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For the last year, the Indiana Pacers have celebrated the past, commemorating their 50th season of professional basketball with a season-long deep dive into memorable players and moments from each decade.

So it is fitting that the 51st season marks the beginning of a new chapter.

On Friday, the Pacers officially unveiled the first phase of a brand refresh, built around the “We Grow Basketball Here” platform and highlighted by the unveiling of new white and blue uniforms, a new playing court, and two new logos – a state icon and seal for basketball in Indiana.

WeGrowBasketballHere.com: Complete Details on the Brand Refresh »

The platform is the result of a three-year focus on reestablishing the franchise’s identity that began with the debut of the Hickory jerseys and honoree program for the 2015-16 season, continued with the 50th season celebration last season, and now looks forward to the future while continuing to pay tribute to the state’s rich basketball heritage.

“I think when you talk to anybody about Indiana and what comes to mind, basketball is it,” said Todd Taylor, Pacers Sports & Entertainment’s Senior Vice President/Chief Sales & Marketing Officer. “As we look at it, being Indiana’s team from border to border, I think it’s important that we sort of look at our roots. And those roots really are basketball and growing the game.”

The new uniforms in particular are an exciting development for Pacers fans. Indiana last unveiled new uniforms in Sept. 2005 and has sported the same design for the past 12 seasons.

One of the signature elements of the new uniforms is the lettering encircling the number on the front of each jersey spelling out both “Indiana” and “Pacers.” The Pacers will be the only NBA team to have their full team name featured on their uniforms with the number perfectly centered between the two names.

“We wanted to have a traditional uniform, but with a much more modern look,” Taylor said. “So as we started research, the (Fort Wayne) Zollner Pistons was a uniform that we looked at from a long time ago that had a name identifier and team identifier on the front.

“We thought it would be interesting to try to incorporate both Indiana and Pacers to reinforce that we are a team of the state and not just Indianapolis.”

Both uniforms also feature unique lining along the sides of both the jersey and the shorts, featuring dynamic gold lines on blue piping. These dimensional lines invoke the imagery of Indiana farmland and are a physical representation of growth, tying into the notion that basketball is grown in Indiana.

“It’s a great new look for the new-look Pacers,” Pacers guard Lance Stephenson said. “They fit great, they feel great. I think fans are really going to like them.

“I like them so much I’m going to buy my own jersey.”

The uniforms also include a number of smaller tweaks.

cheap nba basketball jerseys with numbersThey feature a new compact typeface and the letters and numerals on the blue uniforms are now gold with white trim (the previous blue jerseys had white lettering with gold trim). The necklines of both jerseys now feature a solid, v-neck trim (blue on the white uniforms and gold on the blue uniforms).

Both uniforms also feature the new state icon on the center of the waistband on the shorts. This secondary logo was originally seen on the customized IndyCar Larry Bird drove in New York City to deliver the franchise’s bid for the 2021 All-Star Game to the NBA’s league offices and pays homage to the Pacers representing the entire state of Indiana on the basketball court.

The Pacers shared initial concepts with Nike, who replaced Adidas this summer as the official manufacturer of NBA uniforms, which modified the design to come up with a ‘modern traditional’ look.

“They were really excited about putting both the state and the team name on the front and just the unique factor of the design,” Taylor said. “I think they did a great job of keeping a traditional look, while adding enhancements, like the side panel design, to create a nice balance.”

The jerseys are already drawing rave reviews from key Pacers players, like 21-year-old star center Myles Turner.

“I think Nike did a really good job with the whole look of the uniform, from the shorts to the tops,” Turner said. “Aside from the look, they did their homework into making them comfortable for the players.

“These uniforms are going to be very popular.”

One change the NBA is implementing league-wide is the abolishment of designated “Home” and “Road” uniforms. Instead, the new white Pacers uniform will be termed Indiana’s “Association Edition,” while the blue uniform is the franchise’s “Icon Edition.”

For the 2017-18 season, home teams will be allowed to choose which uniform they want to wear for each particular game on their schedule. Visiting teams can then choose any uniform that contrasts with the home team’s selection.

These changes allow for greater flexibility in jersey choices than had happened in the past. Previously, the Pacers never wore their blue uniforms at home and only wore white on the road on rare occasions. Fans can expect to see greater variety in uniform choices next season.

The new court design also echoes many of the elements in the brand refreshment.

The sidelines will now be Pacers blue (on the previous court, they were simply a lighter shade of wood than the playing surface) with the dimensional lines that represent farmland and early morning sunrise emanating from all four sides of the playing surface. “We Grow Basketball Here” will be emblazoned on the west sideline as a reminder of the organization’s foundational ethos.

