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Former teammate calls out LeBron James for “quitting” during NBA finals series

Eddie House, a former teammate of LeBron James during his stint with the Miami Heat, downplayed the notion of James as the “greatest basketball player of all-time” during an appearance on FS1’s Undisputed this week.

During the debate, House argued that it was “ridiculous” for anyone to believe “The King” could replace Michael Jordan as the greatest player in NBA history, specifically because he “quit” on his team during the 2011 NBA Finals.

“I can’t get over the fact that he didn’t show up in Dallas, not only because I was on the team, but the fact that he was the best player and everyone was depending on him to show up and do what he does and he was M.I.A.,” House said of James. “He had a bad series. Jordan never had that. People kill James Harden for having a bad series last year, right? ‘Oh no, he ain’t as good as he is.’ But you’re going to say somebody that quit in the Finals, at the end of everything with all the marbles on the table, that you’re going to say that he’s the greatest of all-time? I can’t buy it.”

House, of course, is referring to James’ first season in Miami, which included a series loss to the Mavericks in six games. The Heat, however, would win the next two consecutive NBA Championships, as well as the Eastern Conference title during the forward’s entire run with the team.

Though Jordan still has a 6-3 advantage over James in league titles, it’s worth noting that the King has led his teams to the Finals during each of the last seven consecutive seasons, which itself is remarkable.

But there will always be passionate arguments to both sides of this debate and it’s unlikely we’ll ever reach a consensus agreement no matter what James accomplishes.

Gregg Popovich gives a dismal update on the injury status of former Finals MVP Kawhi Leonard

Kawhi Leonard has only played in nine games this NBA season, and San Antonio Spurs head coach Gregg Popovich has some bad news for fans that are hoping Leonard returns to the lineup soon.

Popovich blatantly said on Wednesday that he would be surprised if Leonard returned this season.

Pop just said he'd be surprised if Kawhi returns this season. — Michael C. Wright (@mikecwright) February 21, 2018 Popovich: I’ll be surprised if Kawhi returns this season #Spurs — Jabari Young (@JabariJYoung) February 21, 2018

Popovich did not clarify if he just meant the regular season or the entire season, but with about two months remaining until the Playoffs, the prognosis still isn’t ideal. Leonard has not played since Jan. 13 due to a quadriceps injury.

Leonard is a two-time All Star, two-time Defensive Player of the Year, and one-time Finals MVP. Leonard had his most success last season where he averaged over 25 points per game for the first time in his career.

The Spurs are currently 35-24 this season, which is third-best in the Western Conference.

Duke gets more brutal news on the status of star Marvin Bagley III

Duke freshman forward Marvin Bagley III will miss his fourth consecutive game when the Blue Devils host Louisville at Cameron Indoor Stadium on Wednesday night, according to WNCN’s Jeff Jones.

Bagley has been battling a knee sprain that is still described as “minor,” but has no timetable set for his return, according to Jones’ report.

BREAKING: Marvin Bagley III will miss his 4th-straight game, tonight when Duke plays Louisville. Bagley's knee sprain is still described as "minor", but no timetable has been given for his return. We're there live, tonight at 6 on @WNCN — Jeff Jones (@JeffJonesSports) February 21, 2018

The 6-foot-11, 234-pound freshman experienced the injury during the first half of the Blue Devils’ 82-78 loss to North Carolina, but still managed to play all but one minute of the game and finished with 15 points and 16 rebounds.

However, he has missed each of the three preceding games, though Duke has managed to pick up victories against Georgia Tech (80-69), Virginia Tech (74-52) and Clemson (66-57), respectively in that span.

Bagley led the ACC in both points per game (21.2) and rebounds per game (11.4) during 21 appearances. He has experienced several minor injuries in the past, but none of which caused him to miss extended periods of time.

Duke currently ranks second in the ACC with a 10-4 conference record behind Virginia (13-1) with four regular season games remaining.

