Brock Lesnar, LeBron James, Tiger Woods and Friday's Sports News
Brock Lesnar is facing some very serious choices if he wants to get his life back in order—much less his career.
It was announced late Thursday afternoon that his case of diverticulitis, the disease which kept him out of action for a year, has flared up again.
Lesnar insists that this will not be the end of his UFC career, but admits that things don't look promising at present. He hasn't yet decided on having surgery, but if he does, he'll be out of action for a minimum of 12 months.
Speaking of injuries, if much less significant, Tiger Woods had to pull out of the Players Championship after nine holes yesterday, due to the stress fracture in his knee. Some people are criticizing Woods for "quitting," but that's really not fair.
This puts a damper on any hopes that Woods had of winning a major this year, because he won't be able to practice his swing or really do anything golf-related until the injury heals itself.
LeBron James is still riding high after Miami's emotional win over the Boston Celtics. What's more, James and co. now know who their opponents are, in the game to earn the right to compete for an NBA championship.
That is, the Chicago Bulls.
The Bulls swept the season series against the Heat, but James appears to be on a mission at the moment, and no one can stop him.
We will have the latest news, notes and information from the wide world of sports on this very scary Friday the 13th.
NBA Playoffs 2011 Will See Derrick Rose Take Bulls Back To NBA Finals
Derrick Rose won the MVP award this season because of his ability to pass the ball and his much-improved jump shot, which led to the Bulls having the best record in the Eastern Conference for the first time since 1998.
But in these playoffs, Rose has looked like he wants to do too much. He has been throwing up a bunch of ugly shots that didn’t fall, and he wasn’t getting his teammates involved in the offense as much as he did in the regular season.
Before game 6 against Atlanta on Thursday, Rose said that game was the most important game of their lives. In a game of that magnitude Rose delivered the performance that we have been expecting from him in these playoffs.
Rose finished the game with 19 points on 8-for-14 shooting and 12 assists. He was able to create his shot when he had to, and when he wanted to get his teammates involved he was able to do that. Carlos Boozer had a good game with 23 points. Luol Deng, Joakim Noah and Taj Gibson also delivered double-digit scoring efforts,
But the story of the game was Rose, who made this team look like a team that is capable of winning an NBA Championship.
This will be a hard fought series between two terrific teams, but Rose and the Bulls know how to beat Miami – they swept the season series against them. The games were all close, too, so the idea that the Bulls will feel more pressure at the end of games won’t really apply in this case.
The Bulls have had something special brewing all season long and this series against Miami is the final piece in the Eastern Conference puzzle for them. They will take the series in seven games.
Aaron Douglas Death Shocks Entire Alabama Program
Aaron Douglas, a football player at the University of Alabama, was found dead early Thursday morning in Florida. The 21-year-old was an all-American two years ago at the University of Tennesse before transferring to Alabama in January.
It's believed that Douglas was attending a party the night of his death. His death has certainly affected a number of people.
Here's what Alabama head coach Nick Saban had to say (via ESPN.com):
"It is a tragedy anytime you lose someone close to you and even more so when it is a member of your family," Alabama coach Nick Saban said in a statement released by the university. "Aaron was a part of our family and always will be a part of our family at Alabama."
Lane Kiffin, Douglas' coach when he was at Tennessee, also issued a statement (via ESPN.com):
"It is a tragedy. I heard the news this morning," Kiffin said. "He was a great kid with a huge heart. He will be truly missed by many."
Reportedly, Douglas was struggling with a lot of problems following his transfer from Tennessee. He didn't respond well to the criticism and harsh things that were said about him after he left the Volunteers in 2009.
The cause of death is unknown at this time.
Michael Vick Chosen As Commencement Speaker For Local Philly School
Michael Vick has had quite the career renaissance. It started with him signing a two-year contract with the Philadelphia Eagles in 2009. He became the starting quarterback in 2010 after Donovan McNabb was traded and Kevin Kolb got hurt and made the pro bowl. He was a finalist to be on the cover of the Madden 12 video game.
