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Rebuilding Bills will continue to play in Toronto

Rebuilding Bills will continue to play in Toronto

TORONTO (AP) The Buffalo Bills and Rogers Media announced a new agreement Tuesday that will keep Rogers Centre as the team's second home.

Buffalo will play one regular-season game at the home of the Toronto Blue Jays for the next five years, and the new contract also includes one preseason game in 2015.

The existing five-year deal - which was worth $78 million - expired when Seattle posted a 50-17 win over Buffalo Dec. 16. But an extension had long been expected despite lingering attendance problems. Only 40,770 fans attended the Seahawks' win, far short of a sellout. Some 53,000 fans had been expected.

It was not a good day for the Bills, all around. With 5:20 left in the game, fans in one end zone began chanting ``Let's Go Blue Jays!'' Of course, it was fine by Seattle, which rolled to its third of what would be six consecutive wins.

``This was exciting for us,'' Seahawks coach Pete Carroll said at the time. ``We looked at it like a little bit of a bowl-game situation.''

There was a halftime show, as well, so perhaps Carroll was on the right track with that theory. Organizers went so far in a bid to drum up support by having Korean pop star PSY perform his hit ``Gangnam Style'' after the second quarter ended.

Buffalo, which finished 6-10 and underwent a coaching change this month, is just 1-4 in regular-season games in Toronto, and some players have spoken out about the deal, worried that taking away a home game from the Buffalo region is somewhat counterproductive.

``Yeah, I did call it a joke,'' Bills center Wood said at the time. ``It stunk that we were up there. And I was heated when I said it was a joke. And I'm not going to sit here and retract all my statements because that's what I meant and what I felt.

``Those non-Bills fans that go to the game are just cheering for plays as opposed to cheering for a team. And that kills you.''

Defensive tackle Kyle Williams concurred.

``It's very similar to a road game, but also I understand the business side of things,'' Williams said then. ``I don't think you'd find a guy in here that wouldn't agree that they would much rather be in Ralph Wilson Stadium.''

Wood understands how playing in Canada's financial capital and largest city benefits a small-market team such as the Bills by generating additional revenue and luring fans to attend the team's games at Orchard Park. He emphasized he wasn't criticizing Toronto as a community, because he enjoys makes numerous trips there.

``I love the city of Toronto for eating and for pleasure,'' Wood said. ``But the game just has a different feel. And it's not a whole lot of fun to play in at this point.''

The Bills recently extended their lease at Ralph Wilson Stadium in Orchard Park, N.Y., for 10 years, which should solidify the franchise's short-term future.

After the season ended with a 28-9 win over the New York Jets, Buffalo fired coach Chan Gailey, replacing him with Doug Marrone. Buffalo lost three of its final four games.

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Trae Young joins Kobe Bryant in historic feat against Wizards

Trae Young joins Kobe Bryant in historic feat against Wizards

Following the passing of NBA legend Kobe Bryant on Sunday, emotions were high. 

Many current and former players paid tribute to Bryant, including Atlanta Hawks point guard Trae Young, who dominated in the Hawks 152-133 win over the Wizards. 

He ended the night with a spectacular performance of 45 points, with 14 assists, making 13-of-24 FGs and 13-of-16 free throws as well as six 3-pointers, six rebounds and one assist. 

Young is the first player to have a 45-point double-double with under 25 field goal attempts against the Washington Wizards, since Kobe Bryant on December 17, 2006.

In honor of his mentor and favorite NBA player, Young wore a No. 8 jersey and took an 8-second-violation after the opening tip. 

He even wore his shoes with a tribute to Bryant as well. 

Young was able to channel his emotions into the game, leaving everything on the floor.

In an emotional night, Young was able to keep himself composed leading the Hawks past the Wizards. 

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Isaiah Thomas: NBA should have canceled games after Kobe Bryant's death

Isaiah Thomas: NBA should have canceled games after Kobe Bryant's death

The news of Kobe Bryant's death shook the sports world to its core, and while there were NBA games scheduled throughout Sunday, some felt the league should have canceled the games in light of the tragic news. 

Isaiah Thomas was one of them. 

"It's hard to even talk about it," Thomas said. "The NBA should have just canceled all the games because that put a dent in everybody's life that he's touched."

Thomas looked up to Bryant, admired him from afar and found his love for the game of basketball because of Bryant's greatness. Spending 20 years as a Laker, Bryant won five championships, an MVP and two Finals MVP awards to go along with 15 All-NBA selections and 18 trips to the All-Star game. 

For Thomas, his relationship with Bryant started to grow when he broke out as an All-Star in Boston. When Thomas suffered the tragic loss of his sister, they grew closer. After his hip injury that cost Thomas over a year of his career, Bryant supported him throughout. 

"I started basketball because of Kobe Bryant," he said. "2017, I lose my sister, 2019 I lose one of my best friends in Nipsey Hussle, and then to lose a mentor of mine, like, that's bigger than basketball, that [expletive] hurts.

"He was one of the people that was there for me and in my corner," he said. "And then I got injured, he was one of those guys that was there for me the whole time, helping me through mentally."

The NBA had a difficult decision to make on whether or not to cancel games since there were two games already in progress.

But before, during and after the game, everyone's thoughts were with Bryant and his family and not on a basketball game. Because as Thomas said, it's bigger than basketball. 

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