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Blue wigs and bad words: Knicks fans ready for the playoffs.



In Madison Square Garden, minutes before the playoff game between the Knicks and the Miami Heat on Sunday, there was a loud commotion outside a hot dog vendor. A group of Knicks fans spotted another Knicks fan and started cursing. The others turned their heads, cautiously moving away from the group; a fight seemed to be brewing.

But when the fans approached each other, held hands and started jumping, it became clear that there would be no fight. In the center was Darryl Thompson, wearing a custom-tailored blue Knicks T-shirt with orange four-letter lettering and the name of the Heat’s best player: Jimmy Butler. All curses? It’s just the fans, umm, reading the message on the T-shirt out loud.

“I did it,” Thompson, 37, said proudly. “It took about 30 minutes. I had an idea and everything. I called some personal people to sort it out for me. We just made one. We don’t want it floating around.”

Moments like this filled Sunday’s Game 1 between the Knicks and the Heat, the Garden’s first second-round playoff game in a decade. During the Knicks’ first-round playoff series against the Cleveland Cavaliers, Knicks fans stormed Seventh Avenue outside the arena, climbing poles, dancing, and drinking after the wins.

But on Sunday, the Knicks lost 108-101 at home this postseason for the first time after scoring 12 points at halftime. After that, Seventh Avenue was deserted, lined with cops who were prepared for a rowdy crowd, but instead watched as fans jumped through puddles in the pouring rain on their way to the trains home. Game 2 – Tuesday in the garden.

Here’s a look at some fans from Sunday.

Greg Dell’s hairless head is underneath his Knicks baseball cap, which he uses to show people how long he’s been a Knicks fan. “From the age of 12,” he shouted, “when I had hair.” The Knicks’ shortcomings in his 36 years of fandom probably contributed to the partial hair loss, but he wouldn’t trade it for anything else, he said. And once you’re 12, he added, you won’t be able to change teams unless you move to a new city.

Dell said it was the most exciting Knicks season he can remember since the team reached the 1999 NBA Finals because they finally felt like they were a legitimate contender. He said he was “throwing out” a loss in Game 1 and predicted the Knicks would end the streak in six games.

“It’s like a date,” he said. “If you want to find the right person—your spouse, your girlfriend—ask them for their favorite team. If they say “Nix” then they are true. They don’t deceive you. They won’t leave you. This is us.”

Miguel Garcia and his two brothers, Danny and John, grew up in the long shadow of the Garden at 43rd Street and Ninth Avenue, close enough to hear the noise from all over the arena on game days.

Their first memory of the Knicks is Game 3 of the 1999 Eastern Conference Finals, when forward Larry Johnson was fouled while made a three-point shot and then brandished the ensuing free throw to give the Knicks a 92–91 victory over the Indiana Pacers.

On Sunday, they entered the Garden wearing colorful wigs they bought from Party City because they “must have gone crazy” on this special day.

“You know, I don’t have hair, so I needed something to wear,” Garcia said.

Francis Vasquez stopped others in the vicinity from speaking, apparently so they could understand the importance of what he was about to say. Vasquez raised one hand as they watched: this one was for God, he said, before raising his other hand just below the one he said was for Nyx.

Greg Dell and Vasquez met Sunday after a bar game, and Vasquez said their relationship reflects what he loves about the Knicks fandom.

“I could feel his energy and he could feel my energy,” he said, “so it just creates a connection.”

Vasquez grew up in Washington Heights in Upper Manhattan, where he ruthlessly supported a team that never gave him a title for it. However, Vasquez said he would “die for his Knicks.”

“Don’t let us win the championship; there will be a riot on that day,” he said. “Perhaps I will be locked up that day.”

Leah Romito was never interested in basketball. But over the past two seasons, her 8-year-old son Axel has fallen in love with Knicks forward Julius Randle and defenseman Jalen Brunson, turning her into a fan too. On Sunday, she followed her son’s lead, screaming and cheering as if she was born into the Knicks fandom, like so many others in the Garden.

