A health update on Heat star Chris Bosh

763516.jpg

A health update on Heat star Chris Bosh

From Comcast SportsNetMIAMI (AP) -- Heat forward Chris Bosh insists food tasted better this summer. People were friendlier to him and his family. Everything, he said, seemed more fun.It could have all gone a decidedly different way.The abdominal injury that nearly ended his season -- and probably would have doomed Miami's title chances -- is behind him now, Bosh said. But when things looked most bleak, when the Heat lost two straight games to the Indiana Pacers in the Eastern Conference semifinals after he got hurt, Bosh was preparing himself for a long offseason without a championship to savor."I thought it was over," Bosh said in an interview with The Associated Press. "I didn't want to fully emotionally invest myself anymore because I didn't want to get hurt like last year when we lost the finals. I kind of had a letdown. I'm not going to lie. I was defeated. And then my wife came to me and said, You know, you said things were going to look bad, but you have to keep going.'"So he did. After missing about three weeks -- the typical recovery time for an injury like his is often twice that long -- Bosh returned for the East finals against Boston. He made a huge 3-pointer in Game 7 as part of a 19-point effort to help beat the Celtics, then averaged 14.6 points against Oklahoma City as the Heat beat the Thunder in five games for the NBA championship.On Saturday the Heat open training camp in Miami. And Bosh is eager to get the group back together."I feel good. I feel real good," Bosh said. "I've been pretty eager to get back with training camp looming and everything. I'm real excited to get back, start working. I've been in the gym a few times in the past couple weeks and that itch for basketball is there. I'm glad it's there and I'm looking forward to this season."He's beginning his 10th NBA season, as are fellow Heat stars LeBron James and Dwyane Wade. Their ballyhooed decision to team up in Miami in the summer of 2010 led to countless adjustments to everyone, especially Bosh, who went from being the top option in Toronto to the perceived third-wheel with the Heat.In Miami, they insist that isn't even close to the truth. Wade and James routinely referred to Bosh last season as Miami's "most important player," and the reasons why they say that were on display when the Heat struggled in the playoffs while Bosh dealt with the abdominal injury."I know his talent," Wade said. "I know what he brings to the game."By now, probably just about everyone does.Game 7 against Boston was a classic for the Heat, a game where for 13 minutes -- a 46-possession span -- of the second half, neither team led by more than two points. Bosh changed that for good when he made his career-best third 3-pointer of the night and sparked the burst that pushed Miami to what became a 101-88 win.Hard to believe that a couple weeks earlier, he could barely walk."I remember thinking just before that shot, if it hits my hands, I'm shooting it," Bosh said. "I don't really think that one particular shot was a significant moment. There were a lot of significant moments. ... The whole time that game was going on, I just knew we were going to win. I didn't have any doubt in my mind. And every time I touched the ball and I shot the ball in that game, I knew it was going in. That's just how I felt."The biggest key for him now is not feeling the same sort of pain he felt when he got hurt while dunking in Game 1 of the second-round series with Indiana.It's been his biggest priority this summer, and will stay that way."It's behind me. But I still have to pay attention to stretching and strengthening all the muscles in the core around it and everything," Bosh said. "It's something that I just can't forget about. I'm not sure if I can re-aggravate it but I'm sure, just like anything, it has the potential to be chronic. If we stay on top of it and continue to do the proper treatment, proper stretching and proper strengthening, I don't see it being an issue."Bosh spent nearly a decade chasing his first NBA title, as did James. Several other players on last season's Heat roster waited even longer to be fitted for their first championship ring.The motivation going forward, Bosh said, is easy. He wants the Heat to, as he put it, "get greedy.""Winning a championship is only the beginning for this group, and we have to look at it that way," Bosh said. "We have to look at it as we're trying to have a dynasty. I think that's the next thing. The only way you can do that is to have more than one championship. I look at it as a five- to six-year increment, where we're trying to win as many as possible."

