Cortez Kennedy, Pro Football Hall of Fame defensive tackle and Seattle Seahawks legend, died at the age of 48 according to the Orlando Police Department on Tuesday. Police say that “there is nothing suspicious to report” at this time and that he died while he was alone. In a statement released by the Seahawks, the team said, “Tez was the heart and soul of the Seahawks through the 1990s and endeared himself to [fans] all across the Pacific Northwest as a player who played with a selfless and relentless approach to the game.” Pro Football Hall of Fame CEO David Baker also released a statement on the passing of Kennedy: “Cortez will be remembered not only for all his great achievements on the football field but how he handled himself off the field.” Other Seahawks icons, including Matt Hasselbeck and Kam Chancellor, reacted to the news on social media.
Wow I can't believe Cortez is gone at 48. I can say that he was one of the nicest professional men I've met. He used to always call me his "Hero". The stories we talked about from when he used to play were eye opening. Winning a ring and seeing how much that meant to him was cool coming from a legend, a Hall Of Famer. My condolences go out to the family and anyone else close to Cortez. I'm going to miss him around the practice facility this season…. R.I.P.
Kennedy was an All-American at the University of Miami, contributing to the team’s 1989 national championship. Kennedy was famed for his ability as both a run stopper and a pass rusher from the defensive tackle position, a position that is not normally conducive to the latter part of the defensive game. He was such a force in the NFL that he earned the Associated Press’ Defensive Player of the Year Award in 1992, despite his team finishing with a woeful 2-14 record that season. Since Kennedy, no defensive tackle has ever won the award. In his 11-year career with Seattle, he made eight Pro Bowls and earned three first-team All-Pro selections from the Associated Press, as well as a spot on the Associated Press’ 1990s All-Decade Team. As for statistics, he had 58 sacks during his career, which is relatively high for a defensive tackle. He also recorded 448 tackles, six forced fumbles, three interceptions, and a fumble recovery for a touchdown during his career. His jersey number, No. 96, was retired by the team. In his post-playing career, he served as a consultant for New Orleans Saints general manager Mickey Loomis, while still keeping a close relationship with the Seahawks organization.- Advertisement -
After an issue with Romanian airport security and the Turkish government over the weekend, Oklahoma City Thunder center Enes Kanter has returned safely to the United States and expressed his wishes to become a U.S. citizen. Kanter says that his Turkish passport was canceled because he has spoken out against Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan in the past; Kanter also says that he received two death threats on Monday morning over that same criticism.
The issues began at the airport in Bucharest, where Kanter recorded video of him being held at the airport and posted it on social media on Saturday, his 25th birthday. Once his passport was taken, he had to receive help from the NBA, the NBA Players’ Association, the Oklahoma City Thunder legal department, Homeland Security officials, and even personal calls by Oklahoma Senators Jim Inhofe and James Lankford. Kanter eventually got a flight to London, from where he grabbed a connecting flight to New York City. “It was scary because there was a chance they might send me back to Turkey, probably you guys wouldn’t hear a word from me the second day,” Kanter said of his experience.
In 2016, Kanter first spoke out against Erdogan following a bombing in Turkey’s capital city, Ankara. After that, Kanter received death threats, and the FBI had to be consulted when Kanter’s team made a preseason trip to Spain. Kanter has also expressed his support of Fethullah Gulen, an Islamic leader in exile who is a deep rival of Erdogan. Because of this opposition to the Turkish status quo, Kanter’s family disowned him a year ago. “Right now, even if I try to communicate with my parents, my mom or dad or brother or sister, they will probably listen to their phones and as soon as they are in contact with me, they will put them in a jail and the jails are not fun,” Kanter says.- Advertisement -
Indianapolis 500 pole sitter Scott Dixon and former IndyCar driver Dario Franchitti were robbed at gunpoint at a Taco Bell drive-thru on Sunday in Indianapolis, according to a local police report. Dixon had just come off setting a record for the fastest qualifying time at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway in 21 years when he, his wife and Franchitti were visiting a Taco Bell at 9:40 PM just outside of the race track. Chip Ganassi Racing later released a statement saying the three were fine and that they will wait on Indianapolis police to finish their investigation before they or Dixon comment further on the situation.
