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Sports world reacts to John Madden’s death

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Sports world reacts to John Madden’s death

Legendary NFL coach and broadcaster John Madden died Tuesday morning at 85, the NFL announced. News of the football icon’s passing hit Twitter on Tuesday evening, and athletes, coaches and broadcasters from across the sports world reacted.

Fellow broadcasting legend Dick Vitale, who is currently battling cancer, called Madden “the greatest analyst of all time of any sport” in his Twitter tribute.

Former Yankees pitcher and notable Raiders fan CC Sabathia said “your legacy will live forever.” Madden coached the then-Oakland Raiders from 1969-78, a couple of years before Sabathia, a Vallejo, California native, was born. Lakers star LeBron James had similar words about Madden’s lasting legacy, adding an infinity emoji.

Former tennis star and social justice activist Billie Jean King recalled meeting Madden as a “privilege.”

Radio voice of the Rangers Kenny Albert, a five-sport broadcaster who’s been with FOX Sports since its inception in 1994, shared a photo circa 26 years ago to remember Madden.

ESPN’s Bomani Jones took a bit of a shot at current color commentators, noting that Madden “set an unreachable standard.”

Frank Caliendo, who’s made a career out of impersonations, including one for Madden, said he was surprised how emotional he felt.

Several football players, and others, including Saints running back Mark Ingram II and former Cowboys receiver Dez Bryant, credited Madden with being part of the reason why they love football.

Rams wide receiver and NFL MVP contender Cooper Kupp quote the late coach in his tribute: “The road to Easy Street goes through the sewer.”

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Miles McBride’s Knicks role will lessen with Kemba Walker’s resurgence

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Miles McBride’s Knicks role will lessen with Kemba Walker’s resurgence

MINNEAPOLIS — The Knicks got back another body in rookie point guard Miles McBride, who was cleared from protocols Tuesday and rejoined the team in Minnesota.

But there is no longer any hype for the rookie’s return. Kemba Walker is back as the starting point guard and coming off winning Eastern Conference Player of the Week honors with four standout games, including his Christmas Day spectacular. The Knicks have gone 2-2 since Walker regained the starting job.

“It’s great,’’ coach Tom Thibodeau said. “He had a great week. He’s playing great basketball. The team winning helps him get recognized and he was a big part of driving that winning. It’s great for the team.’’

McBride was also spectacular in his last outing before getting COVID-19, when he played the entire second half Dec. 16 in Houston and seemingly earned a spot in the rotation. In fact, McBride had strung together two decent outings before he was ruled out. But things have changed since his emergence and McBride is likely back to being a bit player.

Without a practice, McBride wasn’t even expected to see time when the Knicks faced the Timberwolves to kick off a four-game road trip.

Miles McBride
NBAE via Getty Images

Of course, with Walker’s arthritic knee, anything is possible. The Knicks play Detroit on Wednesday in a back-to-back, so it’s uncertain whether Walker will complete both contests. In addition, Immanuel Quickley is out of COVID-19 protocols but Thibodeau wasn’t sure he was ready for meaningful minutes.

That left Walker against the depleted Timberwolves, who were missing their three top players (Anthony Edwards, Karl-Anthony Towns, D’Angelo Russell), all because of COVID-19 .

Kemba Walker
Kemba Walker
USA TODAY Sports

When McBride got sidelined by the virus and Derrick Rose needed ankle surgery, Walker was resurrected by Thibodeau and it’s been a stunning comeback story.

Though Thibodeau has clear reservations about Walker based on his nine-game banishment due to his defensive malaise as an undersized point guard, he admitted after the Christmas Day triple-double against Atlanta that Walker is playing “much more aggressive.”

Walker’s triple-double that featured 10 points, 12 assists and 10 rebounds was a lot different than his prior outing, when he scored 44 points against Washington.

“I thought his passing was terrific,’’ Thibodeau said before the Knicks resumed their schedule.

