Colin Kaepernick will receive Harvard University’s highest honor in African and African-American studies next month.

The former NFL quarterback, along with comedian Dave Chappelle and six others, will be presented with the W.E.B. Du Bois Medal at the sixth annual Hutchins Center Honors on Oct. 11, the university announced Thursday.

The W.E.B. Du Bois Medal is awarded to those who “have made significant contributions to African and African-American history and culture, and more broadly, are individuals who advocate for intercultural understanding and human rights in an increasingly global and interconnected world.” Past recipients include Muhammad Ali, Maya Angelou, and Oprah Winfrey.

In its press release, Harvard highlighted Kaepernick’s pledge to donate $1 million to community organizations, which he completed in January. He was recently made the face of Nike’s “Just Do It” 30th-anniversary campaign.

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In just his first regular-season NFL appearance, Baker Mayfield accomplished what was beginning to seem impossible.

The No. 1 pick of the 2018 NFL Draft entered Thursday night’s game against the New York Jets late in the second quarter as an injury replacement for starting quarterback Tyrod Taylor and led the Cleveland Browns to a 21-17 win for their first victory in 635 days.

Mayfield’s presence in the game seemed to make an immediate impact by rejuvenating his teammates, and fans. The 23-year-old completed his first three pass attempts on a drive that concluded with a 45-yard field goal from Greg Joseph to narrow the Jets’ lead to 14-3 at the half.

Mayfield finished 17-for-23 through the air for 201 yards with no touchdowns and no interceptions.

Running back Carlos Hyde scored two second-half touchdowns, including the clincher with 2:04 remaining in the fourth quarter. Linebacker Joe Schobert and cornerback Terrance Mitchell intercepted Jets rookie starter Sam Darnold on consecutive drives to end the game.

Hyde, who turned 28 Thursday, left the stadium immediately after the game for the birth of his child at a Cleveland hospital.

Taylor led the Browns to a 0-1-1 record through the first two weeks, but was ruled out due to a concussion early in the second half.

Head coach Hue Jackson said after the game he’ll have to “watch the tape” before making a decision on Week 4’s starting quarterback, according to James Palmer of NFL Network.

That matchup will see the Browns travel west for a showdown against the Oakland Raiders.

The victory saw the chains come off the variety of Bud Light fridges that promised free beer to Browns fans if the team were to win a game this season after going 0-16 in 2017.

The “Space Jam” sequel appears to be a go.

LeBron James‘ production company, SpringHill Entertainment, announced Wednesday that Ryan Coogler – whose past films include “Black Panther,” “Creed,” and “Fruitvale Station” – will produce “Space Jam 2.”

“I loved his vision (for ‘Black Panther’),” James told The Hollywood Reporter’s Marisa Guthrie, noting that there were no black superheroes when he was a kid growing up in Akron, Ohio. “So for Ryan to be able to bring that to kids, it’s amazing.”

SpringHill also confirmed that Terence Nance will direct the Warner Bros. film, replacing Justin Lin, and that James will star in the lead role. Production is tentatively slated to begin in 2019.

The original “Space Jam,” released in 1996, earned around $250 million worldwide and remains the highest-grossing basketball movie of all time.

“The ‘Space Jam’ collaboration is so much more than just me and the Looney Tunes getting together and doing this movie,” James said. “It’s so much bigger. I’d just love for kids to understand how empowered they can feel and how empowered they can be if they don’t just give up on their dreams. And I think Ryan did that for a lot of people.”

Houston Texans quarterback Deshaun Watson responded to a racist comment directed toward him by a Texas school superintendent on Tuesday.

Onalaska (TX) superintendent Lynn Redden was incensed by Watson’s decision to hold onto the ball during the final play of Sunday’s game against the Tennessee Titans as the clock expired. Redden then took to Facebook to disparage Watson.

“That may have been the most inept quarterback decision I’ve seen in the NFL,” Redden wrote. “When you need precision decision making you can’t count on a black quarterback.”

Watson responded Tuesday to reporters. When asked if he had experienced racist incidents in his career, Watson simply replied, “of course.”

“This is everyday life, I guess. I’m all about love so I don’t focus on none of that, I love all people,” Watson said via NFL Network’s James Palmer.

Texans head coach Bill O’Brien was infuriated by Redden’s remarks and came to his quarterback’s defense Tuesday.

“I don’t want to waste a lot of time responding to outdated, inaccurate, ignorant, idiotic statements. I’ll just let Deshaun’s proven success on the field, his character off the field speak for itself. He’s one of the greatest guys I’ve ever coached. He represents everything that’s right about football, about life. His teammates respect him, his coaching staff respect him. In this day and age, it’s just amazing that this B.S. exists,” O’Brien said via Mark Berman of FOX 26.

“Our fans love Deshaun and we’re really concentrating on the Giants. But I felt like I wasted a minute and a half responding to that B.S.”

Redden apologized for his comment but hasn’t been formally disciplined by the school district.

SmackDown General Manager Paige spoke to The Mirror to promote the return of Total Divas. Below are a few highlights:

Her personal story being told this season:

“You hear a bunch of my stories, the year and a half I took out, just everything. All the trouble I got myself into… I was just very open about everything. I was very open with the taped sex that unfortunately got leaked, the popping [failing] of drug tests, I was just very open about everything because I want people to learn from my mistakes, you know?

“Obviously they get to see stuff like my neck injury, my emotions becoming general manager, it just has so much. I have so much to share with you guys and again you just see a different side of me, you get to see Saraya, more than you get to see Paige.”

Being able to come back from all the adversity she faced:

“Yeah I feel it definitely helped a lot and the people who kind of got me out of my rut – I was at rock bottom for a year and a half – and the people who got me out of my rut were my fans. They were just like ‘I know you can get out of this, you’re stronger than what you feel right now, I know you can make a comeback’ and it just inspired me like ‘you’re right, why do I feel like I’m giving up right now?’

“It just motivated me beyond… it motivated me more so than I’ve ever been in my life. Especially when my neck issues came around and I couldn’t wrestle anymore, I was like ‘okay, this isn’t the end of me, this is the start of something new, this is a different chapter of my story’. I just never wanted to give up.”

Paige also talked more about this season of Total Divas, an upcoming Chronicle of WWE Network featuring her, her conversation with Edge the day she retired and more. You can read the full interview by clicking here.

Maroon 5 will perform at the Super Bowl LIII halftime show Feb. 3 in Atlanta, two sources told Variety.

“The offer has been extended and they’ve pretty much accepted,” a source told Us Weekly.

The NFL has gravitated toward more pop-centric acts for recent Super Bowls, with the likes of Justin Timberlake, Lady Gaga, and Katy Perry performing.

Maroon 5 is currently on tour, with a break scheduled between a New Year’s Eve show in Las Vegas and an Australian leg that begins Feb. 19.

The Charlotte Hornets announced chairman Michael Jordan has donated $2 million toward the relief effort for those in North and South Carolina affected by Hurricane Florence.

The former face of the NBA is contributing $1 million each to the American Red Cross and the Foundation for the Carolinas’ Hurricane Florence Response Fund.

“It’s truly devastating for me to see the damage that Hurricane Florence is doing to my beloved home state of North Carolina and to the surrounding areas,” Jordan said in a statement Friday. “The recovery effort will be massive, and it will take a long time to repair the damage and for families to get back on their feet. Together with the NBA, we have launched a platform to aid those most impacted. Please join me, the Hornets organization and the NBA and donate to one of the local organizations assisting in the relief and recovery efforts. To all those affected, stay safe and know that we’re here to help.”

Members of the Hornets organization will partner with Food Lion to pack disaster food boxes Friday to distribute to those affected by the hurricane in Wilmington, North Carolina, Fayetteville North Carolina, and Myrtle Beach, South Carolina.

The Hornets will also be partnering with the NBA and Fanatics to sell a special T-shirt with the Hornets logo in the middle of the North and South Carolina state lines, surrounded by the words “Carolina Strong.” The team and Association will donate 100 percent of the net earnings.

Nearly a year after the Vadim Shipachyov situation played out, George McPhee says there was a silver lining to the whole fiasco.

The Vegas Golden Knights general manager told The Athletic’s Pierre LeBrunthat as difficult as it was to lose a key free-agent signing, the situation sent a strong message to the team.

“That there’s no entitlement,” McPhee said. “We had a coach from another team who mentioned that he thought that that was one of the best moves we made initially. That we committed to that player, he came here, wasn’t committed to us, wasn’t ready to play, and ownership supported a hard decision to send a $9-million contract to the minors. But the message was clear to everyone that it doesn’t matter what your status is, if you’re to check the ego at the door and compete hard, and be a team guy, then there’s a great opportunity here. If not, we don’t have time for it.”

Shipachyov retired from the NHL and signed with SKA St. Petersburg in the KHL last November after the Golden Knights suspended the forward for leaving their AHL affiliate, the Chicago Wolves, following his demotion in late October.

The 31-year-old, who was 30 at the time, had signed a two-year, $9-million contract with the Golden Knights in May 2017.

Vegas went on to become the most successful expansion team in NHL history, going all the way to the Stanley Cup Final.

LeBron James and his production company SpringHill Entertainment have several film and television projects in the works, but there’s one that has the Los Angeles Lakers star particularly excited.

As HBO first announced in 2016, James and Maverick Carter will serve as executive producers on a multi-part documentary about the life of Muhammad Ali titled “What’s My Name.”

After HBO shared a trailer for the documentary Saturday, James tweeted, “One of my favorite projects we’ve done!! My GOODNESS it’s so good!”

Other upcoming projects produced by James and Carter include the Showtime documentary series “Shut Up and Dribble,” a competition series for CBS, an NBC comedy series inspired by the upbringing of reigning NBA Rookie of the Year Ben Simmons, and an NBC basketball drama called “Hoops.”

Be careful what you ask Joanna Jedrzejczyk!

