<![CDATA[NBC 6 South Florida - Sports]]>Copyright 2016http://www.nbcmiami.com/news/sports http://media.nbcbayarea.com/designimages/NBC+6+LOGO+GOOGLE.png NBC 6 South Florida http://www.nbcmiami.comen-usTue, 03 May 2016 16:20:12 -0400Tue, 03 May 2016 16:20:12 -0400NBC Owned Television Stations <![CDATA[Marlins Trip to Puerto Rico in Danger of Being Canceled: Report]]> Tue, 03 May 2016 15:55:25 -0400 http://media.nbcmiami.com/images/213*120/GettyImages-85302246.jpg

The Miami Marlins may not play in Puerto Rico after all due to Zika virus concerns, according to a report from Yahoo Sports.

Miami is currently scheduled to host the Pittsburgh Pirates on May 30-31 at Hiram Bithorn Stadium in Puerto Rico. The series is set to honor Roberto Clemente with Miami serving as the home team against the Hall of Famer's old club.

The virus which has captured worldwide attention has raised concerns for players on both sides. Major League Baseball is reportedly close to moving the two games to Miami at Marlins Park. Currently, the Marlins and Pirates are set to play two games in Miami in addition to the games in Puerto Rico.

The Marlins last played on the island in 2010 when they were still known as the Florida Marlins. That time around, the Marlins hosted the New York Mets and drew large crowds. This series is expected to be well-attended as well if it occurs with possible strong support for Miami.

Puerto Rico and MLB have strong ties dating back decades. In addition to series such as the aforementioned "San Juan Series" in 2010, Puerto Rico is a popular Winter League destination. Hiram Bithorn Stadium has also played host to World Baseball Classic games in the past. It remains to be seen if this cancellation would lead to any problems between the league and the island.

Even if these games end up moved, Miami will still take part in a special game this year. The Marlins have a contest against the Atlanta Braves set to take place in Fort Bragg, North Carolina as well. This will be the first game ever played on a military base and is scheduled for July 3rd.

Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Ex-NFL Star Refutes Rape Charges]]> Tue, 03 May 2016 15:39:41 -0400 http://media.nbcmiami.com/images/213*120/49ER+PRESSER+-+10454427.jpg

Attorneys for former San Francisco 49er Dana Stubblefield fired back Tuesday against allegations that the NFL star raped a disabled woman, calling the charges "absolutely ridiculous" and saying Stubblefield's accuser was motivated by money.

Stubblefield, 45, joined his legal team at his church, Jubilee Christian Center, for a news conference in San Jose the day after charges were filed. He faces five felony counts of rape, oral copulation and false imprisonment in connection with the April 9, 2015 encounter, which unfolded at his then-home in Morgan Hill. Two of the charges allege he engaged in activity with a victim incapable of giving consent.

The alleged victim had visited the property to interview for a babysitting job.  Prosecutors have called the woman developmentally disabled, but Stubblefield's attorneys insisted she is of sound mind.

"I am completely innocent," Stubblefield said, surrounded by a bank of attorneys, adding that he would take no questions. "I am not a perfect man but the allegations against that come a year after a consensual encounter with another woman are totally false."

The retired defensive tackle said the allegations are especially hurtful because he has focused much of his charity work on the Special Olympics.

"That was one of his primary charities," said defense attorney Gary Winuk, "and he spent countless hours with people with special needs. That's why this is so deeply offensive."

Winuk said Stubblefield and his defense team had gathered Tuesday to "firmly refute the charges" and question why it took so long — 13 months — for police and prosecutors to charge the case.

Prosecutors have said the woman, who was 31 at the time, interviewed with Stubblefield for 20 minutes that day, but left, the police report said. He allegedly texted her shortly afterward, saying he wanted to pay her for her time that day, the report said. When she returned, that's when prosecutors allege he raped her and forced her to "orally copulate him," the report stated. He then gave her $80 and let her go. She went immediately to the Morgan Hill Police Department after the encounter to report that she had been raped.

Winuk took aim at the alleged victim, calling into question her criminal past. He said the woman had been convicted of assault and resisting arrest from an unknown location in 2013 and had also been charged in connection with a hit-and-run.

He also said she filed two unknown civil lawsuits and pleaded guilty to an unknown assault charge. Winuk claimed the woman asked Stubblefield for money — texting him 22 times — after they had what he described as consensual sex. Attorneys claimed she was asking him for money.

"This is nothing but a money grab, and an attempt to get money and take advantage of his celebrity status," Winuk said, adding that prosecutors sought "to sensationalize this case" and "arrest someone of notoriety."

He said the woman in question has enough mental capacity to plead guilty, apply for a job and have sexual relations, saying the DA's claim that she is developmentally disabled is "absolute nonsense."

Why the two would have had sex immediately after a job interview was not explained. "The purpose of this news conference was not to flesh out everything that happened," Winuk said. "That's what a jury trial is for."

Aside from the rape charges, Winuk questioned why Morgan Hill police would have arrested Stubblefield outside his childrens' school. He said the former player had been cooperative and would have turned himself in.

Stubblefield also provided the district attorney's office results from an independent lie detector test that clearly showed the encounter was consensual, according to Winuk.

But prosecutors, who were not at the news conference, said on Monday there was enough evidence to charge Stubblefield with rape after a prolonged investigation.

"This was a crime of violence against a vulnerable victim," Deputy District Attorney Tim McInerny said in a statement. "She was looking for a job and she was unconscionably assaulted."

Stubblefield posted $250,000 bail Monday night and was released. He is scheduled to be arraigned on June 3 at the South County Courthouse in Morgan Hill.

The football player has encountered legal trouble in the past.

In 2010, a federal judge sentenced the former 49ers star to 90 days in jail for stealing his former girlfriend's mail. Also that year, Stubblefield admitted to submitting a change of address form so his former girlfriend's mail, including her unemployment checks, would be delivered to his residence.

Stubblefield was placed on probation in 2009 after pleading guilty to lying to investigators about his steroid use during his days on the field.

He played 11 seasons in the NFL, including the first five with the 49ers. Stubblefield later returned to the 49ers in 2001 and '02 before finishing his career with the Oakland Raiders.

Stubblefield, a first-round pick of the 49ers' in 1993, recorded 10.5 sacks and was named the NFL Defensive Rookie of the Year. He was named the NFL’s Defensive Player of the Year, with a career-high 15 sacks in 1997, and signed a lucrative contract with Washington in 1998.

He also served as assistant coach at San Jose's Valley Christian High School.

CSN Bay Area's Matt Maiocco and NBC Bay Area's Steve Ellison, Raj Mathai, Cheryl Hurd and Kristofer Noceda contributed to this report.

Photo Credit: NBC Bay Area]]>
<![CDATA[Ex-49er Raped Disabled Woman: DA]]> Tue, 03 May 2016 14:22:26 -0400 http://media.nbcmiami.com/images/213*120/stubblefield+file+-+00013206.jpg

Former San Francisco 49er Dana Stubblefield was charged Monday with the rape of a disabled woman after an investigation that lasted over a year, according to the Santa Clara County District Attorney's Office.

Stubblefield, 45, faces five felony counts related to the alleged assault, according to the DA’s office. The April 2015 incident occurred at Stubblefield’s home in Morgan Hill, where the woman, who is developmentally disabled, had been asked to interview for a babysitter job, prosecutors said. [[377909671, C]]

The woman, who was 31 at the time, immediately went to the Morgan Hill Police Department to report she was raped, according to prosecutors. 

“This was a crime of violence against a vulnerable victim,” Deputy District Attorney Tim McInerny said. “She was looking for a job and she was unconscionably assaulted.”

[[377961031, C]]

Stubblefield vigorously denied the allegations, saying that the sex was consensual. They even insinuated in a statement that the unnamed woman has prior convictions for assault.

Stubblefield's attorney, Kenneth Rosenfield, said the rape charge against his client is "a false and completely untrue allegation."

"This is nothing but a money grab, and an attempt to get money and take advantage of his celebrity status," Rosenfield said.

Rosenfield said he has also provided the District Attorney's office results from an independent lie detector test "that clearly show the encounter was consensual."

More information from Stubblefield and Rosenfield are expected to be released during a press conference scheduled for Tuesday morning.

Stubblefield contacted the woman through babysitter website Sittercity.com, and the incident allegedly occured April 9, 2015, according to a Morgan Hill police report.

The report said Stubblefield and the woman set up an interview that lasted 20 minutes. After she left, the report said the woman got a text message from Stubblefield saying he wanted to pay her for her time.

