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Basketball

🏆🏂🏀

#BetOnWomen

March 04, 2021
Source: Raven B. Varona for Togethxr
Source: Raven B. Varona for Togethxr

👯👯Togethxr: We could hardly contain ourselves on Tuesday when soccer star Alex Morgan, WNBA legend Sue Bird, swimmer Simone Manuel and snowboarder Chloe Kim (all Olympic gold medalists, BTW) announced their joint venture in founding Togethxr: a media and commerce company.

  • The company aims to amplify the voices of female athletes, who make up 40% of sports participants but only receive about 4% of media coverage (except for here at The GIST, of course).
  • Togethxr will use storytelling to combine “culture, activism, lifestyle and sports,'' giving a new and exclusive platform to female athletes at all levels of competition. So here for this.

⚽️Soccer: Another group of powerful people bet on women this week too, including new additions to the NWSL’s Chicago Red Stars’ investor group. The group includes ESPN’s Sarah Spain, PWHPA star Kendall Coyne Schofield, her husband Carolina Panther Michael Schofield and the NFL’s Senior VP of Global Brand and Consumer Marketing, Julie Haddon.

🏀2021 NBA All-Star Game: This Weekend in Atlanta

March 04, 2021
Source: Nuccio Dinuzzo/EPA-EFE
Source: Nuccio Dinuzzo/EPA-EFE

All-Star Game: This weekend’s event in Atlanta — which includes the slam dunk contest, three-point contest, skills challenge and the All-Star Game itself — is set to raise over $3 million in scholarship money for students of HBCUs (Historically Black Colleges and Universities). 

  • Team LeBron James and Team Kevin Durant, along with the NBA, will also support Direct Relief, a humanitarian aid organization, and their Fund for Health Equity, which helps communities disproportionately affected by the pandemic.
  • All-Stars taking part in the festivities include Brooklyn Nets Kyrie Irving and James Harden (who made his return to Houston last night), Golden State Warrior Steph Curry and Dallas Maverick Luka Dončić. Check out the full roster and schedule here

Halfway mark: The All-Star break also marks the midpoint in the season, so here’s a look at how things stand going into the back-half of the season:

  • Western Conference: The Utah Jazz are the only team in the NBA with single-digit losses, and they lead the No. 2 Phoenix Suns and No. 3 LA Lakers. On the flipside, the last-place Minnesota Timberwolves haven’t even hit eight wins. Ouch.
  • Eastern Conference: While the Philadelphia 76ers are in the top spot, the Nets and rookie coach Steve Nash are sitting pretty at No. 2, just ahead of the Milwaukee Bucks, who’ve finished the last two seasons with the league’s best record. 

CA

Toronto Raptors: The All-Star break also marks the midpoint in the season, and unfortunately Canada’s team is headed into the break on a sour note. Not only were no Raps — for the first time in eight years — selected as All-Stars, but they also lost 129–105 to the Detroit Pistons (the worst team in the Eastern Conference) last night. 

  • They have one more chance to improve their 17-18 record tonight vs. the Boston Celtics at 7 p.m. ET.

🏀Philadelphia: The greatest city in the world

March 04, 2021
Source: The 76ers/Twitter.com
Source: The 76ers/Twitter.com

Sixers: The top-of-the East Sixers faced off against the Western Conference No. 1 Utah Jazz last night, and let’s just say our palms are still a little sweaty. The Sixers pulled out the 131–123 overtime win thanks to monstrous efforts by Joel Embiid, Ben Simmons, and Tobias Harris. We’re calling it now: Philly in four.

  • Embiid scored a clutch three-pointer to send them into overtime, and Harris took it from there, scoring 11 of the teams’ 13 in overtime. Damn. 
  • Now all we have to do is sit back, relax, and enjoy the rest of the NBA fawning over our No. 1 Sixers as we catch Embiid and Simmons in the All-Star game on Sunday. Life is sweet at the top. 

Wildcats: In a decisive 72–60 win over the No. 14-ranked Creighton Bluejays, the No. 10-ranked Wildcats showed no mercy. Guard Justin Moore led the team with 24 points, followed by forward Jeremiah Robinson-Earl with 14 and guard Brandon Slater with 11. The bad news? Collin Gillespie left the game with a knee injury late in the first half. 

While we’re not completely panicked (yet), the senior guard is a team leader and a huge part of ’Nova’s success this season. It’d leave a major hole on the court if Gillespie were to miss the postseason. *deep breaths*

🏀New York: Hey now, you’re an All-Star

March 04, 2021
Source: Chris Schwegler/Getty Images
Source: Chris Schwegler/Getty Images

On the court: Like many NBAers, Randle was drafted after a stand-out freshman year with the Kentucky Wildcats. In 2014, the LA Lakers selected Randle seventh overall, and he went on to spend four seasons with the team. The Knicks signed him in 2019 after he spent one season with the New Orleans Pelicans. 

  • While Randle has always been a player-to-know in the league, this is the first season in which he’s truly shone. He’s on track to earn a career-high in points, rebounds, and assists in a season. Growth mindset, baby. 

Off the court: The 26-year-old Dallas native has loved basketball since the age of three. He learned how to play tough from his mother, Carolyn Kyles, who played basketball at the University of Texas at Arlington. He still wears No. 30, the number she wore. And now his son does too. S’cute. 

🏀It's Almost March Madness

March 04, 2021
Source: Adam Creech/Louisville Athletics
Source: Adam Creech/Louisville Athletics

🏆Conference tournaments: Women’s conference tournament action began yesterday, with 31 automatic bids to March Madness on the line. The excitement will really pick up with this weekend’s late round matchups, when many of the top 25 teams begin their playoff runs.

  • Keep an eye on the SEC and Pac-12 tourneys. Six of the top 25 teams are from the SEC, while the Pac-12 boasts four. Watch for a potential rematch of No. 2 Texas A&M’s win over No. 7 South Carolina to clinch the SEC regular-season crown. Spicy.
  • With each conference operating a tournament on their own schedule, some teams will punch their ticket to San Antonio as early as this Saturday, while others will have to wait until next weekend. More hoops for us!

💪Players to watch: As we start to crown conference champs, there’s also some individual hardware to hand out. The semifinalist list for the Naismith Player of the Year award was released on Tuesday, and it’s anyone’s guess as to who will take home the honors. 

Could UConn phenom Paige Bueckers (pronounced BECKERS) become the first freshman to win the award? Or will veteran talent like two-time ACC Player of the Year Louisville guard Dana Evans reign supreme? Truth and time will tell all.