According to the report, a 14-year-old and 15-year-old, both boys, took credit cards, as well as the wallet and identification of Dixon’s wife. The two were charged with robbery, while the 15-year-old was additionally charged with resisting law enforcement.
After the news came out that the racers were safe, drivers took a light-hearted approach to expressing their condolences. Tony Kanaan, a teammate of Dixon, said that he was actually invited to go with Dixon and Franchitti, who were out buying food for other drivers. “Obviously, I’m glad they’re OK. Now obviously I can make fun of them big time,” Kanaan said. As for Chip Ganassi, the owner of Dixon’s and Kanaan’s team, he tweeted, “There goes that Taco Bell sponsorship we were working on I guess.”
— Chip Ganassi (@GanassiChip) May 22, 2017
Dixon is a four-time winner of the IndyCar Series, and holds the pole at the Indianapolis 500 for the third time. He won the Indy 500 from the pole in 2008. Franchitti won the Indianapolis 500 three times in his career and retired in 2013 following a devastating crash that broke his back and right ankle. Franchitti also sustained a concussion in the crash at Houston, but is still involved with the IndyCar Series.- Advertisement -
Former MotoGP world champion Nicky Hayden has now died after a tragic accident in Italy last week; Hayden was only 35 years old. Hayden, who won the world championship in MotoGP in 2006, “succumbed to injuries suffered during an incident while riding his bicycle last Wednesday,” according to a statement released by Red Bull Honda, Hayden’s sponsor. Hayden collided with a car near Rimini, Italy on May 17, and sustained serious brain damage. The driver was given a Breathalyzer test at the scene of the accident, but police determined he was not over the limit. He was being hospitalized by the Maurizio Bufalini Hospital in Cesena, Italy until he eventually died Monday.
Nicky was a great sportsman, a true gentleman and a friend. We’ll never forget him. Our hearts and thoughts are with his family and friends. pic.twitter.com/Tc49KNUeFP
— Repsol Honda Team (@HRC_MotoGP) May 22, 2017
Red Bull Honda also said in their statement: “As well as being a true champion on the track, Nicky was a fan favourite off it due to his kind nature, relaxed demeanour, and the huge smile he invariably carried everywhere. Nothing says more about Nicky’s character than the overwhelming response expressed by fellow racers and his legions of fans over the past few days.” Hayden’s fiancee Jackie, as well as his mother Rose and brother Tommy, were by his side after flying in from Hayden’s home country of the United States. “On behalf of the whole Hayden family and Nicky’s fiancee Jackie I would like to thank everyone for their messages of support. It has been a great comfort to us all knowing that Nicky has touched so many people’s lives in such a positive way,” Tommy Hayden said. Tommy also reminisced on Nicky’s childhood dreams of becoming a pro rider and expressed their family’s pride in Nicky being able to achieve his dreams.
Hayden, originally from Owensboro, Kentucky, had a 13-year career in MotoGP, racing for Honda and Ducati and recording three victories plus 28 podium finishes. In 2016, he shifted to the World Superbike championship, where he finished fifth in the standings last year, and was currently in 13th place this season as a member of the Red Bull Honda team.
In what many NBA fans called one of the stranger results in recent memory, the Boston Celtics notched their first win of the Eastern Conference Finals last night in a Game 3 111-108 victory over the Cleveland Cavaliers. Most of the blame fell on the off night for Cavaliers and NBA legend LeBron James, whose 11 points last night is one of the lowest totals in James’ lengthy playoff career. “Me personally, I didn’t have it. That’s all I’ve got to say about my performance,” James said in the post game press conference, noticeably dejected. James didn’t seem to be willing to pin his performance on an improved defense by Boston, saying, “No, they didn’t mix up the coverage. They did a good job of sprinting back, leveling to the ball, doubling me a little bit more in the post. But like I said, my performance personally was all on me.” James’ frustration was added on to after the game when he was heckled on his way to the news conference by a fan.
While James’ lack of point scoring was very visible, some Cavaliers sources believe that James was trying to ride the momentum of Kyrie Irving and Kevin Love, who both had excellent first halves (17 and 22 points respectively). “[James] kept feeding them and tried to let the game come to him, and he got out of rhythm a little bit,” Cavaliers head coach Tyronn Lue said when asked about James.
