Zion Williamson injury: Let the decision to return to college basketball if he's able be Zion's to make
College basketball waits for if, and when, Zion will return
One of the most irksome things about American sports culture and commentary is how often so many are prone to spew on and on about how athletes should live their lives.
Thirty-four seconds into Wednesday night's 88-72 home loss to North Carolina, Dukesuperstar freshman Zion Williamson suffered what Blue Devils coach Mike Krzyzewski . In a scary moment for Williamson -- and a discomfiting one for Nike, whose Paul George model burst under the pressure of Williamson's near-285-pound frame -- the freshman phenom's left foot popped free after the entire side panel of his shoe ripped apart.
It was jarring, not only given the tricky nature of knee injuries and the awkward footwear failure, but also because of how early it came in the game and the circumstances under which Williamson was undone.
"We're very concerned about Zion," Krzyzewski said after the game. "We will know about length of time tomorrow. It's stable. Obviously it has an impact. You lose the National Player of the Year on the first play."
On the biggest regular-season stage in college basketball, featuring arguably the best rivalry in sports, an almost immediate damper. The secondary ticket market was commanding prices wellfor some seats. , even providing accurate real-time commentary that of course went viral within minutes.
And now it's all messy and debatable and the perfect storm of speculation, just in time for college basketball to take its spot near centerstage on the sports calendar. College hoops' most famous player at the sport's most popular -- and polarizing -- program hits the deck and takes an injury, bringing reverberations back on: just stop playing college basketball. So now a lot of people are going to be screaming their opinions about what Williamson should or shouldn't do.
How about this: Let us not turn this injury into a referendum on college basketball and the amateurism experience.
How about we let Williamson and his family make their own choices after they have all the injury information, get the MRI taken care of and have a clearer timeline on recovery? It's his life and his decision. If he chooses to return, that's great for Duke, college basketball -- and him. He clearly has loved his time playing for the most accomplished men's college basketball coach in history, increasing his value (by untold amounts) as a player and basketball ambassador by over the past three-plus months.
And I'll remind you that Williamson has said, multiple times in recent weeks, that he would have played a year in college even if the NBA age-minimum rule didn't exist.
"If I was going to sit out, I wouldn't have gone to college," Williamson told the mediaearlier this year. "I'm thankful that Coach K gave me the opportunity."
I'll also remind you that the most famous freshman, and certainly the most marketable player in college basketball in decades, isn't going to lose earnings potential because of this injury. Because of his unique build and athleticism, almost no injury is considered threatening to his stranglehold on becoming the No. 1 pick in June. The arguments for Zion to shut it down stem from, and boil down to, how much money playing in college, and maybe getting hurt again, could cost him. But that athleticism, that megawatt smile and that name already ensure he'll be handsomely paid by whatever team takes him No. 1 and however many brands choose to make him immediately rich as soon as he declares for the draft.
He is already on a one-name basis. How many times has that been true of a college basketball player in the past 20 years? Not many.
And how many times have we seen a player built like Zion be this good this early at basketball? Never.
"Obviously, you lose a national player of the year candidate, there are going to be uh, gaps, of what you have to do," Krzyzewski said.
He also said: "Hopefully he'll be back playing in the near future."
That would be optimal, yes.
The biggest question now -- the biggest question in sports, frankly -- is the timeline of the injury. It's unquestionably a huge blow to Duke, but it also is a hit to college hoops. The sport is going to survive just fine (March will be forever bigger than any one coach, player, team or conference) but not having the Zion Show in the NCAA Tournament would be a huge missed opportunity.
If he winds up being healthy in short order but decides that 30 seconds into North Carolina is how he wants to walk away from college basketball, we should respect that decision, however hard or not it might be for him.
If Williamson opts back in, as I think he will if the injury winds up being a short-term problem, then just let it be. If the knee injury keeps him out two weeks or so, that has him back in time for the ACC Tournament, when he'll probably be as anxious and eager to play as he's ever been in his life.
You can say "If I was him I wouldn't play another minute until I was getting paid!"
Well, that's fine. If you think that way. But you couldn't possibly know what it's like to be him right now. He's going to be rich beyond his dreams before long.
It's his life. It's his future. The rush to glom on to the NCAA model and invoke martyrdom on behalf of a 19-year-old, who is asking for none of this, is tacky.
If Williamson's healthy enough to return to college basketball and jumps right back in, then we should respect that choice. And if he doesn't come back? That's OK too. The NCAA's system, for all its flaws, has also helped turn a fabulous freak show named Williamson into the must-see Duke attraction that is ZION. He knows it. He also knows, if healthy, he'll only have this chance at the college experience and the NCAA Tournament once. Choosing to walk away from that is the kind of dilemma almost none of us could understand, so we should respect whatever his decision is whenever he makes it.
