Odell Beckham Jr. continues to practice the way he plays. Even at the Pro Bowl. Beckham's insane one-handed snag for a touchdown against the Cowboys this season is considered by some to be the greatest catch in NFL history, and he says plays like that don't happen by accident.

"Catching the ball with one hand is something you just have to practice, because the opportunity sometimes presents itself and you want to be prepared," Beckham told ESPN New York during the season.

Here's Beckham warming up on the field Sunday in Arizona before the Pro Bowl. In particular, check out the backhanded grab just before the 1:00 mark of the clip:

Beckham helped Team Irvin beat Team Carter 32-28 by making five receptions for 89 yards, including this catch against Antonio Cromartie:

As one of the greatest safeties in NFL history, Ronnie Lott is understandably biased about the importance of the position, but he backs his case with some examples that are tough to argue against.

"To win a Super Bowl, you better have some defensive backs," Lott says. "And if you don't believe it, go back and look at the history of the game. If you look at the history of the game, and you examine who played in the secondaries of all the Super Bowl teams, there were some incredible athletes."

Check out this interview to see which players Lott cites by name:

Based on Lott's premise, the Seahawks might have the edge on the Patriots in Super Bowl XLIX. Both of Seattle's starting safeties, Earl Thomas and Kam Chancellor, were Pro Bowl selections this season. Devin McCourty and Patrick Chung of New England were not.

Today's tennis stars aren't preoccupied by building muscle and increasing the power behind their rackets. Most of them are focused on speed, agility and their movement across the court.

That has inspired a curious trend: Male tennis players appear to be getting skinnier.

In the modern sports world, weigh loss is something of an oddity. Professional basketball, baseball and hockey players value muscle mass, and many young players enter those leagues in need of adding weight to improve their performance.

In tennis, though, almost the opposite seems to be happening. According to a story in The Wall Street Journal, Canada's Milos Raonic has worked hard to drop 12 pounds from his 6-foot-5 frame. That comes after England's Andy Murray adopted a training regimen focused on speed, while global star Roger Federer, in his twilight years as a professional, has continued to emphasize court movement.

This trend follows roughly two decades of tennis players who poured their efforts into bulking up and developing formidable power games. By the time power players like Andy Roddick retired in the past few years, his kind was something of a dinosaur going extinct.

Part of that is an adaptation to how tennis courts have changed: The WSJ notes that as players grew more powerful, courts were designed to be grittier and slower, rewarding players who valued defense and agility over power.

The current generation is the product of those changes.

One curious footnote in this trend is that women have by and large failed to match men in slimming down. Stars like Serena Williams -- currently the world's No. 1 female -- continue to dominate with muscular physiques and playing styles geared toward power and strength.

Check out Samantha Stosur in action at Australian Open. Looks like she hasn't skipped any visits to the gym.


It's worth noting that while some tennis stars have emphasized weight loss, others have found that building a lean physique doesn't necessarily produce a significant drop in weight. Muscle strength is still important, but few men value strength at the expense of agility and speed.

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You know a move is good when even announcers are confused by it.

This was the case last week, when Washington Wizards point guard John Wall pulled out his new "cut dribble" in a nationally televised contest against the Chicago Bulls. With the Wizards up by 10 points late in the third quarter, Wall drove by Derrick Rose and tried out the move. He then sank a 15-foot jumper.

The trick was so smooth that ESPN's Mike Breen assumed Wall had lost control of the ball:

It's scary to think that Wall, already one of the league's elite point guards, has added a move like this to his arsenal. But Dan Steinberg of the Washington Post got to the bottom of the story and, lo and behold, it is true.

Wall calls the move a "cut dribble," and it looks to be a mix between a pass and a juke. Another appropriate name for the maneuver is a "yo-yo dribble" because Wall puts a backspin on the ball such that it returns to him after he lets it go.

Whatever you call it, the move is virtually impossible for opposing big men to stop. Wall's teammate John Gooden III, who claims to be one of the co-creators of the cut dribble, told Steinberg the story of its creation.

“That big might react to that pass -- AH! -- and [then the ball] comes back to him and he's in rhythm with his right hand to shoot,” Gooden told the Post. "Just playing around in practice we started doing it, and then he took it to the game."

