Darryl Dawkins

As the basketball world mourns the passing of Darryl Dawkins, the tributes are filled with stories about how his oversized personality made him one of the game's most distinctive and memorable players.

Dawkins was the first high school player selected in the first round of the NBA draft. That was in 1975 when the 76ers took him fifth overall. The next player to be drafted directly out of high school was Kevin Garnett -- in 1995.

He shattered two backboards with his thunderous dunks in 1979, which led to the development of the breakaway rims that are now commonplace even in school gyms.

He was also an original with his naming of dunks and riffing of rhymes during interviews.

But perhaps the greatest examples of Dawkins' impact and legacy come from the music world.

Stevie Wonder gave him the nickname "Chocolate Thunder," which proved even blind people could appreciate just how unique he was.

Kurtis Blow, in his classic 1984 rap song "Basketball," name-checks 22 players. Twenty-one are in the Hall of Fame. Dawkins isn't, and with career averages of 12.0 points and 6.1 rebounds, he never will be. But being immortalized in a set of lyrics with fellow big men Wilt Chamberlain, Bill Russell, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar and Willis Reed says it all about the sheer force and magnitude that came with just being Darryl Dawkins.

Just like I'm the King on the microphone
So is Dr. J and Moses Malone

I used to go to dinner, and then take the girl
To see Tiny play against Earl The Pearl
And Wilt, Big O and Jerry West
To play Basketball at its very best

Basketball has always been my thing
I like Magic, Bird and Bernard King
And number 33, my man Kareem
Is the center on my starting team

Clyde, Rick Barry and Pistol Pete
Now these players could never be beat
Isiah and Iceman too
Just give 'em the ball and then you chalk up two

Dantley and Wilkins are on the scene
And Ralph Sampson is really mean
Bill Russell didn't take no junk
And Darryl Dawkins got a monster dunk

Tell me, were you in the joint?
The night Wilt scored a 100 points
Or when Celtics won titles back-to-back
And didn't give nobody, no kind of slack

Or when Dr. J shook the whole damn team
With moves that came right out of a dream
Or when, Willis Reed stood so tall
Playing D with desire, it's basketball

MLB

With the regular season entering its final stretch, Major League Baseball's rule changes to speed up the game have had time to take root.

And the results are in: The small fixes have worked, if only moderately.

According to the league, average game times have dropped by eight minutes from 2014 to this season -- the biggest one-year decline since 1963. Major League Baseball games now last an average of 2 hours, 54 minutes, according to The New York Times.

That might open the door to even more changes being tested out in the minor leagues. In the majors, the league focused on a between-innings clock to control the amount of time between the last out of one half-inning and the first pitch of the next.

Hitters, meanwhile, are required to keep at least one foot in the batter's box outside of specific circumstances that move them outside of the zone.

In the minors, a pitching clock is currently used to keep pitches occurring at a steady pace. That has dropped game times even more, with some leagues seeing averages around two hours, 40 minutes -- even faster, in some cases.

Game speed has become more pressing of an issue as the sport works to maintain the interest of younger fans -- particularly those with more distractions and shorter attention spans.

And it is a necessary change, said Pat O’Conner, the chief executive for the minor leagues, more formally known as the National Association of Professional Baseball Leagues.

"Pace is important," said the chief executive of the minor leagues, to the NYT. "We're dealing with a clientele now that their whole life is about pace."

So far, the changes are small enough that many fans might not even notice the new rules dictating pacing changes. But those incremental strides are important to a league that is looking to adapt to the times -- and to the demands of its fans.

Tags:
Baseball, MLB

ThePostGame

ThePostGame is partnering with the U.S. Olympic Committee to host a panel at South By Southwest in March. It will serve as a preview to the Summer Games in Rio, and several Olympic athletes and USOC CMO Lisa Baird will participate.

But we won't be selected unless we get your votes. Please click here to vote for us. (Then tell your friends.)

