Jesse "Snake" Muench became such a sensation on YouTube from his basketball videos that he ended up in a TV commercial with the likes of Dwyane Wade and LeBron James last year.
After his moment in the big-time basketball spotlight, Muench continues to build his presence with instructional videos on YouTube. Muench's ball-handling skills figure to attract some attention this summer when lots of players try to emulate the highlight moves that Stephen Curry flashed during the NBA playoffs. Here's one:
Nerlens Noel's knee injury cost him much more than a chance to play in the NCAA tournament in his first and only season at Kentucky.
The star forward/center, who tore the ACL in his left knee during a game against Florida in February, might have been the top pick in last month's NBA draft had he been healthy. Because he dropped to sixth overall, he missed out on millions of dollars and the chance to join the exclusive club of top overall picks.
Noel hasn't forgotten that five teams snubbed him, and he says neither will anyone who watches him play next year. The 19-year-old has said he wants to wear jersey No. 5 for the Philadelphia 76ers as a reminder of the number of teams that passed over him.
Bitter? Perhaps. But at least Noel is driven, unlike a former 76ers big man who couldn't seem to motivate himself to get back on the court.
And for 76ers fans who saw their team trade an All-Star point guard to get Noel, the youngster's drive must be encouraging.
The unique combination of vast uncertainty and cautious optimism that 76ers fans felt on draft night is a feeling shared by San Francisco 49ers fans, whose team selected Marcus Lattimore in the fourth round of this year's NFL draft. Lattimore was a Heisman candidate and possible first-round pick before he tore three knee ligaments in a game against Tennessee last fall.
Like Noel, Lattimore's stock likely fell because of his injury. So while the 49ers may have gotten Lattimore at a bargain, his future is shrouded in uncertainty. But like Noel, Lattimore seems extra motivated to show that the 49ers made a good choice.
"I want to be an inspiration," Lattimore said in the months leading up to the NFL draft. "To let people know that with hard work and when you trust in God, you can come back from anything and do anything."
Lattimore has done everything right thus far. His surgeon, Dr. James Andrews described the 21-year-old as "superhuman" in his recovery, and Lattimore got a standing ovation from scouts on his pro day.
Perhaps best of all for Lattimore is that he has a willing mentor on the San Francisco 49ers. Frank Gore, one of the most consistent running backs in the league since he was drafted in 2005, tore his ACL in college and recovered to have a stellar NFL career.
Gore is very familiar with Lattimore's position. Gore's backfield teammate at Miami, Willis McGahee, suffered a similar injury to Lattimore. McGahee missed all of his rookie season with the Bills but did not disappoint when he finally hit the field. Both Gore and McGahee have spoken to Lattimore about the process of recovering from the devastating injury.
"[McGahee's] helped me a lot," Lattimore said before the draft. "Guys always bring that up when I come in there and talk to them. Willis came back from it, Frank Gore — (a) bunch of guys. He's a guy that worked hard. That's what I'm going to do, and trust in God. I haven't talked to (McGahee) lately, but I've talked to him a bunch of times. He just tells me, 'Keep grinding. Keep doing what you're doing. Trust in God. You're going to be fine. You'll come back from it.'"
It's not as easy to find a comparison for Noel -- not too many college basketball players have torn their ACLs and gone on to be high first-round picks. But there are reasons for the 76ers to be confident in their selection. Noel has also worked with Andrews, the renowned doctor who performed surgery on Robert Griffin III and Adrian Peterson in recent years along with a host of star athletes over the past few decades. So it's safe to say Noel is in good hands.
Noel hasn't had a major knee injury before, which is comforting for those who worry that he could become the next oft-injured big man.
Lastly, as if Noel needed any more motivation to come back strong from his injury, he was snubbed by five teams in the NBA Draft after he was widely projected to go first overall. He has promised to "make those teams pay."
It should be noted that Noel and Lattimore aren't in exactly the same position. Lattimore had suffered a serious knee injury before. Noel only spent one year in college and was considered more of a raw prospect. Lattimore was selected in the fourth round by a team which made it to the Super Bowl last season, thus there is less pressure on Lattimore to contribute early.
But in signing Noel and Lattimore, both the 76ers and the 49ers cast their lots with prospects that present more of a risk than most. In doing so, the teams not only made a significant gamble, but might also set a precedent for years to come.