When the woman returned to Stubblefield's home, the report said she was assaulted and paid $80.

Sitterycity Senior Vice President Jeremy Gottschalk released the following statement Monday:

“We were shocked and horrified to learn today about the charges against former NFL football player Dana Stubblefield. As an online network where care providers and families connect, safety is paramount. Upon learning of this incident, we immediately reached out to the Morgan Hill police department to offer our assistance in the investigation involving Mr. Stubblefield. Our hearts go out to the victim and her family.”

Stubblefield was booked into jail on Monday after an investigation that lasted nearly 13 months. He was out of late Monday after posting bail, which was set at $250,000. He is scheduled to be arraigned on June 3 at the South County Courthouse in Morgan Hill.

In 2010, a federal judge sentenced the former 49ers star to 90 days in jail for stealing his former girlfriend's mail. Also that year, Stubblefield admitted submitting a change of address form so his former girlfriend's mail, including her unemployment checks, would be delivered to his residence.

Stubblefield was placed on probation in 2009 after pleading guilty to lying to investigators about his steroid use during his playing days.

Stubblefield played 11 seasons in the NFL, including the first five with the 49ers. He later returned to the 49ers in 2001 and '02, before finishing his career with the Oakland Raiders.

Stubblefield, a first-round pick of the 49ers' in 1993, recorded 10.5 sacks and was named the NFL Defensive Rookie of the Year. He was named the NFL’s Defensive Player of the Year with a career-high 15 sacks in 1997. He signed a lucrative contract with Washington in 1998.

He was also an assistant coach at San Jose's Valley Christian High School.

Photo Credit: NBC Bay Area]]>
<![CDATA[Fairy Tale Champions: Why Long-Shot Leicester Matters]]> Mon, 02 May 2016 19:37:19 -0400 http://media.nbcmiami.com/images/213*120/521847280-premier-league-champions-leicester-city.jpg

Long-shot Leicester City, a soccer team most people in America probably haven't even heard of, have been crowned champions of the biggest soccer league in the world. Their first-ever title, which they clinched Monday when their closest rival couldn't pull out a win, brought on cries of joy not only in England but across the globe.

Why is a team from a small city halfway between London and Manchester being called by some the greatest story in all of sports? We've never seen an underdog stay this good — after being so bad — for so long. Ever.

Here are four reasons your soccer-obsessed friends are talking about the biggest little football team in all of Europe.

In the world of big-time soccer, there are only a handful of teams that have enough money to matter. You've probably heard of them — Real Madrid is the richest team in the world, according to this year's Deloitte Football Money League analysis.

Leicester (It's pronounced "Lester," as in Lester Holt) are pretty wealthy themselves, having being bought by a Thai billionaire in 2010. But even as the 24th wealthiest team in the world, they only have about a quarter of the revenue of Real Madrid and less than a third of the richest English team, Manchester United, according to Deloitte.

Only one other team outside Deloitte's top 10 has won the Premier League since it started in 1992, as a way to capitalize on money in TV broadcasting rights. The richest few teams, all backed by their own billionaires, have the money to buy the best players in the world, helping them to more success, and more money, and on and on.

In a year when Bernie Sanders won't stop telling Americans the banking system is rigged for the rich to win, Leicester is proof that the little guy can still win it all in a system that's stacked pretty heavily in favor of the big guys.

Leicester was the worst team in the Premier League a little over a year ago, in last place when 2015 began. They only barely survived — the worst three teams drop to a lower league at the end of each season — but there weren't a lot of people who thought they'd do it again this season, let alone win the league.

In fact they had never won the top division in England (or Britain, when teams from Wales qualified) in the 132 years the team existed. It was one of dozens of fairly successful teams from small cities across the English countryside.

For 2015-2016, oddsmakers had them at 5,000-to-1 odds to win the league. Elvis surfacing in good health was a 2,000-1 shot, according to The Associated Press. An analysis in The New York Times pegged the odds of the great 1980 "Miracle on Ice" between 17-to-1 and 1,000-to-1.

To understand how unlikely this is, imagine a No. 16 seed in the NCAA basketball tournament winning the whole thing. No, it's never happened, but all they have to do is win six games against teams better than they are. Leicester needed to collect more points over 38 games, in nine months, than 19 teams many thought were better than them. Three had at least 13 more league titles than Leicester.

Few could have named Leicester's players at the start of the year, and while none is yet a world-beating star in his own right, the players' inspired performances together have made them household names for soccer fans. Take Jamie Vardy, an Englishman who this year set a record for scoring goals in the most consecutive games in the Premier League, at 11. He's likely to play for England at this summer's European Championships.

They come from all over the world, too. Riyad Mahrez, a wizard with his feet, comes from Algeria; key support strikers Shinji Okazaki and Leonardo Ulloa are from Japan and Argentina; Jamaican captain Wes Morgan is usually partnered in defense by a German, Robert Huth; they play in front of Kasper Schmeichel, a goalkeeper from Denmark.

Now, those players are the toast of Britain. Two recently one the league's top player awards — Mahrez won player of the year from the Professional Footballers Association, and Vardy beat out Mahrez and another teammate to be named the Football Writers' Association Footballer of the Year.

The heart of the team this year has been an old Italian coach named Claudio Ranieri, 64, a man who had never coached a team to a championship even when he was in charge of one of the best teams in the world, Juventus.

Ever calm and seemingly always smiling behind his round spectacles, Ranieri grabbed headlines in October when he promised his team a pizza party if they held their opponents scoreless. The players had to make the pizza themselves though, a lesson from Ranieri that they had to work for everything.

"It was very good, too. I enjoyed many slices. What can I say? I’m an Italian man. I love my pizza and my pasta," Ranieri wrote in The Player's Tribune in April.

It might have been cheesy, but the motivation worked: They held their opponents scoreless 14 more times this year in the Premier League, including a stingy run of five games in March and Aprli that all but cemented their championship.

Even when "little Leicester," as he affectionately called his team, started pulling away from the pack, Ranieri always said the right things about keeping a level head and never thinking beyond the next game.

"No matter what happens to end this season, I think our story is important for all football fans around the world. It gives hope to all the young players out there who have been told they are not good enough," he wrote in The Player's Tribune.

Oh, and as for his priorities, Ranieri didn't watch the title-deciding match between second-place Tottenham and Chelsea on Monday. He was scheduled to be on a plane, flying back from Rome where he was having lunch with his 96-year-old mother, he told reporters on Sunday.

Photo Credit: Adrian Dennis/AFP/Getty Images, file
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<![CDATA[Heat vs Raptors Playoffs Preview]]> Mon, 02 May 2016 11:59:58 -0400 http://media.nbcmiami.com/images/213*120/GettyImages-501929042.jpg

The Miami Heat and Toronto Raptors will meet in the Eastern Conference semifinals starting Tuesday.

Miami and Toronto have never opposed one another in the postseason until now. The winner of this series will move on to take on the winner of the series between the Cleveland Cavaliers and Atlanta Hawks. That next series would be the Eastern Conference finals with the winner making the NBA finals.

The Heat and Raptors played each other four times during the regular season, with Toronto winning three of the match-ups. It is important to note that one of those Miami losses came when Dwyane Wade was battling a thigh injury and sat out.

The first game between the teams during the season came on November 8th in Miami. The Heat won this game 96-76 with Chris Bosh leading the team in points. Bosh will be unavailable for this series and his availability for future rounds remains doubtful.

The teams would next meet on December 18th in Miami. This time around Toronto won 108-94 thanks to a strong second half. The Heat led that game at halftime, but were unable to continue playing well after coming out of the locker room.

On January 22nd, Miami would head north of the border and lose 101-81. The Heat trailed throughout in this game with only Bosh and Wade having good days. A 4-17 day from three-point land made things tough for Miami in the loss.

The fourth and final game between the teams took place on March 12th in Toronto. This is the aforementioned game that Wade missed. Toronto would win 112-104 in overtime as Miami struggled to have enough without its All-Star leader.

Without Bosh, Miami will need to continue to rely on the solid play of players such as Luol Deng and Joe Johnson. In previous games against the Raptors, Bosh was a strong presence as he made statements against his former club.

Raptors star Kyle Lowry struggled with his shooting in the first round, but remains one of the NBA's best. The Heat will need to keep Lowry quiet to improve their chances of advancing. When Lowry finds his rhythm on offense, Toronto becomes a much stronger adversary.

