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Mickelson millions linked to illegal gambling scheme

Phil Mickelson enters this week’s British Open at St. Andrews in one of the worst slumps of his golfing career while also fending off inquiries about his gambling activities.  Mickelson, 45, is winless, with just 3 top-10 finishes, in 13 PGA events this year.  And now he’s linked to the trial of a former associate, Gregory Silveira of La Quinta, Calif.  According to ESPN’s Outside the Lines, $2.75 million transferred from Mickelson to Silveira “was part of an illegal gambling operation that accepted and placed bets on sporting events.”  Silveira pleaded guilty to three counts of money-laundering.  Mickelson has not been charged and is not believed to be under federal investigation.  “I’m comfortable enough with who I am as a person that I feel I don’t need to comment on every little report that comes out,” he said.  But his refusal to deny the allegations is likely to lead to more uncomfortable media interaction.


Golfer Stallings calls PED penalty on himself

True to the golfer’s code of reporting on one’s own rule violations, Scott Stallings notified the PGA that in January and February he ingested a substance, DHEA, that is banned by the tour for increasing testosterone and enhancing athletic performance.  “I did so on the recommendation of my physician due to chronic fatigue,” said Stallings, a three-time tour winner.  The 30-year-old golfer was suspended for 90 days.


Elkington suspended for tweet about Michael Sam

In other PGA punishment news, Steve Elkington revealed to Golf Magazine that he was suspended for two weeks and fined $10,000 for a satirical tweet about gay football player Michael Sam.  Elkington in February tweeted: “ESPN reporting Michael Sam is leading the handbag throw at NFL combine.  No one else expected to throw today.”  Elkington may not have learned his lesson, as in April he was tweeting about transgender Olympian Caitlyn (formerly Bruce) Jenner.  “I’m not saying I’m not responsible for my tweets,” the 51-year-old Australian said, “but a lot of people are tired of political correctness.”


Clippers in full-court press, Jordan reneges on Mavs

The wooing of DeAndre Jordan was a drawn-out process.  When he became a free agent, the 6-11 center for the LA Clippers began negotiating with the Dallas Mavericks and agreed to play for them for $80 million over four years.  But he could not sign the contract until an eight-day moratorium had passed, and during that period he told the Clippers he was having second thoughts.  So the team put on a full-court press to talk Jordan into staying.  Owner Steve Ballmer, coach Doc Rivers, star players Blake Griffin, Chris Paul and others converged on Jordan’s home in Houston.  With the aid of $8 million more than the Mavs had offered, they talked him into reneging on the deal with Dallas, which was left holding the bag of money but no starting center, as Tyson Chandler had departed for Phoenix.  Mavs forward Chandler Parsons, who led the recruitment of Jordan, told ESPN:  “He wasn’t ready to be a franchise player.  He was scared.  . . .”  Detroit Pistons coach Stan Van Gundy told Bleacher Report he didn’t see the need for a moratorium while awaiting the setting of the salary cap on July 8.  “If they can get the cap set on July 8th, they can get it set on July 1st.  They got some really smart people.”

Between the Lines: The moratorium is wonderful for the NBA, providing a week of publicity in mid-July, when there’s no other reason for basketball to be in the news.


Matt Bonner blames lousy season on iPhone 6

NBA center Matt Bonner last season suffered a 5 percent decline in his 3-point accuracy, and he attributed it to tennis elbow. He told ESPN:  “Everybody’s going to think this is hilarious, but here’s my theory about how I got it.  When the new iPhone 6 came out it was way bigger than the last one . . . and it was a strain to use it.  You have to stretch it further to hit the buttons, and I honestly feel like that’s how I ended up developing it.”  Bonner said that while playing for the San Antonio Spurs last season he suffered elbow pain for more than two months and that it affected his shooting.  He made 36.5 percent of his 3-point shots, down from his career average of 41.5.


Rose banishment lifted for All-Star Game

The lifetime banishment of Pete Rose from baseball was lifted for Tuesday night’s All-Star Game in Cincinnati, where he spent most of his career.  Commissioner Rob Manfred permitted him to participate in pregame festivities that included celebrating the 25t anniversary of his breaking the all-time record for hits.  Manfred has indicated he soon will meet with Rose, 74, and consider rescinding the ban.  “I realize 25, 30 years ago I made mistakes,” Rose said, “and I’m not the same guy today.” 

Between the Lines: Despite his illegal gambling, tax evasion and prison time, Rose is very popular.  Baseball is happy to let the ban slide when he can bring valuable publicity to the sport.


Pierre-Paul loses right index finger to fireworks

The injuries New York Giants defensive end Jason Pierre-Paul suffered in a Fourth of July fireworks accident were more serious than first reported.  His right index finger was amputated, and he suffered fractures of both thumbs.  There were burns and also possible nerve damage to his hands.  Losing his index finger lessens his chances for an interception or knockdown and makes it more difficult to elude those who are blocking him.  The Giants offered JPP a $14.8 million franchise tender, which he refused while negotiating for a long-term deal.  The injuries, which are likely to affect his tackling ability, drastically change the dynamics of his negotiations.  The recovery time for the thumb surgeries is estimated at 6 weeks, and more procedures are possible.  He likely will miss at least part of the regular season.


Olbermann leaving ESPN – again

ESPN dismissed talk-show host Keith Olbermann — for the second time.  The network released a statement saying that “while the show’s content was distinctive and of extremely high quality, we ultimately made a business decision to move in another direction.”  Olbermann left ESPN in 1997, after which some co-workers said they were “thrilled” that he was departing.  No such acrimony has emerged concerning this exit, although some reports have it that the network felt his commentaries were sometimes overly critical, especially about NFL commissioner Roger Goodell.


Swiss find 81 ‘suspicious’ financial actions by FIFA

A Swiss investigation into corruption by the FIFA soccer organization has uncovered 81 incidents of possible bribery or money laundering related to awarding the World Cup to Russia in 2018 and to Qatar in 2022.  The Swiss Attorney General’s office said these reports are being reviewed by the Money Laundering Reporting Office Switzerland, which has the designated acronym of MROS.  Meanwhile, the U.S. Justice Department continues its investigation of FIFA corruption in which 18 people have been indicted or have pleaded guilty.  Last week the DOJ revealed that Chuck Blazer, America’s senior member of FIFA’s executive committee, pleaded guilty to money laundering, tax evasion, fraud and racketeering.  He admitted to accepting $10 million in bribes to arrange for South Africa to host the 2010 World Cup.


Papelbon: 3 years of losing in Philly is ‘plenty enough’

When closer Jonathan Papelbon signed a 4-year, $50 million contract with the Philadelphia Phillies in 2011, the team was coming off a 102-win season.  But since he joined them the Phils have failed to make the playoffs.  They were a major-league worst 29-62 at the All-Star break, and Papelbon wants out.  “That’s not what I signed up for,” he said during a pre-All-Star Game media session in Cincinnati.  “I think three years is plenty enough time to ride it out. . . If the fans don’t understand that, I really can’t side with them.”  Papelbon, 34, was an All-Star for the sixth time.  He has 14 saves and a 1.40 ERA this season and is likely to attract interest from contenders who need a closer.

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