“Kemba had control of the game. The game tells you what to do. That’s what I loved about the way he played. I don’t think he forced anything. They puts size on him and were aggressive in their pick-and-roll coverage. He didn’t fight it. He attacked pressure the way you like to attack pressure. You don’t fight pressure with pressure. Don’t try to split it. Get rid of it, go to the backside. Let the game tell you what to do.’’

The Knicks coach is finally seeing all the elements of what Walker can do. Before his demotion, Walker was nothing more than a no-defense, 3-point shooter whose plus-minus was an abysmal minus-122.

Thibodeau was also concerned about his durability in sitting out two of the three back-to-back sets. The last load management game in Atlanta in late November triggered Thibodeau’s decision.

But now it’s only superlatives from Thibodeau in judging the last four games.

“Sometimes it’s going to be his shooting, sometimes it’s his penetration and getting in the paint to force a collapse and sometimes they’re being aggressive with their traps get rid of the ball quickly,’’ Thibodeau said. “The overall play, his rebounding. When your guards rebound, those are key to fast breaks. The more guard rebounding we get the better we can be. ‘’

The Knicks still have three players in protocols — centers Nerlens Noel and Jericho Sims and the newly infected Wayne Selden. Quickley and Kevin Knox were cleared on Christmas but were held out for conditioning.

No matter. The Knicks go as Kemba goes.

“He’s much more aggressive,’’ Thibodeau said. “That was the challenge. At the beginning of the year he and Evan were two new starters. Sometimes guys are trying to fit in. he’s being very aggressive which is the way we want him to play. Not deferring at all. When he and Julius [Randle] are aggressive like that our team is different.’’

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Bar raises dramatically for Zach Wilson in matchup with Tom Brady, Buccaneers

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Zach Wilson and Tom Brady

When Zach Wilson stares across the MetLife Stadium field at the opposite sideline this Sunday, it won’t be Trevor Lawrence he’ll be looking at as his game-day counterpart.

Lawrence, drafted by Jacksonville one spot before the Jets selected Wilson at No. 2 overall last April, is a contemporary.

This Sunday at MetLife, the Jets rookie quarterback won’t be staring at a contemporary on the other sideline. He’ll be staring at the GOAT.

Tom Brady.

The bar raises dramatically for Wilson and the Jets, who are coming off of their feel-good, get-well win over the woeful Jaguars and Lawrence this past Sunday.

Brady and Buccaneers, who are 11-4, NFC South division champions and seeking to repeat as Super Bowl champions, play the Jets, who are 4-11 and seeking more signs of development from their rookie quarterback.

To say this is a step up in competition for Wilson and the Jets going from Lawrence and the Jags to Brady and the Bucs is as obvious as pointing out that Tampa Bay receiver Antonio Brown has had a few off-the-field incidents during his otherwise stellar NFL career.

There hasn’t been a lot to keep the interest of the Jets fan this season — other than watching Wilson’s development. That took an unfortunate pause for the four games Wilson missed with a knee injury, but he’s been back for five games and has looked like a better quarterback, throwing only two interceptions in those games (none in the last three) since returning from his injury.

The problem, though, is that Wilson hasn’t been producing enough touchdowns, throwing for three of them and rushing for four others in the past five games.

Zach Wilson and Tom Brady
Zach Wilson and Tom Brady
N.Y. Post: Charles Wenzelberg; AP

Baby steps, though.

Wilson was the better quarterback this past Sunday when matched up with Lawrence, who threw for more yards than Wilson did, but Wilson ran for 91 yards, including his electric 52-yard scoring jaunt, and made key throws when he needed them.

Wilson will not win Sunday’s game against Brady and the Bucs throwing for the 102 yards he had against the Jaguars. He and the Jets will need more.

Consider this: Brady enters the game having thrown 37 TD passes and for 4,580 yards this season and averages a league-high 305.2 passing yards per game.

Then this: The Buccaneers average 29.5 points per game this season, second most in the NFL.

