<![CDATA[NBC Connecticut - Sports]]>Copyright 2016http://www.nbcconnecticut.com/news/sports http://media.nbcbayarea.com/designimages/NBC_Connecticut.png NBC Connecticut http://www.nbcconnecticut.comen-usMon, 02 May 2016 23:08:43 -0400Mon, 02 May 2016 23:08:43 -0400NBC Owned Television Stations <![CDATA[Ex-49er Raped Disabled Woman: DA]]> Mon, 02 May 2016 22:28:46 -0400 http://media.nbcconnecticut.com/images/213*120/0502-2016-DanaStubblefield.jpg

Former San Francisco 49er Dana Stubblefield was charged Monday with the rape of a disabled woman after an investigation that lasted over a year, according to Santa Clara County District Attorney's Office.

Stubblefield, 45, faces five felony counts related to the alleged assault, according to the DA’s office. The April 2015 incident occurred at Stubblefield’s home in Morgan Hill, where the woman, who is developmentally disabled, had been asked to interview for a babysitter job, prosecutors said.

The woman, who was 31 at the time, immediately went to the Morgan Hill Police Department to report she was raped, according to prosecutors. Stubblefield contacted her through babysitter-website Sittercity.com, and the incident allegedly occured April 9, 2015.

“This was a crime of violence against a vulnerable victim,” Deputy District Attorney Tim McInerny said. “She was looking for a job and she was unconscionably assaulted.”

Sitterycity Senior Vice President Jeremy Gottschalk released the following statement Monday:

“We were shocked and horrified to learn today about the charges against former NFL football player Dana Stubblefield. As an online network where care providers and families connect, safety is paramount. Upon learning of this incident, we immediately reached out to the Morgan Hill police department to offer our assistance in the investigation involving Mr. Stubblefield. Our hearts go out to the victim and her family.”

Stubblefield was booked into jail on Monday after an investigation that lasted nearly 13 months. He was out of late Monday after posting bail, which was set at $250,000. The date of his arraignment at the South County Courthouse in Morgan Hill will be set within 24 hours, according to the DA’s office.

It was not immediately clear if Stubblefield had an attorney.

In 2010, a federal judge sentenced the former 49ers star to 90 days in jail for stealing his former girlfriend's mail. Also that year, Stubblefield admitted submitting a change of address form so his former girlfriend's mail, including her unemployment checks, would be delivered to his residence.

Stubblefield was placed on probation in 2009 after pleading guilty to lying to investigators about his steroid use during his playing days.

Stubblefield played 11 seasons in the NFL, including the first five with the 49ers. He later returned to the 49ers in 2001 and '02, before finishing his career with the Oakland Raiders.

Stubblefield, a first-round pick of the 49ers' in 1993, recorded 10.5 sacks and was named the NFL Defensive Rookie of the Year. He was named the NFL’s Defensive Player of the Year with a career-high 15 sacks in 1997. He signed a lucrative contract with Washington in 1998.

He was also an assistant coach at San Jose's Valley Christian High School.

Photo Credit: Morgan Hill Police Department]]>
<![CDATA[Fairy Tale Champions: Why Long-Shot Leicester Matters]]> Mon, 02 May 2016 19:37:19 -0400 http://media.nbcconnecticut.com/images/213*120/521847280-premier-league-champions-leicester-city.jpg

Long-shot Leicester City, a soccer team most people in America probably haven't even heard of, have been crowned champions of the biggest soccer league in the world. Their first-ever title, which they clinched Monday when their closest rival couldn't pull out a win, brought on cries of joy not only in England but across the globe.

Why is a team from a small city halfway between London and Manchester being called by some the greatest story in all of sports? We've never seen an underdog stay this good — after being so bad — for so long. Ever.

Here are four reasons your soccer-obsessed friends are talking about the biggest little football team in all of Europe.

In the world of big-time soccer, there are only a handful of teams that have enough money to matter. You've probably heard of them — Real Madrid is the richest team in the world, according to this year's Deloitte Football Money League analysis.

Leicester (It's pronounced "Lester," as in Lester Holt) are pretty wealthy themselves, having being bought by a Thai billionaire in 2010. But even as the 24th wealthiest team in the world, they only have about a quarter of the revenue of Real Madrid and less than a third of the richest English team, Manchester United, according to Deloitte.

Only one other team outside Deloitte's top 10 has won the Premier League since it started in 1992, as a way to capitalize on money in TV broadcasting rights. The richest few teams, all backed by their own billionaires, have the money to buy the best players in the world, helping them to more success, and more money, and on and on.

In a year when Bernie Sanders won't stop telling Americans the banking system is rigged for the rich to win, Leicester is proof that the little guy can still win it all in a system that's stacked pretty heavily in favor of the big guys.

Leicester was the worst team in the Premier League a little over a year ago, in last place when 2015 began. They only survived — the worst three teams drop to a lower league at the end of each season — after they brought in a new manager, but there weren't a lot of people who thought they'd do it again this season, let alone win the league.

In fact they had never won the top division in England (or Britain, when teams from Wales qualified) in the 132 years the team existed. It was one of dozens of fairly successful teams from small cities across the English countryside.

For 2015-2016, oddsmakers had them at 5,000-to-1 odds to win the league. Elvis surfacing in good health was a 2,000-1 shot, according to The Associated Press. An analysis in The New York Times pegged the odds of the great 1980 "Miracle on Ice" between 17-to-1 and 1,000-to-1.

To understand how unlikely this is, imagine a No. 16 seed in the NCAA basketball tournament winning the whole thing. No, it's never happened, but all they have to do is win six games against teams better than they are. Leicester needed to collect more points over 38 games, in nine months, than 19 teams many thought were better than them. Three had at least 13 more league titles than Leicester.

Few could have named Leicester's players at the start of the year, and while none is yet a world-beating star in his own right, the players' inspired performances together have made them household names for soccer fans. Take Jamie Vardy, an Englishman who this year set a record for scoring goals in the most consecutive games in the Premier League, at 11. He's likely to play for England at this summer's European Championships.

They come from all over the world, too. Riyad Mahrez, a wizard with his feet, comes from Algeria; key support strikers Shinji Okazaki and Leonardo Ulloa are from Japan and Argentina; Jamaican captain Wes Morgan is usually partnered in defense by a German, Robert Huth; they play in front of Kasper Schmeichel, a goalkeeper from Denmark.

Now, those players are the toast of Britain. Two recently one the league's top player awards — Mahrez won player of the year from the Professional Footballers Association, and Vardy beat out Mahrez and another teammate to be named the Football Writers' Association Footballer of the Year.

The heart of the team this year has been an old Italian coach named Claudio Ranieri, 64, a man who had never coached a team to a championship even when he was in charge of one of the best teams in the world, Juventus.

Ever calm and seemingly always smiling behind his round spectacles, Ranieri grabbed headlines in October when he promised his team a pizza party if they held their opponents scoreless. The players had to make the pizza themselves though, a lesson from Ranieri that they had to work for everything.

