Column: Kim Jong Un plays the Olympics like a champion

John Leicester, Ap Sports Columnist Updated 12:47 am, Thursday, January 18, 2018 window._taboola = window._taboola || []; _taboola.push({ mode: 'thumbnails-c', container: 'taboola-interstitial-gallery-thumbnails-5', placement: 'Interstitial Gallery Thumbnails 5', target_type: 'mix' }); _taboola.push({flush: true}); window._taboola = window._taboola || []; _taboola.push({ mode: 'thumbnails-c', container: 'taboola-interstitial-gallery-thumbnails-9', placement: 'Interstitial Gallery Thumbnails 9', target_type: 'mix' }); _taboola.push({flush: true}); Photo: AP Image 1of/9 CaptionClose Image 1 of 9 FILE - In this Sept. 29, 2002 file photo, athletes from North and South Korea march together, led by a unification flag, during an opening ceremony for the 14th Asian Games in Busan, South Korea. During South and North Korea's talks at the border in about a week Wednesday, Jan. 17, 2018, senior officials from the two Koreas reached a package of deals including fielding a joint women's hockey team and conducting a joint march under a "unification flag" depicting their peninsula during the opening ceremony, according to Seoul's Unification Ministry.(Yonhap via AP, File) less FILE - In this Sept. 29, 2002 file photo, athletes from North and South Korea march together, led by a unification flag, during an opening ceremony for the 14th Asian Games in Busan, South Korea. During South ... more Photo: AP Image 2 of 9 In this photo provided by South Korea Unification Ministry, South Korean Vice Unification Minister Chun Hae-sung, second from right, talks with the head of North Korean delegation Jon Jong Su during a meeting at Panmunjom in the Demilitarized Zone in Paju, South Korea, Wednesday, Jan. 17, 2018. The rival Koreas agreed Wednesday to form their first unified Olympic team and have their athletes parade Continue Reading

Jordan Spieth’s amazing run at British Open likely a sign of things to come

Jordan Spieth had just waffled what Johnny Miller called “the worst drive I’ve seen a pro hit,” and suddenly it looked like the 13th hole at Royal Birkdale would be remembered as the site of another major collapse, much like the 12th at Augusta National last year. Instead it became the stuff of folklore, nothing less. By making a bogey from the driving range a mile to the right of the fairway, after taking a stroke for an unplayable lie, Spieth avoided disaster, which was quite a feat in itself. But it was what he did next, ripping off three birdies and an eagle over the next four holes, that not only won the British Open but again put Spieth on a path to become a storied champion, perhaps on the level of Jack Nicklaus and Tiger Woods. By adding the British Open to his wins in 2015 at the Masters and U.S. Open, in fact, Spieth is in that rarefied air — the only player other than Nicklaus to have won three legs of the Grand Slam before turning 25. Actually, Spieth doesn’t turn 24 until later this week, and in addition to being the youngest American player to win the British Open, he is the youngest player ever to have three majors and as many as his 11 PGA Tour wins. So now he has officially overcome that collapse at the Masters last year, and once again stamped himself as the charismatic superstar that golf needs to fill the void left by Tiger’s disappearance from the sport. It was only about 15 minutes ago, it seemed, that Spieth was grouped in golf’s new Big Three with Rory McIlroy and Jason Day, and then Big Four to include Dustin Johnson. For that matter, it wasn’t so long ago that McIlroy was the clear successor to Tiger, with four majors by the age of 25, and he is still only 28 after finishing tied for fourth behind Spieth on Sunday, so he might be ready to go on another run. Golf is funny like that, for practically everybody other than Tiger when he was on Continue Reading

