Brady, Patriots top Chiefs with wild last-second win

Stephen Gostkowski hit a 28-yard field goal as time expired, and the New England Patriots beat the Kansas City Chiefs 43-40 on Sunday night after blowing a big halftime lead. Tom Brady passed for 340 yards and a touchdown and ran for another score in his 200th victory as a starting quarterback, tops all-time. Brady also passed former teammate Adam Vinatieri for most career wins in the regular season and playoffs combined with 227. The Patriots (4-2) also got another solid performance from rookie Sony Michel, who rushed 24 times for 106 yards and two touchdowns. It was the first

Game Wrap: Jackie Bradley Jr, Red Sox even ALCS with Astros

Red Sox pull even with Astros in ALCS

David Price went home a winner in a post-season start for the first time in his career. That, he insisted, is all he ever cared about. “This is bigger than David Price,” he said on Sunday night. “This isn’t about me. This is about the Boston Red Sox.” Price was good enough, the Red Sox relievers were even better, and Jackie Bradley Jr. delivered a go-ahead, three-run double off the Green Monster to lead Boston to a 7-5 victory over the Houston Astros and tie the AL Championship Series at one game apiece. Price fell one out short of qualifying

Red Sox ace Chris Sale hospitalized with stomach illness

The Boston Red Sox say ace left-hander Chis Sale has a stomach illness and will spend the night in the hospital. The Red Sox made the announcement Sunday night in the seventh inning of Game 2 of the AL Championship Series against Houston. Boston said Sale reported the illness earlier in the day and was admitted to Massachusetts General Hospital. He will be held overnight for observation. The 29-year-old Sale struggled with his control in Boston’s 7-2 loss to the Astros in the series opener Saturday night. He allowed two runs with four walks and a hit batter in four

Canada thrashes Panama to book FIFA Women’s World Cup berth

Christine Sinclair isn’t concerned about chasing records. She’s set her sights on the World Cup. Sinclair scored twice and Canada went on to secure a spot in next year’s World Cup in France with a 7-0 victory over Panama on Sunday in the semifinals of the CONCACAF qualifying tournament. Watch highlights from Canada’s win: Christine Sinclair and Adriana Leon each scored a brace as Canada thumped Panama 7-0 in the semifinals of the CONCACAF Women’s Championship. The win gives Canada a berth in the 2019 FIFA World Cup. 1:33 Sinclair now has 177th international goals. She ranks second on the

Del Potro could miss rest of season with fractured kneecap

Juan Martin del Potro received treatment on his knee at the side of the court World number four Juan Martin del Potro could miss the rest of the season after fracturing his right kneecap in a heavy fall at the Shanghai Masters. The 30-year-old Argentine retired from his last-16 match against eventual finalist Borna Coric on Thursday after falling during the first set. Former US Open champion Del Potro, who has his leg in a splint, said: “It’s a very difficult moment. I feel very sad. “It’s a hard blow that leaves me without strength.” Del Potro had been expected

Childhood friends Cavallini, Osorio reunited with Canadian men’s team

Together they rank as Canada’s top soccer players currently playing their trade in North America. And Lucas Cavallini and Jonathan Osorio go way back. “We’ve been buddies since Day 1, since we were 12 years old playing together,” said Cavallini, a forward with Mexico’s Puebla FC. “He’s a very very good friend of mine,” added Osorio, a midfielder having a career year with Toronto FC. Their games extended off the field as youngsters. Cavallini’s father made a soccer pitch of sorts in the family basement in Mississauga, Ont., with Lucas and Osorio often pairing up against their younger brothers. Years

Stephens qualifies for WTA Finals for first time

Stephens won the US Open in 2017 and reached this year’s French Open final World number eight Sloane Stephens has qualified for the season-ending WTA Finals for the first time. The 25-year-old American, who won the US Open last year, is the sixth player to qualify for the event in Singapore, which begins on 22 October. Her place was confirmed after world number five Elina Svitolina said she will not play an event this week. Svitolina, Karolina Pliskova and Kiki Bertens are vying for the final two places in the event. Both Pliskova and Bertens are playing at this week’s

Djokovic extends winning run to 18 to take Shanghai title

Novak Djokovic will replace Roger Federer as the world number two on Monday Novak Djokovic continued his superb form by beating Croatia’s Borna Coric in the final of the Shanghai Masters. The second seed, 31, beat 21-year-old Coric 6-3 6-4 in 97 minutes to claim his fourth Shanghai title. Coric, the 13th seed, upset Roger Federer in Saturday’s semi-finals to reach his first Masters 1000 final. Serb Djokovic has won 18 consecutive matches since losing at the Rogers Cup on 10 August, and will replace Federer as world number two on Monday. The 14-time Grand Slam champion cruised through the

F1 legend Hakkinen would only return to racing to ‘kick some butt’

Please note that unauthorised reproduction or translation of any content (including words, data, information, photos, videos and any other intellectual property) published on this page and any other copyrighted content published on is strictly prohibited. Please see our terms and conditions for further information.Source

Mo Cheeks, the Thunder’s Westbrook whisperer

One by one, Oklahoma City Thunder players cleared off the practice court. Rookie two-way guard P.J. Dozier finished a round of free throws; Paul George disappeared through a door after shooting about a hundred corner 3-pointers; and head coach Billy Donovan and Steven Adams walked toward the corner corridor after talking pick-and-roll positioning at midcourt.

