Tagged in: mvp

Golden State Warriors star Stephen Curry scores 41, puts on show in preseason finale

Golden State Warriors star Stephen Curry looks primed for another run at the third MVP award of his career.

The 33-year-old guard scored 41 points during Friday’s 119-97 win over the Portland Trail Blazers, the final preseason match before Tuesday’s regular-season opener versus the Los Angeles Lakers at Staples Center.

“He’s been building up perfectly from before camp started to all of the training over the summer to now,” Warriors coach Steve Kerr said after the game. “Obviously missed the game in L.A. the other night, that was part of the plan, he didn’t need to play all five games, but the last few days he got a lot of individual work in and he’s clearly ready to roll for the regular season, so he’s in a great place.”

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The 41 points are tied for the third-most in a preseason game over the past 15 years.

It’s also Curry’s third career 40-point game in the preseason, the most by any player over the past 15 years, according to ESPN Stats & Information.

The performance also capped a 5-0 preseason record for a Warriors group that is no longer surprised when it sees Curry go off offensively the way he did Friday — even in a preseason game that has little meaning.

“The guy’s a machine,” Kerr said. “It’s just amazing how he looks after himself physically, emotionally, he’s just an incredible athlete at the peak of his powers still at 33. He’s just remarkable to observe, and obviously we’re lucky to have him leading the way for us.”

Chants of “MVP! MVP!” echoed through Chase Center as fans embraced the type of Curry performance that has become commonplace through his time with the organization. Curry went 13-for-23 from the field and 7-for-14 from the 3-point line in 30 minutes.

“It’s always fun to watch when Steph puts on a show like that,” Warriors center Kevon Looney said. “We see it a lot, and it’s getting close to the real games so you see him turn it up. Our team played pretty well, so [it’s] exciting to get to opening night.”

The Warriors announced after the game that they have waived Gary Payton II, Jordan Bell, Avery Bradley and Mychal Mulder. Kerr stated that, for the time being, the Warriors would leave the 15th spot on the roster open.

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Milwaukee Brewers slugger Ryan Braun announces retirement

Ryan Braun, the 2011 National League MVP and franchise home run king for the Milwaukee Brewers, revealed his retirement Tuesday.

The six-time All-Star selection has not played this season after becoming a free agent when the Brewers declined to exercise a $15 million mutual option in his contract last October.

“I have weighed this decision for many months,” Braun, 37, said in a video posted to social media by the Brewers. “While I still love this game very much, the time is right for me to retire from my playing days.

“It’s difficult to describe my emotions today, but it starts with overwhelming gratitude to those who have shared this experience with me while offering their unconditional support at every turn. … I will forever appreciate the best fans in the game and the countless people who came out to the ballpark night after night, making Milwaukee the greatest city to play the game.”

In addition to his 352 home runs, Braun, who played all 14 of his MLB career with the Brewers, ranks second in franchise history in career RBIs (1,154), extra-base hits (809), total bases (3,525) and doubles (408). He ranks third in runs (1,080), hits (1,963), triples (49), stolen bases (216) and walks (586).

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“I am so fortunate to have enjoyed a 14-year career wearing the jersey of one team, and even more grateful that team is the Milwaukee Brewers,” Braun said. “I am retiring today from Major League Baseball, but my love for all those who supported me continues to grow. I cherish great memories from my time with the Brewers and will continue to build on the many friendships made in this amazing city.”

Braun batted a career-low .233 in 2020 with seven homers and 27 RBIs in 39 games while dealing with a back issue. He came on strong late in the season and had a .958 OPS in September.

His back issues prevented him from playing in the Brewers’ first-round playoff loss to the eventual World Series-champion Los Angeles Dodgers.

Braun was one of baseball’s best hitters from 2007 to 2012, but was never the same after he was suspended midway through the 2013 season for using performance-enhancing drugs. He acknowledged that he took banned substances while rehabilitating an injury and apologized.

From 2014 on, Braun never played more than 144 matches in a season and reached the 30-homer mark once after topping 30 homers five times in his first six years, including an NL-leading 41 in 2012. Still, he remained a key contributor for the Brewers.

“I always thought that the way Ryan’s last six or seven years went, he should be incredibly proud with how those years went,” Brewers manager Craig Counsell stated. “He should be incredibly proud of that. At that point, he had a story to write. He didn’t know how it was going to go, and I think he wrote a great story and that he should be proud of that.”

Braun was teammates with Counsell early in his career before eventually playing for him.

