Review Category : National Sports

Kevin Durant to Miss Rest of Season

Oklahoma City Thunder/NBA(NEW YORK) — Kevin Durant will have bone graft surgery on his right foot and miss the remainder of the season, Oklahoma City Thunder general manager Sam Presti announced Friday.

Durant will have the procedure early next week and is expected to return to basketball activities in the next four to six months.

The news comes a week after Presti announced that Durant been “removed from basketball activities” and said he could be shut down.

Durant underwent surgery Feb. 23 to attempt to alleviate soreness and discomfort in his right foot that was being caused by a screw inserted in October during a procedure to repair a Jones fracture. After the second procedure, Durant was re-evaluated after a week, then re-evaluated again after another week, at which point coach Scott Brooks updated the player’s timetable to a “week or two.”

Durant had intensified his on-court workouts before being removed from basketball activities last week, even returning to participate in parts of practice, including some 3-on-3. But the soreness that plagued him before the All-Star break and pushed him toward the second surgery was not resolved.

The reigning league MVP, Durant averaged 25.4 points, 6.6 rebounds and 4.1 assists in 27 games this season.

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Masahiro Tanaka to Start Opener for Yankees

Hannah Foslien/Getty Images(TAMPA, Fla.) — Masahiro Tanaka will make the Opening Day start for the New York Yankees against the Toronto Blue Jays on April 6 at Yankee Stadium, ending the six-year Opening Day run of the former ace, CC Sabathia.

Manager Joe Girardi made the announcement Friday morning, and it was clear last season that Tanaka had assumed the role of ace from Sabathia, whose effectiveness has been diminished due to elbow and knee injuries and a significant loss of fastball velocity over the past two seasons.

Girardi said the choice of Tanaka to start the season opener was as much about protecting his health as it was a reward for his 13-5, 2.77 ERA season in 2014.

“He did have a great year, but I worry more about the physical part than anything because that’s what’s going to carry us through the season,” Girardi said. “Rewards come at the end of October.”

The way the early part of the schedule lays out, Tanaka — who will make his final spring start on Tuesday against the Minnesota Twins at Fort Myers — will get an extra day’s rest before the opener as well as an extra day before each of his next two starts due to off days in the schedule.

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Steve Lavin Out As St. John’s Coach

Chris Trotman/Getty Images(NEW YORK) — St. John’s coach Steve Lavin and the school have mutually agreed to part ways after five seasons.

ESPN.com reported earlier this week that Lavin and the school were deep into talks on a contract extension.

Lavin led the Red Storm to the NCAA tournament, where they lost to San Diego State in the second round last Friday.

“Coach Lavin returned high expectations to our men’s basketball program and represented St. John’s in a positive way,” St. John’s athletic director Chris Monasch said in a statement Friday. “We appreciate his commitment to the program and to our student-athletes over the past five years.”

Lavin coached the Red Storm to two NCAA appearances and two NITs in five seasons. He missed one season while recovering from cancer.

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Metta World Peace: ‘I’ve Matured’

Harry How/Getty Images(MILAN) — Former NBA player Metta World Peace, formly known as Ron Artest, signed with the Italian basketball club Pallacanestro Cantu on Thursday.

World Peace, 35, says he’s come a long way since jumping into the stands in Detroit as a Pacers player in 2004.

“I had an up and down career,” World Peace said Thursday. “I grew up playing basketball on the streets of New York City and it was very, very rough and I started playing in the NBA in the same way.”

“Now the mentality is different from when I was younger. I always had the street mentality, but when you’re older, you get more mature,” he continued. “When you play angry you can’t focus. I’ve got five more years to have a great time, so I will be playing with a lot of fire but not anger — just passion.”

World Peace last played for the Chinese Basketball Association and changed his name to “The Pandas Friend.”

“I always wanted to play in Europe for a long time,” World Peace said of going overseas. “They move the ball and they move bodies and that’s what I like doing. I’m looking forward to playing team basketball and being smart as well as scoring. I can score but I’m excited about team basketball.”

World Peace won an NBA title with the Los Angeles Lakers in 2010 and has played for six NBA teams in his 15-year NBA career, including the Knicks last year. He was born in New York and played for St. John’s before being drafted by the Bulls in 1999.

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David Ortiz Dismisses Steroid Suspicion, Says He Belongs in Hall of Fame

G. Fiume/Getty Images(FORT MYERS, Fla.) — Boston Red Sox designated hitter David Ortiz still believes he is a future Hall of Famer, despite testing positive for a banned substance by the MLB.

“Let me tell you something. Say whatever you want about me — love me, hate me. But I’m no bulls——. I never knowingly took any steroids,” Ortiz wrote on The Players’ Tribune website. “If I tested positive for anything, it was for something in pills I bought at the damn mall. If you think that ruins everything I have done in this game, there is nothing I can say to convince you different.”

“In some people’s minds, I will always be considered a cheater,” Ortiz continued. “And that’s bulls—. Mark my words: Nobody in MLB history has been tested for PEDs more than me. You know how many times I’ve been tested since 2004? More than 80.”

“They say these tests are random. If it’s really random, I should start playing the damn lottery. Some people still think the testing is a joke. It’s no joke,” he clarified. “Ten times a season these guys come into the clubhouse or my home with their briefcases. I have never failed a single one of those tests and I never will.'”

Ortiz was one of the players listed in the Mitchell report that was released in 2007 and has been under the microscope since then.

“Some people still look at me like I’m a cheater because my name was on a list of players who got flagged for PEDs in 2003,” Ortiz wrote. “Let me tell you something about that test. Most guys were taking over-the-counter supplements then. Most guys are still taking over-the-counter supplements. If it’s legal, ballplayers take it. Why? Because if you make it to the World Series, you play 180 games. Really think about that for a second. One-hundred-and-eighty games.”

