Warriors

Meet the 2012 Masters champion

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Meet the 2012 Masters champion

From Comcast SportsNet
AUGUSTA, Ga. (AP) -- Sometimes, winning a golf tournament or putting on a green jacket can change a guy's life. Bubba Watson insists he's not that guy. Maybe that explains his ability to pull off the impossible when the pressure was boiling over at the Masters on Sunday. Perched atop pine needles far right of the fairway with a better view of a TV tower than the green, the left-hander hooked his way out of trouble and into history. His 155-yard curveball landed on the green and beat South Africa's Louis Oosthuizen on the second hole of a playoff and turned Oosthuizen's double eagle earlier in the round into the second-best shot on a day filled with magic at Augusta National. While Oosthuizen failed to get up and down from in front of the green, Watson wrapped it up with a no-stress two-putt on the 10th green to clinch his first major, then sobbed hard on his mother's shoulder. A bittersweet celebration. His father, Gerry, died 18 months ago after a long bout with cancer. But waiting at home for him is his wife, Angie, and their adopted newborn son, Caleb. "The thing is, golf is not my everything," Watson said. "But for me to come out here and win, it's awesome for a week and then we get back to real life. I haven't changed a diaper yet, so I'm probably going to have to change a diaper soon." Watson insists the shot that earned him the green jacket wasn't as ridiculously hard as it looked. Mostly because of his attitude. He hasn't taken formal lessons and insists he has never hit a ball perfectly straight. His motto, as he explained to caddie Ted Scott on the day they met six years ago: "If I have a swing, I have a shot." So when he blocked the tee shot on No. 10 into the woods, behind the gallery, onto the pine straw, way back in jail, he felt no sense of panic. "I get down there, saw it was a perfect draw," Watson said. "Even though the tower was in my way, I didn't want to ask if I could get relief or anything, because it just set up for a perfect draw -- well, hook. That's what we did. We just kept talking about you never know what's going to happen out here. Anything can happen." Can and pretty much did on this day. The excitement started with a pair of holes-in-1 on No. 16 by Adam Scott and Bo Van Pelt, each of whom was playing for position, not the championship. The fireworks really started when the leaders got on the course. Standing on the fairway, 253 yards from the hole on the par-5 second, Oosthuizen hit a 4-iron that bounced on the front of the green, then rolled toward a cup that looked like it had a magnet in it. The ball dropped and the South African was the owner of the fourth double-eagle 2 in Masters history and the first on the second hole -- to say nothing of a two-shot lead that moments earlier had been a one-shot deficit. He held that lead for most of the day, but realized as the round went on that there's nowhere else to go after you've touched the sun. "When something like that happens early in your round, you think that this is it," Oosthuizen said. "That was my first double eagle ever. So it was tough. It was tough the next five holes to just get my head around it and just play the course." He played it solidly, if not spectacularly, and finished at 10-under 278. Watson, meanwhile, saved his charge for where they usually come at Augusta -- the back nine on Sunday. He made a tricky 6-foot putt on No. 13 to start a string of four straight birdies. The fourth one put him in a tie for the lead and the leaders, in the same twosome, finished par-par to set up the first playoff at Augusta since Angel Cabrera of Argentina won in 2009. There was a four-way tie for third at 8 under -- Britain's Lee Westwood, Sweden's Peter Hanson, Matt Kuchar and Phil Mickelson. Mickelson, going for his fourth green jacket, looked like the favorite coming into the day but dug himself a hole on No. 4 -- a 10-minute sitcom that could've been titled "Typical Phil." There was the tee shot off a railing and into the trees, well left of the green; the two right-handed hacks from the woods, the first of which popped up and moved about a foot; the blown flop shot from a trampled down area where the fans had been standing; then, of course, an out-of-this-world up and down from the sand to save 6. "There was no place to go other than back to the tee," Mickelson said, referring to his decision not to take an unplayable lie. "So I took the risk of trying to hit it a few times." His wasn't the ugliest shot of the day. That belonged to Hanson, who hit a dead shank on the par-3 12th, a shot so bad it didn't even make it close to Rae's Creek. He entered the day with the lead and shot 73. "I think it was a good test," Hanson said. "I mean, like I said yesterday, it was a good test of emotion, being out, how I can handle myself." Westwood got in the mix, but it was a double-bogey 6 on Friday that more or less gave him too big a deficit to overcome. He shot 68, matching Watson for the best final round among the top six. But it's a guy named Bubba who was celebrating his first major while Westwood still waits. And Oosthuizen remains stuck on one major -- the 2010 British Open -- and clearly in awe of what he witnessed at the end. "I had no idea where he was," Oosthuizen said. "Where I stood from, when the ball came out, it looked like a curveball. Unbelievable shot. That shot he hit definitely won him the tournament." Watson is the fifth left-hander to don a green jacket over the last 10 years and gives Americans back-to-back majors -- Keegan Bradley won the PGA Championship -- after they'd gone a record six straight without. This one will be celebrated back home in Florida, with little Caleb in his arms and his father in his thoughts. "He'd say, You still need to practice. You missed that fairway. You were under the trees a couple of times. You missed the first putt,'" Watson said with a smile. "No, he would be excited. Just like my mom was excited. We didn't have any words. We just cried in each other's arms."

