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    DraftKings-FanDuel merger temporarily halted by FTC

    The Federal Trade Commission, with the support of the attorneys general of the state of California and the District of Columbia, has moved to file a suit which would stop a proposed merger between daily fantasy sports firms DraftKings and FanDuel. The merger would consolidate 90% of the daily fantasy sports market in the United States. “This merger would deprive customers of the substantial benefits of direct competition between DraftKings and FanDuel,” said Tad Lipsky, acting director of the commission’s competition bureau. Meanwhile, in a joint statement by DraftKings CEO Jason Robins and FanDuel CEO Nigel Eccles, they said, “We are disappointed by this decision and continue to believe that a merger is in the best interests of our players, our companies, our employees and the fantasy sports industry.”

    In the daily fantasy sports industry, customers pay a fee to select a lineup of professional athletes in an effort to win prizes based on the selected athletes’ on field performance. DraftKings, the top revenue earning company, and FanDuel, the most popular alternative, compete with each other to offer better prices, larger prizes and more variety of contests, according to the Federal Trade Commission. This deal was also postponed by the Federal Trade Commission because they felt the remaining 10% of the industry was unable to provide a meaningful substitute to the proposed DraftKings-FanDuel merger.

    This is the latest in a string of legal battles the two companies have had to face. In the past, state attorneys general tried to limit the industry’s influence, believing them to be of equal standing with illegal sports betting operations. Over a dozen states have adopted new laws and regulations targeting the daily fantasy sports industry, and the two companies began thinking of merging in an effort to reduce legal costs.

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    Celtics agree to trade #1 pick to 76ers

    The Boston Celtics and the Philadelphia 76ers agreed to a huge trade ahead of the NBA Draft, scheduled to take place on Thursday, June 22. In the trade, the Celtics agreed to send the first overall pick in this year’s NBA Draft, while the 76ers will send their third overall pick this year plus a 2018 conditional first round pick. Specifically, the 76ers will be able to send a first round pick dependent on the Los Angeles Lakers finishing between 2nd and 5th place in the 2018 draft. If that condition is not met, then the 76ers would send their 2019 first round pick acquired from the Sacramento Kings instead.

    The 76ers seem to be eager to select University of Washington guard Markelle Fultz, who is considered by most NBA draft analysts as the top prospect available in this year’s crop of candidates. Fultz had already worked out for the 76ers on Saturday, which sparked public speculation about talks of a trade between Philadelphia and Boston. The 76ers also tried to get Fultz comfortable with the youth-oriented atmosphere of the team, inviting Ben Simmons, Joel Embiid and Robert Covington to bid a welcome to Fultz.

    As for Fultz, he’s keeping an open mind and not taking for granted that Philadelphia will indeed select him. “I let God take care of it… I don’t really pay attention to everything that’s going on… Whatever happens, I’m looking forward to taking my talents to wherever I go,” he said. Fultz was still on the junior varsity team of his high school in 2014, just three years ago. Since then, he developed into a 6 foot 4 inch guard who was able to average 23 points, 5 rebounds and 5 assists during his freshman season at Washington; he finished as the top freshman scorer in all of college basketball, with similar numbers to current Golden State Warriors superstar Kevin Durant when he spent a season with the University of Texas.

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    Holly Holm knocks out Bethe Correia at UFC Fight Night 111

    Former UFC women’s bantamweight champion Holly Holm managed a late head-kick knockout in Friday’s UFC Fight Night 111 headlining match against Bethe Correia. That knockout after long stretches of avoidance by Holm, and she later said that was her plan going into the match, recognizing that the Singapore crowd would boo her for the initial strategy. Even referee Marc Goddard had to warn both fighters for inaction at the end of the first round. The strategy eventually paid off when Correia began taunting Holm in the third round, impatiently asking for a response. Holm found her moment and launched a match-ending kick, allowing her to clinch her first victory since the biggest upset of 2015, when she knocked out reigning champion and UFC superstar Ronda Rousey.

