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The protracted battle between Marvell Wynne and MLS that led to the end of his career


The MLS veteran and former U.S. international announced his retirement from the game in a Twitter post back on April 20. It wasn’t aging legs or a decline in ability that ended his career, but rather a heart defect that despite being corrected by surgery, resulted in him not being cleared to play.

“It’s not really the way I wanted to go out after being in the league for 13 years, but I guess my hand was kind of forced,” said Wynne via telephone. “I didn’t really have an option, to be honest.”

Before the start of the 2017 season, Wynne signed a new two-year deal with the San Jose Earthquakes that would have earned him $257,000 a year. But during the preseason physical, Wynne was diagnosed with an enlarged aortic root, the section of the aorta closest to and attached to the heart, consisting of the aortic valve and the openings for the coronary arteries. The typical diameter of an aortic root is 2 to 3 centimeters, while Wynne’s was between 4.4 and 4.8 centimeters. Surgery is usually recommended only if the diameter exceeds 5 centimeters, but Wynne was told by his doctors that the rigors of playing professional soccer necessitated having surgery if he wanted to continue playing.cheap official nike nfl jerseys

Wynne opted for surgery, a nine-hour operation that took place on March 24, 2017, at Stanford Medical Center. Wynne recalled that the surgeon, Dr. Craig Miller, discovered in the operation that the walls of Wynne’s aortic root were thinner than normal, like a water balloon filled with too much water.

“I was actually at high risk for a rupture because they couldn’t tell the actual thickness of my aorta,” said Wynne.7

Wynne is not the first professional athlete Dr. Miller has operated on. In 2005, Dr. Miller performed a similar operation on now-former NBA player Ronny Turiaf. Turiaf not only recovered, but he went on to play eight seasons in the NBA. Granted, the sports are different, but both involved a certain level of physicality as well as aerobic intensity. Dr. Miller also performed a similar operation on an F-18 Navy fighter pilot who was able to regain his flight status in spite of sustaining considerable G-forces on his chest.nfl nike jerseys cheap china

The surgery was a success, but Wynne’s future as a professional soccer player was still unclear. His agent and the MLS Players Association asked that Wynne’s future be assessed post-surgery, and the league agreed. In the interim, MLS continued paying Wynne, although it was under no obligation to do so, considering he officially failed the entrance physical.

Wynne was keen to get back on the field as soon as possible, and he was cleared by both Dr. Miller and his cardiologist, Dr. David Liang, to begin ramping up his workouts.

To that end, Wynne was seen by MLS’ cardiologist, Dr. Matthew Martinez, in mid-June. In an undated letter obtained by ESPN FC that Dr. Martinez sent to Wynne, he indicated that Wynne “was doing well at that time and his CT indicated the repair of his ascending aorta was stable without complications.”

This was supposed to be Bryce Harper’s All-Star Game


It was the Sunday before the Sunday before the All-Star Game, and the Washington Nationals were holding a news conference. On a podium deep within the bowels of Nationals Park, the three players who were voted into the Midsummer Classic sat behind a long table and fielded questions from reporters.

On the right was Max Scherzer, the two-time defending Cy Young winner whose dominant first half makes him a favorite to be the starting pitcher for the National League in front of his hometown fans. On the left was Sean Doolittle, the bearded southpaw who hasn’t walked anybody in three months and has been as good as any closer in the game. In between Scherzer and Doolittle, in the chair that was literally the center of attention, sat Bryce Harper.

Given the year that Harper is having so far, he had no earthly business being the man in the middle. Relative to Scherzer and Doolittle, he is Washington’s least deserving All-Star, and it’s not particularly close. nfl nike jerseys for cheap Yet there he sat, the clear focal point in a roomful of lenses and microphones and eyeballs. This was, after all, supposed to be Bryce Harper’s All-Star Game.

