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Sunday, April 5, 2020

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Diamondbacks minority owners sue over alleged forced buyouts

Arizona Diamondbacks logo

There are some significant issues in the Arizona Diamondbacks’ ownership group right now.

As reported by Zach Buchanan of The Athletic, three Diamondbacks minority owners are suing general partner Ken Kendrick. They claim that the Kendrick-led ownership group unlawfully told them to either increase their investment in the team or sell their units for $60 per unit, a price they feel is unfairly discounted.

The three minority partners have had a share of the team for over 15 years.

In a statement, the team said that it was making an effort to “streamline” the ownership group with the backing of Major League Baseball. In a letter to minority partners, Kendrick said that MLB had urged the team to take the step to minimize the amount of owners with very small stakes in the team.

Kendrick has been involved in minor controversy before, but this seems like something that could break out into a significant legal battle. For now, it seems unlikely to have any major impact on the team, but it’s worth watching.

Kevin Hart tells awesome story about Kobe Bryant only using left hand at basketball camp

Kobe Bryant

Many athletes and celebrities have had their own personal Kobe Bryant stories to share since the NBA legend tragically died in a helicopter crash back in January, and Kevin Hart’s is easily one of the best.

Hart recently took to social media to reveal that he attended a basketball camp with Bryant when the two were both in high school. The camp was in Philadelphia and run by former La Salle University basketball coach Speedy Morris. At the time, Hart had aspirations of playing at a top college program, while Bryant was already established as one of the best players in the country. But one thing really stuck out about Kobe at this particular camp — he used nothing but his left hand.

According to Hart, Morris tried to motivate the campers a few days in by pointing out that Bryant was using the time to work on shooting, dribbling and passing with only his left hand. The whole story is worth listening to, but the best part starts at around 2:57.

“Kobe Bryant approached the camp to only work on his left hand,” Hart recalled. “He never shot the ball with his right hand, he never dribbled the ball with his right hand. Kobe Bryant played us left-handed. The opportunity I thought was gonna be the biggest of my life was an (expletive) practice pad for Kobe Bryant. The moments I thought I was playing some of the hardest defense ever, Kobe Bryant was just counting in his head, ‘One dribble, two dribble, three dribble, four…’

“We didn’t even know he was practicing on us until the head coach made us all feel stupid for not working as hard as he worked. Needless to say, that’s when my NBA dreams were shattered.”

It’s somewhat cliche to say a star athlete “works harder than anyone you will ever see,” but that was certainly true in Bryant’s case. There’s plenty of evidence to support that, and Shaq helped spell it out for us with an awesome story he shared about Kobe’s rookie year a while back.

There aren’t many high schoolers who would dedicate an entire basketball camp to only using one hand. Kobe was that type of competitor, which is a big reason he won five NBA titles.

Report: Patriots have interest in little-known quarterback in NFL Draft

Bill Belichick

The New England Patriots are often regarded as being ahead of the curve in the NFL Draft, so one potential quarterback target could raise some eyebrows.

According to Mike Reiss of ESPN, the Patriots had a video meeting with Florida International quarterback James Morgan. Morgan is an intriguing name who did well in the Shrine Game and idolizes Brett Favre, but is not ranked particularly highly in most pre-draft assessments.

Between Tom Brady and Jimmy Garoppolo, the Patriots have done well with quarterbacks later in the draft. Morgan is certainly not their only option, but it’s interesting to see his name linked.

We do know that the Patriots are almost certain to draft a quarterback after surprisingly releasing Cody Kessler. That quarterback is unlikely to start, but given the team’s history at the position, their draft assessments are well worth watching.

Rick Pitino, son Richard make interesting bet on WrestleMania match

Rick Pitino

Rick Pitino is officially back to coaching college basketball, and he is already angling for a way to coach against his son. Apparently we may see that happen as soon as next season, and the big WrestleMania match on Sunday night could determine where the game is played.

