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(NEW YORK) -- Here are the scores from Thursday's sports events:

NATIONAL BASKETBALL ASSOCIATION
New Orleans 102, New York 91
Final Phoenix 109, Dallas 101
Indiana 121, Golden State 117 (OT)

NATIONAL HOCKEY LEAGUE
Columbus 2 Philadelphia 1
Boston 4, Washington 3
Dallas 5, Buffalo 4
Pittsburgh 6, Ottawa 4
Nashville 5, Winnipeg 2
Florida 6, Edmonton 0
Colorado 4, Los Angeles 1
Seattle 3, San Jose 2
Vegas 4 Montreal 3 (OT)

TOP-25 COLLEGE BASKETBALL
Gonzaga 78, San Francisco 62
Arizona 85, Stanford 57
Indiana 68, Purdue 65
Southern Cal 61, Colorado 58
Providence 83, Georgetown 75
UConn 75, Butler 56
UCLA 63, Utah 58
Gonzaga at Pacific (Postponed)

Copyright © 2022, ABC Audio. All rights reserved.



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(NEW YORK) -- As Shaun White gears up to go for his fourth and final gold in Beijing, the Olympic halfpipe snowboarder said his training has become "more calculated" and that he's got "some new moves" to debut in February.

"I'm so honored to make the team; it is just incredible and I get to be an Olympian again. Get to run out of the tunnel with Team USA, it's just so exciting," White told Good Morning America on Thursday. "To be atop a sport like this for this long, I feel so honored to be doing that. And it's so wild because when I look around, everybody in the area are all people I used to compete with, you know, they're coaches now."

Ahead of the February opening ceremonies, White recently announced this will be his final Olympics, which he confirmed on GMA, saying, "I've got this last dance sort of glow to it."

"You know, you look for those little signs and I was having a little knee injury here, a little ankle injury there, just these little things. And I remember my back hurting one day and my buddies were like, 'what happened? And I was like, 'Nothing, it just hurts," he laughed.

The winter Games will look different for all the athletes this year as the International Olympic Committee takes precautions to safely allow competition, without fans.

"I'll never forget winning and sliding down and seeing my whole family and they're just crying and tears of joy -- the whole crowd and that feeling you get, so it's going to be different. But honestly, I salute them for putting this on in such a challenging time," White said. "We've been trying to keep in our little bubble, so select friends and family, a physical therapist I have with me ... Everybody's testing and doing the best they can and I think that's all you can really do."

Since notching his first Olympic gold in 2006 when he was 19, White said he prepares at a different pace now.

"I had longer hair back then, so it's a little easier routine these days," he joked. "I think every single time I go to the Olympics, it's just a different process."

"I always think, 'What got me to this point in my career won't necessarily take me the rest of the way.' So not only have I been focusing a lot on my physical health, but just like the mental health of it all," White, 35, said. "Staying positive and staying motivated."

The training has become "more calculated practice sessions," and he explained that "it's more like a power window than I used to be up there all day long -- I don't have that much energy as I used to. I'm not an old guy by any means -- but at the last competition, one of my competitors was like 15, I was like, 'Oh my goodness.' So I'm definitely like pacing it out a bit more and take a lot more time to recover."

At his last appearance in PyeongChang, White stunned fans and judges with back-to-back 1440s and ended the run with a frontside double cork 1260 to grab gold.

"There's talk of triple corks now, these triple flips that are happening. A lot of the Japanese riders have been attempting those. There's talks of doing a 16, which is 180 [degrees] past the 1440. But it's gonna be incredible. I don't want to give anything away, but working on some new moves and I'm hoping that everything really peaks once I get to the competition."

Outside of the Olympics, White started a snowboarding and activewear company with his brother called Whitespace.

"It's so much fun. You know, all my experience over the course of my career -- I get to put that into a new product and a new brand and all my focus and attention and it's been such a rewarding thing to work on with family," he said. "I was 7 when I first got a snowboard from Jake Burton, who unfortunately passed away recently, but, you know, he gave me that start and I keep thinking -- 'Wow, if I could be that for the next generation,' some young boy or girl or whoever is starting up and has that spark and excitement for the sport and I could be there to support it with my wisdom and experiences."

