ABC - Sports News

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

NATIONAL BASKETBALL ASSOCIATION
Philadelphia 115, New York 106
Indiana 106, Portland 100
Oklahoma City 112, Sacramento 108
L.A. Lakers 116, Golden State 86

NATIONAL HOCKEY LEAGUE
Toronto 5, Florida 3
NY Rangers 5, Montreal 2
Chicago 5, Tampa Bay 2
Minnesota 7, Detroit 1
Ottawa 5, Vancouver 2
Boston 4, Dallas 3
Winnipeg 3, Washington 0
St. Louis 3, NY Islanders 2 (OT)
Nashville 4, Calgary 3 (OT)
New Jersey 3, San Jose 2 (OT)

TOP-25 COLLEGE BASKETBALL
Gonzaga 94, San Diego 59
Wisconsin 81, Michigan 74
California 76, Colorado 62
Ohio St. 75 Nebraska 54
Oregon 69, Oregon St. 54

Copyright © 2020, ABC Audio. All rights reserved.



Billie Weiss/Boston Red Sox/Getty Images(BOSTON) -- Red Sox ace Chris Sale will miss the start of the season as he recovers from the flu and pneumonia, according to interim manager Ron Roenicke.

"With the sickness it cost him two weeks’ time and that two weeks is what we'd like to give him to make sure he's right," said Roenicke at spring training. "He's worked hard on getting his arm right and we didn't think four starts in spring training was fair to him.

Sale will begin the season on the 15-day injured list.

Last season, he missed the final six weeks of the season with a left elbow injury, but the two are unrelated.

"I think they just want me to get fully stretched out and get where I need to be," Sale told the media at spring training. "I started two weeks late, so I got to stay two weeks late. Simple math will tell you that kind of makes sense. Do I like it? Absolutely not. Do I respect it? 100%."

Sale finished 6-11 with a 4.40 ERA last season.

Boston ended the year third in the American League East with a 84-78 record.

Copyright © 2020, ABC Audio. All rights reserved.



ABC News(NEW YORK) -- David Beckham had an amazing career as a global soccer superstar and now he’s taking on another role, as team owner for the newest Major League Soccer franchise: Inter Miami.

The 44-year-old soccer player sat down with ABC News correspondent Amy Robach for Good Morning America to talk about his new role, which he said was seven years in the making.

"It's been such a long journey," Beckham said. "But one that I always -- knew that was worth -- worth the wait."

Beckham, who retired from professional football in May 2013, has embedded soccer into every aspect of his life for years personally and professionally.

In 2005, he founded the David Beckham Academy football school, which operates in London and Los Angeles, and in 2007, joined the LA Galaxy, a soccer club in Carson, California, which gave the league a huge boost.

Then, in 2014, he announced the launch of the MLS team based in Miami, Florida, but had a few bumps in the road to get it started.

Over the years, Beckham's impact on soccer in the U.S. has shaped the way the sport is perceived by many.

"It meant so much when David joined the league," MLS Commissioner, Don Garber, said. "He basically said to the world, 'This league is on the rise, and America could be a soccer nation.' Now, to have one of the great players in the world go from the field to the boardroom -- imagine how cool the board meetings will be. Ultimately, it's gonna be a great development for what our league is gonna be in the years to come. It's gonna be fantastic."

Earlier this week, Beckham made a surprise visit to see Inter Miami and gushed over how proud he was of the team as its owner.
 
"They look great. We're very excited about the squad that we've put together. You know, there's a lot of -- diversity in there with the players that we've brought in, and a lot of young players. Players with -- you know, a little bit of experience, but also that rawness of coming into a new franchise, coming into a new league," he explained. "As an owner, I couldn't be prouder of the players so far."

Family comes first for Beckham

But while Beckham is the new owner of the Florida team, the team that comes first in his life is the one he shares with his wife, Victoria, of nearly 21 years. The two, who have four kids together (Brooklyn, Romeo, Cruz and Harper), have proven over the years the strength of their relationship and balance each other out perfectly amidst all the business ventures and projects they each take part in.

Beckham, who took a moment to talk about his love for his family, revealed that the secret to success, is his and his wife's commitment to their family.

"Our kids are the most important things to us," said Beckham. "Yes, we have businesses, and multiple businesses that we are committed to. But our one thing is our commitment to our children. And that will always be the same."

Even though none of his kids have caught the soccer bug, the soccer star is most proud of how they've been able to pave their own way and find their own interests.

