Michael Avenatti’s Biggest Case Yet: His Own

The celebrity lawyer Michael Avenatti faces charges in what prosecutors have described as a scheme to extort millions of dollars from Nike.CreditCreditCheryl Senter/Associated Press

March 31, 2019

Just after making bail last Monday, the celebrity lawyer Michael Avenatti did what he had always done in the swirl of a hot story. He called a reporter.

It did not seem to matter that he was now facing criminal charges in what federal prosecutors in Manhattan described as a scheme to extort millions of dollars from Nike, or that federal prosecutors in California had just filed unrelated charges that he had defrauded a former client and a bank.

Mr. Avenatti, the lawyer who represented the pornographic film actress Stormy Daniels in her lawsuits against President Trump, walked into a cellphone store last Monday night and used the landline to call a reporter for The New York Times, beginning a campaign to deny all allegations against him and defend himself in the court of public opinion.

“I’m the most well-known attorney in the United States right now, for better or worse,” he said on Thursday in an interview. “And that’s been true for a long time now. For a year.”

It has been a long year. The man who many on the left predicted would take down Mr. Trump, who had become a fixture on cable news networks, orbited in celebrity circles and even flirted with a presidential run himself, could now face years in federal prison, a turnabout the Trump camp noted with glee.

“It went from Avenatti 2020 to Avenatti 20-to-25,” Donald Trump Jr. said last week at a political rally for his father in Michigan.

On inspection, some of the same qualities that brought Mr. Avenatti fame now appear to be contributing to his potential fall.

Grasping for big wins, the brash lawyer often promised more than he delivered. And his cocksure public image masked disarray, now evident in a trail of civil disputes, bankruptcy filings and alleged financial crimes going back several years, according to court papers and interviews. Late last year, he was accused of domestic violence by a former girlfriend, though Los Angeles prosecutors have declined to file charges while leaving the case open.

Such troubles would drive many people underground. Yet Mr. Avenatti has never relented. He has kept pushing stories. Two weeks ago, he contacted reporters, including two from The Times, suggesting he had a story related to a sportswear company and promising it would be big.

It was. But it turned out to be about him.

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Mr. Avenatti represented the pornographic film actress Stormy Daniels in her lawsuits involving President Trump.

CreditYana Paskova/Getty Images North America

It was only a year ago that Mr. Avenatti burst onto the scene, trumpeting on Twitter that a salacious case he had taken on could bring down the president.

A coalition of online anti-Trump figures from the left and right was rising, calling itself #TheResistance, and Mr. Avenatti was seen as one of its most vocal leaders. He used tough, crude language and gambling metaphors. He said the person who could best beat Trump was “a white male.” He called himself a fighter, and looked the part. His hashtag was #basta, meaning “enough.”

As he battled on behalf of Ms. Daniels — who received hush money before the 2016 election to keep quiet about a sexual encounter she said she had with Mr. Trump — he raised his own profile in more than 300 television appearances and countless interviews, some with The Times. Everything about him became news, from his Tom Ford suits to his low body-fat percentage.

He regarded the media as a cudgel for his cases, maximizing exposure, inviting new evidence from would-be whistle-blowers and sometimes inciting responses from the White House. As often as he provoked eye-rolling, his claims frequently flitted over airwaves and onto news sites with little scrutiny. He appeared to relish rationing out bits of real news to reporters, whom he was quick to cut out if he found their coverage unfavorable. Along the way, the right-wing press claimed that much of the response to him was credulous, and that he was inserting himself in legal battles beyond his expertise.

“I was and am a real lawyer,” he said on Thursday. “I’m not just some TV lawyer.”

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Mr. Avenatti drew attention in Iowa last summer with a speech that sounded like he was gearing up for a run for president.

CreditGeorge Etheredge for The New York Times

His client list followed the story of the moment: Here he was suddenly fighting for separated immigrant families along the southern border, then representing an accuser of Judge Brett M. Kavanaugh before he was confirmed to the Supreme Court. Mr. Avenatti later popped up in the R. Kelly sexual abuse investigation, representing multiple accusers and saying he submitted video evidence to state prosecutors in Chicago.

Last summer, after Christine Blasey Ford said that now-Justice Kavanaugh had sexually assaulted her when they were in high school, Mr. Avenatti came forward with another accuser, Julie Swetnick. With little detail, Ms. Swetnick escalated the allegations, describing parties attended by the judge’s circle of friends, where girls had been gang-raped.

On the eve of Dr. Blasey and Judge Kavanaugh’s testimony to Congress, some felt the claims brought by Mr. Avenatti’s client were gasoline on a fire, intensifying the political frenzy around what was widely considered a test for the #MeToo movement. Noting inconsistencies in Ms. Swetnick’s account, the chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee questioned whether Mr. Avenatti had deliberately misled Congress and referred him and his client for criminal investigation.

In his push against the judge, Mr. Avenatti said he had witnesses who could corroborate his client’s claims, but he never delivered. And at the peak of the Stormy Daniels case, he said he had more women alleging hush money payments tied to Mr. Trump, but he produced none.

Mr. Avenatti denied that he had chased the cases for attention.

“I haven’t repositioned myself to remain in the spotlight,” he said, claiming he had received 50 to 200 unsolicited requests for representation daily over the last year. “In many instances, the cases that I’ve gotten involved in have changed the spotlight.”

Though lacking any political experience, when he hinted at a run for president, he was taken somewhat seriously. “We must be a party that fights fire with fire,” Mr. Avenatti said at a Democratic fund-raiser in Iowa last August, sounding like a candidate. “When they go low, I say hit back harder.”

He bristled at the idea that he had emerged out of nowhere.

“I don’t feel like I get enough credit for my track record of success relating to cases,” Mr. Avenatti said, raising his voice with exasperation. “People act like I was a nobody before Stormy Daniels, and it’s ridiculous.”

As a plaintiff’s lawyer, Mr. Avenatti had won some big settlements. He sued KPMG for audit malpractice, and the company settled for $22 million. He won $80 million from a cemetery accused of overstuffing its plots, and half a billion from the makers of defective surgical gowns. Two of his cases before Ms. Daniels had landed him on “60 Minutes,” he pointed out.

But his law firm, which in recent years had eight to 10 lawyers, all of whom have now left, had also filed for bankruptcy. It did so again this past month, estimating liabilities of up to $50 million.

