Christopher Trotman/Getty Images(NEW YORK) -- Phoenix Suns guard Goran Dragic was named the NBA’s Most Improved Player on Wednesday.
The 27-year-old Dragic received 408 out of 1,134 points, followed by Indiana Pacers guard Lance Stephenson with 158 points and forward Anthony Davis of the New Orleans Pelicans with 155 points.
In the 2012-13 season, Dragic averaged 14.7 points and 7.4 assists per game. This year, he improved his scoring average to 20.3 points per game.
The Suns finished the year with a record of 48-34, which was a 23-game improvement from the previous season. They were narrowly beat out by the Dallas Mavericks for the final playoff spot in the Western Conference.
Ron Vesely/MLB Photos via Getty Images(CHICAGO) -- Chicago's Wrigley Field is all about tradition - the ivy, the hand-worked scoreboard, the curse of the billy goat - and on its 100th birthday Wednesday, the field and its fans relived in that history.
Chosen to throw out the first pitch at the game between the Cubs and Arizona Diamondbacks was Sue Quigg, the grand-niece of former Cubs owner Charles Weeghman -- the field was originally called Weegham Park. And the ball was the same one that her grandmother, Dessa Weeghman, threw a century ago to begin a game between the Chicago Federals and the Kansas City Packers to inaugurate the ballpark.
Much has changed in the game and the world outside the stadium walls, but park itself, which was rebranded as Wrigley Field in 1926, remains in many ways, untouched.
Through several renovations, the steel and brick frame of the original structure remains intact, while the same strain of ivy and manually operated scoreboard constructed in 1937 are among the many charming reminders of bygone days where fans would turn out to games with picnics, drink Old Style ale and chow down on classic Chicago Dogs.
"These are the things that have made Wrigley Field stand out as one of the best ballparks in the country,” Julian Green, the Cubs’ vice president of communications, told ABC News. “It's also why its hailed as a sort of baseball cathedral.”
The last time the team won the World Series was in 1908, but Wrigley Park has continued to thrive as a cultural and historic landmark through the years. It stands as the second-oldest ballpark in the Major Leagues alongside Fenway Park (the oldest). Both are revered as hallowed ground by ballplayers, fans and pundits who observe the traditions and hold inauspicious beliefs about the Cubs’ long-held losing streak.
The field has also been marked by several moments ingrained indelibly in the minds of those old enough to remember them, and in numerous films and history books that memorialize them. One much-recalled moment is the case of the goat of Wrigley Field.
Legend has it that after a man's goat was kicked out of a World Series game in 1945 for being too stinky, the man allegedly threw up his arms and proclaimed that “The Cubs ain’t gonna win no more” World Series. The team lost that day to the Detroit Tigers and never recovered. The Curse of the Billy Goat to this day hangs over the heads of stadium workers who never anticipated the decades of hircine-inflicted karma to follow.
The field has also be popularized in the public imagination by The Blues Brothers, who gave the stadium’s address to police as their own in their classic 1980 film, while Ferris Bueller also famously went there on his day off six years later in the American coming-of-age flick.
Ronald Martinez/Getty Images(NEW YORK) -- Washington Redskins quarterback Robert Griffin III will drive the pace car at NASCAR's Sprint Cup race at Richmond International Raceway on Saturday.
Griffin III will go through pace car training with Dale Earnhardt Jr. this week, the raceway announced on Wednesday.
The former Heisman trophy winner was recruited by Earnhardt Jr. via Twitter last month and will also take a garage tour with NASCAR team owner and former Redskins coach Joe Gibbs.
Griffin burst onto the scene in 2012 with his electrifying play, and led the Redskins to an NFC East title. Still, the team fell apart in 2013 and Griffin struggled due to his recovery from a torn ACL as well as friction with former head coach Mike Shanahan.
The Redskins hired head coach Jay Gruden during the offseason to help improve on a 3-13 record last year.
Ronald Martinez/Getty Images(NEW YORK) -- Phoenix Suns guard Goran Dragic was named the NBA's most improved player, the league announced Wednesday.
Dragic averaged 20.3 points a game this season along with 5.9 assists and 3.2 rebounds.
Dragic received 408 of a possible 1,134 points, including 65 first-place votes to take home the award.
"Congratulations to @Goran_Dragic winning Most Improved. He is a elite player. I'm glad that I've had a chance to see him grow over the yrs," Suns teammate Channing Frye tweeted after the announcement.
