The JungleMay 21, 2019


Zion Williamson is already learning what it’s like to be part of the NBA media machine.

The Duke star’s old comments from a Home Team Hoops documentary resurfaced after New Orleans won the 2019 NBA Draft lottery – and caused quite a stir. Multiple outlets reported Williamson, who was 16 years old at the time, saying that Pelicans forward Anthony Davis and Wizards guard John Wall turned him down when he asked for autographs. Not a great look for either guy.

Pelicans, Knicks, Hawks snag Duke stars; Lakers pick sharpshooter

Here’s the problem: That’s not what Williamson said.

He explained that he always wanted to meet players like Davis and Wall, and it would have hurt his feelings if they had decided not to sign autographs for fans. (The key word there is “if.”)

“Jaylen Brown, Stanley Johnson, John Wall, Anthony Davis. I would always dream of meeting them or getting to go see them play in high school, but I never had the chance,” Williamson said. “But I always told myself, ‘I work hard enough, maybe I can get in that type of spotlight.’ …

“I try to sign every kid’s autograph because I don’t want to turn a little kid down because I know it will hurt him. Because it would hurt me if someone like Anthony Davis, John Wall turned me down. So I try to sign everybody’s.”

Sure, Zion vs. AD is a lot more interesting as a headline, but the actual quote is harmless. Williamson comes off as a humble, hard-working kid in the documentary, so calling out NBA All-Stars would be more than a little out of character for him.

You can watch the full Home Team Hoops video below. Williamson’s comments about signing autographs come around the 4:45 mark.

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The JungleMay 21, 2019


Portland Trail Blazers fans fell in love all over again with their team this season, from the breathtaking performances of their star guards to the toughness of their role players to the mere presence of their wounded center in the playoffs.

The end against the Golden State Warriors was bitter. Even as they admired watching the champs work, all in the Rose City will mutter, “they could’ve been up 2-1, you know” for years into the future. Nonetheless, despite the sweep, it was an inspired playoff run that generally warmed the region.

After decompression, though, there are going to be a few possibly stressful issues that will confront the organization.

At the heart is this: There’s a queue of Blazers who are in line to be paid, and it isn’t clear if ownership will foot the bill or even keep the team.

Among those who are in position for an extension are Damian Lillard, CJ McCollum, coach Terry Stotts and maybe even president of basketball operations Neil Olshey. Then there are free agents Al-Farouq Aminu, Rodney Hood, Enes Kanter, Seth Curry and Jake Layman.

Last Oct. 15, just three days before the start of the season, longtime Blazers owner Paul Allen died. This was a devastating blow to the entire Pacific Northwest, where Allen wasn’t just a billionaire owner of the Blazers and Seattle Seahawks but a philanthropist and businessman who positively affected the lives of many.

Allen had been sick with cancer, but his passing was still disorienting because he’d beaten the disease before. Just two weeks before his death, he had announced that the cancer had returned and that doctors were optimistic he’d see good results from treatment.

His sister Jody Allen is the lone heir to his massive estate, making her the Blazers owner now. She has not shown a great interest in the team and didn’t attend a game until April, when she came to see the team break a long-forgotten 10-game playoff losing streak. The franchise is being led day-to-day by vice chairman Bert Kolde, Paul Allen’s close friend and business associate who has held the role since 1988.

Paul Allen ran the Blazers like a fan, pouring in money over the years. He spent more than $100 million on luxury taxes alone, an outsized number for a small market like Portland. He loved the draft and bought so many draft picks over the years that it contributed to the NBA capping the amount teams could spend to purchase them.

Though he’d become more judicious with his spending over the past decade, the team had the league’s fourth-highest payroll this season at more than $130 million, not including a $15 million luxury-tax charge.

But it’s unclear if Jody Allen will authorize future spending deep into the luxury tax. Those in the organization have been told there are no changes planned in the short term but there’s been little offered beyond that. There is a possibility the team could be prepared to be put on the market, and typically that might mean controlling payroll.

A number of players’ contracts expire in 2020, when the team’s books would potentially be cleaned up (especially if they have a quiet summer).

In the coming days, Lillard will officially be named to the All-NBA team for the second straight season, making him eligible for a supermax contract extension. A bona fide in-his-prime superstar, he’s under contract until 2021.