"Their passions have taken them in different directions. So the one thing that I'm hugely proud about with my kids is they all have their own passions for the things that they love," he said. "My oldest son, who's 21 in March, he's passionate about photography. My middle son, Romeo, you know, he's passionate about tennis. Cruz, he loves to sing, he loves to dance, he likes to write music."
 
As for his youngest, Harper, who may be the one with the soccer genes in the family, Beckham said, "Harper's Harper. Harper's the boss. She could be the one that goes into the game."

Beckham remembers the late Kobe Bryant

Beckham, who spent years playing in LA, reminisced about what he would do during his downtime, which mostly involved sitting courtside at the Staples Center and cheering on the late Kobe Bryant with the Los Angeles Lakers. Like so many, the news of Bryant’s death hit Beckham hard.

Beckham described, "I was very lucky to live in L.A. at a time where -- you know, the Lakers were winning everything. And I was lucky enough to sit courtside and just watch Kobe play, you know?"

He went on to say that the main thing that he loved about Kobe was that he was a family man first, too.

"The biggest thing that I admired about Kobe was not just his tenacious way of playing the game, but his love for his family, his love for his girls. And it's all he ever talked about. You know, he talked about Vanessa, he talked about, you know, his kids, and how passionate they were, and that for me, hit me the hardest," Beckham said.

Earlier this week, Beckham shared a photo of Kobe and his daughter, Gianna on Instagram and wrote, "Daddy's love."

With Inter Miami making its home debut against his former team, the LA Galaxy, next month, Beckham said that his family would be the main people he'll be looking for first on the sidelines, who will be cheering him on.

He's also hoping to inspire his new team and get rid of any intimidation that they may feel with him as their new owner.

"The one thing that I'd like to bring to this club is the experience that I've had from the great clubs that I've played over the years. So I hope they're inspired," he said.

And while Beckham isn't on the field as much anymore, he mentioned that he hasn't completely shut the door on a comeback.

"I'm 44 now. I think I'm a little bit past playing at the highest level. But who knows? You never know. Anything's possible," he said.

Copyright © 2020, ABC Audio. All rights reserved.



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

NATIONAL BASKETBALL ASSOCIATION
Cleveland 108, Philadelphia 94
Washington 110, Brooklyn 106
Charlotte 107, NY Knicks 101
Orlando 130, Atlanta 120
Minnesota 129, Miami 126
Houston 140, Memphis 112
Dallas 109, San Antonio 103
LA Clippers 102, Phoenix 92
Boston 114, Utah 103

NATIONAL HOCKEY LEAGUE

Colorado 3, Buffalo 2
Vegas 3, Edmonton 0
LA Kings 2, Pittsburgh 1

TOP 25 COLLEGE BASKETBALL

Villanova 71, St John's 60
Penn State 65, Rutgers 64
Maryland 74, Minnesota 73

Copyright © 2020, ABC Audio. All rights reserved.



Greg Fiume/Getty Images(NEW YORK) -- As a former Major League Baseball player, Bill Ripken has strong feelings about the changes in the league in recent years. In his new book, State of Play: The Old-School Guide to New School Baseball, the MLB Network analyst talks about his hesitancy to adopt some of the sport's newest statistics, and the way longtime baseball people see the game.

Ripken, who played 12 seasons in the major leagues, says some of the modern sabermetrics may bring "ideas to the table that provoke conversation with" those he calls "baseball people." Not all of those ideas, however, are new ones, Ripken explains.

"The fact that many in the new school have not been directly involved in the game is far more alarming to me," Ripken writes. "This group is becoming more and more responsible for spreading misleading information about how much the game has changed and how much of an impact their new school methods have had."

Speaking with ABC News, Ripken explains that statistical analysis has long been part of the game, even if some don't realize it.

"I think people have lost sight, or maybe never knew in the first place, that old-school baseball guys have always used numbers," he says, "have always used information, have always been analytic in their cause to go out there and put a better product on the field."

In the book, Ripken goes in-depth on more than two dozen topics that represent shifts in the sport. From an emphasis on launch angle and pitch framing, to what he sees as the waning attention to counting statistics like runs batted in and errors, he makes a pitch for something of a traditionalist approach to the game.

That preference also shapes his beliefs when it comes to one common topic of discussion -- robot umpires.

"I would love to keep robo umps out of baseball," Ripken told ABC News, as he explained how he would create a more consistent strike zone. "I like the look of baseball, and there is something to be said for the element of human error involved."

His idea instead focused on training and compensating the human umpires best able to make correct ball and strike calls.

"I'd like to use the technology to grade the umpires behind home plate better," he begins. "And we do that nowadays, the problem, I believe, is that I don't know what we do with that data when we grade out the umpires."

