O.J. Simpson arrives for his parole hearing at Lovelock Correctional Centre in Lovelock

After spending almost nine years in a Nevada state prison, O.J. Simpson was granted parole Thursday.

The 70-year-old former NFL star was serving a 33-year sentence for armed robbery and assault with a deadly weapon. He was expected to be given parole after keeping a clean record behind bars since being found guilty in October 2008.

Simpson’s official release won’t come until October, when he meets the mandatory minimum of nine years in prison.

The Hall of Fame running back was arrested in September 2007 after he and five men stole sports memorabilia from two dealers in a Las Vegas hotel room. Simpson claimed the memorabilia was originally stolen from him, but that argument didn’t hold up in court.

After infamously being found not guilty in the murders of his ex-wife, Nicole Brown Simpson, and her friend, Ron Goldman, in 1995, Simpson found himself in legal trouble several times before being incarcerated. Following the criminal trial, he lost a civil suit that ordered him to pay a total of $33.5 million to the families of Brown Simpson and Goldman, forcing him to auction off much of his own memorabilia to contribute to the damages. He also picked up charges for battery, auto-burglary, and speeding between 2000 and 2002, had the FBI and DEA raid his house in 2001, and lost a civil suit to DirecTV in 2005.

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Golden State Warriors star and reigning NBA Finals Most Valuable Player Kevin Durant is making his way to India next Thursday.

“I’m excited to travel to India to help promote the game of basketball and meet the prospects at the NBA Academy India,” Durant told ESPN’s Chris Haynes. “I’ve wanted to visit India for a long time, and I can’t wait to experience the country’s unique culture and share my knowledge with the kids there.”

As part of his journey, Durant will arrive in New Delhi and donate two basketball courts to the Ramjas School on behalf of his charity, the Kevin Durant Charity Foundation.

He’ll then host a massive youth basketball clinic in Noida at the NBA Academy, with roughly 5,000 male and female kids from the Reliance Foundation Jr. NBA program slated to participate.

“We are thrilled to host 2017 Finals MVP Kevin Durant in India,” said NBA India’s managing director Yannick Colaco. “Kevin is coming off a historic season with the Golden State Warriors. Having one of the very best players in our league interact with the basketball-playing youth of India will serve as great inspiration to the next generation of players here, especially the high-performing prospects at the NBA Academy India.”

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10 years on from the Chris Benoit tragedy, Chris Jericho is set to discuss the incident with the Wrestling Observer’s Dave Meltzer on this Friday’s Talk Is Jericho podcast.

Y2J made the announcement earlier today, along with news that Wednesday’s show will focus on his own childhood:-

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Jericho has used his podcast to talk about the tragedy on several occasions. The first in-depth discussion came during Chavo Guerrero’s appearance on the show’s 11th episode, and the most recent came in June 2016, when Sandra Toffoloni – sister of the late Nancy Benoit – featured on Talk Is Jericho.

A stark, sobering interview, it cleared up much of the misinformation surrounding the incident, and covered new ground on everything from the day Sandra first met Benoit to the capricious deterioration of his marriage. As wrestling’s most renowned journalist, Meltzer has never been shy of speaking on the subject either, so Friday’s show shouldn’t be short of depth.

The tragedy’s 10-year anniversary passed on June 24th, making this a timely discussion. It still casts a shadow over wrestling, and while WWE have understandably distanced themselves from it, it continues to influence the way they do business today.

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CM Punk was recently asked during an appearance on ESPN Radio out of Chicago, IL if there was any part of him that misses professional wrestling.

“Not at all,” the former WWE Champion said to ESPN Radio Chicago (h/t Wrestling Observer Newsletter).

Punk revealed WWE has sent lawyers and people by proxy after him because they’re mad he “called them on their BS.” One example of this is WWE senior ringside physician Dr. Chris Amann suing Punk for defamation over comments he made on Colt Cabana’s Art of Wrestling podcast in 2014. Cabana was a co-defendant in the suit.

Punk (0-1) stated he hasn’t spoken to UFC president Dana White in several months but he wants to fight again. Punk believes he’ll know what is next for him in another month or two.

CM Punk, 38, left WWE suddenly after Royal Rumble 2014. He went on to sign a multi-fight contract with the UFC that was announced in December 2014. His fighting debut took place last September, where he lost to Mickey Gall at UFC 203 in 2:14.

He has continued to train at Roufusport under the direction of Duke Roufus. Dana White is on record as to saying Punk is probably not going to fight in the UFC again.

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Carolina Panthers owner Jerry Richardson announced Monday that general manager Dave Gettleman has been fired. Gettleman had been the Panthers’ GM since 2013.

“After much thought and a long evaluation of our football operations, I have decided to relieve Dave Gettleman of his duties as general manager,” Richardson said. “I want to thank Dave for the role he played in our success over the past four seasons. While the timing of this decision is not ideal, a change is needed.”

As Richardson admitted, it’s a surprising decision at this stage of the offseason, especially considering Gettleman built a roster that went to the Super Bowl in 2015.

The Panthers did severely regress in 2016, finishing the season 6-10, but there were no signs that Gettleman’s job was in danger.

He inherited a roster that was hard up against the cap due to poor contract decisions by the previous regime, making the Panthers’ run to the Super Bowl even more impressive, though the roster remains worryingly top heavy.

NFL Network’s Ian Rapoport reports Gettleman’s deteriorating relationship with Richardson was a factor in the decision, with the issues stemming from Gettleman’s handling of the Josh Norman situation last offseason, which ended with the Panthers removing the franchise tag from the cornerback and allowing him to sign with the Washington Redskins in free agency.

The timing of the firing is even worse considering that Carolina’s former assistant GM who was the likely in-house favorite to replace Gettleman, Brandon Beane, left to become the Buffalo Bills’ GM in May.

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Conor McGregor made a bad situation worse on Thursday, answering claims that he’s racist by making more controversial comments.

McGregor claimed to be “black from the belly button down” before thrusting his hips for all his “black female fans,” and Floyd Mayweather took offense to the Irishman’s remarks. The 40-year-old reflected on comments he made when he was younger, but made sure to let McGregor know he had crossed a line.

“He disrespected my daughter, disrespected the mother of my daughter, disrespected black women, calling black people monkeys – it’s totally disrespectful,” Mayweather said in his post-event press conference. “When I was young, I may have said some things that I shouldn’t have said when I was young, but we live, we learn, and you don’t say those things once you get to a certain age because it’s all about growth and maturity. But it’s total disrespect …

“You do not disrespect – I don’t care if it’s white women, black women, white men, black men, Asian, Latina, or Latino – you don’t disrespect people. To get respect, you must give respect. We live and we learn.. when he get’s older, he’ll probably look back and say ‘I shouldn’t have said that.'”

McGregor, still shirtless, responded to claims of his perceived racism after the event, claiming that his comments were intended to poke fun at how “stupid and ridiculous” he felt the accusation was to begin with.

“It doesn’t really sit well with me,” McGregor told media about accusations that he is racist. “I’m a very multicultural individual. I don’t have any ill feelings towards anyone. I don’t even see color.

“I just wanted to say something and have a bit of fun with it … I just wanted to play with it and address it in my own little way. It’s stupid and it’s ridiculous is basically what I was getting at.”

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WWE is keen on the idea of bringing CM Punk back to the company, according to the Wrestling Observer’s Dave Meltzer (via Wrestling News).

The 38-year-old walked out in early 2014 amid frustrations over his injury concerns, as well as long-standing creative differences.

He would later publicly air his grievances on Colt Cabana’s Art of Wrestling podcast, where he appeared to rule out a return to WWE.

But according to Meltzer, Punk has not completely burnt his bridges in the eyes of management, who would be open to the prospect of a reunion.

Speaking on a recent edition of the Wrestling Observer Newsletter, the respected wrestling journalist said: “No matter what is said, WWE wants CM Punk back.”

Few will be surprised to learn that Vince McMahon would be happy to roll out the red carpet for Punk, having previously done so for the likes of Ultimate Warrior, Bret Hart, Kurt Angle and Goldberg – who also departed in acrimony.

But Punk himself has so far shown little indication he would be prepared to reverse his retirement. The Straight Edge Superstar is reportedly still pursuing a career in the octagon, having fought his first match – a defeat to Micky Gall – back in September.

Until he formally puts the latest rumours to bed, though, speculation around his future is likely to continue.

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Everyone in the league has their own solution to address tanking, but Miami Heat president Pat Riley’s suggestion might be the most entertaining.

Riley wants non-playoff teams to play a tournament for the right to select first overall, instead of having a random lottery with weighted odds determine their fate.

“What I’d like to have is a two-out-of-three lottery playoff … The lottery teams play a tournament for that (No. 1) pick,” Riley told Ira Winderman of the Sun Sentinel on Monday.

Riley added, “No more tanking at the end … so play for it. Let’s have a little playoff for the top pick in the draft.”

The current rules reward those at the bottom and penalize teams that come closest to making the playoffs. A franchise like the Los Angeles Lakers that had no aspirations of winning landed the second pick for a third straight year, while a team like the Heat that refused to tank after a 11-30 start got the No. 14 selection following a brilliant finish.