Stars like James Harden, Russell Westbrook and John Wall were in this position and extended their deals two years ahead of free agency. If the Blazers offer — and all signs point toward them doing so, though there would be deal points to negotiate — Lillard will be able to add four years and about $191 million to his contact starting July 1. That would put him under contract for the next six seasons for a total of $221 million, a deal that will likely finish out his prime.

However, Lillard has the option of waiting a season because he will now be eligible to sign a supermax in the summer of 2020 as well. At that time, he’d be in position to add five years and $247 million to his deal to create a six-year, $277 million deal that would project to be the richest in NBA history.

You can see the difference in the numbers that waiting a year would make. With uncertain ownership, you could make a case that he should wait. That said, Lillard is at ease with the ownership and is open to extending this summer, sources said. Soon to be 29, Lillard has expressed an interest in locking himself in, as he and his family are settled in Portland.

McCollum also can extend this summer. Like Lillard, he has two years and $57 million left on his contract. The Blazers could offer McCollum three years and up to $114 million in an extension. This is a big decision for both sides because McCollum could make significantly more if he waits but it’s also the kind of outlay that would take a major commitment from ownership long term.

Elsewhere, Olshey did a fantastic job putting the team together this season, but he’s not likely going to be able to keep it. With the Blazers already over the cap for next season, they will be limited players in free agency, even before ownership directives are clear. Complicating matters further, they don’t have full rights on Curry, Hood or Kanter and will likely only have the $5.7 million taxpayer midlevel to use.

The Blazers may try to ease their salary situation by moving Meyers Leonard, who’s had some moments in these playoffs, but they’ve been trying that one for years now and no one has been too interested.

Meanwhile, Stotts has one year left on his contract. He reportedly preferred to land an extension last summer but after a disappointing performance in the playoffs in 2018, it was not granted. One of the league’s longest-tenured coaches, he’s earned security. So, perhaps, has Olshey, who has two years left on his deal.

There are a lot of decisions to be made. But ultimately the Blazers are going to retain their best players and there’s optimism that Jusuf Nurkic is already recovering well from his terrible broken leg. It’s been easy to forget how much they accomplished without him.

With the face of the West maybe changing as Kevin Durant decides on free agency, they are well positioned to remain among the contenders next year.

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The JungleMay 21, 2019


PORTLAND, Ore. — There is no award for most valuable player of the conference finals. If there were, there’s a good chance Draymond Green would’ve won it for his play with the Golden State Warriors in their sweep of the Portland Trail Blazers.

His defense was just sensational. His playmaking was at the highest levels he has maybe ever shown, nearly averaging a triple-double at 16.5 points, 11.8 rebounds and 8.8 assists. He ran the floor like a point guard. And he hit the game-winning shot in overtime of Game 4, a clutch 3-pointer in the 119-117 win that clinched the Western Conference finals on Monday night.

Players and coaches on both sides, plus the large media contingent, have praised Green for days. After calling him a “wrecking ball” following an awesome Game 3 on Saturday, Warriors head coach Steve Kerr was asked to come up with an even better metaphor for Green the next day. He apologized that he couldn’t.

But in all fairness, Green wasn’t the best player in the series.

This sweep was a genuine masterpiece for Stephen Curry. Perhaps the stakes weren’t high enough nor the opponent severe enough to call it the best playoff series of his career for it to qualify — actually, forget that, it was the best series of his career.

Curry has never dominated a series like he did over these past four games, doing so in a time of need, with Kevin Durant out — and Andre Iguodala hobbled, then sidelined himself. Actually, call it the best 4.5 games of Curry’s playoff career, when you include his 33-point second half to close out the Houston Rockets in Game 6 of the previous round.

Curry has said many times during the past week that this was a special time because he was playing against his brother, Seth, in this series. But it’s going to be a special memory because of just how dominating he was.

With his 37 points on Monday, Stephen Curry finished the series averaging a career-high 36.5 points. It was the most points any player has averaged in a four-game sweep in league history. The 26 3-pointers he made were another NBA record for the first four games of a series, some of them just preposterous, such as the long-range missile he made at the end of the first half on Monday that cracked the Blazers’ momentum.



