CLEVELAND, Ohio – This is getting serious. Stephen Curry, Klay Thompson and the Golden State Warriors are 23-0 after beating the Indiana Pacers on Tuesday. Smart people doing math think the Warriors can go 73-9 and break the Chicago Bulls' NBA record of 72 victories.Thompson suffered an ankle injury late in the Pacers game, and x-rays were negative.How much is LeBron James' lifetime deal with Nike worth? The undercurrent of his new deal with Nike is that LeBron James the basketball player now is just one department in the much bigger business of being LeBron James.At baseball's winter meetings, Washington Nationals manager Dusty Baker made the biggest headlines because of some very odd comments about domestic violence, African-Americans and Latinos.Ben Zobrist signed with the Cubs, who also made a trade with the Yankees.The Indians talked about trading Danny Salazar to Arizona for center fielder A.J. Pollock, which would be a good deal for both teams.Maryland's victory at the Jimmy V Classic should get the attention of the Big Ten.Tiger Woods revealed the key to Jordan Spieth's success in one simple statement.A former top South American soccer official indicted by the United States surrendered to Argentine police.And the 2016 Olympic Games are sounding too much like the Hunger Games for people who live in Rio de Janeiro and are victims of human rights violations, according to a new study.
These are some of the trending sports stories Wednesday:
Thompson says he's OK: The Warriors got away with one Tuesday, and they know it.The second unit allowed a 28-point lead to shrink to 16 in the opening six-plus minutes of the fourth quarter, forcing interim head coach Luke Walton to reinsert his starters into the game.Less than five minutes after the first unit's return, All-Star shooting guard Klay Thompson sprained his right ankle and limped straight to the bench and then off to the locker room.X-rays in the bowels of Bankers Life Fieldhouse were negative, and Thompson said he believes he'll be able to play Friday in Boston, where the Warriors play the sixth game of the two-week, seven-game road trip."I'll be all right," said Thompson, who scored 39 points on 10 three-pointers during the Warriors' 27th straight win. "Luckily, it's not a bad sprain or anything. It's just going to be sore for a couple of games, but I should be back in no time."(San Francisco Chronicle)
Warriors can go 73-9: FiveThirtyEight's 2015-16 NBA predictions post dropped on Monday and included, right up at the top, a detail remarkable enough to elicit a double-take from any NBA fan still fogging a mirror: the Warriors' projected record. As of Monday, it sat at a tidy 72-10 — as in the same 72-10 that MJ's Bulls put up in the 1995-96 season, and the standing record for the most wins ever in an NBA regular season.By now there's a whole cottage industry dedicated to handicapping the Warriors. On Monday, our colleagues at ESPN Stats & Info published an article about whether Golden State had a shot at breaking the 1995-96 Bulls' record. They found that the Warriors had a 45 percent chance of getting to at least 72 wins and a 31 percent chance of at least 73. Our CARM-Elo projection is a little more bullish: It has the odds of 72+ wins at 54 percent, and 73+ wins at 44 percent.Golden State's odds of hitting astonishing win totals are probably a good deal higher than you'll see in other models, or in the betting markets, where the Warriors are still about a 3-to-1 underdog to hit 73. (Fivethirtyeight.com)
Inside the LeBron James-Nike deal: It has the potential to be a game-changer for all top athletes, starting with how the deal came together.In some sense, James stopped being just a basketball player a long time ago, but this is different and much bigger.Rather than use his agent to make this deal with Nike, James brought in his business advisor, Paul Wachter, whose background is in merger and acquisitions, a source familiar with the negotiations told Business Insider.This is significant, as it means that this deal is going above and beyond the typical athlete endorsement. This is not Nike signing another athlete to promote shoes and maybe some apparel. This is a merger between two corporations, Nike and the LeBron James brand.In other words, LeBron just ceased being a basketball player. That side still exists, but it is now just one department in a much bigger business. (Business Insider)
How much is the LeBron James-Nike deal worth? It likely easily exceeds the value of the 10-year, $300 million deal Nike struck with Kevin Durant in 2014.Michael Jordan's agent David Falk estimates Nike's deal with James to be $400 million to $500 million, which provides a large range.Expect to be buying James' basketball sneakers the same way you purchase Michael Jordan's shoes, even though he has gone from basketball player to team executive. It is likely that James will receive royalties based on sales of his sneakers in addition to the base compensation that reportedly blows Durant's deal out of the water. (Forbes.com)
What about LeBron's shoe sales? In recent weeks, some retail and sportswear-industry experts have noticed a slowdown in demand for Mr. James's shoes, as signature sneakers for younger players like Kyrie Irving and Stephen Curry have picked up traction."LeBron's shoes have always been bigger and bulkier than the others, so it's hard for a young kid to want to wear that big shoe, and convince his mother to spend $200, when he can get Steph's shoe for $60 less," said Josh Luber, founder of the secondary-market sneaker tracker Campless. (Wall Street Journal)
LeBron helps Cavs break skid: LeBron James scored 14 of his 33 in the fourth quarter as the Cleveland Cavaliers defeated C.J. McCollum and the Portland Trail Blazers, 105-100, Tuesday night at The Q. The Cavs trailed by 18 in the second quarter.The Cavs (14-7) snapped a three-game losing streak. They improved to 10-1 at home. (The Plain Dealer)