James was particularly hampered in the second half, where he went one for eight with one rebound, one assist, one steal and three turnovers. Boston took advantage and made a huge comeback in the third quarter, when Marcus Smart scored 19 of his 27 total points after halftime. The win was sealed with a clutch three-point shot by Avery Bradley, with 0.1 seconds on the clock.
The NBA Draft Lottery occurred on Tuesday night, and resulted in some relatively expected slots, but still potentially franchise changers. The Boston Celtics, who were propped up by a trade with the Brooklyn Nets that got them rights to the Nets’ first round pick this year, will be the team with the first overall selection in this year’s draft. The Los Angeles Lakers wound up with the second overall pick, and the Philadelphia 76ers, thanks to a pick-swap clause with the Sacramento Kings, will hold the third pick in the draft. The Phoenix Suns were the worst team not selected by the lottery, and will pick fourth in the draft.
These results come as LaVar Ball and his son Lonzo are angling for a spot with the Los Angeles Lakers, despite that signature team holding the second pick for what some expect to be the first player off the board. According to LaVar Ball, Lonzo will only participate in pre-draft workouts with the Lakers, presumably in an effort to discourage the Celtics from selecting Ball first overall. Ball played one season of college basketball at UCLA, and played at Chino Hills High School, so the family has a strong connection to southern California and would prefer to stay there. LaVar Ball has also touted the huge spike in success Los Angeles’ basketball team will receive in selecting Ball, saying that “The Lakers make the playoffs as soon as my boy gets there.” The difference in base salary between a first overall and second overall selection is more than $2 million, but it seems LaVar Ball is gambling that success in Los Angeles will lead to more lucrative merchandising deals than what Lonzo could procure in Boston.
As for the Celtics, they will most likely be deciding between Ball and Markelle Fultz out of Washington. Both players are at the position of guard. In addition to Ball and Fultz, the Lakers are scouting Jayson Tatum, Duke forward; Josh Jackson, Kansas forward; and De’Aaron Fox, Kentucky guard.
The Boston Celtics survived a grueling series after a hard-fought Game 7 win over the Washington Wizards last night, moving on to a slot in the Eastern Conference Finals against the Cleveland Cavaliers. A 29-point performance by star Isaiah Thomas and a surprise 26-point showing from Kelly Olynyk contributed to Boston’s 115-105 victory. The Celtics will make their first Eastern Conference Finals appearance since the final year of The Big Three’s prime in 2012.
While the Wizards had the more impressive starting lineup of the two teams this series, Washington struggled when they needed to lean on a very shallow bench. Bradley Beal, with 38 points; Otto Porter, with 20 points; and John Wall, with 18 points and 11 assists, did their best to construct a substantial enough lead for their bench to at least protect. Meanwhile, Boston had a strong second team, led by Olynyk. His 14 fourth-quarter points in Game 7 were a key contributor to Boston finally coming out on top.
The Cavaliers will enter the series with an eight-game winning streak, having swept their playoff series against the Indiana Pacers and the Toronto Raptors so far this postseason. They also have a lot of rest to fight off the fatigue the Celtics will be dealing it, as Cleveland has not needed to play a game since May 7. One of the few advantages Boston can claim is home court, as the Cavaliers’ late-season struggles knocked them down to a seed lower than Boston entering the playoffs. Boston head coach Brad Stevens recognizes the odds are against them: “I think they’re better than any of the four times we played them [this season], including the last one, where they smashed us. So we’re going to have to play really well.” The last time the Cavaliers faced the Celtics in the playoffs, which occurred in 2015, Cleveland executed a four-game sweep.
Golden State Warriors center Zaza Pachulia is the latest center of controversy for the defending Western Conference champions, as Pachulia is being accused of intentionally sticking his foot under San Antonio Spurs star Kawhi Leonard, causing Leonard to injure his left ankle for the second time this season. Leonard is expected to undergo an MRI later today, as the Spurs prepare for the rest of the Western Conference Finals potentially without their biggest defensive enforcer. Following the Leonard injury, the Warriors outscored the Spurs 56-30, which included an 18-0 run immediately following Leonard’s exit. The Spurs ended up losing Game 1 of the Western Conference Finals 113 to 111.