And this: Wilson doesn’t have a single 300-yard passing game, averages 183 passing yards per game and has thrown seven TD passes in 11 games.

Seven TD passes is a pedestrian two-game total for Brady.

Wilson and the Jets are playing with house money anyway in what always has been a developmental season, so Sunday against Brady should, at its very least, be a great measuring-stick learning experience for Wilson, who’s studied Brady on tape.

Wilson revealed this month that he watched film of Brady before the Jets played the Eagles on Dec. 5 in an effort to pick up tips on how Brady worked against the Eagles defense when he played them earlier in the season.

“I thought it was really cool to see kind of how he went through his whole process, how he navigated the pocket, different things like that,” Wilson said at the time.

On Sunday, Wilson gets to see that process up close as Brady tries to dissect a Jets defense that has yielded 29.9 points per game this season, the most in the NFL.

That puts an added onus on Wilson to produce on the other side of the ball, because he knows Brady is going to get his. Wilson will likely need to produce four TDs — any way he can — for the Jets to simply remain competitive with the Super Bowl champs.

That’s a lot to ask of a 22-year-old kid who’s produced just 11 TDs in his 11 starts, up against Brady, who’s thrown 618 TD passes and for 83,784 yards in his remarkable career.

It, too, is a lot to ask playing against an aggressive Tampa Bay defense that’s ranked No. 9 in the NFL in points allowed (20.8 per game) and is led by former Jets head coach Todd Bowles, who’d surely like to send a holiday message to his former employer.

If you don’t think Bowles will be blitzing the bejesus out of Wilson, then you probably think Antonio Brown is a living saint.

The good news for the Jets is that Wilson has shown incremental improvements, particularly when it comes to his decision-making and quicker releases on his throws.

“He’s coming along, he’s getting more comfortable, he’s calmer back there,’’ Jets coach Robert Saleh said Monday. “He’s in a great headspace and it’s going to be fun to watch him grow, continue to grow.’’

A big part of that growth will take place this Sunday as he watches the GOAT operate from the opposite sideline at MetLife.

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Former Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid passes away at 82

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Former Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid passes away at 82

Former Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, one of the most powerful figures in Washington during the Obama administration, died Tuesday after a four-year battle with pancreatic cancer. He was 82 years old.

The Democrat, Nevada’s longest-serving member of Congress, died “peacefully” surrounded by friends, said his wife, Landra Reid.

“Harry was a devout family man and deeply loyal friend,” she said in a statement.

“We greatly appreciate the outpouring of support from so many over these past few years. We are especially grateful for the doctors and nurses that cared for him. Please know that meant the world to him.”

A onetime amateur boxer and product of the Las Vegas Democratic machine, Reid spent four years in the House of Representatives before he was elected to the Senate in 1986. He spent the next 30 years in the upper chamber of Congress, serving as majority leader from 2007 until 2015.

He built a reputation for a brusque and bruising political style while in office. Former President Obama was among those that noted the former speaker’s tendency to abruptly end phone calls without saying goodbye.

Former Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid has passed away at the age of 82 years old.
AP Photo/Jose Luis Magana, File

In lieu of a statement, Obama shared on Tuesday a letter he wrote to Reid at Landra’s request as the ex-Senate leader neared his end.

“I got the news that the health situation has taken a rough turn, and that it’s hard to talk on the phone,” the letter began. “Which, let’s face it, is not that big of a change cause you never liked to talk on the phone anyway!”

“I wouldn’t have been president had it not been for your encouragement and support, and I wouldn’t have got most of what I got done without your skill and determination,” Obama wrote, calling Reid a good friend.

“As different as we are, I think we both saw something of ourselves in each other – a couple of outsiders who had defied the odds and knew how to take a punch and cared about the little guy. And you know what, we made for a pretty good team.”

President Joe Biden said in a statement that if Reid “gave you his word, you could bank on it.”

“I’ve had the honor of serving with some of the all-time great Senate Majority Leaders in history,” said Biden, who served with Reid in the Senate and as vice president under Obama.

