Bernard Hopkins Breaks Record, Lies About Choice of Attire, Does It All "His Way"

Bernard Hopkins Breaks Record, Lies About Choice of Attire, Does It All "His Way"

Say what you will about Bernard Hopkins' penchant for outlandish commentary, but don't ever question his ability, desire or resolve inside the ring. With his victory by unanimous decision over Jean Pascal in Montreal Saturday night, the forty-six year old Hopkins became the new WBC Light Heavyweight Champion, supplanting former record-holder George Foreman as the oldest man to claim a world championship in the history of professional boxing.

Prior the the fight, and as if he needed anymore heat from Pascal's hometown fans at the Bell Centre in Montreal, the Philadelphia-native had stated his intent to wear a replica No. 16 Bobby Clarke jersey during his introduction and procession to the ring. Did the Executioner splatter the blood of a French-Canadian eighteen years his junior while wearing the colors of the Orange & Black on Saturday night?

Nope. Didn't Happen. Though Hopkins entrance was wildly entertaining, the new champ wore a traditional ring jacket to the squared circle, saving the Clarke jersey for a member of his entourage.

While surely disappointing for some Flyers fans, the entrance did deliver. Hopkins, dressed in his trademark executioner's mask, was serenaded to the ring by a custom rendition of Frank Sinatra's "My Way," a cover replete with details of Bernard's impending victory, age-defying athleticism and career-long yearning to do things "his way," which evidently includes dropping to the mat for short series of taunting push-ups at the beginning of the seventh round.

Speaking of doing things on his time and in his own way, Hopkins declared after the fight that an end to his professional career remains a long way off.

From the Associated Press, "I won't retire until I'm 50," Hopkins said.

And from Sports Illustrated's Bryan Armen Graham, "I'm going to keep fighting like this until I leave this game and, trust me, I will not be punch drunk, beat up or broke," said a beaming Hopkins during his in-ring interview.

For all the seemingly insane remarks Bernard has made over the years, his promise not be broke is one you can take to the bank. Famously, perhaps even notoriously, frugal, Hopkins rarely turns down an opportunity to pull his Costco membership card from his wallet for all to see. This S.I. piece, from September 2004 with Atlanta Falcons' quarterback Michael Vick ironically enough on the cover, details Bernard's penny-pinching in comparison to the extravagant excess of some of his boxing peers—Mike Tyson, for example.

It's just yet another reminder of the ways in which Bernard Hopkins is a different kind of athlete. From a past criminal conviction to his fiscal responsibility to his controversial comments on race to his other-worldly longevity, the Executioner is part of an exceptionally rare group of athlete's to arguably do more for their legacy past the age of forty than before it. Bearing all those traits in mind and plenty more, there's no question that Hopkins has done, and will continue to do, things "His Way."

If we can find a copy, we'll get you last evening's rendition of "My Way." In the meantime, it appears as though the version he employed during the first Pascal fight, in which he fought the former-champion to a decided draw, is about the same, if not identical to that which he used last night. It was awesome on both occasions.

Update: Got it, with thanks to Matt P.

Union emotional after Maurice Edu's season-ending injury

USA Today Images

Union emotional after Maurice Edu's season-ending injury

CHESTER, Pa. — On the eve of his comeback after missing nearly 13 months with a left tibia stress fracture and other related injuries, Union midfielder Maurice Edu fractured his left fibula on Saturday, keeping him out for the 2016 playoffs and beyond.

“I was trying to take the shot on goal and my foot got stuck in the turf,” Edu said Sunday, in his blue Union-issued suit and supported by crutches. “My ankle rolled and twisted and it kind of snapped a little bit. I heard it crack, and a lot of pain from there. I got a scan afterward, and there was a break.”

There's no timetable his return.

Edu, 30, has spent over a calendar year fighting various injuries that have kept him out of game action. His trouble began on Sept. 30, 2015, when he played through the U.S. Open Cup final with a partially torn groin and sports hernia. It was during Edu’s recovery from those injuries that he developed a stress fracture.

