Jun 7, 2019

Axios Sports

By Kendall Baker
Kendall Baker

🎉 Happy Friday! Today's word count: 1,369 words (~5 mins).

  • French Open: Federer and Nadal are playing right now (live updates), and the women's final is set: Marketa Vondrousova (unseeded) vs. Ashleigh Barty (beat five Americans to get here, including Amanda Anisimova a few hours ago).
  • #FriedBomb: The biggest story in sports yesterday — that the fan who pushed Kyle Lowry was Warriors minority owner Mark Stevens — was broken by my colleague, Ina Fried. She covers tech and she's scooping Woj! Sign up for her newsletter.

P.S. ... Congrats to Texas students Adam Karpel (veteran reader) and Alex Kagan (new reader) for winning our iPad Pro giveaway. 'Hook em.

1 big thing: ⚽️ Women's World Cup guide

Photo: Johannes Simon/FIFA via Getty Images

The 2019 FIFA Women's World Cup kicks off today at 12pm ET, with host France taking on South Korea. The U.S. doesn't play until Tuesday, so we'll do our in-depth team preview next week. For now, a brief overview of the tournament:

Watch details:

  • TV: Fox, FS1
  • Streaming: Fubo TV, Hulu Live TV, Playstation Vue (see all)
  • Schedule: Most games will kick off at either 9am ET, 12pm ET and 3pm ET. Full schedule.

Key storylines:

  • The world is watching: This year's World Cup seems poised for a breakout moment, as the sport has gained greater acceptance globally. For the first time, each match will stand on its own, as doubleheaders — designed to limit costs and boost attendance in past years — have been phased out.
  • Can USA repeat? The USWNT is the No. 1 team in the world and the defending champs, but the competition is stiffer than ever. In fact, FiveThirtyEight says France is the favorite.
  • A rebellious time: The world's best player, Norway's Ada Hegerberg, is boycotting the tournament over frustrations with how the Norwegian soccer federation treats its women's players. Meanwhile, the Americans are suing their employer, claiming gender discrimination, and the Australians have called for increased pay.
  • Can France make history? Women's soccer has come a long way in France, and this year's squad has a legit chance to make history, as no country has ever held both the men's and women's World Cup titles simultaneously.

Groups (world ranking):

  • Group A: France (4), Norway (12), South Korea (14), Nigeria (38)
  • Group B: Germany (2), Spain (13), China (16), South Africa (49)
  • Group C: Australia (6), Brazil (10), Italy (15), Jamaica (53)
  • Group D: England (3), Japan (7), Scotland (20), Argentina (37)
  • Group E: Canada (5), Netherlands (8), New Zealand (19), Cameroon (46)
  • Group F: USA (1), Sweden (9), Thailand (34), Chile (39)

Top 5 players (via SB Nation):

  1. Sam Kerr, Australia
  2. Wendie Renard, France
  3. Tobin Heath, USA
  4. Lieke Martens, Netherlands
  5. Dzsenifer Marozsan, Germany

Go deeper:

2. 🏒 Blues benefit from no-call to take 3-2 lead

Midway through the third period of Game 5, Blues center Tyler Bozak tripped Bruins center Noel Acciari (above) ... but no penalty was called. Seconds later, David Perron scored the decisive goal in a 2-1 victory (highlights).

What they're saying:

"The reaction was 'You missed an F'ing call,' that was what was being said on the bench, for obvious reasons. ... Our guy's gone. The spotter took him out of the game for a possible concussion. I mean, it's blatant. It had a big effect on the game."
— Bruins coach Bruce Cassidy (full postgame rant)

P.S. ... I'm not saying it shouldn't have still been a penalty, but does anyone else notice how much Acciari exaggerates the fall? He appears to spring himself off his right foot as if he's doing a backflip into a pool.

3. 🏀 A spicy offseason just got spicier

Photo: Ethan Miller/Getty Images

The Nets are trading guard Allen Crabbe and his $18.5 million contract to the Hawks, clearing salary-cap space to pursue two max free agents this summer, per ESPN.

Full trade:

  • Nets send: Crabbe, 2019 first-round pick (No. 17), 2020 first-pick (lottery-protected)
  • Hawks send: Taurean Prince, 2021 second-round pick

Why it matters: Celtics guard Kyrie Irving, who is expected to become a free agent, has given "every indication" to the Nets that he intends to sign with them.

  • In an ideal world, the Nets would pair him with his good friend Kevin Durant, but several other options remain, including resigning D'Angelo Russell or trading for Anthony Davis.