It was the first game she was with Axel. Brunson scored 25 points, but Randle pulled out with an ankle injury. “It’s sad,” Axel said. “Very sad.”

Lakisha Reed paid $1,500 to go to the game with her girlfriend. She said she’s been a Knicks fan since she was a teenager, attracted by the excitement that former star center Patrick Ewing, who attended Sunday’s game, brought her father and people to New Jersey, where she grew up.

Sunday was her first game for the Knicks, so she planned a stunning outfit with sparkly blue pom-poms for the occasion. “You only live once,” she said, “and I thought, ‘We want to do this right.’

Reid said that what surprised her the most was the friendliness of the crowd, which she described as “crazy but polite”. Reed recalled fans yelling at others to sit down and people listened without discussion. One fan switched places with her girlfriend to make her more comfortable.

“We’re known in the north for being a little tough and sometimes we could be a little loud, but in the game it was just northern love, the vibe,” she said. “It was not drama. This was beautiful.”

Satchel Aviram grew up in Westchester County, New York and has loved the Knicks for as long as he can remember. He says he values ​​the fan base primarily because Knicks fans remain loyal despite several ups and countless downs, unlike Nets fans.

“The second the Nets lose, they know it’s over. When the Knicks lose, we know we’re going to fight,” Aviram said. “The team is always on the side of the Knicks, and the city is on the side of the Knicks.

Aviram said that the rain and gray skies may have contributed to the somber mood of the fans after the defeat, but instead he said he felt a positive “electricity” in most of the fans looking forward to the second game.

“We have been down for so long that it has meant so much to the city that we are finally fighting,” Aviram said, “and it looks like we finally realized that we can go forward.”


Chargers Reveal Why They Decided Not to Draft Tight End



There was no consensus, with some observers predicting it would be Dalton Kincaid, while others predicted Michael Mayer or possibly a later round pick.

But among those who were not in the organization, there was no doubt that the Chargers would play a tight end last week.

The team then didn’t, choosing instead – for now – to stick with the same core core that staffed the position in 2022.

“Sometimes this is how drafts work,” new offensive coordinator Kellen Moore said on Monday. “There were a lot of difficult moments in this draft that we enjoyed.”

After Saturday’s seventh round, coach Brandon Staley explained that the draft had unfolded in a way that didn’t match the Chargers’ interest in the various tight ends available at the time.

So by strengthening some areas – wide receiver, defensive line, linebacker, offensive line – the Chargers are stuck with Gerald Everett, Donald Parham Jr., Tre McKitty and Stone Smartt.

Part of the reasoning outside is that this team needs to improve blocking due to its tight ends in running play, an area where inconsistency emerged last season.

Another thought is based on the arrival of Moore, who increasingly used titles in Dallas.

Last year, only Everett (55.9) and McKitty (45.4) played a whopping 25% of snaps on the Chargers’ offense, though Parham probably would have played if he hadn’t been injured.

The Cowboys managed to reach this threshold with three of them – Dalton Schultz (70.3), Jake Ferguson (37) and Peyton Hendershot (25.6).

Moore said he would adjust his system if necessary to best suit the Chargers’ possible roster in 2023.

“The coolest thing about football is that you can play it in different ways,” he said. “There is not only one way to do this. We find what these guys do very, very well and try to improve those things.

“We probably used a little more in the last couple of years in Dallas. … We were quite happy with that. We’ll do what works best for us here while we build this thing. But I am delighted with the guys that we have.”

After the draft, the Chargers signed UCLA rookie tight end Michael Ezeike. At 6’5″ and 245 pounds, Ezeike continues to rise in rank after starting his college career as a wide receiver.

UCLA tight end Michael Ezeike signed with the Chargers as an undrafted free agent.

(Kewson Gong/Associated Press)

Plus, the Chargers can still look to sign the veteran free agent in the coming weeks. A year ago, after the draft, they added three key defensive players – Bryce Callahan, Morgan Fox and Kyle Van Noy.

But the remaining tight market is quite limited, especially among players known as blockers.

“Where we are right now may not be where we start the first game,” Staley said. “We love these guys. We played a lot of winning football with this group. We look forward to continuing to add it as we get closer to the season.”

