Shields is a big man, and while he's being talked up as the latest in a long line of contenders who purportedly had the wrestling chops to keep St-Pierre from dictating where the fight takes place, what's relevant is that he comes with real grappling credentials, such as a bronze finish at Abu Dhabi. That doesn't make him Roger Gracie, but he isn't going to be put out by landing on his back, he isn't going to gas, and he's almost certainly going to put St-Pierre in position to fend off chokes and armbars. He's aggressive enough to not just seek escape but try to turn a bad position into a good one or a good one into a dominant one; patient enough to wait for the moment that will allow it; and strong and smart enough to be able to do so. He isn't going to go into this fight looking to land one good shot, but looking to play St-Pierre's game.
5. The Spurs survive against the Grizzlies, thanks to the most unlikely rookie
Imagine the atmosphere in Vancouver right now if the Grizzlies weren't the Memphis Grizzlies? Sorry to bring that up, but regardless, Vancouver's former NBA franchise is playing so well that it almost seems a question of when, not if, Memphis the No.8 seed in the Western Conference knocks off the No.1 seed Spurs as they led San Antonio 3-1 in their first-round series. But last night with their season on the line the Spurs turned to free agent rookie Gary Neal to save the season for the likes of future hall-of-famers Tim Duncan and Manu Ginobilli: It's been a long road for Gary Neal. It took two colleges, several European teams and a summer league stint for the 26-year-old to make his way to the NBA.
"It was mid-September and I was working out and he showed up one day," Manu Ginobili said after the game. "They told me that this was the new shooter we had. I'm not lying when I say that I saw him miss the first 20 shots he took."
Neal went on to become a valuable shooter off the bench for the Spurs, averaging 9.8 points per game in his rookie season and shooting 42 percent from 3-point range. Neal was even named to the rookie team at NBA All-Star Weekend. In the playoffs, Neal's averages have dipped to 7.8 points per game and 38 percent from 3, finding open looks hard to come by against the Grizzlies' swarming defense.
But when San Antonio's season came down to one final play during Game 5 on Wednesday night, the Spurs facing a three-point deficit with 1.7 seconds left, coach Gregg Popovich turned to Neal. Popovich drew up a play to get Neal the ball at the top of the key and find space for a shot.
"I think it was a very good call by Pop," Ginobili said. "It was the kind of play that's designed for him to take a shot like that because he's the one with the quickest release."
6. Mr. President, Kelowna's finest offensive lineman would like a picture:
With the NFL draft beginning today projections are that Danny Wadkins, the 26-year-old former firefighter from Kelowna BC will be taken late in the first round. So unusual is his story -- expertly told by the Globe's Al Maki here -- that it even caught the attention of a former US president: Danny Watkins has met with Bengals and Bears, Chargers and Steelers, Rams and Ravens. He's talked to head scouts, player personnel directors, general managers and even a president.
Not the president of an NFL team, mind you, but a guy who used to reside in Washington and work out of the Oval Office. It turns out former U.S. president George W. Bush is not only a Baylor University football fan; he's keenly aware of Watkins's rise from Kelowna fire fighter to potential first-round pick in Thursday's NFL draft.
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