Now, Vick has been chosen by students at a local Philadelphia school that helps at-risk youths who face emotional and behavioral issues.
"Based on Vick’s recent story of making a mistake, hitting rock bottom and having the courage to pick himself back up and work through difficult period of life, that was something we felt was very relevant to the student population and their story," said Milton Alexander, vice president of operations at Camelot. "It will be something they will remember for the rest of their lives."
Vick is still a pariah in the eyes of some people, and there is nothing that he can do to change that. But at least he is putting himself out there. He has been very open in talking about the problems that he has dealt with, and he seems like changed man.
He has done a lot of work with former NFL head coach Tony Dungy to try and repair his image, including visiting a prison in Texas and speaking to inmates about his life and problems.
This commencement speech will be the best moment that a lot of these young people have in their lives, and Vick will no doubt take this honor very seriously when he steps up to the podium to speak to each and every one of them.
Bryce Harper Looks Great In Single-A, But He Isn't Even The Best Prospect In Baseball Right Now
Two years ago, Bryce Harper was introduced to baseball fans everywhere with a cover story in Sports Illustrated in which he was proclaimed "Baseball's LeBron." There is no denying that Harper is a phenom, much like LeBron James was when he entered the NBA out of high school, and, at just 18 years of age, he is putting up fantastic numbers at low-A Harrisburg - .396/.472/.712.
But does this make him the best prospect EVER?
From Dave Cameron (via Fangraphs.com):
Instead of going to prom, Harper is putting himself in the conversation for best prospect in recent history. He can’t keep this pace up, but he doesn’t have to – even with some significant regression in his numbers, this is still going to go down as one of the best age-18 seasons we’ve ever seen. Harper is proving that he is worth every bit of the hype he’s ever received.
Harper wasn't even the consensus top prospect coming into the 2011 season - Mike Trout of the Angels had a lot of support from analysts like ESPN's Keith Law - and it seems silly to make such a bold statement after only 111 at-bats. (To be fair, Cameron does point out the small sample size in his article.)
There is a lot to like with Harper, his power his off the charts and he is a terrific athlete, and he may very well turn into one of the best baseball players of all-time. But you can't truly judge someone after only 111 at-bats in low-A, no matter how good they have been.
Kobe Bryant Will Have To Work With A New Head Coach For The First Time In Five Years
Kobe Bryant has been in the NBA for 14 years. In that time he has won an MVP award, six NBA Championships, been named to 13 straight all-star games and a nine-time first-team all-NBA selection. He has only won championships under one head coach, though: Phil Jackson.
Can Kobe Bryant win a championship with another coach?
It's unfair to judge Bryant the last time he played for a coach other than Jackson, which was in 2004-05, because the team was rebuilding and in no position to contend in the Western Conference.
But you can't dismiss the impact that Jackson has had on Bryant's career. Their history has been very well documented, and even though they didn't always see eye to eye there is a deep level of respect between the two men.
Rumors have the Lakers interested in Rick Adelman because his coaching style is so similar to Jackson. But, and I know this is the most obvious statement ever made, he is not, in fact, Phil Jackson.
Bryant will be fine under a new coach, learning the new system, but there is something about the way Jackson was able to manage him that made their dynamic so unique.
Whoever the Lakers hire to be their next head coach - Bryant has publicly endorsed Lakers assistant Brian Shaw - they have to know how to coach Bryant, because this team is going to go as far as he is able to take them.
Animal Kingdom Has The Resolve To Win The Preakness Stakes
The Preakness Stakes, the second leg of the horse racing triple crown, will take place next Saturday at Pimlico race track in Baltimore. Animal Kingdom, the 20-1 underdog who had never run a race on dirt prior to the Kentucky Derby last week, will try to capture the second leg of the triple crown.
With the field being this wide open, Animal Kingdom has a good a shot as any horse to win this race.
Here is how SI.com horse racing expert Tim Layden categorizes the horse's chances to win this race:
Animal Kingdom's victory (at the Derby) was what handicappers call "visually impressive." That means he looked good doing it, finished while still running fast and left most of the field far behind. Does that mean he can win the Preakness and possibly end the 32-year Triple Crown drought? My answer is maybe. Too soon to say yes, but unlike Mine That Bird and Super Saver, too soon to say no.