The playing surface will feature the new secondary state logo in the southeast and northwest corners and a 400 square-foot Pacers P at center court. The previous center court logo was much smaller at 169 square feet and featured the global logo, with the Pacers P on a white circle surrounded by a gold ring that spelled out “Indiana Pacers.”

Another important element of the brand refresh is a new seal for basketball in Indiana, which was designed to serve as a symbol of unity, bringing together all those with a shared devotion to the game.

The seal features a basketball rising over the horizon of dimensional lines of farmland. Surrounding that imagery is a gold ring with the state name, 19 stars (Indiana was the 19th state), the year 1894 (commemorating when the first game of basketball was played in the state), and the mantra “We Grow Basketball Here.”

By happenstance, the brand refresh coincides with a summer in which the Pacers are also undergoing significant refresh within the locker room. Newly promoted President of Basketball Operations Kevin Pritchard has been very active in recent weeks, already adding eight new players to the roster through the draft, trades, and free agency.

In more ways than one, the team that takes the court for Opening Night in October will have a completely different look.

“I think it gives us a great opportunity to really start fresh in a lot of ways as we begin the next 50 years of professional basketball,” Taylor said.

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There is no guarantee Ben Roethlisberger plays beyond 2017.

The five-time Pro Bowler’s reasons are wide ranging. From a desire to spend more time with his family to the hope that he’ll avoid serious long-term injuries, he laid out a compelling case during an interview with the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette on Friday while echoing some of the same end-of-the-road sentiments he expressed at the end of the 2016 season — a time he also flirted with retirement.

From the paper:

“Age,” Roethlisberger said, then laughed. “It’s just, it’s 14 years; that’s a long time. I think the average life expectancy in the NFL is 3 years, maybe 3.5 now.

“I’ve been blessed to do this a long time. I think it’s just seeing my kids growing up, and in the offseason I love getting to spend time with them, and then I come here and football season just has to take up so much of your time. Even when you get home, I try my best to turn it off when I walk in the front door. I think I do a pretty good job of that, but it still consumes you in a way.

“Just all those things combined — being healthy, being able to play catch with my kids. I feel good mentally, I know this new study that came out that 90 percent [of NFL] players’ brains who were studied had CTE.

“There’s a lot of scary things, and I think my wife would be OK if I hung it up, too. But I still love the guys, I still love the game, so it was right for me to come back and give it everything I have this year.”
Roethlisberger, 35, went on to say his current disposition wasn’t the result of lingering wounds from the 2016 season, even though, as NFL Network’s Aditi Kinkhabwala noted at the time, the quarterback was unhappy with some of his teammates.

As Kinkhabwala mentioned on Inside Training Camp Live on Friday, this is Roethlisberger being honest, though it is a version of the same tactics he’s employed in the past. On top of being how he feels, Roethlisberger knows the end of his career could provide a sense of urgency for the players around him. The Steelers would be nowhere near Super Bowl contention without Roethlisberger. Five years from age 40, the QB eliminating any complacency is a worthwhile endeavor to start the season.cheap jerseys website

It feels like a dance we’re destined to do with Roethlisberger for a little while, though the Steelers cannot say he didn’t give them warning. With rookie Joshua Dobbs and 2013 fourth-round pick Landry Jones on the roster, are they prepared for life without Big Ben?

Ben Roethlisberger will tie Terry Bradshaw for the longest tenure as a Steelers quarterback when he embarks on his 14th season.

The question now becomes, will it be his last?

Roethlisberger, 35, told the Post-Gazette Friday that retirement remains an option for him after this season and that his wife would like to see him give up football.

In past years, he’s talked about playing a lot longer, but he mentioned the possibility of retiring two days after the Steelers season ended with their loss to New England in the AFC championship. He ultimately decided to come back this year but will not commit beyond it.

Antonio Brown tries to run past cornerback Artie Burns during the first day of training camp Friday at Latrobe High School.

Why the change of heart from the past?

“Age,” Roethlisberger said, then laughed. “It’s just, it’s 14 years; that’s a long time. I think the average life expectancy in the NFL is 3 years, maybe 3½ now.

“I’ve been blessed to do this a long time. I think it’s just seeing my kids growing up, and in the offseason I love getting to spend time with them, and then I come here and football season just has to take up so much of your time. Even when you get home, I try my best to turn it off when I walk in the front door. I think I do a pretty good job of that but it still consumes you in a way.

