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NBA star Rudy Gobert brushes off criticism of missing playoff game for birth of first child

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NBA star Rudy Gobert brushes off criticism of missing playoff game for birth of first child

Rudy Gobert made the decision to miss a playoff game in order to be there for the birth of his first child.

The now four-time Defensive Player of the Year missed his Minnesota Timberwolves second-round game against the Denver Nuggets (Minnesota won), and it drew controversy.

Much of the controversy came from ex-NBA star Gilbert Arenas, who said that the baby is “going to be asleep.”

Rudy Gobert #27 of the Minnesota Timberwolves warms up before the game against the Denver Nuggets during Round One Game Two of the 2023 NBA Playoffs on April 19, 2023 at the Ball Arena in Denver, Colorado.  (Bart Young/NBAE via Getty Images)

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Gobert heard all the noise, and he brushed it off without much effort, saying he had made this decision long ago.

“This is one thing I decided I was never going to miss in my life,” Gobert told FOX Sports. “I love this game. I dedicated my whole life to this game. But this is one thing that is above that. And that’s being there for the birth of my child. I think everyone in this locker room understands that.”

Rough timing almost caught Scottie Scheffler during the Masters, who said he wouldn’t even think twice about leaving Augusta National if his wife were to give birth during the tournament.

Rudy Gobert plays against the Phoenix Suns

Rudy Gobert #27 of the Minnesota Timberwolves during the second half of the NBA game at Footprint Center on March 29, 2023 in Phoenix, Arizona. The Suns defeated the Timberwolves 107-100.   (Christian Petersen/Getty Images)

BILL WALTON’S FORMER COLLEAGUE, JIM GRAY, ‘HEARTBROKEN’ OVER DEATH OF ‘BEST FRIEND’: ‘A NATIONAL TREASURE’

Thankfully, Scheffler’s wife held on, and he was able to win his second green jacket, both of which came within the last three years. 

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Their first child was born just a couple weeks before the PGA Championship, where he was then famously arrested.

Gobert’s T-Wolves, though, are now in trouble, as they face getting swept by the Dallas Mavericks in the Western Conference Finals. The Boston Celtics completed the sweep of the Indiana Pacers on Monday night to make it back to the NBA Finals.

Rudy Gobert during warmups

Rudy Gobert #27 of the Minnesota Timberwolves warms up before the game against the New Orleans Pelicans at Target Center on April 9, 2023 in Minneapolis, Minnesota. (Stephen Maturen/Getty Images)

If the Wolves come back and win, it would be the first 3-0 comeback in NBA history. Ironically, their part-owner Alex Rodriguez was on the losing side of the one time it happened in Major League Baseball, as he was on the 2004 New York Yankees.

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Dodgers drop series to Rangers after stars fail to deliver in key moment

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Dodgers drop series to Rangers after stars fail to deliver in key moment

The table could not have been set any better for the Dodgers on Thursday night, their two-run deficit seemingly on the verge of disappearing in the eighth inning after Cavan Biggio was hit by a pitch and Austin Barnes singled to right field, putting runners on first and third with no outs for the top of the order.

But three of the best hitters in baseball, a trio that has four most valuable player awards among them and has combined for 36 home runs and 125 RBIs this season, failed to deliver in an eventual 3-1 loss to the Texas Rangers before 50,134 at Dodger Stadium.

Veteran right-hander Michael Lorenzen threw seven strong innings for the Rangers, giving up one run and four hits, striking out two and walking one, his only blemish a hanging sweeper that Andy Pages lined into the left-field seats for a solo homer that pulled the Dodgers to within 3-1 in the seventh.

Setup man David Robertson replaced Lorenzen to start the eighth and hit Biggio, the No. 8 batter, in the back foot with a breaking ball. Barnes, the No. 9 hitter, followed with a single to right to put men on the corners.

