Boston Celtics star Jaylen Brown provided another reminder of how athletes have the power to elevate and inspire beyond sports on Saturday.
He drove 15 hours from Boston to Atlanta — a city that’s just 20 minutes from where he grew up in Marietta, Georgia — to lead a peaceful protest over racial injustice and the death of George Floyd.
During the march, which also included Pacers guard Malcolm Brogdon, rapper Lil Yachty (both Georgia natives), Brown walked with a sign that read: “I can’t breathe.” Both Floyd and Eric Garner, another victim of police brutality, uttered the words before they died.
Brown, the NBA Players Association vice president, addressed the marchers on a megaphone.
“This is a peaceful protest. Being a celebrity, being an NBA player, don’t exclude me from no conversations at all. First and foremost, I’m a black man and I’m a member of this community,” Brown said. “We’re raising awareness for some of the injustices that we’ve been seeing. It’s not OK.
“As a young person, you’ve got to listen to our perspective. Our voices need to be heard. I’m 23 years old. I don’t know all of the answers. But I feel how everybody else is feeling, for sure. No question.”
Many pro athletes have been outspoken on social media since the death of George Floyd. Former NFL quarterback Colin Kaepernick has been paying for legal fees for protestors in Minneapolis. Brown’s decision to lead and march in a protest speaks to his commitment. He organized and mobilized, and should inspire others to do the same.
The images of him in that protest are truly powerful.
Three of the Atlanta protest’s participants were arrested, and Brown seems to have identified those protestors in order to help them post bail. He was frustrated on social media that these protestors got “wrongfully arrested” at a protest where there was no violence.
We’ve seen various levels of engagement from coaches and athletes in the aftermath of Floyd’s death. An important conversation is finally starting. Brown, though, opted to take direct action and lead others to physically take a stand against police brutality and racism. It’s inspiring work.
Lecavalier, St. Louis thrilled to see Lightning win Stanley Cup again – NHL.com
The two friends and former teammates were key cogs in the Lightning’s run to the 2004 NHL championship, which until this Monday was the only one in franchise history. They played the lion’s share of their careers in Tampa Bay, Lecavalier skating 14 of his 18 NHL seasons for the Lightning, from 1998-99 to 2012-13, St. Louis playing nearly 13 of his 16 seasons for the team, from 2000-01 deep into 2013-14.
“I’ve sent text messages to a few players and told them, ‘Enjoy this, let it sink in, because you never know if you’re going to experience it again,'” Lecavalier said on Tuesday, having just golfed a round of 79 despite a cell phone that buzzed good wishes from tee to green. “I’ve told them, ‘You think now that you’re young and you might win another three or four, but things change quickly in hockey. Enjoy it while it’s here.'”
St. Louis is thinking of many of the same people. The 45-year-old played with a handful of those who formed the nucleus of the 2019-20 Lightning, including cornerstones Steven Stamkos, Victor Hedman, Nikita Kucherov and Ondrej Palat, and he cherishes memories of those off the ice who tended to his health and cared for his equipment.
He spoke, too, of having gone to the 2014 Stanley Cup Final with defenseman Ryan McDonagh, when their New York Rangers were defeated by the Los Angeles Kings in five games.
“We lost that year, so I’m happy that Ryan gets to win it now,” St. Louis said. “All the staff in Tampa when I was there, the trainers, they’re the same guys. The Stanley Cup is going to bring a lot of joy to so many people. It’s a good-looking trophy and it’s a hard one to win.”
Their careers ended elsewhere — Lecavalier with the Kings in 2015-16, St. Louis with the Rangers in 2014-15 — but both are best identified with the Lightning, revered in Tampa where St. Louis’ No. 26 was retired to the rafters of Amalie Arena in 2017, a year before Lecavalier’s No. 4 joined it.
With Tampa, St. Louis was a three-time Lady Byng Trophy recipient, twice won the Art Ross Trophy and won the Hart Trophy and Ted Lindsay Award once each. For his League-leading 52 goals in 2006-07, Lecavalier was awarded the Maurice Richard Trophy, named for the legend of the Montreal Canadiens, the team he worshipped in his youth.
