Munenori Kawasaki doesn't always give English interviews, but when he does, they are among the best in history.
First, let's set the stage. Sunday started off as just an ordinary day. Baseball games were being played and the struggling Toronto Blue Jays trailed the Baltimore Orioles, 5-2, heading into the bottom of the ninth.
But the Jays rallied for four runs off closer Jim Johnson, with the ball-of-energy shortstop providing the game-winning two-run double.
Mark De Rosa, who scored the winning run, began the post-game interview but quickly stepped aside so Kawasaki could have his awesome moment in the spotlight.
He didn't disappoint:
"My name is Munenori Kawasaki. I am from Japan. I am Japanese!"
After those spectacular first words, he went on to thank his teammates for giving him the opportunity to secure the clutch hit. Shortly after, he was nailed with the shaving-cream pie and Gatorade bath.
Let me just say this.
I am (sadly) a Seattle Mariners fan. I was sad when Ken Griffey Jr. left. I was sad when Randy Johnson left. I was sad when Alex Rodriguez left. I've been sad about this team pretty much my entire existence. But when the M's let go of Munenori, I shed more than a single tear.
He isn't going to tear the cover off the ball, although he now has his average up to .247 after Sunday's 3-for-5 day. But he is always this excited. Always playing with passion. Always giving everyone high fives.
And as we now know, he gives some of the most entertaining interviews of all time.
It's always apparent that Kawasaki simply loves the game of baseball and is ecstatic to be playing it for a living, and with moments like these, he can put a smile on anyone's face.
Munenori wins. At everything. Forever.
Jabrill Peppers is already planting seeds for an alternative career if this whole football thing doesn't work out.
With college football fans anticipating the announcement of the recruit 247Sports' composite rankings has as third best in the entire 2014 class, Peppers used the massive platform of an ESPN broadcast to show off his rapping skills while thrilling the fans of Michigan by announcing he would be Wolverine.
Not only did Peppers show some courage by dropping some rhymes on national television, but the 5-star prospect also demonstrated some impressive composure and entertaining talent.
While Peppers used more of a slow-paced, spoken-word approach here, his performance isn't too shabby at all.
This isn't just a series of lazy rhymes and unconnected ideas. His words are clearly thoughtful and hold deep meaning to him personally. In this way, this was a fun reminder that athletes have various talents, hobbies and interests they pursue off the field.
As Peppers mentions, however, his priority remains on the field—as it should be.
He is 6'1" and 205 pounds with the speed and quickness to handle smaller receivers and the physicality to handle the bigger ones.
However, he's also been working on his rap game. Peppers, whose stage name is JReall, recently released this video for his song Don't Take it Personal. The song has earned some lofty praise.
Naughty by Nature's Vinnie Brown, via ESPN's Tom VanHarren, had this to say about Peppers' effort: “I watched the video and listened to the song and it is really good."
Of course, Brown has a previous connection to Peppers. While the two had lost touch, Brown describes himself as an uncle figure to Peppers.
Brown used to receive breakdancing lessons from Peppers' father, and he has known Peppers since he was a baby. As VanHarren notes, Peppers' father has been incarcerated for the past 10 years, which explains Peppers' line: "My dad planted the seed, though when I started to sprout, he couldn't be there to see."
This was an exciting moment to see, and there is going to be a lot more to see of the young, talented Peppers in the very near future.
Vincenzo Nibali captured his second career Grand Tour race and earned his third victory of the year on Sunday, winning the 2013 Giro d'Italia by 4 minutes 43 seconds.
There is no debating the Italian's dominance now, widely considered to be in the same class as world powers Alberto Contador, Chris Froome and Bradley Wiggins.
Nibali had the lead after the seventh stage of the event and never let go, cementing his victory when he captured the last two mountain stages in convincing fashion. This was despite talk of several riders potentially teaming up to thwart Nibali's chances in the mountain stages.
All the 28-year-old did was improve on his lead down the stretch and eventually coast in the final stage.
Nibali, the No. 5 cyclist in 2013, according to CyclingRanking.com, has proven his dominance. When other cyclists begin to talk about conspiring to collectively take you down, you know you've made it. His victory on Sunday showed just how far he has come, building on his spectacular 2010 campaign when he won the Spanish Vuelta.
The victory in his home country should only boost Nibali's confidence as he continues to soar.
He said after the race, according to the Associated Press, via CBC.ca:
It was a really unique emotion hearing all the fans cheering for me. I really enjoyed this stage. It was unbelievable seeing all those people along the road. This victory crowns a life's dream.
Nibali has already said that he won't be racing in the Tour de France this year, but he still has the Vuelta and the world title race in Florence to look forward to. The way things are going for the Italian, it's safe to say he's going to be a prime contender in those races.
Any doubt that Nibali is an elite cyclist should have evaporated by now. He's shown more than enough to earn the distinction.
James steps past the security guards looking dapper in some dark green pants with his tie clipped fashionably to his shirt, all while a guy clad from head to toe in orange is getting checked out by security behind him.
Of course, that guy is none other than Wade.
Wade throws on his headphones, grabs his little bag (which I'm assuming is full of matching orange beard trimmer, scissors, nailclippers, Q-tips and shaving cream) and struts on like he's not suited up in a full orange suit.
As ridiculous as the suit looks, somehow it's negated just a bit by the shoes he's completed the outfit with. They just make the whole thing come together, even if that does just mean bringing together a prison jumpsuit.
This isn't the first head-scratching outfit Wade has showed off in the playoffs this year. By my count, this is his fourth notably horrible outfit of the postseason, against just one that was solid enough to be noteworthy.
And, at the very least, he's not wearing a jacket that looks like it was made directly from his grandmother's couch.
I'm sure a lot of people are getting tired of it, but this is a trend that can continue for the next three decades for all I care.
Hopefully it keeps escalating to the point where somebody's coming to postgame press conferences dressed like The Thing from The Fantastic Four.
After 12 years of grueling anticipation, Tony Kanaan won the 2013 Indy 500 in dramatic fashion. After finally crossing the finish line, the racing world embraced Kanaan and collectively congratulated him, via ESPN, on a hard-fought victory.
During the course of the race, however, it was another driver that proved to be IndyCar's star of the future—Marco Andretti.
If you recognize the name, it comes with good reason, as Andretti is the latest in the line of racing's most decorated family. Grandfather Mario Andretti set the stage for glory, while father Michael Andretti is decorated in his own right.
With siblings experiencing success, the pressure was on the latest generation of Andretti racers to prove his worth—and that's exactly what he did.
After the 2013 Indy 500, Andretti leads all IndyCar racers with 168 points for the season, having pulled out top 10 finishes in each of his first five races. That includes two top five finishes, which set the stage for a breakout performance at the Indy 500.
And that's what we witnessed, as Andretti finished fourth and led 31 laps—a significant upgrade over last year's race.