Steph Curry shares some of the best moments that he shared with Seth during the Western Conference finals.

The stats could go on and on, but let’s pause for a moment. No one freaked out about Curry’s greatness these past four games. There was intense praise for Green, universal acclaim for the Warriors’ role players and odes to Golden State’s championship mettle. All totally legitimate.

But Curry’s triple-double in Game 4 — he also posted 13 rebounds and 11 assists — threatened to be relegated to a footnote. So was the fact that he played the entire second half and overtime. That he did all of this with a pesky finger injury — he dislocated his middle finger in Game 2 against Houston — was brushed off.

That’s because Curry has achieved one of the greatest levels a player can: He has normalized greatness.

Michael Jordan did this. LeBron James did this. Tim Duncan did this. There’s such an expectation that Curry will deliver that when he does, there’s an absence of appropriate acclaim.

Yep, just another good game for Curry. Oh, by the way: Had he not lost his mind for a second and needlessly traveled before hitting at 3-pointer at the end of the fourth quarter, he would’ve ho-hummed his way to an ultra-rare 40-point triple-double in a road closeout game in the conference finals.

“We still don’t take anything for granted,” Curry said. “We understand how hard it is to end at this level. We don’t want to end as long as we can control it.”

It’s good advice. Curry’s play since Durant’s injury — Curry had 12 points in the fourth quarter of Game 5 against the Rockets after Durant came up lame to finish off that crucial win — should not be taken for granted.

“I just can’t say enough about the competitive desire about the group of players that we have here and the culture that they have built together,” Kerr said. “Being without Kevin these last five games has put us in a really tough spot, and our guys stepped up in a big way.”

A bunch of guys have for sure. But one in particular deserves special notice.

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The JungleMay 21, 2019


Price: $227.00 - Too low to display
(as of May 21,2019 09:30:04 UTC – Details)


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Finish: Blue
Material: Synthetic Upholstery, Nylon Base
Reclining Back with a removable head rest pillow and lumbar cushion for extra comfort
Height Adjustable Seat and Armrest.
Nylon base with Blue end caps and matching colored wheels included.

The JungleMay 21, 2019


Former Formula One driver and three-time world champion Niki Lauda has died at the age of 70.

F1 legend Lauda, who won world titles in 1975, 1977 and 1984, died “peacefully” Monday, his family confirmed.

Lauda is considered to be one of the greatest F1 drivers in history and won two championships with Ferrari and one during his time at McLaren.

“With deep sadness, we announce that our beloved Niki has peacefully passed away with his family on Monday,” his family said in a statement. “His unique achievements as an athlete and entrepreneur are and will remain unforgettable, his tireless zest for action, his straightforwardness and his courage remain.

“A role model and a benchmark for all of us, he was a loving and caring husband, father and grandfather away from the public, and he will be missed.”

Lauda survived a near-fatal crash during the 1976 German Grand Prix at Nurburgring, where his Ferrari burst into flames.

The Austrian driver was left with serve burns to his face, body and lungs, however, he returned to win the title the following year.

Lauda also worked in senior management roles within F1, including as non-executive chairman of Mercedes since 2012 and he played a key role in signing Lewis Hamilton.

“All at McLaren are deeply saddened to learn that our friend, colleague and 1984 Formula 1 World Champion, Niki Lauda, has passed away. Niki will forever be in our hearts and enshrined in our history,” McLaren said.

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The JungleMay 21, 2019


Using the word “betrayal,” Magic Johnson made it clear that general manager Rob Pelinka was the one “backstabbing” him, telling people that Johnson wasn’t working hard and wanting to take his job with the Los Angeles Lakers.

In an appearance on First Take on Monday morning, Johnson did not hold back, identifying Pelinka as the person to whom he was alluding when he mentioned that he was tired of the “backstabbing” and “the whispering” that was going on behind his back when he suddenly stepped down as Lakers president of basketball operations on April 9.

“I start hearing, ‘Magic, you are not working hard enough. Magic’s not in the office,'” Johnson told First Take. “People around the Lakers office were telling me Rob was saying things, Rob Pelinka, and I didn’t like those things being said behind my back, that I wasn’t in the office enough. So I started getting calls from my friends outside of basketball saying those things now were said to them outside of basketball now, just not in the Lakers office anymore.”