They watched this week’s Cup-clinching Game 6 against the Dallas Stars miles apart in different ways. Lecavalier enjoyed the first two periods with a group of friends in the team’s dressing room at Amalie Arena, then went home to see the finish with his family. St. Louis missed the first period, on the ice in Connecticut for a son’s hockey practice, then drove home to watch the final 40 minutes with his boys.
Both men have indelible memories of winning the Cup in 2004, of the engagement of a rabid fan base as hockey took root in the market and grew to become the hottest ticket in town.
“In 2004, fans were drawn in to hockey because we were winning and they fell in love with the sport,” Lecavalier recalled. “Since then, the Lightning have been a building a good fan base. Football is huge in Florida but what Mr. Vinik (owner Jeff Vinik) has done with the organization, and in the city, has brought hockey to a new level. Minor hockey has gotten bigger. It’s a combination of everything. A lot has changed, but the feeling of winning is the same.”
St. Louis says the Lightning have been knocking on the championship door for some time. After last year’s stunning loss to the Columbus Blue Jackets in the Eastern Conference First Round, he believes Tampa Bay seemed almost destined to go all the way this year, general manager Julien BriseBois having tweaked the roster to put the team over the top.
“There’s been a building of a championship team but I feel they’ve had a championship-caliber team for many years,” he said. “This year they made some moves, added the pieces they needed, but every year they’ve kind of put themselves in that position and it just didn’t work out for them.
“To win, a lot has to go right. You need a lot of bounces, you need to stay healthy, get timely goals and timely saves, maybe an upset in another round to give you something where you match up better against an opponent. I just felt that no matter who they played in the playoffs this year, they were going to win. They were dominant from start to finish. There weren’t many holes in their game.
“I think they learned from last year, a little bit of adjusting their style, playing less risky hockey. They’ve evolved into a team that can play any style. You want to open it up, they can. You want to play tight, they can. They have some physicality as well, so they won’t shy away from anything, and they’ve got the goalie (Andrei Vasilevskiy). It was their year. I just hope next year they’re in a position to have continued success. They have some guys who are in their prime and will be in their prime for many years.”
Sixteen years later, vivid memories of winning the 2004 Stanley Cup remain, Tampa Bay having defeated the Calgary Flames in double overtime on the road in Game 6 to stave off elimination, then returning home to win a 2-1 nail-biter in Game 7. Both Lightning legends understand the emotions that the 2020 Lightning are feeling now and will forever.
“I wish I could have that feeling again because the night you win the Cup is something you will never feel again, unless you win it again,” Lecavalier said. “This is a dream come true for all these guys now, as it was for me.
“This year’s team is still running on adrenaline, which will last for two or three days, even longer. They have to think that you might win this only once in your life so you’ve got to take full advantage of it. And it’s funny, after you win it once, you say, ‘Wow, I want to win it again because it was so much fun.'”
Support for the team will soar to new levels, St. Louis said, the team’s second Stanley Cup placed on a solid hockey bedrock in Tampa.
“The Lightning have done so much for me as a player, raising my number,” he said. “I want nothing but the best for them. I’m glad that I’m part of the history of this team. That history will keep building and that’s another big step for them. You don’t have to be an Original Six team to build some tradition. I think Tampa is well on their way.”
NBA Finals Takeaways: Heat no match for Lakers’ size in Game 1 – Sportsnet.ca
A statement victory from the Lakers, who led by as many as 32 and outside of a small blip through the opening phases of the first quarter, the Finals-opening victory was a complete, dominant victory that had Miami looking every bit the outclassed underdogs most expected them to be coming into the championship series.
Here are a few takeaways from the Lakers’ evisceration of the Heat.
As much as people want to announce the death of old-school power basketball, that’s pretty much exactly how the Lakers routed the Heat, led by Davis’s 34 points. Davis was simply too skilled and too big for any of the undersized and overmatched Miami defenders to handle.
However, it wasn’t just Davis who proved to be a size problem for the Heat. Lakers head coach Frank Vogel opted to go with a “twin towers” look by inserting Dwight Howard into the starting lineup as the team’s centre, moving Davis to power forward, where he prefers to play.
