Nationals

Ala. celebrates 3rd BCS National title in 4 years

Ala. celebrates 3rd BCS National title in 4 years

TUSCALOOSA, Ala. (AP) The University of Alabama on Saturday celebrated its third BCS National Championship in four years in front of thousands of crimson- and white-clad fans.

The day began with a parade down University Boulevard in Tuscaloosa that concluded at the walk of champions outside Bryant-Denny Stadium. Players, coaches and support staff walked through the plaza, which honors every national championship and SEC championship team in the Crimson Tide's illustrious history, up to a stage set up outside the stadium.

Head coach Nick Saban addressed the crowd on the sunny day, along with UA president Judy Bonner, Director of Athletics Mal Moore and BCS Executive Director Bill Hancock.

``(Saban) is the best coach, in my opinion, in the United States,'' Moore said. ``Thank God he's on our side.''

A ``2012'' etching was unveiled at the base of Saban's statue Saturday, which already had inscriptions from his previous BCS championships won in 2009 and 2011 at the school.

Saban also won the 2003 BCS championship while coaching the LSU Tigers and is the only coach to win 4 BCS titles.

Permanent team captains Damion Square, Chance Warmack and Barrett Jones were also recognized during the celebration.

``I've never been more proud of any group I've ever coached than the players and the coaches on this particular team,'' Saban said.

Radio broadcaster Eli Gold, who calls the football games on the Crimson Tide Sports Network. emceed the ceremonies. They ended with confetti, fireworks and a highlight video of Alabama's 42-14 win over the Notre Dame Fighting Irish in the Jan. 7 championship game.

The game was replayed in its entirety on a large video board outside the stadium Saturday morning, as fans filed in before the festivities.

``When this year started, we knew this would be probably our most difficult challenge we've ever faced,'' Barrett Jones said. ``In college football today, repeating is something that's really hard. But this team embraced the challenge full on and we were able to achieve that.''

Several highly-touted recruits, such as linebacker Reuben Foster and defensive tackle Montravius Adams, were in attendance.

Former Jacksonville Jaguars head coach Jack Del Rio also took in the festivities. His son, Luke, will attend Alabama in the fall as a preferred walk-on quarterback.

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Exclusive: Nats owner Mark Lerner says they haven't heard from Bryce Harper and Scott Boras in months

Exclusive: Nats owner Mark Lerner says they haven't heard from Bryce Harper and Scott Boras in months

Click the podcast below to hear Mark Lerner's full interview.

The Washington Nationals are officially moving on from Bryce Harper.

"Nothing's certainly changed on our end," owner Mark Lerner told NBC Sports Washington's Todd Dybas Friday. "We've moved on. As I said back then and we had to. There was no way we could wait around. Bryce, I'm sure will make his decision hopefully in the next few days, but we've filled out our roster and like I said, we wish him nothing but the best."

Before the end of the 2018 season, the Nats presented Harper and his agent Scott Boras a 10-year, $300 million offer to which they declined. 

There have been reports that multiple teams have been in on the Harper sweepstakes, most notably the Phillies, Padres and Giants. As far as recent talks with the Nationals?  There haven't been any.

"But there's always that, the door's cracked a little bit," Lerner added. "I have no clue at this point what they're up to. We really haven't heard from them in a couple months."

Stay tuned to NBC Sports Washington for more on this breaking news. 

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Yes, Bobby Portis once bowled a 285 and that's another reason to strike up affection for the new Wizard

Yes, Bobby Portis once bowled a 285 and that's another reason to strike up affection for the new Wizard

WASHINGTON -- Spare your outrage upon hearing Bobby Portis’ take. 

The Wizards power forward believes his game, one honed in Chicago that includes a striking hook shot, is the NBA’s best. 

“I want to say I am. I’m pretty damn good. I’m not cocky at all about anything," Portis said, “but bowling is one thing I’m really confident with.”

Don’t split after that lede. At least wait until finding out more about an honor the Arkansas native received during the All-Star break that frames his high school career forever. There’s also the potential with the Wizards just two weeks after a trade X’d out the stretch-4’s time with the Bulls.

That deal also interrupted league play. 

