October 31, 2013

Associated Press

 

PHILADELPHIA (AP) — Say goodbye, A.I. Allen Iverson officially retired from the NBA on Wednesday, ending a 15-year career during which he won the 2001 MVP award and four scoring titles. Iverson retired in Philadelphia where he had his greatest successes and led the franchise to the 2001 NBA finals.

Iverson says he’ll be a Sixer “until the day I die.”

The 6-foot guard had not played in an NBA game since Feb. 20, 2010, and had a brief pro stint in Turkey. He also played for Denver, Detroit and Memphis. Iverson scored 24,368 points and was an 11-time All-Star.

Former Georgetown coach John Thompson and former Sixers great Julius Erving were in attendance for the ceremony.

Iverson says he always thought retirement would be a “tragic” day. But he says he’s happy in his personal life and at peace with his decision.

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October 31, 2013

Associated Press

ATLANTIC CITY, N.J. — Retiring his “The Executioner” nickname in favor of the “The Alien,” Bernard Hopkins tried to give Karo Murat a close encounter of the knockout kind.

With his first KO in almost a decade within reach, the 48-year-old Hopkins turned his title defense with Murat into a brawl, and retained his share of the light heavyweight championship with a unanimous decision Saturday night.

Out of this world

Hopkins walked to the ring in a green mask with black eyes, and a cape, attire straight out of a campy sci fi flick. He had the “The Alien” emblazoned on the green waistband of his black trunks. “The alien don’t get old,” Hopkins said.

Hopkins (54-6-2) was dominant in his most convincing — and entertaining — bout in at least a decade. He turned the later rounds into his own personal mission to score his first knockout win since beating Oscar De La Hoya in September 2004 — 15 fights ago.

He battered Murat and busted open the challenger with a series of rights to the face to help successfully defend his championship at Boardwalk Hall.

Hopkins won 119-108, 119-108, 117-110.

A tought fight

“I really wanted the knockout, but he was tough,” Hopkins said. “You know you’ve got to take some punches. Yeah, I have a little bit of blood on me but this is what they want to see. They wanted to see the knockout, so I took some shots.”

Already the oldest fighter to win a major championship, Hopkins wants to keep fighting until he’s 50. Up next, he’d like a date with Floyd Mayweather Jr. in the spring — when Hopkins would be 49.

“We’re going to do everything we can to get the biggest possible fight,” Golden Boy Promotions CEO Richard Schaefer said.

The Philadelphia fighter also had the crowd on his side, with chants of “B-Hop! B-Hop!” echoing through the arena with each right hand in the late rounds.

He also heard encouragement from undefeated Philly fighter Danny Garcia, groomed as the next big star, who screamed “throw that right hand into the body! All day, every day!” from press row.

Hopkins, who weighed in at 172 1/2 pounds, pretty much did that as he pounded away at Murat.

Cat and mouse

He smiled and shook his head no after absorbing some blows in the third round. Hopkins kissed Murat on the back of his head coming out of a clinch in the fifth. He also taunted Murat’s corner late in the fight, barking at them to stop the fight.

“I’m just glad he brought the dog out of me,” Hopkins said. “I saw this guy was all cut up and I’m just going to keep beating him. They didn’t listen.”

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October 31, 2013

NFL.COM

 

When Jay Z established Roc Nation Sports and aligned himself with New York Jets rookie quarterback Geno Smith and New York Giants wide receiver Victor Cruz, it was natural to wonder when Sean “Diddy” Combs would throw his hat into the sports ring.

Wait, no one wondered that? Well, Diddy thrust himself into the national sports conversation anyway this week when he told Bloomberg TV that he plans to own an NFL team one day.

“I love sports, but I’m more of a owner type of guy, so I have aspirations to become — which it will happen — I will become the first African-American majority owner,” Diddy said. “Not having a small stake but actually owning an NFL team. I think it’s time for that. A majority of players that are in the NFL are African-American, but there are no African-American owners. So that's one of my dreams.”

Diddy told Bloomberg that people have asked him if he planned to start his own agency to rival Jay Z’s, but Diddy said he has no plans to represent athletes. His eyes solely are set on ownership.

“When I get the calls, ‘Well, we need to do Bad Boy Sports,’ I’m like, ‘No, that’s not my lane,’” Diddy said. “I stay in my lane. This is the lane that I want to do. And I’m just me; I do my own thing.”

Earlier this year, Forbes estimated Diddy’s net worth at $580 million.

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October 31, 2013

 

NEW ORLEANS – Tulane has some memorable surnames on its roster: Steven Broccoli, Kenny Welcome, Corey Redwine, Jordan Sullen, Fudge Van Hooser, and Nick Montana (son of Joe).

The coolest name, though, is Marley. Nico Marley, freshman linebacker, is the grandson of one of the greatest musicians who ever lived.

Nico looks a bit like Bob, who died in 1981, 15 years before Nico was born. “I think they look exactly alike,” says head coach Curtis Johnson. Nico does have a similarly calm complexion. He loves “Redemption Song” because it’s “soothing.”

On the field, however, “soothing” is not the word. Nico Marley, direct descendant of a man who sung to the world about peace and harmony, is nicknamed “The Missile.”

Tulane beat Tulsa on Saturday to win its sixth game – more than in any one season since 2002. One of the highlights was Marley coming out of nowhere to make a soaring sideline tackle that had both home and visiting fans oohing. Marley is third on the team in tackles even though he wasn’t supposed to play as a freshman.

“Flying around and getting to the ball,” is how Marley describes his style, adding that his father, Rohan, who played for Miami in the early ’90s, had a similar flair.

