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Thursday, February 21, 2019
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Streeter Lecka/Getty Images(DURHAM, N.C.) -- North Carolina's blowout of Duke wasn't the most pressing blowout on the college basketball powerhouse's mind after Wednesday's marquee matchup. Instead, it was Zion Williamson's blown-out Nike high-tops.

Williamson, who is projected by many to be the first overall pick in this June's NBA draft, left Wednesday's game with a right knee injury after his shoe tore in the opening seconds of the game.

He did not return and the Tar Heels went on to an easy victory over the No. 1-ranked Blue Devils, 88-72.

"We're very concerned about Zion," Duke basketball coach Mike Krzyzewski said after the loss. "It's a mild knee sprain. We will know about length of time tomorrow. It's stable. Obviously it has an impact. You lose the National Player of the Year on the first play."

More pressingly on some fans' minds was how his shoe could tear apart, resulting in the injury. The sole could be seen torn completely off with Williamson's socked foot hanging outside.

Nike apologized and promised an investigation after the game.

"We are obviously concerned and want to wish Zion a speedy recovery," Nike said in a statement. "The quality and performance of our products are of utmost importance. While this is an isolated occurrence, we are working to identify the issue."

Duke signed a 12-year deal with Nike to provide shoes and apparel for the basketball program. They are in the fourth year of that deal, according to ESPN.

Williamson was able to walk off the court with only a slight limp.

"I just thought he'd twisted his ankle or his knee," Duke's Tre Jones said after the game. "But when he took his shoes off, I thought maybe something else was going on."

The game was maybe the biggest draw in years. Duke and North Carolina, with 11 NCAA championships between them, already have a decades-long rivalry, but the highlight-reel regular Williamson added even more attention. His teammate, R.J. Barrett, is also expected to be a top three pick in the NBA draft.

ESPN reported ahead of the game that the cheapest ticket available in Cameron Indoor Stadium in Durham, North Carolina, was $2,500. One ticket sold for over $10,000.

Former President Barack Obama, who was at the game, could actually be seen encouraging the star after his injury and tweeted his best wishes following the loss.

Zion Williamson seems like an outstanding young man as well as an outstanding basketball player. Wishing him a speedy recovery.

— Barack Obama (@BarackObama) February 21, 2019

Other marquee names in attendance included Oscar-nominee Spike Lee, Baseball Hall of Famer Ken Griffey Jr., NFL running back Todd Gurley and actress Hayden Panettiere.

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Scott Clarke / ESPN Images(SAN DIEGO) -- Manny Machado's contract with the San Diego Padres isn't yet a done deal but on Wednesday, jerseys bearing his last name and No. 13 made an appearance at Petco Park.

The San Diego Union-Tribune reports the replica jerseys were seen for sale at the team store at Petco Park. However, once the Padres were notified, they were pulled off the sales floor.

The newspaper said it is not known if any of the jerseys were sold before they were taken off the racks.

Machado, 26, reached an agreement with the Padres on a 10-year, $300 million contract. The deal is pending the results of two physicals.

The shortstop was in San Diego Wednesday to take his physical for the team. He is scheduled to take his second physical on Thursday, this time for the company that will insure the Padres on the 10-year deal, ESPN reports.

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iStock(NEW YORK) -- Here are the scores from Wednesday’s sports events:

NATIONAL HOCKEY LEAGUE
OT Chicago 5, Detroit 4
Colorado 7, Winnipeg 1
Calgary 4, N.Y. Islanders 2
SO Boston 3, Vegas 2

TOP-25 COLLEGE BASKETBALL
(8) North Carolina 88, (1) Duke 72
San Diego St. 65, (6) Nevada 57
(10) Michigan St. 71, Rutgers 60
(11) Marquette 79, Butler 69
OT Florida 82, (13) LSU 77
Georgetown 85, (17) Villanova 73
Syracuse 69, (18) Louisville 49

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University of Colorado Athletics(AURORA, Colo.) -- A former NFL player was fatally shot over the weekend in a dispute with a neighbor over a parking space, according to police.

Anthony "T.J." Cunningham, a former defensive back for the Seattle Seahawks and an assistant principal at a high school in Aurora, Colorado, was allegedly shot by a neighbor on Sunday and taken to a local hospital, where he died the following day, according to the Arapahoe County Sheriff's Office.

Police charged his neighbor, 31-year-old Marcus Johnson, with first-degree murder on Monday, accusing him of shooting Cunningham multiple times in the head and chest.