He’s also making himself a lot of outs. Even though averages across the league are down thanks to a variety of reasons (homer-happy hitters, shift-happy defenses, velo-happy hurlers), Harper’s average has plummeted to unforeseeable depths. At the time the All-Star results were announced Sunday, his .218 average ranked 78th out of 81 qualified National Leaguers. He led the National League in walks and was third in homers, but he was on pace for 164 strikeouts, a number that would shatter his previous career high. It was a startling downturn for a superstar who hit .319 last year, before an August knee injury derailed an outstanding season that had thrust him firmly into the MVP conversation again. Unlike in 2016, when reports of a lingering shoulder issue surfaced and perhaps helped explain why he struggled to repeat his historic 2015 performance, Harper seems physically whole this season. As for the psychological piece, that’s not so clear.
On the surface, Harper appears to be holding it together. Despite suffering through a massive slump that started in mid-April and only recently showed signs of letting up, he has been cordial when talking to members of the media. He has been atypically restrained toward umpires and has yet to be tossed from a game, a sign of maturity that, if it holds, would result in his first ejection-free season since 2014. Said hitting coach Kevin Long: “He’s really in a good frame of mind.” That isn’t to say the slump hasn’t taken its toll.

“Is he frustrated? Sure,” Long said. “Does he want to do better? Sure. Is this pissing him off a little bit? Yeah. What human being wouldn’t it? This is what you do for a living, and you’re arguably the best hitter on the planet.“cheap nfl jerseys china nike

Over the past few months, however, it seems as though what Harper cares most about is being the best home run hitter on the planet.

Before a May contest against the Pirates, the Nats slugger took early batting practice, then proceeded to go deep for the first time in more than two weeks. Afterward, when asked what the purpose of his early BP session was, Harper said: “Just hit some homers … I was trying to hit the ball as far as I could.” A few days later, following a two-jack game against the Phillies that included a 473-foot bomb to dead center, he weighed in with, “It’s not how far. It’s how many.” Over Memorial Day weekend, when he went yard against Miami but finished the series with a then season-low .230 average, he rationalized it like this: “If I hit .230, and I hit 40, I’ll take it any day of the week.”

Trae Young finding success, but not with his long-range shooting


Trae Young’s first five games of summer play have raised an intriguing possibility: What if the No. 5 pick in this year’s NBA draft is better as a passer than a shooter?

Yes, Young led the NCAA in both scoring and assists during his lone season at Oklahoma. However, it was his 30-foot 3s off the dribble that caught the nation’s attention more so than Young’s work distributing to an unheralded set of Sooners teammates. So it has been somewhat surprising that Young has found far more success as a playmaker than a scorer so far in the NBA, first at the Utah Jazz Summer League and now at the NBA Summer League in Las Vegas.nfl nike jerseys cheap china

During Saturday’s 21-point effort against the New York Knicks, his highest-scoring game this summer, Young finally saw a few of those long 3s off the dribble go down. For the most part, they haven’t fallen — or sometimes haven’t even caught rim. Young has shot 6-of-35 (17 percent) on 3s in this span, most of them long and heavily contested.

As I noted in last summer’s study on the meaning of summer-league stats, shooting percentages have little if any predictive power when it comes to how players will perform the following regular season. The samples are simply too small. However, the quality of the shots Young is taking hasn’t been any better than the results, suggesting his low-percentage shooting is more than just a fluke.8

The same has been true for Young inside the arc, where he has been only slightly more accurate (10-of-31, 32 percent). At 6-foot-2, Young always has to finish over bigger defenders in the paint, and he struggled in that regard even against college opposition. Young’s 53.5 percent shooting on attempts at the rim was lowest among NCAA players drafted in this year’s first round, per Hoop-Math.com research.

While Young made an impressive reverse finish headed away from the basket in Utah, for the most part he hasn’t even tried to challenge rim protectors. Instead, Young has turned to a low-percentage floater that he will need to improve dramatically to have any chance of shooting a decent percentage on 2-point tries early in his career.