"It was very good, too. I enjoyed many slices. What can I say? I’m an Italian man. I love my pizza and my pasta," Ranieri wrote in The Player's Tribune in April.

It might have been cheesy, but the motivation worked: They held their opponents scoreless 14 more times this year in the Premier League, including a stingy run of five games in March and Aprli that all but cemented their championship.

Even when "little Leicester," as he affectionately called his team, started pulling away from the pack, Ranieri always said the right things about keeping a level head and never thinking beyond the next game.

"No matter what happens to end this season, I think our story is important for all football fans around the world. It gives hope to all the young players out there who have been told they are not good enough," he wrote in The Player's Tribune.

Oh, and as for his priorities, Ranieri didn't watch the title-deciding match between second-place Tottenham and Chelsea on Monday. He was scheduled to be on a plane, flying back from Rome where he was having lunch with his 96-year-old mother, he told reporters on Sunday.

Photo Credit: Adrian Dennis/AFP/Getty Images, file
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<![CDATA[What Makes a Triple Crown-Winning Horse?]]> Mon, 02 May 2016 11:06:06 -0400 http://media.nbcconnecticut.com/images/213*120/GettyImages-480966886.jpg

"The 37-year wait is over! American Pharaoh is finally the one! American Pharoah has won the Triple Crown!"

Those words from famed horse racing announcer Larry Collmus at last year's Belmont Stakes marked the end of a nearly four-decade drought, and thrust horse racing into the national spotlight.

American Pharaoh's gallop into the history books has left many wondering if there could be another Triple Crown winner this year. It's certainly possible, but experts say it will take a horse with the right combination of pedigree, training and versatility - and a little luck wouldn't hurt.

The Triple Crown of horse racing — winning the Kentucky Derby, Preakness Stakes and Belmont Stakes — is the pinnacle for 3-year-old thoroughbreds.

A mere 12 colts have achieved the feat since Sir Barton swept the series in 1919, and only once in all of American racing history has the trifecta occurred in consecutive years.

Of course, there have been some near-misses.

Between 1979 — after Affirmed won the Triple Crown in 1978 — and 2015, 13 horses managed to clinch the Derby and Preakness races, only to be stopped on their quest at the Belmont Stakes.

At 1 and 1/2 miles (12 furlong), the third jewel of the Triple Crown is the longest race track in the United States. Richard Migliore, a former jockey and racing analyst for the New York Racing Association, notes race horses that compete at Belmont “probably have never, and will never, run that distance again."

"Thoroughbreds today are bred for speed, not stamina, so they are too fatigued to keep up the pace required to win the Belmont," Migliore said, adding that many of the contenders at Belmont don't compete in the previous two races and are well-rested.

Over the years, many have called on a change in the racing schedule, while others, including the owner of California Chrome, said the pool for the three races should be limited to the horses that enter the Kentucky Derby.

"Because it had been so long since Affirmed won the Triple Crown, most people thought that this was getting close to impossible to do, it was too much to ask a horse to do," said NBC horse racing reporter Kenny Rice.

The Triple Crown schedule is grueling. It is difficult for a horse shipped around the country to endure the rigor of the journey after a strenuous race and not become ornery.

But then came American Pharoah. As Collmus so aptly put it in the final yards of the Belmont on June 6, he was "finally the one" – the one who could indeed win three races, at three tracks, in three different states, at three different distances, in the span of five weeks.

"That's why it separates the great ones. I think that's why I like the Triple Crown as is, because when you win it, you're a great horse," Rice says. "You may have a little bit of racing luck along the way, but it's not a fluke. That's why I think all the horses that have won the triple crown are special horses."

There are many factors, tangible and intangible, that combine in the making of a great racehorse, and experts have varying opinions on what those attributes are.

Some point to pedigree. Many champion horses carry elite genes.

American Pharaoh, for example, carries the bloodlines of three Triple Crown champions: Count Fleet, War Admiral and Secretariat. On the other hand, Affirmed came from modest genes that didn't trace back to a Triple Crown winner. Its sire didn't produce anything of exceptional merit after Affirmed, and his 1978 Triple Crown rival Alydar was considered a superior breeding source, according to BloodHorse's Avalyn Hunter.

"When Affirmed went to stud in 1980, he was competing with fellow Triple Crown winners Secretariat and Seattle Slew, but many horsemen considered his rival Alydar much likelier to make a top sire given his deep female family," Hunter said.

Others attribute a race horse's success to premiere training. Owners seek elite stakes-winning trainers to get their 2-year-old thoroughbreds in peak 3-year-old Derby shape.

Much like March Madness, each stop on the road to the Kentucky Derby will determine who will earn enough points and prove worthy of a spot in the starting gate at Churchill Downs. Purse leaders like trainers Todd Pletcher, Steve Asmussen, Kiaran McLaughlin, Doug O'Neill and Bob Baffert have a track record of starting horses at the Derby.

But whether it's genes, quality training, mental constitution or just pure luck, one characteristic they all seem to agree upon is versatility.

"All the triple crown winners standout because they rose above any obstacles, avoided anything in their way — in this case other horses — and that's what we saw last year. That's how good American Pharaoh was. He could run at the front, he could run near the front. He had different gears that, when he needed to shift, he could. I think that's what the next horse that wins the Triple Crown is going to have to do."

There are no certainties in horse racing, but Migliore believes at least one horse competing in the 142nd Kentucky Derby is showing that ability.

"Nyquist has shown he is not a one dimensional horse. As a 2-year-old and in his Derby prep races, he's been forced ridiculously wide and has demonstrated that he can shift and win," Migliore said.

The champion thoroughbred will enter the starting gate at Churchill on May 7 as a favorite with an undefeated record. Rice says Nyquist's Florida Derby victory over rival Mohaymen was "the most impressive of the Triple Crown prep races."

Another front-runner, ranking second on the Associated Press' Run for the Roses Top 10 list, is Gun Runner. The colt, trained by Steve Asmussem, is an odds favorite having established a points lead over the field.

Santa Anita Derby winner Exxagerator is also a top contender. Exaggerator was one of the most accomplished 2-year-olds in 2015 and a close runner-up to champion Nyquist in the San Vicente S. at Santa Anita in his seasonal debut. He won the 1 1/8-mile Santa Anita Derby race by a widening 6 1/4 lengths, placing himself squarely in the middle of the Kentucky Derby picture. 

The final lineup of the 20 Kenutcky Derby contenders has yet to be announced and only time will tell if a Triple Crown winner is among them. 

Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Black Cat Slips Onto NHL Rink]]> Mon, 02 May 2016 12:02:13 -0400 http://media.nbcconnecticut.com/images/213*120/IMG_9617.jpg

The San Jose Sharks got an unexpected visit Friday.

Before the NHL team beat the Nashville Predators 5-2 at the SAP Center, a black cat crept out of the player bench area and scurried onto the ice.

