For Manny Pacquiao, it’s about getting a chance to win, not the money

For Manny Pacquiao, it wasn’t about winning the business deal.

It was about proving he was the better fighter.

Pacquiao cut his losses in negotiations to secure a fight with Floyd Mayweather Jr. So on Saturday night, fittingly in Las Vegas, the gamble Pacquiao made gives him a chance to go all in and win the legacy bout, with all the high-rollers and the world watching.

“If my concern is myself alone, the fight is hard to make happen,” said Pacquiao, who accepted a 60%-40% purse split in Mayweather’s favor. “I didn’t want 60-40. I did it for the sake of the fans. We know they’ve been waiting for this fight for five years.”

When the buzz first started about this super-fight, it was Pacquiao who was No. 1 in boxing’s mythical pound-for-pound rankings. But the fighters’ swapped spots, as Mayweather (47-0, 26 knockouts) kept winning while Pacquiao (57-5-2, 38 KOs) suffered a December 2012 knockout loss to Juan Manuel Marquez.

Rated as the best pound-for-pound boxer in the world, Manny Pacquiao was already called the best boxer in the 2000s. At the age of 35 with a record of 56 wins, five losses and two ties, Pacquiao shows no sign of slowing down.

Pacquiao’s professional boxing career started in 1995 and he boxed primarily in the Philippines until 2001. In his 2001 debut in the United States against Lehlohonolo Ledwaba of South Africa, Pacquiao won by TKO in six rounds.

Before facing Mexico’s Erik Morales in March 19, 2005, in Las Vegas, Pacquiao had not lost since September 1999. Morales won by unanimous decision to take the WBC international super featherweight title.

Ten months later, Pacquiao faced Erik Morales again. Pacquiao knocked Morales out in the 10th round. It was the first time Morales was knocked out in his boxing career.

Pacquiao trades punches with David Diaz during their WBC lightweight championship boxing match June 28, 2008, in Las Vegas. Pacquiao won by knockout in the ninth round.
That loss made the already problematic negotiations between the Mayweather and Pacquiao camps all the more difficult. Previously, they’d had major disputes over drug-testing, the purse cut and personal feuds.

After Pacquiao lost, Mayweather was quick to dismiss him as a possible opponent by saying the Filipino first had to finish his business with Marquez, who won in their fourth fight.

But Pacquiao, 36, responded with three convincing victories over younger men, including a unanimous decision over Timothy Bradley that avenged a controversial loss to Bradley in 2012 because of bad judging. Pacquiao then set a personal record by knocking down Chris Algieri six times last November in a lopsided decision in China.

As he concluded training for Algieri, Pacquiao was asked about the Mayweather side saying it would require accepting a 60-40 split to get the fight made.

“Yeah, I’ll do that,” Pacquiao said without pause. “No problem.”

Pacquiao’s promoter Bob Arum said negotiations started at an even steeper disadvantage, with Mayweather’s representative proposing a 65-35 split.

“Manny truly believes money isn’t everything, and you can’t be cheated when money isn’t everything,” Arum said. “He was willing to sacrifice points to make the fight. Simple as that. He wanted the fight.”

Arum, who’s been brokering fight deals since the 1960s, said, “Obviously, I pushed back” from the 65-35 talk, “but it went on for weeks.”

Friction between Arum and his former fighter Mayweather, along with the promoter’s strong influence on Pacquiao, were considered as major reasons the fight would never happen.

In my mind, I didn’t think I’d be a good boxer. All that was really in my mind was to earn a kilo of rice.
– Manny Pacquiao, on his humble beginnings as a fighter
“Some can paint me as a Svengali who dictates what to do to Manny, but it’s not the truth. I stayed in this business so long by taking directions, and getting approval, from athletes,” Arum said. “If Manny wants to take a ridiculously low percentage, it’s his career and his life. … We settled for this because Manny was willing to.

“Whether it was a smart decision or a stupid decision, it’s a decision he and I will live with.”

Of course, given the historic scope of this fight, both boxers will earn unheard-of sums for their bout Saturday. Together they could earn more than $300 million for what should be a record pay-per-view bout, with a possible $100 million for Pacquiao.

Pacquiao’s first memories of boxing also center on money.

