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Adam Sandler spotted dropping dimes in pick-up basketball game, earns respect of NBA Twitter

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Adam Sandler spotted dropping dimes in pick-up basketball game, earns respect of NBA Twitter

Now starting at point guard: Happy Gilmore.

Actor and comedian Adam Sandler is a massive hoops fan; his love for basketball has a tendency to make it into his movies, and he’s actually pretty good, too. Or, at least, better than your average YMCA hooper.

In videos that surfaced on Monday, Sandler reminded folks of that. Showing up in a polo shirt and shorts that were maybe three or four sizes too big, Sandler dropped a couple of beautiful passes to teammates and set the internet on fire.

MORE: Mike Breen accidentally refers to Tacko Fall as “Taco Bell”

Unfortunately for Sandler, a few of the on-point passes were actually bricked, even with wide-open looks. Such is the life of pick-up games.

Sandler is an avid Knicks fan who can be found courtside at New York games, often with fellow superfan Spike Lee. Sandler starred in 2019’s “Uncut Gems” portraying a gambling addict and jewelry store owner who gets into deep water with Kevin Garnett over a bet placed on the 2012 Eastern Conference semifinals between the Celtics and the 76ers.

Needless to say, Sandler’s attire and play caught the eye of NBA Twitter

If Sandler can keep this up, maybe he’ll start at point guard for the Knicks in 2021-22.

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Islanders, fans sending Old Barn out in style in final Stanley Cup playoff run

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Islanders, fans sending Old Barn out in style in final Stanley Cup playoff run

UNIONDALE, N.Y. — It’s a little after 5 p.m. ET on June 17 and the sun is shining out on Long Island. Puck drop for Game 3 of the 2021 Stanley Cup semifinals is more than three hours away, but that hasn’t stopped the Islanders’ faithful from beginning their own pregame rituals in the Nassau Coliseum’s parking lot. Some are setting up tents while others are lighting up the grills. Music is filling the air from car radios and the band nearby playing WAR’s “Low Rider” as adult beverages are being cracked open. 

“This is the most incredible sendoff that we could have ever hoped for, to be playing hockey for the Stanley Cup championship in June,” said Alex Klein, sporting an Islanders tank top in front of his Jets-turned-Islanders decorated minibus. “There’s nothing better than this.”

Of course, a spot in the Stanley Cup Final and a chance at the franchise’s fifth championship would be better. It’s been 38 years since the boys sporting orange, white and blue sipped from sports’ greatest trophy. That happened on the same ice the team raised their sticks up to salute its fans after a last-second save by Ryan Pulock in Game 4 on Saturday and a dramatic come-from-behind 3-2 win in Game 6 on Wednesday that forced a winner-takes-all showdown.

“That building that went into overtime smelled like cigarettes, and now it smells like beers,” winger Anthony Beauvillier said after his overtime winner that was celebrated with beer cans (some empty, some not) being thrown on the ice. “That place was going crazy.”

Now, comes the waiting (which, as the great Tom Petty once said, is the hardest part): Friday’s Game 7 result will determine whether Wednesday’s game was, in fact, the last one in that building — officially, and finally.

The building nicknamed “Fort Never Lose” should have actually been called “Fort Never Close.” It always seems to have one last dance. Back in 2015, what is currently the second oldest building in the NHL, closed its doors after an Islanders win in another Game 6 before the Isles fell in Game 7 to the Capitals. And, as we now know, the subsequent move to Brooklyn’s Barclays Center was temporary, and a back-and-forth between the two arenas began until the team decided the full 2020-21 slate would be held at the Old Barn.

But in 2021, the doors are definitively closing at the Nassau Veterans Memorial Coliseum.

“It’s bittersweet to see them leave. I’m very happy they have a new home but I’m not happy I’m leaving here,” said Victoria Dee, a member of the Blue and Orange Army, the franchise’s supporters group perched in what was section 329 before the renovation between 2015-17 and is now (technically) 229.

Beginning next season, the team will be lacing them up at UBS Arena at Belmont Park. While the new rink was designed to mimic the atmosphere at the Coliseum — the low ceiling that makes the barn special is being raised just three feet higher in the new building — there’s something about old hockey rinks that new digs just can’t quite replicate.

MORE: Fans shower ice with beer cans after overtime victory

“Very unique atmosphere. The passion of the fans. How loud it gets. The sightlines of the Old Barn. It’s such a great place to watch a hockey game,” said Michael Blizzard, who was at Game 3 with his brother-in-law’s Jonathan and Thomas Lovaglio.

If you’ve never been to the building on Hempstead Turnpike, the now aluminum-finned building, that atmosphere has long been admired by players and fans across the NHL.