    “If I was training to fight me, I’d be like, ‘OK, she has a left kick. Let’s watch out for it.’ It’s one of those things, just that competitive side of me that thinks, ‘You know it’s coming, but I still want to hit you with it,’” Holm said when talking about her mindset going into the match. Between the Rousey bout of 2015 and the defeat of Correia, Holm had lost three straight fights, including a defense of the women’s bantamweight title and an opportunity to clinch the inaugural women’s featherweight title. As Holm put it, she needed to keep reminding herself why she got into fighting in the first place to keep her motivated: “I started fighting because I love it and I’m passionate about it, and that was the reminder here. I’m going to be me. I’m the one who’s getting in there and fighting, anyway.” After the victory, she was joyful, and joked when asked about what’s coming up in her schedule, “I see a beer and some French fries.”

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    Golden State Warriors hold championship parade through Oakland

    The Golden State Warriors celebrated their second NBA championship in the past three years with a parade through the downtown area of Oakland, California on Thursday. Stephen Curry was the holder of the Larry O’Brien trophy, and was flanked by his wife and children. Curry also got off the bus and gave high-fives to the parade spectators at various points during the procession. Meanwhile, Finals MVP Kevin Durant was with his mom on a separate bus. Draymond Green, meanwhile, was spotted in a golf cart during the parade, one Twitter photo even catching him getting the cart in mid-air. At the ending ceremony, Green called out his friend, Cleveland Cavalier LeBron James, for claiming that he never played for a super team. Green was also notably wearing a shirt that said “Quickie”, referencing the quick dispatch of the Cavaliers in the finals at Cleveland’s Quicken Loans Arena.

    Warriors head coach Steve Kerr expressed his pride in the team that “came back from the heartbreak of last year”, and also was in a joking mood, saying about the size of the spectator crowd, “I was expecting more.” The Warriors blew a 3-1 lead in last year’s finals to the Cleveland Cavaliers.

    The parade also comes at a precarious time for Oakland sports fans. News came in recently that the Oakland Raiders of the NFL is beginning preparations to move to Las Vegas, Nevada by 2020. Additionally, the Warriors themselves are moving to a new arena across the Bay in San Francisco; the arena is slated to open by 2019. Because of the juxtaposed moves, at least one Oakland resident called the parade “a bittersweet moment”, although he said he would still be a Warriors fan, reasoning, “No matter where they go, it’s still in the Golden State.”

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    Mayweather-McGregor match made official, scheduled August 26

    The months of speculation are finally at an end, as it has become confirmed that former world boxing champion Floyd Mayweather will come out of retirement to face UFC superstar Conor McGregor in a boxing match on August 26. According to UFC president Dana White, who has been pushing for this fight for a long time, said that the match would take place at the junior middleweight level, which tops out at 154 pounds. “We’ve been in negotiations for a while… Floyd is surrounded by some spart people, and we got this thing done. The impossible deal is now done,” White said on an appearance with SportsCenter. The fight will air over pay per view by way of Showtime. Mayweather’s last huge match, a bout against Manny Pacquiao, earned him $250 million, and he hopes to get close to that number with this spectacle.

    Murmurs of the fight began in July 2015, when McGregor said that he was ready to box with Mayweather if the opportunity ever arose. Speculation increased when he successfully applied for a boxing license in California in November, followed by applying for one in Nevada in May. McGregor has never fought in a professional boxing match, and this will be his debut in the sport after earning titles in two different divisions in the sport of mixed martial arts. Mayweather, meanwhile, comes in undefeated with 49 straight wins since his debut, 26 of those achieved by knockout. Mayweather has not fought since beating Andre Berto in September 2015, but the 40-year-old has stayed fit and is expected to be physically ready for the fight with McGregor. Because of the vast difference in boxing experience, Mayweather’s odds opened at -1100 and McGregor’s at +700, according to Las Vegas’ Westgate SuperBook. McGregor is known for being brash, and he addressed his long odds in an encounter with boxing media in March, saying, “I’m going to step in there and shock the whole goddamn world.”

