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Wednesday
Mar202019

Kobe Bryant discusses his new young adult novel, life after winning an Oscar

Eddie Perlas / ESPN Images(NEW YORK) -- Kobe Bryant has conquered the basketball court, and has successfully taken on the film industry by winning the 2018 Oscar for Best Animated Short Film. Now, the MVP has his eyes set on a brand new venture: children's books.

Bryant has released his first book, a young adult novel titled, The Wizenard Series: Training Camp, which follows a group of young male basketball players and their struggling inner-city basketball team.

Kobe tells ABC Radio that the idea for his book came from his love of two things: Harry Potter and basketball.

"We're a big Harry Potter household, but we're also a big sports household," Bryant says. "And there wasn't a story that can combine both of them. That was the original idea behind it."

Although Bryant had award-winning young adult writer Wesley King pen his first project, the former basketball star came up with the characters and its plot. Bryant explains he has an ultimate vision for his new book series.

"This project in particular is something that we believe belongs on the stage," he reveals. "Because of the way it's set... the kind of the arc of the narrative, we believe it has a better presence on the stage. So, we'll see how that goes."

Still, Kobe has his sights set on even bigger projects. However, he knows it's going to be an uphill climb -- even after his Oscar win. The basketball champ says he's not exactly sure what winning an Oscar has done for him beyond giving him some "credibility."

"I'm not just a basketball player trying to dabble into something, but inevitably you still get that a lot," he says. "Like when I say, "OK, I'm coming out with a novel... I kind of get the eye roll a little bit still."

Copyright © 2019, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

Wednesday
Mar202019

Scoreboard roundup -- 3/19/19

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

MAJOR LEAGUE BASEBALL

INTERLEAGUE
Pittsburgh 3, Detroit 1
Chi Cubs 6, Seattle 4
Texas 3, Milwaukee 2
Cincinnati 6, Chi White Sox 5
Kansas City 8, Chi Cubs 6
LA Angels 9, Colorado 7
Cleveland 4, LA Dodgers 2
Philadelphia at Houston 1:05 p.m., canceled

AMERICAN LEAGUE
NY Yankees 6, Tampa Bay 2
Toronto at Boston 1:05 p.m., canceled
Minnesota at Baltimore 1:05 p.m., canceled

NATIONAL LEAGUE
Washington 3, Atlanta 2
San Diego 4, Arizona 3
NY Mets at Miami 1:05 p.m., canceled

NATIONAL BASKETBALL ASSOCIATION
Philadelphia 118, Charlotte 114
Houston 121, Atlanta 105
Milwaukee 115, L.A. Lakers 101
Golden State 117, Minnesota 107
Brooklyn 123, Sacramento 121
L.A. Clippers 115, Indiana 109

NATIONAL HOCKEY LEAGUE
SO Carolina 3, Pittsburgh 2
Montreal 3, Philadelphia 1
Detroit 3, NY Rangers 2
Boston 5, NY Islanders 0
Washington 4, New Jersey 1
Colorado 3, Minnesota 1
St. Louis 7, Edmonton 2
Nashville 3, Toronto 0
Dallas 4, Florida 2
Calgary 4, Columbus 2

NCAA MEN'S BASKETBALL FIRST FOUR

EAST REGION
Belmont 81, Temple 70

WEST REGION
Fairleigh Dickinson 82, Prairie View 76

NIT TOURNAMENT
Colorado 78, Dayton 73
Texas 79, S. Dakota St. 73
UNC-Greensboro 84, Campbell 69
Lipscomb 89, Davidson 81
NC State 84, Hofstra 78
Arkansas 84, Providence 72
Indiana 89, St. Francis (Pa.) 72
Clemson 75, Wright St. 69
Memphis 74, San Diego 60
Creighton 70, Loyola of Chicago 61

CIT TOURNAMENT
OT Robert Morris 98, Cornell 89
Marshall 78, IUPUI 73

CBI TOURNAMENT
Utah Valley 92, CS Northridge 84

Copyright © 2019, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

Tuesday
Mar192019

Deferred prosecution deal offered to New England Patriots owner Robert Kraft in solicitation of prostitution case

Kevin Winter/Getty Images(PALM BEACH, Fla.) -- Robert Kraft, the owner of the Super Bowl champion New England Patriots, is being offered a deferred prosecution agreement in which he would not face prosecution and not be required to plead guilty to any charges surrounding his visits to a Florida spa in January that was under investigation for sex trafficking and prostitution, a prosecutor in the case announced on Tuesday.

