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Wednesday, February 26, 2020

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Report: Ben Simmons will miss more time with back injury

Ben Simmons

There is still a lack of clarity regarding Ben Simmons’ back injury, but it’s shaping up to be at least somewhat serious.

According to Adrian Wojnarowski of ESPN, Simmons will miss time, and the injury is not day-to-day. However, the team is still trying to determine the best treatment for their star guard.

This doesn’t sound great for Philadelphia. We already know Simmons won’t play Monday, but it certainly sounds like he’ll miss other games beyond that. If Simmons isn’t back by Sunday, he’ll miss the start of a west coast swing that sees the Sixers play the Clippers and Lakers.

Simmons is averaging 16.7 points, 8.2 assists, and 7.8 rebounds per game this season. The Sixers, who are currently fifth in the Eastern Conference, will be hoping to get him back as quickly as possible.

Packers president Mark Murphy intrigued by XFL kickoff rule

While the XFL’s unique rules have received mixed reviews from football viewers, there’s one that some have argued should be adopted by the NFL.

The XFL kicks off from the 30-yard line, and has the coverage teams line up five yards apart at the 30- and 35-yard lines to prevent high-speed collisions. The rule has resulted in more interesting kickoffs and has successfully reduced the risk of injury without eliminating the kickoff from the game.

It turns out the NFL has taken notice. Green Bay Packers president Mark Murphy, a member of the league’s Competition Committee, admitted to being intrigued by the rule.

We’re obviously a long way from the XFL’s rule even being considered by the NFL. It hasn’t even been brought up with the committee yet. Even the admission is interesting, though, and a signal that it might have a chance at some point. After all, the NFL has worked so hard on kickoffs, but they haven’t gotten more exciting. Taking a look at how the XFL does things is worth a shot.

Dak Prescott has not had contract talks with Cowboys since September

Dak Prescott

The likelihood of Dak Prescott being franchise tagged by the Dallas Cowboys appears to be increasing by the day.

Cowboys vice president Stephen Jones revealed Monday that the team has not had contract discussions with Prescott’s agent since September, before the 2019 season even started. The two sides have not spoken during the offseason either.

Jones added, however, that the team was waiting on talks until there was clarity on whether there will be a new CBA for the 2020 season.

Reports have indicated that the Cowboys don’t want to use the franchise tag on Prescott, but that’s the way things are trending right now. While there will theoretically be time to talk a long-term deal once the CBA situation is sorted out, the fact that Prescott and the Cowboys haven’t even spoken since September doesn’t really bode well for a quick resolution to talks. The Cowboys are racing against time, and while it’s not impossible, it just doesn’t appear that enough progress is being made right now to sort the situation out in time.

Video: Shaq drops F-bomb on live TV during Kobe Bryant memorial

Shaquille O’Neal gave an awesome speech at the memorial service held for Kobe Bryant and Kobe’s daughter, Gianna, on Monday.

Shaq kept his speech short and — to the surprise of no one — lightened things up for the thousands of fans at Staples Center. One of the best parts about the speech was when he spoke about the day Kobe earned his respect when the two were teammates with the Los Angeles Lakers. Shaq said some other Lakers players were complaining about Kobe not passing the ball, and Shaq told his teammates he’d talk to Kobe about it. When he told Kobe there’s no “I” in team, O’Neal says Bryant responded that “there’s an ‘M-E’ in that motherf—er.’ The F-bomb was caught on live TV.

Shaq also took a shot at himself when he promised to teach Kobe’s daughters all of their dad’s moves, but he said he will make sure to shield them from Shaq’s infamous free throw technique.

There were plenty of tearful moments during the memorial, but Shaq gave fans, friends and family what we have come to expect from The Big Fella. Michael Jordan also gave a great speech that included a well-timed joke, so the legends of the NBA did their best to make Monday a celebration of life while also mourning a terrible loss.

Also from the Kobe and Gianna Memorial:
Michael Jordan cracks hilarious ‘Crying Jordan’ meme joke
Video: Shaq drops F-bomb on live TV during Kobe Bryant memorial
Video: Watch Vanessa Bryant’s full speech about Gianna and Kobe at memorial
Vanessa Bryant says daughter Gianna would have become best player in WNBA
Diana Taurasi takes funny shot at LeBron during Kobe Bryant memorial
Geno Auriemma zings Kobe Bryant about being ‘uncoachable,’ not passing

Michael Jordan cracks hilarious ‘Crying Jordan’ meme joke

Michael Jordan crying

Monday’s memorial for Kobe and Gianna Bryant was a somber time for many and resulted in a lot of crying and sadness, even for Michael Jordan. But it also led to a hilarious joke.

