What does success look like for LeBron’s Lakers?

In the moments after the Game 1 loss in the NBA Finals in May, a combination of rage, frustration and disappointment led LeBron James to explode in the visitors’ locker room in Oakland and punch a whiteboard, cracking a bone in his hand.

James’ teammates and coaches had never seen James quite in that state. It was an extreme example of his intense competitive spirit. Even though his Cleveland Cavaliers were heavy underdogs to the Golden State Warriors, James very much believed that he could lead the team to an upset.

This is James’ personality, it’s who he is. He plays to win and he competes at the highest level regardless of the circumstance. As he has said on numerous occasions: “Any team that has me has a chance.”cheap nfl nike jerseys from china

When he doesn’t win, it can devastate him. Some of the darkest times in his career have been after Finals losses. His euphoria in 2012, when he got his first title after several Finals defeats, and then in 2016, when he won in Cleveland, were a result of shedding the pain as much as victory.7

In the weeks after this past NBA Finals, James and his friends and family had deep discussions on how he’d psychologically manage a move to the Los Angeles Lakers. The Lakers are on a different timeline toward a championship than any team James had been on for more than a decade. Even before his eight straight NBA Finals appearances, he was on back-to-back 60-win teams that were upset before the Finals. For the 2018-19 season, Vegas has the Lakers’ win total pegged at 48.

“Ad nauseum” was how one of the people involved in the decision-making described the frequency of the talks about how different this journey would feel. James’ goals, definition of success and management of failure have to evolve. And those who know him best know it’s going to be an ongoing challenge to accept his new circumstances. After all, the Lakers now have him.

“I’m not a very patient guy, but I understand that I have to be,” James said this week. “I’ve got to be patient with myself too because this is a new start for me.”china nike nfl jerseys cheap

James was answering a question about Lakers’ expectations but also repeating a mantra in some respects. Known for posting quotes in his locker and writing reminders on his shoes, perhaps his own quote on the matter would be useful for him to refer to as the next six months unfold.

Drafting these players could make or break your fantasy hoops season

Rolling the dice means confronting the prospect of drafting a single player that could, all on his very own, make or break your season.

At its core, winning in fantasy hoops is about one thing: maximizing return on your draft-day investment. You need to create differentiation between your team’s numbers and your fellow pseudo general managers. To do that, you’ll have to balance risk versus reward in some extreme configurations.

If you’re in it to win it, you’ll need to venture out of your comfort zone and take a player with at least one red flag.

Red flags come in all shapes, sizes and hues. There are a lot of “maybes” in fantasy hoops.nike nfl jerseys cheap china

Maybe a player is coming off a season-ending injury and has a return date you can’t trust. Maybe a player just switched teams. Maybe a player just got relegated to a sixth-man role. Maybe a player is getting up there in years. Maybe a player is still a couple of seasons away from his peak. Maybe a player has a key statistical flaw you’ll have to build the rest of your team around. Maybe a player is playing for a coach he can’t stand … and the feeling is mutual.6

I play in a lot of expert leagues. To win in those, I’m looking to take at least two big swings. Players that might scare other experts off, but will provide the statistical differentiation I’ll need to succeed.

Let’s take a look at some polarizing options that could single-handedly make or break your season.

(For the purposes of this discussion, I’m going off of our preseason points rankings.)china nike nfl jerseys cheap

Do you take Antetokoumpo No. 1 overall in a points league? Will he finish the season at No. 1 on the Player Rater? There’s no question the Greek Freak is a top-five asset, but is his considerable upside worth risking a No. 1 overall pick over more established uber-talents like James Harden and Anthony Davis?

If you’re picking No. 1 overall and you miss — even by a few draft slots — the squandered value can tank your team.

If you wager on Antetokoumpo at No. 1, you’re betting on the 23-year-old’s considerable upside. Unlike Harden and Davis, Antetokoumpo still has room to grow. In 2017-18, he only posted a middling 76.0 FT percentage. And although his 3-point production improved as the season progressed, he still only finished with a 30.7 3PT percentage.

What makes Steelers-Ravens special? Close calls and ‘car wrecks’

When safety Eric Weddle played for the then-San Diego Chargers, he would look at the calendar for the nationally televised Baltimore Ravens-Pittsburgh Steelers game and circle it.

“That’s the game everyone watches because of the competitiveness, the fight and the passion between the two teams,” said Weddle, who is set to start in his fifth Ravens-Steelers game on Sunday night. “It’s just one of the best games to play in.”

