Volquez looks to continue revival against Giants (Yahoo Sports) - PITTSBURGH (AP) -- Edinson Volquez's renaissance began with a simple game of catch. Hughes overtakes Moore in title race - Richard Hughes passes Ryan Moore in the jockeys' title race after completing a double at Salisbury. Coleman 'doesn't care' about critics - Wales manager Chris Coleman says he will never win over some supporters and is "not bothered" by the criticism. Paceman Mills set to leave Essex - England Lions paceman Tymal Mills is to leave Essex, while spinner Tim Phillips retires after 16 seasons at Chelmsford. 'Pardew can handle Magpies pressure' - Alan Pardew can handle the pressure at Newcastle despite calls for him to leave the club, say two former team-mates. Dettori to ride Ruler in Arc - Frankie Dettori will ride 2013 Epsom Derby winner Ruler Of The World in Sunday's Prix de l'Arc de Triomphe. Dettori to ride Ruler at Arc - Frankie Dettori will ride 2013 Epsom Derby winner Ruler Of The World at Sunday's Prix de l'Arc de Triomphe. McIlroy named PGA Player of Year - World number one Rory McIlroy is voted PGA Tour Player of the Year for a second time after winning two majors in 2014. Charging documents show Phelps DUI tied to alcohol (Yahoo Sports) - Michael Phelps can't seem to break a disturbing pattern. McIlroy wins PGA Tour player of the year (Yahoo Sports) - ST. ANDREWS, Scotland (AP) -- One incredible month of golf was enough for Rory McIlroy to be voted PGA Tour player of the year.

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BDL's 2014-15 NBA Season Previews: Indiana Pacers [Yahoo! Sports: Blogs: October 1, 2014, 6:29 pm]
Looking back on a season that began with nine straight wins, a 25-5 record by New Year's Day and a 40-12 mark in mid-February, Paul George offered a brief assessment of the 2013-14 Indiana Pacers: "We peaked too early." With a new campaign approaching, it seems the '14-'15 edition won't peak at all. You know why. Either you saw Paul George's right leg shatter live during the USA Basketball Showcase, or you watched it later because you had to scratch the itch, or you avoided it, preferring the awful imagining of the image to stark certainty. But you know. You know that the All-NBA forward — Indy's leading scorer, arguably the game's best two-way player, the one guy the Pacers couldn't lose — is lost, and that optimism and hope for an early return don't change reality. "At that moment, the light went out," Pacers leader David West said on Media Day, according to Candace Buckner of the Indianapolis Star. "[...] What we were looking for, obviously what our goals were as a group the last couple years, the light just went out on that." A Pacers team built around defense, toughness and togetherness might have been able to bounce back from their abysmal close to the season. Indiana might have been able to shake off the dreadful stretch that saw them play barely-.500 ball after the All-Star break before being pushed to seven games by a sub-.500 No. 8 seed and losing home-court advantage in three straight playoff series. The Pacers may have been able to recover after watching their season end, for the third year in a row, at the hands of the Miami Heat. They may even have been able weather the loss of Lance Stephenson, who chose to take his on-court absurdity, locker-room instigation and emerging two-way talents to North Carolina in free agency, a decision that Pacers president Larry Bird called "disappointing," but that could — maybe — have represented addition by subtraction. Coming back after the gruesome exit of their signature star, though? Sorry. Turn out the

Denver Nuggets mascot Rocky appeared at a Colorado GOP rally, upsetting the franchise [Yahoo! Sports: Blogs: October 1, 2014, 1:32 am]
Professional sports franchises, like most businesses, do whatever they can to appeal to the most potential consumers possible. In most cases, this means that they shy away from making any statements or stands that could offend a sizable portion of their fan base. Few topics divide more than politics, and so teams typically reserve comments on social issues for special occasions in which a groundswell of support makes silence untenable. This phenomenon is certainly not unique to the NBA or other leagues, but it's apparent enough that any crossing of that line tends to stand out. An official mascot appearing at an event for a state political party would seem to qualify. Rocky, the plush mountain lion who represents the Denver Nuggets, showed up alongside 2012 presidential candidate Mitt Romney and others at a rally for the Colorado Republican Committee and the party's various candidates for office this November. This tweet proves as much (via Deadspin): The tweet was deleted soon after its posting. All registered voters, even those who wear animal costumes, are able to support any candidates they wish. Of course, most don't do so in association with a major sports franchise, and that has upset Rocky's bosses with the Nuggets. From David Krause for The Denver Post: Nuggets marketing manager Graham Wincott, who handles Rocky and his appearances, said the team's mascot showing up at the GOP event was "an unsanctioned, unpaid appearance that we had no knowledge of." [...] "As a sports team, we want to be apolitical," Wincott said. "Two things we never touch on are politics and religion." [...] Wincott said the matter was being handled "internally" but the organization is setting "new protocol for anyone who wears a mascot uniform for a Kroenke sports team." Ken Solomon has played Rocky for more than 20 years. As Rocky, he posed for pictures Monday and danced on stage with various GOP volunteers at the event before the political speeches began. [...] "I was surprised and