“His father was just a great player,” Johnson says, remembering a game during his time as wide receivers coach with San Diego State. “He beat us by himself.”

The Missile isn’t sure where the football gene came from; his grandfather loved soccer, but there wasn’t much gridiron talk in Jamaica. The music gene didn’t get passed down; Nico doesn’t play an instrument. “Wish I knew how,” he says.

He definitely knows how to play linebacker: the freshman is another recruiting trail victory for Johnson, the same evaluator who brought Marshall Faulk to San Diego State as a running back and found lightly regarded Ed Reed in St. Rose, La., was the only FBS coach to offer Marley a full ride. Marley is ­undersized at 5-foot-8 and it was hard to see the advantages of bringing him in until he showed up on campus and started laying people out.

The playing style reflects the coach, who is loud and effusive. During Saturday’s win here, which he would call “magnificent,” Johnson bolted nearly 15 yards outside the coach’s box until a referee gave him a sharp look and sent him back. Even a normal conversation with Johnson makes small talk feel like a pep talk.

“He’s changing the attitude,” says Marley. “Even though we haven’t had a winning program, we’re expected to win. He’s upbeat, positive, a real great coach.”

How upbeat? Johnson said winning the team’s sixth game of the season was better than winning the Super Bowl as an assistant for the Saints. Johnson was so charged about getting the job with the Green Wave two years ago that he drove from Saints’ offices to Tulane’s campus after work every night to focus on recruiting and staffing. He says two and a half hours of sleep was a good night for him.

“I got some speeding tickets nobody wanted to pay for,” he says. “It was close to double digits.”

Unsurprisingly, Johnson doesn’t listen to much Bob Marley. “I’m a rhythm and blues guy,” he says.

He is a fan of the grandson, though, and compares Marley to Reed in demeanor if not play. “These guys, they have that conviction,” Johnson says. “They are smarter than their years. I call it ‘Grown-man sense.’ That intangible that they know more than you think.”

This 6-2 start – only a decade after Tulane nearly gave up its Division I status – has revved up the campus enough that school president Scott Cowen has dyed his hair green and blue. But it’s something more sobering that has made perhaps the biggest difference for the team. Devon Walker, the safety who was paralyzed in a game last season and nearly lost his life on the field, is now giving all the speeches before home games. He sits in his wheelchair on the sideline and smiles and nods as players walk past. They come off after big plays and touch his hand.

“He’s an inspiration,” says Marley. “It really gets to me. Everything he says is real and from the heart. He makes me play harder.”

Whether it’s Walker, Johnson, or Marley, the collection of names is working. The Green Wave will almost certainly be playing at Christmastime for only the fourth time since 1980. Only a year removed from a two-win season, the name Tulane no longer means losing.

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October 31, 2013

By Edward Rice, III

LAWT Contributing Writer

 

At the age of 20, Darrell Wallace Jr. has only been licensed to drive in his home state of North Carolina for four years. However, he’s been racing cars since he was nine years old. Like most adolescents, Wallace put pedal to the metal long before he ever set foot in a DMV, since technically racing doesn’t require a driver’s license. Now, with more than ten years of racing experience under his belt, Wallace could easily be mistaken for pro and ironically this young driver has barely scratched the surface of his greatness.

This past weekend, Wallace hinted at his greatness and simultaneously launched himself into the history books with a win at NASCAR’s Kroger 200 Camping World Truck Series (NCWTS) race at Martinsville Speedway in Virginia. His victory made him the second African-American driver to win a NASCAR national series race since Wendell Scott accomplished the feat 50 years prior in 1963. And according to the 2011 NASCAR Rookie of the Year, he had some heavenly assistance from Wendell. “He (Wendell Scott) was watching over me this race. It all goes to him,” exclaimed Wallace on Saturday. “It will take me to tomorrow to think about everything that is set in place, but to be the first since him—it’s outstanding.”

Last Saturday’s win is a long way from the days Wallace raced go-carts with his dad when he was 9 years old, but it was that experience that sparked his initial interest in racing. “My dad bought a Harley-Davidson and he wanted to make it look good and get it all fixed up,” he explained through a heavy southern drawl. “A friend of ours, the guy that did it for us, he raced go-carts and we became really good friends and he invited us out to one of his races one year. We went out and watched and got hooked and the next thing you know, the next weekend, we were racing go-carts.”

After four years of racing go-carts, Wallace was ready to move on to bigger things and by the age of 13, he had transitioned into racing full model vehicles. Currently, he is in his rookie season driving for Kyle Busch Motorsports on the truck circuit. He is the fourth full-time black driver in one of NASCAR’s top three national series. “I don’t call myself a professional, I’m just a kid that likes to go out there and race,” Wallace says humbly.  But with over 100 wins and with Saturday’s win, people are taking notice. “You know we’ve seen great things out of Darrell this year and he’s really come a long ways throughout the season,” claims Kyle Busch, owner Kyle Busch Motorsports.

Saturday’s win was not only a huge win for Wallace but it’s also a win for NASCAR. “NASCAR’s initiative these days is to change the sport, for the better and try to bring in a new face—no matter if it’s the younger generation, people of color: African-Americans, Hispanics, women, anything—it doesn’t matter,” explains Wallace. “They’re trying to change it all and make it more diverse. You can watch a football game and see all walks of life there; racing is a southern sport and you know it’s a predominately white sport and we’re trying to change that. So by me going out there and winning races and running up front, that attracts new faces to the sport and that’s a key goal of mine.”

By his own estimates Wallace is about three to four years away from the Sprint Cup series races such as Indianapolis, Daytona and Talladega. On the other hand, if he keeps his current pace, he is far closer to winning many new fans and broadening racing’s audience in the not so distant future.

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