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June 15, Week in Sports

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)

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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

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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

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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.

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ALL-SPORTS UPDATE

 

ACTIVE SEASON

:: BASEBALL

MLB (Pro. Baseball): The 2009 season is underway, and it runs through October. [Official MLB Website]

:: BASKETBALL

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]

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:: FOOTBALL

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]

———-

:: GOLF

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

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:: HOCKEY

NHL (Pro. Hockey): The Pittsburgh Penguins defeated the Detroit Red Wings to win the 20090 Stanley Cup.  [Official NHL Website]

 

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:: TENNIS

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

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June 8, Week in Sports

June 8, Week in Sports

:: Lakers Take 2-0 Lead over Orlando Magic (Pro. Basketball)

:: Federer Wins French Open (Tennis)

:: Red Wings Poised to Win Stanley Cup (Pro. Hockey)

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HALFWAY HOME: LAKERS TAKE 2-0 LEAD IN L.A.

The Los Angeles Lakers won the first two games of the 2009 NBA Finals against the Orlando Magic over the course of the past week. Winning the first two games of an NBA Finals series virtually guarantees a series win, which means that the Lakers are poised to bring home a championship to Los Angeles.

While the Lakers blew out the Magic in Game 1, the second game of the series was much closer. The Lakers ultimately won the game by a score of 101-96 in overtime. However, were it not for a missed layup by Orlando rookie Courtney Lee at the end of regulation, Los Angeles would never have had that chance. The Lakers went on to dominate in overtime, and now they head to Orlando for Game 3 with a very solid series lead.

As this series moves forward, there will be an even bigger focus on Lakers guard Kobe Bryant. Though Bryant has a reputation as perhaps the best player of his generation, he has drawn criticism because he has never won a championship without Shaquille O’Neal as a teammate. Now Bryant is in prime position to silence his critics by bringing home another championship for the Lakers.

Quote of the Week: If Orlando doesn’t come back and win a game in the series, Lee’s miss may go down as one of the biggest gaffes in finals history.” — Associated Press

Further Reading: Point Taken” — Associated Press, via ESPN

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AT LAST! FEDERER WINS FRENCH OPEN
Roger Federer, arguably the greatest tennis player of all time, won the French Open on Sunday, handily defeating Robin Soderling. This is Federer’s first victory at the French Open–the second of the four Grand Slam tournaments in professional tennis.Though the 27-year old Federer had already firmly established his reputation as one of the all-time greats before Sunday, his victory at Roland Garros further padded his tremendous resume. With a victory at the French Open, Federer has now won each of the Grand Slam tournaments at least once. Only five other men have ever accomplished that feat. Sunday’s victory also marked the 14th Grand Slam title of Federer’s career, tying Pete Sampras for the most titles ever by a male tennis player. The past few years, the only barrier between Federer and a win at the French Open has been Rafael Nadal, who, fortunately for Federer, was upset earlier in the tournament.

In the women’s singles final, Svetlana Kuznetsova beat Dinara Safina, the No. 1 female player in the world. Though Safina continues to be the top ranked woman in the sport, she has yet to win a Grand Slam tournament.

Quote of the Week: ”It’s maybe my greatest victory, or certainly the one that removes the most pressure off my shoulders. I think that now and until the end of my career, I can really play with my mind at peace and no longer hear that I’ve never won Roland Garros.” — Roger Federer

Further Reading: ”Slam Complete ” — Associated Press, via USA Today

RED WINGS WIN AGAIN AT HOME SWEET HOME

The Detroit Red Wings won Game 5 of the Stanley Cup Finals on Saturday night to take a a 3-2 lead in the series over the Pittsburgh Penguins. With one more win, Detroit can win the Stanley Cup.

