<![CDATA[NBC 10 Philadelphia - Sports]]>Copyright 2016http://www.nbcphiladelphia.com/news/sports http://media.nbcnewyork.com/designimages/NBC10_40x125.png NBC 10 Philadelphia http://www.nbcphiladelphia.comen-usFri, 29 Jul 2016 03:48:00 -0400Fri, 29 Jul 2016 03:48:00 -0400NBC Owned Television Stations <![CDATA[Dorenbos Wows 'America's Got Talent' Crowd (Again!)]]> Thu, 28 Jul 2016 19:57:02 -0400 http://media.nbcphiladelphia.com/images/221*120/americas+got+talent+eagle.JPG The Philadelphia Eagles’ long snapper is stealing the show on "America’s Got Talent." NBC10’s Katy Zachary has an update on the Eagles’ magic man.]]> <![CDATA[Wrestler Jordan Burroughs Looks to Win Big in Rio]]> Thu, 28 Jul 2016 16:55:08 -0400 http://media.nbcphiladelphia.com/images/213*120/Jordan-Burrrough-GettyImages-520382788.jpg

Jordan Burroughs does not lack confidence — or ambition.

"I want to have exceptional goals," the Olympic wrestler said in a sponsored video posted on TeamUSA.org, the official website of the U.S. Olympic committee. In another, he said he wanted "to be the best wrestler of all-time."

The reigning Olympic gold medalist in freestyle wrestling, Burroughs, 28, is one of the favorites to win big in Rio.

He is not shying away from those expectations. Rather, Burroughs is embracing them — and the work required for ultimate success.

"You’re capable of doing amazing things," Burroughs told USA Today Sports. "I wasn’t groomed or created to be this until I realized that I could be this. And I just started working my butt off, and all [of a] sudden I started winning. And I haven’t looked back."

Just ask Mark Manning, who will coach Burroughs and the U.S. freestyle team in the Rio Games.

"Jordan and I have been together for a long time," Manning told the Lincoln Journal-Star, before adding, "With Jordan, we will stick to our plan and keep working, building his arsenal and helping any way we can. Not that he needs much motivation from anybody, because he is so determined to win this year and compete in the 2020 [Summer] Olympics [in Tokyo, Japan]."

Manning knows what he's talking about. He coached Burroughs at the University of Nebraska, where his star pupil won NCAA Championships in 2009 and 2011. Since leaving Nebraska, Burroughs has added three world championships to his Olympic gold medal.

"In the wrestling world, Jordan Burroughs is [Cleveland Cavaliers star] LeBron James. He’s [Golden State Warriors star Stephen] Curry. Everyone knows who Jordan Burroughs is, and he’s been wrestling with a target on him for a while, and people adapt. You never get used to the target, but it’s more natural for Jordan to know he’s the heavy favorite and everyone expects his best," Manning told the Omaha World-Herald in April.

"It’s going to be fun when he looks back 20 years from now at the legacy he’s left. But we’re in the midst of that right now, so it’s about just staying on that ride and taking each year for what it’s worth," he added.

Perhaps it is Burroughs who best summarized his "legacy" after qualifying for the 2016 Olympic Team at the Olympic Team Trials in Iowa City.

"The difference between legends and just great athletes is consistency. I really prepare for these moments," Burroughs told The Associated Press.

"The approach has always been to be the best in the world, one of the best ever," he continued.

Still, his greatness won’t transition to a post-amateur wrestling career with the Ultimate Fighting Championship. Burroughs told FoxSports.com in September 2015 he "won’t ever join" the UFC.

It's a surprising stance since Burroughs' wrestling acumen could be monetized by the UFC. So why would he pass up the opportunity at, potentially, a lucrative job as a professional mixed martial artist?  

"It's never been my passion to pursue the UFC or that I like to fight. I don't think many guys like to fight, but it's everything that surrounds success in the UFC. It's notoriety, it's the celebrities sitting ringside in Vegas, it's financial incentive, it's being labeled as the toughest guy in the world and being respected and heralded on such a high level, but for me I'm passionate about the sport of wrestling. I want to win another gold medal," Burroughs said.

"I'm doing well financially. I think a lot of guys get out of wrestling for financial incentive to go to the UFC, but I'm doing well. I've got a home, I've got a wife, I've got everything I need," he said. "So realistically, I don't need to join the UFC for anything other than I'm passionate about it, which I'm not. So I'll just sit back from afar and enjoying watching it but not participating."

Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[NCAA Stars Take Their Talents to Rio]]> Thu, 28 Jul 2016 15:56:33 -0400 http://media.nbcphiladelphia.com/images/213*120/stewart-allen-kocian.jpg

Breanna Stewart and Devon Allen are already accustomed to big stadiums and bright lights. So at least in one way, it won't be a big deal when they walk into the Maracana for the opening ceremony of the 2016 Olympics on Aug. 5.

They got plenty of experience playing in front of thousands of fans in person and millions on TV — and that was just in college. The Olympics have long been a competition at which college athletes have shined, and Allen and Stewart are just two of the biggest names among recent NCAA champions who will be competing in Rio starting Aug. 5.

Stewart won four national championships with the University of Connecticut’s basketball team, most recently in April. Despite joining a team full of experienced WNBA pros for the United States, Stewart could be a key player as a 6-foot-4 forward who can pass and shoot.

"It feels unbelievable to have the opportunity to play on the national team," Stewart told SI.com. "You can’t ask for a whole lot more coming out of college right away."

Allen’s NCAA titles have come on the track and he’s a medal contender in the 110-meter hurdles. But shortly after the closing ceremony, he'll head back to the University of Oregon and join the Ducks' football team as it tries to win a college football championship after coming close two years ago.

"It's something I've been dreaming about since I started running track," Allen told OregonLive.com. "It's surreal and it hasn't hit me yet but I'm sure it will hit me soon."

Allen is the only college football star who will be in Rio, but dozens of NCAA track and field athletes from various countries will compete, including decathlete Lindon Victor of Texas A&M, who will represent Grenada, and Filip Mihaljevic of Virginia, who will compete in the shot put for Croatia. Both won NCAA titles in their disciplines in the spring.

Competing for the United States are NCAA champions Jarrion Lawson of Arkansas (long jump); DeAnna Price of Southern Illinois (hammer throw); Clayton Murphy of Akron (1,500 meters); Courtney Frerichs of New Mexico (steeplechase); Maggie Malone of Texas A&M (javelin); Raven Saunders of Mississippi (shot put); Lexi Weeks of Arkansas (pole vault) and Kendell Williams of Georgia (heptathlon).

Impressive collegiate athletes will also participate in some of the Olympics' lesser-known sports.

Purdue's Steele Johnson will dive for the U.S. in the 10-meter individual and synchronized events. He won NCAA titles in the 1-meter and platform before taking this season off to prepare for Rio, but will return to West Lafayette and the 2016-17 season.

At the age of 19, West Virginia’s Ginny Thrasher already has NCAA titles in smallbore and air rifle. Shooting in front of Olympic crowds in Rio and being beamed around the world will be different from being on the range — or in the woods where she learned to shoot by hunting with her father and grandfather.

"It’s really overwhelming," Thrasher told The Washington Post. "I think once I get there and I see the Olympic village, it’ll hit me more than I’m actually a part of the Olympics."

Some of the best known Olympians haven't even gone to college yet. U.S. gymnast Madison Kocian signed a letter of intent to attend UCLA, while her teammate Laurie Hernandez made a verbal commitment to Florida. The U.S. women are strong contenders in Rio, meaning they could add a college championship to their Olympic ones.

Photo Credit: Nathaniel S. Butler/NBAE, Patrick Smith, Andy Buchanan/AFP (Getty Images)]]>
<![CDATA[Athletes With NCAA Championships and Olympic Medals]]> Thu, 28 Jul 2016 14:36:42 -0400 http://media.nbcphiladelphia.com/images/180*120/Boudia-GettyImages-467137886.jpg Winning championships is the goal of every athlete. But very few can say they are both an NCAA and Olympic champion. Those who can are among the greatest athletes produced by the United States. Here are a few of those top competitors.

Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Northern Michigan: Greco-Roman Wrestling's Powerhouse]]> Thu, 28 Jul 2016 14:29:44 -0400 http://media.nbcphiladelphia.com/images/213*120/splitscreen-facial-hair.jpg

Many Olympic athletes toil for years for a chance at 15 minutes of worldwide fame. But the slog endured by Greco-Roman wrestlers is enough to make badminton players seem as recognizable as LeBron James.