Johnson later added, when asked who had betrayed him in the Lakers organization: “If you are going to talk betrayal, it’s only with Rob.”

Pelinka answered several questions about Johnson’s explosive comments while introducing new Lakers coach Frank Vogel to the Los Angeles media on Monday morning. Pelinka said Johnson’s allegations weren’t true and that he had just spoken with his former boss “two days ago” about the Lakers landing the fourth pick in the lottery.

“I think the most important thing for me is the two years of being able to work side by side with Earvin are the some of the greatest memories I have in sports and work,” Pelinka said. “He is an unbelievable person to work with. He fills the room with joy and vision. And truly it’s saddening and disheartening to think he believes things are a misperception. I think all of us in life probably have been through things where maybe there’s third party whispers or he said, she said things that aren’t true. I have talked to him several times since he decided to step away and we had many joy-filled conversations.”

He added: “So these things are surprising to hear and disheartening but I look forward to the opportunity to talk with him and sit down with him and work through them just like in any relationship. They’re just simply not true. I stand beside him. I stand with him as a colleague, as a partner. I’ve always supported everything he’s done and will continue to.”

Johnson’s departure stunned the NBA, with star LeBron James saying he would have appreciated at least a phone call.

“I respect LeBron for what he just said,” Johnson said after watching a clip of James’ comments on HBO’s “The Shop.” “I love LeBron, I love his family … but sometimes as a man, you have to make decisions based on your well-being. And I made that decision.”

A source close to James told ESPN that he thought Johnson “did well” during his appearance on Monday morning.

Johnson explained that the other reason he ultimately stepped down before the Lakers’ regular-season finale was that he felt he no longer had the power to make decisions, having previously answered just to controlling owner Jeanie Buss. Johnson said he wasn’t allowed to fire then-head coach Luke Walton after Tim Harris, Lakers president of basketball operations/NBA alternate governor, became too involved in basketball decisions.

“The straw that broke the camel’s back was I wanted to fire Luke Walton,” Johnson said. “I showed her the things he did well and the things he didn’t do well. I said, listen, we got to get a better coach. First day, well, let’s think about it. Second day, OK, you can fire him. Then the next day, no, we should try to work it out.

“So we went back and forth like that, and then she brought Tim Harris into the meeting, some of the guys, and Tim wanted to keep him because he was friends with him. I said, when I looked up, I only really answer to Jeanie Buss. Now I got Tim involved. It’s time for me to go. I got things happening that were being said behind my back. I don’t have the power I thought I had to make decisions. And I told them, when it is not fun for me, when I think I don’t have the decision-making power I thought I had, I got to step aside.”

Johnson said he had no problem with trying to help Joey Buss, co-owner/team president of the South Bay Lakers, and Jesse Buss, co-owner/director scouting and assistant GM, to eventually move up in the front office. But Johnson also explained that there are too many people in the Lakers organization trying to have a say in basketball matters.

“[Harris] is supposed to run Lakers business but he was trying to come over to our side,” Johnson said. “Have everybody who has a role with the Lakers, stay in that role. OK, Tim Harris, you’re the president of business, stay over there in business. Jesse and Joey [Buss], hey, you’re the general manager assistant to Rob. Joey, you run the G League team. Then do that and do it well. Once you show you can drive excellence, now maybe you can move to another department. But right now, everybody has a voice.”

Johnson said that Jeanie Buss is listening to those closest to her, including longtime friend and Lakers executive director/special projects Linda Rambis and former Lakers head coach and her ex-fiancé, Phil Jackson.

Johnson said stepping down was not related to being unable to fire Pelinka.

Johnson said he was prepared to help elevate Pelinka to eventually replace him, but that he could no longer work alongside someone he felt was trying to undercut him.

When asked if anyone else had backstabbed him, Johnson said it was just Pelinka.

“Just Rob,” Johnson said. “Other people didn’t bother me … what happened was I wasn’t having fun coming to work anymore, especially when I got to work beside you, knowing that you want my position.”

With the Lakers mired in controversy, there has been speculation that the team should consider trading James.

Johnson said “that’s not going to happen.”