Held annually in Austin, SXSW is scheduled for March 11-20 with sessions for interactive, music and film.

Thanks very much for your support of ThePostGame.

Tags:
qdoba, SXSW

Ronda Rousey is larger than life.

Just check out the 20-foot wall mural that artist Jonas Never created in Venice Beach, California, where Rousey lives. Located near Clutch, a Mexican restaurant on Lincoln Boulevard, this depiction of Rousey captures her beauty and toughness together, Never says.

Here's more from Never about why he was inspired to paint Rousey:

This text will be replaced

Never's previous sports pieces include a tribute to the late Stuart Scott of ESPN and the Dodgers:

Stuart Scott Mural

Dodgers Mural

NFL coaches want high-intensity practices. Sometimes that intensity boils over into unwanted outbursts.

Todd Bowles

But even for professional football players, the rate of fistfighting among NFL training camps has raised eyebrows and drawn plenty of unwanted attention. The New York Jets' scuffle that saw IK Enemkpali break Geno Smith's jaw is the most famous fight, and the one with the most serious results, but it's hardly the only outbreak -- or even the first in this year's training camp.

Before Smith and Enemkpali, Cam Newton got into a fight at Panthers' training camp -- one that didn't cause any injuries, fortunately.

But training camp fights have seemed to pick up since teams began organizing practice sessions with other franchises. Amid the excitement that he seems likely to make a regular-season roster, Philadelphia quarterback Tim Tebow also allegedly pulled apart players from both the Eagles and Ravens who started fighting during a workout.

More recently, the St. Louis Rams and Dallas Cowboys had members of their team brawl during an organized inter-squad practice. Before them, the Texans and Redskins fought.

It's now a surprise when a team hasn't made unglamorous headlines for their bad behavior in practice.

There are factors that can make training camp particularly ripe for fighting. As players compete to make rosters and earn playing time, competition is high. Players are working out in high heats and getting into football shape.

In some cases, such as the conflict between Smith and Enemkpali, drama from the long offseason can spill over into the workplace. And then some players simply value a little fight, thinking it shows team toughness and grit.

But there's a different between occasional frustration boiling over and today's state of the NFL, where fights are starting to seem commonplace. Whether coaches are struggling to lead their players, or whether players simply don't care about the consequences of fighting -- if any are applied -- is tough to say.

It's been a year since the NFL was rocked by domestic violence scandals headlined by Ray Rice. Twelve months later, the league's violence issue seems alive and well.

Nearly two years ago, quarterback Kain Colter began trying to unionize the Northwestern football team. This week, the long legal saga ended when the National Labor Relations Board ruled against the bid. The process was filled with confusion, mischaracterizations and hurt feelings. I was a junior at Northwestern when Colter's campaign began. Here's an overview that hopefully brings some clarity and context to a complex story:

On Wednesday, Sept. 25, 2013, I rolled out of bed, chugged a cup of coffee, shaved and jumped on the shuttle to Ryan Field. Northwestern was in the midst of the most exciting two-week period in Evanston since the 1996 Rose Bowl. The Wildcats were coming off a 10-win season, including a victory in the Gator Bowl against Mississippi State. They opened this season 4-0. The Oct. 5 homecoming game against Ohio State was selected for ABC primetime coverage. ESPN's College GameDay followed suit shortly thereafter, announcing its first trip to Evanston since 1995.

Kain Colter Pitch

Kain Colter was the face of Northwestern at the time. He was in his second year as "Quarterback 1A" of head coach Pat Fitzgerald's two-QB system, but there was no denying he was the most dynamic player on the team. As a junior, he had 894 rushing yards, 872 passing yards and 169 receiving yards.