Under Riley’s structure, there would always be an incentive to build the strongest roster possible. The Heat didn’t make the playoffs, but their roster would have ranked as a favorite to win the lottery sweepstakes and take the top pick. At the very least, it would create an entertaining product.

But there are flaws, too, with Riley’s plan. Low playoff seeds might choose to tank into the lottery if they prefer a strong chance at a pick over a small chance in the postseason. This structure might also leave poor franchises without any chance of upward mobility through the draft.

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Floyd Mayweather appears to have unfinished business with the IRS after all.

The undefeated boxer is facing a $22-million tax lien filed March 6, according to documents obtained by Gilbert Manzano of the Las Vegas Review-Journal.

“Money” filed a tax court petition for a reprieve on back taxes from 2015 on July 5, citing insufficient liquidity, and reportedly claimed he’d be able to square away the debt in 60 days, by which time he’ll have locked horns with Conor McGregor in a fight expected to net him north of $100 million.

The 40-year-old has also requested a Collection Due Process Hearing, meant for one to explain why their debt can’t be paid or to contest any taxes owed. Such hearings can reportedly take upward of 60 days to book.

Mayweather has since responded to reports of his tax woes by maintaining he paid $26 million in taxes in 2015, a year in which he pocketed $250 million for a superfight with Manny Pacquiao that sold more than 4.5 million pay-per-views.

The pugilist meets McGregor in a 12-round boxing match Aug. 26 at Las Vegas’ T-Mobile Arena.

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A return to Montreal, a Mexico debut, or a new team in the Carolinas are all potential future scenarios for Major League Baseball, commissioner Rob Manfred said Monday.

Speaking prior to the Home Run Derby in Miami, Manfred remained adamant the the league’s current priority is finding new stadiums for both the Tampa Bay Rays and Oakland Athletics, but acknowledged he believes MLB could be sustainable in three other cities.

“I know the mayor of Montreal has been very vocal about bringing baseball back to Montreal,” Manfred said, according to Mark Newman of MLB.com. “Charlotte’s a possibility. And I’d like to think that Mexico City or some other place in Mexico would be a possibility.”

MLB hasn’t expanded since 1998 when the league added Tampa Bay and the Arizona Diamondbacks, and hasn’t relocated since the Expos left Montreal for Washington at the conclusion of the 2004 season.

Absence makes the heart grow fonder.

A group of local lawmakers is proposing the New York Islanders return to Nassau Coliseum, the barn which the team called home for more than 40 seasons before it uprooted for Brooklyn’s Barclays Center in 2015.

Nassau and Suffolk county lawmakers will hold a press conference Friday, urging the firm redeveloping Nassau Coliseum to make the required upgrades needed for the Islanders’ return.

“We have been assured by (developer) Nassau Events Center that they are very willing to make necessary modifications to accommodate an NHL team,” Nassau lawmakers wrote in a letter to the Islanders’ ownership, according to Robert Brodsky and Jim Baumbach of Newsday.

Seating capacity was a primary concern why the Islanders left Nassau Coliseum, a 1971-built arena that had 16,170 seats. The ongoing renovation has reduced it to 13,000. The Winnipeg Jets are home to the NHL’s smallest arena by seating capacity, coming in at 15,294.

In a statement to Newsday, NHL commissioner Gary Bettman said Nassau Coliseum is not a “suitable option” for the Islanders.

However, the move to Brooklyn has not been without its own concerns, as the arena was initially built for basketball, leaving many seats with an obstructed view of the Islanders’ ice surface.

The Islanders have a 25-year lease at Barclays Center, but can opt out of the agreement as early as 2018. In April, the team submitted a request for proposal to build a new arena at Belmont Park in Nassau County.

While the location of the team’s future home remains uncertain, the Islanders will play at least one more game at Nassau Coliseum, as it was announced last month that the arena will host a preseason game next season between the Islanders and Philadelphia Flyers.

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Former ROH World Champion Kyle O’Reilly made his WWE debut at the NXT tapings on Wednesday night at Full Sail University.

Facing Aleister Black in singles action, the Canadian didn’t undergo a name change (ironically unlike his opponent, who was switched from Tommy End upon signing a WWE contract) and was simply billed as Kyle O’Reilly. There was even a huge graphic emblazoned on the tron to confirm the O’Reilly name is here to stay.

There had been rumours that O’Reilly was set to sign with WWE for a few months, but this was his first appearance for the company. His NXT debut comes hot on the heels of his former tag-team partner Bobby Fish also losing to Black on TV, so WWE may be tempted to use the pair as a team.

Collectively known as reDRagon, Fish and O’Reilly held the ROH Tag-Team Titles on 3 separate occasions and are 2-time IWGP Junior Heavyweight Tag Champs. In addition, the team also won the 2014 Super Junior Tag-Team Tournament in NJPW.

O’Reilly’s first match for WWE is scheduled to air on the August 2 episode of NXT.

NHL: New York Islanders at Pittsburgh Penguins

HALIFAX, Nova Scotia (AP) Sidney Crosby said Wednesday he did not pay attention to those questioning whether he should continue playing hockey after suffering another concussion during the playoffs.

Crosby was too focused on capturing another Stanley Cup for his Pittsburgh Penguins to worry about outside opinions on his health.

”I don’t really read or listen to that stuff during the playoffs,” Crosby told reporters at his annual hockey camp in his hometown of Cole Harbor, Nova Scotia.

Crosby has suffered multiple concussions during his career, including one during Game 3 of the second round against Washington in May. He missed one game before returning for Game 5, prompting questions about whether he should consider retirement.

The Penguins went on to win a second straight Cup, defeating the Nashville Predators in the final.

Crosby said he understands why concussions generate so much controversy.

”It’s a hot topic,” he said. ”That’s the nature of it right now.”

He said more information on how to deal with head injuries is becoming available all the time.

”You have to continue to listen to your body to make sure before you go back that you’re good to go,” he said. ”There’s things in place to help with that.”

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The NBA is in no hurry to address the issue of conference imbalance.

It was reported recently that multiple Western Conference team owners reached out to the league to propose ways to solve the power disparity, with their half of the league being so much stronger than the East.

It’s a problem the NBA has had for some time, and delved into two years ago only to find that abolishing conferences would be infeasible.

“We concluded that given all the focus on sports science, health of our players, impact of travel, it didn’t make sense, at least at this time, to move to a balanced schedule, because again, we play an imbalanced schedule,” commissioner Adam Silver said Wednesday at the Board of Governors presser, as quoted by ASAP Sports.

“Teams in the East obviously play each other more than teams in the West, and the notion is if you’re going to see one through 16, the only fair way to do it is then have a balanced schedule throughout the season.”

Silver explained that balancing out the schedule league-wide would necessitate far too much travel.

“The conclusion was that at least given the state of travel, the state of science on travel, we’re better off staying in the conference system the way we have it, and of course same implications for the playoffs; the notion, again, of having teams crisscrossing the country in the first round didn’t seem to make sense to our teams,” he added.

That said, the NBA isn’t ruling out the possibility of someday realigning conferences or changing the playoff format. In fact, Silver said he assumed the league will eventually look into it again.

“I think for the league, I think many of us felt a 1-through-16 playoff made more sense. And maybe there’s also the potential – it’s in some ways a separate issue, should you reseed after every round as some leagues do? I think those are the things we’ll continue to look at, but it’s not at the top of the agenda right now.”

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Britney Spears may be returning to the Super Bowl halftime show.

The pop star’s associates have had “secret discussions” with television and advertising executives connected to Super Bowl LII, according to the New York Daily News.

“Britney has made it clear to her team that it is a dream to perform at a Super Bowl,” one insider told the Daily News. “She has the hits package and appeal to be a headliner.”

The report goes on to say that Spears could “also be packaged with other big acts to fill the 12-minute slot.”

The 35-year-old previously performed alongside NSYNC, Aerosmith, Nelly, and Mary J. Blige during the Super Bowl XXXV halftime show in 2001.

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Joe Montana doesn’t seem bothered by Colin Kaepernick‘s inability to land a new NFL contract. In fact, it makes perfect sense to him.

While some claim Kaepernick’s acts of protest have led to his unemployment, the Hall of Famer believes his fellow former San Francisco 49ers quarterback’s playing style doesn’t jell with the NFL’s current state.

“That style of quarterback, everybody thought was going to take over the NFL,” Montana told For The Win’s Charles Curtis on Tuesday, referring to Kaepernick’s tendency to play outside the pocket. “You look at guys who had success in college, that only had success one year. Usually those guys, the next year, it’s very difficult on them.”

Kaepernick looked like he was on his way to becoming a star when he broke through as a starter in 2012 and 2013, using his legs as his primary weapon, but struggled in the following three seasons.

“The league has figured out how to defend it,” said Montana. “If I’m playing defense, I want the quarterback to run so I can hit him. In the pocket, you can’t really hit him. So you look at Tim Tebow – he’s a great guy, does a lot of great things. But when you complete 40-something percent of your passes, even in the low 50s, you’re not going to make it.”

Kaepernick’s completion percentage has never dipped below 58.4 percent over a season in his six seasons, though his career high is only 62.4 percent.

Montana admits he has some admiration for Kaepernick’s protest of the national anthem, but he understands how those demonstrations could affect the quarterback’s job prospects as well.

