Update on the latest sports
Hank Aaron dies at 86, praised and remembered
ATLANTA (AP) — Hank Aaron is being remembered for the grace shown in the face of racism as the one-time home run king pursued Babe Ruth’s hallowed record nearly 50 years ago.
Aaron died Friday at 86. Former presidents and fellow Hall of Famers recall his demeanor before and after hitting his 715th home run in Atlanta in 1974. Aaron endured racist threats with stoic dignity during his pursuit of Babe Ruth, breaking the career home run record in the pre-steroids era.
Former President Barack Obama says he was “humble and hardworking” and unbowed by death threats and racist letters. Hall of Famer Chipper Jones calls him “transcendent person in American history.”
Hall of famer Willie Mays says Aaron was “a great ballplayer who played hard every day and accomplished so much on and off the field.”
Source says Profar agrees to deal with Padres
UNDATED (AP) — Jurickson Profar (JUR’-ihk-suhn PROH’-fahr) is staying with the San Diego Padres, according to a person familiar with the negotiations. The person tells The Associated Press that Profar has agreed to a three-year, $21 million contract.
Profar hit a career-best .278 in the pandemic-shortened 2020 season with seven homers and 25 RBIs. He has a .238 average with 59 homers and 222 RBIs in seven major league seasons with Texas, Oakland and San Diego, missing the 2014 and 2015 campaigns due to a shoulder injury.
In other MLB news:
— First baseman Ryan Zimmerman is returning to the Nationals after sitting out the pandemic-shortened 2020 season. A person familiar with the negotiations told The Associated Press that the one-year, $1 million contract would include additional bonus provisions. The 36-year-old Zimmerman has played 15 seasons in the majors, all for the Nationals. He helped the franchise win its first World Series title in 2019.
— A person with direct knowledge of the situation tells The Associated Press that the Cubs have worked out a one-year, $1.5 million package with veteran catcher Austin Romine. The 32-year-old Romine hit .238 with two homers and 17 RBIs in 37 games with Detroit last year.
— The Twins and left-hander J.A. Happ have finalized a one-year, $8 million contract, giving the two-time defending AL Central champions a steady 38-year-old for the back of their rotation. Happ went 12-8 with a 4.91 ERA for the 2019 Yankees before struggling at the start of the pandemic-delayed 2020 season, prompting New York to skip his turn. Happ gained strength as the year went on and finished with a 2-2 record and 3.47 ERA in nine starts.
—The Jays have finalized one-year contracts with right-handers Kirby Yates and Tyler Chatwood. Yates led the majors with 41 saves for the Padres in 2019 but missed much of last season following elbow surgery in August.
— Left-hander José Quintana has finalized his one-year, $8 million contract with the Angels. Quintana was limited to one start and three relief appearances for the Cubs during the pandemic-shortened 2020 season, when he started late after surgery July 2 to repair nerve damage. He was 33-23 with a 4.24 ERA for Chicago, leaving him 83-77 with a 3.73 ERA overall.
— Utilityman Daniel Robertson has agreed to a one-year, $900,000 contract with the Brewers that allows him to earn an additional $400,000 in performance bonuses. Robertson batted .333 with no homers and two RBIs in 17 games with the Giants last season.
— Former Mets manager Davey Johnson is in a Florida hospital with COVID-19, according to former Mets spokesman Jay Horwitz. The 77-year-old Johnson was a four-time All-Star second baseman and managed the Mets to their last World Series title in 1986. He spent most of his playing career with the Orioles and Braves before managing the Mets, Reds, Orioles, Dodgers and Nationals.
Embiid, 76ers beat Celts again
UNDATED (AP) — Joel Embiid (joh-EHL’ ehm-BEED’) made sure the Philadelphia 76ers were able to beat the Boston Celtics for the second time in three days.
Embiid followed his 42-point performance in Friday’s win by dropping 38 points on Boston while grabbing 11 rebounds in the Sixers’ 122-110 win. He made 14 of 15 from the free-throw line after Marcus Smart accused him two days earlier of flopping to get calls.