Wall pulled the move out Tuesday against the Spurs. The ensuing bucket was two of Wall's 25 points in his team's first victory over San Antonio in a decade.

Here's another look at the cut dribble, this time in a game against the Indiana Pacers:

William Scott Davis of Business Insider astutely notes that Atlanta Hawks guard Jeff Teague has pulled off a version of the cut dribble in the past. But Wall appears to be the first player to perfect the move.

Wall is having a phenomenal season in his fifth year in the NBA, and he is tops in the league with 10.2 assists per game. He leads all Eastern Conference backcourt players in All-Star voting and is a big reason the Wizards were 26-12 as of Wednesday and sitting in the No. 2 spot in the Eastern Conference.

LeBron James has proven himself. He has five NBA Finals appearances, two rings and four Most Valuable Player trophies. Short of the occasional stretch of passive play or an ill-timed muscle cramp during Game 1 of the NBA Finals, he's met every reasonable expectation his critics have levied (the muscle cramp complaint, for what it's worth, is not among them).

Unlike James' first stint in Cleveland and his pre-championship days with the Miami Heat, during which examinations of his team's postseason failings started with his own play, the second act of his Cavaliers career is much different. For one, James is much better now than he was five years ago with Cleveland. He's more accomplished. We've seen him elevate his teammates to better play and convince superstars to accept a secondary role. We've also seen the limits of what one man can do as his teammates crumbled around him during last summer's NBA Finals blowout.

In the complicated formula that defines the 2014-15 Cleveland Cavaliers, James is the only known variable -- and that assumes he will return to full health, which at the moment, and for the first time in his career, is not quite guaranteed. Cleveland's problems on the court were obvious before James went down: Chemistry issues, poor bench depth, star pieces that weren't fitting properly and rumors that the players weren't embracing their rookie coach.

No one expected the Cavs to magically play better by subtracting the world's best player from the equation. But in the nearly two weeks since LeBron has played basketball, even more alarming trends have emerged. For one, Cleveland is freefalling: A five-game losing stretch has dropped the club to 19-19 and sixth place in the East. The Milwaukee Bucks are half a game better. In their past nine games, the Cavs have lost eight times -- five by 16 points or more, along with a three-point loss to the spunky Philadelphia 76ers, who had entered that matchup a dazzling 4-28.

After Sunday night's 19-point loss to Sacramento, Cleveland now has a negative point differential on the season, meaning it has been outscored by its opponents over the course of 38 games. This is far from the resume of a championship contender, and we're just one week from the season's midway point. In fact, Elias Sports Bureau has reported that no NBA champion started a season as poorly as 19-19.

The gut reaction from a lot of fans and observers seems to be that Cleveland will be fine. The playoffs are three months away, Cleveland can't possibly play its way out of the playoffs, and LeBron is still LeBron. All three points are factually true. The big question is whether any of these things matter: If time can heal what ails Cleveland, if playoff positioning is erroneous, if a healthy LeBron is the antidote.

As the season wears on, there is evidence against all three assertions.

Time is important, true, and particularly for a team assembled over the offseason. LeBron and Kevin Love are new, as are rotation players James Jones, Mike Miller and Shawn Marion. J.R. Smith, Iman Shumpert and Timofey Mozgov were all traded for within the past week, so their integration remains a work-in-progress.

The fact that James, Love and Kyrie Irving are struggling to strike an optimal balance is not surprising. All three come in having spent their entire NBA careers as alpha dogs. Love and Irving have to adjust to secondary roles just as Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh did.

But there are important differences, particularly where Kevin Love is concerned. The power forward is not a fast or athletic big man, which makes him more of a liability on defense. He is an offensive stalwart on a team that has a lot of firepower, which makes Cleveland potent on offense but porous on defense -- and this was before defensive-minded center Anderson Varejao tore his Achilles, ending his season.

Irving is also a weak man defender. Part of Cleveland's motivation in trading for Shumpert -- after unloading Dion Waiters to Cleveland -- was to bolster its defense with a guard that could light James' heavy workload. Asking LeBron to be the main man on both offense and defense is simply too demanding. Michael Jordan was a world-class defender, but he needed Scottie Pippen's defensive prowess to give him a break.

