<![CDATA[NBC New York - Sports]]> Copyright 2015 http://www.nbcnewyork.com/news/sports http://media.nbcbayarea.com/designimages/4NY_Horizontal.jpg NBC New York http://www.nbcnewyork.com en-us Wed, 01 Apr 2015 04:21:12 -0400 Wed, 01 Apr 2015 04:21:12 -0400 NBC Owned Television Stations <![CDATA[Browns GM Suspended 4 Games for Texting]]> Mon, 30 Mar 2015 15:51:38 -0400 http://media.nbcnewyork.com/images/213*120/Cleveland-Browns-Ray-Farmer.jpg

The NFL sent a tough message to Browns general manager Ray Farmer for texting.

However, the league didn't delete any of Cleveland's precious draft picks.

Farmer has been suspended without pay for the first four games of the 2015 regular season for sending text messages to the sideline during games last season. The league announced its punishment on Monday, ending an investigation that hung over the franchise during yet another turbulent offseason and threatened to undermine the Browns' upcoming draft.

Farmer, who acknowledged sending the messages weeks ago, will not be paid during his suspension. The league said his ban begins on midnight of the Sunday preceding the Browns' first regular-season game and will end immediately after the fourth regular-season game. Farmer cannot be involved in any club matters and is prohibited from being at the team's offices, practice facility or games, the league said.

"I respect the league's decision and understand that there are consequences for my actions," Farmer said in a statement released by the Browns. "Accountability is integral to what we are trying to build and as a leader I need to set the right example. I made a mistake and apologize to Jimmy Haslam, (coach) Mike Pettine, our entire organization and our fans for the ramifications. Learning is a big part of who I am and I will certainly be better from this situation."

The Browns were also fined $250,000, but that's pocket change considering what they could have lost.

Cleveland has 10 picks in the upcoming draft, including two in the first round (Nos. 12 and 19) and six of the first 115. The Browns, who went 7-9 last season, could be positioning themselves to make a run at one of the top quarterbacks, and losing any assets would not only have weakened their bargaining power, but prevented a team with several holes from adding young talent. The Browns haven't been to the playoffs since 2002 and have had just two winning seasons since 1999.

Owner Jimmy Haslam, who has remained supportive of Farmer, has said the team is committed to finding a franchise quarterback. The team signed free agent Josh McCown , backup Thad Lewis and is waiting for Johnny Manziel to be released from rehab.

During its investigation, the league said it found no evidence that Haslam or other team executives knew about the texts.

Troy Vincent, the NFL's vice president of football operations, said Farmer used a cellphone on "multiple occasions" during games in 2014. League rules prohibit teams from using any electronic devices beginning 90 minutes before kickoff through the end of a game. The rule forbids communication to the sidelines, coach's booths, locker room or any other club-controlled areas. The only exceptions are the league-issued tablets coaches use for still photos.

The texting inquiry was just one of several issues to hound the Browns this winter. Along with Manziel's trip to rehab, offensive coordinator Kyle Shanahan had a messy departure and troubled wide receiver Josh Gordon was suspended by the league for at least one season for multiple drug violations.

Throughout the inquiry, Haslam professed his loyalty to Farmer, who was promoted in February 2014 when team president Joe Banner and GM Michael Lombardi were fired.

"We accept the league's ruling," Haslam said. "Ray made a mistake and takes full responsibility for his role in violating the policy. It is critical that we make better decisions. Ray has tremendous integrity and I know has great remorse for what occurred. We are all committed to learning from this and making the Browns a stronger and better organization."



Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Chris Mullin the Perfect Pick to Coach St. John's]]> Mon, 30 Mar 2015 11:30:41 -0400 http://media.nbcnewyork.com/images/213*120/120985934.jpg

The stage is all set for Chris Mullin to return to St. John’s.

That’s not just not great news for the St. John’s basketball program. It’s terrific news for New York City and college basketball.

If the most popular player in the history of the once-great program can recruit some top players, then he can turn St. John's back into what it once was: Relevant.

We’re betting that he can, despite what St. John’s has to go up against when trying to get the best New York City players to stay home, as Mullin once did when he came out of Brooklyn.

He believes in the brand, he believes in the tradition. Most importantly, he believes St. John’s can be what it once was.

“You have to find those kids that want to stay home and be part of something,’’ he said to reporters when he was inducted into the St. John’s Hall of Fame last month. “New York should be a great selling point.’’

Now, St. John’s gets the best salesman it can in old No. 20.