A fast break during the final minute of Saturday’s game was illustrative of Young’s limitations and how he can work around them. With the Hawks trailing 85-80, Young forced a turnover near midcourt and headed toward the basket with a defender charging after him. Instead of attempting the layup, Young dropped a pass off to teammate Antonius Cleveland for a dunk.

Young has managed to draw enough defensive attention out of the pick-and-roll to set up teammates for open looks on a regular basis, displaying excellent court vision. He averaged 6.0 assists in his four full games, including 11 against the Knicks, and easily could have had more with better shooters around him. (Whether Atlanta’s real roster will provide better shooting remains open for debate.)cheap nike nfl jerseys from china

In the first half of Sunday’s game against the Portland Trail Blazers, before he was shut down for precautionary reasons because of a quad contusion, Young focused largely on playmaking. Hounded by bigger defender Wade Baldwin, Young attempted only two shots and handed out three assists in the nine minutes he played.

Donald’s status, Cooks-Goff connection headline Rams’ minicamp


Aaron Donald did not attend any portion of the Rams’ nine-week voluntary offseason program, including organized team activities, because of a contract dispute, and coach Sean McVay said he was uncertain if Donald would report for mandatory minicamp without a contract resolution.cheap nfl nike jerseys from china

Donald is scheduled to earn $6.9 million in the final season of his five-year rookie deal and is seeking to become the highest-paid defensive player in the NFL, if not among the highest-paid players in the league.

Last year, Donald stayed away from the offseason program but reported to minicamp to avoid a fine — though he did not participate in drills. Donald then held out of training camp before arriving at the team facility a day before the regular-season opener, without a new deal.41

After sitting out the first game, he went on to help the Rams to an NFC West Division title and their first playoff appearance since 2004. He had 11 sacks, forced five fumbles and was named the NFL Defensive Player of the Year.

Jared Goff is working on his connection with receiver Brandin Cooks, who was acquired in an offseason trade with the New England Patriots.

Cooks replaces Sammy Watkins, who signed with the Kansas City Chiefs in free agency. Watkins is the only offensive starter who will not return from last season’s top-scoring team.

Cooks is expected to develop into a deep threat for Goff, and the two displayed as much on Day 1 of OTAs, when Cooks caught a deep pass in stride for a touchdown.nike nfl jerseys wholesale cheap

McVay said it was a bonus that Cooks, who caught 65 passes for 1,082 yards and seven touchdowns last season, has been available to participate in the offseason program and develop a rapport with Goff.

Last year, Watkins did not arrive until the second week of training camp and struggled to develop a reliable connection on deep passes.

Steven Adams blames ‘fat fingers’ for ‘like’ of Melo barb on Instagram


A “like” by Oklahoma City Thunder center Steven Adams on a comment on an Instagram post critical of Carmelo Anthony is said to have been an accident, a team spokesman told ESPN.

On a post featuring four Thunder players — Adams, Anthony, Russell Westbrook and Paul George — with the caption “Who’s more valuable to OKC?” Adams liked a comment that said “All of them except Melo.”19

Adams contacted Thunder PR early Monday morning from New Zealand to make them aware of the situation, saying it was an accident made while scrolling through his feed, blaming his “fat fingers.”discount authentic nfl jerseys

Anthony, who just turned 34 a few days ago, has a $27.9 million player option to remain with the Thunder that he can either pick up or reject by June 29. Anthony was inconsistent in adapting to a new role with the Thunder in 2017-18, scoring a career-low 16.2 points per game on a career-low 40.4 field goal percentage. Following the season, Anthony expressed frustration with his role, seemingly setting the table for an exit from OKC.

