The Washington Post - 24.10.2019

(Nancy Kaufman) #1

D2 EZ SU T H E  W A S H I N G T O N  P O S T.T H U R S D A Y , O C T O B E R  2 4,  2 0 1 9


los angeles — Until now, LeBron
James and Kawhi Leonard have largely
managed to skirt rivalry talk.
The two superstars have met twice in
the NBA Finals — with each winning a
title and a Finals MVP against the other
— but a host of factors have intervened.
When James’s Miami Heat faced the San
Antonio Spurs in the 2013 and 2014
Finals, Tim Duncan was still his
headlining foil. In the years since, James
has battled Kevin Durant for the title of
the NBA’s best player and has been
judged endlessly against Michael Jordan
as the greatest of all time. Leonard,
meanwhile, was a certified all-NBA
talent but often an afterthought because
of his injuries and five straight years
without a head-to-head playoff
The Los Angeles Clippers’ 112-102
victory over the crosstown Lakers at
Staples Center on Tuesday made it clear
that the James vs. Leonard rivalry is
suddenly unavoidable. During an
intense opening night that saw Leonard
showered with cheers and boos during
introductions, the contest’s twin
centerpieces traded highlights while
standing in direct opposition in so many
James rocks fashionable Nikes.
Leonard rocks upstart New Balances.
James dominated a week’s worth of news
cycles with his commentary on China. If
Leonard muttered a word, no one heard
it. James’s Lakers landed his sidekick,
Anthony Davis, through a protracted
public recruiting campaign. Leonard
plotted for his co-star, Paul George, in
silence after turning down the chase to
form a super team with James on the
Lakers. James’s close friend Rich Paul
launched the Klutch Sports Agency to
represent other professional athletes,
inking contracts worth hundreds of
millions of dollars. Leonard is
represented, in part, by his uncle.
Importantly, James is 34 and plays
with the urgency of a man who
understands his clock is ticking.

Leonard is 28 and plays like urgency is a
foreign mental construct.
Both players execute their crafts in
ways that draw every eyeball in the
building. Playing in his first NBA game
since March, James burst out of the gate
with pent-up excitement. He scored the
game’s first points on a reverse layup,
quickly set up a Danny Green three and
then splashed a turnaround jumper over
Leonard after a few rocking dribbles.
The Lakers charged to a 13-2 lead, and all
the accumulated drama from six straight
lottery trips seemed to evaporate.
Leonard started slowly — he was
whistled for a travel and a charging call
early — but answered soon enough. Like
James, he possesses an innate
confidence that he can get to his
preferred spots whenever he desires.
Leonard hit eight of his 11 first-half shots
to help the Clippers regain the lead
before halftime, draining unblockable
fadeaways from the corner and tough
back-down jumpers in the paint.
“I got to spots early [and] missed some
little chippies,” Leonard said. “Then I
just started making shots.... It’s my
ninth year in the NBA. I’ve been leading
teams four or five years now. It’s just
different for me tonight because I have a
different coach, I’m in a new uniform,
new play-calls, new defensive
structures. Other than that, it’s just
basketball, five on five.”
The one-on-one battle for Los Angeles
— and the Western Conference at large —
is on, too. James provided the voice-over
for a hype video that played up the
Lakers’ history of dominance and
popularity, while Leonard appeared in a
Los Angeles-themed New Balance
commercial that included him holding a
crown key chain and a provocative
closing tagline: “This is his city.” The

