BY KEVIN O'CONNOR
May 19, 2017
Five takeaways from the All-NBA team announcement:
What does this mean for the future of Gordon Hayward and Paul George in Utah and Indiana, respectively? What does this mean for James Harden’s MVP campaign? Who the hell voted LeBron onto the second team?!
Money, it’s a gas — and the NBA hopes it will keep superstars home, dissuading them from bouncing in free agency and forming superteams. The designated player extension was created to enable certain players to sign five-year contracts worth 35 percent of the cap. This summer, the supermax figure is worth roughly $207 million over five years. One of the prerequisites for that special designation is being named to one of the three All-NBA teams in the season preceding the extension, meaning Thursday afternoon’s All-NBA reveal has significant implications for the league.
Here are the three teams:
All eyes were on Gordon Hayward and Paul George, both of whom will hit free agency over the next two summers. You’ll notice they’ve been omitted. So what does that mean? Here are five takeaways from the All-NBA rosters:
BY JOHN ROHDE
May 16, 2017
When diminutive Oklahoma running back Quentin Griffin was selected in the fourth round of the 2003 NFL Draft, he left as the school's fourth-leading rusher with 3,938 career yards. Griffin only trailed two Heisman Trophy winners in Billy Sims (4,118) at No. 1 and Steve Owens (4,041) at No. 3, plus silver-shoed great Joe Washington (4,071) at No. 2.
A chance to play in the NFL put Griffin's academic progress on hold. In his second season with the Denver Broncos, the 5-foot-7, 190-pound Griffin set a franchise record for most rushing yards in a season opener with a career-high 156 on 23 carries against the Kansas City Chiefs. A budding NFL career abruptly was cut short when Griffin tore the anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) in his right knee in Week 7. He would never play another regular-season game again for the Broncos.
In 2005, Griffin had dropped to No. 4 on Denver's depth chart and was released. He was brought back a few weeks later, then released again. In 2006, Griffin was signed by the Chiefs and later cut. In 2007, the Hamburg Sea Devils made Griffin the second overall pick in the NFL Europa Free Agent Draft. In 2008, he signed the Saskatchewan Roughriders of the CFL and was cut after the team's final preseason game. In July 2013, Griffin signed with the Kiel Baltic Hurricanes in Germany (GFL1).
When Griffin's football odyssey finally came to an end, a daunting task awaited if he was going to finish what he started academically at OU.
When he left the Sooners, Griffin was 33 credit hours short of earning his undergraduate degree. "My mother, she planted the seed (to graduate) and kept watering it," Griffin said with a smile. "It was in the back of my mind, but once I got it to the front of my mind, that's the push I needed."
BY SCOTT DAVIS
May 15, 2017
San Antonio Spurs head coach Gregg Popovich ripped Golden State Warriors center Zaza Pachulia on Monday for a controversial foul that injured Kawhi Leonard in Game 1 of the Western Conference Finals.
During the third quarter, Pachulia closed out on a Leonard shot attempt and appeared to put his foot under Leonard after the shot.
Leonard, whose injured ankle kept him out of Game 6 and part of Game 5 of the Spurs' second-round series against the Houston Rockets, landed on Pachulia's foot and had to leave the game. The Warriors went on an 18-0 run, erasing most of a 23-point Spurs lead. The Warriors won the game 113-111, outscoring the Spurs by 25 points without Leonard for most of the second half.
While it was unclear whether Pachulia's foot placement was intentional, Popovich said it was "a totally unnatural close-out" and listed past incidents he considers dirty plays by Pachulia:
"A two-step, lead-with-your-foot close-out is not appropriate. It's dangerous. It's unsportsmanlike. It's just not what anybody does to anybody else.
"And this particular individual has a history with that kind of action. You can go back and look at Dallas games where he got a flagrant two for elbowing Patty Mills. The play where he took Kawhi down and locked his arm in Dallas and could have broken his arm. Ask David West, his current teammate, how things went when Zaza was playing for Dallas and he and David got into it.
"And then think about the history he's had and what that means to a team, what happened last night: a totally unnatural closeout that the league has outlawed years ago and pays great attention to it."
Popovich then angrily broke down how Leonard's injury could affect the Spurs' title chances:
"You wanna know if that lessens our chances or not? We're playing very possibly the best team in the league. We don't know what's gonna happen in the East. And 9.75 people out of 10 would figure the Warriors would beat the Spurs.
"Well, we've had a pretty damn good season. We've played fairly well in the playoffs. I think we're getting better. We're up 23 points in the third quarter against Golden State, and Kawhi goes down like that. And you wanna know if our chances are less? And you wanna know how we feel? That's how we feel."
At the time of Popovich's media availability, Leonard was getting an MRI. Popovich said the Spurs expected Leonard to miss Game 2.
As many people pointed out, Pachulia's so-called foot trick has been around the NBA for years. Former Spurs wing Bruce Bowen was perhaps the player most known to slide his foot under jump shooters, risking potential injury. The Spurs retired Bowen's number, leading some to say Popovich's rant was hypocritical.
