NFL Drops Blackout Rule for 2015 Season: The National Football League is dropping its blackout rule for the 2015 season. The rule prevents games from being broadcast in a team's home market if the tickets aren't sold out. It's been around since the 1950s, when NFL games were first televised. Roughly one game out of ten was blacked out under the rule as recently as 2004, and in 1996 it was one out of three games. But there were no games blacked out last season.
John Oliver tackles the NCAA and student athletes: In an extended segment on Sunday's "Last Week Tonight", John Oliver delved into the issue of unpaid "student-athletes" and the onerous and exploitative NCAA money machine.
Yahoo Tourney Pick'em Pool:
I didn't see one created for SpoFi, so I threw one together.
Your 2015 NCAA Men's Basketball Tournament bracket.: And here's the printable version (PDF). I got NC State whoopin up on Carolina in the Final. You?
"Why not go for 70?": An Oral History of Larry Bird's 60-Point Game.
High School Players: Root for Our Opponent: The Gainesville Tornados, a high school basketball team in Texas, sometimes play with zero fans in attendance because they're a juvenile correction facility. Two players for Vanguard Prep in Waco did something unusual and asked some of their fans to root for the other team. The idea took off and the Gainesville players took the court to the shock of seeing their own fan section, signs and cheerleading squad.
College Player Scores 30 Points in Final 4.5 Minutes: The good news: Florida State freshman guard Xavier Rathan-Mayes scored 30 points in the final 4:38 against Miami Wednesday night. The bad news: Florida State still lost 81-77. Rathan-Mayers racked up the points with six three-pointers, two layups and eight free throws. He says, "The arena was quiet. It was like I was in there by myself. It was a feeling I've never, ever felt before. There was nothing else happening around me."
UNC's Legendary Coach Dean Smith Dies: Legendary University of North Carolina head basketball coach Dean Smith died Saturday evening at the age of 83, according to the University of North Carolina. He had battled dementia for years, and according to a family statement provided to UNC, he "passed away peacefully" in his Chapel Hill home with his wife and five children by his side. Smith coached the Tar Heels from 1961 to 1997, tallying a record of 879-254 in 36 seasons. The school named its basketball arena for Smith in 1986, and it's referred to as "the Dean Dome."
Playing with the Big Boys (and Girls): How Koko, Beans and Flash, some color-coordinated socks and coaching are changing the face of grade-school basketball in Springfield, Illinois.
High school coach suspended after basketball team wins by 159 points.:
"The game just got away from me," Anderson told the San Bernardino Sun on Friday. "I didn't play any starters in the second half. I didn't expect them to be that bad. I'm not trying to embarrass anybody."
Kobe Bryant's Below-Average Midrange Jumper: ESPN NBA analyst Tom Haberstroh produces a Big Number series of short videos that call attention to interesting stats in the game. His latest focuses on the huge number of contested midrange jumpers Kobe Bryant is taking -- and mostly missing.
What Jeffrey Gamblero Knew About the Nets: Bryan Joiner remembers Brooklyn Nets fan Jeffrey Gamblero: "For those two years, our seats were in the upper level, but it was impossible to miss him. He was always on the Jumbotron and fluttering in the aisles, constant movement and energy and action. ... In this sea of blandness, Gamblero stood out. He seemed to care, even if wasn't clear quite why or how. It's clearer now."
The Boston Celtics have traded Rajon Rondo to Dallas: Rondo and forward Dwight Powell have been swapped for Center Brandan Wright, Forward Jae Crowder and whatever is left of PG Jameer Nelson.
Streamers Return to The Palestra: An old Philadelphia college basketball tradition returned today at The Palestra at the start of the Temple-LaSalle game. Fans threw streamers onto the court after each team's first basket. This was a tradition from 1955 to 1985 during games at the arena between the city's Big 5 -- Penn, La Salle, Temple, St. Joseph's and Villanova -- but it ended when the NCAA banned the practice and said it would result in technical fouls. Fouls were assessed Saturday, but both coaches had their shooter intentionally step on the free throw line to invalidate the shots.