"A little bit frustration. A lot of frustration, to be honest," he said. "But all I can do now is get back to work, focus on the positives and make sure that my situation isn’t a distraction from the team."

Edu’s teammates were equally devastated by the news. Edu, the Union captain when healthy, is popular and well-respected in the locker room.

"I feel so bad for him," said Alejandro Bedoya, who wore a dedication to Edu under his jersey on Sunday. "He’s one of my good friends, so I was looking forward to playing alongside him. I know how hard he’s worked to get back, and to see him go out like that, it’s heartbreaking. I’m sad for his loss and I hope he stays strong."

Edu, who has been with the Union since 2014, returned to training in July and played three conditioning appearances with the Union’s USL team, Bethlehem Steel FC. He was on the bench for the Union’s last three games and was set to make his first appearance in over a year against the New York Red Bulls on Sunday, a game the Union eventually lost, 2-0 (see game story).

"We’re gutted for Mo," Union manager Jim Curtin said. "He was slated to start today. It’s real upsetting because he’s worked so hard to get back on the field. It’s been a tough 2016 for him, but I know he’ll come back stronger."

While he was visibly shaken by recent injury, Edu is driven to return.

"What happened, happened," Edu said. "I have no control over that. The only thing I do have control over is my next steps from here, how I prepare myself mentally and emotionally and how I continue to support this group."

Point guard Joel Embiid? Sixers' big man works on leading break

Point guard Joel Embiid? Sixers' big man works on leading break

CAMDEN, N.J. — Toward the end of Sixers practice Monday, Joel Embiid participated in a fast-break drill … by himself.

Embiid brought the ball up the floor in a one-on-none situation against members of the Sixers' coaching staff. 

He's already showed off his three-point shooting skills and now he’s running the break? 

“I’ve always thought I was a point guard,” Embiid joked. “So that’s something that I want to do.”

In all seriousness, Embiid worked on his ball-handling skills during his two-year rehab from foot injuries. It’s not that he wants to become an unconventional point guard, it’s that he is striving to be an all-around threat. Embiid focused on recording his first assist, as an example, during the preseason. 

“I think I’m a complete player,” he said. “I think I can do everything on the court. Doing that shows I think it can help my team, too, in other aspects.” 

With running the break comes attacking the basket in traffic. It could be an anxious moment for a coach to watch a player fresh off two years of foot injuries to drive in a crowd. Sixers head coach Brett Brown said he has to be past the feeling of holding his breath whenever he watches Embiid do so. 

“We are so responsible with how we use him and play him,” Brown said. “It’s like us with children. They go out for the night. You’re nervous, but they go out for the night. He plays basketball for a living, and so he plays. We’ve just got to keep putting him in responsible environments and monitoring his minutes.”

As a point guard, T.J. McConnell appreciates Embiid’s skills, especially given his size. 

“To the people that try to pick him up when he brings the ball up the floor, good luck,” McConnell said. “It’s pretty incredible to see.” 

Robert Covington watched Embiid practice his ball handling during his lengthy recovery. He has seen improvements and likes the dynamic it creates for the team on the break. 

“His handle is really tight and then he’s really strong with it as well,” Covington said. “We’re very comfortable with him pushing the ball.”

That being said, Brown isn’t about to anoint Embiid into a point-center role. He knows Embiid’s desire to be active all over the court, but just as he’s said he doesn’t intend for Embiid to become a go-to three-point shooter, he also wants Embiid to focus on his true position. 

“Joel likes to be a player,” Brown said. “He wants to be a guard. He wants to shoot a three. He wants to be a post player. He wants to play. And we all have seen enough to think he actually can. 

“There are times that he rebounds and leads a break, we want him being aware of get off it, get it to a point guard more than not. I don’t mind him coming down in trail if he’s got daylight, him shooting some. He’s got a wonderful touch and I’ve seen it for two years. 

“... All over the place, I want to grow him. I’m not just going to bucket him up. I still say, like I say to him, 'At the end of the day, you’re a seven-foot-two post player. Post player.'”

Watch Embiid running the floor here: