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Why the Nets hired Steve Nash

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Steve Nash is the new head coach of the Brooklyn Nets

This came out of nowhere. As a player, Nash’s credentials are unassailable. He’s a Hall of Fame point guard, a two-time NBA MVP and the greatest Canadian basketball player of all time. But he has zero experience coaching a team. And, until he took the Nets job today, there was no indication that anyone was interested in hiring him for such a role. No leaks, no rumours, no reports… nothing.

Now, to everyone’s surprise, the 46-year-old from Victoria finds himself in charge of one of the NBA’s most interesting teams, located in the league’s biggest media market, after Brooklyn gave him a four-year deal to become its new head coach. “Coaching is something I knew I wanted to pursue when the time was right, and I am humbled to be able to work with the outstanding group of players and staff we have here in Brooklyn,” Nash said in a statement.

The Nets may not have looked like much during their first-round playoff sweep at the hands of the Raptors, but they should be a completely different team next season. Kevin Durant will finally put on a Brooklyn uniform after taking an entire season off to recover from the torn Achilles he suffered in last year’s NBA Finals with Golden State. It’s possible Durant’s best days are behind him (he turns 32 this month) but the former MVP is one of the best scorers in basketball history. The Nets should also get more out of last summer’s other big free-agent acquisition, Kyrie Irving. The high-scoring guard played only 20 games this season and did not appear in the playoffs. Despite all that, Brooklyn’s supporting cast was deep enough to post a respectable 35-37 record — good for seventh in the mushy Eastern Conference.

So it’s clear what Nash sees in the Nets. But what might they see in him? There’s the splashiness of the move, and the fact that Nash’s stature as an all-time great player should command respect from Brooklyn’s stars. Besides that, the obvious connection is that general manager Sean Marks played with Nash in Phoenix in the mid-2000s. He “witnessed firsthand [Nash’s] basketball acumen and selfless approach to prioritize team success,” Marks said in a statement today. Reportedly, Marks was also drawn to Nash because of his relationship with Durant — established during Nash’s stint as a part-time player-development consultant with the Warriors. Durant and Irving are both known for their difficult personalities, and this is the player-empowerment era, so it’s reasonable to assume they signed off on this move.

The Nash hire also has some definite Steve Kerr vibes. Though nowhere near the player Nash was, Kerr established a high profile during his days as a key role player with Michael Jordan’s Bulls teams. Like Nash, he was highly respected, well-liked and considered a good communicator when Golden State decided to hire him with no coaching experience in 2014. Kerr helped unlock the Warriors’ vast potential, and they went on to win three of the next five NBA titles while also reaching the Finals in the other two years.

Another thing Nash and Kerr have in common is that they’re both white guys who replaced experienced Black coaches. In Nash’s case, he bumped Jacque Vaughn from interim head coach back to assistant. As the New York Times’ Marc Stein points out, this leaves only five Black head coaches in a league where roughly 80 per cent of the players are Black. That’s concerning, especially in the wake of last week’s NBA-wide walkout in protest of systemic racism in the broader society.

One more angle on the Nash move: what does this mean for the Canadian men’s national team? Nash served as the general manager from 2012-2019 — a time during which a bumper crop of young Canadian talent entered the NBA. Hopes are high that, if there’s an Olympics next summer, and if NBA players participate, the team can not only qualify for the first time since Nash dragged them to the quarter-finals in 2000, but even contend for a medal. Last year, Nash handed the GM reins to Rowan Barrett and slid into an advisory role. It’s unclear whether he’ll continue with that after taking on his extremely demanding new job in Brooklyn. Read more about the Nets’ stunning move to hire Nash here.

WATCH | CBC Sports basketball analyst Jevohn Shepherd discusses Steve Nash hire:

CBC Sports basketball analyst Jevohn Shepherd joins Anson Henry to discuss Steve Nash’s new position with the Nets. 3:54

Another young Canadian NBA player had a breakthrough moment

It’s not on the level of Jamal Murray’s recent scoring barrage, but Lu Dort dropped a career-high 30 points to lead all scorers in a clutch Game 7 performance for Oklahoma City last night. The high-energy rookie from Montreal, who averaged only 6.8 points in the regular season, hit six of his 12 three-point attempts and also helped limit Houston superstar James Harden to an uncharacteristically low 17 points. However, Harden got the last laugh when he blocked Dort’s three-point try with 4.8 seconds left and the Rockets went on to win 104-102. Read more about the game and watch highlights here.

With Dort and OKC teammate Shai Gilgeous-Alexander now eliminated (SGA scored 19 last night and averaged 16.3 in the series), only three Canadians remain in the NBA playoffs who have seen playing time: Murray, Miami’s Kelly Olynyk and Toronto’s Chris Boucher. Olynyk had 11 points and five rebounds last night to help Miami take a stunning 2-0 lead on top-seeded Milwaukee in their second-round series. Murray and the Denver Nuggets open their series vs. the L.A. Clippers tonight at 9 p.m. ET. Boucher’s Raptors, who have played him only 31 minutes in the playoffs, will try to climb out of their 2-0 hole vs. Boston at 6:30 p.m. ET.