While that may seem like a copout answer, it's the best answer. Animal Kingdom will be the favorite heading into the race just because of his win at the Derby. But that doesn't mean that he has suddenly become a dominant racing horse.
The Preakness is a faster race than the Derby, the surface usually allows the horses to get more momentum going and as a result speed is a factor. Animal Kingdom showed speed at the Derby, but will he be able to do it again at the Preakness?
I would like to see Animal Kingdom win the Preakness just because it would be great to see a horse enter the Belmont Stakes with a chance to win the triple crown, but I don't see it happening. Everything went right for him at the Derby, making it less likely that it will happen again.
Phil Mickelson Makes A Move On Friday At The Players Championship
Phil Mickelson started The Players Championship is less than dramatic fashion by shooting a 1-under par 71 on Thursday and tied for 44th place. He was good but inconsistent with his shot. He had four birdies, but he also had two bogies and one double-bogey that derailed his round.
Things have gone a bit better for lefty in the second round. He still hasn't found a consistent swing, but he hasn't had a crippling double-bogey in this either. As things stand right now, he is at 2-under par for the day and 3-under for the tournament. He is tied for 23rd place with seven other players.
Mickelson has had a good year so far, with one win and four top-10 finishes in 10 events played. But he continues to make mind-boggling decisions with his driver that cost him strokes.
If he can put away his pride and stop trying to out drive everyone on tour, he could have a couple more wins this year. Just last week at the Wells Fargo Championship, he was in good shape until he fired a 74 on Saturday derailed him and he finished ninth in that tournament.
David Toms is leading The Players Championship right now at 10-under par. Assuming that things stay as they are right now, Mickelson will have to make up a lot of ground.
The good news for him is that there are some low scores to be had out there. The bad news is he isn't taking advantage of them right now, and he continues to looking way up at the leader.
If the driver doesn't work for Mickelson, he better make sure that his putter doesn't let him down on Saturday and Sunday if he wants to win The Players Championship.
Brock Lesnar's Diverticulitis Will Change The Way That He Lives His Life
Brock Lesnar was in the midst of the most important year of his mixed martial arts career before diverticulitis took its toll on him again. This was the year where he would get things back on track following his loss to Cain Velasquez at UFC 121 where he was completely destroyed in four minutes.
Now, Lesnar is left with a lot of questions about his life and career and not a lot of answers right now. Obviously the most important thing is him getting healthy to live a normal life and take care of his family.
But what about Lesnar’s career? Does he have enough time to comeback from this illness again AND fight against top level competition?
Lesnar has the option of having surgery or trying to let this situation work itself out. If he has the surgery, he will miss 12 months minimum.
Lesnar turns 34 this year in July, which would make him 35 or close to it by the time he is able to comeback. Following that long of a layoff, there is no way that he will be back to fighting the way that he is accustomed to right away.
Plus, unless you are Randy Couture, a fighter’s decline period usually begins in their mid-30’s. Lesnar may be able to come back and compete in mixed martial arts. He may win some fights along the way, too. But I think it’s safe to say that his best days in the sport are now behind him.
I would like to be wrong because I don’t like to see any athlete affected due to injury or illness, but I would be shocked if Lesnar was ever the same again.
Miami Heat Face A Daunting Task In Eastern Conference Finals Against Chicago
The Miami Heat are still on cloud nine two days after their hard-fought, emotional series victory over the Boston Celtics in the Eastern Conference semifinals. Everyone has been talking like that was the most important series they will play, but if they want to win a championship they still have to win two more series.
Standing in Miami's way in the Eastern Conference are the Chicago Bulls. During the regular season, the Bulls beat the Heat all three times that they played each other. They won all three games by a combined eight points so it's not like they were dominating, but when the clock ran out they were victorious.
Despite what Miami will say going into this series, there is no way that they will be able to match the emotion and passion that they played with against Boston. LeBron James broke down after game 5 against the Celtics because that was the most important series win in his career.