Knicks, Phil Jackson part ways

dolan-james-jackson-phil.jpg
AP

Knicks, Phil Jackson part ways

NEW YORK -- Phil Jackson is out as New York Knicks president after he oversaw one of the worst eras in team history and feuded with star Carmelo Anthony.

Days after Jackson reiterated his desire to trade Anthony and said he would listen to deals for Kristaps Porzingis, Madison Square Garden chairman James Dolan reversed course and cut ties with Jackson on Wednesday.

"After careful thought and consideration, we mutually agreed that the Knicks will be going in a different direction," Dolan said in a statement. "Phil Jackson is one of the most celebrated and successful individuals in the history of the NBA. His legacy in the game of basketball is unmatched."

But his work as a first-time executive was awful. The winner of an NBA-record 11 championships as coach, Jackson couldn't engineer one playoff berth while running the Knicks. The team was 80-166 in his three full seasons, including a franchise-worst 17-65 in 2014-15. His departure was quickly welcomed by Knicks fans such as film director Spike Lee, who posted a picture of himself on Instagram in a celebratory pose after it was first reported by The Vertical.

The move comes less than a week after Jackson led the Knicks through the NBA draft and on the eve of free agency that opens Saturday. Dolan said general manager Steve Mills would run the day-to-day business of the team in the short term.

Jackson was a Hall of Fame coach with the Chicago Bulls and Los Angeles Lakers, delivering titles with some of the game's biggest stars like Michael Jordan, Shaquille O'Neal and Kobe Bryant. He also played for the Knicks when they won NBA titles in 1970 and 1973.

He was welcomed back to the organization to huge fanfare in March 2014, but it soon became clear the transition would be a poor one. His first coaching hire, Derek Fisher, lasted just 1½ seasons, and Jackson's trades and free agency moves also failed to improve the club.

"I had hoped, of course, to bring another NBA championship to the Garden. As someone who treasures winning, I am deeply disappointed that we weren't able to do that," Jackson said. "New York fans deserve nothing less. I wish them and the Knicks organization all the best - today and always."

The turbulence he created off the court may have led to his departure more than the Knicks' record on it.

Jackson wanted to trade Anthony, the All-Star forward who has two years left on the five-year, $124 million deal that Jackson gave him shortly after taking the job. Anthony has a no-trade clause and has said he wants to stay in New York, and the stalemate that hung over the team for much of last season threatened to linger throughout the summer.

Then he said before the draft that he was listening to offers for Porzingis, the 21-year-old forward from Latvia whom Jackson drafted with the No. 4 pick in 2015 in one of his few successful moves.

Jackson believed the Knicks would compete for a playoff berth last season after he traded for Derrick Rose, signed Joakim Noah and Courtney Lee and hired Jeff Hornacek to coach. But after a solid start, they quickly spiraled toward their familiar position at the bottom of the Eastern Conference and finished 31-51.

Despite all that, Dolan said during an ESPN Radio interview in February that he would allow Jackson to finish his contract, and the sides picked up the mutual two-year option on Jackson's contract.

But the instability involving Anthony and Porzingis threatened to damage the team's ability to lure free agents and may have spurred Dolan's decision. Though he had been intent on keeping Jackson, the dysfunction within the franchise showed no sign of ending even as Jackson, 71, largely stayed out of sight.

He never spoke to the media last season after vowing openness upon taking the job and refused to provide Anthony with the communication he sought.

"It's like a total train wreck ," tennis great and Knicks fan John McEnroe told The Associated Press last week.

"I mean, he's known as the Zen Master, like a master talker, and then he's not talking to anybody," McEnroe said of Jackson. "So this whole thing seems to have gone completely off the rails."

There was also incessant debate about Jackson's insistence that the team employ the triangle offense, which potential incoming players were schooled on during the run-up to last week's NBA draft. The Knicks wound up taking 18-year-old French point guard Frank Ntilikina, who spoke highly of the triangle and Jackson's belief in the scheme.

