Why were a bunch of NBA stars in Africa?

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Why were a bunch of NBA stars in Africa?

From Comcast SportsNetOKLAHOMA CITY (AP) -- For Nick Collison, taking a trip to Africa changed the world he lives in.The Oklahoma City Thunder forward was only in Kenya for three days, but it felt like three weeks. He witnessed people who walked 30 miles just to get two drops of polio vaccine, then turned around and walked home. He mingled among 100,000 people seeking refuge from wars and famine.He'll come back to the United States a changed person."To see things like that, it makes it real because you always hear about what's going on in different places of the world. To see it firsthand, for me, made it real," Collison said by phone Thursday from South Africa, where he's participating in the NBA's 10th Basketball Without Borders clinic."It's just an incredible trip."Before heading to Johannesburg, Collison stopped in Nairobi then headed out to the refugee camp with UNICEF."I'd say it's probably a life-changing experience. It's something that will give me a different perspective on my life and just how I see the world," Collison said."I think the goal of bringing the NBA as a partner of UNICEF is to get guys to talk about it and just kind of get the word out to a different audience, to let people know what groups are doing and people can get involved with what's going on."Collison is part of a hefty Thunder presence in Africa this week. Four of the seven NBA players participating in Basketball Without Borders this year are from the Oklahoma City roster. Serge Ibaka, a native of the Republic of Congo, joins Collison, Thabo Sefolosha and Cole Aldrich as camp coaches.Chicago's Luol Deng, Milwaukee's Luc Mbah a Moute and Brooklyn's C.J. Watson are also participating in the basketball clinic for 60 African boys and girls, and helping life skills seminars and education on HIV and AIDS."We're out here to not only change other people's lives but also to change ours, to give us a different perspective on other how other people live," Aldrich said. "Serge grew up in a totally different lifestyle than any of us did, and we're learning a little bit of that through this trip."It's been so much fun, there's a lot of things we've got to continue to do and we're just trying to spread the word of basketball and just help people that need help."Ibaka made a stop in his hometown, Brazzaville, for about a week and offered a basketball clinic there before linking up with his teammates in Johannesburg. Ibaka is the son of two Congolese basketball players, and is trying to do his part to spread the sport further now that he's developed into one of the NBA's top defenders."I'm trying to do my best I can to come back there and give something and show them that I'm still thinking about them," said Ibaka, who led the league in blocks last season and finished second in the voting for Defensive Player of the Year.Sefolosha's father is from South Africa, and he, Ibaka and Collison all had participated in Basketball Without Borders before. Aldrich is a first-timer and took in a safari before the camp began."The goal is to try to improve the basketball development program for kids over here, to get more coaching, to get the national teams more involved, so that they can learn the game better," said Collison, who last participated in 2008. "I've seen a difference from four years ago. The coaching is better, the kids are more skilled, they have a better feel for the game. It's really great for the NBA to do."While passing along some tips on life and how to play hoops, the players also learn more about themselves and the people around them. Just as importantly, they'll live out unforgettable experiences that they can share with others through the platform of professional sports."You kind of look eye-to-eye with people and you start to actually relate to them because they're mothers, fathers and they're trying to do what's best for their children," Collison said. "They just have so many obstacles and difficulties."

Bruins score early, Rask holds strong in 4-1 win over Predators

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Bruins score early, Rask holds strong in 4-1 win over Predators

BOSTON – The Bruins needed to follow up last weekend’s win over the Islanders if they truly wanted it to be a turning point, and they followed up in victorious fashion on Tuesday night.

The Bruins scored a pair of goals early and then hung on for dear life behind a strong return effort from Tuukka Rask in a 4-1 win over the Nashville Predators at TD Garden. Rask stopped 24-of-25 shots for his 34th win of the season and looked both rested and recharged after taking last weekend off from on-ice action.

The win gives the Bruins two in a row, and improves their record under Bruce Cassidy at the Garden to a dominant 8-3 in 11 games.

Patrice Bergeron opened the scoring just a couple of minutes into the game when he knocked home the rebound of a Zdeno Chara point blast from long distance, and scored his 18th goal of the season. Boston’s other frontline center, David Krejci, scored 10 minutes later after taking a slick entry pass from David Pastrnak and beating Pekka Rinne five-hole.

Rask made 15 saves in the first two periods including an excellent stop on Viktor Arvidsson following a David Backes turnover on the half-wall in the second period, but the Preds finally busted through in the final period. Craig Smith tipped home a Roman Josi point shot that squeezed through Rask’s leg pads, and both Rask and the Bruins scrambled and scrapped their way through while clinging to a one-goal advantage late in the game.

A 3-on-1 odd-man rush late in the game led to Riley Nash feeding Rhode Island native Noel Acciari for his first career NHL goal in his 43rd game with the Black and Gold. 

Jackson: Browns willing to do anything for next quarterback. . . except trade No. 1 pick

Jackson: Browns willing to do anything for next quarterback. . . except trade No. 1 pick

PHOENIX -- The Browns are willing to do whatever it takes to land a quarterback they believe in . . . unless they're asked to give up the No. 1 overall pick.

That's apparently off the table. 

"No," Browns coach Hue Jackson said with a laugh during the AFC coaches breakfast Tuesday at the Arizona Biltmore. "No. I can tell you 'no' on that one. No."

Though Jackson would not touch any queries as they related to Patriots backup Jimmy Garoppolo --  "I can't comment on anybody else's players on another team, especially not in this forum," he said -- Jackson was more expansive when I asked him if he'd be willing to part with one of his team's two first-round draft picks in order to land the right quarterback. 

"I think everything would be on the table to consider," Jackson said. "But you'd like to come to a consensus that that right guy is out there and can be on your team. Yeah, I think we'd do anything. If there was the possibility to put the right quarterback on our football team, there's no question on my mind we'd do anything and everything to do that."

Anything and everything but give up No. 1. 

For the Patriots, the top overall choice may not be enough for them to part with Garoppolo, a fourth-year quarterback they seem to believe is the ultimate insurance policy for soon-to-be 40-year-old Tom Brady. 

But if every player has a price, one would think the top choice in this year's draft would be a hell of a start in getting the Patriots to consider a trade. Instead, it's a non-starter for Cleveland. 

The Browns are in a good place right now when it comes to their ammunition in the draft. Over the course of the next two years, they have nine top-65 selections to help rebuild a team that went 1-15 in 2016. Though No. 1 might be off the table, Jackson said nothing about No. 12, which may be easier to part with knowing that the team is bursting at the seams with picks.

Jackson said the Browns can afford to be relatively patient when it comes to filling their need at the sport's most important position. The Browns have so many other spots they could improve in the short-term that for them solving the quarterback position doesn't need to be done in haste, he explained. 

"This is a team game," Jackson said. "It's not just the quarterback. And I know everybody feels that. And I have great respect for that. But this is a team sport. The best teams normally win. Not the best quarterback. Don't get me wrong, Tom Brady's the best there is, but the best teams normally win.

"We gotta understand where we are. We gotta kind of crawl before we can walk. We weren't even walking a year ago. We weren't even crawling. I think what's most important for us is, 'How do we really want to build this team moving forward?'

"We all understand and recognize that a quarterback is a huge piece of it, but I think you gotta make sure that it's the right fit, and at the right time for us. And we'll do that at some point in time. It's going to happen, whether it's this year or next year, and we all know that. But I think what's important to us to have sustainable winning is we gotta have the best team. I think that's important as we move forward."

For the Browns, it appears as though building the best team means holding onto No. 1 overall this year regardless of whether or not it would help them land their quarterback of the future.