But now there is the chance for a letdown against a really good Bulls team. If Miami rests on their laurels, they won't make it in this series. As good as Boston is, the Bulls are a better team. They are younger, more athletic and can match the Heat's speed and intensity.
If the emotional high of that win doesn't stay with this team against a young and hungry Bulls team they will lose. We have seen teams in all sports have a letdown following a big victory.
The Heat are the darlings of the NBA right now, but if they don't think of the Bulls the same way they did the Celtics they will lose.
Rafael Nadal Breezes Through Quarterfinals At Italian Open
Following a scare in the third round of the Italian Open, Rafael Nadal has made things look pretty easy in his last two matches. Thursday, the top-ranked player in the world got by Feliciano Lopez in straight sets. Then today he dominated Marin Cilic in straight sets (6-1, 6-3) to advance to the semifinals of the tournament.
Nadal was dealing with some kind of a virus, which was affecting his play earlier this week, but he looks to be in top shape now. The victory will allow him to keep his No. 1 ranking for at least another week.
His opponent will be determined later on today in a match between Tomas Berdych and Richard Gasquet, who took out Roger Federer on Thursday.
This tournament is Nadal's final tuneup before the French Open begins on May 22. Certainly, the way that he has looked the last two days is inspiring a lot more confidence in how he will perform at Roland Garros.
The French Open has been Nadal's home away from home throughout his career. He has won the tournament five times in his career, including four straight titles from 2005-2008.
So long as he is healthy, there is no reason to think that he won't make another deep run in the second grand slam of the year.
LA Lakers Are Interested In Rick Adelman, But Is He A Good Fit For This Team?
Despite the fact that Phil Jackson still hasn't officially announced his retirement, the Los Angeles Lakers are still out there flriting with other coaches to make sure that they don't get left in the dark. If reports are true, the leading candidate for the job appears to be former Houston Rockets head coach Rick Adelman.
...sources say Lakers officials are intrigued by the Adelman option, not only because of his history of success in Portland, Sacramento and Houston but also his reputation for thriving with veteran teams and the similarities between Adelman's "corner" offense and Jackson's "triangle" offense.
That same article also points out that there is a lot of support in the Lakers locker room for Brian Shaw, who has long been thought of as the successor to Jackson, but the front office is going to do a very thorough search for their next head coach.
Adelman's coaching style certainly fits what the Lakers have had with Jackson. He's a demonstrative guy, he doesn't get in players faces. He is a calming presence on the bench, and his offensive coaching style doesn't stray far away from Jackson.
Shaw may be the next great coach in the NBA, but he has no head coaching experience. For a team that wants to win now and in the future, the Lakers can't afford to let an unproven guy control the ship.
Adelman will be the guy for this team. It's just going to take some time before an official announcement is made.
Derrick Rose's Brother In Serious Trouble With The Law
Derrick Rose had a really great day on Thursday, leading his Bulls team to a 93-73 win over Atlanta and winning the series 4-2. Friday is not shaping up to be a not-so great day for the NBA MVP as there is an arrest warrant out for his brother Allan after he failed to show up for a court appearance.
Here's the official word on the warrant from the Chicago Sun-Times:
A Cook County judge has issued an arrest warrant for Allan Rose, whose brother is NBA MVP Derrick Rose.
The warrant was issued after Allan Rose, 26, did not appear in court on Tuesday — the same day the Bulls beat the Hawks to take a 3-2 lead in the Eastern Conference semifinals. He was to be in court to face misdemeanor reckless conduct charges stemming from his arrest last month in the North Pullman neighborhood. Allan Rose attended the Bulls game at the United Center on Tuesday.
On April 2 at 12:49 a.m., police responded to a 911 call of a man with a gun at 901 E. 104th, where they found Allan Rose standing in the street, blocking traffic and yelling profanities, according to court records. Allan Rose was arrested and charged with reckless conduct.
Allan Rose has had his share of legal problems in the past. He was arrested in 2002 on cocaine charges, which resulted in probation. This time he will probably not get off that easy.
