<![CDATA[NBC Bay Area - Bay Area Sports News, Sports Teams, and Scores for the Sharks, 49ers, Raiders,Giants, Bears and More]]> Copyright 2014 http://www.nbcbayarea.com/news/sports http://media.nbcbayarea.com/designimages/nbc_bayarea_blue.png NBC Bay Area http://www.nbcbayarea.com en-us Fri, 31 Oct 2014 13:55:00 -0700 Fri, 31 Oct 2014 13:55:00 -0700 NBC Owned Television Stations <![CDATA[Social Media Buzz: Giants Victory Parade]]> Fri, 31 Oct 2014 11:18:44 -0700 http://media.nbcbayarea.com/images/202*120/2014-10-31_11-12-17.jpg

At least one million fans are expected to turn out to celebrate the San Francisco Giants' third World Series victory in just five years. And as you might imagine, fans are excited about celebrating their home team.

Here's a compilation of what's buzzing on social media about today's big event.

<![CDATA[Seahawks Say They'll be Ready for Carr This Time]]> Fri, 31 Oct 2014 08:40:37 -0700 http://media.nbcbayarea.com/images/174*120/bricehawks.jpg

Way back on Aug. 28, the Oakland Raiders beat the Seattle Seahawks 41-31.

Of course it was an exhibition game, so it didn’t count. The next week, the Raiders lost to the Jets in the regular-season opener – and then lost six more. 

Now the Raiders are 0-7, the only winless team in the NFL and a huge underdog to the Seahawks this Sunday afternoon in Seattle where the 'Hawks are almost invincible. Oddsmakers have made Seattle a 16½-point favorite, the biggest spread in the league this week.

The fact the Raiders won this matchup back in August has been pointed out numerous times this week, but both teams dismiss that game as meaningless.

In that game, rookie quarterback Derek Carr locked up his starting spot by performing brilliantly. In playing the first quarter and into the second, Carr completed 11-of-13 passes for 143 yards and three touchdowns while playing against Seattle’s first- and second-teamers.

In that game, Carr threw into the teeth of Seattle’s vaunted secondary. Afterward, Seahawks All-Pro cornerback Richard Sherman told the media, “He’s not afraid to take shots. He’s a gunslinger.”

Now, however, Sherman and his defensive mates are ready for Carr and the Raiders. This time, they’ve been able to watch Carr on tape, get a read on him and learn from that August game. Now over .500 at 4-3, the Seahawks could be poised for a second-half run in the NFC West, and they could use the Raiders as a springboard.

This week, Sherman told the Tacoma News Tribune that he wasn’t surprised Carr went right at the Seattle defense in his first meeting, and he won’t be surprised if he tries it again.

“I mean, he doesn’t know any better,” he told Tacoma’s Gregg Bell, adding: “They’ve got nothing to lose – obviously.”

Except, of course, another game.

And losing in Seattle certainly would seem to be the obvious outcome of this game.

The Seahawks rank No. 5 overall defensively in the NFL, and they’re going up against the Raiders’ offense that ranks 31st. On the other side, the Raiders’ run defense ranks 26th while the Seahawks pound the football with former Cal standout Marshawn Lynch and their running attack ranks No. 2 in the NFL.

One thing that seems certain, however, is that Carr and the Oakland offense – despite Sherman’s dare – are likely to take their chances downfield with the passing game. When reporters this week asked Oakland head coach Tony Sparano if the fact Seattle has just three interceptions this year gives Oakland more confidence, he said, “We have confidence to throw the ball downfield against anybody.”

“All due respect to Seattle, they’re an outstanding team, no doubt about it, well-coached football team, aggressive football team, plays hard and when you’re playing in their place, you better bring as many A-games as you have,” he said. “But all that being said, Derek hasn’t really been afraid to throw the ball down the field against anybody.”

Sparano added, “If the opportunity comes up, we’re going to certainly test it.”

That should make for an interesting afternoon. 

Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Niners Face Slumping, Injured Rams]]> Fri, 31 Oct 2014 08:40:05 -0700 http://media.nbcbayarea.com/images/180*120/khapnramz.jpg

Going into this season, the St. Louis Rams figured to be part of a very tough NFC West, poised perhaps to be a contender along with the Seahawks, 49ers and Cardinals.

But seven games into the season, the Rams are 2-5 as they head into Sunday’s afternoon matchup with the 4-3 49ers at Levi’s Stadium.

The Niners already beat St. Louis handily, 31-17, on Oct. 13, with the San Francisco defense dominant and the offense electric behind Colin Kaepernick’s best game of the season (343 yards, three TD passes, zero interceptions).

Now the Rams come into the Bay Area not only beaten but battered physically.

St. Louis is without starting quarterback Sam Bradford, top wide receiver Brian Quick and standout left tackle Jake Long, among others.

“Injuries, you have to deal with it,” Rams head coach Jeff Fisher said on a conference call this week.

The 49ers, meanwhile, appear to be much healthier after their bye week. Guard Mike Iupati, linebacker Patrick Willis and defensive backs Chris Culliver and Jimmie Ward all should be back in the lineup after missing the team’s last game against Denver on Oct. 19.

NFL oddsmakers don’t see the limping Rams as much of a threat. They’ve made the 49ers 11-point favorites for the game that kicks off at 1:05 p.m.

In the first matchup between the teams this year, the Rams defense made a commitment to stop the run, so Kaepernick and Co. went to the air with great success. The Rams remain woeful against the run – they rank 31st in the league in rushing defense – so San Francisco could have a big day running the ball, unless St. Louis takes the same approach again.

The Rams also blitz more than any team in the league (on 44 percent of pass plays), but Kaepernick has been excellent against blitzes. According to ESPN Stats & Info, two of Kaepernick’s TD passes vs. the Rams this season came on blitzes, and he has a 21-3 touchdown-to-interception ratio over his career against blitzes.

Despite his big day against them this season, Kaepernick says the Rams defense can be tough to solve.

“They have a lot of different things they can do,” he told reporters. “Very good defense. We have to be ready for them.”