“Your kids could be sick, your wife could be yelling at you, your dad could be dying — nobody cares. Nobody cares if you have a bone bruise in your wrist or if you have a pulled groin. You’re an entertainer. The people want to see you hit a 95-mile-an-hour fastball over a damn 37-foot wall,” he explained.

The nine-time All-Star has .285 batting average with 466 career home runs in his career and believes he belongs in the Hall of Fame.

“Hell yes I deserve to be in the Hall of Fame,” Ortiz wrote. “I’ve won three World Series since MLB introduced comprehensive drug testing. I’ve performed year after year after year. But if a bunch of writers who have never swung a bat want to tell me it’s all for nothing, OK. Why do they write my legacy?”

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Michael Sam: ‘I Am Not the Only Gay Person in the NFL’

Joe Robbins/Getty Images(DALLAS) — Michael Sam, who was the first openly gay player to be selected in the NFL draft, said on Thursday that there are more gay players currently playing in the NFL.

In a Q&A session in Dallas Thursday, Sam said that other players have reached out to him to thank him for having the courage to be open about his sexuality.

“I am not the only gay person in the NFL,” Sam said, according to the Forth Worth Star-Telegram. “I’m just saying there is a lot of us. I respect the players that did reach out to me and had the courage to tell me that they were also gay, but they do not have the same courage as I do to come out before I even played a down in the NFL.”

“Was it a risky move? Yes. But at that moment, the reason why I came out is I thought it wasn’t going to be a big deal,” Sam continued. “Maybe I was naive. Maybe I thought it was 2014, and people will understand that there’s gay NFL players. There’s gay athletes everywhere. But I was clearly wrong. It was a huge deal.”

“The players who have reached out to me and told me about their sexual orientation, it just means a lot. But I will never say anything about who they are, what teams they are [on]. I’m just saying there’s some famous people, and I’m not the only one,” he added.

Sam failed to make the St. Louis Rams last year after being drafted by them and then played on the Dallas Cowboys practice team squad before being released on Oct. 21.

“Hopefully I’m not being discriminated [against] because I’m gay,” Sam said Thursday, according to the paper. “I don’t believe that I’m being discriminated [against] because I’m gay. I just want to know if I’m truly not in the NFL, it’s because of talent. Let it be because of my talents. But you’ve got to prove that I can’t play this game. If you look at the film, clearly I can. So, I’ll leave it at that.”

Sam participated in the first-ever veteran combine last weekend and ran the 40 in 4.99 seconds.

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Top Pick in 2014 Draft Brady Aiken Has Tommy John Surgery

iStock/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) — The first overall pick of the 2014 Draft, pitcher Brady Aiken, had Tommy John surgery on his throwing elbow.

The 18-year-old Aiken is attending IMG Academy because he never reached a deal with the Houston Astros after they selected him with the top pick.

The left-hander threw fewer than 15 pitches last Thursday before leaving his start for IMG. It was later found Aiken had torn his ulnar collateral ligament.

“In my first game for IMG Academy last week, I threw a pitch and something felt a little wrong,” Aiken wrote on The Player’s Tribune website. “When I visited the doctor’s office and got the news I had torn my UCL, I can’t even begin to express how I felt. I was — and still am — overwhelmed with a lot of different feelings, but mostly it’s disappointment.”

Despite his disappointment, Aiken is still confident he’ll get back into top form.

“Two other pitchers drafted after me in the first round last year were picked by their teams despite just having undergone Tommy John surgery,” Aiken wrote. “This is just a temporary setback.”

Instead of attending a four-year college, Aiken chose to go to IMG. That decision means that he’s still eligible for the 2015 draft.

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Scoreboard Roundup – 3/26/15

Hemera/Getty Images(NEW YORK) — NCAA Men’s Tournament:

Midwest Region: (1) Kentucky 78 (37-0) – (5) West Virginia 39 (25-10)

(3) Notre Dame 81 (32-5) – (7) Wichita St 70 (30-5)

West Region: (1) Wisconsin 79 (34-3) – (4) North Carolina 72 (26-12)

(2) Arizona 68 (34-3) – (6) Xavier 60 (23-14)

NHL: Carolina Hurricanes 5 (27-36-10, 64 pts) – Pittsburgh Penguins 2 (40-23-11, 91 pts)

Los Angeles Kings 3 (37-23-14, 88 pts) – New York Islanders 2 (44-26-5, 93 pts)

Washington Capitals 3 (40-24-10, 90 pts) – New Jersey Devils 2 (31-31-12, 74 pts) *F/OT

Arizona Coyotes 4 (23-44-8, 54 pts) – Buffalo Sabres 3 (20-46-8, 48 pts) *F/OT

Anaheim Ducks 3 (47-22-7, 101 pts) – Boston Bruins 2 (36-25-13, 85 pts) *F/OT

New York Rangers 5 (47-19-7, 101 pts) – Ottawa Senators 1 (37-25-11, 85 pts)

San Jose Sharks 6 (36-30-8, 80 pts) – Detroit Red Wings 4 (39-22-12, 90 pts)

Nashville Predators 3 (46-21-8, 100 pts) – Tampa Bay Lightning 2 (46-22-7, 99 pts)

Florida Panthers 4 (34-26-14, 82 pts) – Toronto Maple Leafs 1 (27-42-6, 60 pts)

Winnipeg Jets 5 (39-24-12, 90 pts) – Montreal Canadiens 2 (46-21-8, 100 pts)

NBA: Milwaukee Bucks 111 (36-36) – Indiana Pacers 107 (31-41)

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