The Chargers opened the draft by selecting Texas wide receiver Quentin Johnston in the first round. With a size – 6-3, 208 – and the ability to escape, the Chargers design it to add an element of explosiveness.

Staley is also counting on Moore to scale up production through his imagination and playful vocation. The word “creative” has already been used several times by various chargers when asked to describe Moore.

“The fastest way to get into the end zone is to play big,” Moore said on Monday. “If you use 12x, 14x, 15x drives, they are amazing. Being a part of them is very, very fun, because it beats the clock. He does so many good things.

“But when you have explosive capabilities and use them, it’s a faster way to get to the end zone. Ultimately, if you look at the stats, explosive play has a huge impact on who wins.”

Just months after starting work, Moore spoke to reporters for the first time shortly after he was hired in late January.

He praised quarterback Justin Herbert’s detailed approach, thanked Staley for sketching the offense, and repeatedly used variations of the word “cooperate” to describe the transition to his scheme.

Moore also dismissed the idea that the uncertainty surrounding running back Austin Eckeler – the NFL’s leading touchdown producer over the past two seasons – is affecting the transition.

Eckeler wants an extension and has been granted permission to trade, which hasn’t attracted much interest to date. Moore said it’s still too early in the off-season to worry about Ekeler’s lost time.

“Right now,” he said, “we have such a wide lens that we are really teaching everyone.”

Last week, Herbert expressed support for Ekeler, explaining that he and the rest of his teammates understand the football business.

“It’s obviously a difficult situation for him,” Herbert said. “He has his own things to deal with. But we are all behind it. We trust the front office to do their job. I hope this works. … He is definitely hard to replace.”

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JJ and Kialia Watt confirm investment in Premier League return Burnley | Burnley



Former NFL star JJ Watt and his wife Kialia, a former USA international, have announced their investment in Burnley ahead of the club’s return to the Premier League.

JJ was the NFL Defensive Player of the Year three times, and Kialia played for the Houston Dash and Chicago Red Stars, as well as the US Women’s Team.

The couple, who have recently spent time at Burnley and in the local community, attended the club’s 3-0 victory over Wigan in March. On Monday, they confirmed their involvement with the Clarets.

“When you invest in a club that has been in existence since 1882, you must be very respectful of its history and tradition,” Watts said in a statement. “We understand that we are not only investing in the team and the manager, we are investing in the city and its people.

“We take this responsibility very seriously and intend to work hard to earn their trust and support. We believe Burnley are a special club with an incredible fan base and we want to help further build their global profile once they return to the Premier League.”

US sporting power couple, NFL star JJ Watt and football pro wife Kealia Watt, join the Clarets family! 🤝

Welcome to Burnley @JJWatt & @KealiaOhai 😃

— Burnley FC 🏆 (@BurnleyOfficial) May 1, 2023


American sports couple, NFL star JJ Watt and pro football player wife Kealia Watt, are joining the Clarets family! 🤝

Welcome to Burnley @JJWatt & @KealiaOjai 😃

— Burnley FC 🏆 (@BurnleyOfficial) May 1, 2023

Burnley achieved an immediate return to the English top flight after being relegated last season with the league title.

“We are thrilled to welcome JJ and Kiliya to the Clarets family,” said Burnley chairman Alan Pace. “Both JJ and Kealia brought with them an incredible amount of sporting pedigree and top-level success, as well as ideas and connections that will be invaluable in helping us continue to tell the Clarets story to an international audience.”

Chialia also hopes to help the Burnley women’s team, which are in the FA Women’s National League North Division 3 and had their first trip to Turf Moor on Sunday.

“In the US, I’ve seen the NWSL grow into something truly incredible and we would love to be part of the growing women’s team here and be part of their journey,” added Kealiya.

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PODCAST: Draft, transfers and more



PODCAST: The Project, Transfers & More – Panther’s Lair

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From the NFL Draft to the transfer portal, college sports changes and more, we had a lot to discuss at the Panther-Lair Show this week.

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