St. John’s hasn’t really been relevant since the days of Lou Carnesecca, Mark Jackson, Walter Berry and Billy Wennington. And Mullin, of course, the Hall of Famer who 30 years ago took the team down to the Final Four in Lexington, Kentucky.

That’s when St. John’s was more than just a Big East team. It was a national power.

It’s been a long fall under coaches like Mike Jarvis and Fran Fraschilla.

Lately, Steve Lavin came in from California and UCLA to try to do what Mullin will attempt to do without a single day of coaching experience.

Lavin never lived up to his big billing, getting the Red Storm to only two NCAA Tournaments in five seasons and never making it out of the first round. His record in the Big East tournaments wasn’t much better, with one win in six games.

Lavin had some problems with players that aren’t exactly limited to the St. John’s of the college basketball world. The latest came when junior center Chris Obepka reportedly tested positive for marijuana on the eve of the NCAA Tournament. Without their lone rim protector available, St. John’s was one-and-done, losing to San Diego State.

Lavin’s dismissal with one year left on his deal made for the perfect time for St. John’s to reach back into its rich basketball history and go get a legend who knows what it’s like to win out on Utopia Parkway. They offered the job, but only after the powers that be got Carnesecca’s blessing -- a slam dunk if there ever was one.

Mullin, according to industry sources, is lining up a crack staff of coaches who will help him with the heavy lifting of college athletics: recruiting.

Mullin will be the deal-closer. Even if you've spent only a minute with him, you know he’s got a shot to be successful, because he loves basketball and he loves St. John’s even more.

That’s what Mullin had over all the coaches who were busy lining up to come to New York, when they have no idea what they would be getting into. They just knew that St. John’s has a shot to get back to where it once was, when Mullin came in from Xaverian and had St. John’s ranked in the national Top 20.

Not long before Mullin’s arrival, an old New York gent named Frank McGuire regularly grabbed all the best parochial-school players and took them down to play for him at South Carolina.

“If Frank was still coaching when Chris was around, he would have been another Frank McGuire player,’’ Mike Dunleavy, the old New Yorker and one of McGuire’s players, once told me. “There's no doubt in my mind, he would have gone down to South Carolina, just like we all did."

But Mullin left Xaverian a year after McGuire retired from coaching. So he ended up staying home and playing at St. John’s, where McGuire got his coaching start and took the Redmen, as they were then known, to the NCAA Finals in 1952.

The best thing about this is that Mullin knows what it will take to revive the program because he’s lived it. Talent evaluation won’t be a problem. He’s spent a career in NBA front offices after his playing days in Golden State and Indiana were over. Not long ago, when Donnie Walsh ran the Knicks, his plan was to bring Mullin back to help him run the show.

Mullin has had his eye on getting into coaching. In fact earlier this season, the Sacramento Kings lobbied heavily for Mullin, a team adviser, to take the coaching reins when they fired Mike Malone. After much deliberation, he decided that he wanted to wait. His plan was to take the job next season and start from scratch, with the benefit of having a full training camp and assembling his own staff.

Smart move, but then the Kings gave up on Mullin and decided to bring in a proven coach in George Karl.

But Mullin always had the St. John’s job in the back of his mind.

Out on Utopia Parkway, they should be very, very happy that he did.

Longtime New York columnist Mitch Lawrence continues to write about pro basketball, as he’s done for the last 22 years. His columns for NBCNewYork.com on the Knicks, Brooklyn Nets and the NBA, along with other major sports, will appear twice weekly. Follow him on Twitter @Mitch _ Lawrence.



Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Celtics Ahead of Knicks, Sixers in Race to Rebuild]]> Fri, 27 Mar 2015 16:04:00 -0400 http://media.nbcnewyork.com/images/213*120/clippers-vs-spurs.jpg

The Boston Celtics aren’t about to hang a championship banner and there isn’t one player now wearing their uniform who will one day have his number raised to the rafters of the new Garden. Incidentally, that’s the only way they measure success up in Boston, home to a record 17 NBA title banners and 19 retired players’ numbers.

But compared to a few other Atlantic Division teams in the rebuilding mode, including the Knicks, who host Boston tonight in the Garden, the Celtics are in a very good place, courtesy of some shrewd moves by team president Danny Ainge.

“It’s tough to rebuild, it really is tough. But I honestly think the Celtics are ahead of all the other teams that are in the same position they are and trying to rebuild,’’ former Celtics coach Doc Rivers said today on Sirius XM NBA Radio’s “The Starting Lineup.’’