But leadoff man Mooke Betts and No. 2 hitter Shohei Ohtani each struck out on three pitches, Betts swinging through a 93-mph cut-fastball and Ohtani whiffing on an 86-mph, down-and-in knuckle-curve.

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Freddie Freeman worked a five-pitch at-bat but struck out swinging through an 89-mph knuckle-curve, making Robertson the only pitcher this season to strike out Betts, Ohtani and Freeman in succession. The Rangers right-hander also accomplished the feat in the eighth inning Wednesday night.

Dodgers shortstop Mookie Betts leaps over Rangers baserunner Adolis Garcia to complete a double play in the fifth inning Thursday.

(Wally Skalij / Los Angeles Times)

Texas closer Kirby Yates struck out three of four batters in the ninth for his 10th save, including a 10-pitch battle against Jason Heyward that ended with the Dodgers right fielder swinging through an 86-mph split-fingered fastball.

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With Yoshinobu Yamamoto’s start pushed from Thursday night to Saturday to give the right-hander extra rest after he threw a season-high 106 pitches in a 2-1 win over the New York Yankees on June 7, the Dodgers opted for a bullpen game on Thursday night.

The Dodgers have excelled in such games, going 13-8 with a 3.86 ERA in 21 of them since the start of 2022, including a June 21, 2023, shutout in which seven relievers combined to allow two hits in a 2-0 win over the Angels, a relay effort that turned that season around for a struggling bullpen.

The Dodgers also caught a break when Rangers slugger Corey Seager, whose three-run homer off Walker Buehler powered Texas to a 3-2 win on Wednesday night, was scratched an hour before the game because of left-hamstring tightness, an injury that has hampered the shortstop for the past week.

But this one did not start well for the Dodgers, as “opener” Michael Grove allowed three hits in a two-run first inning and “bulk man” Ryan Yarbrough gave up two singles and walked three in the third inning but somehow limited the damage to one run.

Andy Pages hits a solo home run for the Dodgers in the seventh inning Thursday.

Andy Pages hits a solo home run for the Dodgers in the seventh inning Thursday.

(Wally Skalij / Los Angeles Times)

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Josh Smith and Adolis Garcia hit one-out singles in the first inning, and Smith scored on Nathaniel Lowe’s RBI groundout for a 1-0 Texas lead. Wyatt Langford then flared an RBI single to shallow right field that left his bat at 67 mph and traveled just 181 feet to push the lead to 2-0.

Marcus Semien led off the third with a single to center off Yarbrough and took second on Smith’s sacrifice bunt. Adolis Garcia walked. Semien was thrown out at third on the front end of a double-steal attempt, but Lowe walked to put two on.

Langford then burned the Dodgers with another bloop RBI single, this one leaving his bat at 60 mph and traveling 167 feet to shallow right field and just beyond the glove of first baseman Freeman for a 3-0 lead.

Yarbrough walked Jonah Heim to load the bases but struck out Travis Jankowski with a 72-mph curve to prevent further damage.

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The Dodgers’ bullpen then found its footing, with Yarbrough throwing a scoreless fourth, right-hander Yohan Ramirez allowing one hit in a scoreless fifth and sixth, and right-hander Blake Treinen (seventh), left-hander Alex Vesia (eighth) and right-hander Evan Phillips (ninth) adding scoreless innings.

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Kylie Kelce shares thoughts on Harrison Butker's commencement speech: 'Support each other in our choices'

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Kylie Kelce shares thoughts on Harrison Butker's commencement speech: 'Support each other in our choices'

Kylie Kelce, the wife of Philadelphia Eagles great Jason Kelce, shared her thoughts on Harrison Butker’s faith-based commencement speech at Benedictine College last month, which sparked wide debate. 

The Kansas City Chiefs kicker’s speech, during which he urged women graduates to embrace being a “homemaker,” led to attacks from those who believed he was diminishing the role of women in communities. 