The former UFC women’s strawweight champion recently made an example out of a budding reporter for trying to get a juicy quote on Conor McGregor at a media scrum in Moscow, Russia.

Jedrzejczyk, who was in attendance for Saturday’s UFC Fight Night 136 event at Olimpiyskiy Stadium, was first asked to give a prediction on the upcoming lightweight title bout between McGregor and Khabib Nurmagomedov at UFC 229.

“I’m 50/50. I’m a big fan of Conor, and I’m a big fan of Khabib. Two different styles,” Jedrzejczyk answered (h/t Simon Samano of MMA Junkie). “As you saw, I never predict a fight. I don’t like to predict the fights. People can do that. They can predict my fights, but I never do that. Anything and everything can happen in the fight. This is definitely the fight of, what, like the century? In MMA. So I cannot wait to watch two great warriors fighting each other. I’m 50/50.”

But then, the reporter switched the focus to McGregor’s behavior in New York, where the Irishman attacked a fighter’s bus in retaliation to Khabib’s confrontation with teammate Artem Lobov in a hotel.

Jedrzejczyk didn’t like how the reporter was fishing for insults towards McGregor and decided to flip the script and told the Russian to insult ‘The Notorious’ himself, in front of the cameras. It all made for a very awkward encounter.

Check out the full video below.

WWE Hall of Famer Paul Orndorff currently has a GoFundMe campaign to help save his house. The campaign goal is set at $10,000 with $5,000 needed by October 1 to pay the property taxes or his house will be sold off. The other $5,000 will go towards medical visits/medication so he can travel again to see fans.

Here’s the full description from the GoFundMe page, which was created by his son, Travis Orndorff:

“After entertaining the world over, “Mr. Wonderful” Paul Orndorff sacrificed his mind and body and is now in desperate financial abyss. He is in need of 5 thousand dollars to pay his property taxes or he will lose his house. We need to hit that goal by October 1st. The additional funds will allow him to go to his medical visits and pay for medication. He is unable to travel to visit his fans and sign autographs. Thank you for your donation and the largest donation submitted by 10/1 of at least $500 will receive his “Mr. Wonderful” black and gold robe, if we hit our 10k dollar goal. God bless.”

Orndorff made his wrestling debut in 1976, working for WWE, WCW, NWA, and Smokey Mountain Wrestling, among other promotions. During his time in WWE he would be known for his feud with Hulk Hogan and main-eventing WrestleMania where he teamed up with Roddy Piper to take on Hogan and Mr. T. Retiring in 2000, he did have one 6-man tag match in 2017 for Canadian Wrestling’s Elite promotion. Orndorff was inducted into the WWE Hall of Fame in 2005.

You can donate to Orndoff’s GoFundMe by clicking here.

Dave Meltzer has suggested in the latest edition of his Wrestling Observer newsletter that WWE may be looking to hire more managers from the independent circuit over the next few months.

205 Live General Manager Drake Maverick and Cruiserweight star Lio Rush have both been turned into mouthpieces (for AOP and Bobby Lashley respectively) over the past few weeks, and it’s understood that Vince McMahon wants to add more managers to his roster.

If true, that’s quite the change of heart.

In the 1980’s and part of the 90’s, WWE’s heel contingent were backed by an army of ringside nuisances like Bobby Heenan, Jimmy Hart, Jim Cornette, Paul Bearer, Mr. Fuji and more. Latterly though, Paul Heyman had been the only male manager of any note in the company.

According to Meltzer, that could be about to change. It’s also worth nothing that the Observer hinted other talent currently under contract might join Maverick and Rush as wrestlers/authority figures who have turned to management.

This is promising for anyone who enjoyed the sneaks of yesteryear, and for those who love Heyman’s work in the modern era.

Former Buffalo Sabres goaltender Robin Lehner exited his final game of the 2017-18 season on March 29 with what the team revealed as a lower-body injury. He was not seen in the dressing room for the rest of the year – even on locker cleanout day.

In a first-person story published by The Athletic on Thursday, Lehner admitted he was addicted to alcohol, sleeping pills, and had suicidal thoughts leading up to his mysterious disappearance late in the season.

The night before his final game on March 29, Lehner called Andrew Allen, the team’s goalie coach, and told him he was in a bad place and wasn’t sure if he could start the following night. The two agreed to discuss it at the rink the next morning, where Lehner then told him he was good to go.

Throughout the game, he dealt with exhaustion, chest pains, and blurred vision. After the second period, he had a panic attack and could not return to the ice.

“The phone call I made to Andrew the night before? I was drunk,” Lehner wrote. “I wanted to kill myself. I was extremely close multiple times. The battle playing hockey was nothing compared to the battle inside my brain. It was at its worst.”

Lehner then attended the NHL/NHLPA’s rehab program in Arizona, where he went through a three-week detox which he described as “one of the worst that they had seen.” He had been taking sleeping pills for the last seven years.

Five weeks into the treatment, Lehner was diagnosed with bipolar 1 with manic phases.

After exiting the treatment center, Lehner had to get his mind back on hockey. As an unrestricted free agent, he needed an employer.

“One of the hardest things now was getting back to hockey. I am an addict that was diagnosed as bipolar and ADHD with PTSD and trauma,” Lehner said. “I had never had a sober season of hockey my entire career. Those manic swings, I could see the pattern. When I was hypomanic and in a good mood, I was a solid goalie. The depressive state, not so much.”

Lehner says that Sabres GM Jason Botterill was supportive throughout, and understood when the team decided to go in a different direction after signing Carter Hutton as their netminder. He felt a change of scenery would be best as well.

He met with many teams – one of which questioned why he was a “bad person or a bad teammate” – but didn’t receive any offers. He then met with New York Islanders president of hockey operations Lou Lamoriello.

“I had two great meetings with (Lamoriello) and, looking back now, those meetings became some of the best moments in my life. We talked about family and life.”

Lehner, now sober, signed a one-year deal with New York on July 3.

New England Patriots quarterback Tom Brady was glad to be one of the few quarterbacks to avoid the verbal wrath of Jacksonville Jaguars cornerback Jalen Ramsey.

In a now-infamous GQ interview before the season, Ramsey blasted several highly regarded NFL pivots, but mentioned Brady on his short list of signal-callers that don’t “suck.”

“I never want to suck,” Brady told reporters Wednesday when asked to respond to Ramsey’s assessment. “I don’t want to be in that category.”

While Ramsey didn’t expand much on his analysis of Brady, the future Hall of Fame quarterback offered a longer breakdown of Ramsey, who’s become one of the game’s top corners since entering the league in 2016.

“I mean, he’s a great player,” Brady said. “Yeah, he’s very talented – big, fast, very rare talents, rare abilities, size, speed. They match him up with the top receiver from time to time, and he holds his own versus everybody. So, he’s a great young player.”

Brady and the Patriots are set to take on Ramsey and the Jaguars on Sunday in a rematch of last year’s AFC Championship Game.

Washington Redskins running back Adrian Peterson is looking for revenge after submitting an impressive debut performance with his new club.

Peterson is intent on proving his naysayers wrong, most notably Hall of Fame wide receiver Cris Carter, who compared the running back’s decline to a baby’s diaper in August.

Coming off a 24-6 victory over the Arizona Cardinals, where he rushed for 96 yards and a touchdown and caught two passes for 70 yards, Peterson dismissed Carter’s evaluation.

“I don’t know what it is with him,” Peterson said, via Pro Football Talk’s Mike Florio. “I have no clue, I can’t pinpoint and put my hand on one thing. We played different positions. … I don’t know what it is. I haven’t wrapped my mind around it but at the end of the day, he’s one person and I just try to block him out … it is what it is. It was just more personal because he actually played for the Vikings for a long time, and through a lot of those situations I’ve been through that he commented on he could’ve reached out and got some intel that’s not known to the public to base his opinion on and not just go off of the face value of things …”

The 33-year-old running back is intent on using his legendary handshake to get back at Carter.

“I’m definitely gonna try to crush his hand,” Peterson said of their next encounter.

Lou Lamoriello is ready to turn the page.

The New York Islanders president of hockey operations spoke candidly Tuesday about the departure of John Tavares.

“There’s no aftermath. Players come and go,” Lamoriello told Brett Cyrgalis of the New York Post.

“It’s different if they had won championships. It’s different if they had had a lot of success. They haven’t done much – and I don’t say that with any disrespect. Haven’t been to the playoffs the last couple years. Things haven’t worked out the way everybody would have liked them to, from what my understanding is.”

Since drafting Tavares No. 1 overall in 2009, the Islanders have qualified for the postseason three times, winning one playoff series against the Florida Panthersin 2016.

“So, an aftermath? There’s no such thing in my mind,” Lamoriello, who joined the club’s front office in May, continued. “What the players we have here should be thinking about is not making the playoffs last year, and that’s what the goal should be. Teams win, not players. Individual players win some games, but teams win championships. And that’s what we have to create.”

In addition to Tavares leaving to join his hometown Toronto Maple Leafs on July 1, the club lost one of its top blue-liners, Calvin de Haan, to the Carolina Hurricanes via free agency and its starting goaltender, Jaroslav Halak, signed with the Boston Bruins this summer to be Tuukka Rask‘s backup.

Like Lamoriello, new head coach Barry Trotz is looking ahead to the future.

“I don’t think with us we mentioned John once, other than when we get asked,” Trotz, who signed on to be the Isles’ bench boss in June for a reported five years at $4 million per season, told Cyrgalis. “We move on. We’re not looking back, we’re looking forward.”

The Islanders brought in veteran free agents Valtteri FilppulaLeo Komarov, and Tom Kuhnhackl, and traded for a familiar face in Matt Martin this offseason.

“The people that were brought in, they all have an element of one of two things,” Trotz said. “They’ve either won, or they bring a high-character value to the group.”

