TIME Basketball

Timberwolves Win Draft Lottery, Lakers Move to No. 2

NBA Deputy Commissioner Mark Tatum, left, congratulates Minnesota Timberwolves owner Glen Taylor after the Timberwolves won the first pick in the draft, during the NBA basketball draft lottery, Tuesday, May 19, 2015, in New York.
Julie Jacobson—AP NBA deputy commissioner Mark Tatum, left, congratulates Minnesota Timberwolves owner Glen Taylor after the Timberwolves won the first pick in the draft, during the NBA basketball draft lottery in New York City on May 19, 2015

Kobe Bryant was tweeting his support, sort of

(NEW YORK) — The Minnesota Timberwolves won the NBA draft lottery Tuesday night, the first time since 2004 the team with the worst record won the No. 1 pick.

After years of bad luck in the lottery, things finally worked out for the Wolves, who can perhaps choose between big men Karl-Anthony Towns of Kentucky and Jahlil Okafor of national champion Duke to put next to Rookie of the Year Andrew Wiggins.

“We’re in this for big stakes,” said Flip Saunders, the Wolves’ president and coach. “The big thing about this is getting good talent that can blend together. This is another big step.”

The Los Angeles Lakers moved from the fourth spot to second, keeping a pick they would have sent to Philadelphia if it fell outside the top five. The 76ers are third followed by the New York Knicks, who had the second-best odds of winning but instead fell to fourth 30 years after winning the first draft lottery and drafting Hall of Famer Patrick Ewing.

Not since Orlando won the right to pick Dwight Howard in 2004 had the NBA’s ultimate game of chance came out in favor of the team with the best odds. The Timberwolves had a 25 percent chance of landing the top pick after finishing 16-66.

But their fans knew not to get their hopes up after the Wolves had fallen backward eight times previously, including both times they were in the pole position, 1992 and 2011.

Several hundred fans gathered to watch on the big screen at Target Center in Minneapolis and erupted when the Lakers card came out of the envelope for No. 2, meaning Minnesota had finally earned the top pick for the first time.

“Hope is nice to have,” said Jason Vincent, a fan of the team since 2001.

The Lakers were the other big winners even without moving all the way to the top. Their pick was only protected in the top five as a condition of their trade with Phoenix for Steve Nash in 2012. That was dealt this season to the 76ers, who could have ended up with two top-six picks if the Lakers had fallen backward two spots.

Lakers superstar Kobe Bryant ended his tweet after seeing the results with #lakerluck and #goodday.

The lottery sets the top three picks. The remainder of the 14 non-playoff teams follow in inverse order of their won-loss record.

Things went according to form until the Knicks slid back two spots. General manager Steve Mills hoped history could repeat by wearing Dave DeBusschere’s Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame ring, which DeBusschere was wearing as the Knicks’ GM when they won the 1985 lottery.

The lottery began that year as a way to prevent teams from losing on purpose as a way to secure the top pick. Tanking may still exist — the 76ers have appeared to be angling for the draft with no regard for their record the last couple of seasons — but the Wolves appeared to lose honestly while battling numerous injuries with a young roster.

Their victory, with owner Glen Taylor on stage, was only the fifth time the team that finished with the worst, or tied for the worst record, won the lottery.

The Cleveland Cavaliers had won the last two and three of the previous four lotteries since LeBron James left them for Miami in 2010. But with James back home, the Cavaliers are in the Eastern Conference finals and Miami was in the lottery, and the Heat held in the No. 10 spot where they entered.

The Heat’s pick would have gone to Philadelphia if they fell out of the top 10.

TIME Football

NFL to Move Extra-Point Kick to 15-Yard Line

Matt Prater of the Denver Broncos kicks an extra point in the first quarter against the San Diego Chargers during the AFC Divisional Playoff Game at Sports Authority Field at Mile High on Jan. 12, 2014 in Denver.
Doug Pensinger—Getty Images DENVER, CO - JANUARY 12: Matt Prater #5 of the Denver Broncos kicks an extra point inthe first quarter against the San Diego Chargers during the AFC Divisional Playoff Game at Sports Authority Field at Mile High on January 12, 2014 in Denver, Colorado. (Photo by Doug Pensinger/Getty Images)

Kickers in recent seasons made more than 99% of the kicks with the ball snapped from the 2

(SAN FRANCISCO) — The NFL is moving back extra-point kicks and allowing defenses to score on conversion turnovers.