Traditional freestyle powers like Oklahoma State, Iowa State and Arizona State won’t be represented in Rio, but thanks to a U.S. Olympic training site established in 1999 on its Milwaukee, Michigan, campus, the University of Northern Michigan will compete in three different weight classes in Greco-Roman wrestling.

Greco-Roman wrestling forbids holds below the waist, as well as the use of one’s legs to trip opponents or otherwise execute takedowns. As opposed to freestyle, the prettier and more popular of the wrestling styles, Greco-Roman’s practitioners in the U.S. don’t have opposing teams, tournaments or championships. They have wrestling.

"Unlike other college programs, which operate under the umbrella of the NCAA and compete in the more mainstream freestyle wrestling, the Greco-Roman specialists here train in virtual anonymity. There are no dual meets against top programs like Iowa or Penn State. There are no NCAA titles to be won. The Northern Michigan wrestlers are preparing, quite simply, to become Olympians," New York Times sports reporter Scott Cacciola wrote in 2013.

Northern Michigan alumni Robby Smith (130 kg), Ben Provisor (85 kg) and Andy Bisek (75 kg) will all compete in Greco-Roman wrestling in Brazil. Because of their sport’s unique place in American athletics, the long winters training in remote Marquette bring the fellow Wildcats together.

"It’s definitely a different breed of wrestler. Everybody wrestling on the senior level of Greco is a little bit different. We make it work," Bisek told the Cedar Rapids Gazette in April. "We believe in everybody on the team."

The teammates' lone rivalry may be in the facial hair department.

Bisek, nicknamed "The Cowboy," sports a magnificent mustache that has taken on such a life of its own, it's become part of his Twitter handle, @biseks_stache. Smith, meanwhile, enjoys a full and lustrous face of hair, which has inspired a "Fear the Beard" rallying cry.

Bisek, Smith and Provisor aren't the only athletes whose road to Rio passed through Michigan’s Upper Peninsula. Freestyle wrestlers Helen Maroulis (53 kg) and Adeline Gray (75 kg) both graduated from nearby Marquette High School and train at the University of Northern Michigan Olympic Training Site.

Additionally, a trio of Northern Michigan alumna who train at the school's facility will represent the U.S. in sports other than wrestling. Mikaela Mayer will participate in her first Olympics, fighting as a lightweight boxer; Sarah Robles will compete in her second Olympics as a weightlifter in the 75+ kg field; and first-time Olympian Kelly Allen of nearby Iron Mountain, Michigan, will represent the red, white and blue in the paracanoe.

Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[NJ's English Gardner Sprints Toward Redemption in Rio]]> Thu, 28 Jul 2016 13:18:07 -0400 http://media.nbcphiladelphia.com/images/213*120/English-Gardner.jpg

English Gardner is gearing up to take home gold at the 2016 Rio Olympics and she credits her New Jersey roots for helping her develop into the athlete she is today.

Gardner’s early start in track and field ensured her success in the sport. Gardner began running at the age of seven and is now a three-time USA Track and Field champion, two-time international champion, and two-time NCAA Outdoor 100-meter champion at Oregon.

"I grew up in Willingboro, New Jersey and it wasn’t one of the greatest places to be.," Gardner said. "You either get stuck in the culture or you develop and find a way out. Track was my outlet. I started track at seven and a lot of runners don’t start until they are in high school. So, I think I was kind of born to do this sport."

Gardner eventually honed her skills running at Eastern High School but not before getting coaching from her father.

"Growing up, in high school my dad coached me, he was more of a let’s get you as strong as possible then let your natural speed just take you and it ended up working well," Gardner said. "I ended up running 11.04 in high school then I moved on to college. He was more about let’s be ballistic, strong, powerful and quick.

Her training began to pay off but the dream to bring home an Olympic gold medal began when she was just a girl.

"The first time I thought about it I was 9," said Gardner. "I won my first USA championship and then I won my first state title in high school and got invited to the state dinner. I won MVP that year and I stood up in front of all of the people of South Jersey, I told them I would not stop running track until I got an Olympic gold and the whole room got quiet because you have a 90-pound girl telling all these people that I’m going to be an Olympian. I was so serious and adamant about it. I will never forget what it felt like to say those words."

Gardner was well on her way to becoming an Olympian until a knee injury -- suffered while playing in a charity flag football game -- stalled her run to the top.

