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Barkley, McGrady throw shade on Curry

Steph Curry was unanimously voted Most Valuable Player of the NBA, but Charles Barkley does not believe he’s the best all-round player. The former All-Star who’s now a TNT commentator said, in an interview on ESPN, that LeBron James and Kawhi Leonard “are to me the two best players in the world. . . . better all-around.  If you actually watch the Warriors play, Klay Thompson always guards the best guard.  That’s not a knock.  Larry Bird wasn’t a great defender; Magic Johnson wasn’t a great defender.”  . . . Former All-Star Tracy McGrady said that for Curry “to be that first player to get this unanimously, I think it just tells you how watered-down our league is.”  Barkley agreed, blaming overall decline in play on “1-and-done players.”  He pointed out that it’s difficult for bad teams to improve when first-round draft picks are teenagers who spent one year in college.  He pointed out that most of these premature lottery picks fail to develop into franchise-savers.

Between the Lines: Barkley himself was not known for defense but for his scoring and rebounding skills. 


Steve Adams refers to Warriors as ‘quick little monkeys’

Steve Adams, center for the Oklahoma City Thunder, is from New Zealand and isn’t familiar with some of the nuance of English spoken in America.  Thus, when he referred to the Golden State Warriors guards as “quick little monkeys,” he was unaware he was using language that could be interpreted as a racial slur.  “It was just a poor choice of words, mate,” he said after the Thunder’s upset victory in Game 1 of the NBA Western Conference finals.  Adams, who is white, made the offensive remark to ESPN in a postgame interview.  “I’m assimilating, mate, still trying to figure out the boundaries.  But I definitely overstepped them tonight. . . . I was just trying to express how difficult it was chasing those guys around.”

Between the Lines: A similar gaffe ended the career of TV titan Howard Cosell, who gushed, during a Monday Night Football telecast: “Look at that little monkey run.”


Shaq’s son will train with Kobe Bryant

Shaquille O’Neal and Kobe Bryant famously feuded when they played for the LA Lakers.  But Shaq now wants Kobe to work with his 6-9 son, Sharif, who’s expected to graduate from high school in 2018.  Until then, the four-star forward will be tutored in basketball not only by his dad but also by Bryant.  “I’m going to start training with Kobe soon, probably this summer, Sharif told TMZ.  He said his father talked with Bryant about the possibility during the All-Star Game in Toronto.  The idea is that Sharif will learn post play from Shaq, but that the Black Mamba can help him develop his skills away from the basket.


Giants’ manager, closer have confrontation on mound

San Francisco Giants closer Santiago Casilla has blown three saves in less than a quarter of the season, and manager Bruce Bochy may be losing patience.  When Casilla walked a batter on four pitches to load the bases with two out in the 9th inning and the Giants leading Arizona 4-2, Bochy walked to the mound to take the ball.  The pitcher slammed it into Bochy’s hand and stalked off toward the dugout.  Furious that a player was “showing him up,” Bochy yelled, “Come back here!” Casilla flapped his arms, turned around and stepped back on the mound.  Whereupon Bochy said, “Now you can go.”  Lefty Javier Lopez came in to retire left-handed Jake Lamb to end the game.  Casilla afterward was in no mood to celebrate.  He said, through an interpreter, “It shows the manager didn’t have faith in me.”  He was offended when Bochy reached for the ball without talking.  “Tell me the reason; don’t just take the ball and say nothing.  . . .  It is not a kid, it is a man on the mound.” 


Ex-con Matt Bush makes MLB debut, throws 97 mph

Matt Bush, former No. 1 draft pick of the San Diego Padres, served 3 ½ years in prison for a DUI incident in which he injured a 72-year-old motorcyclist.  He made his major-league debut Friday as a 30-year-old pitcher for the Texas Rangers.  He was politely greeted by the crowd at the Arlington stadium and pitched a scoreless inning, with his fastball clocking 97 mph.  Bush is in an Alcoholics Anonymous program and is prohibited from driving.  “I realized I’m not the same person when I drink,” he said. “I tend to make horrible choices.  I don’t ever want to be that person again.  I like myself today and being sober.  I feel like I’m living a dream and I don’t ever want this to stop.”


Standing O for Aroldis after suspension for domestic violence

New York Yankees fans are ready to forgive Aroldis Chapman for alleged domestic violence that brought him a 30-game suspension.  When he made his belated season debut last week, he was rewarded with standing ovations from a crowd mesmerized by a fastball  measuring 100-102 mph.  “His stuff is electric, and it’s exciting, and I think people like that,” Yankees manager Joe Girardi said.  “I think people are curious on our side, too.  It’s not something you see every day, three digits on the board.” According to a police report, Chapman, who was born in Cuba and lives in Miami, fired eight shots in his garage after a physical altercation with his girlfriend.


Rangers’ catcher has no power but hits 2 slams in 1 week

Catching is, like shortstop, a baseball position in which puny offense is often tolerated.  Thus, Bobby Wilson has been able to play eight years in the major leagues despite a lifetime batting average of .208 and a total of 9 home runs.  But at age 33 he’s having some moments.  He smashed two grand slams in one week.  Sort of like hitting back to back lotteries.  Consider: Derek Jeter hit 260 home runs, but never with the bases loaded.  Wilson began the season with the Detroit Tigers and had no home runs for them before they traded him two weeks ago to the Texas Rangers.  Six days later he hit the first slam of his career.  He broke apart a tie game against the team that had traded him.  Four days after that he homered in the second inning after Toronto’s Marco Estrada loaded the bases.


Tiger splashes three consecutive wedge shots  

While insisting he can overtake Jack Nicklaus for the record of 18 major championships, Tiger Woods put on a golfing display that cast doubt on that possibility.  At a mini par-3 competition at Congressional County Club in Maryland on Monday, Woods, who is 40 and has won 14 majors, took out his wedge and aimed for a pin 100 yards away.  He hit three consecutive shots into the water.  “I think his major championship record is certainly still attainable,” said Woods, who’s recovering from his third back operation.  “Everything about my game is coming around.  I just need time.” 

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