[SPORTS] LeBron James says Lakers will have to work to be great

EL SEGUNDO, Calif. — Speaking with an all-business tone in his first press conference with his new team, LeBron James said the Los Angeles Lakers have “a long way to go” before getting on the same level as the Golden State Warriors.

James said he is excited to play alongside multiple ball handlers, but he understands the Lakers might have to take their “bumps and bruises” early with so many new pieces.

“We got a long way to go to get to Golden State,” James said when asked if the Lakers can challenge the two-time defending champs. “They can pick up right where they left off, starting with training camp. … We are picking up from scratch, so we got a long way to go. We can’t worry about what Golden State is doing. … They’ve been together for a few years now.”


“We are all new to each other; we have to take our bumps and our bruises,” James added. “There are going to be good times and bad times. If we continue to work the process and continue to sacrifice for one another and put in the commitment and time to being great, everything else will fall into place.”

While James was subdued during his press conference, he broke into a big smile later when asked about the health of his right hand, which he hurt following the Cleveland Cavaliers’ overtime loss in Game 1 of the NBA Finals to Golden State.

“My hand’s great,” James told ESPN. “A hundred percent, back to a hundred percent.”

This was the first time James has spoken to the Los Angeles media since signing with the Lakers in free agency in July. He had a serious tone in his press conference, something Lakers head coach Luke Walton said he has seen from James at the practice facility this summer.

“He knows what time it is. … He’s setting the tone that it’s time to come to work,” Walton said. “… There is definitely that look that I’ve seen before with somebody else I have played with before that knows the season is coming up soon.”

Walton, who played alongside Kobe Bryant, was asked who that person could be.

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[SPORTS] LeBron James, producer Ryan Coogler to work together on ‘Space Jam’ movie

Blown away by Ryan Coogler’s work on “Black Panther,” LeBron James is teaming up with the director/producer on the long-anticipated next “Space Jam” movie.

Coogler will produce the “Space Jam” project with Terence Nance — whose work includes “Random Acts of Flyness” and “An Oversimplification of Her Beauty” — set to direct.

A source told ESPN that James was personally involved in recruiting Coogler. “Space Jam” will be Coogler’s first project since directing “Black Panther” — the groundbreaking Marvel movie featuring a black superhero with a predominantly black cast that grossed $1.34 billion worldwide.

James and longtime business partner Maverick Carter have been in talks to make a “Space Jam” film for more than five years, waiting for the right situation to come along, according to ESPN’s Brian Windhorst.

While the film shares the name with the popular franchise that originally starred Michael Jordan and Bugs Bunny in a 1996 box-office smash, a source familiar with the production told ESPN’s Dave McMenamin that James’ vehicle will not be considered a sequel to the highest-grossing basketball film of all time.

“I loved his vision,” James told The Hollywood Reporter of the acclaimed Coogler, who also directed “Creed” and “Fruitvale Station.” “So for Ryan to be able to bring that to kids, it’s amazing.”

While the premise of the latest installment of “Space Jam” being discussed is not rooted in the original story, there have been discussions of involving Jordan, with his level of involvement still to be determined. Filming is expected to start during the 2019 NBA offseason.

James’ Springhill Entertainment signed a deal in 2015 with Warner Bros. Entertainment, which owns “Space Jam.”

James, who had a supporting acting role in the 2015 comedy “Trainwreck,” has reviewed numerous scripts and met with various producers and directors in search of the right project, according to Windhorst.

James signed as a free agent with the Los Angeles Lakers in July, something that should only amplify and better facilitate his business team’s numerous ventures in entertainment.

“The ‘Space Jam’ collaboration is so much more than just me and the Looney Tunes getting together and doing this movie,” James told The Hollywood Reporter. “It’s so much bigger. I’d just love for kids to understand how empowered they can feel and how empowered they can be if they don’t just give up on their dreams. And I think Ryan did that for a lot of people.”

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[SPORTS] Shawn Porter beats Danny Garcia by unanimous decision

Conventional wisdom said Shawn Porter and Danny Garcia, both former welterweight world titleholders with massive experience against many of the best fighters in their division, were about as evenly matched as one could hope.

And when they met for a vacant belt before a crowd of 13,058 on Saturday night in the main event of the 30th boxing card at Barclays Center in Brooklyn, they indeed put on a highly competitive and exciting fight.

But it was Porter, thanks to his relentless pressure, who won a unanimous decision to claim his second 147-pound world title.

