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Monday, March 30, 2015

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Referees pull shady move at end of Duke-Utah game to help Duke cover spread

Utah

The referees in charge of the Duke-Utah NCAA Tournament Sweet 16 game on Friday pulled nothing short of a shady move that also happened to help the Blue Devils cover the spread.

Duke won the game by six points 63-57 to cover the spread that ranged from 4.5 to 5.5 points at most books. The Blue Devils were up 62-57 when time expired and it looked like they would walk away with a five-point win, which would have resulted in a push or lost bet in many cases for Duke bettors. However, after Utah players had already left the floor, the referees decided that they committed a foul in the final second of the game. The refs called the Utes players back onto the floor from the locker room and forced them to finish out the game with 0.7 seconds left.

The foul they determined was committed by Utah put Quinn Cook at the free throw line for Duke. He made one of two free throws and gave Duke a 63-57 lead which covered the spread.

The game was already over with Duke having won 62-57. Putting Duke at the free throw line and adding 0.7 seconds left was not going to change which team won. The only thing it would change was the point spread.

People can close their eyes to this sort of thing, but we all know that referees have been involved in gambling scandals (remember this guy?). I cannot think of any reason why they would have decided so long after the fact to call a foul, add time to the clock, and put Duke at the free throw line. Someone involved in officiating that game was motivated by having Duke cover the spread. It was too obvious.

Did Dean Smith’s gifts to former players violate NCAA rules?

dean-smith

Earlier this week, we were treated to a heartwarming example of why Dean Smith is one of the most respected coaches in sports history when each of his former players began receiving checks for $200. The late UNC coach willed $200 to each of his former lettermen so they could enjoy a dinner on him.

Believe it or not, Smith’s final act of kindness may have violated NCAA bylaws.

As Marc Edelman of Forbes notes, the NCAA’s “no pay” rules prevent college athletes from accepting payments of any form that are based on their status as athletes. And no, it doesn’t matter that the former UNC players are 18 or more years removed from their college careers.

Rules even prohibit former collegiate athletes from accepting payments after they graduate if the payments are based on services they provided while in college. Those rules have been highlighted recently to explain how former NCAA athletes need to be careful with crowd-funding websites.

It goes without saying that it would be an absolute joke if the NCAA tried to step in and have any part of Smith’s touching gesture. We have seen some very ridiculous NCAA violations over the years, but this would take that to an entirely new level.

Tom Brady goes cliff jumping in Costa Rica (Video)

Tom-Brady-cliff-jump

If you are a New England Patriots fan, you might want to look away.

Tom Brady decided to channel his inner thrill-seeker while vacationing in Costa Rica with his family. The three-time Super Bowl MVP put on a show for his wife, Gisele, and children by jumping off what appeared to be at least a 40-foot cliff.

Never doing that again! #AirBrady

Posted by Tom Brady on Saturday, March 28, 2015

The slow motion obviously made the leap look more dramatic, but Brady still covered a lot of ground. I’m sure Robert Kraft and Bill Belichick would prefer that the 37-year-old stick to letting his kids bury him in the sand on the beach.

Tom-Brady-buried-sand

We still think our two favorite US women’s soccer players looked better jumping off cliffs, but Brady’s jump was a lot more intense. Those who have watched him play are not surprised he was up to the challenge.

WWE unveils Ultimate Warrior statue

Ultimate-Warrior-statue

The WWE paid tribute to the late Ultimate Warrior on Thursday night, as a statue of the late Hall of Famer was unveiled on the first night of WrestleMania Axxess at the San Jose Convention Center.

Fans filled the venue and showed their loyalty to Warrior while WWE COO Triple H revealed the life-size bronze statue in front of Warrior’s wife, Dana, and two daughters, Mattigan and Indiana.

“The legacy that he leaves behind is something I am so deeply proud of,” Dana said. “I am also so proud of what he did here with all of you. The Warrior fans really are the ultimate, and I want to thank you; thank you for taking the girls and I in, and loving us too because it has meant the world.”

At the end of the ceremony, Warrior’s family shook the ring ropes to pay tribute to the fallen legend while fans chanted “Thank you, Warrior!”

Ultimate Warrior, whose real name is James Hellwig, died of a heart attack almost a year ago. He was 54. Warrior was a fan favorite and was well-known for his rivalry with Hulk Hogan. The WWE has created some incredible tributes in his honor, and the statue is certainly in line with the rest.

