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Tag: Anthony L. Cuaycong
It’s a testament to the continued pull of Michael Jordan that he continues to command top billing even when mentioned alongside other marquee figures. Anything he does becomes fodder for hoops habitues, never mind that he hasn’t played competitively since April 2003, and that his transition to the front office as the principal investor of the Hornets has been far from smooth and successful. Not that it’s surprising; after all, he’s the best of the best of all time, and his image and likeness adorn the Jordan Brand line of Nike gear that netted close to $3 billion in revenues last year.
WHEN MICROSOFT acquired the rights to the Gears of War franchise in early 2014, it was evidently out to push back against the underwhelming results of Gears of War: Judgment. Granted, the fourth installment of the immensely popular series still moved seven figures in aggregate physical and digital copies. However, it produced numbers that paled in comparison to previous releases and thereby failed to match expectations. More importantly, the technology company saw fit to protect its intellectual property far beyond the near term.
Patriots head coach Bill Belichick was understandably cautious in assessing new acquisition Antonio Brown’s progress on the field prior to yesterday’s match. Just a week removed from inking a contract that would net him $15 million for the 2019 campaign, he couldn’t possibly know all the play calls of the defending champions heading into yesterday’s set-to. “A long way to go,” the bench tactician told members of the media after practice Friday. “The systems that he’s been in are quite different ... He’s working hard to pick [ours] up, and we’re working hard to get it to him.”
There is hope, and then there is expectation. For Team USA, the latter was most definitely the case as it embarked on a quest to claim the gold at the FIBA World Cup in China over the last fortnight. No matter that its talent pool dwindled in the last year; 31 of the 35 players it originally named to be part of the selection process dropped out for one reason or another. And forget that two of those who actually made the squad wound up missing games due to injury. The bottom line remained: It still had the deepest, most skilled, and most athletic roster in the tournament. There would be heady challenges en route, but, in the end, it saw itself retaining the crown.
Rory McIlroy’s stunned reaction said it all. Invited to lunch yesterday by fellow Jupiter resident Jack Nicklaus, he found himself the target of a surprise. It was an elaborate one, with the Golden Bear accompanied by the United States Professional Golfers Association Tour commissioner Jay Monahan and a camera crew ready to record his reaction for posterity. To set up the moment, they told him they simply wanted him to receive the Byron Nelson Trophy for competing the season with the lowest adjusted scoring average. He was calm and collected, believing the ceremony to be a formality.
Yesterday’s news on the National Basketball Association was dominated by Kevin Durant’s revelations to The Wall Street Journal. Not that what he told J.R. Moehringer were shockers; for a long, long while now, avid hoops fans have known him to be, well, conflicted. Successful and yet unfulfilled. Wanted and yet unsettled. Talented and yet unsure. It’s why his divorce from the Thunder in 2016 was met with derision, and why his decision to move on from the Warriors over the summer, in contrast, felt preordained. Ironically, he had given assurances he would stay with the former, and no indications of his intentions in regard to the latter.
LeBron James is three months short of 35 years old. He has been toiling at the sport’s highest level since being drafted first overall in 2003, in the process accumulating mileage topped only by a handful of legends. His numbers indicate both his longevity and the downward trajectory of his career: 16 years, 1,437 games, 56,284 minutes. And, moving forward, he figures to be viewed from the perspective of critical quarters only too cognizant of the dichotomy. He has delivered the goods too often to be doubted, but ultimately isn’t immune to the single most significant factor even the best of the best cannot overcome: time.
Takayuki Nakamura is in his early thirties. He’s between jobs in Tokyo, and a scheduled house renovation compels him to do some cleaning. As he rummages through things in storage, he comes across a set of letters dating back 15 years. He recalls putting out an ad in a magazine for a pen pal, and then getting a response all the way from Shimane Prefecture. His subsequent back and forth with Aya Fumino was what enabled him to survive senior year in high school, he notes. And, across the miles, he believed he found love. Unfortunately, his 10th letter wound up unanswered, and it was all that became of their long-distance friendship. Or so he thought.
In retrospect, it was, perhaps, only fitting that Daniil Medvedev got to determine the last stroke of the United States Open. After all, he arguably made the loudest news throughout. For all the print space covered by the fourth-round retirement of defending champion Novak Djokovic and the shocking loss of all-time great Roger Federer in the quarterfinals, he hogged the headlines, and not always for the right reasons. After overcoming cramps to win in the second round, he promptly turned heel in his next match, giving in to frustrations and showing fits of boorish behavior that hitherto gave him trouble and compelled him to include a psychologist in his entourage.