“What I always tell Ryan is, I always joke with him that, ‘Maybe besides your mom and your dad, I have seen you play baseball probably more than anyone in the world.’ I was there for every game throughout his career,” Counsell said. “I got a close seat for a vast majority of them. Watching him play was definitely an honor.”

The Brewers selected Braun with the fifth overall pick in the 2005 amateur draft out of Miami. He was named NL Rookie of the Year in 2007 and ranked in the top 15 in the MVP voting every year from 2008 to 2012. He finished second in the MVP balloting in 2012 and third in 2008.

The Brewers will honor Braun with an on-field ceremony on Sept. 26.

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Joel Embiid, Philadelphia 76ers sign 4-year, $196 million supermax extension through 2026-27

Philadelphia 76ers star center Joel Embiid has signed a four-year, $196 million supermax contract extension, sources told ESPN.

The Sixers revealed Tuesday morning the 7-footer has signed a multiyear deal with the team, but did not disclose aspects of the contract.

The extension keeps Embiid under contract with the Sixers through the 2026-27 season for a total of $261 million. The four-time All-Star already was set to make $65 million over the final two years of his current deal.

Embiid, who represented himself in the negotiations, became eligible for a supermax extension this summer after concluding second in MVP voting and making the All-NBA second team with averages of 28.5 points and 10.6 rebounds in 51 regular-season games in 2020-21.

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This contract is fully guaranteed and includes a player option for the final year, sources said, but does not include the same provisions protecting the Sixers in case of catastrophic injury to Embiid’s lower back or feet, like the five-year, $147.7 million deal he signed in 2017.

Since the 2017-18 season, Embiid has avoided the kind of injuries that stalled the beginning of his career.

The longest stretch of games that Embiid missed in one season was the 11 games he missed this past spring with a bone bruise in his left knee.

He suffered a tear in his right meniscus during this season’s playoffs but missed just one game and did not need surgery after the season, according to sources.

Embiid’s extension will begin in 2023-24 and is based off a projected $124.95 million salary cap for that season.

Embiid, 27, has spent his entire career with the Sixers since being drafted No. 3 overall in 2014, posting career averages of 24.8 points and 11.3 rebounds while leading Philadelphia to the playoffs in each of the past four seasons.

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Jordan Love prepared to be Green Bay’s starting quarterback but says it’s ‘great’ Aaron Rodgers returned

He’s not to the point where he’s giving long and revealing answers like Aaron Rodgers, and he’s not one to crack up the room like third-stringer Kurt Benkert, so what is Jordan Love as he settles into the No. 2 quarterback job with the Green Bay Packers now that the reigning NFL MVP has returned?

No one’s immediate future was more up in the air during Rodgers’ standoff with the team than Love’s. Yet to hear his teammates tell it and to listen to him answer questions, Love was — and still is — nothing if not calm and even-keeled.

“Obviously there’s going to be either two options: Either he was going to be back or he wasn’t,” Love stated of Rodgers on Thursday in his first public comments since training camp opened on July 28.

“So yeah, I mean, it’s obviously very great to have Aaron back just on this team. Obviously he’s a huge presence at the quarterback position and in the locker room as well and then as a leader on the team, so it’s great to have him back.”

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A day after Rodgers said he tried to keep Love abreast of any developments during the offseason — because as Rodgers said, “I just felt that’s what I would want in that situation, just to hear from the guy” — Love called their relationship like a Master and Padawan, referring to one of Rodgers’ favorite movies, “Star Wars.”

Love said he found out about Rodgers’ return just before he boarded a plane to Green Bay for training camp.

“Actually, the whole time I had to convince myself that I was going to be the starter,” Love said. “That’s the only way you can look at that situation. I feel like if you don’t, you won’t be ready. That’s how I looked at it the whole way — is in my head he wasn’t coming back, I’ve got to get myself ready to be the starter.”

It was an invaluable offseason of work for Love, the 26th overall pick of the 2020 draft, given that he served as the No. 3 quarterback last season and did not even suit up for a single match as a rookie.

Much like in offseason practices, Love has experienced good and bad days so far in camp. Take Thursday, for example. He completed a tight-window crosser to Reggie Begelton and had perfect placement on a deep sideline out to Devin Funchess. But then during the two-minute drill, he went 0-for-3 with a pair of turnovers on downs and an interception by undrafted rookie Christian Uphoff on a wobbly deep ball.

