John Beilein has resigned as head coach of the Cleveland Cavaliers after a short stint at the helm.

Beilein joined the Cavaliers from college team Michigan on a multi-year contract in May, but stepped down on Wednesday.

The 67-year-old – who oversaw an Eastern Conference-worst 14-40 record this season, only behind the Golden State Warriors (12-43) in the entire league – will be reassigned to a different role in Cleveland, where J.B. Bickerstaff will take over from Beilein.

"Over these last nine months, I have given my all to this organisation, but after much reflection, I have decided that it is best that I step back and resign from my position as head coach of the Cleveland Cavaliers and assist the organisation in a different capacity," said Beilein, who spent the previous 12 seasons as coach of Michigan.

"I am very grateful to Dan Gilbert, Koby Altman and the entire Cavaliers organisation for the opportunity they have provided me.

"This was a very difficult decision for me, but I want to be clear – this was my decision to step down and I truly appreciate the understanding and support of the front office during this time. I find losing very challenging and this year has taken a much bigger toll on me than I expected.

"I grew concerned for the consequences this toll could potentially take on my own health and my family's well-being down the road. I was not certain I could be at my best for the remainder of the season and in the future. That would not be fair to the players, coaches and support staff.

"I also would not be doing this now, during the season, if J.B. Bickerstaff was not ready and capable to assume the head coaching role immediately and continue the rebuilding process that we have started.

"For 45 years and more than 1,300 games, my journey as a basketball coach has been a dream come true. I have never been afraid of a challenge and have given each one my all – sometimes to the detriment of my own well-being. I want to thank my wife, Kathleen, for being by my side and I appreciate the outpouring of support from family, friends, and colleagues during this time. I look forward to being able to spend more time with my wife, kids and grandchildren over the coming months."

Cavs general manager Koby Altman added: "John Beilein is one of the more accomplished basketball coaches in the history of our game and while it's unexpected, we understand and respect his decision to step down as head coach of the Cavaliers.

"I was excited about the development of our young players, who have all shown growth and maturity under coach Beilein. We are thankful for the time he spent as head coach with the Cavaliers and are looking forward to his continued contribution.

"The NBA is a unique business that sometimes requires aggressive risk-taking on important long-term decisions to move a franchise forward and ultimately compete for championships. I would like to thank the incredible fans of the Cavaliers for their support in both good and challenging times. Building a strong culture will continue to be the top priority here at the Cavaliers."

Stephen Curry was back at practice with the Golden State Warriors on Tuesday, with Steve Kerr admitting the two-time MVP got the Tom Brady treatment from his team-mates.

Warriors guard Curry has been sidelined since October having twice undergone surgery on a broken hand, but he recently said he remained on course to return next month.

Golden State were boosted by Curry's involvement in their defensive drills and shooting practice in their first practice since the All-Star break. 

However, given Curry's status as the team's star and the nature of his injury, Kerr joked he ordered players not to make contact with the 31-year-old as if he were a red-shirted NFL quarterback in practice.

"We're calling him Tom Brady today. Don't touch Steph," Kerr told reporters, referencing the six-time Super Bowl champion.

"I think it was more for fun than anything. He took part in everything apart other than our scrimmage. Our scrimmage at the end, he didn't do that.

"He's looking great. He cannot be touched!"

Reports suggest Curry's return could come on March 1 against the Washington Wizards, with the Warriors having five games on the schedule before then.

Kerr insisted there was no definitive timeframe for Curry's comeback but added he was impressed by his conditioning.

"I don't know when he's going to be allowed to scrimmage. It's not this week or anything," he said.

"He looks really good. He's gaining strength, gaining confidence.

"He's been putting himself through some brutal workouts so his conditioning is about as good as it can possibly be because of somebody who hasn't been able to scrimmage because of how he goes about his work."

The Warriors have made the NBA Finals in each of the previous five years but this season they are bottom of the Western Conference with an NBA-worst 12-43 record.

As well as Curry's lengthy absence, they have had to content with five-time All-Star Klay Thompson being sidelined by a torn anterior cruciate ligament that is expected to keep him out for the entire campaign.

"It's easy to look and say, 'In a couple of weeks, Steph's going to be ready to play', but Klay's a long way from that," Kerr added.

"I don't even entertain any thoughts of Klay playing this year."

Brooklyn Nets guard Kyrie Irving is set to see another specialist to assess his shoulder injury.

Irving has only played 20 games for the Nets (25-28) this season, missing a large part of the campaign due to his shoulder.

