TIME Basketball

Former NBA All-Star Anthony Mason Is ‘Fighting for His Life’

He suffered a massive heart attack

Correction appended, Feb. 17, 2015

Anthony Mason, a physical NBA power forward from the 1990s, is in critical condition after suffering a massive heart attack.

Retired NBA columnist Peter Vecsey broke the news on Twitter that Mason had undergone multiple surgeries, with one procedure lasting nine hours.

Mason played for six teams over his 13-year career but is probably most famous for his time as a valued role player for the New York Knicks in the mid-1990s. Mason teamed up with Patrick Ewing and Charles Oakley to form one of the most bruising frontcourts in NBA history. The Knicks offered their condolences to the Mason family via Twitter.

Mason was awarded the Sixth Man of the Year honor in 1995, was an NBA All-Star in 2001 and made both the All-NBA Third Team and All-Defensive Second Team in 1997.

Mason’s sons, Anthony Jr. and Antoine, are both pursuing careers in basketball. Anthony Jr. plays professionally in Europe while Antoine plays for the Auburn Tigers, according to Sports Illustrated.

Correction: The original version of this story misstated the timing of Mason’s heart attack. The attack was reported on Wednesday, Feb. 11, but had occurred earlier.

TIME golf

Tiger Woods to Take a Break From Golf

Tiger Woods reacts after playing his shot from the 13th fairway on the north course during the first round of the Farmers Insurance Open at Torrey Pines Golf Course on Feb. 5, 2015 in La Jolla, California.
Donald Miralle—Getty Images Tiger Woods reacts after playing his shot from the 13th fairway on the north course during the first round of the Farmers Insurance Open at Torrey Pines Golf Course on Feb. 5, 2015 in La Jolla, California.

"My play, and scores, are not acceptable for tournament golf."

Tiger Woods will leave professional golf until his game gets better, he announced Wednesday.

“Right now, I need a lot of work on my game, and to still spend time with the people that are important to me,” he wrote on his website. “My play, and scores, are not acceptable for tournament golf. Like I’ve said, I enter a tournament to compete at the highest level, and when I think I’m ready, I’ll be back.”

Woods shot a career-low 82 in Phoenix last week, missing the cut for the Phoenix Open by 12 shots. He then withdrew from Torrey Pines on Feb. 5 because of tightness in his back, prompting speculation that the back surgery he had last spring would hurt his long-term prospects. His current world ranking at 62 is his lowest since he went pro in 1996.

“I’d like to play The Honda Classic — it’s a tournament in my hometown and it’s important to me — but I won’t be there unless my game is tournament-ready. That’s not fair to anyone,” Woods concluded in his statement, setting a tentative goal of returning to the PGA Tour on Feb. 23. “I do, however, expect to be playing again very soon.”

 

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TIME Baseball

Little League Strips Team of U.S. World Series Title

Members of the Jackie Robinson West Little League baseball team participate in a rally in Chicago celebrating the team's U.S. Little League Championship. on Aug. 27, 2014.
Charles Rex Arbogast—AP Members of the Jackie Robinson West Little League baseball team participate in a rally in Chicago celebrating the team's U.S. Little League Championship. on Aug. 27, 2014.

Jackie Robinson West knowingly violated residency rules by using ineligible players

Jackie Robinson West, the United States champion at the 2014 Little League World Series, agreed to vacate its title after knowingly violating residency rules, Little League announced Wednesday.

Mountain Ridge Little League and its team from Las Vegas, Nev., was awarded the 2014 U.S. Little League World Series Championship. Las Vegas officials had said that Jackie Robinson West should be stripped of its title but didn’t ask the organization to the declare its team the champion.

Jackie Robinson West’s manager, Darold Butler, was suspended from Little League activity, and Illinois District 4 Administrator Michael Kelly was removed from his position.

Little League Baseball opened an investigation to determine if the Chicago-based team used players that resided outside of the geographic area that it represents. An investigation showed that the team used an inaccurate boundary map and met with outside neighborhoods and districts in Illinois to recruit players to build a competitive team.

