Cavs' Kyrie Irving named NBA All-Star for 1st time


Cavs' Kyrie Irving named NBA All-Star for 1st time

CLEVELAND (AP) Still not old enough to legally toast any of his accomplishments, Kyrie Irving joined one of the NBA's most elite groups.

And to top it off, he was named his city's top professional athlete - all in the same day.

Irving, the Cavaliers' dynamic point guard whose dazzling game belies his youth, was voted an All-Star reserve for the Eastern Conference on Thursday night, just hours before he was named Cleveland's top professional athlete for 2012, when he won the league's Rookie of the Year award.

``One of the best days of my life,'' Irving said backstage at the Greater Cleveland Sports Awards.

Irving, who won't turn 21 until March 23, is the sixth-youngest player ever named to an All-Star team and one of only seven to make it before their 21st birthday. The other six: Kobe Bryant, LeBron James, Magic Johnson, Kevin Garnett, Isiah Thomas and Shaquille O'Neal are either in the Hall of Fame or well on their way to induction.

``It's a big deal for me and a big deal for the city of Cleveland,'' Irving said after receiving his award before a ballroom filled with some of the area's top sports figures and civic leaders. ``It means a lot. To be picked as an All-Star for the first time and be with those guys, to see those names on TV, it's truly a blessing.''

Irving was at home alone watching the All-Star selection when his name flashed on the screen. He admitted to a solo celebration.

``I did jump around,'' he said. ``I didn't do any backflips and cartwheels. I didn't want to get hurt.''

Irving said his first phone call was to his girlfriend and the next to his father, Drederick, who raised him and his sister after their mother, Elizabeth, died when he was 4.

``It was an emotional moment,'' Irving said, ``real emotional.''

Soon after, Irving received a surprising text from his college coach, Duke's Mike Krzyzewski.

``First time ever,'' Irving said smiling. ``I don't think Coach K has ever sent one of his players a text. I didn't even know he could text. I think his assistant sent it for him. My freshman year at Duke he told me never to text him because he didn't know how to text. So, times are changing.''

Irving said he's not intimidated about sharing the stage at the Feb. 17 game in Houston with the NBA's best players.

``I just hope I don't air ball my first shot,'' he joked.

Irving is the first Cavaliers player to make the All-Star team since 2010, when James was voted in as a starter. Irving is averaging 23.7 points, 5.7 assists and 3.6 rebounds, but his selection by the East head coaches wasn't a given because of the Cavs' woeful 11-32 record.

Cleveland coach Byron Scott didn't do any campaigning for Irving, who scored 40 points on Tuesday night in a win over Boston. Scott believed Irving deserved the selection and was thrilled that his peers agreed.

Scott, who greeted Irving with a big hug when he arrived at the Renaissance Hotel, doesn't think a first All-Star selection will change his young star. Scott said it only make Irving hungrier for more.

``The thing that keeps him going is continuing to have new goals,'' Scott said. ``This year he's a reserve and next year he should want to be a starter. That should be his next step and in order to that he has to work even harder. The thing that is so good about him is that he's willing to work. He's going to continue to get better.

``And he's not 21 yet. He's well on his way to being one of the best.''

Irving's double win was perhaps the highlight of the star-studded event, which brought out some of Cleveland's top sports celebrities. Browns owner Jimmy Haslam and new coach Rob Chudzinski introduced themselves to guests eager to talk football. Ohio State coach Urban Meyer received a warm ovation as did boxing promoter Don King, who wore a sequined jacket and waved American flags while working the room as only he can.

Doug Dieken, who has spent 42 seasons with the Browns as a player and broadcaster, received a lifetime achievement award.

The show was emceed by ESPN's Scott Van Pelt.

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A big Year 2 ahead, Lamar Jackson isn’t worried about Madden ratings

A big Year 2 ahead, Lamar Jackson isn’t worried about Madden ratings

The number eight is sports royalty in the city of Baltimore thanks to Cal Ripken Jr.