Copyright © 2022, ABC Audio. All rights reserved.



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(NEW YORK) -- Here are the scores from Wednesday's sports events:

NATIONAL BASKETBALL ASSOCIATION
Philadelphia 123, Orlando 110
Brooklyn 119, Washington 118
Charlotte 111, Boston 102
Atlanta 134, Minnesota 122
Chicago 117, Cleveland 104
Milwaukee 126, Memphis 114
San Antonio 118, Oklahoma City 96
Final Dallas 102 Toronto 98
Houston 116, Utah 111
Detroit 133, Sacramento 131
Denver 130, LA Clippers 128 (OT)
Indiana 111, LA Lakers 104
Miami 104, Portland 92

NATIONAL HOCKEY LEAGUE
Arizona 4, New Jersey 1
NY Rangers 6, Toronto 3
Colorado 2, Anaheim 0

TOP-25 COLLEGE BASKETBALL
Auburn 83, Georgia 60
Marquette 57, Villanova 54
Kentucky 64, Texas A&M 58
Alabama 70, LSU 67
Xavier 68, DePaul 67

Copyright © 2022, ABC Audio. All rights reserved.



Michael Allio/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

(TUSCALOOSA, Ala.) -- University of Alabama head football coach Nick Saban and NBA icon Jerry West joined three fellow sports personalities native to West Virginia to pen a letter to Sen. Joe Manchin, D-W.Va., urging him to help push voting rights legislation in the Senate without asking him to allow a rule change that would be necessary to ensure the bill's passage.

On Tuesday evening, Manchin pointed out on C-SPAN that the version of the letter made public this week was missing a key footnote in which Saban indicates his objection to eliminating the filibuster while the other signatories take no position on it.

"Coach Saban is not in favor of getting rid of the filibuster in the Senate. He believes this will destroy the checks and balances we must have in our Democracy. The others signing this letter take no position on this aspect of Senate policies," the version shared by Manchin reads.

Manchin, like Saban, has also said he supports Democrats' voting rights legislation but has long stated his opposition to changing the Senate filibuster rule.

Saban, one of the best-known coaches in American sports, originally hails from West Virginia and maintains a friendship with the West Virginia senator dating back to the 1950s. West, former NFL players Oliver Luck and Darryl Talley, and former NFL Commissioner Paul Tagliabue also signed the letter.

Their letter focuses on equal election access for all Americans and the importance of transparency and impartiality in elections administration. A House-passed voting rights bill that combines both the Freedom to Vote Act and John Lewis Voting Rights Advancement Act addresses these issues with provisions that boost vote by mail and aim to prevent new laws restricting voting rights from being enacted in the future.

"We strongly support urgently needed legislation that will protect both the rights of voters and the integrity of outcomes in all Federal elections," the letter, dated Jan. 13, reads.

The letter comes amid an ongoing, high-stakes voting rights battle in the Senate, with the measure looking destined to be blocked by a Republican filibuster since Democrats do not have the support of their entire slim majority to pass a rules change. With Manchin and fellow Democrat Kyrsten Sinema, D-Ariz., reaffirming their opposition to altering the filibuster rule, Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer's attempt to create a carveout for voting rights is poised to fail when it is voted on Wednesday evening.

Manchin told reporters Wednesday morning he would be speaking on the Senate floor later in the day to outline where he stands. But he has been adamant in his resistance even calls to get rid of the filibuster to protect voting rights have grown louder.

The latest push for federal voting rights legislation comes after 19 states passed laws restricting voting rights in 2021 following the 2020 election, according to the nonpartisan Brennan Center for Justice.

Copyright © 2022, ABC Audio. All rights reserved.



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(BOSTON) -- The Boston Bruins retired the jersey of Willie O’Ree, the first Black NHL player, on Tuesday night -- 64 years to the day of his professional hockey debut.

Inducted into the Hockey Hall of Fame in 2018 and currently in line to be the first hockey player to receive a Congressional Gold Medal, the ceremony, which was held at TD Garden, marked another historic moment for O'Ree's ever-growing, decades-long legacy.

An avid ice hockey player from the age of 5, O’Ree knew he’d wanted to play professional hockey since he was 14 years old.