Portis showed up every Wednesday to Diversey River Bowl in the Logan Square section of Chicago, at least when the Bulls’ schedule permitted.  At first, Portis just wanted to keep his skills sharp. You don’t roll a 285 by accident. 

“I’m a very active bowler. I loooove bowling,” Portis explained to NBC Sports Washington. “It’s something I do each and every day in the summer.”

The former University of Arkansas standout fell hard for the game back in his native Little Rock. He and a group of friends would battle with push-ups at stake.

He arrives at the alley with a 14-pound, bowling ball. The trusty multi-colored orb helps the NBA big man do damage in the lane.

“I throw the hook, man,” Portis proudly stated. “Bowling takes a lot of skill and exercise and a lot of relaxation. You can’t just go out there and throw it hard.”

Portis moved to Chicago after the Bulls selected him 22nd overall in the 2015 NBA Draft. After he settled into his new professional life, he went searching for a game.

The initial plan involved an incognito approach that was a real gutter ball.

“I tried to have my hood on the first time I went so nobody would notice me,” the 6-foot-11 NBA player admitted, “but after that, it was a wrap. Taking pictures all damn night.”

Portis got to know some of those picture takers. “Just random dudes,” he said. 

Soon Rajon Rondo and Lauri Markkanen weren’t his only teammates. 

“I would go just practice my game and found these dudes I was cool with,” Portis said. “I exchanged numbers with them. We starting hanging out a lot. Started bowling. Then they invited me to their little league. I was bowling in their league ever since.

His now famous “crazy eyes” bulged during the reminiscing.

“It’s a really cool league,” Portis said. “You see a lot of old people there. They’re really good. They bring their balls. I never really knew people loved bowling like that until I joined their league.”

The trade to Washington put the bowling league on hold. 

Portis did not quite know what to make of the deal initially. He entered his fourth season with a goal of being named Sixth Man of the Year. Suffering a right knee injury during Chicago’s fourth game derailed those hopes. Portis missed the next 23 games, returned for five and then sat out an extended stretch with an ankle issue.

The 2019 restricted free agent found his touch in January, averaging 14.2 points while shooting 42.5 percent from beyond the 3-point arc. The trade occurred three days after Portis scored 33 points on Feb. 3 and moments before Chicago hosted New Orleans.

 “It was a crazy experience,” Portis said. “Had my jersey on, was ready to play.”

With time for reflection, Portis now sees the positives with Washington.

“I get more time on the court, show what I can do,” Portis said. “I’m just happy to be a Wizard. …Trades happen. I’m over it now. Have a chance to fight for the playoffs.”

Portis made quite the impression on his new team after four games, averaging 19.0 points, 7.3 rebounds and 29.3 minutes off the bench while sinking a staggering 54.5 percent of his 3-pointers.

“He surprised me how good of a 3-point shooter he is for his size and his position,” Wizards point guard Tomas Satoransky said. “I think it’s going to be fun also playing pick-and-roll, pick-and-pops with him.”

That fun could continue into next season if the Wizards retain Satoransky, another RFA, and Portis, who plays minutes at center with Washington.

“I can’t predict the future, whether I’ll be here or whether I’ll be somewhere else,” Portis said. “I know I can control the now. Now is me putting the work in each and every day.”

Back in the day Portis first gained notoriety playing for Little Rock’s Hall High School. He led the Warrior to four state championships. Those accomplishments plus his subsequent work in college and the NBA led to the school retiring Portis’ jersey during the All-Star break.

“When you’re a kid growing up playing the game of basketball, you’re just playing for the love of the game,” Portis said. “I never knew I would get my high school jersey retired. Man, it was a surreal moment for me and my family.”

Despite the honor, Portis is not the school’s most notable basketball alum.

“I think Sidney Moncrief is more famous than I am,” Portis said about the five-time NBA All-Star currently up for nomination to the Basketball Hall of Fame. 

More famous than Portis, sure. Better bowler, probably not. 

Among current NBA players, Portis only imagines another known bowling fanatic, Rockets guard Chris Paul, as competition. 

Perhaps someone should organize a game of one-on-one.

“Might have to,” Portis said, “especially since the All-Star game is in Chicago next year.” 

If that happens, expect a bunch of random dudes to spare some time for a former teammate back in town. 

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