“For more than 75 years, Little League has been an organization where fair play is valued over the importance of wins and losses,” Little League International CEO Stephen D. Keener said in a statement. “This is a heartbreaking decision. What these players accomplished on the field and the memories and lessons they have learned during the Little League World Series tournament is something the kids can be proud of, but it is unfortunate that the actions of adults have led to this outcome.”

Kaiser said the decision to strip Jackie Robinson West of its title “was necessary to maintain the integrity of the Little League program.”

Jackie Robinson West became the first all-African-American squad to win the U.S. title, beating Las Vegas before losing the championship to South Korea.

This article originally appeared on SI.com.

TIME U.K.

Has the Price of English Soccer Just Gone Beyond Crazy?

Arsenal's Mesut Ozil controls the ball during the English Premier League soccer match between Arsenal and Leicester City at the Emirates Stadium in London, Feb. 10, 2015.
Matt Dunham—AP Arsenal's Mesut Ozil controls the ball during the English Premier League soccer match between Arsenal and Leicester City at the Emirates Stadium in London, Feb. 10, 2015.

Media companies may have gone to far in paying $7.85 billion for broadcast rights

It’s become unfashionable in recent years to question the logic of paying astronomical sums for the rights to broadcast English soccer’s top competition, the Barclays Premier League.

But that’s exactly what the stock market is doing today after the eye-popping auction Tuesday for domestic broadcasting rights over the next three seasons, cementing the Premier League’s place as the world’s most valuable sports franchise after the NFL.

Sky Plc and BT Group Plc bid a total of 5.136 billion pounds ($7.85 billion) between them for the rights, an increase of over 70% from the current package that expires at the end of the 2015-2016 season.

For comparison, that’s an average of $2.6 billion a season, compared to $4.44 billion a season under the NFL’s current contract with its network partners, which runs through 2022. The U.K. has less than a quarter of the U.S.’s population and its TV market is worth proportionately even less, so the price implies a much higher price per second of viewer time than for the NFL — and that in a market where consumer incomes are substantially lower than in the U.S.

Ever since Sky first bought the rights for the top flight of English soccer 20 years ago, it has repeatedly dumbfounded critics who said it was overpaying for the franchise. Most of the City analysts who predicted that overspending on soccer would kill it have long disappeared into anonymity.

But that skepticism is back Wednesday, with the City daring again to doubt that the company can recoup its outlay through subscriptions. As in the U.S., disposable incomes have stagnated in Britain since the 2008 crisis, so paying extra to watch the likes of Diego Costa, Wayne Rooney and Co. every week is going to mean doing without other luxuries (like toothpaste and food for the kids). Sky said it “will work hard to minimize the impact of higher rights costs on our customers,” according to the Daily Mail, but the company’s shares fell 5% at the opening and had only recouped 1% by lunchtime in London.

As it has always done in the past, Sky went overboard to defend its dominance, buying five out of the seven packages on offer, the maximum allowed under the auction rules. As a result, it paid 82% more than under the current deal, an average of over 10 million pounds a game (or 1,887 pounds a second, if you prefer). By contrast, BT only raised its average bid by 18%.

In hindsight, it may have been that Sky was bidding only against itself. Going into the auction, there had been speculation that Discovery Channel and Qatar-backed BeIn Sports would also join the fray, but it wasn’t clear Wednesday whether they had actually bid.

The massive increase in bidding is all the more surprising when you consider that it only covers the U.K. market, so Sky and BT have no opportunity to defray the costs on to what is still a very fast-growing international audience.

The Premier League stopped saying five years ago exactly how much it sells its overseas rights for, but they grew from an average of 8 million pounds a season in the first deal in 1992 to 216 million pounds a season for the 2007-2010 deal, a 27-fold increase. For comparison, the price of the domestic rights “only” went up by a factor of 15 in the same period.

TIME Soccer

This Sports League Just Got $7.84 Billion Richer

Arsenal's Chilean striker Alexis Sanchez heads the ball ahead of Leicester City's English defender Paul Konchesky during the English Premier League football match between Arsenal and and Leicester City at the Emirates Stadium in London on Feb. 10, 2015.
Adrian Dennis—AFP/Getty Images Arsenal's Chilean striker Alexis Sanchez heads the ball ahead of Leicester City's English defender Paul Konchesky during the English Premier League football match between Arsenal and and Leicester City at the Emirates Stadium in London on Feb. 10, 2015.

