The JungleJuly 16, 2019


The NBA office fined Dallas Mavericks owner Mark Cuban $50,000 after he admitted to leaking information from last week’s Board of Governors meeting to a reporter, sources told ESPN.

The fine was not publicly announced, but the league office issued a memo to inform teams of it.

“I appreciate the irony of your reporting on a fine that someone should, but won’t, get fined for leaking to you,” Cuban told ESPN.

Sources said Sacramento Kings owner Vivek Ranadive expressed concern that information about the vote to allow coaches’ challenges was being reported while the meeting was still in session. Cuban immediately admitted that he had leaked the information, sources said.

Cuban was fined because it is a violation of league rules to talk to outsiders about Board of Governors business.

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The JungleJuly 15, 2019


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The JungleJuly 15, 2019


Ezekiel Elliott has quietly expressed his plan to holdout if he doesn’t receive a new contract from the Cowboys.

The two-time Pro Bowl running back still has two years left on his rookie deal after the team exercised his fifth-year option, but wants some reassurance. However, Dallas has expressed re-signing Elliott is not a top priority as the Cowboys try to work out deals with quarterback Dak Prescott and receiver Amari Cooper, as both will be free agents next year.

This may cause Elliott to take action.

According to a report from ProFootballTalk, which cited unidentified league sources, “Elliott has privately said that he will hold out of training camp.”

Cowboys executive vice president Stephen Jones has previously indicated they won’t rush to sign the star.

“Well, I think those are all a work in progress,” Jones said in early May. “Certainly we’ve got a couple years there with Zeke to get that done. We certainly want to get him done.

“He’s the straw, if you will, that stirs our drink. He’s a key part of what we’re about. Those things take time to get done. They don’t happen overnight. Certainly, he’s a priority in terms of ultimately getting him signed. There hasn’t really been a timetable put on this.”

Elliott handled a bulk of the workload for the team last season and earned his second rushing title in three years after he racked up 1,434 yards and six touchdowns on a league-high 304 carries.

He also had 77 receptions for three scores and 567 yards.

The All-Pro selection, who has spent his entire career with the Cowboys after being selected fourth overall in the 2016 draft, has compiled 4,048 yards rushing and 28 touchdowns in his first three seasons.

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The JungleJuly 15, 2019


Amar Sylla, ranked No. 23 in the ESPN 2020 mock draft, has signed a three-year contract containing NBA out clauses with Belgian league champions BC Oostende, his agent Arturo Ortega told ESPN.

“I think this is the best step for me at this stage of my career,” Sylla told ESPN. “I’ve been told that Oostende’s coach, Dario Gjergja, is very highly regarded, and that this club has a strong reputation in Europe. This is an opportunity to get playing time in a good first division league in Europe, as well as the FIBA Champions league, something that is not possible in Spain.”

Sylla, 17, who was born in Dakar, Senegal, has been developing in Spain with Real Madrid since 2016. He was recruited by the Euroleague powerhouse as a 14-year-old despite having only played a few weeks of organized basketball at SEED Academy in Thies.

He has since established himself as one of the top international prospects in his age category in a number of different settings, winning three straight Spanish junior championships at the under-16 and under-18 levels and the Euroleague’s Adidas Next Generation Tournament (ANGT) in May. He has represented his home country at the FIBA level the past two summers at the U18 FIBA Afrobasket Championship, and the U19 World Cup.

Sylla averaged 12.4 points, 8.1 rebounds, 3.1 blocks and 1.5 assists in just 21 minutes per game in the ANGT, shooting 61% from the field and 85% from the free throw line.

Sylla measured 6-foot-9 with a 7-3 wingspan and 9-1 standing reach at the NBA Basketball Without Borders Global Camp in Charlotte during All-Star weekend in February, putting himself on the radar with NBA teams with his ability to cover ground fluidly defensively and get off his feet exceptional quickness.

He shows promising touch on his jump shot, the ability to handle the ball in the open court, and can make highlight-reel caliber plays around the basket with his length and verticality. Scouts will want to see him add bulk to his lean frame, continue to polish his skill level in the half court and improve his decision-making on both ends of the floor.