Certainly, this is not how Derrick Rose wanted to spend his day. He has to get ready for the biggest series of his life while dealing with the stress of wondering what is going to happen with his brother.
Serena Williams Unable To Compete In French Open Due To Foot Injury
Serena Williams has announced that she will be unable to compete in the French Open, which begins on May 22, due to lingering problems with her foot.
Here is her official statement (via ESPN.com):
"While I am making good progress, unfortunately I won't be able to compete in Roland Garros as I am continuing to rehab my foot and recover from the pulmonary embolism," Williams said in a statement emailed by her agent. "I am grateful for every moment I have and the fact that I have returned to the court. I am hopeful that I will be back competing this summer. Thank you all for your continued prayers."
The news wasn't a shock because Williams hasn't played in a tournament since last July, she has been dealing with foot problems and blood clots in her lungs, but it does take a lot of the shine off the French Open from the American side.
Right now there are no Americans ranked in the top 10 of the WTA rankings - Serena is the highest ranked at No. 19 and her sister Venus, who isn't likely to play in this tournament either, is No. 19.
The highest ranked American who will play in the French Open is Bethanie Mattek at No. 38.
Williams remains hopeful that she will be able to return later on this year, but she is facing an uphill battle. Tennis fans are hoping she does because the game is just more interesting with her challenging for championships.
Boston Celtics Contemplating Moving Paul Pierce To Bench
The Boston Celtics 2010-11 season ended in disappointment as they were eliminated from the playoffs in five games by the Miami Heat. As soon as time ran out on the Celtics season, questions about their future were immediately raised. It sounds more and more like Doc Rivers will return to coach the team. But the biggest move that the team is contemplating is turning Paul Pierce into a sixth man.
Here's what Danny Ainge said in a radio interview on Thursday (via Boston.com):
"Maybe there’s a change of roles. Maybe Paul comes off the bench, cuts down on his minutes. Maybe we find a way to get Jeff more minutes. His role will expand if he’s back here next year. There’s no question about that ... "
"It wouldn’t totally shock me if there’s a change in the starting lineup, but that’s just way too tough to tell."
Changes will be coming to Boston, but it doesn't really make sense to move Pierce, who is coming off the best season of his career - he led the team in scoring and shot nearly 50 percent from the field.
They don't have the depth on the bench right now to plug someone into Pierce's spot in the starting lineup. It would make their bench better, but it would be at the expense of the starting lineup.
Ainge, just like every other Boston fan, coach and front office executive, is searching for answers right now and will say anything, but when push comes to shove Pierce isn't going to start a game sitting on the bench.
LA Lakers Forward Pau Gasol Tells Media He Is Very Motivated To Return Team To Glory Next Season
The Los Angeles Lakers are still trying to recover from the sting of getting swept out of the playoffs at the hands of the Dallas Mavericks. There was a lot of criticism being heaped upon the Lakers players and coaches, but one player got it a lot more than anyone else. That player was power forward Pau Gasol, who looked anemic on offense and defense in that series.
Gasol took time yesterday to talk to the media and explain what will motivate him to perform better next season.
"The thing that makes me the angriest is me not playing at my best and me not being able to help the team accomplish its goals," Gasol said. "That’s what makes me the angriest. The rest of the stuff, you can brush it off. It’s not that big of a deal. Obviously it’s not pleasant. Obviously you don’t appreciate it. But I feel like I have to embrace it too. It’s going to make me ready."
There are fans and some former Lakers players who are asking for the whole team to be blown up and get some new players in who can win a championship. They ignore the fact that the Lakers just won two championships and were the favorites heading into these playoffs.
I don't believe that Gasol is the problem or that he needs to be traded or that the Lakers are in trouble next year because they didn't win this year. I think that they just played four bad games against a good Dallas team. Why can't we give the other team credit? Why does it have to be about what the Lakers didn't do?
Gasol will be fine in 2011, and the Lakers will be fine. The only priority that this team has is finding a new head coach, assuming Phil Jackson actually retires.