BY THE NUMBERS
Stock futures were under some pressure today, despite optimism over U.S.-China trade talks. The Nasdaq was riding an eight-session winning streak. Stocks, while off to a strong start this year, remain well below record highs after their late 2018 rout. (CNBC)
The U.S. and China have started to outline commitments in principle on the stickiest issues in their trade dispute, marking the most significant progress yet toward ending a seven-month trade war, according to sources familiar with the negotiations. (Reuters)
* China may be on the cusp of introducing 'more aggressive' stimulus measures: Economists (CNBC)
Three economic reports are out at 8:30 a.m. ET, with the Labor Department issuing its weekly report on initial jobless claims, the Commerce Department releasing its shutdown-delayed December report on durable goods orders, and the Philadelphia Fed putting out its February manufacturing index. (CNBC)
* Fed's Bullard: Rate hikes, balance sheet reduction 'coming to an end' (CNBC)
* Fed signals, in latest meeting minutes, an end date for balance sheet reduction (CNBC)
Earnings reports out this morning include the latest numbers from Domino's Pizza (DPZ) and Wendy's (WEN). After-the-bell reports today include Hewlett Packard Enterprise (HPE), Intuit (INTU), Kraft Heinz (KHC), and Zillow Group (ZG). (CNBC)
IN THE NEWS TODAY
Speaker Nancy Pelosi said the House would "swiftly" pass a measure that would block President Donald Trump's national emergency order to build a wall along the U.S.-Mexico border, setting the stage for a fierce debate in the GOP-controlled Senate. (WSJ)
Trump's former lawyer Michael Cohen is set to testify in a public hearing before lawmakers in the Democratic-controlled House next Wednesday, and the panel's chairman said Trump's business practices would be a focus of the testimony. (Reuters)
A federal judge in Washington ordered Roger Stone to appear in court today after the longtime Trump ally posted a photo on social media this weekend showing the judge next to crosshairs. Stone's lawyers apologized for the "improper photograph and comment." (Yahoo Finance)
Apple (AAPL) and Goldman Sachs (GS) plan to start issuing this spring a joint credit cardpaired with new iPhone features that will help users manage their money. The card will be rolled out to employees for testing in the next few weeks and officially launch later this year. (WSJ)
Samsung's new foldable smartphone is a "game-changer," but investors should not expect the new device to be a major contributor to the company's profits this year, according analysts. Samsung unveiled a flexible display prototype back in 2011. (CNBC)
Lyft plans to launch the roadshow for its initial public offering during the week of March 18, making it the first U.S. ride-hailing company to debut in the stock market. Lyft's larger rival Uber still needs several more weeks for its IPO preparations. (Reuters)
The vast majority of pedestrian crash avoidance systems in 11 small SUVs passed tests conducted by the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety. But two models had some difficulties, the 2019 Mitsubishi Outlander and the 2018-19 BMW X1. (CNBC)
Johnson & Johnson has received subpoenas from the Justice Department and the SEC related to litigation involving alleged asbestos contamination in its signature Baby Powder product line. The company said it intends to "cooperate fully" and "continue to defend" itself. (Reuters)
Duke freshman Zion Williamson, presumed No. 1 pick in the NBA, suffered a knee injury, when his Nike (NKE) sneaker blew apart, less than a minute into last night's big game against the North Carolina Tar Heels, with former President Barack Obama in attendance. (USA Today)
"Empire" star Jussie Smollett, who told Chicago police he was the victim of a racist and homophobic attack in January, has been charged with disorderly conduct for filing a false police report. He's expected to have a bond hearing today. (USA Today)
Pope Francis denounced a "plague of sexual abuses perpetrated by men of the church to the harm of minors," and called on Catholic bishops to "listen to the cry of the little ones who plead for justice," as he opened a four-day summit on preventing clerical sex abuse. (WSJ)
It happened just 30 seconds into Wednesday’s huge rivalry game between Duke and UNC: The biggest college basketball star in America slipped while driving to the basket, and his left foot completely tore through his Nike basketball sneaker.
6-foot-7 forward Zion Williamson left the game with a knee injury and did not return. College basketball fans gasped, and Nike shareholders frowned.
On Thursday morning, Nike stock was down 2% in premarket.
Now Nike is “concerned” and is investigating the “issue.”