“Listen, this guy is special,” Johnson said of James, whose first season with the Lakers was sidetracked by a groin injury that cost him 17 consecutive games in the middle of the season. “He has helped our young players so much. He’s made Kyle Kuzma better, Brandon Ingram better. The way he approaches the game … and I’ll tell you who he really took aside, Lonzo Ball. He has been a great influence.”

James will need more help this coming season, and the Lakers could have $32.5 million in salary-cap space this summer to potentially sign a max free agent.

Johnson was asked to name his top free agent. He laughed that he doesn’t have to worry about tampering anymore and can say whatever he wants.

“With speculation that KD [Kevin Durant] is going somewhere else … speculation that he is going to New York … I love Kevin,” Johnson said. “Or he might stay in Golden State. I would say Kawhi [Leonard] and Kyrie [Irving] are the two guys, one of those two.”

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The JungleMay 20, 2019


Price: $35.99
(as of May 20,2019 21:29:01 UTC – Details)


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The JungleMay 20, 2019


We may never see another player like Chris Wondolowski. Not only is Wondolowski a unique blend of talent, perseverance, humility and guile, he followed a path to an all-time goal-scoring record in Major League Soccer that is practically gone in 2019.

– Exclusive: Landon Donovan on what makes Wondo great
– Carlisle: How Wondo broke MLS’s all-time record

As teams rush to develop players at younger and younger ages, the possibility of a late bloomer in the Wondolowski mold getting a chance to work on his game for multiple years before finally earning a shot to play and grow into an all-time great is almost difficult to imagine.

On the occasion of Wondolowski’s record-breaking performance, it’s worth repeating that the San Jose player is one of a kind.

Previous rankings: Week 11 | Week 10 | Week 9 | Week 8 | Week 7 | Week 6 | Week 5 | Week 4 | Week 3 | Week 2 | Week 1

1. LAFC (9 wins, 4 draws, 1 loss)

Previous ranking: 1

Next MLS match: Friday, May 24, 10:30 p.m. ET vs. Montreal, ESPN+

It’s the old Thursday-Sunday-Friday run for LAFC, who maintain their “best in MLS” status after the Thursday and Saturday legs and four points earned against FC Dallas. Bob Bradley’s team was just a little off in front of goal over the two games, but that’s admittedly a quibble.

Previous ranking: 2

Next MLS match: Sunday, May 26, 6 p.m. ET at Sporting Kansas City

Wednesday was about winning. Saturday was about not losing. That’s the reality for a team crossing the country on short rest to face a quality opponent coming off a week’s preparation, so credit Brian Schmetzer and the 63 different players (roughly) he used between the two games.

Previous ranking: 3

Next MLS match: Saturday, May 25, 8 p.m. ET at Minnesota, ESPN+

Good soccer team the Houston Dynamo got a game-winner from Tommy McNamara — his first goal in two years — on Saturday to close out a four-point week. Whether good soccer team will be without star attacker Alberth Elis for any length of time, after the Honduran left the D.C. United match early, is a concern.

Previous ranking: 4

Next MLS match: Saturday, May 25, 7:30 p.m. ET vs. Portland, ESPN+

The harsh take is that a true contender should be able to handle a weakened version of a good team at home. The kinder take is that Philly was the better team against Seattle and can take confidence from a goalless draw. Good thing Philly sports fans are known for being reasonable.

Previous ranking: 6

Next MLS match: Saturday, May 25, 7:30 p.m. ET at New England, ESPN+

United somehow managed to survive a Canadian barrage on Wednesday and get a point in Toronto, then collapsed in two minutes on the way to a frustrating loss in Houston on Saturday. It was a “that’s so MLS” type of week, with D.C.’s young, rotated team getting the tough result and the first choice side dropping the game in Texas.

Previous ranking: 5

Next MLS match: Friday, May 24, 7 p.m. ET at Orlando

No Zlatan Ibrahimovic, no goals and a loss against the worst team in the league. It’s hard to see how Sunday could have been any worse for the Galaxy, short of major injury to a crucial player. No Zlatan for the trip to Orlando on Friday either. If LA manages to lose to the Lions, there won’t be many good feelings left.

Previous ranking: 7

Next MLS match: Saturday, May 25, 3:30 p.m. ET at Chicago

A week off for the Bronx-dwellers, the kind that can either be a welcome respite from a busy schedule or a brick wall to well-earned momentum.

