Andrew Bynum gets quite a welcome in Philly

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Andrew Bynum gets quite a welcome in Philly

From Comcast SportsNet
PHILADELPHIA (AP) -- He heard the roar from hundreds of Philadelphia 76ers fans chanting "An-drew By-num! An-drew By-num!" the moment he stepped into the National Constitution Center. Andrew Bynum instantly felt at home in Philadelphia. He enjoyed his first days in the city so much, Bynum made it clear he wouldn't mind playing in that No. 33 Sixers jersey for more than a season. "My first experiences here have been so great," Bynum said, "I'm really leaning toward making this my home. With that proclamation, Sixers fans erupted. The superstar the organization and their fans craved since Allen Iverson split actually loved them back. Imagine the sounds he'll hear after some clutch fourth-quarter buckets over a deep playoff run. Wearing a Sixers T-shirt, Bynum made his first appearance Wednesday since he was acquired last week from the Los Angeles Lakers as part of a four-team megadeal. Former Philadelphia All-Star Andre Iguodala landed in Denver and Orlando shipped Dwight Howard to the Lakers as part of the trades. The Sixers scrapped the usual ho-hum press conference and turned Bynum's arrival into a full-blown pep rally that included moving the location from their arena to just a few hundred feet away from the Liberty Bell. The event was open to the public and fans arrived early to greet Bynum and Jason Richardson -- and plunk down 30 bucks for some hot-off-the-presses Bynum T-shirts. "It makes me super-excited," said Bynum, who never stopped smiling. The Sixers have every reason to feel giddy over this deal and what this means for the long-term future of the franchise. For years, Philadelphia has been mired in the middle of the Eastern Conference, only busting out last season under new ownership to advance to the second round for the first time in nine years. But the glow of that achievement soon faded once management realized the team had maxed out with veterans Iguodala, Elton Brand, and Lou Williams. Iguodala was traded, Brand was amnestied and Williams was allowed to walk in free-agency, freeing up some needed dollars to make a move this big. Bynum is the All-Star, the franchise player, expected to soon help the Sixers win their first championship since 1983. Only 24, the New Jersey native won two championships with the Lakers. But in Los Angeles, the offense ran through Kobe Bryant and Pau Gasol. Bynum is The Man for the Sixers. "Obviously, there's a lot of pressure," Bynum said. "I want to be ready for it." Consider this: Until last week, Kwame Brown was listed as Philadelphia's starting center. That's called an upgrade. But once the hoopla and "Beat L.A.!" chants quieted down, two questions loomed in the building that honors the U.S. Constitution: Would Bynum put his John Hancock on a possible-five year contract extension; and how will his achy knees respond to treatment next month in Germany? Bynum is set to make 16.1 million this season in the final year of his deal. If he waits until after the season, Bynum can sign a five-year deal worth nearly 102 million. No other team could offer Bynum as many years or as much money. "I enjoy Philly, I'm from here, I don't see anything wrong," Bynum said. "I don't see any problem why I wouldn't want to stay here." Bynum is set to have injections of plasma-rich platelets that supposedly stimulate healing in arthritis-affected areas in both of his knees. Bryant, his former teammate, has credited the therapy with dramatic improvement in his own troublesome right knees and an injured left ankle. Sixers president Rod Thorn said Bynum and his surgically repaired knees checked out fine after a lengthy physical on Tuesday. "You've got to take calculated risks sometimes," Thorn said. "Players of his level don't come on the market every day." Bynum is coming off his best NBA season after averaging career highs with 18.7 points and 11.8 rebounds while making his first All-Star team, starting for the West. He was the NBA's third-leading rebounder and 20th-leading scorer, while also ranking sixth in the league with 1.93 blocked shots per game. Bynum also avoided the injuries that have dogged him throughout a seven-year career since the Lakers made the New Jersey high schooler the youngest player ever drafted in 2005. Bynum played in 60 of the Lakers' 66 regular-season games, missing four due to suspension. Ah yes, that suspension. Bynum may be the best center in the East, but he brings a touch of baggage that shouldered him with a reputation as being a handful, as well as a monster rebounder. He was busted three years ago partying at the Playboy Mansion posing with a girl on his shoulders during his rehab from a torn knee ligament. Bynum served a four-game suspension this season for his vicious fouls against J.J. Barea in the Lakers' final playoff game last spring. He's has declined to participate in certain team huddles, sitting down the bench by himself. He once slapped hands with opposing fans while taking a long time to leave the court after he was ejected from a game last season in Houston. "I think somewhere along the line, maybe he said a couple of immature things here and there, but everybody has," Sixers coach Doug Collins said. "I'm sure he'd be the first one step up and say, Hey, I messed up.' The unfortunate thing in life, when you make a mistake like that, it's one video replay from living it again." The Sixers would prefer more replays of Bynum's 30-rebound game like he had last season against San Antonio. Except for some minor tinkering with the deep bench players, the Sixers should be finished with their roster overhaul. They added Bynum, Richardson, Brown, Royal Ivey, Dorell Wright and Nick Young to a team counting on returners Evan Turner, Jrue Holiday and Thaddeus Young to help make that second-round exit the start of something big, not a one-season wonder. With one season left on his deal, Thorn is still calling the shots, even as the organization spent the summer interviewing general manager candidates. Thorn will remain with the team next season as a consultant and the Sixers would like to have a succession plan in place. "That will happen over the next year but it's going to depend on who we can to terms with and who's out there," owner Joshua Harris said. "There's nothing imminent right now. Rod's still the GM of the team." Thorn drafted Michael Jordan in Chicago. He's the executive who traded for Jason Kidd in New Jersey and turned the Nets into winners. His boldest move with the Sixers is his best one yet.