Recently on The Jim Ross Report, WWE Hall Of Famer Jim Ross caught up with the newly crowned NWA World’s Heavyweight Champion, Cody. Among many other pro wrestling topics, ‘The Grandson Of A Plumber’ talked about his role at All In and what he learned from his experience, planning a sequel to the wildly successful indie show, and the future of the NWA’s top prize.

According to Cody, he produced the second half of All In and was in charge of timing the show.

“I didn’t get a chance to sleep [after All In] and I went right to gorilla [position] after my match and I directed and timed the last half of the show.” Cody admitted, “I’m not the best timer judging by the main event time. I’m learning! But I didn’t get that moment to… I didn’t get many moments. It was just happening so fast.”

During the interview, Cody hinted at planning another All In and noted that he learned a lot about time management [except for timing pro wrestling matches].

“Well, maybe we already started planning [laughs].” Cody added, “I kept writing these lists. And my dad was a big list guy and I have become a big list guy too. I kept writing these lists of these are the things to do to make sure you’re in peak condition, and also make sure you’re in peak mental state, and make sure you paid this guy and talked to this guy. I also learned I wanted to do every single thing with this show. I wanted to do payroll; I wanted to know elements of production; I wanted to know how many chairs were in the union catering room.

“Just, next time, I don’t need to know all that stuff. I also learned you are only as good as the team around you and we’ve discovered some new teammates over the course of [All In] weekend.”

With respect to the future of the NWA title, Cody claimed that he would like to continue on the NWA’s tradition of having a traveling champion.

“Well, I want to continue the path of the traveling champion.” Cody continued, “that’s kind of what I grew up on, the type of [pro] wrestling I like. Even though it’s a generation prior to me, when I look back at what [Ric] Flair was able to do, what Jack Brisco was able to do, their date book alone, and not just, ‘oh, I did it,’ but I did it and it was the best thing of the night. Like, I did it with consistency, but it rubs some people the wrong way and that’s fine. I think most people enjoy it.

“I don’t really believe in the politics of wrestling anymore. I understand if this isn’t your company’s title, but if you’re asking me to come wrestle for your company, I’m wearing the damn title. There’s no [way around that], right? It takes an organization, it does, to facilitate and get that ring set up. And it takes a crew to tighten those ropes, but a big focus [at All In] was ‘this is a wrestling show by wrestlers.’ And yeah, there [are] some things we could have learned from a company standpoint, an organizational standpoint, but that’s how I go into everything I do. When I go to Long Beach [California for NJPW Fighting Spirit Unleashed] to wrestle Juice Robinson for the IWGP United States Heavyweight Championship, I’ll be wearing this too. I’m taking it everywhere I go and I’m excited to do that.”

IWGP Heavyweight Champion Kenny Omega spoke to Sports Illustrated’s Extra Mustard section just after his victory against Pentagon Jr. at “All In.” Here are some of the highlights:

Pentagon Jr.:

“Pentagon not only has the untrainable ‘It’ factor, but also the rare ability to adapt and succeed wherever he competes. He has a unique charisma about him that fans connect with and regardless of where he competes or what style is prominent, he seamlessly blends in—yet stands apart from everyone else on the card.”

WWE and wanting to offer a different product to fans:

“Fans, wrestlers, and even the general public have been conditioned to believe that there’s an enormous skill gap between WWE and everyone else. A major league and a minor league. It’s either you’re there or you’re just not good enough. While it’s true their collection of talent is undeniable, a small group of us have bet on ourselves and on the unique alternative vision we have for pro wrestling. What they can offer in flash, we can offer in substance. While their writers produce TV for a certain demographic, we’re producing stories for fans that want something a little different.”

Omega discussed more about the fans and Being The Elite. You can check out the full interview by clicking here.

Steve Yzerman has stepped down as general manager of the Tampa Bay Lightning, the team announced Tuesday.

Yzerman, who discussed his decision with the players Tuesday, has one year remaining on his contract and will continue to serve as a senior advisor. Assistant GM Julien BriseBois will take over the top duties.

Yzerman had served as the Lightning’s GM since 2010. He previously served as the vice president and alternate governor of the Detroit Red Wings.

During his eight-year tenure with the Lightning, he helped the club reach the playoffs on five occasions, the Eastern Conference Final three times, and the Stanley Cup Final in 2015, where the team ultimately fell to the Chicago Blackhawks.

As for BriseBois, he’s also been with the club since 2010 and has long been speculated to be in line for a GM position.

Yzerman’s run as Tampa’s GM includes winning the General Manager of the Year Award during the 2014-15 season.

WWE have went full-steam ahead, all hands on deck, and any other transportation-themed idiom you care to think of with their upcoming Evolution pay-per-view in recent weeks, parachuting the likes of Trish Stratus into Raw to help promote the show scheduled for 28 October in Uniondale, NY.

50 stars are slated to appear, including a who’s who of women’s wrestling history. At least, the specific version of history told by the company (so no Gail Kim or Manami Toyota, in other words). Yet despite the company’s best efforts to make the event as prestigious as possible, ticket sales are said to be stalling. Speaking on Wrestling Observer Radio this weekend, journalist Dave Meltzer fielded a question about how the 14,500 Nassau Coliseum was filling up:

“They’ve sold 7,000. About 2,400 of them went to scalpers. The building will probably end up full when all is said and done, but, it’s not nearly as hot a ticket as I expected it to be and the secondary market is not strong at all.”

Admittedly, the show is over a month away, but selling just under half the capacity – with a third of those snatched up by resellers – is not a great sign. Meltzer continued:

“It’s much lower than most pay-per-views. It’s not a flop; but, it’s definitely weaker than probably any WWE pay-per-view in a long time.”

Appetite for the show may be tempered by the fact only three matches have been announced so far – and the belief that Ronda Rousey is to be wasted opposite Nikki Bella. Whatever the reason, the struggling sales could have damaging implications for the promotion’s continued push of women’s wrestling. It’s ironic: WWE finally give fans what they apparently want, and what do you know – they don’t want it.

Shawn Michaels is reportedly coming out of retirement for one more match, according to Dave Meltzer in the latest issue of The Wrestling Observer Newsletter.

As seen on RAW this past Monday night, Michaels shot an angle with The Undertaker where Taker taunted Michaels for staying retired, asking if it was out of respect or fear. Taker is scheduled to face Triple H at the WWE Super Show-Down event in Australia on October 6th.

According to The Observer, the internal plan is for Michaels to return to the ring at the next WWE event in Saudi Arabia on November 2nd. WWE had tried to get Michaels to work at the last event in Saudi Arabia, and Meltzer noted that these events are even bigger than WrestleMania financially.

It was noted that Michaels is not scheduled to work a singles match. Given the angle on RAW this past Monday, it would make sense for Michaels to team with Triple H against The Undertaker and a partner. Michaels confirmed on RAW this past Monday that he will be at WWE Super Show-Down in Australia next month for the final battle between Triple H and Taker, so it’s likely that they will setup an angle there for Saudi Arabia.

In an interview with Inside The Ropes last month, Michaels discussed a possible in-ring return and suggested that it may be “more trouble than it’s worth.”

“Let’s just say I did it and the match is phenomenal,” Michaels said. “The reality is this hairline is still what it is — like it’s all hot and sweaty — and even if the match is phenomenal and everything else, you’re still gonna bust my chops because I’ve got no way not to expose to you that I’m 53. That’s the thing — and I don’t mean it in a bad way — but you want me to kip up and everything look as if it was 1996, ’97. That’s not gonna happen because father time waits for no man.

“There’s a lot of stuff like what do you do and even does the young guy benefit when all is said and done. I don’t know, it just seems like more trouble than it’s worth.”

Michaels hasn’t wrestled since losing a retirement match to The Undertaker at WrestleMania XXVI in 2010.

Source: Wrestling Observer Newsletter

A Nielsen report commissioned by the American Gaming Association (AGA) indicates that a fully mature sports gambling market in the U.S. could be worth $2.3 billion per year to the NFL, according to ESPN’s Darren Rovell.

Based on a fan survey, the report suggests regulated betting across America would boost media rights fees by almost 18 percent, lead to betting operators sponsoring teams, and result in the purchasing of official league data.

The NFL told its teams, according to ESPN, that it wants to force betting operators who advertise with them to buy the league’s data. That would earn it $30 million a year, according to the report. The AGA isn’t opposed to the idea, as it would result in faster live in-game betting, but it doesn’t want vendors to be forced to buy the information.

The report doesn’t factor in “integrity fees,” in which the league would take a cut of bets on each game, ESPN reports. The AGA has been opposed to such a deal.

Adrian Beltre hasn’t made up his mind about playing next season, but he does know one thing: he wants to retire a Ranger.

Texas had a chance to pursue a trade involving the 39-year-old last week, Rangers general manager Jon Daniels said Monday, according to MLB.com’s T.R. Sullivan, but opted not to do so after a discussion with Beltre.

“There was a situation last week that presented itself,” Daniels explained. “We talked about it with Adrian. For a number of reasons, it wasn’t the right fit. If he wanted to push and push for the trade, we would have honored that. To not have done that says a lot about how he feels about his teammates and fans in particular. For that piece, I am in awe.”

Beltre did not reject the trade, Sullivan clarified. Instead, the veteran third baseman explained to Daniels he wanted to finish the campaign in Texas and decide about coming back to play one more season with them next year.

“The conversation we presented with Adrian with what was out there,” Daniels said. “If he plays again next year, there are a million opportunities. If he chooses not to play, this could have been the last opportunity. For everything Adrian has meant for the franchise, if he wanted to pursue it, there wasn’t a ton in it for us quite frankly.”

Beltre signed with the Rangers in 2011 and has had quite a career with the franchise, recording 1,255 hits, 192 home runs and a .506 slugging percentage. He’s also taken home two Silver Sluggers and three Gold Gloves during his time with Texas.