"I made two goals for myself: to play professional hockey and hopefully one day to play in the National Hockey League," he said in an interview for ABC News Live on Monday.

He would go on to achieve both.

The Canada native committed himself to the sport, leaving home at 17 years old to play in a junior league.

O'Ree continued to improve his game, but at 20 years old, his dreams of joining the NHL were jeopardized when a puck struck him in the face while playing for the Kitchener Canucks, a junior ice hockey team. The impact shattered his retina, causing him to lose vision in his right eye. He was told that the injury would stop him from playing ever again.

Despite the prognosis, O'Ree said he was determined to continue practicing, so he adapted. As a left-wing player, he would have to turn his head completely to the right to see the puck.

"Forget about what you can't see, and concentrate on what you can see," he said he told himself at the time.

Just two years later, he made history when he became the first Black NHL player ever in 1958 at 22 years old. He never told the team about his loss of vision. It would have made him ineligible to play if the league knew.

O’Ree didn't know the impact he was making at the time, he said.

"I didn’t realize I broke the color barrier until I read it in the paper the next morning," he said, adding, "I was just so excited that I got the opportunity to play in the National Hockey League and with the Boston Bruins."

If they can’t accept you for the individual that you are, then that’s their problem
But his time with the Bruins was not without adversity.

Although his Bruins teammates accepted him, as the first and only Black player in the league during the 1950s and 1960s, O'Ree said he was met with racism from fans and opposing players. He said he didn't allow the bigotry to deter him.

"I knew if I fought every time somebody called me a name that I'd be in the penalty box all the time," O'Ree said. "So it was hard. It was hard at the beginning. But later on, I did gain the respect of not only the fans in the stands, but the players on the opposition."

O’Ree credits his older brother Richard with helping him develop the confidence he needed to succeed in a league that was not welcoming to people like him.

"He knew the type of individual I was, and you know, the racism and prejudice and bigotry," O'Ree said to media after the ceremony. "He knew I could handle that, and he just said, 'Forget about what other people think about you. If they can’t accept you for the individual that you are, then that’s their problem.'"

He was traded to the Montreal Canadiens in 1961, the same team he played against in his NHL debut, and then continued on to play in minor leagues before retiring in 1979.

Over half a century later, Black hockey players still face prejudice from spectators, teammates, and coaches.

O’Ree, now 86, has worked as the NHL’s director of youth development and an ambassador for NHL Diversity for 24 years.

His lifelong dedication to dismantling barriers for athletes of color continues to play a large role in the NHL’s efforts to address the lack of diversity in the league.

The NHL has an initiative called Hockey is For Everyone, which is focused on creating a more inclusive environment for players and fans of all backgrounds through programming that includes the Willie O’Ree Skills Weekend.

"Watching these boys and girls experience everything hockey has to offer is incredible," he said. "More than 130,000 boys and girls have gone through the programs so far. I look forward to supporting the next generation of young hockey players."

His passion for ice hockey, helping young athletes set goals and providing a space for opportunity and success have influenced the sport and many who love it over the years.

"There are more Black girls and Black boys and players of color playing hockey today than ever before," O'Ree said. "So we're going, we're going in the right direction."

Copyright © 2022, ABC Audio. All rights reserved.



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(NEW YORK) -- Here are the scores from Tuesday's sports events:

NATIONAL BASKETBALL ASSOCIATION
Minnesota 112, New York 110
Golden State 102, Detroit 86

NATIONAL HOCKEY LEAGUE
Buffalo 3, Ottawa 1
Washington 4, Winnipeg 3 (OT)
Carolina 7, Boston 1
NY Islanders 4 Philadelphia 3 (SO)
Vancouver 3, Nashville 1
Final Montreal 5, Dallas 3
Calgary 5, Florida 1
Tampa Bay 6, Los Angeles 4
Columbus at NY Islanders 7
Detroit at Philadelphia (Postponed)
Chicago at Edmonton (Postponed)

TOP-25 COLLEGE BASKETBALL
Baylor 77, West Virginia 68
Florida St. 79, Duke 78
Kansas 67, Oklahoma 64
Wisconsin 82, Northwestern 76
Houston 74, South Florida 55
Texas Tech 72, Iowa St. 60
Ohio St. 83, IUPUI 37
Loyola Chicago 77, Evansville 48
Kansas St. 66, Texas 65
Tennessee 68, Vanderbilt 60
UConn 76, Butler 59
Providence at Seton Hall (Postponed)

Copyright © 2022, ABC Audio. All rights reserved.



Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images

(NEW YORK) -- As the fight for voting rights stalls in Congress, the NBA Social Justice Coalition continues its call for lawmakers to act urgently to protect the right to vote.

The NBA Social Justice Coalition was formed in 2020, after the death of George Floyd and the shooting of Jacob Blake. The group, which includes players, owners and staffers, has advocated for policy changes regarding voting rights, criminal justice, policing and justice reform, by reaching out to lawmakers in targeted efforts in Congress and state and local legislatures.

Over the past two years, the group has been active across the country and in Washington, D.C.

Voting rights were at the forefront for the NBA Social Justice Coalition in 2020. The NBA opened up 23 league facilities to help increase voting participation by using them as polling locations and voter registration locations.

In 2021, NBA all-star forward Karl Anthony Towns, from the Minnesota Timberwolves, Steve Ballmer, the owner of the Los Angeles Clippers, and Caron Butler, an assistant coach of the Miami Heat, held a virtual roundtable with Sen. Tim Scott, R-S.C. and Rep. Karen Bass, D-Calif., on the topic of policing reform.

Last year, the group publicly endorsed the George Floyd Justice in Policing Act, and pushed for the passage of the EQUAL Act, a bill that seeks to eliminate the federal differences in sentencing between crack and powder cocaine.

Privately, the group has also held several bipartisan meetings with lawmakers.

Philadelphia 76ers coach Doc Rivers told ABC News, fighting for equal rights "has been part of my life throughout my life."

Born and raised in Chicago, Rivers, 60, grew up going to Operation Breadbasket, a 1960s era program that fought for jobs and services on behalf of the Black community.

Rivers was only three years old when the Voting Rights Act was signed into law in 1965 and stressed that Americans should not normalize the fight for voting rights.

"You should be able to vote and you should be fighting for everyone to be able to do it. And the more people you can get engaged in the fight to vote, which shouldn't be a fight anymore," he said.

The coach added, "We can't normalize it that for a long period of our history, and not just Black Americans, women, minorities, were kept out of the right the vote, which is literally the single most important thing about democracy being able to vote, and it's been attacked throughout my lifetime."

In August, the John Lewis Voting Rights Advancement Act passed in the House of Representatives. However, in the months since, the bill has stalled due to partisan gridlock.

Rivers told ABC News, "this shouldn't be controversial ... This has nothing to do with color. This has to do with equal rights."

"It's been made hard for targeted groups throughout my lifetime to vote, and I don't care if you're Democrat or Republican, the one thing that everybody should be fighting for is not making it harder to vote, but making it easier for everyone to vote," Rivers said

When asked what he would say to lawmakers today on the issue of voting rights, he said he'd simply ask them to protect his right to vote.

"Can you protect my right to vote? Don't make it harder for me, or certain groups make it easier for all groups. Protect our rights, and we love using the Constitution. That is constitutional," he said.

Copyright © 2022, ABC Audio. All rights reserved.



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(NEW YORK) -- Here are the scores from Monday's sports events:

NATIONAL BASKETBALL ASSOCIATION
Boston 104, New Orleans 92
Charlotte 97, New York 87
Washington 117, Philadelphia 98
Cleveland 114, Brooklyn 107
Memphis 119, Chicago 106
LA Clippers 139, Indiana 133
Atlanta 121, Milwaukee 114
Portland 98, Orlando 88Miami 104, Toronto 99
Phoenix 121, San Antonio 107
Dallas 104, Oklahoma City 102
LA Lakers 101, Utah 95

NATIONAL HOCKEY LEAGUE
Detroit 3, Buffalo 2 (OT)
Colorado 4, Minnesota 3 (SO)
Arizona 5, Montreal 2
San Jose 6, Los Angeles 2
Seattle 3, Chicago 2 (SO)
NY Islanders 4, Philadelphia 1
St. Louis 5, Nashville 3
Pittsburgh 5, Vegas 3
New Jersey at Toronto (Postponed)

