👋 Good morning! Our "Top 50 Sports Movies" countdown continues at the bottom of today's newsletter with Nos. 40–31.
Today's word count: 1,520 words (6 minutes).
Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios
News consumption has skyrocketed in the U.S. over the past few weeks due to the coronavirus, according to data from TV ratings, web traffic, app downloads and social media interactions, Axios' Sara Fischer writes.
By the numbers:
✍️ Write in: Without sports, what are you consuming? News? Movies? Reality TV? Podcasts? Books? Reply to this email letting me know and we can exchange recommendations. I'm so bored, you guys.
Photo: Andy Marlin/Getty Images
The sports and entertainment group that owns the 76ers and Devils has notified full-time employees making $50,000 or more that they will be subject to pay cuts starting as soon as next month due to the coronavirus fallout.
The harsh reality: As the sports world navigates the evolving COVID-19 landscape, more ownership groups will likely enact similar measures.
Courtesy: Grand Central Publishing
Speaking of Harris and Blitzer, this isn't the first time they've sparked controversy in Philadelphia and beyond. They were the ones who hired Sam Hinkie in 2012 to run the Sixers and have presided over "The Process" ever since.
An excerpt: In September 2013, 76ers veteran Jason Richardson and his manager, Paisley Benaza, met with Hinkie to discuss the team's path forward...
Hinkie came out from behind his desk, set up three chairs in a circle, and laid out his plan. "He was very candid," Benaza said. "It was clear that this was tanking." But, Hinkie clarified, he wasn't solely interested in constructing a team to lose games.
Yeah, the Sixers would be running a young, inexperienced team onto the court. But, he said, he also planned on investing in player development in a way the Sixers never had. "He said he wanted to give the players everything," Benaza recalled.
The team was going to build a new training facility [and] start utilizing technology to better track players' on-court performances. Not only would analytics be employed, but the numbers and what they meant would also be explained to the players.
As Richardson was walking out, Hinkie asked if he had any good local restaurant recommendations. "I need one that will be open late and let me use the back door," Hinkie said. "Everyone in the city is going to hate me." Richardson and Benaza laughed. "But it will all be worth it," Hinkie said.
We simulated the 2020 NCAA men's basketball tournament using ESPN's Joe Lunardi's final projected bracket and a simulation engine. Hope you enjoyed!
One year after Baylor's women's basketball program won its third national title, the men's team won its first — outlasting Maryland to put an exclamation point on a dream season.
Final score: Baylor 79, Maryland 74
A virtual Sweet Sixteen to remember (full bracket)...
Players celebrate after a preseason NPB game played behind closed doors last month. Photo: Jiji Press/AFP via Getty Images
With sports shut down almost universally (Australia finally suspended Aussie rules football, rugby and soccer), I was thrilled to discover footage of preseason baseball games that are actually happening right now, writes Axios' Jeff Tracy.
Driving the news: The two best baseball leagues outside MLB — Japan's NPB and South Korea's KBO — are still soldiering on, with numerous restrictions and safety measures in place, of course.
What is the NPB? Nippon Professional Baseball, aka the second most competitive league in the world.
What is the KBO? The Korea Baseball Organization, which trails only MLB and NPB on the global baseball stage.
Go deeper: American players in Japan, South Korea experience pandemic through another lens (The Athletic)
Here are some photos from yesteryear, all taken in Tokyo:
1934: Babe Ruth poses with Japanese youngsters during the American League All-Star barnstorming tour of Japan. Ruth hit 13 homers on the trip — in just 18 games.
1950: Joe DiMaggio, acting as a goodwill ambassador for the sport, demonstrates proper batting form to a group of young players at Korakua Stadium.
1956: Jackie Robinson poses with four-year-old boy during the Brooklyn Dodgers' Japan Tour.
64 years ago today, Bill Russell (26 pts, 27 reb) and the San Francisco Dons beat Iowa, 83-71, to win their second straight national title — and 55th straight game.
The big picture: Russell is widely regarded as the greatest champion in sports history, but in case you've forgotten how incredible he was, let's remind you.
College: Back then, freshmen didn't play on their varsity squads, so Russell had just three years to make his mark, which he most certainly did.
NBA: Yes, the league was different in those days and the competition less stifling, but Russell's professional body of work has no equal.
🎥 Go deeper: Footage from the 1956 title game (YouTube)
Stephen Gostkowski during a 2016 game at Gillette Stadium. Photo: Rich Graessle/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images
Longtime Patriots kicker Stephen Gostkowski, who was released yesterday after 14 seasons with the team, has appeared in 28 playoff games (fourth-most ever).
Answer at the bottom.
This week, our resident film buff Jeff Tracy will be unveiling his Top 50 sports movies, continuing today with Nos. 40–31. (ICYMI: 50-41)
40. Draft Day (2014) Costner has to be the sports movie GOAT, right? He's in four of my top 40, and that's not even half of his career total. I know this is a pretty silly entry, but the excitement of a GM wheeling and dealing gets me every time.
39. Hoosiers (1986) I know you think this should be much higher. I promise not to tell you you're wrong if you promise not to say the same to me about it being this low.
38. Rudy (1993) See above.
37. Any Given Sunday (1999) This came out the same year as Varsity Blues — and highlights the same world of overly-macho, pre-concussion-protocol football — but it's a classic nonetheless. Willie Beamen was ahead of his time.
36. Chariots of Fire (1981) Aside from "Rocky," this has probably the most iconic theme song of any sports movie. That has to count for something. (It's also used phenomenally well in Old School.)
35. Talladega Nights: The Ballad of Ricky Bobby (2006) Will Ferrell's various sports movie experiments didn't always end so well (see: "Semi-Pro"), but when he and John C. Reilly are paired together, sparks fly.
34. The Replacements (2000): Pain heals, chicks dig scars, glory lasts forever.
33. Hardball (2001) Keanu Reeves went from "The Matrix" (1999) to "The Replacements" (2000) to "Hardball" (2001), which is right up there with MJ's three-peats if you ask me. Love you, G-Baby.
32. Dodgeball: A True Underdog Story (2004) Our first introduction to The Ocho! As good as the whole movie is, Jason Bateman's unhinged broadcaster, Pepper Brooks, is undoubtedly the MVP.
31. Slap Shot (1977) The only Hanson brothers that matter.
Coming tomorrow: 30–21
Kendall "Play the Hoosiers theme song at my funeral" Baker
Trivia answer: QB Tom Brady (41 playoff games), K Adam Vinatieri (32), WR Jerry Rice (29)