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The Briefing: Arsenal 6-0 Lens – Jesus can finish, top five to fear and qualification assured

The Briefing: Arsenal 6-0 Lens – Jesus can finish, top five to fear and qualification assured

Arsenal produced an emphatic display to beat Lens and advance to the Champions League knockout stages as Group B winners.

They were 4-0 up after 27 minutes at the Emirates this evening, thanks to goals from Kai Havertz, Gabriel Jesus, Bukayo Saka and Gabriel Martinelli before Martin Odegaard added a fifth in first-half injury time . Substitute Jorginho converted a penalty, his first goal for the club, four minutes from time.

All of this took Mikel Arteta’s side to 12 points after five games, four ahead of PSV Eindhoven in second place.

It was the fourth-fastest goal an English club has scored in a UEFA competitive match since 1998, forgetting the 2-1 defeat against the same opponent last month in France. They struggled to contain the might of Lens that evening, but it was a different story here as they showed the gap in class between the teams with a ruthless finish.

It means the trip to face PSV in the Netherlands in a fortnight’s time is now a dead rubber but, after five seasons without Champions League football, it was the perfect way to complete progression to the last 16.

Why is Jesus so deadly in the Champions League?

When Jesus injured his hamstring in mid-October, after just two months returning from pre-season knee surgery, Arteta warned he may have to help the Brazilian striker return in things this time.

How Jesus must have laughed. He does not work gradually, but at full speed. If there were fears that it would take a few weeks for Jesus to regain his sharpness after his second injury of the season, his performance against Lens reassured fans that he is ready to be their talisman in Europe.

It was his second start of the week after leading the line against Brentford, but it was the kind of matador-like performance he produced against Sevilla last month before picking up the injury that night.


Jesus says finishing is not his strong point… (Rob Newell – CameraSport via Getty Images)

There is something about this competition that seems to bring out the best in him. The space afforded by the Lens press helped him, but the way he scored his goal, faking a shot to send Kevin Danso sliding in next week before calmly heading home, was like a child in the playground of recess and he physically intimidated the Lens backline on numerous occasions. .

That took him to 23 goals in the competition for Manchester City and now Arsenal, a tally which surpasses compatriots Roberto Firmino (22), Romario (20), Ronaldinho (18) and Ronaldo (14).

Not bad for someone who says finishing isn’t his strong suit.

How far can Arsenal’s top five take them in Europe?

When Arteta looked into his crystal ball this summer, this must have been the vision: his two attacking midfielders, in Odegaard and Havertz, as well as his front three, Saka, Martinelli and Jesus, all scoring in the same game.

Tonight was the first time in any of this season’s 21 games that they all started together, but it came together better than anyone could have hoped.

There is one obvious caveat: Lens, like PSV in September’s group opener here, played into Arsenal’s hands by trying to take them on, but it was still an attacking game Ultra fast.

Odegaard Scaled

Odegaard scored the fifth at half-time (Mike Hewitt/Getty Images)

It’s rare for a team from one of Europe’s top five domestic leagues to be destroyed so brutally, but every time Arsenal counterattacked in the first half it looked like they were going to score.

That front five only worked so well because the press, whenever they lost the ball, was relentless – and Declan Rice was back as the anchor in midfield.

How many players should Arteta rest at Eindhoven?

With 10 games between the November international break and the New Year, it’s difficult to find breathing space in the schedule.

By killing off this game early, Arsenal not only allowed full-backs Takehiro Tomiyasu and Oleksandr Zinchenko to be replaced by Ben White and Jakub Kiwior at half-time, but they likely gave some of their key players a night of leave for this trip to PSV in two weeks. Saka was spared the final 25 minutes here, Rice was able to stand up for 15 minutes and Jesus watched the final 10 minutes from the bench.

Players like Rice and Saka have racked up 25 total games this season and have had issues along the way. Not needing to travel and play on the continent a few days before a tough game against Brighton & Hove Albion could be a valuable bonus.

Last season, Arteta stayed with virtually the same team for the entire season, partly due to the decline in quality of some replacement players. Arsenal now have more depth and this match in the Netherlands offers game time to Kiwior, Aaron Ramsdale, Reiss Nelson and Eddie Nketiah, as well as the chance to hand 16-year-old Ethan Nwaneri a Champions League debut. and at 17 years old. old Myles Lewis-Skelly.

What did Arsenal say?

“Today was the moment to do it – we did it in a magnificent way,” Arteta told TNT Sports, the UK’s channel of the match. “We scored five goals against a very good team (in the first half). You can get really careless. And there were parts of the second half with different behavior but we remained very focused.

“It’s great because winning the group because the schedule we have is crazy. We’re already thinking about Wolves in 72 hours. We must demand more from each other. We will have to be well prepared for Wolves.

“We were incredible and controlled the game,” Jesus told TNT. “Playing at home, we know our support is incredible. They pushed us. We wanted to win the match and qualify.

“I watch the Champions League a lot at home. The Champions League is special. I’ve already won the Premier League, I want to win it here, but I also want to win the Champions League.

What future for Arsenal?

Saturday December 2: Wolverhampton Wanderers (M), Premier League, 3 p.m. GMT, 10 a.m. ET

Arsenal have won four consecutive matches against Wolves, including a 5-0 defeat to Emirates in the final match of last season.

Recommended reading

(Top photo: David Price/Arsenal FC via Getty Images)

USWNT confirms Emma Hayes as new head coach in record deal

El USWNT ha confirmado a Emma Hayes como su nueva entrenadora en jefe en un contrato récord

Emma Hayes has been confirmed as the new head coach of the United States women’s national team.

Hayes, 47, signed a deal that makes her the highest-paid coach in women’s soccer. She will remain at Chelsea until the end of the current Women’s Super League (WSL) season and will take up her new role next May, in time for the 2024 Olympic Games in Paris.

Chelsea announced Hayes’ departure on Saturday and Athleticism reported shortly after that she was going to take the job with the USWNT.

The United States Soccer Federation (USSF) confirmed the news on Tuesday. USSF President Cindy Parlow Cone said, “Emma is a fantastic leader and world-class coach who sets high standards for herself and everyone around her.

“She has tremendous energy and an insatiable will to win. Her experience in the United States, her understanding of our soccer landscape and her appreciation of what it means to coach this team make her a natural fit for this role and we couldn’t be happier to have her lead our women’s national team.

Hayes, who guided Chelsea to six WSL titles, said: “It’s a huge honor to have the opportunity to coach the most incredible team in the history of world football. The feelings and connection I have for this team and for this country are deep. I’ve dreamed of coaching the United States for a long time, so having this opportunity is a dream come true.

“I know there is work to be done to achieve our goals of consistent winning at the highest levels. Getting there will take dedication, dedication and collaboration from players, staff and everyone within the U.S. Soccer Federation.


How the USWNT lured Emma Hayes away from Chelsea: In nearly $2 million deal

The federation, which signed collective bargaining agreements guaranteeing equal pay for its senior men’s and women’s national team players in 2022, will align Hayes’ salary with that of USMNT coach Gregg Berhalter. His annual salary was listed at $1.6 million (£1.3 million) in USSF’s financial documents for 2022 and he is expected to have received a raise after signing a new deal earlier this year.

The USSF revealed that Hayes was named after an exhaustive process, led by athletic director Matt Crocker, that included psychometric and abstract reasoning tests to candidates.

Hayes had declined to comment directly on the USWNT job following confirmation of her impending departure to Chelsea, but cited family reasons and a desire to leave at the top for her exit, adding that she had “dedicated my life to this place “.

She will leave with Chelsea’s blessing and the west London club have not requested compensation from the USSF in return for finishing the season on an exclusive basis.

Hayes will be closely involved in appointing his successor at the club and Chelsea are also keen to explore how his international role could provide further growth opportunities.

Twila Kilgore became the interim head coach of the USWNT after Vlatko Andonovski resigned in August following his team’s elimination in the round of 16 at the World Cup in Australia and New Zealand. Kilgore will continue to lead the USWNT until Hayes takes over.

The 2023-24 WSL season ends on May 18, 2024 and the Paris Olympics women’s football tournaments are scheduled to take place between July 24 and August 10.

Gettyimages 1498690491 Scaled

Emma Hayes has enjoyed a trophy-laden reign at Chelsea since joining in 2012 (Getty Images)

Emma Hayes, managerial distinctions

Women’s Super League


2015, 2017-18, 2019-20, 2020-21, 2021-22, 2022-23

Women’s FA Cup


2014-15, 2017-18, 2020-21, 2021-22, 2022-23

Women’s League Cup


2019-20, 2020-21

WSL Spring Series



Women’s Community Shield



How Hayes’ tactical flexibility can benefit the USWNT

Analysis by Jeff Rueter of The Athletic

US Soccer surveyed players during the coaching search following the departure of Vlatko Andonovski and much of the tactical feedback involved building the attack, playing in midfield and finding “creative solutions in restricted spaces, player presence and tactics to beat the low block. .”

If there’s a team used to facing a low block, it’s Hayes’ Chelsea. It plans for the adversary rather than training it according to dogmatic principles, which could help the U.S. program rebound from its least successful cycle in history. Between assessing one’s opponents’ weaknesses and assessing one’s own team’s readiness, the instructions for each game are organized with one goal in mind: winning above all else.

