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Thursday, June 29, 2017

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Kobe Bryant: This is most talented Lakers team I’ve been on

Kobe Bryant has played in the NBA for 16 seasons and been a part of five championship teams on the Lakers, but he says the current Lakers team is the most talented he’s been on.

Speaking at media day on Monday, Bryant praised this year’s squad.

“On its face, it’s the best talent I’ve been around,” said Bryant, via the Los Angeles Times. “Whether that translates into winning a championship, that remains to be seen. But just on paper, you’re obviously talking about defensive players of the years, MVPs, All-Stars. You’re talking about a myriad of things where guys are on top of their position and have been at the top of their position.”

That’s a lot coming from Kobe given the kind of teams he’s played on in the past. The ’99-’00 Lakers that went 67-15 in the regular season and won the NBA championship were arguably his best team. That squad featured Shaq in his prime, a 21-year-old Kobe, Glen Rice, Ron Harper, Rick Fox, Derek Fisher, and clutch Robert Horry. That group went on to win two more titles (except Harper and Fox who weren’t on the ’01-’02 team). And if you want to talk about all-around talent, the ’03-’04 team that lost to the Pistons in the Finals had future Hall of Famers Gary Payton and Karl Malone in addition to Shaq and Kobe. Malone was 40 at the time and never played again after injuring his knee that season. Payton was 35.

The current Lakers team features four likely Hall of Famers, just like that ’03-’04 team. They also have Ronald William Artest, who is a former All-Star and NBA Defensive Player of the Year, and two-time All-Star Antawn Jamison. But we must look at context rather than resumes. Jamison is 36 and of diminishing skills; Artest is turning 33; Steve Nash is 38; Kobe is 34; and the young one, Dwight Howard, is coming off back surgery.

The Lakers are obviously an excellent team on paper, but I don’t think everything will be a breeze the way many are expecting. And I’m not convinced this team is better than the ’99-’00 squad.

Photo via Lakers/Twitter

Derek Holland blames hacker for homophobic tweet

MLB is investigating a homophobic tweet sent from the Twitter account of Rangers pitcher Derek Holland, who says a hacker is to blame.

Holland pitched against the Angels on Sunday, and says he was in the dugout when the tweet was sent. He says only his fiancee, Lauren Hicks, has access to the account, and that she did not send the tweet.

“It’s obvious it was not me,” Holland said according to FOX Sports Southwest. “It was during the game, for one. And for two, I’m in the dugout cheering my teammates on. Why would I say that anyway to begin with?

“It’s definitely a hacker. Obviously my fiancée can get into it, but trust me, she’s not like that. She’s one of the nicest people in the world.”

The tweet was sent in response to a fan who was directed the following criticism of Holland over Twitter:

Holland’s account responded to the criticism by saying “ur a fag.” The tweet was deleted by the time Holland was informed of it after the game.

Lone Star Ball suspects that Holland’s fiancee sent the tweet in defense of her fiance and that he is covering for her. That could very well be the case, but we don’t imagine Holland ends up penalized by MLB given his alibi. Maybe this will be a nice reminder for him to change his password.

H/T Big League Stew

Jay Cutler blows off Mike Tice on sidelines

Jay Cutler walked away from Chicago Bears offensive coordinator Mike Tice on the sidelines during “Monday Night Football.”

Cutler behavior on the football field has been in question for years, and this is no exception. In this case, it seems like Tice wanted to go over something but Cutler just blew him off.

We don’t consider Tice a good offensive coordinator, but that’s unprofessional behavior from Cutler. He was questioned by a teammate for the way he approached one of his offensive linemen during the team’s Week 2 loss to the Packers. He also notably feuded with his former offensive coordinator, Mike Martz, and expressed little regret for cussing at the coach.

Cutler needs to shape up, but I highly doubt he will change. This is just the way he is.

GIF via CJ Zero

Matt Birk writes column in opposition of gay marriage

Gay marriage has become a hot topic among some NFL players, and Baltimore Ravens center Matt Birk is the latest to engage in the discussion.

The issue became publicized when a Maryland politician sent Ravens owner Steve Bisciotti a letter requesting that he prevent Ravens linebacker Brendon Ayanbadejo, who supports gay marriage, from expressing his divisive political views. Vikings punter Chris Kluwe responded by writing a profane column published by Deadspin in support of Ayanbadejo and gay marriage.

Now Birk, a St. Paul native, wrote a column for the Minneapolis Star Tribune in opposition of gay marriage.

Birk, who graduated from Harvard in 1998, believes that NFL players should have the right to voice their opinion, but he wants society to promote specific marriage values.

(more…)

Urban Meyer sends video of alleged Michigan State eye gouging to Big Ten

Two days after being accused of doctoring game film sent to their opponent, Ohio State coach Urban Meyer responded by sending the Big Ten a complaint video of his own.

The Detroit Free Press reported that Meyer said at his Monday press conference that he sent video to the conference of a Michigan State player allegedly gouging one of his players in the eye.

Buckeyes defensive tackle Johnathan Hankins is at the bottom of a pile and appears to have his eyes poked by either Travis Jackson or Jack Allen of Michigan State.

Here’s video of the incident in question:

Deadspin has a much higher quality video if you care to take another look.