A former partner at Mr. Avenatti’s firm, Jason Frank, claimed in federal court this year that Mr. Avenatti had committed bankruptcy fraud in a previous filing, hiding millions of dollars from the government. Last fall, a California court ordered Mr. Avenatti to pay millions to Mr. Frank for work he had done for the firm. After Mr. Avenatti failed to produce the financial records required of him in that case this year, he gave up control of his firm, which is now in the hands of a court-appointed receiver.

The federal charging documents in California, unsealed last week as part of the criminal case against him, provided new details about past financial trouble. Mr. Avenatti had a checkered history with the Internal Revenue Service dating back years. In 2014, he submitted fake tax returns in loan applications to a Mississippi bank, prosecutors said, claiming to have paid the I.R.S. millions of dollars in years when he had filed no returns at all. He owed the I.R.S. more than $850,000 in unpaid personal income taxes at the time. Mr. Avenatti said on Thursday that the bank loans had been repaid.

Meanwhile, he spent company money as if it were his own, prosecutors said. From 2011 to 2017, his law firm paid more than $216,000 to Neiman Marcus, according to the federal charges filed in California. The firm is also accused of spending $68,500 at a luxury watch store; putting almost half a million dollars toward Mr. Avenatti’s mortgage; and paying hundreds of thousands of dollars to Porsche and a car dealership.

At one point, prosecutors said, Mr. Avenatti directed employees at a coffee company he owned — Global Baristas, which ran Tully’s coffee stores — to deposit cash receipts into a bank account associated with his car-racing business. Other money from Tully’s went toward his rent and shopping expenses, according to the filings.

But even as criminal charges loom, Mr. Avenatti wants a little more credit for what he has done. He claimed his aggressive tactics had won the government its guilty plea from Michael D. Cohen, Mr. Trump’s former lawyer, who last year was convicted of campaign finance crimes connected to the hush money payment to Ms. Daniels.

“That would have been a two-day story were it not for me,” Mr. Avenatti said. “Look at the other scandals Trump has been involved in. Compare the amount of coverage.”

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Mr. Avenatti speaking last year in New Hampshire.CreditCheryl Senter/Associated Press

Mr. Avenatti and Ms. Daniels officially parted ways this year, Ms. Daniels announced on Twitter weeks ago. He fired back with his own statement in minutes, framing it as his decision: “On February 19, we informed Stormy Daniels in writing that we were terminating our legal representation of her for various reasons that we cannot disclose publicly due to the attorney-client privilege.”

He lost both of her cases against the president while claiming de facto victory. A federal judge in California dismissed the suits, ordering her to pay Mr. Trump’s legal fees, totaling $293,000.

Mr. Avenatti was arrested last Monday afternoon in New York’s new Hudson Yards development, outside the offices of Nike’s law firm, Boies Schiller Flexner, with which he had talked repeatedly in preceding days. He was accused of trying to extort more than $15 million from the apparel giant, which had in turn contacted the authorities.

In earlier meetings, he had told Nike’s lawyers that he represented a youth basketball coach who once had a contract with the company, federal prosecutors in Manhattan said. Through the coach, Gary Franklin Sr., Mr. Avenatti said he had gathered information showing Nike had made payments to high school basketball players — an N.C.A.A. violation and, in certain circumstances, a possible fraud.

He then requested $1.5 million for Mr. Franklin, according to the complaint unsealed in New York last week. He also demanded that Nike hire him to conduct an internal investigation into its criminal exposure, for which he and another lawyer would receive a minimum $15 million to $25 million. Alternatively, according to the complaint, Mr. Avenatti demanded $22.5 million to buy his silence and resolve Mr. Franklin’s potential claims.

Mr. Franklin could not be reached for comment.

According to the Justice Department, Mr. Avenatti had threatened: “Every time we got more information, that’s going to be The Washington Post, The New York Times, ESPN, a press conference, and the company will die — not die, but they are going to incur cut after cut after cut after cut, and that’s what’s going to happen as soon as this thing becomes public.”

Mr. Avenatti has maintained he was simply doing what he is known for: lawyering aggressively.

He had sought to establish a media strategy from the start. On March 16, he began contacting two Times reporters about potential news related to the Justice Department’s investigation of recruiting in college basketball, which had already implicated Adidas. On March 19, prosecutors said, he met with Nike’s lawyers.

Last Monday, Mr. Avenatti asked that Times reporters meet him that afternoon at the Fifth Avenue offices of Mark Geragos, a celebrity lawyer with whom he said he was working. Within minutes of the call, Mr. Avenatti telegraphed on Twitter that he planned to hold a news conference the next day to release explosive details on crimes “reaching the highest level of Nike.”

He was arrested within the hour.

In the days since, Mr. Avenatti has again gone on the offensive on Twitter and in interviews, claiming that he is a victim of Nike’s “dishonest” lawyers. Before limiting public access to his tweets this week, he posted a screenshot of alleged text messages between Mr. Franklin, the coach, and a Nike employee, making broad reference to money changing hands.

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The United States attorney in Manhattan, Geoffrey S. Berman, outlined the extortion charges against Mr. Avenatti, which he said included seeking millions of dollars to not disclose potentially damaging information about Nike.

CreditEduardo Munoz/Reuters

The way Mr. Avenatti approached Nike reflected seemingly little research, according to people who closely follow the company. Nike has ridden out scandal before, including in the Justice Department’s prosecution of international soccer officials for bribery and corruption in the FIFA case, in which Nike was implicated but not charged.

It is unclear if Mr. Avenatti possessed evidence directly tying Nike to any payments, and prosecutors and Nike both declined to comment.

“Avenatti was an idiot to think that he was going to make a company like Nike buckle,” said John Horan, the longtime publisher of Sporting Goods Intelligence, an industry newsletter.

Mr. Avenatti insisted that he simply wanted to clean up what he called corruption within Nike and conduct an internal inquiry to ensure things improved. “This was a complete hit job by Nike. It was designed to do damage to me and inoculate themselves,” he said by phone from California.

He had flown back to his home state, preparing to answer to the charges filed there. The charges include not just that he defrauded a bank through false tax returns, but also that he diverted $1.6 million in settlement proceeds in January 2018 to pay his own debts, instead of passing on the share owed to a client. The complaint said Mr. Avenatti lied to the client, Gregory Barela, telling him the settlement from a dispute with an out-of-state corporation had never been paid.

Mr. Avenatti on Thursday questioned the credibility of Mr. Barela, who had provided prosecutors with documents to inform their complaint, which also cited bank records. Mr. Barela could not be reached for comment.