In 2012, Marco Andretti started fourth and led 59 laps at the Indianapolis 500. Despite his marvelous start, Andretti's inexperience got the best of him, thus resulting in a 24th place finish in a race that he appeared capable of winning.
One year later, Andretti proved just how far he's come.
He finished 20 spots higher than a year ago, displaying poise that kept him in the chase from start-to-finish. While he eventually fell short of a victory, Andretti proved that the ability is there, and name value is only a piece of the puzzle.
The true glory is in the upside.
At 26, Andretti has more than a mile of future ahead of him, per say, in his IndyCar racing career. If there's anyone that proves such to be true, it's Tony Kanaan—the man who just won the Indy 500.
The man who won the event at 38 years of age.
As previously acknowledged, Marco Andretti has experienced the hottest start of any IndyCar driver.
All that's left is the victory to push him over the edge.
Even if he were to see victory evade him, Andretti is in prime position to win the 2013 IndyCar title, owning 168 points to date. He's 11 points ahead of the second-place Takuma Sato, who owns a victory and three top 10 finishes.
Sato finished 13th at the Indianapolis 500.
Achieving victory will be nothing short of a difficult achievement for Andretti, regardless of where he races. With that being said, no driver has been as consistent as the 26-year-old, which is a stunning truth considering his age and inexperience.
A top five finish at the 2013 Indy 500 simply solidifies his status as IndyCar's star of the future.
It has been a very long time since the Divas Championship has meant anything, namely because the division itself has so many structural problems.
Most women on the WWE roster are extremely limited in their ring skills which results in little to no focus being put on the division out of pure necessity.
The Divas have never been the true draw to a pay-per-view or a source for ratings on television, so they take a backseat to quite literally everything else including trending topics on Twitter and promotional material for Sonic's milkshakes.
No better person illustrates the current state of shambles that the Divas division is in than its champion Kaitlyn.
By and large, Kaitlyn is not the most overly popular Diva with the crowd today, nor does she possess the in-ring or mic skills to warrant the spotlight shining upon her.
Is she the worst WWE Diva of all time? I would argue against that statement. However, she is far from the best.
On the other hand, WWE does have a Diva on the roster who has proven herself worthy of this spot: AJ Lee.
Even without wrestling, Lee has managed to carve a niche for herself on WWE programming for over a year now.
She's proven herself capable of handling both heel and face gimmicks, cutting promos that many men on the roster wish they could do, and despite her lack of ring time over her career, is reliable in the ring as well.
Kaitlyn has held the Divas Championship for months and rarely ever defended it. Many times, she doesn't even appear on a show in a backstage capacity either.
In comparison, Lee is a near constant focal point that WWE can make better use of.
When you look at the rest of the roster that includes the essentially pointless Aksana and Rosa Mendes, the rarely appearing Tamina Snuka, Layla El, and Alicia Fox, the grossly underutilized Natalya and Naomi and the recently returning Bella Twins, Lee screams as the next logical champion.
Lee has the in-ring talent to wrestle as the Divas champion, the mic skills to pull off the promo requirements, the presence of character to remain interesting, the lust of the male audience to keep them focused and the diehard fan inside of her who respects her job enough to truly care about being in this position.
Perhaps more telling than anything else, AJ Lee also is the No. 1 contender to the Divas Championship, and when she has that match, she will assuredly become the next Divas champion.
Do you agree or disagree? Would you rather see someone else defeat Kaitlyn for the championship instead?
Leave your thoughts in the comments below.
With LeBron James and Gregg Popovich both just a single series victory away from meeting in the 2013 NBA Finals, fans around the league could be in for an intriguing matchup between the NBA's best player and its most revered head coach.
Whether or not that happens depends on the Miami Heat and San Antonio Spurs clearing one final hurdle in their respective conference finals. But before we get to the chances of both teams advancing, it's worth taking a moment to prove that both men are, in fact, the best at what they do.
The case for James is a strong one. He's got four of the past five MVP trophies on a shelf in his house (or wherever he keeps them) and just polished off a 2012-13 regular season for the ages. His status as the league's best player is so undisputed, so utterly unquestionable, that it feels a little ridiculous to even go over his credentials.
If you can't agree that James is the NBA's best player, you should probably make sure you don't have some kind of cranial bruising. Also, we can't be friends.
It's slightly more difficult to argue that Popovich is the NBA's best coach, but only because there are so many immeasurable factors that go into being good at his job. There are no points per game or defensive efficiency ratings that apply to individual coaches. And it's even trickier to pin down his value as a motivator, a teacher and a maker of in-game adjustments.
Everyone who's watched him run the Spurs since he took over in 1996 has some sense of how effective he is in all of those capacities, but without being intimately involved, it's hard to be sure just how much better he is than his peers.
Fortunately, an important group of Pop's peers—all 30 of the NBA's general managers—tell us every year that he's a cut above the rest.
In each of the past two annual GM polls, Popovich has been named the league's best overall coach. Before the 2012-13 season, he earned 80 percent of the vote. More specifically, the same pool of general managers named him the league's best motivator and the best in-game tactician.
And those four championship rings don't hurt his case, either.
So, now that we're all in agreement that James and Popovich are each at the top of their respective fields, it's time to address the likelihood of their meeting in the NBA Finals.
Obviously, the Spurs are in line to get there. They've got a 3-0 lead on the Memphis Grizzlies in the Western Conference finals, and unless the Grizz are going to become the first team in league history to come back from that deficit, it's safe to pencil the Spurs into the finals.
Seeing as we're on the topic of the Spurs' insurmountable lead, now might be a good time to laud Popovich for helping them get there. Apologies for another diversion, but Pop deserves his due.
San Antonio has amassed its lead in true Popovich-ian style. The Spurs have attacked the Grizzlies' vaunted defense with precise pick-and-roll sets, a whole bunch of corner threes and a mechanical devotion to the fundamentals of sound team defense. Pop's fingerprints are everywhere on this disciplined team, and sometimes they even come close to ending up around his players' necks.
When Popovich benched his entire starting five after just seven sloppy minutes in Game 3 against the Grizzlies on May 25, he proved just how uniquely powerful (and effective) he is as a coach. First of all, no other coach in the league would have dared to do what he did. These days, players don't stand for disrespect.
But Popovich was able to make such a bold move because his players already have such unconditional respect for him. And not only did he charge into territory that would have been fatal for any other coach in the league; he got the result he wanted. The Spurs' starters got the message, sorted themselves out and won the game.
Getting back to the issue at hand, the Spurs are a lock for the finals. And part of the reason for that is because Popovich has expertly guided them to this point.
The Heat have a tougher challenge ahead of them.
Indiana has proved to be a worthy foe with the kind of size, defensive tenacity and fearless approach that has already made the Heat look more vulnerable than they have at any point this season.
But Miami still has the world's best player in James, the knowledge that it has beaten the feisty Pacers before (in last year's conference semifinals) and a supporting cast that is bound to knock down some of the open shots it has missed so far. It'll be a fight, but the Heat are still a favorite to advance to the finals.
