Hello, Sixth Man readers! Every Sunday, we’ll bring you a “Sports Week in Review” that recaps all the latest and biggest sports news stories from the passed seven days. You know, just in case you missed something or need a refresher.
This week, the sports world was buzzing. Here’s our first ever “Sports Week in Review!” Enjoy!
1) USWNT Emerges Victorious in World Cup Final
In one of the most exciting and lopsided finals in World Cup history, the United States Women’s National Soccer Team defeated Japan, 5-2. While the game itself wasn’t the most competitive, it showcased a United States squad that was not only poised for revenge, but who executed flawlessly on all areas of the pitch.
Within the first sixteen minutes of play, the U.S. had a 4-0 lead thanks in large part to Carli Lloyd’s hat trick. Lloyd’s first two goals were impressive, but it was her third that stole the show. Noticing that the Japanese goalie was standing too far out of the box, she launched a mammoth shot from mid-field. The goalie managed to get a few fingers on the ball, but it still ended up one-hopping into the back of the net.
It was an astounding, yet totally fitting goal. Lloyd was unstoppable throughout the tournament (taking home the Golden Ball for best player), and everything seemed to go the U.S.’s way in the final.
Hope Solo allowed her first goals of the World Cup to Japan, but she was still her brilliant self nonetheless (winning the Golden Glove for best goalkeeper). The U.S. actually ended up tying Germany in consecutive World Cup minutes played without giving up a goal. Although its offense was inconsistent at times during the two-week period, the U.S. defense and goaltending were nearly perfect.
There was something truly special about the final match. It was filled with so many of those incredible sports moments that lift you out of reality and make you feel like a kid again for just a second: the four goals in sixteen minutes; Lloyd’s hat trick; legend Abby Wambach checking in during the 79th minute and receiving the captain’s arm band from Lloyd; Christie Rampone becoming the first forty-year-old to play in the World Cup; and each player raising their arms together in victory on the winner’s podium.
It was such a joy to watch the USWNT grow and find success throughout the tournament. The women played with grit, heart, and ferocity, and they demonstrated what it really means to be a cohesive unit. They were the epitome of team.
U.S. men, take note: You’ve got a lot of catching up to do.
Be sure to catch Patrick’s fascinating article about the World Cup being played on turf instead of grass—very eye-opening.
2) Betrayal in D-Town
Has this been an exciting NBA free agency period, or what? Big name players finding new homes (LaMarcus Aldridge leaves Portland for San Antonio), all-stars unexpectedly re-signing (Kevin Love returning to Cleveland), big market teams striking out in a big way, and organizations dishing out enormous deals faster than you can say Antetokounmpo.
Bu there has been nothing more dramatic and just flat out bizarre than the DeAndre Jordan saga. As one of the hottest free agent commodities out there, Jordan garnered interest from numerous teams. Though his struggles at the free-throw line are well documented (thank you, Gregg Popovich), Jordan has transformed into the league’s premier center. His defensive and rebounding abilities are outstanding. Plus, his jump-out-of-the-gym athleticism allows him to catch pretty much anything you lob in his direction.
Over the weekend (last weekend), DeAndre verbally agreed to a four-year max deal with the Dallas Mavericks worth $80 million. The key word there is verbally.
The NBA has this thing called the moratorium period (which is perhaps the darkest, most sinister name of an allotted time I’ve ever heard) between when free agency begins and when players can actually sign contracts. Many teams and players come to terms during the moratorium period, but nothing is official until it passes.
DeAndre represented the Mavericks future, but that future became like the alternate tangent 1975 present in Back to the Future 2 after the big man had a change of heart. Yes, it was DeAndre who reached out to Doc Rivers and Blake Griffin expressing his uncertainty. And it was the moratorium period that allowed DeAndre to reconsider his initial agreement.
What followed was a cat-and-mouse game, with DeAndre being the largest mouse in the history of mice. On Tuesday (the day before free agents could sign), Mavs owner Mark Cuban flew down to DeAndre’s home in Houston because he heard his latest free agent acquisition was having second thoughts. No one was home.
Cuban texted DeAndre, who responded by saying he was on a date. Later that night, DeAndre welcomed Clippers management into his home, who stayed with DeAndre to make sure he signed their contract. Jordan’s agent—a good friend of Mark Cuban’s—didn’t secure a spot on the party’s guest list, and Cuban could merely sit back in his hotel room and pray for the best.
At 12:01 am Eastern Time, DeAndre Jordan went back on his word and inked a four-year, $88 million deal with the Clippers. It was a devastating blow for the Mavs, and an absolute godsend for the Clips.
Expect the moratorium period to be re-evaluated by the NBA and for new provisions to emerge that fall under what’s sure to be called “The DeAndre Jordan Rule.”
The NBA: where soap operas happen.
Contributing writer, Ben Farber has a great piece on DeAndre Jordan’s indecision. Check it out!
3) Familiar Faces in the Winner’s Circle at Wimbledon
Novak Djokovic and Serena Williams are your 2015 Wimbledon champions. Anyone surprised?