Curry takes 'unpopular position' on All-Star draft, has picked assistant GMs

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Curry takes 'unpopular position' on All-Star draft, has picked assistant GMs

Steph Curry will be one of the leading players in the NBA's new experiment with the All-Star Game.

Curry and LeBron James will pick the teams from the pool of available All-Stars. Conferences are no more, giving the game a completely different look.

"It's the first time it's happened in the league, so you really don't know what to expect or how it's going to unfold, and just specifically, what it will look like on the floor with mixmatched rosters. LeBron has been an All-Star, what 14 straight years? And he's been with Eastern Conference guys every year, so to see him have to pick some Western Conference guys and vica versa, us in the West, you have the staple guys that are there every year. So to switch it up, I think it's going to be a fun look on the floor. Might take some getting used to, but the actual draft part of it will be cool<' Curry said to reporters after shootaround in Houston on Saturday.

LeBron has the first pick since he received more total votes than Curry. So that sets up the dynamic that LeBron picks Warriors forward Kevin Durant.

"That's a possibility. I'm putting together an assistant GM staff that can help me get my draft board and all that stuff and know how to respond if he picks a certain way. Get the algorythm going," Curry said.

Curry's assistant GM staff will consist of his father Dell and brother Seth.

"I may have to ask Riley and see what she thinks," Curry joked.

All-Star reserves will be announced on Tuesday, Jan. 23 and it's possible Draymond Green and Klay Thompson could be among the players Curry can select. Does he feel an obligation to pick them if they are available?

"I don't feel obligated. I would want to. To have the opportunity to play with them on the All-Star Game court, that's what it's all about, kind of embracing that moment, so we'll see how it goes," Curry said.

The big debate surrounding the new All-Star Game format is whether or not the draft should be televised or the results made public. As of right now, the NBA has no plans to show the draft on TV or reveals the order in which players were drafted.

"We've had a lot of dicsussions around that. There's a lot of people in favor of watching it live. There's also a lot of people that understand the reasoning why it's not this year. I'm sure as the new format unfolds year after year, it'll happen. But it won't be this first time," Curry said.

So which way does Curry lean in the debate?

"I've always been a proponent of protecting the players. I know that's kind of the unpopular position. I know we're all grown men, we can all handle it, We're all All-Stars, but we want to see how the new format the first time so it's presented in the right light," Curry said.

Warriors head coach Steve Kerr doesn't believe players should worry about where they get drafted.

"No shame in being the last All-Star picked. You're still an All-Star," Kerr said after shootaround.

The All-Star teams will be revealed on Thursday, Jan. 25 and game will take play Sunday, Feb. 18 in Los Angeles.