Kevin Martin swears he didn't know Kevin Love was traded until training camp hit [Yahoo! Sports: Blogs: September 30, 2014, 9:37 pm]
Former Minnesota Timberwolves superstar Kevin Love was, in effect, dealt to the Cleveland Cavaliers during the first week of August. The Wolves and Cavs could not execute the deal until Aug. 23 because of the NBA’s bylaws regarding the trading of rookies, but eventually the two teams did follow through on the agreed-upon move to send Love (in essence) to Cleveland for youngsters Andrew Wiggins, Anthony Bennett, and scoring forward Thaddeus Young. That’s a pretty large franchise shift, especially for a player in Kevin Martin who decided to join Minnesota two summers ago so as to ride out his prime with a knowing coach in Rick Adelman (since retired) and a sweet-shooting forward in Kevin Love (since traded). Trading a 26-and-12 guy for a couple of young men born during the Clinton Administration would seem to be a bit of a lifestyle shift, especially for a player about to enter his 11th NBA season, as Martin is. A season that Martin, unless he was pulling off the driest sense of dry humor in Minnesota’s history since the last time someone from Minnesota pulled off some dry humor (they’re really good at it!), didn’t know until recently would start with Kevin Love in Cleveland. From Jerry Zgoda at the Pioneer-Press: “I didn’t know Kevin Love got traded until yesterday,” Martin said with a straight face at Monday’s annual media day at Target Center that preceded a midnight start to training camp in Mankato. “I’m not big on looking at blogs and all that.” That’s, I suppose, possible. To credit “blogs” for solely dealing in rumor is a little 2005-ish, what with most websites, cable TV channels, tickers, radio, social media, and, I dunno, OTHER PLAYERS IN THE NBA INCLUDING YOUR TEAMMATES possibly talking about the potential trade involving the most prominent teammate on the franchise that you work for. Not only did Adrian Wojnarowski break the story for our website weeks before the deal could be legally finalized, but if an agreement to deal

The 10-man rotation, starring the unique resolution to the Morris twins' contract negotiation [Yahoo! Sports: Blogs: September 30, 2014, 9:28 pm]
A look around the league and the Web that covers it. It's also important to note that the rotation order and starting nods aren't always listed in order of importance. That's for you, dear reader, to figure out. C: Bright Side of the Sun. From Phoenix Suns Media Day, Dave King relays the story of how the team re-upped twin brothers Markieff Morris and Marcus Morris to four-year contract extensions: "With the agreement of managing partner Robert Sarver and GM Ryan McDonough, [president of basketball operations Lon Babby] offered a total of $52 million over 4 years to the brothers as a package deal, and asked them to split it how they wanted." PF: Charlotte Observer. Rick Bonnell takes a look at all the work the Charlotte Hornets have put into breaking down and rebuilding Michael Kidd-Gilchrist's busted jumper: "'Does it feel that different? Well, it’s going in a lot more,' Kidd-Gilchrist said with a big grin." SF: The Starters. Sure, you could stop with just Marcin Gortat and Martell Webster when identifying the Washington Wizards as brands of sexual chocolate, but if you did, you wouldn't be Trey Kerby. SG: Heat.com. Good stuff from Couper Moorhead on how "flex four" Josh McRoberts — who, as I wrote earlier this summer, was sort of a weird combination of a stretch four and a point forward for the Charlotte Bobcats last year — could represent the Miami Heat's best chances of maintaining a top-10 offense in the aftermath of LeBron James' departure. PG: The New Republic. Christopher Beam has more details on that Chinese play starring Stephon Marbury: "For a show named after Marbury, starring Marbury, 'I Am Marbury' actually contains very little Marbury […] Marbury is less a character in the show than an idea, i.e., that underdogs can triumph." 6th: Waiting for Next Year. A fun graphic-inspired breakdown of the game of Dion Waiters, who may be the wild card for the championship-hopeful Cleveland Cavaliers. 7th: Denver Post. Amid media-day optimism in Colorado, B