The faces of the NFL‘s most heated rivalry have changed from Ray Lewis and Hines Ward to Terrell Suggs and Ben Roethlisberger.

But what made this divisional feud so good a decade ago — the physical hits, dramatic finishes and big-game ramifications — still exists today.cheap nfl jerseys china nike

Asked if it’s fun to play in this rivalry, Roethlisberger answered, “Yes and no.”6

The Steelers quarterback has enjoyed competing against the likes of Lewis, Suggs and Ed Reed but … “you feel like you’ve been in about five or six car wrecks.”

Why this has been a must-watch game is because the lifeblood of this rivalry has been bad blood.nike nfl jerseys cheap china

In 2002, Ravens cornerback James Trapp stomped cleats-first on Plaxico Burress. A year later, Steelers linebacker Joey Porter ran out to the Ravens’ buses after a game to pick a fight with Lewis.

Over the past decade, Roethlisberger has had his nose broken by Ravens defensive tackle Haloti Ngata, and Lewis ended Pittsburgh running back Rashard Mendenhall’s season by breaking a shoulder.

When Big Ben leaves, the party begins in Steelers locker room

That the needle dropped when the quarterback departed was no coincidence.

“You’ve got to respect what he wants,” Darrius Heyward-Bey said. “He’s not here, it’s party time.”

There’s an unwritten rule in the Steelers locker room that Roethlisberger works to protect — no blaring loud music during core business hours.cheap nike nfl jerseys wholesale

Players cultivate a casual, laugh-heavy atmosphere each day, but from 8 a.m. until post-practice showers between 3 and 4 p.m., musical silence is black and golden.5

Roethlisberger says the Steelers’ setup has been this way since he arrived in 2004 and veterans such as Alan Faneca and Brett Keisel kept the speakers off.

Now, at 36, Roethlisberger is upholding the tradition, though he’s not trying to be the get-off-my-lawn dad.

“That’s one of the reasons they invented headphones, so you can listen to your music,” said Roethlisberger with a laugh. “If you want to listen to music, that’s no problem, we just don’t want to have to hear it at other people’s lockers. It’s just kind of always been that tradition and we try to keep it going.”cheap nfl jerseys china nike

Roethlisberger occasionally enforces the rule with teammates, either in person or via his long-distance connection.

“Usually I’ll send AB [Antonio Brown] a text on the other side of the locker room,” Roethlisberger said. “I’ll be like, ‘AB, music.’ He’ll look down and say, my bad. It’s pretty funny. We have fun with it. He’ll say like, it’s Vinny [Williams] or somebody else. It’s usually done in fun. It’s not really serious. But I try to keep that tradition alive.”

Players don’t need Roethlisberger to formally address the team about the music, Heyward-Bey said. The rules are understood, and players get a feeling about how things should be.

Gor Mahia identify Batambuze as Walusimbi replacement

Gor Mahia have identified Uganda’s Shafik Batambuze as a potential replacement for Godfrey Walusimbi, according to the club’s CEO Lordvick Aduda.

Walusimbi left Got for Kaizer Chiefs in August after four years at the club, but the Kenyan champions appear to have identified a replacement.nike nfl jerseys for cheap

“We are in talks [with Batambuze],” Aduda told KweséESPN. “He is a quality player who our technical bench feel can fill that left-back position.”

Gor must wait until December to complete the player’s transfer and registration.6

“The window is currently closed, so there’s little we can do right now,” Aduda added, “but talks are at a very advanced stage.

“The player has also expressed his willingness to join us.”

Batambuze is no stranger in the Kenyan Premier League, having featured for Sofapaka, Western Stima and Tusker FC.cheap nike nfl jerseys china

He left the last of these to sign for his most recent employers, Singida United of Tanzania, in May 2017, having won the Kenyan Premier League and Gotv Shield titles with Tusker in 2016.

Known for his prowess from set-pieces, Batambuze was part of the Uganda squad at the 2017 Africa Cup of Nations.

Alfred Duncan aiming high as Ghana return looms

When Ghana assemble in mid-October for the next instalment of 2019 Africa Cup of Nations qualifiers, one player may well find himself central to the big decisions that coach Kwesi Appiah has to make.nike nfl jerseys for cheap

Alfred Duncan has not featured for the Black Stars for a year, yet his club career continues to go from strength to strength, and he’s started the Serie A season strongly with Sassuolo.

His consistency, prowess with his left foot, and presence in midfield have won him many admirers in Italy, and will have prompted increased expectations among supporters back home.

