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#pounditFriday, May 27, 2022

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Incredible old photo goes viral of LeBron James and new Lakers coach

LeBron James looking on

Jan 21, 2022; Orlando, Florida, USA; Los Angeles Lakers forward LeBron James (6) against the Orlando Magic during the first quarter at Amway Center. Mandatory Credit: Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

LeBron James has certainly been around the block for quite some time now.

On Friday, the Los Angeles Lakers hired Darvin Ham to become their next head coach, according to multiple reports. Ham was previously an assistant coach for the Milwaukee Bucks and also played in the NBA for many years.

An incredible old photo of Ham and LeBron James went viral in light of the news. The photo from 2004 showed Ham, who was then a member of the Detroit Pistons, guarding James, then a member of the Cleveland Cavaliers.

It is hard to believe that James, 37, and Ham, 48, played in the NBA at the same time. Since that photo was taken, Ham left the NBA (in 2005), played in the Philippines, played in the NBA D-League, then coached in the NBA D-League, became an assistant coach in the NBA, made three different multi-year stops as an assistant coach, won the championship with Milwaukee last season, and finally got hired as Lakers coach. Now Ham will be coaching James, who has continued to play in the NBA all throughout that time.

Ham has the unenviable task of turning around an aging Lakers team that went 33-49 this season and still potentially has to make it work with a Big Three of James, Anthony Davis, and Russell Westbrook. For James specifically, he offered his reaction to the hiring of Ham on Friday.

Jimmy Butler reveals what Dwyane Wade told him before Game 6

Jimmy Butler points on the court

Jan 22, 2020; Miami, Florida, USA; Miami Heat forward Jimmy Butler (22) controls the ball against the Washington Wizards during the second half at American Airlines Arena. Mandatory Credit: Jasen Vinlove-USA TODAY Sports

Jimmy Butler put together a monster performance for his Miami Heat in a Game 6 win over the Boston Celtics in the Eastern Conference Finals on Friday night. The Heat star said he was inspired by a message he received from a team legend prior to the game.

Butler spoke with ESPN’s Lisa Salters after scoring 47 points in a 111-103 win. He said that he was able to overcome his knee issues thanks to some inspiration from Dwyane Wade.

“Honestly, I got a phone call and text message from D. Wade earlier today. And he was telling me that I could do this. Knee a little banged up, but nobody cares. ‘Go out there, continue to build your legacy.’ That meant the world to me, so I appreciate you, D. Wade,” Butler said.

Though Wade is known best for his time with the Heat, he was teammates with Butler in Chicago during the 2016-2017 season. Butler later came to Miami after Wade retired.

Wade played 17 seasons in the NBA from 2003-2019. He made 13 All-Star teams and won three championships with the Heat.

Butler has taken the Heat to the NBA Finals once already and is looking to do it a second time. Wade will have to deliver another inspirational speech ahead of Game 7 in Miami on Sunday.

Brian Kelly names 1 thing he wants to do at LSU

Brian Kelly smiles at an LSU press conference

Dec 1, 2021; Baton Rouge, LA, USA; Newly named LSU Tigers head football coach Brian Kelly answers media questions after being introduced in a press conference at Tiger Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Patrick Dennis-USA TODAY Sports

Brian Kelly unexpectedly left Notre Dame for LSU in November. Now that he’s in the SEC, Kelly has one challenge in particular he wants to overcome.

In an appearance on the “Varsity House Podcast” on Tuesday, Kelly shared one thing he’s looking forward to getting the chance to do at LSU.

“I want to beat Nick Saban,” Kelly said. “Who doesn’t want to beat Nick Saban? You know what I mean? I want to play him in the regular season. That’s the standard. Now, he’s a conference opponent.”

Beating Saban will be easier said than done.

Kelly is inheriting an LSU team that went 6-6 in 2021, while Saban and his six national titles at Alabama (seven overall) have dominated the college football landscape for over a decade.

The Tigers did land a notable transfer quarterback this offseason, but more improvements need to be made before they’re ready to compete with Alabama.

Kelly does have a history of turning around struggling programs. In 2004, he took over a Central Michigan team that went 3-9 the year prior. He left CMU for Cincinnati after a 9-4 season in 2006.

