Photo: Katelyn Mulcahy/Jason Miller/Getty Images

LeBron James, whose play defined the last two decades of NBA basketball, scored a season-high 40 points in his first matchup against Zion Williamson (29 points), whose play could define the next two decades.

Fun fact: LeBron has now faced a fellow No. 1 overall pick 356 times — and he's finished with the scoring advantage in 297 of those games, per ESPN.

The big picture: LeBron and Zion have so much in common — game-breaking athleticism, unparalleled hype — yet the experience of watching them play basketball is "fascinatingly different," writes The Ringer's Brian Phillips:

  • "Something about watching Zion really, really makes people want to describe him in cartoonishly evocative, absurdist-poetic language. ... When Zion tears the sole of his shoe, venerable organs of sports journalism like Sports Illustrated tweet that his shoe 'LITERALLY EXPLODED,' in all caps."
  • "[T]he language we use for LeBron tends to evoke something more like an 18th-century sovereign, or maybe a Roman general. ... An incredible dunk from LeBron will rarely be described as a rose blooming inside a cyclone of lasers; it will be described, instead, as 'an incredible dunk from LeBron.'"
  • "LeBron's career coincided with the apex of a post–Michael Jordan tendency to represent the league in terms of organized macro-narrative and all-time rankings."
  • "Zion has come along at a moment when our experience of basketball is shifting back toward the fun mess of one present moment: the highlight, the GIF, the second of shareable chills."
  • "In a pretty natural, unforced way, then, the two players seem to personify the dominant tendencies of an era in transition."

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Jun 3, 2020 - Sports

Drew Brees draws ire for condemning athlete protests during national anthem

New Orleans Saints quarterback Drew Brees. Photo: Mark Brown/Getty Images

New Orleans Saints quarterback Drew Brees elicited backlash on Wednesday for saying in a Yahoo News interview that NFL players who kneel during the national anthem to protest racial inequality are "disrespecting the flag of the United States of America."

Why it matters: Brees' comments come in the wake of George Floyd's killing while in police custody last week. Major cities including Washington, D.C., New York City, Los Angeles, Atlanta and Portland have had consecutive days of massive crowds protesting police-related violence against black people.

Diverging services data suggests U.S. coronavirus recovery may be overblown

Data: Investing.com; Chart: Axios Visuals

ISM's stronger-than-expected reading of U.S. services sector data grabbed headlines, but IHS Markit's index told a different story.

Flashback: In December, similar divergence popped up in the two indexes' manufacturing reports, but with ISM's data showing much weaker numbers — the worst manufacturing report in a decade.

Venture capital reckons with its racial disparities

Illustration: Eniola Odetunde/Axios

Venture capital is not the primary cause of, nor primary solution to, America's racial inequities. But as a major driver of wealth and opportunity, it does exacerbate them.

How it works: Black men are woefully underrepresented within VC firms at just 2%, based on the most recent data. Black women don't even rank a percentage point.