Derek Jeter broke his ankle in October, found another crack in it in April and injured his quadriceps in his first game of the season Thursday.
Yet, Jeter still found a sense of humor with the media.
The Yankee captain played four games with the Scranton/Wilkes-Barre RailRiders (AAA) and expected to play a fifth game Thursday night. He thought he would rejoin the Yankees on Friday, but got a call from general manager Brian Cashman at about 11 p.m. Wednesday.
"My phone actually didn't work in the clubhouse and Cashman left me a message, so I called him back and he said you're coming to play," Jeter said. "I wanted to be here, so I was happy."
The shortstop then made an overnight pilgrimage back to the Big Apple from northeast Pennsylvania shortly after an 0-3 performance for the RailRiders.
"I was on the way to the hotel, so I had to go back," he said. "Then I had to wait for my luggage from the field, my equipment, so I got to New York maybe 2:30, 3 o'clock, somewhere around there. I fell asleep at about 4."
When asked if how he made the trip, Jeter responded, "Hitchhiked," before acknowledging he got a ride.
Nine months after his last MLB appearance in the 2012 American League Championship Series against the Tigers, Jeter was back home in New York early Thursday morning. In his own bed, he was ready for a pregame good night sleep.
Jeter awoke at 6:30 could not get back to sleep. He claims he got two and a half hours of sleep at most.
"I'm on a morning schedule. When I was in Florida I went to bed at 10 and woke up at 6 every day," Jeter said referring to his time at the Yankees training facility in Tampa.
Despite more travel time then sleep, the 39-year-old made the familiar trip to the Bronx on Thursday morning. Just a few hours after heading to a Scranton hotel for sleep, Jeter was at his Yankee Stadium locker.
"I came over here and it was pretty much right to this stadium and getting ready to play," he said. "Everything happened kind of quickly for me. Then before you know it, you're on the field, you're playing, so I really didn't have much time to think about it."
Jeter played designated hitter and batted second. He went 1-for-4 with an infield single, a run scored and an RBI before leaving the game in the eighth inning with an apparent strain of his quadriceps.
Jeter was asked if his return would kick start the offense and responded with sarcasm:
"Yeah, did you see me kick-start it today?"
Perhaps Jeter popped the best one-liner on Newsday's David Lennon, who asked if Jeter makes concessions to his age being 39.
Jeter denied thinking about age and told Lennon, "We're all getting older here. I mean, I knew you when you were a lot younger."
Jeter left the press conference before 5 p.m. ET. That should give the 13-time All-Star sufficient time to rest up for the Yankees' 7:05 p.m. game against the Twins on Friday.Full Story >>
During the 2012-13 NFL season, 170 players were sidelined with head injuries. One of those forced to sit out was San Francisco 49ers quarterback Alex Smith. Off to the best start of his career, the former No. 1 overall pick lost his starting gig and is now a Kansas City Chief because of a single concussion.
While so many of his cotemporaries play through head injuries, Smith went against the grain by speaking up. It is a decision that has changed the whole course of his career. "I feel like the only thing I did to lose my job was get a concussion” Smith said in November. In a day and age where everyone from football players to the president has weighed in on the issue of concussions, Smith's story intensifies the debate.
Although he many not realize it now, Smith’s choice to report his concussion may have been the best thing he could have ever done. By giving his brain the proper time to heal, Smith has a greater chance of avoiding the lifestyle that some, like former Yale football player Chris Coyne, have endured.
A star player and all-state standout from Staples High School in Westport, Conn., Coyne suffered six concussions during his football career and still feels the effects of his decisions today.
"Its been a year and a half since my last concussion and I still can't take notes in class," Coyne said. "I still need Ritalin to concentrate and still need extra time on every test I take."
Coyne realizes that he has nobody to blame but himself and regrets not reporting his first concussion. While the former tight end took several major blows to the head, it is unclear which hit had the biggest impact. "We still don't know whether a few colossal blows to the head are worse than the cumulative effect of hundreds or thousands of hits," said Dr. John Hart Jr., medical science director at the Center for Brain Health in Dallas.
Hart is at the forefront of concussion research and has examined more than 50 retired NFL players during the past three years. According to the research released from Hart’s study, 40 percent of the retired players inspected have some form of cognitive impairment. In fact, three-fourths of the ex-players examined didn’t associate their brain issues with football, nor did they realize their condition was treatable.