In a statement sent to press, Nike said, “We are obviously concerned and want to wish Zion a speedy recovery. The quality and performance of our products are of utmost importance. While this is an isolated occurrence, we are working to identify the issue.”
The incident comes just over one year after Nike’s official NBA jerseys repeatedly tore during games in November 2017. And the Williamson fiasco could not come on a more visible evening for the brand: the biggest college basketball game of the year so far, a game some fans paid more than $2,000 to attend, and Williamson’s first Duke-UNC rivalry game of his college career.
The memes on Twitter came fast and furious—including a clip of President Barack Obama, who was in attendance, pointing to the court and noting, “His shoe broke.”
Nike rival Puma took the opportunity to mock Nike, tweeting out at 9:27pm EST, “Wouldn’t have happened in the Pumas.”
Puma deleted the tweet minutes later.
It registered an intensity of six-minus on the Japanese scale of zero to seven in the town of Atsuma.
It reached an intensity of five-plus in the towns of Abira and Mukawa, and five-minus in the cities of Sapporo and Chitose as well as in the towns of Naganuma and Biratori.
SpaceX to launch rocket from Cape Canaveral at 8:45 p.m. Thursday
CAPE CANAVERAL, Fla. — SpaceX is scheduled to launch a Falcon 9 rocket from Cape Canaveral Thursday night.
The rocket will carry a communications satellite into orbit for Indonesia, a commercial moon lander and other small satellites.
Blastoff is scheduled for 8:45 p.m.
The below video is from this past sunday 02/17/2019's lift off!
‘Extinct’ Galapagos tortoise found after 100 years
A species of giant tortoise believed to have been extinct for more than 100 years has been discovered on the Galapagos island of Fernandina, according to Ecuador’s government.
The last known time a Fernandina Giant Tortoise was seen alive was 1906.
An adult female believed to be more than a century old was seen alive on Sunday during an expedition by the Giant Tortoise Restoration Initiative (GTRI), according to a government statement.
Washington Tapia, GTRI director and expedition leader, said that genetic studies will be carried out to “reconfirm” that the tortoise found belongs to the Fernandina Island species.
Experts believe she is not alone. The tracks and scent of other tortoises, believed to be of the same species, were also observed by the team.
Conservationists have taken the tortoise to a breeding center on the nearby island of Santa Cruz.
The Fernandina Giant Tortoise is one of 14 giant tortoise species native to the Galapagos Islands, most of which are endangered. The tortoises have been killed over the past two centuries, both for food and for their oil, according to the Galapagos Conservancy, which jointly forms GTRI with the Galapagos National Park.
“This encourages us to strengthen our search plans to find other (tortoises), which will allow us to start a breeding program in captivity to recover this species,” said Danny Rueda, director of the Galapagos National Park.
The Galapagos archipelago includes 19 islands in the Pacific Ocean roughly 621 miles (1,000km) from the Ecuadorian coast. Fernandina, the third largest and youngest of the islands, remains the most volcanically active.
President Trump: ISIS wife Hoda Muthana won't be allowed to return to United States
The U.S. said Wednesday that an Alabama woman who joined the Islamic State group in Syria won't be allowed to return to the country with her toddler son because she is not an American citizen, a claim that was challenged by her lawyer. (Feb. 20) AP
WASHINGTON – President Donald Trump said Wednesday that an American woman who was the bride of an Islamic State fighter and now wants to come home will not be allowed back in the United States.
“I have instructed Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, and he fully agrees, not to allow Hoda Muthana back into the Country!” Trump wrote on Twitter.
Muthana traveled to Syria and married and had a child with an ISIS fighter and now wants to face the U.S. justice system.
But Pompeo said earlier Wednesday that Muthana is not an American citizen and "does not have any legal basis, no valid U.S. passport, no right to a passport," contradicting statements by her family and her Florida-based lawyer, who said she was born in Hackensack, New Jersey, in 1994.
Muthana, who was raised in Alabama, left the United States to join ISIS four years ago at age 19. In Syria, she called for Americans to be attacked, and she spread the group's propaganda online.
She is one of about 1,500 foreign women and children – the spouses and children of Islamic State militants – held in a Kurdish-run detention camp in northern Syria.
Muthana is there with her 18-month-old son.The child's father is not alive. Two of her previous husbands, both Islamic State militants, are also dead. Muthana is not allowed to leave the camp and has armed guards protecting her from Islamic State sympathizers. She is asking to be allowed to return to the U.S. to face due process.
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"The government needs to engage with her, but not just her; all of these people who joined ISIS" from the West, said Hassan Shibly, Muthana's lawyer.