The stats and the injury reports would say otherwise, and if the 49ers want to stay in the hunt for the NFC West title this season, this is a big week for them. A victory over the Rams will boost the 49ers to 5-3. The 6-1 Cardinals, meanwhile, are playing the 6-2 Cowboys in Texas. A loss by Arizona will tighten things up.

Niners head coach Jim Harbaugh said this week, however, that though the Rams don’t appear to be a threat, they are because of their history with San Francisco as a division rival and the fact they’ve beaten the 49ers before.

“You just turn on the film of all our games with the Rams, and that speaks volumes,” he said.


Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Giants Victory Parade]]> Fri, 31 Oct 2014 13:40:17 -0700 http://media.nbcbayarea.com/images/213*120/AP381782814728.jpg Images from the San Francisco Giants' 2014 World Series Victory Parade.

Photo Credit: AP]]>
<![CDATA[Tips On How to Behave at World Series Parade]]> Fri, 31 Oct 2014 11:50:25 -0700 http://media.nbcbayarea.com/images/178*120/155077437_8.jpg

Three titles in five years means three parades and no excuse for misbehaving this time around.

San Francisco has already dealt with hooliganism and tomfoolery that somehow accompany every major sports accomplishment. And with that out of your systems on Wednesday night there are a few things you ought to know about how to act during a World Series parade.

The San Francisco Examiner is playing the role of Miss Manners today, providing a how-to list for World Series parade enjoyment.

So as you huddle in the rain underneath your orange-and-black umbrella and wait to catch a glimpse of Mad Bum, Buster, and the rest, do keep in mind that "civility should rule the day," as the newspaper put it.

All space you occupy at the parade is public, which means entitlement is next to zero. Shared public space means allowing the people around you to catch a glimpse once your selfie with confetti is captured.

And tall people ought not get taller. "Standing on chairs, newspaper boxes, light poles and most of all coolers is a really lame way to treat your fellow fans," the paper opined.

Other good ideas: abstain from marijuana consumption and alcohol, which may be easier to obey this year than in the past. Hard to get a light in the rain, and nobody likes Bumgarnering with some rainwater.

Lastly: keep the Dodger gear at home. But hopefully you already knew that one.

Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Bumgarner the Elder Speaks on MadBum]]> Fri, 31 Oct 2014 11:47:08 -0700 http://media.nbcbayarea.com/images/180*120/458072898_8.jpg

There's only one man who can criticiz  a four-hit Madison Bumgarner shutout.

The same man who texted the World Series MVP before Game 7 ended, according to the New York Times.

Kevin Bumgarner is not only Madison's nearby neighbor in Granite Falls, North Carolina, an area that is known locally as "Bumtown," due to "a lot of Bumgarners" in the area.

One of them, Kevin, is Madison's father. And though Kevin keeps a shrine to his son's career in his home, he can also be the pitcher's harshest critic.

After Bumgarner won Game 5 of the Series on Sunday, Kevin pointed out to his son that he hadn't had all that good of a game: he was hitless at the plate.

"First thing I mentioned after Sunday was, 'Don't forget you were 0 for 4," Kevin told his son.

That Bumgarner hit .258 during the season with four home runs, a better line than some shortstops, didn't seem to matter.

Then Game 7 rolled around. Kevin watched from his home as Madison Bumgarner came out of the bullpen to throw five scoreless innings. He had only thrown four when Kevin pulled out his phone and texted his son.

"OMG. You're so much more than awesome," father wrote to son. "To see your work on the mound reminds me of watching you in high school. You are willing yourself to perfection and dragging the team along with you. I couldn't be more proud of your baseballl accomplishments."

As he explained to the Times, Kevin "wanted him to know this was what his daddy thought of him."

Then the MVP ceremony rolled around. Madison won himself a truck. He already has several.

"I got hopes," Kevin told the paper, "he might give that one to me."

Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Giants Parade Tips: Getting There By Car, BART or MUNI]]> Fri, 31 Oct 2014 10:42:52 -0700 http://media.nbcbayarea.com/images/213*120/AP25673586634.jpg

Friday's San Francisco Giants World Series victory parade will start at Steuart and Market streets, travel along Market Street before making a right turn onto McAllister Street. It will end with a celebration at the Civic Center Plaza and City Hall.

City officials anticipate 1 million people to come out for the event.

Street closures:

  • McAllister Street (between Larkin Street and Van Ness Avenue)
  • Grove Street (between Larkin Street and Van Ness Avenue)
  • Civic Center Plaza and streets around and adjacent to City Hall

The San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency is encouraging people ride public transportation to and from the celebration.

Muni will reroute the following lines:

  • Steuart Street (between Howard and Market streets)
  • Sear Street (between Howard and Market streets)
  • Main Street (between Howard and Market streets)
  • Market Street (between Steuart 1st and 10th streets)
  • Mission Street (between Van Ness Avenue and The Embarcadero)

Please also be aware:

  • Mission Street will be closed to private automobiles, but open to public transit, taxis and first responders only. Muni routes will be diverted off Market Street onto Mission Street because of the parade.
  • No traffic or cross traffic will be permitted on Market Street, Steuart Street and Van Ness Avenue (after 9:30 a.m. and streets will re-open at approximately 5 p.m. or sooner.)
  • The underground Civic Center parking garage will be closed to general parking. Monthly parking pass holders will have access until 9 a.m. but no exits until surrounding streets have re-opened.
  • All Muni Metro trains will stop at Civic Center station for the celebration and parade, as well as at Embarcadero, Montgomery and Powell stations for the parade.
  • There will be limited bike parking available, and bicycles are not allowed on Market or Mission streets.

Public Transportation Options

Parking is expected to be limited and traffic congested. For a better celebration experience, BART, Caltrain, Golden Gate Transit, AC Transit, SamTrans and ferries will offer expanded services. For up to the minute information, visit www.511.org.

The SFMTA will supplement existing Metro service with six additional Metro shuttles. Additional service will begin at 9 a.m. and continue until restricted parade routes are cleared.

