PLAYER OF THE DAY

Lionel Messi (Soccer) is a star forward for Barcelona and one of the best soccer players of all time. On Wednesday, the 31-year-old scored his 600th career goal in spectacular fashion, firing an absolute stunner from 25 feet away on a free kick. This capped off a 3-0 win over Liverpool in the first leg of their Champions League semifinal. The goal was Messi‘s second of the day, and it came exactly 14 years after his first professional career goal. #OnThisDayPart2

#ICYMI

WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW

Ayton was Ca$hin’ in College
Who’s doing what now?
(NCAA) The FBI’s case into corruption in college basketball took another turn Wednesday, when prosecutors played a recording suggesting that former Arizona men’s basketball star DeAndre Ayton was getting paid $10,000 per month by head coach Sean Miller. $10K. Per month. In college.

It doesn’t prove anything, per se, but it’s been an “open secret” for years that college basketball players are getting paid under the table — such an open secret, in fact, that the FBI has been investigating these bribes for years and many of the findings don’t even turn heads among sports fans anymore.

A trial is beginning this month that could lead to more telling details, like the payments to Ayton (the No. 1 pick in last year’s NBA draft), so it’s news that’s worth keeping an eye out for even if you’re late to the party.

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Blazers bully Nuggets in Game 2 
It’s called payback
(NBA) 
Broken noses, bloody elbows and a whole lotta tension highlighted Wednesday night’s lone NBA playoff game. The Portland Trail Blazers earned a hard-fought (literally)97-90 win over the Denver Nuggets to even up their series at 1-1.

Early on, Nuggets swingman Torrey Craig took a nasty elbow to the face, resulting in a broken nose and a lot of blood. Ew. Minutes later, forward Maurice (Moe) Harkless suffered a sprained ankle for Portland. Ok, fine. In the final quarter, Portland center Enes Kanter was pushed by Denver’s Nikola Jokic and plowed right into Craig (the guy with the broken nose), and things almost got chippy. Both sides drew technical fouls, though (un?)fortunately no punches were thrown. Yikes.

Remember Damian Lillard, the guy who basically said “I got this” and drained a 37 feet jumper to win their first round series just over a week ago? Well last night, he had his worst game yet. The Blazers did just fine, though, in their bounce-back effort to tie the series before heading back to Portland.

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Portland celebrates before heading home to #RipCity

Will the Jerks need a broom?
Speaking of bullies…
(NHL) 
The Jerks from Raleigh did some damage to Barry Trotz’s old team, the Washington Capitals, in the first round of the playoffs. They moved on to harass his current team, the New York Islanders in the second round. The win last night put the Carolina Hurricanes up 3-0 in the series, only one (home-ice) win away from sweeping the Isles. The ‘Canes have been putting on a show for their home fans, but with the way things are playing out in this years’ playoffs, anything can happen. Only four teams have come back and won after a 0-3 series deficit. 

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“Mr. Game 7” with another game-winner

Kentucky Derby favorite scratched days before race
It’s ok, it’s just a party anyway… right?
(Horse racing)
Just one day after Omaha Beach was pegged as the early favorite to win this Saturday’s Kentucky Derby, the 3-year-old colt withdrew from competition on Wednesday. He was diagnosed with an entrapped epiglottis, a breathing issue that will require surgery but is generally not career-threatening. Breathe easy, Omaha Beach.

If that’s not news enough, the horse was reportedly sold for $22 million on Tuesday the day before news broke of the breathing issue. Was it a fraudulent sale of a wheezy horse? Or is the buyer getting a bargain on a championship colt with a cough? We deserve answers.  But for now, we’ll enjoy a wide-open Kentucky Derby field without the clear-cut favorite (don’t worry, bourbon will still be available nationwide).

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ON THIS DAY

In 2015, Floyd Mayweather defeated Manny Pacquiao in one of the most highly anticipated boxing matches in history. The two were the biggest names in boxing at the time and had discussed a potential bout for years.

Finally, when they met in the ring, Mayweather danced around Pacquiao for 12 rounds in a lackluster victory that left everyone underwhelmed. Well, almost everyone. The fight brought in $500 million in revenue with 4.4 million households watching, and each boxer reportedly netted over $200 million. Works for them…

The idea of a rematch has been floating around since the day after the fight, though Mayweather would have to decide to unretire. That would mean he would risk his 50-0 undefeated record, which he doesn’t seem inclined to do. Go out on top and stay on top is the motto here. 

The real ‘Big Dance’?

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