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#pounditSaturday, June 25, 2022

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Shaq’s son Shareef O’Neal gets workout with very fitting NBA team

Shareef O'Neal at a game

Sep 1, 2019; Los Angeles, CA, USA; UCLA Bruins Shareef O’Neal attends the BIG3 championship game at Staples Center. Mandatory Credit: Jayne Kamin-Oncea-USA TODAY Sports

Shareef O’Neal may be getting his Hollywood fairy tale.

Jovan Buha of The Athletic reported on Thursday that O’Neal, the son of retired Basketball Hall of Famer Shaquille O’Neal, has a workout scheduled this week with none other than the Los Angeles Lakers. Buha also says that O’Neal, who is eligible to be selected in this month’s NBA Draft, has already worked out for Milwaukee in addition to scheduled visits with Cleveland, Atlanta, Washington, and others.

The 22-year-old O’Neal is a 6-foot-10 forward. He was able to overcome a heart condition and played sparingly for UCLA before transferring to LSU, his father’s alma mater. O’Neal spent two years with the Tigers, averaging 2.9 points and 2.1 rebounds per game in 14 appearances last season.

The Lakers would be a very fitting landing spot for O’Neal. His father played for them from 1996 to 2004, winning three consecutive titles over that span. The elder O’Neal remains a beloved figure in the organization, having gotten his No. 34 jersey retired by the Lakers in 2013 and getting his own statue built outside of the Lakers’ home arena in 2017.

Expectations for the younger O’Neal are low given his sparse production and playing time in college. But he had a recent moment that will already forever endear him to the Lakers organization.

Tony La Russa made absolutely baffling decision against Dodgers

Tony La Russa looking on

Aug 22, 2021; St. Petersburg, Florida, USA; Chicago White Sox manager Tony La Russa (22) looks on during the sixth inning against the Tampa Bay Rays at Tropicana Field. Mandatory Credit: Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

Tony La Russa made a decision during Thursday’s game between his Chicago White Sox and the Los Angeles Dodgers that can only be described as completely baffling.

La Russa’s White Sox were trailing 7-5 in the top of the sixth inning. Freddie Freeman was on second with two outs and Trea Turner was at the plate. Reliever Bennett Sousa had a 1-2 count on Turner.

Despite his pitcher being in a favorable count, La Russa decided to … intentionally walk Turner. Yes, he did that with two outs and a 1-2 count on Turner. He made his decision to walk Turner on a 1-2 count because Freeman had just advanced to second on a wild pitch.

Even Freeman at second looked confused. So did the White Sox’s announcers.

“Can you explain that to me?” White Sox announcer Jason Benetti asked on air.

If the White Sox wanted to walk Turner to bring up Max Muncy, whom they might have felt was an easier out, that would have made some sense. But you do that at a 0-0 count, not when you have the guy 1-2. That’s what makes no sense at all. Was he just waiting for another reliever to get properly warmed up and then brought him in regardless of the count/situation?

Of course, Muncy then came up and knocked a 3-run home run to make it 10-5 Dodgers.

The whole thing makes you wonder: was La Russa even paying attention?

Draymond Green’s wife complains about Celtics fans

Draymond Green talks to reporters

Draymond Green’s wife has joined the chorus of people associated with the Golden State Warriors unhappy with how Boston Celtics fans treated players during Wednesday’s NBA Finals Game 3.

Green was the subject of profane chanting by Celtics fans during Game 3 (video here). The chants got the attention of a number of Warriors players, as well as family members sitting in the stands.

Green’s wife Hazel Renee was angry at how Celtics fans behaved, and was also critical of the NBA for failing to enforce its code of conduct. In a social media post, she complained about fans being “allowed to chant obscenities at players” without receiving any punishment, especially with kids at the game. She also added that Warriors fans “would never.”

Green’s coach and one of his teammates had a similar take on the chanting. Green, for what it’s worth, mostly shrugged it off when he was asked about it following the Warriors’ loss.

On one hand, vulgar chants like the one Celtics fans used are not necessarily something one would want their kids hearing at a game. Renee is also correct that this would theoretically violate the NBA’s fan code of conduct, though this sort of foul language rarely actually gets anyone in trouble at a game.

On the other hand, Green embraces this sort of attention. He’s a lightning rod of criticism from rival fans, and he usually relishes the villain role in opposing arenas. Green himself said he expected the reaction he got, after all.

Green isn’t even the first player in the postseason to get this sort of treatment from opposing fans. In that case, the player and his teammates actually made the most of it and basically embraced the hate. Green and the Warriors might be better off doing the same, whether that expectation is fair or not.

