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Friday
Oct112019

Scoreboard roundup -- 10/10/19

iStock(NEW YORK) -- Here are the scores from Thursday's sports events:

MAJOR LEAGUE BASEBALL

AMERICAN LEAGUE PLAYOFFS

Houston 6, Tampa Bay 1

NATIONAL FOOTBALL LEAGUE
New England 35, NY Giants 14

NATIONAL HOCKEY LEAGUE

Detroit 4, Montreal 2
SO Edmonton 4, New Jersey 3
Pittsburgh 2, Anaheim 1
Tampa Bay 7, Toronto 3
St. Louis 6, Ottawa 4
Nashville 6, Washington 5
Winnipeg 5, Minnesota 2
San Jose 5, Chicago 4
SO Calgary 3, Dallas 2
Colorado 4, Boston 2
Arizona 4, Vegas 1

NATIONAL BASKETBALL ASSOCIATION PRESEASON

Houston 118, Toronto 111
Brooklyn 114, L.A. Lakers 111
Oklahoma City 110, New Zealand 84
Portland 104, Maccabi 68
Sacramento 105, Phoenix 88
Denver 111, L.A. Clippers 91
Golden State 143, Minnesota 123

WOMEN'S NATIONAL BASKETBALL ASSOCIATION PLAYOFFS
Washington 89, Connecticut 78

Copyright © 2019, ABC Audio. All rights reserved.

Thursday
Oct102019

Simone Biles wins her 5th all-around World Championships title 

iStock(NEW YORK) -- American gymnast Simone Biles has made history once again.

The 22-year-old won the individual all-around title at the 22nd World Championships Thursday.

The win is her fifth world all-around title and her 22nd world medal.

Biles scored 58.99 points across the balance beam, floor, vault and uneven bars, beating second-place finisher Tan Xijing of China by 2.1 points. The win broke Biles' own record for women’s record margin of victory.

The next closest Team USA finisher was 16-year-old Sunisa Lee, who finished in eighth place with 55.63 total points.

Earlier this week Biles and Lee helped lead Team USA to its fifth consecutive world championship title -- finishing almost six full points ahead of second-place Russia.

The win gave Biles her 21st world medal and the female record for most world gymnastics championships medals.

The four-time Olympic gold medalist struck not one but two signature moves: the double-double dismount on the balance beam and triple-double on the floor, both of which will be named after Biles.

Both are also performances that the International Gymnast Federation (FIG) even found controversial for the added safety risk.

Before the competition began, controversy ensued when FIG announced that Biles' beam dismount would be valued as an "H," when it had been widely expected that a skill of such difficulty would be valued higher, as an "I" or a "J."

When questioned why FIG decided to give the dismount what was considered to be a lower value, the federation released a statement, essentially calling the skill a safety risk for other gymnasts to attempt.

The backlash from Biles' camp after FIG’s value was announced was swift, with Biles tweeting out that the ruling was "bulls--t." Her coach, Cecile Landi, tweeted the decision was "#totalbs."

USA Gymnastics, the sport’s governing body, also released a statement on Biles’ dismount, saying, "USA Gymnastics respectfully disagrees with the value assigned to the balance beam dismount."

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Thursday
Oct102019

Star tennis player gives up US citizenship for Olympics

Scott Clarke / ESPN Images(NEW YORK) -- Tennis phemon Naomi Osaka will give up her U.S. citizenship to compete for Japan at her Olympic debut in Tokyo.

Osaka, who was born in Japan to a Japanese mother and Haitian father but raised in the U.S., told NHK World in an interview that she began the process of becoming a Japanese citizen.

"It's definitely going to be very special. I think there's no other place that I'd rather play my first Olympics," Osaka told NHK. "I think that will be one of the most memorable things that ever happens to me."

Under Japanese law, after Osaka turns 22 on Oct. 16, she will be required as a dual-nationality citizen to choose one.

