Friday Sports Post !!! Hulk Hogan Returns to WWE + More

Official: Hulk Hogan returning to WWE

The best-known name in pro-wrestling history is returning to WWE: Hulk Hogan is coming back to serve as a host for the company’s various programs.

“Words cannot express how excited I am to be back in the WWE family,” Hogan said in a statement. “I only have one question for the WWE Universe: whatcha gonna do when Hulkamania runs wild as the host of WrestleMania 30?”

Added WWE Chairman & CEO Vince McMahon: “It’s fitting to have him help us celebrate 30 years of WrestleMania and usher in a new era with the launch of WWE Network.”

Hogan will make his first WWE in seven years this Monday on USA Network’s Raw at 8 p.m., and will also appear on WWE Raw Backstage Pass, which airs live on WWE Network on Monday nights at 11:05 p.m.

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Hogan not expected to be in the ring, though we hear he will “have an impact” on the action.

Hogan became the WWE Champion in 1984 when he defeated The Iron Sheik at Madison Square Garden. He went on to win six WWE Championships, and appeared in-character in movies and TV shows. His last WWE appearance was in 2007, where he appeared at the 15th anniversary of Raw.

Heat’s LeBron James suffers broken nose

The Heat announced Friday that forward LeBron James suffered a broken nose during Miami’s 103-81 road win over Oklahoma City on Thursday. The four-time MVP will be listed as a game-time decision when Miami hosts Chicago on Friday night.

The injury occurred midway through the fourth quarter with Miami leading 88-74. James took a shot to the face from Thunder forward Serge Ibaka as he completed a dunk in traffic.

On the play, James attacked the paint from the left angle, driving hard to his right to gain a step on Ibaka. Rising in the paint, he climbed the ladder over the top of Ibaka to finish a “throw dunk” before he appeared to absorb a hand to the face from Ibaka during his follow-through.
(Layne Murdoch/Getty Images)

LeBron James suffered a broken nose against the Thunder. (Layne Murdoch/Getty Images)

James immediately fell to the court on the baseline and looked face down at the hardwood as the blood poured. Play stopped shortly thereafter and he was attended to by his teammates and medical staffers.

“He’s got a swollen nose right now,” Heat coach Erik Spoelstra said after the game, adding that James passed a concussion test. “It’s sore. We’ll reevaluate him when we get back to Miami.”

Although James did not address reporters after the game, he joked on Twitter that he might have to wear a mask like Bane, the villain in Batman.

James has played in 52 of the Heat’s 53 games this season. He sat out a December game against the Blazers in Portland with a minor groin strain.

Miami improved to 39-14 with the victory over Oklahoma City.

Team USA Picks Julie Chu as Flag-Bearer for 2014 Olympic Closing Ceremony

One of the greatest honors an athlete can receive is getting the opportunity to carry their nation's flag at the Olympics. It's a recognition of athletic excellence, as well as a unique chance to represent an entire country on a world stage.

At the 2014 Winter Olympics, Julie Chu has officially been tasked with carrying the American flag at the closing ceremony in Sochi.

This news comes less than a day after Chu and the U.S. women's hockey team suffered arguably the most heartbreaking loss in recent Olympic history, as Canada fought back from a 2-0 deficit with under four minutes remaining and captured the gold in overtime.

Despite the loss, Chu remained positive after receiving her silver medal, which is the fourth Olympic medal of her decorated international career.

At 31, this is probably Chu's last Olympics. As a player who has been one of the faces of women's hockey for more than a decade, she's a fitting choice to carry the flag for the United States.

With a lone assist in five games, Chu clearly isn't the offensive presence on the back end that she was even four years ago, when she posted six points in Vancouver, but the former Harvard University star brings much more to the table.

Despite her decline in production, both her teammates and head coach told ESPN's Wayne Drehs about how much Chu meant to this squad.

"She just brings experience," said U.S. coach Katey Stone, who was also Chu's coach at Harvard. "She's in the right place at the right time, ready to make plays. She overcommunicates with her teammates. She helps them stay calmer on so many levels. She's a caring soul. We wouldn't be here without her."

Says 22-year-old forward Amanda Kessel, noting Chu's work ethic: "You know what you're going to get out of her every day. I think that's something us younger players really admire in her."