For all the attention the Nike case is getting, the charges filed in California may be Mr. Avenatti’s bigger problem, said Peter Johnson, who teaches at the University of California, Los Angeles’s law school. The Nike allegations hinge on Mr. Avenatti’s intent — whether it was extortion or zealous advocacy — which is harder to determine. But the charges in California draw on a paper trail that could make it clearer to establish fraud.

“It’s about whether in fact he committed fraud on paper, and for the prosecution that’s an easier case to prove,” Mr. Johnson said.

As his star falls, some now question how he managed to stir so much enthusiasm in the first place.

David Karpf, a professor of media and public affairs at the George Washington University, viewed Mr. Avenatti as part of a larger phenomenon of “resistance grifters,” or people harnessing anti-Trump outrage for financial gain.

“People face this overwhelming flow of information, and they lack context and understanding,” Dr. Karpf said. “So anybody who can speak with a confident tone offering some explanation can find an audience.”

Mr. Avenatti dismissed the grifter allegations as motivated by jealousy.

“Haters are going to be haters,” he said of his critics. “A lot of people love to build you up only so they can turn around and tear you down.”

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Michael Avenatti embraced news media attention even after being arrested in Manhattan this past week.CreditJohannes Eisele/Agence France-Presse — Getty Images

The Legend of Zion

CreditCreditIllustration by Sam Manchester/The New York Times; Photograph by Associated Press

By The New York Times

March 31, 2019

Zion Williamson’s legend grows with every game these days, with each new thundering dunk and every stunning new feat of elevation. It has been this way for several years now, with Williamson the featured actor in a growing collection of viral clips that show a player with the skills to outrun almost anyone, to catch almost anything, to challenge almost anybody. Even his lowest moments — the sneaker that couldn’t hold him, the injured knee that cost him five games — have somehow morphed into highlights. But Williamson, an 18-year-old Duke freshman, has been making memorable moments for years. A group of New York Times reporters tracked down some of the people who were present for a few of them, to ask them about the memories that stand out the most.

By Kevin Armstrong

Forgive Tom Konchalski.

The publisher of High School Basketball Illustrated first observed Zion Williamson in person at the Elite 24, an all-star showcase for the nation’s top prep prospects, on Aug. 20, 2016. The court at Pier 2 in Brooklyn Bridge Park was the stage, and Williamson was 10 for 10 from the field, scored 23 points and shared most valuable player honors. Konchalski was impressed.

To Konchalski’s well-trained eye — in five decades he had amassed an inventory of reports that stretched from Michael Jordan to LeBron James — Williamson, who had just turned 16, appeared to be an interior technician, a player at ease turning on his defender to make it to the rim for understated finishes. Because of Williamson’s body type, Konchalski considered him a left-handed Jamal Mashburn, a reference to the beefy Bronx product who played 11 seasons in the N.B.A.

When Konchalski sat down at his typewriter after the Elite 24 to describe Williamson’s effort, he wrote that the “6-foot-5 junior Zion Williamson, the master of quiet domination, provided a bit of fresh air.”

Looking back, Konchalski says now, he got it all wrong.

“I’m wiping off copious amounts of egg from my face,” he said. Williamson, he knows, “is anything but quiet.”

By Adam Zagoria

The first time LeBron James showed up to watch Zion Williamson, they wouldn’t let him in the door.

It was July 2017, and James, once a transcendent teenage talent himself, went to see Williamson, the next big thing, at a showcase in Las Vegas. Williamson’s team, South Carolina Supreme, was playing Big Baller Brand, which featured LaMelo Ball, a brother of Lakers guard Lonzo Ball. It was, by summer youth basketball standards, a must-see event.

James, of course, wasn’t the only one interested in that confluence of basketball stardust. The N.B.A. players Damian Lillard, Andrew Wiggins, Jamal Murray and Thon Maker were in the gym by the time James arrived, adding buzz to a crowd of more than 4,000 that threatened to swamp a court configured to hold less than half that many.

Even in warm-ups, the excitement was palpable. The fans oohed and aahed as Williamson tossed balls high in the air and dunked them; many spectators held cellphones, the better to share video clips of a scene that was quickly called the “craziest A.A.U. game ever.”

But James never saw any of it. With fans standing a dozen deep, nearly spilling onto the court from every direction, he and his group were told that just letting him into the gym constituted a security risk. A teenager’s mere presence, it seemed, had squeezed out basketball’s biggest star. James was told he couldn’t come in.

“We shut him down,” an Adidas marketing executive told CBS Sports at the time. “The corners were 500 deep. That’s where it got insane.”

It would be a year and a half before James got to see Williamson play in person. In February, he took a 35-minute flight from Philadelphia to Charlottesville, Va., and watched from courtside as Williamson, playing for Duke, went for 18 points, 5 rebounds and 5 assists in a win against Virginia. Williamson’s athleticism, James declared, was “ridiculous.”

By David Waldstein

Bishop Richardson was averaging about three alley-oop assists to Williamson every game when their team, Spartanburg (S.C.) Day School, arrived at Ben Lippen School in Columbia, S.C., for a game during Williamson’s junior year.

Williamson dunked a lot back then, and he had recorded at least two slams in the first half that had the gym rocking. “I remember it vividly,” Williamson said last week. “Their student section was really into the game, talking a lot.”

The real highlight, though, was still to come. With Spartanburg ahead by 39 points, Richardson, a spindly guard who had played varsity since the eighth grade, found himself jogging easily up the right sideline when he spotted Williamson closing menacingly down the other side of the court. He tried another lob; he knew the pass didn’t have to be perfect.

“If you threw it anywhere near the rim,” Richardson said, “he was going to get it.”

On this occasion, Richardson’s toss arrived well below the rim. But that enabled Williamson to do something outrageous: He rose into the air, reached out with two hands to grab the incoming pass at about shoulder height, and — still rising, now high enough to peer inside the rim he was about to shake — used one sweeping, circular motion to bring the ball down to his waist and then back up to the left side of his body before ramming it through the basket with his left hand.

The crowd erupted.

“I remember thinking, ‘Holy cow, I’ve never seen anyone do anything like that, let alone be a part of it,’” Richardson said. “People were falling out of the bleachers.”

The dunk made it onto highlight reels and national sports shows within hours, but Richardson did not see a replay until the next day, when he and teammates sneaked a peek in a study hall.

“I wish I could take credit for it,” Richardson said, “but it was completely accidental.”