The first two games of the series will take place in Toronto with the Raptors holding home-court advantage. After opening the series on Tuesday, the teams will play every other day the rest of the way. Miami will host the third and fourth games. If necessary, the teams will alternate the final three games with Toronto hosting a possible seventh game.

The series will begin on Tuesday at 8:00 p.m.

Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[What Makes a Triple Crown-Winning Horse?]]> Mon, 02 May 2016 11:06:06 -0400 http://media.nbcmiami.com/images/213*120/GettyImages-480966886.jpg

"The 37-year wait is over! American Pharaoh is finally the one! American Pharoah has won the Triple Crown!"

Those words from famed horse racing announcer Larry Collmus at last year's Belmont Stakes marked the end of a nearly four-decade drought, and thrust horse racing into the national spotlight.

American Pharaoh's gallop into the history books has left many wondering if there could be another Triple Crown winner this year. It's certainly possible, but experts say it will take a horse with the right combination of pedigree, training and versatility - and a little luck wouldn't hurt.

The Triple Crown of horse racing — winning the Kentucky Derby, Preakness Stakes and Belmont Stakes — is the pinnacle for 3-year-old thoroughbreds.

A mere 12 colts have achieved the feat since Sir Barton swept the series in 1919, and only once in all of American racing history has the trifecta occurred in consecutive years.

Of course, there have been some near-misses.

Between 1979 — after Affirmed won the Triple Crown in 1978 — and 2015, 13 horses managed to clinch the Derby and Preakness races, only to be stopped on their quest at the Belmont Stakes.

At 1 and 1/2 miles (12 furlong), the third jewel of the Triple Crown is the longest race track in the United States. Richard Migliore, a former jockey and racing analyst for the New York Racing Association, notes race horses that compete at Belmont “probably have never, and will never, run that distance again."

"Thoroughbreds today are bred for speed, not stamina, so they are too fatigued to keep up the pace required to win the Belmont," Migliore said, adding that many of the contenders at Belmont don't compete in the previous two races and are well-rested.

Over the years, many have called on a change in the racing schedule, while others, including the owner of California Chrome, said the pool for the three races should be limited to the horses that enter the Kentucky Derby.

"Because it had been so long since Affirmed won the Triple Crown, most people thought that this was getting close to impossible to do, it was too much to ask a horse to do," said NBC horse racing reporter Kenny Rice.

The Triple Crown schedule is grueling. It is difficult for a horse shipped around the country to endure the rigor of the journey after a strenuous race and not become ornery.

But then came American Pharoah. As Collmus so aptly put it in the final yards of the Belmont on June 6, he was "finally the one" – the one who could indeed win three races, at three tracks, in three different states, at three different distances, in the span of five weeks.

"That's why it separates the great ones. I think that's why I like the Triple Crown as is, because when you win it, you're a great horse," Rice says. "You may have a little bit of racing luck along the way, but it's not a fluke. That's why I think all the horses that have won the triple crown are special horses."

There are many factors, tangible and intangible, that combine in the making of a great racehorse, and experts have varying opinions on what those attributes are.

Some point to pedigree. Many champion horses carry elite genes.

American Pharaoh, for example, carries the bloodlines of three Triple Crown champions: Count Fleet, War Admiral and Secretariat. On the other hand, Affirmed came from modest genes that didn't trace back to a Triple Crown winner. Its sire didn't produce anything of exceptional merit after Affirmed, and his 1978 Triple Crown rival Alydar was considered a superior breeding source, according to BloodHorse's Avalyn Hunter.

"When Affirmed went to stud in 1980, he was competing with fellow Triple Crown winners Secretariat and Seattle Slew, but many horsemen considered his rival Alydar much likelier to make a top sire given his deep female family," Hunter said.

Others attribute a race horse's success to premiere training. Owners seek elite stakes-winning trainers to get their 2-year-old thoroughbreds in peak 3-year-old Derby shape.

Much like March Madness, each stop on the road to the Kentucky Derby will determine who will earn enough points and prove worthy of a spot in the starting gate at Churchill Downs. Purse leaders like trainers Todd Pletcher, Steve Asmussen, Kiaran McLaughlin, Doug O'Neill and Bob Baffert have a track record of starting horses at the Derby.

But whether it's genes, quality training, mental constitution or just pure luck, one characteristic they all seem to agree upon is versatility.

"All the triple crown winners standout because they rose above any obstacles, avoided anything in their way — in this case other horses — and that's what we saw last year. That's how good American Pharaoh was. He could run at the front, he could run near the front. He had different gears that, when he needed to shift, he could. I think that's what the next horse that wins the Triple Crown is going to have to do."

There are no certainties in horse racing, but Migliore believes at least one horse competing in the 142nd Kentucky Derby is showing that ability.

"Nyquist has shown he is not a one dimensional horse. As a 2-year-old and in his Derby prep races, he's been forced ridiculously wide and has demonstrated that he can shift and win," Migliore said.

The champion thoroughbred will enter the starting gate at Churchill on May 7 as a favorite with an undefeated record. Rice says Nyquist's Florida Derby victory over rival Mohaymen was "the most impressive of the Triple Crown prep races."

Another front-runner, ranking second on the Associated Press' Run for the Roses Top 10 list, is Gun Runner. The colt, trained by Steve Asmussem, is an odds favorite having established a points lead over the field.

Santa Anita Derby winner Exxagerator is also a top contender. Exaggerator was one of the most accomplished 2-year-olds in 2015 and a close runner-up to champion Nyquist in the San Vicente S. at Santa Anita in his seasonal debut. He won the 1 1/8-mile Santa Anita Derby race by a widening 6 1/4 lengths, placing himself squarely in the middle of the Kentucky Derby picture. 

The final lineup of the 20 Kenutcky Derby contenders has yet to be announced and only time will tell if a Triple Crown winner is among them. 

Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Black Cat Slips Onto NHL Rink]]> Mon, 02 May 2016 12:02:13 -0400 http://media.nbcmiami.com/images/213*120/IMG_9617.jpg

The San Jose Sharks got an unexpected visit Friday.

Before the NHL team beat the Nashville Predators 5-2 at the SAP Center, a black cat crept out of the player bench area and scurried onto the ice.

As the Sharks warmed up for the first game of their best-of-seven playoff series, fans watched the small feline making a beeline for an oversized, fiberglass shark head, only to escape under the seats at "the Shark Tank," as the arena is known.

The venue’s staff was able to safely rescue the cat and dubbed it Joe Paw-velski, after Sharks captain Joe Pavelski, the team announced Sunday.

"The amount of interest generated by Joe's appearance and those wishing to adopt him has been overwhelming," said Sharks Chief Operating Officer John Tortora in a statement.

Joe has been taken to a local animal shelter to undergo a health examination, the team said. Staff will also investigate whether the cat has a microchip, in the hopes of reuniting it with its owner.

"If he is indeed a stray, our goal is to find the best home for him with the support of our local animal shelters," Tortora said. "If families are interested in adopting Joe but unsuccessful, we strongly encourage you to consider adopting another animal in need of a good home from one of our terrific local animal shelters."

Photo Credit: San Jose Sharks
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<![CDATA[Marlins Allow 14 Runs as Win Streak Ends]]> Sun, 01 May 2016 17:53:26 -0400 http://media.nbcmiami.com/images/213*120/GettyImages-526912014.jpg

The Miami Marlins fell to the Milwaukee Brewers by a final score of 14-5 on Sunday to end their winning streak.

The Marlins had won a season-high seven games in a row prior to Sunday's loss. Miami was one win away from tying the franchise record for road wins in a row. Even with this loss, the Marlins ended up going 7-3 on the ten game road trip. Miami is .500 on the season and in fourth place in the National League East.

Tom Koehler started the series finale and had a rough time. The right-hander allowed 8 runs in 2.1 innings. Koehler walked two and allowed eight hits while compiling zero strikeouts. Koehler's E.R.A is now 7.25 on the season to go with a 2-3 record.

Cody Ege came in to relieve Koehler and allowed all of the right-hander's inherited runners to score. Ege had a rough time on the mound as he also allowed three runs of his own. The lefty gave up a walk and six hits in 1.2 innings and could end up returning to the minor leagues soon.

Marcell Ozuna homered for the second day in a row and now has four this season. Derek Dietrich continued to fill in for Dee Gordon admirably with a two-hit day which included his second triple of the season.

Miami is off on Monday before starting a series at home on Tuesday against the Arizona Diamondbacks. Justin Nicolino is scheduled to be on the mound for the series opener.

Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Panthers' Jagr Named as Finalist for Masterton Trophy]]> Sun, 01 May 2016 16:27:44 -0400 http://media.nbcmiami.com/images/213*120/GettyImages-522214800.jpg

Florida Panthers star Jaromir Jagr was named as a finalist for the 2015-16 Bill Masterton Memorial Trophy on Sunday.

The trophy is presented by the National Hockey League and is described as going to the player who best exemplifies the qualities of perseverance, sportsmanship and dedication to hockey.

Jagr's competition for the trophy is Pascal Dupuis of the Pittsburgh Penguins and Mats Zuccarello of the New York Rangers.

During the season, Jagr led Florida in scoring with 66 points total. The 44-year old had 27 goals and 39 assists. The 27 goals were the most for Jagr since the 2006-07 season when he was with the Rangers. Jagr also became the oldest player in NHL history to eclipse 60 points in a season.

A press release for the trophy's finalists also references Jagr's work with his teammates specifically Aleksander Barkov and Jonathan Huberdeau. Jagr is praised for his work ethic and mentorship of players much younger than him. Barkov and Huberdeau both enjoyed fine seasons playing on the same side as Jagr.

While Jagr was kept quiet in Florida's playoff run, the veteran has shown an interest in a return engagement for the 2016-17 season. The team has also made it known that the interest is mutual. A continued marriage between Jagr and the Panthers is expected though not guaranteed at this point.

The winner of the Masterton Trophy will be announced on June 22nd during the NHL Awards.

Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Heat Advance to Second Round With Easy Win in Game Seven]]> Sun, 01 May 2016 15:22:58 -0400 http://media.nbcmiami.com/images/213*120/GettyImages-526902306.jpg

The Miami Heat beat the Charlotte Hornets 106-73 on Sunday to advance to the second round of the NBA playoffs.

The victory came in the seventh game of the opening round series with the winner advancing and the loser going home. Miami had trailed in the series 3-2 and needed two straight wins to move on. The Heat did just that and now enter the second round with momentum.

Miami took a 12-point lead into the locker room at the half, thanks in part to a huge first half from Goran Dragic. The guard had 17 points in the first half which was more than his average game total thus far in the series. Dragic was active and consistent with his shot attempts.

The Heat would extend their lead all the way to 30 points during the third quarter. Miami saw contributions from nearly every starter both offensively and defensively during the quarter. The Heat would take the 30-point lead into the fourth quarter.

Dragic would end up with a team-high 25 points as well as six rebounds and four assists. The veteran continued his strong play during Miami's big third quarter to help pad the lead. It was easily Dragic's best game of the series, and one of his finest since joining Miami.

Dwyane Wade had a relatively quiet game after his electric work in the final quarter of the previous game. Wade finished this one with 12 points to go along with six rebounds in 25 minutes.

Miami will face either the Indiana Pacers or Toronto Raptors in the second round. The teams are set for their own seventh game on Sunday evening. if the Raptors win, Miami will open up the series in Toronto. If Indiana wins, the Heat will have home-court advantage.

Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Marlins Move Over .500 With Seventh Straight Win]]> Sun, 01 May 2016 10:19:10 -0400 http://media.nbcmiami.com/images/213*120/GettyImages-526659066.jpg

The Miami Marlins have a winning record for the first time since 2014 after beating the Milwaukee Brewers 7-5 on Saturday.

The victory was Miami's seventh in a row and gave the team a 13-12 record on the year. The Marlins clinched a second straight series win, and are now 7-2 on the current road trip with one game to go. This is the first time Miami has been over. 500 since 2014.

The Marlins powered their way to the win with four home runs. Derek Dietrich hit his second home run of the season and did it to start the game. Dietrich hit a lead-off home run which was the first such blast of the season for Miami. The versatile player was making a second straight start at second base, in place of the suspended Dee Gordon.

Adeiny Hechavarria also hit his second home run of the season. The shortstop had a four-hit day after resting in the opener of the series. Hechavarria is now hitting .222 on the season.

Giancarlo Stanton hit his eighth home run of the season and fifth of the week. Stanton now has 19 runs batted in this year, and turned his month around after a prolonged slump to begin the season.

Miami's other home run came courtesy of Marcell Ozuna. The center fielder's HR was his third of the year and was part of a two-hit day. Ozuna is now hitting .235 and continues to hit in the sixth slot of the lineup.

Wei-Yin Chen started the game and came away with the win. Chen lasted 6.2 innings in which he allowed three runs on four hits. The lefty struck out four and walked two. Chen who signed as a free-agent in the off-season now has a 4.26E.R.A this season.

Craig Breslow would come in for Chen in the seventh and let two inherited runs score. Breslow would also also two runs of his own without retiring anyone. Bryan Morris replaced Breslow and ended the inning quickly.

David Phelps worked the ninth to earn his first save of the season.

Miami will look for the sweep and an eighth straight win with Tom Koehler on the mound on Sunday.

Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Heat Force Game Seven With Win in Charlotte]]> Fri, 29 Apr 2016 23:59:41 -0400 http://media.nbcmiami.com/images/213*120/GettyImages-524237298.jpg

The Miami Heat survived and forced a seventh game with their 97-90 win over the Charlotte Hornets on Friday.

The win came in Charlotte's building and gives Miami back its home-court advantage. Much like during the regular season, both teams have won on the road in the series.

Miami held a nine-point lead at halftime thanks mostly to a strong percentage on three-pointers. The Heat shot 80% as a team on treys in the first half and 60 percent overall on their field goal attempts.

The third quarter featured very competitive basketball with Charlotte ending up with a four-point advantage. Miami would take a five-point lead into the final quarter of play.

Miami stretched its lead to nine in the fourth quarter, but Charlotte would fight back. With roughly five minutes to go, the deficit was only four and Miami was forced to take a timeout. The Heat looked better after those few minutes and were able to put the game away.

Dwyane Wade led Miami in scoring with his 23 points. The All-Star also added six rebounds and four assists. Wade would hit two big baskets down the final stretch as well.

Once again, all of Miami's starters reached double digits in points. The team did a great job of moving the ball and involving everyone. Miami as a team had 13 assists, and every starter with the exception of Hassan Whiteside had at least one assist.

The Heat and Hornets will head back to Miami for the seventh and final game of the series on Sunday.

Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Philly's 'Steph Curry'-Brand Heroin]]> Fri, 29 Apr 2016 17:25:38 -0400 http://media.nbcmiami.com/images/213*120/steph+curry+heroin+cp.jpg

Basketball superstar Steph Curry seems to be everywhere these days. At the White House with President Obama, on the cover of a parenting magazine and now on a brand of heroin.

SEPTA police confiscated a set of heroin-filled dime bags emblazoned with Curry's name and face in Philadelphia's Kensington neighborhood on Tuesday.

The stamp, as the branding is called, is like a logo drug dealers use to market the potent opioid to drug-addicted people. They can be named after companies (like Facebook), objects, feelings, or in Curry's case, people. These stamps come and go quickly, with dozens being sold at a time across the area, narcotics officers say.

NBC10 explored the tragic world of heroin and opioid addiction in the Philadelphia area and beyond in the in-depth investigation, Generation Addicted. Learn more about the issues people face and the new strategies being employed to help people get treatment here.

A SEPTA police officer came across the Curry stamp after stopping an 18-year-old man at Kensington Avenue and Somerset Street around 7:45 p.m. Tuesday, SEPTA Police Chief Thomas Nestel said.

The officer stopped the Hammonton, New Jersey, man after seeing blood on his hands, Nestel said. He was arrested and the drugs were taken as evidence.

Nestel tagged the Golden State Warriors point guard when tweeting a photo of the drugs saying: "Thinking Steph Curry wouldn't be happy that he is this week's brand for heroin in Philly."

That's probably an understatement.

NBC10 reached out to Curry's reps to get his thoughts about the stamp, but we haven't heard back. A spokeswoman for the Golden State Warriors had no comment.

Photo Credit: SEPTA Police Chief Thomas Nestel]]>
<![CDATA[US Synchro Swimmers]]> Mon, 02 May 2016 17:03:31 -0400 http://media.nbcmiami.com/images/213*120/0427-2016-SynchroSwimmers.jpg

Synchronized swimming, or synchro for short, has been called the most difficult sport in the Olympic Games.

This year, Anita Alvarez and Mariya Koroleva will be the only swimmers representing the United States in synchronized swimming during the summer games in Rio.

At 9 years old, Koroleva emigrated to the United States from Russia, took up synchro and became so good she swam for Stanford University and competed in the 2012 Olympic Games in London.