“I’m sure there are some distraction issues,” Montana said. “When we were playing with Bill Walsh, if you were a distraction, he didn’t care how good you were, if you didn’t mix in with the team, you weren’t there very long.”

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As Hue Jackson seeks to turn around the Cleveland Browns’ fortunes on the field, he is also looking to make a much bigger difference off it.

Jackson is set to launch the Hue Jackson Foundation, which has the goal of helping those impacted by human trafficking, according to the Browns’ official website.

The foundation will focus on awareness, prevention, and healing for victims of trafficking.

Jackson and his wife Michelle have three daughters and say they are starting the foundation for reasons close to their hearts.

Ohio has some of the highest human trafficking rates in the U.S., the Browns’ website notes.

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Zak Bevis, the real-life brother of WWE superstar Paige, noted on his Facebook page on Tuesday morning that he’s “very worried” about his sister.

“I’ve got too say I’m very worried about my sister,” Bevis wrote (sic). “Please keep a eye on her, she had one Prick Known as brad Maddox who took advantage of an 18 year old girl. Physically and mentally abused her. And now she’s with a control freak who think he’s a tough guy cause he’s beats my sister and has money too cover his tracks..”

News broke on Monday that Alberto El Patron was detained by police at the Orlando International Airport on Sunday following a domestic incident. Paige claimed the incident was not between herself and Alberto but rather with an angry fan that allegedly threw a drink on the GFW Impact World Heavyweight Champion. Audio of the incident revealed Alberto telling someone to “call the cops” and Paige crying. A witness claimed the wrestling couple were arguing at a restaurant in the airport.

“I love my sister she will end up like Whitney Houston or Amy Winehouse,” Zak wrote on Facebook. “….please share this,,I want the world to know that i care about my lil sister…..everyone keep an eye on her …you’ll be argry at me but I love you, I’m writing this on behalf of all the Knights.”

Zak also noted that their father, Ricky Knight, will weigh in later, noting, “Thanks for all the messages. Yes this is very hard to do. Ricky Knight is the head of this family and will have his say later.”

Knight has been an outspoken critic of Paige’s relationship with El Patron, something that has even boiled over into a wrestling match between them.

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Rest easy, Toronto Raptors fans, because team president Masai Ujiri intends to be with the franchise for a long, long time.

“I’m a Toronto Raptor, and I’m hoping to be a Toronto Raptor for life, whether you guys like it or not,” Ujiri said Friday in a news conference to reintroduce Serge Ibaka.

The New York Knicks were reportedly confident that they could lure Ujiri away from the Raptors to serve as their replacement for Phil Jackson in their front office. With former Raptors executive Tim Leiweke now with the Knicks in an advisory role to general manager Steve Mills, there was certainly reason to worry that he would consider a move.

Ujiri did, however, just recently sign a multi-year extension with the Raptors in 2016, so even if he wanted out (which it doesn’t sound like he does), Toronto would have sought compensation for his services.

The Raptors have yet miss the postseason since Ujiri came aboard in 2013, advancing as far as the Eastern Conference finals in 2016 and taking two games from the eventual champion Cleveland Cavaliers.

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The Indianapolis Colts will unveil a statue of Peyton Manning on Oct. 7, but his former coach Jim Mora won’t be there.

Mora, Manning’s head coach for the first four years of his career, revealed Wednesday that his former quarterback invited him to the event, but that he turned down the invitation.

“I told him I wasn’t going to come,” Mora said on WNDE radio’s “Query & Schultz” show, according to Dakota Crawford of the Indianapolis Star.

“I had reasons. I would love to come back there, but because of the way I left the Colts, my relationship with (former Colts general manager Bill) Polian, I don’t know. I just wouldn’t feel that I would feel comfortable being there.”

Mora coached Indianapolis for four seasons, going 32-32 while leading the team to the playoffs twice, where it went 0-2. Yet, it was a staffing dispute that led to his departure from the team, as he was fired for refusing to cut ties with defensive coordinator Vic Fangio.

“That’s exactly true,” Mora said. “It was either fire Vic of fire me. I was asked by Bill Polian – I was told by Bill Polian – he wanted me to fire Vic Fangio. I said, ‘Well, he doesn’t deserve to be fired. He’s an outstanding coach, was then and he still is.’ So we had talks with (owner) Jim Irsay, it came down and I wouldn’t do it …

“I couldn’t fire a friend or a coach that I felt was very qualified that didn’t deserve to be fired. So I got fired. That was it.”

It was Mora’s last coaching job in the NFL. He was replaced in Indianapolis by Tony Dungy, and Manning ultimately finished his tenure in Indy being coached by Jim Caldwell.

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Source: Something To Wrestle With Bruce Prichard

On episode 51 of Something To Wrestle With Bruce Prichard, current Impact Wrestling on-air authority figure and pro wrestling podcaster Bruce Prichard talked about WINC alum Vince Russo’s WWE run. Notably, Prichard talked about Russo advocating for Triple H, the Madison Square Garden Curtain Call, Triple H and Chyna being a “package deal” behind-the-scenes, who wanted The New Age Outlaws in D-Generation X, and who came up with WWE “attitude”.

According to Prichard, Russo was the biggest advocate for Triple H early on while Vince McMahon and Jim Cornette used to say that ‘The Game’ was a midcarder at best.

“I do remember Corny and Vince McMahon saying that Triple H would be a midcard guy at best early on in his [pro wrestling] career and Russo was a huge proponent of Triple H. And I dare say that without Russo at the helm at the time, Hunter probably would not have gotten the breaks that he got at the time.”

Prichard continued, “yeah, [Russo was Triple H’s biggest advocate at the time] and then Vince McMahon became, but Hunter was one of those guys who was always around, always asking questions, and wanting to be a part of whatever he could do to learn. I liked Hunter because I always liked his attitude, just willing to do whatever it took to learn the [pro wrestling] business, but Russo was definitely pushing Hunter and had an awful lot of ideas for him.”

On the subject of the MSG Curtain Call, Prichard claimed that everyone was offended, not just him and Cornette, as was suggested by podcast co-host Conrad Thompson from reading excerpts of Russo’s own writings.

“It was simply a feeling of what they did being disrespectful to Vince [McMahon], being disrespectful to the memory of Vince’s dad doing it in the Garden, our home. It was something that hadn’t been done before and something everybody was upset about, not just me, not just Cornette, but Vince McMahon, pretty much every one of the boys who wasn’t involved in the Curtain Call.”

Moreover, Prichard stated that Triple H was punished in an upfront way for the Curtain Call and explained that McMahon decided not to go with Triple H for King Of The Ring because The Chairman did not feel like he could trust ‘The King Of Kings’.

“Hunter was punished and he was considered for King Of The Ring, but Vince didn’t feel like he could trust him at that point in time and he wanted Hunter to prove himself and Hunter did.”

During the podcast, Prichard confirmed Russo’s assertion that dealing with either Triple H or Chyna meant dealing with both of them, calling the pair a “package deal”.

“Probably so [Triple H had to be present for Chyna’s creative meetings with Russo] from his vantage point pitching stuff. Whatever Joanie was doing, she was with Hunter, so I’m sure Hunter wanted to be there. But they were also an item at the time, so they did everything together. Whenever I’d call either one of them, the other was usually there. It was kind of a team decision because they were a package deal.”

Another rumor Prichard attempted to dispel involved D-Generation X. Pro wrestling rumor and innuendo purports that ‘The Road Dogg’ Jesse James and ‘The Bad Ass’ Billy Gunn were not picked by Triple H and Shawn Michaels to join the group. Prichard recalled that Michaels wanted The New Age Outlaws for the stable.

“The guy that brought Billy [Gunn] and Road Dogg to Vince [McMahon]’s attention was Shawn Michaels who saw those two guys. They were singles. One was a Rockabilly and then Jesse James… It was Shawn Michaels who brought them to Vince and wanted them to be a part of DX and felt that they would be a great team together.”

Finally, Prichard credited McMahon with conceiving of the ‘attitude’ concept after fining Shawn Michaels for his vulgar and explicit antics.

“That’s where Vince McMahon coined the phrase ‘attitude’ because Shawn, in his defense, was like, ‘because I’ve got attitude, you’re going to fine me, blah, blah, blah?’ And that’s where Vince, I’ll never forget, Vince came back to us and said, ‘that’s attitude! That’s what we need. We need more attitude!'”

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New England Patriots quarterback Tom Brady finally addressed his wife’s claim that he suffered a concussion during the 2016 season.

During an interview on “CBS This Morning” that aired on May 17, Gisele Bundchen said Brady suffered a concussion during the 2016 campaign but played through it. Bundchen’s comments were considered controversial in large part due to the fact that the Patriots never listed Brady with a concussion on the team’s injury report.

Brady, however, was listed on the report several times with knee and thigh ailments.

The Patriots’ superstar spoke to ESPN’s “E:60” Sunday about the concussion claim, but avoided explicitly mentioning whether he indeed suffered the injury.

“She’s there every day. I mean, we go to bed in the same bed every night, so I think she knows when I’m sore, she knows when I’m tired, she knows when I get hit. We drive home together (from games). But, she also knows how well I take care of myself. She’s a very concerned wife and very loving,” Brady said, via John Breech of CBS Sports.

