Heat hold off Knicks 127-120

Heat hold off Knicks 127-120

MIAMI (AP) — Jimmy Butler stepped back onto the court in his usual time slot, midway through the fourth quarter, with the Miami Heat clinging to a one-point lead.

Not even three minutes later, the lead was 12 — and the Heat were on their way to a needed win.

Butler finished with 35 points and nine assists, Tyler Herro scored 14 of his 22 in the pivotal final quarter and the Heat moved closer to escaping play-in tournament range by beating the New York Knicks 127-120 on Wednesday night.

“Fourth quarter is winning time,” Herro said. “That’s when my scoring is needed most.”

Herro made four 3-pointers in the fourth for the Heat, who led by 11 in the third, lost the lead briefly, then took the lead back for good with a 16-2 run midway through the final quarter.

Herro and Max Strus each had a pair of 3′s during the clinching run for Miami (40-34), which is now just percentage points behind Brooklyn (39-33) in the race for the sixth and final guaranteed playoff spot in the Eastern Conference. The Nets visit the Heat on Saturday.

“Must-win,” Herro said.

Gabe Vincent scored 19, Bam Adebayo scored 15, Kyle Lowry had 14 and Strus finished with 11 for Miami — in what became the 700th career win for coach Erik Spoelstra.
New York’s Julius Randle, coming off a 57-point effort Monday against Minnesota, was held to 15. RJ Barrett scored 26 for the Knicks, who got 25 from Jalen Brunson and 22 from Quentin Grimes.

The Knicks cut what was a 12-point deficit with 3:54 left down to five on a 3-pointer by Barrett with 42.2 seconds remaining.

Butler made a pair of free throws to push the lead back to seven, Brunson missed two free throws with 22.3 seconds left and that essentially sealed matters for Miami.

New York shot 71% in the fourth — but allowed Miami to shoot 67% in that period, and the Heat were 6 for 7 on 3′s in the final quarter.

“They played really well,” Knicks coach Tom Thibodeau said. “I thought it was a hard-fought game, but our defense obviously wasn’t good enough.”

TIP-INS

Knicks: New York played the front end of its 12th and final back-to-back of the season. … The Knicks have trailed by double digits in four consecutive games, tying their second-longest such streak of the season. New York faced deficits of at least 10 points in five straight games from Oct. 28 through Nov. 5.

Heat: Cody Zeller (broken nose) missed his fifth consecutive game. … Butler played in his 59th game of the season. That’s the most he has logged in any of his four Heat seasons; he played in 58 of a possible 73 in the pandemic-altered 2019-20 season.

REMEMBERING WILLIS

The Heat had a pregame tribute and moment of silence dedicated to the life of Knicks legend Willis Reed, who died Tuesday.

“Obviously, we all know what he meant and continues to mean and will always mean to our organization, the city and the NBA,” said Thibodeau, adding “he embodied everything you want a Knick to be.”

Thibodeau devoted the entirety of his pregame availability to telling stories about Reed and detailing his interactions with him.

During the Knicks broadcast on MSG Networks, analyst and fellow Knicks legend Walt “Clyde” Frazier also raved about Reed — his friend and former teammate. “He made me the player who I am and the man that I am off the court as well,” Frazier said.

UP NEXT

Knicks: Visit Orlando on Thursday.

New York Knicks guard Jalen Brunson (11) dribbles the ball while being guarded by Miami Heat forward Haywood Highsmith (24) during the first half of an NBA basketball game, Wednesday, March 22, 2023, in Miami, Fla. (AP Photo/Michael Laughlin)

Heat hold off Knicks 127-120

Heat hold off Knicks 127-120

MIAMI (AP) — Jimmy Butler stepped back onto the court in his usual time slot, midway through the fourth quarter, with the Miami Heat clinging to a one-point lead.

Not even three minutes later, the lead was 12 — and the Heat were on their way to a needed win.

Butler finished with 35 points and nine assists, Tyler Herro scored 14 of his 22 in the pivotal final quarter and the Heat moved closer to escaping play-in tournament range by beating the New York Knicks 127-120 on Wednesday night.

“Fourth quarter is winning time,” Herro said. “That’s when my scoring is needed most.”

Herro made four 3-pointers in the fourth for the Heat, who led by 11 in the third, lost the lead briefly, then took the lead back for good with a 16-2 run midway through the final quarter.

Herro and Max Strus each had a pair of 3′s during the clinching run for Miami (40-34), which is now just percentage points behind Brooklyn (39-33) in the race for the sixth and final guaranteed playoff spot in the Eastern Conference. The Nets visit the Heat on Saturday.

