Kevin Durant's trade request was the sort of "test" the Brooklyn Nets needed to bond and get better, according to Kyrie Irving.

The Nets will begin their 2022-23 season on Wednesday against the New Orleans Pelicans after a topsy-turvy offseason.

Both Durant and Irving are set to be in the Brooklyn line-up, despite the pair appearing to be on their way out when the 2014 MVP asked for a trade.

A deal with the Nets proved difficult to do, as Durant has four years remaining on his contract, meaning the team asked for a huge price in talks.

It was then reported Durant had returned to the Nets but promised to stay only if head coach Steve Nash and general manager Sean Marks were replaced.

Eventually, a statement from Marks said Durant had "agreed to move forward with our partnership" regardless.

That might not seem ideal preparation for the season, but Irving suggested the saga had actually brought the Nets closer.

"When Kev made that request, I feel like we got better," he told Stadium. "Afterwards, not initially. Now, where we are now, I feel like we can honestly say we got better.

"We know the principles that are needed for success, but without going through some tests in the summer time or during the season, we wouldn't be able to be as close and bonded as we are now."

Irving added: "[Durant] is one of the greatest to ever do it, and he wants his chance to win. Give him his request.

"But other than that, I think he believes not only in me but in himself."

Sussex seamer Tymal Mills has been called up by England for the T20 World Cup following confirmation Reece Topley will miss the tournament through injury.

The Surrey bowler had been a doubt for the opener with Afghanistan on Saturday, before reports emerged this week he could pull out entirely.

Now, it has been confirmed he will fly home following a scan in Perth on Tuesday that revealed more serious ligament damage in his left ankle than initially feared.

It opens the door for Mills, a member of the England squad at last year’s T20 World Cup, to return to the fold after having only previously made the reserve cut.

He is handed the nod ahead of fellow understudy Richard Gleeson, with his left-arm approach a nearer direct match for the departing Topley.

Lancashire's Luke Wood meanwhile will now travel to Australia to join England as a travelling reserve following Mills' promotion to the full squad.

Xavi knows he must deliver success at Barcelona to keep his job but insists: "I'm not going to hide."

The Blaugrana have endured a miserable week, drawing 3-3 with Inter in the Champions League and then losing 3-1 at Real Madrid in the Clasico.

Barca are now relying on favours to advance in Europe and have been knocked off top spot in LaLiga.

Still, coach Xavi is not changing his outlook, reiterating on Wednesday "the goal is to win titles".

That is the expectation within the club, and Xavi knows the consequences for failure – although he was amused by the number of messages he received after Sunday's result.

"I think we've made a team to win titles," he said ahead of Thursday's game against Villarreal.

"I am excited, people give me encouragement. I have a mobile with so many messages that it seems like a family member has died.

"The transition was in the last half season. If we don't succeed, as the president said, there will be consequences, especially for me.

"I'm here to solve problems, and if we don't win, another coach will come. I'm not going to hide."

Asked when he might lose his job, Xavi replied: "Anytime, tomorrow. On the street, people raise their fists at me. But I am positive.

"We have lost at Madrid, and we can be knocked out in Europe. Well, I will keep fighting."

There was at least success on an individual level on Monday, as Gavi scooped the Kopa Trophy, Robert Lewandowski the Muller Trophy and Alexia Putellas the Ballon d'Or Feminin.

But Xavi wants to build on those "exciting" triumphs by repeating them as a team.

"For me, [Gavi's] award is more than deserved," the coach said. "I take this opportunity to congratulate Alexia and Robert Lewandowski.

"These awards mean that Barca is more alive than ever. It's exciting to see our players win individual prizes. Now the collective prizes are missing."

Reece Topley is set to be ruled out of the T20 World Cup, which would leave England without one of their leading bowlers in the shortest format.

The 28-year-old was originally listed as an injury doubt for England's first game of the competition against Afghanistan on Saturday.

But according to widespread reports, an assessment of his ankle injury has revealed a more serious problem than initially hoped, with Topley found to have sustained ligament damage.

Left-arm paceman Topley rolled his ankle during a fielding drill ahead of Monday's warm-up win over Pakistan at the Gabba.

