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🏆Tell me something good

April 09, 2020
SOURCE: HAYLEY WICKENHEISER/TWITTER
SOURCE: HAYLEY WICKENHEISER/TWITTER

The GIST: The COVID-19 pandemic is kind of bumming us out, so let’s just talk about the good news stories today, cool?

Cool! What’s good?: Earlier this week, hockey legend Hayley Wickenheiser (keep scrolling for more on her) put out a call on Twitter for personal protective equipment (PPE) donations for Toronto hospitals, offering “a signed jersey, a smile and guaranteed good karma” in return. Then Blake Lively’s husband, Ryan Reynolds, upped the ante.

  • Reynolds said that in exchange for PPE donations, he’d give autographs, signed memorabilia and even “raise your children as if they were my own.” Sign us up! Wick, who’s currently in medical school (is there anything she can’t do?), and Reynolds have now teamed up with Conquer COVID-19 to run weekly PPE donation drives in Toronto.

Love that! What else d’you got?: Well, speaking of PPE, snowboarding company Burton and hockey equipment manufacturer CCM are each making and donating 500,000 masks to frontline workers in Canada and the US. Donna Burton Carpenter, owner of Burton, is using her own money to fund the manufacturing of the masks, while CCM’s sponsored players, like superstar Sidney Crosby, are donating to the cause.

  • Tampa Bay’s newest celebrity couple, Buccaneers quarterback Tom Brady (doesn’t that sound so weird?!) and supermodel Gisele Bündchen have donated 750,000 meals to their new hometown’s food banks. Way to make good with the new fans!

So amazing! Anymore?: On Monday, we told you about a potential televised game of H-O-R-S-E that would have NBA stars playing the classic playground game with a physical-distancing twist. Well, it looks like it’s actually in the works and is set to feature Oklahoma City Thunder Chris Paul, Chicago Bull Zach LaVine, Atlanta Hawk and TikTok king Trae Young, and some as-of-yet unnamed WNBA stars. So freaking fun!

🏒Mad world, mad world

April 06, 2020
SOURCE: NHL.COM
SOURCE: NHL.COM

The GIST: If it weren’t for the COVID-19 pandemic, we’d be busy enjoying the IIHF Women’s World Hockey Championship (WWHC) that was set to take place in Halifax and Truro, Nova Scotia, from March 31st to April 10th. And because we miss the good ol’ hockey game so freaking much, we’re highlighting our top three women’s international hockey moments.

3. Team Canada and Team USA are far and away the two powerhouses in women’s hockey — they’ve placed first or second at the WWHC every year since the tournament started in 1990...until last year. The 2019 WWHC saw the Finnish take home the silver after upsetting Canada 4–2 in the semifinals and just losing to the US in overtime (OT) in a v. controversial final.

  • And as much as we live for the classic Canada-USA rivalry, we loved seeing a fresh face in the finals. It demonstrated just how much the women’s game is improving and how much it’s growing globally, and it reminded us that in sports, you can’t take anything for granted.

2. There’s nothing like the rivalry between Team Canada and Team USA at the Olympics, and the 2018 PyeongChang Olympic gold medal game was no exception. After Canada had owned the podium four Olympics in a row (from 2002 to 2014), the US was out for revenge.

  • Midway through the third period, Canada was up 2–1 and the gold medal was within reach...until the Lamoureux twins (you know, the sister act we talked about last week) kicked it into high gear: Monique scored to force the game into overtime (which settled nothing) and Jocelyne netted the winner in the shootout to give the US their first Olympic gold medal in 20 years (much to the chagrin of Canadian ice dancing star, Scott Moir).

1. If the 2018 Olympic gold medal game was drama, the 2014 Olympic gold medal game in Sochi was DAH-RA-MA. Early in the third period, the US was up 2–0 over the Canadians and seemed to have a stranglehold on the game — that is, until Canada’s Brianne Jenner scored to make it 2–1 with three minutes left.

  • With just over a minute left in the game, Canada pulled their goalie in order to have an extra attacker on the ice to try to tie it up. And that decision was almost a costly one for Canada, as the Americans had a shot on the empty net but the puck just hit the post. Talk about anxiety-inducing.
  • Canada then sped back up the ice, and you guessed it, SCORED with moments to spare thanks to Marie-Philip Poulin (pronounced POO-LEHN). The game then went into overtime, where, on a power play (that, TBH could have been a penalty shot), Poulin scored again, ending what is arguably the greatest women’s hockey game ever played.

🏀You’re the best around

April 06, 2020
SOURCE: THE ROOT/TWITTER
SOURCE: THE ROOT/TWITTER

 The GIST: It’s award season! And no, we’re not talking about the Oscars. We’re talking about basketball.

The Naismith Awards: The Naismith Awards, named after the inventor of basketball James Naismith, are given out to the year’s best high school and NCAA players, and this year’s women’s player of the year is no surprise. Oregon Ducks superstar Sabrina Ionescu (pronounced YOH-NESS-COO) took home the Naismith after breaking basically every record and setting a bunch of new ones. She deserves every award.

  • University of South Carolina head coach Dawn Staley was named Coach of the Year. Staley won the Naismith Player of the Year award in 1991 and 1992, so this year’s win makes her the first-ever recipient, male or female, of both awards. Yas queen. And on the men’s side, Obi Toppin and Anthony Grant won the player and coach awards, respectively.

Basketball Hall of Fame: The Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame (not to be confused with the Naismith Awards...but yes, same guy) announced the 2020 inductees and...there are no surprises here either. The legendary Kobe Bryant will be enshrined during the August ceremony, along with fellow NBA players Kevin Garnett and Tim Duncan and WNBA legend Tamika Catchings.