The owners on Tuesday approved the competition committee’s proposal to snap the ball from the 15-yard line on PATs to make them more challenging. In recent seasons, kickers made more than 99 percent of the kicks with the ball snapped from the 2.

“There was strong sentiment coming out of our meetings in March that something had to be done with our extra point,” said Texans general manager Rick Smith, a member of the competition committee that proposed this specific rule change. “From a kicking perspective the try was over 99 percent (successful), so we tried to add skill to the play.

“It was also a ceremonial play.”

The accepted proposal places the 2-point conversion at the 2, and allows the defense to return a turnover to the other end zone for the two points, similar to the college rule. The defense can also score two points by returning a botched kick.

The change was approved only for 2015, then will be reviewed. But Smith predicts it will become permanent.

“This isn’t an experiment,” Smith added. “This is a rule change. We expect this to be a part of the game.”

The vote was 30-2. Washington and Oakland voted no.

New England and Philadelphia also made suggestions on changing the extra point, but the owners went with the powerful committee’s recommendation.

Officiating chief Dean Blandino said the percentage of kicks made from the 33- or 34-yard line has been around 93 percent. And Troy Vincent, in charge of NFL football operations, noted that placekickers can handle such an alteration.

“The kicker’s a skill position now,” Vincent said. “We’re not trying to take the foot out of the game.”

A major part of the change is the hope more teams will go for two points. In contrast to the traditional extra point kick from short distance, that is an exciting and usually a critical play.

Some teams could look into 2-point specialists; there’s conjecture that Eagles coach Chip Kelly brought in Tim Tebow to potentially fill such a role.

TIME Football

Patriots Will Not Appeal NFL Deflategate Penalties

Bob Kraft Visits FOX Business Network
Slaven Vlasic—Getty Images Bob Kraft, the owner of New England Patriots, the 2015 Super Bowl champions, visits the FOX Business Network at FOX Studios on March 6, 2015 in New York City.

Tom Brady has already appealed separately

(SAN FRANCISCO)—New England Patriots owner Robert Kraft will not appeal the $1 million fine and loss of two draft choices the NFL penalized the team for its role in the use of deflated footballs in the AFC championship game.

Kraft said Tuesday at the owners meetings that he was putting the league before his franchise because “at no time should the agenda of one team outweigh the collective good of the 32.”

The Patriots will lose a first-round draft pick next year and a fourth-rounder in 2017.

“When the discipline came out, I felt it was way over the top,” Kraft said, adding that if he had made his decision last week, it might have been a different one.

But after further consideration, he cited “believing in the strength of the (NFL) partnership and the 32 teams” for dropping any appeal plans.

Kraft also recognized the powers given to Commissioner Roger Goodell.

“I do have respect for the commissioner and believe he is doing what he perceives to be in the best interest of the 32,” Kraft added.

Star quarterback Tom Brady has been suspended for the first four games of the 2015 season by the NFL, and Kraft’s decision not to appeal his team’s punishment does not affect Brady’s appeal, which already has been filed by the players’ union.

Kraft would not take any questions about his decision nor about Brady’s appeal.

TIME Boxing

Fans Across U.S. Sue Pacquiao Over Mayweather Fight

In this May 2, 2015 photo, Manny Pacquiao answers questions during a press conference following his welterweight title fight against Floyd Mayweather Jr. in Las Vegas.
John Locher—AP In this May 2, 2015 photo, Manny Pacquiao answers questions during a press conference following his welterweight title fight against Floyd Mayweather Jr. in Las Vegas.

They contend that the fight was a fraud

(LAS VEGAS)—Boxing fans across the country and their lawyers are calling the hyped-up fight between Manny Pacquiao and Floyd Mayweather Jr. a fraud and want their money back, and then some.

At least 32 class action lawsuits across the country allege Pacquiao should have disclosed a shoulder injury to boxing fans before the fight, which Mayweather won in a unanimous decision after 12 lackluster rounds that most fans thought didn’t live up to the hype.

Fight of the century? More like fraud of the century, the lawsuits contend.

“The fight was not great, not entertaining, not electrifying. It was boring, slow and lackluster,” according to a lawsuit filed in Texas alleging racketeering, a claim usually reserved for organized crime.

A lawsuit filed on behalf of Flights Beer Bar near LAX airport in California said Pacquiao and his promoter’s actions were, “nothing but a cash-grab.” The bar paid $2,600 to broadcast the fight.