“It hurts that I have been ignored, because everyone wants to play international football,” he told KweséESPN.5

“It is a compliment to be considered good enough for your country, and all I can personally do is to make my case by playing well at club level.”

Duncan has certainly started the season strongly; he’s been a regular for fifth-placed Sassuolo in a manner that star man Thomas Partey has not managed at Atletico Madrid.

He’s also eclipsed another Ghanaian in Serie A, Afriyie Acquah, who started the Black Stars’ last match in Kenya

It is a start to the season that has Duncan, the former Inter Milan player, buzzing with a lot of confidence.

“Normally, in the past, I play two good games and then my level drops the next,” he added.new nike nfl jerseys cheap

“This time, the level has been consistent, and everyday I feel better about myself. I get more minutes on the pitch, which works magic for any player.”

Trevor Story returns to Colorado Rockies’ lineup

Trevor Story is going over the top to get back on the field, altering his throwing motion to take some of the stress off his sore right elbow.

The Colorado Rockies All-Star shortstop returned to the lineup Monday night after missing a week with the ailment. Story was set to bat fifth as the playoff-chasing Rockies open a four-game series against the Philadelphia Phillies.cheap nfl nike jerseys from china

“It’s tough just sitting and watching,” Story said. “It’s not ideal. The timing of it was pretty brutal. Just really tried to keep my focus on the treatment and getting better.”

Story tweaked his elbow on a throw in the first inning Sept. 17 in Los Angeles and aggravated it on a swing in the fourth.

“It’s gotten better every single day, and I’m ready to play,” Story said.

Story has been practicing throwing from a more straightaway angle, which cuts down on elbow stress. He also worked on spin moves Sunday in Arizona and said “it felt good.”

“There are little things I can do to take pressure off,” he said.10

At the plate, the elbow doesn’t really bother him.

“But you can’t say so until the game,” he quickly added.

Story, 25, is in the midst of a breakout season, hitting .288 with 33 homers and 102 RBIs. He recently became the first shortstop in major league history with at least 40 doubles, 30 home runs and 25 steals in a season.

His return couldn’t come at a more opportune time. The Rockies started Monday trailing the NL West-leading Dodgers by 1½ games. It’s a name that manager Bud Black was all too happy to pencil back into the heart of the order behind Nolan Arenado, who has 34 homers and 103 RBIs this season.nike nfl jerseys cheap china

“He’s one of our best players. He plays a premium position and hits in the middle of the order. So it’s quite a presence we didn’t have for a week of games,” Black said. “He’s one of our core players and one of best in the National League.”

In other Rockies health news, left-hander Tyler Anderson was scratched from his start after he experienced shoulder soreness and replaced by right-hander Jon Gray. Starter-turned-reliever Chad Bettis is slated to pitch Tuesday.

“We decided to do what’s best for the team,” said Anderson, 6-9 with a 4.76 ERA this season. “It’s frustrating. I want to take the ball every fifth day. I can’t think about that now, I just have to think about getting back as quick as I can.”

Dwyane Wade’s last dance with Heat begins

Dwyane Wade doesn’t know how this whole notion of his final season being called “The Last Dance” even started.

Fun fact: He can’t dance.

But the three-time champion and 12-time All-Star can still play, and the Miami Heat are hoping — and expecting — Wade to still be extremely valuable in this, his 16th and last season in the NBA. And at Heat media day Monday, Wade said that even he doesn’t know what to fully expect from what will be the last months of his playing career.nike nfl jerseys wholesale cheap

“I have no idea what I want out of this year,” Wade said. “We’re going to be able to figure this thing out as the year goes on. It’s going to take on a life of its own. … To me, that is the beauty of it, is that I do not know and we do not know.”11

Starting Tuesday, the story starts getting told.

Wade and the Heat head about 45 minutes north to Florida Atlantic University in Boca Raton, Florida for training camp — five straight days of workouts preceding Sunday’s preseason opener at San Antonio. Decisions will have to be made quickly about playing time and roles, and part of that formula is figuring out how Wade best fits into coach Erik Spoelstra’s plan.cheap nike nfl jerseys paypal

“Most pro athletes, unfortunately, they don’t get to know when the end is — or at least they’re the last ones to know and it’s certainly not on their terms,” Spoelstra said. “He has this incredible blessing to know when that finish line will be and be able to have the perspective to make every day matter. It’s the right player, the right organization, the right coaching staff, the right timing for all of this.”

Wade said one of the reasons why he’s back is to fulfill a promise to Udonis Haslem that they would end their careers together. Later Monday, Haslem — also entering his 16th season with Miami — confirmed that he is retiring when this season ends.