“I was not eager to leave this place,” Beltre said. “I’ve been here for eight years. I’ve been grateful for the chance to be in the World Series and almost win it. It’s not easy to just pack your things and go. There’s a lot of things to be considered, and like I’ve said before, I’d like to retire as a Ranger.”

LeBron James voiced his support for Nike’s controversial advertisement featuring former NFL quarterback Colin Kaepernick.

Speaking at Harlem’s Fashion Row after receiving an award for his philanthropy and presence in the design world, James closed his acceptance speech with statements in support of the new campaign carried out by Nike and Kaepernick.

“I stand with Nike, all day, every day,” James said according to Jocelyn Novek of The Associated Press.

James added that he stands “for anybody who believes in change.”

LeBron has voiced his support for Kaepernick in the past, and his stand with Nike will surprise nobody considering the lifetime deal he has with the company.

The new Los Angeles Lakers superstar also used his time at the podium to talk about the women in his life – his mother Gloria, wife Savannah, and 3-year-old daughter Zhuri – as the event was dedicated to diversity in fashion.

“Because of you, Gloria James, I’m able to be in a position today where I can give back and showcase why I believe African-American women are the most powerful women in the world.” LeBron said of growing up with a single parent.

While holding Zhuri in his arms, he also remarked on how having a daughter has changed his outlook on life.

“People always told me if you ever have a girl, she’ll change you,” James said. “Not only did she change me, she’s made me a better person. A more dedicated person, a stronger person, I guess a more sensitive person.”

Despite The Miz and Maryse having a very public relationship that is currently the focus of Miz & Mrs., the power couple’s first date wasn’t the romantic type that you might expect.

The two first met in 2006 when The Miz was one of the judges on the Diva Search in which Maryse was a contestant. Maryse, whose native language is French, thought her rehearsed English speech would win her over with the judges but that turned out to not be the case.

“In Marina del Rey [California] in 2006, I walked in for my audition for the Diva Search, and Mike was sitting there, and he was one of the judges,” Maryse tells Yahoo Lifestyle. “I had this perfect speech that I learned in the plane on the way to Los Angeles from Montreal because I couldn’t speak a word in English.”

As it turns out, it wasn’t her English that impressed the Miz. Instead, it was her native French that made him realize she was “the one.”

“She cuts this promo in French, and she gets up in my face,” Miz recalls. “I’m loving every second of it. This girl is it.”

Maryse wouldn’t win the Diva Search, but she was signed to a WWE contract. While traveling on the road, Miz would often ask Maryse out to group dinners, but she would brush him off. Thus, he decided to do something a little riskier to show his interest.

“We’re in Kansas City, and it’s two in the morning,” said Maryse. “I’m trying to get back to my hotel, and you call me on my phone [while you were driving nearby]. You said, ‘Pull over, pull over!’ I kind of found myself in a parking lot of a porn shop.”

“You might think this is a little weird,” said Miz, “but I didn’t want to get in the friend zone. I wanted her to know where my mind was at. But it worked, all right. We sat there in the parking lot and talked for three hours, with a person that doesn’t speak English. That’s an A-plus in my book as a first date.”

The two would then begin officially dating and that led to Miz proposing to Maryse in the same Marina del Rey convention room that the first met. (Perhaps proposing in the porn shop parking lot would have been too bold.)

They married in 2014 and welcomed their first child, Monroe Sky Mizanin, in 2018. Their family life is chronicled in Miz & Mrs. which was picked up for a second season to air in 2019.

WWE are stacking the deck for SmackDown’s 1000th episode.

With the special broadcast taking place on 16 October, the company are already advertising The Undertaker’s appearance to go with three big SummerSlam/Hell In A Cell pay-per-view rematches: Daniel Bryan vs. The Miz, Randy Orton vs. Jeff Hardy, and AJ Styles vs. Samoa Joe, which is listed as a WWE Championship bout.

The biggest announcement may still be forthcoming, however, as Barnburner’s Fired Up podcast claim that WWE are “very, very close” to booking The Rock for the landmark show.

Dwayne Johnson’s name has been all over wrestling media lately. Most recently, ‘The Great One’ was linked with a potential match at WrestleMania 35, with the Wrestling Observer’s Dave Meltzer suggesting Roman Reigns as a possible opponent. There have been no further updates on this, but it remains a possibility.

As WWE’s biggest mainstream crossover star, it makes sense that the company would reach out to him for this landmark SmackDown. His presence guarantees an interest spike, and while Rocky wasn’t present at Raw 25 in January, booking him would be a foolproof way to ensure a big audience on 16 October.

Serena Williams said every athlete ”should be completely grateful and honored” for the protests started by former NFL players Colin Kaepernick and Eric Reid.

Kaepernick and Reid, two former San Francisco 49ers now out of the league, were each given huge ovations when they were introduced and shown on the big screen during the match between Serena and Venus Williams at the U.S. Open on Friday night. Serena Williams said she was focused on the match and did not notice the pair in the stands. Reid raised his fist and Kaepernick smiled for the fans.

Kaepernick tweeted a photo of his young niece with Serena and wrote, ”Lani lost it when Serena surprised her after the match!!! Thank you so much Serena !!!”

Serena said she was grateful for the stand they took that has seen both players take on the NFL. An arbitrator is sending Kaepernick’s grievance with the NFL to trial, denying the league’s request to throw out the quarterback’s claims that owners conspired to keep him out of the league because of his protests of social injustice. A similar grievance is still pending by unsigned safety Eric Reid, who played with Kaepernick in San Francisco and joined in the protests.

Kaepernick began a wave of protests by NFL players two seasons ago, kneeling during the national anthem to protest police brutality and racial inequality. The protests have grown into one of the most polarizing issues in sports, with President Donald Trump loudly urging the league to suspend or fire players who demonstrate during the anthem.

”I think every athlete, every human, and definitely every African-American should be completely grateful and honored how Colin and Eric are doing so much more for the greater good, so to say,” Serena said. ”They really use their platform in ways that is really unfathomable. I feel like they obviously have great respect from a lot of their peers, especially other athletes, people that really are looking for social change.”

Serena Williams equaled her most-lopsided victory ever in 30 professional meetings with sister Venus, beating her 6-1, 6-2 in the third round.

Michael Jordan or LeBron James? It’s a debate that will rage on forever, but according to a recent survey, an overwhelming majority of college basketball coaches believe the title of GOAT belongs to Jordan.

CBS Sports college basketball writers Gary Parrish and Matt Norlander anonymously polled more than 100 coaches for their annual Candid Coaches series, asking them, among other things, to choose between Jordan and LeBron. Jordan easily won, receiving 82 percent of the votes.

“Not to take anything away from LeBron, but the game is so different now from when Jordan played,” one coach who picked Jordan said. “If Mike played in in this day and age, with freedom of movement, he’d average 40 points a game.

“LeBron’s done so many great things on and off the court. But if somebody put a gun to your head, and you had to go win a game, who are you going to go with? Michael Jordan or LeBron James? My money and my life is going to be with Jordan. He played both sides of the ball as good as anybody. He was the best offensive player and defensive player in the league every night.”

Another coach said they voted for LeBron primarily because of his off-court contributions.

“If we are going off the man as a whole, I’m taking LeBron. Basketball-wise he is not far off from Jordan – and the numbers he has put up year in and year out are absurd. Where I think LeBron has separated himself from Jordan is with his stances on what he believes in,” the coach explained. “The school he just opened is awesome and will change lives. And what he has stood for, and stood against, throughout his career is what puts him on my Mount Rushmore of Athletes.”

Cody Rhodes was interviewed by Busted Open Radio to discuss All In, scheduled for September 1. Understanding that Dusty Rhodes is known for being a creative genius, spearheading many NWA and WCW concepts as well as assisting with with popularity of NXT, Bully Ray asked Cody a thought-provoking question.

“If All In comes off the way you want it to, exactly the way you wanted to, between Starrcast and All In. On Monday morning will All In have surpassed any one show that Dusty created?”

Cody responded, “I don’t think I can speculate. Because, it’s mine, you know? It’s me, Matt [Jackson], Nick [Jackson], it’s the Being the Elite guys. It’s all of yours, you know? It’s by wrestlers, for wrestlers. It’s by fans, for fans. If you look at this convention and you look at the show, I care more about whether Dusty would have a good time at All In than whether I win this match, if that makes any sense.”

ECW was used as an example of something that Cody thought Dusty would have hated, by was surprised by his reaction.

“The first time he tuned in to ECW, this is a good example, I thought like, oh, he’s gonna hate it. Look at what’s happening, there’s all kinds of sex and violence. He was so entertained, and I remember sitting in front of him with my little Hasboro figures and watch the shows, every pay-per-view. So he had this forward-thinking knowledge that I think all of the great minds in pro wrestling have. So, I think if he saw this, he’d have a few touches for sure, but I think he’d be pretty stoked about it. I hope he would.”

More than two years after being traded to the Nashville Predators in one of the most shocking trades of the past decade, P.K. Subban is still reminded about a promise he made on his draft day.

While speaking to reporters in Montreal at his annual gala for the P.K. Subban Foundation on Thursday, the 29-year-old admitted he’s still upset about not winning the Stanley Cup during his time with the Montreal Canadiens.

“What I’m upset about, and at the time what I was upset about, is I made a promise to the city when I was drafted to bring a Stanley Cup back and never once did I remove myself from that statement or back away from it,” Subban said. “The frustrating thing is I thought we had the right core to do that, it just seemed like we were never able to put the best team on the ice and it never happened for us.”

Subban added that he’s enjoying his time in Nashville. He’s come closer to a championship with the Predators than he did during his six seasons with the Canadiens, reaching the Stanley Cup Final in 2017.

He’s now keen on bringing the Stanley Cup to his new home.

“Montreal is a great place to win in if you can win here and I felt I wanted to do that. But at the same token I got put into a really good position with an amazing city that I love so much, amazing teammates I wouldn’t trade any of them for anyone, they’re great guys, and I believe we have a real chance to win there and bring the first Stanley Cup back to Nashville,” Subban said.