Bonds makes significant leap, but not part of 2017 Hall of Fame Class

Bonds makes significant leap, but not part of 2017 Hall of Fame Class

Editor's Note: The above video is from 2014.

SAN FRANCISCO — No hitter controlled a game like Barry Bonds, but the longtime Giant has had to sit by in recent years and watch Hall of Fame voting mostly leave him behind. On Wednesday, Bonds finally gained some traction.

Bonds was not elected as part of the Hall of Fame’s Class of 2017, but he made a significant leap, opening the door for selection in one of his five remaining years on the ballot. Bonds ended up on 53.8 percent of ballots, well short of the needed 75 percent, but well ahead of his previous pace. He had been listed on just 44.3 percent of ballots a year ago, a modest leap from 36.8 in 2015.

Bonds has benefited from several changes to the voting process and the makeup of the Hall in recent years. Most notably, he appears to have received a significant boost from Bud Selig’s election in December by a 16-person committee. Selig was the commissioner during the steroid era, and when he was elected, many in the Baseball Writers Association of America made it clear that Selig’s inclusion would have an impact. Susan Slusser, who covers the A’s for the San Francisco Chronicle, summed it up neatly in a tweet: “Senseless to keep steroid guys out when the enablers are in Hall of Fame. I now will hold my nose and vote for players I believe cheated.”

Per Ryan Thibodaux’s invaluable ballot tracker, Bonds received 23 votes from BBWAA members who did not put a check next to his name a year ago (among public ballots). Roger Clemens, who has been similarly held back by a PED cloud, gained 24 votes. 

Both Bonds and Clemens have also benefited from a change in the electorate. A writer must hold a BBWAA card for 10 years to receive a vote, but last year the rules were changed to eliminate writers who have not actively covered baseball in the past 10 years. The purging of older voters has benefited players from the steroid era, as has the addition of new voters who grew up watching a game dominated by Bonds, Clemens, Mark McGwire and others who were later connected to PEDs. According to Thibodaux’s tracker, Bonds and Clemens were both selected by 13 of 14 first-time voters.

Bonds and Clemens still have a long way to go, but they can take solace in the fact that two of this year’s selections made similar leaps to cross the three-quarters threshold. Tim Raines, Jeff Bagwell and Ivan Rodriguez make up this year’s class. Raines, in his final go-around on the ballot, jumped from 69.8 percent to 86 percent. Bagwell, in his seventh year, went from 71.6 to 86.2 percent. Rodriguez never was disciplined for PED use but he has been hounded by rumors for years. He received 76 percent of the vote in his first year on the ballot.

Another big jump would put Bonds, the all-time home run leader and a seven-time MVP, on the edge of Cooperstown. He will not get a “Selig bump” next year, but another wrinkle could help his cause. Starting in 2018, all ballots will be made public.

Raiders LT Donald Penn, WR Amari Cooper to skip Pro Bowl

Raiders LT Donald Penn, WR Amari Cooper to skip Pro Bowl

The Raiders had an NFL-best seven players on the initial Pro Bowl roster. The number planning to play in the league’s all-star game continues to dwindle.

That total's down to three after left tackle Donald Penn and receiver Amari Cooper bowed out. Penn won’t be ready after suffering a knee injury in the regular-season finale, an ailment that kept him out of a playoff loss at Houston. Cincinnati’s Andrew Whitworth will take Penn’s place.

Cooper battled a shoulder injury late last season, though it's uncertain exactly what is keeping him from the game. 

In addition to Penn and Cooper, Quarterback Derek Carr obviously can't play while recovering from surgery to repair a broken fibula. Edge rusher Khalil Mack also bowed out recently with what is believed to be a minor back injury.

There’s a possibility a fifth Raider will also excuse himself. Center Rodney Hudson suffered an ankle injury in the playoffs. It remains uncertain whether he’ll play in the Pro Bowl.

Safety Reggie Nelson and left guard Kelechi Osemele remain firmly in the fray at this stage.