If Lamar Jackson has the career many are hoping for, he’ll be another reason for that one day down the road.

For now, he’s a young, athletic quarterback entering his second season in Charm City. But his successful rookie year hasn’t been reflected in Madden NFL 20’s newest ratings.

Jackson came in with an overall rating of 76, tied for 24th among all quarterbacks. Unsurprisingly, his athleticism is highly-regarded, as he leads all signal-callers in speed, acceleration, agility, and elusiveness.

Questions abound about his throwing abilities, leading to the low rating. But that’s not a concern for Jackson himself.

“I can’t feel no way,” the quarterback told media members prior to throwing out the first pitch at the Orioles-Nationals game Wednesday night. “You know, I don’t make Madden. That’s them. But I feel like our team, we’re going to show ‘em this season.”

Jackson continued to praise the Ravens roster. When asked about the high ratings for teammates like Marquise “Hollywood” Brown and Earl Thomas, Jackson put his thoughts quite succinctly: “We look stacked!”

Of course, with speed and acceleration ratings like Jackson has, it’s fun to imagine how he might fit in on a baseball diamond as well.

“Whew, somewhere in the middle, to make a play,” Orioles manager Brandon Hyde decided when asked where the Ravens quarterback might play on his roster.

“I’m looking forward to meeting him. I’m a big football fan, so watched him play a lot. And if he wanted to play center field or up the middle, it’d be great,” Hyde continued.

The speedy quarterback agreed, though it came with a caveat.

“Probably,” Jackson quickly answered when asked about his best fit being center field. “But you know, I’m the Ravens QB right now, so I’m good.”

He doesn’t know what his walk-up song would be if he played baseball, but Jackson was definitive about one thing at least: his hot dog preferences.

“I don’t really eat mustard,” he emphasized. “So I just put ketchup, relish...I just go from there. Pretty standard.”

When he’s not eating hot dogs, Jackson is working hard to build chemistry with his new receiving corps, and he seemed optimistic about the results it will bring on the field.

“Looking pretty good,” he described. “You’ll have to see for yourself.”

Knowing how many dual Orioles and Ravens fans there are in Baltimore, Jackson was also happy to provide a little hope as the city’s attention starts to shift from baseball to football. He gave a message to O’s fans who have sat through months of losing baseball and are looking to the Ravens to bring winning back to the city.

“Look forward to us coming out and balling,” he said. “Can’t say too much right now, [the] season’s not here!”

The Ravens season will be here soon enough, and when it is, Jackson will be ready to go out and show both local and national fans what he can do, regardless of what his Madden rating says.


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Dwayne Haskins sees parallels between himself, Lion King's Simba

Dwayne Haskins sees parallels between himself, Lion King's Simba

The story of the Lion King is one that takes many of us to our childhood, a feel-good story about a young cub going through adversity to become  King.

It's a story Redskins new quarterback, Dwayne Haskins Junior, has related to since he was a child himself, having taken on the moniker Simba. 
Disney first came out with the movie in 1994 and just released a photorealistic live-action re-make.  Haskins made sure he was there for the world premiere in Los Angeles walking the red carpet with his girlfriend Savhana Cousin earlier this month.

"The new Lion King brought so many great old memories!" he tweeted. "A blessing to be a part of. "

Haskins sees many parallels in Simba. He told me before the draft that the nickname first came from when his aunt was combing out his hair saying he looked like a lion.  

Beyond that, he liked the story of the young cub going through adversity to become King.

"The story behind him growing to king, going through adversity, and having to fall to get up and that's just something that resonates with my story. Everyone sees the highs of everything but not what it takes to get there," he said.

He has even used the story for his own clothing brand as well, Kingdom of Pride. 

Haskins fell in the draft to number 15 and the Redskins but has every intention of proving he is worthy of the pick and one day winning what he declares will be multiple Super Bowls.  

That would certainly fall in line with the story of Simba taking back the kingdom.