Dennis Rodman

Dennis Rodman says Kim Jong Un asked him to train North Korea players for 2016 Olympics

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North Korea may have Dennis Rodman to thank if it can qualify a basketball team into the Olympics for the first time in 2016.

The country’s leader, Kim Jong Un, asked Rodman to train his nation’s players, according to The Associated Press.

Rodman would seem to have his work cut out for him. North Korea didn’t even take part in this year’s FIBA Asia Championships, a qualifier for the 2014 World Championships, which are now called the World Cup. It did make the quarterfinals of the 2010 Asian Games.

FIBA ranks 84 basketball-playing nations. North Korea is not one of them.

FIBA explains why at the bottom of its rankings:

“The countries not listed above have all 0 points and are therefore all positioned, with the same rank, after the last country mentioned.”

It wasn’t the leader’s only request of Rodman, 52, the bizarre longtime NBA rebound king who never participated in the Olympics.

Check this line from the AP:

Rodman, holding a cigar and wearing the shirt of a vodka company and a hat of a betting one that is funding the event, says Kim Jong Un also offered to allow the Hall of Famer to write a book about him.

Rodman, who has visited Kim twice in North Korea, announced another planned trip in January to stage two exhibition basketball games. He hopes to have stars such as Dream Team Olympians Scottie Pippen and Karl Malone will play, according to the AP.

Video: Bolt wins final race of the season; Diamond League recap

Soccer star Carli Lloyd and coach Jill Ellis nominated for FIFA honors

Jill Ellis, Carli Lloyd
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FIFA announced today that Carli Lloyd, the midfielder on the U.S. women’s national soccer team whose hat trick in the World Cup final helped the US win gold, was nominated for the Women’s World Player of the Year award.

The woman who coached the USWNT to a 5-2 World Cup victory over Japan, Jill Ellis, was nominated in the FIFA World Coach of the Year for Women’s Football category.

Nominated alongside Lloyd are Japan’s Aya Miyama, a member of the silver-medal winning team at the London Olympics, and Germany’s Celia Sasic, a bronze medalist at the 2008 Beijing Olympics.

Both Lloyd and Miyama are expected to represent their countries again at the 2016 Rio Olympics, while Sasic retired after the 2015 World Cup.

Only two American women have been named the FIFA World Player of the Year–Abby Wambach in 2012 (when Lloyd was also a semifinalist) and Mia Hamm in both 2001 and 2002.

Lloyd is already racking up a long list of honors in 2015. In addition to earning the Golden Ball Award at the World Cup, she’s nominated by Sports Illustrated for Sportsman of the Year and will be honored on December 2nd by the March of Dimes as their Sportswoman of the Year.

Ellis has been USWNT head coach since May 2014, but has a long Olympic history with the team. At the 2000 Sydney Olympics she was a scout, and then was assistant coach to Pia Sundhage at the 2008 and 2012 Olympics. She also served as the interim coach at the end of 2012 after Sundhage left to coach for Sweden, and again when Tom Sermanni was fired in April 2014. She is expected to be the head coach at the 2016 Games.

The other nominees for FIFA World Coach of the Year are England’s Mark Sampson and Japan’s Norio Sasak.

The awards are voted on by team captains, coaches and the media, and will be announced on January 11th. The Ballon d’Or winner will also be announced. The three finalists for the top honor on the men’s side are Neymar, Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo.


Best photos from USPA National Skydiving Championships

USPA National Skydiving Championships
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More than 500 skydivers competed at the United States Parachute Association (USPA) National Skydiving Championships, the largest annual skydiving competition in the world.

The best jumps from the USPA National Skydiving Championships will air tonight on Universal HD at 7:00 p.m. ET.

Skydiving is not an Olympic sport, but several skydivers have made cameos at the Olympics.

Dozens of free-falling parachutists formed the five Olympic rings in the sky during the Opening Ceremony of the 1988 Games.

Then at the Opening Ceremony of the London 2012 Olympics, stunt doubles playing Queen Elizabeth II and actor Daniel Craig leapt from a helicopter and parachuted into the Olympic Stadium (VIDEO).

Below are images via the USPA, captured by David Cherry and Martin Lemay:

USPA National Skydiving Championships

USPA National Skydiving Championships

USPA National Skydiving Championships

USPA National Skydiving Championships

USPA National Skydiving Championships