 

 

Osaka won the China Open on Sunday and is currently the No. 3-ranked women's singles player in the WTA.

 

 

Osaka notched a historic U.S. Open win against Serena Williams at Flushing Meadows in 2018, which made her the first Japanese player to ever win a Grand Slam title.

Since then, she notched a second Grand Slam title after defeating Petra Kvitova in the 2019 Australian Open, which she called one of the "happiest moments" of her life.

Tennis at the 2020 Summer Olympics will begin July 24, 2020.

Copyright © 2019, ABC Audio. All rights reserved.

Thursday
Oct102019

Scoreboard roundup -- 10/9/19

iStock(NEW YORK) -- Here are the scores from Wednesday's sports events:

MAJOR LEAGUE BASEBALL

NATIONAL LEAGUE PLAYOFFS

St. Louis 13, Atlanta 1
Washington 7, LA Dodgers 3 -- 10 innings

NATIONAL HOCKEY LEAGUE
Buffalo 5, Montreal 4
Philadelphia 4, New Jersey 0
Vancouver 8, Los Angeles 2

Copyright © 2019, ABC Audio. All rights reserved.

Wednesday
Oct092019

NBA events canceled in China as fallout over Hong Kong tweet continues 

iStock(SHANGHAI) -- As the fallout over a since-deleted tweet voicing support for Hong Kong by the general manager of an American basketball team continues in China, several NBA Cares events were abruptly canceled this week in Shanghai.

Meanwhile, the world of esports is navigating a controversy of its own, after a high-profile gamer from Hong Kong was banned from the platform Blizzard for voicing support for protesters in Hong Kong during a post-game interview. In a statement announcing his removal, Blizzard said they were banning player Blitzchung for violating its competition rules by engaging in an act that "offends a portion or group of the public, or otherwise damages Blizzard image."

Both cases have illustrated the difficulty of navigating China's lucrative market.

Before the controversial tweet, the Rockets were one of the most beloved teams in China. On Oct 4., its general manager Daryl Morey tweeted in support of pro-democracy demonstrators in Hong Kong. While the tweet was quickly deleted, the backlash was swift. Within a few days, China's state-run broadcasting network ordered a blackout of NBA coverage. China's internet giant Tencent, which inked a five-year, $1.5 billion deal in August to stream NBA games in China, also announced that they will not play Rockets games.

Morey has apologized, and the Rockets owner Tilman Fertitta said that Morey does not speak for them. Rockets players James Harden and Russell Westbrook apologized at a news conference, with Harden adding, "We love China, we love playing there."

Nonetheless, the fallout from the tweet continues in China. On Wednesday, video spread on social media of an NBA banner being ripped off the side of a building in Shanghai.

The NBA said that it was not its decision to call off Wednesday's NBA Cares event with the Lakers, which was supposed to benefit the Special Olympics. On Tuesday, a separate NBA Cares event with the Brooklyn Nets at a school in Shanghai was also called off by the Chinese government. NBA commissioner Adam Silver said that they would still donate computers to the education center as planned, according to ESPN.

In a statement announcing their decision to suspend plans to broadcast a series of NBA preseason games, China's state-owned broadcasting network CCTV said it is "strongly dissatisfied and opposed" to Silver's "claim to support Morey's free expression of rights."

"We believe that any speech that challenges national sovereignty and social stability is not within the scope of freedom of speech," the statement added. "To this end, CCTV Sports Channel of the Central Radio and Television General Administration decided to immediately suspend the current broadcast arrangements of the NBA preseason [China Games] and immediately investigate all cooperation and exchanges involving the NBA."

As the NBA is still reeling from the fallout, the world of esports was rocked by a separate scandal after a high-profile gamer from Hong Kong spoke out in support of the anti-government demonstrations in an interview -- and then was abruptly banned from the competition.