During Colter's media availability this day, Teddy Greenstein of the Chicago Tribune immediately asked the quarterback about the All Players United (APU) wristband he wore during the Wildcats' 35-21 win against Maine the previous weekend. I had seen a couple tweets about Colter's wristband over the weekend but had to scramble on my phone to figure out what Greenstein was talking about. Here is how I know I shaved that morning:

I wrote about Colter's APU chat in my practice notes for the now-retired Northwestern blog Lake The Posts. In it, Colter said of APU: "It's a group that I started getting involved with in early summer Basically every week, we have a conference call with players from around the nation representing a bunch of different conferences, different schools. The leader of that is Ramogi Huma, who played at UCLA."

It all seemed pretty innocent at the time. Huma was a good guy from UCLA who was just trying to help some college kids fight for rights that he did not get as a college player. Colter also talked about injuries that day as he suffered his share the past two years.

Kain Colter APU

"There needs to be a guarantee that players aren’t stuck with medical bills after they leave with long-lasting injuries that they suffer from football," he said.

During Colter's Northwestern career, Fitzgerald referred to him as a "son" on multiple occasions. But on this day we saw the first major rift between them.

"I told him I was disappointed in him, not that he believes in the cause and not that he was taking a role in that but … what we try to do collectively is team focused," Fitz said.

Later, he added: "I'm fully in support of what he’s doing. I would just like it to be within the team structure."

Fitzgerald, a two-time national defensive player of the year as a Northwestern linebacker in the mid-90s, was right. Colter was not thinking about the team.

"This is bigger than Northwestern,” Colter said. “I love Northwestern, and I love my experience. I feel like people are making it me vs. Northwestern, us vs. the institution. It’s not that at all. It’s players coming together for a better cause."

Colter, Fitzgerald and Northwestern did not formally address APU to the media the rest of the season. On the day of the big Ohio State showdown, Colter was featured in a College GameDay piece on academics at Northwestern and Stanford:

Then against the No. 4 Buckeyes, Colter threw for 98 yards and had both a rushing and receiving touchdown. His questionable late fumble effectively ended Northwestern's shot at a near upset. The Buckeyes won 40-30 with a meaningless (except to gamblers) touchdown on the final play.

Northwestern lost the next six games. Critics will say Colter's APU nonsense put Northwestern in a downward spiral. But considering two losses came in overtime and one on a final-second Hail Mary, it could've been just bad luck. Colter suffered an upper-body injury on Senior Day, the second-to-last game of the season, and he was out for the finale, a win over Illinois.

Fast-forward to Jan. 28, 2014, when the College Athletes Players Association held its inaugural press conference at the Hyatt Regency Chicago. I always found that date to be a peculiar choice because it fell on Super Bowl XLVIII Media Day. Nearly all of the national sports media were in New York City while Colter and his new companions, CAPA President Huma, United Steelworkers President Leo W. Gerard and union national political director, Tim Waters, met with local and regional reporters.

It's just 15 miles between campus and the Hyatt, but I immediately felt like it was different world. We're not in Evanston anymore, Toto. Colter was decked out in a suit, not the familiar Northwestern Under Armour gear I was used to seeing him wear for interviews.

Kain Colter CAPA

But he still expressed the same views he did in the APU conversation four months earlier.

"The NFL has the NFLPA, the NBA has the NBAPA and now college athletes have the College Athletes Players Association," he said.

With the national spotlight on him, Colter was not wagging his finger at the lack of pay-for-play. His motives were always about injury insurance and the representation of players, and he reiterated this at the press conference.

Kain Colter Pat Fitzgerald

When he talked about the difficulties in balancing certain majors with football and the long practice hours that make it like more of a job than a school activity, Colter may have stretched the truth a bit.

I was around Northwestern football for four years, and I heard and saw some of what goes on at other programs. Northwestern caters to its football players and one could even argue that it babies them. Athletes pick classes before seniors, get provided with inordinate amounts of food and have paid employees available for injury, academic and mental health help. If a player has a class at 10 a.m. and practice ends at 9:30 a.m., that player is excused from having to do media interviews, so he can go to class.

