🚀 Good morning! James Harden scored 61 points at the Garden last night. He is now averaging 52.2 points over his last 5 games and 36.3 for the season. We've never seen anything quite like this.
Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios
Over the past 4 years, a series of leaks published on a website called Football Leaks have exposed professional soccer's darkest and most incriminating secrets.
Why it matters: Those secrets have resulted in criminal investigations and, in some cases, even prosecutions.
Driving the news: Last week, the man behind the leaks, a 30-year-old Portuguese citizen named Rui Pinto, was arrested in Budapest, Hungary.
The big picture: Pinto's case "represents a high-profile test of a Hungarian law passed in 2014 that affords special protection to whistleblowers," writes the NYT's Tariq Panja.
The bottom line: When is a hacker a whistleblower? That's the question at the center of this case, and Pinto's fate will hinge on how one Hungarian judge answers it.
👀 Look: Little is known about Pinto, but we do have footage of him outside the Budapest courtroom.
Alibaba chairman Jack Ma. Photo: VCB/Getty Images
Chinese tech giant Alibaba is using its unparalleled reach across e-commerce, logistics, entertainment and travel to change the way its users consume, interact with and participate in sports, Mike Sykes writes.
Driving the news: The company’s sports arm, Alisports, is leveraging Alibaba's expansive ecosystem and gigantic user base (over 600 million active users) to move into the world of organized sports, Bloomberg recently reported.
The big picture: Once this strategy is replicated across other sports, Alibaba will slowly begin to involve itself in nearly every aspect of the Chinese sports market: media, advertising, retail, events, fitness and health.
The bigger picture: This will provide a blueprint for how other platforms like Amazon and Twitter should — and shouldn't — go about using big data to penetrate the sports market.
P.S. Speaking of Alibaba, the company's co-founder and executive vice chairman Joseph Tsai — who already owns 49% of the Brooklyn Nets — officially purchased the WNBA's New York Liberty yesterday.
In search of playing time and chasing NFL dreams, college football quarterbacks are transferring at a dizzying rate. New rules make that process even easier, so the trend is sure to continue.
By the numbers: To determine just how common transferring has become, I took a look at how many of the top QB recruits over the last 5 years have actually stayed put. The results are insane.
The big picture: To find 2 consecutive recruiting classes where more than half of the 4- and 5-star QBs stayed put, you have to go all the way back to 2008 (10% transferred) and 2009 (37%).
Photo: William West/AFP/Getty Images
Above: No. 2 seed Rafael Nadal of Spain celebrates his 6-2, 6-4, 6-0 semi-final victory over No. 14 seed Stefano Tsitsipas of Greece. Nadal will play the winner of Novak Djokovic-Lucas Pouille in the final.
Below: No. 4 seed Naomi Osaka of Japan and No. 8 seed Petra Kvitová of the Czech Republic will face off in Saturday's final. Go deeper.
Dick Enberg interviews Warren Beatty in a scene from the 1978 film "Heaven Can Wait." Photo: Paramount/Getty Images
"I don't want any trouble from admirers of Jack Youngblood, Merlin Olsen, Deacon Jones, Roman Gabriel or Norm Van Brocklin, but for a vagabond football franchise with a scattered history, it's possible the most iconic Los Angeles Ram (who actually played in Los Angeles) remains a movie character," writes the WSJ's Jason Gay.
Continue reading (subscription) and then stream "Heaven Can Wait" on HBO
Screenshot: "Farming Simulator 2019"/GIANTS Software
Swiss game studio GIANTS Software announced yesterday that it is launching a new esports league for its long-running and shockingly popular series "Farming Simulator."
The bottom line: Competitive virtual farming is now a thing that exists thanks to the Farming Simulator League, which will see players compete in tournaments across Europe for nearly $300k in prize money.
"Agriculture, like esports, is about passion, precision and attention to detail. Optimal conditions for an exciting competition."— GIANTS Software CEO Christian Ammann in a press release
In 2005, an American university produced the No. 1 overall draft pick in 2 major sports leagues (MLB, NBA, NFL, NHL).
Answer at the bottom.
World No. 2 Ali Farag during his semi-final match yesterday. Photo: Courtey of U.S. Squash
NEW YORK — Hey Axios Sports readers, it's your resident squash expert B.G. Lemmon reporting live from the J.P. Morgan Tournament of Champions.
What's happening: The men's and women's semi-finals took place yesterday, with the No. 1 and No. 2 seeds in both brackets emerging victorious (remember, it's best 3 out of 5 games, games are to 11 and you must win each game by 2 points).
Meet the 4 finalists (all of whom are from Egypt):
Jackie Robinson alongside fellow nominees Edd Roush (left), Bob Feller (middle right), and Bill McKechnie. Photo: Cliff Welch/Icon Sportswire/Getty Images
57 years ago today, Jackie Robinson became the first African-American baseball player elected to the Baseball Hall of Fame, receiving 77.5% of the vote. Enjoy.
Kendall "Virtual weed whacking enthusiast" Baker
Trivia Answer: Utah: Alex Smith (NFL), Andrew Bogut (NBA) // Bonus: Washington: Markelle Fultz (NBA), Kelsey Plum (WNBA)