As the Sharks warmed up for the first game of their best-of-seven playoff series, fans watched the small feline making a beeline for an oversized, fiberglass shark head, only to escape under the seats at "the Shark Tank," as the arena is known.

The venue’s staff was able to safely rescue the cat and dubbed it Joe Paw-velski, after Sharks captain Joe Pavelski, the team announced Sunday.

"The amount of interest generated by Joe's appearance and those wishing to adopt him has been overwhelming," said Sharks Chief Operating Officer John Tortora in a statement.

Joe has been taken to a local animal shelter to undergo a health examination, the team said. Staff will also investigate whether the cat has a microchip, in the hopes of reuniting it with its owner.

"If he is indeed a stray, our goal is to find the best home for him with the support of our local animal shelters," Tortora said. "If families are interested in adopting Joe but unsuccessful, we strongly encourage you to consider adopting another animal in need of a good home from one of our terrific local animal shelters."

Photo Credit: San Jose Sharks
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<![CDATA[Tunsil Declines to Address Past]]> Sat, 30 Apr 2016 11:11:32 -0400 http://media.nbcconnecticut.com/images/213*120/042916+laremy+tunsil+presser.jpg

The Miami Dolphins think they got the second best player in the NFL draft with the 13th pick. But there's a catch. A big, bizarre, controversial catch.

Just before Thursday's NFL Draft, a video was tweeted from the official account of Ole Miss Offensive Linemen Laremy Tunsil. The video shows him smoking from a gas mask bong.

The tweet and account were subsequently deleted, and Tunsil's agent has stated that the OT's account was hacked.

As the video went viral, team after team passed on drafting Tunsil, who was previously projected to be the first overall pick by some analysts. It's estimated the drop cost him millions in salary.

That is, until it was the Dolphins' turn. The Fins selected Tunsil with the 13th overall draft pick.

Miami said they were comfortable with Tunsil's character, saying they'd researched him and had him take personality tests.

"We did not expect him to be there (at #13)," said Dolphins General Manager Chris Grier.

At the Dolphins official draft party at Nova Southeastern University, fans were stunned they got Tunsil too. But many of them didn't realize why he slipped until we showed them the gas mask video.

He was asked if he has a drug problem he said no. And to those who question if the Dolphins can trust him? "Don't question my character," Tunsil said. "You can't judge a book by its cover. I'm a good person"

Tunsil said he was hacked on Twitter and did not specify who did it, adding he does not intend to press charges.

At a Friday press conference where the Dolphins were expected to introduce him, Tunsil was a no-show. Team officials said he couldn't attend due to an allergic reaction.

"There were some mistakes he had made in his past, we were comfortable with that, all the research we had done," Dolphins VP of football operations Mike Tannenbaum said. " We are comfortable with his character, very comfortable with Laremy, the player and the person."

Tunsil attended a later press conference where he said he was feeling better.

"The doctors took care of me so I'm good," he said.

Tunsil mostly avoided questions about the controversy surrounding the video.

"I'm excited to be here, it's a blessed opportunity just to be in the NFL, just to be a part of the Miami Dolphins organization," he said.

Photo Credit: NBC6.com]]>
<![CDATA[Philly's 'Steph Curry'-Brand Heroin]]> Fri, 29 Apr 2016 17:25:38 -0400 http://media.nbcconnecticut.com/images/213*120/steph+curry+heroin+cp.jpg

Basketball superstar Steph Curry seems to be everywhere these days. At the White House with President Obama, on the cover of a parenting magazine and now on a brand of heroin.

SEPTA police confiscated a set of heroin-filled dime bags emblazoned with Curry's name and face in Philadelphia's Kensington neighborhood on Tuesday.

The stamp, as the branding is called, is like a logo drug dealers use to market the potent opioid to drug-addicted people. They can be named after companies (like Facebook), objects, feelings, or in Curry's case, people. These stamps come and go quickly, with dozens being sold at a time across the area, narcotics officers say.

NBC10 explored the tragic world of heroin and opioid addiction in the Philadelphia area and beyond in the in-depth investigation, Generation Addicted. Learn more about the issues people face and the new strategies being employed to help people get treatment here.

A SEPTA police officer came across the Curry stamp after stopping an 18-year-old man at Kensington Avenue and Somerset Street around 7:45 p.m. Tuesday, SEPTA Police Chief Thomas Nestel said.

The officer stopped the Hammonton, New Jersey, man after seeing blood on his hands, Nestel said. He was arrested and the drugs were taken as evidence.

Nestel tagged the Golden State Warriors point guard when tweeting a photo of the drugs saying: "Thinking Steph Curry wouldn't be happy that he is this week's brand for heroin in Philly."

That's probably an understatement.

NBC10 reached out to Curry's reps to get his thoughts about the stamp, but we haven't heard back. A spokeswoman for the Golden State Warriors had no comment.

Photo Credit: SEPTA Police Chief Thomas Nestel]]>
<![CDATA[US Synchro Swimmers]]> Mon, 02 May 2016 17:03:31 -0400 http://media.nbcconnecticut.com/images/213*120/0427-2016-SynchroSwimmers.jpg

Synchronized swimming, or synchro for short, has been called the most difficult sport in the Olympic Games.

This year, Anita Alvarez and Mariya Koroleva will be the only swimmers representing the United States in synchronized swimming during the summer games in Rio.

At 9 years old, Koroleva emigrated to the United States from Russia, took up synchro and became so good she swam for Stanford University and competed in the 2012 Olympic Games in London.

"You have to show up every day and you have to be on your best game every day, even if you're not feeling well," she said. "You have to push through it."

Alvarez, 19, has synchronized swimming in her blood. Her mother is a former synchro athlete and a current coach. Both athletes said they gave up traditional upbringings to become fierce competitors.

The duo's coach, Lolli Montico, said the athletes are training from 7 a.m. until 5 p.m. This will be Montico's third Olympics coaching synchro swimmers.

Montico said the Olympic-caliber swimmers must have two things: legs and attitude.

"Beautiful shapes of the legs — it's so important in synchro," Montico said. "It's the attitude. Attitude is everything."

Koroleva cannot wait for Rio, when all of the hard work is rewarded.

Photo Credit: NBC Bay Area]]>
<![CDATA[Best Style Moves from the NFL Draft Red Carpet]]> Fri, 29 Apr 2016 09:07:34 -0400 http://media.nbcconnecticut.com/images/213*120/GettyImages-525682684-elliott.jpg See all the best shots from the 2016 NFL Draft red carpet in Chicago, Illinois, on Thursday, April 28, 2016.

Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Kentucky Derby: Test Your Horse Race Knowledge]]> Thu, 28 Apr 2016 13:33:14 -0400 http://media.nbcconnecticut.com/images/213*120/AP_522153153543.jpg

The 142nd running of the Kentucky Derby will be held May 7 at Churchill Downs, featuring spectacular hats, plenty of bourbon and some of the fastest thoroughbreds in the world. 

