NBA legend won't be returning next season

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NBA legend won't be returning next season

From Comcast SportsNet
INDIANAPOLIS (AP) -- Larry Bird has resigned from the Indiana Pacers, effective from the end of August. Bird, perhaps the most respected and beloved basketball figure in a state obsessed with the sport, is the Pacers' president of basketball operations. He spent four years building the team into an Eastern Conference contender and was this season's NBA executive of the year, but is instead moving on after saying just a month ago that he was willing to stay. Bird said health issues were among the reasons for his departure. He said he may need shoulder surgery and cited longstanding issues with his back. "I just think it's time," he said at a news conference on Wednesday as the team announced an executive reorganization. Bird said he was prepared to leave last year with the organization headed in the right direction. He and owner Herb Simon had discussed his eventual departure for a few years. Bird also said that payroll issues with the small-market Pacers did not affect his decision. "(Simon) knows to get to the next level we're going to spend some money," Bird said. "Every time I went to Herb about a player or about money to spend, he questioned it. And he should. At the end of the day, he always said go ahead and do what you have to do to make this team better. That's the support you need. ... We're going to spend money." Bird said he plans to take a year off and get healthy before he evaluates his situation. He did not rule out a return to basketball. Owning a team used to be a goal, but he said he no longer has that interest. Simon said he had hoped to keep Bird, who will stay on for the draft when the Pacers are scheduled to pick No. 26 overall in the first round on Thursday. His contract expires on Aug. 30. "I feel sad (with) the announcement that Larry's going to be leaving us," said Simon, who continued to talk to Bird about staying as late as Monday. "Larry could have stayed here as long as he wants, but he has his own reasons. The Pacers organization appreciates everything he's done for us in his nine years. We wish him the very best and hope that we can still be associated with him in the coming years." The 55-year-old Bird was the Pacers coach from 1997-2000, taking the team to its only NBA Finals appearance that final year before he returned to the team's front office in 2003. He took full control as president of basketball decisions after the 2007-08 season, when Donnie Walsh left to become the New York Knicks' president. Walsh is returning as the Pacers' president. Kevin Pritchard, the director of player personnel, is being promoted to general manager, replacing David Morway, who resigned on Tuesday. Walsh said he won't travel the country to evaluate collegiate prospects, leaving that to Pritchard. Bird had said just a month ago that he wanted to stay and expressed interest in a three-year deal rather than the annual "handshake" agreements he had with Simon. Bird won three MVP awards and three NBA titles during his Hall of Fame career with Boston. As the Pacers' president, he took a franchise humbled by the brawl between Pacers players and Detroit fans in 2004, made a series of difficult trades to get rid of troublemakers, rebuilt through the draft and returned the Pacers to the Eastern Conference semifinals this season. It was Indiana's deepest postseason run in seven years.

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Nats look to get back on track as Roark starts at Phillies

Nats look to get back on track as Roark starts at Phillies

Nats (75-55) at Phillies (60-70) at Citizens Bank Park

Having lost six of their last eight, the Nats now hit the road to face the Phillies for three games. This could be a good opportunity to collect some wins against a lesser team, as the Nats swept each of their last two head-to-head series.

Also working in the Nats' favor is that Tanner Roark is on the mound. Roark is 13-7 with a 2.99 ERA and is very good at going deep into games, having pitched at least seven innings in 15 of his 25 starts.

Ryan Zimmerman gets the day off as manager Dusty Baker looks to get him some rest. Clint Robinson is instead playing first base.

First pitch: 7:05 p.m.
TV: MASN2
Radio: 106.7 The Fan
Starting pitchers: Nats - Tanner Roark vs. Phillies - Jake Thompson

NATS

CF Trea Turner
LF Jayson Werth
2B Daniel Murphy
RF Bryce Harper
3B Anthony Rendon
C Wilson Ramos
1B Clint Robinson
SS Danny Espinosa
RHP Tanner Roark

PHILLIES

TBA
RHP Jake Thompson

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Harbaugh defends Kaepernick's right to protest anthem

Harbaugh defends Kaepernick's right to protest anthem

OWINGS MILLS – Ravens coach John Harbaugh said Monday that regardless of whether he agreed with Colin Kaepernick’s actions, he defended Kaepernick’s right not to stand for the national anthem, as the protest by the 49ers quarterback continued to draw significant attention.

