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The latest news from Sports

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    jonathan toews blackhawks

    The Chicago Blackhawks are Stanley Cup champions and the newest dynasty in pro sports.

    The Blackhawks defeated the Tampa Bay Lightning 2-0 to win the best of seven Stanley Cup Final four games to two. The title marks the third Stanley Cup for the Blackhawks in the last six years after winning in 2010 and 2013. Unlike the previous two, this one was celebrated on home ice. 

    Chicago Blackhawks defenseman Duncan Keith was awarded the Conn Smythe award for the most valuable player in the playoffs. He spent half of the entire Stanley Cup Playoffs on the ice.

    blackhawks stanley cup

    Keith scored the winning goal in the game with 2 minutes and 47 seconds left in the second period. 

    blackhawks stanley cup

    Goalie Corey Crawford saved all 23 shots he faced. 

    corey crawford chicago blackhawks

    Patrick Kane scored an insurance goal with just more than five minutes remaining.

    patrick kane blackhawksBlackhawks stanley cup

    blackhawks

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    lance stephenson hornets

    On Monday night the Los Angeles Clippers and Charlotte Hornets agreed to a trade that sends Lance Stephenson to the Clippers in exchange for Matt Barnes and Spencer Hawes.

    For the Clippers it's a low-risk, high-reward trade.

    Stephenson only spent one year in Charlotte after Michael Jordan and the Hornets gave him a three-year, $27 million deal. Stephenson struggled mightily in the 61 games he played, averaging eight points, four rebounds, and four assists while shooting just 37% from the field and 17% from three-point range.

    Thought to be the player that would turn the Hornets into serious playoff contenders, Stephenson was widely considered one of the worst free agent signings last year.

    However, the trade is a steal for the Clippers because Stephenson is young (24 years old), fills a dire need on the wing, and perhaps best of all, has a team option on the third year of his contract. If Stephenson performs horribly again in 2015-16, the Clippers can opt not to pick up the third year of his deal, and he'll become a free agent.

    In turn, the Clippers give up Hawes, who had a minus-2.8 net rating on the court and couldn't play in the playoffs, and a 35-year-old Barnes who's on his eighth team in 12 years.

    There's reason to believe Stephenson could rebound from last season. Prior to his stint in Charlotte, he had spent the last two seasons becoming an important player for the Indiana Pacers. His scoring, efficiency, rebounds, and assists all improved from 2012-13 to 2013-14, when he led the NBA in triple-doubles. In those two seasons, he shot an average of 34% from three-point range, suggesting if he's on a team with good spacing, and he's not one of the primary ball-handlers, he can still be a respectable three-point threat.

    Stephenson struggled on the Hornets, acting as a secondary playmaker to Kemba Walker. When he did have the ball, he had little room to shoot or get into the paint because the Hornets had no spacing — they were the worst three-point shooting team in the league. While Stephenson never found ways to integrate himself into the offense and adapt his role, he also was working with a below-average offense that didn't have creative ways to use him.

    The Clippers, meanwhile, ran the best offense in the NBA last year. While Stephenson will still have to adapt to having the ball less next to Chris Paul and Blake Griffin, having two elite playmakers in a more efficient offensive system should help Stephenson get on track. The Hornets defense was better without Stephenson last season, but in Indiana, Stephenson was an important cog in one of the league's best defenses. The Clippers finished 15th in defensive rating last season, and could improve if they retain DeAndre Jordan and get useful perimeter defense from Stephenson.

    There is some risk in the move — though Hawes couldn't get off the bench in the playoffs, Barnes was a useful "3 and D" player for the Clippers. With Barnes on the court, the Clippers had a 12 net rating, higher than Griffin and Jordan. If Stephenson doesn't recover any of his form, it could hurt the Clippers spacing, weaken an already-iffy defense, and shorten an already-shallow rotation.

    Still, at worst, it's a one-year gamble on a player who was one of the most versatile, intriguing wings in the NBA just two seasons ago. If Stephenson returns to form, it could be a huge pick-up for the Clippers.

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    NOW WATCH: These are the most dominant athletes in every sport









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    Kansas City Royals celebrate

    With two weeks left until this year's MLB All-Star Game voting closes, MLB has released its latest update and the Kansas City Royals have continued to dominate the ballot. They now have an MLB record eight players set to start for the American League. 

    The Royals, who have an AL-best 35-25 record, had seven players leading their respective positions in the previous update, but Omar Infante — who currently has a .204 AVG and a MLB-worst .496 OPS, among qualified batters — surpassed Houston Astros second baseman Jose Altuve in the most recent voting results.

    The lone non-Royals player in line to start the All-Star Game for the AL is reigning AL MVP Mike Trout.

    Some have criticized the All-Star Game voting method — where fans can vote up to 35 times online. Detroit Tigers Pitcher David Price called the situation "a joke" and an SI reporter encouraged fans to vote for non-Royals players. But Kansas City manager Ned Yost told USA Today's Bob Nightengale he has no sympathy towards those who are frustrated with the current results:

    "There's nothing wrong. ...Vote! The votes are the votes. If you don't like it, go out there and vote. Our fans have gotten out and voted. Does [eight] starters surprise you? Yeah. But once you sit back and think about it, it's really not that surprising."

    Royals first baseman Eric Hosmer, who's currently set to start over two-time AL MVP Miguel Cabrera, said after the previous voting results were released it's not fair to simply call this ballot-stuffing from Royals fans.

    "Look, I could see if it was just Kansas City people filling out random ballots and voting for just us,'' Hosmer told USA Today, "but when you're looking at [three] guys getting 4 million votes, that can't be just coming from Kansas City.''

    As of now, seven Royals players have received more than five million votes, with four surpassing six million.

    While Yost and Hosmer defended the current voting results, Royals outfielder Alex Gordon told USA Today if such a large number of Royals players start the All-Star Game it would ruin the contest:

    "To be honest with you, I've never agreed with the All-Star voting. ...I always thought that guys most deserving, and having the best years, should go, especially now that the All-Star Game decide who wins home field advantage. But it's a popularity thing now, and after getting to the World Series, we got popular. But we get seven guys starting at the All-Star game, they'll change the rule. They'll have to. It will be like a home game. Nobody wants to see one team playing against the other All-Star team. It kind of ruins the point of an All-Star Game."

