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Luck among players shaving head to support Pagano

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Luck among players shaving head to support Pagano

INDIANAPOLIS (AP) Andrew Luck has joined the shaved squad, too.

Nearly three dozen players on the Indianapolis Colts have shaved their heads in a show of support for head coach Chuck Pagano, who is undergoing treatment for a form of leukemia.

Luck became a new member of the no-hair club Wednesday morning. Players and coaches were not available for comment because they were headed to Jacksonville, but a team spokesman confirmed that Luck will indeed look quite different when he takes off his helmet Thursday night.

``Buzzed heads and orange locks in honor of Chuck,'' team owner Jim Irsay tweeted. He also included a link to a photo showing many of the players who had gotten buzzed.

Indianapolis (5-3) has gone to great lengths to give their ailing coach encouragement.

Reggie Wayne wore orange gloves against Green Bay, the ribbon color used to raise awareness for leukemia. Nameplates above player's lockers at the team complex now include orange stickers with Pagano's initials in the middle of Indy's trademark horseshoe. They sent Pagano a game ball after their surprising win over the Packers on Oct. 4. Irsay has placed signs reading (hash)Chuckstrong in each end zone of Lucas Oil Stadium, and the team has been trying to raise money to support leukemia research.

The newest addition to the agenda came late Tuesday when the team said Wayne, Luck and interim coach Bruce Arians would participate in a fundraiser at Dunaway's, a local restaurant, on Nov. 16. They will sign autographs and take photos with fans to help benefit The Leukemia & Lymphoma Society.

So when Pagano showed up in the Colts' locker room Sunday without his grayish hair or trademark goatee, player director of engagement David Thornton decided to bring in a barber following Tuesday's practice.

The idea was an immediate hit - and seems to be growing larger by the day.

About two dozen players, including kicker Adam Vinatieri, defensive end Cory Redding, Pro Bowl safety Antoine Bethea and punter Pat McAfee, left the team headquarters Tuesday night with no hair. It's a new look for McAfee, who had a ponytail until last fall when he cut it off and donated the hair to Locks of Love, a cancer charity.

``We haven't been together long... But we're in this together,'' McAfee wrote in a Twitter message.

On Wednesday morning, more players joined the contingent, including Luck, the No. 1 overall draft pick and this week's AFC offensive player of the week.

At this rate, all of the Colts could have a whole team without hair playing Thursday night at the Jaguars. Arians, one of Pagano's close friends and a prostate cancer survivor, doesn't have any hair, either, though he's donned that look all season.

Pagano was diagnosed with leukemia on Sept. 26 and remained hospitalized for treatment until Oct. 21. He watched the next two Colts games from his home before doctors allowed him to attend Sunday's victory over Miami. Pagano watched the 23-20 victory from the coaches' box and spoke with his team before and after the game.

``I've got circumstances. You guys understand it, I understand it,'' Pagano said in an emotional postgame speech. ``It's already beat. It's already beat. My vision that I'm living is to see two more daughters get married, dance at their weddings and then lift the Lombardi Trophy several times. I'm dancing at two more weddings and we're hoisting that trophy together, men. Congratulations, I love all of you.''

On Monday, Pagano's physician, Dr. Larry Cripe of the Indiana University Simon Cancer Center, said Pagano was in ``complete remission.'' Cripe said Pagano is still scheduled to have two more rounds of chemotherapy. The second round starts this week and will last four to six weeks, Cripe said.

Arians has said the Colts hope to have Pagano back on the sideline Dec. 30, Indy's regular season finale against Houston.

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Gilbert Arenas doesn't like bench mobs, gives very on-brand reason

Gilbert Arenas doesn't like bench mobs, gives very on-brand reason

Gilbert Arenas was an attention-grabbing, electric player on the court. That's equally true off it, where Agent Zero has made a name for himself saying outrageous things and playing the jester. 

Arenas was back at it with another controversial take on his No Chill podcast this week. This time, he took aim at bench mobs.

"[The] only thing that irritates the s--- out of me, is when someone scores and they're like shooting the arrows and they havin' this big ole hype party on the bench ... f--- that ... I want your position. I don't want you to do good."

Bench celebrations have to be some of the most fun, light-hearted and beloved parts of an NBA game. Just look at this. 

Sure, players are drawing attention to themselves by cheering on their teammates, but who begrudges guys for rooting for their own team's success?

Arenas, apparently.

It might sound odd that a guy like Gil couldn't relate to goofy antics. Take a closer look at his history, though, and it makes perfect sense. 

Arenas was one of the most ball-dominant guards in the NBA at a time when Kobe Bryant dominated. That's saying something.

Just compare him versus Bradley Beal, for example. 

Arenas averaged 19 or more shots per game in four of his eight seasons with the Wizards. Beal, by contrast, has only done that once.

Arenas also logged 39 minutes per game while playing for Washington. Even last season when Beal's playing time was a concern, he played 37 minutes a night. 

Of course Arenas can't relate to sitting back and watching his teammates take his minutes or his shots. He had no experience doing either of those things.

There's also the indisputable fact that Agent Zero loves to stir up controversy. If the general consensus is one thing, Arenas gets attention by saying the other. 

Look no further than a few weeks ago. When most NBA players and fans were excited about Vince Carter deciding to try to play another year, Arenas came out opposed to the idea on his podcast.

He said Carter should retire to make room for younger players to prove themselves in the league. 

At this rate, if Arenas uses next week's podcast space to argue that Zion Williamson should go back to Duke, no one should be surprised. 

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Wizards' Bradley Beal snubbed from All-NBA, doesn't qualify for supermax contract

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Wizards' Bradley Beal snubbed from All-NBA, doesn't qualify for supermax contract

Despite setting statistical career-highs across the board and earning many votes from the media, Wizards guard Bradley Beal fell short of making All-NBA, the league announced on Thursday.

Beal, 25, put together a brilliant season despite his team's disappointing 32-50 record. He averaged 25.6 points, 5.5 assists, 5.0 rebounds and 1.5 steals while shooting 47.5 percent from the field and 35.1 percent from three. 

But voting members of the media saw others as more worthy of the honor.

The six guards chosen for All-NBA over Bradley Beal were:
- Stephen Curry, Warriors
- James Harden, Rockets
- Damian Lillard, Trail Blazers
- Kyrie Irving, Celtics
- Russell Westbrook, Thunder
- Kemba Walker, Hornets

Walker essentially got the final spot over Beal.

This is bittersweet news for the Wizards. Though Beal earning All-NBA would be an accomplishment worth celebrating, him not making it saves them a good deal of money and probably some headaches as well.

Beal would have qualified for a designated veteran player extension, also known as a supermax contract. He would have been in line to earn roughly $194 million over four years in a contract starting with the 2021-22 season at 35 percent of the salary cap.

With John Wall already signed to a supermax contract, that would have put the Wizards in a precarious financial position. But now the Wizards will not have to worry about that problem, at least for now.

Beal could always make All-NBA next season and these questions would be revisited. Also, with two years left on his contract, next summer could get interesting as he will be one year away from free agency.

But Thursday's news is good for anyone hoping to see Beal continue playing in a Washington uniform. This certainly increases his chances of sticking around for at least one more year, though the team's new president - whenever they are hired - may have other ideas.

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