Cubs sign Zobrist: The Chicago Cubs agreed to terms with versatile Ben Zobrist on a four-year contract. They also traded Starlin Castro to the New York Yankees for right-handed pitcher Adam Warren and a player to be named later.Zobrist, 34, a 10-year veteran who played nine of his 10 seasons for Cubs manager Joe Maddon with the Tampa Bay Rays, is expected to fill a variety of roles for the Cubs. Zobrist will earn $56 million over the life of the contract. (Chicago Tribune)
Salazar trade discussed: The Indians met with the Arizona Diamondbacks, who asked about Danny Salazar. The Indians were willing to discuss Salazar, but asked for center fielder A.J. Pollock.Salazar went 14-10 with a 3.45 ERA in his first full season in the big leagues. He struck out 195 and walked 53 in 185 innings. Salazar, 26, is making just over the minimum and is under control for five more years.Pollock, 28, played 151 games in center last season. He hit .315 (192-for-609) with 20 homers and 76 RBI. Pollock, a right-handed hitter, scored 111, stole 39 bases in 46 chances and posted a .865 OPS. (Cleveland.com)
Dusty Baker off base: And then there was Dusty Baker. The Nationals' new manager said that Latino and African-American players are more likely to possess better speed, and also indicated that domestic violence against men is as concerning as violent acts against women.In lauding MLB for enacting a domestic violence policy, Baker shifted the focus to the potential for men to be victims of abuse."I think it's a great thing," Baker told reporters. "I mean, I got a buddy at home that's being abused by his wife. So I think this policy needs to go further than the player. I think the policy should go to whoever's involved."Sometimes abusers don't always have pants on."When asked about filling the Nationals' off-season needs, Baker said he'd like to see the club add more speed and indicated a shortage of that skill across the major leagues."I think that's the No. 1 thing that's missing in the game is speed," Baker said Tuesday afternoon. "You know, with the need for minorities, you can help yourself -- you've got a better chance of getting some speed with Latin and African-Americans. I'm not being racist. That's just how it is." (USA Today)
Chapman case tests MLB policy: Major League Baseball and the Major League Baseball Players Association was lauded in August as proactive when the two sides agreed to a new domestic violence policy, but now the two sides must show an appropriate reaction to a spate of high-profile incidents that will serve as the first cases under the agreement.Aroldis Chapman's reported October incident is the third time an All-Star has been involved in alleged domestic violence situations since the end of the season, but none has yet to be ruled upon by the league. (Cincinnati.com)
Maryland holds off UConn: There was skepticism about whether the Maryland men's basketball team belonged among the sport's bluebloods after the then second-ranked Terps lost their first game of the season last week at North Carolina.Maryland saw its ranking drop from second in both polls to sixth among the media voters and all the way down to ninth among the coaches. The Terps went into Tuesday night's game against Connecticut in the Jimmy V Classic at Madison Square Garden as only a slight favorite.Behind a strong first half from freshman Diamond Stone, a strong second half from sophomore Melo Trimble and a key late technical foul on Connecticut coach Kevin Ollie, Maryland held off the Huskies, 76-66. (Baltimore Sun)
Jim Valvano and Madison Square Garden: As with most basketball fans who grew up near New York City, Madison Square Garden was an important place in the life of the late Jim Valvano, long before a tournament in his memory would be played there.It is where he went as a kid, traveling in from Long Island with his father Rocco, a high school basketball coach, and his two brothers, to watch the New York Knicks when they were very bad and, later, when they were the best team on the planet. (Baltimore Sun)
Rio Olympics and human rights: The 2016 Olympics have prompted widespread violations of children's rights and other civil liberties, according to a new dossier of alleged abuses compiled by academics and nongovernmental organizations.Evictions, police violence and poor labor conditions top a long list of problems linked to next year's Games in Rio de Janeiro, claim the coalition of activists led by the Comité Popular who are calling on the International Olympic Committee to pay greater heed to human rights. Their report – Exclusion Games – claims that at least 4,120 families have lost their homes and another 2,486 are threatened with removal as a result of infrastructure projects associated with last year's World Cup and the upcoming Olympics. As a result, they say, thousands of children have been displaced and left – at least temporarily – unable to access education, healthcare and other social services.The dossier claims other youths have been the victims of an uptick in police and army violence as a result of a struggling favela pacification program that is part of the city's efforts to prepare for mega-events. Some have been shot and killed, many wounded and countless others psychologically scarred by gunfights and tension. (The Guardian)
Tiger Woods solves Jordan Spieth: At first it may read like a throwaway comment. In a column for Global Golf Post during his tournament last week, writer Ron Green Jr. relayed an anecdote about Tiger and Jordan Spieth:At the par-3 eighth, Woods watches Spieth hit the green and says, "Hey, Jordy ... 5-iron?"