“I don’t have a video,” Haslem deadpanned after climbing — without a ladder — atop a backboard on the Heat practice floor.

Wade announced his decision in a 10-minute video released on Sept. 16 that he was coming back for a final season, after at one time leaning about “90 percent” toward retirement over the summer. He agreed to a minimum contract worth $2.4 million, or roughly about $200,000 less than he made in his rookie season after the Heat took the Marquette guard with the No. 5 pick in the 2003 draft.

“At the end of the day, he’s a Hall of Famer,” Heat point guard Goran Dragic said. “He still can produce. He showed that last year. He can still take over a game at any time. And just to have him on the court is special. His ability, his aura, his presence on the floor, it influences everyone. It’s contagious, know what I mean? His confidence spreads, his ability, it’s a feeling that’s so good for us.”

Andre Drummond: Pistons’ Dwane Casey gave me ‘green light’ to shoot 3s

Detroit Pistons center Andre Drummond said he’s been given the “green light” by new coach Dwane Casey to shoot 3-pointers this season.nike nfl jerseys wholesale cheap

Drummond, who’s made just five 3-point field goals in his six seasons with the Pistons, said he has worked on his perimeter shooting throughout the offseason and his career.

The 6-foot-11, 279-pounder said he will still be selective with his long-range shots.8

“It’s not something I’m going to just start jacking up randomly,” Drummond said Monday. “They’re going to be opportunity 3s. [Casey] has given me the green light to shoot it, and if somebody backs up off me, I’m gonna shoot it.”

Drummond, 25, averaged 15 points and a league-leading 16 rebounds last season with the Pistons but shot 0-for-11 from 3-point range. He is 5-for-30 in his career from beyond the arc but reiterated he won’t hesitate if he’s “wide open.”cheap nike nfl jerseys paypal

“It’s not something ]where] I’m gonna just come down and [shoot] pull-up 3s,” Drummond said. “If I’m contested, I’m not going to shoot the pull-up 3. But if I’m wide open and someone backs up off me, I’m gonna shoot it.”

The Dolphins-Mike Martz special: Inside trick play made Miami 3-0

Adam Gase had a secretive smirk on his face as he watched Albert Wilson line up everywhere on the practice field. It was coming, but nobody knew exactly when. The Oakland Raiders had no idea.

Wilson had played running back, receiver, wildcat QB and took reverses in his first two games as a Dolphin. But Gase knew he’d eventually let his do-it-all weapon pass the rock soon. Real soon.

The time came with 7 minutes, 32 seconds left in the fourth quarter of Sunday’s game against the Raiders. cheap official nike nfl jerseys The Miami Dolphins were just two yards shy of midfield, down 17-14, with a first-and-10.

Ryan Tannehill took the snap under center and faked a toss to the right to receiver Jakeem Grant, who was lined up in the backfield. Tannehill then turned to handed the ball off to Gore, who was lined up as an H-back on the right side. Gore smoothly handed it off to Wilson, who was in motion from his flanker position on the left side.12

Wilson sold it well, looking if he was going to run it on the reverse, which gave Raiders linebacker Marquel Lee happy feet trying to figure out what was happening. Wilson quickly got in throwing motion and delivered a pass 25 yards in the air to Grant on a wheel route.

Grant made an open-field move to make Raiders safety Marcus Gilchrist miss around the 15-yard line. It was a key portion of the play because it led to the TD, and because Grant didn’t want to be $100 lighter in his wallet. Grant and Wilson have a $100 fine with each other if they are tackled in the open field.

The team embraced in the end zone and on the sideline after the successful trick play. It gave the Dolphins a 21-17 lead, their first of the game, and led to a 28-20 win. Miami is now 3-0 and sports a two-game AFC East lead as it heads to New England on Sunday.

The play had some elements of the Philly Special, a play the Philadelphia Eagles ran at the end of the first half of their Super Bowl LII victory. The Dolphins wouldn’t reveal the play’s name, but it isn’t original. We’ll just call it the Dolphins-Mike Martz special.

“It was just straight thievery. I mean we stole it. It’s an old Martz play,” Gase said. “It’s just nobody watches his old stuff. They might now.”nfl nike jerseys cheap china

Martz, who coached the Rams’ “Greatest Show on Turf” teams and currently is the head coach of Alliance San Diego, visited Gase for a week at the end of training camp. Gase considers Martz the most influential mentor he’s learned from his coaching career. The two specifically discussed how to expand the packages of Wilson and Grant, two of their fastest and most versatile playmakers.