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#pounditFriday, June 14, 2024

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Conor McGregor out of UFC 303 main event

Conor McGregor in the cage

Conor McGregor looks ahead. Photo Credit: Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports

UFC 303 on Thursday officially lost its intended main event amid news of Conor McGregor’s latest injury.

McGregor had to pull out of the fight due to injury, UFC president Dana White said in a video posted on X. McGregor injured himself while training for the fight.

McGregor was slated to face Michael Chandler on June 29 as the headline fight for UFC 303 at T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas, Nev.

White announced that Alex Pereira vs. Jiří Prochazka would be UFC 303’s new main event. A featherweight bout between former champion Brian Ortega and Diego Lopes would be the co-main event.

There is optimism that the McGregor-Chandler fight could still take place later in the year, according to MMA reporter Ariel Helwani.

McGregor had previously sparked concern about how seriously he was taking the fight after the Irishman was seen partying at a nightclub a month before the fight.

McGregor has not fought in the octagon since losing his second consecutive bout against Dustin Poirier back in 2021.

Oilers fan goes viral for embarrassing moment during Game 3

One Edmonton Oilers fan on Thursday may have gotten a little confused during Game 3 of the Stanley Cup Final.

The Florida Panthers went up 1-0 with just over a minute left in the first period at Rogers Place in Alberta, Canada. Panthers center Sam Reinhart struck first with a perfectly executed tip goal to put the visitors ahead.

With the Oilers entering Thursday’s contest down 0-2 in the series, giving up the opening goal in such a game would be a deflating sight for most fans. But the ESPN broadcast panned the camera toward an ecstatic Oilers fan in the stands. The woman’s reaction perplexed spectators, who reacted via X.

Perhaps the fan just scored some free tickets and had no idea what was going on. She may have just been there to have a good time.

The woman may have also been a psychic because the Oilers equalized just a few minutes later. She may have simply been celebrating early.

Unfortunately for Oilers fans, Florida answered with three more goals to take a 4-1 lead to close out the second period. The fan’s reactions to those goals would have probably revealed where her allegiances truly lied.

The Oilers tried to mount a comeback late with two goals in the final period but couldn’t come up with the game-tying score.

However, the turncoat fan is far from the most viral Oilers fan this postseason. That title belongs to the fan who was caught flashing the crowd during the Oilers’ Game 5 win in the Western Conference Finals.

Jayson Tatum has message for reporters about potentially winning NBA Finals

May 15, 2022; Boston, Massachusetts, USA; Boston Celtics forward Jayson Tatum (0) celebrates during the second half of their win over the Milwaukee Bucks in game seven of the second round of the 2022 NBA playoffs at TD Garden. Mandatory Credit: Winslow Townson-USA TODAY Sports

The Boston Celtics are one game away from raising their 18th championship banner. But Jayson Tatum is already thinking about doing it again next year.

The Celtics won 106-99 over the Dallas Mavericks in Game 3 of the NBA Finals to take a 3-0 lead in the series. No team has ever come back from down 3-0 in any series — let alone the NBA Finals.

Tatum spoke to the media on Thursday with the series all but wrapped up.

One reporter told Tatum that if Boston completes the sweep of the Mavericks, their team would have the best single-season playoff winning percentage in Celtics history. The 2023-24 Celtics have gone 15-2 since the postseason began.

Tatum acknowledged that the milestone would be “really cool” but already imagined how some members of the media would spin the narrative against them.

“I didn’t know that. That would be really cool. But you guys probably would say we didn’t play anybody to go here. So we’ve got to do it again next year,” Tatum said.

The Celtics certainly had a much easier path to the NBA Finals compared to the Mavericks. All-Stars Jimmy Butler, Donovan Mitchell, and Tyrese Haliburton — the best players on each of Boston’s previous opponents — all missed games due to injuries. Even Luka Doncic has been visibly hobbled throughout the Finals after going through a Western Conference gauntlet.

But the Celtics haven’t had a clean bill of health either given Kristaps Porzingis’ multiple injuries throughout the playoffs.

At the end of the day, securing a championship is all that matters.

Wife of former Astros GM throws major shade at struggling team

Oct 13, 2017; Houston, TX, USA; Houston Astros general manager Jeff Luhnow before game one of the 2017 ALCS playoff baseball series against the New York Yankees at Minute Maid Park. Mandatory Credit: Troy Taormina-USA TODAY Sports

One former Houston Astros executive’s wife has a simple explanation for why the team is struggling this season: karma.

The Astros entered Thursday with a 31-38 record. The 2022 World Series winners have yet to get over .500 this season after starting the year 0-4. On Wednesday, one fan expressed his frustrations about the down year via a post on X.

The fan asked how the Astros went from seven straight ALCS appearances to “complete “dog—t” in the matter of one offseason.