He still remembers how, as a poverty-stricken child, his uncle showed him VHS tapes of boxing matches featuring Larry Holmes, Mike Tyson, Julio Cesar Chavez Sr., the Ruelas brothers and more.

At age 11, when Pacquiao used to sell doughnuts and other items on the street to help pad his family’s income, his uncle led him to a Sunday boxing contest. The young boy was surprised to learn that he’d been entered into the competition.

“I was excited, like, ‘What’s this?’ ” Pacquiao said.

He won a three-round decision and was given 100 pesos for the triumph — two dollars — and split the money with his uncle while giving the rest to his mother for groceries.

“Fifty pesos, that was big,” Pacquiao said. “Six pesos was a kilo of rice. I was thinking, ‘This is good for everybody.’ I was selling doughnuts, whatever I can sell … but boxing was one day of some work and you earn more money.

“My teacher saw me come in a little bruised up one day and told me, ‘Maybe you become Flash Elorde [the late former featherweight world champion from the Philippines].’ ”

Little did they know …

Pacquiao said when he was watching those fight videos, seeing the legendary men fighting in packed venues, his uncle imagined aloud: “What if you could get like that? In a building like that?”

“I loved boxing because it helped my mother,” Pacquiao said. “In my mind, I didn’t think I’d be a good boxer. All that was really in my mind was to earn a kilo of rice.”

Pacquiao became a pro at 16 and fought 43 fights, almost all in the Philippines, before his first bout in the U.S. in 2001. His furious fighting style, an ability to knock out bigger men and his winning titles at various weight classes made him an international star.

His success here made his returns home heart-tugging, and he’d literally allow lines to form at his home, where he’d hand out money.

He enjoys the fruits of his labor — drives a lavish sports car, is angling to buy a multi-million-dollar home in L.A. with this purse from the Mayweather fight — but his newborn religious faith and current duties as a congressman in the Philippines still leave him feeling obligated.

“I enjoy helping people — the poor, orphans — I cannot leave them hungry without helping them. I’m not materialistic,” he said. “The money’s not mine. It’s God’s grace that’s entrusted to me.

“My first concern every fight is how to entertain people, give them enjoyment and make them happy. Of course, for doing that, there’s a price, and [Mayweather] set this price.”

Pacquiao admits both men had “nowhere to go,” regarding another big fight. Mayweather, 38, wouldn’t come close to earning $200 million in a fight against Amir Khan, and Marquez no longer wants to fight Pacquiao.

Pacquiao could’ve dug in, pressing Mayweather for a better cut with so many millions possible. But Pacquiao said he has other concerns.

“I have to make sure I’m in the best condition of my life,” he said. “Being an underdog, you’re more focused on training, from the first day to the last day. I’m very confident. My training, conditioning; I can feel it. My speed, footwork, punches … are the things to beat his [defensive] style and win the fight.”

The possibility of recouping a larger chunk in a rematch is something Pacquiao said he can tend to after this fight.

First, he has to win, and so he routinely spent this training camp in L.A. running up to Griffith Observatory, with a pack of fans and countrymen tailing.

“The most important thing in this fight is cutting off the ring — with strong legs, footwork, speed,” Pacquiao said. “It’s good to get to the top of the observatory and feel like I do now.”

He’ll break camp Monday, then drive himself to Las Vegas.

“No problem,” he said, about the biggest fight of his life on Saturday. “I’m ready.”


The Masters: Rory McIlroy, Tiger Woods get most attention

Rory McIlroy stands on the cusp of history, but the returning Tiger Woods is among those looking to prevent the world No. 1 from etching his name in the record books in one of the most eagerly awaited Masters of all time.

Northern Irishman McIlroy will become just the sixth player to achieve a career grand slam if he triumphs at Augusta this weekend — joining Woods, Jack Nicklaus, Gene Sarazen, Ben Hogan and Gary Player.

An outstanding 2014 saw McIlroy win the British Open and the PGA Championship and he’s rightly the favorite to receive the famous green jacket from defending champion Bubba Watson on Sunday.

The 25-year-old McIlroy has talked in the build-up about how his collapse in the 2011 Masters has been the catalyst for his career.

