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Monday, March 2, 2015

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Shane Battier: Carmelo Anthony not that difficult to guard

Carmelo-Anthony-Shane-Battier

Shane Battier was one of the better defenders in the NBA during his 13 seasons as a pro, and much of his success was a result of research and preparation. But when it came to guarding Carmelo Anthony, Battier says there wasn’t all that much to prepare for.

Battier, who spent his last three seasons with the Miami Heat, had plenty of success slowing down ‘Melo. The reason? Anthony was predictable.

“I had some success against him,” Battier recently told Brett Pollakoff of Pro Basketball Talk. “The numbers really play out with him, and as he’s gotten older, he has not been about reinvention. The last two years I played him, he did exactly what the scouting report said he was going to do, every single time.

“A lot of players will deviate — Kobe was so tough in his prime, or Durant or LeBron. But Carmelo, I knew what he was doing. He was on the left block, he’s going to dip his right shoulder and go to his left hand every single time — he travels every time, by the way; he travels every single time. But if I made him use his right hand and go over his left shoulder, he didn’t want to do that. And as a result, I was able to drain his efficiency.”

As Pollakoff notes, Anthony once dropped 50 points against Battier’s Heat in 2013. Carmelo is a great scorer, so there are plenty of times when a defender knows what’s coming and still can’t stop it. Still, Battier felt that Anthony’s 50-point performance was an anomaly.

“The only time he got me was, he had the most unbelievable game,” he said. “This was like, the outlier of all outliers in terms of the numbers and analytics. He scored 50 points, and didn’t have one paint point. So, yeah. I was really feeling good about ‘any long non-paint two is a good shot’ after that game, right? He scored 50 points on me, zero paint points.”

For what it’s worth, there are future Hall of Famers who regard Anthony as the most difficult player in the NBA to defend. Perhaps those perennial All-Stars need to seek some advice from Battier.

Markieff Morris calls out Suns fans after loss

Markieff Morris

The Phoenix Suns got blasted by the San Antonio Spurs at home Saturday 101-74, and Markieff Morris was disappointed with the crowd in addition to his team.

Morris said it felt like there were more Spurs fans at US Airways Center than Suns fans.

“I don’t think we have a home-court advantage,” Markieff said via the Arizona Republic. “It does not feel like a home-court advantage at all. Some games are going to be bad. You can’t win every game. That comes along with sports. Nobody wins games. We need the support. We need, as a team, to know that our fans are going to be behind us and I don’t feel like this year they’re behind us enough.

“I feel like we do have those genuine Suns fans but, for the most part, I feel like we had more San Antonio than Phoenix fans tonight.”

Morris said fans don’t boo the team, which is nice, but they also don’t get energetic enough, which doesn’t help matters. He said he was speaking for many of his teammates who feel the same way.

Markieff’s twin brother Marcus agreed and also commented on the lack of fan support. While he did not blame the fans for the loss, he said they did not help charge up the players.

The Suns are 31-29 overall and just 17-13 at home, which is not as strong of a home record as most teams in playoff contention, indicating they don’t have a big home-court advantage.

And after seeing the way the Spurs dominated the Suns, someone who needs to apologize is owner Robert Sarver, because that was his payback for these silly comments.

Jimmy Rollins welcomed a trade to Mets

Jimmy Rollins

Jimmy Rollins could not be happier about being traded to the Dodgers over the offseason.

Rollins, who spent all 15 years of his MLB career with the Phillies, was dealt to the Dodgers in December. The former MVP shortstop told ESPN’s Jerry Crasnick that the Mets were second on his list of preferred trade destinations behind the Dodgers.

“This was my No. 1 landing spot,” Rollins via Crasnick. “And I considered the Mets to be No. 2. They have some arms over there — oh my gosh.

“I’m not saying I would have gone there. It would have taken a lot. But when I was asked, ‘Write down the places you would go if you don’t have any (no-trade protection),’ I had one team on my list and another where I would go if it didn’t work out. Fortunately it worked out here (in Los Angeles). I’m very delighted with that.”

The Mets reportedly inquired about Rollins and were told he was not available. Considering Rollins’ comments on the matter, we’re guessing the Phillies simply did not want to deal their franchise icon to a division rival.

At the least, Rollins’ comments should endear him to Mets fans. Following the team’s 79-83 season, Mets fans had every right to lose faith, but Rollins says there are plenty of reasons to be optimistic. And Rollins sure came a long way from his anti-trade stance entering the 2014 season.

