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‘Ashamed of our country’: NBA, NFL players and coaches perturbed by Donald Trump’s ‘unnerving’ election win



The election of Donald Trump as president spurred protests in spots around the country. For some athletes in the NBA and NFL, it was a sobering development they struggled to accept and understand.

NBA players, such as David West, and coaches Doc Rivers, Steve Kerr and Stan Van Gundy, were outwardly critical, expressing anxiety, uncertainty and fear. In the NFL, Brandon Marshall, Aaron Rodgers and Doug Baldwin sorted out their feelings, while in New England, Bill Belichick and Tom Brady faced questions about their seeming support for Trump.

“The message was loud and clear last night,” West, a veteran forward for the Golden State Warriors and a two time all-star, said Wednesday (via CSN Bay Area). “I don’t think there’s any room to not face the obvious truth: that he speaks for the majority of the people in this nation. His attitudes about black people and Muslim people, about women, about just about whatever group you can name, folks agreed with his position. And you can’t deny that because folks voted for him.

“So this whole fairy tale about some post-racial … this utopia that Obama supposedly created, it’s all bull. That’s the bottom line. When you look at what the results say from last night, this nation has not moved a thread in terms of its ideals.”

West, who is in his 14th season at the age of 36, made headlines recently when he revealed that he has staged a silent national anthem protest for years, standing two feet behind teammates during the song to protest inequalities faced by African Americans.

West called the election disappointing: “A lot of the things (Trump) was saying publicly, a majority of this country feels privately,” he tweeted.

He was disturbed by the election as well as by things Trump said during the campaign.

“The things that he said, the things that he represented, that’s the way that the majority of this nation feels,” West said. “I think he just emboldened them because he’s able to say it publicly. He got the platform. It is kind of unnerving and unsettling … The man’s 70 years old, so he is who he is. It’s just a shame that, throughout the process, a lot of these people were in hiding and waited for the cover of the ballot to represent who they are.”

Trump won the electoral college but finished second to Hillary Clinton in the popular vote in an election in which fewer than 50 percent of citizens chose to vote.

Rivers, the head coach of the Los Angeles Clippers, seized on the bigger picture — that people have the power to change the results of the election peacefully.

“Listen, Donald Trump is going to be fine, all right, as president,” Rivers said (via USA Today). “That’s something I never thought I’d have to say, honestly. But at the end of the day he will be because I just believe America overall works. There’s a Congress and a Senate and it’s gonna work out.

“But if you don’t like it, you have two years from now to change it. Not (to change the) president, but you can change the Congress and you can change the Senate. So if you don’t like it, change it. And you change it by either running for office or voting…

“Don’t get mad — go do something.”

Detroit Pistons coach Stan Van Gundy, on the other hand, was extremely critical of Trump and the election, as was Steve Kerr, the Warriors coach. Van Gundy, who coaches in a state that helped tip the election in Trump’s favor, embarked on a tirade Wednesday, saying, “I don’t think anybody can deny this guy (Trump) is openly and brazenly racist and misogynistic and ethnic-centric.”

“We have just thrown a good part of our population under the bus, and I have problems with thinking that this is where we are as a country,” he said, in part (via, adding that his players were quieter than usual because of “last night.”

The 57-year-old coach noted that he understood that voters had issues with Clinton, but that Trump’s victory has made him “ashamed of our country.” To Van Gundy, Trump’s comments toward women and minorities should have disqualified him for the presidency.

“Certain things in our country should disqualify you. And the fact (is) that millions and millions of Americans don’t think that racism and sexism disqualifies you to be our leader, in our country,” Van Gundy said. “We presume to tell other countries about human-rights abuses and everything else. We better never do that again, when our leaders talk to China or anybody else about human-rights abuses.

“It’s incredible,” he continued. “I don’t know how you go about it, if you’re a person of color today or a Latino. Because white society just said to you, again — not like we haven’t forever — but again, and emphatically, that I don’t think you deserve equality. We don’t think you deserve respect. And the same with women. That’s what we say today, as a country. We should be ashamed for what we stand for as the United States today.”