“Just all those things combined — being healthy, being able to play catch with my kids. I feel good mentally, I know this new study that came out that 90 percent [of NFL] players’ brains who were studied had CTE.

“There’s a lot of scary things, and I think my wife would be OK if I hung it up, too. But I still love the guys, I still love the game, so it was right for me to come back and give it everything I have this year.”

Roethlisberger insists it was not out of frustration with losing the AFC title game that prompted him to mention a possible retirement two days later in an interview with 93.7 The Fan.

“It had nothing to do with frustration, me saying it. It had to do with other factors in life. I think people assume it was the frustration but honestly it had nothing to do with that, it was more about other things.”

James Conner speaks to the media before the first day of training camp on Friday, July 28, 2017 at Saint Vincent College. (Steph Chambers/Post-Gazette)

He says he’s in good shape, his arm is fine, but that he will not commit to playing longer than 2017.

“I feel if I commit to anything past right now, I’m cheating now. I’m looking forward to this season, and I’m going to give it everything I have and afterwards we’ll sit down and do some [thinking] again.”

He knows that 40-year-old Tom Brady has said he wants to play until he’s 50, and Drew Brees has expressed similar sentiments.

“To each his own and good for him. He’s doing it at a very high level obviously and I know Drew Brees talked about doing it. Each person has priorities in different areas. Like I said, a big one for me is my family and my kids.”

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Rajon Rondo, who spent last year dipping in and out of the Chicago Bulls’ rotations, has agreed on a one-year deal with the New Orleans Pelicans, a person with knowledge of the situation confirmed to USA TODAY Sports.

The person requested anonymity because the deal wasn’t announced publicly.

Rondo, an 11-year vet, had a tumultuous run with the Bulls last season before suffering a fractured thumb in their first round postseason matchup against the Boston Celtics. It was largely Rondo who helped engineer a 2-0 lead before the injury occurred.

Rondo fell completely out of the Bulls’ rotation last season for a stretch of five games in January before coach Fred Hoiberg came to rely on him as a veteran presence. Rondo was routinely praised by his teammates for mentoring the team’s younger players.

He also called out veterans Dwyane Wade and Jimmy Butler in an Instagram post in January after they had publicly criticized some of their other teammates.

Rondo averaged 7.8 points and 6.7 assists last year with the Bulls, marks that were significantly lower than his career averages of 10.7 points and 8.5 assists.

The 31-year-old will back up incumbent starter Jrue Holiday, who recently agreed to a 5-year, $126 million dollar deal to stay in New Orleans.

The Vertical first reported the news.

The New Orleans Pelicans have reached a one-year deal with free-agent point guard Rajon Rondo, a source confirmed to The Undefeated’s Marc J. Spears on Saturday.

Sources told ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski and Zach Lowe on Thursday that Pelicans officials — which included general manager Dell Demps and coach Alvin Gentry — met with Rondo and that it went “excellent.”

Rondo’s agreement with the Pelicans was first reported by The Vertical.

Rondo surged in the playoffs before breaking his thumb after what had been a largely disappointing and turbulent season with the Chicago Bulls in which he averaged 7.8 points and 6.7 assists — well below his career averages of 10.7 points and 8.5 assists per game.

The Pelicans re-signed Jrue Holiday to a five-year, $126 million guaranteed deal that could be worth more than $150 million with incentives, but they were intrigued by the possibility of shifting Holiday off the ball for large chunks of games, sources told ESPN.

New Orleans did not have a traditional backup point guard after trading Tim Frazier to the Washington Wizards for a second-round pick.

Rondo played with Pelicans center DeMarcus Cousins in Sacramento during the 2015-16 season, and the two formed a strong bond.

In their lone season together, Rondo averaged a league-leading 11.7 assists per game, to along with 11.9 points, 6.0 rebounds and 2.0 steals. He recorded 237 assists to Cousins — his most assists to one player in a single season.

This will be Rondo’s fifth team dating to the 2014-15 season.

After helping the Bulls get off to a solid start in November, Rondo struggled to find his form alongside ball-dominant players like Dwyane Wade and Jimmy Butler. He was benched for five straight games in late December/early January and didn’t re-enter the starting lineup until mid-March.

Rondo was suspended for one game in early December for conduct detrimental to the team after a verbal altercation with assistant coach Jim Boylen, including towel-whipping him in the face.

Aside from that incident, Rondo was praised repeatedly by coaches, teammates and executives for his professional approach. He was lauded throughout the organization for the leadership he exhibited toward younger players on the roster. Those bonds strengthened even more in late January after Rondo took to Instagram to rip Wade and Butler for how they called out younger players in the wake of a loss to the Atlanta Hawks a night earlier.

