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Shaquille O’Neal addresses appearance on Netflix’s ‘Tiger King,’ says he ‘had no idea’ what went on behind scenes at zoo


Shaquille O’Neal is playing some defense while the NBA season remains suspended.

The Hall of Fame center attempted to clarify his brief appearance on the hit Netflix documentary “Tiger King,” saying that while he loves big cats, he “had no idea” what was going on at the Oklahoma ranch owned by Joseph Maldonado-Passage, the now-imprisoned title character known as “Joe Exotic.”

O’Neal appeared in the opening episode of the seven-part series. Video showed him touring the zoo and taking pictures with the animals and then cut to him referencing the visit the next night while on TNT’s NBA broadcast, saying, “Shout-out to Exotic Joe” and “I got two more tigers.”

Joe Exotic was sentenced to 22 years in prison in January, after he was found guilty of multiple charges, including murder-plot-for-hire and illegally selling tiger cubs.

O’Neal, during a recent episode of “The Big Podcast With Shaq,” explained his appearance.

“So we go in there, and it’s a beautiful place, and the character that was there was Exotic Joe,” O’Neal said. “We’re there, and I dropped some donations for the tigers’ foods and all that. We take pictures with [the] tigers. We went back a couple times. Then we go back another time, and we found out that he’s involved with all the stuff, and then, actually, I stopped going.”

O’Neal noted that though he does donate to help tigers, he never bought any of the animals from Joe Exotic, nor is he friends with him.

“I don’t harm tigers,” O’Neal said. “I love tigers. I love white tigers. Do I put donations to these zoos to help these tigers out? I do it all the time. Do I own tigers personally at my house? No. But I love tigers. Listen, people are going to make their own opinions, but again, I was just a visitor. I met this guy — not my friend. Don’t know him. Never had any business dealings with him, and I had no idea any of that stuff was going on.”



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Jim Valvano and Lorenzo Charles will forever be connected by a dunk at the 1983 NCAA tournament


In a shady section of Raleigh’s Oakwood Cemetery, the two men were laid to rest 18 years and maybe 20 yards apart.

A headstone marks one with the words Take time every day to laugh, to think to cry. There lies Jim Valvano, taken by cancer in 1993 at the age of 47. Not far away, Lorenzo Charles, killed in an accident in 2011, also at 47. Two men who, by chance, shared nearly the same burial site, but will also forever be connected by a dunk — and a moment that is part of the beating heart of NCAA tournament history.

The replay never grows old, no matter how many gazillion times it gets shown each March. Valvano racing around the court, searching for somebody — anybody — to hug, his face lit up by the remarkable national championship that had dropped from the Albuquerque sky and landed in North Carolina State’s lap. Lorenzo Charles had just turned an airball into a dunk at the buzzer, and the Wolfpack had stunned supposedly unstoppable Houston 54-52, to be become one of the Cinderella stories in perpetuity for March. A team that, Valvano would one day say, “taught us about dreams.”

MORE: Help pick the greatest March Madness moment of all-time

Survive and advance. Every tournament team understands the mission, but it was North Carolina State that gave the term a face and a fairy tale in 1983. First, the ACC tournament, when the 10-loss Wolfpack escaped the tournament bubble with three wins by a combined 11 points. That included an overtime victory against North Carolina, the cause no doubt helped by the fouling out in regulation of a certain Tar Heel named Michael Jordan.

Then came the March of miracles in the NCAA tournament.

There was the 69-67 win over Pepperdine in two overtimes in the first round, the Wolfpack coming from six points back in the last 30 seconds of the first OT. The rally was made possible because Dane Suttle, who today still owns the fourth best free throw shooting percentage in Pepperdine history, twice missed the front end of bonus situations.

Next came the 71-70 win over UNLV in the second round, when the Rebels blew a 12-point lead by missing several free throws, and Thurl Bailey saved North Carolina State with a tip-in in the final seconds.

Later, the 63-62 Elite Eight victory over Ralph Sampson and Virginia, when the Cavaliers outshot the Wolfpack 63.4-47.3 percent and still lost, plagued, too, by a crucial miss from the line.