Known as the "Greatest Two Minutes in Sports," the Derby is steeped in tradition and style. Grab a mint julep and a Derby hat and test your knowledge of the race with the quiz below.

Photo Credit: AP]]>
<![CDATA[Athletes Countdown the Road to Rio]]> Wed, 27 Apr 2016 18:36:40 -0400 http://media.nbcconnecticut.com/images/213*120/countdown042716.jpg The Rio Olympics are only 100 days away and Kevin Nathan was in New York City for the countdown celebration with the athletes.]]> <![CDATA[Geno Talks About His Health]]> Wed, 27 Apr 2016 18:14:58 -0400 http://media.nbcconnecticut.com/images/213*120/genohealthrio062716.jpg For the first time UConn women's basketball coach Geno Auriemma is speaking publicly about the health issues that forced him into the hospital earlier this month. Kevin Nathan has the exclusive interview with the Hall of Fame coach.]]> <![CDATA[UConn Well Represented on 2016 U.S. Olympic Women’s Basketball Team]]> Wed, 27 Apr 2016 18:16:29 -0400 http://media.nbcconnecticut.com/images/213*120/2016++Olympic+sue+bird.jpg

The 2016 U.S. Olympic women’s basketball team will have a strong connection to the University of Connecticut.

UConn head women’s basketball coach Geno Auriemma is the head coach of the U.S. Olympic team and several of its members have played for him at Storrs.

UConn alums Sue Bird, of the Seattle Storm, and Diana Taurasi, of the Phoenix Mercury, are two of the three captains leading the team. Tamika Catchings, of Indiana Fever, is the other captain.

Former UConn players and 2012 Olympic gold medalists Tina Charles, of the New York Liberty, and Maya Moore, of the Minnesota Lynx, will be back, and UConn star Breanna Stewart is joining the team for the first time.

Another first-time member of the team is Elena Delle Donne, of the Chicago Sky, who was briefly a UConn Husky.

The 2016 U.S. Olympic Team also includes two-time Olympic gold medalists Seimone Augustus and Sylvia Fowles, both of the Minnesota Lynx, as well as 2012 Olympic gold medalists Angel McCoughtry, of the Atlanta Dream, and Lindsay Whalen, of the Minnesota Lynx.

Brittney Griner, of the Phoenix Mercury, is another first-time Olympian.

USA Basketball Women’s National Team Player Selection Committee has chosen the team, which is pending approval by the USOC.

“Obviously it’s always incredibly difficult to try to identify 12 players from a group of so many great players,” Auriemma said in a statement posted on the USA Basketball Web site.

He has led the USA National Team to a 23-0 record and gold medals at the 2012 Olympic Games and the 2010 and 2014 FIBA World Championships.

“The committee had a really difficult job this year, because it's the first time in a long time that a lot more than 12 players could easily have been named to that team. But the 12 that were named are a great combination of Olympic gold-medal experience, multiple gold medal winners and great leaders,” Auriemma said in a statement.

He said an influx of young players will be a great benefit this year and will set the stage going forward.

“They will be the future of the USA Basketball Women's National Team,” he said.

DePaul University’s Doug Bruno, the Minnesota Lynx’ Cheryl Reeve and University of South Carolina’s Dawn Staley will assist Auriemma during the 2016 Olympic Games.

The 2016 Olympic Games will be held from Aug. 5 to 21 in Rio de Janeiro.

Photo Credit: Sean M. Haffey/Getty Image]]>
<![CDATA[Visualizing the Olympics: Medal Counts & More]]> Wed, 27 Apr 2016 11:05:47 -0400 http://media.nbcconnecticut.com/images/213*120/GettyImages-149332217-edited.jpg

Photo Credit: Getty Images, file
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<![CDATA[Road to Rio: Join in Olympic Fever 100 Days Out]]> Thu, 28 Apr 2016 11:01:51 -0400 http://media.nbcconnecticut.com/images/213*120/gymnasts-olympics.jpg

The Rio Olympics are only 100 days away, and the buzz is all about who will represent Team USA.

While many athletes have earned their spots and a chance to bring home the gold, others will be vying for a place on the team over the coming weeks when swimming, gymnastics and other sports hold trials.

Golf returns to the Olympics after an absence of more than a century, and the sports world is full of predictions about who will be teeing off for the United States. But with each team limited to four players, many favorites will be staying home.

Then there is the Zika virus, which the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention just concluded is causing microcephaly and other birth defects. Brazil’s health ministry has been working to ease visitors’ fears, but some athletes are weighing whether to give the Rio Games a pass.

As 10,500 athletes from across the globe prepare to compete in the first Olympics to be held in South America, here are some ways to follow along now:

Watch America's best earn a trip to Rio

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Many spots on Team USA won't be finalized until just before before the Opening Ceremony. Trials for some of the most popular events — including swimming and diving, track and field and gymnastics — have yet to be held. 

That means you can watch your favorite athletes battle for a trip to Rio de Janeiro. On the calendar in June: diving in Indianapolis from June 18-26, men’s gymnastics in St. Louis from June 24-26, and swimming in Omaha, Nebraska, from June 26 to July 3.

On the calendar in July: track and field in Eugene, Oregon, from July 1-10, and women’s gymnastics in San Jose, California, from July 8-10.

So far, about 100 athletes have qualified in sports from boxing to wrestling. By the time August arrives, more than 500 athletes will have made the team. NBC Olympics is keeping track of the competitors here.

Pentathlete Nathan Schrimsher became the first official member of the U.S. Olympic team last July when he finished third in the 2015 Pan American Games. The 23-year-old will compete in the Olympics for the first time. The modern Olympic pentathlon consists of swimming, fencing, riding and a combination of running and shooting.

In the qualifying marathon in Los Angeles in February, Galen Rupp, Meb Keflezighi and Jared Ward won the top three places for the men, and Amy Cragg, Desi Linden and Shalane Flanagan for the women.

Triathletes Gwen Jorgensen and Sarah True have snagged spots, as have Yue Jennifer Wu, a table tennis competitor, and Jordan Wilimovsky, Sean Ryan and Haley Anderson, all open water swimmers.

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At the London 2012 Games, American women outnumbered American men in total medals and gold medals, and they are expected to dominate again in Rio. The U.S. women’s teams are world champions in basketball, gymnastics, soccer, volleyball and water polo, and all eyes are on Claressa Shields, the first American woman to win Olympic gold in boxing at the London Games; gymnast Simone Biles, three-time world all-around champion; swimmer Katie Ledecky, an Olympic gold medalist at 15; and tennis star Serena Williams. 

In basketball, the final names for men’s and women’s teams will be announced by July 18. Among the finalists are LeBron James — though he says he is undecided about Rio — and Carmelo Anthony for the men’s team, and Diana Taurasi and Sue Bird, both three-time gold medalists, for the women’s.