Report reveals Peyton Manning’s potential role with Broncos

Peyton Manning in a suit

Dec 15, 2018; Denver, CO, USA; Former Denver Broncos player Peyton Manning before the game against the Cleveland Browns at Broncos Stadium at Mile High. Mandatory Credit: Isaiah J. Downing-USA TODAY Sports

The Denver Broncos have settled their ownership situation, and that may open the door for Peyton Manning to return to the franchise in a more formal role.

According to ESPN’s Adam Schefter, the new Walton-Penner ownership group has already had exploratory talks with Manning about a potential advisory role. That role could be expanded in the future and involve Manning actually taking on a share of ownership.

Prior reports had indicated that every prospective Broncos owner had at least sounded Manning out prior to the purchase, so this is no surprise. Now that the Walton-Penner group is firmly in place, they can get more serious about trying to bring Manning into the fold.

An advisory role could be ideal in allowing Manning to continue his memorable television work while simultaneously being involved in an NFL team. That assumes ESPN would be comfortable with it, but it seems unlikely they would have a problem given how good Manning has been for the network.

Video: Draymond Green gets testy with reporter asking about his podcast

Draymond Green talks to reporters

Draymond Green got testy with a reporter after his Golden State Warriors lost Game 3 of the NBA Finals Wednesday night 116-100 to the Boston Celtics.

One media member asked Green after the game whether the Warriors forward may have been concerned about the Celtics listening to his podcast for inside information. Green seemed annoyed and insulted by the query.

“You reaching for something … reaching heavy,” he said.

Green then mocked the reporter for suggesting the Celtics could be getting any information from the Warriors forward’s show, which he has been conducting throughout the postseason.

Green knew that hosting a podcast throughout the postseason would bring him attention. He would receive positive attention after wins, but he had to know people would point to his “misplaced priorities” following losses.

The only way for Green to shut up the critics is by winning the championship. If he does that, then he will have proof that conducting his own show doesn’t prevent his team from winning a title. If his team loses, he will take all sorts of blame.

Warriors catch big issue with basket before Game 3 of Finals

A basket at TD Garden being measured

The first game in Boston of this year’s NBA Finals is already proving to be an eventful one … even well before tip-off.

Golden State Warriors announcer Tim Roye revealed before Wednesday’s Game 3 at TD Garden that some Warriors complained about the height of the basket during pregame shootaround. It turns out that they were right — the basket was not set to the proper height of ten feet.

NBC Sports Bay Area shared footage of the hoop being measured. The Warriors’ warmups were then paused while the basket was adjusted.

Were the Celtics trying to pull a fast one on the Warriors? Some theories suggested that it may have been an intentional ploy to throw off Golden State, getting them to warm up on an off-kilter hoop, only to suddenly correct the height of the basket in time for the game.

This incident also brings to mind the stories of opponents who played at Boston Garden during the playoffs in decades past. There is the famous one of Magic Johnson failing to get a shot off at the end of regulation in Game 2 of the 1984 Finals, supposedly because he couldn’t see the game clock as it was allegedly being covered by Celtics fans. Phil Jackson also once revealed some of Red Auerbach’s more infamous moments of gamesmanship, which included cranking up the heat in the visitor’s locker room to over 100 degrees and removing all of their towels.

Even in more recent years, opponents have been open about how much they hate playing in Boston. Whether Wednesday’s incident was just an innocent mistake or yet another addition to the list of the Celtics’ competitive hijinks over the years, at least the Warriors managed to catch it in time.

Broncos sell for record $4.65 billion price

John Elway looks ahead

Aug 24, 2018; Landover, MD, USA; Denver Broncos executive vice president and general manager John Elway stands on the field during warm ups prior to the Broncos’ game against the Washington Redskins at FedEx Field. Mandatory Credit: Geoff Burke-USA TODAY Sports

The Denver Broncos are no longer for sale.

The team announced on Twitter Tuesday that it has entered into a sale agreement with the Walton-Penner family ownership group.

Although an official price has yet to be revealed, Mike Klis of 9News reported Tuesday that the deal is for a U.S. sports-franchise record $4.65 billion. The Walton-Penner group’s purchase dwarfs the previous record $2.4 billion Steve Cohen paid for the New York Mets in 2020.

Walmart heir Rob Walton issued a statement on behalf of the Walton-Penner group, as did Broncos President and CEO Joe Ellis on behalf of the team.

“We are thrilled to be selected to move forward with the purchase of the Denver Broncos!” Walton said. “Thank you to Joe Ellis and the staff of the Broncos for the first-class manner in which they have conducted this sales process. When the necessary approval procedures are met, our family is excited to share more with Broncos fans, the organization and the community.”