Heat coach Erik Spoelsta had no answer for this as he tried Jae Crowder on Davis for the brunt of the contest. Though Crowder is tough, Davis could simply shoot over him or draw a foul, contributing to the 10 free-throw attempts Davis took on Wednesday.
Perhaps Spoelstra wanted to avoid getting his star centre Bam Adebayo into foul trouble by matching him against Davis, but he might be the only solution Miami has as the Lakers’ overwhelming size looks to be something the Heat can’t counter.
In even graver news for the Heat, there’s a chance they might not even get a chance to see what Adebayo can do against Davis defensively as he and starting point guard Goran Dragic were forced to leave the game early with apparent injuries.
Adebayo left midway through the third quarter with a left shoulder strain and Dragic didn’t come back to the court after halftime with a left foot problem that, according to ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski could be a serious plantar tear in his foot.
Couple this news with the bad-looking ankle twist Jimmy Butler appeared to suffer at the end of the first half – though he stayed in the game – and you have a recipe for possible cataclysmic disaster for the Heat as that’s their three best players possibly missing time as these Finals progress.
Lakers role players outclass Heat’s
And the hits just keep on coming for the Heat from Game 1.
Coming into this series, Miami was thought to have a distinct advantage in the role player department with names like Tyler Herro, Duncan Robinson and Crowder being key offensive cogs all playoffs long.
Instead, however, it was the much-maligned secondary guys of the Lakers who took centre stage, thoroughly outplaying their Heat counterparts until garbage time was unofficially announced.
A good way to view this is to look at the game Danny Green had in comparison to Herro. Green had 11 points, was 3-for-8 from three-point range and his plus-21 rating for the game was second on the Lakers only to Davis’s plus-23. Herro on the other hand may have scored more with 14 points, but he was just 2-for-8 from deep and was a putrid minus-35 for the game.
If Miami can’t at least have its role players outperform Los Angeles’s this series is already over.
Lakers turn game around with first-quarter run
The most drama in the game took place in the first quarter, when Crowder drilled a triple to give the Heat a 23-10 advantage with 5:38 to play in the period. That gave pause to the thought that the Lakers would just run roughshod over the Heat.
This thought only lasted but a fleeting moment, however. After that Crowder three, Vogel took a timeout and the Lakers proceeded to close the quarter on a 21-5 run and take a 31-28 lead into the second quarter that would end up snowballing from there.
LeBron is legendary
It feels odd not talking about LeBron James yet, so here’s an item to correct.
James had possibly the quietest near-triple-double line of 25 points, 13 rebounds and nine assists in NBA history.
It speaks to his continued brilliance that he can put up a line like that and not automatically be the headliner.
It’s also crazy that his most impressive highlight from this incredible game didn’t even count:
Bron getting crazy after the buzzer pic.twitter.com/voX1YxDlQf
— Los Angeles Lakers (@Lakers) October 1, 2020
We should always strive to do our best to not take an athlete this great for granted.
Astros sweep series as Twins lose 18th straight in playoffs – Sportsnet.ca
MINNEAPOLIS — Shaken up by a scandal before the virus outbreak shrunk the season, the Houston Astros barely played well enough to reach the playoffs — with the rest of baseball actively rooting against them.
Well, they’re not ready to leave yet.
Carlos Correa hit a two-out, tiebreaking home run in the seventh inning for the Astros, who produced another stifling pitching performance and swept Minnesota over two games with a 3-1 victory Wednesday that sent the Twins to a record 18th straight post-season loss.
“I know a lot of people are mad. I know a lot of people don’t want to see us here,” Correa said. “But what are they going to say now?”
Nine months after Houston’s rules-breaking, sign-stealing system was revealed, the Astros advanced to the Division Series in Los Angeles. As the sixth seed, they’ll face the Oakland Athletics or Chicago White Sox in a best-of-five matchup starting Monday at Dodger Stadium.
“I don’t think they necessarily thought that they had anything to prove. They just had to play ball,” said manager Dusty Baker, who took his fifth different team to the playoffs and advanced for the first time in seven rounds since winning the 2003 NL Division Series with the Chicago Cubs.