Sylla will spend next season playing for a team that has won the past eight championships in Belgium, and he will compete in the pan-European FIBA Champions League against teams from Spain, Italy, France, Turkey and Israel. Gjergja said Sylla will be expected to play a significant role.

“We’re building a young team with a lot of talent and we’re very happy to sign one of the top prospects in Europe,” Gjergja said. “I hope to be able to help Amar reach the highest levels — the Euroleague or NBA. In Real Madrid he played as a center, but I think with us he can become more versatile than that.

“One of the things we will try to do is to develop his shooting range as fast as possible. The plan is to open games with him in the starting lineup, so step by step he will gain confidence and become a better player. If we will be smart with him and he shows he is capable of working hard and coming with the right mentality every day, there is no doubt that we will be successful together. If we can help Amar make the next step and develop into a NBA player, that would be fantastic for our club. All this young talent on our roster will bring more people to our gym, not just fans, but also NBA scouts and general managers.”

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The JungleJuly 15, 2019


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The JungleJuly 15, 2019


Opting to focus on the upcoming season with the Los Angeles Lakers, Anthony Davis has decided not to participate in the upcoming USA Basketball training camp and FIBA Basketball World Cup, sources confirmed to ESPN.

League sources familiar with the situation confirmed to ESPN’s Dave McMenamin and Ramona Shelburne that Davis is not ruling out playing for the 2020 Olympic team, but wants to spend this offseason focusing on the 2019-20 season with his new team and helping the Lakers contend for a championship.

Yahoo Sports first reported Davis’ decision not to participate in next month’s USA Basketball training camp in Las Vegas and to remove his name from consideration for September’s FIBA Basketball World Cup.

Davis was a member of the 2012 USA Olympic squad and also of the national team that played in the 2014 FIBA Basketball World Cup.

He was officially introduced as a Laker on Saturday after he was acquired in a blockbuster deal that sent Lonzo Ball, Brandon Ingram, Josh Hart, the draft rights to the No. 4 overall pick De’Andre Hunter, two first-round picks, a first-round pick swap and cash to the New Orleans Pelicans. The Lakers also dealt Moritz Wagner, Isaac Bonga, Jemerrio Jones and a second-round pick to the Washington Wizards as part of the trade.

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The JungleJuly 15, 2019


The Rays were three outs away from history Sunday.

Tampa Bay was close to pitching the first combined perfect game in MLB history.

The Rays used an opener against the Orioles, which was first made popular by the team. It would have been the first time multiple pitchers pulled off the feat as all 23 previous perfect games have been thrown by a single pitcher.

Ryne Stanek started the game for the Rays and pitched two innings. Ryan Yarbrough took over and threw the next six innings without allowing a baserunner. He stayed on to start the ninth, but it was there Tampa Bay’s impressive outing was sullied.

Yarbrough allowed a single to leadoff hitter Hanser Alberto to end the team’s chance at history.

“It would have been pretty sweet to finish it off like that,” Stanek said, via “If you’re the first to do something in baseball, you did something.”

Baltimore went on to record three hits in the losing effort.

Austin Meadows and Mike Brosseau each hit a home run to highlight the Rays’ offensive efforts.

Anthony Santander delivered the Orioles’ only run with an RBI single .

Studs of the Night

Masahiro Tanaka pitched six innings allowing four hits and two earned runs while striking out five in the Yankees’ 4-2 win over the Blue Jays.

Robinson Cano hit a home run in his second consecutive game as the Mets beat the Marlins, 6-2.

Duds of the Night

White Sox shortstop Jose Rondon made a throwing error in an effort to start a double play in the ninth inning against the Athletics, who turned it into a scoring opportunity to win 3-2.

Tyler Mahle allowed 12 hits and six earned runs in the Reds’ 10-9 loss to the Rockies.


The Astros love grand slams. José Altuve hit the team’s ninth slam of the season, which is the most in MLB – no other team has recorded more than five.

What a save by Ronald Acuña Jr.

