The GIST's Bits & Bites - Toronto Six and Toronto Raptors
- The Toronto Six had a tough start to the season, losing Saturday’s game 3–0 to the 2018 Isobel Cup–winning Metropolitan Riveters and yesterday’s game 6–5, in a shootout to the reigning champs, the Minnesota Whitecaps. Game three is tomorrow at 8:30 p.m. ET, against the Boston Pride.
🏀NBA: The Toronto Raptors we know and love are clawing their way back to us. After a rocky (read: awful) start to the season, the Raps have won five of their last six games, including yesterday’s 107–102 game against the Indiana Pacers, and guys from the 2019 championship-winning roster, like Fred VanVleet, OG Anunoby and Norm Powell, are putting up big numbers.
- That said, the Raps are still boasting a 7-9 record and fan favorites Pascal Siakam and Kyle Lowry are out with injuries. We’re cautiously optimistic...for now.
⚽️Football (the European kind): The ’s Manchester City may have forgotten which sport they’re playing. Last weekend’s 7–0 win over Aston Villa and yesterday’s 7–1 win over Brighton & Hove Albion look more like football scores of the NFL variety.
🏀Kobe and Gigi Bryant: In Memoriam
The GIST: Tomorrow is the one-year anniversary of the helicopter crash that killed basketball legend Kobe Bryant, his daughter Gianna (Gigi) Bryant and seven others.
Kobe: Bryant was one of the best basketball players ever. He was a #GirlDad. He was an Academy Award winner. He was an advocate for women’s sports and a fan and mentor to the likes of NY Liberty star Sabrina Ionescu (pronounced YO-NESS-COO) and more. He was also in 2003.
- Kobe was a complicated figure. And people may have different reactions when they think of Kobe. But that’s okay.
Gianna: We didn’t just lose Kobe. We also lost the future of the WNBA, in his daughter Gigi and her teammates Alyssa Altobelli and Payton Chester. Just young teenagers, the three Mamba Academy stars were on the path to basketball greatness. So while we reflect on the lives lost on January 26th, 2020, we also mourn what could have been.
🏀Houston Rockets Trade Harden to Brooklyn Nets
The Harden saga: James Harden’s antics finally paid off. After he was asked to not attend yesterday morning’s practice, news broke around 4 p.m. ET that the Houston Rockets wild child got his wish and was traded to the Brooklyn Nets.
- No one’s going to miss him much in Houston. Ex-teammate John Wall admitted earlier in the day that things in the locker room had “been a little rocky,” while DeMarcus Cousins called out Harden’s “disrespect” and said he “doesn’t care” if Harden leaves.
The Nets saga: It’s fine if Harden forgets to bring the drama to Brooklyn, because the Nets already have plenty. Exhibit A: Kyrie Irving. While away for personal reasons last week, the flat-earther allegedly attended a birthday party (people are still having birthday parties?!) and was recorded dancing without a mask.
- While the NBA investigates, All-Star Kevin Durant will be there to welcome Harden to the team, though we’re not sure how coach Steve Nash plans to deal with all three giant egos. Good luck!
- Keep an eye out for some spicy action on Saturday night in what could be Harden’s first game, when the Nets play the Orlando Magic at 6 p.m. ET.
The COVID-19 saga: In other news, the NBA, like the rest of the world, has a serious COVID-19 problem. The NBA was forced to postpone three games last night, bringing their total to nine rescheduled games this season.
Bits & Bites - Canada
🏀NBA: As the youngest of the infamous Ball brothers, Charlotte Hornets’ LaMelo Ball has spent his life trying to keep up with the older guys. All that practice paid off on Saturday night when he became the youngest NBA player to ever score a triple-double. Not bad for just his 10th career game.
- Maybe the Toronto Raptors can take notes? They’re now 2-7 following yet another loss. After Saturday night’s spark of hope, in which they set a franchise record for most points scored in a game (144, for those counting), they lost to the Golden State Warriors by one point last night. Nick has some work to do.
🏂Snowboarding: If this weekend’s FIS Snowboard World Cup Big Air competition is any indication of what February’s World Championships will be like, Canadians should be pumped. Olympic silver medalist Max Parrot won the event with a technically perfect showing, while Liam Brearley finished seventh.
- On the women’s side, Jasmine Baird and Laurie Blouin finished 15th and 16th, respectively. Solid results, but still some work to do.
⛸Figure skating: Kudos to Skate Canada for adapting to the new world of virtual *waves hands* everything. Over the weekend, they held the first half of their first ever Skate Canada Challenge, a completely virtual event which allowed skaters to participate via livestream from their empty home arenas. Check out the results here.
🏒Hockey: The Toronto Maple Leafs organization made herstory when they hired the first female equipment manager in North American men’s pro hockey for their AHL team, the Toronto Marlies. Love it!
🏀The WNBA Played a Role in Warnock's Georgia Senate Seat Win
Monday: A day before the Georgia runoff election, the WNBA’s Atlanta Dream shared a video of its players encouraging their Georgian fans to get out and vote for Senate candidate Reverend Raphael Warnock. Now that’s how you leverage momentum.
- The catch? Warnock’s opponent is the Dream’s co-owner, Kelly Loeffler. You may remember her July 2020 letter to the WNBA commissioner, in which she opposed the Black Lives Matter movement and her team’s involvement in it, saying the “political movement” didn’t align with the league’s values. No thank you, please.
Tuesday: The Dream’s ringing endorsement was the push Warnock needed to beat Loeffler and become Georgia’s first-ever Black senator. The players celebrated their owner’s defeat on Twitter, and so did LeBron James, who tweeted his interest in buying the Dream team.
Wednesday: And then yesterday happened. There really aren’t words to accurately capture the day’s essence. As Congress gathered to confirm the presidential election votes, mostly white protestors stormed the Capitol Building in Washington, D.C., vandalizing the historic property in an attempt to disrupt democracy.
- And, like many, the sports world erupted. Teams like the Boston Celtics, Miami Heat, Milwaukee Bucks and Detroit Pistons and athletes including Megan Rapinoe, Dwyane Wade and the Dream’s own Renee Montgomery condemned the acts of domestic terrorism.
The big picture: Similar to these athletes, we can’t help but think about the blatant differences in how yesterday’s rioters were treated compared to the BLM protestors of last summer. Unfortunately, it was yet another demonstration of the impact of divisive leadership and institutionalized racism. Hypocrisy is alive and well.