    Voting ends July 2.

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    NOW WATCH: These are the most dominant athletes in every sport









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    steph curry shoes

    This week, Golden State Warriors point guard Stephen Curry has a shot at winning the NBA championship.

    As the face of Under Armour, Curry would not only achieve a milestone in his career, he'd be giving Under Armour another massive credibility boost.

    CEO Kevin Plank founded the Baltimore-based sports apparel and equipment company in 1996, and it has emerged in the past few years as a serious contender in the industry.

    Last year Under Armour overtook Adidas, which also owns Reebok, as the second most popular sportswear manufacturer in the US, with $2.6 billion in revenue in apparel and footwear. It's still far behind Nike, however, which brought in $11.8 billion in revenue in that same sector in 2014.

    Plank has said he expects Under Armour to grow revenues 20% this year, and part of his plan is to continue focusing on acquiring major athlete endorsements.

    In addition to NCAA partnerships and deals with international teams like the Premier League's Tottenham Hotspurs, Under Armour has been building a roster of star athletes that build its brand and boost its sales.

    Here are some of the company's biggest gets.

    Stephen Curry — Point guard, Golden State Warriors

    Matthew Dellavedova and Stephen CurryUnder Armour approached Curry in 2013 as his contract with Nike was about to expire. Nike considered whether it was worth outbidding Under Armour, and concluded that Curry's chance of deserving a signature shoe wasn't high enough. Curry soon became one of the NBA's most prominent stars and the 2014-2015 MVP. His signature shoe, the UA Curry One, is Under Armour's best-selling shoe.

    Tom Brady — Quarterback, New England Patriots

    tom bradyThe four-time Super Bowl champion and three-time Super Bowl MVP signed a deal with Under Armour in 2010 after his deal with Nike expired, taking some of his payment in stock.

    Gisele Bündchen — Model

    Under ArmourBündchen, the former world's top-grossing model, joined her husband Tom Brady in the Under Armour family last September, months before announcing her retirement from the catwalk. She is part of Under Armour's largest ever global marketing campaign for women.

    Jordan Spieth — Professional golfer on the PGA Tour

    jordan spieth mastersIn January, Under Armour signed 21-year-old Spieth to a 10-year contract. In April, he joined history's greatest golfers when he won the Master's. "Thanks to Jordan, our company grew up today," Under Armour CEO Plank told ESPN after the win.

    Misty Copeland — Soloist, American Ballet Theatre

    misty copeland under armour One of Under Armour's most prominent athletes isn't a basketball or soccer star, but a ballerina. Under Armour was drawn to Copeland's remarkable journey to becoming the second black soloist in the American Ballet Theatre, one of the world's premiere ballet companies. She made her deal last year.

    Clayton Kershaw — Pitcher, Los Angeles Dodgers

    Clayton KershawUnder Armour's bet on Kershaw when he was a rookie in 2008 ended up becoming one of its biggest successes. Kershaw ranks among the best pitchers in MLB, as a three-time Cy Young Award winner and four-time All-Star.

    Lindsey Vonn — Downhill skier, US Ski Team

    lindsey vonnVonn, a four-time gold medalist, has been with Under Armour since 2006 and remains a prominent spokesperson.

    Cam Newton — Quarterback, Carolina Panthers

    cam newton under armourUnder Armour pushed hard in 2011 to land the Heisman-winning quarterback before his rookie year in the NFL, paying what NBC said may have been the biggest apparel contract ever given to an NFL rookie. Newton remains a celebrity athlete in the league, and led the Panthers to their divisional championship last year, losing to the Seahawks.

    Buster Posey — Catcher, San Francisco Giants

    buster poseyPosey is another prospect Under Armour grabbed as a rookie in 2009, and today he's regarded as arguably the best catcher in baseball. He's a three-time World Series champion and National League MVP, among other accolades.

    Kelley O'Hara — Defender, US Women's National Team

    kelley o'haraO'Hara is another score from Nike, and emerged last year as one of the faces of Under Armour's "I Will What I Want" campaign for female athletes. She's one of the three players who played every minute of every game in the US Women's National Team's 2012 gold-medal run.

    Michael Phelps — Swimmer, US National Team

    michael phelps under armourPhelps, who signed his deal in 2010, may have been out of the spotlight for awhile, but he remains the most successful Olympian of all time with 22 medals and is training for next year's Olympics.

    There's a full roster of endorsement deals at Under Armour's website.

    SEE ALSO: Nike blew the door wide open for Under Armour's success

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    NOW WATCH: Misty Copeland explains how to get ripped like a dancer









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    Rolling Stones' Private Jet

    Things were already going pretty well for the University of Florida baseball team after clinching a spot in the College World Series. Things were going even better when they showed up at the airport and found out they were flying to Omaha on the Rolling Stones' tour plane.

    No, Mick Jagger and Co. are not Gators baseball fans (that we know of). Rather, how the Gators ended up on the jet was more about luck and circumstance, according to Scott Carter of the University of Florida athletic department.

    The plane, a Boeing 737-400, is a charter being used by the Stones for their 15-city "Zip Code Tour." After playing a show in Atlanta on Tuesday (June 9), the Stones flew to Orlando for their next show on Friday and did not have another show until Wednesday (June 17) in Nashville. The NCAA, which arranges the charters for the teams who qualify for the College World Series, was in the market for a nearby charter and the Stones' plane was available and matched the criteria the NCAA was looking for.

    Mick Jagger recently posed next to the plane.

    Minneapolis to Dallas#StonesZip

    Posted by Mick Jagger on Thursday, June 4, 2015

    Unfortunately for the Gators players — or maybe fortunately for the coaches — the inside of the plane was less like what you would expect from one of the world's greatest rock bands and more like a plane you would expect from a group of septuagenarians that the Stones are.

    Rolling Stones plane

    That shot is from a video posted by the University of the trip.