Photo: Twitter/WWE

Angels remove Josh Hamilton, CJ Wilson banners from front of stadium

CJ Wilson AngelsC.J. Wilson and Josh Hamilton are no longer faces of the Angels’ franchise.

The Angels on Thursday shared a photo on Twitter that shows which players will be featured on the six banners adorning the front of Angel Stadium in Anaheim.

Three of the players are the same from last year: Mike Trout, Albert Pujols and Jered Weaver.
Three are new faces: Garrett Richards, Erick Aybar and Huston Street.

Gone is Howie Kendrick, who was traded to the Dodgers, Hamilton, who is facing a drug suspension, and Wilson, who disappointed last season and was supplanted by Richards as the team’s No. 2 starter.

“It’s the big leagues,” Wilson said via Angels.com. “You lose 10 or 11 games, you’re not going to be the face of a franchise. It’s fine.”

Though Wilson says “it’s fine,” how can he not be hurt by that? The guy signed a five-year, $77.5 million contract with the team and was touted as a franchise cornerstone. Now he’s had his face removed from the front of the stadium. That has to bother him. But as he acknowledged, he was not very good last season and was pulled from an ALDS game against the Royals in the first inning. That’s embarrassing.

You should also keep this in mind when it comes to trade talks. The players on the banners are probably the least likely to be moved, while guys who have been taken down might be closer to being axed. Then again, when you do cocaine and go to strip clubs and the public knows about it, you’re probably not going to be on many banners.

Charles Barkley, Reggie Miller condemn Indiana religious freedom bill

Charles Barkley

Basketball icons and TV commentators Charles Barkley and Reggie Miller issued statements on Friday condemning the new Indiana “religious freedom bill,” which was signed into law on Thursday.

Senate Bill 101, which takes effect in July, prohibits state or local governments from substantially burdening a person’s ability to exercise their religion — unless the government can show that it has a compelling interest and that the action is the least-restrictive means of achieving it.

Though the bill is being touted as one that increases religious freedom, many detractors are concerned that the act would result in discrimination against particular groups such as gays, lesbians and transgenders.

Barkley, who is no stranger to political and social commentary and has considered running for office in Alabama, issued a statement through his agent concerning the bill.

“Discrimination in any form is unacceptable to me,” said Barkley. “As long as anti-gay legislation exists in any state, I strongly believe big events such as the Final Four and Super Bowl should not be held in those states’ cities.”

Miller, who played his entire professional career in Indiana for the Pacers, also spoke out against the measure.

Indiana is the 20th state to adopt similar legislation, so this isn’t exactly new ground. In fact, the bill is modeled from legislation signed by President Bill Clinton in 1993.

Indiana governor Mike Pence had this to say about the bill:

“This bill is not about discrimination, and if I thought it legalized discrimination in any way in Indiana, I would have vetoed it,” Pence said in a statement. “In fact, it does not even apply to disputes between private parties unless government action is involved. For more than twenty years, the federal Religious Freedom Restoration Act has never undermined our nation’s anti-discrimination laws, and it will not in Indiana.”

What is new in this case is what many perceive to be a media-driven outrage that has spun the law to focus on the discrimination potential it holds. Keep in mind that in the other states where the law exists, discrimination against people based on their sexual orientation is not permitted.

Though Barkley and Miller’s viewpoints about equality and discrimination are ones we share and dearly hold, this seems like a case of many people getting outraged for the wrong reason. If people are actually denied service or privilege in Indiana because of religious views, then their statements (and those of other people) would be completely justified. Until that happens, then shouldn’t they also be boycotting Kentucky, Illinois, Connecticut, Idaho, Florida, Louisiana, Arizona and all the other states that have similar legislation? And what about Barkley’s beloved home state of Alabama? How come he hasn’t condemned their religious freedom law?

Mother says special needs son was asked to remove varsity letter

The mother of a Wichita student with Down Syndrome claims her son was recently asked by the school to remove his varsity letter.

Michael Kelley, a special needs student at Wichita East High School, wears a varsity letter on his jacket like some of his peers. Michael’s adoptive mother Jolinda says school officials told her son he is not supposed to have the letter because he is not a varsity athlete.