Why should Trey Burke have to apologize for taking nude pictures of himself? [Yahoo! Sports: Blogs: September 30, 2014, 7:04 pm]
Perhaps I’m missing something here. Actually, I know I’m missing something here. By choice I’m working without a working knowledge of what Utah Jazz guard Trey Burke looks like without his clothes on, which is not something I can say for dozens of other athletes I’ve been around in various states of undress while working in NBA locker rooms. Burke’s reason for disrobing wasn’t to change back into his everyday clothes following a Jazz game, in this instance, as apparently he took nude photos of himself and sent them to someone who apparently appreciated receiving those sorts of photos via phone. As, you may have heard, thousands if not millions of people do. (I understand that feigning ignorance before lecturing an audience is a common sportswriter trope, but this genuinely does baffle me.) Unless there’s something we’ve yet to learn, Burke wasn’t sending unsolicited photos to someone. He wasn’t harassing someone who wanted nothing to do with pictures like these. If it turns out that Burke was harassing a second party in texting the intended against their wishes, we’ll be the first in line to characterize the person who received and then released the photos as a victim in this case. Guys, if they don’t want it, don’t do that. If Burke did share these photos with someone who was into that, and they decided (after, presumably, a relationship’s end) to leak them, then why are we getting statements from Burke like this: "Publicly, I want to first and foremost apologize to my family [and] apologize to the Miller family, as well as my teammates," he said. "We already talked about it in the locker room. From this day forward, it won't happen again. They were old pictures. They were meant to be kept private but they weren't. So from this day forward my actions and my judgments will be much better." And this: "We were made aware of the situation this morning," general manager Dennis Lindsey said. "We’ve collected a lot of the facts. We still h

James Harden: 'Obviously, there's times my defense is pretty bad ... I have to be a lot better' [Yahoo! Sports: Blogs: September 30, 2014, 5:37 pm]
When James Harden proclaimed himself the "best all-around basketball player in the NBA" this summer, the claim was met in many quarters with a hearty laugh, followed by a link to one of the supercuts of his poor defense that have gone viral over the past year. As it turns out, the reigning All-NBA First Team shooting guard heard every last chuckle, even all the way over in Spain for the 2014 FIBA World Cup, and while he understands the skepticism regarding both his commitment and capacity to play both ends of the floor, he's entering the 2014-15 season intent on making us all into believers. Here's Harden discussing his defense during the Houston Rockets' Monday media session, thanks to ClutchFans: ... and here's a recap of the chatter, via Jonathan Feigen of the Houston Chronicle: "I hear [the criticism], but I don't pay attention to it," Harden said. "I know I can be a really good defender. Obviously, there's times my defense is pretty bad. There's a lot of stars whose defense is pretty bad sometimes. That category, I know I have to be better." Harden made similar comments before and after last season, but on Monday he was specific, as if he also had clicked on that video, catching himself looking the other way while his man made a back-door cut or took off on a fast break. "It's just [about] me being focused," Harden said. "It's not whether I can do it. It's me losing track of my man or small things like that that can easily be corrected. "It's not the fact that I can't do it. I'm a pretty good defender. It's me being able to focus on small things that I kind of lose track of. I know that." Good on Harden for copping to his missteps and his tendency to fall asleep during possessions; the first step, after all, is admitting that you have a problem. Next, of course, comes doing something about it, and Harden's still got a ways to go there. Consider, for example, this report on Harden's defensive work during Team USA's pre-World Cup Las Vegas training camp from for

BDL's 2014-15 NBA Season Previews: Detroit Pistons [Yahoo! Sports: Blogs: September 30, 2014, 4:06 pm]
It’s when you know you’re right, even though you want to be left. When you want to be wrong, because being wrong could bring about so many wonderful things. The 2013-14 Detroit Pistons were never going to work out. Josh Smith was never going to cut it as a small forward, Brandon Jennings was never going to kick it with that contract on a team like this, Maurice Cheeks was never going to be the sort of voice or bring the sort of vision that would put it all together. We knew this in July and August, and it played out from October until April. We were right, about this team’s potential to fail, even if we wanted to see something pretty cool out of this cadre of seemingly mismatched players. The Pistons lost that “seemingly” qualifier early in the season, incumbent big men Greg Monroe and Andre Drummond were lost in the miasma almost immediately, and Cheeks seemed helpless as the team lost five of its first seven games. Even in an Eastern Conference that was universally hailed for its awful depth beyond the top two seeds, the Pistons failed to make a dent, and Cheeks was fired after serving barely half of the first year of a three-year contract he signed with the team. Most importantly, after nearly 29-year run with the organization, a 14-year placement in the front office and 13-year stint as general manager, Joe Dumars was let go following the 2013-14 season. His latest attempts at turning the corner – after years of working through coaches, lottery picks, free agents and bum trades – failed miserably. He was ahead of the game when he started, and well behind it when he left. He was the prized asset of a franchise that struck deep in the NBA playoffs for half a decade, and its biggest millstone in the six years that followed that run. In steps another hoped-for savior in the form of Stan Van Gundy. The former Heat and Magic coach won’t act as the outright general manager, the much-respected Jeff Bower will handle that nasty work, but SVG will have the