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    NOW WATCH: This is why LeBron James is in such good shape









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    dwayne the rock johnson

    Would you rather ask a celebrity for their insurance information after a car accident or for an Instagram photo?

    According to The Bleacher Report, Dwayne "The Rock" Johnson recently sideswiped a truck in Wakefield, Massachusetts, taking down another truck's side-view mirror.

    When the driver of the truck, a man named Audie Bridges, realized who was behind the wheel, he was too starstruck to accept any money, telling Johnson "this is gonna be an awesome story!" and assuring Johnson he would be able to fix the mirror himself.

    Then the two posed for a photo on Instagram.

    Johnson captioned the photo:

    He stared at me again, cocked his head sideways and said... 'Uhhh.. Are you The Rock?'. I said 'Yup.' He broke out into a huge smile and said 'Wow, this is gonna be an awesome story!'. I started belly laughing at that, then he started laughing and before you know it we're both standing in the middle of the street pointing to his mirror and laughing like two ol' crazy buddies.

    Here's the photo. At this time, it already has 462,000 likes. 

     on

     

    SEE ALSO: Dwayne 'The Rock' Johnson eats 800 pounds of cod a year

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    NOW WATCH: The Rock wrestles an earthquake in this awesome trailer for 'San Andreas'









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    St. Louis Cardinals owner Bill Dewitt Jr., Mike Matheny, and general manager John Mozeliak

    Investigators for the FBI and the Justice Department have discovered evidence that an internal network for the Houston Astros was broken into by members of the St. Louis Cardinals front office, according to Michael S. Schmidt of The New York Times.

    The network housed databases that were built by the team and contained "internal discussions about trades, proprietary statistics and scouting reports," according to investigators.

    Law-enforcement officials have already served subpoenas to the Cardinals and to Major League Baseball seeking electronic correspondence.

    An MLB spokesperson told The Times that it "has been aware of and has fully cooperated with the federal investigation into the illegal breach of the Astros’ baseball operations database."

    The attack is believed to have been carried out by "vengeful" front-office employees of the Cardinals against Astros GM Jeff Luhnow.

    Luhnow had previously worked ion the Cardinals front office before being hired by the Astros in 2011. According to the report, the network hacked with the Astros was similar to one built by Luhnow during his time with the Cardinals.

    It is believed the hackers gained access to the network by using passwords used by Luhnow and other former members of the Cardinals front office who joined Luhnow with the Astros. The FBI reportedly traced the hack to a home used by some members of the Cardinals front office.

    The investigation appears to have originated after documents believed to be from the Astros database were posted online and obtained by Deadspin. Those documents revealed nearly a year of internal discussions on potential trades by the Astros.

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    NOW WATCH: Here's One Theory To Explain The Declining Numbers Of Black Baseball Players









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    david blatt

    After the Golden State Warriors made the decision to go small in the NBA Finals, the Cleveland Cavaliers tried to mimic it in Game 5 and were unsuccessful.

    Cavs coach David Blatt only played center Timofey Mozgov — who was great in Game 4 — nine minutes in a Game 5 loss, opting for a small-ball unit that wore out in the fourth quarter.

    Now, down 3-2 and facing elimination in Game 6, Blatt has a huge decision to make: play Mozgov, or go small again to match the Warriors.

    Blatt started Mozgov in Game 5, but quickly pulled him when the seven-foot-one center couldn't keep up with Warriors' six-foot-seven, de-facto center Draymond Green. The Warriors push the pace and spread the floor when they go small, and Mozgov simply isn't nimble enough to keep up with them:

    Draymond Green dunk 1

    After Game 5, Blatt defended his thinking by saying the game was closer in Game 5, when the Cavs went small to match the Warriors, than in Game 4 when the Cavs stayed "big."

    By going small, the Cavs not only put quicker players better suited to keep up with the Warriors on the floor, they also move LeBron James to power forward where they can put an extra shooter around pick-and-rolls with him and Tristan Thompson.

    While the Cavs were able to keep up with the Warriors for three-and-a-half quarters in Game 5, they wore out down the stretch. Due to injuries, Cleveland has basically been playing a seven-man rotation. Though Blatt found more minutes for fringe players like Mike Miller and James Jones in Game 5, James and Thompson absorbed all of the extra frontcourt minutes and looked like they were out of gas by the end of the game.

    Additionally, Mozgov has been extremely useful to the Cavaliers on offense. With Mozgov on the floor in the Finals, the Cavs have a 101.3 offensive rating, which is eight points higher than their average in the series. Though LeBron is carrying an unprecedented offensive burden in these Finals, Mozgov has been key to the Cavs offense as a pick-and-roll big man that sucks in defenses when he rolls to the basket. He's also been the Cavs' best finisher at the rim, shooting nearly 72% in the restricted area in the Finals.

    The size disadvantage goes both ways. While Mozgov may struggle to contain Green on defense, his size creates mismatches on offense and on rebounds. The Cavs have been the better rebounding team in the Finals, collecting 50.6% of all misses, but that number shoots up to 56% with Mozgov on the floor. If the Cavs control the boards, it limits the number of possessions the Warriors get.

    These Finals have been about each team making adjustments from one game to the next in hopes of finding small advantages in a surprisingly competitive series. With the Cavs facing elimination, Blatt needs to decide whether his best move would be to make an adjustment or stick to his guns.

    Join the conversation about this story »

    NOW WATCH: This is why LeBron James is in such good shape









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    Every year, EA Sports' Madden 16 game is a huge hit among NFL fans that play console games. And every year the game gets a little better.

    Madden has taken huge steps recently on next-gen consoles Xbox One and Playstation 4. EA Sports just rolled out a new trailer with footage directly from gameplay video from it's next version at the E3 event in L.A. It looks so realistic you can't believe you're watching a video game.

    Produced By Matt Johnston. Video courtesy of EA Sports.
     
    Follow BI Video:On Facebook

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    Giancarlo Stanton

    The FBI and the Justice Department's investigation into whether St. Louis Cardinals front office personnel hacked into a network used by the Houston Astros was launched after documents from the network were posted to a hacking forum, according to Michael S. Schmidt of the New York Times.

