To follow sports is to bear witness to mismanagement, incompetence, disappointment, and bad luck . . . but now and again, for certain people, for a certain time, everything goes right. This past weekend, we saw the culmination of those golden epochs for America's two greatest superstars,
Kawhi Leonard and Megan Rapinoe.
Let's start with Kawhi, who was dealt to Toronto last summer after getting fed up with the Spurs, didn't really want to go, but became a hero of a city and an entire country by delivering Canada its first NBA title. He was always planning to leave this summer, probably, but the way he left, by joining an L.A. Clippers team with an incredible supporting cast and singlehandedly stealing Paul George away from Oklahoma City en route . . . well, it's a breathtaking coup for a player to pull off. Not even a GM...a player. Plus, he gets to go home! The Clips became immediate Vegas title favorites, and Kawhi cemented his reputation as the guy who couldn't put a foot wrong, on court or off, if he tried. (Last, let me just say that Kevin Durant is going to really, really regret not saying "hell yes" to Kawhi's recruiting pitch . . . this is not a guy an intelligent person would rebuff. Have fun debating the flat earth theory with Kyrie, big fella.)
Next there's Rapinoe, who never shied away from standing proudly on the most public pedestal as the U.S. women's soccer team fought for its fourth World Cup. As the most prominent figure on a prominent team, she already had enough pressure on her shoulders, but she never bothered to hide from the attention. Whether she was fielding questions about her sexuality, or the president, or equal pay, or just...soccer...she was unapologetically herself. Because she's so magnetic, the eyes of the world were fixed on her every time she stepped on the pitch, and mannnn, did she deliver. In every critical moment, she came up huge for the U.S., and in the end she captured the Golden Ball (MVP) and Golden Boot (top scorer). We tend to worship athletic role models who fit into a mold of respectability, but for me, we should reserve our greatest praise for those like Rapinoe who stand in the harsh glare of the media spotlight and manage to behave exactly like themselves.
The Best Sports Pose Since Usain Bolt: Rapinoe
My personal opinion is that the greatest (intentional) sports pose in the history of athletics belongs to Usain Bolt, who somehow encapsulated his own energy, charisma, and otherworldly speed into a single static-yet-fluid bit of postural lightning:
I can't imagine anyone topping that, but I think Megan Rapinoe has officially earned "best pose since Bolt" status with her imperial, arms-spread-wide, slightly puckish, slightly defiant goal celebration that we saw against France and again in the final against the Netherlands:
Bow down before your Warrior Queen!
Comically Wrong Sports Take of the Week: Chris Broussard, FS1
The key to a really bad sports take is not just that it ends up being wrong—that's not nearly enough. No, the take itself must be so decisive, so self-assured, so emphatic that it leaves not even the slightest possibility of a different outcome...a different outcome, of course, that eventually comes true. I should know—I wrote the ultimate bad take about Tiger Woods, proclaiming him "done" beyond reclamation, and though it took a few years, my comeuppance was severe. I deserved it, too. When you go way out on a limb with total, reckless bravado, you must be prepared for the branch to break.
Enter Chris Broussard:
All of that...all of it, every word, is chef kisses lips. From the "deep soul-searching" designed to make it seem like Broussard had sources close to Kawhi, to the detail about Drake offering "involvement" with his record label (which sounds very un-Kawhi-like, for what it's worth), to the dismissive "Clippers out" and the concluding "Very close," it's just a masterpiece of blindfolded dart-throwing. Now, I have sympathy for Broussard, obviously—I don't think one aggressively wrong take should be held against a guy for very long. But I do think the genre should be celebrated. It happened to me, and what's good for the goose is good for the gander. Cheers, Chris!
The Saddest Bad Timing of the Week: David Holt, Oklahoma City Mayor
God, just look at this:
A year ago, Mayor Holt made July 7 "Paul George Day," with a proclamation and everything. The worst part is, it was a celebration of his loyalty and his love for the city and etc., and it included a shot at everyone in the national media who thought he would leave.
Now, a year later, July 7 comes the day after George jumped ship, essentially forcing a trade from the Thunder after Kawhi recruited him to L.A. That's brutal, especially for a franchise and city that so recently lost Kevin Durant. And this probably means that Russell Westbrook is being shopped too, since the Thunder at this point are out of stars in a loaded conference and should pretty much just go straight into rebuilding mode. (If you were wondering if Westbrook has his own proclamation...the answer is another sad yes.)
So, um...happy Paul George Day, OKC!
Worst International Sports Take of the Week: This Salty Euro
You absolutely gotta love this piping hot platter of wrong that immediately followed the U.S. Women winning the World Cup:
First of all, to quote Jimmy McNulty: What the $%@# did they do? Sure, they won their first match 13-0, and I can totally see taking issue with that (I did, though I've walked it back since), but beyond that? The behavior of the team and its fans was completely above board.
Second, the U.S. has done just fine for itself in international sports. Not to get all patriotic, but aside from soccer, who else would you say has had more international sporting success? I mean, America has 2,827 Olympic medals, for one, which is about 1,600 more than the runner up (Soviet Union). Whatever metric you want to throw out there, beyond "Men's soccer World Cups won," you're not going to find anyone better.
Third, and most importantly, European soccer hooligans actually murder each other! And their racism is way more overt! They're legitimately bad people! God knows I'm not saying American attitudes are flawless, but good lord, Miguel, look in a mirror.
P.S. we're so awesome at women's sports partly because of Title IX, so we've got the moral high ground too.
Cursed Image of the Week: THIS
After pondering the image below for painful hours, I take back the previous section: I'm with Miguel, America is bad. Folks, if you haven't already seen this image originally tweeted out from Bleacher Report and quickly deleted, I apologize for ruining the women's World Cup victory for you:
I don't know where to begin, so I'll leave you with this: Why are all six Friends in that picture?