Kelce, who was working with the Eagles Autism Foundation to share activities with kids on and off the spectrum Thursday, was asked during an interview what she thought about Butker’s speech, especially being a mother of three. 

Kylie Kelce on NBC April 1, 2024. (Nathan Congleton/NBC via Getty Images)

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“I think that everyone is entitled to their own opinion,” she said, via Cheddar. “I hope that, if anyone does not align with those views in that graduating class, that they know they achieved something. Those women graduating in that class have achieved something that no one can take away from them. Their education will stick with them for the rest of their lives. I hope that they were appropriately celebrated if that was not their view. 

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“If it was, and they’re looking forward to making a family and being a stay-at-home mom, then more power to them.

CHIEFS’ TRAVIS KELCE DEFENDS HARRISON BUTKER AS ‘A GREAT PERSON AND A GREAT TEAMMATE,’ DESPITE DIFFERING VIEWS

“I think, as women, we should support each other in our choices and make sure that we feel as though we can do whatever we would like to do,” she said.

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“So, hopefully, those graduating know that, at the very least, I’m very proud of them and hope that they go on to do whatever makes their heart happy.”

Kylie Kelce in NYC

Kylie Kelce attends the 2023 Night of Too Many Stars benefiting Next for Autism at the Beacon Theatre Dec. 11, 2023, in New York City. (Kevin Mazur/Getty Images for Night of Too Many Stars)

Butker recently stood by his commencement speech while making his first public appearance since his time at Benedictine College. He appeared at the Courage Under Fire Gala in Nashville in late May, which was presented by the Regina Caeli Academy. It’s an institution that “encourages our students to strive for excellence in academics as well as in virtuous living, self-discipline and accountability through a classical education taught in the light of the Catholic tradition.”

“The theme for tonight’s gala, ‘Courage Under Fire’, was decided many months ago, but it now feels providential that this would be the theme after what we have all witnessed these last two weeks,” Butker said. “If it wasn’t clear that the timeless Catholic values are hated by many, it is now.”

Butker continued by saying he understands he’s become a “more polarizing” figure because he spoke about his beliefs, but he won’t be changing them for anyone. 

“Our love for Jesus, and thus, our desire to speak out, should never be outweighed by the longing of our fallen nature to be loved by the world,” he said. “Glorifying God and not ourselves should always remain our motivation despite any pushback or even support. I lean on those closest to me for guidance, but I can never forget that it is not people, but Jesus Christ who I’m trying to please.”

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Butker’s Chiefs peers have defended his character despite their differences in views, including Kelce’s brother-in-law, star tight end Travis Kelce. 

Kylie Kelce and Harrison Butker side by side

Kylie Kelce gave her opinion on Harrison Butker’s faith-based commencement speech at Benedictine College last month. (Getty Images)

“I’ve known him for seven-plus years, probably, eight-plus years. And I cherish him as a teammate,” Kelce said of Butker, whom he calls “Harry.” 

“I think Pat [Mahomes] said it best, where he is every bit of a great person and a great teammate. He’s treated friends and family that I’ve introduced to him with nothing but respect and kindness, and that’s how he treats everyone.

“I can’t say I agree with the majority of [the speech] or just about any of it, outside of just him loving his family and his kids. And I don’t think that I should judge him by his views, especially his religious views, of how to go about life. That’s just not who I am.”

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With her husband retiring after the most recent NFL season, Kylie Kelce continues to work on helping her community with the Eagles Autism Foundation, which was created by Eagles owner Jeffrey Lurie, who drew inspiration for the project from his autistic brother. 

Fox News’ Ryan Morik and Paulina Dedaj contributed to this report.

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Justin Herbert must adjust to Chargers' new philosophy that running is not passé

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Justin Herbert must adjust to Chargers' new philosophy that running is not passé

No quarterback in NFL history has attempted more passes per game than Justin Herbert.

His 39.1 mark over the last four seasons edges Andrew Luck, with Patrick Mahomes and Matthew Stafford next on the list.

