Sports

Dunking hurts: Why players hate — and love — the NBA’s greatest feat
Sports

Dunking hurts: Why players hate — and love — the NBA’s greatest feat

The dunk is basketball’s most lionized play. The most iconic ones are canonized, referenced fondly and often, debated for their merits and significance. The sport’s language has created so many names for it: jam, yam, slam, poster, stuff, hammer. It’s a unique club that only few on this world can join. It’s marvelous.And it hurts like hell.“Can you think of any other concept where your hand swings at something metal?” 11-year NBA veteran Austin Rivers asks. “It’ll probably hurt, yeah?”When asked, players catalog the pain dunking has caused: broken nails; bent fingers; recent bruises; lasting scars; midair collisions; twisted necks; dangerous landings. Injuries that cost them games or even seasons.Derrick Jones Jr., a former NBA All-Star Weekend dunk contest winner now with the Dallas Maver...
Golf with a purpose: How The Park dared to be different
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Golf with a purpose: How The Park dared to be different

WEST PALM BEACH, Fla. — It’s lunchtime on a mid-November Saturday afternoon and the word of the day is eclectic. I’ve just finished my morning round at The Park with a three-putt for par on the forgiving 18th hole, and I saddle up at the cabana, the bar/small bites stand strategically located at the front of the property.A foursome that was a few holes ahead of me is heading off to their vehicles — while allowing for their anonymity, let’s just say they can be members anywhere they want to be in the golf-rich West Palm Beach/Jupiter area. Making the turn to the back nine are the bros wanting to chase down their transfusions with High Noons. Though they represent very different ends of the Saturday golfer spectrum, you recognize both groups as what a golfer “looks” like.But the cabana occup...
No Hit League? The ‘lost art’ of body checking in the NHL
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No Hit League? The ‘lost art’ of body checking in the NHL

Seventeen years and more than 1,200 games ago, Andrew Cogliano remembers how difficult it was to traverse the state of California.The Los Angeles Kings, Anaheim Ducks and San Jose Sharks were three of the biggest, heaviest teams in the league. If you had to play all three in succession? Well, good luck. Not only were those teams willing to play a punishing brand of hockey, but they were all highly skilled and generally successful, too.After a few years in Edmonton where he broke into the league, Cogliano was dealt to the Ducks as a free agent in the summer of 2011 and was part of a team that qualified for the playoffs in six straight seasons from 2012-13 through 2017-18. Those California road trips became regular intrastate battles. And they were vicious.“My first couple years in Anaheim, ...
NFL Power Rankings Week 16: 49ers, Ravens on top, plus a surprise from every team
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NFL Power Rankings Week 16: 49ers, Ravens on top, plus a surprise from every team

We’re coming down the stretch of the NFL season, and the playoff seedings and Power Rankings are starting to sort themselves out, but that doesn’t mean there haven’t been some surprises along the way. Today, we’re going to look at one surprising aspect of each team’s season.And then we’re going to start looking forward to a No. 1 vs. No. 2 matchup in Week 16 of the season.(Last week: 1)Sunday: Beat Arizona Cardinals 45-29Surprise: Brock PurdyWe’ve let all the talk about whether the second-year quarterback is a top-10 quarterback in the league or even possibly the MVP obscure what remains at its heart the most remarkable story in the league. Purdy, the last pick of the 2022 draft, is now 16-3 as a starting quarterback. His passer rating (119) and expected points added per dropback (.32) lea...
Sean Payton’s flare-up at Russell Wilson puts coach-QB relationship back in spotlight
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Sean Payton’s flare-up at Russell Wilson puts coach-QB relationship back in spotlight

(Editor’s note: This is excerpted from Mike Sando’s Pick Six of Dec. 18, 2023.)Sean Payton blasting quarterback Russell Wilson on the sideline, then suggesting he was merely upset about officiating, invited all sorts of speculation.It’s hard to fault Payton for losing his cool when officials wiped out a Broncos touchdown with an offensive offside call that seemed indefensible. As one former head coach put it, officials have “lost their minds” searching for penalties associated with Philadelphia’s tush-push plays.It’s just difficult to understand why Payton would funnel any of that rage toward his quarterback.GO DEEPERSean Payton downplays sideline flare up with Russell WilsonThe nature of Payton’s relationship with Wilson faded into the background during a five-game winning streak fueled b...
Alcoholism, ayahuasca and the enlightenment of an NFL player
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Alcoholism, ayahuasca and the enlightenment of an NFL player

