The second star: Leaf fans
Marquee free agent David Clarkson finally scored his first goal of the season, and Leaf fans are handling the event with their typical brand of quiet restraint.
The first star: Corey Perry and Alexander Semin
Do me a favor and let me know how many times you can watch this GIF before it stops being funny. I’ve had it running for three straight days and I’m not there yet.
In 2009, Bill Simmons decided to cross another item off his bucket list by traveling south to Mexico City and Estadio Azteca to take in the sights, sounds and passion of a USA-Mexico World Cup qualifying match.
For the three returning players on the U.S. under-20 national hockey team this year, the memories of the 2012 World Junior Hockey Championships were painful indeed. Forward J.T. Miller, defenseman Jacob Trouba, and goaltender John Gibson were part of an American squad that had come into the tournament last year with high hopes and optimistic projections. Instead, the team ended up seventh out of 10 teams, avoiding the embarrassment of relegation but not the sting of missed expectations.
After a brilliant performance from the American women on the most important day of team competition, the medal count is starting to lean very heavily toward the U.S., and we're enjoying our first lead in the gold-medal count in days.
Our resident Saber-Medal-Trician, Daniel G., has checked in, and according to his system — which uses Sports Illustrated's pre-Olympic medal predictions in conjunction with actual results to project a final tally — the U.S. is awfully close to clinching. The Americans are now on pace to win two more golds than predicted, and six more medals overall, while the Chinese are on pace to win three fewer golds than expected, and 10 (!) fewer overall. With just three days left, here are the projected final totals:
I have to share one sentence in Daniel's e-mail, since it gave me some patriotic goose bumps: "China could still catch us, but it would probably involve them winning both racewalking gold medals tomorrow and us failing to win both basketball golds."
If this were a presidential election, and Daniel were Brian Williams, here's how that sentence would have sounded: "Ladies and gentlemen ... [long pause while Daniel studies a paper and listens to an earpiece to build suspense] ... Ladies and gentlemen, based on the latest exit polls ... we can now project that the Americans are going to win the overall medal count, as well as the gold-medal count!"
[Joyous screeching noise]
[Ten minutes pass]
OK, I'm back. I just had to run around my apartment screaming in ecstasy until I passed out and woke up again. Now that I'm calm, let's talk about the U.S. women's teams. We went a perfect 4-for-4 on Thursday — the volleyball squad drubbed Korea in the semis, the basketball team topped Australia in the semis, and the water polo and soccer squads both won gold — and my friend Ben pointed out to me that the only team sports in which the Americans won't win at least a silver are handball and field hockey. If the Games finish as expected, it will be gold in all events but those two (plus beach volleyball and gymnastics, if you want to extend the definition of "team"). That is seriously impressive.
Jay Caspian Kang's novel, The Dead Do Not Improve, was released Tuesday by Hogarth/Random House. Today, he guest-hosts the B.S. Report while Bill Simmons is in London. Jay's guest is Haralabos Voulgaris, NBA bettor and high-stakes poker player. They discuss Team USA basketball, gambling, poker, more gambling, how to bet on the NBA, and even more gambling.
Reader Daniel G. has invented Saber-Medal-Trics, which takes Sports Illustrated's overall medal predictions and reviews results to date in order to project a final count. After Tuesday's events, Daniel reports that the U.S. is on pace to equal their projected SI gold-medal count, and beat the projected overall medal number by five., while China is on pace to win one more gold and six fewer medals total. With that knowledge, here are the projected final tallies:
So, so close. Speaking of China, it's worth congratulating Chen Yibing, a.k.a. "the king of rings," on his composure after getting absolutely jobbed in the event final. Chen won gold in Beijing, and it appeared he had done the same in London when the last competitor, Brazil's Arthur Zanetti, finished his routine. But the judges gave Zanetti a 15.9, and Chen (15.8) was relegated to silver. I challenge anyone with even rudimentary gymnastics knowledge to watch both routines (Chen at 6:15 mark, Zanetti at 25:30) and argue that Zanetti deserved gold. My friend Spike put it best: "One was art, and the other one was very good. And the very good one had a step on the landing." But Chen, though he professed to feeling bitter, stayed completely calm, congratulated his opponent, and didn't let his disbelief show. Total class act from a guy who had every right to be furious.