This was the morning after Rivers’ Clippers throttled the no-show Knicks and before they headed down to Philadelphia to play the lowly Sixers on Friday. Then on Sunday, Rivers goes back to Boston, where he guided the Celtics to the 2008 title and came up only one win shy of winning a second title, when his Big Three fell to the Lakers in Game 7 of the 2010 Finals.

Rivers might be on the easiest three-game road trip of his life, including when he was a player. We all know what the 14-win Knicks have: a roster of rental players who go through the motions all too often for Derek Fisher and mostly will be gone next season. The lottery can’t get here soon enough and that’s when the Knicks will learn if all this losing has been worth it.

The 18-win Sixers have been tanking away the last couple of seasons, with very little to show for all of their losing. Rookie center Joel Embiid, the key to their rebuilding, won’t get on the floor at all this season, so it’s difficult to project his future. Or the team’s.

The Celtics are in position to make the playoffs this season, even if they wind up with a losing record. They’re 31-40, but that means they’re still in contention to finish with one of the top eight records in the East. It doesn’t mean they’re equipped to battle Rivers’ Clippers, with Chris Paul playing like an MVP, Blake Griffin finding his groove after missing five weeks of action following elbow surgery, and D’Andre Jordan dominating the glass with his league-high 14.8 rebounds per game.

Not that the Celtics will go far if they qualify for the post-season. But beyond what happens this season, they’ve got a very good chance to become a perennial playoff team.

“The Celtics have plenty of money (to spend on free agents) and they’ve also got about a thousand (draft) picks,’’ Rivers said.

“So they’re in very good shape. Some teams have just the money. And some have just the picks. But the Celtics have both. I think Danny (Ainge) has done a great job with how he’s gone about getting them lined up for the future, plus they have some players there who can help.’’

Ainge just hasn’t found a franchise player who will have the Celtics back in the title hunt. That’s always the hardest part of rebuilding and the search for a legitimate difference-maker has been underway since Rivers left for the Clippers' presidency and head coaching position. That same summer, in 2013, Ainge broke apart what was left of his Big Three, trading Kevin Garnett and Paul Pierce to the Nets. With Rajon Rondo’s trade to Dallas earlier this season, the gutting of the Boston champs was complete.

But here’s what Ainge has to show for the dismantling: He’s got 14 first-round draft picks over the next five seasons, plus another 14 second-rounders.There’ll be plenty of cap space, as well, with the Celtics committed to only about $40 million in players’ salaries for next season, and then only $15 million the season after (2016-17). In addition, he’s got one of the top young coaches in the game in Brad Stevens.

Now all Ainge needs is to go find the next player who one day will be good enough to raise a championship banner and have his number retired.

Because up in Boston, that’s the only way they measure success.

Longtime New York columnist Mitch Lawrence continues to write about pro basketball, as he’s done for the last 22 years. His columns for NBCNewYork.com on the Knicks, Brooklyn Nets and the NBA, along with other major sports, will appear twice weekly. Follow him on Twitter @Mitch _ Lawrence.



Photo Credit: EFE]]>
<![CDATA[Autistic Boy Forced to Remove His Letter Jacket]]> Fri, 27 Mar 2015 13:40:25 -0400 http://media.nbcnewyork.com/images/214*120/LetterJacket.jpg A mother is outraged after her son's school forces him to remove a varsity letter jacket because special-needs athletes aren't allowed to wear the letters.]]> <![CDATA[Former UNC Coach, Dean Smith, Leaves $200 to Former Players]]> Thu, 26 Mar 2015 22:45:25 -0400 http://media.nbcnewyork.com/images/213*120/80261754.jpg

Every letter winner who played for former North Carolina basketball coach, Dean Smith, was granted with a heart-warming suprise a month after his death: $200 dollars from his estate.

A letter sent to 180 players was sent from Smith's trustee, stating: "Each player was important and special to Coach Smith and when he prepared his estate plan, Coach wanted to reach out to each of his letterman. Accordingly, Coach directed that following his passing each letterman be sent a two hundred dollar ($200.00) check with the message 'enjoy a dinner out, compliments of Coach Dean Smith.'

Smith, who died at age 83 last month, went 879-254 in his years at North Carolina, landing him in the Basketball Hall of Fame in 1983. However, Smith was also known for the compassion he had for his players.

In 1965, Smith helped a black North Carolina graudation student, Howard Lee, purchase a home in an all-white neighborhood during segregations. A year later, Smith intergrated the Tar Heels, recruiting Charlie Scott, who became the first African-American scholarship player in the school's history.