It's no surprise, then that Cleveland's defense ranks 18th in the league, holding opponents to just shy of 100 points per game. What is a bit of a shocker: the offense is barely better, holding strong at 17th out of 30 teams. That figure is weighed down some by the LeBron-less streak: eight of the past nine games have seen the Cavs fail to surpass 95 points, and on four occasions they didn't even hit 90. For a team whose preseason appearance was that of an offensive juggernaut, the season's body of work has been very underwhelming.

Now, LeBron looks to make his return this week with a very different team -- three new teammates and a lowly losing streak. Despite rumors that James and other players are struggling to co-exist with head coach David Blatt, management says it is all in with their new hire. You might think the pressure is on James to spark a revival with this team, and to some degree there is -- that's the expectation of any athlete regarded as the greatest in his sport.

But in other ways, James is the most insulated from the consequences of this season's failure. Fans should remember that his two-year contract includes a one-year player option, making him eligible to jump ship after this season. That clause was installed for a reason: James doesn't want to be committed to a bad situation. He was coming to a moribund franchise that had roster holes to fill and a new coach to hire. He didn't want to lose multiple years of his playing prime to a second failed go-around in Cleveland.


It's James' player option, in fact, that amplifies the pressure on everyone else. The incentive for instant winning is that success can avoid a potential doomsday scenario next summer. If James were to exercise his player option out of franchise, Love would likely do the same. The Cavs could lose both and be left facing a wasteland of a future.

Outside of Irving, who is locked in until 2019, Cleveland has almost nothing in the way of prospects. Its current roster features an average age of 28.8, tied for third-worst in the NBA, according to RealGM. It traded No. 1 overall pick Andrew Wiggins -- and 2013 No. 1 pick Anthony Bennett -- to Minnesota for Kevin Love. It gave up two low first-round picks to Denver for Mozgov, and last fall it traded what will likely become Sacramento's first-round pick this summer in exchange for Luol Deng, who spend three whole months on a non-playoff team.

Chicago also has the option of swapping first-round picks this summer, and it's looking like that will happen. If the draft were today, the Cavs would be giving away the 16th or 17th overall pick in exchange for the 24th.

This is a legitimate problem even if LeBron and Love do stay, because it holds the team back from bringing in young, productive talent at a low price. But if James and Love were to bolt for greener pastures -- Love to a larger market, James to a better competitive situation -- it would banish the Cleveland organization to a hopelessness far worse than the first time James took his talents elsewhere.

That said, a doomsday scenario is still unlikely, even if it's possible -- and more possible now than it was two months ago. The Cavs are still very likely to make the playoffs, their recent trades improve the roster, and the James-Love-Irving combo will continue to gel, even if it never truly clicks on both sides of the ball. James does provide an advantage no other NBA team can match, and the Cavs will be a threat to win any game involving its singular star.

All of those prospects remain safe for the moment. The problem is that these will be of little value to LeBron. A man who wants to end his career in the conversation of greatest-of-all-time will not be content on a team that reaches the second round of the playoffs. He understands as well as everyone else the difference he makes to a roster, and how quickly he can turn a good team into a championship favorite. He wants to win rings in Cleveland, yes, but first and foremost, he wants to win rings.

That pressure is precisely why, with the exemption of recent front-office moves, the Cavs' recent results have been perplexing. Even with LeBron on the sideline, you would think the team would show some fight. Instead, it laid down and endured blowout after blowout. Embarrassing losses came, criticism descended, the top four seeds in the East broke away from the pack, and Cleveland's so-called "contending" roster wet the bed. Even if they turn things around now, the Cavs face the likelihood of playing the entire playoffs without home court advantage against younger, more athletic teams that have been polishing their game while Cleveland searches for its identity.

As if things those problems aren't big enough, Cleveland has few options to improve over the summer. Love will require a larger contract, and a low first-round pick isn't likely to yield an immediate rotation player. Even if James opts in -- and assuming J.R. Smith does the same -- the Cavs might not be able to afford either Shumpert or Tristan Thompson, and they might lose both.

Short of some inventive wheeling and dealing, the Cleveland Cavaliers don't have the assets or opportunities to make big leaps forward. Those moves were already made when James and Love were brought on board. Everyone's in it to win it now.

So far, the winning isn't coming. If that doesn't turn around fast, James could be out. He proved his loyalty to Cleveland when he came back this summer.

But let's not forget: He packed a parachute.