As for that grabbed cash, the fighters are each expected to earn more than $100 million, Mayweather more than Pacquiao, and HBO and Showtime broke records raking in more than $400 million from 4.4 million paying to watch the pay-per-view broadcast.

Those 4.4 million paid up to $100 each to watch the fight, and the lawsuits are seeking their money back.

It isn’t as easy as showing a receipt and demanding a refund, though. A federal panel of judges will likely first need to decide if the cases from multiple states and Puerto Rico should be consolidated into one case. From there, a judge would have to decide whether to certify them as class actions or not.

What’s sought in each is the same: a jury trial and at least $5 million in damages, the threshold for federal class actions.

But the defendants differ. All include Pacquiao and his promotions team but some add Mayweather and his representatives along with HBO, Showtime and cable companies.

Representatives for Pacquiao and Top Rank Promotions, HBO and Showtime had no comment to offer on the lawsuits and Mayweather Promotions did not return multiple phone messages.

Exhibit A for most of the lawsuits is a Nevada Athletic Commission medical questionnaire that Pacquiao signed days before the fight. When asked if he had any injuries including to his shoulder he replied “no.”

In fact, his shoulder was injured enough to warrant surgery shortly after the fight.

In a twist reserved for who-done-its, Pacquiao revealed for the first time in a post-fight press conference that he had torn his rotator cuff weeks before. The Nevada Athletic Commission denied him a pain reliever mere hours before the fight when regulators first learned of the injury.

Conspiracy theories abound as to how many people knew about the injury and when, including claims in a few of the lawsuits that Mayweather had a spy in Pacquiao’s camp and the boxer targeted Pacquiao’s right shoulder during the fight.

Experts in resolving legal disputes doubt disgruntled boxing fans will be able to claim victory.

“They’d have more lawsuits if they didn’t hold the fight,” said Maureen Weston, director of Pepperdine University’s entertainment, media and sports dispute resolution project.

If a fight is what fans were paying for, the fighters unquestionably delivered, she said. Just because people didn’t like the show doesn’t mean they get their money back, she said.

Ultimately, the question is, who did Pacquiao have a legal duty to explain his injury to? Weston said.

Short answer: He didn’t have to tell viewers, Weston said. The only contract viewers had was with their cable companies, which in turn had contracts with HBO and Showtime.

It’s not the first time customers have taken their fight to court when things didn’t go quite the way they expected in the field of entertainment.

Remember Milli Vanilli? Music fans in the 1990s argued the lip-synching pop duo owed them a refund once it was revealed they weren’t actually singing.

Or the bite-fight with Mike Tyson? Sports fans may have gotten an earful but they contended they didn’t pay to see a boxing match only for it to be disqualified.

Neither resulted in judgments for refund-seeking customers. Milli Vanilli fans got a buck or two back in a settlement.

So if viewers were promised a fight, and they got a 12-round fight, isn’t that enough?

Lawyer Caleb Marker, who represents clients in two separate class action suits against Pacquiao, says that’s arguable.

TIME mma

Ronda Rousey Says She’d Only Fight Floyd Mayweather ‘if We Were Dating’

Take that Floyd

Undefeated UFC bantamweight champion Ronda Rousey said she’d have no problem taking down controversial boxing icon Floyd Mayweather if push came to shove.

During an interview with Access Hollywood this week, the former Olympian said it’s unlikely the two will ever meet in the ring, before delivering a pop shot at the boxer’s checkered history with domestic violence.

“Well, I would never say that I can’t beat anyone, but I don’t think me and him would ever fight, unless we ended up dating,” said Rousey.

In 2012, Mayweather spent almost three months behind bars after being found guilty of assaulting his ex-girlfriend.

[Access Hollywood]

TIME Qatar

Workers’ Group to FIFA Sponsors: Qatar a Blot on Your Brand

Workers walk back to the Al-Wakra Stadium worksite being built for the 2022 World Cup, in Doha, Qatar, May 4, 2015
Maya Alleruzzo—AP Workers walk back to the al-Wakra Stadium work site being built for the 2022 World Cup in Doha, Qatar, on May 4, 2015

FIFA will host the 2022 World Cup in Qatar, where "slave-like" conditions for workers are reportedly rampant, according to workers' groups

(LONDON) — Advocates for workers’ rights are urging FIFA sponsors to take more responsibility for the treatment of World Cup workers in Qatar, calling the “horrific” working conditions there a blot on any company’s brand.

