January 18, 2023

👋 Good morning! It's me again.

Today's word count: 1,636 words (6 minutes).

Let's sports...

1 big thing: 🏈 Changing of the guard

Bracket: Axios Visuals
Bracket: Axios Visuals

The NFL Divisional Round represents a changing of the guard at the quarterback position. The next generation has arrived.

State of play: Retirement rumors are swirling around Tom Brady and Aaron Rodgers, who are both absent from the Divisional Round for the first time since 2009. Meanwhile, the eight remaining starting QBs are all under the age of 30.

  • Trevor Lawrence, 23
  • Brock Purdy, 23
  • Jalen Hurts, 24
  • Daniel Jones, 25
  • Joe Burrow, 26
  • Josh Allen, 26
  • Patrick Mahomes, 27
  • Dak Prescott, 29

Field notes:

  • Beasts of the East: The NFC East (Eagles, Cowboys, Giants) is the first division with three teams in the Divisional Round since the five-team NFC Central, pre-realignment, in 1997 (Packers, Vikings, Bucs).
  • Familiar foes: Sunday will mark the ninth playoff meeting between the Cowboys and 49ers, tied for the most frequent NFL postseason matchup (Packers-49ers and Rams-Cowboys).
  • Offensive juggernauts: Seven of the eight remaining teams ranked in the top 10 in scoring this season: Chiefs (1st), Bills (2nd), Eagles (3rd), Cowboys (4th), 49ers (6th), Bengals (7th), Jaguars (10th).
  • Favorites, again: The Chiefs are favored for the 14th straight playoff game, the longest streak in the Super Bowl era. (But beware: Jaguars head coach Doug Pederson is 5-1 as a playoff underdog).
  • No. 7 still winless: Three years ago, the NFL expanded the playoffs to 14 teams, adding No. 7 seeds in each conference. So far, they've gone 0-6 while getting outscored by 12.2 points per game.

Go deeper: The AFC QB arms race (The Ringer)

2. 🇫🇷 Daily update: Kendall in Paris

Basketball court
Pigalle Duperré Court. Photo: Courtesy of Nike

I'm in Paris this week for Thursday's Bulls-Pistons game. Follow along in Axios Sports as I share my day-to-day experience.

On Tuesday, I visited the famous Pigalle Duperré Court, built in a gap between two buildings on a quiet street in Pigalle, Paris' former red-light district.

  • The Instagram hotspot, designed as part of a collaboration between Nike and fashion brand Pigalle, has had five different paint jobs since its 2009 birth.
  • It was cold and rainy on Tuesday, so sadly there was no pickup game. But I did meet a father and son — the latter practicing his free throws while his dad rebounded for him (you love to see it!).
  • I hoisted one up on my way out... clank. I blame the rain. Then I popped over to the Terrass Hotel rooftop for a quick drink and views of the Eiffel Tower, courtesy of Hotels.com.

The big picture: Paris has a vibrant basketball street culture, in part because of the prevalence of outdoor courts (at least by European standards). Some are being freshened up ahead of the 2024 Olympics.

Fun fact … Not too far from Pigalle is a YMCA (called UCJG in France) that claims the oldest basketball court in the world, dating back to 1893.

  • The same YMCA also featured the first American-style bowling alley and indoor swimming pool in France.
  • I went to see if I could peek inside, but it's undergoing renovations to be ready for Paris 2024. Here's some footage from a few years ago.

❤️ ICYMI ... Bulls player Derrick Jones Jr. proposed to his longtime girlfriend, Sherry, in Paris on Tuesday. The City of Love!

3. 🎾 Aussie Open: Down goes Nadal

Photo: Cameron Spencer/Getty Images

Rafael Nadal lost to 65th-ranked American Mackenzie McDonald, 6-4, 6-4, 7-5, on Wednesday in the second round of the Australian Open.

Why it matters: This marks Nadal's earliest exit at a Grand Slam since losing in the first round in Melbourne in 2016 to No. 45 Fernando Verdasco.

  • Nadal, the defending champion and No. 1 seed, was vying for a record-extending 23rd major title.
  • He injured his left hip during the second set and was clearly hurting the rest of the way.

What he's saying: "It's a tough moment. It's a tough day," said the 36-year-old. "I can't say that I am not destroyed mentally at this moment, because I would be lying." 😢

More from Melbourne:

  • Weather delays: Extreme heat, followed by torrential rain, caused significant delays on Day 2 and resulted in 19 matches being postponed.
  • Murray magic: Andy Murray, sporting a metal hip, upset No. 13 Matteo Berrettini in a five-set thriller to advance to the second round.
  • Flag ban: Organizers banned Russian and Belarusian flags after a Russian flag hanging courtside during a match between a Russian and Ukrainian caused a stir.

4. ⚡️ Lightning round

Illustration: Gabriella Turrisi/Axios

📺 Streaming debut: The USWNT beat New Zealand, 4-0, on Tuesday in the first live sports broadcast on HBO Max in the U.S., kicking off an eight-year deal between Warner Bros. Discovery and U.S. Soccer.

🏳️‍🌈 Pride Night boycott: Flyers defenseman Ivan Provorov skipped the pregame skate on Tuesday because he refused to wear the team's LGBTQ+ Pride Night warmup jersey, citing his religious beliefs.

🏀 Streak snapped: Baylor fell out of the women's AP poll for the first time since 2004, ending a 365-week streak. Only Tennessee (565 weeks) and UConn (556, still active) have had longer streaks.

