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The N.B.A. Finals’ Big Moment Finds Andre Iguodala, an Unselfish Warrior

June 14, 2017 Taylor 0

OAKLAND, Calif. — On the morning of what would prove to be their final day of the postseason, the Golden State Warriors held a voluntary shootaround at their practice site. Everyone showed up. At one point, Coach Steve Kerr made his way over to Andre Iguodala and asked him a simple question: “How many minutes you got?”

The Warriors were a few hours from facing the Cleveland Cavaliers in Game 5 of the N.B.A. finals. In truth, Kerr’s question was more of a plea. He desperately wanted to close out the Cavaliers at home, and he hoped he could rely on Iguodala — even more than usual — to help make that happen.

“Whatever you need,” Iguodala recalled telling Kerr. “I’ll be ready.”

It was a subtle exchange that stuck with Iguodala, 33, as he prepared for the game. It gave him a good feeling, he said, knowing that his coach planned to lean on him. Sure enough, Iguodala went out Monday night and assembled one of the finest games of his career. He defended LeBron James. He hopped into his time machine and soared for dunks. He encouraged his teammates and enthralled the crowd.

“Andre lives for the big moment,” his teammate Draymond Green said.

By the end of the evening, Iguodala was a champion for the second time: Warriors 129, Cavaliers 120. He also made good on his pledge to Kerr, contributing 38 minutes 7 seconds of near-flawless playing time off the bench. He scored 20 points and shot 9 of 14 from the field. The Warriors outscored the Cavaliers by 18 points when he was on the court.

“I’ve been so stressed the last three, four weeks,” Iguodala said. “I told my wife right after the game, like: ‘I’m so sorry. It’s just been so stressful.’”

If nothing else, Iguodala has a unique ability to channel that stress for the greater good.

In Game 5, Kerr shortened his rotation. Ian Clark and JaVale McGee, who had been steady reserves throughout the postseason, did not shed their warm-ups. Instead, Kerr broke the emergency glass and summoned Iguodala to supply the most minutes he had in a game since December. In so many ways, Iguodala held it all together.

“You have to embrace it,” he said. “It’s really just sacrificing to make sure everybody else is eating. But then you want to look for yourself sometimes. Like, you want to show people what you can do.”

Iguodala is as much a symbol of the Warriors’ willingness to sacrifice as anyone on the team. At the start of the 2014-15 season, which was Kerr’s first as the Warriors’ coach, Kerr persuaded Iguodala, a former All-Star, to give up his role as a starter and come off the bench. Iguodala agreed to do it, and the Warriors went on to defeat the Cavaliers in the finals that season.

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7 Tips for Volleyball Tryouts

June 14, 2017 Taylor 0

Bump, set, spike! If that phrase means nothing to you, you could use a bit more practice before volleyball tryouts this fall. Read our tips to prepare before you step onto the court.

Fit to Play

Coach Tom Turco of the celebrated Barnstable High School volleyball team in Massachusetts—who led his team to 17 state championships—ladvises his athletes to be in top shape before tryouts.

“[I tell them] that they need to be in very good physical condition and give them info on formal group workout sessions throughout the summer,” Turco says.

Find a group class you can join at your local gym or recreation center to stay in shape ahead of tryouts. For reference, Turco’s players are required to run a mile in less than eight minutes. If you can’t join a gym, find a friend to meet for workouts.

Find an Outside League

Practicing in the off-season serves as a skill-polishing session in itself. Consider joining a club or recreational team. Rec leagues may be the best bet if you’re just starting off, while club teams are generally more competitive (and expensive).

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A Football Coach’s Struggle With C.T.E. — and a Guilty Conscience

June 14, 2017 Taylor 0

RALEIGH, N.C. — In the last years of his life, the longtime football coach for dominating college teams wrestled with impaired speech, forgetfulness, lapses in concentration. And with his conscience.

His body was betraying him, and now, possibly, so was the sport he loved.

A few years earlier, the coach, Don Horton, had learned that he had Parkinson’s disease, but these new, intensifying infirmities were more commonly linked to chronic traumatic encephalopathy, or C.T.E., a degenerative brain disease caused by repeated hits to the head and linked to football and other contact sports.

Was his deteriorating health, Horton wondered, a consequence of his many years as a football lineman? Even worse, he worried, was he responsible for exposing hundreds of players to the kind of head trauma now impairing his life? After all, as a prominent assistant coach at Boston College and North Carolina State for nearly 20 years, he had recruited and encouraged scores of athletes to play major college football.

In the still of night at home, Horton asked himself what he should say if a parent of a former recruit called to say that a son was suffering from C.T.E.-like symptoms.

“And I would tell him that he could say: ‘I know how it feels,’” his wife, Maura Horton, responded. “And Don didn’t necessarily like that answer. But that’s the truth.”

There was only one way to be sure if he had C.T.E. His brain would have to be examined post-mortem, the only way to confirm the disease since there is no reliable test for the living. At first Horton balked, but as his cognitive difficulties intensified, he relented and even insisted that the findings of his brain examination be made public.

Horton died almost one year ago, on May 28. He was 58. Multiple news reports celebrated his accomplishments, and hundreds of former players and colleagues attended his funeral. Quietly, researchers at Boston University’s C.T.E. Center received his brain; the results would not be revealed for nearly 10 months.