The record books show that last year’s eighth-place finish was McIlroy’s best showing at Augusta, but four years ago he held a four-shot lead heading into Sunday’s play. However, he endured a nightmare final-round collapse and an error-strewn 80 saw his dreams go up in smoke.

It took a mere two months for McIlroy to bounce back as he won the first of his four majors at the U.S. Open that same year and the pressure is now on to complete his haul.

Ironically, Woods’ return from a self-imposed, two-month hiatus may have alleviated the pressure on McIlroy, because so much of the focus has been on Tiger’s status for Augusta.

The 14-time major champion has not played competitive golf since his withdrawal after 11 holes at the Farmers Insurance Open in February following a dramatic and well-publicized drop in form, while concerns about his persistent back injury have remained.

Woods, who now sits outside the world’s top 100, confirmed his participation last week and if he were to collect a fifth green jacket, it would represent arguably one of the greatest comebacks in golfing history given his fall from grace in recent times.

Key for Woods, who missed the 2014 Masters due to injury, will be to overcome a short game that has completely deteriorated as he tackles one of the most challenging courses in the game.

With so much of the attention stolen by McIlroy and Woods, there are plenty of players who have slipped under the radar.

That might suit defending champion Watson, who has won the tournament in two of the past three years. The American undoubtedly has the length off the tee and delicacy around the greens to join Nicklaus, Woods and Nick Faldo as the only men to have defended the Masters.

There will be a strong contingent from the United States aiming to shoot their way into Masters folklore.

Jordan Spieth has been touted as the man possibly best equipped to challenge McIlroy this weekend, borne out of an outstanding Masters debut in 2014.

The 21-year-old was runner-up to Watson a year ago and won the Valspar Championship in March. He also recorded a second-place finish at the Texas Open and lost the Houston Open in a playoff last weekend to J.B. Holmes.

Rickie Fowler, fifth at Augusta last season, is a man never far away at the majors. He had two runner-up finishes and a third-place finish in the other majors last season.

Patrick Reed is a four-time winner on the PGA Tour and has the confidence, guile and self-assured nature to challenge the leaderboard, while Dustin Johnson — one of the few players who can match McIlroy for distance off the tee — has returned from a self-imposed exile to deal with personal problems in fine form, including victory at the World Golf Championships.

At 44, Phil Mickelson represents the old guard and he has endured a tricky few months, but the prize of a fourth Masters victory could spark another run.

Away from the States, Sweden’s Henrik Stenson has proved his mettle with four top four finishes in majors over the past two seasons, but his best at Augusta came last year when he placed 14th.

Adam Scott, the 2013 champion, and fellow Australian Jason Day will also be among the favorites this weekend.


Through 10 titles, winning never gets old for Connecticut

Human nature being what it is, this third consecutive national title, a fifth in seven years, a tenth overall, could have been collected and cataloged by the Connecticut women’s basketball team, positioned inside a crowded trophy case before the grinding pursuit of the next begins all too soon.

But there was Breanna Stewart on Tuesday night at Amalie Arena, the three-time Associated Press Player of the Year, first female three-time NCAA tournament Most Outstanding Player, lifetime All Everything and backbone of the Huskies, sob-smiling as the seconds bled away from a tougher-than-expected 63-53 win over perennial near-miss Notre Dame.

There was Stewart and junior guard Moriah Jefferson scurrying on the floor, among the feet of cameramen and onlookers to scrape confetti into “National Champions” hats, just to dump it on the well-coiffed head of their coach, Geno Auriemma, who had just tied legend John Wooden of the UCLA men’s program with ten national titles.

And there was Auriemma, ascending a ladder yet again, scissors in hand, pausing and then turning to ask a manager with a hand gesture accompaniment.

“All three?” he asked, referring to the three strands of net still attached to the rim.

All three. It was likely accidental symbolism, but it worked well. Three snips for three consecutive national championships. Three more souvenirs accrued by a 30th-year coach of one of sport’s most oppressive dynasties, and the elite players who congregate in Storrs, Conn., to be tested, tormented and turned into champions.

“It’s a feeling I can’t really explain,” said Jefferson, who co-led all scorers with 15 points with five assists and four steals. “I think you come into college having these dreams and to do it and to know we had a goal and we have three of them now. It’s crazy.”

