Chris Long reacts to 'surreal' tweet from Barack Obama

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Chris Long reacts to 'surreal' tweet from Barack Obama

Chris Long was grateful and also a bit taken aback by the support of former President Barack Obama, who tweeted about the Eagles defensive end's philanthropic efforts on Friday.

"It's silly to me to see a president mention my name," Long said. "It's surreal. Nothing but respect for the guy."

Back in October, Long announced his plan to donate his entire salary from the 2017 NFL season to fund scholarships in his hometown of Charlottesville, Va. However, the news was pushed back into the forefront when Obama shared it Friday, telling his 98.4 million followers it's a story to "remind us what's best about America."

"That's an honor that that would fly across a former president's radar," Long said. "That's the whole point of trying to do good things in the community is spreading positivity, and it's an honor to be mentioned."

Long signed a two-year contract worth $4.5 million with the Eagles in March, with a base salary of $1 million in 2017. The 10th-year veteran intended to donate his first six game checks after protests over the removal of Confederate monuments in Charlottesville turned violent, resulting in one death.

"I've been lucky," Long said. "I made a lot of money playing a game and I've been humbled by the opportunity and just being able to continue to play football for a living.

"So while it's not an earth-shattering amount of money, it's more about, for me, doing what I love for something that's important to me than it is the actual number."

Long received a lot of attention in the wake of the response to the Charlottesville protests, justifiably so. The 32-year-old has used the tragedy as a platform to both discuss and address social issues, and has rightly been praised for his words and actions.

That being said, a more meaningful endorsement than a President's would be hard to come by.

"That's someone I have a lot of respect for, just the class he carried himself being the face of our nation," Long said.

"You don't have to agree with every single thing politically all the time, and that's kind of what we've gotten into doing as a country, politicizing everything, but I have a great deal of respect for him as a President and as a man and a family man. To see him pick that up on his radar is pretty cool for me."

Long's hope is Obama's endorsement can help propel charitable efforts even further.

"The guy has so much pull, and so much of a following," Long said. "The leader of the free world until a year ago, and did it for eight years, so when he tweets something about what we've been trying to accomplish off the field, it's gratifying. It means we're doing some good things, and hopefully, you just keep spreading the word."

Still, Obama's interest in Long's work isn't what he's most proud of. The Eagles defensive end says football fans have come very close to matching his pledge and will get there soon.

Even people who don't donate directly to Long's cause may be spurred to action.

"The coolest thing about all of this is the fact that fans have gotten in it," Long said. "And it might be a catalyst that somebody might see the story and be like, 'I want to do something along those lines, or do something to help in an area that I'm passionate about,' because we are, for better or worse, role models."

Despite using his platform to address social issues and garnering Obama's attention along the way, don't expect Long to make the jump from NFL player and philanthropist to politician when his playing days are over. While politics are always on his mind, it sounds like he'd prefer that wasn't the case.

At least for the time being, Long has another problem that needs to be addressed.

"Unfortunately, I think about them all the time because they suck for the most part," Long said, laughing. "I'm thinking about the Cowboys."

NBA Notes: Grizzlies' Ben McLemore fractures foot during pickup game

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NBA Notes: Grizzlies' Ben McLemore fractures foot during pickup game

MEMPHIS, Tenn. -- Memphis Grizzlies guard Ben McLemore has fractured his right foot in a pickup game and likely won't be ready for the start of the season.

The Grizzlies announced Tuesday that McLemore underwent surgery and would be out "an estimated 12 weeks."

The Grizzlies said McLemore got injured when he landed on another player's foot after driving to the basket during a pickup game in Los Angeles. He was diagnosed with a non-displaced fracture of the fifth metatarsal in his right foot.

McLemore, 24, signed with the Grizzlies last month after averaging 9.4 points, 2.6 rebounds, 1.2 assists and 25.5 minutes in four seasons with the Sacramento Kings.

