Posts Tagged ‘Praise’

It feels like ages ago when a 20-year-old Alex Ovechkin took the league by storm in his rookie season, scoring 52 goals to capture the Calder Trophy over Sidney Crosby, but 12 years later, “The Great Eight” still sees himself as a spring chicken.

Prior to a marquee matchup between the league’s two top goal-scorers – he and Winnipeg Jets phenom Patrik Laine – Ovechkin was asked if he sees “young Ovi” in Laine, to which he replied: “I’m still young,” according to Isabelle Khurshudyan of the Washington Post.

Despite the response, Ovechkin did indeed have high praise for the 19-year-old.

“He’s a great talent and still young and still can produce lots of dangerous (chances against) different teams,” he told’s Tom Gulitti. “Obviously his shot is pretty amazing. Tonight, we have to stay close to him and don’t give him any chance.”

Laine was quite humbled by Ovechkin’s comments.

“It sounds pretty good to me that’s saying nice things about me,” Laine told Gulitti. “He’s been my biggest idol when I was growing up, so it’s pretty unreal to hear something like that, him talking about me. It’s pretty cool.”

It’s hard not to draw comparisons between the two players. Both are right-handed shots, play left wing, are big, have deadly one-timers, and neither shies away from physical play.

Viewers can only hope the two snipers put on a show when they meet Monday night in Washington.


Hours before the two longtime friends are set to square off in one of the most anticipated matchups of the regular season, Toronto Raptors swingman DeMar DeRozan cast his MVP vote for Houston Rockets guard James Harden.

“He earned it,” DeRozan told reporters after shootaround Friday, according to TSN’s Josh Lewenberg. “The things he’s been doing all year is incredible. I think he’s locked for it. He deserves it.”

DeRozan also suggested Harden should have won the award last season, when his 29.1-point, 8.1-rebound, 11.2-assist campaign for the 55-win Rockets was outvoted by the Russell Westbrook triple-double machine. But both Harden and the Rockets have been better this year. Harden is leading the scoring race, averaging 30.9 points a game to go along with 8.9 assists and a 62.4-percent true shooting mark for the NBA’s top team. He is achieving the rare double feat of leading the league in both efficiency and usage rate, the latter having increased from last season despite the Rockets’ addition of Chris Paul.

Though his scoring rate has come down from a season ago, DeRozan is also in the midst of a career year, putting himself on the fringes of the race he’s already calling for Harden. DeRozan is averaging 24 points and a career-high 5.2 assists per game while spearheading a stylistic evolution for the overachieving Raptors.

The Rockets (51-13) and Raptors (47-17) come into Friday night’s game in Toronto sitting atop their respective conferences, carrying the NBA’s two best point differentials. The Rockets come in riding a 17-game winning streak, while the Raptors have won six straight and 13 of their last 14. The Rockets own the league’s best road record at 26-7, while the Raptors are the top home team at 27-5.

Before the blockbuster matchup, DeRozan reflected on the journey he and Harden – who both grew up playing together in Los Angeles – have taken to get to where they are now.

“I knew him when he didn’t have a lick of hair on his face,” DeRozan said of his now-bearded peer. “We’ve grown. We talk about it a lot. We never thought we’d be in the position we’re in today.”

Todd McLellan is sticking up for Connor McDavid and questioning the actions of some unruly individuals who heckled the Edmonton Oilers captain.

Here’s how the head coach responded when asked about a viral video originally posted to Reddit and later shared by TSN’s BarDown, which showed several fans giving McDavid a hard time outside a restaurant while he was with his family.

“I haven’t seen it, but he would be the last one I would heckle if I (were) a fan,” McLellan told reporters Monday, via CTV Edmonton’s Adam Cook. “He gives the community everything he has, and I’m not just talking about on-ice (contributions).”

McLellan cited McDavid’s frequent charity work and said the hecklers should consider how their own actions make them look.

“I often sit in the lunchroom and I ask him, ‘What are you guys doing today?’, and about every second day, Connor says, ‘I’m going to a hospital, I’ve got to go see these kids, I’m going to go do that, so the individuals that choose to heckle him (need to) look in the mirror.”

McDavid declined to comment on the matter Monday.

“Honestly, it’s so not a big deal, I’m not even going to say anything on it,” the Oilers superstar told reporters, via TSN. “This weekend I had my parents in town, so it was nice to have them around and show them around Edmonton. They’ve been here a few times now, but I haven’t seen them in a while … so I definitely was missing them and (was) happy to have them in town for a bit.”

The lovefest between LeBron James and San Antonio Spurs coach Gregg Popovich continues.

After being told Sunday that Popovich compared him to the superhero from Marvel’s “Black Panther” in terms of his impact as a role model, the Cleveland Cavaliers superstar expressed his appreciation for the coach.

“You guys know how much I love Pop …” James told reporters following his team’s 110-94 loss to the Spurs, via ESPN. “Pop is definitely one of my all-time favorite people that I’ve ever crossed paths with in my life.”