The Predators are coming off a strong 2017-18 season that saw the club capture its first-ever Presidents’ Trophy. Subban posted a career-high 16 goals and 59 points while playing in all 82 games.

Besides making recent headlines for having his Twitter account hacked and threaten American President Donald Trump, newly crowned WWE Hall of Famer Bill Goldberg has made another stir with strong remarks to Inside The Ropesregarding his induction ceremony in April.

There was excitement in the air leading up to Goldberg’s appearance with the 2018 WWE Hall of Fame class, but the exhausting four-hour ceremony sucked the life out of the room before the legend even took to the stage. Goldberg said that the 2018 ceremony in New Orleans wasn’t a “justice to the people being inducted”, and the sluggish format of the evening wasn’t “a justice to the fans that sit there for four hours”.

“I don’t care about what other people say or how they did it,” Goldberg explained. “I’m telling you in my experience as a headliner in 2018 in the Hall Of Fame — it needs to be changed.”

Goldberg claimed he aired his thoughts and grievances to Vince McMahon himself on how he felt the Hall of Fame event should unfold.

“I think it needs to be changed completely right up on its head,” Goldberg explained. “It needs to be changed because it sucks.”

Sitting out the rest of WrestleMania weekend was also bittersweet for Goldberg, as he compared it to “being on the sidelines when you can play”, and making him feel like a “caged animal.”

“I couldn’t stand it just because I’m a competitive dude, and I don’t sit backstage and watch people do their thing when I’m still capable of doing it.”

Goldberg was blunt and upfront with his thoughts surrounding the events of the WWE Hall of Fame, but he was a bit more cautious when speaking about his possible in-ring future. While he stopped short to affirm he wasn’t “asking for the match”, Goldberg does admit if “the cards fell right” he wouldn’t say no to a match with The Undertaker.

Stephen Curry plies his trade in the historically male-dominated field of professional athletics, but the Golden State Warriors superstar is quick to acknowledge the profound impact that women have had on his life.

Now the father of two girls – as well as a newborn boy – Curry’s perspective on gender equality continues to come into greater focus as he reconciles the hopes and dreams of his children with the numerous barriers that face women today.

“Riley and Ryan are growing up so fast,” Curry explained in an essay for The Players’ Tribune published Sunday, coinciding with Women’s Equality Day. “And with Ayesha and I suddenly seeing things through the eyes of these daughters of ours, who we brought into this world, and now are raising to live in this world … you know, I’d be lying if I didn’t admit that the idea of women’s equality has become a little more personal for me, lately, and a little more real.”

Curry continues to look for ways to challenge and change perspectives of what is attainable for young women. This summer, he launched a a youth basketball camp for girls, pairing on-court tutelage with off-court presentations where the 200 attendees were able to ask questions to successful women in business.

Among the numerous issues on Curry’s mind, he wrote that income inequality was a chief concern.

“I think it’s important that we all come together to figure out how we can make that possible, as soon as possible,” wrote Curry. “Not just as ‘fathers of daughters,’ or for those sorts of reasons. And not just on Women’s Equality Day. Every day – that’s when we need to be working to close the pay gap in this country.

“Because every day is when the pay gap is affecting women. And every day is when the pay gap is sending the wrong message to women about who they are, and how they’re valued, and what they can or cannot become.”

LeBron James‘ new HBO show, “The Shop,” premiered Tuesday, and it delivered some frank conversations on social and racial issues. In the opening episode, James said he feels obligated to speak up on those topics.

“I want the satisfaction. Not for myself, but for everybody else,” James said on the show, as transcribed by ESPN. “I was raised off of (rappers) Snoop (Dogg) and (Tupac) and (Jay-Z) and Biggie, and now I get an opportunity to be the inspiration around what all of these kids are looking up to? And for me to just sit back and not say s— when a lot of my peers didn’t say s—? It didn’t feel right.”

James has been a frequent critic of President Donald Trump and has often shared his opinion on race relations in the United States despite criticism from some corners.

“At the end of the day, when I decided I was going to start speaking up and not giving a f— about the backlash or if it affects me, my whole mindset was it’s not about me … my popularity went down,” he said. “But at the end of the day, my truth to so many different kids and so many different people was broader than me personally.”

The first episode of “The Shop” featured James, Draymond GreenOdell Beckham Jr., Snoop Dogg, Candace Parker, and Jon Stewart, among others.

Just like Mary J. Blige, Ottawa Sentaors goaltender Craig Anderson wants no more drama.

Responding to a report Sunday that the Senators were looking to deal Anderson early in the summer, the veteran netminder reiterated that he’s happy in the nation’s capital, barring anymore drama.

“I love Ottawa, I love playing in Ottawa,” the 37-year-old told reporters. “I’m too old for drama. I don’t want anything to do with drama. Hopefully we’ve resolved all of that. I got no interest in going anywhere else as long as we can clean up what was going on this summer.”

Anderson is likely referring to the situation this offseason where it was revealed that Erik Karlsson’s wife, Melinda, applied for a peace bond against Mike Hoffman’s girlfriend, Monika Caryk, over an alleged harassment campaign.

Melinda Karlsson accused Caryk of “over 1,000” negative and derogatory comments, including wishing her unborn child dead, wishing her dead, and saying that someone should take out Erik Karlsson’s legs and end his career.

“I’ve been there for eight years now and that’s my home,” Anderson said. “I’ve got no interest in going anywhere else as long as we can clean up what was going on this summer.”

The situation appears to mostly have been wiped clean after Hoffman was dealt to San Jose, then flipped by the Sharks to the Florida Panthers, in June.

However, that was far from the only drama the Senators experienced this offseason. The team’s assistant general manager Randy Lee was charged for harassment in June before eventually resigning a week ago, general manager Pierre Dorion admitted the dressing room was “broken” last season, a much-needed arena deal is far from imminent, owner Eugene Melnyk has been heavily criticized, and to top it off, the inevitable departure of Karlsson is still looming over the team’s head.

Anderson stayed out of all of the off-ice drama, but his play between the pipes last year wasn’t satisfactory. He posted an .898 save percentage and a 3.32 goals-against average in what was by far his worst season as an NHL starting netminder.

Winning is one way to make everyone forget about the drama, and Anderson’s play in goal is certainly vital to Ottawa’s success.

In what many would argue is the greatest Money in the Bank cash-in in its history because of the magnitude, Seth Rollins changed the possible outcome of the Brock Lesnar vs. Roman Reigns main event. At the conclusion of a hard-hitting match which left both competitors vulnerable and physically exhausted, Rollins seized the opportunity at the most optimal moment by running down the aisle and eventually stomping Reigns for the victory and his first reign as WWE Champion.

In the beginning of WrestleMania, Rollins culminated his feud with Randy Orton, who was ousted from The Authority and stomped over a cement block weeks prior to this match. Orton returned for retribution, and was able to pick up the victory following a catapult RKO.

During an interview with news.com.au to promote the upcoming Super Show-Down event, Rollins revealed when he found out about cashing in his briefcase.

“I didn’t know for sure until the middle of the show (it was happening),” said Rollins. “I had a match with Randy Orton early in the day and then I was sequestered backstage and informed that would be the plan at the end of the night. It honestly was a very last-minute thing.”

Rollins did not tell anyone backstage about his title win to keep the surprise in tact, even to his fellow WWE superstars. However, Rollins admitted that the expected time for the pay-per-view was coming to a close, and he started to feel nervous that the decision-makers rescinded on the surprise.

“We were getting close to having to get off the air, so maybe it wouldn’t have happened,” said Rollins. “I was glad I didn’t tell anyone and have that bad luck or that I had jinxed himself.”

Rollins also stated that he recently had a conversation with someone who said that the shock value of this cash-in reminded him of the WrestleMania 3 moment of Hulk Hogan vs. Andre the Giant.

“That seems pretty surreal to me. I think back at my classic moments, you have that one, The Rock-Hulk Hogan, Ultimate Warrior-Hulk Hogan, The Rock-Stone Cold Steve Austin,” Rollins said. “To think that you’re in the same company as those, to be in that conversation, it’s pretty wild.”

The Shield is scheduled to compete together at the Super Show-Down event, and Rollins is scheduled to team with Ambrose to compete against Dolph Ziggler and Drew McIntyre at Hell in a Cell.

Stu Bennett performed in WWE as Wade Barrett, Bad News Barrett, and King Barrett before deciding not to re-sign his contract in 2016. He left to pursue other interests including acting and his new film I Am Vengence recently premiered after two years in post-production. The differences between professional wrestling and fighting on-screen are vastly different. While admitting professional wrestling can be “corny,” Bennett further elaborated on his transition from wrestling to acting on Build where he also explained why his 2016 exit from WWE was the right decision for him.

“I think the biggest difficulty from transitioning from professional wrestling to the acting world is generally toning down your performance,” Bennett said. “So in the pro wrestling world, everything is massively over the top and every reaction that you do in the ring is kind of corny if we’re honest — it’s not supposed to be serious — it’s a comic book world.

“One of the things they used to say when I was beginning in wrestling was that you need to do huge emotions. Every time you react in any way whether you’re happy or sad or angry, make it one hundred times bigger than it would be normally because the guy in the very back row in these giant arenas in Row Z or whatever it is, he needs to see that reaction. So you do everything huge and over the top.

“So one of the hardest things really was transitioning into bringing everything a lot further down for the screen roles. When you’ve got a camera right in front of your face it picks up every little crease in your face and every slight hint of emotion and things like that. So bringing that down was definitely important. For me personally, one of the things I did when I was getting ready for this role [in I am Vengence] is I studied some of the older action stars like Charles Bronson and Clint Eastwood because I felt they played their roles very stoically and very reserved vs the kind of action roles you see these days which is a lot more over the top — which is great — but I felt for me personally, I had to study guys who had very, very small emotions and that kind of thing.”