The 6-foot-5 guard had 8.1 points, 2.1 rebounds and 19.3 minutes per game last season.

Knicks: Team hires Obama’s brother-in-law for front-office job
NEW YORK -- The New York Knicks have hired former President Barack Obama's brother-in-law to a front-office position.

Craig Robinson was named vice president of player development Tuesday in a series of restructuring moves that followed the promotion of Steve Mills to president and the hiring of Scott Perry as general manager.

Robinson spent last season as Milwaukee's vice president of player and organizational development after serving as head coach at Oregon State (2008-14) and Brown University (2006-08).

The Knicks also hired Gerald Madkins as assistant general manager, Harold Ellis as director of player personnel, Michael Arcieri as director of basketball strategy and Fred Cofield as scout.

Perry says "We are adding a host of highly-regarded and respected basketball people to work with the Knicks to fortify the franchise for years to come."

Madkins returns to the Knicks, where he spent four seasons (2003-07) as a scout. Since then, he has serves in roles with Seattle/Oklahoma City (2007-08), Houston (2008-10), New Orleans (2010-12) and the Los Angeles Clippers (2013-17).

Ellis joins the organization after five seasons with Orlando as director of pro scouting. Arcieri also spent the past five seasons with Orlando, most recently serving as director of basketball operations last season.

Cofield was originally selected by New York in the fourth round of the 1985 NBA draft.

National champion Villanova honored by President Obama

National champion Villanova honored by President Obama

WASHINGTON — For the most successful senior class in the history of Villanova basketball, Tuesday's trip to the White House was the culmination of a championship season and quite possibly the final time the 2016 National Championship team will be together as one.

President Barack Obama praised their poise, which was epitomized by the final play when Ryan Arcidiacono fed Kris Jenkins for the buzzer-beating, championship-winning three-pointer.

"A lot of teams would have had their spirit broken — the Wildcats, they took control, they responded," Obama said. "And on a play called ' 'Nova,' Kris took a pass from Arch and pulled up a few steps behind the line and shot this team into basketball lore. That was a good shot. It was like Christian Laettner-good. It was like a Jimmy-V-running-up-and-down-the-court shot. Charles Barkley apparently jumped out of his seat, which — (laughter) — he doesn’t do very often these days." 

In what has become customary for a championship team's visit, head coach Jay Wright presented the 44th President of the United States with a Wildcat jersey and the number "44." The Wildcats wore the uniform when they played Oklahoma on Dec. 7 of last year in Obama's home state of Hawaii.

"This was an amazing day for us," Wright said. "We not only presented him with the jersey, but with a picture of him that mirrored Kris Jenkins hitting that game-winning shot, because we've got a lot of respect for him as a great leader."

While gracious as guests at 1600 Pennsylvania Ave., it was the Wildcats who spoiled Obama's tournament bracket when they knocked off the president's pre-tournament pick, Kansas, in the Elite Eight on their way to the Final Four. At the time he made his picks back in March, Obama mentioned Wright's Wildcats, telling ESPN, "I know eventually they're going to break through." He just wasn't confident enough to see the 'Cats win it all roughly three and a half weeks later.

Obama on Tuesday confirmed he should have listened to his second-in-command, "Joe (Biden) wanted me to remind you that he picked 'Nova to win it all. This is the type of wise counsel that you are looking for from a vice president. Unfortunately, I didn’t follow his counsel and so my bracket was busted.

Wearing a stars-and-stripes bow tie, junior Josh Hart, who decided last week to return to Villanova for his senior season, attended nearby Sidwell Friends School, where he was a classmate with President Obama's oldest daughter Malia.

"We talked a little, not too much," Hart said. "I try to give her some space. She's busy with senior projects and graduation and stuff."

Now Hart will refocus on guiding Villanova to become the first school since the Florida Gators in 2006-07 to win back-to-back National titles, and with that, a return trip to the White House.