Tom Goldman

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Monday night in Las Vegas, thousands are expected to turn out for an NBA Championship game between the Los Angeles Lakers and Portland Trailblazers. Hundreds of thousands more, at least, are expected to tune in to ESPN for live coverage.

Wait, you say, it's the middle of July — a time for baseball, beach and barbecue. But men's pro basketball? Normally way off sports fans' radar screens this time of year.

But there's been nothing normal about NBA Summer League 2017.

Updated at 5:25 p.m. ET

Former USA Gymnastics team doctor Larry Nassar, at the heart of a sexual abuse scandal involving more than 100 girls and women — including top American gymnasts — pleaded guilty Tuesday in a Michigan federal court to three counts related to child pornography.

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Suddenly, John McEnroe and Serena Williams are involved in a tennis match of words, and the pace picked up Tuesday. Both are rushing the net — stick with the metaphor here — and firing volleys.

First it was McEnroe, who told NPR's Lulu Garcia-Navarro on Sunday that while Williams is "an incredible player," (she's won 23 major singles titles and 14 in doubles) she'd be "like 700 in the world" if she played on the men's circuit.

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Diana Taurasi is one of the best women's basketball players ever. She's got another record to prove it.

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UNIDENTIFIED MAN: Fans, let's hear it for the WNBA's new all-time scoring leader, Diana Taurasi.

There's good news and bad news for the Cleveland Cavaliers following their 113-91 loss last night to the Golden State Warriors in Game 1 of the NBA Finals.

Their bad news first.

They lost.

Their good news? The reasons they lost were pretty clear. Meaning they don't have to dig too deeply to understand what they have to correct for Game 2. Or try to correct.

Cleveland turned the ball over 20 times. Compared to four for the Warriors.

"Twenty turnovers in the Finals definitely is not going to get it done," said Cleveland point guard Kyrie Irving.

For NBA fans, grumbly and otherwise, the wait is almost over. The Finals, finally, begin tonight.

The grumbling has accompanied the Cleveland Cavaliers' and Golden State Warriors' respective romps through the postseason. Golden State is 12-0 and has won those 12 playoff games by an average of more than 16 points. Cleveland is 12-1 ... and has annihilated opponents at a slightly lower clip – a 15 point average margin of victory.

THE NBA IS DOOMED!! IT'S TWO SUPERTEAMS AND NO ONE ELSE!!

So goes the argument heard throughout the 2017 playoffs.

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This is WEEKEND EDITION from NPR News. I'm Linda Wertheimer, and time for sports.

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Now let's remember a powerful influence on pro football from David's home city of Pittsburgh.

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By now, it's fair to say South Carolina is a better team than Mississippi State. The Gamecocks' 67-55 win in the national title game Sunday was South Carolina's third — and most convincing — win over the Bulldogs this season.

The women's first basketball championship is all the more impressive since the team lost senior center Alaina Coates to an ankle injury before the tournament started.

In a hectic finish, the North Carolina Tar Heels were able to hold off the Oregon Ducks, 77-76.

North Carolina now advances one step closer to a redemptive title after losing at the buzzer in last season's championship game. This time they'll play Gonzaga Monday night.

Down the stretch, with the Tar Heels holding a slim lead, the semifinal didn't have the feel of a game that close. Perhaps because a series of timeouts disrupted the rhythm; perhaps because there wasn't a sense that the Ducks could make a final push to get past the Tar Heels.

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The NCAA Division I men's basketball tournament begins today with a game, if history holds, that will have absolutely no bearing on the ultimate tournament outcome in early April.

The University of New Orleans and Mount St. Mary's University kick things off at the First Four in Dayton, Ohio. Both teams are No. 16 seeds, the lowest, and they're playing for a shot at the highest seed. The winner moves into the main draw to play Villanova — the tournament's overall No. 1.

No 16 seed has ever beaten a 1 seed.

College basketball fans — the choice is yours. Fill out your bracket now if you haven't already. Or experience angst until Thursday, when the first round of the men's NCAA tournament starts. On Sunday, the selection committee set the field for the annual descent into March Madness.

While the tournament officially starts Tuesday with the First Four in Dayton, Ohio, the first round — and where ballots start counting — is Thursday.

The four No. 1 seeds are defending champion Villanova, North Carolina, Kansas and Gonzaga.

Traditionally, states that rely on the timber industry, like Oregon, haven't had much to cheer in the last 30 years. Modernization of mills, economic changes and huge declines in logging led to a long downturn in the industry. During last year's presidential campaign, candidate Donald Trump promised to bring back timber in Oregon.

Some in the industry are hopeful, but others aren't waiting. They're moving ahead with innovations they hope are the key to survival.

Tall Timber

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