And giddy. And fresh every time, they said.

“No, we don’t take things for granted here at all,” Stewart said, still emotional in the locker room long after post-game ceremonies had concluded. “I think that the amount of pressure we put on ourselves to get back here … this is how you make your season perfect. There is no other way to go out with a great season than to become national champions. That’s something some of our freshmen have never experienced before and every time you experience it, you want to enjoy it like you’ve never done it before.”

The championships all feel different, coach and players say, because teams and seasons evolve differently. Auriemma admits he didn’t much like the personality of this group in the fall even before its lone loss of the season, 88-86 in overtime to Stanford. They grew together and learned to trust each other, he said, and ultimately at 38-1, celebrated this championship together. Assessments of the career’s work, he said, have to wait.

“Any time you’re in a championship situation, any time you’re trying to win any tournament, but especially the national championship, so many things have to go right and you have to have players that make those plays that make it go right,” he said. “To do that 10 times in a row, to win 10 and be 10-0 in national championship games is — again, it’s too big for me to think about it. It’s too much. Too much.”

Scarily for everyone else, including Notre Dame — which has played in five straight Final Fours but not won a national championship since 2001 — UConn could be too much again next season. Stewart, the first Most Outstanding Player for three consecutive seasons, returns and is poised to fulfill her stated freshman year goal of four championships. Next year, if she and the Huskies can maintain their new version of the status quo, she will surpass former UCLA center Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, who was named MOP three times in his career. That, she said, shouldn’t even be a possibility.

“I think Moriah should have gotten the MOP,” Stewart said. “I think the way she played was phenomenal this past two games (with a combined 29 points and nine assists). I think that people wanted to give it to me just because it was my opportunity to win three in a row.”

Senior Kaleena Mosqueda-Lewis personified every senior or retiring veteran’s dream by co-leading with 15 points and hitting a 3-pointer and two-point field goals in succession to stem what was Notre Dame’s last, best rush in the final five minutes and build an 11-point lead. Going out well was its own reward.

“It’s special for us every time we win a national championship,” she said. “Every year is different. Every year has its own trials and tribulations and I don’t think at all we take it for granted. We get just as excited whether it was our first one or our third one. I think we’re just so excited being able to win together.”

“Together” at UConn is a broad term. With Auriemma a common thread between three decades of national champions, All-Americans, pro players and Olympians, alums with expectations are ubiquitous, especially in the spring. That, Mosqueda-Lewis said, helps foster a perpetual expectation that prevents complacency or ambivalence to success.

“It’s the culture that coach Auriemma and (associate head coach Chris Dailey) have built since they got to UConn,” she said. “Their expectations are so high that you’re forced to kind of try and reach them. I think it’s just something you get used to over the years as you stay here, as you practice here and as you grow as a player. And also you see all the former players that come back to the Final Four and you pay it back to them. They’re the ones that started this history here.”

And when you burnish it, you enjoy it.​


Sacramento’s Sim Bhullar makes NBA history as first Indian player in league

There wasn’t much to it, there were just 16 seconds left in a blowout game, but it happened:

The Kings’ Sim Bhullar made NBA history as first player of Indian descent ever in the Association. The D-League call up likely will get more time in upcoming games. Hopefully we’ll get to see him do more than inbound the basketball.

It may have been one small step in an undecided game, but it was a giant step for the NBA — the first player with family from one of the world’s largest and most populated countries on the planet walked on to an NBA court and had his name called.

Bhullar is a bit of a project as a big man. But from the “things you can’t teach” file he is 7’5″ and weighs north of 350. He spent most of the season with the Reno Big Horns.


Iran’s deputy minister for sports: yes, women can go to watch big matches

Iran has said it will allow female fans to attend big sporting events alongside men, overturning a long-standing ban that made international headlines when a young British-Iranian woman was jailed for trying to attend a men’s volleyball match last year.

The deputy minister for sports, Abdolhamid Ahmadi, told the state news agency on Saturday that the country’s national security council had approved a government proposal to allow women to watch games this year.

Iranian authorities detained Ghoncheh Ghavami, 26, in June for trying to attend a men’s volleyball match.