James, 33, explained why it’s important for him to use his platform to inspire youth.

“For me as an athlete and for me as a role model, I just try to do my part to help these kids understand how important their lives are,” he said. “They can become anything in this world. No matter the negativity that may be going on around them, there’s always a brighter side.

“So for me, while I have this platform, I’m gonna continue to do that. I’m going to continue to lend my voice, lend my spirit, and lend my inspiration to these kids ’cause I know exactly what they’re going through, ’cause I was one of them at one point in time not too long ago.”

James, who was raised by a single mother in a financially unstable situation, now uses his fame and fortune to speak out on social issues and give back to his community. He’s donated millions of dollars to education initiatives and is even opening a school for at-risk youth in his hometown of Akron.

The megastar registered 33 points, 13 rebounds, and nine assists in Sunday’s defeat. He can become an unrestricted free agent this summer.

Although they aren’t as close as they once were, Johnny Manziel remains appreciative of the effort LeBron James made to help him succeed during his time in Cleveland.

Manziel spoke about his relationship with the Cleveland Cavaliers superstar during an interview with Barstool Sports’ “Pardon My Take” podcast, acknowledging the two haven’t spoken since he was released by the Browns in 2016.

“The guy couldn’t have tried anymore,” Manziel said of James, per 247 Sports’ Josh Edwards. “I remember whenever I was going through my NCAA scandal if you want to call it at A&M. Every day, I would get up and go to training camp and Bron would text me like every day. ‘Just keep your head up, don’t worry about anything all the outside noise.’

“At this point in time, I was just 20 years old, I didn’t know how to handle the national media pressure and spotlight without checking Twitter and letting it get in my head or seeing it on a website. He tried super hard to just keep me grounded and keep me focused on that. I think that was really the start of our relationship.”

Manziel said a lot of his bitterness stemmed from being drafted lower than he expected (No. 22 overall in 2014) and he feels like he “never really gave Cleveland a chance” because of that.

“When I got to Cleveland, LeBron tried his best. Him and the guys used to invite me over to his house and want to play cards or just watch a game,” Manziel said. “My first six, seven months in Cleveland, I went to practice, I would go out some nights and I would go home. I hardly did anything. I hardly went to any Cavs games. I was just in a funk that I couldn’t really get out of and didn’t give it much of a chance.”

Gregg Popovich thinks LeBron James is worth his weight in vibranium.

The San Antonio Spurs head coach vehemently defended James on Sunday when asked about Fox News host Laura Ingraham recently advising the Cleveland Cavaliers icon to “shut up and dribble” rather than speaking out against President Donald Trump.

“To me, when I heard about that, it was like an unbelievable show of arrogance for a talking head to try to tell someone else if they can speak, what they can speak about, when and where to do it,” Popovich told reporters Sunday. “It’s just ludicrous.”

Popovich, like James, has been publicly critical of Trump and his policies. The coach indicated he’s proud of the basketball superstar – who came from incredibly humble beginnings – for using his platform to drive positive change and serving as an inspiration to millions of people around the world.

“He’s been a brilliant example for millions of kids, especially kids of lesser opportunity who haven’t had the same advantages of others. And they see in this guy somebody who’s consistently exhibited excellence in the workplace. It gives them a voice, lets them know that you can speak about anything. …

“When you look at this guy, how many tens of millions of dollars he’s given. Tens of millions of kids that see him, that are inspired by him. It’s kind of like the ‘Black Panther’ movie. How cool is that for kids to see that and have that superhero? Well, now LeBron has been that for a long time. … He’s very, very special. We should all be proud that we have somebody like that who’s willing to speak about a variety of topics, and you’ve listened to them all.”

Unsurprisingly, James was forthright in his response to Ingraham’s comments.

“But we will definitely not shut up and dribble. I will definitely not do that,” he said last week.

“I mean too much to society. I mean too much to the youth. I mean too much to so many kids that feel like they don’t have a way out and they need someone to help lead them out of the situation they’re in.”

Andrew Luck has serious questions to answer about his health before the Indianapolis Colts can truly begin to think of crafting the offense around him in 2018, but the quarterback is already pumped to dive into new head coach Frank Reich’s playbook.

The former Philadelphia Eagles coordinator promised his offense will be a no-huddle scheme that’s “uptempo,” “aggressive,” and “attacking” during his introductory press conference Tuesday – a philosophy that has Luck salivating.

“That sounds great,” Luck said, according to Andrew Walker of the Colts’ official site. “I know all the best offenses that I’ve been a part of in my career, we’ve not been static and we’ve attacked. And I’m sure he’ll have a great flavor and we’ll involve as many people as we can, and attacking defenses is what it’s all about.”

The former No. 1 pick has played under three offensive coordinators in six seasons, all boasting radically different schemes that didn’t always maximize the pivot’s skill set.

However, Luck’s always excelled while working at a fast pace and taking shots downfield, so his pairing with Reich not only provides long-term stability but the chance for the quarterback to play in his ideal offense.