Kraft is facing two misdemeanor counts of soliciting prostitution for allegedly visiting the Orchids of Asia Day Spa in Jupiter, Florida on two occasions earlier this year and paying for sexual favors from the massage parlor’s staff.

He is facing a statutory maximum of one year in jail, though prosecutors typically offer first-time offenders deferred prosecution agreements, which gives them the chance to pay a fine and perform community service, while not admitting fault, according to veteran Florida criminal defense attorneys who spoke with ABC News.

The proposed deferred prosecution agreement would require Kraft to admit that he would have been proven guilty at trial, according to the Wall Street Journal, which first reported news of a proposed deal. The newspaper also reported that the proposed deal would include Kraft taking an educational course on prostitution, submitting to screening for sexually transmitted diseases and perform 100 hours of community service.

Palm Beach County State Attorney Dave Aronberg appeared to confirm the outlines of the Journal's account when he tweeted in response to the newspaper's tweet that..."The offer of a deferred prosecution agreement with several conditions to first time offenders is standard in cases like this."

 It was not immediately clear whether Kraft would accept such an offer. None of his three primary defense attorneys immediately responded to a request for comment; nor did Palm Beach County prosecutors. A spokeswoman for the Jupiter Police Department, which conducted the investigation, referred requests for comment to the prosecutor's office.

The Patriots team owner had pleaded not guilty and opted for a non-jury trial, before a judge -- while assembling a powerhouse team of high-profile Florida criminal defense attorneys.

Florida criminal defense attorney Mark O’Mara said that the Kraft deal is best outcome Kraft could hope for short of a dismissal of the charges.

“In a pre-trial diversion, you divert the case away from the criminal justice system into what I’d call a pre-plea probation,” said O’Mara, who won George Zimmerman’s acquittal on murder and manslaughter charges in the fatal 2012 shooting of Trayvon Martin.

This is a variant of a pre-trial diversion. This is … in my opinion, a deferred prosecution agreement is much more informal, more of a letter contract between the prosecution and the defense

“He’s the best deal he can get, but I give kudos to his defense attorneys because they worked out the best deal they could without a complete dismissal. It’s the best of all worlds, because you’re not entering a plea.”

O’Mara said such deals are generally reserved for first-time offenders.

Even with the charges dropped, Kraft could still face discipline from the National Football League (NFL), which has a strict personal conduct policy.

The policy reads, in part, that "[i]t is not enough simply to avoid being found guilty of a crime. We are all held to a higher standard and must conduct ourselves in a way that is responsible, promotes the values of the NFL, and is lawful."

Twenty-five people were charged in the sting at the Jupiter spa, police said. Authorities set up hidden cameras at the spa and, Jupiter Police Detective Andrew Sharp said, there's video evidence of all of the suspects participating in the alleged sexual acts.

Stacey James, a spokeswoman for Kraft, 77, said in a statement at the time that "[w]e categorically deny that Mr. Kraft engaged in any illegal activity. Because it is a judicial matter, we will not be commenting further."

NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell has punished Kraft's Patriots more severely than any other franchise during his tenure, according to ESPN. He fined them $250,000, and coach Bill Belichick $500,000, for spying on an opponent's defensive signals in 2007. He fined the Patriots $1 million, stripped them of two draft choices and suspended quarterback Tom Brady as part of the 2015 "Deflategate" investigation.

News of the charges being dropped came the same day that a coalition of sexual exploitation and sex trafficking survivor networks wrote a letter calling on Goodell to investigate criminal charges against Kraft and if found to be true to strip him of ownership of the Super Bowl champions franchise, according to a letter released by the coalition on Tuesday.

“If the results of [an NFL] investigation show Mr. Kraft to have engaged in the purchase of women for sex, the NFL must banish Mr. Kraft from team ownership because men who purchase others for sex inflict inestimable amounts of human suffering on those they exploit for sex,” the letter reads, which goes on to call for the sports league to “take immediate action, rigorous measures to create a corporate and sport culture that respects others by rejecting all forms of sexual objectification, harassment, assault, and exploitation of women by owners, coaches, players, team personnel, and others associated with the NFL.”

“The prostitution marketplace is the context in which most sexual exploitation and sex trafficking transpire. The prostitution marketplace encompasses any of the various modes by which prostitution is marketed: strip clubs, massage parlors, ‘escort’ services, Internet-based prostitution websites, brothels, as well as pimp-facilitated, street-level prostitution, and pornography (i.e. – prostitution for mass consumption.)”