Both came into the tournament as the number one players in the world on the men and women’s side, respectively. Each displayed their dominance and each showed why they’re the best at what they do.
Djokovic defeated the greatest of all time, Roger Federer in four sets (7-6, 6-7, 6-4, 6-3). Although Federer gave him a scare by coming back to winning the second set in a tiebreak, the Djoker used it to fuel his fire. His intensity, return game, and sheer determination were too much for the now mortal Federer, and it was clear who the better man was.
The win is Djokovic’s second win in a row at Wimbledon and his third there overall. Among active male players, he has the third most grand slam titles (nine), trailing only Federer and Nadal. That’s good company.
On the Ladies side, Serena exerted her will against Garbiñe Muguruza who was making her grand slam final debut. The thirty-three year-old Williams won in straight sets (6-4, 6-4), completing the “Serena Slam” (her fourth consecutive grand slam title victory).
As undoubtedly the best female tennis player on the planet, Serena is the clear favorite going into the U.S. Open. If she wins there, she’ll have captured the calendar year grand slam, a feat that has not been accomplished since Steffi Graf did it in 1988.
What’s even more amazing about Serena Williams is her longevity. She won her first grand slam title at the U.S. Open back in 1999. Fast-forward sixteen years, and she’s still at the top—sounds Tim Duncan-esque.
Like with any great athlete, we’ve grown accustomed to Serena’s brilliance on the tennis court. It’s easy to take her unmatched play for granted, but we must appreciate her while she’s still around.
4) Jason Pierre-Paul Loves America Too Much, Loses a Finger
I think Jason Pierre-Paul took Katy Perry’s song “Firework” too literally. On our nation’s birthday, the Giants’ defensive lineman decided to “let his colors burst” by setting off some fireworks, but instead blew off part of his right index finger. Well, that’s not entirely true. JPP hurt his finger so badly that it had to be amputated. Either way, it’s pretty gross.
Aside from how it will affect him going forward as a human being (since that’s not really a concern for die-hard fans), Pierre-Paul won’t be the same football player he once was. I’m not a doctor or anything, but I can pretty confidently say that having ten fingers gives you more of an advantage on the field than having nine. JPP will still be able to barrel through players with his strength and blow past people with his feline quickness, but anything that involves gripping (i.e. tackling, recovering a fumble, intercepting a pass, etc.) is sure to present more of a challenge.
But it’s actually JPP’s thumb, which he fractured in the same fireworks mishap, that will keep him out of action for longer than the amputated finger. He’ll need three weeks of recovery for the index finger (or lack thereof) and six for the thumb.
What does this mean about Pierre-Paul’s future with the Giants? It’s uncertain. The Giants were apparently ready to offer him a long-term deal worth $40 million in guaranteed money. Now, it’s looking like about $15 million over the course of one season at best. Security means everything in a profession with high-injury risk and such a small shelf life. JPP seems to have squandered his.
Moral of the story: if you play with fireworks, you may lose a $40 million finger.
I wonder how much my finger is worth…
5) The Pan-American Games Began on Friday
The 2015 Pan-American Games in Toronto officially kicked off on Friday! As the “Nature Boy” Ric Flair would say, “WOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO!!!”
Okay, so maybe it’s not that exciting, but the games do serve as a good way to wet our appetites for next year’s Olympics.
The Pan-Am Games, which take place every four years, are basically the Olympics but just for countries in the Americas. Thousands of athletes from the U.S., Canada, Central America, and South America compete in a litany of sporting events to see who’s the best of the best in the Western Hemisphere.
Thirty-six different sports are to be played in the 2015 Pan-American Games compared to only twenty-eight in the 2016 Summer Olympics. You won’t find baseball, bowling, karate, racquetball, and water skiing in Rio next year, but you’ll see them this summer in Toronto!
The CBC (Canadian Broadcasting Corporation) app has full coverage of the Pan-Am Games with up-to-the-minute scoring and medal counts. You can also watch the Games on the various ESPN channels. Definitely worth checking out!
Other Tidbits of News:
NBA free agency was in full effect this past week with LeBron James, Marc Gasol, Jimmy Butler, Dwyane Wade, and Kawai Leonard staying put; Greg Monroe, Monta Ellis, David West, and Rajon Rondo taking their talents elsewhere. For a full list of free agent signings, click here.
The 2015 MLB All-Star Game rosters were announced on Monday, headlined by Mike Trout of the A.L. and Bryce Harper of the N.L. A-Roid (I mean, A-Rod) was snubbed.
Conor McGregor KO’d Chad Mendes in the second round of UFC 189 Saturday night.
Golfer Jordan Spieth won the John Deere Classic in dramatic playoff fashion. Dude is on an absolute tear right now. He recently won the U.S. Open and the Masters before that.
The 2015 NBA Summer League started this week, with top draft picks Karl-Anthony Towns, Jahlil Okafor, and D’Angelo Russell all making their debuts.