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How USMNT goal machine Dike went from playing Mario Kart to facing Kante

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How USMNT goal machine Dike went from playing Mario Kart to facing Kante

Daryl Dike is the name on everyone’s lips in the Championship.

The 20-year-old has been a revelation since joining Barnsley on loan from Orlando City, with the Yorkshire club now hoping to take advantage of their option to buy the forward at the end of the season on a permanent basis.

However, the Tykes are acutely aware that after six goals in seven games, the United States international has caught the attention of several Premier League scouts in recent weeks.

It is remarkable to think, then, that Dike wasn’t even playing for a professional team 16 months ago.

While studying finance at the University of Virginia, Dike lined out for the Virginia Cavaliers. However, after being drafted by Major League Soccer outfit Orlando City in 2020, he is suddenly the most talked-about attacker in the Championship.

“Everything has gone in the blink of an eye,” Dike told Goal. “If you told me two or three years ago that I would be where I am today, that I would have a national team cap, that I would play for Orlando and Barnsley, I would have laughed at you.

“I would have been like, ‘There’s just no way!’ But it’s great. My career is going well. I can feel myself growing as a player. In a short time, my life has completely changed. I feel truly blessed.

“I am super-happy but, at the same time, I know I am not yet where I want to be. I want to continue scaling new heights. So, I know my life and career, and everything around me, will continue to change.”

Dike’s meteoric rise perhaps shouldn’t have come as such a surprise, given his family’s impressive sporting pedigree. 

His cousin, ex-West Ham forward Emmanuel Emenike, previously played for Nigeria, along with Dike’s brother, Bright, who made two appearances for the Super Eagles. 

Meanwhile, Dike’s sister, Courtney, has also represented Nigeria at senior level, after winning a silver medal at the 2014 Under-20 Women’s World Cup. 

It won’t come as a surprise to learn, then, that Dike’s parents, who emigrated to the United States before they were born, played a key role in their children’s sporting success.

Indeed, Bright jokes, “Whether it is my game or Daryl’s game, if you hear a woman screaming behind the goal, then it is always our mum! Everyone in our family is happy all the time and pushing each other to the next level.”

Indeed, Daryl says sibling rivalry nurtured his will to win.

“That’s one thing about our family: everyone is so competitive,” Daryl, the youngest of the five Dike children, reveals. “No one likes to lose but I am sure they got used to it when we used to play Mario Party, Nintendo games and stuff like that!

“We actually didn’t play that many sports at home. It was mostly in school or with our teams. But we still wanted to compete somehow, so what better way than Nintendo and cards?!”

Bright nearly moved to the United Kingdom himself, long before Daryl joined Barnsley in February. 

Indeed, back in 2014, Bright was attracting interest from then-Premier League clubs Hull City and QPR, as well as Scottish giants Celtic and Rangers. 

However, he suffered a serious knee injury in February of that year which not only scuppered his hopes of a transfer, but also cost him a place in Nigeria’s World Cup squad for Brazil. 

Getty/Goal

The whole Dike family is now hoping that Daryl avoids similar misfortune in his fledgling career. Things certainly couldn’t be going much better at the moment. 

As a childhood Chelsea fan who idolised Didier Drogba, Dike couldn’t believe that he got the chance to make his debut against the Blues in an FA Cup fifth-round clash at Oakwell on February 11. 

“After only seeing these guys on TV, I was like, ‘Wow! I am warming up next to [Olivier] Giroud!’ he enthuses. “I thought I would only see him on TV and now I am playing next to [N’Golo] Kante and competing for a header with [Kurt] Zouma.

“I was doing these things and, honestly, it was a dream come true. I am a Chelsea fan and I loved Drogba when I was younger. Me and him play a kind of similar game. I enjoyed watching him.

“So, [playing against Chelsea] was crazy, particularly after such a short space of time. It was a blessing for me and a big experience.”

The focus now, though, is on trying to help sixth-placed Barnsley secure promotion to the Premier League. 

“I think the team can do it,” he says. “We are doing really well and we have the necessary tools but we need to keep going.

“The season is not over, we still have a lot of work to do but it has been a crazy experience for me, to say the least. I can’t even think about how much it impacted me and how crazy it is for my entire life.”

Indeed, at the rate he’s going, Dike might soon be the name on everyone’s lips in the Premier League.