Kerr, who coaches in a state that broke for Clinton, and Van Gundy happen to a work in a league in which the majority of players are African-American, as is the NFL. Kerr applauded Van Gundy’s comments.

“Maybe we should’ve seen it coming over the last 10 years. You look at society, you look at what’s popular. People are getting paid millions of dollars to go on TV and scream at each other, whether it’s in sports or politics or entertainment, and I guess it was only a matter of time before it spilled into politics,” Kerr said. “But then all of a sudden you’re faced with the reality that the man who’s gonna lead you has routinely used racist, misogynist, insulting words.

“That’s a tough one. That’s a tough one. I wish him well. I hope he’s a good president. I have no idea what kind of president he’ll be because he hasn’t said anything about what he’s going to do. We don’t know. But it’s tough when you want there to be some respect and dignity, and there hasn’t been any. And then you walk into a room with your daughter and your wife who have basically been insulted by his comments and they’re distraught. Then you walk in and see the faces of your players, most of them who have been insulted directly as minorities, it’s very shocking. It really is.”

San Antonio Spurs coach Gregg Popovich, who made headlines when he defended San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick’s decision to kneel during the national anthem, has also weighed in on the controversy surrounding the recent shootings of unarmed African-American men and has called race in America “the elephant in the room.”

“It’s easier for white people because we haven’t lived that experience. It’s difficult for many white people to understand the day-to-day feeling that many black people have to deal with,” Popovich recently told the San Antonio media. “I didn’t talk to my kids about how to act in front of a policeman when you get stopped. I didn’t have to do that. All of my black friends have done that. There’s something that’s wrong about that, and we all know that.”

Popovich, a 67-year-old U.S. Air Force veteran, explained to ESPN’s The Undefeated this week that he credits his social consciousness to growing up in racially diverse East Chicago, Indiana and that he values learning from other cultures.

“There is a big world out there and a whole lot of stuff going on,” Popovich told the website. “The more aware people are, the better off. For our team, since we have so many people from so many different areas, it helps us come together when they realize how big the world is.”

On Thursday, members of the Cleveland Cavaliers will visit the White House on the same day as Trump’s visit, joining President Obama in a championship tradition that will be tested, at least by NBA teams, by Trump’s time in office — unless he turns out to govern differently than he campaigned.

As West indicated, NBA players are skeptical. Veteran guard Richard Jefferson sarcastically posted on Snapchat that he feels honored to be part of the “last team to visit the White House,” as others have wondered if players or even teams will skip the tradition once Trump is in office.

It’s tough when you want there to be some respect and dignity, and there hasn’t been any. And then you walk into a room with your daughter and your wife who have basically been insulted by his comments and they’re distraught

J.R. Smith, who had campaigned for Clinton in Ohio with Cavaliers teammate LeBron James, wondered Wednesday on Instagram what he would say to his young daughters.

“How do you explain to this face what happen? You can be a educated women in your field an(d) not get the job because your a women or cause your black?” he wrote. “How do you say ‘go try your best’ even though it won’t be good enough. How do I even feel confident sending her on play dates knowing the kids family voted for the racist, sexist person an I don’t know how they will treat her when she’s gone. How? Seriously How? I understand let go and let God! But damn!”

Like Smith, New York Knicks star Carmelo Anthony was considering what to tell his child.

“I talked to kids today this morning, my family, you can just hear the nervousness,” Anthony said Wednesday night (via Newsday). “They are afraid and don’t know what to think and people don’t know what to do at this point. I think it is up to us as individuals to kind of take on that responsibility and everybody has to lead in their own way. We can’t rely on a system or one person and we got to move on from that.”

Anthony’s son is nine, and he was thinking about how to discuss the election with him.