The Red Wings jumped out to a quick lead in this finals series, winning the first two games in Detroit. However, the Penguins responded with two wins of their own in Pittsburgh, evening up the series. The trend of the home team winning every game continued in Game 5, as the Red Wings completely dominated the Penguins by a score of 5-0. That is bad news for the Penguins, who would need at least one victory on the road to win the championship.

If the Red Wings win either Game 6 on Wednesday or Game 7 on Friday, they will have won the Stanley Cup two years in a row. The last time that happened was in 1997-1998, when the Red Wings raised the Cup in back-to-back years. But this series is not over just yet, and Detroit still has to win one more game over Sidney Crosby and the Pens to make it happen.

Quote of the Week: ”The situation is pretty clear for us. We have to go home and be desperate now.” — Sidney Crosby, Pittsburgh Penguins

Further Reading: ”Datsyuk, Wings now on Cup cusp” — Mitch Albom, Detroit Free Press

——-

WHAT TO WATCH THIS WEEK

:: PRO. BASKETBALL: The 2009 Finals continues this week in Orlando on Tuesday night, as the Magic hope to start a comeback against the Lakers, who lead the series 2-0.


:: HOCKEY:
The Stanley Cup Finals continue this week, as Detroit hopes to close out the Penguins on Wednesday night.

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ALL-SPORTS UPDATE

 

ACTIVE SEASON

:: BASEBALL

MLB (Pro. Baseball): The 2009 season is underway, and it runs through October. [Official MLB Website]

:: BASKETBALL

NBA (Pro. Basketball): The 2008-09 NBA Finals are currently underway.  [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]

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:: FOOTBALL

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]

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:: GOLF

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 next Major Championship is the U.S. Open. [Official PGA Website]

NOTABLE PLAYERS: Tiger Woods, Phil Mickelson

———-

:: HOCKEY

NHL (Pro. Hockey): The Stanley Cup playoffs are currently underway.  [Official NHL Website]

———-

:: TENNIS

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 Slame tournament is Wimbledon. [USTA Website]

NOTABLE PLAYERS: Roger Federer, Rafael Nadal, Maria Sharapova, Ana Ivanovic

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June 1, Week in Sports

June 1, Week in Sports

:: Magic, Lakers Advance to Finals (Pro. Basketball)

:: Red Wings Take 2-0 Stanley Cup Lead (Pro. Hockey)

:: Rafael Nadal Eliminated from French Open (Tennis)

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DO YOU BELIEVE IN MAGIC?

On Sunday night, the Orlando Magic defeated the Cleveland Cavaliers to win the Eastern Conference Finals and advance to the NBA Finals, where they will face the Los Angeles Lakers. The Magic’s victory over the Cavs was especially significant because it was such a major upset.

The Cavaliers, led by league MVP LeBron James, sported the best record in the NBA in 2009, and they were largely favored to make it to the Finals, even before the playoffs began. After steamrolling over their first two playoffs opponents, they were expected to do much the same to the Magic. However, Dwight Howard and the Magic stunned the league by controlling the series from the beginning, and they ultimately sent James and company packing back to Cleveland–a city that has gone nearly half a century without winning a pro sports championship. In a widely criticized move, James sulked off the court after the game, then dressed and left the arena without speaking to reporters–a classless move by a typically classy player.

The Magic will now face the Los Angeles Lakers in the Finals. The Lakers, led by Kobe Bryant, defeated the Denver Nuggets in 6 games to win the Western Conference Finals. The Lakers’ performance in the playoffs this year has been regarded as shaky, and yet when they have been playing well, they have looked nearly unstoppable. The Finals are scheduled to begin this Thursday in Los Angeles.

Quote of the Week: They’re back from the basketball dead.” — Brian Schmitz, Orlando Sentinel, on the Magic

Further Reading: Orlando Magic beat LeBron James and Cleveland Cavaliers to reach NBA Finals” — Brian Schmitz, Orlando Sentinel

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PENS ICE COLD IN MOTOWN
The Detroit Red Wings won the first two games of the Stanley Cup Finals over the weekend, dominating the Pittsburgh Penguins in the process. The Stanley Cup Finals are the pinnacle of the NHL season, and the Red Wings are just two wins away from capturing the cup.