Larry Holmes fights like a champ to KO Muhammad Ali in 1980 Las Vegas bout

(Originally published by the Daily News on October 3, 1980. This story was written by Bill Verigan.) LAS VEGAS - An era ended to the blare of martial music and fireworks. The king is dead, long live the king. Muhammad Ali is the greatest no more. He was destroyed by Larry Holmes on Thursday night. Finally, Ali's friends could take no more. They asked referee Richard Green to call a halt at the end of the 10th round as their fallen idol slumped pathetically on his stool, his eyes red and closing, his face mottled, his powers gone. He had lost every round on the judges' scorecards before the bout went into the record books as an 11th round knockout. THERE’S NOTHING FOR ALI TO BE ASHAMED ABOUT IN 1980 Only pride kept him upright until it ended. Pride did not take a fall, and neither did Ali. But it had been futile from the start, absolutely futile. The legs could not sustain the dance, and the hands could neither defend nor punish. For most of two decades, Ali had things his own way. But nothing went his way on this night. Holmes was relentless in defense of his WBC title. Ali had never recognized him as a champion, but Holmes fought like a champion. Holmes did not tire like Ali had hoped. So hope was lost. After the cruel scene in the ninth and 10th, Pat Patterson, Ali's bodyguard, looked over at Herbert Muhammad and asked what should be done. Herbert, Ali's manger, told him to stop it. Bundini Brown tried to get Ali to answer the bell, and the cornermen wrestled for a moment. Ali seemed to know it was hopeless and offered no more resistance than he had offered against Holmes. Never in his 60-bout career had Ali been stopped. He had only lost three times previously. But he was obviously a loser on this night, and Holmes was a winner. Ali was a man trying to shed the years like he had shed weight over the last six months. He had come from 265 to 217 ½ pounds, the lightest since had won a stunning upset Continue Reading

American tennis player Victoria Duval fighting cancer like a champion

Victoria Duval is an 18-year-old American tennis player with a sweet temperament and an angry tennis game. She also has been through things that no other player on the tour has ever had to endure, and so it is no surprise that she is handling her latest challenge — Hodgkin’s lymphoma — in perfect stride. Duval won’t be competing at the U.S. Open this month, but her business rep said Wednesday that the Haitian-born player is on target to return to training sometime next month. “She’s doing fine,” Ben Crandell, an IMG executive, said this week. “She’s on her third chemo treatment and all her numbers are great, the tests are positive.” Duval is scheduled for two more treatments over the course of the next 32 days and then hopefully will be cleared for her return. She was diagnosed by London doctors through biopsies with the form of cancer in its earliest, most curable stages. The finding was confirmed after her first-round qualifying match in Wimbledon, but Duval decided to continue to play, winning two more qualifiers and her first-round match in the main draw over seeded player Sorana Cîrstea. Duval isn’t talking yet about her experience while undergoing treatment, but issued a statement after the initial diagnosis: “I intend to put up my best fight and have a full recovery,” she said in a statement. “I picture myself healthy, stronger and competing again soon with even more appreciation for the game I so love.” Duval is currently ranked 88th in the world, after cracking the top 100 for the first time in July. She has a traumatic back story. Her father Jean-Maurice, a doctor who helped run a medical clinic in Haiti, was buried alive while surviving that country’s 2010 earthquake. When she was just 7 years old, Duval reported she was held hostage at gunpoint by robbers at her aunt’s house in Port-au-Prince. Crandell said the timetable Continue Reading

NFL Power Rankings: NY Giants play like champions and rise to No. 6; Texans and Falcons hold on to top two spots

Facing a pivotal game against the Packer Sunday night, the Giants were inspired by a brave kid from the Make a Wish Foundation who told them to play like World Champions. Then they put on a performance that definitely set some battle lines for the remainder of the season, one that, taken on its own, would have them back where they started the season in the Daily News power rankings. Ah, but there is the rest of the season to consider when doing these things and while the Giants may have the most upside of any team, the 10-1 Texans and Falcons still rule the roost for now, each surviving tight games this past week. As it is, the Giants move up four spots from No. 10. As for the Jets, someone forgot to tell them how to play on Thanksgiving. Either that or they got their message from Rich Kotite. Even so, they remain at No. 23 because everyone behind them is so bad. The Rams could have passed them after their win in Arizona if not for the Jets' head-to-head win two weeks ago. Here's the skinny:1. (Last week - 1) Texans (10-1): Overcoming injuries on D with home field now the goal. 2. (2) Falcons (10-1): These fourth quarter wins could pay dividends later. 3. (3) Broncos (8-3): Good teams win games when they're flat. They're a very good team. 4. (4) 49ers (8-2-1): Big plays from defense, Kaepernick. Now who starts at QB? 5. (5) Ravens (9-2): Ray Rice's fourth-and-29 pickup might be the play of the year. 6. (10) Giants (7-4): If they play like that, nobody beats them. 7. (7) Patriots (8-3): Five TD returns in two weeks. 8. (8) Bears (8-3): Jay Cutler makes a difference. So does protecting him. 9.  (6) Packers (7-4): They're 2-4 against winning teams, 5-0 against losers. Time to re-assess. 10. (9) Steelers (6-5): Big Ben better get back in a hurry. 11. (16) Bengals (6-5): Team to watch suddenly. 12. (15) Bucs (6-5): Tough loss to Falcons but they look good enough to get a wild card. 13. (17) Colts (7-4): Nice rebound Continue Reading