High-flying new-look Timberwolves show off athleticism in 'Dunks After Dark' camp kickoff (Video) [Yahoo! Sports: Blogs: September 30, 2014, 3:41 pm]
Ricky Rubio entered the Minnesota Timberwolves' 2014-15 training camp looking to find out if the sky really is the limit with his new young running buddies, most notably first-round draft picks Andrew Wiggins and Zach LaVine. “I like to run and I like to throw the ball up in the air,” the effervescent Spanish point guard said during the Wolves' media day session on Monday, according to Jerry Zgoda of the Minneapolis Star-Tribune. “They’re players who can catch the ball. Hopefully, they make me look good. I haven’t seen them in real life, but I’ve seen them in video and they can jump high. So I’m going to throw the ball over the backboard and see if they can catch it.” I'm not sure you can necessarily call "Dunks After Dark" a "real life" NBA experience. But at the Wolves' camp-opening scrimmage and exhibition on the campus of Minnesota State University, Mankato, in the wee hours of Tuesday morning, Rubio — and the rest of us — got our first glimpse at how the exciting rookies look finishing the break in Timberwolves togs. The first scrimmage began by giving the fans in attendance and all those watching on NBA TV the Rubio-to-Wiggins 'oop we've been envisioning ever since the completion of blockbuster trade with the Cleveland Cavaliers that shipped out All-Star Kevin Love and imported the last two No. 1 overall picks: We also saw new Wolves power forward Thaddeus Young and incumbent swingman Corey Brewer show some hustle to spark a sharp-passing break that finished off with a flush by the skywalking LaVine: ... and a thunderous fast-break finish by a slimmer, sleeker and seemingly more explosive Shabazz Muhammad: After the scrimmages wrapped up, the Wolves capped the evening with an impromtpu end-to-end freestyle dunking display featuring some impressive work from Wiggins, LaVine, Bennett and fellow bouncy rook Glenn Robinson III, as highlighted — in slow motion, and with some very dramatic background music! — by our friends at the National

BDL's 2014-15 NBA Season Previews: Cleveland Cavaliers [Yahoo! Sports: Blogs: September 30, 2014, 3:00 pm]
Is there any precedent for the Cleveland Cavaliers' fantastically successful summer? A massively disappointing team that couldn't even make the playoffs in a terrible conference when actively trying to earn any seed parlayed their geographical location, the vagaries of narrative, and lottery luck into the best player of his generation, another perennial All-Star, and genuine contender status. Sometimes good fortune does more than all the effort in the world. As LeBron James has said many times this summer, it will take time for the Cavs to round into championship form, if only because the key members of his supporting cast have never been in a similar situation. In Miami, LeBron could rely on the championship pedigree of Dwyane Wade and, to a much lesser extent, Chris Bosh's awareness of the postseason — he was even seen as the unsteady one in the wake of his failings against the Boston Celtics. By contrast, neither Kevin Love nor Kyrie Irving have appeared in the playoffs. From one angle, David Blatt, seasoned in Europe but never an NBA coach of any kind, is even more of a question mark than boy wonder Erik Spoelstra was thought to be way back when. Add in the fact that the Heat didn't figure out the best way to use LeBron for more than a season and it's easy to see why the team would preach patience. On the other hand, those concerns figure into what level of contender the Cavs will be, not if they figure into the title mix at all. With Paul George out and Derrick Rose not yet proven as a star after another knee surgery, LeBron and Co. look like the clear favorite to represent the East in the finals. Irving is coming off a stellar World Cup for the gold medalists, Love is as sure a statistical producer as anyone in the sport, and presumably some of the ring-seekers who joined the club in the summer — James Jones, Shawn Marion, Mike Miller, and anyone who joins the team after a trade-and-buyout at the deadline — should stay healthy enough to provide a stable

Here we go again: Warriors, Magic, Rockets unveil new sleeved alternate jerseys for 2014-15 season [Yahoo! Sports: Blogs: September 30, 2014, 2:06 pm]
It's been two seasons since the NBA and apparel partner Adidas introduced short-sleeved jerseys into teams' uniform rotations, and it seems like the only thing expanding as quickly as the number of squads wearing the new duds has been the complaints about them, from writers, owners, fans and players. All the squawking — first from Stephen Curry, then from Dirk Nowitzki, and Robin Lopez, and Beno Udrih, and Jarrett Jack, and, on separate occasions, LeBron James. (I'm guessing his feelings carry a bit more weight with the decision-makers than Beno's did.) Amid all the criticism, NBA Commissioner Adam Silver said in March that the league would "revisit" the use of sleeved jerseys during the offseason, telling Bleacher Report's Howard Beck that "if the players don't like them, we'll move on to something else." That edict, combined with recent reports that the sleeved unis aren't moving units at retail sporting goods stores, seemed to provide cover for the scuttling of the effort, a brief flicker of light at the end of the arm-covered tunnel. This, however, isn't a Morrissey-and-Marr situation. Dark days have come again, in the form of three teams unveiling brand new sleeved jerseys to wear this coming season. The Golden State Warriors, who lit the candle on the sleeved alternates and went back for seconds last season, introduced a "slate" (not black!)-colored third short-sleeved kit modeled by forward Harrison Barnes "during an exclusive event attended by a variety of social media influencers" on the eve of Media Day: #DubsConfidential no longer. #Warriors & @adidas unveil new #WarriorsSlate Alternate Jersey for 2014-15 season. pic.twitter.com/m0LaYL3ZKX— Golden St. Warriors (@warriors) September 29, 2014 The Dubs say they chose "slate" (not black!) to represent "not only the technology and innovation synonymous with the Bay Area, but also the body armor for the team on the court." I'm not sure I get the "body armor" thing — you don't often read about brave and g

