At what was termed “The Battle of Brisbane”, Australian boxer and local guy Jeff “The Hornet” Horn shocked the world by defeating legendary Filipino boxer Manny Pacquiao. Horn, despite much controversy, survived nine rounds of beating to win the world welterweight title in a unanimous decision on Sunday. Judge Waleska Roldan scored the fight 117-111 in favor of Horn, while Chris Flores and Ramon Cerdan gave a closer 115-113 score in favor of Horn. ESPN, the exclusive television carrier of the bout in the United States, scored the fight 117-111 in favor of Pacquiao, while long time analyst Teddy Atlas scored the fight 116-111 in favor of Pacquiao. Statistics also favored Pacquiao, as CompuBox credited Pacquiao with 182 landed punches and Horn with just 92, despite both throwing a similar amount of punches.
Pacquiao has been through controversial decisions such as this one before, particularly in a 2012 split decision loss to Timothy Bradley Jr. which also cost him the world welterweight title. After the fight against Horn, Pacquiao kept from criticizing the result, saying, “That’s the decision of the judges, I respect that.” Pacquiao’s trainer Freddie Roach supported Pacquiao’s view of the situation when he said, “I did think Manny won, but Jeff Horn showed a lot of heart. He is a big, strong fighter, and I congratulate him.” Pacquiao has a rematch clause in his contract for this bout, and he is expected to call for a rematch against Horn soon.
As for Horn, even he at first seemed surprised at the result. Horn is a 29-year-old former Olympian and school teacher with much less experience than Pacquiao in professional boxing. “I don’t know. I guess with the crowd behind me and all the support… I’ve just believed since I was young that I could do this,” Horn later told someone who asked how he was able to outlast Pacquiao.- Advertisement -
The Houston Rockets have made perhaps the biggest splash in the NBA offseason so far, trading for the Los Angeles Clippers’ Chris Paul. The 32-year-old, a perennial All-Star at point guard, opted in to the final year of his contract in order to avoid free agency and allow the Clippers to get some assets in the process. Paul reportedly agreed to this because of his long time desire to play with Rockets superstar James Harden. In order to get Paul and make space financially, the Rockets will send seven players plus a 2018 first round pick. The bevy of players received by Los Angeles include guards Patrick Beverley and Lou Williams, as well as forwards Sam Dekker and Montrezl Harrell.
Paul has made the All-Star team nine times, and has also been named to nine All-Defense teams in his career. In his career, Paul averages 18.7 points, 9.9 assists and 2.3 steals per game. While he’s accomplished. Harden has been even more dominant in his Rockets tenure. Since 2013, when he joined Houston, he has averaged 27.4 points, 7.6 assists and 1.7 steals per game. Now, Houston has two accomplished high-scoring point guards on their roster, with Paul being able to bring defensive ability that Harden is not known for.
Critics are wary of how Paul will mesh with the young Houston core, as he was not known for being a warm personality with the Clippers. Reports infrequently leaked out talking about Paul alienating younger stars Blake Griffin and DeAndre Jordan in the past.
The Rockets don’t sound finished quite yet, as ESPN reports that the Rockets are also going to make a push to acquire either Indiana Pacers star Paul George or New York Knicks player Carmelo Anthony. George has expressed his desire to play for the Los Angeles Lakers, which makes that a monkey wrench in the situation. Meanwhile, Anthony has a no-trade clause and would reportedly waive it only in the absolutely most favorable circumstances.- Advertisement -
The NBA has released his All-Rookie team, and the first team was headlined by Philadelphia 76ers forward/center Joel Embiid. The 22-year-old was selected with the third overall pick in the 2014 NBA draft, but didn’t step on the court for the first two seasons of his career due to nagging injuries in his right foot, which meant that 2016-17 could technically be considered his rookie year. This season, Embiid exploded for 20.2 points per game and 7.8 rebounds per game in 31 games, even garnering Rookie of the Year conversation before having his season cut short due to a knee injury. In any case, Embiid did enough in his shortened time to earn a first-team nod.
Embiid earned 82 of the 100 potential first team votes. Only two players received unanimous first team honors: 76ers forward Dario Saric and Milwaukee Bucks guard Malcolm Brogdon. Saric was second in scoring among rookies, finishing the year with 12.8 points per game and 6.3 rebounds per game. Saric and Embiid are actually the first group of teammates to make the first team of the All-Rookie team since Kevin Durant and Jeff Green of the 2007-08 Seattle SuperSonics. Meanwhile, Brogdon far outperformed his second round status and led rookies in assists and steals, in addition to finishing second among rookies in free throw percentage. He also became the first ever Milwaukee Buck in franchise history to score a triple double in their rookie season.