This year’s matchup between the Red Wings and Penguins is actually a re-match of last year’s Stanley Cup Finals. Though Detroit won the championship last year, many people believed that Pittsburgh would be much stronger this time around. However, that has certainly not been the case thus far. Just like last year, the Red Wings have exploded to a 2-0 lead, and if that keeps up, the result will be the same as it was in 2008.

As bad as things have been for the Penguins, at least their only losses in this series so far have been on the road. The series moves to Pittsburgh on Tuesday, where the Pens hope that home ice advantage will help them start their comeback. It would also help if their star player, Sidney Crosby, started playing as well as he is capable of playing. Up until now, Crosby has been a non-factor in the series.

Quote of the Week: ”Sidney Crosby, the face of the NHL (if you ask the NHL), the biggest star in this series (if you ask the NHL), the man who is supposed to lead the revenge call for his Penguins teammates, has been as noticeable as a chorus line member.” — Mitch Albom, Detroit Free Press

Further Reading:Smashing Success” — Associated Press, via ESPN

NADA FOR NADAL: ‘RAFA’ KNOCKED OUT OF FRENCH OPEN

Rafael Nadal, the top-ranked tennis player in the world, was knocked out of the French Open by Robin Soderling on Sunday. The French Open is one of the four Grand Slam events–the most important tennis tournaments of the year.

Throughout the course of his career, Nadal has earned a reputation as one of the greatest clay-court tennis player in the history of the game. For that reason, it was especially unexpected to see him lose on the clay courts of the French Open to Soderling, a 23 seed in the tournament. Nadal has won the French Open the past four years in a row. This is the first time that Nadal has competed in the French Open without winning it. With Nadal out, former No. 1 player Roger Federer becomes the favorite to win the tournament.

In the women’s bracket, No. 1 seed Dinara Safina has already advanced to the tournament’s quarterfinals. No. 2 seed Serena Williams plays her next match on Monday.

Quote of the Week: ”When one player plays bad, he must lose…. I didn’t play my best tennis and for that reason I lose.” — Rafael Nadal

Further Reading: ”Streak Stalled ” — Associated Press, via USA Today

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WHAT TO WATCH THIS WEEK

:: PRO. BASKETBALL: The 2009 Finals begin this week between the Los Angeles Lakers and the Orlando Magic. Game 1 is scheduled for Thursday night, and Game 2 is scheduled for Sunday night.

:: HOCKEY: The Stanley Cup Finals continue this week, as the series moves to Pittsburgh on Tuesday.

:: TENNIS: The French Open, the second of the four Grand Slam tournaments, continues this week. The finals will be played next Saturday and Sunday.

———-

ALL-SPORTS UPDATE

 

ACTIVE SEASON

:: BASEBALL

MLB (Pro. Baseball): The 2009 season is underway, and it runs through October. [Official MLB Website]

:: BASKETBALL

NBA (Pro. Basketball): The 2008-09 NBA playoffs are currently underway.  [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]

———-

:: FOOTBALL

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]

———-

:: GOLF

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 next Major Championship is the U.S. Open. [Official PGA Website]

NOTABLE PLAYERS: Tiger Woods, Phil Mickelson

———-

:: HOCKEY

NHL (Pro. Hockey): The Stanley Cup playoffs are currently underway.  [Official NHL Website]

———

:: TENNIS

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 French Open is currently underway. [USTA Website]

NOTABLE PLAYERS: Roger Federer, Rafael Nadal, Maria Sharapova, Ana Ivanovic

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May 25, Week in Sports

May 25, Week in Sports

:: Magic Jump to 2-1 Lead against Cavs (Pro. Basketball)

:: Castroneves Wins Indy 500 (Auto Racing)

:: Red Wings, Penguins Eye Stanley Cup Rematch (Hockey)

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LEBRON, CAVS DAZZLED BY MAGIC

At the beginning of the post-season, almost everyone in the country expected the Cleveland Cavaliers and Los Angeles Lakers to coast to the NBA Finals. However, both teams are now embroiled in extremely competitive series, and those spots in the Finals, once all but guaranteed for the favorites, are now totally up for grabs.