“It is a conversation that we all are going to have to have with our kids,” Anthony said. “What is that conversation? That is the scary part for me, what is that conversation? … I am a big believer about worrying about things that you can control and in this situation, we as people have to worry about the things that we can control. We can’t control what is going to happen, but it doesn’t mean that we have to stop, just because somebody is in a position now that we may not agree with and might not like and we may not want in that position. The work has to start right now. And it is going to be even harder, but we can’t stop working.”

Oklahoma City Thunder guard Russell Westbrook preferred to let others interpret his thoughts. “I didn’t vote for Trump. I’ll tell you that much,” he said. “That’s all I’m gonna say.”

James, the vocal Clinton supporter and face of the NBA, admitted on Instagram that the election result left him “looking and searching for answers,” as he shared audio of “Alright” by rapper Kendrick Lamar.

“If we continue the faith (as hard as it may be to do so) we will BE ALRIGHT!! Parents and leaders of our children please let them know they can still change the world for the better! Don’t lose a bit of faith!” wrote James, a father of three, pledging to lead the youngsters who idolize him “every single day without no hesitation.” He concluded the post with, “Even if whos now in office doesn’t, Know that I LOVE YOU’LL!!!”

Politics came to the NFL this summer, when Kaepernick decided to remain seated or kneel during the national anthem to raise awareness of violence against African Americans and racial injustice. Kaepernick, who said he did not vote for either candidate, said he has received death threats but continues his protest.

Others in the NFL took up the gesture, with the Seattle Seahawks linking arms. Doug Baldwin, the son of a former police officer and a man with relatives serving in the military, was one of the leaders of the team as it decided how to protest brutality without indicting the military.

“I thought that a lot of the things that we had seen in the past few months brought up a lot of old emotions and old feelings,” he said Wednesday (via ESPN). “And in terms of growing up in the South (Florida) and being around a more conservative area, it resonated with me pretty painfully that that’s what our population wanted. That’s what the country wanted. To move in that direction, it’s disheartening.”

Baldwin has hosted police officers at the Seahawks’ facility and he chose to focus on the fact that the divisive presidential rhetoric has opened the conversation about race.

“It was in relation to everything, especially what I’m doing, the groundwork in terms of trying to bridge the gap between police officers and the community,” Baldwin said. “At times, it’s been divisive because of the conversation, because of the political conversation that we’ve had in the context of what’s going on and what has been going on with the election, and now it’s become more divisive. And so it’s discouraging at some point, but the fight must continue.

“It’s an opportunity for us as individuals to educate ourselves more, to take the opportunity to join together more and to have the conversations, the difficult conversations. Because a lot of the times, what I’ve been seeing and what I’ve been discussing with my teammates and people outside this locker room is that there’s more of a divide in this country than we wanted to admit in terms of race, in terms of all kinds of things. We’ve been trying to hide it for so long, and I think this just brings it more to the forefront. So if there’s a silver lining in it to me, it’s that this conversation about what progress truly looks like is going to continue.”

Brandon Marshall, the New York Jets wide receiver, has been one of the NFL’s most vocal advocates for increased mental health awareness since revealing that he has borderline personality disorder a few years ago. He chose not to talk about whether he had even voted, focusing instead on the personality of the president-elect.

“The good thing about it is we have a flawed man in office leading our country who’s had some really public, nasty things go on,” he said (via the New York Daily News). “I think that’s a good thing because we put certain people and certain positions on a pedestal and we expect perfection. And that’s not the case. And I think if we all look in the mirror, we will all see someone who also has their own issues.”

Marshall, who tweeted that the locker room is not the proper place to talk politics, chose to focus on the positive.

“I just pray that he does a great job. I also pray that he leads all — not just some. That’s what I’m hopeful for,” Marshall said. “That’s his job. Obviously there’s some people that have been offended. Rightfully so. Now that he’s our president, I just pray that he leads all and not just some.”