For much of the fortnight, it looked like Serena Williams was finally prepped for the moment she long wanted to claim. Since her convalescence from pregnancy-induced complications in 2017, she had been a picture of inconsistency. A variety of injuries and an increased emphasis on family life stunted her return to the top of the sport. And while she proved good enough in spurts to contend for titles, she appeared tentative and unable to close the deal under the klieg lights. Thusly, she wound up with bridesmaid finishes in her last two appearances at Wimbledon and in the United States Open last year.
Dwight Howard’s conference call yesterday didn’t last long. In fact, it cost scribes only a quarter of an hour to sit through, and even less to consider his statements. If nothing else, he was consistent in his message: Whatever excess baggage he may have brought with him to Los Angeles, he’s looking to the future with eyes wide open and prepared to do whatever he can to help the Lakers win. And, taken in the context of all the workout and training videos of him surfacing on social media since he signed a non-guaranteed contract two weeks ago, his pronouncements come across as genuine and heartfelt.
Heading into the United States Open, longtime habitues of the sport wondered whether they would finally get to see a match between Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal at Flushing Meadows. For all the protracted success of the two living legends, they hadn’t yet met under the klieg lights of Arthur Ashe Stadium -- not at any stage, and certainly not for the title. Because of one reason or another (but mostly due to fellow Big Three stalwart Novak Djokovic), they hadn’t yet gone head to head in the last tournament on the Grand Slam rota.
Belinda Bencic isn’t one to exert pressure on herself. She has learned not to, having seen the pitfalls of great expectations both as an accomplished junior and as a well-traveled pro. She is, if nothing else, pragmatic, and especially in her assessment of self. For example, she concedes that she has “less talent and touch” than compatriot and mentor Martina Hingis, five-time major titleholder and daughter to former coach Melanie Molitor. No doubt, her nuanced view of her potential stems from her roller-coaster experience. She had ups early on, including a quarterfinal-round appearance in the 2014 United States Open and two Women’s Tennis Association Tour titles the next year. Then she had downs, among them wrist surgery in 2017 and its protracted period of convalescence.
JUST TO be clear from the outset: RICO stands on solid ground. As the acronym for “Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations,” it speaks to the procedurally generated action it offers, requiring the disposal of armed enemies with literal do-or-die persuasions. Gamers take on the role of a member of a special operations force charged with dismantling extremely entrenched criminal groups. Random missions need to be completed in the process, but the overriding objective in invariably involves getting any and all lowlife scums to meet their maker one room at a time.
When the schedule for the United States Open men’s singles draw was released, not a few quarters saw fit to look ahead to a potential Round of Four match between Novak Djokovic and Roger Federer. There was reason for the heightened anticipation, to be sure; they contended for the Wimbledon championship when they last met, and their encounter had to be decided via an unprecedented fifth-set tiebreaker. And with fellow Big Three stalwart Rafael Nadal expected to emerge from the other half of the bracket, a humdinger of a final appeared to be in store.
In terms of star power, the third-round match between Naomi Osaka and Coco Gauff yesterday did not disappoint. The capacity crowd of 23,771 that filled Arthur Ashe Stadium included a fair share of celebrities in sports and entertainment eager to see a humdinger that, based on hype alone, looked to rival any other for the United States Open fortnight. Unfortunately, the actual battle failed to approximate its potential. Not even close; it took all of 65 minutes to be decided, with the dismay of the vast majority of spectators borne as much of its duration as of its outcome.
The careers of Shaquille O’Neal and Kobe Bryant are so intertwined that hearing news of one without the other being mentioned has become the exception rather than the rule. Their age disparity doesn’t matter. Neither is the fact that they played on different teams longer than together. Because they framed their greatest success alongside each other, perspectives of the remainder of their body of work become springboards for comparison. Heck, even they themselves can’t help but view their collective accomplishment with What Ifs and Could Have Beens.
Longtime hoops observers have made a big deal out of the United States last week losing for the first time in international competition since 2006, and rightly so. It experienced its maiden setback against Australia, in the process breaking a 78-match win streak covering six tournaments and all exhibitions in between. Moreover, the development underscored the fragile state of USA Basketball heading into the World Cup this weekend; over the last year, all but four of the 35 players USA Basketball included in the national team pool saw fit to drop out of consideration for one reason or another, leaving the final roster devoid of star power.