The U.S. women’s soccer team qualified for the Games, though the men’s team failed to, and its roster also must be announced by July 18.

And U.S. women’s water polo team goes to the Games as the reigning Olympic gold medalists. The team qualified by finishing in the top four in a tournament in March in the Netherlands, where it went undefeated and outscored opponents 123-35.

Who won’t be going?

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Some of the country’s top stars will not be making the trip, sidelined by injuries and for other reasons.

Kobe Bryant announced he would not play in Rio after retiring from the Los Angeles Lakers because he thought it was a younger man’s turn to play. Chris Paul of the Los Angeles Clippers also withdrew from consideration, while New Orleans Pelicans star Anthony Davis was forced out by knee and shoulder injuries.

In soccer, Sydney Leroux and Megan Rapinoe were both on the U.S. women’s World Cup team, but they will not be in Rio. Leroux is pregnant and Rapinoe is injured. Goalkeeper Hope Solo said in February that she would skip Rio if the games were being held then because of her fears of Zika.

Zika virus continues to be a worry

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The CDC released travel guidelines that urge talking to your health provider about recommended vaccines and medicines, packing a health kit and monitoring travel warnings from the U.S. Department of State. Women who are pregnant or trying to become pregnant should take special precautions.

Much is still being learned about the virus, which has been linked to birth defects and which researchers have discovered can be transmitted sexually, not just through mosquito bites.

In February, the head of the World Health Organization praised the Brazilian government for its handling of the outbreak, but warned the situation could get worse before it gets better. Brazil has stressed that the mosquito population is much lower in August, the country’s winter.

Golf's Olympic comeback

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Golf returns for the first time since 1904, when only the United States and Canada competed — and a Canadian won the individual gold.

Among the United States’ best prospects: Jordan Spieth, Bubba Watson, Dustin Johnson and Rickie Fowler.

But some of the world's top players have said they will be giving the Games a pass. Vijay Singh, from Fiji, was the first to say he would not play. South Africa’s Louis Oosthuizen and Charl Schwartzel have pulled out, citing family and scheduling issues, and Adam Scott of Australia also pointed to a busy schedule when he said he would skip Rio.

Golf’s crowded schedule of championships has been a concern for players, but golf legend Jack Nicklaus is worried about the message they send by withdrawing.

“If the guys don't want to participate, then we might not be in the Olympics after this,” he told Golf Digest. “They vote next year. And if they vote to keep golf in, then that's great, but if not then we lose that momentum with growing the game.”

Before the vote to reinstate golf — 72 holes of stroke play for 60 men and 60 women — superstar Michelle Wie and champion Padraig Harrington urged their sport’s inclusion before the International Olympic Committee. But the vote covered only 2016 and 2020; another vote will be held next year to decide if it will be back in 2024.

Michael Phelps will swim for the USA for the last time

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In his final Games, Phelps will become the first U.S. male swimmer to compete in five Olympics. The most decorated Olympic competitor ever, he has won 18 gold medals, plus two silver and two bronze.

His return follows his second drunk driving arrest two years ago and a stint in rehab. He was suspended for six months from USA Swimming but returned to the pool last spring.

Jillian Macdonald and Nick Zaccardi contributed information to this article.

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Photo Credit: Getty Images
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<![CDATA[NFL Team Wants Supreme Court to Take Trademark Case]]> Tue, 26 Apr 2016 04:42:48 -0400 http://media.nbcconnecticut.com/images/213*120/GettyImages-453831984.jpg

The Washington Redskins want the Supreme Court to take up their trademark battle with the government over whether their name is offensive, which could jeopardize whether the team can make money from the name.

The case, in which the U.S. Patent Office found the name was derogatory to Native Americans, is supposed to be heard by a Richmond appeals court. But according to court documents reviewed by NBC News, lawyers for the team want the Supreme Court to intervene.

Attorneys said the high court may take up a similar case from a rock band fighting a battle over their name, The Slants, which the founder says reclaims a slur against Asians; the attorneys want the two cases heard together, since they may hinge on the same 1946 law.

The Redskins' legal battle started last year when the U.S. Patent and Trademark office rejected the Redskins trademark, agreeing with five Native American people who said the name is offensive. 

The patent ruling, if upheld, would not mean the team must change its name, only that it could not protect its trademark from others using it.

Photo Credit: Getty Images, file]]>
<![CDATA[Feats of Architecture: 11 Summer Olympic Stadiums]]> Wed, 27 Apr 2016 14:49:39 -0400 http://media.nbcconnecticut.com/images/180*120/GettyImages-508730980-nrazil.jpg Cities that host the Olympics spend millions or billions of dollars building stadiums. The Bird's Nest in Beijing is among the most unique, but all of them are impressive. Take a look at venues from the most recent Summer Olympic Games as we gear up for the upcoming Olympics in Rio de Janeiro.

Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Former Patriots Player Ron Brace Dead at 29]]> Mon, 25 Apr 2016 13:34:22 -0400 http://media.nbcconnecticut.com/images/213*120/Patriots-AP_379279344617.jpg

Former New England Patriots and Boston College defensive tackle Ron Brace has passed away at the young age of 29-years-old, according to family and friends.

The Springfield, Massachusetts, native starred alongside B.J. Raji at Boston College before being drafted 40th overall by the Patriots in 2009. Brace played four seasons with the Pats and accumulated 39 tackles and a fumble in 39 games.

The cause of death has not been disclosed.

Photo Credit: AP]]>
<![CDATA[Decades After Chernobyl, Another Chance for Paralympian ]]> Tue, 26 Apr 2016 10:32:24 -0400 http://media.nbcconnecticut.com/images/213*120/AP_16113695576026-oksana.jpg

There was no stuffed animal to hug. Constant hunger pains. Hope that a mom would show up and rescue her.

Those were some of the memories that flooded back when Paralympian Oksana Masters recently returned to Ukraine, where she spent her first seven and a half years shuttled among three orphanages. Masters visited with orphaned children that stared at her with an "Are you here to adopt me?" gaze.

Two decades ago, that face was hers.

She was adopted by an American woman who took in a malnourished Masters with birth defects believed to be from the aftermath of the Chernobyl nuclear reactor accident. On the 30th anniversary of Chernobyl this week, Masters is now in a much different place.

She's become a three-time Paralympic medalist in rowing and cross-country skiing, with her sights now set on making the cycling squad for the Rio de Janeiro Paralympic Games later this summer. She's appeared in ESPN The Magazine Body Issue.

Above all else: She has a mother.

"My mom literally saved my life," the 26-year-old Masters said recently before a training session at the U.S. Olympic Training Center. "I wasn't supposed to make it out of the orphanage."

Her journey began because of a black-and-white photo that Gay Masters saw through a Ukrainian adoption notebook. That picture of Oksana — circa age 5 — captured the heart of a speech pathologist who was teaching in Buffalo, New York, at the time. Oksana was born with webbed fingers, no thumbs, six toes on each foot, deformed legs, one kidney and only parts of her stomach.