Despite Bundchen’s concerns about Brady’s long-term health, the quarterback says she supports his desire to play well into his mid-forties.

“She’ll support me as long as I continue to want to play,” Brady said. “She’s like my mom, the two of them together sitting next to each other in the suite watching me get hit all day, I’m sure it’s not fun, but they know how well I take care of myself, too.”

It may never be known whether Brady suffered a concussion, but it remains clear that the quarterback is undeterred by the perils of professional football and aims to lead the Patriots well into the next decade, with a host of teams looking to dethrone the reigning champions.

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A fireworks mishap during a Fourth of July celebration damaged Nissan Stadium on Tuesday night.

Rather than going off in the air, one of the firework shells landed in the upper deck of the stadium before exploding. Some concrete and some seats were blown out, according to Terry McCormick of Titans Insider.

“It took place toward the end of the show,” said Lansden Hill, owner of Pyro Shows, which was responsible for the fireworks. “The shells are supposed to go off in the air, but this one came back down and didn’t go off until it landed in the upper deck.

“It was just one of those things that will occasionally happen. That’s why the fire code requires that we keep the crowd a certain area away from it. We know out of every 1,000 shells, not all of them are going to work right.”

Monica Fawknotson, the director of Metro Sports Authority, said there were no injuries and upcoming events aren’t expected to be impacted. She confirmed that Pyro Shows is responsible for the cost of the repairs.

The Titans’ first home game of the year is set for Aug. 19, a Week 2 preseason matchup with the Carolina Panthers.

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More than two weeks after his truck was struck by a moving train, former UFC welterweight champion Matt Hughes no longer needs a ventilator and is showing “small signs of improvement,” his sister Beth Hughes Ulrici announced Tuesday on Facebook, according to MMA Fighting’s Marc Raimondi.

The incident occurred on June 16 in Raymond, Ill., near his hometown of Hillsboro, after Hughes drove his truck over train tracks.

The vehicle was hit on the passenger side, and Hughes was subsequently transported to HSHS St. John’s Hospital in Springfield. The UFC legend did not sustain any broken bones or internal injuries, although he’d been only slightly responsive since being stabilized.

State police are still investigating, Raimondi reports.

Hughes held the UFC welterweight title on two occasions between 2001 and 2006. He’d recently entertained a return to the Octagon after retiring in late 2011.

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Yet another former NBA player is questioning Jimmy Butler‘s leadership with the Chicago Bulls.

After the Bulls traded away their best player to the Minnesota Timberwolves, retired hooper Antoine Walker called Butler a “young-guy killer” and a “bad locker room guy,” citing outbursts directed at coaches and teammates.

Bulls legend Scottie Pippen joined in the chorus Thursday, indicating that Butler didn’t act the way a franchise player should.

“I don’t think he handled it right from a leadership standpoint of what it takes to be a superstar,” the Hall of Famer said on ESPN’s “The Jump.”

Asked to elaborate, Pippen said, “Well, it’s just a lot of locker room talk that Jimmy was disrespecting the head coach, disrespecting the assistant coach. Just wasn’t showing the type of leadership that you’d expect from your best player.”

Pippen did say he feels good about Butler going to Minny, where he’ll reunite with coach Tom Thibodeau and hopefully get back on track.

Possible behind-the-scenes discord aside, Butler is coming off a career year in which he got his first All-Star start and All-NBA nod. The 2015 MIP recorded 23.9 points, 6.2 rebounds, 5.5 assists, and 1.9 steals per game and carried Chicago to the playoffs.

He also gave out his personal phone number at Thursday’s introductory press conference and instructed haters to call him.

Give him a ring, Pip.

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Dallas Cowboys quarterback Dak Prescott emerged as one of the stories of the 2016 season, leading his team to an NFC-best 13-3 record after beginning the summer as a third-string option.

After his meteoric rise to power, Prescott thanked Tony Romo for making the transition as easy as possible.

“I mean, Tony did an amazing job of helping me out. I think that’s what Tony realized is that, he couldn’t necessarily control whether he was going to play or not. But what he can control is our relationship,” Prescott said Wednesday on The Rich Eisen Show.

“And I think Tony did a great job, and I commend Tony and thank him so much for that — of being another coach for me, of helping me out, of in the middle of the game, at practice, on the field (and) off the field, giving me advice. And as a guy who went through exactly what I went through — taking over the position from an older veteran, and knowing what it’s like to be the quarterback of the Dallas Cowboys, and just helping me out.”

For those who need a brief recap of Prescott’s ascension: Romo suffered a fractured vertebra during the preseason, and Prescott excelled in his absence, taking over as the team’s starting quarterback.

Prescott played so well, however, that when Romo finally healed from his injury, the veteran’s starting position was no longer available. Eventually Romo conceded the job to Prescott, who earned Pro Bowl and Offensive Rookie of the Year honors for his performance.

Entering their second seasons, Prescott and fellow sophomore Ezekiel Elliott are the unquestioned faces of the Cowboys franchise. In becoming one of the NFL’s promising prospects, Prescott has plenty to thank the now-retired Romo for.

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Source: E&C’s Pod Of Awesomeness

Recently on E&C’s Pod Of Awesomeness, WWE Superstar Mike Kanellis, formerly Mike Bennett, talked with sports entertainment greats Edge and Christian about his departure from Impact Wrestling, why he and his wife Maria did not want to re-sign with Impact, the pair’s WWE debut, and why the timing is right for their current WWE run.

According to Kanellis, he and Maria were offered deals to return to Impact, but the one-time X-Division Champion was unsure about whether he wanted to stay with the promotion.

“We had finished up our contracts with TNA, but we were still working there. The way I was raised in the [pro] wrestling business, it’s once you decide to leave, you leave the right way, so we wanted to make sure that we would tie up any loose ends and storylines, which we did. Maria did the whole wedding angle and I was kind of slowly pushed off TV and just doing that stuff with her, so I could help those people do what they needed to do, so I was just kind of in the background in that storyline because that’s just what I believe in. So we promised that we would finish up and at that point we were in between contracts. TNA had offered us to stay and they were offering us a pretty good amount of money. And at that point, I didn’t know if I wanted to stay.”

Kanellis said he reached out to Paul Heyman for guidance and ‘The Advocate’ advised ‘The Miracle’ to contact Triple H.

“I didn’t know what I wanted to do because I was in that weird position where I want to take care of my wife and my family, but there’s still that itch, so I actually reached out to Paul Heyman and he actually was like, ‘yeah, I think you should reach out to Triple H and talk to him and see what he says.’ And so, I did. I sent him an email. And asked him what was… I said, ‘I was done with TNA and this and that and blah, blah, blah.'”

While Triple H replied to Kanellis’s email, Kanellis still accepted that it may not ultimately lead to a spot on WWE’s roster. Eventually, Kanellis got a call from WWE’s ace recruiter William Regal about signing with WWE for its main roster.

“He emailed me back and he was really nice about everything and he was like, ‘alright,’ he was like, ‘I’ll have someone be in touch with you.’ And I’m so used to… I’m kind of jaded in [pro] wrestling, just through everything, so hearing that, he was really nice, so that was great. The most I took out of it was, ‘wow, that was really great – he was really nice about everything. Cool.’ And I was like, ‘but, if I don’t hear from anybody, I’m not going to be surprised.’ But a week later, or maybe, yeah, a couple of weeks later, I don’t know, Regal called me and they offered me a contract and I was just kind of blown away. I was just kind of like, ‘holy cow!’ I think it was like the end of January or so and I was just blown away. I remember looking at Maria and I was like, ‘yeah, they offered’ and she was like, ‘oh, well, what is it? Is it NXT?’ And I was like, ‘no, they want to bring us right up to the main roster’ and she was like, ‘holy cow!’ And I was like, ‘well, we’ve got to take it.’ And so we had to reach back out to TNA and be like, ‘oh, we’re going to go in a different direction.’ It’s this weird dynamic because you want to keep everything a secret and quiet, which is impossible to do in the [pro] wrestling business nowadays.”

Kanellis divulged that he and Maria almost re-signed with TNA, but Kevin Owens told the former Kingdom stable member to wait for a week or so before deciding.

“We had talked to TNA and we were actually really close to re-signing and it was like maybe a, maybe a week before we re-signed where Kevin Owens reached out to us and he was like, ‘what are you guys doing? I heard you are re-signing with TNA. I don’t think you should do that. That’s a stupid idea. You should come here.’ And we were like, ‘well, we’re going to re-sign’ and he said, ‘I think you should wait off a week or so.’ And when we saw him the first time at TV, he was like, ‘aren’t you glad you listened to me?’ because he actually put the brakes on us re-signing with TNA. And we waited and that’s when Regal had called.”

Kanellis indicated that he and his wife had to tell Impact that they were taking a break from pro wrestling instead of saying they were going to WWE because the duo was concerned that Impact would have broken the news.

