As we all transition from the Winter Olympics to March Madness, Spring Training, or the second half of the NBA regular season, let’s take a look at some of the biggest stories in sports this week.
The Good (with an Olympic Twist)
- Men Win Gold - Not only did the USA men’s curling team play in the gold medal match for the first time, but they upset curling powerhouses Canada and Sweden on its way to victory. After Sweden’s Niklas Edin missed with his stone in the fifth end, John Shuster delivered what would be the play that secured gold for the USA. He knocked out two Swedish stones to give the US a 10-5 lead and sealed Sweden’s fate. Shuster and the United States were heavy underdogs, battling back from elimination games throughout the tournament.
“I kept smiling, and I’m usually the quiet one. I told Matt, ‘I think it’s a dream. I’ll wake up tomorrow and this might not be real.’ It’s just fantastic,” Shuster said afterward.
According to the United States Curling Association, there are 165 clubs across America with just about 16,500 individuals partaking in the sport. See you in 2022, Beijing.
- Women Winners Too - In the third consecutive Olympic gold matchup between the USA and Canada in women’s hockey, the Americans finally cashed in after falling short in 2010 and 2014. The United States was able to pull off a 3-2 win in a shootout to clinch their first women’s hockey gold since its induction in 1998.
This victory comes just months after the same team beat Canada back at the World Championships last year. It has been a breakthrough year for the team as they were in the midst of leaving USA Hockey altogether after the organization refused to budge in matters important to the athletes. USA Hockey eventually agreed to terms with the athletes that saw salary increases, better accommodations and insurance equal to that of the men.
- Kawhi Out - There’s been a lot of question marks swirling around San Antonio in regards to Kawhi Leonard’s health. After an impressive season last year, Leonard has played in just nine games this season due to a quad injury in his right leg. Gregg Popovich and the team have kept the fans in the dark about the injury.
Leonard was cleared to play back in December and capped his return off with a season-high 25 points against the Knicks in January. However, his return was short lived. The Spurs listed Kawhi as ‘out indefinitely’ over a month ago. League sources say that he’s been medically cleared to play, but is choosing to sit out.
Pop said Wednesday that he’s not sure if Leonard will return this season. What was supposed to be a preseason injury that might sideline him for the opener will likely force him out for the year. Tensions between San Antonio and its superstar are climaxing with rumors of Leonard darting to Boston this summer.
- College Basketball Takes an ‘L’ - It has been a crazy week for college basketball fans to say the least. A Yahoo! Sports report found that some of the nations top programs and players were receiving illegal benefits from agents Christian Dawkins and Andy Miller. Among those listed were Miles Briges, Deandre Ayton, Collin Sexton, Wendell Carter, Malik Pope, and Kevin Knox. No, that’s not the AP All-American First Team. A separate ESPN report found that Arizona head coach Sean Miller had multiple conversations with Dawkins to secure Ayton’s commitment to his program. Miller did not coach at Arizona’s game against Oregon. Shaquille O’Neal’s son, Shareef, announced his decommitment from Arizona yesterday as well.
These investigations come just weeks after former USA Gymnastics and Michigan State doctor, Larry Nassar, was sentenced to life in prison after over 150 accusations of molestation. It has been months of troubling findings for the NCAA.