Twelve-year NFL veteran Daryl Johnston was one of the first players checked out by the Center for Brain Health three years ago. The former Dallas Cowboys fullback knows of two concussions that he had during his professional football career. A two-time Pro Bowler, Johnston believes that the retired community needs to be more proactive with its brain health.
“I have reached out to several guys to get a baseline," Johnston said. "That was the most important thing for me. My son got his first baseline in fifth grade. I didn't get mine until I was 44."
While Johnston's cognitive tests came back favorably, the Fox Sports analyst still worries about his long term health, especially after the shocking suicide of San Diego Chargers linebacker Junior Seau in 2012. Although Seau was never diagnosed with a concussion during his 19-year career, doctors discovered Chronic Traumatic Encephalopathy (CTE) in his brain.
CTE is triggered by repeated head trauma and can only be confirmed after death. Thirty-four former NFL players have been diagnosed with this disease, including former Chicago Bears defensive back Dave Duerson. The two-time Super Bowl champ shot himself in the chest in February 2011, leaving a note behind demanding his brain be donated to research.
While the deaths of Seau and Duerson demonstrate the connection between football and depression, time on the gridiron is not the only reason for this cognitive illness. Dr. Mitchell Berger of the Neurology Department at the University of California San Francisco points to other causes that could have contributed to death by depression.
"When associating depression with someone who has played football, it is important to also analyze the socioeconomic, family and work factors involved," Dr. Berger said.
This will be a major focus of the lawsuit between Seau's family and the NFL. With more than 4,000 players teaming up to sue the league for hiding information about long term risks of head injuries, the next few months will most certainly intensify the debate surrounding concussions.
Regardless of the result, Coyne's story reminds us of something far more important than a courtroom victory: the importance of revealing head injuries.
“I want to keep kids from making the same mistakes that I did," Coyne said. "If I had reported my concussions and taken the time to heal properly, I believe I would still be playing football today."
If you think you have suffered a concussion, follow these steps:
1. Make an appointment with your doctor or a team trainer. Don't be afraid of what others will think if you report a head injury. Better safe than sorry.
2. Once diagnosed with a concussion, avoid any activity involving a screen and/or bright light (ex: watching TV, using a computer, tablet or cell phone). The key to recovery is resting in a dark room with little light and few distractions.Full Story >>
When it comes to injury updates, fans can't get enough.
And especially when it's a star player who is recovering from an injury, people will gobble up even the smallest morsel of information (see Rose, Derrick and Griffin III, Robert).
Normally, there's is a reluctance on the part of the player or the team to provide too much information. Either for strategic or medical reasons, teams don't want the entire world knowing where their superstar is in his or her recovery.
And so that is why it's so refreshing to see Kobe Bryant, one of the most popular athletes in the country, providing his followers with copious updates on his recovery from a torn achilles.
Bryant, sometimes known for his anti-social nature, could easily have gone into hiding this offseason while he recovers. Many of his fans would have understood -- he is so determined to return stronger than ever that no one would have blamed him for limiting his public exposure. Instead, Bryant has opened his life to millions of followers (and essentially the entire world), taking fans where no player has before.
Throughout the surgery and recovery process, Bryant has posted photos and videos to his Instagram account (which he started on the day after his injury) detailing his journey:
Bryant has taken fans into the doctor's office and even into the operating room. On the day Instagram unveiled its new video feature, Bryant posted this clip to the delight of millions of his fans:
After a grueling year in which Robert Griffin III earned NFL Rookie of the Year honors and then spent the next few months rehabbing from knee surgery, one would think he would be able to take some time off on his honeymoon.
Griffin, who married his college sweetheart Rebecca Liddicoat in a ceremony in Denver over the weekend, has said he will be continuing to rehab his knee in advance of Washington's first day of training camp on July 25.
“I’m planning ahead to make sure I do the things I have to do while I’m on that honeymoon,” Griffin said in June. “And I think I’m a responsible guy, so I’ll make sure I do everything I have to, to be ready — cutting , running, working out — and so when I get back and they see me, they’ll be not only impressed , but they’ll feel safe and sound to put me out there."
After suffering a partially torn anterior cruciate ligament and lateral cruciate ligament, injuries which required "total reconstruction" of Griffin's knee, the 23-year-old has been working with trainers for the past six months.
In April, some three months after surgery, Griffin was doing jumping jacks and running in place. By June, he had progressed to "explosive sprinting."