LeBron James and the Cavaliers were expected to crush the Orlando Magic, but that perception completely changed after the Magic pulled off a huge Game 1 upset in Cleveland, where the Cavs only lost 2 games the whole year. The Magic also won Game 3, to take the 2-1 series lead. Had it not been for a buzzer-beating prayer hurled up by James to win Game 2, the Cavs would be losing this series 3-0.

Out on the West Coast, the Lakers also split their first two games with the Denver Nuggets, which was seen as a huge disappointment for a Lakers team that is virtually unstoppable at home. However, after the Lakers beat the Nuggets in Game 3 of the series in Denver on Saturday night, the Lakers have regained the upper hand.

Quote of the Week: This time LeBron James couldn’t save them.” — Brian Schmitz, Orlando Sentinel, on Game 3
Further Reading:
Magic pull out Game 3 win over Cavs” — Brian Schmitz, Orlando Sentinel

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HELIO WALTZES TO THIRD VICTORY AT INDY

Helio Castroneves, the Brazilian driver and former winner of Dancing With the Stars, won the Indy 500 on Sunday. The Indy 500 is one of the most important and historical races of the year.

Castroneves has now won the Indy 500 a grand total of three times in his career–a feat that has only been accomplished by eight other men. This Indy 500 victory caps off what has been a tremendous month for Castroneves, not least of all because he was recently acquitted of tax charges that could have landed him in prison for 6 years. Castroneves was acquitted of almost all of those charges earlier in the month, and the final count against him was dropped earlier on Sunday.

Danica Patrick made history today, as well, with her third place finish setting a record for the best finish by a woman at the Indy 500. It topped her previous record of fourth place, which she set in 2005.

Quote of the Week: ”This is the best month of May ever.” — Helio Castroneves

Further Reading: ”Winning verdict: Castroneves rolls to third Indy 500 crown ” — Associated Press, via USA Today

CHICAGO CRUSHED

The Detroit Red Wings annihilated the Chicago Blackhawks on Sunday, winning by a score of 6-1 and taking a 3-1 lead in the series, which puts them one win away from a Stanley Cup Finals berth. The matchup between the Red Wings and Blackhawks is one of the biggest rivalries in hockey and the most anticipated series of the Conference Finals of the Stanley Cup Playoffs.

Hockey analysts often say that a playoff series doesn’t truly begin until one of the teams loses a game at home. Up until Sunday, both Detroit and Chicago had won all their home games, but that all changed in Game 4, when Detroit embarrassed the Blackhawks in Chicago. Now the series returns to Detroit on Wednesday, and it would take a miracle for the Blackhawks to reverse the momentum and capture the series.

In the other Conference Finals matchup, the Pittsburgh Penguins are currently dominating the Carolina Hurricanes 3 games to none. It now appears that the Pens, led by superstar Sidney Crosby, will easily glide to the Stanley Cup Finals. That will mark a back-to-back appearance in the Finals for the Penguins, who lost last year to the Detroit Red Wings.

Quote of the Week: ”The Wings somehow whipped Chicago, 6-1, dominated this game without Lidstrom and Datsyuk — and without Kris Draper and Andreas Lilja and Tomas Kopecky. On the other hand, the Blackhawks were forced to play the Red Wings without Bobby Hull and Tony Esposito. So it was tough for them, too.” — Michael Rosenberg, Detroit Free Press

Further Reading: ”Blackhawks lose 6-1 to Red Wings in Game 4 ” — Shannon Ryan, Chicago Tribune

——-

WHAT TO WATCH THIS WEEK

:: PRO. BASKETBALL: The Conference Finals of the NBA playoffs continue this week. Check out the schedule at www.nba.com.