Underneath a basket across the court, Russell Westbrook sat on a basketball leaned up against the stanchion. Next to him sat Maurice Cheeks, reclined up against the padding next to Westbrook.

With 2Pac’s “I Get Around” popping through the speakers, they sat alone together in the spacious practice facility, talking. It wasn’t an unusual sight; Westbrook and Cheeks are almost always together after practice.

They routinely compete in free-throw contests against each other — Cheeks wins a lot of them, by the way — and are always connected in conversation.

Knowing what was likely happening in this Westbrook-Cheeks meeting, a couple of staffers couldn’t resist wandering over to join in. Eventually, somehow, a bet was made for Cheeks to race strength trainer Kevin Hyde.

Ready, set, and before “go,” Cheeks took off — a savvy veteran move — and won in a “sprint” from baseline to half-court as Bobby Brown’s “Every Little Step” played.

Westbrook, almost assuredly having a hunch, had placed his bet on Cheeks. He roared with pride at his pick.

“Give me my f—ing money!” Westbrook yelled.

The synergy between Westbrook and Cheeks started basically from Day 1, when Cheeks was brought in as a top assistant under Scott Brooks in 2009 with a pretty straightforward job description: Russ.

Westbrook was coming off a rocky rookie season that featured ample criticism, too many turnovers and an outsider belief that he wasn’t actually the team’s point guard of the future. Critics said Westbrook, while he could create moments of brilliance, was too wild to run a team.

Cheeks went to work quickly, building a unique bond that has remained strong for more than a decade. He became the unofficial Westbrook Whisperer.

Even after Cheeks left the Thunder to become head coach of the Detroit Pistons in 2013, he returned to OKC the next season after being fired early in 2014. As a player, Cheeks was known less for flash and more for simple, traditional accolades: poise, demeanor, pass-first, efficient, conservative.

In a lot of ways, he was the anti-Westbrook. He fit the floor general mold and was no stranger to playing alongside big talent and big personalities such as Julius Erving, Moses Malone and Charles Barkley.

Last December, when Cheeks wasn’t yet named a Hall of Famer, Westbrook made an unprompted pitch for his assistant coach, but not necessarily because of his on-court achievements.

“That’s just the stigma,” Westbrook said of the complicated nature of legacy. “If you won, oh, three championships, then [you’re worthy]. Like, in my opinion, Coach Cheeks — I tell him all the time he should be [in the Hall of Fame] because of the different things he’s done, not just for the game of basketball, but in everything. Like for me, just talking to him.”

Cheeks will be enshrined after being eligible for nearly two decades. While Friday’s ceremony will officially make Cheeks a Hall of Famer, he has been existing in the NBA as a legend for some time. His impact casts a deep, wide shadow, from his mentorship of an MVP and future Hall of Famer in Westbrook, to a viral moment before there were viral moments in 2003, when he graciously spared a young girl from public embarrassment singing the national anthem.

“Just extremely, extremely happy for him,” Westbrook said. “He’s somebody I look up to as a mentor, somebody that’s guided me since I’ve been in the league. He was with me since Day 1 and left and came back [to Oklahoma City].

“Just the unbelievable knowledge he has for the game and the things he did for the game of basketball, playing and coaching, I’m just extremely blessed and honored to be coached by him, and obviously it’s a great honor to be in the Hall of Fame. He’s so deserving of it because he’s done so much for the game.”

Cheeks’ career numbers don’t really pop. He spent 15 years in the NBA, mostly with the Sixers, winning a championship and registering high on all-time steals and assists lists. But he has career averages of 11.1 points and 6.7 assists per game, atypical numbers in terms of Hall of Fame merit.

“I don’t think I’m in here for my numbers,” Cheeks said. “But the reason why I played the game was for my teammates, trying to win, and hopefully people can recognize that.”

There’s a case to be made that Cheeks is as much a Hall of Famer because of his impact on the game of basketball on a larger scale, both as a noble ambassador, but also as a mentor. Back in April, he was answering questions about making the Hall, and coaching Westbrook was referenced.

“Oh, man, I don’t know about that,” Cheeks interrupted with a megawatt smile. “A whole different story there.”