NFL players tend to be more controversy-averse, perhaps because their contracts are not guaranteed. But Martellus Bennett, the Patriots’ tight end, had a message for his little girl, Jett. “Let’s color the world together, your dreams are my dreams,” he wrote on Instagram. “Together we can be the change we wish to see in the universe. We have a lot of work to do, but I think we will have help.”

NFL quarterbacks Rodgers and Brady preferred not to step forward on the matter. Rodgers opened his comments with humor.

“I just want to thank all the voters out there who did vote for me,” he said (via the Green Bay Press-Gazette). “I know for some people it was between me and Harambe (the Cincinnati zoo gorilla who was killed in May when a child fell into his pit). I think I finished second in that vote.”

I just pray that he does a great job. I also pray that he leads all — not just some. That’s what I’m hopeful for

Rodgers didn’t say which candidate he selected, but said he was up late watching.

“I knew it was going to be a historic night either way,” Rodgers said. “You have an outsider winning, or the first woman to be president. So I thought it was an important night for our country, and really a message to the establishment, if you’re looking at it from an objective point of view.

“I hope as a country we can now come together and work a little better with each other. Obviously, there were some people who were — rightfully so — worried about the direction of the country now, but I think it’s an important time for us that we come together and figure out how to work with each other.”

In New England, Trump brought up the regionally beloved duo of Brady and Belichick in a New Hampshire stump speech Monday, but both seemed uncomfortable with the spotlight that brought. Trump claimed that Brady, who has called Trump a friend, called to say he had voted for him. Brady’s wife, supermodel Gisele Bündchen, emphatically responded “NO!” to an Instagram user who asked if the couple supported Trump. Her husband was only too happy to deflect Monday. “Talk to my wife,” he told reporters. “She said I can’t talk about politics anymore.”

Trump read a gushing letter from Belichick at the rally and Belichick, in his most Belichickian way, offered a statement Wednesday, saying that he writes “hundreds of letters and notes every month. (It) doesn’t mean I agree with every single thing that every person thinks about politics, religion or other subjects.”

Because the NBA and NFL seasons are going on, their players are accessible. Baseball players have the luxury of maintaining a lower profile right now, but that didn’t keep Chicago Cubs ace pitcher Jake Arrieta from tweeting about stars who had threatened to leave America if Trump were elected.

“Time for Hollywood to pony up and head for the border,” he wrote. “#illhelpyoupack #beatit”

Cubs President Theo Epstein, who had donated to the Clinton campaign, happened to be at the general managers’ meeting Wednesday and he expressed support for Arrieta’s right to express himself.

“Just like our ownership group is as diverse as you can be politically. Tolerance is important, especially in a democracy,” Epstein told reporters. “The ability to have honest conversations, even if you come from a different place, a difference (in) perspective is fundamentally important.”

At some point, the Cubs will face the decision whether to celebrate their championship with a traditional White House visit. Although Obama extended an invitation to the team to try to squeeze in a team from his home town of Chicago before he leaves office, visiting the White House may be a decision that is deferred into 2017.

For now, the Cavs are up next. They’ll meet with Obama on Thursday afternoon, just hours after Trump makes his first post-election trip to 1600 Pennsylvania Ave. to talk with Obama about succession.

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Up and Coming Sports Stars to Look Out for in 2020



Every year, a raft of exciting new players come onto the scene across all of the major US sports. With the MLS season getting underway and the NFL and MLB drafts not too far away, now is a great time to look at the young sports stars that could have a very bright future ahead of them, and the ones that are already proving they are destined for greatness.

Theo Bair (MLS)

This MLS season is looking like it could be one of the best yet, with David Beckham’s Inter Miami team adding some extra dazzle to the league. Whilst Beckham might be able to attract a lot of new players to his MLS team, there are a lot of young stars on their way through such as Theo Bair at Vancouver Whitecaps. Bair has already made an impact on the first team and after impressing at under-20 and under-23 level for the national team, he has made two appearances for the senior team, well before his 21st birthday. This year could see Bair make a real name for himself in the MLS.