Syracuse coach Jim Boeheim says Carmelo Anthony rumors persist because he wants to play for a winner

Carmelo Anthony still hasn't signed an extension offer from Denver, and so the speculation continues about where he will end up and when, with the Nets and Knicks as leading candidates. But the reason Anthony remains the subject of trade rumors is clear, according to his former Syracuse coach, Jim Boeheim. "He wants a place he can win," Boeheim told the Daily News Friday. "And I hope he can do that. He's in the prime of his career. He'd be a great foundation to build a franchise on." Boeheim has good reason to gush about his former All-American. Anthony led Syracuse to its only NCAA title as a freshman in 2003, and then donated $3 million to build the school's practice facility, called "The Carmelo K. Anthony Basketball Center." Boeheim also was an assistant coach for the USA squad at the 2008 Olympics in Beijing, where Anthony, 26, helped win gold. What Boeheim sees in Anthony - both on and off the court - is a champion worth pursuing, despite his zero NBA titles and some spotty personal decisions, including a fracas at the Garden and arrests for DWI and marijuana possession. "He is a winner," said Boeheim, calling Anthony "misunderstood" and his mistakes overplayed by the media. "He can help a team win a championship but you can't do it by yourself. "Saying Carmelo is not a winner is like saying Jerry Sloan and (John) Stockton and (Karl) Malone were not winners. They got places, they won playoff games just like Denver. The Nuggets just went up against tough teams in the Western Conference like San Antonio and Los Angeles." Boeheim's words echo Anthony's sentiments. While he can't publicly demand a trade from the unstable Nuggets organization because he would be fined, the three-time All-Star has said he is keeping his options open and acknowledged the chances of being traded before the season starts as "50-50." He was on board with a trade to the Nets in September before negotiations fizzled. The Knicks, too, are on Anthony's short list. Despite Continue Reading

Madison Square Garden fans can start believing LeBron James will be a Knick in 2010

I choose to believe on this Christmas that LeBron James is going to be in New York, playing for the Knicks, next Christmas. You can try to out-debate me on this, give me your own reasons why you think he will stay in Cleveland even though he's never going to win there. Or why you think he will go somewhere else looking for a championship. But more and more I believe the guy is coming, which would only be the modern, hoops version of Babe Ruth coming to town. And not just because I want this to happen, the way everybody else around here does who loves basketball and remembers what the Knicks and pro basketball were still like at Madison Square Garden. That was before James L. Dolan became the big boss of the place and turned it over to Isiah Thomas and we ended up with the lousiest decade in the whole history of the place. So the Christmas column is a little different today. It's not what we want this year. It's what we want next year: LeBron and some other big player from the Free Agent Class of the Summer of 2010. A guy I know from sports, a mogul-type, one who knows the NBA and knows the business side of sports even better, was talking the other day about the possibility of LeBron coming to the Knicks. He is not a New Yorker, by the way, and is not a Knicks fan. He just thinks the whole thing makes sense, and not just for the Knicks and for the league. "I am hearing," the guy said, "that Nike wants LeBron in New York even more than ever, because of Tiger." He was referring to Tiger Woods. Maybe you've heard about him. The guy said: "And the reason they want it more than ever is because they know Tiger is going to continue to regress. That there's going to be a void to fill, even when he comes back and starts winning." He went on to say that he has heard a theory floated that LeBron might even take a lot less money than he could get out of the Knicks - and a lot less than he could get out of the Cavaliers if he stayed in Cleveland - to ensure Continue Reading

