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#pounditSaturday, December 5, 2020

Stories by Gordon Dixon:

Felix Hernandez wants reporters to know he’s not as old as they think

Felix Hernandez

Felix Hernandez has been around seemingly forever, but he took an opportunity to remind reporters he’s not as old as they may think.

Earlier this year, Hernandez agreed to a minor-league deal with the Atlanta Braves after spending the first 15 years of his major league career with the Seattle Mariners. Ahead of his first season with the Braves, Hernandez was asked whether he is preparing differently for season No. 16 compared to others. According to The Athletic’s Dave O’Brien, the former Cy Young Award winner was quick to point out he’s not “that old.”

It does feel like Hernandez should be older than he is considering he’s creeping up on a 20-year career. However, Hernandez was just 19 years old when he made his major league debut. The question regarding preparation is a valid one though because Hernandez has a lot of mileage on his right arm. He’s topped the 200-inning mark eight times and has two other seasons with over 190 innings pitched.

Hernandez has struggled in recent seasons to duplicate his early success. While he’s not old in terms of age, he will have to fight the perception that his best days are behind him, which is what his 6.40 ERA from last year suggests.

Video: Zion Williamson leaves Josh Hart hanging on high-five

Zion Williamson Josh Hart high five

New team, same old high-five struggles.

Zion Williamson left teammate Josh Hart waiting for a high-five in what was a seemingly awkward sequence during the New Orleans Pelicans’ game against the Oklahoma City Thunder on Thursday.

During the first quarter the game, Pelicans players were walking towards the bench for a stoppage in play. Hart had his hand up looking for a high-five from Williamson but got snubbed.

Some might question why Williamson was snubbing his teammate, but this is part of a running joke.

Hart’s high-five issues went back to the guard’s days with the Lakers:

Williamson also snubbed Hart in October:

The saga continues.

Zion Williamson will not be rushed back by Pelicans

Zion Williamson

The New Orleans Pelicans are playing things cautiously with Zion Williamson and will not be rushing back the No. 1 draft pick from his knee injury.

Shortly after suffering a torn right meniscus, Williamson was given a window of six-to-eight weeks to return from the injury. That was on October 21. Eight weeks later, Williamson is not yet ready to make his NBA debut and, according to Pelicans head coach Alvin Gentry, the team is taking it slow with its prized asset.

Williamson’s debut, when it does take place, will be among the more anticipated in recent NBA memory. The Pelicans are slated to play on Christmas Day, which has long been a showcase for the NBA. Williamson was the driving force in the decision to put New Orleans on the schedule for that day.

Unfortunately, the basketball world will have to wait a bit longer to see Zion Williamson as a professional.

CJ Miles goes off on fans treatment of athletes during games

Washington Wizards logo

NBA veteran C.J. Miles went off on social media about fans’ treatment of professional athletes following a Washington Wizards game.

On Saturday, Miles’ teammate Isaiah Thomas was ejected from the team’s loss to the Sixers in Philadelphia after an altercation with a fan. Following the game, Thomas spoke with the media and shared what led to the altercation.

Later in the evening, Miles sent a series of tweets on the subject. He shared why fans should not be crossing a line when talking to players.

Thomas responded to Miles, saying that disrespect will no longer be tolerated.

There is a chance Thomas will be suspended for his actions on Saturday. If that’s the case, Thomas will probably feel his actions were still justified.

Isaiah Thomas explains confrontation with fan that led to ejection

Isaiah Thomas Wizards

Isaiah Thomas has shed some light on the altercation between himself and a fan during a game against the Philadelphia 76ers.

On Saturday, Thomas was ejected for a confrontation with a fan that also led to two fans being escorted from Wells Fargo Center by security.

Following the game, Thomas explained the situation. The Wizards guard said the fan lifted two middle fingers towards him and yelled “f— you b–ch” three times. Thomas confronted the fan, telling him not to talk to him that way. He says the fan apologized and said he was upset about missing out on a free Wendy’s Frosty, which comes as a promotion for fans if an opponent misses two free throws in the second half. The video includes profanity.

Thomas clearly felt the fan crossed the line, which led to him reacting the way he did. Some people feel that purchasing a ticket to a sporting event gives them the right to say whatever they want to the participating athletes, even if it crosses a line.

When a line is crossed, there is a chance the player will let the person know. That’s what happened on Saturday, and also what happened with Russell Westbrook last season.

Watch: James Harden responds to Spurs fan yelling at him over free throws

James Harden

James Harden had a great response to a fan who criticized his style of play during a game against the San Antonio Spurs on Tuesday night.

Harden is often judged for his style of play. Many believe his style isn’t always the most aesthetically pleasing, and some fellow players feel he benefits from officiating. A big part of Harden’s game is getting to the free throw line, where he generally converts at a high percentage. On Tuesday, a fan in San Antonio yelled to Harden that “no one wants to see a free-throw shooting contest” when Harden was at the line.

Harden’s response was fantastic.

How’s that for a response? During his recent 60-point game against the Atlanta Hawks, Harden went to the free-throw line 23 times, making 20 of them. Entering Tuesday’s game, Harden led the NBA in free-throw attempts with 274 in 19 games.

Free throws may not be the most exciting part of a basketball game, but if Harden is playing, there’s a good chance several will be taken.

Tate Martell says he is not transferring from Miami

Tate Martell

Miami Hurricanes quarterback Tate Martell affirmed his commitment to the university amid transfer rumors via a post on Instagram Friday.

Martell is currently on a leave of absence from the football team for personal reasons. During his time away, speculation has grown that Martell may transfer. In an Instagram post, Martell said that will not be the case.

“For those asking: I’m not transferring from the University of Miami,” Martell wrote.

“My leave of absence is due [to personal] reasons. At this time, I don’t think it’s appropriate for me to discuss these reasons. There might be a time, down the road, when I believe it is appropriate to talk about this publicly. For the time being, I need some time to focus on these issues.

“I wish my boys nothing but the best tomorrow against Duke.”

Martell’s leave of absence is his second since transferring to Miami from Ohio State earlier this year. After a brief stint at wide receiver, Martell has resumed working towards being a quarterback for the Hurricanes, though he’s third on the team’s depth chart behind Jarren Williams and N’Kosi Perry.

Martell was a top high school quarterback at Bishop Gorman in Las Vegas and coveted recruit. He began his career at Ohio State but left for Miami after Justin Fields transferred in. His college career has not gone the way he had hoped.

Ex-Alabama QB AJ McCarron sends nice tweet about Mac Jones despite Iron Bowl loss

AJ McCarron

Former Alabama quarterback AJ McCarron gave current Crimson Tide quarterback Mac Jones some words of encouragement despite a loss to their bitter rivals.

Alabama was on the wrong end of a 48-45 score in this year’s edition of the Iron Bowl. The Tide entered the game ranked No. 5 in the latest College Football Playoff rankings and needing a win to keep their hopes alive for a shot at another national championship. Despite the defeat, McCarron took to social media to tell Jones to “hold his head high.”

McCarron lost to Auburn as a senior in the famous “Kick Six” game, so he has a good idea how Jones might be feeling.

While McCarron was in the mood to offer encouragement, Alabama head coach Nick Saban’s tone after the game was a different one. He accused Auburn’s Gus Malzahn of using an unfair trick to help his team win.