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Hammon first woman to direct NBA team – TSN

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SAN ANTONIO — Becky Hammon became the first woman to direct an NBA team, taking over the San Antonio Spurs after coach Gregg Popovich was ejected in a 121-107 loss to LeBron James and the Los Angeles Lakers on Wednesday night.

James celebrated his 36th birthday with 26 points, eight assists and five rebounds in the Lakers’ third double-digit victory. The teams will compete the two-game set Friday night.

Popovich was ejected by official Tony Brown with 3:56 remaining in the second quarter. Popovich screamed at Brown and entered the court following a non-call on DeMar DeRozan’s attempted layup and a subsequent attempted rebound by Drew Eubanks. Popovich was applauded as he exited the court by several of the team’s family members in attendance.

Hammon took over the team’s huddles during timeouts and walked the sideline following Popovich’s ejection. Hammon was the first full-time female assistant coach in league history.

Tim Duncan took over last season when Popovich was ejected against Portland on Nov. 16, 2019. The Hall of Famer opted not to return as assistant this season.

A three-time All-American at Colorado State, Hammon played for the New York Liberty and San Antonio Stars in the WNBA as well as overseas before retiring to join Popovich’s staff in 2014.

The Lakers contributed to Popovich’s frustration and the Spurs’ fortunes didn’t get much better after the veteran coach exited.

Dennis Schroder had 21 points, Anthony Davis had 20 points and eight rebounds for the Lakers. Wesley Matthews was 6 for 6 on 3-pointers in scoring 18 points off the bench.

The Spurs opened the game on a 9-2 run, including an uncontested drive through the lane by Keldon Johnson for a two-handed slam. The Lakers responded with an 11-0 run that promoted a timeout by Popovich.

The Lakers took their first double-digit lead at 35-25 on Kyle Kuzma’s 3-pointer with 1:14 remaining in the first quarter.

Dejounte Murray had 29 points, seven assists and seven rebounds and DeRozan added 23 for the Spurs, who lost their second straight after opening the season with two consecutive wins.

TIP-INS

Lakers: PG Alex Caruso missed the game for “health and safety protocols” as mandated by the league. Lakers coach Frank Vogel did not elaborate on Caruso’s status. … James was listed as questionable after spraining his left ankle sprain in the Lakers’ 115-107 loss to Portland on Monday. James played 35 minutes against the Spurs after scoring 29 points in 36 minutes against the Trail Blazers.

Spurs: Popovich said the Spurs will monitor Aldridge’s knee soreness on a day-to-day basis.

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With key Maple Leafs injuries, Round 2 against Oilers is about depth – Sportsnet.ca

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The day after a defensive battle between the Edmonton Oilers and Toronto Maple Leafs, Oilers head coach Dave Tippett had this to say about the game and the reaction to it from fans and media:

“It’s almost funny to me how everybody talked all summer about Toronto and Edmonton have to defend better and then Toronto and Edmonton actually defend well, and now they think it’s a bad hockey game. It just baffles me sometimes hearing what’s going on.”

A well played hockey game, sure. An exciting one for the fans watching at home — not so much.

Fans like goals and chances and at the NHL level, both are usually born from mistakes. There weren’t many in Wednesday’s 3-1 Oilers win. To Tippett’s point, mistake-free hockey hasn’t exactly been a hallmark of the Oilers’ or Maple Leafs’ game — two teams that rely on their offensive firepower to cover up any defensive deficiencies.

Well, both teams defended really well on Wednesday — the kind of game most coaches love and fans…less so.

The game had all the ingredients for an offensive slugfest with plenty of fire-power on both sides. In the end, it proved to be a defensive battle with few scoring chances and even fewer goals. A cautious start to the season series between two of the NHL’s most potent offences, but also the type of game both teams need to be able to win in order to take the next step in their quest to become Stanley Cup contenders.

All eyes were on Connor McDavid and Auston Matthews ahead of the highly anticipated match-up and Maple Leafs head coach, Sheldon Keefe, did his part by matching Matthews’ line against McDavid’s for most of the night. In the 12-plus minutes McDavid and Matthews went head-to-head at five-on-five, they played each other pretty even with Matthews providing the only goal while on the ice against each other.

Both players had a point in the game and led their respective teams in offensive zone puck possession and shots on goal from the slot. McDavid led the Oilers with 11 controlled zone entries and Matthews ranked second on his team to Ilya Mikheyev with six. The two superstars put up the type of underlying numbers we’d expect from them, but beyond that, there was little offence created in the game.

Matthews said his team “definitely has to do a better job of creating offence” and he’s right. The Maple Leafs were limited to a season low number of shots from the slot and the inner slot, where roughly 50 per cent of goals are scored year-over-year.