Max Muncy drew a bases-loaded walk in the 12th inning to put the Dodgers ahead for good in the five-plus hour contest against the Red Sox.

What’s Next?

Braves (57-37) at Brewers (48-46), 8:10 p.m. ET – The Brewers are trying to catch up to the National League Central-leading Cubs but first have to get through the Braves. Atlanta holds the top spot in the NL East and have won seven of its last 10 games. The Brewers will send Adrian Houser (2-3, 4.01) to the mound with the hopes of jump-starting the second half of the season. The Braves will counter with Max Fried (9-4, 4.29).

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The JungleJuly 15, 2019


MILWAUKEE — About 20,000 Milwaukee Bucks fans packed the courtyard outside Fiserv Forum — nicknamed the “Deer District” — to celebrate Giannis Antetokounmpo‘s MVP award. Some fans wore Antetokounmpo jerseys. Others showed up Sunday with homemade posters and intricate paintings of Antetokounmpo.

The Bucks had set up a temporary stage where a DJ played. The actual ceremony — during which Antetokounmpo briefly addressed the crowd and held up the trophy — lasted just 15 minutes, but fans showed up to stake out the perfect selfie spot hours before the Bucks star arrived.

When Antetokounmpo took the stage around 3:15 p.m. CT, he grabbed a microphone with the Bucks’ moniker on it and asked the crowd for three favors. After asking fans in attendance to show up for every game next season and to pose for a crowded selfie, Antetokounmpo urged them not to call him the Most Valuable Player anymore.

“After this day, please don’t call me the MVP until I win it again next year,” he said. The crowd roared with delight.

On Saturday, Antetokounmpo told ESPN that he had reached only 60 percent of his basketball potential. He expanded on that Sunday, saying, “I’ve got a lot of things that I can improve on. In my head, when I say that I am only 60 percent, it makes me want to improve. Obviously, I can add a jump shot to my game.” Then Antetokounmpo yelled out to the crowd asking for more suggestions on improvements he could make.

“Free throws,” one man screamed.

“Three-pointers,” a woman yelled.

“We love you,” another man shouted.

The “Greek Freak” laughed and nodded through all the responses.

Antetokounmpo, 24, had more to say about it to reporters afterward.

“I get mad when my girlfriend says, ‘You know you’re really good, you’re one of the best,'” Antetokounmpo said. “I’m like, ‘No, I’m not,’ because whenever that happens I relax. I am a person where whatever I do, I do it 100 percent. If I am lazy, I am lazy 100 percent. I don’t want to relax a bit because I’m not done yet. I want to be for multiple years the best player in the league.”

Antetokounmpo concluded his speech to fans by saying, “Let’s go win the big trophy now,” in reference to the Larry O’Brien championship trophy.

After a final energetic back-and-forth with the crowd, Antetokounmpo walked down the steps of the stage and watched a short video that featured short clips of former Bucks star Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, teammates Khris Middleton and Pat Connaughton, Brewers player Christian Yelich, Antetokounmpo’s brothers, mother and others congratulating him on his award.

After the ceremony, Antetokounmpo held a brief and wide-ranging news conference in which he talked about his summer travels, the Bucks’ offseason roster moves and his signature shoe.

Antetokounmpo said he was pleased with how the Bucks’ roster had taken shape. He would have “loved” to have seen Malcolm Brogdon — who signed a three-year, $85 million deal with the Indiana Pacers — return to the Bucks. He conceded that when it comes to roster construction, numbers aren’t his specialty, and he understood why it was best that Brogdon moved on.

“Obviously, we didn’t have enough to bring him back,” Antetokounmpo said of Brogdon. “That’s my brother. I wish him nothing but the best going forward. I know he is going to kill it in Indiana — hopefully not against us. I think we have guys that will step up and take that role.”

This summer has been a whirlwind, Antetokounmpo said. Just in the past month, he has been in Greece, Los Angeles, Milwaukee and Las Vegas.

Antetokounmpo said he isn’t sure how the busy offseason, combined with the deepest postseason run he has been a part of, will affect his performance next season.