Clippers played up their differences with
the Lakers all night, beginning with a
hype video that included phrasing such
as “streetlights over spotlights” and “grit
over glam.”
“It’s the first game,” James said. “The
NBA is back, and everybody is trying to
have the narrative of a rivalry game and a
huge test. Both teams are not who they
want to be. We have a lot of room to
improve. We’re a new group, a new
coaching staff and a new system. It’s not
a rivalry.”
Oh, but it is.
Tuesday confirmed that Leonard has
more help. The Clippers were deeper
than the Lakers even with George
sidelined; their bench won the scoring
battle 60-19. Clippers guard Patrick
Beverley pranced around the court,
flexing as his team held off the Lakers
down the stretch with several defensive
Leonard’s fingerprints were all over
the closing effort, from a pump-fake
jumper over James to a hard take on
Kentavious Caldwell-Pope to a hustle
play offensive rebound that burned
precious time off the clock. James also
had a hand in the Lakers’ demise,
committing an untimely turnover with
less than three minutes to play.
Leonard finished with a game-high
30 points, six rebounds and five assists,
outpacing James’s 18 points, nine
rebounds and eight assists. For a league
whose opening week had been
overshadowed by the tense standoff with
China and Zion Williamson’s injury,
their thrilling duel was a welcome sight.
Leonard proved during the 2019 playoffs
that he is a worthy proxy for Durant, and
his methodical debut reinforced his case
as basketball’s best player.
By the time Leonard had shaken
hands with Lakers guard Danny Green,
his former Toronto Raptors teammate,
and conducted his postgame interview,
James had high-tailed it back to the
locker room.
Presumably, the revenge plot already
has begun in earnest.


“You know, it will come.

It is getting closer. We’re

close to the end.”
Patriots quarterback, on Boston’s
WEEI regarding his current contract
status and future with the team.
Brady, 42, could void his deal after
the season. He also said in the radio
interview, “I am just taking it day-by-
day,” and, “I don’t know what the
future holds.”


Game of rivals, Los Angeles-style



Philadelphia Eagles defensive
lineman Fletcher Cox missed
practice Oct. 16 with what the
team described on the injury re-
port as an “illness.”
Whether Cox was sick remains
to be seen. But one day earlier, he
had driven off an intruder at his
home after grabbing a shotgun.
As detailed in police reports
and court documents obtained by
ABC 6 in Philadelphia, Cox told
police that a man named Corbyn
Nyemah had shown up at his
house looking for his ex-girlfriend.
He damaged her vehicle with a
baseball bat and attempted to en-
ter the house by throwing large
rocks through the front door but
fled in his Porsche SUV after Cox
called police and armed himself
with a shotgun. Nyemah was able
to elude police after a chase,
though U.S. Marshals took him
into custody late last week.
Cox was back at practice Thurs-
day and played Sunday night
against the Dallas Cowboys.
The Eagles disputed that they
used the injury report to give one
of their players cover after a fright-
ening incident. In any case, the
NFL still frowns on teams playing
fast and loose with the report.
Late last season, the Pittsburgh
Steelers said wide receiver Anto-
nio Brown had missed practices in
part because of a knee injury, with
Coach Mike Tomlin telling report-
ers that Brown had his knee tested
because he “didn’t feel comfort-
able enough” to practice. But a
report surfaced that said Brown’s
knee was fine, that it had not been
tested and that he skipped practic-
es because of a dispute with quar-
terback Ben Roethlisberger.
According to a 2017 policy,
teams must provide information
on injured players “in a satisfacto-
ry manner” and it must be “cred-
ible, accurate, timely, and specific
within the guidelines of the policy,
which is of paramount impor-
tance in maintaining the integrity
of the game.” Violations may result
in “Commissioner discipline,” in-
cluding fines, suspensions and
draft-pick forfeiture, though a re-
cent case involving the Seattle Sea-
hawks suggests the violation must
rise to a certain level before a
punishment is doled out.
After the 2016 season, the NFL
issued a warning to the Seahawks
after Coach Pete Carroll said cor-
nerback Richard Sherman had
played through a “legit” medial
collateral ligament injury during
the season, even though it was
never listed on any injury report.
“The Personnel [Injury] Report
Policy has been a cornerstone of
public confidence in the NFL for
many decades,” it reads. “The
credibility of the NFL, teams, own-
ers and team personnel requires
full confidence with and uniform
enforcement of the policy.”
The NFL also investigated the
Steelers for failing to properly list
running back Le’Veon Bell on the
injury report in the 2016 season.


