NBA legend gets prominent role in U.S. government

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NBA legend gets prominent role in U.S. government

From Comcast SportsNet
NEW YORK (AP) -- The National Basketball League's all-time scoring leader is now a global cultural ambassador. The State Department announced Kareem Abdul-Jabbar's appointment Wednesday. Ann Stock, assistant secretary of state for education and cultural affairs, says Abdul-Jabbar will travel the world to engage a generation of young people to help promote diplomacy. Stock says the appointment is part of Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton's vision of "Smart Power" that combines diplomacy, defense and development to "bridge the gap in a tense world through young people." Abdul-Jabbar will travel to Brazil on Jan. 22 for a number of events centering on education, using his own experiences to help connect with young people. The legendary center scored 38,387 points during his 20-year NBA career.

Prior to Game 4, Blazers send well wishes to Steve Kerr

Prior to Game 4, Blazers send well wishes to Steve Kerr

Even in the midst of a contentious playoff series, the Blazers took a moment to send their regards to ailing Warriors head coach Steve Kerr.

A little over 30 minutes before tip-off of Game 4 in Portland, the Blazers tweeted out a photo of Kerr from his days as Blazer with the message "Get well soon, Coach!"

Kerr, who played for six teams during his 15-year NBA career, spent the 2001-02 season in Portland.

On Sunday, Kerr announced that he would be stepping away from coaching after sympthoms from his back surgeries resurfaced. Assistant coach Mike Brown, who coached the Warriors in Game 3, will serve as interim coach.

 

Christian Arroyo Era kicks off early after third baseman's red-hot start

Christian Arroyo Era kicks off early after third baseman's red-hot start

SAN FRANCISCO — The Giants threw Christian Arroyo right into the fire. He’ll bat sixth on Monday in the season’s first meeting with the rival Dodgers, and while it’s grossly unfair, Arroyo will shoulder massive expectations given the way this season has started.

All of that should be a piece of cake given what Arroyo did early Monday afternoon. The 21-year-old convinced a skeptical mother that he was telling her the truth. 

Arroyo found out around 1:30 p.m. that his dream of reaching the big leagues had been accomplished. After shedding a few tears in Triple-A manager Dave Brundage’s office and getting congratulated by teammates, he called his mom, Kimberly. 

“She didn’t believe me,” he said, smiling. “I took a solid five minutes for her to believe me. She kept going, ‘You’re lying.’”

Arroyo’s mother is headed over from Florida, and she’ll be in the stands with other family members for Tuesday night’s game. The plan is for Arroyo to be at third base against Clayton Kershaw. The plan is for him to be at third base for years to come. 

The Giants hoped Arroyo, who doesn’t turn 22 until next month, would spend a whole season in Triple-A, dealing with the occasional failures and conditioning his body for the grind of the Major Leagues. But two things happened when Arroyo reached Triple-A after another solid spring: He hit the cover off the ball, picking up 29 hits in 65 at-bats (including four on Sunday) and the team slumped to a 6-13 record. 

Was this a case of the Giants needing a spark or Arroyo forcing his way into the lineup?

“Both,” manager Bruce Bochy said. “Certainly with what he was doing down in Sacramento, he opened up a lot of eyes and we have a need right now. We’re challenged offensively. We need another guy to help out and the way he was swinging the bat made us push him more quickly than we were thinking about.”

Bochy said Arroyo will mostly play third, although he can also handle short and second. Eduardo Nuñez, the incumbent, will play primarily left field and hopefully fill the gaping hole there. Nuñez will also move around, and he is likely to play shortstop this week when Brandon Crawford goes on bereavement leave. 

The Giants are coming off a 1-4 road trip where they scored just 10 runs. There will be pressure on the top prospect to help turn this around, but Bochy doesn’t think he’ll feel it.

“He’s a tough kid,” he said. “I had fun with him today, told him don’t be scared. He said, ‘I’m pumped.’ He’s excited to be here. He just needs to be himself.”

If Arroyo can keep doing that, he’ll be fine. The Giants have always viewed him as a huge cornerstone of their future, and that was again made clear on Monday. Arroyo was given No. 22 and tucked into a locker between Brandon Belt and Brandon Crawford. Joe Panik is two lockers away. The hope is that the four lined up that way for years. 

“It’s surreal at this moment,” Arroyo said. “I’m trying to take it all in.”