Leonard initially had an ankle issue in Game 5 of the previous playoff series, when he came down on the foot of Houston Rocket James Harden. In that situation, he only missed one following game. Earlier in the Warriors game last night, he stepped on the foot of his teammate David Lee; Leonard missed minimal time from that first encounter. In the third quarter, Leonard took a jump shot from the corner when Pachulia made the questionable move with his foot. Pachulia was called for a foul immediately, and Leonard was able to stay in for two successful free throw attempts before leaving the court escorted by the team’s trainer.
After the game, Pachulia explained the play as a natural display of defense and that the injury was totally unintended. Kevin Durant, Pachulia’s teammate and one of the Warriors’ vocal leaders, said after the game, “Zaza’s not a dirty player. You’ve got to time that perfectly if you want to hurt somebody. We’re not that type of team.” Even Leonard did not subscribe to the idea that Pachulia intended to knock him out of the series. “Did he step under it? Like, on purpose? No. He was contesting the shot. The shot clock was coming down,” Leonard told reporters after the game.
Long-time Chicago Bears quarterback Jay Cutler finally announced his retirement from the National Football League, which comes in tandem with news that he will appear on FOX as a color commentator, joining the current B-team of Kevin Burkhardt and Charles Davis. In a statement released on Friday morning, Cutler expressed his belief that he wasn’t sure if retirement was an accurate description of his decision. “I don’t feel that anyone ever really retires from the NFL. You are either forced to leave, or you lose the desire to do what’s required to keep going. I’m in between those situations at this point in my life.” Reports later came out that the New York Jets and the Houston Texans did have preliminary talks with Cutler about bringing him onto the roster, but the retirement announcement would indicate that neither of those destinations ended up materializing. Tony Romo, who recently retired from the same position, will make his debut as the top color commentator at CBS, but he included a clause that allows him to return to the NFL if a team suffering a major injury at quarterback requires his service. So Cutler, who joins an existing analyst team and at a lower tier than Romo, is likely to have negotiated a similar contract that would allow him to return if the right offer came in.
Cutler is now 34 years old and just underwent shoulder surgery, as he tried to fight against declining performance in the past couple of years. As a result, the Bears decided to release him and draft Mitch Trubisky at the top of the NFL Draft, as well as sign former Tampa Bay Buccaneers backup Mike Glennon, to replace Cutler as Chicago’s field general. The Texans, who were the most serious about acquiring Cutler, ends up going into the 2017 season with a comeptition between veteran backup Brandon Weeden, recent late-round draft pick Tom Savage, and rookie QB of the future DeShaun Watson.
San Antonio Spurs veteran guard Tony Parker was diagnosed with a torn quadriceps tendon after an injury sustained during Game 2 of the Western Conference semifinals last night. It sounds like the 34-year-old Parker will require season-ending surgery. In the fourth quarter of the game, Parker grabbed his left knee after a contested shot and collapsed. He lay on the court for a couple of minutes and needed to be helped off by teammates Dejounte Murray and Dewayne Dedmon because he was unable to put any pressure on his left leg without excruciating pain. The Spurs ended up winning the game 121 to 96 and tying up the series 1-1, but they will need to figure out quickly how to shift their starting lineup without their point guard.
Tony Parker is still a serviceable player, but at this relatively advanced age in an increasingly physical league, this was not entirely unexpected. Parker missed 16 games this regular season and struggled with knee, foot and back issues all year. In the past, Patty Mills has stepped in as Parker’s replacement, with Manu Ginobili shifting to Mills’ backup. Mills has been groomed as Parker’s heir for years, and he’ll get an opportunity in one of the most important crossroads for the Spurs franchise to see if his tutoring by coach Gregg Popovich has paid off. Murray, Kyle Anderson and Jonathon Simmons are also expected to see increased playing time as a result of Parker’s absence. MVP candidate Kawhi Leonard will also be asked to bear more of the offensive load with Parker out.
On the Rockets’ side of the ball, their strategy to lean heavily on the three-pointer backfired last night. Trevor Ariza and Patrick Beverley combined to go for just 1 for 9 on three-pointers. Furthermore, primary MVP candidate James Harden was just off, going 2 for 9 on three-pointers and 1 for 8 in the paint. They’ll hope to bounce back on Friday, when they host Game 3.