    The documents were originally posted online at Anonbin.com, an anonymous forum used for sharing hacked or leaked information, and were later obtained by Deadspin and published in 2014.

    While the hacked database reportedly also contained "proprietary statistics and scouting reports," the leaked documents focused on internal discussions about trades covering the month leading up to the 2013 trade deadline (July 31) and several months of the offseason leading up to the 2014 season.

    The most eye-opening revelation was that the Houston Astros had a very good shot to trade for Miami Marlins slugger Giancarlo Stanton, one of the biggest young stars in the sport, but balked at the asking price. Here is the relevant memo posted by Deadspin:

    "[Astros GM Jeff Luhnow] talked to [Marlins GM Dan Jennings] and said we had interest in Stanton. DJ said he doesn't think he'll trade Stanton and the only deal he could think of from us that would work would be [George] Springer and [Carlos] Correa. JL said that would not work. JL posited a deal around [Jarred] Cosart and [Delino] Deshields."

    On the surface, the chance to land one of the best young hitters in baseball would be a no-brainer for the Astros and it is a little shocking that it doesn't appear that they pursued this further. At the same time, there were good reasons for the Astros to reject the deal.

    At the time, both Springer (No. 37) and Correa (No. 13) were among the top 40 prospects in baseball, according to Baseball America. The Astros were also neck-deep in a rebuilding project focusing on young and inexpensive talent. They also still a couple of years away from contending and it is easy to imagine that the front office plan was being built around those two players.

    Carlos Correa #1 of the Houston Astros talks with Jake Marisnick #6 and George Springer #4

    In addition, while Stanton was still three years away from potential free agency in 2013, he was just months away from getting his first big payday as an arbitration-eligible player. He eventually signed a one-year, $5.5 million contract for the 2014 season before agreeing to a record $325 million contract this past off-season.

    Whether or not the Astros would have ever been able to sign Stanton to a long-term extension is anybody's guess. But based on how they have operated in recent years, it is unlikely that they would have ever offered $325 million and Stanton may have eventually left the team following the 2016 season, if not sooner via a trade.

    Meanwhile, Springer has been a key piece for the first-place Astros this season, on pace to hit .269 with a .373 OBP and 25 home runs, while Correa entered the season as Baseball America's No. 6 prospect and was recently called up by the Astros.

    Still, it is hard to deny Stanton's talent as one of the two or three best young hitters in baseball and one of the biggest young stars in sports. That kind of player doesn't come along very often and if you have a chance to get him, it is hard to pass up.

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    Colin Kaepernick

    The San Francisco 49ers endured a disastrous offseason with the loss of multiple starters to free agency and retirement. But as a result of all those departures, the 49ers will have a significant amount of financial flexibility in 2016.

    The retirements of Patrick Willis, Justin Smith, Chris Borland, and Anthony Davis alone have freed up $25 million of cap space next year and $40 million in 2017, according to ESPN's Adam Schefter. In total, SB Nation reports the 49ers are on track to have $38 million to spend next year, and $61 million in 2017.

    This is particularly important because 2016's free agency class is expected to be one of the strongest in years.

    Players that are currently slated to become free agents next year, and who the 49ers may attempt to target, include:

    • Demaryius Thomas, wide receiver
    • A.J. Green, wide receiver
    • Julio Joneswide receiver
    • Dez Bryantwide receiver
    • T.Y. Hilton, wide receiver
    • Alshon Jefferey, wide receiver
    • Justin Houston, outside linebacker
    • Von Miller, outside linebacker
    • Muhammad Wilkerson, defensive tackle
    • Marcell Dareus, defensive tackle
    • Eric Weddle, safety
    • Trent Williams, left tackle
    • Jason Pierre-Paul, defensive end
    • Bobby Wagner, middle linebacker
    • Phillip Rivers, quarterback
    • Eli Manning, quarterback

    While some of these players will get the franchise tag and others will re-sign with their current teams, many will still hit the open market. Having $38 million of wiggle room will allow the 49ers to not only re-sign their own players, but also go after other high-level players who are set to hit the open market.

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    NOW WATCH: Here's Why NFL Fans Are Getting Screwed When It Comes To Watching Football









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    iggy on lebron

    Andre Iguodala has emerged as a vital member of the Golden State Warriors in the NBA Finals.

    Iguodala has been tasked with guarding LeBron James, and has done a good enough job that he stole a starting spot from center Andrew Bogut in a series-changing adjustment from coach Steve Kerr.

    While nobody "stops" LeBron, Iguodala has done a commendable job on him. According to ESPN's Micah Adams, LeBron is shooting just 18-for-54 (33%) when guard by Iguodala. 

    In Lee Jenkins' excellent SI article on Iguodala's importance to the Warriors, Jenkins notes how Iguodala has literally been preparing for his matchups with LeBron for 11 years. Over the course of his career, Iguodala has noted how to defend LeBron's every move:

    "[Iguodala] entered the NBA out of Arizona a year after James, drafted ninth by the 76ers in 2004, and immediately began composing a mental manual on how to halt him. The 6' 6", 215-pound Iguodala developed a similar guide for every small forward, but James was a particularly compelling subject, and they faced off regularly in the Eastern Conference. With each matchup Iguodala added another page, until he knew James’s tendencies as well as his own. 'That book is crazy big now,' says Iguodala, 31. 'What he does in the post, what he does when he goes left, what he does when he comes at me like this.' Iguodala wriggles his shoulders, miming James’s open-floor shimmy. He has spent more than a decade preparing for the assignment that will define his career."

    When judging LeBron's basic numbers these Finals, it doesn't appear that Iguodala has done much to slow him down. However, James has been taking a ton of shots this series, and his efficiency has decreased as a result. Iguodala, one of the few players physically capable of keeping up with James, has helped make the high volume of shots even tougher.

    Iguodala can't flat-out stop LeBron from getting into the paint, but he's got the speed, length, and agility to then force him back out into tougher shots:

    Iggy defense on LeBron 1

    Iguodala's defense, along with his playmaking, respectable shooting, and rebounding, have made him one of the frontrunners for Finals MVP. There's an argument that LeBron should win it, even if the Cavaliers lose. However, of any player on the Warriors, Iguodala has had the most impact on both sides of the ball, and he's been the most consistent over six games.