Witnesses said the two neighbors met at a high school in Aurora, located about 10 miles east of Denver, to settle an ongoing parking dispute, according to a probable cause affidavit.

Cunningham's brother told police he accompanied the former player to the school's parking lot, where the two planned to "box it out," according to the affidavit.

The two men were walking towards each other when Johnson allegedly shot him three times, striking him in the head and chest, according to the document.

Johnson called 911 to report the shooting and police said they found a handgun in his vehicle. Johnson said Cunningham was armed with a bottle when he pulled the trigger, but Cunningham's brother said he didn't have a weapon, according to the affidavit.

Johnson was originally booked on attempted murder, but the charge was amended after the victim's death. He was being held without bail and it's unclear if he has retained an attorney.

Cunningham, 46, played for the Seahawks during the 1996 season until injuries ended his NFL career, according to the team's website. He also played wide receiver and defensive back at the University of Colorado.

The university's football team said he was a "tremendous part of the CU community" who "touched countless others" during his time there, according to a statement.

“We were deeply shocked and saddened to learn of the death of T.J. Cunningham," the Colorado Buffaloes said in a tweet on Monday. "He was a good family man and had a strong passion for working with young people."

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iStock(NEW YORK) -- Here are the scores from Tuesday’s sports events:

NATIONAL HOCKEY LEAGUE
Florida 4, Buffalo 2
Tampa Bay 5, Philadelphia 2
Pittsburgh 4, New Jersey 3
NY Rangers 2, Carolina 1
Montreal 3, Columbus 2
OT St. Louis 3, Toronto 2
Anaheim 4, Minnesota 0
Nashville 5, Dallas 3
SO Arizona 3, Edmonton 2

TOP-25 COLLEGE BASKETBALL
(4) Kentucky 66, Missouri 58
(5) Tennessee 58, Vanderbilt 46
(15) Purdue 48, Indiana 46
(16) Florida St. 77, Clemson 64
Baylor 73, (19) Iowa St. 69
(24) Maryland 66, (21) Iowa 65
(25) Buffalo 114, Ohio 67

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iStock/Thinkstock(PITTSBURGH) -- Pittsburgh Steelers wide receiver Antonio Brown, who has had nine wildly successful seasons with the organization, says he and the team have decided to "move on."

Brown posted a picture with his arm around the shoulder of Steelers president, Art Rooney II, writing:

"we discussed a lot of things and we cleared the air on several issues! We both agreed that it is time to move on but I’ll always have appreciation and gratitude towards the Rooney family and @steelers organization!"

ESPN NFL Insider Adam Schefter reported
that after the meeting, a source told him "everyone agreed the trade will be for the best."

The tweet comes after Brown publicly requested a trade in January. He then posted an Instagram video in which he said he will not play without more guaranteed money, reinforcing his desire for a trade.

ESPN reports Brown has no guarantees left on his current five-year-deal with the Steelers, which he signed in 2017. Rooney previously stated he wanted to meet with Brown to "clear the air."

Brown publicly put pressure on the Steelers to trade him on several occasions. He thanked fans and fielded questions on Twitter, saying quarterback Ben Roethlisberger has an "owner mentality," and criticized head coach Mike Tomlin.

Brown holds an NFL-record six consecutive seasons with 100 or more catches. He has led the league in receiving yards and receptions twice.

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Willard/iStock(NEW YORK) -- ESPN reports Manny Machado, regarded as one of the top free agents in all of baseball this offseason, has reached a record deal to join the San Diego Padres. The contract is the biggest in American sports history, worth $300 million over ten years.

Machado split time with the Baltimore Orioles and Los Angeles Dodgers in 2018, hitting .297/.367/.538 with 37 home runs and 107 RBI. The 26-year-old was traded to Los Angeles ahead of last season's trade deadline in a blockbuster transaction.

He had many big moments for the Dodgers and helped lift the team to a World Series appearance, but drew harsh criticism from fans and the media about hustling. He told Fox Sports during the 2018 postseason, after being chastised for not running full speed down to first base on plays, that hustling was "not my cup of tea."

Machado is a four-time All-Star and two-time Gold Glove Award winner at third base, though his preferred position is shortstop.

The 26-year-old former top draft pick played five full seasons in Baltimore before last year's trade. He is the second high profile free agent to join the Padres in the past two winters, joining first baseman Eric Hosmer, who agreed to an eight-year, $144 million contract last year.

