TWIST: This Week in Sports Talk is our weekly recap of how to talk about sports this week like a pro. If you’re just starting to learn about sports, or need a quick summary of what’s up in your favorite league, or just want to know why your spouse keeps obsessively checking the sports scores during important social occasions, these are the top stories in sports this week. Here’s what you need to know to talk with a sports fan the week of February 17, 2019.
how to talk with a sports fan this week
We begin with thrills on and off the court
We get to see the Warriors in action
This week, Team Dandelion had the honor of sitting court-side at a Golden State Warriors home game. Seeing Steph Curry, Kevin Durant and Klay Thompson play was thrilling – this is a team for the ages, with back-to-back championships for the past two seasons. It was a great game, and a close one. The Warriors beat the Utah Jazz 115-108. (The Sports Desk, avid fans of Portland, would like you to know that the following night, Golden State lost to the Trailblazers, 107-129).
James Harden is still on fire
Meanwhile, in Houston, the Rockets’ James Harden (aka The Beard) has continued his streak of 30-point-or-more games. As of this posting, Harden is at 31, tying Wilt Chamberlain for the record for the second-longest such streak in NBA history.
Duke basketball team plays one for the ages
And on the same night we caught the Warriors’ game, the NCAA also had an epic night. The Duke Blue Devils basketball team made an epic comeback against the Louisville Cardinals, winning 71-69. Over the course of nine minutes, they recovered from being down 23 points earlier in the game, matching the largest comeback in the 66 years of Atlantic Coast Conference basketball. Duke freshman forward Zion Williamson finished with a game-high 27 points and 12 rebounds.
Legendary Coach Mike Krzyzewski (aka Coach K) said in the post-game press conference that he’d told the team he believed they could still win even though he didn’t believe it himself. Referring to his West Point training, he confessed: “That was one of the things I learned as a cadet. Even when you don’t feel like it’s going to go, your men better not see that in you, and as a result, you can speak (words) into action sometimes. … But at that point, I think I may have been telling them a lie.”
He also said: “You’re not losers, but you’re playing like losers.”
Some combination of those words lit the spark the team needed. A lesson for the kids at home: if you can see it, you can be it.
what you need to know to talk about sports this week
For Those Who Do Not Avidly Follow Professional Sports and Want to Be Able to Talk to a Sports Fan, here are the happenings that you should know about for the week of February 17, 2019:
1. NBA All-Star weekend festivities
It’s NBA All-Star weekend. Charlotte, North Carolina (the town that Steph Curry grew up in) hosts this year. There are lots of fun events in addition to the actual game (which is today). For example, the Rising Stars Challenge pitted Team USA against Team World. There’s an annual Three-Point Shootout and a Dunk Contest (they’re similar to the Home Run Derby in Major League Baseball). This year’s 3-Point contest was extra-special, as Steph Curry competed against his brother Seth for the crown. In the end, though, neither Curry prevailed. Joe Harris of the Brooklyn Nets took this year’s title.
Nice to know:
The New Orleans Pelicans continue to deal with the turmoil caused by All-NBA center Anthony Davis (known as “Unibrow” or “AD”). Davis asked to be traded from the team, but the NBA trading deadline expired, and no deal was reached. On Thursday, he took to the court in a home game against the Oklahoma City Thunder and was booed by fans. He left the game early, apparently due to a shoulder injury suffered in the first half. The team went on to win, 131-122, without him.
AD left the stadium rather than staying on the sidelines with his team (his agent Rich Paul said it was so the two of them could get him an MRI). Apparently, management is livid that AD left the stadium. It remains to be seen if he will be available to play in today’s All-Star Game. And on Friday, the team abruptly fired General Manager Dell Demps and named special adviser Danny Ferry as his interim replacement.
The New York Knicks set a franchise record, losing 18 straight games. They finally snapped their losing streak by beating the Atlanta Hawks on Thursday. Even so, with a record of 11-47 season to date, as of this posting they are still one game better than the Phoenix Suns, who are 11-48.
Meanwhile, all is not well in LA. The Lakers head into the All-Star break at under .500. They’re currently 10th in the Western Conference. LeBron James (LBJ)has been suffering from injuries, and last week management tried to trade half the team for Anthony Davis. The Lakers have missed the playoffs for 5 years straight, and the pressure is high to break that streak. It cost them $154 million to get LBJ, and sadly he missed 17 games due to a strained groin. The Lakers’ season resumes when they play the Rockets on February 21.