    Iguodala's impact on the Warriors has been profound. When he's on the court in the Finals, the Warriors are only giving up 92 points per 100 possessions and outscoring the Cavs by nearly 15 points per 100 possessions. When Iguodala is on the bench, the Cavs are scoring nearly 98 points per 100 possessions, and the Warriors have a minus-2.8 net rating.

    Iguodala has gone from an important sixth man for the Warriors this season to arguably their most important player in this series. Though LeBron has still had his way, the series turned after Kerr went small, put Iguodala in the starting lineup, and stuck him on James.

    Join the conversation about this story »

    NOW WATCH: Here's how Cristiano Ronaldo spends his money









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    Chambers Bay Golf Course

    The U.S. Open is always the toughest tournament of the year on the PGA Tour but this year's championship is being played Chambers Bay in University Place, Washington — a course that is only eight years old and is unlike anything that has ever been seen at a U.S. Open.

    This has led to some harsh criticism from the players. After playing the course in April, Ryan Palmer said Chambers Bay "is not a championship golf course" in an interview with USA Today.

    Listening to the players speak about the course, there are several big reasons the course is going to be tough and why some players hate it.

    1. The unknown.

    Tiger Woods explained to the media on Tuesday that nobody knows how the PGA organizers will set up the course and it will have a huge impact on how the course is played. In addition to highly variable hole placements on large greens, the course can play anywhere from 7,300-7,900 yards depending on where the PGA decides to set up the tee boxes from day to day.

    "It's certainly different for a U.S. Open, that's for sure," Woods told the media. "We normally play pretty traditional golf courses where it's back tees, narrow fairways, high rough, and super-hard, fast greens."

    The tee areas on some holes are extremely long, and where the box is set up will have an impact on both yardage ...

    Chambers Bay Golf Course

    ... and the angles the players have to use off the tee:

    Chambers Bay Golf Course

    2. It's a links course.

    There is only one tree on the entire course, more like the traditional Open Championship courses in Great Britain. There are also large seas of bunkers.

    Chambers Bay Golf course

    3. But it's a links course unlike any other links course.

    "Unlike any links golf we play, we don't have elevation changes like this," said Woods. "You are going to get some funky bounces out there. Balls are going to roll and catch slopes."

    Chambers Bay Golf Course

    4. The greens are large and unforgiving.

    The greens are huge and many are predicting that the greens are going to be hard and fast, with Woods describing 70-80-foot putts that have to travel over large mounds.

    "The green complexes are something else," Palmer told USA Today. "With some of the pin placements, you will see some guys play it 30 yards left, 30 yards right or 30 yards long, and next thing you know you'll have a 2 footer. Or you'll be 75 feet from the pin ... Every green has like five or six greens on it."

    Chambers Bay

    5. It is not even clear where greens start and end.

    Some recent warm weather has dried the course, something that has left what appears to be no discernible transition from fairway to green. In some cases, the edges of greens are marked with white markers. 

     

    6. The course is extremely dry.

    Graeme McDowell noted that the course is so dry that as fast as the greens are, there are places where the fairways are even faster.

    Here is what the 5th hole looked like last August.

    Chambers Bay Golf Course

    And here is what the same hole looks like this week.

    Chambers Bay Golf Course

    7. That speed is also going to have a bigger impact than usual on tee times.

    "I think one of the more dramatic things I have noticed is how different it plays from morning to afternoon," Woods said. "It gets so much faster and drier. You just feel it as the day wears on, how much this golf course can dry out and it certainly will. The morning times versus the afternoon times are just very different."

    That extra speed may come in handy on the fairways when they are straight. But on the greens and other fairways, like No. 11, it will be nightmare.

    8. And don't forget the sprinklers.

    Woods said it will be interesting to see how the sprinklers will impact the tournament noting that they are so close to the greens players could land on them and be forced to take a drop.

    "Sprinklers are literally sometimes six inches off the green," said Woods. "Some of the hole locations, if you fire at it, you are firing right over sprinklers where you need to land it."

    Tiger Woods

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    The Cleveland Cavaliers are on the brink of elimination in the NBA Finals. If they can't win Games 6 and 7 against the Golden State Warriors, it will extend a dubious mark in professional sports in North America.

    Of the cities in North America with at least one team in one of the four major sports, no city has seen more seasons played across the four major sports since their last championship than Cleveland. If the Cavs lose the Finals, it will be the 144th straight pro sports season without a title. No other city is even close.

    Cleveland Sports Chart

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    Donald Trump Tour de Trump cycling John Kerry

    Donald Trump, who on Tuesday announced that he's running for president of the United States, attacked US Secretary of State John Kerry for going "into a bicycle race at 72 years old" and saying that he himself "will never be in a bicycle race."

    Here's the quote, via a transcript from The Wall Street Journal (emphasis added):

    I will stop Iran from getting nuclear weapons. And we won’t be using a man like Secretary Kerry that has absolutely no concept of negotiation, who’s making a horrible and laughable deal, who’s just being tapped along as they make weapons right now, and then goes into a bicycle race at 72 years old, and falls and breaks his leg. I won’t be doing that. And I promise I will never be in a bicycle race. That I can tell you.

    But Kerry wasn't racing; he was just riding his bike. There's a big difference.

    It was also unclear exactly what Trump meant by saying "at 72." His words suggest he thinks one shouldn't be cycling or "racing" at that age. But recent precedent defies that logic. Did you hear about Robert Marchand, who at 102 can't stop setting world cycling records? (I wrote about him here.)

    Trump's comments about cycling are odd, especially considering that Trump once sponsored the biggest bicycle race in America — the Tour de Trump — which ran for two years, 1989-1990, before being taken over by DuPont.

    Tour de Trump

    Talking to NBC in 1989 before the start of the inaugural race, Trump said, "I really look to the future. I always do with investments, with deals, with anything, and I think this is an event that can be tremendous in the future."