Jason Garrett close to filling coaching staff with latest Cowboys hiring

The Dallas Cowboys have made nine coaching changes this offseason, and Jason Garrett is close to filling his new coaching staff after his recent hire.

ESPN’s Todd Archer reported that the Cowboys are hiring Ken Amato as a defensive staff assistant.

The Cowboys have added Ken Amato as a defensive staff assistant, which moves the team closer to finalizing Jason Garrett's staff. Amato worked with the Cowboys' special teams last year through minority coaching fellowship program. He spent nine seasons… — Todd Archer (@toddarcher) February 21, 2018

Related: Cowboys have reportedly made a decision on the future of top defensive standout

Amato served as an assistant with the Cowboys last season through the Bill Walsh Diversity Coaching Fellowship.

He spent nine seasons with the Tennessee Titans as a long snapper.

Amato is replacing Turner West, who took a job at Austin Peay earlier in the offseason, according to Pro Football Talk.

Former Super Bowl champion says he suffered more than 2,000 concussions during his NFL career

Gary Plummer, who was notably a linebacker for the San Francisco 49ers, claims to have suffered over 2,000 concussions.

A 12-year NFL career would obviously come at some cost, but this seems other worldly.

Of note, Plummer retired in 1998 with 1,029 tackles, 4.5 sacks, six interceptions, and a Super Bowl XXIX ring with the 49ers.

Here he is discussing it, during an appearance on The 49ers Insiders Podcast:

“If you’re not getting at least 10 of those a game, as a middle linebacker in the NFL, that means you didn’t play that day,” Plummer said. “I played 250 games. So (with) at least 10 a game, that’s 2,500 concussions.” “After Junior, my wife said, ‘Dude, you got to do something; I don’t want you to be the next Junior Seau.’… “It was not overnight, by any stretch of the imagination,” Plummer said. “It was a long, slow process. But it wasn’t a long, slow, arduous process. It’s not like it was difficult to go to yoga. It’s not like it was difficult to go outside and listen to classical music while gardening. “But I felt myself not only getting better at the time I was doing those things, but it then became the cumulative effect of, ‘Hey, there’ve been a few days where I didn’t have a headache.’ Or, ‘There’ve been a few days where I’ve been able to sleep through the night.’ And those were momentous occasions for me. It’s been amazing that I literally feel like a new man.”

Obviously, incredibly scary stuff. Plummer is only 58.

(H/T For the Win)

A NASCAR driver will be honored in Atlanta for hitting a major milestone

When David Ragan makes his start at the Folds of Honor QuikTrip 400 this Sunday in his home state of Georgia at Atlanta Motor Speedway, he will hit a career milestone worth celebrating even if he doesn’t win the race.

Ragan is making his 400th career Cup Series start on Sunday, and he will be honored by the track and by the Georgia state legislature.

According to NBC Sports, Ragan and track president Ed Clark will appear at a ceremony in the General Assembly where the legislature will issue a proclamation to honor Ragan and before his 400th start.

“Atlanta Motor Speedway is special to me because I grew up at that track,” Ragan said. “I raced my Legends car there as a kid in the 90s and early 2000s. My dad still works there and has an office there. It’s just always has been a second home to me. So, we couldn’t have scripted it better to have my 400th start be in Atlanta.”

Related: NASCAR team hit with suspension, fine after strong Daytona showing

NBC Sports NASCAR analyst Nate Ryan tweeted that Ragan is making his 400th start at a younger age than Jimmie Johnson, Kevin Harvick, Martin Truex Jr., Denny Hamlin and other Cup Series drivers. Ragan made his first start in 2006 with Roush Fenway Racing.

Here's a nugget: At 32, @DavidRagan is making his 400th Cup start at a younger age than @JimmieJohnson, @kevinharvick, @dennyhamlin, @ClintBowyer, @MartinTruex_Jr and @kaseykahne did. #nascar — Nate Ryan (@nateryan) February 21, 2018

Ragan is now driving the No. 38 Ford for Front Row Motorsports. He has two wins in his career — the first of which came at Daytona in 2011, and the second came at Talladega in 2013 — and also has 39 top 10s and 15 top 5s.

