Aug 21, 2020

Axios Sports

By Kendall Baker
Kendall Baker

👋 Happy Friday! Let's sports.

Today's word count: 1,272 words (5 minutes).

1 big thing: 🏀 The legend of Duncan Robinson

Photo: Rob Foldy/Getty Images

Duncan Robinson couldn't miss on Thursday, finishing with 24 points on 7-of-8 shooting (all threes) to lead the Heat past the Pacers, 109-100, and give Miami a 2-0 series lead.

  • Why it matters: Robinson — who set a franchise record for threes in a playoff game — is one of the most improbable players in NBA history.
  • "He's the basketball equivalent of a kid who's afraid of heights becoming an astronaut," writes WSJ's Ben Cohen (subscription).

How he got here: When Robinson was a freshman in high school, he was just 5-feet-7-inches tall. As a junior, he was coming off the bench for a mediocre team.

  • Around that time, he shot up to 6-feet-7-inches and began dreaming of playing D-III ball, though most people told him that was a reach.
  • After excelling as a senior, Robinson took a postgraduate year at Phillips Exeter Academy, where he caught the attention of D-III Williams College.
  • At Williams, Robinson was the national freshman of the year on a team that played for the national championship. He then transferred to Michigan, where he thrived and played for another national title.
  • Robinson went undrafted in the 2018 NBA draft but signed with the Heat's summer league team and was rewarded with a G League contract.
  • After playing just 161 minutes last season, Robinson started 68 games this year and had one of the best shooting campaigns ever.

Wild stat: The only players in NBA history with seasons of 240+ threes on 45% shooting: Steph Curry and Robinson. That's it.

Chart: @KirkGoldsberry

Elsewhere:

  • Lakers 111, Trail Blazers 88: Anthony Davis had 31 points and 11 rebounds as the Lakers bounced back from their Game 1 loss. Series tied 1-1.
  • Rockets 111, Thunder 98: Houston made 19 of an NBA-record 56 three-point attempts. They played eight players, and seven scored in double-digits. HOU leads 2-0.
  • Bucks 111, Magic 96: Giannis Antetokounmpo had 28 points and 20 rebounds and Milwaukee rode a fast start to knot things up. Series tied 1-1.

Today's slate: Raptors (up 2-0) vs. Nets, 1:30pm ET; Nuggets (tied 1-1) vs. Jazz, 4pm; Celtics (up 2-0) vs. 76ers, 6:30pm; Clippers (tied 1-1) vs. Mavericks, 9pm.

2. 🏁 Intrigue at the Indy 500

The 2011 Indianapolis 500. Photo: Robert Laberge/Getty Images

The 104th Running of the Indianapolis 500 takes place this Sunday (2:30pm ET, NBC). It's normally held on Memorial Day weekend, but, well, you know, Axios' Jeff Tracy writes.

  • Why it matters: Known as "The Greatest Spectacle in Racing," the Indy 500 is joined by the Monaco Grand Prix and 24 Hours of Le Mans to comprise the Triple Crown of Motorsport.
  • Quick lesson: IndyCar is one of the three major racing series, along with NASCAR and Formula One. Indy and F1 use open-wheel cars with uncovered cockpits, while NASCAR uses the more "normal" stock cars.

The setting: The famed Indianapolis Motor Speedway was constructed in 1909, endearingly called "the Brickyard" due to being paved with brick and mortar.

  • One yard of original bricks still remain at the start-finish line of the massive stadium, which can hold 300,000 fans, though none will be there this year.
  • The 500-mile race includes a relatively paltry 200 laps thanks to the enormous two-and-a-half mile circuit.
  • At 253 acres, the infield is so ridiculously gigantic that several other sports venues and international landmarks could fit inside (see below).
Courtesy: Indianapolis Motor Speedway

Race history:

  • Ray Harroun won the inaugural race in 1911 and invented the rear-view mirror in the process.
  • Three drivers have won a record four times (A.J. Foyt, Al Unser Sr., and Rick Mears) while Hélio Castroneves leads active racers with three victories.
  • Got milk? 1936 champion Louis Meyer cooled off after the race with some buttermilk. A photo of his victory chug made the papers, and a milk executive in attendance successfully pushed to make it a tradition.