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    Golden State Warriors win 2017 NBA Finals

    The Golden State Warriors wrapped up their second NBA championship in the last three years with a Game 5 129-120 victory over the Cleveland Cavaliers on Monday night. The victory was achieved on the back of superstars Kevin Durant and Stephen Curry yet again, forming an unstoppable force for the Cavaliers’ defense. In the aftermath of the victory, a new debate was held over the validity of Durant’s move to the Warriors last offseason. While many fans are fine with Golden State’s desire to become even better and Durant’s desire to win a championship by leaving the Oklahoma City Thunder, there is a sizable portion that are still annoyed that a super team can be formed and essentially guarantee its own spot in the finals before the season even starts; the grand majority of experts predicted the Curry-Durant Warriors to make the finals before they even played one game together.

    On the losing side, Cleveland fans reflect on small missed opportunities during this Finals, such as not being able to stop the Warriors in a dominating Game 1 that set the tone, as well as giving up a lead at home in Game 3. After a surprise Game 4 victory, Cleveland did its best to keep up on Monday night, getting as close as a five-point deficit in the second half before the Warriors began pulling away.

    Looking ahead, NBA fans are hesitantly expecting a fourth consecutive Warriors-Cavaliers final in 2018. The Cavaliers and Warriors are already favorites to come out of their respective conferences. This is particularly worrisome to more loyal fans of teams not in Cleveland or San Francisco, who would hope that parity one day returns to the NBA. That being said, some have expressed their satisfaction with the current state of the league. For example, Boston Celtics general manager Danny Ainge said, “I like having targets in Cleveland and Golden State. I like trying to meet their standards.”

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    Pittsburgh Penguins win second straight Stanley Cup

    The Pittsburgh Penguins defeated the Nashville Predators, scoring two goals while keeping their opponent scoreless in Game 6. This earned the Penguins their second consecutive Stanley Cup championship, making them the first team to win the title in back-to-back seasons since the 1997 and 1998 Detroit Red Wings. Additionally, this just adds to the Penguins’ dominance of the National Hockey League in the last ten years: they’ve won three Stanley Cups in that time span and made five conference finals. Game 6 was a star-making performance by Pittsburgh goalie Matt Murray, who made 27 saves in his effort to keep the Predators off the scoreboard.

    After the game, Penguins head coach Mike Sullivan said on how he kept the team hungry for a second title, “We push them hard. It’s not always warm and fuzzy.” Of course, praise could not come without acknowledging the core of superstars Sidney Crosby and Evgeni Malkin, who combined for 18 goals and 55 points this postseason. “I think they are appreciative of one another. At least that’s my observation,” Sullivan commented. Penguins general manager Jim Rutherford was even more effusive, saying that, “Our team is led by the greatest player in the game.” Rutherford played in the era of Gordie Howe and Bobby Orr, but he believes that Crosby, who has been on the team for Pittsburgh’s three Stanley Cups in the last decade, deserves to be in the discussion for best hockey player of all time.

    When Crosby was asked about what keeps him in the game, he said in the euphoria of holding the Stanley Cup, “This feeling right now. You can’t match that.” As for defenseman Ian Cole, he attributed the team’s success to confidence, saying that “it was something that no one on the team gave up.” Crosby and Malkin are signed long term, so they are early favorites to make it a three-peat.

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    Butler coach Chris Holtmann hired by Ohio State

    Butler University head coach Chris Holtmann has been hired as the new coach of the Ohio State University basketball team. This comes after the recent firing of long-time head coach Thad Matta, who was struggling with foot issues and missed the NCAA Tournament two years in a row to end his career with the university. Holtmann has reportedly agreed to a massive eight year, $24 million contract, which will immediately put pressure on the new coach to succeed. Candidates to replace Holtmann at Butler include current assistants Ryan Pedon and Terry Johnson, as well as Milwaukee head coach LaVall Jordan and Winthrop head coach Pat Kelsey.

