Things in Chicago since Smith was fired have gone … not well.

Jarrad Davis Elite Jersey I’d like to say it’s the Lovie Curse, Urlacher told co-hosts Tiki Barber and Brandon Tierney. Because since he left … He got fired being 10-6, Minnesota beats Green Bay (and) knocks us out of the playoffs; that was my last year as well.

Even if we go to the playoffs I think we fire him. I don’t think (general manager Phil Emery) liked the way he coached the football team.
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Urlacher also referenced a specific defeat that season — likely the 21-13 home loss to Green Bay in Week 15, which marked the Bears’ sixth consecutive loss to their division rivals, jeopardized their playoff status and allowed the Packers to take the division title. That loss contributed to the reasoning behind Smith’s firing, which came after Emery’s first season as GM.

As for Urlacher’s point: He certainly has one. Things in Chicago since Smith was fired have gone … not well.

From 2013-16 under coaches Marc Trestman and Fox, Chicago has complied a record of 22-42. The Bears have finished last in the NFC North in three straight seasons, and their points differential in the four years since the Smith firing is -338.

Smith in nine seasons as Bears coach compiled a record of 81-63. The team under Smith won the NFC North three times, and its points differential in those nine years was +251.

Although Evans will keep drawing the most attention as the No. 1, Jackson puts defenses a lot more in pick their poison mode. That also allows Adam Humphries to slide into more reasonable No. 3 wideout duties from the slot. When the Bucs spread the field and go four wide for Winston, rookie fourth-rounder Chris Godwin will provide some extra explosiveness.

NBA free agency: Andre Iguodala has agreed to return to Warriors

The Warriors are getting back their sixth man and the entirety of the NBA lets out a collective groan.

While Andre Iguodala may not average more than 20 points per game or even 30 minutes a night for the Warriors, he is still a vital piece to their growing dynasty.

He agreed Saturday to terms on a deal that will keep him with Golden State.

Nash and Nowitzki both arrived in Dallas in 1998, playing together for six seasons that saw the Mavericks improve from a 19-win team to a Western Conference Finals participant. With Nash running the point, Finley (a career 37.5 percent three-point shooter) on the wing and Nowitzki spreading the floor, this Dallas trio would be potent offensively.

Carmelo Anthony played with several supremely talented point guards in Denver, including Allen Iverson, Andre Miller and Chauncey Billups, but we’ll take Iverson’s 2008 season when he averaged 26.4 points per game. Melo wasn’t far behind at 25.7 points per game, giving the Nuggets two go-to scorers, along with Camby, who finished second in the NBA that season in total rebounds and first in blocks. Camby also peaked as a passer that season, averaging 3.3 assists per game as a center.

After drafting O’Neal No. 1 overall in the 1992 NBA Draft and acquiring Hardaway, the No. 3 pick the following year, the Magic made a run to the NBA Finals in 1995. O’Neal averaged 29.3 points and 11.4 rebounds per game that season, while Hardaway added 20.9 points and 7.2 assists per game. Anderson averaged as many as 20 points per game in Orlando and shot 35.6 percent from three during his career.browns_032

Jacob deGrom the King of Queens while Yankees continue sad Bronx tale

New York, New York. For baseball fans in the Big Apple, Sunday was either the best day of the weekend or the continuation of a terrible week.

Jacob deGrom was brilliant for the Mets in a 5-1 win over the Nationals. The Mets pitcher scattered just three hits over eight innings while striking out six with two walks. He also helped himself at the plate with a solo homer in the third inning that tied the game at 1-1. The Mets added a pair of runs an inning later thanks to RBI singles by Travis d’Arnaud and Michael Conforto, who added another RBI single in the sixth.
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While the Mets avoided a four-game sweep at home, the Yankees continued their slump on the opposite coast.