Seth Curry provided 15 points in his return to the Sixers’ starting lineup following a seven-game absence because of a positive COVID-19 test.
Checking out Friday’s other NBA action:
— Collin Sexton dropped in 25 points and had nine assists as the Cavaliers knocked off the Nets for the second time in three days, 125-113. Andre Drummond added 19 points and 16 rebounds to help Cleveland withstand Kyrie Irving’s 38 points for Brooklyn.
— Malcolm Brogdon capped his 23-point performance by draining the decisive 3-pointer with 2.8 seconds left in overtime, sending the Pacers past the Magic, 120-118. Jeremy Lamb and Myles Turner each scored 22 points, and Domantas Sabonis (dah-MAHN’-dahs sah-BOH’-nihs) contributed 18 in the victory.
— The Raptors were 101-81 winners over the Heat as Norman Powell scored 23 points and OG Anunoby (an-uh-NOH’-bee) added 21. Pascal Siakam (see-A’-kam) had 15 points and 14 rebounds for Toronto, which never trailed on its way to avenging Wednesday’s loss to Miami.
— The Rockets were able to celebrate a 103-102 win over the Pistons after Jerami Grant’s driving layup on the final play came too late. Eric Gordon scored 20 points for Houston, which blew a 20-point lead before snapping a three-game losing streak.
— The Bulls picked up a 123-110 win over the Hornets behind Zach LaVine’s (lah-VEENZ’) 25 points and nine assists. Lauri Markkanen chipped in with 23 points and Coby White added 18 with eight assists in Chicago’s third win in a row.
TOP 25 MEN’S BASKETBALL
Wolverines keep rolling
WEST LAFAYETTE, Ind. (AP) — Seventh-ranked Michigan is 13-1 after picking up a Big Ten road win.
Isaiah Livers delivered 22 points and 10 rebounds as the Wolverines topped Purdue, 70-53. Eli Brooks contributed 11 points for Michigan, which was never threatened after building a 34-21 halftime lead.
Trevion Williams had team highs of 14 points and 10 boards for the Boilermakers.
Mahomes cleared to play
UNDATED (AP) — The Kansas City Chiefs will have their starting quarterback for the AFC championship game.
Patrick Mahomes (mah-HOHMZ’) has been cleared from the league’s concussion protocol after his third consecutive day of practice and will be under center when Kansas City plays the Bills on Sunday.
Mahomes was hurt in the third quarter of the Chiefs’ divisional-round win over Cleveland.
In other NFL news:
— The Bills are uncertain whether receiver Gabriel Davis will be available to play in the AFC championship game at Kansas City on Sunday. He sat out two midweek practices due to an ankle injury. Davis and defensive tackle Vernon Butler were listed as questionable after returning to practice on a limited basis Friday.
— The Buccaneers have bolstered their defense for Sunday’s NFC championship game by activating nose tackle Vita Vea from the reserve/injured list. The third-year pro is one of the top run-stoppers in the NFL but has been sidelined since early October with a broken ankle. But coach Bruce Arians says receiver Antonio Brown won’t make the trip to Green Bay because of a knee injury suffered during last week’s division playoff win over the Saints.
— Steelers tight end Vance McDonald is retiring after eight NFL seasons. The 30-year-old spent four seasons each with San Francisco and Pittsburgh.
— The Washington Football Team has hired Martin Mayhew as its general manager. He will report directly to Ron Rivera as part of the organization’s coach-centric front-office structure. Mayhew spent the past four seasons with the San Francisco 49ers after stops with the Giants and Lions. The hiring of Mayhew makes Washington the only team in the NFL with a Black team president and GM.
— The NFL says 7,500 health care workers vaccinated for the coronavirus will be given free tickets to next month’s Super Bowl to be played in Tampa, Florida. NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell also said in a news release Friday that attendance at the Feb. 7 game would be limited to those workers and about 14,500 other fans. Raymond James Stadium, home of the Buccaneers, has a capacity of just under 66,000.