“We then had to reach out to TNA and just be like, ‘yeah, [for] personal reasons, we aren’t going to re-sign’ because if you say something to them about WWE, it’s going to get out there because what do they care at that point? And you can’t blame them, but we were like, ‘yeah, it’s personal reasons – we’re going to do other things and maybe take a break from [pro] wrestling for a little while.’ Whatever you can think of at that point. It sucks for me because I had a great time at TNA, like the locker room, the roster, and I didn’t really get a chance to say that because everything was so quiet and, like, hush-hush about WWE, so it really hurtful me because guys like EC3 and Rockstar Spud, like, the Hardys were so great there, Eli [Drake]. Like those guys, the locker room was great and I think that’s what bothers me the most about all the crap that goes on because that locker room is fantastic.”

Apparently, the couple waited nearly three months to debut at WWE Money In The Bank. Kanellis said that the waiting was very difficult, as he and Maria are better on the road together than at home.

“Right around the end of March is when we officially signed our deal with WWE and we were just ecstatic. And then it was, ‘alright’ and we waited until they were ready for us. It felt like 10 years. You’re sitting there and in theory it’s lovely. I’ve been wrestling for 15, 16 years and in theory it’s great, ‘oh, I’ll have three months to sit at home and relax.’ But after 2 weeks, me, and Maria, and the dogs were all ready to kill each other. So yeah, it’s in your blood. You’re born to move, and go, and be on the road and wrestle.” Kanellis added, “we’re better on the road than we are at home together. If we’re at home too long together, that’s when we argue and fight. When we’re on the road, and it’s stressful, and we’re going through security, and have to find hotels and rental cars and where we’re going to eat, nothing. No problem. Smooth as can be.”

On the subject of his WWE debut, Kanellis claimed that he was excited and he admitted that he would not have been ready even after 10 years of experience.

“So we were sitting [at home] for three months at that point and finally we got the call from [Director of Talent Relations] Mark Carrano and he’s like, ‘alright, it’s going to be Money In The Bank’ and I’m like, ‘oh, wow.’ Then it hit me that it’s really happening.” Kanellis explained, “I like to think that everything in life happens for a reason and when I got to the building I was very relaxed and excited and I thought to myself, ‘do you know what? The reason it took 15 years was so I could be feeling this way right now’ because five years ago, having been wrestling for 10 years, I wasn’t ready for this. And so I truly believe that it’s just like build up and build up for that moment.”

After his long journey to WWE, Kanellis indicated that he will do everything he can to stay in WWE now that he has made it.

“I want to do everything in my power to make sure I stay here and never go back to where I was and I’m going to do that.” Kanellis continued, “I just want to be here now and that’s it. I’m going to do what I need to do to be here. And I did everything I needed to do to get here. Now, I’m going to do everything I can do to be here, and stay here, and just finish off here.”

Snoop Dogg.

MMA broadcasting is about to get lifted by a hip-hop legend.

On Friday, the UFC announced that Snoop Dogg has signed on to be a play-by-play commentator for the upcoming “Dana White’s Tuesday Night Contender Series,” a Fight Pass-exclusive show designed to showcase up-and-coming talents as well as veterans looking for a second shot at the Octagon.

The 45-year-old rapper will team up with recently retired UFC fighter Urijah Faber on the “SnoopCast,” an alternative audio option that viewers will be able to switch to should they tire of a more traditional broadcast team.

“I’m a big fan of UFC and looking forward to joining the team to bring my unique take on all the action,” Snoop Dogg said. “Ya’ll in for a brand new experience with Dogg on the mic.”

“I can’t wait to call fights with the Cali legend Snoop Dogg,” Faber added. “Snoop is on another level. Hope he brings the gin because I’ll bring the juice, laid back.”

This isn’t the first time Snoop has offered his gift of gab to the Octagon. He’s previously recorded promos for the UFC, hyping up some of its star fighters as only he can.

The first episode of the “Tuesday Night Contender Series” airs July 11.

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The Vancouver Canucks have been active in free agency.

The team signed, most notably, forward Sam Gagner as well as defensemen Michael Del Zotto and Patrick Wiercioch, while also adding depth center Alex Burmistrov and signing backup goaltender Anders Nilsson.

Here’s a look at the term and valuation for each:

Gagner is coming off an 18-goal, 50-point season with Columbus, while Del Zotto will bring a much-needed puck-moving, left-hand-shot presence to the blue line.

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Brett Favre has long passed the point where annual jokes about a potential return to the playing field can be taken even remotely seriously.

That doesn’t mean he won’t eventually consider the idea of getting back in the NFL in another capacity, though.

Discussing his future in an appearance on “Wilde and Tausch” on Thursday, the Hall of Fame quarterback conceded that he’s given thought to a career as a coach or general manager.

“That type of stuff has crossed my mind,” Favre said, according to Jason Wilde of ESPN. “Because it’s no different to me than coaching. It’s being involved in the game in some aspect.”

Favre, who was notoriously indecisive toward the end of his 20-year career, retired from football for the third and final time at the conclusion of the 2010 season. His ventures in the time since include a pair of seasons coaching high school football in Mississippi.

While he stressed that he’s nowhere near a time where he’d pursue something of the sort in the NFL, adding that he doesn’t want to miss any of his daughter’s volleyball career, Favre is admittedly intrigued.

As for the possibility of returning to the league with the Packers, he issued a “never say never” about what he considered to be a “dream job.”

Either way, the Hall of Fame quarterback would love the opportunity to pass down the things he learned and experienced over the course of his two decades in the NFL.

“I feel like that if I don’t coach or work at that level in some point of my life, that I’m going to waste a lot of knowledge that I have that I should be using it with kids – or adults, at that (NFL) level,” he said.

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The Los Angeles Lakers have their point guard of the future after selecting UCLA product Lonzo Ball in Thursday’s NBA draft – a move that made D’Angelo Russell expendable days prior.

While introducing Ball to the media, Lakers president Magic Johnson thanked Russell for his two years with the organization, but acknowledged that he wasn’t the right guy to lead the team.

“I’m going to do what it takes to get the right players in here with the right mindset. D’Angelo (Russell) is an excellent player. He has the talent to be an All-Star. We want to thank him for what he did for us,” Johnson said Friday, according to the Los Angeles Daily News’ Mark Medina. “But what I needed was a leader. I needed somebody that also can make the other players better and also (somebody) that players want to play with.”

Russell, along with the $54 million remaining on Timofey Mozgov‘s contract, were sent to the Brooklyn Nets in exchange for Brook Lopez and the 27th pick, which was used on Utah’s Kyle Kuzma.

During his short tenure with the Lakers, Russell’s character and maturity were brought into question on multiple occasions, including an incident in which he secretly recorded Nick Young confessing to cheating on his now ex-fiancee, musician Iggy Azalea.

Russell was essentially a shooting guard masquerading as a point guard, anyway, with Ball’s skills more suited to running an offense and promoting ball movement.

“He (Ball) gives you a scoring pass. That’s the key. Not just a pass. One that you can score. All our players are gonna be excited,” added Johnson, according to Mike Trudell‏ of Lakers.com.

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Yasiel Puig‘s antics are apparently still rubbing his own clubhouse the wrong way.

Though Puig appears to have reinvented himself at the plate this season for the Los Angeles Dodgers, many of his teammates reportedly wouldn’t be disappointed if the 26-year-old was traded at some point, as they still view him as an “annoyance,” reports FOX Sports’ Ken Rosenthal.

Despite those frustrations, the club isn’t willing to trade the slugger for anything less than full value, Rosenthal adds.

Puig’s on-field shenanigans have seen his name pop up in headlines in recent weeks for reasons unrelated to his offensive production. On June 14, the slugger was caught flipping off a heckling Cleveland Indians fans after hitting a home run at Progressive Field, earning himself a one-game suspension that he’s yet to serve. One week later, Puig drew the ire of the New York Mets when he admired his three-run homer before jawing with Wilmer Flores as he rounded first base.

Puig has reportedly irked his own teammates in the past, too. In 2015, Andy Van Slyke, the father of Dodgers outfielder Scott Van Slyke, said on the radio that the team’s highest-paid player – which would have been Clayton Kershaw – had told team president Andrew Friedman to trade away Puig. Friedman, however, denied Kershaw had made the controversial request.

After a 2016 season in which Puig slashed .263/.323/.416 with 11 home runs and was sent to Triple-A – reportedly for his behavior – he seems to have turned it around in 2017. Though his .247/.329/.457 slash line is a marginal upgrade, his 14 home runs rank second on the Dodgers behind only rookie phenom Cody Bellinger.

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Unlike the last MVP from OKC, Russell Westbrook likely isn’t going anywhere.

The Oklahoma City Thunder plan to offer the newly crowned MVP a five-year extension shortly after midnight on July 1, and it’s widely expected that Westbrook will accept, sources told ESPN.

Westbrook will presumably receive the designated player exception, which is worth over $200 million across five seasons. Signing such a contract would make him one of the highest-paid NBA players of all time.

Every sign from Westbrook has pointed to him staying with the Thunder for the long haul. He said during his exit interviews in April that he hoped to remain in his current situation.

“Obviously, Oklahoma City is the place that I wanna be,” Westbrook said at the time.

Westbrook inked a three-year extension last summer, but that pact essentially boiled down to a massive short-term raise to stay on for one additional season. Adding this five-year deal would officially keep Westbrook in Oklahoma City for the remainder of his prime.

The 28-year-old has only played for the Thunder since being drafted fourth overall in 2008.