“Harry Reid was one of them. And for Harry, it wasn’t about power for power’s sake. It was about the power to do right for the people.”

Former Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid
Former Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid was first elected to the upper chamber of Congress in 1986.
Getty Images

Senate Republican Minority Leader Mitch McConnell cited Reid’s “legendary toughness, bluntness, and tenacity” in a statement.

“The nature of Harry’s and my jobs brought us into frequent and sometimes intense conflict over politics and policy,” the Kentucky Republican said. “But I never doubted that Harry was always doing what he earnestly, deeply felt was right for Nevada and our country. He will rightly go down in history as a crucial, pivotal figure in the development and history of his beloved home state.”

Former Republican House Speaker John Boehner called Reid “a fighter until the end” in a statement.

“I am sad tonight but grateful for the friendship I had with Harry,” Boehner said. “We disagreed on many things, sometimes famously. But we were always honest with each other. In the years after we left public service, that honesty became a bond.”

Current Senate Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) called Reid “my leader, my mentor, and one of my dearest friends.

“Harry Reid was one of the most amazing individuals I’ve ever met,” Schumer said in a statement. “He was a boxer who came from humble origins, but he never forgot where he came from and used those boxing instincts to fearlessly fight those who were hurting the poor and the middle class.”

Reid was born in Searchlight and raised in a small cabin without indoor plumbing. His alcoholic father killed himself at age 58, The Associated Press reported, and Reid swam at a local brothel and hitchhiked to high school.

He married his wife in 1959 and put himself through George Washington University while working as a Capitol officer, the AP stated.

Former Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid
Former Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid famously claimed that the 2012 Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney did not pay taxes.
Getty Images

He entered politics as a Nevada state lawmaker and eventually became the youngest lieutenant governor in state history under Gov. Mike O’Callaghan.

Reid grew to be one of the most influential politicians in the state, and he successfully pushed for Nevada to move its caucuses up to February – early enough in presidential nominating processes that the state gained some national sway and drew attention from candidates of both parties. He also worked against a planned nuclear waste facility that was planned at Yucca Mountain in the state.

He grew a brand as a conservative Democrat, voting against many gun control bills as a lawmaker, and he often faced formidable challenges at the polls.

Reid will also be remembered for changing the Senate rules in 2013 to lower the threshold for confirming Barack Obama’s judicial nominees from 60 votes to a simple majority. 

It didn’t take long for Reid’s maneuver to backfire on Democrats. Republicans regained control of the Senate in 2014 and GOP leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) — who had warned Reid and his cohorts upon the rule change: “You’ll regret this, and you may regret this a lot sooner than you think”  — expanded the use of the so-called “nuclear option” to get all three of Donald Trump’s nominees confirmed to the highest court in the land. 

Then Senate Minority Leader Sen. Harry Reid smiles with then Vice President Joe Biden during his leadership portrait unveiling ceremony on Dec. 8, 2016.
Then Senate Minority Leader Sen. Harry Reid smiles with then Vice President Joe Biden during his leadership portrait unveiling ceremony on Dec. 8, 2016.
Getty Images

A year before forcing the rule change through the Senate, Reid earned the undying enmity of many Republicans when he falsely claimed on the chamber floor during the 2012 presidential campaign that GOP nominee Mitt Romney had not paid any taxes during the previous decade. 

Reid never retracted the claim or apologized for slandering Romney. When asked about the accusation in a 2015 CNN interview, Reid retorted: “Romney didn’t win, did he?”

The following year, Reid tripled down on his scurrilous claim in an interview with the Washington Post, calling it “one of the best things I’ve ever done.”

“Here’s something I learned from my father,” Reid told the paper. “If you’re going to do something, don’t do it half-assed. Don’t play around. With the Mitt Romney stuff, I didn’t play around.”

Earlier this month, the Las Vegas airport was renamed Harry Reid International Airport but the ailing Reid wasn’t able to attend the dedication ceremony.

With Post wires

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