The Golden State Warriors and Houston Rockets will wear specially designed uniforms as a way of marketing the game to Chinese fans during the upcoming Chinese New Year celebrations, the NBA said. The Rockets will wear the Chinese-themed uniforms when they host the Toronto Raptors on February 21, a day after the Warriors take to the court at home in their special Year of the Goat uniforms against the defending league champion San Antonio Spurs.
The channel at YouTube.com/NFL debuted just days before the championship Super Bowl game expected to draw a massive television audience for the American football league. "Partnering with YouTube and Google provides the NFL unique access to millions of highly engaged fans through the global leader in video and search," league vice president of media strategy Hans Schroeder said in a release. The YouTube channel will not stream the Super Bowl live, but will deliver game highlights shortly after they happen and commentary from analysts. "On any screen you watch YouTube, NFL's YouTube channel will bring you the sights and sounds this week in Arizona, from pre-game analysis to the highlights that everyone will be talking about," Google's Tim Katz said in a blog post.
The NFL is looking at a New England Patriots locker room attendant as it probes improperly inflated footballs used by the team in their playoff victory over Indianapolis, a report said. Fox Sports reported Monday on the latest twist in the scandal dubbed "Deflategate" even as the Patriots were flying into Phoenix for the Super Bowl, where they will face reigning champions Seattle on Sunday in the 49th edition of the NFL's championship spectacular. According to the report, the NFL has interviewed the "person of interest" and is "trying to determine whether any wrongdoing by this individual occurred" after surveillance video showed the attendant taking the footballs from the officials' locker room to another room before bringing them onto the field.
Seattle's "Legion of Boom" will be at full strength come Sunday when the Seahawks take on New England in Super Bowl 49, with both Richard Sherman and Earl Thomas vowing injuries won't slow them. "When I come alive, nothing is limited," said Thomas, who suffered a shoulder injury in the second quarter of Seattle's dramatic NFC championship victory over Green Bay and played the second half wearing a harness. He returned to practice on Friday and upon arriving in Phoenix on Sunday said the injury won't inhibit him on the field as a member of the Seahawks' hard-hitting corps of defensive backs.
Top-ranked Park In-Bee of South Korea and second-ranked New Zealand teen Lydia Ko will try to follow stellar 2014 campaigns with hot 2015 starts when the LPGA season begins Wednesday. The inaugural $1.5 million Coates Championship in suburban Orlando, Florida, marks the opening of a 33-event global calendar offering $61.6 million in prize money. Park, the 2013 Player of the Year, and Ko, whose three wins last year included the season-ending Tour Championship, will be joined by 91 of the world's 100 top-ranked players, including 2014 Player of the Year Stacy Lewis, fellow American stars Michelle Wie -- the reigning US Women's Open champion -- and Lexi Thompson, Norway's Suzann Pettersen and South Korea's Ryu So Yeon. "The Coates Golf Championship has one of the strongest playing fields the LPGA will see all season," said event director Lenny Francoeur.
By Steve Keating PHOENIX (Reuters) - Like nearly everyone else in America, Seattle Seahawks coach Pete Carroll knows more about footballs than he did a week ago as a controversy over deflated balls continued to dominate the Super Bowl buildup on Monday. Until the New England Patriots' blowout victory in the AFC championship, game-day balls were seldom given a second thought but are now the subject of an NFL investigation. "Maybe everyone would think you should have seen it before but I never checked on how the whole process of how our footballs were handled until this week," Carroll told reporters. It will never be the same because of what just happened." Each year, 700,000 footballs are produced for official NFL use, including 72 that will be used in Sunday's Super Bowl in Glendale, Arizona, between New England and Seattle.
(Reuters) - Nearly half of those responding to a national survey believe the Super Bowl-bound New England Patriots, engulfed in controversy over the so-called "Deflategate" scandal, are cheaters. While 47 percent of respondents in the poll thought the Patriots are cheaters, only 28 percent believe Patriots head coach Bill Belichick should be suspended for the Super Bowl. Patriots quarterback Tom Brady fared better, with only 25 percent saying Tom Brady should be suspended.