MARCH MADNESS: 11 details you might not know about Texas Western’s ’66 win vs. Kentucky

The 67-60 win over Georgia in the Final Four was relatively a stroll in the park in Albuquerque. But that left Houston, a dunking and dynamic machine that had acquired its own nickname. Phi Slama Jama. But Valvano kept using the word destiny about his team, and when the Cougars blew a late seven-point by — of course — missing free throws, North Carolina State was tied, with the ball at the end. The Wolfpack needed only one last lightning bolt to finish the job. And that’s when Dereck Whittenburg put up a 30-foot prayer as time was about to run out. It was so off-line and looked so harmless — but suddenly Charles was there to grab the wayward airball and slam it home. Somewhere in the vicinity was Houston’s towering Akeem Olajuwon, and an enduring mystery from that moment is why Olajuwon is nowhere to be seen, as Charles stuck a stake through his team’s heart.

Phi Slama Jama, who had lived by the dunk, died by the dunk.

No team with 10 defeats had ever won the national championship. It was a vivid, unforgettable example of a team believing in the magic its coach was trying so hard to sell, and using that belief to escape one crisis after another. And also, it showed how good fortune can turn into a weapon of mass destruction in March.

“One bounce here or there, and we’re gone,” Whittenburg said. And consider this: Four of the Wolfpack NCAA Tournament victories were by a combined six points. In those four games, the opponents missed 40 free throws. Pepperdine, UNLV, Virginia and Houston were a combined 53-for-93 from the line. “I wish,” North Carolina’s Dean Smith was quoted as saying somewhere along there, “that I had Jim Valvano’s defense against the free throw.”

To stand in Oakwood Cemetery is remember the night they electrified the sport — the man buried over here, and the man buried over there. Both were gone too soon. Charles, the epitome of what glory and fame can come from being in the perfectly right place at the perfectly right time. And Valvano, the man who ran around a court and gave college basketball the gift of an immortal image of joy.



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Stephon Marbury Plans to Deliver New York 10 Million Masks


Former Knicks star point guard Stephon Marbury is looking to help his hometown by delivering 10 million N95 masks to New York’s hospital workers and other first responders amid the coronavirus global pandemic.

Marbury says he has made arrangements with a mask supplier in China willing to sell each mask for $2.75 (well below the $7.50 that retailers are quoting the state.)

The masks would be delivered 2 million at a time over five weeks, but there’s plenty of political and administrative gridlock to get through first.

Per The NY Post:

“At the end of the day, I am from Brooklyn,” Marbury said during a call from his Beijing home. “This is something that is close and dear to my heart as far as being able to help New York.

“I have family there in Coney Island, a lot of family … who are affected by this, so I know how important it is for people to have masks during this time.”

Despite the good intentions, Adams’ efforts to connect with Gov. Andrew Cuomo and Mayor Bill de Blasio’s staff to present Marbury’s offer have gone anything but smoothly.

“We’ve been communicating back and forth with the city and state, and for some reason they are saying they don’t need any more masks, but the hospitals are saying they do,” Adams said Thursday.

Related Stephon Marbury Talks Life Journey in Ultimate Interview with Dennis Page





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Rumor: NBA considering resuming 2020 season in a single site with shortened playoffs – ProBasketballTalk


The Nets have it all on paper.

Stars (Kevin Durant, Kyrie Irving). Quality younger players (Spencer Dinwiddie, Caris LeVert, Jarrett Allen). Draft picks (net even on future first-rounders).

But Brooklyn’s road from upstart contender has been rocky.

Irving tested the Nets with his moodiness before the season. He also called it “glaring” Brooklyn needed roster upgrades. The Nets fired Kenny Atkinson, who had proven adept at player development but evidently never connected enough with Durant and Irving.

How will Brooklyn take the next step?

Brian Windhorst of ESPN:

I believe they’ve telegraphed that they intend to try to use some of their young talent to acquire a third star along Kyrie and Durant. Now, we can get enter a healthy debate here about whether Caris LeVert is that third star, and they may make the decision that he is. But my feel and reading the tea leaves, paying attention to what Sean Marks has said and also being aware of some conversations that they had at the trade deadline, which was some sticking the toe in the water on some things, I think that they are going to swing for the fences whenever the offseason comes.

