🎉 Good morning!
Today's word count: 1,388 words (5 minutes)
Photo: Rob Carr/Getty Images
The Washington Mystics overcame a second-half Connecticut Sun lead to win Game 5 of the WNBA Finals, 89-78, and claim the franchise's first championship.
Why it matters: This win delivers long-awaited titles to the WNBA's best player, Elena Delle Donne, as well as its all-time winningest coach, Mike Thibault.
What they're saying: Here's Delle Donne, who had fallen short in 2 previous WNBA Finals appearances, on what it feels like to finally break through:
"It feels phenomenal, my goodness, feels so good. Hard to put it into words. To win it with such a great group of people. We wanted to win it for the person next to us. We'll remember this season. I'm kind of sad [it's] about to be over. My goodness, we sure ended this on a high note."
The big picture: This is the second time in 16 months that a D.C. sports team has won its first title (Capitals in June 2018), and the second time in 2 days that a D.C. sports team played arguably its most memorable game (Nats on Wednesday).
Gerrit Cole and the Astros are headed to the ALCS. Photo: Cooper Neill/MLB Photos via Getty Images
Gerrit Cole made mincemeat out of the Rays last night, racking up 10 strikeouts in 7-plus innings as the Astros beat the Rays, 6-1, and advanced to the ALCS.
By the numbers: What Cole did to the Rays in Game 5 was very similar to what he did to them in Game 2. His numbers in the series:
Fun fact: The Astros haven't lost a game in Houston with Cole on the mound since May 22, which is almost 5 months ago. During that time, Cole is 18-0(!).
What's next: The Astros will face the Yankees in a rematch of the 2017 ALCS (Houston won 4-3). It's a series loaded with pitching and power and has the makings of an all-time classic.
The NBA flagship store in Beijing. Photo: Kevin Frayer/Getty Images
"After three days of fanning nationalistic outrage, the Chinese government abruptly moved on Thursday to tamp down public anger at the NBA as concerns spread in Beijing that the rhetoric was damaging China's interests and image around the world," the New York Times reports.
Meanwhile, in Japan: Following the Rockets' preseason win over the Raptors, a CNN reporter asked Russell Westbrook and James Harden the following question:
"The NBA has always been a league that prides itself on its players and its coaches being able to speak out openly about political and societal affairs. I just wonder after the events of this week and the fallout we've seen, whether you both feel differently about speaking out in that way in the future."
The response: There wasn't one. A Rockets employee interjected to prevent Westbrook and Harden from answering the question — something the NBA has since apologize for, saying the employee acted "inappropriately."
P.S. ... Oh yeah, the Lakers and Nets played a preseason game in Shanghai. Regular basketball things happened, but it was far from normal. Also, the NBA has cut off all media access to players for the remainder of the trip.
Tua Tagovailoa and No. 1 Alabama travel west to the great state of Texas to face their first ranked opponent of the season, No. 24 Texas A&M. Both teams are coming off bye weeks, giving them extra time to heal up and prepare.
Jalen Hurts will get his first taste of the Red River Rivalry when No. 6 Oklahoma travels to Dallas to take on No. 11 Texas.
Joe Burrow and No. 5 LSU have the toughest test of all with No. 7 Florida in town. The Gators are coming off a big win over Auburn and their defense gives up just 9.5 points per game (5th-best nationally).
"Almost two weeks after the Lakers and Clippers held their media days before the start of the NBA preseason, Los Angeles' third-most interesting basketball team held its media day on Thursday," writes Arash Markazi of the LA Times.
Why it matters: High school basketball teams don't normally hold NBA-style media days. Then again, the children of NBA legends don't normally team up in high school (Zaire transferred all the way from Florida) — so nothing about this is normal.
The big picture: Just like in the NBA, there are now "super teams" in high school. And, just like in the NBA, the best high school players have large social followings and function as their own brands/media companies.
Photo: Neil Schneider/New York Post Archives via Getty Images
27 years ago today, Deion Sanders played a game for the Atlanta Falcons, then flew to Pittsburgh to play a game for the Atlanta Braves. We'll never see anything like it again.
The full itinerary: The night before (Saturday), Sanders pinch-hit for the Braves in Game 4 of the NLCS against the Pirates. Once the game was over, he boarded a flight to Miami.
Last night, Tom Brady moved into 2nd place on the NFL's all-time passing yards list.
Answer at the bottom.
Photo: Geert Vanden Wijngaert/Getty Images
Teams from around the globe are competing in the 2019 World Solar Challenge — a roughly 2,000-mile solar-powered vehicle race between Darwin and Adelaide, Australia.
Tom Brady and Eli Manning after last night's game. Photo: Adam Glanzman/Getty Images
After 2 classic Super Bowls and some great regular-season matchups, Eli Manning shook Tom Brady's hand after a football game for what was almost certainly the final time last night (Pats won 35-14).
Go deeper: In an attempt to deconstruct what the last few years have been like for Eli, SI's Ben Baskin interviewed over 40 people who know him best. The end result is brilliant and one of the best things I've read in a while.
Seven-foot-three-inch Mavericks center Boban Marjanović is now working with Big Blanket Co, makers of — you guessed it — big blankets.
Kendall "Boban is a gift" Baker
Trivia answer: Drew Brees, Tom Brady, Peyton Manning, Brett Favre, Dan Marino