The following Muni lines and routes will be affected:

  • California Cable Car
  • Powell Hyde Cable Car
  • Powell Mason Cable Car
  • F Market and Wharves
  • 2 Clement
  • 3 Jackson
  • 5 Fulton
  • 6 Parnassus
  • 8X Bayshore Express
  • 9 San Bruno
  • 9L San Bruno Limited
  • 10 Townsend
  • 12 Folsom-Pacific
  • 14 Mission
  • 14L Mission Limited
  • 19 Polk
  • 21 Hayes
  • 27 Bryant
  • 30 Stockton
  • 31 Balboa
  • 38 Geary
  • 38L Geary Limited
  • 45 Union-Stockton
  • 71 Haight-Noriega

BART has provided the following Giants parade day tips:

  • Load your Clipper card with extra value or, if buying a BART ticket, purchase a round trip ticket before parade day.
  • Avoid peak commute hours (6 to 9 a.m. and 4 to 6 p.m.).
  • Don¹t bring your bike on board trains or inside stations as they will be very crowded.
  • Allow extra time to get to San Francisco before the parade begins at 12 Noon.
  • Parking rules and restrictions will be enforced. Consider getting to the station by alternative means such as carpooling, walking, biking and parking your bike at the station) or taking a bus, as parking lots will fill up very early. Do not park in permit spaces if you don¹t have a permit. (Even if you have a reserved space, we cannot guarantee eager fans won¹t park there'we will be ticketing).
  • Plan your trip using the BART QuickPlanner.

BART spokeswoman Alicia Trost said as of 8 a.m. officials expected 10,000 extra riders compared to a regular Friday in October.

Photo Credit: AP
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<![CDATA[Jordan Attacks Obama's Golf Game]]> Fri, 31 Oct 2014 00:49:38 -0700 http://media.nbcbayarea.com/images/160*120/obama+golf+swing-640.jpg

Michael Jordan took a shot at President Barack Obama’s golf game in a recent interview.

When Back 9 Network’s Ahmad Rashad asked Jordan who he would want to play golf with, Jordan said he would like to play with Obama. He then changed his mind. "He’s a hack," he said. "It would be all day playing with him."

"I never said he wasn't a great politician. I'm just saying he's a s----- golfer," Jordan said in the interview.

The president has been known to take time out of his schedule for the occasional golf game. He’s even played a round of golf with Tiger Woods before.

According to Golf Digest, Jordan is a 3-handicap. Obama, on the other hand, has never revealed his handicap.

Photo Credit: AP]]>
<![CDATA[World Series Parade + Rain Forecast]]> Thu, 30 Oct 2014 19:37:25 -0700 http://media.nbcbayarea.com/images/180*120/wxworldseriesjwxj.jpg Not exactly perfect timing as our developing storm will arrive on the same days as the World Series Parade. Chief Meteorologist Jeff Ranieri pinpoints when the weather is expected to be the wettest. Plus, details on colder temperatures.]]> <![CDATA[Bumgarner Worthy of Every Bit of Praise]]> Thu, 30 Oct 2014 17:42:37 -0700 http://media.nbcbayarea.com/images/180*120/458070614_8.jpg

Twitter was abuzz on Wednesday night during the historic performance from San Francisco Giants pitcher Madison Bumgarner in Game 7 of the World Series, both with abundant praise of the Giants' 25-year-old lefty and also with criticism of FOX announcer Joe Buck's unyielding love of all things Bumgarner.

While the latter was probably justified, it was hard to argue with the insane amount of praise heaped upon Bumgarner, because he was all kinds of awesome.

Let's just put a bow on Bumgarner's World Series, let alone his entire postseason, shall we?

His win on Wednesday night was later changed to a five-inning save, and with two days of rest in between, Bumgarner ended up tossing 14 scoreless innings after his complete-game shutout in Game 5. His Game 1 start ended after seven innings, when he allowed just one run in his final inning of work.

In all for the World Series, Bumgarner was a sparkling 2-0 with a save in 21 innings of work. He allowed one run for a 0.43 ERA, struck out 17 and walked one. Over the course of the entire postseason, which included his win in the NL Wild Card Game, Bumgarner was 4-1 with a 1.03 ERA and pitched an MLB record 52 2/3 innings.

So yeah, the Bumgarner praise on Wednesday night might've been a little annoying, but it was anything but over the top. If you watched Wednesday's game, consider yourself lucky.

Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Key Players Will Be Back for 49ers vs. Rams]]> Thu, 30 Oct 2014 11:24:31 -0700 http://media.nbcbayarea.com/images/177*120/willisbettah.jpg

When the 49ers last played a game on Oct. 19, they came off the field a beaten bunch, both on the scoreboard and physically.

The Broncos bashed the 49ers 42-17 that night, as Peyton Manning picked apart an injury-depleted San Francisco defense.

But what a difference a bye week can make.

As the 4-3 49ers prepare to host the 2-5 St. Louis Rams Sunday at Levi’s Stadium, many of the 49ers who couldn’t play in the Denver game – or were injured during the wipeout loss – are healthy and ready to play.

Inside linebacker Patrick Willis, rookie safety/nickel corner Jimmie Ward and cornerback Chris Culliver – who all missed the Denver game – are back practicing and expected to play Sunday. Also practicing this week is guard Mike Iupati (who missed the Broncos game with a concussion).

In fact, only three 49ers are listed on the team’s injury report this week: cornerback Tramaine Brock (toe), Ward (quadriceps) and Willis (toe). Each will play. Unfortunately, starting center Daniel Kilgore and cornerback Chris Cox were lost for the season. Kilgore will be replaced by rookie Marcus Martin.

This week, in a conference call with St. Louis media, Harbaugh, in his terse way, acknowledged that getting players such as Willis, Ward, Culliver and Iupati back is encouraging for his team.

“Yes,” he said. “Always strive to have all hands on deck.”

The 49ers defense had been very strong going into the Denver game, one of the biggest factors in San Francisco rolling off three straight victories. But against Manning and Co., San Francisco couldn’t stop the run or the pass. Not having Willis in the middle (after already missing NaVorro Bowman, still not due to come back for several games) and Ward and Culliver certainly made the defense even more vulnerable.

Now the 49ers face a Rams team they beat just two games ago, 31-17.

The Rams are now plagued by injuries, plus lost starting quarterback Sam Bradford early in the year and are struggling. But, they beat the Seahawks recently and Harbaugh says he’s not taking the Rams lightly.

“It’s a salty opponent,” he told reporters, noting the division history between the teams.