Ng Wai Chung, known by his gaming handle "Blitzchung," was banned from the platform Blizzard, where he was competing in a Hearthstone tournament, after a post-game interview supporting protesters in Hong Kong. In a statement announcing his removal, Blizzard said they were banning Blitzchung for violating its competition rules by engaging in an act that "offends a portion or group of the public, or otherwise damages Blizzard image."

On Wednesday, #BoycottBlizard was trending on Twitter in the U.S. Chung has not publicly responded to the news, but his Twitter bio was updated to read that he was "banned" as a grandmaster and states: "Fight for Freedom. Stand with Hong Kong."

The move drew bipartisan criticism from lawmakers on Twitter.

“Blizzard shows it is willing to humiliate itself to please the Chinese Communist Party,” Sen. Ron Wyden, D-Ore., said in a tweet. “No American company should censor calls for freedom to make a quick buck.”

Sen. Marco Rubio, R-Fla., shared the Blizzard news on Twitter, writing, “Recognize what’s happening here. People who don’t live in #China must either self-censor or face dismissal & suspensions.”

“China using access to market as leverage to crush free speech globally. Implications of this will be felt long after everyone in U.S. politics today is gone,” he added.

Copyright © 2019, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

Wednesday
Oct092019

NFL player stuns with 1-handed catch at MLB playoff game

Scott Clarke / ESPN Images(TAMPA, Fla.) -- Great catch, wrong sport.

Tampa Bay Buccaneers tight end O.J. Howard flaunted his skills off the gridiron at Tropicana Field during the Tampa Bay Rays' playoff game Tuesday night.

The NFL player stretched out his bare hand and snagged a line drive foul ball to right field during the eighth inning of Game 4 of the ALDS between the Rays and Houston Astros.

The Bucs tweeted a congratulatory message to the Rays who went on to win the game 4-1.

Copyright © 2019, ABC Audio. All rights reserved.

Wednesday
Oct092019

Penn State football coach blasts alumni letter that criticized player's hair

Allen Kee / ESPN Images(UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa.) -- After a Penn State football player received a critical letter from a Nittany Lion alum, the team's coach denounced the remarks and took the opportunity to boast about the player's character as a student, athlete and person.

"Jonathan Sutherland is one of the most respected players in our program," Franklin said at his weekly news conference, according to ESPN. "He's the ultimate example of what our program is all about. He's a captain, he's a dean's list honor student, he's confident, he's articulate, he's intelligent, he's thoughtful, he's caring and he's committed."

Franklin continued, "He's got two of the most supportive parents, and I would be so blessed if my daughters would marry someone with his character and integrity one day."

Sutherland shared a photo on Twitter Tuesday of the letter he received from Dave Petersen, who critiqued his dreadlocks, appearance and demeanor.

In the letter, Petersen wrote, "Though the athletes of today are certainly superior to those in my days; we miss the clean cut young men and women from those days. Watching the Idaho game on TV we couldn't help but notice your -- well -- awful hair."

"Surely there must be mirrors in the locker room! Don't you have parents or [a] girlfriend who've told you those shoulder length dreadlocks look disgusting and are certainly not attractive," the Johnstown, Pennsylvania, resident wrote.

In the same tweet, Sutherland penned his own response to Petersen that took the high road and encouraged others to embrace what makes them different.

"Although the message was indeed rude, ignorant, and judging, I've taken no personal offense to it because personally, I must respect you as a person before I respect your opinion," the sophomore safety said. "At the end of the day without an apology needed, I forgive this individual because I'm nowhere close to being perfect and I expect God to forgive me for all the wrong I've done in my life."

Sutherland, 21, cited Colossians 3:13 -- "Bear with each other and forgive one another if any of you has a grievance against someone" -- to further point to forgiveness and thanked everyone who reached out to show him support.

"Let this be one of the many examples to us that in the year 2019, people of different cultures, religions and ethnicities are still being discriminated against and it needs to stop," he wrote.