The first team was rounded out by Sacramento Kings guard Buddy Hield and New York Knicks center Willy Hernangomez. Hield had a rocky season early, getting traded by the team that drafted him, the New Orleans Pelicans, as part of a deal to move superstar Demarcus Cousins. But Hield performed decently for Sacramento, averaging 15.1 points per game since the trade. Hernangomez actually led rookies in field goal percentage, with 52.9%.- Advertisement -
In an interview promoting his new memoir, But Seriously, former tennis superstar John McEnroe made a somewhat controversial statement, claiming that current superstar Serena Williams would be “like number 700 in the world” if she played in the men’s circuit. McEnroe recognized that Williams is the greatest female tennis player of all time and that her mental game is strong, but “if she had to just play the circuit, the men’s circuit, that would be an entirely different story.” He seemed to backtrack on that later in the interview, saying, “I just haven’t seen it in any other sport, and I haven’t seen it in tennis. I suppose anything’s possible at some stage.” Williams turns 36 in September and has 23 singles Grand Slams, one short of the record set by Margaret Court. She also owns 14 Grand Slams in doubles play, as well as four total gold medals in the Olympics.
McEnroe is famous in sports circles for his fiery demeanor on the court during his 1970s and 1980s playing career. But in the memoir, he talks about his life off the court, including his struggles with finding a calling outside of tennis. For example, at one point he aspired to become a guitarist for the band of his wife, New Wave/rock singer Patty Smyth. Smyth apparently responded, “I want to play mixed doubles with you at Wimbledon.” When McEnroe replied that Smyth doesn’t play tennis, she curtly responded, “Exactly.”
During promotion of his memoir, he has also given his takes on the current state of American tennis. McEnroe believes that the cost of playing, including membership to clubs and complexes that have tennis courts, has gotten too high, keeping the scene from growing. He also believes that the game has become more athletic, but that American athletes tend to pursue football or basketball, which is why the country has fallen behind internationally.- Advertisement -
The NBA Draft took place on Thursday night with few surprises at the top of the first round, but several interesting trades going on before the draft and in the middle of the first round. The top pick was owned by the Philadelphia 76ers, who acquired the selection in a pre-draft trade with the Boston Celtics. The 76ers selected Markelle Fultz out of the University of Washington, who was regarded by most as the top prospect in the draft and is expected to immediately start for Philadelphia. With the second pick, the Los Angeles Lakers also went chalk and took Lonzo Ball out of UCLA. Ball’s father LaVar was vocal before the draft in making clear that the Ball family preferred Los Angeles over Philadelphia, so this turned out beneficial for both sides. The Lakers also made the final selection of the first round, taking Villanova star Josh Hart, which was praised by NBA analysts as a steal.
The big mid-draft trade happened when the Chicago Bulls sent Jimmy Butler and the 16th overall pick to the Minnesota Timberwolves in exchange for Kris Dunn, Zack LaVine and the 7th overall pick. Minnesota is considered by most as the winner of the trade, especially considering that Butler, an Eastern Conference All-Star, is a huge veteran addition to a strong youth-oriented core, led by Karl-Anthony Towns and Andrew Wiggins. The Bulls, meanwhile, acquired two players that have underachieved compared to the flashes of potential they showed in college. The trade did help them to move up to select Lauri Markkanen, who is considered a high-ceiling project player.
Another headscratcher to come out from the NBA Draft was the work of the Portland Trail Blazers, who came into the draft with three first round picks, but came out after a trade with Zach Collins and Caleb Swanigan, who are both centers. Especially when considering the Trail Blazers already had two solid centers on their roster, in Jusuf Nurkic and Meyers Leonard, some NBA analysts felt they should’ve focused on more pressing needs.
Veteran goaltender Marc-Andre Fleury was the biggest name selected in the NHL Expansion Draft for the newly founded Vegas Golden Knights franchise. The draft results were announced during the 2017 NHL Awards ceremony on Wednesday night, on the 14th anniversary of the Pittsburgh Penguins selecting Fleury with the first overall pick of the draft. After a huge applause accompanied the announcement of Fleury’s arrival to Las Vegas, he commented, “I didn’t know that was coming. I was a little surprised by that. That was a warm welcome, and I’m getting excited about it.” As for him being the highest profile player on the new team, he says, “I’m not looking to be the face of much. I’m just trying to come and play hockey.”