Erik Spoelstra almost passed up his first job with the Miami Heat for a Grateful Dead show [Yahoo! Sports: Blogs: September 30, 2014, 4:30 am]
Most introductions to Miami Heat head coach Erik Spoelstra note his impressive rise up the ranks of the organization. He took a job as a video coordinator in 2005 after spending some time in Germany, became assistant coach a few years later, and was promoted to the head coaching job after the 2007-08 season when Pat Riley retired from the sidelines. He worked his way up, proved himself at every level, and did enough to earn two championships as a head coach and one as an assistant. According to Spoelstra, though, he almost turned down his interview for his first job with the franchise. And he would have passed up that opportunity of a lifetime for a Grateful Dead show. From a new profile by Lee Jenkins of Sports Illustrated (via PBT): Beneath Spoelstra’s bold speeches is a fear of failure that was not always easy to conquer and channel. He accepted the job as head coach at Sherwood (Ore.) High but backed out a week later so he could return to Germany. He only applied for the Heat’s video coordinator position in 1995 as part of a bet with his German teammates. When a club official called with a date for an interview, Spoelstra was inclined to pass because he had tickets to a Grateful Dead concert. Even after landing the gig, he was ready to turn it down until his sister called and asked if he’d lost his mind. It's possible that this story is a little overblown, because it's somewhat common for people (particularly the anxious-minded) to hesitate momentarily when considering a great offer simply because they already have competing plans. I've certainly so before coming to my senses and realizing that it was impossible to turn down. Sometimes it takes a second to figure it out. On the other hand, if you mentioned this story to serious Deadheads then they would probably think Spoelstra made a terrible mistake. If we assume that the Portland native was set to go one of the two shows in the city on May 28 and 29, 1995, then he would have been present at one of the b

Roy Hibbert watched 'ninja movies' with Kareem Abdul-Jabbar during their instruction sessions [Yahoo! Sports: Blogs: September 30, 2014, 2:41 am]
It is no secret that Indiana Pacers center Roy Hibbert had a trying end to the 2013-14 NBA season. After earning All-Star honors and emerging Defensive Player of the Year favorite over the first few months, Hibbert sputtered after the break and into the postseason, enduring four zero-point performances in the playoffs and a lot of criticism. Hibbert entered the offseason hoping to reclaim his once lofty status and called upon Hall of Famer Kareem Abdul-Jabbar to serve as a personal instructor. Kareem, who helped Andrew Bynum during his best days with the Los Angeles Lakers, figured to help Hibbert develop post moves and increase his chances at becoming a more dependable scorer for a Pacers team in need of added firepower. All evidence indicates that he did just that. But Hibbert also said at Pacers Media Day on Monday that they watched 'ninja movies' together (via PBT): Hibbert said Kareem Abdul-Jabbar also helped him mentally. Kareem joined Roy at his home for ninja movies. Seriously.— Scott Agness (@ScottAgness) September 29, 2014 I think we can assume that Hibbert means kung fu movies in the style of Bruce Lee and similar martial artists. If that's the case, then it was a good idea for both Hibbert and Abdul-Jabbar to go in this direction, because kung fu movies are awesome. Have you seen "The 36th Chamber of Shaolin"? Come for the Wu-Tang Clan connection, stay for everything else. Or maybe KAJ had more complicated lessons to impart to his young apprentice. In the late '70s, Abdul-Jabbar took a part in the unfinished Bruce Lee vehicle "Game of Death," in which he plays a sunlight-averse fighter. Hibbert is no stranger to film and TV either, having guest-starred on NBC's "Parks and Recreation". It could be that Abdul-Jabbar wanted to teach him about the things a seven-footer can do in film. You don't have to play yourself! Of course, we can guess that Kareem wasn't much interested in telling Hibbert how to respond to critics. Otherwise he would've shown him that