Gina Luhnow, the wife of former Astros general manager Jeff Luhnow, gave a pointed response to the fan’s query.

“Simple answer: Jim Crane fired Jeff Luhnow. Karma sucks,” replied Mrs. Luhnow.

Houston fired Jeff Luhnow in 2020 amid the blowback the Astros received for their infamous sign-stealing scandal. Luhnow had maintained that he had nothing to do with the sign-stealing that went down and even sued the Astros for $22 million over his firing.

Luhnow was widely credited as the architect behind the Astros’ most successful run in franchise history.

The Astros hired Luhnow prior to the 2012 campaign. After three down seasons under Luhnow’s watch, Houston made the playoffs in 2015 to break a decade-long postseason drought. They won the World Series — their first in franchise history — two years later.

The Houston roster that won the World Series again in 2022 still largely had Luhnow’s fingerprints on it.

Luhnow has kept himself busy since being let go by the Astros. The 57-year-old entered a rather surprising business venture in 2022.

Everyone said the same thing about Scottie Scheffler’s haircut

May 15, 2024; Louisville, Kentucky, USA; Scottie Scheffler prepares to hit off of the 10th tee box during a practice round for the PGA Championship golf tournament at Valhalla Golf Club. Mandatory Credit: Clare Grant-USA TODAY Sports

Scottie Scheffler showed up for his first round of the US Open at Pinehurst No. 2 in North Carolina on Thursday with a fresh new haircut. His tight cut combined with his not-quite-exceptional play led everyone to make the same joke.

First off, barber Anthony Montañez aka “Monti the Barber” shared photos on his Instagram of all the top players whose hair he cut prior to the US Open — Scheffler, Tiger Woods and Rory McIlroy were among them.

Take a look at the tight fade he gave Scheffler:

Folks took note of how short Scheffler’s hair was and joked accordingly.

Scheffler shot a 1-over 71 on Thursday, which isn’t so bad. But the jokes comparing him to Samson like he lost his powers after getting his hair cut were all pretty good.

Knicks adding Hall of Fame player to Tom Thibodeau’s coaching staff

Oct 30, 2022; Cleveland, Ohio, USA; New York Knicks head coach Tom Thibodeau in the third quarter against the Cleveland Cavaliers at Rocket Mortgage FieldHouse. Mandatory Credit: David Richard-USA TODAY Sports

Tom Thibodeau is adding an assistant coach who has been in the game even longer than he has.

Adrian Wojnarowski of ESPN reported Thursday that the Knicks are planning to hire Maurice Cheeks as an assistant coach. The 67-year-old Cheeks had spent the last four seasons as an assistant coach for the Chicago Bulls under Billy Donovan.

Cheeks was a standout player for the Philadelphia 76ers and four other NBA teams (including the Knicks themselves from 1990-91). He made four All-Star teams, earned five All-Defensive nods, and started at point guard on the 76ers’ last NBA championship team in 1983. Cheeks eventually got his No. 10 jersey retired by the 76ers and was inducted into the Basketball Hall of Fame in 2018.

To the younger generations, Cheeks is known more so for his lengthy career in coaching. He was an NBA head coach for a total of nine seasons with the Portland Trail Blazers, the 76ers, and the Detroit Pistons, compiling a total record of 305-315 (.492) with three playoff berths. Cheeks then went on to become an assistant coach on the Oklahoma City Thunder for nine total seasons before following Donovan to the Bulls in 2020.

The Knicks present an appealing landing spot with their All-Star duo of Jalen Brunson and Julius Randle flanked by a number of talented role pieces. They also have some openings to fill on Thibodeau’s staff as his associate head coach may end up leaving for a different East team.

Trevor Lawrence gets massive $275 million contract extension

Oct 10, 2021; Jacksonville, Florida, USA; Jacksonville Jaguars quarterback Trevor Lawrence (16) gestures after scoring a touchdown during the second half against the Tennessee Titans at TIAA Bank Field. Mandatory Credit: Matt Pendleton-USA TODAY Sports

Trevor Lawrence is getting paid in a big way.

The Jacksonville Jaguars have reached an agreement with Lawrence on a five-year contract extension worth $275 million. That breaks down to $55 million per season.

According to what NFL Media’s Ian Rapoport reported on Thursday, the deal includes $200 million guaranteed, with $142 million fully guaranteed.

In January, Jaguars GM Trent Baalke said he was unsure whether an extension for Lawrence would come this offseason or next offseason. The sides apparently decided to make it happen this year, which is not too surprising given the hint the young quarterback gave earlier this month.

Lawrence was the No. 1 overall pick in 2021 by Jacksonville. The team went 9-8 in his starts in 2022 and 8-8 under him last season. Last year, he threw for 4,016 yards, 21 touchdowns and 14 interceptions, while rushing for 339 yards and 4 touchdowns.