Serena Williams had become a question mark heading into the United States Open. In part, it was because a cacophony of injuries -- including back issues that compelled her to pull out of two tuneup events -- further reduced her already-sparse schedule. In larger measure, it was due to her disappointing performances in tournaments where she did manage to show up. To be sure, “disappointing” is applied relative to expectations, which have remained outsized despite her advancing age, physical challenges, and, in the face of motherhood, redefined priorities. Needless to say, any other player would have been feted for making the final in three of five Grand Slam appearances.
Rory McIlroy was a dejected runner-up at the Tour Championship 11 months ago. Paired with Tiger Woods in the final round, he didn’t quite have his A-game to keep up with the eventual champion. In fact, he wound up being a spectator to one of the most spectacular finishes in the sport -- with the best player of his generation being embraced by an extremely engaging crowd of thousands that literally went inside the ropes to celebrate the outcome. And even as he joined teeming fans in congratulating the comebacking titleholder, he knew he let a grand opportunity slip away.
The Lakers didn’t really need to find a replacement for DeMarcus Cousins as soon as possible. Even as the injury he suffered one and a half weeks ago came as a shocker and threw their best-laid plans to the bin, they could have waited for better alternatives than the veritable retreads who came knocking on their door. After all, there’s still half a year before the trade deadline; they can conceivably use the time to look at fillers, better options from the buyout market, or even unique combinations of players already on the roster.
You know players are serious when they get antsy over being double-teamed during pickup games. You flick through social media, and you come across video of Devin Booker being frustrated by help defense in a match also featuring Ben Simmons, Joakim Noah, and Trey Lyles. “Hey, bro! We not doublin’ in open gym, bro. I get that s--t all season. Come on, man! Let’s work on our game, bro. Let’s work on our game,” he goes, and you laugh. It should be no big deal, you note, and certainly not enough to have one of the best scorers in the National Basketball Association sound off the way he did.
There can be no downplaying the significance of Tyrone Lue signing with the Clippers as an assistant on the bench. The news, coming via a tweet from The Athletic’s Shams Charania yesterday, caps a week-long negotiation that solidifies head coach Doc Rivers’ staff and further underscores the franchise’s intent to go all in through the coming season. He joins Sam Cassell, Casey Hill, Armond Hill, Rex Kalamian, Brendan O’Connor, and John Welch in the sidelines. And while he may be the last on board, he figures to be an integral component of their projected march to the top.
For all the question marks DeMarcus Cousins brought with him when he latched on to the Lakers early last month, there was to be no doubting his value. Signed to a $3.5-million deal, he would have been a cinch to start for a powerhouse squad that includes perennial All-Stars LeBron James and Anthony Davis. In nominal terms, his salary, significantly lower than the $5.3 million he inked with the Warriors for the previous season, is just 231st of the 450 to be drawn by players on official franchise rosters. In other words, he was pegged to be a bargain-basement contributor who, at the very least, figured to give the purple and gold much-needed depth.
IT’S A testament to the confidence Morphies Law intrinsically engenders that Cosmoscope didn’t just let it rest on its laurels when it launched on the Nintendo Switch last year. Even with mediocre to poor reviews greeting its release, the Switzerland-based studio could have allowed it to thrive by way of built-up anticipation off its unique properties. After all, it isn’t akin to the typical third-person multiplayer shooter on a 4v4 arena store shelves already have myriad versions of. The notion of gamers accumulating mass for their characters by hitting the competition on the grid is arguably novel in and of itself. What makes it truly stand out is the twist in the implementation: when a specific body part is shot, the shooter’s grows even as the opponent’s shrinks.
Justin Thomas looked well on his way to claiming the BMW Championship after a masterful third-round 61 staked him to a six-stroke lead with just 18 holes to go. And while he didn’t exactly have a good start yesterday, he managed to carve a decent front nine after birdies on the fifth and seventh holes. He was still at least four shots clear of the rest of the field heading into his final nine, never mind closest pursuer Patrick Cantlay’s blistering run to that point. His first win in a year appeared to be in his grasp.
What made De’Aaron Fox change his mind and decide to withdraw from the United States team to the FIBA Basketball World Cup? Based on the news Yahoo! Sports’ Chris Haynes broke via Twitter, he seemed to have an epiphany and moved to “focus on upcoming season with goal of making playoffs” just hours before it was scheduled to fly to Australia for a series of tuneup matches. Considering how much he hitherto appeared to relish the prospect of suiting up for the red, white, and blue, the timing was, at the very least, suspect.