Nathan MacKinnon continues to amaze

With a gorgeous assist…

 

 

… and the clinching empty-net goal in Colorado’s elimination-avoiding 4-1 win over Dallas last night, the NHL’s hottest player now has at least one point in all 14 of his playoff games this year. That ties Bobby Orr (1970) and Mark Messier (1988) for the second-longest scoring streak ever to open a post-season. Only Brian Trottier (18 games in ’81) has gone longer. Eight of MacKinnon’s games have been multi-point efforts, and he now has 25 points. That’s five more than anyone else in this year’s playoffs and already two more than anyone had in *all of last year’s playoffs.* That’s right. And MacKinnon might still have two more full rounds to go. But first, he and the Avs will have to win Game 7 vs. Dallas tomorrow.

For more on MacKinnon and his also-brilliant teammate Cale Makar, who has already broken the record for points by a rookie defenceman in the post-season with 15, watch Rob Pizzo’s two-minute recap of last night’s NHL action.

Tonight brings us a pair of Game 6s. Philadelphia hopes to again avoid elimination by the Islanders at 7 p.m. ET, and Vancouver will try to do the same vs. Vegas at 9:45 p.m. ET.

Quickly…

Canada suffered its first losses at the U.S. Open. The lone Canadian in the women’s singles draw is out after Leylah Annie Fernandez fell in straight sets to No. 2 seed Sofia Kenin today. The outlook is better on the men’s side, where 12th-seeded Denis Shapovalov advanced to the third round last night and either Milos Raonic or Vasek Pospisil will join him. It’ll come at the expense of the other guy, though, as they’re playing each other this afternoon. Tonight, No. 15 seed Felix Auger-Aliassime faces former world No. 1 Andy Murray, who’s slipped to 115th in the twilight of his career. In non-Canadian news, women’s top seed Karolina Pliskova lost to 50th-ranked Caroline Garcia yesterday.

Brazil’s soccer federation says it’s going to pay its women’s national team players the same as the men. This is a pretty big deal, considering how revered the men’s team is in the soccer-crazed country and how rare the move is. Of the 159 countries playing women’s soccer under the FIFA umbrella, only seven have equal-pay agreements. The others are Australia, England, Fiji, Finland, New Zealand and Norway. The Canadian and (famously) U.S. women’s teams don’t have such a deal with their federations, though they both negotiated agreements that include other considerations such as subsidies for players’ salaries in the National Women’s Soccer League. The Canadian team, which has won back-to-back Olympic bronze medals, also receives funding from the Own the Podium program. The issue of equal pay for national soccer teams is perhaps more complex than it seems on the surface, but Brazil’s move is a sign that times may be changing and other countries might have to adjust. Read more about why Brazil’s equal-pay deal matters in this piece by CBC Sports’ Signa Butler.

Tom Seaver died. One of the greatest pitchers of all time, Tom Terrific was perhaps best known for having the highest percentage of Hall of Fame votes (98.84 per cent in 1982) until Ken Griffey Jr., Mariano Rivera and Derek Jeter surpassed him over the last five years. A power pitcher with the personality to match, Seaver was the 1967 National League rookie of the year and went on to win three Cy Young awards — all with the New York Mets between 1969 and ’75. He was the ace of the famed ’69 Miracle Mets team that rolled to a surprising World Series title after the franchise finished at or near the bottom of the NL for the previous seven seasons of its existence. That same year, Seaver was the opposing starter for the inaugural Montreal Expos game on April 8. Seaver also played for Cincinnati and the Chicago White Sox before ending his career at age 42 with the doomed ’86 Boston Red Sox. He was the Opening Day starter, but a knee injury kept him from appearing in the post-season, where Boston would blow Game 6 and 7 of the World Series against the Mets after Bill Buckner’s infamous error at first base. Seaver was 75. Read more about his life and career here.

Source: – CBC.ca

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Lightning’s Steven Stamkos ruled out for remainder of Stanley Cup Final – Sportsnet.ca

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EDMONTON — The only way we’ll see Steven Stamkos return to the Stanley Cup Final is if the Tampa Bay Lightning are able to finish the job without him.

The hard-luck captain was officially ruled out of the series by the Lightning on Sunday morning, but could still be called on to accept the Stanley Cup from NHL commissioner Gary Bettman.

“Hopefully the next time we see him on the ice is during a trophy presentation,” said Lightning head coach Jon Cooper.

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No team has won the Stanley Cup without its captain in the lineup since the 1936-37 Detroit Red Wings, who were without Doug Young. The Boston Bruins did not have a designated captain in 1970 and 1972, but Johnny Bucyk accepted the trophy both years and played in the clinching game.

Stamkos has been battling an undisclosed injury throughout these playoffs. He made an emotional return for Game 3 of the Cup Final against the Dallas Stars and scored a beautiful goal, but was unable to play after the first period that night.