Judge Don Ackerman scored the fight 116-112, and judges Julie Lederman and Eric Marlinski each had it 115-113. ESPN had it 114-114.

“I tell people all the time I don’t make predictions. I made a prediction and a hard one to live up to. I said I wasn’t leaving New York without this belt, and I’m not leaving New York without this belt,” Porter said. “I knew he was going to be accurate. The game plan for me was to be accurate from the outside and show we could beat him without roughing him up on the ropes. This title means a lot to me. It meant a lot to boxing, and I wanted to be a part of that.”

Garcia said he felt that he won but didn’t complain too vigorously.

“I thought I did enough to win. It was close fight. The judges didn’t give it to me,” Garcia said. “I busted my head on the inside, plus a couple head butts on my nose. It is what it is; this is boxing.”

With the victory, Porter set himself up for a possible unification fight with Errol Spence Jr., who was ringside and very much wants to unify.

“The same way that you called Danny out, I’m going to call you out,” Spence said to Porter in the ring after the fight. “I think I’m the best welterweight in the division. I’m the truth, and I guarantee you I come home as unified champion. I definitely want that fight against Porter.”

Spence (24-0, 21 KOs) also has been linked to a possible pay-per-view fight later this year or in early 2019 against lightweight titlist Mikey Garcia, who is insistent on moving up two divisions to challenge himself against Spence. Spence has many options.

“It was a good fight. Shawn looked like himself. I didn’t see anything different in his style, so we should combine to make an incredible fight,” Spence said. “I’m ready for whoever next. Mikey Garcia, Shawn Porter or [titleholder] Keith Thurman. I want any and all of them.”

Spence is who Porter wants next and told him so in the ring.

“I knew Errol Spence would be here tonight. I’m ready for the fight. This is going to be the easiest fight to make in boxing,” said Porter, alluding to the fact that they both have been fighting on Showtime, both are with adviser Al Haymon and both want the bout.

Porter first won a world title in 2013, also at Barclays Center, as he outpointed Devon Alexander, and he made one successful defense, before losing the belt to Kell Brook. Porter has been trying ever since to get another belt, and he had come close in 2016; but he lost a very close decision to Thurman, who also took Garcia’s belt by close decision in March 2017 in the same building.

Now Porter has another title after a grueling battle with Garcia.

Saturday’s fight began at a measured pace, and when they both threw right hands at the end of the first round, Garcia’s connected and Porter’s missed, drawing cheers from the crowd. The action soon picked up, and they put on a very crowd-pleasing fight.

According to CompuBox punch statistics, Porter landed 180 of 742 shots (24 percent) and Garcia connected with 168 of 472 (36 percent).

Garcia’s punches landed with thudding impact that could be heard at ringside, including a hard left hook in the third round. Porter, two inches shorter than Garcia, tried to jab his way in but had difficulties early on.

Porter, known for bull-rushing opponents, came straight ahead in the fourth round and belted Garcia with several good body shots and a right hand upstairs as he got his offense going.

Porter’s offense was not consistent, however. When he couldn’t get inside on Garcia, Porter tried to maul, but Garcia stepped back and landed his shots.

Porter is notorious for getting his head involved in fights, and after an accidental head butt in the seventh round, referee Steve Willis warned him to be careful with his head. Porter had Garcia in retreat later in the seventh round as he lashed him with right hands over the top.

Porter (29-2-1, 17 KOs), 30, of Las Vegas, continued to take aim at Garcia’s body in the eighth round. Porter put his head down and bombed away inside, though he took a few right hands for his trouble in what was becoming an increasingly rough fight, especially on the inside as the fighters went toe to toe.

“He tried to outhustle me, mostly at the end of the rounds. He did a tremendous job,” Porter said. “It wasn’t necessarily about making it wild. My dad [trainer Ken Porter] wanted me to stay consistent with the body work and stay consistent with the pressure.”

Garcia had predicted a knockout win in under nine rounds, but the ninth came and went without either man being in any serious trouble. So many of the rounds seemed close that it was hard to pick a winner, especially late in the fight when they traded back and forth in the center of the ring — including in the 10th round, as they fired away with abandon.

“He was throwing a lot,” Garcia said. “I had my defense tight, so it wasn’t effective. I thought I landed the clearer shots. I thought I won this fight. I have to sit back, relax and see what’s next for me.”

Porter, who earned $1 million to Garcia’s $1.2 million, continued to pressure Garcia (34-2, 20 KOs), 30, of Philadelphia, in the 11th round, and Garcia answered counter shots in yet another close frame. With the fight seemingly on the table in the 12th round, they exchanged punches at close range over the final 30 seconds, save for one clinch, and the crowd rose to its feet in appreciation of the tremendous battle.