Ripken's plan also suggests choosing the umpires best-graded for their work at home plate, and having them work that position more often.

"There needs to be a weeding out process and more accountability on their end as well. Umpires will need to perform at a high level to maintain their position in the game."

And when it comes to teams' decision-making, Ripken says the power that has been ceded to front offices and analytics experts needs to shift back towards those he calls baseball men.

"The teams that succeed in the future will be the ones with the outside-of-the-box front office thinkers doing their thing and then turning over the information to the inside-of-the-box thinkers in the clubhouse...Front offices working with managers, not running roughshod over them, will be the key to success moving forward."

Copyright © 2020, ABC Audio. All rights reserved.



Donell Woodson/Getty Images(NEW YORK) — After 28 years on the court, Maria Sharapova is retiring.

"Tennis -- I'm saying goodbye," the 32-year-old Russian born player announced Wednesday in an essay for Vanity Fair.

Sharapova is leaving the game with five Grand Slams under her belt. She won Wimbledon in 2004, the US Open in 2006, the Australian Open in 2008 and the French Open in 2012 and 2014.

Her professional career began in 2001 when she was just 14 years old.

“In giving my life to tennis, tennis gave me a life. I’ll miss it everyday,” Sharapova says in the essay. “I’ll miss the training and my daily routine: Waking up at dawn, lacing my left shoe before my right, and closing the court’s gate before I hit my first ball of the day. I’ll miss my team, my coaches. I’ll miss the moments sitting with my father on the practice court bench. The handshakes—win or lose—and the athletes, whether they knew it or not, who pushed me to be my best.”

“Looking back now, I realize that tennis has been my mountain. My path has been filled with valleys and detours, but the views from its peak were incredible. After 28 years and five Grand Slam titles, though, I’m ready to scale another mountain—to compete on a different type of terrain,” she adds.

Sharapova says she is now looking forward to a “few simple things,” like spending time with her family, enjoying a cup of coffee and choosing her workouts.

“Tennis showed me the world—and it showed me what I was made of. It’s how I tested myself and how I measured my growth. And so in whatever I might choose for my next chapter, my next mountain, I’ll still be pushing. I’ll still be climbing. I’ll still be growing,” she concludes her essay.

Copyright © 2020, ABC Audio. All rights reserved.



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

NATIONAL BASKETBALL ASSOCIATION

Indiana 119, Charlotte 80
Milwaukee 108, Toronto 97
Oklahoma City 124, Chicago 122
Denver 115, Detroit 98
Boston 118, Portland 106
L.A. Lakers 118, New Orleans 109
Sacramento 112, Golden State 94

NATIONAL HOCKEY LEAGUE

Philadelphia 4, San Jose 2
Toronto 4, Tampa Bay 3
Dallas 4, Carolina 1
Vancouver 4, Montreal 3 -- OT
NY Rangers 4, NY Islanders 3 -- OT
Calgary 5, Boston 2
Washington 4, Winnipeg 3 -- SO
New Jersey 4, Detroit 1
Minnesota 5, Columbus 4
Nashville 3, Ottawa 2
St. Louis 6, Chicago 5
Florida 2, Arizona 1
Anaheim 4, Edmonton 3 -- OT

TOP-25 COLLEGE BASKETBALL

Baylor 85, Kansas St. 66
Dayton 62, George Mason 55
Wake Forest 113 Duke 101
Kentucky 69, Texas A&M 60
Auburn 67, Mississippi 58
Michigan St. 78, Iowa 70
Oklahoma 65, Texas Tech 51
San Diego St. 66, Colorado St. 60

Copyright © 2020, ABC Audio. All rights reserved.



TuelekZa/iStock(NEW YORK) -- The Puerto Rico women’s basketball team is going to the 2020 Olympics and are making history in the process.

The team has qualified for the Olympics for the first time ever, according to the International Basketball Federation. Although they lost to France in an 89-51 final at the qualifying tournament on Feb. 9, the team secured their spot after Brazil was eliminated by Australia.

“It was an emotional moment ... an exciting moment," Tayra Meléndez, a forward on the national team, told ABC News about their triumphant win.

The women's basketball team has now become the fifth team in Puerto Rico's history to participate in the Olympic games, following men's basketball, baseball, women's volleyball and women's softball.

Inspiring an Island

The team’s victory is especially significant as the island continues to reel from recent deadly earthquakes, including a magnitude 6.4 earthquake that rattled the island on Jan. 7, leaving one person dead, destroying several homes and leaving thousands without power. Residents on the island are also still recovering from the aftermath of Hurricane Maria’s devastation in September 2017.