By Marc Tracy

Vertical leap is measured using a simple contraption: a tall pole with a series of long, metal fingers that project horizontally from it on top of one another — narrow wings stacked up, up, up, at consistent increments. It may seem lo-fi, but it is also foolproof: Your vertical reach while jumping is the highest metal flange you are able to bat away from its set position. Subtract standing vertical reach from that number, and you have a player’s vertical leap.

When Duke put its players through the test one day last summer, Zion Williamson’s vertical leap was measured at 46 inches. But to the teammates and Duke staff members who were present, mere numbers do not do the moment justice.

“We were all in shock,” the sophomore guard Alex O’Connell said.

Williamson, who went last, was off the charts. On his first attempt, he casually swatted aside the highest measurement. A staff member adjusted the pole to its highest setting and reset the tabs, and Williamson repeated the feat. They put weights under the contraption to lift it a few more inches into the air. Williamson batted the highest measurements aside again.

“It was something you don't see a lot, especially with a guy who is built like him flying through the air,” forward Javin DeLaurier said. “It's a sight to behold.”

Nolan Smith, an assistant coach who played for four years at Duke and several more in the N.B.A. and Europe, said he had never seen anything like it. Cam Reddish, another Blue Devils’ freshman, said he missed out; he said he was in another part of the building when Williamson tested the test itself.

“I just heard that he broke the record,” Reddish said. “Zion things.”

By Kevin Draper

In the beginning, the former Duke standout Jay Williams kept track of the Williamson hype the same way everybody else did: through low-quality video clips shot in high school gyms and then posted on the internet. Williamson’s high-flying plays quickly became “the eighth wonder of the world,” Williams said.

Then he saw him in person.

“I have never seen a player casually do a 360 in a game,” Williams said of seeing Williamson do precisely that in a game against Clemson this season. “Even when you saw Vince do it in college,” he said, referring to Vince Carter, who played at the University of North Carolina, “there was a level of oomph that he needed to exert that type of energy. My man casually did it in the game. He did a 360 like I would do a layup.”

Williams said plays like that one were the reason comparing Williamson to other basketball players is a mistake.

“To me, I was looking at a football player who had the finesse of basketball ability,” he said. “I’ve never seen that before. I played against Julius Peppers in college. I remember him being the only guy Carlos Boozer was somewhat intimidated to go against because he couldn’t just move him around. I remember thinking for the first time: ‘Oh, I was looking at Julius Peppers but through a basketball lens. What? What?’ Julius was agile, but I am talking about the frame of the body. It reminded me of a linebacker or a tight end. Just different.”

By Joe Drape and Marc Tracy

Spike Lee was in his seat and Barack Obama was settled in his, down past the end of the Duke bench. But in front of North Carolina’s Luke Maye — in the space where Zion Williamson had stood a moment earlier — there was suddenly … nothing.

“I didn’t hear anything, man,” Maye said Thursday.

What everyone quickly realized was that the story had quickly changed from a heated rivalry game — top-ranked Duke vs. No. 8 North Carolina — into something far more bizarre: Williamson’s Nike sneaker had broken apart as he made a move at the free-throw line. He was down. North Carolina was racing upcourt. And everyone else was asking: What just happened?

Maye, in that moment, had the best seat in the house.

“I just took the ball,” he said, “and just started going.”

Initially, the Blue Devils were just as confused. The first thing Duke’s Javin DeLaurier saw from his spot on the bench was the sneaker on Williamson’s left foot, or what was left of it, anyway: Its sole was flapping free, like a banner in the wind.

To DeLaurier, this counted as good news.

“I was like, ‘Oh, no, it’s just his shoe,’” he said. “There was a sigh of relief.”

He had, after all, seen this before. He had blown out a shoe before. He had seen Williamson do it, too. “Zion’s a big human being, moving pretty fast, changing direction,” DeLaurier said. “It happens.”

By David Waldstein

“I consider it my fault,” De’Andre Hunter says now.

He’s not wrong. Late in a February game at Virginia, Cavaliers guard Kyle Guy whipped the ball crosscourt to his teammate De’Andre Hunter, who waited at the 3-point line, deep in the corner, and without a Duke player within 15 feet of him. Williamson was on the left side of the court, playing his usual feisty, active defense, so Hunter, in the right corner, took his time uncoiling the 3-point attempt.

Williamson, though, had closed the gap by then. Soaring across the court with five quick steps, he took off from about six feet away just as Hunter unloaded. “I consider it my fault,” Hunter said. “I took way too long setting it up and releasing the shot. But he came a long way.”

In fact, Williamson jumped so high and stretched so vertically that his right hand was well above the height of the 10-foot rim when he cleanly swatted Hunter’s shot into the stands.

“He just came out of nowhere,” Hunter said.

Worse news, at least for Hunter, was that the clip made its way to ESPN’s “SportsCenter” and other highlight shows, and it is now a staple of the Williamson YouTube filmography.

“I didn’t know it was going to be such a big deal,” Hunter said recently.

Santa Anita’s Reopening Day Ends With a Feeling of Relief

ARCADIA, Calif. — The mood was tense on Friday at Santa Anita Park, one of the grandest venues in horse racing, as the usually mellow track in Los Angeles County reopened after a nearly monthlong shutdown. Twenty-two horses had died on the grounds over 11 weeks.

“It’s a little different vibe,” Joe Locke said while sitting alongside his wife, Sandy. They are horse owners from Houston.

There was relief after it was over: All the horses survived.

On the morning of March 14, a garden-variety filly named Princess Lili B crossed the finish line of a half-mile workout at the track and collapsed with two broken forelegs. She had previously competed twice, placing fifth and ninth, in the lowest rungs of racing at majestic Santa Anita and earned $1,345, barely enough to cover expenses.

The track had already been closed to racing for two weeks when Princess Lili B became the 22nd thoroughbred fatality since the winter meet began on Dec. 26, helping push racing toward a painful self-examination and contentious reform.

During the hiatus, racing executives imposed reduced limits on the common medication Lasix, blamed by some critics for exposing horses to trauma, and vowed to better diagnose pre-existing conditions that could lead to injuries. They pledged to regularly evaluate the track, which has fallen under scrutiny as excessive rains may have made it more treacherous (studies are inconclusive).

And officials abolished routine use of the jockeys’ whips, even though the practice has not been linked to heightened risks for horses.

Other racing jurisdictions are weighing comparable modifications.

The Hall of Fame jockey Kent Desormeaux could sense a difference when the riders met Friday for their daily session with their chaplain.

“All we wanted to pray for today,” he said, “was for the safety of all the jockeys.”