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Twitter reacts to Russell Westbrook’s NBA-record 182nd career triple-double

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Twitter reacts to Russell Westbrook's NBA-record 182nd career triple-double

Russell Westbrook made history Monday night, notching his 182nd career triple-double — and moving past Oscar Robertson for the all-time NBA record.

Robertson’s record lasted 47 years, from 1974 through Monday night when a fourth-quarter rebound in front of a reduced-capacity crowd in Atlanta gave Westbrook sole possession of the record. It took him 12 years to surpass Robertson’s record after he achieved his first triple-double (17 points, 10 assists, 10 rebounds) in 2009 as a rookie with the Thunder.

MORE: Jaylen Brown injury update: Celtics star out for rest of season with torn wrist ligament

Monday’s triple-double was Westbrook’s 36th of the year. That insane output is helping him average, for the fourth time in his career, a triple-double over the course of the season. The previous such campaigns came in 2016-17 through 2018-19.

Westbrook finished with 28 points, 21 assists and 13 rebounds in the Wizards’ 125-124 loss to the Hawks; the loss dropped Washington to 32-37 on the season, but the team still ranks 10th in the Eastern Conference standings. The Wizards’ playoff hopes pale in comparison to the history Westbrook made, however.

He even made sure to get the game ball from officials so he could be certain to commemorate the historic achievement.

Here are some of the best reactions to Westbrook’s history-making feat:

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Kenny Mayne’s ESPN cover letter was perfect precursor to his incredible career

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Kenny Mayne's ESPN cover letter was perfect precursor to his incredible career

ESPN’s Kenny Mayne, one of the most recognizable talents in sports broadcasting, is leaving the network, he announced on Monday.

The 27-year ESPN anchor broke the news on Twitter, describing his exit from the worldwide leader in sports as a “salary cap casualty.” Naturally, he could only include some of the dry humor that helped him become a beloved presence in the studio and on millions of sports fans’ TVs.

MORE: ESPN anchors get emotional over laid-off co-workers: ‘We are all hurting’

The longtime “SportsCenter” host’s final day will be on May 24, bringing to an end a 27-year stint at ESPN that began in 1994. His absence will undoubtedly be noted among fans who appreciated his humor and presence in ESPN’s studios — but his Monday announcement is as good a reason as any to remember the incredible cover letter that first landed him the gig in 1994.

Mayne sent a short and sweet cover letter to ESPN’s John Walsh in 1994, offering him three checkboxes in the former’s bid to land a job with ESPN:

Unsurprisingly, Mayne made Walsh smile. Walsh wouldn’t be the last person to smile at Mayne’s humor and creativity.

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Jaylen Brown injury update: Celtics star out for rest of season with torn wrist ligament

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Jaylen Brown injury update: Celtics star out for rest of season with torn wrist ligament

The Celtics will have to fight for a playoff spot without one of their most important players.

Boston announced Monday night that All-Star forward Jaylen Brown has suffered a torn scapholunate ligament in his left wrist and will miss the rest of the 2020-21 season. He is expected to undergo surgery later this week.

MORE: Will LeBron James return vs. Knicks?

The Celtics offered no specific timetable for Brown’s return to the court, but as The Athletic’s Jared Weiss noted, Boston guard Romeo Langford suffered the same injury last year and took about six months to recover. If Brown stays roughly on that timeline, he should be available to rejoin the lineup for the start of the 2021-22 campaign.

Brown dealt with injury and COVID-19 issues throughout the season, but the 24-year-old still managed to earn his first All-Star selection with some of the best individual numbers of his career. He averaged a career-high 24.7 points per game while shooting 48.4 percent from the field and 39.7 percent from 3-point range.

Without Brown available, Boston will rely heavily on Jayson Tatum and Kemba Walker to produce offensively. The Celtics will also need more from trade deadline acquisition Evan Fournier, who most recently scored 30 points in a loss to the Heat on Sunday — his highest scoring output since joining the team.

Even if other players step up in Brown’s absence, the Celtics, currently the No. 7 seed in the Eastern Conference standings, are unlikely to make a deep run in the 2021 NBA playoffs. They would face an uphill battle in a potential first-round series against the 76ers, Nets or Bucks, the top three seeds in the Eastern Conference.

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