    When Trump was asked where he saw the Tour de Trump in 10 years, he said:

    "I would like to make this the equivalent of the Tour de France."

    Trump's race lasted two years.

    The Tour de Trump was a weeklong stage race that took riders up and down the East Coast. Trump told The New York Times in 1989 that one day the race might even run from coast to coast.

    But according to The Times, soon enough "DuPont stepped in to create the Tour Du Pont after Donald Trump ended his multimillion-dollar involvement in the two-year-old race over the summer because of his real-estate organization's financial troubles."

    In the same NBC interview, Trump was asked if he'd ever go into politics, and he said:

    "I don't see myself as a politician. I think I speak my mind perhaps too bluntly. I like to tell the truth. I am not sure a great politician can always tell the truth."

    Asked when was the last time he rode a bike, Trump said it was when he was 7 or 8 years old.

    As Jason Gay of The Wall Street Journal recently reported, Kerry is an "incredible" athlete. Gay quoted former pro cyclist Jonathan Vaughters as saying:

    “A lot of times, you go on rides with executives or dignitaries or VIPs and it’s a very, very casually paced ride,” Vaughters said Sunday. “But Kerry is the real deal—fit, fast, confident. If he raced in his age category, he’d be one of the top riders in the U.S.”

    The secretary of state recently spent a week in the hospital after breaking his leg while riding his bike in France.

    John Kerry cycling slammed by Donald Trump

    donald trump playing golf

    While Kerry was recovering from surgery, he tweeted from his hospital room:

    He was out in a week:

    John Kerry

    Watch this video below to hear Trump talk about his short-lived bicycle race, the Tour de Trump, in 1989:

    SEE ALSO: Millionaire entrepreneur explains why cycling — and not golf — is the new sport of choice for young professionals

    DON'T MISS: A brutal photo of an American cyclist after he lost a weeklong race on the very last climb

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    stephen curry nba finals

    In a classic series between the league's best team and the league's best player, the Golden State Warriors beat the Cleveland Cavaliers in six games to win the NBA title.

    With Kevin Love out for the year, Kyrie Irving injured in Game 1, and J.R. Smith and Iman Shumpert mired in shooting slumps, LeBron James turned in one of the most extraordinary one-man performances in Finals history. He took on the role of creator, distributor, and scorer. He played, at times, point guard, center, and forward. He led his team in points, rebounds, and assists. Game 6, a 105-97 loss, was his weakest game of the series, and he still had 32 points, 18 rebounds, and nine assists.

    He did everything an individual player can conceivably do in a series, but it was ultimately an impossible task. The Warriors were simply too good. They were the deeper, fresher, more skilled team in the Finals, and Stephen Curry and Co. lifting the trophy was the proper ending to a dominant season.

    lebron james

    The turning point of the series came in Game 4.

    Down 2-1 on the road, the Warriors decided to go all-in on a small-ball lineup they'd used as a sort of secret weapon all year. They brought Andre Iguodala into the starting lineup in place of Andrew Bogut, and played the six-foot-seven Draymond Green at center. It worked. Golden State finally got rolling offensively in a comfortable win in Game 4, despite a dominant performance from Cavs big man Timofey Mozgov. That game spooked Cavs coach David Blatt so much that he benched Mozgov for almost all of Game 5, which the Warriors won anyway with a strong fourth-quarter push. Blatt brought back Mozgov for Game 6, but it wasn't enough, and the Warriors beat the fatigued Cavaliers to win the series.

    Iguodala, who didn't start a game this year until Game 4, won Finals MVP.

    Curry was overshadowed by LeBron for much of the series, but he came up big in the final three games. As the Cavs tried to mount one final comeback in Game 6, Curry hit two huge threes and created another one with an assist to put Cleveland away for good:

    It was a great Finals. We had unlikely heroes of all shapes and sizes, close games, and intricate strategic adjustments on the fly. But mostly we got a great player trying to beat a great team by himself, making everyone believe he actually could before the inevitable prevailed.

    The moment Golden State clinched it:

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    stephen curry shooting

    Stephen Curry, the NBA's MVP, broke his own record for most three-pointers in a season this year.

    As a 44% career three-point shooter who's made an average of nearly 200 three-pointers per season, he's on pace to crush the record for most all-time three-pointers.

    Between a smooth stroke and deft ball-handling ability, Curry is practically unguardable, a threat 30 feet from the basket that can single-handedly change defensive schemes.

    Curry's rise to becoming the best shooter in the NBA, and perhaps all-time, comes from a pattern of hard work and intense preparation that has paid off immensely.

    Here's some of how he did it.

    1. His father, Dell, played 16 seasons in the NBA and shot 40% from three for his career.

    So maybe some of of Steph's skill comes from genetics. His father, Dell, was widely considered one of the best shooters in the NBA when he played.

    Curry was apparently a great shooter from the beginning. ESPN's Tom Friend wrote a great profile detailing Steph and Dell's relationship (along with Klay Thompson and his father, Mychal, who played in the NBA). Dell told Friend that when he played for the Bucks, he and 11-year-old Steph would regularly compete against other NBA players in H-O-R-S-E competitions during practice and the two would consistently win.

    2. He's hard-working and fiercely competitive.

    These are, of course, common traits in professional athletes, but it takes an exceptionally competitive and determined person to become, perhaps literally, the best at any one skill. This is also comes with a sort of killer instinct.

    According to Sports Illustrated's Lee Jenkins, Curry was torching people on the court before he was even in high school. Dell told Jenkins that he once left one of Curry's eighth grade games early because he was beating the other team so badly. "I had to get out of there," Dell said. "I felt bad for the other team. I couldn’t watch what he was doing to those kids."

    Curry's college coach, Bob McKillop, said Curry was consistently the hardest-working player at Davidson and told Cory Collins of Sporting News that Curry had a "fire that raged within him."

    Stephen Curry

    3. He re-taught himself how to shoot in high school to adapt to bigger, better players.

    Though Curry is now 6'3", he was a late-bloomer and before he grew he reportedly used to shoot a sort of flick shot that he released from his chest. As his competition got bigger and better, Dell helped Curry change his shooting form so that his release point was above his head. He had to re-learn how to shoot the ball.