If that happens, it'll be an exciting challenge for Popovich. But it won't be an unexpected one.
Remember, the Spurs swallowed a hefty $250,000 fine for resting Tim Duncan, Tony Parker, Manu Ginobili and Danny Green in a Nov. 29 game in Miami. Popovich was behind the move, and it's clear in hindsight that he wasn't just trying to rest his best players.
He was hoping to avoid showing the Heat his hand before they met at the final table.
And because the Heat did the same thing in a game in San Antonio a few months after that, we don't really know how these teams are going to match up if they do end up in the finals together.
Popovich's experience against James in the finals is limited to a meeting between his Spurs and LBJ's Cleveland Cavaliers in 2007. That was a very different version of James, though, and it seems unlikely that the schemes Popovich employed to slow down the Cavs' uninventive isolation sets will be helpful this time around.
James is a better player now, and he's surrounded by a vastly superior cast of reserves.
It's hard to know how the Heat and Spurs will attack each other if they meet in the NBA Finals. But whatever strategies we see, the matchup is sure to be an exciting one. And that's because the principle parties—James and Popovich—are the very best at what they do.
Can anyone stop Rafael Nadal at this year's French Open? The short answer is no.
After all, the guy's won seven of the last eight French Open titles. It was at Roland Garros in 2005 that Nadal burst on the scene by beating Roger Federer in the semifinals en route to his first Grand Slam title.
The best thing Nadal could have done last year was to take a massive break. Losing to Lukas Rosol in the second round at Wimbledon told you something was wrong. Nadal has had problems with his knees but never to that extent.
His physical style of play has done a number on his knees, causing him to take a brief hiatus on multiple occasions. The New York Times has a great visual breakdown of what his knees undergo every time Nadal steps on a court.
Nadal made his return this past February at the VTR Open in Chile, where he ended up losing to Horacio Zeballos in the final. Since that point, however, it's been nothing but good things for Nadal.
You wondered with the mystery behind Nadal's return just what kind of player he would be. Nobody could have expected him to return to form this quickly.
He's won six singles titles in 2013 to run his match record to 36-2—the other loss coming to Novak Djokovic in Monte Carlo.
Despite the layoff, Nadal has come back to the court as strong as ever. He's hitting the ball very well and showing good movement on the court. Even a Nadal at 70 or 80 percent would be considered the favorite at Roland Garros. At 100 percent, Nadal is untouchable.
Getting drawn in the same side as Djokovic could cause problems, but the Serbian will have to be perfect in order to knock off Nadal. Djokovic has never captured the French Open—the only Grand Slam title that he hasn't won.
Djokovic will be a threat, but it's hard envisioning him being able to knock off Nadal.
Watching the Spaniard on clay is always a joy to watch.
His style of play suits the surface perfectly. With the relative slowness of the surface, the arc of his shots is most effective on clay. Opponents must rely on outworking Nadal to win, which is almost impossible to do.
Plus it looks at times as if Nadal has never set foot on another surface his entire life. He knows both how and when to slide in order to generate power and accuracy and to keep himself on the offensive.
With the way his knees have acted in the past, there's no telling how much longer Nadal's play will remain at such a high level. Fans should make sure to take the time and watch each and every second of his matches, for they are truly seeing a master of his craft.
The heavyweight king once again put a beating on "Bigfoot," finishing the Brazilian just one minute and 21 seconds into the opening frame.
Velasquez looks to be back to form following his lone career loss to Junior dos Santos in 2011, rattling off three straight dominant performances en route to his current title reign. And unless someone is lucky enough to land another wild haymaker like "Cigano" did, I doubt that the belt will be changing hands anytime soon.
In every one of his fights other than his first battle with dos Santos, Velasquez has completely controlled his opponents in a way that no other previous heavyweight champ has.
One obvious key to Velasquez's success has been his explosiveness, both with his hands and his takedowns. Other than teammate Daniel Cormier, who the champ vows to never face, there really aren't any fighters in the division who possess the same combination of high level wrestling and powerful striking.
Velasquez's explosive offense is the reason why he was able to overwhelm and take out "Bigfoot" in both their battles.
Another factor to Velasquez's success has been his ability to wear down his opponents.
Whether it's up against the fence or on the mats, the champ has been able to grind down his foes by wearing them out with his constant pressure.
A great example of this is Velasquez's second bout with dos Santos, where he not only won his title back, but also became the first fighter in UFC history to post triple digits in significant strikes landed and double digits in takedowns landed in a single fight.
By possessing both KO power and the ability to wear people down for five rounds, I just don't see any current heavyweight matching up well with the champ.
If you factor out Cormier, the only top contenders that remain are dos Santos, Alistair Overeem and possibly Roy Nelson.
While all three have the heavy hands and skill to land a devastating finishing blow, Velasquez just has better all-around MMA skills.
Until the heavyweight division can find someone who can match the champ both athletically and technically, I don't see Velasquez losing the title anytime soon.
Another Referee Waning That Leads to Nothing
Another example of “hey why not cheat” occurred during the Estevan Payan versus Jeremy Stephens bout. Payan grabbed the fence in the first round and was warned by referee Chris Tognoni that he would take a point away if he did it again. When Payan grabbed the fence in the third round, what do you think happened? That’s right, another warning, no deduction.
The odds of a point getting taken away for a fence grab seem to be in the range of one in a 100. The message this sends to fighters is that they may as well cheat, especially if they’re losing.
C’mon refs, you’re in the cage for two reasons, to protect the fighters and enforce the rules. Allowing fighters to cheat is not enforcing the rules. Take the point!
End of the Road for Brian Bowles?
Brian Bowles was back in the Octagon for the first time since November 2011, and like that fight, Bowles left with a second-round stoppage loss on his record, as he was TKO’d by George Roop.
One has to wonder if the 32-year old former WEC bantamweight champion remains emotionally invested in the fight game at this point in his career. If he’s not, it may be time for him to walk away, but then again, with two stoppage losses in a row, the UFC may make that decision a bit easier for him if they release Bowles.
Time For a Top-10 Opponent for Khabib Nurmagomedov
During the post UFC 160 media scrum, UFC president Dana White described Khabib Nurmagomedov’s win over Abel Trujillo as an “ugly wrestling clinic.” White then went on to say that Nurmagomedov needed to step up to face stiffer competition.
It’s hard to disagree with either statement. Nurmagomedov totally dominated the fight with his wrestling, landing a UFC-record 21 takedowns on 27 attempts. The number of takedowns Nurmagomedov landed were only two short of the number of significant strikes that he landed throughout the fight.
The win moved Nurmagomedov’s overall record to 20-0 and his UFC record to 4-0.
It will be interesting to see if the win launches Nurmagomedov into the top 10 in the UFC’s deep lightweight division. It will also be interesting to see who the UFC matches Nurmagomedov against in his next fight. It’s high time to put Nurmagomedov against a fighter who can wrestle with him or force him to strike, maybe Gray Maynard?