The coalition, which includes groups like Breaking the Silence Together, Veronica’s Voice, Freedom From Exploitation, Inc., DIGNITY House and the Survivor Leader Network, cite the NFL’s own Personal Conduct Policy, which describes misconduct as “conduct by anyone in the league that is illegal, violent, dangerous, or irresponsibl[y] put innocent victims at risk, damages the reputation of others in the game, or undercuts public support for the NFL.”

The NFL's media representatives did not immediately respond to a request for comment from ABC News.

The allegations against Kraft come three weeks after the Patriots beat the Los Angeles Rams to win the team's sixth Super Bowl title.

This year marks the 25th anniversary of Kraft's then-NFL record $175 million purchase of the Patriots in 1994.

Copyright © 2019, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

Tuesday
Mar192019

Report: Angels, Mike Trout close to finalizing largest deal in sports history

Allen Kee / ESPN Images(LOS ANGELES) -- The Los Angeles Angels and Mike Trout are said to be close to finalizing an extension that would make the center fielder’s contract the largest one in professional sports history.

Sources tell ESPN the deal would be for 12 years and worth more than $430 million.

If the deal is completed, Trout, 27, will get nearly $36 million a year, besting Zack Greinke's yearly average of $34.4 million with the Arizona Diamondbacks.

The total sum of the reported contract is also more than 30 percent larger than Bryce Harper’s $330 million deal with the Philadelphia Phillies and exceeds the contract boxer Canelo Alvarez's has with DAZN by more than $65 million, according to ESPN.

Copyright © 2019, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

Tuesday
Mar192019

Report: Yankees, pitcher Gio Gonzalez agree to deal

Phil Ellsworth / ESPN Images(NEW YORK) -- The New York Yankees and free-agent pitcher Gio Gonzalez have reportedly come to an agreement on a deal.

A source tells ESPN the deal places the left-hander in the Yankees’ farm system but if Gonzalez makes the team’s major league roster, the contract will be worth $3 million for the season, plus incentives.

Per the terms of the deal, Gonzalez can opt out on April 20 if he has not made the Yankees’ roster, the source added.

Gonzalez, 33, was drafted in 2004 and made his MLB debut in 2008. In his 11 seasons in the league, he is 127-97 with a 3.69 ERA and 1,748 strikeouts, playing for the Oakland Athletics, Washington Nationals and, most recently, the Milwaukee Brewers.

Last season with both the Nationals and Brewers, he went 10-11 with a 4.21 ERA and 148 strikeouts.

Copyright © 2019, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

Tuesday
Mar192019

Bengals release linebacker Vontaze Burfict after seven seasons

Allen Kee / ESPN Images(CINCINNATI) -- After seven seasons together, the Cincinnati Bengals are parting ways with linebacker Vontaze Burfict.

The team announced on Monday it has terminated Burfict’s contract and released him to free agency.

"As we continue to build our roster for the 2019 season, we felt it best to give both the team and Vontaze a fresh start,” Bengals head coach Zac Taylor said in a statement. “Vontaze has been a good player here — the team appreciates that, and I know a lot of fans appreciate that — but our focus is on the future. Our goal is to build a successful team for the upcoming season, and we felt that making this change now was best for everyone.”

Burfict, 28, has spent his entire NFL career with Cincinnati, signing with the team in 2012. In his seven seasons in the league, he’s recorded 684 tackles, 8.5 sacks and five interceptions.

But Burfict’s career was also plagued with multiple suspensions, resulting in him missing several games. He was suspended by the NFL at the beginning of the 2016, 2017 and 2018 seasons for various violations.

Copyright © 2019, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

Tuesday
Mar192019

Scoreboard roundup -- 3/18/19

iStock(NEW YORK) -- Here are the scores from Monday’s sports events:

MAJOR LEAGUE BASEBALL

INTERLEAGUE
Pittsburgh 4, Tampa Bay 2
San Diego 3, Cleveland 1
San Francisco 5, Chi White Sox 2
NY Yankees 7, Atlanta 4
Texas 3, LA Dodgers 1

AMERICAN LEAGUE
Minnesota 4, Boston 1
Baltimore 14, Detroit 1
Toronto 3, Detroit 2

NATIONAL LEAGUE

Miami 7, Washington 1
St. Louis 4, Philadelphia 1
Washington 6, NY Mets 5
Colorado 6, Cincinnati 3