Has anyone checked on Diego Maradona? The far left end of the bench, where Tyson and Kobe sit, has the most "GTFO" reaction. Kobe whipping the towel, and Tyson going beast-mode. Let me sit there. Then there's Kevin Love, who seriously would rather be celebrating on the bench than playing in the game. Someone in the middle, I think Paul, is practically jumping out of the gym in joy BEFORE RUSSELL EVEN THINKS ABOUT LEAVING THE GROUND. And then ... then there's this. Forever:
Yes. Meet The Beatles, right? Here's Team USA on a train in London, via James Harden's Instagram. Obviously, since Harden is sitting there, taking a quick break from listening to Robert Palmer on his Discman (FYI, this is what Harden's brain looks like on Power Station), he did not take the photo. And obviously, judging by the expressions on everyone's faces, the photographer is Jim Boeheim and Mike D'Antoni is dressed up like an old-timey British train conductor and shouting, "TICKETS, PLEASE!" in a funny accent. Say cheese, fellas.
In case you were out living a life of leisure, here's what you missed in sports on Monday.
Kevin Durant scored 17 of his 28 points in the third quarter as the U.S. dominated Argentina 126-97. Following the win, an extremely condescending Kobe Bryant autographed a basketball for Manu Ginobili and patted him on the head.
Jalen is back! After a couple weeks in London with Team USA, Jalen Rose returned to the Grantland Studio to give the people what they want.
With his trusty baseball bat slung over his shoulder, Jalen discussed his experience in London, what he thinks of the U.S. men's basketball team, the real differences between the NBA and international play, a conversation he had with coach Mike Krzyzewski, and more. Then he offered his opinion on some of the media's treatment of Gabby Douglas (“not cool”), Usain Bolt’s casual approach (“If I was going to run the 100 meters, I would not be winking at the camera”), and people claiming that there can only be one “Fab Five” (“Here’s the thing: I DON’T CARE!”). Oh yeah, then we talked about Rick Ross and I learned that Jalen has been in more music videos than all of the Flavor of Love contestants combined.
It's no secret that the Olympics brings out a great deal of temporary American patriotism in even the most staunch opponent of this great country's sometimes-iffy practices.
I am one of those opponents.
I love America when the Olympics aren't taking place, but for two weeks every four years, nothing matters more than defeating our international friends, enemies, and frenemies by way of sport. Over this glorious series of summer days, the Budweiser seems to taste a little bit sweeter, my red, white, and blue snapback accentuates my bone structure more generously, and the national anthem becomes the most majestic song that has ever been created. For a sizable percentage of America, there is no more enjoyable time to be an American.
Via the KingJames Instagram feed. Genuinely asking here. On one hand, I guess you get a high vantage point of the swimming action. And one would think, up in the nosebleeds, there would be less kerfuffle over the best basketball player in the world attending a swim meet. On the other hand, you're the best basketball player in the world, attending a swim meet. Why not go front and center with a big, foam "We're #1" finger and go crazy for Missy and Phelps, front and center. Plus, everyone loves the smell of chlorine in the morning! Smells like victory.
In this year's Olympic basketball competition, there are several teams that are a threat to medal, and maybe even to contend with Team USA. As the Games ramp up, we’ll be providing looks at the strengths, weaknesses, and medal chances of these possible contenders.
Because Spain qualified for the Olympics by winning 2011's EuroBasket, a large slate of preparation games was replaced by a long pre-Olympics training camp. During those limited opportunities, we did get to see just how good Spain can be. In its game against Great Britain (in which Spain competed without some of its key players), it was easy to see why many consider them to be the main threat to Team USA's gold medal run.