football team "needed to have a certain look," further implying that meant attractive, blonde and fit, according to the report, and if existing student employees didn't fit that description, they should be given fewer...
March 04
March 04

LeBron James takes Giannis Antetokounmpo first in 2021 NBA All-Star draft; Utah Jazz stars go last

The past two years, LeBron James couldn't have Giannis Antetokounmpo on his NBA All-Star team because the two of them were captains of their respective squads. But this year, with Kevin Durant getting the other captaincy opposite James, he made sure he would be playing alongside the NBA's two-time reigning Most Valuable Player by taking him with the first overall pick of Thursday night's All-Star Game draft on TNT. "I just try to pick players that can complement one another," James said before taking Antetokounmpo to begin the draft, when asked why he has won the first three times he has been a captain. "We're out on the floor, just try to play the game the right way. It's an All-Star Game, so it's going to be some shenanigans out there, but for the majority of the game, we just play the right way and try to get a win."   The leading vote-getters from the Eastern and Western Conferences then went back and forth in selecting the remaining starters for...
March 04
March 04

LeBron James takes Giannis Antetokounmpo first in 2021 NBA All-Star draft; Kevin Durant picks Kyrie Irving

The past two years, LeBron James couldn't have Giannis Antetokounmpo on his All-Star team, since the two of them were captains of the respective squad. But this year, with Kevin Durant getting the other captaincy opposite James, he made sure he would be playing alongside the NBA's two-time reigning Most Valuable Player by taking him with the first overall pick of Thursday night's All-Star Game draft. "I just try to pick players that can complement one another," James said before taking Antetokounmpo to begin Wednesday's draft, when asked why he's won the first three times he's been a captain. "We're out on the floor, just try to play the game the right way. It's an All-Star Game, so it's going to be some shenanigans out there, but for the majority of the game we just play the right way and try to get a win." The leading vote-getters from the Eastern and Western Conferences then went back-and-forth in selecting the remaining seven starters for next month's...
March 04
March 04

With COVID-19 restrictions lifted, Dana White wants to hold UFC event in Texas 'ASAP'

LAS VEGAS -- The UFC has not done a show in the United States outside its home of Las Vegas in nearly a year. That could be changing soon, according to UFC president Dana White. White said Thursday at the UFC 259 prefight news conference that as soon as he heard Texas Gov. Greg Abbott had lifted COVID-19 restrictions -- including a capacity limit for facilities -- he started making calls. White said the city of Dallas turned the UFC down, but the promotion is now working on Houston. The promoter, who has touted the fact that the UFC was the first major sport back, in May, after the start of the coronavirus pandemic, said he wants to run a UFC event in Texas -- with a full crowd -- as soon as he can. "I want to go to Texas ASAP," White said. "I'll go in the next two, three weeks. I'm ready to roll. We'll be first. We'll open this thing up, we'll sell it out and be on our way." White said UFC 260 on March 27, an event initially slated for Las Vegas, could be moved to Texas. And...
March 04
March 04

Villanova Wildcats PG Collin Gillespie expected to miss rest of season with torn MCL

Villanova guard Collin Gillespie has suffered a torn MCL in his left knee and is expected to miss the rest of the men's basketball season, the school announced Thursday. Gillespie left Wednesday's game against Creighton with 6 minutes, 38 seconds remaining in the first half after landing awkwardly and immediately grabbing at his left leg. He tried to walk it off along the baseline after the play, but he left the bench shortly after and had to be helped to the locker room. Gillespie didn't return, and coach Jay Wright said after the game it was a "serious" injury. An MRI on Thursday morning confirmed the MCL tear.  "We are all devastated for Collin," Wright said. "He is the heart and soul of our program. We know we can't replace him. We all just want to step up and play so that we can honor him. Collin is as mentally tough and resilient as any player we have had here. I know he will get through this and make it a positive for his career." Gillespie, a 6-foot-3 senior, was...
March 04
March 04

Report: LSU internal investigation found Les Miles had inappropriate behavior with female student workers in 2013

A 2013 internal investigation accused former LSU coach Les Miles of inappropriate behavior toward female students, but did not find that Miles had sexual relationships with any of the women, according to a USA Today report on Thursday. Citing the investigation, USA Today reported that Miles was accused of "texting female students, taking them to his condo alone, making them feel uncomfortable and, on at least one occasion, kissing a student and suggesting they go to a hotel after telling her he could help her career." According to the report, Miles strongly denied kissing the student and said he didn't do anything wrong, that he was mentoring young women at the university. Athletic department staff accused Miles of saying that female student employees who helped lure top recruits to the football team "needed to be attractive, blonde and fit," according to USA Today, and if they didn't fit that description, they should be given fewer hours or fired. In a statement...
March 04

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