The blow for Topley comes after he made an impressive return to the international stage following fears his career could be over due to back injuries.

He played in all three of England's matches in the recent T20I series win over Australia, having featured in four of the seven games in the 4-3 victory in Pakistan.

With 17 wickets, he is the team's leading wicket taker in T20Is in 2022, and his bowling at the end of the innings has been particularly impressive.

England cannot confirm the news until the ICC has ratified Topley's replacement, with fellow left-armer Tymal Mills and right-arm seamer Richard Gleeson among the reserves who have travelled with England.

Jos Buttler's side will go into their Group 1 opener as strong favourites to defeat Afghanistan at Perth Stadium.

England will face a qualifier in their second World Cup match next Wednesday, then take on hosts Australia two days later.

An inspired spell of pace bowling from Alzarri Joseph jumpstarted a floundering ICC Men's T20 World Cup campaign for the West Indies who registered a crucial 31-run win over Zimbabwe on Wednesday.

Joseph ended the match with impressive figures of 4 for 16, but more than anything the innings will be remembered for the bowler's crucial breakthroughs when the Caribbean team’s tournament seemed destined to unravel.

Chasing a somewhat below-par total of 157, a surging Zimbabwe hammered 29 off the first two overs from the opening tandem of Kyle Mayers and Akeal Hosein.  Joseph, however, struck crucially to remove Wessely Madhevere for 9 to dent Zimbabwean invulnerability and return some hope to his team, who took the initiative and battled back into the game.

Joseph’s effort was well backed up by former West Indies captain Jason Holder who claimed 3 for 12 and played a key role in ensuring the plucky African unit was restricted to 122.

In their turn at the crease, the West Indies looked set for a big score, at one point,  cruising at 90 for 3, at the start of the 12th over, with a set Johnson Charles at the crease.  Once again, however, the team was, however, bogged down by spin and Sikandar Raza wove a magical web to end with 3 for 19 after curtailing the Windies' momentum.  At the back end of the innings, though, Rovman Powell and Hosein combined for a crucial 49 from 35 to give the Windies innings a much-needed lift.  Charles had earlier given the team a strong start at the top of the innings with a purposeful 45 from 36.

Scores:

West Indies 157/7 (20)

Johnson Charles 45 (36)

Rovman Powell 28 (21)

Akeal Hosein 23* (18)

Sinkadar Razza 3 /19 (4), Blessing Muzarabani 2/38 (4)

Zimbabwe 122 (18.2)

Luke Jongwe 29 (22)

Wesley Madhevere 27 (19)

Ryan Burl 17 (19)

Alzarri Joseph 4/16 (4) Jason Holder 3/12 (3.2)

 

West Indies recovered from their shock defeat to Scotland by defeating Zimbabwe in their second T20 World Cup match.

The Windies were stunned on Monday but atoned for that loss by claiming a 31-run win over Zimbabwe at the Bellerive Oval in Hobart.

A better team than Zimbabwe might have punished West Indies for another unconvincing batting display, with Nicholas Pooran's side only able to reach 153-7 from their 20 overs. Johnson Charles (45) was their best performer.

Sikandar Raza was excellent in Zimbabwe's opening win over Ireland and he delivered with the ball against the Windies on Wednesday, taking 3-19 from four overs.

Fortunately for West Indies, their bowlers performed – Jason Holder taking 3-12 and Alzarri Joseph collecting a career-best 4-16 to skittle Zimbabwe for 122.

Each team in Group B is now on two points, with Michael Jones' brilliant 86 from 55 deliveries – a knock that included 10 boundaries – not enough for Scotland as they lost to Ireland by six wickets.

Scotland looked well set to claim a second win and put themselves on the brink of the Super 12s as they amassed 176-5.

Matters seemed bleak for Ireland when none of their opening four batters managed to score more than 20, yet Curtis Campher (72 not out) and George Dockrell (39no) put on an unbeaten partnership of 119. 

Tom Brady is cutting the same frustrated figure he did in his final season with the New England Patriots, but Ryan Fitzpatrick is still not ruling out a Super Bowl run in case "Tom becomes Tom again in the playoffs".