He restored Notre Dame back to national prominence, taking over a 6-6 team from 2009 and leading them to the national championship game and a 12-1 record in 2012. Under Kelly, the Fighting Irish had two 10-win seasons, two 11-win seasons and one 12-win season over the last five years. The team also made appearances in the College Football Playoff in 2018 and 2020.

To be the best you have to beat the best, and Kelly seems ready for the challenge.

H/T al.com

Tommy Pham slapped Joc Pederson for ridiculous reason

Joc Pederson in a batting helmet

May 24, 2022; San Francisco, California, USA; San Francisco Giants left fielder Joc Pederson (23) watches his two-run home run against the New York Mets during the third inning at Oracle Park. Mandatory Credit: John Hefti-USA TODAY Sports

Tommy Pham did not play in Friday night’s game between his Cincinnati Reds and the San Francisco Giants after slapping one of his opponents.

Pham got into an altercation with Joc Pederson during batting practice and slapped the Giants outfielder, according to reports. That may be crazy enough, but what’s even crazier is the reported reason for the altercation.

The Athletic reported on Friday night that Pham slapped Pederson over a disagreement from their fantasy football league. Seriously.

A fantasy football league beef? It’s almost June. The NFL season has been done for months. What could possibly possess these two to get into a fight half a year after the fantasy season ended?

What happened, did Pham try to collect an entry fee? Was Joc looking for a payout? Was there some trade collusion or other funny business that needed to be addressed?

The details of this fantasy football dispute are imperative. We need answers.

LeBron James reacts to Lakers’ head coaching hire

LeBron James in a purple Lakers sweater

Dec 9, 2021; Memphis, Tennessee, USA; Los Angeles Lakers forward LeBron James (6) warms-up prior to the game against the Memphis Grizzles at FedExForum. Mandatory Credit: Petre Thomas-USA TODAY Sports

The Los Angeles Lakers have hired Milwaukee Bucks assistant Darvin Ham as their next head coach, and LeBron James appears to be happy with the team’s choice.

James tweeted a welcoming message towards his new coach on Friday.

“So damn EXCITED!!!!!!!!” James wrote. “Congrats and welcome Coach DHam!!”

While James’ tweet suggested otherwise, he reportedly favored a more accomplished coach if given the choice.

But James appears to be on board with the Lakers’ final decision.

The Lakers are looking to turn things around following a disastrous 33-49 season in which they failed to reach the postseason. Ham is replacing Frank Vogel, who won a championship in his first season with the Lakers but was fired two years later. How Ham maximizes Russell Westbrook apparently is a key factor for the Lakers.

Reports: Tommy Pham slapped Joc Pederson in pregame altercation

Tommy Pham in batting practice

May 12, 2022; Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, USA; Cincinnati Reds left fielder Tommy Pham (28) looks on at the batting cage before the game against the Pittsburgh Pirates at PNC Park. Mandatory Credit: Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports

Tommy Pham did not play on Friday night after being involved in a pregame altercation with an opponent.

Pham and Joc Pederson had to be separated during batting practice prior to Friday’s game between Pham’s Cincinnati Reds and Pederson’s San Francisco Giants.

The Athletic reported that Pham slapped Pederson.

The Giants requested that Pham not play in that evening’s game as a result of the altercation. Cincinnati waited before making a change to their lineup but eventually started Albert Almora Jr. in place of Pham.

MLB is investigating the matter. Pham did not play in the game pending the results of the investigation.

Pham, 34, is in his first season with the Reds. He is batting .233 with a .709 OPS. Pederson is in his first season with the Giants and has 11 home runs and a .936 OPS.

Browns give massive extension to TE

David Njoku in pads

Oct 11, 2020; Cleveland, Ohio, USA; Cleveland Browns tight end David Njoku (85) warms up before the game between the Cleveland Browns and the Indianapolis Colts at FirstEnergy Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Ken Blaze-USA TODAY Sports

The Cleveland Browns have locked up a key fixture in their offense for the foreseeable future.

The Browns and tight end David Njoku on Friday agreed to a contract extension.

Njoku confirmed on Twitter that he was staying in Cleveland:

NFL Media’s Ian Rapoport says the deal is a four-year, $56.75 million contract extension. The deal includes a guaranteed $28 million and will make Njoku the fourth highest-paid tight end in the NFL.