    Curry told SI's Chris Ballard it was "the most frustrating summer," saying:

    "I really couldn't shoot outside the paint for like the first three weeks. All summer when I was at camps people were like, 'Who are you, why are you playing basketball?' I was really that bad for a month and a half [before] I finally figured it out."

    4. He uses an insane "flashing lights" test to work on his ball-handling while improving his reflexes and focus.

    Curry told Ron Kroichick of the San Francisco Chronicle:

    "The lights mimic what’s happening on the court. If there’s a defender in front of me, then I’ve got to know where he is and still be ready to initiate whatever move I’m going to make."

    The test looks dizzying:

    Stephen Curry dribbling drill GIF

    Curry works diligently on his ball-handling, not just because he has the ball most as the Warriors point guard, but he also can use his dribbling to create shots for himself. When he gets open, he can quickly seize the opportunity:

    Stephen Curry crossover Chris Paul

    Warriors coach Steve Kerr told Kroichick, "[Curry] has the best skill set I’ve ever seen in terms of the combination of shooting and ballhandling, along with speed and quickness.”

    5. He practices a combination of fundamental and extremely detailed footwork that allows him to move, get into rhythm, and be ready to shoot easily and quickly.

    The idea is that if Curry can master the actual physical movements he needs, the rest can come naturally. SI's Rob Mahoney profiled some of Curry's behind-the-scenes work, with Curry telling him:

    "We do a warm-up drill every day that we practice where we literally work on just pivoting, stepping through, and pick-and-roll footwork. Just break it down, step by step. Those things happen so many times in a game that you might take it for granted—just the coordination it takes to be explosive in certain situations on the floor. So we work on that in practice. Outside of that, I just kind of work on footwork in moves that I normally will make in a game, whether it's dribble moves into shots or the footwork coming off a screen, things like that. You drill that while you're getting shots up so that you'll obviously be efficient and make your workouts tough. But staying on top of that simple fundamental makes you a little bit faster, a little bit more creative, a little bit more efficient on the floor."

    Warriors assistant Bruce Fraser added, "He's always constantly pushing himself to make shots challenging so that when he gets in the game he's done that a lot.”

    Curry puts so much work into his craft that he's able to get away with some of the most ridiculous shots in the NBA. Few players can even pull off this move, let alone make the shot and make it look good:

    Stephen Curry 3 pointer vs Clippers gif

    6. Finally, Curry gets up plenty of shots.

    Lee Jenkins describes a shooting drill that Curry does in which he takes 10 shots from five different locations on the three-point line, going back and forth until he takes 100. According to Jenkins, former Warriors assistant coach Brian Scalabrine told Curry that Kyle Korver does the drill, calling Korver the best spot-up shooter in the NBA.

    Curry took offense to the title and now does the drill regularly. Jenkins describes the scene as Curry does it:

    Curry sets up in the right corner and splashes nine of 10. "Good," says special assistant Nick U’Ren, rebounding for him. Curry moves to the right wing and cans 10 of 10. "Better," U’Ren nods. Curry skips to the top of the circle and drains 10 of 10 again. U’Ren turns to a couple of spectators under the basket. "Wow," he mouths. Here it is, the Curry Zone. He starts 48 of 50...He sweeps back across the perimeter, hitting 10 of 10 from the left corner, 10 of 10 from the left wing. Teammates are watching. Cameras are filming. "Don’t get giddy," Curry tells himself. He’s made 77 in a row, and when he finally misfires from the top of the circle, he grabs Green’s jersey and screams. He finishes 94 of 100. 

    Fraser also told Jenkins that Curry will occasionally get "bored" with the drill and become less accurate. That's when coaches and staff challenge him other drills and shooting competitions, which Fraser says, "He needs the action. And when he gets it, he just snaps on."

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    lebron james nba finals press conference

    After one of the most extraordinary, physically demanding NBA Finals performances ever, LeBron James wondered what the point was.

    In an honest moment at his postgame news conference, LeBron acknowledged he sometimes thought he would rather not make the playoffs at all than lose in the Finals. His full quote is great (h/t ASAP Sports):

    Well, of course you question it, especially when you get to this point. I always look at it would I rather not make the playoffs or lose in The Finals? I don't know. I don't know. I've missed the playoffs twice. I lost in The Finals four times. I'm almost starting to be like I'd rather not even make the playoffs than to lose in The Finals. It would hurt a lot easier if I just didn't make the playoffs and I didn't have a shot at it.

    But then I lock back in and I start thinking about how fun it is to compete during the playoffs and the first round, the second round, and Eastern Conference Finals. If I'm lucky enough to get here again, it will be fun to do it.

    But put my body through a lot, you know, but it's the price for your body feeling this way for winning. Did I win? I didn't win a championship, but I've done a lot of good things in this first year back, and hopefully I can continue it.

    A lot has been made about how physically exhausting this series has been for LeBron, and rightfully so. One sports scientist called LeBron's workload "unfathomable" and said the only thing that compared to it in sports was the Tour de France. LeBron averaged 45.7 minutes a game, or to put it another way, he rested for an average of 2 minutes 42 seconds a game. And that's on top of the ~18,000 minutes he has played since 2010 — 2,000 more than anyone else in the NBA. Preparing his body for game after game became an around-the-clock undertaking.

    LeBron James Chart

    So yeah, LeBron's literal point that making it to the Finals takes a physical toll is taken.

    The idea that LeBron is getting at here — that there is a point at which being mediocre is preferable to risking the pain it takes to be exceptional — is universal. But you almost never hear athletes actually say it. We expect athletes to say winning is everything. In that sense we hold them to a higher standard than ourselves.

    At LeBron's news conference, he was asked a question to which athletes automatically respond with the "winning is everything" cliché. But this time, an exhausted LeBron just said what was actually in his head. In three weeks, he would say of course I'd rather make the Finals than miss the playoffs. In that moment though, he wasn't so sure, and it gives you a sense of the toll the series took on him.