Meyer is no stranger to eye gouging incidents. In 2009, one of his linebackers at Florida, Brandon Spikes, was caught on video poking Georgia’s Washaun Ealey.

“I don’t condone that,” Meyer said at the time. “I understand what goes on on the football [field], but there’s no place for that. We’re going to suspend Brandon for the first half of the Vanderbilt game. I spoke with him. That’s not who he is. That’s not who we are. He got caught up in emotion.”

Maybe Mark Dantonio should follow Meyer’s lead and suspend his player for a half. It’s also worth noting that this is the second time in a two years that a Michigan State player was caught eye gouging.

Helmet smack to College Football Talk

Junior hockey player jumps through glass on goal celebration (Video)

We’ve seen plenty of basketball players shatter the backboard on a ferocious dunk, but how often do you see a hockey player break the glass after scoring a goal? Not too often, but that’s what happened in an Atlantic Junior Hockey League game on Saturday night between the New Jersey Junior Titans and the New Jersey Rockets.

Taylor Cox scored one of the the Titans’ four goals on Saturday, and he decided to jump into the glass in celebration. Only one problem: the glass broke and he went right through it.

Stick tap to Puck Daddy via Hot Clicks

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Jets owner Woody Johnson: Mitt Romney winning election more important than winning season (Video)

Woody Johnson is a big Mitt Romney supporter. He is also the owner of an NFL franchise that hasn’t won a championship since Super Bowl 3 in 1969, so he is currently not the most popular person among Jets fans. He will likely be even less popular after admitting during a recent interview with Bloomberg TV that Romney winning the upcoming presidential election is more important than Rex Ryan and company enjoying a successful season.

“Well, I think you always have to put country first,” Johnson said when asked which is more important. “So I think it’s very, very important — not only for us but in particular our kids and grandkids — that this election come off with Mitt Romney and (vice presidential candidate Paul Ryan) as president and vice president.”

While there will be countless Jets fans who blast Johnson for not caring about the team because of this, that was an extremely difficult question to answer. First of all, he was having a political discussion. His audience at the time clearly wasn’t football fans. Secondly, if he answered by saying the Jets are more important people would be blasting him for being out of touch with reality and caring more about a game than our country.

Johnson has said some questionable things about his team in the past, but this shouldn’t be considered one of them. The answer he gave was appropriate for the forum.

H/T Pro Football Talk

Former teammate says LeSean McCoy used to say ‘McCoy’ while juking people

LeSean McCoy is one of the most entertaining running backs to watch in all of football. A lot of backs are criticized for dancing around too much, but McCoy seems to do just enough dancing. He can completely switch fields and turn what looks like a broken play into a 20-yard gain. If you think you’re going to tackle him in the open field one-on-one, think again.

Andrew Taglianetti, a former defensive back and teammate of McCoy’s at Pittsburgh, knows all about trying to tackle one of the most elusive backs in the NFL. He described what McCoy used to be like during practice on his Twitter account Sunday night.

“In case anyone was wondering LeSean McCoy used to break my ankles all the time during practice,” Taglianetti wrote. “The best part of Shady shaking people in practice was he would say ‘McCoy’ as he jukes you. Absolutely fascinating.”

Now that’s what I call building a brand. As Osi Umenyiora can tell you in great detail, McCoy is no stranger to trash talk. But saying your own name as you fake someone out of their cleats? That’s fantastic and original. It must be frustrating for the defender since they’re the one getting juked, but how can you justify getting angry at someone over that? You can’t, which makes it even more brilliant. Hopefully McCoy has taken the trademark to the NFL with him.

Helmet knock to Deadspin
Photo credit: David Butler II-US PRESSWIRE

Rory McIlroy wears giant clock around his neck after nearly missing Ryder Cup tee time (Picture)

Rory McIlroy gave European team captain Jose Maria Olazabal and the rest of his Ryder Cup teammates a heck of a scare at the start of the final day of the event when he nearly missed his tee time. As we told you on Sunday, McIlroy supposedly got his time zones mixed up when watching TV and thought his tee time was an hour later than it actually was. He arrived just 11 minutes before teeing off but still managed to defeat Keegan Bradley, doing his part to help complete one of the greatest comebacks in Ryder Cup history.

After the Europeans sealed their improbable win, somebody gave McIlroy a giant clock to rag on him and he proudly wore it around his neck. Had he lost his match and the Americans been able to close, his tardiness would not have been funny to most. Instead it became a theme of a celebration that also included men kissing other men on camera. No harm, no foul.

Photo via Stephanie Wei
H/T Devil Ball Golf

Robert Griffin III goes ‘Griffining’ with Olympic track star Kellie Wells (Picture)

Griffining has not caught on as much as we expected it to after it was introduced following Robert Griffin III’s stellar debut against the Saints this season. However, it appears RG3 himself is a fan of it, as evidenced by the photo above that D.C. Sports Bog shared with us.

The woman with Griffin is Olympic track star Kellie Wells, who won a bronze medal in the 100-meter hurdles at the London Olympics last month. RG3 had just led his Redskins to a win over the Bucs with a game-winning field goal drive in the fourth quarter on Sunday, so he apparently thought Griffining would be a good way to celebrate.

As of now, it looks like Griffining will never be anywhere close to as big of a phenomenon as Tebowing was, but the rookie isn’t going down without a fight.

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