“For me, it’s the loudest building I’ve ever played in,” said Shawn Bates after revving up the crowd outside the arena and is often reminded of his game-winning penalty shot in Game 4 of the 2002 Eastern Conference quarterfinal series against the Maple Leafs. “It’s effective for the team. Once the fans get behind the team it kind of motivates them to get better and better and it works.”

It worked in Game 4 (also a 3-2 win for New York) and, in particular, Game 6 as the team was down 2-0 and began to claw its way back halfway through the third period. If you looked around at that point, it appeared as if nary a soul — 13,917 faithful — were seated the rest of the way. The chanting started to build and grow — “Let’s Go Islanders,” they shouted — as moms, dads, kids of all ages, pushed their team over the edge. Their hope for another day, that deafening roar, enveloped everyone in the building. 

“Incredibly loud. We bring the noise every game. It’s electric. The building actually vibrates and shakes,” remarked Craig Richardson after showing off two Islanders tattoos, one being the iconic circular logo.

There have been some lean years in that building and for its faithful, but also some huge moments.

After breaking into the NHL in 1972, in just the club’s eighth year of existence, the Islanders won the Stanley Cup on an overtime goal by Bob Nystrom. 

“I had gotten a scalpel out of the trainer’s room and I sat in the bathroom and I actually cut a notch in my stick signifying that I was going to score the goal,” reminisced Nystrom, whose No. 23 hangs from the rafters, on the phone with Sporting News. “Sure enough, I was lucky enough to score the goal after a beautiful play by Lorne Henning and also John Tonelli.”

He added later on: “We cried, we just congratulated each other right in the corner. It was just a magical moment. It was something that none of us will ever forget.”

(Getty Images)

Neither will the fans, including NHL Network’s E.J. Hradek, who grew up in Westchester County cheering on the guys from Long Island and was in the building that day.

“When they scored, the place just erupted and I could just remember yelling ‘It’s in!’ And going crazy like you do when a team clinches a championship,” he said. Hradek was in the 300s behind that fateful net and has just one regret: “It was such a crazy environment, fans jumped over the glass … and I was kind of mad at myself, I should have run down and jumped over.

“[But] then I can remember the Cup coming out of the tunnel and there was not a whole lot of pomp and circumstance, it came out and it was almost like it was levitating.”

That win in 1980 was the first of four straight by Nystrom and the Islanders — which Nystrom appreciated because he never got to touch the Cup on the ice back on that May 24 day — and only the 1982 Cup was secured on the road. Nystrom mentioned that the clinching win in Vancouver just wasn’t the same without the fans.

“I think that everyone is like family when you’re in the building,” said Seth Godnick. “I also don’t think you get the corporate vibe that you get in a lot of these other cities. These are real, just normal blue-collar folks just going to a hockey game.”

While those were the only years that ended with drinking out of the Holy Grail of trophies, the memories in the building runneth over. There was Bossy’s 50 goals in 50 games in 1981; Bryan Trottier scoring eight points (five goals and three assists) against the Rangers in 1978; Al Arbour’s unforgettable 1500th game coached; John Tavares’ game-winning goal in 2013 that secured the Isles first home playoff win in 11 seasons and his memorable return as a member of the Maple Leafs in 2019.

And now, there is this 2021 Stanley Cup playoff run.

“The building is kind of hard to kill,” said Hradek to Sporting News. “It’s got a lot of character and it’s had a lot of memories and a lot of history. At the end of the day it will be different, even though they’re going into a beautiful new facility, it won’t be the same in terms of the, let’s say, the coziness of the fans and the players because it’s such an old school building.”

If this is truly it for the Coli, it’s been quite a sendoff for a building that’s just as blue-collar as the fans that trek to it. (Heck, even the ice crew wears blue coveralls and hardhats.) The last year has not been easy for anyone but the heroics of Game 4 and the beer-showering overtime victory in Game 6 have helped add to the memory bank for Islanders fans.

“It’s kinda, basically, in the heart of Long Island so, this is why it’s our place, it’s our barn.”, ” said Charley Mcanulla, who was sporting a Steve Thomas jersey from the 1992-93 season, a blue and orange wig and a blue and orange dyed beard, when asked what makes the Coliseum special.

Yes, the fans. The building is brick and mortar, an inanimate object. It may be closing its doors to hockey but it’s just a building. It’s truly the fans that make it special. And, on a summer night on Long Island, they chanted “Var-ly” for Semyon Varlamov and sang “Pag-eau, Pag-eau, Pag-eau” for Jean-Gabriel. They serenaded the longest-tenured Islander Josh Bailey by twisting DJ Otzi’s lyrics for “Hey Baby” and asking if he’ll score a goal. And there were some “warm greetings” for the visitors, too.

