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#pounditTuesday, June 18, 2024


Kylian Mbappe to undergo surgery after scary collision against Austria at Euros

Kylian Mbappe colliding with a defender

One of the brightest stars at this year’s UEFA European Championship may be in danger of missing the rest of the tournament.

The French soccer superstar Kylian Mbappe had a very scary moment during France’s opening match of the Euros against Austria on Monday. In the 85th minute, Mbappe attempted a header from just outside the six-yard box off a set-piece delivery from his teammate Antoine Griezmann. The attempt was blocked by Austria centre-back Kevin Danso, and Mbappe’s head collided hard with Danso’s shoulder on the follow-through.

Here is the video.

Mbappe was bleeding heavily from his nose as a result of the collision, and the blood was very visible on his jersey. He attempted to play through the injury for a few more minutes but was eventually subbed off for Olivier Giroud in the 90th minute.

The French Federation confirmed after the match, which France held on to win 1-0, that Mbappe had suffered a broken nose from the collision. He will now have to undergo surgery in Dusseldorf, Germany, where Monday’s France-Austria match was played (per leading soccer reporter Fabrizio Romano).

It is unclear at the moment if Mbappe, France’s captain who led them to the 2018 World Cup title as well as a runner-up finish at the 2022 World Cup, can still return for them during the Euros. France has two more matches of group-stage play over the next week before the Round of 16 knockout stage (which they have a very strong chance of advancing to after Monday’s win).

The versatile 25-year-old Mbappe, whose exploits have drawn attention from other star athletes around the world, will be nearly impossible for France to replace. They may have to turn to a true striker like Giroud or Randal Kolo Muani for now and pray that Mbappe can return in time.

Steelers legends pose with Notre Dame-bound sons in epic photo

The Notre Dame logo on the field

Oct 17, 2015; South Bend, IN, USA; General view of the Notre Dame Fighting Irish logo at midfield before a NCAA football game against the Southern California Trojans tat Notre Dame Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

Three sons of Pittsburgh Steelers icons will be playing together for Notre Dame in the years to come, which led to a pretty awesome photoshoot.

Elijah Burress, the son of longtime Steelers wide receiver Plaxico Burress, shared the photos on social media Monday. In the pictures, Burress and his father pose alongside Ivan Taylor and his father Ike, as well as Jerome Bettis Jr. and his father.

That is a pretty great sales pitch for Notre Dame, for one thing. After all, Burress, Taylor, and Bettis are all highly identifiable with NFL success. Ivan Taylor is regarded as the best college prospect of the three with a four-star ranking, while Burress and Taylor are both considered three-star recruits. All of them committed to Notre Dame within roughly four months of each other.

Bettis Jr. and Burress are both wide receivers, while Taylor plays cornerback, just as his father did. All three are members of the 2025 recruiting class and will enroll at Notre Dame starting next year.

Rory McIlroy addresses his US Open meltdown in statement

Rory McIlroy stands

May 12, 2024; Charlotte, North Carolina, USA; Rory McIlroy plays his shot from the third tee during the final round of the Wells Fargo Championship golf tournament. Mandatory Credit: Jim Dedmon-USA TODAY Sports

Rory McIlroy has finally broken his silence following a disappointing collapse at the U.S. Open.

McIlroy played well all week at Pinehurst No. 2 in Pinehurst, N.C., but he finished one back of winner Bryson DeChambeau on Sunday. McIlroy likely would have won the tournament (and his fifth major) if not for two brutal missed short putts in the final three holes.

After choking away what would have been his second U.S. Open victory, McIlroy declined an interview request with NBC. A video also showed him quickly leaving the course without speaking with the media.

On Monday, McIlroy issued a statement on social media expressing disappointment over the way his week came to an end at Pinehurst. He also said he is “going to take a few weeks away from the game to process everything.”

“Yesterday was a tough day, probably the toughest I’ve had in my nearly 17 years as a professional golfer,” McIlroy wrote. “Firstly, I’d like to congratulate Bryson. He is a worthy champion and exactly what professional golf needs right now. I think we can all agree on that.

“As I reflect on my week, I’ll rue a few things, mostly the 2 missed putts on 16 and 18 on the final day. But, as I always try to do, I’ll look at the positives of the week that far outweigh the negatives. As I said at the start of the tournament, I feel closer to winning my next major championship than I ever have. The one word that I would describe my career as is resilient. I’ve shown my resilience over and over again in the last 17 years and I will again.

