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Saturday, January 19, 2019

Stories by Larry Brown:

Frances Tiafoe says celebration was nod to LeBron James

Frances Tiafoe biceps LeBron

Emerging American tennis player Frances Tiafoe pulled off the biggest win of his pro career and celebrated accordingly.

Tiafoe, 20, defeated 5-seed Kevin Anderson in the second round of the Australian Open, 4-6, 6-4, 6-4, 7-5. After his win, Tiafoe celebrated by flexing his biceps like LeBron James.

In an on-set interview with ESPN after his win, Tiafoe said he’s a huge LeBron fan and was waiting for a moment where he could do the celebration.

“I’m a massive LeBron fan and I always see him do it. I was like if I ever have a moment where I can do it, I’m going to do it too. So I had to bring it out,” Tiafoe said.

Here’s LeBron doing it for comparison:

Tiafoe is one of the best young Americans on tour. He’s already ranked No. 38, has won a title on tour, and he’s now into the third round of a major for the third time in his career.

Tate Martell announces transfer to Miami

Tate Martell

Tate Martell has made a commitment to his fourth college, all without having even started a game.

Martell announced on Twitter Tuesday that he is transferring to Miami.

Martell is a former 5-star recruit who committed to Washington, then Texas A&M, and then finally ended up at Ohio State. He redshirted his first year, then served as Dwayne Haskins’ backup this season, coming in for packages here and there as a running quarterback. Just when it looked like his patience at Ohio State would pay off, Justin Fields transferred in, leading Martell to leave.

Unless he graduates this year (which is a possibility), Martell would have to sit out a year before being able to play at Miami. He would then have two years of eligibility remaining.

Securing Martell is a major move from new head coach Manny Diaz, who also convinced wide receiver Jeff Thomas to return to the program rather than head to Illinois. The addition of Martell might also not preclude them from getting Jalen Hurts as a transfer; Hurts only has one year of eligibility left and would be able to play immediately in 2019 as a graduate transfer. Much of the situation depends on whether Martell graduates in May.

Joe Maddon says Cubs are not going to sign Bryce Harper

Bryce Harper

You can count the Chicago Cubs out of the Bryce Harper sweepstakes.

Prior to this offseason, there was a lot of talk about the Cubs being contenders to sign Harper. After all, there had been rumors about wanting to play with the franchise. Fast forward to this offseason, and the Cubs just gave out a big contract to Yu Darvish, which was a bust in the first year, and they don’t seem to be eager to make another major financial commitment.

That’s why manager Joe Maddon said at a charity event on Tuesday that the team is not going to sign Harper. The information was shared by ESPN’s Jesse Rogers.

Chicago probably feels like their offense will be more than set if their players get healthy and turn things around in 2019. Not only that, but they need to save money to pay some of their guys, namely Kris Bryant when he hits free agency. For now, it seems another NL team is a leading contender for Harper.

Bill Belichick has funny answer to question about Tyreek Hill

Bill Belichick

Bill Belichick knows how to coach defense on Sundays and how to play defense against the media during the week.

Belichick spoke with reporters on Tuesday ahead of the New England Patriots’ game against the Kansas City Chiefs in the AFC Championship on Sunday. He was asked a question about how they coach against a player as fast as Tyreek Hill. He answered with a funny reply.

It was obvious what reporter Mike Giardi meant, but Belichick had to account for all possibilities. He never takes anything for granted.

Giardi said he got what he deserved for his question.

You can never assume anything with Belichick. At least the coach didn’t give Giardi the Adam Thielen treatment.

Joel Embiid trolls Timberwolves with savage tweet after win

Joel Embiid

Joel Embiid may have taken a break from his social media trolling, but he returned in style on Tuesday night.

Embiid’s Philadelphia 76ers beat the heck out of the Minnesota Timberwolves 149-107, shooting nearly 60 percent from the field while holding the T-Wolves to 39 percent during the beatdown.

After the game, Embiid trolled Minnesota with a tweet.

The tweet contains a reference to the infamous Jimmy Butler practice prior to the season.

Before being traded by Minnesota to Philly, Butler was a disgruntled member of the Timberwolves who was holding out during training camp and seeking a trade. He finally reported to camp and had a major outburst at a practice in which he took a bunch of third-stringers and beat the starters.

Beyond that, Embiid has a history with Karl-Anthony Towns and no doubt enjoyed dismantling Minnesota.

Kelly Oubre chokes after being taunted by Pacers fans

Kelly Oubre

Kelly Oubre was taunted by Indiana Pacers fans on Tuesday while he was at the free throw line and seemed to be affected.

Oubre went to the line in the second quarter of his Phoenix Suns’ game against Indiana and was met with chants of “John Wall hates you.” He then missed both free throws.

Oubre was traded by Wall’s Washington Wizards last month along with Austin Rivers for Trevor Ariza. There is no known beef between Wall and Oubre, but perhaps there is thought from the fans that Wall carries so much weight as a franchise player that he can get someone traded. The irony is Wall was actually on the trade block prior to his season-ending injury.

Oubre finished with 16 points in the 131-97 loss and was a brutal 1/6 at the line.

Watch: Draymond Green gets technical foul for arguing with referee

Draymond Green

The Golden State Warriors ran up a huge lead early against the Denver Nuggets on Tuesday night, but that mattered little to Draymond Green.

Green was upset about being called for a foul on a Nikola Jokic and-1 play early in the second quarter and let the referee know about it. He promptly got called for a technical foul. He kept on arguing and seemed to be close to getting ejected before he was restrained by a teammate.

Even though the Warriors were pouring in points early, Green was the only starter who hadn’t scored as of that point. But he was leading the team in rebounds and assists, while being tasked with having to defend a monster in Jokic. He didn’t have an easy assignment.

Draymond has actually cut down on his technical fouls this season and entered the game with five. He had so many in the postseason that he nearly received a suspension.

Panthers owner open to Cam Newton missing season if surgery is needed

Cam Newton

Carolina Panthers owner David Tepper is thinking long term with his franchise, and he is open to the idea of Cam Newton missing all of next season if they determine shoulder surgery is needed.

Newton was limited by his shoulder for the second half of the season, which led the Panthers to go from 6-2 to losing seven in a row before finishing 7-9 on the season. They finally shut him down with two weeks left in the season.

Tepper spoke with the media on Tuesday and was asked to compare Newton’s situation with Andrew Luck’s. Luck missed all of the 2017 season while recovering from shoulder surgery and returned to have a successful 2018 season. Tepper thinks the tradeoff is worth it.

“If you told me he took a year off and could recover and be fully recovered and everything else, and that’s what it took, an extra year, why wouldn’t you do [that]?”

“Now we would have to do other things, right? We’d have to go out and get another quarterback. If you could find me some more cap space I’d appreciate that,” Tepper said.

Newton is only 29 and has been a league MVP. He’s a franchise quarterback and one you want to invest in. If it takes a season off to recover from shoulder surgery so Newton can get back to his MVP form, like Tepper says, that would be worthwhile.