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🚨 Headlines

⚾️ Franco accusations: Dominican prosecutors have accused Rays shortstop Wander Franco of commercial sexual exploitation and money laundering following allegations that he had a relationship with a minor.

⚽️ Thorns sale: The Portland Thorns have been sold to California-based RAJ Sports for $63 million, the largest sale in NWSL history.

🏈 QBs sitting out: Lamar Jackson, Patrick Mahomes, Matthew Stafford and Joe Flacco are among the NFL QBs who will be resting this weekend.

πŸ€ Jalen and Jaylin: Officials needed 12 minutes during Wednesday’s Thunder-Hawks game to sort out confusion over OKC’s similarly named players, Jalen Williams and Jaylin Williams.

πŸ€ The NBA’s points explosion

Tyrese Haliburton and the Pacers poured in 142 points on Wednesday. (Andy Lyons/Getty Images)

Tyrese Haliburton and the Pacers poured in 142 points on Wednesday. (Andy Lyons/Getty Images)

NBA scoreboard operators had themselves a night on Wednesday. For the first time in league history, five teams scored at least 140 points on the same day.

  • Jazz 154, Pistons 148 (OT)

  • Pacers 142, Bucks 130

  • Hawks 141, Thunder 138

  • Cavaliers 140, Wizards 101

Plus: Three more teams came close, with the Kings beating the Magic, 138-135 (2OT), and the Clippers beating the Suns, 131-122.

Zoom out: NBA teams are averaging 115.5 points per game this season, the highest mark since the 1969-70 campaign (116.7).

  • Part of that is due to pace: Teams are attempting 89.3 field goals per game, the most since 1982-83 (89.7).

  • But it’s also due to efficiency: The league-wide effective field goal percentage* of 54.5% is tied with last season for the best mark ever.

  • Teams are also making 12.8 threes per game (most ever) and shooting 78.6% from the free throw line (best ever).

*Effective field goal percentage (eFG%) accounts for the extra value of a three-pointer. The formula: FG + (0.5 x 3PT) / FGA. For example: If Player A goes 4 for 10 with 2 threes and Player B goes 5 for 10 with 0 threes, they both would have 10 points from 10 field goal attempts and thus the same effective field goal percentage of 50%.

πŸ“† Sporting events worth traveling for in 2024

Paris 2024 headlines the upcoming year in sports. (Chesnot/Getty Images)

Paris 2024 headlines the upcoming year in sports. (Chesnot/Getty Images)

If December is for recapping the year in sports, then January is for looking ahead. Here are 10 events worth traveling for in 2024, Jeff writes.

  • 🏈 CFP Championship (Jan. 8, Houston): It’s a little last-minute, but Michigan and Washington should put on quite a show.

  • 🏈 Super Bowl LVIII (Feb. 11, Las Vegas): Sin City hosts for the first time.

  • πŸ€ Final Four (Apr. 5-8): March Madness concludes in Cleveland for the women (April 5-7) and Phoenix for the men (April 6-8).

  • ⛳️ The Masters (Apr. 11-14, Augusta, Georgia): Bucket list event.

  • 🐎 Kentucky Derby (May 4, Louisville): The first leg of the Triple Crown is also the most iconic. Start saving up for mint juleps and fancy hats.

  • 🎾 French Open (May 20-June 9, Paris): If this is Rafael Nadal’s last year, Roland Garros is his best shot to pick up a 23rd Grand Slam given he’s won there 14 times.

  • 🏁 Monaco Grand Prix (May 26, Monte Carlo): If you can swing it, this is the F1 race to see in person. For those wanting to stick to domestic travel, the Indy 500 is the same day.

  • ⚽️ Euro 2024 (June 14-July 14, Germany): Italy will try to defend its title in the quadrennial tournament against 23 other European foes.

  • ⚽️ Copa AmΓ©rica 2024 (June 20-July 14, USA): The U.S. hosts the quadrennial tournament, with matches in 14 cities and the final in Miami.

  • πŸ₯‡ Summer Olympics (July 26-Aug. 11, Paris): It’s been 100 years since Paris hosted the Olympics, and these will be the first Summer Games since 2016 with no COVID restrictions.

All the major sporting events in 2024.

🏈 Pro Bowl rosters announced

CeeDee Lamb at last year's Pro Bowl Games. (Michael Owens/Getty Images)
CeeDee Lamb at last year’s Pro Bowl Games. (Michael Owens/Getty Images)

The NFL Pro Bowl rosters were unveiled on Wednesday ahead of this year’s pre-Super Bowl festivities in Orlando.

Team representation: The 49ers led the way with nine Pro Bowlers, followed by the Ravens and Cowboys with seven each. The Patriots, Panthers, Packers and Commanders had zero selections.