Searching for Balance: The NBA’s Lopsided Conference Problem: Grantland's Zach Lowe breaks down the pros and cons of various ideas for restructuring the NBA's schedule and playoff system in order to find some parity between the East and West.
0-16 Philadelphia 76ers Two Games from Worst Start in NBA History: The Philadelphia 76ers lost to the Dallas Mavericks Saturday, falling to 0-16 and setting a record for the worst start in the 68-year history of the franchise. A Philly.Com poll asks whether the team will break its own NBA record of 73 losses in a season. So far, 85% say yes. The worst start in NBA history is 0-18 by the New Jersey Nets in 2009. The 76ers' next three opponents are San Antonio (12-4), Minnesota (4-11) and Oklahoma City (5-12).
Bucks Player Almost Shoots in Wrong Basket: I love the reactions of the announcers, coach Jason Kidd and courtside fans after Milwaukee Bucks center Larry Sanders comes tantalizingly close to eternal sports infamy by driving with the ball to the wrong basket.
Steve Nash’s transcendent career has come to a close: But after all those years, all that brilliance, this voyage to worlds we’d never imagined, somehow, it wasn’t supposed to happen so soon.
"How Rebounds Work": stat-porn from Grantland.
The league's tracking system not only logs locations for every missed shot, it also charts the locations of their subsequent rebounds. In turn, we can map out the spatial relationships between shot locations and rebound locations with unprecedented depth and clarity. We can uncover the fundamental facts about rebounding that until very recently have been impossible to get to.
The NBA has a new TV deal.: And it's a bit bigger than anyone guessed. Zach Lowe looks at what putting all that new money into the salary cap may mean for the near future of the NBA.
Keyon Dooling's Secret: The 13-year NBA veteran on the sexual abuse he suffered as a child, the breakdown he endured after years of holding back the memories, and finding his calling as a public speaker and life coach. [warning: article contains strong language and descriptions of sexual violence]
I wrote an e-mail two years ago that was inappropriate and offensive. I trivialized our fans by making clichéd assumptions about their interests (i.e. hip hop vs. country, white vs. black cheerleaders, etc.) and by stereotyping their perceptions of one another (i.e. that white fans might be afraid of our black fans). By focusing on race, I also sent the unintentional and hurtful message that our white fans are more valuable than our black fans.
Over the Hill: The late career decline of Steve Nash, a review essay covering The Finish Line and 7 Seconds or Less. “If you ever see a child move,” [Nash] says in the first episode of the series, “they’re totally uninhibited. They just move freely, they don’t think about it, they’re not straining or protecting, they just are. You know, at my best, I am childlike out there.” It may be the most tragic line in the whole series; in capturing precisely what he once had, we also understand what he’s lost.
LeBron James Returning to Cleveland: LeBron James stunned the NBA on Friday when he announced he's returning to the Cleveland Cavaliers and leaving the Miami Heat. James made the announcement on Sports Illustrated's website in a letter. He wrote: "Before anyone ever cared where I would play basketball, I was a kid from Northeast Ohio. ... In Northeast Ohio, nothing is given. Everything is earned. You work for what you have. I'm ready to accept the challenge. I'm coming home. ... My relationship with Northeast Ohio is bigger than basketball. I didn't realize that four years ago. I do now."
Jason Kidd joins Bucks as head coach: The Milwaukee Bucks have finalized a deal to break Jason Kidd away from his contract with the Brooklyn Nets.
Mavericks, Knicks shuffle up players.: And the Summer of fun for the NBA begins. Dallas sends Jose Calderon, Sam Dalembert, Shane Larkin and Wayne Ellington in exchange for Tyson Chandler and Raymond Felton. Naturally, both media markets are trying to figure out how this positions their respective teams to (re)sign certain free agents. (Dallas; New York)
LeBron Taking His Talents Out of South Beach: LeBron James will exercise his early termination option and become an unrestricted free agent, his agent Richie Paul has informed the Miami Heat. He was scheduled to make $20 million next season. In James' four seasons with the team, the Heat went to four straight NBA Finals and won two championships.