"If she broke the law, then the justice system can deal with her, and if she didn't break the law, she should come back anyway, so it can be determined if she is a threat."
Shibly said Muthana has realized she made a mistake in moving to Syria and wants to return to the USA to face justice and "pay any debts she has to society." He said she wants to speak out against the Islamic State and help de-radicalize other Americans.
Muthana abandoned her family and fled to Syria in 2014, a year after she graduated from high school. She briefly studied at the University of Alabama-Birmingham.
Shibly shared a letter Muthana wrote this week in which she described herself as "naive, angry and arrogant" when she decided to journey to Syria.
Shibly, executive director of the Florida Council on American Islamic Relations in Tampa, said it was not clear from a legal standpoint whether Muthana's "marrying into ISIS" could warrant a "material support charge" to Islamic State activities, which range from terror attacks in the USA and Europe to beheadings in Iraq and Syria.
Alan Dershowitz, a former Harvard law professor, said that if he were advising Muthana, he would tell her that coming back to the USA would be "risky." Dershowitz told the New York Post her case would be a "close call" even if all she did was tweet and send emails.
Muthana claimed to have had no contact with U.S. authorities, and Shibly said she can leave the camp only if the U.S. government asks for her release. It's not clear if it has. U.S. immigration authorities were not available to answer questions about her case, including whether a U.S. citizen can be barred from entering his or her own country.
In a briefing, State Department spokesman Robert Palladino would not address Muthana's specific case, but said repatriating foreign terrorist fighters to their countries of origin was the "best solution to preventing them from returning to the battlefield."
Pompeo subsequently issued the statement Wednesday in which he claimed that Muthana was not a U.S. citizen and would not be allowed back in.
Shibly, however, provided USA TODAY with a copy of Muthana's birth certificate, which lists her place of birth as Hackensack, New Jersey.
Steve Vladeck, a law professor at the University of Texas, said that Pompeo can't just assert that someone born in the U.S. is not a U.S. citizen.
"I gather that the government's argument is that she was born to a diplomat who was in the United States on official business, and so was not entitled to birthright citizenship. That's correct as a matter of law if it's true, but it's not true just because the government says so," he said in a Twitter message to USA TODAY.
Only six American militants have returned from fighting or training with militant groups in Syria, according to New America, a Washington-based foreign policy research institute.
All were taken into custody. Muthana may be the first American spouse or partner of an Islamic State fighter who has sought to return home. The New York Times has reported that another woman, dual U.S.-Canadian national Kimberly Gwen Polman, 46, is also in the al-hawl refugee camp in Syria. She left Canada in 2015.
A similar case in Britain involves Shamima Begum, 19, from London, who gave birth to a baby boy over the weekend in the same camp where Muthana is held.
Begum, who left Britain for Syria at age 15 and married an Islamic State fighter, wants to return to Britain for the sake of her child's welfare, but British authorities, including the nation's interior minister, indicated they might try to block her return. They might find that difficult to do because a British national can't theoretically be prevented from returning home unless that person is also a national of another country. Begum isn't.
The woman's London-based lawyer, Tasnime Akunjee, said Tuesday that the British government informed him that it is trying to strip Begum of her British citizenship.
As for Muthana, "whether it's a few years in jail, 20 years in jail or no jail, she's open to the legal process, and she's not asking for a free pass, just due process," Shibly said.
2019 WGC-Mexico Championship tee times, pairings: When Tiger Woods, the field start in Round 1 on Thursday
There are some interesting featured groups this week in Mexico
Nearly everyone who starred in last week's thriller at Riviera is back in the field this week at the WGC-Mexico Championship, the first World Golf Championships event of 2019. Tiger Woods, Justin Thomas, Rory McIlroy and Jordan Spieth all headed over from Riviera, and they'll be joined by Rickie Fowler, Dustin Johnson, Bryson DeChambeau and Brooks Koepka in the best field of the year so far.
This tournament has produced, too, with a D.J. win in 2017 followed by a J.T.-Phil Mickelson playoff last season. Speaking of those three, they'll all play together in the first two rounds of the tournament as one of the four featured groups. Tiger gets pal DeChambeau as well as the top-ranked Mexican player in the world, Abraham Ancer.
The star power doesn't end there, though. Rory McIlroy, Brooks Koepka and Bubba Watson are a trio, and so are Rickie Fowler, Jon Rahm and Patrick Reed. Interestingly, Jordan Spieth -- coming in off an 81 at Riviera on Sunday -- is not part of the featured groups coverage. That's the first time I can remember that happening in quite a while.