Brady briefly retired in the offseason, only to soon reverse that decision and return to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.

But the legendary quarterback then missed time in the preseason and has struggled so far in the 2022 season, with the Bucs falling to 3-3 with Sunday's shock defeat to the lowly Pittsburgh Steelers.

The Tampa Bay offense that ranked seventh and second in Brady's first two years with the team is now down in 21st.

The 45-year-old is moving the ball only 6.7 yards per passing attempt. He has only dipped below that mark once since 2002, throwing for 6.6 yards per attempt in 2019 before leaving the Patriots.

Former Bucs QB Fitzpatrick is concerned, although he is not writing off a record-extending eighth Super Bowl success.

"I think I've seen this from him before," Fitzpatrick told The Bill Simmons Podcast on The Ringer.

"His last year in New England, it was another example of a year where there was so much visible frustration from him.

"He was exasperated all the time by his team-mates and play-calling, and you could visibly see him upset more than usual on the field and the sideline. That's what this year feels like a little bit.

"That being said, I've played for Todd Bowles in New York. First of all, his defensive scheme is great, it's tough to go against, he's very aggressive. That trickles down to the team.

"I think they won some games early because of the defense, and they haven't performed so well of late.

"I still see the Bucs as a team that is going to sleepwalk their way to 10-7, make the playoffs, and then hopefully it all comes together because maybe then Tom becomes Tom again in the playoffs. That's just what this season feels like right now, for me."

Brady is in his 23rd season in the NFL, and Fitzpatrick has been in awe of his focus up to this point.

"That's always been the amazing thing about him when I watch him," he added. "Even though it's been so long, he's so locked in all the time.

"Whether it's been an inferior opponent or a big game on Sunday, Monday night, Thursday night, he was always so locked in.

"I'm just missing that a little bit when I watch him this year."

Erik ten Hag is not concerning himself about contract talks with key Manchester United players including Cristiano Ronaldo and is instead focused on performances on the pitch.

United have a host of players out of contract at the end of the season, although some have options in their existing deals for a further season.

Ronaldo is one of those, along with David de Gea and Marcus Rashford, but Diogo Dalot – who has started all nine Premier League matches at right-back this season – could be free to leave.

Those situations will need addressing, but Ten Hag is happy to park them for now.

"At this moment we only think about performing," the manager said. "We have a lot of games to go, so I don't want to get that interfered by talks.

"We have to focus on football and performances, not on negotiating."

The future of De Gea, like that of Ronaldo, has regularly been the subject of speculation, but he remains United's first choice.

Neither Martin Dubravka nor Tom Heaton have provided a genuine threat to De Gea this season, although Dean Henderson is only out on loan.

Ten Hag added: "We didn't make a decision on him, but what I can say is that I am really happy with David de Gea.

"His first two performances of the season were not his best, but after he brings us a lot for the defensive department, he gives stability and as a person I like him.

"But first we go to the winter, and then we will talk about how to deal with the situations."

Jurgen Klopp has insisted his comments about Manchester City's ownership were not in any way xenophobic. 

Last week, ahead of Liverpool's meeting with the reigning Premier League champions at Anfield – which finished 1-0 to the Reds – Klopp claimed his side were unable to compete with City due to the financial might of their owners, the Abu Dhabi United Group, which bought the club in 2008.

City have gone from Premier League also-rans to a dominant force in English football, having won the title six times since 2012.

Indeed, four of the last five Premier League titles have gone City's way, with Liverpool pushing them hard in two of those seasons as well as winning the top flight themselves in 2020.

Klopp said: "There are three clubs in world football who can do what they want financially."

This was thought to be aimed at City, Paris Saint-Germain – owned by Qatar Sports Investments – and Newcastle United, who are majority owned by Saudi Arabia's Public Investment Fund.

When it was put to Klopp in a press conference that his comments were seen by some as xenophobic, the Liverpool manager replied: "I know myself. And you cannot hit with something which is miles away from my personality.

"If I was – I cannot remember the word – like this I would hate it. I would hate myself for being like this.

