The MVP Goes To…

June 9, 2021

Good Morning,

Hopefully you’re having a better week than the Pittsburgh Pirates. Two weeks after a hilarious base-running blunder, they’re back to being the subject of social media mockery. Hitting home runs is cool. Touching the bases is cooler.

Letter Rip!

_________________________________________________________________________________________

TEAM NEWS

Attention Sportsletter Readers: We’re giving away an exciting package for sports fans simply by signing up for other newsletters in our family of publications. It includes a 1-year subscription to ESPN+ and a $500 gift card to Dick’s Sporting Goods.

 

Enter the Giveaway Here

_________________________________________________________________________________________

NBA

The Joker Wins NBA MVP

Photo: C. Morgan Engel / Getty Images

Nuggets Center Nikola Jokic Becomes Lowest-Drafted Player Ever to Win NBA MVP Award

 

After playing all 72 games this season and leading the Nuggets to the 3-seed in the West (47-25), Nikola Jokic is the undisputed winner of the 2020-21 NBA MVP Award. Jokic made a number of historic firsts on Tuesday, including the first MVP in Denver Nuggets franchise history, and the lowest-drafted player ever to win it (41st overall, 2014). He’s also the first MVP to play in every regular-season game since Kobe Bryant in 2007-08, and he’s the first center to win the award since Shaquille O’Neal in 2000-01.

 

Jokic received an overwhelming 91% of first-place votes. Joel Embiid (2nd), Steph Curry (3rd), Giannis Antetokounmpo (4th) and Chris Paul (5th) also received first-place votes.

 

By The Numbers: Jokic’s 2020-21 Season

26.4 Points Per Game (NBA Rank: 12th)

10.9 Rebounds Per Game (NBA Rank: 9th)

8.4 Assists Per Game (NBA Rank: 6th)

1.3 Steals Per Game (NBA Rank: 22nd)

 

Watch: NBA Commissioner Adam Silver Surprises Nuggets’ Nikola Jokic With MVP Award

 

NBA Playoff Highlights

 

Gm 2: 76ers def. Hawks (118-102)

The Sixers bounced back for a Game 2 win to even the series behind Joel Embiid’s 40 points and 13 rebounds. The Hawks led just once in the game late in the third quarter, but Philly pulled away in the 4th. Seth Curry (5-for-6, 3-pt) was also lights-out from deep. Series Tied (1-1)

 

Gm 1: Jazz def. Clippers (112-109)

The opening game of the Jazz-Clippers series was full of intrigue as Salt Lake City’s Vivint Arena was rocking at full capacity. The Jazz fell behind by double digits in the first half, but Donovan Mitchell (45 points) scored 32 in the second half to lead a Jazz rally. Rudy Gobert also blocked a game-tying 3-point attempt in the final seconds. UTA Leads Series (1-0)

 

Tonight’s Schedule

Gm 2: Nuggets at Suns (9:30 pm ET)

PHX Leads Series (1-0)

 

Additional Storylines

CBS Sports: Is Nikola Jokic the Most Unlikely MVP in NBA History?

The Ringer: Which Teams Are Favored to Reach the Conference Finals?

_________________________________________________________________________________________

NHL

Bolts Get Back to the Semis

Photo: Gregg Forwerck / Getty Images

Lightning Eliminate Hurricanes (4-1) With Shutout in Game 5 (2-0)

 

It’s a shutout in Florida! The Lightning knocked out the Hurricanes in the all-Florida Central Division finale on Tuesday night to win the series in five games. Goaltender Andrei Vasilevskiy was brilliant with 29 saves and his first postseason shutout of 2021. He only needed two goals in support by Brayden Point and Ross Colton. The defending champs are now 8-3 in the playoffs after ending the season on a three-game skid. They’re going back to the Stanley Cup semifinals in hopes of defending their title, but the the winner of the Bruins-Islanders series stands in the way of the Stanley Cup Finals.

 

Watch: Lightning Eliminate Hurricanes on Vasilevskiy’s 29-Save Shutout

 

Other NHL Highlights

 

Gm 5: Golden Knights def. Avalanche (3-2, OT)

The Golden Knights erased a two-goal deficit in the third period of Game 5 before Mark Stone struck the OT winner just 50 seconds into the extra period to steal back the series. Vegas trailed the series 2-0, but they’ve won three straight to take command with Game 6 heading back to the desert on Thursday (9:00 pm ET). VGK Leads Series (3-2)

 

Tonight’s Schedule

Gm 6: Bruins at Islanders (7:30 pm ET)

NYI Leads Series (3-2)

 

Additional Storylines

NBC Sports: Bruins Goaltender Tuukka Rask Questionable for Game 6

NHL: Avalanche’s Nazem Kadri Has 8-Game Suspension Denied by League Arbitrator

_________________________________________________________________________________________

TENNIS

Medvedev’s Scoreboard Controversy

Photo: TPN / Getty Images

(5) Stefanos Tsitsipas Takes Down (2) Daniil Medvedev After Scoreboard Controversy at French Open

 

The next big name in the men’s draw at the French Open is going home, but according to Daniil Medvedev, it wasn’t his fault. Medvedev lost in straight sets to (5) Stefanos Tsitsipas in Tuesday’s quarterfinal match, but a third-set scoreboard controversy left the Russian star furious in a crucial moment. “If I lose the match now, it’s your fault,” Medvedev said to the umpire. Despite a high level of success in recent years, Medvedev still has a zero next to his name in grand slam titles. The two remaining superstars in the men’s draw take the court today.