She was perfect. The match was perfect.

Adopting her, though, was quite a saga. With the Ukrainian government placing a moratorium on foreign adoptions, Gay Masters had to wait 2½ years to bring her home. She sent care packages all the time, stuffed with teddy bears and other treats.

The little girl never got them.

She simply thought she was on her own again. That is, until one night at 11:30 p.m., with all the paperwork finally approved, Gay arrived to take her new daughter home.

"The adoption agency kept saying, 'You can go to Russia and get a baby now,'" Gay said in a phone interview from her home in Louisville, Kentucky, where they moved when Oksana was a teenager. 

"But that was my daughter. I couldn't abandon her."

At the time, the child weighed about 35 pounds — healthy for a 3-year-old, not so much for someone who was nearly 8.

"I know friends who didn't make it out and died," she said. "I watched that."

The new mom and daughter didn't speak the same language but found a way to communicate through gestures and by pointing at phrases in a book. It didn't take long for them to get on the same page and settle into their new life.

It was around that time when a dentist discovered the root cause of Oksana's birth defects. She was missing the enamel from her teeth due to radiation. Being from the region near Chernobyl, it wasn't hard to make the connection with the world's worst nuclear accident, which occurred on April 26, 1986. They believe her birth mom either lived in an area that was contaminated or ingested produce that was riddled with radiation, leading to in utero radiation poisoning.

"As a child, I didn't think about (Chernobyl) because I didn't know what it was. Being older and educated more what it was, knowing now how it is still affecting that whole area, it's just jaw dropping," said Oksana, who's from Khmelnytskiy in western Ukraine.

She was born with tibial hemimelia, which resulted in different leg lengths. She got by as a child by fusing her ankles so she walked on tippy toes, but her body could no longer support her weight. She had her left leg amputated near the knee at 9 and the right one at the same spot five years later.

About that time, she discovered rowing. The pull of the oars and the push against the water became a release, a "healing from my past," she said. Oksana became good in no time.

Before the 2012 Paralympic Games in London, Gay gave her a replica Olympic medal that once belonged to Gay's parents. She taped it inside the boat for good luck during races. Oksana and her rowing partner, Rob Jones, who lost both legs in an IED explosion in Afghanistan while in the U.S. Marine Corps, wound up with bronze.

"I kept saying: 'Is it really true? Is it really true?'" Gay recalled. "It's just indescribable, how amazing it was."

Two years later in Sochi at the Paralympic Winter Games, Oksana captured silver and bronze in cross-country skiing.

And now onto a new challenge. She's a strong candidate to make the Paralympic cycling squad, with a final opportunity to qualify for the U.S. team in Charlotte, North Carolina, in July.

"I do think about Rio," she said. "I want to be there. But I don't want to get my hopes up."

A coping mechanism from her days in the orphanage: whenever a visitor arrived, they would put her in a dress and place a bow on her head.

"Every child looked at the next person that comes in as, 'Are you going to be my new mom?'" she said. "Every kid wants that."

Going back last October was overwhelming — and therapeutic. She talked with wounded soldiers from the conflict in eastern Ukraine and spent time with children in an orphanage.

"I often look back and just think, 'I can't believe this is my life right now,'" Oksana said.

Photo Credit: AP
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<![CDATA[Lakers Split With Byron Scott]]> Mon, 25 Apr 2016 07:05:18 -0400 http://media.nbcconnecticut.com/images/213*120/Lakers-fire-coach-Byron-Scott.jpg

Los Angeles Lakers had fired head coach Byron Scott after his two seasons in charge of the team led to the two worst seasons in the history of the franchise, Adrian Wojnarowski of Yahoo! Sports was first to report on Sunday. 

Later in the evening, the team confirmed that it had opted not to pick up the option of Scott's contract, effectively vacating to position.

In his first season in charge, Scott led Los Angeles to the franchise's first 60-loss season: 21-61. In his second season in charge of the purple and gold, the 55-year-old finished worse: 17-65. Scott will not get a third season in charge.

The Inglewood native and former player with the Lakers earned a great deal of criticism in his tough approach with rookie guard D'Angelo Russell and second year forward Julius Randle. Though both players improved over the course of the season, Scott's decision to remove both players from the starting lineup early in the season did not appear to sit well with a loud segment of fans and national basketball writers.

In truth, the poor display of basketball over two seasons had a segment of fans marveling at how Scott retained his position for two full seasons. Scott’s 38-126 (.227) record over two seasons was largely overshadowed by Kobe Bryant’s retirement. Scott's relationship with Bryant likely helped the coach keep his job in the face of the worst season in franchise history and a consistently horrific product on the court.

After the season, Lakers general manager Mitch Kupchak stated that Lakers executive vice-president of basketball operations Jim Buss would join him and take time to meet with Scott over the coming weeks. Just shy of 10 days after Kupchak commented on the season review process, the Lakers made the change.

Over those 10 days, however, the Lakers' front office drew a great deal of criticism for not announcing the separation sooner. Two prominent coaches linked with the Lakers, Tom Thibodeau and Scott Brooks, accepted positions in Minnesota and Washington, respectively. With Scott's departure, however, LA should be linked with nearly every top assistant and out of work coach, including Jeff Van Gundy and Ettore Messina, the latter of whom is currently an assistant with the San Antonio Spurs. 

Yahoo! Sports first reported Scott's firing on Sunday night. Shortly thereafter, the team confirmed the report by stating that the "Lakers have decided not to pick up the option for the 2016-17 season on the contract of Head Coach Byron Scott."

Kupchak said in a statement, "We would like to thank Byron for his hard work, dedication and loyalty over the last two years, but have decided it is in the best interest of the organization to make a change at this time."

Though technically not "fired," Scott had previously shared his desire to return to coach the team for a third season. The decision not to retain his services is effectively the equivalent of firing the coach.

Also in their statement, the Lakers stated that the search for a new coach would begin "immediately."

Photo Credit: Harry How/Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Baseball Fans Line Up for New Britain Bees]]> Fri, 22 Apr 2016 14:40:42 -0400 http://media.nbcconnecticut.com/images/213*120/new+britain+bees+12001.jpg

Baseball fans lined up early outside New Britain Stadium to welcome a new team to town on Thursday.

Members of the new team, the New Britain Bees, warmed up for the season opening game against the York Revolution.

“They’re a very good team from what I heard and it’s just the first time being here, so I’m excited to see them,” Nina Peterson, of Southington, said.

The team is a startup of the Atlantic League of Professional Baseball and the players are still getting to know each other. For some this was a bit of a homecoming.

“I was born in Middletown and I grew up in Farmington for the most part. So, I came to these games as a kid,” Shawn Haviland, the pitcher for the New Britain Bees, said. “I think it’s going to be great to get out on the field, be on the field instead of watching the game. I remember being 10, 11 years old just dreaming about being out here someday.”