Previous ranking: 9

Next MLS match: Saturday, May 25, 7 p.m. ET at Vancouver, ESPN+

Back-to-back matches against LAFC — one in LA, one in Texas — revealed FC Dallas to be what we knew them to be: talented, tough but a level below the elite of Major League Soccer. The toughness will be the takeaway, especially considering they played a down a man for most of the second half.

Previous ranking: 8

Next MLS match: Sunday, May 26, 7:30 p.m. ET vs. San Jose, ESPN+

Zero goals on 45 shots this week from the Reds, who won’t want to dwell on the rough results in a pair of games. Alejandro Pozuelo‘s blistering start in MLS was always going to cool off, but it doesn’t appear Toronto was ready to pick up the slack elsewhere. If the defense doesn’t get better, Toronto might be in trouble.

Previous ranking: 10

Next MLS match: Friday, May 24, 10:30 p.m. at LAFC, ESPN+

Ignacio Piatti is back. After two months out injured, the Argentine returned to the field as a sub in Saturday’s draw in New England. No one outside of Carson relies on one player to drive the attack more than the Impact, and he could not have come back at a better time: Friday’s trip to LAFC is the toughest match of the year.

Previous ranking: 11

Next MLS match: Wednesday, May 22, 8 p.m. ET vs. Vancouver, ESPN+



Tom Barlow’s first MLS goal was also the winner for the New York Red Bulls, as they overcame Atlanta United despite being a man down for much of the game.

No one does emotional, desperation wins like the Red Bulls in 2019. Sunday’s 1-0 victory over Atlanta definitely fit that bill, with New York playing the last 55 minutes of the match down a man and the winning goal coming from a player signed from the USL team less than two weeks ago.

Previous ranking: 12

Next MLS match: Friday, May 24, 9 p.m. ET at Salt Lake

Since we last met, Atlanta squeaked out a win in Vancouver and extended their run without conceding a goal, then saw that streak ended by a 10-man Red Bull team on Sunday. Flat Atlanta — Flatlanta, if you will — was back with a (dispiriting) vengeance this week. Over to you, Frank.

Previous ranking: 13

Next MLS match: Saturday, May 25, 8 p.m. ET vs. Houston, ESPN+

Once upon a time, Ethan Finlay was a red-hot goal-scoring winger for the Columbus Crew. Then the Crew traded him to Minnesota. In early 2018, he tore his ACL and missed the rest of the season. On Saturday, Finlay scored for the first time since coming back from that injury to lead the Loons to a win against the Crew. The end.

Previous ranking: 15

Next MLS match: Friday, May 24, 9 p.m. ET vs. Atlanta

We’re officially filing a request with Major League Soccer and Real Salt Lake for Sebastian “Bofo” Saucedo to score more long-range blasts because it’s so much fun to yell “BOFO!” It might not be the best nickname in MLS — there’s a guy called “Cobra” in Dallas — but it’s close.

Previous ranking: 14

Next MLS match: Saturday, May 25, 9 p.m. ET at Colorado, ESPN+

Not only did the Crew slip below the playoff line in the Eastern Conference this weekend, they’re slipping quickly into the “bad” part of the power rankings. Losing seven of your last eight will do that sort of damage to your standing, but it’s the lack of goals (six in those eight matches) that should set off alarms.

Previous ranking: 17

Next MLS match: Saturday, May 25, 7:30 p.m. ET at Philadelphia, ESPN+

One more road match until the grand reopening of Providence Park, Timbers fans. May your dreams be filled with visions of Sebastian Blanco setting up Brian Fernandez for goals in the Timbers Army end from now until June 1. Here’s a tip: Imagine Fernandez’s equalizer against Houston, only in Portland.

Previous ranking: 19

Next MLS match: Friday, May 24, 7 p.m. ET vs. LA Galaxy

Nani is OK, Tesho Akindele‘s feeling fine and the Lions head into a showdown with the Zlatan-less Galaxy next Friday bursting with confidence following a big win. Orlando fought FC Cincinnati, the heat and the quick turnaround after a midweek trip to Seattle and won — that’s worth a some dap.