From modest beginnings of cheap tickets and empty seats to $4.5 million for a 30-second TV ad, the Super Bowl approaches its golden anniversary entrenched as the undisputed king of U.S. sporting events. Super Bowl 49 will pit the Seattle Seahawks against the New England Patriots in Glendale, Arizona, on Sunday and figures to join 21 previous Super Bowls atop the list of most watched U.S. TV broadcasts. A far cry from the first Super Bowl clash between the Green Bay Packers and Kansas City Chiefs in 1967, according to Jerry Izenberg of the (New Jersey) Star-Ledger, one of only two reporters to have covered ever Super Bowl.
Charlotte Hornets' center Bismack Biyombo and forward Marvin Williams will be out indefinitely for the NBA club due to injury, the team announced Monday. Both players were hurt Saturday in a 76-71 victory over New York that left Charlotte at 19-26, one win ahead of Brooklyn in the eighth and final Eastern Conference playoff position. Williams was diagnosed with concussion and a broken nose while Biyombo, a center from the Democratic Republic of Congo, suffered a bruised bone in his right knee. Williams, averaging 6.5 points and 4.5 rebounds over 43 games this season, cannot practise or play in games until he passes NBA concussion protocol tests.
New York (AFP) - Two National Basketball Association games scheduled for Monday night in New York were postponed as a major winter snowstorm approached, the league announced hours before the planned tip-offs.
Los Angeles Lakers star guard Kobe Bryant will undergo surgery on Wednesday, likely ending his season early for his third consecutive NBA campaign. The Lakers announced the decision on Monday after Bryant had seen a specialist to consider all options concerning his his torn right rotator cuff. Bryant, who suffered the injury last Wednesday in a loss at New Orleans, was advised to undergo surgery. While no timetable for his return will be made until after the operation, Bryant figures to sit out the remainder of the campaign with the Lakers mired in a 12-33 season, second-worst in the Western Conference.
(Reuters) - Kobe Bryant's NBA season could be over after the guard agreed to have surgery on a torn rotator cuff in his right shoulder, the Los Angeles Lakers said on Monday. The five-time National Basketball Association champion will have surgery on Wednesday and a timeline for his return will be issued following the procedure, the team said in a statement. Bryant injured his shoulder last week in a loss to the Pelicans in New Orleans and it could lead to the 16-time NBA All-Star being shut down for the Lakers' final 37 games of the 2014-15 regular season. The 36-year-old guard was averaging 22.3 points from 35 games this season for a struggling Lakers team that is last in the Pacific Division with a 12-33 record.
By Steve Keating PHOENIX (Reuters) - Wide receiver has long been one of American football's glamour positions but in the buildup to Sunday's Super Bowl it is the conerbacks on the New England Patriots and Seattle Seahawks packing the star power. Most NFL fans from Los Angeles to London can probably tell you about the Patriots' Darrelle Revis and Seahawks' Richard Sherman but many would be hard-pressed to name the receivers they will line up against at the University of Phoenix Stadium. Revis, known to fans as "Revis Island" for leaving receivers stranded when he covers them, has been named to five Pro Bowls while the outspoken Sherman has been a first-team All-Pro the last three years. Former Seahawk Brandon Browner, who now patrols the other corner for New England, has a resume that also includes a Pro Bowl appearance while Byron Maxwell is viewed as an emerging talent in the Seattle secondary.
By Daniel Lovering FALL RIVER, Mass. (Reuters) - A Massachusetts judge on Monday completed jury selection for the trial of former New England Patriots player Aaron Hernandez on charges of killing a semiprofessional football player near his home in June 2013. Opening statements were set for Thursday in Hernandez's trial on murder and firearms charges, which is expected to last six to 10 weeks at Fall River Superior Court in Fall River, Massachusetts. Hernandez, 25, formerly a rising star in the National Football League, is accused of killing semiprofessional football player Odin Lloyd, whose body was found in an industrial park near Hernandez's North Attleborough, Massachusetts, home on June 17, 2013.