may have

kept out

Eagles’ Cox

8:20 p.m. Washington at Minnesota » WTTG (Ch. 5), WBFF (Ch. 45), NFL Network,
WTEM (980 AM), WSBN (630 AM), WMAL (105.9 FM)
9 p.m. Washington at Edmonton » NBC Sports Washington, WJFK (106.7 FM),
WFED (1500 AM)
8 p.m. Milwaukee at Houston »TNT
10:30 p.m. Los Angeles Clippers at Golden State » TNT
3 a.m. PGA Tour: Zozo Championship, first round » Golf Channel
6:30 a.m. European Tour: Portugal Masters, first round » Golf Channel
11 p.m. LPGA Tour: BMW Ladies Championship, first round » Golf Channel
8 p.m. Eastern Conference semifinal: Philadelphia at Atlanta » ESPN2
10:30 p.m. Western Conference semifinal: LA Galaxy at Los Angeles FC » ESPN
7 a.m. ATP: Swiss Indoors Basel and Vienna Open, early rounds;
WTA: Elite Trophy, early rounds » Tennis Channel
1:30 a.m. (Fri.)WTA: Elite Trophy, early rounds » Tennis Channel
7:30 p.m. SMU at Houston » ESPN
7:30 p.m. Jackson State at Prairie View A&M » ESPNU
6 p.m. Women: Washington State at Southern California » Pac-12 Network
7 p.m. Women: Minnesota at Northwestern » Big Ten Network
7 p.m. Women: Florida State at North Carolina » ACC Network
7 p.m. Women: Florida at Tennessee » SEC Network
8 p.m. Men: Washington at UCLA » Pac-12 Network
9 p.m. Women: Wisconsin at Illinois » Big Ten Network
11 p.m. Women: Washington at UCLA » Pac-12 Network
10:30 p.m. San Diego at Pepperdine » ESPNU


David Ross, the popular and
personable backup catcher from
the Chicago Cubs’ 2016 World Se-
ries championship team, report-
edly was chosen to replace Joe
Maddon as the team’s manager —
a move that has been expected
since the team cut ties with Mad-
don in late September.
The news, first reported by NBC
Sports Chicago, is unlikely to be
confirmed until Thursday, owing
to Major League Baseball’s prefer-
ence that teams don’t make news
on days with World Series games.
Ross, 42, has no previous man-
aging or coaching experience but
was considered a strong leader
during a 15-year playing career
that culminated with champion-
ships in Boston (2013) and Chica-
go (2016). He spent the past three
seasons as a Cubs special assistant
and worked as an analyst for ESPN
and appeared on “Dancing with
the Stars.”
“I always have greater comfort
hiring for roles in which the per-
son has done the role,” Cubs presi-
dent of baseball operations Theo
Epstein told reporters in Septem-
ber. “But there are ways that can
be overcome: belief, skills, person-
al attributes can all outweigh a
lack of experience.”
Ross, Epstein said at the time,
“is a very attractive candidate, and
he’s going to be evaluated on the
merits for what he can bring to the
table as a major league manager
given his skills, given his experi-
ences, given his worldview, given
what he knows about winning.”
The Cubs decided to part ways
with Maddon after a season in
which they failed to make the play-
offs for the first time since 2014.
The reported hiring of Ross fits
into a recent industry trend of
hiring young and personable but
inexperienced managers from
outside the normal channels of
minor league managing and ma-
jor league coaching. Among the
successful hirings in recent years
are the Houston Astros’ A.J.
Hinch, the Los Angeles Dodgers’
Dave Roberts and Alex Cora of the
Boston Red Sox. Among the fail-
ures are Gabe Kapler, who was
fired by the Philadelphia Phillies
after two rocky seasons.



Cubs set

to hire Ross

as manager

Kawhi Leonard and LeBron James met for the first time as stars leading their teams in the same city Tuesday night.

