From Kobe to Maradona, a year of staggering losses in sports
Not long after came a seismic jolt, the helicopter crash of Kobe Bryant in the fog-shrouded California hills that reverberated across sports and across continents. Deep into the year, a bookend to Bryant, Diego Maradona died from a heart attack in Argentina weeks after brain surgery, the waves of grief rippling across soccer. The losses, of course, came against a backdrop of a pandemic, its number of fatalities rolled out daily on TV screens. Niekro won 318 games and pitched until he was 48, his knuckleball dancing and mystifying batters across the decades. Kurt Thomas in 1978 became the first U.S. male gymnast to win a world title but lost an Olympic shot in 1980 because of the boycott.
Boston Celtics Hall of Famer K.C. Jones dies at 88
FILE - In this Jan. 15, 1988, file photo, former Boston Celtics teammates Bill Russell, Sacramento Kings coach, left, and K.C. Jones, Celtics coach, meet before the start of the Kings-Celtics NBA basketball game at the Boston Garden in Boston. Only Russell and fellow Celtics teammate Sam Jones won more NBA championships as players. Jones went, winning was sure to follow,” the Celtics said in a statement before their Christmas Day game against the Brooklyn Nets. Jones reunited with Russell in Boston to win eight straight NBA titles from 1959-66.
Heat force Game 6, top Lakers to stave off elimination
“That’s Jimmy Butler," Heat center Bam Adebayo said. Butler got fouled with 46.7 seconds left, then slumped over the baseline video boards, clearly exhausted. He made both foul shots for a one-point lead; Davis’ putback with 21.8 seconds left got the Lakers back on top. Butler drove the lane, drew contact and made both with 16.8 seconds left for a 109-108 lead. Lakers: James and Davis were a combined 24 for 36.
Historic year: Antetokounmpo wins 2nd straight NBA MVP award
He got the Defensive Player of the Year award earlier in these NBA playoffs. Jordan won both the MVP and Defensive Player in 1987-88 and Olajuwon won both in 1993-94. Antetokounmpo came close to joining the club last season by winning MVP and finishing second in the Defensive Player balloting. James won MVP and was second in Defensive Player voting in 2008-09 and 2012-13, and Shaquille O’Neal did so in 1999-2000. “I'm happy for this, I'm happy for this award," Antetokounmpo said.
Mavs' Luka Doncic set to begin his first NBA playoff run
For the first time since 1990, the Dallas Mavericks are going to the playoffs without Dirk Nowitzki on the roster. The German great retired after last season, officially passing the torch as leader of the Mavs to Doncic the Slovene who nearly averaged a 30-point triple-double in just his second NBA season. So, no, he hasnt seen what the NBA playoffs are like. Behind Doncic, they only assembled the greatest year in NBA history in terms of offensive efficiency. He can make those incredible plays.And now Doncic gets the chance to make those plays on the NBAs best stage: The playoffs.