As a broadcaster for the student radio station, WNUR, I made two plane trips with the team. Each time, I felt like I was being fed three meals in a one-hour flight as we got the same complimentary treatment as the players. Those two charters to Lincoln and Minneapolis are the most satisfying flights I have ever been on.

But talk to Fitzgerald for five minutes and he will educate you on how Northwestern football "prepares young men for life." The most recent Academic Progress Report program honored 15 of 19 Northwestern athletic teams with football being one of them.

Northwestern has it good. Hard to argue otherwise. If there was one mistake Huma made when putting his eggs in the Kain Colter basket, it was that Northwestern was the wrong place to pick a fight. Read the NLRB report for the details. Sometimes, Northwestern has freaking nap time!

Kain Colter Injury

Here is how ESPN.com Big Ten reporter (and Northwestern alum) Adam Rittenberg described the situation :

"The bottom line: It's hard to buy Northwestern as ground zero for this movement. Sure, Wildcats players have to make sacrifices and don't have the same college experiences as many of their classmates. But they also receive tremendous benefits, from the ridiculously expensive education to prime job connections in Chicago and elsewhere. Colter interned at Goldman Sachs last summer."

In the suburbs, Fitzgerald and athletic director Jim Phillips still were not sure what was going on. They saw their quarterback heralded as a leader in the media and tossed him rather upbeat responses.


Phillips said in a statement:

"We love and are proud of our students. Northwestern teaches them to be leaders and independent thinkers who will make a positive impact on their communities, the nation and the world. Today's action demonstrates that they are doing so.

"We are pleased to note that the Northwestern students involved in this effort emphasized that they are not unhappy with the University, the football program or their treatment here, but are raising the concerns because of the importance of these issues nationally."

Northwestern is highly competitive. Computer science majors think they will create the next Facebook, and engineers think they are going to Mars. In the case of unionization, Kain Colter thought he was creating the first form of college athletes' representation.

But his initiative alarmed many alumni. They saw Colter and the team's signing of the union cards as a spoiled mindset. They saw players taking for granted the golden opportunity to play Big Ten football and study at a world-class university. Most important, they saw the entire scenario as a means of giving Northwestern negative publicity.

Pat Fitzgerald

After the press conference, my first thought was who is next? When Colter put on his APU wristband in September against Maine, players at Georgia and George Tech wore them the same day. Colter was now going into this alone and Northwestern was the only jersey on the table. And as we learned as the story developed, the unionization effort was only for private schools like Northwestern. Public universities were exempt.

In February 2014, as CAPA and Northwestern prepared to go to battle in front of the National Labor Relations Board, from my room I could hear university administrators groaning. Everyone -- administrators, coaches, players, even Colter -- knew Northwestern treated its players with more respect than nearly every school in the country. Everyone also understood the leverage that Colter had and he was capitalizing on the growing general vibe that college players are mistreated. Northwestern had to prepare arguments for a case it felt was a waste of time.

ESPN legal analyst Lester Munson wrote in anticipation of the Chicago NLRB hearing: "The university will suggest that the issues raised by the players are being discussed 'at the national level' and are 'outside the purview of Northwestern.'"

Huma, of course, pushed the bigger picture, telling CNN during the hearing: "These guys at Northwestern are really an inspiration, not just to other football and basketball players and athletes, but these are young men standing together, 70 to 80 guys and they're taking on a multibillion industry because they know it's the right thing to do."

I understand why Huma went about it this way and I understand what he wanted. But that comment is bull.


Kain Colter got a bunch of his teammates to sign cards the same way the middle school student council president has everyone sign his or her campaign petition in the cafeteria. It seemed like the right thing to do. Toss Kain a bone. It's something he is passionate about and it'll make us look good. It probably will not amount to anything.

This was not 70 to 80 guys standing together fighting the university, much less a multibillion industry. It was Colter, who took Northwestern Professor Nick Dorzweiler's "Field Studies in the Modern Workplace" class and felt empowered to fight for change in college football.