One of Sutherland's teammates, C.J. Holmes, 21, shared a photo of the letter and said "these messages cannot be tolerated" calling it "extremely inappropriate, racially biased and selfish."

Since the national public attention and backlash to his letter, Petersen spoke with The Tribune-Democrat and said that a racist message "was not the intent at all."

"I would just like to see the coaches get the guys cleaned up and not looking like Florida State and Miami guys," he told the Tribune-Democrat.

He added that his letter, "wasn't threatening or anything. I was just disgruntled about some of the hairdos that we're seeing. You think of Penn State as a bunch of clean-cut guys. And you do see so many who are clean cut. But the tattoos and the hair -- there are a lot of guys with hair coming down their backs and it just looks awful. And it's the same for the NFL and NBA, too."

The university strongly condemned the letter's message in a reply on Twitter and a university spokesperson told ESPN that school officials stand behind their student-athletes.

"At Penn State we strive to create an atmosphere that promotes inclusivity and respect," the spokesperson said. "The well-being of students, faculty and staff members is the university's priority. As part of this, Penn State provides a range of assistance and resources for students and employees, and we encourage any community member who needs support to reach out."

Copyright © 2019, ABC Audio. All rights reserved.

Wednesday
Oct092019

Simone Biles carries US women's gymnastics team to record-tying fifth world championship

CristiNistor/iStock(NEW YORK) -- If you look up "fierce" in the dictionary, you're likely to find the U.S. women’s gymnastics team. Same goes for five-peat.

For the fifth consecutive time, the team came out on top at the world championships -- finishing almost six full points ahead of second-place Russia.

Despite some setbacks -- like 16-year-old Sunisa Lee’s fall off the balance beam and 16-year-old Grace McCallum’s pirouette error on the uneven bars -- Team USA was led to gold by 22-year-old Simone Biles.

The four-time Olympic gold medalist proved to still be unstoppable with her athleticism and skill.

Over the weekend, Biles stuck not one but two signature jaw-dropping moves: the double-double dismount on the balance beam and triple-double on the floor.

Both are performances that people are still buzzing about and that the International Gymnast Federation even found controversial for the added safety risk.

Nevertheless, the now most-decorated female gymnast in history will have one of the two moves named after her. She holds an astounding 15 world championship gold medals, and 21 world championship medals total.

The fifth consecutive world championship win ties a record set by Romania from 1994 to 2001.

Biles will defend her women’s individual all-around title on Thursday.

And the Tokyo Olympics are now just 10 months away.

Copyright © 2019, ABC Audio. All rights reserved.

Wednesday
Oct092019

Scoreboard roundup -- 10/8/19

iStock(NEW YORK) -- Here are the scores from Tuesday's sports events:

MAJOR LEAGUE BASEBALL

AMERICAN LEAGUE PLAYOFFS

Tampa Bay 4, Houston 1

WOMEN'S NATIONAL BASKETBALL ASSOCIATION PLAYOFFS
Connecticut 90, Washington 86

NATIONAL HOCKEY LEAGUE
Carolina 6, Florida 3
Dallas 4, Washington 3
Anaheim 3, Detroit 1
Nashville 5, San Jose 2
Los Angeles 4, Calgary 3
Boston 4, Vegas 3

Copyright © 2019, ABC Audio. All rights reserved.

Tuesday
Oct082019

China hits NBA with broadcast blackout after Adam Silver discusses Hong Kong controversy

mphillips007/iStock(BEIJING) -- China's state-run broadcasting network ordered a blackout Tuesday of all NBA preseason games set to be played in the country in response to league commissioner Adam Silver voicing support for Houston Rockets general manager Daryl Morey's right to exercise his freedom of expression on the Hong Kong protests.

The apparent retaliatory move by China came in the aftermath of a controversy that erupted over a tweet by Morey last week supporting pro-democracy demonstrations in Hong Kong.