When it comes to managing Kobe Bryant's playing time at this stage of his career, James Worthy is among those who believe the "less is more" approach is the way to go. Lakers coach Byron Scott has even designated certain games in which Bryant will sit out entirely. During the annual Lakers All-Access event at Staples Center, Worthy explained why he thinks this is a smart tactic:

Green Bay's fast-paced offense makes liberal use of no-huddle plays and capitalizes on big-play strikes. But there are consequences for this style of play.

Players are struggling with the Lambeau Leap.

As revealed in The Wall Street Journal, players are arriving in the end zone more gassed than ever. Whether from a long scoring play or a no-huddle drive that keeps them in constant motion, players aren't strolling across the goal line with a full tank of oxygen at their disposal.

So when it comes time to honor a long-held Packers tradition, many are intimidated.

“It’s really, really hard,” said running back Eddie Lacy, who weighs 230 pounds. “You’ve got a long drive, you exerted a lot of energy getting there and once you get there, unless you are one of those guys that can jump out of a gym, it’s going to be difficult.”

The Lambeau Leap has been performed after Packers touchdowns for more than 20 years, and it is respected enough that the league has exempted it from its rule forbidding excessive celebrations. Almost every Packer does the Leap after a touchdown, with rare exception.

Even when players are out of breath and drained of energy, most want to make an attempt -- not just to honor the fans, but also to revel in their own success.

Fans do their part in helping pull players up, but it doesn't make the job any easier, apparently.

Add to that trouble the vitriol players can receive from fans when they decide not to perform the leap. It's a no-win situation for a laboring football player.

Not to mention the more practical obstacles.

"There are a lot of obstacles on the way to the wall -- cords, cameramen in the way, all kinds of people on the field ... and the field is always a mess,” said fullback John Kuhn. "Then once you get there, you have to get a good leap off."

It's not an easy job, but still most Packers accept that it's a job they have to do.

Or else.

Travelle Gaines is the personal trainer for many professional athletes, but he has some practical advise for those who will be starting to work out for the first time.

"Any time you step into any gym, it can be intimidating for the first time," Gaines says. "So I think the biggest thing to do is just to focus. Understand why you're there. You're obviously there for a reason, to change your body, to change your mindset. So just start off slow. Put your headphones on. Get into your own groove. Don't worry about what everybody else is doing."

Here are some more tips from Gaines and his colleagues:

As far as age goes, LeBron James is turning the corner. December 30 marks the Cleveland star's 30th birthday, a significant mile marker for the NBA's best player.

James is no longer a rising star or even merely an NBA star -- he could walk away today and his legend status would be cemented. James already has the numbers to make the Hall of Fame -- five NBA Finals appearances, two rings and a scoring tally that already ranks among the top 25 all time.

But LeBron isn't done yet. And, as NBA.com points out, James has a serious shot at setting some all-time marks in the NBA. His 23,901 points scored is the most of an NBA player before his 30th birthday. Kobe Bryant is the second-closest at 21,619, and he only played five fewer games than James at that point.

Granted, James had the luxury of playing 328 more NBA games before 30 than Wilt Chamberlain, who managed a ridiculous 39.6-point average and sits less than 2,500 points behind James at the 30-year mark. LeBron won't be coming close to Wilt's per-game average, but in terms of capturing Kareem Abdul-Jabbar's all-time scoring mark, LeBron is well ahead of the pace -- he's more than 5,200 points ahead of Abdul-Jabbar.

To hit that mark, though, James won't only need greatness -- he'll also need longevity. Abdul-Jabbar scored the majority of his NBA points after his 30th birthday. NBA.com notes that among the Top 50 NBA scorers who are currently retired, that group scored a little more than 40 percent of its points after those players hit their 30th birthday.

If LeBron holds to that trend, he could be on pace to break Abdul-Jabbar's record and top 40,000 career points. James even has a chance of landing in the top five all-time for assists.

That's far from a guarantee, since there's a lot of points yet to be scored. And it could depend on when James decides to retire from the game, not to mention his physical health. But as it stands, no one in NBA history has scored more points faster than LeBron James.

Happy birthday, old man.

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Most New Zealand children do not imagine their careers taking them to Oklahoma City. Until recently, perhaps most New Zealanders had never even heard of Oklahoma City. A national star has changed that.