Besides building the team, the Bees worked to improve the stadium and grown business and fan support.

The team promises good quality baseball during their 140-game schedule, which begins Thursday night.

“It feels like you’re a kid again. It feels like the first day of ever putting a uniform on at the professional level,” Stan Cliburn, the manager of the New Britain Bees, said.

<![CDATA[Cubs' Arrieta Throws No-Hitter]]> Fri, 22 Apr 2016 08:52:22 -0400 http://media.nbcconnecticut.com/images/180*120/GettyImages-523069578+%281%29.jpg

For the second time in less than a year, Chicago Cubs hurler Jake Arrieta has thrown a no-hitter as he blanked the Cincinnati Reds on Thursday night.

Arrieta, who no-hit the Los Angeles Dodgers on Aug. 30, 2015, walked four batters in the game, but he struck out six batters in his second career no-no.

The no-hitter breaks the Reds' remarkable streak of 7,110 games without being held without a hit. 

As for the Cubs’ batters, they were in fine form on Thursday as they beat the Reds 16-0. Kris Bryant cracked two home runs, including a grand slam, and Anthony Rizzo, Ben Zobrist, and David Ross all went deep to support Arrieta in the contest. 

Photo Credit: Getty Images
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<![CDATA[ESPN Fires Schilling]]> Thu, 21 Apr 2016 21:27:18 -0400 http://media.nbcconnecticut.com/images/213*120/Curt+Schilling+042016.jpg

ESPN has fired former Boston Red Sox ace Curt Schilling after his latest controversial social media post.

The baseball analyst posted an image on Facebook earlier this week, showing his opposition to transgender people using the bathroom that fits their gender identity.

Schilling also commented that "a man is a man no matter what they call themselves."

ESPN announced Wednesday it had cut ties with the pitcher.

[Click here to cast your vote if you are using the necn app.]

"ESPN is an inclusive company," it said in a statement. "Curt Schilling has been advised that his conduct was unacceptable and his employment with ESPN has been terminated."

Schilling's latest Facebook post has been deleted.

In a quote on his personal blog, Schilling said in part: "There are things I have deeply held beliefs in, things I have that are core to who I am, things I am passionate about. If you ask me about them it's likely I'll give you a passionate answer, whether you like that answer or not is completely up to you." 

He also spoke to WEEI Wednesday morning to respond to the outrage over his post. Click here for that interview.

Nearly a year ago, the former Sox pitcher was suspended by ESPN for tweeting a meme comparing extremist Muslims to Nazis.

Schilling has been no stranger to online controversy. He famously sparred with Twitter users on the topic of evolution, and he once suggested his political leanings had worked against him in Hall of Fame voting.

The pitcher's baseball career is long and distinguished. A six-time All-Star who finished second in Cy Young Award voting three times, Schilling was a dominant pitcher for much of 20 major league seasons, going 216-146 with a 3.46 ERA and a superb 4.38 strikeout-to-walk ratio - the best in baseball's modern era.

While his failed video game venture left Rhode Island reeling financially, Red Sox fans have Schilling to thank in part for the end of the team's championship drought. In Game 6 of the 2004 ALCS against the New York Yankees, despite an ankle injury, the righty walked out with a legendary "bloody sock" to pitch seven innings and allow just one run off a solo shot by Bernie Williams.

The Red Sox went on to win their first World Series in 86 years.

Photo Credit: Getty Images
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<![CDATA[History and Tradition at Kentucky Derby]]> Fri, 22 Apr 2016 11:54:42 -0400 http://media.nbcconnecticut.com/images/213*120/GettyImages-482543724.jpg

The history of the Kentucky Derby and Churchill Downs begins in 1872, when 26-year-old Col. Meriwether Lewis Clark, grandson of the famous explorer William Clark, traveled to Europe and attended the Epsom Derby in England, inspiring his lifelong passion and creation of the Kentucky Derby. 

The colonel's love for horse racing began in childhood. He was raised by his two uncles, John and Henry Churchill, who were horse racing enthusiasts and young Lutie, as Clark was known, came to share his uncles’ passion. During his visit to the Epsom Derby, he became friends with members of the French Jockey Club, a group that developed the Grand Prix de Paris Longchamps horse race. After his trip, Clark was determined to create a horse racing spectacle in the States.

His relatives backed this idea and he was given 88 acres of family land to develop a racetrack in Louisville, Kentucky. Clark formed the Louisville Jockey Club with other local horse racing enthusiasts. The club raised money to build the grandstand, Porter’s lodge and six stables by selling race track memberships for $100 each.

On May 17, 1875, the first Derby was hosted by the Louisville Jockey Club. Roughly 10,000 spectators attended and the winner of the first Kentucky Derby was Aristides. At the time, the race was a mile and a half long. In 1896, the Derby changed to its current length of one and a quarter mile.


1875 First Kentucky Derby

1883 The racetrack is branded “Churchill Downs.”

1894 With the Derby growing in popularity, a new grandstand was developed. The 285-foot grandstand, topped by the Twin Spires, became known as the symbol of both Churchill Downs and the Kentucky Derby. The first Kentucky Derby with the new grandstand was in 1895.

1896 For the first time, the winning jockey received a floral arrangement of white and pink roses. At the time, the floral arrangement was shaped into a horseshoe and draped over the winning jockey.

1903 A profit is earned for the first time since the Derby’s creation.

1904 Red roses are declared the official flower of the Kentucky Derby.

1919 Sir Barton, a chestnut thoroughbred colt, became the first horse to win the Triple Crown. He won all three races and an additional race in the span of 32 days. He was honored as the 1919 American Horse of the Year.

1925 The Kentucky Derby is broadcast on radio for the first time, on WHAS Louisville, Kentucky. Almost 6 million fans tuned in to hear Flying Ebony win the 51st running of the Derby. Also in 1925, Bill Corum, a sports columnist at the New York Evening Journal and the New York Journal-American, famously coined the Kentucky Derby as the “Run for the Roses.”

1952 For the first time, the Kentucky Derby is broadcast nationally on television. An estimated 10-15 million watched Hill Gale, a dark bay horse, win the Derby.

1973 Secretariat runs the fastest Derby of all-time in 1:59:40. He went on to win the Triple Crown and American Horse of the Year.

1978 Affirmed wins the Triple Crown.

1986 Churchill Downs is registered as a National Historic Landmark. Willie Shoemaker became the oldest jockey to win the Kentucky Derby at age 54 with his horse, Ferdinand.

2015 American Pharoah wins the Kentucky Derby and the Triple Crown for the first time since Affirmed in 1978.

The Rose Garland

The stunning rose garland that is presented to the Derby winner has a vibrant history to match. Ben Brush, the Derby winner in 1896, was the recipient of the first rose garland. However, the garland did not look like it does today; it was woven together with pink and white roses, rather than the traditional red. In 1925, after the red rose had been named the official flower of the Derby, the race was coined the “Run for the Roses.” The garland is covered with over 400 red freedom roses, weighs 40 pounds and is over 10 feet long. Grocery retailer Kroger has been crafting the Derby’s rose garlands by hand since 1987, and people congregate in one of Kroger’s Kentucky stores to watch the garland made on Derby eve.