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iStock(NEW YORK) -- Here are the scores from Monday’s sports events:

NATIONAL HOCKEY LEAGUE
Calgary 5, Arizona 2
Tampa Bay 5, Columbus 1
Chicago 8, Ottawa 7
Colorado 3, Vegas 0
OT Boston 6, San Jose 5
Washington 3, L.A. Kings 2

TOP-25 COLLEGE BASKETBALL
(3) Virginia 64, (20) Virginia Tech 58
(22) Wisconsin 64, Illinois 58
(23) Kansas St. 65, West Virginia 51

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Recep Sakar/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images(NEW YORK ) -- Serena Williams is back in the top ten of the World Tennis Association rankings for the first time since giving birth in September 2017.

Williams dropped as low as 491st when she returned played in March 2018.

She is now ranked tenth in the world after making two Grand Slam finals in the past year, losing at Wimbledon and at the US Open.

The 23-time Grand Slam winner has not played since her quarterfinal loss to Karolina Pliskova at last months Australian Open.

Naomi Osaka, who beat Williams at the US Open and won the Australian Open, remains number one. Simona Halep and American Sloane Stephens each moved up a spot to second and third. Petra Kvitova dropped to fourth in the rankings.

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FABRICE COFFRINI/AFP/Getty Images(LONDON) -- South African athlete Caster Semenya was in court on Monday for a landmark hearing that is expected to have major implications for gender in sports.

Semenya, 28, an Olympic gold medalist, went to the Court of Arbitration (CAS) for Sport in Lausanne, Switzerland, appealing a controversial measure introduced by track and field’s governing body to lower the permissible testosterone levels in female athletes.

Semenya is seeking to overturn the new Eligibility Regulations for Female Classification, introduced in April by the International Association of Athletics Federations (IAAF). The new regulations mean that athletes of a ‘difference in sexual development’ condition with a high amount of testosterone in their systems will not be able to compete in female races.

The number of races this applies to ranges from 400m to 1 mile -- most of which Semenya competes in as a middle distance runner.

If the new rules survive challenges, Semenya would likely have to take hormone medication to reduce her levels of testosterone in order to compete in the Olympics next year.

“The female category in sport is a protected category,” the IAAF said in a statement on Monday. “This standard is necessary to ensure fair competition for all women.”

Controversy surrounding Semenya’s gender status has followed her since she burst onto the athletics scene in 2009 by winning the 800m gold at the World Championships at the age of 18. The IAAF investigated Semenya with gender verification tests after her win in September of that year. Though the results were never published, Semenya returned to the sport 11 months later, and has enjoyed considerable success since.

Transgender debate in elite sport

The CAS hearing is the latest focal point in a long-running debate around the relationship between science and gender in sports.

The Times of London newspaper reported last week that the IAAF will argue that Semenya is biologically male because of her high testosterone levels.

“If a DSD athlete has testes and male levels of testosterone, they get the same increases in bone and muscle size and strength… that a male gets when they go through puberty, which is what gives men such a performance advantage over women,” the IAAF said in a statement published by the Times of London. “Therefore, to preserve fair competition in the female category, it is necessary to require DSD athletes to reduce their testosterone down to female levels before they compete at international level.”

The IAAF published research in 2017 in the British Journal of Sports Medicine which suggested that women runners with high testosterone levels performed 3 percent better than their rivals, giving them a "significant competitive advantage."

However, the scientists Roger Pielke, Ross Tucker and Erik Boye published a paper in the The International Sports Law Journal last week challenging these claims. The paper, entitled ‘Scientific integrity and the IAAF testosterone regulations,’ calls the testosterone rule change "discriminatory, irrational, and unjustifiable."

Tennis icon Martina Navratilova weighed in on the debate in an article for the Sunday Times last weekend, arguing that if a man were to take hormones to compete in women’s events it would be “insane” and “cheating.”

However, Dr. Rachel McKinnon, the first transgender woman to win a track world title in the women’s age 35 to 44 spring category at the UCI Master World Championships in 2018, told ABC News that the IAAF’s law was “ill-conceived, discriminatory, and based on a flawed, biased study.”

“Natural testosterone is the only physical characteristic for which we ban anyone from sport, and we only do this to women,” she told ABC News. “That is inherently unjust, particularly as we permit much larger competitive advantages due to characteristics such as height than the IAAF is attributing to testosterone. This completely undercuts the IAAF's justification for their new policy. So I expect Caster to win, but there's no guarantee."

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