Nike Eagles cheap jerseys China Carson Wentz Midnight Green Team Color Youth Stitched NFL New Elite Jersey

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The most famous statue in the city of Philadelphia, sitting at the bottom of the Art Museum steps, is of a fighter who cheap jerseys China didn’t even really exist.

On its face, it sounds a little silly. So why then is this statue so meaningful to Philadelphia?

The statue, and the fictional character it resembles, represent something that Philadelphia residents identify with. Something that is woven into the fabric of every fan in the city. Something that grows stronger every year that goes by without a playoff appearance of championship from one of its four favorite teams.

The statue symbolizes the idea of taking a punch and then picking yourself back up off the mat. Something Rocky Balboa did in every one of his movies and something that Philadelphia fans do at the start of every new season. Now, it also symbolizes one of the themes of quarterback Carson Wentz’s rookie season.

There is a popular narrative that suggests that, after Week 3 of the 2016 season, Wentz had a poor rookie season. The narrative has been so pervasive that it is widely accepted as fact. Fortunately for the Philadelphia Eagles and their fans, that fact lies more in the alternative category.

In the first three weeks of the season, Wentz was near perfect and the world took notice. Even the Vice President of the United States was publicly hopped aboard the Wentz wagon. The hype, as hype almost always does in the social media age, got out of hand. At that point, how can there be anything BUT regression for a rookie quarterback? And Wentz did regress. On that, there is no debate. From a statistical standpoint, there was surely regression. Further, Wentz regressed mechanically which later led to accuracy issues as well. And as Wentz regressed, so did the team around him. At times, it was downright ugly. Then, just like the hype got out of control in the first three weeks, so too did the criticism. It wasn’t all bad though.

As I mentioned above, there was an overall theme to Wentz’s rookie season that might have been missed by those who were too busy focusing on the negatives. The theme was Wentz continually picking himself back up when things went wrong and making things happen. He did this both on a micro level within games and a macro level throughout the season. When football season ends, fans and analysts alike tend to focus too heavily on the big picture and forget about how the individual games actually played out. So let’s go through some of the games from Week 4 and later and assess how things actually played out.

Week 5 – @ Detroit

This game is always remembered as the game where Wentz was off target downfield to Agholor on the game-ending interception. As it turns out, there was actually an entire game played before that play. The Lions storm out of the gates and take an early 14-point lead with the Eagles defense looking lost coming off of their bye week. Wentz, being as cool, calm and collective as he was to start the season, responds and leads the team downfield for a touchdown only to be then matched by another Detroit touchdown. Wentz then responds again and drives the team downfield for a first half ending field goal on a 13-play drive that also included three 10-plus yard penalties called against the Eagles.

In the second half, the defense finally gets its act together and Wentz and the offense, on the road against a boisterous crowd, churn out 13 more points to give the Eagles a lead with six minutes remaining. We all know how the game progressed from there. Thanks Ryan Mathews. Contrary to the narrative, Wentz actually played great in this game. Did he make mistakes? Yes. But he also did what every fan in the country wants to see their quarterback do. In a game filled with mishaps, 700 penalties and poor defensive play, he overcame it again and again. He elevated the team and gave them a chance to win the game.

Week 6 – @ Washington

There isn’t too much to be said about this game. A tough game on the road in hostile territory versus a division rival. With the defense’s inability to get off the field coupled with a Malcolm Jenkins’ interception return and a Wendell Smallwood kickoff return for touchdowns, Wentz and the offense weren’t on the field hardly at all in the first half and literally not at all in the second quarter. In the game that most fans say never felt close, the Eagles somehow got within a touchdown of winning. Wentz was on the sideline for almost the entire 1st half, the defense couldn’t get off the field all game and his fellow rookie right tackle was getting abused. Finally, Wentz found a way to create magic on his own and pulled off a Russell Wilson-esque miracle late in the game. Then it got called back on a questionable penalty on Smallwood. Watching this play is still so disappointing.

The world was against Wentz that day, which happens sometimes to every quarterback, yet the Eagles only lost by a touchdown. The overall game may have been ugly but the same cannot be said about the Wentz’s performance.

Week 7 & 9 – Vs Minnesota & @ New York

I grouped these two games together because, in a way, they were very similar. In both games, Wentz started out awful. He threw terrible interceptions that put his team down and in bad positions early. Many rookie quarterbacks, or veterans for that matter, would cave in situations like this. In both games, though, Wentz battled back. It wasn’t necessarily pretty, he still made mistakes as each game progressed but he didn’t let his huge mistakes early on defeat him.