The 30-year-old saw a total of five shifts while spending nine weeks inside the NHL bubble rehabbing.

“He gamed it out,” said Cooper. “To be honest I didn’t think he was playing at all in these playoffs. I don’t think any of us did. So he gave us 2:47 of brilliant hockey, that’s a phenomenal story.

“He scored a huge goal for us in a win.”

The Lightning hold a 3-2 series lead over Dallas entering Game 6 on Monday.

Stamkos is the longest-tenured member of the organization and has endured a difficult run of injuries throughout his career. A broken leg saw him miss the chance to play for Team Canada at the 2014 Sochi Olympics and blood clots forced him out of all but one game of Tampa’s 2016 run to the Eastern Conference Final.

He had a 15-game points streak going when he got injured on Feb. 25 this season. That was followed by core muscle surgery on March 2. Stamkos appeared to be on the mend while participating in training camp following the COVID-19 pause, but he suffered some kind of setback that kept him out until the brief, memorable appearance in this Stanley Cup Final.

“He did everything he could to get back, and he did get back, and unfortunately he couldn’t go any further,” said Cooper.

From the Stanley Cup Qualifiers to the Stanley Cup Final, livestream every game of the 2020 Stanley Cup Playoffs, blackout-free, on Sportsnet NOW.

It’s been a difficult journey.

Stamkos was clearly moved after being called out to join Victor Hedman, Ryan McDonagh and Alex Killorn in accepting the Prince of Wales Trophy last round and sounded emotional after scoring against Dallas in the Game 3 win.

He remained on the bench throughout that game, and tested his skating stride during a couple television timeouts, but didn’t play for the final 46 minutes. He gave everything he could.

“I’ve watched these guys be so committed to what our end goal is, and to be part of it tonight, it was a dream come true and I’m so proud of these guys,” Stamkos said that night. “And to be able to share that moment with them and just even be on the bench and watch how well we played tonight, I have told these guys before: It’s inspiring.

“It was great to be part of.”

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Dana White reveals who’s next for Israel Adesanya and Jan Blachowicz – MMA Fighting

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Israel Adesanya was dazzling in his title defense and Jan Blachowicz cemented himself as the new light heavyweight champion as the UFC 253 main and co-main events both ended in dramatic fashion.

While Adesanya and Blachowicz will undoubtedly enjoy their victories with a well-deserved post-fight celebration, it didn’t take long for the subject of their next fight to be raised on Saturday night.

In fact, it was Adesanya himself who made the call about the top contender in the middleweight division. He immediately turned his attention to Jared Cannonier, who’s been on his radar for the past year.

Cannonier is currently preparing for a showdown with former champion Robert Whittaker at UFC 254 in October. If he’s victorious, Cannonier should expect his next fight to come against Adesanya with the middleweight title up for grabs.

“That’s the fight if Cannonier wins,” UFC president Dana White confirmed at the UFC 253 post fight press conference. “And I love that about Israel. He’s ready for who’s next, who else thinks they can beat me. The kid is an absolute stud.”

Adesanya will undoubtedly be keeping a close eye on Cannonier’s fight in just a few weeks to see if his next opponent is secured or not.

Things aren’t quite as clear cut at light heavyweight, but there are only a few options that make sense for Blachowicz after he dispatched Dominick Reyes in impressive fashion to claim the vacant title.

The Polish veteran made it clear just after the belt was wrapped around his waist that he would like to cement his championship status by facing Jon Jones, who vacated the belt just recently with the intention of moving up to the heavyweight division.

Jones even went as far as hinting on Twitter that perhaps he could return to 205 pounds now that a challenger like Blachowicz exists for him but obviously nothing is set in stone at this point.

The other fight that could determine the next contender for the light heavyweight title will take place on Nov. 7 when Thiago Santos goes to battle with Glover Teixeira.

White confirmed the winner of that fight would earn the next crack at the new 205-pound champion unless Jones really did decide he wanted to return to his old stomping grounds.

“Those are the guys that are fighting for the next shot,” White said about Santos vs. Teixeira. “But obviously if Jon Jones wanted that fight, we wouldn’t deny Jon Jones the opportunity.”

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Stamkos out for remainder of playoffs – TSN

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Tampa Bay Lightning head coach Jon Cooper said forward Steven Stamkos will not return in the Stanley Cup Playoffs. “Hopefully next time we see him on the ice is during the trophy presentation,” Cooper said.

The 30-year-old returned to the Lightning lineup for the first time since February in Game 3 and scored a goal, but only had five shifts, playing just 2:47.

Stamkos skated off gingerly at the end of his final shift in the first period and was not on the bench for the start of the second. He returned to the bench and took a few twirls to test out the injury but did not return and was deemed “unfit to play” for Game 4.

Stamkos, who last played Feb. 25, had surgery in early March and aggravated the injury at least once over the summer.

Tampa Bay leads the series 3-2.

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