Source: Pixabay

Vladimir Guerrero Jr. (MLB)

Montreal-born Vladimir Guerrero Jr has one MLB season under his belt but it looks like the best is still yet to come from him at the Blue Jays. He was heavily backed to take the league by storm but he failed to live up to the hype that surrounded him. Without the pressure of being the top-ranked prospect, this season could see Guerrero play with some weight lifted off his shoulders. He has been working very hard on his fitness over the offseason, something that his manager Montoyo has been quick to comment upon.

Baseball by andrewmalone, on Flickr

Baseball” (CC BY 2.0) by andrewmalone

Connor McDavid (NHL)

McDavid has already established him as a top hockey player but at 23, he has the potential to go on to do so much more. The player was born in Ontario and was the first overall draft pick, showing how much expectation was already on him at that stage but he has gone on to prove that he is one of the best players in the NHL. McDavid could go on to be one the NHL’s best-ever hockey players and this season could be the year that he shows the world, not just the NHL.

Chuba Hubbard (College Football)

The Oklahoma State Cowboys running back has been making the headlines for several years now. He continues to improve and grab more attention for his impressive stats and performances. He was close to being a sprinter and nearly made the Canadian Olympic team before switching over to football. He is passing up the 2020 NFL draft to play his senior season at Cowboys. He should give them a good chance of winning the College Football Championship, though they’re trailing at the seventh spot in the latest American football odds at +2400.00, with Clemson as the current betting favorites.

2020 will definitely be a very exciting time with some of these young stars looking to breakthrough in their respective sports and show the world what they are capable of.

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Bob Baffert is back at the Kentucky Derby – and looking to break the Curse of Apollo



Bob Baffert is back at the Kentucky Derby with early favourite Justify after watching the race from his sofa in Southern California last year.

The Hall of Fame trainer’s ability to produce Derby contenders year after year is an enviable feat and why his absence a year ago stood out. It was just his second since 2009 and occurred because his lone candidate got hurt.

Baffert will saddle Justify and 30-to-1 shot Solomini in Saturday’s Derby.

Justify is one of the greenest colts Baffert has brought to Churchill Downs. He’s won all three of his starts by a combined 19 lengths. If Justify wins, he’d be the first to do so since Apollo in 1882 without racing as a two-year-old.

“The thing about the Kentucky Derby, you have to have the right horse. It just happens. You can’t force it,” Baffert said. “All of a sudden, you have good horses and you’re there. So I’ve been really fortunate to have some really good horses.”

Baffert’s four victories are tied for second-most in Derby history. He’s finished second three times, too, including in 2012 with Bodemeister, also the last time he had two starters in the same year.

Like Justify, Bodemeister didn’t race as a two-year-old. He set a blistering pace and led the Derby until the final 150 yards when I’ll Have Another overtook him to win by 1 1/2 lengths.

Magnum Moon, the 6-to-1 third choice, also is unbeaten and didn’t run as a two-year-old.

“It’s going to happen,” Baffert said, referring to the curse being broken. “Whether it happens this year or whatever, but it will happen because Bodemeister almost got away with it. But I don’t really worry about that.”

Baffert almost had a third starter this year until McKinzie developed a hind-end issue that knocked him off the Derby trail.

“When McKinzie got hurt, I wanted to throw up,” he said. “I really think McKinzie would probably be second choice here. We’d really have a 1-2 here.”

Justify cleared the biggest pre-Derby hurdle by drawing the No. 7 post. Jockey Mike Smith can use the colt’s early speed to position him well for the long run to the chaotic first turn. Solomini ended up in the No. 17 post; no horse has ever won from there.

Baffert turned 65 in January, making him eligible for Medicare and retirement at most other jobs. However, he entertains no such thoughts.

“I work hard at it. I just don’t give up,” the white-haired trainer said. “I’m constantly meeting people. They’re sending me horses. If you don’t have success, you’re not going to get those opportunities.”