"You have to show up every day and you have to be on your best game every day, even if you're not feeling well," she said. "You have to push through it."

Alvarez, 19, has synchronized swimming in her blood. Her mother is a former synchro athlete and a current coach. Both athletes said they gave up traditional upbringings to become fierce competitors.

The duo's coach, Lolli Montico, said the athletes are training from 7 a.m. until 5 p.m. This will be Montico's third Olympics coaching synchro swimmers.

Montico said the Olympic-caliber swimmers must have two things: legs and attitude.

"Beautiful shapes of the legs — it's so important in synchro," Montico said. "It's the attitude. Attitude is everything."

Koroleva cannot wait for Rio, when all of the hard work is rewarded.

Photo Credit: NBC Bay Area]]>
<![CDATA[Tunsil Attends Press Conference After 'Allergic Reaction']]> Sat, 30 Apr 2016 11:11:32 -0400 http://media.nbcmiami.com/images/213*120/042916+laremy+tunsil+presser.jpg

The Miami Dolphins think they got the second best player in the NFL draft with the 13th pick. But there's a catch. A big, bizarre, controversial catch.

Just before Thursday's NFL Draft, a video was tweeted from the official account of Ole Miss Offensive Linemen Laremy Tunsil. The video shows him smoking from a gas mask bong.

The tweet and account were subsequently deleted, and Tunsil's agent has stated that the OT's account was hacked.

As the video went viral, team after team passed on drafting Tunsil, who was previously projected to be the first overall pick by some analysts. It's estimated the drop cost him millions in salary.

That is, until it was the Dolphins' turn. The Fins selected Tunsil with the 13th overall draft pick.

Miami said they were comfortable with Tunsil's character, saying they'd researched him and had him take personality tests.

"We did not expect him to be there (at #13)," said Dolphins General Manager Chris Grier.

At the Dolphins official draft party at Nova Southeastern University, fans were stunned they got Tunsil too. But many of them didn't realize why he slipped until we showed them the gas mask video.

He was asked if he has a drug problem he said no. And to those who question if the Dolphins can trust him? "Don't question my character," Tunsil said. "You can't judge a book by its cover. I'm a good person"

Tunsil said he was hacked on Twitter and did not specify who did it, adding he does not intend to press charges.

At a Friday press conference where the Dolphins were expected to introduce him, Tunsil was a no-show. Team officials said he couldn't attend due to an allergic reaction.

"There were some mistakes he had made in his past, we were comfortable with that, all the research we had done," Dolphins VP of football operations Mike Tannenbaum said. " We are comfortable with his character, very comfortable with Laremy, the player and the person."

Tunsil attended a later press conference where he said he was feeling better.

"The doctors took care of me so I'm good," he said.

Tunsil mostly avoided questions about the controversy surrounding the video.

"I'm excited to be here, it's a blessed opportunity just to be in the NFL, just to be a part of the Miami Dolphins organization," he said.

Photo Credit: NBC6.com]]>
<![CDATA[Marlins Nearly No-Hit Brewers in Sixth Straight Win]]> Fri, 29 Apr 2016 23:40:03 -0400 http://media.nbcmiami.com/images/213*120/GettyImages-526199756.jpg

The Miami Marlins were only two outs away from no-hitting the Milwaukee Brewers in their 6-3 win on Friday.

The win was Miami's sixth in a row and the team is now 6-2 on the road trip with two games remaining. The no-hitter would have been the sixth in franchise history.

Miami is now .500 for the third time this year. The previous two times saw Miami lose the following day. the Marlins have not been over .500 since 2014. If Miami can reach that elusive point, it would mean a seventh straight win and another series victory.

Conley was brilliant in the victory with 7.2 no-hit innings. The lefty was taken out of the game with the no-hitter still intact due to a pitch count of 116. Not wanting to risk injury, manager Don Mattingly elected to lift Conley with one out remaining in the eighth inning. Conley finished with seven strikeouts and four walks in the win.

Urena would take over for Conley looking for four outs to complete Miami's no-hitter. Urena would get the first two outs before a soft bloop landed in right field with one out in the ninth. Urena would end up giving up three more hits as well as three runs.

With the lead down to only three, Mattingly turned to A.J. Ramos for the save with two outs in the ninth. Ramos would end the game and pick up his seventh save of the season.

Justin Bour was most of the offense for Miami in the win. The first baseman hit two home runs and also doubled. Five of Miami's runs were brought home by the slugger. Bour now has three home runs and 12 runs batted in on the season.

This marked the first game for Miami without Dee Gordon who is serving an 80-game suspension. Derek Dietrich started at second base while Ichiro Suzuki led off. Suzuki was playing in place of Giancarlo Stanton who was given the day off. Miami also rested J.T. Realmuto and Adeiny Hechavarria. It was just a day of rest for all three players after an early-morning arrival in Milwaukee.

Suzuki made some more history with the 500th stolen base of his career. The All-Star also added two hits and is now only 55 away from 3,000 in his career.

Wei-Yin Chen will get the ball on Saturday as Miami looks for a seventh straight win.

Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Marlins' Gordon Suspended 80 Games for PED Violation]]> Fri, 29 Apr 2016 13:19:50 -0400 http://media.nbcmiami.com/images/213*120/GettyImages-519277774.jpg

Miami Marlins second baseman Dee Gordon was suspended for 80 games for a performance-enhancing drug violation on Friday.

Major League Baseball in announcing the suspension stated that Gordon tested positive for testosterone and clostebol. Gordon must begin the suspension immediately and will forfeit roughly $1.65 million in salary.

Gordon released a statement on Friday morning in regards to the suspension.

"Though I did not do so knowingly, I have been informed that test results showed I ingested something that contained prohibited substances. The hardest part about this is feeling that I have let down my teammates, the organization and the fans," Gordon said. "I have been careful to avoid products that could contain something banned by MLB and the 20+ tests that I have taken and passed throughout my career prove this. I made a mistake and I accept the consequences."

This is a crushing blow to the Marlins who are coming off a four-game sweep of the Los Angeles Dodgers on the road. Miami has won five games in a row and has turned its season around in a hurry. It will be difficult to continue that momentum now without Gordon.

Miami's manager Don Mattingly knows Gordon well as the two spent time together in Los Angeles before Miami. Mattingly had some thoughts on the suspension following the win in Los Angeles.

"These guys love Dee, and we're going to support him," Mattingly said. "I feel like Dee's one of my kids, to be honest with you, because I've known him so long. So we're going to love him, and then we're going to support him. He's been a big part of the success that we've had."

Team president David Samson also commented on Gordon's suspension and let it be known that Miami is disappointed.

"Dee Gordon is a very important part of our team, and we all love him and support him," Marlins president David Samson said. "That said, I don't like or condone what he did. He is an important member of this organization and will be for many years to come. It's a huge, huge disappointment to the kids, to our fans, to his teammates and to everyone in our organization every single day."

Miami is off to Milwaukee now for a series with the Brewers. Derek Dieitrich is the likely beneficiary of Gordon's suspension.

Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Dolphins Select Laremy Tunsil in First Round]]> Thu, 28 Apr 2016 21:58:14 -0400 http://media.nbcmiami.com/images/213*120/512485362-Laremy-Tunsil-nfl-combine.jpg

The Miami Dolphins selected offensive tackle Laremy Tunsil with their first round pick in the NFL draft on Thursday.

Miami selected Tunsil with the 13th overall pick after days of speculation that the team may move up. The Dolphins opted to stay in their slot and go with Tunsil. After seeing other teams move up at a high cost, Miami may have felt it wasn't worth the price to change slots.

Tunsil who attended Ole Miss was a projected first overall pick by some, but off the field issues made Tunsil drop. Minutes before the draft began, a tweet appeared on Tunsil's twitter account showing a man wearing a gas mask and smoking. The tweet and account were subsequently deleted. Tunsil's agent has stated that the OT's account was hacked.

There is no question that Tunsil is a very talented player who can be a difference maker for any team. The teams ahead of Miami chose to not take the risk of drafting Tunsil, but Miami evidently felt the potential reward outweighed the risk.

The Dolphins entered the draft with multiple needs including running back, linebacker and cornerback. Up until its choice was announced, it was possible that Miami could go in any of those directions with the pick. Those needs could be filled later in the draft.

If the Dolphins can't find suitable pieces with their other picks, they could opt to go with what they have. While Miami has been very active in its hunt for a RB, the team has been complimentary of Jay Ajayi in recent days. Ajayi could end up playing a bigger role than many anticipated.

Miami's other picks barring trades are 42nd, 73rd, 107th, 147th, 186th, 227th and 231rd overall.