“It was funny, I was talking to him in pre-practice today just about how things are going, and he seems so calm this year,” Packers guard Lucas Patrick said Thursday. “You can tell that he’s picking up on everything, and I think those OTAs reps were crucial for him. Just a ton of reps to say the cadence, say the playcall, go through things, hit strikes on quick stuff. Yeah, so I think he’s handling it well.”

Love said it helps that he can work in what he called “a great quarterback room” where he’s surrounded by the thoughtful Rodgers and the outgoing Benkert. While Rodgers was revealing again in his comments on Wednesday and Benkert cracked up the room by telling reporters the story of how he got cut by the Falcons earlier this year and that he basically invited himself to a July 4 cookout with some Packers fans, Love was his composed and buttoned-up self as he waits his turn.

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Denver Broncos LB Von Miller ‘at peace’ if this is final year with team

Denver Broncos linebacker Von Miller reported for his 11th campaign Tuesday, and while he has always hoped to be a “Bronco for life,” he says as he enters the last year of his contract that he wants to play several more years and is “at peace” if that is eventually somewhere else.

“I would like to keep playing. Whether that’s here with the Denver Broncos or somewhere else, I’m totally at peace with that,” Miller stated as the Broncos’ veteran players reported Tuesday for training camp. “I want to play five to seven more years, I think I said that a couple weeks ago.”

Miller, who was the Broncos’ first-round pick in the 2011 draft, is the team’s longest-tenured player. The Broncos engaged his contract option for the 2021 season in March, the last year of the six-year, $114.5 million deal he signed in 2016 several months after he had been named MVP of Super Bowl 50.

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He turned 32 in March, is about to be a father and said he wants to keep playing so his future son will be able to see him play.

But after worrying about his future for most of the summer of 2020, Miller said he’s taking a calmer approach this time around, even as he hopes to finish his career with the Broncos.

“I’m not really thinking about this is the last year of my contract, [or] will I be with the Broncos,” Miller said. “Last year, to be honest, that was really on my soul. I really wanted, I really wanted — of course I want to be here. I want to stay here for the rest of my career, but getting past that is kind of a release for me.”

Miller had powered through a bevy of offseason workouts in 2020 in hopes of leaving his eight-sack season in 2019 behind and helping end the current Broncos playoff drought, but he suffered a season-ending ankle injury days before the season opener and did not play in a game. His eight-sack total in ’19 was the lowest since 2013, when he had five.

Broncos coach Vic Fangio has already predicted Miller is again poised to have a big year in 2021, and general manager George Paton said picking up Miller’s option was an easy decision. “We wanted Von to be a Bronco … he’s going to have a Pro Bowl-type season,” Paton said earlier this year.

“Sitting out last year, it really helped me be at peace,” Miller said Tuesday. “Being at peace and being content, they are two totally different things. I feel like you can be at peace with whatever happens, but you still want to go out there and lead the league in sacks, you still want to get Defensive Player of the Year, still want to get all this crazy stuff, but I’m at peace with whatever happens.”

With 106 sacks in 135 career matches, Miller is the Broncos’ all-time sack leader, and he enters the 2021 season as the league’s active sack leader, five ahead of J.J. Watt.

Since Miller missed the 2020 season and Broncos outside linebacker Bradley Chubb missed most of the 2019 season with a knee injury, Miller has plenty of optimism for what the two may be able to do together in the defense this year. Chubb was named to his first Pro Bowl last season.

And in the 20 games Miller and Chubb have played together, they have combined for 29.5 sacks.

“He looks ready to go, I’m ready to go, this might be the one … I’m excited to see the things me and Bradley can do,” Miller said. “I feel great … I’m still running the same, still lifting the same as those guys. …” Miller added later.

“I’m hoping to play another five to seven years, maybe even more. I don’t want to put a number on it — if it’s less, it’s less. I’m at peace I’ve played in the league long enough. I’ve been in the league 11 years, so every single year after this is just a true blessing. I want to play a long time.”

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The Milwaukee Bucks To First NBA Championship In 50 Years

Giannis Antetokounmpo scored 50 points on Tuesday night to lead the Milwaukee Bucks to their first NBA Championship in 50 years.

Only six other players have scored 50 points or more in the NBA Finals. Only one other player has done it to clinch the title: Bob Petit had 50 in 1958 to win it all for the (then) St. Louis Hawks.

Led by two-time league MVP Antetokounmpo, the Bucks dominated the early part of the game, rocking the Phoenix Suns back on their heels from the outset. But Suns’ floor general Chris Paul took them on a run that had Phoenix back in the lead by halftime.