Hayes has found success with various structures. In recent years, Chelsea have played several matches in 4-2-3-1, 4-3-3, 5-2-1-2, 3-4-3 and 3-4-1. 2. If the referee blows the whistle and she doesn’t like the tactical match, Hayes is quick to move on to plan B, even if it means moving from a back four to a back three in the first minutes.

Hayes’ fluidity should be a necessary balm as the program acclimates to the ever-increasing number of competitive peers in the international game – something Hayes knows well.

Go Further


How Emma Hayes’s Chelsea wins can benefit the USWNT on the pitch

Hayes renowned for personalized player management

Analysis by Jessy Parker Humphreys of The Athletic

Hayes’ team management is second to none.

Since her time at Chelsea, she is adept at dealing with multiple high-profile figures in a dressing room. She has also seen players flourish under her watchful eye. Under Hayes’ tutelage, players such as England captain Millie Bright have become one of the best in the world, while you can always count on her to spring a positional surprise. Niamh Charles’ evolution from an exciting but raw winger to a calm full-back is just one example.

Hayes’ close relationship with his players is evident and has been a key factor in Chelsea’s recruitment success in recent years.

Go Further


USWNT hires serial winner in Emma Hayes – a coach with unfinished business in the United States

(Photo: Tom Dulat/Getty Images)

Alpine ends turbulent 2023 as F1 team in transition: ‘Unleash the energy’

Alpine ends turbulent 2023 as F1 team in transition: 'Unleash the energy'

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One sentence sums up Alpine’s 2023 season: a tumultuous enigma.

After finishing 2022 in fourth place, 14 points ahead of rival McLaren, it was looking to defend its place behind the “big three” Red Bull, Mercedes and Ferrari with an all-French crew of Esteban Ocon and Pierre Gasly . Only he found himself on a roller coaster ride for 22 races, enduring huge lows like a double DNF in Australia when Gasly and Ocon collided and some highs like Ocon’s podium in Monaco, Gasly having his “week “most complete end” to Austin and the team. performance pivot from Monza to Las Vegas.

Alpine lacked consistency in 2023 and faced the consequences. At the Miami Grand Prix, the fifth race of the season, then-CEO Laurent Rossi delivered a scathing public critique of his team to French broadcaster Canal+, saying in part: “This year ended with a performance and a imperfect delivery. It is obvious that our position in the rankings is not commensurate with the resources we are spending, and we are quite far, if not very far, from this year’s final goal.

“I note not only an obvious lack of performance and rigor in the delivery but also potentially a state of mind which is not up to the past standards of this team.”

Melbourne, Australia - April 02: A Rear View Of The Second Restart Showing Pierre Gasly Of France Driving The (10) Alpine F1 A523 Renault And Esteban Ocon Of France Driving The (31) Alpine F1 A523 Renault Collide (In Bottom) During The F1 Australian Grand Prix At Albert Park Grand Prix Circuit On April 2, 2023 In Melbourne, Australia.  (Photo By Peter Van Egmond/Getty Images)

Alpine’s season has reached a low point in Australia. (Peter van Egmond/Getty Images)

The team went on a points streak over the next five races (including Miami), but significant personnel turnover ensued in the final weeks before the summer break. Philippe Krief took over as CEO, team principal Otmar Szafnauer and long-time sporting director Alan Permane left the team and Alpine lost technical chief Pat Fry to Williams. Bruno Famin, who is also Alpine’s vice president of motorsport, has taken over as team boss, but as the team looks to bounce back in 2024, are these changes enough?

The necessary reconstruction within Alpine, which is owned by Renault and whose factories are spread across two different countries (in Viry-Châtillon, France and Enstone, England), goes beyond simply filling staff holes and building a competitive car. It starts with a change of culture, a change of mentality that aligns an international staff.

“The goal for next year, for this winter and for next year, will be to develop this attitude, this mindset, by changing the culture,” Famin said in Abu Dhabi. “Again, it’s not Viry against Enstone, it’s the whole thing, and continuing and developing the dynamic in order to create a better team, a better company, as a company, and to be able to develop a better car, and then the result will come.

Balancing patience and ambition

During the Belgian Grand Prix weekend in late July, shortly after the departures of Szafnauer and Permane were announced, Famin attributed the changes, in part, to a question of timing. “We were not on the same line in terms of the timeline to recover or reach the level of performance we were aiming for. Mutually, we agreed to part ways, and that’s it.

In 2021, Rossi had presented a “100-race project” with the aim of Alpine being a podium contender by 2024. The team seemed on track until the 2023 season, when its momentum faded. evaporated in the face of lackluster performance. performance, with Aston Martin taking a leap forward at the start of the season and McLaren taking major steps in its development to become regular podium contenders.

But it wasn’t just a matter of time. “I think we are not talking about numbers,” Famin said in Belgium. “I think we have a different vision of how to do this and, of course, that’s also true in terms of the timeline, but I think we’re not exactly the same in the way we do things.”

Given the team’s package and pace, being regular podium contenders was out of reach for Alpine in 2023. But even their adjusted goal of being regular points scorers proved difficult given the pace of development of competitors and the narrowness of the midfield.

Las Vegas, Nevada - November 15: Pierre Gasly Of France And Alpine F1 And Esteban Ocon Of France And Alpine F1 Are Seen During The Opening Ceremony Before The F1 Grand Prix Of Las Vegas At The Las Vegas Strip On November 15, 2023 In Las Las Vegas, Nevada.  (Photo By Alex Bierens De Haan/Getty Images For Heineken)

In Las Vegas, where Alpine performed well, Famin said: “I’m happy with the attitude we had in the team and this is the first sign of the team’s recovery.” (Alex Bierens de Haan/Getty Images for Heineken)

Returning from the summer break, Alpine took over with 16 points in the Netherlands, its biggest score outside of the Monaco GP with 21 points. Monza, however, did not suit Alpine’s package.

Ultimately, Alpine’s pace was uncompetitive in Italy, and after the pointless skid in Italy, at least one Alpine driver scored points in the next six races as F1 competed in Asia and was moving on to his last triple of the year. Alpine recorded double points in Japan and Brazil, while preparing its low-downforce package for the Las Vegas Grand Prix, Famin said.

And it paid off. Gasly qualified fifth but finished just outside the points while Ocon qualified P17 and moved up the grid to a crucial fourth place. Between FP1 and FP2 in Las Vegas, Famin said: “I’m happy with the attitude we had in the team and this is the first sign of the team’s recovery.

“We have a change in mentality.”

“No one dared”

Looking back on the season, Famin said he felt that with the mid-season changes, Alpine had left “untapped” potential in its team members.

“That’s true for the garage, but it’s also true for track engineering. It’s true for the strategy, and we dare things that we didn’t dare before,” he said in Abu Dhabi. “Then we keep our promises, we use more of the potential of the car, we let’s extract more performance from the car, and I’m very happy with this state of mind.”

Alpine may have finished 2023 on a lonely island in sixth place with 120 points – 160 less than fifth-place Aston Martin and 92 points ahead of seventh-place Williams – but the second half of the season told a story slightly different from the first half. . Ocon and Gasly have scored a total of 57 points in the first 12 races and 63 points in the last 10 Grand Prix weekends.

It’s no secret that the car wasn’t where Alpine hoped it would be, and it’s not a single issue, meaning no one tweak will solve all of its problems. It must be competitive everywhere, but a change in team mentality and new perspectives may be needed to reinvigorate the crew.

“No one dared,” Famin said. “What is certain now is that to be efficient, and with such a level of competition, we must use everyone’s potential. And you have to align the planets. We have to be good at extracting performance from the car, we have to be good at developing the car and the engine.

Having a team working cohesively is essential to being competitive, whether everyone is based in the same factory or split up like Alpine. The chassis part of the team is based in Enstone, a village in the United Kingdom, while the engine part is in Viry-Châtillon, south of Paris.

“When I arrived in Viry, a little over a year and a half ago, I remember that the guys, some guys, not everyone, told me: ah, we only have one team customer now! What? It’s not a customer team, it’s our team, it’s our works team! And at Enstone, when I arrived at Enstone, I sometimes heard, with a Mercedes engine, we will go faster. No, OK, the Mercedes engine is [fast], of course,” Famin explained in Abu Dhabi, without however saying that the Alpine car would be faster with a Mercedes engine. “But with a Mercedes engine there will simply be no more projects and no more Enstones. Then we need to fully leverage our skills on the resources. I’m pretty sure it will work better and better. And this is one of the challenges of transparency. This relationship appears to be a weak point and it must be made into a strength. And this is a strength, because we have no compromise to make. We only have one car to optimize, one PU integration to optimize, and we will do it.

Harmony is needed between the two factories as Alpine strives to become a consistent podium contender. As much as the sport is a cross between a science fair and a game of chess, F1 is a people business. Relationships and culture are important when building a competitive team.

“What we need to do is make sure our people work well together and that we can get the best out of everyone. And regardless of nationality, regardless of where the person works, let’s all unite and unleash everyone’s energy and creativity,” Famin said. “In terms of techniques, but also in terms of processes. It’s really that momentum that we have at the trackside, to take it to the factories.