:: HOCKEY:
The Conference Finals of the Stanley Cup playoffs continue this week. Check out the the schedule at www.nhl.com.

:: TENNIS: The French Open, the second of the four Grand Slam tournaments, continues this week. It runs from May 24 to June 7.

———-

ALL-SPORTS UPDATE

 

ACTIVE SEASON

:: BASEBALL

MLB (Pro. Baseball): The 2009 season is underway, and it runs through October. [Official MLB Website]

:: BASKETBALL

NBA (Pro. Basketball): The 2008-09 NBA playoffs are currently underway.  [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]

———-

 

:: FOOTBALL

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]

———-

:: GOLF

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 next Major Championship is the U.S. Open. [Official PGA Website]

NOTABLE PLAYERS: Tiger Woods, Phil Mickelson

———-

:: HOCKEY

NHL (Pro. Hockey): The Stanley Cup playoffs are currently underway.  [Official NHL Website]

 

———-

:: TENNIS

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 event is the French Open, which takes place in May. [USTA Website]

NOTABLE PLAYERS: Roger Federer, Rafael Nadal, Maria Sharapova, Ana Ivanovic

———-

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May 18, Week in Sports

May 18, Week in Sports

:: Lakers Top Rockets in Seven; Celtics Fall to Magic (Pro. Basketball)

:: Detroit Red Wings Beat Anaheim Ducks to Face Blackhawks (Hockey)

:: Rachel Alexandra Wins Preakness (Horse Racing)

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L.A. CONFIDENT: LAKERS ADVANCE TO CONFERENCE FINALS

On Sunday afternoon, the Los Angeles Lakers pummeled the Houston Rockets 89-70 in Game 7 of their playoff series. The Lakers now advance to the Conference Finals, where they will play the red hot Denver Nuggets.

Going into the 2009 post-season, the Lakers were expected to cruise to the Finals, especially after the Rockets lost their star center, Yao Ming, to injury. However, that perception changed significantly as the Rockets fought back, forcing the series to seven games and raising questions about the strength and heart of the Lakers team–especially after Lakers star guard Kobe Bryant and coach Phil Jackson appeared to be indifferent after an ugly Game 6 loss in Houston. Now the Lakers face an extremely tough opponent in the Denver Nuggets, who are appearing in the Conference Finals for the first time in over two decades.

Meanwhile, on the East Coast, the Boston Celtics fell to the Orlando Magic in Game 7. The Celtics won the NBA Finals last year, and while nobody expected them to repeat that achievement given the injury to Kevin Garnett, it was still a bit of a surprise to see them defeated at home. The Orlando Magic are now slated to play the Cleveland Cavaliers in the Conference Finals. The Cavs are the best team in the playoffs this year, and NBA analysts have all but penciled them in as this year’s champions. If the Magic were to knock them off, it would be a huge upset.

Quote of the Week: “We just had to come home, put the last game behind us, and play well…. We’ve got our hands full with [the Denver Nuggets]–we know they’re rested, we know they’re ready…but we will be too.” — Kobe Bryant, Los Angeles Lakers

Further Reading: Gasol, Lakers overwhelm Rockets in Game 7 ” — Associated Press, via ESPN

———-

HAWKS AND RED WINGS DROP THE GLOVES


The Detroit Red Wings pulled off a Game 7 victory over the Anaheim Ducks on Thursday, advancing to play their arch-rivals, the Chicago Blackhawks, in the next round of the Stanley Cup Playoffs. The Red Wings beat the Blackhawks in Game 1 of that series by a score of 5-2.