Casting the storyline as Northwestern players taking it to "The Man" changed the vibe -- and it was wrong.

Fitzgerald had to testify against CAPA, which only widened the divide. The coach was bulletproof, as he is one of the rare Division I coaches who had virtually nothing to hide in such a hearing. But one challenging question CAPA lawyer Gary Kohlman gave him was about a Chicago Sun-Times article that quoted Fitz as saying being a student-athlete is a "full-time job."

Fitzgerald fended this off by saying, "It's a full-time job from a responsibility standpoint."

The same day Fitzgerald testified, then-rising senior Northwestern captain Brandon Vitabile was the first player other than Colter to give a statement since the union cards were signed:

"Northwestern University, specifically the athletics department and the football program, has given us every opportunity within their power to succeed, not only on the field, but in the classroom and after graduation. We could not be happier, nor could we ask for more from our staff, coaches, and administrators. They have always acted with our best interests in mind. We firmly believe that Northwestern University is one of the best places in the country to earn an education and compete as an elite athlete."

Jim Phillips Morton Schapiro

While Huma and Colter probably cringed, the remaining players on the roster saw their little protest blow out of proportion. They began to express their true colors and loyalty to their coach as opposed to the soon-to-be-graduating Colter.

On Feb. 26, 2014, I sounded off about the misconception that the union debate was about the players versus Northwestern. The argument needed to be about CAPA versus the NCAA:

This is not about Northwestern. This is about Colter and his Northwestern teammates coming together as leaders for an NCAA revolution. Colter is trying to be the catalyst for change across the entire NCAA system. He is the right spokesman for CAPA based on his intelligence, leadership and injury history. Northwestern is not the right example of an unjust football program.

I am perhaps most shocked at the rest of the NCAA's failure to jump on Colter's bandwagon. CAPA's argument will be ignited when another NCAA program or player jumps on Colter's side. Considering CAPA is the strongest organization to sprout in fighting for college players' rights, I scratch my head over the lack of support.

Kain Colter Teammates

The whole thing seemed like one big show. Both sides knew the relationship between Northwestern and its players was favorable, but Colter had to make his point and the school had to show him respect. As SB Nation's Rodger Sherman (and founder of the Northwestern blog Sippin' On Purple) wrote on that same day, neither Kain Colter nor Pat Fitzgerald was the villain.

Having 18- to 23-year-olds run around all week, bashing heads and spending their weekends on national television without representation is skeptical, despite the scholarship money and education. When Chicago NLRB regional director Peter Sung Ohr ruled in March 2014 that Wildcat football players qualify as employees of the university and can unionize, I saw the decision as a greater annoyance to Northwestern, but confirmation that other schools could join.

I wrote on March 26, 2014:

But it will not be long before unionization is not just viewed as a Players vs. Northwestern issue.

The floodgates are open and the tide has only led to success thus far. Players have dipped their feet in. Now, the water is safe to swim in."

Northwestern Union Vote

But no one joined in after Colter. While the legal conversation shifted to Washington D.C. at the big-boy NLRB, Northwestern hosted the union vote on April 25. By this time, Vitabile's statement foreshadowed the vote. As numerous outlets reported around that day, the general vibe was that themajority of players would vote against the union. With Colter out the door, no players were willing to step up and take his place. The team has its leaders but none felt strongly enough about Colter's cause to challenge the athletic department and the university.

The public will never know the outcome of the vote, but there is not a soul on the football team who thinks it would have passed.

My favorite part of this whole story is that in April, the same month as the vote, Northwestern put a picture of Colter on its "Become A Tour Guide" poster. How could anyone in the university administration see and not realize this was a bad idea? It proves Colter was the right person for the job at the wrong school. He was called "every publicist's dream" the day before he put on the APU wristband for the first time. He even modeled at Northwestern.