How will Abel Trujillo Respond to Loss at UFC 160?
Between the second and third round, Abel Trujillo’s corner implored him to not quit as he was being rag-dolled by Nurmagomedov. Trujillo was clearly frustrated as Nurmagomedov repeatedly took him to the mat. During the third round, the only defense that Trujillo mounted was to throw his hands in the air in frustration and look to the referee for assistance, assistance that did not come.
Did Trujillo just give up? Only he can answer that question. I’m more interested to see what comes from the lesson he learned. The loss was a moment of truth for Trujillo, showing him that he has a weakness he has to shore up. What he does when he returns to the Blackzilian camp following this weekend will tell the real tale about what kind of fighter Trujillo is.
Good Stoppage in Whittaker versus Smith Fight
Robert Whittaker used an effective striking game to earn the third-round stoppage over Colton Smith on Saturday night, but some, including UFC commentator Joe Rogan, thought the stoppage may have been a bit hasty. It wasn’t.
Smith was clearly on wobbly legs as he tried to convince the referee that the stoppage was early. The referee did his job in this bout, saving Smith from taking any more abuse than he needed to take.
A "Puzzling Decision" in Bermudez versus Holloway Fight
Dennis Bermudez earned a split-decision victory over Max Holloway at UFC 160, and there was some debate concerning that decision.
At first glance, the FightMetric numbers seem to justify the win. Bermudez outstruck Holloway, 75 to 73, and earned four takedowns on nine attempts. However, those numbers are a bit misleading. Bermudez earned only one of those takedowns prior to Round 3 and that takedown came near the end of the second stanza.
The striking numbers through the first two rounds were in favor of Holloway, as the younger fighter outstruck Bermudez, 51 to 37. The diversity of attack was also on Holloway’s side as he mixed up his striking throughout the bout.
Looking at the fight on a round-by-round basis, it’s hard to not give the win to Holloway, but the judges didn’t see it that way, leaving UFC commentator Joe Rogan somewhat dumbfounded. “I gotta say, that’s a puzzling decision,” Rogan said as Bermudez mean mugged for the camera in the Octagon.
I have to agree with Rogan on this one.
Score One For Donald Cerrone’s Sports Psychologist
Prior to UFC 160, Donald Cerrone told MMAFighting.com that he had been working with a sports psychologist:
It's like, I don't know if it's the camera or the pressure, but I've got to figure that out. Whatever makes me fight hard to get there, and then I seem to, like, fold under pressure. I don't know. I'm tryin' to [figure it out]. I got a new sports psychologist tryin' to work those kinks out.
After his win over K.J. Noons on Saturday night, Cerrone acknowledged the help of his sports psychologist, telling Joe Rogan, in the cage, “I’ve been working with a sports psychologist, Brian Cain, trying to start fast and finish strong, and follow the game plan. I get caught up in that ‘oh, I’m a better striker than you game and today I was really trying to work my takedowns, I feel good.”
The win was a big one for Cerrone, letting the lightweight division know that he may have been down after his loss to Anthony Pettis at UFC on Fox 6, but that was just a temporary setback.
Should the Cerrone versus Noons Bout Have Been Stopped?
One of the more important roles of the referee and doctors that work MMA fights is to protect the fighters. There may have been some failure in that regard during the Cerrone versus Noons bout.
Noons went to his corner between Rounds 2 and 3 and clearly said, “I can’t see out of my eye." The blood, from a cut above Noons’ eye was then wiped away, and he was asked if he could continue. Noons replied, “Yeah, get the blood out.” When he said that, there was no blood in the eye, none at all. A fact that was acknowledged by someone working the corner, who stated, “The blood is out.”
At that point, Noons was asked if he wanted to continue, to which he replied, “of course.” The response was not a surprise. After all, Noons is a professional fighter. It could be debated that the doctor should have stepped in at that point, clearly aware that Noons had asked the blood to be wiped from an unobstructed eye and protected Noons from himself.
T.J. Grant Answers Questions
Heading into UFC 160, many fans had doubts about T.J. Grant. Those doubts, for the most part, should have been erased following Grant’s first-round TKO win over Gray Maynard.
Maynard came out swinging for the fences. Grant took the best Maynard had to give and waved him in for more. When Grant found his opening, he dropped Maynard with a right and never let Maynard recover, just teeing off with punches and knees and earning a shot at UFC lightweight champion Benson Henderson.
And yes, Grant does deserve that title shot.
Time for a Top-10 Opponent for Glover Teixeira
Despite what Joe Rogan said during the pay-per-view broadcast, James Te Huna was not the biggest test of Glover Teixeira’s career. In fact, Teixeira was the heavy betting favorite to take the win. With that fact out of the way, Teixeira’s win was pretty impressive, and it should set him with a fight against a legitimate top-10 light heavyweight.
If it's up to Teixeira, according to MMAFighting.com, that fight will be against the winner of the upcoming Rashad Evans versus Dan Henderson bout. Evans and Henderson will meet in the main event of UFC 161.
Sounds good to me.
Junior dos Santos is in Love With His Boxing
The question heading into UFC 160’s co-main event was would Junior dos Santos stand with Mark Hunt, or would he decide to finally show us that he does indeed have a ground game?
The answer? Dos Santos, with the exception of a single takedown, was going to stand with Hunt, and he was going to outstrike him.
A risky proposition? Maybe it was, but it worked for dos Santos. What really worked for dos Santos was the wheel kick that he delivered from out of nowhere, knocking Hunt flat on his back and ending the fight in the third round.
It was an impressive performance from dos Santos, but it was also a clear indicator that dos Santos is in love with his boxing. Dos Santos may want to end that love affair before he meets Cain Velasquez again. At the very least, he should step out on his striking and pay a little visit to his jiu-jitsu mistress.
No Case for Antonio Silva
Give Antonio Silva some credit, the ice pack to the back of the skull during the UFC 160 post-fight press conference was a nice touch, but it wasn’t going to do much in the way of selling his theory that he was beaten about the back of the head during his loss to UFC heavyweight champion Cain Velasquez.
By the time the single Velasquez punch strayed to the back of Silva’s head, the fight was effectively over. At best, the single strike would have earned a warning from the referee.
Velasquez is in a class by himself, a single illegal blow wasn’t going to change that fact.
Mike Tyson Should be a UFC Fixture
Mike Tyson should be cageside for every UFC fight card. The fighters loved it, the fans loved, Tyson loved it. Make it happen, Dana White.
Commercials During a Pay-Per-View?
Uh yeah, what was with the commercials? I understand that the Fertitta brothers are behind Ultimate Poker, but that site, at least for real cash, can only be played in Nevada at this time.
We were also shown commercials for Las Vegas as well as a promo/commercial for Harley Davidson. Am I the only one that found this odd during a pay-per-view?