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[SPORTS] Cardinals RB David Johnson got paid

The Arizona Cardinals running back signed a three-year extension Saturday, the team announced.

The deal is for $39 million, including $30 million guaranteed, and can be worth up to $45 million, a source told ESPN’s Adam Schefter. Johnson’s $30 million in guaranteed money is the third-highest figure among active running backs.

Earlier this week, he said he wanted his deal done as soon as possible.

“Every player wants to have a contract done and know that they have a contract,” Johnson said.

Now he does.

Johnson made it known this summer that he wanted a new deal. He held out of Arizona’s minicamp in June but reported to training camp. However, his impending contract was a topic every time he spoke publicly.

Johnson’s extension came the night before he was about to enter the fourth and final year of his rookie contract, which was worth $2.9 million. He was scheduled to earn $1.9 million this season.

His new deal doesn’t come without questions, however. Johnson, 26, has gotten injured in his past two games. He suffered a fractured wrist in Week 1 last season that forced him to miss the final 15 games. He also suffered a sprained MCL in Week 17 in 2016, which put a damper on an impressive season.

However, when Johnson was healthy in 2016, he was an All-Pro and Pro Bowler for the first time. That season, Johnson rushed for 1,239 yards and 16 touchdowns on 293 carries. He complemented that with 879 receiving yards and four touchdowns on 80 catches. Johnson led the NFL with 2,118 all-purpose years and 373 touches in 2016.

Johnson’s 32 touchdowns from scrimmage since 2015 are the second most in that span. Todd Gurley and Devonta Freeman each had 35.

Johnson was a third-round pick in 2015 out of the University of Northern Iowa.

Keeping Johnson under contract through the 2021 season will pair him with rookie quarterback Josh Rosen, whom the Cardinals drafted 10th overall this year, giving Arizona’s offense its foundation for the foreseeable future.

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[SPORTS] NFL not expected to implement new national anthem policy this season

The NFL is not expected to implement a new policy on the national anthem this season, league sources told ESPN, no matter how many meetings and conversations occur regarding the topic.

The new policy is going to be no policy — at least for this season, according to sources.

Too many people have stances too strong to figure out a compromise, although talks will continue.

Players began sitting or kneeling during the anthem in 2016 to protest racial inequality, police brutality and other issues. The protests have become a divisive topic of debate, and the NFL and players’ union still haven’t said whether players will be punished this season if they choose to kneel or demonstrate during the anthem.

The NFL passed a new anthem policy in May, but those rules were put on hold to allow the league and union to further discuss the issue.

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[SPORT/ MUSIC] LeBron James & Kevin Durant – It Ain’t Easy

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For years, there was a myth that Kevin Durant and LeBron James recorded a song together during the 2011 NBA lockout. It had been reported about, talked about in basketball circles and about a year ago, a snippet leaked. While we’ve seen these two on the court together (even playing on the same team during pickup games and the 2012 Summer Olympics), this is the first time, and possibly the only time, we will hear them on a song together.

“It Ain’t Easy” is more of a light-hearted collaboration, and not the trap aggressive rap you’d expect nowadays, but then again, it’s about seven years old.

It’ll be interesting to see what the two say about the song when asked.

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[SPORTS] Crawford wins welterweight title in ninth round

Terence “Bud” Crawford put the welterweight division on notice in a major way.

Crawford, already a winner of world titles in two weight classes, aimed to make a big impression in his first fight in the talent-rich 147-pound division that several of the sport’s best call home, and he did so by utterly dominating Jeff Horn.

Crawford punished Horn in a one-sided fight, stopping him in the ninth round to win a world title in his third division on Saturday night in the main event of the Top Rank Boxing on ESPN+ card before 8,112 at the MGM Grand Garden Arena.

“Like I told you all before, I’m strong. I was way stronger than him. You all kept telling me how strong he was, so I had to go and show you,” Crawford said. “I just had to get in the ring and prove it. You saw what I did in there. My power carried up, my physicality. Now I want all the champions at welterweight.”

Crawford, of Omaha, Nebraska, came into the fight already universally considered one of boxing’s best pound-for-pound fighters in the world. The near-flawless performance against Horn should only burnish his reputation.

Crawford had already won a world title at lightweight and then moved up to junior welterweight, in which last August he became only the third fighter of the four-belt era to unify the titles of all four major sanctioning bodies when he blitzed Julius Indongo in a third-round knockout to take his two belts and become the undisputed champion at 140 pounds.