If this is indeed a ruse, you have to admire the team’s willingness to keep pushing the fib further to try to maximize the benefit. It’s one thing to mention the move as an everything’s on the table possibility. It’s another thing to allow reporters to take video of Freeman fielding grounders and making the long throw from third to first. It’s still another thing to have Freeman talk to reporters about it afterward.

That may be true, but you can see how James’ definition is rather limited and perhaps self-serving. The fact is, with the 2007-08 Boston Celtics and LeBron’s Heatles as examples, superteams are coming together in all kinds of ways, and in all shapes and sizes.
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For instance, Jayson Tatum, Jaylen Brown and the war chest of future first-rounders could produce a 2020 superteam in time for LeBron’s supposed decline. If Danny Ainge has a change of heart and pulls the trigger on a trade, look for the following names to be on their radar: Cousins, Jordan and Drummond.

Nationals sign embattled closer Francisco Rodriguez, report says

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It didn’t take Francisco Rodriguez long to land another job, as the closer signed a minor league contract Monday with the Washington Nationals, according to FanRagSports.com.

Rodriguez had been cut by the Tigers Friday after struggling this season. The 35-year-old Venezuelan, who set an MLB single-season record with 62 saves while with the Angels in 2008, had given up seven runs on seven hits in 4 2/3 innings in his last four appearances before getting released. He has a 7.82 ERA and 1.65 WHIP in total this season.

LiAngelo seems to be a man without a country, maybe at the college level and certainly at the one beyond that. He’s a sharpshooter, but he’s not skilled enough with his handle to play point guard and isn’t athletic enough to compete against elite wings at the shooting guard or small forward spots.

Phil Esposito Kids Jersey Granted, LiAngelo could tear it up next season at Pauley Pavilion, and he could always exercise more of his eligibility and improve both his game and his body with future drafts in mind, but it’s got to be a hard pill to swallow. Nonetheless, LaVar, like any good father would, crushed it up and put it in some jelly to make it go down smoother, adding, He’s going to be taken care of either way.

That’s what family is all about.

In 2011, Simmons demonstrated he could swing the stick when he led the High-A Carolina League in batting with a .311 average in 570 plate appearances. The knock in that season, and through his first four-plus big league seasons, was his inability to draw walks because of impatience at the plate 鈥?something that might have been avoided with more experience in the minors.

Minor League Ball’s John Sickels was prophetic in a scouting report written as Simmons hit the big leagues in 2012 after playing just 44 games in Double-A.

we had a lot of guys who played exceptionally well individually and we played with great energy.

That need to hit both sides of the spectrum is why many of the elite two-way role players in today’s game have traditionally come from later stages of the draft than you’d expect. Not only does the player need to have the right mentality and maturity levels, but the skill set needs to be versatile enough to complement a team’s star players. And way too many times, versatility is less likely to stand out in the crowd versus a player with a singular elite skill. The two-way, multi-talented, role-playing wing is maybe the second-hardest player type to find outside of a star player. Guys like Khris Middleton and Jae Crowder, for instance, were second-rounders in part due to the fact that they did everything well, but not one thing exceedingly well until they got to the next level.
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It’s a small game and you’ve got shooters everywhere and you have to be able to protect the rim with LeBron [James] coming downhill, with [Kevin] Love posting up and Draymond’s on the bench.
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That’s a pretty scary proposition for us and I thought Kevin’s defense was unreal and was probably the key to the whole game, along with the perimeter defense of Klay [Thompson] and Andre [Iguodala], trying to do their best with Kyrie [Irving] and LeBron. But KD was amazing.

The Warriors had just four turnovers in Game 1 — a figure James alone doubled — but that increased to 20 on Sunday, with Kerr making it clear he will not accept a repeat performance when the series continues at Quicken Loans Arena on Wednesday.

I mean that’s been the focus the last two days — can we repeat the formula? The answer was no, we did not repeat, he said.

[This] was a game based on talent, we had a lot of guys who played exceptionally well individually and we played with great energy.

