Kevin Love to stay with Cleveland Cavaliers as he returns to fitness

Jay Asser 2/06/2015
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Cleveland man: Kevin Love.

Kevin Love stated that not only will he be ready to play in next season’s opener, but he’ll take the court in a Cleveland Cavaliers uniform.

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Speaking to the media for the first time since undergoing season-ending surgery for his dislocated shoulder, Love made clear his intentions for the future.

“I truly haven’t even thought about it, but as I mentioned, I expect to be suiting up by Game 1 of next year,” Love said on Sunday.

When asked by a reporter if it would be with the Cavaliers, Love responded: “Yes sir.”

The 26-year-old power forward has a player option to remain in Cleveland for 2015-16, but can also opt out and become one of the premier free agents this offseason.

Even if he opts out, Love could sign a five-year, max contract with the Cavaliers rather than be limited to a four-year deal with any other team in the open market.

Love has until June 30 to choose whether or not to exercise his player option.

His first season in Cleveland ended on a disappointing note when he suffered the shoulder injury against Boston in the first round of the playoffs to end his campaign.

He was tangled with the Celtics’ Kelly Olynyk when the injury occurred and afterwards, Love called the play “bush league” and questioned Olynyk’s intent.

Love said the two have since communicated and moved on.

“About a week went by, I reached out to Kelly, sent him a text and said, ‘It’s all good,’” he revealed.

Led by LeBron James, the Cavaliers have still managed to reach the NBA Finals with Love on the sidelines rather than in the line-up.

“Obviously I rather be out there playing and from a human being aspect it is very tough,” Love said.

“But as far as being here supporting the guys and now being able to travel, it’s a lot of fun. I still feel like I’m a big part of this.

“I’m super happy for these guys, proud of these guys. There were times where I felt down because of my shoulder and they’ve been here to pick me up and it’s kind of how it’s been the whole year.”

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#360USA: United States pursuit of FIFA hits football hard

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NASL Board of Governers chairman Aaron Davidson (r) has pleaded not guilty to conspiracy charges.

It’s what they’ve always wanted. The soccer world was gazing straight at the United States last week. 

Forget the World Cup of 1994. Now Uncle Sam was making waves which could reverberate for eternity and beyond.

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The dramatic revelations that the FBI were after FIFA had suddenly catapulted the beautiful game into everyone’s conscious in an instant. Don’t worry about trying to sell MLS to the masses. Just chase after Sepp Blatter and his cronies. Watch the interest grow.

Attorney general Loretta Lynch has instantly become the new darling of US soccer. The newspapers here, so top heavy with the traditional sports which dominate the conversation 365 days a year, were scrambling around with the rest of the planet to gesticulate about the horrors revealed by the men in suits from the FBI.

People who have zero interest in soccer have been talking about it this week. The shenanigans in the Zurich madhouse have been headline material since Wednesday.

The sickening sums of money Jeffrey Webb (below), head of CONCACAF which includes the United States in its membership, has been accused of filtering through the Miami-based TV marketing company Traffic was simply too much for the authorities to stomach.

Webb, who is from the Cayman Islands yet owns properties in Georgia, has strong links with the United States. This was, don’t forget, the man who urged to clean the game up in North America in a now laughable era of transparency. 

A member who was on the FIFA audit committee yet, somehow, failed to see New Yorker Chuck Blazer – the first American to serve as a FIFA executive for 50 years –  and former partner in crime Jack Warner run amok with millions of CONCACAF funds which started in the 1990s.

The repercussions on this side of the Atlantic could be felt for some time yet.

There are myriad US ties with potentially more to come. Blazer, who was ultimately used by the FBI as a turncoat, has represented US soccer since the 1980s. His disgraceful extortion of millions of CONCACAF funds to help satisfy his greed for lavish meals and large apartments on Fifth Avenue have long since cast a stain on the game.

Indeed, it was Blazer’s decision to turn whistleblower rather than spend the rest of his life in jail, which sensationally put the cat firmly amongst the pigeons. His self-serving, selfish actions have long been known. 