Desormeaux was a part of a chorus of jockeys, trainers, owners and patrons who want to allay fears that the main racetrack and the training course endanger the horses.

“There is nothing wrong with either track,” Desormeaux said. “Both are in superior condition.”

Friday’s crowd included the Santa Anita first-timer Joe Rench of Louisville, Ky., who had fretted that the track might remain dark during his visit to the area.

“I was like, please, please be open,” he said. “I was scared I wouldn’t be able to attend. This is bucket list.”

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Epical, with jockey Tyler Baze aboard, won the San Luis Stakes on Friday at Santa Anita.CreditBenoit Photo, via Associated Press

Some observers emitted sighs of relief as the first race — for undistinguished nonwinner fillies, which would have fit Princess Lili B — ended without incident.

“It’s great to be back. Been a long time,” said Aaron Gryder, a 32-year veteran jockey, after piloting Discrete Stevie B to victory.

The winner’s exultant trainer, Marcelo Polanco, said, “Nothing like winning, especially after all that has happened.”

The only audible deviation from normal race days was the track announcer Frank Mirahmadi’s repeated alert that the prohibition on whipping had not yet begun. Jockeys and trainers, as a whole, are not happy about the ban, with some saying management capitulated to PETA and other critics.

But the horsemen’s chief concern is the condition of the track, which received a general thumbs-up.

Kathy Guillermo, senior vice president for PETA, the animal rights group, said: “Our goal is zero horse deaths and an end to all racing abuses. The industry has a long way to go, but the Stronach Group’s new rules are the first real improvements in a generation.”

Fittingly, the feature race, seventh on the card, was taken by Epical, trained by Jim Cassidy. As president of the state’s trainers association, he has tried to persuade his peers that the updated policies, though drastic, are needed.

“People don’t like change,” he said, “but it’s a different time now.”

He described his 415th win in a three-decades career as especially rewarding.

“I’m just wiped out about this whole thing,” he said. “It was a lot of pressure.”

Minutes earlier, Cassidy had texted a fellow official with the association: “6-for-6.” Meaning, all horses in the first half-dozen races had finished safely.

Soon, he would be able to send a final update: 8-for-8.

“There are still going to be trying times,” said a relieved Tim Ritvo, chief operating officer of the Stronach Group, which owns Santa Anita.

Ritvo is braced for short-term losses in attendance and wagering, but he contended that what he described as “the new normal” can generate long-term gains.

“Eventually, all tracks will be under stronger scrutiny,” he said.

Beyonce Dazzles In White Gown At The 2019 NAACP Image Awards & Kisses Jay-Z — Pic

Beyonce looked absolutely radiant in a white dress while attending the 2019 NAACP Image Awards in Los Angeles, CA on Mar. 30.

Beyonce, 37, once again looked beautiful in the spotlight when she showed up to the 2019 NAACP Image Awards wearing an eye-catching ensemble. The singer was stunning in a white gown oat the event, which took place on Mar. 30 at the Dolby Theater in Los Angeles, CA. Beyonce attended the awards show with her husband Jay-Z, who received the President’s Award at the event. “The President’s Award is an honor we carefully bestow upon an individual, maintaining its significance and commitment to recognizing excellence in service that directly affects our community,” Derrick Johnson, President of the NAACP, said in a statement. “Shawn Carter has been committed to shedding light on the issues that plague the black community including systematic racism and unjust treatment under the law, utilizing his global platform to create everlasting change,”

Beyonce has a lot of history at the NAACP Image Awards, so it’s no surprise that she would dress to impress. The talented musician has been nominated for 45 NAACP Image Awards over the years, and won 10 of the nominations. This year, she’s nominated for Entertainer of the Year, one of the highest honors at the award show. With an incredible look and a top place in the music world, Bey’s sure to be one of the biggest highlights at this year’s ceremony.

Beyonce’s memorable appearance at the NAACP Image Awards wasn’t the only time she wore something flattering. The mother-of-three also turned heads at the 2019 GLAAD Awards just two days ago, on Mar. 28. She kept her fashion simple but sexy in a plunging black tuxedo dress for the event, and looked great beside her husband JAY-Z, 49, who wore a tuxedo with a white top and black pants.

Jay Z and Beyonce50th Annual NAACP Image Awards, Show, Dolby Theatre, Los Angeles, USA - 30 Mar 2019Beyonce and Jay Z attend the 50th Annual NAACP Image Awards. Beyonce and Jay Z50th Annual NAACP Image Awards, Show, Dolby Theatre, Los Angeles, USA - 30 Mar 2019Beyonce and Jay Z attend the 50th Annual NAACP Image Awards.

The lovebirds were honored with the special Vanguard Award at the ceremony for their advocacy work in the LGBTQ community.

No. 3 Texas Tech Upsets No. 1 Gonzaga for First Trip to Final Four

ANAHEIM, Calif. — The Texas Tech men’s basketball team carries around a mantra like a chip on its shoulder: The secret’s in the dirt. It is a particularly appealing message — that success is usually found by getting your hands in the muck — especially to the ears of basketball mutts and vagabonds, and a star whose own father questioned why he would want to stay home in Lubbock.

So when a moment of truth arrived on Saturday, and top-seeded Gonzaga — with its free-flowing offense and shotmakers all over the court — readied for a final charge, the Red Raiders found success by doing what they do best: digging in.

The Red Raiders, leaning on their defense as they have all season, clamped down on Gonzaga and rode an ice-cold 3-pointer from Davide Moretti and some cool free-throw shooting to a 75-69 victory in the West Region final of the N.C.A.A. tournament.

The win sends No. 3 Texas Tech to the Final Four in Minneapolis, the first trip in team history.

“We did it, baby,” Jarrett Culver said as he embraced his doubting father, Hiawatha, before cutting down the nets with his teammates and retreating to the locker room where the players danced to Lil Yachty’s “Minnesota.”

The Red Raiders had hit a high-water mark last season when they reached a regional final before losing to Villanova, the eventual champion. With Zhaire Smith, a lottery pick in the N.B.A. draft, and five seniors departed, they were unlikely candidates to return.

But the addition of two graduate transfers — guard Matt Mooney from South Dakota and forward Tariq Owens from St. John’s — and the development of the sophomores Moretti and Culver helped the Red Raiders to a Big 12 co-championship, their first in 23 years.

They seamlessly blended into the system of Coach Chris Beard, a former assistant under Bob Knight who cut his teeth as acoach at the junior college and Division II levels before getting his break at Arkansas-Little Rock.

