Last Week in Sports (2/26 – 3/4)
Kobe is winning awards, Phil Mickelson is winning tournaments, and JR Smith is pissed. Nope, it’s not 2010, it’s last week in sports!
J.R. Smith is Soup-er Frustrated
It wouldn’t be news in itself that J.R. Smith, a notedly temperamental talent, threw his soup at assistant coach Damon Jones on Thursday if it wasn’t perfectly symbolic of how the Cavs are struggling. They’ve lost 4 of their last 6 with this revamped roster, and even the wins aren’t much to write home about. To beat the Brooklyn Nets on Tuesday, they needed LeBron active for almost the entirety of the game, notching a triple double, and only barely managed a win. They may just be missing the injured Kevin Love more than everyone suspects, but some are catching scent of a irreparably weak team culture. Smith was suspended for Thursday night’s game and returned on Saturday to post an impressive 19 points on 7 of 12 shooting. Still, the Cavs lost to Denver by 9.
Shaquem Griffin and the Combine
The NFL Scouting Combine is popping off in Indianapolis with days 1 through 3 highlighting a surprise star. Shaquem Griffin, the LB from last year’s undefeated UCF team, posted an ungodly 4.38 second 40 yard dash on Sunday – the fastest for a linebacker since 2003, and the fastest for a 225+ pound linebacker this millennium.
Griffin also managed to record 20 bench press reps. That’s not an especially impressive number without considering the fact that he did so with his prosthetic left hand. Griffin lost his hand at the age of 4 but didn’t allow that to stop him from becoming a high impact college player, recording 44 solo tackles and 7.0 sacks at UCF last season. Even considering his impressive numbers in college, Griffin came into the combine an underdog and left with tremendous value. Here’s Pete Carroll’s reaction to his 40 yard dash:
Pete Carroll’s reaction to Shaquem Griffin’s 4.38 pic.twitter.com/YH3SwMcfLS
— Cameron DaSilva (@camdasilva) March 4, 2018
Surprises outside of the show-stealing Shaquem included when Wyoming’s Josh Allen threw nearly 70 yards to show off his stunning arm strength. Allen also posted a 4.75 second 40 yard dash and a 33.5-inch vertical – both fantastic for a gargantuan 237-pound quarterback.
Still, Bradley Chubb and Saquon Barkley had the best overall performances and solidified their NFL futures in a way no other players managed to. Chubb ran a 4.65 second 40, benched 24 reps, recorded a 36-inch vertical and 121-inch broad jump.
Barkley, meanwhile, had a historic combine. He dropped a 4.4 second 40 (a new record for a running back his size), benched 29 reps, and recorded a 41-inch vertical jump. According to NFL Research, that’s a faster 40 yard dash than Devin Hester, more bench reps than Joe Thomas, and a higher vertical jump than Julio Jones. Woah.
Phil Mickelson’s Show Must Go On
After almost five years and 97 tournaments since his last win, the now 47 year old golf legend beat young gun Justin Thomas in a sudden-death playoff to take home the WGC-Mexico Championship. The match was not without drama. Thomas took a two-shot lead with an eagle on the final hole, but Mickelson birdied twice in the last three holes to tie it up. In the sudden death par 3, Thomas lost out to Mickelson’s par with a bogey. Without the power he had in his early years, Mickelson relies on a vigorous short game, devastating once he’s within 20 yards or so of the hole.
After the win, Mickelson showed off his fluent Spanish while signing autographs and promised to win seven more tournaments before he retires.
Kobe Wins an Oscar
A poem penned in retirement to his greatest love, Kobe Bryant’s “Dear Basketball” took home the Oscar for Best Animated Short Film on Sunday night. The film itself features absolutely striking hand-drawn animation that captures the spirit and movement of the sport like nothing we’ve seen before. Bryant adds this win to his impressive trophy case, becoming the first person to win an NBA Championship and an Academy Award.