NATIONAL FOOTBALL LEAGUE PLAYOFFS
LA Rams 34, Arizona 11

TOP-25 COLLEGE BASKETBALL
Purdue 96, Illinois 88

Copyright © 2022, ABC Audio. All rights reserved.



iStock/Pornpak Khunatorn

(PARIS) -- Serbian tennis star Novak Djokovic could be barred from competing in the French Open following the French Parliament’s adoption of a vaccine pass on Sunday.

Professional athletes, regardless of nationality, will now have to show their credentials and present a vaccine pass to access sports venues, France’s Minister of Sports Roxana Maracineanu told reporters on Monday.

Maracineanu had told French radio station France Info differently earlier this month, saying that athletes like Djokovic could benefit from exemptions "because the protocol, the health bubble of these major sporting events will allow it."

However, she said on Monday that the recent law to curb the spread of the new coronavirus passed by the French Parliament had changed the situation.

French lawmakers passed a controversial piece of legislation on Sunday that will require people 16 years and older to have a vaccine certificate to enter public places such as restaurants, cafés, bars and cinemas. The regulation will apply to sports venues as well, Maracineanu announced, saying she hoped for the French sports sector to become an "ambassador(s) of these measures on the international level."

Djokovic, who is unvaccinated, spent nearly a week in visa limbo in Australia, which has strict COVID-19 and vaccine rules for those entering the country. After a brief legal challenge, a judge ruled Djokovic had to leave the country.

The new vaccine pass regulation, which has not yet been promulgated, should come into force in the coming days.

Under these new regulations, athletes without a valid vaccine pass would not be allowed to compete French Open, which will be held in May in Paris.

A prior COVID-19 infection could make someone eligible for a vaccine pass, but only under strict conditions that need to be specified in a decree that will accompany the law, a spokesperson at the French Sports Ministry told ABC News.

The details of the decree should be announced at the end of the week and will reveal how long after a positive test that one's infection can act as a vaccine pass under the new regulation.

 

Copyright © 2022, ABC Audio. All rights reserved.



Lintao Zhang/Getty Images

(BEIJING) -- No public tickets will be sold to next month's Beijing Olympics due to COVID-19, the Beijing 2022 Organizing Committee said.

Instead, groups of spectators will be invited to the games, and "the organizers expect that these spectators will strictly abide by the COVID-19 countermeasures before, during and after each event," the Beijing 2022 Organizing Committee said.

The organizing committee said this change is due to the "grave and complicated situation of the COVID-19 pandemic and to ensure the safety of all participants and spectators."

The Opening ceremony is set for Friday, Feb. 4.

China is tightening travel restrictions for its capital ahead of the Olympics, requiring all travelers to Beijing to take a nucleic acid test within 72 hours of entry.

The testing rule, which will begin on Jan. 22, was announced after Beijing recorded its first omicron case this weekend in a suburb near many Olympic venues. Health authorities have sealed off the patient's residential compound and workplace.

ABC News' Morgan Winsor contributed to this report.

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(MELBOURNE) -- Novak Djokovic left Australia on Sunday after three federal judges upheld the decision to revoke his visa for the second time.

"I can confirm that Mr. Djokovic has now departed Australia," Alex Hawke, immigration minister, said in a statement.

Djokovic, escorted by border force guards, boarded Emirates flight EK409 to Dubai, immigration officials said. The 13-hour flight departed Melbourne at 10:39 p.m. local time.

After more than a week in limbo, the Serbian tennis star had been waiting for the court's final say on whether he would be allowed to stay to launch his title-defending bid at the Australian Open on Monday. The judges' unanimous decision arrived Sunday.

"I am extremely disappointed with the Court ruling to dismiss my application for judicial review of the Minister's decision to cancel my visa, which means I cannot stay in Australia and participate in the Australian Open," Djokovic said in a statement. "I respect the Court's ruling and I will cooperate with the relevant authorities in relation to my departure from the country."