“I have enjoyed getting to know Rob Walton, Carrie Walton Penner and Greg Penner throughout this process,” Ellis said. “Learning more about their background and vision for the Denver Broncos, I am confident that their leadership and support will help this team achieve great things on and off the field.

“While this purchase and sale agreement is pending approval from the NFL’s finance committee and league ownership, today marks a significant step on the path to an exciting new chapter in Broncos history.”

Walton, as well as family and minority partners, had been reported as a favorite to purchase the team in early May. Walton is the heir to the Walmart fortune and said to have an estimated net worth around $70 billion.

With this purchase, the Walton family owns four of Colorado’s professional sports teams. Along with the Broncos, the family owns the Colorado Avalanche, Denver Nuggets and Colorado Rapids through Stan and Ann Walton Kroenke. Ann Walton Kroenke is Rob Walton’s cousin.

Deebo Samuel makes decision on 49ers minicamp

Deebo Samuel warms up before a game

Sep 26, 2021; Santa Clara, California, USA; San Francisco 49ers wide receiver Deebo Samuel (19) warms up before the game against the Green Bay Packers at Levi’s Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Darren Yamashita-USA TODAY Sports

After a tumultuous offseason that included a trade demand, Deebo Samuel has made a significant decision on where things stand with the San Francisco 49ers.

As first reported by Ian Rapoport of NFL Network, Samuel will attend the 49ers’ mandatory minicamp despite his trade demand. Samuel would have faced discipline had he not attended, and it would have been a significant statement regarding how serious Samuel is about forcing a move.

While it’s too soon to say whether this means the worst of the drama is behind them, this is great news for the 49ers. Even if there is still tension between Samuel and the organization, this certainly suggests that things are not so toxic that there isn’t a path to fixing it.

There has not been a lot of news on where things stand between Samuel and the 49ers lately, but there had been some signs that might have had the team feeling cautiously optimistic. This is the biggest signal yet that the two sides may be able to work things out amicably.

Report reveals how much money Phil Mickelson made from LIV Golf

Phil Mickelson in golf gear

May 22, 2021; Kiawah Island, South Carolina, USA; Phil Mickelson reacts on the first green during the third round of the PGA Championship golf tournament. Mandatory Credit: David Yeazell-USA TODAY Sports

Phil Mickelson has officially joined the LIV Golf series, and he got paid a pretty penny to do so.

LIV Golf CEO Greg Norman announced Monday that Mickelson would be competing in this week’s LIV Golf Invitiational Series event at Centurion Club outside London.

Just how much money did it take to convince Lefty to join up?

Golf Channel’s Brentley Romine reported that Mickelson was paid around $200 million to join the Saudi Arabia-financed golf league.

LIV Golf has been throwing around big money to try and entice prominent figures to join. Some have taken the money, while others have declined.

Mickelson will be the biggest name at the first LIV Golf event. Sergio Garcia, Ian Poulter, Kevin Na, Lee Westwood, Louis Oosthuizen, Martin Kaymer, Charl Schwartzel, Graeme McDowell and Talor Gooch are other well-known players who will be participating in the first event of the series.

Phil Mickelson issues statement after officially joining LIV Golf

Phil Mickelson gives a thumbs up

May 23, 2021; Kiawah Island, South Carolina, USA; Phil Mickelson gives a thumbs up to the fans while walking on the 2nd hole fairway during the final round of the PGA Championship golf tournament. Mandatory Credit: David Yeazell-USA TODAY Sports

After months of flirting with the idea of leaving the PGA Tour, Phil Mickelson has made his decision official.

Mickelson is joining the LIV Golf Invitational Series, which is an 8-event series backed and organized by the Saudi Arabia Public Investment Fund. He was added to the field for the series’ first event, which begins on Thursday at the Centurion Club outside of London.

“Lefty” issued a statement on Monday to explain his reason for joining the rival series.

The PGA Tour has said they would not be giving waivers to members who want to play in the rival series. But Mickelson says he still intends to play in majors. None of the four majors are controlled by the PGA Tour.

Mickelson has not played since missing the cut at the Farmers Insurance Open in January. He drew negative attention when he acknowledged the Saudi Arabians are “scary motherf—ers.” But he decided to get involved with them because he was frustrated with the greed from the PGA Tour.

Mickelson lost endorsement deals with Amstel Light, KPMG and Workday following his comments about Saudi Arabia. His lifetime sponsor Callaway paused its relationship with him.