Was UFC 160 the bloodiest fight card from start to finish in UFC history? If it wasn’t, it had to be in the top three. By the end of the fight, the canvas looked like a crime scene.
The amount of blood that was spilled during the event was just a little reminder to everyone that the individuals who choose to become professional MMA fighters are a very special breed.
This wasn't the way the Memphis Grizzlies envisioned things going against the San Antonio Spurs.
After Saturday's 104-93 overtime loss at home, they now trail in the series, 3-0. In NBA playoff history, 107 teams have faced 3-0 deficits in best-of-seven series—all 107 teams have ultimately fallen.
But don't think the Grizzlies are going to lie down and allow the Spurs to sweep them in Memphis.
The series stats are frankly ugly for the Grizzlies. They are shooting 38 percent through three games, including 66 percent from the free-throw line. On the flip side, the Spurs are shooting 49 percent from the the field and 40 percent from beyond the arc.
As ESPN put it:
But, then again, this isn't a team that shrinks from a challenge.
The Grizzlies' franchise has changed throughout the years. This is a franchise that lost its first 12 playoff games—an NBA record—yet hasn't been swept in a playoff series since 2006.
This season, the Grizzlies came back from an 0-2 series deficit in the Western Conference quarterfinals to win the next four games against the Los Angeles Clippers. They proceeded to beat up the Oklahoma City Thunder in five games.
This is also the same team that knocked the Spurs out of the playoffs two seasons ago.
Point guard Mike Conley said after going 8-of-21 in Game 3, according to the Associated Press, via ESPN.com:
We have a lot of pride in this team, in this city. It's more than just basketball here, and we owe it to ourselves, owe it to the fans to not get swept and get embarrassed on our home court.
It's also worth noting that the last two games have gone into overtime. It's not like the Spurs have been manhandling the Grizzlies. You would think it's only a matter of time before the Grizzlies win one of those close games, especially in Memphis, where they went 32-9 in the regular season.
The reality is, if the Grizzlies simply made their free throws in those last two games, they would have been leading in the series, 2-1. They've curiously been horrendous at the free-throw line after shooting 77 percent from the charity stripe against the Spurs in the regular season.
So, yes, San Antonio holds a commanding lead and will probably advance to the NBA Finals. But it would be shocking if a Grizzlies team that has built an identity as a tough squad simply lets the Spurs walk all over them.
The A's finished out their third sweep of the 2013 season against the predictably woeful Houston Astros this afternoon. That makes them nine for nine, so far, and pushes their record to 28-23 on the year.
While I have been one to write about the A's traditional second-half surges, I am also wise enough to know that this year is unique. In other words, leaning on past results is probably not a way to assess future results completely.
That is important to note, because Oakland faces an upcoming schedule that, like Mount Everest, increases in difficulty the closer it gets. The A's have teams like the Cincinnati Reds, St. Louis Cardinals, New York Yankees, San Francisco Giants, Boston Red Sox and road games against the Pittsburgh Pirates and the very-good-at-home Milwaukee Brewers to finish the first half.
The relevance in this is that, unlike last year's interleague schedule, this year projects to be much more difficult, as outlined by TeamRankings. And it appears as though the Los Angeles Angels are overcoming their ghastly 2013 start, making victories all the more important.
Ultimately, that means all of the games that are expected to be won must be won. Currently, the A's have a 4.76 starters ERA, good for 24th in baseball. That is a precipitous drop-off from 2012 and one of the biggest reasons for the A's relative lack of success in many games. Against good teams, the A's have to get to their quality bullpen, and they have not done that in enough games this year.
For all of the good teams the A's play, there are still 10 games against a team that is not and will not be any good: the Houston Astros. Yes, the A's are 9-0 on the year against Houston. That means this team is 19-23 against the rest of baseball. If you factor in their 5-1 start against the then-struggling Angels, the A's would be 14-22.
What that means is that in what is still expected to be a tight race to the finish in both the American League West and wild-card positions, the A's have to win every game they are expected to. Considering the West was won on the final game of the 2012 season, it stands to reason that Oakland may very well need all of their 19 games against Houston to be wins.
This is especially true after the controversial loss in Cleveland on May 8. One game makes all the difference sometimes. In the case of the A's, it might be 19 in 2013. So far, they have been a perfect nine, if that makes sense.
In an era of “super teams,” a matchup between two “complete” squads would be a breath of fresh air for followers of the pinnacle level of the sport of basketball.
The 2013 NBA playoffs have gone pretty much as we expected them to—the Miami Heat and San Antonio Spurs vying for their shot to return to the NBA Finals.
LeBron James is, without a doubt, the best player in the league today. He has had a remarkable season that netted him his fourth Most Valuable Player award.
After he won his first championship, there is nothing The King has left to prove to himself or anyone. Unless, of course, you’ve forgotten about the initial and ambitious press conference James led after agreeing to take his talents to South Beach.
If the Heat make it back to the finals and hoist the Naismith Trophy, we won’t blink an eye. “That was expected,” we'll say to ourselves as we prepare for yet another NBA season next fall.
However, what should we think if the Indiana Pacers somehow find a way to usurp the James-led Heat from the Eastern Conference Finals?
After last year’s playoffs showing and two games thus far in 2013, they certainly have proven to have the “formula” to do just that.
While James leading the Heat to another championship would be great for ratings, that isn’t the only route for the NBA to benefit from during this year’s playoffs.
Competition is a beautiful thing. An underdog story like Indiana's is almost too good to be true. Before our very eyes, George is rapidly rising to superstardom this postseason.
His Pacers may not bring the excitement that the James Gang has evoked in the nation, but they have had their fair share of highlights—especially thanks to George. They don't quite have the collective appeal of the Heat, but they are fun to watch.
So why are so many people against the idea of seeing the Pacers knock off the Heat and meet the Spurs in the Finals (assuming San Antonio finishes off Memphis)?
Hoopsworld’s Alex Kennedy recently slammed the possibility of that matchup with a stinging analogy (via Twitter):
He wasn’t the only one. The Dan Le Batard Show weighed in on the implications of a Pacers upset (via Twitter):
While the outlook of most seems bleak, there is a lot to be said about this potential Finals scenario.
San Antonio has long been dubbed as a “boring” team due to its “slow” and methodical style of play. Boring or not, you can’t argue with the team's results. The Spurs have won three championships over the past decade and haven’t missed the playoffs once during that span.
That type of perpetual success doesn’t just happen for a bad team.
ESPN’s Mike Hill recently said it best (via Twitter):
He’s right, too. The Spurs have been a juggernaut in the NBA for over a decade thanks to solid coaching by Gregg Popovich and a consistent nucleus of talent that implements his vision on the court.
They don’t do any individual thing great, but they do enough in every facet of the game to be wildly successful.
On the other hand, Indiana is an up-and-coming team fashioned similarly in the mold of the Spurs. George is a developing star surrounded by a solid and well-rounded group that uses defense and ball movement to wear teams down.