Talk about a windfall

England’s top flight soccer competition, already one of the richest and most-watched sports leagues in the world, is now much richer.

The Premier League — which features global giants of the game Manchester United, Arsenal, Liverpool and Chelsea — has auctioned off broadcast rights to its games for the equivalent of $7.84 billion, the BBC reports.

The coveted TV contract, which fetched the league 71% more revenue than the same deal three years ago, was netted by the same parties that won the previous auction — rival channels Sky Sports and BT. Sky paid for five of the seven viewing packages on offer, shelling out 83% more than its 2012 bid, while BT paid 18% more for the other two.

Besides improving infrastructure, the money from the deal will be used for “youth development and good causes,” said the Premier League’s chief executive Richard Scudamore.

Meanwhile, shares in Manchester United — the world’s second-richest football club — jumped 5% in anticipation of the spike in revenues.

TIME Baseball

Yankees Slugger A-Rod Apologizes for Misconduct

New York Yankees' Alex Rodriguez runs to third base in their MLB American League baseball game against the Boston Red Sox in Boston, Massachusetts, August 18, 2013
Dominick Reuter—Reuters New York Yankees' Alex Rodriguez runs to third base in their MLB baseball game against the Boston Red Sox in Boston on August 18, 2013

"As far as the Yankees are concerned, the next step is to play baseball in spring training"

Alex Rodriguez apologized to New York Yankees top executives on Tuesday, ahead of his return to professional baseball after a yearlong suspension for steroid use.

The strain was created when Rodriguez, widely considered one of the top talents to ever play the game, was suspended for the 2014 Major League Baseball (MLB) season as punishment for his role in the Biogenesis of America steroids scandal that ensnared the MLB in 2013.

In an effort to reverse the suspension, the three-time American League Most Valuable Player sued MLB, its players’ union and a Yankees team physician.

The Yankees and Rodriguez issued a joint statement on Tuesday.

“Alex initiated the meeting and apologized to the organization for his actions over the past several years,” the statement said. “There was an honest and frank discussion on all of the issues. As far as the Yankees are concerned, the next step is to play baseball in spring training.”

Rodriguez, who turns 40 in July, is set to make $61 million over the next three years, thanks to a 10-year $275 million contract he signed in 2007.

According to ESPN sources, Rodriguez will also apologize to the media prior to the start of spring training in late February.

TIME NBA

Spurs’ Gregg Popovich Becomes 9th NBA Coach to Win 1,000 Games

Cory Joseph, Gregg Popovich
David Zalubowski—AP San Antonio Spurs guard Cory Joseph, left, confers with head coach Gregg Popovich while facing the Denver Nuggets in the fourth quarter of an NBA basketball game in Denver on Dec. 14, 2014.

He's only the second, after Jerry Sloan, to reach 1,000 wins with a single franchise

Spurs coach Gregg Popovich won the 1,000th regular-season game of his 19-year career when San Antonio defeated Indiana, 95-93, at Bankers Life Fieldhouse on Monday.

Popovich (1,000-462) becomes just the ninth coach to cross the 1,000 wins threshold, joining Don Nelson (1,335-1,063), Lenny Wilkins (1,332-1,155), Jerry Sloan (1,221-803), Pat Riley (1,210-694), Phil Jackson (1,155-485), George Karl (1,131-756), Larry Brown (1,098-904) and Rick Adelman (1,042-749).

“Not too much celebrating,” Popovich told reporters afterwards. “I’ve been here a long time and I’ve had good players. That’s the formula. Getting the players is difficult, but I’ve been fortunate to have good ones. The time — that’s the most important element. You have to be around for awhile. It’s more a tribute to [the players] obviously than any coaches.”

Only Jackson and Riley reached 1,000 wins faster than Popovich, who needed 1,462 games: Jackson (1,423) and Riley (1,434). The most recent coach to reach 1,000 wins was Adelman in April 2013.