In Dominican Republic, Yankees’ Alex Rodriguez parties like a champ

PUNTA CANA, Dominican Republic - Just over a month after winning his first World Series ring - when he buried both his postseason demons of the past and the tumultuous beginning of his 2009 season - Alex Rodriguez is still speechless when it comes to reflecting on life as a champion."It's still hard to put into words what we accomplished as a team. We just believe in Joe's (Girardi) message, which is team, team, team. I'm still enjoying it," A-Rod told the Daily News Saturday night. Dropping by to support his good friend David Ortiz at the Red Sox slugger's charity golf weekend, Rodriguez made a brief but memorable appearance at the Cap Cana resort. It was the latest stop of Rodriguez's unofficial World Series champion tour. Friday night he partied with hip-hop mogul Jay-Z and teammate Robinson Cano in the resort town of La Romana, celebrating Jay-Z's birthday. Last week Rodriguez was in London with main squeeze Kate Hudson as she did press for the premiere of the movie "Nine." Last month, he was courtside for a Lakers game. Yes, it's good to be the king, even if Rodriguez is still keeping his cards close to the vest and his comments brief. Asked if he plays over in his mind any particular World Series memories, Rodriguez replayed an answer that was common this season, when he avoided headlines and controversy following a rough spring training. "Nothing personal. To me it's just the great team spirit," Rodriguez said. "Everyone basically checked their ego at the door and was concerned about one thing, that's winning games. The World Series, the championship (series) and the division series was really how we played all year as a unit." First, Sports Illustrated reported in February that Rodriguez had tested positive for steroids during the 2003 survey testing year. In March, he underwent hip surgery and later said he was fearful his career was in jeopardy. But his first game back, Rodriguez socked a first-pitch home run in Baltimore, settled in and finally won the Continue Reading

Until the very end, Bobby Murcer showed ‘heart of a champion’

Bobby Murcer lost his gallant and determined fight with brain cancer Saturday at Oklahoma City Hospital with his wife, Kay, his daughter, Tori, and his son, Todd, by his side, a little more than a year and a half after first being diagnosed with one of the most aggressive types of tumors. He was 62, and while most of those last 19 months of a life-too-short were spent enduring exhaustive, often-agonizing aftereffects of intense chemotherapy and radiation, Murcer, true to his upbeat nature, regarded them as a blessing rather than a curse."I feel especially blessed to have been able to hear from and see all these wonderful people who have been my fans," he told me a few months ago. "Through this entire ordeal, their prayers and support have been so gratifying. You have no idea what a strength the fans have been for me."According to his literary agent, Rob Wilson, Murcer was especially grateful to have been able to write his book, "Yankee For Life," in which he shared his life's experiences, from the travail of how he and Kay dealt with the devastating news of his malignant brain tumor on Christmas Eve 2006, to the joy of his 44 years in the game as a player and broadcaster. During his last appearance in New York, May 27-29, Murcer, though frail and physically weakened, pushed himself to accommodate nearly 2,000 fans in three separate book signings."He displayed the heart of the champion throughout all those signings," Wilson said. "I don't know how he was able to get through them. No matter how weak he felt, he just kept signing. I told him at one point, ‘We can cut this short, Bobby,' but he insisted on going the full nine innings. There was so much love on those lines, all those people who wanted to share their stories with him, and I think that was what motivated him to keep on going. He wanted them to know he loved them as much as they loved him.""Bobby Murcer was a born Yankee, a great guy, very well-liked and a true friend of mine," said Yankees owner Continue Reading

Alex Ovechkin laughs off Mark Messier comparison by Barry Trotz, but coach insists Capitals star is playing like a champion

Instead of adding fuel to a fire, Alex Ovechkin laughingly tried to put one out. A day after Capitals head coach Barry Trotz compared the Washington winger to Rangers legend Mark Messier, Ovechkin laughed it off. "I'm Russian, not Canadian," the three-time MVP said. Ovechkin is six Stanley Cups shy of Messier and hasn't made any famous guarantees quite yet. But with a goal and the game-winning assist on Joel Ward's last second score, he was the best player on the ice in Game 1. While he has long been known as perhaps the best goal scorer on the planet, the knock on Ovechkin has long been his inability to be a team player. Though he has earned plenty of individual awards over his career, his Capitals have never made it past the second round of the playoffs. However, in his first year as the Capitals coach, Trotz has found that the perception of Ovechkin is off target. "It's easy to pick on great players or try to pick them apart. That's just part of society now. We try to find fault in everything," Trotz said. "As I said yesterday, he's that unique talent, that strength and skill and power and physicality that's pretty rare. Sometimes we try to pick that apart and look for a fault. But he's been one of the most consistent goal scorers in the National Hockey League." Ovechkin showed he wasn’t a one-dimensional player in the first round against the Islanders, where he scored just two goals but doled out 31 hits in the physical seven-game series. He flipped the script in Game 1 against the Rangers, notching two points without registering a hit. "He's always been about the team, about winning. When you see a guy score goals the way he does, he's so good one-on-one, you sometimes don't see the stuff behind the scenes. Now that he's doing a lot of stuff in the (defensive) zone, the neutral zone he's just getting a little more focused. People are realizing he can play a good all around game," Karl Alzner said. "We were joking the other day that he should have been Continue Reading