Ghavami, who spent five months in jail before being released on bail, was arrested after taking part in a protest with other activists in front of Tehran’s majestic Azadi complex, wearing a white scarf and holding a placard, demanding to be allowed to watch the match between Iran and Italy.

Now it has emerged that an appeals court has dismissed charges against her and she will not have to return to prison, although a travel ban imposed on her is still in place.

In reaction to her detention, the international volleyball federation said it would not allow Iran to host international events while women were barred from stadiums.

Speaking to the Observer, Ghavami, who is in Tehran, welcomed the news. “Although this proposal is likely to be enforced with some limitations in the beginning, fortunately the issue of women demanding to be allowed in stadiums has gained much public support in the country thanks to the efforts of women’s rights activists in the past 10 years,” she said.

“The new government has supported the ban to be lifted but we want to make sure there will be a guarantee women will be allowed to attend all sporting events in future.”

It was not clear from Ahmadi’s comments which sports women can watch, but they are likely to include basketball and volleyball. The move will pave the way for women to watch football matches. Hassan Rouhani’s vice president for women and family affairs, Shahindokht Mowlaverdi, welcomed Saturday’s news in a tweet.

“This proposal is designed according to our cultural, social and religious sensibilities and for certain sports which are exclusive to men, families [and women] cannot attend matches,” the deputy minister said, presumably referring to swimming.

Although women in Iran engage in a variety of sports from martial arts to car rallies so long as they obey the Islamic hijab, they are not allowed to do certain sports in public where men can watch, such as swimming.

But the Iranian society is slowly, steadily changing and women are increasingly allowed greater sporting activities. Iranian women’s struggle to be allowed to enter stadiums was highlighted in a 2006 film, Offside, made by prominent Iranian director Jafar Panahi, which features a group of girls attempting to enter a stadium to watch a World Cup qualifying match.

The mandatory hijab for sportswomen has caused obstacles in the past. In 2011, Iran’s women’s football team was banned from an Olympic qualifier recently after Fifa ruled that their full-body strip broke the organisations rules.

In 2013, soon after Hassan Rouhani won the election in Tehran Shirin Gerami, made history after persuading Iranian officials to allow her to compete in a world championship in London as Iran’s first female triathlete.

She was the first Iranian women to take part in triathlon, which involved swimming in public, for her country’s tricolour green, white and red flag.

Rouhani, who tweeted a picture of Gerami after the competition, has called for gender equality since taking power, but such decisions are not entirely in his hands.

Ghavami’s detention embarrassed him but Iran’s judiciary, which was behind her arrest, acts independently of government. The president has advocated women being allowed to enter sporting events, such as volleyball matches.

Efforts to allow women to watch sport started under Ahmadinejad’s rule but hit a gridlock when a group of hardline Iranian MPs and influential clerics objected. Fatemeh Alia, a female MP, was quoted as saying last year that women are for “taking care of their babies and husband – not watching volleyball”.

It is not clear if the new announcement will meet any sabotage by the conservative-dominated parliament.


NFL draft’s ‘experience of a lifetime’ may not woo Mariota, Winston

Marcus Mariota plans on skipping the experience of a lifetime, attending the NFL draft in Chicago, to honor a previous commitment. Jameis Winston is poised to make a similar decision.

Mariota’s high school friends in Hawaii have planned a huge party in his honor, and the reigning Heisman Trophy winner gave his RSVP last year.

“Mariota has been saying since October that they’re having a class party,” former Dallas Cowboys personnel guru and senior analyst Gil Brandt, himself a big part of overseeing draft invitations to the top draft prospects, told USA TODAY Sports. “Mariota feels torn because he’d like to come (to the draft). Yet he has this obligation.

“In Winston’s case, it sounds to me like he’d like to change his mind.”

Winston, the former Florida State star and 2013 Heisman winner who is likely to be picked first overall by the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, is leaning toward spending draft night in his hometown of Bessemer, Ala., with his family, including a grandmother who has Type-2 diabetes.

Attending the draft is not mandatory for invited players. But it’s very rare for top picks — especially marquee quarterbacks — to bypass draft week’s festivities, which include media obligations, community events and a red carpet appearance prior to the first round.