"I planted my feet tried to do a spin move my foot stayed one way and my body went another way," said Gardner who was just a high school sophomore at the time. "I completely blew out my knee. I tore my ACL, MCL and my meniscus vertically and laterally."

Her world completely changed after her injury, colleges that wanted her began to drop their offers. She walked out of one meeting with a school crying.

"(I) turned to my dad and said 'it wasn’t meant to be,'" said Gardner. "Then Oregon contacted me and said they didn’t care what happened and so for me them having hope and faith that I would be able to be the athlete that I needed to be for the program was all that I needed...

"I came back my senior year (of high school) and ended up running a 11.5," Gardner said. "It was a blessing in disguise."

This year, Gardner is sponsored by Nike, coached by John Smith in Los Angeles and ready to bring home gold calling her shot a "redemption."

"In 2012 I was 19 and the only college athlete to be in the final for the 100 meters," said Gardner. "I ended up being the alternate and not even going to London and that hurt really deep.

What it means to get a shot at being the "fastest woman" isn't lost on Gardner.

"My main reason for running is way bigger than me," she said. "When you ask people who the fastest woman is, they don’t really know what to say. So for me that is why I am here, because women in track and field have done phenomenal things but are flying underneath the radar. I want to change that. Redemption year is here and I’m excited."

Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Former Bulls Player Lists Chicago Home for $4.1M]]> Thu, 28 Jul 2016 11:23:38 -0400 has listed his home in Lincoln Park for $4.1 million. Dunleavy played three seasons with the Bulls but was traded to the Cleveland Cavaliers earlier this month. ]]> has listed his home in Lincoln Park for $4.1 million. Dunleavy played three seasons with the Bulls but was traded to the Cleveland Cavaliers earlier this month. ]]> http://media.nbcphiladelphia.com/images/213*120/bulls+house+1.jpg Former Chicago Bulls player Mike Dunleavy has listed his Lincoln Park home for $4.1 million.

Photo Credit: Redfin.com]]>
<![CDATA[Top NCAA Athletes Competing Against Team USA]]> Thu, 28 Jul 2016 12:30:13 -0400 http://media.nbcphiladelphia.com/images/213*120/Jahvid+Best_1.jpg Some of the best current and former college athletes will be competing at the Summer Olympics in Rio — and not everyone is playing for Team USA.

Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Ryan Mathews Shows Up to Eagles Camp Hurt]]> Thu, 28 Jul 2016 09:21:45 -0400 http://media.nbcphiladelphia.com/images/213*120/WCAU_000000016464498_1200x675_733829187786.jpg Eagles starting running back Ryan Mathews is battling an ankle injury to start training camp.]]> <![CDATA[Fencer to Make History by Wearing Hijab in Rio Games]]> Thu, 28 Jul 2016 09:16:52 -0400 http://media.nbcphiladelphia.com/images/213*120/Muhammad-GettyImages-545537568.jpg

Athletes competing in the 2016 Rio Olympics share a common goal: to leave Brazil with a medal. But fencer Ibtihaj Muhammad also sees the games as an opportunity to teach Americans about the Muslim faith.

"I feel like I've been blessed to be in this position, to be given this platform," Muhammad, a Duke graduate, told The Associated Press in March

"When I think of my predecessors, and people who've spoken out against bigotry and hate, I feel like I owe it not just to myself but to my community to try to fight it. There are people who don't feel safe going to work every day, that don't feel safe being themselves. I think that's a problem," she said.

Muhammad, who grew up in Maplewood, New Jersey, will be the first American athlete to compete in the games while wearing a hijab, the head scarf required of Muslim women.

A three-time All-American at Duke in fencing, the 30-year old Muhammad is ranked second in the nation in the sabre — and 12th in the world, according to her profile on the USA Fencing website

In three years at Duke, Muhammad compiled a 127-15 record while earning bachelor degrees in international relations and African American studies.

"She always had the raw talent. Everyone who watched her fence could see that," Blue Devils fencing coach Alex Beguinet told Duke Magazine in June.

That "raw talent" was also harnessed by coaches at the Westbrook Foundation, a non-profit that introduces fencing to metropolitan area New York City kids. Coaches Peter Westbrook and Akhi Spencer-El expect Muhammad's competitiveness to be on display for the world to see in Rio.

"Don’t be fooled by that pretty face," Westbrook, who won the bronze medal in the 1984 Los Angeles Games, told The Associated Press in March.   