"Hurricane Maria was big for us ... it was hard. It was a time where everybody suffered on the island. It was really, really tough," Gerardo "Jerry" Batista, the head coach of the team, told ABC News.

"[We were] trying to bring some good news to the people of Puerto Rico. That was great for us ... that was the goal, that was the motivation," Batista said.

Meléndez, 26, was born in Puerto Rico and later moved to Massachusetts with her parents. During her childhood, she recalls growing up on the island with her grandmother, who later passed away. Meléndez, who changed her jersey number in memory of her grandmother, said that she's grateful for the chance to carry on her family's legacy.

“She loved Puerto Rico more than anything in this world ... when I put that jersey on, it’s a reminder of everything beautiful that is that island," Meléndez said.

She said that despite all the obstacles that her fellow teammates have faced both "emotionally and physically," every challenge has only brought them closer together as a team.

"We are a family within each other," Meléndez said.

Supporting Women in Sports

Coach Batista believes that the island’s commitment and investment into the team have played a major role in the team’s success. He said that Yum Ramos, president of the Puerto Rican Basketball Federation, is among those supporters.

Ramos, who was elected to the role in 2016 after serving as tournament director for the women’s professional league, said his administration has consistently ensured that the Puerto Rico women’s basketball team was made a priority.

Not only did the team receive additional financial support, including new uniforms and increased salaries, but their financial support has now matched their male counterparts.

For Ramos, his personal dedication to the team derives from his upbringing with his mom teaching him the importance of "treating women equally."

"We believe in them ... and gave them everything they needed to be successful," Ramos told ABC News.

Meléndez, who was named director of Basketball Operations at Bryant University in Rhode Island last year, said she's especially proud of how far the team has come considering the sacrifices that many of the players have made to play -- including several of them also balancing other side gigs.

"My advice to any young girl would be to love the process ... love every minute of it. The good days and the bad days ... [and] with time, you’ll see the results," she said.

The 2020 Olympics kick off on July 24 in Tokyo.

Copyright © 2020, ABC Audio. All rights reserved.



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

NATIONAL BASKETBALL ASSOCIATION
Philadelphia 129, Atlanta 112
Orlando 115, Brooklyn 113
Milwaukee 137, Washington 134 -- OT
Cleveland 125, Miami 119 -- OT
Houston 123, New York 112
Dallas 139, Minnesota 123
Phoenix 131, Utah 111
L.A. Clippers 124, Memphis 97

NATIONAL HOCKEY LEAGUE

Columbus 4, Ottawa 3 -- OT

TOP-25 COLLEGE BASKETBALL

Kansas 83, Oklahoma St. 58
Florida St. 82, Louisville 67
Texas 67, West Virginia 57

Copyright © 2020, ABC Audio. All rights reserved.



Allen Berezovsky/Getty Images(LOS ANGELES) -- A powerful public memorial service was held at the Staples Center in downtown Los Angeles Monday to honor NBA great Kobe Bryant and his 13-year-old daughter, Gianna, nearly one month after the helicopter crash that took their lives.

Former teammate Shaquille O'Neal told the 20,000 mourners that "Kobe and I always held a deep respect and love for one another," calling him "Heaven's MVP."

Also among the speakers was Bryant's widow, Vanessa Bryant, who emotionally opened up about her memories of her husband and daughter.

Christina Aguilera sang a stirring rendition of "Ave Maria" and the Staples Center fell silent as Alicia Keys performed Beethoven's "Moonlight Sonata."


Here is a recap of the service:


Michael Jordan wipes away tears

Fellow NBA great and close friend Michael Jordan wiped tears away as he spoke.

"When Kobe Bryant died, a piece of me died," he said.

Tears streamed down Jordan's face as he said he wanted to be the "best big brother I could be" for Bryant.

On a lighter note, Jordan joked that his appearance will generate "another crying meme."

"I told my wife I wasn't going to do this because I didn't want to see that for the next three or four years," he said. "That is what Kobe Bryant does to me."

Jordan said "as a basketball player, as a businessman, and a storyteller, and as father, in the game of basketball, in life, as a parent, Kobe left nothing in the tank. He left it all on the floor."

"Kobe gave every last ounce of himself to whatever he was doing," Jordan said. "After basketball he showed a creative side ... that I didn't think any of us knew he had."

"In retirement he seemed so happy, he found new passions and he continued to give back as a coach, in his community," Jordan said. "More importantly, he was an amazing dad, amazing husband, who dedicated himself to his family and who loved his daughters with all his heart.