"I have said a lot of times things that were a little bit open for misunderstanding. I know that.

"It was not intentional, just sometimes you say things and you think, 'Oh my God, it can be interpreted like this', but this is not one of these moments. Absolutely.

"It started with a question [about how to compete with City] and I answered it and all the rest was made of it.

"I know what I thought and put it in perspective and said how much I respect what they are doing, and it was still not right for some."

It has been reported City's hierarchy believe Klopp's pre-match comments increased tensions ahead of Sunday's game on Merseyside, during which visiting fans sang chants referencing stadium disasters – later condemned by Liverpool – while Pep Guardiola claimed to have had coins thrown at him as his club said he was targeted by missiles from home supporters.

Klopp was sent off after furiously confronting an official and is now facing a Football Association charge for his behaviour on the touchline.

Steve Kerr was "thrilled" with the Golden State Warriors' opening night win over the Los Angeles Lakers as the coach recognised his defending champions are "not where we need to be".

The Warriors received their championship rings and unveiled their seventh banner on Tuesday following last season's NBA Finals defeat of the Boston Celtics.

A night of celebration was then capped with a first victory of the new campaign as the Warriors defeated the Lakers 123-109.

With so much else going on outside the game, coach Kerr was wary of the potential for an upset.

But even with the Warriors still looking to improve over the course of the season, he said, they "took care of business".

"I'm thrilled with the win," said Kerr. "Ring night is never an easy game, and the first game of the season is usually filled with some nerves early on.

"We're not where we need to be, but we took care of business."

Reigning Finals MVP Stephen Curry led the Warriors in scoring 33 points and was already thinking of a title defence.

"After tonight, the journey really begins in terms of everybody's best shot," Curry said. "You've got some really talented teams that are going to be gunning for you. You have to be ready for it all.

"It's going to be a really long journey, but this is why we play. We're competitive. This is why we work as hard as we do. We can't just sit there and look at that ring."

LeBron James revealed the Los Angeles Lakers performed as he expected on opening night despite a disappointing defeat to the Golden State Warriors.

Tuesday's game was always likely to be a tough one for the Lakers, who missed the playoffs last season as the Warriors won the title.

And so it proved, with a dominant third quarter seeing the Warriors ease to a 123-109 victory.

James, entering his 20th season, led the Lakers with 31 points but acknowledged the team will need time at the start of the year working with new coach Darvin Ham.

"For us, I think we are what I expected from tonight," James said.

"Some great moments, some not so good moments, and that just comes from a team that's coming together for the first time. There's a lot of new pieces, a whole new system, coaching staff.

"But I loved the way we competed. Obviously with the turnovers, we're not going to win ball games like that, but once we start getting on the same page and know where guys are going to be, start going through in our system how we want to perform, that will get better with time.

"It was what I expected. We had some good times, and some other times were not as good as we would like."

The Lakers had 21 turnovers to the Warriors' 18, including 12 from their 'big three' of James, Anthony Davis and Russell Westbrook, which the four-time MVP said was "not acceptable".

That was not the only area in which the Lakers struggled, however, as they were a miserable 25.0 per cent from three-point range, making just 10 of 40 attempts.

The Lakers ranked 22nd in the NBA in three-point shooting last year (34.7 per cent), and James suggested the Warriors – 35.6 per cent on Tuesday and 36.4 per cent in 2021-22 – were letting their opponents shoot.

"We're getting great looks, but it also could be teams giving us great looks," James said.

"To be completely honest, we're not a team that's constructed of great shooting. That's just the truth of the matter. It's not like we're sitting here with a lot of lasers on our team.

"That doesn't deter us from trying to get great shots, and when we get those opportunities, we take them. But we're not sitting here with a load of 40-plus career three-point shooting guys."

The Lakers have still not won on opening night since 2016.

Marcus Smart credited his own "maturity" for not escalating an altercation with Joel Embiid in which he claimed the Philadelphia 76ers center tried to break his arm.

Reigning Defensive Player of the Year Smart has had a long-standing rivalry with Embiid.

