Introducing our weekly run through some of the juiciest stories in sports. Let’s get to it.
The basketball world buzzed about whether Lakers superstar Kobe Bryant would play through the high ankle sprain he sustained in a game against the Atlanta Hawks last Wednesday on a play defended by Dahntay Jones. Bryant is known to play through ridiculously painful injuries, so writers and fans alike were skeptical when the Lakers announced him as out indefinitely. True to his history, Bryant attempted to return two days later against Indiana Pacers but only lasted a quarter. However, he didn't play at all on Sunday when the Lakers faced the Sacramento Kings, citing both the flu and the sprain as reasons.
The play where Bryant was injured last week caused a controversy I refer to as #anklegate2013 splitting opinions with some passionately defending Jones' play and others siding with Bryant and scolding him for being dirty. Bryant claimed that Jones intentionally robbed him of space to land. The NBA agreed with Bryant and deemed the play a foul. From my perspective, it was a clear foul because Jones appeared to purposely take a wide stance positioning himself underneath Bryant And sure it might be a tad dirty but it was also a heads up play of sorts and probably rather common. For Jones part, he vehemently denies hurting Bryant on purpose.
In other NBA news, Oklahoma Thunder star Kevin Durant commented on the ridiculous way some tweeters treat athletes. Some of the comments directed at athletes are appalling from death threats to wishing injury on them. It was pretty surprising to see one of the league's premiere players speak up about it. Durant told The Daily Thunder that "People don’t really know how much words can really hurt sometimes, no matter who you are." Durant also said that he sometimes thinks fans look at athletes like "animals" and not the human beings they truly are. Unfortunately, this is a problem without a solution. But just so trolls know, tweets are not hard to track and what folks have posted on twitter has gotten them fired, arrested, and recently, confronted by a boxer!
Moving on to college basketball, the NCAA's March Madness Division 1 men's basketball tournament teams were announced Sunday night. The tournament begins on Tuesday, March 19 and ends on Monday, April 8th. You can check the NCAA's web site see if your alma mater or favorite team made it into the tourney like mine did. Yes, fellow Temple Owls—we're going dancing (again). Maybe this year we'll make a run like old times.
The NFL's free agency period is always a wild and crazy time and this year the drama is already thick. Superbowl champion Baltimore Ravens look to rebuild their team after letting many core players go who contributed to their championship including linebackers Dannell Ellerbe and Paul Kruger. The Ravens most beloved active veteran, Safety and future Hall of Famer Ed Reed, is being called "Django Unsigned" by internet jokesters due to his rugged look and free agent status. Other big moves include the Atlanta Falcons nabbing former St. Louis Rams running back Steven Jackson to bolster their already high powered offense and the New England Patriots letting their most prolific receiver Wes Welker go the Denver Broncos to catch passes from one of the game's most celebrated quarterbacks, Peyton Manning.
The biggest snafu of the NFL offseason thus far involves the Broncos release of three-time Pro Bowler and Defensive End Elvis Dumervil. Dumervil had agreed to take a multi-million dollar pay cut to remain with the team but the paperwork was 7 minutes late triggering the Broncos to release Dumervil in lieu of being bound to his original contract. Can you imagine rushing to a Kinkos to fax paperwork with millions of dollars on the line? Yes, that's what happened with Dumervil. Yes, the NFL is still doing business by fax rather than electronic signature or some other post-1990s technology. Dumervil has since fired his agent with some folks speculating that the agent tried to pull a fast one on the Broncos and intentionally miss the deadline hoping Dumervil would remain on the Broncos books at the original higher contract price.
Finally, in the tennis world, this is the time of year where people start bashing two of the greatest tennis stars ever–Serena and Venus Williams–for not playing at the Indian Wells event. Sports Illustrated published a fabulous piece defending the Williams sisters and their decision never to play there again. The piece lays out the awful experience that caused the Williams sisters to decide never to return. If you remember, it was at Indian Wells where Venus pulled out of a match against her sister and the two were booed and criticized mercilessly. It was clearly very traumatic for both of them. In general, I wish people better understood and were sympathetic to the way the Williams sisters have been treated in their careers. They have faced backlash at every turn many times due to their race but have remained committed to the sport of tennis playing a leading role in the sports' popularity. If they don't want to compete in one of the tour's many events, they should be allowed that no matter the reason.
Did we miss anything? Let us know in the comments!