Chu's legacy as one of the greatest female hockey players in American history has been cemented for quite some time, especially given that she was the first Asian-American ever to play for the women's team.

It would have been nice for Chu to end her Olympic career by finally capturing a gold medal, but a silver and an invitation to carry her country's flag with the world watching isn't a bad consolation prize for the legendary rearguard.

Nelson Frazier Jr. dies: WWE's Big Daddy V, Viscera was 43

Nelson Frazier Jr., a professional wrestler known for three stints in WWE, has passed away at 43 years old. He died Tuesday (Feb. 18) from a heart attack, just days after his birthday.

During his time in WWE, Nelson wrestled under a few different names. Originally known as Mabel, Frazier won the 1995 "King of the Ring" tournament. He left in 1996, only to return in 1998 as Viscera, joining The Undertaker's Ministry of Darkness. Eventually, he left the company again in 2000.

Frazier's last run in WWE began in 2004. He returned as Viscera before his name was changed again, this time to Big Daddy V, in 2007. He stayed with the company until 2008. In a statement, WWE says, "Our deepest condolences go out to Frazier's family, friends and fans."

Below, take a look at one of Frazier's matches as Viscera, against WWE superstar John Cena.

Finally: U.S. Speedskaters Break Drought, Win Silver

It took far longer than many people expected. But the American Speedskating team that came to Sochi with high expectations has finally won an Olympic medal. The men's short track relay team finished second to Russia Friday, two days before the Winter Games come to an end.

The four-man team of J.R. Celski, Eddy Alvarez, Chris Creveling and Jordan Malone lost the lead in the 5,000-meter relay well before the race's end, as the Russian squad powered by former South Korean athlete Viktor Ahn skated to victory and set a new Olympic record at 6:42.100. The U.S. was just behind, at 6:42.371. China placed third, finishing nearly 6 seconds behind the American men.

Ahn, who became a Russian citizen in 2011, won his record-tying eighth career Olympic medal, according to the AP.

The U.S. had a chance to double its medal haul Friday in the women's 1,000-meter finals. But Jessica Smith was kept off the podium, finishing fourth in a tight race.

For the Americans, the team relay silver medal comes after days of complaints and finger-pointing. Before today, they had failed to reach the podium in 19 speedskating events (taking the long and short track races together).

Some of the U.S. skaters became convinced that their new and innovative skin suits, unveiled by Under Armour especially for these games, were in fact slowing the athletes down on the ice.

The American team eventually they'd worn during last year's successful World Cup season. Earlier Friday, U.S. Speedskating announced that despite what some have called "suitgate," the team is renewing its ties with Under Armour, extending their contract through 2022.

"We're Americans, and although we got knocked down, we're going to write a new storyline in four years," Under Armour CEO Kevin Plank . "Because who loves a comeback more than our country?"

Despite "suitgate," many observers feel that there are problems with U.S. Speedskating that are more complex. Earlier this week, announced it would take a close look at the troubled national governing body, with an eye to giving more support to the athletes.

Mikaela Shiffrin of U.S. Wins Slalom

KRASNAYA POLYANA, Russia — Mikaela Shiffrin, the 18-year-old wunderkind of ski racing, is a product of a countercultural movement in American youth sports, an initiative of parents who encourage their children to focus on the process of athletic achievement instead of its results. In theory, both the journey and the destination are enhanced.

Shiffrin, the most precocious ski racer the United States has seen, believed and preached the doctrine, even as she became the youngest slalom world champion a year ago.

Then, on Friday night, Shiffrin skied to a commanding lead at the halfway point of the women’s Olympic slalom competition. The gold medal was hers to lose. Riding the chair lift for the second run that would complete her coronation as ski racing’s newest queen, Shiffrin started to cry.

“I might actually be an Olympic champion,” she gasped.