They stood and cheered long after the beer cans littered the ice and the players went into the locker room to head to Tampa Bay. They stayed and soaked in the friendly confines one more time, because, after 49 years, if this was it, it was quite a memory.

After all, as they all sang along with Long Island’s own Billy Joel less than an hour prior:

“Well, we’re all in the mood for a melody, and you’ve got us feelin’ alright.”

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Why did Rick Carlisle return to Pacers? Roster, familiarity — and the money helps, too

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Why did Rick Carlisle return to Pacers? Roster, familiarity — and the money helps, too

Rick Carlisle is the head coach of the Pacers … again.

The championship-winning coach who recently parted ways with the Dallas Mavericks has reportedly signed a four-year, $29 million pact to return to Indiana’s bench, per ESPN’s Tim MacMahon.

Carlisle signing this quickly with a team was a mild surprise, signing with the Pacers even moreso. While the Pacers parted ways with head coach Nate Bjorkgren soon after the final whistle blew on Indiana’s season, no real reports suggested Carlisle’s candidacy before news of his hiring broke on Thursday.

Here’s what we know about the hiring:

Why did the Pacers hire Rick Carlisle?

While the money certainly helps — the deal keeps Carlisle in the top 10 highest paid coaches in the Association — familiarity helped play into the decision, as well. Carlisle has two prior tenures in Indiana; First, between 1997 and 2000, when he was an assistant coach under Larry Bird. The second stint was as the team’s head coach between 2003 and 2007.

During his tenure, Carlisle helped guide Indiana to a central-division crown in 2003, and in four total seasons, the Pacers made the playoffs three times and the Eastern Conference finals once (2003).

Carlisle figured to be the hottest coaching commodity on the market for any number of teams looking for a new head coach, but the Pacers acted “quietly and quickly” to get Carlisle in their building, per Adrian Wojnarowski, putting off several other interviews to bring him and ink him to a deal.

The landing spot was attractive to Carlisle, as well: Speaking with ESPN’s MacMahon, Carlisle liked the roster built by GM Kevin Pritchard and what they could be moving forward.

“It’s a team of skilled, unselfish guys that play hard,” Carlisle said to MacMahon. “It’s always possible that moves could be made before the season, but I think [GM Kevin Pritchard] and I are both very excited about getting the roster healthy and seeing what this team can be.”

Carlisle and the Mavericks agreed to part ways on June 17 after another early-playoff exit, losing in seven games to the Clippers. Carlisle spent 13 years patrolling the bench for Dallas, winning an NBA championship in 2011. In all, Dallas made it to the playoffs nine times under Carlisle, losing in the first round in seven of those trips.

Multiple reports indicated organizational turmoil within Dallas’ front office, though owner Mark Cuban vehemently denied the rumors. The Athletic detailed the dysfunction in June. 

 

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Lionel Messi gets surprise birthday wake-up call from Argentina teammates at Copa America

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Lionel Messi gets surprise birthday wake-up call from Argentina teammates at Copa America

Let’s be real: No one likes to be woken up on their birthday. Except for world soccer star Lionel Messi, who even posted the video to his 221 million Instagram followers.

His teammates did him the honors on his 34th, walking into his bedroom with a surprisingly on-tune birthday song and adidas bags full of gifts that garnered a few laughs. There was something that looked like a cologne bottle, a pack of cornmeal, some wine and a bottle of holy water, which must be an inside joke.  

“Starting off my birthday with the boys, and receiving a few gifts,” he wrote. “Thanks a lot for making this day special, although I can’t be with my family, who I miss so much in these moments.” 

When you’re the greatest soccer player on the planet, you probably don’t mind that the world sees what you look like when you get out of bed, or the fact that you sleep with giant player cutouts above your bed. Granted, it’s not his personal bedroom — he’s in camp with Argentina for the Copa America in Brazil, where they apparently require the players to sleep in Argentina gear. 

Messi’s hoping his stay in Brazil will be remembered for things other than his birthday wake-up call. He’s trying to win his first Copa America with Argentina (it would be the country’s first since 1993) and in the process, he’ll be setting a record for most all-time appearances in an Argentina shirt. 

It’s a big year for the 34-year-old. His contract with FC Barcelona also expires on June 30 and the world will be watching to see what decision he makes on his club future. Many expect him to stay with the only team he’s ever known as a pro, but it’s unclear how the financial troubles plaguing the organization could affect his thought process. If Barcelona can’t pay the salary he’s seeking, or the team can’t pay for a high-level supporting cast around him, he could decide it’s best for him and the club to move on. 

For now he has some cornmeal to cook up. 

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