“Must-win,” Herro said.

Gabe Vincent scored 19, Bam Adebayo scored 15, Kyle Lowry had 14 and Strus finished with 11 for Miami — in what became the 700th career win for coach Erik Spoelstra.
New York’s Julius Randle, coming off a 57-point effort Monday against Minnesota, was held to 15. RJ Barrett scored 26 for the Knicks, who got 25 from Jalen Brunson and 22 from Quentin Grimes.

The Knicks cut what was a 12-point deficit with 3:54 left down to five on a 3-pointer by Barrett with 42.2 seconds remaining.

Butler made a pair of free throws to push the lead back to seven, Brunson missed two free throws with 22.3 seconds left and that essentially sealed matters for Miami.

New York shot 71% in the fourth — but allowed Miami to shoot 67% in that period, and the Heat were 6 for 7 on 3′s in the final quarter.

“They played really well,” Knicks coach Tom Thibodeau said. “I thought it was a hard-fought game, but our defense obviously wasn’t good enough.”

TIP-INS

Knicks: New York played the front end of its 12th and final back-to-back of the season. … The Knicks have trailed by double digits in four consecutive games, tying their second-longest such streak of the season. New York faced deficits of at least 10 points in five straight games from Oct. 28 through Nov. 5.

Heat: Cody Zeller (broken nose) missed his fifth consecutive game. … Butler played in his 59th game of the season. That’s the most he has logged in any of his four Heat seasons; he played in 58 of a possible 73 in the pandemic-altered 2019-20 season.

REMEMBERING WILLIS

The Heat had a pregame tribute and moment of silence dedicated to the life of Knicks legend Willis Reed, who died Tuesday.

“Obviously, we all know what he meant and continues to mean and will always mean to our organization, the city and the NBA,” said Thibodeau, adding “he embodied everything you want a Knick to be.”

Thibodeau devoted the entirety of his pregame availability to telling stories about Reed and detailing his interactions with him.

During the Knicks broadcast on MSG Networks, analyst and fellow Knicks legend Walt “Clyde” Frazier also raved about Reed — his friend and former teammate. “He made me the player who I am and the man that I am off the court as well,” Frazier said.

UP NEXT

Knicks: Visit Orlando on Thursday.

New York Knicks guard Jalen Brunson (11) dribbles the ball while being guarded by Miami Heat forward Haywood Highsmith (24) during the first half of an NBA basketball game, Wednesday, March 22, 2023, in Miami, Fla. (AP Photo/Michael Laughlin)

Elmont acid attack victim asks community to help find attacker

Elmont acid attack victim asks community to help find attacker

The Woman in the 2021 acid attack in Elmont is pleading with community to help find the attacker.

A man was caught on camera throwing acid at Nafiah Ikram in March 2021 while she was walking up her driveway.

In the two years since the attack, no arrests have been made.

Nassau County police have already increased their cash reward to $50,000 for anyone with information that leads to an arrest.

Bipartisan support emerges for Senate railroad safety bill

Bipartisan support emerges for Senate railroad safety bill

WASHINGTON (AP) — A bipartisan consensus that Congress should act to toughen regulations on railroads emerged Wednesday as senators heard fresh testimony on the fiery hazardous train derailment last month on the Ohio-Pennsylvania border.

Both Republicans and Democrats on the Senate Commerce Committee peppered Norfolk Southern CEO Alan Shaw with questions about what enhanced safety measures he would support. At times they aggressively questioned the CEO of one of the nation’s largest railroads on what could be done to prevent future derailments like the one that has upended life in the Ohio village of East Palestine.

Shaw offered support for some safety enhancements, including training for emergency response crews and phasing out older tank car models. But he declined to endorse several key parts of the bipartisan Railway Safety Act of 2023, which is being championed by Ohio Sens. Sherrod Brown, a Democrat, and JD Vance, a Republican.

The bill includes requirements that trains have crews of at least two people, expands the classification for highly hazardous flammable trains and increases fines for safety violations.

Democratic Sen. Maria Cantwell, chair of the Senate Commerce Committee, said lawmakers have an opportunity to “use the horrible accident to really improve rail safety.” She predicted a bill would advance to the Senate floor by April.
Presidential waiting game: GOP hopefuls hold off campaigns
Cantwell added the bipartisan nature of the bill, as well as the committee’s recent history of considering railway safety legislation, would make it possible for lawmakers to act quickly.

Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer is also behind the Railway Safety Act. And in the House, a bipartisan group of Ohio lawmakers has also introduced a similar proposal, though top Republicans have also urged caution on enacting fresh regulations.