The 10-man rotation, starring Jason Kidd's laughable practices [Yahoo! Sports: Blogs: September 29, 2014, 10:20 pm]
A look around the league and the web that covers it. It's also important to note that the rotation order and starting nods aren't always listed in order of importance. That's for you, dear reader, to figure out. C: The Brooklyn Game. Joe Johnson can’t hide his giggly-face when asked about the difference between Lionel Hollins and former Net coach Jason Kidd’s practice schedule: PF: New York Times. Kobe Bryant and Arianna Huffington go out for lunch, on record, and the result is shockingly self-serving and ponderous. SF: SB Nation. A look at some of the new faces in new uniforms as Media Day churns along. SG: New York Post. Derek Fisher is not Phil Jackson’s puppet, dammit. Marionette, maybe, but not a puppet. PG: NBA.com. Discussing Becky Hammon’s future with the Spurs as she enters her first year as assistant coach. 6th: Charlotte Observer. Taking a look at Charlotte’s Lance Stephenson, as he readies to enter the most important year of his career. He also “has ambitions of doing more songs.” 7th: USA Today. Thankfully, the Los Angeles Clippers seem appropriately cheery and enthused about the 2014-15 season. 8th: Boston Globe. Baxter Holmes’ fascinating feature on Marcus Smart. Read this. 9th: Wall St. Journal. Russell Westbrook discusses a whole bunch of fashionable accessories that you probably can’t afford. 10th: SB Nation. Tom Ziller talks up three head coaches on the hot seat as 2014-15 rears its head. - - - - - - - Kelly Dwyer is an editor for Ball Don't Lie on Yahoo Sports. Have a tip? Email him at KDonhoops@yahoo.com or follow him on Twitter! Follow @KDonhoops

LeBron James' much-talked-about hairline seems to be fluctuating a bit these days (Photos) [Yahoo! Sports: Blogs: September 29, 2014, 10:01 pm]
Here's a photo of LeBron James during the 2014 NBA Finals back in June: Here's a photo of LeBron James during a Nike event in Beijing, China, in July: Here's a screencap of LeBron during his interview with Rachel Nichols that aired on CNN on Friday, Sept. 26: And here are photos of LeBron participating in the Cleveland Cavaliers' first training camp practice on Saturday, Sept. 27, as captured by the Cleveland Plain Dealer: Photo of @kingjames this past weekend practicing with @dionwaiters3. Where did LBJ's new hair go? pic.twitter.com/QBht397p7b— NBA Courtside (@NBACourtside_) September 29, 2014 The photo below was taken the other day. @KingJames, we don't know what happened to your hair, just cut it off bro. pic.twitter.com/AZ9OKepgCL— ShowMeKicks (@ShowMeKicks) September 29, 2014 I guess LeBron really is serious about getting thin all over these days. Observations of and resultant jokes about LeBron's receding hairline are nothing new, of course, but there does seem to be some mischief afoot with the shifting borders of James' forehead that suggests he might be dabbling in something like the Bigen treatment, if not quite as blatantly and absurdly as Carlos Boozer did once upon a time. Far be it from me to tell LeBron how to wear his hair/paint-like hair product; I'm not exactly a stylist, as my hair/beard/mustache choices clearly proves. You might want to think about picking a path and sticking with it, though, Mr. James, if for no other reason than it'll make it easier for you to remember which gauge of headband you need to grab on any given night. One less thing to worry about, right? Hat-tip to Deadspin's Kyle Wagner. - - - - - - - Dan Devine is an editor for Ball Don't Lie on Yahoo Sports. Have a tip? Email him at devine@yahoo-inc.com or follow him on Twitter! Follow @YourManDevine Stay connected with Ball Don't Lie on Twitter @YahooBDL, "Like" BDL on Facebook and follow BDL's Tumblr for year-round NBA talk, jokes and more.

Thunder center Steven Adams grew a mustache just for his media guide picture (Photo) [Yahoo! Sports: Blogs: September 29, 2014, 8:58 pm]
Here is what Oklahoma City Thunder center Steven Adams looked like in mid-August: Here is what the rising sophomore bruiser looks like now, as captured at Thunder Media Day on Monday afternoon: Hmmm. Something's different. Can't quite put my finger on what, though. Maybe if I take a closer look. Oh, right — the mustache. Pretty impressively '70sy, Mr. Adams. Very "Orange is the New Black," too, which is a bonus. So to what do we owe the pleasure, Steven? And can we count on you hanging onto the flavor-saver throughout each of OKC's many high-definition, nationally televised tilts this season? Adams says the mustache is just for the media guide picture: "So that when someone opens up the book, stache."— Royce Young (@royceyoung) September 29, 2014 On one hand, it's a bummer that Adams won't be keeping his lipwarmer around for the duration of the 2014-15 season. On the other, it's pretty flippin' fantastic that he grew one in the first place for the express purpose of giving anyone who looks at the Thunder media guide a smile. It's like the old proverb says: "Don't cry because the mustache is over. Smile because the mustache happened." It's also worth giving (theoretical) credit where it's (probably not) due. In this case, that means dapping up Royce Young of Daily Thunder: Also, I maintain Steven Adams needs to grow a Selleck-esque mustache. Just 'cause.— Royce Young (@royceyoung) January 18, 2014 Way to "The Secret" this one into the world, Royce. Bravo. With that in place, then, I guess there's just one thing left to do: Compare Steven Adams' mustache to my own, as I did with Kevin Love lo those many moons ago. So, 'stache-wise, who ya got? The first-round draftee likely to become the starting center on a title contender before too long? Or the hardscrabble, livin'-by-his-wits underdog from the mean streets of a nice neighborhood in Brooklyn? Let us know in the comments, and also, please, please pick me. - - - - - - - Dan Devine is an editor for Ball Don'