(Reuters) - New England Patriots quarterback Tom Brady, who will face the Seattle Seahawks in the Super Bowl, said on Monday his feelings have been hurt during the NFL's investigation into his team's use of deflated balls. With many onlookers wondering whether the quarterback played a role in the matter to gain a competitive edge in the Patriots' AFC championship win, Brady has said all along he had nothing to do with the matter. I'll deal with whatever happens later." In an interview with ESPN during Sunday's Pro Bowl game, Brady said he had not yet spoken to NFL investigators and that he did not expect to until after the Feb. 1 Super Bowl in Glendale, Arizona. With head coach Bill Belichick having held two news conferences in recent days dedicated entirely to the deflated balls, the Patriots will be keen to turn their thoughts purely to the threat from the defending champion Seahawks.
Two high-profile criminal trials in Massachusetts, that of the accused Boston Marathon bomber and a former New England Patriots player charged with murdering an associate, will be delayed by an impending winter storm, judges said on Monday. Jury selection in the trial of accused Marathon bomber Dzhokhar Tsarnaev, which began its fourth week on Monday, will be suspended on Tuesday and possibly Wednesday, U.S. District Judge George O'Toole said on Monday, citing the storm, which is forecast to bring up to 30 inches (76 cm) of snow to the Boston area. Jury selection in that case has already taken longer than O'Toole initially expected, as it has proven difficult to find jurors open minded about the guilt of Tsarnaev, who is accused of killing three people and injuring 264 in the April 15, 2013, attack and could face the death penalty if convicted. The death penalty is unpopular in Massachusetts, where it is banned under state law.
By Eric Kelsey LOS ANGELES (Reuters) - There is a strong chance of a neon-colored spectacle, perhaps some flying and definitely songs of female empowerment when pop singer Katy Perry takes the stage during halftime at the Super Bowl, the most-watched 12 minutes on U.S. television. The pink-loving Perry may seem a mismatch for the macho world of NFL football. "Katy Perry is an artist who appeals to a very wide fan base as well as a lot of kids," said Jason Lipshutz, an associate editor at trade magazine Billboard. "Obviously, the NFL wants to bring in that younger demographic with their splashy halftime show." Women fans are a key growth area for the NFL, which came under harsh criticism for its uneven response to former Baltimore Ravens star Ray Rice's assault on his now wife Janay Palmer.
With Super Bowl 49 still a week away, Seattle Seahawks defensive standout Richard Sherman was already getting his shots in against the New England Patriots. The outspoken quarterback was skeptical that the Patriots would ever be punished, even if the NFL finds they purposely underinflated the footballs used in the playoff win over Indianapolis that sent them into the Super Bowl -- where they'll take on reigning champions Seattle. Probably not," Sherman said as selected Seahawks players met the press shortly after arriving in Phoenix.
Atlanta quarterback Matt Ryan threw the deciding touchdown pass to Jimmy Graham late in the fourth quarter as Team Irvin edged Team Carter 32-28 in the NFL Pro Bowl. The 45th edition of the all-star event on Sunday featured teams picked by Hall of Fame receivers Cris Carter and Michael Irvin. Lions quarterback Matthew Stafford took most of the snaps for Team Irvin, throwing for 316 yards and two touchdowns, including one of two caught by Broncos receiver Emmanuel Sanders.
(Reuters) - Matt Ryan threw the winning score on a fourth down to give Team Irvin a dramatic 32-28 victory over Team Carter in the NFL Pro Bowl on Sunday. In the second year of a revised format that saw Hall of Fame receivers Michael Irvin and Chris Carter draft teams, fans were treated to an exciting conclusion at the University of Phoenix Stadium in Glendale, Arizona. Team Irvin trailed 28-25 with a little more than three minutes remaining and faced a fourth-and-one on the goal line before Ryan found Jimmy Graham for the winning touchdown at the venue hosting next week's Super Bowl. On Team Carter's final possession they drove down to Irvin's 19-yard line but Andy Dalton's fourth down pass was incomplete.