MJ was the first speaker after Alicia Keys performed Beethoven’s “Moonlight Sonata” on the piano during the memorial at Staples Center in Los Angeles.

“Now he’s got me. I’ll have to look at another crying meme for the next … I told my wife I wasn’t going to do this, because I didn’t want to see this for the next 3-4 years. That is what Kobe Bryant does to me!” MJ said.

Here is video:

The “Crying Jordan” meme has its origins in Jordan crying during his 2009 Hall of Fame speech. The photo started being used as a Photoshop for moments of embarrassment, and it was widespread on the Internet around 2016 and 2017, even making a game show, though it has died down since.

MJ probably doesn’t need to worry about it now any more.

Also from the Kobe and Gianna Memorial:
Video: Shaq drops F-bomb on live TV during Kobe Bryant memorial
Video: Watch Vanessa Bryant’s full speech about Gianna and Kobe at memorial
Vanessa Bryant says daughter Gianna would have become best player in WNBA
Diana Taurasi takes funny shot at LeBron during Kobe Bryant memorial
Geno Auriemma zings Kobe Bryant about being ‘uncoachable,’ not passing

Video: Vanessa Bryant full speech about Gianna and Kobe at memorial

Vanessa Bryant speech

Vanessa Bryant was the first speaker at the memorial for her late husband Kobe and daughter, Gianna, at Staples Center on Monday in Los Angeles, and delivered incredible eulogies for them both.

Vanessa spoke for 22 minutes, first about daughter Gianna, and next about Kobe. She described each of their characters, talked about her fondest memories of them, and shared intimate details about each of them.

Here is video of her entire speech. If you haven’t seen it yet, it’s well worth your time:

Vanessa and Kobe met in 1999 when she was 17. They got married in 2001 and have been together ever since. They had four children — all daughters — Gianna being their second-oldest girl. Kobe was 41 and Gianna 13 when they died in a helicopter crash on January 26 that killed nine people.

Also from the Kobe and Gianna Memorial:
Michael Jordan cracks hilarious ‘Crying Jordan’ meme joke
Video: Shaq drops F-bomb on live TV during Kobe Bryant memorial
Video: Watch Vanessa Bryant’s full speech about Gianna and Kobe at memorial
Vanessa Bryant says daughter Gianna would have become best player in WNBA
Diana Taurasi takes funny shot at LeBron during Kobe Bryant memorial
Geno Auriemma zings Kobe Bryant about being ‘uncoachable,’ not passing

Geno Auriemma zings Kobe Bryant about being ‘uncoachable,’ not passing

Geno Auriemma smile

There were a lot of tearful moments at the memorial service for Kobe Bryant and his daughter Gianna on Monday, but UConn women’s basketball coach Geno Auriemma did his best to help keep things light.

Auriemma was one of several people who spoke at the remembrance. The 11-time national champion had a close relationship with Kobe, who made a huge impact in the women’s basketball community. During his speech, Auriemma joked about how he felt bad for Gianna when Geno learned that Kobe would be coaching Gianna’s team. Auriemma said he found it ironic when “the uncoachable one” reached out to him for advice about coaching. The UConn coach then joked that he knew Gianna wasn’t listening to her father’s advice when he saw Gianna pass the ball to one of her teammates.

One of Auriemma’s former players, Diana Taurasi, also tried to keep the mood a bit lighter by taking a funny shot at LeBron James.

Bryant was certainly known more for scoring than passing, and that is something he had no problem owning. It’s also a mentality that made him one of the greatest players of all time, so poking fun at him for being a ball hog is in many ways a compliment.

Also from the Kobe and Gianna Memorial:
Michael Jordan cracks hilarious ‘Crying Jordan’ meme joke
Video: Shaq drops F-bomb on live TV during Kobe Bryant memorial
Video: Watch Vanessa Bryant’s full speech about Gianna and Kobe at memorial
Vanessa Bryant says daughter Gianna would have become best player in WNBA
Diana Taurasi takes funny shot at LeBron during Kobe Bryant memorial
Geno Auriemma zings Kobe Bryant about being ‘uncoachable,’ not passing

Diana Taurasi takes funny shot at LeBron during Kobe Bryant memorial

Diana Taurasi brought a bit of levity to the Kobe Bryant memorial in Los Angeles on Monday with a hilarious shot at LeBron James.