After the vote, Colter signed with the Vikings as an undrafted free agent. While preparing for NFL life, he also appeared on The Daily Show to make his case. Although Colter dons his purple Northwestern uniform (with the Gator Bowl patch from the 2012 season), not once does he ever specifically mention challenging Northwestern. His whole argument is about college football players in general.


Colter went to Vikings training camp and spent the season on the team's practice squad. An employee for the first time, Colter spent the year fighting to maintain a paycheck.

In the meantime, Northwestern football went on with unionization in the background. The players knew they had voted a union down and focused on football. There was no direct talk of unionization on the Northwestern beat in the fall, as the team went 5-7 for the second consecutive year (probably more due to the lack of Colter's dynamic skills in the offense than distraction from unionization).

On Monday, the cloud was finally cleared from Northwestern and its players. With the union being shot down, Northwestern is no longer attached to CAPA's fight, and the union vote will never be revealed.

Kain Colter Vikings

Fitzgerald could go back to being his players' biggest fan:

"Our young men chose to attend Northwestern to compete on the field at the highest level, earn a world-class education and prepare for the rest of their lives," he said in a statement. "They have displayed maturity beyond their years through this process, and the experience has unquestionably brought us closer together as a football family. This group posted the highest cumulative GPA in program history during the 2014-15 academic year, earned a record 38 Academic All-Big Ten honors last season and is excited to return to the field this fall to play the game they love and compete for a Big Ten championship." 

The fight for college athletes' rights is far from over. It is important to recognize CAPA, with its focus on giving players a voice and protecting injuries -- not pay-for-play -- is a well-intentioned organization.

The air has thickened since Colter wore that APU wristband back in September 2013. Back then, the natural reaction was to deem the idea of a college athletes' union ludicrous. Two years later, the support for college players has increased. The improving of college athletes lives, as employees or not, is inevitable. A union at Northwestern just wasn't the best example.

Colter told Rohan Nadkarni in a tremendous piece for Deadspin that his relationship with his alma mater was virtually destroyed the past two years. But he added, "I like to think time heals all."

I got both positive and negative reviews when I sent out this tweet Tuesday evening:


ESPN's Darren Rovell, a Northwestern alum, was among those who disagreed:


In my mind, Colter, Fitz, the players, Northwestern administrators, everyone has been putting on an actor's mask in this entire process. Colter realizes the lucky opportunity he had playing football and studying at Northwestern. The Northwestern side should understand Colter was trying to fight for all college players and not attack his school. It so happened that the way he went about it was really darn annoying for Northwestern's budget on lawyers.

Both sides can repair both their images by coming together. If Northwestern accepts Colter, it will show the administration is respecting Colter's voice. If Colter, who was waived by the Vikings in May, wants to actually continue with CAPA's push, and reconnect with his university, getting Northwestern onboard is likely to his benefit. Northwestern is progressive but it could not afford to be the only school to get pushed around by the unionization movement, and that is why it had to crush CAPA's efforts.

Kain Colter Catch

I am proud to be part of a university community that had the guts to go through both sides of this. However, both sides handled the debate immaturely at points and never shifted the conversation toward its main focus. CAPA felt the only way to make progress was for Colter to point out the flaws in Northwestern and try to win in court. This flowery argument was never going to hold up. Now, if he got a few players from other schools to help him go against the NCAA ... that would be a totally different game.

Huma and CAPA will rise again. They will probably mix public and private schools and programs with different backgrounds and histories. It will likely take an approach that isn't explicitly about a union so it can include public universities.

Colter, using Northwestern as his foil, made progress for the players, and he had the brain and charisma for activism. He just went to a school that treated him too darn well.

FIFA

As FIFA looks to reform its corrupt ways and install new leadership that doesn't run the organization as a crime operation, a candidate to lead the governing body is facing a probe over accusations of unethical payments to foreign countries.