Paul Millsap tallied 20 points and six assists as the Atlanta Hawks won their 16th straight game with a 112-100 victory over the Minnesota Timberwolves. Atlanta established a franchise record with their 15th consecutive win on Friday night and have won 29 of their last 31 NBA games. Al Horford tallied 19 points, six boards and four assists, while Jeff Teague added 15 points and seven helpers for Atlanta, who hasn't lost since being routed by the Milwaukee Bucks on December 26. The Hawks previously won 14 in a row from November 16 to December 14, 1993, the last time they won a division title.
By Steve Keating PHOENIX (Reuters) - With the arrival of the Seattle Seahawks on Sunday, Super Bowl week was officially underway but the spotlight remained on the mystery of the under-inflated footballs the New England Patriots used in the AFC title game. An hour after landing in Phoenix, a smiling Seattle coach Pete Carroll and six players huddled with the media at the team hotel and faced the inevitable question: what were their thoughts on 'deflategate'? The Seahawks could afford to be relaxed with the spotlight on the Patriots, their Super Bowl opponents, while the NFL investigates why illegal balls were used by New England during a blowout victory the Indianapolis Colts that clinched a Super Bowl berth.
Bill Haas rolled in some huge birdies and made some key pars on the back nine to beat five challengers by one shot and win the PGA Tour's Humana Challenge. This is great," said the 32-year-old Haas on Sunday. Haas shot a final round 67 to finish the week at 22-under-par 266 and win for the sixth time on the PGA Tour. Second-round leader Matt Kuchar finished with a five-under 67 and he ended tied for second along with Charley Hoffman (64), Brendan Steele (64), Park Sung-Joon (65) and Steve Wheatcroft (67) at 21-under 267.
(Reuters) - Bill Haas survived a scare at the final hole to earn a one-stroke victory over five players at the $5.7 million Humana Challenge in the California desert on Sunday. Haas took the sole lead with a 10-foot birdie at the 16th hole at the PGA West Palmer course at La Quinta on his way to his second victory in the event formerly known as the Bob Hope Classic. He carded a 67 to finish at 22-under-par 266 for his sixth PGA Tour victory, leaving the 32-year-old only three short of catching his father, Jay Haas.
(Adds details, quotes) Jan 25 (Reuters) - Bill Haas survived a scare at the final hole to earn a one-stroke victory over five players at the $5.7 million Humana Challenge in the California desert on Sunday. Haas took the sole lead with a 10-foot birdie at the 16th hole at the PGA West Palmer course at La Quinta on his way to his second victory in the event formerly known as the Bob Hope Classic. He carded a 67 to finish at 22-under-par 266 for his sixth PGA Tour victory, leaving the 32-year-old only three short of catching his father, Jay Haas.
The Detroit Pistons top scorer Brandon Jennings will likely miss the remainder of the season with a torn left Achilles tendon, the NBA team said on Sunday. The Pistons point guard was injured during Saturday's contest against Milwaukee. The six-year veteran left the Pistons' 101-86 loss late in the third quarter with what the team initially said was a left leg injury. Jennings leads the Pistons with averages of 15.4 points and 6.6 assists per game.
(Reuters) - New Major League Baseball commissioner Rob Manfred wants to increase participation in the sport among America’s youth and modernize the game without interfering with its history and traditions. MLB’s former chief operating officer, Manfred, 56, takes over the top post from Bud Selig, who stepped down after 22 years as commissioner.
By Steve Keating PHOENIX (Reuters) - From domestic violence to deflated footballs, scandal and controversy have hung over the National Football League this season but no matter how dark the clouds it never rains on the Super Bowl parade. North America's most popular sport has seen as many hits off the field as on it during a turbulent 2014-15 campaign but marches on toward next Sunday's highly anticipated championship game between the Seattle Seahawks and New England Patriots. Alleged skullduggery surrounding the Patriots use of deflated footballs in a blowout of the Indianapolis Colts in the AFC title game has been an unwanted distraction during the run in to Super Bowl week but the hotel rooms are full and private jets pack Phoenix area airports, unloading their cargo of A-listers and high-rollers ready for a week of VIP partying. "The fact is Americans just love football," George Belch, marketing professor at San Diego State University told Reuters.