"She has something in her that it takes in real champions, that unbelievable will to win. She is able to dig five stories deep to pull something out. And when she loses? Oh my God."

Muhammad's determination is not limited to the piste. She has used social media to chronicle disturbing incidents in which she was the victim of prejudice.

In March, she tweeted that a volunteer at South by Southwest had asked her to remove her hijab, even though she was to speak at the event, according to the Chicago Tribune. A few weeks later, in April, Muhammad posted a photo on Twitter of a man in New York City who she said asked if she was planning to "blow something up," ESPN reported.

Muhammad's Olympic inception coincides with the rise of Donald Trump as the Republican nominee for president. Part of Trump’s platform has called for barring Muslims from the United States, a philosophy that baffles Muhammad.

"I'm excited to provide a different image of what people are used to seeing from a Muslim woman. I don’t want to see the same image every time of Muslim women on TV," she told the Charlotte Observer

"It’s not representative of the Muslim women that I know living in the States. What I see is very narrow. It may be a woman in all black, or a woman in a burka. As Muslims, we have conservatives and we have liberals and everyone in between. You can’t paint us all with one broad stroke. That can be frustrating," she added.

Without mentioning Trump by name, Muhammad questioned his ideology. 

"My family has always been here. I'm American by birth. This is part of who I am and it is all that I know," Muhammad said. "So when I hear someone say something like, 'We’re going to send Muslims back to their countries,' then I’m like: 'Where am I going to go? I’m American.'"

Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[In Rio, Georgia Golfers Are the Ones to Beat]]> Wed, 27 Jul 2016 14:41:45 -0400 http://media.nbcphiladelphia.com/images/213*120/Bubby-Waston-GettyImages-580018286.jpg

Men’s Olympic golf will tee off Aug. 11 for the first time in 112 years, as a field of 60 led by three Georgia college players vies to bring home the first gold medal since the 1904 games in Saint Louis.

But amazingly, the golfer positioned at the top the Olympic rankings barely saw the golf course his senior year in college.

Although coming off a campaign that earned him an All-American Honorable Mention nod his junior year, top-ranked Olympian Bubba Watson only played in one tournament for the Georgia Bulldogs during his final amateur season in 2001.

"The only time in NCAA history that a team had five guys make third team All-American or higher was that 2001 team. That’s how good that team was. Bubba was sitting there as your sixth guy," Georgia coach Chris Haack told Augusta.com in 2013.

Watson isn’t the only Team USA golfer to play for a school in the Peach State: Seventh-ranked Patrick Reed has two Georgia universities on his resume, and Matt Kuchar, the eighth-ranked player in the Olympics, also hails from a Georgia school with a proud golf tradition. Kuchar’s Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets boast individual NCAA champions in 1927, 1934 and 2002, and the team finished as runner-up to the national champions in 1993, 2000, 2002 and 2005.

In thinking of powerhouse college athletic programs, Augusta State University isn't the first to come to mind. But if the sport is golf, and the program is in the shadow of the world's most famous golf course — Augusta National — bigger isn't necessarily better.

Golf may be Augusta State's only Division I sport, but the teams are good — the men won back-to-back national championships in 2010 and 2011, the first to do so since the Houston Cougars in 1984 and 1985, according to USA Today.

Reed made integral contributions to Augusta's teams, though not without controversy. The Jaguars' 2010 championship came at the expense of the Oklahoma State Cowboys, the team that third-ranked Olympian Rickie Fowler played for just a couple of years prior. In 2011, Augusta State beat Watson's alma mater, in-state rival Georgia, the school from which Reed had transferred for the 2009-10 school year after a checkered freshman year with the Bulldogs.

Although participating countries can send up to four golfers to Rio, Olympic golf's reboot is a purely individual competition, so players searching for extra motivation may have to rely on school spirit rather than flag-waving.

Notable international golfers to attend U.S. universities include Belgium's 23rd-ranked Thomas Pieters, who won the individual National Championship in 2012 for the Illinois Fighting Illini with a four-under 208. Team honors went to the Texas Longhorns led by American Jordan Spieth, one of the many male golfers conspicuously absent from the Rio games. South African Brandon Stone, ranked 29th, and Venezuelan Jhonattan Vegas, ranked 48th, also attended Texas.