Ronda Rousey interested in Holly Holm, Bethe Correia fights

Ronda Rousey

Ronda Rousey made quick work of Cat Zingano at UFC 184 in Los Angeles on Saturday night and has already turned her attention to two potential new opponents.

Following her 14-second submission win over Zingano, Rousey (11-0), mentioned Holly Holm and Bethe Correia as potential opponents.

“I was really impressed with Holly Holm’s performance tonight,” Rousey said in an interview with ESPN after the fight. “She’s a world champion boxer and I’ve never tested myself against a striker of that level. I’d be very interested to see how I measure up against a world champion boxer. And her takedown defense is amazing, so she would present some very unique problems for me.”

Holm is an accomplished fighter. She is a world champion boxer as Rousey mentioned; she is 2-1 as a kickboxer; and she is now 8-0 in MMA after beating Raquel Pennington via split decision Saturday.

The other opponent is Correia, who is 9-0 overall, including 3-0 in the UFC.

“Bethe Correia made the trip all the way from Brazil to watch me tonight,” said Rousey. “She already beat two friends of mine before. She was rubbing it in my face a lot, and she’s undefeated at this point, so I think that her record and our background would make a great matchup as well.

“So either of them I would be very interested in.”

Ronda Rousey beats Cat Zingano in UFC record 14 seconds (Video)

For the second straight fight, Ronda Rousey won her UFC bout in a matter of seconds. This time it was a world record for Rousey.

Rousey needed just 14 seconds to defeat Cat Zingano Saturday night at Staples Center in Los Angeles as she won by her patented armbar. Zingano came out attacking with a flying knee, which turned out to be a huge mistake. Rousey avoided the strike, they flipped twice, and Rousey ended up on top of Zingano. Rousey needed just a few seconds to crank the arm so quickly that Zingano tapped out.

Rousey, who is now 11-0 in her professional career, has won 10 of her 11 fights in the first round, including eight in the first minute. Her 14-second submission finish ties for the second-fastest submission finish in UFC history, and is the fastest finish in UFC title fight history.

Much like Miesha Tate in her first fight with Rousey, Zingano made the mistake of being overly aggressive. She is talented enough to hang with Rousey otherwise, but she made a desperate move early on and paid the price.

Zingano forgot the cardinal rule when facing Rousey: Always protect your arm.

Ronda Rousey Cat Zingano

Ray Rice understood why people commit suicide

Ray Rice

Ray Rice felt so low during the fall as he became one of the most notorious figures in the country that he says he understood why people commit suicide.

Rice opened up in an interview with The Baltimore Sun in which he talked about a range of topics. Reading it, you begin to have some empathy for a man many felt deserved no forgiveness for hitting his wife inside an elevator.

“The big picture of it all, being the person that I am, I really felt horrible,” Rice said of how he felt. “You almost want to punish yourself. I know I’m never going to win the battle of public opinion. Honestly, I almost felt like at one point that it wasn’t worth living. I see why people commit suicide.

“It hurt that bad. I was low, real low. It hurt that bad because you worked your whole life to do all the right things and then you’re the world’s most hated person. It was really tough. My daughter, oh Lord, I grew up without a father, there’s no way I could check out on my own family.”

Rice never went that far, but things became so bad in Baltimore that he says he plans to move back to his hometown of New Rochelle, New York. He hopes he can one day get to the point where he isn’t solely associated with the video and the domestic violence committed against his wife. He also is hoping for another shot in the NFL after not playing last season.

“I don’t want my career to be defined by this one moment,” Rice told The Sun. “I’ve been smart with money and the NFL is a great-paying game, but I really want to get back out there for my pride and to be able to leave the game with dignity. I don’t ever want to feel exiled out because I wasn’t that guy. … I know I’m not ready to call it quits yet.”

Someone who went through something similar was Michael Vick, who eventually made his way back into the NFL. After a year off, so has Richie Incognito. And now Adrian Peterson is wanted by several clubs. Maybe after another year away from the game, one team will be willing to give Rice a second shot. The problem is that Rice is 28 and had a poor season in 2013. Maybe some team will be desperate enough to give him a shot in another year, but he will be that much closer to 30 by then, which is the age of death for running backs.

Dustin Penner apologizes after sending rape joke on Twitter

Dustin Penner on Saturday learned the hard way that rape jokes are no laughing matter.