"The long-held values of the NBA are to support freedom of expression, and in this case, Daryl Morey as general manager of the Houston Rockets enjoys that right," Silver said during a news conference in Japan, where the Rockets are scheduled to play two preseason games against the Los Angeles Lakers this week. "I understand there are consequences. We will protect our employees' freedom of speech."

Silver said that while he regrets that Morey's tweet upset the Chinese government and millions of NBA fans in that country, "we are not apologizing for Daryl exercising his freedom of expression."

In an earlier statement, Silver said, "It is inevitable that people around the world -- including from America and China -- will have different viewpoints over different issues. It is not the role of the NBA to adjudicate those differences."

Shortly after Silver's comments, China's state-owned broadcasting network CCTV announced it is immediately suspending plans to broadcast a series of NBA preseason games scheduled to be played in China later this week as part of an effort to use basketball to bridge cultural differences between the United States and China.

"We have noticed that Adam Silver, the NBA president who is participating in the event in Japan, responded to the Houston Rockets general manager Morey's announcement of inappropriate Hong Kong-related remarks," CCTV officials said in a statement. "We [are] strongly dissatisfied and opposed [to] Adam's claim to support Morey's free expression of rights. We believe that any speech that challenges national sovereignty and social stability is not within the scope of freedom of speech.

"To this end, CCTV Sports Channel of the Central Radio and Television General Administration decided to immediately suspend the current broadcast arrangements of the NBA preseason [China Games] and immediately investigate all cooperation and exchanges involving the NBA," the statement said.

The Brooklyn Nets and the Los Angeles Lakers are scheduled to play games this week in Shanghai and Shenzhen, China.

Morey took down a tweet with an image reading, "Fight for Freedom. Stand with Hong Kong," within hours of posting it as caused an outcry from China.

"I did not intend my tweet to cause any offense to Rockets fans and friends of mine in China," Morey said in a subsequent Twitter post. "I was merely voicing one thought, based on one interpretation, of one complicated event. I have had a lot of opportunity since that tweet to hear and consider other perspectives."

On Sunday, China's consulate general in Houston urged the Rockets to "clarify and immediately correct the mistakes" made by Morey.

Morey's tweet prompted an angry response from several Chinese companies that sponsor the Rockets, including sporting goods manufacturer Li-Ning and Shanghai Pudong Development Bank, which both announced they are suspending their relationships with the Rockets.

CCTV and internet giant Tencent -- who inked a five-year, $1.5 billion deal in August to stream NBA games in China -- both said they will not show Rockets games.

Former Rockets' star Yao Ming, the catalyst behind the team's enormous popularity in China and the current president of the Chinese Basketball Association (CBA), announced the CBA would be suspending its relationship with the Rockets.

"For those who question our motivation, this is about far more than growing our business," Silver said in his statement Tuesday.

American basketball has a long history in China, dating back to the 1800s when the game was introduced to the country through the YMCA. The NBA is the No. 1 sports league in China and big business for the league with at least 25 marketing partnerships and 200 NBA stores.

The Nets majority owner, Joe Tsai, the co-founder of Chinese e-commerce giant Alibaba, posted an open letter to NBA fans on Facebook on Sunday expressing his views on the controversy. Tsai wrote that Morey should have understood he was broaching a "third-rail issue" in China with his tweet, but conceded that the NBA executive has a right to "freely express" his opinion.

"The one thing that is terribly misunderstood, and often ignored, by the western press and those critical of China is that 1.4 billion Chinese citizens stand united when it comes to the territorial integrity of China and the country’s sovereignty over her homeland. This issue is non-negotiable," Tsai wrote.

During his news conference, Silver expressed support for Tsai's "right to respond" to Morey's "right to freedom of expression."

"I can tell you, at least speaking for the United States, I think there's far more understanding of the complexity of the issues in Hong Kong than there was heretofore," Silver said. "Sports often serves that purpose that takes people who might not otherwise pay attention to issues in society and ... shines a light on them."

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