“I think everybody knows that I’ve sacrificed kind of damn near everything — family, moving here by myself, sacrificed my game for the sake of the team, and was willing to sacrifice anything and everything in order for this situation to work out,” Anthony said of his season with the Thunder. “So it’s something I really have to think about, if I really want to be this type of player, finish out my career as this type of player, knowing that I have so much left in the tank and I bring so much to the game of basketball.”kids nfl jerseys cheap

Tom Brady’s back, building connections a bit later than normal


When wide receiver Jordan Matthews was deciding among free-agent offers in March, there was a significant factor that tipped the scales in favor of the New England Patriots.

His name is Tom Brady.

The chance to catch passes from and develop a rapport with Brady was one of the driving forces behind Matthews’ accepting a modest one-year deal with New England that he could have trumped elsewhere.nfl nike jerseys cheap china

Fellow receiver Kenny Britt has a similar story. When he was released by the Cleveland Browns in December, he had a chance to earn a larger paycheck elsewhere, but he elected to come to New England on a two-year deal. One of the big factors in his decision was the chance to play with Brady.

Britt got a brief taste in December, but the target was always 2018 to make what he hopes will be a fruitful connection. In past years, that usually meant the start of the voluntary offseason program in April, but this year is different and highlights why Brady’s presence at June’s mandatory minicamp Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday is particularly significant.

It’s all about connection.8

Brady and Julian Edelman will be fine. Ditto for Brady and Rob Gronkowski. But for pretty much everyone else, these past seven weeks are usually when Brady gets a good feel for players he hasn’t worked with as much and shares with them what he expects. This year, that includes Matthews, Britt, Cordarrelle Patterson, Phillip Dorsett (he arrived in September after the offseason/training camp) and first-round draft picks Isaiah Wynn and Sony Michel, among others.

As Brady has noted, this time sets the stage for training camp, and if a team has a productive camp, that often means a good start to the regular season. There is a trickle-down effect, and that means Brady and the Patriots have some catch-up work to do on the field. It starts Tuesday at mandatory minicamp.cheap nike nfl jerseys from china

As for the connection off the field, which can be equally important, Brady and his teammates reported to Gillette Stadium on Monday for the team’s “Fantasy Camp,” which is the signature event of the year for the Patriots’ charitable foundation. Fans pay a significant amount of money, with all proceeds going to the team’s foundation, to experience a day in the life of the players.

On a rainy Monday, Brady took the field at the team’s indoor facility in his blue Patriots jersey, and those fans who might have been forecasting the worst — that Brady might stay away from mandatory responsibilities because there was more to his absence than family considerations — could exhale.

Boston Celtics fall short, but are poised to take advantage of good problems


Go ahead. Comfort the Boston Celtics in soothing, dulcet tones that there’s no shame in losing to LeBron James: the greatest player in the game, a mammoth icon who played 48 minutes and demoralized his old familiar playoff foe in every possible way imaginable. Dagger 3-pointers, vicious defense, superb court vision and, above all, a Hall of Fame swagger that nobody else on the court — or perhaps this earth — could begin to duplicate.

Feel free to remind the Celtics that nobody — absolutely nobody — expected them to advance to the Eastern Conference finals with a roster decimated from the outset because of crippling injuries to Gordon Hayward, then Kyrie Irving, then Daniel Theis, then Shane Larkin.nfl wholesale jerseys

It’s all true, of course, but don’t expect them to endorse a lick of it. The Sons of Brad Stevens, even in the wake of a crushing Game 7 loss in their own building, the only one of its so-called improbable playoff run, stomped out of TD Garden believing this was a game they should have won, even after shooting 34 percent for the game and an unfathomable 17.9 percent (7-of-39) from behind the 3-point line.331

They will wake up Monday morning fervently arguing that they belonged on this grand stage, not as underdogs but as legitimate contenders.

“None of this was ever improbable to us,” Marcus Morris said. “Like I said from the beginning, once I saw the draw for the playoffs, I expected us to be in the position we were in right now.

“But we take our hats off to Cleveland. They came back from a 2-0 [series] deficit. They had LeBron. We missed shots we normally make.”