Nets head coach Kenny Atkinson revealed on Tuesday that Irving would see another specialist this week.

"The shoulder is a tough thing," he said, via ESPN.

"I just think it was an on and off thing where it's bothering you. Some days you feel good, some days you don't feel good.

"But I think it got to the point it was, 'Hey, let's see another specialist'."

Irving is averaging 27.4 points, 6.4 assists and 5.2 rebounds for the Nets this season.

Brooklyn are seventh in the Eastern Conference and face the Philadelphia 76ers (34-21) on Thursday.

LeBron James called out MLB commissioner Rob Manfred over the handling of the sign-stealing scandal involving the Houston Astros.

The Astros were found to have stolen signs of opposition teams en route to winning the 2017 World Series, as well as for part of the 2018 campaign.

General manager Jeff Luhnow and manager A.J. Hinch were subsequently fired by the team in January after they were initially suspended for the entire 2020 season by the league, while the Boston Red Sox dismissed manager Alex Cora.

The fallout from the scandal continued on Tuesday after New York Yankees star Aaron Judge labelled the punishment "weak" and NBA icon James weighed in via social media.

James – a three-time NBA champion and four-time MVP – tweeted: "Listen I know I don't play baseball but I am in Sports and I know if someone cheated me out of winning the title and I found out about it I would be f****** irate! I mean like uncontrollable about what I would/could do!

"Listen here baseball commissioner listen to your players speaking today about how disgusted, mad, hurt, broken, etc etc about this.

"Literally the ball is in your court [or should I say field] and you need to fix this for the sake of Sports! #JustMyThoughtsComingFromASportsJunkieRegardlessMyOwnSportIPlay."

James' comments came after he announced his first children's book will be released in August.

The 35-year-old – who is also set to feature in the next 'Space Jam' movie – has teamed up with HarperCollins Publishers for the picture book titled 'I Promise'.

"Books have the ability to teach, inspire, and bring people together. That's why these books, and the opportunity to get children and parents reading together, mean so much to me," James said.

"Most importantly, we wanted to make sure these stories are ones that every single kid can see themselves in."

Dirk Nowitzki feels Philadelphia 76ers guard Ben Simmons has the potential to develop into one of the NBA's best players.

Australian Simmons, the first overall pick in the 2016 NBA Draft, appeared in his second straight All-Star Game in Chicago at the Weekend.

The 23-year-old is averaging 16.9 points, 8.3 assists and 7.9 rebounds per game for the 76ers, while he also leads the NBA in steals.

Earlier in this campaign he drained his first regular-season three-pointer - with Simmons' shooting from beyond the arc often used as a stick to beat him with - and 2007 NBA MVP Nowitzki believes that is the only facet of his game preventing him from moving into the elite echelon.

"I love Ben. I got to meet him a couple of times. His potential… the sky's the limit," said Nowitzki, who was speaking at the Laureus Awards in Berlin, where he won the Lifetime Achievement prize.

"He's super, super athletic, he's got a great touch. He sees the floor, gets his guys involved. Eventually, I think we all know, he needs to improve his shot.

"If he improves his shot he can be one of the best in the league, best in the game.

"Just right now people are playing off him a little bit and making him shoot.

"He's got the touch, the feel for the game that if he works hard, keeps improving the way he has – he's still young – he's going to be fun to watch for a long, long time."

Nowitzki brought the curtain down on his decorated 21-year NBA career after last season having been named to 14 All-Star Games and also winning the 2011 NBA Finals with the Dallas Mavericks, where he spent his entire career.

Despite Nowitzki's departure, the future looks bright for Dallas thanks to two other Europeans - 20-year-old Slovenian Luka Doncic and 24-year-old Latvian Kristaps Porzingis.

Doncic has already taken on Nowitzki's mantle as Dallas' star and he was named as a starter for the All-Star Game in just his second season.

"Amazing," Nowitzki added of Doncic.

"He was voted a starter at 20 years old. He's been so much fun to watch and hopefully he'll stay in Dallas for his whole career and we'll have a lot of fun watching him, hopefully for a long, long time.

"The way he plays, the way he reads the game, the way he scores – he's a great all-round player. He's super fun to watch.

"They're young still. Luka's only 20, Kristaps is 24. Hopefully those guys can build something and be together in Dallas for a long, long time and play on a high level.

"Of course, eventually they would like to bring a championship to Dallas, that would be amazing. We'll just see how they play off each other and grow together."

On receiving Laureus' Lifetime Achievement Award, Nowitzki added: "Of course it's a great honour to get the award for my lifetime achievement.

