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NHL on Provorov: ‘Players are free to decide which initiatives to support’

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An executive with an LGBTQ advocacy group says he doesn’t want the actions of Ivan Provorov to overshadow all the good that’s happening in hockey.

Provorov didn’t warm up with his Flyers teammates on Tuesday night ahead of Philadelphia’s game against the Anaheim Ducks. The Flyers wore Pride-themed jerseys and used sticks wrapped in rainbow-coloured tape during the pre-game activities but Provorov, who is Russian Orthodox, said it was against his religious beliefs to support an LGBTQ initiative.

Kurt Weaver, the chief operating officer of the You Can Play Project, said his organization told concerned fans to “look at the sport that is there.”

“If you focus in on one item that’s not there, it’s going to be a tough day, no matter what you’re doing,” said Weaver. “Look at what’s happening. Look at the positive. Look at an arena full of people celebrating.

“A full team, coaching staff, and front office staff, who are supporting and celebrating outside of one individual. All I can ask you to do is focus on that part.”

The sticks and jerseys Provorov’s teammates used to warm up are being auctioned off by Flyers Charities, with proceeds going toward their efforts to grow the game in diverse communities.

Weaver said that the Flyers are one of the NHL’s leaders in terms of LGBTQ inclusivity.

“Let’s say it’s 20 years ago, I think we have at that point maybe three people who would wear Pride jerseys. So now we’re going to have 19 of 20 wearing them. (That’s) a huge amount of progress,” said Weaver. “I think for us to expect every player, every time, to do this is probably unrealistic.”

The 26-year-old Provorov played nearly 23 minutes in Philadelphia’s 5-2 victory over Anaheim. He explained after the game why he decided to not participate.

“I respect everybody’s choices,” said Provorov. “My choice is to stay true to myself and my religion. That’s all I’m going to say.”

Provorov declined to answer follow-up questions about his decision.

Flyers coach John Tortorella said Provorov “was true to himself and to his religion.”

“It’s one thing I respect about Provy, he’s always true to himself,” Tortorella said.

Russian Orthodox Patriarch Kirill, leader of Russia’s dominant religious group, sent a strong signal last March justifying his country’s invasion of Ukraine — describing the conflict as part of a struggle against sin and pressure from liberal foreigners to hold “gay parades” as the price of admission to their ranks.

The NHL issued a statement in response to Provorov’s boycott on Wednesday morning.

“Hockey is for Everyone is the umbrella initiative under which the league encourages clubs to celebrate the diversity that exists in their respective markets, and to work to achieve more welcoming and inclusive environments for all fans,” reads the NHL statement. “Clubs decide whom to celebrate, when and how — with league counsel and support.

“Players are free to decide which initiatives to support, and we continue to encourage their voices and perspectives on social and cultural issues.”

Weaver said that he understood the NHL’s position and that in some ways it dovetailed with the approach taken by the You Can Play Project.

“They take the same stance that we do, which is, ‘We’re going to work our butts off to make the case to you that this is the right thing to do, and that this is a good thing to do,'” said Weaver, who added that his organization reached out to the Flyers to offer Provorov or anyone else on the team education and support.

“Not everybody, of course, agrees with that, even when you make that case. That’s got to be reality.”

The NHL Player’s Association did not immediately reply to The Canadian Press’s request for comment.

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LeBron Saves Team USA in Thrilling Exhibition Against South Sudan at O2 Arena

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LONDON — In what could have been one of the most monumental upsets in international basketball history, Team USA narrowly escaped with a 101-100 victory over a spirited South Sudan team at the O2 Arena in London on Saturday night. This exhibition match, serving as a tune-up for the 2024 Olympics, showcased the rapid rise of South Sudanese basketball and the indomitable spirit of the American team led by LeBron James.

The atmosphere at the O2 Arena was electric, with fans witnessing a game that turned out to be far more competitive than expected. South Sudan, a team composed largely of refugees and players from the diaspora, pushed the heavily favored Americans to their limits.

First Half Highlights:

  • South Sudan came out firing on all cylinders, building a surprising 16-point lead in the second quarter.
  • Team USA struggled with their three-point shooting, missing 12 of their first 13 attempts from beyond the arc.

Despite the odds, South Sudan’s players, many of whom have overcome significant personal and professional challenges, played with remarkable cohesion and determination. Their performance was a testament to the rapid progress the team has made under the guidance of former NBA star Luol Deng.

With the game hanging in the balance, LeBron James demonstrated why he remains one of the greatest basketball players of all time. Benched at the start of the third quarter, James returned to the floor with a determination that was palpable.