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Rui Hachimura (21) led Gonzaga with 22 points in his team’s loss. He is a key player N.B.A. scouts have been watching.CreditHarry How/Getty Images

A summer retreat, at a camp in West Texas that was out of cellphone range, helped the players bond, and a closed-door scrimmage with Houston and a strong November showing against Duke at Madison Square Garden forged their belief in themselves.

But their resolve was tested on Saturday. Gonzaga, with its ball screens, took advantage of switches to get the ball to its two N.B.A.-bound big men: Brandon Clarke and Rui Hachimura. And the Zags successfully pushed the pace, surging to a 37-35 lead at halftime.

In the second half, Texas Tech switched rarely and resisted the temptation to run with the Zags, controlling the pace to its liking. Then, with the score tied at 58-58, the Red Raiders defense clamped down — holding the Zags without a basket for nearly four minutes.

Meanwhile, Mooney snaked into the paint for a basket that put Texas Tech ahead, 60-58, and Moretti sank a 3-pointer to extend the advantage to 63-58. But Clarke narrowed the gap to 63-60 with two free throws, bringing the Zags’ sizable crowd into the game.

As Culver dribbled the shot clock down at the top of the arc, he glanced to his right and gave a knowing look to Moretti. With the defenders beginning to pinch Culver as the shot clock ran down, he flicked a pass to Moretti, who never hesitated, sinking another 3-pointer to put the Red Raiders ahead, 66-60.

Gonzaga never got the ball back with a chance to get even.

“I thought he was going to pass me and I was ready for it. That’s the chemistry between us,” said Moretti, who watched Villanova’s buzzer-beating championship in 2016 late at night on his iPad at his home in Bologna, Italy. “He knows when I want the ball, and I know when he’s going to pass it to me.”

The Zags, who made half their shots in the first half, made only 12 of 33 in the second half, and they turned the ball over 16 times for the game.

“They are really good at reaching, poking and digging things out there,” Gonzaga Coach Mark Few said of the Texas Tech defense. “This is the best team I’ve ever had for taking care of the ball. So it’s real. That defense is real.”

So, too, are the Red Raiders, who will not only continue looking for secrets in the dirt, but in Minneapolis, too.

Islanders Clinch Playoff Berth With Win Against Sabres

Jordan Eberle continued his scoring surge with one more goal, Anthony Beauvillier added two of his own, and the Islanders clinched a playoff berth for the first time since 2016 with a 5-1 victory over the Buffalo Sabres on Saturday night at Nassau Coliseum.

Michael Dal Colle and Ryan Pulock also scored for the Islanders, who have 99 points in their first season under Coach Barry Trotz and secured a postseason spot in March for the first time since 1990. If the Islanders finish first or second in the Metropolitan Division, they would open a playoff series at home for the first time since 1988.

The Islanders, who have won four of their last five games, trail Washington by three points for the division lead and are four points ahead of third-place Pittsburgh. The Islanders and the Capitals each have three games remaining, and the Penguins have four.

Buffalo’s Victor Olofsson spoiled Robin Lehner’s shutout bid with his first N.H.L. goal on the power play at 13 minutes 28 seconds of the third period.

Eberle opened the scoring at 7:41 of the first, tapping in a rebound after Sabres goaltender Carter Hutton had stopped a shot by Mathew Barzal.

The goal was the third in the last two games for Eberle, who has 18 goals this season. He had a three-point game — including the winning goal — against Winnipeg on Thursday, when the Islanders scored two late goals for a 5-4 win.

Beauvillier made it 2-0 at 8:20 of the second, finishing off a sequence in which the Islanders kept the puck in the Sabres’ zone for an extended time. Beauvillier, denied on a penalty shot midway through the first, shot from just inside the blue line, and the puck eluded Hutton.

Dal Colle added his third goal of the season at 19:26 of the second before Pulock scored his ninth goal 30 seconds into the third, making it 4-0.

Beauvillier scored his second of the game and 18th of the season at 6:07 of the third, making it a 5-0 advantage.

BLUES 3, DEVILS 2 Defenseman Vince Dunn scored in close with 2.8 seconds left in overtime, giving St. Louis its 11th consecutive victory over the host Devils dating to Jan. 21, 2014.

Robert Thomas and Tyler Bozak also scored for the Blues, and Jake Allen made 25 saves. St Louis, which held on to third place in the Central Division, is 27-10-4 since the turn of the year.

Drew Stafford and Joey Anderson scored and Cory Schneider made 24 saves for the Devils, who lost for a second straight night.

NAACP Image Awards Red Carpet: Lupita Nyong’o, Issa Rae & More Arrive — See Pics

The 50th NAACP Image Awards are underway & so many celebs stunned with their flawless fashion on the red carpet!

It’s one of entertainment’s biggest nights! The NAACP Image Awards officially started at 9pm Eastern (you can tune into the ceremony on TV One), televised live from the Dolby Theater in Hollywood. But before the ceremony, so many celebrities and nominees showed up dressed to the nines. One of our favorite looks of the evening belonged to Lupita Nyong’o, who slayed in a purple dress with a thigh-high slit. Meanwhile, Issa Rae looked stunning, while wearing a chic yellow dress with a black belt, which she accessorized with earrings. Also stunning on the red carpet was Kate Beckinsale. Wearing a black sheer dress with cut-outs, Kate looked ultra glamorous. In addition to all of tonight’s nominees, there are some pretty huge names presenting, including Viola Davis, John Legend, Issa, Lupita, Danai Gurira, Van Jones, Kerry Washington, Lena Waithe and Trevor Noah.

The night’s top honor at the ceremony will go to Jay-Z, who is set to receive the President’s Award. “The President’s Award is an honor we carefully bestow upon an individual, maintaining its significance and commitment to recognizing excellence in service that directly affects our community,” Derrick Johnson, President of the NAACP, said in a statement.

“Shawn Carter has been committed to shedding light on the issues that plague the black community including systematic racism and unjust treatment under the law, utilizing his global platform to create everlasting change,” Johnson went on to say. “There is no better time than now, as we celebrate our 50th year, to honor him with this award.”

Lupita Nyong'oLupita Nyong’o stunned on the red carpet of the NAACP Image Awards wearing a purple dress with a thigh-high slit.

In addition to Jay-Z, Congresswoman Maxine Waters will be presented with the NAACP Chairman’s Award and radio legend Tom Joyner will take home the Vanguard Award. Meanwhile, Jussie Smollett failed to show up to the NAACP Image Awards dinner on Mar. 29, where he also lost in the category he was nominated in: Outstanding Supporting Actor in a Drama Series.