The initial projection was that it would be six to eight months before Griffin's knee was heeled. It's been six months now, so barring setbacks Griffin could be ready to start the Redskins' September 9 opener against the Eagles.
So Redskins fans can rest easy knowing that even though their star quarterback has stopped tweeting while on his honeymoon, the rehab goes on.Full Story >>
Things were not looking good for Andy Murray in May.
After coming off the best stretch of his career -- Olympic gold, a U.S. Open title and a runner-up finish at the Australian Open -- Murray seemed poised for a run at Roland Garros.
But at a French Open tuneup in Italy, Murray felt a recurrence of a lower back injury, which had bugged him on and off since 2011. He noticed it in practice and then ultimately had to retire from a second-round match against Marcel Granollers because the pain had become so severe.
One year earlier Murray had suffered back spasms at the French Open, and his gingerly demeanor on the court led former British tennis star Virginia Wade to call Murray a "drama queen." Strong words coming from the last British player to win Wimbledon.
Murray referenced Wade's comments while explaining why he pulled out of his match against Granollers in May.
"It's the [problem] I had during the clay-court season last year, which was apparently not an injury according to a lot of people," Murray said, "and it's been there for a few months now."
Pulling out of Roland Garros wasn't an easy decision for Murray, who is reaching the peak of his career and hadn't missed a Grand Slam since 2007.
"It's been a really tough decision, and I love playing in Paris, but after seeking medical advice I'm not fit to compete," he said.
But it didn't take Murray long to eliminate any questions or doubt about his form. The 26-year-old cruised through Wimbledon, capping off his incredible run with an extremely impressive straight sets win over Novak Djokovic in the final on Sunday.
In that sense, then, it seems like it was worth it for Murray to play it safe and pull out of the French Open. Not only did he have time to recover, he also had time to mentally prepare for the toughest task of his career. In the fast and furious spring tennis season, that can be a serious advantage.Full Story >>
On the first day of the 2013 NFL regular season, Darelle Revis is expected to suit up and run out of the tunnel at MetLife Stadium.
But this is far from just another season in the star cornerback's six-year career. Not only will he be returning from a torn ACL which sidelined him for most of the 2012 season, he will be wearing a Tampa Bay Buccaneers jersey.
There's a sort of symmetry in the fact that Revis, who spent his first six seasons with the New York Jets, will play his first game for the Bucs against the team that drafted him.
Of course, earlier this year many fans didn't know when to expect Revis back. While he tore his ACL early in the 2012 season (Week 3 against the Dolphins), these injuries are all different. Adrian Peterson came back about eight months after a similar injury, while Chicago Bulls star Derrick Rose was sidelined for more than a year after tearing his ACL.
But all reports from Tampa indicate that Revis is running, cutting and feeling good about his knee.
“That’s the goal is to be out there Week 1 and play,'' Revis said during the Bucs' recent OTAs. "If there’s anything other than that, we’ll have to see when the time comes. But yeah, we’ve got to have the goal set and coach has the same goals, too, for me to be out there from Day One."
Perhaps it shouldn't come as a total surprise that Revis has worked his way into shape. The 27-year-old is known for his grueling offseason workouts. But because he hasn't been able to resume football activities, there's still some question as to whether Revis will be able to stick to his Game 1 timeline.
Until then, Bucs fans will have to rely on updates from Revis and team executives. And so far, so good.
"Totally confident," general manager Mark Dominik Dominik said of Revis' chances to play Week 1. "He's in great shape right now, he's running full speed, he's cutting, he's doing all the things we'd want him to do from a training standpoint, a rehabilitation standpoint."Full Story >>
Abdul-Jabbar worked with the former Baylor star and top pick of the 2013 WNBA draft, teaching her the nuances of his signature hook shot.
"I went to legend school today," Griner told reporters after working with Abdul-Jabbar, "and it was awesome."
The skyhook did wonders for Abdul-Jabbar, the six-time NBA MVP and the league's all-time leading scoring champion. And while it's not common in the WNBA, Griner said she could see herself adding it to her arsenal.
According to reports, Griner struggled at first with the skyhook, but after 20 minutes she looked more comfortable with the shot.
"She did start to get it, how I used it," Abdul-Jabbar said. "Not everybody uses the same tool in the same way, so you've got to make adjustments to that. But I think with her potential and willingness to learn, she'll do well."