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It’s always been assumed that tension between Vince Young and Jeff Fisher led to their breakup in Tennessee, but now the former third overall pick is sharing his side of the story.

In an extensive interview with Sports Illustrated’s Greg Bishop, Young couldn’t help but take shots at his former head coach.

“I’m going to expose his ass,” Young said of Fisher before going on to accuse Fisher of backstabbing him by airing their private business in the media and at one point ordering a team plane to take off without a tardy Young on board.

Young said he felt as if Fisher abandoned him; Fisher claims the opposite.

Young also took some shots at NFL journeyman quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick, a player whose job Young believes he himself deserves to have.

“I hate to name-drop, but Fitzpatrick is still playing!? He leads the league in interceptions, and he’s still f—ing getting paid? I mean, what the f— is going on?”

Fitzpatrick hasn’t led the NFL in interceptions since 2011, but ranked in the top three last season.

Young recently tried to kickstart his football career by signing with the CFL’s Saskatchewan Roughriders, but got injured and was cut before the season began.

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Jimmy Butler has a great deal of love for The Windy City, but it’s safe to assume he won’t be exchanging Christmas cards with the organization that just sent him packing to the Minnesota Timberwolves.

“It doesn’t mean a damn thing,” Butler said of being the face of the Chicago Bulls to the Sun-Times. “I guess being called the face of an organization isn’t as good as I thought. We all see where being the so-called face of the Chicago Bulls got me. So let me be just a player for the Timberwolves, man. That’s all I want to do. I just want to be winning games. Do what I can for my respective organization and let them realize what I’m trying to do.”

During Thursday’s NBA draft it was announced that the Bulls were trading Butler and the No. 16 pick (Creighton’s Justin Patton) to Minnesota in exchange for Zach LaVine, Kris Dunn, and the No. 7 pick (Arizona’s Lauri Markkanen).

The 27-year-old reportedly wanted to remain with Chicago, even going as far as informing the Cleveland Cavaliers not to make a move for him, as his goal was to help the team return to prominence in the Eastern Conference. That loyalty didn’t stop the Bulls from shipping him off, though, despite the fact that he was clearly their best player, and on a bargain of a contract for the next two years.

“Whatever they want to call me – face – I don’t even want to get into that anymore. Whose team is it? All that means nothing,” Butler added. “You know what I’ve learned? Face of the team, eventually you’re going to see the back of his head as he’s leaving town, so no thanks.”

While Butler holds no ill will toward the franchise that selected him 30th overall back in 2011, he certainly wishes their working relationship would have ended on better terms.

“You can’t get mad at anybody. I’m not mad, I’m not. I just don’t like the way some things were handled, but it’s OK,” he added.

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Source: BBC Radio 1

Triple H appeared on BBC Radio 1 with Greg James today while in the U.K. During the appearance, Triple H talked about how they would often try to make The Undertaker laugh and break character during matches at non-televised events in the 90s. He brought up The Rock doing The People’s Elbow before it was a known move.

“You’re trying to make each other laugh and one night The Rock did The People’s Elbow,” Triple H recalled. “[It] wasn’t known as The People’s Elbow, it was known as ‘watch this move that’s going to make all of you lose it in your corners’.”

Triple H noted that the Rock would do the elbow move at a couple of events and then Mick Foley dared him to do it during a match on television, which would go on to become one of Rock’s trademark moves.

“These things morph in those ways, but they catch on,” Triple H said. “Trust me, we’re quick to go, ‘oooh, they like that, I’m sticking with that.'”

James described the People’s Elbow for the listeners, calling it a “ludicrous finishing move.” Triple H pointed out that he loved working with The Rock, but it was “the hokiest looking move ever.”

“You’ve gotta wait for like 20 minutes while he takes his elbow pad off and works the crowd,” Triple H said. “He runs back and forth, then he comes up and drops an elbow on you that looks like it barely touches you, except that a lot of times the point of his elbow hits you right in the mouth and you come up bleeding and you’re like, ‘how can you bust me open on that?’ It’s also so funny that you’re running away to the bank with it.”

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Not only does Charlie Sheen possess tiger blood, he appears to be the sole holder of two of the most coveted pieces of Babe Ruth memorabilia.

The avid baseball fan and longtime actor confirmed Monday that he cosigned Ruth’s 1927 World Series ring, as well as the original and widely remembered sale document that sent Ruth from Boston to New York in 1919, according to ESPN’s Darren Rovell.

Both items are currently up for auction on Lelands.com, as bidding for the ring has already surpassed the $600,000 mark, making it the most expensive sports championship ring ever.

The original document, meanwhile, is going for over $400,000. A previous copy owned by former Red Sox owner Harry Frazee sold for $996,000 in 2005.

“I’ve enjoyed these incredible items for more than two decades and the time has come,” Sheen said. “Whatever price it brings is gravy.”

Sheen, who said he’s been in possession of both items since the early ’90s, kept both pieces of memorabilia in terrific condition and said he wasn’t sure how much he initially paid for them.

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The always outspoken LaVar Ball and the world of professional wrestling seem like a match made in heaven.

With “Monday Night Raw” airing live from the Staples Center in Los Angeles on June 26, World Wrestling Entertainment is reportedly interested in having LaVar – the father of the Lakers’ No. 2 overall pick, Lonzo – appear on its programming that night, according to Pro Wrestling Sheet’s Ryan Satin.

The two sides have been in talks, but nothing is yet set in stone.

While livestreaming Thursday’s NBA draft from their seats, LaVar and the rest of the Ball family in attendance were overheard discussing what sounds like the possibility of him being on the show.

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Not only is the kid supremely talented on the ice, it appears he’s got some marketing chops, too.

Nico Hischier, after being drafted first overall by the New Jersey Devils on Friday night in Chicago, was basically left speechless after becoming the first Swiss player to go No. 1.

“I love to hockey,” Hischier said in an interview with NBCSN, which you can watch at Yahoo Sports.

Who wouldn’t buy a T-shirt with “I love to hockey” on it?

Hischier said he had no idea if he’d be selected first, and Devils general manager Ray Shero held his cards tight all the way to the end.

“I asked Ray maybe 10 minutes before he picked and he still wouldn’t tell me,” Philaelphia Flyers GM Ron Hextall said, according to NHL.com’s Adam Kimelman. “I give him credit. That’s what he should have done. He kept it quiet right to the bitter end. Honestly I didn’t have an expectation one way or the other. We liked both players.”

That other player Hextall’s referencing is Nolan Patrick, who went to Philly at No. 2.

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Chicago Blackhawks forward Marian Hossa will miss the entire 2017-18 NHL season due to a progressive skin disorder and the side effects of the medications used to treat it, the Blackhawks and Hossa announced Wednesday in a joint statement.

“Over the course of the last few years, under the supervision of the Blackhawks medical staff, I have been privately undergoing treatment for a progressive skin disorder and the side effects of the medications involved to treat the disorder,” Hossa said. “Due to the severe side effects associated with those medications, playing hockey is not possible for me during the upcoming 2017-18 season. While I am disappointed that I will not be able to play, I have to consider the severity of my condition and how the treatments have impacted my life both on and off the ice.”

Despite his health struggles, Hossa still played in 73 of the team’s 82 games last season, contributing 26 goals – good enough for third on the team – and another 19 assists.

“This is extremely difficult for us because we all know the incredible person and player that Marian Hossa is – competitive, loyal, and humble,” Blackhawks general manager Stan Bowman said. “He has played a major role in the success our franchise has experienced in recent years, which makes his departure from our lineup a significant loss.

“His teammates and coaches know he battled through some very tough physical difficulties but never complained or missed games despite the challenges he faced. The organization will continue to provide him every resource he needs to maintain his health.”

Team physician Dr. Michael Terry “strongly supports” Hossa’s decision to sit out next season, calling it “the appropriate approach for Marian in order to keep him functional and healthy in the short term and throughout his life.”

The 2017-18 campaign marks the ninth year of Hossa’s 12-year, $63.3-million contract, leaving three more seasons after that with a cap hit of $5.275 million.

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Source: NBC Sports

NBC Sports has an interview with WWE SmackDown General Manager Daniel Bryan, ahead of his return on tonight’s episode of SmackDown Live. It is his first appearance on WWE television since Bryan and Brie welcomed their daughter, Birdie Joe, on May 9th.

Bryan discussed fatherhood, as well as his role on SmackDown. He also had some poignant comments about the current product feeling stale.

“I think a change of presentation is absolutely necessary,” Bryan said. “I think the way that we present our superstars probably needs to change. Years ago they went through with this idea of having as much live stuff as possible on the shows, but I think when you watch say UFC for example, some of the things that are the most endearing, that make you care the most about the fighters are these backstage vignettes that get to show their real personality. You’ll see great fights that people will cheer maybe because they’re great fights, but the fights that have the most impact are the ones with fighters who people actually care about.