But heading to Cleveland we’re going to have to be a lot smarter. We play that same game in Cleveland there’s no way we win.

Falcons capitalize on Packers mistakes to advance to Super Bowl

When the Packers left Wisconsin for the NFC title game, they were delayed by fog. When they got to the Georgia Dome on Sunday, it looked like they were lost in a fog.

The Falcons capitalized on a number of Packers mistakes Sunday and rolled to a 44-21 victory to advance to Super Bowl LI.

It will be the second Super Bowl appearance ever for the Falcons, who last played in Super Bowl XXXII.

The Packers had absolutely no answer for the Falcons’ offense, which moved the ball at will as Matt Ryan threw for 392 yards and four touchdowns.

By comparison, there were 96 players granted special early eligibility in 2016, and 74 in 2015. There were a record 98 early entrants in the 2014 draft.

According to many position ratings and early mock drafts, the first round of this year’s draft is top-heavy with underclassmen such as projected top pick Myles Garrett, a pass-rusher from Texas A&M expected by many to go to the Browns, as well as North Carolina quarterback Mitch Trubisky, LSU safety Jamal Adams, Ohio State cornerback Marshon Lattimore, Notre Dame QB DeShone Kizer and LSU running back Leonard Fournette, all of whom are projected to go in the top 10.

This year’s more than 100-strong list continues a trend, Pro Football Talk noted: The numbers spike[d] since the NFL adopted a rookie wage scale in 2011. The restricted earnings at the top of the draft create an incentive to get to the NFL and begin the process of putting in years toward the second contract, because That’s where players now get paid in large amounts.sharks_412

LeBron James’ LA home vandalized with hate graffiti: ‘Being black in America is tough’

LeBron James’ Los Angeles home was vandalized early Wednesday morning with hateful graffiti, police said.

The LAPD told media outlets (via CBS Los Angeles) that officers responded to James’ Brentwood home around 6:45 a.m. PT and found a racial slur spray-painted on the front gate.
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TMZ Sports, which first reported the incident, said authorities are seeking the help of James’ neighbors with the hope that their security footage caught the vandal on camera.

Aside from a 26-game stint with the Grizzlies, Stephenson has undoubtedly been at his best when playing in a Pacers uniform. Drafted by Indiana in 2010, Stephenson spent his first four seasons with the Pacers, reaching the Eastern Conference Finals twice. He bounced around the league for three seasons, playing for the Hornets, Clippers, Grizzlies, Pelicans and Timberwolves, before re-signing with the Pacers in March.

The Cavaliers swept the Pacers in the first round of the playoffs, albeit by a total of 16 points – the lowest collective margin of victory in a sweep in NBA history, where Stephenson averaged 16 points, 5.3 rebounds and 2.8 assists per game on 50.9 percent shooting.

I, for one, am on board with a Lance Stephenson-powered offense in Indiana. After all, this is the same player who said his return to the Pacers would be like Michael Jordan coming back to play in the NBA or something like that.
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Hey, confidence is half the battle, right?

Watch: Neymar comes to Game 2 bearing gifts for Kevin Durant, Draymond Green

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This is a fall for Patton, but he got caught up in the combination of a glut of bigs, as well as teams not needing them. That’s fine for Brooklyn, though. The Nets get a good chance at an upside player who can block shots, rebound reasonably well, catch lobs and potentially knock down 3s in Atkinson’s system.

Take the best player available here. Adebayo has some untapped skill that he didn’t get to show at Kentucky, and he’d fit exceedingly well with Luke Walton’s preferred style of switching defense due to his mobility on the perimeter. If he can shoot, this is a steal at No. 28.

The Warriors’ duo of Draymond Green and Kevin Durant had a special visit from Barcelona superstar Neymar on Sunday, and the Brazilian did not arrive empty-handed.