Previous ranking: 16

Next MLS match: Wednesday, May 22, 8 p.m. ET at RBNY, ESPN+

The Caps are spirited, which is just a nice way to say they’re mostly mediocre with an occasional burst of hard-won success. Wednesday’s match against Atlanta at BC Place was mediocre, hence a goalless performance and a loss. Saturday’s draw in Kansas City was … spirited.

Previous ranking: 20

Next MLS match: Sunday, May 26, 7:30 p.m. ET at Toronto, ESPN+



San Jose’s Chris Wondolowski has broken Landon Donovan’s all-time MLS goals record with the first two of four strikes in a 4-1 win over the Chicago Fire.

Wondo did it in Wondo style, popping up at the back post, taking advantage of defensive mistakes and calmly finishing first-time chances. He’ll tell you that the win was what mattered — he celebrated with his teammates on all four goals — but Saturday was Wondo’s day. He earned every bit of it.

Previous ranking: 18

Next MLS match: Saturday, May 25, 3:30 p.m. ET vs. NYCFC

The Fire’s lamentable performance in San Jose will mercifully get buried by the story of Wondolowski’s ascension to the top of the all-time MLS goal-scoring list. It’s like being the bar during a world-record high jump: essential to the proceedings but nothing more than a prop.

Previous ranking: 21

Next MLS match: Sunday, May 26, 6 p.m. ET vs. Seattle

Sporting’s injury crisis is so bad that the injuries have injuries. Peter Vermes was forced to use the league roster contingency rules to make up the numbers against Vancouver, a game that saw the club fail to win for the seventh straight match. The gut-punch equalizer scored by the Caps only adds to the cumulative hurt.

Previous ranking: 23

Next MLS match: Saturday, May 25, 7:30 p.m. ET vs. DC United, ESPN+

The Bruce has arrived in New England. Updates as events warrant. A goalless draw doesn’t really count.

Previous ranking: 22

Next MLS match: Saturday, May 25, 7:30 p.m. ET vs. RBNY, ESPN+

Through 125 minutes, Yoann Damet looked like a miracle worker. Then the wheels came off in Orlando. Damet can’t be held responsible for Kendall Waston going full Curt Hennig on Lamine Sane, but the eventual 5-1 humiliation against the Lions will take some of the shine off the 29-year-old’s start as interim FCC boss.

Previous ranking: 24

Next MLS match: Saturday, May 25, 9 p.m. ET vs. Columbus, ESPN+

THE RAPIDS WON A GAME. It doesn’t matter how, or who didn’t play for the other team. THE RAPIDS WON A GAME. And on the road!

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The JungleMay 20, 2019


Ryan Saunders has coached his way into a permanent gig with the Timberwolves and will become the youngest head coach in NBA.

Minnesota has promoted Saunders to head coach after he served as the interim during the second half of the 2018-19 season, The Athletic reported Monday.

Saunders, 33, took over for Minnesota after the team fired Tom Thibodeau in January and posted a 17-25 record.

Karl-Anthony Towns is one of several T-wolves players who have supported Saunders and said he has done “a lot to earn” the position and that he would be a “great candidate” (via the Duluth News Tribune).

“Ryan is just an extremely positive guy,” Tyus Jones said last month. “He’s someone who connects, I think, with the players, and that’s something I think everyone has noticed. … Both on and off the court, just a down-to-earth, great guy. So when he took over, I think that translated. Guys want to play for him, want to give their all, and I think he just connects with the guys really well.”

Team veteran Taj Gibson added: “A lot of players need encouragement, a lot of players need to be held accountable, but I think he’s a guy capable of doing it. He’s been doing a great job. He’s a great role model, especially to have around. You see the way he communicates. He really pushes players. I think he’ll be fine.”

Last week it was reported Minnesota president of basketball operations Gersson Rosas would meet with Heat assistant Juwan Howard and Trail Blazers assistant David Vanterpool as part of the team’s coaching search.

However, Rosas is sticking with the son of franchise legend Flip Saunders, who coached the 11 seasons in Minnesota.

Prior to joining Minnesota alongside his father as an assistant in 2014, Ryan Saunders spent five seasons as an assistant on his father’s staff with the Wizards.

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The JungleMay 20, 2019


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