Key Moments:

  • Third Quarter: Anthony Davis’ defensive prowess helped shrink the deficit. LeBron’s return brought stability and focus back to Team USA.
  • Final Minute: With just 20 seconds left, JT Thor of South Sudan scored over LeBron, giving his team a one-point lead.
  • Game-Winning Shot: LeBron drove to the basket, scoring the decisive layup with eight seconds remaining.

South Sudan’s journey to this point has been nothing short of inspirational. The country gained independence from Sudan in 2011, and the basketball program, still in its infancy, has quickly become a source of national pride.

Notable Contributions:

  • Carlik Jones: Delivered a triple-double with 15 points, 11 rebounds, and 11 assists.
  • Wenyen Gabriel: LeBron’s former teammate with the Lakers, contributed 11 points.
  • Marial Shayok: Led South Sudan with 24 points.

The team’s formation and rise have been spearheaded by Luol Deng, who played a pivotal role in recruiting and funding the program. His efforts have culminated in South Sudan qualifying for the Olympics, marking a historic achievement for the young nation.

Stephen Curry: “Wild game. They played really intense. It was nice to see how we responded. LeBron with a great finish down the stretch.”

Steve Kerr: “The whole team was embarrassed at halftime. We were challenged today, and it was good for us to feel that now. This was a reminder that we need to bring our best every game.”

Luol Deng: Expressed immense pride in his team’s performance, emphasizing the significance of their journey and the obstacles they have overcome.

This exhibition game was more than just a pre-Olympic warm-up. It highlighted the potential for underdog stories in sports and underscored the global reach and impact of basketball. Team USA, despite the narrow escape, was reminded of the importance of every game and the challenges that lie ahead.

South Sudan, on the other hand, has cemented its place on the international stage, showcasing that with determination and the right support, even the newest teams can compete with the best in the world.

As both teams prepare for the Olympics, this game at the O2 Arena will be remembered not only for its thrilling finish but also for the remarkable stories of resilience and ambition that played out on the court.

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UFC Vegas 94: Amanda Lemos vs. Virna Jandiroba – Main Event Recap

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In a thrilling main event at UFC Vegas 94, strawweights Amanda Lemos and Virna Jandiroba faced off on Saturday night. After an evenly matched first round, Jandiroba secured a dramatic submission victory in the second round, just moments before the bell.

Fight Summary:

  • First Round: The opening round was highly competitive, with both fighters showcasing their skills and maintaining a close contest.
  • Second Round: In the final seconds of the second round, Jandiroba managed to secure a submission, forcing Lemos to tap out. The win marks an impressive fourth consecutive victory for Jandiroba.

Post-Fight Remarks:

  • In her post-fight interview inside the Octagon, Jandiroba confidently called out UFC President Dana White, declaring, “Dana, I’m the next one. Dana, I’m your next champion.”

Future Implications:

  • With this victory, Jandiroba has positioned herself as a strong contender for the strawweight title. Tatiana Suarez, who was the rightful next contender for Weili Zhang, has been sidelined due to an injury. Jandiroba’s current four-fight win streak and her dominant performance at UFC Vegas 94 make a compelling case for her title shot.

Stay tuned for more updates as the UFC strawweight division continues to evolve, and see if Virna Jandiroba will indeed become the next challenger for the championship belt.

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Jake Paul vs. Mike Perry: Fight Night Updates

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Jake Paul is back in the ring, and he’s promising fireworks as he takes on former UFC star Mike Perry at the Amalie Arena in Tampa, Florida. The fight will be broadcast live on DAZN. Originally, Paul was set to fight Mike Tyson, but Perry stepped in after Tyson suffered an injury.

Fight Details:

Jake Paul (9-1, 6 KOs)

  • Paul is coming off a first-round TKO of Ryan Bourland in March.
  • He has promised that Perry won’t survive the second round.
  • Paul is more experienced in boxing but still relatively new to the sport.

Mike Perry (0-1)

  • Perry, known as “Platinum,” brings over a decade of fighting experience, mainly in MMA and bare-knuckle fighting.
  • He believes Paul is still green in the fight business and intends to use his experience to pull off an upset.

Main Event:
Jake Paul vs. Mike Perry

Live Updates: Follow DAZN for all the live updates, results, and highlights from the Paul vs. Perry pay-per-view main card.

Main Card Results:

Amanda Serrano def. Stevie Morgan via TKO

  • Round 2, 0:38
    • Watch the finish

Lucas Bahdi def. H20 Sylve via knockout

  • Round 6, 2:27
    • Watch the finish

Corey Marksman def. Tony Aguilar via majority decision

  • Scores: 76-76, 77-75, 78-74

Julio Cesar Chavez Jr. def. Uriah Hall via unanimous decision

  • Scores: 59-55, 59-55, 58-56
    • Recap

Stay tuned for the main event updates and see if Jake Paul can deliver on his promise of another highlight reel knockout or if Mike Perry will teach him a lesson and pull off a major upset.

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