 

French Open Quarterfinal Highlights

M: (5) S. Tsitsipas def. (2) D. Medvedev (6-3, 7-6, 7-5)

M: (6) A. Zverev def. A. D-Fokina (6-4, 6-1, 6-1)

W: T. Zidansek def. P. Badosa Gibert (7-5, 4-6, 8-6)

W: (31) A. Pavlyuchenkova def. (21) E. Rybakina (6-7, 6-2, 9-7)

 

Today’s Schedule

W: (24) C. Gauff vs. B. Krejcikova (5:00 am ET)

W: (8) I. Swiatek vs. (17) M. Sakkari (6:15 am ET)

M: (3) R. Nadal vs. (10 D. Schwartzman (7:30 am ET)

M: (1) N. Djokovic vs. (9) M. Berrettini (2:00 pm ET)

 

Additional Storylines

Yahoo! Sports: Djokovic, Nadal Close In On French Open Blockbuster

The Guardian: Zidansek and Pavlyuchenkova Reach French Open Semis After Epic Battles

_________________________________________________________________________________________

🎥 THE HIGHLIGHTS

🥎 WCWS: #10 FSU Wins Game 1

Florida State took Game 1 of the Women’s College World Series finals on Tuesday with an 8-4 win over #1 Oklahoma. Kalei Harding went 3-for-4 on the day with a HR and 4 RBIs for the Seminoles, who need one more victory in the best-of-3 series to win the championship. Game 2 is tonight (7:00 pm ET).

 

⚾️ MLB: Ohtani & Acuna Jr. Smash Long Balls

The MLB youth movement is evident at the top of the HR standings, and two of the game’s young stars added to the highlights on Tuesday. The Angels’ Shohei Ohtani crushed a career-long 470-foot homer shortly after the Braves’ Ronald Acuna Jr. hit a 460-foot jack. Both Ohtani (17 HRs) and Acuna Jr. (18 HRs) are atop the home-run race with Vlad Guerrero Jr. (18) and Fernando Tatis Jr. (17).

 

🏀 WNBA: Tina Charles Catches Fire

Tuesday’s WNBA game-ball goes to 32-year-old veteran Tina Charles for her 31-point outing in a win for the Washington Mystics (85-81) over the Minnesota Lynx. It was Charles’ fourth 30-point game of this resurgent season after missing all of last year with a medical waiver.

_________________________________________________________________________________________

THE STORYLINES

🏀 Mike Budenholzer’s Hot Seat

If the Bucks-Nets series keeps going the way it did on Monday night, when the Nets blew the Bucks out to take a 2-0 series lead, the sweeping changes many thought would be coming in Milwaukee last offseason might not be able to be delayed any longer. (Bleacher Report)

 

🏈 Navy Shoots Down Rookie’s Dream

After four years as a standout at the U.S. Naval Academy, Cameron Kinley signed with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in May as an undrafted rookie free agent. But when the Bucs start mandatory minicamp Tuesday, Kinley won’t be there. (Yahoo! Sports)

 

⚽️ USMNT-Mexico Rivalry: What’s Next?

Did the USMNT live up to the potential promised by its young stars like Christian Pulisic and Weston McKennie? Is Mexico still considered the best team in CONCACAF despite the heartbreaking loss? (ESPN)

_________________________________________________________________________________________

📰 THE HEADLINES

Former New York Giants Head Coach Jim Fassel Dies at 71

(CBS Sports)

 

Bruins Coach Bruce Cassidy Fined $25,000 for Criticizing Officiating in Game 5

(USA Today)

 

Rickie Fowler Fails to Qualify for U.S. Open for First Time Since 2010; Misses by 1 Stroke

(ESPN)

 

New Titans WR Julio Jones Turns Down No. 11 Jersey From A.J. Brown, Decides on New Number

(Yahoo! Sports)

 

NWSL Announces 2022 Expansion Team in San Diego With Jill Ellis as Club President

(Sports Illustrated)

 

Bob Baffert, Medina Spirit Owners Sue Kentucky Horse Racing Commission Over Derby Controversy

(NBC Sports)

_________________________________________________________________________________________

📊 READER POLL

Question of the Day

Do you think the Logan Paul vs. Floyd Mayweather pay-per-view fight was rigged? (Reply to today’s newsletter with additional thoughts and you might be featured in tomorrow’s edition.)

_________________________________________________________________________________________