🏀 510 triples: Detroit Mercy fifth-year senior Antoine Davis hit his 510th three-pointer over the weekend, passing Wofford's Fletcher Magee for the most in D-I history.

5. 🏀 Moore hangs 'em up, officially

Photo: Hannah Foslien/Getty Images

Maya Moore, who left professional basketball in 2019 to focus on social justice issues, officially retired on Monday, Axios' Jeff Tracy writes.

Why it matters: Despite a relatively short career, Moore, 33, compiled a résumé so impressive that she'll still go down as one of the greatest players ever. In fact, ESPN ranked her No. 4 less than two years ago.

By the numbers: Moore's accomplishments between college and the WNBA are stunning, and that's to say nothing of her two Olympic golds and two EuroLeague titles.

  • At UConn (2007-11), she won two NCAA championships, was a two-time POY and is one of two players to be named to the AP All-America first team all four years (Courtney Paris, Oklahoma). She went 150-4 and is the Huskies' all-time leading scorer.
  • With the Minnesota Lynx (2011-18), she won a record-tying four titles, won ROY and MVP, and was a five-time All-WNBA first-teamer and three-time All-Star Game MVP. She's also the only player in the top 25 in points scored (No. 24) with fewer than 300 games played.

Fun fact: Moore is one of just four players to win the Gatorade POY (high school), Naismith POY (NCAA) and WNBA MVP, joined by Candace Parker, Breanna Stewart and Tina Charles.

The backdrop: Moore stepped away from basketball four years ago and helped overturn the conviction of Jonathan Irons, a family friend who she believed had been wrongfully imprisoned since 1998.

  • She helped secure Irons' release in 2020, then they got married. Last year, they had their first child together.
  • Moore and Irons co-wrote a book about their story, "Love & Justice," which hit shelves on Tuesday.

What they're saying: "She decided that winning championships off the court was more fulfilling than the championships she won on the court," said UConn coach Geno Auriemma. "I'm really proud of her."

Go deeper: The 10 greatest moments of Moore's career (ESPN)

6. 🏀 LeBron vs. fathers and sons

Photo: Adam Pantozzi/NBAE via Getty Images

LeBron James hopes to one day play alongside his sons in the NBA. For now, he'll have to settle for playing against the sons of former opponents, Jeff writes.

Driving the news: In Monday's win over the Rockets, LeBron faced Jabari Smith Jr. and Kenyon Martin Jr. with both of their fathers in attendance.

Wild stat: The Smiths and Martins are two of the eight father-son duos who've faced off against LeBron in his 20-year career.

  • The Smiths: Jabari Sr. (first faced LeBron in 2004) and Jabari Jr. (most recently faced LeBron on Monday)
  • The Martins: Kenyon (2004) and Kenyon Jr. (Monday)
  • The Brunsons: Rick (2003) and Jalen (2022)
  • The Griffins: Adrian (2004) and AJ (2023)
  • The Paytons: Gary (2004) and Gary II (2022)
  • The Robinsons: Glenn Jr. (2003) and Glenn III (2020)
  • The Trents: Gary (2003) and Gary Jr. (2022)
  • The Walkers: Samaki (2004) and Jabari (2022)

The big picture: James scored a season-high 48 points on Monday to pull within 316 points of the all-time scoring record. He's averaging 37-10-9 in seven games since turning 38. Long live the king.

🎥 Watch: Jabari makes LeBron feel old (Twitter)

7. 📸 Pic du jour: Mr. Curry goes to Washington

Photo: Al Drago/Bloomberg via Getty Images

Steph Curry and Steve Kerr spoke in the White House briefing room during Tuesday's visit to celebrate the Warriors' 2022 NBA championship.

The backdrop: The Warriors have won four NBA titles since 2015, but this was the team's first White House visit since 2016. They didn't make the trip either time they won during former President Trump's time in office.

8. 📺 Watchlist: Red-hot Red Devils

Table: Axios Visuals
Table: Axios Visuals

Manchester United visit Crystal Palace today (3pm ET, Peacock), seeking their 10th straight win across all competitions.

  • The Red Devils are 4-0 in league play— and 7-0 overall — since parting ways with Cristiano Ronaldo in November.
  • That includes Saturday's win over Manchester City, their first Manchester Derby victory in nearly two years.

More to watch:

9. 🇫🇷 France trivia

Photo: Aurelien Meunier/Getty Images

Paris is by far the most-populated city in France (~2.1 million). Which city is second?

  • Lyon
  • Marseille
  • Bordeaux
  • Nice

Answer at the bottom.

10. 🏈 1 Brady thing: Breaking the cycle

Photo: Kevin Sabitus/Getty Images

Tom Brady's season ended Monday, marking the first time in a decade that he won't win the Super Bowl on an every-other-year cycle, Jeff writes.

  • 2013-14: Did not win SB
  • 2014-15: Won SB (Patriots 28, Seahawks 24)
  • 2015-16: Did not win SB
  • 2016-17: Won SB (Patriots 34, Falcons 28)
  • 2017-18: Did not win SB
  • 2018-19: Won SB (Patriots 13, Rams 3)
  • 2019-20: Did not win SB
  • 2020-21: Won SB (Bucs 31, Chiefs 9)
  • 2021-22: Did not win SB
  • 2022-23: Did not win SB

Talk tomorrow,

Kendall "Let's go, Andy Murray!" Baker

Trivia answer: Marseille (~800,000 population)

🙏 Have a great day! Follow us for more (@kendallbaker and @jeffreytracy). Friends can sign up here. Thanks to Carolyn DiPaolo for copy edits.