“I think one of the things that really endeared me to people was that people got to view more aspects of my personality than most because of the different things that I did within WWE. Seeing performers frustrated and being able to show that on TV and being able to show their experiences, their reactions to what’s happening to them on the show and doing backstage vignettes. There was a great one on NXT about Roderick Strong recently about being a new dad and all of that kind of stuff. Since I’ve been gone, they’ve been doing some really fun stuff with the Fashion Police. Not that there needs to be more of that exact kind of stuff, but it helps people get to know their personalities. I think one of our failings on SmackDown Live was American Alpha. They’re great and on NXT they did all of these fun little interview segments with the two of them that got to show the people behind American Alpha. (They saw) who Chad Gable is, who Jason Jordan is. I’d like to do more of that kind of stuff.”

Bryan noted that personalities draw in other sports, and bringing more of that to WWE would help the business.

“In combat sports, personalities are what draw,” Bryan said. “Floyd Mayweather and Manny Pacquiao was one of the worst boxing matches I’ve ever seen, but millions of people watched it because of the personalities involved. I think changing that dynamic and highlighting the personalities is something we really need to do. Now, I don’t know how we do it. I think if anybody has a magic answer of what the best way is to present personalities in this modern day of television, they’d make millions of dollars, so I may not have the answer.”

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Jonathan Drouin grew up about a two-hour drive northwest of the Bell Centre – home of the Montreal Canadiens – in Sainte-Agathe-des-Monts, Quebec, and the 22-year-old couldn’t be more ecstatic he’s heading home.

“His words to me when I told him he was traded was, ‘This is my dream come true. This is my childhood dream,'” agent Allan Walsh said of Drouin, according to Chris Nichols of FanRag Sports.

Drouin infamously requested a trade out of Tampa Bay during the 2015-16 season. Though the two sides had appeared to patch things up, there’s no question playing for his boyhood team was always at the top of his wishlist.

Montreal fans are likely just as excited. The Canadiens haven’t had a francophone player of this stature since goaltender Jose Theodore in the early-to-mid-2000s. Before that brief stint of greatness, you’d have to look back to when Vincent Damphousse and Patrick Roy anchored the Habs back in the ’90s.

Expectations will certainly be high for the former third overall pick, but, if he performs up to par, there’s no doubt he’ll be beloved by one of the NHL’s most passionate fan bases.

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SAN JOSE, Calif. (AP) Joe Thornton is expected to be healthy at the start of training camp despite undergoing offseason surgery to repair torn ligaments in his left knee.

Where Thornton and longtime San Jose teammate Patrick Marleau will be playing remains an open question as they head toward unrestricted free agency.

”They’ve meant a lot to us, they mean a lot to us,” general manager Doug Wilson said Friday. ”It goes back to making this a place where players want to play. It’s great when players want to be here, players of their ilk who have set the standard for everyone else. We’re exploring it, trying to do everything we can to make the best decision for this franchise. They have choices also obviously. But they know how we feel about them.”

Thornton had a salary cap hit of $6.8 million and Marleau was at $6.7 million last season in the final year of three-year deals that were signed on the same day in 2014. Both players will be 38 at the start of next season, raising questions about how long the Sharks will want to commit and how much money they will be willing to pay.

Marleau is coming off a 27-goal season and still has the speed to keep up with much younger players in today’s faster game. Thornton scored just seven goals – his fewest in an 82-game season since his rookie year in 1997-98 – but is still an elite playmaker and had 43 assists.

There is also the injury to consider with Thornton, who tore the MCL and ACL in his knee on April 2 but still returned to play the final four games of a first-round playoff loss to Edmonton.

”Jumbo’s doing extremely well,” Wilson said. ”He’s been in here every day, looks really good. I don’t think there’s any doubt he’ll be ready and fit to start the season. The work that he’s put in already, that’s pure Jumbo. He loves the game. I see him every day here at the rink.”

The two have been the faces of the franchise, with Marleau joining as the No. 2 overall pick in 1997 and Thornton being acquired in a trade from Boston on Nov. 30, 2005.

San Jose has made three trips to the conference finals with both players on the roster and went to the Stanley Cup Final a year ago before losing to Pittsburgh in six games.

Thornton recorded his 1,000th career assist last season and ranks in the top 25 all-time in assists (1,007, 13th place) and points (1,391, 22nd place).

Marleau scored his 500th career goal last season and is 41st all-time with 508 in his career.

More importantly, they have set the standard for scores of teammates in San Jose to emulate and have become fan favorites. But the decision on their future will be solely a hockey one not a marketing one, according to Wilson.

”These guys have been cornerstones of this franchise. We operate under a cap system which is different from many, many years ago when those choices maybe come into play,” Wilson said. ”You sometimes have to make tough decisions. Make no mistake about our respect and appreciation for them will never end. Under a cap system we’ll see and we’ll navigate ourselves through this. We’ve been very fortunate to have players like this play at as a high a level as they have. How important they are to this franchise will not be forgotten. When it comes to making the hockey decisions, we have to make the decisions under this system, the cap system that makes sense.”

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WASHINGTON – The Supreme Court on Monday struck down part of a law that bans offensive trademarks in a ruling that is expected to help the Washington Redskins in their legal fight over the team name.

The justices ruled that the 71-year-old trademark law barring disparaging terms infringes free speech rights.

The ruling is a victory for the Asian-American rock band called the Slants, but the case was closely watched for the impact it would have on the separate dispute involving the Washington football team.

Slants founder Simon Tam tried to trademark the band name in 2011, but the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office denied the request on the ground that it disparages Asians. A federal appeals court in Washington later said the law barring offensive trademarks is unconstitutional.

The Redskins made similar arguments after the trademark office ruled in 2014 that the name offends American Indians and canceled the team’s trademark. A federal appeals court in Richmond put the team’s case on hold while waiting for the Supreme Court to rule in the Slants case.

In his opinion for the court, Justice Samuel Alito rejected arguments that trademarks are government speech, not private speech. Alito also said trademarks are not immune from First Amendment protection as part of a government program or subsidy.

Tam insisted he was not trying to be offensive, but wanted to transform a derisive term into a statement of pride. The Redskins also contend their name honors American Indians, but the team has faced decades of legal challenges from Indian groups that say the name is racist.

Despite intense public pressure to change the name, Redskins owner Dan Snyder has refused, saying it ”represents honor, respect and pride.”

In the Slants case, government officials argued that the law did not infringe on free speech rights because the band was still free to use the name even without trademark protection. The same is true for the Redskins, but the team did not want to lose the legal protections that go along with a registered trademark. The protections include blocking the sale of counterfeit merchandise and working to pursue a brand development strategy.

A federal appeals court had sided with the Slants in 2015, saying First Amendment protects ”even hurtful speech that harms members of oft-stigmatized communities.”

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Tom Brady’s father revealed to the Boston Globe on Monday that his wife, Galynn, completed her cancer treatments two months ago.

The mother of the Super Bowl-winning quarterback underwent chemotherapy and radiation treatments in 2016 and only managed to attend one of Brady’s games, Super Bowl LI.

“She is doing great,” Tom Brady Sr. said to Christopher L. Gasper of the Boston Globe. “She is getting out and playing golf and tennis and looks wonderful.

“I think in the dark recesses of every cancer survivor is the thought it could reappear. We simply pray now that after her treatment it never rears its ugly head again.”

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As announced on last week’s SmackDown, John Cena will make his official WWE return on the blue brand’s July 4th episode. It’ll be his first appearance since WrestleMania 33 (2 April), when he and Nikki Bella defeated The Miz and Maryse, before Cena proposed to his partner in the middle of the ring.

The 16-time World Champion’s imminent comeback has naturally provoked rumours on who he’ll feud with upon returning, with the latest speculation suggesting he’ll head straight into the WWE Title hunt, and clash with Jinder Mahal.

‘The Maharaja’ is set to defend his belt against Randy Orton at Money In The Bank this Sunday. Given the anti-American gimmick he has been using lately, having him interrupt a patriotic Cena return promo on Independence Day should be easy heat, as pro-USA rhetoric has been part of Cena’s babyface character for years.

There’s no word on whether or not Cena should be expected to break the record he currently shares with Ric Flair by winning his 17th World Title. Regardless, WWE will likely be hoping that overcoming Orton and feuding with Cena will legitimise Mahal as champion, and bring credibility to his much-maligned reign.

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So far, so good.

The Vegas Golden Knights have released a statement to express how pleased the organization is with how the expansion draft process has gone so far as the NHL trade freeze took effect Saturday at 3 p.m. EST.

The other 30 teams had until 5 p.m. EST to hand in their protection lists, and Vegas will keep the phone lines open with a view to helping make the selection process as painless as possible.

From the official statement:

Now, general manager George McPhee and his staff will continue to have discussions with the other 30 NHL clubs.

Vegas has indicated that they will give all 30 clubs every opportunity to keep their rosters intact if they’d like.

This means that before the Golden Knights claim a player off a team’s unprotected list, McPhee and his staff are willing to negotiate deals so the other clubs do not lose a player they would otherwise like to keep.

As a reminder, the protection lists will be made public on Sunday at 10 a.m. EST, and Vegas’ final selections will be submitted to the NHL exactly 72 hours later.

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John Chayka is far from done.

That was the clear message the Arizona Coyotes general manager sent out after sending goaltender Mike Smith to the Calgary Flames earlier Saturday.

“This move wasn’t made in isolation,” Chayka said, per Dave Vest of the team’s website. “It was made to set up other moves to improve our club … I think we’ve planted a lot of seeds that we can move forward with.”