(Main image of Esteban Ocon in Monaco: Dan Istitene – Formula 1/Formula 1 via Getty Images)

Ray: How the 100-hole youth ride on the course gets kids into golf

Ray: How the 100-hole youth ride on the course gets kids into golf

Gettyimages 1343309391

Editor’s Note: On Nov. 13, Justin Ray, contributor to The Athletic’s golf coverage, will participate in the 100-hole youth trek on the course by attempting to play 100 holes in one day at Hay at Pebble Beach.

The youth sports sector is growing. The same goes for the cost of competition.

Project Play, an initiative of the Aspen Institute’s Sports & Society program, aims to help stakeholders build healthy communities through sport. The Aspen Institute estimates that American families spend between $30 billion and $40 billion annually on their children’s sports activities.

The families who make up the backbone of this economic monster are feeling the growing weight of what it takes to keep their children in the game. According to a 2019 survey by Utah State University and Sports & Society, the average young sports parent spent $883 on a child’s primary sport – per season. Cost is frequently cited as a growing reason why some parents do not have their children participate in organized sports: in 2021, only 37% of children ages 6 to 12 played team sports regularly.

The barrier to entry is significantly higher for families depending on their financial situation. According to a 2021 survey by the Sports and Fitness Industry Association, 40% of children ages 6 to 12 from households earning $100,000 or more played sports regularly. This figure fell to 24 percent for children from families with incomes of $25,000 or less.

Data from Project Play paints an even bleaker picture. According to its 2022 “State of Play” report, parents in wealthier households spent about four times more on their children’s sports than families with the lowest incomes. Travel is now the most expensive aspect of youth sports in the United States. Parents earning $150,000 or more per year spend 65% more on youth sports trips than households earning between $50,000 and $149,999.

Few sports can impose as many barriers to participation as golf. Adequate equipment is expensive. Access to practice facilities may be difficult or inconvenient. In the United States, about a quarter of golf facilities are privately owned. According to the National Golf Foundation, the median cost of a round of golf, during peak season, is almost $50.

Youth on Course works to remove these barriers in a real and effective way.

The nonprofit organization offers its members – now nearly 200,000 young people – access to more than 2,000 golf courses for $5 or less. More than 80 percent of Youth on Course families say the organization brings golf to their children.

“When we started, we knew there were many barriers to play,” said Adam Heieck, CEO of Youth on Course. “Cost, equipment, transportation. If a child gets excited about golf from watching Rory McIlroy or Jennifer Kupcho on TV, they will be intrigued by the sport – so go play and realize how expensive it is. Historically, gaming has not been very welcoming to many groups of people. Access is the whole ball game. We want to change the economics of golf, period.

“We believe kids have a right to play sports,” says Michael Lowe, vice president of programs for Youth on Course. “And if kids don’t have the means to do that, then we’re not doing our part, as a sport or an industry, to ensure that right.” Sport has the power to change children’s lives in many ways, and we must ensure they benefit from these opportunities.

Two years ago, Youth on Course began a partnership with TaylorMade to take the initiative even further. DRIVE Club allows young people to play golf for free at YOC facilities, with the opportunity to win TaylorMade equipment simply for playing the sport they love. The more they play, the more they can win. After launching programs in the Bay Area and Chicagoland, DRIVE Club expanded to Los Angeles, San Diego, San Antonio, Washington DC, Atlanta and Phoenix in 2023.

“It’s remarkable how much Youth on Course has grown in a relatively short time,” says Lowe. “We’re past 2,000 courses, but there are 10,000 public courses in the United States. To ensure access for all, we must continue to grow. Our top priority is to collaborate with as many courses as possible.

DRIVE Club players are encouraged to invite new golfers from their neighborhood, guiding them through their very first rounds. Partner courses, known as “Community Hubs,” have been equipped with TaylorMade equipment, further removing barriers to entry for young people learning the sport.

“DRIVE Club is important to TaylorMade for many reasons,” said Rick Paschal, TaylorMade CFO and Youth on Course board member. “Intrinsically, golf brings people together and creates bonds around a shared experience. DRIVE Club embodies these values, and we are proud to partner with Youth on Course to bring it to life.

For children who don’t come from golfing families, an invitation from a peer might be their only opportunity to play golf. In 2023 alone, DRIVE Club accounted for over 1,100 rounds played by new golfers.

“There is data from the National Golf Foundation that indicates that more than 80 percent of kids who play golf come from a golfing family,” Lowe says. “It’s not just cost that is a hugely significant barrier to accessing the sport: it’s the question of whether or not someone has access to play golf. DRIVE Club takes on this challenge by creating the introduction.

“DRIVE Club is interesting because it works peer-to-peer,” explains Heieck. “It’s one thing if it’s an adult, it’s a totally different frame of reference when kids talk and play with other kids. You don’t give a kid a 4-iron and tell him to go hit 100 balls. If he’s on the course with a corner and a friend and he’s having fun, that breaks the mystery.

The benefits of sport for young people extend well beyond the course, court or field. Allison Chan, 13, experienced this firsthand through Youth on Course and DRIVE Club.

“Golf taught me how to be a leader,” says Chan. “It taught me how to work in stressful situations, get out of my comfort zone and be independent and responsible.”

The lessons and rewards that golf provides – and how they can last a lifetime – are already evident to Allison.

“Most people think golf is just for older people – but it’s actually for everyone, of any age. You can be 100 or 10, it’s for everyone. And golf can open so many doors and opportunities.

By supporting initiatives like Youth on Course, more young people will have access to these doors. Readers are invited to support this effort by contributing to November’s 100-Hole Super Ride, which will directly benefit Youth on Course and its mission to increase youth sports participation in a meaningful and direct way.

“The 100 Hole Ride has added millions of dollars to the Youth on Course program, which has helped us subsidize hundreds of thousands of courses for families across the country,” says Heieck. “It’s definitely part of the culture here.”

It is a culture of inclusion, one that opens golf and its countless benefits to young people across the country.

The link to contribute to the author’s charitable effort can be found here.

(Top photo: John McCoy/Getty Images)

Antetokounmpo, Bucks frustrated after in-season tournament loss to Pacers: ‘It’s on us’

Antetokounmpo, Bucks frustrated after in-season tournament loss to Pacers: 'It's on us'

LAS VEGAS — Giannis Antetokounmpo was not happy. And after the Milwaukee Bucks faltered down the stretch, looking disorganized and listless in a 128-119 loss to the Indiana Pacers in the semifinals of the in-season tournament, he listed the reasons why.

“No, even if it was the organization and the coaches, I try to shoot straight,” Antetokounmpo said after being asked if the coaches or players were to blame. “But at the end of the day, while I don’t want to throw anyone under the bus, at the end of the day the players play the game. We play the game, you know. Coaches can say whatever they want and put us in a position to succeed, and you hope they do it for you.

“But you have to make the plays, you know, like if you’re not sprinting on defense, it’s not the coaches fault if you’re not sprinting back. If you’re not able to execute and you turn the ball over and throw it into your opponent’s hands, that’s not the coaches fault. You just have to be a man, you have to accept that.

The loss eliminated the Bucks from the inaugural event and dropped them to 15-7 for the season. They not only lost a winnable game, but also lost a chance to play for the NBA Cup and the $500,000 players would receive for winning it. Ultimately, there was a feeling of disarray, which reflected the Bucks’ play throughout the streak.

“We have to be a team,” Antetokounmpo said. “It’s game 22. We have 60 games left. We have to continue to be a team. We need to continue spending time together. We need to keep watching movies together. We must continue to play together on the pitch.

“We didn’t have time to train. We play every other day. It’s hard. It’s hard. I’m not going to lie, it’s difficult to train in this league. It’s not like playing abroad. Abroad, you play one match, two matches per week. You have four days a week to come back and work on your game plan. You know what you’re going to do defensively, how you’re going to guard teams, but in the NBA, that’s not the case. You practice while you play the game. But ultimately, for us to accelerate our chemistry, we have to continue to come together.

Together, it was something they weren’t in the final three minutes against their Central Division opponent. Heading into Thursday’s game against the Pacers, the Bucks were statistically the best team in the league, posting a 31.9 net rating in 54 minutes of basketball in 12 different games.

By the time the Pacers beat the Bucks, Indiana had taken first place in the net clutch time rankings. And it was the Pacers’ composure in clutch time, along with their ability to execute better than the Bucks on both ends, that allowed them to pull away when it mattered most.

“We have to be more organized,” said Antetokounmpo (37 points, 10 rebounds). “We need to know what we are trying to achieve in the final stretch. At the end of the day, like everything down the stretch, it’s about effort, man. It’s a question of effort and attitude, you have to go for it and accept it. I feel like the Indiana team did that.

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Throughout the season, the Bucks have managed close games with a fairly simple formula. On offense, they took care of the basketball and avoided turnovers, which allowed their incredibly talented offensive players to get a good look at the rim. On defense, even with their struggles at other points in the game, the Bucks found a way to get just enough stops in the final five minutes to pull out the win.

On Thursday, they could do neither as they watched the Pacers run away with a victory.

“They crashed the board, got defensive rebounds,” Antetokounmpo said. “They arrived at their place. They played great defense, got deflections. Nothing will be given to you in life. Nothing is going to be given to you in an NBA game, and we can’t expect that to be the case, we’re running a game and because we’re running the game, we’re going to score a bucket. Like you have to execute. You have to cut hard, screen harder, get open, drive the ball, you know, make things happen.

