LeBron: Playing Warriors almost like playing Patriots

jets_103In sports, teams will trump individuals nearly every time. LeBron James knows this well.

Despite James averaging 35.6 points, 9 rebounds and 10.6 assists in the NBA Finals, his Cleveland Cavaliers are in a 0-3 hole to the Golden State Warriors.

Great teams, like the Patriots and Warriors, don’t beat themselves. Even on off days, their pedigree and attention to detail will win out over the course of 60-minute or 48-minute affairs.

No team has consistently overmatched opponents mentally as the Patriots have in the Tom Brady-Bill Belichick era. Sporting greatness on the field or court is one part of the equation (the Patriots have Brady and Rob Gronkowski, the Warriors Kevin Durant, Stephen Curry, Klay Thompson). Dominating preparation is another proven championship trait.

When teams have beaten the Patriots in Super Bowl s, like the New York Giants or Philadelphia Eagles, it took near-perfect efforts. Knowing the Patriots ‘ persona is why Doug Pederson knew he had to keep his foot on the gas in Super Bowl LII, which led to the memorable Philly Special touchdown.

Great teams don’t beat themselves and they make the margin for error minuscule. Even for a player of LeBron’s caliber, overcoming The Team is a daunting task.

No, he did something that he considered normal.

I hope anybody would have done that. But I don’t know, that’s just how I was raised, he said. You see somebody in distress, you just help them out, nothing more, nothing less. . . . I’m happy she made her flight more than anything. I’m not really a media guy.

Teammates were teasing him, and he would have rather talked about football than get attention for his good deed.

And with a little luck, we could live in a world where such gestures didn’t stand out in such sharp relief from what we’re surrounded by on social media.

While Cam Newton and new offensive coordinator Norv Turner feel each other out, Kuechly will be on the other side of the ball anchoring the whole ship, per usual. The linebacker led the Panthers with 125 tackles and was ranked by analytics site Pro Football Focus as the No. 1 linebacker against the run. Kuechly’s instincts at the position are unparalleled. He’s as important to the D as Newton is to the offense. Health willing (and the concussion concerns are frightening and legitimate), another year of elite play is coming.

Daniel Murphy could be close to return; Stephen Strasburg, Brandon Kintzler placed on DL

jets_102Washington Nationals second baseman Daniel Murphy, who hasn’t played this season after offseason surgery on his right knee, could be close to returning to the lineup.

He rejoined the team Sunday, taking batting practice and fielding grounders.

I don’t think it’s anything serious, Kintzler said Sunday. Probably just some rest and some strengthening. I don’t know what the timetable is, but I’m sure it would be no more than 10 days whatever we need.

The team recalled right-hander pitchers Trevor Gott and Wander Suero from Triple-A Syracuse.

Gott returns to the Nationals for his third stint of the season. He has appeared in 17 games out of Washington’s bullpen, going 0-2 with a 5.28 ERA.

Suero has appeared in 12 games for the Nationals, with a 4.15 ERA.

But Cespedes was removed from a Double-A rehab game Saturday night after he experienced tightness in his injured right quad, potentially delaying his return to the majors. The Cuban slugger will be re-evaluated Sunday, the Mets announced.

After the Mets’ 2-0 win over the Yankees on Sunday, Conforto is batting just .215 with seven home runs this season and is mired in a 3-for-32 slump in his past 10 games. Despite being just nine months removed from surgery to repair a torn capsule in his left shoulder, Conforto told the Post that he feels healthy, strong, fine.

Triple-A is not an answer, Conforto told the Post. I’ve been through that. I have done all I can do down there. I play at this level — that’s it.

But the Mets, who lost eight straight games before Sunday’s win and 15 of their last 19, are looking to jump-start their struggling offense and believe that Conforto might have rushed back too soon from his injury. The Mets initially targeted early May for Conforto’s return to the majors, but the former All-Star instead made his season debut on April 5.

Stephen Jones isn’t sure why Dez Bryant hasn’t signed

jets_100The market for Dez Bryant remains quiet almost seven weeks after the Dallas Cowboys released the receiver.

Cowboys executive vice president Stephen Jones said NFL teams have asked him and Dallas coaches about Bryant, and he’s not sure why the wideout remains unsigned.

4. Michael Phelps, Olympics: Swimming is a sport that the overwhelming majority of sports fans care about for exactly one week every four years. And yet Phelps was so good, so dominant, so clearly better than anyone else in the pool that his appeal somehow transcends the remarkable reality of his 23 gold medals (28 overall).

5. Serena Williams, women’s tennis: She wasn’t always likable, or easy to root for, but she has those 23 Grand Slams (39 with doubles), has been No. 1 eight different times, and often has seemed like she was playing an entirely different sport than her contemporaries.

