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Steph bests Sabrina in their three-point shootout

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The better player won. Steph Curry beat Sabrina Ionescu in their 3-point showdown at the NBA’s All Star Skills contest last night, 29-26.

But don’t look at it as a good player beating a bad player, look at it as an extremely talented, generational player beating another extremely talented, generational player. Two players whose shots seemingly lock onto the basket. Two players who respect each other’s game and cheer each other on. Ionescu was not defeated, she just didn’t win.

It’s bigger than just a shootout. Curry was her idol as a kid who grew up in the Bay Area. From as young as 10, Ionescu had her eyes set on being a game changer, much like her idol, and she has done that regardless of what happened in their contest. She was one of the all-time greatest college basketball players, will probably be in the conversation for one of the best WNBA players, and transformed a struggling New York Liberty into a title contender with just her presence.

Don’t say she sucks, don’t say women can’t compete with men. Don’t say she should have taken her personal advantage of shooting at WNBA lines, because if she won there, no one would be happy and say it was a set up. Don’t try to discredit her, you’ll just end up sounding like Kenny Smith on the broadcast. Yeah, she used the WNBA ball because it’s what she’s used to, but the ball or the lines or the graphics on the court are not the reason she lost. She scored the same amount of points as the finalists of the regular 3-point contest.

I think the best person to look to for how you should react after watching the shootout is Curry himself, who said, “This could not have gone any better in the sense of us two taking the chance in front of this stage, one round, with all the hype, and to deliver like that, she set the bar. It was unbelievable to watch,” after his win.

You don’t have to be a fan of the WNBA after this either. You don’t have to watch a single game if you don’t want to, but if you want to see a bunch of talented players just like her, spend some time watching over the summer.

“If you can shoot, you can shoot. Doesn’t matter if you are a boy or girl,” Ionescu said.

It’s Tyrese Haliburton’s world, and we are just living in it

Team Pacers already had home-court advantage for the All-Star Game in Indianapolis. When they competed for the title of the skills challenge against a team made up of first overall picks and a trio of all-stars, of course Tyrese Haliburton had to turn up the heat and let everyone know how much fun he was having.

He started his night by dunking in the final part of the agility/obstacle course (or whatever you want to call whatever that was) and, after making his way through, helped his teammates win the tiebreaker of the passing contest over team All-Stars by two points, and then he hit a half court shot in the shooting contest and won the tie breaker half court shot with a smile on his face, all while doing Reggie Miller’s choke celly to win the whole damn thing.

It is the exact performance he needed to have. He is already having a career season, and it’s only the middle of it. Remember when he did the Dame Time celly earlier this season right at Damian Lillard? What about when he dropped 44 points in Miami? He has emerged this season as one of the best point guards in the league with great point production, efficient defense, and quality ball movement. Let the guy have some fun, he has earned it.

Home team shines Stadium Series

New Jersey Devils captain Nico Hischier scored 32 seconds into the game. Jack Hughes returned to the lineup, Bruce Springsteen’s E Street Band drummer hyped up the crowd, the Jonas Brothers performed, and the Devils won. Nothing is more Jersey than that.

NHL honors history like no one else

Every year for the last 20 or so, the NHL has done one thing consistently — host an outdoor game.

There is always the Winter Classic, hosted on New Years Day. There is the Heritage Classic, played amongst the teams located in Canada (except for the one year the Buffalo Sabres were in it) to pay homage to some of the legendary franchises and the long-lasting history the league has, and more recently, the Stadium Series. This weekend, four teams traveled the worst highways, bridges and tunnels in America to convene in East Rutherford, NJ to play outdoors, under the lights, at Metlife Stadium.

Last night was Flyers-Devils, today will be Rangers-Islanders.

Watching the Stadium Series had me thinking, why does the NHL do this? Other than the fact of the spectacle of it all, getting to watch an outdoor game at a football stadium with some new jersey designs and bigger stickers on their helmets, what is the point?

The most obvious answer is history. Hockey started out on a frozen pond in Canada, and has evolved into the sport we know it to be today. Hockey as a sport really hasn’t changed much throughout its history. It’s always been a sport where you play with a puck and skate around on ice. As time has gone on, technology has gotten better, equipment has improved and rules have changed, but the core of the sport has stayed the same. It’s always been played on 200 feet of ice and with a puck and a net. I don’t think any other league really honors or values its tradition in the same way that hockey does.

Lots of sports are looking forward, which isn’t bad, but it’s just different. The NHL looks back at its history in a way that I can’t really think of any other league doing. The next closest is the MLB, playing at Rickwood Field this season, to honor baseball’s history and as a tribute to the Negro Leagues.

But the NFL is looking to play internationally and the NBA has played overseas here and there. Maybe it is harder for those leagues to play a game that reflects on the growth of their sport while paying its respects to its inception because they have changed so much from where they started, but the NHL has figured out the formula and have done it well consistently for decades.

History is a big part of sports, and deserves to be honored. Things like retiring jerseys, Hall of Fame inductions, rings of honor and whatever else is good to honor the people who created history, but no one honors the game itself better than the NHL.



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