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Wednesday, April 1, 2020

Stories by Darryn Albert:

Paul Lo Duca rips Alex Rodriguez as ‘one of the fakest people out there’

Alex Rodriguez

Paul Lo Duca competed against Alex Rodriguez for many years as a player, and he’s not any more fond of the former MVP now that they are both retired.

In an appearance Monday on WFAN Sports Radio’s “Moose and Maggie,” the retired catcher did not hold back when asked about Rodriguez.

“People know I’m not a fan, and I’m sorry,” said Lo Duca. “Never will be a fan. I just think he’s one of the fakest people out there … The way he gets put on a pedestal now is beyond me.”

The four-time All-Star also criticized Rodriguez for his time on the New York Yankees with Derek Jeter (“He always thought that he should have been the shortstop”). Lo Duca then spoke critically of how Rodriguez’s relationship with Jennifer Lopez has made people view him as a “saint.”

The 47-year-old Lo Duca was a contemporary of Rodriguez and played for the New York Mets around the time that Rodriguez was on the Yankees. Lo Duca has since become a horse racing and gambling analyst for Barstool Sports. A-Rod also does a podcast for Barstool called “The Corp.”

As for Rodriguez, his relationship with Lopez has definitely raised his profile lately, and he was even consulted by President Donald Trump on the coronavirus. But despite his increasing clout, Rodriguez still has some peers who do not care very much for him.

Pau Gasol likelier to play for Spain with Olympics now postponed to 2021

Much of Pau Gasol’s legend comes from his excellence on the international stage, and now he may have a better chance of getting one final go-around.

The governing bodies in charge of the Olympics in Tokyo announced Monday that the Games had officially been rescheduled for the summer of 2021.

In light of the news, Spain national basketball coach Sergio Scariolo said there was now a greater likelihood of Gasol suiting up for them in Olympic play.

“This actually gives him a better chance of making it,” said Scariolo, per John Askounis of Eurohoops. “This summer might have been a stretch, but with one more season ahead he can get back on the courts and be as close as possible to the Olympic Games.”

Gasol is an all-time great of the Spanish team, helping lead them to three Olympic medals, three EuroBasket titles, and a FIBA World Cup title over the years. He is about to turn 40 however and is still recovering from a stress fracture in his foot that has sidelined him for the entire NBA season.

The six-time NBA All-Star is optimistic though about continuing his career, and one last hurrah with Spain in the Olympics would be a fitting send-off.

Joe Buck has gotten ‘quite a few’ requests for inappropriate play-by-plays

Joe Buck

Joe Buck may be getting more than he bargained for with his offer to provide play-by-play commentary of what fans are doing during quarantine.

In an appearance this week on KMOX Radio’s “The Charlie Brennan Show,” the veteran sportscaster said that he has been getting some inappropriate video submissions as a result of his offer.

“Yeah, I’ve received quite a few,” said Buck. “And you have to be careful. You have to go through these videos like the Zapruder film because you’re worried there’s going to be something in the background, there’s going to be something hidden like a Highlights Magazine that we should not focus on, but it’s still there and it becomes some Internet thing where I put my voice to something that I shouldn’t have.

“Yeah, I’ve had a couple of submissions from let’s say, a man and a woman, that just didn’t seem appropriate to put my voice to in this stage of my life,” he went on. “Maybe later in life, but not now. I look at these videos very carefully and pick the ones that seem the most wholesome to put my voice to.”

The Sports Emmy-winning broadcaster made the offer earlier this month to do play-by-play for videos of fans doing normal daily tasks around the house. The purpose was twofold to keep his skills sharp and also to keep the people entertained during the quarantine period.

Some high-quality play-by-plays have already resulted, but it was inevitable that some people would go a little … too far with the requests.

Chris Godwin says Jameis Winston ‘got more of the blame than he deserved’

One of Jameis Winston’s favorite targets last season is coming to the defense of the exiled quarterback.

In an interview this week on “The Boardroom” with Rosalyn Gold-Onwude, Tampa Bay Bucs receiver Chris Godwin discussed Winston’s struggles in 2019.

“There have been times where maybe he held onto the ball too long and there will be like a strip-sack,” said Godwin. “Or there was a bad read on his part and he threw it to the wrong guy. But on the other side, there have been times where receivers have ran the wrong route. I’ve been guilty of either running the wrong route or just being in a different spot than he thought I was going to be, and then you get an interception, you get a turnover.”

“It’s not just him, it’s the collective,” the 2019 Pro Bowler continued. “And I think that people that are really entrenched in football understand that … I definitely think he got more of the blame than he deserved. I think he’s a really, really talented quarterback. Obviously there are some things he does that you can’t teach. There are some plays that he made that just weren’t smart plays. But a lot of the interceptions and the mistakes that he made, I would say at least half of them were because of a bad read on somebody else’s part. And the great thing about him is he’s not gonna go out there, he’s not gonna throw anybody under the bus. He’s gonna own up to it, he’s gonna take it, he’s gonna be a leader, and like I said, there’s respect to that.”