LAUDERDALE-BY-THE-SEA, Fla. — The Buffalo Bills have a new safety this season.He sometimes plays close to the line of scrimmage, even lining up in the gaps and banging helmets with interior linemen. They use him as a hybrid linebacker in a three-safety dime package. He has played free safety, strong safety, outside cornerback, inside cornerback, left linebacker and right linebacker. And more.Physically and mentally, he is being challenged, but he’s grateful, content and all in.The Bills’ new safety is Jordan Poyer. It’s the same Jordan Poyer who played for the team the previous six seasons, the only player in the NFL to have 500 or more tackles, 20 or more interceptions and 10 or more sacks in that time frame, a Bills captain for the fourth time, an Ed Block Courage Award winner in 2017, a...
Jesse Lingard is a non-footballing footballer – he won’t be the last
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Jesse Lingard is a non-footballing footballer – he won’t be the last

It’s Jesse Lingard’s birthday. He turns 31 today and, at this stage of his life, he must realise it is not going to be easy shifting some of the perceptions that come from being a non-footballing footballer. For now, at least.Speak to Lingard’s former team-mates and they will talk about a guy who has been popular at all his clubs and played at a level, including a World Cup semi-final, that automatically commands respect among his fellow pros.But it is also a harsh reality that many others will be wondering how a player with Lingard’s record of achievement has spent so long without a club and seems less troubled by that situation than you might assume.Lingard last played competitive football in April, a two-minute substitute appearance for Nottingham Forest against his old club Manchester ...
Cho Gue-sung on how his life has changed a year on from the World Cup
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Cho Gue-sung on how his life has changed a year on from the World Cup

There can’t be many footballers who have gone from playing for a military team to the cover of Vogue in a few months.But that’s just one of the ways South Korean striker Cho Gue-sung’s life has changed in the last year or so.Last year was a decent one for Cho. He joined Jeonbuk Hyundai Motors, one of Korea’s top teams, in 2020 but took a while to find his feet. He had been a defensive midfielder until only a few years before, moving up front to take better advantage of his 6ft 2in (188cm) height and pace, but he was still relatively young in the position.As Korean players sometimes do, he used his mandatory period of military service as a bit of a reset, and to help improve his physical condition. He joined Gimcheon Sangmu — a team comprised of players on military service that was in the s...
What we learned in NFL Week 14: The Cowboys make a statement, frustrations bubbling over in K.C. and more
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What we learned in NFL Week 14: The Cowboys make a statement, frustrations bubbling over in K.C. and more

It might be time to start taking the Dallas Cowboys seriously as Super Bowl contenders.Because they’ve never looked better in the Dak Prescott era, and their quarterback’s never played better.The knock that’s trailed the Cowboys throughout this season — their lack of a signature victory over a legit contender — was silenced quite convincingly Sunday night. Dallas whupped the Philadelphia Eagles 33-13 in a game the Cowboys were in control of from the start.That means there’s a three-team tie atop the NFC, with the 49ers, Cowboys and Eagles all 10-3. San Francisco owns tiebreakers over both due to head-to-head victories this season, and the Cowboys’ 4-1 division record gives them a slight edge over the Eagles, who are 3-1 in the NFC East. But with four games to play, plenty can change.Dallas...
Sampling the New York restaurant where Russian NHL stars find a taste of home
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Sampling the New York restaurant where Russian NHL stars find a taste of home

NEW YORK — Wild defenseman Jake Middleton was at the rink one day in November and Russian superstar Kirill Kaprizov surprised him with a question.“You ever have Russian food?” Kaprizov asked.“No,” Middleton replied.“You want to go in New York?” Kaprizov said.“Absolutely,” Middleton said.Middleton, 27, is from small-town Alberta and had no idea what to expect. He thought maybe it’d be something extravagant, perhaps even some raw fish dishes. What Middleton was introduced to on a mid-November night was a treasure trove for Russian-born NHLers looking for an authentic taste of home.Kaprizov brought Middleton and captain Jared Spurgeon to Mari Vanna.The restaurant is nestled in a quiet part of 20th Street in Manhattan. From the outside, it looks like an apartment. You could easily walk past th...