Bennett was asked by one fan if he could help him get a job in NXT or WWE. He joked about Vince McMahon blocking him after his exit from WWE, but he had some advice for the fan on how to start his journey in professional wrestling. Bennett also took the opportunity to explain how some of the best professional wrestlers on the planet work their entire careers to end up on the bottom level of WWE just to work their way up in Vince McMahon and Company.

“I think when I left WWE, Vince blocked my phone number so he never wants me calling him again,” Bennett said. “So I don’t think he’s going to answer my call, but what I would suggest if you’re interested in pro wrestling is doing what I did. Finding yourself a good school — I take it you’re not actually in a wrestling school at the moment? No?

“The best bet is finding a good wrestling school who are gonna teach you the ways of doing it properly and there’s a whole kind of production line of wrestlers who are kind of climbing that ladder. Even to get to NXT now — which is the bottom rung of the WWE ladder — you have to be really good just to get there.

“They generally don’t take guys who can’t wrestle. You have to have been out there on the wrestling circuit for a number of years perfecting your skills and have something to offer them. Then they’ll say, ‘okay you’re now one of the best wrestlers in the world. You now come to our bottom rung of the ladder and start working your way up from there.'”

Bennett wasn’t happy in WWE during his last run as King Barrett and discussed some of the reasons why he felt stifled with the character. He considered it a sad time because it was the end of a fun career, but Bennett was confident in moving on from WWE to follow his other passions.

“So my last run in WWE I was portrayed as The King Of The Ring,” Bennett explained. “I won a tournament called the King Of The Ring tournament and I became The King of wrestling which I was hoping at the time when it initially happened that it was gonna springboard me into bigger and better things in WWE.

“I felt that the direction the character took was a little hokey. I was kind of asked to wear a plastic crown and a ridiculous outfit and stuff like that — which if you go back to the ’80’s worked great, there were some great King Of The Rings back then like Haku and Harley Race and all these legends of wrestling and that worked for them. I felt that in 2016 that I was doing that character that I thought it was a little hokey and I wasn’t being allowed to have the kind of creative latitude with the character to do what I wanted to do and do the things that I felt an audience would enjoy as The King of wrestling.

“So that was one of the reasons why I kind of soured on my job and my contract came up to an end around April 2016 and I decided not to extend it at that point and move onto new ventures like I Am Vengence. So yeah, it was kind of a sad run for me because it was the end of what had been a lot of fun, but I knew for me it was time to move on.”

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The tournament for the NXT UK Women’s Championship concluded in Birmingham, England last night, and (as these things tend to go), we have a winner!

Australian Rhea Ripley was crowned the title’s first holder, after besting pre-tournament favourite Toni Storm in the final. NXT UK General Manager and British wrestling legend Johnny Saint presented Ripley with the brand spanking new belt after her victory.

Ripley, 21, has been a regular on NXT TV for the past year, having made her WWE debut in last July’s Mae Young Classic. Prior to alighting in Orlando, she was a star of the Australian independent scene, before spending a year in Japan, during which time she had the enormous honour of sharing a ring opposite Kyoko Inoue.

The second night of tapings at the Insomnia Festival saw Ripley dispatch Dakota Kai, to set up a final with Toni Storm, who herself prevailed against Jinny.

Perhaps it’s a little strange that the first ever NXT UK Women’s champion is not British; it rather leaves open what the actual point of the title is. With a TV deal for the show yet to be announced, that’s a question which continues to mount.

The belt will, however, be on the line at the upcoming Evolution show in October. Stay tuned for more details as they emerge.

It has only been a little over a month since the WWE welcomed Hulk Hogan back into the good graces of their Hall of Fame, and The Immortal One has already gotten himself heat with CEO Vince McMahon.

Hogan was ousted from the WWE in 2015 following the surfacing of leaked audio that captured a “racial tirade” from the Hulkster. A remorseful Hogan was eventually welcomed back to the company in July of this year. Prior to the Extreme Rules event on 15 July 15, Hogan addressed the locker room with an apology that has received a mixed reaction from fans and the roster alike.

Since his return, Hogan has been teasing an nWo reunion with original stablemates, Scott Hall and Kevin Nash. Multiple video clips have been posted to twitter promoting a big announcement from the trio for 27 October.

According to WWE insider Brad Shepard on the No Holds Barred podcast, the upcoming nWo project has no involvement with the WWE, the company which holds the copyright to the legendary black and white faction.

“Hulk Hogan, he’s got a little heat,” Shepard noted, as transcribed by Ringside News. “Vince McMahon is not overly pleased with his little going into business for himself so to speak with the nWo.”

While the exact nature of the nWo reunion has yet to be revealed, McMahon’s reaction to Hogan’s recent activities may pose a question as to when—or if—Hogan will be welcomed back onscreen with the WWE.

The Auston Matthews effect is in full swing.

Youth hockey participation in Arizona increased by 17 percent over the last year, growing from 3,874 participants in 2016-17 to 4,519 in 2017-18, according to statistics released by USA Hockey. The rise of Toronto Maple Leafs superstar and Scottsdale, Ariz. native Auston Matthews was surely a factor.

It’s more than just youths who want to be like Matthews, though. There are now 8,617 overall hockey participants in Arizona, up 11 percent from last year, and 109 percent in the last five years.

The first three years of that five-year span can’t be credited to Matthews since he wasn’t selected first overall until the 2016 NHL Draft.

Shane Doan, who spent 21 years playing hockey in the desert, has also left his impact on the state.

“It seems that wherever an NHL team goes, the minor hockey does better and it has done that since we have been here,” Doan told Arizona Sports’ Craig Morgan. “For me as a parent, I have seen the Junior Coyotes program go from being somewhat obscure to being capable of being competitive; one of the top 20, 25 programs in the country. That is exciting.”

Doan’s son, a ninth-round selection of the WHL’s Kamloops Blazers in 2017, was a member of the Junior Coyotes program.

The Arizona Coyotes organization is playing a big part in the rapid growth of hockey in the area, donating more than $300,000 to local rinks, $450,000 to high schools over the next two years, and 2,100 sets of equipment to youth programs.

There are now 10 rinks and 15 sheets of ice in Arizona, compared to just three sheets of ice in 1996, when the Coyotes first arrived from Winnipeg.

The city of Tucson, where the Coyotes’ AHL affiliate plays, has seen the largest growth. Hockey participation has increased by 433 percent in the eight-and-under age category over the past year, and 296 percent among all ages.

In 10 to 20 years, it’s possible Arizona could become a hockey-talent producing factory, rather than just where the occasional diamond in the rough is found like Matthews.

Montreal Canadiens netminder Carey Price is confident the 2017-18 season will not repeat itself.

The 31-year-old is coming off a miserable year that saw him post the worst numbers of his career. With a record of 16-26-7 and a .900 save percentage and 3.11 goals-against average, Price is determined to bounce back for his teammates’ sake.

“At the end of the day, I know how I feel about my game and I know I could have played better,” Price said, according to Kevin Woodley of NHL.com. “I always feel like that regardless, but I know I can play better than that and I know my teammates will be looking to perform better this season as well.

“It’s all intertwined, it’s all connected and when you can iron out those details, it’s all about chemistry.”

The Canadiens will be looking to put the 2017-18 season behind them. The club finished with just 71 points, their lowest point total over a full 82-game season since the 2000-01 campaign when they finished with 70.

Prior to last year, the Canadiens had made the playoffs in four of the previous five seasons and captured the Atlantic Division title on three occasions. If they are to return to that form, Price will certainly need to turn back the clock to the 2014-15 campaign, where he captured both the Hart and Vezina Trophy.

Kurt Angle is taking time off from being the General Manager of Monday Night RAW to train for his next WWE match, according to PWInsider.

The 49-year-old has been GM ever since the RAW after WrestleMania 33, but on this week’s TV was sent on an enforced holiday by Commissioner Stephanie McMahon, and replaced by Constable Baron Corbin.

On a recent episode of PWInsider Elite Audio, Mike Johnson claimed that Angle has been training for his next match, saying:-

“It could be that this is the beginning of that storyline to bring him back to the wrestling ring. So either to move him temporarily from General Manager or remove him completely from the GM role and have him wrestle every now and again.”

The former world champion has regularly repeated his desire to return to the ring, and this news will spark speculation on who he could face.

Allegedly, there are plans for Angle to compete at October’s WWE Super Show-Down pay-per-view in Melbourne, Australia. Other potential match-ups could see Team Angle versus Team Corbin at November’s Survivor Series PPV, a father-son feud with Jason Jordan, or even the wrestling machine reigniting his old rivalry with Brock Lesnar, especially as Angle refused Lesnar a Universal Championship rematch at Hell in a Cell.

Whatever happens, it appears that it won’t be long until we see that star-spangled singlet back in a WWE ring.

Becky Lynch turned on her friend Charlotte Flair at SummerSlam after The Queen captured the SmackDown Women’s Championship. The Brooklyn crowd seemed to be on Lynch’s side, but as she spoke to The Gorilla Position, The Lass Kicker revealed that maybe concentrating on what the fans wanted was part of her problem.

“I don’t understand what people are saying to me when they say, ‘well done’ because I went in there with the intention of winning the title and I currently do not have a title,” Lynch said. “I have been burning a hole through the Women’s Division on SmackDown Live for the past few months and Charlotte shows up and she gets handed a title opportunity and opportunistic as ever when I had that match won, she snuck in and she stole my victory from me one more time.

“Again she gets handed the gold and I’m left on the sidelines. So okay the crowd the cheered, but what does that mean when I haven’t accomplished anything? I’m left there with one title while she’s had seven — maybe eight if you include NXT — I’m supposed to be satisfied with that? I’m supposed to be happy with that? That’s not enough for me.”

Lynch feels overlooked in the SmackDown Women’s Division and discussed changing her focus in order to attain her desired goal of becoming a champion once again in WWE.