“We’ve done it in the past. Today I don’t think we did it as well. But at the end of the day, we have to be better at the end of the game. As if we should know what we are trying to accomplish over time. I feel like sometimes we weren’t on the same page, and it cost us dearly.

Defensively, the Bucks had no answer for Pacers guard Tyrese Haliburton.

They tried to run their basic man-to-man defense to start the game, but Haliburton had 11 points and seven assists as the Pacers took a 63-51 lead into halftime. In the third quarter, the Bucks switched to a 2-3 zone that threw the Pacers out of rhythm. It didn’t cause many turnovers – Haliburton finished the game with 27 points, 15 assists, seven rebounds and zero turnovers – but it ruined the Pacers’ offensive flow as they missed a few shots to start the third quarter.

On the other side, Damian Lillard scored 16 of his 24 points in the third quarter, including a 4-for-4 run from deep in the first six minutes of the second half. Lillard’s hot streak brought the Bucks back into the game.

After some initial struggles against the zone, the Pacers figured things out and started scoring at the same rate as the Bucks and the game went back and forth for the final six minutes of the third quarter and the first nine minutes of the fourth quarter. . With 3:26 left, Adrian Griffin took a timeout with the Pacers leading 113-110, setting up the scenes that would ultimately decide the outcome of the game.

While the zone had been running throughout the second half, Myles Turner made the Bucks pay for the rushing zone late when he sneaked inside Antetokounmpo and tipped in a rebound with 2 :19 to play.

“Well, (it) kind of helped us keep the ball in front of us,” Griffin said of the zone deployment in the second half. “Haliburton, he’s exceptional in pick-and-roll, so we were just trying to change our coverages a little bit. I thought the zone allowed us to come back, and I think if we had rebounded a little better the outcome would probably be different.

For center Brook Lopez, rebounding better will be important for the Bucks in games they decide to play zone in the future.

“That’s definitely a key and something you have to keep in mind in any zone, so we’ll definitely have to be better in that area as well,” Lopez said of the difficulty of defensive rebounding in a area. “That’s something we’ve wanted to improve on throughout the season, no matter what defense we’re in, so we’ll just have to be extra careful in the zone.”

And while the Bucks haven’t been a great defensive team this season outside of the final five minutes of close games, they’ve been a solid offensive team throughout most games and have gotten even better in tight situations. ‘clutch. On Thursday, the Bucks were careless in critical moments of the game.

This negligence began with a Lillard turnover in one of the team’s favorite offensive sets, the “V-Screen.”

“I came out of the pick-and-roll and tried to do it — it was the same pocket pass that I threw,” Lillard said. “Myles, he barely knocked him over.” He got his hands on it. It’s a play that happens sometimes. This ball passes, Brook is going to dunk. But it’s a play we always make, the ball gets there more often than not. He just made a good defensive play.

As Lillard described it, the turnover probably had more to do with Turner making a special play than Lillard being so reckless, but that doesn’t change the outcome of the game. However, the play that probably upset Antetokounmpo and Lillard and who best embodies the Bucks’ lack of offensive organization in clutch time came a minute later, immediately after Turner’s reveal.

“The play with Khris, he got the ball coming in and I was just running to the opposite slot,” Lillard said. “We didn’t really have a game, so I was in front of him and I didn’t know if he was going to attack or what. But he wanted to throw it to me and (access) a step-up (Lopez screen) and I was just kind of in the middle.

“And when he threw it, Bruce Brown just caught the gap. … In transition, I think he missed it and then you know they had someone run, track the play and tip it over. These are two unfortunate games.

After the game, Middleton took responsibility for a careless pass on the play.

“I just have to be better, it’s as simple as that,” he said. “He refused, I just have to keep the ball and make a better pass.”

And Griffin also told reporters that he could have been better in that situation.

“We need to execute better down the stretch,” Griffin said. “I have to do a better job of getting them into certain sets late in the match. But we put ourselves in a position, you know, the first half was tough. We’ve made some good adjustments, but we have to close out the fourth quarter, which we did very well. We just couldn’t get it done tonight.

For Antetokounmpo, losing a close game because of a lack of organization is not acceptable.

“Obviously the level of talent we have is incredible, but we need to be more organized,” he said. “I feel like sometimes we’re not organized at all. We don’t know what we’re trying to get from our offense, or sometimes defensively we don’t sprint back. … We had a lot of situations today where they got a lot of dunks, open 3s, early 3s. We have to be better.

“We have to know what their weaknesses are, what their strengths are, where they want the ball, what places on the pitch they want the ball, and the most important thing, I think, is that we have to – we have to I want it .No one will give you anything.

Go Further


Pacers beat Bucks to advance to NBA In-Season Tournament Finals

This season, the Bucks have been spectacular in close games and have done a great job of taking down opponents in tough situations. Now they’re leaving Las Vegas sooner than they wanted and with something to think about moving forward.

“After this match, what are we going to do? » asked Antetokounmpo. “Are we going to go to our rooms and just cry and cry about this or are we going to break bread and talk about the game? You know, watch that match, comment on the match what we were thinking, you know, me and Dame, me and Khris, me and Brook. How can Brook and I get rebounds, how can our bench be better? At the end of the day, I felt like their bench was kicking our butts. It’s simple. I saw the stats sheet. I don’t usually look at the stat sheet, but I looked at the stat sheet. They do it much better than us. Everyone was over 10 years old. They came in, changed the course of the offensive. They were aggressive. They were playing games. You know, our bench was not good tonight.

” It is necessary to talk about it. We must fix it. We now have three days until Monday to play Chicago at home. We have to get on the field. We need to get into the movie theater. We need to talk as a team and hopefully we can step up our chemistry. It’s not about the coach. It feels like we need to improve. It’s ours now. We have the talent, we have the experience. It’s ours. We know it’s our fault. »

(Photo by Damian Lillard and Giannis Antetokounmpo: Andrew D. Bernstein/NBAE via Getty Images)

Michael King leads diverse group of arms returning to Padres in Juan Soto trade

Michael King leads diverse group of arms returning to Padres in Juan Soto trade

Michael King might be truly special, but this group of arms arriving in San Diego via the Yankees’ trade for Juan Soto and Trent Grisham — which includes Drew Thorpe, Jhony Brito and Randy Vásquez — is perhaps more notable for its diversity styles, approaches. and the benefits. By putting together pitchers of varying strengths, San Diego is virtually guaranteed to produce at least a few mid-rotation arms profitably. Every pitcher has their own ups and downs that demonstrate just how beautiful can be in the eye of the beholder when it comes to evaluating a pitch.

The obvious headliner of the deal is King, who basically blew the door off the hinges in 2023 after being sidelined due to injury the year before. His ERA was the fourth best in baseball among pitchers with at least 100 innings, and he even lowered his ERA to 2.23 as a starter over his final 40 innings, dispelling some doubts about his ability to be an effective element. the Padres rotation. Looking at process statistics only reinforces this assessment: it has some very good things going for it.

Tips+which rates pitchers using only the physical characteristics of their pitches, shows that among those who threw more than 100 innings, King had:

  • An 80th percentile four-seam fastball
  • A 95th percentile two-seam fastball
  • The fourth best slider
  • A change at the 45th percentile
  • The 14th best thing overall+

It’s a nice slider, and yes…it’s a sweeper. Due to a huge 18 inch horizontal break, this pitch had the 12th best odor rating among sweepers which were launched at least 50 times last year.

Although King’s changeup has less than average drop and a below-average velocity gap with his fastball, he locates the pitch better than 85 percent of the league. His heat map reveals an ability to keep him low and away from lefties with the best in the league.


It’s why hitters only hit .100 out of the field last season, and it’s part of why King can be a starter.

The biggest question is how a lot of a starter that he can be. Last year’s 104 2/3 innings were the most he had since 2017’s 149, and he’s dealt with some significant injuries recently. The biggest and most recent one was pretty gruesome, as he fractured the tip of his elbow. Before that, he had a stress reaction in his elbow, and the Yankees were cautious with his workload, limiting him to fewer than 80 pitches in six of his nine starts last season. He retained his speed and all that even as he increased his pitch count, but his injury history is probably part of why he was even available to be part of this trade.

The other major league names don’t impress in the same way with surface results, but have intriguing aspects.

Brito looks to have four average throws and above average command when it comes to his movement and speed. Not surprisingly, his strikeout rate last year was below average and his walk rate was better than average. If Brito finishes better than expected, it’s because he can use this command and broad arsenal to play with the hitter’s expectations, and perhaps because his good horizontal movement could be trained toward more ground balls. He had ground ball rates as high as 56 percent in the minors, but was below the league average (44 percent) in 2023.

Perhaps more importantly for a team looking to replace 700 innings lost to free agency, Brito should be able to post frames for the Padres. Since crossing the 100 inning mark in 2019 – then missing the 2020 season – he has slowly worked his way up to the 127 innings he played last year with just two short trips to the scattered injured list . He had Tommy John in 2017, but that’s a relatively clean bill of health for a starting pitcher.

Vásquez had below-average strikeout, walk, and groundball rates, but that’s not entirely fair as an overall description of his abilities. He threw five types of pitches last year, and only the cutter is rated below average by Stuff+. His changeup has more drop and fade and has been his best pitch in terms of results, as hitters hit .100 and hit .300 out of the field despite a hitter-friendly ballpark. This looks like a tidy location.