But, he’s more focused on his own team and believes it will rebound from the Denver loss.

“Tough game, yeah,” he said. “Fortunately we’re a tough team. You re-fit, you re-group, you re-tool. That’s been our approach.”


Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Raiders Have Done Nice Job Protecting Carr]]> Thu, 30 Oct 2014 11:30:51 -0700 http://media.nbcbayarea.com/images/180*120/kahrsacked.jpg

There haven’t been many highlights this season for the Raiders, but one thing worth a thumbs up is Oakland's ability to protect rookie quarterback Derek Carr.

Rookie quarterbacks on bad teams often take a beating that can cause short- or long-term damage, both physically and mentally. Often, quarterbacks develop happy feet and never again seem confident in the pocket.

So far that hasn’t been the case with Carr.

Though Oakland is 0-7 as it gets ready to face the Super Bowl-champion Seahawks in Seattle Sunday, the Raiders’ offensive line has done an excellent job protecting Carr and allowing him to look downfield and make plays. The Raiders have allowed just eight sacks – and one of those was on backup quarterback Matt McGloin – the third-best total in the league, behind only Philadelphia and Baltimore. And that’s after allowing three by the Browns this past Sunday.

The Raiders are giving up just 1.1 sacks per game, way down from last year’s 2.8 average.

It’s no small factor in the fact Carr has set a franchise rookie record for TD passes in a season (nine) and is completing more than 60 percent of his throws.

A good part of it has been the blocking, and another key component has been Carr’s quick release and ability to move in the pocket and keep plays alive.

On his conference call with Bay Area reporters this week, Seahawks head coach Pete Carroll talked about the good protection Carr has received and how solid he’s looked.

“He’s shown touch," said Carroll. "He’s shown a strong arm and he’s shown downfield stuff. He’s moving well and he looks very comfortable. He looks like a terrific prospect for the years to come and he’s on it right now. He’s got great numbers for the situation. I’m thinking he’s darn good.”

Carr’s older brother, David, didn’t have it nearly so good when he was a rookie quarterback for the Houston Texans, being sacked an NFL-record 76 times.

The Seahawks defense hasn’t performed as well as it did in 2013 – it's sacked opposing QBs just 10 times -- but it should be a formidable test for Oakland’s line to protect Carr on Sunday, especially considering the Seattle secondary can lock up receivers.

“This is the defending Super Bowl champs at their house with great players all over the field,” said Carr this week. “It will be a challenge.”


Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[A Homecoming Fit for a King]]> Thu, 30 Oct 2014 10:52:02 -0700 http://media.nbcbayarea.com/images/213*120/457402746.jpg

Out in Cleveland they’re talking 70 wins and a championship for the Cavaliers.

Quick reminder I: Only one NBA team has ever won 70 games in a season, and the 1996-97 Chicago Bulls had a guy named Michael Jordan leading the way to a record 72 wins.

Quick reminder II: The Cavs are 0-for-44 in their all-time quest for an NBA championship.

But it’s easy to see why expectations are through the Quickens Loan Arena roof, just off the shores of Lake Erie: On Thursday night, LeBron James will put on a Cleveland uniform in a regular-season game for the first time since 2009-10. 

“This is my first home game,’’ he says in a new Sprite commercial, trumpeting his return to his hometown team.

The ad shows him getting a hero’s welcome as he walks into Akron’s Patterson Park, where he played as a youth. It’s as if he never left Cleveland back in July, 2010, to take “my talents to South Beach.’’ That night he became Public Enemy No. 1, with his once-adoring fans burning his wine-and gold No. 23 jersey and the Cavs’ owner, Dan Gilbert, emasculating the franchise’s all-time greatest player in a venomous email seen ‘round the world.

Now he’s back and the NBA has never seen a homecoming like this one.

The Cavs open the season Thursday at the New York Knicks at 8 p.m. He returns with a new baby in tow, having welcomed daughter Zhuri Nova with his wife last week. James also has two sons.

“They all hated him for leaving, but now it’s a great story because he’s the hero again,’’ NBA legend Shaquille O’Neal said on Monday. “Villain one day, hero the next. Now all is forgiven. That just shows you how fickle fans can be.’’

O’Neal, who played two seasons in Cleveland with James, had an idea that James would be headed back home. It’s not just that LeBron always had it in the back of his mind to return to where he first became a legend, playing for St. Vincent-St. Mary High School. Shaq also saw some basketball logic in James’ decision to leave Miami Heat as a free agent, even after leading the Heat to two titles, in 2012 and 2013, and helping the Heat become only the third franchise in league history to go to four straight Finals.

“When a guy goes to four straight Finals, like LeBron did, you figure everything is good and he’ll be staying,’’ O’Neal said. “But what nobody is talking about is what happened to the Heat.’’

In last June’s Finals the Heat’s vaunted “Big Three’’ was reduced to James trying to go one-on-five and getting obliterated in five games by the San Antonio Spurs. With one-time Finals MVP Dwyane Wade looking calcified, and their top big man Chris Bosh largely ineffective, James found himself trying to outduel the Spurs by himself.

Turns out, he had every reason to head back to Northeast Ohio. But first, he had to hear a very big “I’m sorry’’ from Gilbert, the long-time meddling owner. The two met in secret in Florida before he decided to make the move. Gilbert apologized and James proved to be one forgiving soul.

“You hash it out and move on,’’ the four-time MVP said.

James signed a two-year deal for $42.1 million, with an option to rework his contract next summer. What he went back to was a far cry from what the Cavs have now, as they prepare to take the court for their season-opener against the New York Knicks.

“I didn't envision our team being like this right off the bat," James said during pre-season. “I felt like me coming, we could hopefully add some pieces. Obviously it happened quicker than I thought."

The Cavs have the makings of a championship contender. Kyrie Irving, who was once intent on returning home to the New York area to play for his beloved Knicks, opted to stay when the Cavs gave him the $90 million maximum salary, just before James announced his return. Then the Cavs used their third No. 1 overall pick in the draft in the last four years, Kansas prodigy Andrew Wiggins, and traded him to Minnesota for the Timberwolves' disgruntled All-Star power forward, Kevin Love.