"Kobe never left anything on the court," he said. "And I think that's what he would want for us to do. No one knows how much time we have, that's why we must live in the moment."

Lakers general manager Rob Pelinka, Bryant's close friend and former agent, and godfather to Gianna, said Bryant celebrated turning 40 with a vacation at a beautiful resort, where he still wanted to "watch Team Mamba game film with Gigi."

Pelinka described Bryant as the "baby whisperer" who had the "golden touch" and loved to cuddle with his daughters.

When Bryant was on the road, he was always on the phone with his daughters, never wanting to miss a moment of their lives, he said.

"The day after Kobe was gone, I was at home and feeling totally lost," Pelinka said. "I couldn’t imagine life without the strength and guidance of my best friend.”

Pelinka said he felt the need to connect with something “tangible” that represented their friendship, and his wife reminded him of a book from Bryant.

In the inside cover, Pelinka said Bryant wrote: “to RP, my brother, may you always remember to enjoy the road, especially when it’s a hard one.”

Sabrina Ionescu, a basketball player at the University of Oregon who became a mentor for Gianna, called the 13-year-old "the future" of women's basketball.

"She always wanted to learn, to go to every game she could -- college, NBA, WNBA," she said. "Kobe was helping with that because he saw it in her. Just like he saw it in me."

Ionescu recalled how Kobe Bryant would text her and check up on her, giving both her and Gianna the "blueprint" for future success.

"Through Gigi, through me, through his investment in women's basketball -- that was his next great act," she said.

Ionescu said she still texts Kobe Bryant's phone.

"The texts go through, but no response," she said. "Sometimes I find myself still waiting."

WNBA player Diana Taurasi said, "Gigi in many ways represents the future of women's basketball: a future where a young woman aspires to play in the WNBA the same way I wanted to be A Laker."

"Gigi already had goals to play for UConn -- that in itself showed her fearless mentality," Taurasi said.

"We promise to carry Gigi’s legacy," she vowed.

Bryant's widow, Vanessa Bryant, who was with the NBA player since she was 17, opened up about her "soulmate" as she spoke at the service.

She recalled how he was the romantic in the relationship and planned special anniversary trips and gifts. She called his handmade presents "my most treasured gifts."

Vanessa Bryant called her husband the best "girl dad," who taught their four daughters "how to be brave and keep pushing forward when things get tough."

She described him as a "doting" and "hands-on" father and who helped bathe their kids, sing them "silly songs" and had bedtime "down to a science."

"I want my daughters to know and remember the amazing person, husband and father he was," she said. "The kind of man that wanted to teach the future generations to be better and keep them from making his own mistakes."

"I couldn't see him as a celebrity, nor just an incredible basketball player," she said. "He was my sweet husband and the beautiful father of our children. He was my—he was my everything."

Vanessa Bryant was overcome with emotion as she said Gianna "always kissed me goodnight and kissed me good morning."

"She was daddy's girl but I know she loved her mama," she said. "She was one of my very best friends."

She loved to bake, swim and dance, her mother said. Vanessa Bryant described how her daughter had "the best laugh" and loved family traditions.

She was competitive like her father, but "had a sweet grace," she said. "Her smile was like sunshine."

She said her daughter -- a rule follower -- would have made a big difference for women's basketball and was motivated to change the way women were viewed in sports.

Vanessa Bryant grew more emotional as she talked about how she won't be able to tell Gianna how "gorgeous she looks on her wedding day," or see her walk down the aisle, or "have a father-daughter dance with her daddy, dance on the dance floor with me or have babies of her own."

'Be grateful for the time we had'


Jimmy Kimmel cried as he recounted how Kobe and Gianna Bryant's faces are now plastered on walls across the world.

Kimmel called the service a "celebration of life, of their lives, and of life itself, in the building where those of us who are Lakers fans and Kobe fans celebrated so many of the best times of our lives."

"It seems to me that all we can do is be grateful for the time we had with them and for the time we have left with each other," Kimmel said.

Beyonce opened the service performing her hit "XO" -- which she said was one of Bryant's favorite songs -- followed by "Halo."

There is significance in the chosen date. It reflects the basketball jersey numbers worn by Kobe (No. 24) and Gianna (No. 2). Vanessa Bryant also noted that her husband was a Laker for 20 years and the two were together for 20 years.

Kobe Bryant and Gianna were among the nine people killed in the Jan. 26 helicopter crash in Southern California while en route to Bryant's Mamba Sports Academy.

Copyright © 2020, ABC Audio. All rights reserved.