Photo Credit: Getty Images, file]]>
<![CDATA[Best Style Moves from the NFL Draft Red Carpet]]> Fri, 29 Apr 2016 09:07:34 -0400 http://media.nbcmiami.com/images/213*120/GettyImages-525682684-elliott.jpg See all the best shots from the 2016 NFL Draft red carpet in Chicago, Illinois, on Thursday, April 28, 2016.

Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Kentucky Derby: Test Your Horse Race Knowledge]]> Tue, 03 May 2016 09:27:34 -0400 http://media.nbcmiami.com/images/213*120/AP_522153153543.jpg

The 142nd running of the Kentucky Derby will be held May 7 at Churchill Downs, featuring spectacular hats, plenty of bourbon and some of the fastest thoroughbreds in the world. 

Known as the "Greatest Two Minutes in Sports," the Derby is steeped in tradition and style. Grab a mint julep and a Derby hat and test your knowledge of the race with the quiz below.

Photo Credit: AP]]>
<![CDATA[Heat On Brink of Elimination After Loss at Home]]> Wed, 27 Apr 2016 22:44:57 -0400 http://media.nbcmiami.com/images/213*120/GettyImages-525152962.jpg

The Miami Heat are one loss from elimination after falling 90-88 to the Charlotte Hornets on Wednesday.

With roughly 20 seconds to go, Miami had the ball in Dwayne Wade's hands. The All-Star would go to the basket, but no foul was called despite some apparent contact. With 2.6 seconds left, the Hornets took over possession of the ball. Charlotte would go on to win when the Heat did not foul the Hornets as the clock ran out.

Charlotte took a two-point lead into the locker room at the half. Both teams had solid runs during the first two quarters and exchanged the lead multiple times. Entering this one, Charlotte had not led in Miami for a second in the series.

After being dominated in the first two games of the series, the Hornets looked much better in this one. Coming off two wins in a row at home, Charlotte appeared more confident despite playing on the road.

Miami would outscore Charlotte by eight points in the third quarter to take a six-point lead into the fourth. In that final quarter, the teams exchanged baskets and stayed close all the way to the end.

All five of Miami's starters reached double digits in points. This is something that happened multiple times down the final stretch of the season. The Heat are at their best when winning as a team with contributions from everyone. In this one, the effort just fell short however.

Dwyane Wade led Miami with 25 points and also added four assists with five rebounds. Wade turned the ball over five times, but did plenty of positive things when he maintained possession.

Joe Johnson had a solid game himself with 13 points and two steals. Miami was +13 with Johnson on the court which was easily the best number on the Heat.

The teams will head back to Charlotte for the sixth game of the series on Friday with a start time to be announced.

Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[US Women's Hoop Team Named]]> Wed, 27 Apr 2016 18:16:29 -0400 http://media.nbcmiami.com/images/213*120/2016++Olympic+sue+bird.jpg

The 2016 U.S. Olympic women’s basketball team will have a strong connection to the University of Connecticut.

UConn head women’s basketball coach Geno Auriemma is the head coach of the U.S. Olympic team and several of its members have played for him at Storrs.

UConn alums Sue Bird, of the Seattle Storm, and Diana Taurasi, of the Phoenix Mercury, are two of the three captains leading the team. Tamika Catchings, of Indiana Fever, is the other captain.

Former UConn players and 2012 Olympic gold medalists Tina Charles, of the New York Liberty, and Maya Moore, of the Minnesota Lynx, will be back, and UConn star Breanna Stewart is joining the team for the first time.

Another first-time member of the team is Elena Delle Donne, of the Chicago Sky, who was briefly a UConn Husky.

The 2016 U.S. Olympic Team also includes two-time Olympic gold medalists Seimone Augustus and Sylvia Fowles, both of the Minnesota Lynx, as well as 2012 Olympic gold medalists Angel McCoughtry, of the Atlanta Dream, and Lindsay Whalen, of the Minnesota Lynx.

Brittney Griner, of the Phoenix Mercury, is another first-time Olympian.

USA Basketball Women’s National Team Player Selection Committee has chosen the team, which is pending approval by the USOC.

“Obviously it’s always incredibly difficult to try to identify 12 players from a group of so many great players,” Auriemma said in a statement posted on the USA Basketball Web site.

He has led the USA National Team to a 23-0 record and gold medals at the 2012 Olympic Games and the 2010 and 2014 FIBA World Championships.

“The committee had a really difficult job this year, because it's the first time in a long time that a lot more than 12 players could easily have been named to that team. But the 12 that were named are a great combination of Olympic gold-medal experience, multiple gold medal winners and great leaders,” Auriemma said in a statement.

He said an influx of young players will be a great benefit this year and will set the stage going forward.

“They will be the future of the USA Basketball Women's National Team,” he said.

DePaul University’s Doug Bruno, the Minnesota Lynx’ Cheryl Reeve and University of South Carolina’s Dawn Staley will assist Auriemma during the 2016 Olympic Games.

The 2016 Olympic Games will be held from Aug. 5 to 21 in Rio de Janeiro.

Photo Credit: Sean M. Haffey/Getty Image]]>
<![CDATA[Visualizing the Olympics: Medal Counts & More]]> Tue, 03 May 2016 15:54:26 -0400 http://media.nbcmiami.com/images/213*120/GettyImages-149332217-edited.jpg

Photo Credit: Getty Images, file
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<![CDATA[Multiple Dolphins Defensive Starters Skip Minicamp]]> Tue, 26 Apr 2016 20:36:50 -0400 http://media.nbcmiami.com/images/213*120/GettyImages-459946802.jpg

The Miami Dolphins were without four defensive starters at their minicamp on Tuesday for a myriad of reasons.

The minicamp is voluntary and the players will not face any disciplinary action. Of more concern for Miami is the reason that one of the players was absent. The four players who were missing in action were Reshad Jones, Ndamukong Suh, Mario Williams and Koa Misi.

Williams and Misi missed the minicamp for personal reasons. Suh didn't attend as is customary for him. The veteran traditionally skips voluntary minicamps dating back to his days with the Detrout Lions. Jones did not attend for contractual reasons, according to the Miami Herald.

Jones is entering the third year of a four-year deal with Miami and reportedly wants a new contract. The Dolphins can wait it out and see if Jones possibly changes his mind. Jones is able to be absent without penalty until June. At that point, Miami would be able to fine the safety.

While it is common for players to miss voluntary minicamps, Miami was likely hoping for full attendance this time around. The team is moving into a new chapter with head coach Adam Gase. Miami is hoping to end a long playoff drought and extra time with the new coaching staff can only benefit the team.

On a positive note, Cameron Wake attended Tuesday's workout. The veteran is returning from an Achilles injury. Wake's decision to attend the minicamp sat well with at least one teammate.

“He's definitely a vet in this league. He's been playing at a high level for a long period of time. He leads by example. He's the type of player you follow,” said Andre Branch.

Wake was limited in practice as he is still recovering from the injury. He should be able to participate more as time goes on.

Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Road to Rio: Join in Olympic Fever 100 Days Out]]> Thu, 28 Apr 2016 10:59:25 -0400 http://media.nbcmiami.com/images/213*120/gymnasts-olympics.jpg

The Rio Olympics are only 100 days away, and the buzz is all about who will represent Team USA.

While many athletes have earned their spots and a chance to bring home the gold, others will be vying for a place on the team over the coming weeks when swimming, gymnastics and other sports hold trials.

Golf returns to the Olympics after an absence of more than a century, and the sports world is full of predictions about who will be teeing off for the United States. But with each team limited to four players, many favorites will be staying home.

Then there is the Zika virus, which the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention just concluded is causing microcephaly and other birth defects. Brazil’s health ministry has been working to ease visitors’ fears, but some athletes are weighing whether to give the Rio Games a pass.

As 10,500 athletes from across the globe prepare to compete in the first Olympics to be held in South America, here are some ways to follow along now:

Watch America's best earn a trip to Rio

Many spots on Team USA won't be finalized until the just before the Opening Ceremony. Trials for some of the most popular events — including swimming and diving, track and field and gymnastics — have yet to be held. 

That means you can watch your favorite athletes battle for a trip to Rio de Janeiro. On the calendar in June: diving in Indianapolis from June 18-26, men’s gymnastics in St. Louis from June 24-26, and swimming in Omaha, Nebraska, from June 26 to July 3.

On the calendar in July: track and field in Eugene, Oregon, from July 1-10, and women’s gymnastics in San Jose, California, from July 8-10.