NFC starters:

AFC starters:

Full list including reserves.

πŸ“Έ Behind the lens: Photo of the year

(Dan Istitene/Formula 1 via Getty Images)

(Dan Istitene/Formula 1 via Getty Images)

I asked the team at Getty Images to pick their favorite photo from 2023. They selected this shot by Dan Istitene for its “energy, adrenaline, chaos, excitement, movement, and wonderful photography technique.”

Caption: Red Bull’s Max Verstappen leads Ferrari’s Charles Leclerc and the rest of the field at the start of the F1 Grand Prix of Bahrain.

Here’s Dan:

The stretch from the grid to turn one at this circuit is notoriously bumpy, and we often see sparks fly as drivers overtake each other under the lights of the Sakhir Circuit. I had decided earlier in the weekend that I would shoot the start from the inside of the track near the first corner, looking back towards the grid with the main grandstand as the background.

The abundance of sparks was due to the uneven surface and the overall sense of chaos was achieved by using a slow shutter speed, focusing on Verstappen as the mayhem ensued from the other drivers jockeying for position around him. You can even see Max’s head turned to his mirrors as he makes his move across the track to defend.

Although this was the first race of 2023, I think the image ended up providing a good illustration of Max’s season overall: total control and dominance as his main competitors toil in his wake. These are the high-intensity moments, which are quite literally over in the blink of an eye, that you feel very fortunate to witness and document as a Formula 1 photographer.

πŸ“† Jan. 4, 1999: The first BCS Championship

(Jed Jacobsohn/Allsport via Getty Images)

(Jed Jacobsohn/Allsport via Getty Images)

25 years ago today, No. 1 Tennessee beat No. 2 Florida State, 23-16, in the first-ever BCS National Championship, Jeff writes.

The big picture: The BCS era lasted 16 years β€” and produced 11 champions* β€” before giving way to the four-team College Football Playoff era, which will conclude with Monday’s title game.

More on this day:

  • 🏈 1986: Rams RB Eric Dickerson rushed for an NFL playoff record 248 yards in a 20-0 win over the Cowboys.

  • πŸ€ 2000: Mark Cuban bought the Mavericks for $285 million. Last week, he officially sold his majority stake at a $3.5 billion valuation.

*The 11 BCS champions: Alabama (2009, 2011, 2012); FSU (1999, 2013); LSU (2003, 2007); Florida (2006, 2008); Oklahoma (2000); Ohio State (2002); Auburn (2010), Miami (2001); Texas (2005); USC (2004); Tennessee (1998).

πŸ“Ί Watchlist: Season opener

Tom Kim during a practice round on Tuesday. (Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images)

Tom Kim during a practice round on Tuesday. (Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images)

The PGA Tour’s 2024 season tees off today in Maui with The Sentry (12:30pm ET, ESPN+; 6pm, Golf/Peacock).

Loaded field: The 59-player field* features all PGA Tour winners in 2023 and the top 50 finishers in the FedEx Cup standings.

More to watch:

  • πŸ€ NBA: Bucks at Spurs (7:30pm, TNT); Nuggets at Warriors (10pm, TNT)

  • πŸ’ NHL: Penguins at Bruins (7pm, ESPN)

  • πŸ€ NCAAM: Colorado at No. 10 Arizona (9:30pm, ESPN)

  • πŸ€ NCAAW: No. 22 FSU at No. 3 NC State (7pm, ACCNX via ESPN app)

  • πŸ’ World Juniors: Sweden vs. Czech Republic (9am, NHL); USA vs. Finland (1:30pm, NHL) … Semifinals.

*Notably absent: Defending champion Jon Rahm is out after joining LIV, and Rory McIlroy opted out, choosing instead to start his season next week in Dubai.

🏈 College football trivia

Washington celebrates its 1991 Rose Bowl victory. (Stephen Dunn/Allsport via Getty Images)

Washington celebrates its 1991 Rose Bowl victory. (Stephen Dunn/Allsport via Getty Images)

Michigan and Washington both split their most recent national championships: the Wolverines in 1997 and the Huskies in 1991.

Answer at the bottom.

πŸ“Ί Stat of the day: America loves football

(I Ryu/VCG via Getty Images)

(I Ryu/VCG via Getty Images)

96 of the top 100 most-watched U.S. TV broadcasts in 2023 were football games, per Sports Business Journal’s Austin Karp. 93 were NFL games and three were college football games.

The four non-sports broadcasts: Thanksgiving Day Parade, State of the Union, Academy Awards and an episode of “Next-Level Chef,” which aired on Fox right after the Super Bowl.

Trivia answer: Michigan split their title with Nebraska in 1997, and Washington split their title with Miami in 1991.

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