The Twins are 0-18 in the playoffs since winning Game 1 of their Division Series at the New York Yankees on Oct. 5, 2004, a total of seven rounds lost. Since that date, the Astros are 43-35 in post-season play, winning 10 of 15 rounds with three trips to the World Series.
Kyle Tucker hit two RBI singles for the Astros and made a key throw from left field for the inning-ending out in the fifth.
Rookie Cristian Javier worked three hitless innings in relief for the victory in his post-season debut and Ryan Pressly pitched a perfect ninth against his former team, giving the Houston bullpen a total of 9 2/3 scoreless innings in this wild card series with three hits allowed.
“From the very beginning, we envisioned ourselves back in the playoffs and playing real well,” Tucker said. “So we never counted ourselves out at any point.”
Nobody on this Twins team has had a hand in more than six of the playoffs losses, but for the second straight year one of baseball’s most potent lineups limped through a brief post-season cameo. In a three-game division series sweep by the Yankees last year, the Twins totalled seven runs and 22 hits. Against the Astros, they mustered only two runs and seven hits.
“We put a lot of balls in play, it seemed like, but they were up in the air and, yeah, it seemed like we played into their trap,” said Max Kepler, one of four starters who went hitless in the series. “At the end of the day, we didn’t get the job done.”
Nelson Cruz gave the Twins an RBI double for a second straight game, this time in the fourth inning against starter Jose Urquidy. Luis Arraez aggressively tried to score from first base, but Correa took the throw from Tucker and fired home to beat Arraez to the plate to preserve the tie after third base coach Tony Diaz waved him in.
“I don’t know why he sent him,” Correa said.
Then in the seventh against losing pitcher Cody Stashak, Correa drove a 1-0 slider into the tarp-covered seats above right-centre field for his 12th home run in 52 playoff games.
After winning 101, 103 and 107 games in the last three regular seasons, winning the 2017 World Series and losing the championship in seven games to the Washington Nationals last year, the Astros stumbled through the 2020 season at 29-31 under Baker and new general manager James Click with a slew of injuries after the COVID-19 pandemic cut the schedule to 60 games.
They had the third-worst road record in the major leagues, too, but none of that mattered this week against the third-seeded Twins, who were out of sorts in their two biggest games this year.
Jose Berrios was one of the few who were locked in with five strong innings to start, with just two hits allowed. His two walks were costly, though, issued right before Tucker’s single in the fourth.
“I don’t think anyone was ready to leave, to end this way,” Cruz said. “That’s life.”
KIRILLOFF FOR BUXTON
Already missing third baseman Josh Donaldson, the Twins held another one of their most valuable players out: centre fielder Byron Buxton. Baldelli declined to confirm whether Buxton was experiencing a recurrence of concussion symptoms that kept him out of the last two regular season games. Buxton was picked off first base after pinch running for Cruz in the eighth.
Kepler moved to centre, and Alex Kirilloff — the 2016 first-round draft pick — played right field to become the first Twins player in history to make his major league debut in a post-season game. Kirilloff singled in the fourth. With the bases loaded in the first, he flied out to end the inning.
Both teams took issue with plate umpire Manny Gonzalez’s strike zone, with Astros slugger George Springer the first to visibly complain. After being called out on strikes in the fourth, Springer barked, “No way, man!” multiple times on his way back to the dugout.
Then in the sixth, the Twins lost left fielder Eddie Rosario to ejection after he argued a called strike two that would’ve given him a walk if it were called a ball. After swinging and missing at strike three, Rosario yelled again and was quickly tossed.
First base umpire Tim Timmons missed consecutive calls in the eighth inning on grounders by the Astros when he called the runners safe. Both were reversed to outs after replay review.
The Astros, who have reached the AL Championship Series in each of the last three years, will play Monday against either the A’s or the White Sox. RHP Lance McCullers Jr. is the only member of their regular season rotation who did not pitch in Minnesota.
The Twins enter the off-season with 10 players set to become free agents, including the 40-year-old Cruz who led the team in home runs and batting average (among players with a qualifying amount of at-bats) for a second straight season. Their 2021 opener is scheduled for April 1 at Milwaukee.
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