So far, about 100 athletes have qualified in sports from boxing to wrestling. By the time August arrives, more than 500 athletes will have made the team. NBC Olympics is keeping track of the competitors here.

Pentathlete Nathan Schrimsher became the first official member of the U.S. Olympic team last July when he finished third in the 2015 Pan American Games. The 23-year-old will compete in the Olympics for the first time. The modern Olympic pentathlon consists of swimming, fencing, riding and a combination of running and shooting.

In the qualifying marathon in Los Angeles in February, Galen Rupp, Meb Keflezighi and Jared Ward won the top three places for the men, and Amy Cragg, Desi Linden and Shalane Flanagan for the women.

Triathletes Gwen Jorgensen and Sarah True have snagged spots, as have Yue Jennifer Wu, a table tennis competitor, and Jordan Wilimovsky, Sean Ryan and Haley Anderson, all open water swimmers.

At the London 2012 Games, American women outnumbered American men in total medals and gold medals, and they are expected to dominate again in Rio. The U.S. women’s teams are world champions in basketball, gymnastics, soccer, volleyball and water polo, and all eyes are on Claressa Shields, the first American woman to win Olympic gold in boxing at the London Games; gymnast Simone Biles, three-time world all-around champion; swimmer Katie Ledecky, an Olympic gold medalist at 15; and tennis star Serena Williams. 

In basketball, the final names for men’s and women’s teams will be announced by July 18. Among the finalists are LeBron James -- though he says he is undecided about Rio -- and Carmelo Anthony for the men’s team, and Diana Taurasi and Sue Bird, both three-time gold medalists, for the women’s.

The U.S. women’s soccer team qualified for the Games, though the men’s team failed to, and its roster also must be announced by July 18.

And U.S. women’s water polo team goes to the Games as the reigning Olympic gold medalists. The team qualified by finishing in the top four in a tournament in March in the Netherlands, where it went undefeated and outscored opponents 123-35.

Who won’t be going?

Some of the country’s top stars will not be making the trip, sidelined by injuries and for other reasons.

Kobe Bryant announced he would not play in Rio after retiring from the Los Angeles Lakers because he thought it was a younger man’s turn to play. Chris Paul of the Los Angeles Clippers also withdrew from consideration, while New Orleans Pelicans star Anthony Davis was forced out by knee and shoulder injuries.

In soccer, Sydney Leroux and Megan Rapinoe were both on the U.S. women’s World Cup team, but they will not be in Rio. Leroux is pregnant and Rapinoe is injured. Goalkeeper Hope Solo said in February that she would skip Rio if the games were being held then because of her fears of Zika.

Zika virus continues to be a worry

The CDC released travel guidelines that urge talking to your health provider about recommended vaccines and medicines, packing a health kit and monitoring travel warnings from the U.S. Department of State. Women who are pregnant or trying to become pregnant should take special precautions.

Much is still being learned about the virus, which has been linked to birth defects and which researchers have discovered can be transmitted sexually, not just through mosquito bites.

In February, the head of the World Health Organization praised the Brazilian government for its handling of the outbreak, but warned the situation could get worse before it gets better. Brazil has stressed that the mosquito population is much lower in August, the country’s winter.

Golf's Olympic comeback

Golf returns for the first time since 1904, when only the United States and Canada competed — and a Canadian won the individual gold.

Among the United States’ best prospects: Jordan Spieth, Bubba Watson, Dustin Johnson and Rickie Fowler.

But some of the world's top players have said they will be giving the Games a pass. Vijay Singh, from Fiji, was the first to say he would not play. South Africa’s Louis Oosthuizen and Charl Schwartzel have pulled out, citing family and scheduling issues, and Adam Scott of Australia also pointed to a busy schedule when he said he would skip Rio.

Golf’s crowded schedule of championships has been a concern for players, but golf legend Jack Nicklaus is worried about the message they send by withdrawing.

“If the guys don't want to participate, then we might not be in the Olympics after this,” he told Golf Digest. “They vote next year. And if they vote to keep golf in, then that's great, but if not then we lose that momentum with growing the game.”

Before the vote to reinstate golf — 72 holes of stroke play for 60 men and 60 women — superstar Michelle Wie and champion Padraig Harrington urged their sport’s inclusion before the International Olympic Committee. But the vote covered only 2016 and 2020; another vote will be held next year to decide if it will be back in 2024.

Rugby also makes a comeback

The last time rugby was played at the Olympics, in 1924, the United States took the title. It won the gold four years earlier too.

Both the U.S. men’s and women’s teams have qualified for Rio.

The teams will play Rugby Sevens, a variant of Rugby Union, in which each team is made up of seven players instead of the usual 15. The rugby last featured at the Olympics was the 15-side version.

Michael Phelps will swim for the USA for the last time

In his final Games, Phelps will become the first U.S. male swimmer to compete in five Olympics. The most decorated Olympic competitor ever, he has won 18 gold medals, plus two silver and two bronze.

His return follows his second drunk driving arrest two years ago and a stint in rehab. He was suspended for six months from USA Swimming but returned to the pool last spring.

Jillian Macdonald and Nick Zaccardi contributed information to this article.

Photo Credit: Getty Images
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<![CDATA[NFL Team Wants Supreme Court to Take Trademark Case]]> Tue, 26 Apr 2016 04:42:48 -0400 http://media.nbcmiami.com/images/213*120/GettyImages-453831984.jpg

The Washington Redskins want the Supreme Court to take up their trademark battle with the government over whether their name is offensive, which could jeopardize whether the team can make money from the name.

The case, in which the U.S. Patent Office found the name was derogatory to Native Americans, is supposed to be heard by a Richmond appeals court. But according to court documents reviewed by NBC News, lawyers for the team want the Supreme Court to intervene.

Attorneys said the high court may take up a similar case from a rock band fighting a battle over their name, The Slants, which the founder says reclaims a slur against Asians; the attorneys want the two cases heard together, since they may hinge on the same 1946 law.

The Redskins' legal battle started last year when the U.S. Patent and Trademark office rejected the Redskins trademark, agreeing with five Native American people who said the name is offensive. 

The patent ruling, if upheld, would not mean the team must change its name, only that it could not protect its trademark from others using it.

Photo Credit: Getty Images, file]]>
<![CDATA[Hornets Take Advantage of Sloppy Heat to Tie Series]]> Mon, 25 Apr 2016 21:43:46 -0400 http://media.nbcmiami.com/images/213*120/GettyImages-524237304.jpg

The Miami Heat turned the ball over often in their 89-85 loss to the Charlotte Hornets on Monday.

The loss by Miami allowed Charlotte to tie the series at 2-2. It was the second straight win for Charlotte and the home team has won every game thus far in the series. With three games remaining, all Miami has to do is win its home games to advance to the second round.

Miami will need to do a better job of holding onto the ball if it wants to advance. The Heat turned the ball over 17 times in the loss.

Charlotte took a nine-point lead into the locker room at the half in what was just the beginning of a strong run. The Hornets would continue their dominant stretch when the second half began. All told, Charlotte went on an extended 36-8 run and was up 18 at one point.

Following the run from Charlotte, the Heat would go on a run of their own. Miami's 17-1 run helped cut the deficit to two and make it a game again late into the third quarter. Miami was able to go on its run even without the services of Goran Dragic who was on the bench due to foul trouble. Charlotte went on a 7-0 run to end the third quarter and led by four.

In the fourth quarter, the game went down to the wire and rebounding became an issue. Charlotte picked up multiple big rebounds in the final seconds for second-chance points. One of the boards came with under five seconds to go and led to two game-clinching foul shots.

The series will head back to Miami for a fifth game on Wednesday with a scheduled start time of 8:00 p.m.

Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Feats of Architecture: 11 Summer Olympic Stadiums]]> Wed, 27 Apr 2016 14:49:39 -0400 http://media.nbcmiami.com/images/180*120/GettyImages-508730980-nrazil.jpg Cities that host the Olympics spend millions or billions of dollars building stadiums. The Bird's Nest in Beijing is among the most unique, but all of them are impressive. Take a look at venues from the most recent Summer Olympic Games as we gear up for the upcoming Olympics in Rio de Janeiro.

Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Decades After Chernobyl, Another Chance for Paralympian ]]> Tue, 26 Apr 2016 10:32:24 -0400 http://media.nbcmiami.com/images/213*120/AP_16113695576026-oksana.jpg

There was no stuffed animal to hug. Constant hunger pains. Hope that a mom would show up and rescue her.