“It is an opportunity for real and meaningful bipartisan cooperation,” said Sen. Ted Cruz of Texas, the committee’s top Republican.

The East Palestine derailment has given rise to rare bipartisan cooperation in the closely-divided Senate. Democrats say they want to ensure profitable corporations like Norfolk Southern invest in safety standards and workforce before reaping profits. Republicans, at times urged by Vance to shift attention from the concerns of big business towards white, working-class communities like East Palestine, are looking to show they can deliver for an area they accuse the Biden administration of overlooking.

When Shaw testified before a separate Senate committee earlier this month, he emphasized the voluntary steps Norfolk Southern are taking after the derailment and stopped short of endorsing any action by Congress. But he appeared to concede Wednesday that legislation was likely, saying there are many provisions of the Railway Safety Act that now have Norfolk Southern’s “full-throated endorsement.”

He also reiterated apologies for the derailment and committed to aiding East Palestine’s recovery.

“We won’t be finished until we make this right,” Shaw told the committee.

Misti Allison, an East Palestine resident, testified at the hearing that the company has lost the trust of a deeply traumatized community. State and local officials decided to release and burn toxic vinyl chloride from five tanker cars after the Fed. 3 derailment, prompting the evacuation of half of the roughly 5,000 residents.

“They feel like Norfolk Southern is offering breadcrumbs,” she said, describing how the derailment had haunted the town with fears of the long-term effects of the release of hazardous materials.

“My seven-year-old has asked me if he is going to die from living in our own home,” Allison said. “What do I tell him?”

Senators repeatedly noted that railway safety is an issue in every state, due to the national network of tracks.

“The bottom line is that what happened in East Palestine could have just as easily happened in Illinois,” Democratic Sen. Tammy Duckworth said of her home state.

The Association of American Railroads trade group, whose CEO Ian Jefferies testified Wednesday, says that railroads are still the safest way to transport hazardous material over land. Train derailments have also been getting less common, but there were still more than 1,000 last year, according to data from the Federal Railroad Administration. And as East Palestine shows, even a single train derailment involving hazardous materials can be disastrous.

Jefferies emphasized the industry’s commitment to voluntary safety measures, but also clarified that it has not officially taken a position on the Railway Safety Act.

The bill takes sides in a long-running disagreement between railroad worker unions and operators by requiring train crews to continue to have two people, although the train that derailed in East Palestine had a three-person crew. Unions argue that railroads are riskier because of job cuts in the industry over the past six years. Nearly one-third of all rail jobs were eliminated and train crews, they say, are fatigued and under pressure to perform safety inspections in a matter of seconds.

Shaw was pressed to support a two-person requirement for crews, but declined. Instead, he said, “We are a data-driven organization and I’m not aware of any data that links crew size with safety.”

Senators pushing the new safety requirements, like Ohio’s Brown, argued Shaw’s stance is emblematic of an industry that is putting efficiency and profits over safety.

“Railroads want only one person working on a train that is two or three miles long,” Brown said. “That’s frankly crazy.”

Some Republicans on the committee cautioned against legislation that would burden the industry. But the scenes of billowing smoke above East Palestine were still on the minds of lawmakers.

The committee is also looking at possible changes to regulations that don’t classify trains as high hazardous flammable, so long as they fall under certain thresholds for the number of railcars carrying combustible liquids. Lawmakers are examining how local authorities are informed by railroad operators about what trains are carrying as well.

“It wasn’t a high-hazard train,” Republican Sen. Shelley Capito, R–West Virginia said of the train that derailed in East Palestine, “but it had hazard material that was very flammable. It just lit up the sky.”

Norfolk Southern CEO Alan Shaw, second from right, testifies before a Senate Commerce, Science, and Transportation Committee hearing on improving rail safety in response to the East Palestine, Ohio train derailment, on Capitol Hill in Washington, Wednesday, March 22, 2023. (AP Photo/Manuel Balce Ceneta)

AP sources: Manhattan DA postpones Trump grand jury session

AP sources: Manhattan DA postpones Trump grand jury session

NEW YORK (AP) — Manhattan prosecutors postponed a scheduled grand jury session Wednesday in the investigation into Donald Trump over hush money payments during his 2016 presidential campaign, at least temporarily slowing a decision on whether to charge the ex-president.

The postponement was confirmed by four people familiar with the matter who spoke on condition of anonymity to The Associated Press because they were not authorized to discuss an ongoing investigation by name. The grand jurors were told to be on standby for Thursday, another day when the New York panel has been meeting in recent weeks.