The Boston Celtics guard has been ejected eight times in his NBA career, with one of those coming against the 76ers in 2019 after he shoved Embiid to the ground when his back was turned.

Smart stayed on the court on Tuesday, although he was whistled for a technical foul – the third against the 76ers of his career – following another tussle with Embiid in a 126-117 Celtics win.

The players' arms became tangled as they battled for a rebound, before Smart angrily grabbed the ankle of Embiid, who dropped to the floor.

Embiid, who has only once been ejected from an NBA game and never against the Celtics, avoided punishment.

"I went for a rebound. Basketball play," Smart said. "I went for the steal. Basketball play. The referee blows his whistle, calls a foul.

"I stop playing, my arm's still stuck in there, and [Embiid] tries to break it. And then I'm the only one who gets a tech. Everybody saw it."

He added: "I don't have to keep talking about it. If I did that, I'm probably ejected, suspended three games, four games, fined.

"But the fact that I was the only one that got something out of that is beyond me. Especially as defending DPOY, and that's how he gets treated. It's tough.

"It's maturity. I could have cracked his head open, but I didn't. And that's the maturity we have.

"So, we move on from it. It is what it is, and we control what we can control."

"Remember the name... Wayne Rooney!"

Broadcaster Clive Tyldesley commentated on plenty of famous moments down the years, and his excitement in this instance was justified.

Five days short of his 17th birthday, Wayne Rooney came on as a late substitute for Everton at Goodison Park. The Toffees were drawing 1-1 with Arsenal, the reigning Premier League champions.

Everton had only beaten Arsenal once in their previous 12 meetings, but on October 19, 2002, Rooney stepped up to deliver a sensational stoppage-time winner and kick-start a career that saw him rise to the very top.

Talk of the terraces

October 19, 2002 might have been the day Rooney cemented himself at the forefront of English football, but the boy wonder from the Liverpool suburb of Croxteth had been the talk of the Blue side of the city for some time.

"The first time I ever played with Wayne, he was 14 years old," recalled Kevin Campbell, speaking on Everton fan channel The Blue Room in 2021, after Rooney had announced his retirement at the age of 35.

"He's had a remarkable career, he’s been a fantastic footballer for England, broken records. He's made his mark. I'm pleased, and I'm proud that I played with him and captained him."

Nobody perhaps quite foresaw what a success Rooney would go on to become, of course. He is, after all, Manchester United and England's record goalscorer – albeit Harry Kane could well surpass Rooney's 53 international strikes at the upcoming World Cup. However, there was a definite buzz around Rooney as he came through the ranks of Everton's academy.

"We knew where he was destined for," said Campbell. "We heard that there's a young lad coming through who's good, Wayne Rooney.

"When I ended up playing with him [in the reserves], and someone said 'this is Wayne Rooney', I was like 'the kit's too big for him!' But wow, he left an impression on me, and this was two years prior. I went back to the lads and said 'there's this kid Rooney coming up, he should be with us now'. As soon as he finished school, he came in, one training session and the lads were... jaws on the floor. Incredible talent."

Rooney had made the bench towards the end of the 2001-02 season, and while it is his strike against Arsenal that sticks in the mind, he first scored earlier in October, in a 3-0 defeat of Wrexham in the League Cup, netting twice.

Eighteen days later, his time on the big stage arrived.

A bolt from the blue

Rooney's full debut in the Premier League (then known as the Premiership, of course) actually came on the opening day of the 2002-03 season, David Moyes having named him in the side to face Tottenham at Goodison Park. The match ended 2-2, with Rooney assisting one of Everton's goals.

Further league starts followed against Birmingham City and Aston Villa before his crowning moment as the competition's youngest goalscorer came.

Freddie Ljungberg had put Arsenal ahead early on, but Tomasz Radzinski lashed in an equaliser 14 minutes later.

David Seaman – days after conceding to Macedonia's Artim Sakiri direct from a corner in his final England appearance – twice denied Thomas Gravesen while Everton rode their luck at the other end.

It was Gravesen's prod forward in the closing moments that was then brought down effortlessly by Rooney.