James vs. Leonard
is exactly what the league
needs right now


Federer coasts to win

at Swiss Indoors

Top-seeded Roger Federer
eased to a 6-0, 6-3 win over 49th-
ranked Radu Albot in the second
round of the Swiss Indoors on
Wednesday in Basel.
Seeking a 10th title at his
hometown event, Federer has
spent less than two hours
combined on court for his two
matches this week.
In Friday’s quarterfinals,
Federer will play fellow Swiss
Stan Wawrinka or Hyattsville
native Frances Tiafoe, who both
had straight-set wins. Wawrinka
beat Pablo Cuevas, 6-3, 6-4, and
Tiafoe beat Dan Evans, 6-4, 6-2.
Sixth-seeded David Goffin
won, 6-4, 6-4, against unseeded
Marin Cilic, the Basel champion
in 2016 when Federer was hurt.

Seventh-ranked Florida
expects to have wide receiver
Kadarius Toney back for its game
against No. 10 Georgia on Nov. 2.
Toney, who has missed six
games with a left shoulder injury,
returned to practice this week.
The junior has 43 career
receptions for 484 yards and two

Tennessee Coach Jeremy
Pruitt said quarterback Brian
Maurer is “probably doubtful”
for Saturday’s game with South
Carolina after the freshman
suffered a concussion in each of
the team’s past two contests....
Jacob Montes and Dylan
Nealis scored midway through
the first half to lead the No. 7
Georgetown men’s soccer team to
a 3-0 upset of No. 4 St. John’s in
New York.
Derek Dodson added a goal
early in the second half to
complete the scoring for the
Hoyas (12-1-1, 5-0-1 Big East), and
Tomas Romero made four saves
to earn the shutout in goal. The
Red Storm fell to 12-2-0, 5-1-0.

Major League Baseball wants
the minor leagues to upgrade
ballparks and decrease long
Negotiations have started on a
new Professional Baseball
Agreement to replace the deal
between MLB and the National
Association of Professional
Baseball Leagues that expires
after the 2020 season.
“There’s an economic system in
minor league baseball where we
heavily subsidize what goes on in

minor league baseball. We are
more than prepared to continue
to do that,” MLB Commissioner
Rob Manfred said Wednesday at
the World Series. “Against that
backdrop, I don’t think it’s
unreasonable for us to expect that
we have facilities that are first
class for some of the greatest
athletes in the world.”

Josh Hill became the youngest
winner of a sanctioned golf tour
event when the 15-year-old
amateur from Dubai shot an 8-
under-par 62 to win the Al Ain
(United Arab Emirates) Open on
the MENA Tour.
The MENA Tour holds
tournaments in the Middle East
and North Africa and receives
points from the Official World
Golf Ranking. The previous
youngest OWGR winner was Ryo
Ishikawa, who was 15 years
8 months when he won on the
Japan Golf Tour in 2007. Hill is
two months younger.

Formula One disqualified
Renault from the Oct. 13 Japanese
Grand Prix, knocking both of the
team’s cars out of the points for
that race because of an illegal
driver aid.

Daniel Ricciardo was sixth
and Nico Hulkenberg 10th in
Suzuka. Rival team Racing Point
protested over what it believed
was an illegal Renault braking
Formula One officials
determined the braking balance
system was not a technical
violation but was an improper
driver’s aid.
Renault is now just six points
ahead of Toro Rosso for fifth in
the team standings....
Canadian swimmer Brent
Hayden is coming out of
retirement after seven years with
a goal of competing at the 2020
The 36-year-old Hayden said
he left because he “hated the
sport” but now realizes he has a
chance to “fall in love with the
sport again.”
Hayden retired after earning a
bronze in the 100-meter freestyle
at the 2012 London Games. At the
time, he was dealing with back
problems and personal issues....
George Brancato, the former
LSU two-way back who won Grey
Cup titles with the Canadian
Football League’s Ottawa Rough
Riders as a player, assistant coach
and head coach, has died. He was
— From news services

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