When the grand jurors next meet, they may hear from yet another witness, according to a person familiar with proceedings that appear to be nearing a decisive vote on whether or not to indict Trump.
The panel has been probing Trump’s involvement in a $130,000 payment made in 2016 to porn actor Stormy Daniels to keep her from going public about a sexual encounter she said she had with Trump years earlier. Trump has denied the claim, insisted he did nothing wrong and assailed the investigation, led by Manhattan District Attorney Alvin Bragg, as politically motivated.

Wednesday’s abrupt development, which a person familiar with the matter said was not connected to security concerns, came amid growing anticipation that Trump could soon be charged. Grand jury proceedings are shrouded in secrecy, making it hard to predict with certainty what action might be taken and when.

As the panel has been hearing from final witnesses, Trump has contended his arrest is imminent and law enforcement officials have accelerated security preparations in the event of unrest accompanying an unprecedented charge against a former U.S. president.

The district attorney’s office declined to comment on the postponement, which was earlier reported by Business Insider.

Prosecutors had recently invited Trump himself to appear before the grand jury, and on Monday heard from a witness favorable to his case as a way to ensure that the panel would be presented with any information that could conceivably be considered exculpatory.

Trump over the weekend stated that he expected to be arrested on Tuesday, though the day came and went without that happening.

A member of the NYPD stands outside of Trump Tower on Wednesday, March 22, 2023, in New York. (AP Photo/Bryan Woolston)

Japan tops US 3-2 for WBC championship

Japan tops US 3-2 for WBC championship

MIAMI (AP) — Shohei Ohtani and Mike Trout had dreamed of this moment, along with millions of fans throughout Japan and the United States: the two biggest stars on the planet, longtime teammates, facing each other at 60 feet, 6 inches, the world title at stake.

Of course, the count went full.

And then Ohtani got Trout to swing under a slider on the outside corner, sealing Japan’s 3-2 win Tuesday night and its first World Baseball Classic title since 2009.

“This is the best moment in my life,” Ohtani said through a translator.

Ohtani, the two-way star who has captivated fans across two continents, was voted MVP of the WBC after batting .435 with one homer, four doubles, eight RBIs and 10 walks while going 2-0 with a save and a 1.86 ERA on the mound, striking out 11 in 9 2/3 innings.

“I think every baseball fan wanted to see that. I’ve been answering questions about it for the last month-and a-half,” said Trout, Ohtani’s Los Angeles Angels teammate since 2018.

“Did you think it was going to end in any other way?”

Watching the eighth and ninth innings unfold, Japan first baseman Kazuma Okamoto was in disbelief.

“I thought it was like a Manga,” he said through an interpreter, referring to a Japanese comic book.

U.S. manager Mark DeRosa savored the matchup — except for the ending.

“I just would have liked to have seen Mike hit a 500-foot homer,” he said.

Ohtani had given a pregame pep talk in Japan’s clubhouse.

“Let’s stop admiring them,” he said, according to a Los Angeles Times translation of the video posted on the website Samurai Japan. “If you admire them, you can’t surpass them. We came here to surpass them, to reach the top. For one day, let’s throw away our admiration for them and just think about winning.”

Japan then joined the Dominican Republic in 2013 as the only unbeaten champions of baseball’s premier national team tournament. The Samurai Warriors went 7-0 and outscored opponents 56-18, reaching the final for the first time since winning the first two WBCs in 2006 and 2009. No other nation has won the title more than once.

Trea Turner put the U.S. ahead in the second against Shota Imanaga (1-0) with his fifth home run of the tournament, tying the WBC record set by South Korea’s Seung Yuop Lee in 2006.

Munetaka Murakami tied the score on the first pitch of the bottom half off Merrill Kelly (0-1) driving an up fastball 432 feet into the right-field upper deck, a 115.1 mph bullet. Japan loaded the bases and Lars Nootbaar, the first non-Japanese-born player to appear for the Samurai Warriors, followed with a run-scoring groundout off Aaron Loup for a 2-1 lead.

Okamoto boosted the lead in the fourth when he sent a flat slider from Kyle Freeland over the wall in left-center for another solo homer. Kyle Schwarber pulled the Americans within a run when he went deep in the eighth off Yu Darvish.

Ohtani was Japan’s designated hitter and first went to the bullpen ahead of the sixth inning. He returned to the dugout and beat out an infield single in the seventh before again walking down the left-field line to Japan’s bullpen and warming up for his third mound appearance of the tournament.

He walked big league batting champion Jeff McNeil to begin the ninth, then got six-time All-Star Mookie Betts to ground into a double play.

That brought up Trout, the U.S. captain, a 10-time All-Star and a three-time MVP.

