Tom Goldman

As the country starts to get back into its most popular professional team sport, there is a reminder of how dangerous football can be.

An updated study published Tuesday by the Journal of the American Medical Association on football players and the degenerative brain disease chronic traumatic encephalopathy reveals a striking result among NFL players.

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And now it's time for sports.

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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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Time now for sports.

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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.

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Frank Deford, NPR's longest-running sports commentator, announced Wednesday that he's retiring after 37 years on Morning Edition — 37 years of entertaining, educating and yes, annoying some listeners, like any good commentator should.

The warnings from Frank Deford arrived via email, days before our scheduled interview. When I get to his third floor apartment in Key West, Fla., Deford cautioned, I'll be greeted by a screeching dog.

He was right, although Miss Snickers, Deford's yorkiepoo rescue, sounded more ferocious than she actually was.

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

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Updated at 9:30 p.m. ET

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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And, boy, do we have a sports story today.

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Ah, time for sports.

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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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At long last, time for sports.

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Finally, today, they will play football.

The Atlanta Falcons take on the New England Patriots in Super Bowl 51.

After an NFL season of sagging TV ratings, it's expected today's game, in Houston, will do what Super Bowls always do — turn 60 minutes of football into a national holiday.

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