The Oilers finished the game with their second-lowest shot total from the slot this season (13). However, eight of those shots came from that high-danger inner slot area including both of their non-empty net goals. As with most games, the team that wins the shot battle from this location will likely be the team that wins the game.

So, should we expect more of the same in the rematch Friday night? Not necessarily. While both teams played well defensively on Wednesday, goaltending has not been a strength for either so far early in the season. The odds of both of these teams combining for less than 25 slot shots again, as they did on Wednesday, are slim considering each team averaged nearly 20 per-game entering their first meeting of the season.

James Neal will likely make his season debut tonight after skating on a line with Josh Archibald and Devin Shore at practice Friday. Neal also took reps on the Oilers’ top power play unit which has stumbled out of the game, going 3-for-21 to start the season. Neal has the ability to make an immediate impact as he scored seven goals in his first five games last season, with five coming on the power play.

Joe Thornton left Wednesday’s game with an injury and is going to miss at least four weeks. Matthews will also miss Friday’s game with a minor upper body injury. This means that John Tavares’ line becomes the de facto top line for Toronto — one perfectly capable of going punch-for-punch with any top line in the league, including Edmonton’s.

This makes the battle of the middle-six lines even more important — one the Oilers won handily Wednesday night.

Kailer Yamamoto scored the Oilers’ only five-on-five goal of the game and his line (Yamamoto-Leon Draisaitl-Dominik Kahun), along with the line of Devin Shore, Alex Chiasson and Josh Archibald didn’t allow a single shot on goal from the slot in their combined 17:55 of ice-time at five-on-five. That’s music to Tippett’s ears and nails on a chalkboard to Keefe.

If the top lines draw even, as they often do, the game will likely be decided by which team wins the depth battle. The Oilers may be getting a bump there if Neal does suit up and the Maple Leafs will be taking a hit as two-thirds of their top line will be missing, forcing line changes to their forward group.

For fans on both sides, here’s hoping Round 2 of this battle is a little less rope-a-dope and a bit more of a slugfest.

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One-time home-run king Hank Aaron dead at 86 – CBC.ca

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Hank Aaron, who endured racist threats with stoic dignity during his pursuit of Babe Ruth’s home run record and gracefully left his mark as one of baseball’s greatest all-around players, died Friday. He was 86.

Atlanta, Aaron’s longtime team, said he died peacefully in his sleep. No cause was given.

Aaron made his last public appearance just two-and-a-half weeks ago, when he received the COVID-19 vaccine. He said he wanted to help spread word to Black Americans that the vaccine was safe.

“Hammerin’ Hank” set a wide array of career hitting records during a 23-year career spent mostly with the Milwaukee and Atlanta, including RBIs, extra-base hits and total bases.

His most memorable swing

But the Hall of Famer will be remembered for one swing above all others, the one that made him baseball’s home run king.

It was a title he would be hold for more than 33 years, a period in which the Hammer slowly but surely claimed his rightful place as one of America’s most iconic sporting figures, a true national treasure worthy of mention in the same breath with Ruth or Ali or Jordan.

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Before a sellout crowd at Atlanta Stadium and a national television audience, Aaron broke Ruth’s home run record with No. 715 off Al Downing of the Los Angeles Dodgers.

The Hall of Famer finished his career with 755, a total surpassed by Barry Bonds in 2007 — though many continued to call the Hammer the true home run king because of allegations that Bonds used performance-enhancing drugs.

Bonds finished his tarnished career with 762, though Aaron never begrudged someone eclipsing his mark.

His common refrain: More than three decades as the king was long enough. It was time for someone else to hold the record.

But no one could take away his legacy.

“I just tried to play the game the way it was supposed to be played,” Aaron said, summing it up better than anyone.

He wasn’t on hand when Bonds hit No. 756, but he did tape a congratulatory message that was shown on the video board in San Francisco shortly after the new record-holder went deep.

While saddened by claims of rampant steroid use in baseball in the late 1990s and early 2000s, Aaron never challenged those marks set by players who may have taken pharmaceutical short cuts.

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Besides, he always had that April night in 1974.

“Downing was more of a finesse pitcher,” Aaron remembered shortly before the 30th anniversary of the landmark homer. “I guess he was trying to throw me a screwball or something. Whatever it was, I got enough of it.”

Aaron endured abuse, racism

Aaron’s journey to that memorable homer was hardly pleasant.

He was the target of extensive hate mail as he closed in on Ruth’s cherished record of 714, much of it sparked by the fact that Ruth was white and Aaron was Black.

“If I was white, all America would be proud of me,” Aaron said almost a year before he passed Ruth. “But I am Black.”

We’re a different country now. You’ve given us far more than we’ll ever give you.– Bill Clinton, former U.S. president 

Aaron was shadowed constantly by bodyguards and forced to distance himself from teammates.