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    warriors

    The Golden State Warriors won the NBA title Tuesday night, beating the Cleveland Cavaliers in an exciting six-game series.

    Golden State's ascent has been gradual, but now that they've reached the top, they could remain there for the foreseeable future.

    Along with a core of young talent and valuable veterans, the Warriors have a key advantage over the rest of the league: those core players are all on team-friendly contracts for the next several years.

    This starts with Stephen Curry, who, when he signed a four-year, $44 million contract extension in 2012, was still somewhat of an unknown. He was one of the league's best shooters and a skilled ball-handler, but there major questions about recurring ankle issues that some thought could derail his career, and he was yet to become the crafty defender he turned into this season. Now, the league's MVP, best shooter, and arguably best point guard is under contact for $23 million total until 2017 — a huge bargain.

    Curry's backcourt partner, Klay Thompson, is set to become the Warriors' highest-paid player in the next several seasons, making an average of $17 million per year. While that number may seem like a lot, the Warriors handled his contract extension wisely last fall, and it too will be a bargain in a few seasons when the salary cap explodes with the league's new TV deal.

    The Warriors basically gave Thompson a fake max contract at the beginning of the season. A true max contract allows a player to make 25-35% of the league's salary cap (depending on how many years they've been in the league) with 4.5-7.5% yearly raises. With the NBA's salary cap set to jump, if the Warriors gave Thompson a true max, his yearly salary would skyrocket because the percentage of the cap he'd make would be higher. Instead, the Warriors locked him into the equivalent of a max contract now, which will be a bargain in two years when the cap is way higher and true max contracts are worth millions more.

    Additionally, the Warriors also have a strong supporting cast of veterans locked into affordable deals. Andre Iguodala, the Finals MVP and LeBron-stopper extraordinaire, is set to make about $22 million through 2017. Andrew Bogut (though he disappeared in the Finals) is their defensive anchor and actually has a contract that descends in yearly value, as he makes $23 million through 2017. Shaun Livingston, a lengthy, valuable backup point guard will make just $11 million through 2017. Harrison Barnes is still under his rookie contract, making only $3.8 million this season if the Warriors pick up his team option.

    For next season, these six contracts combine for a total of $60 million — $7 million under next year's projected salary cap. In 2016-17, Curry, Thompson, Bogut, Iguodala, and Livingston (leaving out Barnes) will combine for just $56 million when the salary cap is $88 million.

    The biggest question going forward is how the Warriors will handle Draymond Green and David Lee's futures. Green is a restricted free agent who's become so good at the increasingly important "playmaking four" position that he rendered Lee, a former All-Star making $15 million per season, a bench player. Green will likely get a max offer this offseason, and the Warriors can decide whether or not to match. It's widely assumed the Warriors will bring back Green at any price, but it's unclear if they'll make the first move and offer him a max or let other teams, who can't legally offer as much as the Warriors, offer a contract and then match.

    Lee proved in the Finals that he still has value, and next season he'll be on an expiring contract, which makes him a good trade chip. The Warriors will likely try to trade him, which will only improve their advantage over the rest of the league, cutting $15 million from their payroll.

    If Green gets a full max contract from Golden State, the Warriors will have a core of stars in Curry, Thompson, and Green making a combined $43 million next season, about two-thirds of the cap. In 2016-17, when the cap is $88 million, the three will be making a combined $46 million. With the team-friendly deals of Bogut, Iguodala, and Livingston thrown in, the Warriors will have a solid core of six players making a combined $74 million.

    The NBA champs, depending on how they handle their roster over the next year, could have cap space in 2016.

    Of course, this advantage can only last so long. In 2017, when the cap is projected to be a whopping $107 million and max contracts will stray above $30 million per year, Curry will be a free agent. Given that he's likely to be only the third-highest player on the team over the next two years, it seems certain he'll want his first chance at a max contract. Additionally, by then, Iguodala and Bogut will be free agents and on the backend of their careers. Given what the Warriors did to handle Thompson's fake max contract, there's a possibility Green could opt for a short-term contract so he can become a free agent again in a few years when he can earn more money.

    The NBA is designed to keep teams from building juggernauts that can last for years and years. The Warriors have lucked into some team-friendly contracts, but they've also managed building a strong, affordable core. Barring an unforeseen, dramatic roster shift, this Warriors team should stay in tact for the next two years, with the ability to add pieces as they go. 

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    Clint Dempsey

    Clint Dempsey received a red card and was sent off during the Seattle Sounders' loss to their rival Portland Timbers on Tuesday night in the fourth round of the US Open Cup, and he now faces the possibility of a three-month suspension.

    With the Sounders already down to nine players and having just given up the go-ahead goal in extra time on what appeared to be an offside play, midfielder Micheal Azira was given a red card for elbowing a Timbers player in the head.

    As the referee was attempting to log the ejection into his score sheet, he seemed ready to give Dempsey a yellow card for arguing. Dempsey then walked up to the ref, grabbed the sheet out of his hands, and tossed it aside. Dempsey then went back, picked up the sheet and ripped it up. At this point, the ref presented Dempsey with a yellow card followed by a red card and sent him off, leaving the Sounders with just seven players to finish the match.

    According to Sam Borden of The New York Times, this action by Dempsey qualified as "referee assault," which carries a suspension of at least three months.

    For good measure, as Dempsey was walking off the pitch, he mockingly clapped right in the face of one of the assistant referees before spitting off to the side.

    Clint Dempsey

    The Sounders surrendered one more goal and lost 3-1 in a match that was marred by several odd and ugly moments, including a weird situation in which the Sounders had to switch from their black jerseys to white jerseys at halftime because the referee would not force the "visiting" Timbers to wear a more contrasting color than dark green.

    6 17 2015 9 06 55 AM

    After the match, Sounders manager Sigi Schmid expressed his frustration with the officiating. When asked why he left the bench area before the end of the match, he didn't mince his words.

    "I didn't want to get thrown out, so I just walked away from the bench because I was maybe going to choke a referee," Schmid told the media.

    You can see the full sequence of Dempsey's ejection at the 7:01 mark of this video.

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