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Podcast: Jim Jackson, Marc Zumoff, Tom McCarthy talk careers in sports, and more



Going End to End today are NBC Sports Philadelphia’s Brooke Destra, Katie Emmer, Taryn Hatcher and Jordan Hall.

The topic: Predicting who wins the Flyers’ 2019-20 Pelle Lindbergh Memorial Trophy as most improved player.


When it comes to most improved from last season, Travis Konecny is the first that comes to mind. He didn’t have a poor 2018-19 season by any means but when looking back and the leaps and bounds he has made since then, it just makes sense to award him the Pelle Lindbergh Memorial Trophy. 

Before the season started, I noted that Konecny was the most important puzzle piece for a successful year and he has continued to prove that with every game played. 

Konecny bettered his two-way game, cleaned up his puck work in the neutral zone and can be on a line with just about anyone and still find a way to drive play. He’s grown every aspect of his game and now leads the team in points, as well. 

Not to mention, he’s also a pest to play against, a ton of fun to watch, made his first All-Star appearance back in January … and he’s only 23 years old. 


Konecny is the most improved player.

Fans were expecting a breakout season from Konecny and he’s having it. With 61 points through 66 games, he’s already 12 points past his previous career high of 49 points in 82 games last year. 

Konecny’s average ice time has gone up by almost two minutes more than last season and he has continued to dominate in his 5-on-5 play, while his presence on the Flyers’ power-play units has grown as he leads the team in man advantage assists with 18.

The Flyers’ 2015 first-rounder obviously had talent from the start, but this season he really blossomed on the score sheet and grew that confidence Flyers fans had certainly seen hints of before, but now see it on another level. 

His confidence could have spiked for many reasons: his offensive success, his coaching staff and new linemates and maybe even that six-year, $33 million contract he inked at the start of the season.

Whatever it was, that confidence is hopefully here to stay. Konecny certainly improved the most this season and I think Flyers fans have plenty to look forward to out of this 23-year-old for the next five-plus years.  


The Flyers have quite a few players who have taken the next step in their game this season, but Scott Laughton deserves this one in my opinion.

Statistically speaking, Laughton played 82 games last season, netting 12 goals and tallying 20 assists. After battling through two injuries this year (finger, groin), he’s still managed to pass that goal total with 13 in just 49 games so far in 2019-20. Laughton has also jumped from a minus-11 rating last year to a plus-13. He’s a key piece of the Flyers’ significantly improved penalty kill.  

Not to mention, when Alain Vigneault has needed to shake up lines, Laughton has been able to find success as a top-six player. But, when called upon to contribute in the bottom six, he’s assumed the role without issue. Laughton still finds ways to distribute the puck well and produce with a different cast of players.  


With Konecny making such an important jump for the Flyers, he’ll rightfully be the favorite for this award and should even be in consideration for the Bobby Clarke Trophy.

However, Oskar Lindblom won’t be counted out for most improved. Don’t be surprised if some teammates cast their votes for the 23-year-old forward — and those votes would be deserved.

Before being diagnosed with Ewing’s sarcoma during mid-December, Lindblom was thriving in his biggest role yet, scoring 11 goals and 18 points through 30 games. He was projected to finish with 30 goals after a promising rookie season in which he recorded 17 while playing fewer minutes.

Lindblom, who continues to undergo treatment, quickly won over Vigneault with his smarts and skill. His improvements were significant and evident.

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Claret Jug from Greg Norman’s Open 1986 win up for auction



It looks like Greg Norman’s Colorado home isn’t the only thing of value tied to the Shark that’s been put on the market of late.

After learning that Norman had listed his 11,900-acre Colorado ranch, called Seven Lakes, for $40 million, now comes word that a replica Claret Jug from Norman’s 1986 win at The Open Championship is also available for those willing to dig into their pocketbooks.

The jug, which was likely created for another member of Norman’s entourage since players are allowed to have more than one made, was selling for just over $61,000 as of Friday evening. The auction closes on Saturday night at 7 p.m. ET.

According to Bob Zafian of Golden Age Golf Auctions, these things do come through from time to time.

This specific Claret Jug was auctioned through Zafian’s group back in 2018 for over $76,000 and he expects the piece to get closer to $85,000 this time through.

“But you just don’t know,” Zafian said. “These things just don’t come up too often and sometimes, they take off.”

In terms of Norman’s home, the 13,907 square-foot home, located in Meeker, Colorado, sits next to the White River, one of the largest elk and deer migrations in the Rocky Mountains.


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Jerry Sloan, Jazz Great and Hall of Fame Coach, Dies at 78 – NBC Chicago



Jerry Sloan, the Hall of Fame coach who was a fixture for decades in Utah and took the Jazz to the NBA Finals in 1997 and 1998, died Friday. He was 78.

The Jazz said he died from complications of Parkinson’s disease and Lewy body dementia. Sloan had been in failing health for many years.

Sloan spent 23 seasons coaching the Jazz. The team — with John Stockton and Karl Malone leading the way in many of those seasons — finished below .500 in only one of those years. Sloan won 1,221 games in his career, the fourth-highest total in NBA history. Only Lenny Wilkens, Don Nelson and Gregg Popovich have more victories.

“It was an honor and a privilege to have one of the greatest and most respected coaches in NBA history coaching our team,” the Miller family, who own the Jazz, said in a statement. “We have appreciated our relationship with Jerry and acknowledge his dedication to and passion for the Utah Jazz.

“He has left an enduring legacy with this franchise and our family. The far-reaching impact of his life has touched our city, state and the world as well as countless players, staff and fans.”

Utah went to the finals twice under Sloan, both times falling to Michael Jordan and the Chicago Bulls.

Sloan entered the Hall of Fame in 2009.