“I saw him take a big deep breath to try and control his emotions,” DeRosa said. “I can’t even imagine being in that moment, the two best players on the planet locking horns as teammates in that spot.”

Ohtani started with a slider low, then got Trout to swing through a 100 mph fastball. Another fastball sailed outside and Trout missed a 99.8 mph pitch over the middle. A 101.6 offering, the fastest of Ohtani’s 15 pitches, was low and way outside.

Ohtani stepped off the mound and blew on his pitching hand. He went back to a offspeed option, a slider.

Trout grimaced after his futile swing, his 12th strikeout of a tournament in which he hit .296 with one homer and seven RBIs. Ohtani raised both arms and threw his glove, then his cap, as teammates mobbed him.

Ohtani got his second career save, the first since a 2016 playoff game with the Pacific League’s Hokkaido Nippon-Ham Fighters. He and Trout had hugged behind the batting cage during pregame workouts, then held their nation’s flag while leading their teams toward home plate in single file during the introductions, Trout down the right-field line and Ohtani in left.

Several thousand fans had arrived hours early to watch Ohtani take batting practice and applauded when he hit a drive off the video board above the second deck in center.

“What he’s doing in the game is what probably 90% of the guys in that clubhouse did in Little League or in youth tournaments, and he’s able to pull it off on the biggest stages,” DeRosa said. “He is a unicorn to the sport. I think other guys will try it, but I don’t think they’re going to do it to his level.”

MONEY MATTERS

Japan gets $3 million in prize money and the U.S. $1.7 million. Half of each goes to players, the other half to the national baseball federaton.

UP NEXT

MLB openers are March 30, the same day the season starts in Japan.

Japan pitcher Shohei Ohtani (16) celebrates after defeating the United States at the World Baseball Classic final game, Tuesday, March 21, 2023, in Miami. (AP Photo/Marta Lavandier)

Plane in Lindenhurst crash had smoke in cockpit during earlier flight

Plane in Lindenhurst crash had smoke in cockpit during earlier flight

The single-engine aircraft that crashed in North Lindenhurst earlier this month, killing one person and injuring two others, had smoke in the cockpit during a flight two months earlier, according to a preliminary crash report released Tuesday by the National Transportation Safety Board.
Shortly before the March 5 crash, the pilot issued mayday calls after reporting a similar condition in the cockpit.
The NTSB report does not come to any conclusions on what caused the plane to go down as it was returning to Republic Airport.

Trump waits out grand jury as New York braces for protests

Trump waits out grand jury as New York braces for protests

NEW YORK (AP) — Facing the possibility of criminal charges, Donald Trump waited it out in Florida on Tuesday as New York braced for disruptions that could follow an indictment. Republican contenders in the 2024 race sized up the impact a prosecution could have on a campaign in which the former president is a leading contender.

Trump over the weekend claimed without evidence that he would be arrested on Tuesday, but there was no indication that prediction would come true. A Manhattan grand jury did appear to take an important step forward on Monday by hearing from a witness favorable to Trump, presumably so prosecutors could ensure the panel had a chance to consider any testimony supporting his version of events.

The next steps were unclear, and it was uncertain if additional witnesses might be summoned. But a city mindful of the riot by Trump loyalists at the U.S. Capitol more than two years ago took steps to protect itself from any violence that could accompany the unprecedented prosecution of a former president.
Monday’s testimony from Robert Costello, a lawyer with close ties to numerous key Trump aides, appeared to be a final opportunity for allies to steer the grand jury away from an indictment. Costello was invited by prosecutors to appear after saying he had information to undercut the credibility of Michael Cohen, a former lawyer and fixer for Trump who later turned against him and then became a key witness in the Manhattan district attorney’s investigation.

Costello had provided Cohen legal services several years ago after Cohen himself became entangled in the federal investigation into the hush money payments. In a news conference after his grand jury appearance, Costello told reporters he had come forward because he did not believe Cohen, who pleaded guilty to federal crimes and served time in prison.

“If they want to go after Donald Trump and they have solid evidence, then so be it,” Costello said. “But Michael Cohen is far from solid evidence.”

Responding on MSNBC, Cohen said that Costello was never his lawyer and “he lacks any sense of veracity.”

There were no signs that Costello’s testimony had affected the course of the investigation. Cohen had been available for over two hours in case prosecutors wanted him to rebut Costello’s testimony but he was told he was not needed, his attorney said.

The testimony came two days after Trump said he expected to face criminal charges and urged supporters to protest his possible arrest. In social media posts through the weekend, he criticized the investigation, directing particularly hostile rhetoric toward Manhattan District Attorney Alvin Bragg, a Democrat.

