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Thursday, July 18, 2019

Stories by Steve DelVecchio:

Tedy Bruschi still moving to bigger role at ESPN despite latest stroke

Tedy Bruschi suffered his second stroke earlier this month, but all of the updates we have heard about his health over the last two weeks have been positive. On Tuesday, ESPN provided another.

Bruschi, who has made regular appearances on “NFL Live” and other programs for the past several years, is moving to a bigger role with ESPN. The network has announced its plans for 2019 NFL pregame shows, and Bruschi is joining “Sunday NFL Countdown.” He will replace Charles Woodson.

That is obviously a great sign, as it indicates it will be business as usual for Bruschi when the 2019 season gets underway — and likely sooner. The former New England Patriots linebacker has been a huge advocate for stroke awareness since he suffered his first back in 2005, and he said he was able to get the help he needed this time by immediately identifying the signs. We’re glad to hear he is recovering well.

Kendrick Perkins warns Zion Williamson to avoid New Orleans food

Zion Williamson

One of the concerns surrounding Zion Williamson now that his NBA career has begun is his weight, and Kendrick Perkins thinks the former Duke star will have to work extra hard to avoid culinary temptations in New Orleans.

Perkins, who spent a season with the Pelicans, said there are going to be people in New Orleans offering Williamson good eats everywhere he goes. The retired big man said the Pelicans better lock Zion away if they want to keep him in shape.

Williamson is listed at 285 pounds, which is heavy for a player who is about 6-foot-6. Most of that has to do with his incredible strength, but he suffered a knee injury in his first Summer League game and also got hurt during the NCAA Tournament back in March, though that injury was more of a fluke. The Summer League injury was the result of knee-to-knee contact, so it’s hard to argue that either had to do with Williamson’s size.

Like any other star player, Williamson will have to keep an eye on his weight and conditioning. While his strength is an asset, he can’t let one too many bowls of gumbo turn his impressive stature into a liability.

Big Baller Brand selling T-shirts, hats for $5 on clearance

LaVar Ball Lakers

It doesn’t seem like all that long ago that LaVar Ball and his Big Baller Brand were being relentlessly mocked for selling $500 sneakers. The ridicule still exists, but for a much different reason now.

At one of their pop-up shops over the weekend, Big Baller Brand was selling several items on clearance. Prices ranged from $5 for T-shirts and hats to $100 for a package that includes a T-shirt, hoodie, pair of shoes and pair of socks.

When the Big Baller Brand first launched, Lonzo Ball’s signatures shoes were selling for $495. Hats and T-shirts were around $50. Many people thought the prices were absurd, but LaVar Ball insisted all of the items were selling at a furious pace and his family was making money in bundles.

Not so much, anymore. Lonzo recently distanced himself from BBB, and he had a pretty good reason for doing so. That has almost certainly had a negative impact on the brand, and you have to wonder how much longer they can stay in business with clearance prices like that.

Shaq responds to Steve Kerr calling him out over Finals comment

Shaq TNT

Shaquille O’Neal has some feet to kiss after a comment he made 15 years ago has come back to haunt him, and the Hall of Famer is puckering up.

Shaq’s Los Angeles Lakers won three straight championships from 2000-2002 and then reached the NBA Finals again in 2004, and the big man declared in an interview with ESPN that reaching four Finals in five years is so difficult it would never be done again. He said if any coach pulled it off, he’d kiss his feet on the show “Fear Factor.” Steve Kerr, who reached his fifth straight Finals with the Golden State Warriors this past season, was made aware of the interview on Monday.

Shaq responded by saying he is willing to pay up, as long as the cheese is Kraft brand.

Erik Spoelstra also brought the Miami Heat to four consecutive Finals from 2011-2014, so technically Shaq has to kiss his feet, too. As long as he’s the one kissing feet and not having his nightmarish feet kissed, things shouldn’t be all that bad.

Mark Cuban fined $50K for admitting to leaking info about coaches’ challenges

Mark Cuban

Mark Cuban has gotten himself fined by the NBA numerous times in the past for things he has said, but the latest is a bit different from all the others.

ESPN’s Tim MacMahon reports that Cuban has been fined $50,000 by the NBA after he admitted to leaking information from last week’s Board of Governor meeting to a reporter. The fine was not announced publicly, but a memo was sent to teams and Cuban made a sarcastic remark to MacMahon about it.

“I appreciate the irony of your reporting on a fine that someone should, but won’t, get fined for leaking to you,” he said.

Apparently Sacramento Kings owner Vivek Ranadive expressed concern to the league that information about owners moving to allow coaches’ challenges next season was trickling out while executives were still meeting about it. Cuban immediately admitted he was the one who leaked the info, and that’s where the fine stems from.

The $50,000 fine is nothing compared to some of the penalties Cuban has had to pay in the past, and that probably gives you an idea of how serious the violation was — or, in this case, wasn’t.

76ers have insane amount of money committed to their core players

Joel Embiid

If the Philadelphia 76ers fail to win a championship in the next five years or so, their fans certainly cannot blame the front office for a lack of financial commitment to the roster.

As expected, Ben Simmons agreed to a five-year, $170 million rookie max extension with the Sixers on Monday. The contract came in an offseason where Philly also shelled out $180 million over five years to keep Tobias Harris and signed Al Horford to a four-year, $109 million deal. And let’s not forget the five-year, $148 million extension Joel Embiid got prior to the 2017-18 season.

Apparently trusting “The Process” costs a lot of dough. As ESPN’s Bobby Marks notes, the 76ers will have well over a half-billion dollars invested in their four core players when Simmons’ extension kicks in starting in 2020-21.

With all the money they have spent, it’s hard to believe the 76ers did not offer one star player the max contract he was seeking. They clearly have a vision, however, and they feel their current roster is the one that is going to bring them a title. Their payroll says it all.

Top trade target Zack Wheeler placed on IL with shoulder fatigue

New York Mets

Zack Wheeler has been frequently mentioned as a top target heading into the trade deadline later this month, but the New York Mets may have to hang onto him now.

Wheeler has apparently been experiencing discomfort in his throwing shoulder, and the Mets are placing him on the injured list with shoulder fatigue.

The Mets are 42-51 and expected to be sellers at the deadline, and Wheeler had turned into one of their most valuable pieces. The right-hander had reportedly drawn interest from the Boston Red Sox, New York Yankees and other teams. He is 6-6 with a 4.69 ERA this season.

It sounds like teams were already having trouble moving players leading into the deadline this year, so Wheeler is almost certain to remain with the Mets now.

Boxing world pays tribute to Pernell Whitaker following death

The sport of boxing lost a legend on Sunday night when Pernell “Sweet Pea” Whitaker was hit by a car and killed, and his death has hit the fighting community hard.

Whitaker, who was 55, was struck and killed in a tragic accident in Virginia Beach. Details of the crash were not released as of Monday afternoon with the investigation ongoing, per the City of Virginia Beach.

Several of boxing’s biggest names took to social media to pay tribute to Whitaker after learning the sad news.

Whitaker held numerous titles during his boxing career and had a 40-4-1 record with 17 knockouts. He was one of the best fighters of the 1990s and one of the best defensive boxers of all time. He made a name for himself similar to the way Floyd Mayweather Jr. did, as he was virtually impossible to hit.

Sweat Pea was truly one of the best to do it.