“We respect any player’s decision to do what is best for him on draft day, especially when it involves family,” the league said in a statement.

“There have been other top players who have elected not to attend previous drafts. We expect to have about 25 of the highest-rated players in Chicago for the festivities there.”

Still, the league can’t be happy that such visible players won’t be in attendance for an event it plans to rotate around the country. The draft had been held in New York since 1965, but the NFL is taking it on the road to the Windy City and could dangle it to cities that want to bid for it in the future.

“You’re always disappointed when you don’t have the top quarterbacks there,” said Brandt. “But we’ll have a lot of good players there, a lot of players who want to be there. The experience they’ll have in Chicago will be off the charts.

“It’s not going to affect the draft going forward. I’ve got 20 agents calling who want their kids there. … The city of Chicago is going to make this one of the great offseason events ever.

“Deep down both these guys want to come.”

Brandt says Mariota’s dilemma runs deeper than spending draft night with his friends and family.

“Marcus just said that it’s the island culture, and that he owed something to the islands where he was raised,” said Brandt, who discussed the matter with Mariota at Oregon’s pro day last month.

“You admire the guy for keeping his word.”

In concert with NFL executive vice president of football operations Troy Vincent and VP of football communications Michael Signora, Brandt was influential in inviting a record 30 players to the 2014 draft. That was seven more prospects than the previous draft.

But other notables have skipped the league’s offseason flagship event before.

Cleveland Browns perennial Pro Bowl left tackle Joe Thomas, the third overall pick in 2007, opted to go fishing with his father, father-in-law and agent on Lake Michigan. Former Heisman Trophy winner Tim Tebow, the 25th pick in 2010, opted to stay home in Jacksonville with family members and friends after several of them were unable to make it for the draft celebration in New York.

“It wouldn’t be that big a deal if it wasn’t both of them,” said Brandt, referring to Winston and Mariota. “And it wouldn’t be that big a deal if it were two wide receiver or defensive backs. But there’s so much publicity attention devoted to quarterbacks.

“It’s unfortunate they can’t be there. And we wish they were there. But we also wish them both good luck.”

Mariota and Winston can only hope they don’t reflect on their decisions with regret.

“They are going to be missing out on something special,” Courtney Warmack, mother of Tennessee Titans guard Chance Warmack, told USA TODAY Sports.

She raved about the experience she had with her son, who was picked 10th overall in 2013.

“They’re missing out on a wonderful opportunity, just the camaraderie with their draft classmates who still talk about that experience whenever they see Chance,” added Courtney Warmack, a Fulton County schools administrator in Atlanta.

“For our whole family, the draft experience was memorable. The league treated us so well. It was so well organized, just a class act.”

Chance Warmack had the time of his life in Manhattan — so much so that his mom sent a thank you letter to Brandt and Signora.

“Everybody has their own reasons for going and not going,” Chance Warmack said. “But it definitely was an experience of a lifetime walking across that stage.”


