👋 Happy Thursday! Let's sports.
Today's word count: 1,524 words (<6 minutes)
Photo: Brian Rothmuller/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images
For the second time in eight games, Kawhi Leonard missed the front end of a Clippers back-to-back, nixing what was supposed to be a battle between the reigning MVP (Giannis Antetokounmpo) and the reigning NBA Finals MVP (Leonard).
The backdrop: This is part of Leonard's "load management" plan, which he also used with the Raptors last year. He missed 22 games during the regular season and crediting that rest with helping him play 39 minutes a night in the playoffs en route to a championship.
Why it matters: This is the second straight week that Leonard sat out of ESPN's Wednesday night showcase, elevating the load management debate to the national stage and reflecting poorly on the league's product.
What they're saying: "I believe the league has a long-term problem," said ESPN's Doris Burke. "Kawhi not playing, to me, is ridiculous at this point."
The bottom line: Load management flat-out stinks for fans, but unfortunately, it isn't a problem with a clear fix because the overarching issue is the relative unimportance of the regular season.
Photo: Sanjeev Verma/Hindustan Times via Getty Images
It's been a busy three years since Michael Phelps swam his last race at the Rio Olympics. He and his wife, Nicole, have welcomed three baby boys and he has his own swim brand, all while dedicating time to important issues like mental health and water conservation.
I caught up with Michael on the phone. Some highlights from my conversation with the most decorated Olympian ever...
On mental health:
On saving water:
On the running shoe debate (Running is currently embroiled in a debate over high-tech sneakers. It's reminiscent of swimming's polyurethane suits, which were banned in 2010 after hundreds of world records fell in a matter of months.)
Coming up (full schedule):
UNC 76, NOTRE DAME 65 — Cole Anthony scored 34 points (most ever by a UNC freshman in a debut) and added 11 rebounds and five assists, as the No. 9 Tar Heels cruised past the Fighting Irish.
VIRGINIA 48, SYRACUSE 34 — Kihei Clark (10 pts, 11 reb, 7 ast) and Mamadi Diakite (12 pts), the only two returning starters from last year's team, helped the defending champs suffocate Syracuse in the Carrier Dome.
The Champions League's fourth matchday came to a close yesterday, with teams from Groups A, B, C and D going head-to-head across Europe.
What's next: Each team will play two more games, with the top two teams from each group advancing to the knockout round, while the third-place team enters the UEFA Europa League. Next matchday: Nov. 26–27.
30 of the 62 FBS coaches are in favor of expanding the College Football Playoff field, according to an ESPN survey. One of them is Jim Harbaugh, who has clearly put some thought into this.
Colorado became the 19th U.S. state to legalize some form of sports betting yesterday in a surprisingly close vote (51%–49%).
31 of 36 podium winners (aka. first, second or third place) at this year's World Marathon Majors were wearing a version of the same shoe — the controversial Nike Vaporfly.
Photo: Bill Nation/Sygma via Getty Images
28 years ago today, Magic Johnson shocked the sports world when he announced that he was retiring from basketball after testing positive for HIV.
Why it mattered: Johnson's announcement gave a new face to the disease and raised awareness, while his positive outlook let people know that HIV wasn't the death sentence many believed it to be at the time.
"Life is going to go on for me, and I'm going to be a happy man. When your back is against the wall, you have to come out swinging. I'm going to go on, going to be there, going to have fun."
What came next: Despite his retirement, Johnson was voted as a starter for the 1992 NBA All-Star Game, where he scored 25 points to earn MVP honors. He also competed in the 1992 Summer Olympics as a member of the "Dream Team."
Of the 11 different head coaches who have led teams to the College Football Playoff, six had never been head coaches when they were hired to lead those programs.
Answer at the bottom.
"At 17, Mary Cain was already a record-breaking phenom: the fastest girl in a generation, and the youngest American track and field athlete to make a World Championships team."
Kendall "James Wiseman looks enormous" Baker
Trivia answer: Dabo Swinney, Jimbo Fisher, Lincoln Riley, Bob Stoops, Kirby Smart, Mark Helfrich