The Pitino family is apparently filled with big wrestling fans, and Rick proposed a friendly bet to Richard on Saturday. The new Iona coach bet his son, who coaches Minnesota, that that the Gophers will have to play at Iona next season is Brock Lesnar beats Drew McIntyre. Richard Pitino responded that he doesn’t want to root against Minnesota, who is a Gophers alum, so the terms of the bet were reversed. If Lesnar wins, Iona will play at Minnesota next season — or so the two Pitinos say.

The younger Pitino joked on Sunday that he made the bet with his dad because there’s “nothing else to do.”

Rick Pitino also shared a photo of his grandkids on Saturday showing that they were ready for WrestleMania 36.

Rick was named the head coach of Iona last month, while Richard has been coaching at Minnesota since 2013. WrestleMania was pre-recorded due to the coronavirus pandemic and split into a two-night event, and the first night already featured some entertaining moments. The Pitino family will have even more to watch for on Sunday.

Report: Cam Newton willing to wait until after NFL Draft to sign

Cam Newton expects to be a starting quarterback, and if he has to wait for the right opportunity, he appears willing to do so.

According to ESPN’s Jeremy Fowler, Newton is willing to wait out the market to find a starting job. That could mean he doesn’t sign until after the NFL Draft, or perhaps even later than that.

“I spoke to a source close to Cam Newton and he’s willing to wait right now if he has to,” Fowler said Sunday, via Riley Gates of 247Sports. “He’s going to be patient. He wants to get his spot back as a high-level starter. He’s highly motivated to do so. There simply aren’t a lot of starting jobs available. So if he has to wait until after the draft, or maybe somebody gets injured, he is willing to do that. He knows the Patriots or maybe one of those teams could be looking. He doesn’t know what they’re going to do, obviously, just yet. They haven’t played their hand.”

Newton, who missed most of 2019 with a foot injury, has struggled to garner interest thus far. One team that seemed like a logical destination doesn’t seem interested, and not a lot of franchises are still hunting for a starter at this point. That could change depending on injuries and the NFL Draft, and that seems to be what Newton is banking on.

Top JUCO guard Keon Ellis commits to Alabama

College programs are still recruiting despite the sports world being placed on hold, and the Alabama men’s basketball team landed a top player on Sunday.

Three star guard Keon Ellis announced on social media that he has committed to the Crimson Tide.

Ellis played for Florida Southwestern State College, which is a junior college, for the past two seasons. He is ranked as the third-best overall JUCO prospect in the country by 247 Sports and the best combo guard.

Alabama has three players — Kira Lewis, John Petty and Herb Jones — who have entered the NBA Draft but could return to school. Head coach Nate Oats is entering his second season with the team following talk that he is unhappy with Tuscaloosa, but he appears to be committed to the program. Landing Ellis will give his latest recruiting class a big boost.

Joe Girardi was ‘nervous’ about how hard Bryce Harper played in spring training

Bryce Harper Phillies

Joe Girardi was only able to spend a relatively short amount of time with Bryce Harper prior to the MLB season being postponed, but the new Philadelphia Phillies manager was beyond impressed with what he saw. In fact, Harper’s level of effort even made Girardi a bit uneasy at times.

In an interview with 97.5 The Fanatic’s Mike Missanelli this week, Girardi gushed about how Harper is “such a good person.” The manager then spoke about Harper’s work ethic and said the outfielder went so hard during one spring training game that Girardi wanted to dial him back.

“I was so impressed by him in spring training and his work ethic and how hard he plays,” Girardi said, per Destiny Lugardo of Phillies Nation. “I actually got nervous one day because he got a hit. He stole second. He stole third and I looked at Dusty Wathan, [the Phillies] third base coach, and said ‘tell him he can’t steal home. That’s enough.’”

Harper had eight hits in 16 Grapefruit League at-bats, so he looked like he had a chance to get off to a hot start to the season before it was postponed due to the coronavirus pandemic. Now, it remains uncertain if there will even be baseball in 2020.

One of the reasons Harper has battled so many injuries throughout his career is because he has never been afraid to lay his body on the line. Any manager would want a player like that, and Girardi is now getting to see it first-hand.

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