sports

The first game of the NBA finals was a scorcher. Yes, it was played indoors – but the air conditioning in San Antonio's arena broke down, leaving the host Spurs and the Miami Heat sweating in 90-degree temperatures. The Spurs overcame the heat, and the Heat, 110-95.

Laura Rice/KUT

For the next three days, the streets of downtown Austin will be full of flips – Ninja flips, inward flips and varial kickflips – as dozens of professional skateboarders, BMXers and other athletes descend upon Central Texas for the first ever X Games Austin

Housed in the Austin360 Amphitheater with a large “X” marking the spot, the X Games arena features an ESPN Clubhouse and a video gaming venue along with a full schedule of skateboard and BMX competitions. Musicians including Kanye West and The Flaming Lips will also be in town with the athletes, along with a roster of local acts. (KUT's sister station KUTX is a media sponsor of the X Games, and is hosting its own stage of Austin performers at the fest.)

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The San Antonio Spurs may not have rock star players like LeBron James – they don't have the resources. They might not have the youngest lineup, either (to say the least). And no, they're not flashy.

But the Spurs succeed so often – both on and off the court – they're now considered the top ranked team in the NBA, picked by many to win a fifth championship this year. They must be doing something right.

Jon Shapley for KUT News

The 87th annual Clyde Littlefield Texas Relays returned to the University of Texas late last week. More than 6,000 college and high school athletes from across the country converged at the Mike A. Myers Track and Soccer Stadium from Wednesday through Saturday.

Oh, those boys and their video toys.

Move over, Dallas Cowboys and AT&T Stadium: Texas Motor Speedway in Fort Worth says it has the bigger and better video screen. And it's way bigger than whatever fancy screen you have in your living room.

The speedway on Wednesday night unveiled its giant high-definition video board. TMS says it’s the world’s biggest HD screen at a sporting venue.

Sam Ortega for KUT News

Last May, Jason Collins – a 12-year veteran of the NBA – made history when he penned an editorial in Sport Illustrated revealing he was gay. "I didn't set out to be the first openly gay athlete playing in a major American team sport," he wrote. "But since I am, I'm happy to start the conversation."

The issue of homosexuality in sports has certainly become a topic of discussion, from the politics of the Sochi Olympics to NFL hopeful Michael Sam coming out as gay. But many athletes feel there is still a long way to go before gay players are fully welcomed into sports.

Speedskater Jordan Malone waves the Texas flag in Sochi. (Via Instagram)

Four Texans represented Team USA at the 2014 Winter Olympics in Sochi, but only one athlete came back with a medal.

Denton native Jordan Malone clinched the silver in the speed skating 5,000-meter relay along with teammates, J.R. Celski, Chris Creveling and Eduardo Alvarez on Friday. The team finished behind Russia. 

youtube.com/TheNewYorkTimes

Last night, former Missouri Tigers defensive end Michael Sam announced he is gay. Sam came out during an interview with The New York Times. If a team drafts Sam this spring and signs him, he will become the first openly gay active player in National Football League history.

There's a Texas connection to this national story: Sam is a native Texan, who attended Hitchcock High School in Galveston County. Sam earned first-team All-District honors as a senior in 2008, as both a defensive end and an offensive lineman.

NBA Development League

Not even four years ago, Josh Howard was making more than $10 million a year playing in the NBA. Today, he plays for the Austin Toros in the NBA's Development League (or "D-League"), with a salary of $25,000.  

After a string of debilitating injuries, including some freak on-the-court accidents, doctors gave him a grim prognosis for recovery last year.  The 33-year-old faced the very real prospect of retiring far earlier than he'd planned.  

UT Athletics Dept.

Texas Longhorns athletics is best known for football. But spiking a volleyball is what it's best at.

The Longhorns women’s volleyball team is hosting No. 1 ranked Penn State and No. 2 Stanford this weekend, as they set out to defend their national title. Longhorns head coach Jerritt Elliott sees this weekend’s matchups, which also feature eighth-ranked Florida, as an opportunity to garner local attention.

Hundreds of samples taken from riders in this summer's Tour de France found no signs of doping, officials say. The epic race, which was put on for the hundredth time in 2013, has been at the center of recent doping scandals.

Anti-doping officials say they took 202 blood and urine samples before the race began, and an additional 419 during competition. Nearly 200 of those samples were taken with the goal of creating a "biological passport" for riders, to establish a baseline of their body chemistry.

Jorge Sanhueza-Lyon, KUT News

This August, the World Dwarf Games celebrates its 20th anniversary. Every four years, athletes from around the world compete for international recognition at the games.

Sam Bremen is representing Austin.

UT Athletics

Tiger Woods never finished in the top 10 of a PGA tour event as a teenager. But former Texas Longhorn Jordan Spieth has accomplished that feat six times – all before the age of 20.

Yesterday, Spieth became the first teenager in 82 years to win a PGA tour event by claiming the John Deere Classic.

As the NBA Finals shift to Miami for game 6 and possibly game 7, the extended series means that money generated by the games will continue to boost the league, broadcast carriers and the host cities.

Based on numbers from the last two NBA Finals in host cities Dallas, Oklahoma City and Miami, the Greater San Antonio Chamber of Commerce estimated an economic impact of about $4 million per game.

We'll let LeBron James do the talking. He said about the sixth game of the NBA finals between the Heat and Spurs:

"It's by far the best game I've ever been a part of."

And it certainly was a stunner: The Heat's Ray Allen hit a three-pointer with just 5.2 seconds on the clock to tie the game, denying the Spurs their fifth NBA title. The game went into overtime and remained airtight, but eventually the Heat prevailed 103 to 100.

ESPN has highlights:

Something pretty magical happened at last night's NBA finals: Sebastien de la Cruz, the 11-year-old who sang the national anthem on Tuesday, was back on Thursday to prove his critics wrong.

"I didn't set out to be the first openly gay athlete playing in a major American team sport," National Basketball Association center Jason Collins writes in a Sports Illustrated essay posted Monday, "but since I am, I'm happy to start the conversation."

With that, the 34-year-old veteran of 12 NBA seasons and six pro teams becomes the first active player in the four major American team sports to come out.

University of Texas at Austin

Longhorn basketball star Myck Kabongo is leaving school to join the NBA, the University announced today, making himself eligible for the 2013 draft.

The point guard played in the team's last 11 games, after serving an NCAA suspension for the season's first 23 games. According to the NCAA, Kabongo broke the rules by accepting a trip to Cleveland that he didn't pay for, and then lied about it twice while speaking with investigators. 

The Dallas Cowboys have agreed to a 6-year deal worth $108 million with quarterback Tony Romo.

The team's website reports the deal has not been signed, but agreed-to terms stipulate that $55 million of that is guaranteed.

Dallascowboys.com reports:

Filipa Rodrigues for KUT News

With the 86th annual Clyde Littlefield Texas Relays underway, thousands of visitors will enjoy Austin throughout the weekend.

The Relays feature high school and college track and field athletes from across the country. The Texas Relays will conclude Saturday at the Mike A. Myers Track and Soccer Stadium on the UT Campus.

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