He kept all those hateful letters, a bitter reminder of the abuse he endured and never forgot.

“It’s very offensive,” he once said. “They call me ‘n—–‘ and every other bad word you can come up with. You can’t ignore them. They are here. But this is just the way things are for Black people in America. It’s something you battle all of your life.”

After retiring in 1976, Aaron became a revered, almost mythical figure, even though he never pursued the spotlight.

He was thrilled when the U.S. elected its first African-American president, Barack Obama, in 2008. Former president Bill Clinton credited Aaron with helping carve a path of racial tolerance that made Obama’s victory possible.

“We’re a different country now,” Clinton said at a 75th birthday celebration for Aaron. “You’ve given us far more than we’ll ever give you.”

Aaron spent 21 of his 23 seasons with the Braves, first in Milwaukee, then in Atlanta after the franchise moved to the Deep South in 1966. He finished his career back in Milwaukee, traded to the Brewers after the 1974 season when he refused to take a front-office job that would have required a big pay cut.

Feared hitter, gifted fielder

While knocking the ball over the fence became his signature accomplishment, the Hammer was hardly a one-dimensional star. In fact, he never hit more than 47 homers in a season (though he did have eight years with at least 40 dingers).

But it can be argued that no one was so good, for so long, at so many facets of the national pastime.

The long ball was only part of his arsenal.

Aaron was a true five-tool star.

He posted 14 seasons with a .300 average — the last of them at age 39 — and claimed two National League (NL) batting titles. He finished with a career average of .305.

Aaron also was a gifted outfielder with a powerful arm, something often overlooked because of a smooth, effortless stride that his critics — with undoubtedly racist overtones — mistook for nonchalance. He was a three-time Gold Glove winner.

Then there was his work on the base paths. Aaron posted seven seasons with more than 20 stolen bases, including a career-best of 31 in 1963 when became only the third member of the 30-30 club — players who have totalled at least 30 homers and 30 steals in a season.

To that point, the feat had only been accomplished by Ken Williams (1922) and Willie Mays (1956 and ’57).

Six-feet tall and listed at 180 pounds during the prime of his career, Aaron was hardly an imposing player physically. But he was blessed with powerful wrists that made him one of the game’s most feared hitters.

‘A quiet superstar’

Hall of Famer Mike Schmidt described Aaron as “an unassuming, easygoing man, a quiet superstar, that a ’70s player like me emulated.”

“He was one of my heroes as a kid, and will always be an icon of the baby boomer generation,” Schmidt said. “In fact, if you weigh all the elements involved and compare the game fairly, his career will never be topped.”

Aaron hit 733 homers with the Braves, the last in his final plate appearance with the team, a liner down the left field line off Cincinnati’s Rawley Eastwick on Oct. 2, 1974. Exactly one month later, he was dealt to the Brewers for outfielder Dave May and minor league pitcher Roger Alexander.

The Braves made it clear they no longer wanted Aaron, then 40, returning for another season on the field. They offered him a front office job for $50,000 a year, about $150,000 less than his playing salary.

“Titles?” he said at the time. “Can you spend titles at the grocery store? Executive vice-president, assistant to the executive vice-president, what does it mean if it doesn’t pay good money? I might become a janitor for big money.”

Aaron became a designated hitter with the Brewers, but hardly closed his career with a flourish. He managed just 22 homers over his last two seasons, going out with a .229 average in 1976.

Standing the test of time

Even so, his career numbers largely stood the test of time.

Aaron still has more RBIs (2,297), extra-base hits (1,477) and total bases (6,856) than anyone in baseball history. He ranks second in at-bats (12,354), third in games played (3,298) and hits (3,771), fourth in runs scored (tied with Ruth at 2,174) and 13th in doubles (624).

“I feel like that home run I hit is just part of what my story is all about,” Aaron said.

While Aaron hit at least 20 homers in 20 consecutive seasons, he was hardly swinging for the fences. He just happened to hit a lot of balls that went over the fence.

Through his career, Aaron averaged just 63 strikeouts a season. He never whiffed even 100 times in a year — commonplace for hitters these days — and posted a career on-base percentage of .374.

He was NL MVP in 1957, when the Milwaukee Braves beat the New York Yankees in seven games to give Aaron the only World Series title of his career. It also was his lone MVP award, though he finished in the top 10 of the balloting 13 times.

Aaron also was selected for the All-Star Game 21 consecutive years — every season but his first and his last.

His only regret was failing to capture the Triple Crown. Aaron led the NL in homers and RBIs four times each, to go with those two batting crowns. But he never put together all three in the same season, coming closest in 1963 when he led the league in homers (44) and RBIs (130) but finished third in hitting (.319) behind Tommy Davis of the Dodgers with a .326 average.