A Spurs versus Pacers matchup could be dubbed as a “changing of the guard” type of matchup. While allegedly fading with age, the Spurs could solidify their 2000s dynasty by adding a fourth championship to the AT&T Center rafters.
Conversely, a championship for the rising Pacers would signal the arrival of a new powerhouse in the NBA’s hierarchy. Knocking off the Heat and Spurs back to back to win the franchise’s first NBA championship would be a mammoth story that could help bring back disillusioned fans nationwide.
Then again, maybe everyone would prefer to see the Heat dominate the league and win the title every season.
The Los Angeles Angels are clicking on every cylinder right now—even the injury rehabilitation cylinder.
After securing their eighth straight victory on Sunday afternoon, Mike Scioscia's squad delivered more encouraging news when it revealed that ace Jered Weaver will soon return from the disabled list.
The news comes via The Los Angeles Times' Bill Shaikin:
And the rich get richer.
Much like last year, the Angels—after an active offseason—stumbled out of the gates to an atrocious start. Due in part to Weaver hitting the DL with a fractured left elbow, they lost eight of their first 10 and dropped all the way to 15-27 in the middle of May.
Since that point, however, they have caught fire, jumped to 23-27 and quickly climbed back to within 9.5 games of the first-place Texas Rangers.
Weaver's return should only help them continue to close that gap.
The 30-year-old righty struggled in his only two starts this season, giving up six runs on nine hits and six walks through 11 innings before his injury. But history suggests those numbers are nothing but an anomaly.
Last year, Weaver led the league with 20 wins while compiling a 2.81 ERA and 1.02 WHIP. He finished third in Cy Young voting—the third consecutive year he finished in the top five—and even received a ninth-place vote for MVP.
He has been a stud for the majority of his seven-year career and will undoubtedly help raise L.A.'s team ERA of 4.43, which ranks near the bottom of the league.
With Jerome Williams pitching very well in Weaver's stead, it will likely be Joe Blanton losing his rotation spot. The veteran is 1-7 with a 6.19 ERA and 1.87 WHIP in 10 starts.
Meet Robbie Rogers. He is eligible to make his Los Angeles Galaxy debut on Sunday night against the Seattle Sounders. And he is openly gay.
Soon enough, this won't be news—and Rogers will be someone we can thank for that.
It's been a roller-coaster ride for the talented 26-year-old.
In February, just over three months ago, he dropped two bombshells on the sporting world at the same time—he was gay, and he was retiring from the sport of soccer.
Six weeks later, he helped shed light on his decision to The Guardian's Donald McRae:
I wouldn't want to deal with the circus. Are people coming to see you because you're gay? Would I want to do interviews every day, where people are asking: "So you're taking showers with guys – how's that?"
If you're playing well it will be reported as: "The gay footballer is playing well." And if you have a bad game it'll be: "Aw, that gay dude … he's struggling because he's gay." (Expletive) it. I don't want to mess with that.
As Rogers quickly found out, however, it's difficult to walk away from something you truly love, no matter how difficult it might be.
With help from family, peers, Landon Donovan and NBA player Jason Collins, Rogers compiled the courage necessary to eventually return to the sport.
Robbie Rogers is eligible to make his debut for the Los Angeles Galaxy on Sunday night after MLS said it had received his International Transfer Certificate.
The former U.S. national team winger will become the first active openly gay male athlete to compete in an American professional team sport when he makes his debut for the Galaxy.
In the past few months, we have seen some major movement toward complete equality in sports.
In April, women's basketball superstar Brittney Griner revealed she was gay. Just before that, UCLA's Jim Mora became the first major college football coach to encourage gay athletes to play for him when he participated in the "You Can Play" campaign. Days earlier, the NHL launched a measure in support of gay athletes.
There's only so much effect any of those developments can afflict, though.
Rogers, on the other hand, is different. Not only is he the first male player to actually compete in a major American team sport, but he is doing so as one of the more talented players in the game. He has the opportunity to be a visible role model whom kids such as himself didn't have growing up.
The dominoes for complete equality in the sports world are being set up, and Rogers represents the inspirational nudge to set everything in motion.
When the name "Donovan McNabb" is uttered in Washington, fans shudder. For all the good that Mike Shanahan has done in D.C. since his arrival, McNabb's flameout as quarterback ranks up there with Albert Haynesworth's despicable tenure as one of the team's worst moves of the last decade.
Yet, in a sign of the changing fortunes of the club, McNabb's failure yielded an immense amount of good. When Washington smartly traded him to Minnesota in 2011, they received a sixth-round pick that materialized into the 173rd selection in the 2012 draft.
That was the day that Alfred Morris became a Washington Redskin.
All Morris did was set a franchise record for rushing yards in a season as a rookie, plowing his way to 1,613 yards and 13 touchdowns. In a year where Robert Griffin III and Kirk Cousins stole the headlines in Washington, Morris became arguably the best and most important player donning the burgundy and gold.
This begs the question: will Morris even approach the same success in 2013?
It may not seem like it, but gaining 1,600 yards on the ground in a season is a very rare feat. Fifty-one players in NFL history have done it, and only 12 of those players have done it more than once, meaning Morris would enter some very, very good company if he managed to do it again.
In fact, only seven players have ever gone for 1,600 yards in back-to-back seasons, so chances are Morris probably won't set the world on fire again. Remember, he needed 200 yards in his final game to get to his ultimate yardage total.
1,600 yards in consecutive seasonsYears Eric Dickerson 1983-84 LaDainian Tomlinson 2002-03 Shaun Alexander 2004-05 Tiki Barber 2005-06 Earl Campbell 1979-80 Terrell Davis 1997-98 Larry Johnson 2005-06
That doesn't mean he won't be spectacular, though. Morris should be expected to run for anywhere between 1,200 and 1,400 yards; his body can take the punishment and he's playing behind an offensive line that really only has one question mark at right tackle.
In addition, the Redskins' offensive schemes lend themselves to a runner like Morris. On one end, you have the finesse of RGIII as a threat to run from out of the shotgun; on the other, there's the bull-like style of Morris who can break tackles as well as find openings in the secondary.
There are concerns over his workload though, as he carried the ball 335 times as a rookie and accounted for 91 percent of the yards gained by Redskins' running backs—who, for all intensive purposes, were non-existent due to the dual-threat option that RGIII provided.
That's where things get interesting. There are differing opinions about whether or not the Redskins should scale back on RGIII's tendency to run. If they lean towards keeping him in the pocket, there will have to be a dependable second option at running back or Morris will inevitably hit a wall, or worse, suffer a debilitating injury.
If Washington can groom an adequate back to take 8-12 carries away from him on any given Sunday, we might be looking at another monstrous season from Morris. Be it Roy Helu, Jawan Jamison or Chris Thompson, someone will have to be there to ensure Morris will stay fresh as the season goes along. And, of course, RGIII will always gain yards on the ground, limited or not.