UNDATED (AP) — Alex Lafreniere continues to show growing pains as an NHL player after being taken first overall in the 2020 draft.
Lafreniere struggled in the New York Rangers’ 4-3 shootout loss at Pittsburgh, taking no shots and being on the ice for a pair of Penguins goals. He’s still seeking his first professional point as the Rangers open the season 1-2-1.
Bryan Rust and Jared McCann collected their first goals of the season for Pittsburgh, which has won three straight following an 0-2 start. Teddy Blueger (BLOO’-gur) also scored and Tristan Jarry finished with 31 saves.
Elsewhere on NHL ice:
— Jakub Vrana had a goal and an assist and Vitek Vanecek (VEE’-tehk VAN’-eh-chehk) made 24 saves through overtime before the Capitals finished off a 4-3 shootout win over the Sabres. Nicklas Backstrom and Nic Dowd also scored in regulation for the Capitals, who won the first of four games they must play without Alex Ovechkin (oh-VEHCH’-kihn), Evgeny Kuznetsov (kooz-NEHT’-sahv), Dmitry Orlov (OHR’-lahv) and goaltender Ilya Samsonov (sam-DOH’-nahv) because of pandemic protocols.
— John Tavares broke a tie on a power play midway through the third period to help the Maple Leafs beat the Oilers 4-2. Adam Brooks scored his first NHL goal, Jimmy Vesey (VEE’-see) and Mitch Marner added goals and Frederik Andersen made 30 saves in Toronto’s fourth win in six games.
Leafs’ Thornton sidelined
UNDATED (AP) — Toronto Maple Leafs forward Joe Thornton will miss at least four weeks because of a fractured rib. He was hurt during Wednesday’s 3-1 loss to the Oilers. He has been placed on long-term injured reserve, a move that helps the team’s salary-cap situation. Maple Leafs coach Sheldon Keefe says that Auston Matthews also will sit out Friday night’s rematch against the visiting Edmonton Oilers.
In other NHL news:
— The Jets have placed forwards Patrik Laine (LY’-nay) and Nate Thompson on injured reserve. Laine has missed the past three games with an upper-body injury. Thompson suffered a lower-body injury Thursday in a win over the Ottawa Senators.
VIRUS OUTBREAK-TOKYO OLYMPICS
Olympic Officials refute cancellation reports
TOKYO (AP) — IOC President Thomas Bach and local organizers are pushing back against reports that the postponed Tokyo Olympics will be canceled.
Now set to open July 23, the Tokyo Games were postponed 10 months ago at the outbreak of the coronavirus pandemic, and now the event appears threatened again. The Times of London, citing unidentified government sources, reported that the games will have to be canceled. It quoted an unidentified senior member of the ruling government coalition.
The IOC released a brief statement saying it is “fully concentrated on and committed to the successful delivery of the Olympic and Paralympic Games Tokyo 2020 this year.”
NBC to shut down NBC Sports Network at end of 2021
UNDATED (AP) — NBC will shut down the NBC Sports Network at the end of the year.
The Network is best known for carrying NHL and English Premier League games as well as NASCAR and IndyCar races. It also carries a significant amount of programming during the Olympics.
NBC will parcel out events between USA Network and its Peacock streaming service.
Im has AmEx lead at midway mark
LA QUINTA, Calif. (AP) — Sungjae Im fired a 7-under 65 to take a one-stroke lead over first-round leader Brandon Hagy and four others through 36 holes of The American Express.
The 22-year-old South Korean and PGA Tour rookie of the year in 2019 had seven birdies in the bogey-free round on the Stadium Course at PGA West, highlighted by three in four holes around the turn.
Hagy was in position to join Im at 11 under, but he bogeyed his final hole with a tee shot into the fairway bunker to finish his 70.
Canada’s Nick Taylor, South Korea’s Si Woo Kim, Tony Finau (FEE’-now) and Mexico’s Abraham Ancer (AN’-sur) also were 10 under.