Like many New Zealand youths, Steven Adams aspired to join the nation's most prestigious club, not the NBA.

"I actually wanted to play rugby," Adams says. "I wanted to be an All-Black."

Adams was blessed with size from a young age. He says he hit his growth spurt early and was consistently the tallest among peers. But height is not always an advantage in rugby.

"If you're the tallest guy, they're just waiting for you to catch the ball, so they can tackle you," Adams says. "I was also really skinny."

When Adams reached his teens, he came to the realization, no New Zealand kid wants to come to: He was not going to be an All-Black.

"I did that until I was 13 and then switched over to basketball because rugby was tough," he says. "It was just hard."

At seven feet tall, Adams found early success on the court that drew interest from New Zealand professional teams and American college programs. Adams understood he would have trouble judging his basketball potential due to New Zealand's lack of competition.

"We played, but it wasn't good," he says. "[My friends and I] would just play for fun. It wasn't as popular a sport. It's all rugby there."

Soon after Adams committed himself to basketball, he became one of New Zealand's elite stars. In 2011, at age 17, Adams signed with the Wellington Saints of the New Zealand NBL. Adams won an NBL Championship and a Rookie of the Year Award in his one season with the Saints. Adams proceeded to play one college season at Pittsburgh, where he averaged 7.2 points, 6.3 rebounds and 2.0 blocks and earned Big East All-Rookie Team honors.

As a rookie with Oklahoma City in 2013-14, Adams, the 12th overall pick, averaged 3.3 points and 4.1 rebounds in 14.8 minutes with 20 starts. His playing time increased in the playoffs to 18.4 minutes.

In 2014-15, Adams has evolved into a more dynamic big man, passing veteran center Kendrick Perkins on the depth chart to start every game. Adams has averaged 7.6 points and 6.8 rebounds in 24.5 minutes through 24 games.

Adams' production has been especially necessary for a team that had holes early. For four weeks, the Thunder trudged along without stars Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook. The team struggled, going 4-11 missing the two stars that have led the team together for six years (5-12 in games without Durant). Talking before Westbrook and Durant's return, Adams acknowledged the team's mindset did not change, for the most part.

"Nick Collison did play some of the three," Adams says "Other than that, no one really changed [his] role. We just kind of stood up and said we had to play as a team. Kevin and Russell are good players."

Added Adams about the stars' absence: "They're doing all they can to help us out. Russell's been really good. He's been giving me tips and stuff on what he sees. They're like coaches."

In Adams' rookie season, Durant earned his first MVP Award. Adams calls the reigning MVP "a real laid back dude" and claims Durant has the same persona off-camera as he appears to the public.

In terms of his own game, Adams is budding into a stellar NBA center. The youngster was promoted to the starting lineup, where he his role has seen a noticeable hike in stats.

Night-in, night-out, Adams is dueling with some of the league's top big men. Adams can name a handful he enjoys battling.

"Zach Randolph's always a good time," he says. "Dwight Howard's always good. Oh, and DeAndre Jordan. He's fun."

Adams' teammates are a form of support for his growing game. But the Thunder's roster of 15 is actually smaller than his immediate family. Adams is one of 18 siblings.

"They're supporting me all the time," Adams says. "What's good is they came out with this thing -- what's it called? -- Facebook. We just made a group chat, so everyone just keeps writing in there. It's 15 of us. The other three are probably in the bush somewhere."

Adams is the youngest and tallest of the siblings. Growing up with 17 older siblings, Adams had a natural chip on his shoulder while learning from them.

"It was cool, but it was tough," he says. "They're really old. They're old school. They do teach me a lot of things. I was more competitive because I was always the weakest. ... Playing against my sisters and my brothers, the older ones would play really rough and elbow you. Plus the younger ones did a little too."

Now, Adams has a new family in Oklahoma City. In his sophomore season, Adams' image is growing in the city, where Adams says he has "met a lot of New Zealanders."

"I'm recognized a lot more than when I first got here," he says. "They're all good. All of them want to come say hello and good job and what not. They're good people."

The NBA and American Express recently followed Adams around as he roamed Oklahoma City. The videos capture Adams as he engages with fans and local businesses.

"The community here's really big and they support the Thunder through thick and thin," he says.

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