Vásquez doesn’t have Brito’s command, but it’s not to the point that it’s a problem, and if he can modify any of his breaking throws to match the excellence of his changeup, he has the ability to take a step forward and surprise despite his poor peripherals starting in 2023. He should also be able to push 150 innings.

Thorpe was only 16th on Keith Law’s Yankees preseason prospect list due to possible fastball issues, but he has moved up two levels this year, striking out more than a third of the batters he has. he saw. He was one of only three minor league prospects to pitch at least 80 innings and have peripherals as good as last year. While the fastball velocity isn’t positive, he’s touched the mid-90s this year and has good vertical drive, as well as a visually pleasing changeup that’s a legitimate pitch.

Thorpe also continues the common theme with secondary weapons in this trade: He went 139 1/3 innings last year and should have no problem crossing the 150 inning threshold, although it remains an open question whether how ready he is to make the bulk of these in the major leagues right away, given that he was just drafted in 2022.

The Padres may still have to add a few innings on the free agent market — 700 is a big number to replace — but at the very least, they appear to have secured a group of arms that (aside from King) have shown their ability to eat sleeves. While King leads with the most upside and could be a legitimate starter at the top of the rotation in a healthy season, and while the other three have their flaws, Brito, Vásquez and Thorpe all have their own intriguing aspects, and at the very least, will provide optional depth if the Padres’ other young minor league pitchers overtake them as they improve.

(Photo by Michael King: Rich Story / USA Today)

Kings set NHL record for most road wins to start season

Kings set NHL record for most road wins to start season

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The Los Angeles Kings set a new NHL record for most road wins at the start of the season by picking up their 11th consecutive victory, beating the Montreal Canadiens 4-0 on Thursday night at the Bell Centre. Los Angeles broke a tie with the Buffalo Sabers in 2006-07, who won their first 10 games on the road. The Sabers have captured three via the shootout, introduced in 2005-06.

Los Angeles had never won more than its first three away games in any other season before this series.

Against the Canadiens, Quinton Byfield scored twice and the Kings, who improved to 16-4-3 overall, also got goals from Drew Doughty and Trevor Moore. Anze Kopitar also had three assists to round out Byfield’s three-point night.

Here is the list of Kings road casualties: Winnipeg, Minnesota, Arizona (twice), Toronto, Ottawa, Philadelphia, Vegas, Anaheim, Columbus and now Montreal.

Cam Talbot stopped 24 shots to record his second shutout of the season. Talbot, who has been one of the best statistical goalies in the NHL this season, picked up his 12th victory. The 36-year-old entered the game with a 1.48 goals-against average and .944 save percentage against the Canadiens, the latter being the highest mark against a team he faced at least 10 times.

The Kings have the chance to further extend their road record Saturday when they visit the New York Islanders in the third stop of a current four-game Eastern Conference series. They will finish the trip on Sunday when they take on the New York Rangers in a clash of teams that have risen to the top in points percentage.

Kings’ longest road winning streak






October 17, 2023-present



December 18, 1974-January. 16, 1975



February 26, 2014 – March 27, 2014



December 31, 2009-January. 31, 2010



February 23, 2011 – March 29, 2011



Jan. February 30, 2022-Feb. 25, 2022

How important is this record in the NHL?

That’s pretty darn significant. The Kings had never won more than eight straight on the road at any point in the season until this first set of games. They have been remarkably effective away from Crypto.com Arena, winning every game except Tuesday’s 4-3 overtime triumph at Columbus in regulation play. The only other close game during that stretch on the road was a 5-4 win on Oct. 27 against Arizona, when they used three third-period goals to come back from an early 4-1 deficit. These 11 enemies were defeated by a total of 50-18. Impressive.

Could this be an omen for the rest of the season? In 2006-07, the Sabers not only started their season with 10 wins on the road, but they also won their first 10 games en route to a season in which they won the Presidents’ Trophy for the first and only times in franchise history after collecting 53 wins and 113 points. Buffalo would defeat the New York Islanders and New York Rangers in the first two rounds of the playoffs before losing to Ottawa in the Eastern Conference Finals.

The Sabers led the NHL with 298 goals excluding shootouts that season and had four 30-goal scorers – Thomas Vanek, Chris Drury, Jason Pominville and Daniel Briere – while two others (Maxim Faitogenov and Derek Roy) surpassed the 20. These Kings might not end up with four 30-goal scorers, but they arguably have more balance in their lineup. It’s possible they end up with seven players scoring 20 or more and at least three other skaters realistically finishing in double figures.

What are the Kings capable of this season?

After losing to Edmonton in the first round for the second straight series, Los Angeles is looking to host its first playoff series since winning the Stanley Cup in 2014. The Kings have not won a series since beating the Rangers for their second title, losing to San Jose in 2016 and Vegas in 2018. They are on their third head coach since the firing of Darryl Sutter – John Stevens, Willie Desjardins and now Todd McLellan – and have gone through a period of rebuild where they were a sub-.500 team for three seasons.

But they are well beyond rebuilding, as evidenced by exchanges with Kevin Fiala, Vladislav Gavrikov and Pierre-Luc Dubois over the past two years. This Kings team is solid, with nine players scoring six or more goals, and they are among the best in the league offensively and defensively. Talbot’s strong goaltending has only strengthened a team that is among the stingiest when it comes to allowing shots and excellent scoring chances. Sunday’s game at Madison Square Garden could be an interesting matchup between teams that could battle for supremacy in the Western and Eastern conferences.

The only division title in Los Angeles history came in 1990-91, and the 105 points total in 1974-75 was a franchise record. Last season’s 47 wins is the team’s current record. Fifty now seems possible if the Kings continue at their current pace. This is easily McLellan’s best Kings team in his five seasons, and he can enjoy a march to the second round or beyond. McLellan, who experienced Los Angeles’ rebuild in his first two years, last made it past the first round in 2017 with Edmonton.

Required reading

(Photo: Minas Panagiotakis/Getty Images)

Oft-injured Willis McGahee leads fight against NFL for lost profits: ‘It’s a sham’

Oft-injured Willis McGahee leads fight against NFL for lost profits: 'It's a sham'

Willis McGahee contemplated suicide. The thoughts that swirled through his mind about the possibility of ending his life stemmed largely from his inability to accept that the previous one was over.

For 11 years, McGahee was an NFL running back. The two-time Pro Bowl selection enjoyed a rewarding career with the Bills, Ravens, Broncos and Browns. But at the end of the 2013 season, he didn’t know what to do with himself.

At just 32 years old, McGahee was lost. Most of his previous years were spent giving his all to football. Once that was removed, he struggled to identify a goal.

“When it’s gone, you really don’t have anything to fall back on,” McGahee said. “There’s just a lot of stuff happening to you, man, and it’s getting mentally tough.”

McGahee thought he could still play, but the NFL had moved on. He was considered washed up, injury prone and unworthy of a roster spot. As the years passed and his new reality became more final, McGahee often doubted that this was a reality he wanted to exist in. Committing suicide was something he strongly considered.

“It crossed my mind several times,” McGahee said.

McGahee, now 42, is in a better place. He found the will to continue: he wanted to be there for his 10 children. He started going to therapy. Overall, he has become more disciplined about maintaining his mental health.

But even though McGahee’s mind has improved, his body hasn’t. His amateur and professional soccer careers were accompanied by injuries including multiple torn ligaments in both knees, two torn hip flexors, a fractured tibia, a twisted vertebra, a boxer’s fracture, at least two major concussions , “countless” broken ribs and a high ankle. sprains, multiple knee braces, dozens of joint aspirations, and a litany of other “minor” ailments that left him in a near-constant state of pain. A doctor once told McGahee he had the “body of a carpenter.”

“There’s a lot going on,” McGahee said. “And being the athlete that I am, I just try to let go. But I’m tired of sucking it because it’s killing me inside.

In his second year out of the NFL, McGahee sought to gain advantages through the NFL Disability Plan. Three potential benefits provide monthly payments through the plan: total and permanent disability benefits, which are for former players unable to work due to disability; Line-of-duty disability benefits, which are for players who have a significant disability due to NFL activities; and neurocognitive disability benefits, intended for players with mild or moderate neurocognitive impairment.

To receive benefits, former players must complete an online application, provide supporting documentation and attend at least one medical examination by what is described as a “neutral physician” chosen by the NFL Disability Board. (Commissioner Roger Goodell is the chairman of the board, which is made up of three voting members selected by the NFLPA and three voting members selected by the NFL.) From there, the board makes a decision.

McGahee received LOD benefits but was denied T&P benefits. Because he felt his mental and physical deficiencies made him unable to work, he was confused and applied again the following year. Every year since then, he has been denied T&P benefits. In his most recent application, he cited the combination of orthopedic conditions, neurological impairments, neuropsychological impairments, and psychological impairments as reasons for seeking T&P benefits. McGahee and his attorney Samuel Katz said the doctor he saw did not actually review his records proving his impairments and deemed him still capable of working based on physical observation alone.

After this denial, McGahee’s frustration with the process turned into action. He consulted Katz before moving in February to file a class action alongside nine other former players against the NFL Disability Plan and every member of the NFL Disability Board.