"I played more than 20 years in the NBA. I was trying to move the game forward.

"It's nice to feel that you're respected and accepted for what I achieved during my career. For me it's a huge honour. I'm glad to be here."

LeBron James felt Kobe Bryant's presence throughout his team's win over Team Giannis in the NBA All-Star Game on Sunday.

Team LeBron edged Team Giannis 157-155 in Chicago in an entertaining clash as Bryant was honoured.

James said the presence of the Los Angeles Lakers great – who died in a helicopter crash alongside his 13-year-old daughter Gianna and seven others last month – was felt.

"We wouldn't be All-Stars if we weren't competitors," he told a news conference.

"We all compete at the highest level, try to put our respective teams in a position to win every night so guys definitely just had that sense of pride, that sense of competitiveness throughout the season, throughout the All-Star Game, which we had tonight.

"But you could definitely feel Bean's presence just from the start, from every moment, from the fans chanting his name to seeing the numbers every time Giannis' team run on the floor you seen the 24.

"He was definitely here."

Kawhi Leonard claimed the NBA All-Star Game Kobe Bryant MVP Award after contributing 30 points, seven rebounds and four assists for Team LeBron.

Kawhi Leonard dedicated his NBA All-Star Game Kobe Bryant MVP Award to the Los Angeles Lakers great on Sunday.

Leonard's 30 points helped Team LeBron beat Team Giannis 157-155 in Chicago and the Clippers star was named MVP.

The award was renamed in honour of the Lakers great, who died in a helicopter crash alongside his 13-year-old daughter Gianna and seven others last month.

Leonard thanked Bryant, telling NBA on TNT: "It means a lot to me.

"Words can't even explain, just making this the first Kobe Bryant MVP trophy. I want to thank Kobe for everything he done for me, all the long talks, the workouts, thank you.

"This one is for him."

Leonard added: "They did a great job with the format this year. They had us come out playing hard in the fourth quarter and competing for a total points score.

"That's pretty much how we got to competing out there."

Team LeBron defeated Team Giannis 157-155 in the revamped NBA All-Star Game in Chicago on Sunday.

Unlike previous years, every quarter counted in the name of charity at the United Center, where the new format was unveiled for the showpiece event.

Each of the first three quarters started with the score at 0-0 and lasted the standard 12 minutes, with the game clock turned off for the final period and a final target score set.

The cumulative score of the first three quarters was 133-124 in favour of Team Giannis. The final target score was set by taking the leading team's cumulative score and adding 24 – the 24 representing Kobe Bryant's jersey number.

LeBron James and his team earned bragging rights in the 69th edition of the All-Star Game – hometown hero and Los Angeles Lakers star Anthony Davis (20 points) making one of two free throws to beat Giannis Antetokounmpo's side.

While Davis scored the winning point, Kawhi Leonard (30 points) received the All-Star Game Kobe Bryant MVP Award, renamed in honour of the five-time NBA champion.

Bryant, who tragically died in a helicopter crash along with his 13-year-old daughter Gianna and seven others last month, was honoured prior to tip-off.

Magic Johnson led an eight-second moment of silence for Lakers legend Bryant and former commissioner David Stern as both All-Star teams came together to hold hands, before delivering a heartfelt speech.

Team LeBron made a fast start, outscoring Team Giannis 53-41 in the first period before the latter won the second period 51-30.

Neither team could be split in the third, though Team Giannis went into the fourth quarter leading Team LeBron – who rallied to win for the third successive year.

James and Chris Paul finished with 23 points each, while Ben Simmons (17) and James Harden (11) were also in double-digits for Team LeBron.

Team Giannis were led by Antetokounmpo (25 points, 11 rebounds), Joel Embiid (22 points, 10 rebounds), Kemba Walker (23 points) and Rudy Gobert (21 points, 11 rebounds).

LeBron James moved up to second on the all-time list for NBA All-Star Game appearances on Sunday.

James – leading Team LeBron against Team Giannis in Chicago – surpassed Los Angeles Lakers legend Kobe Bryant with his 16th appearance.

Kareem Abdul-Jabbar holds the All-Star record with 18.

Lakers superstar James also eclipsed Bryant for third on the NBA's all-time scoring list last month, a day before the five-time champion's tragic death.

Bryant, 41, and his 13-year-old daughter Gianna were killed in a helicopter crash, along with seven others in Calabasas, California.

Magic Johnson led tributes for Bryant, the Lakers great making a speech at the United Center as the lights went down.