Lakers Shut Down LeBron James for the Season

LeBron James’s disappointing first season as a Los Angeles Laker ended abruptly on Saturday when the team announced that it would hold him out of its final six games as a health precaution.

James, 34, had said on numerous occasions since the Lakers’ elimination from the playoffs on March 22 that he hoped to play the rest of the schedule. But the Lakers decided to shut him down after James posted 27 points, 9 assists and 3 rebounds Friday night in a victory against the Charlotte Hornets.

“After consulting with our team doctors and medical staff, we have decided to hold LeBron out of games for the remainder of the season,” the Lakers said in a statement distributed on Saturday afternoon.

“This decision will allow his groin to fully heal, and is best for the future success of both LeBron and the Lakers.”

After Friday night’s victory, which nudged the Lakers’ home winning streak to three, James told reporters: “After the game, I said we picked a hell of a time to have a good rhythm. But at the end of the day, we’re having fun. We’re playing the way we wanted to play all year.”

Little has gone right for the Lakers this season. Amid much fanfare, James announced on the first night of free agency last summer that he was leaving his home-state Cleveland Cavaliers for the second time to sign with the Lakers. His first season in Hollywood, however, was marred by injury and various dramas, with James ultimately missing the playoffs for the first time since 2005, his second season in the N.B.A.

The strained left groin James sustained in the third quarter of a rousing Christmas Day victory over the Golden State Warriors caused him to miss 17 consecutive games and 18 of the next 19. No injury had ever sidelined the ultradurable forward for longer than the eight games James lost to a back ailment during the 2014-15 season.

James thus ends his debut season as a Laker with just 55 of a possible 82 games played. His previous single-season low was 62 games — but that was in lockout-shortened 2010-11, a season that lasted just 66 games.

The Lakers were 28-27 this season with James in uniform but 6-15 without him. He averaged 27.4 points, 8.5 rebounds and 8.3 assists and moved into fourth in career scoring — ahead of Michael Jordan — with 32,543 points.

James sits 1,111 points shy of passing Kobe Bryant, one of the most popular Lakers ever, for third place behind Kareem Abdul-Jabbar (38,387) and Karl Malone (36,928).

Virginia Escapes Another Big Upset, Holding Off Oregon

LOUISVILLE, Ky. — While the fans at the KFC Yum! Center here in Louisville caught their breath Thursday night after a classic duel between Purdue and Tennessee in the first game of the South Region doubleheader, No. 1 seed Virginia and No. 12 Oregon slogged through a tight, mediocre first half.

The Cavaliers took a 30-22 lead into halftime, and appeared on their way to a comfortable — if not picturesque — victory.

But Oregon clawed its way back in the second half and took the lead, 42-40, on a 3-pointer by Louis King with 8 minutes 32 seconds remaining.

Suddenly, the Cavaliers — who made the wrong kind of history last year by becoming the first No. 1 seed in the N.C.A.A. men’s basketball tournament ever to fall to a No. 16 (the University of Maryland, Baltimore County) — were once again being pushed hard by an opponent seeded in the double digits.

But this time, they did not succumb. After several tight possessions on both ends of the floor, Virginia guard Ty Jerome made a 3-pointer to give the Cavaliers a 48-45 lead with 3:30 to play — an advantage they would not relinquish. Virginia went on to prevail, 53-49.

“It was a knuckle-buster or whatever you want to call it,” Virginia Coach Tony Bennett said. “We had to fight.”

For Bennett, a knuckle-buster is, of course, highly preferable to a bracket-buster. A top-seeded Virginia again going down in an early tournament upset would have shattered brackets across the country.

But this is a team that lives on the edge. And so, despite the fact that the game was mired in the 40s through much of the second half, the Cavaliers did not panic.

“The game is never out of reach until the final buzzer goes off,” Jerome said, with a nod to the Ducks. “They’re such a capable team, such a great defensive team.”

Virginia is well versed in that style. The Cavaliers entered the night averaging 71.6 points per game — just inside the top 200 in the N.C.A.A. But they also led the nation in defense, yielding just 55 points per game — 3.2 better than Michigan, which sat at No. 2 on the list.

“You hang on and hang your hat on that defense,” Bennett said. “And hopefully you get enough offense.”

The Cavaliers got enough on Thursday. They question is whether they will do the same on Saturday in the regional final against No. 3 seed Purdue, which scored 99 points in its thrilling overtime victory against Tennessee. And whether, even if Virginia advances to the Final Four, the critiques of its slow-paced, defense-first style will abate.

“Ugly is in the eye of the beholder,” Bennett said after Thursday’s tight win. “Maybe it wasn’t great, but I thought it was pretty good-looking for us defensively.”

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Purdue forward Aaron Wheeler (1) tries to control the ball as Tennessee forward Kyle Alexander (11), guard Jordan Bowden (23), and guard Lamonte Turner (1) defends during Purdue’s overtime win Thursday in the N.C.A.A. tournament’s round of 16.CreditJamie Rhodes/USA Today Sports, via Reuters

For Purdue, the round of 16 has been a dead end the past two seasons. In 2017, the Boilermakers were blown out in the regional semifinals by Kansas. A year later, Texas Tech dashed Purdue’s hopes in the very same round.

But on Thursday night in Louisville — in an absolute thriller before a spirited crowd — that elusive victory proved sweet for the Boilermakers.

Purdue, which frittered away an 18-point lead over the course of a remarkable second half, managed to survive in grueling, agonizing, but ultimately exhilarating fashion — defeating second-seeded Tennessee, 99-94, in overtime.

This was a tale of two games wrapped into one. The first featured careless shots, missed free throws and sloppy play. The second, conversely, showcased the game at its finest — with both clubs making everything in sight, showing the determination and grit which allowed them to reach this point in the N.C.A.A. tournament.

“Our guys hung in there,” Purdue Coach Matt Painter said.

He was particularly proud of a few key defensive stops, saying, “I know it was a high scoring game. But it was tough to get them.”

The Boilermakers took command early. With the game tied, 13-13, Purdue took command of a choppy first half behind a 10-0 run. Carsen Edwards, who had been silenced for the first 7 minutes of the contest, caught fire — reeling off 8 points in a span of 4 minutes 38 seconds, starting a run that culminated in a game-high 29 points.

The Volunteers failed to find any sort of rhythm offensively in the first half. A missed dunk by Admiral Schofield midway through the first half served as a fitting symbol of Tennessee’s offensive futility over the first 20 minutes, as the Volunteers went into the locker room at halftime down by 40-28.