BDL's 2014-15 NBA Season Previews: Toronto Raptors [Yahoo! Sports: Blogs: September 29, 2014, 8:51 pm]
The Toronto Raptors weren’t supposed to win last season. They weren’t designed to fail, but they weren’t far off. In fairness they weren’t designed at all by general manager Masai Uriri, who was lured from Denver after the 2012-13 season concluded to replace former GM Bryan Colangelo. Working without a first round draft pick and much trade leverage, Ujiri still managed to dump Andrea Bargnani and his contract on the New York Knicks for a cadre of draft picks, but by and large his Raptors looked very much like the squad Colangelo had put together in hopes of making the playoffs the year before. Search any 2013-14 season preview roundup, though, and you’ll find Toronto’s name listed squarely amongst those that were expected to more or less sit out the season during the NBA’s Great Tanking Scourge of the Long Winter. The Raps may have featured a playoff-level payroll, nearly dishing out the luxury tax last year, but Toronto was supposed to battle with the 76ers, Celtics and Magic in the race for more and more ping-pong balls in the draft lottery. Rudy Gay’s value was at an all-time low, and he would be later dealt for a series of rotation parts that didn’t even provide immediate salary cap relief. Coach Dwane Casey was in the final year of a contract that Ujiri didn’t sign him to. Guard Kyle Lowry, the reason for that missed draft pick in 2013, was coming off of a year full of grousing and expected to be dealt to his third team in three years midseason. DeMar DeRozan, even at just 24 years of age, appeared to be working on a plateau. Then, the team just stopped losing. Stuck at 7-13 two days after the Rudy Gay deal, Casey and Lowry led the Raptors to a 41-21 finish, showcasing sound instincts on both ends of the floor in spite of some dodgy late-game play. Toronto not only made the playoffs, it won the second Atlantic Division title in the franchise’s history. It probably should have made the second-round, too, had Kyle Lowry’s much-rued potenti

BDL's 2014-15 NBA Season Previews: Chicago Bulls [Yahoo! Sports: Blogs: September 29, 2014, 8:12 pm]
Every year, as the injuries pile up, Tom Thibodeau invokes the mantra: "We have enough to win." This time, that might actually be true. After grinding out a first-round win before a gentleman's sweep in Round 2 without their leader, the Chicago Bulls entered the 2013-14 season hoping for a return to prominence helmed by Derrick Rose, finally healthy following his April 2012 left ACL tear. Just 10 games later, though, Rose was back on the shelf after tearing the meniscus in his right knee, and Thibodeau was back to scratching out wins one stop at a time. The Bulls did, of course, because that's what they do. They play five-men-on-a-string defense, smothering pick-and-rolls and making you do things you don't want to do. They finished second in the league in defensive efficiency, allowing a miserly 97.8 points per 100 possessions, despite trading away longtime talisman Luol Deng midseason, and despite playing Carlos Boozer and D.J. Augustin for nearly 4,000 combined minutes. That happened because the Bulls employ Joakim Noah, the Defensive Player of the Year, and Taj Gibson, whom some thought defended even better than Noah, and Jimmy Butler, who's become a premier wing stopper. And, of course, because of Thibodeau, whose strong-side overload zone is the gold standard of NBA defense, and whose coaching has coaxed career-best work out of many lightly regarded defenders. Without Rose to run the offense, Chicago relied heavily on Noah as a high-post initiator. He responded by averaging a team-high 5.4 assists per game, by leading all NBA bigs with 12.3 points created via assist per game, and by becoming just the fifth player 6-foot-10 or taller to assist on more than a quarter of his teammates' baskets, according to Basketball-Reference.com. Whether picking out cutters or running the break, Noah helped conjure enough points to win 48 games; combined with his stellar defense, it was enough to earn him a fourth-place finish in MVP voting. It wasn't, however, enough to g