“Other than that,” Aaron said, “everything else was completed.”

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Hall of Famer, Braves legend Hank Aaron dies at age 86 – Sportsnet.ca

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ATLANTA — Hank Aaron, who endured racist threats with stoic dignity during his pursuit of Babe Ruth’s home run record and gracefully left his mark as one of baseball’s greatest all-around players, died Friday. He was 86.

The Atlanta Braves, Aaron’s longtime team, said he died peacefully in his sleep. No cause was given.

Aaron made his last public appearance just 2 1/2 weeks ago, when he received the COVID-19 vaccine. He said he wanted to help spread the to Black Americans that the vaccine was safe.

“Hammerin’ Hank” set a wide array of career hitting records during a 23-year career spent mostly with the Milwaukee and Atlanta Braves, including RBIs, extra-base hits and total bases.

But the Hall of Famer will be remembered for one swing above all others, the one that made him baseball’s home-run king.

It was a title he would be hold for more than 33 years, a period in which the Hammer slowly but surely claimed his rightful place as one of America’s most iconic sporting figures, a true national treasure worthy of mention in the same breath with Ruth or Ali or Jordan.

Before a sellout crowd at Atlanta Stadium and a national television audience, Aaron broke Ruth’s home run record with No. 715 off Al Downing of the Los Angeles Dodgers.

The Hall of Famer finished his career with 755, a total surpassed by Barry Bonds in 2007 — though many continued to call the Hammer the true home run king because of allegations that Bonds used performance-enhancing drugs.

Bonds finished his tarnished career with 762, though Aaron never begrudged someone eclipsing his mark.

His common refrain: More than three decades as the king was long enough. It was time for someone else to hold the record.

No one could take away his legacy.

“I just tried to play the game the way it was supposed to be played,” Aaron said, summing it up better than anyone.

He wasn’t on hand when Bonds hit No. 756, but he did tape a congratulatory message that was shown on the video board in San Francisco shortly after the new record-holder went deep. While saddened by claims of rampant steroid use in baseball in the late 1990s and early 2000s, Aaron never challenged those marks set by players who may have taken pharmaceutical short cuts.

Besides, he always had that April night in 1974.

“Downing was more of a finesse pitcher,” Aaron remembered shortly before the 30th anniversary of the landmark homer. “I guess he was trying to throw me a screwball or something. Whatever it was, I got enough of it.”

Aaron’s journey to that memorable homer was hardly pleasant. He was the target of extensive hate mail as he closed in on Ruth’s cherished record of 714, much of it sparked by the fact Ruth was white and Aaron was black.

“If I was white, all America would be proud of me,” Aaron said almost a year before he passed Ruth. “But I am black.”

Aaron was shadowed constantly by bodyguards and forced to distance himself from teammates. He kept all those hateful letters, a bitter reminder of the abuse he endured and never forgot.

“It’s very offensive,” he once said. “They call me `nigger’ and every other bad word you can come up with. You can’t ignore them. They are here. But this is just the way things are for black people in America. It’s something you battle all of your life.”

After retiring in 1976, Aaron became a revered, almost mythical figure, even though he never pursued the spotlight. He was thrilled when the U.S. elected its first African-American president, Barack Obama, in 2008. Former President Bill Clinton credited Aaron with helping carve a path of racial tolerance that made Obama’s victory possible.

“We’re a different country now,” Clinton said at a 75th birthday celebration for Aaron. “You’ve given us far more than we’ll ever give you.”

Aaron spent 21 of his 23 seasons with the Braves, first in Milwaukee, then in Atlanta after the franchise moved to the Deep South in 1966. He finished his career back in Milwaukee, traded to the Brewers after the 1974 season when he refused to take a front-office job that would have required a big pay cut.

While knocking the ball over the fence became his signature accomplishment, the Hammer was hardly a one-dimensional star. In fact, he never hit more than 47 homers in a season (though he did have eight years with at least 40 dingers).

But it can be argued that no one was so good, for so long, at so many facets of the national pastime.

The long ball was only part of his arsenal.

Aaron was a true five-tool star.

He posted 14 seasons with a .300 average — the last of them at age 39 — and claimed two National League batting titles. He finished with a career average of .305.

Aaron also was a gifted outfielder with a powerful arm, something often overlooked because of a smooth, effortless stride that his critics — with undoubtedly racist overtones — mistook for nonchalance. He was a three-time Gold Glove winner.

Then there was his work on the base paths. Aaron posted seven seasons with more than 20 stolen bases, including a career-best of 31 in 1963 when became only the third member of the 30-30 club — players who have totalled at least 30 homers and 30 steals in a season.

To that point, the feat had only been accomplished by Ken Williams (1922) and Willie Mays (1956 and ’57).

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