“I’m going to take a few weeks away from the game to process everything and build myself back up for my defense of the Genesis Scottish Open and The Open at Royal Troon. See you in Scotland.”

McIlroy has struggled with his putting in recent years, which is one of the primary reasons it has been a decade since he last won a major. He appeared to have the putter working throughout much of his final round at Pinehurst, but that part of his game failed him once again when it mattered.

The U.S. Open win was the second for DeChambeau, who had a classy message about McIlroy after the tournament.

Joe Mazzulla shut down reporter’s question about winning a title

Joe Mazzulla on the sideline

Dec 16, 2022; Boston, Massachusetts, USA; Boston Celtics head coach Joe Mazzulla watches from the sideline as they take on the Orlando Magic at TD Garden. Mandatory Credit: David Butler II-USA TODAY Sports

Boston Celtics coach Joe Mazzulla is clearly hyper-focused on Monday’s NBA Finals Game 5, judging by his response to a question about what a title would mean to him.

Mazzulla on Sunday was asked what it would mean to him to join the legendary fraternity of Celtics coaches to win a championship, with the team up 3-1 and looking to close out the Dallas Mavericks at home. The Celtics coach was absolutely not willing to take the bait, refusing to even entertain the question.

“That’ll never happen if you don’t run back on defense, rebound, execute and get to your spacing. That’s the most important thing,” Mazzulla replied.

In other words, Mazzulla is not even going there. Perhaps he will if and when the Celtics close out the series, but not a moment sooner.

Mazzulla has become well-known for his intense focus and his lack of interest in personal accolades. It has certainly helped the Celtics get this far, and they now sit one win away from the title.

Bulls reportedly expected to lose former All-Star in free agency

A Chicago Bulls logo on a pair of shorts

Dec 6, 2016; Auburn Hills, MI, USA; A view of the Chicago Bulls logo on a pair of game shorts at The Palace of Auburn Hills. The Pistons won 102-91. Mandatory Credit: Aaron Doster-USA TODAY Sports

The Chicago Bulls may have to drive one former All-Star player to the airport themselves.

Joe Cowley of the Chicago Sun-Times reports this week that Bulls center Andre Drummond is “expected” to leave Chicago this offseason as he is looking to join a new NBA team. Drummond, 30, is about to become an unrestricted free agent after spending the last two seasons with the Bulls.

The ex-lottery pick Drummond is a two-time NBA All-Star, one-time All-NBA selection, and four-time NBA rebounding leader. After his production as a starter cratered several years ago, Drummond found a new niche as an energy big off the bench and averaged 8.4 points and 9.0 rebounds per game for Chicago last season.

Still, Drummond may be clamoring for more playing time as he had seen a meager 15.1 minutes per game over the last two seasons combined for the Bulls (who now own the No. 11 overall pick in next month’s draft too). In terms of potential landing spots for the UConn product Drummond, a reunion with his former NBA team could be a serious possibility.

Reporter floats theory about Charles Barkley’s retirement announcement

Charles Barkley holds a microphone

November 23, 2018; Las Vegas, NV, USA; Turner Sports sportscaster Charles Barkley before The Match: Tiger vs Phil golf match at Shadow Creek Golf Course. Mandatory Credit: Kyle Terada-USA TODAY Sports

Charles Barkley made the surprising announcement last week that he will retire from broadcasting after the 2024-25 season, but at least one reporter who covers the media believes the Hall of Famer is making a leverage play.

After the Dallas Mavericks beat the Boston Celtics in Game 4 of the NBA Finals on Friday night, Barkley said during the postgame show that next season will be his last working as an NBA TV analyst. The 61-year-old also said he is “not going nowhere other than TNT” despite having conversations with other networks.

Michael McCarthy of Front Office Sports does not think Barkley is actually going to walk away. With increasing talk that TNT is not going to renew its NBA media rights agreement following next season, McCarthy believes Barkley could be trying to put pressure on the NBA to keep negotiating with TNT parent company Warner Bros. Discovery.

“After talking with ESPN, NBC, and Prime, Barkley said the only network he wants to work for is TNT. The message: Barkley and TNT are a package deal,” McCarthy wrote. “If NBA wants to keep the best analyst and best studio show on TV, then they should carve out a smaller, cheaper, fourth package that will keep TNT in the hoops game. Or allow it to ‘match’ offers from third-party bidders NBC and Prime.”

McCarthy also said one of his sources believes that Barkley announced a retirement plan just to get the media to stop asking him which network he might go to work for if TNT loses NBA rights.