Ligety put himself in a strong position to win the gold with a dominating first run that gave him a lead of almost a second.
Ted Ligety Extends Reign With Giant Slalom WinFEB. 19, 2014
Tina Maze of Slovenia celebrated her victory in the giant slalom.
Savvy Victory for Maze; Solid Finish for Shiffrin FEB. 18, 2014
Mikaela Shiffrin in a World Cup slalom race in Slovenia in February.
At 18, Mikaela Shiffrin Has Envisioned the Best and the WorstFEB. 15, 2014

Minutes later, roaring down the racecourse she could not get the gold medal out of her mind. Shiffrin was on the verge of crashing, one ski airborne, her arms flailing.
How Mikaela Shiffrin Won the Slalom

How the 18-year-old American Shiffrin won the women’s Olympic slalom competition.
OPEN Graphic

Her coach was sure the race was lost. Her mother wondered if she would have a heart attack. The racer relied on the process.

“I’ve made that recovery in practice a hundred times, if not more,” Shiffrin said later. “So I said, ‘You know what to do – charge back into the course.’ ”

About 25 rapid and nearly flawless turns later, Shiffrin sped past the finish line to become the youngest Olympic slalom champion in history. She is also the first American to win the event in 42 years.

“You can create your own miracle,” Shiffrin said when the gold medal was on a sash draped around her neck. “But you do it by never looking past all the little steps along the way.”

Shiffrin’s winning time of 1 minute 44.54 seconds was 53-hundredths of a second better her childhood idol, Marlies Schild of Austria, who won the silver medal. Schild’s teammate Kathrin Zettel won the bronze medal.
Alpine Skiing Women’s Slalom time
● USA Mikaela Shiffrin 1:44.54
● AUT Marlies Schild 1:45.07
● AUT Kathrin Zettel 1:45.35
4th GER Maria Hoefl-Riesch 1:45.73
Expand Results

In skiing circles, Shiffrin has been considered a prodigy — and called “the Mozart of ski racing” –— since she was 12. Lately, she has been called the “next Lindsey Vonn,” a reference to the American Olympic champion of four years ago who is sitting out the Sochi Games with a knee injury. If Friday was a passing of the torch, it will be no surprise to most of the worldwide ski community.

“Mikaela is going to win many, many races, I’m sure this is only the beginning,” said Maria Höfl-Riesch, the defending Olympic slalom champion who finished a whopping 1.19 seconds behind Shiffrin on Friday. “She is a tremendous skier for someone so very young and very mentally tough.”

Shiffrin hails from a ski racing family that twice moved back and forth from Colorado to New England to help foster the ambitions of Mikaela and her older brother, Taylor. Friday’s performance was a validation of a distinctive homegrown approach.

Her parents were her first coaches and remained involved in her tutoring on snow until she was 11. They then sought a guru at a ski academy who was in accord with their developmental theories. Finally, when Mikaela went off on the World Cup tour at the age of 15, her mother, Eileen, went with her — against the wishes of the country’s top ski authorities. Mother and daughter continue to travel together.

Along the way, Shiffrin has racked up the victories and become almost as famous for her ability to win with a demeanor and poise uncommon for a teenager.
Launch media viewer
Mikaela Shiffrin, the reigning world slalom champion, led Maria Höfl-Riesch of Germany by 49-hundredths of a second after the first run. Shiffrin skied only the sixth best second run, but it was enough to win by 53-hundredths of a second. Doug Mills/The New York Times

It was all on display again on her sport’s biggest stage in the mountains north of Sochi. Even in the usually antsy hours before her race, Shiffrin was at ease.

She may have been waiting all her young life for Friday’s race, but her day began typically. She ate breakfast with her parents, then briefly wandered the United States ski team’s hotel, where there are multiple common areas for the athletes to gather and connect.

Shiffrin came across members of the Nordic Combined team, who stenciled a red, white and blue USA in temporary paint on her neck. She had lunch in a noisy cafeteria with glass walls that looked out on the snowy slopes, and then, with the international ski racing community agog in anticipation of the showcase event for the sport’s newest star, Shiffrin took a nap.

Shiffrin is renowned for being able to snooze at midday anywhere. At her first major junior championship, she had to be awakened minutes before what became a record-setting run.

Friday it was the Winter Olympics. Shiffrin slept.

Perhaps that is why she looked so at peace several hours later as she pushed out of the gate for the first run, which she dominated, taking nearly a half second lead in an event often decided by hundredths of a second.

Shiffrin led the field at every timed interval down the racecourse, which drops about 600 feet top to bottom.