Kentucky Derby Hats

The Derby has provided the perfect setting to flaunt the season’s latest fashions. Kentucky Derby hats became ostentatious by midcentury, attracting attention from the Derby’s crowds and viewers watching the race on television. Hats are rumored to bring good luck to the races, so a wide variety of chic and whimsical chapeaus are worn each year. Thanks to the rising popularity of fascinators, the hat tradition has grown. Debut your hat or fascinator the day before the Derby at the Longines Kentucky Oakes Fashion Contest for the chance to win a Longines watch.

The Winners Circle

The walk to the Kentucky Derby Winners Circle is a custom celebrated since the first race. Originally just a chalk outline, the circle has changed drastically since it held the first Derby winner in 1875. In 1944, the Winners Circle was transformed into the icon we see today. The horseshoe-shaped landscape is laden with 2,100 roses, and makes an ideal location for photographs with the Derby winner. Couples have tied the knot in the Winners Circle, and some horse racing legends have had their ashes spread across the sacred grounds. 

Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Bags of Air From Kobe's Last Game Hit eBay]]> Tue, 19 Apr 2016 16:00:48 -0400 http://media.nbcconnecticut.com/images/213*120/KOBE_2_AP_16105199283157.jpg

Victory was in the air when Kobe Bryant closed out his 20-year career with the Lakers last week, and though his 60-point game is now history, you can still get a whiff of the triumph, so claim some eBay sellers.

A puffy, re-sealable bag of air labeled "Kobe Last Game" was up for auction on eBay over the weekend. The bid history indicates the starting price on Saturday was $500, and more than 50 bids later, the leading bid had climbed to $17,500 as of Monday afternoon.

"A bag of air from his final game. Me and my son went and was amazing (sic) experience," the description from seller jacobtrevo said before it was removed from the site.

He isn't the only eBay seller who claims to have bagged a breeze at Staples Center. A search on eBay turned up dozens of listings for bags filled with air claiming to be from the Black Mamba's memorable farewell game.

One such listing said the bag "Comes with a string I found on the floor after the game. Filled with the air of screaming fans. Almost like you can feel the excitement inside the bag!"

eBay has been removing the items from its site on grounds they are in violation of the company's policies, spokeswoman Kari Ramirez said.

Photo Credit: AP]]>
<![CDATA[Thoroughbred, Friesian, Appaloosa: Know Your Horse Breeds]]> Fri, 22 Apr 2016 11:27:07 -0400 http://media.nbcconnecticut.com/images/213*120/horse-breeds.jpg

Thoroughbreds are considered the fastest horses in the world and dominate the horse racing industry, while Arabian horses are known to be intelligent and excel in endurance riding. Take a look at some of the horse breeds used in racing, dressage and general riding. 

American Quarter Horse

The American Quarter Horse is one of the most popular horse breeds today. It is the first all-American breed, used in rodeos, horse shows, general riding, work activities and urban mounted police units. The breed’s even temperament makes it an ideal horse for new riders.


An extremely athletic and energetic horse that is considered the fastest horse in the world. They dominate the horse racing industry. They are also a popular breed for horse jumping, dressage and cross-country. These horses can be a lot to handle because they have so much energy. Therefore, they are not recommended for beginners.


Pinto is not a breed, rather it refers to specific coloring. Pintos can be found in four different breeds: Stock (Quarter Horse conformation), Hunter (warm blood conformation), Pleasure (Arabian or Morgan conformation), and Saddle (Saddlebred or Hackney conformation). There are two types of coats on Pintos, tobiano (white horse with large patches of color) and overo (colored horse with uneven white marks). These horses vary in size and temperament based on the type of pinto.


A large horse with a gentle disposition. They have great versatility and are easy to train. Therefore, they are popular carriage and dressage horses, and appear in circus shows and other performance events, and in the film and entertainment industry.

Cleveland Bay

A docile, multi-talented horse commonly used in dressage, general riding, hunting and work activities. They are rather large horses averaging about 1,450 pounds, which makes them great work and hunting horses. Also known as the “Bay” horse.

Arabian Horse

Small and with delicate features, Arabians are one of the oldest horse breeds. They excel in all sports despite their lack of size, 800-1000 pounds, but dominate in endurance riding. Arabian horses are quite intelligent and affectionate toward their owners and are considered good horses for beginners.


Native American horses, they are one of the most popular horse breeds in the United States. This horse is known for its spotted coat, which can appear in five different patterns: blanket, snowflake, leopard, marble and frost. They are the only horses with vertically striped hooves.

Photo Credit: Shutterstock.com]]>
<![CDATA[Kentucky Derby: What Makes a Race Horse?]]> Mon, 02 May 2016 11:31:53 -0400 http://media.nbcconnecticut.com/images/213*120/Screen-Shot-2016-05-02-at-8.30.13-AM.jpg

Many factors go into making a Kentucky Derby race horse. A great race horse needs to have a balanced, athletic conformation (physical shape) and a long, smooth stride. The horse also needs to have presence and personality, to be confident and give the appearance of being in control. There may be no such thing as a perfect horse, but there are clearly some important physical attributes that make a successful race horse.

Roll over or click on the horse's body parts to see descriptions. 

Photo Credit: NBC
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<![CDATA[2016 Rio Olympic Games]]> Wed, 27 Apr 2016 11:04:12 -0400 http://media.nbcconnecticut.com/images/213*120/AP_16117516881811-rio-olympic-park.jpg

Photo Credit: AP]]>
<![CDATA[Last Boston Marathon Runner, 72, Has Raced in Every State]]> Tue, 19 Apr 2016 11:53:20 -0400 http://media.nbcconnecticut.com/images/214*120/Fran+Drozdz.png

Tens of thousands of participants crossed the 2016 Boston Marathon finish line Monday, many of them with crowds cheering.

But hours after the crowds left, one woman continued to push along to complete her 77th marathon.

At 6:30 Monday night, 72-year-old Fran Drozdz was just hitting "Heartbreak Hill."

She finally crossed the finish line at 8:45 p.m.

Drozdz qualified through Dana Farber Foundation and tried for three years to get on the team.

She ran in honor of her husband Stan, who is fighting cancer for the third time. He waited all day for her at the finish line and guided her through the grandstand to cross the finish.

Stan said he was concerned she was injured or had gotten lost and even ended up calling Boston Police.

He said, "She's 72 years old and she's down 77 marathons. I'm one year older and I've done no marathon, so of course I'm proud of her."

Fran Drozdz has completed a marathon in every state, but decided to do a second round of all of the states.

Photo Credit: necn]]>