In a defensive battle with the Vikings, with the game still within Minnesota’s reach, Wentz overcame his demons and led the team on an 11-play, late 3rd quarter touchdown drive that essentially put the game out of reach for the Vikings. In week nine, after gifting the Giants 14 points in a raucous environment like New York, Wentz again battles back and leads his team on five different scoring drives to get within five points and one throw from winning the game. Now, that final incompletion on the slot fade route to Jordan Matthews is one that Wentz needs to complete. Keep in mind, however, this game also included two failed fourth down attempts in scoring territory and a blocked field goal by the Giants. In addition, this entire game was essentially a furious comeback effort for Wentz and the Eagles. This allowed one of the league’s most creative and aggressive defensive coordinators, Steve Spagnuolo, to really let it loose. Again, just like the Minnesota game, things go poorly early on, this time it was mostly because of Wentz, yet he battles back and gives his team a chance to win the game.

Weeks 8 & 10 – @ Dallas & Vs Atlanta

One of these games was a horrendously disappointing loss, the other was a beautifully executed team win. For the Eagles rookie quarterback, however, these games were very similar. In both games, the Eagles defense and running game was, for the most part, very effective. Wentz wasn’t asked to be a superhero in these two games but he minimized mistakes and executed his responsibilities and probably should have won both games. If you think about it, these two games for Wentz were very similar to the entire season for fellow standout rookie Dak Prescott. And that is not a shot at Prescott, who I think deserves much more credit than he is typically given. I use that example just to illustrate how these two games played out for Wentz.

If we include weeks one through three, this brings us through the first nine games of Wentz’s rookie season. In three of those games Wentz performed near flawlessly (Weeks 1-3) and in two others, (weeks 8 and 10) he was put in a good position by the defense and running game and did exactly what was asked of him. In two others (weeks 5 and 6), Wentz was put in a terrible position by his defense but still managed to perform at a high level and giving the team a chance to win. Through the first nine games, there were only two games where Wentz really put his team in a poor position (weeks 7 & 9). Even in these games, however, he was able to pick himself up off the mat and make the necessary plays down the stretch to win one of the games and get his team within one play of winning the other. For purposes of being conservative, we can call these poor performances by Wentz, yet there were still positives to take away from them. By my count, that leaves seven solid-to-very good games by the rookie at the midway point.

But I thought that Wentz only played good in the first three weeks of the season?

Well, we’ve only gone through the first half of the season and that narrative has already proven to be fake news. Stay tuned for part two of this article where we will break down the remainder of the 2016 season and spread more truth about the rookie’s opening campaign.

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Von Miller suggested in January that he, Atlanta Falcons rusher Vic Beasley, and other sack leaders throughout the NFL should meet up for a “pass-rushing summit.” On Thursday, the Denver Broncos star made that a reality at Stanford University — not far from where Miller has a home in the Bay Area.

According to the Denver Post, the attendees of the “Von Miller Pass Rush Summit” included Beasley, Shane Ray (Broncos), Khalil Mack (Oakland Raiders), Malik Jackson (Jacksonville Jaguars), Solomon Thomas (San Francisco 49ers), Cassius Marsh (Seattle Seahawks) and Cliff Avril (Seahawks).

“It will probably be about a month or so because those guys are in the playoffs — I got my [offseason] early — but Vic [Beasley]’s my guy and we’ll link up,” Miller said in January, via ESPN’s Vaughn McClure. “I’ll get with Vic and [the Kansas City Chiefs’] Justin Houston and all those guys and have a little pass-rush summit. Vic, being a guy with that type of game so similar to yours, you want to get with those guys and work out with those guys. I’m looking forward to it.”

Miller ended up waiting until the end of June to get it organized (and didn’t draw Houston), but still had an impressive group of pass rushers working with each other and the Stanford coaching staff.

Beasley edged Miller for the league lead in sacks during the 2016 season with 15.5 — two more than Miller. But the Broncos pass rusher has reached double-digit sacks in five of his six NFL seasons and Beasley knows he still has a lot to learn.

“Oh, it will help me out a lot,” Beasley said of the summit in May, via ESPN. “The attention that Von gets year in and year out is unbelievable. They respect him as a pass-rusher, and I’m headed in that direction. So I can learn a lot from him in that case.”

It’s not uncommon for NFL players to link up during the offseason and work together, even if they’re not on the same team. But so many of the league’s best players converging to train is rare. And if it makes those players any better than they already are, the quarterbacks of the NFL should be worried.