The intrigue: Hall of Famer Mario Andretti won the Indy 500 in 1969, but the race has since become a family curse, with five Andrettis across three generations combining to go 1-73.

  • The good news? His grandson, Marco, won pole position this year, putting him in a prime spot to break the curse.
3. 🏒 NHL playoffs: Caps, Flames eliminated

Photo: Chase Agnello-Dean/NHLI via Getty Images

  • Yesterday: The Islanders eliminated the Capitals and the Stars eliminated the Flames.
  • Today: Flyers (up 3-2) vs. Canadiens, 7pm ET; Blues (down 3-2) vs. Canucks, 9:45pm.

Go deeper: Previewing today's games (ESPN)

4. ⚾️ The Padres are addicted to grand slams
Photo: Denis Poroy/Getty Images

The Padres hit another grand slam on Thursday, becoming the first team in MLB history to do so in four straight games.

  • Monday: Fernando Tatís Jr.
  • Tuesday: Wil Myers
  • Wednesday: Manny Machado
  • Thursday: Eric Hosmer

The bottom line: Ever since the Rangers complained about Tatís Jr. hitting a grand slam, the Padres have hit one in every single game. Is there an "unwritten rule" against that?

5. ⚡️ Catch up quick
Photo: NBA
  • 🏀 NBA: The Timberwolves, who ended the season with the league's third-worst record, won the NBA draft lottery on Thursday night, with the Warriors, Hornets and Bulls rounding out the top four.
  • ⚾️ MLB: Two members of the Mets organization tested positive for COVID-19, leading to the postponement of Thursday's game against the Marlins and today's game against the Yankees.
Photo: Paul Bereswill/Getty Images
  • 🏈 NFL: The Chiefs announced Thursday that fans will no longer be allowed to wear Native American-themed headdresses or face paint. The team will also review whether the Arrowhead Chop will continue.
  • 📺 TV: Thom Brennaman has been removed from Fox's NFL broadcasting team this season after he used an anti-LGBTQ slur during a Reds game on Wednesday.
Photo: Maddie Meyer/Getty Images
  • ⛳️ PGA: Tiger Woods shot an opening-round 68 at the Northern Trust, the first of three events in the FedEx Cup playoffs. He's four strokes off the lead.
  • ⛳️ LPGA: On a day of brutal winds at Royal Troon, only three players broke par in the first round of the Women's British Open. American Amy Olson was one of them, somehow shooting 4-under 67 to lead by three strokes.
6. Aug. 21, 1975: ⚾️ Brothers pitch shutout
Courtesy: Baseball Almanac

45 years ago today, brothers Rick and Paul Reuschel combined to throw a shutout for the Cubs in a 7-0 win over the Dodgers. As you might expect, they're the only brothers to ever accomplish that feat.

By the numbers: Starter Rick gave up five hits in 6.1 innings to earn his 10th win of the season, while rookie reliever Paul finished the job with 2.2 innings of one-hit ball.

  • Rick had a superb career, winning two Gold Gloves, making three All-Star teams and winning 214 games (91st all-time) across 19 seasons.
  • Paul was no slouch, but his modest five-year career paled in comparison to his brother's not-quite Hall of Fame time in the big leagues.

Go deeper: Oh, brother! Reuschels combine to blank the Dodgers (Chicago Tribune)

7. 📚 Good reads
RB Leipzig manager Julian Nagelsmann. Photo: Michael Regan/UEFA via Getty Images

Who is dressing the great football managers of Europe? (Ryan Hunn, The Ringer)

"The last couple of weeks of Champions League action asked some serious questions about the future of Lionel Messi at Barcelona, Pep Guardiola's Manchester City project, and most important, the soft sartorial decisions of Europe's sharpest tactical minds."

