‘So…This Happened’ is our quick-hitting weekly round-up of some of the biggest stories in sports. Take a read and own the water cooler sports conversations, if any of you have an actually water cooler that you hang out by to talk sports.
We have moved to the NBA Finals. Raptors vs. Warriors. Kawhi vs. Stef. Game 1 kicked off in Toronto last night, and it was ELECTRIC. In baseball, earlier this week a foul ball line drive into the stands that hit a young girl stopped the game and the batter – Albert Almora, Jr. – had a raw emotional moment that also sparked debate about the safety of baseball. Not only did we have Game 1 of the NBA Finals on ABC on Thursday night, but we also had the Scripps National Spelling Bee over on ESPN. And the ending was historic.
But. That’s. Not. All.
This week was so jam-packed that we are going past three (!!) and turning it all the way up to 11. Or – well – at least we will cover a fourth thing this week. Namely, because the name of this column is So…This Happened, we couldn’t resist bringing to you an epic smack-down on Twitter by a minor league hockey team in the name of diversity and inclusion.
So “without further gilding of the lilly and with no more adieu,” we bring you this week’s So…This Happened.
1. Game One of the NBA Finals: “The Pascal Siakam Game”
Drake was wearing the old school Dell Curry Raptors jersey and talking smack to Draymond.
Man, i just became a goldenstate fan and I dont know how I feel about this. pic.twitter.com/qcVfRkm3Tj
— Thunder-Lips (@Mattomaha1) May 31, 2019
Good Guy, Marc Gasol, was dominating in the paint in first half.
Kawhi was doing Kawhi Things in crunch time.
But the real story last night was Pascal Siakam AKA “Spicy P.” (That’s right. That’s his nickname, and you will gleefully embrace it.)
Don’t say it. Don’t say “Who?!”
You can’t anymore, because after emerging this season as a young star and one of the NBA’s better two-way players, Siakam has now put himself in the company of the NBA’s All-Time Greats with a Dominating Performance in Game One of the Finals.
The man made 14 of 17 shots in his first ever Finals game. And according to NBA analyst, Tommy Beer:
“per Basketball Reference, here is the complete list of all players in league history to tally at least 30 points, 5 rebounds, 5 assists, 2 blocks and two made 3-pointers in an NBA Finals game:
— end of list —”
Thanks to Siakam’s monster performance and suffocating all-around defense, the Raptors defended their home-court “Jurrasic Park”, broke the Golden State Warriors 12-game streak of winning Game 1s, and started this series off with a real bang.
2. The Cubs Albert Almora, Jr. Was Distraught After Lining a Foul Ball That Hits a Young Girl. Is More Netting Coming to MLB?
This was heartbreaking to see.
“I wish I could say more, I don’t know. I’m just praying. I’m speechless. I’m at loss of words, being a father, two boys … but God willing I’ll be able to have a relationship with this little girl for the rest of my life. But just prayers right now and that’s all I really can control.” – Albert Almora, Jr.
It remains to be seen what, if anything, MLB and individual teams will do in terms of installing more netting or other safety measures to deal with the rare but potentially devastating injuries that can happen to fans when a ball is hit hard into the stands. Almora Jr. was also asked by reporters about whether he believes protective netting should be extended from foul-pole to foul-pole:
“Right now, obviously, I want to put a net around the whole stadium…,” Almora, Jr. did not finish the sentence, appearing to be too emotional to speak further.
The other thing people are talking about are Almora, Jr.’s reaction. Despite the tragic and difficult circumstances, his reaction was – simply put – beautiful and human:
“I’m hopeful that I’ll have a relationship with that family. For the rest of my life…It puts life into perspective. We get upset when we don’t get hits or make errors. And then, life. You just, you know.”
Keeps things in perspective, certainly.
3. The Scripps National Spelling Bee Ends In…An Eight-Way Tie?!
Let’s get this out of the way first. Is 7th and 8th graders competing in a spelling bee even a sport?
YES. You’re damned straight it is.
First, it was broadcast on ESPN. So, that ends the inquiry right then and there. QED. Proof!
Second, this stuff is REALLY hard. Seriously. Why don’t you stop navel-gazing and try spelling “omphalopsychite.”
Finally, and most importantly, it has all the elements of great sports competition: Tension. Camaraderie. Uncommon skills on display, these of the intellectual sort. And of course, Players whose on-screen biography includes not only “Wants to meet Luka Dončić,” but also “Watches TED Talks in his spare time.”
Speak of TED Talks, wonder if he watched this one, “Should we simplify spelling?“!!?
The kids’ answer to that last night was a resounding night. Because round after round, they took the hardest words those dry pedants could throw at them and spelled the feculence out of them. “Feculence. C-R-A-P. Feculence.”
And they kept going, error-free, for three intense hours and round after round after round. Eight spellers remained.
The people were excited:
GIVE US SPELLING BEE OVERTIME
— Jeff Passan (@JeffPassan) May 31, 2019
But they were running out of challenging words. And it was approaching 11 PM. Bedtime beckoned for our young spellers, but there was no end in sight. And so Scripps decided that whomever was left at the end of 20 rounds would finish as a co-champion.
At the end of the night, we had crowned the first ever octochampions (O-C-T-O-C-H-A-M-P-I-O-N-S. Octochampions.)
Congratulations to our Octochamps!#Speller5 Rishik Gandhasri#Speller93 Erin Howard#Speller132 Saketh Sundar#Speller307 Shruthika Padhy#Speller354 Sohum Sukhatankar#Speller407 Abhijay Kodali#Speller427 Christopher Serrao#Speller462 Rohan Raja https://t.co/du3VgXKKEz pic.twitter.com/ZhYvFeiWE0
— Scripps National Spelling Bee (@ScrippsBee) May 31, 2019
Shorter Spelling Bee:
In 2019, the kids broke the Scripps Spelling Bee. Witness.
BONUS: Rochester Red Wings Social Media Intern, 1. Bigot Fan/Troll, 0.
So also, this happened.
The Rochester Red Wings get it. pic.twitter.com/CN5EoGroMr
— Matt Johnson (@twoeightnine) May 29, 2019
Props to the awesome cleverness of the millennial social media interns who run these sports team social media accounts.
Creative. Smart. Not taking anyone’s nonsense.
We are very much here for it.
Photo Credit: Twitter/@ScrippsBee