Silver, Macron meet to discuss goals with NBA back in Paris
PARIS (AP) — NBA Commissioner Adam Silver and French President Emmanuel Macron met this week in Paris to talk about ways they can help one another grow the game in France and beyond. The meeting comes with good timing given that French star Victor Wembanyama is about to enter the NBA and the Paris Olympics are about 18 months away. Silver also said the NBA wants to play in Paris again next year. And before that happens, the league is still working with players on a new labor deal. There’s also plans coming together to celebrate LeBron James becoming the NBA scoring leader, which could happen in the coming weeks.
Cowboys-49ers rivalry set for record-tying 9th playoff game
SANTA CLARA, Calif. (AP) — For Kyle Shanahan, the chance to coach the San Francisco 49ers against the Dallas Cowboys in a playoff game is a throwback to when that rivalry was the biggest in football. Shanahan’s formative years were spent watching his father, Mike, as offensive coordinator in San Francisco battling the Cowboys in three straight NFC title games. After the rivalry went dormant for more than a quarter-century as the proud franchises rarely enjoyed success at the same time, it is having a rebirth with San Francisco set to take on Dallas for the second straight postseason when they meet Sunday in the divisional round.
Bucs oust offensive coordinator Leftwich, 5 other assistants
TAMPA, Fla. (AP) — Byron Leftwich is out as offensive coordinator of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, who are shaking up their coaching staff after finishing with the only losing record Tom Brady has had in more than two decades as a NFL starter. The 43-year-old Leftwich was fired Thursday, three days after the Bucs were eliminated from the playoffs by the Dallas Cowboys and just two years removed from helping Brady win a record seventh Super Bowl in the quarterback’s first season with Tampa Bay. Five other assistant coaches were dismissed, too, while three others have decided to retire.
California bill calls for revenue sharing in college sports
PASADENA, Calif. (AP) — A California lawmaker has introduced a bill that would require schools that play major college sports to pay some athletes as much as $25,000 annually. The bill also calls for schools to pay some post-college medical expenses for athletes and to guarantee athletic scholarships for six years. The College Athlete Protection Act is sponsored by Assembly member Chris Holden, who is a former San Diego State basketball player. The bill is the type of state-level legislation the NCAA is looking to federal lawmakers to preempt.
Bruised Ronaldo scores twice to edge showdown with Messi
Grimacing in pain from his bruised cheekbone Cristiano Ronaldo steadied himself before scoring from the penalty spot for his first goal in Saudi Arabia against a Paris Saint-Germain team featuring old foe Lionel Messi. Messi had already scored early in Thursday’s exhibition game when Ronaldo was flattened by PSG goalkeeper Keylor Navas after about 30 minutes in Riyadh. Ronaldo’s cheekbone was bright apple red but he was all smiles after netting his second goal. Messi’s Qatari-backed PSG won 5-4 against a combined XI of Saudi Arabian teams Al Nassr and Al Hilal, captained by Al Nassr’s new signing Ronaldo. Although his team lost Ronaldo edged perhaps the final instalment of Ronaldo vs. Messi as one of the greatest rivalries in soccer history resumed in an unusual location.
In Paris, Bulls and Pistons enjoy sights, culture and opera
PARIS (AP) — The Detroit Pistons are playing a game in Paris on Thursday night. But two nights before the game, the Pistons were the spectators and the City of Lights played for them. The Pistons had a team party at the Paris Opera House to highlight their trip to France’s capital for a game against the Chicago Bulls. It’s been a midseason immersion into French cuisine, wine and culture for both teams. Everybody saw the Eiffel Tower, everybody saw the Champs-Élysées, but both teams decided they couldn’t come to Paris and not make every effort to enjoy the opportunity.
Saints’ Jordan wins appeal, critical of NFL’s process
NEW ORLEANS (AP) — Saints defensive end Cameron Jordan says he’s won his appeal of the NFL’s decision to fine him $50,000 for an allegedly faked injury. Jordan also is questioning the NFL’s process for handing down punishment before requesting medical records needed to make an informed decision. Jordan said in a text message to The Associated Press on Thursday that the NFL sought and reviewed medical records leading up to his recent appeal. But the 12-year veteran says that should have happened before he was fined. The fine came after Jordan forced a timeout by kneeling on the field after signaling to trainers that he’d hurt his foot during New Orleans’ 17-16 loss at Tampa Bay on Dec. 5.
Vikings fire defensive coordinator Donatell after rough year
MINNEAPOLIS (AP) — The Minnesota Vikings have fired defensive coordinator Ed Donatell in an unsurprising decision on the veteran coach after a dismal finish by his defense. The Vikings ranked second worst in yards allowed in the NFL and fourth worst in points allowed during the regular season. They gave up 431 yards and 31 points to the New York Giants in their wild-card round loss last week. Coach Kevin O’Connell was hired a year ago by the Vikings and made Donatell his first defensive coordinator. The 65-year-old Donatell has coached 32 seasons in the league with defensive coordinator stints with four different teams.
LaVine scores 30, Bulls defeat Pistons 126-108 in Paris
PARIS (AP) — With Victor Wembanyama sitting courtside and watching some of the players he’ll go up against next season, Zach LaVine scored 30 points and the Chicago Bulls never trailed in a 126-108 win over the Detroit Pistons at the NBA Paris Game. DeMar DeRozan added 26 points for the Bulls, and Nikola Vucevic finished with 16 points, 15 rebounds and six assists. Bojan Bogdanovic led the Pistons with 25 points. Killian Hayes, the only French player on either roster, scored only four points for Detroit, but had a game-high eight assists. Hamidou Diallo had 17 points on 7-for-8 shooting for Detroit.
Antoine Davis on scoring binge at unheralded Detroit Mercy
DETROIT (AP) — Antoine Davis of Detroit Mercy is the nation’s leading scorer. He recently broke the Division I record for career 3-pointers. He now has 513 and could break the all-division record of 526 soon. Davis is also third on the all-time scoring list, just 18 points from becoming No. 2. After Detroit Mercy plays this Saturday at IUPUI, there is a good chance that only the late Basketball Hall of Famer Pete Maravich will be ahead of Davis on the NCAA all-time scoring list.