Padraig Harrington, the 43rd-ranked competitor out of Ireland, attended Dublin Business College, which may or may not have helped him out-earn in-family rival Dan Harrington, a World Series of Poker stalwart who has career winnings in the millions of dollars.

Both Padraig and Dan Harrington are also distant cousins of former NFL quarterback Joey Harrington, who earned All-American honors with the Oregon Ducks, winners of the 2016 NCAA men’s golf champion.

Photo Credit: Streeter Lecka/Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[US Women's Basketball Team Has a Decidedly UConn Flavor]]> Wed, 27 Jul 2016 13:24:40 -0400 http://media.nbcphiladelphia.com/images/213*120/GenoStewart-GettyImages-468853790.jpg

Coach Geno Auriemma wanted to have the best talent available to him.

So it was no coincidence that when the U.S. Olympic Women’s Basketball Team was constructed, those in positions of responsibility within basketball operations were able to find a five-person unit with whom Auriemma had long-standing ties.

When the team attempts to win its sixth straight Olympic gold medal in Rio, the squad will have a decidedly University of Connecticut flair. 

Five members — Sue Bird, Tina Charles, Diana Taurasi, Maya Moore and Breanna Stewart — played for Auriemma at UConn. All won titles with the Huskies. Bird, Charles and Moore each won two titles; Taurasi was a three-time National Champion while Stewart won championships in all four of her years at Storrs, Connecticut.  

"They’re on the team because they’re really good," Auriemma said at the White House in May, according to USA Today. "They’re five of the best players in the world, and no matter who is coaching, they’d be on the team. I’m just fortunate enough to be the one coaching them."

The five are significant components for their WNBA squads. Bird (12.5 points and six assists per game) and Stewart (19.2 points and 9.3 rebounds per game) play together on the Seattle Storm; Charles averages 21.4 points and 9.6 rebounds for the New York Liberty. Moore has complied a 19.4 points /5.2 rebounds/4.4 assist slash line for the the Minnesota Lynx, while Taurasi, a star for the Phoenix Mercury, is averaging 18.9 points and 4.3 assists.  

Four of the five have represented America in Olympic competition. 

The Rio Games will be the fourth Olympics for Bird and Taurasi and the second straight Olympics for Charles and Moore

Stewart is the only member of the Huskies' Olympic outfit to never participate in the games, according to her Team USA profile. It bears noting that she's 21 and was selected first overall by the Storm in April.

"Well, first of all when I saw that [U.S. Women's Basketball National Team Director Carol Callan] was calling, I had a mini heart attack. Because I'm like, 'What's going to happen? I don't know! I don't know!' And then I answered it. … When she congratulated me, I was speechless. I did not know what to say," Stewart told The Hartford Courant after the Olympic team was announced in April.

"I've had a lot of great things happen throughout my career, but when you look at this and when you look at the opportunity to be able to go to the Olympics, that was my biggest goal in basketball," she said.

"It was the highest goal that I had set for myself. … Winning a fourth national championship, getting drafted, going to the Storm, and now this." Stewart added. "It's really amazing. I can't wait to get going and see what happens."

While his most recent star is looking forward to Rio, Auriemma’s focus is twofold:

Winning gold and enjoying the Olympics.

"It's only one game, it's not best of five, it's not best of seven. You have to play great every night and all it takes is one night where the other team plays better and you come home with something less than a gold medal," Auriemma told the Courant in July. 

"The [2012 London Summer Olympics] I was so fixated on, 'We have to win the gold medal, we have to win the gold medal,' and probably didn't really experience as much as I could have throughout the rest of the tournament," he said. "Going in this time, I want to do a much better job of playing it one day at a time and taking it one day at a time."

Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[North Carolina, Duke Basketball Stars Join Forces in Rio]]> Wed, 27 Jul 2016 13:49:47 -0400 http://media.nbcphiladelphia.com/images/213*120/CoachK-GettyImages-583560292.jpg

As he picked up the phone and began punching numbers, the Team USA men's basketball coach had a feeling of uncertainty.

After all, Mike Krzyzewski had made a similar call years ago, only to hear Harrison Barnes turn down his pitch to play for the Duke University Blue Devils.

This time, Krzyzewski was offering the former University of North Carolina star a spot on the U.S. Olympic Men's Basketball team.

And this time, Barnes, freshly signed to a four-year, $94.438 million contract by the Dallas Mavericks after spending four seasons with the Golden State Warriors, agreed.