Taurasi, who is a 3-time WNBA champion and the league’s all-time scoring leader, was discussing the skill level of Bryant’s daughter Gigi Bryant at a young age, remarking how amazing it was that she had a turnaround fadeaway jumper at the age of 11. Then she zeroed in on LeBron with the funniest line of the day to that point, remarking that he doesn’t even have it now.

Taurasi knew Bryant well, and he was a big fan of hers, even giving her a nickname inspired by his own. Now she even gets to take a friendly shot at LeBron in his own building at Bryant’s memorial service with a very memorable line.

Also from the Kobe and Gianna Memorial:
Michael Jordan cracks hilarious ‘Crying Jordan’ meme joke
Video: Shaq drops F-bomb on live TV during Kobe Bryant memorial
Video: Watch Vanessa Bryant’s full speech about Gianna and Kobe at memorial
Vanessa Bryant says daughter Gianna would have become best player in WNBA
Diana Taurasi takes funny shot at LeBron during Kobe Bryant memorial
Geno Auriemma zings Kobe Bryant about being ‘uncoachable,’ not passing

Vanessa Bryant says daughter Gianna would have become best player in WNBA

Vanessa Bryant delivered an emotional speech at Monday’s memorial service for her late husband Kobe and daughter Gianna, and it was particularly gut-wrenching to hear her talk about the impact Gianna would have had on women’s basketball.

Vanessa spoke about what a great athlete and better person Gianna was, and she said the 13-year-old would often give pointers to the boys basketball coach and players at her school. Vanessa said Gianna even offered to teach them the famous triangle offense.

Vanessa also spoke about how Gianna would have been the best player in the WNBA and made a huge difference for women’s basketball.

One of the most important parts of Kobe’s legacy was the impact he made in the women’s basketball community. Gianna was, by all indications, as passionate about basketball as her dad, and Vanessa’s speech was a good illustration of that. We know how highly Kobe spoke of his daughter’s basketball ability, and the inability for Gianna to fulfill her potential is one of the many reasons last month’s helicopter crash was such a horrific tragedy.

Also from the Kobe and Gianna Memorial:
Michael Jordan cracks hilarious ‘Crying Jordan’ meme joke
Video: Shaq drops F-bomb on live TV during Kobe Bryant memorial
Video: Watch Vanessa Bryant’s full speech about Gianna and Kobe at memorial
Vanessa Bryant says daughter Gianna would have become best player in WNBA
Diana Taurasi takes funny shot at LeBron during Kobe Bryant memorial
Geno Auriemma zings Kobe Bryant about being ‘uncoachable,’ not passing

Vontaze Burfict working to clean up play after being reinstated

Vontaze Burfict

Vontaze Burfict is ready to resume his NFL career if someone will give him the chance.

According to NFL Network’s Tom Pelissero, Burfict was quietly reinstated by the NFL last month after serving a season-long suspension for another helmet-to-helmet hit. The linebacker has begun working out in the hope of returning to the league in 2020.

According to Burfict’s new agent Peter Schaffer, the linebacker has begun working out at Arizona State, where Marvin Lewis, Burfict’s former coach with the Cincinnati Bengals, is on staff. Schaffer said that Burfict has spent the offseason learning about the “code of conduct” NFL players are expected to uphold and is working to clean up his play and stay within the rules going forward.

Burfict has a long history of on-field cheap shots. He hasn’t played more than 11 games in a season since 2013, at least partially because of repeated suspensions for his conduct. The breaking point was two helmet-to-helmet hits in the same game which, combined with his lengthy disciplinary record, led to Roger Goodell throwing the book at him.

Burfict didn’t seem sorry about his conduct in comments he made in November. Perhaps that’s changed. Ultimately, nobody’s going to believe that he can change his act until he actually proves he can do it. Repeated suspensions have failed to address that, so it’s reasonable to be skeptical that this one would really inspire a change in attitude. Still, Burfict is only 29, and if he can clean up his act, he could still have a steady career ahead of him.