This means Morris probably won't get as many carries as he did in 2012. With that decrease in touches come fewer yards. But that doesn't mean he'll have any less of an impact. Morris is the motor that makes the offense run, and the constant threat he poses makes defenses scramble on pass plays and run plays alike. While he might post less-impressive stats, he'll be every bit the contributor he was as a rookie.
In 2013, we will learn if Alfred Morris is a legitimate franchise back or a one-hit wonder. He won't surprise the league this year—he's on every NFL team's radar now—and will have to fight even harder to make an impact. But if 2012 was any indication, Redskins fans are in for a treat, courtesy of one of the most exciting young players in the NFL.
Los Angeles has an opportunity to punch its ticket for the Western Conference finals tonight in San Jose. Game 6 between the Kings and Sharks is underway at HP Pavilion , where San Jose is 4-0 this postseason.
The Sharks trail Los Angeles 3-2 in a series that has seen the home team win every game. The Kings claimed a 3-0 victory in Game 5, riding goalie Jonathan Quick's seventh playoff shutout to a pivotal win.
Can San Jose stave off elimination, or will Los Angeles move one step closer to a Stanley Cup repeat? Stay tuned right here for live updates, analysis and reaction.
If Day 2 of the 2013 French Open is anything like Day 1, tennis fans will be in for some fun.
Venus Williams was bounced in the first round. It's an upset, but it's not all that shocking considering she was only the 30th seed. Williams lost in the second round of last year's tournament as well.
The early stages of any Grand Slam generally aren't full of surprises. They're more about watching the top seeds establish their dominance and setting the tone for how the tournament will unfold later.
Here are three of the best matches to watch during Monday's French Open action.
No. 3 Rafael Nadal vs. Daniel Brands
Rafael Nadal will be the player to beat at Roland Garros. Novak Djokovic may be the top seed, but it's Rafa who should be considered the favorite to win.
He's been great since returning to the court, winning six singles titles and coming into Roland Garros with a 36-2 record in 2013. His progress won't be accurately judged until after the French Open. He wasn't able to take part in the Australian Open, so this is his first Grand Slam of the year.
Nadal has been the king of France, taking seven of the last eight tournament titles. Watching him at the French Open is a joy no matter who his opponent is.
With the way his knees have been, you have to wonder if Nadal's career could be curtailed much earlier than the past greats' careers were. Nadal needs to make the most of every Grand Slam opportunity.
He should make quick work of Daniel Brands.
No. 5 Tomas Berdych vs. Gael Monfils
Tomas Berdych has had a pretty nice buildup to the French Open. He has, though, managed to get deep into most of his tournaments, including upsetting Djokovic at the Rome Masters. Berdych won't be considered a major threat in the tournament, but he could make a nice run.
He's got to be frustrated drawing Gael Monfils in the first round. Berdych has been the winner all three times these two have played, but a match at Roland Garros is a bit of a different story.
Monfils will have the home crowd behind him, and the French Open has always brought out his best Grand Slam performances. He made the semifinals in 2008 and two quarterfinals (2009 and 2011).
Berdych will be the heavy favorite, but there's a very good chance Monfils makes this interesting and pushes the fifth seed to five sets.
No. 2 Maria Sharapova vs. Su-Wei Hsieh
Last year, Maria Sharapova completed her career Grand Slam by beating Sara Errani in straight sets at Roland Garros. She then turned around and made the semifinals at the 2012 U.S. Open and 2013 Australian Open.
It's been a pretty good 2013 for Sharapova, but she's been overshadowed by Serena Williams. Williams has been on an imperious run of form.
Sharapova will be the biggest threat to Williams in this tournament. The clay of Roland Garros has always given Williams fits, with his last win coming in 2002. That's a nice equalizer for Sharapova considering she's lost to Williams three times this year.
It's important that Sharapova get off to a nice start at the French Open.
No lead has been safe with the San Antonio Spurs involved in a game so far in the playoffs, and that's just what brought them to this 3-0 advantage over the Memphis Grizzlies in the Western Conference Finals, one step away from a sweep.
San Antonio has been ahead by 18 points and behind by 18 in the past two games against the Grizzlies, and both have gone into overtime.
Spurs are 3-2 in last 2 postseasons in games in which they were down by 18+ points.Rest of NBA is 3-61 over last 2 postseasons— ESPN Stats & Info (@ESPNStatsInfo) May 26, 2013
Needless to say, it's been a strange one, especially considering the Spurs have won the first three games despite extremely different circumstances.
Between Tim Duncan's late-game dominance and Zach Randolph's curious inability to build any kind of momentum, it seems as if the Spurs are well on their way to their fifth NBA Finals appearance since 1999.
What will it take for the Grizzlies to start their trek down the comeback trail, and what are the odds that San Antonio will record the first conference finals sweep since the New Jersey Nets beat the Detroit Pistons in four games back in 2003?
Time: Monday, May 27, 9 p.m. ET
Where: FedExForum, Memphis
Series: San Antonio, 3-0
Key Storyline: The Power Forward Disparity
Game 1 stands out as strange compared to the last two that we've seen between Memphis and San Antonio.
As the Spurs spent the majority of the game getting work done around the perimeter with their backcourt players, Memphis used its usual inside-outside game, getting solid production from Mike Conley and Marc Gasol.
Tim Duncan walked away with six points and 10 rebounds, while Zach Randolph flopped with two points and seven boards (and an astonishing plus/minus of minus-28).
From there, Duncan seemed to be jarred awake, while Randolph continued on the same track through the next two games.
Duncan went on to average 20.5 points, 9.5 rebounds, four assists, three blocks and a steal over the next two contests, shooting over 51 percent in the process. Even more impressively, in the two overtime periods in Games 2 and 3, Duncan has scored 13 points on 6-of-9 shooting with three rebounds, an assist, a steal and a block.
Most of this is coming with Gasol guarding him as Lionel Hollins looks for any way to slow the big man down.
It's gotten to the point where San Antonio is shooting so well from the perimeter that Randolph has to go out and hover all over Matt Bonner, giving Duncan a solid look at the basket on every high pick-and-roll that he's pulling off with Tony Parker or Manu Ginobili.
Gasol is playing too high in the post, and Duncan is able to roll just fast enough to find space for layups or to kick it out to the perimeter.
Duncan isn't moving like he's a 25-year-old standing next to David Robinson anymore, but he's still producing like he is.
37-year-old Tim Duncan: "Am I surprised at what I'm able to do? I'm just here to play, man. I'm not worried about how old I am."— J.A. Adande (@jadande) May 26, 2013
Randolph has been an utter disaster over those two games as far as shooting is concerned, averaging 14.5 points on 34 percent shooting while nabbing a ridiculous 16.5 rebounds per game (eight offensive). It seems that he's doing his best to make up for being absolutely overmatched on offense (even when Bonner is guarding him he's having troubles) by inhaling rebounds.