Penner, a winger who spent nine seasons in the NHL but is currently a free agent, tweeted some questions about acquaintance rape in an apparent attempt to be funny.

Here is what the two-time Stanley Cup champion wrote:

Dustin Penner Twitter

Penner apparently missed the first lesson of Twitter: Don’t hit send.

What might be worse is that Penner actually had this on his mind. Recall that War Machine tweeted about raping girlfriend Christy Mack back in 2013. We all know how that one turned out. It’s never a good thing when you end up in the same sentence as that guy.

Russell Westbrook out a game to have surgery on dented cheek

Russell Westbrook dent

Just when you thought nothing could keep Russell Westbrook out of the lineup, we’re learning that the man is human (somewhat).

Westbrook underwent surgery Saturday to fix the zygomatic arch bone of his right cheek, which got dented after he took an accidental knee to the face from teammate Andre Roberson Friday night. Westbrook will miss Sunday’s Thunder-Lakers game and he will be reevaluated next week.

Westbrook missing a game means the Thunder will be without their top two stars Sunday, as Kevin Durant is still recovering from a foot procedure.

As to the extent of Westbrook’s injury, Yahoo’s Adrian Wojnarowski says a source told him the point guard would play if it were the playoffs, so that should make Thunder fans feel a lot better.

Ronda Rousey boyfriend situation is a joke for her mom

Ronda Rousey

If you think your parents are tough on your significant other, just wait til you read how Ronda Rousey’s mom treats her daughter’s boyfriends.

Rousey’s sister, Maria Burns Ortiz, wrote a post on ESPNW titled “5 Things You Didn’t Know About My Sister, Ronda Rousey.” The article is just what the title says and great for anyone who wants some cool nuggets about the WWE women’s bantamweight champion. The best of all is what Rousey’s mom, AnnMaria De Mars, does to Ronda’s boyfriends.

According to Maria, Rousey’s mother does not believe in calling her daughters’ boyfriends by their real name.

Our mom, AnnMaria De Mars, who also happens to be the 1984 world judo champion, has a policy of calling all of our boyfriends and even potential boyfriends by the name “Bob.” Her reasoning: “What’s the point in learning his name if he’s not going to be sticking around?”

She also assigns completely arbitrary numbers to each Bob to differentiate one from another. For example, Ronda’s last boyfriend was “Bob 6.” And yes, she calls them that to their faces.

At what point does Rousey’s mom actually call them by their name? When they marry into the family, because that’s the only way they earn the right.

As embarrassing as that sounds, I’m sure there are thousands of guys who would do anything to be one of the Bobs in Ronda’s life. Last time we checked in with Rousey she did not have a boyfriend, but we do know that she loves having sex to prepare for fights.

AEG fights dirty, calls Inglewood stadium a terrorism target

Inglewood NFL stadium

AEG is not happy about the efforts of competing Los Angeles-based cities to lure an NFL team and has decided to play dirty.

According to The Los Angeles Times’ Sam Farmer, AEG, which owns the LA Galaxy, LA Live, Staples Center, 50 percent of the LA Kings, and part of the Lakers, commissioned a study by a former Homeland Security officer that concluded the proposed stadium in Inglewood is a terrorism target.

From The Times:

In a 14-page report, Ridge suggests that because the Inglewood stadium proposed by St. Louis Rams owner Stan Kroenke would lie within three to four miles of Los Angeles International Airport and beneath the flight path of airliners, terrorists might try to shoot down a plane or crash one into the stadium, scenarios Ridge described as “a terrorist event ‘twofer.’ “

Ridge is Former Secretary of Homeland Security Tom Ridge, who wrote the report. He said that the proposed stadium should give people “pause.”

Ridge said people “must be willing to accept the significant risk and the possible consequences …. This should give both public and private leaders in the area some pause.”

Those who proposed the Inglewood stadium on the Hollywood Park property say the stadium will comply with FAA regulations.

The Inglewood/Hollywood Park proposal seems to be the leader in the pursuit of an NFL team after city leaders voted unanimously during the week to begin construction on a stadium. The stadium would be constructed on land partially owned by Rams owner Stan Kroenke. AEG, which is headquartered in Downtown LA and owns Staples Center as previously mentioned, has long backed a proposed stadium in Downtown LA, which explains their opposition to the Inglewood proposal.

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