One Big Thing, On This Day, What’s New In Sports 1/22/20

January 22, 2020

One Big Thing:

Photo: Rookie Wire

Zion Williamson, the most-hyped No. 1 pick since LeBron James a little more than a decade and a half ago, is slated to make his regular-season debut as a pro. Williamson will start in his official NBA debut with the New Orleans Pelicans on Wednesday night (9:30 p.m. ET on ESPN) against the San Antonio Spurs. The Pelicans will monitor his minutes against the Spurs but have not placed a hard minute’s restriction on him.

Without Williamson this season, the Pelicans are 12th in the Western Conference with a 17-27 record. After losing 13 consecutive games from Nov. 23 to Dec. 17, the Pelicans have posted an 11-5 record, tied for the fifth-most wins over that span.

Alvin Gentry knows that Wednesday will be a little different from your average regular-season NBA contest. “One, it’s going to be a circus, and everyone knows that,” Gentry said. “We have gone back already and looked at a bunch of stuff from preseason so we will just try to integrate him right into what we’re doing.”

On This Day:

1857 National Association of Baseball Players founded in New York

1957 Happy Birthday Mike Bossy, NHL forward (NY Islanders), born in Montreal, Quebec

1960 Paul Pender beats Sugar Ray Robinson for middleweight boxing title

1968 NBA announces expansion franchise licences awarded to Milwaukee (Bucks) and Phoenix (Suns)

1969 Roy Campanella & Stan Musial elected to baseball Hall of Fame

1973 George Foreman TKOs Joe Frazier in 2 rounds to win WBC & WBA heavyweight boxing titles in Kingston, Jamaica; Frazier knocked down 3 times in both 1st & 2nd rounds

1980 PGA begins a senior golf tour

1981 O A “Bum” Phillips becomes head coach of New Orleans Saints

1984 Annette Kennedy of SUNY sets women’s basketball record with 70 pts

1984 Super Bowl XVIII, Tampa Stadium, Tampa, FL: LA Raiders beat Washington Redskins, 38-9; MVP: Marcus Allen, Los Angeles, RB

1988 Mike Tyson TKOs Larry Holmes in 4 in Atlantic City to retain his undisputed heavyweight boxing title; 38-year old former champion floored 3 times in 4th before fight stopped

1988 Happy Birthday Greg Oden, American basketball player, born in Buffalo, New York

1989 Super Bowl XXIII, Joe Robbie Stadium, Miami, FL: San Francisco 49ers beat Cincinnati Bengals, 20-16; MVP: Jerry Rice, SF, WR

1989 After winning his third Super Bowl as head coach of the San Francisco 49ers, Bill Walsh retires

1990 Will Clark, NL’s MVP signs a $15M 4-year contract with SF Giants

2006 Kobe Bryant scores 81 points in a 122-104 Lakers victory over the Toronto Raptors; second-highest game total in NBA history, behind only Wilt Chamberlain’s 100-point game (1962)

2012 Joe Paterno, American college hall of football coach (Penn State) and Sports Illustrated Sportsperson of 1986, dies from lung cancer at 85

2018 New Orleans Pelicans’ DeMarcus Cousins has 44 points, 24 rebounds & 10 assists in 132-128 double-OT win over Chicago Bulls; 1st player since Kareem Abdul-Jabbar (1972) with 40+ points, 20+ rebounds & 10+ assists

What’s New:
Photo: Steve Mitchell | USA TODAY Sports

The Miami Heat have been one of the biggest surprises in the league this season. The Heat are one player away from being a championship team, and they are on the hunt ahead of the Feb. 6 trade deadline. San Antonio Spurs star duo of DeMar DeRozan and LaMarcus Aldridge are could be one of those players.

The NBA will host its first-ever regular-season game in Paris on Friday when the Charlotte Hornets and Milwaukee Bucks play in front of a sold-out crowd of 20,300 at the AccorHotels Arena.

Coinciding with the Oklahoma City bombing’s 25th anniversary, the Thunder will wear the City Edition uniform at least 10 times this season “to educate a new generation.” The team will underwrite visits to the Oklahoma City Memorial & Museum on the 25th day of every month.

The National Basketball Association’s (NBA) Dallas Mavericks have signed a multi-year jersey patch sponsorship deal with US financial services company Chime as part of a strategic partnership reportedly worth just under eight figures.

Minnesota Wild finally land NHL Winter Classic game. The 13th annual outdoor game will be held at Target Field.

In the 2019-2020 NHL season, 43 players of color have appeared in at least one game. That represents roughly 5% of the total number of players who have played in a game this season. While the NHL has aimed to improve the diversity of the game of hockey through its “Hockey is for Everyone” program, the league is also increasing its efforts to celebrate trailblazers like Willie O’Ree, who in 1958 became the first black player in the NHL.