NATIONAL BASKETBALL ASSOCIATION
Utah 116, Washington 95
Cleveland 126, Detroit 119
Toronto 128, NY Knicks 92
Denver 114, Boston 105
Miami 116, Oklahoma City 107
San Antonio 111, Golden State 105
OT New Orleans 129, Dallas 125
Chicago 116, Phoenix 101
Portland 106, Indiana 98

NATIONAL HOCKEY LEAGUE
Tampa Bay 4, Arizona 1
OT Vancouver 3, Chicago 2
Vegas 7, San Jose 3
Winnipeg 3, L.A. Kings 2

Copyright © 2019, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

Monday
Mar182019

Haloti Ngata retires 'on top' after 13 seasons in NFL

Mitchell Leff/Getty Images(NEW YORK) -- After 13 seasons in the NFL, defensive tackle Haloti Ngata announced his retirement on Monday -- and he did so on top of the world.

The 35-year-old made the announcement after scaling Mount Kilimanjaro, the world's highest free standing mountain.

“Thank you Lord for letting me play the game I love for 13 unforgettable years,” Ngata wrote in an Instagram post. “I’m retiring on top. I might be finished playing football, but I’m holding tight to the friendships, memories and wisdom I’ve gained along the way.”

Ngata was drafted by the Baltimore Ravens in 2006 and played with the team through 2014. He then joined the Detroit Lions for a few seasons before finishing his career with the Philadelphia Eagles.

During his time in the NFL, Ngata played 180 games, recording 515 tackles and 32.5 sacks. He went to the Pro Bowl five times and won a Super Bowl with the Ravens.

Copyright © 2019, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

Monday
Mar182019

Report: Dolphins, free agent QB Ryan Fitzpatrick agree on deal

Scott Clarke / ESPN Images(MIAMI) -- The Miami Dolphins and former Tampa Bay Buccaneers quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick have come to an agreement on a two-year deal, ESPN reports.

A source tells ESPN the contract is for $11 million but included incentives could boost the worth up to $20 million.

News of the deal comes just days after Miami traded its starting quarterback, Ryan Tannehill, to the Tennessee Titans.

Fitzpatrick, 36, may very well step into Tannehill's role as the two other quarterbacks on the Dolphins' roster -- Jake Rudock and Luke Falk -- have yet to start a game.

Last season, Fitzpatrick had seven starts in eight games with 17 touchdowns and 12 interceptions.

Copyright © 2019, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

Monday
Mar182019

Scoreboard roundup -- 3/17/19

iStock(NEW YORK) -- Here are the scores from Sunday’s sports events:

MAJOR LEAGUE BASEBALL

INTERLEAGUE
Oakland 5, Hokkaido Nippon-Ham Fighters 1
Houston 7, Atlanta 3
Pittsburgh 8, Boston 1
NY Yankees 7 Philadelphia 3
Detroit 3, Atlanta 2
San Francisco 7, Kansas City 2
Texas 7, Arizona 2
Cleveland 9, Cincinnati 9
Arizona 7, Chi White Sox 3
San Diego 6, LA Angels 2

AMERICAN LEAGUE
Boston 3, Tampa Bay 2
NY Yankees 5, Baltimore 3
Toronto 9, Minnesota 8

NATIONAL LEAGUE
Washington 10, NY Mets 5
Miami 4, St. Louis 2
Milwaukee 9, LA Dodgers 8
Colorado 7, Chi Cubs 2

NATIONAL BASKETBALL ASSOCIATION
NY Knicks 124, L.A. Lakers 123
Miami 93, Charlotte 75
Philadelphia 130, Milwaukee 125
Detroit 110, Toronto 107
Sacramento 129, Chicago 102
Orlando 101, Atlanta 91
L.A. Clippers 119, Brooklyn 116
Houston 117, Minnesota 102

NATIONAL HOCKEY LEAGUE
Colorado 3, New Jersey 0
SO Buffalo 4, St. Louis 3
OT N-Y Islanders 3, Minnesota 2
SO Vancouver 3, Dallas 2
OT Philadelphia 2, Pittsburgh 1
Anaheim 3, Florida 2
Vegas 6, Edmonton 3

TOP-25 COLLEGE BASKETBALL
(6) Michigan St. 65, (10) Michigan 60
(22) Auburn 84, (8) Tennessee 64
(24) Cincinnati 69, (11) Houston 57

MAJOR LEAGUE SOCCER

Los Angeles FC 2, New York City 2

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