Those were some of the memories that flooded back when Paralympian Oksana Masters recently returned to Ukraine, where she spent her first seven and a half years shuttled among three orphanages. Masters visited with orphaned children that stared at her with an "Are you here to adopt me?" gaze.

Two decades ago, that face was hers.

She was adopted by an American woman who took in a malnourished Masters with birth defects believed to be from the aftermath of the Chernobyl nuclear reactor accident. On the 30th anniversary of Chernobyl this week, Masters is now in a much different place.

She's become a three-time Paralympic medalist in rowing and cross-country skiing, with her sights now set on making the cycling squad for the Rio de Janeiro Paralympic Games later this summer. She's appeared in ESPN The Magazine Body Issue.

Above all else: She has a mother.

"My mom literally saved my life," the 26-year-old Masters said recently before a training session at the U.S. Olympic Training Center. "I wasn't supposed to make it out of the orphanage."

Her journey began because of a black-and-white photo that Gay Masters saw through a Ukrainian adoption notebook. That picture of Oksana — circa age 5 — captured the heart of a speech pathologist who was teaching in Buffalo, New York, at the time. Oksana was born with webbed fingers, no thumbs, six toes on each foot, deformed legs, one kidney and only parts of her stomach.

She was perfect. The match was perfect.

Adopting her, though, was quite a saga. With the Ukrainian government placing a moratorium on foreign adoptions, Gay Masters had to wait 2½ years to bring her home. She sent care packages all the time, stuffed with teddy bears and other treats.

The little girl never got them.

She simply thought she was on her own again. That is, until one night at 11:30 p.m., with all the paperwork finally approved, Gay arrived to take her new daughter home.

"The adoption agency kept saying, 'You can go to Russia and get a baby now,'" Gay said in a phone interview from her home in Louisville, Kentucky, where they moved when Oksana was a teenager. 

"But that was my daughter. I couldn't abandon her."

At the time, the child weighed about 35 pounds — healthy for a 3-year-old, not so much for someone who was nearly 8.

"I know friends who didn't make it out and died," she said. "I watched that."

The new mom and daughter didn't speak the same language but found a way to communicate through gestures and by pointing at phrases in a book. It didn't take long for them to get on the same page and settle into their new life.

It was around that time when a dentist discovered the root cause of Oksana's birth defects. She was missing the enamel from her teeth due to radiation. Being from the region near Chernobyl, it wasn't hard to make the connection with the world's worst nuclear accident, which occurred on April 26, 1986. They believe her birth mom either lived in an area that was contaminated or ingested produce that was riddled with radiation, leading to in utero radiation poisoning.

"As a child, I didn't think about (Chernobyl) because I didn't know what it was. Being older and educated more what it was, knowing now how it is still affecting that whole area, it's just jaw dropping," said Oksana, who's from Khmelnytskiy in western Ukraine.

She was born with tibial hemimelia, which resulted in different leg lengths. She got by as a child by fusing her ankles so she walked on tippy toes, but her body could no longer support her weight. She had her left leg amputated near the knee at 9 and the right one at the same spot five years later.

About that time, she discovered rowing. The pull of the oars and the push against the water became a release, a "healing from my past," she said. Oksana became good in no time.

Before the 2012 Paralympic Games in London, Gay gave her a replica Olympic medal that once belonged to Gay's parents. She taped it inside the boat for good luck during races. Oksana and her rowing partner, Rob Jones, who lost both legs in an IED explosion in Afghanistan while in the U.S. Marine Corps, wound up with bronze.

"I kept saying: 'Is it really true? Is it really true?'" Gay recalled. "It's just indescribable, how amazing it was."

Two years later in Sochi at the Paralympic Winter Games, Oksana captured silver and bronze in cross-country skiing.

And now onto a new challenge. She's a strong candidate to make the Paralympic cycling squad, with a final opportunity to qualify for the U.S. team in Charlotte, North Carolina, in July.

"I do think about Rio," she said. "I want to be there. But I don't want to get my hopes up."

A coping mechanism from her days in the orphanage: whenever a visitor arrived, they would put her in a dress and place a bow on her head.

"Every child looked at the next person that comes in as, 'Are you going to be my new mom?'" she said. "Every kid wants that."

Going back last October was overwhelming — and therapeutic. She talked with wounded soldiers from the conflict in eastern Ukraine and spent time with children in an orphanage.

"I often look back and just think, 'I can't believe this is my life right now,'" Oksana said.

Photo Credit: AP
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<![CDATA[Panthers Eliminated in Double Overtime]]> Sun, 24 Apr 2016 23:19:46 -0400 http://media.nbcmiami.com/images/213*120/GettyImages-523901312.jpg

The Florida Panthers were eliminated from the playoffs in a 2-1 double overtime loss to the New York Islanders on Sunday.

This marked the second straight double OT game in the series and Florida lost both. The Panthers appeared exhausted at times in the extra periods, and New York had more scoring opportunities. While Roberto Luongo stopped many attempts, the Islanders simply outplayed the Panthers in the extra minutes.

In the first overtime, the teams spent the majority of the time in Florida's zone. In the second OT, the Panthers were able to control the puck a little bit more. Ultimately, Islanders' star John Tavares proved to be too much with both of his team's goals in this one. Tavares ended up with five goals in the series, and most were clutch scores.

Florida's lone score of the game came with roughly a minute left in the first period courtesy of Jonathan Huberdeau. The score was the first of the series for Huberdeau and was assisted on by Vincent Trocheck and Jussi Jokinen.

Luongo ended up with 49 saves in his 51 chances in an exceptional effort. The goalie has an up-and-down series, but did a solid job overall. Florida failed to clear the puck on many occassions, and Luongo was left to defend the net all too often without much help.

The Panthers will now begin their off-season as they look to make a quicker return to the playoffs than the last time around. Florida enjoyed its finsest season ever, but likely needs some improvements to take it all the way.

Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Lakers Split With Byron Scott]]> Mon, 25 Apr 2016 07:05:18 -0400 http://media.nbcmiami.com/images/213*120/Lakers-fire-coach-Byron-Scott.jpg

Los Angeles Lakers had fired head coach Byron Scott after his two seasons in charge of the team led to the two worst seasons in the history of the franchise, Adrian Wojnarowski of Yahoo! Sports was first to report on Sunday. 

Later in the evening, the team confirmed that it had opted not to pick up the option of Scott's contract, effectively vacating to position.

In his first season in charge, Scott led Los Angeles to the franchise's first 60-loss season: 21-61. In his second season in charge of the purple and gold, the 55-year-old finished worse: 17-65. Scott will not get a third season in charge.

The Inglewood native and former player with the Lakers earned a great deal of criticism in his tough approach with rookie guard D'Angelo Russell and second year forward Julius Randle. Though both players improved over the course of the season, Scott's decision to remove both players from the starting lineup early in the season did not appear to sit well with a loud segment of fans and national basketball writers.

In truth, the poor display of basketball over two seasons had a segment of fans marveling at how Scott retained his position for two full seasons. Scott’s 38-126 (.227) record over two seasons was largely overshadowed by Kobe Bryant’s retirement. Scott's relationship with Bryant likely helped the coach keep his job in the face of the worst season in franchise history and a consistently horrific product on the court.

After the season, Lakers general manager Mitch Kupchak stated that Lakers executive vice-president of basketball operations Jim Buss would join him and take time to meet with Scott over the coming weeks. Just shy of 10 days after Kupchak commented on the season review process, the Lakers made the change.

Over those 10 days, however, the Lakers' front office drew a great deal of criticism for not announcing the separation sooner. Two prominent coaches linked with the Lakers, Tom Thibodeau and Scott Brooks, accepted positions in Minnesota and Washington, respectively. With Scott's departure, however, LA should be linked with nearly every top assistant and out of work coach, including Jeff Van Gundy and Ettore Messina, the latter of whom is currently an assistant with the San Antonio Spurs. 

Yahoo! Sports first reported Scott's firing on Sunday night. Shortly thereafter, the team confirmed the report by stating that the "Lakers have decided not to pick up the option for the 2016-17 season on the contract of Head Coach Byron Scott."

Kupchak said in a statement, "We would like to thank Byron for his hard work, dedication and loyalty over the last two years, but have decided it is in the best interest of the organization to make a change at this time."

Though technically not "fired," Scott had previously shared his desire to return to coach the team for a third season. The decision not to retain his services is effectively the equivalent of firing the coach.

Also in their statement, the Lakers stated that the search for a new coach would begin "immediately."

Photo Credit: Harry How/Getty Images]]>