Lawrence was entering the fourth season of his rookie deal and was set to earn $5.4 million in 2024. The team had already picked up his $25.6 million option for 2025 prior to the contract extension being agreed to.

Rival executive is not impressed with Falcons’ tampering punishment

One anonymous NFL executive certainly does not think the tampering punishment levied against the Atlanta Falcons over their courtship of Kirk Cousins is going to dissuade anyone else from doing something similar in the future.

Mike Florio of Pro Football Talk quoted an anonymous executive on Thursday reacting to the Falcons’ punishment. Atlanta was docked a fifth-round pick and fined $250,000 for impermissible contact with Cousins during the two-day negotiating period prior to the formal start of free agency. In the eyes of the executive, that is a small price to pay to get a jump on the rest of the league when it comes to signing the top quarterback on the market.

“If I can land the top QB in free agency for a fifth-round pick and $250K, I’ll sign up for that any day,” the executive said.

The Falcons’ punishment does feel like a slap on the wrist more than anything else. The biggest reason for that is the tampering allegedly came during the so-called “legal tampering” period in which teams can discuss contract terms with agents. Direct contact with players is not permitted, but it is not as egregious as what other teams have done in the past.

Ultimately, the executive is correct. The Falcons will part with the pick and the money and probably won’t mind too much. They got the quarterback they wanted in the end.

Dan Hurley admits his wife had strong reaction to Lakers interest

Mar 27, 2024; Boston, MA, USA; Connecticut head coach Dan Hurley smiles at a reporters question at a press conference before their practice in preparation for their East semifinal game against San Diego State at TD Garden. Mandatory Credit: Winslow Townson-USA TODAY Sports

Dan Hurley dropped another potential hint about why he decided not to leave UConn for the Los Angeles Lakers.

Hurley admitted in an appearance on “The Dan Le Batard Show with Stugotz” on Thursday that his wife Andrea was initially “violently angry” at Hurley being willing to even consider the Laker job. Hurley made clear, however, that she ultimately warmed up to the possibility.

“She was crying in the beginning,” Hurley admitted. “I think initially, the first couple days of it, she got violently angry and emotional. Not like hitting me and stuff, not ‘get away from me, I don’t want to consider this, you’re torturing me with this incredible opportunity, you horrible human being.’ She got emotional, ‘I can’t believe you’re bringing this. Our life is so great, it’s perfect. Our lives couldn’t be better and now you’re bringing this s–t.

“She was bad in the beginning, but then she warmed up to it when we got out there and she met Rob (Pelinka) and she met Jeannie (Buss) and felt the weather. We drove around Manhattan Beach and just met the people, and she saw the vision of it. She was into it, but then when we got back to Connecticut, without having made a decision, we got back home and we both flipped back.”

It certainly sounds like, even if Hurley’s wife ultimately warmed up to the idea, she was never entirely enthusiastic. Perhaps that is a big part of why Hurley wasn’t either.

Hurley made clear that he wasn’t trying to gain leverage while speaking in the same interview. His interest appears to have been genuine, but it does not sound like he was ever really leaning toward taking the Laker job. For now, he is simply comfortable with where he is.

Doc Rivers takes swipe at fans of his former team 76ers

Feb 6, 2024; Phoenix, Arizona, USA; Milwaukee Bucks head coach Doc Rivers looks on during the third quarter of the game against the Phoenix Suns at Footprint Center. Mandatory Credit: Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports

Doc Rivers is going after a new enemy this week.

The Milwaukee Bucks head coach Rivers appeared on the latest episode of “The Bill Simmons Podcast.” During the episode, Rivers and Simmons discussed the dynamics of playing on the road versus at home as it pertains to the current NBA Finals series between the Boston Celtics and the Dallas Mavericks. In the middle of the discussion, Rivers got in a seemingly unprompted shot at fans of his former team, the Philadelphia 76ers.

“You usually play better at home,” said Rivers. “The only place that I thought it was difficult to play at home was in Philly because of the crowd. I thought it affected our players some.”

Rivers didn’t elaborate further as Simmons quickly steered the conversation back towards the Celtics. You can see the clip below (at around the 44-minute mark).

The former NBA champion head coach Rivers coached the 76ers for three seasons from 2020-23. While Philly was a playoff team in all three of those seasons, they never advanced past the second round and suffered multiple brutal postseason defeats at home over that span (most notably, a Game 7 loss to the Atlanta Hawks in 2021 that resulted in a lot of fallout).

Philly fans are known as some of the most passionate fans in sports but also some of the most fickle. 76ers fans specifically have become notorious for booing their own players (some of whom are still on the roster now).

As for Rivers, he might also be harboring something of a grudge against the fans in Philadelphia. When he returned to the city in February as the head coach of the Bucks, Rivers received a very harsh reception of his own.

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