Magic Johnson, Kevin Love, Others Remember Jackie Robinson

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Jackie Robinson, most recently immortalized in last year’s baseball film, 42, is a sports icon—in large part due to the significant contribution he made to all sports in being the first African-American to play in Major League Baseball during racial segregation (prior to the Civil Rights Movement).

Robinson broke the color barrier in baseball when he started for the Brooklyn Dodgers 67 years ago on this very day, April 15, 1947.

10 years ago, in 2004, Major League Baseball decided to commemorate Robinson’s legacy by beginning a tradition, known as Jackie Robinson Day, in which all uniformed players and managers wear the number 42 to honor his legacy.

Rookie Rankings, Week 21: Gorgui Dieng’s Late-Season Surge

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Gorgui DiengWe have reached the point of the season where teams that are out of the playoff race start giving more playing time to their younger players to see what they may have.

One of those teams is the Minnesota Timberwolves, who may have something in rookie big man Gorgui Dieng.

New Timberwolves GM Flip Saunders spent the offseason loading his roster with veterans such as Kevin Martin, Corey Brewer and Ronny Turiaf in hope of making the playoffs for the first time since 2004. While Minnesota (35-35) already has surpassed last season’s win total, break-even ball doesn’t get it done in the Western Conference.

While the veterans got most of the minutes, Dieng and fellow rookie Shabazz Muhammad – both acquired in a draff day swap that sent Trey Burke to Utah – mostly sat and watched. Through the first 64 games, Dieng accumulated 22 DNPs as Turiaf backed up Nikola Pekovic in the middle.

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Bernucca: You Can Have the NCAA Tournament

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sportsWICHITAstate_t640I don’t like the NCAA Tournament.

I don’t like that college basketball’s regular season provides little postseason incentive. I don’t like that the coach is a bigger personality than the players. I don’t like that the games are played on neutral courts. I don’t like that one bad game or bad call or bad break can end a team’s season. I don’t like that “close” becomes a synonym for “well-played.” And I don’t like that poor play determines the outcome much more often than great play.

Most of all, I don’t like how I’m supposed to just accept that it’s fantastic and wonderful and beautiful, when it’s actually substandard basketball in a flawed format that tells me less and less every year about the game I love, which is the NBA.

I’m not trolling here. As anyone who knows me will tell you, I’ve truly felt this way for a while. Part of it is admittedly a lingering distaste developed over more than a decade of working on a sports news desk and spending countless hours having to plan, preview, write, edit, update and package all of the words and numbers associated with the NCAA Tournament.

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Rookie Rankings, Week 20: Who Will Impact the Playoff Push?

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While Victor Oladipo and Trey Burke chase Michael Carter-Williams for Rookie of the Year, a handful of anticother rookies are helping their teams chase postseason berths and higher seeds.

The Eastern Conference has three teams in the playoff chase whose finish will be somewhat impacted by the play of their rookies. The Western Conference has five teams in the hunt with rookies playing a prominent role.

The team relying most on rookies is undoubtedly the Atlanta Hawks, who have two rookies in their rotation as they try to hold off the New York Knicks for the final playoff berth in the East.

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Tweet of the Night: Flip Saunders says Love did not ask to be traded

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Kevin LoveWith the trade deadline less than 24 hours away, there have been some rumors about  the interest in Kevin Love from teams like the Los Angeles Lakers and Dallas Mavericks. This is no surprise: who wouldn’t want to go after one of the best power forwards in the league?

The real question is, why would a report surface about the desire to go after him if he isn’t available? Are the Minnesota Timberwolves considering the idea of shopping him in fear that Love may eventually leave them due to the lack of improvement of their roster? That can’t be true because the front office has already said a number of times that he isn’t going anywhere. It could be that those teams will try to go to extreme measures and offer up ridiculous assets to try to acquire him, but Flip Saunders has never shown any hint of interest in trading his best player away, and that sentiment continued on Wednesday.

For the time being, Love isn’t going anywhere.

Tweet of the Night: Dion Waiters provides an update on his knee injury after game against 76ers

Tweet of the Day: Pau Gasol Supports Lamar Odom

James Park is the chief blogger of Sheridan Hoops. You can find him on twitter @SheridanBlog.