I also believe the Nets will try to trade for a third star. It’s the natural direction of a team that just signed two stars, and Irving appears antsy.

But I’d also caution: Every team wants another star. Brooklyn engaging teams about their stars before the trade deadline isn’t necessarily telling. It could be easy to overstate the significance of those conversations. It depends on their tenor.

That said, the Nets have expendable assets to make better offers than many other teams.

Dinwiddie hasn’t clicked on the court with Irving in two-point guard lineups. Best with the ball, LeVert is somewhat redundant with Durant and Irving. Allen has been repeatedly slighted in Brooklyn, most recently losing his starting job to DeAndre Jordan (Durant’s and Irving’s friend).

Yet, Dinwiddie, LeVert and Allen are all talented with potential to perform even better elsewhere. That ought to intrigue other teams.

Star trades usually require a disgruntled star. Teams rarely move a star without an internal push, including an approaching free agency. There’s no obvious target right now.

But expect the Nets to be on the prowl.



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ESPN NBA Analyst Doris Burke


ESPN NBA Analyst Doris Burke

ESPN NBA Analyst Doris Burke joins The Woj Pod to reveal that she has tested positive for the COVID-19 virus, including details of her symptoms, her hospital testing experience and her recovery process. In opening up, she is hopeful to make more people aware of the importance of social distancing and other important measures being taken to try and combat the pandemic.



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O.J. Mayo Nears Deal With Chinese League Team


While the Chinese Basketball Association’s plan to resume play following their hiatus was been postponed, teams continue to make moves in preparation for action.

The Liaoning Flying Leopards, who currently employ Lance Stephenson and Brandon Bass, are nearing a deal with former NBA lottery pick O.J. Mayo.

According to ESPN’s Kevin Wang, the 32-year-old is in the midst of a 14-day quarantine, after which he’ll seek medical clearance to suit up for the squad as their third permitted import player.

Mayo has played for several international basketball teams in Puerto Rico and Asia since he was suspended from the NBA in the summer of 2016 but hasn’t yet played in the CBA, China’s premier league.

Mayo has been eligible for reinstatement to the NBA since 2018-19 but it’s unclear if he’s formally applied for it. The Milwaukee Bucks renounced his rights at the time of the suspension, so he’d be an unrestricted free agent if he ever returned stateside.





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Bridges leads Suns to victory in first NBA 2K game broadcast on radio


Mikal Bridges pulled through in the clutch, leading his squad to 27 points in the fourth quarter as the Phoenix Suns‘ NBA 2K team scored a 75-64 victory Friday over the Philadelphia 76ers.

“I don’t even know how to play this game,” Sixers player Matisse Thybulle joked.

“I’ve been playing the last 48 [hours],” Bridges said.

Perhaps that extra bit of practice was all the difference.

Read more: Rhys Hoskins leads Phillies to MLB The Show win | Simulations fill the void with sports on hold

The twist is that Philly native Bridges was controlling his Suns, while Thybulle, from the Phoenix suburb of Scottsdale, Arizona, took charge of his 76ers.

The Suns jumped ahead in the second quarter, taking an 11-point lead into halftime. Philly surged back, scoring 21 in the third and holding Phoenix to six to take a four-point lead into the final frame before Bridges and the Suns pulled away.

If it wasn’t the extra practice, it was Twitch chat calling for substitutions. When Philly took control of the game — in part because of exhausted pixelated Suns players — Bridges noticed the call to action and corrected course, leading to a bounce-back for the Suns.

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Amid the pause in sports due to the coronavirus pandemic, the Suns have embraced creating season-simulation content more than most other teams that are also doing it. Even the Suns’ official website schedule has been updated to include Twitch links. Every game is treated like an event, with different athletes and influencers taking part, often with little wrinkles being added along the way.

This game included a bingo card filled with entries such as “Ayton dunks” and “Rubio rebound” that fans could use to follow along. It was also the first broadcast to be called on the radio, as Suns radio play-by-play announcer Jon Bloom and Suns color analyst Tim Kempton called the NBA 2K game on Arizona Sports KMVP-FM 98.7, an ESPN Radio station based in Phoenix. According to the Suns’ press release, it was the first NBA 2K game ever called on the radio.