So far it hasn't been enough for the Grizzlies, mostly because he's not converting a ton of those offensive rebounds into points.
Randolph is going to be key in Game 4. The only question is whether he's a key player for the Grizzlies or the Spurs.
Series Star So Far: Tony Parker
While Duncan has been an absolute monster late in games, it's been Parker who has done a ton of the legwork from start to finish in the first three.
From his 18-assist night in Game 2 to his 26 points in Game 3 and his constant ball-hawking throughout, Parker has been incredibly effective, even given his poor shooting night in Game 2.
He's making the right passes (as usual), scoring at a relatively efficient clip at 46.4 percent (as usual) and doing his best to protect the ball and work inside the Spurs' offensive system, never going straight into hero ball for more than a possession.
So far, Parker is averaging 20.3 points, 10.7 assists, 3.3 rebounds and 2.7 steals through the first three games of the series.
It's pretty safe to say that Parker has been the driving force of the San Antonio offense, completely controlling the pace of the game on his own at times.
Projected Starting Lineups:
San Antonio Spurs: Tony Parker (PG), Danny Green (SG), Kawhi Leonard (SF), Tim Duncan (PF), Tiago Splitter (C)
Memphis Grizzlies: Mike Conley (PG), Tony Allen (SG), Tayshaun Prince (SF), Zach Randolph (PF), Marc Gasol (C)
Injury Report (Via CBSSports.com):
No injuries reported.
No injuries reported.
San Antonio Wins If...
The offense continues to flow.
San Antonio has racked up 77 assists in the first three games of this series (compared to Memphis' 57), its offense getting into grooves where every single player seems to know what the others are doing three and four steps into the future.
In essence, the Spurs are running a near-perfect offense, save two or three quarters out of 12.
Their pick-and-roll is running so smoothly that it seems like the main participants have been running it for over a decade—oh wait, they have.
Out of the pick-and-roll, drives to the basket will either finish with a solid look at a layup or a kick out to either corner that leads to the ball moving around the perimeter until the most wide-open shot is found. It turns Memphis' defense into a confused mass of closeouts happening too slowly and guys getting lost, especially late in games.
If that continues, look for San Antonio to close out the sweep.
Memphis Wins If...
Both post players contribute on offense.
Zach Randolph has made steady improvement over the course of the series. The only problem is that his improvement is building upon a 1-of-8 night that killed his team in Game 1.
He's ratcheted things up to 6-of-18 in Game 2 and 5-of-14 in Game 3, improving from 12.5 percent from the field in Game 1, all the way up to 35.7 percent in Game 3.
Marc Gasol has had a bit of a rough series as well. Of course, it's helping Gasol with Randolph playing so poorly that his own troubles pale in comparison.
Gasol is shooting just 39 percent in the first three games, averaging 14.3 points.
With the three-pointers falling at a similarly poor rate that they did during the regular season (34.6 percent is a slight improvement), the Grizzlies really need both post players making solid contributions.
While the offense is a struggle, they are having solid contributions on the rebounding front, combining for 25 boards per game.
Memphis really needs to find a way to get those two rolling early and keep them hot, otherwise it could be a disappointing exit after an exciting first two rounds.
San Antonio proved in Game 3 that a loud, towel-waving crowd in Memphis does nothing to faze the Spurs' attack.
With Duncan in a stellar groove, Parker running the offense as well as he ever has and the peripheral members of the Spurs making sure that everything goes according to plan, the Spurs have become a tough team to hold down.
They've come back from a 18-point deficit, frittered away an 18-point lead while still staying confident and worked their way to a blowout all in three games; there's not a situation they haven't succeeded in so far.
Memphis' defense is going to have to be stellar to slow down the free-flowing, well-oiled Spurs attack in order to walk away with a win in Game 4.
Duncan might just need more than a celebratory beer after Game 4.
Duncan sipping a celebratory beer in the training room.— Zach Lowe (@ZachLowe_NBA) May 26, 2013 San Antonio Spurs 97, Memphis Grizzlies 91
While the expansion Okotoks Lady Outlawz still undergo their first season woes in the Western Women’s Canadian Football League, Tegan Donnelly represents a bright future ahead. As one of the younger players on the squad, she is a lifelong football fan who is enthusiastic about being able to step onto the gridiron.
“I grew up watching football and I've always loved the sport. Yet, I really fell in love a couple years back when I became really good friends with a bunch of guys who played. I used to go out and throw the ball around with them, and they would always tell me that I had a good arm and I should consider playing. I'm still not sure whether or not they meant it... but here I am!!!”
As one of the younger players on the team, Donnelly is quick to notice the unique dynamic on the team. With a blend of younger and older players, along with several mothers competing, there is a unique feeling of family on the expansion Lady Outlawz. She admires the dedication and perseverance required to compete.
“Honestly, I look up to all the ladies who dedicate their time to come and play. Especially the ones that are juggling kids, a job, and who knows what else. There is something in each and every one of them that I admire.”
“Since I've joined the team it's like I've gained twenty something new moms, and I look up to every one of them. Best of all, they are all so different but they all have a fierce determination when it comes to football.”
With great determination, Donnelly wanted to prove any doubters wrong and state that she would not be finished after one hit. The negative comments that were sent in her direction were used as motivation. Employing the heart of a lion, Donnelly has shown the courage needed to excel on the gridiron.
"I must explain that it was a couple of my guy friends who said that. They thought that girls had no place in football, which just left me frustrated and even more determined to play. So it means a lot that I am able to prove them wrong. I'm not a pathetic, helpless girl. I will do what needs to be done in order to finish what I started, and if that means putting my body on the line, then so be it.”
“I was determined not to be finished after the first hit, but of course I had no idea what would happen. Maybe I'm crazy, but I think that hitting and being hit is honestly the best part (maybe I've been hit too many times). There is nothing as satisfying as making a solid tackle.”
While the Lady Outlawz have been unable to win their first game in franchise history, morale has stayed upbeat. Despite the setbacks, Donnelly keeps the losing streak in perspective. With great maturity, Donnelly acknowledges that there have been mistakes, but she is determined to ensure they are not repeated. In asking Donnelly, what she does to stay positive, she replied:
“Easy. I live from play to play. In my opinion, it is essential to forget about what happened in the past, whether it was a bad play or a lost game. I just keep moving forward. The past two games have honestly made me more determined than ever.”
“I know I've made mistakes on the field, but I will do my best not to let them happen again. I treat everything as a learning experience. It is easy to stay positive when I am surrounded by such a fabulous and supportive group of ladies, and such wonderful coaches.”
Having accomplished a dream by playing football, Donnelly has become one of many pioneers in Western Canada who have helped lay the foundation for a healthy future of professional women’s football. For any young women that have considered playing football, Donnelly offers the following advice:
“Don't knock it until you try it. It is amazing. I have played many sports, and I have never felt the same way before. There is nothing that can compare to the way you feel when you are out on that field.”
“All quotes obtained first hand unless otherwise indicated”