Chung Mong-joon spent 17 years as a member of FIFA's executive committee before leaving the organization in 2011. During that time, he made payments to Haiti and Pakistan that he deemed "charitable donations" aimed to assist in disaster relief when earthquakes hit those countries.

As FIFA launches an investigation into whether the payments violated any laws or FIFA regulations, the South Korean billionaire issued a statement that defended the payments while slamming the investigation. Via Reuters: "We condemn this as a cynical and unethical effort by FIFA to misrepresent even charitable donations for political manipulation."

Chung was quick to attribute the spending to specific events that needed disaster relief, which means it's entirely plausible that the money was sent legally and with good intentions.

That's the good news for Chung. The bad news? It sounds like he's completely detached from what's going on with FIFA.

FIFA, as many know, is deep in the throes of a multi-national sting in which the United States seized more than $150 million in cash and assets, while indicting 14 officials. President Sepp Blatter, a notoriously stubborn man, made the decision to resign in the wake of the scandal.

Soccer

The current state of FIFA doesn't just validate cynicism -- it requires such a questioning approach. A good strategy to identifying and eliminating fraud within an organization is to be skeptical of any financial transactions, particularly the exact type that was the linchpin of so many fraudulent actions the past two decades.

As someone who wants to be elected president of FIFA as it tries to recover from years of institutional fraud, Chung, you would hope, should at least understand why the Ethics Committee is looking into his spending.

The fact that he sees due diligence in reviewing ethical practices as an "unethical" course of action is very concerning, and perhaps a greater red flag about the Hyundai executive than anything we concretely know about him to this point.

At the same time, Chung has reason to be skeptical of FIFA's motives with the investigation. In announcing his candidacy earlier this week, Chung slammed Blatter and UEFA head Michel Platini, who is also running for the FIFA presidency.

Blatter issued a statement that he was "disturbed" by Chung's criticism. Maybe that's because Chung's time as an executive committee member coincides with the peak of FIFA corruption, judging by the investigations that have since brought down so many of FIFA's influential members.

Chung believes Blatter will try to sabotage his campaign, and that may well be true. But where the candidate could assert himself as a stable presence in a chaotic FIFA debacle, he almost immediately turned to name-calling and an overly defensive stance.

Blatter's FIFA will not be the barometer for what's ethical and unethical, and Chung should know that. Instead of rising about the mess, he dove right in. For the next potential leader of FIFA, that's cause for concern.

Stephen Curry has a level head. He rarely gets rattled on the court and barely changes his expression from tipoff to crunch time. He never cares when people bash his daughter for being too cute and only kind of cares when anyone calls his mom hot.

On Tuesday, Curry finally popped. At least, he did on Twitter, where no one could actually hear him raise his voice.


Our PSA: Keep sports on the field of play. Let the NBA MVP and reigning champion enjoy his life with his family and stop tailing him for autographs. Whether the car was actually following Curry for an autograph or something more serious, safety is a concern.

Look what you did, person trailing the Curry car for 30 miles. You made Stephen mad. Do you know how hard it is to make Stephen Curry mad?

The tweet comes a few days after Curry played golf in Martha's Vineyard with his father, Dell Curry; Ray Allen; and President Barack Obama. Secret Service would have been useful.

It is getting real in New England. Fans have rallied behind Tom Brady during the Deflategate saga, but an almost-100-year-old woman in Worcester, Mass., just raised the bar.

She goes into her yard, throws a football and yells, "Free Tom Brady!"



Brady is appealing his four-game league suspension, and the case is currently in court. Brady has won four Super Bowl rings and three Super Bowl MVPs. Deflategate is only strengthening Brady's support from New England fans.

In a century of football, nothing has ever been like deflategate.

Donovan McNabb has a harsh truth to tell current NFL players: they helped select Roger Goodell as the next NFL commissioner. Now, Goodell is bringing down the hammer on Tom Brady to set a precedent. No decision by the commissioner is going to be unanimously-embraced, and Goodell is taking flak for penalizing the high-profile Patriots. But in the former Pro Bowl QB's eyes, they don't have the right to complain about a situation they created.