Hernandez trial: Fiancee says she dumped box day after killing

FALL RIVER, Mass. — The day after Odin L. Lloyd’s murder, on June 18, 2013, Aaron Hernandez instructed his fiancée to get rid of a box stored in the basement of their North Attleboro house.
Shayanna Jenkins, who has been granted immunity from the prosecution to testify, said Monday in Bristol County Superior Court that she found the 2-foot high by 12-inch wide cardboard box in a storage area. She said that the box weighed 35 to 40 pounds and she never looked inside to see what it contained. She said that it had a strong odor of marijuana.
Jenkins, who has a 2-year-old daughter with the former New England Patriots tight end, testified that she placed the box in a large black trash bag. A surveillance camera at the house captured Jenkins taking the bag to the backyard patio.
That same morning, Jenkins said her younger sister, Shaneah, stopped by the house seeking comfort. She had been dating Lloyd, who was fatally shot in a gravel pit less than a half-mile from the Hernandez house. Hernandez is on trial for first degree murder in the slaying.
Shayanna Jenkins testified that she borrowed her sister’s car and placed the bag and box in the trunk. She said she left the house for 45 to 60 minutes and drove to North Attleboro, Plainville and Foxboro. She testified that she disposed of the bag and box in a dumpster in a residential neighborhood.
“Where was the dumpster?” asked William M. McCauley, the lead prosecutor.
“I don’t know,” Jenkins said.
Prosecutors have previously said that they believe the .45 caliber Glock handgun that was used to kill Lloyd was in the discarded box. The murder weapon has not been found, but investigators recovered six .45 caliber shell casings at the murder scene and from a rental car, a silver Nissan Altima, Hernandez had the night of the slaying.
The testimony on Monday marked the second straight day Jenkins spent on the witness stand. She was the sole witness on Friday and remained in the witness box for more than five hours on Monday.
During cross examination, Charles W. Rankin, one of Hernandez’s defense lawyers, posed a series of questions to Jenkins about her relationship with the former football star. She said that she had known him throughout their lives in Bristol, Conn.
After he signed a contract with the Patriots, Jenkins said she discovered that Hernandez had been cheating on her with another woman. She also said that Hernandez was upset when his mother began an extramarital affair with Tanya Singleton’s husband.
Singleton was Hernandez’s first cousin. She spent several months in jail for refusing to answer questions before a grand jury that investigated the Lloyd slaying.
Jenkins said that Hernandez moved into Singleton’s house and she served as a mother figure. Singleton is 14 years older than her cousin.
Earlier in the day, Jenkins testified that on Father’s Day, June 16, 2013, Hernandez repeatedly used her cellphone to make calls and send text messages to Ernest Wallace, a co-defendant in the murder of Lloyd. The messages continued after midnight.
“Did you have reason to be texting [Wallace] that night?” McCauley, the prosecutor asked.
“No,” Jenkins said.
On Father’s Day night, Hernandez, Jenkins and four friends met at the South Street Café in Providence. The group ate and drank heavily for more than three hours.
Prosecutors have said that Hernandez summoned Wallace and Carlos A. Ortiz to his house in North Attleboro that night. Wallace and Ortiz are also charged with first-degree murder and face trial later.
Around 1 a.m. on June 17, the three are accused of driving to the Dorchester section of Boston, picking up Lloyd and fatally shooting him in the North Attleboro Industrial Park.


Steve Nash Announces Retirement From The NBA

Steve Nash finally made official what many have long expected: that he is retiring from the NBA.

“It’s bittersweet. I already miss the game deeply, but I’m also really excited to learn to do something else,” Nash wrote in a post published Saturday on The Players’ Tribune titled “Life After Basketball.”

Nash didn’t see the court this year with the Lakers, sidelined again with injuries. The two-time NBA MVP said in his post that after his 19 years in the NBA, he “will likely never play basketball again.”

Nash, who turned 41 last month, will finish his career as the most accurate free throw shooter in NBA history, according to ESPN, with a 90.4 percentage. He is also the third highest in assists with 10,335 trailing John Stockton and Jason Kidd.

Nash’s retirement has long been expected as he has struggled with back pain and injuries towards the end of his career. In 2014 Nash himself speculated that with one year left on his contract, this would be his last season.

“I heard someone once say there comes a day when they tell us all that we can’t play anymore. We’re not good enough. Surplus to requirements. Too slow, maybe. When you’re a teenager with outsized dreams and a growing obsession, and someone tells you this ain’t gonna last forever, it’s scary. I never forgot it,” he wrote.

Throughout his essay, Nash thanks the fans and supports and fellow teammates and players from his storied time with both the Phoenix Suns and the Los Angeles Lakers.

I remember when Dirk [Nowitzki] and I were nobodies. He used to say over dinner sometimes, “How are us two stiffs gonna make it in this league?” Somehow we made something of ourselves. After all the wins and all the great times we’ve had around the world together, what really means the most to me are the late nights early in our careers when we’d go back to the Landry Center in Dallas, to play a few more games of HORSE and one-on-one.
Nash, who said he also had a future in soccer had he focused on the sport, was drafted in the first round of the 1996 NBA Draft by Phoenix. Steve Nash announces retirement

Fernando Verdasco wins Nadal at Madrid Open

Nadal feels the blues as he loses in Madrid

Rafael Nadal tastes defeat for the first time in 22 matches at the Madrid Open.
Rafael Nadal tastes defeat for the first time in 22 matches at the Madrid Open.