Minnesota Timberwolves hire ex-Lakers guard Mike Penberthy as Ricky Rubio's shooting coach [Yahoo! Sports: Blogs: September 27, 2014, 2:42 am]
NBA fans know three things about Minnesota Timberwolves point guard Ricky Rubio. Two are good, one is bad. The good ones are that he has amazing court vision and strong skills as a defender. The bad is that he can't shoot at all. In his three seasons with the Wolves, Rubio has shot only 36.8 percent from the field (topping out at 38.1 percent last year) and 32.3 percent from beyond the arc (with a high of 34 percent as a rookie). Defenses don't really have to respect his jumper, and that makes him a tough player to build around despite his considerable gifts as a facilitator. With Kevin Love now in Cleveland, Minnesota is counting on Rubio to serve as the team's leader. To help him become more of a scoring threat, they have hired one-time NBA guard Mike Penberthy to help as a shooting coach. Jerry Zgoda of the Star Tribune has more information: The Timberwolves today made it official, with training camp now just five days away: They have hired L.A.-based Mike Penberthy as a shooting coach to work with [the] team, particularly Ricky Rubio, who has struggled in that area in recent years. A former Laker who played 56 NBA games more than a decade [ago], Penberthy worked with Rubio, Chase Budinger and others over the summer. He will move back and forth from his Los Angeles-area home to work with players. "I don't even want to pigeon-hole him as a shooting coach because i think there are other things he'll be able to help us with," Wolves coach/president Flip Saunders said. "That will be his main emphasis. Ricky enjoyed working with him, even though it was only for a week. I think if Ricky had a chance to spend a month with him or six weeks, I believe we could have seen some good changes. We'll let his role evolve. It's important for him to see how we want to play and where guys are going to get shots and how he can incorporate that into our shooting." The team's press release presents Penberthy as a coach in player development, so it's not as if he's expected to work sol

Charlotte Hornets bar Jeff Taylor from team activities following domestic violence charge [Yahoo! Sports: Blogs: September 27, 2014, 12:03 am]
The NBA has clearly learned something from the NFL's recent issues regarding the proper way to handle charges and allegations of domestic violence. Charlotte Hornets forward Jeff Taylor was arrested early Thursday morning in East Lansing, Mich., and charged with domestic assault, assault, and malicious destruction of property. With training camp set to begin early next week, the franchise wasted little time in deciding to keep Taylor off the court and away from team activities. Steve Reed of the Associated Press has the report: Hornets forward Jeffery Taylor will not be participating in any team-related activities during an NBA investigation into his arrest on domestic assault charges, the team announced Friday. ''As an organization, we understand and appreciate the seriousness of this matter, and will assist the NBA and law enforcement in any way we can until this comes to an acceptable resolution,'' the Hornets said in a statement Friday. ''We have spoken with Jeffery and his representatives and they fully understand our position.'' NBA spokesman Mike Bass said that the league supports ''the Charlotte Hornets' decision to separate Jeffery Taylor from the team during the investigation.'' [...] The Hornets open the preseason on Oct. 8 in Philadelphia, the same day Taylor has a pre-trial court date at East Lansing District Court. It's worth noting that this announcement only concerns an ongoing NBA investigation, not legal proceedings. We don't yet know how long the league's investigation will take, so it is perhaps best to consider Taylor's time away from the Hornets as indefinite until more information is known. For now, it appears to be the case that he will not be with the team until at least that Oct. 8 court date. What is clear, though, is that the NBA and its teams do not want to repeat the mistakes of the NFL over the past weeks and months. While the NFL's insufficient response to the Ray Rice case has garnered the most attention, the league has had several o

The 10-man rotation, starring how Erik Spoelstra will go about plugging the biggest hole ever [Yahoo! Sports: Blogs: September 26, 2014, 11:00 pm]
A look around the league and the Web that covers it. It's also important to note that the rotation order and starting nods aren't always listed in order of importance. That's for you, dear reader, to figure out. C: Sports Illustrated. Lee Jenkins hits another moonshot, this time detailing Erik Spoelstra's rise from "The Dungeon" to the highest points of NBA success, the fear of failure that drives him, and the process he'll take to rebuild the Miami Heat after losing LeBron James in free agency. Phenomenal detail and openness from Spoelstra. PF: ESPN.com. Brian Windhorst on what the return of an "all-business" version of LeBron means for his new teammates and the rest of the Cleveland Cavaliers organization: "He is going to live up to his end of the bargain. If anyone with the Cavs doesn't live up to theirs, and that starts with owner Dan Gilbert and goes right down to the ball boys, James is not going to let them get away with it." SF: Variety. In less serious LeBron news, you'll be able to watch the first two episodes of his new Starz sitcom, "Survivor's Remorse," for free on a few different platforms this weekend, if you just can't wait until the series' broadcast premiere on Oct. 4. SG: Bleacher Report. Howard Beck on how the NBA's "no conviction, no suspension" punishment policy on domestic violence cases represents a no-longer-acceptable "stance that has left the league looking passive and ineffectual." PG: Talking Points. Extended comments from Steve Kerr on how the Golden State Warriors' offense might look, the importance of taking advantage of Andrew Bogut's playmaking skills, Stephen Curry's defense and much more. 6th: Atlanta Journal-Constitution. Atlanta Hawks head coach — and, now, general manager — Mike Budenholzer on where his team slots into the shuffled-up, post-LeBron-back-to-Cleveland conference hierarchy: "I think there are fans out there that know more about the East than I do. Hopefully I know more about the Hawks than they do." 7th: Eye on

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