New York officials have been monitoring online chatter of threats of varying specificity, but even as portable metal barricades were dropped off to safeguard streets and sidewalks, there were no immediate signs that Trump’s calls for protests were being heeded.

On Tuesday morning, Manhattan court proceedings were temporarily halted by a bomb threat called in via 911, according to a court spokesman. That delayed the start of a hearing in a separate case, the New York attorney general’s lawsuit accusing Trump and his company of a yearslong fraud scheme.

Costello briefly acted as a legal adviser to Cohen after the FBI raided Cohen’s home and apartment in 2018. At the time, Cohen was being investigated for both tax evasion and for payments he helped orchestrate in 2016 to buy the silence of two women who claimed to have had sexual encounters with Trump.

For several months, it was unclear whether Cohen, a longtime lawyer and fixer for the Trump Organization who once boasted that he would “take a bullet” for his boss, would remain loyal to the president.

Cohen ultimately decided to plead guilty in connection with the payments to porn actor Stormy Daniels and model Karen McDougal, which he said were directed by Trump. Since then, he has been a vociferous Trump critic, testifying before Congress and then to the grand jury.

Trump, who has denied having sex with either woman, has branded Cohen a liar.

As the New York investigation pushes toward conclusion, Trump faces other criminal probes in Atlanta and Washington that, taken together, pose significant legal peril and carry the prospect of upending his campaign for the Republican presidential nomination.

Some of his likely opponents have tried to strike a balance between condemning a potential prosecution as politically motivated while avoiding condoning the conduct at issue.

Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis, an expected GOP presidential candidate, criticized the investigation but also jabbed at Trump.

“I don’t know what goes into paying hush money to a porn star to secure silence over some kind of alleged affair,” DeSantis said at a news conference in Panama City. “I can’t speak to that.”

Switching to criticism of the district attorney, he said, “What I can speak to is that if you have a prosecutor who is ignoring crimes happening every single day in his jurisdiction and he chooses to go back many, many years ago to try to use something about porn star hush money payments, that’s an example of pursuing a political agenda and weaponizing the office. And I think that’s fundamentally wrong.”

A woman holds up a poster as part of a protest in front of the courthouse ahead of former President Donald Trump’s anticipated indictment on Monday, March 20, 2023, in New York. (AP Photo/Eduardo Munoz Alvarez)

Trump waits out grand jury as New York braces for protests

Trump waits out grand jury as New York braces for protests

NEW YORK (AP) — Facing the possibility of criminal charges, Donald Trump waited it out in Florida on Tuesday as New York braced for disruptions that could follow an indictment. Republican contenders in the 2024 race sized up the impact a prosecution could have on a campaign in which the former president is a leading contender.

Trump over the weekend claimed without evidence that he would be arrested on Tuesday, but there was no indication that prediction would come true. A Manhattan grand jury did appear to take an important step forward on Monday by hearing from a witness favorable to Trump, presumably so prosecutors could ensure the panel had a chance to consider any testimony supporting his version of events.

The next steps were unclear, and it was uncertain if additional witnesses might be summoned. But a city mindful of the riot by Trump loyalists at the U.S. Capitol more than two years ago took steps to protect itself from any violence that could accompany the unprecedented prosecution of a former president.
Monday’s testimony from Robert Costello, a lawyer with close ties to numerous key Trump aides, appeared to be a final opportunity for allies to steer the grand jury away from an indictment. Costello was invited by prosecutors to appear after saying he had information to undercut the credibility of Michael Cohen, a former lawyer and fixer for Trump who later turned against him and then became a key witness in the Manhattan district attorney’s investigation.

Costello had provided Cohen legal services several years ago after Cohen himself became entangled in the federal investigation into the hush money payments. In a news conference after his grand jury appearance, Costello told reporters he had come forward because he did not believe Cohen, who pleaded guilty to federal crimes and served time in prison.

“If they want to go after Donald Trump and they have solid evidence, then so be it,” Costello said. “But Michael Cohen is far from solid evidence.”

Responding on MSNBC, Cohen said that Costello was never his lawyer and “he lacks any sense of veracity.”

There were no signs that Costello’s testimony had affected the course of the investigation. Cohen had been available for over two hours in case prosecutors wanted him to rebut Costello’s testimony but he was told he was not needed, his attorney said.

The testimony came two days after Trump said he expected to face criminal charges and urged supporters to protest his possible arrest. In social media posts through the weekend, he criticized the investigation, directing particularly hostile rhetoric toward Manhattan District Attorney Alvin Bragg, a Democrat.

