Nowitzki has missed all but five games this season

Dallas owner Mark Cuban (left), center Andrew Bogut (center) and injured forward Dirk Nowitzki (right) look on during the Mavericks’ loss to the Spurs. Nowitzki has missed all but five games this season.

Cuban’s goal when he made the controversial decision to strip down that title team, valuing the potential offered by cap space over the PR play of keeping an aging roster intact, was to give Nowitzki a chance to contend for championships until the end of his career. The Mavs fell well short, despite Nowitzki’s taking a steep hometown discount, which Cuban made up for with the Kobe-esque contract this summer.

Very few legends are afforded the luxury of ending their careers on contending teams. Duncan was fortunate to be on that very short list, never playing for a team that didn’t have legitimate title hopes. The Spurs exited the playoffs earlier than expected, when they lost to the Oklahoma City Thunder in the West semifinals last season, but Duncan’s final squad won 67 games. The Mavs might not win that many in two years of Nowitzki’s contract, even if he sticks around next season.

There will be no farewell tour for Nowitzki — he will make sure of that — but he appears likely to have an exit more along the lines of Bryant, who went out with a 17-win Lakers team. The Mavs are limping along at a 14-win pace, which in a twisted way is a testament to Nowitzki.
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There is plenty of proof of that. Start with the Mavs’ 15 playoff appearances, 12 50-win seasons, two Finals trips and one title during a stretch in which Nowitzki had more than twice as many All-Star selections as all his teammates put together. Nowitzki, the sixth-leading scorer in NBA history, ranks seventh in win shares, one spot behind Duncan.

Or just ask anyone with a wise basketball brain, such as Spurs coach Gregg Popovich, who gushes about Nowitzki as a “beautiful player to watch” and a “class act” with “infectious” competitiveness.
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Nothing that happens in the next year or two, or however long Nowitzki keeps playing, will diminish his legacy. Just as Duncan’s legacy didn’t take a hit when he struggled throughout the final playoff series of his career, including being rejected by Serge Ibaka on a dunk attempt that was his final shot.

“What they’ve done is iconic, unique,” Popovich said. “They deserve whatever accolades they get from whatever source. If each of them played seven more years and couldn’t do anything, they still deserve it.”

Lions ‘optimistic’ about keeping Ndamukong Suh

Detroit Lions general manager Martin Mayhew expressed optimism at the combine on Wednesday, that the team would be able to keep pending free agent Ndamukong Suh on the roster this season.

Mayhew added that a number of considerations for re-signing Suh were already in Jeremy Lane Authentic Womens Jersey place, clearing the way for a final deal. It’s still no lock, and the Lions have the option of using the franchise tag to keep Suh around for 2015, albeit at a cost of $26 million in guaranteed money. The Lions’ GM would not rule out using the tag if they can’t get a deal done ahead of the March 2 deadline to apply the tag.

Progress has been slow on a new deal for Suh, who is potentially looking at one of the richest contracts in NFL history. Most feel he’s worth it though, it’s just that trying to find space for that kind of deal is difficult in any situation. Suh doesn’t need to “test” the market to know he’s going to be the highest-paid defensive tackle in the league, after all.

“He works hard on his body and his strength,” Gruden said. “We will have some things he can work on to get better. Hiring Matt Cavanaugh as a quarterbacks coach will only help.

“It’s up to us to make sure he plays better.”

Each coach and general manager gets roughly 15 minutes to answer questions at the combine. Gruden Jermaine Kearse Authentic Womens Jersey showed up eight minutes late and breezed through his truncated session, spending roughly half the time talking about the fourth-year quarterback.

He did not address reports that surfaced late last year about Kirk Cousins wanting to be traded if Griffin was the starter. Cousins is spending time during the offseason with Jon Gruden working on his skill set and preparing for the 2015 season. Washington running back Alfred Morris is joining Cousins for the workouts with the elder Gruden in Florida.

If Brian Elliott doesn’t turn around his game, would the Calgary Flames come calling?

You can’t teach 6-foot-6. The pending unrestricted free agent would be some kind of addition for a playoff contender. The postseason becomes a grind-fest and Hanzal’s beast-like strength would be a handy addition. The Coyotes talked contract extension with him before the season, but nothing seemed to gain traction. I figure the Coyotes are wary of giving him term; they’ve got a bevy Mario Williams Authentic Womens Jersey of young forwards and don’t want to block their way long-term.