David Wright valiantly defends own haircut

Justin Klugh, Sports Producer
Posted: Wednesday, February 19, 2014, 11:57 AM

David Wright is impatient with the Mets; he wants another post season appearance. It's been seven long years, but Wright has stuck with his team, defending them at every turn.

This year, his stunning defense is now between the media and his haircut.
"A good deal of pomade" might be the shot in the arm this team needs to make a run!

LeBron James posts letter thanking dad for not being in his life

Throughout his career, LeBron James has made it well known the importance of his mother, Gloria, in his upbringing, says USA Today.

His father, however, is a different story. Gloria was just 16 when she gave birth to LeBron, and his father, Anthony McClelland, out of the picture, she raised him as a single mother.

The four-time NBA MVP has not forgotten, and posted a powerful open letter to his father on Instagram on Wednesday.

Kevin Love Laughs Offs Trade Rumors

Much like team owner Glen Taylor and GM Flip Saunders, Minnesota Timberwolves star forward Kevin Love tactfully batted away media-driven rumors that he wants out. Love says he just wants to focus on his job with the Wolves, and not worry about the future. Per the Pioneer Press:

“It’s a media-driven story,” Love said. “I just, for the past couple of years, can’t believe some of the stuff that’s come out.”

Love, a three-time all-star, is set to earn $15.7 million next season and has the option to void the $16.7 million on the table in the final year of his contract in 2015-16. After the Wolves’ victory over Indiana on Wednesday, (Hall of Famer writer Peter Vecsey), without citing a source, tweeted that Love has already told Saunders he will opt out.

Asked directly if he told Saunders that, Love said, “No.”

“I got a slew of those questions at (the All-Star Game) and basically said I’m done talking about it,” Love said. “Then Peter Vecsey, who I don’t think I’ve ever talked to, comes out with a story.”

“It comes with the territory, but I just don’t want to talk about it because it takes away from the team,” Love said.

Olympics ice-dancing champions Meryl Davis and Charlie White: 'Dancing with the Stars' next?

Meryl Davis and Charlie White are ready to keep dancing after their gold medal-winning ice dancing routines at the 2014 Winter Olympics in Sochi. Could they be heading to "Dancing with the Stars" next?

Davis and White already have a "DWTS" connection: Pro dancer Derek Hough helped choreograph their Olympic short routine. When Us Weekly asks about the connection and if the athletes would like to continue to work with Hough on "Dancing with the Stars," White responds, "Why not?" Davis continues that theme, saying, "I mean, if we were invited ... we would love to do it!"

When it comes to partners, both ice dancers want to stick with Hough. That would be Derek Hough for Davis. As for White, "Is it too late to get his sister back on the show?"

Olympians have competed and excelled on "Dancing with the Stars" before -- Kristi Yamaguchi, Apolo Anton Ohno and Shawn Johnson have all won Mirror Ball trophies -- so this isn't impossible. There is one possible issue, however.

Ice dancing is essentially ballroom dancing on skates, meaning that Davis and White would be -- yet again -- nearly impossible to beat. But since they can't partner with each other, maybe that would be a fun competition to watch.

Mao Asada criticized after tough short program – and before stellar free skate

One night after finishing 16th in the ladies’ short program following a fall on her triple Axel, Vancouver silver medalist Mao Asada has delivered a brilliant response in the free skate – scoring a career-high 142.71 (WATCH THE EVENT LIVE).

And one wonders what Yoshiro Mori, the former Japanese Prime Minister and new chairman for the 2020 Tokyo Olympics’ organizing committee, must be thinking at this moment.

Mori criticized Asada after her ill-fated short program yesterday, saying that she had a habit of “always falling at the most critical time” according to the Associated Press.

MORE: Canada wins gold in women’s curling

He also said that Asada’s fall in the inaugural team figure skating competition, in which Japan finished fifth, was at cause for her short program problems: “The psychological damage (Asada) incurred must have remained,” Mori said.

Asada certainly didn’t look like a skater with “psychological damage” today inside the Iceberg Skating Palace. She’s smashed her previous career best free skate score of 136.33, which was set at the 2013 Grand Prix Japan.

Additionally, Mori had some words about Japan’s American-born ice dancing pair, Chris and Cathy Reed: “Although they are not good enough for the U.S. team in the Olympics, we included these naturalized citizens on the team,” he said.

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