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Ray Rice Hearing, LeBron James Playing This Week In Sports

SCOTT SIMON, HOST:

This is WEEKEND EDITION from NPR News. I'm Scott Simon. Time for sports.

A great World Series ended this week in a blaze of Bumgarner glory and as autumn cliches fall like seasonal foliage we turn now to football, basketball and NPR's Tom Goldman.

Good morning, Tom.

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TOM GOLDMAN, BYLINE: I am still blinded by that blaze of Bumgarner glory, but yes, let's talk other sports.

SIMON: Bulls versus LeBron James and the Cleveland Cavaliers last night. The Cavs won in overtime, 114-108. Is this a championship battle that's going to run all year?

GOLDMAN: One hopes. I mean it's a great matchup and certainly should put some interest back in the Eastern Conference, which has been the Miami Heat - the Indiana Pacers pushing them a bit - and then everyone else. Now the attention is on Cleveland and Chicago. The Cavs of course with the new big three in the NBA - James, Kevin Love, Kyrie Irving - and maybe four, after watching Cleveland's Tristan Thompson.

SIMON: He was great, wasn't he?

GOLDMAN: Oh, my goodness - and the Bulls of course, who are deeper than ever and have a very talented group surrounding their very talented point guard Derrick Rose, who is back from two major knee injuries and looking good.

SIMON: But twisted his left ankle, had to leave the game in the second half.

GOLDMAN: I know.

SIMON: So does this remind us that the Bull's hopes are as vulnerable as his ankle?

GOLDMAN: It does - or his knees and you know, watching him play now, Scott, is such a nervous experience. When he rolled that ankle last night and came up hobbling, you could hear on TV the fans in Chicago going, no, no as if the worst happened again. Rose obviously is a key part of a championship push, but the team is well aware of his history and they've built themselves up in such a way that they still could contend, or at least they hope they could, without him.

SIMON: Switch to football and talk about an actual game first - Pats versus Broncos, Brady versus Manning for the umpteenth time tomorrow. Kvetchers like to say they're both getting long in the tooth, but boy, they can still both bring it, can't they?

GOLDMAN: Yeah and they're playing so well right now. That's what should make tomorrow so much fun to watch - the sixteenth time they've met.

We should point out of course, they are both taking full advantage of a league devoted to making it easier to throw the ball; protections on the quarterback, extreme limits on what defensive backs can do to receivers. Some football purists grumble that it's changed the game too much in favor of passing but a lot of fans love the eye-popping offensive displays. And you know, if the rules stay the same or get even more passer-friendly, you honestly could see 37-year-old Brady and 38-year-old Manning play into their 40s.

SIMON: Yeah. I could stand that. Off the field, in the courtroom - in what might be the most significant football developments of course this year, Ray Rice is hearing to appeal his indefinite suspension from the NFL, scheduled for next week and the commissioner, Roger Goodell, has to testify.

GOLDMAN: He does, under oath and obviously there's keen interest to see if his story changes at all about when he first viewed the dramatic video of Rice knocking out his then-fiancee. Goodell of course has always said publicly he first saw it when the world did, when TMZ released it in early September.

SIMON: And he's promised - the commissioner's promised to implement domestic violence training. How is that going so far?

GOLDMAN: You know, it's going as promised. It's in its early stages and another promise being carried out - financial assistance to anti-domestic violence organizations. The National Domestic Violence Hotline has made 30 new hires, thanks to NFL funding and an organization spokesperson told me that's helped the hotline answer more calls and texts from victims and victims' families and bystanders who want to help.

SIMON: NPR's Tom Goldman. Thanks so much.

GOLDMAN: You're welcome. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.