But you can’t blame Hanzal, 29, if he wants to cash in for what really will be his last chance to do so. The buyer-beware tag on the Czech is that he’s hurt a lot; he hasn’t played 70-plus games since 2009-10 (although he played 39 of 48 in 2012-13 lockout season).

My guess is the Coyotes will try to re-sign Hanzal before March 1. But if they can’t, it goes without saying the rebuilding club needs to acquire an asset or two in exchange for letting him walk. He would help any team, but boy, would he ever look good helping the Montreal Canadiens get bigger down the middle.

It was a good idea, in theory, that the Penguins would benefit from having two No. 1 goalies in this season’s compressed schedule and then wait until after the season to figure out where to send Fleury before the expansion draft while protecting Matt Murray. But I think reality is setting in. There is just not enough net to accommodate two guys who need to play a lot.

So I think the Penguins would be open to moving Fleury before March 1 if a team stepped up. And Fleury certainly controls a lot of this with a full no-movement clause, but the Penguins want to do right by him because he’s been such a classy guy for the community and organization. The question is whether Fleury would waive his no-movement clause for the purpose of the expansion draft and simply go to Vegas in June. That’s Mark Clayton Authentic Womens Jersey possible. But I have to think he’d rather get this over with sooner and find a new home before March 1.

If Brian Elliott (unrestricted free agent on July 1) doesn’t turn around his game, would the Calgary Flames come calling? Or the Dallas Stars? Fleury’s contract has two more years left after this season at a $5.75 million cap hit, which is a nice bargain for a guy with two Cup rings and who remains one of the league’s elite netminders. If you’re a team needing a goalie upgrade, wake up and call Pittsburgh. You’re not only getting an elite goalie, but an even greater person in the dressing room.

Two years later, he was traded to Detroit for Doug Fister

Two years later, he was traded to Detroit for Doug Fister, a move that was (from the Tigers’ perspective) universally panned. Ray was “a solid, if unspectacular, prospect who most likely profiles best as a back-end starter in a big league rotation,” according to Baseball Prospectus. He worked in the low 90s, with a curveball and a changeup that were still works in progress.

The Tigers GM at the time, Dave Dombrowski, was Tre Boston Authentic Jersey considerably higher on him, calling him, “a guy that we think is a No. 1 left-hander.” A few months later, Dombrowski said Ray projects to be “at least” a No. 3 starter. But a year later, after a lackluster Triple-A season and a disastrous first showing in the majors, Ray was traded again, this time to the Diamondbacks.

roommate Ted Gray in 1953. Gray was friends with Giants reserve outfielder Earl Rapp and was told the story. Branca said Thomson knew what was coming on October 3, 1951, and while he still had to hit it, the information was certainly useful.

“I begrudge the Giants the 1951 pennant,” Branca said emphatically in the 2008 interview. “They deprived our owner of money he deserved, they deprived our fans of the joy of a pennant winner, and they deprived my teammates and me of the fame and glory that comes from playing in the World Series. What the Giants did was despicable. It involved an electronic buzzer. No one else used that. Sometimes you could see people in the center-field scoreboard in Chicago or wherever using towels to give signals and you could do something about it. The buzzer was undetectable, and it was wrong.”

Branca hurt his back in 1952, and then his arm, and Vernon Butler Authentic Jersey would win just 12 more games in the majors, finishing with a career record of 88-68. Branca said his relationship with Thomson became strained after Prager’s story — and subsequent book, “The Echoing Green” — was published. Did Thomson know what was coming? While he admitted to the Giants’ pitch-stealing scheme, he told Prager he didn’t know what pitch Branca was going Wes Horton Authentic Jersey to throw on Oct. 3, 1951.

Tale of the tape: Jameis Winston vs. Marcus Mariota

The top two picks in the 2015 NFL draft, Jameis Winston and Marcus Mariota, have their teams in the playoff hunt, albeit in different fashion.

Bucs QB Jameis Winston A. J. Cann Authentic Jersey backed up his moving words to his teammates with a performance to write home about against the Chiefs.

