June 15, Week in Sports
:: Lakers Win NBA Finals (Pro. Basketball)
:: Pittsburgh Penguins Win Stanley Cup (Pro. Hockey)
:: Tiger Prepares for U.S. Open (Golf)
VALIDATION: KOBE, LAKERS WIN TITLE
On Sunday night, the Los Angeles Lakers won the NBA championship over the Orlando Magic after winning Game 5 of the Finals by a score of 99-86. This is the Lakers’ first championship title in seven years.
The Lakers are a powerhouse franchise, so their championship can hardly be considered surprising–especially since, at the beginning of the year, analysts across the board picked them as one of the favorites to win the Finals. And yet, this championship is just as much about Lakers guard Kobe Bryant as it is about the Lakers organization. Bryant has been criticized by many for never winning a championship without Shaq. Now, Bryant has silenced those critics by winning a championship ring “on his own,” and being named Finals MVP in the process.
This Finals series could have gone very differently, had the Orlando Magic executed better. The Magic will have a long off-season as they reflect on all the missed opportunities they during the championship. Missed shots, missed free throws, sloppy defense, and turnovers doomed this Orlando team, and made for a relatively easy victory for the Lakers.
Quote of the Week: “Kobe Bryant has the NBA title he needed most–the one without Shaq.” — Associated Press
Further Reading: “Seven Year Itch” — Associated Press, via ESPN
PANIC IN DETROIT: PENGUINS TOPPLE RED WINGS IN GAME SEVEN
On Friday night, the Pittsburgh Penguins stunned the league by beating the Detroit Red Wings in Game 7 of the Stanley Cup Finals. The Pens came back from an 0-2 series deficit, and ultimately finished off the Red Wings in Detroit.
The Red Wings were favored in Game 7, mainly because they have been virtually unstoppable at home during the 2009 post-season. However, after a tightly played first period, Max Talbot of the Penguins scored two goals in the second period, and Detroit was in desperation mode for the rest of the game. Jonathan Ericsson of the Red Wings cut the Penguins’ lead to 2-1 with just 6 minutes left in the game, and as the final seconds ticked away, Detroit had an opportunity to tie the game. But Pittsburgh goalie Marc-Andre Fleury made a diving save as time expired, and the Penguins became the Stanley Cup champions for the first time since 1992.
Since Friday’s victory, the main storyline has been the behavior of Penguins superstar Sidney Crosby after the game. Red Wing Kris Draper accused Crosby of “snubbing” Detroit captain Nick Lidstrom. Crosby, who shook hands with many of the Red Wings after he finished an on-ice celebration following the game, denied the insinuation that he had been a sore winner. The story is sure to fade quickly, though it certainly adds fuel to the fire for those within the league who already dislike Crosby.
Quote of the Week: ”The torch has been passed. From Mario Lemieux, the heart and soul of this franchise, to a new generation of wondrous talent. Let the dynasty talk begin. And, yes, a dynasty is in the offing.” — Bob Smizik, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette
Further Reading: “Well-dressed, clean-shaven no way to end it” — Mitch Albom, Detroit Free Press
TIGER, TIGER BURNING BRIGHT
This week marks the start of the U.S. Open, the second of the four major championships in professional golf. As with every year, the final round of the U.S. Open will be played on Father’s Day Sunday.
Of course, going into any major championship, the focus is on Tiger Woods. Tiger’s performance this year is especially anticipated since last year, his victory over Rocco Mediate at the U.S. Open was one of the greatest golf performances of all time. Now Woods is after his 15th major championship at Bethpage in New York. The last time they held the U.S. Open at Bethpage in 2002, Woods was the winner.
The media will also be focused on Phil Mickelson, the closest thing that Woods has to a rival. Mickelson recently announced that his wife Amy is suffering from breast cancer. His family’s plight has been highly publicized, so he is expected to be a fan favorite this weekend.
Quote of the Week: ”Woods is preparing to defend his title this week at Bethpage Black on Long Island…but he’ll forever be asked about the week in Southern California when he hobbled to victory on two stress fractures in his tibia and a knee that just more than a week later would be surgically reconstructed.” — Bob Hariq, ESPN.com
Further Reading: ”The Torrey Story ” — Bob Hariq, ESPN.com
WHAT TO WATCH THIS WEEK
:: GOLF: The U.S. Open begins on Thursday of this week. The final round of the tournament will be played on Father’s Day Sunday.
MLB (Pro. Baseball): The 2009 season is underway, and it runs through October. [Official MLB Website]
NBA (Pro. Basketball): The 2008-09 NBA Finals are now over, with the Lakers defeating the Orlando Magic in win the title. [Official NBA Website]
NCAA MEN’S BASKETBALL (College): “The Tournament” is now over. The University of North Carolina won the 2009 national championship over Michigan State. [CBS Sports]
NFL (Pro. Football): Now that the NFL Draft is over, things will be relatively quiet until training camp begins in the middle of July. [Official NFL Website]
NCAA FOOTBALL (College): The college football season is now over, with Florida defeating Oklahoma in the national championship game. [NCAA Football, ESPN]
MEN’S GOLF: While there are professional tournaments throughout the year, the most important tournaments are the four Major Championships: The Masters, U.S. Open, The Open (The British Open), and the PGA Championship. The U.S. Open will be played this week. [Official PGA Website]
NOTABLE PLAYERS: Tiger Woods, Phil Mickelson
NHL (Pro. Hockey): The Pittsburgh Penguins defeated the Detroit Red Wings to win the 20090 Stanley Cup. [Official NHL Website]
MEN’S AND WOMEN’S TENNIS: While there are professional tournaments throughout the year, the most important tournaments are the four Grand Slam tournaments: the Australian Open, French Open, Wimbledon, and US Open. The next Grand Slam tournament is Wimbledon. [USTA Website]
NOTABLE PLAYERS: Roger Federer, Rafael Nadal, Maria Sharapova, Ana Ivanovic