Racing’s next rising star thanks NASCAR’s Danica Patrick for blazing the trail

Danica Patrick’s final race in NASCAR ended in disappointment as she crashed out of the Daytona 500. It closed the books on her seven-year NASCAR career that began in 2012. During that time, she was unable to score a win or even a top-5 finish, but her impact on the sport went well beyond the track.

Seeing a woman competing at the highest level of stock car racing inspired a new generation of young women in racing. One of those women was Natalie Decker, who tweeted out her appreciation before Patrick’s final NASCAR race:

Dear @DanicaPatrick Thank you for following your dreams! Thank you for loving the sport! Thank you for being you! Love, Natalie Decker — Natalie Decker (@NatalieRacing) February 18, 2018

Related: NASCAR fans are wondering if one tradition will return with Danica Patrick retiring

Decker is a racer herself, and recently joined elite company by becoming only the fifth woman in the ARCA series to win a pole position. She also became the fourth woman ever to win pole position at Daytona International Speedway in any series per Danica Patrick was the first to accomplish that feat in 2013, the only pole position of her NASCAR career.

The 20-year-old Decker finished fifth in her race at Daytona, an impressive feat for a young driver who suffered damage to her car when she hit the back of another car.

“My first time at Daytona, I sat on the pole and got fifth. So I’m really happy,” she said.

First time at Daytona and we got 5th thank you everyone — Natalie Decker (@NatalieRacing) February 11, 2018

Decker joined NASCAR’s Drive for Diversity program in 2015, and has been racing stock cars since she was 12. It is her first full time season in ARCA, but she ran seven races for Venturini Motorsports in the series last year. Until Daytona, her best start was eighth at Elko Speedway and her 5th place finish bested her previous career-best seventh place finish at Road America.

Former Heisman Trophy winner has officially been added to Tennessee’s coaching staff

Former Heisman Trophy winner and recent Alabama offensive analyst Chris Weinke has officially been hired as Tennessee’s new running backs coach, the head coach Jeremy Pruitt announced via UT Athletics’ official website on Wednesday.

“I’m excited to have Chris Weinke on our staff to coach running backs,” Pruitt said. “He has played the game at the highest level and what he has accomplished on the field speaks for itself. He is also an outstanding coach and teacher of the game, coaching in the NFL, in college this past season and at the high school level. He has a great eye for talent and knows the game on the offensive side of the ball as well as anybody I’ve been around. He will be a great fit for our Tennessee program.”  

Last week, multiple reports indicated that Weinke would join the Vols’ staff as a running backs coach. Gridiron Now’s John Brice initially reported that the former quarterback would be the top candidate for the position shortly after former running backs coach Robert Gillespie’s departure.

Filing story to @GridironNow but would watch former Heisman winner & recent Tide analyst Chris Weinke for @Vol_Football RB post emptied by parting ways with @UTCoachG Robert Gillespie — John Brice (@JohnDBrice1) February 13, 2018

The former Heisman Trophy winner was previously reported to be the Vols’ quarterbacks coach shortly after the hiring of Jeremy Pruitt in December, but apparently turned down the position.

Weinke played quarterback at Florida State from 1997-2000 and was selected by the Carolina Panthers in the fourth-round of the 2001 NFL Draft. He spent six seasons with the Panthers (2001-06) and one with the San Francisco 49ers (2007) before retiring.

Weinke began his coaching career at IMG Academy in Tampa, Florida, where he served as the head coach for five seasons. Prior to joining Alabama, he worked as the St. Louis/Los Angeles Rams quarterbacks coach from 2015-16.

Tennessee parted ways with former running backs coach Gillespie, the only retained coach from the previous regime, last Tuesday.

He was among the coaches officially announced as part of Pruitt’s inaugural staff last week after National Signing Day.

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