Jameis Winston was more than 1,000 miles from Tallahassee, but on Sunday, Arrowhead Stadium might as well have been Doak Campbell Stadium for the former FSU quarterback.
In the 2015 draft, Winston was picked first and Mariota was picked second. Winston had the better rookie season. Mariota struggled through injuries and growing pains in Year 1, while Winston had a 4,000-yard passing season. Mariota’s one claim over Winston was a 42-14 Tennessee Titans win against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in their NFL debuts in which the Titans QB had four touchdown passes and no interceptions.

As mentioned by John Clayton when he polled executives about the two QBs, Mariota has excelled Aaron Colvin Authentic Jersey in the red zone throughout his career.

This can best be exemplified by the fact that Mariota has 31 passing touchdowns and no interceptions in the red zone in his career. He’s completed 64.7 percent of his passes in the red zone and taken just two sacks on 90 red zone dropbacks. Mariota’s red zone Total QBR is 88.5 for his career, including a league-leading 98.2 this season.

Winston has shown improvement in the red zone, completing 52.3 percent of his passes this season after completing 41.7 percent last year, which ranked second-worst in the league. Despite the lower completion percentage, Winston has still thrown 29 red zone touchdown passes compared with just one interception. And not surprisingly, all seven of his rushing touchdowns have come from inside the red zone.

While it may seem obvious that both quarterbacks have performed better in wins than in losses, Mariota takes it to the extreme. In Mariota’s eight wins as a starting QB, his Total QBR is 87.2, the highest among qualified QBs in that span. In his 15 losses, it’s 40.1, which ranks fifth-worst. That is the highest variance in QBR over the past two seasons among QBs with at least 10 starts.

David Blaine spitting out live frogs made Stephen Curry and Dave Chappelle lose their damn minds

In David Blaine’s latest special Beyond Magic, there’s a segment dedicated to a new trick he’s been doing — he asks an audience member to draw a small animal that can fit in the palm of their hand, and then he spits said animal into a glass of water. Blaine performed this at Drake’s party with Stephen Curry, Jimmy Butler, and Dave Chappelle in attendance. Of course, everyone freaked the hell out, except for Blaine, because nothing ever fazes that man.

The frog trick is likely based on an earlier trick he did in his 2013 Barry Larkin Authentic Womens Jersey special Real or Magic. He spent years trying to figure out how to become a human water spout like Hadji Ali, and he finally learned how from an actual human water spout in Liberia, who was unaware of the trick and only did it because clean water is scarce where he’s from. Blaine would later switch out water for kerosene in the trick, giving him the ability to spit fire, because David Blaine apparently loves putting himself in greater danger.

“No, no truth to that,” Fizdale said Wednesday via The Commercial-Appeal. “Our decision as to what hotels we stay in are made long before any of this election stuff took place.

“There’s no story here.”

Meanwhile, seven other unnamed teams told ESPN.com they are “currently scheduled” to Billy Hamilton Authentic Womens Jersey stay at Trump properties this year. It is unclear if their stance will change as the season progresses.

Several other teams told ESPN.com they have never stayed at Trump properties, while a few others that have stayed at the Trump SoHo in the past said they are not staying there this season, declining use political opinions to validate the change.

A travel expert told ESPN the Trump SoHo has become one of the NBA’s most popular hotels for visiting teams on two-game trips since the Nets moved to Brooklyn for the 2012-13 season.

Detroit’s Stan Van Gundy was the first NBA head coach to express his concern with the country’s decision to elect “an openly and brazenly racist and misogynistic and ethnocentric.” San Antonio’s Gregg Popovich and Golden State’s Steve Kerr followed suit.

Moses Malone and Adrian Dantley were all virtually given away as part of the ill-fated sale of the club

Bonus points for you if you remember than Donyell Marshall hit 12 triples for Toronto to equal the Mamba’s record in a March 2005 game.

Regular readers well-acquainted by now with our Buffalo Braves obsession have presumably done the math and quickly deduced how excited we must have been here at Stein Line HQ for our first chat with Mr. Archibald.