(CNN) — World number two Rafael Nadal has sensationally lost to Fernando Verdasco 6-3, 3-6, 7-5 in the third round of the Madrid Open.

The loss was the first defeat of the clay court season for the six-time French Open champion.

Considered arguably the greatest player to ever set foot on clay, Nadal had recently won in Monte Carlo — a record eighth title — before clinching his seventh tournament victory in Barcelona. He had previously between Verdasco on all 13 of their previous meetings.

It took Verdasco three hours and 11 minutes to beat Nadal in an error-strewn match. Verdasco hit nine double faults but Nadal somehow conspired to lose despite leading 5-2 in the final set.

It brought to an end a 22-match winning streak for Nadal that stretched back to 201.

The shock defeat will reopen the debate about the Madrid Open’s controversial use of blue clay. World number one Novak Djokovic has been an outspoken critic of the surface.

“It’s impossible to move,” he was quoted as telling reporters by AFP earlier in the week.

“I cannot find the words to describe this court. It’s really tough to play like this on a center court. We need serious discussion about the future of this blue clay.

“We cannot change anything this year, but my first impressions are not good. I don’t want to be the one complaining, but I say honestly what I feel.”

Ironically it was Nadal that refused to be drawn on the issue of the blue clay after he had comfortably beaten Russia’s Nikolay Davydenko in straight sets 6-2 6-2 on Wednesday.

“It was my first match here in these circumstances,” he said.

“I am very happy about my result, about the way that I played.”

Verdasco goes on to play the sixth-seeded Czech Tomas Berdych in the next round.

Madrid wins Europe championship

Football: Atletico Madrid win Europa League

Colombian striker Falcao celebrates after his two goals hand Atletico Madrid victory in the Europa League final.
Colombian striker Falcao celebrates after his two goals hand Atletico Madrid victory in the Europa League final.

(CNN) — Atletico Madrid beat Athletic Bilbao 3-0 in the all-Spanish final of the Europa League in the Romanian capital Bucharest.

The game was won in the first half an hour after Colombian international Radamel Falcao scored two stunning individual goals.

Athletic Bilbao held on until half time, regrouped, and had most of the possession in the second half but couldn’t make the breakthrough.

Instead Falcao came close to scoring a hat trick when he hit to post before Diego scored a late goal on the breakaway.

The build up to the Europa League final, Europe’s second continental club competition after the Champions League, focused on the fact it was an all-Spanish affair.

Yet that only tells half the story.

Both teams may hail from the same league but their philosophies, history, catchment area and even language are a country apart.

Athletic Bilbao is a Basque team to its marrow. The team come from the northern city of Bilbao and have never been relegated from Spain’s top tier.

The Basque region has long walked a different beat to the rest of Spain, having a distinct language, culture and history. The terrorist group ETA has taken hundreds of lives fighting for Basque independence.

The Athletic Bilbao team is made exclusively of talent nurtured in its youth academy or from players who can trace their ancestry to the Basque country.

But in that context, their Argentine coach comes from a different planet.

Marcelo Bielsa is arguably the most innovative coach in world football. Known for his intellect, temper and idiosyncratic behavior on the sidelines and on the training pitch — behavior that has earned him the nickname “El Loco” — Bielsa has had to rely on tactically out thinking his opponents rather than outspending them.

The highlight of the campaign came in an earlier round when Bielsa’s team ripped Manchester United apart over two matches.

For the final “El Loco” was up against Diego Simione who played for Bielsa when he was in charge of the Argentina national team.

But it was Bielsa’s young protégé that came out on top, the second time Atletico Madrid have won the title in three years, largely thanks to the performance of Falcao.

His two goals gave Madrid a decisive advantage. In the second half Athletic Bilbao besieged Madrid’s goal without having many clear cut opportunities. Instead Madrid waited and broke on the counter attack, scoring a third and effectively ending the contest with five minutes to go.

By then even the usually boisterous “El Loco” sat quietly on the bench, resigned to his fate.

“I am disappointed, we did not play a good match,” Bielsa told AFP after the match.

“I am in charge of the strategy of the squad who failed to achieve its objective, which makes the disappointment even greater. Atletico deserved their win, but the scale of it was excessive.”