Flo­res’ long HOF wait could be near­ing end

The Mercury News Weekend - - C2 - By Jon Becker [email protected]­yare­anews­group.com The Associated Press con­trib­uted to this re­port.

Af­ter nine years of dis­ap­point­ment, former Raiders coach Tom Flo­res moved one gi­ant step closer Thurs­day night to pos­si­ble in­duc­tion into the Pro Football Hall of Fame.

The two- time Su­per Bowl-win­ning coach and 49ers gen­eral man­ager John Lynch, a former safety, were among the 15 modern era fi­nal­ists for in­duc­tion in Can­ton, Ohio, the Hall of Fame an­nounced.

“It’s ex­cit­ing. But I don’t even know how to act,” Flo­res said by phone. “I’ve never been this far be­fore. Peo­ple say, ‘ How do you feel?’ Well, I don’t know yet.”

Ex- Cal star tight end Tony Gon­za­lez, on the bal­lot for the first time, joined Flo­res and Lynch as fi­nal­ists, as did former Raiders de­fen­sive line­man Richard Sey­mour.

Lynch, a hard-hit­ter from Stan­ford who was a nine­time Pro Bowl player and a Su­per Bowl champ with the Buc­ca­neers, is mak­ing his first ap­pear­ance as a fi­nal­ist.

Gon­za­lez, cor­ner­back Champ Bai­ley and safety Ed Reed are the only first-year el­i­gi­ble play­ers to make the Hall’s fi­nal list. Flo­res’ road to in­clu­sion among the fi­nal 15 has been quite a bit longer.

Flo­res was the first mi­nor­ity NFL coach to win a ti­tle and the first to win a Su­per Bowl ti­tle as a player, as­sis­tant and a head coach. He won nearly 70 per­cent of his games as the Raiders coach dur­ing the 1980- 85 sea­sons, in­clud­ing a pair of Su­per Bowl wins. But those cre­den­tials didn’t get him very close to Can­ton. Be­fore this year, Flo­res had never even made the bal­lot cut from 125 down to 25 semi­fi­nal­ists.

“I’m kind of a low-key guy any­ways, but to go on from 25 to 15, I’m pretty ex­cited about that,” Flo­res said. “We’ll see what hap­pens. I can’t get too over­whelmed yet be­cause we’re not there yet.”

The next hur­dle for the 15 fi­nal­ists will be on Feb. 2 in At­lanta, the day be­fore Su­per Bowl LIII when the Hall of Fame’s Board of Se­lec­tors whit­tles the list down to a max­i­mum of five en­shri­nees for 2019’s class. There are nine other fi­nal­ists who are also fac­ing the long wait along with Flo­res, Lynch, Gon­za­lez, Bai­ley and Reed: Former 49ers re­ceiver Isaac Bruce, safety Steve At­wa­ter, tackle Tony Boselli, cen­ter Kevin Mawae, cor­ner­back Ty Law, run­ning back Edger­rin James, guard Steve Hutchinson, guard Alan Faneca, along with the late coach Don Co­ryell. The fi­nal­ists also in­clude three men pre­vi­ously named fi­nal­ists from other com­mit­tees — se­niors com­mit­tee can­di­date and former Chiefs safety Johnny Robinson, and Bron­cos owner Pat Bowlen and Cow­boys exec Gil Brandt from the con­trib­u­tors com­mit­tee.

Col­lege basketball

USF HOLDS OFF GAELS » Frankie Fer­rari had 19 points, Ja­ma­ree Bouyea had a key free throw and blocked shot in the fi­nal eight sec­onds and red-hot USF held off Saint Mary’s 76-72 in the West Coast Con­fer­ence opener for both teams on Thurs­day night.

USF (13-2) blocked two shots in the fi­nal half-minute. Jor­dan Ford led Saint Mary’s (9-7) with 24 points.

BOL’S COL­LEGE CA­REER OVER » Bol Bol’s lone sea­son at Ore­gon is over af­ter nine games due to a left foot in­jury.