Kovalev, 33, struggling to make ends meet T. J. Jones Authentic Womens Jersey in Russia, had not thought about turning pro but he had nothing to lose. He made the trip, they talked and he signed. Soon after, Kovalev came to the U.S. to turn pro and Klimas sent him to the North Carolina training camp of renowned trainer Don Turner, who had struck up a friendship with Klimas and took him under his wing. Turner was quickly impressed by the fighter’s raw talent but when Klimas signed Kovalev he pulled no punches.

Manager Egis Klimas, left, took a major chance financially on Sergey Kovalev in a move that wound up changing the careers and lives of both. John Gurzinski/AFP/Getty Images
“I was very honest with him,” Klimas said. “[I said], ‘I’m not going to make you money, promoter not going to make you money. You can make it to the top if you can get American audience, if people will like you, if people going to buy tickets to your fights, if TV will buy your fights. Then you are going to have success. Otherwise, forget about it and go do what you do. And he says, ‘Let’s try it.'”

Kovalev, naturally, asked Klimas how much he would be paid for his fights.

“He said, ‘Nothing. I’m ready to pay for food, for training camp, buy you some Tahir Whitehead Authentic Womens Jersey boxing stuff, try to help you find a promoter who will pay money when you fight,'” said Kovalev, who has grown very close to Klimas in their years together.

Kovalev was OK with the arrangement but had one concern: What if things weren’t working out and he wanted to quit boxing? How would he repay Klimas for investing in him?

Jerian Grant scored 18 points while substituting for the injured Rajon Rondo at point guard.

“I think it was our most complete game that we played [this year],” Hoiberg said.

The Bulls played with a togetherness that was rarely seen last season. They were getting contributions up and down the roster. While Butler’s sterling line of 27 points, 12 rebounds and five assists will get all the deserved praise, it was Jerian Grant’s performance — 18 points, five steals, three rebounds and two assists — that will be the bigger takeaway on this night. Grant, who was inactive for the first three games of the season, took his opportunity with Rondo out and ran with it.

“It’s great playing with those guys,” Grant said of Authentic Wayne Chrebet Jersey playing with Butler and Dwyane Wade. “They give me a lot of confidence. When I was named the starter they came to me, sat me down and said, ‘You’re the point guard so let’s go.’ And that gave me a lot of confidence to just go Authentic Wesley Walker Jersey out there and play my game.”

Why, James was left to wonder, did Jackson choose to aim at him of all people? Were the four MVPs and three championships and two gold medals and six straight trips to the Finals not enough to prove his place in the game? Was the record revenue not a testament to the NBA’s growing success ever since James has been the face of the league? Was his dedicated family life and social consciousness just not palatable? What happened to game respects game?

“I’m smart and I want respect!” James exclaimed, slapping his hand against the polished wood that lines his locker, breaking out the infamous Fredo Corleone line from “The Godfather: Part II,” a film series James has seen too many times to count.

James laughed at himself for playing the victim card, ever so briefly. He knows what matters and what doesn’t at this point of his career, at this point of his life as a 31-year-old father of three.

He might not seek out special treatment, but it comes to him just the same. James put up 28 points, 14 assists and 9 rebounds against the Raptors to come up just shy of his 45th career triple-double, according to ESPN Stats & Information research. And the Holy Father of the Triple-Double himself, Oscar Robertson, was sitting courtside next to the Cavs’ bench.

“LeBron is going to be a great player [historically],” Robertson told ESPN.com. “He may be No. 1, maybe No. 2, but the game is going to slow down for him. When he’s out here, it’s a different game. No doubt about it. You can tell it. When he’s out (on the bench), they don’t play the same. They don’t play the same.”

Said James: “It’s a humbling feeling to know that a guy like that takes time out of his schedule, takes time out of his day, to come watch me, watch our team play the game that we love.”

Bears guard Kyle Long placed on IR with right ankle injury

Chicago Bears Pro Bowl guard Kyle Long was placed on injured reserve on Tuesday with a right ankle injury, the team announced.

Long was injured on a second-and-goal play from the 7-yard line when quarterback Jay Cutler pitched the ball to fullback Paul Lasike, who ran up Patrick DiMarco Authentic Womens Jersey the middle for a short 3-yard gain, in Chicago’s 36-10 loss to Tampa Bay last Sunday.