Lance Stephenson of the Indiana Pacers finished with 158 points and 13 first-place votes and was followed by Anthony Davis of the New Orleans Pelicans with 155 points and 16 first-place votes.
The Suns missed the playoffs after finishing 48-34, and head coach Jeff Hornacek finished second to Gregg Popovich in coach of the year voting on Tuesday.
Jim McIsaac/Getty Images(NEW YORK) -- New York Knicks team president Phil Jackson wants people who believe in his vision moving forward in 2014.
Jackson addressed the team's vacant head coaching position on Wednesday and shot down the report in the New York Daily News that said owner James Dolan was not keeping his promise of letting Jackson call the shots.
"He's been loyal to that promise," Jackson said. "He's been very true to his word up to this point."
The Knicks fired head coach Mike Woodson on Monday after spending two seasons with the club.
Reports surfaced that Jackson could bring in his former player with the Bulls, Steve Kerr.
"We meet very similar space about coaching in a lot of ways," Jackson said of Kerr. "I know philosophically we have a strong connection."
"Whether he's able to take a job like this, I don't know," he continued. "I will get in a conversation with him later on this month and talk to (Kerr) about it."
Jackson said that his girlfriend and Lakers part-owner and president Jeanie Buss suggested he take over as head coach.
"If there's anyone that can encourage me to do anything, it's Jeanie Buss, but I was able to withstand her arguments the whole time," Jackson joked.
Jackson said that he'd like to find a new head coach before July.
Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images(LEXINGTON, Ky.) -- After just one season at Kentucky, forward Julius Randle announced he is leaving the school to declare for the NBA draft.
The 6-foot-9 Randle announced his decision with just five days left before the deadline for underclassmen to declare for the draft. He helped the Wildcats go 29-11 this past season before losing to Connecticut in the NCAA final.
"Kentucky will always have a special place in my heart, but growing up as a kid, there's always been my dream to play in the NBA, and there's no better opportunity for me to achieve that than now," Randle said.
Randle averaged 15.0 points and 10.4 rebounds this season and was voted to The Associated Press' All-America third team. He could very well be a lottery pick in the June 26 draft.
Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images(CHICAGO) -- Bradley Beal scored 26 points and grabbed seven rebounds as the Washington Wizards topped the Chicago Bulls 101-99 in overtime to take a 2-0 lead in their first-round series.
Nene added 17 points as the Wizards rallied from 10 down in the fourth quarter to steal their second consecutive road victory.
With 2.4 seconds remaining in overtime, Kirk Hinrich was fouled by Nene on a drive to the hoop and had a chance to tie the game. After missing the first free throw, he deliberately missed the second. Trevor Ariza pulled down the rebound to seal the win for Washington.
D.J. Augustin led the Bulls in defeat with 25 points, while Taj Gibson added 22 points and 10 rebounds. After dropping the first two games of the series at home, the Bulls will travel to Washington in desperate need of a victory. Game 3 will be played on Friday night at the Verizon Center.
Christopher Trotman/Getty Images(INDIANAPOLIS) -- Paul George was not going to let the Indiana Pacers continue to struggle.
George had 27 points, 10 rebounds, and six assists as the Pacers rallied to defeat the Atlanta Hawks 101-85 on Tuesday night in Game 2 of their first-round playoff series.
"That's why he was in the MVP conversation early," Pacers coach Frank Vogel said. "He always does those types of things, guarding the best perimeter player, rebounding the ball, deflecting the ball. His hands were all over the place. It makes him one of the most complete players in the game when he plays like he did tonight."
The Pacers trailed 38-27 during the second quarter and were down four at halftime. They came out surging in the second half, outscoring Atlanta 31-13 in the third quarter to seize control of the game.
Paul Millsap led the Hawks with 19 points. Game 3 will be played on Thursday night in Atlanta. The Pacers have only two wins there since December 2006.
Jason Wise/MLB Photos via Getty Images(WASHINGTON) -- Albert Pujols hit his 500th career home run in thrilling fashion.
Pujols became the first major leaguer to hit his 499th and 500th homers in the same game, leading the Los Angeles Angels to a 7-2 win over the Washington Nationals Tuesday night. He also drove in five runs.
"It tastes better with a win," Pujols said after becoming the 26th player in big league history to reach the milestone. "I knew this year, it was going to happen, whether it was tonight, tomorrow, two months from now. So my goal was just to prepare myself every day to try to help this organization win."
Tyler Skaggs (2-0) gave up two runs in seven innings for the win. Pujols now has eight home runs this season, all in the past 13 games. His 19 RBIs lead the team.