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Monday, June 24, 2019

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Kobe Bryant issues next challenge for Giannis Antetokounmpo

Giannis Antetokounmpo

Giannis Antetokounmpo barely had finished his acceptance speech for winning this year’s NBA MVP Award when Kobe Bryant issued his next challenge to the Milwaukee Bucks star.

In 2017, Antetokounmpo won the NBA’s Most Improved Player Award. On Monday, he took home the league’s highest individual honor, beating out finalists James Harden and Paul George for MVP.

With that accomplishment achieved, Bryant said next on the list for Antetokounmpo is an NBA championship, something Bryant knows his fair share about.

Antetokounmpo stepped up and answered Bryant’s first challenge this past season, two years after it was first issued by the Mamba, who helps train Giannis.

Falling short in the Eastern Conference Finals should make the Milwaukee Bucks star even more motivated to come finish what he started. That could be a scary proposition for the rest of the NBA.

Cubs’ Willson Contreras explains confrontation with Tyler Flowers

Willson Contreras

Chicago Cubs catcher Willson Contreras explained the genesis for his confrontation with Atlanta Braves catcher Tyler Flowers during the Cubs’ 8-3 win over Atlanta on Monday night.

Benches cleared at Wrigley Field following Contreras’ solo home run off Julio Teheran to make it 1-0 in the bottom of the second.

Here’s what Contreras had done that bothered them:

Earlier in the at-bat, Contreras complained about a pitch call and said something to the umpire. After the game, Contreras told NBC Sports Chicago that he had complained about the pitch and was separately annoyed the Braves were trying to quick-pitch him, which means pitch before he had time to set up.

The home run must have felt like a measure of revenge for Contreras. He finished 2-for-4 with 3 RBIs in the game as the Cubs improved to 43-35.

Tyler Glasnow to be shut down three weeks with flexor inflammation

Tyler Glasnow

Tyler Glasnow’s absence from the Tampa Bay Rays will continue.

Glasnow has been out since May 10 after leaving a start against the Yankees due to right forearm tightness. He was originally diagnosed with a strain and expected to miss 4-6 weeks.

Glasnow began a throwing program earlier this month and had progressed to throwing bullpens, but he suffered a setback recently and underwent an MRI. The MRI revealed flexor inflammation, which has led to the young pitcher being shut down three weeks.

Glasnow’s continued absence is a major blow for the Rays. Acquired by the Rays in the Chris Archer trade, Glasnow found his top form this season and was 6-0 with an MLB-best 1.47 ERA at the time of his injury.

Report: Clippers have free agent meeting scheduled with Kawhi Leonard

Kawhi Leonard

Kawhi Leonard’s free agent decision is one of the most anticipated items of the summer around the NBA given how much he can shape the playoff picture. There has been talk that he is deciding between staying with the Toronto Raptors and leaving for the LA Clippers. It sounds as if he will be giving the Clippers a chance to present their case to him.

The Athletic’s Frank Isola reported on Monday that the Clippers have a tentative meeting scheduled with Kawhi for July 2.

Leonard is from Riverside in Southern California, which is why playing in Los Angeles appeals to him. However, he is believed to be favoring the Clippers over the Lakers between those two teams.

Despite all this talk, do not take this information to conclude Leonard is leaving Toronto. A recent report said he is giving serious consideration to returning to the Raptors.

KC radio host Kevin Kietzman faces backlash for personal criticism of Andy Reid

Andy Reid

Kansas City radio host Kevin Kietzman is facing backlash for his criticism of Chiefs head coach Andy Reid, which ventured into a personal realm.

Kietzman has been a host of “Between the Lines” on Sports Radio 810 WHB in Kansas City for over 20 years and is proud of his provocative commentary. He carried in that tradition Monday when talking about Reid.

Kietzman discussed the issues Tyreek Hill is facing and combined Hill’s disciplinary issues with the problems Reid’s sons have had. He concluded Reid has problems disciplining people. Here’s what on said on-air:

“Andy Reid does not have a great record of fixing players. He doesn’t. Discipline is not his thing. It did not work out particularly well in his family life. That needs to be added to this as we talk about the Chiefs. He’s had a lot of things go bad on him — He is not good at fixing people. He is not good at discipline. That is not his strength. His strength is designing football plays,” Kietzman said.

Kietzman’s criticism led to plenty of backlash, with much of it coming from fellow media members.

Reid and his wife had five children. His oldest son, Garrett, dealt with drug addiction and died of a heroin overdose in 2012. His son, Britt, has had drug and gun arrests.

Bringing up such personal matters in his criticism of the coach — looping it all into a bucket of discipline problems — is unfair and crosses a line. Kietzman could — and should — have limited his comments to Reid’s discipline of his players and left it at that.

The matter of Hill came up because the team reportedly is expecting a suspension from the league to be handed down to the wide receiver.

Report: Top pick Adley Rutschman gets record bonus from Orioles

Adley Rutschman

The Baltimore Orioles have handed out a record bonus to No. 1 overall pick Adley Rutschman.

The Orioles officially announced Rutschman’s signing on Monday, and according to MLB Network’s Jon Heyman, the deal is for a record $8.1 million.

Rutschman, a catcher from Oregon State, was so feared at the college level that he got the Barry Bonds treatment late in the season. The Orioles clearly feel he’s worth big money. They worked quickly to get him signed, into their system, and hopefully prepare him to become a franchise cornerstone for years to come.

Rutschman batted over .400 two seasons in a row, including .427 as a junior this season with a 1.356 OPS.

Mickey Callaway calls second press conference after not apologizing in first

New York Mets manager Mickey Callaway initially expressed very little remorse for his confrontation with a reporter on Sunday after the team announced he and reliever Jason Vargas have been fined, and the situation is now getting more embarrassing for all those involved by the minute.

On Monday, the Mets announced that Callaway and Vargas have been fined for their altercation with Newsday’s Tim Healey the day before. A press conference from Callaway followed shortly after, and the manager essentially refused to apologize.

It would be fair to assume that the Mets were not pleased with the lack of remorse Callaway showed, especially after some said they cut him a break by not suspending him. Fast-forward a couple of hours, and Callaway called another press conference in which he said he is “definitely sorry.”

Callaway’s message in the second meeting with the media seemed to be that he apologized directly to Healey, which is why he didn’t apologize again via the press. The fact that he had to hold two separate press conferences in a short span to get the apology right — at least in the eyes of his employer — is almost surreal.

Unless Callaway had some reason for ripping into Healey other than the one that has been reported, his actions seemed completely out of line. Apparently it took him two separate press conferences to realize that.

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