Jens Lehmann

In 2004, the German National Football Team got a new coach, who came from the United States. Or, at least, that's what it felt like when former German star Jurgen Klinsmann put the squad through training.

After 17 professional seasons in Europe, Klinsmann retired in 1998. Soon after, he moved to the United States, where he eventually played one final season in 2003 for the Orange County Blue Star, a team in the fourth-tier USL Premier Development League.

When Klinsmann came back to Europe to coach the German National Team from 2004-2006, he made the blasphemous decision to ship over American help. He brought Athletes' Performance founder and president Mark Verstegen onto his coaching staff, and for the 2006 World Cup, he used Verstegen's American-based company to train his team.

"In America, there's a different fitness approach applied to the player," says Jens Lehmann, the first-choice goalkeeper of the 2006 German World Cup team. "Americans are really, really strong."

Lehmann remembers the German team being met with a method of fitness they had not experienced before. The Athletes' Performance trainers worked with football, basketball, baseball and hockey stars back in the United States. They challenged the German players to improve their strength.

U.S. soccer was not a threat to Europe's powers in 2006. The U.S. National Team still has a way to go to compete for a World Cup title, but it has come a long way since 2006. A quarterfinal appearance at the 2002 World Cup was a surprise and a group stage exit in 2006 did not validate the performance.

However, two straight World Cup knockout stage appearances, increased individual success on European club teams and a strengthening MLS have boosted the U.S. profile in the soccer world.

Having Klinsmann, the 1994 German Footballer of the Year, on the sidelines as coach, also helps (Klinsmann introduced Athletes' Performance to the USMNT in 2011).

Jurgen Klinsmann

Lehmann was in the U.S. this week to promote Fox Sports as Bundesliga's global broadcasting partner in the 2015-16 in the United States and elsewhere. Along with Lothar Matthäus, Lehmann is traveling from New York City to Mexico City, Rio de Janeiro, Kuala Lumpur and Singapore from Aug. 11 to Aug. 16, as part of the Bundesliga Legends Tour.

One decade after Klinsmann brought the Athletes' Performance staff to Germany, Lehmann sees Americans using their strength to their advantage.

"They're strong and great athletes," he says. "Now, they just need to learn about the technical aspects of the game to mix in with that."

Along with the national team, Lehmann spent his 23-year career with Schalke 04, AC Milan, Borussia Dortmund, Arsenal and VfB Stuttgart. While with Arsenal, Lehmann played with Ballon d'Or winner Thierry Henry. Henry's 2010 move to the MLS' New York Red Bulls made him the second mega-name to move from Europe to the U.S. after David Beckham.

Beckham, Henry and subsequent stars have helped both raise the public image of MLS and the level of play. When asked if the MLS could compete with European leagues in the future, he tipped his cap to the the American league.

Clint Dempsey

"Of course it can," he said. "It depends on the behavior of supporters. If they accept the league, it has a chance to grow and compete. If people around the world love the sport, why not in the U.S.?"

In its 19th season in 2014, MLS set an attendance record with an average of 19,149 fans per game.

One way Lehmann sees even more U.S. fans catching onto soccer is by watching the game in European leagues such as the Bundesliga.

"I feel good that they will appreciate it," Lehmann says. "They can see a different pace in Europe. [The Bundesliga] is a great product and the excitement is quite big. Also, the [disparity] is not big. Any team can beat any other team. There's depth. Americans will like that."

Fox International Channels' partnership with DFL Deutsche Fußball was officially announced on August 1. The season kick-off match between Bayern Munich and Hamburger SV on Aug. 14 will be broadcasted around the world on Fox Sports. The deal includes 80 countries and territories on four continents and gives Fox the rights to all 306 Bundesliga matches in each of the contract's five seasons.

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