April 27, Week in Sports
:: Lions Take Stafford in NFL Draft (Pro. Football)
:: Cavs Sweep Pistons; Rose Wins Rookie of the Year (Pro. Basketball)
:: San Jose Stays Alive in Stanley Cup Playoffs (Pro. Hockey)
On Saturday afternoon, the Detroit Lions announced that they had reached an agreement with quarterback Matthew Stafford, ultimately making him the first overall pick of the NFL Draft on Sunday. Stafford and the Lions inked a 6-year, $72 million deal. Of that money, $41.7 million is guaranteed, which is an NFL record.
The Lions are an extremely troubled franchise with numerous holes on both offense and defense, and Stafford alone will not be able to save it. Detroit finished the 2008 season with an 0-16 record–the first time that an NFL team had finished a 16-game season winless. Although many Lions fans and critics argued that the team should have spent less money on the first overall pick by drafting a position other than quarterback, it is also undeniable that the Lions are desperately in need someone with even a little bit of young talent running the offense. Of course, it is no guarantee that Stafford will work out. For every first-round quarterback success story, such as Peyton Manning, there have been numerous players who completely flopped–such as Tim Couch and Alex Smith.
The other big news from the draft came when the New York Jets traded up to get quarterback Mark Sanchez. Jets fans have a reputation for vehemently opposing their team’s draft picks, but surprisingly, the vast majority were very pleased with the Sanchez pick.
Quote of the Week: “He’s 21. Let’s start with that. How finished a product were you at 21? Matthew Stafford is now the future of the Lions, he has been guaranteed more money than any NFL player ever, and he just reached the drinking age.” — Mitch Albom, Detroit Free Press
Further Reading: “New QB Stafford ready to accept challenge 0-16 brings ” — Nicholas J. Cotsonika, Detroit Free Press
ROYAL FLUSH: “KING” JAMES AND CAVS SWEEP PISTONS
The Cleveland Cavaliers beat the Detroit Pistons on Sunday afternoon to advance to the second round of the playoffs. The Cavs, one of the favorites to go all the way this year, swept the series.
Going into the playoffs, everyone fully expected LeBron James and company to cruise to the championship. That being said, their performance against the Pistons, a veteran postseason team, was still very impressive. James was especially impressive, scoring 36 points in Game 4 and averaging over 30 points per game in the series. The Cavs will now have time to rest up before round 2, where they will play either the Miami Heat or the Atlanta Hawks.
In other NBA news, last Wednesday, Derrick Rose of the Chicago Bulls was named Rookie of the Year. Rose and the Bulls are currently locked up 2-2 with the Boston Celtics in the first round of the playoffs. That series, which everyon is already calling an “instant classic,” continues on Tuesday in Boston.
Quote of the Week: ”This is where legends are born, and this is where teams make history.” — LeBron James
Further Reading: “LeBron takes control as Cavaliers sweep up Pistons ” — Associated Press, via ESPN
SHARKS FIGHT BACK, BUT STILL ON THIN ICE
The Stanley Cup playoffs heated up this week, with two of the first round series headed toward a decisive Game 7, and the top-seed San Jose Sharks clawing their way back into their series with the Anaheim Ducks.
The Sharks entered the playoffs as the one-seed in the Western Conference after proving themselves to be totally dominant in the regular season. However, they have had the misfortune to draw a first-round matchup against the Ducks, who were arguably the hottest team in the league during the last month of the regular season. After dropping the first two games against Anaheim, San Jose battled their way to two victories (and one additional loss), bringing the series to 3-2. Game 6 of the series will be played tonight in Anaheim.
Two of the first-round series already have Game 7 matchups scheduled for this week: the New York Rangers vs. the Washington Capitals, and the Carolina Hurricanes vs. the New Jersey Devils. Fans are particularly excited about the Rangers-Capitals matchup, since the Rangers have a huge, passionate fanbase, and the Caps have league superstar Alexander Ovechkin on their side. Game 7 of that series, which should be electric, will be played on Tuesday night.
Quote of the Week: ”Sharks center Joe Thornton found a heart, the Ducks lost a chance to pull off an upset and the teams’ playoff series became a lot more interesting — and at least one game longer.” — Helene Elliot, L.A. Times
Further Reading: “Sharks force Game 6 with OT after Ducks rally in third period ” — Associated Press, via ESPN
WHAT TO WATCH THIS WEEK
:: HORSE RACING: The Kentucky Derby, perhaps the biggest event in horse racing, takes place next Saturday.
:: PRO. BASKETBALL: The NBA playoffs continue this week. The defending champion Boston Celtics and Chicago Bulls have a huge game on Tuesday night. Check out the rest of the schedule at www.nba.com.
:: HOCKEY: The Stanley Cup playoffs continue this week. The New York Rangers and Washington Capitals play Game 7 on Tuesday night. The rest of the schedule is available at www.nhl.com.
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 next event is the French Open, which takes place in May. [USTA Website]
NOTABLE PLAYERS: Roger Federer, Rafael Nadal, Maria Sharapova, Ana Ivanovic