Despite audio issues in the fourth quarter and the game starting time being pushed back an hour, the game consistently saw 12,000 viewers on Twitch and Twitter, which is consistent with the number of viewers from previous games. The Suns’ next scheduled broadcast is Saturday against the Miami Heat.



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2021 March Madness: Complete schedule, dates


The 2021 March Madness tournament will see 68 teams make up the field. After Selection Sunday on March 14, action continues through to the Final Four in Indianapolis on April 3 and 5.

Games begin in Dayton, Ohio, with the First Four on March 16 and 17. The First Round then gets underway on March 18 and 19 in eight locations throughout the country. Here’s the schedule:

  • Selection Sunday: March 14
  • First Four: March 16-17
  • First Round: March 18-19
  • Second Round: March 20-21
  • Sweet 16: March 25-26
  • Elite Eight: March 27-28
  • Final Four (national semifinals): April 3
  • National Championship: April 5

2021 March Madness: Complete schedule, dates

Here’s the rundown of the schedule, including dates for each round and location of the 2021 NCAA tournament.

Round Date City
Selection Sunday March 14 N/A
First Four March 16-17 Dayton, Ohio
First/Second March 18 and 20 Boise, Idaho
First/Second March 18 and 20 Dallas, Texas
First/Second March 18 and 20 Detroit, Michigan
First/Second March 18 and 20 Providence, Rhode Island
First/Second March 19 and 21 Lexington, Kentucky
First/Second March 19 and 21 Raleigh, North Carolina
First/Second March 19 and 21 San Jose, California
First/Second March 19 and 21 Wichita, Kansas
Sweet 16/Elite Eight March 25 and 27 Denver, Colorado
Sweet 16/Elite Eight March 25 and 27 Minneapolis, Minnesota
Sweet 16/Elite Eight March 26 and 28 Brooklyn, New York
Sweet 16/Elite Eight March 26 and 28 Memphis, Tennessee
Final Four April 3 and 5 Indianapolis

March Madness: Future sites, dates

Here are the future sites for the NCAA Division I men’s basketball Final Four:

Final Four Dates Hosts City, State Facility
April 3/5, 2021 Horizon League, IUPUI Indianapolis, IN Lucas Oil Stadium
April 2/4, 2022 Tulane University New Orleans, LA Mercedes-Benz Superdome
April 1/3, 2023 Rice University, University of Houston, 
Houston Baptist University, Texas Southern University
Houston, TX NRG Stadium
April 6/8, 2024 Arizona State University Phoenix, AZ State Farm Stadium
April 5/7, 2025 University of Texas at San Antonio, University of the Incarnate Word San Antonio, TX Alamodome
April 4/6, 2026 Horizon League, IUPUI Indianapolis, IN Lucas Oil Stadium

WATCH: The greatest comebacks in March Madness history

And here are all the locations for the 2022 NCAA tournament:

ROUND DATE CITY
Selection Sunday March 13 N/A
First Four March 15-16 Dayton, Ohio
First/Second March 17 and 19 Buffalo, New York
First/Second March 17 and 19 Cincinnati, Ohio
First/Second March 17 and 19 Fort Worth, Texas
First/Second March 17 and 19 Portland, Oregon
First/Second March 18 and 20 Greenville, South Carolina
First/Second March 18 and 20 Milwaukee, Wisconsin
First/Second March 18 and 20 Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania
First/Second March 18 and 20 San Diego, California
Sweet 16/Elite Eight March 24 and 26 San Antonio, Texas
Sweet 16/Elite Eight March 24 and 26 San Francisco, California
Sweet 16/Elite Eight March 25 and 27 Chicago, Illinois
Sweet 16/Elite Eight March 25 and 27 Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
Final Four April 2 and 4 New Orleans

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Coaches throughout the country, across all sports, are doing their best to make sure their teams remain physically and mentally healthy despite student-athletes being scattered across the country.

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A closer look at Villanova’s last-second victory over North Carolina in the 2016 national championship game

Hall-of-Fame writer Mike Lopresti recounts Villanova’s last-second victory over North Carolina in the 2016 national championship game.

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Why Magic vs. Bird forever changed college basketball

Relive the 11-point game in Utah when Magic Johnson and Michigan State faced Larry Bird and Indiana State and changed their sport forever.

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