"I welcome the decision to keep our borders strong and keep Australians safe," Prime Minister Scott Morrison said in a statement on Sunday. "As I said on Friday, Australians have made many sacrifices during this pandemic, and they rightly expect the result of those sacrifices to be protected."

His family put out a statement Sunday expressing their support for Djokovic and their disagreement with the judges' ruling.

"We are very disappointed with the decision of the Federal Court and the fact that Novak has to leave Australia. This was not just about sports and playing in the first Grand Slam of the season in which Novak has dominated for a decade, but also politics and all the interests that prevailed in this case," Djokovic's family said in a statement to ABC News. "Despite the scandalous behavior towards Novak, we believed that the sport would win. We believed that the fact confirmed by the court would be respected - that Novak has a valid visa, that justice will be served ... We believe that he will come out of this situation stronger, and that time will show what he has indisputably always confirmed so far, and that is that he is a great champion and a man."

Hawke, who canceled the visa, also said he welcomed the decision.

"Australia's strong border protection policies have kept us safe during the pandemic, resulting in one of the lowest death rates, strongest economic recoveries, and highest vaccination rates in the world," he said in a statement.

Djokovic had been scheduled to play on Monday, with his first-round match against fellow Serb Miomir Kecmanovic for the evening session. His position in the draw had been filled, The Australian Open said on Twitter.

Djokovic had appealed to reinstate his visa after it was canceled on Friday.

Both sides made their submissions and replies during Sunday's hearing. The debate focused on Djokovic's views on vaccination and whether those views constituted a public health threat.

The Djokovic legal team argued that Hawke misinterpreted media reports about the tennis star's stance on vaccination. Djokovic's lawyer Nick Wood said there's a lack of evidence to support the claim that Djokovic's presence in Australia could stoke anti-vaccination sentiment.

"Not a single line of evidence in the material before the minister provided any ... foundation whatsoever for the proposition of the mere presence of Mr. Djokovic in Australia ... may somehow, to use the minister's expression, foster anti-vaccination sentiment," said Wood.

The immigration minister's lawyer, Stephen Lloyd, said there is clear evidence of Djokovic's views on vaccination and that by staying in Australia it will encourage opposition to inoculation. Lloyd said Djokovic has become "an icon for anti-vaccination groups."

"That he's still unvaccinated reflects a choice on his part or remain unvaccinated when he could be vaccinated," Lloyd said.

Copyright © 2022, ABC Audio. All rights reserved.



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(NEW YORK) -- Here are the scores from Thursday's sports events:

NATIONAL BASKETBALL ASSOCIATION
Milwaukee 118, Golden State 99
New Orleans 113 L.A. Clippers 89
Final Memphis 116 Minnesota 108
Final Oklahoma City 130 Brooklyn 109
Final Denver 140 Portland 108

NATIONAL HOCKEY LEAGUE
Columbus 6, Carolina 0
Tampa Bay 4, Vancouver 2
Boston 3, Philadelphia 2
Winnipeg 3, Detroit 0
NY Islanders 3, New Jersey 2
St. Louis 2, Seattle 1
Buffalo 4, Nashville 1
Chicago 3 Montreal 2 (OT)
Ottawa 4, Calgary 1
NY Rangers 3 San Jose 0
Los Angeles 6, Pittsburgh 2

TOP-25 COLLEGE BASKETBALL
Oregon 84, UCLA 81
Wisconsin 78, Ohio St. 68
Texas Tech 78, Oklahoma St. 57
DePaul 96, Seton Hall 92
Gonzaga 110, BYU 84
Southern Cal 81, Oregon St. 71
Arizona 76, Colorado 55

Copyright © 2022, ABC Audio. All rights reserved.



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(NEW YORK) -- Here are the scores from Wednesday's sports events:

NATIONAL BASKETBALL ASSOCIATION
Washington 112, Orlando 106
Boston 119, Indiana 100
Charlotte 109, Philadelphia 98
Miami 115, Atlanta 91
New York 108, Dallas 85
Houston 128, San Antonio 124
Cleveland 111, Utah 91
Sacramento 125, LA Lakers 116
Brooklyn 138, Chicago 112

NATIONAL HOCKEY LEAGUE
Boston 5, Montreal 1
Dallas 5, Seattle 2
Arizona 2, Toronto 1
Minnesota at Edmonton (Postponed)

TOP-25 COLLEGE BASKETBALL
Duke 76, Wake Forest 64
Michigan St. 71, Minnesota 69
LSU 64, Florida 58
Villanova 64, Xavier 60

Copyright © 2022, ABC Audio. All rights reserved.