“I appreciate that they wanted to see me win, but I didn’t get the gold and I think I’ve been preoccupied too much by keeping people on my side. That hasn’t done me any favors. I have to re-evaluate everything and re-evaluate what I put my priorities on. If that was getting the crowd on my side or a friend on my side then I’ve been doing it wrong. Because there’s one reason why I came to WWE and that was to be great and I’m not achieving that.

“I haven’t dropped the ball once but as soon as Charlotte Flair shows up, it’s all about her.”

The Lass Kicker was the first woman drafted to SmackDown Live during the brand split and she said the show was built around her until Flair joined the Blue Brand. A frustrated Lynch continued wondering what she needed to do in order to stand out and make her point known as she continues to strive for greatness in WWE.

“In 2017 I had one title match and it was at WrestleMania and it was a six-way?” Lynch continued. “I haven’t been given a fair shot at all. I am the best on this roster both Raw and SmackDown and I’ve proven that time and time again yet I don’t get the opportunity.

“Why is that? Is it because I’m not blonde enough? Is that it? Is it because I don’t have enough enhancements? Is that it? I’m treated like the red-headed stepchild of the entire Women’s Division. Yet I have proved time and time again that I am the moneymaker — that I am the person that people will tune in to see that they will care about — that they want to see me win. Yet it’s being stolen from me every single time.”

Tom Brady is well aware that a lot of people don’t like him.

During an appearance on WEEI’s “Kirk & Callahan” program Tuesday, the New England Patriots quarterback acknowledged that dealing with criticism comes with the job of being an athlete. He also offered a theory about why it’s easier for football fans to direct their animosity toward a particular player or team.

“I think it’s a different part about football, for example, in America,” Brady said. “I mean, if you look at a lot of other sports around the world, at some point, maybe you get to represent your country, like watching the World Cup in the summer. I see all these soccer players that play for these different clubs but then come together for their country at some point.

“In America, we never get a chance to do that. So, most Americans that live in other parts of the country, they don’t like the Patriots. They don’t like me, and I can understand that. I mean, I was a 49ers fan at one point. They want to see their team win, and when they don’t, I think they’ve got to direct that frustration somewhere else. When you’ve been successful like our team has been, I think frustration gets directed at us, and that’s just part of it.”

Niklas Kronwall has over 12 NHL seasons under his belt, but he enters the 2018-19 campaign knowing it could be his last.

The 37-year-old Kronwall is among the oldest players on the Detroit Red Wings‘ roster and with teams now favoring younger stars over seasoned veterans, he’s realistic about where he stands.

“I know where I’m at right now. A year from now I don’t know where I’ll be at,” Kronwall said, according to NHL.com’s Mike Zeisberger. “I’d love to sign (for) another year but let’s face it. The team’s getting younger. I’m getting older. The game’s getting faster. I’m not the same player I was 10 years ago. But I’m going to do what I can this year both on the ice and off the ice. And just try to be as efficient as I possibly can.”

Kronwall is entering the final season of a seven-year, $33.25-million contract. While he’d love to sign on for another tour of duty, if this is the end for the native of Stockholm, Sweden, he’s appreciative of what the Red Wings organization has done for him.

“If this happens to be the end of the road, I would be more than happy with the journey that I’ve had and more than thankful to the Ilitch family and (general manager) Kenny Holland for giving me the opportunity that I have for being able to be with the same team for my entire career,” Kronwall, said. “We’ll see what happens.

“I’ve been fortunate enough to play in Detroit all these years and I have a tough time seeing myself in a different jersey.”

Kronwall won a Stanley Cup with the Red Wings in 2008 and ranks fourth in franchise scoring by a defenseman.

The New York Giants‘ joint practice with the Detroit Lions brought back memories for Odell Beckham Jr.

At the 2014 NFL Draft, Beckham was still available with the Lions on the clock with the 10th pick of the first round.

“I thought that Tampa Bay was a possibility. I thought Buffalo was a possibility; they traded up and got Sammy (Watkins at No. 4). Tampa took Mike Evans (No. 7),” Beckham recalled after practice, according to Carlos Monarrez of the Detroit Free Press.

“And then 10th, I was like, ‘Alright, I’m going to go to Detroit.'”

Instead, the Lions selected tight end Eric Ebron, the first player at his position to come off the board.

Detroit had acquired Golden Tate in free agency to pair with superstar Calvin Johnson, but receiver remained an area of need. Beckham thought everything was lined up.

“Didn’t happen and then I went 12th to the Giants. So I think it worked out perfectly. But I do remember that.”

That season, the Lions finished 12th in passing, while the Giants ranked seventh on the strength of Beckham’s 91-catch, 1,305-yard, 12-TD season.

A new online petition is calling for LeBron James to replace Betsy DeVos as U.S. Secretary of Education.

The Care2 petition, addressed to President Donald Trump, has received over 10,000 signatures as of Thursday morning.

“LeBron James is an inspiration to kids all over the country,” the petition reads. “He’s shown he cares about America’s youth and understands the power of public education in helping children meet their true potential.”

The petition also highlights James’ I Promise School, which opened in Akron, Ohio last week. The school will provide education and support to approximately 240 at-risk third- and fourth-graders and their families.

The fan who launched the petition acknowledges it’s unlikely James will give up his basketball career, but says “it’s worth a try.”

WWE has confirmed that RAW Women’s Champion Alexa Bliss will face WWE Hall of Famer Trish Stratus at the first-ever all-women’s Evolution pay-per-view on October 28 from Long Island.

As noted, a graphic was on display at WWE NXT “Takeover: Brooklyn IV” tonight that spoiled the match. It’s worth noting that the graphic did not have Bliss with her title, indicating a possible SummerSlam title change for Ronda Rousey.

Below is WWE’s announcement on Stratus vs. Bliss:

Raw Women’s Champion Alexa Bliss vs. Trish StratusAs if WWE Evolution, the groundbreaking all-women’s pay-per-view, wasn’t already historic enough, Raw Women’s Champion Alexa Bliss will face seven-time Women’s Champion Trish Stratus in what is sure to be a match for the ages.

The Goddess, who is set to defend her Raw Women’s Championship against Ronda Rousey at SummerSlam, will battle the WWE Hall of Famer for the first time at the pay-per-view event set for Sunday, Oct. 28, at 7 ET/4 PT. Not only will this be Bliss and Stratus’ first match against each other, but it will also mark Stratus’ first match since competing in the first-ever Women’s Royal Rumble Match earlier this year.

WWE Evolution will stream live on WWE Network, featuring women’s championship matches from Monday Night Raw, SmackDown LIVE, NXT and NXT UK, as well as the final of the second annual Mae Young Classic 2018.

Of course he’d never leave.

Stephen Curry has set endless records during his nine-year tenure with the Golden State Warriors and won three of the last four NBA championships. The two-time MVP joined “The Bill Simmons Podcast” this week and discussed whether or not he wants to end his career in the Bay Area.

“For sure I do,” Curry told Simmons. “This is home. This is where I want to be, for obvious reasons.”

Curry grew up in the Charlotte area where his father, Dell, played for the Hornetsfor 10 seasons. The 30-year-old superstar went to high school in Charlotte and attended Davidson college in North Carolina for three years before forgoing his senior season for the 2009 NBA Draft.

Despite his old connection to the city, Curry has no desire to return to the East, citing his love for the Oakland area.

“I love the Bay Area, man,” Curry added. “The only reason I go home now is if my sister’s getting married or to go play the Hornets for that one game, so I haven’t really been back much. I haven’t put my mind there.”

Curry was drafted No. 7 overall by the Warriors and has become one of the game’s most electric players, recording four of the top-five 3-point shooting seasons in NBA history.

The Miz recently opened up on the Gorilla Position about Daniel Bryan. He praised him at first, but turned things around quickly to say Bryan acts like he doesn’t want the fame and notoriety but that is all a facade.

“One of the most talented in-ring performers that WWE has ever seen behind me. He is incredible in the ring he was incredibly on the mic, he creates sympathy,” The Miz said of Bryan.

“I also think that, how do you put this? Daniel Bryan looks like he doesn’t want the attention but he does. He acts like he doesn’t want the notoriety but he does. If he didn’t want — I say it through and through — I want notoriety I want people to look and see what I want, you know what I mean? I want people to say ‘wow The Miz is doing this, this, and this.’ Daniel Bryan kinda pushes it off and says: ‘no, no, no.’ But he really does. Because if he didn’t then he would have left WWE but he liked the attention. ”

The Miz addressed the famous Talking Smack segment where he let loose on Bryan. He described his mindset during that time as he vented his frustrations on Bryan and what really set him off during the famous segment.

“People always sit there and talk about Talking Smack. They always bring up the incident of Talking Smack. What did I do on there that was so terrible? Because if you do remember and nobody does remember exactly what happened just talks about Talking Smack, Talking Smack, Talking Smack but they don’t really look into it and see exactly what happened.

“I came in there and Daniel Bryan came at me. He called me a coward which wasn’t the worst part about it. It was him saying I have a soft style of wrestling which really kinda triggered everything. That’s when it really just clicked and I kinda went off on him all the frustrations I was going through in my life was just taken out on Daniel Bryan.”

The Miz said sometimes he goes on autopilot and his mouth keeps going, this is what he said took place during Talking Smack. He said Bryan is all about fighting for his dreams but on that day he walked away. Bryan previously spoke to Gorilla Position and admitted he walked away because he didn’t want to punch The Miz in the face.

“I was expecting to get hit. I was expecting something to happen,” The Miz continued. “Then he walked away. So I had to literally turn to the camera and show focus where focus was due and that Intercontinental Championship and myself.”

The Miz addressed what he thinks is really going on between him and Bryan. The eight-time Intercontental Champion said it all boils down to jealousy because he was able to do something Bryan wasn’t. He also said Bryan isn’t on the level he was four years ago and hasn’t reached the same caliber The Miz is at yet.

