NOAH FIRST TEAM ALL-DEFENSE: Bulls center Joakim Noah, winner of the Kia NBA Defensive Player of the Year Award, headlines the 2013-14 NBA All-Defensive First Team announced Monday.
Noah, who received 105 First Team votes (223 points), makes his second consecutive appearance on the First Team.
Joining Noah on the NBA All-Defensive First Team are forward Paul George of the Indiana Pacers (161 points, 65 First Team votes), guard Chris Paul of the Los Angeles Clippers (156 points, 64 First Team votes), forward Serge Ibaka of the Oklahoma City Thunder (152 points, 54 First Team votes) and guard/forward Andre Iguodala of the Golden State Warriors (148 points, 57 First Team Votes).
The voting panel consisted of 123 writers and broadcasters from the U.S. and Canada.
Noah, who appeared in 80 of Chicago’s 82 games, ranked sixth in the NBA in rebounding (11.3 rpg), 12th in blocks (1.51 bpg) and added 1.24 steals. Behind Noah, the Bulls held opponents to a .430 field goal percentage, second-stingiest in the league.
FREE AGENCY WAITS FOR FINALS: For the Miami Heat, it's all about June. July can wait.
Four years ago, when LeBron James uttered that now-infamous phrase — "not two, not three, not four, not five ..." — about how many championships he hoped to win with the Heat, it was almost immediately turned into a punch line. It rings prophetic in some ways now, with the Heat back in the NBA Finals for a fourth consecutive season.
How the Heat fare against in their NBA Finals rematch with the San Antonio Spurs might dictate what happens in July, when James, Chris Bosh and Dwyane Wade can become free agents if they choose. A looming offseason of decisions has been a taboo subject for the Heat "Big 3" this season, and Wade insisted Monday that Miami's stars have not said a word to each other about what may or may not happen.
LATE HOMER ENDS INDIANA'S SEASON: Tommy Edman hit a two-run homer in the bottom of the ninth to lift Stanford to a 5-4 win over Indiana in the championship game of the NCAA's Bloomington Regional.
Stanford (34-24) plays at Vanderbilt in the super regional.
Wayne Taylor started the ninth with a single through the middle and moved to second on Brett Michael Doran's bunt before Edman's blast.
Indiana's Nick Ramos broke a 3-3 tie with an infield single in the top of the eighth. Craig Dedelow had three hits, including an RBI single for the Hoosiers (44-15). Kyle Schwarber hit a two-run homer in the third.
LEONARD RETURNING TO U.S. OPEN: After three years of coming up short in qualifying, Justin Leonard earned a return to the U.S. Open.
The 1997 British Open champion, who has won 12 times on the PGA Tour but not since 2008, was among the 16 players at the Columbus site who qualified for the U.S. Open at Pinehurst June 12-15.
"It'll be fun," said Leonard, who'll turn 42 on the day of the Open's final round. "And Pinehurst is one of my favorites, so a little extra incentive there."
ODDS OF A CHROME 50,000-1: The horse California Chrome that will line up at the Belmont Stakes on Saturday is the product of an unspectacular mare and an equally unheralded stallion, bred in a state not known for producing winners and owned by a couple of racing outsiders who were labeled "dumb asses" for even pondering such a thing.
Byron Rogers, whose business is scientifically analyzing genetic makeup of racehorses, puts the odds at 50,000-to-1 against a horse with the strength and the stamina of a California Chrome ever showing up again among the 21,000 or so thoroughbred foals born each year. It's the sort of horse that shows up maybe once every three years, but even then doesn't always find his way into the spotlight because success requires a magic mix of the right owner, trainer and opportunity.
PRINCE APPLAUDS FOR NADAL - FINALLY: So "King of Clay" Rafael Nadal's record 32nd consecutive French Open victory was fit for a prince. Well, actually, Prince.
The American musician known for hits such as "Purple Rain" and "1999" was nearly hidden in the stands Monday, sitting in the very back row of the presidential box in the main stadium at Roland Garros and clutching a shiny cane.
Stayed till the last note of Nadal's easy win, too.
When the match ended, Prince rose to leave. As he walked toward the exit, though, he paused and paid his respects by applauding.