The lawsuit alleges that the defendants breached their fiduciary duty of loyalty to former NFL players through misinformation in violation of the Employee Retirement Income Security Act (ERISA) and wrongfully denied them benefits. in violation of the terms of the NFL Disability Plan. Additionally, the suit alleges that doctors consulted to make decisions are not neutral because they are financially incentivized to deny disability claims.

Go Further


Class action lawsuit targets NFL disability plans, alleges doctors are incentivized to deny claims

“It doesn’t benefit the players who are really injured and going through things in life,” McGahee said. “They don’t take care of us. It’s a sham. I’m tired of him. Someone has to step up and do something.

McGahee’s NFL career was in jeopardy before it even began. In 2003, in the fourth quarter of the final game of his record-breaking career at the University of Miami, he caught a screen pass and took a devastating blow to the left knee that tore his ACL, PCL and MCL. The injury required multiple surgeries to repair, and although the Bills still selected McGahee in the first round of the 2003 draft, the extensive rehabilitation process caused him to miss his entire rookie season. It was a traumatic, exhausting and frightening experience, but it didn’t change the way McGahee played the game.

“At the end of the day, if (an injury) is meant for you, it’s meant for you,” McGahee said. “I looked at it like, ‘Once I get to the NFL, it’s going to be up to me.’ If you run like you’re afraid of getting hurt or try to play easy, that’s when injuries happen. But when you go out there and you let it all out and you leave it on the field, man, it tends to work for you.

Initially, that was the case. McGahee had 1,128 yards and 13 touchdowns in 2004, 1,247 yards and five touchdowns in 2005 and 990 yards and six touchdowns in 2006. After being traded to the Ravens in 2007, he signed a $40.1 million contract over seven years that changed his life. .

McGahee justified the investment by throwing for 1,207 yards and seven touchdowns that season, but his injury problems would resurface when he suffered cracked ribs late in the year. This continued the following season when he suffered ankle, shoulder, knee and eye injuries.

“I call it a gift and a curse because I learned to play through pain, which normal people wouldn’t do,” McGahee said. “To this day, it’s still bad for me because I can suck it up and I can deal with it, and I can walk around. But, in reality, I’m really hurting.

During the 2008 AFC Championship Game, McGahee lost consciousness, suffered a concussion and had to be stretchered off the field.

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McGahee, then with the Ravens, is taken off the field on a stretcher after a brutal hit by the Steelers’ Ryan Clark during the AFC championship game on January 18, 2009. (Al Bello/Getty Images)

At the start of the 2009 season, he lost his starting job. After the 2010 season it was removed.

McGahee would return to starting duty after signing with the Broncos in 2011 and bounced back, throwing for 1,199 yards and four touchdowns. He held his position for the first 10 games of the 2012 season, but then the injury bug took hold of him. In Week 11, he suffered a blow to his right knee that resulted in a torn MCL and compression fracture. McGahee’s season was over.

In 2013, McGahee signed with the Browns and became a part-time starter. During a Week 14 game with the Patriots, he took another hit that knocked him unconscious and gave him a concussion. It was the final kickoff of his career.

From a pain management standpoint, McGahee first realized he had entered new territory when he no longer had access to doctors, treatments and, most notably, NFL medications . The hydrocodone, muscle relaxers and Toradol injections he relied on throughout his career were no longer as readily available. At one point, McGahee even resorted to medication prescribed to his grandmother.

McGahee said he now suffers the most pain from a herniated disc in his lower back. He often has difficulty getting out of bed and can feel the disc moving when he coughs or makes certain movements. This is on top of his sore knees, stiff joints, numb feet and neurological problems that he is certain stem from his numerous concussions.

Between McGahee’s physical and neuropsychological impairments, his quality of life is heading in the wrong direction. In his lawsuit against the NFL, he asks for help he says is desperately needed.

“It sucks,” McGahee said. “It hasn’t gotten better. Nothing has improved. Everything gets worse with time. This is where I am at the moment. I’m just trying to understand. It’s very emotionally stressful. This takes a toll on the mind and body. Because every day you’re trying to figure out, “What’s next?” How am I going to get over this hump?’

The lawsuit is not limited to McGahee and his nine fellow plaintiffs. They are seeking to regain benefits, but they are also fighting to remove members of the NFL Disability Board, in an effort to ban the use of “biased” doctors and in hopes of “correcting and preventing further misinformation.” The broader goal is to prevent what they claim happened from happening to others.

The NFL moved to dismiss the lawsuit in June because the plaintiffs “fail to state a claim of violation” of ERISA. In August, the plaintiffs responded to that motion, and the NFL subsequently filed a response. The judge’s decision on the NFL’s motion is pending.

“There have been approximately 10,000 claims reviewed since 2008,” league spokesman Brian McCarthy said. told the Washington Post earlier this year. “Even if these fewer than a dozen cases were poorly resolved – and they were not – these fewer than a dozen cases hardly constitute a trend. »

“We obviously need to have a system to identify who is eligible for these benefits and who is not eligible for them,” Goodell said earlier this year. “And this is done with the union and management. And the facts are that this is done independently with doctors determining whether the benefit, an individual, qualifies for this program. So you don’t want people who aren’t eligible to benefit from it, because that deprives people who are eligible to benefit from it. So there will always be people who think they qualify. Doctors disagree. The joint committee disagrees. This is how the system works. But I would tell you that the advantages in the NFL are off the charts.

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McGahee is being treated by trainers after injuring his knee in a 2012 game against the Chargers. (Jack Dempsey/Associated Press)

According to the NFLPA, nearly 3,200 former players will receive approximately $320 million in benefits in 2023. That’s a sizable amount, but there are still a significant number of former players who think they should be receiving benefits but aren’t. The lawsuit’s plaintiffs believe they are representative of this group.

“When this is all over, you would think they would be there to help you,” McGahee said of the NFL. “Think of all the money you’ve made. All the excitement you put on that football field. And you put it out there and put your body on the line for these guys, for your teammates, for the team, for the city, for the organization. And when it’s all said and done, it’s on to the next person. You’re old news.

The outcome of the trial likely won’t be determined anytime soon. The NFL and NFLPA declined to comment for this story. In the meantime, McGahee and others have no choice but to continue.

Football – the game they loved, paid well for and gave them years of moments they will never forget – is also responsible for the predicament they find themselves in. This truth is inherently bittersweet.

“I don’t regret it,” McGahee said. “But it’s something I have to face now.”

(Top photo: Steven Senne / Associated Press)

“The Football 100,” the definitive ranking of the 100 greatest NFL players of all time, is now on sale. Order it here.

The filming of the cult film Green Street: “We gave West Ham a stripped down version of the script”

The Athletic

Green Street is a film that American golfer Billy Horschel has watched more than 30 times.

It’s a film that helped former West Ham United defender Fabian Balbuena learn English, a film that helped ex-striker Enner Valencia settle down and a film that, 18 years after its release , remains a cult classic.

Directed by Lexi Alexander, the film starred Lord of the Rings’ Elijah Wood, Charlie Hunnam, who later appeared in Sons of Anarchy, and established British actors Ross McCall and Marc Warren. The film took 27 days to shoot, with a budget of £3.5 million.

This is the story of Green Street. On how the story of West Ham and Millwall’s rivalry was inspired by two lower league clubs in Germany, why there were initial fears about Wood’s casting and why one cast member has a mural in a Tunisian football club.

“I always wanted to make a film like Green Street because I grew up in a business”

Dougie Brimson, one of the script’s writers, remembers his first meeting with Alexander. She had been nominated for an Oscar for her short film about American boxer Johnny Flynton, released in 2002. But Alexander wanted to make a film based on her experiences.


Elijah Wood

Matt Buckner

Charlie Hunnam

Pete Dunham

Leo Gregoire


Claire Forlani

Shannon Dunham

Marc Warren

Steve Dunham

Ross McCall

Dave Bjorno

Rafe Spall


Kieran Bew


Geoff Bell

Tommy Hatcher

Terence Jay

Jeremy VanHolden

Joel Beckett


Henry Goodman

Carl Buckner

“Someone contacted a woman who wanted to make a film about football hooliganism,” he says. “I finally contacted Lexi and said, ‘I’m interested in helping.’ I flew to Hollywood, stayed there for a little over a week, and we had a basic script.

“I am continually amazed at how much interest in Green Street persists. When I hang out with Leo Gregory (who played Bovver), people always ask him for photos. Leo will say, “Guys, this is the guy who wrote the movie.” Then they’ll say, “Oh, can you take a picture of me and Bovver please.” Nobody gives a damn about me. It’s weird.

Alexander, Brimson, Josh Shelov and Deborah Del Prete all played important roles in structuring the storyline. Green Street is in the borough of Newham, home to West Ham’s old stadium, the Boleyn Ground – and it was Alexander’s idea to base the film on the rivalry between West Ham and Millwall.

The rivalry between the two clubs is a long-standing one, dating back to when the clubs were called Millwall Athletic and Thames Ironworks. Their rivalry is entrenched in British football largely because of the animosity between the clubs’ hooligan companies, the Inter City Firm (ICF) and the Millwall Bushwackers.