With deft control beyond his years, Rooney stopped the looping ball dead over his shoulder, cushioning it with his right foot to twist away from two backpedalling Arsenal defenders.

Rooney's first touch elicited a sense of audible awe from the home faithful. His second allowed him to assess his options. By the time he took his third – this one slightly heavier to give him a run-up – his mind had been made up as he prepared to swing his right boot from 25 yards out, just to the left of centre.

Moments later, Seaman was on his knees, the back of the net was rippling, and the ball was bouncing back down to earth, having clipped in off the underside of the crossbar on its way in. Rooney was wheeling away, and commentator Tyldesley was about to say those famous words.

Goodison Park was in delirium, shaking to the wooden rafters. The Grand Old Lady rocking for English football's new favourite son.

Remember the goal, not just the name

Of course, Rooney scored so many goals, it is hard to pick his very best – one from inside his own half for United against West Ham (he also scored a similar goal against the Hammers in his second spell at Everton) comes to mind, as does a sublime solo goal against Leeds United not long after his winner against Arsenal, his outrageous volley against Newcastle United after an angry tirade at the referee and that stunning bicycle kick in a 2011 Manchester derby.

But does his first Premier League goal get the recognition it deserves?

The poise, vision and control Rooney displayed with his first two touches were a showcase of the natural talent he possessed. Not long out of school, Rooney's skill wouldn't have looked out of place had he been playing in the opposite colours that day for a team who would go on to become 'The Invincibles' the following season.

There is also the arrogance and confidence to look up and, with Arsenal's formidable defence – made up of Lauren, Sol Campbell, Pascal Cygan and Ashley Cole in front of England's number one goalkeeper of 15 years – ahead of him, choose to go for goal.

The odds were clearly stacked against Rooney. The expected goals data is not available for this goal, but you would hazard a guess it would be of low value.

Shortly afterwards, with Everton looking to see the game out, Rooney actually very nearly bettered his breakthrough goal, chipping Seaman from close to 30 yards, again showing the exuberance of youth mixed with world-class quality.

The Toffees used that victory as a springboard, the first in a sequence of six straight wins – all by a one-goal margin, with Rooney netting that sole strike at Leeds. The teenager did not start another top-flight game until December, however, as Moyes attempted to manage expectations and keep the pressure off a boy, as Campbell said, destined for greatness.

Rooney's name will be remembered among the very best, he made sure of that. But the goal that started it all deserves to be remembered as one of his best, too.

The Boston Celtics left a tumultuous offseason behind them on opening night to deliver a first win for interim head coach Joe Mazzulla, as Jayson Tatum said: "We're all in this together."

Mazzulla was making his coaching bow against the Philadelphia 76ers on Tuesday having replaced Ime Udoka for this NBA season.

Udoka, who led the Celtics to the NBA Finals in his first year as coach in 2021-22, was suspended by the team for the entire campaign for "violations of team policies" following an "improper" consensual relationship with a female staff member.

Assistant Mazzulla has temporarily stepped up to the top job, but there was no sign of the saga impacting the Celtics' play in their 126-117 victory over the highly fancied 76ers.

Tatum had 35 points and 12 rebounds in 39 minutes, as team-mate Jaylen Brown – reportedly part of trade talks for Kevin Durant earlier this year – also scored 35 points in 39 minutes.

Tatum and Brown became the first pair of team-mates to each score at least 35 points in a season opener since Los Angeles Lakers duo Wilt Chamberlain (35) and Jerry West (39) in 1969-70 – likewise against the 76ers.

Keeping both performing at a high level will be key to Mazzulla's hopes this year.

"He wouldn't have took any of the credit for tonight," Tatum said of Mazzulla. "But the thing that I like about Joe and admire about him is that he's very honest that he doesn't know everything.

"He wants us to help him out as much as he's helping us out. It's like we're in a relationship, and we're all on the same page and trying to accomplish the same thing. We're all in this together."

Mazzulla added: "I'm grateful for the relationship we have. These guys have been through a lot together, and they're great players, so it's just a matter of working together.

"So, I appreciate their trust and buy-in, but they come up with a lot of good stuff as well, and we kind of just figure it out."

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