Oh, those missed shots. Where do we start? There were so, so many of them. There was Terry Rozier, who missed 12 of his 14 offerings, including an 0-for-10 goose egg from behind the 3-point line. Just two nights earlier in Cleveland, in a far more hostile environment, Rozier torched the Cleveland Cavaliers for 28 points on 6-of-10 shooting from behind the 3-point arc.

“It’s a bitter pill to swallow,” said a visibly shaken Rozier in the quiet of the losers’ locker room.official nfl jerseys cheap

Later, when approached by ESPN in the hallway, Rozier was asked about the notion that this game was too overwhelming for a roster that averages 25.6 years old, which would have been the second youngest since the shot clock era had it advanced to the NBA Finals.

Rally is a state of mind as Rockets secure Game 4 win in Oracle


It’s all such a blur, the man who assembled these Houston Rockets couldn’t remember exactly what sent him out of Oracle Arena on Tuesday night for some air.

“I’m not doing very well right now,” Rockets general manager Daryl Morey said.authentic cheap nfl jerseys

Fifteen minutes had passed since the Rockets had rallied from a 10-point fourth-quarter deficit to beat the defending champion Golden State Warriors 95-92 to even the Western Conference finals at 2-2. Morey’s face looked pale. His cheeks were flush. Thoughts and words were hard to string together after such an intense game.

“I ended up walking outside. I couldn’t take it,” Morey said. His wife, Ellen, stayed inside to watch the end of the game and text him with updates.258

Morey is always a wreck during games, but this was another level. This 65-win team might be the best he has ever assembled, and a loss Tuesday could’ve been catastrophic.

Instead, Chris Paul, the point guard who’d come to Houston with the hopes of vanquishing his playoff demons, rallied his team in the fourth quarter to save the Rockets’ season. He scored eight of his 27 points in the fourth quarter, shrugging off a painful right foot injury that has hampered his mobility all series.

“He gave us everything you can have against these guys,” Morey said of Paul, who opted to forgo free agency and a new multiyear contract to play out the final year of the deal alongside James Harden in Houston. “Man, he was so good.”

Harden and Paul teamed up to form a historically good offense this season, but won this game with an epic fourth-quarter defensive stand. The Rockets held the Warriors to only three field goals and 12 points in the final frame.nfl jerseys authentic cheap

Golden State led 80-70 after a 34-point third quarter. Stephen Curry had another 17-point explosion and it seemed as if the Warriors were about to coast to a commanding 3-1 series lead. The defending champions had won an NBA record 16 straight playoff games at home. They had won 39 of the 40 games this season in which they led by 10 or more points entering the fourth quarter.

The one game lost? Opening night, when the Rockets rallied from a 13-point deficit, a notice that they were a team to be reckoned with.

Houston didn’t just add Paul in the offseason, it added stout defensive players like PJ Tucker and Luc Mbah a Moute. This science experiment of putting two future Hall of Fame point guards together in the same backcourt wasn’t just about offensive potency, it was about building a defense that could match the Warriors’ four All-Stars by switching everything and negating Golden State’s deadly pick-and-roll game.

LeBron James seeks fifth MVP award; James Harden, Anthony Davis eye first


In the Rookie of the Year group, Simmons and Mitchell both shined on the court this season. Simmons, who missed his first season in the NBA with a foot injury, had 12 triple-doubles this season and ranked fourth in assists per game (8.2). He helped lead Philadelphia to 52 regular-season wins, the third-best record in the Eastern Conference.

Mitchell averaged 20.5 points and helped Utah win a surprising 48 regular-season games.nfl replica jerseys wholesale

Tatum is the only rookie whose team is still alive in the postseason. However, his playoff stats aren’t a factor for the award.