Yet the arrest of Aaron Davidson casts another dark shadow over US soccer. Davidson was a key player in ensuring the NASL – effectively the second tier behind MLS  – made a comeback in 2009. He also owned Traffic whose links were strengthened when Enrique Sanz, who was responsible for business development within the CONCACAF region, was poached by Webb in 2012 to become the governing body’s general secretary.

The links run deep and now have been blown wide open for the world to gape at with growing disdain and despair. What a blow for NASL commissioner Bill Peterson who has worked tirelessly to establish his League as a true force. 

Traffic helped fund four teams and currently own the Carolina RailHawks. Their Brazilian parent company have also been implicated in wrongdoing.

The financial implications for the NASL could be severe. Action from Peterson was swift, suspending Davidson, along with all business activities with Traffic Sports.

There was more. Next year’s Copa America is due to be played here. 

It was going to be special too with North American, Central American and Caribbean teams all taking part to celebrate its centenary. Yet the revelations that the FBI are investigating bribes totaling $110m (around $40m are said to have already been paid) have sadly put the tournament in doubt. US soccer president Sunil Gulati is unsure if it will go ahead at all.

At a time when the beautiful game is booming, that would be a sorry hammer-blow to contend with, the kind of dirty scandal sponsors and backers don’t need any invitation to run a mile from.

Webb, CONCACAF and their dear leader Blatter have a lot to answer for. And, for that, we can thank the United States.

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Golden State match expectations by reaching Finals with just three defeats

Jay Asser 30/05/2015
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Celebrations: West champions.

The Golden State Warriors have impressively rolled through the Western Conference playoff gauntlet to reach their first NBA Finals in 40 years.

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Although they won an NBA-best 67 games in the regular season, Golden State’s lack of deep playoff experience meant a trip to the Finals was far from a foregone conclusion.

Yet they barely missed a beat as they stormed through the first, second and third round to reach the sport’s ultimate stage for the first time since winning the title in 1975.

Golden State swept the eighthseeded New Orleans Pelicans and then took down the dark horse Memphis Grizzlies in six before eliminating the Houston Rockets in five.

Memphis was the only team to give the Warriors any trouble when the favourites found themselves in a 2-1 series hole with a crucial Game 4 in the hostile environment of FedExForum.

It was arguably the first and only time in the entire season that Golden State faced pressure or had their backs against the wall and they responded in dominating fashion with seven wins in their next eight contests.

Expectations have changed for the Warriors throughout the year. Few, if any, foresaw them finishing top of the standings in the regular season, but those expectations had turned into Finals aspirations by the time they began their journey in the playoffs.

“Relieved,” Golden State coach Steve Kerr said after the 104-90 Game 5 over Houston: “I always think of Pat Riley’s great quote: ‘When you’re coaching in the NBA, there’s winning and there’s misery’. And he’s right. Winning feels like a relief more than anything most of the time.

“But to get to the Finals, first time in 40 years for the Warriors, it’s more than relief. It’s joy. Our players are feeling it. I know our fans are. I’m happy for everybody, especially our fans. Forty years is a long time.”

MVP Stephen Curry has in some ways raised his game in the postseason, averaging 29.2 points on 46.1 per cent shooting from the field and 43.7 per cent shooting from distance, along with 6.4 assists and 4.9 rebounds.

He’s already defeated the Pelicans’ young superstar Anthony Davis, Grizzlies’ All-Star centre Marc Gasol and MVP runner-up James Harden of the Rockets.

If Golden State win the Finals over the Cleveland Cavaliers and LeBron James, Curry will crown his magnificent year by becoming the first player to ever take down all four other members of the All-NBA First Team en route to a championship.

The dynamic guard said after defeating Houston: “It was special, I think, because everybody was kind of enjoying the moment. We wanted to appreciate the moment, not take it for granted, because it was something that we’ve been waiting for and wanted to close out tonight.

“But you kind of take it for what it is because you have four more wins and you don’t want to get too ahead of yourself. We’re going to appreciate what we’ve done because we’ve got to be proud of winning the Western Conference. That was tough all year long, and we’re excited about the next step.”

Both Golden State and Cleveland will have ample time to rest and recover before Game 1 of the Finals tips-off on Thursday.

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