Authentic Kids Marvin Jones Jr Jersey The All-Stars were influential as Golden State took a 2-0 lead over the Cavaliers in the NBA Finals on Sunday with Durant scoring 33 points while Green contributed 12 of his own alongside six assists and as many rebounds.

This is a reach on my big board with Mitchell at 17, but he’s the next-best backcourt player on a team that’s set at center with Andre Drummond, plus has a cavalcade of forwards in Tobias Harris, Marcus Morris, Jon Leuer, Henry Ellenson and even Stanley Johnson potentially. So here, the Pistons take a guard in Mitchell that has a diverse set of skills and brings a level of athleticism the backcourt currently lacks.

Again, this is something of a small reach on my board, but he’s a perfect fit for what the Nuggets need next to Nikola Jokic in the future. Anunoby is a mobile defender who can protect the weak side of the rim at either the 3 or the 4 positions. He has as much versatility on that end as any player in the draft, and the team that finished 29th in defensive rating last year really needs it.

Tom Brady: ‘Damn, now it’s starting to feel like the Super Bowl!’

Thousands of Patriots fans made their way to Gillette Stadium on Monday morning to watch the team leave for Super Bowl 51.

Fans went crazy when Tom Brady grabbed the microphone to deliver some inspiring words.

Dan Hamhuis Limited Jersey While New England and Atlanta are the respective favorites for the conference title games, the trend for the 2016-17 NFL playoffs might have shifted to the underdogs during the divisional weekend.

Favorites won the first six games this postseason, but underdogs, Green Bay and Pittsburgh, won the last two. The bad news for the Steelers, though, is the Patriots are 13-3-1 against the spread this season, per Pregame.com.

A Falcons or Packers Super Bowl win would be the most shocking for different reasons. Atlanta’s Super Bowl odds early in the season were as high as 100/1, the highest among the remaining teams. The high point for Green Bay’s Super Bowl odds 80/1 came in late November.

In fact, he seemed to celebrate the score, and even went over to Williams to congratulate him. Perhaps she noticed Brown’s actions on a different play, and just recalled something different. He likely was frustrated after a game where he wasn’t much of a factor (seven receptions, 77 yards).

Devin McCourty Limited Jersey Even if Brown’s actions didn’t come on that play, he has a history of this sort of thing. Kinkhabwala noted a conversation with Steelers coach Mike Tomlin last year in which he said he told Brown to stop chasing statistics. The Steelers may want to give Brown a long-term contract in the near future, but these incidents could factor into the talks.

the Cowboys established they were going to rebuild their offense on a foundation of power running.

Free agency wasn’t much better in 2013. LB Erik Walden ended up performing better than expected, totaling 114 tackles, 23 sacks and six forced fumbles over his four seasons with the Colts. However, offensive linemen Gosder Cherilus and Donald Thomas both struggled with injuries. The Cherilus signing looked particularly bad when Cherilus was released only two years into a five-year, $34.5 million contract. Cornerback Greg Toler lasted only last two seasons, as did backup DE Ricky Jean Francois. Safety LaRon Landry was released after two seasons and a PED suspension.

It is painfully obvious the Cowboys were so dreadful a year ago because they lost quarterback Tony Romo to injury in the seasons second week, and they had no able replacement. They also had allowed running back DeMarco Murray to escape as a free agent, and Darren McFadden proved to be mostly adequate as a replacement.

In choosing Elliott with the fourth pick in the 2016 NFL Draft, however, the Cowboys established they were going to rebuild their offense on a foundation of power running. He rushed for more than 1,800 yards in each of his two seasons as a regular at Ohio State, and the Buckeyes went 26-2 and won the inaugural College Football Playoff.

Packers defensive coordinator Dom Capers, who said the Falcons have got a lot of weapons, will have to get creative to disguise coverages. He will likely try to find some balance between blitzing to create pressure while leaving his young secondary exposed and playing zone while rushing just three or four players. The Packers dont want to play too much man defense, so Capers could dial up some zone blitzes to get to Ryan.vikings_120