Remember, Barkley said two years ago that he planned to retire from television after the 2023-24 season. He then signed a new 10-year, $100 million deal with TNT. There have been reports that he would get significantly more than that if TNT loses NBA rights and Sir Charles joins a new network.

It would hardly be a surprise if Barkley changes his mind about retiring again. Even the statement TNT released about Barkley’s big announcement left the door open for the partnership to continue beyond next season.

Landon Donovan goes viral for awful hairstyle choice

Landon Donovan hair

US Soccer icon Landon Donovan is still beloved by American fans. The same cannot be said of his hairstyle these days.

Donovan is doing color commentary for FOX’s coverage of the European Championship in Germany this summer, and briefly appeared on camera prior to Monday’s contest between France and Austria. Whatever Donovan had to say was secondary, because the only thing anyone noticed was his hair.

Failed combover? Buzzcut gone terribly wrong? The worst bald spot ever seen by man? Nobody knew what to make of it.

Based on the actual video of his TV appearance, it may be that Donovan had styled his hair to make it look a bit less thin from the front. Unfortunately, that sort of falls apart as soon as he turns his head.

Perhaps that World Cup final two years ago really took a toll on Donovan. Whatever the case, it might just be time for him to let it go.

Yankees reveal Gerrit Cole’s return date from injury

Gerrit Cole throwing

Feb 14, 2020; Tampa, Florida, USA; New York Yankees pitcher Gerrit Cole (45) throws during a spring training workout at George M. Steinbrenner Field. Mandatory Credit: Jonathan Dyer-USA TODAY Sports

The Cole Train is officially back on the tracks.

New York Yankees manager Aaron Boone revealed to reporters on Monday when reigning AL Cy Young winner Gerrit Cole will finally be making his long-awaited season debut. Cole is set to start on Wednesday at home against the division rival Baltimore Orioles, Boone says.

The six-time All-Star Cole, 33, has not pitched all season due to a right elbow injury that flared up on him during spring training. But he recently completed a rehab assignment with the Scranton/Wilkes-Barre RailRiders, the Triple-A affiliate of the Yankees, and has been trending in a positive direction for several weeks now.

The impending return of Cole is the latest boost to a Yankees team that has the best record in baseball right now at 50-24. For Cole to make his season debut at home against the rival Orioles, who are tied for the second-best record in baseball at 47-24, is especially poetic as well.

Kawhi Leonard has a completely new hairstyle

Kawhi Leonard holds a ball

Apr 26, 2024; Dallas, Texas, USA; LA Clippers forward Kawhi Leonard (2) warms up before the game between the Dallas Mavericks and the LA Clippers during game three of the first round for the 2024 NBA playoffs at the American Airlines Center. Mandatory Credit: Jerome Miron-USA TODAY Sports

Kawhi Leonard debuted a new hairstyle on Sunday night, at least for one evening.

Fans were shocked when photos emerged of Leonard without his signature braids while attending Sunday’s WBA title fight between Gervonta Davis and Frank Martin in Las Vegas. Leonard appeared to be going with a much simpler look as he sat in the audience.

Looks can be deceiving, however. Clippers reporter Joey Linn uncovered an alternate angle of Leonard at the fight, and it turns out Leonard did not cut off his trademark braids. He simply had his hair tied back for the evening.

It’s still a very different look for Leonard, but not quite as radically altered as it first appeared. The public would not have known what to do with themselves if they could no longer count on some of his unique style choices with his current haircut.

The public had not received a glimpse of Leonard since the Los Angeles Clippers were knocked out of the playoffs in the first round. Even then, Leonard was limited to two games due to knee issues. He is expected to be part of the Olympic team that is headed to Paris for the Summer Games, but there is apparently some doubt about whether that will happen.

18-year-old Jackson James Rice dies ahead of Olympics debut

Jackson James Rice smiles

18-year-old would-be Olympian Jackson James Rice died just weeks before the start of the games in Paris.

Rice was killed in a diving accident in Tonga from a “suspected shallow water blackout,” according to Mary Lyn Fonua of Matangi Tonga. His body was found underneath the boat he had been free diving from, and resuscitation attempts were unsuccessful.

Rice was preparing to represent Tonga in the Olympics in the sport of kite-foiling, a sport that bears some similarities to kite surfing. The 18-year-old was born in the United States to British parents before moving to Tonga at a young age.

Rice had qualified for the Olympics last December thanks to an eighth-place finish at a qualifying event in Sydney, Australia. He most recently competed in the 2024 Formula Kite World Championships in France.