    Holtmann definitely has the pedigree to warrant this, reaching the NCAA Tournament in three consecutive seasons with the Butler squad in an admittedly weaker-than-historically speaking Big East Conference. Last year, he got the team to the Sweet 16 before losing to eventual tournament champions, University of North Carolina. However, he is going to face some challenges, such as moving from a university whose biggest focus is college basketball to one whose focus is on the football program. As a result, Ohio State has struggled in the past couple of years in recruiting top-level talent. Ohio State higher-ups hope Holtmann can use his knowledge of Midwest recruitment to get this team back on the map. Ohio State is also depending on Holtmann’s strengths in player development, as he managed to make Butler successful without signing a player who was rated five stars coming out of high school. Right now, Ohio State only has one top-100 recruit in the incoming class, so Holtmann will be asked to work magic.

    Ohio State fans are hopeful that Holtmann can handle the pressure. He already went through several traumatic experiences, including the death of two players, as well as the eight-month-old son of one of his assistants.

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    Former NFL WR James Hardy found dead at 31

    The Allen County Coroner’s Office in Indiana on Thursday identified a corpse found in the Maumee River as that of former Buffalo Bills wide receiver James Hardy. The 31-year-old’s body was found lodged in a dam in the river at around 2:30 PM on Wednesday afternoon. The Bills expressed their condolences to the Hardy family over Twitter after the news came out.

    The cause of death has yet to be officially determined, but it was reported that Hardy’s mother reported him missing on May 30, indicating that there may have been mental health issues that contributed to Hardy’s passing. In 2008, Hardy pulled a gun during an argument with his father, although charges were never filed in that incident. Another piece of evidence was a situation in 2014 where he was arrested for resisting arrest, but was later ruled not mentally competent to stand trial. Keith Edmonds, Hardy’s basketball coach in high school, said that Hardy reached out to him two weeks ago to arrange a meeting, although those plans fell through. “I didn’t realize those things were starting to happen with him being in a different mindset as far as where his life was,” Edmonds said.

    Hardy played for the Bills in the 2008 and 2009 NFL seasons. He was a relatively high draft pick, selected in the second round of the 2008 NFL Draft after recording 191 receptions for 2,740 yards and 36 touchdowns at Indiana University, leading the Big Ten Conference in receiving touchdowns in his final two seasons. Hardy became a leader of the team in his senior year, especially when the team got to the 2007 Insight Bowl, breaking a long postseason drought for the university, despite the recent death of coach Terry Hoeppner. He was also well regarded as a prospect for his athleticism, especially when taking into account his 6 foot 6 inch stature and his experience as a player for Indiana University’s basketball team.

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    Warriors inch closer to NBA championship with Game 3 win

    The Golden State Warriors continued their march toward a perfect postseason, defeating the Cleveland Cavaliers 118 to 113 in Game 3 of the NBA Finals, giving them a 3-0 advantage in the series and one game away from one of the most dominant seasons in NBA history. Cleveland had a brief lead in the fourth quarter, but the Warriors put them away with an 11-0 run in the final three minutes of the game. Even so, the Warriors only had a three point lead with ten seconds to go when Warrior Andre Iguodala stripped Cavaliers superstar LeBron James, and James proceeded to accidentally knock the loose ball out of bounds, automatically giving possession away to Golden State and effectively sealing the final result. In the Warriors box score, Kevin Durant scored at least 30 points for the third consecutive game, while Stephen Curry contributed with 26 points of his own. Klay Thompson, the shooter who had been fighting through a slump this postseason, broke out with 31 points, most of which came from outside the three point arc.

    The Cavaliers stars did their best to keep up with the high-powered Golden State offense again, with 39 points by James and 38 points from point guard Kyrie Irving, but it just wasn’t enough. After the game, James already began talking as if the Warriors had won the series by reflecting on their impressiveness throughout the season: “I said it after we won the Eastern Conference finals that we’re getting ready for a juggernaut. It’s probably the most, more firepower I’ve played [against] in my career. I’ve played against some great teams, but I don’t think no team has had this firepower.” This is interesting, considering that James played the Warriors last season in what some would consider an even more daunting task, given that the 2016 Warriors were coming in with a record 73 wins.