“I might come back and be tired for the first month,” Antetokounmpo said. “I really don’t know how it is going to go for me, but I am going to learn from it. Hopefully next year when we go — if we go — all the way, I got to know how to react.”

Then, Antetokounmpo picked up the MVP trophy, walked through the hallways of Fiserv Forum and back outside, where he proceeded to block children’s layups with a smile on his face.

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The JungleJuly 14, 2019


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The JungleJuly 14, 2019


LONDON — After four hours and 55 minutes, Novak Djokovic won the fifth-set tiebreak in Wimbledon’s longest singles final to beat Roger Federer in a match for the ages.

The fifth set lasted just under two hours in itself, but it was Djokovic who edged past Federer in an epic 7-6, 1-6, 7-6, 6-5, 13-12 (3) victory — Wimbledon’s first fifth-set tiebreak under new rules introduced this year.

Djokovic saved two championship points in the final set, and his resilience and ability to swing tiebreaks in his favor saw him clinch his fifth career Wimbledon singles title. Here’s how he did it:

Federer gets tight in the tiebreaks

Have a look at the stats and you’d think Federer had this match in the bag. He had a better first serve percentage, more first- and second-serve points won, a better return record and more break points won. Everything went in Federer’s favor — including 40 more winners than Djokovic — while he converted seven of 13 break opportunities.

However, taking all this into account, there was one statistic where Djokovic had the edge: unforced errors, as Federer hit nine more than Djokovic. And herein lies the story of the match. Djokovic didn’t get his first break of serve until the fourth set, but he was already up two sets to one at that stage.

Djokovic managed to find the mental edge in the tiebreaks, focusing just long enough in each to fend off Federer. Federer made an uncharacteristic eight errors across the two tiebreaks in the first and third sets and, by the fifth, Djokovic answered everything Federer threw at him. The pair have now played four five-set matches in Grand Slams and Djokovic has won all four.

Djokovic sticks to the plan



Novak Djokovic wins the third set to take a 2-1 lead over Roger Federer.

Federer tried to mix things up against Djokovic. He spoke prematch about how he knew Djokovic’s game inside out — he targeted Djokovic’s backhand with sliced shots, keeping them low while also nullifying the threat of Djokovic’s rocket forehand. Federer also knew if the game descended into rallying, then more often than not the relentless Djokovic would come through. So he tried to force the tempo, utilizing more serve-volley than we have seen and generally pushing the pace of the match. Federer charged to the net 27 times more than Djokovic and won 15 percent more points.

Equally, on his serve, Federer caused Djokovic all manner of difficulty by using his brilliantly neutral ball toss to disguise which way his serve was going. Djokovic struggled throughout the match to read it, with Federer clocking up 25 aces to Djokovic’s 10. However, in the tiebreaks, Djokovic went on the front foot, gambling on occasion and causing Federer to make uncharacteristic errors.

In the end, it came down to Djokovic converting key points when they mattered most, like those two championship points he saved when down 7-8 in the fifth. During the mini-breaks in the decisive tiebreak, Djokovic reversed the trend and converted more points off his first serve than Federer to secure the title.

Survival of the fittest



Novak Djokovic outlasts Roger Federer in a marathon fifth set to win his fifth Wimbledon title and 16th Grand Slam.

Federer turns 38 in just over three weeks and would have become the oldest-ever winner of a Grand Slam title had he clung on in the fifth set.

Djokovic is already 32, but he too could be around for some time to come. He even paid tribute to Federer’s longevity in his postmatch speech, calling his opponent an inspiration.

Neither man seems to be slowing down. In the fifth set, they both covered more ground per point than at any other moment in the match (Djokovic clocked in at 12.5 metres per point to Federer’s 12.2). With neither looking likely to crack at 6-5 in the final set, Djokovic even had to check with the umpire when exactly a tiebreak would come into effect.

Far from it being a sign of a loss of focus, Djokovic remained in the zone throughout. He would save two championship points in dramatic style and simply refused to buckle before overpowering Federer in the decisive tiebreak. His fifth Wimbledon title does not feel like it will be his last.

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