After a successful run in the quarter horse ranks, Baffert switched to thoroughbreds. He started with one horse.

“After 25 years, I’m finally getting horses that I don’t have to buy,” he said. “The big guys are sending me horses.”

None was bigger than American Pharoah in 2015. The colt swept the Derby, Preakness and Belmont to become racing’s first Triple Crown winner in 37 years.

Baffert has compared Justify to American Pharoah, citing the colt’s imposing physical presence and big stride. Still, Justify has yet to encounter the kind of traffic the Derby’s 20-horse stampede creates and the talent as he’ll run against on Saturday.

“I’d rather have a really talented horse than one who’s seasoned and just on par with the rest of them,” Baffert said.

Early on, Baffert knew Justify had the goods.

“The first time I worked him at Santa Anita, I knew he was a really good horse,” he said. “The track was really deep that morning, and he went around there effortlessly. His first race, he ran incredibly and showed how special he was.”

That kind of intuition is what separates Baffert from his rivals, fellow Hall of Famer trainer D. Wayne Lukas said.

“Bob’s got a great feel for it,” he said.

Read more…

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Matthews ready to return to Maple Leafs lineup after missing a month



NASHVILLE — The hurtin’ tune that Auston Matthews has been singing for the past four weeks finally can be put in the remainder bin in Music City.

The Maple Leafs’ top centre on Wednesday declared himself set to return to the lineup after recovering from a right shoulder injury.

Wonderful timing, of course, considering the Leafs will take on the No. 1 club in the National Hockey League, the Nashville Predators, on Thursday night.

“In my mind, I think I’m ready to go and taking it as I’m getting ready to play (Thursday),” Matthews said after resuming his normal role, between William Nylander and Zach Hyman, during practice at Bridgestone Arena.

“It felt good, nice to get in all the reps and everything. (Wednesday) was a good step forward in that process, going through the line rushes.”

It seemed probable that the Leafs also will have defenceman Nikita Zaitsev, who missed the past five games as he recovered from an illness, against Nashville. Zaitsev was paired with Jake Gardiner, his regular partner, at practice.

For Matthews, it has been 10 games as a spectator with his latest injury, his third of the 2017-18 regular season after he missed four games in November with a back issue and then sat for six in December because of a concussion.

Thursday will mark four weeks since Matthews was hurt when he was sandwiched by the New York Islanders’ Cal Clutterbuck and Adam Pelech in a game at the Air Canada Centre.

A major bonus for Matthews in his recovery has been the fact he has been able to skate though much of his recuperation. That was not the case when he was out with his previous two injuries.

It’s worth noting that Matthews scored two goals versus the Montreal Canadiens upon returning on Nov. 18 from his back injury; in his first two games upon coming back from a concussion, he scored a goal in each.

Mike Babcock said a final decision on the participation of Matthews and Zaitsev against the Predators would be made on Thursday morning, but the Leafs coach was talking as though it would be a rubber stamp.

“This is going to be the best opportunity for (Matthews) because he has been able to skate and compete,” Babcock said. “The other times he was not able to do anything.

“To get him back … it’s still going to be going way faster than he has been practising, so there is going to be an adjustment period, but he’s a good player and he will figure it out.”

Defenceman Morgan Rielly didn’t think Matthews will take long to find his footing. Rielly missed six games in late January/early February with an arm injury, so knows what Matthews could be feeling.

“You’re nervous and you just want to get back into it,” Rielly said. “You play your first shift a bit hesitant, but after that it’s important you get back to yourself.

“It’s never easy, but Auston is one of those guys that I will imagine it won’t take long for him to get back into a rhythm.”

And there’s the trickle-down effect through the forward lines with Matthews in uniform.

“Guys are used to playing with certain players and when everyone is healthy, I think you get better chemistry throughout the entire lineup,” centre Nazem Kadri said. “Certain guys don’t have to play with different guys constantly and it’s just more of a set group, so I think it’s going to help us.”

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