At a press conference Monday, they singled out FIFA sponsors such as McDonalds, Visa, Coca-Cola, Adidas, Budweiser, Gazprom, KIA and Hyundai, saying they have the power to pressure both FIFA and Qatar into improving the treatment of hundreds of thousands of migrant workers.

Qatar, which FIFA chose to host the 2022 World Cup, has limited sports facilities and is in the middle of a major construction boom.

Sharan Burrow, general secretary of the International Trade Union Confederation, said 1.4 million migrant workers are laboring in Qatar and that number will soon swell to 2.4 million as Qatar builds a deep water port.

Burrow said migrants are packed “8-10-12″ to a room, work in 50 degree Celsius (122 Fahrenheit) temperatures and are unable to leave abusive employers.

“Sponsors know that Qatar is a slave state,” she said. “This is the richest country in the world and they don’t have to work this way … fans don’t want the game to be shamed this way.”

She said the International Olympic Committee had established criteria for human rights standards “(but) FIFA refuses to talk about the issue.”

She urged sponsors and FIFA to press Qatar to establish a minimum wage, allow the migrants freedom of association and stop discrimination in which Nepali workers are paid less.

Stephen Russell, coordinator of the advocacy group Playfair Qatar, likened this campaign to those that pressured clothing companies and electronic retailers to clear up the abuses of workers’ rights in their international supply chains.

“No FIFA president is going to say football is about slavery, discrimination and abuse … but this is what is happening,” he told reporters. “Sponsoring the World Cup with conditions like they are in Qatar makes as much sense as sponsoring an oil slick.”

UK lawmaker Damian Collins said “FIFA continues to draw a blind eye to the horrific conditions in Qatar.”

The BBC on Monday said a reporting crew spent two nights in a Qatari prison after being arrested while trying to meet migrant workers. BBC journalist Mark Lobel was detained with three colleagues ahead of a Qatar-organized tour of official accommodation for low-paid workers. Lobel said they were interrogated and then released without being “accused of anything directly.”

The Qatari government said the BBC crew was trespassing on private property and, in a statement, insisted that conditions for workers in the country had improved.

“We deeply regret that he (Lobel) was unable to report the real story, which is that the government and the private sector are making significant progress in efforts to improve the lives and the labor conditions of guest workers in Qatar,” the statement said. FIFA said it was concerned by any “apparent restriction of press freedom” but said media must gain the necessary permissions to film in World Cup host nations.

Rob Harris in London contributed.

TIME Brain

Concussions Continue to Plague Retired NFL Players

A study shows that a concussion during their playing years may have lasting effects on NFL players’ memory years later

While there may be more questions than answers about how best to protect football players from the effects of concussions, there’s more data suggesting that the negative effects of head injuries can be long lasting.

In the latest report, one of the first to combine both anatomical screening of the brain with performance on standard memory and cognitive tests, researchers found that retired NFL players who suffered a concussion may continue to experience cognitive deficits many years later.

Munro Cullum, a professor of psychiatry and neurology at University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center, and his colleagues report in JAMA Neurology that having a concussion, and in particular losing consciousness after a concussion, can have long-lasting effects on the brain. The team studied 28 former NFL players, all of whom had a history of concussion, who were compared to 21 matched volunteers who did not have a history of concussion. Eight of the retired players were diagnosed with mild cognitive impairment (MCI), which meant they had some deficits in memory but weren’t prevented from living their daily lives by these changes, and they were compared to six participants with MCI who did not have a history of concussion.

MORE: How Concussions Can Lead to Poor Grades

Overall, the retired players performed worse on average on standard tests of memory than health controls, suggesting that their history of concussion affected their memory skills in some way. This was supported by imaging data of the hippocampus, the region in the brain responsible for coordinating memory. On average, the athletes showed smaller hippocampal volumes than the controls. (The scientists did not, however, collect data on the player’s hippocampal volume before the concussion, although the comparison to the non-athletes suggests that the concussions may have influenced shrinkage in this region.) The volumes of retired players who were knocked unconscious after a concussion were even smaller than those of healthy controls, and the same was true for the athletes with MCI when compared to non-athletes with MCI.

“We know that normal aging itself is associated with some declines in both hippocampal volume as well as memory function,” says Cullum, “but it seems that those declines are accentuated when there is a concussion, and when there is a concussion with loss of consciousness.”