"We'll never see another basketball player quite like Kobe," said Johnson, who led an eight-second moment of silence for Bryant – the number the 2008 MVP wore during the early stages of his illustrious career. "Scoring 81 points in one game. Scoring 60 points in his last game. And then winning five NBA championships.

"But what I'm really proud about when we think about Kobe Bryant, there's millions of people in Los Angeles that don't have a home. Kobe was fighting to get them homes and shelter every single day. He was passionate about that.

"He was also passionate about being a great father, husband, filmmaker. Young man won an Oscar. So we all are hurting. This is a tough time for the whole NBA family."

Lionel Messi and Liverpool are among the front-runners for prizes at the prestigious Laureus World Sports Awards in Berlin on Monday.

Liverpool are up for two gongs after a wonderful year, as they won the 2018-19 Champions League and took a massive leap towards a first top-flight title in 30 years.

Jurgen Klopp's side look set to break a host of records this season, as they have dropped points in just one of their 25 matches and hold a remarkable 22-point lead over defending champions Manchester City in second.

The Reds are in the running for two prizes in the Laureus Sports Awards' 20th anniversary gala – World Team of the Year and Comeback of the Year, the latter on account of their astonishing Champions League semi-final turnaround at the expense of Barcelona.

Among those challenging Liverpool for the former are the United States' Women's football team and the Toronto Raptors, who became the first Canadian franchise win an NBA championship.

A selection of sporting superstars are up for the Sportsman of the Year award, with Barcelona and Argentina icon Lionel Messi among them following his record-breaking sixth Ballon d'Or.

Also in the running is Eliud Kipchoge after the Kenyan became the first athlete to run a marathon in under two hours last October, covering the 26.2 miles in one hour, 59 minutes and 40.2 seconds in Vienna.

Ballon d'Or Feminin winner Megan Rapinoe is among those in the hunt for the Sportswoman of the Year gong, although gymnast Simone Biles also has a compelling case.

The 22-year-old last year won five gold medals at the World Championships to become the most decorated gymnast in the event's history, and has won this award twice before, in 2019 and 2017.

The event will take place at the Verti Music Hall in Berlin on Monday. Below is a complete list of the awards up for grabs and the athletes nominated.

Sportsman of the Year

Eliud Kipchoge – Athletics
Lewis Hamilton – Formula One
Lionel Messi – Football
Marc Marquez – MotoGP
Rafael Nadal – Tennis
Tiger Woods – Golf

Sportswoman of the Year

Allyson Felix – Athletics
Megan Rapinoe – Football
Mikaela Shiffrin – Skiing
Naomi Osaka – Tennis
Shelly-Ann Fraser-Pryce – Athletics
Simone Biles – Gymnastics

 

Team of the Year

Liverpool – Football
Mercedes-AMG – Formula One
South Africa – Rugby Union
Spain – Basketball
Toronto Raptors – Basketball
United States Women – Football

Breakthrough of the Year

Andy Ruiz – Boxing
Bianca Andreescu – Tennis
Coco Gauff – Tennis
Egan Bernal – Cycling
Japan – Rugby Union
Regan Smith – Swimming

 

Comeback of the Year

Andy Murray – Tennis
Christian Lealiifano – Rugby Union
Kawhi Leonard – Basketball
Liverpool – Football
Nathan Adrian – Swimming
Sophia Florsch – Formula Three

Sportsperson of the Year with a Disability

Alice Tai – Swimming
Diede de Groot – Wheelchair Tennis
Jetze Plat – Triathlon
Manuela Schar – Wheelchair Racing
Oksana Masters – Cross Country Skiing
Omara Durand – Athletics

 

Action Sportsperson of the year

Carissa Moore – Surfing
Chloe Kim – Snowboarding
Italo Ferreira – Surfing
Mark McMorris – Snowboarding
Nyjah Huston – Skateboarding
Rayssa Leal – Skateboarding

Aaron Gordon feels he should have two slam dunk contest wins after being edged out in Chicago on Saturday.

The Orlando Magic's Gordon lost an epic battle with Miami Heat forward Derrick Jones Jr., falling short after an incredible final.

Gordon and Jones earned perfect 50s in the final before a dunk-off, in which both scored 50s again before the latter edged it 48-47.

Also beaten controversially by Zach LaVine in 2016, Gordon feels he deserved two wins.

"I feel like I should have two trophies," he told ESPN.

"I still feel like I'm one of the best, if not the best dunker in the world, so I still feel that."

Gordon added: "The third time was a charm, I thought I did what I needed to do to win and I don't think I'm going to do it again."