Popovich’s reign of coaching excellence is unmatched when it comes to longevity and consistency. He has served as the head coach of the Spurs since 1996-97, making him the NBA’s longest-tenured active coach, and he joins Utah’s Sloan as the only two coaches to win 1,000 games with a single franchise. From the start of the 1996-97 season through Sunday’s action, the Spurs’ winning percentage of .677 is by far the highest, easily outpacing the Lakers (.621), Mavericks (.597), Heat (.581) and Suns (.569).

All told, Popovich has guided San Antonio to 17 consecutive playoff appearances, 16 50-win seasons, four 60-win seasons, six Finals appearances and five championships (1999, 2003, 2005, 2007, 2014), while taking home three Coach of the Year awards (2003, 2012 and 2014).

The only coach with at least 1,000 wins who has a better career winning percentage than Popovich is Jackson, who coached Michael Jordan’s Bulls and the Shaquille O’Neal/Kobe Bryant Lakers.

The list of notable players who took the court on Popovich’s teams is a long one indeed. In addition to Hall of Famer center David Robinson, Popovich has guided future Hall of Famers Tim Duncan, Manu Ginobili and Tony Parker, and the likes of Sean Elliott, Avery Johnson, Bruce Bowen, Robert Horry and Kawhi Leonard.

Popovich’s influence upon the NBA’s coaching and management ranks is arguably even more impressive. Current coaches with ties to Popovich include Steve Kerr (Warriors), Brett Brown (Sixers), Mike Budenholzer (Hawks), Monty Williams (Pelicans), Quin Snyder (Jazz), and James Borrego (named interim coach by the Magic this week). A list of executives with ties to Popovich includes Kevin Pritchard (Pacers), Danny Ferry (Hawks), Sam Presti (Thunder), Dell Demps (Pelicans), Dennis Lindsey (Jazz) and Rob Hennigan (Magic). Former coaches with ties to Popovich include Mike Brown, Avery Johnson, Vinny Del Negro and Jacque Vaughn.

The 66-year-old Popovich — known for his dry, sarcastic wit and impatience during in-game interviews — began his coaching career as an assistant at the Air Force in 1973. He coached at Division III Pomona-Pitzer college from 1979 until 1987 before joining the Spurs in 1992 as an assistant under Larry Brown.

This article originally appeared on SI.com

TIME Football

Domestic Abuse Charges Dropped Against Carolina Panthers’ Greg Hardy

Greg Hardy of the Carolina Panthers looks out on the field during a game against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers on Sept. 7, 2014 in Tampa, Fla.
Charlotte Observer—Getty Images Greg Hardy of the Carolina Panthers looks out on the field during a game against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers on Sept. 7, 2014 in Tampa, Fla.

The Panthers player was arrested last May and charged with physically assaulting his former girlfriend

Misdemeanor domestic abuse charges were dropped against Carolina Panthers defensive end Greg Hardy after his accuser failed to show up to testify, the Charlotte Observer reports.

The dropped charges come hours before Hardy was to face a trial. The prosecution said that Hardy and his accuser are believed to have reached a civil settlement.

Hardy was arrested last May and charged with physically assaulting his former girlfriend, Nicole Holder. Mecklenburg County district attorney Andrew Murray said that Holder made herself “completely unavailable” and that his office has taken “extraordinary efforts” to locate her.

Hardy was accused of choking Holder and threatening to kill her after he allegedly threw her on to a futon covered with firearms.

Hardy was convicted in a bench trial last year and given a 60-day suspended sentence and probation. That punishment was vacated when Hardy appealed the verdict.

Hardy sat out the final 15 games last season and collected his $13 million salary while on the NFL’s commissioner’s exempt list. He had 15 sacks and 40 tackles for the Panthers in 2013 before the team’s placed the franchise tag on him during the offseason.

Despite Hardy’s charges being dropped, the NFL could still choose to punish him. After news of the charges being dropped, the league issued a statement that said Hardy’s status “remains unchanged until we fully review the matter.”

Hardy, 26, will be a free agent in March.

This article originally appeared on SI.com.

 

 

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