Tiger Woods didn’t exactly have a good start to his pro-am appearance at the BMW Championship yesterday. He did his usual pre-round routine, spending some on the range before teeing off, but his relative rust still showed. It was hardly unexpected, to be sure; including last week’s aborted stint at The Northern Trust, he has played just 234 holes since claiming the Masters last April. Nonetheless, it didn’t augur well for the Presidents Cup captain who looked to turn the back half of the FedEx Cup Playoffs into a successful bid for a spot on the team also as a player.
Phil Mickelson hasn’t been consistently good for a while now. Arguably, he started the year on a high; he claimed a bridesmaid finish at the Desert Classic in January and then a victory at the AT&T Pebble Beach Pro-Am three weeks later. Yet, even then, there were signs that he would have trouble staying sharp; for instance, his competitive stints sandwiched a missed cut at the Waste Management Phoenix Open, where he had previously won thrice. He would wind up tinkering with his swing off the tee and stroke on the greens as he negotiated his 2019 campaign, and his results underscored both the causes and effects of his efforts to find comfort in his mechanics.
Yesterday came with news of yet another departure from Team USA’s contingent to the World Cup. Granted, Kyle Lowry’s pullout wasn’t a surprise; continuing convalescence from surgery to his thumb last month had kept him out of training camp. Nonetheless, it served to strengthen the prevailing narrative that suiting up for flag and country isn’t as fulfilling as it used to be; the premise may be unfair, but there can be no questioning the numbers. Of the 35 names USA Basketball announced as part of its national team pool last year, only four remain.
DATE A LIVE has been around since the turn of the decade, and it’s a testament to the franchise’s appeal that it picked up a loyal following off the bat and, more importantly, developed the legs to cross media platforms over time. Written by Kōshi Tachibana, the light-novel series parodies the invasion proposition common to Japanese mecha offerings and runs with it via Idea Factory mainstay Tsunako’s distinct art style; it deftly mixes science fiction and romantic comedy, with organized undertakings to prevent alien annexation deemed successful only when the occupying beings wind up falling for the principal protagonist.
Heading into the final round, The Northern Trust appeared to be in the news for all the wrong reasons. Headlines were being grabbed by developments off, and not on, the 7,370-yard pride of Liberty National Golf Club in Jersey City, New Jersey. Masters champion Tiger Woods, still golf’s biggest draw, had to withdraw from the tournament prior to the second round due to a “mild oblique strain that led to pain and stiffness;” never mind that, in negotiating his first 18 poorly, he appeared rusty and not injured. At the same time, social media habitues also focused on slow play, and particularly on egregious examples put forth by so-called mad scientist Bryson DeChambeau.
Carmelo Anthony had to have been devastated that his request to join Team USA for the FIBA Basketball World Cup was turned down. Even as he had been experiencing one rejection after another of late, he figured with no small measure of optimism that Jerry Colangelo, managing director of USA Basketball, would consider adding him to the roster headed to China late this month. After all, he isn’t just any 35-year-old journeyman pro whose best days are decidedly behind him; he’s the country’s best-ever international player, among only four in hoops annals to have four Olympic medals and the only one in history with three golds in the Summer Games.
Tiger Woods almost didn’t tee off for the Pro-Am round of The Northern Trust yesterday. Delayed by around half an hour due to inclement weather, it didn’t seem like a good idea for him following a mediocre practice session. After some thought, however, he opted to get some reps in at 7,370-yard, par-71 Liberty National in Jersey City, New Jersey, anyway. No doubt, improved conditions coupled with the warm temperature spurred him to much-needed action. And for a while there, he appeared to do all right -- until, that is, his back appeared to act up after a wayward drive.
Udonis Haslem has more than 522,000 followers on Instagram, so it’s but typical for him to see his posts draw significant reaction. Still, his latest contribution to the social media app tops the cake. Hitting Cyberspace yesterday, it featured a photograph of the Larry O’Brien Trophy ensconced in his locker-room stall at the AmericanAirlines Arena along with the caption “Too be continued Heat Nation!!!” and hashtags “#og” and “heatlifer.” Netizens pounced on the announcement; in a span of six hours, it drew a whopping 31,000 likes and nearly four figures in comments practically carrying the same message: “Legend.”
It’s official. Vince Carter will be suiting up for his 22nd and final season in the National Basketball Association. He had, of course, already signified his intent to burn rubber for yet another year and, in the process, break a record he currently shares with just-retired Dirk Nowitzki, Robert Parish, Kevin Garnett, and Kevin Willis for the most number of campaigns played in a career. The Hawks bringing him back for the minimum $2.56 million thereby ensures his place in history. No doubt, they were pleased with the numbers he put up -- norms of 7.4 points, 2.6 rebounds, and 1.1 assists through 17.5 minutes of play -- in 76 games for them, not to mention with his locker-room leadership as they strove to rebuild.
