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Dublin: 17 °C Saturday 20 April, 2019

Dr. Dalton and Mr. Andy, ‘dying in silence’ at Boavista and all the week's best sportswriting

Plus, behind the scenes as the Jordan Brand goes big on Space Jam.

1. McGregor has been willing to step into that arena, again and again. That hasn’t been lost on the undisputed No.1 on that FS list, LeBron James. The three-time NBA champion has quoted McGregor as a source of motivation and after the Dubliner’s defeat to Nate Diaz last March, James rightly predicted rebounding from defeat would be a greater measure of the man’s brilliance than remaining undefeated ever would.

In his retirement as Irish rugby team manager last weekend, Michael Kearney revealed McGregor is the one athlete the Irish team want an audience with. Not so they can tweet about or take selfies but to learn more about his extraordinary mental and physical preparation.

UFC 205 Mixed Martial Arts Source: Julio Cortez

A few weeks ago Jamie Heaslip put it out there that McGregor might just be the greatest Irish sportsperson of his generation. FS for one disagree. They don’t even have him down as the best Irish fighter. Two spots ahead of McGregor on their list is Carl Frampton. But when the likes of the two James – LeBron and Heaslip – respect and view McGregor as a truly elite athlete with even more substance to go with the style, then maybe we all should.

Conor McGregor is right up there with the elite athletes, writes Kieran Shannon for the Irish Examiner

2. You cannot deny that tanking works, though. Examples are littered throughout the league. The Lakers have one of the most intriguing young cores in the league because of their very sly tank/Kobe farewell combo meal, plus the late-round wizardry that brought them Jordan Clarkson and Larry Nance Jr. The Celtics, for all their weird draft pick hoarding and inability to draw a superstar via free agency (no, Al Horford is not a superstar), refused to let nostalgia for 2008 prevent them from rebuilding. Never forget that the most consistent, enviable franchise in the league, the San Antonio Spurs, were built from the ashes of an epic one-season tank that allowed them to draft Tim Duncan.

Spurs After Duncan Basketball Source: AP/Press Association Images

From a fan’s perspective, tanking can be traumatic. When you root for a bad team, the only thing that can get you to the arena is when your racist owner starts giving away tickets. Think of the post-tank glory, though. The city of Los Angeles loves the baby Lakers more than, well, their own babies. The Sixers are still pretty awful, but even the glimmer of hope that is Joel Embiid has encouraged full-throated “Trust the Process” chants at Philly home games. Would you rather be the Atlanta Hawks — a decent team with a clear ceiling for success — or the Minnesota Timberwolves that built through the draft and now has a player in Karl-Anthony Towns who may be the best big man of his generation (and the last one)?

Tanking, The Guardian’s Dave Schilling says, is an American concept that is high effective at rebuilding failing franchises. 

3. He was only 27-years-old but Keith Treacy was ready to walk away from football. And not for the first time.

A career which saw him achieve those twin aims of playing in the English Premier League and playing for his country at senior level, including an appearance against Lionel Messi’s Argentina, had ground to a halt.

Soccer - Sky Bet Championship - Ipswich Town v Burnley - Portman Road Source: Stephen Pond

Last summer, half-way through the season with St Patrick’s Athletic, personal problems infected their way into his playing career and Treacy told the club that he wasn’t in a position to play any more.

“I thought about packing it in, not for the first time,” Treacy says. “There was a personal issue, a family matter that I don’t want to go into here, I wanted to walk away.”

The Herald’s Aidan Fitzmaurice speaks to Keith Treacy, who made his Premier League in Old Trafford in front of 75,000, on his career and long battle with depression.  

4. Uchebo says his problems began when, last November, Boavista told him to stop reporting for training and advised he should find a new club in January. The team had begun their Primeira Liga season disastrously; Uchebo, 6ft 4in, had not scored and on the surface it may seem reasonable that a club afflicted with long-term financial difficulties would wish to consider the best use of resources. Uchebo says he was not paid in December or January and then, when two offers from other clubs materialised before the transfer deadline, was told Boavista had changed their minds.

Soccer - FIFA World Cup 2014 - Group F - Nigeria v Argentina - Estadio Beira-Rio Source: Adam Davy

“I told them: ‘You’ve stopped me training for two months, you’re not paying my salary and, now I have an option, I want to go; I don’t ask for the money, I just want to continue my career,’” he said. No agreement was reached but Uchebo’s lot temporarily improved. He won brief favour from Erwin Sánchez, the new coach, and made seven appearances – all bar one from the bench – earlier this year. He also received a salary payment in March.

Nick Ames of The Guardian on the curious case of Michael Uchebo – the Nigeria striker ‘dying in silence’ at Boavista.

5. Andy Dalton is a good quarterback. The only exception is when he’s a bad quarterback. He does certain things exceptionally well, like find A.J. Green 40 yards down field, and other things mind-bogglingly poorly, like overthrowing Brandon LaFell when he’s 9 yards away.

Eagles Bengals Football Source: Gail Burton

Is Dalton a top-five playmaker capable of leading his team to near-annual playoff berths? Is he a limited, inconsistent thrower? The answer is yes … and yes. While Dalton has always been different things to different people, and different things in different moments, the contradiction is on full display late into this lost season, with his favorite targets out injured and his team out of playoff contention. “Aloha” means both “hello” and “good-bye,” and Dalton means both good and bad.

The Ringer’s Kevin Clark with an excellent piece on Andy Dalton – also known as Dr. Dalton and Mr. Andy.

6. For Jordan Brand, the 20th anniversary of Space Jam’s 1996 release and the guaranteed popularity and visibility of the Space Jam 11 created a massive opportunity. The company’s response? An integrated global marketing campaign that sought to leverage the Space Jammystique in pursuit of at least four key goals: reaching younger consumers; tapping the original film for retro sneakers and apparel designs; cross-promoting its latest flagship sneaker, the Jordan 31; and giving a high-profile stage to two key endorsers, Blake Griffin and Jimmy Butler.

Bulls Clippers Basketball Source: Jae C. Hong

The following is an inside look at Jordan Brand’s big bet on Space Jam, complete with one-on-one interviews of Griffin and Butler, big-picture thoughts from the campaign’s key creative architects, and behind-the-scenes looks from Griffin’s commercial shoot in downtown L.A. and an exclusive November screening of Space Jam at Warner Bros. Studios in Burbank, Calif.

The Jordan Brand is going all-out for the 20th anniversary of Space Jam. SI’s Ben Golliver takes a behind-the-scenes look at Jordan’s big bet.

7. By 38, most N.F.L. cornerbacks have retired or, in far fewer cases, switched to the less physically demanding position of safety, no longer as capable of chasing bigger, stronger and faster receivers around the field. Newman is the oldest cornerback in the league by nearly five years, and by at least some measures, he is also one of the best. According to the analytics website Pro Football Focus, which rates him sixth over all, he has allowed the fewest yards (0.64) per coverage snap.

On Football Halfway Awards Source: Weston Kenney

As Newman acknowledged, his freedom to do what he wants when he wants has prolonged his career. It has enabled him to obey what he called an intuitive understanding of his body, nurturing it with as much sleep, exercise and sustenance as he feels it needs.

New York Times writer Ben Shpigel meets Vikings cornerback Terence Newman, who tries to outsmart opponents to stay on top of his game.

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Kevin O'Brien

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