MORE: Judge OKs 65-Year Deal Over NFL Concussions That Could Cost $1B

The findings don’t address another big question in the field, which is how best to treat people who have had a concussion. The data is conflicting on how much rest following a head injury is ideal; most experts recommend a day or two and then gradual return to normal activities, with a break if symptoms like headaches and dizziness return.

While Cullum says that most patients with concussions recover completely within weeks of the injury, football players may be at increased risk of longer lasting cognitive deficits because of their repeated exposure to the danger. And that risk increases if they lose consciousness following a concussion. Documenting concussions and any blacking out afterward is critical for helping future physicians to manage the care of someone with such head injuries, he says.

TIME Extreme Sports

Deaths of Dean Potter, Graham Hunt Leave Climbing Community Reeling

"I definitely felt Dean was invincible"

The death of rock climbing visionary Dean Potter, considered to be one of the most influential outdoor athletes of his generation, during a wingsuit BASE jump Saturday has sent shockwaves through the extreme sports world.

The 43-year-old and his fellow climber Graham Hunt, 29, died from impact after failing to clear granite cliffs off Taft Point in California’s Yosemite National Park, which can be seen across the valley from the infamous “El Capitan” rock formation. Rescuers said neither jumper’s parachutes deployed, according the to Associated Press.

“We as climbers are really good at justifying what we do. And those of us who push the safety aspect convince themselves that they are invincible,” said climbing contemporary Tommy Caldwell, who in January made the first ever free ascent of the Dawn Wall on Yosemite’s El Capitan. “I definitely felt Dean was invincible and when something like this happens I get shattered and it makes me very introspective and makes us pause and take a reality check.”

Caldwell described Potter, a childhood acquaintance who was awarded the 2009 National Geographic Adventurer of the Year, as “a total larger than life person in terms of the amount of emotion in him. He believed anything was possible and the times climbing with him were some of the most high-energy times of my life.”

Potter was renowned for pushing the limits of extreme sports. He slacklined over deadly precipices and climbed thousand-foot cliffs with no ropes and then BASE jumped from the top. Recently, he became a hit on YouTube for BASE jumping with his dog.

In 2006, Potter courted controversy by climbing Delicate Arch in Arches National Park, which was not illegal but drew rebukes as the rock is considered especially fragile.

On Sunday, the climbing, mountaineering and extreme outdoor sports community, including free-soloing star Alex Honnold, took to Twitter to pay tribute to a lost icon.

TIME Boxing

See Mitt Romney Throw a Punch in Holyfield Boxing Match

Mitt Romney fought boxing champ Evander Holyfield in a charity boxing match

TIME Boxing

Watch Mitt Romney Fight Boxing Champion Evander Holyfield

Romney threw in the towel after two short rounds

(SALT LAKE CITY)—Former Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney and five-time heavyweight boxing champion Evander Holyfield squared off in the ring at a charity fight night event in Salt Lake City.

Romney, 68, and Holyfield, 52, sparred, if you could call it that, for just two short rounds Friday before Romney ran away from the boxer and threw in the towel, giving up a round early in the lighthearted fight that came amid several other fights by professional boxers and an auction.

The two barely threw any punches and largely just danced around, occasionally lightly jabbing each other in the midsection in what was much more of a comedic event than an actual bout.

The black-tie affair raised money for the Utah-based organization CharityVision, which helps doctors in developing countries perform surgeries to restore vision in people with curable blindness.

Romney’s son Josh Romney, who lives in Utah, serves as a volunteer president for CharityVision.

Corporate sponsorships for the event ranged from $25,000 to $250,000. Organizers say they raised at least $1 million.

“He said, ‘You know what? You float like a bee and sting like a butterfly,'” Romney said after the fight.

Attendees just enjoyed the festive atmosphere and the chance to see Romney in the ring.

“Oh, it was great. I was very proud of Mitt,” said Katie Anderson, who attended the event with her husband.

“I was happy it went to the second round,” Devin Anderson said.

Romney, the most-high profile Mormon in America, is hugely popular in the state, where more than 60 percent of the residents are members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.

Beyond his religious connections, the former Massachusetts governor is remembered by many for turning around Salt Lake City’s 2002 Winter Olympics after a bribery scandal.

Romney has recently built a home in the Salt Lake City area and registered as a Utah voter.

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