IT’S A testament to the depth and breadth of the Advance Wars series that it continues to be viewed as the gold standard insofar as turn-based defeat-all-enemies-type games that require no small measure of strategy are concerned. The first title (released way back in 2001 for the 32-bit Game Boy Advance), direct sequels Advance Wars 2: Black Hole Rising and Advance Wars: Dual Strike, and the stand-alone Advance Wars: Days of Ruin all compel gamers to either vanquish rival forces or capture opposition headquarters. Several interface options are on offer, but the Campaign Mode, where an intricate storyline unfolds in the midst of deliberate, if engrossing, action, takes the cake.
First things first: The $100-million extension that Draymond Green successfully negotiated with the Warriors represents the maximum-allowable amount he could have received under terms of the National Basketball Association’s collective bargaining agreement. Second things second: The $100-million extension likewise represents a bargain given the options he had. By agreeing to stay signed and keep donning royal blue and California golden yellow until 2024, he limited his earning capacity in favor of security. Clearly, he deems the one in his hand to be superior to the two in the bush.
It’s easy to see why David Griffin went on the defensive as soon as the Sports Illustrated (SI) article focusing on his career hit the Net. Written by regular staff member Jake Fischer, it tracked his ascent to top-rung positions with the Suns and Cavaliers, and, most importantly, how his experience informs his plans as executive vice president of the Pelicans. And it should have been all well and good. Unfortunately, it wound up highlighting a handful of quotes he made throughout his conversations with the scribe spread over the National Basketball Association’s Summer Camp, and particularly as they related to LeBron James.
Believe it or not, Carmelo Anthony is still looking to get signed, and, to his credit, remains in shape for his targeted last payday. Under the supervision of trainer Chris Brickley, he is in the midst of his annual offseason pilgrimage at the Life Time Athletic at Sky, a members-only gymnasium in Manhattan. So far in his second home, he has worked out with the likes of Chris Paul, Julius Randle, Donovan Mitchell, and Trae Young. And, judging from the feedback given by those who have taken to the court with him or seen him in action, he’s ready, willing, and able to justify taking any one of the roster spots still available in the league.
LeBron James just can’t get any slack. Even his mere attendance at a basketball game of his son’s team has been placed under scrutiny. Admittedly, he calls attention to himself in manners other parents can’t and those from the outside looking in may deem overenthusiastic at best. Joining players’ pickup lines to throw down dunks and celebrating to the point where he becomes the focus of attention instead of the action on the court isn’t normal by any means. Which is why he has been pilloried by armchair pundits and on social media.
Not a few quarters were looking for a shoot-out heading into the deciding round of the FedEx St. Jude Invitational. Rory McIlroy and Brooks Koepka had all but obliterated TPC Southwind in their penultimate 18, carding 62 and 64, respectively, to set up a final pairing. It didn’t matter that 10 players posted scores within four strokes of the pace; as far as pundits were concerned, the focus remained with the multiple major winners, and not simply because they had momentum on their side. Parenthetically, the pride of Memphis, Tennessee, was set up as a birdie haven, allowing for low scores across the board and fueling anticipation for more red marks with the hardware on the line.
DRAGON STAR VARNIR is far from a typical Japanese role-playing game. In fact, it’s anything but run of the mill, eschewing the notion that demand for releases in the genre is fueled by entertaining gameplay and not depth of narrative. For Compile Heart, in particular, it represents a striking departure from the norm; instead of going for yet another Hyperdimension Neptunia offering that would have been gobbled up by a solid base of loyal fans, anyway, the Tokyo-based developer saw fit to churn out an entirely original intellectual property that calls to mind the dark and gruesome undertones of the early works of the Brothers Grimm.
Jeremy Lin sounded somber for the better part of his testimonial recorded by Taiwan-based Good TV. He made the appearance as part of what has now become an annual pilgrimage to Greater China, where he remains the third most popular player from the National Basketball Association after LeBron James and Kobe Bryant. For all his willingness to give of himself by way of hoops clinics and instructionals, he proved to be at his most revealing in front of a packed auditorium of fellow Christians; the league that gave him his biggest break and enabled him to be an ambassador for Asians, he said, has “kind of given up on me.”