Irving and Love have zero playoff appearances between them and have never had to perform under such lofty expectations, which is probably the reason James refuses to call his new set-up “the Big Three.’’ But they’re bound to benefit from playing with James, who will be seeking his sixth trip to the Finals since 2007 and his third ring. With the King back on his throne, the Cavs had an easy time adding the necessary fill-in pieces for a strong supporting cast. Players with championship pedigree like Shawn Marion, Mike Miller and James Jones ran to play with James. They might be shaky defensively, lacking a big man to protect the rim, but the Cavs should be an offensive juggernaut.

“I don’t see anybody in the East giving them problems,’’ O’Neal said. “Chicago needs to find another scorer to help Derrick Rose. He can’t do it by himself and he’s undersized. The only concern I have about Cleveland is their coach.’’

A veteran of coaching in Russia and Israel, David Blatt, a former Princeton player under legendary coach Pete Carril, has never coached a second in the NBA, not even as an assistant. But he now has the best player on the planet, who still doesn’t turn 30 until December, meaning this is a learning curve that should be relatively easy to negotiate.

Of course, there hasn’t been a champion in Cleveland since the Browns in 1964.

“For LeBron, winning one championship in Cleveland will be the equivalent of winning five titles in Miami,’’ said O’Neal’s TNT teammate, Charles Barkley. “Even if he doesn’t win it this season, you just have to love the fact that LeBron went back home. That’s what I was rooting for and what a lot of people were rooting for.’’

Nowhere more than out in LeBron’s old stomping grounds. He might not win 70 games this season, but no one will be surprised if sometime in June he’s out in front, leading a championship parade.

Longtime New York columnist Mitch Lawrence continues to write about pro basketball, as he’s done for the last 21 years. His columns for NBCNewYork.com on the Knicks, Brooklyn Nets and the NBA, along with other major sports, will appear twice weekly. Follow him on Twitter @Mitch _ Lawrence.

Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[WATCH LIVE: Giants World Series Victory Parade]]> Fri, 31 Oct 2014 13:43:06 -0700 http://media.nbcbayarea.com/images/213*120/AP909320410576.jpg

The San Francisco Giants World Series victory parade kicked off officially a little after noon with cheers, marching bands and the Giants themselves, sending tens of thousands of fans lined up on Market Street into giddy fits of excitement.

Hundreds lined up in the wee hours of Friday morning, hoping to grab the best spot to catch a glimpse of MadBum, Panda and Pence.

The crowd went wild when they spotted the star of the moment — Madison Bumgarner, MVP of this years World Series. Jockey handed out special "MadBum" underwear to the crowd in his honor.

"It's a team effort all the way," a humble Travis Ishikawa told NBC Bay Area's Bob Redell, who was able to catch a ride on the Giants' victory bus for a bit.

"How does it feel to be up here?" Redell asked Giants catcher Buster Posey. "Feels great," Posey replied smiling.

Sergio Romo — who caused a stir last year for wearing a "I only look illegal t-shirt" — was spotted making a "three" sign, signifying his three World Series rings.

"Very exciting to see we made this city happy again — we love our fans so we are very very blessed to bring another ring to them," said Giants pitcher Jeremy Affeldt.

"A lot of familiar emotions — feels good to be part of another celebration," said Tim Lincecum.

"This is unbelievable, this gives you goosebumps," said Giants player Michael Morse.

Barry Bonds rolled by in a Giants-themed convertible, waving to the crowd. Bond was absent from the last two Giants victory parade celebrations.

Sergio Romo — who caused a stir last year for wearing a "I only look illegal t-shirt" — was spotted making a "three" sign, signifying his three World Series rings.

Giants' outfielder Hunter Pence and Brandon Crawford waved to the crowd from their bus. Pence shouted "Yes, yes, yes," and tweeted "Best fans in the world!"

"This never gets old," one fan told NBC Bay Area.

Hearty San Franciscans, and even guests from beyond, didn't seem to mind hoisting up their umbrellas and hunkering down in rain coats to watch their beloved baseball team bask in the glory of their third World Series win in the last five seasons.

Many fans had the same attitude as Louis Magana, one of the chauffuers driving the Giants in the parade: “It doesn’t matter. We’re driving the Giants. The Giants won. It doesn’t matter if it’s snowing, thunder. It doesn’t matter at all.”

City officials expected one million people to come out for the event.

BART and Muni added extra service for hundreds of thousands of extra riders heading into the city. Friday morning, BART spokeswoman Alicia Trost said there were 10,000 extra morning riders. Police are also adding extra patrols.

Giants Parade Tips: Getting There By Car, BART or MUNI

The parade started at Steuart and Market streets, and will travel along Market Street before making a right turn onto McAllister Street. It will end with a celebration at the Civic Center Plaza and City Hall.

Street closures:

  • McAllister Street (between Larkin Street and Van Ness Avenue)
  • Grove Street (between Larkin Street and Van Ness Avenue)
  • Civic Center Plaza and streets around and adjacent to City Hall

The San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency is encouraging people ride public transportation to and from the celebration.

Parking is expected to be limited and traffic congested. For a better celebration experience, BART, Caltrain, Golden Gate Transit, AC Transit, SamTrans and ferries will offer expanded services.

Photo Credit: AP
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<![CDATA[Giants Fans Celebrate Win Aboard Virgin Flight ]]> Thu, 30 Oct 2014 13:22:29 -0700 http://media.nbcbayarea.com/images/213*120/giants-virgin.jpg

When Pablo Sandoval caught the last out to win the 2014 World Series for the San Francisco Giants, Virgin America Flight VX717 took notice.

The routine flight from Dallas Love Field to San Francisco International was 35,000 feet up in the air when the ninth inning ended.  

As you can see, the passengers were watching the game closely and were sure to celebrate appropriately.

No word as to whether Mumm Napa champagne was popped accordingly.

Virgin is, of course, the official airline of the San Francisco Giants, the San Francisco Business Times noted.

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<![CDATA[Crews Set Up for World Series Parade]]> Thu, 30 Oct 2014 08:28:43 -0700 http://media.nbcbayarea.com/images/213*120/AP227125776284.jpg Crews set up for the World Series Parade in San Francisco scheduled at noon on Friday. Nannette Miranda reports.