“I think there’s some jealousy if I’m really being honest of the fact that I was able to do what he couldn’t. I was still able to do what he couldn’t, but now he’s able to do that. But I don’t think he’s at the level that he was four years ago. He’s not, and people are always saying Miz vs Daniel Bryan, Daniel Bryan vs The Miz but he’s not at the caliber that I’m at right now.

“Has he showcased anything since he’s been back that he is a main event-level talent beside the audience doing the, ‘yes, yes, yes’ that was cool four years ago? Has he had a match where you go, ‘wow he’s back. He’s showcasing all the stuff that Daniel Bryan knows how to do.

“Granted he was very long in the Greatest Royal Rumble but that’s the Greatest Royal Rumble Match. You can sit there and take somebody’s finisher and not get thrown over the top rope and just lay there for an hour. Granted, did he lay there for an hour? No. But that is not a singles match. He is not at the talent that he was four years ago and it takes a lot of time. This isn’t like riding a bike.”

Bret Hart’s exit from the WWF after the 1997 Survivor Series is a legendary story. After the Montreal Screwjob cost Hart his WWF World Heavyweight Championship, he had a conversation with Vince McMahon backstage in a closed office. This meeting resulted in Hart punching McMahon in the face on his last night with the company. Hart recently spoke to the In This Corner podcast about that fateful night in Montreal where Hart said he considers it a defining moment in his career.

“In some ways, I’m not so proud of that moment but in a lot of ways, I think it was the single defining moment of my lifetime,” Hart said. “You know I often second guess a lot of what I did that day punching Vince and you know I think it made me feel good a few months ago when Chris Jericho was on a podcast and he was talking about Bret Hart should have done this or Bret Hart should have done that, but all these people who are talking about me they don’t know my circumstance. They don’t know what rights I had in my contract that gave me legal precedent. I had creative control for my last sixty days right there I was legally in the right to do the things I stood up for.”

Hart said what it came down to was Shawn Michaels telling him that he wasn’t going to put The Hitman over. He said it was a professional discourtesy and many other people would have taken the same tact as he did. Hart also said it was a “bunch of bad guys that were up to no good” before continuing to explain the situation he was in.

“It kinda stings when I think of how much I gave to WWF and how they just wanted to stab me in the back that day and sweep me out the back door and have nobody ever hear from me again. All that I did meant nothing, all those years taping up injuries and working sick and I’d worked for WWF for at least three hundred days a year for at least sixteen years and it meant nothing to them in the end.”

A lot has happened in WWE and Hart’s life since he punched McMahon. He continued to open up about the situation where he said he has gotten over the Montreal Screwjob because all the other struggles that have happened along the way took precedent.

“You get past it when you go through other struggles in your life. When I deal with my brother Owen getting killed, and Bulldog, so many other wrestling friends of mine that have passed away. You know to having a stroke and almost dying from a stroke years ago and having my brush with prostate cancer two years ago. It’s like I don’t have time to worry about what happened with Shawn Michaels or Vince McMahon almost thirty years ago.

“If I had to do it again I would have probably done the exact same thing again. I have no regrets on my behavior. I look at it myself in some ways as my crowning moment. My moment to stand up and say I’m a businessman and I’m gonna protect myself and you don’t have the right to destroy me. You might have a contract that employes me as a wrestler but you don’t have the right to destroy me, rape me. When I look at what I did, what I stood up for I believe I stood up for all the boys in wrestling.”

Hart said he sees a little bit of himself in CM Punk. After Survivor Series ’97, there was talk that McMahon might press charges against The Hitman for punching him. Hart continued to comment on how he feels Punk stood up for not only himself, but the rest of the locker room when he walked out of WWE after the 2014 Royal Rumble.

“I think the same could have been said about CM Punk as an example. You know his standing up and saying, ‘hey I’m doing all the work around here, you’re gonna give Batista and Brock Lesnar and Triple H all these guys who are part-timers who are home every day, they’re getting all the main event matches at WrestleMania and I’m the one pulling the wagon around here and I wanna be in the main event.’ They tried to smooth it over and sugarcoat it and offer him everything but a main event spot so he quit like he held them up on that.

“I heard some guys talking bad about CM Punk in the car about he wasn’t one of the boys or something like that. I’m thinking, ‘he gave up so much to prove a point for the wrestlers.’ You know that the wrestlers are doing the work, put the wrestlers in the main event spot. He stood on those principals and he lost his job, gave up a lot to make that point but he was right and he took a bullet for the industry. I’m glad he won that case a few weeks ago because I’m sure that there was a lot of pressure on him to wear him down and break him in that case.”

After 11 NHL seasons, Ondrej Pavelec is calling it a career.

Pavelec signed a one-year contract with the New York Rangers last summer to back up Henrik Lundqvist. He suited up in 19 games for the Blueshirts in 2017-18, posting a .910 save percentage.

He finishes his career with 398 appearances, recording 156 wins and 18 shutouts.

NBA commissioner Adam Silver sent a memo “strongly” encouraging all 30 teams to increase the number of women in their organizations in general, including in leadership roles, and improve reporting processes for sexual harassment, sources told The Athletic’s Shams Charania.

The memo apparently also asks teams to “evaluate all executives on efforts to eliminate harassment, conduct anonymous workplace surveys, (and) provide consistent discipline when misconduct is substantiated,” Charania writes.

The recommendations in the reported memo are extremely similar to the NBA’s recommendations to the Dallas Mavericks, which were made public Wednesday after an investigation into the franchise’s workplace culture. The league’s investigation determined that numerous instances of sexual harassment and inappropriate conduct had occurred within the Mavericks organization over a period of more than 20 years.

Lio Rush and Bobby Lashley’s friendship seemingly came out of nowhere, with the 205 Live high-flyer first appearing in a brief hype-up segment last week, before indulging in a spot of verbal sparring with Elias on his new ally’s behalf on the 17 September episode.

It’s a surprising development, as ‘The Man Of The Hour’ was only promoted from NXT to 205 Live on 26 June. He’s still making a name for himself on the cruiserweight show, where he remains active, but now looks set for a considerable Raw role on top of this.

According to PW Insider’s Mike Johnson, Vince McMahon is the driving force behind all this.

Having cut a promo on social media, Rush supposedly took it to the Chairman directly, and Vince was extremely impressed with what he saw. Thus, Lio was promoted to his new position as Lashley’s sidekick.

The nascent alliance is already delivering wild entertainment, with Rush’s charisma and freakish athleticism on full display this Monday night. If it continues, it may be the tonic needed to revive Lashley’s career, as the big man has struggled to capture the audience’s imagination since returning in April.

Lonzo Ball‘s unorthodox shooting form and weak percentages during his rookie campaign with the Los Angeles Lakers drew a great deal of criticism.

The 20-year-old point guard is at least self aware of his shortcomings as a shooter, which is why he took it upon himself to try and improve that facet of his game by reworking his form over the summer.

“”We didn’t want to bother him [his shot],” said team president Magic Johnson on Thursday, according to ESPN’s Ohm Youngmisuk. “I think he decided to do that on his own.

“And, man, it is beautiful.”

Johnson said that Ball now brings the ball more in front of him and does the same with his follow through. Where he sets and releases his shot hasn’t changed.

“I think his shot looks incredible,” added general manager Rob Pelinka. “He was here every day. He was one of the most committed guys this offseason. … The way he’s shooting the ball looks a lot more fluid now.

“One of the things about his college metrics is he was an outstanding 3-point shooter. With this team, with so many different ball handlers, I think that’s a strength for him. If he pushes it ahead to someone and runs and fills a spot, and he’s a catch-and-shoot player, he’s going to have the ability, I think, to be a good shooter.”

Ball converted 41.2 percent of his 3-pointers during his lone season at UCLA, with that number dropping to just 30.5 percent during his first season in the NBA. The second overall pick of the 2017 draft shot 36 percent overall across 52 outings, including 33.5 percent on the catch-and-shoot and 31.7 percent on pullup shots.

Of the 154 players in the Association who played 1,700 or more total minutes, Ball ranked 153rd in true shooting percentage at 44.4 percent.

He underwent arthroscopic surgery on his left knee in July and will be ready for the start of Lakers training camp, although he’ll initially be held out of five-on-five drills.

He may not be the dominant middleman Montreal Canadiens fans were hoping for, but there will be a new top center in La Belle Province this season.

Speaking with TSN 690’s Tony Marinaro on Monday, Canadiens general manager Marc Bergevin confirmed summer acquisition Max Domi will skate at center, while last offseason’s big-ticket addition, Jonathan Drouin, will move to the wing.

“(Drouin) has been playing the wing since the beginning of camp,” Bergevin told Marinaro. “We have Max Domi playing in the middle right now …

“The first half of last year, I think (Drouin) had a hard time (at center). The second half, especially toward the end, he got better and better,” Bergevin continued. “We’re going to try Max in the middle because he did play some center in Phoenix last year. We’d like to try that for now but we know we could also put Jonathan in the middle if need be, so it just gives us more options.”

With the Arizona Coyotes last year, Domi saw a stretch of games at center midseason – his first time playing the position since age 16 – and played well defensively according to former bench boss Rick Tocchet. He appeared in all 82 games with the Coyotes a year ago, finishing the campaign with nine goals and 36 assists. However, he was less than 45 percent efficient in the faceoff dot, far behind fellow centers Derek StepanChristian Dvorak, and Brad Richardson.

Bergevin also rattled off how he envisions the rest of his lineup fitting in at center.

“We’ve got (Phillip) Danault. There’s (Tomas) Plekanec, there’s (Matthew) Peca,” Bergevin said. “Right now we have Big Mac (Michael McCarron), but he could also play the wing. We have (Jacob) de la Rose, who can also play the wing.”

Bergevin added that top prospects Jesperi Kotkaniemi and Nick Suzuki have been trying their hand at center in training camp as well.