Hi everybody! This is Gabe Fernandez back on the newsletter game for today. Hope your hump day was a calm one, and you’re entering your Friday Jr. already looking forward to the days ahead.
For the first time in a while, I went to a bar to watch a sports game with a buddy of mine. I forgot just how much I missed the environment of collectively watching an event like that, with strangers that turn out to be good company because of a shared desire for a particular outcome. Granted, it was a bunch of sad O’s fans hoping their team would snap their losing streak, but Baltimore pulled it off, and even the excitement that came from all of that was incredible to be a part of in public again.
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What public sporting activity are you most looking forward to as the summer approaches? Let me know on Twitter.
Today we’ve got some prominent announcements in the basketball coaching world, some playoff updates and Bob Baffert getting hit with a ban hammer. Let’s get it started.
📰 What you need to know
1. Mike Krzyzewski is retiring after next season 🏀
Mike Krzyzewski is preparing to call it a career after this upcoming college basketball season comes to an end, whenever that may be for his Duke squad. To some, he will be remembered for being the stalwart face of arguably the most successful program in modern college basketball history. To others, he’ll be remembered for being the devil incarnate.
Coach K’s replacement has already been named, and it’s Jon Scheyer, a former Duke team captain and the current associate head coach. While he has talent in his own right as a blossoming recruiter and someone who earned a captaincy tenure under Krzyzewski, here’s a glance at the shoes he’ll have to fill with some numbers over the soon-to-be-ex-coach’s career.
Three Naismith College Coach of the Year awardsFive NCAA Tournament titlesFive ACC Coach of the year awards12 Final Four appearances22 seasons with 25+ wins since 199724 straight NCAA Tournaments from 1996 to 201927 combined ACC titles in tournament and regular season competition97 NCAA Tournament wins1,170 wins
College basketball will soon be without two of its most prominent figures as Krzyzewski joins now-former in-state rival Roy Williams in retiring from the sport. Coach K will certainly give his reasons during his next major media appearance, but what we’ve got for now as to why he’s stepping away is that the changing landscape of the sport reportedly “sped up his timeline” towards retirement.
Of course, it’s worth noting that Krzyzewski expressed support of name, image and likeness legislation in California in 2019, so, again, who really knows.
For the haters, this will be arguably the most annoying college basketball season because it will be dedicated entirely to the victory lap of one of the most hated coaches in the sport’s history for five straight months. The only thing that people like that can hold on to — myself included as a Maryland guy — is the possibility of a perfectly Krzyzewski-esque ending of a first-round exit as a No. 2-seed in the tournament against a No. 15-seed mid-major.
For a more glowing eulogy of Coach K’s career, check out what Gary Parrish wrote about the Duke legend here.
2. Brad Stevens at center of Celtics’ front office changes 🏀
After failing to make the NBA Finals for the eighth straight year under his tenure, the Boston Celtics are making a much-needed coaching change, and moving on from Brad Stevens. OK, fine, that’s twisting the reality of what happened. Stevens is leaving his position as head coach, and moving up the corporate ladder to become the Celtics’ President of Basketball Operations. Danny Ainge is stepping down from that role.
Usually when a coach takes on such a position, it’s usually as a dual role where they remain head coach as well — think Stan Van Gundy in Detroit as a recent example — but Stevens has been feeling burnt out from coaching lately, especially after the Orlando bubble the NBA Playoffs were held in last year.
Both men are leaving sizable holes to fill, with Ainge having masterminded the 2008 Celtics title team before tearing that team down and rebuilding with a bright future that took a LeBron-led squad to seven games in 2018. Stevens, meanwhile, finishes his Celtics tenure with a 354-282 record, three trips to the Eastern Conference finals in the last four years, and a postseason appearance in all but one of his seasons.
And now for the fun part: the rumors. Ainge’s name has reportedly been swirling near the Utah Jazz, the West’s top seed this season. The rumors for Stevens’ replacement include some interesting names, so let’s do a quick hater’s guide to them. For a more level-headed analysis of those rumored individuals, read Jasmyn Wimbish’s piece here.