"I think I can definitely fit with this system," Ntilikina said on draft night.

Not even a week later, the triangle is probably gone, and the Knicks will start anew.

Rose, the 2011 NBA MVP, will be a free agent. Noah - whom Jackson gave a puzzling four-year, $72 million contract last summer - will start the season by finishing out a 20-game suspension for violating the league's anti-drug policy. He averaged 5.0 points and 8.8 rebounds in his first season in New York, shooting just 44 percent from the foul line.

Span clinches win for Giants and Gearrin, who had walk-off dreams of his own

Span clinches win for Giants and Gearrin, who had walk-off dreams of his own

SAN FRANCISCO — With the winning run on second and a bat in his hands, Cory Gearrin allowed himself to dream. He was a second baseman at Mercer University years ago and he entered the night with a 1.000 batting average in the big leagues. Why couldn’t this be his night on the mound and at the plate?

Gearrin stopped on the way to the plate and told Buster Posey that he was going to walk it off. He dug in against right-hander Chad Qualls and waited for the first sinker. He swung over the top of it, but he felt it was a quality hack. And then he missed the next sinker, and then the next. 

“I felt good going into that at-bat,” Gearrin said. “It was fun getting that opportunity. I’ve never faced a sinker like that. I felt like I missed it … by a lot.”

Gearrin can take solace in two facts. First, using his own sinker, he pitched three shutout innings, more than earning his keep, and he was a well-deserved winning pitcher in a 4-3 win over the Rockies that became official one minute after midnight.

Second, perhaps he gave the next hitter, Denard Span, a better view of an opposing pitcher’s repertoire. 

“Yeah ... he gave me a lot of information during that at-bat,” Span said as he laughed. 

Okay, so maybe Gearrin’s contributions were limited to the mound, but oh what a job he did against one of the best lineups in the National League. Span didn’t glean anything from Gearrin’s brief battle, but he didn’t need to. He spat on a changeup and then ripped a sinker into right, allowing Gorkys Hernandez to race home for a 14th-inning victory. 

Span, who is open about his distrust of birds, had spent nearly two hours standing under a circling flock of seagulls. Between pitches, he often dropped his hands onto his knees, looking more eager than anyone for the night to end. 

“Those birds were dropping stuff all around me,” he said. “I was like, you know what man, I don’t got time for this.”

The single gave the Giants back-to-back wins for the first time since May 27-28. It validated so much good work, from the five relievers who got the ball to Gearrin, to the Brandons who turned a snazzy double play in the 11th, to Buster Posey, who twice threw out runners at second in extra innings. Gearrin shouted out the defense in his post game media session. 

“It’s not news to us that we’ve got gold glovers all over the field,” he said. 

The Giants trailed by a pair after Matt Cain hung a curveball to Mark Reynolds, but they chipped away. The Rockies were the jumpier team in extra innings, but every rally was cut down by stellar defense and quality pitches. Gearrin threw 34 of them. 

The veteran right-hander had never before recorded more than six outs in a big league game. He got nine outs Tuesday, giving Bochy one extension after another as he battled to make it through a game shorthanded. With Conor Gillaspie headed to the DL, the Giants had just three position players on the bench. That meant Ty Blach was used as a pinch-runner. Jeff Samardzija pinch-hit in the 11th. Bochy thought of using Matt Moore in the 14th when the pitcher’s spot came up. Hunter Strickland was warming up to pitch the 15th, but …

“I could have hit Moore — I probably should have,” Bochy said, smiling. “But Cory is a pretty good athlete and had a pretty good average going into that at-bat. The numbers swayed me.”

Gearrin got his first career at-bat last season and singled. He has not even taken batting practice since that day, but he was fired up when given the opportunity. He was still so fired up after the Giants chased Span into the outfield that he didn’t mind the fact that his shiny 1.000 batting average has been cut in half. 

“I got to use that line for a year,” he said. “But I’ll gladly sacrifice the 1.000 average for a walk-off win.”