The big picture:

  • Flip the script: "After Celtics executive Danny Ainge fleeced Brooklyn six years ago when the Nets acquired Kevin Garnett and Paul Pierce, he used those assets to build around Irving. In one month, the Nets could flip the script and build around Irving." (The Athletic)
  • Clippers East: "The Nets have become Clippers East: an inviting, subcultural answer to an antiquated legacy brand in the Knicks (or the Lakers), hoping to flaunt managerial competence as a winning formula over a nebulous sense of prestige." (The Ringer)

The bottom line: The Nets have two max slots, the Knicks have two max slots, the Clippers have a clear path to two max slots and the Lakers have one max slot plus assets to make a major trade. Buckle up.

4. 🏈 Eagles sign Wentz to $128 million extension

Photo: Mitchell Leff/Getty Image

The Philadelphia Eagles have signed franchise QB Carson Wentz to a four-year, $128 million extension, the team announced yesterday.

  • By the numbers: Wentz's $107.9 million in guaranteed money is the largest guarantee ever given to an NFL player, surpassing Russell Wilson ($107 million), Matt Ryan ($100 million) and Aaron Rodgers ($98.2 million).
  • The big picture: The Eagles are building a strong foundation, with multiple veterans signed for at least three more seasons: QB Carson Wentz, TE Zach Ertz, DT Fletcher Cox, C Jason Kelce, OT Lane Johnson, DE Brandon Graham, WR Alshon Jeffery, DT Malik Jackson, WR DeSean Jackson, LB Nigel Bradham, G Isaac Seumalo.

Go deeper: The Eagles are betting Carson Wentz can earn his own statue

5. 💰 Meet the NBA's "money whisperer"

Joe McLean is the premier wealth manager of the NBA's richest stars. He has clients in the NFL and MLB, too, but the "gobs are the biggest in the NBA," writes NYT's Devin Gordon.

What he does: As Managing Partner at Intersect Capital, McLean's job is not to negotiate his clients' contracts (that's the job of an agent), but rather, to "grow every dollar that comes in and track every dollar that goes out."

  • "He's part investor, part butler, a CFO and a golf buddy, a sports therapist and, when necessary, the disapproving dad," writes Gordon.
  • To retain his services, athletes must agree to put aside at least 60% of every dollar they earn. If they can't commit to spending their money wisely and playing the long game, they're gone.

How it works: Intersect manages contracts worth $1.7 billion dollars for around 50 athletes, yet only employees 11 people. The idea is to provide them with intimate, white-glove treatment.

  • "Say I need golf clubs — like, custom golf clubs," said Magic star Aaron Gordon. "[Joe] knows exactly where to go ... He's just a do-it-all guy."
6. ⚾️ The draft heist of all draft heists
Courtesy: Millville (N.J.) High School Athletic Department

This weekend marks the 10-year anniversary of the Angels selecting Mike Trout, a 17-year-old out of Millville High School in New Jersey, with the 25th pick in the 2009 MLB draft.

  • In other words, 21 teams passed on maybe the greatest player to ever live — and the Nationals and Diamondbacks both passed on him twice.

How it happened: To understand how so many teams failed to realize that Mike Trout was, in fact, Mike Trout, ESPN's Keith Law went to the best possible source: the scouts who saw him that spring.

  • "The Northeast Stigma": Apparently, teams were scared to gamble on Trout because of Billy Rowell, a fellow New Jersey high schooler who flopped as a pro after the Orioles took him ninth overall in 2006. All because they came from the same state?!
  • The true believer: Angels scout Mike Silvestri was one of the few scouts who saw Trout's true potential, calling him "Mickey Mantle but not a switch-hitter, Rickey Henderson but right-handed." He couldn't have been higher on the kid and helped convince the Angels to pick him.

Go deeper: Full 2009 draft

7. 🏀 NBA trivia

In their seven-year history, the Brooklyn Nets have only drafted one player with a Brooklyn Nets first-round pick.

  • Question: Who was that player?
  • Hint: He played on a Western Conference playoff team this season.

Answer at the bottom.

8. The Ocho: 🇵🇰 "The Night Climbers of Islamabad"

Photo: Emeric Fohlen/NurPhoto via Getty Images

"During Ramadan, many people sleep through the daytime — the hours in which they are required to fast — and wake up a few hours before sundown, when they are free to break their fast," Deadspin's Salmaan Farooqui writes:

  • "People can't spend all night eating, though, and that leaves them with plenty of time to kill during the hours they normally spend slumbering. Lots of people sit around in roadside cafes ... groups of boys and young men play cricket."

Others choose to go climbing...

Kendall Baker

Have the best weekend,

Kendall "New Avicii banger" Baker

Trivia answer: Mason Plumlee (No. 22 pick in 2013 draft)