Elsa/Getty Images

(NEW YORK) -- Eddie Jackson may have hung up the helmet and cleats to pursue his passion in the culinary arts, but that hasn't stopped him from predicting who'll be in this year's Super Bowl.

The former NFL cornerback, who played for both the Dolphins and Patriots in the mid aughts, told ABC Audio he's having a "tough" time narrowing down who'll definitely be squaring off in California's SoFi Stadium on February 13 -- but, he does have an idea.

"My team is the 49ers. They're in the playoffs, so I would like to see the 49ers make it through the playoffs," said Jackson, adding that he also sees the possibility of a "Green Bay situation."  His dream Super Bowl matchup, he says, is the 49ers versus the Patriots.  Despite that, Jackson knows things can change in an instant because "the games are crazy" this season.

Jackson knows the uncertainty is making some fans anxious and leaning on superstitions to feel they have some effect on the game.  But, if you think what you drink, eat or how you stand in the room will somehow help your team win, the former NFL star laughed, "No, fans don't have any power whatsoever."

The BBQ Brawl star does admit he used to be superstitious back in the day, adding he would "have my uniform set up in my locker a certain way and I would do it backwards. Normally, your jersey is up top and your pants are on bottom... Didn't say it worked, but you know!"

Jackson adds superstitions make "the game much more interesting if you're watching it." It also makes things more interesting for the players because, "You want the fans to be involved. That's what it's all about.  At the end of the day, we play the game for the fans."

Copyright © 2022, ABC Audio. All rights reserved.



Catherine McQueen/Getty Images

(NEW YORK) -- A naturopathic therapist who operates out of El Paso, Texas, has been charged with distributing multiple performance-enhancing drugs to at least two athletes for the purpose of cheating at the 2020 Summer Games in Tokyo, federal prosecutors in New York said.

The charges against Eric Lira are the first brought under the Rodchenkov Anti-Doping Act, a measure signed into law in December 2020 that outlaws doping schemes at international sports competitions, including the Olympics.

Lira, 41, allegedly obtained misbranded human growth hormone and the blood building drug erythropoietin in advance of the Tokyo Games from sources in Central and South America. According to the criminal complaint, he distributed them to two athletes who were identified only as “Athlete-1” and “Athlete-2.”

“At a moment that the Olympic Games offered a poignant reminder of international connections in the midst of a global pandemic that had separated communities and countries for over a year, and at a moment that the Games offered thousands of athletes validation after years of training, Eric Lira schemed to debase that moment by peddling illegal drugs,” U.S. Attorney Damian Williams said.

The complaint quoted from encrypted communications in which Lira and Athlete-1 allegedly discussed the drugs.

On June 13 “Athlete-1 wrote to LIRA, ‘So I took 2000ui of the E [erythropoietin] yesterday, is it safe to take a test this morning?’ LIRA replied, ‘Good day [Athlete-1] . . . . 2000 ui is a low dosage.’ Athlete-1 replied further, ‘Remember I took it Wednesday and then yesterday again / I wasn’t sure so I didn’t take a test / I just let them go so it will be a missed test,’” the complaint said.

Athlete-1 was suspended from Olympic competition on July 30, 2021, after she was found to have used human growth hormone, according to the U.S. Attorney's Office. She was banned from the 100m semi-finals, a description that matches Nigerian sprinter Blessing Okagbare.

Lira is also accused of conspiring with others to violate drug misbranding and adulteration laws, the U.S. Attorney's Office said.

He made his initial appearance via Zoom before Judge Miguel Torres in Texas on Wednesday, the day he was arrested.

Lira said he has not yet hired an attorney but plans to. The judge appointed a public defender to at least handle his next court date Tuesday.

He remains detained.

Copyright © 2022, ABC Audio. All rights reserved.



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