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Antetokounmpo took over in the 3rd, going for 20 points in the period, a single-quarter feat of force no other player has achieved in the Finals since Michael Jordan did it 28 years ago.

Antetokounmpo ended the game with 50 points, 13 rebounds, 5 blocks and — possibly most remarkable for him — made 17 of his 19 free throws.

The final score was 104-98. Bucks in 6.

It was a sweet victory for Milwaukee, who got to hoist the Larry O’Brien trophy in front of their home crowd, tens of thousands of whom crowded outside Fiserv Forum to witness the win together on big screens.

The Bucks’ last — and only other championship — came in 1971, when they were led by another all-time great big man named Lou Alcindor, who later became Kareem Abdul-Jabbar. After three more seasons Abdul-Jabbar went to the Lakers.

Antetokounmpo could have done the same thing once he was with the Bucks for three years. He could have left small market Milwaukee for the lights of L.A. or New York, but he stayed a Buck and signed a new contract in 2016.

In 2020, he redoubled his commitment and signed a $228 million contract, declaring in a Twitter post, “This is my home, this is my city.”

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Astros club 4 HRs, beat Orioles 13-0 for 10th straight win

José Altuve silenced the booing fans at Camden Yards with a two-run homer, José Urquidy pitched seven innings of three-hit ball and the Houston Astros stretched their winning streak to 10 matches by breezing past the Baltimore Orioles 13-0 Wednesday night.

Yordan Alvarez, Abraham Toro and Chas McCormick also homered for the Astros, who outscored the lowly Orioles 26-3 during a three-game sweep. Houston’s 10-game run is its longest since May 2019 and two short of the club record.

“To me, we’re doing what we’re capable of doing and I still think we’ve got a couple of guys who can get better,” Astros manage Dusty Baker said. “The guys are feeling good about themselves and that’s what you want.”

Altuve was greeted with jeers every time he stepped to the plate during the series, mostly because he was the Most Valuable Player during a 2017 campaign in which the Astros won the World Series but were later found to have been stealing signs.

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The Astros leadoff man has heard boos from opposing fans in almost every stadium this season, but Altuve has nevertheless hit 17 home runs, including a drive in the fourth inning off Thomas Eshelman (0-1) that made it 6-0.

“They spoiled some good pitches and put some good swings on some balls that were in the zone,” Eshelman said.

Alvarez and Toro connected in the seventh off knuckleballer Mickey Jannis and McCormick added a solo shot in the eighth.

Urquidy (6-3) didn’t need to be dominant on a night in which the Astros banged out 17 hits, but the right-hander nevertheless struck out six, walked one and permitted just one runner past second base. He’s won six of his last seven decisions and gone seven innings in three consecutive starts.

“He had outstanding control,” Baker said. “He always has control, but tonight he had command. He threw some quality strikes. He’s getting better and better each outing.”

Baltimore has lost 13 of 14 and Thursday will seek to snap a 19-game skid on the road in Buffalo versus the Toronto Blue Jays.

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George Springer debuts for Toronto Blue Jays, goes 0-for-4 in loss to Washington Nationals

Erick Fedde went six strong innings, Josh Harrison hit a three-run homer and the Washington Nationals defeated Toronto 8-2 in George Springer’s Blue Jays debut Wednesday night.

Fedde (2-2) permitted one run and two hits, including a fifth-inning solo homer by Lourdes Gurriel Jr. The right-hander struck out seven and walked three.

“With cutter, sinker, the combination is really good because he works both sides of the plate,” Washington manager Dave Martinez stated. “Today he threw a lot of curveballs, and it was effective for him as well. When you get can all those pitches in the strike zone as you can see he’s real tough to hit.”

Harrison got his third homer in 16 at-bats against Steven Matz (4-1), a three-run shot in the fourth that made it 6-0. Springer, who signed a team-record $150 million US, six-year deal this off-season, went 0 for 4.

The World Series MVP when Houston won its first title in 2017 missed time in spring training and the start of the season because of a strained oblique and later due to a right quadriceps strain.

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“He ran fine, saw a lot of pitches, which is good,” Blue Jays manager Charlie Montoyo said.

Trea Turner had four hits and Josh Bell also homered for the Nationals.

Toronto got an eighth-inning solo homer from Bo Bichette.

Matz, obtained from the New York Mets in January after going 0-5 with a 9.68 ERA last season, had won his first four starts for Toronto. He gave up six runs and eight hits over 3 2/3 innings.