Serge Zwikker, who played for Smith from 1993-1997, told ESPN: "My wife opened the letter and handed it to me. At first  I didn't know what it was, but when it hit me, it put a tear in my eye. Even after he passed, he was still all about this players."

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<![CDATA[Top Sports Photos 2015]]> Mon, 30 Mar 2015 12:07:01 -0400 http://media.nbcnewyork.com/images/213*120/topSports-tennis-AP368198072958.jpg Click to see dramatic sports photos from the NFL, to basketball, baseball and more.

Photo Credit: AP]]>
<![CDATA[Wisconsin Basketball Player Accidentally Admits Crush]]> Thu, 26 Mar 2015 18:13:37 -0400 http://media.nbcnewyork.com/images/213*120/Screen-Shot-2015-03-26-at-5.37.13-PM.jpg

Cattywampus. Onomatopoeia. Antidisestablishmentarianism. For Nigel Hayes, University of Wisconsin  basketball forward, these are the words of a modern love letter.

Hayes answered reporters covering the NCAA March Madness tournament with these arbitrary words in a press conference a couple days ago, stumping everyone in the room.  Hayes originally joked that he wanted to break up the monotony of the stenographer’s job with some unique words.

A reporter kicked off the latest news conference asking Hayes if he wanted to say anything to the stenographer, Debra Bollman, before they began, in which he responded: “syzygy”.

A hot mic then picked up Hayes whispering to his teammate, “God, she’s beautiful.” His eyes lit up when he heard laughter in the room. He asked Bollman, “Did you hear that?” She responded “yes” before Hayes covered his face with his hands in embarrassment.

While it's not yet known whether Hayes’ “soliloquy” will help him get a date with Bollman, he can at least say he's made her day more interesting.


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<![CDATA[Bengals' Devon Still: My Daughter Kicked Cancer's Butt ]]> Mon, 30 Mar 2015 11:45:59 -0400 http://media.nbcnewyork.com/images/213*120/Devon+and+Leah+New.jpg

After months of treatment, constant updates on social media and nationwide support, Cincinnati Bengals defensive tackle Devon Still shared the news he hoped to hear for over a year. His daughter, Leah's cancer is officially in remission.

"Today we received news from Leah's oncologist that her cancer, stage four neuroblastoma, is officially in REMISSION! After 296 days of day dreaming about what it would feel like to hear the doctors say my daughter is in remission, I finally know the feeling," Still said in an announcement Wednesday on his Instagram page.

Still and his daughter have captured the hearts of millions of people nationwide since she began to receive treatment at the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia in June. Leah, who had a tumor removed from her abdomen back in September, completed her latest course of chemotherapy last month.

"It was not easy but every day, and every treatment Leah fought like hell and kicked cancers butt!" he said in his post.

Devon Still, a Delaware native and former Penn State Nittany Lion, was cut from the Cincinnati Bengals in August of last year. But the Bengals re-signed Still to their practice squad in order to help him pay for his daughter’s medical treatment after she was diagnosed with cancer.

The Bengals have said Still is considering a one-year deal to play next year. 

Still’s No. 75 jersey quickly became the team’s top seller after the Bengals decided to donate proceeds from his jersey sales to the Children’s Hospital in Cincinnati and pediatric cancer care and research. More than $1 million have been raised from sales of the $100 jersey, according to the AP. 

Still has kept his followers updated on his daughter’s progress through social media.

 

 


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<![CDATA[New York Yankees Pay Homage to "The Sandlot" in New Ad]]> Wed, 25 Mar 2015 08:10:37 -0400 http://media.nbcnewyork.com/images/213*120/Brett-Gardner-Yankees-Rangers-0729.jpg

The New York Yankees are paying homage to classic baseball movie “The Sandlot” with a recreation of its famous Babe Ruth scene.

The ad, which stars Brett Gardner as the innocent Smalls who unknowingly plays with a ball signed by the legendary Ruth, was posted to MLB.com Tuesday.

C.C. Sabathia, Dellin Betances, Jacoby Ellsbury, Brian McCann and Didi Gregorius also make appearances in the spot.

Watch the video below:



Photo Credit: AP
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<![CDATA[Knicks' Quest for Elite Play-maker Has Been a Point-less Exercise]]> Fri, 27 Mar 2015 15:29:36 -0400 http://media.nbcnewyork.com/images/212*120/167372962.jpg

Between Steve Nash’s retirement announcement over the weekend and Chris Paul’s arrival in the Garden on Wednesday, you’ve got to be feeling some pain if you’re a Knicks fan.

Entering free agency in 2012, Nash said he’d love to play for the Knicks.