According to Spotrac, George Kittle, Travis Kelce and Dallas Goedert are the only tight ends that will earn more money than Njoku this season.

The Browns had placed the franchise tag on Njoku earlier this offseason. He did not participate in the team’s voluntary OTAs this week while the two sides ironed out a deal.

Njoku was selected by the Browns with the No. 29 overall pick in the 2017 draft. In 16 games and 11 starts in 2021, he caught 36 passes for 475 yards and four touchdowns.

Njoku is entering what should be his prime years at age 25. He has yet to reach his full potential as a pass-catcher, but having Deshaun Watson as his quarterback going forward could help get him there.

Did Jerry Jones take a shot at former Cowboys receiver?

Jerry Jones takes off his sunglasses

Dallas Cowboys owner and general manager Jerry Jones was taken to the hospital in a precautionary measure after he was involved in a “minor” car accident.
Syndication The Record

The Dallas Cowboys may have lost Amari Cooper this offseason, but owner Jerry Jones thinks that CeeDee Lamb will be a better No. 1 option at wide receiver.

Jones told Clarence E. Hill Jr. of the Fort Worth Star-Telegram Thursday that Lamb will be an upgrade over Amari Cooper as the Cowboys’ top receiving threat.

Jones said that Lamb has the ability to be a more complete option as far as “production, in the huddle and off the field” than Cooper.

Although likely not meant to be a shot at Cooper, Jones obviously saw Lamb as the better player and fit for Dallas’ offense, especially at Cooper’s $20 million price.

Lamb’s ascension to the top of the depth chart was imminent. He had already started surpassing Cooper’s production last season.

The 23-year-old caught 79 passes for 1,102 yards and six touchdowns in 16 games. Cooper, on the other hand, had 68 receptions for 865 yards and eight touchdowns in 15 games. Lamb also had 120 targets compared to 104 for Cooper, proving that he had become the team’s go-to receiver over Cooper.

Cooper was traded to the Cleveland Browns in March.

It will be interesting to see, without Cooper, how Lamb fares this season with opposing defenses focused on him.

Lakers hire new head coach

Darvin Ham in a suit

Apr. 7, 2012; Phoenix, AZ, USA; Los Angeles Lakers assistant coach Darvin Ham against the Phoenix Suns at the US Airways Center. The Suns defeated the Lakers 125-105. Mandatory Credit: Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports

The Los Angeles Lakers have themselves a new head coach.

The Lakers interviewed Darvin Ham on Friday and offered him the job, according to ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski. Ham is getting a four-year deal.

Ham, 48, had been an assistant coach with the Milwaukee Bucks since 2018. Prior to that, he was an assistant with the Atlanta Hawks, and he also had a stint with the Lakers from 2011-2013.

Once well known for his dunking abilities in college at Texas Tech, Ham bounced around the NBA from 1996-2005 before going into coaching in 2008.

The word over the past few weeks has been that Ham was the leader for the job. However, a recent report said that some others wanted a more experienced head coach rather than a first-timer like Ham.

Nationals’ new Juan Soto bobblehead has hilarious twist

Juan Soto in a Nats hat

Jul 30, 2021; Washington, District of Columbia, USA; Washington Nationals left fielder Juan Soto (22) in the dugout before the game against the Chicago Cubs at Nationals Park. Mandatory Credit: Brad Mills-USA TODAY Sports

The Washington Nationals’ new bobblehead of star slugger Juan Soto is apparently very true to the source material.

Washington held a promotion for Friday night’s game against the Colorado Rockies where they gave away bobbleheads of Soto … with a funny twist. In addition to traditional bobblehead capacities, Soto’s bobblehead also has legs that move separately, a nod to the iconic “Soto Shuffle.” Take a look.

For the unintiated, the All-Star Soto is famous for the little strut he does when taking a pitch. At this point, it is as synoynmous with Soto as Nomar Garciaparra adjusting his batting gloves and Ichiro pointing his bat out to center field.

That is what makes this new Soto bobblehead is an all-timer, probably even more so than this other viral bobblehead the Nats produced a few years ago.