New York officials have been monitoring online chatter of threats of varying specificity, but even as portable metal barricades were dropped off to safeguard streets and sidewalks, there were no immediate signs that Trump’s calls for protests were being heeded.

On Tuesday morning, Manhattan court proceedings were temporarily halted by a bomb threat called in via 911, according to a court spokesman. That delayed the start of a hearing in a separate case, the New York attorney general’s lawsuit accusing Trump and his company of a yearslong fraud scheme.

Costello briefly acted as a legal adviser to Cohen after the FBI raided Cohen’s home and apartment in 2018. At the time, Cohen was being investigated for both tax evasion and for payments he helped orchestrate in 2016 to buy the silence of two women who claimed to have had sexual encounters with Trump.

For several months, it was unclear whether Cohen, a longtime lawyer and fixer for the Trump Organization who once boasted that he would “take a bullet” for his boss, would remain loyal to the president.

Cohen ultimately decided to plead guilty in connection with the payments to porn actor Stormy Daniels and model Karen McDougal, which he said were directed by Trump. Since then, he has been a vociferous Trump critic, testifying before Congress and then to the grand jury.

Trump, who has denied having sex with either woman, has branded Cohen a liar.

As the New York investigation pushes toward conclusion, Trump faces other criminal probes in Atlanta and Washington that, taken together, pose significant legal peril and carry the prospect of upending his campaign for the Republican presidential nomination.

Some of his likely opponents have tried to strike a balance between condemning a potential prosecution as politically motivated while avoiding condoning the conduct at issue.

Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis, an expected GOP presidential candidate, criticized the investigation but also jabbed at Trump.

“I don’t know what goes into paying hush money to a porn star to secure silence over some kind of alleged affair,” DeSantis said at a news conference in Panama City. “I can’t speak to that.”

Switching to criticism of the district attorney, he said, “What I can speak to is that if you have a prosecutor who is ignoring crimes happening every single day in his jurisdiction and he chooses to go back many, many years ago to try to use something about porn star hush money payments, that’s an example of pursuing a political agenda and weaponizing the office. And I think that’s fundamentally wrong.”

A woman holds up a poster as part of a protest in front of the courthouse ahead of former President Donald Trump’s anticipated indictment on Monday, March 20, 2023, in New York. (AP Photo/Eduardo Munoz Alvarez)

Willis Reed, leader on Knicks’ 2 title teams, dies at 80

Willis Reed, leader on Knicks’ 2 title teams, dies at 80

NEW YORK (AP) — Willis Reed, who dramatically emerged from the locker room minutes before Game 7 of the 1970 NBA Finals to spark the New York Knicks to their first championship and create one of sports’ most enduring examples of playing through pain, died Tuesday. He was 80.

Reed’s death was announced by the National Basketball Retired Players Association, which confirmed it through his family. The cause was not released, but Reed had been in poor health recently and was unable to travel to New York when the Knicks honored the 50th anniversary of their 1973 NBA championship team during their game against New Orleans on Feb. 25.

The Knicks tweeted a photograph picturing Reed from behind walking onto the floor as his teammates were warming up for the 1970 finale, one of the most memorable moments in NBA and Madison Square Garden history.

“As we mourn, we will always strive to uphold the standards he left behind — the unmatched leadership, sacrifice and work ethic that personified him as a champion among champions,” the team said. “His is a legacy that will live forever.”

Nicknamed “The Captain,” Reed was the undersized center and emotional leader on the Knicks’ two NBA championship teams, with a soft shooting touch from the outside and a toughness to tussle with the era’s superstar big men on the inside.
He was remembered Tuesday perhaps more for the manner he led the Knicks than how superbly he played for them.

“Willis Reed was the ultimate team player and consummate leader. My earliest and fondest memories of NBA basketball are of watching Willis, who embodied the winning spirit that defined the New York Knicks’ championship teams in the early 1970s,” NBA Commissioner Adam Silver said. “He played the game with remarkable passion and determination, and his inspiring comeback in Game 7 of the 1970 NBA Finals remains one of the most iconic moments in all of sports.”

Reed’s accomplishments — seven All-Star selections, two NBA Finals MVP awards among them — would have warranted Hall of Fame induction by themselves. During the 1969-70 season, he became the first player to sweep the MVP awards for the regular season, All-Star Game and NBA Finals.

But his spot in history was secured simply by walking onto the floor on the final night of that season.

Reed had injured a thigh muscle in Game 5 of the series between the Knicks and Los Angeles Lakers, tumbling to the court in pain. He sat out Game 6 as counterpart Wilt Chamberlain had 45 points and 27 rebounds in a Lakers romp that forced a deciding game at Madison Square Garden.

