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)
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
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
WHAT TO WATCH THIS WEEK
:: 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.
MLB (Pro. Baseball): The 2009 season is underway, and it runs through October. [Official MLB Website]
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]
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 next Major Championship is the U.S. Open. [Official PGA Website]
NOTABLE PLAYERS: Tiger Woods, Phil Mickelson
NHL (Pro. Hockey): The Stanley Cup playoffs are currently underway. [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 French Open is currently underway. [USTA Website]
NOTABLE PLAYERS: Roger Federer, Rafael Nadal, Maria Sharapova, Ana Ivanovic