That never came close to materializing.

Two years earlier, Paul got up at Carmelo Anthony’s wedding, and in a toast, announced that he was ready to join Anthony and Amar’e Stoudemire with the Knicks. Paul's proposal was that they would be the answer to the newly-formed Big Three in Miami of LeBron James, Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh.

That never happened, either.

Nash, of course, went to the Lakers in July of 2012, where he could never stay healthy and bows out after a succession of devastating injuries that KO’d his Hall of Fame career.

Paul ended up getting traded twice, but never to the Knicks. The first time, he was sent by New Orleans to the Lakers, but that trade was over-ruled and rescinded by then-commissioner David Stern, as the NBA owned the Hornets at the time and made all of their personnel decisions. Paul wound up getting traded to L.A.’s other team, the Clippers, where he has them in contention to make a deep run in the playoffs.

The Knicks, meanwhile, are still looking for an All-Star caliber point guard to get them turned around and headed in the right direction. It’s up to Phil Jackson to find one, in the June draft or in free agency in July, but who’s to say the Zen Master will be able to bring the franchise an impact player at what has become a very essential position?

The list of Knicks executives who have struck out trying to find a difference-maker at playmaker is as long as Broadway. It goes back even before Dave Checketts, who oversaw the ’94 and ’99 Knicks teams that made the NBA Finals. After Checketts, there was Scott Layden and Isiah Thomas.

When Thomas made his signature trade soon into what would turn out to be a disastrous tenure running the team, he brought Stephon Marbury back home and proclaimed, “New York has always been a point guard town.’’

But in reality, the Knicks have been searching far and wide since the immortal Walt Frazier was traded off to Cleveland after leading the Knicks to their only two championships, and making the All-Star Game in seven consecutive seasons. Since Frazier’s brilliant run in the late 1960’s and 1970’s, the team has had only one point guard selected to play in an All-Star Game: Mark Jackson in 1989.

The Knicks got away with having some very good playmakers in the past, most notably Derek Harper in 1994. If Patrick Ewing and the Knicks had defeated the Hakeem Olajuwon-led Rockets in the '94 Finals, Harper probably would have won Finals MVP honors.

But the NBA has evolved in recent years, with fewer big men around to dominate and a few significant rules changes, most notably a ban on hand-checking, that favor perimeter players. Nowadays, it’s almost more critical to have a scoring playmaker who is quick enough to get his own shot than any other player.

That’s why Ohio State’s D’Angelo Russell is being viewed as a top pick in this year’s draft. Though only a freshman, he’s expected to declare for the pros. Even with Ohio State falling to Arizona in the NCAA Tournament last weekend, he has been getting rave reviews from scouts who love his talent, vision, quickness, ball-handling and passing, along with intangibles you can’t teach a player. As one NBA scout recently told me, “he’s got the “it-factor’’ going for him.’’

If the Knicks don’t get one of the top two picks in the draft, then they likely will find Russell still on the board. Jackson has scouted him in person, even drawing an undisclosed fine from the NBA for making some innocuous comments about him after watching him play in Columbus. But there’s no guarantee what Jackson will do or how good Russell can be

Chances are, he’s not going to be another Nash, who won back-to-back MVP awards for the Phoenix Suns. The only thing Nash didn’t manage to do was to take his team to a Finals. So he goes down with Ewing and other notable Hall of Famers, including Utah’s legendary playmaker, John Stockton, as players who left the game without a ring.

It’s even difficult to say if Russell can be another Paul, who has been having a terrific season, but whose playoff resume is almost as skimpy as Anthony's. Paul's playoff record stands at 21-32, and his teams have never advanced out of the second round. But Paul will get another shot this spring to see how far he can take the Clippers in his fourth straight playoff run for Los Angeles.

What has to kill Knicks fans all these years later is that Paul never made it to New York to play for the Knicks as part of a Big Three. Like so many other top players, when he comes to town, he only comes to visit.

Longtime New York columnist Mitch Lawrence continues to write about pro basketball, as he’s done for the last 22 years. His columns for NBCNewYork.com on the Knicks, Brooklyn Nets and the NBA, along with other major sports, will appear twice weekly. Follow him on Twitter
 



Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[NCAA 2015: Best Moments of the Women's Basketball Tournament]]> Tue, 31 Mar 2015 01:16:45 -0400 http://media.nbcnewyork.com/images/213*120/AP484474114950%281%29.jpg See the highlights, upsets, and dramatic finishes of the 2015 NCAA Women's Basketball tournament here.

Photo Credit: AP]]>