TWIST: This Week in Sports Talk is a weekly recap of the three things you need to know this coming week if you want to join a conversation about sports. Game on.
We start this week with news from Washington. The Supreme Court has ruled that the Professional and Amateur Sports Protection Act of 1992 (PASPA) is unconstitutional, paving the way for states to institute legalized sports betting. The decision is likely to lead to a proliferation of legalized gambling, since both the sports leagues and the state legislatures view it as a significant new revenue opportunity. What it means for sports, fans, and the general public is a matter of debate. In fact, that’s your easiest opening this week with the sports fans in your life. Just ask them what they think of the decision.
Meanwhile, for Those Who Do Not Follow Professional Sports, here’s what you need to know this week.
3 for the week of May 20, 2018:
1. NBA Conference Finals. Must know: The Cleveland Cavaliers are in a dramatic battle with the Boston Celtics. As of this posting, the Cavs are down 0-2. LeBron James has consistently demonstrated superhuman abilities, but as our Executive Sports Desk Editor notes “one superhuman versus a good team cannot win.” Will the Cavs lose to the Celts? Some people still swear that there’s no way LeBron is going to let that happen. If it does, it’s a near certainty that he’ll take his talent elsewhere next season. Be sure to check the Game 3 results from Saturday night before you head into the office on Monday. Nice to know: In the Western Conference, the Houston Rockets and the Golden State Warriors are tied 1 – 1, with their next game on Sunday night. Despite all the pre-season talk about dynasties, it’s plausible that the Warriors could lose this one. Steph Curry is still recuperating from an injury, and while Kevin Durant is playing well, so is James Harden. Whoever wins this series will be favored to win this year’s Championship. Extra credit: In this week’s NBA Draft Lottery, the winners were #1 Phoenix Suns, #2 Sacramento Kings, and #3 Atlanta Hawks; the flailing New York Knicks remain at #9. Bonus Round: The Toronto Raptors lost 4-0 in their Round 2 series with the Cavs, after finishing the season with a franchise-best regular season 59 wins. As a result, their head coach Dwayne Casey – named a finalist for Coach of the Year – was summarily fired. And you thought your job was hard.
2. MLB. Must know: The New York Yankees are currently tied with the Boston Red Sox in the American League East. The Yanks have been on a roll: for the first time in franchise history, the team had 4 players with over 10 home runs each by the 40th game of the season. Lot of sluggers on that team. Nice to know: Meanwhile, across town the New York Mets remain well behind after an 11-2 start to the season; they’re now 3.5 games out of first place in the National League East. The National League West pre-season favorite LA Dodgers are significantly underperforming, and are currently 7.5 games out of first place. Extra credit: Seattle Mariners’ second baseman Robinson Cano was banned this week for 80 games for using a drug commonly known to mask performance-enhancing drugs; he denies wrongdoing but has accepted the penalty. Former teammate Mark Teixeira promptly threw Cano under the bus, essentially saying “I love him, but I’m not surprised.” Nice. Meanwhile, ace pitcher Justin Verlander has been one of the most outspoken players when it comes to positive tests for performance-enhancing drugs, insisting on stiffer penalties and calling out players who deny knowingly taking PEDs in the face of positive test results. He Tweeted about Cano only minutes before Cano released his public denial.
3. NFL on HBO. Must know: First round draft pick Baker Mayfield and the Cleveland Browns will be the subject of the upcoming season of HBO’s “Hard Knocks,” a long-running reality TV show in which an NFL team is filmed from the start of training camp until the actual season starts. Viewers get a behind-the-scenes look at all the workouts, players getting cut, etc. People will be keen to see the Browns’ quarterback situation play out – it’ll be Tyra Taylor versus Mayfield. Stay tuned. Nice to know: Nice-guy-next door and scion of an NFL royal family Eli Manning of the New York Giants has settled a sports memorabilia fraud lawsuit before it could go to trial. “Aw shucks” Eli is viewed as having thrown his equipment manager under the bus, claiming clean hands after emailing him this note: “need 2 helmets that can pass as game used. That’s it Eli.” That’s definitely one of those Things that Make You Go Hmm . . . Extra credit: The Carolina Panthers were sold for $2.275 billion to hedge fund mogul and ex-Goldman Sachs banker David Tepper (formerly a minority owner of the Pittsburg Steelers) after Panthers owner Jerry Richardson was accused of sexual harassment and workplace misconduct last December. Is that supposed to be a punishment? Seriously? You know you have it good when, like the former owner of the LA Clippers Donald Sterling, you insult or harm people and the worst thing that happens to you is you’re forced to sell an asset that nets you $2 billion plus. Bonus Round: Matt Patricia, former New England Patriots defensive coordinator and now head coach of the Detroit Lions, was accused of sexual assault 25 years ago, before he was employed in the NFL. Although the charges were ultimately dropped, there’s been a lot of debate about why it wasn’t flagged before he was offered the head coaching job.
Yep, the NHL playoffs are still going on – it’s down to four teams. You should follow this if you have hockey fans in your life, or if you live in one of these home cities: Washington DC, Tampa, Las Vegas, or Winnipeg.
That’s it. You’re good to go. See you next week.