"I thought you were going to say no again," Krzyzewski told Barnes, according to the Raleigh News & Observer.

Perhaps more than agreeing to play for the all-time winningest men’s college basketball coach, it can be argued Barnes said yes to finally being teammates with Cleveland Cavaliers star Kyrie Irving.

Krzyzewski had recruited Barnes and Irving with the idea they would be the cornerstones of the Duke team beginning in 2010, but Barnes settled on the University of North Carolina Tar Heels

Barnes played 75 games spanning two seasons with the Tar Heels before opting to ply his trade in the NBA. He averaged 16.3 points per game and 5.5 rebounds for teams that reached the Elite Eight in both of his two years at Chapel Hill.

Following a loss to second-seeded Kansas in the 2012 Midwest Regional Final, Barnes announced he was leaving North Carolina for the NBA.

"Chapel Hill is a special place. Over the past two years I've enjoyed every single moment of my Tar Heel experience. The road we took to reach the Elite Eight in 2011 and again in 2012 were great team accomplishments. I am thankful to UNC fans, my teammates, and to have played for Hall of Fame Coach Roy Williams and the entire coaching staff. Now it's time for the next course of my journey," Barnes said in a statement when he, John Henson and Kendall Marshall announced their decision to opt out of North Carolina. 

Irving, meanwhile, played under Krzyzewski for all of 11 games at Duke before the Cavaliers made the point guard the first overall pick in the 2011 NBA Draft.

Irving suffered a toe injury in the Blue Devils’ 83-48 win over Bradley, which sidelined him until the NCAA Tournament

A few weeks after Duke’s season-ending 93-77 loss to Arizona in the the 2011 Sweet 16, Irving announced he was leaving to go pro.

"It was a great experience playing for Coach K. He taught me a lot about the game. Even when I was hurt, I learned a lot. Also a special thanks goes to the medical staff for getting me back on the court for the NCAA Tournament and my teammates for sticking with me throughout the entire year. Duke offered me an experience I could never have imagined," Irving said in a statement released by Duke.

"This was a special year for me. I love everything about Duke and I'm going to miss it. Duke has a special place in my heart. Even though I'm leaving this year, Duke will always be in my mind and my heart. I'm going to miss putting on that No. 1 jersey," he added.

A little more than five years after saying goodbye to Krzyzewski, Irving will once again be able to call him his coach.

And now he’ll be able to play with Barnes, whom he plans on reminding — along with Draymond Green and Klay Thompson — about the Golden State Warriors' seven-game loss to Irving and the Cavaliers in the NBA Finals.

"There will be a few jabs thrown," Irving told ESPN Radio’s "Mike & Mike" radio show, according to CBS Sports. "There are three Warriors on this team, and I am the current champion, so I will be throwing it in their faces."

Photo Credit: NBAE/Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Spray Paint, Parking Lot Leads Lehigh Valley Native to Rio]]> Wed, 27 Jul 2016 13:33:56 -0400 http://media.nbcphiladelphia.com/images/213*120/Joe-Kovacs.jpg

It all started with spray paint and a parking lot.

Joe Kovacs didn’t practice in top-notch facilities. He didn’t have the best equipment, not even the best shoes. His high school, Bethlehem Catholic, didn’t even have a track.

“This is where it all started,” Kovac’s mom, Joanne, said, standing in the old parking lot, a can of spray paint in her hand.

Joe grew up in Nazareth, a small town that he says gave him a humble beginning. In a parking lot, Joanne would spray paint a circle on the edge of the pavement for Joe to stand in. From there, he'd throw the shot put into the adjacent field. 

"We didn't have a track, we didn't have a throwing ring," Joe said of his high school.

Joe started out playing football but practiced sprinting a lot to work on his speed. After sprinting practice, Joanne would practice shot put with Joe and a couple of his friends, working on building strength and ultimately becoming their coach. After graduating high school in 2007, Kovacs went on to Penn State University. But the training didn’t stop. And now, Joe is on his way to Rio.

“The only thing I’m thinking about is gold,” Joe told NBC Sports.

Preparing to wear the USA jersey, Joe says there’s no better feeling. And Joanne couldn’t be more proud.

“I’m just proud to see him wearing red, white and blue,” she said. “He’s in the right place, and I just feel good.”