The Red Wings, who won the Stanley Cup last year, have been one of the most dominant teams in professional sports over the last decade, and they are just as good as ever. Led by veteran stars Pavel Datsyuk, Henrik Zetterberg, and Nicklas Lidstrom, the Red Wings are a well-oiled machine, one of the deepest teams in the league, and a perennial favorite to win the Cup. The Blackhawks, on the other hand, have had a very different path to this series. After fading into irrelevance in Chicago during the past 15 years, the Blackhawks, led by young stars Jonathan Toews and Patrick Kane, have resurrected the franchise this year. Since the arrival of Toews and Kane a year ago, the Hawks have gone from being one of the worst teams in the league to being one of the fastest, most explosive teams in the country. The last time the Blackhawks made it this deep in the playoffs was in 1995, when they lost to the Red Wings.

The Blackhawks and Red Wings are two of the “Original Six” teams in the NHL. The other four teams from the “Original Six” are the Boston Bruins, New York Rangers, Toronto Maple Leafs, and Montreal Canadiens.

Quote of the Week: ”Hockeytown USA? Some would argue that’s on the West Side of Chicago now, even if the Red Wings have hilariously trademarked the phrase.” — Jon Greenberg, ESPN Chicago

Further Reading: ”Chi-town and Motown, facing off again ” — Jon Greenberg, ESPN Chicago

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BOYS CLUB? NOT AT PREAKNESS

On Saturday afternoon, Rachel Alexandra won the Preakness, edging out Kentucky Derby winner Mine That Bird. The Preakness is the second leg of the Triple Crown of horse racing.

Rachel Alexandra was the favorite to win the Preakness, so in that sense, her victory was the expected result. However, it was still an unusual day in Baltimore for a few reasons. First of all, though Rachel Alexandra was not the first filly to win the Preakness, the last time it happened was 85 years ago. Rachel Alexandra was also the first horse in 134 years to start in the 13th position and win the race.

However, the strangest part of the race had to do with the jockey. The jockey that guided Rachel Alexandra to victory today was none other than Calvin Borel, who won the Kentucky Derby with Mine That Bird. Never before has a Derby-winning jockey switched horses for the Preakness. In this case, the decision paid off handsomely for Borel. Meanwhile, Mine That Bird finished in second place.

Quote of the Week: ”Like I told everybody up front, she’s the best horse in the country right now, bar none. I can’t go back on my word. I won’t go back on my word.” — Calvin Borel

Further Reading: ”Rachel Alexandra holds off Mine That Bird, wins Preakness ” — Bob Velin, USA Today

——-

WHAT TO WATCH THIS WEEK

:: PRO. BASKETBALL: The Conference Finals of the NBA playoffs begin this week. Check out the schedule at www.nba.com.


:: HOCKEY:
The Conference Finals of the Stanley Cup playoffs continue this week. The most anticipated matchup of this round is between the Detroit Red Wings and Chicago Blackhawks. Check out the rest of the schedule at www.nhl.com.

:: TENNIS: The French Open, the second of the four Grand Slam tournaments, begins this week. It runs from May 24 to June 7.

———-

ALL-SPORTS UPDATE

 

ACTIVE SEASON

:: BASEBALL

MLB (Pro. Baseball): The 2009 season is underway, and it runs through October. [Official MLB Website]

:: BASKETBALL

NBA (Pro. Basketball): The 2008-09 NBA playoffs are currently underway.  [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]

———-

 

:: FOOTBALL

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]

———-

:: GOLF

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 next Major Championship is the U.S. Open. [Official PGA Website]

NOTABLE PLAYERS: Tiger Woods, Phil Mickelson

———-

:: HOCKEY

NHL (Pro. Hockey): The Stanley Cup playoffs are currently underway.  [Official NHL Website]

 

———-

:: TENNIS

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 event is the French Open, which takes place in May. [USTA Website]

NOTABLE PLAYERS: Roger Federer, Rafael Nadal, Maria Sharapova, Ana Ivanovic

———-

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