Baylor Center and NBA prospect Isaiah Austin has been diagnosed with a career-ending genetic disorder.: Austin has been diagnosed with Marfan Syndrome, meaning the connective tissues in his body are weakened and he likely has an enlarged aorta. Austin, a 7'1" Center also has a detached retina in his right eye. He was pegged as a late first/early second round draft pick and would have been the first partially-blind NBA player.
The San Antonio Spurs beat the Miami Heat 4-1 to win the NBA championship.: Amidst all the drama (and great basketball) in the early rounds of the playoffs we were left with a repeat of 2013, Spurs versus the Heat. However, this year the results were markedly different as the Spurs dominated the last 3 games of the series in an unquestionable way. Kawhi Leonard is my new hero; a young man whose father was murdered 6 years ago and on Father's Day carried his team to a championship and won the MVP award. Oh, and he doesn't really want to talk to the press.
UNC's McCants: 'Just show up, play': Former North Carolina guard Rashad McCants told ESPN that while he was in school he barely went to class, tutors wrote his term papers and that he took bogus classes in order to stay eligible.
CNN: Steve Ballmer Reaches Deal to Buy Clippers for $2 Billion: Former Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer has signed a binding agreement to buy the Los Angeles Clippers for $2 billion from the Sterling family trust, CNN reports. Ballmer, who attended several Clippers playoff games, told the Wall Street Journal this month he would not move the team from Los Angeles.
Kansas State denies player the right to transfer away: "With a release, Romero could go to another Division I school and receive scholarship money while sitting out the required year to transfer. But without the release, she would have to pay all her own expenses for that year, which she says she's not in a financial position to do as a foreign student."
Warriors fire coach Mark Jackson: Golden State Warriors head coach Mark Jackson has been fired following a meeting with the team’s ownership group.
Report: Clippers Owner Donald Sterling Has Prostate Cancer: Los Angeles Clippers owner Donald Sterling, 80, has been battling prostate cancer, the New York Post reports. The newspaper provides this tasteless quote from an unnamed source: "They thought he would die two years ago. People have been predicting his imminent demise." A decade ago Sterling wouldn't pay for the prostate cancer treatment of then-assistant coach Kim Hughes. "I contacted the Clippers about medical coverage and they said the surgery wouldn't be covered," Hughes said in 2011. "They said if they did it for one person, they'd have to do it for everybody else."
NBA Bans Donald Sterling for Life: Los Angeles Clippers owner Donald Sterling has been banned for life by the NBA for his racist comments. NBA commissioner Adam Silver said Tuesday that he will try to force the controversial owner to sell his franchise. Sterling has also been fined $2.5 million, and Silver made no effort to hide his outrage over the comments. "We stand together in condemning Mr. Sterling's views," Silver said. "They simply have no place in the NBA."
Audio: Racist Tirade by Clippers Owner: Los Angeles Clippers owner Donald Sterling has been caught on audio making racist comments to his girlfriend V. Stiviano, the gossip site TMZ revealed. Sterling, angered by a photo of his girlfriend and Magic Johnson on Instagram, said to Stiviano, "You can sleep with them (black people). You can bring them in, you can do whatever you want. The little I ask you is not to promote it on that ... and not to bring them to my games." He added, "I'm just saying, in your lousy ------- Instagrams, you don't have to have yourself with, walking with black people."
Who You Gonna Call? NBA Teams Afraid of Ghost: NBA teams that visit Oklahoma City typically stay at the Skirvin Hilton Hotel, a 103-year-old building that by legend has its own ghost, Effie the housekeeper. "The place is haunted," Jared Jeffries told the New York Daily News. "It's scary."