🏆 Best of the rest
Australian Open: The Super Bowl wasn’t the only championship match played this weekend. The Australian Open, the first Grand Slam event of the tennis season (the others being the French Open, Wimbledon and the US Open), officially came to a close with two monster matches. In the women’s final on Saturday, 21-year-old American Sofia Kenin beat Spaniard Garbiñe Muguruza to win her first-ever Grand Slam title. And get this: it was also the first time Kenin had ever played in a Grand Slam final! From what we saw, it definitely won’t be her last.
- In yesterday’s men’s final, living legend Novak Djokovic (pronounced JOKE-OH-VITCH) held off the young gun Dominic Thiem (pronounced TEAM) in a five-set nailbiter to win his record eighth Aussie Open title and 17th (!!!) career Grand Slam. With the come-from-behind win, Djokovic is now World No. 1 and the first man to win a Grand Slam title in three different decades. Cool, no?
Soccer: Team USA is lighting it up at the CONCACAF Women’s Olympic Qualifying tournament in Houston, TX. After starting the tournament with an easy win against Haiti, they put on a show on Friday, beating Panama 8–0 in the second of three group-stage matches. Six players made it to the scoresheet, including a hattrick from midfielder Lindsey Horan. Final group stage match is set for tonight at 8:30 p.m. ET.
🏈 Whenever, Wherever
The GIST: After last year’s unmemorable Super Bowl halftime show, Shakira and Jennifer Lopez were under big pressure to bring us a good show. And hot damn, did they deliver!
Shakira, Shakira: The Colombian queen kicked off the show in some v. practical footwear with “She Wolf,” before giving us a medley of her biggest hits, including “Whenever, Wherever” and “Hips Don’t Lie” (which ended in an epic stage dive!). Yesterday was Shakira’s 43rd birthday and she belly-danced her way around that stage like she was 23. We’re still gagging over it.
Jenny from the Block: JLo, who is FIFTY YEARS OLD (ahem, can we please have their skin-care routine?), picked up right where Shakira left off, with a Hustlers-inspired performance, and our jaws are literally still on the floor (seriously, how is she 50?!). While she was pumping out bangers like “Love Don’t Cost a Thing” and “Waiting for Tonight,” we were googling “JLo hair inspo.”
Collab of the century: These two together were legen — wait for it — dary. Seeing them shake it to “Waka Waka,” channel Cheer and rock out to “Born In The USA” with Shakira on drums and JLo and her daughter, Emme, on vocals was the most Girl Power performance we’ve seen in a while. Lucky for us, we can relive it over and over again.
Our take: We need these two every year. EVERY. YEAR. Surprisingly, we’re actually fine that they didn’t really perform together. Each gave us totally different vibes but paid homage to their Latina roots and kept us dancing the whole time. This is the halftime show that people will be talking about for years and one that they will compare all future halftime shows to. Good luck to whoever has to follow up on this act next year.
Oh, and a quick shoutout!: To one of our faves, Demi Lovato. She killed the pregame national anthem. She’s had a rough go the past few years, and we’re so happy to see her looking and sounding amazing. The girl’s got pipes!
🎾 Crikey, that’s good tennis!
The GIST: Believe it or not, we’re almost down to the final matches of the Australian Open — the first grand slam tennis tournament of the season!
What’s up with the women?: The stage is set for Saturday’s finals with Sofia Kenin taking on Garbiñe Murguruza. How’d this happen? Well, last night, or we guess early this morning, World No. 1 and Aussie-standout Ashleigh Barty took on No. 14 American Sofia Kenin, with Kenin upsetting Barty in straight sets. Meanwhile, Simona Halep was also upset by Garbiñe Murguruza in straight sets. TBH, we didn’t see these two upsets coming, but you have to love an underdog story.
And how about the men?: Two of the biggest names in tennis history, Roger Federer and Novak Djokovic (pronounced JOKE-OH-VITCH), played their semi in the wee hours of this morning with Djokovic completely dominating Fed also in straight sets. We guess straight-set energy was in the air last night?
- As for the other semifinal, Alexander Zverev (pronounced SVAIR-EV) and Dominic Thiem (pronounced TEAM) take the court on Friday at 3:30 a.m. ET. And this match could get interesting — Zverev has quietly beasted the competition on the way to his first Grand Slam semifinal, but Thiem upset Spanish legend Rafael Nadal in the quarter-finals. Tricky, tricky.
Who will win it all?: You can never be too sure in sports, but our bet would be on young-gun 21-year-old Sofia Kenin to win her first Grand Slam title and that Djokovic will walk away with his second-straight, and record eighth, Aussie Open.
🏈 Nacho average football game
The GIST: The Big Game is right around the corner! Here’s #thegist of Super Bowl LIV (that’s fancy-speak for 54).
First, tell me when the game is: Action kicks off on Sunday, February 2nd, at 6:30 p.m. ET. And if you’re not lucky enough to be at the Hard Rock Stadium in Miami, Florida, you can find out where to watch here.
Great! Now who’s playing?: The high-flying Kansas City Chiefs (who won the American Football Conference, aka AFC, and are heading to their first SB in 50 years) will play against the top-ranked defense of the San Francisco 49ers (who ran away with the National Football Conference, aka NFC).