Among coaches, Casey helped build a strong bench unit in Toronto and changed the club’s offensive approach en route to an Eastern Conference-leading 59 wins. He was fired after James and the Cavaliers swept the Raptors in the second round of the playoffs. Stevens navigated injuries to several key Celtics, including Kyrie Irving and Gordon Hayward, who was lost for the season on opening night due to a leg injury. Snyder helped the upstart Jazz finish fifth in the Western Conference after a subpar start. Houston’s Mike D’Antoni won the award last season.215

Gobert’s DPOY candidacy comes despite his missing significant time due to a left knee injury. He averaged 10.7 rebounds and 2.3 blocks per game and was the linchpin to Utah’s stifling defense when healthy. He will have competition from Philadelphia’s Embiid (11.0 rebounds, 1.8 blocks) and New Orleans’ Davis (11.1 rebounds, 2.6 blocks). Golden State’s Draymond Green won the award last season.

Oladipo’s bid for most improved player follows a fantastic season with the Pacers. Oklahoma City dealt him to Indiana as part of the Paul George trade, and Oladipo thrived in the new environment, averaging 23.1 points, 5.2 rebounds and 4.3 assists for a surprising Indiana team. He improved his scoring by seven points per game. Capela also presented a strong case after averaging 13.9 points, 10.8 rebounds and 1.9 blocks per game for Houston and its much-improved defense. Dinwiddie averaged career highs of 12.6 points and 6.6 assists for Brooklyn. Milwaukee’s Giannis Antetokounmpo won the award last season.

In the sixth man award vote, Williams is considered a favorite among the group after posting 22.6 points and 5.3 assists per game for the Clippers. Gordon, who won the award last season, averaged 18 points per game in the regular season. Toronto’s VanVleet was integral to the Raptors’ success, averaging 8.6 points and 2.3 rebounds off the bench.

Gordon is looking to join Williams in being a repeat winner. If Gordon were to win, he would be the first back-to-back winner of the award since Detlef Schrempf, who won in the 1990-91 and 1991-92 seasons for the Pacers.cheap nfl jerseys from china nike

Other season-ending awards given out on June 25 will include executive of the year, sportsmanship award, lifetime achievement award, teammate of the year and a community service award.

Derrius Guice all smiles, a ‘ball of energy’ in rookie minicamp


The smile showed up whenever he answered a question. Or when he bounded onto the field. Or when he ran off the field. Derrius Guice was happy — to be in Washington, to worry only about football and not school, to impress his new coaches.

And, for now at least, he’s not worried that he was the seventh running back selected in the draft. Maybe he’ll renew that slight for fuel during the season. After the draft, he said the Redskins “definitely got a steal.”nfl jersey cheap wholesale china

“I’m not worried about the other running backs,” Guice said. “They’ll do great things there. I’m just worried about me and my organization … it really don’t matter. It’s one of those things you can’t control. All I can do is control what I do for this organization.”200

His stance might change during the season. After all, he likes to run angry and a player who some viewed as a first-round talent only to fall to late in the second round will have plenty of motivation. Former Redskins running back Clinton Portis, who once endured a similar stumble, said he ran angry for his first five years.

For now, it’s all about learning the plays and getting acclimated to a new city. Guice provides hope for a Redskins run game that hasn’t had a 1,000-yard runner since Alfred Morris in 2014. Nobody topped 751 yards last season. And they haven’t had anyone with Guice’s potential since Portis, who retired after the 2010 season.

But it was hard to miss Guice’s smile, mainly because it was omnipresent. He called it a dream come true being on the field. He said the most fun part was just running with a football and not training for drills he wouldn’t have to worry about again, like the 10-yard shuttle run.cheap nfl jersey wholesale

“Just football all day,” he said. “That’s the best part about being a pro, you don’t have to worry about X, Y or Z or other things to worry about. Just learning these plays and putting it to the test.”

Guice will be part of a backfield that also includes third-down back Chris Thompson. Samaje Perine, a fourth-round pick last year, likely will be part of that group, too. After that, it’s uncertain who will be part of this unit — whether Rob Kelley or one of a handful of options.