The son of late former War­riors player Manute Bol, Bol was con­sid­ered one of col­lege basketball’s top in­com­ing fresh­man prior to the 2018-19 sea­son and is pro­jected as an NBA lottery pick. Bol an­nounced on Twit­ter on Thurs­day that his col­lege ca­reer was over. PENN STATE COACH APOL­O­GIZES FOR SHOV­ING PLAYER » Penn State coach Patrick Cham­bers apol­o­gized fol­low­ing Thurs­day night’s loss at No. 2 Michi­gan af­ter he ap­peared to shove one of his play­ers dur­ing a time­out.

With 10:52 left in the first half, the ESPN broad­cast showed footage of a fired- up Cham­bers in a hud­dle, reach­ing out with one arm and ap­pear­ing to push fresh­man guard Myles Dread in the chest. Cham­bers ad­dressed the in­ci­dent in his postgame news con­fer­ence, with­out be­ing asked about it.

“I ab­so­lutely love, love Myles Dread. ... I’ve known him for­ever, him and his par­ents,” Cham­bers said. “I apol­o­gize to him. I was just try­ing to chal­lenge him, just try­ing to get the best out of him, and hope­fully I’ll do it dif­fer­ently next time. No, not hope­fully. I will do it a dif­fer­ent way next time.”

NBA

ROUGH HOME­COM­ING FOR LEONARD » San An­to­nio Spurs fans wel­comed back Kawhi Leonard with thun­der­ous jeers in a 125-107 vic­tory over the Toronto Rap­tors on Thurs­day night in a game that saw De­Mar DeRozan, one of the play­ers traded for Leonard, become the first Spurs player to record a triple-dou­ble at home since Tim Dun­can in 2003. DeRozan had 21 points, 14 re­bounds and 11 as­sists.

Leonard scored 21 points on 8-for-13 shoot­ing, but the anger the Spurs’ fans show­ered on him seemed to im­pact the MVP can­di­date. Leonard had to take a step back at the free throw line and com­pose him­self amid chants of “Traitor! Traitor!” and “Quit­ter! Quit­ter!” from the ca­pac­ity crowd that adored him dur­ing his seven sea­sons in San An­to­nio.

Leonard forced his way out of San An­to­nio in a trade that yielded DeRozan and Jakob Poeltl from Toronto for Leonard and Danny Green.

Leonard was booed heav­ily from the mo­ment he walked onto the court for warmup. The boos con­tin­ued dur­ing a pregame video trib­ute and player in­tro­duc­tions, when­ever he touched the ball and as he walked off the court fol­low­ing the lop­sided loss.

As the game ended, Gregg Popovich and Leonard em­braced in a long hug and the Spurs coach led his former star to San An­to­nio’s bench to greet as­sis­tant coach Et­tore Messina. TRAIL BLAZ­ERS ORIG­I­NAL OWNER DIES » Larry Wein­berg, one of the founders and orig­i­nal own­ers of the Port­land Trail Blaz­ers, has died. He was 92.

Wein­berg was one of three part­ners who got the fran­chise started as an NBA ex­pan­sion team in 1970 to the tune of $3.7 mil­lion. Wein­berg, a vet­eran of World War II and real es­tate devel­oper, sold the team to the late Paul Allen in 1988 for $70 mil­lion. GRIZ­ZLIES GET HOL­I­DAY » The strug­gling Mem­phis Griz­zlies ac­quired guard Justin Hol­i­day from the Chicago Bulls for guards Mar Shon Brooks and Wayne Selden Jr.

Baseball

ROBERT­SON JOINS PHILLIES’ ‘PEN » Re­liever David Robert­son and the Philadel­phia Phillies have agreed to a $23 mil­lion, two-year con­tact. The 33-year- old right-han­der went 8-3 with a 3.23 ERA and five saves in 69 games last sea­son for the New York Yan­kees.

NHL

COY­OTES’ SCH­MALTZ GOES ON IR » Ari­zona Coy­otes cen­ter Nick Sch­maltz is out in­def­i­nitely af­ter be­ing placed on in­jured re­serve with a lower-body in­jury.

Sch­maltz has given Ari­zona an of­fen­sive spark since be­ing ac­quired in a trade with Chicago on Nov. 25, scor­ing five goals with adding nine as­sists in 17 games.

ERIC GAY — THE ASSOCIATED PRESS

The Rap­tors’ Kawhi Leonard, cen­ter, is blocked as he drives against the Spurs’ De­Mar DeRozan, left, and Der­rick White. Leonard scored 21 points in a 125-107 home­com­ing loss.

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