For the film, I researched which English clubs to use and West Ham reminded me the most of the club I supported, Waldhof Mannheim (now in the third tier of German football),” says Alexander. “It’s like West Ham will never win the Premier League but they still dream of it. Waldhof Mannheim used to be in the second division, now it’s this village church team that no one knows. But we had a rivalry fierce with Kaiserslautern (currently in 2. Bundesliga) and it reminded me of West Ham and Millwall.

“West Ham and Millwall don’t play each other often because they’re not in the same league, but when they do it’s carnage. When Waldhof Mannheim and Kaiserslautern were in the same league, it was “Holy shit.” It was exploding. So why I wanted to highlight the rivalry between West Ham and Millwall.

“I always wanted to make a film like Green Street because I grew up in a company in Germany. My brother dragged me, and since I was a girl, no one wanted to fight me. In these groups you can’t win by fighting a girl because you get slapped by the company or because you are embarrassed by a girl beating you. I wanted to run with the company and I had so much adrenaline. It doesn’t matter where the company is, whether it’s British, Dutch, French – except American because they don’t do that sort of thing – but when it comes to hooligan companies, they all have the same mentality.

Green Street Filming

Alexander (middle) on set (Photo provided by Lexi Alexander)

“The company I worked for wanted me to take photos so we could develop them. On Saturdays I would go to the pub and show everyone the pictures of our fights and it would be a big party. If I captured someone in the company getting punched, then everyone would start picking on that person. It was a lot of fun but there were times when it wasn’t enjoyable. There were times when it got super dangerous and that’s when I started to back away. I remember we were attacked by a company that surprised us on the highway on our way to a game. We had several cars and they were on a bus and they checked us, smashed all the windows and broke all the windows.

“That’s when I thought, ‘I can’t do this forever.’ When it wasn’t bad, when it was just me standing on a ledge taking pictures of the guys, it was fun. Being in a business is like being in a family when you don’t have one. One of the toughest guys in our company was a social worker. Then we had another hard man who could have been a lawyer. It was far from working-class. Mainly people who first met through football and then shared a fighting bond afterwards.

Del Prete, a film producer, was a screenwriter for Green Street, but she was shocked when she read the initial script.

Dougie wrote an early version of the film but the film you all see was written by Lexi,» Del Prete said. I read that script and I swear, all I thought was, “Wow, there are gangs around football?

“Here’s the funny part, I owned a building in Los Angeles called the Coronet Theater. At the bottom of the base were a few shops, a bar and a hairdresser. I always used to get my hair done there by a Brit. I read the script while he was doing my hair and he looked over my shoulder and said, “Deb, look at this.” He rolled up his sleeve and got a tattoo of West Ham’s ‘irons’. I thought, “Oh my God, this must be a sign.” I asked him lots of questions about West Ham and we still talk about it.»

One of the most heartbreaking scenes in the film was largely due to Shelov.

I was hoping to break into Hollywood and become a screenwriter and I had been trying for 10 years.» said Chelov. I was so close to giving up and getting a real job, and then a good friend of mine, Alex, told me about this movie called Green Street and was given the initial script by Dougie. They wanted to improve the script from a story perspective and Alex asked me if I would take a look at it. I read it and there were a lot of good things, but I thought it was important that the character Charlie Hunnam (Pete Dunham, who runs West Ham’s Green Street Elite company) died at the end. This is a big part of why the film had such an impact on people.

“I talked to Lexi, made some changes, the script was passed to the actors and it changed my life a lot. Then I was told that Elijah liked the script and I ended up working in Hollywood. I was renting a small apartment in Brooklyn and thanks to Green Street I was able to buy a house for my family. I saw it premiere at the Tribeca Film Festival in America. My son is 15 and he watched it for the first time the other day. It was an incredible feeling. It’s the pinnacle of my career and it’s the thing people recognize me for the most.»

In March 2004, Wood and his co-stars surprised West Ham fans in the lower level of the Bobby Moore Stand when they attended their Championship match against Gillingham. The club granted access to the film crew thanks to a compelling sales pitch from Alexander, Del Prete recalls.

Elijah Wood West Ham Scaled

Wood, middle, with the cast at a West Ham match in 2004 (Graeme Robertson/Getty Images)

“The funny thing is how Lexi convinced West Ham to let us shoot the film at Upton Park,” She said. “We gave them a stripped down version of the script. She and I went through the script and eliminated the majority of the bad things. They would not have allowed us to be there if they had known it was hooliganism. But Lexi’s charm convinced them: it was a miracle that we were able to film there.»

‘My response was: It would be really great. But it is clear that the Americans did not use sarcasm…”

Auditions were held in America and England under the supervision of Des Hamilton, the casting director, and Alexander. The main actors were Hunnam, Gregory, Warren, Claire Forlani, McCall and Geoff Bell.

But when Brimson learned who Alexander had in mind for the lead role of Matt, he was initially worried.

“I was in north London and I got a phone call and the person said, ‘What do you think of Elijah Wood?’ I said, ‘For what?’ and it was the role of Matt. My response was, “He would be really great.” But clearly the Americans didn’t do the sarcasm because I was being sarcastic. Then I get a phone call saying, ” Elijah’s going to play Matt.’ I thought, ‘Oh, shit.’ Because he had played the Hobbit in Lord of the Rings, I was afraid we’d just have Hobbit jokes.»

Green Street Cast Scaled

The filming of The Green Street in London (Photo provided by Lexi Alexander)

Alexander recalls the moment she met Wood, how McCall’s audition left her speechless and why she was keen to have Hunnam on board.

“Elijah was one of 10 guys I met and he and the others were all famous,” she says. “It was a role that a lot of guys wanted. Elijah was so recognizable from Lord of the Rings and I remember we were near Soho recording and this woman went crazy because she got to meet him. She said to me, “Holy shit, what are you doing here?” That’s how big he was. We had to move him away urgently.

“To this day, Ross’ interview still impresses me. He spit gum at the casting director and normally that’s not cool at all. But it was so genuine and it happened because they were both swearing at each other. I was shocked but it was one of the best auditions I’ve seen. Ross would have had a bigger role in the film if I had met him earlier.

“I can laugh about it now but no one knew Charlie then. He was only in Queer as Folk and Nicholas Nickleby. So people didn’t understand why I wanted Charlie to play Pete, but I kept telling them it would work. It was more important that his character be likable than a tough, tough man. Even though Charlie can beat people up, there had to be an attachment to the audience. Charlie was cast in Sons of Anarchy because of his role in Green Street.

McCall, who was in Band of Brothers, thinks Wood joining the cast was a turning point. Wood’s character, Matt, is a wrongly expelled Harvard journalism student who moves to London, where he is exposed to the world of soccer hooliganism.

I got a call from my agent about Green Street but the movie was originally called The Yank,» he says. I remember reading this book about an American undercover reporter, so it was quite similar to the storyline. But in all honesty, I was initially lukewarm about the storyline and now it’s a cult classic. I went to the studio to meet the casting director Des Hamilton and we’re big Celtic fans so we had something in common.

Then I met Lexi and I remember being told that Elijah and Charlie were involved. I knew the dangers of making this film and glorifying hooliganism, but Elijah was a big catch. During my audition, I remember doing something that could have gone either way. It was loosely based on improvisation and Des and I would insult each other. I was chewing gum during my audition, which is a big no-no for an actor. Des hurt my feelings so I just spit my gum in his face, which is horrible. But that’s when Lexi said to me, “Yes, you’re definitely part of the cast.”»

Gregory and Hunnam formed a close bond before and after filming Green Street.

Green Street Premiere Scaled

Wood, Alexander and Hunnam at the New York premiere of Green Street (Thos Robinson/Getty Images)

“The director took me to America so I could spend time with Charlie,» » said Gregory. “The reason behind it was that I was someone who went to football a lot, so I had to pass that knowledge on to Charlie. He spoke with a cockney accent and he gave him credit for trying. When we came back from LA, found a place in London and most of the cast was already sorted. I’m a huge Tottenham fan so being at Green Street helped pay for my season ticket. didn’t know it would be a cult film when we made it. The funny thing is there’s a team in Tunisia that has a huge mural of me because I was in the street Green. That amazes me.»

But it wasn’t just famous actors who were considered cast members.

West Ham’s young academy members – including Dan Potts (now at Luton Town), Jack Powell (currently at Crewe Alexandra), Billy Knott (ex-Chelsea and Bradford City) and Blair Turgott (formerly of Coventry and Leyton Orient ) – all feature in the film.

Del Prete adds: “Sometimes we had hooligans on set who were often there for our protection. We were filming outside one of the London Underground stations and there was a huge installation. I was in a monitor and Lexi and I were 20 or 30 feet apart.

“One guy, who looked like a businessman, decided he was annoyed that part of the road was closed and started hitting one of the attendants with his umbrella. Lexi just transformed into Wonder Woman and rushed towards this guy to scare him and protect the PA. Then all the thugs on set came running to protect her.»

“They’re selling tickets outside because the guy at the door keeps saying the Green Street actor is there”

Green Street has won several awards, including Best Feature Film at the LA Femme Film Festival and the Special Jury Prize and Audience Award at the SXSW Film Festival, both in 2005.

I still get so much love from people because I made this film,” Alexander says. “I’d be somewhere talking about a completely different movie and some kid around 18 to 25 years old would stand up and shout, ‘I love Green Street!’ And it happens constantly. Students want me to come talk about this movie and it’s just crazy how popular this movie is. It also made significantly more money on DVD than it did in the theater.

“I have experienced so many special memories since filming this film. I was in a Starbucks in America and you have to tell them your name. I was waiting for my order and they shouted, “Lexi, your Grande Moka is ready.” This guy turned to me and said, “Are you Lexi Alexander from Green Street Hooligans?” I told him, ‘Well, it depends on how much you like the movie.’ But the crazy thing was that it was around 7:30 in the morning and far from the Hollywood area where the industry people are. I couldn’t stop laughing. He ended up telling me that he’s a lawyer and that Green Street is one of his favorite movies.

Green Street Case 2 Scaled

The cast of The Green Street on set (Photo provided by Lexi Alexander)

“Someone randomly messaged me on Twitter about an engaged couple from London who have three kids. He’s a soccer coach and she’s a creative writer. They said that on their first date , they asked each other what their favorite movie was and they both said Green Street. That’s when they realized they were meant to be together. It was so cute and joking, I said, “I should send you something from the movie for your wedding.” Then they said, “We’d love to have you as a guest instead.” I plan to attend.

“So it’s nice times like that and I’m a big West Ham fan now. I go to matches whenever I’m in London and I always wear my shirt and scarf.

In an interview with Athleticism, golfer Horschel spoke about his love for the film and how he’s now friends with Mark Noble and Declan Rice: “I was a sophomore at college and I moved into a new apartment,” did he declare. “The cable hadn’t been installed yet, so I bought some DVDs and somehow Green Street was on them. I watched it and I was hooked – and I became a huge West Ham fan. I have watched it over 30 times.

Go Further


Billy Horschel: ‘I’m lucky to have Mark Noble as a companion – he lifted me up at my lowest moment’

Balbuena, who played for West Ham from 2018 to 2021, has a similar story.

“I wasn’t nervous about moving to England but I knew very little about West Ham,” he said. “I knew (fellow South Americans) Carlos Tevez and Javier Mascherano played for them. But what many people don’t know is that I watched the movie Green Street. I know it’s about hooliganism, but that movie helped my English. Then after I was able say hello and ask a few questions, the club organized my English lessons.

Go Further


Fabian Balbuena: “I know it’s about hooliganism, but watching Green Street helped me settle in and learn English”

For Brimson, the film has a personal connection. “I remember asking Leo if he missed being recognized. He said, They still remember me 18 years later, why the hell bother me?‘. I have watched Green Street several times andThe boy who gets killed on the terraces is my son, who is now 22, and the girl Elijah is talking to at the bar is my daughter.

“I just came back from Europe and I was constantly being stopped on Green Street,” McCall said. “I’m known for other things, but I’m always known for being on Greet Street. I was in Thailand six years ago with a friend. We’re at a bar one night and it’s quiet, then all of a sudden more and more people started coming in. You always know when people are checking you out because they know you from something. This young lady comes in and says, “They’re selling tickets outside because the guy at the door keeps saying the actor from Green Street is here.”

“I was like, ‘Wow, this bar is making me money.’ This whole trip was so funny because I was walking down a road and all the guys in Europe wanted a photo with me. Now it’s crazy that 18 years later I’m still recognized for it. I can’t walk into a pub in the UK without people saying: ‘You’re the guy from Green Street’. Last week I was in Holland at a sushi restaurant and someone recognized me. There are fans of this film everywhere.

Similar to Alexander, Del Prete has developed a special bond with West Ham.

“Green Street is honestly my favorite movie,” she says. “We had so much fun making it. The cast was fun to work with and I knew almost right away that we had something special. Not a year went by without people asking me about Green Street. American students love this movie and that’s where a lot of our fans come from.

“Now I have a deep emotional attachment to West Ham. I didn’t know much about football before this film. Now if a match is on I won’t watch it unless it’s West Ham. Right now, somewhere in the world, someone is watching Green Street; a film in which I played an important role. It’s the best feeling for me.

(Photos: Getty images; design: Sam Richardson)

Bucks-Pacers: In-season tournament updates

Bucks-Pacers: In-season tournament updates

Tyrese Haliburton drops 27 points and 15 assists as Indiana advances

Eric Nehm, Sam Amick and John Hollinger

Jeff Haynes/NBAE via Getty Image

With Indiana’s victory tonight, Bruce Brown now has a chance to be the first player to win an NBA championship and an In-Season Tournament championship in the same calendar year.

(For the record, no one on the Pelicans or Lakers can accomplish this feat).

“We are a disruptor”

Pacers coach Rick Carlisle was happy to revel in his team’s small market status after the Pacers’ victory:

“Look, we’re a troublemaker,” Carlisle said. “A lot of people didn’t want us here. That doesn’t matter to us. We earned our spot here. We earned our spot for three more nationally televised games. So people are going to learn about the Pacers and who we are and how we let’s play.

Damian Lillard on Tyrese Haliburton during his ‘Dame Time’ celebration

Here’s Damian Lillard’s response when asked about Tyrese Haliburton pointing his wrist after a critical 3 in the fourth quarter during the Pacers’ 128-119 victory.

“I learned when I was a kid, when you do it, you have to be willing to take it. Even though I’ve done it to people, I can’t be upset when someone else does it , you I know what I mean. I think it’s also a sign of respect and recognition of knowing my history and knowing what I’m doing. It didn’t bother me. That’s how it was.

“I also know that, you know, when you’re having your moment, it’s important to be careful, to be humble in your moments because you never know how things are going to turn out or when they’re going to turn out.

I respected him. We shook hands after the match. It didn’t move me, neither on the left nor on the right.”

It’s an unreal statistic. These are also unreal highlights.

Haliburton’s run through the in-season tournament is somewhat similar to one of the great runs of the NCAA Tournament. Kudos to guys like Kemba Walker and Shabazz Napier. It’s just an incredible moment for Haliburton to let the world know what he’s been doing all season.

It’s still too early to tell how well the in-season tournament will fare in the long run and how important it will be, but it has already created a sort of NBA monoculture moment with these widely televised single-game windows national. It allows people to see the genius of Tyrese Haliburton. So, on one point, the IST is a success: it struck a star. The NBA always needs more of these elements and opportunities to develop them.

After Indiana beat the Celtics in the IST quarterfinals on Monday, guard TJ McConnell said the Pacers were “telling themselves” by the quality of their defense in the fourth quarter against Boston. They could defend at a much higher level than most of the first quarter of the season, when they were one of the worst defenses in the league. This was evident again today with Indy’s defense in a critical moment against Milwaukee. With a closer like Tyrese Haliburton, all the Pacers have to do is not be a sieve defensively. They lost some oil in the third, but were stopped throughout the sequence.

A thought I had while watching Tyrese Haliburton live his moment to the fullest: Is he the spiritual successor to Steve Nash? My point: If seven seconds or less was five seconds or less, and Nash had grown up in an era where the “point guard” didn’t view shooting as an inherently selfish pursuit, would Nash have become Haliburton?

Spicy celebration from Haliburton, who buries a 3-pointer from the left wing to give the Pacers a 122-114 lead with 48 seconds left and starts looking at his wrist as he leaves the floor about the same way that a certain Damian Lillard. often did – hence the “Dame Time” brand. Tyrese Time isn’t as catchy, but it was well deserved.

It’s crazy to hear commentators say that Aaron Nesmith is needed to guard Giannis after his career begins in Boston. But he’s really growing into his role with the Pacers with this relentless energy.

To Will’s point about Lillard above, no one could blame him for taking some time to warm up considering it’s absolutely freezing inside that arena. I understand it’s a hockey venue, but we didn’t need to emulate the frosty atmosphere (cc: Evan Wasch, executive vice president of basketball strategy and analytics for the NBA, who joined the Tampering pod today to talk all things STI).

It was a 43-point Bucks quarter and a lot of that had to do with their 3-point shooting. After hitting just four of their 12 3-point attempts in the first half, they knocked down six of 10 in the third quarter. Damian Lillard made four of those 3-pointers and scored 16 points in the third quarter after just four points in the first half.

Anddddd the Pacers’ 3-point defense has become a pumpkin. Damian Lillard and Khris Middleton only light it up.

Dollars are now up halfway through the third

I wouldn’t say the Bucks’ 2-3 defense is particularly difficult to play against, as the Pacers looked good in the third quarter, but it completely disrupted Indiana’s offensive rhythm and the Bucks are back in this match. .

Lady warming up

Damian Lillard started by missing his first seven shots of the evening. Since then, he’s 6 of 7 from the field and has 18 points. He also had 14 of Milwaukee’s 25 points to start the third quarter.

Indiana offense struggles in final 6 minutes

Curry off-ball move from Lillard there to chase the 3 after the offensive rebound. The Bucks hung 25 on Indy in less than six minutes. Remember when I said all those nice things about Indy’s defense?

A classic Rick Carlisle quick timeout to start the second half. It only took 52 seconds before he decided to tell his team.

The Bucks are sixth in the NBA this season in corner 3 attempts, averaging 10 per game, according to stats site NBA.com. They made those shots at a rate of 45 percent, higher than all but two other teams in the league.

The Bucks took exactly zero corner 3s in the first half.

The Pacers have done a tremendous job of taking away critical pieces of the Bucks’ offense and making them do things they’re not as good at.