6. LeBron James, basketball: I stand by everything I wrote last week. And forgot to add this: He’s got at least 3-4 more elite years to solidify his status.

If Marshall had not signed, the Giants could have been on the hook for an injury settlement.

Marshall announced his new home on Instagram with a post of himself in a 12th Man shirt. The Seahawks fans — considered the loudest in the NFL — go by the 12th Man moniker.

Marshall is No. 16 in NFL history with 959 receptions and No. 23 with 12,215 yards. He is a six-time Pro Bowler but has never made the playoffs during his 12-year career with the Broncos, Dolphins, Bears, Jets and Giants.

In his one season with the Giants, Marshall produced just 18 catches for 154 yards in five games before suffering a season-ending ankle injury. The Giants opted not to replace him with a Pro Bowl-validated third receiver, rather going with Cody Latimer, Russell Shepard and a cast of others with much to prove.

Ben Roethlisberger “kind of caught off guard” by Martavis Bryant trade

Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger‘s response to the team’s decision to draft Mason Rudolph in the third round drew attention on Tuesday, particularly when Roethlisberger said he plans to play 3-5 more years after musing about retirement not so long ago.

Between last year’s trade request and reports just before the draft of a possible trade, Roethlisberger may have been the only one caught off guard when the Steelers shipped Bryant to Oakland. Roethlisberger said he’s heard comparisons between Washington and JuJu Smith-Schuster, who made a strong impact as a rookie in 2017.

If those comparisons continue, the Steelers offense should be in fine shape.

“We had another team which is going to surprise you. Another team had said, ‘You may get a big surprise on draft day, at No. 2, if he’s available.’ And it was the Patriots,” Mills said. “They had 23 and they had 31 and they had two seconds. We thought, ‘That’s gonna be a heck of a move, to get up that high from where they are.’ And of course he wasn’t available so we never knew if that was reality or not.”

There was talk before the draft of the Patriots trading up for a quarterback, but trading all the way up to No. 2 would have been incredibly hard to pull off. Given that Giants General Manager Dave Gettleman scoffed at trading down from No. 2, he surely would have demanded even more than the Patriots’ two first-round picks and two second-round picks. Would Bill Belichick, who has traditionally preferred trading down over trading up, really have pulled the trigger on a trade like that?

Then there’s the question of how Brady would have reacted: He’s already refusing to say if he feels the Patriots appreciate him. How would he feel if the Patriots used a bounty of draft picks to take the next franchise quarterback, rather than using those picks on players who can help Brady win another Super Bowl this season?broncos_037_e0f31aee9c392ca7-180x180

Rutgers football team cleans up New Brunswick

Gina Haspel, nominee to head CIA, sought to withdraw over questions about her role in agency interrogation program

Gina Haspel, President Trump’s nominee to become the next CIA director, sought to withdraw her nomination Friday after some White House officials worried that her role in the interrogation of terrorist suspects could prevent her confirmation by the Senate, according to four senior U.S. officials.

Trump learned of the drama Friday, calling officials from his trip to Dallas. He decided to push for Haspel to remain as the nominee after initially signaling he would support whatever decision was taken, administration officials said.

That group is comprised of the most recent draft’s first five quarterbacks selected: Oklahoma’s Baker Bayfield (Cleveland Browns), USC’s Sam Darnold (New York Jets), Wyoming’s Josh Allen (Buffalo Bills), UCLA’s Josh Rosen (Arizona Cardinals) and Louisville’s Lamar Jackson (Baltimore Ravens). Kizer, who turned 22 years old in January, very well could have been one of the first selected from that group had he stayed in college another year.

Instead, the Toledo, Ohio, native left Notre Dame early and was selected by the Cleveland Browns in the second round of the 2017 draft. What ensued was largely a crash course on how to botch a rookie’s introduction to the professional game, with head coach Hue Jackson starting Kizer in 15 of 16 possible games but often keeping him on a short leash. Jackson twice gave Kizer the hook in games in which he was struggling (though he explained one was to avoid Kizer getting hit repeatedly in a lost game), and benched him entirely for Cleveland’s 33-17 Week 6 loss to Houston.

He was on the taxi squad for the 2006 U.S. Olympic team that placed eighth in Turin. He was named to the 2010 Olympic team, but broke his forearm early in the season. A doctor initially suggested it could heal on its own. After about eight weeks, Martin saw a specialist in New York.

Thoughts: The Lions loaded up on linebacker in free agency, but there’s still room to get better. Avery is an outstanding athlete who can cover a lot of ground in a hurry, including rush the passer. The Lions met with the productive Jewell during the pre-draft process, implying a level of interest. And Griffin, one of the draft’s great stories, is more than that. The one-handed linebacker can be a productive special-team and sub-package player.tigers_053-115x115