“I’m not into numbers and stuff like that,” Sloan said when he passed Pat Riley for No. 3 on the NBA’s all-time win list in 2010; Popovich has since surpassed him for that spot. “I never have been. I’ve got a great organization to work for that’s given me an opportunity to stay there for a long time. I’m very thankful for that and the coaches that I have with me. It’s not about me.”

He spent 34 years in the Jazz organization, as head coach, assistant, scout or senior basketball adviser. Sloan started as a scout, was promoted as an assistant under Frank Layden in 1984 and became the sixth coach in franchise history on Dec. 9, 1988, after Layden resigned.

“Like Stockton and Malone as players, Jerry Sloan epitomized the organization,” the Jazz said in a statement. “He will be greatly missed.”

Sloan’s longevity with the Jazz was remarkable. During his time in Utah, there were 245 coaching changes around the league and five teams — Charlotte, Memphis, Toronto, Orlando and Minnesota — did not even exist when he took the helm with the Jazz.

He also was the coach in Chicago for parts of three seasons, going 94-121. But his ties with the Bulls were much deeper. His No. 4 jersey was retired by the team after a playing career in which he averaged 14.0 points, 7.5 rebounds and 2.5 assists in 755 games over 11 NBA seasons.

They even called him “The Original Bull” because he was selected in the 1966 expansion draft and became a two-time All-Star known for his toughness and grit. He remains the only NBA player to average more than seven rebounds and more than two steals a game in his career.

“Jerry was the face of the Bulls organization from its inception through the mid-1970s, and very appropriately, his uniform No. 4 was the first jersey retired by the team,” Bulls chairman Jerry Reinsdorf said Friday. “A great player and a Hall of Fame NBA coach, most importantly, Jerry was a great person.”


AP Sports Writer Andrew Seligman in Chicago contributed.


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Gordon Monson: Are live sports still a price too high? We’re about to find out.



People who love sports are stuck in a coronavirus vortex that will not leave them be. It just spins them helplessly up and around, in a way that just as much shakes them down.

They miss live games. They want live games. They need live games. All while shuttered leagues like the NBA, NHL, MLB find themselves in a state of perpetual hope and scramble, searching for ways to get started again while the public, sporting and otherwise, wonders if it really will happen.

If sports will be sports again.

The NFL, in its offseason, is looking forward, acknowledging COVID-19, but not fully acquiescing to it, recently issuing its full, fall schedule.

Governors from New York, Texas and California now have said they are looking forward to having live games in the weeks and months ahead inside of stadiums in their realms — without fans.

College football, if there is a collective voice to that scattered, jumbled entity, seems as determined as anyone or anything to go all … Damn the droplets, full speed ahead!

That scaled determination varies from region to region, further fracturing a game that has always been splintered, never completely capable of unifying its competitive balance, nor its philosophies regarding how to properly crown a champion or run its business.

Now CFB has school presidents in some leagues saying, dadgumit, there will be a season and there will be fans in the stands, acting as though a virus that has paid no respect to any human power, no matter how full of pomp or position those powers think themselves to be, will suddenly genuflect to them.

Nobody, nothing, gets in the way of SEC football, man. It puts the free in freedom. And the gold in the athletic departments’ vaults. If people die en route, that’s just the cost of doing business. Freedom ain’t free.

We all get it, at least to some extent.

On the whole, sports is and are good — culturally, economically, and, in some places, spiritually. The spin of a ball is like the orbit of the earth — essential for proper living.

But I’ve talked with enough experts in public health, people who know much more about the ins and outs of COVID-19 than most, who are afraid, who left alone from political pressure are damn-near frozen in their fear of what might come next. They worry if sports are opened up too carelessly that those sports will close down again — in a rush to relieve too much illness and death.

Those experts don’t know everything, but what they do know raises questions about how to proceed through this pandemic. Many of them believe crowding people into stadiums, even at a reduced capacity, is risky and irresponsible.

They have other concerns, too.

What happens if there’s a second wave of the virus? Will leagues be able or willing to shut down, again, mid-pour, after putting so much effort into filling up and powering up?

If stadiums and arenas remain empty, how, specifically, will athletes on the field or court or ice or diamond stay safe? And what about the support staffs necessary to manage the competitions?

How much testing will be necessary to maintain good health? The NBA, NFL and MLB can afford to buy as much testing as they need, estimated numbers that regularly used blow into the multiple-thousands per league. But how will that look when tests are not so available to sick people and their families who need them more urgently?

And, then, what happens if an athlete tests positive and he is quarantined? Will his teammates play on? Will his coaches coach on? Will his trainers train on? Will his family and/or others around him live on?

It’s understandable that sports society wants the ball to be tipped, the ball to be kicked, the ball to be played, the puck to be dropped. It wants paralyzed arms and legs and hearts to pump again. It wants life to go on.

But disease can be unbending, uncooperative, unrelenting.

While there are those who want to move forward, to flout their freedom, especially the young and the restless, the impervious and the foolish, there are also those who rely on decision-makers to make the best choices for everyone. Half of Americans have some underlying health issue and some 70 million are of extra-vulnerable age to the coronavirus.

This is the medical crisis of a lifetime. With continued careful study and steps over a gap that must be bridged until a vaccine is found, effective medicine is concocted, it is prudent to step cautiously.

If games can be played safely, then do it.

The financial conditions here are severe, the considerations important. Those all affect people’s lives, too. But who wants to prematurely watch or cover or espouse the re-start of live sports if masses of people will die from them?

Even for those who love sports, that’s a price too high.

GORDON MONSON hosts “The Big Show” with Jake Scott weekdays from 2-7 p.m. on 97.5 FM and 1280 AM The Zone.


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