  • Coaches Kim Mulkey and Barbara Stevens will also be inducted into the Hall of Fame. Mulkey has coached Baylor’s women’s team in 18 NCAA tournaments, winning three times, and, fun fact, is the first person, male or female, to win a national championship as a player, assistant coach and head coach. Stevens, who has coached Bentley University since 1986, is the fourth-winningest coach in NCAA history. Talk about badass!

And the beat keeps running running

April 06, 2020
SOURCE: NESN/TWITTER
SOURCE: NESN/TWITTER

 The GIST: And so it continues. With no real end in sight to the COVID-19 pandemic (sorry to be downers about it!), the sports world is faced with ongoing postponements and more cancelations. On the bright side, it’s also brought on a new opportunity for creativity.

What’s postponed now?: A few things. WNBA training camps were set to start on April 26th, but with new social distancing guidelines imposed until at least April 30th, they’ve suspended those and delayed the original May 15th season tip-off indefinitely.

  • The NWSL has also put a hold on team training until at least May 5th, with no word on when the season will begin (it was originally slated for April 18th), and the LPGA’s US Open has been moved from June to December. Honestly, worth the wait.

And cancelations?: The Belgian Pro League will become the first European soccer league to completely cancel the remainder of their season. The board of directors made the decision to skip all remaining regular season games and the playoffs, and will name Club Bruges the champion based on their regular season performance.

  • With most European soccer leagues and the NBA and NHL approaching what would have been the postseason, we’re thinking we’ll probably see more of this. Bummer.

And what’s this about creativity?: With almost all leagues (we’re side-eyeing you, Belarus) around the world respecting social distancing rules, the sports world is getting creative with fan engagement. The NBA is currently working with ESPN on a televised game of HORSE (you know, the classic playground game) that would include some of the top players from the league. No word on who’s in, but we’re pretty pumped for this...if it actually happens.

But, how?!: Through technology. And a lot of other leagues are relying heavily on it right now, too. The NFL is preparing for a completely virtual 2020 Draft, from April 23rd to 25th. Meanwhile, the NBA 2K Player Tournament, which features the NBA’s top talent playing the video game NBA 2K20 against each other, is underway, and NASCAR and Formula 1 are regularly broadcasting virtual races featuring current and past drivers. Kids and their technology.

So fun! Any more good news?: Sure thing! In an Instagram post with his wife, model Kate Upton, Houston Astros star pitcher Justin Verlander announced they’ll be donating his weekly paycheck to COVID-19 relief.

  • And with the 2020 Summer Olympics pushed back a year, the governor of Tokyo, Yuriko Koike, is looking to repurpose the Athletes Village. The 24-building complex is still under construction, but the Japanese government is considering using the hotel-style rooms as self-isolation rooms and hospital wards for COVID-19 patients. You love to see it.

I pity the fool

April 02, 2020
MIKE KAI VIA BUSINESS INSIDER
MIKE KAI VIA BUSINESS INSIDER

The GIST: TBH, we’re rattled that this sick joke of a year isn’t a big April Fools’ joke from Mother Nature. But, to honor the spirit of the day, we’re highlighting the top five pranks from the sports world.

5. For this one, we’re going all the way back to 2004, when all was right in the world and “Yeah!” by Usher, Lil Jon and Ludacris topped the charts. At the annual Harvard-Yale football game, 26 Yale students dressed up as a “Harvard Pep Squad” and handed out over 1,800 colored paper signs (you know, those big cards that fans in stands raise above their heads at sports games) to the unsuspecting Harvard crowd.

  • The “Pep Squad” then had all of these fans raise their cards at the same time, with the words spelling out “WE SUCK.” This stunt, inspired by the Rose Bowl prank in the 1960s, has gone down in the history books as one of the best college pranks ever.

4. Rookies always face some sort of hazing, but this one had it coming. During the 2004–05 NBA season, movie-star Lucy Liu attended a LA Lakers game. And after the game, rookie Tony Bobbitt apparently told everyone that she was staring at him the whole time (he wishes).

  • In response, a few of the veteran Lakers had a ball boy bring Bobbitt a piece of paper with a phone number on it, saying that it was from Liu, but the number actually belonged to Lakers center Vlade Divac (pronounced VLAH-DAY DEE-VAHTZ). 
     
  • Bobbitt texted back and forth with “Lucy Liu” (it was actually his teammates), and ultimately set up a dinner date. But, of course, when Bobbitt showed up at the restaurant, it wasn’t the Charlie’s Angels star waiting for him, it was his teammates. Serves him right.

3. Let’s take it back to the 2014 Sochi Winter Olympics. To refresh your memory, there was a lot of, um, #SochiProblems, including stray dogs roaming the streets of Russia. So when US Olympic luger Kate Hansen tweeted a video of a wolf wandering the hallways of her dorm in Sochi, no one questioned it and it was picked up by news and sports outlets in minutes.

  • However, this was all a big prank beautifully orchestrated by Kate and talk show host Jimmy Kimmel. Watch it all go down here.

2. On April Fools’ Day in 2008, cycling magazine VeloNews announced that US cycling Olympians Connie Carpenter and Davis Phinney had created a company in which they would sell their eggs or sperm for $250k each (or both for $1 million!) so that families could create the “ideal champion baby.”

  • Of course, this was an April Fools’ joke and the company was fictional; however, many readers took the words at face value and tried to reach out to the company — a new meaning of doing anything to win.

1. We have another Jimmy — this time The Tonight Show host Jimmy Fallon — to thank for this prank. At last year’s US Open Grand Slam, Fallon had tennis superstars like Naomi Osaka, Madison Keys, Ashleigh Barty and Novak Djokovic (pronounced JOKE-OH-VITCH) help him prank fans and media by dropping some, shall we say, unusual phrases during their press conferences. You have to see it to believe it.