“We are talking about a free country,” Harbaugh said following Monday’s practice. “I’m grateful for the right to express my displeasure, and that is what Colin chose to do. It is certainly his right to do it.”

Harbaugh’s brother, Jim Harbaugh, coached Kaepernick with the 49ers for four seasons.

“I know Colin through Jim,” Harbaugh said. “He comes from a great family. He has been brought up the right way with good people who care about him and love him. He reflects that in how successful he has been. I know Jim really likes him a lot, so I respect him. I respect his choice for whatever it is.”

RELATED: RAVENS HAVE TOUGH CALL BETWEEN URSCHEL AND LEWIS

Harbaugh said if a Ravens’ player decided to take a controversial stand, he hoped the player would take great thought before doing so.

“As far as our players go, it becomes about respect,” Harbaugh said. “I think you respect the opinions of everybody in the room and respect their right to express their opinion. Voltaire (French philosopher) so eloquently stated, “I may not agree with what you say, but I will defend until death your right to say it.’

“That is the principle our country is founded on. I don’t think you can deny someone the right to speak out or mock or make fun or belittle anyone else’s opinion. You stand on your opinion, and when you state your opinion, it takes a little bit of courage, and there are going to be people that disagree with it. I tell our guys, ‘If you are going to say something publicly, think about it. Make sure you really believe that, because when you speak out there, it is out there, and it belongs to you now.’

“The other part of it is that we are a team. Anything that we do should never…You respect our team, our organization and the other players, and you respect the mission that were are on and what we are trying to accomplish. None of us ever want to do anything that is going to detract or disrespect the efforts of all the other players on the football team. I think that is the balance that all of us have to strike when we speak out about something like that.”

MORE RAVENS: PERRIMAN MAY FINALLY DEBUT THURSDAY

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Redskins' Cullen Jenkins will need to get up to speed in a hurry

Redskins' Cullen Jenkins will need to get up to speed in a hurry

Cullen Jenkins had to wait a while to get the right opportunity.

The veteran defensive lineman started 14 games for the Giants in 2015, which was the final year of his contract. The Giants did not want to bring him back so he worked and waited. And wondered.

“As it kept later and later you wonder because the truth with the league is, as you get older your opportunities get less and less,” said Jenkins in the Redskins locker room after his first practice with his new team. “ Then you start sitting there for as long as I have and it makes people wonder. So you start wondering. But you still you've got to keep preparing and stay ready. If the call doesn't come, it is what it is. But it's not going to come and I'm not going to be ready.”

He did get a few calls but it was important to him to stay near his home and family in New Jersey. The Redskins finally invited him down for a workout. They liked what the saw from the 12-year veteran and signed him to a one-year deal.

“It adds another veteran player with some flexibility on the defensive line,” said Jay Gruden. “He’s played three-technique, he’s played nose, he’s played the four, he’s played the five. He’s played a little bit of everything in his career.”

RELATED: GRUDEN HINTS THAT DOCTSON COULD BE READY FOR REDSKINS IN WEEK 1

Jenkins sees himself having the same strengths.

“I've got a lot of quickness and experience . . . I'm just going to try to get to the quarterback and be a versatile player,” he said.

The Redskins defense plays a one-gap technique. That’s a system that Jenkins is quite familiar with from his seven seasons with the Packers.

“The one gap, I don't mind it at all,” he said. “I played it back in Green Bay a while ago and I did well in it. I haven't played it in the last five years so it's something I'll have to get back in the rhythm of but I'm definitely up to the challenge.”

Jenkins comes in at a tough time. The roster will be cut to 53 players on Saturday and he was not assured of a spot.

“It's still a matter of me having to prove myself,” said Jenkins. “I'm an older player, 35 years old. I don't expect any gimmies or guarantees or anything. You come in, you prove yourself, you show what you've got and if you do a good job with that you have a chance to stay around.”

He got a clear idea of the challenge ahead of him during his first practice. When they starting calling plays he immediately was lost.

“It was like a foreign language being talked out there,” he said with a smile “I had no clue was was going on.”

He will need to get a clue in a hurry if he wants to stay around.

MORE REDSKINS: JENKINS IN, WHO'S OUT?