Derrick Jones Jr. edged Aaron Gordon in an epic slam dunk contest, while Buddy Hield claimed the three-point contest title.

The NBA has permanently renamed the annual All-Star MVP award after the late Kobe Bryant, commissioner Adam Silver announced on Saturday.

Los Angeles Lakers legend Bryant claimed the trophy a joint-record four times during his highly decorated career and will now forever have his name tied to the trophy.

The 18-time All-Star died in a helicopter crash alongside his 13-year-old daughter Gianna and seven others in California last month.

Silver said: "Kobe Bryant is synonymous with NBA All-Star and embodies the spirit of this global celebration of our game.

"He always relished the opportunity to compete with the best of the best and perform at the highest level for millions of fans around the world."

The first award linked to Bryant's name will be presented following Sunday's game between Team LeBron and Team Giannis in Chicago.

Team captain and Milwaukee Bucks star Giannis Antetokounmpo paid tribute to Bryant's star power and willingness to support young players.

"Growing up he was my idol," the reigning NBA MVP told reporters. "Not just my idol, probably the whole generation, a lot of people my age's idol. He was the Michael Jordan of our generation.

"He was one of these guys who gave back to the game so much, gave back to the players.

"A lot of people, when they're so great, they don't do that. Whenever I needed something, I could just reach out to him. He was always there."

Milwaukee Bucks star Giannis Antetokounmpo picked Real Madrid over Barcelona when presented with an offer ahead of the NBA All-Star Game.

Antetokounmpo will lead Team Giannis against Team LeBron in Chicago on Sunday.

But the reigning NBA MVP faced a different test on Saturday, when he was offered Barcelona and Real Madrid shirts.

"We've got Real Madrid, who's the player though?" Antetokounmpo said, assessing his options.

"I love both of these players, [Lionel] Messi or [Cristiano] Ronaldo, who used to play with Real.

"But I'll probably go with Real. There you go, Real."

Madrid can restore their three-point lead atop LaLiga when they host Celta Vigo on Sunday.

Zion Williamson dunked so hard during the NBA Rising Stars Challenge that he broke the backboard but jokingly suggested it may not have been his fault.

The rim was left askew after the New Orleans Pelicans rookie threw down a pass from Trae Young late in the second quarter of Team USA's 151-127 defeat of Team World at the United Center on Friday.

Arena staff at the venue for this year's All-Star festivities had to re-align everything during half-time, when Williamson discovered what had happened from team-mates.

Asked if he realised what he had done, Williamson said: "Not at all. I went into half-time and my team-mates started telling me about it.

"I don't know which dunk it was on, but I don't think it was me!"

The first overall pick in the 2019 NBA Draft and Ja Morant, who played together for AAU team the South Carolina Hornets in 2014, caught the eye with some sensational plays.

Morant produced a through-the-legs alley-oop pass for a Williamson slam, but it was a different sequence that caused the Pelicans star to reflect on how far he and his former team-mate have come.

Asked for his favourite moment from the game, Williamson responded: "When Ja threw me the lob from half court. Reminisced on that, back to ninth grade.

"It was crazy honestly because after I caught it and we got a timeout or subbed out, I was thinking about our Hornets days and never in a million years would I have thought would we have been in this game or be in the situations we're in, so it would've been that moment."

Prior to taking to the floor, Williamson met Barack Obama at an NBA Cares event in Chicago and explained why he developed a newfound appreciation for the former United States president.

"First off he's a cool dude man, it's Obama, c'mon," said Williamson. "I gained so much more respect for him just by him saying that [he kept up with my games].

"I was like you probably have one of the most busy schedules and you're able to keep up with a rookie, superstars, college people, even high school people, and tell them their stats, what they've been doing good, what they can work on.

"When he told me that I just gained so much more respect for him."

Williamson was not born until after Michael Jordan had led the Chicago Bulls to six NBA championships, but he still has a great respect for the 14-time All-Star's exploits.

"It was my mom that led me to watching Michael Jordan and the Bulls. I asked her when I first started playing who should I go watch and she told me Jordan, [Larry] Bird and Magic [Johnson]," he said.

"I think I started with Magic, I was like man he can pass the ball. Bird, he can shoot and is an all-around player but when I got to Jordan she told me to watch full games, not highlights.

"I watched full games and as a kid the stuff he was doing was incredible to watch. Getting a steal, saving it and then doing a backwards layup or floating through the lane through three people, dunking it.

"So as a kid that really caught my attention and from then I just watched every full game Michael Jordan clip I could find."

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