Jason Kidd: Was the Bucks head coach until Milwaukee found another guy to lead that team to a second-round exit. The highlight of his coaching career was spilling a soda on the court. He also comes with a history of serious off-court issuesChauncey Billups: The point guard of a team that won an NBA title in a different city that played a style that was so unwatchable that the league stepped in to change the rules and prevent them from winning it all againLloyd Pierce: He was fired midseason by the Hawks, and the team has only flourished ever since his departureIme Udoka: Serial assistant under Gregg Popovich, Brett Brown and Steve Nash3. Hawks, Sixers and Jazz take care of business 🏀
The New York Knicks’ fairy tale season has come to an end, and the murderer was Trae Young. Sure, he wasn’t his best on Wednesday, but his performance was still impressive in its own right in Game 5 — he scored 36 points and dished out nine assists — and the Knicks had no answer for him throughout the entirety of the series.
Jack Maloney, another one of our basketball scribes here at CBS Sports, put together a collection of takeaways from not just the final game of the series, but the series itself. Here’s a preview of one of them, which highlights a player who did his fair amount of trash-talking prior to Wednesday’s game — and backed it all up.
Maloney: “In the series-clinching Game 5 on Wednesday, [Clint] Capela put up 14 points, 14 rebounds and two blocks in the type of performance that exemplified his impact. With his rim-running skills, he’s the perfect partner for Trae Young in the pick-and-roll, and on the other end of the floor he’s a serious presence in the paint. The Knicks couldn’t get anything going at the rim because Capela was always there to block or alter their shots … As they move on to face the Sixers, the Hawks are going to need another big series from Capela, especially if Embiid is able to play.”
Speaking of Embiid, even though he didn’t see the floor Wednesday due to a knee injury, his Sixers still defeated the Wizards, 129-112, to move on. Ben Simmons got a triple-double with 19 points, 11 assists and 10 rebounds, while Tobias Harris and Seth Curry led the way in scoring with 28 and 30 points, respectively.
In the west, the Jazz absolutely whopped the Grizzlies, 126-110 and the Mavs put the Clippers on the brink and lead the series, 3-2.
4. Bob Baffert suspended from Churchill Downs for two years 🏇
The most recognizable name and face in horse racing will not be allowed at the most famous track and event in the sport. Bob Baffert’s two-year suspension comes as a result of his Kentucky Derby-winning horse, Medina Spirit, failing a drug test after winning the Race for the Roses.
Here’s a portion of the statement that Bill Carstanjen, CEO of Churchill Downs Incorporated, gave Wednesday.
“Mr. Baffert’s record of testing failures threatens public confidence in thoroughbred racing and the reputation of the Kentucky Derby. Given these repeated failures over the last year, including the increasingly extraordinary explanations, we firmly believe that asserting our rights to impose these measures is our duty and responsibility.”
If you’ll remember, Baffert went through a roller coaster of responses in regards to his horse testing positive for a type of steroid after the Kentucky Derby. He began with a persecution complex, bizarrely claiming that this was because someone was out to get him, then relented and admitted fault a day later.
This is not even as bad as things could get for the Hall of Fame trainer, as Medina Spirit could also lose its Kentucky Derby title and be disqualified. If that is the case, the winner of the race would then be Mandaloun.
📝 Odds & Ends
📺 What to watch tonight
🏒 Bruins vs. Islanders, 7:30 p.m. | NYI +115 | TV: NBCSN
🏀 Nuggets vs. Trail Blazers, 8 p.m. I POR -200 I TV: TNT
🏀 Suns vs. Lakers, 10:30 p.m. I LAL -135 I TV: TNT
Best thing I saw on the internet 🏅
While Lou Gehrig Day might have been yesterday, you should still check out some quotes from this sit-down interview the Yankees legend gave shortly after what would be his final game of pro baseball.