Bulls

Pettitte looks uncomfortable during testimony

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Pettitte looks uncomfortable during testimony

From Comcast SportsNet
WASHINGTON (AP) -- Andy Pettitte looked like he wanted to be anywhere but on the witness stand in the Roger Clemens perjury trial. During breaks Tuesday when the judge and lawyers haggled over legal procedures, Pettitte looked down or straight ahead, never in Clemens' direction. He rested his head in his palm, yawned, looked at his watch and sighed. A few times he rubbed his eyes for several seconds, looking like he couldn't wait for this to end. But Pettitte returns to the stand Wednesday, when Clemens' lawyers will continue to try to sow doubts about the key testimony that Pettitte provided for prosecutors: "Roger had mentioned to me that he had taken HGH." Clemens, who told Congress in 2008 that his friend and former Major League Baseball teammate "misremembers" the conversation, is accused of lying to Congress when he said he never took human growth hormone or steroids. The two men arrived at opposite ends of the courthouse a few minutes apart Wednesday morning, both in gray suits. Pettitte carried a backpack and a bottle of water. Clemens lawyer Michael Attanasio started the doubt campaign late Tuesday when he coaxed Pettitte into agreeing that Clemens' remark was a passing comment made during a workout. Attanasio also got Pettitte to praise Clemens' work ethic, mechanics and concentration -- not to mention the seven Cy Young awards he had won for his outstanding pitching. The cross-examination got to feel so much like a Clemens infomercial that prosecutor Steven Durham objected at one point. Pettitte is crucial to a government case that otherwise will rely heavily on the testimony of Brian McNamee, who worked as a strength coach for both Clemens and Pettitte and has said he injected both men with performance-enhancing substances. The government showed the jury photos of the three working out together in Texas during happier times -- "Mac, Roger and me," as Pettitte put it. Pettitte has acknowledged he received HGH from McNamee; Clemens has not. Pettitte told the jury about the time he used HGH in 2002 while recovering from an injury, but he wasn't allowed to say he was injected by McNamee because the judge earlier ruled that information inadmissible. Pettitte said he used HGH one other time, in 2004. He said he regretted it both times he tried it, that he doesn't think it helped him physically and that it has tarnished his name. "I wish I never would've" taken HGH, he said in his slow Texas drawl. "If I hadn't done it, I wouldn't be here today." Pettitte also recalled the other time he spoke with Clemens about HGH, during the media swirl surrounding earlier congressional hearings -- in 2005 -- on drug use in sports. Both were playing for the Houston Astros, and Pettitte asked Clemens at spring training what Clemens would say if asked by reporters about HGH use. Clemens responded, "What are you talking about?" according to Pettitte, and said Pettitte must have misunderstood the earlier conversation, said to have taken place in 1999 or 2000. "He said, My wife used it,'" Pettitte said. "Obviously I was a little flustered," Pettitte said, "because I thought that he told me that he did." Both Clemens and McNamee have said McNamee injected Debbie Clemens with HGH at the Clemens home in 2003, although they differ over certain details. Pettitte's appearance Tuesday came without warning. The government interrupted testimony from the trial's first witness to call Pettitte just before noon. Wearing a gray suit, white shirt and striped tie, he walked into court a day after allowing six runs and 10 hits with eight strikeouts over 5-23 innings in an extended spring training game in Clearwater, Fla., as part his comeback attempt at age 39 with the New York Yankees. Pettitte strode purposefully to the witness stand, but when he squeezed his 6-foot-5 frame into the seat, he looked out of place. He sat with hands clasped during most of his testimony. During prosecutor Durham's questioning, Pettitte described how he admired Clemens as a youngster and considered him a mentor when they played together for the Yankees and Astros. Pettitte said he still considered Clemens a good friend but hasn't been able to talk to him for a long time because of the case. He also said it was difficult to testify against his friend. But there was almost no interaction between the two large men Tuesday. About the only time Pettitte looked in Clemens' direction was when the prosecutor asked whether Clemens was in the courtroom, and Pettitte pointed to the man in the suit and "greenish tie." Clemens stood and nodded. For his part, Clemens took more notes than usual on his yellow legal pad. When trial recessed for the day, Pettitte walked out of the courtroom without looking toward Clemens. Pettitte signed an autograph in the hall, then quickly entered an office.

Stephen A. Smith feels that Scottie Pippen was more vital to MJ than Phil Jackson

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USA TODAY

Stephen A. Smith feels that Scottie Pippen was more vital to MJ than Phil Jackson

On Thursday's episode of 'First Take,' ESPN analysts Max Kellerman, Jay Williams, and Stephen A. Smith debated who was more important to Michael Jordan between Hall of Famers Scottie Pippen and Phil Jackson. When moderator Molly Qerim Rose kicked things off, Stephen A. Smith boldly stated, "It was Scottie Pippen, it was not Phil Jackson."

Smith argued that the Bulls were already on track to being a championship team with head coach Doug Collins at the helm. He continued that while the team made an obvious leap into a three-peating championship team with Jackson, Pippen's emergence as a bonafide NBA superstar is what played the biggest part in the Bulls becoming a dynasty with MJ.

"To me, it was the elevation of Scottie Pippen...the bravado, the swag, the toughness.

"There was something missing but with [Michael] Jordan, he ultimately elevated his level of toughness, he was a phenomenal defender and Scottie Pippen's elevation is what elevated the Chicago Bulls to the champions that they were."

The "Bad Boys" Detroit Pistons of the 80s and 90s were the biggest impediment to the Bulls making the NBA Finals and when they finally broke through and eliminated the Pistons in the 1991 Eastern Conference Finals, Pippen averaged an impressive 22 points, 7.8 rebounds, and 5.3 assists per game on 47.5% shooting.

Smith elaborated that Collins would have eventually broken through to the NBA Finals if he coached Pippen in the later stages of his development, which is why Pippen clearly is more important to MJ than Jackson. The nature of the Pippen-Jordan-Jackson relationship will definitely be shown in greater detail during 'The Last Dance' documentary and could bring Smith's words back to the forefront of the conversations about the 90s Bulls. 

"Doug Collins to me, that Scottie Pippen that was winning titles with Jordan, Doug Collins would have won the title if he would have coached at that particular moment and time."

 

WNBA postpones start of training camps and regular season due to COVID-19

WNBA postpones start of training camps and regular season due to COVID-19

In an expected move, the WNBA is postponing the start of its training camp and regular season in response to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Leaguewide training camps had originally been scheduled to begin on April 26, with the regular season tipping off on May 15. The league offered no concrete timetable for return.

"While the league continues to use this time to conduct scenario-planning regarding new start dates and innovative formats, our guiding principle will continue to be the health and safety of the players, fans and employees," WNBA commissioner Cathy Engelbert said in a statement.

Engelbert also cited country-wide social distancing recommendations through April 30 as cause for the league to postpone play. Illinois Governor JB Pritzker recently extended a state-wide stay-at-home order through that April 30 date, at least.

The good news for WNBA fans is that the league's draft is still on for April 17, and is set to be broadcast on ESPN. In keeping with social distancing protocols, the WNBA announced the draft will be held entirely virtually without players, guests or media. Top prospects will take part remotely with Engelbert announcing the picks live.

The WNBA will also carve out time during the draft broadcast to honor Alyssa Altobelli, Gianna Bryant, Payton Chester and Kobe Bryant, all of whom perished in a tragic helicopter accident on Jan. 26. 

The Chicago Sky hold the eighth pick in the 2020 WNBA draft, and are coming off a 20-14 2019 season that ended in a gut-wrenching defeat to the Las Vegas Aces in the second round of the playoffs.