Then it was on to the welterweight division that boasts fighters such as titleholders Errol Spence Jr. and Keith Thurman, not to mention former champion Manny Pacquiao and former titleholders Danny Garcia and Shawn Porter.

Top Rank promoter Bob Arum, who has promoted fights for more than 50 years, was very impressed with Crawford and compared him to a legend.

“His future is unlimited. He’s a terrific fighter. It’s the highest praise I can give a fighter, a welterweight, that he reminds me of Sugar Ray Leonard,” said Arum, who promoted several Leonard fights. “That to me is a great, great compliment because I always thought Leonard was the best, and this guy is equal or better than Ray.”

Crawford, Horn’s mandatory challenger, put his name into the mix for major fights with any of them if they could be made, but first he had to deal with Australia’s Horn, who made his United States debut for the second defense of the world title he lifted from Pacquiao by controversial decision last July before 51,000 people at Suncorp Stadium in his hometown of Brisbane.

Crawford’s dominance was illustrated by the CompuBox punch statistics. He landed 155 of 367 punches (42 percent), while Horn landed 58 of 257 (23 percent), none of which seemed to do much of anything.

“He was hard to tag, and he just kept me guessing,” Horn said. “He’s a classy fighter who fought a great fight.”

The 30-year-old Crawford (33-0, 24 KOs), who came out immediately in a southpaw stance, caught Horn (18-1-1, 12 KOs) with a hard left hand in the first few seconds of the fight to knock him off balance. Crawford’s speed advantage was evident immediately in a round Crawford appeared to win easily.

Horn, aiming for another huge upset, had a big contingent of fans who chanted, “Hornet! Hornet!” but they couldn’t fight for him, as Crawford continued to land in the second round, including a straight left hand down the middle that rocked Horn.

Crawford was in total control the entire fight, including the third round as he landed right hooks, straight left hands and clean jabs that rocked Horn’s head back. Horn, who suffered a small cut over his right eye in the fourth round, had no answers for anything, and it didn’t get much better.

Crawford, meanwhile, looked like he was having fun. He stuck his tongue out and wound up with some punches as he nailed Horn with heavy shots from all angles, especially straight lefts, in what was easy work.

When Horn, 30, bulled Crawford to the ropes in the sixth round, Crawford got away after landing a left uppercut that stunned Horn.

In the eighth round, Crawford, who is adept at switching stances, turned right-handed and continued to find a home for his blows. He had Horn in big trouble as he lashed him with crushing punches that probably would have put opponents away when he fought in the smaller junior welterweight and lightweight divisions. But Horn, who earned $1.75 million to Crawford’s $3 million, sopped up the enormous punishment and showed a great chin to take the shots.

But he could take them for only so long. Crawford continued to pound him in the ninth round, landing two right hands and a left that hurt him badly and forced him to touch his gloves to the canvas for a knockdown. Crawford was all over him when the fight resumed, and as he blasted him with both hands, referee Robert Byrd jumped in to stop the fight at 2 minutes, 33 seconds.

The fight was originally scheduled for April 14 but was postponed when Crawford suffered a deep bone bruise on his right hand while training. But he sure didn’t appear to have any issues with the right hand, which he used liberally.

Crawford closed the show by landing 47 of 77 power shots in the last two rounds. Horn threw only 59 punches in the last two rounds.

Arum said Crawford is on his way to stardom and will stay active.

“One thing with this ESPN platform is we have the dates,” Arum said. “We’re going to have ‘Bud’ fight as many times as he and [trainer Brian McIntyre] want. If he wants to fight three times a year or four times a year, we’ve got the dates for him. It’s up to him how busy he wants to be.”

Crawford flashed a smile at Arum and said, “Let’s get that money.”

Glenn Rushton, Horn’s trainer, gave credit to Crawford for a fine performance but complained about the stoppage.

“Crawford was just sharp in there,” Ruston said. “He kept on countering Jeff’s shots one at a time. I thought there were some close rounds in there, and it was definitely a premature stoppage. He got hit harder by Pacquiao.”

But Byrd had called off the fight, and when it was over, Crawford ran to the ropes and climbed atop one of the ring posts, drinking in the cheers from the crowd as he pumped his fist.

The welterweight division was on notice.