At this point in his career and considering the team’s trajectory, it made sense to part ways, especially with Smith carrying a $5,666,667 cap hit for two more seasons.

“We’re trying to continue to build for the future and continue to make this as competitive of a team as possible,” Chayka added. “We think we’ve got a good, young group here who has a chance to be a good team next year. The reality is Mike Smith is a 35-year-old goaltender and when some of our players are reaching their prime years then he’s probably on the wrong side of his career.”

Chayka added trading Smith wasn’t an easy deal to pull off, and that Chad Johnson – part of the return in the swap – is one option as a potential replacement in net.

“Hopefully we can get a good goaltender in there that can help our group next year,” he said. “There’s a chance (Johnson) could be a starter in this league, but right now we’re just sorting through all the different options and he’d be one of them.”

On Friday, it was reported that Arizona is one of several teams with serious interest in New York Rangers center Derek Stepan, who has four years remaining on a contract that carries a cap hit of $6.5 million.

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The long-rumored sale of the Miami Marlins has stagnated somewhat, but the added intrigue of a third bidder may increase the urgency of the matter as another viable buyer has entered the fray, according to a Friday report from Jon Heyman of FanRag Sports.

MLB commissioner Rob Manfred said Tuesday that he was “convinced” the Marlins would complete the sale, likely to either the Derek Jeter-led group or the Tagg Romney-led group.

While the third bidder’s identity is unknown, it could nevertheless expedite the purchase for the Jeter or Romney groups – the latter of which includes Atlanta Braves Hall of Famer Tom Glavine.

Jeter’s team had seemed to be the favorite to complete the sale, but the recent loss of Jeb Bush appears to have complicated matters.

The Marlins – currently owned by Jeffrey Loria – are expected to fetch $1.3 billion from their eventual buyer, which Manfred thinks could materialize by the end of the month.

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Few men made a more significant impact on Randy Moss’ life and career than his first NFL coach, Dennis Green.

With Moss back at the Minnesota Vikings‘ facility this week to celebrate his upcoming induction into their Ring of Honor, the all-time great receiver was asked Wednesday what he would say to Green, who died in July 2016, if he had the chance.

“I don’t know, man,” said Moss, before becoming overcome with emotion. “I was 6 years old playing this game. On draft day, I really don’t know why I was treated the way I was treated on draft day, but Coach Green gave me an opportunity, man. And I told him, ‘Coach, you’re not going to regret this.’

“So, you ask me what I would say to him. Man, I’d probably just fall in his arms and give him a hug. There’s no words that I can tell him.”

Moss was selected 21st overall by Green and the Vikings in 1998 after being touted as the class’ best receiver and one of its elite players. After his unexpected fall down the draft board, Moss remains grateful that Green gave him a shot.

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Controversial wrestling couple Paige and Alberto El Patron made headlines for an alleged confrontation at Orlando International Airport last week. The duo reportedly engaged in a public altercation involving a third party, with police stating that El Patron was being investigated on battery charges.

According to a new report from Pro Wrestling Sheet, Orlando PD have now confirmed that detectives have determined that Paige should also be charged with battery, but the State Attorney’s office will make the final decision.

Paige initially claimed that she, not Alberto, was the one held on potential charges, but police later noted that El Patron was the only suspect at the time. The investigation into the current GFW Champion is still ongoing.

According to WWE’s domestic violence policy, Paige will be suspended if an arrest is made. A conviction would result in her contract being immediately, with WWE reserving their right to suspend, fine, or fire a wrestler if presented with “incontrovertible evidence of such illegal misconduct.”

The former WWE Divas Champion has been absent from television since June 2016, following a string of injuries, suspensions, and other controversies. El Patron, meanwhile, was recently suspended by GFW pending the investigation’s outcome.

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The Cleveland Cavaliers need to fix up before winning any bids to host All-Star weekend.

NBA deputy commissioner Mark Tatum informed the Cavaliers that they won’t host the 2020 or 2021 All-Star Game festivities if construction on upgrades to Quicken Loans Arena isn’t underway by Sept. 15.

Tatum’s letter to Cavaliers owner Dan Gilbert was obtained by Robert Higgs of Cleveland.com. It explicitly states that the NBA will look elsewhere if the renovation project remains stalled.

The league initially pushed back its decision to accommodate Cleveland, but evidently cannot wait any longer.

The $140-million proposal to upgrade the 22-year-old Quicken Loans Arena includes adding a glass facade that would expand the interior space for restaurants and bars. Construction is expected to finish in 2020.

Cost estimates, however, are unclear. They range from the current $140 million to as much as $282 million over the next 17 seasons, according to Cleveland.com. The Cavaliers will pay $122 million toward the total, while the city of Cleveland plans to commit $88 million in taxpayer funds.

A disagreement over the allocation of those tax funds is holding up the proposal in the Ohio Supreme Court. A coalition led by the Greater Cleveland Congregations argues that those funds would be best served to address poverty, unemployment, and living conditions in Cleveland neighborhoods.

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Source: The Herald-Dispatch

Dean Ambrose spoke with The Herald-Dispatch on a number of wrestling topics. Here are some of the highlights:

His “Unhinged” persona:

“I feel like I’m a pretty sensible individual. I don’t feel unhinged (another characterization). It is what it is. Michael Cole (WWE announcer on ‘Monday Night Raw’ and pay-per-views) said it on TV enough times it clicked. I’m used to it. You know you get labels put on. In the ring, I don’t care. I fly by the seat of my pants, do whatever I feel like doing. Don’t worry about the consequences.”

The Shield’s early days:

“They threw us right to the wolves. We clicked immediately. We go week to week. We’d figure it out, did a lot on the fly. It all worked out. It’s a means to an end. Three new guys come in and kick the door down. It’s very rare three personalities work like that. You could tell we resonate with people. I’ve made way more money, got a lot more things done, a lot more work without them.”

Winning/losing the title and how he feels physically:

“You know they’ll come and go. You long to hold a championship belt, know it’s going to leave and you work to get one again. One moment you win a battle royal, you battle with a kendo stick, whatever it is. I don’t know any other way. I’ve been doing it so long. How’s my body doing? Terrible, I feel like crap. Doing this for over than a decade, not bad.”

You can read the full interview by clicking here.

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NEW YORK – The Dallas Cowboys are worth $4.2 billion, making them the most valuable sports franchise for the second straight year, according to Forbes .

In its annual rankings, Forbes placed the New York Yankees second – up from fourth a year ago – with a value of $3.7 billion.

Next are three soccer clubs: Manchester United ($3.69 billion), Barcelona ($3.64) and Real Madrid ($3.58).

The rest of the top 10 includes the New England Patriots ($3.4 billion), New York Knicks ($3.3 billion), New York Giants ($3.1 billion), San Francisco 49ers ($3 billion) and Los Angeles Lakers ($3 billion).

The rankings are based on Forbes’ valuations done over the last year for all NFL, NHL, NBA, MLB, soccer, NASCAR and Formula One teams.

The average current value of the top most valuable teams is $2.5 billion, the highest to date, an increase over last year, when the average value was $2.2 billion.

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When the Edmonton Oilers inked forward Zack Kassian to a three-year deal last month, it did a lot more than just secure their bottom-six forward group.

It signified that the 26-year-old has finally turned a page on his battle with alcohol addiction, and in the process revived a career that once looked to be nearing its end, something Kassian credits to Oilers general manager Peter Chiarelli.

“It doesn’t happen without Peter Chiarelli, who gave me the opportunity,” Kassian told Jason Gregor of OilersNation.com.

“I told him that day I was going to prove to him he made a right decision and today we’re sitting here with a new contract. I still feel I need to keep proving myself. It doesn’t stop now that I have the new deal. I just need to keep working and proving people right.”

Despite rarely finding the score sheet, Kassian serves as a key contributor for the Oilers, playing with an exuberant edge while occasionally chipping in with a timely goal, assist, or scrap to fire up his team.

In 79 regular-season games last season, Kassian registered seven goals and 17 assists to go along with 201 hits – good for 23rd-most in the NHL.

With his foreseeable future now secure in the City of Champions, Kassian realizes that it’s time to prove that his battle with alcohol is behind him for good.

“For me, I made a promise to my family, to the Edmonton organization, and, most importantly, to myself that I wasn’t going to drink again, and as soon as I made that decision I feel like that’s when everything started climbing back upwards,” Kassian said.

“I feel like if your mindset is you’re not going to drink again, you’re not going to drink again. You make a tough decision and stick with it. I think that’s where I’m at now with it. Obviously, I have a lot to lose, which helps with the team we have in Edmonton.”

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The New Jersey Devils expect Nico Hischier to make an easy transition into the NHL.

This year’s No. 1 pick in the draft is not only expected to jump into the team’s roster as an 18-year-old rookie, but will start at his native position at center and not be eased into the league by playing on the wing, head coach John Hynes said, according to NHL.com’s Mike Morreale.

Hischier tallied 38 goals and 86 points in 57 games with the Halifax Mooseheads of the QMJHL in his first taste of North American hockey. With Travis Zajac, Pavel Zacha, and Brian Boyle allotted as the club’s other three centers, the Devils should be solid down the middle of the ice this season and beyond.