Fleury was the goaltender for the Penguins who have won the last two Stanley Cup championships, and Penguins star Sidney Crosby gave a high recommendation for his now-former teammate: “He’s going to be so important for their team with his experience and the kind of person he is. You couldn’t have a better guy.”
The next biggest name announced in the expansion draft was veteran forward James Neal, who’s coming off scoring 41 points for the Nashville Predators in the regular season and helping them reach the Stanley Cup Finals, where they would fall to the Penguins. Neal went to Twitter to celebrate the Nashville fans and express his excitement to begin “a new chapter in my career and an amazing opportunity to start something special”.
In this expansion draft, the Golden Knights were required to select at least one player from every NHL team, with at least 14 forwards, nine defenders and three goaltenders in their inaugural roster composition. Vegas had about 673 players to choose from based on the players each NHL team exposed.
The wife of Chicago Cubs infielder Addison Russell has filed for divorce after 18 months of marriage, but will not cooperate with Major League Baseball’s investigation into domestic abuse allegations against Russell. MLB began investigating earlier in June when Melisa Russell accused her husband of cheating in an Instagram post and a friend commented about potential physical and mental abuse by Addison. The post has since been deleted. According to a statement released by the law firm representing Melisa, “It is her desire to pursue a resolution that is, first and foremost, in the best interest of the parties’ son, and which occurs in a swift, amicable and private fashion.” Melisa is seeking full custody of a son and child support.
Addison denies all allegations, calling them “false and hurtful” two weeks ago. He is fighting these allegations, as Major League Baseball has strict policies in place to punish those accused of domestic violence. For example, New York Yankees closer Aroldis Chapman was suspended for 30 games under the policy last year. Other players that have been slapped with suspensions under the domestic violence policy include New York Mets closer Jeurys Familia, Mets infielder Jose Reyes and Atlanta Braves outfielder Hector Olivera. In 2015, a change was made where the commissioner of baseball is allowed to dictate punishment even if law enforcement does not.
Currently, after the Cubs suspended Russell for one game, he was allowed to continue playing regularly. The investigation will continue regardless of Melisa’s involvement, and there is precedent for punishment being handed down without the other partner cooperating, such as in the cases of Reyes and Familia, whose partners both dropped charges. MLB is also busy in investigating claims of domestic abuse by an ex-girlfriend leveled against Tampa Bay Rays catcher Derek Norris.
The Cleveland Cavaliers made a surprising move ahead of the upcoming NBA Draft, relieving general manager David Griffin of his duties. Griffin’s contract was set to expire on June 30, but because the team was so far into the offseason, it was believed that a deal was in the works to extend his contract. Griffin was reportedly working on a trade deal with the Chicago Bulls for Jimmy Butler on the same day he was let go, which makes this even more surprising. According to a source, Griffin and Cavaliers owner Dan Gilbert “just couldn’t agree on the future”. Trent Redden, vice president of basketball operations, will also be leaving the Cavaliers organization.
The early candidate appearing as Griffin’s replacement is former All Star Detroit Pistons guard Chauncey Billups, who currently works as an NBA analyst for ESPN and has a relationship with current Cavaliers head coach Tyronn Lue. According to reports by Yahoo’s The Vertical, it appears that Gilbert would hire Billups as a president of basketball operations and allow him to select a general manager candidate that would handle the day-to-day matters, similar to the construct the Los Angeles Lakers have made this offseason in hiring Magic Johnson, who in turn hired Rob Pelinka as his general manager.
Under Griffin’s tenure, the Cavaliers were able to make a swift turnaround from the depths of despair they found themselves in before 2014. Of course, the return of LeBron James was the main driver in the return of Cleveland to basketball glory, but Griffin had to maneuver deals, such as the trade of Andrew Wiggins for Kevin Love, and the acquisitions of J.R. Smith and Iman Shumpert from the New York Knicks, that made Cleveland a more attractive destination for James. James had a publicly good relationship with Griffin, saying in April, “It makes no sense why he shouldn’t get an extension.”
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.
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.
— Joel Embiid (@JoelEmbiid) June 18, 2017
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.