Every NHL All-Star break, things really start to heat up on the trade market. Teams are starting to decide whether they are truly contenders and have had enough time to discuss extensions with their pending free agents. Even those players have now had time to discuss their future, meaning clubs can put some of their best offers on the table.

Now that Major League Baseball may eviscerate more than 25% of minor league teams, Congress must search for ways to protect America’s pastime. More than 80% of Americans live near at least one minor league baseball club. And last year, more than 41 million fans attended a minor league game the 15th year in a row that attendance exceeded 40 million.

Not long after GM Jeff Bridich said the Rockies would not trade Nolan Arenado, the All-Star third baseman said he feels ‘disrespected’ by the organization.

New York Mets quality control coach Luis Rojas, whom they almost hired before making the ill-fated decision to tab

back in the fall could be the next Mets manager.

Cubs’ Marquee TV network will launch on Feb. 22 with new on-air talent but still no deal with Comcast. There’s still nothing signed with Comcast’s Xfinity, by far the Chicago area’s largest carrier as it covers roughly half the market, with less than 10 weeks until opening day.

The National Football League Players Association revealed its latest Top 50 Player Sales List, which sees Kansas City Chiefs quarterback Patrick Mahomes leading the way over New England’s Tom Brady, who finished first the last two years.

A 30-second spot during the Fox broadcast of Super Bowl LIV, which will be played in Miami on Feb. 2, costs as much as $5.6 million.

The NFL will experiment with an alternative to the onside kick during Sunday’s Pro Bowl, an indication that the league is still considering the option despite the fact that owners rejected it last year.

Arizona Diamondbacks Chase Field opened its gates to Arizona State’s wrestling team on Saturday, Jan. 11, and, in doing so, became the first ballpark to host a collegiate wrestling event in history. Arizona State’s January ‘Sun Devil Duals’ were the first of what the university believes will be several future events held at the Diamondbacks’ field.

Former Nebraska head coach Bo Pelini is a “strong candidate” to take the LSU defensive coordinator job. Pelini served as LSU’s defensive coordinator under Les Miles from 2005 to 2007. He is currently the head coach at FCS Youngstown State, where he is 33-28 in five seasons.

Lane Kiffin picked up his first big commitment as Ole Miss’ head coach when ESPN 300 prospect Demon Clowney committed to the Rebels. Clowney is a 6-foot-4, 220-pound defensive end out of St. Frances Academy in Baltimore. He is a cousin of former South Carolina star Jadeveon Clowney.

Georgia filled a need at quarterback when ESPN Junior 300 signal-caller Brock Vandagriff committed to the Dawgs. Vandagriff is the No. 24-ranked recruit in the 2021 class and the No. 2 prospect in the state of Georgia. He’s a 6-foot-3, 200-pound prospect from Prince Avenue Christian School in Bogart, Georgia.

Rutgers returns to the men’s college basketball poll for the first time in more than 40 years since 1979. The Scarlet Knights were ranked No. 24 by The Associated Press on Monday.

Rumors have been circulating for years about the possibility of a Major League Soccer team coming to Las Vegas. At her 2020 State of the City address, Mayor Carolyn Goodman doubled down her vow to push for a Las Vegas-based MLS team. To make that vision a reality, the city needs a tangible stadium plan to present to MLS and get the league’s stamp of approval.

Spanish soccer giants Real Madrid have launched a new innovation brand designed to position the club as a sports industry, social and economic leader. Real Madrid Next, which mirrors the Barca Innovation Hub, will seek to collaborate with startups and companies by offering access to the La Liga club’s resources.

The UFC guaranteed Connor McGregor $3 million, in addition to a percentage of the pay-per-view revenue and a $50,000 bonus for the knockout. Being McGregor’s opponent is lucrative as well, Cerrone earned a career-high $200,000 for competing – perhaps explaining why multiple fighters have since publicly stated they want McGregor’s next fight.

UFC has upped its investment in original content for Facebook where it has more than 26 million global followers to try to convert more mixed martial arts fans into premium pay-per-view buyers.

State sports department and broadcasters to promote Chinese Olympians. China’s General Administration of Sport (GAS) and its National Radio and Television Administration (NRTA) have agreed to create a new Olympic content platform.

Telecom giant Verizon and tax preparation software TurboTax announced they are official sponsors of Twitch Rivals, an esports tournament series that pits popular videogame streamers against each other. The next event in the series will be the Twitch Rivals Streamer Bowl on Jan. 30 in Miami, three days before the Super Bowl.

Most stars at ESPN either have a podcast – or want one. When it comes to new pods, executive Tom Ricks is the man to see. ESPN is being more ‘strategic’ with new podcasts like Mina Kimes’ ‘ESPN Daily,’ said Ricks. ESPN is only launching pods it can monetize.

Did You Know:

Did you know that soccer is the most followed sport

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