It appeared to be the same story early on in the second half. Purdue extended its margin to 18 within the first 4 minutes. The throngs of orange-clad fans in the crowd — having made the relatively short drive from Knoxville — appeared utterly despondent.

But then their Volunteers came storming back. An 11-3 run cut the margin to 9, before an Edwards 3-pointer coming out of a timeout momentarily stemmed the tide. Tennessee, though, kept up the momentum. Schofield, who had just 1 point in Tennessee’s woeful first half, finished the night with 21.

Lamonté Turner buried a 3-pointer to tie the game at 65-65. And from there, the two determined squads put on a show. Suddenly, the offensive ineptitude that peppered the first half had been replaced by brilliance.

Purdue’s Ryan Cline went 10-of-13 on the night, and 7-of-10 from 3-point range, en route to 27 points. None, though, were bigger than his turnaround 3-pointer to tie the game at 80-80 with 38 seconds to play.

Tennessee, though, took the lead on the next possession. A Grant Williams dunk off a miss by Turner put the Volunteers up, 82-80.

Down by 2, Edwards drove to the basket and was blocked by Williams with 2.5 seconds to play. The ball went out of bounds, and there was some question as to whether it went off Edwards’s foot — resulting in a turnover which would have effectively ended the game. But the officials gave Purdue the ball.

Williams, for his part, was unsure who last touched the ball.

“I couldn’t tell you,” Williams said. “When I blocked the shot, I didn’t know if it went off me or his leg or anything.”

Edwards proceeded to get the ball again. He launched a 3-pointer from the right wing, and was fouled.

The foul was a huge call in Purdue’s favor, but Tennessee’s Coach Rick Barnes acknowledged that the officials got it right.

“We know the rule,” he said. “You’ve got to allow the shooter to come back down. It’s a tough one, because in that situation, we know we can’t foul there and they’ve got to make that shot.”

And so Edwards, his team’s leading scorer, stepped to the line with a chance to put his club ahead with 1.7 seconds to play. An 85.2 percent foul shooter, Edwards missed the first — to the roar of the Tennessee faithful. But Edwards turned aside the earsplitting noise and calmly sank the second and third free throws to square the contest at 82-82. Tennessee failed to get off a shot on the ensuing possession, and the game went to overtime.

The extra period belonged to the Boilermakers. It was a session in which they never trailed. With less than two minutes to play, the No. 3 seed put the game away, as Grady Eifert delivered a perfect pass to Matt Haarms — who had a step on his defender and was cutting toward the basket — to put the Boilermakers up 7. They made enough free throws the rest of the way to put the game on ice, giving Purdue a victory that was three years in the making.

How Pain Tolerance and Anxiety Seem to Be Connected

An article this week about Jo Cameron, who has lived for 71 years without experiencing pain or anxiety because she has a rare genetic mutation, prompted questions from New York Times readers.

The notion that the same gene could be responsible for the way a person processes physical and psychological pain left many perplexed: Aren’t they totally different? Or does her story hint that sensitivity to one type of pain might be intertwined with sensitivity to another?

Childbirth, Ms. Cameron said, felt like “a tickle.” She often relies on her husband to alert her when she is bleeding, bruised or burned because nothing hurts.

When someone close to her has died, she said, she has felt sad but “I don’t go to pieces.” She cannot recall ever having been riled by anything — even a recent car crash. On an anxiety disorder questionnaire, she scored zero out of 21.

“I drive people mad by being cheerful,” she said.

[Read more about the woman who has never felt pain or anxiety.]

Here’s a bit about what’s known:

No. Before encountering Ms. Cameron, the scientists who studied her case worked with other patients who did not experience pain.

“Reduced anxiety has not really been noted before in the other pain insensitivity disorders we work on,” said Dr. James Cox, a senior lecturer from the Molecular Nociception Group at University College London.

He also said that given Ms. Cameron had gone more than six decades without realizing just how unusual she was, there could be others like her. A number of such individuals contacted The Times after the article was published.

“I also had the children and no pain,” wrote Juanita Hoffman, 81, of Dayton, Ohio. “I thought family and friends who complained were just drama queens.”

Asked about her mental state, she wrote: “No, I have never experienced anxiety. I have always been content and happy.”

Dr. Cox said he believed that Ms. Cameron’s reduced anxiety was “related to increased signaling at CB1 receptors,” or cannabinoid receptors, which are known to help the body deal with stressful situations. (Notably, they are activated by the THC in cannabis.)

Block the cannabinoid receptors and anxiety will increase; boost the cannabinoid receptors and anxiety will fall, studies have shown. The receptors also affect how people experience physical pain.

No, it’s more complicated than that and lots of research is still needed, said Dr. T.H. Eric Bui of the Center for Anxiety and Traumatic Stress Disorders and Complicated Grief Program at Massachusetts General Hospital. What we do know, he said, is that “brain regions that process emotional and physical pain overlap.”

In another example of how mysteriously intertwined the two types of pain can be can be, he noted that acetaminophen (the active ingredient in Tylenol, among other pain relievers) had been shown to decrease the emotional pain that comes with rejection.

Naomi Eisenberger, a professor in the University of California, Los Angeles, psychology department, believes so. Dr. Eisenberger studies the similarities in the way that the brain processes physical pain and the “social pain” that results from rejection.

She said she had repeatedly found that “people who are more sensitive to physical pain are more upset by rejection.”

In general, yes, according to some pain-management experts.

Adam Woo, a consultant in pain and anesthesia at King’s College Hospital in London, has worked with thousands of patients dealing with pain. Patients with high levels of anxiety tend to be more sensitive to pain, he has found.

“If you have anxiety, it makes your perception of pain worse,” he said. And if two patients are facing the exact same kind of injury, the one with more anxiety tends to have a “higher complaint score,” he said.

Debra Kissen, executive director of Light on Anxiety, a treatment center in Chicago, believes that some people truly are just more sensitive — as in they seem to feel more intensely. That said, she has observed the way that anxiety and physical pain can amplify each other.

Afflicted with chronic pain, a person may start to feel anxious that they have no control over their body. Then their anxiety may increase their focus on the pain, exacerbating it. Treat either one and it will sometimes help both, she said.

What she finds most intriguing about the two kinds of pain is the consistency in her patients’ answers to a choice. “I’ll ask someone, ‘You can either stub your toe and it hurts an eight, or feel emotional despair,’” she said.

Patients always pick the toe.