It was all Thabo Sefolosha‘s fault, apparently.

It was late in the third quarter of a game in January 2013 against the Memphis Grizzlies. The Thunder led by 25 at the time.

In a possession that featured zero passes, Westbrook had the ball on the block isolated against a smaller defender. He held the ball. Then he held it some more.

Finally, he put it on the floor, and the dribbles began. Sefolosha made a cut, bringing another defender over to Westbrook’s space. Westbrook hesitated, dribbled some more and was whistled for a five-second violation.


Westbrook slammed the ball into the floor, and like a pot of boiling water left unattended, it was all about to spill over. Westbrook raged in a huddle during a timeout, and Cheeks tried to calm him. Westbrook stomped to the end of the bench; Cheeks followed.

Hunched over his knees, sweat pouring off his brow as his head shook back and forth as Cheeks leaned in, Westbrook popped off the bench, pushed his chair aside, flipped a towel off the back of it and stormed to the tunnel. Cheeks followed.

There aren’t many people who exist on this planet who can wade into the eye of a Westbrook storm and not only live to tell the tale, but calm it.

A few minutes later, Westbrook was back, and (somewhat) under control. It was one of the most public tantrums for Westbrook, happening on national TV with the Inside the NBA crew dissecting it in full detail after.

But it was far from an isolated event. There was one against the Dallas Mavericks in a playoff game in 2011, where Westbrook argued with assistant coach Mark Bryant. Cheeks stepped in to cool the jets. Westbrook is nothing if not emotional and invested, both in games and, quite legendarily, on the practice floor.

For Westbrook, it has always been about controlled chaos, like Pecos Bill trying to rope the cyclone. Cheeks is often the lasso, the intermediary between the method and the madness.

Teammates who have known Westbrook for years rave about his growth as a leader. He has gone through a public evolution, with his mistakes amplified on the biggest stages and under playoff spotlights. But as he has aged, he’s learned to wrangle his outbursts and channel them into positivity.

“He used to get frustrated and go sideways,” Nick Collison said of Westbrook a couple of seasons ago. “But he’s able to now sit down, snap out of it, come back, say something to build some confidence and help the team.”

And without question, Cheeks’ mentorship and measured advice has been part of that process.

“He’s somebody I look up to as a mentor, somebody that’s guided me since I’ve been in the league. He was with me since Day 1.”

Russell Westbrook, on Mo Cheeks’ guidance

Make no mistake, Russell Westbrook deserves the most credit for the development of Russell Westbrook. He’s a tireless worker, still first to the practice gym and routinely one of the last to leave. He has shaped his body and game into those of a superstar through attrition.

But the mental evolution from immature hothead to a leader undoubtedly features the mentorship of Cheeks. Westbrook works with a lot of coaches, and as Cheeks has aged, he doesn’t really do physical drills with him anymore. But Westbrook will routinely interrupt a coach’s meeting to pull Cheeks out to discuss a coverage or strike up a conversation.

“He’s just down-to-earth,” Westbrook said. “We always keep it 100 with each other. He’s always straightforward, always telling me what he sees throughout the game to help me become a better point guard, because he’s obviously one of the greats.

“I always listen and sit down and get all the knowledge I can from him anytime I can. Keep that relationship going, because it’s a great bond that we have, and I cherish it.”

Before every game, Westbrook holds court with a shooting bet, taking a shot from the deep corner out of bounds, rainbow-ing it over the corner of the backboard. There are a lot of staffers involved in the bets to guess how many it’ll take, but the trash talk is almost always between Cheeks and Westbrook.

Westbrook loves to mimic Cheeks’ walking style, and Cheeks has no problem prodding Westbrook for a reckless decision. Thunder staffers often draw proverbial straws to wind Westbrook up before the game, to tweak him in some way that sets off his alarm and gets his motor running hot.

Westbrook is a perfectionist and demands it from everyone around him. He’s a clean freak, so sometimes it’s an equipment manager leaving some clothes on the floor around his chair. Sometimes it’s a staffer showing up just a little late for a pregame workout.

But Cheeks is the master, because as anyone who knows Westbrook says, you have to be able to get punched, and punch back.

When Cheeks was recognized for his Hall of Fame induction before a game against the Warriors last season, he stepped up near midcourt. Westbrook walked behind as Cheeks waved to a standing ovation and made sure to penetrate Cheeks’ line of sight.

Westbrook smirked.

“Old ass,” he said.

Cheeks rolled his face into a grin and turned his back to the crowd to say something back. Whatever it was, it stopped Westbrook, now bursting with laughter, in his tracks.

The way only Mo Cheeks can.


About The Author


Get more stuff like this
in your inbox

Subscribe to our mailing list and get interesting stuff and updates to your email inbox.