Joe hasn't forgotten about Nazareth though, saying he's thankful for the supportive community and is excited to be back. Mostly, though, he's excited for the Nazareth Diner.

"Three french toasts, golden-brown, and they're perfect every time I go," Joe said, smiling. 

Joe isn't the only Penn Stater headed to Rio, though. 

Darby, Pennsylvania's Darrell Hill makes it a Philly-area two-fer competing in shot put in Rio. The duo will compete in the qualifying round on the morning of Aug. 18. The final round is later that night. 

Photo Credit: NBC]]>
<![CDATA[Eagle Keeps Making Magic on 'America's Got Talent']]> Thu, 28 Jul 2016 07:06:27 -0400 http://media.nbcphiladelphia.com/images/198*120/Jon+Dorenbos1.JPG

A Philadelphia Eagle has used a little magic to soar into the semifinals of the live rounds of NBC's popular reality show "America's Got Talent."

Jon Dorenbos, the team’s long snapper, performed a mind-blowing prediction in a bottle for judges Simon Cowell, Mel B, Howie Mandel and Heidi Klum live on Tuesday night. [[388350442, C]]

The judges were wowed as Dorenbos read their minds even Cowell's famous "No." The veteran snapper got a standing ovation from the crowd as he yelled "I'm Jon Dorenbos, peace out!"

"He represents us, the organization, this city on that show," said Eagles head coach Doug Pedersen.

Fans of the show and team backed Dorenbos and pushed him into the semi-finals next week. It's unclear how he will balance his magic fame with his duties as Eagles long-snapper since Eagles veterans reported for training camp Wednesday. He is due in Philly for the first set of training tests Thursday.

He will continue to make the trip between Philadelphia and Los Angeles next week. Luckily for him, the Eagles don't have practice scheduled for next Tuesday.

Dorenbos has performed card tricks for teammates during his time as a Pro Bowl long-snapper. He regularly performs as a motivational speaker and comedy magician in the off-season, according to the Eagles’ website.

Photo Credit: NBC
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<![CDATA[Eagles' Nigel Bradham Arrested for Assaulting Miami Hotel Worker: Police]]> Tue, 26 Jul 2016 23:44:33 -0400 http://media.nbcphiladelphia.com/images/213*120/Nigel+Bradham+Mug1.jpg

Philadelphia Eagles linebacker and former Florida State University star Nigel Bradham was arrested following an incident at a Miami Beach hotel.

Bradham, who plays for the Eagles but lives in South Florida during the offseason, turned himself in to Miami Beach police on Monday after allegedly assaulting a worker at the Hilton Bentley hotel last Thursday.

According to a Miami Beach Police incident report, the 26-year-old was among a group of six people who started arguing with the employee over the time it took for the worker to bring them an umbrella they had paid for. The verbal argument escalated to a physical altercation.

The worker, 50-year-old Jean Courtois, told NBC 6 he needed a drill to fix the umbrella but apparently wasn't moving fast enough for Bradham.

"I saw the drill, then I'm going to try to take the drill to come to fix the umbrella for them," Courtois said. "He say 'hey, I pay my money for me to set up for me to fix the chair for me. You don't want to fix the umbrella for me.' Then I say 'ok, I'm going to try to take care of it for you.' Then he hit me in my head."

A glass bottle was allegedly broken over Courtois' head, causing cuts and lacerations, including one to the back of his head, the incident report charges. Courtois said his nose is broken and his left eye is swollen shut as a result of the attack.

An arrest report claims Bradham "without provocation, struck the victim in the nose with a closed fist, causing the victim to fall to the ground."

The six people then fled the scene, running toward Ocean Drive and entering a vehicle before speeding away, authorities said. A phone was discovered at the scene, which was turned over to police as evidence along with a receipt showing Bradham paid for the umbrella with his credit card.

The Eagles said in a statement that the team is aware of the incident and have been in contact with Bradham and the "proper authorities."

"Due to the ongoing legal process, we will have no further comment at this time,” the Eagles added.

Cars were parked in the driveway at Bradham's home in Miramar Tuesday but no one answered the door.

Bradham was an All-ACC linebacker during his senior season at Florida State before being drafted by the Buffalo Bills in 2012. After four seasons, Bradham signed a two-year deal with the Eagles earlier this year.

It was not immediately clear if Bradham had an attorney.

Photo Credit: Miami Beach Police]]>