- Even though San Fran is basking in their reclaimed dominance, KC really wants this one for their head coach’s legacy. KC’s Andy Reid is one of the most accomplished head coaches in NFL history, but he’s missing a Super Bowl win. It’s also been 15 years since his last chance at a title, so we’re guessing the boys will be pretty motivated to get Reid his celebratory cheeseburger.
So, who will win?: These two teams can’t be a closer match, with San Fran finishing the season at 13-3 and KC at 12-4. KC is just a one-point favorite to win, which basically means even the oddsmakers have no clue who TF is going to take this one. The one thing we can guarantee? Quarterbacks Patrick Mahomes (KC) and Jimmy Garoppolo (San Fran) will both have to bring their A-games if either one wants to pull out a victory.
What about the halftime show?: Who would be more perfect headliners in the American capital of Latin music than Jennifer Lopez and Shakira? Nobody. And our
hips words don’t lie when we say their performance might be what we’re anticipating most.
Anything else?: Don’t forget that herstory will also be made when 49ers offensive assistant coach Katie Sowers becomes the first openly LGBTQ+ and female full-time coach to get to the NFL’s biggest stage. Cheers to shattering not one, but two glass ceilings!
Want more?: We thought you would. Our special edition launch podcast is all about the Super Bowl. Click here to get The GIST of It.
🏀 RIP to to two legends
The world has lost a legend. Former NBA superstar Kobe Bryant was killed in a helicopter accident yesterday, along with his 13-year-old daughter Gianna and seven others: Orange County College baseball coach John Altobelli, his wife, Keri, and daughter Alyssa, Harbor Day School girls’ basketball coach Christina Mauser and three others that, as of writing, have yet to be confirmed.
- The group was said to be on their way to Mamba Sports Academy, Kobe’s multisport youth training facility in Thousand Oaks, California, for Gianna and Alyssa’s basketball tournament, when the helicopter suffered mechanical failure and crashed in Calabasas, California.
Kobe, 41, and Vanessa, his wife of almost 19 years, had four daughters together: Natalia, Gianna, Bianka and newborn Capri. He is best known for his iconic 20-season career with the Los Angeles Lakers, where he won five NBA championships and two Olympic gold medals while racking up an NBA MVP award, two Finals MVPs and 18 All-Star nominations before retiring in 2016.
Kobe Bean Bryant was a Philadelphia native and top-ranked talent at Lower Merion High School before he was picked 13th by the Charlotte Hornets in 1996, making him the youngest NBA player in history (at the time) and first guard drafted right out of high school. Bryant was traded to the LA Lakers on draft night, and he made sure the Hornets regretted it.
Even his 60-point final game was legendary, perfectly summing up his widely respected “Mamba Mentality” in one classic moment. Both his jersey numbers, 8 and 24, have been retired by the Lakers and hang in the Staples Center rafters.
- And Kobe’s NBA involvement was still ongoing. On Saturday, LeBron James surpassed Bryant to become the NBA’s third-highest scorer of all time. The night before the tragic and shocking crash, Kobe took to Twitter to congratulate his friend for “moving the game forward.”
After his retirement, the “Black Mamba” was often seen sitting courtside at NBA and WNBA games with his daughter Gianna, whose middle school team he coached. But his impact has also been felt away from the game — he started a company called Granity Studios, which develops books, podcasts, TV shows and movies, and won an Oscar for Best Animated Short in 2018.
Kobe’s second-oldest daughter, Gianna Maria-Onore (or GiGi, as she was affectionately called), was a rising star in her own right. The thirteen-year-old, nicknamed “Mambacita,” had goals to follow in her dad’s hardwood footsteps and continue his legacy. And she definitely had the talent to do it, thanks in part to the bond she shared with her father over the game of basketball.
What makes this tragedy hurt even more is the loss of such a bright future. GiGi was an elite baller with aspirations to play college hoops at UConn and she had the full support of her legendary dad behind her.
Kobe and GiGi used their large platform to speak highly of women’s sports — especially basketball — and helped grow the game by simply giving women the positive attention they deserve. GiGi, a promising young life who could’ve led the next generation, was taken way too soon.
Kobe was a player and a fan. His impact on the game was immeasurable, and his support of women’s sports was remarkable. He was a steadfast figure at WNBA games and women’s soccer matches, mentoring players like Oregon superstar Sabrina Ionescu and supporting girls’ youth programs across the country.
We would be remiss if we didn’t say that Kobe wasn’t perfect, and some may have difficulties mourning this loss. We know that he was a complicated character, but we also know that it’s okay to mourn complicated characters. Today, we choose to focus on the good that Kobe brought to the NBA, WNBA and sports world in general.
His loss has already been felt globally, with former teammates, rivals, politicians, celebrities and athletes from every sport publicly expressing their reaction to the news. NBA teams in action yesterday honored Kobe with 8 and 24 second shot-clock violations to start the games, and a shrine has been set up outside the Staples Center, where he played as an LA Laker.
Many current NBA and WNBA players cite Kobe as their idol and the reason they began playing the game, and all were saddened and shocked by the loss of such an impactful and legendary figure in the sport and by the loss of his legacy in Gianna. While the world grieves, our thoughts are with Kobe’s wife and GiGi’s sisters.
Life is short. Tell people you love them. Give someone a big hug. Be kind to yourself. And, as Kobe said, “Have a good time.”