Reed’s status was unknown even to his Knicks teammates as he continued getting treatment until shortly before Game 7. Both teams were warming up when Reed came out of the tunnel, fans rising and roaring when they saw him emerge from the tunnel leading to the locker room.

“And here comes Willis and the crowd is going wild,” radio announcer Marv Albert said.

The Lakers stopped to watch Reed, who made two quick jump shots in the early minutes of the game, running back down the court after both with a noticeable limp. He wouldn’t score again but the Knicks didn’t need it, with their captain’s return and Walt Frazier’s 36 points and 19 assists energizing them to a 113-99 romp and their first NBA title.


Frazier’s performance was one of the finest ever in a deciding game, but it was forever a footnote to Reed’s return. In 2006, to coincide with the NBA’s 60th anniversary, it finished third in voting of the league’s 60 greatest playoff moments, behind Michael Jordan’s championship-winning jumper for his sixth title in 1998 and Magic Johnson ending his rookie season by filling in for Kareem Abdul-Jabbar at center in Game 6 of the 1980 finals to lead the Lakers to a championship.

Long afterward, a player’s return from injury has sometimes compared to Reed, such as when Boston’s Paul Pierce was carried off the floor with a knee injury in Game 1 of the 2008 NBA Finals against Los Angeles before quickly returning. But Phil Jackson, a teammate of Reed’s and then Lakers coach, dismissed that because of how serious Reed’s injury was.
“If I’m not mistaken, I think Willis Reed missed a whole half and three-quarters almost of a game and literally had to have a shot — a horse shot, three or four of them — in his thigh to come back out and play,” Jackson said.

Reed wouldn’t be able to recover so quickly from injuries in the coming years. He was limited to just 11 games in 1971-72 but came back strong the next season to spark the Knicks to a second title in what was his last full season.

Though his return always made the ’70 title the more celebrated one, it was the ’72-73 squad, having been fortified by Hall of Famers Earl Monroe and Jerry Lucas, that stood out to Reed.

“That, to me, in my mind was the best team,” he said during its 40th anniversary celebration.

Reed would play only 19 games in 1973-74 before retiring because of a knee injury after just 10 seasons.

That was long enough to collect more than 12,000 points and 8,400 rebounds, both of which still rank in the top three on the Knicks’ career lists.
He had a successful post-playing career as a coach and executive, with 76ers coach Doc Rivers recalling playing for Atlanta when Reed was an assistant coach.

“He was simply a great person, A man!!! A leader!!! A Winner!!!” Rivers tweeted.

Willis Reed was born June 25, 1942, in Hico, Louisiana. He stayed in his home state for his college career, leading Grambling State to the 1961 NAIA championship and a third-place finish in 1963. The school retired his number and named its court after Reed in 2022.

A second-round pick in 1964, he quickly proved that standing only 6-foot-9 wouldn’t keep him from becoming one of the league’s top centers. He was voted Rookie of the Year and earned the first of his seven straight All-Star selections.

Reed was the anchor as the Knicks became one of the best teams in the NBA, with Hall of Famers such as Frazier, Bill Bradley and Dave DeBusschere.

Reed provided them with 18.7 points and 12.9 rebounds for his career, along with plenty of toughness. An ESPN documentary in 2014 on those Knicks showed footage of a 1966 fight in a game against the Lakers in which Reed appeared to throw punches at multiple opponents, with Jackson noting that it appeared Reed “decimated this team.”

His No. 19 was the first number retired by the Knicks and he was inducted into the Naismith Memorial Hall of Fame in 1982.

Reed went on to coach the Knicks to a playoff berth in 1977-78 but coached them only 14 more games the following season. He also was a head coach at Creighton and the New Jersey Nets, but his greatest success after his playing career came in the front office.

He was their senior vice president of basketball operations when they drafted Derrick Coleman and Kenny Anderson, who became All-Stars and led the Nets to the playoffs in the 1990s.

FILE – New York Knicks Willis Reed (19) drives against San Francisco Warrior Clyde Lee (43) during an NBA game at Madison Square Garden in New York, March 4, 1970. At right is San Francisco Warrior Jeff Mullins (23). Willis Reed, who dramatically emerged from the locker room minutes before Game 7 of the 1970 NBA Finals to spark the New York Knicks to their first championship and create one of sports’ most enduring examples of playing through pain, died Tuesday, March 21, 2023. He was 80. Reed’s death was announced by the National Basketball Retired Players Association, which confirmed it through his family. (AP Photo/John Lent, File)