Now, Herbert is playing for a head coach and offensive coordinator who, since their arrivals five months ago, have talked extensively about emphasizing the run game.

“Selfishly as a quarterback I’d love to throw the ball every time,” Herbert said Thursday. “But if we throw it one time or we throw it 100 times, as long as we’re winning and finding a way to do that, it’s good with me.”

After the Chargers wrapped up their three-day minicamp in Costa Mesa, Herbert met with the local media for the first time since the team brought in Jim Harbaugh and Greg Roman.

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The new regime — including general manager Joe Hortiz — first reshaped the roster to try to become more powerful and physical. Roman then spent the several weeks introducing an offense designed to operate from the ground up.

The Chargers’ new additions include running backs Gus Edwards, who is known of his downhill approach, and J.K. Dobbins, whose explosiveness has resulted in per-carry career average of 5.8 yards.

“We don’t have pads on, so you can’t really feel the impact of the run game right now,” Herbert said. “But you can feel the juice. They’ve got energy. They bring it.”

The overall theme has been to establish a run-pass balance, a clear departure from how the Chargers have played offensively since Herbert took over as the starter in Week 2 of his rookie year.

“The way that we’ve installed everything,” Herbert said, “we want to be able to do everything.”

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Except for the Chargers’ Week 14 loss to Denver last season — when Herbert left the game early because of a finger injury — he has attempted at least 24 passes in each of his career starts.

Along the way, he set numerous franchise and league records and made the Pro Bowl in 2021. Herbert’s right arm has been celebrated as few others, Harbaugh just this week noting the velocity it can generate.

But the Chargers are only 30-32 in Herbert’s starts. They’ve played one postseason game with him at quarterback and are coming off a five-win finish that led to all the leadership changes.

So, it’s not difficult to believe Herbert when he says winning is more significant to him, even while joking that, when it comes to passing the ball, “the more the better.”

In his conversations with Roman, Herbert said the message has been to involve the playmakers, take care of the ball and — if the defense has a decided advantage or there is risk of a turnover — “punting is not the worst-case scenario.”

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The ultimate goal of the offense, Herbert explained, is to produce completions, explosive plays and touchdowns, but the Chargers aren’t going to simply force the passing game.

Harbaugh spent 14 years in the NFL as a player, starting games at quarterback for Chicago, Indianapolis, Baltimore and the Chargers. Herbert said his head coach brings “great perspective” each time he sits in the quarterback meetings.

Similarly, Harbaugh spent several minutes during two recent media sessions praising everything from Herbert’s physical skills to his mental capacity to his overall leadership.

“Nobody in this organization has played quarterback at the high level that he has,” Harbaugh said. “There’s an expertise there that has been extremely valuable.”

When the Chargers met on the field for the final time Thursday before breaking for the start of summer, Herbert was the player Harbaugh tabbed to address the group.

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Chargers safety Derwin James Jr. (3) flips a football while watching practice.

(Allen J. Schaben / Los Angeles Times)

Herbert said he spoke about the importance of not allowing the offseason-program work to go to waste. He said he encouraged his teammates to remain diligent in their preparation for training camp, which starts in late July.

“If we’re going to be the team we want to be, it starts now,” Herbert told reporters later. “It’s starts when we’re on our own and having that level of loyalty and dedication and integrity.”

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Safety Derwin James Jr., another of the Chargers’ acknowledged leaders, also spoke publicly for the first time in months Thursday, saying the renewed atmosphere surrounding the team “feels like Christmas.”

James called Harbaugh “the most powerful leader I’ve seen” and highlighted his ability to command a room just by walking through the door. Like several of his teammates this offseason, James said the mood is different.

“Every year, you’re going to feel like you’re the team to beat, feel like you’re going to the Super Bowl,” James said. “But this year it just feels right. … I can’t wait to play ’cause I really believe it’s going to be special.”

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