The lefty is 1-8 against Washington. Since the start of last season, Matz has permitted 22 earned runs and eight homers over 14 innings in four games versus the Nationals.

“He just wasn’t as sharp today,” Montoyo said. “He still has the stuff but didn’t locate as well.”

Ryan Zimmerman drove in two with a single during a three-run third. Bell hit a two-run homer in the fifth.

Toronto loaded the bases with two outs in the third but failed to score when Turner, at short, fielded Randal Grichuk’s slow grounder barehanded and threw him out at first.

“I remember that ball just trickled by me … you’ve got to be kidding me,” Fedde said. “I think my initial reaction was `Oh no, it’s bare hand.’ Then an unbelievable play.”

Blue Jays catcher Danny Jansen went 0 for 3 with a walk. He is hitless in a career-long 34 at-bats.

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John Harbaugh guarantees Baltimore Ravens will pick up Lamar Jackson’s fifth-year option

For those who had any doubts, Baltimore Ravens coach John Harbaugh stated Tuesday that the team will pick up quarterback Lamar Jackson’s fifth-year option before Monday’s deadline.

“Guarantee it,” Harbaugh said on “The Rich Eisen Show.”

Jackson will make a guaranteed $23.1 million in 2022, a significant raise from his $1.7 million salary this season. This will be the highest fifth-year option in the league next season, tying Buffalo Bills quarterback Josh Allen.

By exercising Jackson’s option, the Ravens will squash the speculation that the team will let Jackson to “graduate” after four seasons.

An NFL Network analyst recently suggested the Ravens could trade up to draft a quarterback this week and move on from Jackson before his heightened salary-cap hit limited Baltimore’s spending.

Harbaugh made it clear that won’t be the case. “He’s definitely going to be our quarterback,” Harbaugh said. “That’s the plan, absolutely.”

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Jackson, 24, has won more games (30) than any other NFL quarterback since taking over as Baltimore’s starter midway through the 2018 season and became the second unanimous league MVP in 2019.

He’s the first player in NFL history to produce 5,000 yards passing and 2,500 yards rushing in his first three campaigns.

Harbaugh pointed out how the Ravens have scored more points than any other team in Jackson’s two full seasons as a starting quarterback.

“I feel like it all points to one thing and the thing he talks about all the time: He wants to win a Super Bowl,” Harbaugh said.

“I think he’s a very unique guy. He’s a guy that’s different in a lot of ways than any quarterback that’s ever played. Lamar is somebody that just kind of breaks the mold a little bit. He does it in a way that a lot of people didn’t anticipate. They didn’t see this coming. He’s very determined — and we’re very determined — to prove those people wrong.”

In March, Ravens general manager Eric DeCosta stated the team is “confident and committed” to getting a long-term deal done with Jackson.

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Star receiver Julian Edelman, 34, retires, ending 12-year career with New England Patriots

Patriots star receiver Julian Edelman, who helped New England win three championships and was the MVP of Super Bowl LIII, declared his retirement in a video posted on social media Monday.

The NFL transaction wire released Monday stated that Edelman had his contract terminated by the Patriots, but the roster move is expected to be a technicality as part of his retirement, a source told ESPN.

“It was a hard decision, but the right decision for me and my family,” Edelman said. “And I’m honored and so proud to be retiring a Patriot. … It’s been the best 12 years of my life.”

Edelman, who turns 35 next month, was limited to six matches last season because of a chronic knee injury. He spent his entire 12-year career with the Patriots and ranks second in NFL history with 118 postseason receptions, behind only Jerry Rice’s 151.

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Edelman caps his career in second place on the all-time Patriots chart for receptions (620), behind only Wes Welker (672).

He is fourth on the team’s career receiving yards list with 6,822 receiving yards, behind only Stanley Morgan (10,352), Rob Gronkowski (7,861) and Welker (7,459).

Edelman was still playing at a high level last campaign, totaling a career-high 179 yards in a Week 2 loss to the Seahawks. But the nagging knee injury ultimately landed him on injured reserve in late October, and while there was hope he might return late in the season, he wasn’t healthy enough to be activated.

Because of his health, the Patriots went into the 2021 offseason unsure of Edelman’s status, which contributed to their agreeing to contracts with receivers Nelson Agholor (two years, $26 million, with $15 million guaranteed) and Kendrick Bourne (three years, $22.5 million, with $5.25 million guaranteed) on the first day of free agency.

Edelman was also entering the final year of his contract.

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