“Another parent, from what I am told, was upset that my son was wearing his letter jacket,” Jolinda told KSN’s Craig Andres.

Michael-Kelley

Jolinda said she was shocked to learn that Michael was asked at school to remove his jacket and wear a sweatshirt instead. East High principal Ken Thiessen explained that teachers told parents they would prefer if Michael not wear the varsity letter. Thiessen was also asked if the school has considered allowing special needs students to wear the letter.

“We have considered it, and our decision was no,” he said. “We decided that is not appropriate in our situation because it is not a varsity level competition.”

Michael’s mother said she understands schools are entitled to make their own rules and enforce them, but she wishes the policy would change.

“It’s not just my son,” Jolinda said. “It’s every student that was out there last night. It’s every student that’s there on Fridays that plays their hardest and to the best of their capability regardless what that is.”

What are we even talking about here? I understand varsity athletes work hard to earn their letters, but it seems deplorable that an exception can’t be made for students with disabilities. If a group of middle school students can stand up for a classmate in the middle of a game, East High should be able to come up with a policy to allow special needs students to earn a letter.

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Kevin Durant to have another surgery on foot, out 4-6 months

Kevin-Durant

The Oklahoma City Thunder announced on Friday that Kevin Durant will miss the remainder of the 2014-2015 season because of a recurring issue with his foot.

Durant, who has been out since Feb. 19 after experiencing soreness in his surgically-repaired foot, is scheduled to undergo another procedure on the same foot — this time a bone graft surgery — that will require a four- to six-month recovery period.

The Thunder say Durant had a “setback of the fracture site” after his initial surgery. The Jones fracture Durant suffered before the season had initially shown signs of healing properly, but he apparently started to experience “regression.”

This is obviously a major concern for both Durant and the Thunder. Foot injuries are always alarming, especially with bigger players. While Durant doesn’t have a very large frame, he is still 7-feet tall. The fact that his injury did not heal properly the first time can’t be good.

Report: Rick Barnes not expected to return to Texas

Rick Barnes

Texas basketball coach Rick Barnes has reportedly been given an ultimatum, and he may decide to not return to the Longhorns for an 18th season.

According to 247Sports, Barnes is not expected to remain at Texas after his team snuck into the NCAA Tournament and was bounced in the first round. One source reportedly told 247Sports that you can “bet the house and double down” that Barnes is out.

On Thursday, a report indicated that the university has told Barnes he needs to make changes to his staff or it will cost him his job. Shuffling his coaching staff likely would buy the veteran coach another season, but he may be unwilling to do that.

Barnes is under contract through 2019 at roughly $2.5 million per season, but Texas can buy him out for $1.5 million after April. While the Longhorns have not reached a Sweet Sixteen since 2008, Barnes has taken the team to the NCAA Tournament 16 out of 17 seasons and is 402-180 in his career at Texas.

Barnes, 60, should be able to find another head coaching job. Perhaps he does not feel it is worth blowing up his staff just to buy himself another year.

Manny Pacquiao bought P. Diddy’s old house for $12.5 million and fight tickets

Manny-Pacquiao-Floyd-Mayweather

Manny Pacquiao is currently preparing for the biggest fight of his career, but that isn’t the only thing the 36-year-old Filipino has going on in his life at the moment. Pacquiao also just purchased a home in Beverly Hills, and doing so before his fight against Floyd Mayweather Jr. may have helped him secure the impressive piece of real estate.

Pacquiao was involved in a bidding war with two other prospective buyers to purchase a home that was once owned by P. Diddy. Pacquiao’s final offer was $12.5 million, but he believes tossing in four tickets to the big fight on May 2 helped seal the deal.

“No doubt it helped,” Elsa Nelson, Pacquiao’s real estate agent, told USA TODAY Sports. “The sellers are great fans of boxing and of Manny, so it was a big deal.”

As for whether or not Pacquiao has created a distraction in his life by purchasing a home roughly one month before the big fight, the WBO welterweight champion said staying busy helps him remain focused.

“It is busy,” he said. “But I like busy. It is good for me to have energy.”

Had Pacquiao waited until after the fight, he would have lost an important negotiating chip. Just as this Las Vegas strip club upped the stakes for the bout, so did Pacquiao in the Beverly Hills real estate market.

H/T For the Win

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