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[Sports]Favre on his future: ‘Tomorrow I may not remember who I am’

Football is a dangerous game. Brett Favre knows all about that. Over the course of a 20-year career, Favre got hit. A LOT. In all, he would take 525 sacks. He would play through countless injuries. Given all this, he knows that tomorrow is uncertain. In fact, he doesn’t know what tomorrow may hold.

“I’m able to function the way I so choose, at least up to this point. I stay active. … Tomorrow may be totally different. Tomorrow I may not remember who I am, I may not know where I live, and that’s the frightening thing for us football players.”

But what about the future of football? What about his grandchildren? Favre knows that with his name comes a legacy. But he’s in no rush to see them play the game he spent decades playing

“I’m not going to encourage him to play football. I’m not saying I would discourage him, but I would be cringing every time I saw my grandson get tackled, because I know, physically, what’s at stake.”

His oldest grandchild, who is eight years old, is still very much a child. But Favre knows how early this game can grab you. He also knows how quickly this game can break you. As the years pass, more and more concussions come to the forefront. But it’s not just concussions, it’s the general meat grinder that the game of football can be. Bodies are broken on a weekly basis, and as the game gets faster the injuries get worse. Especially when it comes to the brain.
Favre knows there’s no reason to push it. The irony being, of course, that the gunslinger would make a career out of pushing it. Sometimes it just takes folks a little bit of time to realize it.

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[Boxing News]Neither Victor Ortiz nor Devon Alexander can afford to lose


Neither Victor Ortiz nor Devon Alexander can afford to lose
Victor Ortiz and Devon Alexander fight Saturday in Texas, writes Joe Walker

VICTOR ORTIZ 32-6-2 (25) will fight former two division world champion Devon Alexander 27-4 (14) on Saturday night (February 17), headlining a TGB Promotions Premier Boxing Champions card on FOX from the Don Haskins Center, El Paso, Texas.
While the big fights in the welterweight division of Errol Spence and Keith Thurman may be some way off, both fighters will hope to take a step in the right direction on Saturday.

Ortiz comes off the back of a fourth round stoppage over little known fighter Saul Corral in Bakersfield last July, which did not do much to shrug off his loss to Andre Berto a year and a half ago in their rematch. With a successful acting career and other ventures, many thought Ortiz’ boxing career was ending. Now, aged 31 he faces a stern test in Devon Alexander.
“I’ve been counted out many times in this sport. Being on this stage is very significant for me, thankfully I have people who don’t stop believing in me.
“I’ve seen both sides and been in the middle, at this point, the only place I’m focused on going is up,” Ortiz said in a pre-fight press conference.
Alexander finds himself at a similar point in his career to Ortiz. A win last year, preceded by two defeats to Aaron Martinez and Amir Khan, he can afford nothing but a win if he hopes to turn his career around.
“Beat this guy, that’s all I’m going to do, that’s all I’m prepared to do, that’s all I want to do, it’s all I’ve been dreaming about doing so anything else doesn’t mean anything.
“You guys want to see me win and get back to the top, so that’s what I plan on doing, so get ready,” said Alexander.
Ortiz has been in a few wars in his career, choosing to stand and trade with fighters he should have out boxed such as Josesito Lopez, Berto and Luis Collazo, who in return handed him shock defeats. If he boxes Alexander he stands a chance of winning, but if Alexander can take the fight to the later rounds he could take this one.
Ortiz has been known to quit as fights have progressed in the past, against Marcos Maidana in a career defining moment, he withdrew after he was put down in the sixth round. Against Floyd Mayweather, frustrated and beaten he threw a head butt, of which Mayweather responded by knocking him down as they touched gloves to recontinue.

How much of Alexander’s speed and power he has left remains to be seen but he’ll hope to find gaps in Ortiz’s defence to use his fast right hand that has devastated opponents in the past, namely Marcos Maidana who didn’t have any answers for it back in 2012.
This fight will mark the end of one of the fighter’s long careers and it’ll come down to who wants it more.

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[Boxing] Fight Results “Spence vs. Peterson”

With violent efficiency, Errol Spence forced a corner retirement from Lamont Peterson that reminded that not all corner retirements are the same. The look on the face of trainer Barry Hunter, the anguish in deciding whether to halt the fight or not, was as touching a moment as boxing might have in 2018.
That was the face, the decision, of a man who truly loved the fighter in the corner. Peterson made a game effort, especially coming off the floor in the fifth. Peterson fought to stay on his feet, to make the bell, with the same grit that has marked so much of his career.
It was to little avail. The man in front of him is too good right now.Spence is the future of the new era of boxing. Spence vs. Thurmond should be exciting later this year.



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