After remaining silent for many years on the subject, Michael Jordan is now asserting his claim to the title “Greatest of All Time” (GOAT). In an interview this week, he said that while James Harden’s streak of 30-points or more, and Russell Westbrook’s streak of 11 straight triple-double games are very good for the league, neither of those compare to winning 6 NBA titles with no losses. Jordan’s comment was seen as a swipe at LeBron James (LBJ), his chief rival for the GOAT title – LBJ has a 3-5 record in the NBA finals. If you want to jump-start a conversation with your sports fan, all you need to do is note this comment, and then say: Anybody want to share any thoughts on this one?
2. MLB season on the horizon
Must know: Spring training is officially underway, with the Major League pitchers and catchers reporting this week. Everyone else will join them in Florida and Arizona in the next few days. Several highly-rated free agents remain unsigned as the start of the season nears.
Nice to know: As of this posting the hottest free agents in the league — Bryce Harper and Manny Machado, both 26, — remain unsigned. Their advocates are starting to make claims of collusion by the team owners to keep their signing costs down. But our Sports Desk argues that the owners are simply tired of 8-10 year deals that become an albatross around their necks in years 7-10, depending on the age of the player when the deal was signed. No collusion? Hmmm. Discuss among yourselves.
Bonus Round: Jacob deGrom has been named the starting pitcher for the New York Mets. The ace has signed a one-year deal for $17 million. There’s noise that the reigning Cy Young winner plans to reduce his workload this season, and pitch fewer innings, if he doesn’t get a longer term contract extension before the season starts. This is uncharacteristic of deGrom, who has been “team and teammates first” during his time in the major league. The issue is that he has 2 more years where he’s on the Mets roster, and they’re not required to sign him to a long term deal. Unfortunately for him, he’ll be 31 years old by the end of this season. That’s not an optimal age to get a 5- or 6-year, $25 million per year deal.
3. But wait: Football isn’t over yet
In a surprise announcement on Friday afternoon, the NFL dropped the news that the league has settled with Colin Kaepernick and his former teammate Eric Reid in the anti-trust lawsuit filed by the two players against NFL team owners. No terms were disclosed. Both players “took a knee” several times throughout the 2016-17 season to shine a light on social injustice. While Reid continues to play in the NFL, no team has signed the former Super Bowl quarterback Kaepernick.
Nice to know:
The Alliance of American Football (AAF) opened its inaugural 10-week season on February 9, one week after the Super Bowl. The new league consists of eight centrally-owned and operated teams. Six of the 8 teams are based in cities without an NFL franchise, but with at least one other professional sports franchise. The league tried to hire Colin Kaepernick (before the NFL settlement was announced), but he reportedly asked for $20 million, which was too steep for the new league. They reportedly also approached former NFL quarterback Tim Tebow, but he seems committed to his new sport, and reported for training camp for the New York Mets this week.
Player moves are underway in the NFL. The Baltimore Ravens have traded quarterback Joe Flacco to the Denver Broncos for a fourth-round draft pick. While some observers view this positively, many others are dismissing it as a “desperation move” on the part of Broncos head coach (and former quarterback) John Elway.
Antonio Brown has officially requested a trade from the Pittsburgh Steelers. The New York Giants are reportedly shopping their star Odell Beckham Jr (OBJ). And in a continuing controversy, Kareem Hunt has signed a 1-year deal with the Cleveland Browns. The former Kansas City Chiefs player was cut mid-season when a disturbing video surfaced showing him shoving and kicking a young woman. No criminal charges have been filed, but Hunt is not eligible to play until the NFL completes its investigation.
Finally, in jilted-lover news, there’s a debate underway about where the Oakland Raiders will play this coming year, before they move to Las Vegas. The team wanted to play in San Francisco, but the San Francisco mayor said they were not welcome. Because now, the city is just not that into you, Raiders.
This week, Oklahoma quarterback Kyler Murray, the 2018 Heisman Trophy winner, announced that he’s fully committed to becoming an NFL quarterback. The multi-talented Murray already has an offer from Major League Baseball and there has been a lot of speculation about whether he’ll be playing pro football or pro baseball.
Finally, the now clean-shaven Julian Edelman of the New England Patriots is continuing his excellent adventure in the wake of being named the Super Bowl MVP. This week it was announced that he’ll will wave the flag at the Daytona 500 race. But will Tom Brady be there?
That’s what you need to know to talk with a sports fan this week. You’re good to go. See you next week!
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