Photo Credit: AP]]>
<![CDATA[No Time Off: SF Beefs Up Staff for Parade, Halloween]]> Thu, 30 Oct 2014 17:33:40 -0700 http://media.nbcbayarea.com/images/213*120/parade121.jpg

Hey, they pulled off turning San Francisco into Gotham City for Batkid.

But even though the world watched, mostly from afar, there weren't one million people crowded into the city all at once, which is the number expected to hit the streets on Friday.

Still, who says the City by the Bay can't pull off a Giants World Series Victory Parade followed by some rambunctious Halloween festivities?

That's what the mayor, the police department and the nearly 850,000 residents of San Francisco, plus their guests, are facing with at least two back-to-back major galas.

It means no officers get the day off. And that the Castro Street Halloween party is no longer an official party.

"Discretionary time off was already cancelled due to Halloween," Police Department Spokesman Gordon Shyy said. "Obviously that stays in effect as we will need to staff for a parade now."

Beginning at noon, the 2014 World Series champs will snake through San Francisco at noon starting at Market and Steuart Streets and continuing down Market Street to Civic Center Plaza. Two years ago, the parade went off with no problems. Fans peacefully lined the streets to see Sergio Romo grab headlines with his "I just look illegal T-shirt," and watch Giants' broadcasters Jon Miller and Dave Flemming whoop it up to "Gangam Style" on stage.

Hours later, the neighborhood Halloween trick-or-treating and parties begin.

But since 2007, the city has banned the open Castro Street affair, a tradition that began in the 1940s and  had blossomed into a sometimes raucous and violent affair, with stabbings and arrests.

People are still allowed to visit the mostly gay neighborhood to dress up and walk around. It's just that for the last seven years, there are no street closures and police strictly enforce no alcohol rules even though the bars and restaurants are still open.

Despite the crackdown, Mayor Ed Lee's spokeswoman Christine Falvey said people can have fun, and she encouraged people to stay in their own neighborhoods.

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<![CDATA[MLB Auctions Off Spot Aboard Giants Parade Float]]> Thu, 30 Oct 2014 17:26:17 -0700 http://media.nbcbayarea.com/images/213*120/parade62.jpg

Win like a Giant, parade like a Giant.

You and a friend could find yourselves at the World Series parade on Friday – that is, in the parade, riding one of the floats – if you're the lucky winner of an MLB auction underway Thursday afternoon. (Editor's note: The auction is over as of 6 p.m. Thursday)

Major League Baseball is auctioning off two spots for two people each – four paraders total – to ride on the Giants Community Fund float in the parade that steps off at noon.

Bidding was at $5,200 as of noon on Thursday, with the auction set to close at 6 p.m.

The lucky winners will need to show up to AT&T Park at 8 a.m. Friday in order to join the parade.

Bring your own champagne (or sparkling wine). The city will provide the confetti.

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<![CDATA["Euphoria": Giants Return Home After World Series Win]]> Thu, 30 Oct 2014 13:25:32 -0700 http://media.nbcbayarea.com/images/160*120/larrybaer2.jpg

Less than eight hours after they clinched their third World Series title in just five seasons, the San Francisco Giants returned Thursday to their hometown city before dawn to newspaper headlines screaming about the team's "Dynasty," and hard core fans mobbing pitching star "MadBum" at AT&T Park.

"MVP, MVP," the crowd screamed, waving San Francisco Chronicle newspapers with the word "Dynasty" in bold font stripped across the masthead.

The Giants beat the Kansas City Royals on Wednesday night in a nail-biting 3-2 game in the 9th inning. Much of that success is attributed to Madison Bumgarner, the humble 25-year-old pitcher who pitched five innings of near-perfect relief.

The welcome home capped a night of jubilation that drew throngs of Giants fans to the streets. While many revelers were peaceful, at least two people were shot and reports of bonfires in the streets and thrown bottles circulated.

The players didn't stop to talk to fans or the media. Hunter Pence just gave a quick peace sign before heading off. But Giants CEO Larry Baer did make a quick public appearance, carrying the team's World Series trophy lovingly in his arms. He said the plane ride home was "giddy."

"We're in an altered state of happiness and euphoria," he told the crowd. "They got it done."

When the team's charter plane touched down at San Francisco International Airport just before 4 a.m., buses took the players to their ballpark, AT&T Park, so they could pick up their cars, and head to the Hyatt in Burlingame for an after-after-party. Standing in the cold and dark, about 100 fans lined the sidewalk, trying to get close to Bumgarner who was named the World Series Most Valuable Player.

While most fans contained their excitement to a healthy roar, there were injuries and arrests following the World Series win on Wednesday night right after the game, where thousands had gathered in Civic Center Plaza to watch the game on a large Jumbotron.

San Francisco Police Officer Gordon Shyy said as of 8:45 p. on Wednesday, two people were shot in separate cases - neither were life threatening. One man was shot in the arm at 21st and Valencia streets in the Mission District. Another person was shot and walked into San Francisco General Hospital.

Police and witnesses also cited crowds setting off bonfires and firecrackers in the street. A couch was even set on fire. And some threw their celebratory champagne bottles and police. Shyy said that officers were "assaulted" with those bottles on Market Street in the Mission District, and were hit with firecrackers and M80s, as they tried to disperse the crowds. Multiple officers suffered minor injuries, Shyy said.

Police Chief Greg Suhr had to defuse a tense situation himself, the Chronicle reported. He confronted a dozen kids hanging onto a car on Market Street swearing at “pigs” and ordered them to shut off the music and leave or they would be arrested.

He did not know the number of arrests on Wednesday night, and said those numbers should be released on Thursday.

Last time the Giants won the World Series in 2012, about 35 were arrested on victory night, mostly for vandalism and people setting fires. Nine were charged with crimes the next day.

Photo Credit: Stephen Wheelock
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<![CDATA[Giants Players Celebrate World Series Victory]]> Wed, 29 Oct 2014 23:32:45 -0700 http://media.nbcbayarea.com/images/180*120/458075252_8.jpg Giants capture third World Series title in five years. Geraud Moncure and Amy Gutierrez report.

Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Players and Fans Celebrate Giants' World Series Win]]> Wed, 29 Oct 2014 22:42:05 -0700 http://media.nbcbayarea.com/images/213*120/AP283856501206.jpg Giants fans and players celebrated their team's eighth World Series win, only two years after they last claimed the title.

Photo Credit: AP]]>
<![CDATA[From Wild Card to World Champs: SF Celebrates the Giants]]> Wed, 29 Oct 2014 22:40:11 -0700 http://media.nbcbayarea.com/images/213*120/octciviccenter2.JPG From Wild Card to World Champs: SF Celebrates the Giants]]> <![CDATA[Giants Fans Celebrate World Series Win at Civic Center]]> Wed, 29 Oct 2014 22:24:38 -0700 http://media.nbcbayarea.com/images/213*120/KNTV_000000008770910_1200x675_349770819503.jpg Watch raw video of Giants fans at the Civic Center watching the final out and celebrating the World Series victory.]]> <![CDATA[Fans Flock to Stores for Giants World Series Merchandise]]> Wed, 29 Oct 2014 23:33:46 -0700 http://media.nbcbayarea.com/images/213*120/KNTV_000000008771392_1200x675_349781571685.jpg Fans flocked to stores to purchase Giants shirts and other merchandise after the team captured the 2014 World Series title.]]> <![CDATA[San Francisco Giants Fans Celebrate in Kansas City]]> Wed, 29 Oct 2014 23:48:14 -0700 http://media.nbcbayarea.com/images/180*120/458072286_8.jpg San Francisco Giants fans celebrate after their team defeated the Kansas City Royals to win the World Series. Janelle Wang reports live from Kansas City.

Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[With World Series Win, Giants Enter Dynasty Territory]]> Thu, 30 Oct 2014 13:24:38 -0700 http://media.nbcbayarea.com/images/213*120/bumgarner-game-7.jpg

It's time to talk dynasty.

And it's time to talk as if Bruce Bochy and Brian Sabean are in the same class as Bill Walsh.

Because, by all measures, that's where they're at.

With a 3-2 win over the Kansas City Royals in Game 7, the San Francisco Giants have wrapped up the franchise's third World Series title in five seasons. That means a run of postseason dominance that's more title than torture, and a run of success that's second to only one other team in baseball history.

And, in the pantheon of Bay Area sports, it's a run that's rivaled only by Joe Montana, Bill Walsh and the glory years of the 1980s 49ers.

The Giants franchise has now appeared in 20 World Series matchups, counting the days when the Giants played at New York's Polo Grounds. That's second all-time, behind the New York Yankees and their 40 appearances in the biggest series (and 27 titles).

The Giants' eighth championship is also good for fourth all-time, behind regular October foils St. Louis, the Philadelphia-Kansas City-Oakland A's, and those same Yankees.

With three titles won on the West Coast, any and all talk from A's fans about the better club is also silenced.

1989 was a long time ago, and Tony LaRussa is not walking through that door with Rickey Henderson and the Bash Brothers in tow anytime soon.

Coincidentally, a run of three titles in five years is also the best showing by a Major League Baseball team since the Yankees' bout of success in the late 1990s, when they won three in a row and four out of five World Series titles.

Nobody has since come close to that. Nobody has won consecutive titles, and only one team, the 2008-2009 Phillies, have won consecutive pennants. The Giants, in their own way, have come closest.

Though when sports dynasties are discussed, another Bay Area team may still be on top of the mountain, never to be dislodged: the Giants' old co-tenants at Candlestick Park, the 49ers.

For now.

The 49ers won five straight division titles in the 1980s, and seven out of the 10 titles in that decade, en route to their four Super Bowl titles of the 1980s.

That's the gold standard. But the Giants are on pace to exceed that.

And consider how the Giants have done it: with no Matt Cain this season, with Barry Zito pitching the game of his career in 2012, with Edgar Renteria winning the MVP in 2010. Hard to imagine a 49ers title with Roger Craig missing a year in the prime of his career, or the likes of John Taylor winning an MVP away from Jerry Rice.

Then consider that the Giants are, for now, the lone pro sports team to play in San Francisco.

Only one team is bringing San Francisco the kind of glory that other cities dream of, and they wear orange and black.

One of these days, we could be enjoying another victory parade down Bruce Bochy Street, and get showered with confetti at the corner of Brian Sabean Avenue.

Photo Credit: Getty]]>
<![CDATA[Twittersphere: Tracking Game 7 of the World Series]]> Wed, 29 Oct 2014 11:32:27 -0700 http://media.nbcbayarea.com/images/213*120/1028-2014-GiantsFans.jpg

It all comes down to this. After 162 regular season games and 16 post-season games, the fate of the 2014 San Francisco Giants comes down to Game 7 of the World Series at Kauffman Stadium in Kansas City.

Follow along below as we track the tweets about tonight's big game in the Storify below!


Photo Credit: NBC Bay Area]]>
<![CDATA[Giants Fan After Loss: "Baseball Torture"]]> Wed, 29 Oct 2014 08:30:04 -0700 http://media.nbcbayarea.com/images/180*120/458011788_8.jpg Giants fans were disappointed at the World Series Game 6 loss, but many remain hopeful and confident for Game 7. One fan, Pete Pennington of San Francisco, called it " Giants baseball torture." Janelle Wang reports.

Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Michael Jordan Tweets "I'm Back!"]]> Wed, 29 Oct 2014 08:50:14 -0700 http://media.nbcbayarea.com/images/180*120/tlmd_michael_jordan_apuesta.JPG

Michael Jordan is trying his hand at social media, and he went all out for his first tweet Tuesday.

In the tweet, which was posted to the Charlotte Hornets official Twitter account, Jordan revived his legendary “I’m back!” announcement, which signaled he was coming out of retirement roughly 19 years ago.

“I’M BACK!” the tweet read, followed by Jordan clarifying that he's "just kidding" then “laughing out loud.”

The tweet comes on the opening day of the NBA season.

As the owner of the Hornets, Jordan, 51, posted a series of tweets with the hashtag #MJTakeover as part of a social media promotion.

A day earlier, Jordan, who faced criticism when the Hornets played one of the worst seasons in NBA history, told ESPN that being an owner is very different than playing.