1. Louisville Loss: Oct. 1 at No. 5 Clemson, 42-36

Perhaps the biggest advantage that the College Football Playoff selection committee holds over the analytics of the BCS era is the gift of Paul Worrilow Authentic Womens Jersey context. Real humans who watched games and closely follow the season understand what a game really was at the time it was played. No game this season has been played with more hype or pressure or within a more insane atmosphere than Lamar Jackson’s visit to Death Valley in Week 5. That committee also knows that the Cardinals came within a few yards of being in position to tie the score or win the game via a PAT in the closing ticks. No other team on this list suffered a loss to a ranked team on the road, let alone came within a couple of plays of defeating a top-five team in one of the game’s most vicious stadiums.

2. Ohio State Loss: Oct. 22 at unranked Penn State, 24-21

In the playoff era, your enemies are also your friends. The Buckeyes legitimized Penn State’s rebound season and have continually benefited from doing so as the Nittany Lions have climbed the charts in the weeks since, reaching the AP top 10 on Sunday afternoon … though now OSU needs PSU to lose one more so the Buckeyes can make a Big Ten title run. Again, context matters, and anyone who watched Ohio State’s emotional slobberknocker of an OT win at Wisconsin the week before knows the Buckeyes were the walking wounded when they arrived at Happy Valley yet still carried a lead into the final five minutes of the game.

3. West Virginia Loss: Oct 29 at unranked Oklahoma State, 37-20

The committee is clearly not impressed with the Mountaineers or the Big 12 overall, but a visit to Stillwater is never easy and hindsight tells us this victory is now part of a six-game winning streak for the Cowboys, during which they have rocketed from unranked to 13th in the AP poll. The final score is also not indicative of a game in which WVU trailed by only one TD with less than nine minutes remaining, though its offense was exposed with an untimely clunkiness.

This is obviously the most difficult time of Romo’s career. The better Prescott played each week, the more Romo has waged a battle with his own ego.

He’s also fought envy, jealousy, and maybe even doubt. Thus far, he has won every battle.

Doing so will make the Cowboys a better team. And it’ll make Romo a better man when he starts one day for some other team.

Giants, Cubs, Rangers had the Golden touch defensively in 2016

The San Francisco Giants, Chicago Cubs and Texas Rangers were among the big winners at this year’s Gold Glove Awards.

Those three teams were the only ones to have multiple Gold Glove winners. The Giants led with three. The Cubs and Rangers each had two.

This is the first time the Giants had three winners since the 1994 season. The double-play combo of shortstop Brandon Crawford and Joe Panik became the fourth such tandem in National League history to win. They’re the first since Edgar Renteria and Angel Pagan Jersey Fernando Vina won for the Cardinals in 2002.

Washington has one win over a Top 25 team: No. 15 Utah. That victory came on the road. According to ESPN’s FPI strength of schedule rankings, the Huskies have the fourth-easiest schedule of any Power 5 team to date.

There is also a common opponent between the two teams: Rutgers. The Huskies beat Rutgers 48-13 at home in the season opener. Ohio State beat the Scarlet Knights 58-0 at home on Oct. 1.

Sure, there is the pesky matter of the Buckeyes’ having a loss, while Washington does not. But Ohio State’s lone defeat is, in hindsight, understandable. It came on the road to the team (Penn State) currently ranked tenth. Also, the committee members showed last week, when they ranked one-loss Texas A&M ahead of Washington, that they’re more interested in whom you beat and whom you played than whether you’re unbeaten.

The Huskies can boost their strength of schedule in the near future, with games against No. 20 USC and No. 23 Washington State. But the rankings are supposed to be about what you’ve done so far, and Ohio State simply has done more.

Here’s the thing: It doesn’t really matter. If Ohio State wins out, including a win over Michigan on Nov. 26, it gets in. No questions asked.

If the Buckeyes lose to Michigan, they will Barry Bonds Jersey have very little chance of making the playoff, with two losses and no division championship. The Big Ten’s only chance of getting two teams in, most likely, would be if Michigan finishes 11-1 with its only loss coming in a competitive road contest at Ohio State. In that case, Jim Harbaugh’s team could have an argument. A lot of things would have to break just right, such as a Washington loss or perhaps an upset in the ACC title game. No. 12 Colorado winning the Pac-12 title game would help, as Michigan beat the Buffaloes in September.