🏀 Why have NBA offenses been so good in the bubble? (Mike Prada, FiveThirtyEight)

"Offense was already on pace for historic levels before the COVID-19 shutdown. Instead of reversing that trend ... the seeding games in the bubble dramatically accelerated it."

🏒 Why Nathan MacKinnon is the best hockey player in the world (Greg Wyshynski, ESPN)

"McDavid, 23, is one of the most incredible talents of my lifetime. He's only going to get better. MacKinnon, 24, is the total package now."
8. The Ocho: 📸 Photos 'round the world
Photo: Jose Manuel Alvarez/Quality Sport Images/Getty Images

LA CORUNA, Spain — Ariane Ochoa rides a wave during the 33rd edition of the ABANCA Pantín Classic. The beach's unique orientation provides optimal conditions, as the surf comes straight into shore, guaranteeing bigger waves.

Photo: Randy Brooks — CPL T20 via Getty Images

TAROUBA, Trinidad and Tobago — Shimron Hetmyer bats for the Guyana Amazon Warriors against the Trinbago Knight Riders in the eighth season of Caribbean Premier League. Due to the pandemic, the season will take place in Trinidad rather than spread among the six participating nations.

Photo: Albert Perez/Getty Images

BRISBANE, Australia — Jhaniele Fowler grabs a rebound for the West Coast Fever in a match against the Melbourne Vixens in the four-year-old Suncorp Super Netball league.

9. 🏀 NBA trivia

Photo: Elsa/Getty Images

The last time the Timberwolves had the No. 1 pick was in 2015, when they drafted Karl-Anthony Towns.

  • Question: Who was the No. 2 pick that year?
  • Hint: Guard.

Answer at the bottom.

10. ❤️ Why we love sports
Aerial view of St. Louis circa 1948. Photo: Frederic Lewis/Getty Images

Jerry R. (Naples, Fla.) writes:

"As a lifelong baseball fan, growing up in St. Louis in the 1940's was an ideal place to be.
"At the time, the city had two MLB teams — the Cardinals and the Browns — and I was a proud member of both the Cardinals Knot Hole Gang and the Browns Boy's Brigade.
"I was 12 years old as the summer of 1948 approached, and as I weighed options for spending my idle days, I decided to build an autograph collection of my baseball heroes.
"There was a steady stream of teams coming and going throughout the summer, and as an added bonus, St. Louis had been selected to host the '48 All-Star Game.
"All the visiting teams stayed at The Chase Hotel, so each time a new team arrived, I'd board a streetcar for the 20-minute ride to the hotel.
"Since my visits to the hotel were frequent, bell hops, elevator operators, and desk clerks soon adopted me as a mascot of sorts and would alert me to player arrivals.
Stan Musial and Ted Williams at the 1948 MLB All-Star Game. Photo: The Stanley Weston Archive/Getty Images
"As my autograph collection began to grow, I would relieve the boredom of my rides to and from the hotel by categorizing the players I encountered.
"Best Dressed: Joe DiMaggio (Yankees). Friendliest: Bruce Edwards (Dodgers). Unfriendliest: Buddy Rosar (Athletics). Best Penmanship: Frankie Gustine (Pirates). Most Emotional: Al Gonzalez (Cardinals).
"Gonzalez was one of the first Cubans to play in the U.S., where he was a longtime player, coach, and manager of the Cardinals.
"He seemed quite surprised when I asked for his autograph, as he had been away from St. Louis for some years, but when someone in his group said, 'See, Al, they still remember you,' he eagerly signed my book and I saw tears form in his eyes.
"The summer of '48 was the absolute best for this 12-year-old boy with many fond memories that are still fresh in the mind of a now 85-year-old man.
"P.S. A few years ago I finally relinquished my autograph book to an auction house where it sold for over $10,000!"

✍️ Submit your story: Do you have a fondest sports memory? Or a story about sports having a positive impact on your life? To share, simply reply to this email.

Kendall Baker

Enjoy the weekend,

Kendall "Can't wait for this" Baker

Trivia answer: His current teammate D'Angelo Russell