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Swimming champ, 26, dies of cardiac arrest

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Swimming champ, 26, dies of cardiac arrest

From Comcast SportsNet
STOCKHOLM (AP) -- Alexander Dale Oen, a world champion swimmer who was one of Norway's top medal hopes for the London Olympics, died from cardiac arrest after collapsing in his bathroom during a training camp in Flagstaff, Arizona. He was 26. The president of the Norwegian swimming federation, Per Rune Eknes, confirmed the death to The Associated Press via telephone on Tuesday. He said it was still unclear what led to the cardiac arrest. In a statement, the federation said the 100 meter breaststroke world champion was found collapsed on the floor of his bathroom late Monday. He was taken to the Flagstaff Medical Center, where he was pronounced dead. "We're all in shock," Norway Coach Petter Loevberg said. "This is an out-of-the-body experience for the whole team over here. Our thoughts primarily go to his family who have lost Alexander way too early." Hospital spokeswoman Starla Collins confirmed the death, but did not provide further details. Dale Oen earned his biggest triumph in the pool at last year's worlds in Shanghai when he won the 100 breaststroke, a victory that provided some much-needed joy back in Norway just three days after the massacre by right-wing extremist Anders Breivik that killed 77 people -- including children at a summer camp. Dale Oen dedicated the win to the victims of that massacre, pointing to the Norwegian flag on his cap after the finish to send a message to his countrymen back home. "We need to stay united," he said after the race. "Everyone back home now is of course paralyzed with what happened but it was important for me to symbolize that even though I'm here in China, I'm able to feel the same emotions." His death dominated the news in Norway on Monday, and Prime Minister Jens Stoltenberg said on Twitter that "Alexander Dale Oen was a great sportsman for a small country. My thoughts go to his family and friends." The Norwegian team is holding a camp in Flagstaff ahead of the Olympics, and the federation said Dale Oen had only underwent a light training session on Monday, and also played some golf that day. But teammates became worried when the swimmer spent an unusually long time in the shower, and entered his bathroom when he failed to respond to their knocks on the door. The federation said "they found Dale Oen laying partly on the floor, partly on the edge of his bathtub." Team doctor Ola Roensen said he immediately began performing CPR until an ambulance arrived. "Everything was done according to procedure, and we tried everything, so it is immensely sad that we were not able to resuscitate him," Roensen said. "It is hard to accept." In his last tweet on Monday, Dale Oen said he was looking forward to going back home: "2 days left of our camp up here in Flagstaff,then it's back to the most beautiful city in Norway.. (hashtag)Bergen." Dale Oen was born in Bergen, Norway's second largest city, on May 21, 1985. He was the second son of Mona Lillian Dale and Ingolf Oen. He started swimming at the age of 4, and said on his website that the sport "came very easy and natural for me." He is the second high-profile athlete to die from cardiac arrest recently, after Italian football player Piermario Morosini collapsed on the pitch during a Serie B game for Livorno last month. That incident came just a month after Bolton midfielder Fabrice Muamba also collapsed during a game, but survived. "It feels unreal that Alexander Dale Oen is no longer with us," Norwegian skiing champion Aksel Lund Svindal, the two-time overall world Cup champion, said on Twitter. "My thoughts go out to his family, friends and his whole team in Flagstaff." Keri-Anne Payne, the 10-kilometer open water world champion from Britain, said: "Such sad news for swimming."

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.