☕️ Good morning! Happy Monday.
Illustration: Lazaro Gamio/Axios
During the 2004-05 season, Phoenix Suns head coach Mike D'Antoni paired his famed Seven Seconds or Less offensive system with superstar Steve Nash and, aided by the NBA's crackdown on physical defense, changed basketball forever.
Fast-forward to present day: In recent years, every NBA team has adopted some version of this freewheeling system — and it's only gotten more extreme.
What's happening: Basketball has evolved dramatically over the last 15 years, as variables like advanced analytics, rule changes and talent (both players and coaches) have combined to create a chemical-like reaction that we can never erase. This is not a fad.
Between the lines: Now that every NBA team is playing the same pace-and-space style, it's no longer enough to simply adopt that system and hope for the best. Teams must now attempt to find an edge, typically through training or personnel.
The big picture: One thing that hasn't been discussed nearly enough is how all of this affects young basketball players (aka, the NBA's future workforce) and the people tasked with developing them.
The New England Patriots are led by the NFL's oldest quarterback in 41-year-old Tom Brady and its second-oldest head coach in 66-year-old Bill Belichick.
Yes, this "old guys vs. young dudes" narrative is cute, but if you really want to know what makes the Patriots and Rams polar opposites, take a look at how their rosters are structured — and how they spend their money.
The big picture: The Rams got to the Super Bowl by saying, "Look, we have a potentially legendary coach and a couple more seasons until we have to pay Jared Goff, so let's call this our 'championship window' and start writing huge checks even if they might put us in a bind later on. Hollywood baby, go big or go home!"
🗣 P.S. Speaking of "that Tom guy," the Pats have a new rallying cry.
Vladimir Guerrero Jr. Photo: Joe Robbins/Getty Images
Major League Baseball released its annual Top 100 prospects list on Saturday, with sons of 2 former big leaguers sitting atop the rankings.
Best farm systems: Padres (1o prospects on the list); Braves (8); White Sox (6); Astros (6); Rays (6); Blue Jays (5), Reds (4), Dodgers (4), Pirates (4)
The big picture: Since MLB first started producing these rankings in 2004, the Rays (62) have produced the most Top 100 prospects, followed by the Dodgers (57), Braves (56) and Padres (50).
Check out the full list here.
Best glimpse of the future: The NHL has spent years developing puck and player tracking technology, and NBC Sports gave us a glimpse of how it will be incorporated into future broadcasts. Pretty easy to see the value in something like this if/when real-time betting becomes mainstream.
Best photo: In honor of Sidney Crosby winning All-Star Game MVP, here is a photo of his mentor, Mario Lemieux, after winning the 1988 All-Star Game MVP, where he won a new pickup truck and a Kaypro computer.
Best thing I read: "Can Connor McDavid ever overcome the Oilers' perpetual rebuild? The 22-year-old phenom took the stage at the NHL's All-Star weekend and tried to escape the swirling chaos surrounding his team. But like it has for the past decade, future success still feels far away in Edmonton," writes The Ringer's Katie Baker.
🇺🇸 USA: Gregg Berhalter became the 3rd U.S. men's national team coach in the modern era to begin his tenure with a win, as the Americans beat Panama 3-0 in an exhibition in Glendale, Ariz. last night.
🇫🇷 France: Thierry Henry's managerial career is not off to the best start. The former Arsenal legend was sacked by AS Monaco over the weekend ... after just 3 months in charge. Reports indicate Henry never carried himself as a manager, with someone close to the squad saying it felt too much like he was still "one of the boys."
🇦🇷 Argentina: Embracing new scouting strategies and an ambition bigger than its wallet, Racing Club "stands out as a bastion of innovation" among Argentina's traditional powerhouses, all of whom are steeped in tradition and resistant to change, writes the NYT's Rory Smith. Fascinating read.
Photos: Julian Finney/Getty Images; Fiona Hamilton/Tennis Australia/Getty Images
Recap: This was expected to be a classic, since, well, most Djokovic-Nadal matches are (their previous meeting, in last year's Wimbledon semifinals, took more than 2 days).
Recap: Naomi Osaka squandered 3 championship points in the 2nd set, but the 21-year-old regrouped brilliantly to win her 2nd consecutive Grand Slam title.
Answer at the bottom.
Denmark followed up its gold medal performance in the 2016 Olympics by winning the country's first-ever World Handball Championship yesterday with a 31-22 win over Norway in the finals.
Photo: Doug Pensinger/Getty Images
18 years ago today, Britney Spears, 'N Sync, Nelly, Mary J. Blige and Aerosmith delivered an iconic performance during halftime of Super Bowl XXXV. Some say human civilization peaked that evening. Enjoy.
P.S. In keeping with the "wow, haven't thought about those guys in a while" theme, the national anthem was performed by ... The Backstreet Boys.
P.P.S. In terms of the actual football game, Ray Lewis (game MVP) and the Ravens destroyed Kerry Collins and the Giants, 34-7 (highlights).
Kendall "Didn't watch the Pro Bowl and feel great about it" Baker
Trivia answer: Jim Brown