Winston, who led the NFL in both passing yards and interceptions last season, was a popular target of criticism for his errant play en route to a 7-9 finish for the Bucs. Through it all though, Godwin himself managed to have a career year catching passes from Winston, pulling down 86 of them for 1,331 yards and nine touchdowns.

With Tom Brady arriving in Tampa Bay, Winston is now the odd man out and will almost certainly have to find a new home as a free agent. But at least Godwin’s parting take on Winston was more sympathetic than Bruce Arians’.

Report: Knicks coaches think Kevin Knox plays ‘soft’

Kevin Knox has had a sophomore season to forget with the New York Knicks, and his conservative style of play is apparently doing him no favors.

Marc Berman of the New York Post reported on Sunday that Knicks interim coach Mike Miller and his predecessor David Fizdale each thought the former No. 9 overall pick had a tendency to play “soft.” Berman also adds that Miller did not start Knox even after the team traded Marcus Morris Sr because he did not believe that Knox gave him the best chance to win games.

Indeed Knox, who is 6-foot-8 but just 215 pounds, is often passive on offense, settling for jumpers and generally shying away from contact. His resulting averages this season (6.4 points and 2.8 rebounds per game) are roughly half the output that he produced in his rookie campaign.

The good news for Knox is that he is still only 20. Berman also notes that the Knicks coaching staff is happy with his improved defense and that team brass considers Knox to be arguably the hardest-working player. Regardless though, Miller appears to be here to stay in New York, so the former Kentucky star will have to do more to win him over.

White Sox P Carlos Rodon has funny reaction to his bad ‘MLB The Show’ avatar

Carlos Rodon

Carlos Rodon thinks his video game likeness is a just little bit unflattering.

The Chicago White Sox lefty was streaming himself playing the popular game “MLB The Show” this weekend when a Twitter user took note that he notched a complete-game victory using himself. Rodon hilariously responded by expressing his disapproval of the undershirt worn by his player avatar.

Undershirt or not, Rodon had a much more memorable performance in the game than his 2019 as a whole was. The 27-year-old went 3-2 with a 5.19 ERA in just seven starts before having to undergo Tommy John surgery in May.

While he is on the mend though, Rodon can at least take comfort in the fact that other MLBers have faced greater disrespect at the hands of the game.

Report: Clippers could pursue Kris Dunn in free agency

The LA Clippers have already made several in-season moves to improve their roster, and now they could be looking ahead to offseason upgrades as well.

Clippers beat writer Jovan Buha of The Athletic noted in an article this week that there have been “multiple rumors” linking the team to Chicago Bulls point guard Kris Dunn and that there “appears to be some smoke there.”

Dunn, the former No. 5 overall pick, has seen his role decrease in Chicago this season, ceding minutes to Tomas Satoransky and rookie Coby White. While he has still made 32 total starts, Dunn’s averages are down to 7.3 points and 3.6 assists per game and there have been other signs that he could be on the outs.

The 26-year-old is due for restricted free agency this offseason, but it’s unclear if the Bulls will even tender him a qualifying offer. Though a shaky shooter and inefficient scorer, Dunn brings defense and energy the Clippers could use next year, especially with newcomer Reggie Jackson also hitting free agency.

Steve Kerr says Warriors dynasty was at its best in 2017

Steve Kerr

The Golden State Warriors’ run of dominance in the 2010s produced three NBA championships, but one particular team stands out to Steve Kerr.

In an interview this week reliving the 2017 NBA Finals with Wes Goldberg of The Mercury News, the Warriors head coach said that the team was at their best that year, which was their first with superstar forward Kevin Durant.

“The combination of talent, two-way abilities with having so many players capable of playing both ends of the floor and the motivation that came with losing in the Finals the year before and the motivation for Kevin to win his first championship — it was all in the mix,” said Kerr. “It was brand new for him and so, as a group, we were so fresh and excited to be there. There were no distractions. It was just us playing basketball.”

When then asked if that 2017 team was the best Warriors squad that he had coached, Kerr replied, “Yeah. No question.”

Coming off a 2015-16 season where their NBA record 73 regular season wins was overshadowed by the 3-1 lead that they blew in the 2016 Finals, the Dubs with newcomer Durant won another 67 games during the season. They then blazed through the Western Conference playoffs without losing a single game and beat a Cavs team with a record-setting offense that year in just five games.

Durant was already talking about how truly special the team was even before winning the title, and it’s clear that 2017 squad will go down as an all-timer.