A member of the Eastern Michigan University women's basketball team and another university student died on Sunday in a head-on car crash near campus in Ypsilanti Township, officials said. Shannise Heady, 21, a forward with the team, was driving a car that crossed the center line and struck another vehicle shortly before 1 a.m. local time, said Derrick Jackson, a spokesman for the Washtenaw County Sheriff's Office. Jordan Hopkins, 23, was also killed. Heady, a junior, joined the Eastern Michigan basketball team after transferring from Seton Hall University, according the Eastern Michigan website.
(Reuters) - Phil Mickelson has been a little rusty with his usually renowned short game in his first PGA Tour event in four months and he squandered the chance to shoot a low score at the Humana Challenge with some untidy play on Saturday. Though the American left-hander piled up eight birdies in the third round, he also carded four bogeys to finish with a four-under-par 68 on the Palmer Private course at PGA West. "The little nuances of getting the ball in the hole have been slightly off but it was a day today that could have been really low," Mickelson told Golf Channel after finishing at 11-under 205, six strokes off the tournament lead. "But I am looking forward to tomorrow's round and getting that one more round under my belt of competitiveness and see if I can get it all to kind of fire." Five-times major winner Mickelson has not competed on the PGA Tour since he withdrew from the BMW Championship after two rounds in September, saying he wanted to rest for the Ryder Cup that was played later that month.
A New England Patriots internal investigation shows the NFL club did nothing wrong in the controversy over football inflation levels in a playoff victory, coach Bill Belichick said Saturday. "Deflategate" has overshadowed New England's 45-7 romp over visiting Indianapolis last week to book a Super Bowl berth against Seattle after a league probe showed the Patriots used under-inflated balls in the first half of the game, raising concerns of deliberate cheating. "I believe now 100 percent I have personally and we as an organization have followed every rule to the letter," Belichick said. The NFL is looking into how balls lost air between a pre-kickoff exam by officials and half-time of the playoff, while Belichick says that the team's look into the issue found balls can lose enough air to become outside NFL guidelines without tampering.
Erik Compton, a runner-up at last year's US Open, fired a five-under par 67 to grab a share of the lead after Saturday's third round of the US PGA Tour Humana Challenge. In a tournament that uses three courses in the California desert, two-time heart transplant recipient Compton finished his round on the PGA West Nicklaus course level after 54 holes with fellow Americans Bill Haas, Justin Thomas and Michael Putnam on 17-under 199. Matt Kuchar, who led most of the day, made bogeys at 17 and 18 to shoot a one-under 71 on the Palmer course and stumble back into a share of second on 200 with fellow Americans Ryan Palmer, Steve Wheatcroft and Scott Pinckney.
(Reuters) - Overnight leader Matt Kuchar surprisingly dropped three shots in his last four holes to finish the third round of the $5.7 million Humana Challenge one stroke off the pace at La Quinta on Saturday. Two ahead and seemingly cruising on another gorgeous day of dazzling sunshine in the California desert, Kuchar bogeyed the 15th, 17th and the last for a one-under-par 71 on the Palmer Private course at PGA West, one of three co-hosting venues. Five-times major winner Phil Mickelson, making his first appearance on the 2014-15 PGA Tour, mixed eight birdies with four bogeys for a 68 to finish at 11 under. "Not at all the way I wanted to finish," Kuchar, who had led by one shot after the second round, told Golf Channel.
Overnight leader Matt Kuchar surprisingly dropped three shots in his last four holes to finish the third round of the $5.7 million Humana Challenge one stroke off the pace at La Quinta on Saturday. Two ahead and seemingly cruising on another gorgeous day of dazzling sunshine in the California desert, Kuchar bogeyed the 15th, 17th and the last for a one-under-par 71 on the Palmer Private course at PGA West, one of three co-hosting venues. Five-times major winner Phil Mickelson, making his first appearance on the 2014-15 PGA Tour, mixed eight birdies with four bogeys for a 68 to finish at 11 under. "Not at all the way I wanted to finish," Kuchar, who had led by one shot after the second round, told Golf Channel.