After Game 1, Leonard said he didn't think Pachulia was trying to intentionally hurt him. Pachulia also defended himself, saying big men often get called for many unintentional fouls.
Popovich, however, brushed that aside.
"I don't give a damn about intent," he said. "You still go to jail for manslaughter."
BY MIKE LOPRESTI
May 15, 2017
Start with the 41-4 record. Doesn’t that tell us all we need to know about the No. 1 ranked Oregon State team that is so clearly at the top of the baseball heap as the NCAA Tournament nears?
Well, no. Lots of other things to mention, if we are to be up to date in our Beaver-ology. Here are 19 of them:
1. Oregon State is 10-0 against teams in the top 50 of the current RPI.
2. Junior Luke Heimlich leads the nation in earned run average with a nice, tidy 0.76. Actually, he should be a sophomore. He graduated from high school a year early and took the fast lane to Corvallis, Oregon.
3. Heimlich and fellow pitcher Jake Thompson have combined to start 26 games. They have allowed 19 earned runs between them, and 109 hits. Plus 19 wins and one loss.
4. Thompson has an earned run average of 1.11, third in the nation as of Monday, and a lot lower than his 3.6 grade point average in economics.
5. Second baseman Nick Madrigal has been the catalyst on offense, hitting .389 at the top of the lineup. The 5-7 sophomore has been around the game for a long time. When he and his twin brother were born, their father put baseballs in their cribs at the hospital.
6. The current Pac-12 membership has won 28 national championships. Next best is the SEC at 11. So it takes heavy lifting to win the league, but the Beavers just clinched the conference, and lead by light years. Actually, seven games through Sunday. They are 24-3 against Pac-12 teams by a combined score of 152-73.
7. Oregon State has been to five College World Series. The Beavers’ first was 1952. They had to wait 53 years for the next one, but have been four times since 2005 — which says something about Pat Casey’s coaching era.
BY CHRIS HUMMER
May 9, 2017
College football's early signing period, which was officially approved Monday, is expected to occur on the third Wednesday of each December to align with the mid-year junior college transfer window, according to Susan Peal, Director of Governance for the National Letter of Intent program.
"It is anticipated that the football early signing period will align with the football mid-year (junior college) transfer signing period each year," Peal wrote 247Sports in an email. "So that would start the third Wednesday of December."
The 72-hour early signing period for high school seniors will start Dec. 20, 2017.
This early signing period is in addition to college football's standard National Signing Day, which occurs the first Wednesday of February each year. In essence, college football now has two National Signing Days with recruits having the option to sign in December or February.
The early signing period is one of a number of prominent pieces of legislation the Division I Council approved earlier this year. Others included a 10th full-time assistant, a change in the official visit schedule with an additional window from April to June, which goes into effect April 1, 2018, and changes to the way off-season recruiting-related camps are conducted.
BY JOHN ROHDE
May 10, 2017
In 2014, Renae Martinez was a redshirt freshman catcher for UC Irvine, which ended its season playing at the College World Series in Omaha.
Three months later, Martinez had relocated to the not-so-friendly confines of El Camino College just west of Compton, Calif.
Could there possibly be a more precipitous drop in collegiate baseball status than going from TD Ameritrade Park in Omaha to Warriors Field at a community college located on Crenshaw Boulevard?
Choosing to make the 35-mile transfer from UC Irvine to El Camino was anything but easy. “It was a tough decision to make,” Martinez explained. “I loved Irvine, but I lacked opportunity.”
Martinez could have remained with the Anteaters, who stunned top-seeded Oregon State to advance from the NCAA Corvallis Regional, then swept No. 4-seeded Oklahoma State in the Stillwater Super Regional to advance to the 2014 CWS, where they defeated No. 6-seeded Texas in the first round before getting eliminated after falling to No. 5-seeded Vanderbilt and in a rematch against Texas.
At UC Irvine, Martinez was a backup to redshirt junior catcher Jerry McClanahan, a second-team All-Big West Conference selection who hit .304 in 65 games. McClanahan was expected to leave college after getting selected in the 2014 amateur baseball draft, but instead he returned for his senior season and was drafted in the 19th round by the Baltimore Orioles in 2015.
Martinez played in just 23 games (five starts), had 33 at-bats and hit .152 in 2014. When it became known McClanahan would return for his senior season, Martinez approached his UC Irvine coaches, who informed him the 2015 season would pretty much play out in the same manner with limited playing time as a backup.
Martinez chose El Camino because it was close to his hometown of San Pedro, where he was named the Marine League's Most Outstanding Player and also earned First Team All-CIF and all-city honors in high school.
Though he knew nothing of El Camino College itself, Martinez was no stranger to the area. He grew up playing baseball at the Urban Youth Academy in neighboring Compton and knew several coaches there. “They've always given me a place to play,” Martinez said of the academy. “They're really special people who go out of their way to help kids get to the next level.”
Martinez indeed returned to the next level after one season at El Camino and transferred to Oklahoma in hopes of someday reaching the sport's pinnacle again.