New Raiders DC explains what attracted him to joining Jon Gruden

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AP

New Raiders DC explains what attracted him to joining Jon Gruden

Paul Guenther and Jay Gruden are great friends. The bond formed in Cincinnati, when both guys were Bengals assistants.

Jay Gruden moved on to Washington, and has been that club’s head coach since 2014. Last year, Jay Gruden tried to bring Guenther with him. The Bengals, however, wouldn’t let Guenther out of his contract.

It expired this month, allowing Jay’s brother Jon Gruden to purchase this hot commodity. The Bengals tried to keep him with a lucrative contract offer, but Guenther’s mind was made. He took the job as Gruden’s defensive coordinator, and the four-year contract that came with it. This is about more than money. Jon Gruden presented a unique opportunity worthy of Guenther moving on after 15 years in Cincinnati.

“I’ve known Jon for a long time,” Guenther said this week in a conference call. “Just the ability to come with him and start something fresh from the ground up really excited me. I’ve been in Cincinnati for a long time. My kids were basically raised there. I know a lot of the players. But to have this opportunity with Jon coming to the Raiders and the brand of the Raiders really attracted me. Overall, just an opportunity to come coach with him, see him do it, see how he runs this organization, this team, would be a great thing for me to learn from.”

The Guenther hire was important. He’ll be installing a new system and will have considerable clout running the defense with Gruden focused on the process of scoring points.

Guenther’s defense was built in Cincinnati, with current Minnesota head coach and former Bengals DC Mike Zimmer also contributing to the scheme. He runs a 4-3 defensive front with single-gap responsibilities. What you’ll see from Minnesota in the NFC championship will look a lot like the Silver and Black scheme next season.

“Structurally they’re very, very similar,” Guenther said. “I would say 80, 90 percent of the defense, the calls, the fronts, the coverages, the terminology is all about the same. I spent a long time with Mike. Really, when he came over from Dallas and Atlanta to Cincinnati, he had the system that was probably 60 percent intact and then we kind of built up to where we are today. Certainly, I have my own little things that I added to the defense as I went along. He’s added things. We’re always talking in the offseason, just because we’re close friends, about the things that he’s doing, things that I’m doing. I would say it’s very similar.”

The Bengals didn’t blltz much under Guenther, especially last season. He isn’t averse to bringing extra guys. He just didn’t need to dial up those plays with the Bengals pressuring the passer without extra help.

“It all depends on how many we can get home with four (pass rushers),” Guenther said. “I think the thing you really have to look at is the amount of pressure you’re getting on a quarterback. If you don’t have to blitz and you can get home with four guys.

“…I love blitzing, I got every blitz in the book up on my board here. We got it all – double A’s, overloads – any blitz you can imagine, we have it. That was what my role was with Mike Zimmer (when he was Bengals DC) coming up with the third-down blitzes. I’m certainly all for it, but I think from a team perspective, and you’ve got to really see how the game is going.”

Guenther inherits a defensive depth chart with some star power, young talent and holes aplenty. The Raiders have some issues at linebacker, safety, defensive tackle and cornerback. Khalil Mack and Bruce Irvin are solid off the edge, but the unit needs a talent infusion. There’s roster flexibility, with high-priced veterans easily cut if Guenther and Gruden so choose.

“I believe there’s a lot of good players here, a lot of good, young players,” he said. “You’ve got to get them out and develop them and get them to understand your system. But I think there’s a lot of good pieces here for a foundation for sure. Obviously, every year, whether you’re the number one defense in the league or the number 32 defense in the league, you’re always looking to add pieces and fill out your lineup card. That’s what we’re going to be working through this spring and through the draft and through free agency as well as developing the young players that we have here. This day and age in the NFL when you draft guys and you think they’re worthy, you have to get them out on the field. You can’t sit on these guys for a couple of years because before you know it, their rookie contracts are over and they’re out the door. I certainly think there’s some good, young prospects here that I’m eager to work with.”