“You can’t impact the game. You cannot impact the game,” he said. “I played this game for a long time and I always took criticism in a way that’s going to make me better as a basketball player and I could affect the game per se. Here, I can’t do that other than talking to my other employees or coaches or players.”

Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Giants Fans Invade SF Civic Center]]> Wed, 29 Oct 2014 18:42:43 -0700 http://media.nbcbayarea.com/images/213*120/1029-2014-SFGCivicCenter.jpg Giants fans gather once again on Wednesday morning to watch the determining Game 7 of the World Series on a jumbotron at the San Francisco Civic Center. Mark Matthews reports.

Photo Credit: NBC Bay Area]]>
<![CDATA[Canseco Accidentally Shoots Own Finger Cleaning Gun]]> Wed, 29 Oct 2014 14:13:55 -0700 http://media.nbcbayarea.com/images/213*120/jose-canseco-getty.jpg

Former baseball star Jose Canseco accidentally shot himself in the finger while cleaning what authorities say is a large-caliber handgun in his Las Vegas home Monday afternoon, police told NBC News.

Canseco shot a finger on his left hand, apparently unaware that a bullet was in the chamber, Las Vegas Metro Lt. Mark Reddon said.

"It was a serious hand injury," but not a serious medical injury, Reddon told NBC News. "There was nothing suspicious. There was no alcohol involved, just a misstep with a handgun."

Canseco began his long major league career in the 1980s playing for the Oakland Athletics, before going on to play for the Rangers, Red Sox, Yankees, White Sox and other teams.

He has admitted to using performance-enhancing drugs during his MLB career and after retiring also competed in mixed martial arts and boxing.

Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Twittersphere: Tracking Game 6 of the World Series]]> Tue, 28 Oct 2014 19:00:47 -0700 http://media.nbcbayarea.com/images/180*120/458009680.jpg

Game 6 of the World Series is here! And we're tracking reaction to the San Francisco Giants' performance from around the Twittersphere in the Storify below.


Photo Credit: Ezra Shaw/Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Redskins PR Pulls QB From Interview]]> Tue, 28 Oct 2014 16:29:30 -0700 http://media.nbcbayarea.com/images/165*120/457968826.jpg

Amid the euphoria of the Redskins' 20-17 overtime victory against the Cowboys on Monday, no one can blame quarterback Colt McCoy's exuberance following his exceptional performance

But when ESPN Deportes reporter John Sutcliffe attempted to interview McCoy, Washington senior vice president of communications Tony Wyllie forcibly pulled the quarterback away.

From Dan Steinberg

"No no no, we gotta go guys, we gotta go," Wyllie said, hands on his quarterback, attempting to physically move McCoy toward his destination. But there was resistance from Sutcliffe.

"No means NO!" Wyllie finally shouted, which became the seminal moment for people attempting to make late-night jokes on the internet.

The interview eventually took place.

Wyllie explained the now-infamous moment to ProFootballTalk Tuesday morning. According to Wyllie, McCoy was needed in the locker room for a postgame speech from coach Jay Gruden. Sutcliffe had not set up an on-field interview with McCoy, but still attempted to speak to him. 

Wyllie told News4 he had nothing more to add Tuesday afternoon. "We were just trying to get the player into the locker room so he could hear the post-game speech," he said.

"The guy refused to listen about getting the player in."

Follow Adam on Twitter @AdamVingan and e-mail your story ideas to adamvingan (at) gmail.com.

Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Lattimore Ready for Long-Awaited Opportunity]]> Tue, 28 Oct 2014 09:00:57 -0700 http://media.nbcbayarea.com/images/176*120/scaralatymohr.jpg

Before the last game he ever played at South Carolina, running back Marcus Lattimore spoke to his teammates, urging them to take nothing for granted in life.

Then, his 13th-ranked Gamecocks went out to beat Tennessee, 38-35, on Oct. 27, 2012.

But while South Carolina won the game, it lost Lattimore.  After breaking loose for a 28-yard touchdown run, Lattimore later was hit by a pair of Tennessee tacklers on a short run, causing a gruesome injury to his right leg.

His season was done, and possibly his football career.

“He’s going to do wonderful things,” South Carolina coach Steve Spurrier told reporters after the game. He then added: “I don’t know what field of life.”

Now, almost two years to the day from that injury, Lattimore’s NFL career is set to resume in earnest.

The 49ers running back, taken in the fourth round of the 2013 draft, is set to be activated in time to practice Wednesday.

Because the 49ers have been using just two running backs, Frank Gore and Carlos Hyde, the addition of a healthy Lattimore would be a boost.

For two years, Lattimore – who has been on the non-football injury list since being drafted -- has mostly just continued to rehabilitate his knee and right leg, regaining strength and motion. He was cleared for practice for three weeks last season, but never was activated for a game.

Once Lattimore begins practice Wednesday, the 49ers will have 21 days to either activate him for game action, or sideline him for the rest of the season.

Niners head coach Jim Harbaugh believes the time is now right for Lattimore’s return to football.

“I’ve been watching off to the side, and I’m excited to watch him play football again,” Harbaugh told reporters this week. “You saw some of it in the offseason, but I think he’s further ahead from where he was, three, four months ago, and (I’m) excited to see that progress on the field. I’m looking forward to it.”

Before his final injury at South Carolina – he also had to rehabilitate a knee injury earlier in his career with the Gamecocks – Lattimore was certainly on his way to being a first-round draft pick. He ranked as one of the best running backs in the country.

The 5-foot-11, 221-pounder ran for 38 TDs over parts of three seasons, and 2,677 yards. He also was a fine receiver, with 74 receptions.

If Lattimore is fully healthy, he could provide the 49ers a big help offensively this year and in seasons to come.

Certainly, he is taking nothing for granted. It's been a long road back from Oct. 27, 2012.


Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Giants Fans Invade KC for World Series]]> Tue, 28 Oct 2014 19:10:57 -0700 http://media.nbcbayarea.com/images/213*120/1028-2014-GiantsFans.jpg Many San Francisco Giants fans made the trip to Kansas City to root on the Orange and Black. Janelle Wang reports.

Photo Credit: NBC Bay Area]]>