Here's a look at those featured groups and some other key tee times. For a full list of tee times for this week's tournament, you can click here.
All times Eastern
- 12:39 p.m. -- Rory McIlroy, Bubba Watson, Brooks Koepka (No. 10)
- 12:51 p.m. -- Phil Mickelson, Justin Thomas, Dustin Johnson (No. 10)
- 1:51 p.m. -- Rickie Fowler, Jon Rahm, Patrick Reed (No. 1)
- 2:03 p.m. -- Tiger Woods, Bryson DeChambeau, Abraham Ancer (No. 1)
Other notable tee times
- 12:51 p.m. -- Russell Knox, Jordan Spieth, Satoshi Kodaira (No. 1)
- 1:03 p.m. -- Henrik Stenson, Matt Kuchar, Tommy Fleetwood (No. 10)
- 1:27 p.m. -- Patrick Cantlay, Sergio Garcia, Alex Noren (No. 10)
- 1:39 p.m. -- Marc Leishman, Tony Finau, Hideki Matsuyama (No. 1)
- 1:15 p.m. -- Webb Simpson, Paul Casey, Rafa Cabrera Bello (No. 1)
Rounds 1 -- Thursday
Round starts: Noon
Live TV coverage: 2-7 p.m. on Golf Channel
Live stream online: 2-7 p.m. on fuboTV (Try for free) and NBCSports.com
Radio: 1-7 p.m. on PGA Tour Radio
The family of a 6-year-old boy who was allegedly sexually abused by a Hesperia Unified School District janitor has filed a lawsuit against the Hesperia Unified School District, alleging an additional victim was abused by the janitor.
Pedro Martinez, a 45-year-old Hesperia resident, was arrested Jan. 22 by deputies and detectives from the San Bernardino County Sheriff’s Department on suspicion of sexually abusing two children.
Paul Matiasic, a San Francisco-based attorney, is representing the family of the 6-year-old boy and claimed in the lawsuit that negligence in supervision and hiring by the district allowed the alleged sexual abuse to happen.
Martinez on Jan. 25 pleaded not guilty to five counts alleging sex crimes against children.
Two alleged victims were first named in the criminal complaint filed by the San Bernardino County District Attorney’s Office. The complaint alleged that Martinez sexually abused the two children under 10 years old from Sept. 1 through Sept. 18 in 2018.
A third alleged victim was named in the civil lawsuit, with all plaintiffs named under pseudonyms.
The family named the district and Martinez as the two defendants in the lawsuit, filed Feb. 7 in San Bernardino County Superior Court.
The family also alleged sexual battery, intentional infliction of emotional distress, concealment and failure to perform mandatory duties among other allegations.
“Firstly, you have failure on a personal level in this deviant sexual perpetrator and what he did to these kids,” Matiasic said. “Then there’s failure on an institutional level. They provided an environment for this predator. They either knew and turned a blind eye or they were negligent in not supervising.”
The lawsuit alleged that Martinez would lure the boys into empty classrooms and bathrooms and sexually abuse them on a daily basis over the course of five to six months.
Martinez was a janitor at Maple Elementary School, and was placed on paid leave by the district pending the results of the law enforcement investigation. The district said in a statement that it is fully cooperating with law enforcement.
Prior to working at Maple Elementary, he was an employee at Eucalyptus Elementary School, also in the Hesperia Unified School District, the suit stated.
Robert McCollum, assistant superintendent for the Hesperia Unified School District, said Martinez has worked for the district for 15 years, and declined to say if any complaints had been made against Martinez in the past. The district also declined to comment on the lawsuit. Martinez’s attorney could not be reached for comment.
A family friend of the 6-year-old boy who only identified herself as Magdalena said in a Jan. 25 interview arranged by Matiasic that she was the first person he opened up to about the alleged abuse.
“He was being extremely disruptive at my home,” Magdalena said. “He was breaking things, urinating in places and just lashing out in physical ways.”
“His actions were that of an angry and hurt child. I basically confronted him and told him I knew someone was abusing him, and he looked at me like a deer caught in the headlights,” she added.
The boy told Magdalena everything that had happened to him, including that the janitor was allegedly making children touch each other inappropriately.
“He told me every single horrible detail that you could imagine,” Magdalena said. “It went on from Friday, Jan. 19 at around 7 p.m. until 2 a.m. the next day.”
The alleged victim’s mother, who wished to remain unidentified, asked during the Jan. 25 interview for other potential victims to come forward.
“I’m just concerned about the other parents and the suffering that they’ll have to endure,” she said.